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Friday, January 23, 2009

Aguinaldo Celebrates Bday in Lubuagan

24 January 1900. Emilio Aguinaldo turns 31 in Lubuagan, Kalinga  following a frantic escape from the pursuing Americans who had relentlessly tailed him from La Union and Ilocos and all the way through four present-day Cordillera provinces -- Ifugao, Mt. Province, Abra, and Kalinga. After establishing his seat of government in Lubuagan until May 17 of that same year,  he was forced to flee Kalinga with the enemy closing in from all directions and again narrowly escaped to Palanan, Isabela where he was finally captured on 23 March 1901.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lecture and Book Launching @ UPB


Title: "Understanding the Peopling of Benguet Through Oral Traditions, Ethnohistory and Archaeology"

Lecturer: by Dr. Michael Armand P. Canilao, Cordillera Studies Center (CSC) Research Associate.

Date/Time: 23 January 2009, 2.30 pm, UP Baguio Multi-Purpose Hall.


Launching, 22 January 2009 at 4:00 PM, UPB MPH. Ti Daga Ket Biag (Land is Life): Selected Papers from Three Cordillera Multi-sectoral Land Congresses (1983, 1994, 2001)

New book available from/sold @ CSC. Tawid: Celebrating 100 Years of Bontoc Township Experience

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Teacher's Dream Gadget

The Optoma Pico Pocket Projector PK101. Just the right thing for teachers who've had to break their backs and strain their arm sinews carrying bulky multimedia projectors to their classrooms.   But for many, this pocket-sized gadget may be too big for their pocketbooks. And some may eventually realize that what they want is not what they really need, or, to put it another way, that what they so feverishly dream of may not be what really matters in their waking hours. Or that, at times, sourgraping may actually be good for one's well-being.   :)

baig-optomax-largeDetails @ Edward Baig's site.

What Matters in a Journey

It is good to have an end to journey toward;

but it is the journey that matters, in the end.

- URSULA K. LEGUIN, quoted in Jack Heffron's The Writer's Idea Book (Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 2000), 6.

Filespeak (1)

"Purposive Coincidences"

Just before last Christmas, I promised to myself that by yearend I shall have checked all my students' papers, prepared the rest of my teaching materials, fixed all my files, and read at least three books.   Well, as anyone who knows me might predict, I was only able to do the last one, managing to devour five secular and religious tomes.  The others had to follow after New Year's Day, giving me my New Year's stress.  :)

Going through my files (piles, actually, that had accumulated over a few years, flitted with us from place to place as we transferred apartments, and remained mostly packed in dusty, roach eggs-infested cartons ) set me into several reflective modes as I recalled the grassy trails and well-paved roads I took since college, and the pleasant and unpleasant experiences that went with each choice.  There was much uncertainty in all these bittersweet periods of my life, but what has become certain to me thus far is that each failure and success has helped me prepare for the academic and non-academic pursuits I am presently engaged in; that  whatever coincidences I encountered were ultimately purposive.  A rolling stone in the past two decades can gather a little moss here and there, after all.

The Dutch medical doctor-writer, Hans C. Moolenburgh, wrote in his stirring book, As Chance Would Have It: A Study in Coincidences (Essex, UK: The C. Daniel  Company Limited, 1998):

For those people who long for the small, still voice and yet do not hear anything, the voice of coincidence often speaks loud and clear.

By observing coincidence conscientiously they become aware of the fact that life, though seemingly chaotic at first sight, is not such a haphazard business after all. Through the chaos or drabness of silence can catch glimpses of beautiful structures.  At one point it is only vague, dream-like, at another it is so intense that it translates itself into a feeling of 'I am being cared for.' (176-177)

I can relate to what Moolenburgh has to tell us, for I find it true that my "path of life... [has been] a walk from What to Who" (179).


