Sagada Sumaging Cave has Seashells Imprints

Friday, May 29, 2009

sagada sumaging shell pictureI found this recent, very clear photo of Sagada shell fossils in Sumaging Cave at the TrekNature galleries. I've seen these imprints while I was in the cave more than a decade ago. It's supposed to be proof that Sagada, with its vast network of limestone caves was once underwater many thousands or millions of years ago. I'm not sure if they're fossils though - or they're actual shells. This particular picture is amazing in clarity because the ones pointed to me before were high up in a wall, and with only the Petromax light, I couldn't see the imprints very clearly. Visit this TrekNature gallery for a higher resolution view of the image.


Swine Flu in Baguio and In our Office

Swine Flu in Baguio CityManila Bulletin reports that a male adult has been confirmed to be infected with the Influenza A (H1N1) flu virus in Baguio City, bringing the total confirmed cases in the Philippines to 7. Dr. Myrna Cabotaje, DoH-Cordillera Administrative Region regional director, said the latest confirmed patient with H1N1 virus is now doing fine although he is still being closely monitored by doctors. Eight others from two provinces in the Cordillera are suspected of having the virus and are under close medical supervision. In the US, Wisconsin and Texas overtake Illinois as the states with the most H1N1 flu cases. 3 Fridays ago, an email circulated in the building I worked that an unnamed colleague in the same building was confirmed to have the H1N1 virus. We were informed that we can work from home that afternoon and I took up the offer. Business resumed as usual the next week. It's been 3 weeks and I have no update if our colleague got well or not. I don't even know his/her identity.
Related Links: US H1N1 Flu Situation Update; One more flu patient confirmed in Baguio


Charice Pempengco's Rising Star; Kris Allen beats Adam Lambert

Friday, May 22, 2009

Charice Pempengco Sings A NOTE TO GOD, Kris Allen beats Adam LambertKris Allen won. Woo-hoo! Not that I was strongly for him, I supported Danny Gokey this season. Kris is my second choice. And though I appreciate Adam Lambert’s talent, I don’t dig his screaming. Come on. Kris Allen’s voice may be less spectacular, but it's very solid, it’s not over the top, and it’s pleasing to the ear drums. Adam Lambert should learn from the Philippine’s own Charice Pempengco – she hits the high notes well, but no, she doesn’t scream. She sings them.

I have not followed American Idol this season as I did the past 2 years. The kids have AWANA classes on Tuesday evenings, and we had Bible studies on Wednesdays. I was limited to watching video replays of the contestant’s performances. I liked Danny Gokey’s singing – but even his performances weren’t as impressive as my previous favorites – David Cook and Melinda Doolittle. When he didn’t make the finals, I rooted for Kris Allen because he was more in the same genre as Danny Gokey.

I’ve read some articles after Kris Allen beat Adam Lambert – every single one of them is saying it was an upset. I suppose that’s what reality shows are all about, you’ll never know who the viewing audience will support. There’re speculations that Kris Allen won because he picked up the votes from Danny Gokey’s supporters. Or, that Adam Lambert is perceived to be gay and that America still is not ready to make a guy who wears eyeliners win in its most successful TV show. I think there’s just too much thought and analysis being done over the outcome. To me, there were only 2 contestants left, and the American viewers found Kris Allen more appealing. I’m not really surprised with that. Note too that AMERICAN IDOL is a popularity contest, you can be the most talented but someone is more popular. C'est la vie.

On the Philippine / international music front, our fellow Pinoy Charice Pempengco recently graced Oprah for the ump-teenth time in which she sang A NOTE TO GOD. My wife and I watched with interest when she first performed for American viewers and are very heartened to know that she's building up on her success. Truth be told, the Philippines hasn’t had a star I could remember that had Charice’s talent and potential. Not that I care too much about stars anyway – it’s just that Charice looks to break into super stardom that no Filipino has ever done in the music industry. The buzz around local stars like Martin Nievera, Pops Fernandez, Regine Velasquez, my favorite Gary Valenciano, and even internationally acclaimed Tony award winner Lea Salonga, all pale in comparison to the interest that Charice is generating. In the show, Oprah has said that Charice is working on an album that will be released later this year. I'm sure a lot of kabayans will be waiting for that.

