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UPCAT—The Movie Links UP Ibalon And UPAA

March 2, 2009

There is a bunch of inspired members common to UP Ibalon Alumni and the UP Alumni Association of Camarines Sur. Inevitably, both organizations teamed up when the latter brought the premiere of UPCAT –the Movie to Naga City on Feb 28, 2009.

UPCAT–the Movie is an independent film that features upstart talents: Felix Roco, Hiyasmin Neri, Director Roman Carlo Olivarez, scriptwriter Alfred Reyes, and producer Joselle Acuña.

According to Director Roman Carlo Olivarez passing the UP College Admissions Tests (UPCAT) has become a common symbol of hope and dreams of the Filipino youth in their quest for intellectual excellence, a commodity that young people appreciate more personally as tough global competition stares then right in the face in the 21st century. This Communication Arts graduate of La Salle says he has no intention of creating a mystique around UPCAT, but its compelling symbolism is so significant and so timely UPCAT deserves to be a movie title. (You can view our video interview with Director Roman Carlo Olivare at our other website www.upibalon.com).

The UP Ibalon Bicol is happy to have supported the premiere of UPCAT—the Movie in Naga City, indirectly cheering up independent film makers and teaching the Filipino youth to dream.

Producer Joselle Acuña, also a UP alumna, promises to be back to Bicol for a sequel to UPCAT. She likes Bicol to be the setting and she likes to feature stories of real-life UP graduates. (You can view our video interview with Joselle at our other website www.upibalon.com).

Many Ibalonians of course have life stories worth telling. (Mighty be prepared to tell your story).


Acknowledgment: All photos in this post courtesy of Director Roman Carlo Olivarez, who had his Nikon digital SLR camera handy all the time.

Go to our other website www.upibalon.com for more photos and videos related to this activity.

UPCAT—The Movie Links UP Ibalon And UPAA

March 2, 2009

There is a bunch of inspired members common to UP Ibalon Alumni and the UP Alumni Association of Camarines Sur. Inevitably, both organizations teamed up when the latter brought the premiere of UPCAT –the Movie to Naga City on Feb 28, 2009.

UPCAT–the Movie is an independent film that features upstart talents: Felix Roco, Hiyasmin Neri, Director Roman Carlo Olivarez, scriptwriter Alfred Reyes, and producer Joselle Acuña.

According to Director Roman Carlo Olivarez passing the UP College Admissions Tests (UPCAT) has become a common symbol of hope and dreams of the Filipino youth in their quest for intellectual excellence, a commodity that young people appreciate more personally as tough global competition stares then right in the face in the 21st century. This Communication Arts graduate of La Salle says he has no intention of creating a mystique around UPCAT, but its compelling symbolism is so significant and so timely UPCAT deserves to be a movie title. (You can view our video interview with Director Roman Carlo Olivare at our other website www.upibalon.com).

The UP Ibalon Bicol is happy to have supported the premiere of UPCAT—the Movie in Naga City, indirectly cheering up independent film makers and teaching the Filipino youth to dream.

Producer Joselle Acuña, also a UP alumna, promises to be back to Bicol for a sequel to UPCAT. She likes Bicol to be the setting and she likes to feature stories of real-life UP graduates. (You can view our video interview with Joselle at our other website www.upibalon.com).

Many Ibalonians of course have life stories worth telling. (Mighty be prepared to tell your story).


Acknowledgment: All photos in this post courtesy of Director Roman Carlo Olivarez, who had his Nikon digital SLR camera handy all the time.

Go to our other website www.upibalon.com for more photos and videos related to this activity.

Assimilation to larger American society: Language and the oft-cited Filipino colonial mentality

February 21, 2009


I have been in Honolulu for almost 8 years now for a graduate program that has taken longer than I expected. It’s probably because I enjoy the sun and beaches of Waikiki or because of a PhD program that normally goes between 7 to 10 years. Anyhow, I am not writing about my gripes of the system – I am actually taking pleasure in it! I write about the perceived “colonial mentality” of Filipinos, especially when it comes to speaking Filipino (or Tagalog, as some would call the language).

