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Political Dynasties in the Philippines: In My Opinion

Next year’s Philippine midterm elections are fast approaching and it paints an all too-familiar image once again: candidates that are ei...



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This year's celebration of Christmas in Iligan City would never be the same again.
Just almost a week before Christmas Day, a flashf flood has hit the two cities brought by the Typhoon Sendong which started at one o'clock in the early morning yesterday.

The Friday night before that (December 16), at about ten o'clock strong whirling winds started to pound the city. At about one o'clock, the power was cut off in the entire city. Then, the flash flood came together with strong winds of Typhoon Signal No. 2. The houses and villages near the mountains felt the strong rains eroding the mountains.

The waters then rushed down towards the city at by 3:30, it has already submerged the downtown areas of Orchid Village, barangays Pala-o and San Miguel, and Saray. Some areas of Barangay Luinab, Barangay Tambo, Santa Filomena, Barangay Hinaplanon, including Bayug Island, wherein the solo hanging bridge that brings people in and out the place was destroyed thus, trapping the residents on the said low-lying village. All the rivers in Iligan overflowed and reached levels that were never seen before. In some parts, people have to use boats and paddles in order to traverse. Some are left waiting for help on the top of their roofs.

The typhoon that hit the city at an early pitch dark left a lot of people dead. According to unconfirmed reports of the Red Cross, 145 were the body count collected in the entire city as of 2 PM yesterday. While a lot of volunteer organizations say that a total of 300 casualties is still a 'conservative' estimate considering the large number of people considered missing. Of this number, the casualties are from all walks of life, both young and old. From the casualty counts, four MSU-IIT students were confirmed to be dead, there are also some professors believed to have perished, too. Some funeral homes would even refuse to accept some dead bodies because of it can't accommodate bodies anymore. Only at about 7 PM did the power get back.

Billions worth of property were destroyed in the city where it is believed that the city proper served as a basin that was trapped between the waters that rushed from the mountains and the bashing of the waves. As of the moment, more than 2,000 families were displaced and some sought refuge at the MSU-IIT Gymnasium for shelter and direct assistance.
Cagayan de Oro City on the other hand, was also bombarded by heavy rains. According to credible reports, the areas hit by flood are Gensaugon, Carmen Riverside, Isla de Oro, and Villa Candida, while all the houses near Carmen River were washed out by the typhoon. Estimated number of people dead as of 7 PM last night for CDO is about 300. There's still no exact numbers for the number of missing people.
Damage brought by Typhoon Sendong near rotunda and Tomas Saco

You may contact the Red Cross in both areas or check out these sites if you wish to offer help:
OneforIligan Interactive Map

Donations to Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Account:

Account Name: JR Lopez Gonzales
Bank Name: Bank of the Philippine Islands, Iligan City
Account Number: 9359-1294-13

Writer's Note:
The writer opted not to show the faces of the people who died in the posted pictures in respect to their families and their dignity as human beings.

Picture Credits:

"The portrait of positive change is composed of shapes and lines drawn on life’s canvas, using humanity’s actions as the paintbrush dipped in the paint of goodness placed on the palette of time."

From the age-old inklings of Heraclitus’ writings to the melodious rhythms of Jose Mari Chan, both affirm the general truth: change is constant.

Whether one is playing with the thought that something different needs to be done, have already made the decision that things must be done differently, or moved to the supposition to create a different outcome; change becomes part of the general universal equation.

It is apparent that the Philippines is confronted with a lot of societal problems that necessitates an effectuation of 'positive' change. Such also holds true in the provinces outside the capital region where to note, more than half of the poorest provinces in the country are in my homeland of Mindanao.

It seems that the ‘Manila-centric’ government that we have, failed to actually deliver the resources to the far-flung areas and provinces. This is a feature of a centralized government that comes with dire consequences for the rest of the groups of islands, say, the Visayas and Mindanao. And while there are a lot of developments that has happened both in urban and rural areas in the provinces over the years courtesy of the silent heroes, it seems that the beauty of Mindanao was splotched by the large smearing paints of irresponsible journalism.

My homeland of Mindanao, for the longest time, has landed in the news for all the negative reasons: kidnappings, terrorist bombings, and violence. This is the kind of pessimism the dailies portray us.

The sad fact is, none, if not minimum effort from the mainstream Filipino media draw attention to the stories of social development in the "Land of Promise". Most people from the provinces would concur that the bringing out of positive and truthful news in the open is one of the best ways of letting other people know that change is happening and that there is still hope.

This is where the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) comes into the picture. In memory of the philanthropist Ramon and his son, Eduardo, the foundation confers the RAFI Triennial Awards to the unsung heroes who have devoted their lives in building a society based on justice, peace, and love. It recognizes exemplary individuals and institutions that persevered to touch others’ lives amidst challenges and difficulties. It also, most importantly, upholds the fact that positive social change is currently taking place in these far-off communities, including in my hometown Mindanao.

The premier award-giving body for fifteen years now, has successfully painted a positive portrait of both the Visayas and Mindanao. Since the 1st Triennial Awards conferment in 1999, it has recognized 50 individuals and institutions.

