Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Curious Kai and the colors of morning

Butones, my grand-daughter, otherwise known as Kai, and I have sort of established a morning habit since we automatically rise with the sun. After she's been cleaned up by her mother,  Ate Len or me, we go out for our walks when most of the few neighbors in our section of Green Valley are just stirring awake.

When her steps were still tentative, I used to push Butones on her trike, and she loved going over the humps on the side roads with the soundalike of "whee!"

But today, we went out for a real walk, she in her onesie paired with a pajama and sneakers, me in my old sweater pulled over my sleepwear, socks and slippers. I decided to bring my digicam along to see what moves of Butones I could document.

Well, she couldn't keep still so what I caught of her are these shots.

She would stand at attention when the morning breeze swept through her curls.

Most times, she was a study in motion.

On our way back to the house, maybe because her pace was slower, I had time to snap a few shots of the flora in our neighborhood, still fresh with dew and yesterday's rain. They were in unlikely corners and crannies, their fragility and colors a standout amidst the concrete boxes that now mark this part of Baguio. I was careful not to step too close because the bees were busy going about their business.

Wishing my and everyone's Wednesdays always begin this way.

Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Birth, life, love and Robin Lim

BAGUIO CITY—Midwife Robin Lim, 2011 CCN Hero of the Year, once ran into an obstetrician. They compared how many babies they had delivered that day. Both helped birth three each. Lim asked the doctor, "Do you know the mothers' names?"
Taken aback, the doctor couldn't recall his patients' names and admitted to never bothering to know, part of the detachment that his practice requires. Lim recited the names of women she had helped deliver their babies. She had known them well since they went to her for prenatal checkups.
The doctor cried all night. His wife rang Lim, founder of Yayasan Ibu Bumi Sehat (or Healthy Mother Earth Foundation) that encourages natural birth, including those that take place in water in Bali, Indonesia, to ask, "What have you done to him?" That moment with Lim served as the doctor's epiphany when he questioned his profession.
At a time when 918 women die yearly worldwide from childbirth or complications resulting from it, Lim finds the situation scandalous with the US investing heavily on childbirth technology and landing a man on the moon at the cost of billions of dollars.
Life-saver, story-teller
The CNN honor made hers a popular voice. She said it was a human rights issue that "these women are being struck down at the prime of their lives."
A protocol she wants hospitals to allow is to wait for a few minutes so the infant's umbilical cord and the placenta can fall off naturally. This also keeps the mother from bleeding too much.
She said science has shown that it takes years for a child to reach optimum health if the cord rich in nutrients is cut too soon. A proponent of prolonged breastfeeding of up to four to five years, she said giving mother's milk is "a gift to them that you can never get back."
She cited Albert Einstein, also born at home and still taking a snack at his mother's breast till age 10.
She asked individuals and organizations to "communicate, cooperate to find real solutions that the government can back up so we don't need to lose people needlessly." Her work empowers women to own their bodies so "they can have the lives they were meant to live."
She has met prostituted women who get pregnant and whose "bosses" compel them to give up and sell their babies. "It's the most tragic thing," this advocate against human trafficking said.
Lim met a poor young girl who became a prostitute to raise money for her mother's cancer treatment. The mother died, but the girl couldn't get out of the cycle of prostitution.
Lim said. "If you know how love can save lives, ask a midwife. I teach midwifes to practice with love, to look into another's eyes to say, 'I love you.'"
She called her sister midwives "the first line of defense like our lolas, a combination of hilot and medical practitioner."  She described herself as being "pro-women, pro-baby, pro-child, pro-family."
Lim embraces Lolit Dicang who runs Baguio's only birthing clinic.
In a high-risk situation, she has seen how a newborn given up for dead is resuscitated when the room fills up with midwives and relatives prodding the child with declarations of love.
A mother of eight, she manages to "chase the genie"  (her term) to put words on paper and produce books of poetry, fiction (Butterfly People) and non-fiction. Coming soon is a workbook on natural family planning to promote a lifestyle of non-violence to be published by Anvil.
She said when mothers give birth at her clinic, she sees butterflies flitting in and out. Her grandmother Vicenta Munar Lim taught her that these creatures may be fragile but they can fly. She said since then she has become "jealous of them" and saved their wings when she found dead ones.
They became her personal emblem. She explained that a butterfly begins as a crawling worm that later goes into a coffin, surviving sun and rain. One day it opens and out flies a thing of beauty. She said the human soul is similar.
Her friend, writer Edgardo Maranan, introduced her to a crowd at Mt. Cloud Bookshop in Casa Vallejo in this city, saying when CNN announced Lim as a hero, many countries rushed to claim her as theirs, including the US and Indonesia, but, he added, "To us she is a Baguio girl."
Lim took nine months of non-stop writing to finish Butterfly People, likening the process to a baby's gestation in a mother's womb. It took nine more years to find a publisher.
Maranan was the first to read the manuscript that covers six generations with action moving in the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Hawaii. He recommended this thinly disguised biography of Lim's family in northern Philippines  to Anvil Publishing.
She said her being Filipino by blood makes her a magical realist storyteller, adding, "It's so Pinay to exaggerate."--Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga
Originally published by Vera Files/Yahoo Philippines, May 7, 2012