Here's the link to Charice's recent performance in Oprah's show.


May 2009 Sagada Blog Highlights

Saturday, May 16, 2009

sagada photos and videos, sagada blogsMy Sagada blog watch this first half of May produced 5 exceptional posts by Sagada visitors. The posts came with multiple photos, and on some, there were video clips as well. Kudos to these visitors. They probably don't know how their posts help cure my Sagada homesickness. On to my list in no particular order: (1) Baguio Dispatches (2) Blue Nomadic (3) Let's Go Sago (4) Facing the Sunshine (5) Out of Town Blog. The photo in this blog post is screen captured from the Out and About in Sagada gallery.


Video: Baguio bans Candy Pangilinan over Igorot joke

candy pangilinan banned from baguio due to igorot joke videoI found a Youtube video on ABS-CBN's story regarding the banning of Candy Pangilinan by the Baguio City council. My take: individual Igorots need to forgive Candy Pangilinan for her mistake. It is useless and a total waste of energy not to do so. However, let those in authority do their job in ensuring such a mistake does not happen again, and if it does, it is met with dire consequences. It should not just end with Candy Pangilinan, else the lesson will never be learned. I don't doubt her sincerity. I still cling to the hope that after everything's been said and done, Candy Pangilinan will come out a better person than before. I hope the same for my fellow Igorots. Video Link: Baguio bans Candy Pangilinan over Igorot joke


Candy Pangilinan is "PERSONA NON GRATA"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Baguio bans Pangilinan due to Igorot jokeABS-CBN News reported today that the Baguio City council declared Candy Pangilinan “persona non grata” by a majority vote. This arose due to her much-maligned “Tao po ako, hindi po ako Igorot” remark that she uttered during a pre-Mother’s Day show last weekend. It means that the comedienne is now considered unwelcome or unwanted in the Philippines summer capital. The council also banned Pangilinan’s movies from being shown in the city’s theaters. Almost all Baguio councilors approved the motion passed by Greg Bagbagen, an Igorot councilor. Only Galo Weygan, also an Igorot councilor, abstained from voting.

Is the measure too strict considering that Candy Pangilinan has apologized multiple times for her mistake? I don’t think so. It is the council’s job to protect and promote the welfare of the city. One just need to check the online forums and the multiple blog comments to understand what hurt the Igorot community has collectively felt in the wake of Pangilinan’s comments. Is the hurt caused by oversensitivity? I don’t think so too. Some parties will probably never understand it – especially those who are non-Igorots, and have never in their life felt how it is to be Igorot and be looked down upon.

Somehow, the strong action by the council and the media hype that this whole affair has generated will surely have an impact on the Philippine populace. A blog visitor has left the following comment on my previous post and I quote – “People should start to stand up and shout foul when they hear discriminatory remarks and jokes such as this. This "tao po ako hindi igorot" has been used many times over in comedy bars, and there was no line delivery mistake - it was in fact, exactly the punchline!” It is no secret that the word “Igorot” is ignorantly attributed to negative traits and is used repeatedly for demeaning jokes to this day. If we think about it, we Filipinos can also be a funny lot. We stood and protested when a dictionary defined “Filipina” as a “maid”; or when some Hollywood actresses uttered insults against the Philippines and its people. But it seems to be acceptable if we look down on our fellow kababayans.

Going back to the ban, it would be interesting to know if the ban is indefinite, or if there is actually an end date to it. I am not sure if there is a precedent of this happening to a showbiz person. Apparently, the last person to have been declared "persona non grata" by the city council was Mailed Molina. Molina, a former Cordillera People's Liberation Army leader, led fellow rebels marching into Baguio bearing firearms. So now, Candy Pangilinan joins Molina in an exclusive list of those being banned by the Baguio City council. While the latter committed an act that endangered the lives of people, the comedienne uttered a line that implied Igorots were not humans. Which do you think is the greater offense?

