Friday, December 22, 2006


I got interviewed by the inimitably irreverent Benito Vergara. He is the thinking man's Mo' Twister of blog interviews. Nice chap. Nice questions. Not so nice answers.

1. Ever thought to yourself: frack it, I should be Secretary of the Department of Tourism? Where would you start?

I would start by....

Read the rest here. It won't take much time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Well, people in MY neighborhood actually. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to ANTHONY SJ DEGUZMAN CPO PN (Res) of the 201st Philippine Naval Reserve Command, a fellow tour guide for the city of Intramuros. For months, I promised him a plug and here it is (Sorry, Anthony, for the delay). He comes with my highest recommendations if you are looking for a tour on a kalesa at the last minute (he is posted by the ticket booth of Fort Santiago everyday). I especially recommend him if you are looking for a tour with a military history angle. It's his specialty and he even wears his military uniform to complete the effect. Anthony is the one in the center of the picture above, the large white man on the right side is a retired US Navyman from Texas who apparently was rather pleased with his tour. I totally forgot the name of the guy in the kalesa to the left. I just call him "Manong" (a term of respect meant for an elder one).

Anthony's mobile no. 0919 8005731.

Sunday, December 10, 2006



This is not going to be a post about the movie, "Borat". Lord knows there are enough people on the blogosphere rambling on about how much they loved or hated this movie. This will be a post about Kazakhstan itself (below), who's reputation truly suffered in Sasha Baron Cohen's inglorious depiction of their country as a urine-drinking, sister-pimping nation of Anti-Semites.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Cohen's edgy brand of covert ambush comedy, I must admit that was slightly disturbed as well. Hailing from a frequently misunderstood and overlooked place like Manila, I too sympathized with Kazakhstan's offense at his portrayal of their perceived "backwardness". So in order to set myself straight about the facts surrounding this energy rich nation of 16.7 million people sandwiched between Russia and China, I naturally referred to "google" of course. And lordy, was it an enlightening endeavor. Just click onto Kazakh Info: a non-profit "Official Site" for Kazakhstan information and for the promotion of all things Kazakh, and you can see perhaps where SBC mined his content.

Entry describing the former Capital of Almaty: "Today, Almaty is known as the commercial capital of Kazakstan. Since the official move of the capital to Astana in July, most businesses have remained in Almaty. One of the main reasons for this is that there is no international flights directly into Astana at this time."

Okidoki. Kind of an odd entry. Why would one who wishes to promote their country want to emphasize the inaccessibility of their capital?

Or their entry on the city of Aqtau: (It} means "white mountain" in Kazak, so named after the vast, flat steppes surrounding the city! It has become somewhat of a tourist location because of it's location along the Caspian Sea. Just don't plan on taking a bath while you are there as the water comes out of the tap brown."

Um. Ok. Who wrote this one? I would send him on the first train to Siberia if I were his boss. But this entry by far is my favorite:

"This city was originally founded as a fortress in 1824 and named Akmolinsk. It was renamed Tselinograd (Russian for Virgin City) during the rule of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The main reason for this name change was to promote more permanent agriculture in Northern Kazakstan during the Virgin Lands Program. The cities name was again changed in 1991 to Aqmola, when Kazakstan gained it's freedom. Because the name Aqmola sounded too much like "White Grave", Nazarbayev changed the name to Astana (literally "Capital") in 1998."

I truly enjoyed this one. It was so understated, funny and surreal without trying at all.

But not that the site is without it's more disturbing parts:

"The climate of Kyzl Orda has also under gone a change since the Soviets took power. Talking to Kazaks who have lived there for many years, they have noticed that the winters are colder and the summers hotter. Much of this may be attributable to the shrinking of the Aral Sea."

Or even worse, this:

"Semey is perhaps best known for the nuclear testing that was done nearby. This was the major nuclear testing sight for the Soviet Union. Much of the testing was done above ground, causing the spread of radiation throughout the area. Reservoirs were even made using a nuclear explosion to provide water for the residents. Over 470 nuclear bombs were exploded here between 1949 and 1989. Semey is only 93 miles (150 km) from where most of the testing occurred. Because of the lack of environmental concerns, many of the citizens of Semey suffer some form of radiation poisoning."

Good heavens. It's no wonder that this site gives barely any information about travel and accomodation at all. So the next time one complains about the negative and inaccurate information disseminated about the Philippines out there on the world wide web, well, think again...

Click onto more accurate information about Kazakhstan here:

And read about their desire to build the world's biggest yurt here:

And finally, thank you Ivy, for the lovely post about the CCP tour on your blog. Yes, I know, the bureaucracy was mind-blowing, no? But things are better now between the CCP, Coconut Palace, and I.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


So apparently UberadagencyBBDOGuerreroOrtega is opening a gallery called "Cemento". It opens tomorrow night at 6:00PM at the 11th floor of the Insular Life Building. (Ooh. Cool. What a retro address.) Insular Life is located at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati. The opening exhibition is David Byrne's photos for the book, Manila Envelope. Yes. That David Byrne. The Talking Head.

After checking that out, I'm also going to head out to Green Papaya in Quezon City for "Postmodernism is So Last Season". Hope I don't get there too late. Lots of great artists on the list.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


A million thanks to for the great feature. Well, it looks like a great feature. The sound card of my computer is broken so I have no idea what I sound like or what the hell I'm saying. But nevertheless, ClickTheCity is a great site. I always use them to check out movie schedules and for restaurant details.

And I'm not being a kiss ass. I really do use the site.

Click here for the site; click here for the clipcast. Thanks jay for the photo!

