Wake Up, Philippines!

Albay bags ‘Galing Pook’ for disaster management

Posted in Disaster/Calamity by Erineus on February 16, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – For its pioneering initiatives in disaster risk management, the province of Albay leads 10 of this year’s recipients of the Galing Pook Award for outstanding local governance program.

Albay’s official entry, the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), was recognized as one of the best practices in disaster risk management.

The award was conferred by the Galing Pook Foundation, which promotes innovation, sustainability, citizen empowerment and excellence in local governance.

As the country’s first successful institutional disaster management office, Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said APSEMO is his province’s contribution to disaster risk reduction strategies consistent with the United Nations’ Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA).

The Galing Pook Award comes on the heels of a special citation given to Albay for its Local Capacity Inventive Mechanism (LoCIM) for good governance conferred by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Dutch Development Agency, SNV.

Salceda will receive the award from President Arroyo in Malacañang today.

As the technical and administrative arm of Albay’s Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council, APSEMO utilizes local governance to plan and implement disaster risk reduction programs.

Due to the proactive stance, there were “zero casualties” recorded in Albay despite several super typhoons and volcanic eruptions that hit the province from 1995 to 2005.

Created in 1994, APSEMO is a separate and distinct body within the provincial government of Albay. Among its lean staff of 20 are designated disaster specialists by type of hazard to ensure continuous and effective delivery of local government initiatives.

Updated February 12, 2009 12:00 AM

Philippine Veterans Bank updates history panels at Lingayen Veterans Park

Posted in Cultural Heritage, DOT, History, PHI, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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MANILA, Philippines – As part of the 64th anniversary of the Lingayen Gulf Landing, Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) in partnership with the Pangasinan Provincial Government and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines updated the history panels of the Veterans Memorial Park located at the Pangasinan Capitol Grounds, Lingayen. The new feature was inaugurated during the Lingayen Landing event led by Gov. Amado Espino Jr. (rightmost) The National Historical Institute (NHI), represented by deputy executive director Emelita Almosara, supervised the updating of the historical panels.

The new panels, 12 in all, contain photographs and maps about the Lingayen Landing and other World War II vintage photographs mostly featuring various locations in Pangasinan such as Dagupan, San Fabian and others.

Updated February 13, 2009 12:00 AM

Kasalang Filipino joins San Pablo Coco Festival

Posted in Celebrations, DOT, Tourism, Wedding by Erineus on February 16, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — Laguna’s best wedding suppliers showcased their products and services during the Kasalang San Pablo wedding fair and exhibit, the first leg of Kasalang Filipino 2009, a 12-city wedding fair road show held last Jan. 12 – 14, 2009 at the Pamana Hall in San Pablo City, Laguna.

City Administrator and Coco Festival 2009 over-all chairman Loreto Ambem Amante, Laguna Provincial Planning Coordinator Valentin Guidote, Mutya ng San Pablo 2009 Glennifer Perido, Lakan ng San Pablo 2009 Joseph Brul, celebrity stylist James Cooper, and Kasal.com head Mathel Ong were present during the ribbon cutting ceremony to formally declare the opening of the three-day wedding fair and exhibit.

During the afternoon of the first day, 11 local make-up artists showcased their skills in Ever Bilena’s Gandang Pinay Bridal Make-up competition. Each contestant was given an hour to make up their model brides. Their works were judged by Ever Bilena (EB) marketing manager Onin Mas, EB Brand Manager Mozhgan Amaranto, EB make-up artist Ana Abainza, and James Cooper.

The work of Ferdie Santos on model-bride Diane Joyce Ramirez won the grand prize. Make-up done by M.C. Rasaoa, on model-bride Mica Villamondo, and Eys Vergara, on Alyanna Marie Amad, were awarded as first and second runner-up, respectively. Santos received a trophy, one-year Gold Listing in Kasal.com’s Wedding Resource, P20,000 worth of cosmetics from Ever Bilena, and will be featured in the company’s various ad campaigns.

