Selflessness, Respect and Discipline

Many Filipinos, if not all, get up in the morning*, brave the chaotic morning rush and work almost tirelessly to help themselves and their families have a better life or maintain an already good one. (*timeframe relative to people’s jobs – this also applies to those who go to work in the afternoon, evening, midnight or dawn)

This brand of filial selflessness is something that I really like about our culture. But in the midst of everything, I’ve observed that some of our basic social values seemingly get lost or are deemed insignificant compared to our individual priorities, namely respect for strangers and surroundings, and discipline. Yes, we are highly respectful to our elders and work or school superiors, but not to people we encounter and commute with, nor to the environment.

So many times have I seen people here cutting lines (or allowing friends to cut in line), shoving other people without apologizing, not giving enough space on the train for entering or alighting passengers, not following designated signs and nonchalantly throwing small pieces of trash on the ground unless there is a strict person of authority lurking around and disciplining them. Many of us have been used to such behavior that we already think those things are normal and we don’t “get in line” unless we are told to.

I’ve also experienced really bad displays of customer service that reflect the lack of basic respect and discipline. I’ve waited in line for an hour for a bus without the bus company explaining or apologizing to us for the delay.  This happened twice. I’ve said “excuse me”, or have had to clear my throat just so a couple of sales staff chatting with each other would entertain me. This has happened to me many times.

My question now is why? Why does it seem that many of us can be selfless for our families, friends and other loved ones, and selfish to everyone else?

Is it because of the dog-eat-dog-world mentality that many of us and our elders have that have forced us to care just for ourselves, families and friends, but not for those outside our social circles nor the world around us? Are we really all so angsty and jaded?

Is it because the messages that we only treat masses or services as rituals and we let our spiritual leaders’ messages on respect and discipline fly over our head after we head outside the church?

Is it because our state-sponsored basic education system previously did not cover good morals and right conduct?

Is it because many of us are enjoying the freedoms that democracy bought us, freedoms that were almost absent during the Marcos era?

I am sure that there are psychological and sociological reasons for it.  Yet despite these reasons, I think that this is something that we can still improve on and turn around.

Our country would be so much more fun to be in if we can be a little more selfless, respectful and disciplined towards others.

Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair 2014

I visited the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)’s food exhibit yesterday afternoon with my grandmother to try out new food items. It was my first time to attend a food exhibit so I was very excited.

Entitled Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair 2014: Piling-Piling Pagkaing Pilipino (Famous Pinoy National Food Fair 2014: Well-Chosen Filipino Food), the exhibit is among one of the six exhibits that DTI is planning to hold this 2014 to help promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the domestic market to eventually ease their entrance the global market. The exhibit opened last March 26.

2014 Sikat Pinoy Food Fair 1

There were over 200 booths and we practically spent the whole afternoon checking out almost every stall.

2014 Sikat Pinoy Food Fair 2

I was glad to see a lot of people supporting our local food industry by visiting, trying and buying products. There came a point when we had switch booth lanes to dodge crowds because they were getting so thick, making it hard for us to pass by. That means the DTI achieved its goal of getting domestic support.

2014 Sikat Pinoy Food Fair 3

 

Here are almost all of our purchases:

2014 Sikat Pinoy Food Fair 20

From Left to Right: First Row: Crispy Dilis, Dried Alamang, Chocolate Rice, Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate, Vigan Longganisa, Squash Noodles Second Row: Muscovado Powder, Linupak, Seaweed for cooking, seaweed chips, pineapple jam, carrot chips, veggie chips Third Row: Eng Bee Tin tikoy rolls and custard cake, Aging’s flavored suman, calamansi concentrate and soya milk. Not pictured: Durian ice cream

 

It really pays to support our local food industry because by doing so, we really help each other out and make our gradually brightening economy brighten even more. It’s also a way to know more about food culture and heritage locally and generally. Finally the items produced are a lot more healthier than the commercial variety because of the ingredients used.

Our hands were literally full as we bought two eco-bags full of items, so we couldn’t add more. I really enjoyed my time there so I would like to go back there today so I can purchase more. I’m curious about the deli products from Cagayan de Oro and the dried chiles from Davao. I honestly also want to try the dalandan concentrate, soursop concentrate and carrot concentrate. They could have made the exhibit’s set design better and consistent with the branding though. Also, I hope DTI would be more strategic in its marketing training so I get to see better collaterals on the booths and food items in the coming food fairs. But like I said, my overall experience was great. Congratulations to DTI for doing a good job!

