Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Tale of a Butterfly

As the 2016 Election comes near, it is expected that Political Butterflies will be flying with its colorful wings.
Remember, that before butterflies transformed to what they are now, they were once caterpillars which gnawed and devoured green and healthy leaves, like pests having a party in a vibrant tree.
A butterfly may cover their once opportunistic attitude and flaunt their colorful wings to blind everyone in the garden, jumping from one flower to another, friendly and joyfully sipping sweet nectars, like sharing a cup of coffee or tea to some like the flies and the bees.
Gently flapping its wings gracepoely and entice every creature that its presence in the garden made the surroundings more ideal and happy. To deceive others, the beautiful butterfly covers its flaws by denouncing its old self and makes foe with the tree that was its shelter as ugly and its leaves unpleasant and unhealthy.
So the butterfly which lived in the tree, leaves with an angry heart, throwing foul odors and malicious scents at the source where it once fed and lived.
And so the gentle butterfly has metamorphosize to what is now a furious BITTERFLY.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wisdom from a Banana Leaf

Sometime on September 2012, together with 10 community leaders we stayed in Malaybalay for few days to attend to some engagements with our government partners.

SOLED KI was invited by the Department of Agriculture, NOMIARC and the partners from the province to join the Farmers Field Day. It was a gathering of different farmers around the region, including the indigenous peoples to learn new agricultural technology. For the leaders of SOLED KI, they took it as a venue to engage potential partners with the hope of building collaborations with them.

Every night is a time for serious discussion on anything that concerns the indigenous peoples. Concerns on livelihood, land tenure, food security, education, health, environment and "klaymet sins"; But one thing that caused them the most serious concern: the banana leaf.

Matigsalug leaders share a meal over a banana leaf. The person who prepares the food equally divided the rice and the viand to assure that each one has good share. After the meal, nothing is left wasted but the used leaf.

During meal time, as our boarding house lacks enough utensils, the most logical way to share our meals together was to look for a banana leaf, the most reliable and easily available.

After few meals together, one of the leaders complained that we almost finished up all the good leaves and they fear that the owner will reprimand us for taking the good leaves. Thus, the next meal would mean pushing one another who will take the banana leaves as everyone fears of being reprimanded.

Then one of the leaders calmly said, "Now i realize how hard it is to live in the city. Its giving us a hard time just to look for banana leaves. Had it been in the mountains, we can have as much banana leaves we need without fear of getting reprimanded by the owners. I can't imagine that only a banana leaf can give us very serious problem".

And everyone burst out in laughter.

Yet after the laughter and the horsing around subsided, we realized that yes, it was a serious remark that left us with something to ponder.

A single banana leaf, giving a serious problem to the indigenous leaders.

Looking deeper, yes a single banana leaf can explain concerns on livelihood, agriculture, health, education, environment and climate change, and obviously, food security.

The Last of the Matigsalug Cotton-Weavers

Today, while I was asking how are the elders in the community are going, Datu jimboy handed me a woven cloth given to me by Iney. He said the old woman was crying when she handed the cloth as if the elder bidding goodbye to the craft she has lived her life so well. The elder woman has been complaining of joints pains and failing vision.

Iney looking from the "window" of her little hut.
Iney, as she is fondly called by everyone in the community is one of the few remaining traditional weavers of the Matigsalug tribe. Faithful to her craft, she dedicates her time preparing the cotton thread, then setting up the design, then on her back-strap loom she rides with full authority despite her frail body, and once again slowly fulfill her dedication to her craft.

During community visits, she would call me in my local name "Umatung", which means " a man with big body".
She wold then ask me if I was able to bring a dye, a thread or her favorite "manika" leaves, tobacco and betel nut. Chewing a "mamaen" or a betel nut is still widely practiced among the Matigsalug elders.

Iney meticulously choosing the right cotton bulb, then drying for the desired moisture and working on the spindle to make the thread.

Few leaves of manika or tobacco will lighten her mood. Then she would instruct me to visit her home to see her unfinished craft. If it happens that she kept a finished woven cloth, she would hand it to me and then later would ask me to buy her some sugar, which most of the time I readily oblige.

Iney wishes that the young women will get interested in the craft that their elders have taught them. 

Iney on her back-strapped loom patiently spends her time weaving. Her deformed body could have been due to osteoporosis. Her son, Bong-bong recalled that a couple of year ago, Iney started to bend her back permanently. Bong-bong attributed Iney's condition to the back-breaking activities that her mother also spent on over the years.

