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Sunday, July 31, 2011

UbD Seminar-Workshop @ SLU
A national seminar-workshop on "Understanding by Design" (UbD) for pre-service and in-service teachers will be held on 27-28 August and 03-04 September 2011 at the Saint Louis University (SLU) Center for Culture and the Arts (CCA).

Ms. Cristina S. Chioco, DepEd Education Program Specialist, will serve as speaker.  Registration fee is PhP 350.00 for students, and PhP 500.00 for teachers.

[Info taken from CHED-CAR Regional Memo No. 061, s. 2011]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Balbalan Sunrise"

It was thoughtful of LGU Balbalan Information Officer Gerry Oribello to send us links to the municipality’s Multiply account, “Balbalan Sunrise,” where one finds an information trove consisting of news articles, downloadable public documents, photos, music and video files.  For those who have been away from the ili for a long time, “Balbalan Sunrise” is something that can bring them closer to vovoroy, to home: to the warmth of the hearth above which are suspended dry firewood surrounded by dozens of yellowing or darkened alingo and ugsa jawbones; the intoxicating smell of pine flitches that years ago used to serve as torches when going back home from the plaza or from another village; the invigorating pine-scented air especially at early morn and twilight; the clear, refreshing waters of the Saltan River; the delight of turning stones along the riverbank and finding crabs to take home for dinner; the thrill of gripping lippay with your left hand and, with the flick of the forefinger of the other hand, twirling it fast against a row of other large coin-like seeds; those naughty moments when we impish boys would clothe ourselves in black, make our rounds of nearby houses and scare the archangel out of girls eating their dinner in peace; all those kind-hearted kailyan who would gladly butcher their last chicken for a returning daughter or son, and hand over their most treasured earthen pot or multi-branched antler as a send-off gift to a stranger; those soothing dark forestlands guarded by stout oak and towering pine trees; those endless traipsing up and down trails while munching pinit...

I am impressed with apo Oribello's posting of downloadable public documents like the municipality’s Statement of Income and Expenditures, in compliance with the “Full Disclosure Policy” (FDP) of the government. The FDP is based mainly on three national laws – The Local Government Code (RA 7160), Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184) and the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (RA 10147) – which were enacted to ensure transparency and accountability in local governance. The FDP requires LGUs to post 14 public documents [note: data copied from DILG MC 2011-08 issued by SILG Jesse Robredo] in (1) conspicuous places, (2) print media, and (3) official online sites during the entire fiscal year. These reports are as follows: (A) Annual (Budget Report, Procurement Plan/List, SEF Income and Expenditure Estimates, GAD Accomplishment Report, Statement of Receipts and Expenditures, Statement of Debt Service) (B) Quarterly (Statement of Cash Flow, Items to Bid, Report of SEF Utilization, Trust Fund (PDAF) Utilization, Bid Results on Civil Works and Goods and Services, Abstract of Bids as Calculated, 20% Component of the IRA Utilization); (C) Monthly (Supplemental Procurement Plan).  According to SILG Robredo, failure on the part of the local officials to fulfill these publication requirements means “gross negligence, or dereliction of duty” (Section 60, LGC) and is thus a ground for “disciplinary action.” 

I join other yBalbalan in saluting Mayor Kenneth Mangaoang and his team of elective officials and functionaries for making LGU Balbalan more accessible via the virtual/cyberhighway.  The former mayor and now Kalinga Vice Governor Jesse Allen Mangaoang left a model of governance which a political neophyte like his brother Kenneth would find difficult, but not impossible, to follow.  It seems apo Kenneth has gotten the hang of his new job though, and I’m sure he is passionate enough to make the sunrise over Balbalan “stand still” and thereby construct his unique brand of effective leadership on Kalinga’s political landscape.

Related Posts: 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

D 2nd SONA ("The Sermon of Noynoy Aquino")

PNoy’s second SONA should be called “The Sermon of Noynoy Aquino.”  And though not delivered by a priest nor a pastor, it was for me an effective homily with its introduction, body and conclusion neatly arranged and well articulated. What it may have lacked substantively (at least according to his critics) was filled up symbolically chief of which are his use of Filipino as a gesture of his desire to be heard by and to reach out to the common tao, and his elevation of the wangwang from a symbol of arrogance in the streets to that of an abuse of power and privilege in all aspects and levels of governance (private sector, government agencies, LGUs, community-at-large). 

