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Friday, October 30, 2009

A Snappy Salute to our Pilots!

Call them "Epoy," with a sneer.  Tell them they have the most laughable helicopters in the world (certainly not because our government cannot afford to buy the most sophisticated ones, but because funds meant for our armed forces' modernization plans have been misused for decades).

But the Filipino military pilots have become legendary for their flying skills especially as they snake along narrow valleys  and maneuver somewhere in the hinterlands whether during combat  operations or disaster relief missions.   Their  "A1" ingenuity in making the most out of their Vietnam War vintage UH–1H (Huey) helicopters is also laudable.

During the recent typhoon disasters, they have provided countless logistical support to chiefly civilian relief efforts.  In Benguet, the ever–proactive Governor Nestor Fongwan has been coordinating with the military on the delivery of sacks of rice and other goods needed by hundreds of typhoon victims in the province.

Below are photos of two of our military helicopters taken on 20 October 2009 at the Benguet State University (BSU) grounds.

BSU2 sms photo

BSU7 sms photo

BSU7 sms photo

BSU3 sms photo

BSU9 sms photo

BSU8 sms photo

BSU10 sms photo

BSU 1 sms photo

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tani Ato, Twin Peaks Landslide

Tano Ato, smsIf Tani Ato were a celebrity, his tragic story would have  merited a running news story in the national papers.  But he is not, so his grief will have to be immediately lost  in the nation’s  frenzy for the most explosive showbiz scandal and the next presidential polls.

If Tani Ato were a writer, he would have told of how he metaphorically wrote 30 at 73, when the recent typhoon conspired with tons of earth to bury six of his kins at Twin Peaks.  He would have graphically  described how his tears raged as he frantically dug up his dead, how he washed them clean, and how he buried them in a row of tombs close to his house. But he is not, and all he could do is tell the nosy in unadorned speech about how he lost  Ambrosio, 49 ; Oliver, 27; Patricia, 30;  Gloria, 27; Keithley, 4; and Jamaica, 9 (mos.).

If Tani Ato were a preacher, he would have waxed eloquent on theodicy and eschatology exhorting people that the disaster is simply the will of God, and all he must do is to have a deeper  faith in the inscrutable wisdom of Divine Providence and to be forewarned of Armageddon and be assured of Heaven. But he is not, and he is still probably wondering why he had to bury his own children and grandchildren and if in his remaining years on earth he will have to bury too his other surviving relatives, with none left to bury him.

He didn't have to lecture me about coping with tragedy.  I could see how, after being battered by a storm, he has striven to get on with his life: I could see it in the deep lines of his face, in the unpracticed way he pointed at the encased photos of his dead loved ones; I could hear it in his simple retelling of a nightmare that, from hereon, would haunt him during every heavy downpour at night.

He is just one of those hundreds of residents in Tuba, Benguet who will have to nurse a wound in the heart for the rest of their lives.  He is just one of those thousands of voiceless, faceless victims of calamities across the country whose harrowing struggles with the random changes in life must be shared with the rest of the world if only to make us more humble, sensitive, compassionate, generous,  just, thankful.

Twin Peaks 8 sms photo

Twin Peaks 9 sms photo


The road to Twin Peaks...

Twin Peaks 1

Twin Peaks 2, sms photo

Twin Peaks 3, sms photo

Twin Peaks 5 sms photo

Five years ago, I covered the inauguration of this new modular bridge in Tuba, Benguet for DILG–CAR's official publication, Gongs and Drums.  Everyone was jubilant then, for the bridge primarily meant easier transport of goods from the vegetable farms  to the market.  Now, the bridge was used by grief−stricken villagers to transport their muddy dead.

Abigail Daculan, also a former Local Government Operations Officer (LGOO)  and now our school nurse at UP Baguio, was back to her usual Community Organizing stance as she helped distribute relief goods  (thanks to the UP Baguio Community and Café by the Ruins) directly to the affected families.