Seeing the internet as an alternative media for positivity, I, as a blogger, would like to add my own touches upon the Mindanao canvas by featuring ten (10) RAFI Mindanaoan awardees that I find worth emulating. They are our silent heroes, fearlessly dedicating themselves in the pursuit of portraying the beautiful imagery of Mindanao.

Ramon Aboitiz Award for the Exemplary Individual

The Dynamic Leader:
Ramon A. Piang, Sr. (Upi, Maguindanao)

A proud member of the Tiruray (or Teduray) tribe, Ramon “Mon” Piang came from an impoverished tenant family in Maguindanao. At age 13, feeling the need to go out of his shell, he left his family and went to the Notre Dame Diocesan Seminary.

Realizing that ordainment is not his heart’s desire, he took up a teaching position at the Notre Dame Elementary School instead. Because of his virtuosity, the then young Mon was appointed Principal of the Notre Dame of Upi High School and stayed in the position for 11 years.

When he was elected mayor, he spearheaded reforms and established his brand of good governance. On his first year of office alone, the national and municipal roads were improved. Public structures and government systems were computerized and networked to better serve his 50,000-plus Upian constituents.

Being a peace advocate, one can quickly point out that the Upian Mayor is for cultural harmony between the three peoples of Mindanao: the Muslims, Christians, and the Lumads. He formed a ‘tri-people way of conflict resolution’ with a council composed of six (6) revered people from each group. This program led to the significant 35% drop in the number of cases filed with the police according to the 2005 data.

The spontaneous mayor also created a government radio, “DxUP” which informs the people of his plans and initiatives thus encouraging participatory politics.

For Mayor Piang's contributions, he was cited by the Canadian International Development Agency – Local Government Support Program as a model leader and his town as praiseworthy specimens of good and transparent governance.

The T'boli Doctor:
Salvecio B. Dagang (T'boli, South Cotabato)

Born from the indigenous community of the T'bolis, Salvecio Dagang studied well to reach his dreams of becoming a physician. After years of public service, he became popular in the hinterlands of South Cotabato, which led him to become the first President of the organization of datus called the Tribal Leaders Development Foundation Inc.

Together with his wife Levesita, also a doctor, they established free clinics to cover even the remotest areas in the T'boli's boondocks. Potable water can now be accessed in five (5) barangays, especially in Salacafe, some 20 kilometers away from the town proper.

With the help of foreign donors, a 60-hectare abaca plantation is now run by the Afus Abaca Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative. The hardworking doctor also formed a literacy program which catered to 1,600 adults which finally graduated from a six-month adult literacy works.

Doc 'Waning' has never felt tired in serving the South Cotabateños because of the support of his number main inspiration - his family. Now at fifty-six years old, he is the current Technical Division Chief of the Integrated Provincial Health Office of South Cotabato.

On the life's purpose, the Doctor Dagang reveals in an e-mail correspondence that it is “to create opportunities for the underprivileged ethnic groups and the rural poor”. He adds, “men by nature seek more challenges to life to achieve more, to maintain mental and physical alertness, to be blessings to others”.

The Bangsamoro Revolutionary Against Poverty and Inequality
Bainon G. Karon (Cotabato City)

Activism was at her blood even at her younger years. At the tender age of 18, Hadja Bainon was already an active member of the Federation of Muslim Students in the seventies to protest against Muslim prejudice while studying at the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City.

A feisty advocate of peace through development, she empowered Bangsamoro women all over Mindanao, and opened livelihood opportunities to the communities. She founded the Federation of the United Mindanawan Bangsamoro Women Multipurpose Cooperative (FUMBWMPC). It has 137 member cooperatives across Mindanao that operates on the principle of proactive participation of women in peace-building and development.

Hadja Bainon was appointed Regional Secretary of the DSWD for ARMM in 2006. In the span of three years, the DSWD Emergency Assistance and Core Shelter programs was able to aid 609,328 displaced people because of the armed conflicts and natural calamities. A sizable number of 2,369 shelters were also constructed during her time.

At almost 60 years old now, Bai Karon is still energetic in effectuating change in the community, being a Bangsamoro and a devout follower of Allah. Seeing firsthand the ill-effects of armed conflict, she reveals that ‘providing  sustainability and economic empowerment to the Bangsamoro People are mechanisms in helping build justice and peace’.

The Innovative Doctor
Ray L. Catague (M’lang, North Cotabato)

In the early nineties, after four years devoting his residency to rural practice in Iloilo, Doc Ray for the first time moved to Mindanao and served as Municipal Health Officer of M’lang, Cotabato.

He was able to maximize his training as a medical doctor and a health officer by creating various programs and made health services more efficient to meet North Cotabato’s problems on population, poor health conditions, violence against women, adolescent reproductive health, malnutrition, and sexually-transmitted disease. He also helped establish Teen Centers as venues for youth activities and counseling.

Despite being a diabetic for more than 20 years, it did not stop the persevering doctor’s quest to uplift lives. An effective community organizer, he partnered with LGUs to effectuate his advocacies on health-related and other social programs.

Doc Ray organized people to provide additional labor and serve as his partners in rural health.  This later became a pioneer program called the Barangay Health Workers Federation. He also started the Barangay Nutrition Scholar (BNS), which gives students the opportunity to help implement the government’s nutrition programs in the villages.