The Sikat Pinoy Food Fair is currently being held at the Megatrade Hall, Megamall B, Ortigas, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Hope you can all support it especially as today, 30 March is its last day.

Artisans and Advocates Ride High on a Sea of Sustainable Fashion

It’s summer! Time to kick off your shoes and frolic under the sun with Rags2Riches’ S/S ’14-’15 Collection entitled High Seas. Launched today at the Piazza in Privato Hotel, the collection’s nautical styles paired with Rags2Riches’ signature woven designs in red, brown, blue and sea green invoke within us the feeling of relaxing on a cool beach waters under the sun amidst our daily hustle-and-bustle.

 

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Model and online entrepreneur Kelly Misa also collaborated with Rags2Riches to design a few pieces for the High Seas collection. The designs will be sold exclusively through the online shop Pormada.

 

 
R2R High Seas Launch 2
 
 
 

During the launch, ambassadors for sustainable fashion and Rags2Riches highly-revered artisans also relaxed and bonded together in the sunlight-filled Piazza to work together on personalized purses made out of upcycled scrap cloth, canvas and Sharpie pens. It was really heartwarming to see many women come together to support a social business which seeks to sustain their fellow women, the environment, livelihood and Philippine artisanal culture through its products.

 

 
R2R High Seas Launch 4

 

 
An artisan sews together the canvas designed by the ambassador with the woven base she created.

 

 
 
R2R High Seas Launch 6

 

 
 
 

“This is the first time that we’ve done a workshop during the launch,” said Reese Fernandez – Ruiz, founder and director of Rags2Riches. “We wanted the advocates to work with the artisans, so that they can see the artistry that goes into the product,” she added. And to see that come into fruition is “a very fulfilling feeling” for Reese. She and their team are looking forward to having more collaborative activities between their revered artisans and the ambassadors, and even fans and shoppers of Rags2Riches.

 

 
Rags2Riches is the Philippines’ foremost for-profit social enterprise. Their High Seas Collection is available at the Rags2Riches Store in Glorietta 1, Makati, Metro Manila. You may also check their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates.
 

 

View more photos from the event here:

 

 
 
Rags2Riches
Store: 3/F, Glorietta 1, Makati, Metro Manila
 
Pormada

A Victory for All Women Athletes and Athletes-to-Be

First off, I want to congratulate the Ateneo de Manila University Women’s Volleyball team for winning their first championship in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Series yesterday afternoon. You have made the university community “happy happy” with your strong golden hearts!

Just to give a rundown, the Lady Eagles beat Adamson University, National University twice and champion titleholder De la Salle University thrice in the semis and then thrice during the finals to win their first ever crown. I admit that I was only able to watch the last finals game and I only learned about their journey from my family who avidly watched their games. I didn’t realize how big the team had become all over the Philippines until I watched yesterday on television. I’m glad I watched and went to the bonfire and celebrate the victories for the university, for students and most importantly for women!

2014-03-15 Bonfire 2

“Heartstrong” is the mantra coined by the Lady Eagles’ Coach Tai that inspired the team and lead them to victory.

For the past eight or nine bonfires, ladies’ teams (as well as other athletic teams) took a backseat to give way to celebrating the Men’s Senior Basketball Team’s Championship in the UAAP. This time, women took the front seat in driving and celebrating a victory for the university. This shows how much the institution has progressed from being conservative and masculine to being liberal and gender-neutral. And this happened in the 40th year anniversary of having women Ateneans!

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Team Captain, Series MVP and Finals MVP Alyssa Valdez shared to the community how they felt during Set 3 of Game 3. Women being cheered onstage during the Bonfire! FINALLY!

As a woman and a member of the alumni, it’s really heartwarming and inspiring to see the celebration in front of my eyes. It’s the recognition that I believe many of us have always wanted to see. Their victory is something that would inspire many female teenagers to fulfill their dream of being university or professional women athletes as they have seen that women athletes are accepted, loved and admired by society.

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Again, congratulations Lady Eagles.  And congratulations too to the high school and university Judo teams, the Women’s and Men’s Senior Badminton Teams, the Men’s Senior Swimming Team, the Men’s Senior Volleyball Team and Team Glory Be for your respective victories. Keep your hearts strong and continue winning!