On the third day, during the Coconut Cookfest, 100 Barangay Nutrition Schools of San Pablo City demonstrated their culinary expertise in using coconut as ingredient in three categories: main course, appetizer, and dessert. Del Remedio District won Best Appetizer and Best in Costume. Ambray District cooked the Best Main Course and Sto. Angle District made the Best Dessert.

The wedding fair was concluded with a fashion show in front of the old City Hall building, showcasing the works of San Pablo’s leading bridal couturiers.

“Through this, (the Coco Festival and Kasalang San Pablo) and with the support of the media, we hope to inform everyone what San Pablo has to offer,” Amante said.

Kasalang San Pablo wedding fair and exhibit is one of the official activities of San Pablo Coco Festival 2009. It started in 1995 as a way of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and to showcase the locally made coconut-based handicrafts, decors, and food products like copra, coco lumber, coco coir, doormats, linens, accessories, virgin coconut oil, bottled macapuno, bottled nata de coco (processed ‘cream of coconut’), and buko (coconut) pie.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Alamat ng maindayog na musika at natatanging kultura ng San Pablo, bayan ng tangi at unang ermitanyo” (The Legend of the Rhythmic Music and Unique Culture of San Pablo: town of the first and only Hermit).

The Coco Festival coincides with the Feast day of the patron saint of the province, Saint Paul, the First Hermit.

Updated February 01, 2009 07:22 AM

Honesty Café: Only in Batanes

Posted in Cafe, DOT, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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More than a cup of honesty: Honesty Café in Ivana, Batanes is a little store that provides refreshments to townfolk and travelers in the area. Anybody who enters the café can get food and drinks and drop whatever payment they feel like in a basket.

I went to Batanes for the first time after getting an invitation from a friend who was going there with her son. I decided that it was a good opportunity for me to go, and take my son along. Whatever I had heard previously about Batanes did not do justice to its beauty, as well as the goodness of its people, which I experienced during my trip. People there are content and do not live their lives preoccupied with thoughts of natural calamities — the events that, sadly, make Batanes familiar to us. Their homes are made of limestone which is naturally porous and resistant to earthquakes and typhoons. More importantly, every house is an architectural sight that makes one feel how much love and patience was put into the construction. I was amazed to hear about the community’s housing cooperatives. The neighbors help one another build homes for their families.

Batanes may be isolated, but it is no doubt a successful community where interdependence is the norm. The pervading culture dictates that it is a privilege to help and be helped, and almost an insult to receive payment.

While biking in one town called Ivana on the main island of Batan, I got fascinated with a relatively popular yet inconspicuous fixture — The Honesty Café. This little store was started by Aling Elena, a retired teacher who decided to provide refreshments to townfolk and travelers in the area. Anybody who enters the cafe can get food and drinks and drop whatever payment they feel like in a basket. While the items are tagged, the store is not manned. Some people drop their payment, others don’t. But it’s all okay with Aling Elena; her ultimate profit is the chance to awaken her customers’ consciousness to honesty and responsibility and to teach them to live these lessons in the other areas of their lives.

Together with her husband Jose, she toils the fields and takes pride in being a farmer. In her daily labor of love she prays, “God, please help me with my crops so I may share them with others.” As Elena and Jose talk about their 50th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day next year, it’s as though their celebration is already happening, every day. Their life together reinforces simple values: what you plant, you eat; what you sow, you reap; everything is abundant; everybody sees beauty.

I was overwhelmed by the simple and profound lessons of life that are the day-today experiences of the people of Batanes. Life is about thanksgiving, with Sundays being strictly for church service. To many of them, sharing their lives with one another and sincerely helping is the only way to prosper.

As I looked out at the fields, beaches and mountains of Batanes, talked to Aling Elena, Mang Jose and their community, I became more convinced that in simplicity lies majesty. Nature, when respected and nurtured, can provide us with everything that we need to live abundantly.