Twin Peaks 4 sms photo

Twin Peaks 6 sms photo

Twin Peaks 13 sms photo

Twin Peaks 14 sms photo

Twin Peaks 15 sms photo

Twin Peaks 16 sms photo

Twin Peaks 18 sms photo

Twin Peaks 19 sms photo

Twin Peaks 20 sms photo

Twin Peaks 21 sms photo

Twin Peaks 22 sms photo

Twin Peaks 23 sms photo

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PGMA Champions BCC Forest Park

[caption id="attachment_3299" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="This large "thank you" note and at least 10 other similar streamers now decorate the contested forest park beside the Baguio Convention Center (BCC). PGMA's order barring any plan to plant high-rise buildings in the area should finally make GSIS and SM redirect their joint business interests elsewhere. sms photo"]Forest Park[/caption]

Related Article: "Kids Thank PGMA for Saving Forest Park"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wiyo Susunod un Kalinga Young Pro's (Baguio and Benguet)!


Siasino? AMIN DAGITI YKALINGA NGA YOUNG PROFESSIONALS DITOY BAGUIO KEN BENGUET ["Young" ka no saan ka pay nga agtawen iti 46, ken "professional" ka basta naggraduarka iti Voc/Tech nga kurso wenno College degree, adda man trabahom wenno awan].


Kasano ngay diay KALPRA? Makitinnulong tayo a iti KALPRA, it being the de facto umbrella organization of all Kalinga groups in Baguio and Benguet. Mayat koma no mapabileg tay pay ti panagkakaduatayo babaen iti kastoy nga organisasyon. Adu ti mabalin tay  nga maaramidan karkaro ta kas kuna ni mam Lucia Ruiz ken Annielyn Pucking, adda nasurok nga 10,000 nga Kalinga young professionals ditoy Baguio ken Benguet.

Kaanu ngay ngarud ken sadinno? 5pm, 30 October 2009, Lin–awa Center for Culture and Arts, 203 Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio City

Bernadette Balway, Froilan Calsiyao, Ma. Teresa Ganongan, Annielyn Pucking, and I initially met yesterday night (23 October '09)  at the Lin–awa Center to discuss the prospects of organizing a group as this.  The result of the discussion will be shared with those attending the 30 October meeting.

Umaykayo kakabsat! :)



lin awa 1I had never heard of Lin–awa until last week when I attended the wake of William Dannang at the Cathedral of the Resurrection where I met Mrs. Ruiz, Bernadette and Annielyn.  (It was then that they broached the idea of forming an organization for all young Kalinga professionals in Baguio and Benguet.) I discovered that we shared the same passion for the enrichment of Kalinga indigenous knowledge systems and practices, and that they have long been active in promoting Kalinga, or Igorot culture in general, here and abroad.  More importantly, I learned that  this NCCA–accredited institution has been conducting workshops  on Kalinga dances and instruments, aside from providing scholarship assistance to members of  its group of peformers and helping document of  indigenous knowledge.  For me, a teacher who needs to re–learn the intricacies of his culture and a father anxious about his children forgetting their indigenous roots in the concrete jungle of the city, finding Lin–awa is truly exhilarating.

Related article: "Three Cordi youth to join 'First Voices' in Canada"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Erap and the 2010 Polls

EXTRA! EXTRA! Erap to Run in 2010 Polls!!!



Erap: "This is the last performance of my life."

Great.  Politics is showbiz after all.  The next presidential election is his "last full show" where he, the beleaguered silver screen hero, gets to rise from the ashes of his incinerated foes thus immortalizing his iconic existence in the hearts of his adoring fans. [Background Music:   Charles Tindley's "(I) Shall Overcome"]


The point in Erap's Arthro ad: He could barely run.


Erap and most other presidentiables are experts at generalizations.  They hear the rah–rah–rah siz–bom–bah from their bailiwicks  (or their bootlicking minions), and think it's the whole nation cheering them on.


