Sunday, November 23, 2008

ROBERT HASS capturing human nature....

...from his 2008 Pulitzer prize winning collection, Time and Materials....

Though mostly when I think of myself
at that age,
I am standing at my older brother's closet,
studying the shirts,
convinced that I could be absolutely transformed
by something I could borrow.
And the days churned by,
navigable sorrow.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Manila’s new discovery: VERONICA’S CLOSET

What happened to me in the Sixties was so major and so worldwide and so huge, there's no way I can repeat it. But in a way, I had nothing to do with it, it just took me over. It was bizarre, it was weird, and I had no control over it. I don't think anyone could have planned what happened to me. – Twiggy

Twiggy, the 60s fashion icon, overshadowed the creators of the mini-skirt Mary Quant and André Courréges – among the top fashion designers of the 1960s. Andre made “colorblock” style dresses a definitive feature of the era.
Mary made London among the world’s fashion capitals. Twiggy as the fashion model has become part of the popular culture while the designers’ fame has faded and many of them totally forgotten.

In the Philippines, we have the tendency to care for the image only and not the creator. We remember the singer of the song but not the composer, we remember the actor in a good film but not the director. We remember Twiggy but not the designers who created her image.

After decades of fashion evolution, only the image of Twiggy and the style she carried survives. All the image creators have long been forgotten. The image is so powerful that its influence is still very much visible in today’s fashion choices. In fact, it’s Twiggy’s enduring elegance that became the inspiration of the lady behind Veronica’s Closet, our very own Rona Valente. This young fashion engineer based in Dumaguete City is starting to make waves with the three lines available through Rona’s online boutique, the Veronica’s Closet ( most popular line is the VERONICA collection of dresses that are pre-owned, vintage finds and altered; this is the high-end version of the “ukay-ukay” but with a surprisingly low price range. Manila corporate women are starting to keep Rona’s text messaging (cp # 09165811421) loaded with orders. They love the easy way to shop through order forms available on the Veronica’s closet website. Another line which is still high-end ukay-ukay under the VENTAJA collection carries pre-owned items, in good condition, unaltered. Rona’s touch makes an item fresh and fully-sanitized the moment it gets to the new owner’s closet. Missing buttons or broken zipper tooth are an opportunity for Rona to give the dress a better look with more fashionable replacements. She even provide belts to give the needed accent. Free fashion consultation includes the right shoes to go with the outfit, the hairstyle, the jewel and more. Rona’s generosity is that of a fashion angel.

The Rona sense of style has total freedom as she gathers items under VESTIDAS. One can shop for brand new, not pre-owned items. Rona who is a civil engineer by profession has always been a fashion genius. She can transform an unremarkable piece of textile into a cosmopolitan statement. She feels frustrated when she is on field work for this is the time in her life when she can’t go beyond the usual. Wearing a scarf with a shirt would be out of place the moment she is surrounded by carpenters. This is why she loves Sundays, going to church for her is sincerely “giving the best look to the Master.”

Under VESTIDAS she can dream, have endless dreaming – her imagination going as fast as she mouths each possibility. She wants to revive the vintage classic Audrey Hepburn elegance and break the too formal fashion flow with the Farrah Faucet hippy chic combination.

Rona wants to put an end to the tendency to do matching with one dominant color. She would love to teach women the other brilliant options. To inspire them to carry themselves with confidence. She loves to share her Heidi Klum magic of giving one’s self a “not-too-thin and not-too-fat” packaging. She also believes that the cool aura of Drew Barrymore – charming and free-spirited – would be perfect for a University Town look.

Rona’s greatest dream is to be able to create a Filipino fashion zen for all the world to discover.

A “new life” is her gift to every woman. Her friends in Dumaguete love their finds at Veronica’s Closet, like Atty. Myrish Cadapan-and the Dejaresco twin sisters Mayen and Ellen. Ellen introduces Rona to the world via the internet with this,”... Veronica—creator and owner who we fondly call Rona—has the gift of transforming simple, mundane, sometimes even ugly stuff into something beautiful, useful and trendy. Fortified with passion and sense of style, Rona painstakingly roams around the ukayans and delves into clusters and clusters of clothes. I had the chance to see her at work once, and it amazed me that she didn’t seem to get tired of all the rummaging she did....”

Veronica’s Closet is all about “putting a piece of the past in your present” and it’s becoming the most rewarding discovery for the busy corporate ladies of Manila who have no time to shop. Beyond Rona’s expectations, a lady visual merchandizer from Fashion 21 Manila was her first actual visitor here in Dumaguete. The moment she opened her closet, the visitor was like in panic buying. The following week, the lady came back with her mother.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Top 5 Events on Silliman’s Founders Day

"You don't have to have special effects or a naked woman or violence to make a good movie." - Emmanuel Priou, producer of March of the Penguins

