Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Eunice’s Poetry Book for Sale On-line

My cousin, Eunice Barbara C. Novio, is about to launch a poetry book called Maps of Dreams and Memories. But before that, let me first lead you to a poem of Robert Frost (1874-1963). Sometime in 1923, the renowned American poet and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner wrote Dust of Snow. It was published sometime in 1923 in the Pulitzer Prize-winning volume of poetry called New Hampshire:

Dust of Snow
By: Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Decades later, Bob McKenty, a poet born in 1935 and noted for his mastery of light verse, wrote a parody of said Frost’s masterpiece.  Parody is a humorous satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature such as poem. Here is McKenty’s parody of Frost’s “Dust of Snow”:

Snow on Frost
By: Bob McKenty

A wayward crow
Shook down on him
The dust of snow
From a hemlock limb.

Amused (I recall)
The poet stopped,
Delighted that's all
The black bird dropped.

But sometimes, a poem is written to show full respect by way of imitating another poet’s poem. This is called poetry imitation. The following poem appeared in Atomic Poetry in August 2015 written by my poetess cousin sometime last month:

My Friend, the Shadow
By: Eunice Barbara C. Novio

I have a friend, Mother,
sometimes he sleeps with me,
but oftentimes stays under the bed
even when you sweep underneath
he lays there;
a sleeping shadow.

He has white eyes
and always smiles,
but he makes me happy
because he does not talk or argue.

We just lie down together at night,
dreaming of what lies ahead of us,
when I grow up and how long
he would be a shadow.

A poet by doing response poetry respects the poet s/he imitates because to write it, one must understand and appreciate the piece s/he imitates so, here’s my piece:

Her Friend, the Shadow
By Norman A. Novio

She had a friend, she told her mother,
A strange bedfellow sleeping under her bed,              
And ever-smiling and white-eyed shadow.

A friend who knew by experience
Her loneliness during sleepless nights
Entering into her own story of life.

But without nocturnal sorrows and pain,
She couldn’t accomplish life’s most lovely things:
Write a book, give birth to a child or make a friend.

Between them grew an amazing exchange
Knitting poems together for years,
As the girl grew up her shadow-friend remains!

The poetry book was published just weeks ago by Aquill Relle, an on-line magazine. I am inviting the followers of this blog site to order it on-line and click THIS to start.

Grab a copy now, so I can have my porsyento



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Full of Grace?

It is now official. Senator Grace Poe who appeared in minor roles as child actress in his father’s two movies, “Durugin si Totoy Bato” and Dugo ng Bayan” finally declared yesterday, September 16, at the Bahay ng Alumni at the University of the Philippines Diliman her intention to run for the presidency. It is in the same venue where Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ, the undisputed King of Philippine Movies, also declared his political plans in 2003.

As I have told you before, majority of the people of Occidental Mindoro gave big numbers to FPJ gaining 78,688 votes over his latter-days nemesis in Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who only reaped 34,267 votes compared to Susan Roces’ husband. The question if our votes for FPJ could also be “inherited” by Grace Poe remains a question. Our local Liberal Party members (Read: the Tropang Marangal) should work overtime to let the results of the 2016 elections in the province be “full of Mar” instead of “full of Grace” or whoever.

Governor Mario Gene J. Mendiola himself that is a living proof that empathy - sympathy vote is a big factor in Occidental Mindoro elections when fresh from University of California, he won as congressman in our province’s lone district in 1987 after his politician father, the late Assemblyman Pedro T. Mendiola who served from 1978-1986 and was gunned down while he was delivering his speech at the plaza of San Vicente, Sablayan in April, 1986,- just few months away from election season. Not unlike Senator Grace, he promised then to continue what his father had started.

While Senator Grace Poe’s father died with a "broken-heart" because of the alleged election anomalies which victimized our screen idol-turned-politician and ultimately his victory was snatched from him, Governor Gene’s father died with his brave heart intact.

Deep empathy and sympathy runs unfathomable in the Filipino heart and this is what Grace Poe is capitalizing on. She anchored everything in the memory of her father to get elected. But Senator Poe admitted that her biggest capital is the name of her father. In fact, before her announcement yesterday at UP, there was a showing of emotionally-charged clips of Da King’s movies before she went upstage.

And let us not forget that BS Aquino III himself is a product of empathy-sympathy vote when he announced his candidacy after his mother died of cancer. Let us see if Grace would also get the big numbers that Occidental Mindoro voters gave to his father more than a decade ago.

The realm of empathy-sympathy in politics is indeed so mysterious, at least to me…


(Photo: Philstar)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Of Public Interest Lawyers and the Philippine Mining Conference 2015

We, the anti-mining advocates all over the country today, September 15, 2015, are officially launching what we call “Mining Hell Week” as symbolic protest against the Philippine Mining Conference 2015 which is also starting today spearheaded by the Philippine Chamber of Mines. And to show my sentiment against that Congress, I am telling the world that as long as we have ladies like those I will mentioning later, we are ready to give the mining companies one hell of a legal fight.

Environmental lawyers in the Philippines are rare species and as fragile as the ecosystems and the poor and marginalized people they are protecting. Generally categorized as public interest legal practitioners, instead of serving powerful economic interests, they practice law and stand in behalf of the country’s natural resources. I had a chance listening to their lectures last August 26-28, 2015 at Submarine Garden Beach Resort 1 in Brgy. Sawang, Lobo, Batangas while attending the MIMAROPA Paralegal Training sponsored by Alyansa Tigil Mina or ATM.

Atty. Grizelda “Gerthie” Mayo-Anda is the Executive Director of the Palawan-based Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), an alumnus and professor at UP College of Law. ELAC is an environmental non-government organization committed to helping communities uphold their constitutional right to a healthful and balanced ecology. In elaborating theories of environmental justice, Atty. Gerthie told the training participants from all over MiMaRoPa provinces including Masbate, that environmental justice brings together environmental protection and social justice and this is grounded in Article 2, Section 16 of our constitution where the right to sound environment and as a national policy, to promote sustainable development, with land use and carrying capacity as important concepts, are guaranteed.

