Archive for the ‘UP Ibalon’ Category

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.

The MDs Of UP Ibalon Of Earlier Years

November 15, 2008


In my four years in UP Diliman covering 1974-77, the UP Ibalon produced 19 Doctors of Medicine or an average of nearly five per year. I can only offer two explanations for this. One, the best and brightest of Bicolano students were then in Ibalon. And second, since it was martial law the students were not keen to take up Law (In fact only one of the 110 or so members of the organization in that period took up Law but he happened to become an abogado de campanilla: Atty. Joel Cadiz).

The Charter Batch produced 5 M.D.s. They are:
1. Delen Padilla-de la Paz, our nominee for the Diamonds in the Rough award, who specializes in Community Medicine. She is connected to the Social Medicine Unit of the PGH. She is active in many NGOs and causes and you can sometimes see her on TV as a street parliamentarian. A Manila native, Delen lived in Legazpi City for six years, enabling her to learn Bicol. Her husband Boying is a surgeon at the PGH.
2. Totie Mesia, a now-retired pathologist based in New York City, debilitated by a chronic illness. Currently, he is specializing in Journalism. But you can still easily ask him about health matters. Bako lang an mga gadan an aram niya. Totie is a native of Naga City and it is obvious in his writings that he loves Naga more than New York.
3. Ray Rayel, a cardiologist based in Wisconsin, noted for his rollicky humor and friendly manner. He can easily make his tense patient relax by spinning joke after joke until the BP drops to normal. Ray is the proud son of Polangui, Albay.
4. Eden Lao, our long-lost surgeon who reputedly married the Olivia Hussey of Naga, beating many Atenistas to their dream girl. Eden hailed from Iriga City.
5. Joey Jaucian, who soon left for the US after his studies at UP-PGH. Joey is a native of Ligao City.

Ibalon Batch 75-A produced three doctors. They are:
1. Arnel Malaya, the current Dean of College of Physical Therapy and the Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine at UERM. Kun makulog an kasu-kasuan nindo ay he can straighten it out. Also see him if ever your son or daughter enrols in UERM. Arnel hailed from Iriga City
2. Julius Lecciones, once connected to the company that markets Depo-Provera (because he has many children daw), he is now the Medical Director of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. A TOYM awardee, he is a pediatric oncologist publishing so many papers. A living proof that someone born at the end of the world can rise to the top. Marhay ta natukduan nin Bicol ninda Ray and Totie kaya nakalaog sa Ibalon (ta palibhasa nag-abot sa Molave na an taramon Cebuano ta taga-Pio V. Corpus,Masbate).
3. Nips Valenciano, who practices medicine in the Middle East and going by a linked article it seems he is active in the Filipino community there. Nips is a native of Buhi, Camarines Sur.

Ibalon Batch 75-B produced four doctors:
1. Andy Gimpaya, a former government doctor in Samar, he is now specializing in Computer Programming and Net enterpreneurship. He is our beloved website administrator. Lani Palencia told me that when Andy came back to Naga bako man daa medical practice an binakal ni Andy kundi tennis practice. You can also go to him if you need construction materials or if you need some Web or Net services.
2. Amy Goleta-Dy, a pediatric oncologist based in St. Luke’s, you can also come to her if you need wellness products and you will even be helping indigent cancer patients who are beneficiaries of the products she helps market. Her husband is a surgical oncologist at St. Luke’s. Amy’s hometown is Bula, Camarines Sur.
3. Boy Remo, an internist who practices in Missouri, and who is a frequent visitor to his hometown of Goa (and a townmate of Andy). It seems Caramoan Peninsula is his favorite destination nowadays.
4. Eden Borja-Fernando, our very gracious host and sponsor who is a renowned obstetrician-gynecologist in Naga City. Her base is the Plaza Medica. I was advised that she wants no higher praise than this. A resident successively of Siruma, Tinambac and Canaman, Camarines Sur. She is the one to see kun mangangaki an an agom nindo.

Ibalon Batch 76-A produced a lone doctor in Susan Princesa-Mallonga who is based in Vancouver, Canada but who shuttles and works here now and then so that their family won’t lose their Philippine roots.

