A photo gallery set up at the Hall of Remembrance (SGV Building 1)
for Mr. Washington Sycip.
A photo gallery set up at the Hall of Remembrance (SGV Building 1)
for Mr. Washington Sycip.
It pains me to post something like this, and on Mother’s Day yet. But then, what could be a more fitting way to honor one great Filipina mom than to show some love when she needs it most.
Please click here to make a donation.
Here’s full text of her friends’ appeal on the Go Get Funding site:
We are friends of Virgie Sabena, a hardworking and honest 42-year old single mom of 2 children who has been diagnosed with Stage 3-B breast cancer almost 3 years ago. Despite many efforts of funding her own treatment, as well as seeking assistance from the government and private foundations, she is unable to continue into the much needed next round of her treatment. Gigie has even, through her health problems, tries to work to help raise funds for living expenses through housecleaning work and now also working from home for an online business. But she cannot do it all by herself and seeks your kind assistance and support in the form of a donation of any amount to help reach her goal.
In her own words:
I am writing this letter to appeal for your help again regarding my health condition. I am undergoing treatment for breast cancer stage 3-B, a life threatening disease that is causing me so much physical, mental and emotional pain.
My latest medical check-up revealed that I developed further complications which need to be addressed immediately. My oncologist recommended a new round of treatment for brain metastasis.
Being a solo breadwinner with no stable source of income and given the prohibitive cost of this new treatment protocol I must admit that I am very scared. But then I also need to do everything I can to get well and extend my life as I have a family to support and because I believe with God nothing is impossible.
Thus I am compelled to request for financial assistance from persons like you for any amount you can give along with your prayers which will be deeply appreciated.
May God Bless your kindness and generosity.
Virgie “Gigie” Sabena
Note: For complete details and questions you can contact Dr. Jaime Enrique Hilado
Tel No. +632 8320641/ Mobile No. 0917 636 5505 (Philippines)
They had me at “Moon River,” one of my all-time favorite tunes. It was the warm-up music they used for our trial dance session almost three years ago. I remember even singing silently to the tune as I stretched and flexed some muscles that had been rendered inflexible for years. Towards the end when I was humming the part that says “we’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ‘round the bend…” I knew that Carewell, my wellness support group, had made the perfect choice in having LeBran DFX as our dance fitness partners.
Except for one thing. Our coaches do not label themselves as dance instructors or DIs, but “shapers.” Brando Balmedina, LeBran President/Artistic Director, and Val Guico, Business Development Consultant, explained why when they introduced the group to us before we started the trial session.
LeBran aims to fulfill a two-pronged mission: to help its clients keep in shape through dance exercises and at the same time provide sustainable income for young and talented but financially challenged dancers in the Philippines. LeBran supports its teachers or shapers not only through dance skills training, but also through personality development, values formation, financial literacy, and business management. Thus, while dancing to stay in shape, LeBran clients also help ‘shape’ young lives.
In the three years that we’ve struggled to keep up with different beats and dance steps, we’ve had a number of shapers weave in and out of our Wednesday and Saturday sessions at Carewell.
Junior shapers Axl, Jeannie, JunRey, Gerry, Maui, Vince, and senior shapers Belinda, Myrone, and Abby, following company rules, had to pass various LeBran certifications and examinations before they were allowed to teach specific dance routines. Many other shapers are currently in college while some have already earned their college degrees. Without any exception, all of the shapers we’ve met are competent, dedicated, well-mannered, and very professional — clearly shaped out of a special mold. They’re such fun to jive with.
Meet LeBran shapers Abby and Axl.
Abby with some Carewell members and friends from the AIN Society of Singapore who joined a recent dance fitness session.
Happily, Abby Tinio, our mainstay shaper, seems pleased with how we’ve managed to pick up pace from the Latin cha cha, bachata, and samba to the trickier routines of Material Girl, She Bangs, and Waka Waka, among others. Many of us in our senior years actually found our groove with the music of VST and Co. and Gary Valenciano. And although some geriatric hips and knees refuse to cooperate, cooling down to the sensuous tune of Bali Ha’i is a cool idea, nonetheless.
As soon as we get comfortable with a routine, teacher Abby uses a different music—a faster one to suit our heightened energy level! And this, I believe, is the real deal. At a certain stage, we dance not necessarily to try and whittle down our waist sizes to what they were decades ago, but simply to move to the beat and enjoy the moment.