I believe that if you’re reading this, you’ve had had an experience with someone (a Filipino or someone whose ethnicity is other than “American”) who wanted to pass him/herself as an American or to hide the strong Filipino accent. In Hawaii, where over 15% of the population is considered of Filipino descent, you would bump a kababayan in every corner of the islands. I am a regular bus rider and I encounter a kababayan as if I am taking a bus ride along EDSA. These encounters, for some us who are far away from “home”, should be considered a good thing. As the famous line goes, a home away from home. I, however, had several unforgettable experiences (that I am sure, you had too) with some of our kababayan. I would try to start a conversation in Filipino, but would be receiving a response in English, as though, the person does not understand Filipino. At first, I dismissed this as something that has to do with Ilokano speakers in Hawaii – if you ask an Ilokano in Hawaii if they are Filipino, some of them would respond that no, they are not Filipino, but Ilokano (the majority of Filipinos in Hawaii are of Ilocano-descent). However, as time went by, this experience happens again and again, even with non-Ilokano speakers. When my son was born, my wife and I decided that we will speak to him exclusively in Filipino. I guess, this was unsettling to others. A lot of times, we would hear comments like, “Why are you talking to him in Filipino, he wouldn’t learn English that way”. We would just respond with a smile, we’ve decided not to argue about it (not because of condescension but more because of our perceived futility in the argument).

In language acquisition studies, we’ve learned that children below the age of twelve can learn two or more languages. Toddlers exposed to two or more languages would take longer to learn speaking. That probably explains why single-language households will have a babbling two-year old, while a multi-language household will wait for a few more months for a toddler to chunk out 3-4-word combination. In addition, we also learn from these studies that an individual who has not learned a language by age twelve, that person would not acquire a language at all.

Anyhow, back to my encounters with Filipinos who refuse to talk in Filipino, it seemed like these kababayans were ashamed of being stared upon and asked whether they are Filipino. As a Filipino, this bothered me. Why couldn’t we have a conversation in Filipino? Why would they try to hide an accent when you could actually hear the three vowels that make up the vowels of central Philippine languages? I told myself that I will not respond in English if I know that I am talking to a Filipino.

As an anthropologist, discussions on colonial mentality came up as an explanation for this apparent distaste for one’s own ethnicity. After all, everything western is thought to be better; that being under colonial rule for more than 300 years is enough to diminish our self-esteem. As Raul Manglapus stated, “No wonder, after three centuries in chains… the tao… should lose the erect and fearless posture of the freeman, and become the bent, misshapen, indolent, vicious, pitiful thing that he is!” For most of us, this explains everything, we have somebody to blame for what shaped our perspectives, but are we doing anything to change this? Do we review our basic education curriculum to make the next generation prouder of their heritage? Do we reflect on our own perspectives whether we are also mired in this colonial mentality thinking?

I have to admit that blaming colonial mentality is the easy way out to justify my kababayans’ behavior. However, I do understand that our perspectives are shaped by our respective experiences. If Filipinos overseas choose to speak English, then, it’s their decision (for whatever reasons, which I think are valid). Language is only one aspect of our culture, and speaking in English (and trying to perfect the twang) would make Filipinos understandable to native English speakers, thus, would facilitate one’s assimilation to a wider American culture.

My assertion above was supported by papers written by my students with Filipino descent. Most of these students don’t speak their parents’ first language. They explain that they were encouraged to learn English instead of Filipino. Most of them however, are now reclaiming their heritage and learning Filipino or Ilocano at the University of Hawaii System.

As an exercise for introducing culture (I teach Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology to supplement my meager PhD fellowship), I asked my students to come up with a paper on food preference. As it turned out, all of these Filipino students eat Filipino dishes in their households. They wrote about dinuguan, balot, dog meat (not in Hawaii but when they went to the Philippines), kare-kare (which is probably of Mexican or Spanish origin because peanut is not native to the Philippines), and of course adobo (I was surprised that there was no mention of sinigang). They also wrote about how they were reared by their parents (in terms of food eating habits), which were easily recognizable as part of Filipino value system. After reading all the papers, I came to a realization that the Filipinos I encounter daily on the bus were not ashamed of being Filipinos, they wanted to fit in into the larger American society. They still practice Filipino values at home; they still instill “good” habits of eating; they still feed their children adobo.