Ibalon Batch 76-B produced four doctors:
1. Annelee Badiola-Lojo, an obstetrician-gynecologist connected with Las Pinas Medical Center and a Department Chair. An eternal Ibalon supporter whose Naga house is always open to Ibalonians, she is well-liked by everyone. A frequent visitor to Naga, it seems her recent haunt is New York City. Her husband Rommel, an Ibalon friend, is a surgeon.
2. Abet Guballa, an opthalmologist in Medical City and the Section Chief for Comprehensive Opthalmology in that institution. A sometime Naga visitor we hope he can set up a clinic in his hometown in the near future so that those with eye problems need not go to Manila anymore.
3. Ningning Joson-Villanueva, a practicing pediatric cardiologist at the Davao Doctors Medical Center. Her husband, Dr. Noel Villanueva is my nephrologist. Siyempre may istoryang Bikol pag nasa clinic ninda ako kaya napapanganga su ibang pasyente. She hails from Naga City
4. Pat Litam, a hematologist practicing in Ohio. He is a native of Naga City.
(Puro daw taga-Naga ining apat. Garo nag-orolay.)

The two batches of Ibalon in 1977 produced two doctors:
1. Ed Lim, an allergologist-immunologist based at the PGH and a section chief in that renowned institution.
2. Godo Garcia, a graduate of the UP College of Medicine, he now practices in the US.

Ten of the 19 are members of our e-group.

Additionally, there are two other Ibalonians who are familiar to us who are also doctors and just junior by a few years to them. Dai ko sinda inabutan sa UP but I know the first:
1. Penny Robredo-Bundoc, the Department Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine in PGH. A native of Naga, she is the sister of Butch and Mayor Jesse Robredo, two figures familiar to us. Her husband Pipo is a spine surgeon at the PGH and a TOYM awardee. Penny is also a member of our e-group.
2. Imelda Torres-Reyes, a UP College of Medicine graduate is a practicing pediatric cardiologist in Naga City. She was the first to detect something wrong in Pitoy’s angel.

An masasabi ko puro totoo saka maboboot na tawo an mga doktor ta. Never be afraid to approach them. Iistoryahan pa kamo ki kadakol. Puwede man na online.

They are also Ibalon’s pride.

A Multitude Of Bicolano Student Organizations In UP Diliman: The Present Problem And The Lessons Of The Past

November 14, 2008


From one unified regional organization or varsitarian before, the UP Ibalon, the UP Diliman Bicolano studentry is now divided into a multitude of organizations, all competing for the allegiance and loyalty of the Bicol sector it claims to represent. Most of the organizations are province-based, with one being region-based and another is district-based.

The sole regional organization (in name) but currently whose membership overwhelmingly comes from Sorsogon and Albay is the UP Ibalon. The Camarines Norte students have their UP Saro, Camarines Sur students have their UP Harong, Albay students have their UP Mayon, Sorsogon students have their UP Sorsoguenos, Catanduanes students have their UP Catandungan, Masbate students have their UP Lawod and Rinconada students have their UP Tan-aw.

Not all of these Bicol varsitarians gets recognized by the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) all the time because some at different points in their existence lack the mandatory minimum number of members to be recognized by the OSA. And that is one result of this fractiousness. From the grapevine, it seems it is UP Mayon’s and UP Sorsoguenos turn to have this trouble though it seems UP Tan-aw have not yet managed to have themselves recognized. UP Mayon’s and UP Sorsoguenos’ chance to recruit might be impacted by the preponderance of UP Ibalon members that comes from Albay and Sorsogon.

I heard that UP Ibalon is even affected by an OSA rule that the number of members must exceed the number of elective posts. Formerly all the members of the Applications, Membership and Elections Committees of UP Ibalon are elective, aside from the Board of Directors which has 10 officers (the UP Ibalon has now an Internal and an External Vice-President).

Healthy Bicol varsitarians’ membership normally ranges only between 30 to 40 or thereabout. Surprisingly, it is the UP Catandungan which boasts of the highest number of members. It is an indication of the strength of their recruitment facilitated perhaps by the fact that nearly all of the UP Diliman students that came from Catanduanes were products of the Catanduanes State College Laboratory School.

Many of these varsitarians have their own talent contests involving local high schools which mimics the UP Ibalon’s Padunungan. The contests range from the arts to science. These contests provide a good exposure to the varsitarians to their local high schools and it harvests a lot of goodwill for them aside from positive publicity. This has proved effective in recruiting the talented high school students that get to UP Diliman. So the varsitarians put a lot of stress in this and they usually hold these contests during the semestral break.

These affairs are no longer the low-cost projects of the early years. Much effort and expense is put on maximizing the exposure and in having a good-looking presentation. Gone are the shoddy venues like the old BU Theater.

However, I would say that all of these Bicol organizations do not have the critical mass needed to launch big projects the way UP Ibalon was able to mount the likes of “Kami Minagalang” in the early days. And this is a story worth telling for its lessons.

