So far, so good

What for should I ask more

Friday, October 31, 2008

PhotoHunt: Blue

I took this photo early morning from our room in Discovery Country Suites in Tagaytay City. It was about 10C outside so the outdoor jacuzzi was devoid of users and, hence, was free to be photographed =]

It was hard to resist jumping in though...

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

PhotoHunt: Scary

In a recent trip with my parents to Savannah, Georgia, I jumped at the chance to join a "fright-seeing" tour of this historic city tauted as one of America's most haunted. The Ghosts and Gravestones Tour of Savannah took us to various "points of interest" including the fabled Sorrel Weed House, said to be the most haunted home in America. See if you can see something or someone in the photo I took of this home's basement...

And after our tour ended, I took one last shot of the trolley we were in and quite possibly caught something or someone else... =]

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fame and fortune for Filipino films and fiction

It's no miracle but it's about time.

Two Filipino books and a Filipino cinematic classic are in the running to be declared Asia's best in separate competitions that shortlisted them.

The Man Asian Literary Prize, on its second year of recognizing unpublished Asian novels in English, released today the top five finalists for its 2008 edition. Hopefully, Miguel Syjuco and his ILUSTRADO or Alfred A. Yuson and his THE MUSIC CHILD will be declared winner in the November 13 ceremonies in Hong Kong.

The landmark Filipino film HIMALA, on the other hand, made it to list of the ten all-time best movies of the Asia Pacific region, joining the ranks of such films like Taiwan's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs, put together in celebration of the 2008 Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA). Click here to join the online poll currently underway to determine which among the ten films is to be the recepient of the APSA Viewers' Choice Award. The top film among these films will be announced at the APSA to be held in Gold Coast, Australia on November 11th.

Let's pray that November will bring a flurry of good news for Filipino arts and culture.


UPDATES 11/14/08:

Ishmael Bernal's HIMALA has been chosen as the Best Asia Pacific Film of All Time! Miguel Syjuco's ILUSTRADO has just been named winner of the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize! Congratulations!

Click here for 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize announcement of winner.

Click here for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards announcement of winners.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

PhotoHunt: Family

An uncle and I wandered from Manhattan to Brooklyn last summer by taking a leisurely stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. We were not really planning to walk its entire length- into the next borough- but the call of this magnificent structure was just too hard to resist. Several dozen of photo-ops later, we were on the other side of the bridge. I don't why but stepping onto Brooklyn soil for the first time made me feel somehow like fish out of water.

But then, as we turned a corner, there was someone who seemed similarly lost as well.

A pioneer lady driving her wagon suddenly burst in the shadow of the bridge. Her team's presence felt surreal- but New York is simply full of surprises.

But as we went around her wagon, we saw that she wasn't traveling alone. She was with her two kids, who were either bored from the long trip or they just had an interesting way of expressing love for each other.

This scene looks awfully familiar hahaha Family members... Can't live with them, can't live without them =]

This installation is Tom Otterness's 2004 LARGE COVERED WAGON, made from bronze, measuring 85 x 185 x 48 inches. On display courtesy of the Marlborough Gallery, New York. It is on view from April 2008 to January 2009.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Global Pinoy Bazaar goes to Alabang

For those who missed the Global Pinoy Bazaar at the Rockwell Tent last September 20-21, here's your chance to partake of this fiesta-cum-shopping experience.

The Global Pinoy Bazaar will be at the Cuenca Community Center of St James the Great Parish in Ayala Alabang Village from October 18-19, 2008. Sharpen your shopping and athletic prowess by choosing from among the wide selection of great Filipino finds, joining the 5K and 10K fun run and playing good ol' patintero from summers past. Arts and craft activities are also available for kids 7-12 years old.

For more details, visit

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Less for oneself, more for others, enough for all

October 11th 2008 marked the 5th anniversary of the formal launch of Gawad Kalinga, a colossal movement which aims to eradicate poverty in the Philippines and restore the dignity of the poor. The Bonifacio Global City in Taguig was the convergence point of some 40,000 Gawad Kalinga residents, volunteers, partners, and friends- all of whom came for a well-deserved day of fellowship, to take stock of the past year’s accomplishments, as well as to re-commit to finish the work that remains.

