Quantcast Being Filipino: September 2007 Archives

September 2007 Archives

By Beverly T. Natividad Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The Catholic faithful, through the intercession of saints, ask for good health, a rich spouse, even the winning lotto numbers. But if it’s strength they need to make great sacrifices, they turn to the first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz. This year, Lorenzo Ruiz celebrates the 20th anniversary of his canonization in 1987. This simple Chinoy Church escribano (scribe) from Binondo is also the patron saint of Filipino migrant workers. Martyred in Japan, he is seen as an empathetic figure by many overseas Filipino workers who experience the same loneliness and alienation working and making sacrifices in foreign lands. Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales said Lorenzo Ruiz also represents the Christianity in the hearts of Filipinos in the world. “Kahit saan nandoon ang mga Pilipino, ang katapatan sa Diyos ay dala-dala ng Pinoy (Wherever the Filipino may go, he carries his faith in God),” Rosales said. Every Monday, the faithful at the old Binondo Church in Manila pray a novena to Lorenzo Ruiz as part of the church’s devotion to its very own parishioner-turned-martyr. By praying the novena, they ask God to give them strength to make great sacrifices, just as Christ delivered himself in sacrifice, and just as the Filipino saint willingly did, despite threats of torture in Nagasaki, Japan in 1637. Twenty years after his canonization on Oct. 18, 1987, Lorenzo Ruiz is venerated not only by Filipinos in the Philippines but also by Filipino communities and pilgrims elsewhere in the world. Last week, Rosales said he presided over Holy Mass in Seoul, Korea, to commemorate the feast day of the Filipino martyr. Some 5,000 Filipinos attended the event. On Sept. 23, the Filipino community in New York also held high Mass at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, presided by Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes, to observe the feast day of Lorenzo Ruiz. Last year, the same high mass in New York was presided by Rosales and was attended by an overflow crowd of 4,000. A church in lower Manhattan has been named after the Filipino saint. The Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz, which is located on Broome Street in New York, is not yet a parish church but it is attached to the Philippine Pastoral Center of the Filipino Apostolate of the Archdiocese of New York. Fr. Erno Diaz, the chapel’s director, told the Inquirer by e-mail that the church is located near Chinatown, owing to the saint’s Chinese origins. In Manila, the shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz is located in the heart of Binondo. The 400-year-old church, which used to be the Parish of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary is now called the Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, primarily because the Filipino saint was a parishioner here. “We consider it a gift that he was from here. Incidentally, he was the reason for the raising of the church to a minor basilica under his name,” said Leonida Aranda, lay president of the Basilica’s Parish Pastoral Council. The area fronting the Binondo Church, which used to be the Plaza Calderon de la Barca was also renamed Plaza San Lorenzo where the statue of the martyr now stands.
By Carla Gomez Inquirer BACOLOD CITY--Negros’ muscovado sugar, which is gaining popularity in the growing health-conscious global market, is synonymous with those mouth-watering pastries only its people can make best. The dark brown, slightly coarse, unrefined sugar, which still contains the minerals and vitamins originally found in sugarcane, has a pleasant bitter-sour taste from molasses not found in regular sugar, says pastry reinventor Millie Kilayko. It is also this sugar that makes Negrense pastries delightfully different, bringing back memories of the old days of leisure and long lunches. Carrying on the tradition of making muscovado-laced pastries are second cousins Maritess Sanchez of Silay City’s famous El Ideal and Kilayko of Casa Carmela in Bacolod City. Both come from old Silay families who have a reputation that revolves around delicious meals capped by desserts. Sanchez and Kilayko also live in the homes they have known since birth, and their factories are just a flight of stairs down their living quarters. Sanchez has chosen to remain close to her workplace to continue the family business that was passed on to her -- along with all its original recipes. Kilayko finds her proximity to her factory the best assurance to meet the best manufacturing practices, especially sanitation. “As I take my daily 30-minute walk around my garden, I can poke my eyes into the work site and check on the way it is cleaned before the rest of the workers come in,” Kilayko said. Handed-down traditions Sanchez’s and Kilayko’s links with the past are perhaps the reason they have a devotion to “perpetuate” the recipes of old. Sanchez said her grandfather, Cesar Locsin, together with his two sisters began making cookies before going solo by starting El Ideal Bakery on Rizal Street. El Ideal, for three generations, has been the place where travelers buy the deliciously sweet pasalubong items for friends. Locsin passed on the business to Sanchez’s mother, Alicia Locsin Villanueva, who, in turn, passed it on to her. Many of El Ideal’s sweets are made with muscovado sugar that the growing health conscious population sees as a healthier option, she said. Among the products are its golden brown angel cookies made from cuttings of hosts served during communion, high-fiber “muscobite” cookies made with wheat flour, guava-apple pies, butong-butong (chewy sugar nougats) candies, and “musco bars” similar to butterscotch. And, of course, the star of the delicacies is the “piaya” still made the way Sanchez’s grandfather made it three generations ago. Kilayko, on the other hand, has a passion for creating new products using the personalities of the old and traditional, innovating from what has been handed down to present generations of cooks, and changing these into something fresh before handing them over to the next generation. Last year, Kilayko introduced her version of the “piaya” -- crisp, light and thin, unlike the original piaya that has a thicker layer of muscovado sandwiched in it. While the new product gives one’s palate only a delicate flavor of muscovado sugar between fine layers, it still carries the personality of the one prepared by generations of cooks before her. Inspired by the success of her reinvention, Kilayko introduced bite-size “piaya,” which she calls “piayito,” and healthy versions using whole wheat. Casa Carmela’s crisp and thin “piaya” also come with different personalities: tropical (mango, banana and ube), gourmet (after-dinner dark chocolate with mint, cinnamon and espresso), cocktail (low salt, pesto and country herb) and low sugar (a blend of muscovado sugar and Splenda). However, the ones with muscovado sugar filling -- whether they be using traditional flour recipe or the healthier whole wheat dough -- still remains the most popular, Kilayko said. Trade fair Kilayko and Sanchez are among the 73 Negrense producers who are bringing their products to the Association of Negros Producers’ (ANP) 22nd Negros Trade Fair at Rockwell in Makati City on Oct. 3-8. The group banners “Innovation and Reinvention” as this year’s theme. This time, Kilayko said she would be combining the two most popular delicacies -- “piaya” and “barquillos” -- all in a bite. Keeping its crisp and thin features, and retaining the fine layer of muscovado filling of her piaya, it is rolled into the shape of the barquillos. This new product Kilayko calls paiquillos is a perfect match to a scoop of ice cream or a cup of coffee. Kilayko also makes crispy piaya ice cream cones and accepts orders for crispy piaya fortune cookies. Organizing the trade fair “is not just to create a shopping venue, but to continually seek and tap new domestic and international markets and bolster inter-provincial and international linkages,” said Doreen Alicia Peña, ANP vice president for trade fair and marketing.
