Tag Archives: Ilocos

Empanademocracy

empanada2

empanada3

With or without egg

Meaty or meatless

Egg half done or fully cooked

Cabbage, papaya, and mongo beans stuffed neatly

Inside a crisp shell made of rice flour.

Orange, yellow, green, brown, white

Burst into flavorful hues

Vinegar or catsup, which condiment would you choose?

Push it with soda, beer or water

But, oh, does it matter?

And even as we enjoy this Ilocano delight

Of, by, and for us

We concede: burgers can be good, too, alright.

With diverse tones, thus.. In God, we trust

Over, Empanada we crave

And, hopefully, burp.

2 Comments

Filed under Food, Ilocos

Michael, how could you?

The bell tower of Paoay Church is defiled by a man named Michael, or by someone deeply in love with a Michael. That this graffiti has been there for over a year disturbs me. Now, there are at least two other names “inscribed” at the base of this tourist attraction. What person in a healthy state of mind would do this to a Unesco World Heritage Site?

Paoay Church Belfry (11/21/2011)

TRIVIA: The three-storey coral stone bell tower which stands to the right of the church served as an observation post in 1896 for the Katipuneros during the Philippine revolution against the Spaniards, and again by the Filipino guerillas during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

According to historians, the bell tower also served as a status symbol for the locals. The bell would ring more loudly and more times during the wedding of a prominent clan that it would during the wedding of the poor.

Source: http://digitaljournal.com/blog/3098

10 Comments

Filed under Ilocos, Tourism

But did tourists come?

I ARGUE, dear karikna, that the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office folks are the busiest bees in this part of the world. And I argue further that their queen bee, Governor Imee Marcos is Awesome with a capital A. After the successful staging of the Sineng Pambansa here in Ilocos, they initiated a series of events for Halloween, the most notable being the Parada Iloca-locana held last October 31 in Laoag, from the cemetery down to the centro.

Viewers, including my dad who sits on a wheelchair, were so happy with the event. He was even doing the high five with zombies, white ladies, and elementals. I heard others who saw the event murmur, “First time detoy aya? Nagmayat.” (This is the first time, right?  Beautiful.) Beautiful, however, may seem an inappropriate term, because the parade participants were no doubt at their scariest best. But really, the event is very uplifting. It makes you feel that something good is really happening in Ilocos. Day after that, it was the eerie Tumba Festival’s turn to paint the town black in Paoay.

Did tourists come because of these recent events? No, not yet. But we are definitely moving in the right direction. We must continue to make Ilocos a fun place so guests would be enticed enough to hit the long road up North. There must always be a show to go to, a spectacle to marvel at, an experience to try, and temptations that are impossible to resist.

I am glad there is no stopping. Before I can even congratulate the masterminds, here comes the Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals unfolding next week.

6 Comments

Filed under Festivals, Ilocos, Tourism

Bura vs Bora

Room 137, The Manor Hotel, Camp John Hay. I am in Baguio as I write this, but two other places are on my mind.

Last month, I had the chance to join a trip to Boracay, which I first visited in 1999. I trooped to the world-famous beach along with colleagues from the local media, particularly those from the Provincial Capitol Press Corps. Of course, we had a lot of fun. The beach was superb.  And there was overflowing beer and wine, countless platters of gustatory delights, and a lot of the three S= Swimming, Shopping, and Sayawan. No, there was no fourth S, it was all clean fun. Continue reading

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Filed under Ilocos, Tourism

Before Celdran, there was Rafales

AND THE present pales in comparison to the past.

Carlos Celdran, a well-known tourist guide, made news recently when he walked into the Manila Cathedral in the middle of a Mass and shouted, “Down with Padre Damaso!”  in protest of the church’s arrogant blocking of the Reproductive Health Bill.

There were mixed reviews of Celdran’s theatrics.  A few said  it went overboard, that it was tasteless, even “bastos,” but most were appreciative, thrilled, even blown away by his act.  Many felt that Celdran did what they would themselves do if only they can muster the same amount of courage.  “His stunt was not only brilliant, it was one of the most classy protest we have seen in many years,” said one fan.

I agree, Celdran did well.  Few people know, however, that two and a half decades before the Manila Cathedral incident, something like it happened at the St. William’s Cathedral in Laoag, and it was even more meaningful and classier. Continue reading

19 Comments

Filed under Church, Government/Politics, Ilocos

I am Makoy

TIME HAS COME, dear karikna, to make Ferdinand Marcos more relevant to our times.  I feel that our people are ready to give the man a second look, to unravel his life with new eyes, to look past the thickly waxed cadaver displayed for nearly two decades now in a Mausoleum in his hometown Batac.

A survey conducted by Pulse Asia earlier this year reveals that Marcos is regarded by our people as one of the most loved Filipinos of all time.  It came as a surprise because the former president and his family are constantly vilified, demonized, even ridiculed in media.  This result is validated by the political comeback of his widow Imelda, and children Bongbong and Imee.

It was not difficult to undo my initial bias against Marcos after realizing that he was beyond doubt the greatest social architect this country has nurtured.  I believe that his vision of “Ang Bagong Lipunan” was sincere, courageous, revolutionary.  He knew just exactly what he wanted for our country and he had a blueprint on how things can get done. From infrastructure to participatory democracy to Cultural Revolution to educational reforms and values reorientation, Marcos did more than his fair share.