Monday, November 27, 2006


C'mon Everyone. You only have two more days to go to watch "Ang Pamana: The Inheritance". It's a fabulous movie about homecoming Filipino-Canadians who are terrorized by the monsters which inhabit the old house they inherited from their grandmother. Completely shot in 35mm and set to super duper surround sound, it's perhaps this year's glossiest Filipino film. Done in English with subtitles under the spoken Tagalog parts, I highly recommend this film to any English speaking foreigner, and Filipino English language trainee who wants to learn more about Filipino folklore, traditional animism, and the "aswang". Highly recommended by the the MTRCB (Movie and Television Classification Board) for it's high production values, the film was giving an "A" rating, and now enjoys tax free status. (Above) Picture of the movie poster at the premiere in Shangri La Mall. (Below left to right), director Romeo Candido, actress Caroline Mangosing ("Lola"), actress Nadine Villasin ("Anna") , and Darrel Gamotin ("Johnny") being interviewed by MTV Philippines. The movie also stars Phoemela Baranda, Nico Garcia, Victor Neri. Their award nominated website can be accessed here.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Yes. I know. Enough with the Imelda posts already. But as the finale of Imelda Week here on Walk This Way, permit me to post these photos of myself, my wife, and Her Highness the High Hair during the Imelda Moment I had last weekend. Mucho mucho thanks to my friend, Daphne, for capturing it. I'll move onto another topic now...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Dr. Fernando Zialcita, a professor of Philippine history at the Ateneo de Manila, once lamented that the Philippines and it's dominant culture seemed invisible. He believed that our country, with it's westernized ways, seems to be considered as an anomaly to the Southeast Asian region and is apparently "not exotic enough" to the eyes of the world to be given much attention. And due to this inability to peg Philippine culture among it's neighboring cultures, they just bypass it altogether. As an example, he said to look up most international publications on cultures of Southeast Asia printed in the last fifty years and one will see that great focus will be given to neighboring Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand but only minimal print will be given to the Philippines. And if the Philippines is mentioned at all, those features will only touch upon Philippine tribal and pre-hispanic cultures. the dominant Philippine lowland/Christianized culture created after 1600 won't be mentioned at all. It had become invisible.

That theory stuck to me as I thought about our presence in magazine publications in New York City (above). For the past few years and at any given month, one could open up just about any art or lifestyle or travel or events or cuisine publication and section upon section would be given to the arts, crafts, culture, cuisine etc... of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, et al. But aside from the "surreal" section ('Woman gives birth to fish') and world news events ('Terrorism!', ''Typhoons!'), the Philippines was given small notice if any at all. It seemed like the Philippines was becoming invisible in New York.

It was a was really a sad state of affairs considering that thirty years ago, thanks to Imelda's jet setting ways and real estate purchasing "savvy", the Philippines held a pretty high profile in the "greatest city on earth". Think about it. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, at any given time you could open up the Village Voice, The New Yorker, or New York Magazine listings section and you would see that the Philippines would be having: a) Architect Leandro Locsin guest as set designer for Martha Graham's latest ballet, b) a festival of handicrafts at Bloomingdale's Department Store c) a travel exposition at the newly opened Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue (above) or off the record, hosting a Van Cliburn private piano recital at the Philippine president's residential townhouse on 56th street between Lexington and 5th. (more on this below). It was apparent that the Philippines was the most dominant Southeast Asian culture on the New York cultural map beforing falling back into anonymity when we slashed the budget for public relations.
But after years of neglect, I'm glad to see that we are slowly creeping back to the surface in the New York City scene. With the latest performance of the Bayanihan Dance Company at the Metropolitan Museum, the feature of Cendrillon Restaurant's book, "Memories of Philippine Kitchens" (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang) as Vanity Fair Magazines Fanfair picks (above), and Imelda Marcos making it into the "Approval Matrix" of New York Magazine (below), it somehow seems were kinda poised to head back into the Big Apple's cultural consciousness once again. Bravo bravo to you all!
But then again, maybe just half a bravo to Imelda. Her position was still in the was "highbrow, despicable" area. And while we're on the topic of Her Highness The High Hair. Allow me to post some pictures I took of her former town house during my last visit to New York.

Actually, it was never Imelda's townhouse. It was always owned by the Philippine government and used as offices for our Ambassador to the United Nations since the 1950s. It was only refurbished as a residence by Imelda in in the 1970s after she moved all the offices to the more centrally located Philippine Center on 5th Ave. Today, half the property has been sold to the Czech government to use as their consulate (hence, the renovations).

Here is the entrance foyer with most of the original wall/ceiling details remaining intact. The place, although a bit dark, I am happy to report, is spotlessly clean.

Here is a picture of the Dining Room with a chandelier that supposedly cost U$one million. I'm not sure how true this is but apparently it once had real diamonds hanging from them. They are gone now.

The grand staircase. Then and now. Note the missing tapestry and antique candelabra. Apparently most of the good stuff went missing during the Cory Administration, when most of the furniture was "sequestered" by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

The piano room/sala. Note the mural works of peacocks behind Imelda are the same ones next to the fireplace. The murals are in current need of restoration (water damage) and would cost about U$50,000.00. The house itself is one of New York City's registered Historic Homes so I hope the funding for this comes soon.

Finally, a portrait of the living room and the current mistress of the house, Mrs. Norma Baja, the wife of Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations, Amb. Lauro Baja. She sometimes throws ballroom dancing parties at the townhouse when entertaining fellow UN diplomats ("Koffi Annan is an excellent dancer."). Most of the furniture is hers and will leave with her when their assignment ends. The chandeliers will remain though. "They belong to the Filipino People", she says. Thanks for the tour and the cookies. Charming charming lady.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Ok. So I finally met Imelda Marcos. And even though I really didn't want to - I did. Actually, I have refused quite a few offers to interview or meet Madame M in the flesh. Considering that I do a tour called "Living La Vida Imelda", a three hour tour about her life and the architecture that she commissioned, I really didn't want to contaminate my viewpoint by meeting the subject herself. The tour I do is based on our country's perceptions about the woman. It includes both the rumors and the realities, and I felt that meeting her would compromise the content. But nevertheless, last Saturday our inevitable meeting had come to pass.