To entice underweight children to partake foodstuff dole outs, Dr. Catague came up with the “Nutri-Pak Calamay Hatì”, a complete candy-like nutritional food. This was distributed all over M’lang and was even recognized as one of the “Top Ten Innovations” by USAID in 1999.

He currently leads the Provincial Quick Response Team of North Cotabato which is on the go when disasters strike.

The Man for All
Eddie M. Alih (Tawi-Tawi)

A man that values the sharing of knowledge, Sir Eddie is well-loved by his constituents in the academe having served as a Chancellor of the Mindanao State University – Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography. His administration brought about a sudden increase in the student enrollment due to the campus’ physical development and administration.

A polyglot, Sir Eddie’s skill in speaking five languages (Sama, Tausug, Cebuano, Tagalog, and English) enabled him to mediate and settle conflicts being a member of the Muslim religious council. He also maintains personal contact with former Moro National Liberation Front rebels in the remote areas in order to bring about salutary effects to the islands.

His involvement in the Couples for Christ - Gawad Kalinga bolsters the value of Muslim-Christian unity and peace. Definitely a man for all, he reveals that “when you share yourself with others, life begins to find its meaning. The time you touch the lives of others is the moment you truly live”.

Eduardo Aboitiz Award for the Outstanding Institution

Save Mindanao Volunteers, Inc. (Agusan del Sur)

Established in July 2000, the Save Mindanao Volunteers, Inc. (SMVI) became the most visible group providing for institutional development of the Manobo tribespeople in Agusan del Sur.

Anchored on the literacy needs of the marshland natives, the foundation designed and implemented a functional literacy program for the adults and children, instead of directly instituting livelihood programs. The foundation had seventeen (17) full-time volunteers and more than a thousand residents benefited from the literacy curriculum as of 2005.

The Manobo lumads used to shy away from direct trading of their fresh catch. But with SMVI’s aid, they are now able to read and write which greatly helped them in trade and their business dealings.

Working hand-in-hand with the American organization “Books for the Barrios”, thousands of books where shipped to the marshland for the Manobo children. This led to the first ‘floating library’ in the Philippines; with the libraries moving from one marshland community to another.

With forged partnerships with funding agencies locally and internationally, SMVI received donations in terms of transportation and other equipment: a motorized boat which serves as a clinic, a ‘water ambulance’ speed boat, and a motorbike.

Now, the local politicians began considering the marsh residents as viable and productive. Health maintenance, aquaculture, forest protection, livelihood, tourism among other public services became available in the area thanks to the hard work of the volunteers.

Truly, the integrated development brought about by the efforts of SMVI are like strong torrents that would enable the Manobos to traverse the marshlands of life.

Brokenshire Integrated Health Ministries, Inc. (Davao City)

BIHMI is a church-owned organization of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City which focuses mainly on the health and general well-being of Mindanaoans. Since its establishment in the seventies, it has already initiated health services to 1,657 households in four barangays in Southern Mindanao.

An innovation in development works, BIHMI’s holistic program is for community development through community-owned and managed health coops. Their “50+1” approach encourages the townspeople to have more than half the population in a barangay to be enlisted in the cooperatives.

Now, there are almost 300 first liner and second liner community health workers were trained through the initiated community building activities in the selected communities in Davao del Sur, Sarangani, and North Cotabato.

Decades back, the Barangay Sinoron in Sta. Cruz town in Davao del Sur succumb to the constant attritions between the New People’s Army and the government Armed Forces. The constant fighting left the barangay desolate. But when BIHMI came, it introduced social development through health cooperatives. Income generating programs such as convenience stores, marketing centers, and demonstration farms were initiated which brought back the humanity in the once ‘no man’s land’.
Muslim-Christian Agency for Rural Development, Inc. (Cagayan de Oro City)

Good things come in threes for the history of this foundation. The Integrated Services Program (ISP) in Marawi, People’s Alternative Program for Action (PAPA) in Margosatubig, Zamboanga, and Paglaum Community-Based Development Agency (PaCoBDA) in Bukidnon being long-time partners for four years decided to fuse their foundations into one in 1984.

The foundation had a long list of carefully selected programs to imbibe change: technical support for socio-economic projects, cooperative development, sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, income-generating projects, community-based primary healthcare, community animal healthcare management, draft animal dispersal, daycare and adult literacy, ecology, environmental protection, and linkage- and partnership-building.

During the all-out-war policy of the Estrada Administration some ten years ago, together with its partners, MuCARD fed thousands of displaced families in the war-torn communities.

Micro-finance has also been the medium for technology transfer provided by MuCARD. The new technology that it offered its cooperative farmer-members attracted a thousand others. Due to the foundation’s efforts, various cooperatives sprouted within Lanao del Sur,too.

In protecting the mangrove areas, MuCARD collaborated with the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (now the Civilian Volunteers Organization) which established outposts in the coastlines in Zamboanga del Sur. This apprehends big and even armed illegal commercial fishers.