True, he was a dictator who suspended some of our freedoms, and it’s ok with me. I can trade in some of my freedoms for food security, for jobs, and for real and lasting progress.  Marcos was brave and brilliant, sinister and cunning. People question his motives.  One thing is sure: he loved us Ilocanos, and he was proud of our people. That is why most of his trusted men were from the North. I love Marcos, and love needs no explanations. Love, in fact, defies reason.  As French philosopher Blaise Pascal puts it, “The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.”  Uncle Gerry, my uncle, was an activist during the martial law era, but he ended up being a Marcos loyalist… and up to this day.

Madame Imelda posits that Marcos became a great Filipino because he was, first and foremost, an Ilocano.  An Ilocano is naturally resilient, resourceful, industrious, brilliant, and God-fearing.  She posits that Marcos became a good Filipino by being a G.I., genuine Ilocano.

I totally agree, and it is in this context that I broached the idea of an “I am Makoy” campaign, to Madame Imelda no less, during a seven-hour brainstorming session held at MMSU last month.  Now that we have established the greatness of The Apo, time has come to develop more Marcoses, in ourselves, especially those in the younger generations.  Marcos must be demystified, reinvented, popularized so we can draw him closer to our children.

Yes, this idea is not exactly original as it was done, too, for Ninoy Aquino in the “I am Ninoy” campaign, but the nobility of the Filipino soul, dear karikna, is no monopoly of anyone.  The seed of greatness is in human nature, and no one can rightfully claim exclusive rights to it in the same manner that Noynoy Aquino could not claim patent to a shining, shimmering, widening forehead, which I also have. Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Government/Politics, History

Sex in our City: porn call centers flourish in Laoag

WE KNOW it happens somewhere, we know it abounds elsewhere, it is all over the Internet, yet it hurts deeply when it strikes home.  Porn-oriented call centers are here, and growing.

What began as underground operations in computer shops four years ago are now well established and stable.  There are at least four call centers of this kind operating in Laoag City.  Quite ironically, the biggest is located just a stone’s throw away from Bishop Sergio Utleg’s Palace.  Two are in the business district while one is situated within the vicinity of a public high school.  And there could be more.

Similar call centers also existed in Batac and Paoay, but were closed down because they did not have requisite permits.  Though of smaller scale compared to those located in Laoag, some are believed to be operating in San Nicolas.  Who would have thought that activities like these happen even in sleepy towns?

These call centers are not easy to spot, as most of them do not have conspicuous signage.  Their office set-up is not unlike that of a typical computer shop, you would think people inside are just the usual computer addicts, especially because most of them are young.

Mostly funded by foreigners who have local counterparts, these establishments choose to operate here not only due to cheap labor, but more because of the absence of strong Internet laws against online scam and fraud.  “Manggagago lang tayo ng Amerikano, kikita na tayo ng malaki habang nakaupo,” (Just by fooling foreigners, we can already earn big, and we are just seated.) is their trainors’ inspirational mantra to every new batch of call center agents. Continue reading

31 Comments

Filed under Sex

Seeing through the poverty line

(This is an article written by Stanley Palisada of ABS-CBN.  Your karikna was interviewed as one of six resource persons across the nation.)

MANY FILIPINOS are really sick and tired of being poor in pocket, in spirit and in association. Presidential aspirants spouting off promises to end poverty should think twice about using campaign lines that patronize Filipino misery. To a growing number of voters, such a campaign is insulting and debasing, to say the least.

Beyond sympathy for the poor or association with poverty, provincial voters now look for substance from their candidates.

“Think twice,” says U.P. Visayas Political Science Professor Joseph Loot, who believes promises to ease poverty and coming up with concrete solutions to eradicate poverty are like night and day and provincial voters know the difference.

“Our candidates just keep filibustering on poverty but they are not acting on it,” says Loot. “None of the presidential or vice presidential candidates have really addressed it.”

Although we have not fully matured as an electorate, it now takes more than a promise to end poverty to get the votes. Poverty as a campaign thrust may even be a futile advertising exercise because voters already know that many of today’s presidential aspirants do not have a track record of alleviating poverty while they were senators or congressmen. “We’re basically looking at the same dogs wearing different collars,” says Loot.

Candidates have to come up with a better campaign line, especially those seeking re-election or aspiring for the presidency. Whatever it is– it should be refreshing and unique, if they are to spark renewed interest among the provincial electorate. Continue reading

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Filed under Government/Politics, Ilocos, Revolution

Eloquent Rudy, idealistic Kris, and confused Atong

(L-R) Rudy Fariñas, Kris Ablan, and Atong Peralta photos by Czaryna Zai Mari

I WANTED Teteng Sales to be in the forum sponsored by student journalists of the Divine Word College of Laoag last Feb. 24. The former Pagudpud mayor, who claims he won the congressional race in 2007 over incumbent Roque Ablan Jr., intrigues me. I know so little about his position on issues, and I wanted to validate the general impression that he is an intellectual lightweight.

Apparently, however, he ignored the invitation to the event, the first congressional forum to happen in the province after the filing of certificates of candidacy. According to organizers, Teteng’s camp received the letter of invitation, and no less than his wife Maja was informed of the undertaking, but that they never sent a word, which is worse than begging off.

Former Sarrat Mayor Chito Ruiz was also unable to attend as he was in Manila, but his staff took time to convey the candidate’s regrets.

There was another congressional forum that was supposed to transpire last Feb. 26, the Anti-Kadiri Movement’s Congressional Hour. It was postponed, however, because Gibo’s visit to the province on that day made some personalities unavailable. Leaders of this anti-trapo movement say Teteng has also been ignored them.

This is sad, dear karikna, because candidates owe it to us, the voting public, to explain their stands on matters of public concern. Teteng’s popularity in the past was mainly due to the people’s tiredness of the old Ablan, a traditional politician who has been a fixture in the local political scene for decades. I say this will no longer be enough political capital for Teteng as he now faces four other candidates: Ruiz, Former Congressman/Governor Rudy Fariñas, Board Member Atong Peralta, and Ablan’s son Kris.