I have noticed that big-budgeted events in Dumaguete usually become disturbingly heavy with their fiesta tendencies – gentle elegance totally gone. It’s ‘too much’ when you see a stage that overpowers the performer, it’s “too much” when two “politicians” outdo each other with Dolphy-inspired wit, its “too much” when the introduction is longer than the main part, it’s “too much” when the emcee will try so hard to cover every dead air and mouthing like a jologs Wowowee host….
The celebration of the 107th Founders Day of Silliman University banked more on human talent than on the financial source to define excellence. In fact, the events which were visibly commercial suffered from lack of the creative force to mute or tame their “ visual noise.”
The perpetually-Oscar-inspired creative mind of Ian Rosales Casocot actually works as a one-man team. He can produce a good event in just a night or two: a good idea, a workable script, a well-chosen creative team, a vigilant and secure (not suffering from attention-deficiency) director and a realistic time-table. I hope every event organizer was there to watch the mounting of the 2008 Outstanding Sillimanian Awards – it was an event that almost flowed smoothly from the working force backstage to the actual performers. I salute the awardees who , except for one, were sensitive to time and showed subtle humor in their acceptance speech. A slight interruption caused by a technical glitch was within the span of patience of our dignified audience. The MTV-inspired profiles of the awardees on power-point, the music of Dr. Elizabeth Susan Vista Suarez and the Campus Choristers and the intelligent intermission number - Marge Evasco’s “Sagada Stills in a Floating World” set in music by Reginald Bernaldez - it was a Seurat with the movement of Dali. All these made the 2008 Outstanding Sillimanian Awards easily the best event last August.
For sheer entertainment, all you need is a good performer, good choice of music based on audience appeal and a production design that blends with the performer. Ryan Villanueva, son of this year’s Outstanding Sillimanian awardee in the field of Community Health Service Dr. Romy Villanueva, was the sunshine at night last Founders Day. This Filipino-American artist was so popular, he was hopping from one stage to another and from one top bar to another. But his best performance was in Payag sa Likod – when the intimacy between the good-looking and talented performer and his audience was picture perfect. He started on common ground: the music from The Legend Bob Marley. The easy flow of his own compositions - Chillin’ Right Here, The Kite, Many Things to Learn and his own arrangement of Usahay - endeared him to Dumaguete audience.
Bayanihan was a good welcome for many of our campus balikbayans when they watched the homecoming performance of the Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company dubbed as “Surging to the Crest”. Our Goodwill Ambassadors to the world won championships in the many dance festivals in Europe, and their magic was seen in their program mounted at the Luce Auditorium. The grace and energy of arnis - the Filipino martial arts were incorporated in their choreography for maglalatik, the sayaw sa bangko, and singkil. Campus visitor Nenita Ponce de Léon Elphick of Harvard University Department of Art and Architecture expressed pride in her Filipino heritage while watching the Bayanihan’s soaring at the Luce.
An intellectual exercise was among the best events last Founders Day: the International Symposium on Nursing which echoed the Founders Day theme: “Silliman Education and its Global Reach and Relevance.” The keynote speech of the Chief Scientist for Nursing and Midwifery of the World Health Organization Dr. Jean Yan (2003 Outstanding Sillimanian awardee) and the presence of the robot Stan were among the highlights. The delegates from Iloilo City whom I had the opportunity to send-off thanked me for their Silliman experience which to them defined the meaning of excellence in the nursing profession.
Four landmarks were named to honor leaders in Silliman’s history but the ceremonies naming the Silliman library in honor of Drs. Robert and Metta Silliman had the cutting edge: the presence of the honoree’s foster daughters and former students. It was a simple but a meaningful gathering. It started with poetry reading of the works of the students of Dr. Metta Jacobs Silliman which included that of country’s literary icons Edith Lopez Tiempo, Myrna Peña-Reyes and Aida Rivera Ford. The anecdotes and responses from Eleanor Funda Sardual and Emma Cole Teves, foster children of Bob and Metta Silliman, were inspiring and entertaining testimonies of the couple’s missionary care.
Special Mention: The best time to watch the Miss Silliman Beauty Pageant is always during the pre-pageant segment. It was a good idea this year to bring back the pre-pageant as a morning event. In the 1980s they had them also in the morning at SC IIO which had media people as panelists. The 2008 pre-pageant was held at the Luce Auditorium and it was a showcase of a quality student production. The speeches and the Q & A’s with the candidates this year were very impressive – it greatly overshadowed the Q & A of the Binibining Pilipinas which had the Janina San Miguel disaster. The talent presentations were not more-than-usual but the show’s entertainment value was saved with the medley of songs from the College of Performing Arts talents during the intermission: Jon Quizo, Krista Beatingo , Flintzel Diao and Abby Yap. Many of our visitors from Manila and abroad were saying, pageant organizers can actually get good ideas from the pre-pageant. The hosts Noel and Treana did so well.
Please don’t ask which events were in my worst list for they don’t deserve even a mention. As they say, the worst criticism is the total absence of a feedback.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I had my moment of silence as we mounted the 107th Founders Day of Silliman U....

While doing a research on Professor Emeritus DR. METTA JACOBS ARMSTRONG SILLIMAN, I was drowning into a Silliman river of poetry and lit critique by her former students: Edith Lopez Tiempo, Eleonor Funda Sardual, Aida Rivera Ford... And MYRNA Peña-Reyes, my new icon in poetry. I love her river poems. I will have my own river poem soon. My name Moses leads me to a lot of rivers but I have this dream of a drama along the River Nile: my own ashes flowing as history should... and if no one will be there with the chosen clay jar, please bring the jar home where the river of my childhood dreams runs as great....

San Miguel Picnic

Sprawled on the rocks where water thrashed
I felt the river tug at my back,
jerk at my feet and drop
into a pool splashing with children.
The river sang stone
while children filled their hands with light.
Framing the sky
birds balanced on bamboo spires.
Snug in my stone and water pew
I held the foaming bottle high
and turned the sun
like amber in my hand.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The 107th Founders Day Theme

The true test of the… ideal is whether we’re able to recognize our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time. Whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them. Whether chance of birth or circumstance decides life’s big winners and losers, or whether we build a community where, at the very least, everyone has a chance to work hard, get ahead, and reach their dreams.


Many of today’s speeches are inspired by the call of the new icon from America, presidentiable Barack Obama. In fact, when the initial meeting was called for Silliman’s 107th Founders Day theme, I reviewed some of the lines that he has uttered that truly made an impact. Hope on the possibility of a major societal change is rekindled with Obama’s “yes, we can!” call. Even the “In Christ, I Can!” theme of our University Christian Life Emphasis week is inspired by this call. And so were the discussions on this year’s Founders Day theme. With President Ben S. Malayang III’s final touch, the 2008 FD Committee headed by Prof. Carlos Plaridel M. Magtolis has chosen , “Silliman Education: Its Global Reach And Relevance” as theme of the 107th Founders Day.

