Saturday, December 26, 2009

AVATAR's message

Before going home this Christmas, my suitor (tehee!! ('0') and I agreed to meet before I went home for the Christmas break. Avatar is the movie that came to my mind. As I was already trying to nap for not to miss the good scenes of the movie on last full show when I remembered I promised a friend to attend her spaghetti party.Oh no! I almost forgot! So I was hesitant to pursue watching Avatar since dinner and videoke after was the plan.

It’s already the start of the holidays, parties here and there, friends did not arrive to the spag party. And since I’ll be going home the next day and surely my suitor will miss me (haha!), so I excused myself for the videoke session. Three friends already watched the movie during the day and they were raving bout it. Worth your time and money, they said. Hmmm…I really need to see it for myself then.

9:45PM. There was already a line in Cinema 3 in NCCC for AVATAR. Young and Young once. It’s a good sign. We got a good seat at the center and after sitting, two kids sat beside us. When the story started to unfold, I was in awe. I can relate to the struggle of the Na’vi, fighting for Pandora and the rich resources they have that the Earth people desperately needs. This is what I have been writing about ancestral domain struggle of indigenous peoples and I am watching it on the big screen!

The time is set on 2154 wherein Earthlings has already used up the resources and is now on the look-out for another sources. Pandora, a moon roughly the same size as Earth contains minerals worth $20 Million per kilo! That’s a lot of money so a corporation is set to conquer it at all costs!

At first they have tried “peaceful” means to ‘subjugate’ the Na’vi’s by ‘educating’ them, teaching them English (reminds me of American's benevolent assimilation..hhmm..). But they could not let them say yes for their project to extract the precious minerals. To do it, they found another brilliant military strategy. By the aid of science, they were able to clone and create mind-controlled avatars that resembles the Na’vi’s in every way.

Here comes Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington), a paralyzed ex-Marine who tried to fill his brothers’ shoes and wanted to make his own mark; took his brother’s avatar and was encouraged by Col. Miles Quaritch to study the ways of the “savages” and help them to gather information to make a direct and ‘easy’ strategy of extracting the minerals.

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully

In the end, after taking all the necessary lessons to learn the Navi’s ways, Jake learned they are not ‘savages” at all. He fell in love with Neytiri (the daughter of the Navi’s head chief) and was in dilemma to pursue his promise to Col. Quatrich (and Quatrich's promise of new legs for him) and for the Earth people or to fight for The People of Pandora. He was already accepted to the tribe and he's in quandary. Is destroying Pandora will be worth for the new legs? Can he betray The People? The information he gave was used. He betrayed the Na' vis. He regretted it and to repay their good deeds, he led the Navi armies during Col. Quatrich's attack. He even hunt the great dragon and led other Na 'vi hunters for the war.

Good thing, Jake is being supported by other good-natured scientists and pilot (played by Michelle Rodriguez, a Fil-Am actress).

Jake and Neytiri

The minerals is located at the heart of Pandora, under the oldest and ‘Tree of Souls’ that is the source of life of all life forms in the forest. Dr. Grace Agustine, the head researcher and writer of a book about the Na’vis understood the interrelationships of lifeforms in Pandora and tried to stop Parker Selfriedge (Giovanni Ribisi), the corporate guy from destroying the forest. But greed and profit is strong. Military were deployed and attacked the area. But the Na’ vi’s never stop fighting. The Na Vi’s organized the other tribes and fought hard. So many lives were lost. But through The People, The Na’Vi’s strong resistance and unity of tribes and even animals to be affected by the destruction, they won.

Despite the three-hour rolling, there are no boring scenes. The filming of the movie itself was delayed since James Cameron, the director waited for the technology to be perfected. He wanted to use a photo-realistic computer-generated characters by using motion-capture animation technology. The film also used the newly developed stereoscopic camera. And the output is really excellent. The illuminating tree where Eywa (the Na’Vi goddess) and the ancestors reside is spellbinding. It showed a more enhanced cinematography.

"It's this form of pure creation where if you want to move a tree or a mountain or the sky or change the time of day, you have complete control over the elements."
—James Cameron on virtual filmmaking

The movie has an overt message against extractive industries that caused global climate change. Jame Cameron is an environmentalist and he said in an interview that “industrialist society’ has destroyed societies faster than we are able to identify species. He also referred to the war that United States had waged to Iraq, Vietnam and its colonial period to emphasize the fact that humans have a "terrible history" of "entitlement" in which we "take what we need" from nature and indigenous peoples "and don't give back." (Yahoo Movies interview)

The movie is also a reflection of the struggle of the indigenous peoples and rural communities in the hinterlands of Mindanao. Mining and other ‘development projects” is lnked with militarization and human rights violations; pitting lumads against lumads. The movie also showed the military and corporations cooperation to pursue the destruction. In our case here in Mindanao, this current administration is guilty of using the military in “protecting the interests of the investors”- Oplan Bantay Laya, Investment Defense Force, EastMinCom-AFP, 10th Infantry Division-AFP, and Task Force Gantangan.

I’m thankful for James Cameron- for the visual treat and for mainstreaming social issues like global climate change, human rights violations and indigenous peoples issues on land and mineral resources ownership.

AVATAR is an activist’s dream movie. I strongly recommend it for kids and the kids at heart.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays (writing from my Hometown)

It's Christmas season again.

A time to rejuvenate, to spend time with our loved ones and to celebrate the birth of Christ, our redeemer.

And I'm back in my hometown, together with my sister, my aunts and cousins. Enjoying the holidays and babysitting in between! ('0')

I hope you have a wonderful time also with your family. Don't overeat to avoid the bulges. A blessed 2010 for all of us.

See you next year friends!

Monday, December 7, 2009

OverActing Incompetent Government

Martial Law has been declared in Maguindanao!

We still vividly remembered Proclamation 1021 on September 21, 1972. It's etched on my memory (thanks to my History quizzes) and I assume, to every Filipino who lived through the cruelty and abuse of military power.

The Big Mole in the Universe decided to declare Proclamation No. 1959 putting the Province of Maguindanao in well, martial law. It means suspension of writ of habeaus corpus, meaning anyone can be arrested.

It says that " WHEREAS, R.A. No. 6986 provides that "the crime of rebellion or insurrection is committed by rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of xxx depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.”

The reason is rebellion in the province. And according to the said proclamation, rebellion is defined in RA 6986. The last time we've checked, RA 6986 is entitled "AN ACT ESTABLISHING A HIGH SCHOOL IN BARANGAY DULOP, MUNICIPALITY OF DUMINGAG, PROVINCE OF ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, TO BE KNOWN AS THE DULOP HIGH SCHOOL, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFORE"! (thanks to Dean Leonen's very keen eyes).

That's how lousy this government gets.

And to define the 57 massacre as rebellion is Katangahan! Common sense would tell us, rebellion is overthrowing a government, a coup 'd etat. In Article 134 of the Revised penal code,

"The crime of rebellion or insurrection is committed by rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or nay part thereof, of any body of land, naval, or other armed forces, or depriving the chief executive or the legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives."

The Ampatuans were the government, the reigning kings in their little kingdom and abused their prerogatives as representatives of the people. It is the State's weak police powers and the inefficacy of the government who wishes to cover its crimes. By Martial Law after all, is secrecy rather than transparency on investigation of the Ampatuan Massacre. See full text of the Big Mole in the Universe's report on PD 1959.

The Ampatuan Massacre should NEVER be used as a precedent for a national Martial Law. This is a condition setting of sorts. Remember what Fidel Ramos and Enrile had to do in order for Mackoy to be able to legitimize and declare PD 1971? The 'rebellion' was a staged act.A performance.

Now, welcome to 2009! This current administration under the Big Mole in this Universe likes to take a repeat performance perhaps, to cling more in power. To cover 'legally' its direct relation to the Ampatuans that it coddled and now became a monster.

