Saturday, December 31, 2011

Endings and New Beginnings

The Mayan calendar predicted that 2012 is the end of the world. If indeed next year is the apocalypse, then I die happily!

2011 is the year of the rabbit, and it's truly my Year- the year of Dorarabbit! :))
I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to commune with nature and climb mountain (literally). Lake Holon trip and my Linan climb are just memorable - Meeting new friends, being a part of the TAKSA small mountaineering group.

Although I started the year being healthy, I wasn’t able to continue the climbing exercises. I was invited to Mt. Apo but I declined (conflict of sked and I don’t want climbing event with many climbers). Traveling to Visayas is another milestone in my travel list. Being a salimpusa is not bad after all. You just need to be friendly and be open to a lot of possibilities. Traveling is only enjoyable if you have the best company. Traveling entails new learnings and knowing more about yourself.

God knows how itchy my feet gets, so He wanted me to take another trip to open my eyes and mind to the different faces of poverty and richness of human spirit. Visiting Kulaman and meeting the Manobo Dulangan who struggles to keep their ancestral domain is a trip I could not forget. In every cup of coffee, a dream continues. 

To end my year, I got to finally take one thing on my bucketlist- watch Azkals live and see David Beckham in flesh.

2011 have been a great year despite the challenges. Thank you Lord for blessing me and my family. Here's to more love, travel and life!

Water dragon, Let's get it on!! :)

The Lost Diary of a FanGirl

Dream big and be busy making it happen.
If God didn't wnat us to reach for the stars, He wouldn't give us the power to dream.

2011 is the year of football renaissance. Football gained the limelight again when our national team, the Azkals made a Cinderella win in Vietnam. The Azkals, the underdogs defeated the defending champion, 2-0 on its home stadium. Christ Greatwich scored the goal through a header on 37th minute and Phil Younghusband sealed the fate at the 79th minute. It was pandemonium. It was December 5, 2010.

And it was never the same again. Azkals rose to prominence. They got the media mileage, corporate sponsors came in. Azkals, like the stray dogs were homeless and under supported. The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) management was reformed (the former president Jose Mari Martinez was booted out and replaced by Nonong Araneta).

365 days after and the universe conspired. The football superstar David Beckham and his club, the LA Galaxy came to town to play with our boys! Together with Landon Donovan, Robbie Keanne, the 2011 Major League Series (MLS) Champs! Now’s that is one hell year-ender.

Adding to this memorable event is, this is David Becks last year with LA Galaxy (and we knew he won several cups in 3 different leagues on his last year of contract with them- Real Madrid (2003) and ManU UEFA Champions League (1998).

Who doesn’t know David? The charismatic (sometimes snobbish) football player, Unicef ambassador and father of 4 boys made a stellar career kicking balls with his trademark: Bend it like Beckham. The Becks technique is a top free kick goal scorer. There’s even a movie with this title (and I highly recommend it!). A free kick curve technique wherein the ball swerves, like a thunderbolt, the goalie could not see where it’ll land.

I’ve seen this moves several times when he was with Manchester United and Real Madrid and to see this move, and see my childhood love in flesh is once in a lifetime experience.

Last December 3, 2011 it happened. Aptly titled as the Dream Cup, the LA Galaxy faced our Azkals for a friendly match.

At first, I had second thoughts whether to watch it or not. The general admission ticket is quite pricey. P2,000 for blue and green bleachers, P5kfor white and whooping P15k for grandstands! It’s Christmastime, expenses started to pile up. Gifts for godchildren, nieces and nephews, some random kids on the list. But I made a bucketlist before and one of the things on my list is to watch any Azkals match live. I failed to watch their game vs. Sri Lanka for the AFC qualifiers. This is a chance. Well, David Becks is a bonus.

Luckily, Ticketworld has an outlet at Abreeza Mall. I bought the tickets after I watched the Pupil gig. They say never decide when you are happy or mad. I was so enthusiastic meeting Ely Buendia personally and I said to myself, Life is too short. And I’ll never know when I’ll be able to see David Becks. Rumors say he’ll transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. We’ll never know when he will retire. He had suffered several injuries already. I want to grad this opportunity.