Some few years ago, such weaving practice have been dead for so long. Until an renown anthropologists, in the person on Dr. Erlinda Burton rediscovered the cotton weaving practice of the community after investigating on the presence of cotton plants in the community. Asked on its utility, the people referred to the "habel" the woven cloth that they make into a moga, the traditional Matigsalug dress. Getting more curious on the weaving process, Dr. Burton sought for support from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to conduct further research on the craft, and gradually putting pieces together until the prototype bamboo looms were produced by one of the elder artisan, Amey, the older brother of Iney. When several tools were made ready, 20 younger women were identified to be trained by Iney. IN the end, there were six (6) women who finished the training sessions.

However, until today, revitalizing the importance of cotton weaving as a cultural treasure among the Matigsalug people remains a challenge as women seem to devote their time working in the farms to earn daily wage to support their families everyday needs.

The leaders of the community are still exploring for ways to get younger women to find viable economic value on their weaving tradition. They hope that the younger women will fulfill the dreams of Iney to leave them the skills.

Despite her old age and physical challenges, Iney is hopeful that the women will continue weaving, not only for economic reason but for the love of the craft and their traditional systems.

Being away from the community for a long time, I have been excited to go back to the community and see Iney in her small hut, smiling her way as she patiently weave some of her last cotton cloth.

May Iney's craft be passed on to younger Matigsalug women as a legacy of those gone before her.

May the last of the Matigsalug cultural masters become an inspiration to more indigenous women and youth.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


For the past years, I've been moving around from one place to another. So many times I was amused of literally living on my back pack, it being my mobile closet and my "office". I was amazed one time of having to hop into a habal-habal, jeepney, tryke, bus, taxi, airplane and pedicab all in the same day. I was amazed with the thought that with my movements, one will be having a hard time catching in attempt to follow me.

And things change. Now after a bout of being physically compromised, I have to take things slow. I have to let go some of the things I love to do and learn to value the essence of a more restful sedentary life. From a life of fast and carefree leaps, to a more careful and responsible steps for a shared future.

I am missing the simple life in the communities and the thought of having to eventually part scares me but I have to face something far more important to me. And I believe that wouldn't make me selfish but actually, I can be, if I have to. After all, its only with such reason that one can be selfish about. :)

A blessed 2013 ahead!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Social Education

Some years ago, I got hold of a film titled, Not One Less. Set in a rural Chinese village.
Now Im watching "The First Grader", about an 84-year old African man who study first grade among 5-7 years old African Kids.

Like a  fern extending its way out from the soil to embrace a wider experience of the world. Thus for me is social education- a process of raising consciousness among the people to make them freer to decide and work towards their aspirations.

And this has brought me back in early 2000 when I was then an Adult Literacy Facilitator among the Talaandig IPs in the hinterlands of Bukidnon. One significant person I met then was Robert, an 18-year old guy whos never been to school. And there I saw a young man, with the perseverance and dedication to learn how to read, write and do simple math. Robert has become my buddy and a good friend in the mountains, joining me in my walks and my horse rides. I was so happy to see Robert progressed to learn to write his name and able to read from simple sentences to paragraphs.
Young indigenous children spends the afternoon playing basketball  in their makeshift court.
After our six-month program, Robert was accommodated as a Grade 3 student in the public school. However, he was not able to pursue his education has his family he moved to CDO to find work. Robert ended up as a pedicab driver in the city in order to help support his family. He visited me back in the mountains once, and he told me about his life in the city. So different from the usual grind in the mountains but he remain proud of how he learned to read, write and do math.
These instances immortalized Robert in my memory:
Me: Robert, taga-i ko ug example sa word nga nagsugod sa letrang A (aaah)
Robert (proudly: aaawwwl (OWL)
Me: (hapit nabalintong!)
Another instance:
Me: Robert, tagai ko ug word na nagsugod sa letrang "L"..."eeelll"
Robert: (proudly again) Sir, el-lepant! (ELEPHANT)
Me: hapit ko nadat-ugan sa elephant! (And there, Robert taught me the value of phonetics)
On sentence construction:
Me: (read a full sentence) Ug karon Robert, asa nato ibutang ang comma?
Robert: Sir, sa salug!
Me: (and indeed, I was floored!) Hagsa ko sa salug!

Looking back on these instances, I remembered in the early days of our Adult Literacy Classes then when I told my students, "Inside this classroom, what we shall learn first is self-confidence; that is to be open to speak up your mind and share whatever ideas you have. Then more learning will come after"

Learning basic reading and writing their names makes adult learners more confident with themselves. Spelling their name, they said, makes them more confident when they vote or they transact with lowlanders in the barangay centers.

And seeing my adult learners then, both young and old, some even nursing their babies while attending classes while they stand in class to share their thoughts, that alone provided me the motivation to walk to and fro the school everyday, under the pour of heavy rain or under the scorching heat of the sun.

