Archive for the ‘human interest’ Category

Imperialist (In)Justice: The Case of Sergeant Calloway

April 21, 2009

Battalion Sergeant-Major John W. Calloway, US Army, fought the Spaniards in Cuba, and then the Filipinos for two years, 1899-1900 – when an order was made in Manila that he be reduced in rank to private and discharged “without honor”. What was it that impelled the American colonial officials to rid themselves of this fine African-American non-commissioned officer who had served his country faithfully for ten years, and whose character had always been rated “excellent”, his “services eminently satisfactory”? Why was he dealt with through administrative procedures rather than a court-martial for the treason of which he was suspected?


Battalion Sergeant-Major John W. Calloway, US Army, fought the Spaniards in Cuba, and then the Filipinos for two years, 1899-1900 – when an order was made in Manila that he be reduced in rank to private and discharged “without honor”. What was it that impelled the American colonial officials to rid themselves of this fine African-American non-commissioned officer who had served his country faithfully for ten years, and whose character had always been rated “excellent”, his “services eminently satisfactory”? Why was he dealt with through administrative procedures rather than a court-martial for the treason of which he was suspected?

Calloway had become friendly with a number of Filipinos, as had many black soldiers who felt sympathy for people who were often treated as inferior and uncivilized. It was a familiar and deeply disturbing scenario, especially as the white Americans referred openly to Filipinos as “niggers” In the case of Calloway, it led to disaster. He had some education, a printer by trade, and was an astute, thoughtful man. He did an informal survey, interviewing Filipinos about their feelings toward the war and the occupying troops. In this process he learned a great deal about the real nature of the war, so different from the benevolent mission portrayed in the media at home (and in The Manila Times and the Manila Freedom, the jingoistic and imperialistic American-owned press.) The Sergeant wrote to an African-American newspaper in his hometown, the Richmond Planet, that the black soldiers were “between the devil and the deep sea” in regard to the war. They faced the dilemma of doing their duty for America where their people were repressed, while they were repressing the nationalist ambitions of a colored race which they found anything but uncivilized. And the concept of inferiority was, of course, anathema to him.

But Calloway went further. Having befriended the Consunji family of San Fernando, Pampanga in February 1900, he wrote to Tomas Consunji that he was “haunted by the feeling of how wrong, morally, we Americans are in the present affair with you. What a wrong to crush every hope and opportunity of a youth of a race… Would to God it lay in my power to rectify the committed error, and compensate the Filipino for the wrong done.” Calloway made other comments, some of which were along the lines that with the growth of education in the country they would gain their independence. He was obviously influenced by the conservative American black leader, Booker T Washington. None indicated an intention to assist the insurgents in any way.

Unfortunately for the Sergeant, the Consunjis, in particular the father Antonio, were under surveillance by US intelligence agents. They reported that the pair were “well known sympathizers with the insurrectos” and Tomas was said to have acted as a “political agent” for them. Perhaps this was particularly worrying to the Americans as they employed him in their own bureaucracy. Later, in justification of his friendship with the Consunjis, Calloway made the point that contact with him seemed appropriate. To no avail.

In October 1901, the Consunji house was raided and Calloway’s letter was discovered. As a result he was given a Court Martial. But strangely, he was charged with “breaches of discipline”. It was alleged that “being a married man” he had “lived in open adultery with a native woman”. Calloway was acquitted – the evidence did not support such a charge. A later official report indicates that “Mrs. Calloway is now in Manila, and apparently on good terms with Calloway, whose release she is trying to bring about.”

It is likely that the Army officials believed they had no case for treason based simply on the letter. No doubt they did not want to reveal the extent of their surveillance operation. (It was Calloway who told the Consunjis of his troubles three years later.) Another motive would have been to avoid the revelations that he had been especially sympathetic to the Filipinos as a result of hearing Tomas’s descriptions of US forces’ brutality to the population of San Fernando. Such allegations would have been spread all over the press in the Islands, and at home by the Anti-Imperialist forces. The Americans seem to have tried to destroy his career by using a trumped up charge.

Having failed to convict Calloway, the Americans were determined to get him out of the country as they considered him an “ extremely dangerous” character. Indeed, the American officials were concerned at the degree of friendship which had developed between their black soldiers and the “natives”. Reports of the number of marriages between them was a matter of particular concern.

Calloway, of course, denied that he was in any way treasonous, pointing to his dedicated service and his heroic volunteer mission some months previously in which he had to sneak through insurgent lines at night to deliver an important order to attack them. He tried to explain that he had private sympathy for the plight of the Filipinos, and that his hope was for them in the future, but that in no way detracted from his commitment to do his public duty for his country. He said this while reminding his interrogators that his people had been very badly treated for hundreds of years back home. He was not afraid to speak the truth to power! Calloway sought a court-martial for the alleged treason so that he could be vindicated.

Instead of another court-martial, the next step against Calloway was to build up the case for an administrative procedure leading to his deportation and discharge. Asked for a recommendation, his Regimental Commander, who had only served as such for three months, showed his prejudice as well as a common fear that the black soldiers were proving unreliable:

‘The education of this man has fostered his self-conceit to an abnormal degree, and he has shown himself to be without principle by abandoning his legal American wife for a Filipino woman… He is likely to join the Filipino ranks should a favorable opportunity offer.” He therefore recommended that Calloway be confined in Manila until he could be deported and discharged without honor. Calloway was extremely unlucky here; in October the previous year, he had been recommended for appointment as 1st Lieutenant by his previous Commander. He sought in vain to have all of his previous commanders contacted.

The matter went up the chain of command, with concurring recommendations at each level. The Commanding Officer of the Northern Luzon Department, Major General Lloyd Wheaton, commented, “In my opinion he will desert to the assasins (sic) infesting this Department if he has the opportunity.” (This was the war criminal who, after his unit was ambushed in the opening weeks of the war, ordered all villages within a 12-mile radius destroyed, and the inhabitants killed. Of course he was never prosecuted, and came to be considered a war hero for his part in defeating the Filipino armed forces.)

Although Calloway was unaware of the precise evidence against him, and the substance of the recommendations against him, he had gained a reasonable idea of what he was up against. In late November, from the National Bilibid Prison, he petitioned the military judicial office for a reversal of the orders against him. In addition to believing himself very badly treated-humiliated and abused in confinement-he also had a dream of staying in the country, in order to start a business, as many black veterans were to do. From his meager pay, he had saved about US$1500 towards that goal.

But his plea was not answered. The matter was referred to the Inspector General, who provides insight on the gaze of accusatorial authority: “Calloway is a bright man, with an adroit mind, a very good command of language, and a marked skill in evading a question and misconstruing words… In view of Calloway’s education, command of language, and knowledge of the meaning of words, as shown in his conversations, and the education of the man to whom he wrote, this letter can only be taken as meaning exactly what it says.” His conclusion: “I regard him as a dangerous man, in view of his relations with the natives, as shown by this letter, and the circumstances of his court-martial.” So dangerous that he concurred with the recommendations to deport and discharge without honor, but added that Calloway “not be allowed to return to these Islands as a civilian.”

By Dec. 12 the recommendations against him were on the desk of the Commanding Officer in the Philippines, who agreed with the conclusions of his Inspector General, and concurred that Calloway should be deported, demoted to rank of private and dishonorably discharged.

In a last ditch attempt to have his case properly heard, he somehow managed to get legal assistance for the first time. His lawyer, Eber C. Smith, was an American with a general practice in Manila. The American dominated Supreme Court denied an application for habeas corpus, holding it had no jurisdiction over persons arrested by the US authorities. (Such a result in the Guantanamo Bay cases would have gladdened the heart of President George W. Bush, but the context of American repression has changed.)

Calloway was shipped back to San Francisco where he remained in prison until the case was reviewed in Washington, D.C. He again wrote a strong plea for re-consideration, pledging once again his loyalty, explaining he had never intended treason and reminding them once again of his record, especially his loyal service for many months after the letter was written. He again sought a court-martial so he could defend himself. Nevertheless, in February 1901, he was informed that the orders stood, he was officially broken in rank to private, discharged without honor.

Eight months later he attempted to re-enlist, but was forbidden to do so. Determined to prove himself, he returned to the Philippines at his own expense and found civilian work in the Bureau of Public Printing. He worked diligently for two years. In April 1904, there followed another petition to re-enlist in the Army, addressed to the Secretary of War, now William Howard Taft of Philippine Commission fame. His faith in the authorities is moving, but was quite ill-judged. The reply was swift, and negative. Subsequently, without Calloway’s knowledge, the authorities in Washington warned the Philippine authorities that a “dangerous character” was now back in the Islands, living at No. 35, San Jose Trozo, Manila.

After that rejection, it seems that Calloway was a defeated man. He appears to have returned to the USA. It is likely he was forced out following the warning about his whereabouts. What happened to him is not known. One commentator suggests that he again attempted to re-enlist to serve his country in World War I, without success.