By Carla Gomez Inquirer Visayas Bureau BACOLOD CITY, Philippines--He will have to work for 20 months to earn the P100,000 he found in a room of a government resort in Negros Occidental recently. But Pedrito de la Torre, a contractual employee of the government-owned Mambukal Resort in Murcia town, preferred to return the money that he found under a pillow in a resort room occupied by Korean nationals who checked out on September 19, said Negros Occidental Provincial Board Member Edgardo Acuña. In recognition of his exemplary act, Vice Governor Isidro Zayco said on Thursday he would recommend to Governor Joseph Marañon the hiring of De la Torre as a permanent employee of the Capitol. "What he did should be emulated," Zayco said. Board Member Miller Serondo suggested giving De la Torre a cash reward, which was immediately concurred with by Zayco and the other SP members during their regular session Wednesday. They said they would give P1,000 each to the contractual employee. On motion of Acuña and Board Member Frederick Ko, the board unanimously passed a resolution commending De la Torre for his exemplary act and honesty. De la Torre earns about P5,000 a month as a contractual employee at the mountain resort. Zayco said the awarding of cash and a certificate of appreciation to De la Torre was scheduled for Friday at the governor's office.
By Gerald Gene R. Querubin Inquirer BOAC, Marinduque--The Muslims have their “singkil” and the Visayans, their “Usahay” and “Dandansoy.” But what do the people of Marinduque have? This question has inspired an advocacy by a music educator since childhood to learn and preserve songs and folk dances that are truly Marinduqueño. “I heard old folks in my place singing old short songs aside from the kundiman and love songs with positive values. I listened to some of them and there, my research began,” says Prof. Rex Manuel Asuncion, who is now director of the Center for Cultural Arts Studies of the Marinduque State College in Boac town. Asuncion started playing simplified versions of Filipino folk songs on the piano during his elementary school days. He was also actively involved in folk dance presentations in schools and town fiestas. While growing up, he noticed that the students’ most-sought performances were limited to folk songs and dances of other provinces. They were not taught to sing or dance any Marinduque songs and dances. “If we have ‘Sarungbanggi’ of Bicol, ‘Atin Cu Pung Singsing’ of Pampanga, ‘Pamulinawen’ of Ilocos, ‘Usahay’ of Cebu and ‘Dandansoy’ of the Visayas, Marinduque has its own folk songs which are unheard of yet existing,” Asuncion says. The professor envisions that the island-province will soon be proud of its songs that speak much about its traditions, culture, beliefs and lifestyles. Asuncion has so far documented and notated the following folk songs: “Alamat ng Dalawang Puting Gansa” (The Legend of the Two White Geese), a legendary myth about two lovers who jumped into the river and became white geese. “Sulong, Aking Tandang” (Charge, My Rooster), a courtship song that depicts the intention of a rooster to a beautiful hen. “Isang Buong Dayap,” a song of longing for a dear someone who died. “Lahat ng Bagay” (All the Things), a song that compares life to the scent of a flower. “Dalagang Parang” (Lady of the Fields), a nationalistic song that describes the ability of a Filipino woman to live and succeed in everyday life by helping her husband in the field. Asuncion is now working on different versions of the traditional “putong” (royal welcome) and other songs. Folk songs, he explains, are short songs that express love, loneliness, festivities, harvests and religious activities, and have no particular composers. Just like the Tagalogs’ “Bahay Kubo” (Nipa Hut), these continue to exist in the community and are sung by old-timers, he says. People long ago tended to make songs because it was one of their activities that they did in lieu of modern technology, he adds. Authenticity “Before we perform music in terms of solo singing or choral rendition, we look first for its authenticity—and that is the beginning of research,” Asuncion says. Music authenticity or originality, he explains, covers the exact melodic pattern, lyrics, time signature, key signature, tempo, style, influence, purpose, event and function, and how it evolves in the community. Moreover, respondents must be at least 60 years old for music validation, Asuncion says. “I made them sing and record their voices individually and join them in singing to intensify the music. After a long hour of staying with them, music analysis follows and this demands more time.” “I go back once I finish my notated music and check some discrepancies with the old folks until I finalize it with them with their approval,” he adds. Old folks are willing to share what they know because they see themselves in the studies being made and they feel that they are part of the songs, Asuncion notes. Learning the ropes Asuncion learned music research and how folk dances and songs were documented through close interviews with National Artist for Dance Ramon Obusan, Dr. Larry Gabao of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and other music professors. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Music Education degree from the Centro Escolar University in 1995, and a Masters in Music, Major in Music Education, also from CEU, in 2006. He received a gold medal for excellence in research. A baritone-tenor, he teaches humanities, music education and curriculum development under the MSC’s School of Education and prepares music modules for early childhood programs. “The only thing that makes them different is that dance focuses on figures while music is on tonal approach,” Asuncion says. “I have also seen how a Peking Opera was documented in Beijing, China, in 2006 and I could not imagine the level of patience on their performances. You know how slow some parts of the Chinese opera are,” he says. “I was even more challenged to document our own music, instruments, rural costumes (if there’s any) regardless of its musical mood and tempo as long as it will identify my own native land.” Local folk songs, he says, must be included in the learning competencies of the music curriculum because they also comprise the basic elements of music. “It gives full identity to the locality and has the power to develop every learner to become more patriotic to his native land. This also magnifies the love for native tongue or dialect.” Folk songs can be further improved once they are written in simple piano pieces for beginners and set into recording for production intended for income-generating purposes in the form of video compact discs, he said. Asuncion is looking forward to promoting Marinduque’s identity in terms of music heritage. He simply wants to respect, adore and appreciate his ancestors, who had lived and believed in the beauty of music. He is grateful for the moral and intellectual support of his superior, Dr. Carlos Andam, vice president for research and extension of the MSC, and his co-author, Prof. Liza Marie Manoos, who does the technical aspects of his research.