Some think Erap is the country's last best hope. Ay apo met, agpanunot tay met ah kakabsatNeh, buyaen tay kadi daytoy barbareng adda mapili tayo a natartaraki pay nga artista kas next President op da Shubisripablik hehe:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Do as the Chinese Do

Dào shénme shān shàng, Chàng shénme gē. ("When you go climbing up their mountain, you've got to learn to sing their songs." – Bryan Todd's translation)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Learning Putonghua @ Hotel Supreme

40 Chinese and non–Chinese individuals took their first Mandarin/Putonghua (pinyin) lessons at Hotel Supreme on 17 October 2009  from 3:00 –5:00 pm. They are expected to continue their language classes over the next seven Saturdays.

Hosted by the Baguio Filipino–Cantonese Association (BFCA) under the leadership of Hotel Supreme manager Peter Ng, the free crash course is into its second batch of learners.  The first batch was offered only to Filipino–Chinese learners, and had 15 enrollees only four of whom eventually finished the course.  CPA–Lawyer Cristeta Leung and Linda Loma-ang are teaching the course.

The first session introduced Chinese numbers and personal pronouns using the inductive approach to language learning in which  the participants were first given a "feel" of the target language and allowed to figure out Mandarin grammar, phonetics and syntax minus the usual standard classroom lecture. To reinforce the learning points for the day, kiddie songs were taught to the learners toward the end of the session.

Session 1 Songs

1. Shige Xiao Pengyou ("10 Little Friends," round song sang to the tune of  "10 Little Indian Boys")

yīge, liăng ge, sānge péngyou

sìge, wŭge, lìuge péngyou

qīge, bāge, jiŭge péngyou

shíge xiăo péngyou

2. Wode Pengyou Zai Nali ("Where is My Friend?"; sang to the tune of  "Where is Thumbman?")

yī, èr, sān, sì, wŭ, liù qī...

wŏde péngyou zài nălĭ?

zài zhèlĭ!

zài nălĭ?

wŏde péngyou zài zhèlĭ!

Learn Putonghua online @ . Get helpful L2 learning tips from Bryan Todd @

Friday, October 16, 2009

UCCP's "Joseph the Dreamer" Musicale @ SLU

Two weeks ago, my wife and I took our two kids to watch the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)–Baguio's musicale, "Joseph the Dreamer" at the Saint Louis University (SLU) Center for Culture and the Arts (CCA).

It was a delightful treat with all its 17 songs rendered in an enthralling mix of pop, rap and praise — the serious and the comic,  the classical and the contemporary, the liturgical and the spontaneous.  Its creative appropriation of a foreign theme for a Pinoy audience connects with today's generation for whom a Charles Heston–era retelling of ancient Hebrew stories has become soporific.

All performers virtually form a cross section of the Baguio community — teens and elderlies, students and professionals, academics and business folk, private individuals and government officials.  This demonstrates how Christian ministry can effectively meld with social involvement or public service.

What is most impressive to me about this musicale is the willingness of two distinct Christian institutions — a CICM–run school and an Evangelical church — to work together in packaging a gift to our 100–year old city and its multiethnic denizens.

May we continue to see more interdenominational work among Christians in the city.

UCCP Joseph the Dreamer



The Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM) began its work in the Philippines in 1908.  It recently produced a docu, "The CICM Legacy in the Philippines," a mini–version of which can be viewed @ cicmphil100.  Among the CICM priests who have helped enrich Igorot ethnography and Cordillera Studies in general  were Fr.  Francis Lambrecht and Fr. Francisco Billiet whose  works, Kalinga Ullalim and Ifugao Orthography, "immensely contributed to the growing repertoire of Cordillera folk songs"  (Saboy 1997, 7).

