By Hrvoje Hranjski Associated Press MANILA, Philippines--A Filipino nationalist at the forefront of struggle for democracy during and after Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorship, and a South Korean minister who dedicated his life to curing blindness are among the winners of the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia's version of the Nobel Prize, organizers said Tuesday. Jovito R. Salonga, 87, won the award for government service for tirelessly fighting for the rule of law, honest and competent government and showing compassion for the poor -- democratic and social ideals that were not always easy to find in the Philippines under Marcos. A law graduate and senator, he was crippled by a bomb blast at a political rally in 1971, a year before Marcos declared martial law. He fought Marcos' iron-fisted rule by defending the president's opponents and working for the release of political prisoners. He was briefly jailed in 1980 and spent four years in US exile. He returned a year before Marcos was ousted in the "people power" revolt and put his personal ambitions aside to back Corazon Aquino, the pro-democracy icon who succeeded Marcos. Salonga initiated the government's efforts to recover Marcos' ill-gotten wealth. In 1991, as the Senate president, he clinched his nationalist credentials by leading fellow senators in voting to close down US military bases in the Philippines. "His rare moral authority stems from a simple fact: he practices what he preaches," the organizers said. The Reverend Kim Sun-tae, 66, from South Korea, is being honored for public service for devoting himself to a hospital dedicated to treating and curing blindness. During the Korean War, Kim was blinded by a mortar shell, but soon learned to read Korean Braille and to type. The Korean Presbyterian Church named Kim director of Blind Evangelical Missions. In 1986, with support from Korean businesses, he led in founding Siloam Eye Hospital, where sight-restoring surgery and modern facilities are available to the needy at no cost. In 1997, Kim opened Korea's largest rehabilitation and learning center to help blind people cope with daily life. More than 20,000 people have received free eye surgery, and 200,000 more have been treated at the hospital. Other winners include Mahabir Pun of Nepal, who received the community leadership award for his innovative application of wireless computer technology that brought progress to remote mountain areas. Tang Xiyang from China received the peace and international understanding award for guiding his country to meet its mounting environmental crisis. Palagummi Sainath of India won the journalism, literature and creative communication arts award. Chung To and Chen Guangcheng of China won the emergent leadership awards. Chung's AIDS Orphans Project provides children who have an AIDS-infected parent with school fees. Chen, blinded by a fever as a child, became a "barefoot lawyer" helping farmers with grievances to file court cases, leading protests against a river-polluting paper factory and documenting abuses. He and his friends were beaten, Chen was held for months under house arrest and in a closed-door trial was sentenced to four years in prison for disturbing public order. He is still serving the sentence. The awards will be presented August 31 in Manila.
July 2007 Archives
By Michael Tan Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Is there any scientific basis for the belief that mushrooms emerge after thunderstorms? What about the belief that planting fruit crops at early dawn increases the chances for larger fruits? A book published back in 1998 by the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute for Science and Mathematics Development (now Nismed, the “N” for “National”) reviews the empirical basis for such beliefs and practices from agriculture, fishing, food and nutrition and medicine. I’ll get back to the mushrooms and planting in a while, but let me first talk about the book’s focus, captured in its title: “Philippine Folk Science: A Sourcebook for Teachers.” I bought the book many years back and remembered it recently while preparing a paper for a conference organized by the International Organization for Science and Technology Education (IOSTE). Appropriately, UP Nismed hosted the conference, which had sustainable development as its theme. I was requested to deliver a paper on the relationship of culture to science education and sustainable development. Culture and knowledge As a medical anthropologist, I’ve been training medical students and physicians to become culturally sensitive in their clinical practice. The IOSTE request was somewhat more challenging, but the links were still fairly easy to make. Sustainable development means development in a way that does not jeopardize future generations. That does become a challenge especially because our development models have always emphasized massive consumption of resources. It was presumed that the more you consume, the more rapid the development. When sustainable development came around, science educators found out that they had to rethink their curriculum. Can you do “modern” science