The location was at the Philippine Plaza Hotel, the time was after my Quiapo tour, the event was the launch of her jewelry collection, and my outfit: Puruntong pants (cargo bermuda shorts), a sweaty red collared shirt, and dirty sneakers. I was totally wearing an inappropriate outfit for the launch of a jewelry line but who cares? I had just come from touring and I wouldn't have changed even if I was going to meet the Queen of England or the Pope. Admittedly, my invite came at the last minute (thank you Junjun for letting me crash the party with you) and I didn't have the time. Besides, my intentions to crash the party were pure. I wasn't planning to wolf down all their food or social climb any of the characters that were there. I was only curious about what her jewelry designs looked like - period. Bryanboy - Pahiram ng photo of the event above (Bryanboy - Can I borrow the photo above, please?) I forgot to bring a camera that night.

Anyhoo, Imelda sat across the room in a leaf green and pink butterfly sleeved terno, muching on chicken barbecue (boneless, of course) when I was suddenly motioned to come over by the hostess of the evening, Daphne Osena Paez. "O, have you ever met Imelda?", she asked? I said no and was just about to explain myself when quicker than you could say "Salvatore Ferragamo Balena Grey velvet sandals with fondente dark brown galuchet ornaments", Daphne turns to MIRM and says, "Mrs. Marcos, this is Carlos Celdran, he does tours of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Coconut Palace."

Then suddenly, everything got a little foggy. To tell you the truth, I kinda lost composure. When people say that the woman radiates an energy, it doesn't quite measure up to the act of actually meeting her up front. I could swear her hair was vibrating. I almost found myself courtseying.

And then... she opened her mouth: "Ah yes," she began, smiling at me with her rheumy eyes suddenly aglow with nostalgic thoughts. "I was talking to National Geographic Magazine yesterday about when Mrs. Marcos was still first lady." I love it. She talks about herself in the third person. "I was visiting the provinces and I saw people living in these little shanties. They were so ugly. So I told them, 'O pagandahin mo naman. ('Why don't you make your houses more beautiful?') and they told me, 'Maam, we cannot because we only have these simple materials of bamboo and coconut.'" Pause. Small bite into her chicken barbecue. Then, she continued, "So what did I do? I built them a coconut and bamboo palace to show them that even if you are poor, there is no excuse for being ugly."

How brilliant - I think. I then found myself apologizing for what I was wearing. "It's okay, she said without looking at me "I know that is how the young people dress nowadays." But after being introduced to my wife, Tesa, she turns to me and says, "So many beautiful people here tonight, birds of a feather flock together." Then a giggle. Then another bite of the barbecue.

After a few more shared words, her parting words to me were, "Remember to always set an example, mass always follows class, class never follows mass." before adamantly reinforcing that, "It's NEVER the other way around!"

Um. Ok. The fog had lifted.

Oh - and to be fair, the woman has a bit of talent. The pieces she designed were...Ok.

The next CCP tour is on November 24, Friday at 2:00pm and November 30, Thursday at 2:00pm. Meet at the CCP Figaro Coffee Shop across from the theatre entrance automobile ramp.

Next, my visit to her former town house in New York City...

PS. Thanks a gazillion to uber super duper sex therapist, Dra. Margie Holmes for the lovely shout out on her website. She really is too sweet. If you haven't checked out her great site yet. Log onto it now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Stuff to do during the last week of November till Christmas
Gee. It's mid-November. I guess that means it's already Christmas in Manila. And it also means that the cultural events season is about to shift into high gear. It seems like there is something to do just about every night. Here is a listing of some of the stuff I want to check out this month:

The San Agustin Organ Festival
Date: November 28, 29, and 30

Time: 8:00PM

Place: The San Agustin Church, Intramuros

Description: For the 8th year in a row, the 18th-century organ at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros warms up it's pipes for your pleasure. Featured artists for this festival are the Spanish organist Juan de la Rubia and Filipino trumpetist Fredeline Parin. They will be performing with the UST Singers, Kilyawan Boys Choir, and the UP Singing Ambassadors. Bring a fan (no aircon) and a deep love for Baroque Music. Call 5266793 for details and nightly programme. Only Php300.00 and Php500.00 tickets left. Oh and check out this cool panoramic shot of the organ here. Thanks Fung Yu.

The Manila Cathedral Organ Festival
Date and Time:
December 1, 7:00PM
December 3, 2:00PM and 8:30PM

December 4, 7:00PM

December 8, 7:30PM

December 10, 6:00PM

Place: The Manila Cathedral, Intramuros

Description: Well, thank heavens the performances of San Agustin and Manila Cathedral don't overlap. World-acclaimed Belgian artist Luc Ponet performs on the newly restored organ (the largest in Asia I hear) in this five-day festival, joined by local virtuosos Armando Salarza and Jose Flores Jr. No worries for those who easily perspire, The Manila Cathedral is airconditioned. A million thanks to Diego de Cera of Las Pinas for restoring both San Agustin and Manila Cathedral organs. The nation is indebted to your expertise. Admission is free.

Confradia de Intramuros Grand Marian Festival
Date: December 3, SUNDAY

Time: Come at around 4:00PM

Place: All around Intramuros
Description: It is Intramuros at it's most beautiful. Come witness the annual procession of carrozas (illuminated Marian floats) which celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Almost 70 decorated floats will snake it's way around the walled city starting at the Plaza Roma. An absolutely awesome sight not to be missed for both Filipinos and foreigners alike. Be sure to bring a camera and wear good walking shoes. Arrive closer to sunset and stick around to catch the organ concert at the Cathedral. Thank you Robby dela Vega for the photos.