By EV Espiritu Inquirer ITBAYAT, Batanes--No more Ivatan warriors exist today to chant the ancient “rawod,” the stories about their seafarers that are passed down to generations. The "rawod" chants are tales of high adventure woven out of the mythical journey that the Ivatan forefathers undertook to escape a disaster. An excerpt, translated by the University of Georgia and attributed to Simina Vohang, illustrates how a "giant flood" battered their ancestors’ boats: "We were on a big boat all kinsmen/In a big boat, sailing on the open sea/We almost reached our island/But the ocean prevented us from sailing home…" In a comparative study, University of Georgia scholars said no living person had an accurate recollection of how each syllable of the "rawod" must be pronounced. But every time Julian Ponce Jr. builds a "tatayak," a type of native boat, this mythic journey is always revisited. To ordinary eyes, a "tatayak" looks like an ordinary sailboat but it uses wooden pegs instead of nails. The Ivatan people are skilled seamen because they live off the sea. But Ponce, a boat maker in the village of Mayan in Itbayat, Batanes, admits to visitors that he does not even know how to swim. Ivatan heritage Yet he and a few community artisans maintain what is perhaps the only Ivatan heritage left in this island province. Ponce said his poor skills as a seafarer did not prevent him from understanding why the "tatayak" remains vital to sustaining Batanes' economy. Faustina Cano, a retired teacher of the Itbayat National Agricultural High School, said: "The current population of Itbayat is composed of those who could not go to school, our children, a few professionals who found jobs running our municipal government and our elderly." Ponce said these were people who would not be able to buy their own boats that were vital to fishing so their daily meals would be assured. First 'tatayak' Ponce said it took him three months to put together his first "tatayak," which legend describes as a vehicle that slices through the largest ocean waves with ease. He said he was able build a respectable trade within five years, but only because he remained loyal to the way his ancestors built their vessels. Each "tatayak" must be made of the expensive "vayuy" (wood) or the cheaper alternatives called the "bataraw," "alimbasaw" and "aryus," the so-called century tree. Each panel is carved out of the tree, and he sold a four-meter-long and a meter-wide "tatayak" for P20, 000. He can also build a seven-meter long boat for P120, 000. Ponce said he could produce six "tatayak" each year. In 2006, another villager learned the trade and has been producing the boat out of fiberglass. But they do not compete. As long as Batanes thrives in marine life, the "tatayak" will continue to sail its waters, Ponce said.

Michael Cacnio's 'everyJuan'

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By Jessica Jalandoni-Robillos Inquirer michael-cacnio.jpgMANILA, Philippines--For 15 years now, TOYM (The Outstanding Young Men) Philippines 2006 awardee Michael Cacnio has been steadily depicting the good and the wholesome: Filipino values of strong family ties; respect for elders; hardy labor and simple pleasures. The photo shows Ambassador Cristina G. Ortega and the director general for external relations of the European Commission (EC) Eneko Landaburu (second from left) flanked by Michael and Ma. Theresa Cacnio during the vernissage-cocktail reception for the artist at Berlaymont building of the EC on Sept. 18. Cacnio graduated from University of the Philippines in 1991 with a degree in Fine Arts. He experimented with brass at a time when it was not a popular medium. Upon deciding he was comfortable with his cut-and-solder method as opposed to molding, he began presenting depictions of children playing traditional Filipino games such as sungka, luksong baka and tirador, inspired by his own childhood in Malabon; and his series of vendors, among them the magtataho and sorbetero. He has also become known for poignant parent-and-child renditions -- so-called “Kodak” moments captured in brass. Most popular are his kite-flyers, which are still in demand, with the bobbing brass lines also featured in his fishing pieces. As he neared his 15th year in the art scene, Cacnio began to include less-than-sunny aspects of the Filipino’s life and persona, a turn deemed natural by art critic Lito Zulueta: “It seems only a matter of time for the young sculptor to turn to social criticism; his earlier works for which he has won acclaim are scenes of folksy idyll and bucolic romance. They basically betray the artist’s romantic temperament: a pining for things either vanishing or gone, a betrayal of panic as change and debasement become inevitable. “The romantic feeling, of course, hides an undercurrent of anger for the despoliation of nature; it’s noble anger at the disappearance of noble savagery. So it is just a matter of time for Cacnio to turn his art into a mordant piece of social protest.” That Cacnio has graduated to a more socially aware phase in his art does not affect his rustic scenes. In the same way that these works have won critical acclaim and have been showcased in sold-out exhibits here, the United States, Canada and Singapore, the newest additions are just as well-received and have earned good reviews. The social commentary actually complements his earlier works. The works from