Here are the other photos from the bonfire:

Here’s the university community celebrating the lighting of the bonfire and singing the school hymn Song for Mary:

Empowerment against Sexual Assault

One of the issues I really feel strongly about is sexual assault against females.

What concerns me the most about it is not just its prevalence in society around the globe. What concerns me most is that female sexual assault victims are blamed or looked down upon because of the way they dress, carry themselves or where they work, when it fact, a woman’s clothing, job nor demeanor does not matter for someone who wants to be sexually assaulted. No female ever “asks for it”.
Advocacy - Anti-Sexual Assault

Image Source: safercampus tumblr 

There are many ways on how a woman may prevent herself from being sexually assaulted. She may choose to dress modestly, take up a high-paying white-collar job rather than be a model and go to parties less, and get drunk less – and when she does go out, she may surround herself with many friends. She may also take up self-defense classes so that she can combat men or anyone who has that intent of sexually assaulting her. She may join the anti-sexual movement and educate herself on the issue itself. But even if many women or even all women empower themselves emotionally, physically and mentally, the intent to sexually assault still remains.
And that’s why I think that it’s very important to educate everyone about sexually assault to lessen the prejudices stemming from our masculine society and more importantly, lessen their occurrences to the point that they diminish. The first that we have to really educate are our boys and men. There’s this quote that goes like this, which I agree to wholeheartedly:

Advocacy - Teach Our Sons to Be Decent Men

Basically, apart from empowering females as a whole here in the Philippines, we have to teach our boys and men to respect girls and women. We also have to teach everyone to be more open-minded about the choices of others in terms of clothing, work and career and demeanor and not discriminate according to those choices.

If we educate, open minds and empower everyone – men and women, straight or from the LGBTQA community, then our society will be a much friendlier and safer place to live in.

2014 Chinese New Year Celebration in Binondo

This year, around eight thousand people celebrated the Chinese New Year in Binondo, Manila – one of the biggest crowds the town ever had. The celebration, which was only limited to residents of the area before, has gotten bigger and bigger thanks to the power of photography, social media and heightened publicity that Chinatown has over the past few years. I’ve been to Binondo a few times, and I celebrated the Chinese New Year for the second time there this year.

We started by visiting the Sta. Cruz Church along Bustos. The Church’s Chinese New Year decor including red paper lanterns, images of horses and a big hand-painted banner that said “Kung Hei Fat Choi!”, reflected the marriage of influences from the Chinese and Spanish that create a distinct part of Filipino culture.

2014 Lunar New Year 1

 

2014 Lunar New Year 2

 

Right outside Sta. Cruz Church is Carriedo Fountain. Behind it is the Arch of Goodwill, which symbolizes the friendship between the Filipino and Chinese communities.

 

2014 Lunar New Year 3

 

Our second stop was Escolta. On our way there, I could not help but think of the wonder that it was before. If you’re curious, here’s a photo of what Escolta used to look like.

 

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Escolta isn’t the beautiful, bustling, sophisticated place it once was, but I just have to thank Chinatown’s old guard and their descendants for preserving buildings such as the first Bank of the Philippine Islands building, Regina Building and Natividad Building. The sophistication is gone, but the charm is still there. It helps that there are lot of offices and buildings in Escolta which keeps the place busy.

 

2014 Lunar New Year 4

 

2014 Lunar New Year 6

 

We turned left on Tomas Pinpin Street and walked towards Muelle Del Banco Nacional to take photos of the Post Office, which was just across Pasig River.

 

2014 Lunar New Year 5

As faster modes of communication are increasing in number, the Post Office – with its grand architectural design – is now losing its significance to people. Thank goodness for institutions like Ateneo de Manila Grade School who take their students on annual field trips to the Post Office to send letters to their parents. I do hope more people see the value of handwritten letters and start writing again to their loved ones whether here or abroad. Sending handwritten letters to loved is a good, heartfelt investment.

We walked back to Escolta and entered Calvo Building, a place we barely noticed on our 2013 Chinese New Year Binondo trip. Its lobby was lined with photos of Manila in the 1800s and early 1900s, thus it  piqued our curiosity. It turned out that the Escolta Museum was housed on its second floor which showcased memorabilia from Manila in the late 1800s to the 1960s.

