Wednesday, June 17, 2009

HUDHUD HI ALMARIO (June 15, 2009)

Last June 7, National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario, also known as the poet Rio Alma, gave a free lecture on Reklamasyon sa Pambansang Gunita before the aspiring fellows of Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) at the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) New Building in University of the Philippines in Diliman.
It was just a week after he retired as CAL dean and received with open arms his successor in singer/choir conductor Dr. Elena Mirano from the Arts Studies Department.
Now, Rio Alma is back with vengeance and a 183-page book entitled Huling Hudhud Ng Sanlibong Pagbabalik at Paglimot Para sa Filipinas Kong Mahal (2009) published by C&E Publishing Inc.!
Within its 81/2 ” x 11” frame, his triptych fits perfectly not only his tribute to heroism!
First to Aliguyon, as Rio Alma's First Voice.
A representation of our precolonial past or what Rio Alma would consider as Sinauna't taal na kamulatan, Aliguyon becomes Almario, or vice versa, strategizing for both his vision and mission:
Hudhud is more than just a song with 200 stories divided into 40 episodes.
As an outstanding Southeast Asian Cultural Piece, it was declared by the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as one of the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on May 18, 2001, six years after UNESCO included our Ifugao rice terraces in the World Heritage List in 1995.
Rio Alma is one with hudhud scholars like Prof. Ruby Rosa Ayalde Jimenez who wrote in her article Malayyo Ngayawan-Beyer’s Hudhud Tagtagen ad Namugong: A Narrative of Its Makings in De La Salle University's Ideya: Journal of the Humanities : “But, unless Filipinos themselves appreciate its worth, not only in preserving Ifugao ethnicity,but also in building our national identity, efforts to document it, are flawed, tarnished, and pointless.”
Next to Dr. Jose Rizal, or his Second Voice, that would best stand for the Konstelasyon ng mga kaisipang liberal at demokratiko.
Beyond his being the first and only Filipino and Asian among the great Spanish and Latin American writers anthologized in the The Oxford Companion to Spanish Literature (1978), Rizal is elevated by Rio Alma into the god-like level through his songs of praise -- “Ngayong Sabado sa Banaue” (p. 20), “Portada ng Puerto Princesa” (p. 30), “Pagdalaw sa Dambanang Lapu-lapu” (p. 40), “Eden Nature Park” (p. 51), “Ang Hawla ni Alex” (p. 62), “Tatlong Dambana sa Batac” (p. 71), “Panonood sa Sinulog” (p. 81), “Paghahanap kay Julia Campbell” (p. 94), “Umaga sa Malolos” (p. 105), “Isang Resolusyong Pangkagipitan” (p. 121), “Cagsaua, Pagkaraan ni ‘Reming’” (p. 133), “Gallera Ivatan” (p. 144), “Intramuros ng mga Lungsod” (p.152), hanggang “Sa Kanto ng Claveria at San Pedro” (p. 165).
Last but not least to his secret Third Voice.
To this day, it is for Rio Alma to know and for us to find out who -- on Rizal's 148th birthday to be celebrated via the launch his Huling Hudhud Ng Sanlibong Pagbabalik at Paglimot Para sa Filipinas Kong Mahal (2009) with no less than the U.P. President, Dr. Emerlinda Roman, as the guest of honor, and Grace Nono, as the featured artist.
Together with the book is another book Ang Hudhud ni Rio Alma: Panunuring Pampanitikan edited by Romulo Baquiran Jr. with criticisms by himself, Roberto Anonuevo, Niles Breis, Michael Coroza, and yours truly.
As early as 1 p.m. they will offer a seminar called Mga Epiko at Mga Katutubong Tula sa Filipinas conducted by Rio Alma himself, all under one roof, at the C&E Publishing Inc. Information and Resource Center at 1616 Quezon Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City!
Speaking of offerings, the Creative Entertainment Guild in cooperation with Tourism Office of Quezon Province gives its event of the season dubbed Modelo de Turismo on June 21. 6 p.m., at the Queen Margarette Hotel in Lucena City featuring the collections of top designers like Patis Tesoro, Randy Ortiz, Rholand Roxas, Matche Matienzo, Christopher Quejano, to name a few. “Modelo de Turismo,” celebrity manager Arnold Vegrafiya said, “ is a cultural antidote to the poison created by the negated publicity caused by political, economic, and social problems the province is facing.No wonder it gains full support from Ever Bilena, Tesda, Globe, Pillar Plants & Antiques, Holistic Gym, Placenta, Bench, and MardioNadera Photography, among others.” “The show promotes not only Tagalog but Filipino heritage, in general,” added Hon. Alona Obispo, Board Member and tourism,culture and arts committee chairperson, “by highlighting the natural resources God gave to the longest province in the country.” Modelo de Turismo is produced by Gerry Canales and organized and directed by Ferdie Nadera for the benefit of tourism in the province.
In 2007, Year of the Chicken, bird flu pandemic devastated parts of Asia. In 2008, Year of the Horse, equine influenxa decimated Australian racing. In 2009, Year of the Pig, swine flu has killed of pigs around the globe. It might get worse next year. What could possibly go wrong during the Year of the Cock?
The way others treat you when you are there is something to be considered. But the way they respect you when you are not around is much more important.

TAYO NA SA MAKILING (June 08, 2009)

Again, all roads led to the Philippine High School for the Arts last May 19-22.
Gifted tweeners and teenagers, all 119 of them, were invited to take part but 99 sent back their Reply Form.
By May 18, only 73 were physically present in the biggest arts event in Mt. Makiling, Laguna.
Twelve are creative writers, eight are ballet dancers, sixteen are folk dancers, eleven are musicians, nine are theater artists, and seventeen are visual artists from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
For four days, they lived the life of reality television contestants.
“No, this is not Bahay ni Tata,” PHSA Director Fernando “Nanding” Josef explained, “but Tayo na sa Makiling or the second phase of adjudication activities for PHSA scholarship hopefuls after more than a 100 participants were screened during the 2009 Annual Nationwide Search for Young Arts Scholars (ANSYAS) held in sixteen Regional Audition Centers (RAC).”
It is a first.
In PHSA history, it is only recently that it is able to offer unique type of training program facilitated by PHSA’s resident teachers like Cecilia Martinez (Psychoeducational), Victor Ursabia (Classical Ballet), Emma Izon (Filipino Language), Marza Palentino (English Language), Ernestina de Guzman (Theater Arts), Frances Niduaza (Music), Karla Diño (Music ), Gerardo Leonardo (Visual Arts), Marc Vincent Cosico (Visual Arts), Robert Stephen Biadoma (Philippine Folk Dance), and Victor Flor (Philippine Folk Dance), to name a few.
We, as guest artist/educator, conducted workshops, or should we say playshops, in poetry and prose that were graded!
Aside from further assessing skills (or proficiency in at least three literary genres; excellent command of English and Filipino; wide vocabulary), their motivation (or the enthusiasm, focus, and perseverance) as well as creativity (or expressiveness, originality, fluency, and flexibility) were measured through such writing.
There were sessions, too, on time management, study and library skills, dormitory living, nature walks, and talks on such topics as Psychology of Artistically Gifted Filipino Children by Dr Erlinda Camara.
At the end of the day, the main aim of Tayo na sa Makiling is to identify the most eligible aspirants who are entitled to full Special Secondary Education scholarship for the School Year 2009-2010 which includes, free dormitory accommodation, free meals, and a monthly stipend.
On the other hand, those who will not qualify will be placed in the Waitlist Category as probable replacements for those who will eventually decide not to accept the scholarship award.
And for the parents and legal guardians accompanying the participants – a separate orientation on School Mandate, Scholarship Agreement, Manual for Scholars, Academic Support and Behavior Management Programs, Foster Care and Family Programs, and other support mechanisms was be given.
As Advisory Council member, we approved as early as July 2008 of the ANSYAS team’s plan that would allow PHSA scholarship applicants to have their artistic ability screened preliminarily by alternative means via submission of a DVD/VCD of performances or portfolio of works while the usual means of auditioning live at a RAC remains unchanged.
However, feeling the need to have an event that would gather all applicants shortlisted from both means for more individualized and in-depth assessments, Mr. Wong, the ANSYAS head, volunteered his vision: “There should be an array of fun-filled learning experiences, art workshops, educational tour, psychoeducational assessment, and physical acculturation sessions, all aimed at introducing the young artists to life amidst the forest of Mt. Makiling and to living in a boarding school away from families and the bustles of city life.”
Thus, Tayo na sa Makiling was conceived in November 2008.
Eventually, after fulfilling the historic PHSA's dream project, Mr. Josef has this say: “On the one hand, it has given the participants the opportunity to get acquainted with other children who, like them, are inclined towards the arts and have dreams of becoming a PHSA scholar someday. On the other hand, the parents of applicants have come to know the culture of the school face-to-face, enabling them to make informed decision on the impending separation between them and their child who has the chance to make it to the roster of PHSA scholars. On the part of the PHSA teachers, Tayo na sa Makiling has afforded them the occasion to get acquainted with would-be scholars of the school up close and personal and choose the ones most artistically talented, psychologically fit, and internally driven to pursue art as a course of study in high school on the strength of the assessment results.”
Last May 22, after a halfday of discussions and debates, not necessarily heated, the registrar revealed its most-awaited secret.
Below are the names of 35 new scholars of the PHSA for School Year 2009-2010.

