Archive for the ‘Bicolanos’ Category

Bicol Vignette: Bambi Ricafrente’s Antero

December 17, 2008

“Though a non-Chinese, Antero grew up in China. He was only about five when he migrated to that country with his stepfather, a Chinese merchant, who brought him along in place of his mother, who had refused to board the boat when it was time to leave. He had been orphaned by his Filipino father soon after his birth in January 1900 in Albay, a Philippine province famed as much for the majestic Mount Mayon as for its dishes done in generous amounts of coconut milk and the hottest of peppers – the siling labuyo.”—Antero (12/17/08, Ricafrente, B)

Many lives go their usual pace until they reach terminus without being written; their unchronicled mundane beauty are regrettably lost forever. Yet, UP Ibalon’s Barbara M. Ricafrente (Bambi) does it differently. For posterity, she shares a crisp and fascinating tale of a guy whose “breath was sweet as the White Rabbit candies.”

Read her. Posted in the blog, her scintillating story cuts across an extraordinary Bicol experience. The deservedly admired work effectively knocks open the door of our soul—as if we’re back home again for a holiday.—mesiamd(12/17/08)

RELATED BlOG: “Antero,” posted by Barbara M. Ricafrente at 12/17/2008

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Bicol reforestation

December 16, 2008

At the rate of 2,000 hectares per year of reforestation being done in the Bicol Region, it will take about 50 years to plant trees on denuded areas. The time it takes doesn’t include the on-going forest loss due to encroachment of humans.

According to Antonio Abaway, the techinical director of forestry management services, there are about 100,000 hectares of bald forest which need replanting of trees. For obvious reasons, this must be done in many areas of the region as soon as possible.

Though the Bicol River Basin Water Management Project (BRBWMP) is at the center of projects to restore foliage in the area, it’s desirable the effort involves the whole community. People need to be responsibly involved in managing their environment. As an example, the flash floods such as the one which destroyed 7 towns and killed some people in Camarines Norte on December 1, 2008 have been attributed to deforestation. (Photo Credits: Danesller; Dachalan)=0=

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30,000 families to be relocated in Bicol train rehab

December 13, 2008

It’s like Rip Van Winkle coming out from sleep. At last, the plan to repair the Philippine National Railways (PNR) from Laguna to Legazpi City is alive again. For the project to push, it will require the relocation of 30,000 families settled on the 15-meter clearance of the train’s path.

The government plan is definite good news to Bicol, but it’s mind-bending why only now will repairs be undertaken. The train plying the southern end of Luzon is different from how it looked decades ago as it meandered in the craggy mountainsides of Quezon Province to the foot of Mount Isarog in Camarines Sur and Mayon in Albay. Huge numbers of people have already crowded the tracks, the 483-kilometer stretch from Manila.

Vital to travel in the Bicol region and the rest of the country, the PNR had been largely neglected. It practically operated in meager maintenance budget even if plans to extend the line, about 135 kilometers from Legazpi to Sorsogon had been on the works.

Wooden planks and metal supports on the transportation line were continual victims of thieves who used them as firewood or sell them as scraps. For many years, almost nobody took action for their upkeep, to the disappointment of Bicolanos. The yearly torrential rains caused infrastructure damage. The government did little to prevent people from building houses along the railway tracks.

This early the concern for the legal rights of the squatters has been raised. Human rights groups are pushing for standard eviction amenities. The enormity of the problem causes some interested investors to back out of the project.

“Jun de la Torre, Community Organization of the Philippines (COPE) assistant regional coordinator said they have strengthened their social preparation efforts in favor of the railway settlers by collaborating with 10-federation strong Bicol Urban Poor Coordinating Council (BUPCC) headed by Lorna Chavez to ensure that the rights of these affected settlers would not be derailed when the PNR rehabilitation project starts in the near future.” Bicol Mail, (12/12/08, Neola, J)

The project is rocked with questionable political deals. P17 billion has been allotted to remove the illegal dwellers on the dangerous tracks. It constitutes a third of the total budget of P52.19—the cost of the much delayed project which was earlier scheduled in 2005 to 2011.