Related Story: Baguio bans Pangilinan due to Igorot joke


Candy Pangilinan's "Tao po ako, hindi po ako Igorot" Remark

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I was checking my "igorot" blog alert when I noticed a post titled "my apologies". I quickly opened the link which led me to Candy Pangilinan's apology to the Igorot people on her Multiply blog. Upon checking other sources, I learned that Ms. Pangilinan, a comedienne, uttered an ignorant "Tao po ako, hindi po ako Igorot" (I'm a human being, I'm not an Igorot) remark on her pre-Mother's Day show in Baguio City.

I'm ignorant myself on most Filipino showbiz personalities so I don't know this comedienne. A close friend from my Pisay and UP-Diliman days, a non-Igorot, emailed me about the incident and that she was disappointed with the comedienne's remark. My friend also said that she expected more from Ms. Pangilinan than the average showbiz person. I gathered from her email that this comedienne is also a graduate from UP, as she commented that "kulang pa rin ang edukasyong nakukuha ng mga tao sa UP".

I don't have to hear how Ms. Pangilinan delivered the line to know how outrageous it was. Judging from the reactions of those who have heard it directly during the show, it wasn't funny at all. In a Baguio City online forum, readers have expressed their anger at the remark. This is also true for some members of an Igorot mailing group I belong to. But I didn't feel the same sentiments because I read Ms. Pangilinan's apology first, before I learned more information about the incident.

I admire her efforts to try and correct the mistake she has done. Her written apology, which she admitted to have edited multiple times, doesn't hide the fact that she made a mistake, and that she was disappointed at herself for being irresponsible. No sugarcoating, no excuses, just a humble apology and a plea for understanding. I also learned from different sources that she immediately apologized before the show ended, and she has aired her apology on nationwide TV as well.

I'm sure fellow Igorots may not feel the same sentiments as I do, and I don't blame them. Some of the comments I see show deep resentment for Ms. Pangilinan. I wouldn't want to be on her shoes at this time. I do hope that she really has learned her lesson. As a professional who makes her living out of entertaining people, the first thing that she should NOT do is to antagonize her audience. She should also be thankful that the consequence of her mistake so far is just being toasted in cyberspace. Had it happened in other places, eggs, tomatoes, or even stones would have been thrown at her had she made a comment of similar impact. Or, possibly even worse.

Though the normal reaction for such a mistake is to get hurt by it, I urge fellow Igorots to go beyond the normal reaction and get over this incident. The person made a mistake, and has apologized for it. Whether she's sincere or not is already between her and God. It's fine to express outrage over the matter, and to highlight it so other people can learn from it. But once the lesson is learned, it is time to move on.

As I was thinking about this post, it dawned on me that I am guilty of making such remarks as well. The other day during lunchtime, a colleague jibed me for emphasizing that a fellow employee's inefficiency is due to her race. The point is, we all make mistakes as Ms. Pangilinan does. The only difference is that Ms. Pangilinan is a paid public performer, and I'm not. At least she got to apologize - I still have not.

I suppose I’m in such a forgiving mode since we just had a Bible Study at our place with a topic on “loving others fervently”. Hahaha. In the bigger scheme of things, there may well be a silver lining to this incident. I don’t intend to trivialize the emotions of those who got hurt by Ms. Pangilinan’s remark. But I strongly believe that educating other people is the only way to stop Igorot bashing of any kind. The attention her mistake has generated will make others more aware of who the Igorots are. We’re not the ugly, uncivilized, dirty, ignorant, dumb animals that others think we are. We’re normal Filipinos, deserving of anyone’s respect as the other person.

