Monday, December 28, 2009

What’s ahead?

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s a new week. And yes, it’s the feast of the Holy Innocents. I can still recall some old folks say that it’s not nice to lend money on this day (whatever that means). Well, if it’s bad debt that you are talking about, we do not need to have this day to have just that – bad debts. Is it the economic crunch? Or force of habit? Anyway, I’m not going to rant about bad or good debts today. For the past so many years, I have been ranting about how the capitalists raked it in at Christmas. Well, can I call it a respite? I mean it seems like they have ran out of ideas as to how make more money out of this day of the niños inocentes.

We’re a few days away to the New Year. As always, a question is asked: what’s in store for us in the coming year? Whew, this early our enterprising friends are into this and that trinkets and what have you for the Chinese New Year! (Whew!) Don’t you see conflict of interest, err beliefs in this? Oh well . . .

Back to the question on what’s in store for 2010. Certainly, nothing could be more exciting (pardon my term) with 2010 being an election year. This early I can hear a good number of people singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” (hmm, I love Barbra Striesand’s version) Nope, I’m not talking about classic songs or divas here. Of course it’s about the national pastime which happens every three years, aka the elections. And I don’t have to elaborate my on use of happy days, do I?

Again, what’s in store for us in 2010? The answers will be varied. I believe it will depend upon your main concerns in life. Let’s talk about economics. Bernanke just made it as TIME Person of the Year, and if that (citation) should be any consolation, we can sit back (a little) assured that the U.S. recession is about to go. Okey, economics is boring. Let’s have politics then. Again, what could be in store for us in 2010? Now this is where the answers will be as colorful and varied thanks to the various political parties trying to slug it in come May 2010. The election may be only five months away, but as it has been said time and again, action for the next election starts after each election. Meaning the campaigning or politicking never stops, and let’s not even start discussing on the political addition and subtraction and mixed marriages called coalitions or alliances of political parties, thanks to the omnipresent political butterflies.

And the survey says! Aside from the election (tally) results, I think the figures given by the surveys are the next most important set of number for politicos of all shapes and sizes.

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Now for the sad part. News had it that the Supreme Court reconsidered an earlier decision on the cityhood of 16 municipalities. As I wrote this column, I still had to receive a reply from Mayor Mel Sarmiento regarding his reaction on the said decision. Mayor Sarmiento is the Secretary-General of the League of Cities of the Philippines. And as he has said many times before, the LCP’s opposition to the creation of new cities is not just kapritso on the part of the City Mayors but a case of having all concerned entities follow the law.

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Wedding Bells. Congratulations and Best Wishes to Sean Marie Roxas and Leslie Dimakiling (both of Oquendo, Calbayog City). They got married yesterday. The wedding mass was held at the Chapel of the Centennial Pastoral Center. Reception was held at the Cardinal Rosales Hall of the CPC.

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Let me now leave you with some more Christmas stories which I got from the History Channel.
In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth (a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration). Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring (why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?), Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia . Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion. On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today's Mardi Gras. Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the "lord of misrule" and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined "debt" to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

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This is it for now. Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Mary Christmas

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Merry Christmas! This is it, the big day when we commemorate the Savior being born among us. By the time you read this (that’s granting that you will find time), kids of all ages, shapes and sizes will be all over the place doing what they do best (and are supposed to do, I guess) – greeting their ninangs and ninongs and everyone in between; and expect to receive their gifts. Ah, the memories of my childhood. As I grew old, I came to believe that Christmas is for kids. Needless to say, I was mistaken.

It has always been like this – Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem thanks to a government directive, and Mary decided to give birth (or was it the Savior decided to come to the world) of all the times - on such a busy season. And the rest as they say is history. How could I miss it, on top of my catechism classes, the first books that I remember my parents gave me was about just that – the first Christmas.

We have heard so many reflections about the Savior’s birth, and many too are the complaints (to some extent, it’s on the verge of lamentations about how the birth of the Savior became reason for money to flow freely (you know buying this and that coz it’s Christmas). Oops, did I say money? We’re not yet talking about election season, if I may remind you. Not yet anyway.

Back to the reflections. There was one homily which I heard a few years back and I got stuck on it – it’s about that other story of Christmas which is the Visitation. It’s what I have always featured in this column each time the Misa de Gallo or Christmas itself comes. Last Sunday it was the topic of the gospel. And in a way, thus explains today’s title.

The subject for that day’s mass was the visit of Mary to Elizabeth (yup, this is the second joyful mystery. It always reminds me of a friend’s and my delusion about royalty that one time a friend leading the rosary said: “the second joyful mystery is the visitation of Mary to her cousin Queen Elizabeth”). Going back to the topic, so what’s the big deal about that visit?

Mary was heavy with a child. According to biblical scholars, the distance she traveled was 90 kilometers and in those days that distance took seven days. We never know if Mary walked or rode a donkey (something akin to private car or trucks of today’s rich people). She ran the risk of her chastity being violated, and not to mention the wild animals and muggers along the way. To make it short, it was not a travel for pleasure.

But there she was, making real the first encounter between the Messiah (Jesus) and the prophet (John). Mary brings Jesus to John, she brings Jesus to all of us Christians. This is why Mary plays a vital role in salvation. In today’s world, the visit tells us that we all have a social concern for others, that we have a social obligation to others. Our human weaknesses trap us to the temptations of being apathetic and callous to the needs of others. We don’t mind others because we are so comfortable with our own selves, with the security of our jobs and the comfort and safety of our homes. Not until we become victims ourselves do we join groups aimed at eliminating that which caused us to be hurt or afflicted.

Mary braved the dangers of travel just to visit and assist Elizabeth . We are called to do same to others. Mary was sensitive to the needs of others. Let us not be apathetic and callous to the needs of others. Let us take Mary as our model. And let us remember that this is not really a very heavy obligation because God does not demand beyond our capacity.

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Let me give you some more stories of Christmas (which I got from the History Channel).
An ancient holiday. The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia , the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe . At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany , people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Saturnalia: In Rome , where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia - a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture - was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun.

Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome . In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra's birthday was the most sacred day of the year. (More in my next column)

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This is it for now. Have a Merry Christmas everyone! Ciao!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Seasonal Charity

(This column appears in today's edition of he Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another week. It’s nice to note that President Obama was able to strike some sort of Climate agreement in Copenhagen, the protest of some quarters notwithstanding. My glee ends there. Considering what most Filipinos are into right now, we can kiss Copehagen goodbye (at least for now). How can I say that? Well, we or most of our fellow Filipinos need food for the noche buena and the media noche and the days (and nights) in between. There’s no need to elaborate on that, or is there?

It has been told to us since we were able to write our names (either in pre-school, kindergarten or grade one) that Christmas is the season of peace, love and joy. And, if I may say, count in reconciliation and friendship (take your pick: either it’s creating one, rekindling one, or repairing one) - all in the name of commemorating the birth of the Savior. Did I mention this season also being the season of charity? Or maybe it’s the season of seasonal charity (parang redundant ano?)

I have always wondered why is it that most of us are charitable each time Christmas comes. Let me guess, ‘coz it’s only during Christmas that many of us can afford to be charitable, like say salamat sa bonus and the like. Why is it that many of us remember the old people, the prisoners, the sick at some hospitals only during Christmas? (Do I have to count in the street children?) Don’t ask me for answers. To look at it on a positive note, it’s nice that we have at least one day, or week every year when we are able to take time to observe just that – our seasonal charity.

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Still with Christmas. I have always wondered why most Nativity scenes or belens that I have observed (at least the ones that come in some kinda big images) have only the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph AND the three wise men garbed in their finery. Is it the cost of adding more characters or cast (pardon the term)? Ahh, that would be bias against the poor shepherds. Seriously, my question was partly answered by the column of Alejandro Roces, if I may quote:

“… we have many old Christmas symbols. Probably the oldest is the Nativity scene, known by its Spanish name belen, or Bethlehem. This is a tradition that is believed to have originated way back in 1223 when St. Francis celebrated Christmas by depicting the Nativity scene complete with live donkey, sheep and ox. By the 17th century, the custom reached Spain, and a century later it was introduced in Mexico from where it was brought to the Philippines. Originally, the only human figures in the belen were the Holy Couple and the Holy Infant. The Three Kings were added during the Epiphany…”

That’s one question answered. Needless to say, the Savior’s birth in a manger symbolized simplicity (let’s forget the term humility). That’s based on my simplistic mind and very limited theology. And what am I up to this time? Wala lang, certainly simplicity is not the word or the virtue that guides SOME of our friends (or otherwise) in the church. Peace brother! It’s Christmas.