For the last two years, I've been  involved in providing access to basic education among the Matigsalug indigenous children somewhere in the Salug River. From a single community school., we have grown to support ten (10) schools catering pre-school learners with the hope of equipping them with enough competencies to elbow towards higher education.

Poverty in the countryside, the distance of the school facilities from the communities, the hazards and risk of crossing rivers and the long walks under the rains are factors that hindered indigenous children to access basic education. It is the task therefore to bring the facility closer to the communities by implementing alternative mode of deliveries as well as going beyond the formal education towards functional and vocational training and learning strategies.

Being a social educator was an experience that I hold dear in my heart, and its the same inspiration why I'm still working with the communities with the goal of providing access to education among the indigenous children. I pray that we will be able to build more community schools in the remote villages of Bukidnon.

Pandayaan kay hu Magbabaya.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Dimas Pundato as OIC for ARMM?

Why Dimas Pundato as OIC for ARMM?

The fruit of democracy that we have now is a product of self-less dedication of freedom-loving people who have dedicated their lives to fight against the evil of Martial Law, human rights violation, and corruption.

The public should know that the Ninoy and Cory Aquino and Dimas and Naima Pundato were pillars of peace and democracy. They have united to fight for freedom and the ills of governance during Martial Law. Before the homecoming of Ninoy, the MNLF-RG, headed by Dimas Pundato met with Ninoy Aguino in Malaysia where Dimas Pundato presented MNLF-RG’s commitment to support Ninoy in the struggle of re-instituting democracy in the country. The enemy of democracy may have succeeded in assassinating Ninoy, but not the spirit of freedom and the love of democracy that has put the hearts of the Filipino in flame, thus the EDSA Revolution in 1986. When Pres. Cory assumed the Presidency, peace negotiation with MNLF started and eventually made way of asking Dimas Pundato, through Sen. Pimentel and then Ambassador Emmanuel Pelaez, who are both Mindanawon, to negotiate with Dimas Pundato to help the newly instituted democratic government. Without any condition, and with the support of the DND Sec FVR and USec Ermita, Pundato came back to Philippines with renewed hope to help alleviate the lives of the Moro people and bring peace especially in Mindanao.

In the last nine years under the previous administration, our country has somewhat lived in uncertainty, due to issues on corruption, bribery, election fraud and illegal dealings, all remnants of a pseudo-martial law, the prevalence untold violence and was capped by the infamous massacre in ARMM. With issues of corruption, cheating and warlordism, it has not only hurt our economy but the people’s sensibilities as well. Thus the people were awakened and we have won anew. Now, with PNoy in the reign and with the vision of establishing back good governance in the government, Dimas Pundato can serve as a historical connect of what PNoy's parents have hardly fought for, that is to re-establish democracy in our country.

Though coming from different faith, the Aquinos and the Pundatos share the same love for freedom and democracy. It is the same aspiration that the people of ARMM are still aspiring for. Thus, the people of ARMM deserves no less, but a man who is faithful and true in his undertakings, no taint of controversy and ill-giving in public service, one who understands by heart the divide of ARMM and Mindanao, and a honest intention to provide better life for his people. Dimas Pundato's simplicity in his lifestyle, his strong solidarity with the people, and his desire to selflessly serve the Filipino people, is a quality of leader that should be given to ARMM.

PNoy has just to consider the man, who is one of his kind. One who has the heart to work towards Matuwid na Daan unconditionally. As a Christian, we are taught that "There is no greater love than to give one's life for a friend". And I believe, it is the same spirit that Ninoy and Cory dedicated their lives for the democracy of our country which we now experience. It is the legacy of PNoy’s parents to us democracy-loving Filipinos and it is in such spirit that the Filipino people have manifested in putting a trusted leader back into the highest position of the land through PNoy. And I hope that it will be on the same spirit, that PNoy has to consider Dimas.

Knowing Dimas Pundato, I am humbled to hear from the man himself, his struggles in the field, the battles he had overcome, the sacrifices he had done, leaving his family behind, to pursue a greater call, which is to fight for freedom in pursuit for his love for democracy.

I am confident enough, that this prodding of the some Mindanaons- Christians, Moslems and the Lumads alike, to nominate Dimas Pundato to lead the transitional ARMM government even just for 21- months, will pave better governance structure to drive development in the most marginalized region in Mindanao.

We are asking PNoy, just for 21-months, consider Dimas Pundato and give ARMM the chance to have the leader they are worthy of.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


From deep slumber, I have awaken.
I was lost but have found my way.
Ive been here before and this is my home.
I shall settle back here.
To find the peace I long for.