Aside from other cases Atty. Gethie are handling all over the land, she is also into challenging the operation of Rio Tuba Mining in Bataraza and Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation in Narra despite that the areas are core zones or restricted zones under RA 7611. Atty. Gerthie believes that the local government officials should be more concerned about protecting the last remaining natural resources and the people than the interests of private investors.

On the other hand, Atty. Mary Grace Ellen “Grace” S. Villanueva dwelt on the topics “Measures and Procedures in Building Up Environmental Cases” and “Citizen’s Remedies in Violations of Mining-relevant Environmental Laws”. Atty. Grace has been working as a lawyer for indigenous peoples, upland rural poor and farming communities and their members, and representing them at judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals so they could defend their rights to life, land and natural resources.  At present, she is the legal coordinator for Legal Resource Center or LRC.

The conference dubbed “Mining Philippines” is a 3-day event starting today until September 17, 2015 at the Solaire Resort and Casino Manila in Manila. This event showcases mining products in Minerals, Metals and Ores industry.

And to counter this event, I “showcased” two brave and dedicated ladies from the ranks of the earth protectors. I paraded people while the mining companies paraded products. It only goes to show that for the environmentally-destructive firms, the latter is more important than the former...



Monday, August 24, 2015

Norma N. Malilay: Teacher-Learner

This respectable woman is getting old now but has touched thousands of lives in her various capacities prominently in the academia, civic and religious organizations. Her parents are Filomeno, the champion speller of his elementary days, and Maria, once a Princess during a Peace Time fiesta.  Born in 1942 right at the heart of Barrio Central, as a child she survived the hardships and ravages of war but later consistently topped her class way down from elementary up to college when the war is over. She struggled to finish her studies selling vegetables, Liwayway and komiks in their barrio and doing errands and household chores for her principal’s family. In case you are not aware of, she was one of the pioneering graduates of the Divine Word College of San Jose and became one of the two first graduates of the school’s College of Education way back in 1964. I was barely two years old then.

While I flunked or received pasang awa grades in my other subjects as a college student, I got the highest grades in my transcript in two subjects under her despite of the fact that she was considered by many as strict instructor. She was my teacher in Rizal and Early Philippine Literature (English 7) way back in ‘79. Though greatly influenced by the writings of historian Renato Constantino, I am more of an admirer of Bonifacio than Rizal and I cannot recall any single detail about Biag ni Lam-Ang, her teaching method specifically her adding of local color and contextualization of the topics in contemporary setting made me so interested in her class than my Math and Science subjects. How she motivates her students is exemplary and genuine. Ma’am Malilay knows what’s an effective motivation is and why it is effective.  Her way of soliciting feedbacks and critics from her students became my first break in expressing my views and opinions on certain socio-political realities which I carried till my short stint as a former broadcast practitioner and today as a trying hard chronicler who modestly notices anything about Mindoro.

Norma Malilay (nee Necia) was great in stimulating curiosity by asking thought-provoking questions. Truth to tell, if a teacher utilizes new or different information from that which students already know, true learning develops. She satisfied our curiosity in the most interesting way and consequently filled the gap between a given and a desired state of knowledge. This is one of the indelible marks of a great mentor his or her students would cherish forever. Ma’am Malilay, aside from being a college instructor, was at the same time the director of Divine’s student affairs office. Many of her students became successful politicians, businessmen, public servants, priests, expatriates, just name it. She transferred to Occidental Mindoro State College, my Alma Mater, in the early 90s and became the Chief Administrative Officer IV until her retirement. She became my son’s part time English instructor in the now padlocked Saint Joseph College Seminary. She molded him to be lover of words and explorer of the beauty of the language. She was active in many mandated religious organizations and one of the Vicariate’s finest lectors. To those who are not Catholics, the term “lector” or “reader” is someone who in a particular liturgy is assigned to read Biblical text other that the Gospel. Even in her religious functions and apostolic works she is beyond compare. That’s why perhaps God is so good to her.

Care to scrutinize the photo shown above for a while. For me, its best caption is this: “To breath is to learn”. May we, your former students, value learning the same way you do even in foreign soil, regardless of our age…

 (Photo; Grabbed without permission from Ma’am Norms’ Facebook wall)

Friday, August 14, 2015


The National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples or NCIP conducts a forum on Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro last August 5-7, 2015. The event is aimed at updating on the status of CADT applications of the 7 sub-tribes of the Mangyans in the whole island of Mindoro, to clarify the the processes being undertaken by the NCIP, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to speed up the issuance of pertinent documents and certifications for the registration and eventual awarding of their CADTs. The event held Juan G. Santos Memorial Gymnasium was sponsored by the Provincial Government of Occidental Mindoro.

NCIP Commissioner Dionesia O. Banua and Ruben S. Bastero, CESO III, director for Region IV serve as the forum’s main reactors. Focusing on the Joint DAR-DENR-LRA-NCIPAdministrative Order No. 1, Series of 2012, it was attended by hundreds of Mangyan leaders and tribal elders including those coming from Oriental Mindoro who are saluted by Mayor Romulo M. Festin and SP Member Roderick Q. Agas representing both Gov. Mario Gene J. Mendiola and Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato. Mario Mulingbayan, the province's Mangyan affairs officer oversee the logistical needs for the event.

The forum highlighted the presentation of the Revised Omnibus Rules on Delineation and Recognition of Ancestral Domains and Lands of 2012 presented by Engr. Sandy P. Padilla, Engineer IV of NCIP IV. It was followed by status of CADT in whole Occidental Mindoro by Noe Raul A. Zoleta. There was also presentation of IP Issues and Concerns coming from the 7 Mangyan leaders from all over the island.