Rudy Fariñas was in his usual element. He was eloquent and sharp, an observation shared by Prof. Fides Bitanga, forum moderator. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Government/Politics, Ilocos, ReproductiveHealthBill, Sociology

Congressional Forum unfolds

THE WILLIAMITE, official publication of Divine Word College of Laoag (DWCL), is holding a congressional forum for contenders in the first district on Feb. 24, Wednesday.  All five candidates—Kris Ablan, Rudy Fariñas, Atong Peralta, Chito Ruiz, and Teteng Sales are expected to participate in this event that will give student leaders, student journalists, professors from different universities in the province, representatives from various sectors, and the general public a chance to discuss salient issues with the contenders.

Only 500 persons can be accommodated at the venue, the newly-opened St. Joseph’s Audtorium at DWCL, so better to make seat reservations should you decide to come.  Contact Jaime Lao, The Williamite’s editor in chief at 09293051987.

Hope you could come, dear karikna, but, if you couldn’t, what questions would you have wanted to ask the candidates?

31 Comments

Filed under Debate, Education, Government/Politics, Ilocos

Michael Keon’s perfect script …and other political tidbits

(This column appears in The Ilocos Times this week.  I quoted some of your comments posted here in this blog so a wider readership can partake in your wisdom.  Keep ‘em coming, dear karikna.)


WHOEVER HELPED Governor Michael Marcos Keon (MMK) draft the speech he delivered in his press conference, Feb. 8, must be commended.

First off, it seemed spontaneous.  “Let me speak from my heart,” he said.  And the piece did sound sincere.  As a speechwriter myself, however, I know it was carefully crafted and executed.

He began by relating the series of events that led to his running for reelection as governor opposite his cousin Imee Marcos.  He gave his story, his version of the story, which is very much different from what I heard from Imee in an interview she gave your karikna a couple of weeks back.

Anyway, why they both decided to run does not interest me much.  It’s given, they are both running.  Period.  It’s time to move on.

The best part came when MMK said that although this battle is the hardest one he ever had to face, he will carry on because he is running not as much for winning as it is for finding personal closure.  “I do not want to spend the rest of my life asking myself what the result would have been had I run,” he said, on a very pensive note.

He cast no stones on the person of anyone, and tackled the issues on the level of reason.

How could you, dear karikna, go against a man who is searching for answers in life, and who is holding on to his dignity?

The press conference, broadcast on cable television, was held immediately after Keon’s allies at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan lost the vote on the issue of Tobacco Excise Tax monetization.  Such event provided a very good backdrop to the presscon.  Emotions were high, and the losers were expecting  public sympathy.

The governor’s two children from Australia were there, and so were a number of mayors, to show solid support for MMK.

*****

IMEE is not at all bothered that most of the mayors throw their support to her political opponent.

“Good leadership is not about making the mayors happy.  It’s about making the people happy by serving their interests well,” she said.

Besides, she is confident that some mayors will eventually cross the fence.  “They are just waiting for the right time.”  She explains that these mayors do not want to have their projects derailed and so they are sticking it out with the governor, but only in the meantime.

Let’s see.  As with the past, Balimbing is the fruit of the season. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Government/Politics, Ilocos

Utang na Loob

ELECTION PERODS are always of great interest to social observers. The ballot reflects the people’s frame of mind, their values, their hopes and fears, and even their resignation to fate. What candidates do to win votes also tells a lot about the level of our political maturity.

Observing elections in the Philippines is both exciting and frustrating. Exciting because, by and at large, campaigns are run like a circus, but frustrating, too, because we observe how painfully slow we move, if at all, towards clean, honest, credible, and enlightened elections.

Ilocos Norte politics is sizzling hot at this time, what with two Marcoses gunning for the gubernatorial post.

Former 2nd District Representative Imee Marcos, daughter of the late president, is up against her cousin, incumbent governor Michael Marcos Keon (MMK).

The Imee camp is reportedly raising the issue of “Utang na Loob” against MMK, who previously enjoyed the support of the Marcoses, especially in 2007 when he ran for and won the governor’s post previously held by now congressman Bongbong Marcos, who is running for a senate seat. Continue reading

19 Comments

Filed under Government/Politics, Ilocos, Uncategorized

Thank you, Ramos Family

THE ILOCOS TIMES turns half a century plus two years in the service of the Ilocano, and it is fitting that we thank the family behind the institution.

While this paper is a family business, I don’t think its continuous operation is driven by profit.  Community newspapers are not known as big earners.  Truth to tell, many local newspapers in different provinces have folded up into oblivion on account of financial woes.  In Ilocos Norte alone, a couple of weeklies have come and gone, and only The Ilocos Times remains legitimate and strong.

Members of the Ramos Family, I’m sure, make sacrifices to let this paper thrive.  I assume there are issues when advertisements do not suffice to cover the cost of printing, even as the paper is sold at only seven pesos a copy, one of the cheapest in the Milky Way galaxy. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Family, Ilocos, Media

Mga Larawan sa Maharot na Dilim (Unang Bahagi)

(Nais kong ibahagi sa inyo ang isang sanaysay na sinulat ng isa sa aking mga pinakamahusay at pinakamasigasig na mag-aaral—si Cherry Gatiw-an. Tungkol ito sa kanyang mga karanasan sa pagsasagawa ng pananaliksik sa red district dito sa Ilocos. Si Cherry ay isang third-year Sociology student ng MMSU. Siya ay tubong Pudtol, Apayao.)