The Arturo Luz Festival
Feature: "Let There Be Light"

Date: November 22, 2006
Time: 6:00PM
Place: All around the Cultural Center of the Philippines

Ballet Philippines, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, and Tanghalang Pilipino each perform a ten minute piece in front of various sculptures and paintings by National Artist Arturo Luz located around the CCP premises. Wear something fashionable and dine at someplace classy afterwards, like Sala, or Lolo Dads. You know you want to after all that high art and modernism. This event is part of a larger festival that includes exhibitions of Arturo Luz's works at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, the Ateneo Art Gallery, the Ayala Museum, and the Design Center of the Philippines. Call the CCP at 8321125 local 1511 or 1512 for more details. Thanks Ramon 2002 for the photo.

The Opening of the G Hotel
Date: November 20, 2006

Time: All day

Place: 2090 Roxas Boulevard, Malate

Downtown Manila's first bonafide boutique hotel opens it's doors. Featuring decor by architect/designer Gerry Contreras (which is what the G stands for) and managed by the Waterfront Hotels Group (then again, the G could mean Gatchalian), this 50-room gem of a hotel features a striking lobby done in dramatic black and white, tastefully appointed rooms with modern Filipino furniture, and a penthouse ballroom good for 120 overlooking the waters of Manila Bay. Each room comes with a pantry and their rooftop poolside bar, Mirage, promises to be the epicenter of action for Manila's hipsters who are looking for the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail overlooking Roxas Boulevard and the sunset. Rooms start at U$100.00. Call 5280888.

Date: November 18, 3:00PM
Place: Mag:net Cafe and Gallery,
Katipunan Avenue, QC
Mag:net Cafe is happy to announce the holding of its first ARTGRILL. Come and witness artists, art writers, critics, academicians, gallerists, and collectors engage internationally acclaimed artists Manuel Ocampo, Sandra Palomar and Nestor Vinluan in an interactive dialogue. Although presentations will precede the dialogue, the audience is encouraged to view the exhibitions of the featured artists as well. Ocampo is at the Finale Art File (SM Mega Mall), Palomar is at Silverlens Gallery (2320 Pasong Tamo Ext, Makati) and Vinluan is at Mag:net Katipunan (335 Agcor Building, Katipunan Ave, Loyola Heights, QC). Their shows run till the end of the month. Admission is free.
For inquiries, call 9293191 (Malou)
or email
or visit

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Aside from the obvious entry of Ali Atienza (current Mayor Lito Atienza's son) into the race for Manila Mayor in 2007, it seems that it's only former presidential candidate, Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson who has officially announced his intention run against him. During a press conference this morning at the Manila Hotel (which was looking pretty shabby in the background by the way), he presented his platform/acronym (HOPE). H apparently stands for HEALTH (which I hope includes birth control and reproductive health services), O means ORDER (which I hope includes enforcing anti-vagrancy, anti-littering, and anti-noise pollution laws), P means... um... I forgot.. was it peace? productivity? Ooh. Sorry, I guess I wasn't listening very well (He is kinda boring to watch - no offense to him). And the E stands for Education (and I hope that means educating people about arts, culture, and the necessity for architectural heritage preservation). And aside from the irritating use of acronyms (which is just juvenile), the other thing that bugged me out about the press conference was his invocation of God. Apparently, running for mayor was not his decision but the decision of someone um..higher up. No comment. I will have no comment for a while either. I'm not sure which candidate to support just yet. I have to research the other candidates' platforms first. Hurry up, Borgy. I'm waiting.

Favorite moment of the press conference: when asked about Atong Ang and his testimony possibly linking Ping to the Kuratong Baleleng rubout cases, the senator replied that he is not afraid, "Let him lie and lie and lie until his nose reaches his toes." Sigh. Such elegant phrasing.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Just received this in the mail today. Very cool. Another walking/theatrical experience opens up in Intramuros. Cool! The more the merrier I say. I'm definitely going to check this out.

The Department of Tourism and Intramuros Administration present "A Walk Back in Time: The Intramuros Theater-in-the-Round Experience" It will be a weekly theatre show about Philippine Colonial Culture and History. In addition to the show, there will also be a food festival, a lantern showcase exhibition, and chorale presentations. This event will begin on November 17 and the grounds will be open from 6-11PM at the Plaza San Ignacio in Intramuros, Manila. The theater show is directed by Chris Millado, written by Palanca awardee Rody Vera, and performed by the CCP resident drama company, Tanghalang Pilipino. It will run twice nightly (Fri and Saturdays only) at 8 and 9PM.

Every Friday and Saturday
November 17 - December 23, 2006.
Plaza San Ignacio (next to the ruins of the former San Ignacio Church)

The event is open to the public and admission is free.

And to all you foreigners out there who are contemplating whether or not to watch because of a language barrier. No worries. The show is in ENGLISH.

PSS. A big thanks out to the website PINOYexpats for their lovely article here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