It is uncertain when the money will come or if it is adequate. With the postponements that go with government projects, at this time, the railway rehabilitation remains a dream for Bicolanos. (Photo Credits: Orangedroplet; Alcogoodwin; Alcogoodwin; orangedroplet)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Life on the railway tracks & the fate of Isadora Duncan” Posted on Friday September 12th, 2008

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Matuninong na kinaban sa fiesta navidenya

December 8, 2008


Tuninong na Kinaban”

Ang banggui tuninong,
Gabos mayong guirong
Maski an mga bitu’on, sa azul na langit

An malumoy na huyop-huyop may pagka-moot
Sa katuninongan kan kinaban.

Katuninongan nin panahon
Mensaje nin buhay
Biyaya kan Diyos para sa tao

Ang banggui tuninong,
Gabos mayong guirong
Maski an mga bitu’on sa azul na langit.”
F. de Leon, L. San Pedro
(Bicol trans. by mesiamd)

Maogma an aldaw na Deciembre 8, 2008 ta habang kita naghahalat kan pagkamundag ni Jesus, an fiesta kan Immaculada Concepcion satuyang pigce-celebrar. Mas maogma ining pag-guiromdom kan banal na Ina. Pigtutubudan tang pinag-mundag siya na mayong dungis nin kasalan arog kan aki niyang si Jesus.

Ining tukdong ini kan Simbahan Catoliko lalong may kahulugan. Sa satuyang mga buhay kadakul kitang nano’dan. Padagos an pag-sustento kan satuyang pagtubod maski palibot kita nin pag-duda sagkod mga problema.

Ngonian na fiesta navidenya, nahiling ta an karahayan kan kinaban. Pero apektado na kita kan mga problema digdi sa satuyang rogaring. Apektado na kita nin secularismo. Liberalismo. Relatibismo. Lataw na an pagka-commercial kan satuyang celebrasyones. Padagos an pagkawara kan satuyang mga tradisyones religiosos. Nalilipat na kita kan kaogmahan pag Christmas ang pig-oolayan.

Totoong maribong na ang satuyang kinaban. Yaon diyan an iriwal—an pag-suporta sa aborsiyon, terorismo, an korupsiyon. Uya an pagprotesta laban sa pag-guibo nin Belen. An pagsayuma sa sampulong tugon. Pag-negar kan pag-karol, an paghabo sa Christmas tree sa publiko— Gabos ini, maski kaogmahan kan satuyang mga ka-aki’an, jovenes, sagkod gurang.

Da’e ta manigaran si birheng Maria sagkod si Jesus—sinda ang nakatabang sa pagbilog kan satuyang mga ugali. An satong pagka-tao. An pag-tubod ta komo Christiano nag-taong dalan sa pag-buhay-buhay. Nakatabang sa pag-atubang kan mga sentir, kinakatakutan, pig-dudulagan.

Auotpa man lugod na ngonian na mga aldaw, maparani guiraray kita sa pagkamo’ot ni Jesu Kristo, Maria, sagkod ang satong Kagurangnan. Feliz Navidad habang kita naghahalat kan pag-abot kan satuyang paratubos! (Photo Credits: SymonmReynolds; Keith Maguire; Pianoforte)=0=

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One Stormy Night In August 1995:A UP Ibalon Saga

December 1, 2008

by Mighty Baylon


One very stormy night (there was a typhoon signal) in late August 1995, I was a little annoyed by an insistent phone call. I was busy packing my things for my 12 o’clock midnight SuperFerry trip back home to Mindanao and Cainta was a long way from the North Harbor. I worried that I would find it difficult to get a taxi ride with flash floods being broadcast. That was the reason I wanted to leave early.

The caller was a dear friend. To my surprise he was asking me to postpone my trip and attend a “special meeting” of the resident members. I wondered with irritation what very important topic needs to be discussed in the dead of a stormy night that warrants my presence in the resident organization. And to think I don’t normally show myself for their meetings or drop by in their tambayan.

“Please. The organization needs you”. That began to change my mind. As the founder I normally cannot turn down appeals by my organization.

There was no time to call SuperFerry. Usually their phones are swamped by calls when a ship is about to depart. I thought, “Okey, I will just take the ‘No-show’ charge”.

I didn’t know it then that I was about to embark on a journey of intrigue and struggle.

By the time I showed myself up in the old Drugstore in Balara my pants were soaked up to the knees even though I was using an umbrella and a jacket. I asked my friend, “What’s up?”. No, he won’t give me any details. I began to suspect that it was not a normal meeting. All I heard was “Board of Directors Plus”.

We took a taxi till we came to a small apartment in Balara. There were about 20 people present and I knew the Ibalon BOD consists of only 12 officers. Scanning them I knew I was among the members of the UG group in Ibalon.