using smaller-scale technologies? Maybe even more radically (and this was where my presentation came in), can we return to local beliefs and practices -- the ones so often labeled as “backward” and “primitive” -- to advance science? For several decades now, even before sustainable development came into vogue, anthropologists have been exploring “indigenous knowledge” (yes, with its own abbreviation, IK), arguing that such knowledge has much to offer. Some of the earliest work around IK was conducted in the Philippines by anthropologists. In 1957, for example, the Food and Agriculture Organization published a book, “Hanunoo Agriculture,” by Harold Conklin, describing the agricultural practices of the Hanunoo, an ethnic group living in Mindoro. Conklin documented the Hanunoo’s vast knowledge of their natural environment, which they applied to shifting agriculture, or "kaingin." I’m sure some readers reacted to that word, thinking immediately about soil erosion and destructive floods. But kaingin need not be destructive. When populations were smaller and people had access to large tracts of land, they knew how to move from one part of their land to another, planting in some plots and allowing others to rest. It was a system that worked, with its own IK. This is a good time to return to the examples I gave at the beginning of this column. Why the field of mushrooms after thunderstorms? Because the sudden downpour causes dormant mushroom spores, already in the soil, to germinate. The lightning fixes atmospheric nitrogen, which, when it reaches the earth, is used as a nutrient by the growing mushrooms. And planting at dawn? The authors of “Philippine Folk Science” say it makes sense because that’s when soil is moist and solar radiation is low. Folk science “Philippine Folk Science” was compiled by a team of Filipino scientists that included Dr. Vivien Talisayon, dean of the UP College of Education and one of the conveners of the IOSTE conference. She told me that some Western scientists dislike terms like “folk science,” pointing out that “science is science.” They do have a point. You have science when people formulate a hypothesis (in Tagalog, "kutob") that is tested by observation and experimentation, and when they’re open enough to revise those hunches based on empirical evidence. Business corporations have always been quick to recognize the value of folk science and IK, sending expeditions out to remote areas to gather information about medicinal plants, food crops and other natural products that have commercial potential. In my IOSTE presentation, I reminded the science educators that tapping into IK isn’t a matter of extracting knowledge, it’s also being open to new ways of looking and thinking. Paul Sillitoe, in his book “Local Science vs. Global Science,” points out that Charles Darwin got some of his ideas about evolution from the natives of the Galapagos Islands. The natives could tell which islands tortoises and finches (a type of bird) came from, by looking at parts of their anatomy. Darwin realized, from those observations, that the anatomical differences were actually adaptations to different environments. In recent years, there has been an explosion of interest in traditional “wellness” practices. The example I gave at the IOSTE meeting was Buddhist meditation. Formerly scoffed at as a faddish practice that worked only on the gullible, meditation is now the subject of research by neurologists and psychologists. Monks are wired up with electrodes so researchers can figure out what goes on in their brains and their bodies as they meditate. The studies show there are very real physiological changes during meditation, with many favorable effects. The most startling are findings that meditation (and, we know now, mental exercises) allows the central and autonomic nervous systems to “regenerate” or compensate for damaged parts. Medical scientists now talk about “neuroplasticity,” or how the nervous system can be trained and exercised to prevent or slow down dementia and senility. I don’t want to romanticize all that indigenous knowledge; certainly, there are many irrational beliefs that persist, but you find them as well among “modern” scientists, even with doctorate degrees, who stubbornly cling on to outdated theories. Science -- “indigenous” or “modern” -- thrives best in an environment where there is dialogue and peer review. At the UP College of Medicine, I’ve convinced professors not to use terms like “primitive” and “superstitious” to refer to folk practices. We’re making some progress there, a recent example being a group of medical students looking into “pasma,” a folk illness. I’m going to describe their fascinating findings next month. Yes, “Philippine Folk Science” is still available at UP, but I hope we’ll see more publications of that type. IK and folk science consist of accumulated experiences through several generations that need to be validated, but the first step is to rediscover them, together with our young so they take pride as well in things local. Unless we do that, we’ll lose all that knowledge, together with all their potential contributions to sustainable development.