Dean Marvic Leonen asked these questions:
what can a declaration of martial law add to solve the situation based on the alleged factual bases in the report? who are these unverified sources? will martial law provide the environment to investigate how a political clan acquired Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines ammunition? what is the voting population of Maguindanao? Had the searches been without a warrant in private property assuring that they are inadmissible in evidence?

We should never let ourselves be deceived by this. Let me also share Dean MArvic Leonen's statement of Proclamation of Martial Law in Maguindanao

Martial Law is Not a Substitute for Competent Police Work:
Statement on the Reported Proclamation of Martial Law in Maguindanao

Marvic M.V.F. Leonen
Dean and Professor of Law
University of the Philippines

The heinous massacre of civilians in Ampatuan, Maguindanao deserves competence of the highest order in the gathering, preserving and evaluation of evidence as well as in the subsequent arrest and prosecution of its perpetrators. It should also be the platform for a sober approach that will comprehensively address the issue of private armies of misguided politicians. Any meaningful solution should be led by civilians preferably those who can remain independent of influence from national public officials who have openly declared partisan interests in the upcoming election.

The reported declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao should be assessed in this light as well as in terms of its compliance with the very stringent requirements contained in the 1987 Constitution.

The President should also observe an extraordinary level of transparency and accountability with this declaration. She must clearly demonstrate why martial law needs to be declared. The proclamation of Martial Law can be used as a means to gain unfair advantage in the upcoming elections or as an excuse to declare a failure of elections contrary to the people’s will. The need for transparency and accountability is even more urgent given the unnecessary proclamation from the spokespersons of the Office of the President that the incumbent has remained “friends” with those widely suspected of having committed the atrocities in Mindanao. The need for transparency and accountability is also necessary in the light of the role of the suspected perpetrators in the controversies surrounding the 2004 elections.

Under the 1987 Constitution, martial law can only be declared in cases of invasion or rebellion and only when public safety demands it. Rebellion requires that there is at least a taking up of arms publicly directed against an existing government. Martial law cannot be declared because the state has failed to prevent massive human rights violations by leaders that the national government itself has nurtured. Martial law cannot be proclaimed to cover up the lack of professional competence in the gathering, preservation, evaluation of evidence and in the arrest and detention of the perpetrators. Martial law is also not the proper legal response to the issuance of a writ of amparo in favor of the Ampatuan family.

A report on how the proclamation was executed must be made within 48 hours of its proclamation to both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Congress must convene within 24 hours after it is proclaimed. Any proclamation of martial law by the President can only have a maximum effectivity of 60 days. This can be revoked (or extended) by Congress. Any revocation by Congress cannot be overturned by the President. In case martial law has been proclaimed, the electoral ambitions of all members of the House of Representatives and the Senate should be put aside so that they can observe their obligations required in the Constitution.

The proclamation of martial law does not supplant the civilian bureaucracy. It does not supplant the operation of the Constitution including its provisions for the protection of individual and collective rights. It does not supplant the operations of local government nor the fact that local governance is subject to existing law. Martial law does not automatically suspend the writ of habeas corpus or justify illegal arrests and detention. In other words, it is not authority for the Commander in Chief or the military to replace civilian government. Certainly, the public should be encouraged to engage the courts should there be any violation of any provision of law or the constitution.

Abuse of executive privilege will only tarnish the memories of those who have been martyred by the violent excesses of misguided public officials. I call for vigilance for competent, transparent, accountable government as well as for the protection of human rights of peoples in Mindanao.

Quezon City, December 5, 2009

Provisions in Article VII of the 1987 Constitution

“Sec. 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

“The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without any need of a call.

“The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.

“A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or the legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ.

“The suspension of the privilege of the writ shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with the invasion.

“During the suspension of the privilege of the writ, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.”

Big Mole in the Universe and your Cohorts, NEVER AGAIN!

truly happy and at peace

I have made the wrong decisions last year that continued until this year. It was never a good start. As this year is about to end, I realized I have to make a major decision to correct what was wrong.

I said it was wrong since it had caused pain to someone (unintentionally, indirectly) I did not even personally know. I also started to expect, to make demands when everything is still in a blur. And it did hurt me. I was happy, but there were thoughts that keeps nagging me. Happiness is not real if there is pretensions. That's why I decided to end it.

It was hard. I cried. But after a week, I slowly gain confidence and self- respect. I was able to reconnect with that person I did not personally know but somehow know she and I could have been better friends. Slowly, thanks to Facebook. We were able to laugh with our lunacy.

To someone, the friendship remained but in another dimension. In a clean slate.

My mind and heart is at peace. ♥

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

unsent letter


Two days after that eventful night, I am still battling the urge to see you again. I know sooner or later, we will meet again. We are working in the same circle, after all. I am trying to be unaffected. I just wish my heart would stop bleeding.

Lately, I pick up the habit of putting earphones. I don't like earphones, it might hurt my ear drums. I just use my earphones during long travels or when jogging. But now, I'm using it to stop myself from thinking, to preoccupy my mind with music. Music heals the soul, as the saying goes. I hope so. But the irony is, you have been a good influence in my music choice lately. You have introduced me to the 80s music, rock music, to Rage Against the Machine, The Youth, Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Last night, I opened the radio and 21 Guns was played.You like that song. And as much as I wanted to stop myself, tears started to fall.*sigh*

I am still affected. You asked if I would just remain, not far, still a friend. Yes, the friendship will remain. I hope so. But I am taking a step backward. I did not mean to offend you. I just don't want my emotions taking over my rationality this time.

I was hurt. I felt like an easy prey, so naive thinking you would finally decide to move forward with me. I was thinking of only two reasons: (1) you do not have the strength to take whatever we have on the next level, to take responsibility of our feelings (2) you just don't want to move forward with me. Plain and simple. Reason 2 seems more rational Have I told you that you were my first heartbreak? Haha! Pathetic, I know.

Maybe that's why I could not handle this with grace. That could be a childish way to look at the circumstances. I don't know. I don't know what's your take. You are not telling me. I thought it would be easy for us to talk about these things. It isn't.

Maybe we met because of a certain purpose. Perhaps, I have been a good influence to you; that meeting you will test my will and maturity. I just hope I was able to share optimism with you.

Yes, sooner or later we'll meet again in person. If that time comes, I will be prepared and in control of my emotion.

Slowly.To recovery.


Communicating Peace and Mindanao to mainstream Media

I was still enjoying my self-declared holiday when our admin officer texted me that I need to attend a forum sponsored by Mindanao Economic Development Council (MedCo) and it would be greatly beneficial for a communication arts graduate like me.

Venue: Cafe El Gato, Rancho Palos Verde. Hmmm. Place unknown for me.

The swimming pool at the clubhouse. I would really love to take a swim if not for P110 pesos fee! (Actually it was only for exclusive use of members).

It was inside the premises of Davao Butterfly Garden and the Crocodile Park. Two places I haven't been to. Pathetic! hehe

and since the venue is near the crocodile park, look what's on their menu.

Croc meats!

So what transpired during the event? It was quite intriguing and at the same time timely, since Mindanao, Maguindanao in particularly is in the bad light again. How can we communicators link the gap with reality and sensationalism? How can we communicators from Mindanao bridge the gap between Manila and Mindanao media?
So let me share a narrative report I made.

Day 1

The event was graced by communication consultant and media relations experts from Metro Manila. Mr. Marcelino Ballesteros, a professor in Asian institute for Journalism (AIJC) and communications management consultant discussed how to manage communication resources. He talked about the importance of resources like money, human resources, time and the new media. Other resources both intangible and tangible was also tackled. Networks, media, professional memberships and other intangible resources such as image and reputation, credibility, goodwill and experience are important in communicating well our messages to another person. He stressed the importance of having these resources and maintaining it for future partnerships. Since the resource person used to work for IBM-Phils., he shared some of his experience in media relations and corporate activities and the integral role of communications.