Although there is still a lot of truth on blaming colonial mentality, I believe that it is not the only reason on the apparent degradation of Filipino-ness. As mentioned above, language is only one aspect of culture (though it’s more immediate than other aspects – you don’t usually see a Filipino father or mother cooking at home), and it is the main avenue in assimilating to a larger American society. Yes, we still need to revamp our basic education curriculum, yes, we still need to instill the importance of heritage to the next generation of Filipinos, but we have to stop blaming colonial mentality – that is the easy way out.

Of Savages, History, and Archaeology: Re-Writing the History of Tinambac, Camarines Sur

February 16, 2009


Bikol, as in other parts of the Philippines, rely on Spanish accounts (which we anthropologists call, ethnohistory) for information about our early history and culture. These accounts, usually unpleasant, constitute our only concrete (written) link to the past. Although archaeology provides us with another, more neutral, avenue, almost nothing has been done on Bikol preHispanic dynamics.

I was encouraged to write this short narrative when I read a short description of the history of my birthplace, Tinambac, Camarines Sur. Almost all of the historical information regarding this place is based on Spanish accounts and as an anthropological archaeologist, I feel mortified by the use of the terms savage and civilized, not because the former refers to the people I claim kinship with, but because these terms should not be part of our present-day vocabulary.

While skimming through the description of Tinambac’s history in a website created for Tinambaqueños, I was held off when my eye caught the term “savages” to refer to the Aeta groups that constantly attacked Christian towns in the late 1700s. I know that this term is a product of its time (classical and social evolutionists in the 18th and 19th centuries classified societies in a ladder-like development — savagery, barbarism, and civilization, where the civilized world is, of course, European colonialists). Since all non-Christians were classified as “savages”, they used these categories to justify colonization, thus the term “white man’s burden”, “manifest destiny”, etc. They thought that since they were in the apex of this evolutionary development, it was their responsibility to tow “savages” and “barbarians” to an inevitable progress. Anyhow, these terms has grown out of use — since the early 1900s! Today, the use of savagery and barbarism is ethnocentric and racist.

I used the above narration as a take off point to a probable thriving preHispanic interaction/trade between coastal and interior groups in present-day Tinambac – With Lupi River as the major transport route. I should have done this right after finishing college and contribute to local history-writing. If I did, I would have the right to criticize how my culture’s history was written.

I know that Tinambac had pre-Hispanic interaction/trade with other groups. In one of my treks the trail from Sogod to Union (through a river crossing) in my high school days, I noticed a lot of Chinese ceramic sherds that might date during the Ming (AD 1644-1368) and Yuan (AD 1279-1368) dynasties — blue and white wares (Brgy. Sogod is located near the estuary of Lupi River while the trail to Brgy. Union is on the other bank of the estuary – less populated today). We might even have some Sung dynasty (AD 960-1279) ceramics — celadon — though these might have been traded later. And of course, a lot of earthenware ceramics, which suggests significant population density.

Geologically, Poblacion, including Sogod, was probably formed by Himoragat and Lupi Rivers (though a geologist should correct me if I am wrong). If you look through Google Earth, yes Tinambac has a high-resolution aerial image, probably 2.5-meter resolution, the Poblacion is sort of an island between the two rivers.

Anyhow, Tinambac should be a rich source of preHispanic information for Camarines Sur. Its “discovery” and subsequent occupation (by Europeans) was late (according to the “history” – ca. mid-1700s). The amount of Chinese ceramics on that trail that leads to Union suggests that there was a trading post in the vicinity of Lupi River — and I expect that precontact settlements were scattered along the banks of Lupi River and its headwaters.

Hopefully, I would be able to carry out studies in Tinambac later in my career. I have to admit that I have limited knowledge on the history of Bikol. It’s a shame that I know more about northern Philippines than the place I call home.

UP Ibalon with Physicians for Peace in Naga City

February 7, 2009

The Physicians for Peace gave out free wheelchairs to pre-screened indigents in Naga City. UP Ibalon Bicol was a partner in this project and may act as conduit for future donations by the Physicians for Peace, an international charity organization headed by a Fil-American, Dr. Juan Montero.

This partnership of the UP Ibalon and the Physicians for Peace came as a result of the efforts of Dr. Josephine (Jenny) Robredo-Bundoc, a UP Ibalon alumna and currently a world consultant of the physicians’ group. Jenny is the younger sister of UP Ibalon Bicol president, Butch Robredo and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo.