Meanwhile, the UCCP was established in 1948 as an "organic union" mainly of the following denominations: Presbyterian Church, the Philippine Methodist Church, the Evangelical United Brethren, the Congregational Church, and the Christian Church/Church of Christ (Disciples of Christ).  For a backgrounder on this nationalistic church, see "The United Church of Christ in the Philippines: Historical Locations, Theological Roots, and Spiritual Commitment" and "Unity in Diversity: The Birth of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines" respectively written by Mariano C. Apilado and Isagani V. Deslate (see Kwantes 2001, 335– 358;  2002,  28–56). Among their more prominent members today are  the likeable Juan Flavier, the venerable Jovito Salonga, and the indefatigable Fidel Ramos.



Joseph is such an  intriguing Biblical character that one Hexateuch (Genesis–Joshua) expert has this patriarch pictured as an icon of forgiveness in contrast with the image of a God who needed gradual "moral education" by his own creatures  (Segal 2007).  The very idea surely raises eyebrows especially among the more conservative wings of  Islam, Judaism and Christianity, but this scholar's work as a whole is an interesting read for those  who wish to have a peek into how different interpretive communities struggle with sacred texts.

Andrew Bard Schmookler probes into Segal's speculation @, and Rabbi Mier Kahane engages Segal in a debate the first part of which is shown below:

segalThe Joseph story is about love and jealousy, and crime and guilt, about loss and pain, and transformation and forgiveness.  In contrast to the Cain and Abel account, what is dramatically different in the Joseph story is that Joseph is both the long–suffering victim and the powerful figure who, remembering his own victimization, must decide whether to punish or forgive.

Joseph never seriously considers retribution. Rather, acting almost as a drama therapist, he leads them into a symbolically related journey that changes them. Theirs is not a total transformation, but as Judah's actions demonstrate, it is one of significance.  And in this depiction of the sinner and his capability of change, there is important validation of the place of forgiveness within the moral order, even when justice would have indicated punishment. (Segal 2007, 23)

Works Cited:

Kwantes, Anne C., ed. Chapters in Philippine Church History. Manila: OMF Literature Inc., 2001.

__________________ . Supplement to Chapters in Philippine Church History. Manila: OMF Literature Inc., 2002.

Saboy, Anatalia M. Indigenous Ethnic Songs of the Cordilleras. Manila: NCCA, 1997.

Segal, Jerome M. Joseph's Bones: Understanding the Struggle Between God and Mankind in the Bible. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Efrenia Fé A. Maclean: Insights from a Diasporic Ilokano's Success Story

macleanIlokana teacher and writer Monica Supnet Macansantos notes in her paper, “Crossing Geographic Boundaries: Transporting the Ilokano Homeland,” that for the diasporic Ilokano “moving away… is not an act of abandoning one’s home, one’s heritage, but… a way of adding to the community’s history, by grabbing, like the Ilokano epic hero Lam-ang, the chance to become heroic…”¹

This is true for Efrenia Fé A. Maclean, an Ilokana from Bacarra, Ilocos Norte who was at UP Baguio on 05 October 2009 to share insights from her successful teaching career abroad in a lecture on “Language, Culture, and Identity.”

She has made a name for herself in the U.S.A as a teacher and educator for over thirty years now. Three of the awards she recently received are the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, Fullbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program (Japan), and Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She is also featured, along with two American teachers,  in The Learning Classroom: From Theory to Practice, a  documentary film cum multimedia instructional material jointly produced by  the Annenberg Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Starting out in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a highly effective kindergarten teacher in the early ‘70s, she went on to build a distinguished career being a curriculum developer for the bilingual/bicultural education program in Hawaii, gradeschool teacher in Michigan, National Science Foundation (NSF) fellow, Reading First facilitator with the Michigan Department of Education, and presently an associate member of the Washington-based  Teacher Advisory Council under the aegis of The National Academies.