Astronomo Ziv Crisanto Guysayco Memorial Elementary School Music-Guitar
Barliso Ana Lalaine Heneral Pio del Pilar Elem School Ballet
Bas Christine Angela Maramag Central Elementary School Theater Arts
Buhia Blanche Louise Philippine Normal University Theater Arts
Cantos Gerard Thomas Elizabeth Seton-South Music-Trumpet
Caro Corinne Laguna Bel Air School Visual Arts
Castardo Janene Marie Calumpang Central Elementary School Music-Voice
Conarco Crishelle Dianne Magugpo Pilot Imelda Elementary School Visual Arts
De Guzman Nicko Lourdes School of Quezon City Creative Writing
Del Pilar Zyrha Mae Leyte Normal University-Integrated Lab School Folkdance
Diolazo Justin Ray Dagupan City National High School Folkdance
Dones Andrea Paula Padre Burgos Elementary School Folkdance
Espinosa Jason Baclaran Elementary School Unit II Folkdance
Ganayo Rosseadelle Judee Liceo de Los Baños Creative Writing
Ilagan Dessa Rizalina Miriam College Grade School Theater Arts
Lazaro Maolen St Theresa's College Visual Arts
Ledamo Klyde Francis Bontoc SPED Center Music-Piano
Mendoza Gabriel Art Olangapo City National High School Music-Violin
Mortel Pia Adelie Marikina Catholic School Music-Voice
Navarro Hiraya Milagros Communty of Learners Foundation Creative Writing
Rellon Suzie Dawn Tagum City National High School Folkdance
Renomeron Antoine Karl Tacloban Angelicum Learning Center Visual Arts
Roldan Isaac Ernest Shiloh Learning Center Music-Violin
Salas John Jacob Sagnap Elementary School Theater Arts
Serafin Joshua Education and Training Center School-I Theater Arts
Soroño Abigail Joyce Learning Links Academy Visual Arts
Tangalin Eira Joanne Escuela de Sto. Rosario Ballet
Timogan Frejaneh Bukidnon National High School Visual Arts
Togonon Friane Jade Dadiangas West Central Elem Sch Creative Writing
Tordesillas Jessica Ellice Learning Links Academy Creative Writing
Trance Mary Dianne San Joaquin Elementary School Ballet
Valentino Krystle Dianne Musicnoz United Methodist Church Learning Ctr Theater Arts
Vibar Kysar Von Musicnoz North Central School Folkdance
Vidal Joma Mekira Leen Cabanatuan East Central School Ballet
Zerrudo Anton Ludwig Concepcion Holy Cross College Music-Guitar

From that mystical mountain, watch out for them bringing back the slippery glory of Philippine arts and culture in the same of league with this year's National Artists namely Federico Alcuaz (visual arts); Manuel Conde (cinema); Lazaro Francisco (literature); and Ramon Santos (music) to be honored on June 11 at the Malacanang Palace and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Friends are contributing funds for the chemotherapy of our dear friend, singer Susan Fernandez, who is stricken with cancer. You may also text get-well messages to her at #0917-4043484. For donations, please send to Acccount Name: SUSAN F. MAGNO. Savings Account No.186-3-186-15062-8, Metrobank Kalayaan Branch.
A good person is like a lighthouse, it does not ring bells nor fire guns to call attention.
It simply shines.


What a way to open our schoolyear!
Bookworms, we have all the reasons to celebrate since last March 24.
Malacañang approved the elimination of taxes on imported books “to ensure more public access to books and educational materials.”
The President directed Sec. Margarito Teves of Finance to revoke the order that imposes duty on book importation, or its Department Order 17-09!
Sec. Teves – who was then a lawmaker during the 9th Congress when the Republic Act 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act was enacted – said he would comply.
But he made it clear that “the revenue generation was not the main reason for the import duties but to clarify regulations on book imports as provided by the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.”
So what could be the rationale?
Everything became water under the bridge after the DOF listened to the points and counterpoints shared by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) with the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco) Philippines, and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
And perhaps the decision was made after the DOF recognized all the violent reactions from print, broadcast, and other alternative media.
After air shipments of books were stopped by the Bureau of Customs last January 26, the Examiner (who told the importer that because such books as Stephenie Meyer's Twilight “were not educational they were subject to duty”), the Undersecretary (who made the Memorandum on Clarificatory Guidelines on Duty Free Importation of Books) became the butt of jests and jeerings, from blogs to barber shops.
Not excluded was Sec. Teves who issued D.O.17-09 last March 24.
According to him, the order's goal was simply “to remove discretion among customs officers, increase transparency, and improve accountability in the duty-free importation of books."
Anyway, let bygones be bygones.
The thing is, we have to move on, in encouraging reading, especially among the young.Last summer, for instance, we met a lot of them hungry and thirsty for books.
First, during 6th Romblon Discussion List-CLEAR (Cultural, Livelihood, Education Assistance for Romblon) Writing Workshop in Sibale, Romblon last March 27-29 – we gathered from the 20 writing fellows from 17 towns of Romblon that they can write well in Asi, Unhan, and Ini -- their main languages – but where would they publish their works?
The same lesson was learned from 2nd Cordillera Creative Writing Workshop St. Mary's School in Sagada, Mountain Province last April 28, however, they have University of the Philippines Baguio's Dean Elizabeth Calinawagan of the College of Arts and Communications who had been continuing its Summer Arts Program, fervent in her desire to publish books after localizing workshops in the various Cordillera provinces speaking different languages like Kalinga, Ifugao, Bontoc in the Mountain Province, Tinggian in Abra, Adasen in Apayao, and Pangasinan -- plus other languages in Region II such as Ibanag, Itawis, Gaddang, Yogad in Isabela, Ilongot in Nueva Vizcaya, Ivatan in Batanes, to name a few.
Uswag Kaakiang Basudeno, for its part, was fortunate to have Engr. Silverio Quinones III as their municipal mayor since they can get support from its local government in financing the Youth Cultural Encampment on Citizenship Building and Good Governance Sangguniang Kabataan Municipal Federation of Basud, Camarines Norte last May 14-17.
Nonetheless, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts should have more Commissioners like Elmar Ingles from the NCCA Subcommission on Cultural Dissemination who had been tirelessly promoting the Millennium Development Goals through arts and culture with great help from artists Jed Balsamo, Joey Baquiran, Novy Bereber, Salvador Ching, Terence Guillermo, among others, who are all result-oriented.
For example, after Culture-Based Good Governance Training for Local Government Units and Sangguniang Kabataan Officials of Quezon Province project with Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Quezon's Committee on Culture, Arts and Tourism under Board Member Alona V. Obispo, Commissioner Ingles was instrumental in the formation of Busilaq or Buklurang Sining ng Lalawigan ng Quezon. Its president, Rowelito Martinez of the Atimonan National Comprehensive High School, and other officers were assisted by the Department of Education's Schools Division of Quezon Superintendent Gloria Potes and Education Supervisor (Filipino) in Elementary Joseph Jarasa in fulfilling its very first dream, that is, conducting a four-day seminar/workshop in Gumaca National High School last May 25-28.
Though they may not have the state-of-the-art equipment provided, say, by Ateneo de Manila University High School during their search for Filipino Character last May 13 or by De La Salle Green Hills when they sponsored the Paggamit ng Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Pagtuturo ng Kasaysayan last May 25 – all the aforementioned groups based in the community and school were able to prove one point: Philippines' got talent!
Teachers and students alike, sad to say, are strangers to frigates like books!
Due to the prohibitive aspect of availing them, there is a response to the growing concern over the lack of relevant and enjoyable reading materials available in venues of state-funded early education. In order to build relationships between deserving donees and appropriate donor organizations, Adarna House, through its revised Libro Mo, Libro Ko program, will serve as liaison and agent for the two parties. Now, Adarna House is calling for nominations and partners in relation to its revised Libro Mo , Libro Ko program. The winning nominated institution will receive educational reading materials from Adarna House and a partner donor. Nominees may be a daycare center, a public elementary school, or a barangay reading center. Please read through the complete nomination guidelines at or e-mail for inquiries.
By the way, the Philippine Board on Books for Young People will award the 2009 PBBY-Alcala Prize to Ferdinand Guevara for his digital-3D interpretation of Ang Higante Sa Loob ng Aming Bahay, the 2009 PBBY-Salanga Prize winner, by Raymund Garlitos. Currently working as a 3D animator at Thaumatrope Animation, Guevarra gave a contemporary edge to his illustrations by rendering them in 3D. With his use of such applications such as Maya and Zbrush, he merged the digital world with the printed word. Ferdinand Guevara is not a newbie to the PBBY-Alcala Prize nor to children’s book illustration. In 1996, he won for his illustrations for Ang Itim na Kuting, by Natasha Vizcarra. He also illustrated Ang Makapangyarihang Kyutiks ni Mama by Rene Villanueva in 2002. Three other artists bagged honorable mentions at this year’s contest: Jomar G. Rivera, Maurice Oliver B. Risulmi and Christian Oliver Ang Cruz. The PBBY-Alcala winners shall be awarded at the National Children’s Book Day (NCBD) celebration on July 21, 2009. Non-winning entries may be claimed no later than May 31, 2009 at the PBBY Secretariat. For inquiries about the contest, contact the PBBY Secretariat at telephone number 372-3548 loc. 105 or email address
Once a boy asks God.
BOY: Is it wrong to sleep with a girl before marriage?
GOD: No it is not. But the problem is. You guys don't sleep.
It is amazing to realized that living in simplicity gives true contentment. We go as we come to this world. In the end, nothing is ours to keep.
So let us share what we have. Smiles, knowledge, hugs, good words, time, love.
Love more. Hate less. Ignore critics. Love life.