As usual (or as we say here, “as useless”), Renato Reyes, Jr., Teddy Casiño, et al. had nothing but withering criticism for the President and his speech, especially that he did not mention the Hacienda Luisita dispute and such other issues Bayan Muna wanted him to address in his SONA.  

Well, the rest of us up North have issues too.  What about Cordillera Autonomy? Or Forbes Park along South Drive?  Yeah, what about tuition fee increase? And the torture SLU students have to bear going to and coming from the Bakakeng campus? And the much-ballyhooed road repairs along Bokawkan and Loakan?  Heck, PNoy didn’t even care about our long-delayed CHED scholarship fund for graduate students! And ay apo, dijay ngay nagdakkel nga kinetsapan ti BIR manipud iti sweldok? And how about my sore big toe?  Ano kaya kung 200-pahina na lang na SONA, like mo

I may sound like I find Bayan Muna’s major issues trivial. I don’t.  It’s just that they turn me off by their endless shrieking about all the bad things they find in any government administration, as if there’s nothing to be praised about the institution which some of their very own members are part of,  as if only they have a real cause and the right worldview, as if they would really make much difference when they finally make themselves rulers of the country.  But such is the stereotype they have chosen to cage themselves in, and theirs is but a small corner in the vast democratic space of the republic.  The rest of us hoist the banner of Activism in a different manner, and our flags don’t have to be Red.  That’s why we don’t have to rip our robes and put ashes on our heads (or burn the effigy of a duly elected President) because a SONA didn’t mention the issues we consider to be of utmost importance.  That is why we think we can contribute to nation-building without hitting the streets all the time. And we think it is not right to seek a government post and use government money to fund movements and activities which many see as unpopular and hindi makabayan.

We may not like PNoy’s seemingly fuzzy national development plan, or his speech punctuated with his own coughing (I wish to God he quit smoking).  But give him a break, he’s been in office for only a year and we think he can clean up all the decades-old mess he is faced with? I don't think  we can question this guy's seriousness in getting our sick country to pentathlon-worthy condition. Why criticize him harshly and incessantly when there are other creative, constructive ways of helping him nurse our country back to health?  But as many of us have said a year ago, whatever his government's accomplishments will be, these will only at best lay the foundation for subsequent administrations to build on.

Basta, ti makunak, napintas nga sermon tay SONA Dos ni apo Presidente.  Napaellekak kadagiti nadumaduma nga eksampol na; napaniitna nga inungtan dagiti buklis, dagiti awanan iti bain; ken napasugargarna ti dutdotko iti panangkaritna kadatayo amin nga mangaramid iti amin a kabaelantayo a tumulong iti panagdur-as ti pagilyan.  Umanayen didiay kaniak. Ala, agsaetka pay nga agsermon ken agtrabaho apo Presidente. Dios ti kumuyog kenka! Uray dim maawatan ti salsalawasawek ditoy a ket iyebkasko latta ti riknak hehe.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Salaknib Martial Arts System Pics (2)

With Lakan/Guru Rei Samson (R) and Sensei Danny Balba (front, third from right)
More pics on FB here.

Salaknib Martial Arts System Pics

Fellow arnisadores can now view the first set of Salaknib Martial Arts System photos on Facebook (click here), with Salaknib founder Lakan/Guro Reynaldo "Rei" Samson training young martial artists at Burnham Park.

PEN Teaching Literature Workshop @ UP Baguio

The Philippine Center for International PEN 
(Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists)
Teaching Literature Workshop
08 August 2011
Bulwagang Juan Luna
University of the Philippines Baguio


CSC Lectures: Enhanching SWM (Maria C. Cleto)

28 July 2011
10:00—11:30 in the morning
College of Social Sciences AVR
University of the Philippines Baguio


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kurosawa's Iago (2)

At one point, Sanjuro gets exasperated by the clumsiness and naivete of the nine samurai whom he decided to protect, and mutters: "Stupid friends are more dangerous than enemies."  Still, friends are friends no matter how stupid and enemies have to be struck down, so he went on to guide them in their pursuit of justice -- a noble gesture of mercy, given their helplessness. It's just as well, for had his friends been smart he would not have stood out among them, and his ingenuity and patience would not have been so delightfully displayed in those dismal moments created by the bungling nine. That is a lot better too than for nine smart samurai being led by a stupid ronin.