When I relinquished the presidency of UP Ibalon it has only 44 members. Right in the first semester of the organization several members already graduated because UP Ibalon has an “old” membership since the development of a Bicol organization was impacted by the restrictions of martial law and the demise of UP Paglaom. Moreover, in the first year, it was the tacit policy that no big recruitments will be made in order for the desired nature and orientation of UP Ibalon to be developed and consolidated.

Before even taking over the reins of the organization Min Paje has already posed the question what is needed to mount a big project that earns a tidy amount of money for the organization, for it be spared from the semestral fund-raising. Having been exposed to Vinzons and with me and Nes having studied this future question we were able to lay down the necessary conditions, to wit:

One, it must have a large membership. The strongest non-fraternity organizations that can mount big projects then were UP Panaghi-usa, UP JPIA, UP AIESEC and the Sigma Delta Phi. All boasted memberships of over 100 active members. And what struck me was that the four boasted of members’ parents that are well-heeled. This point was stressed to me by my old Vinzons boss, Ollie Jumao-as, who was then the CONCOMSA (the predecessor of the revived Student Council) chair.

Second, most of the fraternities may have memberships less than 100 but the strong ones have powerful alumni that are loyal. Enough said of this.

The lessons in this need not be told in very graphic terms. But one important footnote for us then, for the sheer lack of alumni, the members’ families assumed critical importance.

The “Kami Minagalang” concerts was set for the summer of 1977. From a meeting of minds of senior leaders, including me who was in Bicol during that time, a massive recruitment took place in the second semester of 1976-77 and the tacit policy was “mayong ilalaglag” (no rejections). That’s where the big batch of 32 came into Ibalon which significantly boosted the membership. Some of the finest members of Ibalon came from this batch and being young they became the future of Ibalon producing three of our presidents.

A lot of members’ families opened their homes to UP Ibalon and this started a trend that never really stopped. From this, members’ parents came to know members of UP Ibalon and vice-versa. I know this also contributed to the latter recruitment of the younger siblings and cousins of the members.

Even Ibalon friends that were once members of UP Paglaom helped.

Suddenly, cars were even available for the project. The opening of doors became easier. And if funds came a little short, some better-off members will open their wallets and I can correlate that they are the same members who are opening their wallets now for our group. Maybe generous people never really change.

Of course the “Kami Minagalang” concert was a big success, even able to ride out the unfortunate death of Bebeth Espeso.

Until the “War of the Roses” came, UP Ibalon enjoyed a high level of membership. A bonus of this is for the second time (the first came in the early days) UP Ibalon had lots of presidents of other organizations within its fold. This has its own advantages. And we know that having many members is one way of forestalling the rise of another Bicol organization, aside from other factors.

I doubt that with the current fractiousness of the Bicolano studentry in UP Diliman if new heights are again possible. This is no disrespect to the Bicol varsitarians who are doing their best to strengthen their organization. But ultimately, numbers and the situation speak.

The History of "Tierra de Ybalon" and UP Ibalon

November 14, 2008


by Mighty Baylon

It was said that even before the Spaniards came, our region was already called Ibalon by its inhabitants. I doubt if we were already a united entity during that time owing to the difficulty of transportation and communication and having no ruler higher than a datu. But somehow due to a common language, albeit with distinct dialectical variations, its people might have some sort of common identity.

Ibalon was explored by the Spaniards in 1569 coming from two directions. One expedition came from Panay and passed by Masbate, Ticao and Burias islands before landing on the southern coast of Bicol and it was said it reached Camilig (Daraga) though some thought that the expedition reached only portions of the current Sorsogon.

Another came from Manila passing by current Laguna de Bay and probably through Mauban, Quezon in search of the famed gold of Mambulao (J. Panganiban today) and Paracale (but which was reported to reached the present Naga City). It was said that most of the inhabitants of the place then were Tagalogs coming from Mauban and trade links were maintained via boats in Lamon Bay.

This aspect can only be understood today if one knows the trade winds and that sailing by boat (paglalayag) is the dominant method of long-distance transportation then owing to the lack of roads. Southern Bicol is definitely known in Panay because the historical fishing season in central Philippines revolved around the Sibuyan and Samar seas where fishermen followed the fish in a counterclockwise cycle.

The expedition that emanated from Manila called the northern part of the peninsula called the place “Tierra de Camarines” due to the abundance of rice camarins. The southern half of the peninsula was called “Tierra de Ibalon”.

Another expedition was launched in 1573 coming from Manila. Entering the current Naga from San Miguel Bay it followed the course of the Bicol River until it reached Lake Bato where they found the village of Libon (or Libong). This expedition later reached the current Legazpi probably through the Albay portion of the Bicol River.