An Ex-LGOO Looks Back

A short but fruitful stint with DILG was one of the several sidetrips I've made, during which the rigid training  for  the 44th Batch of LGOOs (Local Government Operations Officers) I had to undergo made  me appreciate  deeply why this officership course is regarded by insiders as "the golden band that binds DILG people'" and why it is often said, "Once a DILG woman/man, always a DILG man/woman."

radyo-aralanPhase I of the training was such a hemorrhagic ("nosebleeding," to my students) exercise  with all the thick modules we were required to master ranging from the history of the Department that goes back to the days of the great  revolutionary Andres Bonifacio, the PACD (Presidential Assistant on Community Development) period of the late '50s and '60s  which always had a nostalgic ring to it  when spoken about  by some old-timers, and the many-tentacled form the DILG has now become with  the  PNP, BJMP, BFP, and PPSC (along with the LGA, of course) being brought under the command of the SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government), to the various laws and directives as well as the  programs, projects, and activities we were expected to fully know or take part in after our induction.

Phase II, the Field Immersion, was expectedly of a more practical nature consisting  of  observing  how the DILG operates at the grassroots level, and working with barangay officials on the implementation of certain government projects.  In our case, we were tasked to help actualize what were then regarded as "flaship projects of the Department" -- the Gabay sa Mamamayan Action Center (GMAC), Bayanihan Savings Replication Project (BSRP), and the Barangay Tanod Professionalization Program (Phase I - Radyo Aralan). It was such an ambitious task for greenhorns like me, being expected at times  to know what you don't know.bsrp

Yet, with all the various types of "information diarrhea" we had to suffer, the  organizational leg- and paperwork we had to accomplish, and our frustrations -- even near-disillusionment -- over the results of top-down decision-making at the national level, the whole  experience was for me and my batchmates a rare opening to a great hall of specialized education, a passage to a higher level of maturity, a test of genuine camaraderie, and a thrilling ride through the fields of community service to which we eventually (or supposedly) would go back to.

gmacAfter two unforgettable years with the Department, I had to bid goodbye to a promising career as part of my quest for meaning and fulfilment. What a waste! relatives, friends and superiors  have told me many times, puzzled at why I should resign from a job where I seemed to fit in quite well. But looking back,  I don't have any regrets at all.  For it was a sidetrip taken and ended willingly, fully wept over and enjoyed  fully.

True, I will somehow miss all the familiar fixtures in that house that sheltered and nurtured me during one of my sidetrips: the  doors of learning and sharing; the compassion, friendship, and wisdom of those who have been to me a mother, a father, a sister, and a brother. But the memories remain: the pride of being part of "DILG Proper," the honor of serving with or working under the watchful eye of women and men better than me in a lot of ways, the shared caring  among real friends I would never have met had I not gotten off the main road during my journey, and the  inspiration drawn from the unacknowledged heroism of many at the frontlines of community service and development.


I came across my notes during our LGOO-ship training, one of which contains 10 marks of a "Reinvented Government," to wit:

Catalytic Government: Steering rather than Sowing

Community-owned Government: Empowering Rather Than Serving

Competitive Government: Injecting Competition Into Service Delivery

Mission-driven Government: Transforming Rule-driven Organization

Results-oriented Government: Funding Outcome, not Input

Customer-driven Government: Meeting Needs of the Customer, not the Bureaucracy

Enterprising Government: Earning Rather Than Spending

Anticipatory Government: Prevention Rather Than Cure

Decentralized Government: From Hierarchy to Participation and Teamwork

Market-oriented Government: Leveraging Change Through the Market

I wonder how our present government measures up to these? If other organizations (churches, schools, etc.) were to measure themselves against these 10 principles, how  would they fare? :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009


caregiverMaganda! (beautiful) was all that some movie fans could say when asked by the media about Sharon Cuneta's  film,  "Caregiver," which was released July of last year but which my wife and I only got to watch  at home last night.  I had thought that the thumbs up the movie got from many viewers  was simply whipped up by media hype, and by the usual devotion of some kababayan to cheap, rehashed romantic stories and the maudlin.  After watching it, however, I must now give it even the big-toes  up :) as I did to La Visa Loca" (2005), the only Robin Padilla film I really appreciated.