2014 Lunar New Year 22

What we found was a trove of treasured artifacts.

There were newspapers from the 1800s and newspaper ads from the 1920s. Look – a Ford car used to just cost P795.00 or $18.00!

2014 Lunar New Year 7

Wartime photos serve as a reminder of how much Manila went through in the hands of the Japanese and the Americans.

2014 Lunar New Year 23

There were posters from movies from the 1930s to 1960s.

2014 Lunar New Year 8

Different kinds of bottles were also on display.

2014 Lunar New Year 9

There’s an entrance fee of P50.00 (roughly $1.10). There is no guard or caretaker to pay to – there’s only a small box at the entrance where you drop your payment. Employing the honesty system is in itself, interesting.

After visiting Escolta Museum we headed out to have lunch.

Part of the “Binondo Experience” is to have lunch at one of their hole-in-wall restaurants which serve authentic Chinese cuisine – with no pretentions. Our food joint of choice for lunch was Ying Ying’s on Dasmariñas Street. It has been our choice for the past 3 years.

 2014 Lunar New Year 10

2014 Lunar New Year 11

As you can see, there is no interior design nor plating for orders. There is no aesthetic nor concept of finesse. It is all about the food and its taste. We ordered fresh steamed shrimps (our favorite), soy chicken, beef, sweet and sour pork and Yang Chow fried rice. Their milk tea tasted slightly bitter and aromatic and better than the other milk tea types that people get from commercial milk tea stores.

That is the more quiet side of Binondo. After lunch, we headed on to Ongpin and Paredes area where all the action was.

On our way there, we saw Sincerity Chicken, one of the other well-loved restaurants of Binondo. We also saw a dragon dance group which was also on its way to Ongpin.

2014 Lunar New Year 12

2014 Lunar New Year 13

The first thing we saw on Ongpin Street was a lion dance performance in front of a small liquor store. In Chinese culture, lion and dragon dances are said to drive away evil spirits and invite good luck and prosperity. Part of the dance includes the lion standing up to eat the hong bao (red packet). I guess this is to bring more good luck?

2014 Lunar New Year 14

2014 Lunar New Year 16

From Ongpin Street, we headed to Quintin Paredes Street, which was the starting point of the Solidarity Grand Parade. The Solidarity Grand Parade is an annual event that includes Chinese schools, Chinese community groups and Chinese-owned businesses among the participants. Among the participants this year were the following: Philippine Tiong Se Academy, Lorenzo Ruiz Academy, Sun Yat Sen High School, Chiang Kai Shek College, Sun Life Financial, Manila Bulletin, and Universal Robina Corporation.

2014 Lunar New Year 17

From Paredes, we walked back to Ongpin to buy hopia and tikoy from Eng Bee Tin. On our way we saw this drum group entertaining people. Drum groups accompanied firedancers who solicited money from onlookers using hong paos. The more money people gave, the longer the fire dance routine would be.

2014 Lunar New Year 24

2014 Lunar New Year 18

We stopped by a shrine to Sto. Cristos de Longos, a cross that is said to have miraculous powers. During the Spanish period, a deaf-mute Sangley discovered an effigy of the crucified Jesus inside a well where the original cross now stands. His senses of hearing and talking were restored immediately after his discovery. You can find the original story here.

2014 Lunar New Year 19

The cross is adorned with sampaguita (Philippine jasmine) garlands and red ribbons. Devotees could offer prayers using long red wax candles or joss sticks, thus infusing Catholicism with a sense of Buddhist culture. The shrine is truly a religious cultural sight to behold and its image will stay with you long after you’ve seen it.

Then we rested for a while and tried milk tea from a shop called The Tea at Mandarin Square. Unfortunately, their drinks tasted like they were made from three-day old ingredients. The only good thing about the store was its interior design which included this cute love notes wall. We consoled ourselves by buying Chinese cup noodles, bottled milk tea, fried rice crackers from the grocery which was also located in Mandarin Square.

2014 Lunar New Year 20

From there, we joined the parade. It was really a memorable parade experience for us as we saw the town mayor  and vice-mayor (Need I say who they are? NO.) and Ms. International 2013, Bea Rose Santiago, got goodies from URC and witnessed not just one, not two but three explosive street firework displays! Finally, we got to the end of Ongpin and walked to Carriedo Fountain which was near where we started, before heading home.