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We are four days away to Christmas. Let me give you some Christmas facts which I got form the history channel (again sorry, it’s the history buff in me):

  • Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
  • Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.
  • In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous - a lot like today's Mardi Gras parties.
  • From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.
  • Christmas wasn't a holiday in early America - in fact Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the country's first Christmas under the new constitution.
  • Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.
  • The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith's 1607 Jamestown settlement.
  • Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.
  • The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.
  • Rudolph, "the most famous reindeer of all," was the product of Robert L. May's imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.
  • Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.


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Parokya ni Edgar will be onstage at 7:00 pm tonight at the Calbayog City Sports Center. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

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Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My (usual) Christmas rant

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. We are seven days away to Christmas, and it’s time for me do yet another rant, well, something that I do each time this season of the year comes around. In the past so many days, aside from the reports on the attendance in the misa de gallo (and the traditional foodstuff that go with it), we were also flooded with reports about this and that shopping sprees, this and that bargain centers, this and that stuff to be bought in time for the Noche Buena. And yes, did I mention the endless Christmas parties (something the gym or fitness center operators are thankful for) and the exchange gifts be it at the office or at home? Don’t say it, everything has to do with something that everyone (or most of us) has so little of – money. Yup, why is it that many of us had to spend every penny there is for the holidays? That I do not understand. And let us not even start discussing about how other would berate people (myself included) for giving only so much amount (or money) for the inaanak and their friends and cousins and hangers on ) who go with them when they go house to house (ala trick or treat) asking for what else, pamasko. Well, on this aspect, I mean the kids, I am not complaining. Call it kahi-araan, crisis or no crisis, Christmas is bound to happen, err to be celebrated. But seriously, is it the mind set? Certainly it’s not coping up the Joneses when one wishes for good things and good food for the holidays. Let’s say we all deserve a break (Yup, with all the call for solemn commemoration of the birth of the Savior and its deeper meaning notwithstanding). Now, do I hear myself saying I rest my case?

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The Calbayog LGU employees will be 8,000-peso richer this Christmas. The Sangguniang Panlungsod has passed Ordinance number 2009-SS08-759 granting the amount of Eight Thousand Pesos as extra bonus to all regular employees of LGU Calbayog.

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Halad sa Pasko 2009, the annual Christmas Festival of the City Government of Calbayog formally opened last Wednesday. Mayor Mel Sarmiento and Councilors Julius Mancol and Ina Rabuya were on hand for the program. Performances were made by the ISKOLARs and the Calbayog Rondalla. The event was highlighted by the lighting of the Christmas Tree and a fireworks display.

And in case you’d like to know, there will be no giant Christmas Tree this year. Word has it that the organizers did not set up the tree at the Cardinal Rosales Plaza (where the giant tree was setup at least for the past 15 years) because the place is being prepped for the Centennial celebration next year. Hmm, considering the time, must be some huge preparations over there.

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Onstage tonight at the Calbayog City Sports Center: “Riot sa Calbayog” with Pooh, K Brosas, Princess Ryan and Joseph Bitangcol. For tickets contact Ritchie at 0906-520-8161

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Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog City Sports Center this coming Monday, December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

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Let me leave you with something I got from the History channel (sorry, it’s the history buff in me again): a little history about Christmas in Europe and in the last place that Karl Marx would have wanted to stay – America.

“In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.”

“The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.”

“After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.”

Well, after what it has been through, I’m beginning to understand why many take time to celebrate Christmas with gusto.

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Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The 12 days of Christmas

(This column appears in today's editio of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s a new week, and yes, we are more or less 12 days away to Christmas. Needless to say, by this time we’ve heard more than enough of our share of Christmas songs, or carols (I’m wondering how is one different from the other.) Anyway, last Friday, I mentioned something about “The 12 days of Christmas”, one of the most loved (or otherwise, depending upon your mood I guess) songs of Christmas; and how much would the gifts given on those 12 days would cost us in today’s dollars. After the dollar signs, it’s time for us to dissect as to exactly what the song is all about. Let me give you part of the article written by Diana Mackinen, something which I got from www.littlechicagoreview.com.

“…some of us love it and some of us don’t. However there is a hidden meaning in the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” and it is very interesting. In England from 1558 to 1829, Catholics were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. In fact it was illegal to be Catholic until 1829 when the English Parliament finally emancipated the religion. Those practicing the Catholic faith and caught would be imprisoned or executed. The song was written in England as one of the ‘catechism songs’ to help young children learn the basics of their faith. It was a coded-message, a memory aid. The song, itself, sounded like rhyming nonsense and the young children of the Catholic faith could sing the song. The powers that be did not know the real meaning of the song.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help children learn their faith and better understand the Bible. The song goes, “On the first day of Christmas my true love game to me…. “True love” is referring to God Himself and the “me” who receives the present refers to every baptized person, i.e. the Church.
  • Day 1 The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the cross.
  • Day 2 The “two turtle doves” refers to the Old and New Testaments.
  • Day 3 The “three French hens” stands for faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abided (1 Corinthians 13).
  • Day 4 The “four calling birds” refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
  • Day 5 The “five golden rings” represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish torah; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
  • Day 6 The “six geese a-laying” is the six days of creation.
  • Day 7 The “seven swans a-swimming” refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
  • Day 8 The “eight maids a milking” reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.
  • Day 9 The "nine ladies dancing” were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
  • Day 10 The “ten lords a-leaping” represents the Ten Commandments.
  • Day 11 The “eleven pipers piping” refers to the eleven faithful apostles.
  • Day 12 The “twelve drummers drumming’’ were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and rose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting.

The song is only sung at Christmas time now, but its hidden meaning saved the lives and religious faith of many during the 271 years the Catholic faith was outlawed in England. The next time you hear this song, consider how this otherwise non-religious and to some annoying, song had its origins in keeping alive the teaching of the Catholic faith. By-the-way, if you were to purchase all of the gifts in the song, it would cost you over $87,000.

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“Riot sa Calbayog” with Pooh, K Brosas, Princess Ryan and Joseph Bitangcol. This one-night engagement will be held at the Calbayog City Sports Center this coming Friday, December 18, 2009. For details contact Ritchie at 0906-520-8161

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Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

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Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Merry Christmas? Or is it Happy Holidays?

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there it’s another weekend. Yes, have you ever wondered which is which? I mean, is it Merry Christmas? Or is it Happy Holidays? I got my answer very recently via some yahoo article and, yup a priest’s sermon. As you read this, we are at least 14 days away to Christmas. And this early many have been greeting each other Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I understand the latter is a result of some sort of a government ban (in the U.S.) on putting religious overtones on civil (non-religious) matters; and the capitalists in their effort to attract those who are not into the religion that makes a big deal about the birth of Christ, or something to that effect. Anyway, my point is, it’s them (and the non-Christians and or non-religious capitalists especially) riding on to cash it in on what is basically a very religious celebration and they end up renaming the celebration? Well, it’s all in the name of earning a living I suppose. Anyway, I like what I heard from a priest last Sunday, if you see a greeting card which says Happy Holidays, don’t buy it. (Smile! It’s a weekend)

Talking about the holidays, err Christmas. This is one of those seasons when I don’t mind looking back, back at old articles (or columns) and featuring these again and this is one of those articles which I featured in this column around this time, a year ago:

“By this time, you must have had more than enough of your share of Christmas songs (or carols). One of these should be the one entitled “The 12 Days of Christmas”. I would not have taken notice of that song until I came across an article Dan Nephin wrote for the Associated Press. In a way the article “dissected” the gifts mentioned in the song and came up with the amount it will cost one to have all those gifts - you know the partridge, the turtle doves, etc. So how much will it cost you in today’s dollar (And with the price of U.S. suppliers)? The whole list will set you back by 86,000 dollars. $ 86,609.00 to be exact” (That’s in 2008 dollars, and yes, with the economic mess still lurking somewhere).