It has been exactly ten years since I graduated from RISD and eight years since I moved away from New York City and the United States altogether. And to say that both places have changed since then is like saying that Filipinos "kinda" like pork. Back then, New York City still had porn on 42nd street, all restaurants still had smoking sections, CBGB's was still the center for rock and roll, and the World Trade Center Towers still stood. Meanwhile Providence (above), although charming, was an undeniably grey backwater rather unworthy of being on anyone's tourist map much less relevant enough to be used as a backdrop for such TV series as "Family Guy" and naturally, "Providence". Today, New York City is still an exciting albeit somewhat milder version of what it once was while Providence has taken an extreme turn towards gentrification. Now whether these cities have changed for the better or for the worse - I still have to decide. So allow me to reflect...
I was amazed to see that the capital of a state once nicknamed the "armpit of New England" has finally gotten it's act together. Up until when I graduated college in 1996, the city had the reputation of being the closest thing to a third world country that one could find within the New England corridor. Rife with pollution, crime, derelict structures, historic site demolitions (above), retarded urban planning and a local government plagued with scandal, all seemed completely hopeless for the city. Former Providence "mayor for life", Vincent Albert "Buddy" Cianci Jr. (below, left), held onto office for almost twenty years and was rumored to have mafia ties. After being indicted in 2001, he currently is serving time for racketeering, conspiracy, and witness tampering charges - among others. But despite the odds which included an apathetic civil sector, an abandoned city center, and a corrupt government system, in just a little over a decade, Providence has miraculously shed it's tarnished image and has emerged as a shining example that proper coordination between the government, the private sector, and the arts community can completely transform a society. And all this was brought about by the most unlikely of pioneers, the controversial "Buddy" Cianci himself.
Despite Buddy's colorful/questionable political career, many credit him as the man who initiated the reinvention of Providence. It was he that began the reversal of decades of misguided city planning and it was no mean feat. Aside from having the political will to implement zoning and historic structure protection laws, he initiated the uncovering (above) and restoration of two rivers (the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck) that had been paved over in the 1950s. From 1992 until 1996, over 1,150 feet of roadway, asphalt, and concrete was removed (below) from over the river and a tree lined promenade and park were constructed in order to connect both sides of Providence through a green central core. Today, it stands as an amazing feat of American engineering, creating one of the most charming urban riverscapes in the United States (below, center).
And thanks to his vision of supporting the arts in order to create commerce (the mayor even offered artists income and sales tax exemptions as long as they move their studios and galleries into the downtown area), Providence is now reaping the rewards. Increased real estate values, a construction boom (above), and a thriving tourism industry thanks to Providence's version of the Mardi Gras "Waterfire" (below) are only few of the amazing changes that I noticed during this last visit. The once derelict and endangered historic areas of Providence (below, middle) now has it's 19th century architecture protected by a pro-active preservation society while designer furniture and clothing boutiques now line streets where crime and pollution once reigned supreme (below, bottom). It seems that thanks to Buddy's initiatives, Providence has successfully transformed itself from being a lackluster collection of abandoned brick buildings into one of the United States' most progressive and forward thinking small cities, complete with protected heritage architecture zones and an openly gay mayor.
Now to ponder whether Manila could emulate Providence's pioneering efforts is a moot point. The last time we let art and culture become part of our social engineering efforts was underneath the leadership of former Metro Manila Governor Imelda Marcos and look where that got us (and unlike then, Providence still kept it's moral core intact by eventually JAILING Cianci DESPITE what he had done for the city). Nevertheless, the lessons to be learned from Providence are real and substantial. Arts, culture, and especially architecture are undeniably integral to the development of any society's soul. Providence is proof of that. Providence has also proven that it's possible to correct past mistakes and set a city back on the right track. And if a tiny town like them can do it, why can't we?

Next. New York City.


Ok. I just had to stop my email editing and my backlog of blog draft writing to bring you this "What the F...?" segment. Was I hallucinating on mushrooms or did I see Imelda on the cover of the Philippine Star lounging by breakwater of the Philippine Plaza Hotel in a blue muu-muu with photographers all around her? Apparently not, according to the LA Times. According to them, her daughter, Congresswoman Imelda Jr. "Imee" Marcos and her sons (among them, androgynous Blue Soda spokesmodel, Borgy Manotoc), are all set to be launching the Imelda Collection, a line of retro-style clothing, accessories, and obviously, (throat clearing), shoes.

Read the article here.

And speaking of scary muu-muu, thank you Cynthia Dayco for sending me the lovely photos of last weeks cemetery tour. Click here for the album.

Friday, November 03, 2006


And I'm back. Sorry about that. I just stepped out for a bit to take a cigarette break. On the other side of the planet. For a month.

Yup. I have been on vacation for one month. Wild. It's been four weeks plus since I last made an entry and my blog has fallen off the face of the earth (I am now in Yugatech Philippines' Top Blogs purgatory for my absence - Go ahead. Try to find me). Oh well. La dee da. Nevertheless, I was glad to take a break from all the blogging and the relentless unsolicited opinionating and now here I am, back in front of my keyboard ready to get back to work. Ugh.

Needless to say, all went well on my trip back to the United States to visit friends in New York City (above) and to attend my college reunion in Providence, Rhode Island (below). Moreover, I am also delighted to report that no untoward events happened to me at U.S. customs, no major diseases were contracted during the journey, and nor do I harbor any desire to move back to America at all (It's kinda hard to do walking tours about Manila when one is well, not in Manila). And as pleasurable as it was to spend an entire month just imbibing stimuli and only thinking about a life which existed offline, in real time and in the real world, like all good things, it had to end. Now here I sit in front of my genius of a mouse, ready to thresh out over 300 emails and post about how this current visit to the aforementioned cities stack up to my memories of them and to the city where I currently reside.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Republic of the Philippines
Quezon City, Metro Manila


HOUSE BILL NO. __5043___



Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2007”.

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State upholds and promotes responsible parenthood, informed choice, birth spacing and respect for life in conformity with internationally recognized human rights standards. 

The State shall uphold the right of the people, particularly women and their organizations, to effective and reasonable participation in the formulation and implementation of the declared policy.

This policy is anchored on the rationale that sustainable human development is better assured with a manageable population of healthy, educated and productive citizens.

The State likewise guarantees universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors.