Related Links: Candy Pangilinan's Apology | Baguio City Online Forum; Image Source:


Tribute to a Sagada Lady

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tribute to a Sagada LadyMy wife's grandmother grew up and raised her children in Sagada. She died at a hospital in Baguio last week, on May 7. My wife was able to talk to her on her last moments in the hospital. She will not be able to go home to the Philippines to attend the wake due to a couple of constraints. She shared her baya-o (eulogy) for her lola at their clan's email group. That got forwarded to another Sagada email group, and somehow, it got back to us. Talk about being viral. I've added some notes in parenthesis to translate Kankana-ey words. Here's what my wife wrote:

*** *** ***

My earliest memory of Lola Lucia was when we were still in Tadian. Everytime I got sick, I would request for her and she would come from Sagada. I don't know, but her mere presence just made me feel better. Maybe because she always had a festive mood. She always had a cheerful attitude. She shared many, many stories with me and my siblings.

I will never forget how she would lovingly and tightly squeeze my arms as if to tell me "this is how much I love you." I cannot recall my lola wearing a sad face. She always smiled and showed how happy she was to be with her ap-os (grandchildren).

Lola Lucia was a woman of strong faith. She chose not to worry for her children. Instead, she prayed and prayed for them and never gave up hope.

When I learned that she has already left us, I cried so much. Not because she was gone, after all, she lived a full life of 84 years. I regret that I didn’t return her generosity and her love in recent years. Lola Lucia had always been there for me but I don’t think I was always there for her.

As I reflect on her life, I think about how friendly she was. She greeted everyone with a ready smile, and with words of encouragement. She was not a rich woman, but I’ve seen how she gave to others who were more in need. She was always humble, always thankful; I never heard any complaint from her. I’ve also never heard her get angry as she was always kind and gentle, always full of love. This is a gift I want to learn from her; especially as I am now a mother and a wife.

My sons may not have seen her as much as their cousins have, but they will remember her. In fact, they know that one of the prayers they sing every night was taught by my lola Lucia. It goes like this,

"Jesus, bantayam dakami (Jesus, please watch over us)
Isnan maseseypan mi (During our slumber)
Ta nu magido kami (So when we wake up)
Wada kas nan nemnem mi. (You will be in our thoughts.)"

I trust the Lord that He gladly welcomed Lola Lucia in His kingdom. I once shared the gospel to her and she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Maybe, that's the reason why, in spite of her life here on earth, she was never seen with a sad face, maybe all that time, she was just hopeful, that someday, she will be in paradise, where life is much better and happier.

Lola Lucia, I will forever cherish you in my heart. I am grateful for all the wonderful memories and the many lessons I learned from you. I will miss your tight hugs, your warm smile and your encouraging words. Till we meet again. I love you so much.

Image Source:


Manny Pacquiao in Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

manny pacquiao time 100 most influential @ sagada igorotAlright, this will be my last post on Manny Pacquiao for the time being. This blog is not to become a boxing fan site. Nevertheless, I am very impressed having seen Pacquiao included in Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. He of the Jinkee tattoo and all, is mentioned in the same league as Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, Rick Warren, Oprah Winfrey, Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods. Lennox Lewis, a former world heavyweight champion did the write-up on Pacquiao under Time's list of influential Heroes and Icons. Who was the last Filipino to be included in this list?

Other accolades I came across on Pacquiao today: "Manny Pacquiao proved that he is not just the greatest pound-for-pound boxer in the world today, he is also one of the greatest to have laced a pair of gloves" - UK's Times Online | "You are going to be the greatest fighter who ever lived" - Bob Arum to Manny Pacquaio. Not a bad compliment from a man who also promoted Muhammad Ali. Source: The New Zealand Herald


Mayweather vs Pacquiao?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Yahoo Sports headlines Manny Pacquiao under the banner "Six-minute Storm". As a sub story, Floyd Mayweather indicated in an interview that he's still the pound-for-pound king. Read Here. Will there be a Pacquiao - Mayweather dream fight in the future? It's highly possible. Mayweather will have a lot to prove against the Filipino champion. It took him 22 rounds to finish Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya. Pacquiao took out those 2 opponents via knockouts in just 11 rounds.


