Thursday, April 24, 2008


wherever i go in this country even in my hometown, the local people will always think of me as a foreigner. taxi drivers struggle with their english language to get me to a destination.
in america, i always get the question or the airport check on my being 'arabic.'
one time in a hotel in subic, i got a vip welcome for being mistaken as among their visitors from morocco.
i was a mexican during a guitar festival in San Antonio, Texas.
two students from jordan approached me for they were hoping i come from the same origin.
one lady from new york stopped while having her morning jog to check if am jewish.
while being a ninong in a baptism in batangas, the old folks were asking if i belong to Senator Recto's family.
in palawan, a lady doctor mistook me as a son of her spanish family friend.
in davao, an indian store owner asked me about my father's business in bombay.
a doctor in an optical clinic informed me that i got blue pigments in my eyeballs but i insisted they are all grayish dark brown.

so, what's the real score?
it's all because of my great grandfather: Rev. Father Pedro Garcia, a mooric-looking Spanish priest from Barcelona plus the tribal Manobo lineage of my grandmother Juana Beray Noja.
And my mother's father Gabriel Rañua Badajos from Camiguin Island had spanish and chinese lineage on both sides.
Thanks to all of them, I seem to naturally belong to an international arena, at least visually.


People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.
--Anton Chekhov
Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year. It brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.
--Billy Graham

Summer in slow-paced Dumaguete can lead our young people to boredom and perhaps to ‘unhealthy’ ways of entertainment if no avenues are opened to keep them busy. Summer is a time for them to release the energies which have been long-stored up for many of them are usually just glued to TV and computer games. To be mobile or physically active is the only way for them to have a healthier young life. Through the years, I have mounted channels for fun and fruitfulness so that the youth will have their own harvest of summer memories.

If one goes beyond the usual, Dumaguete could be a discovery for it’s a perfect place to celebrate the joys of the summer season. When I am just around here during summer, my restlessness leads me to mount the following: special tours and night events for the fellows of the National Writers Workshop at Silliman, the other summer I had a culture and art tour around Dumaguete for public school teachers, my Fine Arts Appreciation class had a taste of organizing an event by producing a show for a local artist, had ushered kids to a multi-media workshop, brought teens on a trek around the twin lakes, we had speech improvement sessions with out-of-school-youth, guided foreign photographers to cover historic churches around the Visayas, led families from Manila and abroad to discover the ‘secrets’ of Negros island and a lot more.

This summer, all my ‘natural’ resources are poured towards the mounting of the Search for the Summer Adventure Envoy, a youth-oriented event produced by the Silliman University Physical Education and Athletics Department. I find it exciting to be working with the two dynamic ladies: Athletics Director Meriam Merced Ramacho and P.E. Chairperson Audrey Claire Cabio-Tuballa, and the different varsity teams. We actually have a two-fold purpose for mounting this reality-TV inspired event: to give young people a new avenue for expression and to raise funds for the SU-UP Dual Meet.

Launched in a very successful dinner-for-cause last February, the aspirants are left with two more challenges to tackle: the Amlan Adventure Race on Sunday, April 27 and the talent showcase during the Grand Night on Friday, May 2 at the Shaw Memorial Pool. The challenges in this contest are inspired by two hit TV shows, the Amazing Race and the American Idol. The local contestants were featured guests in the @ Random talkshow of FilProducts and models in a fashion show that featured the collections of Portal West popular shops Il Primo, Mixed Berry and Ajar’s.
The eight finalists will be in Amlan today for a race in this budding adventure tourism capital of Oriental Negros. Hon. Bentham P. de la Cruz, the cool mayor of Amlan, himself a mountain biker, facilitated the planning of the activity for the Sillimanian young envoys. The race will include boating from the parola to the sand castle shore where they will have two options, skim boarding and sandcastle building. The Sillimanians will then hop to a habal-habal ride. The long day will be capped by rafting at the cleanest river of Central Visayas, the Amlan River.