Maclean’s professional track record bears imprints of her Ilokano identity. Her early exposure to a multiethnic society, for instance, enabled her to treat her Black, Hispanic  and White students fairly at a time when racial discrimination was rife in America.  And at a time when teaching “Culture” in America was tantamount to stereotyping other cultures, she offered a “horizontal” approach for studying culture – "there’s just one race, only different ways of life."  One way she instilled this concept in class was through a “family tree” project in which her students learned lessons on cultural commonality and diversity.  Of course, it was natural then for her to teach her students a traditional boardgame called sungka, the Philippine version of the African mancala or the Indonesian congklat.  Coming from a very “musical culture,” she also had the chance to introduce songs from the Philippines to first graders who at the time were not really expected nor taught in school to sing “with the right tune,” a skill which was supposed to be developed in higher grades.

Growing up in a rural school where students regularly and successfully competed with those in the urban centers also helped, for her first teaching assignment was in a rural school where most lived below the poverty line. Here, she had the chance to help boost the learning competence of students normally not expected to excel academically, thus proving that poor children could compete with their more privileged peers.

Her being kuripot (frugal) paid both material and non-material dividends too: discardable things became award-winning teaching materials that proved more durable and practical than the commercialized ones; recycled papers which a nearby factory deemed useless became valuable scrap books showcasing children’s creative works; neglected stacks of wood were turned into sturdy benches and desks through a parent-child-teacher cooperative project, which instilled pride and a sense of ownership among “Section 2"  gradeschoolers who did not get enough furniture as those in “Section 1” did. Owing to a sound training at the Philippine Normal College, she was averse to the idea of segregating “smart and not-so-smart students” into different classes, and did her best to provide avenues of learning to all regardless of the section they belonged.

“When one always buys things, when one always depends on others, he becomes lazy,” she would remind her pupils. Her class learned to be productive, economizing on the use of available resources and optimizing time. Guided by one who walked her talk, the children developed the habit of saving used or throw-away things for some projects and doing things without being told.  Here, she would inject the Ilocano concept of being manakem (sense of responsibility, precociousness; from nakem = roughly, “conscience”).

In these and other snapshots of her teaching career, Fé Maclean concretizes the fact that, as she put it, a Filipino’s “American experience… is a product of what he brings and the circumstances he encounters in the United States.  He uses language to participate in the immediate culture he finds himself in and chooses his own identity.”

No doubt, the identity she had as a top Philippine Normal College graduate about 40 years ago is far different from the “Filipino-American” that she is now.  But there is no doubt that  a diasporic Ilokano like her continues to extend abroad the reach of an identity commonly and chiefly characterized by frugality, self-reliance, resourcefulness, and productivity.

So she is home even when far from home. For America may be in her name, but Ilocos is always in her heart.


¹ Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, et al., eds., Sukimat: Proceedings of the 2007–2008 Nakem Conferences (Batac, Ilocos Norte: Nakem Philippines, 2009), 88.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dominican-QM Landslide (Baguio City)

A midnight landslide last Friday (09 Oct 09) crumpled three houses along the Dominican Hill-QM border in Baguio City, killing four  people  [not five as earlier posted, see comment] and displacing four families.

[caption id="attachment_3185" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="smsaboy photo"]QM Landslide[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3186" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="smsaboy photo"]Upper QM Landslide 1[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3187" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="smsaboy photo"]Upper QM Disaster 2[/caption]

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Language, Culture, and Identity" Lecture

Language, Culture, and Identity:

A Perspective from a Fil-Am Educator


by Ms. Efrenia Fe A. Maclean

Visiting Educator from the U.S.

05 October 2009

2 P.M.

UP Baguio Multi-Purpose Hall

Hosted by UPB's

Graduate Committee/Sentro ng Wikang Filipino

of the College of Arts and Communication

[caption id="attachment_3170" align="aligncenter" width="454" caption="OBLATION, UP BAGUIO (sms photo, 28 Sept09)"]OBLATION UP BAGUIO[/caption]

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Two New Works on Kalinga

Markus Balázs Göransson has just completed his thesis for his MA in Conflict Studies and Human Rights.  The title of his research is "The Power of Peace Pacts in Struggle: The role of the bodong system in the Kalingas’ mobilisation against the Chico River Dam project in the Cordillera Mountains, the Philippines."