An interesting twist to the case is that he served in the same “colored” Infantry Regiment as the famous American defector, David Fagan, who fought so effectively as a guerrilla leader with the Filipino army. It was Calloway who had counter-signed Fagan’s original enlistment papers just days before they sailed for Cuba. The regimental association with Fagan was clearly a factor counting against him. From Manila, General Arthur MacArthur, Officer Commanding, said in his official recommendation :

“It is very apparent that he is disloyal and should he remain in these islands, he would undoubtably commit some act of open treason and perhaps join the insurrection out and out. One man of the 24th Infantry by the name of David Fagan has already done so and as a leader among the insurrectos is giving great trouble by directing guerrilla bands.”(

Editorial Cartoon: TV Show

April 19, 2009


Media milage o pampasira ng screen ng tv? 😀

Huge dinosaur find in China–state media

January 26, 2009

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 14:38:00 01/26/2009

Filed Under: Science (general), Animals, history

BEIJING — Paleontologists in east China have dug up what they believe is one of the world’s largest group of fossilized dinosaur bones, including the remains of an enormous “platypus,” state press said Tuesday.

Paleontologists have discovered 15 areas near Zhucheng city in Shandong province that contain thousands of dinosaur bones, the Beijing News reported.

“This group of fossilized dinosaurs is currently the largest ever discovered in the world… in terms of area,” the paper cited paleontologist Zhao Xijin of the China Academy of Sciences as saying.

In one area measuring 300 meters by 10 meters, more than 3,000 bones were found, the report said. Since digging began in March scientists have discovered more than 7,600 bones.

Included in the find was the largest “platypus” — or “duckbilled dinosaur” in Chinese — ever discovered measuring nine meters high with a wingspan wider than 16 meters, the report said.

Zhao said the discovery of so many dinosaurs in such a dense area could provide clues on how the animals became extinct towards the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, the Beijing News said.

Scientists have also identified the remains of ankylosaurus, tyrannosaurus and coelurus, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

Xinhua said paleontologists are expecting to find many more remains in the area, which lies in a region that has produced more than 50 tons of dinosaur fossils since the 1960s.

Plans are being made to set up a fossil park in the area, but local mine operations that were suspended for the dig are eager to resume mining, it said.

Death certificate: Travolta son killed by seizure

January 6, 2009

By VANESSA ROLLE, Associated Press Writer

FREEPORT, Bahamas – Jett Travolta‘s body shows no sign of head trauma and his death certificate says he was killed by a seizure, an undertaker said Monday, after doctors performed an autopsy on the 16-year-old son of the U.S actor.

The remains of John Travolta’s son were being cremated and his parents planned to return to the United States with the ashes on Tuesday, said Keith McSweeney, director of the funeral home handling the body.

Jett Travolta had a history of seizures and was found unconscious in a bathroom Friday at a family vacation home on Grand Bahama Island.

Glen Campbell, assistant director of the funeral home, told The Associated Press that the body is in “great condition,” despite police officials who had said the teen hit his head on a bathtub.

Authorities didn’t release the results of an autopsy performed Monday, but Campbell saw the body and the death certificate, which was based on its findings.

“The only cause of death that was listed was ‘seizure’,” he said.

Late Monday, a black hearse traveled from the funeral home to the airport after the family indicated they were bringing Jett’s remains to Ocala, Florida, where they own a home. Two white jets waited as police in dress uniforms blocked access to the tarmac.

But the hearse was dispatched as a ruse, McSweeney told a news conference later Monday. He said he could not explain the reason for the decoy.

In a public statement released Sunday, John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston said they were “heartbroken that our time with him was so brief.”

Travolta tried CPR to revive his son, who may have died in his arms before an emergency medical technician took over, reported, citing Travolta attorneys Michael McDermott and Michael Ossi. They did not respond to calls from the AP on Monday.

Travolta, 54, and Preston, 46, have said Jett became very sick when he was 2 years old and was diagnosed with Kawasaki Syndrome, an illness that leads to inflamed blood vessels. Preston has blamed household cleaners and fertilizers and said a detoxification program based on teachings from the Church of Scientology helped improve his health, according to People magazine.

Police said in a statement that Jett had not been seen since Thursday when a caretaker, Jeff Kathrain, found him unconscious late Friday morning. But McDermott said that wrongly left the impression that Jett was unsupervised. He said two nannies were with Jett throughout the evening, and he does not believe the teen was in the bathroom for very long.

About a dozen security guards and Bahamian police officers patrolled around the luxury Old Bahama Bay resort community Sunday where the Travoltas have their home. The white-sand beach in front of the suites was closed.

The couple also has an 8-year-old daughter, Ella Bleu.

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham sent condolences to the Travolta family and said the autopsy is a formality the country requires in cases of sudden death to rule out foul play.

GLOBAL NEWS: John Travolta says he is heartbroken at son’s death

January 5, 2009

FREEPORT (AP)John Travolta said Sunday he and his wife Kelly Preston are “heartbroken” over the death of their chronically ill 16-year-old son, who collapsed at the family’s vacation home on Grand Bahama.

Police Superintendent Basil Rahming has said a caretaker found Jett Travolta unconscious in a bathroom late Friday morning and he was later pronounced dead at a Freeport hospital. The youth was last seen entering the bathroom on Thursday, according to Rahming’s police statement.

“We are heartbroken that our time with him was so brief. We will cherish the time we had with him for the rest of our lives,” Travolta and Preston said in their first public statement since Jett’s death.

“Jett was the most wonderful son that two parents could ever ask for and lit up the lives of everyone he encountered,” said a statement posted Sunday on Travolta’s Web site.

“We have received many messages of condolence from around the world and we want to thank everyone for their prayers and support. It has meant so much to us. It is a beautiful reminder of the inherent goodness in the human spirit that gives us hope for a brighter future.”

Preston and Travolta have said that Jett became very sick when he was 2 years old and was diagnosed with Kawasaki Syndrome, an illness that leads to inflamed blood vessels in young children. Preston blamed household cleaners and fertilizers, and said that a detoxification program based on teachings from the Church of Scientology helped improve his health, according to People magazine. Others said Jett was prone to seizures.

Michael McDermott, an attorney for the actor, said Sunday that although Jett was last seen Thursday and found the following day, he doesn’t believe that the teen was in the bathroom for a substantial amount of time.

“The police left the impression that the boy was unsupervised. No. There were two nannies with him for the entire evening,” McDermott told The Associated Press. “They made it seem like he was sent to the condo and nobody checked in on him until the next morning.”

“(Jett) was spectacularly supervised,” said McDermott, who said he has not had the chance to talk to the two nannies himself.

McDermott said he had no knowledge of Jett’s medical history but “understood he had a history of seizures.” It is unclear whether Jett was taking medication for that.

The Bahamas‘ health minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis, has said that a second, U.S.-certified pathologist will fly in at dawn Monday to assist with the teenager’s autopsy.

“I have spoken to (Travolta) and informed him that the government is doing everything it can,” Minnis said Sunday, adding he could not disclose further specifics about the autopsy.

About a dozen security guards and Bahamian police officers patrolled Sunday around the luxury Old Bahama Bay resort community where Travolta and Preston remained inside their home. The white-sand beach in front of the suites was closed.

The couple also have an 8-year-old daughter, Ella Bleu.

Travolta, 54, is trying to finish funeral arrangements and hopes to fly his son’s body to Florida by midweek, McDermott said. Travolta and Preston, 46, have a house in Ocala, Florida.

The Church of Scientology, established in 1945 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, has attracted numerous celebrity followers, and among its more famed members is Travolta, who has long been one of Hollywood‘s biggest names.(PhilStar)

Trippy Divisoria!

December 15, 2008

Darius Galang

DIVISORIA: magulo pero masayang destinasyon ngayong Pasko (PW File Photo)

UNANG banggit pa lang sa Divisoria, mamumutawi na ang imahe ng basura at sandamakmak na paninda. Makulay ngunit makalat. Pero dito ka pa rin makakakita ng pinakamurang bargain ng kung anumang hinahanap mo.

Tamang-tama ba sa Pasko?

Oo naman. Sa bawat taon lumalala ang krisis at tumataas ang presyo, pero kaban pa rin ang Divisoria ng mabababang presyong bilihin. Anuman ang naisin mong bilhin, chances are, sa lugar na ito mo sila makikita.

Maaga nang nagbubukas ang mga tiangge rito ngayong panahon ng kapaskuhan. Kaya, ihanda na ang tsinelas o sneakers sa pag-iikot! (Hmm, magbaon ka na rin ng ekstrang damit kung pagpawisan ka man.)

Tahanan ang Divisoria ng ilang lugar-pamilihan, kasama na ng mga kalyeng mistulang ginawang palengke. Mula sa pagpasok mo mula Recto, masasamsam mo na ang amoy ng tinitindang inihaw na pusit. Dumako ka pa at makikita mo ang ilang naglalako sa kariton, hanggang sa Tutuban Mall kung saan naka-tolda na ang mga nagtitinda.

Kung maglalakas ka ng loob, maaari mong ikutin ang kabuuan ng Talipapa, este Divisoria. Pa-kaliwa galing ng Recto, at matutunton mo ang Mall 168. Dito ka mamili kung gusto mo ng de-aircon (bukod sa interior ng Tutuban Mall, ito pa lamang ang naka-aircon na lugar sa Divisoria).