It’s a theme that calls for a global direction. It is actually not something new to Silliman University for on its first year of operation as Silliman Institute in 1901, the classroom already had an international flavor. Aside from the Filipino students, the teachers were the American missionary Laura Cooks Hibbard and her husband David who was the Founding President. Later, there were two Chinese pupils from Jolo and a female classmate, Ethel Peed, from the home of an American local official. By 1910, a student from mainland China enrolled and two others from Bangkok in addition to students from the Chinese families of Cebu, Manila and Zamboanga. The Sultan of Jolo and all the other prominent families from Mindanao sent their sons here. Then, more American children joined as Dumaguete became a central Missionary station. There was no time in Silliman’s history when the international flavor was not present. Silliman University was and will always be an institution with global reach.

The school year 2008-2009 opened with 8,456 students enrolled, a slight increase in enrollment over last year’s figure and the result of more students enrolled in the Basic Education program this year. We have students from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. The international population include students from Australia, Canada, Mainland China, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tibet, the USA and Vietnam.

Our alumni have entered through the Gate of Opportunity and many of them went beyond the Gate of Service. And beyond, they have maintained “global reach and relevance.”

Our alumni are our best advertisement, not just for Silliman but also for Dumaguete. Wherever they have come from, all of them think of Dumaguete as home. We are all proud of the following alumni who have made a global impact: Silliman University’s Peace Resource Center founder Dr. Al Fuertes who is the recipient of the 2008 George Mason University Teaching Excellence Award; Vice President and Senior Agency Director of Manulife Philippines Bellaflor Ledesma de los Reyes who is recognized for her outstanding performance in the corporate field and who received a 2007 Star of Excellence award at a recognition Dinner in Toronto; Macarthur "Mac" F. Corsino who took his oath as Philippine Ambassador to Cuba on June 19; and 1989 Outstanding Sillimanian awardee in the field of Medicine Dr. Eusebio C. Kho, who received the 2007 PEACE Humanitarian of the Year award from the Philippine Economic and Cultural Endowment, based in Oklahoma City. Dr. Kho has traveled far and wide giving medical assistance to the depressed areas in El Salvador, Jordan, Kuwait and the Philippines.

We are also as proud of the 2008 Outstanding Sillimanian awardees: Northern California’s Rev. Francisco “Frank” J. Beltran in the field of Specialized Ministry, Southern California’s Efren A. Cordura for inventions in package engineering (he will give a lecture on Package Design on August 14-10 AM at the Silliman University Audio-Visual Theater 1- the event will welcome the local manufacturers. Please contact the College of Engineering and Design for details.); New England’s Ester P. Timbancaya-Elphick in the field of Education; our very own Dr. Marjorie Evasco in the field of Creative Writing; our country’s Father of the Alternative Dispute Resolution and of the Katarungang Pambarangay Atty. Alfredo Flores Tadiar; and in the Community Health Service, we will honor Dr. Romulo G. Villanueva of National Capital Region of the USA.

O’er in high place or in lowly,

Fortune sends us joy or pain.

To our love for dear old Silliman,

Loyal shall we e’er remain.

Friday, August 01, 2008

BEAUTIES from my Hometown: The City of Cabadbaran

I want to be a person who makes a quiet difference.
- Ali MacGraw

For this week’s piece, I beg the reader’s indulgence as I write about the beauties of my hometown, many of them my close kin, of whom I am understandably proud. Silliman’s 107th Founders Day had seven beauties vying for the Miss Silliman crown on August 25 and one of top 3 winners is from my hometown.

The City of Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte had its charter celebration last July 28. In the many gatherings that I have attended, I loved that moment when I was with my own sisters, Joan Mita and Prosperity May. They were talking about their freshman year in Silliman University and how they were lured to join the Miss Silliman pageant which they had never done with their lack of self-confidence.

Joan came to Dumaguete in 1970, the year when the film Love Story introduced a new movie icon Ali MacGraw. Joan could not believe that a beauty from Mindanao could actually be noticed in this University Town where people were calling her as the “Ali MacGraw of Silliman.” As a Social Work student, she was chosen to represent the College of Arts and Sciences in the Miss Silliman pageant. The high school beauty queen of my hometown thought she would never find the courage to be in Dumaguete’s most prestigious pageant.

Prosperity May grew up being called by our father as “Miss Philippines.” Our late father would always introduce her as the most beautiful among his daughters. In our town, May also became Miss High School, like Joan. When she came to Dumaguete in 1973 as a college freshman, she was right away exposed to public attention when she was chosen to be the muse for the June 12 Independence Day city parade. The Dean of Students had chosen her to grace the parade and be the muse on the Silliman University float in the absence of the reigning Miss Silliman. Two months later, the dusky beauty from Mindanao was chosen to represent the College of Business Administration in the Miss Silliman pageant, but she felt that she wasn’t talented enough to do justice to the honor.

May’s daughter, Kara Atega Delgado, who was crowned Miss Cabadbaran in 2006 was recently crowned as Miss Silliman Headline Girl. She represented the College of Education in the 2008 Miss Silliman pageant. May was happy to hear the news on Kara’s selection. The proud mother and her sister, Joan came to Dumaguete on August 23 to witness the one who became something like a “blast-in-the-past-which-they-never-had.”

In 2001, it would have been my
niece Annaliz Atega who could have realized the old possibility when she was crowned as the Miss Centennial of the College of Education. But her busy schedule as a senior student teacher never gave her time to be in the search for Miss Silliman Centennial. Annaliz joined the Miss Cabadbaran and Miss Agusan Tourism pageants after her college graduation and won the two beauty titles in 2002.