PARADISE of the Low-Flying Palomas kung tawagin ang lugar na iyon. Ang mga babae ay mga mumunting kagamitang may katapat na presyo, mga paninda. Bilang isang babae, nasasaktan ako.

Hawak ang kapirasong sulat na pirmado ng aking guro, pinuntahan ko ang kontrobersyal na pook. Agad kong hinagilap ang pangulo ng samahan ng mga may-ari ng mga bahay-aliwan. Pagkaraang makatanggap ng pahintulot mula sa kanya, agad kong sinimulan ang aking pakay— ang gumawa ng pananaliksik kung ano ang totoong nangyayari doon. Sa tanang buhay ko, noon lamang ako nakapasok sa tinatawag nilang night club.

Hindi naging madali ang pagpunta ko lugar.

Paano ko makalilimutan ang taas-babang tingin sa akin ng mga tricycle driver sa tuwing sasabihin ko kung saan ako papunta? Ako na pabalik-balik sa bahay-aliwan—paano ko sila mapaniniwala na hindi ako tulad ng iniisip nila? Continue reading

39 Comments

Filed under Gender, Sociology

Portrait of a writer as Ilocano:A tribute to Sozimo Ma. Pablico (1938-2009)

(Sosimo Ma. Pablico, agriculture columnist of The Ilocos Times, passed away last April 22 at age 70. Survived by his wife Barbie and son Paul Ethelbert, his remains lie in state in San Fernando, La Union.)

I FIRST knew about SMAP (read as ismap, by which he was fondly called) when I was doing research as a graduate student in Sociology. I came across an article he wrote about Ilocano rituals and practices for the dead, which was published in a national daily. Short but instructive, his article was of great help to my study.

When I applied for a teaching post in MMSU, I was excited to meet the man, to tell him how much he has inspired me as a writer and social researcher. Thrilled I was to be assigned to the Social Sciences Department of the College of Arts and Sciences where he belonged, only to find out that he had retired a few years earlier. I had to be content with looking at his face in a group picture (which proudly adorns a wall in our office) with other “pillars” of the department.

Later on, SMAP and I would cross paths, albeit only in the pages of The Ilocos Times where I write an opinion column, and where he was the agriculture columnist. Having no agricultural background, I must admit that I could not fully understand most of his articles. Behind the technical jargon, however, I could sense his intense desire to uplift the life of farmers, and to promote efficient and sustainable farming methods and strategies. In his writings, I felt the energy of a man many decades younger his age. Continue reading

109 Comments

Filed under Heroes, Rural, Sociology

Laoag dads dignify ‘palakasan’, adopt Mikey Arroyo as son

mikey_arroyoJUAN MIGUEL “MIKEY” MACAPAGAL ARROYO, eldest child of the most distrusted president in Philippine history, was recently declared by the Laoag City council as an adopted son of the city.

Based on a news report written by Dominic Dela Cruz and published inconspicuously in an inside page (meaning: treated as a story of little significance) in last week’s issue of the Ilocos Times, city officials explain that the resolution “seeks to recognize Arroyo’s assistance to the marginalized sector of the city through his endorsement of their medical cases to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) which in turn granted medical and social services to the needy constituents of the city”.

The sponsor of the said resolution is Laoag Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president and city council ex-officio member Chevylle V. Fariñas, who is strongly convinced of Arroyo’s worthiness of said recognition.

According to the feng shui-guided Fariñas, also the city’s first lady, the PCSO would not have denied the people’s request but that the Pampanga solon’s recommendation—being a son of the President of the Republic—made it easier and faster (emphasis mine) for those who need help to be granted their requests. Continue reading

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Filed under Government/Politics, Ilocos, Sociology

(un)Quotable quote

mayor-michael-farinas

“Now, whatever they [critics] say, let it be. I hear it on my left ear and I let it go out on my other ear.”

-Laoag City Mayor Michael V. Fariñas, referring to the critics of his Rang-ay ti Barangay program, wherein city officials go to every barangay to conduct consultation and socialization with the folks.


I personally believe that the Rang-ay program is well-intentioned, but something is ironic with the statement coming from a person who projects himself as a believer in dialogue. While feedback is an important element in a democracy, a man who hears unfavorable comments on one ear and lets them go out through the other (without mention of any processing that goes in the gray matter in between), only fuels more speculations on the sincerity of his acts.


The mayor could have said it this way, “I respect my critics’ opinions, which I have given enough thought and consideration. But after carefully weighing the issues, I remain deeply convinced of the importance of the program, and in the interest of service I decide to carry on.”


But this is so ideal. I concede that when the pidit-pidit (earlobe) gets oh-so-hot, we say things we don’t really mean… or mean things we don’t actually say.

38 Comments

Filed under Government/Politics, Ilocos

Redefining rivalry, top 2 grads take competition in stride

Magna cum Laudes being grilled by your karikna

Magna cum Laudes being grilled by your karikna

THE RIVALRY could have been as fierce as the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton match. After all, at stake was the honor of being this year’s top graduate in a well-esteemed university.

But for Kathleen L. Hortelano and Julius-Ver A. De Guzman, who were classmates in all of their four years at the Mariano Marcos State University, the competition was anything but cruel.

For one, while they may have excelled in accountancy, the course was not really their first love. Hortelano wanted to be a soldier like her father while De Guzman dreamt of becoming a doctor like his eldest brother. As it turned out, destiny had other designs for the two. They took up BS Accountancy and the rest is sweet history. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Education, Kuwento, Philosophy

Pretentious & meaningless, Pamulinawen Festival kicks off

St. William the Hermit, Patron of Laoagueños, did not exactly relish fiestas

St. William the Hermit, Patron of Laoagueños, did not exactly relish fiestas.

