Thursday, July 28, 2011

Zipping our mouths in Lake Sebu

All work and no play makes one dull. So for this year, our office have our much deserved rest and recreation in Lake Sebu.This is one of the most memorable trips of crazy people.

Here's our iterinary prepared by our IT personnel, inhouse corny joker Kuya Jorge:

PS: Notice that our main stops in different municipalities are for resting and EATING!! Me gusta. :))

Day 1
8:00am Davao - GENSAN
9:00 Breakfast at MERS (Digos)

Try their hot choco and puto. Best way to perk up your day! :)

12:00nn Lunch at Nadie’s Chicken House (Tupi)

Must try chicken inasal.

Wala ng usapan during lunch. Tom Jones na sobra! :)

1:00pm Travel to Koronadal City
1:30 Break at Ojie’s Ice Cream Station (Banga)

2:00 Courtesy Call with Surallah Mayor

This not solely a trip. It is with a purpose. We met the Municipal Agriculturist and discussed Mayor Romulo "Mulong" Solivio's Program on Local Economic Development through Organic Agriculture and co-management (with DENR) of Watershed System. I salute Mayor Solivio for winning the 2009 Galing Pook with its Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Medicine Program. I salute the Leaders who truly find innovative ways to connect with private sectors without compromising his/her constituents. Padayon Surallah! :)

we went to the Surallah Organic Center near the Municipal Hall ground and bought organic products produced locally. We call for support of small farmers. :)

Ate Tess supervising the planter. hehe. This is at the Surallah's vegetable demo farm.

Talking to several organic rice farmers and the struggles they have to go through like the resistance even of their own siblings on their advocacy to stop the use of synthetic fertilizers. KUDOS TO THE STEADFAST FARMERS! YES to HEALTHY LIVING! :)

3:00 Travel to Lake Sebu

6:00 Dinner at floating restaurant and Videoke at(Punta Isla)

The wacky AFRIM peeps at Punta Isla Resort.

Day 2
7:00am Breakfast
8:00 Trekking to SEVEN FALLS aaaaaaaaaaaaand ZIPLINE

At FIRST FALLS with Ate Lizzy. We've been here before!

At the 2nd Falls. The HIGHEST FALLS.

Overlooking 2nd, 3rd (hidden), 4th and 5th Falls!

ZIPLINE. THIS IS THE ONLY THING I've been looking forward to! Try the highest (1,200 ft) ride of your life! Pay P250 on weekdays (P300 on week-ends) to be scared and to shout your hearts out. Ate Lizzy, my perennial partner and I had the time of our life, watching Fall 2 to Falls 5. Exhilarating experience. Here's the proof! :))

12:00nn Lunch at 2nd Falls

Eat all kinds of tilapia dishes. Try the chicharon tilapia, deep fried, sinugba, paksiw, sinigang, fillet,nilasing na tilapia. After 2 days, you'll never look at tilapia again! LOL! Hey! Don't worry. They do serve other dishes. Try the nilagpang na manok. :)

1:00pm Boating around the Lake

Ang inulang boating na hindi nagpatigil sa kakiatan ng lahat! :)

6:00 Dinner
7:30 Midyear Assessment (All tired. But we have to do this. Or else! )

Day 3

7:00am Travel to Surallah
7:30 Breakfast at Kipot Hito Farm (Surallah)
8:30 Travel to Kablon Farm for exposure(Tupi)

We met Eunice, the HR/ Admin Manager of the farm. it was enriching talking to her experiences- about working in a corporation and going back to help in the family business. She's a young professional with a vision.:)

12:00 Lunch at Sarangani Highlands

Ang pag-eemote ng inyo pong lingkod! Patawarin naman. hehe

1:00pm Shopping for Tuna products/ Dried Fish
2:30 Halo-halo at Razon’s
3:00 Travel back to Davao for other staff while I went hoem again to attend the National IP Women Gathering in Koronadal City.

It is one of the best lakbay laag! :)) I'm still floating.