Ecclesiastically, the whole of Bicol was under the diocese of Nueva Caceres which was founded in 1595. But militarily the northern part was ruled from Manila and the southern part was ruled from Panay. The southern part was for a short time called the “Partido de Libon”.

Later the term “Tierra de Ybalon” was used to refer to the whole peninsula. In 1636, the peninsula was divided into two administrative areas. To “Ambos Camarines” the areas under the present towns of Donsol, Camalig, Guinobatan, Jovellar (Quipia), Ligao, Oas, Polangui and Libon was transferred. This was latter called the “Partido de Iraya” . However the areas under the current towns of Lagonoy, Sagnay (but these probably included the whole of the current Partido area) and Caramoan peninsula were included in “Partido de Ibalon”. This is thought to be the area called “Partido de Lagonoy”. This arrangement is only understandable if trade winds and sea patterns are considered and the Bicol River as a transportation artery is recognized.

In 1846 “Partido de Iraya” and “Partido de Lagonoy” were exchanged, paving way for the modern division of Albay and Camarines Sur.

Steve David, a charter member of UP Ibalon, did the research of the term “Ibalon” in behalf of our organization. He was the proponent of the name “Ibalon” for the new organization that will replace UP Paglaom. However, I vetoed his spelling “Ybalon”. Too close for comfort and we will just spend the rest of the time explaining the spelling.

The name was carried and as they say the rest is history.

The Formation and Legacy of UP Ibalon:A Testimony

November 14, 2008


by Mighty Baylon

The first Bicolano organization in UP Diliman after martial law was declared was the Molave Kurahaw which was formed in 1973. It was an informal organization of 23 Bicolanos residing in Molave Residence Hall during the time when student organizations were still banned in UP.

In June 1974, when student organizations were again allowed in UP, the pre-martial law Bicolano organization, the UP Paglaom, which was established in 1962, was revived. It used the former organization’s constitution, structure and admission policy. To become a member one has only to register and pay the membership dues. Membership is good for one semester and elections are held every semester.

The revived UP Paglaom lasted barely a semester. An internal fight connected with UP student elections arose and it led to the forced resignation of all the officers. When it seemed that the organization was about to be hijacked four members questioned the proceedings.

To lead the organization, a Steering Committee of 15, four of which came from an outside organization and the four that questioned was formed. It was to lead the organization through a transition period and the only agendum was to draft a new constitution, after which a new election will be held. With a quorum requirement of 3/4 and all decisions needing a 3/4 absolute majority (12 votes are always needed) the compromise soon reached a deadlock and the semester was fast ending.

Walking away from one of the many meetings that failed to reached a quorum (it was only in the first meeting that there was a quorum), the consensus of the majority was to build a new organization under a new basis. It was the agreement that a new constitution will be drafted during the semester break.

To lead the new process the founders (or revivalists) of the UP Paglaom and the leadership of the Molave Kurahaw (the ‘Molave Kurahaw Core Group’ of 7 members) coalesced. A new Steering Committee of 5 was formed. Two from the first group was nominated (Jake Repomanta and Yoli Reyeg) and another two from the second group was also nominated (Mighty Baylon and Nestor Raneses). A fifth tie-breaking member, Steve David, who belonged to both groups was included.

To monitor the day-to-day situation and to offer a choice menu to the Steering Committee, a Planning Group was formed consisting of the other four members of the Molave Kurahaw Core Group. The four were Floro Balce, Totie Mesia, Ray Rayel and Raul Sabularse.

The Steering Committee and the Planning Group tackled four points:
1. The ‘blueprint’ or the master plan in forming the organization secretly (because of the physical threats) and how it would be sold to the Bicolano studentry.
2. The organization’s model. It was decided that rather than following UP Paglaom’s model of a mass organization of Bicolano students with automatic membership, it will be a much-smaller but compact organization of highly-motivated Bicolano students and that subsequently an application process will be instituted until the majority of interested Bicolano students are under its fold.
3. The preparation of a new constitution.
4. The selection of the first batch of members, the charter members. A criteria was prepared and high on the list was leadership ability because we wanted to get the leaders of the fragments of UP Paglaom.

Seeded to charter membership were the members of the Steering Committee and Planning Group and three of the four that objected to the take-over (Lily Hidalgo, Eden Lao and Caring Nasol, the fourth being yours truly). An additional 16 Paglaom members passed the ranking process. However, four of the 16 were not invited because the rules called for a subsequent unanimous vote of the Steering Committee.