If I may quote the article: “...Given the economic downturn, even the most romantic might balk at the $86,609 price tag for the items in the carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." That's this year's cost, according to the annual "Christmas Price Index" compiled by PNC Wealth Management, which tallies the single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, purchased repeatedly as the song suggests. The price is up $8,508 or 10.9 percent, from $78,100 last year.” Well, that’s if one is to literally taking into consideration the gifts given out on the twelve days of Christmas. We all know that the song is not exactly a list of gifts per se, but a guide for the Christian believers at the time when practicing their belief meant death or persecution.

I’ll give you more (interesting) details on the song in my next column.

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Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

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Let me continue with the list I left you with last Monday:
  • Almonds are a member of the peach family.
  • An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. (I know some people like that also. Actually I know A LOT of people like this!)
  • Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.
  • February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.
  • In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
  • If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors
  • Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite!
  • Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
  • The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
  • The cruise liner, QE 2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.
  • The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket. (Good thing he did that.)
  • The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.
  • There are more chickens than people in the world.
  • Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.
  • Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
  • Now you know more than you did before!!

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This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Immature campaigning

This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another week, and they have martial law in a province down south. So, the Supreme Court has come out with a decision which has something to do with campaigning, premature campaigning to be exact. I don’t have any idea as to the exact content of that decision. From what I have heard especially from political kibitzers, it’s that premature campaigning is now a thing of the past. I guess your reaction – whether that the decision is nice or otherwise - is will depend upon where you sit in the political spectrum. Anyway, my take on the issue? With premature campaigning out of the way, let’s entertain ourselves with immature campaigning. (Oops, just wanna make you smile this week).

Familiar faces, familiar names, and yes familiar taglines which make candidates related to each other. And how is that? Read: anak san kablas, amay or iroy san kablas, bugto san kablas, para sa kablas, pagtapud san kablas, tikang sa kablas, paglaum san kablas. I guess the same taglines can apply for the national candidates, just translate these to Filipino.

And talking about campaigns. If I may borrow a line from the 80’s song, some guys certainly have all the luck. Have you noticed what these political ADs contain aside from selling the candidates? Yup, theses (Ads) also say that these are paid for by friends of this and that candidates. Whew! How could they (the candidates) end up having all those super generous friends? Why can’t we all be lucky enough to have friends like them?

And guest candidates? Yup, some independents or candidates for senator are reportedly guests of this and that political party of this and that candidate for president. Just curious, who do you think these guests candidates will vote for as president.

And, 40 lawyers for the Ampatuan in detention? That’s an entire law firm, maybe more! And yes, why forty? Suddenly I’m reminded of the story of Alibaba, you know that story which you and I heard one time or more during our childhood.

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Wedding bells: Oliver Obligado (of Tacloban City) and Anjanette Donato (of Sabang, Calbayog) will get married tomorrow. Their wedding mass will be held at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral with Fr. Iluminado Paulino as mass presider.

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Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

* * *

Let me leave you with something to think and smile about this week. It’s something I got via email (as always):
  • 'Stewardesses' is the longest word typed with only the left hand; and 'lollipop' is the longest word typed with your right hand. (Bet you tried this out mentally, didn't you?)
  • No word in the English language rhymes with month, silver, or purple
  • 'Dreamt' is the only English word that ends in the letters 'mt'
  • Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
  • The sentence: 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog' uses every letter of the alphabet. (Now, you know you're going to try this out for accuracy, right?)
  • The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes). (Yep, I knew you were going to 'do' this one.)
  • There are only four words in the English language which end in 'dous': tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous. (You're not possibly doubting this, are you?)
  • There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: 'abstemious' and 'facetious.' (Yes, admit it, you are going to say, a e i o u)
  • Typewriter is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard. (All you typists are going to test this out)
  • A cat has 32 muscles in each ear
  • A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds. (Some days that's about what my memory span is.)
  • A 'jiffy' is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second
  • A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
  • A snail can sleep for three years. (I know some people that could do this too!)(to be continued)

    * * *

    Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 4, 2009

of Vampires and the Pacman

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. I don’t have any news about Calbayog, I’ve reserved it for next week. In the meantime, let me share with you my usual comments about the world around me, something that went missing in my columns the past weeks.

COMELEC was in the news lately and will be that way in the next few months. Nope, I have no problem with the poll body, it’s about how things went during the filing of COCs of national candidates, to be specific, the lesser known candidates; and to be more specific, the ones who are sure to make it to the list of nuisance candidates. So what about them? Ahh, their portfolio and grand plans for the land of Juan De La Cruz make them such interesting characters. Having comedians, err, candidates aspire for the presidency must have given the people at the poll body more than their share or laughter or smiles, to say the least. Now that’s what I call the break before the hard work. Kumbaga, the fun part, the happy moments before the counting.

And yes, filing was the word in the past few days. How about “unfiling”? Don’t take that question seriously. That’s the term that came to mind after seeing Chiz and Ebdane on TV as they withdraw from the race. In one case with supporters crying or at least on the verge of tears. Tears of joy? Of relief, perhaps? I thinks it’s more on the resources wasted with those ADs, err advocacies, and what have you.

With the political season heating up (the cold December season notwithstanding), what is one to do? Perhaps this might work: Relax Watch a Movie. I think that very old line still is true. And you need that all the more in this election season (or any season for that matter). So, what do we have? Teenage Vampires? (ohh, yum-yum. If they indeed look that yummy, I won’t mind offering my neck!). They ran out of enemies so they hijacked Air Force One (remember Harrison Ford?). Nostradamus supposedly said it, thus the world will end in 2012. The Vatican was under siege thus they called Robert Langdon. Ahh, what else is next? But hey, with times going so bad, I guess a little fantasy or so much of it won’t do any harm.

But then, no amount of escaping from reality can help us forget the sad news that is the massacre down south. You can call it many things. For one, it is a manifestation that with the polls going automated, there is only one way for desperate politicians to do it, and that to eliminate their enemies. But considering the way they did it in Maguindanao, barbaric is too soft a term.

And yes, Manny the Pacman. Nope, I’m not gonna talk about boxing here. I didn’t watch the fight. On top of me never into boxing, I was quite sure that Manny was going to kiss the floor in an embarrassing knockout (considering Cotto’s size and style). But I was wrong. So, what about Manny? It’s his entry to politics. And let me borrow a paragraph from a blogger whose site I forgot (my apologies):

“I do hope that our local politicos (Attention, you trapos!) who keep on knocking at Pacquiao’s gullibility would stop convincing him to transfer his wars from the boxing ring to the political arena. You guys can hardly handle your own political affairs – how much more can you expect from Manny who can barely keep himself in school? Let’s just keep Manny in the boxing ring and perhaps, also do an Oscar de la Hoya and have a statue made in his honor. Trust me: everyone else will be happier that way.”

I say yes to that. But, sadly, we all know that Pacman was among those who trooped to the COMELEC with his COC on hand.

* * *

The CKC - Jose Gomez Orchestra is off to Manila for a series of concerts next week. Originally scheduled last October, it was postponed due to typhoon Ondoy. From the original three, the orchestra will have five engagements to be highlighted by a performance at the Manila Cathedral. The said performance will be among the activities of Pondong Pinoy. The orchestra will be performing upon the invitation of Manila Archbishop, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.
Here’s their schedule:
- December 7, 2009: Sanctuario de San Antonio (Forbes Park)
- December 8, 2009: Mall of Asia (Atrium)
- December 9, 2009: Saint Anthony Shrine (Manrique Street, Sampaloc, Manila)
- December 10, 2009: Santuario De San Pedro Bautista Church (San Pedro Bautista Street, San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City)
- December 11, 2009: Manila Cathedral
Except for the performance at the Manila Cathedral, all engagements are set at 7:30 in the evening. Proceeds of the concerts will be for the scholarship of the orchestra members and for the procurement of additional instruments. For other details / inquiries, please contact Arthur at: +63 915-215-6548

* * *

Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Same old pols to slug it out in May 2010 polls in EV

(This news iten appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

TACLOBAN CITY — Same old politicians are to slug it out in next year’s elections in Eastern Visayas. They are either incumbents or have been trounced by their rivals during the 2007 elections.

In Leyte, Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD is sure to finish his third and last term as no one challenged him for the post once held by his mother, Remedios, for nine years and by his father Leopoldo, for a single term.

Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) will have an old rival, Feliciano Clemencio of the Liberal Party, for his bid for another term for the first district.
Award-winning actor Richard Gomez (Liberal Party) will challenge the hold of the Codillas in the fourth district. The namesake of outgoing Rep. Eufrocino Codilla Sr., will try to take the post held by his father for nine years.

Former presidential legal adviser Sergio Apostol will have Tabontabon Mayor Rustico Balderian of the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas as his main opponent for Leyte’s second congressional district.

In Samar, outgoing Governor Milagrosa Tan decided to run for Congress to represent the province’s second district with rival, Catalino Figueroa (PMP) as one of her four opponents.

The daughter of the controversial governor, Sharee Ann, the incumbent congressional representative of the district, filed her certificate of candidacy for governor under the banner of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD with incumbent Vice Governor Jesus Redaja and Board Member Casilda “Ida” Lim among her opponents.

For the first district of the province, outgoing Rep. Reynaldo Uy (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) endorsed Calbayog Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento to take the post he held for nine years. Uy filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor of Calbayog. Sarmiento, meantime, will have an old rival, Rodolfo Tuazon (NP) as an opponent.

Biliran outgoing Governor Rogelio Espina (NP) is to challenge incumbent congressman Glenn Chong, who is seeking for his possible second term under the banner of Lakas-Kampi-CMD. Espina’s younger brother, Gerry Boy, Jr. is seeking the governorship with the father of Chong, Charlie, as his main challenger. Both gubernatorial candidates are running as independents.

In Southern Leyte, it’s a return bout between incumbent Governor Damian Mercado, seeking for his second term, against Marisa Lerias (NPC) whom the ruling party bet defeated in 2007 elections. For the lone congressional district of the province, Rep. Roger Mercado has former congressman, Aniceto Saludo (NP) as his main challenger.

In the case of Eastern Samar, it’s a free for all as the incumbent Governor, Ben Evardone of Lakas-Kampi-CMD opted to run for Congress though he is eligible for another term. Evardone will slug it out with incumbent and rival, Rep.Teodulo Coquilla, also of Lakas-Kampi, CMD. A neophyte, lawyer Raymond Apita, once an aide of Evardone, complete the congressional contest of the province.

Among the five gubernatorial candidates is incumbent Vice Governor Leander Geli of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

In Northern Samar, third-termer Governor Raul Daza of the Liberal Party fielded his son, Representative Paul Daza as a possible successor for the post he held for nine years now. He will have former Representative Harlin Abayon of the ruling party as his main challenger.

The outgoing governor is to run for the first congressional district, once held by his son Paul, with Francisco Rosales of the administration party as his only opponent.

In the second congressional district, the brother of slain Catholic priest, Cecilio Lucero, Antonio, will challenge incumbent congressman Emil Ong of the ruling party. Antonio is the incumbent vice governor and is also part of the Liberal Party. (By JOEY A. GABIETA, Staff writer)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bonifacio Day

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another week. If I may repeat what I always write on a Monday like this (read: holiday), nothing beats waking up on a Monday knowing that you are not expected to report to work. And today is one of those days. It’s all over the place, today we honor Andres Bonifacio. Yup, it’s a day that is often referred to as National Heroes Day. So, what’s with today being a holiday? You don’t have to answer that question. Surely many are into extended sleeps, cleaning, lazing around, and yes, a long night last night.

First things first. This item has been announced in Calbayog via the local radio stations: it’s the COMELEC decision on the protest case against Mayor Mel Sarmiento. I recently got hold of a copy of the said decision and here are some details:

The 2,777-page resolution had to do with the Tuazon vs. Sarmiento EPC Case No. 2007-32. With 32,259 votes for Sarmiento against 28,530 votes for protestant Tuazon, or a margin of 3,729 votes. The Commission (on Elections) resolved to deny the instant petition. The resolution was signed COMELEC Chairperson Jose A. R. Melo, Commissioners Rene V. Sarmiento, Armando C. Velasco, Elais R. Yusoph and Gregorio Y. Larrazabal. Commissioners Nicodemo T. Ferrer and Lucenito N. Tagle did not sign the resolution.

* * *

Back to Andres Bonifacio. Instead of my usual acerbic comments about the world around me, today I have decided to give you something about Bonifacio. Sorry, it’s the history buff and yes, the teacher in me. It’s something I found while googling Bonifacio Day.

Let me give an excerpt from an article by Ambeth Ocampo explaining why commemorate Bonifacio not on the day of his death, but on his birthday, yes his birthday (source: Nov. 27, 2002 www.inq7.net):

“. . . If my faulty memory serves me right there was once a move to contract our list of national holidays, and one of the casualties was Bonifacio Day that was renamed National Heroes Day. Naturally, the move was perceived by some as an official downgrading of Bonifacio by making him share the limelight with all national heroes. That has since been settled when National Heroes Day was set on the last Sunday of August. Now Andres Bonifacio rightly has a national holiday all to himself on Nov. 30.

Bonifacio Day is also odd, because heroes -- like saints -- are often remembered more for their death than their birth. Rizal's birthday, June 19, is a holiday in Laguna province, and the date of his execution, Dec. 30, is a national holiday known as Rizal Day.

Anyone who knows Philippine history will understand why Bonifacio is remembered on his birthday, Nov. 30, rather than the date of his death, May 10, 1897. Unlike Rizal who was executed by the enemy, and other heroes who died in battle, Bonifacio was executed by fellow Filipinos.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Bonifacio have been debated for decades, and it remains unsolved, a skeleton in our closet. One would hope that more material on Bonifacio would come to light, but then we know of him mainly from the accounts of people who knew him. Unlike other heroes like Rizal, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, etc., he left very little of his own writings, making the task of the historian difficult.” (read the complete article)

* * *

The CKC - Jose Gomez Orchestra is off to Manila for a series of concerts. Originally scheduled last October, it was postponed due to typhoon Ondoy. From the original three, the orchestra will have five engagements to be highlighted by a performance at the Manila Cathedral. The said performance will be among the activities of Pondong Pinoy. The orchestra will be performing upon the invitation of Manila Archbishop, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

Here’s their schedule:
  • December 7, 2009: Sanctuario de San Antonio (Forbes Park)
  • December 8, 2009: Mall of Asia (Atrium)
  • December 9, 2009: Saint Anthony Shrine (Manrique Street, Sampaloc, Manila)
  • December 10, 2009: Santuario De San Pedro Bautista Church (San Pedro Bautista Street, San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City)
  • December 11, 2009: Manila Cathedral

Except for the performance at the Manila Cathedral, all engagements are set at 7:30 in the evening. Proceeds of the concerts will be for the scholarship of the orchestra members and for the procurement of additional instruments. For other details / inquiries, please contact Arthur at: +63 915-215-6548

* * *

Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Barbarians at the Gate

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another long weekend. It would have been an extra-long one had the palace not flimflammed on its earlier declaration about today being a holiday. But considering the recent tragedy to hit the country, a holiday will not matter anymore.

Barbarians at the Gate. It’s the title of that 80s movie about the extreme moves that the corporate giants of America are willing to take (in the name of greed, I suppose.) And barbarian is the term that came to mind after reading about the massacre down south. Yes, the act was heinous, considering it as barbaric is putting it softly, so softly.

* * *

Local news. Last Tuesday, the LGU together with DepEd Calbayog and DILG Calbayog conducted the Barangay Education Strategic Team (BEST) Summit.

The one-day event which was held at the Calbayog City Sports Center was aimed at coming up with mechanisms to ensure school attendance among the public school students in the various barangays of Calbayog. The event was participated in by the Barangay officials and SK officials from the three districts of Calbayog.

Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento was on hand to deliver his message. Also in attendance were Vice Mayor Ronald Aquino, Councilor Ina Rabuya and Calbayog SDS Edita Paculan.

Summit highlights included the Statement of Purpose / Orientation given by Mr. Ramon Miano, ES-1 Mathematics; and "Support on BEST Project” presented by DILG City Director Valente Bajet.