To my dear readers, you might want to use the above iterinary when you want to travel to Lake Sebu and Gensan.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Saying Adieu to the Trio

Proud to be part of the Harry Potter Generation

1090739 words. 3363 pages. 199 chapters. 7 books. 17 hours and 14 mins. 8 movies. One generation: The Harry Potter Generation until the end.

Rowena Angela Salanga (Roan) was the culprit (in a good sense!). We were in second year high school when she gave me a book. "Maych basahin mo. Maganda ang story. Wizard ang bida. It's addicting, " she told me. She knows how I devour books. Her aunt sent her a copy of that book that changed the landscape of my (and yours!) adolescence.

The first book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was already famous abroad and Warner Brothers got the rights of adapting it into the silverscreen. It was one of the most successful movie franchise that involved our generation.

Came December 2001, Harry, Hermione and Ron debuted in the movies and we felt like we were part of that magical world. Many got interested to read the book. Roan's book suffered the eagerness of students from two classes. It passed from one hand to another until it got lost.

We were bewitched. Every time the new book was released, I watched out who got it first and has to ask him/her to let me borrow it first. I offered Roan to cover the second book for her. We were poor and I could not afford to buy the books, so I have to be a good borrower. :))

When a friend got the Chamber of Secrets, I only got one day (and it's a school day!) to read it since the list of borrowers are loooooong. Instead of listening of Ma'am Ocate's lecture on how to name the organic chemicals, I accompanied the trio in their adventures to find the basilisk.

J.Rowling is a master story teller, weaving a new magical world for our generation. We feel like we are Muggles who wanted to have a taste of Hogwarts. Harry Potter is not only for children. I knew a professor who got hooked on it too. And I was not surprised that even one of my boss, is also a fan.

It's a book that crossed beyond borders, age and religion. Some said, HP encourages witchcraft and occultism. Nah! While the previous generations had Star Trek, Star wars, Lord of the Rings, well, our generation enjoyed Harry Potter.

So when Twilight by Stephanie Meyer was released, comparing it to HP is inevitable. And Stephen King (one of the best suspense writers) compared both authors. He wrote: "Both Rowling and Meyer, they're speaking directly to young people... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn. She's not very good." (emphasis mine)." And this picture also circulated.

(He got a point somehow! hehe)

I wrote about this on my other blog and my friends and I had an interesting discussion. Harry is Harry. And Edward the vampire is another matter. For as long as this generation will read! :))

Harry Potter spans years of waiting - from high school to college. I even saved my allowance (that entails no merienda and just writing notes, no photocopying just to save! hahaha!) just to buy my first ever HP book- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I awaited his adventures and transformation. I feel like they were our friends I grew up with. I cried when Dobby was killed. I cringe at the thought that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named will rule again. I analyzed and speculated who'll probably be Harry's love interest in the end- Luna or Ginny? I giggled when Harry and Ginny finally kissed. (And I know you have felt these too!)

And last night, was the second part of the last movie. As early as Monday, we booked our tickets at Abreeza. And as expected, it was almost full. While lining up, we were surprised that the ones on the line were already grown-ups. No High school students in sight. And then we laughed. Of course. The loyalists remained, it was our generation, most are now working or even have their own families.

The thought that we would be saying adieu to this wonderful trio made us all sad. Tears started to fall when professors were muttering spells to protect Hogwarts. It was the start of the Ultimate battle between good and Evil. As the credits roll, I cried as if I'm losing a friend. OA na kung OA.

To JK Rowling, Thank you for making us experience the magic. For the actors, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe, thank you for growing up with us. As you leave Harry, Hermione and Ron behind, it is not the end. The magic continues. :))

And to my perennial date, Ate Lizzy thank you for being a good company. Thank you for the donuts that cheered me up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Davao's Law and Order and Sensationalism

It was the first ever flashflood in the history of Davao. The bridge just cracked. The First Elected Woman Mayor's hands are full. And as if it's not enough,an impending demolition was set in Agdao. And her punches akin to pound for pound champion Manny Pacquiao's punches, put Mayor Inday Sara Duterte in the headlines! Ang Bagong Pambansang Kamao, Korina Sanchez said.