He was also the resource person for crisis management and communication wherein he tackled foreseeing the future by reviewing past events. He also reiterated the importance of close media relations in times of crisis particularly in corporations are important in maintaining the image and credibility. Preparing for crisis to come is also very crucial yet sadly, 80% of our government agencies do not have any crisis communications planning as shown by handling of the previous disasters. Setting up the crisis communication plan which will set the guidelines when that eventual situation happens. Preparation and even post-mortem and future crises is important for survival and rehabilitation.

The next resource speaker is Teng Reyes-Castillo, who used to work for Growth and Equity for Mindanao (GEM) and according to her resume, was responsible for the creation of Mindanao section in every newspapers. She's also a PR consultant. She discussed the publicity, public relations, and maintaining the relationship with the press. She also shared 15 ways how to get the stories printed.

During the open forum, the issue on the thin line between maintaining media relations such as gift-giving and being equated to bribery was discussed. To this, Amy Cabusao answered that she advised her staff in Mindanao Times not to accept gifts. She also defended Mindanao media practitioners, aside from the unscrupulous ones, as persons who are dedicated to their work.

The recent Ampatuan massacre has been the topic for the day too, knowing many journalists has been killed from the said convoy. A moment of silence were offered for them. And again, Mindanao is in the limelight for the atrocities done. Mindanao's image and peace building efforts are being tested again.,

In the afternoon, panelists are from print media, bloggers, film and television and young Moro Professionals. Mr. Bloggie Robillo, one of the founders of Mindanao Bloggers, a loose group of Mindanawon bloggers in the island who aims to promote and talk about issues in Mindanao. (FYI: Sir Pete Laviña was one of the members of the core group who conceptualized gathering Mindanawon bloggers). Robillo also shared the previous holdings of Mindanao Bloggers Summit (MBS) in Mindanao (first in Davao City, followed in Gensan and just last October in Cagayan de Oro. The 4th MBS will be on Zamboanga). Blogging for tourism promotion and food appreciations tours are regularly conducted. He was also the resource speaker in Hong Kong for the gathering of Asia-Pacific bloggers and software developers. He emphasized the role of blogging, not necessarily sugarcoating, but presenting Mindanao as it is through individual and collective initiatives of bloggers is important in spreading information through the lens of the inhabitants of the islands.

Amy Cabusao, the editor-in-chief of Mindanao Times shared also the commitment of Mindanao media decision-makers- editors, radio and television station mangers to uphold their role as source of information. The media who reports the news, does not only shows but can also “distort” reality. On their own initiatives, they have been holding their own media summits with different annual themes. For this year, they held the 5th Mindanao media Summit in Cagayan de Oro with the theme: “Elections 2010: Vote for Change, Vote for Peace”. She also shared their frustrations of Mindanao reportage by their Manila counterparts. But she also shared the local initiatives and partnership with community- based media in info dissemination.

Samira Gutoc, the co-convenor of Young Moro Professional, shared her view show communicators promote peace and development in Mindanao. As a correspondent for, she shared that indeed, there is a need to bridge Mindanao and Manila Media. A short historical overview of Phil. media was presented and how it evolved and the bad coverage Mindanao always get. She also attended Media Nation wherein they were able to gather major mass media gatekeepers and how they view Mindanao and the framing of the stories coming from the island. It seems that there is a low demand and interest in Mindanao stories in the mainstream, not unless it is all about gore and war. Bias and prejudice and lack of educations remain to be the reason. There is always a tendency to “exoticize” the island by generalizing it. The aborted MOA-AD; the lack of knowledge in the peace process and Muslim concerns are also considered as “hard sell”. A woman's face in peace negotiations is also lacking.

In the field of Film and television, Mr. Dax Cañedo talked about the initiative of local artists to come out of a distinctly Mindanawon cinema. The head of Davao Alchemy Lights and Vision and co-convenor of Mindanao Film and Television Development Foundation, he shared the rich and diverse narratives in the island that is untapped. Locally produced movies in vernacular is slowly gaining recognition in the international festivals. Sadly, they are also facing promotional problems to the audience since they have to compete with the “internationally-savvy” movies. Next year, the group plans to show the movies in schools for bigger audience and also to promote it to the youth.

The panelists L-R (Amy CAbusao, Dax Canedo, Samira Guto and Bloggie Robillo)

Day 2

Fr. Bert Alejo presented the results of the consultation conducted by Konsult Mindanaw as commissioned by the Bishop's Ulama Council (BUC). At the heart of the controversy of the controversial MOA-AD document the lack of communication. After the aborted signing of MOA-AD, Malacañang tapped BUC to conduct a consultation in the communities. The BUC, on the other hand choose a “neutral group” and decided to tap the academe.

Fr. Bert Alejo, Konsult Mindanaw's Project Coordinator

One of the issue thrown is the source of fund for the consultation. But Fr. Bert defended that they “will not be influenced by the source of fund” and in order to avoid issue, they proposed that they will only make the research design and another group would implement it. But the BUC ask them to do both.

The consultation, according to him is the “sincere response to people's desire participation in th peace process.” The questions anchored on the visions of peace, the GRP-MILF Peace talks, on broader peace process and personal commitment of the people in peacebuilding. He shared the findings of the consultation (Please see attached ppt. presentation.)
Based on the findings, they recommended the following:
1.Sincerity – This are clearly manifested in reforms; the OPAPP's mandate should be also reviewed.
2.Communication- there is a need for a comprehensive media and communication program. OPAPP had one but it was too late for implementation. It was formulated and presented on July 2008 while the signing of MOA-AD was scheduled on August 4. The research proposes to start the communication program by using MOA-AD document as the reference. Secrecy of the negotiations did not work. There is an ICG (international Contact Group) but how about a Local Contact Group? There is a need for parallel, horizontal and even vertical communication. Two substantive issues were also raised by the Supreme Court in the constitutionality of MOA-AD. First, is the process. So what constitutes a legitimate consultation to get SC's approval? Is BUC's Konsult Mindanaw's 300+ groups consulted enough?
3.A Coalition of Consultation Studies Group – Fr. Bert proposes for all NGOs and other groups who already conducted consultations to converge and meet.

Peace has a political and social dimension.

In the afternoon session, speakers are from a national media and correspondent in international media.

Carlos Conde, a freelance correspondent for The New York Times and International Herald Tribune shared his thoughts on what are the international media's impressions on peace and development stories coming from Mindanao. He grew up in Mindanao and used to be a writer for Sunstar. The following are the snippets of his talk:
- Peacebuilding needs blending.
- The recent Ampatuan massacre could be an opportunity to discuss Mindanao problem or we can live it as a hiccup Mindanao subject itself every now and then.
- When you stay in a place long enough, you were not able to see the big picture.
writing for international audience is hard but it is also an opportunity.
- Mindanao is not just a Public Relations problem. There is no way we can present the good news of Mindanao without telling the stories of violence. Apart from the good news, do not ignore the bad news but try to explain it. It is crucial that we try to reach to them (media) and be candid about it.
- We cannot detach Mindanao problem from the national government.
Mindanao is not just an angle (in making the article/story); but for a complex region like Mindanao it should be more than that. If you are a communicator, try to engage the journalist, try to enliven him/her, try to develop into a good source of information and a good relationship with him/her.

The next speaker was from Newsbreak of ABS-CBN, Lala Rimando.

- “Readers appetite” for story. We only pattern our style according to their appetite.
- We journalists need someone who's credible and we can go to anytime for information.
- We need a story that “sells”. Important also to consider several factors to determine if your story is “newsworthy”: timeliness, scope. interest.
- There are lost of peace and development stories in Mindanao but at the back of our mind, we have to think if the story would sell.
- It is the nature and structure of media to be that way. they had to shock the audiences in order for them to grab a copy or read the story.
online media change the dynamics of the newsroom.
- communications should assess traditional media. Take advantage of the power of the web to influence agenda.