Pikit-mata, buwis-buhay, ika nga! Wagas na wagas na pag-ibig! ahahaha

Since I had a business appointment in Makati within the week, I extended my stay. I was able to meet my mom, uncle and attend the 17th Annual Pride March too!

I had to watch the game solo. My football buddies Nina, faith, Maybelle and Anna could not make it. Conflict of sked, expensive ticket. But nothing could stop the fangirl in me.

I searched for directions online going to Rizal Memorial Stadium (RMS). Withstanding the fact, that I don’t have a sense of direction. Dora lakwatsera na hindi alam ang direksiyon, kakaiba di ba?! haha! As Beatles sang, I get by with a little help from my friends. Tin-tin decided to meet me and accompany me to RMS.

The line outside started as early as 4:30PM, But it was 5:00PM that the gates opened. Next to me in line are two cool moms whose kids play football. They got their tickets as complimentary for their kids football clinic. They were amazed when they learned I came from Davao.. we were annoyed with the guards at the entrance. They didn’t give clear instructions. At first they told us to form two lines- females in lfet, male in right only to be switched midway inside and to form two lines each for each sex. It was like a scene in a cotillion dance. It was nice to look at if it’s a small audience but with a line up to La Salle, this is no laughing matter. Sweat, soft drizzle and no umbrellas allowed inside mase some irritated. Even bottled waters are not allowed. Part of the sponsorship deals of food stalls inside.

After seeing my assigned seat, I looked around. The Kaholeros were practicing their cheers. Ushers in pink were busy helping fans look for their seats. Then I saw two girls with face paints of Philippine flag and Azkals. I was jealous, of course. So I went out again, look at the booths outside and the face paint was offered by Smarth. You just buy a load,you got to get freebies of your choice- vuvuzelas that don’t work, balloon clapper and/or face paint.

I fell into line. Another girl’s face was being painted. She looked up and smiled. Then she asked me, “Di ba taga UP Min ka?” I nodded. “Ngano te, Bisaya’g nawong jud ba ko?”, I asked her. Welaughed together. Her face is familiar. I know she’s an upperclass. Then we introduced ourselves. She’s Ate Richie Ross Rellama, an Architecture upperclass. It turned out she’s going solo too as her boyfriend went home to Davao.

I accompanied her to find her seat at the blue bleachers, only to fin out that she was seated just behind me! Talk about destiny of fellow futbol enthusiast! Our seat is just behind the Phil. Goal post. Ate RR would like to change seats. “we should find a seat perpendicular to the field to have a better view.” As an architect, I trust her calculation, of course. So many seats were not yet filled especially the seats near the white bleachers. We went here and if the ushers would found out, we will just smile and go back to our assigned seats. She went there first to check. All clear. I followed. It was a better view indeed.

The LA Galaxy players were already limbering. Our eyes immediately scanned for the blonde-haired man with a thin headband. There he was stretching, passing balls with Frankie Hedjul, Robbie and Landon. Then he went at the corner (near our area) and the mothers next to us shrieked, even louder than us! After several minutes, the show started.

LA Galaxy Line up:

GOALKEEPERS (3) – Donovan Ricketts

DEFENDERS (8) – Gregg Berhalter, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Frankie Hejduk, Dasan Robinson, Ryan Thomas

MIDFIELDERS (12) – David Beckham, Chris Birchall, Paolo Cardozo, Landon Donovan, Hector Jimenez, Bryan Jordan, Juninho, Dan Keat, Jovan Kirovski, Mike Magee, Dustin McCarty, Michael Stephens

FORWARDS (4) – Adam Cristman, Robbie Keane, Miguel Lopez, Jack McBean

Azkals first LINE UP:

Rob Gier, Anton del Rosario, James Younghusband, Manny Ott, Phil Younghusband, Angel Guirado, Chieffy Caligdong (Captain), Chris Greatwich, Ed Sacapano (GK), Jason Sabio, Ray Johnsson

Substitutes: Joshua Beloya, Roel Gener, Misagh Bahadoran, Carli de Murga, Nate Burkey, OJ Clarino, Jason de Jong,Nestor Margarse, Paolo Pascual, Ian Araneta, Lexton Moy and Matthew Uy

FIFA flag entered. , our national anthem was played.