* * *

The Cebu-Calbayog-Cebu service of Cokaliong shipping Lines has commenced. The maiden voyage of M/V Filipinas Ozamis arrived at the Manugino-o port last November 17, 2009. The shipping company will offer Calbayog-Cebu trips on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

* * *

Milagrosinians will gather tomorrow for their annual alumni homecoming. Dubbed as SAGUBAY 2009, the event which will be held at the La Milagrosa Academy Auditorium is anchored on the theme: “Pakig-urusa… Pagsiplat san Nakalabay”. This year’s host is Class of 1985.

* * *

The CKC - Jose Gomez Orchestra is off to Manila for a series of concerts. Originally scheduled last October, it was postponed due to typhoon Ondoy. From the original three, the orchestra will have five engagements to be highlighted by a performance at the Manila Cathedral. The said performance will be among the activities of Pondong Pinoy. The orchestra will be performing upon the invitation of Manila Archbishop, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

Here’s their schedule:
  • December 7, 2009: Sanctuario de San Antonio (Forbes Park)
  • December 8, 2009: Mall of Asia (Atrium)
  • December 9, 2009: Saint Anthony Shrine (Manrique Street, Sampaloc, Manila)
  • December 10, 2009: Santuario De San Pedro Bautista Church (San Pedro Bautista Street, San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City)
  • December 11, 2009: Manila Cathedral

Except for the performance at the Manila Cathedral, all engagements are set at 7:30 in the evening.

Proceeds of the concerts will be for the scholarship of the orchestra members and for the procurement of additional instruments.

For other details / inquiries, please contact Arthur at: +63 915-215-6548

* * *


Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Charity or Pride?

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another week. So sorry to miss you the past so many. Well, blame it on the easiest excuse there is – busy. I think after the word love, busy is the most overused word in the world today. Anyway, so Manny is back. And each time Manny enters the ring, it’s the artist who does the national anthem than I am waiting for. I still have to hear what the NHI has to say about the performance of the trio.

Back to Manny, poor Manny, forget about the Order of Sikatuna, (see video below)


(For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV )

... it’s the taxman who was in the news recently; and that it’s gonna be windfall for his (the taxman’s) agency. Which brings me to the local stores in Cabayog. One reason why I opt to do groceries at Mercury and Rose is that regardless of the amount you pay and the line which you are in, you get to receive an official receipt. They do issues receipts in the other stores, but that is another story, correct me if I’m wrong, it’s either you get what is called the factora, or in a bigger grocery store, you do get a machine printed receipt but I doubt if it’s official because they have a special lane for those who would like to get an official receipt, and the experience (in that line) is not so encouraging. Anyway, why am I saying this. Well, it’s not only the fix-income earners (like an ordinary employee like me) and count in Manny too, who are supposed to pay real, exact, correct and proper (?) taxes.

And what’s with today’s title? That’s the line that came to mind after hearing a sermon during Charity Sunday (I guess that was the Sunday before last). I think we all know what charity is (I suppose so anyway). And if I may repeat an earlier line, after love and busy, maybe charity is another overused word there is. Forget about ladies in Calbayog whose organization has to do with charity and how some of these ladies locked horns with one of the pastors, that’s another story which I don’t intend to elaborate, sayang ang effort (at ang editorial space).

So what about charity? Suddenly I’m reminded of my history lesson and the debate on some matters of faith between the Protestants (reformists) and Catholics. For the former faith is enough; for the latter, it’s faith and good works, charity included. I dunnow who won in that debate, but both sides have survived through the years. Yes, we need to be charitable to our fellowmen and yes, to our church. If there is one thing I noticed about how financial wiz do their stuff on TV, it’s that a good number of them mentioned about setting a part of one’s income for tithe, or charity, or good deeds to our fellowmen.

Suddenly, I see the beggars and the streetchildren all over the place. Do the money we give them make us charitable? I forgot who said this - that our less privileged brothers are there for the privileged members of society to be charitable; or to give them the chance to do charitable works. I would like to agree with that, but it makes me uneasy to be giving out to children begging with their parents or some older person guiding them along the way; or giving to beggars who are able-bodied and could earn their keep by doing laundry, gardening or carpentry work; or to beggars who come in groups (in season) like the Badjaos who unconfirmed reports say that were brought to various places in the region by van (that certainly blew me away); or those solicitors who make it a point to get solicitation permit and go around the city on certain periods every month.

Whatever is your take on it, I respect it. But each time the word charity becomes the subject of the discussion (and I’m not referring to how a priest castigated some ladies in a sermon saying that charity and bad talk don’t go together), I am reminded of a sociologist who commented about people who are into works or deeds of charity. Is it because that person is really charitable? Or is that because he has the capability to be charitable? Nice point over there. And I got that line many years ago. Recent experiences made me ask a similar question: Charity or Pride?

* * *

Belated birthday greetings: My mom Vic Ladrero-Ricafort turned a year older last November 17; and Mrs. Isabel Gomez-Hernandez turned 103 years old last November 19.

Congratulations to teacher Rolando “Rez” Saplad, Jr. He passed the recent board exam for teachers.

* * *

This is it for now. Let me give you something to smile about this week. It’s something I got via email; and it’s some sort of a reminder for us believers in God to be aware of our obligation (and if I may add, should it regardless of the kind of pastor we have in our parish?) Don't Wait 'til the hearse hauls you to Church, if you do:

  1. You will go regardless of the weather.
  2. You will go regardless of how your family feels.
  3. You will go regardless of the condition of your body.
  4. You will have beautiful flowers but you won’t enjoy them.
  5. Regardless of how good the singing, you won’t enjoy it.
  6. Regardless of what the minister may say it will do you no good.
  7. You will go to the altar but you will not pray.
  8. You may have a great need but no one will be able to help you.
  9. You will never be able to attend church again.
  10. There will be relatives and friends there but you will not worship with them.
  11. You will go regardless of how many hypocrites are there.
  12. You will go regardless of how much you are needed at home or on your job.

The Pastor would rather help you now than try to console your loved ones if you die without God. So make it your choice to go to church while you have a choice.

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Days

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another week. And it’s another week of labor at the office for ordinary mortals like me. But hey, this should be one of the most exciting weeks of the year, I mean days before the year-end bonus. Or so I thought. While many of us are looking forward to be “a-year-end-bonus-richer” in the next few days, for many it will just be another ordinary week, what with their bonus already handed-over to some money lenders due to various reasons that bottomline is always the economic crunch, or so they said. Anyway, es la vida. Or is it?

So, is it the excitement and the few moments of happiness and excitement brought by the bonus that led me to today’s title? Nope! It’s about what else but the season that a good number of Filipinos will always be excited about; and it is the season which always brings out the best and the worst among us Filipinos. So is it that Merry Christmas thing? Nope! Not even Happy Easter! It’s the election season, what else!

Ako ang simula, Boto mo I-patrol mo, these are but some of the advocacies one get to see on TV and other media outfit. But hey, the trappings of traditional politics (not necessarily politicians) are all over the place: addition and subtraction (you know the political party-hopping of political butterflies), celebrity endorsements, news / press releases of this and that advocacies, projects or humanitarian projects of this and that politico. And don’t ask me why happy days on election season. You ought to know what makes Filipinos happy every three years; and we are not talking about goodwill from candidates here.

And yes, do you still remember the news reports about how things went during the voters’ registration in a good number of COMELEC offices? No system, not enough forms, and complaints of all shapes and sizes were hurled at the poll body. And yes, I love that lady who aired here complaint over TV and she did it in perfect English. I have no question about how nice her English was. To you and to the rest of your tribe, COMELEC may never have a perfect system, but I understand the voters’ registration started late last year yet. Yun lang!

* * *

The GTZ project for Calbayog. As reported earlier, the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Develompent (BMZ) has recently approved the 3-year Urban Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Project in Calbayog City . Here are a few details of the said project:
In July 2009, GTZ was commissioned by BMZ to review the development-oriented emergency and transitional aid project Disaster Risk Management in cities, Philippines . The appraisers were in the Philippines from 20 June to 31 July 2009 to analyze the situation and to conduct talks with representatives from institutions, organizations and potential target groups at national level and in Region VII ( Eastern Visayas ).