I am reborn.
And today starts another lifetime.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

National Insecurity

Here is a news posted ay YAHOONews.

I am particularly hooked on the last paragraph and I believe that is really the reason behind this news. A simple propaganda doing mind-conditioning not only locally but even in the global arena. Playing it as if GMA is going to be the next Benazir Bhutto, or the East Timor President who were both recently attacked by assassins. And that gives GMA a wider and larger political value.

GMA's strategist-magicians are in the game again. It has been always like this. Whenever there is an incoming mobilization or rallies, the administration never failed to counter it by throwing whatever propaganda they could think and painting a blame to militants and terrorists. It is the same old tunes they are playing. And they are very effective on that. Call it a noble way to preserve national security. So can we conclude that the kidnapping of Lozada last week was part of the game and done all in the name of assuring national security?

Actually, a Martial Law has been already implemented without them even declaring it and worst, some of us not even minding it. Because GMA's administration knew for a fact that it is only without declaring Martial Law that GMA will survive until 2010. They already learned from the past. Why declare it when they can implement it anyway subtly.

In the headlines today, the LGU leaders publicly shown their statement of support for GMA. As early as last night, high alert was imposed and strict checkpoints were established along entry points going inside the Greater Manila Area.

Why are they so paranoid? Are they really thinking that the idea of throwing her out is a possibility?

Or maybe they are afraid because they knew that probably there were truth in the irregularities that Lozada has been testifying against some government personalities and even implicating the First Gentleman. Now they are on the panic mood because they know that the truth can move mountains.

If thats what they are really thinking, then they should also prepare a private chopper aprked in Malacanang which would bring the First Family to Clark then take a chartered plane going to Hawaii and enjoy the beautiful white beaches without the inconvenience of the protesting masses!

However, as I see it, the palace should not be afraid on these mass mobilizations. They should be confident enough that those who calls for GMA's resignation or ouster will not be successful. They should get rid of those paranoia which often leads them to overkill counter-measures which makes them more unpopular to the people.

Anyway, the Filipino people dont care much this days. We are already numb, apathetic and getting dumber as ever. We've staged several people power already and in a way it has lost popularity nowadays. Why join rallies when we can simply sit back and wait until the time when we get our VISA so we can immediately go abroad and live away from this national mess.

Nevermind about the Church's call for GMA's resignation. Anyway, there are no charismatic personalities anymore like Cardinal Sin who can command or influence people and draw a strong crowd.

Nevermind the text power of the youth. For sure they will be very busy texting their sweet and juicy Valentine greetings to their friends and love ones today. They will be out of credit few moments from now and they wouldnt want to spare a peso for another worthless text brigade. In fact most of them are still high on their lovapalooza moments last night.

Nevermind the leftist groups, most of the people dont trust them anyway. Having a left-led revolution is very unpopular now and seen to have a very little chance of success.

Ow! how about the right-ists? Its not a thing to worry. Anyway, the adminsitration has the assured loyalty of the generals, as they should always be. Most of their retired seniors are now even very busy in their given government positions. AndTrillanes? He has been also given a seat but in Bilibid though due to a stubborn and miscalculated action in the past. And he will be staying there until the 2010 elections.

And the Civil Society? They are not anymore a united number to pose a strong force. Actually, they have been acting civilly among each other these days as they campaign each block's agenda independently.

And the Media? Don't worry because they are busy spending their energies in their respective channel wars. They are preoccupied outdoing each other to prove in Court about some anomalies in the rating scheme. How can we trust the bearer and protector of truth when they themselves are in squabble in trying to outdo each other's untruth? They have no enough airtime anymore to cover those mass movements and mobilizations. As long as they are busy protecting and declaring their pride as members of their respective mother station, they wouldn't find a time to uncover the truth when they are preoccupied of covering one.

Ow! You are asking about the Opposition? Thanks for reminding as I have already sent them to oblivion. You know, most of them are already busy preparing for the 2010 elections and the wannabies are still negotiating themselves in to be the standard bearer. Actually they are still confused as to what standard they are to bear. Will it be Erap's or JDV's or Lacson's or Villar's or Roxas'. See! They are in confusion as to how they should position to achieve more political gains.

So see, there is nothing to worry about. Relax. Take a deep breath. All things are in place, everything is under control. Why worry? A strong republic doesn't need a paranoid leadership.

And if by time and through divine providence I'm proven wrong in all of these and in the coming days being labeled as an amatuer political animal with misplaced and inaccurate judgement, then, I would humbly bow down and take the shame. Then after a moment, sporting a malicious grin and with great pride I would say: "Tssk..tssk...I was wrong! Thanks be to God!"