Sanjuro had to be an unsheathed sword for it is only by being so that he could, by the flash of his sword, spark the fires of courage and hindsight in his new-found disciples.  He had to be so if he ever hoped to strike fear in the balls of the ruthless usurpers.

I admit it, while watching the movie I caught myself wishing I were Sanjuro, an avenger of sorts slashing my way through the defenses of those who abuse power and wallow in ill-gotten riches with impunity.  Childish, yes.  That's just like when I was a gradeschooler  clumsily kicking and punching his way home from the pagsinean after watching Enter the Dragon or Drunken Master. Or endlessly shooting our chickens and ducks dead with a rifle carved out of a banana trunk after viewing (again and again) Delta Force or Rambo. I assure you though, I didn't do a flurry of katana chops at an imagined foe while driving back home! Wishful thinking? I know.  I can't even pinch a cockroach! (Lynette's shriek in the background: Eww! yuuck!) :)  But you should allow me those moments of daydreaming, if only to keep me sane what with all these multiplying revelations of unbridled greed by the Arroyos and the Ampatuans while the rest of us bear with increasing tax deductions in our payslips, poorly constructed roads, laughable military capability, and what not.  But such is life.  We surrender to the Fates what our courts may not be able to do anything about, and make do with what we have and can.


All this talk about stupidity reminds me of my own innumerable moments of idiocy from childhood to now.  It sometimes amazes me that people around me, even those whom I caused grief, were able to put up with my stupidity, and it makes me feel fortunate that I have had smart friends who would in their unique ways make me see the light from time to time.   Someone said something like, "Everyone is ignorant, only on different matters."   I guess that goes the same for stupidity, in a way: Everyone was or is stupid at some point in his life.  That is something we can be thankful for, because that's how we've figured out the benchmark for smartness and maturity. That's why we can giggle at ourselves whenever Kurosawa's Iago shows us the difference between setting up traps and keeping our traps shut.


Unfortunately for me, I've heard of Akiro Kurosawa several times in the past 15 years or so but didn't find time to watch his films.   Not too late though, so I have now resolved to watch every Kurosawa film I could get my hands on.  If our video rental shops don't have them, St. Google  will provide.  To our Japanese friends, doumo arigatou gozaimasu!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Talastasan @ UPB w/ Dr. A.S. Agcaoili: Cultural Nationalism and Philippine Languages

 Posted on Facebook by Junley Lazaga (DLLA, CAC, UP Baguio)

The College of Arts and Communication
University of the Philippines Baguio

Dr. Aurelio Solver Agcaoili
of the University of Hawaii at Manoa

"Cultural Nationalism 
and the Languages of the People of the Philippines:
Towards a Theory and Practice 
of Liberatory Literacy and Education"

The talk addresses the current concerns on the need to revisit several conceptual issues in the Philippines, to wit, cultural nationalism, language diversity, and liberatory literacy and education. Arguing from the framework of emancipatory education, cultural difference, and the question of nation and state, the talk weaves a reasoning that pushes for a rethinking of the Philippine nation-state concept, for a critiquing of the practice of Philippine basic education, and for a revisiting of the constitutive elements of Philippine literacy in the context of citizenship.

August 5, 2011
1 PM
College of Social Sciences Audio Visual Room
U.P. Baguio

Open to the public and free of charge. 

agcaoili lec

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kurosawa's Iago

Now that I've taken The Quingenti Oath I can no longer find a justifiable excuse to put off cranking out my first 500+ words.  So here's Day 1:
I didn't know there was a Japanese version of  a likeable Iago until I got to watch Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro in school, courtesy of the Japanese Association in Northern Luzon.   The movie stars Toshiro Mifune as a cool, calculating, counter-plotting samurai who playfully names himself Sanjuro Tsubaki  (lit., "thirty-year old camellia"; he happened to be facing a camellia tree when asked about his identity).  Unlike Shakespeare’s villain, Kurosawa's schemer employs his creative powers and the deadly swish of his bokken and katana to protect the weak, mow down the bad, dethrone illegitimate lords, and restore the good to power.