By Maria Congee S. Gomez Inquirer ZAADERA "DIDA" Basmala, 45, juggles her time tending to a "carinderia" or small canteen) and weaving on the side. A widow for the past 10 years, Dida is raising her five children with ages ranging from 11 to 22 by herself. Her dream is to see them complete their studies, so that, in her words, "they can have better jobs in the future." The carinderia has been a big help despite the competition. Like Dida, most of the women in Barangay Amilo, Dayawan, Lanao del Sur, have no other means to augment the family income except tend a carinderia and, in their free time, engage in loom weaving. Dida says that one point, loom weaving was in a precarious state. The craft that she and others like her learned from their mothers, who in turn learned it from their own, had been relegated to the back seat mainly because of poor returns. That young Maranao women are leaving home and desperately seeking a better lifestyle in urban centers does not help matters any, she says. Happily, things are looking up for the endangered centuries-old craft. The Dayawan Weavers Association is showing the way. Indonesian traders Loom weaving in Lanao is a craft believed to have been introduced by Indonesian traders long before the coming of the Spaniards and the Americans. The local people's resistance to foreign subjugation enabled them to preserve the craft, which provided them a steady source of income. The woven products were used to buy grains, fish, other basic necessities, even cattle. When mercerized cotton was introduced during the American period, weavers were forced to buy raw materials. The presence of third-party traders in the marketplace was not of help, as they dictated terms that weavers often found unfair. Also, the entry of modern clothing materials at a fraction of the cost of locally woven products lowered the demand for the latter. Not only did the profitability of woven products decline, a number of artisans also showed waning interest. The influence of modernization was that strong. Meanwhile, Dida's weaves, which she had hung on the walls of her home, were gathering dust. Each time she ran her fingers on them, she uttered special prayers to Allah for buyers--to no avail. Changing times Amilo is not the only barangay beset with the grim reality facing loom weaving. The decline is also prevalent in the municipalities of Balalabagan, Madalum and Tugaya. Times have changed, the weavers say. They anticipate a sudden gain, a windfall, from their craft, but actually they spend the money even before receiving it. And to think that Dayawan was once popularly known in Lanao as the center of expert weavers. (The majority, or 92.59 percent of the residents have not gone to school. Only 5.56 percent finished secondary education, and a measly 1.85 percent went to college.) If this were the Spanish period, the woven products would have been deemed important merchandise--as gifts by members of the nobility to their guests. The Philippine Foundation for Resources Management (PFRM), a nongovernmental organization based in Marawi City, has a clear grasp of the situation. Its acting chairman, Cosain Madale, derives inspiration from preserving the Maranao cultural heritage for the young generation. "Loom weaving is at an alarming stage. Parents have become so busy eking out a living that they have forgotten to train their daughters. We fear this might hasten the obliteration of their heritage, and therefore we must find ways to preserve it, or strike a balance between what the modern and the traditional can best offer," says Madale. Early snags In the Maranao social organization, husbands and wives equally share decisions in running the household. But it is the women who imbue in the children the responsibility needed for future family life, including passing on the craft to their daughters. It was not easy to discuss development plans with the women, Madale recalls. The husbands would not allow their wives to mingle with other men despite Madale's being a Maranao (he lives in Marawi City, and is thus considered of another origin). It was not much different for a female development worker. Mariz Limpo, program officer of the Philippine-Australia Community Assistance Program (Pacap), recalls that initially, not one among the 40 women who came to the PFRM center welcomed her. Her being a Christian made matters worse, she says. Moreover, a community that had been pampered with funds doled by local government officials without benefit of sustaining objectives appeared to have no patience to engage in serious discussion of, say, a project proposal. At the mention of policies, marketing strategies and counterpart sharing, the weavers quickly remarked: "When will the funds come in?" But the NGOs recall that the succeeding meetings saw the women earnestly beginning to talk about the dire situation of loom weaving in Dayawan. In time, everyone proved interested in working for the cause of the craft. In the six months within which the project proposal was made and approved, the women underwent intensive capacity-building seminars and workshops. Empowerment Buckling down to work was quite easy after all concerns were laid out and addressed, says Madale. The husbands did not mind their wives' late-night meetings, knowing this was a woman thing. (Still, as the days wore on, when the women devotedly applied themselves to preparing the reports they were required to submit, the menfolk began to question whether the late-night meetings would be of benefit to them. When orders--and the resulting cash--started coming in, the men wanted to know: "What about us?") The PFRM reports that the women have organized themselves into the Dayawan Weavers Association, with a set of officers and registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They are mapping out plans for nearby trade fairs, and eyeing the marketing aspect of their products. Pacap executive director Lody Padilla is quite happy about the changes among the loom weavers of Dayawan. Padilla says it was Pacap's holistic approach that developed the women's sense of discipline. "We have guided them to avoid unsuccessful moves, and taught them to be sustainable by looking at the whole thing on a long-term basis. These are what have strengthened their self-esteem and self-respect." Maranao loom weaving has highly adhered to a creed of stylized designs. Believing that they are now ready to face the challenges of the market, Dida and friends have expressed willingness to adapt Western and Christian patterns in their designs. While there have been apprehensions regarding the extent of flexibility as far as designs and colors were concerned, Dida says she and her co-weavers are thinking of ways to make certain changes in order to draw more clients. The Dayawan Weavers Association is bracing for bulk orders. Their products come in attractive forms--cover folders, bags, coin purses, blankets, table runners and pencil cases, among other items ideal for corporate giveaways. "For us to survive, we need to mix commerce with the preservation of our tradition. It should be complementary in nature so that one does not obliterate the other," Dida says.