Mme. Butterfly cast features best from Ph, Japan, Mexico

Opera is getting big-time exposure at the CCP this year thanks to the indefatigable effort of the present CCP president Raul Sunico who is succeeding in networking with people and institutions that are opera-friendly.

Truth to tell, staging opera is a noteworthy endeavor but getting the resources to be able to finance it is another story.

After CCP’s successful team up with Korean opera group with La Traviata,  Madama Butterfly is up at the   CCP main theater  next month (June 22-23) this time in association with MusicArtes, Inc. 

Mako Nishimoto
This new Puccini revival features Japanese soprano Mako Nishimoto, Mexican tenor Dante Alcalá,  Filipina soprano Camille Lopez Molina and international baritone Andrew Fernando, with Gerard Salonga conducting the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. 
In the early 80s, Madama Butterfly was seen at the CCP with the Cio Cio San of Israeli soprano Atarah  Hazzan (a last-minute replacement for the indisposed Japanese soprano Yasuko Hayashi) and the Pinkerton of  Vincenzo Manno and the Susuki of Joann Grillo.
I don’t recall any exceptional singer in this production but I do remember the ravishing performance of the Philippine Philharmonic under conductor Henry Lewis, ex-husband of mezzo icon Marlyn Horne and both close friends of the late Pavarotti.

In 1994, the Art and Music group of Joseph Uy presented a gem of a Cio Cio San in the person of Japanese soprano Yoko Watanabe who later passed away because of cancer. At that time, she was the best Butterfly in the US and European circuit and when I finally heard her, I thought she was the main highlight of that production.

It may be noted that between 1915 and 1920, Japan's best known opera singer, Tamaki Miura, won international fame as Cio Cio San. Her statue along with composer Giacomo Puccini, can be found in the Glover Garden in Nagasaki where the opera is set.

As I look forward to this new Butterfly, it’s just proper that we recall the country’s finest Puccini heroines.

For the record, the first Filipina to sing the title role of Madama Butterfly
was no other than Maestra Isang Tapales who sang the part – not in Manila – but in Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo, Italy in April 1924.

In 1925, it was the turn of Maestra Jovita Fuentes (a National Artist for Music) who sang Cio Cio San  in a municipal theater in Piacenza, Italy.

Dante Alcalá
In the late 40s, Maestra Dalisay debuted in the same role at the New York City Opera.

I have not seen a distinguished Filipina Madama Butterfly in recent times but I did know that soprano Eleanor Calbes sang it in Canada  when she was already in her 50s.

