Bullying: An Issue in Sagada and Elsewhere

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lori Drew, a 49-year old Missouri mother was accused of cyberbullying a 13-year old neighbor that apparently led to the teenager's suicide. Drew reportedly targeted the teen after the girl had a falling out with Drew's daughter, and she set out to "embarrass her, to humiliate her, to make fun of her and to hurt her". She created a dummy MySpace account for a teenage boy and pretended to befriend the teenage girl and eventually broke up with her through an email. The teen was so distraught by what happened that she eventually hanged herself. See the full story on 'Cyber Bully' Mom Cleared Of Felony In MySpace Suicide Case.

This is such a sad case for both parties. You now have a dead teenager, and a mother who is going to jail for her actions. Two families are severely impacted by this bullying incident. What I cannot imagine is the hatred that existed in Lori Drew's mind. How can a mother do such a thing to another's child?

In the broader context, bullying - whether virtual or physical is a challenge for the children being bullied. As a student attending Bomabanga (Sagada Central School), I was also bullied by at least 3 boys who were much older and bigger than me. I was terrified meeting them on the school grounds, and as an adult, I can even remember the hurting taunts they'd tell when they see me. I was blessed to have had a loving family who raised me in an environment where my self-worth was not determined by what bullies thought. And later on, I learned to forgive these bullies. I was wise enough to acknowledge that I cannot control what others think, but I can control how I react to circumstances. Eventually, I would meet these bullies in the streets of Sagada when I was older. I'd greet them and smile at them as if nothing ever happened.

But that's me, and I'm blessed. There are other bullied children out there like the teen who created suicide and who may have allowed bullies to determine their self-worth. It is a common issue in schools and something that should be addressed by those in authority - whether this be in Sagada or in Missouri.


Building my Igorot BlogRoll

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I've had this blog for more than six months now but I still just have a few blogs in my blogroll. While I'm tempted to go over Bill Bilig's blog and copy his list of Igorot blogs, I decided to go the long route and enjoy the process of actually reading a blog before listing it here.

I've come across several interesting blogs written by Igorots. There is the fellow Igorot from Liverpool, UK who has written multiple encouraging comments on my posts. Kasta man kailyan - I'll never tire of these. This guy goes by the pen name "Manny, Manwer, Manwell "; very unique if I may say so. He has a photoblog and a blog for poems; the blog names are equally poetic. Check them out at Summer Breeze and Mildsummer Showers.

Kayni of Hawaii posted a note on my "Remembering Auntie Rhoda" post saying that we may be related. It doesn't happen often that you find relatives through your blogs. Its another example on how the Internet is making the world so small. She has her reflections documented in kayni's corner cafe.

Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yangot's recent posts are on her trip with her daughter to Disneyland - HK. Her daughter's name, Gawani, is as Igorot as it can get. She did say that sometimes, "I am a busy person and she (the daughter) has to fit into my schedule". Ay, ay pay sa. Hope your grandparents don't get mad at you for such "busy-ness", hehe. Is she perhaps related to my friend Dina D? She blogs at Beauty Beyond Beauty.


Increased Site Traffic, Most Expensive Coffee, Remote Town ATM, Rich Nurse

Friday, November 21, 2008

1. My fledgling site traffic suddenly went up by 2x the daily average after posting my second bloggables post on the "motit", Igorot bloggers and Sagada Hospital website. I was baffled by this, and checking my Sitemeter statistics, I noticed that most of the traffic was coming from emails. If any of my dear visitors can just leave a comment and tell me how they learned of this post just hours after I published it, I would really appreciate it. My Google Adsense earnings for today just increased by five times the normal average that I get.

2. I did some digging on the most expensive coffee in the world and found out that indeed, it is due to the motit or civet cat. Apparently, the motit partially digest coffee cherries and upon excretion, the beans are collected, cleaned, and roasted. The internal digestion is said to add a special flavor to the beans and these are sold for enjoyment at the price of $600/pound - that's around $50/cup, 10 times more expensive that Starbucks. I thought it's disgusting, but I guess if you're a true coffee drinker, nothing will stop you from trying this brew.

3. There's a comment in the Lakwatsero website that indicates there is no ATM in Sagada as recently as May 2008. That has changed earlier this week with the installation of an ATM at the Rural Bank of Sagada. Encash, the ATM network uses the Megalink group and has 38 rural banks and two nonbank financial institutions for its client base. This is definitely good news to all Sagada travelers.