The final 8 in the Adventure Envoy Search could be crowd-drawers with their looks, talents and vitality. Table tennis varsity team player 15-year old CANDICE CECILE ARBON JAYARI, fresh from her high school graduation, takes a break from her summer gardening to take part in this cause-oriented event. The 5’6” tall Candice is the sweetheart of her new college friends in the competition for she is simply adorable.
College of Education governor DAISY JANE A. SARIO who loves the latest craze in sports, frisbee, tries hard to keep a balance between her participation in the search and her summer job responsibilities. The dusky beauty hopes to make use of the exposure to encourage young people to “quit smoking, save money and lives.” This call is echoed by another bet, student nurse PATROCINIO B. APURA III or Poodie to friends, who is an active member of the SU volleyball varsity. The hunky prince of sports who also shines in basketball and soccer considers the event as a channel to promote a healthier lifestyle for young people.
Tall, dark and handsome GERALD A. HONGAYO of the Silliman Stallions
takes time to be part of the event to improve on his human relations skills. The 6’1” tall engineering student thinks of basketball as a way to be cool, but the event will bring out a different side of him the moment he goes on stage – it’s a way for him to gain more confidence.
Being among the Top 3 in the recently-concluded Miss Teen Philippines Dumaguete search, 17 year old student nurse JESSICA FRANCE M. DE LOS SANTOS is facing much pressure being compared to Gretel, her sister who was crowned Miss Silliman in 2006. The friendly France is charting her own set of glories, and being part of the Adventure Search is her way of relaxing from academic pressures. This graduate from the PETA Theater workshop really loves performing on stage, and sharing her talent for a good cause has her dedicated 100% to the search. The adventure side of the event is a new twist in her life in sports which so far has been devoted to badminton.

Student leader RICKY LOUIE A. DE LA CRUZ loves adventure. This Information Technology student has covered it all from swimming to fire dancing but he wants more. The event will also be an opportunity for him to explore possibilities as a performing artist. Being an officer of the Student Government, the program will provide a rewarding experience to him of extending help to his fellow students.

Another bet from the College of Education is MARIA LUZ V. CATAN. Luz stands 5’6” tall and considers basketball as her favorite. The event for her is a way to see a world beyond the realm of a student teacher. It will be an exploration to bring more colors to the modern classroom – a challenge in today’s educational field. The pressure of the adventure is actually pushing her to watch with much care the twin dimensions of her youth: health and fitness.
Dancing is a good exercise but it’s not enough to keep a fully-toned physique. One who can attest to this is dancesport artist MICHAEL ANGELO D. CRISTOBAL. This Business Management student regularly goes to the gym, in between dance sessions, just for body toning. He has badminton and swimming as variations for the mobility to have total impact on his ‘machine.’ Joining the Adventure Envoy search will be a showcase of Mykx’s harvest being a fearless fitness enthusiast.

These 8 angels of adventure will inspire many of us to go into a major investment in health and fitness. “Start ‘em young!” – this is what the Search for the Silliman University Summer Adventure Envoy is all about. Two more angels are behind them, Chairperson Naddie Orillana and Creative Director Claudio Ramos, to ensure a total entertainment that captures the vivid colors of summer on the Grand Night, May 2 at the Shaw Memorial Pool. We will all be there!
(Solos courtesy of INFINITY PORTRAIT studio in Dumaguete.)

Thank you very much for all your support. More power and may GOD bless you!

Monday, April 21, 2008

nostalgia 1

“If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful.”
Sophia Loren (Italian film Actress, 1934)

"A person has to keep something to herself or your life is just a layout in a magazine."
Grace Kelly (Countess Grimaldi, the wife of Prince Rainier III of Monaco, 1954)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

SELF-PORTRAIT... beyond narcissism!

ageless and ever evergreen mojo atega
Among the entries in the Life's Little Instruction Book that I have followed year after year was that of taking pictures of the self as part of the celebration of one's birthday. And I have pledged to do this more often before any facial line will grow deep as I age. This year, I decided not to wait for the 31st of May to have the annual pictorial. I had to take the shots before I said goodbye to my hair with tri-color rugged glam. I have to decided to have a military flat-top cut to welcome the heat of summer.
It could be narcissism but it's more than just self-love: it's a celebration of LIFE lived with much colors and fun fun fun twists....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


“There is so much talk about Lily as a seasoned and articulate model, I thought that would be a good switch for me as the past 10 years of fashion week it's been about a different kind of hype.”
Charlie Brown (Fictional character from the comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts.)

It was in the 1970s when we had the first Persian “invasion” here in our University Town. Then, a political crisis in their country stopped them from coming to study in our city’s pride, Silliman University. In 2003 the Iranians started to grow in number again, becoming the second largest group among the 22 nationalities presently represented at Silliman (the welcoming colors near the Gate of Service are to celebrate the international presence in the campus by the sea).