On her opening message, Commissioner Banua, gave special recognition, among others, to the exemplary support of Sablayan LGU under Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano especially in terms in the realization of the IPMR or the IP Mandatory Representation to the local municipal legislative board which was first in the whole island. She challenged all the attending LGUs to do the same. RD Bastero said that since there are glaring differences in the mandates of concerned government agencies like DENR, DAR, LRA and of course NCIP, towards the tittling of the ancestral lands, there is a dire need to discuss major policies regarding such requirements and processes. Indeed, there are jurisdictional and operational issues between and among said agencies that was clarified by the Joint Administrative Order or JAO. The JAO is truly a welcome development for the Mangyans and their mission partners.

The activity also serves as venue for the airing of grievances of the Mangyan leaders and elders concerning the government projects, like the National Greening Program, the PLAs, CBFM, and the likes. Speakers from different agencies made suggestions and promised actions on the matter with the cooperation of the IPs themselves.

During the Responses and Commitment part of the Forum, this lowly blogger  discussed what the LGU is presently doing for the Taobuid and Alangan of Sablayan. Specifically on the local government’s mission of empowering them by taking part in the development and in governance, a room in the mainstream government respecting their culture and rights. Majority of the Municipal LGUs with considerable number of Mangyan population were in attendance.

In their concluding talks, both Banua and Bastero lauded the Municipality of Sablayan for having the establishment of Tribal Barangays in our CADEV-ELA and our advocacy for the Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representation or IPMR which are under the mandate of NCIP. All of the barangays of Sablayan now have their respective IC/ICC representatives through the IPMR.

Day Two dwells with the formulation/validation of IPMR Guidelines for the IP representation at the Provincial Level and the undersigned only served as observers. The forum was facilitated by Mr. Noe Raul A. Zoleta, the NCIP OIC Provincial Officer along with his staffs coming from its offices in Mamburao, San Jose and Sablayan headed by Sablayan Field Officer Mr. Reynaldo F. Tupas, CDO-III and Ms. Ann Stephanie T. Tapales, CAO I at San Jose Field Office, as the gathering's emcee.

We all gathered in San Jose that day looking for a bright future where the Mangyans, Mindoro’s indigenous people maintain control over their ancestral lands and territories. As proximate stewards of our upland ecosystems, their rights must be respected as stipulated in the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act or IPRA law also known as RA 8371.

So, CADT Now!...

(Photo grabbed without permission from Steph T. Tapales’ FB wall)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mga Unang Hakbang sa Pag-iwas Maging Bobotante

Ang unang paraan nang pag-iwas maging bobotante ay ang pagbasa ng buo sa lathalaing ito. Biro lang.

Ang mga opinionated netizen ngayon at maging mga magkukolum na nasa mainstream media, kasama ang mga pambansa at lokal na pulitiko ay abala na pagtatampok sa mga ayaw at gusto nilang maging pangulo, na s’yempre  kanya-kanya sila ng katwiran at punto,- saliwa o tama, epal at gimik, palso at tumpak. Kapag may natisod na link na pabor o paninira sa isang posibleng presidentiable na gusto o ayaw nila, agad nila itong pinu-post. Sa sobra yatang excitement, nakalimutan natin na matagal pa ang ating lalakbayin at may mga bagay tayong dapat unahin upang tayo ay hindi maging bobotante.

Sampung buwan pa bago ang halalan at marami pang mangyayari sa usapin ng mga personalidad na lalahok kaya hindi pa ito panahon ng pilian. At imbes na pag-usapan kung sino, ang dapat na pagtuunan ngayon ay kung ano. Bakit ganito ka-excited ang marami sa atin sa higit na pagtutuon sa personahe/personalidad imbes na sa kaganapan?  Malinaw na sa kaisipang bobotante kasi, ang eleksyon ay isang kontes lamang na ang mas mahalaga ay ang resulta at hindi ang proseso. Isang bagay na hindi seryoso at laro lang sa kanila ang halalan. Masusuri natin ang sagot sa tanong na ito kung mauunawaan natin kung nasaang yugto na tayo ngayon sa mahabang proseso ng daan patungong Malakanyang, figuratively speaking, at isuhay dito ang mga kaisipang taglay ng mga ayaw maging bobotante. Mangyayari lamang ito kung gagawin nating tabula rasa pansamantala ang ating isip sa ating mga naunang biases sa mga napupusuan o mga kinamumuhian nating kakandidato.

Sa panahong ito hanggang sa opisyal na pagbubukas ng pagtanggap ng aplikasyon ng mga kakandidato ay dadaan sa ganitong proseso: Pagbubuklod-buklod at pagpapatatag ng mga partidong pulitikal at koalisyon, opisyal na pag-eendorso, proklamasyon ng kandidatura sa pamamagitan ng sunod-sunod na mga pulong at kumbesyon at iba pa. Sinisimulan nila at/o ipinagpapatuloy ang pamamasyal-masyal nang malimit sa mga malalayong bayan at lalawigan kasabay ng constant media projection na ang layon ay magpa-lobo ng suporta mula sa mga lugar at panig upang matiyak na gaganda ang kanilang mga numero sa mga survey. Kapag medyo plantsado na ang hanay at maganda-ganda ang resulta ng survey, ito ang hahatak sa mga mayayamang negosyante at king maker at patuloy na maghahanap ng potential funder para gasolinahan ang kanilang mga makinarya. Ang bunga ng mga ito ang salalayan ng kanilang pag-urong o pagsulong sa laban.

Bago sumapit ang buwan ng Oktubre onwards, dapat ay may nabuo nang lihim na usapan at kasunduan o compromises kapalit ng suportang kanilang ibibigay. Halimbawa, proteksyon sa negosyo, puwesto sa gabinete, at sa iba’t-ibang opisina ng pamahalaang pambansa, for instance, kapag ito ay nanalong pangulo.