Pagkalabas mo ng 168, matutunton mo na ang daan tungo sa Juan Luna St. Mistulang isang mosh pit, isang mahabang palengke ang kalyeng ito. Pag-iingat–doble, tripleng pag-iingat–ang dapat mong gawin sa iyong mahahalagang dala-dala. Pramis, ang isang sampung-minutong kalyeng lakarin ay aabot ng di-kukulanging isang oras. Hindi lamang dahil sa pagtingin-tingin ng mga paninda, kundi maging sa pakikipag-gitgitan sa dami ng taong paroo’t parito.

Malpit-lapit na ang Divisoria Mall mula rito. Dito ka mamili ng kung anu-anong surplus canned goods, laruang galing sa Tsina (marami ritong imitasyon ng sikat na Gundam, Pokemon, kahit pa Tamagotchi, malapit-lapit pa ang kalidad sa orihinal), at mga kendi, lahat nakapresyo sa murang halaga. Ingat lang sa melamine.

Padako na sa port area ang palengke. Bagsakan ng sariwang gulay at prutas galing sa mga probinsiya ang lugar na ito.

Pabalik sa Tutuban, madadaanan ang ilang makasaysayang gusali, kasama na ang KT Tower. Ang riles na ilang taon pa lamang ang nakakaraa’y nadaraanan pa ng tren, pugad na rin ngayon ng mga manininda.

Hindi mo malilibot ng isang buong maghapon ang lugar nang hindi sasakit ang paa at ulo. Kaya kung bibili ka ng isang partikular na bagay at nakita mo na ito sa isang lugar, maaaring magamit ang pagiging impulsive. Dahil kung iisipin mong makakabalik ka pa sa nakita mong “magandang damit” o “murang offer,” mag-isip ka kung makikita mo pa ang daan mo pabalik.

Isa pa, walang pag-aayos ang mga paninda dito. Hindi ito mall, kahit mayroong Tutuban o Mall 168. Makikita mong tindahan ng DVD sa isang stall, laruan sa susunod, damit na sa susunod. Mangilan-ngilan lang ang pook na nakaayos ang paninda. Mas madalas, kalat-kalat ang paninda sa kahabaan ng Divisoria.

Mag-ingat lamang sa kung anu-anong modus ng mga kung sinu-sinong makakasalubong at makakabangga mo rito. Kung hindi, maaaring hindi ka makauwi dahil sa pagkawala ng iyong pitaka. O mahablot ang iyong cellphone. May mga balita rin na kahit nasa loob ng sasakyan o dyip, nakukuha pa ng magnanakaw na sungkitin ang hikaw. Kaya’t iwasan na rin ang pagsusuot ng alahas.

Pagkain ang isang hindi mawawala rito. Sa Tutuban lamang, may ihawan sa bandang car park. Nawala nga lang iyong mga Tsinong naghahain ng chinese inspired na fastfood. Dati kasi silang mag-aayos sa isang gilid ng Tutuban pagdako ng alas-otso. Maaaring nasapawan na ang kanilang fried rice at fried siomai ng Hong Kong style noodles. Ngunit kung hindi naman maselan ang iyong bituka, nagkalat sa lansangan ang nagtitinda ng itlog, kwek kwek, palamig, isaw, at kung anu-ano pa sa daan. Oo nga pala, nadaanan na natin yung ale na nagtitinda ng pusit.

Panaka-naka, may nag-aalok ng malalaking plastic bag na magkakahalaga pa ng ilang piso. Mainam na magdala ng sarili kung ayaw pang mabawasan ang perang pwede pang ilaan sa pamasahe.

Kaya sa pagtangkang suungin ang kahabaan ng Divisoria, alalahanin ang ilang alituntuning ito. Sa huli, ang pinakamagandang karanasan sa pag-iikot sa Divisoria ay ang umuwi nang bitbit ang iyong mga nais bilhin kasama ang mahahalaga mong dala-dala—sa makatuwid, nang hindi laslas ang iyong bulsa, sa kahulugang literal o piguratiba.


Ngayong Pasko, ayos lang ang sharing ng regalo, huwag lang ang sharing ng sipon

December 14, 2008

Priscilla Pamintuan

TAGLAMIG na naman. Nakakalimutan man natin minsan na isipin ang Pasko – dahil krisis at halos wala nang tira sa kita para ipagdiwang ito – naaalala natin ang Kristiyanong tradisyong ito dahil sa “lamig ng simoy ng hangin” at dami ng sumisinghot-singhot, umuubo-ubo, nilalagnat-lagnat.
Siyempre, padagdag sa gastusin ang mga gamot tuwing nagkakasakit. Mas mainam nga ang preventive medicine. Sa panahong ito, magandang alalahanin ang ilang tips para makaiwas sa “sakit ng Pasko”:

Ugaliin at siguruhing umiinom na maraming tubig, juice at iba pang inuming may bitamina C. Pinalalakas nito ang immune system mo para maiwasan ang mga sakit tuwing napapadikit sa sipuning pasahero sa dyip o MRT;

  • Iwasang dumikit (laluna humawak, yumakap, humalik) sa isang taong may sipon o lagnat. Mahirap itong gawin dahil nga Pasko. Pero isipin na lamang na may dalawang malaking bagay kang maiisawan. Una, na mahawaan ng sakit niya. Pangalawa, na madagdagan na naman ang inyong anak;

  • Hangga’t maaari, huwag gumamit ng iisang baso, tasa, kutsara’t tinidor, o straw sa isang taong may sipon. Kahit na sa wala. Pero sabi nga, mahirap ito, dahil tayong mga Pinoy ay mahihilig sa sharing – kahit na ang isang plastik ng softdrinks ay pinagpapasa-pasahan sa mga barkada o magkakapatid. Kulang na lang, pagpasa-pasahan pati ang bubble gum o kendi na nasa bibig ng isa;

  • Linisan, is-isin palagi ang mga lugar at bagay na madalas na hinahawakan, nadadantaan, sa bahay. Dito posibleng nalilipat ang mga virus at germs ng mga may sipon, ubo o lagnat. Kadiring ugali ng ilang mga Pinoy ang magpunas ng malikidong kamay sa kung saan-saan. Maging mapamatyag dito;

  • Dahil hindi rin naman natin maiisawang humawak sa kung saan-saan (i.e., hawakan sa dyip, hagdan, handle ng pintuan sa pampublikong lugar, paa ni Santo Niño o ng Nazareno), iwasan na lang ang pagkuti-kuti sa mata, pagpasok ng daliri sa bibig o paglapirot sa ilong.

Siguradong marami pang ibang tips para maiwasan ang sipon at iba pa. Pero ilan na ito sa pinakamagandang payo. Hindi na namin isinama ang mga obvious: halimbawa, huwag lalanghapin ang ubo ng iba. May common sense naman siguro kayo para malaman ang common ways para umiwas sa common cold.

Sundin lang ito, at sundin na rin ang maraming tips para sa malinis na pamumuhay, at mas malaki ang tsansang mabubuhay kayo ng matiwasay, malaya sa sipon, ubo, lagnat, trangkaso. Siyempre, kailangan ding sundin ang iba pang tips para humaba pa ang buhay, tulad ng “huwag tumawid sa kalsada kapag may dumaraang sasakyan.”


Death of an NPA guerrilla

October 6, 2008

The last time I saw him in Davao City about four years ago I think, he looked gaunt. Too gaunt, in fact. He had just come down from the mountains and, as he would often do, was touching base with friends, many of them journalists like me who had covered him and the progressive movement when he was the secretary-general of the leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) in Southern Mindanao.

His skin also grew darker, and I joked that Biolink, a skin-whitening lotion, hadn’t done much for him. How could it? he said. In the mountains, where Val Mante Jr. had repaired to after years and years of being the public face of the Left in Davao, the last thing you cared about is your skin.

Val, you see, was a New People’s Army guerrilla. After legally fighting the government on the streets, he probably figured that a more meaningful struggle — albeit underground and fraught with danger — could be fought to protect the welfare of poor Filipinos who eke out a miserable living in the countryside, where the defenseless and voiceless needed intellectuals from the middle class like himself to counter a state that was becoming more and more oppressive.

It seemed as though becoming an NPA guerrilla was inevitable for Val, an expression of a higher level of commitment to a cause, if ever there was one. It was a decision that did not shock his friends. To us, it was simply a matter of time before Val decided to bear arms.

To be sure, many would scoff at Val’s decision to become an NPA and the things he stood for, dismissing this as stupidity, a mindless commitment to an ideology long discredited. Perhaps. But Val, during the times that we interacted while he was already with the NPA, would often impress on me that this “dead ideology” is far from deceased in the poor rural areas where peasants are locked in a never-ending struggle with their landlords. In these areas, for instance, a real agrarian-revolution was taking place, supplanting the bogus one being implemented by the government.

As I have personally seen in the many years that I covered the communist movement in the Philippines — and having actually camped with Val one time to do this story — this “dead ideology” is the one thing that gives many of these abused masses the hope that they couldn’t find elsewhere — hope for justice, for a decent life, and for an existence free from the abuses of the state.

Val didn’t harbor any illusion that he and his fellow communists would take over the country anytime soon. “It will probably not happen in my lifetime,” he told me once years ago. It didn’t matter to him whether the revolution would succeed or fail; as far as he was concerned, it was the right thing to do.