Day 2 panelists (L-R) Carlos Conde, Lala Rimando and Fr. Bert

In the afternoon, a focus group discussion was conducted to be incorporated for Mindanao 2020 of MedCo. Minda2020 is a Peace and Development Imperative, a plan that will set development imperatives in Mindanao for the next 11 years. The participants were asked to share its vision for Mindanao in the next 20 years, what are the important things or reforms to be done. Most of the participants shared their views, majority are still hopeful for sustainability of Mindanao and the importance of good governance in the island. While two or three participants, sees more devastation for the island if there are no crucial reforms in education, environmental protection and people's behavior.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Conflicts Resolution and Hope For Reconciliation

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” -Jimi Hendrix

These past days, we have been hearing the names Ampatuans, Mangudadatu, Maguindanao, massacre, death everyday. I for one has been saturated of the gruesome pictures and this barbaric act. Sadly, this week is also the Celebration of Mindanao's Week of Peace, an annual event that highlights peace initiatives from all over the world. The event has been mired down by this event but the peace builders and advocates will not be hampered. This event showed us that in the process of conflict, there is hope for mediation and regaining strength to plant peace.

This year's PEACE ON TOUR has several workshop sessions to understand fully ourselves and how to deal with intra and interpersonal conflicts.

So yesterday, my office mates and I were invited to join sharing on personal conflicts and meeting a person living with HIV/AIDS at ALAGAD-Mindanao's office in Kamuning St., Juna Subdivision which incidentally is near the mansion of Mayor Andal Ampatuan.

The gates of the "one block" mansion of Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. in Juna Subdivision

The Person living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) shared the struggle he faced when he was diagnosed by the said disease. Before sharing, the staff of ALAGAD Mindanao (an NGO advocating for health and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS) asked us to sign a confidentiality contract. It says we cannot disclose the description of our resource speaker ( a person with HIV/AIDS). We can share the experiences and draw out lessons from it but they asked us not to describe the face. Our resource speaker described how hard it was open up about the disease and his sexuality. He knows his parents would ask where possibly he acquired the virus and why he's been sick all the time. So he decided to come out and be clean despite his fear of his father and brother. Good for him, his family and close friends stood up for him. They are crucial support groups in his recovery. For persons living with HIV, the support groups are every important in order for them face the reality and even death, if it get worse.

Poster for the World's Aids Day Celebration on Dec.1.

Kuya Mike Mahinay, one of the counselors in Alagad shared that they have clients who are able to open up to their families about their diseases but up until now could not "come out." This is attributed to the macho values in a patriarchal society like ours. Family support is very important. They observed that those affected by HIV who's responding fast to the medicines are also the ones who has been open about their sexuality.

What's alarming during the sharing is the rise of bisexuals who are still afraid to "come out" and has heterosexual partners and the invisible line of risk to their respective partners. Looking also in gender relations, 40% of wives battered are at high risk of being transmitted with HIV/AIDS. Around 60% of wives economically dependent to their husbands are also at risk of being infected. Why? Women who are battered cannot say NO and negotiate in marital sex. And mostly of the cases of battered women, the husbands mostly engages in sex with other women. But no empirical data is available on this but this is a trend that's happening not only in the Philippines but in Asia.

It is also alarming that here in Davao City, the numbers are increasing for the youth (16-25) who are getting at risk of HIV/AIDS because of risky unprotected sex.

Poster raising awareness on sexuality and protected sex.

Gender-sensitivity is not the only part that we have to learn but alongside with it is reproductive rights. Sadly, we are still battling even to the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill.

After the activity, we have to proceed to conflict transformation workshop. We asked the boys to just hire a jeep. When they got back, they shared that when Manong Drayber asked them where he has to get the passengers, they told him, "Kamuning St. Manong, basta kanang duol sa balay ni Ampatuan!", Manong driver almost backed out. His afraid since the police and NBI has been patrolling the area, according to him.

So the next activity was conflict resolution in Shrine Hills, Matina, a place overlooking Davao Gulf. Just right place to keep you at peace. John Mark Cajiuat from Bread for the World facilitated the workshop. Pictures were placed on the floor and we were asked to take pictures that "talk to us", pictures that we can relate too. I choose a man holding .45mm pistol standing in a middle of thousand of other .45 pistols.

It reminded me of arms trade and warlodism that reigns in Maguindanao. With illegal and unregulated arms that is being made in the province, it makes the political clans invincible. As Dean Marvic Leonen on UP College of Law puts it in political equation 1: amount of insecurity is directly proportional to the number of bodyguards employed.
2: propensity for corruption is also directly proportional to the number of public officers serving as body guards.

This is true in the area. I don't know if the military or the Police has an exact number of bodyguards and "civilian volunteers" serving the Ampatuan family. Wherever they go, they have convoys! and since they are "CVOs", the government pays for it. It's the people's money, money from taxpayers like me! I was enraged during the discussion.

Then JM asked the group, particularly me, "Do you believe that reconciliation will be possible between the Ampatuans and Mangudadatus?"

Yes it is possible, I said. I am still hopeful that the two clans will reconcile, when both have already used up their resources and both are already powerless. And it is possible if the children from both families also take steps to reconcile their families.

I am still keeping my hopes.

pure evil

(written on November 25,2009; 7:53PM)

I was not watching the news lately. I am sick and tired of these beaming politicians and their unending promises.

I was busy moderating the forum we have co-sponsored when my phone rang and several texts received. It was from my sister. It’s unusual. First, we had a misunderstanding for two weeks now and she never texted me. She probably came to her senses and has forgiven the spoiled brat. When I read her text, it was full of concern. She wanted to know where I was, if I was traveling and if I have companions.

She thought I was traveling again to Maguindanao. She chattered about the massacre in Buluan. She was alarmed since after Datu Paglas, I’ll be passing the municipality of Buluan, Pres. Roxas and Tacurong before I arriving to Marbel. She was talking about the massacre. I could not comprehend what she was talking and I promised her I’ll be off the traveling trail and I’m in on my writing process now.

After the forum, I immediately searched what's behidn her hysteria. And she, I and everyone has the right to be hysterical for the massacre in Sitio Salay, Brgy. Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao last November 23. What happened is the WORST Killings and the most violent in the history of pre- election violence.

Vice Mayor Esmael Toto Mangudadatu of Buluan would like to run as governor of the province of Maguindanao, in opposition to the reigning Ampatuan family in the province. His wife decided to file his COC (Certificate on Candidacy) to the COMELEC alongside with other female relatives and supporters. They also asked the media to accompany them in their convoy. The group requested the army but it was declined claiming their forces are depleted in the area and it’s the PNP’s area of responsibility. The PNP on the other hand, denied that they have knowledge on the said request.

On their way to the Comelec, on Barangay Salman, the group was held captive by armed men. They were asked to line up and were shot on the head. The buck how used to dug up the victims burial place is owned by the provincial government with the capital names of ZALDY AMPATUAN etched on it.

The Mangugudatu claims they are now holding four survivors and witnesses to this gruesome event.

I don’t know where this will lead. Rido or clan war is really up to avenging and taking lives from each clan. But in any rido, women and children are spared. But what happened goes beyond the cultural aspect of revenge and avenging death. It is about greed, warlordism and impunity.

The journalists and victims, which sadly are women were killed mercilessly. The journalists were killed not during crossfire, or by accident but was killed non senselessly by a political clan who maintains private armies to maintain their power.,

And it is very disgusting that this government is dillydallying on its decision. Ampatuan clan after all is one of the closest ally of the current administration. Ampatuan’s have delivered an over-all win to Team Unity, the administration’s slate last 2004 and 2007 election. And in return, the current administration has even approved of the clan’s reign and provided the private army of the family. Civilian volunteer’s organization (CVO), they call. And these private armies is being paid by the taxpayer’s money!