The revelry leading to the February 10 Feast Day of St. William, patron of the city, begins today.

The Laoag City Fiesta I have grown up to know was simple, dry, and forgettable.  There were strings of parades, yes, but with very little  fanfare.  Then until now, the main attraction is a karnibal, which is not even 1/1000 as good as Enchanted Kingdom, located under the Gilbert Bridge.  There, I remember going to freak shows of sirena (mermaid), babaeng ahas (lady snake), babaeng pusit (lady squid), and other human beings whose physical deformities have been exploited in cash ‘s name. Continue reading

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Filed under Church, Festivals, Filipino, Ilocos, Religion, Tourism, Traditions

Academicians critique priest’s book on Aglipayanism

scan0015

FR. ERICSON JOSUE is one of few Catholic priests I admire. Besides being bright and hardworking, he is humble and sensitive. We have known each other since our early teens (when he was still so lanky while I was then too fat), and I have always held him in high regard.

While other priests were busy attending parties, grooming expensive dogs, and constructing an ostentatious swimming pool in the Bishop’s Palace, Ericson had been busy writing books. Only in his early thirties, this son of Pasuquin has already published his second research output. “Out of the Depths”, which came out last December, tackles the phenomenal rise and eventual decline of Aglipayanism.

Well-meaning scholars must be given support and due recognition, and so I encourage my students and friends to read the book, if only to generate intelligent and enlightened discourse, a rarity in the Church (and government) these days.

Here, allow me to share excerpts of an interview conducted by students with Professor Fides Bernardo A. Bitanga, who teaches Sociology of Religion in the Mariano Marcos State University. Bitanga is also the new Editor-in-Chief of Sabangan, a social sciences publication in MMSU.

Continue reading

30 Comments

Filed under Books, Church, Heroes, Ilocos, Revolution

Budding Sociologists tackle the laoagcentralissue

 

Young Ilocano Sociologists at work

Young Ilocano Sociologists at work

INSTEAD of submitting tired academic papers, my students in Sociology of Development are working on a blog (http://laoagcentralissue.wordpress.com).

Using the sociological lens, the blog tackles the complex issues that surround the construction of a mall in downtown Laoag.

My students’ zest in posting entries there is fueled not only of their aspirations for high marks, but more so of their desire to generate intelligent and enlightened discussion on the implications of the mall project to development.

Continue reading

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Filed under Church, Education, Government/Politics, LaoagCentralElem, Sociology

Kariknas from Toronto wish us good health

thumbs-up Oh, the downside of urban life!

In the away (rural areas), everybody is usually aware of the developments, no matter how trivial, in their neighbors’ lives. The same could not be said of our neighborhood in the Laoag City poblacion.

I did not know that Manong Gerry Lagasca, a neighbor since birth, has long moved to Canada until he visited my blog and sent me an email recently.

In the course of our online correspondence, he mentioned about a noteworthy project our kariknas there are undertaking. A group of Laoag City-born Canadians now residing in Toronto, Ontario has launched a campaign to raise funds for the Provincial Hospital and the Laoag City General Hospital. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Health, Ilocos, Migration, Neighbors, PinoyPride

My Favorite 2009 Calendar

trix-calendar3

Former UP Student Council Chair and now Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Kris Ablan sent me 3 copies of this novel calendar.

More than the visual feast the calendar offers, it is my favorite because of what it represents.

Kris writes in his blog:

The project was actually conceptualized many, many years ago when my dad came out with calendars with his face as the main picture (like all politicians with calendar giveaways).  I thought to myself, “What if people didn’t want to look at your face every day.”  “What if they just wanted to see scenery.”

If a politician wants to be “remembered,” why doesn’t he just put his name at a corner of the calendar and put some worthy pictures instead.
You see, karikna, I have never been a fan of Kris’ father who has been my congressman for most of my life, and who seems every inch traditional and jaded.  But this bespectacled young man represents what a new breed of Ilocano leaders should be: thinking, sensible, sensitive, and virtuous.
I look at that calendar each day and tell myself: Yes, there is hope.

6 Comments

Filed under Personals, PinoyPride, Places, Revolution, Tourism

Dear MMSU

mariano_marcos_state_university

Today, you turn 31.

The past year, one of your children was hailed one of  Ten Outstanding Students in the Philippines.  Also, a mentor bagged the coveted Metrobank Outstanding Teacher plum.

You have produced topnotchers and victors, and brought home a number of awards, but your greatest achievement lies in helping improve the lives of families and communities.  In 2008, you brought home the Most Outstanding Extension Program, besting all other universities in the country, proof that your excellence goes beyond instruction inside the classroom and extends to greater, nobler roles in human development.

mmsu-logo1

In 1978, you immediately built your reputation as the best university in the northern regions.  Today, you wow the nation with your feats.

Happy anniv, MaMaSU.  We love you.

5 Comments

Filed under Education

Kampay!

I may have been too busy drinking gulping SanMig Light the past years that I failed to notice one good alak manufactured right here in Sunshine City Laoag.

Discovered it lately through a blog entry detailing  a tambay at tagay night held by YTRIP (a youth-led NGO that promotes sustainable local tourism and responsible travel) in the last quarter of 2008.  The group got several bottles of wine from parts of Luzon and tried, tasted, and drank the night away.