In 1946, my father’s cousin, Patria Obsequio was crowned the first Miss Silliman. In Patria’s 2001 speech during the search for the Miss Silliman Centennial, she shared a vivid recollection of her selection: “'My story begins in June of school year 1939-1940, when I arrived here, a trifle shy but anxious to start my college education. For my parents, there could be no other school but Silliman. They sent five of us to this institution.
I was registered as a resident of Oriental Hall. It being my first time away from home, I thought I was going to be homesick, but I didn't because everyone was friendly, going out of their way to make life pleasant... In 1946, the Student Government sponsored a beauty contest which was actually more of a popularity contest. Important consideration was focused on academic grades which were scrutinized at the Registrar's Office. The selection committee inquired about our extra-curricular activities. There were no interviews, no measurment of vital statistics, no parading around in swimwear. Had there been specific contest rules followed to the letter, I would not have made it to first base. Students cast their votes at the Silliman Bookstore. After the votes were counted, results revealed that I garnered the most votes so I was then declared winner.... Our roommates were jubilant over the results. They were excited hunting gowns for us to wear during the proclamation at the Assembly Hall. A kind friend, Mercedes Mijares, loaned me her evening gown with a three-tiered skirt. During a simple program that evening, I remember vividly Henry Nicolas presented me as Miss Silliman 1946 after which he gingerly pinned the sash on me. There was no crown or coronet, no scepter, no cape not even a bouquet of roses. Yes, only a sash but it made history!'

Beyond Patria’s glory as the first Miss Silliman, our family is always associated with beauty pageants. The most popular family member who won national beauty titles was our first cousin, Veronica Atega, a pioneer in the Bayanihan Dance Company. Veth was crowned Miss Fil-Am Queen of the former Subic Naval Base on the fourth of July in 1961. Her crowning made headlines for with the honor came, as she expressed in a Philippine Daily Inquirer feature last year, “… a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet—and hold hands—with famous Hollywood actor Paul Newman who was my escort.” Veth became a favorite cover girl of magazines like the Philippine Free Press and she was also the cover girl for many of the Bayanihan albums. She was also crowned as Miss Philippine Air Force.

The 1996 Binibining Pilipinas-International Yedda Marie Mendoza Kittilstvedt is the granddaughter of my father’s sister, another Miss Cabadbaran, Basilisa Atega-Kittilstvedt. Yedda was a Camay Girl at the age of 15 and was 1st Runner-up in the Philippine Supermodel search. Yedda is now happily married to Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the present1st District Congressman of Leyte.

Basilisa's sister Prosperidad was also a Miss Cabadbaran title holder including their sister-in-law Adela, mother of Veth Atega.

In 1981, Miss Cabadbaran 1980 Jocelyn Sanchez was crowned Miss College of Business Administration and was first runner-up in the Miss Silliman beauty pageant. Joy married Nilo Bobon of Pamplona, Negros Oriental and is now a very successful entrepreneur.

Two Miss Cabadbaran beauties married two prominent members of the Amante family in Agusan: Congressman Edelmiro Atega Amante married Rosario Malbas, a Miss Cabadbaran who became Mayor of the town just like the first woman mayor of Cabadbaran Basilisa. Edelmiro's nephew Dr. Ferdinand M. Amante married Ivy Oga, a Miss Cabadbaran who belongs the prominent Calo family.

1973 Miss Journalism Marian Lim who was second runner-up in the Miss Silliman pageant is also from Agusan del Norte. Her sister, Nilda Grande was a Miss High School in Cabadbaran and was crowned Miss Agusan Tourism in 1976. Marian’s two daughters, Tonette who was Miss Engineering in 1996 and Ana who was Miss Arts and Sciences in 1996, followed their mother’s footsteps; both won the second runner-up title in the Miss Silliman pageant in their respective years.

Beyond my hometown, we take pride in the Miss Silliman title holders who are from Mindanao. A beauty from Basilan, Carlisle Dans was the first Miss High School to win the Miss Silliman crown in 1973. We have four from Davao: Leah “Jingle” Sibala in 1978, Jean Escaño in 1980, Pia Francisco in 1986 and Celynne Grace Echevarria in 2000. Dapitan City produced two queens, Jean Ramoga in 1988 and Yvonne Forster in 1995. Cherokee Dawn Esguerra of 1996 is from General Santos City and Jenny Ortega of 1999 is from Pagadian City.

The City of Cabadbaran and the province of Agusan del Norte are also home to the following who have become part of Oriental Negros’ line of beauties: Estrella Cabrera, the mother of Governor Emilio C. Macias II and wife of the late Congressman Lamberto L. Macias; Margie M. Calo who married the Hon. Doroteo Teves; Evansuenda Oga who married today’s Chamber of Commerce leader Ernie Quiamco; Agnes Cecilia Gogo-Carballo of AGC Lending Investor…. With or without a beauty title, there is one definite source of pride: many of our women have made their own valuable “…quiet difference.”

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Culture of Giving

What I know for sure is that what you give

comes back to you.

Oprah Winfrey

When Silliman University President Ben S. Malayang III made an appeal last June 26 for the Silliman and Dumaguete communities to extend help to the calamity victims in Iloilo, the picture that would motivate people to help the storm Frank-battered province was not that clear yet. Then, Former President Agustin A. Pulido called and described the sad state of the campus of Central Philippine University, Silliman’s sister school.

The entire campus is flooded as Iloilo’s two major rivers overflowed. The water came so strong that it broke into the groundfloor of the Henry Luce Library and other buildings including the University Church. Also badly damaged are dormitories where most of the students were left with nothing but their bedroom attire that night. Followed by fluctuating electricity, the internet connection was down and then, panic buying by households led to lack of food for the dormitory residents. There was no water supply. (Days later, Dr. Doris Pulido had to go to the SM Traveller’s lounge for a 30-peso shower)

President Ben’s call which was also carried through text messages and by the radio stations in Dumaguete received immediate response. On that same day, the Alumni and External Office was kept busy receiving donations until 10’o’clock in the evening. The Silliman dormitories were the first to respond. More and more angels from the Silliman and Dumaguete communities responded with food and water supply, clothing and cash donations.