the two phases become a testament to the evolution of the artist without jarring changes. His Giacometti-inspired elongated figures are constant; Filipiniana garb is still hinted at, if not totally evident; and always, even when fueled by protest, the works bear a distinct countenance which encourages enlightenment rather than stirrings of dissent. After his sold-out exhibit at the Philippine Center in New York in July, Cacnio now presents “Philippine Perspectives,” a body of work showcased at the EC Berlaymont Building in Brussels, Belgium, as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of Asean-EU relations. Comprehensive Cacnio’s current collection is very much similar to that which he presented in New York. It is also a comprehensive range of sculptures that spotlights his skill at rendering angst-free artworks-with-a-conscience. The collection may be considered complete in that it showcases his well-loved traditional pieces and other subjects that may elicit nostalgia from the Filipino community abroad. Cacnio renders with amusing detail a jumble of shanties; a cockfight; a beer bottle-clutching man almost sprawled on a bench; a father of three on the phone, presumably taking an overseas call from his OFW wife, who has sent home the newly opened balikbayan box. In all of these scenes, Cacnio subtly tackles issues of poverty, gambling and vices, and maybe even the brain drain. And yet, rather than perceive the images with gloom, it is almost certain that audiences will be won over more by the memories of home. This way, Cacnio is able to summarize a Filipino mind-set: that of resilience, making do and even being merry despite the most grueling of circumstances, and coping by seeing the lighter aspect of things. The artist’s wishes are simple enough: “I pray to be identified as the Filipino sculptor who has contributed to the preservation of the Philippine heritage, who is respected by fellow artists, and who believes it is through God’s Providence that I am able to create my own sculptures.” The artist focuses more on the bright side however biting his social commentary. It is commentary that invites both sympathy and empathy, and though the psychosocial bearings may breach borders and race, it is especially understood by his fellow Filipinos because it seems Cacnio has made a way for “everyJuan” to be somehow synonymous to “everyone.” Send comments to majorday@gmail.com Photo courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Manila roadtrip

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HERE'S a video created by arfiedoggie of a Metro Manila roadtrip that shares some of the sights homesick Filipinos abroad might be missing. What do you miss most about the Philippines?

Honest OFW returns misplaced S$16,000 in Singapore

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By Veronica Uy INQUIRER.net honest-ofw.jpgMARITES PEREZ GALAM, 33, head waitress at Imperial Herbal Restaurant in Singapore, found “gold” in a rest room, fought the temptation to keep it, and helped return it to its owner. The owner, an Indonesian mother who was accompanying her deaf son to Singapore for a surgery, couldn’t thank her enough. In a long-distance phone interview with INQUIRER.net, Galam said this was how it happened: At about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, during her second shift, she stepped out of her work area to go to the common rest room of the VivoCity shopping mall. In the cubicle she used, she saw the raggedy gold wallet on top of the tissue box. “Pero di mo talaga pag-iinteresan kasi lumang-luma na, naagnas na, at sira na. Flat din sya (You won’t really take any interest in it because it was very old, worn to shreds, and scruffy. It was also flat),” she said. When she inspected the wallet, it contained S$16,600 (P485,085) wrapped in a white sheet of paper. Even then, she wasn’t blinded by the money. “Hindi kasi akin (It wasn’t mine),” she told the Chinese Singaporean mall manager to whom she surrendered her find. An hour and a half later, the owner of the money, accompanied by her son and the mall manager, came to her and hugged her. While Galam couldn’t completely understand what the Indonesian mother was saying, she could feel the gratitude in her tears and her embrace. "I think she tried to say thank you and God bless you," she said in Filipino. Philippine Ambassador to the city-state Belen Fule-Anota later met with Galam and commended her for the deed. The envoy said Galam is a model for the thousands of Filipinos who work and live in Singapore: hardworking, self-sacrificing, and honest. Her story also saw its way to a Chinese magazine in Singapore. Galam’s husband, who is also in Singapore, is still trying to find work. The Galam couple, originally of Nueva Vizcaya province, left their four children -- ages ranging from 4 to 15 years old -- October last year to earn more money so that they would lead a decent life. With her deed, she already showed them how. (1 Singapore Dollar = 30.31778 Philippine Peso) Editor's note: Photo of Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Belen Fule-Anota praising Marites Perez Galam courtesy of the Philippine Embassy in Singapore
CHECK out this video of the Filipino Day celebration on September 1 at Canada's Wonderland theme park in Toronto. And here's Filipino-Canadian Elise Estrada performing at the event. Videos uploaded by Earsonline.