4. Finally, I remember a story of an Igorot nurse who one time took hours to go back to the of relatives she was staying with, since she had to walk from her school. She comes from a poor family in Sagada and didn't have any money for jeepney fare. Eventually, her determination persevered and she migrated to the United States as a nurse. Now, she has her own huge house, and drives a couple of luxury cars - a great testament that hard work and perseverance do pay off.


Bloggables 002 - Of "motit", Igorot bloggers, and the Sagada Hospital website

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My second list of bloggables - items in the Web that either features Sagada and the Igorots, or are works by fellow Igorots. Refer to Bloggables 001.

Photo Credit: Alamid Coffee at Squidoo

Motit’ excites Cordillera coffee lovers. Learn how the “motit”, Kankana-ey term for the Philippine civet cat (Paradoxurus philippinensis) is exciting coffee growers across the Cordilleras. There are lots of motits in Sagada and as a child, I’ve seen them eating coffee at our neighbors garden. They eat coffee cherries and later excrete these as feces. When cleaned and processed, Forbes magazine has described this coffee as the rarest and most expensive in the world. Read more…

Sagada Hospital Website: An anonymous commenter left a URL that pointed to the Saint Theodore’s Hospital website. This is a pleasant surprise. I didn’t even know it existed and judging from the articles, it’s just been newly set-up. It has a lot of articles on therapeutic cancer and detoxification and I might just want to read on these as my wife and I are trying to improve our diet. Lastly, it was a bonus to see familiar faces amongst the staff. I recognized Janice, the sister of a ka-barkada, and the high school teacher of my sisters. Visit SagadaHospital.com.

IGOROT BLOGGERS: Three Igorot bloggers deserve some attention – (1) Martin Polichay is an Igorot from Australia and writes on an igorot journey. (2) Vicente Sapguian previews the work of Leon Lonogan – “The Sun Sets at Sunrise: The Rise of the Agawa Tribe” in his blog, from greatman. (3) A young Igorot academic scholar in California writes on President JFK and General MacArthur’s “Igorot” comments at Allan’s Blog.

Sagada / Igorot News Briefs:

1. “President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has Igorot blood on her hands…” says an activist as the House of Representatives probe the disappearance of Cordillera People’s Alliance founding member, James Balao. Read more…
2. BusinessMirror reports that an ATM unit has been installed in Sagada. Read More…
3. The exhibit “Sagada: Mountain Reflections” is available for viewing at the Crucible Gallery, fourth floor of SM Megamall A, Mandaluyong City. Read more…
4. Singaporean adventurer and world record holder, Khoo Swee Chiow, visited Sagada and remarked “I would definitely go back and bring my family here”. Read more…

Sagada Photo-blogs:
1. My Sagada Adventure by mel
2. Sagada’s Hanging Coffins and Exotic Caves by the “Bride around the Corner”. Is the groom waiting by the corner? Hehehe…
3. Sagada: A Perfect Example of Ecotourism by fellow Sagada blogger and friend, Irene.
4. Food Tripping in Sagada by happyfoodies.com

Site Redesign: Lastly, I’m going to change the look of this site in the coming days. I appreciate your continued support and please continue to provide comments and feedback on my posts. What is a blogger without readers? Have a nice weekend!


Memories on 2nd Visit to Versailles, France

Saturday, November 15, 2008

(Above: This Igorot blogger amidst the thousands of fountains at the Château de Versailles)

I visited France more than a dozen times between 2001 and 2004. It was on business trips for a client which was the leader mondial de la distribution de matériel électrique (leading distributor worldwide of electrical supplies). I was the European IT application manager of their warehouse system, and I was bouncing around France, Portugal, Germany, and the UK.

One of my favorite tourist stops was Versailles, the former center of power for the kingdom of France. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris and to this day remains an important administrative and judicial center. This city is world-famous because of the Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles). It is the biggest palace in Europe designed and built in the 17th century. Abandoned after the French revolution, the palace has undergone a series of re-construction funded by the French government and American foundations. It has been identified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The fountains and the gardens are my favorites. It would take more than a couple of days to fully tour and enjoy the grounds. My second visit to the palace was with high school friends and it was during late spring - a perfect time to fully enjoy the place as the flowers and trees are in full bloom. We saw plenty of families having picnics and going on bicycle rides.