The LA Galaxy started to pass the ball, Azkals took defensive position. I stood near the railing. Someone called my name. I screamed. Another shout for my name. I looked around. Watched the field again. “May Cheeeeeee!” And someone waved. Deo Onda! A fellow UP student council officer way back in college, a goalie and a friend. And he’s watching solo too! I introduced him to Ate RR. Three Hans solo turned into groupie!

The three of us watched ht show with keen interest. Azkals showed great potential at the first half . David Becks scored at 19th minute. We cheered! Yes, we are traitors! Haha. Then Adam Christman made a goal. Phil Younghusband inspired, tackled the ball curled in a shot (the lone goal for the night for our team).

The UP Pep Squad provided entertainment on the half-time break.

Second half commenced. You know David Becks charm went beyond his sexy bod and strong legs. He is just David B. Every corner he went, the crowd just went ballistic!
Second half is no match for the Azkals. LA Galaxy players were just too fast, smooth ball passing, you weren’t able to catch their goals.
For the game highlights, I’ll let the this video do the talking:

It was 6-1. LA Galaxy had a friendly match with powerhouse Indonesia (1-0). But David Bcks was very impressed with our team. Our team’s newly gained strength is an inspiration to him. He was starstucked with our People’s Champ Manny Pacquaio too. After his substitution on the second half, he took off his shirt and gave it to Manny. But Jinkee yanked it off and wiped Beck’s jersey on her belofied face! Darn! She’s just lucky she’s too far, or else, the fandom will you know..hahaha!

The crowd started to leave after the players made their round, but Ate RR nudged us to go at the back. She wouldn’t sleep if she can’t get a closer glipse of David B. Binoculars during the game was irrelevant. So we went. We brushed aside other fans, took chairs to stand on and waited. Adam Christman (2 goals), was just walking to and fro to their bus (unlike other Galaxy players who always walk with escorts).

The burly event security were lined up up to the Galaxy bus. Frankie went out first. Then Landon. Then a tall guy wearing blue Adidas sweat pants and jacket and a bonnet. Swhoooosh! It just seems like a flash. David Beckham, yumminess! Arrrgggh!

Then I went outside and looked for Deo. Deo was standing at the gates pole. I took the place near him and watched David B mobbed by some giggling young girls (daughters of some PSC commissioners, perhaps?), then he went with their manager to the van before climbing their bus. Take the seat near the window please, we muttered under our breath. He listened. He smiled, waved. Fans continue to wave and shriek. Fans adoration is not new for him, that’s for sure. But he continued to wave. Then some fo the Azkal boys came out. Manny Ott was adorable. Ian, Chieffy and Jason Sabio came after. Ian continued to sign autographs at the Azkals bus. It’s already 11;30PM yet the crowd is still with high energy.

The three of us decided to call it a night. We walked outside the RMs gate, then some basketball players went out and asked us about the scores. “6-1”, I answered. They laughed. Oh! We lost but we gained so much. We expected that. And we don’t care, okay? Our team is in high spirits. David Becks, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane believed in our potentials. And that’s what is more important.

Football is not a fad
. It is here to stay. And Brazil for 2014 World Cup, we will conquer. Dreams do come true after all! =)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dilated Pupil (♥ _♥)

11.20.11 in retrospect

Eleandre Basiño Buendia, more famously known as Ely and front act of the now defunct Eraserheads is my first love and my demigod. Forgive me for the cheesiness but it’s true! When you grew up with rockstar wannabe cousins Eheads songs are an everyday company.

Ely, my first love (to use the word "love' loosely. hehe)

Living with my testosterone-high cousins proved to be a good influence in terms of music choices. The time when Beatles swept Europe, Ely, Raimund, Buddy and Marcus from University of the Philippines Diliman made a mark in the music industry like no other.