Silliman University teams have made two trips since then to deliver the needed help. The first team consisting of a cargo truck and the Silliman firetruck was led by Prof. Roy Olsen de Leon who is from Iloilo, this was a heart-wrenching return home for him. Driven to tears, he felt that everyone was a victim including his own family. With the shadow of depression all over, there was no welcome awaiting the Silliman angels except the thankful Drs. Gus and Doris Pulido who were there to coordinate. Silliman firetruck driver Virgilio Valencia described the layers of mud that covered the surface of the entire campus. His team which included two SU College of Engineering faculty, was the only working force that did the needed major clean-up for three days. Some work students of CPU were asked to report to assist the team but they could only handle the minor sweeping of floors. The Silliman team, on their own initiative, decided to ease the burden by cleaning out the thick layers of muddy silt on groundfloors of buildings, with water from the CPU swimming pool which the Silliman firetruck had transported. Another problem arose, however, when Iloilo’s primary water source threatened to overflow, and attempts were made to divert the water through a man-made hole. This led, however to another major flow which crested at a record flood level, engulfing every part of Jaro district where Central Philippine University is located. The flood that came from the watershed put an end to the Silliman team’s heroic attempts, they had to leave before the water would trap them.

Mrs. Carmen Larot Rio, a Dumagueteña based in Iloilo,waited patiently for the day when the water would recede this flood-ravaged city. With no potable water available, boxes of bottled water from relatives and friends in Cebu, Manila and Dumaguete helped her survive the long days. She texted me a message of joy when at 2AM on July 5 clean water was finally distributed at intervals by the city government. But the stressful week-long ordeal had her hospitalized.

The flooding that has inundated much of the Jaro district these last few weeks is not over, as the swollen tributaries continue to threaten dozens of communities. After the initial clean-up, the evacuations, the last-minute rescues and the days of anxious waiting for the water to go down comes the long road toward recovery.

A second trip was made last July 8 with 137 boxes of food and clothing which were received by former Bacolod mayor Hon. Joy Santos-Valdez who is the current president of the Silliman alumni group in Bacolod City. The Bacolod Sillimanians have taken the responsibility of bringing these boxes to Iloilo. More boxes of food and clothing are being delivered by individual donors, families and student organizations to the Silliman Alumni and External Affairs Office.

Dumaguete’s distinctive culture of giving is very much alive. We would like to thank all those who were a part of the very successful Silliman Sagip Iloilo Drive – a manifestation of the Christian love we all share.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hari ng Negros 2008: At The Homestretch

You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are! –John Lennon

Many are still talking about the outcome of this year’s Hari ng Negros pageant—especially since the expected winners did not make it to the Final 3. Disappointed fans of this very popular male beauty pageant in Southern Philippines are asking so many questions, with some even expressing very vocal complaints. Still, all these have to be taken as signs that this year’s batch of princes is really good. Many of these handsome and very talented young men did make major splashes on stage, and no member of the board of judges could be wrong in their choices for it was too easy to find good points to believe in in any one of the prince’s winning potential.

But then again, the organizers could have given the audience a set of formidable winners if this year’s pageant had, in the first, a well-defined set of criteria and rules. The last two portions, which were selections of the top 7 and the top 3, had interview results as bases for screening—and yet the announced finalists did not reflect the quality of the actual performance of the candidates during the question-and-answer segments. Could it be that some members of the board of judges insisted on only considering stage presence and visual impact? The audience’s judgment was on the quality of the answers since the last portions were about ‘intelligence,’ as effectively stressed by the host of the pageant, Hari ng Negros 2006 Mark Xander Fabillar. But in all actuality there is no use for all these insistent queries, for in every contest one steadfast rule prevails: the decision of the judges is final and irrevocable!

One of the strong bets who failed to make to it to the final 7 later on asked me for my own evaluation of his performance. He begged for it, telling me that my judgment will give him much-needed “peace of mind.” Thus, I’m encouraged to announce my own FINAL 7 (using my own criteria of criteria of 50% visual impact, 20% talent, and 30% communication skills). Here’s my take on the potentials of the seven noteworthy princes, arranged in an order of a royal march, with the one deserving of the title Hari ng Negros presented last:

Joseph Hornido, Prince of Guihulngan. This nurse from the City of Cabadbaran, was an early favorite because his communication skills in English truly reflects his potential as our country’s export to America. (I actually questioned why a pageant involving Filipino men in the Visayas would have to be in English). His Chinese-white complexion made him look like a Korean telemovie star. Somebody whispered that he resembles Rustom Padilla during the actor’s “straight” era. A lady insisted that he is more like AJ Dee of Philippine TV. He was struggling to shine in the portions that required skills of a dancer but he managed to call attention for he was always wearing the right combination of bright and dark colors to compliment his milky-white presence. His best moment in the pageant was when he asked Mr. Silay this question during the Top 7 portion: “How will you react if you are the father of a daughter who is involved in a sex scandal?” (Mr. Guilhulngan was awarded the First Runner-up title.)

Jay Cainglet, Prince of Sagay. Jay is the youngest candidate at 17 but he had the strongest stage presence. He is the one with the body of a Prince in an Asian fantasy film. He exuded grace and strength in the dance segments. He towers over most of the candidates, yet his innocent charm makes him “the cute boy” of the pageant. He needs to work on his voice quality for a more mature impact is needed in portions that require talent in speech. He was the bet who had much passion in every part of the show. His Best in Professionalism award was a perfect citation for it’s a wonder to see a young man who is a good listener and who has the heart of a good follower

Michael Angelo Cristobal, Prince of Dumaguete. This senior business student from Silliman University is definitely a Top 3 winner when it comes to face value. He has the appeal of a boy-next-door Latino. He is also one of the best dancers in the pageant. In fact, he won the rave dance grand prize. Although he has the tendency to give very long answers to simple questions, a good listener would know that this gentleman is actually very sensible. (Many were mad when his name was not called in the Top 7 honors, since he was actually expected to be in Top 3.)