So 12 Paglaom members were invited. Two declined because of previous commitments (Lily Hidalgo and Bullitt Marquez) but promised to help. One left for Canada shortly because of a YFU (Youth for Understanding) scholarship (Egay Rosero). Another two declined because of personal reasons (Cathy Triunfante and Jean Cortes) but promised to withdraw only when the organization is already formed (however Jean Cortes didn’t want her name to be included). So the OSA (Office of Student Affairs) requirement that a student organization must have 20 members to be recognized was met.

To avoid prying eyes the plenary discussion of the constitution was held in the Mt. Makiling resort area of UPLB where Cathy and Jean also attended. All the subsequent meetings were held secretly, mainly in a secure room at the UP Women’s Center (courtesy of Mita Jimenez) or the Parks and Wildlife Nature Area in Quezon Avenue. The 3/4 signature needed to activate the new constitution was reached on December 1, 1974 and it was ratified in a subsequent meeting on December 4 at the Parks and Wildlife where the first elections were held.

The first Board of Directors consisted of:
President – Mighty Baylon
Vice-President – Jake Repomanta
Secretary – Min Paje
Treasurer – Nes Raneses
PRO – Grace Princesa
Academics Committee Chair – Asena Arcilla
Socio-Cultural Committee Chair – Caring Nasol
COMELEC Chair – Eden Lao
Sports Committee Chair – Gods Lanuza

With the election of the new BOD the Steering Committee and the Planning Group ceased to exist.

Other Charter Members were Yoli Reyeg, Steve David, Floro Balce, Totie Mesia, Ray Rayel, Raul Sabularse, Delen Padilla, Vines Nolasco, Joey Jaucian, Bobby Peralta and Cathy Triunfante.

Since help was needed in the transition process, a secret batch of applicants were already present even before December 1, 1974. They were already part of the group dynamics introduced to aid the getting-to-know you process since Ibalon came from diverse Paglaom fragments. The six that comprised Ibalon Batch 74-B were Fem Espinas, May Velasco, Allen Bonafe, Elsie Munoz, Jo Prades and Butch Ragragio.

All of the above can rightfully claim that they are the founders of Ibalon.

Christmas break was the time to grapple with the question of Paglaom’s fate, UP Ibalon’s recognition and how to win the allegiance and leadership of the Bicolano studentry.

UP Ibalon submitted to OSA its application for submission minutes before office closing time on the last day allowed, Jan. 15, 1975 and Dean Armando Malay signed his approval.

On Jan. 30, 1975, UP Paglaom was officially dissolved following a 2/3 vote on a 20% quorum, the requirement of the old constitution.

On Valentine’s week in 1975, UP Ibalon held its 1st Bicol Products Sale in AS Walk. It was here that the existence of the new organization was announced to the Bicolano studentry and the campaign to win their allegiance and leadership started.

UP Ibalon occupied the old “tambayan” of UP Paglaom in AS 3230. It was possible since the Bicolano studentry accepted the formation of the new organization.

In 1976, Min Paje and Jorge Sarmiento signed the peace treaty, removing the threat to Ibalon. As a sign that everything is now alright Jorge and his members applied in UP Ibalon with the agreement that they would withdraw before the end of the application process and not become members but they would play in the Sanlahi sportsfest where applicants are allowed to play.

I would always treasure the statesmanship of Jorge Sarmiento.

Afterwards, we were careful never to lose the allegiance and leadership of the Bicolano studentry so that Bicol unity in the campus will be undivided.

Until that fateful time in the early ’90s when some Ibalon leaders acquiesced to the conversion of UP Ibalon into a national-democratic (ND) organization under the umbrella of the NDF using the mantra “Poon sa poon an UP Ibalon ay sarong political organization”, which is not true.

And the subsequent breaking up of the Bicolano studentry into separate organizations began.

Dreaming of unity for all UP Bicolanos

November 10, 2008

It is with elation that I learned about the successful conduct of Academic Festival 2008 (Acad Fest,) pulled through by UP Harong, an organization of state university students from Camarines Sur which mirrors UP Ibalon, the region-wide group of UPians which dreams of unity and friendship among Bicolanos. The founding of the latter association antedates the beginnings of the former.

The University of Northeastern Philippines (UNEP) of Iriga City played out prominently in this year’s 13th Acad Fest for high school students held in Naga City Youth Center on October 23-25, 2008. UP Ibalon Alumni Bicol is just as happy to congratulate the glowing achievement of the school, its victorious brainy students, and the solicitous UP patrons who sponsored the event.