This is my experience of Batanes and its people. Life that is lived fully will lead us to knowing who we are and becoming what we are made to be. Giving starts with one person. It starts with one home. One woman prepares food with love. One man takes pride in his labor. One traveler pays the right amount. One child learns to share. A neighbor gives unconditional assistance. Everybody does the same. And we get blessed with a community called Batan in an island simply known as Batanes.

View previous articles from this author.

By Rose Anne Belmonte
Updated January 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Iriga City celebrates Tinagba Festival

Posted in Celebrations, DOT, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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The festival is an ancient Bicol first harvest offering that features a caravan of gaily-decorated bull carts/motorized floats

MANILA, Philippines –  Iriga City in Bicol will come alive as the city celebrates its annual Tinagba Festival which started Feb. 5 and ends tomorrow, Feb. 11. Tinagba Festival is an ancient Bicol first harvest offering that features a caravan of gaily-decorated bull carts/motorized floats. It also features revelers in mardi gras and native costumes who dance and parade around the city.

Iriga Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen and the Irigueños are preparing for this big celebration. Highlight of this week-long festival is a spectacular street parade competition tomorrow which coincides with the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The festival will transform Iriga City Park into a Science and Technology Park. Various activities are also lined up such as acrobatics, animalandia, quiz show, film showing, technodance expo, wall climbing and science exhibit.

Iriga City is a fast growing urban center in the Bicol Peninsula which offers breathtaking natural wonders, a safe community and the warm company of kind, creative people. It is known as the City of Crystal Clear Springs with more than 30 natural springs spread everywhere in this booming city. It is also famous for its most prominent natural landmark, the majestic Mt. Iriga that offers a captivating view of the Bicol River basin area.

The city’s other major activities this year include the annual Miss Iriga, Miss Rinconada and Miss Tourism Pageant and the Charter Foundation Anniversary.

Mayor Alfelor-Gazmen and the Irigueños invite everyone to visit Iriga City to celebrate the festivities and experience the hospitality, honesty, and warmth that Irigueños are known for.

Updated February 10, 2009 12:00 AM

Getting high on Dinagyang

Posted in Celebrations, DOT, Feast/Solemnities, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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Iloilo City With its slogan On Higher Ground, this year’s Dinagyang Festival ended on a happy note. Local and foreign tourists who flocked to this western part of the Visayas are still “feeling high” from the various activities held in celebration of the feast of Sto. Niño. Ilonggos, too, enjoyed the fanfare including GMA’s free show dubbed as Dinagyang Kapuso Night that drew an enormous crowd at the Freedom Grandstand.

Local artists like Pinoy Idol finalist and true-blue Ilongga Sue Ellen, Istayl Naton! hosts Angelia Ong, John Arceo, Mamo Monyika and Dino Vasquez entertained the crowd with song numbers and antics that added glee to the night.

Back stage, Sue Ellen relates that she has now fully recovered from the heavy blow that struck her and her family. She considers the flood waters and fire incidents — that left them homeless months ago — as part of “those trying times.”

“Since the lot is not originally ours, we decided to rent an apartment instead,” says Sue, who returned to Iloilo and continues her studies at Central Philippine University taking up Education after her Pinoy Idol stint.

“Life is much easier here but I still perform in Manila once in a while. I did a show with Ogie Alcasid (and Ramiele Malubay) last month,” she continues. “And of course, I sing on occasion like this as a Kapuso. But more often, I sing here with the church ministry. I really enjoy singing.” So does the crowd who applauded her energetic number Please Don’t Stop the Music.

Various games made every Kapuso’s spirit soar high. And as the night grew livelier, rain started to fall heavily, yet it was not enough to spoil the evening fun and excitement.