The wheelchairs were pre-fabricated and the UP Ibalon members had the fun of their life assembling the equipment. The activity was a satisfying spiritual experience for Ibalonians, having been exposed to disabled while having the capability to offer help, however small.

Having grassroot reach in the city’s 27 barangays, the members of the Kapisanan ng Sangguniang Barangay Kagawad (KSBK) Naga City chapter had searched for recipients. Lolit Nantes heads the KSBK as President.

The City Social Welfare Department further screened the recipients.

Watch the video above and share the fun.














RP’s Toughest Outdoor Adventure Race held in Sto. Domingo, Albay

November 25, 2008

Carrera Habagat 2008


Carrera Habagat 2008 Champion Team Mulatto Davao composed of Paulo Dino Ouano, Keith James Argones, Jeffer Jatico, Cherryl Araneta and support crew Marjun Balaite and Charlito Esparar receive their trophy, medals and cash prize of P100,000 during the awarding ceremony at the Black Sands Beach Resort in Sto. Domingo, Albay last November 15, 2008. Also in photo are Event Director Randy Su, Mr. Nico Delos Angeles and Vice-Mayor Edna Banda.

Carrera Habagat Adventure Race organized by Summit Outdoor Equipment and Services, Inc. is widely considered as the Philippine’s toughest outdoor adventure race participated in by the country’s toughest outdoor enthusiasts, most of whom are tri-athletes with international race experiences. The organization is a firm advocate of environmental awareness and protection as well as respect for people and local cultures. Most notable past participants of this race were the Philippine Mt. Everest Team and Team Santorini, the 2001 winners who competed in the 2001 Eco Challenge in New Zealand. For this year’s 8th edition, the race dubbed “Isang Linggo sa Sto. Domingo” was held from November 12-16, 2008 in Sto. Domingo, Albay, a coastal community that faces the Pacific Ocean in the east and Mt. Mayon Volcano in the northwest. It was the first time that this race was held outside the Visayas-Mindanao area and the first time in Luzon and Albay.

A total of eleven teams, 4 from Manila; Cebu (2); Leyte (2); Davao (1); Iligan (1) and Sto Domingo, Albay (1) composed of 4 racers (one of whom must be of the opposite sex) and 2 support crew per team, participated in this extreme adventure 4 day non-stop race that combined trekking, biking, swimming, paddling and rappelling. The 11 teams started out in Sto. Domingo proper and went through 20 Control Points (CP) or destinations in sequence provided only with the coordinates of the CP’s and armed with their multi-disciplinary skills, navigational skills and the right team dynamics. The route took the participants from Sto. Domingo where they got their passports after climbing a palo sebo to Camp 1 Mayon, Centennial Park, Alimsog, Starship Café, Tabaco, San Miguel Island, San Antonio School in Cagraray Island, Maninipot Shoreline, Barangay Misibis, Sula Port, Mt. Cabugcay, Malilipot Port, Bagacay Church, Pili Pier, Namantao Island, Buhatan, Sula Port and finally to the Black Sands Beach Resort in Sto. Domingo. The team’s support crews were only allowed to provide and replenish the team racers’ supplies at 4 designated points.

During the first day of the race, Team Merrel took the early lead at Control Point 7 at 21:07 followed by Blood Red Cebu, Team Mulatto and Team Iligan Pride at CP 6. AFP Power Trekkers and Sto. Domingo were slapped 4 hours penalty for bypassing a control point. Slowly but surely, Team Mulatto took over the lead which they retained until the end finishing the race in barely two days with the team members getting only 17 minutes of sleep. Team Merrel finished second while Team Iligan Pride was third. Two teams out of the 11 were not able to finish while Team Sto. Domingo, a neophyte finished a respectable 8th place.

For their efforts, Team Mulatto Davao proved that they’ve got what it takes and retained their title. They are the first team to emerge as back to back Champions aside from winning P100,000; trophy, medals, certificates, gift packs and the bragging rights of being the best in a grueling race that tests the limits of human endurance. Team Merrel wound up second and won P60,000 among other things while Team Iligan Pride who placed third won P40,000.