One of the largest foundation networks in the country, it has a total membership of 5,361 household beneficiaries with over 32,166 direct and indirect individual members (2002 data). By 2002, it has organized 152 people’s organizations including 9 federations and one confederation which covered Regions IX,X, XII, and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao spread to over 104 barangays in 19 municipalities and two cities.

Maharlika Charity Foundation, Inc. (Davao City)

Established in 1973 by Dr. Rizal Aportadera and his colleagues, Maharlika evolved from a small group of philanthropic individuals to a team of volunteers who are concerned with the medical condition of Mindanao’s poorest communities.

MCFI has a team of volunteer surgeons and nurses who travel to remote areas and operate on patients with cataracts and harelips. The institution brings with them detachable beds and tables and improvised wheelchairs.

The foundation not only influenced local governments to prioritize health care in their districts but also encouraged private institutions and individuals to support their missions through cash or in-kind donations.

MCFI, with the collaborated effort of a foreign funding agency Liliane Fonds Foundation, was able to assist hearing-impaired indigent children. In a separate program with the Davao Medical Center’s Mindanao Burn Center, the two institutions served around 9,000 patients in the span of four years from 2000 to 2004.

Serving mainly in South Cotabato, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, and Marawi City, it has served almost 10,000 patients with more than twenty medical missions. The first of its kind in the Philippines, the foundation has a 40-footer van equipped with sophisticated surgical equipments is capable of performing two eye surgeries at once.

Mahintana Foundation, Inc. (Polomolok, South Cotabato)

In 1977, one of the country’s leading pineapple exporters, Dole Philippines, Inc., formed Mahintana Foundation only as a response to the ‘corporate social responsibility’. The name was taken from the B’laan words mahin which means “sea”, and tana, which means “land”.
Starting out as a small private social development institution, it inflated with the help of linkage expansions and foreign funding that by 1999, it was accredited as a ‘donee institution’ by the Philippine Council for NGO Certification.

The Mahintana Foundation was successful in many social development programs like in microfinancing and entrepreneurship. Mahintana Foundation’s Landan Multipurpose Cooperative has, as of December 2006, the total assets of about P157, 990 million, with a total of 1,593 member-beneficiaries, composed mostly of B’laan natives.

In 2005, the coop is already assisting a total of 1,700 hectares. From this number, 1,688 hectares are devoted to pineapple, while the remaining 12 hectares are planted to papaya.

With regards to sustainable development and environmental protection, it formed various programs and extension projects in South Cotabato. It gave birth to Mt. Matutum Integrated Conservation and Development Project (MICADEV), the Gully Tree Planting project, the Community Investment on Trees and Environment, the Tools for Trees Program, the Chair for Trees Program, and the Kapatan Marine Reserve and Development Project.

Mahintana Foundation also provides free basic healthcare and dental services in the indigent communities within the Mt. Matutum vicinity.
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Imbibing the social change we so desire, according to a Chinese proverb, is “not a picnic”. These success stories were not made in a day, these ordinary people wrestled with extraordinary hardships and struggles in order to help carry out positive societal change. Yet the drawing of the portrait of an optimistic change for Mindanao entails the hard work of not just a handful of the RAFI awardees.

A tiny bristle of the paintbrush only leaves a miniscule mark on the canvas for it is just one; but still it is one. Everyone's positive action is like that tiny strand in the paintbrush that, when bound together, with each stroke can make beautiful shapes and lines on the life's canvas.

The power to make simple increments of the country's portrait is in our hands. The drawing of our portrait of change still needs strokes from each one - that is, before we do the  finishing touches.

This is an official entry to the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Triennial Awards Blogging Contest.

Picture Credits:
Profile Pictures are from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th RAFI Triennial e-books accessible at
Paintbrush image from
It is but a common knowledge that Facebook is a modern-day "social gamechanger" in the cyberspace.

Aside from Facebook's chatting feature that is non-existent in the then-famous Friendster, one can post his or her thoughts on the "Facebook Wall". Being a Facebook member since 2007, I've posted hundreds of Wall Posts that is seen by my Facebook friends.

I've made it a point not to post personal stuffs (like what I ate, what are my whereabout, and what-nots) and decided to post mind-tickling jokes, notions, doubts, opinions, satirical statements, beliefs, assertions, assumptions, mockeries, sarcasm, silliness, and other forms of bluster.

Majority of my posts were written in Filipino (the national language of the Philippines) on the hopes of better intelligibility among the majority of my Filipino-speaking Facebook friends.

For the benefit of my blog readers who don't have the luxury of checking out my Facebook posts, I've compiled my monthly posts, these were my posts for the month of November last year. I hope that you'll enjoy the hodge-podge of these ideas and I urge you to share your comment about the posts since one can't click "Like" here.

May 16

Meron din kayang malinis na germs?

Pinagalitan ako ng mama ko, kasi raw bakit 'di ako nakapikit habang nagdadasal; sabi ko naman: "Paano n'yo po nalaman?"

May 14

Hindi na kinakailangan pang kontrolin ang matalino at edukadong populasyon.

Sa korte, ang isa sa pinakamataas na uri ng pruweba ay ang testimonya ng saksi samantalang sa mata ng agham, ito ang pinakamababang uri ng pruweba.