All — young and old — stood still, seemingly unmindful of any health problem the rain may bring. They shrieked in excitement, stomped their feet with joy and clapped their hands the hardest when Luna Mystika stars Heart Evangelista and Mark Anthony Fernandez appeared and performed one after the other on the makeshift wooden stage.

“This happens rarely (to see celebrities in person) so we might as well enjoy the moment even if it’s raining,” an Ilonggo fan says.

Mark, while singing Nandito Ako under a wide umbrella, gave away shirts to the jampacked crowd.

Ayos ba kayo diyan?,” he asked with concern. The audience, in turn, responded with delight.

It was Mark’s third time to join Dinagyang. This time, Mark thanked everyone for the warm welcome and invited the audience to continue supporting Kapuso shows especially Luna Mystika where he plays Dexter, the love interest of Heart’s Celestina.

Heart, on the other hand, was touched to see Ilonggos soaking wet all throughout the show. She greeted them pleasantly and belted out a song accompanied by a band. The heavy downpour also didn’t stop her from going up on stage even if she has just recovered from sickness. Heart, too, at one point, tried to keep the umbrella away to interact well with the crowd but failed because she might be electrocuted from the microphone she was holding.

“I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for all the support and please don’t fail to watch Luna Mystika,” Heart says.

As the Kapuso Night ended, happiness vividly reflected on everybody’s faces. The Ilonggos’ warm welcome, in turn, conveyed a feeling as intense as the pounding of the drums we often hear come Dinagyang time.

View previous articles from this author.

By Bot Glorioso
Updated January 30, 2009 12:00 AM

Dinagyang: A dance offering

Posted in Celebrations, Feast/Solemnities, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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Tribo Molave exhibits their heartfelt devotion to Señor Sto. Niño as they perform before a crowd of thousands.

For Ilonggos participating in the annual Dinagyang Festival, it’s not just another day of street dancing. The long-held tradition is an opportunity to show their devotion.

The economic pinch nearly prevented many tribes from taking part in the festivities this year. But they could not just abandon what their fathers and grandfathers had been doing for decades.

This year, Smart Communications Inc. helped three tribes to continue the tradition. The leading wireless services company sponsored the Atub-Atub, Molave, and Pana-ad, the leading groups in last year’s festival.

Smart also sponsored the Kasadyahan Festival and the staging of concerts like the Kapamilya Caravan at the Freedom Grandstand and Rock ‘Til u Drop at the Boardwalk Leisure Area.

“It’s hard to finance a group of street dancers for Dinagyang, especially in these tough times,” says Jaimer Canlas, operation manager of Tribo Molave. 

Finding the time to rehearse alone can be quite challenging, as each member has to eke out a living. Most members are out-of-school youth, tricycle drivers, pier porters, and blue-collar workers.

They persevere, however, because being in the tribe is not only an outlet for creative expression but also an opportunity to spend time in prayer and devotion.

This year, their dance is also a form of thanksgiving, as the province of Iloilo has recovered from the devastation caused by typhoon “Frank” in July last year. The Ilonggos are smiling once again, the streets full of gaiety and hope.

This year’s performances reflect the Filipino’s indomitable spirit, says Joaquin Santiago Jr., operation manager of Tribo Atub-Atub. Their theme is “helping each other after the disaster of the storm.” The idea is to show how Ilonggos move on from kalisod (sadness) to kalipay (happiness).

Tribo Molave worked around the theme of harvest. “After the storm, the land yields the harvest for the people; in our performance’s case, the ati,” Canlas says.

Consistent winners, the three tribes nonetheless remain true to the real meaning of their dance offering.

“This year, we focused on our devotion, not on the competition, so win or lose, we are happy just expressing our gratitude to Señor Sto. Niño,” Santiago says. Tribo Atub-Atub took home a special award, Best in Discipline.

And it’s no competition, really. The tribe members are friends, with the same purpose — to keep their heritage and culture alive. It is this that makes their street dancing truly meaningful.

Updated February 08, 2009 12:00 AM