Sharing some of the pictures from that visit:

Entrance to the château, with a statue of the Sun King… King Louie XIV
The Grand Trianon, a pink marble mansion where the king once dallied with sweet young ladies (not his wife) provides a beautiful photo opportunity for this French couple
A well trimmed garden near an artificial lake.
The flowers are all in full bloom on the right wing of the chateau.
No better way to enjoy a day of sightseeing than settling down to enjoy superb French cooking.


An Igorot in Chicago reflects on Barack Obama

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

(Photos taken from Chicago Tribune)

I was in Dallas, TX during the fall of 2004. It was my first foreign assignment in the US. I witnessed the debates between John Kerry and incumbent President George Bush. I remember that the state of Ohio proved to be the sole battleground state and that it was a closely contested race. At the back of my memory during that campaign season was a photo of a beaming Illinois senator with his family that headlined a local newspaper. I don't remember much about that story, except that he delivered a keynote speech at a convention. That was the first time I saw and heard of a man named Barrack Obama.

Fast forward to spring of 2008. I'm back in the United States and this time with my family. We were residing at a northwestern suburb of metro Chicago. My wife and I were closely following the Democratic primaries and the heated contest between Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama. Somehow, I was cheering for Mr. Obama as he went on to win a string of states that eventually led to his being selected as the Democrat Party's presidential candidate.

Then came his acceptance speech which we watched from start to finish. To say that the guy can talk is an understatement. HE CAN HYPNOTIZE. In the 3 presidential debates, his eloquence allowed him to state his stand strongly, clearly, and almost effortlessly. It is not difficult to be charmed by this guy. He possesses youth, talent, charisma, and projected the ability of handling pressure effortlessly. He always looked cool. It looked like he was really destined to become this nation's president.

On election night, I came home from work and immediately switched on the TV. Soon, Obama carried pivotal states that were supposed to be close contests - Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia. It was turning out to be a rout. At 11pm CST, the polls closed in the West Coast and without a single ballot being counted, the networks projected BARACK OBAMA as the elected 44th president of the Unites States of America.

It was late and it was way past our boys' bedtime but I wanted them to watch his victory speech. Its not too often that one shares the same metro city as the president-elect. Thousands of people have gathered at Grant Park, a mere 30-minute drive away to celebrate his victory. Had my kids been older, we would also have trekked downtown to witness and be a part of this historical moment.

Ah, "historical". It's been 7 days since he won, and the word "historical" has been repeated a billion times to describe his victory. Amongst others, the phrase "first black president" keeps cropping up. Beyond his skin color, Obama has a very white background having been raised by a white mother and white grandparents. I don't know the statistics but he can easily be the most international president in terms of origin. Born in Hawaii, he has lived in Indonesia, and has visited relatives in Kenya as a youth.

For me, Obama is the epitome of an American dream. Born in a middle-class working family, he has told stories of how his mother studied with him at 4 in the morning just so he can get ahead in his studies. He went to top universities such as Columbia and Harvard and excelled at those schools. He was a community leader and an Illinois senator. He couldn't have accomplished much just by being normal - no sir, though he's talented, I bet that it his work ethics, self discipline and motivation that makes him who he is. On top of it all, he is married to an equally over-achieving lady, who happens to the descendant of slaves; and they have kids who aren't allowed to whine and receive paltry allowances amounting to $1/week. It's almost unreal.

Had I been allowed to vote, I wouldn't have voted for him though. I do not agree with him regarding his pro-choice stance and tax plan. I'll probably benefit from his tax plan next year but I don't think its the best for the economy. Yes, 95% of all the people would benefit, but the employers who employ the people? They're going to be hit in a manner that can substantially curtail their growth and affect their ability to employ. With regards to his pro-choice stand, I heard him explain in an interview with Pastor Rick Warren that he doesn't believe that life begins at conception. I wonder what he believes then, but for me, this is a fundamental issue that should never be negotiated.

Lastly, I've been tasked to hire employees before, and I take into consideration both experience and potential. The presidential election is like the process of hiring an employee, except that this is no ordinary job - it is the most important job in perhaps, the whole world. Despite Obama's talent and potential, it is too risky to have someone too untested to decide on options that will impact the lives of billions.