May 13

Kung talagang purung-puro at organic ang kanilang produkto, bakit nakasilid sa plastic bottles?

May 9

Hinding-hindi na ako magsusugal... pustahan pa tayo!

Nagpapasalamat ako sa Maykapal dahil sa mura kong edad, natanto ko sa aking sarili na hindi ako ang pinakagwapo, hindi ako pinakamayaman, at hindi ako ang pinakasikat na tao sa buong mundo.

Si Coach Freddie Roach lamang ang Amerikanong alam ko na habang nagsasalita, ay mayroon pang English subtitle.

May 8

MOSTLY sa ginawa ni MOSLEY ay tumakbo.

May 7
Go Mosley! Dapat natin siyang i-cheer kasi mas kakailanganin niya yun laban kay Pacquiao. :-)

Kapag ang isang mabait na tao ang pinag-aral siya ay malamang magiging matalinong mabait. Nguni't kapag ang tarantado ang pinag-aral mo, siya ay magiging tarantadong edukado. Tarantado pa rin. Edukado nga lang.

May 6

Nagiging 0% daw 'yung crime rate ng 'Pinas tuwing lalaban si Pacquiao. Kahit na nga basagulero nga eh, napapatigil para manood ng maatikabong ...suntukan.

Ang ganda ng balita ngayon: Kung ano raw ang susuotin ni Mommy Dionisia sa kanyang birthday AT kung anong kulay ng Hermes bag na ireregalo sa kanya ni Manny. Sus.

May 2

Pansin n'yo ba? Pagkatapos na makapag-shoot ng bola ang isang basketball player, pansinin. Siguradong bibilis agad ang takbo nito paglipat sa kabilang court.

March 30

Hindi nagkaka-heart attack ang mga taong "walang puso".

Ang mga dolphin ay bading na pating.

"Hulog ng langit" - 'Di ba si Lucifer daw ay pinatapon sa mundo mula sa langit? Siya malamang ang tinutukoy dito; kasi talaga namang nahulog siya mula sa langit.

"Ikaw ang hulog ng langit..."
March 29

Ang tawag sa isang babaeng maganda ngunit di katangkaran ay "petite". Sa Bisaya may equivalent din na word eh, "putót".

Kapag si Phil ay tumanda, dapat ay Oldhusband. Ang tawag sa magiging wife ni Phil ay Mrs. Younghusband. Pero dahil siya'y single pa, dapat Phil Youngbachelor.

Hindi lahat ng aksidente ay nakakamatay; ang iba ay nakapagbibigay pa nga ng buhay

'Pag sinabi ko bang "I don't give a damn", ako ba ay nag-bad word?

March 10

Hindi gaanong importante kung saan ka nakapag-aral, mas importante kung ano ang iyong natutunan ngayong nagtapos ka na.

Isang perpektong at masayang mundo: Taong sadistang sinasaktan ang taong masokista.

March 8

You don't need to be an expert in math to be logical.

March 7

It's odd even if it's odd nor even.

March 4

Ang sabi naman ng ad na ito, "Wala nang mas sasarap pa sa LM noodles kundi ang LM noodles". Ang tanong ko naman, "Eh 'di ang may mas masamang lasa sa LM noodles ay ang LM noodles din".

Kahit gaano pa kaganda ng mga subjects at models, kung ang pangit ang pagkakuha ng litrato, 'di pa rin maganda ang kalalabasan ng litrato. Lesson learned from Jaygie Ads and Photo Servicing.

Isa na namang halimbawa ng kasinungalingan sa TV ads: STOP BODY AGING. Ha, kaya pala?

Kahit gaano kaganda ang pelikula, kung pirated copy naman ang DVD mo, you'll never appreciate the beauty of the movie.

Sir, ano'ng frat mo?
Sagot ko: Wala eh. Pero itinuturing kong frat ay ang aking pagiging Tupinian, South Cotabateño, Iliganon, Mindanaoan, Pilipino, at residente ng mundo. Kapag swak ka sa alinman diyan, ikaw ay ka-brod o ka-sis ko.

Isang mahalagang tanong para sa lahat: Alin nga ba ang mas MAHALAGA: ang UNA o ang HULI?

Dapat hindi ituro sa bata ang nursery rhyme na "Humpty Dumpty" kasi mayroong violence sa later part.

Tinanong ko s'ya. "How are you?"
Sagot niya: I'm fine.
Ano nga ba talaga ang ibig sabihin ng "fine"? Ano'ng fine? Sugar is fine. Sand is fine. You? Fine?

Take care daw. How can I take someone else's care? Should I take "care" or "give" care? What happens to me if I took care? Can I have more care than I've already taken? Can I take more than one care?

March 1

Merong isang babae sa labas ng bangko kanina, ang lakas ng kanyang boses habang may kinakausap sa cellphone. Naisip ko naman, kasi nga dahil sa malayo ang kanyang tinatawagan kaya nilalaksan niya ang kanyang boses.

You can never find a perfect edge of an object in this world.

A man can't have all the adjectives in the world.
I have never been a fan of blog entries endorsing for something else by someone else. But as I happen to visit the Philippine Blog Awards website, an awarding body for blogs made by Filipinos, I found out that bloggers like me have the power to vote for a single blog I like the most.
And I give my vote to the website, “South Cotabato Tambayan”  for the 2011 Philippine Blog Awards Bloggers’ Choice.

