Friday, October 30, 2009


Wow man. You print an negative article about the Philippines, people complain. So you print a positive article, and people STILL complain. Whatever. It seems more than apparent that there is no common agreement about what image we Filipinos should project upon the world.

So if I must be the only one living in some delusional bubble where it's all deliriously happy Filipinos spontaneously dancing in a parking lot in Makati sometime in the late 1970's doing choreography highly inspired by Jesus Christ Superstar set to music highly inspired by the BeeGees, then so be it. It's a world that I'd rather live in. Pffft. Blebo. Che kayong lahat with extra rice.

To paraphrase future Philippine National Artist for Literature, Miss Melanie Marquez, "I'm cutting us some slacks."

The Philippines is alright by me.

Thank you Chuva for the link.

*You are all so.. blurred.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I received this in the email today. I'm printing this as my own way of balancing recent reports on our "hopelessness" and "misery". It's from an Australian national who also happens to be upset about our one dimensional image in international media. I just wonder who the German "journalist" who he mentioned in the article might be...

Viewing The Philippines In A Different Light
by Scott Allford
October 18, 2009

If you live outside of the Philippines and you watch or read the news you may feel very justified in believing that the Philippines is a very dangerous country, savaged by typhoons, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and terrorist attacks. You may also be assured in your belief that it is a poor country with images of children picking through garbage, slums, and corruption scandals broadcast in most international news reports. I am not going to deny that these things are true, however, they are not all that the country contains. Not every person in the Philippines is poor, a terrorist or a victim of terror. In fact other countries around the world suffer from these same problems yet they do not become iconic images of those nations.

The Common View of the Philippines

A few months ago I was at a roof-top birthday party in Makati filled with socialites and expats. Whilst there I was introduced to a German ‘journalist’, and my friend asked him why the Philippines is portrayed in such a negative light in the foreign media. His response was in two parts; Firstly because in his experience he could not sell stories about the Philippines in Germany if they were not about poverty, violence or corruption. Secondly, he said that because there is so much poverty, violence, and corruption, there is nothing else to report on. After saying this, he sipped his glass of red wine and was whisked away into a group of Filipino socialites.

Perhaps the red wine was ‘poor’ in taste, or the fact that that particular roof-top was one of the few in Makati which doesn’t have a swimming pool made him focus on the poverty in the Philippines, or maybe the sounds of merrymaking were ‘violent’ on his ears. I think that it was none of these things. Germany, a developed country, has slums. But if the focus can be moved away from the poverty in the developed countries and put on some islands way out in the Pacific Ocean, then people in developed countries can feel a little bit better.

I remember growing up in Australia, taking garbage out to the dump after cleaning up the garden. I would see Aboriginals picking through the garbage for food. Yet that has never been an iconic image of Australia. I went to ‘water villages’ in Malaysia and Brunei and thought how similar they look to slums in Manila. Yet ‘water villages’ are tourist attractions and the slums here are not. I lived in South Korea a few hundred kilometres away from the DMZ, with jets and helicopters flying overhead all the time it felt like a war zone. In the spring I would have 40 tanks facing in the direction of my apartment. Yet South Korea is generally not viewed or branded as a dangerous country. And South Korea has slums too. Perhaps the time will come when people outside the Philippines will come to realize that the branded image of the Philippines portrayed in the media is only a small piece of the full picture of this country.

A Different View

Since the Philippines was settled by people 30,000 years ago, this country has blossomed into a mix of over 180 indigenous ethnic groups, over half of which also represent unique linguistic groups. This array of cultures, languages and cultural artifacts cannot be matched by most nations of the world. From the Ilocano, Pangasinense, Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bicolano, and Visayans to the Binukid, Moros, Ati, Igorot, and the T’boli, just to name a few. These cultures are rich, strong and proud and in most cases the people that make up these cultures are very friendly and welcoming to outsiders. On a trip to Sagada I was welcomed into a very warm and friendly Kankanaey family. T hey showed us around Sagada and told us stories of Kankanaey cultural practices. They even taught me how to wear a traditional bahag (a hand-loomed loin cloth or G-string).