Let me share with you the notable quotes  I got from this film about the life of Filipino carers in the U.K., as well as my reflections on these...


The story starts with this narration:

Some people reach places in their lives they never planned to go. They think they know where they are going, but the destination turns out different from expected.  Some don't even realize they've already reached the place.  They still seem lost. Something tells them to keep walking, that the distance is just up ahead.  Often when we walk that road, the footprints behind us disappear, because we're creating new paths each time.

I guess we all could relate to this observation.  For me, though, as I look back to my 33 years on earth I still see my footprints along the trails -- several footprints show confusion and hesitation, some had me retracing old paths,  a few saw me leaving the trail or the main road, and still others mark where I leaped and landed, skipped and skidded, danced and dashed.


In one of their usual spats, Sarah (Sharon Cuneta) tells her crabby hubby, Teddy (John Estrada):

...we've changed countries, but we're still the same!

Those of us who have had an "OFW experience" understand this truism quite well.  No matter which country we go to, we often take with us our quirks and twists most of which eventually get us into trouble.  We admire the few whose move to other lands also meant their climb to higher levels of maturity.


Teddy, a self-pitying registered nurse who works as a health care assistant (euphemism for garbage/utility errand boy), complains to his friend Joseph (Jhong Hilario), a certified doctor in the Philippines who ended up as a nurse in London, about the unfair treatment he is getting from the hospital administration. He should be instated as a nurse, he says, because in the first place he's got more brains that most of the boot-licking nurses around him. Joseph replies:

Brains is not the only criteria in adaptation. you have to know how to get along with others...

Kurak ka jan. :)  High IQ does not automatically translate to high EQ, and like a bow without arrows, IQ without EQ is nothing.


William Morgan (Saul Reichlin) is a lonely and grouchy ex-newspaper honcho who is left by his two kids at a nursing home under the care of the winsome Sarah who, of course, eventually gains his affection.

Mr. Morgan just had a tense moment with his beady-eyed daughter who was demanding that he sell the family's ancestral home to make sure everything would be in order before he kicks the bucket. Margaret Morgan (Claire Jeater) leaves in a huff, muttering "You're impossible," and leaving her old man distraught.  Sarah was witness to all these, and consoles Mr. Morgan who says to her:

"It's funny. You never know how your children are going to turn out. One day they're helpless little things who depend on you for everything, and then the next day, they're telling you how to run your life like you stopped having a mind of your own.  I know how hard you work for your boy, Sarah.  I hope the same thing doesn't happen to you.

That reminds me of the quote,

The first half of your life is controlled by your parents; the second half, by your children.

If I live long enough to see my children long after they had left our little nest, I may be able to fully realize what these two quotes could mean to an old man. I keep thinking that my siblings and I have a hard time keeping my aged and limping but strong-willed mother from going out of the house solo, but it must have been harder for her to understand why we don't allow her to do as she pleases these last days of her checkered life.

Just before he died Mr. Morgan tells Sarah while he lay on his bed in his country mansion:

Remember you said to me you had a thankless job? Well, sometimes, when you least expect it, someone will come into your life and make you feel less lonely, less alone. For me, you were that person. You care for people. You give them what they've lost to life down the years -- their dignity, and hope, and joy, and even fun. There are not many jobs in the world that can top that. So, Sarah Gonzales, I say to you, 'Thank you. Job well done.'

Such much-longed for yet rare expression of deep gratitude in the sometimes dreary world of the OFWs beautifully enunciates the invaluable contribution of our kababayan to the making of a more sensitive world. The special touch of our caregivers abroad gives the oft-mentioned term "Filipinizing the world" a pleasant connotation. May movies like this be watched not only by Filipinos but also by Westerners as well.