Once upon a time, there was an examiner who came to save his office from a 30-billion-peso shortfall and saw Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. He conquered the said 2008 bestselling novel by classifying it not as “educational” as textbooks so its importer must pay taxes. His boss, an Undersecretary, seconded his motion via a Memorandum on Clarificatory Guidelines on Duty Free Importation of Books. A Secretary issued the Department Order 17-09 based on it. Publishers, authors, distributors, book sellers and other stakeholders, right from the start, knew that under the present state of the law affecting the importation of books, the Department of Finance has not been given any authority at all to disapprove, once the importation of books has been given a go signal, so to speak, by the National Book Development Board. They are one – as Book Development Association of the Philippines – reminding them about the Republic Act No. 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act, which created the National Book Development Board (NBDB) is the latest law that directly governs the importation of books into the country. BDAP pointed out that “it is erroneous to conclude that the imported books should be used for book publishing, equating it to a raw material. This is an absurd misreading of the law. Once a book is released to the public, it is already deemed published. How then can a published book be used for book publishing? The DOF seems to equate “Book Printing” with “Book Publishing”. This is a major misapprehension which is quite far from the true intent of RA 8047 as envisioned by its authors.”
In the Explanatory Note of Senate Bill No. 252 by then Senator Edgardo Angara in his sponsorship speech on 16 November 1992, he was quoted as saying “…While imported books are tax and duty free, following the Florence Agreement on the Free Flow of Information, imported paper to be used in the production of the same books are heavily taxed. The country imports finished books tax-free...” The word “books” as provided under RA 8047 “refers to any and all types and kinds of books, not only to those that are for “economic, technical, vocational, scientific, philosophical, historical, and cultural books and/or publications” as the questioned Department Order No. 17-09 would like everyone to believe. According to BDAP, this conclusion is amply supported by the Florence Agreement, of which our country has been a signatory since 1952, and which was taken into account when RA 8047 was being deliberated on until fully enacted into law. One of the primary duties of the NBDB is to require and accept the registration of entities engaged in book publishing and its related activities. Section 3 (g) of RA 8047 stated that book publishing is the process of choosing and making books…” BDAP stated, the terms “book publishing” would apparently connote simply “printing” or “production” however, publishing encompasses more than just simply printing and production so it is an activity intended to disseminate information to the public. Therefore, the importation of a book, of whatever nature, is an activity intended to disseminate the information contained therein to the public.
Again, that under the Florence Agreement, contracting states have the right to take measures to prohibit or limit the importation of the tax and duty free books. “But the limitations,” BDAP stressed, “pertain directly to national security, public order or public morals and loss of revenue is not a valid ground to limit the importation of the matters stated under the Florence Agreement.”
Its president Lirio Sandoval concludes by citing the BDAP Position Paper: “If revenue collection, efficiency and consistency are the avowed goals of the DOF, then there is all the more reason that only one agency that should govern the importation of books into the country. The same agency that has been tasked by law to uphold the goals of the National Book Development Act. This agency is the National Book Development Board. The NBDB as such shall be the one to issue certifications as to the importation of books of whatever nature and type. Hence, the importer need only secure the necessary papers from the NBDB in order to validly import the books into the country, without anymore stating the nature or type of the books being imported, or under which law it is being imported. Accordingly also, the imported need not state the fact that the books are being imported for purpose of eventual sale, because RA 8047 encompasses all types and nature of books and does not discriminate as to the purpose of the importation. Neither does the importer have to state that fact the imported books will be used as raw materials for book publication, because this is quite absurd and illogical. Such are the ramifications of the enactment of RA 8047.”
In the meantime, NBDB – after its successful Academic Publishing Conference at the University of the Philippines Baguio last month – is inviting us to NBDB Book Club's May Meeting at the Ortigas Library. Prize-winning screenwriter Ricky Lee will be joining the NBDB Book Club’s discussion of his runaway bestseller Para Kay B on May 30, 2-4 p.m., at Ortigas Foundation Library. Selling more than 10,000 copies since its launch in November last year, Lee’s first novel contains five interrelated stories illustrating and deconstructing the many convolutions of love. Everyone who’s read the book is invited to attend this intimate one-on-one with the author and discuss why 4 out of 5 of us are destined to be devastated by love. Para Kay B is available in major book stores for P250.
Add to that, NBDB is calling for nominations to the National Book Award in cooperation with the Manila Critics Circle.
What they would only accept are books copyrighted and published in the Philippines in the calendar year immediately preceding the year the award is given is eligible for the award. If it was copyrighted in an earlier year but was launched only during the previous year, a book may be nominated provided it was not considered for the award during the year of its copyright.
Except for books authored by members of the MCC and the Board of Judges, there are no restrictions as regards authorship; authors may be Filipinos or non-Filipinos, individuals or groups, dead or alive. Books published earlier or in the same year outside the country but published independently by a Philippine publisher are eligible.
If you are qualified, please send your book or books to theThe Accreditation and Incentives Division at the NBDB Office, 2/F National Printing Office Building, EDSA corner NIA Northside Road, Diliman, Quezon City 1100.
The deadline for submissions is at 1pm of May 29, 2009.
And if you win, except as a Publisher of the Year, you will receive a cash prize of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00), which will be awarded to the author or book designer, as the case may be, and not to the publisher. Citations do not win a cash prize.
TEACHER: What does your father do?
BOY: He is a magician.
TEACHER: What tricks can he do?
BOY: He cuts people in half. As a matter of fact, I have two half brothers and two half sisters.
1. Do the right thing!
2. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
3. God heals everything.
4. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
5. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
6. The best is yet to come.
7. When you awake alive in the morning, thank God for it.
8. Your Innermost self is always happy. So, try to be happy.


“Beyond those troubled hills of the North
lies my hope all laden with pine
Amidst the soft and silken touch
of morning mist I lay my pr'yer b'fore thy shrine.”
Dr. Dennis Faustino wrote that Sagada Song after famous, or infamous, pangat named Macliing Dulag of the Butbut tribe was killed on the eve of April 24, 1980 for opposing the World Bank-funded Chico River Basin hydroelectric dam project.
Twenty five years after, he would become the principal of St. Mary's School in Sagada (SMSS). Since 2005, Dr. Faustino has been donating his services for free. And nobody would, or could, blame him for falling in love with the place, especially with his residence there, a wooden house built in 1924 supposedly for the medical director of St. Theodore's Hospital, which was leased for life for him. “Here, most of the children began schooling early so we designed a new curriculum” he opened up the plan, “six electives are now being taught to 3rd and 4th Year students in mixed classes: Advanced Chemistry for future medical and health science majors; Business Math for future accountants and business majors; Contemporary World History for future educators, humanities majors, and lawyers; Computer Programming, and Public Speaking; and Art and Design with Technical Drafting for future architects and engineers.”
He even pioneered a fifth year program: “A graduate of Trinity College High School, who is under the tutelage of Kent Sinkey for Computer Science and under me for Music; an SMSS graduate who is studying fashion design with Janet Eason and is on apprenticeship with Sagada Weaving; another SMSS graduate who wishes to pursue a career in Hotel and Restaurant Management, is under the mentorship of Chiqui Say-awen for business studies; a graduate of St. Alfred’s, Tamboan, who wishes to become a nurse, and will soon undergo an apprenticeship in St. Theodore’s hospital; and another one from Tamboan, who wants to study Criminology. The latter two are currently taking refresher courses in Science, History, Public Speaking, and Computer.”
Within the 60.4- hectare land area of Sagada, with the rest of the estimated 12,000 population in that smallest of 10 towns comprising what is now known as Mountain Province – who would expect such success stories? According to Howard T. Fry's A History of the Mountain Province (2006), it all began as a “form of mountain reservation for the non-Christian tribes of the Cordillera Central, then the Americans decided to lay the foundations for the future civilization of these “wild men,” as Dean C. Worcester described them as a force of habit. When the control of United States presidency shifted from Republican to Democrat in 1913, “the idea of separating the mountain peoples from their lowland Christian neighbors was abandoned in favor of a policy aimed at achieving their integration in the body politic of the Philippine nation” was born.
Such concept is taken seriously.
Today, tourists, local and foreign, are not just talking the talk about unity in diversity. Literally, they are walking the walk. Like the American missionaries who settled there late in the 19th that resulted into the Episcopalization of the Isagadas. The 105 year-old SMSS, that used to be a Boys' School, played an importaint role culturally and otherwise. Its former principal, Dr. William Henry Scott, wrote about it in 1958: “As years passed, however, and the value of education began to be more and more realized by Igorot parents, it was possible to start the school off on the road to financial self-suffiency, and after World War II there were enough jobs available for educated mountaineers to make it plausible to charge regular tuition fees.” Well, one of the adopted sons of Sagada who introduced Solid Waste Management and Material Recovery Facility – Dr. Faustino -- took that challenge.
Baptized as Gomowad during a gobbaw or name-giving ceremony, he spoke as an Isagada: “As an educational consultant for Ms. Gina Lopez, the president of the ABS-CBN Foundation, my services were enlisted to advise her on how to upgrade the level of education in public schools. SMSS will serve as the training area and serve as the high school model. By the way, I accepted the award for SMSS as having the “Most Functional Library in the Cordilleras,” in the Private Secondary School Category.
Earlier, its school administrator, The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines [EDNP], was firm in closing down the school but concerned SMSS alumni and friends opposed it by trying to resuscitate its operations with Dr. Faustino. He, then, donated his 2.6 hectare titled property in Floridablanca, Pampanga, right in front of Basa airbase to SMSSI, or about 26 million pesos in total. One thing led another, they were able to build a covered functional gymnasium that is considered to be the largest in the Mountain Province. “The gymnasium which can seat 1,000 people, theater style,” Dr. Faustino imagined, “can easily be the suitable venue for a Philippine Basketball Association demonstration game and performances for Ballet Philippines, and the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music Orchestra and Chorus, all of which are anticipating to be invited as guests for the grand inaugural of the gym.” Once in awhile, he would miss the times when he was still the International School Manila assistant principal who would love the stage. During the 80s and 90s, he would go to Sagada to teach music to students while playing Santa every Christmas, that included sponsoring concerts for the benefit of SMSS where he used to direct plays with local actors for classics like Caucasian Chalk Circle so one of his goals for it was to stage a Kankanaey adaptation of Fiddler On The Roof which he is now working on. One drizzling afternoon, the day before the Pinikpikan Festival, while we, with Ellay, were discussing the miracles of juicing, the open secret of weight loss, all of sudden his pet, Barrack, a pure German Rottweiler, found long lost friends in our kids Psalma, Wika, and Sulat, at home in his garden. All came to a halt, when his eight-year-old pet stood up to kiss our five-year bunso, who cried and was calmed down by our host who gave an achtung! to his four-foot herding puppy! Call it educational leadership. For four years, Dr. Faustino was able to practice what SMSS's motto had been preaching "Aditako Bokodan di Gawis." That is, "Let us share our blessings."
After Manny Pacquiao knocked out Ricky Hatton, Britons have been looking at their Filipina househelp with more respect and awe and are now calling them -- NANNY PACQUIAO!
We are tested by major changes,delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism, and senseless tragedies. But the good news is that God wants us to pass the tests of life we face to be greater than the Grace He gives us to handle them.