The four boys clad only in jeans, tshirt and sneakers rocked my world. These guys swept Philippine rock music industry during the 90s. Hell, I grew up with Huling El Bimbo and Toyang every afternoon blaring on our music radio while I hop scotch with my friends.
They taught me how to be happy despite difficulties (With a smile), of being young and in love (Harana), respecting gender preference (Hey Jay), and the struggle the people, the masa has to face everyday (Para sa Masa). Their songs continue to be high school favorites during jamming sessions and a subtle way of making pacute with your crush. Until now, their songs is our videoke favorites as the easy to follow lyrics and rhythms great for barkada sessions.

The bands break-up is like a first love’s break up too. It hurts too much. After all, it is natural for any group (or organizations), to face challenges as part of its growth. But life must go on and Ely, the master songwriter tried to find his place under the sun. After several experiments, he is now with Pupil.

And when my best gal told me there’s a Pupil gig in Abreeza last November 20,2011, all hell comes loose. Relations and connections proved to be helpful. Fortunately, I was able to buy a cute black dress from one of Abreeza’s shop to get an extra pass for our another friend. That’s how Ely can make us panic.

Ely once tweeted he would no longer sing any Eheads song in any Pupil gig. But when he and the rest of Pupil members started their show after an hour delay!), four guys from our row shouted, “Eheads song! Alapaaaaaaaaap!” Oh well. No matter how much they wanted to get away from Eheads memory, it is a BIG part of his story. Even our story. And it’s no wonder during the meet and greet, still a lot of fans wear Eheads shirt and brought Eheads CD.

This is no disrespect to other Pupil members. I love them. Personal favorite songs are Nasaan Ka (2006 MTV Best Rock Video Award), Disconnection Notice, Different Worlds and 20/20. We are thankful that Yan Yuzon (lead guitar), Dok Sergio (bass) and Wendell Garcia (drums) are great guys who are not neophyte musicians. I know they understood us (and other diehard Ehead fans) when we choose to take our pictures with Ely first. My friend Krizzy and I planned of kissing Ely for a whole lot 5 minutes (no malice, promise!), we planned on how to approach him and witty remarks perhaps to get his attention. But when it’s our turn, we were dumbfounded. All we could manage to do was smile, and say Thank you. Argh! Good thing, another Ely fanatic, Den had the nerves to shake his hands. A silent fanboy, we discovered. :)

The fanboy and fangirls

It’s his charm and the mystery of close brush with Death that endeared him to me more. Oooh Ely. I promise. when I see you again, I will paint my lips red and give you a kiss. :))

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shit and Rubble

(written last October 25,2011)

So many words are floating on my head. We just got from the burial of Fr. Pops. I am exhausted by the heat but at awe with an estimated 3,000 people who came to pay their last respects. This is the man,a priest,an Italian who choose to serve the Manobos of Arakan.

I need to sit down and catch the words I have for Fr. Pops. No I don’t know him personally. I haven’t met him. I was even thinking of another Italian missionary who could be in his place. His death, is another manifestation how life and justice here works. Impunity reigns. Justice is slower than the turtle.

This is a country that professes to pursue peace process but disregard ceasefire agreements. This is a country where politicians on their posh condos and Wack-wack Hills mansions show their love for the country by declaring an all-out war in Mindanao. Here is the moment where Erap and Lacson are agreeing on one thing: All-out-war. Forget how Erap, Lacson, Enrile and Biazon flaunt their machismo and myopic view of the problem, Forget about peace. Forget about the bakwits, the internally displaced persons (IDPs) that has been eternally in struggle to live a peaceful life. After all, IDPs do not exist. Officially. They have returned to their homes, the government said. No more food coupons. No more IDPs, you see.