Photo from

Then the lines were drawn. Non- Dabawenyos, those in Manila especially viewed how rude the Mayor is. How she put the law into her hands immediately. The gender aspect were analyzed. "If Inday is a male, would the people react differently?" Dabawenyos (and its adopted children) particulalry those in the demolition area, on the other hand cheered.

It is true that Inday Sara knew and approved of the demolition. What she wanted is only a two-hour extension. Will it make a difference? The Sunstar editorial wrote it well:

And that is what is lost in a lot of bureaucrats: the understanding that most of the time, the people, especially the masses, would just want their leader to be there when the worst hits them. Their leader need not even have to cause a demolition order to be stopped, and their leader may even just watch on the sidelines with them while their houses are ripped to pieces. For them, that is enough. Mere presence of a respected person, sometimes, is enough because in that mere presence, they find some assurance that somebody in authority has seen their situation, and thus will be able to think up of some concrete actions.

This was what was lost on President Benigno C. Aquino III when he arrived to visit the flood victims of Cotabato City more than two weeks after tens of thousands of evacuees have already been suffering from the floods. Thus, by the time he arrived, the people no longer saw in him the leader they believed in. No wonder both the Cotabato city mayor and the people did not have anything good to say about his visit. Apparently, still clueless about the nuances of leadership, Malacañang attacked the Cotabato city mayor instead and enumerated what has already been given - including the heavy equipment that was removing the water hyacinths from Rio Grande de Mindanao coursed through the Department of Public Works and Highways, and the sacks of rice coursed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Much like a father making up for his absence by delivering all that a child wants, when the child only needs his presence.

There are nuances of leadership for a people to respect and follow their leaders, and most of the time, these are not about material things and sweet promises. Leaders after all, are looked up to for their vision, guidance, and reassuring presence.

When Mayor Inday called for a two-hour hold so she can be there with the people, even after she said she can no longer do anything to stop the demolition, she demonstrated an understanding of this kind of leadership, and thus we can only applaud, but, let us make this very clear: not for the punches thrown but for the understanding.

What was also lost in the discussions are the guidelines on conducting demolitions. Who really violated the law? There is a 30-day allowance before the demolition will be conducted.

Manong Alex, the taxi driver I talked to from the airport has valid questions raised too! "Why is the piece of land bought by a Chinese businessman when the other side was already distributed to its settlers (or squatters, if you prefer)?" Why it was not checked that there are about 3-4 families who had titles on that area?" Questions that no one dared to scrutinize. Also, when Mayor Sara was punching him, she was muttering, "Kabalo ko naay nagpaluyo nimo nga dagkung tawo, usa ka negosyante...(I know there is someone behind your back, powerful people, a businessperson...).." but it was already lost in translation. Frenzy ensued and judgments were hurled.

Manong Alex' point of view is something to think about too. "Pag dili ka adunahan, kaluoy ra jud ka tawon. Ang atong balaod dinhi murag para ra man sa adunahan. Mulihok jud ang hustiya para nila. Kitang pobre maghulat ra tawon." (If you are not rich, you are pitiful. Our law it seems is only for the rich. Justice works for them swiftly. For us poor, we have to wait long)."

He has a point. And I could not argue for we know how excruciatingly slow our justice system is. Look at the Amptuans. And look what happened to the Vizconde case.

Manong Alex is even critical at how the case is shown. Look at how they treat the "news." Sensationalism at its core! Footages were shot by Davao-based reporters but the ones who report are their colleagues from Manila. And we know the power play in media. A Davao-based reporter declined when he was asked to make "an angle" and point the Duterte mafia-like rule. The "Dudirty finger" was one of those antics, perhaps?

No I don't say that punching Abe Andres justified Inday Sara. Not even the dirty finger. But when context and everything is blown out of proportion, we will be at loss.

Kuya Blogie Robillo also cried foul on the misleading news report from Inquirer about the demolition incident.

To have a better understanding on this morality vs legal ethics vs governance, try to read Randy David article on this. Or maybe Lourd de Veyra's funny, sarcastic way of seeing Sara as TNL would be better read.

