2 Sagada Blogs finalists in 2009 Philippine Blog Awards

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kudos to two Sagada blogs for being named as finalists for the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards nationwide categories. The SAGADA GENUINE GUIDES ASSOCIATION and the SAGADA LEMON PIE HOUSE were cited in the Best Travel and Best Business blog categories, respectively. The Philippine Blog Awards aims to recognize notable Filipino-owned blogs in their respective niches. The awards night were held at the PETA-PHINMA Theater in New Manila, Quezon City last October 9, 2009. Though the Sagada entries didn't get the biggest prize in their categories, I salute them for being included among the chosen few. I hope to see a Sagada blog win a category one day. Click this link for a complete list of the Philippine Blog Awards finalists.


Respecting the Landslide Victims

I've seen Facebook photo galleries of the landslide tragedies in Benguet and Mountain Province - particularly that of Little Kibungan and Tadian. The images were very graphic. I saw the faces of those who perished, a lot of them muddied but very recognizable. In one photo, I saw a dead child, very stiff and still in his pajamas being carried by 2 adults. In the same picture, I saw another adult, with his phone camera, most likely taking pictures of what's going on. This child has family and relatives - some of them surviving no doubt. I don't believe they would have wanted this particularly image to have been posted in social networking sites for all to see. Don't add more to the suffering of the victims. Do respect the landslide victims.


Sagada Pictures at Lawstude's Journeys

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I was viewing a list of recent Sagada blogs and was impressed with posts from Atty. Oman's blog. His latest Sagada photo gallery features Sagada Weekend Market images. Viewing those images were like a ratatouille moment for me. That's what our family refers when describing something very familiar that gives you a warm nostalgic feeling; very much like how the food critic in the movie felt when he had his first bite of the ratatouille dish. Definitely, those Sagada market images reminded me of the many Saturdays helping my mother and my grandma with those market chores. It was one of the tasks I didn't particularly like as a kid, but which I remembered with fondness as an adult. View more Sagada pictures at the Lawstude Journey blog.


Dozens Killed in Benguet, Mountain Province, Baguio landslides

Friday, October 9, 2009

Baguio LandslideI was checking the news early today and I'm deeply saddened to read that dozens of people have died in landslides impacting the Igorot provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, and Baguio. Benguet is the most affected with 120 deaths. Tadian in Mountain Province has suffered 23 deaths, and Baguio reported 25 deaths. The landslides were triggered by the weeklong rains brought about by Typhoon Parma. The Halsema highway that links Sagada and Baguio is closed. Related News Articles: Philippine mudslides, floods kill more than 160; Dozens Killed in Landslides in Philippines; Rain, floods in N. Philippines kill over 100; 51 bodies recovered in Benguet landslides Photo Credit: TimesOnline.co.uk


Sagada Redux - Part Deux

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

sagada persimmon pictureHere's a sequel to an earlier post of Sagada black and white pictures (See Sagada Redux - Sagada B&W Photos). Caesar Gonzales, a friend from high school took the photos during his recent Sagada visit last August 2009. He has informed me that he is planning another visit with a common friend also from high school. I'm envious that he got to visit Sagada more than I have in the past 2 years or so. His photographs are a good consolation though. They remind me of some black and white photos I acquired from a French photographer who visited Sagada in the 1980s. (See my previous posts: 1980s Sagada Images by a French Photographer - Part I & 1980s Sagada Images by a French Photographer - Part II). Enjoy the second batch of pictures below:


Woman in Philippines catches Oklahoma burglars through webcam

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Woman in Philippines catches Oklahoma Burglars through webcam
I read Yahoo's collection of Odd News once in awhile to look for interesting stories. A story caught my eye on how a Filipina, married to an American Air Force seargeant, was instrumental in catching 3 burglary suspects in Oklahoma city, even though she was in the Philippines. How did she do it? Through a webcam that she uses to communicate with her husband. Huling-huli sila. I'm re-posting the full text of this AP story:

Woman in Philippines cracks Oklahoma case

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – Police say three people who tried to rob a man's suburban Oklahoma City apartment were caught by his wife in the Philippines, who saw them on the webcam the couple uses to communicate while they're apart.

Midwest City police Chief Brandon Clabes says officers nabbed the three burglary suspects over the weekend after Maribel Chouinard spotted them and called her husband, an Air Force master sergeant at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.

The husband called police, who found two teens near the apartment and later found the third suspect.

Clabes says all three were identified from a photo lineup e-mailed to Chouinard in the Philippines.

Master Sgt. Jim Chouinard says he met his wife overseas and she's waiting for her visa to be processed.


To all Filipinos Everywhere, from a Concerned Pinay

Sunday, October 4, 2009

philippine flag @ sagada igorotI got the following letter forwarded through Sagada's St. Mary's School Alumni email group and thought it was an inspiring read to start the week. The letter is from a concerned Filipina and from its salutation, it is a plea to all Filipinos everywhere. Very well written - I couldn't help but nod in agreement while going through the letter. The only things I would add is to pray for (a) servant leaders who love GOD, the Philippines, and their neighbors as much as they love themselves to increase in numbers - I'm sure they exist though very rare; and (b) for current leaders to have a change of heart and become the servant leaders I described in (a). Here's the full letter:

To all Filipinos Everywhere:

I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn't true. It is one thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get any worse than this?

Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my tv to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not men. They are caricatures of men - too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these "honorable" crooks lambast each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and apalling that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at its worst!

I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like "Honorable", "Senator", "Justice", "General" and worse, "President". Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation – Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. Their motto? "Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich."

It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!

I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family's, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation's coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.

And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone's morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own "pag bad ka, lagot ka!" slogan.. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it's all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?

And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. "Love (of power) is blind" takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband's financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don't agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won't make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it..

But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it.

Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good. We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray, too, including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of our desperation in ridding our nation of these vermin. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!

I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion – right from the sandbox till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and pass on your family name with pride and honor.

I call on educators and teachers – we always underestimate the power of your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real, worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future – and it would be largely because of you, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.

I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see. But neither let this make you cynical, because we need your idealism and fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that gave you your ancestors and your heritage. Use technology and all available resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.

Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this country.. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. Do your utmost to excel in your chosen field.. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.

For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.

Remedios C. Paningbatan
Administrative Officer
Office of the General Counsel
Asian Development Bank
Tel (632) 632-4248


Typhoon Pepeng/Parma kills 12 in Benguet

typhoon pepengThe Cordillera province of Benguet suffered 12 deaths due to Typhoon Pepeng, internationally known as Parma. Provincial police director Chief Superintendent Loreto Espinili reported that the deaths were caused by 2 landslides. In the only article I can find on the typhoon's impact on Sagada, a resident describes that there were no evacuations and that it is "windy and raining, but it is not strong." Multiple roads in the Cordilleras were deemed impassable in the typhoon's aftermath.

Related Articles: Pepeng kills 15, Latest typhoon kills 16 in northern Philippines, Relief as Typhoon Parma veers course, 'Pepeng' renders roads in N. Luzon impassable. Photo Credit: Inquirer.net


BIBBAK Illinois, American Igorots raising funds for Ondoy victims

bibbak illinoisBIBBAK Illinois (see photo), in association with the American Igorot group, will be performing Igorot dances on stage at the local Asian Heritage Festival this Sunday. This is an effort to help raise relief funds under the American Red Cross for victims of Typhoon Ketsana. My family won't be there due to prior commitments, but we'll be praying for the success of the fund raising effort. Here's the full post from Rex Delson taken from the American Igorot Facebook page:

"As some of you know, the Philippines recently suffered from Typhoon Ketsana a few days ago (Sept 26th). Sadly, many of you may not even be aware of this because the American media’s coverage of this tragedy has been poor at best. In short, Ketsana blew across Luzon dumping a month’s worth of rain in just six hours and flooded most of Manila and its surrounding areas. More than 3 million people were affected by Ketsana and 676,235 are in evacuation centers not to mention the dozens that remain missing. To make matters worse, a category 4 typhoon (second strongest category), named “Parma”, is heading for Luzon and is expected to make landfall tomorrow morning.

While prayer is the best thing to do at this time, we can also do more. Two days ago, Anin Goldiwhil of Igorots @ Facebook group sent a message to all its members informing them of ways they can help. Unfortunately, we in America (and some of you elsewhere) are not able to help in those ways because of our distance. American Igorots can help by contributing to relief funds already going towards the victims of these disasters. People can do this through their churches, schools and relief organizations such as the American Red Cross.

American Igorots is encouraging all members to contact their local relief organizations to help in this cause. If you are a member of BIBAK in your area, ask the leaders to organize fund raisers. If they already have fund raisers going on for other purposes, ask them to divert those funds to help disaster victims. These are just a few ideas. I’m sure others can think of some other ways.

Since I have been a child here in America, I can always remember the generosity and family closeness of Igorots that I believe makes being an Igorot special. For this reason, American Igorots with the help of BIBBAK Illinois will attempt to raise relief funds under the American Red Cross name this Sunday at the local Asian Heritage Festival that BIBBAK Illinois is planning to perform their Igorot dances on stage in public. Let us know what other kinds of efforts are taking place throughout the different parts of the country by posting in the American Igorots discussion topic, “Ketsana & Parma Disaster Relief.”