The place was jampacked and the meeting began as soon as I arrived. Somebody, not a board member, began, “Aram man kan gabos na an Ibalon, poon sa poon, ay sarong political organization” (Everybody knows that Ibalon, right from the very start, is a political organization). I can scarcely believe my ears. Here it is, the very concept we rejected when we founded the organization. We knew even then that Ibalon cannot be a political or even a semi-political organization if it wants to be a home of the Bicolanos in UP Diliman.

“Dahil political organization man kita dapat magbale kita sa SAMASA” (Since we are a political organization we must join SAMASA). But he was referring to a particular faction of the SAMASA. And most of the BOD members don’t want to join either SAMASA factions so that Ibalon won’t be involved in the messy split of the national-democratic movement going on in the campus.

It now dawned on me why they invited me to this meeting. As the organization’s founder, they were expecting my crucial “imprimatur” to a scheme. They wanted to override all opposition with that (false) mantra of “pol-org”.

I was the first one asked for a reaction. “Where did you get the idea that Ibalon is a political organization?”, I asked them. “We rejected that at the very start and we defined Ibalon to be a varsitarian”.

I continued, “If anyone tried to establish a pol-org in 1974, when ‘white terror’ reigned in the campus and recognition of some organizations has just began, they would certainly ended up in Camp Crame. In fact, ND mass organizations like KM were being converted then into legal organizations”. I added, “Until 1974, residents of dormitories are still being dragged out by military men in the middle of the night and some students are arrested after stepping out of classrooms”.

Looking at their surprised but ashen faces I realized that my comment was the least they expected me to make. I was not out to defeat a scheme I was not privy to; I was only trying to stand for the truth and for the correct version of Ibalon history.

The meeting ended right there and only some lame talk remained. My optimistic side was thinking, “I hope that will be the end of it” but my pessimistic side was also saying, “This is just the beginning. Their political minders won’t take it sitting down”.

I reported the incident to the UP Ibalon Alumni Association Board of Directors, which I headed.

When I took a different ship a few days later, I cannot erase from my mind that queer episode. With chill in my spine I cannot shake the feeling I am being sucked in an intrigue that I feel will impact UP Ibalon and my life.

OLPDA sets Christmas party on December 20, 2008

November 25, 2008

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself
…”
~Norman Wesley Brooks, “Let Every Day Be Christmas,” 1976

OUR LADY OF PENAFRANCIA DEVOTEES ASSOCIATION, INC. (OLPDA)
of the TriState Area
(New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, USA)

Invites You to Join Us at Our

Annual Christmas Party

Our Lady of Victories School
Rev. Walter Swenson Hall
Ege Avenue,
Jersey City, New Jersey

Date: Saturday, December 20, 2008

Time: 6:30 – 11:00 p.m.

******POTLUCK********GAMES********RAFFLES********DANCING******

———–MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!————–

Santa is Coming to Give Gifts to Children!!!

Contact Persons: Carmen Oliver – 908-558-9794
Genevieve del Rosario – 201-435-2840
Boy Cabaero – 201-566-8424

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Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association (OLPDA) election on October 25, 2008

October 17, 2008






Virginia C. Jacobson, chairwoman of the Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association announces the organization’s election of officers slated on October 25, 2008. She invites fellow devotees to attend and participate in the selection of leaders of the organization.

OUR LADY OF PENAFRANCIA DEVOTEES ASSOCIATION
DATE: OCTOBER 25, 2008 (Saturday)
TIME: 2:00 – 5:00 PM
PLACE: Our Lady of Victory Rectory (OLVR) BASEMENT
2217 J. F. KENNEDY BLVD.
JERSEY CITY, NJ 07304
Contact: Virginia C. Jacobson, OLPDA chairwoman
Tel. 732-742-4143

AGENDA

1. OPENING PRAYER
2. SECRETARY’S REPORT
3. TREASURER’S REPORT
4. ELECTION OF NEW OLPDA OFFICERS
5. OTHER BUSINESS

Please note: Food and Drinks will be provided, please do not bring any.

Buried for 21 years in mud, a Virgin’s crown is recovered

September 12, 2008

Lost in the muddy confines of the river where the fluvial parade passes during the annual Penafrancia fiesta in Naga City, Philippines, the crown of Ina was finally recovered during last month’s waterway clean-up.