Manny Pacquiao Wins via 2nd Round KO

pacquiao beats patton, 2nd rnd KO @ sagada igorotI watched the bout via The grainy images were not so good, but enough for me to know that Pacquiao scored a couple of knockdowns in the first round, and won by flooring Ricky Hatton of the United Kingdom in the second round. (Screen capture on the left shows Hatton being treated while on the canvass.) VERY WELL DONE, Manny Pacquiao. Filipinos here in Chicago have something to cheer about after the Chicago Bull's heartbreaking loss to the Boston Celtics earlier tonight.

Related News: Manny Pacquiao defeats Ricky Hatton via 2nd round TKO | Pacquiao flattens Hatton in second round | Pacquiao Shocks Hatton With KO In Second Round | Updated GOOGLE News on Manny Pacquiao |


Turned 33, and Much Ado about the Swine Flu, er H1N1 Virus

birthday greeting at sagada igorotI turned 33 earlier this week, and its probably a week that I'll not forget in a long time. It is the week of the swine flu, or as not to insult our piggy friends, we'll refer to it as the H1N1 virus. Many thanks to a lot of people; my wife who cooked a couple of wonderful dishes and baked a calorie-laden treat; my kids who made my day special as they always do (see crafts in photo); colleagues who treated me to a nice lunch; friends and relatives who called, emailed, and sent greetings through Friendster or Facebook. Of course, to a loving Creator who loves me so much, that He was willing to pay for the penalty of my sins as I could never ever do it on my own accord. It is a week to mark my turning a year older - it is also a week of great thanksgiving.

As I told my a friend as we were heading out for lunch, it is the end of the 1st third of my life. That means I intend to live until 99 years old. The "intend" part is great, the "doing" piece is the challenge. Genes are on my side though - all my grandparents lived to their late 70s and beyond. That despite my paternal grandfather having a heart condition, and my paternal grandmother having asthma that she unwillingly passed to me. My dad however, died prematurely at 48. He was a jolly man who had a great appetite for life and for food. Sadly though, his love for food caused him to have a skewed BMI that led to an early fatal cardiac arrest. Right now, I'm doing my best to keep my body mass index lower - I need to lose 20 pounds more to get back to the normal range. Not easy to do, mind you. But again, it's all part of the "doing".

Such reflections always keep me busy during my birthdays. This week's news on the H1N1 virus kept me alert and tuned in to the online news. You see, the virus is a great reminder of our own mortality. The day of my birthday, the US had its first H1N1 death - a Mexican toddler visiting Texas. The same day, an elementary school closed in Chicago, followed by a couple more schools elsewhere in the state. I was watching the news while working out and a neighbor who was in the same gym looked at me and rolled his eyes - it's bound to happen, he remarked, referring to the arrival of the virus in our state. There's 35,000 annual deaths in the US due to regular flu, and there are a quarter of a million hospitalizations. To have one confirmed case in a metropolitan of almost 4 million is normal. The numbers are in fact, bound to go up.

I remember the SARS scare earlier in this decade. I was doing the Manila - Paris route regularly during that time. I loved Cathay Pacific so much (really - great service and frequent flyer miles program) that I stuck to them rather than try another airline. That meant I had to pass by Hong Kong each time. Not a problem. I had my mask purchased at a Manila drug store, and plenty of ascorbic acid - the generic type. Here I was, a husband and dad to a young wife and 2 very young children - passing through a death zone, and having no fear at all. Then again, what were the odds of getting the virus? HKIA at that time would have been one of the cleanest places in the world, what with the regular scrubbing and disinfecting of the airport by the vigilant Chinese. There was a particular perk too, the planes were never a quarter full that even in the cabin, I could stretch out my legs, occupy five or six seats, and doze off while actually lying down. Who needed first class?

As of this writing, the H1N1 virus has landed in Asia with the first case being that of a Mexican tourist arriving sick in Hong Kong. It's probably the best place in Asia where it can happen. Hong Kong's efficiency is unparalleled given their prior experience and their resources. True enough, a hotel with 300+ guests was quarantined, and the 250+ passengers and crew that used the same plane as the Mexican tourist were contacted immediately. Even the taxi drivers that drove the tourist from the airport to the hotel were located. Much ado about nothing? I don't think so. Prevention is better than cure, and with Hong Kong's proximity to our beloved country, who knows how many Filipino lives would be spared due to Hong Kong's vigilance?