Whether one agrees with Val’s ideology or not, nothing can dispute the fact that, in the past three decades, the absence of good governance and the overwhelming dominance of abuse, corruption and hunger in our national life have pushed many poor Filipinos in the countryside and elsewhere to seek refuge in the bosom of the revolution, into the arms of comrades like Val And for 10 long years, Val was with them, right to the very end.

Val Mante Jr. died of a kidney illness on Sept. 22. He was 57.

Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao issued a statement about Val on Wednesday. It read in part:

Coming from lower middle class origins, Ka Val was a consummate activist, instructor, organizer, untiring mass leader, poet, literary writer, a friend, comrade and a dedicated member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Having spent more than half of his life aboveground as an activist — from being a progressive seminarian and youth activist in the turbulent 1970s to being a human rights worker in the 1980s and as secretary general of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Davao City, Ka Val decided to move on from the boundaries of legal democratic struggle.

Ka Val joined the New People’s Army in the late 1990s and spent a decade full of hard struggle, in loving and earnest service with the masses of Southern Mindanao. Ka Val, ever the practical and hardworking cadre, did not mind the intermittent fever he was suffering since last week and instead told comrades — who were worried and who were pressing him to seek medical treatment — not to fuss over him because he was fine. Ka Val finally relented, endured almost 14 hours of travel atop a hammock carried by comrades, and finally sought medical treatment at a hospital in Davao City Sunday (Sept. 21). He never fully recovered. The next day, after three attempts of resuscitation, doctors declared him dead.

The revolutionary movement and the masses would surely miss Ka Val, whose life was a stark example of loving sacrifice and whose death is as heavy as the mountains in the countryside.

Underground river gets No. 1 spot in 7 Wonders

October 6, 2008

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso

THE PUERTO Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP), home of the longest navigable subterranean river, has seized the No. 1 spot in the search for the New 7 Wonders of Nature from Cox’s Bazar Beach, Bangladesh as of September 22, 2008.

This recent development in the live ranking in the N7W has thrilled Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn, who said that although the quest is not initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it is still exciting because it’s like the “American Idol” of sites around the world that were created naturally.

“Our various campaigns to get the subterranean river to the highest rank in the New 7 Wonders of Nature have finally paid off. We are now No. 1 in the live ranking as of September 22. Let us hope that the trend remains that way,” Hagedorn said in an interview with Palawan Times.

The famous subterranean river knows no season. Every season is peak season, according to Mayor Hagedorn. This photo was taken from the website of a visitor who has already seen the splendor of the 8.2 kilometer underground river at the PPSRNP. The park has already overtaken Cox’s Beach Bazaar of Bangladesh in the recent live ranking.

Earlier, Hagedorn and the city government launched the “U R a Wonder of Nature” to swell the votes that the PPSRNP is getting for the wonders of nature search. The project provides free tours to the subterranean park – entrance fees and ride fares waived – to allow more residents of the city’s 66 barangays to visit. The campaign only requires simple conditions: that those who will avail have voted for the park and must show proof, and that they’re legitimate residents.

On September 12-14, during its participation in the 19th Philippine Travel Mart held at the Megatrade Halls of the SM Megamall in Manila, the city government got another major boost in its campaign for the PPSRNP to be included in the N7W.

Visitors who went to the booth of Puerto Princesa were encourage to participate in the effort to bring the subterranean park to the awareness of the world as a spot in the Philippines whose beauty is remains extraordinary compared to other places.

Inside the PPSRNP can be found the 8.5-kilometer navigable underground river, which is said to be the longest in the world. Domestic and foreign guests, including ambassadors and foreign attaches, have been awed by the unique cave system that it has with cathedral-like formations of stalagmites and stalactites. (PalawanTimes)

Ang Large Hadron Collider at pagsasaliksik sa larangan ng quantum physics

September 24, 2008

KUNG isa ka sa mga nahumaling sa “piksiyon” ng LHC o Large Hadron Collider, ng anti-matter, o ng institusyong CERN o European Organization for Nuclear Research na nakasaad sa nobelang Angels and Demons ni Dan Brown, humanda kang magulat na hindi piksiyon ang nakasaad sa nasabing kwento.

Pauna lang, kung nakabatay ang kaalaman sa nobela: totoo ang CERN, ang LHC, totoo ang mga pananaliksik sa loob nito, at oo, akma ang karamihan sa deskripsiyon ni Dan Brown ukol rito. Inilunsad noong Setyembre 10 2008 ang unang pagbubukas nito upang simulan ang masusing imbestigasyon ukol sa ilang mga katanungan sa larangan ng particle physics, at maaaring hanggang quantum physics.

Ayon sa wikipedia, ang LHC ay ang pinakamalaki at may pinakamataas na enerhiyang particle accelerator na gusali/makina. Isang tunnel ang nagbabahay sa 27 kilometres na sirkumperensiya ng makina sa Geneva Switzerland. Layon nito na pagbanggain sa matataas na antas ng enerhiya ang magkatunggali o magkasalungat na protons upang pag-aralan, kumpirmahin o i-(negate) ang ilang nauna nang pag-aaral sa loob ng physics.

May limang bahagi ang LHC na may kanya-kanyang pag-aambag na pagsisiyasat. Sa lima, mahalaga para sa mga physicist na malaman at imbestigahan ang kalagayan ng sansinukuban (universe) matapos ang Big Bang (o maaari pa ring manatiling teorya ang Big Bang habang iniimbestigahan ito sa mga aktibidades sa LHC).

Sa kalakhan, durugtungan ng mga pagsisiyasat na ito ang ilan nang naisainstitusyon nang kaalaman ukol sa Standard Model. Kung babalikan ang pag-aaral mula sa high school physics, ito ang teorya ukol sa pagkakaugnay ng mga hibla na bumubuo sa mga bagay (tawagiin nang matter particles). Kaugnay rito ay ang ang mga terminong quarks, leptons, spin (o galaw) ng mga ito, at ilan pang pundamental (ayon sa physics) na katangian ng mga ito. Sa kasalukuyan, tatlo sa apat na pundamental na pagkakaugnay ng mga matter particles ang nalalaman at bumubuo sa Standard Model maliban sa gravity (ayon at mula na rin sa Newton’s Law of Gravitation).

Masalimuot at masinsin ang ilang termino sa larangan ng physics, ngunit mainam na rin na malaman kung ano ang kahalagahan nito sa kasalukuyang antas ng agham. Maaaring ibalido nito ang ilang natutunan at naisaaral (hanggang naipalaganap sa publiko at mga paaralan) na kaalaman ukol sa siyenisya at physics, hanggang sa pagkumpirma sa ilan pang mga bagay-bagay. Primera sa pagsasaliksik ang Higgs boson na isina-teorya na mula pa 1964 at maaaring mag-kumpleto sa Standard Model, at ilan pang kaugnay na mga bagay tulad ng maaaring katotohanan ukol sa anti-matter, ang pagkakaroon ng black holes, o (ayon sa isang blog) ang pagkakaroon ng “Diyos.”

Sa lahat ng ikakatakot sa pagkakaroon ng ganito kalaking siyentipikong pag-aaral ukol sa sub-atomic particles, hindi maiiwasan ang pagsasama ng kalakip na pangamba ukol rito. Mas malaki pa sa takot ng nakaraang pag-sasaliksik sa nuclear fusion at fission na susi sa paglikha ng atom bombs at nuclear weapons, ang maaaring pagkakalikha ng isang black hole sa loob ng makina na kakain sa buong planeta. Kung hindi man ito, ang pagkakaroon ng anti-matter tulad ng deskripsiyon ni Dan Brown na maaari ring magamit bilang armas ang maaaring pagmulan ng takot ukol sa ginagawang siyentipikong pananaliksik.

Anu’t ano pa man, maaaring nasa kasalukuyan na ang pagiging katotohanan ng “piksiyon” ng black holes, ng anti-matter, at ilan pang mga bagay na nananatili sa larangan ng piksiyon at imahinasyon, na ilang dekada na ring nakabinbin dahil sa kakulangan ng masusing pag-aaral. (PinoyWeekly)

Pag-inom habang nasa kolehiyo, masama sa puso?

September 8, 2008

ISANG pagsasaliksik na isinagawa ng American Heart Association (AHA) ang nagbunyag na ang mga kolehiyong estudyante na malakas uminom ay may pagkakataon na ma-doble ang dami ng tinatawag na C-reactive protein (CRP). Ito ay isang biological marker para sa mga pamamaga, at naiuugnay sa mas mataas na tsansa na magkaroon ng cardiovascular problems.

Sa pananaliksik, inilinaw ang terminong heavy drinking bilang pag-inom ng tatlong alcoholic drink tatlong araw sa isang linggo, o limang alcoholic drink dalawang araw sa isang linggo. Kumpara sa moderate drinkers na umiinom lamang ng dalawa hanggang limang bote, sa isa o dalawang araw kada linggo, doble ang dami ng CRP ng malalakas uminom, at naglalagay sa kanila sa katamatamang antas na magkaroon ng problema sa puso.