ONE ORIGIN, ONE GOAL

I’m sure many Ibalonians are proud to share UP Harong’s and President Mark Christopher Batac’s wish to hone the youth which they rightfully say is the future of the nation. Speaking of the Acad Fest, he said:

“We aim that this event will serve not only as a venue for healthy competition between schools but also as an effective mechanism to instill the values of excellence, social relevance and appreciation for culture.” Bicol Mail (11/06/08, Neola, J)

The desire of UP Harong to “contribute to the development of Camarines Sur” is also the same germ of good work that Ibalonians have been doing for Bicol since its early years in 1970’s. From the ashes of the fractious Paglaom, Ibalonians can recall and understand.

For us Ibalonians who are mellowed and far removed from the incipient vision we set for ourselves when we were immature students, Acad Fest’s success reminds us of our common purpose. It tells us of the need to come together and unite. Like our nation’s divisiveness which is unrelenting, such need seems tied with insurmountable obstacles. It seems hard, but unity isn’t impossible to achieve.

A GLUT OF ORGS, FRATS & SORORITIES

I’m perturbed to see so many organizations, fraternities, and sororities from UP. It kept me thinking why almost everywhere, I observed many Filipino associations spread and divided for a few trivial reasons. My thoughts hovered to ask what really skewed our collective soul to follow such a path. Disunity didn’t match our sterling reputation for being smart. It disparages our capacity for reason, conciliation, and harmony.

Not only seen among Bicolanos from UP, I witnessed disunity repeated all over by others, sometimes with awkward passion and misplaced pride. In one state of USA for instance, Filipinos could count more than 300 separate organizations, diluting their presence, representation, and strength.

They stage different Philippine Independence day celebrations, sue each other in court over inane disagreements, put up parallel Christmas parties, and sponsor a menagerie of competing activities for the same purpose.

THE PRICE TO PAY

If there is a greater expense to pay for these parochial groupings, it’s the Filipino unity which suffers. Truly, the redundancies of being in sequestered intimate cozy herds which are superficially unique exist with a costly price. Against our tribal inclinations, oneness is something we badly need and must work for.

Maybe, our predisposition to fragment serves as a barometer of some residual devious tayo-tayo instincts. And perhaps, there is that deep-seated insecurity, a failure to mature and grow, deluding us to believe that our differences are insurmountable and are greater than our capacity to heal and make whole.

What then can we do Ibalon? What can we achieve with UP? I guess a good start is to welcome all Bicolano UPians to our fold, be friends with them, and think how best we can serve the country together. (Photo Credits: __; UP Ibalon.org; UP Harong.netfirm; oligarki; AaronMontoya) =0=

NOTE: UP Ibalon sponsors a contest dubbed as Padunungan in Legazpi City while UP Harong has Academic Festival in Naga City. Never to be confused from each other, this “redundancy” seems trivial, but it has a lot to say about us and the way we think. The mix-up in Bicol Mail’s November 6, 2008 coverage of the Acad Fest/Padunungan is probably a result of this “redundancy.” AFM =0=

Celebrating All Saint’s Day

October 31, 2008

Death – the last sleep?
No, it is the final awakening.

~ Walter Scott

The lines calmed my senses when my mother died a few years ago. I thought death as a final awakening could be an epiphany which brings a lot of hope.

Each time I remember a departed soul and I read the words, I feel peace and consolation. I come to think of dying not in ghastly terms, but something glorious, as resplendant as the second coming.

On Saturday November 1, 2008, is All Saints Day. It is the right time to read the lines again. We remember those who passed away—the departed members of the family, our friends and neighbors who mean a lot to us.

In gratitude, we pray for them and celebrate their lives. We recall how much they share— the fleeting joy and the lustful bliss of the earth.

We relish the muffled laughter, the rustle of the gossamer curtain, and the glowing moments of light under which we had fun together. They are all framed in memory which makes the departed truly present within us: comfy warm, intimate, and alive.

In loving remembrance of ten (10) UP Ibalon members who passed away, here is what each of them must be telling us:

Call me by my old familiar name…I am but waiting for you.

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away in the next room. I am I and you are you: whatever we were to each other; that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name; speak to me in an easy way which you always used.

Put no difference into your tone: wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile. Think of me; pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow on it. Life means that it ever meant.

It is the same as it ever was. There is absolutely unbroken continuity. What is this death but a gateway? I am but waiting for you— for an interval somewhere very near around the corner. “ —Anonymous.

IN MEMORIAM

1. Rebecca (Bebeth) Espeso of Tulay na Lupa, Labo, Camarines Norte; by vehicular accident in Baao, Camarines Sur in April 1976; on her way to Legazpi City with UP Ibalon members to join Kami Minagalang, a humanitarian project of the organization for the Don Susano Memorial Mental Hospital in Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur.