Maestra Tapales would have been 112 this year and among her students were tenor Noel Velasco, baritone Gamaliel Viray, singing Joy Virata, among others.

Tapales’s opera credentials include 1047 performance of  Madama Butterfly, more than 300 performances of La Boheme (as Mimi), Pagliacci (as Nedda) and over a hundred engagements of  the little known opera, Iris, by Pietro Mascagni.

La Tapales was the first Filipino to sing at Opera Comique in Paris, followed by her student, Noel Velasco, several decades later. She was also the first Filipino soprano to sing with such opera icons as Giacomo Lauri-Volpi and Beniamino Gigli who inherited the crown of Caruso before the electronic age of PlacidoDomingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

The country’s first Butterfly is one of 24 (!) children of Silvestre Tapales, a composer and music teacher and a friend of former first lady Imelda Marcos’s uncle, Justice Norberto Romualdez who also dabbled in composition.

She put up a short-lived opera company in Manila in the 50s with Charito Planas as president and the soprano as music director.

Under Tapales, operas such as Il Trovatore, Cavaleria Rusticana and Pagliacci were staged in Manila with no less than Italian tenor Arrigo Pola (Pavarotti’s first teacher in Modena, Italy) in the lead roles.

 When  Japanese soprano  Mako Nishimoto and Mexican tenor Dante Alcalá appear in Madama Butterfly on June 22-23,  I cannot but help recall Maestra Isang Tapales’s opera conquests of Milan. Paris, The Hague and the 100 doves set loose on her farewell performance in Milan’s Teatro del Verme.

 For tickets to June 22-23 performances of Madama Butterfly,  call the CCP Box Office at (02)832.3704 or MusicArtes Inc. at (02)895.8098, (+63918)9085088 and TicketWorld (8919999).


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cool everyday objects bridge old, new in the Cordillera

Cool everyday objects bridge old, new in the Cordillera

Timeless Rizal


26 May- 17 June
Featuring works by Zeus Bascon, Francis Commeyne, Fernan Escora, Francisco Guerrero, Jacob Lindo, Lee Paje, Don Salubayba, Carina Santos, Luis Santos, Erik Sausa, Shireen Seno, Louie Talents and Clairelynn Uy

This May, a month before it officially ends, Manila Contemporary attempts to reconstruct this tower by introducing our national hero on more relevant and relatable grounds, as a human being. Without discrediting his achievements, this exhibition intends to create a more rounded perspective of Rizal. Digging through layers upon layers of myth, artists are challenged to depict his nakedness as man. Taking into consideration his insecurities, fears and inclinations, we dive into the raw complexity of his person. To have overcome and used these aspects of his humanity for the greater good, only further intensifies the significant prominence that he has attained.

In the Upstairs Gallery, The Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development ( will be exhibiting  RIZALPABETO, a unique collaboration between poet Vim Nadera and artist Elmer Borlongan celebrating the life and legacy of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal.

And as supplement to the show, Manila Contemporary will be hosting a talk by Michael  Charleston “Xaoi” Chua of the De la Salle University and the Order of the Knights of Rizal, Sucesos Chapter on his essay
“THE FIRST EMO: Simple Life Lessons from The Extraordinary Story of José Rizal” on the 9th of June 2012.

opening night:
SATURDAY, 26 May 2012, 6.00 PM

talk on Rizal:
SATURDAY, 09 June 2012

Whitespace, 2314 Pasong Tamo Extension,
Barangay Magallanes, Makati City

cocktails will be served
RSVP Iris  +02 844 7328 /

This exhibition will be on display until 17 June 2012.
To find out more, please visit our website

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Who’s Hoarding the Coffee Filters in This Part of Northern Luzon?