Sa larangan ng halalan, hindi lamang pagboto at pagsuporta sa kandidato ang dapat gawin ng mga botante para hindi maging bobotante. Higit pa rito. Ang matalinong botante ay dapat magsuri ayon at sabay sa antasin at yugto ng panahon ng halalan. Pero papaano tayo magsusuri sa maagang yugtong ito ng eleksyon? Uulitin ko, higit sa pagpapahayag kung sino at bakit ang ating iboboto, mas higit na mahalaga ang ano. Ano ang katangian ng mga taong dumidikit-dikit ngayon sa kandidato? Ano sa palagay nating ang adyenda ng mga ito? Ano ang kanilang political record? Anong dahilan ng kanilang pagiging malapit sa isa’t-isa? Ano ang pagkaka-iba-iba at pagkakapareho ng kanilang mga prinsipyo o idolohiya at pagkatao? Ano ang mga nagawa sa bayan ng mga supporter na pabuntot-buntot sa kanila?  Ano ang mga pananaw nila sa mga maiinit ng isyung bayan? Ang mga sagot sa tanong na iyan ay pipiliin at titimbangin natin. Ang mga positibo at negatibo at sa kalaunan, mas mabibigyan natin ng timbang ang ating magiging pagpili sa pamamagitan ng mga taong nakapaligid o sumusuporta sa kanila at maging ang kanilang tract record kung ang mga ito ay politician din. Lagyan ng grade ang bawat isa sa kanila gamit na batayan ang mga sagot sa mga tanong na ito. Ipagpatuloy ang pagsagot sa mga tanong hanggang sa makapag-file sila ng Certificate of Candidacy sa Oktubre. 

Isa pa. Tayo ay maaaring lumikha ng listahan ng mga panlipunang pagbabago na nais nating mangyari sa bansa at mga adhikaing pambayan na sa tingin natin ay maaring gawin ng isang pangulo. Ilista lahat ng iyong maiisip. Suriin kung alin dito ang mga magkaka-ugnay at i-klaster (pagsama-samahin). Bawat klaster ay lagyan ng suliraning tinutugunan. Halimbawa: Kung sa klaster ang iyong adhikain ay binubuo ng mga sumusunod: Kaligtasan sa pagmimina, pagsugpo sa illegal logging, pagapatupad ng mga maka-kalikasang batas, atbpa. Isulat kung anong suliraning panlipunan ang tinutugunan nito. Sa ating halimbawa, ang suliraning tinutugunan dito ay PAGKAWASAK NG KALIKASAN. Sa lahat ng mga pangalan ng klaster o grupo, isa-isang tingnan kung ito ay UGAT o BUNGA. Ihanay ang mga klaster at pumili ng limang sa palagay ninyo ay mas prayoridad. Ang pinakamalahaga ang lagyan ng bilang na 1, at ang sumunod ay 2, and so forth and so on.

At kapag nakapanood ng mga pampublikong pahayag ng mga kakandidatong pangulo ay tingnan kung sa kanilang mga mensahe ay may sumasagot o tumatalakay sa mga bagay na nasa iyong listahan. Bigyan ng mataas na grado ang kakandidatong babanggit ng mga adhikain mo sa iyong listahan, ayon sa pagkaka-sunod-sunod o malapit-lapit dito at mababang marka naman sa wala man lang binabanggit tungkol sa mga ito. Kagaya ng una, gawin natin ito hanggang sa Oktubre, bago sila mag-file ng CoC. Ito ang isa sa mga gawin nating batayan sa eleksyon.

Kapag hindi natin iniuugnay ang eleksyon sa ating mga mithiin gamit ang talino, bobotante tayo forever. Hindi ako nagbibiro….

(Photo: AFP)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Roxas’ Endorsement Today

Some things in the world of politics will happen whether we want them or not. There’s nothing we can do to stop the gathering at the historic Club Filipino late afternoon today, July 31, 2015, where President Benigno Aquino III will endorse DILG Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II as Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer in the 2016 elections. The endorsement (I would not use “anointment” because for me it connotes religious rite) coincides with the birthday of Mar’s mother, Judy Araneta-Roxas. The event is called “A Gathering of Friends” for it is not legal to hold a Political Convention at this early juncture while COMELEC is yet to issue its calendar of activities to guide election players and the public in general, the schedule and the Do’s and Don’ts for the May 9, 2016 polls.

Even the might and power of the rule of law cannot stop what is about to happen today in San Juan: PNoy endorsing Mar. From the looks of it, both the letters and intent of election laws, specifically Section 13 of RA 9369 that provides for the holding of political conventions 30 days before the filing of CoCs and Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code which provides that, in case of manual elections, such political conventions could be held “within thirty days before the commencement of the campaign periods,” as stressed by election law expert Atty. Romulo Makalintal.

I just do not know if the event tonight would bring excitement to the masses as the televised Mar’s wedding proposal to Koring at Willie Revillame’s program “Wowowee” some years back.

PNoy’s endorsement of Mar apparently cannot be stopped even by The Big One and the shaking of the West Valley Fault. As I have said time and again, I am writing this political opinion from my mere standpoint as a story teller. Though this would not make any difference at all, it is mortal sin for a story-teller to sit back, sigh and just allow the things to happen without telling what you have to tell. Also, a PM discussion with my journalist friend Madonna Virola of Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday on the matter compelled me write this piece. 

Like this blog entry, the endorsement would make no difference if the Liberal Party and the ruling coalition would be divided and the LP would crack into factions (In politics they call it “wings”). What is the use and practical benefit of such action if solid support and massive votes cannot swell from all frontiers? There’s already a looming break-up, according to reports, inside the ruling coalition between those who support Senator Grace Poe and Mar Roxas or maybe, other possible presidential candidates, like for instance, Panfilo Lacson who has been the rehabilitation and recovery czar of PNoy.

I would not be surprised seeing the ruling political leaders of Occidental Mindoro at Club Filipino today. But judging from my previous blog entry about the provincial results of presidential elections from 1992 to 2010, local endorsements in no way affect the outcome of our province-mates' votes in the last 23 years.

It is foolish to measure a live snake as well as to ascertain the impact of BS Aquino III’s endorsement as of yet. This question needs an answer: Who among the "presidentiables" or coalitions would be the true opposition? There are still a lot of things about to happen ahead. Endorsement, I think, is a volatile measuring tool for the success and failure of an electoral campaign of a certain candidate for presidency. Same true with surveys and those who are close to Grace Poe knows that. Remember how the survey leader Manny Villar was in the end toppled by PNoy in 2010? Binay himself only had a low 4 % rating before the 2010 elections but he eventually won over Roxas. Roxas may still pull a surprise win over Binay in their “re-match” come 2016 while Binay, as he said, might unload “a lucky punch”. The only certain thing today is uncertainty with regards to presidential aspirants. Another thing, both Roxas and Binay are unstoppable but it would be the more the merrier for the latter. 