Sana mas makakita pa tayo ng maraming ganito sa gobyerno. Sapakan. Mukhang mas may resulta pa ‘to kesa sa mga walang katapusang mga imbestigasyon at hearing (in aid of lecheng legislation). Wala namang pinupuntahan. Hindi sibilisado? Sa panahong ito, ano na ba ang depinisyon ng “sibilisado?” Ang magpakapormal na pakikipag-usap (malalim ng Ingles) sa lobby ng Manila Pen, pag-suot ng Amerikana habang ninanakaw mo ang pera ng taong bayan? Ang magkaroon ng bwarsh-bwarsh na accent sa korte habang pinagtatanggol mo ang isang pamilya ng mamamatay-tao?

And I presume, many reechoes Lourd's sentiments (as quoted above). And as Prof. Randy said, a new folk hero was born.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Sweetness of Guimaras

Guimaras is a part of the Iloilo Province until May 22, 1992 when it proclaimed its autonomy by virtue of R.A. 7160.

Its original name was Himal-us after the folktale of the lovers named Princess Guima and the slave Aras, who defied tradition for their romance. This island is full of splendid white sand beaches and island coves and touted as the "Next Boracay". (Bubble thought: I know Bora is famous world wide for its fine white sand beaches but due to no proper planning,unregulated massive construction of business establishments in the area, the place is threatened of siltation, loss of white sands and drainage problem. So I hope Guimaras will NOT BE THE NEXT BORACAY. IT SHOULD LEARN FROM ITS EXPERIENCE noh?)

It is a 20-minute boat ride from Fort San Pedro, Iloilo. The fort was built by the Spaniards in 1616 to defend Iloilo from the Dutch, English and pirates of Mindanao.

Guimaras Island, is known for its “sweetest mangoes” and it has around 8,000 hectares of mango orchards. The National Mango Research Institute is located in Jordan. According to the guide, the mango variety here was even certified as pest-free by the US Department of Agriculture.

To protect their mangoes, they even prohibited the entry (and maybe going out?) of their mango varieties. Oro Verde Mango Plantation in Jordan and Nueva Valencia has around 18,000 hectares.

Guimaras prides itself with unspoilt beaches. The beaches along Sitio Alubihod, Nueva Valencia is a popular destination. The white sand and clean water is ideal for the beach bums like me! You can also enjoy island/islets hopping for P400 (good for 6 persons) and P150 for extra hour thereof. You can visit Isla Naburot, Sta Maria and other islets.

Never miss the oldest existing Roman Catholic Church in Navalas, Buenavista. It was built in 1880-1885. According to legends, there was a bell, more than four feet feet but it was said to be carted away and dumped into the sea by raiders from Mindanao.

To feel rich, powerful and an overseer of the island, go to Roca Encantada. The summer house owned by the Lopezes was built on 1910 on a huge rock. It was declared as a Heritage House by the National Historical Institute on 2002. It was captivating yet gives you an eerie feeling. Never forget to ask permission from the spirits of the Lopez ancestors! hehe

Guimaras beaches are secluded and solemn, can really rest the weary soul. Take the plunge in one of its beaches. To tour and know more more of the island, you can visit

Guimaras brings out the Summer Goddess in me! haha (parang plug lang sa commercial eh. :))

till the next trip. :))

Iloilo: Renewing the License to Brag

“Ang kwarta sa Iloilo ginapiko ginapala!”

This is the usual jocular way of describing Ilonggos. Ilonggos has dominated some areas here in Mindanao due to the National Settlement program during former President Carlos P. Garcia's administration. Among those who came in droves were my maternal grandparents. My Lola Luz came from Sta. Barbara while my Lolo Ciano hails from Barotac Nuevo.

I grew up with my Lola (Lolo passed away a year before I was born). I grew up with her stories of aswang, tikbalang, Tinyente Gimo and the richness of the place. I wanted to explore that part of our identity; the proud and feisty Ilonggo blood running on our veins. Although I studied Grade I there, I could no longer remember what the place has been like. It has been 14 long years.