ART FOR EARTH'S SAKE (May 04. 2009)

Joseph Paul Dato Alipio recently set up an Adventure Outfitter for the Cordillera Region called Cordillera Expeditions.
More popularly known as J.P., he has contacts in most villages throughout the mountains so he qualifies as a Cordillera Specialist – with anthropology professor Reuben Muni and mountaineer-doctor Cherry Malonzo.
So far, it all began last year and already they have organized trips to Batad in Ifugao, the lakes and mummy caves of Kabayan, Mayoyao in Ifugao, and Mt. Pulag, the second highest mountain in the country.
Earlier this year, the trio were featured in the January issue of Travel Life magazine and in the August 31 travel sections of the Philippine Star and Manila Bulletin.
They have a partnership with Hi-Tec outdoor Gear and Deuter Equipment and their clients can avail of discounts from both equipment suppliers for which they do orientations in outdoor shop in Bonifacio Global City ROX.
Their trips are also unique since they involve the locals who benefit economically from the trips, as local guides, transporters, and caterers.
The trips also have the added benefit of creating a new kind of tourists, from those who go for luxury to those who love to ride on the top load of jeepneys and take in the amazing view with the wind blowing in their faces, sleep under the stars or inside a hut in the middle of the terraces, trek to waterfalls, eat with their bare hands from banana leaves, dance and feast with the locals.
Such treat into the mountains gives the locals an idea that there is no need to build all the smooth roads and big hotels for tourists.
Most of their clients come back for more of their brand of “Cordillera Luxury.”
Unlike others, they are based in the very mountains.
An M.A. in Environmental Management degree holder from Ateneo de Manila and University of San Francisco joint program (2006) and B.S.Biology undergrad from University of the Philippines Baguio (2003) -- J.P. grew up in their ancestral home in Benguet owned by his Ibaloi father, Alex, whose parents were educators known for teaching the so-called “mountain men and women” basic education.
His Kapampangan mother, Georgina, has been successful in continuing such tradition by putting up almost two decades ago a school named Little Flower Children's Home Foundation at Km. 4 in La Trinidad.
For her efforts, “Mom Gigi” was recognized by the Gintong Ilawan Top Private School Principals in the Philippines and Ten Outstanding Citizens of Benguet Province organizers.
In this atmosphere, the eldest J.P. and his brothers – Francis who used to be the nurse of his tokayo, the late rap king, Francis M. in Manila and the youngest Jolo who is taking up a pre-med course in Baguio – were exposed at an early age up to this day.
“We are one with the mountains, hills, and rivers here,” J.P. stressed,” in fact, my dad, who is a veterinarian, has three non-poisonous snakes roaming around Little Flower to the delight of our school children and to the disadvantage of some pests.”
As a kid, he found pleasure in playing and roaming around these mountainsides.
So it is not surprising for him to end up as a nature lover who takes nothing from his surrounding but pictures!
Being a professional camera bug, he made it a point to design trips for his kind via expeditions which will give photographers more time to get to know the villages and the area that they are shooting, usually beaten path places, or places in the sun most tourists do not go to.
During the recent Earth Day celebration, he, together with friends, Yasuhiko Naoi from Japan and Ruel Bimuyag from Kalinga, put up a 33-photo exhibit entitled Kalinga: Land of Earth Beat at SM Baguio.
Organized by Baguio Mountain Provinces Museum Foundation Inc. and produced by Cordillera Green Network Inc., it is part of the Baguio as a melting pot project.
A land navigator and an openwater diver too, J.P. has photographs on the Cordillera that have been exhibited in UP Baguio and in ISS in the Netherlands and published in Metro Active Magazine and Filipinas magazine in the United States, Skyland News, Manila Standard, and Manila Bulletin. Aside from being the team leader of the Philippine Central Cordillera Traverse, he was also the team’s photographer for the traverse and the National Geographic Society.
At 28, he already had solo exhibits called Living Mountains, Living Images of the Cordillera Mountains, Big Green Sunrise, and Green Shadows in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
Mentored by no less than Gordon Wiltsie, the world-famous National Geographic expedition photographer, J.P. himself even digged deeper into tribal wars and pesticide use. His grants come from the National Geographic Society as a Young Explorer to do research in the Cordillera region. Being the 2004-2005 National Geographic Expeditions Council Grantee – as Expedition and Project Leader – his project was the Central Cordillera Traverse, a 38-day expedition on the trail that connects Benguet to the Mountain Province and ends at Tirad Pass.
“I led a team composed of specialists from different fields (Anthropology, Sociology, Health, Environment) in conducting an assessment of the people and environment of the central Cordillera Region.” he confessed, “and the results of the study are embodied in the Report on the People and Environment of the Central Cordillera Region which contains an analysis of geographic, ecological/environmental, cultural, and socio-economic data as related to the sustainability of development currently occurring in the region. Another objective was to map out the ancient footpaths that connected the region using GPS data and topographic map plotting.”
In 2008, he was the Project Head of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Cordillera Cultural Mapping Project and Environmental Education facilitator Cordillera during the Eco Caravan of the Cordillera Green Network.
“We recognize our responsibility to the planet and would like to make our trips as Carbon Neutral as possible.” he added,” and your fee for us guides also includes the planting of tree seedlings to offset the amount of CO2 that will be produced during the Cordillera Expedition.”
Someday, J.P. will follow the footsteps of these 13 individuals who were honored with the Fr. Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism last April 19, as part of the observance of the World Earth Day. Led by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales for his unwavering support for the protection of our environment, the awardees include Arts Association of the Philippines (Environmental Arts Education for visual arts), Joey Ayala (for music), and Kidlat Tahimik (for film documentation of indigenous peoples). Special citations for Media and Culture were also be given to the late master rapper Francis Magalona (posthumous) and Timmy Cruz (eco-friendly artists); television personalities and eco-friendly hosts Richard Gutierrez for the now-defunct Full Force Nature and Kim Atienza for Matanglawin; and finally, radio hosts Angelo Palmones for the DZMM Takbo sa Kalikasan and Clement Bautista for DZRH Environmental Reporting.
There are three kinds of historians: those who know how to count and those who don't.
What we have for ourselves dies with us, but what we have done for others remains. We make a living not by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

BALUARTE TI VIGAN (April 20, 2009)

Actually, it was the Photo Mentor Series 8 of the Society of Portrait Photographers of the Philippines (SPPP) headed by president Boy Samson, vice president Ariel Samaniego, secretary Andy Samaniego, treasurer Gari Lim, adviser Ibarra Deri, among others.
But, since it was hosted by Hon. Luis “Chavit” Singson and set in his 173-acre fortress -- Baluarte Zoological Park -- it turned out into a Photo Safari!
For us, non-members, it was more than that. It was cameraderie!
Two Partas busloads, 49-seater each, of nature trippers trooped to Vigan, Ilocos Sur last April 3 through Sta. Maria where we discovered its more than 200-year old church, both a World Heritage and a National Landmark, with a convent and a cemetery via a break-of-dawn photoshoot with three Ilocana fashionistas in abel gowns designed by Dita Sandico Ong. After breakfast, we rushed with our panganay -- Dinah Psalma Sigla -- to the tiger, deer, reptile, butterfly, ostrich and other bird exhibits. Animal rides were ever-available though we preferred to hop into the first two lectures on wedding photography by PRO/auditor Leah Taas and Orly Mercado. Make-up artists Marissa Buenaventura and Jeng Flores turned a mild-mannered Jasmine Tecson into a wild child with other models after a short intro on avant-gardism by Daisy Lu “Dail” Deri.
Her dad, Ibarra Deri, showed us the way he handled himself and his clients, mostly political and corporate bigwigs. From his magic tricks and talks, we gathered that it was he who was asked to form a group of portraitist -- after Photo World Manila 1996 -- with Toch Arellano, Maricris Cabaniag, Vic Sison, Serville Tan, to name a few. Ever since, SPPP never looked back, training old and new members alike, hiding no trade secrets. Constant communication led to the creation of i-mag, that began in 2006 with initial 5,000 copies and P200 price, only to emerge after three years as Philippines' No.1 magazine on the art and craft on photography. It was its publisher, Neil Garcia, who gambled on putting up a proof to their foreign counterparts that we, Filipinos, are quite world-class, like the Tanduay rhum overflowing on a regular basis with Sidhi's accoustic music and Randy Buenaventura's fire dance for two nights until the wee hours of the following mornings!
Palm Sunday saw us – after the Dail's Child Photography session with Ma. Catherine Joy Racho, Jericko Jireh Racho, Helaina Sales, and Maian San Andres -- along Calle Crisologo and among souvenir items while photographers and models showed their reasons for being, until sunset shared with nightfall its remaining available light in time for the belfry to announce the much-awaited procession, all glowing and glittery, yet nobody could escape the dark developing and enveloping even the happiest of hearts, in and out of the century-old cathedral! Our last supper was enough to keep us awake for i-mag managing editor and concurrent art director Ed Yap. He was followed by fellow Manila Bulletin columnist, Mariano “Jun” Miranda, who shared the stuff that made him the first Adobe Certified Expert and Adobe Certified Instructor in Photoshop and Lightroom in Asia. We survived the night just because Pam Tan did, away from her Hotel Salcedo suite, after posing for hours amidst ancestral homes and antiques beating the Nueva Segovia heat and proving afterwards why Nikon is the answer!
Without question, Sinait Beach Resort asserted its beauty with Jack Castor, Marjorie Fajardo, Abi Guevarra, Veronica McClintock, Dianne Mendoza, and Jen Piolo competing in their swimwears under that Holy Monday sun!
Whew, our hosts did not cease to see us off, after that halfday shoot-and-run routine, slowly but surely hinting -- with or without raffle prizes (from the material like Mac notebook carrying cases to the spiritual as Power Stone) -- the hidden meaning of spending our Holy Week in the Heritage Capital of the Philippines.
Bitten by the camera bug and all, we could barely sleep on the bus and beyond. Honestly, our heads could not help but transfer files upon files from our memory to our own – not necessarily hypoallergenic or antimicrobial – pillows, always soft at home.
PEDRO: I want to become a nurse to help other people.
ERNING: I want to become a doctor to help other people.
NENE: I want to become a mayor to help other people.
KIKO: I want to become a president to help other people.
LINO: I want to become a superhero to help other people.
JUAN: I want to become other people.CONSIDER THIS:

It is better to enjoy life committing mistakes and learn.
Rather than playing safe in your entire life and learned nothing.

AT HOME WITH THE WAR (April 13, 2009)

Chip Tsao's column entitled The War at Home on March 27 had only 465 words.
However, it was not the form.
Indeed, he needs an editor, especially for this sentence alone: “As a patriotic Chinese man, the news has made my blood boil.”
But it was the content.
Just because “there are more than 130,000 Filipina maids working as HK$3,580-a-month cheap labor in Hong Kong,” he can sweep the Philippines “as a nation of servants”?
Thus, we have no right to “sovereignty over the scattered rocks in the South China Sea called the Spratly Islands, complete with a blatant threat from its congress to send gunboats to the South China Sea to defend the islands from China if necessary.”
So, what he did was he summoned Louisa, his domestic assistant “who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture.”
He added that he “sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell everyone of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.”If war breaks out between the Philippines and China, he would fire his overqualified maid because he would “not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state” he was paying to wash his toilet and clean his windows 16 hours a day.”
And reminded everyone that they have “a hostage in each of our homes in the Mid-Levels or higher,” that some of his friends “have already declared a state of emergency at home, and that “their maids have been made to shout 'China, Madam/Sir' loudly whenever they hear the word "Spratly".”
In the end, he had the balls to belittle everything, or everybody, when he ended with “I’m not sure if that's going a bit too far, at least for the time being.”
In fairness, HK Magazine’s publisher Asia City Publishing Group issued an apology and, after three days, warned its readers “not to leave derogatory comments on the website.”
Perhaps, while the link to the online version of Chip Tsao's column was rerouted to another page, we got an email from a former D.H. from H.K.: “I come before you as a parent of two now fatherless young children. They are the children of Jose “Pepe” Riveral Manegdeg III. Pepe was assassinated on November 28, 2005 in Apatot, San Esteban Ilocos Sur with 22 gunshot wounds. He is a lay leader of the Rural Missionary of the Philippines. He was monitored, harassed, demonized and subsequently murdered. November 27 at 10p.m., I last heard Pepe’s hearty laugh over the phone while I was in Hongkong. Early in the day, we exchanged calls. I was bidding farewell with my fellow domestic helpers in a Turtle Park in Hongkong. He was enjoying a picnic in Burnham Park with his children and nephews and then went windowshopping at the National Book Store. The last text I got from him was around 8.55 p.m. of November 28. He just finished his lecture in a seminar and was on his way out to get a bus. A bus to Manila where he would pick me up from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 5 p.m. after meeting a colleague in the morning. November 29, 9 a.m., I was at the Philippine consulate in Hongkong. Waiting for a managing director of Deutsche Bank Hongkong to sign my new employment contract. And then, I get a call that in my craziest imagination never occurred. My brother told me that my husband could not meet me…as he is taken…he is dead. And our children? All they knew was the sudden change that instead of waiting for their father coming home with their mother, they were taken to Manila to meet me. After the excitement of our reunion, they asked for their father. And it was a moment of telling them their father was not coming home anymore.”
That was Florence Macagne-Manegdeg.
Her ancestral name is Dom-an, 36 yrs old, a mother of two children and a flutist.
We met her at Ching Abad Santos' TILAMSIK NG SINING through Baidy Mendoza who introduced us to her music four years ago.
Instantly, we invited her to perform at the Conspiracy Garden Cafe where we had been hosting the Conspiwriters Tuesdays but she politely begged off since “Manila is 12 hours away from my Sagada.” Nevertheless, she kept us posted. In fact, last Holy Week, she gave us these lines: “Tangggap ko / Ang kahihiyan sa aking pananahimik / At pag pag-iwas sa karupukan / Ng lumiliyab na galit... // Ngunit, / Hindi ko matanggap / Ang walang hanggang pagnanais / ng Kapangyarihan... / at kapabayaan sa paglaganap ng kabulastugan at kasamaan...// Hindi ko matanggap/ang mapagpanggap na kabanalan / habang ang kamatayan at kasinungalingan / ay siyang sinasamba at pinapakawalan...»
Is this for Chip Tsao? No, as Layad Kasiyana, she wrote last year, on February 27 -- in one of her sanctuaries -- the Sacred Heart Novitiate.
Well, we could simply wish she was a part of the 48th UP National Writers Workshop that began yesterday. It coincided with a canao at the BenCab Museum in Km. 6, Asin Road where the exhibit New Figurations opened at its Gallery Indigo with the paintings, prints, and photographs of Virgillio Aviado, Welbart Bar tolome, Igan d’Bayan, Plet Bolipata, Elmer Borlongan, BenCab, Marina Cruz, Kiko Escora, James Gabito, Emmanuel R. Garibay, Kawayan de Guia, Winner Jumalon, Mark Justiniani, Willy Magtibay, Joy Mallari, Jose Tence Ruiz, John Frank Sabado, Popo San Pascual, Aman Santos, Jose Santos III, Emmanuel Santos, Pam Yan Santos, Rodel Tapaya, Roger “Rishab” Tibon, Ronald Ventura, and Wig Tysmans
Today until April 19 this year’s workshop will be held in Camp John Hay with its director -- National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario – who announced earlier the following fellows: Mikael Co and Ayer Arguelles (Tula); Jing Panganiban-Mendoza (Malikhaing Sanaysay) Norman Wilwayco, Vlad Gonzales, and Alvin Yapan (Kuwento); Angelo Suarez and Carlomar Daoana (Poetry); Felisa Batacan and Dean Alfar (Fiction); Criselda Yabes and Carljoe Javier (Creative Nonfiction). Aside from us, the workshop panelists include all advisers, fellows, and associates of Likhaan: The University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing such as Dean Almario, National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, ICW director Jose Dalisay, Jr., Gemino Abad, Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Neil Garcia, Charlson Ong, Conchitina Cruz, Jun Cruz Reyes, Rolando Tolentino, Mario Miclat, and Romulo Baquiran, Jr. Please our blog hub for more information.
By the way, our co-fellow during the first Silliman University's Semestral Workshop in 1988, Chi Balmaceda Gutierrez, is reminding writers who love Baguio. To those of us who would like to submit stories for the Centennial Edition of the Baguio City Yearbook magazine, we only have until April 2009. This 200-page Centennial Edition is supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. So, double-time, since it is now in the process of design conceptualization. Then to be launched on September 1, its centenary. For details, here's the Iink
Or else, you will be chip-tsaoed!
A man opened an old bottle. the genie inside asked for his wish.
MAN: Make me desirable and irresistible to sexy ladies.
GENIE: Wish granted.
He became a...comfort room!
We cry when our hearts couldn’t hide the pain anymore.
Cry if you want.
That’s not a weakness.
It actually heals the wound that laughter can’t cure.

BUBBLE (April 06, 2009)

Internationally acclaimed musician Ryan Cayabyab was introduced by Philippine High School for Arts Director Fernando “Nanding” Josef as the Executive and Artistic Director of the San Miguel Foundation for the Performing Arts.

But everyone in the guest house, even the Net 25's Tribe crew, was “shaddened” or saddened/shocked to learn from him that his beloved orchestra and chorale were or are both dead.

One of them was called by one of the higher-ups only to be told that their contracts would not be renewed.

Just like that.

No separation pay whatsoever.

So the world-class San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale that were created in 2001 disappeared like the proverbial bubble.

Be it a speculative bubble, a market bubble, a price bubble, a financial bubble, or a beer bubble!
Some suspect SMC would diversify into energy business.