An eye for an eye that made the whole world blind
. As if this government is not yet blind to the reigning injustices in the countryside. Fr. Pops is not the first and will not be the last victim of atrocities committed against IP rights advocates. Welcome to the 21st century where communism is still terrorism for our military’s vocabulary. That being vocal and fighting for land and resources of people in rural communities make one a NPA or a sympathizer and must be obliterated. Welcome to the 21st century when their analysis is easy and linear. Activist=communist=NPA= terrorist= enemy

Forget how the State especially the previous administration pushed for extractive industry and ordered military as Investment Defense Force (IDF). Forget that the yellow ribbon who scorned the previous admin’s atrocities are committing the same act- pushing for paramilitary and more military troops. Investments from multinational companies especially mining, after all are the driver of our national development rather than agriculture. Foget that we have sold patrimony wholesale- giving them everything, fingernails and all.

Forget that most of these areas are Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) and downstream communities are agricultural and coastal areas. Let us forget that we need water. The money we get from these investments will be enough. For how long, we do not know. We need to give them all the freedom and auxiliary rights for utilizing our resources. Let us forget that the mineral resources are finite, that no value adding to the materials are done, we just have to export it all unprocessed. What the government needs to do is to assure these investments to stay. Forget about human rights violations. Forget those concepts.

Let us not frame mining as the sole reason for the demise of Fr. Pops. Of course! Aside from mining, monocrop plantations, militarization are just one of the things there.

Let us forget our justice system here. We only have a legal system. It is not a justice system anyway. Let us forget how our Supreme Court, the highest court in this land can easily reverse its decision. While it takes decades for other cases, languishing with dusts, expect some controversial law to have shocking decisions (and diversions!) When Mining Law was questioned on its constitutionality, it favored the B’laan Tribal communties at first but overturned its own decision 11 months after. No GMA has nothing to do with it. The same way with the case of Philippine Airlines Employees vs its management. After 3 decisions favoring the employees, it takes only one letter from certain Atty. Estelito Mendoza for the SC to overturn its decision . No. don’t ever think about Bribery. Maritess Vitug in her book had a better way to describe that.

Forget that I wrote these in ramble and shambles, that I have been ranting in circles, tying words, finding coherence, but I cannot. This is how I see it. Welcome to chaos.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cebu Salimpusa Fullybooked!

Salimpusa. Ang salimpusa, saling-pusa, salingkit o salingket ay isang katawagan sa isang "bisitang" manlalaro sa anumang uri ng laro. Isa itong manlalarong bata na hindi pa totoong kasali sa laro sapagkat, dahil sa kaniyang murang pag-iisip at pisikal na gulang, hindi pa makasusunod sa mga patakaran at batas ng laro. Kunyari lamang na totoong kasali o tunay na manlalaro ang panauhing bata. Karaniwang isinasali nang ganito ang bata para mapagbigyan ito at maiwasan umiyak.

In this trip, I am a salimpusa in the group of my perennial travel buddy and colleague Ate Liezl. She’ll be meeting her college buddies. I just tag along and be the great salimpusa. Haha! The four women- Ate Emily,Liezl, Rachel and Bingbing became my new friends and travel companions in the Queen City of the South.

It is said that every person should maintain at least 3 kinds of friendships:
1. friends of your own age whom you can talk over your problems, plans and goals with confidence;
2. friends older than you to whom you can confide and be assured of wise counsel;
3. friends younger than you to whom you can share your life’s experiences.

It is not only in being helped but in helping others that you can find true friends.

Cebu, originally called as Sugbo prided itself with so many things. It has a lot of stories to tell. Before the coming to the Spaniards, it was the center of trade and commerce in the south. Trading with Chinese ships arrived with silks and porcelains bartered for honey, gold, wood and spices.

In 1521, the Spanish troops headed by Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Cebu and presented a Santo Niño (image of the Child Jesus) as baptismal gift to Rajah Humabon and his wife, Hara Amihan. Magellan converted most of the locals Catholicism.

But when Magellan reached the narrow strait to Mactan Island, Lapu Lapu, the chief, resisted his entry and fought against the Spanish troops killing Magellan in the famous Battle of Mactan. Cebu’s invasion was delayed until Legazpi and Fray Andres de Urdaneta arrived in 1566.