By Jeffrey M. Tupas Mindanao Bureau THIN wisps of smoke from burning incense emitted a strong scent that made me feel mystical. In a corner of the hall, a woman sat on a mat, her eyes closed, silently making quick but graceful jolts as music played softly on the background. Eight other persons, including a university student and I, have formed a huge circle, with the burning incense, a bottle of aromatic oil, and a lighted red candle in the middle. I was starting to go through an experience that I never thought I would do. With legs crossed and feeling relaxed, I felt the urge to close my eyes as a strange feeling started to envelop me. Without the slightest idea of what must be done or what will happen, I allowed the feeling to overwhelm me for a moment, while maintaining my skepticism. Moments later, someone came near me, touched my head and several parts of my back, including my spine and elbows. I felt like someone was talking to me, whispering something in a language I could not understand. I felt a voltage of electricity from a very strong powerhouse enter my spine and spread all over my body. Then the body succumbed to the flow of energy from somewhere and someone unknown, dancing to the music that shifted from slow to fast and exciting. It was overwhelming to feel the body create forms and do non-choreographed floor routines that would have been scary had I been “awake.” Flashes of colors and forms came from behind a black backdrop -- yellow, blue, green, circles, fingers caressing the wind and touching the water. Had I been in control, I would not have chosen to tumble and fall on my face and my back so dangerously for countless times. For several times, too, I saw myself roll, crawl and rest in childlike curls that are followed by elaborate flings and swishes of the arms and legs, the latter I can barely lift for lack of muscle flexibility training. For how can I also explain my almost 10-minute self-beating of the legs and chest that created a rhythm so pleasant to listen to that I felt like I was a human percussion instrument. While the body was spontaneously dancing, doubt was forgotten and fear was never felt. There was an overflowing feeling of bliss like the unexplainable force was comforting and assuring that everything will be alright. And I ended the almost three-hour dance with a strange feeling of lightness, unscathed or hurt. Inner dancing, according to Pompet Pi Villaraza, happens when a person becomes conscious of his or her own energy and that of the surrounding environment, and becoming the energy itself. It is, he added, bringing back a person’s kundalini, the feminine energy which can be accessed from a person’s spine. “The dance makes you feel and experience that you are made up of energy. You find energy within and then the body spontaneously moves. The palm opens and you gather your energy and you become a powerhouse then you can do healing,” said Pi who rediscovered inner dancing in a Palawan island called Kalipay, a Cebuano term for happiness, several years ago. Pi, Villaraza’s “revealed name” for Mindanao, Visayas and Manila, said the dance allows a person to feel the ball of light on the palm and enables him or her to transfer that energy to other people, hence the snowballing effect. He cited how some children, who also experienced the dance were able to heal other people without them memorizing the basics of natural healing. Now, inner dancing is attracting quite a number of people from all over the country—the affluent, the professionals, farmers, healers, artists, among others. Pi and a couple of his colleagues have stationed themselves with a group of farmers practicing natural agriculture in a village in Makilala close to majestic Mt. Apo. Pi explained that for a long time, Filipinos have been deprived of the energy rediscovered through inner dancing, especially with the “extinction” of the babaylan (priestess). Also called Kali-Pi Mu (Your happiness), inner dancing was performed by Filipino indigenous priests and priestesses who held ancient secrets and wisdoms, according to the Inner Dance website. When the Roman Catholic demonized these tribal shamas during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the healing ritual also vanished with them. Troy Bernardo, an inner dance practitioner, described Kali-Pi Mu as a three-fold name. “Kali-Pi Mu (also) means Our Tribe. Kali is taken from the word kalis, meaning blade. The syllable ka represents the word kaalaman, which means knowledge or wisdom, while Li refers to lihim or secret. Put this together and you find the source of the ritual’s secret wisdom,” Bernardo said. He also pointed the seeming merry coincidence that the word Pi also represents the Philippine Islands. He also pointed how, as a mathematical symbol (Pi= 3.14159 or the ratio of a circle’s circumference), the Pi is “called the transcendental real number -- it is also known as the divine number, since no man can ever calculate it precisely, thus putting the digits at the heart of the divine circle.” The word Mu represents the so-called vanished continent Lemuria “thought to have been located in the Pacific Ocean and believed by many psychics to have deep spiritual ties with The Philippines.” “People, who have undergone Kali-Pi Mu gatherings, report an immediate sensation of bliss, intense happiness and spiritual ecstasy, and later on, rapid acceleration of spiritual evolution. Some go through an involuntary dance, mostly with heightened abandon in such elevated states,” Bernardo said. A corporate executive related in a blog post how she drove home after going through inner dance “feeling light of heart and light of movement.” “I usually get very tense driving (on Edsa, who doesn’t?) but this time I sat up without feeling the usual weight on my spine. It was as if I was being held up by a hundred balloons on a string! High na high ako pauwi; If I could sum up the experience in one word, it would be this: Happiness,” she said. There was also Marwin of Cebu who drew circles on a piece of paper and wrote the names of the members of his family so well using his left hand when he is right-handed. Pi said his role is to unleash the energy of the participants so they could reach their higher selves. “Scary, silly, or sublime forms of the dance, they are nonetheless powerful moments that leave us in awe of seeing the unreal turn into very real forms at the twirl of a finger, the crack of a wrist, or the swaying of your arms,” Pi said. “We can pretend that there are aliens, diwatas (deities), monsters speaking through us, but we all know that all parts are filters only, no matter how open we might be. Here are our true selves. The screams, the laughter, the tears are real. As real as those strange deities, ancients, nature spirits and alien forms you’ve seen,” Pi added. Articles about Kali-Pi Mu can be read at www.innerdance.multiply.com
HERE'S a clip of the Philippine proclamation of independence on July 4, 1946, courtesy of the UniversalNewsreels YouTube channel.