A result of the review was the suggestion to implement a German-Philippine cooperative project in Region VIII. The following three cities were prioritized as pilot locations: Ormoc, Tacloban (both in the province of Leyte ) and Calbayog (in Western Samar ). Given their vulnerable location and large populations, they are at serious risk, but DRM has been initiated. Furthermore, in two of three cities one can fall back on existing GTZ structures or can build on them. The municipalities and the target groups believe that the highest priority should be accorded to activities that strengthen preparedness structures and safeguard livelihoods.

a.) Strengthen preparedness structures by offering basic and further training, also recovery teams; setting up and equipping evacuation centers; setting up early warning systems; and developing disaster protection plans.

b) Safeguard livelihoods by making agriculture less disaster-prone; improving health (hygienic) conditions during disasters, with special reference to drinking water and sanitation; and making houses more disaster-resilient

The target group comprises poor, disadvantaged and disaster-affected population groups in selected cities in Region VIII. The target group in the three prioritized cities covers up to 17,000 households or families (approximately 85,000 persons). Special attention is given to the following groups: women in general and women-headed households; (unemployed) youth; and migrants from marginalized areas.

The overall objective of the project is: Selected municipalities in particularly affected cities are better equipped to handle DRM and can therefore mitigate the damage and losses caused by natural disasters.

The following key indicators have been identified for assessing the achievement of this objective: On the basis of risk analyses, the selected cities have identified appropriate risk-reduction measures that have been operationalized in DRM action plans; In at least two cities, the investments stipulated in the annual investment plan (AIP) for disaster prevention and preparedness measures, distilled from the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), have doubled; At least X% of the target group in each city uses at least one of the preventive measures promoted by the project (values will be allocated to the indicators in the first project year); More than 60% of the target groups in each city confirm that they feel better prepared for dealing with disasters (opinion survey).

The lead executing agency is the Department for the Interior and Local Government (DILG). It supports the project at national level ( Manila ) in the effort to incorporate project experiences into the design of the national policy process. At regional level, DILG is represented in the Development and Planning Councils; it advises cities on integrating DRM into planning processes and plans and, together with the respective city, partners the project in planning and implementing certain infrastructure measures.

The German contribution involves the assignment of one long-term expert (50%) for three years. Philippine experts and auxiliary staff will also be paid from the project budget. In addition, the following contributions will be made within the framework of the German assistance: advisory services, training measures within the country and abroad, equipment and materials, and local subsidies. The contract value for the three-year project term is EUR 950,000.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy, Gay and Successful

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. Surely in a few days’ time, the whole country will be “united” and “at peace” once again as they get glued on TV to watch Manny on the ring. Ahh, such an irony, it takes a bloody sport to “unite” the Filipinos. On the other hand, it’s not how Manny will fare in the fight that I am excited about, it’s on who will sing the Lupang Hinirang and what flimflam will that performer do this time.

At last, the country was given a respite from the onslaught of typhoons. And I think it’s working, I mean during a talk show at the height (literally and figuratively) of the flooding, somebody made an appeal on TV, calling the authorities, officials and all concerned to observe a moratorium on the blame game. Hmm, they must have heeded that call, or it’s just that I have not watched or read the news lately.

Talking about typhoons. The floods came and went. I’m wondering if the legislators will call for an investigation (should we count in the one on the dams in Luzon?); or if some priests will blame politicians for yes, the floods?

It’s a known fact that the Philippines is a record holder when it comes to the number of typhoon visitations (oops, sorry for the term). So what about it? Wala lang. In the States, when a hurricane warning is raised, you see CNN and other news networks report about people evacuating. No need to mention what happens in the land of Juan de la Cruz, well at least until Ondoy. On the other hand, I agree with what one Dr. Arcilla said on TV. It’s a sociological question, I mean the issue on people living in areas which are considered “doormats” of typhoons.

So, the recent flooding and the havoc it wrought, was it an act of God? I don’t think so, act of man is more like it.

* * *

Tomorrow is Alay-Lakad day for Calbayog. This yearly activity is being spearheaded by the City Government thru the City Social Welfare and Development Office. Other private agencies involved in the preparations are SOS Children Village Calbayog and Bugto Association. This yearly event is being to raise fund for projects for the out-of-school youth of Calbayog.

* * *

Also tomorrow, the City of Calbayog will be giving out certificates of commendation to Calbayog PNP Chief PSupt Lito Bigoy and seven Police Officers who members of PNP Calbayog TRACKER Team namely, PO1 Bernadine Valenzuela, SP04 Edgardo Advincula, PO3 Charles Copada, PO1 Ricson Paghunasan, PO1 Maximo Repol, PO1 Marvin Rosco and PO1 Kim Santiago. The team will be cited for their “exemplary performance and invaluable support which greatly contributed to the immediate apprehension of the suspects and solution of a robbery incident last November 1, 2009 in Brgy. Balud”. The awarding of the citations will be part of the Alay-Lakad program which will be held at the Calbayog City Sports Complex grounds.

* * *

And what’s with today’s title? I already had it in one of my columns a few years ago. And it’s the same line that came to mind after watching a segment of that popular Sunday variety show on TV. It was the first time I was able to catch a production in the said show.

It was that portion where the mega-star sang “Aray” and on the side there was the comedian Chocolate making pa-sweet tweetums with a male hunk. No need to elaborate the message or storyline there. Anyway, to make it short it was a story of smile and tears for the bading. Meaning, the bading did have some “happy” moments with the hunk, at what price? No need to elaborate on that. But in the end, that bading becomes a second class citizen and had to be “thrown away” by the hunk because he had a girlfriend to attend to. Moral of the story? On top of being poked fun at, gays are always on the losing end. Question: does it always have to be that way? Your guess is as good as mine. But please did I mention the word successful in today’s title?

It’s ironic, gays are called just that gays, when it’s not a totally happy life. Yes, relations give joy or at least some moments when you think life is truly exciting. But at the end of the day, or at least on Christmas, Valentines and other important events, more often than not, it’s a case of being by yourself, feeling lonely (not necessarily alone) and oftentimes, crying in rivers. But hey, it’s the coping mechanism (which many people do not see) that makes gay life, well, gay.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kalag-kalag

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another week. And yes, nothing beats feeling good on a Monday (morning) than knowing that this is still part of the long weekend, thanks to yet another presidential proclamation. Just wondering, do people really travel on long weekends? After all that’s the idea behind the holiday economics. Anyway, as far as I know these long weekends provide me enough time to sleep and yup, to clean my room, that’s if I still got time after those long-hour sleeps.

So, what’s up for us this week? All roads today lead to the cemetery, at least that’s based on my Calbayog experience. We all know that people in other parts of the country spend time with their dear departed on November 1 - the day fore the saints. And this year, thanks to typhoon Santi, a good number of city folks visited the cemeteries much earlier. I still don’t see any sense as to why we pay respect to our departed loved ones on a day reserved for the saints. Anyway, that’s kultura, kahi-araan kumbaga.

Taking about kahi-araan. In my column last Friday, I was ranting (well, almost) about people making a big deal about Halloween. I forgot to state that we have to charge (or is it blame?) it to the capitalists who had to give everybody else a reason to spend their money on, you know like all those days for fathers, mothers, grandparents, yup and even secretaries. Just curious, with the current economic downturn, will they ever come up with a day for pets? Anyway, back to kahi-araan, there is one thing I always feature in my column when the season or the day for the dead comes around, and it’s about that tradition called pa-nobena (I understand this is something akin to the padasal of the Tagalogs), and I fondly refer to this as the prayer marathons.

There are many kalag-kalag traditions in my hometown, to name but a few: to be at the cemetery on November 2; to put food and in some case tuba (and lately it could be Red Horse or Tanduay) on the grave or in front of the picture on the grave of a departed; and to attend or at least offer some money (inside an envelope with blanks provided for the names) in the hourly masses. Talking about those envelopes, considering the volume of the names of the departed, would the heavens have enough time to attend to these intention? (Oops, don’t take that line seriously, just wanna make you smile today). Going back to my hometown’s kalag-kalag traditions, something that stands out among these (at least for me) is the 9-day novena prayer for the dead the exact local name for that is something which I still have to find out as it is commonly referred to as “nobena san patay”; and we usually have old ladies do the prayer. So, what about it? Each time the day for the dead comes around, these ladies always get booked (fully-booked if I may say as the feast gets nearer). And this is what makes me smile (my apologies). Oftentimes they get fully-booked that instead of nine days, they end up with 9-hour prayer marathons. Whew! But that’s not the end of it. The prayer marathon(s) also includes breaks like after the second or third hour. And these breaks mean partaking of some bounty which oftentimes consists of sinugba, sinakugan, humba and tuba. Now, you don’t have to imagine how the ladies do it halfway through the prayer marathon, err, session. Of course not all prayers ladies (sorry, that’s the only term I can find at the moment) do marathon session. The old ladies are well, exactly that - old. It seems like no young people are willing to follow their path. Back to the marathon, you may smile or scoff at it, but hey it’s tradition.