Shown by Rev. Msgr. Romulo A.Vergara, Rector of Penafrancia Basilica (right photo) is the valuable piece of Marian history—the once-missing bejeweled crown of the miraculous image of Ina, the Virgin of Penafrancia which disappeared when the icon tumbled into the river in the penultimate day of the feast, 21 years ago on September 19, 1997 during a fluvial procession.

Surrounded by myth and folklore, the crown’s disappearance had been blamed for calamities that swept Bicol. The crown was returned to the local church authorities of Nueva Caceres. Source: Bicol Mail (09/12/08) =0=

Peñafrancia Fiesta 2008 in New Jersey

August 12, 2008

With dolled-up faces, young pretty girls in bright-red costumes walk down the streets from their haunts like the ethereal deities visiting Naga City. In one picture, that’s how exciting Penafrancia Fiesta must be. (Photo Credit: JerryLimLee)

Memorable reunions at home, prayers in churches, colorful street parades and food festivals around the city are what the celebration is all about. From Aparri to Jolo, visitors are expected to come in the southern peninsula of Luzon island. They are part of the plethora of sights and sounds that Bicolanos will enjoy during the week-long Penafrancia fiesta.

Honoring the historic ebony Marian icon of Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia, aptly referred to as Ina, the Virgin Mother of God, the Bicolanos worldwide have these glittery days set. The feast culminates in a spectacular river procession which brings the holy image of Ina to the Penafrancia Basilica where a thanksgiving mass is offered the next day. In far New Jersey just like in other places abroad, the officers and members of Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association (OLPDA) and the Bicolandia Association have similar activities too. Everyone is invited!


OUR LADY OF PEÑAFRANCIA DEVOTEES ASSOCIATION (Tri-state), INC. with the cooperation of BICOLANDIA ASSOCIATION OF THE EASTERN SEABOARD invites you to come and celebrate its 19th ANNUAL PEÑAFRANCIA FESTIVITIES on SEPTEMBER 12 to 20, 2008

TRASLACION from Our Lady of Victories Lower Church to Our Lady of Victories Upper Church September 12, 2008 (Friday) – 5:30 PM

NIGHTLY NOVENA MASS AT 7:00 PM September 12 – 19, 2008
EXCEPT ON Sept. 14 (Sunday) – 5:30PM at Our Lady of Victories Upper Church
2217 J.F. Kennedy Blvd. corner Ege Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07304 Rectory tel.: 201-433-4152

GRAND FIESTA CELEBRATION – 1:00 PM September 20, 2008 (Saturday)
(Theme: “Renewing our Faith through Ina”) assembly at the CRRNJ Train Terminal Bldg., Liberty State Park, 1 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305

FLUVIAL PROCESSION – 1:00 PM Back of CRRNJ Train Terminal Bldg., Liberty State Park.

FOLLOWED BY CONCELEBRATED MASS inside CRRNJ Train Terminal Bldg., Liberty State Park. 1 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305

Directions: From NJ TURNPIKE take NJTpke EXIT-14B. After Toll, bear left to Liberty State Park. Straight ahead by-pass the circle. Turn left to Freedom Way. Turn right to Audrey Zapp Drive. Parking Lot at right side. Parking Fee – $5.00 Or ride the “Hudson-Bergen Light Rail” and get off at Liberty State Park Station which is walking distance to the CRRNJ Train Terminal at 1 Audrey Zapp Drive. Please wear Filipiniana or attire with yellow color.

Contacts:
Virgie Jacobson (732)742-4131; Josie Mendoza (973)420-9638; Efren Zagada (973)533-1909; Gidget Revilleza(201)983-1335; Liliana Lacap 201)763-7822; Dina/Boy Cabaero (201)794-0999; Thelma Silerio (908)629-1426; Chi/Tong Pilar(973)893-0624; Linda Arellano(201)240-0872; Fe/Marfo Manibay (908)355-8682; Rudy Alcantara(201)521-1165; Lita/Peng Peña (201)432-2144; Lily Cantuba(201)792-1885; Lily Villegas 609)771-0940; Francia Banzuela(201)432-9893.=0=

A Torture Chamber, A Safe-house For Travelers, A Street Named After A Bishop…Some Of Naga City’s Notable Landmarks

July 27, 2008

Jose V. Barrameda, Jr.’s interesting account on some memorable landmarks in Naga City published in Bicol Mail this week (07/24/08, Barrameda, J.V.Jr.,) includes Penafrancia Avenue, the genteel paved road from Plaza Quince Martires at the city proper to the old Penafrancia Church. Though he didn’t describe much of what is in the stretch of the famed avenue, he gave us a glimpse of the old buildings that dotted the city in the past. Their historical significance proved very enlightening.