Hindi pa naman malinaw ang pananaliksik sa pag-uugnay na ang pag-inom habang nasa edad-kolehiyo pa lamang ay direktang naka-ugnay sa agarang pagkakaroon ng cardiovascular problems. Kinakailangan pa ng mas mahabang pananaliksik na kakailanganing sundan ng mga sumailalim sa pananaliksik hanggang umabot ng middle age.

If C-reactive-protein levels are predictive of a future risk of heart disease, then students might be beginning a dangerous pattern, [and that’s a] reason to be concerned about college-age drinking,” ang pagpapaalala ni Elizabeth Donovan, isang undergrad na tumulong sa pagsusulat ng pananaliksik.

Isang doktor naman ang hindi naniwala sa ganitong pananaw ng pananaliksik. Ipinaalala niyang marami pang salik ang nagpaparami ng CRP, tulad ng labis na timbang, paninigarilyo, diabetes, maging ang pagkakaroon ng sipon.

Ang pinakamahalagang abiso niya ay huwag nang isipin nang husto ang pag-inom habang nasa edad-kolehiyo at magtuon sa pag-kontrol sa pag-inom.(PinoyWeekly)

It’s a boy for Jennylyn and Patrick

August 18, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – Starstruck first female survivor Jennylyn Mercado gave birth to a healthy baby boy fathered by ex-boyfriend Patrick Garcia.

(picture taken from

“Jenn gave birth to a healthy baby boy via caesarian section yesterday (Saturday),” said Mercado’s manager Becky Aguila.

“Both mother and son are doing fine. Jenn’s requesting for privacy for now.”

Mercado gave birth between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Saturday at St. Luke’s Medical Center. The baby weighed 8.12 pounds, Aguila said.

Aguila said that members of the Mercado family are very thankful to those who offered prayers and support to Jennylyn. – Aie Balagtas See, GMANews.TV

Guihulngan, Almighty: Photos from Another View

August 13, 2008

Guihulngan City, a 4th class city in Negros Oriental, is majestic, breath-taking, beautiful.
Beneath this physical beauty, however, lie stories crying to be written and told to the world.

Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 27, August 10-16, 2008

This is Guihulngan City, a 4th class city in Negros Oriental. Majestic, breath-taking, beautiful.

Beneath this physical beauty, however, lie stories crying to be written and told to the world.

field to be cultivated and planted with ricea beautiful backdrop

From this point, Mt. Kanlaon is visible, a beautiful backdrop. Guihulngan, if not the whole of Negros is also known as a socialvolcano.

Barangay Trinidad. An adolescent plows the field to be cultivated and planted with rice, one of the city’s staple.

a family walks their way

Right after sunrise, a family walks their way towards the market to sell their produce for the week.

main highway

young girl

This young girl needs to take care of these leaves to be sold, for a living.

Even the city’s main highway is beautiful: quiet, almost tranquil.
On the other hand, this can be viewed as a metaphorical image
of what is happening to the mountain barangays of the city.
People who organize themselves to stand for their rights
are being silenced.

Contributed to Bulatlat

Released Philippine eagle killed in Mt. Kitanglad

July 17, 2008

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — A local airgun hunter killed a three-year-old Philippine Eagle named “Kagsabua,” an environment official said.

Felix Mirasol, community environment and natural resource officer, said the hunter did not recognize that the bird he was shooting was a Philippine Eagle (pithecophaga jefferyi), an endangered specie.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

The 4.7-kilogram blue-eyed Kagsabua was last sighted on July 7 near Barangay Lupiangan, Sumilao, Bukidnon, the village where he was released just four months ago and was known to be missing between July 8 and 10, Mirasol said.

A search operation, he added, was immediately launched upon learning the said report.

On July 12, Mirasol said the transmitter gadget attached to the eagle’s body was found buried at least six inches in the bank of a creek.

Kagsabua is the first eagle fitted with a satellite transmitter and a VHF radio to monitor his activities.

No carcasses were found, but Mirasol said feathers identified to be that of the eagle were found near the gadget.

Walter Yabunan, head of the Kitanglad Porters Association, said they recovered last July 15 two avian feet believed to have belonged to Kagsabua.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Northern Mindanao have ordered a full-blown investigation of the shooting.

Celestinano Yabunan, head of the Kitanglad Guard Volunteers (KGV), told DENR officials that three witnesses saw a young man who shot and ate the male eagle in Barangay La Fortuna, a village next to Lupiagan.

He said the witnesses told him that the hunter was not among those who attended the information drive about the Philippine Eagle conducted in the villages around Barangay Lupiagan.

Kagsabua was also shot and captured in 2006. But it was rescued and brought to the Philippine Eagle Foundation center in Calinan, Davao City until he was released back to his home at Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park last March.

The killing of Kagsabua is a setback to local efforts to conserve the Philippine Eagle and its habitat.

Fitted with a satellite transmitter and a VHF radio that could track its activities, scientists hope to track Kasagbua to determine how vast is an eagle’s territory.

Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park covers 28 barangays in the towns of Lantapan, Impasugong, Sumilao, Libona, Manolo Fortich, Baungon, Talakag, and Malaybalay City. The park’s highest peak, Mt. Dulang-dulang, is the country’s second highest peak after Mt. Apo. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)

5.4 quake jolts Central Mindanao

July 11, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — A 5.4 magnitude earthquake rocked parts of central Mindanao early Friday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the 1:32 a.m. (1732 GMT) tremor, the epicenter of which was located 65 kilometers west of Koronadal, the capital of South Cotabato province, Philvocs chief Renato Solidum said.

The US Geological Survey put the magnitude at 5.2 and struck at a depth of 27.5 kilometers.

Intensity 4 was felt in the towns of Banga, Surallah, Sto. Niño, Norala, Tebuli, Tambakan, Polomolok, Tupi, Taktakan, and Pantangan, and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

Intensity 3 was felt in Palembang town, Sultan Kudarat province, while Intensity 2 was felt in the cities of General Santos and Cotabato, where a magnitude 7 earthquake in 1976 triggered a tsunami and killed thousands of people.

“This is a tectonic earthquake and it is not related to the Aurora quakes,” Solidum said in a text message.

Solidum was referring to the string of tremors or “earthquake swarm” in Aurora province in the northwest and nearby provinces, which started last week, and was caused by the movement of the East Luzon Trough in the Pacific Ocean.

The quake was the second moderate tremor that hit Mindanao this week according to the USGS.

On Thursday, another undersea quake, measuring 4.8 magnitude, struck 140 kilometers southeast of Davao.

The Philippines sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where continental plates collide causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. With Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao (PDI)

Sto. Tomas’ ‘longest grill’ record is in Guinness Book

July 8, 2008

STO. TOMAS–A dream come true for the smallest town in the province.

This town now holds the Guinness World Record for the longest grill with its 3,803.96-meter corn grill set up during its centennial fiesta celebration last February 11.

“We dreamed, we dared and we worked hard to achieve our goal. And now, we would like to officially announce to you that we made it,” said Mayor Vivien Villar during a press conference on Thursday following the groundbreaking ceremony for the marker that will be put up for the Guinness feat.

The official certificate for the record from the London-based Guinness World Records Ltd.  Was received by the mayor on Wednesday afternoon.

“The longest barbecue measured 3,803.96 m (12480 ft 2 in) and was created by Municipality of Santo Tomas (Philippines) in Santo Tomas, Pangasinan, Philippines on 11 February 2008,” reads the certificate.

“This made our centennial celebration last February truly a most memorable moment in our life we proved to the whole world that size is not a hindrance to achieve one’s goal in life,” said Villar.

She credited the townsfolk citing their “oneness in vision in action and in purpose” that made dreams come true.

Vice Mayor Timoteo “Dick” Villar III, who chaired the Corn Festival celebration, added, “We won because we persevered and we were united”.


The town is now hopeful that with the Guinness Record, they can now make a claim to being the “Corn Capital of the World”.

“If Dagupan City, also a record holder in 2003, is known as the bangus capital of the world, our town, using our white glutinous corn product, shall also be known as having the sweetest corn in the world,” Villar said.

The town has 352 hectares of hybrid yellow corn farms and another 15 hectares planted to white glutinous corn, the variety used for the grilling.

The record was previously held by Montevideo, Uruguay for its 1493.2-meter asado grill set up at the “Rural del Prado,” a rodeo located in the middle of one of the city’s public parks.

Meanwhile, Villar said her husband, Undersecretary Antonio Villar Jr, chief of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group, has given the town a new Ford ambulance marked Rescue 101.#(PangasinanSundayPunch)

Police launch online most wanted list

June 22, 2008

THE database of all most wanted persons throughout the country can now be accessed in the Internet as the Computer Service of the Philippine National Police (PNP) launched the “Online Most Wanted Person Registry.”

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

PNP Chief Avelino Razon Jr. ordered the PNP Computer Service to put together all the most wanted persons of police field investigative and operational units on a nationwide scale.

“This 24-hour online site will be very effective in immediately alerting all police offices throughout the country as well as the public of the possibility that a person in their community is a most wanted person,” said Razon.

The site includes pictures, vital information of these fugitives and the monetary reward for any information that will lead to their apprehension.