* * *

This is it for now. Let me give your something to smile about this week. A few days ago while surfing the net, I came across this news item which was placed under the ODD news category. I had a good laugh reading it. I thought I wanted to share this with you. The item was entitled: “Sicilian prefers prison to house arrest with wife”

PALERMO, Sicily (Reuters) – A Sicilian builder transferred from prison to house arrest tried to get himself locked up again to escape arguments with his wife at home, Italian media reported Thursday.

Santo Gambino, 30, did time for dumping hazardous waste before being moved to house arrest in Villabate, outside the Sicilian capital, Palermo, Italian news agencies reported.
Gambino went to the police station and asked to be put away again to avoid arguing with his wife, who accused him of failing to pay for the upkeep of their two children.

Police charged him with violating the conditions of his sentence and made him go home and patch things up with his wife. (Writing by Stephen Brown; editing by Philippa Fletcher).

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween? (Or that other day of the year)

(This column appears in today's editon of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. And yes, the signs are all over the place, everyone (well, almost) is greeting everybody Happy Halloween! Whew! It’s that other day of the year again. Anyway, more on that later.

Let’s pan our sights to Afghanistan. So what about that land of the Taliban and the famous Bactrian gold? Forget about the casualties of ambushes and suicide bombings. Things must be normalizing there. How can I say that? Well, they are accusing Karzai of irregularities in the recent polls. And yes, there’s going to be another election! (Oops, smile, it’s a weekend!)

A year ago this week: Miriam was among those IN the news, thanks to the Senate hearings on the euro generals; and so was Bolante and the media scramble during his arrival at the NAIA. So what about them? Thanks to the events in the past 12 months, yup to include Mar and Korina’s wedding, it seems like those issues will remain just that – issues and have nowhere else to go. Well, es la vida.

* * *

Mayor Mel Sarmiento is back from Japan. He planed in last Wednesday after attending the 2nd 3Rs Conference for Asian Local Government which was held in Fukuoka City, Japan last October 25 – 26, 2009.

The conference brought together officers of local governments with the aim to build stronger partnerships and promoting the importance of 3Rs activities in Asia.

Mayor Sarmiento’s traveling expenses were paid for by the organizers which included the Japan Environmental Sanitation Center (JESC), the Ministry of Environment, Fukuoka Prefectural Government, Fukuoka City Government and the Kitakyushu City Government.

Prior to his departure, Mayor Sarmiento informed the City Officials that no local funds are involved in his travel as the organizers have shouldered his traveling expenses. He further informed the city officials that his attendance in the said activity shall be greatly beneficial to the City Government as the program will have participation from other Asian countries who will discuss issues on the 3Rs; and that the opportunity to share with these representatives' problems related to the city's environment may open the door for possible sources of funding for the LGU's local environmental projects and logistical assistance for its other programs and initiatives.

* * *

So, we are into that other day of the year again. Tomorrow a good number of kids, as well as young (and not-so-young) people will be partying again and giving the costume providers some livelihood. It’s the celebration which I was never inclined to be a part of. Let me give you once again what I wrote in my column around this time last year:

If you have been following my columns, you ought to know that Valentine’s is what I refer to as ‘that day of the year’; and Halloween is ‘that other day of the year’. So, what’s with Halloween? It happens every year when I see signage all over the place greeting everyone Happy Halloween! That’s one greeting which makes me feel uneasy. After all, this day of the year is something that has to do with the dead and / or the supernatural. After ranting about it for the past few years, I have decided that it’s time to share what I got from encarta.msn.com. Here I go:

Halloween is a holiday observed on the evening of October 31 in most areas of North America and in some areas of Western Europe. The holiday is symbolically associated with death and the supernatural. Halloween falls on the eve of All Saints’ Day, also known as Allhallows or Hallowmas, a holy day in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Originally a pagan festival of the dead, All Saints’ Day was established by the Catholic Church in the 9th century to honor Christian saints. All Souls’ Day, a holy day established by the Catholic Church in the 10th century, is also closely linked to Halloween. All Souls’ Day, on November 2, is observed to help purify the spirits of the dead.

Halloween is historically related to similar folk holidays celebrated in other countries. The Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday that coincides with All Souls’ Day, blends Roman Catholic and Native American traditions about the souls of the dead. On the Day of the Dead, Mexicans decorate their homes with playful imagery of animated human skeletons, leave offerings of food for wandering spirits, and tend the graves of their deceased relatives.

Most Halloween festivities are based on folk beliefs concerning supernatural forces and spirits of the dead. Halloween decorations typically feature imagery associated with supernatural beings such as witches, werewolves, vampires, and ghosts. Images thought to symbolize bad omens - such as black cats, bats, and spiders - are also commonly featured in Halloween decorations. The most celebrated Halloween decoration is the jack-o’-lantern, traditionally a hollowed-out pumpkin carved to resemble a grotesque face and illuminated by a candle placed inside. The jack-o’-lantern derives its name from a character in British folktales. According to these tales, the soul of a deceased person named Jack O’ Lantern was barred from both heaven and hell and was condemned to wander the earth with his lantern. Orange and black, colors associated with pumpkins and darkness respectively, figure prominently in most Halloween decorations.

Now, having taken all that, you still feel like partying?

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! And yes, Happy Halloween everyone! (Well, if you can’t beat them, join them) Ciao!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nagpakadati-dati (Part 3)

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. My apologies for today’s title. It’s the only way I can get your attention. Anyway today’s column still has something to do with an earlier column (many called it a rant) regarding the project at the Cathedral.

Last Monday, I enumerated the various findings as contained in the Technical Report submitted by the Conservation Specialist Group to Bishop Isabelo Abarquez. It will be recalled that the group was invited by the Bishop to inspect the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral after some Calbayognons expressed concern about the ongoing LANDSCAPING project. Yup, mga concerned Calbayognon KUNU nga nagpakadati-dati as they were supposedly referred to by some people in the parish.

Anyway, let me now continue with the Conservation Specialist Group’s recommendations:

Recommendations:

1. Short Term Recommendations
  • It is the team’s recommendation that the stripping of the cement plaster be continued since this type of plaster is not compatible with the coral stones, bricks and river stones used on the original fabric.
  • It is recommended that the people involved in the stripping of the cement plaster be educated in the manner of stripping so as not to further damage the disintegrating surface of the bricks.
  • Once stripped of cement plaster, it is recommended that the brick and rubble stone buttresses be re-plastered using lime to ensure the prevention of further decay.
  • Please review the additions, ornamentations of the front facade, as well as the finishes used on the Portecochere so that it integrates homogeneously with the original architecture of the cathedral.

2. Long Term Recommendations
It is highly recommended that the custodians of the Cathedral come up with a Conservation Master Plan with a Preventive Maintenance Program to ensure the manageable conservation of the Cathedral.

  • The Conservation Master Plan should already envision the repair works and interventions, immediate and long term, that are to be undertaken;
  • Review the installation of the Rib-type Galvanized Iron Roof to prevent further leakage. This might require re-installation to correct over-lapping system;
  • Review design of Ceiling system. It is recommended that the cement plaster ceiling be replaced with Marine Plywood once the rotten wood nailers have been replaced.
  • It is recommended that heat insulation should be integrated into the Roof System.
  • An Inventory of all Church Holdings i.e. moveable objects, furniture, retablos, altar table, chandeliers, etc. should be undertaken.
  • It is recommended that a small Interpretation Corner or a small Exhibit of the Interventions being undertaken for the conservation of the Cathedral be put into place. This “media section” makes a brief explanation of what is being done and how the church will look like once all the works are completed.

Let me feature once again the names of the three architects who visited the Cathedral on October 2, 2009:

Professor Eric Zerrudo, the Director of the UST Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics. He is the Administrative Director of Escuela Taller de Intramuros.