As we loosen up and try to keep up with the moves, we burn calories; but even more important, we have fun. We release endorphins as we join kindred spirits on the dance floor. Minds and bodies relax as stress melts away. The laughter and camaraderie are simply priceless.
Carewell partnering with LeBran is a win-win situation. Even Albert Einstein agrees.
(This article written in September 2016 is in the April 2017 issue of Travel Plus magazine)
National Heroes Day has a special meaning for the people of Legazpi City in Albay. Around this day they relive the story of the three legendary heroes of Bicol, which was once known as Ibalong.
The Ibalong Festival, as conceptualized in 1992 by then Legazpi City Mayor Imelda Roces, was meant to break away from the usual themes of local festivals. Festivals in the Philippines are generally religious in nature, stemming from the centuries-long Spanish Christianization of the archipelago. Others are agriculture-inspired to celebrate bountiful harvests, while others are historical, as a throwback to important events in a town.
The Ibalong Festival was created to revive Ibalong, a 60-stanza epic poem transcribed by a Franciscan friar from tales sung by a bard named Kadunung. The original Spanish text could no longer be found, but portions of it were said to have been copied by Fray Jose Castaño and were later compiled by Wenceslao Retana who included them in the book Archivo del Bibliofilo Filipino in 1895. The untitled and unfinished manuscript got its title Ibalong from the renowned propagandist and essayist Jose Ma. Panganiban.
The legend has it that a long time ago, a brave man named Baltog came upon a rich land called Ibalong. Back then, monsters lived in the dark forests, but Baltog chose to stay and cultivate the fields. The giant wild boar Tandayag saw the fields and destroyed the crops with its long fangs. In retaliation, Baltog patiently looked for the boar and broke its monstrous jawbones, killing it in combat.
Years later, another fearless warrior named Handyong came to Ibalong. Handyong and his men fought several menacing creatures including a three-headed monster and giant flying sharks. The toughest of them all was a she-serpent named Oriol. Endowed with a beautiful voice and the ability to change her appearance, Oriol was a difficult prey. In the end, she was captivated by Handyong’s bravery and chose to help him conquer the other monsters. Thus, peace came to Ibalong.
Under the leadership of Handyong, Ibalong saw a golden era where slaves and masters were treated equally. It was also a period of important inventions of tools used in farming, weaving, and writing.
But then a big flood, strong earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions hit Ibalong. A new monster, named Rabot, who had the power to turn his foes into rocks also appeared. Conquering this beast fell on the hands of Bantong, a friend of Handyong. Knowing that Rabot slept during the day and roamed about at night, he waited until the monster was sound asleep. At the right moment, he killed the beast with his sharp bolo.
With Rabot’s death, Ibalong regained peace and became the prosperous land it is now.
Ibalong Festival goes silver
On its 25th staging this year, the month-long festival culminated in a street parade and dance competition that attracted 11 schools from Albay, Sorsogon, and Camarines Sur. Only six schools, however, competed for the championship in this year’s streetdancing presentations. After regaling the spectators with its interpretation of the epic tale, Tiwi Central School was judged Grand Champion and went home with the cash prize of PhP300,000 plus trophy. Cash prizes were also awarded to the Best Epic Hero, Best in Costume and Props, Best in Dancing, and Best in Music and Sound.
A showdown of heroes: Competition for the best epic character
Bicolandia: The myth versus reality
Reliving a legend that is more mythical than historical may seem incongruous for a bustling capital that brands itself as The City of Fun and Adventure. As the largest city in the Bicol region, Legazpi City blends modernity with old town charm, which is a rarity these days. Swanky malls stand close to each other in the central business district. Several colleges and universities here give the city that exuberant air. One gets that breezy feeling, too, while navigating the long stretch of Legazpi Boulevard with its numerous restos and many other fun places.
Yet, one does not have to go very far from the city to enjoy nature at its best. Those seeking adventure will find its many forms here. Sea, sand, hills, lakes, and caves. Forests and falls, too. And of course, anywhere you are in Albay, the majestic Mount Mayon is an awe-inspiring presence.