Mr. Nico Delos Angeles made the initial overtures to bring the race in Sto. Domingo, Albay which was adopted by the Municipal Government of Sto. Domingo led by Mayor Celso Delos Angeles, Jr. who doubled the prize money and provided the Black Sands Beach resort as the race headquarters. In his message, Mayor Celso Delos Angeles said, “The holding of the yearly ultimate Philippine adventure race and the gathering of outdoor enthusiasts, from the fresh breeds of backpackers to the hardcore mountaineers, in this part of the country is very timely and significant as the Municipal Government under the present dispensation, in coordination with concerned government agencies and other stake holders, is doing its best to put Sto. Domingo, Albay in its rightful place in the global tourism map”.

Mr. Randy Su- Event Director on the other hand admitted during the closing ceremony, “I was apprehensive that the Carrera Habagat will be held outside our comfort zone which is the Visayas Mindanao area. I became more hesitant when I learned that it will be held in a little known town in the Bicol region. But when I saw the place, I knew it was the perfect venue.”

The race participants on the other hand were euphoric and have only kind words for the hosts. “Sa lahat ng editions ng Carrera Habagat, ito ang pinakabongga! May hot shower pa.” Aside from the excellent food, the spacious rooms and luxurious amenities provided, the participants experienced first-hand the breathtaking sceneries of Sto. Domingo and the neighboring towns as well as the first-class hospitality and good nature of the people of Albay.

Bombo Radyo Legazpi conducts Blood letting

November 25, 2008


Bombo Radyo Legazpi conducted its’ 4th yearly bloodletting activity named “ Dugong Bombo, A little pain . . . a life to gain.” at the 3rd floor of the Pacific Mall in Legazpi City last Saturday, November 8, 2008. The daylong activity which netted around 130 qualified donors is part of the 6th Bombo Radyo’s simultaneous bloodletting activity in 24 key cities nationwide in honor of the birthday of Bombo Radyo Philippines’ President/ CEO Dr. Rogelio M. Florete.


The bloodletting which was in partnership with the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) was led by Bombo Radyo Legazpi Station Manager Jun Derla who were joined by practically all his staff which includes popular anchors Nelson Bulalacao, Nilda Barcelo and Mr. Siramity- Joshua Martinez, Jr. who was seen donating blood. Aside from the PNRC, other partners include the Department of Health (DOH), Provincial Health Office, City Health Office and a number of volunteers. Among the sponsors were Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and 1st Colonial Grill of Mr. Bong Aspe who donated packed lunches.

The blood donors include men and officers from the Philippine Army, the Philippine National Police, reservists, Philippine Guardians, Kabalikat Civicom, the Albay Medical Society and the general public who were in queue at the Pacific Mall entrance even before the mall opening. All Dugong Bombo blood donors were given “Dugong Bombo” T-shirts, fluid replacements, snacks and multi-vitamins, courtesy of the national and local sponsors.

Nationwide, the bloodletting activity totaled 5,123 successful blood donors generating 2,323 liters or 11.6 drums of blood. Bombo Radyo Philippines has been cited and awarded several times by the Philippine National Red Cross for their one of a kind blood donation program which exceeded their record last year. Bombo Radyo Philippines pays tribute to the countless donors including those who did not qualify to ensure the nation’s blood supply requirements which are critically needed during calamities and dengue outbreaks and during November and December when blood is usually in short supply.

JCI Legazpi creates waves at the 2008 JCI National Convention

November 25, 2008


The Junior Chamber International (JCI) is a worldwide federation of young leaders and entrepreneurs whose members are more popularly known as the Jaycees. In the recent 2008 Dakak JCI National Convention held in different venues such as Dakak, Zamboanga del Norte and Dipolog City in the south, the JCI Legazpi showed their contemporaries of over 1000 delegates from over 200 chapters around the country that when it comes to achievements, they are in a higher category all their own.