The election fever is on today and the madness is about to start. The circus is about to commence. They are unstoppable…  

(Photo: Hataw Tabloid)

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Occidental Mindoro Presidential Votes from 1992 to 2010

Do you have any idea how Occidental Mindoro voted for the presidential race in the last four elections? I’ll tell you later.

As obvious as animals were created for the consumption of man and use of man, top politicians belonging to Liberal Party, the so-called Dream Team, in Occidental Mindoro has been, yet indirectly, endorsing the candidacy of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. But the question is, “What are the impacts of such endorsements of local political officials for a certain presidential aspirant?” Yes, endorsements are important and there’s nothing wrong about it no doubt, but how about its impact?

First, I am a more of a storyteller than a political analyst, just to clear myself. Only backed up by my 3 decades of inaccurately following political occurrences in Occidental Mindoro made me conclude that endorsements have an impact on elections but not the way we think it is. I am into opinion that endorsements in general does not change people’s mind when they already passed the limbo of un-decision. Tellingly, there’s nothing wrong with endorsement but it depends on who they are endorsing. The timing also counts, needless to say. One’s capacity or ability to win, still, is the biggest trick in the political game.

But after the filing of candidacy and the campaign trail is already half way, people will disregard endorsements and vote for the presidential candidate they like for whatever reasons they have. For example, if you intend and already fully convinced to vote Grace Poe for President, you're not going to vote for Mar Roxas because of, say, Governor Mario Gene J. Mendiola's endorsement. But endorsements are only indicators for voters as to whether or not they could be comfortable with their chosen candidate but it can never be a driving point in any electoral contest. At the end of the day, the endorsers’ own campaign will be prioritized and given more weight and importance. To emphasize my point, allow me to share to you Occidental Mindoro’s presidential election results from 1992 to 2010 directly from the records of the Philippine Congress. 

In 1992, Jose T. Villarosa endorsed Ramon V. Mitra, his relative, but the people of Occidental Mindoro opted for Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco who garnered 23,893 votes while Mitra only got 19,897 votes. It was Fidel V. Ramos, who later, together with Villarosa became Josephine Ramirez-Sato’s wedding sponsor, gained the presidential seat. In 1998, when the rivalry of Villarosa and Sato already came into fruition, for instance, Joseph Estrada won via landslide both at the provincial and national level despite of the fact most of our local leaders endorsed and campaigned for Jose De Venecia. The same thing happened in the controversial 2004 elections when local political patrons endorsed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but the people of Occidental Mindoro voted for Fernando Poe, Jr. The former gained 34,267 votes compared to 78,688 for the latter. In 2010, the Villarosas led by then Deputy Speaker Amelita C. Villarosa endorsed Gilbert C. Teodoro receiving only 13,700 votes but our province-mates voted for Joseph “Erap” E. Estrada who got the biggest vote in our province’s history that we ever gave to presidential candidate which was pegged at 83,222 votes. As we all know the 2010 presidential race was won by President BS Aquino III and the people of Occidental Mindoro just contributed 50,468 votes for Kris’ elder brother. Please take note that every time Erap, the self-proclaimed man of the masses like Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, contested for presidency, we always make sure Erap was on top of our list. We have provided big numbers for Erap in two occasions, in 1998 and 2010, respectively. In 2010, despite of the fact that before the election he underwent an impeachment trial due to charges of graft practices, bribery, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution, the now Manila mayor gained the top post in our certificates of canvass. It was the same predicament Jejomar Binay is facing today. Lest we forget, Occidental Mindoro electorates placed Binay on top in the vice-presidential election getting 81,059 votes while Roxas only got 48,107 votes. Now tell me, have we achieved political maturity after 23 long years? 

If endorsement impact remains at the backseat of a political wagon, why local politicians are still doing this? But before we answer that, let me bring you to the 3 major things to consider in one’s individual campaign: volunteers, voters and financial campaign contributors. Endorsements, compared to animal kingdom, are just preys to attract the predator (read: money and volunteers) and hope the majority of the voters will follow. These three things need to be considered over and above one’s political platform and/or party affiliation, including strategies and mechanisms. One thing is certain: endorsements as such manifest the existence of a deadly animal called Patronage Politics. True enough, the Patron-Client relationship does not only exist between the politician and the voter but between a local candidate and a national candidate as well. Whatever would be its impacts.

Thomas Love Peacock once said: “Nothing can be more obvious than that all animals were created solely and exclusively for the use of man.” If politics is also made for the use of man, it is safe to determine that political endorsement is the animal whose only purpose is to benefit the man as a politician, obviously….

(Photo: Provincial Government of Occidental Mindoro)   

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Making of Sablayan’s Tourism Blue Print

Aimed at boosting further the tourism industry in Sablayan, the municipality’s ecotourism office led by Ms. Sylvia T. Salgado launched the inception workshop last July 15, 2015 at the Sangguniang Bayan Session Hall located at the 2nd Floor of the Sablayan Municipal Building. This also serves as a kick-off activity towards the drafting and formulation of the local government’s Tourism Master Plan. The workshop participants came from practically all over the place from both public and private spheres. The tourism blue print formulation is facilitated by Ms. Chen Reyes-Mencias and her hubby Louie F. Mencias of the Blue Water Consultancy, both staunch advocates and prominent figures in Asia with regards to environmental education and preservation. The firm’s main task is to provide technical assistance to the local government unit in coming up with tourism master plan. Next to agriculture, tourism is lifeblood of this largest municipality in the Philippines.