By Ruben V. Nepales Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Lav Diaz’s nine-hour “Kagadanan sa Banwaan ning mga Engkanto (Death in the Land of Encantos)” won the Golden Lion Special Mention award in the Horizons (Orizzonti) Documentary section of the Venice Film Festival on Saturday. The top prize went to “Wuyong (Useless)” by China’s Jia Zhangke. Diaz and Zhangke won against such name directors as Jonathan Demme and Julian Schnabel. Last year, renowned director Spike Lee won the award in this category for “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” “Long live Philippine Cinema!” Diaz proclaimed in his acceptance speech. “In spite of all the madness in this world, it’s still a nice place to live in. We still have cinema. We have the Venice Film Festival. I would like to thank all the people who worked so hard for this film for nine months.” Earlier, the cast and crew walked the red carpet. They were met by Venice Film Festival director Marco Muller who posed with them for pictures. Then he guided them inside the screening venue for the start of the “Encantos,” which was given the closing night honors. The new work of Mindanao-born Diaz, described in the festival website as “one of the astonishing new South East Asian auteurs,” bested entries by filmmakers from around the world, including name American filmmakers. Reviewing ‘Reming’ A mixture of documentary and fiction, “Encantos” tells the story of a fictional Filipino poet, Benjamin Agusan, who returns to his hometown in Padang, Bicol, in the aftermath of the destruction and tragedy wrought by Supertyphoon “Reming.” Agusan had spent several years in Russia on a scholarship grant. The jury of the Horizons (Orizzonti) Documentary section watched “Encantos” in two installments. Paolo Bertolin, who helped the festival by coordinating with Diaz, told the Inquirer that the jury’s screening for “Encantos” was held on Thursday evening and Friday morning. Diaz worked frantically to finish the film in time for the festival’s jury and public screenings. Diaz, Bertolin and the festival organizers heaved a collective sigh of relief when the “Encantos” tapes finally arrived on Tuesday. Sharing the film’s triumph in Venice with Diaz, who was also the cinematographer and editor, are production supervisor Laurel Peñaranda, production designer and actor Dante Perez, actors Roeder Camanag (who plays fictional poet, Benjamin Agusan), Perry Dizon (Teodoro) and Amalia Virtucio (albularya or quack doctor). Send-up to father Diaz acknowledged the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) for giving them travel grants and National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) executive director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez for helping secure the group’s visas and plane tickets. “Encantos” mixes documentary and fiction. In an e-mail interview, Diaz described his film and his main character, Agusan: “I created Benjamin with no particular Filipino artist or persona in mind. My subconscious merely flowed with all the threads that ended up with the lead character in the nine-hour film. But, Benjamin’s journey is familiar terrain for the aesthetic traveler -- the search for beauty, real love, redemption, and for answers that could push humanity to greater heights.” He added: “The Russian bit is a send-up to my late father, although he never went to Russia. Yes, I know how it feels to be alone in distant lands -- I know about solitude and sorrow, so I know Benjamin Agusan.” Asians rule Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s sexually explicit spy thriller “Lust, Caution” was the surprise winner of the top award at the Venice film festival, just two years after he won with “Brokeback Mountain.” The movie is a World War II thriller set in Shanghai featuring long and sometimes violent sex scenes Lee has hinted were real. The verdict means Asian directors have won the Golden Lion on the Lido waterfront for the past three years. The Silver Lion for best director went to US filmmaker Brian De Palma, whose “Redacted” shocked audiences with its brutal reconstruction of the real-life rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by American soldiers in 2006. Best actress, actor Todd Haynes, one of six US productions in competition, scooped a runner-up slot with “I’m Not There,” his conceptual biopic about singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. In a bold piece of casting, Australian-born Cate Blanchett was one of six performers to play the singer-poet Bob Dylan at various stages of his life, and it paid off when she was named best actress in Venice. Hollywood star Brad Pitt was the surprise winner of the best actor award for his portrayal of legendary outlaw Jesse James in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” With reports from Laurel Lee Peñaranda and Reuters
By Desiree Caluza Northern Luzon Bureau BAGUIO CITY, Philippines--The Baguio Centennial Commission will put up a museum at one of the heritage sites here to celebrate the city's 100th charter anniversary in 2009. The Diplomat Hotel was chosen as the location for the museum that will keep photographs and documents charting the growth of the city, said Michael Pearson, member of the centennial committee. He said they chose the abandoned hotel at Dominican Hill here because it offers a panoramic view of the city and is surrounded by trees. Virgilio Bautista, the committee chair, said the museum will showcase the beginnings of the mining industry that was introduced by the Americans in Benguet in the early 1900s. He said the centennial celebration and its related activities will also recognize the participation of foreign workers involved in the construction of Kennon Road, a major link of the city to the lowland provinces. The construction of Kennon Road, originally called Benguet Road, involved workers from almost 40 countries. Most of the workers, however, were Japanese, Americans and Filipinos, accounts show. Bautista said the commission is planning to trace the families of the Kennon Road workers so they could be recognized in the centennial celebration. He said the Japanese-Filipino community in Baguio would be asked to donate documents and memorabilia to the proposed museum. Pearson said they were evaluating books, photographs and documents issued or printed before the outbreak of World War II so these would be included in the museum. He said it was difficult to find pre-war materials, especially books, because most of these were destroyed or lost during the fighting and pillage of the 1940s. Bautista said the commission is preparing a coffee table book that will feature the history of the city and the people and institutions who contributed to the development of Baguio. He said 100 citizens, called "Baguio's 100," will be honored during the celebration for their roles in making Baguio what it is today. The commission and various civic groups and schools in the city have also started sprucing up parks and community gardens in time for the centennial.
By Fernan Gianan Inquirer VIRAC, Catanduanes--The capital town of the storm-tossed island-province of Catanduanes is home to a young inventor who holds the patent for a cost-saving construction material that is now being used by local contractors and home builders. Boxes of the prefabricated galvanized iron tie wire invented by 22-year-old Dexter Teope are being sold in hardware stores at P85 per kilo, saving construction companies or house owners more than 20 percent in labor costs. In fact, the Japanese contractor of the multimillion-peso Gogon bridge project has indicated interest in purchasing the prefab tie wires. What is now a promising business for Teope began as a worm of an idea when he was a 12-year-old Grade 6 student and playing at their neighbor’s house then being constructed. “I wondered why it took so long for a worker to cut and bend the tie wire when it could have been sold as a ready-made material,” he reveals. He kept the idea at the back of his mind for the next several years, graduating from the Catanduanes Colleges as a computer technician. He went to Makati City to work as a waiter at Shangri-la Hotel. After a year, Teope returned and began putting his ideas on paper -- some simple and others so complicated that it required many moving parts. In January 2005, he finally applied for a patent of his invention at the Intellectual Property Office, paying a total of P2, 500 in fees. On Nov. 18, 2006, he got Patent No. 2-2005-000060 for his prefabricated tie wire and began making a simple machine to make his product. He had already perfected a machine -- built from P300 worth of small pipes, bearings and tire spokes—in Manila when he ventured to a 35-story condominium being constructed on España Avenue. His sales pitch to the contractor worked so well that he was asked to deliver 10 tons of tie wire right then and there. Stunned by the offer, he regretfully told the buyer that he had only 10 kilos available. Still, he took as a great inspiration the contractor’s advice to him that he must come back if he already had 10 tons. Teope went back to Virac and had three more of the machines fabricated. He never went back to Manila to deliver the 10 tons; he decided to start small so he could see his business grow. Today, his GT Manufacturing employs five households in Barangay Rawis, with mothers and even disabled youth cutting tie wire to standard lengths while watching TV at night. At his parents’ house, Teope employs four machine operators and one packer, who altogether produce 140 kilos daily. Each box of 20 kilo-packs is sold for P75 per kilo to hardware stores, which sell them for P80 on retail. The inventor’s father Osias, 63, a retired school principal, says his son -- the middle of three children -- could have inherited his inventive streak from his grandfather Telesforo, who did not finish schooling but was good at mathematics. Among his other ideas -- about 80 in all and carefully drawn on paper -- are a seatbelt harness for tricycle drivers, a multicircuit connector to replace the junction box in electrical systems, and a head massager built from discarded electric fan covers.