I read this article describing the Ampatuan’s reign in the province. Political dynasty at its finest! Imagine, they are ruling 7 municipalities even up to the point of making another one to accommodate their control on the area. The initial investigation showed that Mayor Andal Unsay Ampatuan’s as the prime suspect. If the government is really serious to solve this crisis, the military and police could have interrogated the suspects, but where are the Ampatuans? They are still sitting at their posh and luxurious mansions while the families of the 50+ victims are grieving, and could no longer identify the defiled bodies.

Hearing the news, appalled me. Again, Mindanao has been in the limelight. Not because of honor but because of warlodism and impunity that reigns over the area. It is appalling to look at the mansions of these politicians while the shanties, temporary houses of the poor majority of the population are everywhere. Evil has become so strong, that even brutal and inhumane acts are done in the name of power. Guns, goons, gold and god are with them, life has become useless.

Thanks to the Ampatuans, Mindanao, Maguindanao in particular is a deadly place. The peacebuilding efforts and even promoting the island has been watered down, what remained is the disturbing image of tortured and defiled bodies. It’s a nightmare. But I do hope in this time of crisis, we will use it as a springboard to move again and show our outrage. Let us not only remember their death but let us all unite to call for political clans to disarm and for the administration (and for coming officials) to stop cuddling political clans in return of votes every election.

For the victims,

Battered bodies, shattered dreams,
Lining the streets no end to the means
Crippled corpses, vandalized streets
degraded, penetrated beaten down
bought and sold
-- Bought and Sold, Wolfgang

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reminiscing my Meanness

Okay I just want to give a rest on the political talks and Mannny Pacquiao's historic feat.

As I read some posts from dear old friends and my usual laugh trip at some funny posts, I chanced upon Lance's entry. He posted an article reminiscing his antics and misdemeanors. I laughed at the idea of this "saintly" valedictorian used to stab his classmates' eyes and pushed his cousin around. Oh well, we do have sinister plans when we were a kid. Revenge is always sweet.And I have my own share of such meanness.

Yes, I am a brat. In the compound where I grew up in Marbel, I was the youngest female kid and mostly of my playmates are boys. Then there was the twins, Tonton and Tata who lives just in front of our house. Their mother wanted to have a girl but she could no longer conceive a child. She somehow "adopted" me, and the twins were my "brothers." Tonton and Tata would like to play those boy games and I always wanted to participate on those games. When they climbed the guava and santol trees, I wanted to prove to them that I can do what they can do. I followed suit even my short limbs had difficulty on climbing the branches. One day, I insisted on following them getting the ripe guava fruits. They would not let me since the tree could no longer accommodate our weight. I, The hardheaded one did not listen. I struggled to climb and reach the fruits; the branch snap off and I fell. Fortunately I fell on my butt on the sack of sands just near the culvert and not on the cement.

Because of shame, I cried. No, I wailed like a pig ready to be butchered. I created a scene.
My Nanay Nelly and the twin's mother came running and were very worried. When asked why I climbed the tree, I pointed at the twins. Tonton and Tata received the ultimate punishment on their household: leather na pakpak. In short, the thick leather belt that hangs near their altar kissed their asses. I think, Tonton and Tata never forgave me for that.

When Tata, Tonton and I met five years after that incident, we could not talk. I was too ashamed for what I have done. To break the ice, I ask, "Naglabiti ba ang paha? (Did the belt sting?)" And they nodded. I said sorry for being such a big fat mean liar and they both laughed.

I also remembered the time I pulled Maricar's hair when she told the class about Reggie's (a transferree student from Gensan) confession of his "admiration slash crush" on me (yacks!). That was so unthinkable since Maricar and I had known each other since we were four. I remembered putting those pink nicely chewed Bazooka bubble gum on Cutie's chair since she didn't let me hold her new pencil case.

Yes, I was so mean. But I got my own share of karma too from my cousins. When i turned six, I relocated at my maternal grandmother's place. We were four girls and the older ones (my ate and my other cousin) are meaner. Meaning, they bully me and Angel, my other younger cousin. In order not to get their attention, I have to behave. That gave me the precious lesson of the Golden Rule: Never do unto others what you don't want other do unto you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy 1st Blog-osary!!

Last year, I decided to make this a niche blog. A blog all about Mindanao, issues surrounding Mindanao as part of my advocacy. But I could not separate myself with my advocacy. I write what I believe in. I talk to people whom I learn and got these narratives that helped me grow. The more I learn, the more I have this yearning that there is still more to learn.

I refurbished this blog and decided to write stories about myself, the people surrounding me, and the places I discovered. Narratives that made an impact on my journey. I wrote about my heart aches, my hopes, love affairs, fulfilled and unfulfilled promises. I talked about Mindanao bloggers and the quest for a more positive light for portraying our island in the mainstream media. I wrote about the farmers, the unsung heroes of our countryside that ironically the people who are deprived of the basic resource for production- land.

As this blog turns 1, I vow to write more, to travel more and learn more of what is the extremes (poverty despite its richness in resources, peace and conflict) and issues that affect Mindanao--my only home.

Happy thoughts!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Of Prejudices and Datu Paglas

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” ~~ Aldous Huxley

When my relatives especially my maternal aunt who raised me up knew that I'll be traveling to Datu Paglas, Maguindanao she told me "Halong ka kay Kamusliman daan na didto (Take care because it is a Muslim area)."

Another aunt, cousins and my older sister also told me to take care primarily because it IS a Muslim predominated area. Same line was also said by my host families and acquaintances in M'lang.

It is a sad fact that even us, Mindanaons have this thought about our fellow Muslim brother and sister. First, I would like to emphasize that this is not a blog to discriminate our fellow Muslims. This is just to show that at this time and age, prejudice and discrimination to our brother and sister Muslims remain. We discriminate base on their religion. We discriminate as we our also discriminated.

Before, I really cringe every time an acquaintance from Manila would ask,after knowing I'm from South COtabato,"Muslim ka? May giyera doon sa inyo? (Are you a Muslim? Is there a war on your place?)"

I retorted, "If I'm a Muslim, so? Would that make me less of a human to your eyes?"
Hearing always the word Cotabato is equated to "war-ravaged" areas. Blame it to the media and the Manila- centric history books and geography lessons, that we do not even care to know about this island. What we know is the terrorists, kidnappings. I want to blame the mass media for this unending prejudice. The equation always seems simple: Muslim areas= war= underdevelopment.

But I could not just go on ranting if I myself have this fear and prejudice. That traveling in Muslim area is MORE dangerous than any areas in Mindanao? I'd like to think NOT. As the daughter of my host in Mlang said, "Parehas lang man na sila sa bisan unsang grupo- Ilonggo man o Bisaya. May ara buot man ara man mga traidor. Hindi mo siya husgahan kay tungod lang nga MUslim siya, delikado na dayon. (It is the same with othe rgroups- whether Ilonggo or Bisaya. You can find someone who is kind, but there are also traitors. You should not judge the person, that when she/he is a Muslim, he/she is already dangerous.)"

For my research regarding local rice production, I choose M'lang in North Cotabato and Datu Paglas in Maguindanao Province. M'lang is dominated by Ilonggo populace and as a person who speaks their language, it would be easy. I can just travel alone. But to Datu Paglas? Aside from language differences, I knew no one from that place. And as my relatives have warned me, it is a Muslim area.