Orville Cordova, Prince of Talisay. His facial appeal brings us a unique cross between American presidentiable Barack Obama and Asian filmstar Aniki—and yes, Obama is my new definition of enduring sex appeal, and Aniki is really among the most handsome Asian actors. Hollywood-oriented pundits will say Orville is too exotic. But Orville takes center stage with one of the best sculpted bodies of the pageant. His best moment was the all-out presence in the rave dance portion. His Oriental-inspired street fashion made him a star that night. Then, he captured all of us with one touching moment: Hollywood actress Emily Trempe, one of the judges, asked him the classic question on one’s fear and Orville confessed, “I’m afraid of my father. My fear is when I get to finally see him and he will not accept me as his son.” He made the audience cry. (Mr. Talisay was indeed worthy to be chosen in the Top 7.)

Carlos Ruiz, Prince of Silay. He may not equal the handsome presence of the former kings, but he has his own qualities that would have made him the effective upset contender for the major title— excellent communication skills, best smile, and a surprisingly handsome runway style. He deserved to win the Best in Barong (which went to Mr. Dumaguete) and he deserved to win the over-all Best Speaker glory (but that went to Mr. Mabinay). Listen to his answer to Mr. Guihulngan’s question with the sex scandal angle: “A father should not over-react. The daughter needs all the support with the psychological impact of the issue. I should lead my daughter to a spiritual retreat, for with God’s intervention, nothing is impossible.” Clearly, he was the man of wisdom in the pageant, and so, when he was not given the Top 3 honor, the crowd reacted. His manager actually made a violent protest (he had the plaque of recognition thrown at the over-all chairman of the event.)

Stalin Lescano Jr. , Prince of Bacolod. I was not surprised why some judges had to fight for him to be in the Top 3. This Best in Swimwear and Best in Tribal Attire winner is the most charming candidate – truly a rugged handsome prince. He projected a James Dean appeal. Stalin’s wisdom could have been heard better if only he was allowed to express it in his own language. As he struggled with English, his answers which were right sounded wrong. When he was asked to choose between fame and fortune, he started right with “Fame is forever,” but as he tried to expound, some of his points were lost. (Again, I have to stress that it’s culturally unfair to insist on having them express wisdom using a foreign language). The Prince of Bacolod was the most comfortable on stage – his pleasant projection was a gift of joy. (He got the controversial Second Runner-up title.)

Ralph Jansen Jadraque, Prince of Mabinay. On our way to Canlaon to watch the pageant last June 28, my friends had asked me to forecast the winner. With confidence, I told them it’s Mr. Mabinay. My basis was his performance during the speech improvement session I conducted for the candidates. Ralph has the down-to-earth subtle presence and what is endearing is his sense of humility. He was also the one with the consistently sincere smile. His appeal is that of a cute guy in a typical Pinoy neighborhood. He gave direct-to-the-point answers that led him to clinch the Best Speaker award which was based on the pre-pageant portion. In every segment, he always had the spirit of a winner. He may not have a strong physical feature of a typical title-holder but he is definitely handsome with boyish charm. His shining moment was when he walked down the ramp with his barong – the coolest guy of the evening, with an effortlessness that made him shine. His was also the truest voice of the pageant with his answer to the final question, “What is the legacy of the Hari ng Negros pageant?” Ralph’s cutting edge was this answer: “The legacy of the Hari ng Negros is tourism. This pageant is primarily an avenue to promote the tourism potential of Negros Island. This pageant also aims to bridge the gap between the two provinces, Negros Occidental and Oriental Negros. With this pageant, there is no Ilongo on one side and the Bisaya on the other. We are ONE ISLAND and we are all proud to be A NEGRENSE!” (Mr. Mabinay was crowned Hari ng Negros 2008.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

nostalgia 2

If you don't have enemies, you don't have character.
PAUL NEWMAN (Won Oscar. Another 36 wins & 47 nominations )
Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.
MICHAEL CAINE (Won 2 Oscars. Another 25 wins & 36 nominations )

Friday, June 20, 2008

introducing…. THE FRESHMEN

Not everyone is meant to make a difference. But for me, the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option.
-Peter Parker (Spiderman)

We all love this time of the school year when new faces tirelessly flash their youthful smiles. In our University Town where everybody seems to know everyone, people-watch is a favorite pastime. The school opening is always the perfect time for this slow-paced city’s no. 1 entertainment which has an added venue, the Portal West corner. We hear ourselves or overhear someone ask, “Who is that pretty face?” or “Oh another hunk, from Manila? Fil-Am?” Up-close one gets to hear a foreign student whine. “It’s humid here… “ or “The pedicabs are noisy!” Then, an LTCFTC (looking Tirso Cruz, feeling Tom Cruise) with a British accent exclaims, “People here are always looking at me,… makes me feel paranoid.”

But beyond the face value – our everyday entertainment, we want you to know that some of the new members of our beloved community are bound to make a difference with their potentialities:

MARIA ELVIE ANN BARTE graduated valedictorian from Basay National High School. With this honor, she is presently enjoying two scholarships while pursuing a degree in Business Administration at Negros Oriental State University. She is confident that her being a Class Math wizard will help her achieve more in college.
She hopes to work in a famous bank someday somewhere in Taiwan or in Japan. The film "The Passion of the Christ" has been her inspiration. She shared, “The movie is really touching and it reminds me of who I really am! It's taught me to share unconditional love. It also helped me realize that I am very worthy because someone died for me to be saved. And with that, I must live my life by touching other lives for me to be very worthy in the eyes of God.”