Mr. Morgan's parting gift to Sarah is a well-kept first edition of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles and this letter:

My Dear Sarah,

You've always said that everything you do is for your husband and your son. Well, they're lucky men indeed to have you as a wife and mother. And I was lucky to have you as my carer. But I want you never to forget that you are a person too, Sarah. And it is vital that you live your own life, and do things that make you feel alive. If I have one wish, it is that you grow old and happy and without regrets.

Goodbye, my lovely Sarah.

Your grumpy, old friend

William Morgan

Related post: "PTs, Pittance, Pity"


Teddy finally calls it quits and decides to go back to the Philippines with Sarah. Minutes before boarding their flight, however, Sarah thinks twice and tells her husband that she's staying.  The conversation that follows sheds insights on marital relationships:

Sarah: If you failed, why do you have to drag me down with you?...

Teddy: Because I'm your husband. Where I am is where you should be.

Sarah: Not anymore, Teddy. Even here, I don't have a husband to go home to because you don't care about me. Ted, I'm tired of coming to your aid all the time. I take care of other people, but who's taking care of me? No one.

Teddy: Whether you like it or not, we're leaving.

Sarah: No. I can carry this myself. Let me go, Ted.

Teddy: Sarah, please. Let's start anew.

Sarah: I already started over, Ted. Even without you. Plans and dreams aren't enough.We have to work for our dreams, Ted. We have to struggle. I achieved something here. I achieved something a long time ago.. But you didn't see it. Why didn't you notice it? Why didn't you value it?

Teddy: You can't leave me.

Sarah: Ted, I can. I'm done. I'm done being your wife...

The feisty Sarah we see in this scene is a picture of the modern Filipina who refuses to be imprisoned within the slimy walls of patriarchy and who is no longer afraid to stake her rightful claim to the blessings of life, even if that meant going for it all by herself.

On the other hand, Teddy is the perfect image of a Filipino husband who thinks that his wife is a mindless hag whose primary responsibility is to serve her slave driver  24/7.  It is a shame that in the Philippines, a lot of religious folks even misuse the Bible to justify their chauvinist practices and projects both at home and in church.

May more and more Filipinas stand up against marital tyranny or abuse! :) Kababaihan, huwag magpakamartir sa gitna ng pambabastos sa inyong dignidad!

Related posts: "Diana," "Of Women and Peace"


The movie ends with this narration:

Why are we afraid to jump into the uncertain? How will we know what's waiting for us, if we don't step into the dark? Without a first step, how can we move forward?

Mr. Morgan was right. If fear overtakes us, how can we even begin to wrestle with life?

See related quote from "The World's Fastest Indian" here.


"Caregiver" also gives space to the role of religion in the life of OFWs.  Despite all our misgivings towards the Church, the fact remains that in the most desperate moments of an OFW's life, the Church becomes her/his refuge. The Beijing International Christian Church, for example, has become a symbol of caring and security for many Filipino ESL teachers for whom we "feel sorry for the way  things are in China." :)


Fresh from Sunday worship, Teddy warns Sarah not to associate with Filipina maids.  This brief scene captures one ugly side of the Filipino psyche -- ethnocentrism and uppityism.

Related post: "Francesca I," "Francesca II," "Call Centers and Racism," "Re: Call Centers & Racism," "A Columnist's Woes,"


Sarah depicts the success story of an OFW, while Teddy is a personification of the shattered dreams of ex-OFWs.  Now, it is easy to judge Teddy as an egoistic sore loser. But for  those of us who once strove to find creative ways to cope with the loneliness, pain, and frustrations of living and working abroad, we can sympathize with his plight.  For when disillusionment sets in while you're in a foreign country,  even the mere thought of finally going home can keep you from losing your mind.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Debunking Paranormal Feats

Each new year churns out religious and irreligious cranks and crooks who dupe people into believing in their hocus-pocus masquerading as "psychic" readings and other out-of-this-world "feats."

But as you probably know, almost anybody can be a psychic of sorts. For starters, work on a "cold reading" career by using the "Ten Easy Psychic Lessons" by famed myth debunker Michael Shermer (for details, click here):

1. Set the stage for an intimate, comfortable, experience. Establish your Psychic authority with props such as important looking charts, or bookcases full of reference books.