In a place and time where technology is both a major pursuit and conveyance, storytelling and folklore may be regarded as dying, if not lost arts. Despite this scenario, the epic story of Ibalong lives on, not only through characters in whimsical costumes and pulse-raising music, but more importantly through the hardy character of a people that have had to face storms, earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions in recent times—and still have managed to be their own heroes. Legazpi City is officially recognized as one of the three most livable cities in the Philippines, where everyone is safe from both natural and man-made calamities.
That is a feat that would have made Baltog, Handyong, and Bantong very proud.
(An edited version of this article is in the March 13th issue of The Philippine Star (Good News section, page B9)
First off, this is not about intelligence work and covert activities done in the interest of US national security.
CIA, Inc. is the Catanduanes International Association, a non-profit organization composed of former or current residents of an island province in the Bicol region, along with their relatives and friends. This umbrella organization encompasses different chapters all over the USA and Canada, each of which undertakes projects that benefit kababayans back home. CIA has adopted for its main project the conduct of medical missions once every three years to render free health services and relief distribution to underprivileged Catandunganons.
The avowed objective to help medically deprived province mates traces its roots to a moving scene many years back on the island. Dr. Virgilia Guerrero was then practicing her profession in a rural area in Catanduanes and among her first patients were a mother and child. After consultation, the mother sheepishly admitted that she had no money to pay for her services. Instead she handed the doctor some eggs and bananas as token payments.
The encounter left such an impression on Dr. Guerrero and her husband, Engr. Jose Guerrero. The memory refused to go away and even went with them when they migrated to the US.
In Chicago where the Guerrero couple settled, Engr. Guerrero dreamed of having one organization that would bring together fellow Catandunganons on a bigger scale than the ones already existing in the ‘80s, and which have already adopted their own programs. The Catanduanes Association of America Illinois Chapter was launched in 1989, a bold first step towards the consolidation that was his end objective.
After years of networking — appealing to and convincing other groups on the merits of going international, which was no mean feat given the hectic pace in the US – Engr. Guerrero saw his dream scenario. CIA, Inc. was formally launched during the first grand reunion of Catandunganons held at Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Illinois, with Engr. Guerrero himself as its first president.
Lydia T. Mendez, CIA Chairman of the Board, recalls that the first medical mission in Catanduanes in 1993 had only eight members. Compared to the more than 200-strong contingent of medical practitioners and volunteers that came this year, it speaks not only of the dynamic growth of the association but also of its unquestionable impact on both the organizers and the beneficiaries of its programs.
The 9th Medical and Humanitarian Outreach Mission held recently in Catanduanes clearly shows that, indeed, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. To raise funds for the project, the charter member organizations put in their share, monetary or otherwise, to purchase the required medical supplies and equipment. An online fundraising campaign started by CIA Treasurer Franklin Enriquez underscored the need for more support in light of the devastation caused by super typhoon Nina on the island.
Much earlier, current CIA President Dr. Oscar Enriquez had been networking with family and friends and traveling all over the US to solicit financial assistance. One important family occasion, the 90th birthday of his mother, doubled as a fundraising event, with guests encouraged to support the mission in lieu of birthday gifts. Dr. Enriquez also parlayed his professional influence into purchasing tons of medicines and necessary supplies at great savings.
Dolly Dalusong, Chair and Overall Coordinator of this year’s medical mission took the same route. She organized and attended numerous social/fundraising events to touch base with fellow Catandunganons and channeled every possible group she is affiliated with – personal, professional, civic, academic, religious – to raise the wherewithal. All for the mission.
In what appears to be a case of good intentions attracting similar interests, CIA learned about the efforts of Global Caring Foundation (GCF), an Arizona-based philanthropic group, to fulfill the needs of underserved populations and healthcare providers from around the world. An earlier plan of the GCF to conduct a mission in another Asian country fell through but opened up an opportunity for a link-up with CIA. After a series of talks between officials from both sides facilitated by Catandunganon nurses Tess Baylon and Wendy Tee, a collaboration was worked out and the foreign delegation grew even bigger with over 30 volunteers from GCF.
Last February 6 to 10, CIA and GCF, along with their local counterparts from the Eastern Bicol Medical Center (EBMC) led by Hospital Chief Dr. Vietrez Abella, ministered to the needs of hundreds of beneficiaries coming from different municipalities. Volunteers assigned in the triage area went to work even before their appointed time as patients from remote towns had to travel as early as 3:00 am to reach the EBMC grounds. Depending on their health needs, the patients were referred to different sections, including dental, ophthalmology/optometry, lab screening, pediatrics, pharmacy, minor surgery, among others.