“Your morning cup of coffee may start to taste even better after a major government study found that frequent coffee drinkers have a lower risk of dying from a variety of diseases, compared with people who drink little or no coffee.” –Tara Parker-Pope

frankly, my dear tara,
i give a damn that in
my adopted city
the family’s designated
go-to-the-grocery person has complained
of a shortage of coffee filters
& suggested we start re-using used ones
at which i blanched & turned
coffee-creamer white

for three days now i’ve begun
my mornings with scalding hot tea
un-sugared un-creamed
in keeping with a stray school of vegan thought
that says it’s healthier

the only way i’m taking this tea
is to imagine myself again in
a hongkong noodle place at rush hour
where once i asked for service water
& the harried waiter with nose up in the air
dumped a pitcher of hot water on our table
with some of it almost splashing on
my tourist lap

tea rhymes with mussolini
linguine & eeeeeee
i silently scream like
the figure in munch’s “the scream”
wondering when the supermarket
suppliers will put filters
on the shelves again & i can have
my wake-me-up-before-i-go-go
cup of, now the experts say, longevity

out with this imposed
breakfast of oatmeal with dried fruits
& prunes taken with hot tea

in with aromatic coffee brewed
& sprinkled with cinnamon
paired with sliced bread
that has been thickly
lathered with genuine salted butter

you say that someone’s hoarding ’em filters, 
& you think that they are now part
of the underground market’s prized commodities?

well then, bring out an orphaned sock
& let it do the filtering job

~Babeth Lolarga
May 19, 2012
6:50 a.m.
Photo of grandmother who had just had her afternoon cuppa coffee at Baguio's Hill Station, thus sufficiently fortifying her for another romp with grandchild Butones, by Kimi Fernandez
Source of quote:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why I Still Write Poetry by Charles Simic | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Talk Safety to Me

A few years back, Sandra Bullock’s big screen character, Gracie Hart in the film Miss Congeniality taught girls to S.I.N.G -- to go for the solar plexus, instep, nose and groin when attacked or assaulted.

According to Hart, targeting these body parts is crucial to defending one's self. Hitting those high notes with S.I.N.G could easily be done by any woman, said the police-turned-beauty queen for an undercover assignment. 

On May 22, Sex and shines the spotlight on a real life policewoman, Senior Police Officer 2 (SPO2) Helen dela Cruz of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Women and Children's Protection Center for "Talk Safety to Me", a talk on crime prevention. 

SASsy and multi-awarded policewoman, SPO 2  dela Cruz will give the lowdown on her detective work and share her thoughts on what women need to be aware of when it comes to their protection and safety.

Merited with Metrobank Foundation’s Country’s Outstanding Policemen in Service (COPS) award in 2011, dela Cruz’ work has aided immensely in the solving of various high profile cases that involve drugs and sexual assaults, among others.

Her talk will include practical safety tips, intimate partner violence, and the laws that are meant to protect women, all the things a SASsy girl should have in her arsenal of protection tools along with her favorite pair of stilettos. 

"Talk Safety to Me" is a FREE talk brought to you by Sex and together with co.Lab, and in partnership with the Philippine National Police. It will be on May 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at co.lab located on the 4th Floor, Optima Building, Salcedo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati.

For more information, please call or SMS 0917.820.7277 (SASs)

“Talk SASsy to Me” is a series of girl power talks hosted by Sex and (SAS), the website founded by journalist and sexual health advocate Ana Santos.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A heroic generation still cries: ‘Never again’

A heroic generation still cries: ‘Never again’