Their exhibits included:

Bugnay (Ilocos)
Basi (Ilocos)
Duhat (Ilocos)
Pineapple (??)
Camote with Pineapple (Banaue)
Tapuey (light) (Banaue)
Tapuey (toasted) (Banaue)
Lambanog (Quezon)
Strawberry (Benguet)
Grape (Benguet)

While they concluded that…

The night’s biggest favorites (the winners!!) were the Tapuey (light), Tapuey (toasted), and the Lambanog. And that the losers being the Strawberry and Grape wines.

duhat-wine4.., the Duhat Wine, according to three tasters, is “the closest to how wine would/should taste like”.

I agree.  Suabe ang guhit sa lalamunan. Sarap ng tama. It’s a bonus that it also offers all the health benefits that red wine promises, i.e. good for the heart, antioxidant, anti-cancer properties.  Yes, it is as good for the body as it is for the spirit.

The delight that is the Duhat Wine is actually a product of careful research and product development conducted by Cormel Foods with the support of the Department of Science and Technology and the Mariano Marcos State University (where I teach).

At  just 150Php a bottle, oh my, das leben ist gut!

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Filed under Personals, PinoyPride, Rural, The Good Life, Tourism

Finally, an honest-to-goodness night market

THE LAOAG CITY NIGHT MARKET IS A BEAUTY TO BEHOLD. Anyone who has a clear pair of eyes and who has entered the city via the Laoag Padsan Bridge on a Wednesday or Friday night would attest to this. Well-lighted and symmetrically arranged, white tents flashing the trademark “sunshine city” logo seem like fairies welcoming you to newfound paradise.

Located at the sunset boulevard right across city hall and below the four-lane Padsan Bridge, Laoag’s is one of only two night markets that I take my hats off to, the other being the Marikina Night Market, which, incidentally, is also set up in the city’s riverbanks-cum-park.

It took a long journey before the night market finally found home. It started in 2002 in downtown Bonifacio Street, which was crowded and suffocating. On account of issues legal, it was later transferred at the vicinity of the city public market. Plagued by garbage problems and cold public response, everybody thought the night market had (almost) died.

But leave it to Mayor Michael Farinas and her tourism-genius-of-a-wife Chevylle to pull a magical string. They transformed, in the words of fellow writer Cristina Arzadon, “what was formerly a dark and decaying section of the Padsan river dike to a well-lighted boulevard complete with shaded structures for those spending time gazing at the majestic view of the Laoag bridge at night”. This now is home to the night market.

The existence of places like these where you can buy wallet-friendly commodities is a welcome respite for consumers like me who are already battered heavily by the global economic crunch. From clothes to house ware to fashion accessories, toys, trinkets, coloring books and more, the night market offers dirt-cheap joys.

Transcending the material, it is also heartwarming to see families, friends, and lovers celebrate the joys of togetherness while enjoying the scene. Cheerful Smiles. Friendly Embraces. Holding hands. Locked arms. The night market is certainly not just a market at night.

While there, don’t miss Gina’s Goto, atbp., a real gustatory delight. Always served hot, Gina’s goto is a mouth-watering antithesis to the December breeze. Their vegetarian pansit, matched with pickled kangkong stalks, is also a certified hit not only to our Muslim brethren, but to anyone who craves for something tasty, sans the guilt.

I was tempted to write about the night market in the middle of this year but thought to give it some time, given Filipinos’ ningas cogon attitude. I wanted to wait and see whether this beauty does not fade faster than I can say “Merry Christmas”.

Guess what? The night market is even more robust than when it reopened five months ago. With police and security personnel quietly looking after peace and order, and with both vendors and buyers maintaining the cleanliness that Laoag is so well-known for, the promise of paradise is kept.

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Kissing the hand but avoiding the ring

BISHOP SERGIO UTLEG sent me an email asking if I could meet him personally regarding my previous column [“Slap the Bishops: Support the Reproductive Health Bill (IT, Nov. 10-16)].

Initially, I was bent to shun the proposed meeting because I don’t exactly love being in awkward situations. Convinced, however, that what the bishop has to say deserves my ear, I obliged.

I thought of inviting the bishop to our place for dinner, but my mom, a daily communicant and church volunteer, strongly opposed. It was one of the rare moments she was not proud of me, she panicked at the prospect of the bishop discovering that I am her son.

So, on Wednesday evening, I asked my friend Angelica Salas to accompany me to the Bishop’s Palace to meet His Excellency. Putting her best foot forward, my usually vivacious Mareng Angge transformed into a “mayuming katekista” the soonest we stepped on palace grounds.

A blue barong-clad Utleg welcomed us at the Palace lobby and led us to his office. And when we were seated, he looked at my eyes and flashed a toothy smile for a few seconds that seemed to me like eternity. He began the conversation by asking why I wrote of him as a bishop “best known today not for anything spiritual”. He said he was curious to know, and wondered if it was because he is often seen bicycling. Continue reading

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A fellow Ilocano Bedan writes

Glenn George G. Cajigal, former Vice Mayor of Badoc town, writes via e-mail:

I READ your column on Ilocano Bedans and Red Lions Fans. I am a Bedan and I really love to watch the NCAA games, especially those that are played in by the San Beda Red Lions, the number one team in the league right now.

You were able to mention some Bedans in our province. Allow me to add to your list. I know a few like Vice Mayor Allan Nalupta of Batac, his brother Brgy. Chairman Thirdee Nalupta, and their cousin Charles Nalupta. There is also a certain Pinong of Batac who happens to be my classmate in CAS Batch ‘93. Then there’s Mr. Allan Lao of Laoag City, Atty. Angel Miranda Jr., and Elmer Rubio of Badoc. My family members also belong to the Bedan community: my dad Judge Novato Cajigal (San Beda Law), my brothers Marcus and Novato Jr. are sons of Mendiola, too.