I am touched by my friends and relatives' concern but I told them that traveling alone to the place with no one I knew personally will prove them wrong. That yes, I'll be back in one piece. I only knew Rasul, a staff from a partner of a partner NGO. This is how it goes-- I met the Executive Director (ED) of Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement who referred me to the ED of TRIPOD who in return also referred me to this staff in Datu Paglas. I never met Rasul before. I just texted and called him the day before traveling to the area.

I stayed for four days in the area and here I am, still in one piece. Datu Paglas is a miracle town that was brought back into pieces by peace-loving individuals. Owing also to the powerful clan of Paglas, the once dreaded place became one of the rice granary of Maguindanao Province.

But still, government support is lacking. Official development aid (ODA) projects in the name of the "poor people of ARMM" must also be scrutinized if it really went to the real beneficiaries. As for the rice areas, again their is a threat of land conversion to high value crops such as bananas and oil palm plantations.

I just learned that, hearing from the news and traveling to the place is two different things in the spectrum. Visit areas in Mindanao that you fear or dread and learn. Also, traveling alone and experiencing the hospitality of the people you know for the first time, makes you proud to be a Mindanaoan.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

typhoon Opportunists

Yes, 2010 elections is coming. We can sense it from 10 radius mile. When Bagyong Ondoy hit the country, death toll rises every minute. Several persons are missing. Thousands and thousands are hungry, in pain and in need of help.

Yet there are politicians who still find time to buy alcohol.

The insensitivity of this Congressman (and son of our gruesome president) to the plight of millions is just repulsive.

On the other hand, this presidentiable sent help but of course, you people should remember where the food came from and maybe, you should remember him during voting time. Trapo talaga!

and to the looters, you are just like these crocodiles! Nasalanta na nga ng bagyo, wag niyo namang pagsamantalahan at nanakawan.

Bagyong Ondoy's Wreackage

I never saw this kind of disaster in my 22 years of existence. Mindanao is lucky to be spared by typhoons and we live here. We just experience scattered rain showers and rains but not this disastrous. But we all know, there are atmospheric changes that is occurring. Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth is fast happening. Just last month, I experienced a waist-deep flood at San Pedro for the first time, after living here for five years now.

I just came from my travel from M’lang when I heard of Typhoon Ondoy (international codename Ketsana). I was shocked looking at the pictures posted by friends on their Facebook walls. Much more when Erwin posted that his parents and nephew and niece ages 6 and 7 years old stayed at their rooftop when the water level started to rise. It was September 26, 2:30PM and until September 28 there were still no rescue operations. It was raining and the children are vulnerable to sickness.

Then I remembered my mother. She's living with her new family in Bacoor, Cavite. We also have relatives at Hagonoy, Bulacan. I called my mother and she assured me they are okay. Their house are situated at higher part but the creek behind their subdivision overflowed. I asked her to be vigilant and to evacuate. On the other hand, my uncle lives in Hagonoy, Bulacan. What’s disturbing is water run off went to their area but all in all, they survived and not harmed.

Then Erwin and I had a chat over Facebook. I asked him how's his family are faring. He said he lost contact with them. I sense his helplessness. It breaks my heart since I could not do anything to comfort him, to ease his tension. It’s very hard that you are here in Davao, watching the news and footages,and you know your loved ones are in dire help yet you are helpless. Words are not enough to ease the tension.

Contributed photos at GMA Facebook Account.

We talked and monitored the news. My sister and I have been checking also other relatives and her husbands’ relatives. The next day early morning, my sister texted me that my mom and my other 3 siblings evacuated their house and stayed overnight at a friend’s house since water level rose in their area. The rubber parts they are using and selling at their vulcanizing shop were swept away. My stepdad was able to save their compressor. I am thankful they are safe. I advised them to be alert since another tropical depressions are forming at the east.

Then my sister called and cried. Her mother-in-law was trapped at their house at West Floowday, Brgy. San Andres, Cainta, Rizal. It was one of the areas that was not yet reached by rescue operations. Nana Myrna and her companions texted my sister on Saturday morning and then no more contact.

I am blessed with internet and phone connections. All I can do is raise the alarms for these people. For the first time, I called all hotlines, all available numbers and websites to post queries, raise alarms for relatives (direct or indirect). This is the time I cried so hard and prayed hard for the fear of losing these people. When Erwin decided to go to Manila and personally check his parents and pamangkins, I cried. I fear for his safety and his family. Some areas are still impassable. But I know he will be uncomfortable and stressed knowing his family are in critical situation.What I can do is just pray for his safety and for his family’s as well.

He arrived in Manila late afternoon, then he and Gani, his bestfriend went to their area. I was trying to call him this morning. No signal. I just prayed that they were able to do it. And just this morning, he texted that his family are okay but relief goods like clothing and potable water are needed.

This is a wake-up call for all of us. I am calling for other Mindanawans to send donations either cash, nonperishable foods and clothing for the victims of Ondoy. I call for the people to pray for them and to the volunteers for their strength.

As of September 28, 2009 the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), disseminated this information..Just click HERE.

For those who are still looking for their loved ones, you can check these numbers and websites:

Useful Links
News and Updates

* Google News
* YouTube
* Official Government Site
* Local media websites
o ABS-CBN News (SOS Call Map)
o GMA News (Relief Map)
o Manila Bulletin
o Philippine Daily Inquirer
o Philippine Star
o Relief Map

Disaster Emergency

* Rescue Operations
o National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) (+632-9125668, +632-9111406, +632-9115061, +632-9122665) Help hotlines: (+65 734-2118, 734-2120)
o Philippine Coast Guard (+632-5276136)
o Air Force (+63908-1126976, +632-8535023)
o Metro Manila Development Authority (136)
o Marikina City Rescue (+632-6462436, +632-6462423, +632920-9072902)
o Pasig Rescue Emergency Number (+632-6310099)
o Quezon City Rescue (161)
o San Juan City Hall Command Post (+632-4681697)
o Bureau of Fire Protection Region III (Central Luzon) Hotline: (+63245-9634376)
o Senator Dick Gordon (+639178997898, +63938-444BOYS, +632-9342118, +632-4338528)
o Senator Manny Villar (+639174226800. +639172414864, +639276751981)
* Civil Society/ Media
o Philippine National Red Cross (143, +632-5270000)
o Philippine National Red Cross Rizal Chapter operations center hotline: (+632-6350922, +632-6347824)
o Go to GMA Facebook page & post complete addresses and names of people in need of immediate help.
o ABS-CBN Typhoon Ondoy Hotline: (+632-4163641)
o Jam 88.3: (+632- 6318803) or SMS at JAM (space) 883 (space) your message to 2968
* Rubber Boat Requests, 4×4 Trucks
o NCRPO (+632-8383203, +632-8383354)
o Private citizens who would like to lend their motor boats for rescue
please call emergency nos: +632-9125668, +632-9111406, +632-9122665, +632-9115061)
o You can also text (+632917-4226800 or +632927-6751981) for rescue dump trucks.
o For those who are able to lend 4×4 trucks for rescue: Please send truck to Greenhills Shoppng Center Unimart Grocery to await deployment, Tel No. (+632920-9072902).

Online and In-Kind Donations

Below you'll find a list of groups in the Phillippines that are accepting cash and in-kind donations to help with disaster relief efforts:
Monetary Donations

1. Bank Donations

2. Credit Card/PayPal Donations

* GMA Kapuso Foundation
* ABS-CBN Foundation
* Philippine Aid

3. SMS Donations
Procedure Smart Money Globe GCash
PNRC Type RED Ex. RED 100 4493 2899
TXT POWER 5577-5144-1866-7103 0917-9751092.