Her big crush is the actor Wu Chun of Brunei who became a huge film star in Taiwan. “I love his sense of humility…,” Elvie was almost non-stop in introducing her film icon.

Lynn Francine Batalan is very proud to have spent “my high school years in the bosom of Foundation University.” It is the school where “I learned to experience life to the fullest and discovered a lot of myself.” She was president of the Ushers and Usherettes Club, an exposure that made her realize that at FU, they “open their arms as wide as they can for all the students to have fun and experience new things….”
The organizations like the Buglasayaw Dance Troupe, the Science Club, the Debating Club and Peer Counselors Club were important exposures that led her to achieve two honors: the Valedictorian of Class 2008 dubbed as the “The Visionaries” and a beauty title Miss Teen Dumaguete 2007. These two “are also my memorable moments and treasured experiences in my high school life.” The Accountancy student, still at FU, wants “to see myself as a banker working in offices either private or public firms.” But first, she knows that she will have to work hard to have excellent academic records to ensure a good performance in the CPA Board Examination.

Negros Oriental State University’s GLYSA JADUCANA graduated valedictorian from Santander National High School. This Education student who is majoring in Mathematics complained,” My generation is more complicated and is harder to understand.” She read and seriously followed the teachings of Jose Rizal and she wants all the other young people to know that “Life is sometimes cruel therefore we must be strong enough. We must choose wisely because it is our choices that tell us who we really are….”

When this Dallas-born chinito expressed he doesn’t like walking around the wide expanse of Silliman campus, I quoted Barack Obama to cheer him up, “If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress.” BRYCE KING, a science quiz bee champ from Xavier School, is taking up Marine Biology. He said there’s just “…too much lawyers, too many businessmen, too many nurses….” The young environmentalist is hoping to make an Al Gore-kind of impact in his own humble way. The grandson of philanthropist Angelo King had sent college applications around the globe and was accepted by universities in the US, the UK… and in Manila but chose to study at Silliman, “I really think this is the best environment for Marine Biology.”

ELLEN MAE ELTANAL graduated from Sta. Catalina Community School as the Class Valedictorian. “The honor made my family happy and proud… because of it I was given the chance to study in this very wonderful university town.” A Bachelor in Secondary Education major at St. Paul University, Ellen wishes to help the less fortunate acquire a good education by becoming a teacher who is well-respected as a master of her field. She observed that “Living in a modernized world, our generation now is somehow a bit lazy. Doing things are done instantly, we are very much influenced by the westerns to the point that we don’t focus on our own values and culture.” But she believes that with “dreams to help the family and be able to help others,” the young generation can still make a difference. She loves Oprah Winfrey who as world icon, “influences us to learn living each day with hope and leaving the past behind.” She notes that Oprah has “really proven that there is always hope no matter how difficult the situation is.”

A talent search winner, an editorial writing finalist, a Christian Youth Fellowship president…. A long line of achievements for this Mass Communication freshman at Silliman University. ANTON EMILIO SANCHEZ belongs to the third generation of Sillimanians from the Sanchez family of the City of Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte. His father Marvin, a fraternity Grand Chancellor during his students days is the brother of 1980’s campus beauty Joy Sanchez-Bobon ( Miss Biz-Ad who won the Miss Silliman first runner-up title in 1981) and who is among Dumaguete’s most successful entrepreneurs with her Sta. Theresa fastfood and other enterprises. Anton, a son of Dumagueteña Anne Marie Arnaiz, recalled his first week here, “My first week was probably the worst.... I became very shy and so insecure. I have never been this far from my parents, and being deeply attached to my family I was really really homesick...” His Tita Joy came to the rescue and gave him survival tips that ended with: gain back your confidence!

JELA MAE TANILON is the Salutatorian of Foundation University High School Class of 2008. This Accountancy student who is loyal to her Alma Mater found her first week in college as “Bad! Everything is new to me. I’m having a hard time adjusting…. I’m not used to have different classmates in different subjects. But I hope I’ll be able to surmount these as soon as possible.” She shares an observation that “Our generation is into modern technologies that are perceptibly, making us lazy. From brooms to vacuum cleaners, from hand washing to washing machines, and from books to surfing the net. It’s not always bad doing research in the internet, but we also have to comprehend that computer information is revisable and can be changed from time to time. Sometimes, computer facts are even mocked by some experts.” She is worried about the tendency to simply “copy-paste” things in life for it takes people away from the value of reading and understanding the truth. The film “The Freedom Writers” has inspired her for “aside from being a true story, the movie depicts new generation teenagers who made an enormous change in their lives.” Jela would like to remind her fellow students that the opportunity to be in college is valuable: “never quit. Love what you are doing. Work with full dedication. Never be afraid of failures.” She shares wisdom from Charles Lamb, “Pain is life—the sharper, the more evidence of life” to stress the value of perseverance.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


by Edith L. Tiempo

How strange to hang suspended―
Our boat sitting on the water
Is a point in space;
Up, down, and around:
A deepness and a vastness of blue.
The soul flees its suspension
In upward tropism to the light;
Divinity in the heavens
Required no less: Lift,
Fly, elevate; the sky is ever
The hovering home.
Still, we transcend in nostalgia and in loss,
Foreswearing the earth,
Its mud, trees, color, its unyielding mass
And all that the body knows of heat and life;
So arch down and around, us, sky,
Blue sphere that is infinite height,
Infinite depth.
Wrap all of earth around:
Here, where water is heaven, fallen,
Water, no more a reference for earth.
Blue in the deep is permeable,
A membrane we can fall into;
Who needs the upper regions now?
Curved world of heaven under water,
Keeper of ultimate promises,
Vessel of the ceaseless mortal
Dreaming of foreverness,

Below the frail suspended hull,
Far below the swaying outriggers,
And the caulked and barnacled bottom―
Hoarding now man’s peace and his salvation,
The sky―deep, and inverted―waits.