2.Project a sympathetic personality. Put your client in a receptive, cooperative mood by explaining that a reading is a team effort.

3. There are seven things people most want to talk about: love, Health, Money, Career, Travel, Education, & Ambition. Stick to these themes by asking a lot of questions and making plenty of statements from each category. This will also help you remember where you are in the reading.

4. Start with the “Barnum” reading that offers something for everyone.

5. After general statements, you can begin to home in on specifics that apply to most people by referencing such things as jewelry from a deceased family member, toys, books, mementos, etc. and peculiarities about the person.

6. Extract information from your client by disguising questions as statements.

7. Appeal to the authority of ancient wisdom and mysterious secrets by peppering your reading with esoteric jargon.

8. Don’t be shy about using a little scientific knowledge from psychology or sociology to deduce your  client’s concerns.

9. Don't forget the obvious. Flatter your subjects. Tell them what they want to hear.

10. Have your excuses ready. Turn every outcome to your advantage.

It just took a day or so for Shermer to master cold reading, but of course, an average person like me may  be able to master this skill only after the 999th practice. :)

Uri Geller is a cheat known for his so-called "psychokinetic ability." Shermer explodes the Geller Myth with the following demonstration  (be sure to read his related article entitled, "HOW TO BEND A SPOON WITH JUST YOUR MIND"):


Along with Shermer, my two other favorite debunkers are James Randi (website: James Randi Educational Foundation), and Andre Kole (website: Old-timers of Baguio City may remember Kole well for exposing the fraudulent "healing sessions" of the city's former mayor, Jun Labo.


Something to chuckle about: Kim Remesch's "Scientists Say Everyone Has ESP"


One of Andre Kole's earlier performances...

Thursday, January 1, 2009


SEC Registration # CN 2009 31845


  A community of ethnically rooted, culturally relevant, socially engaged, and globally competitive young Kalinga professionals.


 Provide a venue for intellectual discussions, career advancement, social activities, and community service primarily geared towards addressing pressing issues or concerns of the Kalinga.

Create a network of diasporic young Kalinga professionals aimed at highlighting the positive contributions of Kalingas to their respective workplaces and neighborhoods.


Knowledge is the basis of action. It is meant to be probed and shared, not deified and hoarded. It must be used to promote individual and collective welfare.
 Accountability is our watchword in our transactions. We shall manage our resources responsibly and shall not exploit group trust for personal profit.
 Leadership is a collegial affair. We adhere to a flat organizational structure. We seek to be proactive and to empower our members regardless of gender or social status.
 Indigeneity is at the core of our identity. We strive to remain grounded in our indigenous roots even within the jungles of an urban space. We exist to help preserve and enrich Kalinga indigenous knowledge, systems and practices.
 Non-partisanship is our policy in our programs and projects. We exist not to advance an exclusivist political or religious ideology. We shall actively take part in community affairs, but shall not be beholden to any politician, preacher or pundit.
 Goodwill is what we offer to the community at large. We value reconciliation over revenge, cooperation over competition. We declare that everywhere is a matagoan zone – a sphere of life, peace, justice, and freedom.
 Ambition drives our movement. We are agents of change and development in society. We will keep the balance between self-­respect and vainglory, idealism and realism.

Bombo Melchor Balawas
SPO2 Marissa Dirige
 Atty. Christopher Donaal 
LGOO Anabelle Laron
Mr. Johnny Maymaya, Jr.
Ms. Annielyn Pucking 
Mrs. Lucia Ruiz


Scott Magkachi Saboy, President
Bernadette Balway, Vice President
Carla Poleen Rosito, Secretary
Roger Sa-ao, Treasurer
Reyneth Yag-ao Alsiyao, Auditor
Mae Rosito, Business Manager
Bombo Jesse Maguiya, Press Relations Officer

A Different Lens

Something to ponder upon this new year... :)