Neighbouring Sagada is Ifugao, with vast rice terraces that shape the mountains of the region. The oldest rice terraces are 6,000 years old, which is 1,000 years older than the oldest pyramid in Egypt. If put end to end the rice terraces dwarf the Great Wall of China, and the rice terraces were not made by using slave labor like most other ancient wonders of the world.

The Banaue Rice Terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage site. But they are not alone. The Philippines have numerous UNESCO world heritage sites including the Baroque churches of San Agustin Church in Manila, Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur, San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, and Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo. There is also the beautiful and historic town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur. Furthermore, there are the natural UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

Lastly, the Philippines consists of 7,107 beautiful islands. These islands contain remote beaches and amazing rock formations as well as other natural wonders like the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the perfectly conical Mt. Mayon volcano or the stunning Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Palwan. B ut also on these islands is a range of biodiversity not seen in most other places on the planet. In Romblon, Sibuyan Island is known as the Galapagos of Asia as it contains such a diverse range of species which can be found nowhere else on the planet. If you get off these islands and dive into the cool blue-turquoise waters of the Philippines, you may also see some of the richest biodiversity in the world’s seas. The Verde Island Passage has been named as the ‘centre of the centre’ of marine biodiversity in the world. It has over 300 species of corals as well as vast numbers of fish that you will not find anywhere else.

With all that this country has to offer, I am baffled as to why it has been branded in such a negative way by the international media. However, I think that more and more people are starting to discover that there is a different side to the Philippines to the one they have been bombarded with for the past few decades. Those who come to the Philippines to seek out the beauty of this country will not be disappointed. However, first time travelers to the Philippines should beware, just like me and many other foreigners, this amazing country may compel you to stay quite a bit longer than you initially planned.

Scott M. Allford

has lived and worked in Australia and South Korea and has traveled extensively throughout Asia - Mongolia, China, Tibet, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan – fell in love with the Philippines and decided to allocate at least two years to comprehensively cover the country.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to present to you perhaps this year's worst article about the Philippines - both in content and it the way it was written. It's an article that is pointlessly denigrating, badly researched, badly written, and badly classified as the local news in the Honolulu Advertiser. Who the hell is this fart Richard Halloran? Why does he think we are in East Asia? Why won't he name the sources of some of his 'quotes'? And why was he given a damn Pulitzer Prize*? Wha? So please, tell me what you think. Click on the article HERE.

And while you are at it, tell him and the Honolulu Advertiser as well. and @honadv

*And seriously, his Pulitzer doesn't say much. Look up another Pulitzer Prize winner named Walter Duranty (above)...

Monday, October 19, 2009


HEY, Are you in Quezon City and looking for something to do on a Monday night? Check out some world class opera going on at University of the Philippines Diliman.

L'elisir d'Amore
Octboer 19, 2009, 7pm
at the UP SOLAIR (Bonifacio Hall)

Anna Migallos and Ervin Lumauag topbills.

It will be a lovely time. And much more interesting than dropping by the mall after work.
Text 9166349649 Vito


SOFIA Celebrates the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

As one of the lead organizations dedicated to the cause of audiovisual preservation in the country, The Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (SOFIA) has lined-up a series of activities in celebration of the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage on October 27, 2009, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines starting at 9am.

As declared by the UNESCO, October 27 has been designated as the World Day for AV Heritage to raise awareness to the significance of AV documents and to draw attention to the need to safeguard them. With this year's theme “Fading Heritage: We Can Save It” as backdrop, the following activities have been slated:

Seminar workshop on the basic handling and preservation of audiovisual materials. To be conducted by SOFIA officers Makk Junio, Emma Rey and Mary del Pliar, this workshop will cover storage, handling, restoration methods, equipment recommendations and disaster preparedness.

Launching of the SOFIA website. SOFIA goes online with the launch of its official website where visitors can learn more about the organization and its various programs and activities, receive the latest news and updates, as well procedures on how to volunteer and be a member.
Screening of Richard Abelardo's Mutya ng Pasig. To cap off the day's events, and to honor the memory of film preservation stalwart Alexis Tioseco, there will be a screening of Richard Abelardo's classic 1950's film Mutya ng Pasig.