Herdy, I like your idea about creating an organization of Bedans in our province. Just let me know and am very much willing to help and support you. Thanks and more power.

Herdy’s Riknakem: Looking forward to working with you, brother. Salamat for your support. Animo!

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Ang gurong ‘di nagpasalamat



NAIS KONG IBAHAGI ang isang karanasan ko nu’ng bago pa lang ako sa MMSU. Unang semester ko noon ng pagtuturo sa unibersidad.

Ako ay bahagi ng College of Arts and Sciences o CAS. Kapag faculty ka sa kolehiyong ito ay lilibutin mo ang iba’t ibang mga gusali para sa iyong mga klase. Itinayo sa mahigit sa isandaang ektaryang lupain, malawak ang MMSU at magkakalayo ang mga building kung kaya’t sumasakay kami sa tricycle madalas, lalo na kung sobrang init o umuulan, kapag gahol ka na sa oras, o kung pagod at tinatamad ka nang maglakad.

Minsan, mula sa CAS papuntang CBEA, isang kolehiyong may kalayuan, ay may nakasabay akong isang guro at isang estudyante sa pagbiyahe. Ako at ang guro (mga 40 pataas ang edad, babae) ay nasa loob ng tricycle samantalang ang estudyante naman ay nag-“backride”, sumakay sa may likuran ng drayber.

Tinanong ako ni Ma’am kung saan ako bababa. “Sa CBEA po,” aking tugon. At di na kami nag-usap pa.

Naunang bumaba si Ma’am sa isang mas malapit na gusali, nagbayad siya at sinabi sa drayber, “Duwakam ditoyen” (Dalawa na kami dito). Ang initial reaction ko e magpasalamat lalo na’t hindi pa ako sumasahod noon, pero bigla akong napatigil at tinanong sa aking sarili, “Sino ba ang inilibre niya? Ako ba o ’yung estudyante? Baka naman ‘yung estudyante kasi ay di pa naman kami magkakilala ni Ma’am.” Hayyy, ang hirap! Kapag nagpasalamat ako at hindi pala ako ’yung inilibre, mapapahiya ako at baka ganun din si Ma’am. Awkward ‘yung sabihin ni Ma’am: Ay, sori, haan nga sika’t impletyak, diya’y ubing (Sorry, hindi ikaw ang inilibre ko, ‘yung bata). Ngunit, kapag ako pala ’yung inilibre at hindi ako nakapagpasalamat, nakahihiya naman… at baka maipamalita pa ni Ma’am na “’yung bagong faculty e hindi marunong ng tamang asal”. Dahil ‘di ko malaman ang gagawin, hindi na lang ako nagpasalamat.

Pagdating sa CBEA, sinubukan kong magbayad. Kapag tinanggap ng drayber ang pamasahe ko, aba’y mabubunutan ako ng tinik dahil hindi naman pala ako ’yung inilibre. Ngunit kapag hindi niya tinanggap ang bayad ko, patay! Dyahe kay Ma’am.

Tinanggap ito ng drayber… kaya’t ako’y napangiti. Nu’ng paalis na ’yung tricycle, ipinaalala ko sa estudyante, “Ading, ’wag ka nang magbayad ha, inilibre ka na ni Ma’am”. Ang malaking ngiti sa aking mukha ay nalusaw na parang ice cream (ube flavor) nu’ng makita ko ang reaksyon ng bata: bakas sa kanyang mukha ang pagtataka at pagkagulat. Hindi pala niya kilala si Ma’am, at mukhang sa tingin niya ay hindi naman siya ililibre nito.

Sus! Malamang ay ako pala ang pinagmagandahang-loob. Ano ba’ng buhay ‘to? Nang dahil sa pitumpisong pamasahe ay nagulo ang mundo ko.

Alam kong magkikita pa kaming muli ni Ma’am kaya puwede pa sana akong bumawi, ang problema ay hindi ako matandain sa mga mukha. Malamang, ‘pag magkasalubong kaming muli e hindi ko siya mamumukhaan.

Ang solusyon? Nginingitian ko na lang lahat ng aking makasalubong. Hindi lang basta ngiti ha… Hindi ngiting pitumpiso… Kundi ‘yun bang smile ng batang ibinilhan mo ng pitong Happy Meal sa McDo. Ayun.

At mukhang epektib naman. Mahigit isang taon na mula noon e ‘di pa naman kumakalat na ako’y isang taong hindi marunong mag-tenkyu. Sa ating kultura pa naman, napakahalaga ng pagpapasalamat. Hindi naman dahil sa naghahanap tayo ng kapalit sa ating mabuting gawain kundi dahil sa kapag hindi mo na-appreciate ang kabutihang-loob ng iyong kapwa ay parang binale-wala mo na rin ang kanyang buong pagkatao. Sensitib tayong mga Pinoy dito.

Ang leksiyon: ang inyong abang lingkod ay malugod pa ring tatanggap ng inyong tulong, sa loob man o labas ng tricycle. Sana lang ay pakilinaw ha. Tenk yu. Siyanga pala, bakit naman ganun si Manong Drayber, tanggap lang nang tanggap?! At si backrider, nabagabag rin kaya ang kalooban tulad ko?

At sa iyo, Madam Mapagbigay, marami pong salamat. Hindi lamang sa baryang inyong ibinahagi, kundi pati na rin sa pagkakataong ako’y makapagnilay-nilay at masuri ang aking pakikipagkapwa. At dahil ‘di kita namukhaan kaya’t di ako makaganti. Sa aking muling pagsakay ay aalalahanin ko na lamang ang iyong magandang halimbawa. Sino man ang makasabay, ako naman ang taya.