Agyamanak ken ag aluad ka,
- R. Delson


Sagada Redux - Sagada B&W Photos

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sagada Picture 1I haven't blogged in awhile, and a nice way to start again is by posting some excellent black and white pictures of Sagada. The photos were taken by a friend from high school during his Aug 2009 Sagada trip. Topher, as we used to call him then, is from Baler, Aurora and has been one of the few individuals I would credit for keeping me sane during those crazy high school years. I'm no art / photo critic but having spent my early years in Sagada, I know when photos do justice to the beauty of my hometown. These group of photos capture Sagada in a unique yet familiar way it made me think of my childhood days all over again. Salamat, Topher. Gawi-gawis. Matago-tago ka! (Loosely translated - it means "Thanks Topher, very well done. May you live forever"). Hehehe. I'm definitely looking forward to more of his future Sagada pictures. Meanwhile, enjoy a sampling of them here:

Sagada Redux: Sagada Picture 1
Sagada Redux: Sagada Picture 2
Sagada Redux: Sagada Picture 3
Sagada Redux: Sagada Picture 4
Sagada Redux: Sagada Picture 5


Bagyong Ondoy: What it Didn't Drown

Friday, October 2, 2009

PHOTO: Cars a block away from where our apartment stood in Provident Village, Marikina.

We were at the newly bought house of friends, celebrating with them, when I first heard about the flooding in the Philippines. I didn’t mind it that much, until I saw the photos. And the videos – and the news articles too. That got my attention. And we’ve been glued to all the updates we could get back home on the aftermath of Bagyong Ondoy.

Many photo galleries in Yahoo and in Facebook, focused on one place – Provident Village in Marikina. That was where we used to live – in fact, until 2 months ago, a lot of our precious stuff were in an apartment that we rented in Provident Village. My wife asked her siblings to move these to Baguio July of this year. Thankfully, these were not swept in the flood.

We did hear a very harrowing story that pierced our hearts. Our househelp, who has stayed with us since Dec 2000 and who we consider as a close friend, was in the Marikina apartment when the flood waters came. She was with her baby daughter who was less than a year old. The flood waters started seeping into the apartment on Saturday morning. By 1pm, she, the baby and other neighbors somehow managed to climb to the roof and stayed there for the whole night of Saturday, until a friend of my brother-in-law was able to go through the flooded roads and get her and the baby on Sunday morning. I was numb after hearing that. I don’t have details whether they had an umbrella or whether they ate or drank anything while they were on the roof. Our only consolation was that they were in the roof with neighbors – at least, they weren’t alone. She hasn’t replied to any of our text messages yet, though we know she is now at a safe place. I wonder how adults could survive such an ordeal, let alone children and infants. We Filipinos, are really a tough bunch.

I read so many stories, many close to our hearts since it affected those we know. The houses of friends were affected by varying degrees of flooding. I’ve yet to hear from kumpares in Marikina and Pasig. An email I sent to their workplace accounts haven’t been answered yet – perhaps they still haven’t reported for work? I heard of an officemate whose house was fully submerged in flood waters. The sibling of a friend was not able to contact her family for 48 hours since her phone went dead and she couldn’t recharge it. They thought she was missing and even paged her through a TV show. Another friend and her family are staying at a hotel – they can’t reach their home due to the floods.

And of course, there were the stories of those who didn’t survive. People clinging to rooftops saw bodies floating around. That of a young man, an elderly woman with her arms wrapped around a young child, a mother and her five children – it’s simply overwhelming.

For every calamity though, there are also the brave and unselfish acts that bring warmth to the soul. I was pleasantly surprised to recognize the name of a high school batch mate on one newspaper article – her hubby used a kayak he had never ridden before to help rescue strangers at the risk of losing his life. (Read Man loses belongings to save lives). I also saw friends from our church back home being very active in relief efforts. Tomorrow, a friend from Chicago is driving from house to house collecting clothes that her relatives will be sending through to the Philippines.

On our short stay in this life, calamities like Bagyong Ondoy come and go. I don’t hope any such calamity on anyone, but I know these calamities are there to help us realize what our priorities are. It is people and relationships that count. Floods may drown the most expensive cars and houses, but it can never drown the people’s hopes, or their abilities to help and love one another.


Chicago Loses 2016 Olympic Bid

Sayang! Chicago didn’t win the right to host the Olympics on 2016. If we were going to stay here until then, our family would have volunteered for the Games. Anyway, it’s also good that Rio de Janiero won the bid so the continent of South America will have its 1st chance to host the Olympics. Furthermore, the US hosted 2 of the last 7 Olympic Games – with the universal nature of the games, it’s just right to have others take turns in hosting it.

Brazil doesn’t require Philippine citizens to have visas to enter their country. This bodes well for our countrymen hoping to visit the 2016 Olympic Games. US citizens need visas to go to Brazil though.

In a statement, Chicago’s Mayor Daley indicated that Chicago will not bid for the next Olympic Games in 2020. The host cities tend to rotate around the world. The next 2 Olympic Games may likely go to a European city / an Asian city / maybe even an African city. Realistically, the next summer Olympic Games to be hosted in the US would be on 2028.

Here are the 2016 Olympics voting results:

2016 Olympics 1st Round Vote Results:

Madrid = 28
Rio = 26
Tokyo = 22
Chicago = 18

2016 Olympics 2nd Round Vote Results:

Rio = 46
Madrid = 29
Tokyo = 20

2016 Olympics 3rd Round Vote Results:

Rio = 66
Madrid = 32