As early as February, I already booked my flight (Thank you Lance Gokongwei!). Iloilo is formerly known as Irong-irong (because of its nose-shaped perhaps?).According to the Maragtas legend, one of the datu, Datu Paiuburong was given the Irong-irong territory. This is land with a proud colonial past and it is one of the oldest cities in the country. A place full of historical landmarks. When I saw the pictures of old churches taken by fellow Ilonggo Kuya Kitoy Bacongco, I was seized with nostalgia. I envy the sweet slowness of ancient cultures. For instance, Egyptian and that of Greek culture lasted with several thousand years. Life it seems first imitates slowness then gradually accelerates more and more. And we are now quite taking so much for this swiftness of changes and losing also much. (Preservation of artifacts came too late. Most have been destroyed).

When the plane touched my grandparent’s homeland, my stomach was already grumbling. The memories of La Paz batchoy made me drool. My aunt brought me to Deco’s Original Lapaz Batchoy (Iloilo’s oldest since 1938). Batchoy is a soup slivers of pork, innards, miki (egg noodles) and sprinkled with chicharon (crushed crisp pork rind) on top. It’s best partnered with pandesal de pa-a. Never miss Pancit Molo a dumpling soup that originated in Molo (the Chinese district in the city’s early history). For uga (dried fish), pinakas (split dried fish) and pusit (dried squid), Estancia is the place to be.Guinamos (shrimp paste) is also a popular condiment mixed with kalamansi and/or sinamak (vinegar with garlic, ginger, siling labuyo/ local chili). It is good sauce for eating sinugba (grilled) fish. Nomnomnomnom! Tambo (bamboo shoots) with coconut milk and spinach is also an Ilngoo delicacy. Add it up with crabs and you're up for a gastronomic experience! My aunt also cooked santol scraped, dried and cooked with coconut milk, hipon and chili. Tasty appetizer. (With these foods, it's no wonder why I gained another 2kilos! Hahahaha!)

Always ensure your stomach is full before starting your adventure!

First stop is the Provincial tourism office (they will give you a map, list of travel agencies, tips on going around the city).

Just beside it is the repository of rich history of the place, the Museo Iloilo. Entrace fee for students is P15, while working adults fee is P25.00.

Then walk around CALLE REAL, the city center. Old buildings with Art Deco design abound- Buildings converted to shops and commercial center. According to the local Tourism office, shops along J.M. Basa and Iznart Streets where Dr. Jose Rizal bought a hat in 1896 on his way to Manila coming from his exile in Dapitan.
Maybe that was the hat he used during his execution. Hhmm..Maybe I should ask historian Dr. Ambeth Ocampo on this. :)

Take the local jeepney for full adventure. I love hearing them talking in Hiligaynon. gabawod-bawod gid ya! Pleasant to the ears and there are many words I haven’t heard for so long.

Honey, my cousin and playmate before asked me.
Ti sin-o imao mo? ” I didn’t understand her. She has to asked again. “Sin-o upod mo ba?” (We usually use Upod instead of imao which means company).
Ido instead of ayam (which means dog); utod instead of bugto (which means siblings). The evolution of language is quite interesting. (Which makes me miss my Language teacher, Ma'am Mau Saclot!)

As advised by the Tourism office, first stop would be the Sta. Isabel Ungria Cathedral, better known as Jaro Cathedral. It was completed in 1874.

The santos (sculpted figurines of Catholic saints) that line up its massive columns are all males. Historical tidbit: The propagandist Graciano Lopez-Jaena was baptized here. And a park in front of the cathedral is also named on his honor. In front is the big statue of Nuestra Senora are big candles with prayer lists. I prayed for my cousin Angel in all of the churches for her nursing exam. She wanted to be the topnotcher. haha!

Moi and my one day date/suitor. Late summer fling?! haha!

Heritage mansions are also around the area. Some are already abandoned, others are converted into antique shops or were left with the caretakers.

Then I went to the so called “Athens of the Philippines”. Known for its Neo-Gothic style, the Sta. Ana Church, aka Molo Church stands tall in grandeur in front of the town’s plaza. It was built in 1831 and served as evacuation center during World War II.