2. Floro E. Balce of Daet, Camarines Norte; succumbed to a fatal single excruciating gunshot belly wound from an automatic carbine; in an encounter with the military in Tigaon, Camarines Sur; on July 30, 1978. As Ka Manding, he served selflessly to the cause of helping the poor and the disadvantaged.

3. Manny Raposa of Naga City; a victim of random stabbing in 1978 after stepping out of Max’s in Baclaran with his sweetheart; in Pasay City. A promising Philippine Science High School graduate (PSHS,) his death remained unsolved, one of many in the roster of clueless crimes in the police blotter.

4. Thor (Og) Aldea, from Ligao City, Albay; died of ruptured brain aneurysm in 1983; his 25th death anniversary was recently commemorated by friends at the CSWCD in the UP campus.

5. Siegfredo (Fred) Salva, from Naga City; was run over by a car in a 1989 traffic accident in Makati, Manila. His memory is honored by his Ateneo de Naga High School (AdeN) batchmates thru a scholarship named after him.

6. Juliet (Jake) Repomanta-Siron, from Guinobatan, Albay and Manila; a feminist-activist and a committed women’s rights advocate; worked with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST )where she served as its employees association president; suffered a fatal heart attack while undergoing kidney dialysis about 10 years ago.

7. Karen Canon, died in a vehicular accident while working in line of duty for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) nearly 10 years ago. UP Ibalon Grace Princesa-Escalante, her boss, took charge of the funeral services only to know of Karen’s membership with Ibalon later.

8. Joni Cadiz of Naga City; a loving father; bravely fought colonic cancer till his untimely demise; brother of UP Ibalonians Joel Anselmo and Jose Fabian.

9. George Evangelio, of Daraga Albay, an engineer-contractor and devoted family man; among those killed in a bus smash-up in Pamplona, Camarines Sur in July 29, 2008 on his way from Manila with his wife who had treatment for cancer.

10. Lourdes (Bajing) Roco, from Naga City, contracted severe unrelenting autoimmune disease (systemic lupus erythematosus,) proximate to finishing school in UP; suffered adverse effects chronic disease and medications; succumbed to a relapse; the admirable youngest sister of Sen. Raul Roco. Sources: A. Baylon & Totie Mesia)

NOTE: The ten UP Ibalon members who passed away will be remembered in a holy sacrifice of the mass on November 2, 2008 at the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Ditmars Street, Astoria, New York 11105.

==================RESQUIESCAT IN PACE==================

Photo (Credits: headlesspider; noricum; svf1972; yadnus; pathenson;__)

Rising Road Accidents

October 26, 2008

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates about 1.2 million people die in traffic accidents worldwide every year. Moreover, 10 million are injured costing about 520 billion in expenses.

Juan Mercado of Cebu Daily News (07/11/06) wrote on the frequent occurence of road accidents in the Philippines. He said the government data tend to underestimate the extent of the problem are not accurate. The records in hospitals don’t agree with what are kept by the police.

“On paper, the Philippine accident rate is about 6.0 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles.’ T“hat makes us look good among ASEAN nations. The low victim headcount has, in fact, lulled authorities into complacency, the report notes. But newspaper and broadcast reports show these up as smug assumptions.

“In 2003, the police reported only about 900 fatalities.” That same year, “about 9,000 fatalities could be attributed to road traffic accidents,” the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) asserted in its National Injury Survey.

The UNICEF study covered 90,500 households, randomly selected from barangays to regional level. It concluded that over 783,000 pileups occur yearly. In over 144,000 instances, people were injured severely. Another 630,000 got off with bruises, black eyes, dented cars — and the scare of their lives.”

I believe we don’t need more evidence about the bane of traffic accidents in the county. We recall the death of UP Ibalon George Evangelio and injury of his wife in a gruesome bus smash up this year in Pamplona, Camarines Sur killing at least 11 and injuring more than 20 people.

Ibalonians Fred Salva, Karen Canon, and Rebecca Espeso died of injuries suffered from vehicular accidents in Manila and Baao, Camarines Sur. I had Henry Mesia, my brother in Naga City who sustained fatal head trauma in 1985. Ten (10) South Korean visitors recently died of injuries in August 27, 2008 on their way to a resort in Bolinao, Pangasinan.

Apolonio Baylon had a picture of a Bicol University bus totally wrecked in an mishap in Sison, Pangasinan. Ed Gumban snapped a photo of an overloaded tricycle which depicted the real danger of the street in Irosin, Sorsogon.

Based on data from two years ago, 27% (4,182) of car accidents were caused by driver error. This included sleeping on the wheel, failure to follow road signs, drunk driving, and the use of cell phones while driving. Fifteen percent (15%) was due to vehicle mechanical defects, and 13% from speeding.