2014 Lunar New Year 21

Here’s a simple compilation of the videos that I took during the celebration. Here you’ll see the lion dance, the crowd at Binondo and a lion and dragon dance with street fireworks.

So that would be it for my Binondo adventure! Thanks for reading my post.

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!

Helpful, Healthy and Yummy: Green Pastures

Last night, I had dinner with friends in this place called Green Pastures at the East Wing of Shangri-la Plaza Mall. It’s a relatively new place that has garnered rave reviews because of how good its food is, and that it is an organic farm-to-table restaurant, meaning the food that they serve come from organically-grown plants and free-range raised poultry, cattle, lambs and pigs. It’s the perfect restaurant for people who love healthy food, but do not want to give up meat, like me. And I’m big on supporting businesses that are inherently advocacy-based. Yay for farmers! Yay for Philippine agriculture!

I initially planned to order their octopus-and-bone-marrow fusilli, but since my aunt recommended that I order the 80/20 Wagyu burger, I ordered that instead. I told myself that I will just go back and order the octopus-and-bone-marrow fusilli next time.

Green Pastures' 80/20 Burger

Green Pastures’ 80/20 Burger

The 80/20 Wagyu Burger is composed of 80% Wagyu beef, 20% double smoked organic pancetta (Italian bacon), stratiacella (Italian soft cheese) and buttered brioche (bread). It came with a hefty serving of fries with dip.

I wasn’t too happy with the burger at first since it seemed bland, but it began to taste fuller and better after every bite. I finished the burger fully satisfied, then downed the fries almost completely. The last time I was that satisfied with a new restaurant was last March, after I visited Poco Deli for the first time. Other dishes we ordered were the Carbonara, Duck You!, Ricotta and Headcheese. The dishes ARE a bit pricey, but that I think is okay considering you are helping the country and its farmers through Green Pastures.

2013 was a year of awesome culinary discoveries – from Ying Ying in Binondo, Aria in Bonifacio Global City, Plantation in Makati, to Haru, Poco Deli and Charlie’s Burgers in Barrio Kapitolyo and Spatzle in the East Wing of Shangri-la. So I’m glad that I kicked off 2014 with another awesome culinary discovery. I will definitely come back and find out more about their other dishes. 

My 2013 Ylocandia Adventure Part 2 (Ilocos Norte)

After visiting Vigan, we went back to Ilocos Norte to visit the Paoay Church and have our dinner. The Paoay Church was built by Augustinian priests. They built it in such a way that it would withstand natural calamities, particularly earthquakes. Its design is known as “earthquake Baroque”. Many other churches in the Ilocos region have the same design, including the churches in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte and Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur.

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 1

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 2

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 3

Beauty at Dusk

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 4

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 5

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 6

A Magnificent Sight

DAY 2

The next day was spent going to one site to another, making it our trip’s most tiring yet best day. We started by going to Cape Bojeador, then Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, the Windmills in Bangui and finally Pagudpud.

Cape Bojeador is an old lighthouse that Spanish soldiers used to man the sea. The whole place has weathered over time. The main lighthouse’s stairs have rusted so badly that you can’t climb it anymore.

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 1

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 2

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 4

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 5

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 6

The best thing about Cape Bojeador is the seascape. From atop the high hills of Ilocos Norte, I was able to take photos of rolling waves from afar. The experience of actually seeing that with the wind blowing in my hair in the morning truly started my day right.

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 7

Then we drove to Burgos’ Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Walking towards the rock formation was a challenging yet fun experience. I braved winds that almost carried me away to get near a beautiful natural wonder that every Filipino has to visit and be proud of.

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 1

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 2

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 5

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 4

No photo can ever do justice to this sight. Ever.

 I was able to take only one photo of Bangui’s windmills  because it was starting to drizzle and we didn’t want to stay long so we wouldn’t get wet. Haiyan was battering Eastern Visayas that day, and we also got a taste of strong rains on our way to and during lunch time in Pagudpud. That’s also why we took a few photos there.

2013 Ilocandia - Bangui Windmills

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 1

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 2

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 3

We went back to Laoag to relax after our lunch in Pagudpud, and spent the whole time there. We didn’t tour any site the day after as it was the day of my friend’s wedding. 