By Bayani San Diego Jr. Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Sleep-deprived, Filipino-American filmmaker Ramona Diaz’s mind was swirling with all sorts of “compelling” images: African-American girls dancing and chanting “Pen-pen de Sarapen.” An American school principal and janitress swaying to “Pinoy Ako [I'm Filipino],” the theme of the ABS-CBN reality show “Pinoy Big Brother.” And her film’s Caucasian cinematographer insisting on changing his citizenship to Filipino. Diaz, whose 2004 documentary “Imelda” won Best Cinematography in the Sundance Film Festival, was in the country for almost a month, to shoot scenes for her latest documentary “The Learning.” From controversial First Lady Imelda Marcos, Diaz is now training her camera on a group of Filipina schoolteachers who have migrated to Baltimore, Maryland, to teach in inner-city schools. Diaz, director of photography Gabriel Goodenough and sound man Paul Flinton were in the Philippines for three weeks (from June 19 to July 13) to capture the homecomings of four teachers: Dorotea Godinez of Cebu, Rhea Espedido of Sorsogon, Mary Angel Alim of Antipolo and Grace Amper of Cagayan de Oro. It was a whirlwind trip not only for the teachers, but for Diaz and her ragtag crew as well. “It was tiring,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview a week before her flight back to Baltimore on Friday. “From Cagayan we went to Malaybalay, Bukidnon. We spent some time in Bogo, Cebu. Also in Legazpi and Manila.” Her American crew, however, savored the sights and sounds of the countryside. “They couldn’t believe that, in their short trip, they saw the real Philippines,” Diaz recounted. Cameraman Goodenough, who had developed a fondness for Pinoy rock songs (like Alamid’s “Your Love”), told Diaz that he wanted to give up his American citizenship to become a Filipino citizen. “They’d have to build a new building just to accommodate his historic request,” Diaz said, laughing. She estimated that she had accumulated 759 hours of raw footage for “The Learning,” which is set to premiere in the Sundance film festival in 2008. Unlike “Imelda,” which involved only one person, “The Learning,” explained Diaz, would be more complex. “It’s an unfolding tale -- following multiple story lines.” She has been shooting the documentary for a year and a half -- trailing four teachers from recruitment to their adjustment period in Baltimore and eventual homecoming after a year in the US. Principal photography has been finished, she reported. “It’s almost in the can. I just have two to three days, to shoot the teachers’ return to the US.” Then, Diaz said, the hard work would begin -- in the editing room. “Documentaries like this are really fashioned in the editing room. Editing can make or break a film. Docus need to be nurtured in post-production.” In the editing room, she’s hands-on, she owned up. “I do the choosing [of scenes] because these are mostly in Tagalog and my editor, Kim Roberts, is an American. If Kim would watch everything that I shot, it would take her six months!” She compared editing this docu to solving a “puzzle.” Although she admitted that she was fixated on sleeping at the time of the interview, it was obvious that she was also making a mental list of “compelling” scenes as she gabbed with teachers Espedido and Alim at the Unitel office in Makati. (Tony Gloria of Unitel is producing the documentary, which was partly funded by the Sundance Institute and the Center for Asian American Media.) Diaz related: “Suddenly, I would remember: Ah, yah, we have footage of the principal dancing ‘Pinoy Ako’ [for example] … So I would include that in my list … which is not fixed, by the way. It may still evolve.” Gloria pointed out that a lesser filmmaker would have quit a long time ago. “She’s been shooting for over a year with very little resources,” Gloria said. “Fortunately, she feels strongly about this story. It’s been a journey for Ramona and the teachers.” So what kept Ramona in this exhausting journey? “I’m not a quitter. The thing is, something new was happening all the time. By