SEC. 3. Guiding Principles. – This Act declares the following as basic guiding principles:
In the promotion of reproductive health, there should be no bias for either modern or natural methods of family planning; 
Reproductive health and population development goes beyond a demographic target because it is principally about health and rights;
Gender equality and women empowerment are central elements of reproductive health and population development;
Since manpower is the principal asset of every country, effective reproductive health care services must be given primacy to ensure the birth and care of healthy children and to promote responsible parenting;
The limited resources of the country cannot be suffered to be spread so thinly to service a burgeoning multitude that makes the allocations grossly inadequate and effectively meaningless;
Freedom of informed choice, which is central to the exercise of any right, must be fully guaranteed by the State like the right itself;
While the number and spacing of children are left to the sound judgment of parents and couples based on their personal conviction and religious beliefs, such concerned parents and couples, including unmarried individuals, should be afforded free and full access to relevant, adequate and correct information on reproductive health and human sexuality and should be guided by qualified State workers and professional private practitioners;
Reproductive health, including the promotion of breastfeeding, must be the joint concern of the National Government and Local Government Units;
Protection and promotion of gender equality, woman empowerment and human rights, including reproductive health rights, are imperative;
Development is a multi-faceted process that calls for the coordination and integration of policies, plans, programs and projects that seek to uplift the quality of life of the people, more particularly the poor, the needy and the marginalized;
Active participation by and thorough consultation with concerned non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations (POs) and communities are imperative to ensure that basic policies, plans, programs and projects address the priority needs of stakeholders;
Respect for, protection and fulfillment of reproductive health rights seek to promote not only the rights and welfare of adult individuals and couples but those of adolescents’ and children’s as well; and
While nothing in this Act changes the law on abortion, as abortion remains a crime and is punishable, the government shall ensure that women seeking care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner. 

SEC. 4. Definition of Terms. – For purposes of this Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

Responsible Parenthood - the will, ability and commitment of parents to respond to the needs and aspirations of the family and children more particularly through family planning. 

Family Planning - a program which enables couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to carry out their decisions, and to have informed choice and access to a full range of safe, legal and effective family planning methods, techniques and devices. 

Reproductive Health - the state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. This implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so, provided that these are not against the law. This further implies that women and men are afforded equal status in matters related to sexual relations and reproduction. 

Reproductive Health Rights - the rights of individuals and couples to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children; to make other decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence; to have the information and means to carry out their decisions; and to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.

Gender Equality - the absence of discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex, in opportunities, allocation of resources and benefits, and access to services.

Gender Equity - fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men, and often requires women-specific projects and programs to eliminate existing inequalities, inequities, policies and practices unfavorable to women.

Reproductive Health Care - availability and access to a full range of methods, techniques, supplies and services that contribute to reproductive and sexual health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health-related problems in order to achieve enhancement of life and personal relations. The elements of reproductive health care include: 

Maternal, infant and child health and nutrition;
Promotion of breastfeeding;
Family planning information and services;
Prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications;
Adolescent and youth health;
Prevention and management of reproductive tract infections (RTIs), HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmittable infections (STIs);
Elimination of violence against women; 
Education and counseling on sexuality and sexual and reproductive health;
Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions;
Male involvement and participation in reproductive health; 
Prevention and treatment of infertility and sexual dysfunction; and
Reproductive health education for the youth.

Reproductive Health Education - is the process of acquiring complete, accurate and relevant information on all matters relating to the reproductive system, its functions and processes and human sexuality; and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, interpersonal relationships, affection, intimacy and gender roles. It also includes developing the necessary skills to be able to distinguish between facts and myths on sex and sexuality; and critically evaluate and discuss the moral, religious, social and cultural dimensions of related sensitive issues such as contraception and abortion.

Male involvement and participation - refers to the involvement, participation, commitment and joint responsibility of men with women in all areas of sexual and reproductive health, as well as reproductive health concerns specific to men. 

Reproductive tract infection (RTI) - includes sexually transmitted infections, sexually transmitted diseases and other types of infections affecting the reproductive system.

Basic Emergency Obstetric Care - lifesaving services for maternal complication being provided by a health facility or professional, which must include the following six signal functions: administration of parenteral antibiotics; administration of parenteral oxytocic drugs; administration of parenteral anticonvulsants for pre-eclampsia and eclampsia; manual removal of placenta; and assisted vaginal delivery.

Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric Care - basic emergency obstetric care plus two other signal functions: performance of caesarean section and blood transfusion. 

Maternal Death Review - refers to a qualitative and in-depth study of the causes of maternal death with the primary purpose of preventing future deaths through changes or additions to programs, plans and policies.

Skilled Attendant - an accredited health professional such as a licensed midwife, doctor or nurse who has adequate proficiency and the skills to manage normal (uncomplicated) pregnancies, childbirth and the immediate postnatal period, and in the identification, management and referral of complication in women and newborns.

Skilled Attendance - childbirth managed by a skilled attendant under the enabling conditions of a functional emergency obstetric care and referral system. 

Development - is a multi-dimensional process involving major changes in social structures, popular attitudes, and national institutions as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality and the eradication of widespread poverty.

Sustainable Human Development - the totality of the process of expanding human choices by enabling people to enjoy long, healthy and productive lives, affording them access to resources needed for a decent standard of living and assuring continuity and acceleration of development by achieving a balance between and among a manageable population, adequate resources and a healthy environment.

Population Development - a program that aims to: (1) help couples and parents achieve their desired family size; (2) improve reproductive health of individuals by addressing reproductive health problems; (3) contribute to decreased maternal and infant mortality rates and early child mortality; (4) reduce incidence of teenage pregnancy; and (5) enable government to achieve a balanced population distribution.

SEC. 5. The Commission on Population (POPCOM). – Pursuant to the herein declared policy, the Commission on Population (POPCOM) shall serve as the central planning, coordinating, implementing and monitoring body for the comprehensive and integrated policy on reproductive health and population development. In the implementation of this policy, POPCOM, which shall be an attached agency of the Department of Health (DOH) shall have the following functions:

To create an enabling environment for women and couples to make an informed choice regarding the family planning method that is best suited to their needs and personal convictions;
To integrate on a continuing basis the interrelated reproductive health and population development agenda into a national policy, taking into account regional and local concerns;
To provide the mechanism to ensure active and full participation of the private sector and the citizenry through their organizations in the planning and implementation of reproductive health care and population development programs and projects;
To ensure people’s access to medically safe, legal, quality and affordable reproductive health goods and services;
To facilitate the involvement and participation of non-government organizations and the private sector in reproductive health care service delivery and in the production, distribution and delivery of quality reproductive health and family planning supplies and commodities to make them accessible and affordable to ordinary citizens; 
To fully implement the Reproductive Health Care Program with the following components:
Reproductive and sexual health education including but not limited to counseling on the full range of legal and medically-safe family planning methods including surgical methods;
Maternal, peri-natal and post-natal education, care and services;
Promotion of breastfeeding;
Promotion of male involvement, participation and responsibility in reproductive health as well as other reproductive health concerns of men;
Prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications; and
Provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of the poor, senior citizens, women in prostitution, differently-abled persons, and women and children in war crisis situations.
To ensure that reproductive health services are delivered with a full range of supplies, facilities and equipment and that service providers are adequately trained for reproductive health care;
To endeavor to furnish local Family Planning Offices with appropriate information and resources to keep the latter updated on current studies and research relating to family planning, responsible parenthood, breastfeeding and infant nutrition;
To direct all public hospitals to make available to indigent mothers who deliver their children in these government hospitals, upon the mother’s request, the procedure of ligation without cost to her;
To recommend the enactment of legislation and adoption of executive measures that will strengthen and enhance the national policy on reproductive health and population development;
To ensure a massive and sustained information drive on responsible parenthood and on all methods and techniques to prevent unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies, it shall release information bulletins on the same for nationwide circulation to all government departments, agencies and instrumentalities, non-government organizations and the private sector, schools, public and private libraries, tri-media outlets, workplaces, hospitals and concerned health institutions;
To strengthen the capacities of health regulatory agencies to ensure safe, high-quality, accessible, and affordable reproductive health services and commodities with the concurrent strengthening and enforcement of regulatory mandates and mechanisms; 
To take active steps to expand the coverage of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), especially among poor and marginalized women, to include the full range of reproductive health services and supplies as health insurance benefits; and
To perform such other functions necessary to attain the purposes of this Act.

The membership of the Board of Commissioners of POPCOM shall consist of the heads of the following:

National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)
Department of Health (DOH)
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
Department of Agriculture (DA)
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)
Department of Education (DepEd)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Commission on Higher Education (CHED)
University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI)
Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP)
National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)
National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW)
National Youth Commission (NYC)

In addition to the aforementioned members, there shall be three private sector representatives to the Board of Commissioners of POPCOM who shall come from NGOs. There shall be one (1) representative each from women, youth and health sectors who have a proven track record of involvement in the promotion of reproductive health. These representatives shall be nominated in a process determined by the above-mentioned sectors, and to be appointed by the President for a term of three (3) years.

SEC. 6. Midwives for Skilled Attendance – Every city and municipality shall endeavor to employ adequate number of midwives or other skilled attendants to achieve a minimum ratio of one for every 150 deliveries per year, to be based on the average annual number of actual deliveries or live births for the past two years.

SEC. 7. Emergency Obstetric Care – Each province and city shall endeavor to ensure the establishment and operation of hospitals with adequate and qualified personnel that provide emergency obstetric care. For every 500,000 population, there shall be at least one (1) hospital for comprehensive emergency obstetric care and four (4) hospitals for basic emergency obstetric care.

SEC. 8. Maternal Death Review – All Local Government Units (LGUs), national and local government hospitals, and other public health units shall conduct maternal death review in accordance with the guidelines to be issued by the DOH in consultation with the POPCOM. 

SEC. 9. Hospital-Based Family Planning –Tubal ligation, vasectomy and other family planning methods requiring hospital services shall be available in all national and local government hospitals, except in specialty hospitals which may render such services on an optional basis. Such services shall be covered by PhilHealth benefits and government funding for financial assistance to indigent patients. 

The cost of tubal ligation, vasectomy and intrauterine device insertion for indigent clients shall be fully subsidized by PhilHealth.

SEC. 10. Contraceptives as Essential Medicines. – Hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other allied reproductive health products and supplies shall be considered under the category of essential medicines and supplies which shall form part of the National Drug Formulary and the same shall be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national and local hospitals and other government health units. 

SEC. 11. Mobile Health Care Service. – Each Congressional District shall be provided with a van to be known as the Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) to deliver health care goods and services to its constituents, more particularly to the poor and needy, as well as disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health: Provided, That reproductive health education shall be conducted by competent and adequately trained persons preferably reproductive health care providers: Provided, further, That the full range of family planning methods, both natural and modern, shall be promoted. 

The acquisition, operation and maintenance of the MHCS shall be funded from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of each Congressional District.

The MHCS shall be adequately equipped with a wide range of reproductive health care materials and information dissemination devices and equipment, the latter including but not limited to, a television set for audio-visual presentation.

SEC. 12. Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health Education. - Recognizing the importance of reproductive health rights in empowering the youth and developing them into responsible adults, Reproductive Health Education in an age-appropriate manner shall be taught by adequately trained teachers starting from Grade 5 up to Fourth Year High School. In order to assure the prior training of teachers on reproductive health, the implementation of Reproductive Health Education shall commence at the start of the school year one year following the effectivity of this Act. The POPCOM, in coordination with the Department of Education, shall formulate the Reproductive Health Education curriculum, which shall be common to both public and private schools and shall include related population and development concepts in addition to the following subjects and standards:

Reproductive health and sexual rights;
Reproductive health care and services;
Attitudes, beliefs and values on sexual development, sexual behavior and sexual health;
Proscription and hazards of abortion and management of post-abortion complications;
Responsible parenthood;
Use and application of natural and modern family planning methods to promote reproductive health, achieve desired family size and prevent unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies; 
Abstinence before marriage;
Prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other STIs/STDs, prostate cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer and other gynecological disorders; 
Responsible sexuality; and
Maternal, peri-natal and post-natal education, care and services

In support of the natural and primary right of parents in the rearing of the youth, the POPCOM shall provide concerned parents with adequate and relevant scientific materials on the age-appropriate topics and manner of teaching reproductive health education to their children.

In the elementary level, reproductive health education shall focus, among others, on values formation.