DAY 4

We had a little time left, but we paid Ilocos Norte’s lakay’s home a visit. It was the last site that we visited before having lunch and heading back to Manila. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Marcos loyalist or critic –  – the “Malakanyang ti Amianan” (Malacañang of the North) or any Marcos shrine is something to that you should do to know the extent of the man named Ferdie and his family’s power over the Ilocanos of Ilocos Norte, and the love that they continue to bestow upon him.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 1

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 3

The painting on the left is a portrait of a teenage Bongbong Marcos riding a white steed and carrying a sword. It looks like a mild version of the propaganda art created by North Koreans for the Kims. Too bad I didn’t get to take a photo of it!

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 2

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 4

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 5

It isn’t as enchanting and haunting as the the first time I visited in the early 2000s. The hospital bed was gone, and it looked more like a tourist spot than a genuine historical artifact, unlike Cape Bojeador.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 6

 

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 8

The family photos and “shabby chic” color is one of the significant changes from the last time I went there.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 9

I honestly don’t think “shabby chic” and Marcos mix. It just doesn’t. A for effort to rebrand though! I exited the house feeling a bit more endeared to the controversial family that I am critical yet not a hater of.

 

Overall, my Ylocandia adventure was a great one, and I’d gladly go on another trip to these sites and make it even more memorable by visiting the other places we didn’t get to visit like the Sand Dunes.

I’m writing about the food we had in my next post.

Renewing Faith, Saving Our Heritage

Today is a Sunday. And I found it apt to look back at the damage caused by the massive 7.2-magnitude earthquake to a natural wonder and fourteen heritage churches because of how much it tells us Filipinos about our heritage and the Catholic faith, which many of us are part of. Pardon if I haven’t posted something on helping the Boholanos and Cebuanos rise, I have another post especially for them.

Before looking at the photos, allow me to enumerate a few of the lessons I learned from this natural calamity:

  1. The earthquake is a call to us Filipinos to appreciate our heritage and the history that comes along with each artifact. It is a call for us to visit our own historical sites before jetting off to other places. We have always thought that the churches would be there, and that “all of them are the same so why bother visiting?” At the end of the day, hills and churches are made of earth, and they will crumble back to it.

  2. The earthquake is a call to our heritage preservation agencies, the Department of Education, Department of Tourism, the private sector and even the UNESCO to support rebuilding these sites and promoting them to the public through education and local tourism. These sites are meant to be appreciated, by Filipinos and non-Filipinos, Catholics and people of other faiths alike.

  3. Lastly, the earthquake is a call to Filipino Catholics to go beyond attending mass in a physical church and performing rituals. While attending mass and performing rituals are meaningful and us Catholics must understand the meaning of performing them (I have yet to dig deeper on this again), our faith is beyond that. The Christian faith is beyond that, and so we are called to not just attend mass at churches but actually attend to Churches – the Christian communities whom God called us to engage with to praise Him and live out The Word and people in general. As these physical churches will be rebuilt, we must also rebuild ourselves outside of the pews, away from the altar, and from within. And I think engaging God’s Word in written form is a great way to start.

Now on to the photos.

Viewing Deck, Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @tokyodrastic

Viewing Deck, Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @tokyodrastic

Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @tokyodrastic

Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @tokyodrastic

Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @harold_geronimo

Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @harold_geronimo

Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church/Church of the Lady of Light, Loon, Bohol

Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church/Church of the Lady of Light, Loon, Bohol via @tonyocruz

Church of St. Peter the Apostle (San Pedro Apostol), Loboc, Bohol

Iglesia de San Pedro Apostol/Church of St. Peter the Apostle, Loboc, Bohol from NHCPHistoricSites

Nuestra Señora de Inmaculada Concepcion de Baclayon/Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Baclayon, Bohol via Wikimedia Commons

Nuestra Señora de Inmaculada Concepcion de Baclayon/Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Baclayon, Bohol via Wikimedia Commons

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción/Church of the Lady of the Assumption, Dauis, Bohol via Wikimedia Commons

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción/Church of the Lady of the Assumption, Dauis, Bohol via Wikimedia Commons

Iglesia de Santa Cruz/Sta. Cruz Church, Maribojoc, Bohol via @jhigzveloso

Iglesia de Santa Cruz/Sta. Cruz Church, Maribojoc, Bohol via @jhigzveloso

St. Isidore the Farmer Church, Tubigon, Bohol via Wikimedia

St. Isidore the Farmer Church, Tubigon, Bohol via Wikimedia

Iglesia de Santissima Trinidad/Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Loay, Bohol via Turning Boholano