This website promotes the southern province in the ‘irresponsible media target’ called Mindanao. My home, Mindanao has been a constant target of negligent mainstream journalism – the media always fail to look at the island positively. It is as if the whole 26 provinces of the 97, 500 square kilometer-island is the place for trigger-happy terrorists, exploding bombs, and constant bloodshed.

This predicament is something that my fellow Mindanaoans also feel and can relate to. A lot of people view Mindanao negatively and with that, I doff my hat to ‘Nanard’ Navarro for creating and administering the South Cotabato Tambayan website.

This is South Cotabato. Images that were never portrayed by the media
but abounds in the South Cotabato Tambayan website.

It has been a venue for interaction between South Cotabateños and visitors, alike. It has been the avenue for news and current issues pertaining to the province and for Mindanao as well. South Cotabato Tambayan allows Filipinos and netizens abroad to have a look at that side of Mindanao that is often veiled by false information and sweeping negative generalizations.

I am one with the website’s cause of uplifting the image of Mindanao and letting people see and realize how beautiful the province is. In maintaining, administering, and rendering the service of letting people know without financial compensation – This blog, PoliTikalon: The Official Weblog of JR Lopez Gonzales, salute the South Cotabato Tambayan website and I believe it deserves the spot in the Philippine Blog Awards.

Picture Credit:

DILIMAN, QUEZON CITY – For the first time since the college’s foundation some fifty years ago, the Mindanao State University joins the highly-anticipated national televised debates of the ABS-CBN News Channel last October 7. The MSU debaters that fought against the joint force of DLSU-FEU team using the Oxford-Oregon format were JR Lopez Gonzales and Abdul Raffy Tomawis.

Taking the Affirmative Side with the motion: “Amendment of the Constitution through both houses of Congress voting separately and through a bilateral committee is unconstitutional”, the MSU debaters fiercely stood their ground in upholding and keeping the statusquo.

First Speaker Abdul Raffy Tomawis started the debate presenting the overall stand of the Government Side. The DLSU-FEU team countered saying that the law is silent and does not prohibit Drilon’s interpretation. JR Lopez Gonzales, the 2nd Speaker from MSU raised the issue that the bilateral committee’s composition is “statistically improbable” in meeting the required “¾ of all the members of the Congress”. To hit the final blows, the Rebuttal Speaker refuted the arguments of the opposition banking on the framer’s real intent on the provision’s construction. The debate was further heated up due to the 2-minute interpellations done between teams.

COL professorial lecturers believe that arguments-wise, the win should’ve been awarded to the MSU team. Some even questioned the judge line-up saying that it should have been lawmakers and practicing lawyers that should adjudicate as what is called for by the motion.

Despite the team falling short of the win against the DLSU-FEU team, the MSU studentry and faculty congratulated the debaters for their great performance.
by Glenice Joy Jornales*

The MU Kappa Phi National Exclusive Law Fraternity and Sorority (MKP) once again successfully held its annual law school orientation seminar entitled “Slaying the Dragon: Surviving Law School” last July  20, 2011 at MSU-IIT Mini-Theatre.

College of Law freshmen and sophomores enjoyed the educational and enlightening talks from esteemed lawyers such as Atty. Rejoice Subejano (MIDA Director), Atty. Saidali Gandamra (City Peace Council for Muslims) and her daughter Atty. Khanini Gandamra, Atty. Norjaypha Bacaraman (Public Attorney’s Office) and Atty. Jam Bazar, a professor from MSU-Marawi College of Law. MSU-College of Law Iligan Extension Assistant Dean Atty. Alizedney Ditucalan was also one of the speakers for the said event.

New bar passer Atty. Junella Limpangog, now an associate lawyer in Padilla Law Office also attended the said seminar and she talked about her experiences in the legal profession.
The other topics for the said seminar included How to Survive in Law School, FYI:MCQ and tips, strategies in legal writing and a lot more. 

MKP is a national law fraternity and sorority organization which is involved not only in law school activities but was also engaged in various community development programs and events. Some of these events included charity works for the children in Bantay Bata, feeding program for school children in Upper Hinaplanon, inter-frat bowling tournament and more. They also organized a bloodletting activity during MKP anniversary earlier this year. It was also projected that MKP will be doing more of these activities once again next year.

*Editor’s Note: This article was written by Glenice Joy Jornales for The Nexus, the official magazine of the Mindanao State University College of Law - Iligan Extension Volume 13, Issue No. 2 with me, JR Lopez Gonzales as the Editor-in-Chief.

Picture Credit:
by Moumina Sheryne Domadalug*

Last November 12, in line with the 65th Anniversary Celebration of the Glorious House of Beta Sigma Lambda, Inc. (BSL) and the 2nd Anniversary of its MSU Iligan Chapter, a mangrove planting activity and a Mini-lecture on “Writ of Kalikasan” was held at Bayug Island, Barangay Hinaplanon, Iligan City.