The Letter I Was Too Lazy to Write

the letter i was too lazy to write said
i’m at the point again of wanting
 to turn off my cell phone
to turn my back on texting
to refuse to hear the phone’s pings

everyone insists texting, like email,
is quick time, almost real time
especially if it’s globe to globe smart to smart sun to sun
they remind like a nagging never-can-do-wrong mother
you need that phone for emergencies
& anyways (oh, how I detest that extra “s” after the “y” on “anyway”)
the wifi signal is as rapid as your blinking eye

i ruined two, three phones since '03
& each time got a handy secondhand
that would do the job of instant connect
i reconstructed my directory
but each time i did, oh woe,
i lost what i truly wanted to keep
not the vital practical life-or-death contacts
but the messages
that reminded me where i was
on a special christmas morning when
my happily dysfunctional family,
the sort afflicted with the optimism bias,
was together in one place
or where i was on another day when i was ill
& again near the edge of despair
when i was soaked with rain & stranded
in a remote dark part of myself
when i was in a bus & the conductor fed a DVD
of a B movie called “the losers”
at an ungodly time when all i had were
jingling coins in my purse & an ingrained faith
that this situation will pass

ahhh those messages were messengers
from the abyss in the sky
somewhere in one of those roving satellites
an autobot has read how
an earth woman early today texted
“good a.m. are we on for 10 a.m. mtg 2day?”

the letter i was too lazy to write
will tell you i’ll have none of that
for the meantime
i’m at an alternative spa 
for the techno-weary
having my brain re-wired
into improving the sprawling penmanship
that has increasingly lost its legibility

two months ago a student came up to tell me
with only the honesty a child can muster
“teach, your handwriting is like
a doctor’s prescription”

the time to listen more to myself think has come
the time for longer pauses has arrived

letters allow for lengthy pauses 


not measured in quick time

before the ballpoint pen resumes

its up-down movement across a page

how silly i was to imagine a text
or even an email, no matter how drenched
in emotion, can replace that?

from hereon
you’re gonna hear from me
but give it a waiting time of two weeks

~ Babeth Lolarga
May 15, 2012
6:22 a.m.
Photo of flowers and notebook from the WorldWideWeb.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sisters Craft Café: Venus' Giveaway

Sisters Craft Café: Venus' Giveaway: Welcome to the month of March. This is very special for me because this time, I'm announcing my second pregnancy ! I'm in the beginnin...

Video: Harvard baseball team's 'Call Me Maybe' dance (in a van)

Here's my Mother's Day present to the man who plays big mama in our house because he's a whiz at household management or probably he secretly majored in home economics, Mr. RBF. He's a baseball fan to cover the softie side.

Video: Harvard baseball team's 'Call Me Maybe' dance (in a van)

The Lioness Who Grew Eagle’s Wings

For the Leo girl who discovered a place better than a museum
to give her memories to last her while away from home
i catch her on the first of May
crying quietly into her pillow
but mothers can read the meaning of tears
or almost taste the salt in them
having shed them too when they labored
to bring lives like hers to a heedless world
 i know what will put the smile back
on her face wan & pale
push the willfulness back on her spine
revive the wish for a strong wind
to enable her wings to fly to heights undreamed of
Unfinished painting of a woman in a castle by GCF
 together we drop in on a young-old lady
a mother to four & scores more who think
the world & the cosmos of her
Pink cherub resting in a boudoir
her house is open to all the winds
that blow in fairies & creatures out of
a sendak imagination
where angels & tikbalangs co-exist
in jolly peace-ability

by the time child woman is done with her salad
her petulance evaporates
as she listens intently to the hostess, that
groovy crone’s positively possible 
predictions that banish uncertainty

& restore a smile 
on a now fully peaceful face
until the child assumes a woman
warrior  pose, one ready for flight
to leap unharnessed to embrace & explore the marvels
of the foreign & the unknown

--Babeth Lolarga
May 12, 2012
6:52 a.m.
Photos by Babeth taken at a true Pinay's home in Quezon City 

Sisters Craft Cafe

Curated prompt: Luisa A. Igloria

Do visit this site for more of this Baguio girl:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Letter to a Weekend Beach Girl

Holding her beach ball in April this year. Photo by Kimi Fernandez

Dear Butones,

That time you held your striped ball for the first time, trying to figure what the light object in white blue yellow red was (bigger, more definitely, than the baseball you roll and chase after on the carpet), I rued how summer was passing us by without our having gone near a body of water bigger than us.