On Thursday evening, my wife and I were playing a form of charades with our 2 younger children when I felt a lump in my throat and general body weakening. I went to bed having chills, and woke up the next morning not feeling a 100% well. I tried to work from home but somehow, the remote connection at the client site wasn't working. I couldn't call in sick - had a couple of can't miss deadlines so I went to work. I managed to finish the day, but felt more sick later in the evening. I was coughing and sneezing as well. I couldn't join the family at the dinner table, and missed a planned visit to the pool with the boys.

This morning, I went looking for a mask at Walgreens. I had to drive my wife and the kids to some activities, and had to at least prevent them from catching whatever virus I had. I looked for 10 minutes around the store for a mask. I could have gone another 10 minutes searching, but I decided to use my common sense and ask the clerk instead. I was informed that mask supplies were pulled out from all Walgreens stores in anticipation of a huge demand due to the current H1N1 virus situation.

I couldn't believe it! What if I had the H1N1 virus and was passing it out to everyone I'm in contact with just because I didn't have a mask? Or, what if I had the normal flu, and was going to pass them to my family because I didn't have a mask, and their resistance would go down? And what if our bodies encountered the H1N1 virus while our resistance were down? I guess it made no sense ranting at the store clerk so I just picked a box of over-the-counter flu relief medication, and a bag of spicy Mexican chicharon and drove back home. A question was slowly raised in my mind after I consumed more than half of the chicharon. What if the chicharon had some H1N1 virus in it? Aaah, the curse of a flu-weakened mind.

So, here I am, a few days into my 34th year with flu-like symptoms and nourished with a couple hundred of chicaron calories. I'll be limiting my exposure to the kids during this weekend, and might even miss that Pacquaio match at a friend's place later this evening. It's not the way I envisioned my birthday weekend to be but hey, it could be much worse. I'll take it with gladness and joy in my heart.

Do join me as I sing this song - Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday dear Sagada Igorot, Happy Birthday to me!


Millions of Filipinos to Cheer for Pacquiao

Friday, May 1, 2009

pacquiao @ sagada igorot Moments after reading that a Filipina mom in New York was a $12M gold thief, I noticed that Yahoo Sports featured a Filipino champion in its front page. Boxing's undisputed pound-for-pound king, Manny Pacquiao, takes center stage in an HBO Pay-Per-View bout Saturday at the sold-out MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. The accompanying story tells of his quest to match history - if he wins the fight, he’ll tie Oscar De La Hoya as the only other boxer to win recognized world championships in six weight classes. Pacquiao fights Ricky Hatton of the United Kingdom for supremacy at 140 pounds. Hatton holds the IBO super lightweight belt and is recognized by Ring Magazine as its champion. I'll be joining a group of friends this Saturday evening to share some food and watch the bout on TV. I'm sure millions of Filipinos around the world will also be doing the same. News Links: Pacquaio chases history; Pacquiao a Filipino Uniter


New York's $12M gold thief is a Filipina

sagada igorot gold thiefI was reading Yahoo's most popular stories this afternoon when I saw a story of a New York lady who stole more than 500 pounds of gold worth $12 million from her work over a period of 6 years. Then I noticed her name - Teresa Tambunting. I immediately knew she was a Filipina. Isn't there a popular pawnshop in the Philippines bearing the Tambunting name? I confirmed this by googling her name and finding two stories that did confirm her being a kabayan. Tambunting, a mother of 3, works as a vault manager at an upscale New York jewelry shop and is married to a lawyer from a prestigious law firm. She was apparently released on a $100,000 bail earlier this week. Her possible defense? An obsessive compulsive disorder.

News Links: ABS-CBN News; Radio Pinoy USA Video: CBS2 Video Library