The DENR-PAWCS Chief Benjie Jumawan first lectured on the Mangrove Rehabilitation Project and its importance to the local people living along coastal areas such as Bayug Island. One hundred fifty (150) Mangrove propagules were planted initiated by dedicated BSL members after which the Mini-Lecture was conducted. The Most Illustrious Sister and 5th Year law student Samaira C. Maba delivered the seminar in the Visayan vernacular so that the local people will have a better grasp re the salient of points of the innovative Writ of Kalikasan.

“As law students, we should not confine ourselves to in-house fraternity activities only. We have to give back to the community using our knowledge in law and whatever resources we have. Hopefully, BSL will come back with a thousand more propagules and a more extensive lecture—this time, to a larger audience.”, says Most Illustrious Brother Jalanie A. Puno.

The activity was in cooperation with the DENR through the assistance of Benjie C. Jumawan, Chief PAWCS, Barangay Hinaplanon Chairman Veronico Echavez, Councilor Rio M. Gonzaga, Mr. Erlito Echavez and the Hinaplanon local government unit.

It must also be remembered that aside from community works, BSL also conducted  “The Brasstacks: The Journey: Crossroads of Becoming a Lawyer”, a bar exam seminar at the Nursing Conference Hall last July 10 at MSU-IIT.

*Editor’s Note: This article was written by Moumina Sheryne Domadalug for The Nexus, the official magazine of the Mindanao State University College of Law - Iligan Extension Volume 13, Issue No. 2 with me, JR Lopez Gonzales as the Editor-in-Chief.

Picture Credits:
Si Kaka Mia's FB Photo Album.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or... Naruto?
by Shannevie Krista Villarta*

Former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) has recently become headline in every news in the Philippines. Having been included in the immigration watch list upon order of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Mrs. Arroyo pleaded for a TRO before the Supreme Court to lift her ban to travel abroad for her medical treatment there.

On the very day the Supreme Court lifted the travel ban order, Mrs. Arroyo with her different scheduled departure tried to leave the country. DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima, however, insisted that she hasn’t received a copy of the TRO and that she instructed the Immigration officials as they were under her direct orders to prevent the Arroyos (GMA and her husband) from leaving the country. The Supreme Court (SC) ruling said that the TRO was immediately executory, and any attempt to block it will result in contempt. But Sec. De Lima was firm in her resolve that even if she receives a copy of the TRO, the DOJ is still entitled to file a motion for reconsideration (MR). She also said her action does not constitute contempt since she merely used a legal remedy which is the filing of an MR, especially since the justices of the SC were not unanimous in the issuance of the TRO (a vote of 8-5).

Upon the other hand, the highly regarded opinion of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was expressed in her interview-reaction regarding the said issue. She opined that the issue was focused more on its political aspect forgetting the fact that GMA’s right to travel is one of a constitutional issue, plain and simple. According to her, as a general rule, a person has a right to travel. Exception is in three cases, but we don’t know what these cases are because Congress has never defined what is national security, public safety, and public health. Only the Congress, and even the Supreme Court, can tell us what these three exceptions are.

In the language of the Constitution, national interest, for which ground GMA’s right to travel is being barred upon hinges on, is not a part of the exception. That is why for her, the SC ruling is correct.

*Editor’s Note: This article was written by Shannevie Krista Villarta for The Nexus, the official magazine of the Mindanao State University College of Law - Iligan Extension Volume 13, Issue No. 2 with me as the Editor-in-Chief.

Picture Credit:
Taking one's own life is reflected in ilustrado times. Simoun, one of Rizal’s characters in El Filibusterismo committed suicide perhaps in order to escape being tortured by his enemies, or out of desperation and despondency. Earlier in the novel, Juli likewise committed suicide to escape the amorous advances of the randy Padre Camorra.

In the novel, Rizal simply stated that Basilio learned that Maria Clara had died before noontime and he told Simoun about it. On the box-office hit Jose Rizal directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Rizal’s sweetheart’s death was interpreted as suicide also by jumping off the church window like what Juli did.

Suicide, the process of purposely ending one’s own life, was always viewed negatively in most culture. Rizal was even candid in reflecting this as an occurrence in the Spanish times less than two centuries ago. It may vary to some culture but nevertheless, major religions and culture are against this practice.

Right now, the suicide of Vina Marie del Rosario from Iloilo is highlighted on the headlines as this graduating nursing student seem not able to take life's challenges anymore thus jumping off from the mall's third storey. Exactly two years ago, a senior AB Sociology student at MSU-IIT ended his life through hanging. The said reasons were failed lovelife and grades. That made him guy number 5, in the unusually long string of MSU-IITians ending their lives while still in their pursuit of a college degree in the year 2009. A few months back, a freshman here took his life by jumping off the overpass just in front of the campus. While it may be true that almost each year a student here commits suicide, this year’s case with 5 deaths sets the record for most suicide deaths.
I think I know why the Devil is happy.
I have to concede that this has also been the case in other universities, too. But suicides do not generally mean that people really want to die. It only means that they have more pain than they can cope with as of the moment. The heavy weights piling on their shoulder made it hard for them. The humorous Bollywood movie, “3 Idiots” has even depicted a guy who hanged himself upon learning that he can’t make it to the graduates’ roll because of a failed project.