the end, the teachers themselves were calling me about the latest developments,” she noted. To think that Diaz picked up this project because she had wanted to stay closer to home. “After traveling constantly with ‘Imelda,’ I got so tired that I wanted to stay put in Baltimore, where I live,” she recalled. While browsing through the newspaper Baltimore Sun, Diaz found out about the first batch of Filipino teachers who moved to Maryland in 2005. That was the seed of “The Learning.” “But I wanted to focus on the second batch of teachers, so I could follow them as they adjust in their new life in the US,” she recounted. In the process, the teachers became close friends of Ramona’s. “I know things about them that not even their own families know,” she quipped. When Fe Bolado, one of the teachers featured in the documentary, committed suicide last May, it felt like a major blow for Diaz. “It was traumatic. It affected the whole Filipino teachers’ community,” Diaz remembered. “There were lots of memorials and prayer groups.” Diaz also had to help the teachers cope with the nitty-gritty. “I had to find lawyers and take care of the insurance. Fe’s roommates had to find a new apartment. The body had to be moved from the morgue and shipped back to the country.” It was draining. She shared the highs and lows, the joys and tears of the teachers’ “unfolding lives.” She felt for Amper when the teacher came home and her own two-year-old son did not recognize her. She experienced Alim’s thrill when the teacher watched her African-American students perform the "pandango sa ilaw" dance and “Pinoy Ako.” Diaz related: “In the beginning, most of these kids didn’t even know where the Philippines is. It’s good for these marginalized students to get acquainted with a different culture through their teachers. It widens their horizons.” Diaz, however, did not gloss over the migration’s possible negative effect on the Philippine school system. “The good teachers are leaving. Filipino children are not getting the benefits of being taught by veteran teachers. But, we can’t really blame them. A lot of these teachers told me that if only they were paid enough here, they’d never leave.” Diaz pointed out that, as of the Fall of 2006, there were 400 Filipino teachers in Baltimore City. “A school supervisor was quoted in the documentary, saying that the US is getting the crème de la crème,” said Gloria. “The students are charmed by Filipino teachers because they’re so motherly.” In one scene, Godinez was grilling an African-American student who got pregnant, as if the teener were her own daughter. “Some of these kids have no parents to go home to,” said Diaz. “We have a no-touch policy in school,” Espedido said. “But it’s the kids themselves who embrace us first,” Alim said. “The kids’ faces brighten up when they hug their teachers,” said Diaz. Initially, the teachers encountered resistance. Espedido and Alim recalled that they had to grapple with culture shock. “I had to send a kid to the principal’s office and he was just on his first grade,” Espedido said. “I had to remind the kids not to break the glasses in pandango sa ilaw,” Alim looked back. “They found it strange that candles are used in dancing because they only light candles for the dead.” Espedido and Alim remarked that their students had described Filipino food as “nasty.” Alim related: “I brought them to a Philippine festival and treated them to halo-halo. At first, they said it was weird but they finished off the entire glass.” Diaz said: “You have to be tough. It’s a hard population to teach. But at the end of the day, you’ll realize that they are just children.” Although Diaz was the first to admit that the documentary was a challenging shoot, she would gladly relive the process of telling these teachers’ stories all over again. “In a way, it’s an homage to the teaching profession,” she explained. “This docu is a snapshot of our time. The theme is very universal. Filipinos are not the only ones flocking to the US, thinking it’s a land of milk and honey … only to discover it’s not always milk and honey.”