Topping the online most wanted list is Jose Sarmiento Panlilio alias Bong, wanted for robbery and homicide with a P5 million bounty. Panlilio is the primary suspect in the killing of brothers Ariel Real and Albert Gutierrez on July 15, 2003 in Calamba City, Laguna.

PNP Computer Service Director Teofilo Melliza Jr. said this online registry is part of the PNP Modernization Program that includes innovation in preventing and resolving crimes through information technology.

“The public, especially those with access to the Internet, is encouraged to regularly check the PNP Online Most Wanted Person Registry so they can be wary of these criminals, and to report to the nearest police office any information they have on these fugitives,” said Melliza.

This online gallery of most wanted individuals can be accessed through the PNP website ( or by visiting the direct link ( (VR/Sunnex)

Curtailed civil rights

June 6, 2008


Who says one cannot enjoy his civil liberties once incarcerated?

Before inmates at the Bohol Detention and Rehabilitation Center (BDRC) were locked up inside their cells starting yesterday for a period of one month as disciplinary measure, many of us would not have an idea of their activities while in detention.

While police teams rummaged through the different cells at BDRC yesterday, an outsider could only wonder how two inmates managed to put up private rooms for themselves carved out of the 5 sq.m. by 3 sq.m. detention cell, leaving only a small space for 11 other inmates whom he shares the prison cell.

Checking the private room, one would see that it was almost completely furnished as a hotel suite with a personal refrigerator, television, video player, stereo component and an assortment of movie and music CDs.

The two well-off prisoners settled for the temporary relief of electric fans. Nobody would have stopped them from putting up airconditioning units as the prison’s council of elders negotiated for more liberties.

One of the two had one more refrigerator outside his private room. This is where he stores softdrinks and iced water sold to other inmates.

Being in jail did not stop several other enterprising convicts to take advantage of a captive market.

Several sari-sari stores line-up BDRC’s detention area, selling a variety of goods – from table salt to cigarettes – that are considered important commodities in the prison facility.

Police operatives were likewise surprised to find out that one detention cell was turned into a bakery – complete with an improvised oven with trays of freshly baked bread.

Even the jailguards are allowed credit in the stores, according to an inmate interviewed by the Chronicle.

According to Provincial Government Media Affairs head Antonietto Pernia, visitation rights were abused. Wives of prisoners can stay beyond the allowed 24-hour visit at the conjugal room. Most wives stay for at least three days and complain being frisked by jail guards upon entry.

Aside from this, the prisoners have discretion on the use of BDRC’s budget for food and one inmate is tasked to go to the market and buy what is for the day’s menu.

Pernia said that just recently, the prisoners held their own tennis tournament even inviting non-inmates.

The council of elders (leaders of detention cells), are practically running the activities of the other inmates. They impose their own code of conduct and discipline.

The elders changed rules on visitation hours while insisting that they be allowed to cook the food themselves, thus, giving them access to knives and kitchen utensils that can be improvised into deadly weapons.

Since the 25 cells do not have padlocks after the April 13 riot, the prisoners are free to wander to other cells.

It was not until Friday last week when the elders wrote an open letter for Gov. Erico Aumentado that matters had taken a crucial turn.

The inmates threatened bloodbath and to hold barricades if two of their fellow prisoners are taken to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. The two have long been due for shipment to the national penitentiary but are still held at the BDRC due to the threats of the prisoners.

Interviewed over dyRD’s top-rated Tagbilaran-By-Nite, Aumentado vowed to institute reforms and restore law and order at the provincial jail.

It didn’t take that long as police operatives, led by Bohol PNP Director SSupt. Edgardo Ingking mapped out its operation, carried out early morning yesterday.

Ifugao prepares community on climate change impact

June 4, 2008

LAGAWE, Ifugao – The Community Dialogue on Climate Change and Natural Resource Management Systems and the Ifugao Cultural Heritage Office here is organizing a community dialog on climate change and natural resource management systems.

To be conducted at the Halfway Lodge in Banaue on June 3, the dialog expects 35 community representatives from six municipalities to discuss the results of concluded community level caucuses and interviews that seek to draw out effects of climate change on their communities and the methodologies/strategies the communities to address such.

Ifugao Governor Teddy Baguilat Jr leads the organizers which include Fred Pait, Convenor, Peasant Leaders’ Forum and Sarah Alikes, Officer-In- charge of the Ifugao Resource and Development Center, have noted that through generations, the indigenous communities have survived and developed despite many natural and manmade challenges.

“The world is reeling from the effects of climate change on entire communities, cities and islands. No one is spared, not even the rich and the powerful, although as always the brunt of the disaster strikes harder on the poor and the marginalized,” Baguilat said.

Whatever the people here experience as effects of climate change are nothing compared to those in areas hit by tsunamis, flash floods, heat waves, and other major disasters. # Vency D. Bulayungan/PIA-Ifugao(NorthernDispatch)

A Radio Drama for Children, by Children

June 3, 2008

To further inform the general public about children’s rights and to bring out more cases of neglect and abuse in the open, the Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA), an organization of children’s rights advocates, would start a radio program that aims to raise the public’s awareness on the plight of victims of child abuse, as well as contribute to its prevention by producing a show that narrates real cases of child abuse. The radio program would have children as anchors, talents, and writers.

Vo. VIII, No. 17, June 1-7, 2008

Perhaps there is no sector in Philippine society that is more vulnerable than children. Available data regarding cases of child abuse and neglect are already shocking but it is still considered to be understated as it only reflects reported and confirmed cases. According to the 2003 report of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) Child Protection Unit, the rapid increase in the number of cases of abuse filed that year is the result of the continuous efforts of some government agencies and non-government organizations to disseminate information about child abuse and neglect in both the community and national levels.

To further inform the general public about children’s rights and to bring out more cases of neglect and abuse in the open, the Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA), an organization of children’s rights advocates, would start a radio program that aims to raise the public’s awareness on the plight of victims of child abuse, as well as contribute to its prevention by producing a show that narrates real cases of child abuse.

Direktang lalahok ang mga bata. Magkakaroon ng batang anchor, batang scriptwriter at batang mga radio drama actors,” (Children would participate directly in the radio program. There will be a child anchor, a child scriptwriter and child drama talents.) Karla Umil, project head of ARCSEA, told Bulatlat. “Magkakaroon din ng mga infomercials, mga dagdag pang kaalaman kung paano maprotektahan ang bata laban sa pang-aabuso,” (The program would also include infomercials that would inform the public on how to protect children from abuse.) she added.

Through the help of  the Samahan ng mga Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (SAMAKANA or Association of United Women) and Samahan ng Maagang Pagkatuto ng mga Bata (SMPB or Association of Early Childhood Education), ARCSEA was able to organize an oral interpretation workshop last May 29-31 in preparation for the radio drama project.

The participants of the said project came from ARCSEA’s communities in Vitas, Tondo, Manresa, Tatalon, Veterans, Talanay and Old Balara in Quezon City, and Olandes in Marikina City. Umil added that the workshop participants are what they refer to as “mga abanteng bata” (advanced children) since they are already organized in their communities. This is the reason why even at a very young age, they already understand the social issues that our country is facing.

Ernesto Marcelo and Jola Mamangun of Kodao Productions facilitated the training of the young but promising children.

An optimistic soul

17-year-old Grace Evangelista is a Marketing student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She is one of the participants in the oral interpretation workshop. Evangelista told Bulatlat that being chosen as one of the junior broadcasters for ARCSEA’s project is one of her greatest achievements.

Evangelista admitted that she had difficulties doing the exercises given to them by the facilitator. But in the end, she told Bulatlat that the workshop helped her boost her self-confidence. “Andito pa rin yung kaba, natatakot na mapahiya at magkamali pero ngayon medyo nabawasan na yung ganung attitude,” (I still feel nervous though. I am still afraid to commit mistakes and be embarrassed, but it has been lessened.)

Evangelista said that, “Isa sa mga ipinaglalaban ko talaga ay makatulong sa mga bata. Kasi ako, okay naman yung estado ng buhay namin kaso everytime na nakikita ko yung ibang bata na hindi nakakapag-aral, inaabuso, sobrang naapektuhan po ako,” (I really want to help children. The economic status of our family is okay but very time I see children who are not able to study or are abused, I get really affected.)

For me, ito ay isang art. Isang sining kung paano ipapahayag sa (pamamagitan) ng drama at paano malalaman ng iba, ng lipunan yung mga bata,” (I believe that drama is a form of art that will help us disseminate information to the broader society about the current situation of children.) Evangelista added.

What’s next?

Kapag nagstart na yung airing sa radyo, marami ng magsusulputang mga kaso,” (When the radio program starts to air on radio, we are expecting that there will be a lot of cases of child abuse that would be reported to us.) said Umil. She added that even during their previous workshops, many of the participants told them that their friends are frequently beaten up a family member or even sexually abused.

This is why ARCSEA would conduct another workshop to train possible peer counselors in every community. “Sila yung magbibigay ng first aid sa kapwa nila bata na inaabuso,” (They would be responsible for giving first aid to children who are victims of abuse)

Umil said that ARCSEA has on going dialogues with other organizations like the Women’s Crisis Center and Children’s Rehabilitation Center to help abused children who would be referred by their peer counselors in every community. “Magkakaroon din ng mga piling mga bata upang magkaroon ng exposure dun sa mga centers para mas alam nila kung ano nangyayari sa mga shelter,” (There will also be exposure trips for selected peer counselors to the different centers and shelters.) Umil added.