Meanwhile, Tom Kips is delivering a public lecture on the decline of Kalinga tattooing tradition on 8 October 2009 at the CSC Research Laboratory (see below). Tom  is pursuing his MA in Cultural Anthropology.

Both are graduate students of Utrecht University and research affiliates of UP Baguio's Cordillera Studies Center (CSC).

Short reviews of their works will be posted on this blog later.


Fragments of a City's History Book Review

Not just a source of historical trivia
By Scott Saboy

Philippine Daily Inquirer []

First Posted 00:57:00 09/02/2009
Filed Under: history, Books

Fragments of a City’s History
Edited by Delfin Tolentino Jr.
Cordillera Studies Center
University of the Philippines Baguio, 2009

BAGUIO CITY turned 100 years old on September 1 and a new book was released to recap the sounds and stories of its past.

Among these sounds are the rustle of pine trees, the crash of timber, and the thunder of a thousand hoofs rampaging across a vast pastureland toward a mound of salt.

There is also the sound of the labored breathing of Igorot people shovelling through dozens of landslides along a new wagon trail, the roar of bombs reducing the city to ruins, the countless frantic clanging of post-war reconstruction, and the bustle of an ever-expanding urban marketplace.

These are the sounds now drowned in the rage of jeepneys and taxis snaking along the city’s roads and of disco or karaoke hubs dotting its heart.

And then there are the stories, most of them now largely forgotten.

The history of Baguio consists of multiple narratives put together in Fragments of a City’s History: A Documentary History of Baguio, published by the University of the Philippines Baguio’s Cordillera Studies Center.

It is a collection of carefully chosen texts taken from 20 documentary sources. The selections detail the economic, cultural, religious and social accidents that contributed to the development of a vast Ibaloi pasture land into a colonial hill station and the country’s summer capital.

Among the stories that the book reconstructs is that of how Ibaloi headman Mateo Carino multiplied his cattle and land when Baguio had not yet been appropriated by the Americans, and how this land evolved into one of the finest colonial hill stations in the world.

The book also presents the story of how some of the city’s famous streets (like Chugum, Guisad and Kayang) acquired their native place names; how foreigners got to reserve for themselves the finest spots of a “cloud-world” in the orient while the natives got to live along the margins of the lands they used to call their own; how sympathetic westerners sought to repair the damage done by their own fellows who had amused themselves into thinking that the primitive locals “might have been devils striving to force a way out of hell!”; and how personalities carved Baguio into a modern metropolis.

These are stories chronicled in the letters, diaries, travel reports, government issuances and other historical documents that make up “Fragments of a City’s History.”

The anthology begins with a history of important Ibaloi families and the Spanish settlement of Benguet and ends with an account of how Baguio became a regional capital and bustling metropolis in the 1960s.


For sure, it is “not a comprehensive selection of texts,” as the book editor, UP Baguio professor Delfin Tolentino Jr., admits. But it does present a variety of lenses through which readers may get to understand how “the identity of the city has been formed by a wide range of discourses.”

You may regard, as does James Joyce, that history is a nightmare. Or as one that, as Cicero would have us believe, “testifies to the passing of time … illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.” Or one that “has many cunning passages, contrived corridors and issues,” as T.S. Eliot put it.

Whatever view you take, “Fragments of a City’s History” will certainly not just serve as a source of historical trivia. It is an important resource for those who wish to explore the drama that was and is Baguio. It is also for those who wish to probe into the identity of a place once vaunted as “the cleanest, healthiest, most beautiful and best governed city in the country.”