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Attn: Bedans and Red Lions fans. Let’s cheer and drink beer




“When I would approach the coliseum, my foolish heart would thump wildly. A loss could mean the campus would be in mourning. The heroes got to the mountain top.”

-Rene A.V. Saguisag
Former Senator, San Beda alumnus

Umpa! Umpa! Umpa! Umpa!
Beda Beda Beda Beda Fight Fight Fight!
Hey U Kim Kum Kawa!

I KNOW SO LITTLE ABOUT BASKETBALL. All my life, I have played hoops but once, and that was in freshman high school physical education. It was a fifty-second stint briefly punctuated by a traveling violation. I never tried again.

But then, in the past ten years, since I stepped in the hallowed grounds of San Beda, I have always been an ardent supporter of the Red Lions and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Even now that I am working, I would not think twice of taking a leave from work so I won’t miss an important game, the same is true with many of our alumni; PLDT/SMART Chair Manny Pangilinan would certainly agree. And, why not? Some people go to spa parlors to regain spent energy. We go to the NCAA games.

I still know so little about fouls, violations, and the rudiments of basketball. I usually wait for other Bedans to clap before I do. (Sometimes I cheer, by mistake, for the opposing team), but I have mastered the art of shouting “defense!”, have memorized every letter and note of our cheers and yells, and have also gotten used to going home with a heavy heart after watching the Red Lions lose in games that they could have handily won.

For twenty eight years since their victory over Ateneo in 1978, the Lions never won a championship. Those were decades of heartbreak and despair. But even the darkest of sagas do end. The story changed two years ago when lady luck smiled and the opposing team’s buzzer-beater shot failed. We won the do-or-die match by a balding man’s hair strand. We grabbed the championship. Our battlecry, End 28 at 82!, was prophetic. We ended 28 years of defeat in Season 82.

I was lucky to be at the Araneta Coliseum when it happened. For a while, I could not believe that we had actually ended nearly three decades of title drought. I only realized that we made it won when a stranger embraced me tightly and we both wept. Indeed, it was a night when you could embrace anybody in red.

From the coliseum, Bedans trooped to the Mendiola campus where a glorious feast was to happen. Food and spirits were flowing like manna and rain from the heavens. Now proudly hangs in my bedroom is the 2006 championship shirt signed that historic night by our heroic cagers, including the gentle giant from Nigeria—Sam “The Ekwelizer” Ekwe, King Lion Yousif Aljamal, Alex Angeles, Pong Escobal, Borgie Hermida, and fellow Ilocano Ogie Menor, who decided to play for San Beda, turning down (and rightly so) the tempting offers of La Salle. This experience is one of the most ecstatic in my life, and this I will keep on retelling until I fade in the sunset (not so soon, I pray, so I can cheer for many more seasons).

Last year, the San Beda Red Lions duplicated the same feat and, in this 84th season of the country’s oldest collegiate league, are gunning for a third-straight basketball title. With either the Letran Knights or the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers (who are still battling it out in the semifinals as of press time) at the other side of the bench, the road to a glorious three-peat will not be a cakewalk. Letran, the league’s winningest, boasts of 16 championship victories against San Beda’s 13. JRU, for its part, is the league’s hungriest, having won their last championship 36 years ago, in 1972. So, the Lions can never be complacent, and neither should we, fellow supporters, if we really want to fortify our basketball dynasty.

Now based in the province, I can no longer see the Lions see action in flesh and blood. I will have to be content with watching the games live on television. But I need folks who will join me in believing. I do not want to commit the same mistake when, in a recent San Beda-Letran game, I turned-off the boob tube when there was less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter and Letran was up by 6 points. Forgetting the Animo! spirit, I was resigned to a defeat, only to find out in the news later on that San Beda had won by 2 points by virtue of a Hail Mary shot in overtime. San Beda’s neighbor in Mendiola, St. Jude, the patron saint of desperate cases, must have done his part as well.

And so I invite fellow Bedans and their families, Bedan-lovers, supporters of the Red Lions, and anybody whose life has been touched by San Beda, including our lawyers here who took the bar review in Mendiola (like my cousin Erme Labayog): Let’s gather together, cheer together, drink together, and, if we lose (God forbid!), weep together. Even if you are not from San Beda if you love good, intense, passionate basketball, please come… and don’t forget to wear red.

Once a Bedan, always a Bedan. Right now, I only have the following names: former Laoag City Councilor and Ilocos Publishing Corporation President Jay Ramos, National Youth Commission Chairman Richard Alvin Nalupta, K. Reyno, D.A. Bitancor, Badoc’s Atty. Philjer Noel Inovejas, Richard Co, Christianne Flores, Mr. Felipe of NCC, and my nephew Jerome Geronimo. I know that a young Fariñas, a son of former City Mayor Cesar Ventura, and a gorgeous varsity debater also attended San Beda but, alas, their names escape me. I am sure Manong Pepoc (Pastor) would also be glad to come had he not gone to the great beyond. He will be our prayer warrior up there, together with Raul Roco whose composition, the “Bedan Hymn”, we shall sing with pride, win or lose.

It will just be the beginning of a rediscovered brotherhood. I hope Ilocano Bedans can organize a group similar to UP Namnama, and contribute to the development of our locality. In the same breath, I hope our universities and colleges in the province can also fortify their sports programs and create an honest-to-goodness league where stars are born, and where school loyalties run deep.

The powwow can be held in my place or yours. It does not matter the venue for as long as we’re together (and there’s beer… and television, of course!). 09297793969 is the number to text or call.

Animo San Beda! Fight Team FIGHT!

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