By Emman Cena Inquirer HE could have stayed in the United States where his family is or in the burning deserts of Saudi Arabia to rake in more money. But Mike Bolos opts to stay home and walk the road less-traveled. âIâve had enough overseas. Lifeâs comfort is obviously there but Iâd like to get old here,â Mike Bolos tells the Inquirer in an interview. Turning 53, Bolos obviously had enjoyed the prime of his life toiling 25 years as an accountant and chief financial officer in several companies in Saudi. He had all the best. But in 2005, he decided to return and settle where, he says, his heart is. âIâd rather spend whatever earnings I have here,â says Bolos who has put up a spa center in Manila and a commercial building in his hometown, Guagua, Pampanga. The spa which started in August, 2005 employs 18 women, whom he says could have ended as domestic helpers had they gone abroad. âThey were merely high school graduates but they earn here as much as P20,000 monthly as masseuse,â he adds. The P60-million, 3-story commercial building, on one hand, is expected to be in full swing this month. It will house various establishments such as a dance studio, an Internet cafÃ©, a 7-11 convenience store and a modern American-patterned dental clinic run by one of his children. âThe mall type building will be the center of life (in Guagua). This is my way of paying back the people I grew up with. This will be a one-stop shop,â he adds. Formula for success But the success of Bolos didnât happen in the blink of an eye. âI was good in numbers and they never failed me throughout. But of course, it was sheer determination, hard work and patience,â he says. His is a classic Cinderella story. He climbed the corporate ladder from being an ordinary Accounting board passer. It was his brother who was looking for a job abroad but it was Bolos who was given the chance. At 21, he worked as an accountant in a travel agency in Riyadh where he stayed for two years. He later moved to a health care company, the Gama Services Ltd., where he spent 23 years. He left Gama as corporate assistant comptroller. At an early age, Mike learned how to juggle work with academics as business administration student at the University of the East. But the hard times didnât stop him from dreaming of a brighter life for his family. It was actually one of the goading forces behind his success. He graduated high school valedictorian which qualified him for a business course at the University of Santo Tomas. But after a year in UST, he decided to transfer to the University of the East where schedules were more suitable to him as a working student. After graduating and passing the CPA boards, he left the country in 1980. He also had his own family to miss, being married to a fellow Kapampangan at an early age. âMy first two years were miserable because I had no idea of the culture of the place. I was young and was thinking that things are done as they were done in the Philippines.â But he eventually learned the ropes, he says. He later learned how to throw his hat into the fray, so to speak. He performed well ahead of his co-workers. He started earning good money, was provided free house and car by the company. âEverything was free. A lot of freebies. So my monthly check goes to my family tax-free,â he recalls. In fact, he admits, he was one of the highest paid Filipinos in Saudi at that time. Children far from me âGiven a chance I would have tried to work out my relationship with my children. They grew up far from me. Weâve gone on our ways,â Bolos says. Two of his kids are now in the US. Michelle, the eldest has a family of her own while Michael, 20, is studying law in Chicago. The middle child, Madelaine, is helping him run the family business in Guagua. Business secret Asked his business secret, Bolos could only say, âThere are a lot of opportunities here. But the sad part is that the money that Filipinos work hard for are going to the hands of the rich people, most of them foreigners.â These days, Bolos says he gets himself busy by doing the rounds of his businesses. He rarely gets rest days. âI donât even have time to watch TV. I am always in front of my computer. I wake up at 8 a.m. to check e-mails then my day ends at about 3 a.m.â âUntil I get my team in place then Iâd finally take a break,â he says. He is currently hiring people to man his commercial center in Guagua. âIâm happy but not content. I have a lot more things that Iâve wanted to do but not for myself though.â Did he ever think of running for public office? âYes, Iâve received feedback from some of my town mates. But itâs not really my turf. Iâll help out as a private individual.â
By Veronica Uy INQUIRER.net UPDATE: Editor's note: Added link to winners' page. Thanks to reader Lynn for the link. ACTRESS Cherry Pie Picache has won the Best Actress award for her role in the Philippine entry "Summer Heat" in the recent 28th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) held from June 20 to July 1, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced on July 10. Citing the report of Philippine Ambassador to South Africa Virgilio Reyes Jr., the DFA said in a press statement that Picache was cited "for her sustained and controlled performance of the character of the gay sister, Jess, who despite her apparent cultivated masculine exterior betrays a softness which can hardly be seen but can be felt by all." The DFA said the DIFF was organized by the Centre for Creative Arts and funded by the National Film and Video Foundation, National Lottery Distribution Fund, Hivos, Stichting Doen, City of Durban, Ethekwini Municipality, KwaZuluNatal Department of Economic Development, with support from the Royal Netherlands Embassy, French Embassy, Goethe Institute, and other partners. The DIFF presented a selection of the best in cinema from South Africa, Africa, and around the world; some 300 screenings at 22 venues were organized across the Durban district during the festival period.