And yet, the elections are over and Barack Obama is the president-elect. My pre-election views have changed over the course of a week. I now think that though Obama may not have been the better candidate, he definitely has the potential to be the greater president. As a Christian, I am commanded by Scripture to pray for my leaders. As a resident alien here in the US, Barack Obama is my leader too, and so I shall be praying for him.


blog of the SaGaDa-iGoRoT wins Wk 133 & Wk 134 - Filipino Blog of the Week

Saturday, November 8, 2008

11/15/2008 Update:
Thank you once again, dear readers, for helping this blog win the Filipino Blog of the Week - Week 134. Because of 2 straight wins, this blog has been elevated to the HALL OF FAME. Woo-hoo! I truly appreciate all the support that has been extended.

Here're the results for Week 134:

Week 134 - Total votes cast: 255
Criteria: voting(55%) + judges(35%) + me(10%)
Winner (sagada-igorot): 94.40%
2nd place (planetputoniyods): 81.90%
3rd place (toofeel): 49.34%

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

My heartfelt appreciation to all who voted and helped make this blog the winner of Filipino Blog of the Week - Week 133. I think my site will continue being nominated as long as it gets to be in the top 5 most voted blogs for the next three weeks. Amateur bloggers like me are encouraged that some readers out there actually visit my blog and read my posts. On top of that, to learn that people go the distance and vote for my blog at another website? That's a thrill. A huge thanks to the Composed Gentleman blog. Click on the logo to learn more about the contest.

Here're the results as posted in the above blog:

Week 133 - Total votes cast: 164
Criteria: voting(55%) + judges(35%) + me(10%)
Winner (sagada-igorot): 92.20%
2nd place (shengysdelight): 57.11%
3rd place (haze-unplugged): 49.52%

I'm still nominated for Week 134 Filipino Blog of the Week. Please keep on voting for this blog. Thank you for your continued support.


All Saint's Day in Sagada

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

(Photo courtesy of Ironwulf.net)

Sagada has a very unique way of celebrating All Saints Day and this is due to the atypical location of its cemetery. Sagada’s central cemetery is part of the Anglican Mission Compound, and located above the St. Mary’s School, St. Mary the Virgin Church and the rectory. The cemetery is not in a flattened area. In fact, the tombs are scattered along the slope of a hill going up to the selected site for Calvary . One takes a winding upward path from the church to reach the place. (It is also the place where I’ve seen my first and only ghost but that is a different blog post altogether.)

While most Filipinos bring candles to light at the tombs of their loved ones on All Saint’s Day, Sagada locals would prepare bundles of wood and “saeng“. (I can’t translate this right now but suffice to say that it is a type of pine wood that combusts easily). Candles are of little use against the wind in the Sagada cemetery, so the people build bonfires instead.

A vivid childhood memory I have is the sight of dozens of bonfires lighting up the slope of the mountain where the cemetery is. Add to this the thick columns of smoke going up from the fires and the arrival of dusk, and it probably would look like a scene from a horror movie. The environment however, is far from gloomy. Children roam around happily, and parents watch that they don’t cause any damage. Relatives of those buried in tombs with limestone epitaphs advise those building bonfires to make these at safe distances to avoid damaging the stones. A drunken man may be seen visiting the resting places of his buddies, pouring a bit of San Miguel over the bonfires and thus allowing the alcohol to further strengthen the flames. There’s the occasional shout or two that can either be a warm greeting or a warning of some kind. Fire, after all, is something that can easily spread if not watched closely.

I do use candles on these occasions and as I’ve seen my mom do, I visit the tombs of relatives and friends and light a candle or add a piece of wood if there’s a fire that’s already burning. Lighting a candle is a challenge in the windy conditions – it is normal to put the candle inside a bottle or hide it against a wall so the wind cannot get to it. My dad’s tomb is at the upper part of the cemetery, and is separated from where my paternal grandparents were buried. It is however, adjacent to where my maternal grandparents have been laid.

I normally visit the tomb of a cousin who died as a teenager before I was born– his family resides in Tabuk, Kalinga and there is no one to visit his resting place during this time of the year. I rarely find it unlighted though, there’s most likely a candle that’s already there, or a small bonfire that’s burning. This would have been an act of kindness by a town-mate who probably was passing by and seeing the tomb un-attended, cared enough to light a fire.

It’s been a long time since I spent All Saints Day in Sagada. The bonfires I’ve seen in past years however still burn brightly in my mind.