Ms. Mencias, while presenting the rationale of the project, have made me discover the negative impacts of unplanned tourism like what was exposed in the documentary “Gringo Trails”. Right here in the Mindoro Island, in April last year, Robert Evora in an article in the Manila Standard Today wrote about the enormous shortage of potable water in Puerto Galera. Romeo Roxas, president of the Puerto Galera Business and Tourism Enterprises Association as quoted in the news item disclosed that, “The town has no tourism development plan, no environment management plan and Puerto Galera is fast losing its former grandeur”. Uncontrolled sewage discharge to its coastal waters is the main ecological disturbance threatening said former quiet and serene coastal town of Oriental Mindoro. In Puerto Galera, particularly the White Beach, urban planning and zoning was overlooked. These are classic examples of lack of effective and sustainable tourism plan, aside from hundreds of cultural, social (and moral) dangers posing as hazards brought about by unplanned tourism. This also caused concern to environmental groups due to said tourist destination’s close proximity to a highly sensitive marine biodiversity area like the world acclaimed Verde Island Passage, a strait that separates the islands of Luzon and Mindoro. 

In Lubang town, also in Occidental Mindoro some years back, Blue Water assisted in mapping out the municipality’s tourism plan through resource mapping and resource inventory of its islands. Lubang Island’s tourism industry is gradually claiming prestige as of this time. Many people, me, included, made mistake in thinking that tourism only deals with promotion or promoting tourist destinations or spots in the social media or elsewhere. Tourism isn’t just organizing tourism councils and establishing tourism offices. Tourism is not only event organizing and projecting cultural activities only the elites and the socialites taking the center stage. Tourism must also serve the people in the community and not just the tourists,- both foreign and local, the local government, businessmen and the contractors. How? That should be considered in the blue print. Ms. Mencias’ input was Tourism 101 for me for it’s the first formal lecture I have received about the industry. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of the so-called Butler’s Tourism Life Cycle.

The administration of Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano is in full gear vying for an ecotourism program for “Amazing Sablayan”. It looks forward for sustainable and pro-poor tourism programs which highly consider the plight of the people and their base resources. But to his mind, as relayed in the opening remarks of his executive assistant Bong Marquez in the inception workshop, Sablayan’s best practices in local governance, as magnified in various national awards that made the municipality as a frontline municipality in the country, could also attract tourists aside from its being one of the ecotourism destinations in MiMaRoPa region.

Sablayan in more ways than one (for lack of space I cannot enumerate all here), have demonstrated key features of good governance which include openness, participation, effectiveness, accountability and coherence. These principles must be adhered and/or added to town’s tourism program. The local chief executive also expects that aside from his town’s tourist destinations like national parks Mts. Iglit-Baco and the Apo Reef and the other scenic places, people or tourists from all over would visit Sablayan to study the programs and policies initiated by his administration that again, are too many to mention.

And of course, any visionary leader would not allow his or her tourism program become contributory channel for social, natural and cultural attenuations …


(Photo: Heraldion Manzano)


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Abandoned Chinese Invasion of Mindoro

Even pronounced nation like China passes through turbulent times. In 2012, it experienced a severe shortage of human tetanus vaccinations when many medicine trade companies cease to produce said medicines after seeing that it is no longer profitable. China was alarmed over the spread of tetanus among its citizen. Great nation as it claims to be, today, China is undeniably conducting a creeping incursion in our territorial waters. But did you know that Mindoro could have already been invaded by the Chinese as early as the 13th century? I cannot imagine how life would feel like if it turned that way.

According to Wikipedia, “The first semblance of a political system in Mindoro's experience was provided by China in the 13th century”. The Chinese tried to annex Mindoro but the plan was abandoned when an internal trouble in the Chinese home front ensued. An ancient Chinese explorer named Cheng Ho gained a page in Mindoro history as we have seen. Cheng Ho or Zhen He (1371–1433 or 1435) was a Hui court eunuch and fleet admiral during China's early Ming Dynasty.

In the 13th century, unlike today, there was that strict traditional Chinese isolationist policy. Cheng Ho recalled the armada going to Mindoro and other parts of the archipelago because of this rule. In 1500, it was capital offense to build big ships with the purpose of using it going to foreign soils. Chinese coastal officials in 1525 destroyed all such ships while that time Ferdinand Magellan and other Europeans reached Asian waters. As Portugal, Britain, France and Spain and other European countries dominated global waters, China padlocked her ports and destroyed her gigantic ships.

Contraction, not expansion, was China’s order of the day in the 14th century. Not anymore as the present headlines suggest.

China then was superior compared to other country in the West when it comes to technology, living standards and global influence. But the country became enveloped in a smug self-sufficiency, cultural and economic inwardness, a closed and centralized political system, and an anti-commercial culture. China believes that they do no lack anything in many aspects like that of economy, politics and culture so she closed its door to the rest of the world. It was during the 14th and 15th century. Not anymore as the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea row now suggest.

The recent case filed by Manila against Beijing before the United Nation-backed arbitral tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, according to Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio who is part of the Philippine delegation to the tribunal said that the case, “[It] could take maybe ten years,” and reminded us that, “We should steel ourselves that this will be a long struggle.” But if by chance the Philippines win its case at the tribunal, there is no UN body to enforce the ruling. So, in essence, the decision of the tribunal would not mean much.

Meanwhile, a ship called BRP Sierra Madre, a military outpost cum navy ship is holding its position in the disputed waters. The World War II vintage ship, even if it is already covered with rusts stays as symbol of our sovereignty.

It could be a potent armament too against the Chinese, in case they run short of anti-tetanus vaccines again…


Friday, July 3, 2015

Tarps for Turfs: Its Ecological and Political Hazards

Political season is near and the early birds are displaying, albeit prematurely, their tarpaulins all over. Only last Friday, while on my way home from Sablayan, newly-posted tarpaulins caught my attention. In it is a picture of a certain political figure from San Jose who had been a candidate seeking a slot at the municipal council in more than three elections in the past but never won. When I first saw the tarp, I have mistaken it for an advertisement of Globe/TM for the political (I am sure of this) material likewise carried the red, white and blue theme but instead of “TM” what was printed in the trap is “TL” which suggest his future campaign slogan, an acronym for “Tamang Leader”. “TL” too stands for the beginning letters of the man’s given name and surname. But allow me to refer to him simply here as TL and understand why I like to just keep to myself the reason why.