Just as busy were volunteers assigned to the areas designated for the distribution of clothing, rice, canned goods, toys, school supplies, shoes and slippers, and eyeglasses. Drawing and coloring activities kept the children occupied; that is, if they were not lining up for either ice cream or hot meals. In the Soup Kitchen, they were reminded to practice proper hygiene by washing their hands before eating, and to say thank you after receiving their soup bowls.
Each day started with a mass and ended with a critique meeting. Meals and snacks for the medical team and volunteers were sponsored by kind-hearted supporters from the local government and the private sector. Governor Joseph Cua, ARDCI, Virac Mayor Sammy Leynes, Congressman Cesar Sarmiento, and Mrs. Concepcion Co hosted dinners for the mission participants.
In recognition of the artistry of the Catandunganons, CIA, with the help of local culture advocates organized “Catanduanes Got Talent” on Day 3. Contestants were pitted against each other in a showdown that demonstrated their singing, dancing, and other innate or honed talents, for attractive prizes, of course. The mission was refreshingly not just for the sick and impaired.
During the Governor’s Night Dinner, Vice Governor Shirley Abundo likened the 9th Medical Mission to a “rainbow after the rain,” while Governor Joseph Cua considered it a “celebration of kindness and generosity.” In response, CIA President Oscar Enriquez quoted Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta): “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
In the pediatrics section where this writer pitched in as interpreter for the American doctors who could not understand Filipino or the local dialect, and for the patients who could not speak English, I witnessed this spirit of caring and empathy up close. Jamelah Tucker, a pediatrician from Florida tended to her young, sometimes agitated patients with utmost grace and compassion. She also shared this insight: “We spent so much time learning what we need to know about child care, so sharing our knowledge is not a bother at all. We will be there wherever children need help.”
From what I’ve seen, it wasn’t a one-way street. I stood speechless at the sight of a young girl, about three years old, who came running with outstretched arms in the direction of a teen-aged American volunteer. As they embraced each other tightly, the smiles on their faces told a tacit tale of two sisters from different mothers connected by the spiritual act of giving and receiving – with both of them deeply enriched by the connection made possible by one humanitarian endeavor.
Please click here to view more photos of the 9th CIA medical and humanitarian outreach mission.
I made a quick trip to Laguna on March 8 in line with my determined search for sources of a specific type of woven native bags. When a side trip to Legazpi City and messages to possible sources from different places didn’t yield positive results, I decided to check out Anilag Festival, a week-long harvest festival in Laguna province. I read that one of the towns in the province takes pride in being the essential source of woven products made of pandan, including bags, hats, mats, and various other crafts.
Some factoids about the festival:
The road trip proved to be a wonderful way of discovering that there is more to Laguna than just its famous puto biñan, buco pie, and Pagsanjan Falls.
This year’s trade fair booths unveiled some interesting discoveries.
Bay (pronounced bah-eh) is a town known for its gardens and ornamental plants. Its name was said to come either from the word baybay, a reference to the shore of the lake, or babaylan, a reference to a priestess. The town is situated along the shores of Laguna de Bay.
Biñan is the trading and center of commerce of the South. The name of the place originated from the word “binyagan” (christened), which eventually evolved into Biñan.
Calauan is touted as the Home of the Sweetest Pineapple, which can be tasted and tested during its Pinya Festival. The town got its name from the word kalawang, which means rust.
The town of Cavinti got its name from the old tradition where the groom tries to catch the bride by her legs and the people shout the phrase “kabit sa binti,” later shortened to “Kabinti.”
Liliw is the go-to place for locally made shoes and slippers. The town’s origin was said to have come from a bird chirping “liw, liw, liw.”
Luisiana is a town famous for its tradition of weaving products made of pandan leaves. The town’s name was adopted in honor of the “father of the town,” Don Luis Bernardo and his wife, Doña Ana (Luis y Ana). The high elevation of the town generates a cooler climate than the other neighboring towns, which earned for it the monicker as The Little Baguio of Laguna.