Unknown to many, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death worldwide with millions of people doing it. Statistics show that 10 million to 20 million attempts it annually. Even in the Philippines with a low suicide rank of 89 in the world, the devastation it creates makes it a very concerning public-health issue.

In the study of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the past 17 years in the country, there were 848 suicides with nearly 60% done by males. Sifting through the pages of a sociology book, I’ve learned that while it is true that more males kill themselves, women are far more likely than men to try and commit suicide. Men succeed more often for women usually choose poison, cutting wrists, or other “gentler” methods that don’t always work, or that work slowly, while men are more likely to use a gun or some other quick, violent method.

Eventhough we Filipinos pride ourselves being the 14th happiest country in the world two years ago; the presence of 2.5 suicides in every 100,000 is still upsetting. The statistics on suicide in the Philippines, I believe, may not be accurate. Most of the time, the suicide is not reported due to stigma. Our society is very good at sweeping truth under the carpet in the name of family honor.

Asians, in general account to 60% of all the suicide deaths in the world. Two of the countries with relatively huge suicide rates are Japan and South Korea. It can be observed that these countries have a very high level of competition that starts right from childhood. The Oriental culture seems to have this embedded in itself.

Emile Durkheim, the French sociologist, argued that either excessive or deficient levels of integration and regulation lead to four "ideal types" of suicide. First is the egoistic type which is the result of too little social integration. Second type is altruistic; the consequence of excessive integration, such as deaths of a Kamikaze pilot, ohka (human plane bombs), hara-kiri, or kaiten (human torpedoes). Thirdly, anomic type arises due to too little regulation or the shattering of ties with the society (e.g. divorce or unemployment). And the most common is the fatalistic type where there is an excessive regulation coupled with high individual needs to control one’s environment (this is where college students qualify because of failure to pass a decisive exam).

With this issue split open, this entry would look into some basic facts on this public-health matter. In its simplest sense, it is when pain exceeds pain-coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result. People feel like doing it to escape from a situation that seemed impossible to deal with. They feel there is no other solution; no hope left. Other reasons could either be financial or personal (relationship problem, low self-esteem, etc.) or due to a mood disorder. But generally, they have depression.

Depression is a brain disorder that affects your thoughts, moods, feelings, behavior and physical health. Experts believe depression may be caused by imbalances in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Imbalances in three neurotransmitters – serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine – seem to be linked to depression. Neurotransmitters also seem to help regulate the secretion of hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, melatonin and endorphins, which are also thought to affect mood and emotion. But again, the exact biological mechanism is not known. And whether changes in hormone levels are a cause or an effect of depression is unclear.

There are four main types of depression according to Mayo Clinic Health Letter (1998). Major depression is a disorder characterized by a mood disturbance lasting more than two weeks. Symptoms include overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief and loss of interest or pleasure in activities you usually enjoy. If not treated, an average episode of major depression lasts from six to 18 months. Apparently, the risk of suicide increases drastically when the depression is not treated.

Dysthymia is a less severe but more continuous form of depression. It lasts for at least two years and often more than five years. Symptoms are not disabling, and periods of dysthymia can alternate with short periods of feeling normal.

Some people with depression have recurrent cycles of depression and mania (or elation). This is called a bipolar disorder where it involves emotions of both extremes, or poles. This disorder also called as manic-depressive, affects judgment and can cause problems, such as spending money recklessly or making unwise decisions. Some people have bursts of increased creativity and productivity during manic phase.

Finally, reduced sunlight cause depression what scientists call as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). No kidding. Reduced levels of sunlight may increase the level of melatonin which controls the mood in the brain. That’s the reason why more people take their own lives during winters or cold rainy nights.

How then, can we diagnose and eventually prevent suicide? In its most basic sense, one must first find a way to reduce the pain. And secondly, find a way to increase the coping resources. Still according to Mayo Clinic Health Letter (1998), to diagnose depression, the doctor may perform physical exam which includes tests to rule out conditions that can cause depression-mimicking symptoms. If the doctor sees signs, he would then refer one to a psychiatrist.

The two hallmarks of depression are; 1) Loss of interest in normal daily activities (anhedonia) and (2) Depressed mood. In addition, for a doctor to diagnose depression most of these signs and symptoms must also be present most of the day, nearly every day for at least two weeks: sleep disturbances, significant weight loss or gain, agitations or slowing of body movements, fatigue, low self-esteem, thoughts of death, impaired thinking or concentration, and loss of libido.

If you think you have depression, steps can be made to overcome thoughts of ending one’s life. Seeing doctor regularly is a must. Medications can be taken as advised by the physician. Participate in normal activities and don’t ever become isolated. Taking care of oneself through diet and exercise can reduce risk of depression and finally, avoid abuse of alcohol and recreational drugs.

While we often hear people saying that “This country makes me crazy!”, I still do believe it’s one lame reason for ending one’s life. Life in general was made to serve as a challenging puzzle. In the words of my ever-favorite comedian George Carlin: “The whole essence of life is not dying”. I know you're well aware that we're overpopulated but please don't kill yourself... and don't even think about doing it.

Picture Credits:
Video capture from Word of the Lourd.
Suicide picture from