If my memory serves me right, TL filed his last candidacy as member for the local legislative council of Municipality of San Jose in 2007 under United Nationalist Opposition or UNO. I was informed that TL is a registered voter of Brgy. Central, San Jose. I was told too that our main man is only visible during election season and also connected in an accounting firm in Manila. Other than this information, I have nothing more to say about TL, his true love or whatsoever. I have seen his campaign posters before and he is neatly wearing a coat and tie. But TL is a pariah in the mainstream political landscape in the province. But since I only saw his tarps in SAMARICA Area for I do not have a chance to travel to MAPSSA lately, I have a hunch that TL is vying for a shot for provincial position, either as board member or governor (or maybe as a congressman). Let us forget about TL momentarily but in due time, when the campaign period is on, we may consider listening to him.

Tarpaulins proliferated everywhere in Occidental Mindoro. Political tarpaulins of the incumbent officials are ever visible projecting their good image. But no doubt we are now entering the new era of what I call “Tarp for Turf”. Practically almost everything needed to be printed for public information were in tarp, signage and everything. In every activity, replacing the old cut-outs and curtains, the tarp took centre stage, literally and figuratively, as backdrop for the platform. The political contenders and pretenders, with their promise of good governance and certain advocacies employ tarpaulins. Political tarpaulins are ugly manifestations not only of the politician’s, but the system’s prevailing culture of lack of delicadeza. Tarpaulins, both the business and the thing, grow like mushrooms in the haystack but sadly, finding the true political leader during election time is as torturous, if not as impossible as finding a needle in a haystack!

But going back to tarpaulins per se, tarpaulins are non-biodegradable for they are xenobiotic so they are ecological hazards. According to experts, due to its high plasticity it takes approximately 500 years to degrade. Take note of this fact: Kahit magka-apo na sa tuhod kolehiyalang grumadweyt na cum laude at kalansay na ang patay na mga minsang ginawan ng tarpaulin na isinabit sa punerarya at sa paaralan (kung minsan kahit na gate ng bahay ng cum laude, na may nakasulat pa na “with love from Papa and Mama”), hindi pa rin matutunaw ang tarp at madaragdag sa libong toneladang basurang nalilikha ng buong lalawigan kada buwan! We know that tarpaulin or tarp is a broad sheet of cloth cover made from a water resistant or waterproof material. Original tarpaulins consisted of a cotton based cloth material. Most modern tarps are made from a polyester material coated with latex or PVC, largely due to cost effectiveness and also strength and longevity gains. Sad to say, it seems that political promises would also take 500 years before they are fulfilled.

But not unlike politicians and political issues, tarpaulins can be re-cycled.  In this tarpaulin (read; garbage) oriented and infested country, while both sitting and aspiring politicians  consider themselves as tamang lider, the informed voters considered them as May Tamang Leader. Tamang Leader and May Tamang Leader are contradiction in terms but ordinary voters could not easily differentiate the two…



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Silence of a Church and Mindoro Mining

Instead of issuing statement regarding the recent reinstatement of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of Intex Resources for the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP), the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose (AVSJ) issued a pastoral (?) letter that has little to do with social or public concern but more of an internal administrative matter.

The letter I was told was signed by Bishop Antonio P. Palang, SVD, DD of AVSJ and read in a Mass at the San Jose Cathedral last Sunday, June 14, 2015. It carried something that has very little to do with the Catholic faith and divinity in general but about an Estafa Case filed only last February this year against priests Ruben S. Villanueva and Rodrigo A. Salazar, Jr., SVD. The alleged pastoral stood firm to the conviction of the local Church to pursue said case in civil law instead of her own tribunal system. Both Fathers Villanueva and Salazar in their capacity before as heads of the Social Services Commission (SSC) and the Vicarial Indigenous People’s Coordinating Office (VIPACO), respectively, are staunch anti-mining advocates.

In Oriental Mindoro during a mammoth rally against the Norwegian mining firm last June 12, 2015 conjoining with the 117th Anniversary of Philippine Independence, thousands of participants coming from various religious organizations, priests, nuns and seminarians signified their disgust of said mining project in whole Mindoro island. Though Calapan Bishop Warlito Cajandig was not around, the involvement of his flock has the good prelate’s blessing. Nobody from the AVSJ, priest and laity alike, came to attend the historic gathering. Not even their shadows. All of the formators and seminarians of Saint Augustine Minor Seminary in Calapan joined the mass action, as I have witnessed.

Incidentally, among religious organizations based in Calapan, the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) been the most visible during the June 12, rally. The BCBP Chapter there fully animated the theme, “Be Brave. Be Bold”, anchored from BCBP’s 35th NAC in Pasay only last May 1-2, 2015. This is what I also expect from same organization in Occidental Mindoro to be brave and bold amidst injustice and abuses in our midst. This deafening silence of our local Church made her lost her relevance in this burning call towards protecting Mother Nature and promoting social justice.

Bishop Palang some months back issued an official statement in defense of his priest, Fr. Fernando Suarez, from a memorandum of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or USCC alarming their local dioceses over Suarez’ healing masses in the United States. The prelate fully protected him against the alleged “damaged caused to the reputation” of Fr. Suarez in said statement released last April 20, 2015. But in the recent call to protect the environment against mentioned destructive industry, nothing, as in nada, was heard of from the Church’s officials of the island’s other half.

When Fr. Villanueva and Fr. Salazar are still occupying their previous positions in AVSJ, they had been key persons in staging a rally against Intex. Foremost was the one held in May 2009 in Mamburao which was mandated and participated by Bishop Palang himself. But in May 1, 2012, Intex offered a Mass celebrated by Bishop Palang in commemoration with Philippine Labor Day, the Fiesta Celebration of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Brgy. Pag-Asa (Sablayan) to mark the mining company’s launching of its Livelihood Enhancement through Agro-Forestry (LEAF) Project. Well, I have no qualms about such gesture from my bishop for such is an avowed duty of every priest. Priestly blessings, like sacraments, indeed should be apolitical.