The Naga Police Station in Barlin Street served as an infamous torture chamber where brave Bicolano heroes and martyrs met their unjustified deaths during the Spanish time. Barrameda wrote:

During the mass arrests in September 1896, Florencio Lerma (who was also held in the Casino Español); Cornelio Mercado; Don Tomas Prieto, alcalde of Nueva Caceres; and Macatio Valentin were brought to and tortured in the cuartel by Civil Guards under the direction of Captain Francisco Andreu, chief of the Guardia Civil in Ambos Camarines, and Don Ricardo Lacosta, Spanish civil governor of the province. The horrific torture wrenched the first of two legally infirm confessions from the frail pharmacist Prieto which the authorities used as basis for the arrest, torture and prosecution of scores of Filipinos in the province, some of whom were also subsequently forced to sign fabricated confessions under extreme duress.”

The author then clearly described Casa Tribunal along Elias Angeles Street, an edifice of brick and wood where the municipal council (ayuntamiento) similar to that in Spain, transacted government business in Naga in the last quarter of the 1800’s. The building also provided free accommodations to travelers who came to the city. After the Spanish and American occupations, the Casa Tribunal served a different purpose:

“Destroyed by American bombs in World War II… it was eventually rebuilt as a smaller wooden building that became the city police headquarters. After the century-old Spanish cuartel being used by the PC-INP burned down in 1978, the city government constructed a new building at the cuartel site which housed the Naga City Police Department. The former police headquarter building on this site became the Naga City Library until the latter’s transfer to its new, modern building in the City Hall complex.”

On the other hand, the Casa Espanol of Arana Street which was a social and recreational center of people of Spanish descent in Naga and neighboring towns had disturbing incidents when the Katipunan was discovered in Manila:

Civil Governor Ricardo Lacosta ordered to mass arrest all over Camarines starting in September 1896. The Casino Español became one of several holding areas for harsh interrogation and violent torture. Among those taken to the Casino were Antonio Arejola, Camilo Jacob (from the infirmary of the San Francisco Church), Florencio Lerma (who was subsequently transferred to the nearby Cuartel General of the Guardia Civil), Macario Melgarejo, Mariano Ordenanza and Manuel Pastor, and from Daet, Roman Cabesudo, Ponciano Caminar, Diego Liñan, Valentin Lipana, Gregorio Luyon, Adriano Pajarillo, and Pedro Zenarosa. Many arrests were made on mere denunciation by Spaniards in meetings in the Casino.

Two years after, in 1898, enraged Nagueños violently trashed the clubhouse during the bloody uprising led by Elias Angeles and Felix Plazo.”

Today, our young generation of Bicolanos may never know of Casa Real in General Luna Street where as early as 1588, the place, facing Naga River, served as the residence of the alcalde mayor of Nueva Caceres who had jurisdiction over the entire Bicol peninsula and Catanduanes. Unfortunately, like the buildings Barrameda described, the Casa Real had been razed, torn down, and largely forgotten.

Penafrancia Avenue was once called Calle Via Gainza, a famous city street memorializing Francisco Gainza, the illustrious Bishop of Nueva Caceres credited for establishing Colegio de Sta Isabel (Universidad de Sta Isabel) in 1868, the nation’s first normal school for girls. The great bishop also made curriculum improvements for the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary which became then, Bicol region’s top study hub for priests, religious, and lay citizens. As a pope delegate, Gainza was with the Bishop of Manila in opposing the stripping of the religious affiliations of rebel priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora (Goburza) as sought by the Spanish government in Manila.

What was unclear though was why Calle Via Gainza which aptly pays tribute to the bishop’s admirable contributions to Naga City was renamed as Penafrancia Avenue. The reason for the change was unclear.

In our minds, street names like Calle Via Gainza could have been better left alone. In a way, they are sentinels of a period in history gone by. Retaining old street names helps preserve our cultural linkage with the past. In simple practical terms, the postman’s job of delivering letters is made easy when old street names are retained. Unless there’s an imperative to make changes, old names better stay as they are. As invaluable remnants of the old, they make us remember the richness of our past; they make us feel the meaning of history. =0=