Non-formal education programs shall likewise include the abovementioned Reproductive Health Education. 

SEC. 13. Additional Duty of Family Planning Office. - Each local Family Planning Office shall furnish for free instructions and information on family planning, responsible parenthood, breastfeeding and infant nutrition family to all applicants for marriage license.

SEC. 14. Certificate of Compliance. – No marriage license shall be issued by the Local Civil Registrar unless the applicants present a Certificate of Compliance issued for free by the local Family Planning Office certifying that they had duly received adequate instructions and information on family planning, responsible parenthood, breastfeeding and infant nutrition. 

SEC. 15. Capability Building of Community-Based Volunteer Workers. – Community-based volunteer workers, like but not limited to, Barangay Health Workers, shall undergo additional and updated training on the delivery of reproductive health care services and shall receive not less than 10% increase in honoraria upon successful completion of training. The increase in honoraria shall be funded from the Gender and Development (GAD) budget of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

SEC. 16. Ideal Family Size. – The State shall assist couples, parents and individuals to achieve their desired family size within the context of responsible parenthood for sustainable development and encourage them to have two children as the ideal family size. Attaining the ideal family size is neither mandatory nor compulsory. No punitive action shall be imposed on parents having more than two children.

SEC. 17. Employers’ Responsibilities. – Employers shall respect the reproductive health rights of all their workers. Women shall not be discriminated against in the matter of hiring, regularization of employment status or selection for retrenchment.

All Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) shall provide for the free delivery by the employer of reasonable quantity of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices to all workers, more particularly women workers. In establishments or enterprises where there are no CBAs or where the employees are unorganized, the employer shall have the same obligation.

SEC. 18. Support of Private and Non-government Health Care Service Providers. - Pursuant to Section 5(b) hereof, private reproductive health care service providers, including but not limited to gynecologists and obstetricians, are encouraged to join their colleagues in non-government organizations in rendering such services free of charge or at reduced professional fee rates to indigent and low income patients.

SEC. 19. Multi-Media Campaign. POPCOM shall initiate and sustain an intensified nationwide multi-media campaign to raise the level of public awareness on the urgent need to protect and promote reproductive health and rights. 

SEC. 20. Reporting Requirements. - Before the end of April of each year, the DOH shall submit an annual report to the President of the Philippines, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on a definitive and comprehensive assessment of the implementation of this Act and shall make the necessary recommendations for executive and legislative action. The report shall be posted in the website of DOH and printed copies shall be made available to all stakeholders. 

SEC. 21. Prohibited Acts. – The following acts are prohibited:
Any health care service provider, whether public or private, who shall:
Knowingly withhold information or impede the dissemination thereof, and/or intentionally provide incorrect information regarding programs and services on reproductive health including the right to informed choice and access to a full range of legal, medically-safe and effective family planning methods;
Refuse to perform voluntary ligation and vasectomy and other legal and medically-safe reproductive health care services on any person of legal age on the ground of lack of spousal consent or authorization. 
Refuse to provide reproductive health care services to an abused minor, whose abused condition is certified by the proper official or personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or to duly DSWD-certified abused pregnant minor on whose case no parental consent is necessary. 
Fail to provide, either deliberately or through gross or inexcusable negligence, reproductive health care services as mandated under this Act, the Local Government Code of 1991, the Labor Code, and Presidential Decree 79, as amended; and 
Refuse to extend reproductive health care services and information on account of the patient’s civil status, gender or sexual orientation, age, religion, personal circumstances, and nature of work: Provided, That all conscientious objections of health care service providers based on religious grounds shall be respected: Provided, further, That the conscientious objector shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health care service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible: Provided, finally, That the patient is not in an emergency or serious case as defined in RA 8344 penalizing the refusal of hospitals and medical clinics to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency and serious cases.
Any public official who prohibits or restricts personally or through a subordinate the delivery of legal and medically-safe reproductive health care services, including family planning;
Any employer who shall fail to comply with his obligation under Section 17 of this Act or an employer who requires a female applicant or employee, as a condition for employment or continued employment, to involuntarily undergo sterilization, tubal ligation or any other form of contraceptive method; 
Any person who shall falsify a certificate of compliance as required in Section 14 of this Act; and
Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act.

SEC. 22. Penalties. - The proper city or municipal court shall exercise jurisdiction over violations of this Act and the accused who is found guilty shall be sentenced to an imprisonment ranging from one (1) month to six (6) months or a fine ranging from Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court. If the offender is a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president, treasurer, secretary or any responsible officer. An offender who is an alien shall, after service of sentence, be deported immediately without further proceedings by the Bureau of Immigration. An offender who is a public officer or employee shall suffer the accessory penalty of dismissal from the government service. 

Violators of this Act shall be civilly liable to the offended party in such amount at the discretion of the proper court.

SEC. 23. Appropriations. – The amounts appropriated in the current annual General Appropriations Act for reproductive health and family planning under the DOH and POPCOM together with ten percent (10%) of the Gender and Development (GAD) budgets of all government departments, agencies, bureaus, offices and instrumentalities funded in the annual General Appropriations Act in accordance with Republic Act No. 7192 (Women in Development and Nation-building Act) and Executive Order No. 273 (Philippine Plan for Gender Responsive Development 1995-2025) shall be allocated and utilized for the implementation of this Act. Such additional sums as may be necessary for the effective implementation of this Act shall be included in the subsequent years’ General Appropriations Acts. 

SEC. 24. Implementing Rules and Regulations. – Within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Act, the Department of Health, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Commission on Population shall jointly promulgate, after thorough consultation with concerned non-government organizations (NGOs) and known reproductive health advocates, the requisite implementing rules and regulations.

SEC. 25. Separability Clause. – If any part, section or provision of this Act is held invalid or unconstitutional, other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect.

SEC. 26. Repealing Clause. – All other laws, decrees, orders, issuances, rules and regulations contrary to or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

SEC. 27. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of national circulation.