But since Villanueva and Salazar, and other anti-mining clergy,- both diocesan or otherwise, left the vicariate, nothing was heard of about matters pertaining to Intex from the present leadership of my local Church. Its diocesan social action arm closed shop, not unlike her seminary, and never been re-opened since.

On Thursday, June 18, 2015, Pope Francis is about to release his encyclical on care for environment and for creation called Laudato Sii or “Praised Be”. That day, the Vatican will release the first comprehensive Catholic moral statement on creation care and climate change to the faithful around the world. How wonderful and timely it could have been if the Church leaders of my diocese came up with a letter signifying and presenting their stand on Integrity of Creation anchored on deepest defiance against the Mindoro Nickel Project. As I have said earlier, they used the divine authority of the Catholic Church to herald something that concerns not of faith and teachings in general. They wield and use it against individuals (priests, for that matter) and not in contradiction of bigger and systemic foes like mining companies and the prevailing unjust mining policies of the land!

Eduardo Balamiento, a cyberspace friend, correctly stated, "They (the AVSJ officials) should have resolved that conflict with the priests within the Church in silence. But in mining issue, it should be heard." I couldn't agree for more.

But at least, AVSJ’s present “pastoral” direction that my Church is heading is now clear to me after this personal reflection and I am sad. Very sad...

(Photo; CybermovementagainstMindoroNickelProject)


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

SVD Priests’ Long Journey with the Mangyans

Since 1936, the Catholic missionary Society of the Divine Word or SVD been officially in-charge of the ecclesial responsibility for the whole Mindoro island and in 1950’s, the SVDs been active to support the Mangyans in many ways. Jurg Helbling and Volker Schult wrote, “The [SVD] missionaries helped the Mangyans with credit and medical care and they supported them in dealing with settlers, traders and provincial officials as well.” (p.156; “Mangyan Survival Strategies”; 2004; New Day Publishers). This blog entry is my humble tribute to pioneering SVD missionaries who worked utterly with the Mangyans of Mindoro particularly former SVD priest Antoon Postma, the time-tested clerics in Fr. Ewald Dinter, SVD and Fr. Dennis Flynn, SVD, to cite just three. Here’s a rejoinder: This lowly blogger is not an alumnus of a SVD-run school or in any way connected to the congregation. That is for the record.

Well, Postma is known for his various works about the Hanunuo (an ethno-linguistic group of the) Mangyans especially their distinct culture with his all-inclusive documentation. He is no doubt a world- renowned authority on the subject for he lived with them for more than 50 years and he is an anthropologist. On the other hand, Fr. Dinter is best known for his charismata in dialogue and “inculturation”. He is a recipient of Saint Joseph Freinademtz Award, one of the six categories of the SVD Mission Awards bestowed some years ago during the Centennial Celebration of SVDs presence in the Philippines. Fr. Flynn, a Filipino-American, as a little boy, spent the most of his youth in the Philippines, including the war years 1942-45 and later entered an SVD seminary in the US and eventually ordained a priest in October 1961. A year later, he was assigned to the Mindoro missions. Fr. Postma left priesthood in 1989 and Fr. Dinter came to Mindoro in 1966, while Fr. Flynn established Mangyan, Inc., an NGO, in 2003 focusing on modern upland agriculture and all of them are still connected with our brethren in the mountains.

When Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose (AVSJ) was created January 27, 1983, her Mangyan Mission, later known as the Vicarial Indigenous People’s Coordinating Office or VIPACO, together with religious congregations of nuns, holding dear to their mandate, facilitated programs and projects towards gaining equal opportunities and treatment, right to self-determination, protection of indigenous culture and arts, ancestral domain and sustainable human development of said indigenous peoples or IPs. The late Bishop Vicente C. Manuel, SVD, DD, having a degree in Sociology and a big heart for the Mangyans, who described them as the ”poorest of the poor in this forgotten half of the [Mindoro] island”  was into conviction that such ministry need not be confined to band aid solutions and dole outs like scholarships and mercy missions. Bp. Manuel’s SVD brothers struggled with the Mangyans against aggressive activities detrimental to the upland ecosystems. The Mangyans are the proximate stewards of God for our forests and mountains, as what the cleric often reminded us lay faithful.

Bp. Manuel, during his tenure has appointed three SVDs to said diocesan ministry. First was Fr. Wim Leijendekker, SVD, followed by Fr. Ramon “Monet” Bosch, SVD and later, Fr. Rodrigo Salazar, Jr, SVD. Fr. Salazar, a personal friend, believes that that large-scale mining is a threat to the livelihood and environment of the Mangyans. True enough, for all its seven sub-tribes, land is life.

The present Episcopal Vicar for the Indigenous Peoples of AVSJ is Fr. Fernando Suarez, MMMP who was appointed by another SVD prelate, the Most Rev. Antonio P. Palang, SVD, DD,- his bishop protector, to the position sometime in 2014. This was years after Suarez was incardinated to the vicariate. But we are still about to hear Suarez’ and/or his local ordinary’s official position on the recent reinstatement of Mindoro Nickel Project’s (MNP) Environmental Compliance Certificate or ECC by the DENR reportedly upon instruction of President BS Aquino III.

Despite the fact that the SVD missionaries I have mentioned differ in so many ways, in their approaches, programs, strategies and ways of evangelizing towards their mission for the Mangyans, they are true to their prophetic role, to say the least, in bringing The Word to the (Mangyan) world. The Catholic principle of Unity in Diversity is fully animated by and in them.

As I have told you, I am in no way connected with the SVD, though, now it can be told, I once tried to enter SVD’s Christ the King Seminary in 1978. I passed the entrance exam but for “quasi- secular and semi-worldly” reasons, I did not return to enroll (further elaboration is immaterial!).  

Seriously, like them, I work with the Mangyans and a missionary in my own right. We all are, actually..


(Photo: Mangyan Inc.)