Others see it prioritizing basketball.
So when they would advertise San Miguel play – it would mean “laro” not “tugtog.”
Play sport not music?
Unless, our largest publicly listed food, beverage, and packaging company prefers rock and roll!
As a Philippine Basketball Association fan, we were glad to hear that San Miguel, Ginebra, Coca-cola and Purefoods teams would last forever.
As an artist, on the other hand, we sympathize with Mr. C, especially, when he talked about the extra effort exerted in putting up such powerhouse cast in Philippine music.
Its first solo album – Great Filipino Love Songs – got a gold record when it was released in 2004 like their followup -- Great Original Pilipino Music – the latter received three nominations in the 18th Awit Awards plus the Best Musical Arrangement for Cayabyab's Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka.
Another gold was their Pasko 1.
But it was their Pasko 2 that garnered the Best Christmas Song for its Isang Taong Lumipas during the 19th Awit Awards.
Then they had Spoliarium: The Opera based on Juan Luna's life, with Cayabyab's music and Fides Cuyugan-Asensio's libretto.
The Filipino Classics was next featuring Basil Valdez doing the hits of the 20s to the 60s that became another big hit for an entire month after its release.
Who would expect that could bring home a Catholic Mass Media Awards?
Well, they did it with The Sacred Works of Ryan Cayabyab that bagged the Best Religious Album in 2004 – after its Misa 2000 earlier won the Onassis International Cultural Competition in Greece as the Original Music Composition for Dance in 2000.
Collaborating with the likes of KC Concepcion, Pinky Marquez, Luke Mijares, and Jett Pangan, they had the Philippine run of the Beauty and the Beast.
Once more, back to their old habit with their Great Original Pilipino Music from the Movies – before they did a live recording on August 2006 of their Dancing in the Rain.
Until that one fateful day in January 2007 came.
Perhaps, the Big Bosses disliked the shape of thingumajigs to come when they lined up such folk songs as Atin Cu Pung Singsing.
Or they despised attacking novelty songs like Ocho-ocho, Pito-pito, or Boom Tarat-tarat the symphonic way.
Well, all we could do was speculate while waiting for the 31th Commencement Exercises to take place at the National Arts Center's Tanghalang Maria Makiling last March 30.
Dr. Peralta Rosario Bitanga-Peralta simply and silently waited for Dean Raul Sunico, Denisa Reyes, and other PHSA Advisory Council members like us to arrive. Malate Church's Fr. Mickey Martin could do nothing but say Ironggo (or Irish/Ilonggo) prayers for the Filipinos. Magna Kultura Foundation's Executive Director Ricardo “Dickie” Aguado promised to do great things with us all. Mrs. Tessie Jose just smiled.
Mr. C was supposed to give an Inspirational Message and he did it his way, with a little help from his RCS, Ryan Cayabyab Singers, while he touched a bit about his life and love for music.
The commencement speaker actually was none other than our National Artist for Literature – Francisco Sionil Jose – who could not help but cite the San Miguel Orchestra and Chorale's plight as an example of how our society treat our artists.
No artist's heart, not even Nick Joaquin's, was broken though.
That day nobody could stop the PHSA Batch 2009, a.k.a. Class Lopez Jaena/Guerrero, from dreaming on!
That night Tata Nanding probably inspired them so much.
His speech in Filipino touched even their V.I.P. guests led by Ambassador Jaroslav Ludva of the Czech Republic representing the Presidency of the European Union.
Or the show's director, Victor Emmanuel Flor, whose folk dance majors, Japhet Mari Cabling and Rizel Miko Dampog, are this year's crème de la crème among the 24 graduates with Janine Dimaranan, a theater actress.
Other honor students who made their parents proud are Megumi Anne Acorda (Visual Arts), Clariane Liz Avila (Music-Voice), Kristel Lin Cabalona (Folk Dance), Angella Betina Carlos (Ballet), Justin Owen Francisco (Visual Arts), Trista Isobelle Gile (Folk Dance), Jeremiah Padilla (Music-Piano), Patricia Erika Poblador (Music-Violin), and Joelle Marie Therese Yuvienco (Theater).
Our advisee, Inshallah Montero, was short by a point in Math, to make it to the list, but she was proclaimed Outstanding Student Artist with Clarianne Liz Avila (Music – Voice), Nika Melissa Anne Bola (Folk Dance), Japhet Mari Cabling (Folk Dance), Janine Dimaranan (Theater), Justin Owen Francisco (Visual Arts), Jeremiah Padilla (Music-Piano), Patricia Erika Poblador (Music- Violin), and Erl Emmanuel Sorilla (Ballet).
Shallah – as if promoting the Women's Month -- was also among Clariane Liz Avila (Music – Voice), Japhet Mari Cabling (Folk Dance), Angella Betina Carlos (Ballet), Janine Dimaranan (Theater), and Justin Owen Francisco (Visual Arts) as MARIA Scholars.
It all began during Class 1980-1981 for outstanding graduates who are given free hand to choose any college as long as they will pursue a degree in the arts.
Then again why do we still wish to become an artist?
What's in the arts?
Pablo Picasso, for one, has a point in saying that art is nothing but a lie that makes us realize the truth.
And the truth is...
Artists like Amado Tamayo, a German-trained violin maker will create globally competitive violins, violas, and cellos here in the Philippines.
Come hell or high waters.
What is the difference between the haves and the havenots? The money of the rich is like a Pepsi. Either Max or Mega. The money of the poor is like a Coke. If it's not Sakto, it's Zero.
Lord, enlighten what is dark in me. Strengthen what is weak in me. Mend what is broken in me. Bind what is bruised in me. Heal what is sick in me.
straighten what is crooked in me. And revive whatever peace and love have died in me.

G.E.M. (March 30, 2009)

Genoveva Edroza Matute was supposed to be one of our featured interviewees, together with National Artist Edith Tiempo, for the Likhaan Journal's University of the Philippines Centennial Edition last year.

But a male voice from the other side of the phone did everything to prevent us from
recording our literary history direct from the horse's mouth.
Last March 23 -- hours before Adrian Cristobal Jr.'s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and Filipinas Collecting and Licensing Society (FILCOLS) with the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) Board of Directors paid tribute to another National Artist, Virgilio Almario (a day after the University of Regina Carmeli conferred him honoris causa) during Open Mig Gig at the Mag:net Gallery Katipunan – we understood why.
Yes, last Monday, Ms.Cora Kabigting, her niece, revealed all during wake of Ms. Matute at the Sanctuarium.
We lost the G.E.M. of Philippine literature to old age.
For the 94 years of her life, she did nothing but lead a writer's life.
She never, literally never, stopped writing!
Actually, she was finishing a one-act play before she met her Maker around 5 p.m. of March 21.
And that was one of the reasons why her nephew did not return our call.
Like security guards, her close relatives had been staying with her since she and her late great Panyong, or Epifanio G. Matute, retired from teaching, after 50 or more years!
The couple was childless.
Probably they got used it.
By it, we mean friendship.
Imagine they were on – as nobyo and nobya -- from 1943 to 1953!
Then they realized, after 10 long years, these best friends ought to get married.
Happily, there was no professional rivalry between these two pen-movers.
They just wrote themselves away!
Until she was left behind a decade ago -- on February 20, 1999.
Successfully, she turned to writing.
Spiritually and otherwise, she survived.
For one, she had been receiving P100,000 from the book Layag alone.
Ever since, she had banging her old Underwood typewriter up to her last breath.
In 2007, she was able to publish a collection of stories Diaspora at iba pang Kuwento at 92!
Indeed, she was special.
When she was born, she showed signs of giftedness, when they saw her “may supot na kasama.”
Out of a dozen, three kids survived and she was one of them.
It was from Paz Latorena, who discovered her, where she learned the fundamentals.
Though she finished B.S. Education, major in English, she wrote in Filipino.
Her alma mater, Philippine Normal University (PNU), recognized her contribution to Philippine arts and letters during the 80s.
St. Scholastica's College did the same.
What about the only Royal, Pontifical, and Catholic university in the country when she took her graduate courses?
Honestly, she did not mind.
To a fault, she would just give and give and give.
During the 90s, a priest solicited P100,000 from her in the name of his parish in Tabuk, Mountain Province.
Up to now, the church is still nowhere to be found.
LESSON #1: Even the men of God are ungodly.
LESSON #2: Even the fictionists believe in fiction!
Anyway, last March 25, during the necrological service -- when UMPIL joined forces with PNU lead by Dr. Pat Villafuerte and De La Salle University headed by Dr. Efren Abueg – we got
That G.E.M. mothered a lot of kids in Dr. Benilda Santos, Dr. Fanny Garcia, Dr. Jun Cruz Reyes.
That's how motherly she was.
So much so that beside her coffin, poets Teo Antonio and Mike Coroza were able to hold back their instinct to fight, literarily that is, and hum songs of praises for her instead one day before she was finally laid to rest last March 25.
Which reminds us of a translated ambahan during the recent Mangyan Heritage Week that was opened -- by Maritoni Ortigas, Lolita Delgado Fansler of the Mangyan Heritage Center, Amb. Robert Brinks of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Antoon Postma and his angels -- last March 26 at the Ayala Museum:

You once were passing this way
it's not long since you've been here
Your footprints are still around.
Today, at 11 a.m., there will be a Philippine Halo-halo:The Mangyans of Mindoro lecture at the European International School in Better Living, Pananaque – coinciding with a photo and artifact exhibit running until April 3 -- where they will teach you how to write your name in Mangyan syllabic script.
Later, tonight at 6, witness the Mabuhay Guides Commencement Rites, as they are introduced to the members of the tourism industry at Almacenes Reales in Fort Santiago.
According to Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque Jr. of Tourism Planning and Promotions, “in response to the growing tourist arrivals despite the economic challenges, the Department of Tourism has established the Mabuhay Guides training program – set to raise the notch of Philippine tour guiding in the country. Mabuhay Guides is a premier course which aims to give a holistic approach to the field of tourism and produce excellent guides and tour leaders, to present the country in the best light to travelers, business investors and tourism partners. The curriculum consisted of on-site trainings conducted by the prestigious London Blue Badge trainors Irish Barry, Nicky Godfrey-Evans and Roger Rajah. They took the Mabuhay Guides to actual comprehensive field learning sessions for four weeks.”
Lectures were also given by well-respected personalities from different fields such Philippine art, culture, identity, heritage, geography, ecological tourism, among others.
The first batch of trainees only twenty-three participants from amongst hundreds of applicants were selected by a panel composed of industry leaders.
We, from Filipinas Institute of Translation, are planning to tie up with the DOT and the like in helping not merely translators and interpreters but tour guides as well, exposing them to Philippine literature.
For instance, to G.E.M.
KATUTUBO 1: Mag-iingat ka sa iyong babaybayin na daan dahil ito ay mapanganib. Kunin mo itong gamot sa kagat ng ahas baka sakaling ika'y makagat. Kunin mo itong isang bote ng hamog dahil ito ay nakakatanggal ng uhaw at gutom. Dalhin mo ang balaraw na ito ng ating mga ninuno upang maprotektahan ka laban sa mga mababangis na hayop. Natatandaan mo pa ba ang daan anak ko?
KATUTUBO 2: Opo, basta text-text na lang if ever.
KATUTUBO 1: Okey-dokey, basta miskol u me pag feel mo na ha. Ingatz.
Thought you might enjoy this interesting prayer given in Kansas at the opening session of their Senate. It seems prayer still upsets some people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was Expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard: Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that isexactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare . We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and po r nography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen! The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India , Africa and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, 'The Rest of the Story,'and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired. With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called 'one nation under God.'