Your tub isn't counted. You had long outgrown it and now take a bath under a running faucet, always thrilled by the feel of water.

Like an answered wish, an invitation to a beach wedding came. Faster than you can say "Go!", Mamay and Ate packed your things, including your deflated beach ball and mushroom-shaped floaters. They all went into a suitcase with your perpers and tushies, your toothbrush and swimsuit.

You left on a Friday, wide-eyed and restless in the car, and I had to stay behind, waving, waving, waving, already imagining how several hours later, small waves will be licking your toes and smaller handfuls of sand will be cupped in your palm.

You'll come back to me on a Sunday, nearly toasted by and smelling of the sun and squealing to free yourself from my huggy bear arms. I'll run some water in a pail, we'll let the yellow duck float, find a ball the size of my fist and I'll sing to you again the rowing song that turns your arms into sturdy paddles.

Hey, little ball of joyful motion, come home soon.  


Friday, May 11, 2012

Nominations for Ateneo Art Awards now open

AAA 2012: 2 days 'til the start of nominations. #aaa2012sneakpeak #May1

The Ateneo Art Gallery is pleased to announce that it is accepting nominations for the 2012 Ateneo Art Awards.

Established in 2004 in honor of its founding benefactor Fernando Zobel de Ayala (1924-1984), whose support of young Filipino visual artists left an indelible mark in Philippine art history, the Ateneo Art Awards are given to Filipino visual artists below the age of 36 for outstanding work in an exhibition between 2 May of the previous year and 1 May of the current year.

As the Ateneo Art Awards gears up for a milestone, the ninth year takes the theme “Sneak Peak”.
This anticipatory stance as we approach a peak in the history of the awards, serves not as a statement of fact, but a call for introspection. The contemporary Philippine art scene is as dynamic as ever and the world is taking notice. With the overwhelming recognition, we are called back to the core to reminisce, to hope and to work anew.
Nominations are accepted from visual artists, curators, museum and gallery directors, members of the present and former juries, art educators and art writers. Nomination forms are available at the Ateneo Art Gallery, Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City; at Casa Gorodo Museum, Cebu City; or from the website

From all the nominees, 12 exhibits/ artworks will be shortlisted and on 09 August 2012, 3 will be declared winners. The artists who created the winning exhibitions/ artworks will be invited to apply for the international residency grants funded by the Ateneo Art Gallery and its partner institutions Common Room Networks Foundation in Bandung, Indonesia; Artesan Gallery in Singapore; La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre in Bendigo, Australia; Art Omi in New York; and Liverpool Hope University in Liverpool, UK.

All nominations must be received at the Ateneo Art Gallery before 5pm on 31 May 2012.  For more information, please contact Ian Carlo Jaucian at +632 4266488 or mobile +639178878956 or email Exhibition of the works of the artists short-listed for the Awards will be at the Grand Atrium of the Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Shaw Blvd, Mandaluyong City from 3 August - 13 August 2012.
The Ateneo Art Awards is presented by the Ateneo Art Gallery, Shangri-La Plaza, Metro Society, Y-style of the Philippine Star, and the New York Art Project, funded by Marcel Crespo. 

Run for Road Safety in Chit Estella's memory


Revived river runs through Dagupan

Cruising on the rehabilitated Dagupan River
The bangus (milkfish), touted as the national fish and the best of its kind in the world, is a given in the life and history of Dagupan City, Pangasinan. What is hardly known is the city has more to offer than traditional bokayo (sticky candy made of coconut strips) and bagoong (shrimp paste).

Mayor Benjamin Lim, who has rallied councilors and their constituents to his call of “Our City, Our Shared Responsibility,” says the city now boasts of the Dagupan River Cruise. Offered free, it is the first and only such cruise in Region 1.