Architect Rino Fernandez, Professor at the UST College of Architecture. He is the Academic Coordinator of Escuela Taller de Intramuros.

Architect Carmen Betina Bulaong, Senior Lecturer at the UP College of Architecture . She is the Workshop Coordinator of Escuela Taller de Intramuros.

* * *

Wedding Bells. Armel Custodio and Jane Hambre will get married tomorrow. Fr. Bloi Guiuan will preside over their wedding mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Reception will be held at the CKC Auditorium.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nagpakadati-dati (Part 2)

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar daily Express)

Hi there! Do you still remember my rant regarding that LANDSCAPING project at the Cathedral? To refresh ourselves, the LANDSCAPING project which included the tearing of plaster off the exterior buttresses of the cathedral caused some concerned Calbayognons to raise some questions. It turned out that those who complained were featured not in one, but in at least two homilies, as yet another priest castigated them in another sermon during another Sunday mass, you know by saying ini nga mga tawo, imbes nga mamulig, ada lugod an pagparapanreklamo. (I may never complain about the fees at the parish, but certainly not on a heritage structure like the cathedral. Well, the fees are another story)


Back to that complaint. Calbayognons are either nice or mga walang paki. My apologies for saying that. I think that realization hit me during the meeting with the three architects who were invited by the Bishop. They said that they have been to various places around the country because of just that – complaints over “careless” interventions on old heritage structures and / or churches (whew! In this case we have to be thankful then, hindi tayo nag-iisa). They said that the case of Calbayog is something mild compared to other places where in some instance you are talking about case being filed in court. Anyway, back to the project.

Three architects from Ecuela Taller de Intramuros were invited to come over and do some inspection on the project site last October 2, 2009. I got hold of a copy of the technical report which they sent to Bishop Abarquez. The good Bishop gave me permission to feature that report in this column and in my blog.

Let me begin by introducing the three architects who visited Calbayog: Professor Eric Zerrudo, the Director of the UST Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics. He is also the Administrative Director of Escuela Taller de Intramuros; Architect Rino Fernandez, Professor at the UST College of Architecture. He is the Academic Coordinator of Escuela Taller de Intramuros; and Architect Carmen Betina Bulaong, Senior Lecturer at the UP College of Architecture. She is the Workshop Coordinator of Escuela Taller de Intramuros. In case you are wondering what Escuela Taller de Intramuros is, I will be giving you some info about it in my next column.

Some details from the report on initial findings at the cathedral:

  • Inspection of exterior buttresses at southeastern facade (this is the side facing Sen. Pres. Avelino Avenue)
  1. The exterior buttresses at the southeastern façade of the cathedral were stripped of cement plastering. These exposed buttresses are composed of two tiers. The lower tier, being more massive and thicker compared to the upper portion, is of bricks and stone rubble with lime mortar. The upper tier is made of coral stone blocks.
  2. Upon initial inspection by the team, it has been found that the exposed bricks are already disintegrating. Much of its surface has come off with the cement plaster. In view of this, stripping of the cement plaster must be done manually with extra care.
  • Inspection of the Present Church Holdings in the Interior (altar table, retablo, side altars, etc.)
  1. The apse of the cathedral containing the altar and retablo was also inspected. This area is severely altered. From old pictures, it can be determined that the side altars, pulpit, the wrought iron communion rail, the chandeliers and the frescoed ceiling have disappeared. The side and rear wall area has totally different wall treatment from the original. As for the retablo, the positioning of the saints have been altered.
  • Inspection of the Rear Facade
  1. In the exterior facade the team found some remnants of lime plaster on the coral stone blocks. It can then be assumed that the entire exterior wall of the Cathedral was originally plastered with lime.
  2. On the upper portion of the exterior facade wall the team discovered a seal bearing the year of the construction of the church. Unfortunately this year (the year starts with 18) is now partially erased due to the boaring of a hole right in the middle of the seal to receive what looked like a wooden beam.
  3. Flanking this seal are two hexagonal oculus which corresponds to the two windows behind the main retable at the altar area of the Cathedral.
  • Inspection of the Ceiling and the Roof Truss system:
  1. The team also inspected the roof trusses and the ceiling system. It has been determined that the 12”x12” ridge beam and the 8”x8” roof trusses made of molave wood are in very good condition. There are only a few members of the truss system that needs to be replaced.
  2. The ceiling system is comprised of 2”x2” ordinary wood nailers and is covered by cement plaster on chicken wire matting. Much of the wood nailers are rotting away due to leaks on the roof. It has been explained that the rib-type galvanized iron roofing has not been properly installed, hence the leakage.
  3. The cement plaster ceiling is disintegrating at some parts, especially those near the edges where it meets the interior walls. This system, which is heavy and odes not deflect heat coming from the roof, is posing a threat to the safety of the users of the Cathedral due to falling debris.
  • Inspection of the Portecochere, Bellfry and the Front Facade:
  1. The front façade of the Cathedral has been severely altered (based on old pictures). The original austere facade, quite commonplace in the Franciscan order’s architecture, is now lost to the neo-romanesque style adopted in the present facade. Noteworthy is the construction of the Bellfry and Portocochere which are made of modern materials and modern finishes.
to be continued)

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy 61st Birthday Calbayog!

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s going to be a long weekend for Calbayognons as we celebrate the 61st Charter Day Anniversary. Malacañang has proclaimed today, October 16, 2009 as a special non-working holiday in Calbayog by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1915. Said proclamation was signed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on October 12, 2009.

Today’s celebration will be a low-key one, that’s if we compare it to last year’s celebration when the city turned 60. Today’s events will include the following:
  • 6:00 am – Thanksgiving Mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral

  • 7:00 am – Flag-raising ceremony / Short Program at the City Hall Stage

  • 7:30 am – Parade

  • 9:00 am – Inauguration of the Calbayog City Sports Center

The short program at the City Hall stage will include the ceremonial signing of the Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) between the LGU and URGE-Calbayog. It will be followed by the ceremonial pinning of Calbayog’s Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) Proficiency Seal. Expected to deliver their messages are Congressman Reynaldo Uy and Mayor Mel Sarmiento. Also in the program is the awarding of commendation and cash incentive to Mrs. Lourdes Matan of the Mag-ubay National High School. Ms. Matan was one of the national winners in the 2009 Metrobank Search for Outstanding Teachers.

Calbayog became a chartered city on October 16, 1948 by virtue of R.A. 328 which was authored by then Senate President Jose Avelino and Congressman Agripino Escareal.

* * *

The Department of Education is set to launch "Brigada Eskwela Plus" in Calbayog City. Let me give you part of the report which I got from DYOG’s Eleen Lim:
DepEd Central Office will launch the Brigada Eskwela Plus in Calbayog City tomorrow, October 17, 2009.

DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus will lead the list of participants to the launching which will include Calbayog City Officials led by Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, and DepEd Officials for Region 8.

According to City Schools Division Superintendent Editha Paculan, since the Brigada Eskwela Program which empowers various communities nationwide in helping their schools prepare for the opening of classes in the month of June was very successful, the DepEd deemed it necessary to step up its Program efforts to harness the partnership of over 43,000 public schools with their community stakeholders, and to maximize each community’s potential for participation in the affairs of education through Brigada Eskwela Plus.

The Brigada Eskwela Plus shall focus on three main activities: school maintenance activities through out the school year, community-led efforts to improve student participation and reduce the incidence of drop-outs, and community –led efforts to improve student performance.

During the program-launching, Paculan said that other DepEd Programs implemented together with the community stakeholders will also be tackled, such as the Adopt-a School Program, Project Faces or Facilitating Access to Complete Elementary School, and the very successful Project “Sakay Na,” or Shuttle All Kids and Youngsters Needing Assistance of the city.

Also invited to this event are members of the Local School Board, Parents-Teachers’ Association presidents, Punong Barangays, Barangay Kagawads who chair the education committees, and SK Chairpersons.

Expected to provide entertainment during the whole-day program which will be held at the City Sports Complex are the students of Calbayog City National High School, DepEd Calbayog City Cultural Group, and popular singer Yeng Constantino.

* * *

For my column this Monday, I will give you an update on the restoration (landscaping) project at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice long weekend everyone, I mean folks in Calbayog! Ciao!

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