Alliance Française de Manille -- during the birthday of Francisco Balagtas, April 2, last year -- presented SPRING OF POETS 2008: IN PRAISE OF THE OTHER: CROSSROADS, CROSSINGS, CROSSBREEDINGS in their Makati City office.Aside from the Vice-President of their Board Deanna Ongpin-Recto, featured poets were Dr. Gemino Abad, Yanna Verbo Acosta, Kash Avena, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Darwin Chiong, Marne Kilates, Asha Macam, Ginny Mata, Miguel Ongpin, Ramon Sunico, Cesare A.X. Syjuco, Maxine Syjuco, Trix Syjuco, Kooky Tuason, and your truly who collaborated with sculptor Raul Funilas. This time, we will miss two performers who were originally in the lineup.

A jamais.
Last year, on March 30, artist/architect Sid Hildawa of the Cultural Center of the Philippines would succumb to “multiple organ failure because of severe complications arising from pneumonia.” On Friday, March 27, 4 p.m., at the CCP Promenade, there will be a mass, poetry reading, reminiscing, anything goes. Organized by Hermie Beltran, Ed Cabagnot, and the Visual, Literary, and Media Arts Department staff, Sid's first death anniversary celebration will offer wine, cheese, petit-fours, and everything that you will bring for the potluck. Kindly call their office at # 8321125 locals 1702 or 1705 and look for Ruth or Bing for coordination.
On the other God's hand, rock goddess Anabel Bosch would obey the pain, on January 11, after brain aneurysm had a Big Bang on her -- exactly on New Year's Day of 2009!
Once more, there will be another SPRING OF POETS 2009: EN RIRE(S)… ABOUT LAUGHTER on March 26 at 6 p.m.
It is based on the famous word of French writer and humorist Alphonse Allais: “Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas sérieux.”
Indeed, people who never laugh are not serious.
Ms. Ongpin-Recto, former CCP Artistic Director, informed us that National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario whose poem Pulis ng Laging Saklolo has been translated into English by Mr. Kilates and will be read by Marivic Rufino. The translator himself will read his own poem Shanty on a Lot Vacated by a Bank.
Our High Priestess, Virginia Moreno, has asked a little help from Myra Beltran to dance for her Mock Ballad on a Pearl.
This time, Dr. Abad, known for his lyricism will reveal his witticism with Arse Politika, Or Breaking Wind.
Always avant garde Alfred, or Krip Yuson – who came late last year when prioritized the Playboy Philippines launch, will circumnavigate with his World Poetry Circuit.
RayVi Sunico looks at the funny side of love, after his 299th version, with his Tula ng Pag-Ibig #300.
Frank Rivera, after conducting workshops from the poorest provinces to prison cells, will take time out to tell us about Legend Of Just About Everything... Including Laughter.
His tokayo, Frankie Llaguno, with no disrespect, will pay tribute to The Bard by reading his Sonnet on Laughter in the classic Shakespearean form.
Palanca's winningest Hall of Famer, Ed Maranan, won't manifest his stiff upper lip after working as information officer of the Philippine Embassy in London and editing its The Philippine Newsletter until 2006, however, will instead mock Bob Geldof's Boomtown Rats, with a shade of Joel Lamangan's sex drama, with his My Boom Town of Warat.
Anyway, any art or literary event will be incomplete without the von Trapp Family of Philippine culture – the Syjucos!
Always expect the Mom, performance artist par excellence Jean Marie taking photo and video but leave the unexpected to the Dad, Cesare, singing his Rain Song, after his Daughter, Maxine, explaining in verse What I Hadn't The Hands To Tell You.
Then, it's other Les Enfants Terrible's turn in Conchitina Cruz, Adam David, Marc Gaba, Mookie Katigbak, Angelo Suarez, and Lourd Ernest de Veyra.As usual, French won't take it sitting down.
Ambassador Thierry Borja de Mozota will also stand up and speak up via Jean La Fontaine's Les Animaux Malades De La Peste while Alliance Francaise Board member Markus Ruckstuhl agreed to Jacques Prevert's Pour Rire En Societe.

However, we are again torn between practising and preaching.
Especially, when the global comes in conflict with the regional.
Time-wise, at least.
Right after staging our history of nation's inebriation in Dito Po Sa Amin – translated into French by Prof. Rosalinde Fleur Zapata and interpreted by Danica Romero of the University of the Philippines' European Languages department -- we had to stay sober to catch the bus and the boat to The Marble Capital! Chairman Nicon Fameronag, as early as January, invited us to conduct a workshop but there was no time and place then.
Now, after three months, it is final.
The 6th RDL-CLEAR Writing Workshop on the Three Romblon Languages will be held at the Concepcion National High School (CNHS) in Sibale, Romblon, on March 26, 27 and 28.
RDL-CLEAR is no beauty product.
It stands for Romblon Discussion List-Cultural, Livelihood and Education Assistance for Romblon, an internet discussion group of expatriate Romblomanons.
The writing workshop is an annual literary activity which seeks to promote and preserve Asi, Unhan, and Ini—Romblon’s main languages—and to re-awaken the Romblomanons’ consciousness about their rich language heritage.
Kusog Sibalenhon, Inc. is an association of Romblomanons likewise engaged in cultural, economic, and welfare programs for the island of Sibale.
RDL-CLEAR has tapped Kusog to organize and host this year’s writing workshop. Kusog, in turn, has joined hands with CNHS to co-host.
He also assures us all is not work in the three-day activity since he repeatedly reminds us to bring our swimming and fishing gear.
Sibale, he reiterates, is better than Boracay.
C'est la vie!
Q: What is the best line in one of the most romantic movies of all time Jerry Maguire?
A: “Show me the money!”
Last week, I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, "God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen!" Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!" Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?" As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer." “Really?" my son asked. “Cross my heart," the man replied. Then, in a theatrical whisper, he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes." Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment, and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and, without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already."


Who is this artist who was able to draw oohs and aahs from the cream of the entertainment industry's crop?

He wowed even the Megastar herself -- Sharon Cuneta – to shout: "Ang galing-galing mo!"

Imagine he succeeded in amusing and amazing the equally amusing and amazing Rannie Raymundo who described the said writer:"Nothing short of brilliant."

The Outstanding Young Men award-winning speaker/author Bo Sanchez, after seeing him perform, was also quoted as saying: "The most entertaining puppet show I've ever watched."

After his gig, even the presidentiable – Sen. Manuel "Mar" Araneta Roxas II – was so impressed that he was ready to vote for him as the 15th president of the our shocked Republic.

No, he is not Jejomar Binay.

Jesusjosephmary, we are talking about Ronaldo Carcamo!

More popularly known as Ony, he is The Voice from the Belly.

A graduate of B.S. Electrical Engineering from Mapua Institute of Technology, he instead concentrated more on electrifying his readers -- as a sportswriter, columnist, cartoonist, scriptwriter,and advertising Creative Director.

Morever, his audiences -- as a full-time ventriloquist!

When we were looking for a direct translation of ventriloquism, while he was planning ahead for a series of shows, we found nothing.


Well, because we could trace its beginnings from 6th century B.C.

It could be our babaylan's medium in talking to the dead.

Asking Ony about his predecessor, he would rather recognize the contribution of Louis Brabant who was part of the court of the French King Francis the First.

During the time, they believed that “the spirits of the dead went to the stomachs of the prophets and continued to exist there.”
Especially, among those who can foretell the future by the spirits who were speaking from his or her belly.

That is why, "ventriloquist" literally means "belly speaker" in Latin.

Since soothsayers were able to perfect the art of belly speaking, they were believed to be fooling their listeners after claiming to have divine powers.

So, for the longest time, these voices from the belly were evil to the Christian church's ears.
Then came Fred Russell at the end of the 19th century.
A comedian with a dummy, Russell became known as the "father of modern ventriloquism" who would be followed by Edgar Bergen and his wooden dummy Charlie McCarthy in 1938, Buffalo Bob Smith and his cowboy dummy Howdy Doody hitting the boobtube during the 40s, and Shari Lewis and her hand puppet Lamb Chop topping the television ratings in the 1950s and 1960s.

On November 15, 1966, Ony Carcamo would be born in Sampaloc, Manila!

He was no “father of Philippine ventriloquism.”

In fact, in an interview, he gave credit to the son of Manuel Conde, “the father of Philippine independent films”: “My first vent inspiration was a local comedy icon named Jun Urbano. He's more commonly known here in the Philippines for his Mr. Shooli character. He was that character, not a puppet or figure. He's one of the very few vents here when I started learning the craft.”