The tentative date of the first airing of the radio program is on July 5, 2008, 5:00-5:30 p.m. at DWIZ. Bulatlat

Filipino wins UK contest with fish mucus, fungus

June 2, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—While London was abuzz with the premiere of “Sex and the City” last month, a Filipino wowed Brits with a speech on fish mucus and foot fungus.

Gian Karlo Dapul, 16, won this year’s International Public Speaking Competition conducted on May 9 by the English-Speaking Union (ESU) for his speech titled “Fish Mucus and Foot Fungus.”

“I wasn’t confident of winning. I wasn’t planning on winning,” Dapul told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Thursday. “On the plane I was just thinking: ‘Yehey, I get to stay in London for a week.'”

The incoming senior at the Philippine Science High School in Quezon City was one of the youngest contestants, yet he bested 57 speakers from more than 30 other countries, including the United States, England and Australia.

Dapul is the second Filipino to top the competition after then University of the Philippines student Patricia Evangelista won in 2004, proving anew that foreigners can speak English well. Evangelista now writes a column for the Inquirer newspaper, parent company of

The competition is one of the ESU’s most popular international programs. The ESU is an international charity founded in 1918 with the aim of fostering international understanding through the English language.

Dapul acknowledged that the other competitors spoke more eloquently of their topics — teenage sex, communism, the bane of Internet, yearning for peace — but reckoned that the content of his speech gave him the edge.

Improbable items

He delivered a speech on the wonders that scientific research could do for the country’s public health, citing for instance, researches on the curative powers of fish mucus and foot fungus.

“Although I’m only 16 years old and an incoming fourth year high school student, I know that my country has more problems than any Mathematics book. Strangely enough, the answers to some of our problems are fish mucus and foot fungus,” he said in his speech. “These seemingly improbable items are products of what we call scientific research.”

Dapul went on to point out that nudibranch, a soft-bodied sea creature, has been used in tumor research, that samples of fish mucus have certain antibacterial properties, and some types of infectious fungi that coat a person’s toes “form beneficial relationships” that support plant growth.

“New challenges are coming, and they will always confront us. What we need is an army of scientific researchers that will help find the solutions in advance. I want to be part of the army that would cross the new frontiers first,” he said.

By accident

In the interview with the Inquirer, Dapul said he learned of the ESU national competition in Manila by “accident” from a classmate — a fellow member of the high school debating team –who prodded him to join for kicks. He almost didn’t make it.

He signed up, but forgot all about it until the night before the April 8 competition.

“I checked it out, and shucks, I found out it was going to be held the next day. What’s more, I didn’t know I had to deliver a prepared speech. So I panicked,” Dapul said.

So he locked himself in his room the whole night and wrote his speech in some five hours, finding the topic of scientific research “perfect” for the ESU theme of “New Horizons, New Frontiers.”

“I crammed for my speech,” he said, recalling that he wrote down his major ideas in bullet points.

The next day, Dapul, the fourth of six children, asked his mother Rosanna to drive him to the contest venue on the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City — the first time he told his parents about the competition.

There, he found himself pitted against college students. But to his surprise and his parents’, he was named one of the eight finalists that day, and the winner, the next day.

“We were all surprised. They were just telling me to do well so I could land second or third place,” he said.

The national contest was initiated by a Philippine chapter of the ESU, which has been sending representatives to the international competition each year since it was formed in 2002 by a group of Filipino writers.

As the winner, Dapul represented the country in the ESU’s international public speaking competition in London, and delivered essentially the same — but more polished — speech.

Last speaker

On May 5, Dapul traveled with his father Santi to London, and stayed for a day at the home of his brother Omar before he checked in at a hotel, an accommodation provided by the ESU.

During the semifinal heats at the ESU headquarters in Dartmouth House, the young Dapul was bracketed with 14 others, including native speakers of English from the United States, England and Australia. He was the first speaker.

“After my speech, I watched the others. They were really, really good. I felt nervous for the first time,” he recalled.

In the end, only he and another Chinese student in their bracket moved on to the finals, along with six others, later held that day at the US Embassy. This time, he was the last speaker. After his speech, he fielded questions from the audience.

Scientific romance

“In the finals, I was more confident. As they say on ‘American Idol’ (reality talent show), the last spot is the winning spot. It gave me confidence because I saw what I was up against,” he said.

“They had good delivery, but I had better content. That’s what I told myself then,” he added.

After he was declared the winner, Dapul was presented a winner’s cup and a silver gavel. The cup stayed at the ESU headquarters for display. In November, he will be presented with a certificate at the ESU awards ceremony by Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, at Buckingham Palace.

Choosing scientific research as a topic was just natural for him, said Dapul, who has been a consistent director’s list scholar and an officer of the student council since his freshman year.

By focusing on the topic, he was able to highlight potential researches, particularly those dealing with cures to diseases, waiting to be discovered, tested and applied.

Likes trains

“I thought that if people saw how our research can actually help, not only here but also internationally, the government might notice and start funding the research,” he said.

Of his London experience, Dapul relished the rollicking fun he and the other students had while touring the city, including visits to the House of Parliament and a theater.

“The most exciting part was commuting on [subway] trains. I’m not really fond of the attractions. The trains were intersecting. It was easy to get on and off. It was very convenient,” he said.


Close to 100, this Filipino still works

June 1, 2008

By Jude O. Marfil-Schwalbach
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:27:00 06/01/2008

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA — ON THE PHONE, the security guard at the office of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adamant: “Sir, you have to come down here to sign in your guest.”

He hangs up and turns to the guest, saying: “Is Mr. Bacani sick? How come his voice sounded kinda scratchy?”

“He’s not ill,” the visitor replies. “He’s just old — 97, actually.”

“What?” says the guard, gaping. “Call him back. Tell him it’s okay.” Then he pulls out his walkie-talkie. “Tell him I’ll find somebody to take you up there.”

Alberto S. Bacani — “Bert” to his family and friends — works on the ninth floor of the EPA building. At 97, he is probably the oldest person working in any federal agency. (As a matter of policy, the US Office of Personnel Management refuses to divulge information about the age of any federal worker.)

Until he was 95, Bacani was working full time — eight hours a day, five days a week.

But now he works only two days a week. No, it’s not his age. It’s a result of a cut in the EPA budget and downsizing.

“Bert was furious with me for weeks when I told him that I had to cut his hours,” says Bacani’s boss, Diann Sims, who runs EPA’s Science Information and Analysis Branch.

Bacani is in charge of all EPA information related to pesticides. He also maintains its library. He’s the go-to guy for agency scientists who need the latest pesticide research.

“We’re a data-driven agency, so Bert’s work is important to us,” Sims says.

Sims has been with the EPA since 1986, but Bacani has seniority over the boss.

He started out as a statistical assistant in 1980. The National Older Workers Career Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit organization that helps US citizens over the age of 55 find work, landed him the job. He was then 69.

“The fact that we keep renewing his contract every October means we value his contribution to our agency,” says Sims. “I’m a strict boss and Bert is a good employee.”

It’s unusual, Sims acknowledges. “In our culture the ability of older workers is not highly valued.”

So why does the man still work? To prove himself?

Bacani put all five of his children through college. He is a published author of textbooks. And he’s been married to the same woman for 70 years.

To show that he’s tough?

Bacani survived a Japanese prisoner camp in World War II. He dodged death threats after exposing corruption by his coworkers. He weathered the transition when he migrated to the United States from the Philippines. And he overcame grief over the death of two of his children.

To earn money?

Bacani doesn’t need the $12.57 he earns per hour at the EPA. He and his wife both receive supplemental security income, enough for food and amenities like cable TV and high-speed Internet. He owns his two-bedroom apartment.

Sims believes it is Bacani’s “life ethic” that keeps him at work. She recalls how he responded when she broke the news that his hours were being cut back.

“He told me he is the breadwinner of the family,” Sims says. “His family is pretty well-off. But he feels that as head of the family, it is still his responsibility to provide.”

Bacani says reaching retirement age shouldn’t drive one to stop working. “Retirement means to ’re-tire,’ or put on a new tire, and get back to work with that new tire,” he says.

Flag magnets, potted plant

“Welcome to my office,” Bacani says in a soft, husky voice as he settles on his swivel chair. “Have a seat. Make yourself comfortable.”

In his 64-square-feet cubicle are steel filing cabinets adorned by magnets of American flags and miniature covers of Time magazine. A potted philodendron, its leaves green and shiny, sits atop a cabinet.

There are also some Bible passages: “I can do things through Christ who strengthens me—Philippians 4:13.”

Like any other worker today, Bacani’s work revolves around his computer, where he writes quarterly reports and checks e-mails.

On a table are pictures of him and his wife, and more than three dozen members of his family.

Looking at the framed photographs, Bacani muses: “I want to be able to remember their names. This is why I am still working… So my mind won’t go idle.”