I am tempted to talk about Kurosawa's visual strategy, use of wry humor, and others but that requires greater effort, so I might just as well discuss two quotes from the movie .

In the movie, the wife of the lord chamberlain Mutsuta describes Sanjuro as an "unsheathed sword," a man whose existence spells bloodshed. She adds, "Really good swords are better kept in their scabbards," an idea to which the hero concurs after his  quick, stunning and final  swordfight (actually there was no clash of metal, only the crunching swipe of Sanjuro's blade  through his last foe's neck).  But as the "masterless samurai" or ronin trudges off to nowhere at the end of the movie, one realizes the ambivalence in or the tentativity  of the "truism." For in the midst of violence when we desire peace through pens and speeches but know that trouble will  end only by crushing force with  superior force, we cannot keep really good swords sheathed.  Thus, Mutsuta's wife and daughter -- and practically the whole community -- were saved only because  Sanjuro unsheathed his sword and used it to bring down the usurpers. Come to think of it, swords are not really made only for cutting mutton ; they are made to slash fellow humans when needed.  Even an exalted religious system that says, "Put back thy sword into thy scabbard, for he that liveth by the sword shall die by the sword," survived not only through homilies and manuscripts but also, if not largely, through the use of tempered steel against tempered steel (okay, to sound modern, say "bullet to bullet, tank to tank, ship to ship, jet to jet").  In fact, the police and military systems  that we so think are vital to the enforcement and maintenance of security, peace and justice  do everything to ensure that handguns do not rust in holsters, and ammunitions and bombs do not become duds.  That is why Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other supposedly independent states continue to be the war laboratories of and for self-styled protectors of democracy and world peace; war gadgets and machines need continuous upgrading and most of the people's taxes need to be spent for weapons development.  Well,  Sun Tzu did say, "In peace, prepare for war, in war prepare for peace. The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected." And that is why China is putting so much huff and puff  on the smooth sailing of its first aircraft carrier Shi Lang.  Too late though, because the U.S. and its kabraso at kasangga are now preparing for a  Mach-15, post-aircraft carrier war.

Oops, that's 582 words nah! Wohoo! Second quote for Day 2 or 3 na lang ngarud hehe.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Japanese Films @ UP Baguio (FREE)

U r invited to watch the following Japanese films @ the Bulwagang Juan Luna, University of the Philippines Baguio (film synopses copied from flyer):


10AM: SANJURO (1962, 96 minutes). One of KUROSAWA's films, it shows him relaxed and having fun, deconstructing the samurai film genre with tongue firmly in cheek.  Very well photographed, with some fluid cinematography and effortlessly artful group compositions that only he seems able to do.  Toshiro slices apart his enemies in various battle scenes with nary a bloodstain and the folks at Toho should have sprung for a few squibs.  All is set right in the brilliant final swordfight, which should be worth watching.

2PM: WATERBOYS (2001, 91 minutes) by SHINOBU YAGUCHI. Based on a real story of the success of the Kawagoe High School Male Synchronized Swimming Team that made some noise in the news in 1999.  The team behind the hit "Shall We Dance?" and director Shinobu Yaguchi (director of the successful comedy "Adrenaline Drive") auditioned hundreds of young actors requiring only good looks and the ability to swim.  The result was five major characters who weren't too original but together formed quite a group. Our heroes are a former basketball player who failed to make the school's team (Sato), the classic geek who uses math for just about everything (Kanazawa), the fitness-obsessed muscle-boy (Ohta) who trains in hilarious ways, the classic shy fellow who loves one of the other boys, and the cute leader who gets the girl at the end (Suzuki).  It has a weird charm.