Iglesia de Santissima Trinidad/Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Loay, Bohol via Turning Boholano

Iglesia de San Nicholas/Church of St. Nicholas via Wikipedia Commons

Iglesia de San Nicholas/Church of St. Nicholas, Dimiao, Bohol via Wikipedia Commons

Iglesia de San Pablo Apostol/Church of St. Paul, Inabanga, Bohol via Wikipedia

Iglesia de San Pablo Apostol/Church of St. Paul, Inabanga, Bohol via Wikipedia

Basilica del Minore del Sto. Nino/Minor Basilica of the Child Jesus, Cebu City, Cebu via BjornCebuano

Basilica del Minore del Sto. Nino/Minor Basilica of the Child Jesus, Cebu City, Cebu via BjornCebuano

Cebu Metropolitan Church, Cebu City, Cebu

Cebu Metropolitan Church, Cebu City, Cebu via Wikimedia Commons

Iglesia de Sta. Catalina de Alejandria/Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Carcar, Cebu

Iglesia de Sta. Catalina de Alejandria/Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Carcar, Cebu via Kabyahe

UPDATE: Photos of five more churches that were partially or totally damaged by the earthquake:

La Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer/St. Vincent Ferrer Church, Calape, Bohol

La Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer/St. Vincent Ferrer Church, Calape, Bohol via CDRImagesFilipinas

Iglesia de San Miguel Arcangel/Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Clarin, Bohol

Iglesia de San Miguel Arcangel/Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Clarin, Bohol via Bohol Info

Santo Niño Parish Church, Cortes, Bohol via@ CDRImageFilipinas

Santo Niño Parish Church, Cortes, Bohol via CDRImageFilipinas

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker, Tagbilaran, Bohol

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker, Tagbilaran, Bohol via Libotero

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Santo Rosario/Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Lila, Bohol via CDRImageFilipinas

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Santo Rosario/Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Lila, Bohol via CDRImageFilipinas

Megan Young’s Success a Chance for Filipinos to Break Free from Xenocentrism

Photo taken from the official Megan Young Facebook Page

Photo taken from the official Megan Young Facebook Page

Though belated, I want to greet our very own Megan Young a big congratulations for winning the Miss World 2013 crown last September 28, 2013 in Bali, Indonesia! She, by far, is the most successful product of a locally-produced reality show. She started as one of the competitors in season 2 of the celebrity search “Starstruck” on GMA Network. I really thought that she would make it big back then, even if she finished off as an Avenger. Again, CONGRATULATIONS MEGAN YOUNG!

As with anyone who achieves worldwide success, Megan has already earned herself a bunch of critics, including a woman named Devina Dediva, who got attacked by Filipinos in the cyberworld. If you haven’t noticed yet, then I’ve to say that Filipinos don’t take criticism well, be it in the form of a joke, or a serious comment. Rather than ignore or meaningfully engage, many of us choose the low road and react defensively, complete with racist remarks, demands for public apology and calls to the government to declare certain public figures persona non grata. Many have publicly apologized. A personality has been declared persona non grata. And now Dediva has been fired from her job because of comments she had made.

This collective display of oversensitivity seems to be working, but it doesn’t mean it’s right. As the world is becoming more open because of social media, we Filipinos are called to be more mindful of our reactions, and engage when needed. It’s something that we have to learn to do, even if would take time. Megan Young’s success is an opportunity for us to begin doing this. If as a people we view racially-discriminatory remarks as unjust, shouldn’t we be applying it not just to us, but to everyone else?

From the Philippines to the World and Back

I’ve always believed in our potential as people. And so I am delighted when I hear comments or read articles stating that Filipinos are a positive, hospitable and entertaining hard working lot abroad. The half-Filipino or Filipino celebrities born abroad merit a mention here – Apl.De.Ap, Rob Schneider, Bruno Mars, Jasmine Trias, Jessica Sanchez, Brandon Vera and the rest of the athletes playing in different teams across the world, just to name a few. The reason we celebrate them is not because they have Filipino blood coursing through their veins, but because we know what it took them and their parents to bring them to where they are. We know their stories of struggle.