“But the thing that really taught me vent,” he continued, “was the book Ventriloquism for Today by Paul Stadelmann. I believe it's still one of the best instructional vent books around. I was still in the advertising industry, a copywriter and Creative Director, when I started performing. When I turned pro, I left the corporate world and went full-time. Edgar Bergen and Paul Winchell were the two most influencial vents for me. I loved how they created their characters. I have so many vent friends around the world, thanks to the net! I especially love Uncle Bill DeMar, who's so inspiring and helpful. He taught me a lot of things, especially his Tape-Over-Mouth bit which is now my finale and highlight in almost all my shows.”

Ony began told us about his Other Self: “My main characters are all wood figures: Nonoy (a Hartz boy) and Mr. Parley (which I created). With these two figures I can do my full show. My other wood figure is Prof. Oke (a Hartz head-in-the-box). I have lots of Axtells puppets, too. I am happy that, in my little way, I have helped bring ventriloquism in public's attention, at least in our country. Though there were one or two local vents around when I started, I was the first to really put vent regularly in adult venues like comedy clubs, corporate events, etc.”

When asked about what makes him move on, he cited his citations: “I was lauded by the Philippine government -- through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts -- for my contribution in the local theater arts. I was the very first ventriloquist to be able to perform at the Cultural Center of the Philippines's Main Theater. I also won in the recent 2008 international Axtell Puppet Video Challenge, vent division.”

Ony, for your information, has his own book of poetry -- Ang Batang Nangarap Maging Isda (UP Press, 2006), a collection of poems written from 1985 to 2004.

During the 80s, we were together as part of the so-called Magnificent 7 – after surviving the Rio Alma Poetry Clinic -- who eventually became the founding members of the Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA).

As if in line with Kumon Reading Program Month or with a two-week free trial of its Reading Program, Ony flexed another literary muscle when he launched -- with Lampara Books -- his Ang Mga Tsismis Sa Baryo Silid, a story for children that won a Palanca Award in 1995.

On March 27, 8 p.m., at the Philippine Educational Theater Association Theater in Quezon City, Ony will collaborate with Brod Pete and magician/comedian Jeff Tam in another first of its kind stageshow called AMAGIKOMEDINAYT.

It is a combo of magic, comedy, music, and, yes, ventriloquism!

Again, it is us to know and for you to find out why legendary ventriloquist Russ Lewis (of Russo and Brooklyn fame) has finally met his match in Ony: "Magic perfectly placed into a really great puppet character, acting, smooth, warm, natural, didn't need to understand the language to enjoy the humor, exquisite timing, and the obvious pleasure of the audience which in itself summed up the performance. Truly enchanting ventriloquial artistry."

I was sad until I saw a man without two arms, shaking his shoulder and jumping with joy when I asked why he is happy. He replied, “I am not happy, my butt is sooooooooooooo itchy and, for hours, I've been dying to scratch it.”
Don’t strive to be happy but strive to be good. Because being happy is not always being good. For being good will always lead to being happy.

RIO ALMA WRITES ON (March 09, 2009)

Today Virgilio Senadren Almario, National Artist for Literature, turns 65.

Rio Alma is stepping down as University of the Philippines-Diliman's College of Arts and Letters (CAL)!

Last Thursday, CAL paid tribute to the said poet/critic/editor/translator as though paving the way -- to his ancestral home in San Miguel, Bulacan – hopefully to be converted into a museum called Bahay Bulawan by Fundacion Almario.

Festivities began when Ambagan: Kumperensiya sa Paglikom ng Salita mula sa Iba't Ibang Wika sa Pilipinas opened with University of the Philippines Diliman Chancellor, Sergio Cao, Sentro ng Wikang Filipino director Jovy Peregrino, conference chair Galileo Zafra, and him giving his keynote speech hailing Felipe Jose, Wenceslao Vinzons, Tomas Confesor, Hermenegildo Villanueva, Norberto Romualdez, and Jaime de Veyra as Mga Unang Bayani ng Wikang Pambansa.

Abdon Balde Jr., Teresita Maceda, Dialicia Caup, Ma. Crisanta Nelmida-Flores, Roberto Anonuevo, Minang Dirampatan-Sharief, Albina Fernandez, Jerry Gracio, Alex de los Santos, John Barrios, Purificacion Delima, Manuel Dulawan, and Carmen Abubakar were the presentors.
Before the Rio Alma exhibit opening, we found ourselves in between the publisher, Karina Bolasco of Anvil Publishing Inc., and him, the author of the revised edition of Filipino ng mga Filipino: mga Problema sa Ispeling, Retorika, at Pagpapayaman ng Wikang Pambansa.

A product of debates and discussions, it updates certain rules in using the Filipino language via his added articles to cover the latest problems and issues caused by the modernization of the national language.

Our role remains the same as in 1993 when it was first published, we played Gary “Vim”, parodizing Mr. Pure Energy's Di Na Natuto to pick on how crazy it is for us in never feeling guiltier in commiting mistakes in Filipino than in English.

However, since upon reading his re-vision, we saw a lot of points and counterpoints to ponder, so to speak, so we ended up delivering the “Dean Virgilio Senadren Almario Professorial Chair lecture.”

So provoking, for our thoughts and all, was that collection of 84 columns divided into four chapters: ANG HIRAP SA ATING MGA EDUKADO, SA DAIGDIG NG HIRAMAN, BULAKLAK NG KATUTUBONG DILA, and SA LIKOD NG PAKITANG-TAO.

He did not stop on p.228, but he went on with ULAT HINGGIL SA MGA FORUM SA ISPELING with a portion on the proper name for our country, that instead of the Tagalized Pilipinas, it ought to be Filipinas!

Perhaps, it is high time for U.P., for instance, after 100 years, to call itself U.F. or U. Fi?

Nevertheless, on the Faculty Center side of the University, all roads were leading to Hardin ng mga Diwata for Rio Alma's Hat Party.

Yes, hat not hot, since he had been wearing his now familiar black hat after he arrived from the United States, as if into a Balagtasan with Teo Antonio's fashion statement!

Of course, after Robin Rivera's band singing Rio Alma's favorite as a Beatlemaniac (and before the much-awaited Twist and Shout video with his apo from his panganay Asa Victoria) -- there was poetry reading, led by Armand Sta. Ana's Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation Inc. as well as Dr. Belen Calingacion with Dr. Flores, Prof. Vina Paz, Dr. Amparo Adelina Umali, Dr. Ruby Gamboa Alcantara, and U.P. Speca.

National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera and Dr. Luna Sicat Cleto reminisced as Rio Alma's former teacher and student, respectively.

And, upon the request of Dr. Wendell Capili and Prof. Regina Gochuico, we did a duet – right before the world-renowned U.P. Singing Ambassadors -- with his co-Associate Dean, Dr. Maricar Castro, with our adaptation of the Lennon-McCartney's In My Life with a slideshow of Rio Alma's photos, including some stolen shots of his cross-dressing days for the first Faculty Follies entitled Hagikhikan 2008 last December 18.

During what we would call “Euro Rio,” – we re-discovered Rio Alma after listening to the surprise number of Dr. Wystan de la Pena, our pianist, when almost their entire department read poems in different European languages while they projected the text with pictures on screen like a “poeMTV.”

Everyone was upstaged by the ever-elegant Gilda Cordero Fernando who performed a la Mother Lily when she presented her basketful of gifts (that even required the assistance of Anvil's Gwen Galvez) filled with all the Oriental fertility secrets from her Chinese suki in Cubao!
Not only for Rio Alma but for his wife, Emelina.

We were more concerned, though, with their bunso (long before Agno Virgilio), Ani Rosa, who is expecting her own baby after tying the knot with her Raya School's co-founder, C.P., son of Prof. Randy David and Karina Constantino.

Imagine the Mary-like pressure on her bearing -- the apo -- of the Apo Lakays in Philippine arts and sciences!

Her conception, not that immaculate though, could be the centerpiece for Rio Alma's autobiography Bunga ng Pangangailangan.

After Filipino ng mga Filipino, he is supposed to give birth to his own series' panganay -- Unang Siglo ng Nobela -- before his parallel research on Philippine theater, children's literature, and translation.

Rio Almanians are looking forward to his masterpiece Muling Pag-akda ng Bansa.

Anytime this year, he will launch his version of Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala as well as his second edition of UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino (whose database is created by the SWF and the U.P. Computer Science Department).

Whew, he did everything while serving as CAL dean responsible for, say, the construction or completion of buildings, faculty development programs, awards and recognitions, and such landmark projects as Komedya Festival 2008 and Sarsuwela Festival 2009.

To think, while editing BUL-OL: Bulawan Online he still finds time to teach Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) fellows who inducted its new officers: Phillip Kimpo Jr.(President); Francisco Monteseña (Vice-President ); Vivian Limpin (Secretary); Enrique Villasis (Treasurer); and Ynna Abuan (Public Relations Officer).
Madam Aurelia Carandang, what is your signature campaign for?

Last Saturday, during the wedding of Ramon and Rosa Jocson, as ninong he is sporting Atty. Redemberto Villanueva's birthday gift -- a brand-new brown hat!

On their 50th anniversary, the wife confessed that she cheated on him thrice.
The husband was saddened but still wanted to know when.
WIFE: “First, I slept with the Bank President to give you business loan. Second, I slept with Dr. James to operate on your heart.”HUSBAND: You did those to help me start up my business and save my life? How kind of
you. And the third time?
WIFE Remember when you wanted to be President of the golf club, but you were
35 votes short?
It is sad for a woman to reach an age where men consider her CHARMLESS,
But it is worst for a man to reach an age where women consider him HARMLESS.