A fee of 500.00 pesos will be charged per participant and is inclusive of a workshop kit, snacks, certificate of participation and membership to SOFIA.

For more details, please contact Vicky Belarmino at 832-1125 loc. 1704 to 1705 or Monchito Nocon at 0920 2836393 or email


Saturday, October 17, 2009


I'm convinced that the internet is becoming the world's new confessional. I received this letter a couple of days ago from a Catolico Cerrado who just had to get some things off her chest.

Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009
Subject: Looking for 20 Filipinos to speak up

Dear Carlos,

I have long been for the passage of the RH bill and would really want to help. Unfortunately, "I ain't got no balls".

My family, especially my in-laws are mostly "Saradong Katoliko" and so are many of my dearest friends. They follow whatever the church dictates. It's very difficult for me. I am also a practicing Catholic and wonder why I so don't agree with the church on this issue. I support the bill but I'm afraid to speak up because I don't want to be condemned or ostracized especially by my friends.

The church has been such a big bully in all this. Although I'm sure you can find 20 people to speak up, I think there are perhaps more people who are just like me, supporting the bill but not openly.

Over the weekend I was with a mixed group of ladies, chatting while preparing food for typhoon victims. The question was asked "So how do you feel about Noynoy supporting the RH bill?'' to a lady whose family was working very hard to convince people to reject the bill but at the same time will be supporting Noynoy. She replied saying that they will be "working" on him to convince him to change his stand.

Many months ago, or was it maybe a year or so ago, (when this issue was all over the news), my parish church was working very hard to get our support for their anti-RH stand. They would pass a paper for us to sign DURING THE MASS--how desperate, I thought. I didn't sign it and I think a lot just passed it on without signing also. We've also recently had speeches from members of the parish talking about the "evils" of the bill, before the mass ended which meant that they had a captive market.

Also about the same time, I got into a discussion about this with a very close friend who was anti-RH bill. After I put forth all my arguments and she was kinda "losing the debate", she told me even then that anyway, this was not going to be passed because the church had already convinced GMA not to sign this. I guess this meant that even if I was right, it didn't matter because they were stronger and worked harder to block it.

In my daughter's school, they are always praying that the bill will not be passed. I, on the other hand, have been praying but for the passage of the bill and for the enlightenment of those working against its passage. My daughter knows how I feel about this bill but I told her to just follow what the school says so she doesn't get into trouble.

I feel for you because you are working so hard for this and I so agree we need this bill. I don't need to give you my reasons because you know more than me the merits and importance of this bill. I have in fact become convinced because of what I've read mostly from you.

Sorry if I seem like a big coward to you. I don't really think I can handle going up against the church. I'm no David against that Goliath.

Well, maybe you should take a poll on just how many there are of us--who are Catholics and support the bill but are afraid to openly go against the church. Maybe there's a way those of us who are not so courageous can show our numbers without identifying ourselves.


From: carlos celdran
Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 18:08:03
Subject: RE: Looking for 20 Filipinos to speak up

Hi there. Thank you so much for emailing me. I am amazed at the responses I have had these past few hours. So much support.

And although there really is no way to help if you hide your identity (Really, there isn't. Either one speaks up or doesnt'. There are no grey areas), I think you have already done quite enough.

Just speaking up with your family at the dinner table and instilling your values to your children and not allowing your kids to get brainwashed is already a courageous act. Not all battles have to be big ones. You are taking little steps. Good for you. It's better than not doing anything at all.

Once again, thanks so much for emailing me. It's really sweet of you. And trust me, although the bullies may have won this battle through unfair methods, people of my ilk are now realizing that we are not alone. The movement has started. And we are active. And we are thinkers. We'll get far. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon. Trust me.

All the best.

I wonder how many Dolores' there are out there. It really made me think. And really made me more determined to keep this discussion going. And how about you? Pipi ka ba O Pepe?