In-Kind Donation

* Victory Fort is opening its doors to those affected by the typhoon. Call 813-FORT.
* NoyMar relief Operations: Clare Amador (+639285205508) or Jana Vicente at +639285205499). Drop off for relief donations is at Balay Expo Center across Farmers Market Cubao.
* Miriam Quiambao drop off points: One Orchard Road Building in Eastwood, or message for more details.
* Philippine Army Gym inside Fort Bonifacio or GHQ Gym in Camp Aguinaldo are now distributing donations for Ondoy Victims.
* Team Manila stores in Trinoma, Mall of Asia, Jupiter Bel-Air and Rockwell shall be accepting relief goods (Canned Goods, Ready-to-drink Milk,Bottled Water and Clothes) for distribution by Veritas.
* Caritas Manila Office at Jesus St., Pandacan Manila near Nagtahan Bridge (+632-5639298, +632-5639308)
* Radio Veritas at Veritas Tower West Ave. Cor EDSA (+632-9257931-40)
* Aranaz Stores in Rockwell & Greenbelt is accepting donations of any kind for Payatas communities affected by Ondoy
* Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan Task Force Noah, a disaster response arm of the Jesuits, is accepting donations. Please drop it off sa Ateneo Cervini Dorm.
* Philippine National Red Cross‘ different ways to Donate.
* Red Cross Load Donations: Right now the easiest way to make donations from the seat of your chair is via mobile phone load. The Red Cross Rescue and Relief Operations. Text: REDAMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4483 (Smart)
* Ateneo de Manila University is now accepting donations for the victims of Ondoy. Donations can be dropped at MVP Lobby. For those stranded/those who need help: To all students who need help or know of people who need help. Please text the name, location, and contact number to (+6329088877166). ATENEO, which is now an open shelter, accepts refugees. Call (+632917-8952792)
* Papemelroti stores in 91 Roces Ave. / Ali Mall Cubao / SM City North EDSA / SM Fairview / SM Megamall / Glorietta 3 in Makati / SM Centerpoint / SM Southmall are accepting relief goods (canned goods / milk / bottled water / clothes – NO CASH pls.)
* TXTPower now accepts donations via SmartMoney 5577514418667103, GCash 09179751092 and Paypal
* Our Lady of Pentecost Parish (+632-4342397, +632-9290665) per Gabe Mercado, donations are very much welcome. The Parish is located at 12 F. Dela Rosa corner C. Salvador Sts., Loyola Heights, Quezon City.
* Hillsborough Village Chapel – Water, blankets, shoes, and clothes may be sent to Hillsborough Village Chapel in Muntinlupa City. These will go to families whose houses were washed out in the nearby sitios.
* Greenhills/Mandaluyong/San Juan Area, if you want to help out with the rescue and relief operations, you can drop off your donations (clothes, food, etc..) at La Salle Greenhills Gate 2 tomorrow or volunteer from 9am to receive, sort, repack the donations.
* Petron: You may bring your relief goods to all Petron branches.
* LUCA stores (Rockwell, Shang-rila, Eastwood, or GA towers): Send your old clothes & donations (no cash pls).
* “LUZON RELIEF: Volunteer / Donate / Pray”: Donations can be brought to RENAISSANCE FITNESS CENTER, 2nd Floor, Bramante Building, Renaissance Towers Ortigas, MeralcoAvenue, Pasig City starting MONDAY (Sept.28) / 9am – 7pm Contact Person: Warren Habaluyas (+632929-8713488) or email at
* MOONSHINE boutique in Rockwell also accepting relief good to help Ondoy victims in Marikina and Cainta.
* Katipunan Avenue. Contact Erica Paredes at (+632917-4741930) — they need bread, packed juice, sandwich filling (tuna, chicken, anything) You can help her make them, deliver the sandwiches to her house, or help her distribute! Call for more details.
* Manor Superclub, Eastwood City will accept goods and other emergency items starting Sunday at 10 am.
* Citizens Disaster Response Center (CDRC): Relief goods for typhoon victims being accepted at 72-A Times St., West Triangle, QC. Tel (+632-9299820/22)
* MINISTOP IBARRA (Espana cor. Blumentritt, Sampaloc Manila) is also accepting relief goods, Food (non-perishable goods only) Clothing, Medicines, Beds, Pillows, Blankets, Emergency Supplies to help Typhoon Ondoy victims.

We can help in your own way.

Tayong Mismo ang Magtutulungan. Sama-sama, bayanihan in rebuilding lives.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Visiting M'lang, the rice granary of North Cot

Going to a place for the first time could be a wondrous adventure. Much more if you are with your friends. But doing it alone is another matter. It is like being thrown to an entirely different place and with no one you know, it is uncomfortable.

But having this kind of work in an NGO, research institution for that matter is a challenge for me. As a researcher , I need to be resourceful. I need to be creative enough in my data gathering. It takes necessary skills and interpersonal skills in order for the people to be at ease with you. I need to personally investigate issues that I have to talk to and push for other sectors to support for.

You learn a lot by talking with the people- farmers, fisherfolks, the taxi driver. Talking with them social concerns like food security, poverty, hunger, corruption, you'll realized these people knows so much than you do. The talk is spontaneous. As a researcher, it is your duty to make your participants at ease for an easy sharing of information. Staying in the community is also a must. As for my research on public investment of Local Government Unit (LGU) in local rice production has just started, I choose M'lang North Cotabato as one of the research locale.

I was lucky, it's harvest time!

M'lang is one of the highest rice producing municipality together with Midsayap and Kabacan in North Cotabato. North Cotabato, on the other hand, is a consistent top ten rice producing province. I went to University of Southern Mindanao for a meeting with different networks for preparation for the World Food Day Celebration on Oct. 13. Meeting at Kabacan then data gathering at M'lang afterwards. It's idea of hitting two birds in one stone. :)

Then I went to M'lang armed with only two contact numbers of people I will be interviewing- the municipal agriculturist and the president of the irrigated rice farmers association. I planned to stay in an inn or lodge but I was surprised to learn that a small room for an overnight stay costs P300! Quite expensive lodging for a rural area, I thought. My budget is quite small. I texted my contacts and asked them if they know some place more affordable. The farmer president called me and asked me to spend the night at their house instead. Oh! I just meet him on that day. I put aside my shame and accepted the offer.

The house where I stayed. Hospitality at its best. I love my host family!

While I was waiting for my the kind farmer, the municipal agriculturist who happens to be an aunt of a sorority sis called me and offered their home too. Such hospitality overwhelmed me.

I stayed on the area for three days and I am not dislocated for it is an Ilonggo-dominated area. I speak their language which is one important factor in conducting research. I enjoyed hearing deep Ilonggo words like ayam (dog), igma (eat), kanugon (what a waste). My family host was so sweet and they treated me like their own granddaughter.

I will be coming back maybe next week and I'm glad I had this assignment.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pigging Out

GRUB Resto

I wanted another taste on my palate. Not the usual carenderia lunch we had at the office, or any fastfood meal. Despite the sweltering heat, Jamir and I went out and found this quaint little place in Duterte Street. The Grub Resto, just in between a saloon and Dunkin Donuts offers good food. It’s quite pricey from the usual resto and it takes a long time for them to serve the food, but it’s worth the wait.

They serve coffee, frapuccino and entrée. We order stir-fried seafood vegetable and fish parmegiano in tomato sauce. The entrée comes with brown rice. Good for people in diet and with diabetics!

Fish parmegiano for P125.

Stir fried seafood vegetable. in short chopsuey for P78 :)


Where to dine best and you don't have any idea, either ask your food-lover friends or surf the net. I choose the former. Gracey, a college friend who loves to eat with her boyfriend has almost tried every eat-all-you can/ buffet and restaurants around the city. I want a new place to eat out and I asked her. She told me to try Karlyn’s steak. According to her, it was one of the best.

I wanted to tried it with my Someone but never got a chance to do so. So when Jamir, a close friend wanted to try a happy food, something “unique Davao feel”, I told him we should try Karlyn’s. It would be an adventure for both of us. So after strolling in SM, we asked around where the place is.