By Tonette Orejas Inquirer CITY OF SAN FERNANDO--Kapampangans filled the San Agustin Church and its nearby museum in Intramuros, Manila, on the night of Aug. 24 to pay tribute to Augustinian missionaries who had sailed from there to Pampanga 435 years ago and influenced the natives’ character, culture and history. As they stood on the same grounds where some of those 100 friars lived and trained, they bridged the time, seeing past and present connections between Fray Juan Gallegos, who set foot in Lubao in 1572, and far, far, far down time when Fr. Eddie Panlilio, who finished theology at the St. Augustine Major Seminary, was elected governor in 2007. “Holy ground,” was how Dr. Arlyn Villanueva, president of the Holy Angel University, called the event’s venue. By the way the tribute and the celebration of continuing collaboration turned out, it was apparent the people wanted to remember the Augustinian fathers beyond their white robes and emblems of a flaming heart. Their “enduring legacies” are the Roman Catholic faith and values, heritage churches and architectural knowledge, schools and education initiatives, publications that chronicled the language and culture, ecclesiastical arts and culinary tradition, said San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto at the Mass he celebrated with Bishop Roberto Mallari and eight priests. Other legacies are the archival documents, the solidarity of friars with the faithful in times of wars, calamities and epidemics, the opening of roads, and their engineering attempts to provide irrigation to farmers. The extent of the Augustinians’ work and the breadth of their influence spoke of the fervor with which the pioneers lived out the dictum of their founder, St. Augustine, that “our hearts are restless until they rest in (God),” said Fray Francisco Musni, archivist and researcher of the HAU’s Center for Kapampangan Studies, which organized the tribute. Aniceto said the Archdiocese of San Fernando was “most profoundly grateful for the gift of faith” because it steeled the people in adverse times like Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 eruptions and the lahar flows that followed. That gift, he said, flourished because several Kapampangan, like Rufino Cardinal Santos, the first Filipino cardinal, became church pioneers themselves. In gratitude, the provincial board presented a copy of Resolution No. 945 to Fr. William Araña, OSA, vicar of the Orient of the Philippines, Augustinian Province, and to Alvaro Trejo, charge d’affaires of the Spanish Embassy. The resolution gives “due recognition and honor to the friar missionaries of the Calced Order of Saint Augustine for their pioneering efforts in Pampanga and for their role in the preservation of the culture.” That made Pampanga, the first and last Augustinian territory in Luzon until 1960, to be the “first province in the Philippines to officially thank the Spanish missionaries who labored in the country during colonial times,” said Robby Tantingco, the center’s executive director. One of the high points was the launch of the English translations of Fray Diego Bergaño’s two books, the “Arte de la Lengua Pampanga” (1729 Kapampangan Grammar) and the “Vocabulario de Pampango” (1732 Kapampangan Dictionary). Bergaño and his collaborator then, Don Juan Zuñiga of Mexico town, managed to reach out to the present through the translations of Fr. Edilberto Santos and Fr. Venancio Samson.
By Constantino Tejero Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--It’s the first of its kind: A diario novela; an unheard of convergence between the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the king of “komiks” himself, Carlo J. Caparas. “To Have and to Hold” starts September 3 and every day thereafter except Sundays. Its first strip is a grabber, with frames illustrated like a movie’s storyboard. As can be gleaned from its title, it is a love story. From the first few panels the reader can discern a Romeo-and-Juliet situation between lovers Arvin and Jennifer. Caparas says he is aware that his entering the Inquirer is seeking new readers, that is, aside from his mass-based built-in readership he has to reach new ones in the corporate world, the bureaucrats’ offices, the academe, even the politicians’ lairs. He says he had thought this over -- and so in his story he has business rivalries intermeshing with personal lives; scenes shuttling from “lansangan” (streets) to mall to corporate tower to Forbes Park; dialogues fluctuating between street Tagalog and straight English with Taglish in between. Yes, we can expect poverty and injustice to be tackled soon, but first and foremost, as Caparas insists, the komiks writer’s duty is to entertain. “To Have and to Hold” will run six days a week for six months in the Inquirer, after which Caparas will follow it with a new diario novela. (Running duration may be adjusted to readers’ demand, though. After all, “Pieta” and “Kahit Ako’y Lupa,” his two longest-running komiks novels, had to be extended to four years so that circulation wouldn’t dip.) When President Macapagal-Arroyo gave in February the Presidential Medals of Merit to the five pillars of komiks -- Tony Velasquez, Francisco V. Coching, Mars Ravelo, Larry Alcala and Caparas -- it was like laying wreaths on tombs, as four of these people had already died, and so had the komiks. People who grew up on it and have become busy adults do not realize that their favorite medium of entertainment, information and instruction as youngsters had long vanished from the cultural landscape. It was mostly blamed on the entrenchment of TV culture and the Internet. In its heyday, komiks was a billion-peso industry and was said to be even bigger than the movie industry. The two coexisted for decades as their relationship was often symbiotic. But with the coming of the so-called “alternative platforms” from which to access information and entertainment, there was no way for the komiks to go but out. From an average circulation of nearly 200,000 copies a week in 1984, with half of the 200 komiks making money, it dropped to 2,000 in 2004 with only one circulating, Atlas Publication’s Pilipino Komiks. That year, the lone survivor had to close. And it wasn’t the only ailing mass medium, either. Similar signs could be seen in newspapers which were also reeling from diminishing circulation. Newspapers have since been taking