Looking through the old yearbooks, the students from Iran then were not as fashionista as the present generation. The Iranians today go around town with statements from GQ and their simplest fashion expression would be the glamrock of today’s Hollywood icons. One or two of them present a glimmer of metrosexuality every Friday or Saturday night in El Camino or Why Not.

It was not really surprising news for me when I heard that an Iranian student from Silliman University won a national fashion contest advertised in Metro fashion magazine. I have actually worked with some of them in fashion shows mounted by Maria Havranek of Cuttin’ Loose. I feel proud that Pooyan Hasan Poor, one of the models we had at the Café Antonio fashion launch last year, is now one of the new faces of
Ray-Ban Philippines after having won the Ray-Ban Rockstar Model Search 2008. Happy to be chosen in the finals at Warehouse 135 Makati, a popular gimmick place, last April 5, Mechanical Engineering junior student Pooyan is thankful to the force behind
the glory: his girlfriend Ann Margarette Viente, a senior Mass Communication student of Silliman who was the photographer of the fashion profile they submitted through e-mail. Ann’s lovely self-portrait also had her in the Top Ten finalists. But it was her shot of her handsome boyfriend in a soaring animation that got the nod of the judges. The portrait that captured the win means a lot to Ann for it could be her launchpad to a possible career in fashion photography.
So proud of their achievement, I took time to have the goodlooking couple in an interview:
Mojo: Back home in Iran , did you have experience in modeling?
Pooyan: No, because situation in Iran is much different compared here in the Philippines.
Mojo: Beauty concepts vary from culture to culture; what is your concept of a male beauty?
Pooyan: For men, it’s not enough to just have good physical looks; what makes the package complete is the power of mind and good personality.
Mojo: Were you popular with girls back in high school?
Pooyan: Yes, I guess.
Mojo: How was the Ray-Ban experience?
Pooyan: I’m happy that I was able to represent Silliman University and Dumaguete City in the awarding night because some of the people there were not familiar with our place.
Mojo: Ann, do you consider yourself an experienced photographer?
Ann: I’m not that experienced. I started delving into photography in 2005 –it was purely experimental. I never had formal lessons in photography. I greatly rely on my own artistic instincts. It’s a combination of a skillful hand and an imaginative mind.
Mojo: What's your preference, being the subject of the photo or being the one behind the camera?
Ann: Both. However, it’s often hard for me to just plainly follow what the photographer would instruct me to do. Once I’m into it, I just can’t help but inject my own ideas. On the other hand, I also love photography and I totally enjoy doing it especially if the subject can portray my desired concept well. I may be a perfectionist at times, but I’m easy to work with.
Mojo: Do you have plans of becoming a professional photographer?
Ann: Yes. Hearing people’s appreciation of my works is actually the main aspect that convinces me to push through with this.
Mojo: You are a beautiful Filipina, but does one have to be as beautiful as you to be a good subject in a shoot?
Ann: We are all beautiful. Picking a model for a photo shoot would basically depend on the theme. Anyhow, I always work on making my subject feel comfortable during each shoot.
We say thank you to Pooyan and his friends from home for the added handsome presence in our University Town. But our Iranian friends could actually be the ones who are more thankful that Dumaguete’s welcoming public has an eye for culture and fashion – and in this Ray-Ban glory, we also thank Ann for such an excellent representation.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


“It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. It is the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance. It is the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give. And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.”
Bette Midler