It is proof of how he successfully applied political will and his corporate training in making fish pen owners realize how a rehabilitated river will benefit all in the long term. Once the city’s lifeblood, the river became an eyesore with a thick, milky brown color. The overcrowded fish pens and illegal shanties built on it contributed to a near ecological disaster called fish kill.

Today, there is a modest pier called Daungan Ed Dawel to mean “Dockyard of the World” with a tall white top open to all sides to allow the breeze in. The ferry takes the tourist up and down a clear running river that is about 1.5 kilometers long, with a depth of eight feet at low tide and 12 feet at high tide.

On the both sides of the riverbank stand mangroves young (five years old) and old (65 years old and above) that protect marine life. Tour guide Ed Caballero said the fallen leaves of these trees are left where they are to serve as fish food.
Fresh catch from the river
Two-dimensional bangus art on P. Burgos street

The dismantling of fish pens has allowed high-value fish apart from the bangus to return, thrive and swim in the river’s depths: lapu-lapu, talakitok, malaga, pompano. Juicy crabs abound and are caught by small-scale fishing from their banca or small boats and offered for sale at a reasonable price without a middle man interceding.

The Philippines has 48 mangrove species, 14 of them found in Dagupan, including rare ones endemic to the place. Ana Louise Velasco, city information officer, does not want to specify the names of unusual trees’ names for fear of poachers uprooting them.
Young mangroves by the riverbank

Twenty kinds of migratory birds have also been seen flying over the river and mangroves.

There are kayaks that will be ready for use soon for those who like water sports. Coming soon are paddle boats and river taxis, the latter if one prefers to get to a destination while skipping the downtown gridlock during peak hours.

The ferry boat is modest enough to accommodate private parties of up to 30 people. The host brings in the caterer while the city’s tourism office provides chairs and tables.

Velasco said when she had visiting relatives from elsewhere, especially balikbayans, she used to be at a loss where else to bring them after they’ve eaten bangus to their heart’s content.

Dagupan’s bangus is distinguished by its narrow mouth, bigger belly and smaller fin that are all cause by its swimming in a small area and its fin hitting the bottom of the pond. Nonetheless, Velasco said, everything can be eaten, including the innards, when freshly caught and fried.

When the river cruise began three years ago, the raves poured in from visitors north and south of the country.
BFAR's Westly Rosario
 Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the local office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, saw a lot of good from the return of fauna, a sure sign that the river is alive. This development also means alternative livelihood for those whose shanties were removed.

Lim said displaced folk got seed money to start organic hog farming with pigs fed pro-biotics, not antibiotics, to make the taste of the local lechon competitive to Cebu’s and not too heavy in cholesterol.
Kilawing talaba
 Rosario’s office is developing different ways to prepare and bottle oysters and other shellfish. These clean up the marine environment by harvesting micro-organisms like planktons that once led to yearly occurrences of red tide and fish kill.

He gave this example of shellfish’s “cleaning power”: in a tank with 16 tons of greenish water that indicate the presence of a high number of phytoplankton, put in two sacks or even eight big cans of mussels. In 24 hours the water will turn as transparent as drinking water.

Rosario said these shellfish can later be turned into food and livelihood for marginal fishermen. This type of seafood has medicinal values and anti-inflammatory substances. BFAR is testing the overseas and local markets for tahong (mussels) cooked a number of ways: adobo, pickled, smoked or steeped in brine.--Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga

First published by Vera Files and Yahoo Philippines, May 1, 2012.

My life in kick-ass posters

 Of the many things I ponder about, primarily the source of my next "pin money", a euphemism I use for the piddling amounts I receive, with gratitude, if I may declare so, to underwrite the things that make like worthwhile (e.g., books, pens, paints, cheap brushes, transport fare to get from here to there and back again), none makes me go deeper into myself than the most uproariously funny e-mails that arrive daily.