Marichu V. Cruz, a Manila Times reporter (07/29/08), reveals a continuing increase in traffic accidents this year and obviously, reliable documentation is required to keep government authorities abreast with solutions.

The Philippine Natonal Police (PNP) attributes the alarming traffic accidents on undisciplined Filipino drivers. Traffic officers point to more education and personal responsibility in trying to bring down injuries and deaths on the road. (Photo Credits: Bicol Mail;stchristopherlucky; Ed Gumban) =0=

UPDATE: On October 27, Monday, an additional six (6) people died and 15 others were injured when a vehicle fell into a ravine in Tagaytay, Batangas.

Rising Road Accidents

October 26, 2008

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates about 1.2 million people die in traffic accidents worldwide every year. Moreover, 10 million are injured costing about 520 billion in expenses.

Juan Mercado of Cebu Daily News (07/11/06) wrote on the frequent occurence of road accidents in the Philippines. He said the government data tend to underestimate the extent of the problem are not accurate. The records in hospitals don’t agree with what are kept by the police.

“On paper, the Philippine accident rate is about 6.0 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles.’ T“hat makes us look good among ASEAN nations. The low victim headcount has, in fact, lulled authorities into complacency, the report notes. But newspaper and broadcast reports show these up as smug assumptions.

“In 2003, the police reported only about 900 fatalities.” That same year, “about 9,000 fatalities could be attributed to road traffic accidents,” the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) asserted in its National Injury Survey.

The UNICEF study covered 90,500 households, randomly selected from barangays to regional level. It concluded that over 783,000 pileups occur yearly. In over 144,000 instances, people were injured severely. Another 630,000 got off with bruises, black eyes, dented cars — and the scare of their lives.”

I believe we don’t need more evidence about the bane of traffic accidents in the county. We recall the death of UP Ibalon George Evangelio and injury of his wife in a gruesome bus smash up this year in Pamplona, Camarines Sur killing at least 11 and injuring more than 20 people.

Ibalonians Fred Salva, Karen Canon, and Rebecca Espeso died of injuries suffered from vehicular accidents in Manila and Baao, Camarines Sur. I had Henry Mesia, my brother in Naga City who sustained fatal head trauma in 1985. Ten (10) South Korean visitors recently died of injuries in August 27, 2008 on their way to a resort in Bolinao, Pangasinan.

Apolonio Baylon had a picture of a Bicol University bus totally wrecked in an mishap in Sison, Pangasinan. Ed Gumban snapped a photo of an overloaded tricycle which depicted the real danger of the street in Irosin, Sorsogon.

Based on data from two years ago, 27% (4,182) of car accidents were caused by driver error. This included sleeping on the wheel, failure to follow road signs, drunk driving, and the use of cell phones while driving. Fifteen percent (15%) was due to vehicle mechanical defects, and 13% from speeding.

Marichu V. Cruz, a Manila Times reporter (07/29/08), reveals a continuing increase in traffic accidents this year and obviously, reliable documentation is required to keep government authorities abreast with solutions.

The Philippine Natonal Police (PNP) attributes the alarming traffic accidents on undisciplined Filipino drivers. Traffic officers point to more education and personal responsibility in trying to bring down injuries and deaths on the road. (Photo Credits: Bicol Mail;stchristopherlucky; Ed Gumban) =0=

UPDATE: On October 27, Monday, an additional six (6) people died and 15 others were injured when a vehicle fell into a ravine in Tagaytay, Batangas.

Support Bicol Trade!

October 25, 2008

The OK Bikol Trade Fair brings home a powerful message that assets come in many forms. To build something useful and tangible for the growth of the community, we need ideas and money. Yet we also require cooperation, initiative, and resolve to utilize the talents, time, and energy that reside in the people.

UP Ibalon Imelda T. Cabanes has shown us that there is much to be appreciated in the men and women who push hard to drum-up self-help and business sense. The entrepreneurial drive of Bicolanos is alive. There are economic gains which can be realized from the sale of “home furnishings, giftware, holiday décor, wearables, fresh and processed food, organic and natural products, cutlery and furniture.” Raw materials such as tikiw, salago, pagokpok and sorghum have a lot of promise in augmenting work and income.

One way to help Bicol business is to promote and patronize our locally-made goods so that others may follow. We need to buy more so we can produce more—It’s a form of habit modification which demands that we value our local products greater than the foreign ones. By involving the youth, we come to understand the often undervalued asset in our young generation. It is important for us to join hands to make our community better. (Photo Credits: Dan Daz/Imelda T. Cabanes)0=