various innovative measures to sell copies, short of resorting to a buy-one-take-one promo. Some do tie-ups with hamburger chains, others sponsor celebrity events. The Inquirer, true to its corporate image (resolutely A-B and Upper C readership), goes to the root of the problem and tries to solve the twin evils of illiteracy and diminishing readership. One program being held in its premises is a series of reading sessions for kids, including street children and physically handicapped kids. It aims to cultivate a new generation of readers and make reading attractive again. The Inquirer also struck on a wild idea: To bring back readership and get a broader mass base, why not run komiks stories in the paper? What’s more, the two mass mediums would be helping each other. And so the Inquirer went to Caparas. After all, the guy has written over 800 novels and short stories for komiks, and some 100 screenplays many of which he himself directed. Last Tuesday, Caparas signed a contract to write for the nation’s No. 1 newspaper what is now called a “diario novela,” with art by Arnel A. Avetria. Caparas says a commissioner from the Komisyon ng Wika has asked him to revive the komiks as it can greatly help people learn the national language. In the caravan he is doing with wife Donna Villa in the provinces, where he gives lectures and workshops on komiks writing and illustrating, he has seen how people have wanted the komiks to return. Early this year, in a reunion of komiks writers, illustrators and various former employees of the defunct industry, he learned of the plight of his colleagues who lost their jobs. “Out of 10 people na kinumusta ko, eight had already died (Out of 10 people I asked about, eight had already died),” he recalls. The Inquirer venture may prove to be a blessing in disguise. It could all at once energize various industries and mediums -- komiks, newspaper and movie. “They go hand in hand,” says Caparas. The movie industry is clearly also on a decline. But with the revival of the komiks, who knows what source materials movie directors could find to activate their art, as it once did with people like Lino Brocka and Eddie Garcia? "May foothold ang nobela sa komiks bago ipagawa sa pelikula (Novels have a foothold in comics before they become movies),” says Caparas. He means a movie based on komiks would already have a built-in readership, which could then translate into a box-office hit. And a revived industry, of course, would generate jobs. After all, the komiks has not really died. It was just in a three-year coma.
By Vicente Labro Inquirer TOLOSA, Leyte--Elpedio Lagutan works in his small farm in Tolosa town in Leyte to support his family. But since early this year, he has been preoccupied with his new role as board chair of an organization that runs a coconut vinegar processing plant. Lagutan, 59, is actively involved in making natural vinegar -- gathering coconut sap, fermenting, pasteurizing, bottling and packaging it -- and marketing the product for extra income. “This project is a big help to us marginalized farmers and our families, because it provides us additional income and we can now buy some important things we need in our homes,” he said. His group, called the Local Initiatives for Rural Industry and Occupational Sustainability, is composed of 80 farmers with small rain-fed rice fields, tenants, farm laborers, mat weavers, vendors and even some jobless people. Together with more than 400 other poor farmers in the area, they supply the Tolosa Pure Vinegar Processing Plant with coconut sap. They earn more by working in the plant or through sales commissions. P2.5-M grant Their organization is a beneficiary of a P2.5-million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction-Sustainable Livelihood Projects for the Poor in Southern Philippines, through the Infrastructure for Rural productivity Enhancement Sector (InfRES) project of the Department of Agriculture. Of the amount, P2.17 million was earmarked for livelihood, P124,300 for training, and P217,507 for administration. The beneficiaries are taught coconut vinegar making, the right business attitude and skills like marketing, bookkeeping, monitoring and evaluation, and plant operations, health and safety. Chipping in about P600,000 in cash and kind for the project were the municipal government through Mayor Hilario Cadaan, the offices of Leyte Gov. Jericho Petilla and Rep. Remedios Petilla, and the Tools and Concepts for Community Development. Coconut vinegar making is the flagship product of Tolosa, in line with the government’s “One Town, One Product” program. The processing plant stands on a 1,000-square-meter lot surrounded by coconut trees in Barangay San Roque. It is about 300 meters away from the national highway. Its building has fermentation and pasteurization rooms, laboratory room, packaging room, stockroom and office. A waste-settling pond is found at the rear. The facility can produce 45 gallons of natural vinegar per day, said Fiorello Lirios, executive director of the Tools and Concepts for Community Development which made the feasibility study and submitted the proposal for the livelihood project to concerned agencies. Tolosa Farm Delights Its two products -- Pure Coconut Vinegar and Hot and Spicy Coconut Vinegar -- bear the brand Tolosa Farm Delights and are sold at P65 and P75. “What the plant produces is naturally fermented vinegar with 4.5-percent acidity,” said Lirios. His group has been providing the beneficiaries with technical and managerial assistance. At first, the plant used the traditional way of making vinegar, using big earthen or clay jars as containers. The Department of Science and Technology taught them how to use an acetator to make the vinegar clean and safe, and hasten production. Natural fermentation, which took 60 days to attain the 4.5-percent acidity, was reduced to only one day. Nine acetators were acquired, making the plant the biggest vinegar-making facility in Eastern Visayas today. “Our products are still natural because nothing has been added to the coconut sap, the raw material in coco vinegar making,” Lirios said. The Department of Trade and Industry also helped train beneficiaries in product development and in marketing through trade fairs. Lirios said the group was still looking for bulk buyers outside the region.

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