4PM: MATAGI (Old Bear Hunter, 1981, 103 minutes) by TOSHIO GOTO.  An old man is attacked by a bear in the snowy mountains of northern Japan and vows to hunt down the marauder before any other villagers are hurt or killed.  His grandson hears of the incredible size of the bear and is filled with desire to join the hunt.  When the extraordinary bear is killed, it is buried in the snow as an offering to the mountain god, and not taken for its precious pelt or life-sustaining meat.  The film won the Director's Prize from the UNICEF Jury for Children's Film at the 1982 Berlinale.


10AM: STING OF DEATH (1990, 115 minutes) by KOHEI OGURI. Miho has a mental breakdown after she learns her husband Toshio has a mistress. The breakdown becomes a kind of ordered madness where she is alternatively vindictive and self-effacing to the brink of suicide.  Filled with guilt, Toshio treats her with gentle patience and love.  The pair becomes locked in a contest to see which of the can sacrifice more for the other.

2PM: THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI (2002, 129 minutes) by YOJI YAMADA. Presents a touching cinematic masterpiece about love and agony starring Sanada Hiroyuki (The Last Samurai) and Miyazawa Rie.  It displays the complexicities of the ancient Japanese culture and art of sword fighting. In the Edo Period, a samurai struggles between supporting his poor family and his duty as a samurai.  Since the death of his wife, he now has to raise his two young girls, deal with his sick mother at home and 50 bales of rice a year.  Then he meets his childhood friend and they might have a chance to make a new start together.

4PM: A BRIEF MESSAGE FROM THE HEART (1995, 117 minutes) by SHINICHIRO SAWAI.  Hiroshi finds his sister's short message on a laptop to their mother who abandoned them 18 years ago.  He sends the message to a collection held by Fukui Prefecture and wins a prize.  He searches for their mother, while his sister cannot forgive their mother for  abandoning them.  He is hit by a car while saving a kitten.  The episodic narrative gradually fills in the background to this message.  The sister goes from being a design company employee to a restorer of medieval art works.  He is a university student in Tokyo.  Their  father died of heart attack and never spoke about the divorce with their mother.  Hiroshi meets his mother and tries to bring her back to the family, despite his sister's violent objection.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Notes on a DOH/NAPC/DILG Water Supply System Training

Thanks to my former colleagues at the DILG-CAR, I had the privilege of serving as documentor for a “Seminar-Workshop on the Preparation of Simplified Feasibility Study for Water Supply System” held at Hotel Supreme on 22-24 June 2011. 

Over a hundred participants – mostly local government functionaries, including planning and development coordinators, engineers, water supply supervisors, water district managers, water sanitation coordinators, and health officers – took part in the three-day training.   The trainees represented the following LGUs: Cagayan (Santo Niño, Pamplona), Nueva Vizcaya (Santa Fe, Kayapa); Pangasinan (Aguilar, Bolinao, Urbiztondo); Abra (Tineg); and Apayao (Calanasan, Conner, Flora, Kabugao, Pudtol, Santa Marcela). These 14 municipalities are among the 19 towns in Region I, Region II and the CAR which are tagged in the Aquino Administration’s Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat Program (Abundant and Safe Water for All). For 2011, the Program is prioritizing 115 LGUs across the country based on the following criteria: (1) Access Level-  highest percentage of  HH without access to safe water; (2) Poverty Incidence - highest number of  population of Conditional Cash Transfer recipients; and (3) Incidence of Waterborne Diseases – highest incidence per 10,000 population.

The three-day activity is spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH) in partnership with the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the LGUs concerned. Now on its third year of implementation, the Program used to be lodged with the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and was known as “President’s Priority Program on Water” under the Arroyo regime.  The PhP 115-billion project seeks to “increase access to potable water supply services coverage to at least 50% in waterless municipalities.” (“Waterless municipalities” are defined in the Program’s nomenclature as those “having  households with less than 50% access to safe water.”)  It also targets a 20%-reduction in the “incidence of water-borne and sanitation related diseases” and a minimum of 10% increased “access of the poor to sanitation services.”

Technical Officers Ezequiel Serrano (WSSU-DILG), Luis Cruz (DOH), Ashley Antonio (DOH), Cynthia Ambe (NAPC), Engr. Jose Carmelo Gendrano (NAPC), and  GOO V Filipinita Galvez (DILG-CAR) did an excellent job orienting the participants on the basics of the workshop and the Program itself. 