The source of these "posters," "greeting cards," "mottoes," whatever you decide to call them, is a friend whose consistent "we're doomed" pessimism and mordant analysis of local and world events somehow throw a lighted neon bulb in my sometimes irritatingly Polyanna-ish world. So thank you, dear FPV, for points to ponder that make me wonder (aaargh! awful pun there).

The doctor may be right, and I might just be able to save myself and my long-suffering family thousands of pesos spent on analysis sessions and meds.

And going to McDo for a caramel sundae after a night of drinking yourself blind or working till your ass has the imprint of a solihiya-woven seat is like getting a kiss from a rose.
So stay in your quiet corner, kiddo, and hit the books. Remember: "Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps." Thanks for the handy quote, Ms. Ann Pachett.
Hmmm, this partly explains why I don't last longer than three to four years in a steady job. My all-time record is two and a half  months or was it one day?
This must be a not-quite-subtle variation of "Don't get mad. Get an AK-47."
Yeah, try talking to that clawed hand. Tough experience has repeatedly proven to me that getting into arguments, especially with a person with a huge chip on her shoulder (caused by a sad sad childhood or some cancerous venom in the blood), leads nowhere and can be exhausting. So follow, or be, the wise simian who counsels: "Just stop."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Torture, criminal raps vs. GMA and others

From the inbox:

Eight of the 43 health workers, collectively known as the Morong 43, today filed a criminal case against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Gen. Victor Ibrado, Gen. Delfin Bangit, Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia, Col. Aurelio Baladad, Col. Cristobal Zaragosa  and 10 other officials of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for violations of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, Republic Act 7438 (Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation), and robbery.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokesperson and convenor of the End Impunity Alliance said that, “this is the first criminal case against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo involving human rights violations under her watch, and on the basis of the anti-torture law that was passed during her regime.”

Karapatan expressed support for the health workers for their continuing quest for justice, as the rights group also urged the Department of Justice and Malacanang “to act immediately on the said complaint to make human rights violators in government accountable for the rights they have wantonly violated.”

“President Noynoy Aquino said it himself, that the arrest and detention of the health workers are ‘fruits of the poisonous tree.’ It is however, lamentable that instead of immediately prosecuting those responsible for their illegal arrests and incarceration, the promotion of these military and police officers are being effected. It is déjà vu, similar to period of former President Arroyo, when Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. who, despite many cases filed against him, was heaped upon with promotions and accolades,” Palabay said.

In a letter sent to the Commission on Appointments (CA), through its secretary Atty. Arturo Tiu, KARAPATAN and the Council for Health and Development (CHD) expressed their opposition to the confirmation of the promotion of three officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who are direct parties to the illegal arrest, torture and detention of the 43 health workers. The said officials are Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia, Brig. Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad and Col. Jaime Abawag.  Col. Abawag has no formal appointment yet but was already in the list of Karapatan and CHD for future reference for the CA.

Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez expressed “alarm upon learning of the recent appointment of the above-mentioned officials, they being perpetrators of gross human rights violations.” Hilao-Enriquez was one of the signatories, along with Dr. Eleanor Jara for the CHD, of the letter submitted to the CA.

Hilao-Enriquez added that, “we understand that any officer who has a pending case against him in court must not be promoted. Thus, we take exception to the promotion and confirmation of Segovia, Baladad as well as Zaragosa, who was promoted in February 2012, as they are among the respondents in cases mentioned above. We therefore ask the Commission if there are measures which it can do to rectify this transgression.”

Last year, on April 4, 2011, six of the 43 health workers also filed a civil case for damages under Articles 27, 32 and 33 of the Civil Code at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.  Segovia, Baladad and Abawag were among the respondents for illegal arrest, torture, arbitrary and illegal detention.  A complaint was also filed before the Commission on Human Rights on February 25, 2010 against Segovia and Baladad.

“Thus, their supposed promotion must not be allowed and the institutions that gave the clearances for such promotion must answer to the people,” said Hilao-Enriquez. 

Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.