Cebu embraced Catholicism with great fervor. It’s no wonder old churches abound here. Ate Emily, our host, the Sec. of Tourism (hehe!) prepared our iterinaries. For the first day, we are the pilgrims. We visited Marian Hills in Simala, Municipality of Sibonga (located between Argao and Carcar City). It is around 2 hours travel from the Cebu City center.

Called as the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist, this is the church for the Marian devotees. It is very popular among believers for the miraculous Virgin. devotees are not just women but also men! :) I was astounded by the place. Just after a decade, the place improved tremendously. The ‘Mga Monghe ni Maria’[Monks of Mary] supervises the Monastery.

Personal letters addressed to the Virgin Mary are also displayed. Try to read them and you’ll be inspired. You can also write your petition letter or thanksgiving letter. People from different places flock to the church everyday!

From Simala, we passed by Carcar town public market and tried the famous lechon and puso (rice wrapped in coconut leaves) and softdrinks! One kilo of tasty lechon is only P300! Ate Liezl’s father cooks lechon too and as a lechon 'expert' taster , she swears it is one of the best lechon! The lechon’s tasty, you no longer need any condiments.

Aside from lechon, Carcar also is home to chicharon (not made of intestine but of pork skin), ampao, banana chips and coconut jam.

Carcar also houses the biggest shoe! Guinness World record holder which stands 3.6 meters, length of 7.6 meters and width of 2.9 meters!

Time to shop for shoes, but not for me, but for my inaanaks! (heard that Baby Kelon and Shan-shan loved those cute espadrilles!)

Then stop-overs to the old churches from the cities and municpalities we passed going to Simala. Churches in Minglanilla, San Fernaado and Carcar is just a-m-a-z-i-n-g! I always love old churches. I can get lost in the depths of its history, the power welded in the name of religion and people's manifestation of faith.

Santo Tomas de Villanueva or Pardo church

Minglanilla Church looks like a cake. It's already renovated.

San Fernando Church

Carcar Church (also known as Santa Catalina Church)

The next day is for the beach!! I love love loooooooove the beach. And it’s the reunion of Ate Liezl’s college barkada. Everyone was smitten by Clarke Isaac, ate Bingbing’s lovable son. While they keep abreast with their lives I and Clarke just milled around.

Sino ang tunay na ina?

The beach is the best place for modeling and jumpshot lessons! Hehe

By night, we visited Mactan shrine and shop for little trinkets as pasalubong. This is where guitars are made. For P1,500 , you’ll have your own guitar. I really wanted to but one for myself but I don’t know how to choose and I still don’t get the time to have guitar lessons. In time. 

But they kill starfishes to be used as ornaments! This made me cringe! :(

The island is also known for its danggit and sutokil (sugba, tola, kilaw). Fresh seafoods at Mactan Shrine is a must for seafoodies like us!

One could not leave Cebu without visiting it's historical landmark: Magellan's Cross and Basilica of Sto. Nino.

I just realized that Cebu people are really good with handicrafts. But with its fast development, nature is compromised. Water is one big problem here. The taxi driver told us their government made a dam for drinking water (is that possible?) but people from Leyte said, Cebu gets water from them. Bohol also is one supplier of potable water for Cebu as the latter continues its "development". Not just water, but also their fishes and trees! Hhhhmmmm….And as the city is fast developing and the land is now becoming limited, the solution? Reclaim large parts of the seas and make it an industrial zone!

Cebu has a lot of potentials. It is fast developing and becoming like Manila- in terms of skyscrapers and traffic! I hope Davao will not suffer the same fate in losing its potable water.

Enough with the negativity. Better dwell with positivity. This trip is finding new friends. Friends and ates who showed me that despite the societal pressures, one should be firm, enjoy and live life as it is.

Thank you mga ates for this wonderful South Cebu trip! :)

Flying to the Moon from Leyte and Back

How many times one can possibly fall in love?

Twice? Thrice?

Me? I fall every time I see the sun sets and rises! And when I went to Leyte, I’ve fallen in love countless times! (kacheeeeeezy! Echosera! Ahahahaha!)