Dance is poetry when its measure is not too heavy for the imaginary wind that carries its every movement. This is what I always see in an excellently executed art that runs close to music or flows with it as a cultural component.
One of the biggest delights in the school year 2007-2008 for this University Town is the visibility of the newly-revived Silliman Dance Troupe, now known as the Silliman University Kahayag Dance Troupe. From its first revival concert to the triumphs in two international festivals in China, Kahayag has not failed to give the expected poetry in movement. Its distinctive rhythmic choreography is a creation of Ronnie B. Mirabuena, Silliman University’s Director of Dance.
Ronnie’s ability to create beautiful rhythm in his choreography was noted in Manila during the Douglas Nierras Choreography Clinic on March 24 to April 7 which was attended by dance teachers from all over the country. His Panata, a piece on the deep spirituality of the Filipinos during Holy Week, won for him the Best Choreographer honor. Douglas Nierras, who was a recent visitor to Dumaguete with his group, The Powerdance, for a concert at the Luce, was specially proud of Ronnie’s achievement.
Ronnie who considers dance teaching as his ministry, is not actually a new force in the country’s dance world. With Folk Dance as his specialization, he practically spend all his teenage years exploring dance traditions as a student at the Philippine High School for the Arts in Mt. Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna. In 1994, he was a dance performer in A Cultural Visit to Brunei, a production sponsored by the Filipino Community in Brunei. He was exposed not only to performance for he was lights designer in school productions like the ballet “Saot, Bayle, Sayaw” in 1999. On the same year, he represented the Philippines in the Citta di Erba Eurofolk Festival in Italy. As a college student, he served as president of the Philippine Normal University Folk Dance Troupe in 1997 to 1998. With his very active participation in the student cultural life of his school, he managed to be a consistent awardee for academic excellence. Graduation from the country’s leading universities in Teacher Education with degrees in Social Science Education and Physical Education led to more opportunities: he was a workshop trainor/facilitator of the CCP Sining sa Eskwela held at Iloilo National High School in 2002, a Philippine delegate to the ASEAN Art Youth Camp in Myanmar on the same year and a lot more.
His long journey with dance finally found a major destination: the Silliman University Kahayag Dance Troupe. It is the Christian dimension of the University’s mission that led Ronnie here to Dumaguete. His well defined faith is always reflected in every visible rhythm – actually a dance praise to the Great-Giver-of-all-talents.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.”
Rabindranath Tagore

Every person on the face of the Earth has a gift.
For some this is revealed spontaneously,
others have to work to find it.
Paulo Coelho

Many of us in this University Town are drawn to the reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother aired on ABS-CBN’s Channel 2 and Studio 23 because of two reasons: BEAUTY Gonzalez and RONA Libby, both 16 years old .

In the April 1 episode, the two teens from Dumaguete got major exposure in the High School Graduation Day surprise. Rona was given a special graduation event inside the Big Brother House together with two other high school graduates, Robi of Ateneo de Manila and Jeriel of the Lamb of God School in Davao. The principal of the Dumaguete Science High School, Dr. Orlando Cadano took part in the ceremonies that included the awarding of the diploma and a special speech of commendation. Dr. Cadano joined Rona’s mother, Rose in presenting the young talent a medal of excellence in the Performing Arts. Rona is a familiar face for she is one of top three winners in the Miss Dumaguete beauty pageant and had been active in the high school debating team.
Beauty received the graduation cap of Jeriel and this came as a moving gesture from a new friend who knew that Beauty, who is now a freshman Business student at Silliman University, never experienced a high school graduation ceremony due to a “scandal.” Segment host Luis Manzano mentioned a bit about the scandal but without the details. High School classmates of Beauty at SLS Don Bosco would probably know but I did not bother to research. There is too much digging up of young people’s sad stories in this TV show. I have known Beauty as one of the headturners of the Silliman marching band. She is well-loved among her friends for her natural sense of humor.

Both were given a chance to show their talents as part of the reality challenges, Beauty in a baton twirling challenge and Rona in a debate on “Sino ang mas matalino: Babae o Lalaki?”

Beauty won the baton twirling challenge but it was not the win that people were talking about the day after. People were talking about her “ilok (armpit) monologue.” Dumaguete has been divided since Beauty’s first day in the Big Brother House; many are delighted for she’s consistently very frank and “bulgar” with ‘punchlines’ usually expressed in the Visayan language like “patilaon nako ni siya sa akong ilok” (I will let her lick my armpit). Many have disliked her for the same reason. On Rona, many are proud for she speaks flawless English and even her Tagalog is considerably good. But they were also disappointed in one kitchen scene where she seemed clueless on how to go about cleaning a fish and it was Josef, a student from La Salle, who was teaching her how to do it – an interesting irony on the rich-poor stereotyping.

Like the noontime hit Wowowee, the Pinoy Big Brother show’s popularity banks on real-life ‘dramas’ from the live narrations. I just wish that any “display of dirty linen” would be edited-out. In most cases, however, these are the moments that bring a TV show to high ratings in terms of audience share. Television’s intrusion into the young individual’s inner being should be controlled for this is evidently an exploitation. But today, no one seems to have the power to put an end to this crazy twist in our popular culture.