Friday, October 16, 2009


The makers of those great maps/guides that I've been hawking around town are looking for a dedicated hard working Filipino to join their team. Please contact Groovy Map n' Guides of Bangkok for an amazing opportunity to work with really amazing people. I would apply for the job myself if I wasn't so damned busy.

GROOVY MAP N' GUIDES BANGKOK is looking for a dedicated sales person here to take charge of our international sales and distribution, make contacts with international (ASEAN region) customers and generally help build our regional distribution.

They are looking for someone personable, fluent in English, and willing to do some travelling around the region! If you think you are that person, email my friend Niki at the address below and send her your CV. Think about it. Fun! Travel! Bangkok!


The Cultural Center of the Philippines will be hosting an artist-led fundraising event for Ondoy and Pepeng typhoon victims. It will be the whole day of Oct 25, Sunday from 10am till 10pm. Visual artists will be auctioning off a collaborative mural, Rock Ed will be hosting a medicine drive at the front ramp, and stand up comedians will perform in a show called "Comic Relief" at the CCP Main Theater. Classical artists will also perform at the Little theater.

You all better be there. It's a great way to spend a Sunday.



Read some excellent words from Miss Shirin Bhandari on Ana Santos' blog. So glad that she had the strength to speak freely about what's on her mind. She is amazingly articulate about her experiences with Catholicism. I'm looking forward to hearing more testimonies from folks like her.

Seriously, there are modern day Damasos in our society. It's time to start the discussion and continue what Jose Rizal started.

So. Pipi ka ba o Pepe?

Oh, and in support of the RH Bill (which can still be refiled in the next Congress) both Mag:net venues will host "Wombrock" a fund raising campaign organized by the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP):

23 Oct, Fri, 7-10PM
Mag:net Cafe High Street: Noel Cabangon, Johnoy&Kakoi and... Louquy

24 Oct, Sat, 7-10PM-
Mag:net Cafe Katipunan: Cynthia Alexander, Bayang Barrios, Tao Nono Aves.
Tickets (P200, inclusive of 1 drink)

Now available in both venues. Log onto

SUPPORT the RH Bill!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


KAPISANAN, the premier Philippine arts/cultural organization of Toronto, has recently received funding to create a brand new website. They are seeking illustrators to support it's overall vision and art direction. The chosen illustrator will be working under the Creative Director (Christine Mangosing -

We are looking for 3 main illustrations (to represent 3 main sections of the site) which we will be taking pieces of to complete the overall look of the entire website.

The illustrations created will visually represent the KAPISANAN Centre and should evoke the mood/ambience/energy of the Centre and its people through the recommended styles described below to be used as the foundation of the new design for

• Point of reference is Scandinavian folk art, as adapted by illustrator Sanna Annukka ( or images also attached)
• Make use of the simplified forms (icons), repetition and organic flow of elements characteristic of the style, while incorporating elements specific to Philippine culture.

Make use of:
- flora and fauna native to the Philippines (ie. sampaguita, gumamela (hibiscus), anahaw palm leaves, santan, waling-waling, pineapples, papayas, mangoes, etc)
- native food/animals ( ie. roosters, pigs, carabaos, etc)
- stylistic elements found in architecture, furniture and textiles from both indigenous and post-Spanish culture (ie. T'boli tribe (below) t'nalak patterns, embroidery on barongs, geometric tattoo patterns from northern Luzon mountain tribes, Philippine Art Nouveau embroidery and decor from the turn of the century (EXAMPLE: THE Manila Metropolitan Theater (above), etc)
- objects common to the daily life of a Filipino (paypay (fan), banig, fork + spoon, jeepney, tricycle, rice cooker, etc)

BE CREATIVE, make it your own, make it FILIPINO, do your research, have fun!

Illustrations can be hand-drawn/hand-made using media of your choice (as long as it can be digitized and further manipulated -- scanned and vectorized) or digitally re-produced.