By Tarra Quismundo Inquirer LEGAZPI CITY--Many of them have been away from the Philippines for several years and most have never even seen the majestic Mayon Volcano. But on a trip to the homeland they so missed, they are foregoing vacations and sightseeing to instead extend a helping hand to their countrymen in dire need. This is what Filipino-Americans serving in the United States Navy are currently doing as part of a humanitarian mission called Pacific Partnership. The four-month mission is carried out by 1,000 American sailors aboard the USS Peleliu, which is currently anchored in the Philippine Sea off Albay. About 100 of the ship’s crew are of Filipino descent and doing medical, technical and clerical jobs for the mission. “You know, it's good to see that we're helping our countrymen especially those who are really in need, especially this place that was really devastated. It's good that we're here,” said Lt. Francis Santos, a stock control officer now on his 18th year with the US Navy. Now based in San Diego, California, 40-year-old Santos last came home two years ago, one of his occasional trips back to the Philippines since entering the US Navy in 1989. His current mission on the Peleliu brought him for the first time to Bicol, devastated in 2006 by supertyphoons Milenyo (international codename: Xangsane) and Reming (international codename: Durian). Chief Petty Officer Alejandro Bernardino, 39, told the Inquirer he loved visiting villages in Albay because they reminded him of his childhood in Malolos, Bulacan. “I bring anything I can bring like food, candies and stuff to give to kids. I love kids so I normally give them food or candies and they're all happy. Normally, whenever we go out, I have a backpack with me and then just give away [goodies]. It's the kids I love seeing. They're the ones that need help the most,” said Bernardino, whose two kids with his Filipino wife are back home in San Diego. “It's a good thing we did this. I've been away for so long and, you know, you don't really see this and I’m just so glad I'm part of the ship. When you go to some hospital, you help out your kababayan. Nakaka-touch eh. You can feel it, really... Kailangan nila ng tulong,” said the officer while on a break from the Fourth of July reception on board the Peleliu Wednesday night. In her 20 years in the Navy, pharmacy technician Joanna Miclat never joined a mission to her homeland. That's why upon learning about the Peleliu's trip to Southeast Asia, port-based Miclat jumped at the chance to go home and volunteered to join. “When I found out about it, I said I had to go because I wanted to see my kababayans... It's a very rewarding feeling. It's a privilege to give back to those who are in need... I know how it is because I grew up in a poor family,” said 46-year-old Miclat. “It feels so good that I'm representing the US and the Philippines at the same time. I'm so proud of being a Filipino and proud that I'm with the US because we're doing good things for our kababayans,” said the pharmacist, whose brother in the US Navy helped her join the service. Before its Bicol stop, the Peleliu dropped off an 11-member medical team that included Miclat to conduct medical missions for communities in Cotabato, Tawi-Tawi and Jolo. “The people were kinda surprised and amazed that there's a Filipina in the US navy. They didn't know we existed. They were so happy,” said Miclat, smiling at the recollection. Senior Chief Leo Estremadura, 46, was among sailors who helped build 35 homes for typhoon victims at a relocation site in Barangay Anislag, Daraga, Albay. His group worked from June 26 until this week to speed up the construction of new houses for evacuees from the typhoon-ravaged Barangay Malubago, also in Daraga. “I'm really glad that I was given the opportunity to help out,” said the Sorsogon native, who joined the US Navy in 1985. The humanitarian mission will take the Peleliu to the Philippines, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands.
By Veronica Uy INQUIRER.net I BELIEVE Beatriz Saw emerged the big winner because of overseas Filipino workers around the world and their families throughout the country. Despite having an absent dad, an OFW in Taiwan, Bea seems to have grown into a good person -- something the eight million OFWs all desperately hope for their own children even in their absence. Of course, she could have been just the lucky girl who scored from Wendy Valdez's negative vibes.
By Kit Bagaipo Visayas Bureau TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines--The tricycle driver who returned $17,000 left by a female passenger continues to reap rewards for his honesty from people and organizations here. A business organization and Tagbilaran City Mayor Dan Lim expressed appreciation to Iluminado Boc. On June 23, Boc found the money, left in the passenger's seat of his tricycle, sparking an outpouring of tribute. Lim lauded Boc who, despite his own economic woes, proved "that there is hope after all for every crisis" one faces. Boc's wife was hospitalized at the time he found the money left by Misael Bernasor. Lim said he would give Boc a new tricycle unit as a reward for his honesty and, when he learned Boc's monthly installment for the tricycle he drives was past due, would pay the balance. The mayor likewise promised to foot the hospital bills of Boc’s wife. On Monday morning, the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) gave P3,000 and a plaque of appreciation to Boc during a program broadcast over a local radio station. In another radio station, where Boc was also interviewed, the radio announcer gave the tricycle driver P1,500 after learning Boc received P3,000 from Bernasor. Several radio listeners also offered him cash. Aside from his wife's hospitalization expenses and installment fees for his motorcycle unit, Boc is also paying for the monthly amortization for his house at the Habitat Village here.