I went to Leyte for a qualitative research method training composed also of MA students from DENR, DAR and VSU Alang-alang and us, from NGO. This is an opportunity to have short glances of love on this place. But this entails also knowing the little details that can make you squirm but its little charm will make you want to come back and fall in love all over again. Forgive me for the cheesiness but let me count the ways why I fell in love in Leyte.

I’ve fallen in love with Visayas State University’s campus! Visayas State University is the only university in the Visayas acknowledged by the Department of Tourism as a tourist destination because of its diverse flora and fauna bounding the mainland and sea from side to side. They have three ecosystem- from the mountains, lowlands to the sea! The campus covers around 8,000 hectares of land including the land reservation area in Mount Pangasugan.
With Mount Pangasugan (upper campus) and the Camotes Sea (lower campus), its administration promotes the school as a Resort University" for it has resorts, seafront suites, cottages, and bungalows catering to visitors and tourists coming over to the university.

I visited their rainforest hardening agroecological division. This is where truly endemic endangered indigenous species of trees- mala-kawayan, apitong, dao, diit and so many other species and varieties that I could not remember the name and even never heard of. One of the problems in our reforestation project is introducing foreign species like gemelina, falcata, ipil-ipil (we have a native ipil-ipil but it’s already endangered)- some fast growing trees that annihilated our endemic species. Introducing foreign species when we do not even have an inventory of our local species of trees! The thinking that anything foreign is superior made it impossible for our implementers to undertake comprehensive research/ databank of our own diverse trees. I was even schocked that mahogany is not endemic to us! When asked what’s the best tree to plant in reforestation project, Doc Buboy never gives a straight answer. Soil analysis, water holding capacity, slope are just of the many things to be considered to make it successful. For instance, you cannot plant a certain variety of hard wood speciez at a sloping hill when it is not suitable for high altitude places. Or there are plant species good for watery area like dao. Mala-kawayan, for instance are best suitable in high altitude area.
Doc Buboy Dargantes explaining tress adaptability and the mala-kawayan's agroecological properties (I could not understand some of the terms! hahahaha!)

The National Greening Program (NGP) of the present administration is not solely about planting any tree but also knowing the plant’s suitability in the area for it to thrive. In the face of global warming, reforestation program should be comprehensive and could use VSU’s expertise in determining the right tree to plant in lowland or highland, dry or water prone area! :D

Sun arising in Mt. Pangasugan

It’s sad to know that Mount Pangasugan (part of it is reservation and protected area of the campus) has several mining application. During 1990s, they successfully stopped it and the former governor were caught saying in a presscon, “Never mind the forest.” This made the people mad. He lost the vote on the next election. I think the anti-mining vote is quite huge. (This is same in South Cotabato wherein all of politicians esp. for gubernatorial position last election vowed to stop mining in the area! Hello Gov. Pinggoy! Remember the covenant you signed?!)

I fell in love with the bikes! Teachers and students use bikes in going around the campus and even in the city! (so parang Korea or Holland lang ang feeling?! Hehe) Ate Liezl wanted to take her Masters here. And we joked with Doc Buboy that we’ll apply as RA!

I fell in love with qualitative research (again?!). I like Ms. Roa’s thesis on gender analysis in food security research. It showed a different way of seeing things, of being particular and maximizing the time in the field. The resource persons in the training are very accommodating too. No air whatsoever of their accomplishments. They happily shared how research- whether quantitative or quantitative can be useful especially for policies. We are lucky to have this opportunity to meet very passionate teachers and advocates. they told us we have to an eye for details and have the framework on seeing new things at something we used to think as mundane. Crucial part of the learning process is applying theories. Our group was assigned in Brgy. Kilim, one of the coastal barangays of Baybay City. We talked to the fishermen and fish vendor. They shared their problem on the unregulated entry of commercial fishing vessels. This made them powerless, they could no longer fish. The once bountiful fishing area for small fisherfolks (only using bingwit) has to contend with vessels coming from neighboring municipalities of Albuera and Cebu City. One peculiar thing shared also is the dynamics between the residents and the “separatist” group of Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) founded by Ruben Ecleo in Dinagat Islands. They live in one sitio in Kilim, have their own resort and have their own fiesta (even grander than that of the barangay’s!). hhhmmm....