May 10 marked the first weekend for the fellows of the 47th National Writers Workshop and that day, I led them to conquer the Twin Lakes: Balinsasayao and Danao. I know that this secret wonder of our island will always inspire artists for it is a spiritual journey to go on a boat ride around the lake or take a trek around Balinsasayao towards Lake Danao.

At the Twin Lakes, nature’s poetry runs with lines of peace and healing. Arlene Yandug of Xavier University wrote a poem after the trek:

Along the edge between you and the forest
I tread the silence-worn path of stones.
Stones precariously linked like my verses….

I have been here so many times but each visit is amply rewarded by gifts of inspiration. My artist friend, the late Kennedy Rubias, lived here for many months but he never got to any point of boredom. In fact, it was here that he created on canvass a kubo on an endless expanse of green – an image of joy, and a rare piece. We all know that Rubias’ brushstrokes were always dark and bloody.

From the same journey with the fellows, I made some lines of introspection and asked one of the fellows, Lawrence Bernabe of UP Visayas, to finish what I begun. My poem Coming Home now has a sense of completeness when Lawrence worked to give it a second stanza:


Navigate the self for the second time:
Let the painted carapace melt like a mirror
Rafting into its river of faces and stories.
Relieve the humbled feet in still water.
On an unnamed rock, the green is blue
When the drowned end
senses the mossy comfort
The innocence of beginnings becomes
A new point of departure.

On an unnamed rock, the blue and the green
Becomes the mossy ground I stand on.
When I stepped into the river
(My feet never more sure of the cold)
The water carried me home.

The journey to the Twin Lakes and other wonders like the walk under lines of acacia trees, the wisdom from the Bleeding Heart dove in CENTROP, poetry and music at The Catacombs, the blue dream in Antulang, the frolic in Bacongham, the pan de sal siesta in Bravo Golf, nostalgia in Café Antonio, Hayahay reggae, high life in Atelier Aguila, stories on canvass in Mariyah Gallery, The
Forest Camp’s coolness, the green wall in Sariland, the mild rafting in Amlan’s Alma
Riverside and the crossovers to Apo Island, Siquijor, and many more – all these help define the uniqueness of Dumaguete’s National Writers Workshop, the nurturing institution of Philippine Literature with founder National Artist Edith Lopez Tiempo and daughter Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas as anchors. I consider the workshop’s return to the English and Literature Department of Silliman University as destiny as it moves towards its 50th year.

Bayanihan dancer recalls night with Paul Newman

By Tina Santos
First Posted 01:19am (Mla time) 07/04/2007

MANILA, Philippines – “I felt like I was floating on a cloud the entire evening,” said Veronica “Veth” Elizabeth Atega-Nable [my first cousin - mojo ]of Paco, Manila, describing how she felt on the night she was crowned Miss Fil-Am Queen of the former Subic Naval Base on the fourth of July, 46 years ago.

With the honor came a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet—and hold hands—with famous Hollywood actor Paul Newman who was her escort.

“I was tongue-tied for a moment,” Nable said, recalling the first time she came face-to-face with Newman whom she described as “very warm and friendly” and “has the lightest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I felt like I was the luckiest girl on earth,” she added.

Nable, who won the title at the age of 23, said the chance in a lifetime came as a complete surprise to her.

She recalled that she was enjoying her summer vacation in Agusan del Norte when she got a call from Manila informing her that Rear Adm. Charles Duncan, then Subic base commander, and members of the 1962 Fil-Am Fiesta Committee had chosen her to be the queen of the Fil-Am fiesta to be held inside the American base.

“It was completely unexpected because I had not made any effort nor dreamt of succeeding popular movie star Gloria Romero, the title holder in the previous year,” said Nable, who is now 68.

“I was very excited and flattered they chose me, especially when I was told that Mr. Newman would be my escort.”

She later learned that the Agusan governor had submitted her name to the committee. Before that, she represented Region 10 in a nationwide search for Miss Philippines.

“And in Bayanihan perfomances, I didn’t know that they were observing me,” she added. Nable was a member of the original batch of the Bayanihan Dance Group, the country’s national folk dance company.


“It was a perfect evening,” she said, adding that she was wearing a white beaded terno with a long cape and elbow-length gloves made by Pitoy Moreno. “There was Paul Newman beside me, a crown on my head, my colleagues at Bayanihan and famous local and Hollywood celebrities like Shirley MacLaine entertaining my court.”

Her court included movie stars Amalia Fuentes, Lourdes Medel and Adorable Liwanag.

But the parade that preceded the coronation night was equally thrilling, Nable said.

“A handsome Navy officer, who ‘won’ his escort duties in a raffle, stood beside me in the Queen’s float, holding an umbrella over me. It rained but it did not dampen the gaiety of the kilometer-long parade,” she recalled.

She said her stint as Miss Fil-Am Queen paved the way for other opportunities for her, including modeling stints and being on the cover of several magazines.

After her reign, Nable again focused on one of the things she loved doing most: Dancing.

She joined the Bayanihan at 19, while taking up nutrition at the Philippine Women’s University on Taft Avenue, Manila, which organized the dance troupe.

“I was recruited to form the first Bayanihan Dance Group,” she said. Nable added that being a member of the Bayanihan “fulfilled my love for dancing and allowed us to show our countrymen and the world the beauty of our dances.”

The Bayanihan, whose members have been touring the world as cultural emissaries for the Philippines, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this October.

“Life after Bayanihan revolved around marriage and family, another beautiful and fulfilling experience,” said the girl who gave it all up to marry Horacio Nable. “I stopped being active in the Bayanihan when I got married. But I have not stopped dancing yet.”