These stories of struggle outside the homeland are being depicted in two new films, all of which have been submitted as entries for Best Foreign Film in the Academy Awards by three different countries, namely Ilo Ilo (Singapore entry, directed by Anthony Chen) and Transit (The Philippines’ entry, directed by Hannah Espia). Aside from stories tackling OFW life, other stories about Filipino life through films shown at the last Cinemalaya festival such as On the Job and Ekstra. Another story about local life is tackled in the film Metro Manila directed by Sean Ellis which is another entry for Best Foreign Film in the Academy Awards.

What makes all of this remarkable is the effort of the local entertainment industry in bringing these films to the mainstream, making available to the masses the kind of entertainment that they deserve to see – excellent in direction, scriptwriting and cinematography and easy-to-relate-to in terms of the plot. They have brought those films from the Philippines to the world, and now they are bringing them back for everyone to enjoy.

Though it might take some time for people to transition from the overly dramatic films that have been produced as of late to human-interest type of stories, I am positive that it will happen, and we will get to see beautiful movies again, on a regular basis. And, ironically for all the “Filipino Pride”  that many of us have been displaying online and outside, there are those who are still averse to watching mainstream Filipino films because of the “cheesiness” inherent in them and lack of creativity (or because of the plain mentality that the West is better). But now as plots diverge from the ordinary and expand dynamically (add to that a more progressive educational system that will help people appreciate our culture more through the arts), Filipino stories would earn their place again in the hearts of all Filipinos.

Here are the trailers for the different films I mentioned:


Transit


Ilo Ilo (爸媽不在家/Parents Are Not at Home)


On the Job


Ekstra (The Bit Player)


Metro Manila

Why Political Loyalism is Problematic

“If not for [personality], we wouldn’t have [public works/public services]”.

“If [personality] was the one in office, we wouldn’t have these problems, or he/she would address these problems better.”

I have heard of these arguments so many times. And I’m getting sick of it.

What makes political loyalism so problematic is that it perpetuates patron-client relations, dynasties and dependency. Because of personalistic ties, unjust practices or decisions are justified, glossed over or forgotten. Dynasties thrive when people elect more members from a certain known family based on the belief that they inherited their accomplished predecessors’ ability to govern and/or ability to provide and whatever legacy they left. Dependency occurs when people believe that once a person or a family is in office, their basic needs are taken care of, as well as their other expenses such as baptisms and funerals. As more constituents become indebted on them, and more people become indebted to them for giving them a job at the municipal office, political figures vie for political office, or assign their family members to run again and again. While some families do get the work done (the Dutertes, albeit in a very different way), many more others don’t.

Political loyalism also perpetuates unmerited hate or criticism towards other parties. For example, if you are a Marcos loyalist, you will never believe in an Aquino’s ability to implement livelihood projects, as Ninoy just talked a lot and Cory was not a good implementer. If you are a Corista, you will never believe that a Marcos has the right to advocate against politics in the Philippine Arts, because their father went against progressive politics.

Political loyalism also exalts normal work responsibilities. Political figures are applauded for building bridges, for lighting barrios and for other things that are naturally in their list of to-dos. It is like giving a standing ovation for an accountant who balanced the figures for a project’s expense, or for a janitor who rendered a public bathroom spotless. I understand the need to recognize political figures who have implemented excellent governance practices in place of systems and procedures that don’t work anymore, but not to the point of deifying them.

Lastly, political loyalism disallows for the democratization of public governance. Due to loyalism, people only recognize the legitimacy and ability of a few to govern, and vote for the same people, giving less or no chance to new entrants and new systems. Loyalism is also made as basis for a person’s appointment into an executive agency rather than merit.

Many people, even highly educated ones have the tendency to be loyalists to a political figure or family. And so even if many of them want systemic change, it would be hard to have that given that they contribute to the stagnation of the system.

In order for systemic change to occur, people must learn to let go of even the finest and weakest strands of loyalism they have for whomever in assessing political challenges and work as a person, or as a part of a community to make change.  Not one person nor family nor party can make the Philippines a better place.  All of us should act hand-in-hand.

The Philippines’ Million People March

It has almost been a week since the Million People March in Luneta, here in Manila in the Philippines. The Million People March took its name from the 1995 Million Man March movement that fought for African-Americans’ civil rights.  The Million People March was prompted by the widespread anger against the intricate system of corruption … Continue reading

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