Located along the highway of Phase 2 Doña Luisita Village, Ecoland, Karlyn’s serves steak ala pobre, fish steak, lengua estofado, Salisbury steak, chopsuey. They serve in buffet style but you only have to pay for what you have ordered. They will cook and/or reheat your order. The special ice tea concoction by the owner leaves a cooling minty feel on your throat.

Oh! It is affordable. The lengua is only P40, fish steak at P75 and the special ice tea for P30. Truly happy meal!

soft and tasty Lengua.

Karlyn's is at the second block near SM ecoland. For reservations and order call Tel.: 299-0087.


Davao is known for eat-all-you can restos that sprouted anywhere in the city. As Jamir said, “Dabawenyos really love to eat.” Eat-all-you-can restos manifests these. While doing his internship in our office, he had tried Grandmenseng, Buffet Palace, Kuya Ed’s, Tita Dei’s. And since his just be here for about two weeks, he wanted to savor the remaining buffet resto he never tried: Greenhills. It offers seafoods.

His first night in Davao we ate at around 8:30PM. I was so starved by then that I was not able to savor the food. The choices are not so appealing for me. When Jamir asked for an early dinner the other day and would really like to pig out, he wanted Greenhills again. For P128 per person, it’s not bad.

And since we are early, we have the best choices: Lechon kawali, spicy mussels, steamed oysters, palabok, tinolang manok, chicken fillet, fish fillet in sweet and sour sauce. There are steamed asparagus, vegetable salads, yellow mango with bagoong and for desserts: mais con yelo, green sago’t gulaman, watermelon and pineapple.

By 8PM, it rained so hard and we were trapped inside. So what’s the best thing to do while bidding your time? Eat, eat and eat! You’ll not be surprised to look at the pictures of our army battalion-like consumption.

The crime scene

The suspects!

Happy meal! ('0')

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spatial Relations disorientation

I realized the other night that I can’t be a tour guide. I lack skills in terms of spatial orientation. Sometimes, I even have to use my hands when determining where is right. I confuse names and locations. And just last night are one of those times that I would rather hide my head in shame.

Jamir, our former intern from Kyoto University and now a friend (grins), came back for an additional data gathering for his masteral research. He went to Maragusan for three days and interviewed the people in the community. After that, he went to our office and tried to process his data when he realized his GPS software was corrupted. The crack code was missing. So while waiting for our systems administrator to download a replacement for his software, Jamir asked me to accompany him. We went to SM, stroll and have our usual talk. Then we ate dinner at Karlyn’s when his friend and a fellow also from Kyoto University was in town making his rounds on faultlines. Jeff, was from PhilVoc. Jamir asked his help regarding validating his areas and Jeff, a map master and a geology graduate is the answer. Jeff said he was staying in Emerald Inn.

Jamir asked me to accompany him at Emerald Inn. I asked him, what street was it?” “Camus Extension”. Honestly, I don’t know where it is. Even I stayed in Davao for five years now (4 years studying at the hinterlands of Mintal, and a year here at downtown working), I still don’t know some places here. Davao City is the largest city in the world in terms of land area, so please spare me the harsh judgment. Hehehe.

Then I remembered, I saw a green sign of a hotel in Uyanguren. Uyanguren is an old name of a street and just hearing Camus, I thought it’s the alternate name of Uyanguren. So I guided him to Davao’s Chinatown!

I remembered standing in front of the DCLA building and that green sign. When we got there, lo and behold! The hotel sign reads E-V-E-R-G-R-E-E-N!! Not Emerald! What a shame!

Oh well, Emerald is the same syllables with Evergreen and the I associated the color with emerald. I tried to reasoned out. We asked the bodyguard where the hell Camus Extension and Emerald Inn is. Good thing a jeepner driver knows and guided us. Then I texted some office mates asking them for confirmation of the information, which I should have done beforehand.

Well, we found the place and I met Jeff after asking so many people and after sweating profusely because of the humid weather. Other good thing is, we were able to discover a newly opened massage clinic just in between Sampaguitta Inn and Emerald Inn. A whole body Thai massage to cap the night and to lessen my shame. I promise myself, to ask longtime Davao friends first before assuming anything.

Monday, September 14, 2009

PINUTOS REPUBLIK: Delicacy wrapped

When looking for an affordable lutong bahay delicacies with homely feel, I recommend Melfont Pinutos (wrapped) Republik. Opened just last June, the resto was able to capture the palate of the Dabawenyos. Located along Prime Square, F. Torres Street where good food, booze and chilling abounds, Pinutos republik created a niche of its own.

The free molo soup.

It offers our favorite viands such as dinuguan, adobo, bakareta, mechado, pork barbeque, binagoongan, (to name a few) wrapped in banana leaves with hard- boiled egg. Your order comes with unlimited rice, ice tea and molo soup. Japanese specialties such as gyudon and chicken teriyaki are also available. It comes cheap- they serve for as low as P50, without sacrificing the taste.

Adodo flakes in rice with butter (yummy!)

Every night they have bands performing. They are opened for lunch and dinner. They also cater for special occasions.

Oh! I can only complain for one thing. They use their menu as their place mat. I just wish they have a separate menu list that can be reused. It's a waste of paper and in times like these (global warming and denuded forests), we have to save papers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Isang taon ng Red Horse, Yosi at Ikaw

Yosi. Nag-umpisa akong manigarilyo noong college. Inaamin ko,natuto akong humithit nito dahil sa peer pressure. Huminto ako after college graduation. O minsan isang stick kapag stressed, umiinom, kapag malamig, o may nakaing nakakumay.

Ikaw naman, ang paghihithit ng sigarilyo ay tila ekstensyon na ng iyong paghinga. Sabi ko noon, I’ll never kiss a smoker, it’s like kissing an ashtray! I hate guys reeking of cigarette smell. Pero sino nga ba ang makakapagsabing, kakainin ko rin mga sinabi ko? Ang pinagsamang cherry spray mist, the natural male scent and cigarette smoke give you a unique smell that lingers on my skin.
Sabi ng Ate ko, you are bad to my health. Sagot ko naman, but he’s good to my heart. Hahaha.

Red Horse.
Ito ang pinakaunang nakakalasing na inumin na ininom ko (exception na ang tuba kasi naman pampawala daw ng bulate yun sabi ng tita ko). Lakas tama. Like the way I fell for you. Maniniwala ka bang sa lahat ng nakarelasyon (which mostly are flings, hindi seryoso), I never let myself to fall. Kasi natatakot ako. I am adventurous. I can take risks- calculated risks. But in the matters of the heart, duwag ako. Duwag akong masaktan at maiwan. Dahil na rin siguro sa trauma ko sa pamilya namin. But when you fell in love, hindi mo makalkula lahat.
Ilang beses na ba tayong nag-inuman? Ilang bote na pa ang ating naipatumba? Hindi lang Red Horse. San Mig Light, Strong Ice, All Pure Malt, The Bar, Generoso, El Hombre Tequila. Hindi naman tayo lasenggero/a ano? hehe

Alam mo bang may mga panahong mas gusto kong nakainom para mawala ang inhibisyon, masabi ko kung ano ang gusto kong sabihin. Sumasagi sa isip ko, sana minsan malasing ka rin at matanong kita ng kahit ano ng walang pag-aalinlangan, o masagot mo ako hindi sa pamamagitan ng isa pang tanong. In vino nobis de veritas. In wine there is truth.

Ewan ko kung naalala mo ang araw na ito. Ito ang araw na una tayong nagkita at nagkakilala. Isang taon na pala. Marami nang nangyari, marami na ring pinagsaluhang beer, at ilang pakete ng yosi.

Maligayang isang taon ng pagkadadaupang- palad.


Ito na siguro ang pinakacheesy na naisulat ko sa tanang buhay ko kaya huwag mo akong pagtatawanan kundi babatukan kita. ('0')


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