The Embroidery Capital of the Philippines, Lumban, is a town in Laguna where the finest traditional Filipino wear such as barong and Filipiniana ternos are made. The town’s name is believed to have come from the Lumbang tree.
Paete is the Woodcarving Capital of the Philippines. The town got its name from “paet,” which means chisel and continues to practice its old tradition of carving statues, murals, and furniture.
The Sampaguita Capital of the Philippines, San Pedro, is the first city you’ll encounter on your trip to Laguna coming from Manila.
Please click here to view an old post on The Sampaguita Festival.
Victoria is a municipality that offers some of the most exotic yet delicious dishes including goats’ and ducks’ meat, which earned for it the nickname the Duck Raising Capital of the Philippines. The town was named after President Quirino’s daughter, Victoria Quirino. Its Itik Festival is celebrated, along with the town’s founding anniversary, to give honor and to know more about the products that come from itik (duck).
[Most of the information regarding the different towns of Laguna were taken from the biyaheng laguna page at http://www.biyahenglaguna.com/laguna-towns-and-cities/]
A fairly open secret among feng shui practitioners all over the world is the use of the Chinese almanac to ensure smooth progress of important undertakings. Credible masters all over the world use this guide, also known as Tong Shu almanac, to advise people on good or bad days to launch personal or business events. This planning tool goes back thousands of years in history and has been referred to for choosing auspicious dates and to know one’s luck forecast for any given day.
The Chinese system of measuring the passage of time involves the movements of the moon and the seasons of the sun, and as such it entails tedious calculations. Fortunately, for many feng shui followers in the Philippines and other parts of the world, a highly user-friendly version of the almanac has been available for the past decade or so. Credits go to international feng shui master Marites Allen for coming up with annual updates of her feng shui almanac. Ms. Allen has announced that her 2017 Feng Shui Almanac for the Year of the Fire Rooster is now available in all Frigga Charmed Life shops and online at frigga.co.uk and wealthluck.com.
The fully illustrated 2017 almanac has been carefully put together to help users boost their luck potential for a very exciting albeit challenging Year of the Rooster. It contains many practical feng shui tips and valuable information which, altogether, make the almanac an indispensable desktop reference.
Some ways you can benefit by using the 2017 almanac:
Get updated on your monthly destiny forecast based on the Monthly Flying Stars indications. This monthly guide to lucky and unlucky sectors of the home and office will help you decide which areas to enhance or cure to optimize good luck or keep negative energies in check.
Learn to use the 12 Duty Officers method in planning your activities. Choosing the right day for your important activities yields significant benefits. For example, you may choose an “Establish” day to start a business, seek medical treatment, start construction work, and so on. A “Remove” day is good for letting go of something, like unwanted merchandise or ending relationships to remove bad karma. Know the other 10 classifications of Duty Officers to help you choose ideal days for signing contracts, launching new products, engagements or weddings, cutting hair, and many more.
Know if a specific day is ruled by your own animal sign or by your conflict animal sign. Accordingly, activities scheduled on your animal sign day have a good chance at success, while those set on your conflict animal sign days may turn out to be inauspicious.
Be guided by the star colors of different hours. Aside from luck indications for the day, you can more specifically choose lucky hours to schedule your activities. Green stars on a designated hour means good luck, but black stars signify unlucky hours.
Mind your moon phases. The Almanac indicates the waxing or waning cycles of the moon. Waxing is the phase when the moon’s size is increasing from new moon to a full moon. Waning is the phase when it decreases after a full moon and is always illuminated on the left. Activities started during the waxing phase have a higher dose of auspiciousness than when they are planned during the waning phase.
Copies of the 2017 Feng Shui Almanac, along with the 2017 Feng Shui Planner and the horoscope books for the Year of the Fire Rooster – all authored by Ms. Marites Allen – will be available at the 12th Annual Convention for the Year of the Fire Rooster on December 4, 2016 at the Marco Polo Hotel. Aptly titled “Make New Beginnings,” the convention will feature important personal and business forecasts for 2017 and many new luck enhancers to help feng shui aficionados make auspicious beginnings for the Year of the Fire Rooster.
After the convention, you may visit any Frigga Charmed Life shop in Metro Manila and Cebu or call 0920 9509390 / 8188858 / 4420113 to get a copy of the 2017 Feng Shui Almanac, Planner, and horoscope books.