While the santos in Jaro Cathedral are all males, here all you see is female saints lining the columns. Oh, before leaving the church, never forget to try also the hot freshly-cooked bibingka at the plaza! :)

I haven’t able to stop at Miag-ao Church(one of the UNESCO’s Heritage Site) and other churches (San Jose, Church at Leganes, among others) but one of the things you’ll observe is the lavishness of the structures and the design inside! This is perhaps, one of the ways how Catholic Ilonggos “brag”- bragging their spirituality and finding solitude in the lavish church interiors and preserving the landmark that witnessed its growth.

For the Baptists, do not fret. In fact, the Jaro Evangelical Church is the 1st Baptist Church in the Philippines! (It's just near Jaro Cathderal).

My trip would not be complete without meeting the relatives. Nanay Vergel and Tatay Pardo were my foster parents when I stayed for more than a year here, when I was still 6 years old.
“Buhay run! (All grown-up!) Kag gwapa!(and beautiful)" they both remarked. Abaw! paryente ta gid kamo. hahaha

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~From the television show The Wonder Years

Guinacas, Potatan.
This is the place where I learned how to read the time (I was blackmailed that I can't watch Cinderella if I won't learn reading minutes and hours.That was a good motivation, I think. hehe); how to cook leche flan (I remembered Manang Anna Lissa telling me to get Lola Maring’s Alpine milk), and most of all, how to love reading! Manang Anna Lisa’s pocketbook collection and Archie Comics, I'd like to think improved my reading habits. I first learned how to read Helen Merez love stories than the usual yellow abakada. hehe. I remembered the Yellow Sweet Corn and kikay hair clips and ponytail pasalubongs of Ate Paypay. These are the elder sisters I have grew up with who influenced me in more ways than I can enumerate here. THANK YOU SO MUCH for making me a part of your family, making me feel the bunso! :))

And the most hilarious memory? I am a truant. I skipped school in the afternoon because I am afraid of the big mango tree on our way to the school! No.I fear the pink pig with high heels holding an umbrella living in the mango tree! Children in the neighborhood said if you're alone, this pink pig abducts children! (hahahahaaha!) So I end up lying (faking illnesses sometimes) or being TOO late since I have to wait for someone to come along. I laughed at this memory. Creative childish imagination weaved out of proportion from superstition of elemental beings I used to hear as bedtime (or brown-out nights) stories.

One thing with Ilonggos is, they act as if everybody knows everyone. You will usually hear from the elders:

“Kilala mo si Toto? Tong nanay niya si Inday Buka nga bata ni Nay Atro tong halin bala sa Leganes nga may mga anak na diri sa Pavia. Nga iyang mga bugto sila Ita, Nene Dalia”..and the list goes on, connecting someone with his/her siblings, parents' name, place of origin, where they are now located all in one sentence! That’s the way of remembering a person and introducing him/her. This puts importance to the family background of a person. And Ilonggos usually call the children Nene or Toto! :))

“Maayo nang mahibal-an kay basin malahian buang! (Better to know the background and we might be mixed with crazy genes) ” my Lola Luz once remarked when I asked her why Ilonggos insist in interrogating a guy’s background immediately when wooing a girl.

Aside from the strong memory of familial ties, women are also lovers of color textiles. The place is known for its Patadyong and hablon. One should go to Oton and Miag-ao but since it was raining heavily a day before my flight to Davao, we (my aunt and I just look around at the textile shops around Calle Real.

For the pasalubongs, you can buy biscocho (butter toast with sugar) from variety of choices- Wewin’s, Old Biscocho House and Merci’s. But I recommend Merci’s since they give 10% discount to travelers. Just present your ticket and ID.

Traveling to Iloilo is not complete also without going to its sister province- Guimaras. (Next on my blog.)

Memories are fragile. But when you start to take the path where you used to trudge, memories are like winds blowing endlessly; time carrying the names and deeds of yesterdays.

I am glad I came back. I am glad to renew the family ties.

In a complex, mobile society like ours, life's tapestry gets shredded. The continuity of our lives is ripped by transience and fragmentation. Community is fragile, torn, scattered. Our need to examine and to share our stories is vital--for our own mental health, for our relationships and our cohesiveness in community, and for the good of a future that can learn from our past."
Dolly Berthelot

Bugal ko nga ako Ilonggo. Wala na ya tikal! "_"



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