The JCI Legazpi delegation composed of President Charlie Chua, EVP Uriel Maddela, VP Internal Yves Eli Yu, VP External Martin Reynoso, JCI Sec.Gen. Sam Boviles, JCI Senator Joseph Barra, JCI Treasurer Roel Rutuerma and PP JCI Senator Noni Calleja first won the “Early Bird Award”. They have earlier won the “Most Outstanding JCI Chapter” under category 2 or those composed of 46-75 members. They placed 7th in the National JCI PEA ( Philippine Efficiency Awards) wherein points are accumulated by a chapter based on the number and quality of their projects raising their ranking from 9th the previous year. The JCI Lagazpi also garnered the “Best Environmental Award” which netted them the “Best of the Best Award”, a very notable achievement considering the significance of the project with today’s global warming phenomenon.

The prestigious “Best of the Best Award” won by JCI Legazpi was the first Coral Farm in the Bicol region using a modular design that stimulates the growth of corals from 5-10 times its normal growth. Corals are the backbone of the marine ecosystems where fishes breed. Corals are destroyed by a variety of causes among them- pollution, siltation, erosion, chemicals and ship spills, dynamite fishing and their natural predator- the crown of thorns. Without corals, there will be no fishes and all the living things in the food chain will be severely affected.

JCI Martin Reynoso, Project Chairman and inventor of the Self –contained system explained that his invention generates 3-4 volts of electricity that stimulates the growth of corals. Unlike other models that costs around $25,000, his modular design costs around P5,000 and can easily be transported to where it is needed such as oil spill areas. This corals could also be sold to aquarium owners without the need to disturb existing corals.

JCI Martin Reynoso drew his inspiration from the Jaycees creed that says, “Earth’s great treasure lies in human personality”. Fully aware of the effects of global warming and the need to protect the environment, his invention- a Modular design that is efficient, compact, portable and cheap adopted by JCI Legazpi is one great contribution to environmental protection and worthy of the “Best of the Best Award”. Indeed to Martin and JCI Legazpi, “Service to Humanity is the Best Work of Life”.

JCI Legazpi creates waves at the 2008 JCI National Convention

November 25, 2008


The Junior Chamber International (JCI) is a worldwide federation of young leaders and entrepreneurs whose members are more popularly known as the Jaycees. In the recent 2008 Dakak JCI National Convention held in different venues such as Dakak, Zamboanga del Norte and Dipolog City in the south, the JCI Legazpi showed their contemporaries of over 1000 delegates from over 200 chapters around the country that when it comes to achievements, they are in a higher category all their own.

The JCI Legazpi delegation composed of President Charlie Chua, EVP Uriel Maddela, VP Internal Yves Eli Yu, VP External Martin Reynoso, JCI Sec.Gen. Sam Boviles, JCI Senator Joseph Barra, JCI Treasurer Roel Rutuerma and PP JCI Senator Noni Calleja first won the “Early Bird Award”. They have earlier won the “Most Outstanding JCI Chapter” under category 2 or those composed of 46-75 members. They placed 7th in the National JCI PEA ( Philippine Efficiency Awards) wherein points are accumulated by a chapter based on the number and quality of their projects raising their ranking from 9th the previous year. The JCI Lagazpi also garnered the “Best Environmental Award” which netted them the “Best of the Best Award”, a very notable achievement considering the significance of the project with today’s global warming phenomenon.

The prestigious “Best of the Best Award” won by JCI Legazpi was the first Coral Farm in the Bicol region using a modular design that stimulates the growth of corals from 5-10 times its normal growth. Corals are the backbone of the marine ecosystems where fishes breed. Corals are destroyed by a variety of causes among them- pollution, siltation, erosion, chemicals and ship spills, dynamite fishing and their natural predator- the crown of thorns. Without corals, there will be no fishes and all the living things in the food chain will be severely affected.

JCI Martin Reynoso, Project Chairman and inventor of the Self –contained system explained that his invention generates 3-4 volts of electricity that stimulates the growth of corals. Unlike other models that costs around $25,000, his modular design costs around P5,000 and can easily be transported to where it is needed such as oil spill areas. This corals could also be sold to aquarium owners without the need to disturb existing corals.

JCI Martin Reynoso drew his inspiration from the Jaycees creed that says, “Earth’s great treasure lies in human personality”. Fully aware of the effects of global warming and the need to protect the environment, his invention- a Modular design that is efficient, compact, portable and cheap adopted by JCI Legazpi is one great contribution to environmental protection and worthy of the “Best of the Best Award”. Indeed to Martin and JCI Legazpi, “Service to Humanity is the Best Work of Life”.