Among all the lecturers/trainors though, Engr. Antonio De Vera -- former LWUA Administrator and now ADB consultant and SBMA Water Regulatory Board chair -- was (hands raised, eyes closed) the Guru around whose feet we wide-eyed disciples gathered for enlightenment on the esoteric aspects of Engineering and water supply systems, particularly Project Development Cycle, Demand Projection, Water Resources, Applied Hydraulics, Water Treatment and Disinfection, among others. 

While marveling at the breadth and depth of his expertise on  his topics as well as the ease and clarity of his presentations, LGOOs Odemar Cawis and Johnny Mauting of DILG-CAR and I were wondering whether we all would have become number crunchers had he been our professor in Mathematics, especially in Algebra and Trigonometry.  I, for one, lost interest in Math early in life because of the classroom trauma I had to experience under teachers who could do the maths in their heads but couldn't get these into the hearts of their students. Oh  just now I remember, there was one really great professor at Saint Louis University (SLU), Mr. Liberato Mayo, whose Trigonometry class I really enjoyed for the first time after having lost all interest in the subject many years before that.  He was such a kind, brilliant, effective mentor who made computing for  sines and cosines like munching strawberries. Sadly, as my academic passion then centered on the literary I soon forgot the formulas, only the memory of having felt how studying Math can be a pleasurable episode in one's college life.

But back to apo de Vera. One of the things I liked about Engineer de Vera was his fun and funny way of illustrating theory through real-life, grassroots-based situations he personally knows throughout his decades of work with various communities here and abroad -- all of which are aimed at identifying pitfalls and finding practical solutions to problems in water system projects.  One of the many significant cases he cited was that of a PhP 60-M water system in an LGU which failed simply because of inadequate water supply from the spring. As it turned out, the spring’s water volume was measured during the rainy season and therefore did not take into account the significant reduction of water supply during the dry season.  Another was a right-of-way and land ownership case where the seller reneged on his promise to sell leaving the LGU wasting its project development plans.  

Of course, enjoying Mr. de Vera's lectures didn't really mean I understood everything he said.  Well, in fairness to me I did try doing one of his formulaic exercises but I wasn't really up to it no matter how easy some engineers in the workshop hall thought the computations were.  And I learned some facts too about water source development and water treatment which I may very well use in my classes to make my students think I know a lot haha.

If all water supply systems project implementers and administrators were as forward-looking as Engineer de Vera, I think much of our  resources  earmarked for these public works could have been saved or optimized. And this could have been the case in any other infrastructure projects of the government. And come to think of it, here are LGUs applying for PhP 2-/5-/10-M projects while countless local, regional and national officials and politicians are splurging billions of our money on themselves!  At sila pa ang mga aroganteng nagpapaharurot ng kanilang mga mamahaling sasakyan sa ating mga bako-bakong lansangan, ohah? Hay, sabi nga ng mga kaibigan nating mga Intsik, MEI BANFA!
But even in the implementation of these water supply projects, the greedy, greasy hands of very enterprising folks have created problems already.  The NAPC reported that there are LGUs where water was inequitably distributed (with some unscrupulous farmers punching holes in pipes and diverting the water to irrigate their ricefields), and where project materials were overpriced as high as 120%.  It's a good thing though that with the NAPC's effective monitoring, cases of overpricing in the canvass forms were uncovered and dealt with.  One can't be sure, however, if there are other forms of corruptions done in the implementation of these projects as we very well know that the corrupt in our communities never lack the diabolic creativity to find ways getting their dirty hands into public funds for their personal use.

Having said that, I think "Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig" is truly commendable.  What I also like  about it is that it isn't just another dole-out program as the recipient LGUs are required to allocate an equivalent of 10% of the total project cost in cash or "in kind" (e.g. office space  and utilities, heavy equipment, labor and materials, services of staff, food and facilities). With the DOH, NAPC and DILG working together to ensure the effective implementation, monitoring and maintenance of these water supply systems, there is a great chance that the Program's targets will be met.