Please contact if you are interested in this job.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Ok. So I guess you've all heard the news by now. Barring Congress' sudden refocus of priorities, The Reproductive Health Bill HB5043 will not pass during this Congress. I know. It's both infuriating and bewildering but as you know, this administration has been notorious for not giving the people what they want - nor deserve. Especially infuriating were reports that it was PGMA herself who called up Speaker of the House Nograles to push for the cancellation of the interpollation/discussion/vote on HB5043 in favor of rushing talks of their budget allotments. Money is apparently all that they want to talk about for the next month, then afterwards, it's the filing of candidacies for their re-election and game over. The bill will be archived and we have to re-file and start from frigging scratch after the May 2010 elections. Jeez. I am convinced now more than ever that some government officials hate their own people and perhaps even derive thrills from the thought of malnourished babies and mothers. (Shot of starting point, the Sandiganbayan on Commonwealth Ave.)

But nevertheless, we're not giving up. This is only a minor obstacle. Plan B is in the works. The war isn't over yet. Meanwhile. here are some shots from our march to Congress last Sept. 22. (yours truly joining the march, above).

Pregnant women from the low income sector protesting the government's denial of their rights to reproductive health information and services (above).

Just a few words for y'all.

Reproductive health advocates Jun and Beth leading the march.

Even kids know that this country needs the Reproductive Health Bill passed.

Protesters from various citizen's groups marching from Commonwealth to the gates of the Batasang Pambansa (Philippine Congress). We were almost eight hundred all in all. Then again, I'm not good in gauging numbers. It could have been more.

Arrival at the gates of Congress.

Representative Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan addressing the crowd. She part of the Noynoy-Mar ticket. I'm voting for her.

The super chica wrangler. She didn't break out into a sweat at all during the rally.
Snack break. Protesting can really work up an appetite and there is really nothing more satisfying than the "rally cuisine" of Manila. I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about. Ayala Avenue rallies usually have a better spread, but dirty ice cream is always a mob pleaser.

Shot of some congressman's Jaguar driving through the mob into the gate (above). Gross. Infuriating. Disgusting juxtaposition. Really.

And finally, shots of the Batasang Pambansa's manicured lawns and plush plenary hall. (above)

So when thinking about who to vote for this coming 2010 elections, think of this issue. And if you want to know who were the personalities who rabidly spread lies about HB5043 and worked the hardest to deprive impoverished women of their rights to plan a family and aggravate our population problems, I've enclosed a list for your perusal. Check 'em out. Some of them are really surprising. I've also included their phone numbers. ;o)

Abante, Bienvenido Jr.
6th Manila
Antonino, Rodolfo W.
4th Nueva Ecija
Apostol, Trinidad "Ebbie" G.
2nd Leyte
Bagatsing, Amado S.

5th Manila
Bonoan-David, Ma. Theresa
4th Manila
Chatto, Edgardo M.
1st Bohol
Coscolluela Ma. Carissa O.
Partylist BUHAY
Crisologo, Vincent P.
1st Quezon City
Del Mar, Raul V.
1st Cebu City
Garcia, Albert S.
2nd Bataan
Garcia, Pablo John F.
3rd Cebu
Garcia, Pablo P.
2nd Cebu
Golez, Roilo S.
2nd Parañaque City
Gullas, Eduardo R.
1st Cebu RVMB
Locsin, Teodoro Jr.
1st Makati City
Mandanas , Hermilando I.
2nd Batangas
Mercado, Roger Gaviola
Lone Southern Leyte
Mitra, Abraham Kahlil B.
2nd Palawan
Piamonte, Mariano Jr.
Partylist A Teacher
Rodriguez, Rufus B.
2nd Cagayan De Oro City
Romulo, Roman T.
Lone Pasig City S
Susano, Mary Ann L.
2nd Quezon City N
Tieng, William Irwin C.
Partylist BUHAY N - 606 931-5547
Velarde, Rene M.
Partylist BUHAY
Vinzons-Chato, Liwayway P.
Lone Camarines Norte
Zialcita, Eduardo C.
1st Parañaque

So c'mon. Call 'em up and tell them what's on your mind.

You know you love me.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Some of my quotes were mentioned in an article in Time Magazine once again. And although any mention of my name inside Time Magazine would be a thrill, it's unfortuate that it has to be about such a tragic event in our city's history. Read the article here.

And worse, another typhoon is expected to follow it's heels in a few hours.