Shortly before 5 p.m., Bacani heads to the library to lock up for the day.

He walks slowly but with a straight back, thanks to his training as a soldier during the war. (He keeps his white hair in a crew cut. He wears eyeglasses with a brown tint to protect his almond-shaped eyes from the glare of the computer screen.)

In the hallway, no one passes without a greeting.

“Hi, Bert.”

“You’re looking great, Bert.”

“Nice to see you Bert.”

“Bert is simply an icon,” Sims says. “People here looooooove him. Anybody who wants to cause him discomfort will not be popular for a long time.”


Returning to his office, Bacani phones his youngest daughter, Milagros, whose job for the last two years has been to drive him to work in the morning and take him home at night.

Milagros admits being worried about her father still working. “But it’s Papa’s decision to continue working and we just have to respect that. He’s afraid his health will deteriorate if he stops,” she says.

Thus, Bacani’s family works around his schedule. Milagros arranged that her days off from work would be Mondays and Tuesdays, when Bacani has to report to the EPA.

“I don’t mind driving for Papa,” Milagros says. She doesn’t want to worry about her father not getting to work safely.

So Bacani just keeps on working.

In an essay titled “The Journey of Life with Destiny,” which he wrote to mark his 60th wedding anniversary, he said: “It has become a habit for me to think of or look for something to do.”

Early worker

Bacani’s journey began in the province of Isabela on Jan. 24, 1911. His father died of pneumonia just a few weeks after his birth, so he learned to work even before starting school.

He made charcoal from the wood of guava trees. His customers were local laundry women who heated their irons with his long-lasting charcoal.

In 1918, Bacani enrolled as a first-grader at the Ilagan Central School. “I was so stunted in growth that I was almost rejected,” he says.

The teacher accepted him after he showed that he could reach his left ear with his right arm fully stretched over his head.

Going to school meant walking barefoot. “Shoes and slippers were not common among most school children during my primary years,” he recalls.

In school, he learned writing and reading Filipino and English, arithmetic, Philippine geography and history, music and drawing.

He was also drilled in good manners and right conduct, and given practical skills like gardening and sewing.

On weekends, Bacani and his sister made lemonada (lemonade) and gulaman (a drink made of gelatin, water, sugar and vanilla) to cater to the cockfighting aficionados gathering next door to the family home.

He used the earnings to buy school supplies.

He completed grade school in March 1925 with a rating of “excellent.”

Love of his life

But while he did well in grade school, Bacani almost couldn’t go to high school. Money was tight.

His mother had remarried and had eight more children, and she and her husband could not afford to pay for Bacani’s high school tuition and books.

So Bacani sought the help of his wealthy maternal grandfather, Don Vicente Cayaba, who agreed to shoulder his school expenses. In June 1925, Bacani enrolled at Isabela High School, a place that would make an important difference in his life.

Unknown to him, the girl who was to become his wife—Saturnina Sarangay—was going to the same high school.

“Nina and I never knew each other. We were just two individuals, part of the big crowds,” Bacani says.

He did not meet “the love of my life” until 1928, during a stage production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” He played one of the dwarfs, and she, one of the fairies.

It took Bacani eight years to summon the gumption to confess his feelings to Sarangay.

With Dumas’ help

On Valentine’s Day in 1936, he sent her a card. A month later, he made “a formal declaration of my admiration and love.”

But Sarangay was elusive. She wanted to be a nun and did not write back.

Bacani worked harder to win her over. He kept writing, sometimes three letters a day, but still no luck.

Desperate to get a response, he “borrowed” a few lines from Alexander Dumas:

If your love and happiness could only be purchased with the last drop of my blood, I would shed that drop…

Dumas did the trick. Bacani and Sarangay were married on May 26, 1937.

Bacani describes the wedding as “simple yet so significant, inexpensive but well attended.”

He adds: “God was there to join two young hearts together with solemn vows so strong and so sacred that only death can part us.”


Life was wonderful until December 1941 when the Japanese invaded the Philippines, then a US commonwealth.

President Franklin Roosevelt dispatched all military units. Men of age, including Bacani, were drafted to the Philippine Commonwealth Army.

His wife was then pregnant with their third child but he had to leave her along with their son and daughter.

During one encounter with Japanese soldiers, Bacani’s regiment ran out of ammunition. They were also outnumbered. “We had to surrender, and became prisoners of war,” he says.

Bacani and several other Filipino POWs were taken to a Japanese garrison in Pampanga.

As a result of his interrogation, when the Japanese learned that he was not actually a soldier and was just forced to enlist following the orders of the US president, Bacani was released in March 1942.

The war continued. Japanese air raids became more frequent. From Manila, Bacani’s wife and two children had to flee to Isabela.

Meanwhile, Bacani had been walking nonstop for five days and was exhausted.

By the time he reached a barrio where a family offered to take him in, he was already ill and fighting for his life.

“I was on my sickbed for three-and-a-half months. I was practically reduced to bones,” he says. “I became strong because of God.”


When he became well enough to walk, Bacani began his journey back to Isabela, where his wife was anxiously waiting.

They were reunited on June 18, 1942.

After the war, Bacani moved his family back to Manila where he worked as a teacher and built a four-bedroom house for his family.

Between writing lesson plans, he wrote textbooks. He used the book sales to pay for his children’s college tuition.

In 1949, Bacani resigned as a teacher and worked as an assistant registrar at the University of the East (UE) in Manila. In 1966, he was promoted to the post of college registrar.

It was during his stint as registrar that he found 12 employees altering the grades of students for a fee. All 12 employees were eventually dismissed.

Bacani suspected this to be the cause of threatening messages to his children from anonymous callers: “Tell your father his days are numbered.”

He had to carry a .38 cal. revolver, “fully loaded, unlocked, ready to shoot.”


In February 1976, Bacani, then 65, retired from UE.

He and his wife moved to the United States after six months, their son Robert, a doctor in California, having filed a petition for them to become US permanent residents.

The couple decided to settle in Virginia because, Bacani says, “this is the state for lovers.”

Life was pleasant for the Bacanis until October 1986, when their fourth child, Jojo, suffered a cerebral stroke. Jojo lived but practically became a vegetable.

In January 2005, Bacani experienced what he calls the greatest shock of his life when his middle child Vina died of cancer.

As if her death were not devastating enough, Jojo succumbed to cardiac arrest two months later.

“I was totally upset,” Bacani says.

But he moved on. “I still have my wife,” he says.

They celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary last month.


Nina Bacani, now 95, is on the phone when her husband arrives home from work at 5:30 p.m.

She quickly says goodbye and motions him to the dining table laden with his favorites—baked chicken pasta, spring rolls and pudding, which she spent the whole afternoon cooking.

There are desserts on the table, but Nina is careful to keep these far from Bacani. “It’s bad for your health,” she says.

“But I can eat anything,” argues Bacani, who was hospitalized for two weeks last year with a blood clot in his left arm.

“No. You should try this,” Nina tells him, spooning pasta on his plate.

As they eat, they take turns at giving a rundown of their day’s activities. He narrates his encounter with Diann Sims, and she recalls the phone conversations she had with relatives and friends.

For the Bacanis, “friends” are mostly people they met in church. Most, if not all, of their contemporaries in the Philippines and in the United States are dead.

It’s sad, of course, but in a way it has given Bacani one more job to do: He has a collection of the eulogies he delivered at all the funerals, and he wants to get it published.

“This is the job that I think God outlined for me,” Bacani says. “After this, I’m ready.”

* * *

(The author is completing a master’s degree in journalism at Harvard University in Massachusetts. She wrote this piece for her profile-writing class at Harvard.)(PDI)

Barter trading alive in Pontevedra

June 1, 2008

By Felipe V. Celino
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:51:00 05/31/2008

PONTEVEDRA, Capiz – Experiencing Pontevedra, a town in the first district of Capiz, during market days would make one think of stepping back in time. The people have retained the traditional way of bartering their produce for things they need.

Established in 1853 as an independent town from Panay, Pontevedra was first named Caguyuman (which meant anthill) because people went there like a swarm of ants during market time, according to its website. It was renamed by Spanish friar Gregorio Hermida after finding a striking resemblance of the place to his hometown in Pontevedra, Spain.

Just like the early inhabitants, residents from the upland areas and those living near the sea and fishponds bring their harvests to swap for other products.

Jose Abaredes of Sitio Baybay, Tacas, said his wife Nenita always brought his catch of fish to the public market early morning on Market Day. When she comes home, she has a kilo of rice, vegetables and root crops in her basket, he said.

To promote the unique practice, the municipal government, headed by Mayor Jose Esteban Contreras, included barter trading among the major activities of the Guyum-guyuman Festival held on May 10-15. He said he would also focus on efforts to improve efficiency in aquaculture, fishery and farming.

Contreras, the eldest son of former Capiz Gov. Esteban Espinosa Contreras and the late Rosela Bacero, saw barter trading as an opportunity to mount a festival that depicted the positive characteristics of the community. Pontevedra is a place where people celebrate the abundance of natural resources and the positive traditions of the Caguyumanons, he said.

The municipal government decided that the Guyum-guyuman should be a nondenomination event, and not merely a religious fiesta.(PDI)