I love the old church and the plaza! They have the church built in 16th century! It is the 3rd oldest church in Leyte. It’s a classic Spanish pueblo wherein church are the center of the community’s social life.

I love the richness of the island's history! The islanders of Leyte were among the first to welcome the Spaniards but they were also among the first to resist the Spanish invaders. The early revolts and uprising against the encroaching Spaniards was started by the freedom, war–like, heavily tattooed inhabitants of Leyte known as the pintados.

The place is also known in our history books as the place where Magellan landed in the island of Homonhon. Then Magellan crossed Limasawa. On March 31, 1521 Eastern Sunday, was celebrated the First Mass in the Philippines. Although this has been contested by some historians believing that it is in Mazau in Butuan. However 1998 publication by the National Historical Institute supports its initial claim that Limasawa was the site of the First Mass.

The famous Leyte landing by General Douglas MacArthur with President Sergio Osmeña, General Carlos P. Romulo, Major General Basilio J. Valdes, and other key officers of USAFFE and the combined Allied liberating forces. It is to immortalize MacArthur's words, "I shall return."

Leyte is also in the world history as the site of the Battle of the Leyte Gulf during World War II. And the four day battle culminated in the beachhead landing of the Allied forces headed by Gen. McArthur.

Right now, it faces a different battle- the battle of political clans. Romualdezes are from here. Imelda Romualdez- Marcos' ancestral home is in Palo, his father’s house is now the Sto. Nino Shrine in Tacloban) ruled esp. during Martial Law. After EDSA, they fled fearing the strong anti-Marcos and his cronies sentiments. New political clan took over. The Petilla’s (and Cari’s in Baybay. They are related by marriage. Smooth political moves, eh?) Before the Romualdez had Sangyaw festival. The new festival was named Pintados. After several decades, the Romualdezes came back and regained their political clout. So the city had an ordinance declaring Sangyaw as Tacloban’s original festival. There once a time that delegates for the Pintados parade were blocked by the city! Leyteneos, can you keep up with this? TSK!

I just love seafoods! Our last night is seafood foodie bonding. It’s wonderful talking to Ate Daisy and Doc Buboy. Never ending talk about German technology, Leyte’s marine reservation and never-ending academic endeavors for the benefit of mankind! Hehe

Full moon seafood grill dining at Bayluan Park

In Tacloban, we dined at Bayluan Park. The Sto. Nino was lost and found in Samar. The ritual is called as “Bayluan” wherein the Sto Nino was return and exchanged.
Funny and sad that this is also a disputed place. The land is owned by the Provincial government while the development was done by the City. (Tacloban City ruled by Alfred Romualdez while provincial Government ruled by Carlos Jericho Petilla). City Hall faces Bayluan Park, guarding the place. Expect to see the fierce battle in new form in this historical town during elections.

I love Na Ning’s interiors! Sports-themed murals, funny cocktails, beers from country of your choice, games on flat screen TVs, table soccer! This is owned by the Palami siblings and located near the entrance of Leyte Park and Resort.

I love the beautiful color mats! Made from tikog, this colorful beautifully woven mats are created in Basey, Samar.

I love sunset and sunrise! I experienced one of the best sweetest sunset in Baybay and over San Juanico Bridge, the longest bridge in the country! What more can I ask for? :)

San Juanico Bridge, is 2.16 kilometer bridge and 41 meters high that crosses over picturesque San Juanico Strait connecting the islands of Samar and Leyte. The bridge is a vital link between northern and southern Philippines through the Pan-Philippine Highway. This engineering marvel was built by Japanese engineers in 1969 and finished in 1973. We were euphoric riding the motorcycle as we traverse the length of the bridge watching the marvelous sunset over emerald green waters of San Juanico Strait.

It feels like being in two places at the same time! From Tacloban to Samar within 20 minutes. Zoooooom zoom!

So, how many times does one can fall in love? 0_o


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