What is Gawad Kalinga or GK? Initially, Gawad Kalinga- which translates to GIVE CARE in English- aimed to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in 7 years (2003-2010). This was in recognition of how poverty in the Philippines is already an emergency and no less than an immense, sweeping revolution of hope and action will turn the tide in favor of the poor. At the forefront of this movement is Couples For Christ (CFC), a Catholic charismatic community, which has adopted GK as the means to fulfill its mission of “bringing glad tidings to the poor.” The initial response of many CFC members was to build one or two houses for the poorest among them living in the poorest neighborhoods. It seemed sufficient- at that time. But the CFC realized that those houses were not enough; more needed to be built and built fast.

As GK and CFC expanded the work from a handful of homes to entire communities, partners, friends, and volunteers began streaming in and have become co-advocates of the GK way- Less for oneself, More for others, Enough for all.

Slums gave way to dignified communities. Houses were not given for free, but with a corresponding “sweat equity” that allowed the residents to put in honest days’ work building homes for one another. Volunteers from top, rival universities and corporations laid bricks and painted homes in friendly competition. Shelter for informal settlers in urban areas and disaster-ravaged populations in rural areas became possible.

But the work of GK did not stop with building homes. Health, education, livelihood, and environmental programs are also in place to allow the total transformation and development of communities. Strong values formation and re-orientation initiatives are being undertaken to help them harness their talents and potentials as well as to enhance their attitudes and outlook in life which may have been muddled by their years of poverty and powerlessness. Community empowerment is being nurtured in GK villages to enable the residents to move away from being passive recipients of dole-outs and become proactive decision-makers with a clear stake and mandate.

And as GK inches closer to 2010, it is once again re-configuring itself with a much bigger vision and mission. GK777 is no longer just building 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in 7 years. GK777 is now a 21-year commitment to help spur development in the lives of more than 5 million Filipino living in the poorest conditions, underscored by this year’s GK Expo theme- Walang Iwanan or Nobody Gets Left Behind. The work of GK is likewise expanding overseas, with GK villages rising in countries like Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, among others nations. To match this ever-expanding work, GK is amassing its army of one million volunteers (GK1MB or GK 1 Million Builders) from all walks of life and around the world.

Which is not very hard to do. It is still an everyday fare in GK to meet professionals who have quit their high-paying jobs abroad to work fulltime for GK; grade school kids who scrimped and saved their allowance so their class can raise money to help build one house; mothers and grandmothers in GK villages who have courageously attended lectures on first aid so they can be volunteer health workers in their community (on top of their already busy schedules at home); local government leaders with whom GK partners with to ensure the sustainability of programs and interventions.

I have seen love of God through love of country by way of Gawad Kalinga. Political colors are drowned by the multicolored homes of GK residents. Corporations who are erstwhile competitors in the marketplace are now partners in nation-building when they set foot on GK villages. Ordinary Filipinos become heroes when they donate their precious time in GK sites- with each stroke of the paintbrush, each child they tutor, each patient they see, each tree they plant. The poor no longer have arms outstretched waiting to be helped but rather these same arms now help others rise up and move forward.

There are a million and one problems and challenges in the realm of poverty. But we can do something about them. We ARE doing something concrete to address these concerns. Gawad Kalinga, its leaders, partners, volunteers, friends and the GK village residents themselves are working hard to have land for the landless, homes for the homeless, water for the thirsty, food for the hungry, light for those in darkness, dignified health for all. Gawad Kalinga, with God’s provision, is changing the Philippine landscape, replacing poverty with hope, one home at a time, one community at a time.

Click here for more of my stories on working with Gawad Kalinga. More about Gawad Kalinga can be read in its official website If you’re a health professional and you wish to help in a Gawad Kalinga village, you can visit and email info[at]

Get to know what other Pinoy bloggers joining the Blog Action Day 2008 are saying. Find them here.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

PhotoHunt: Lazy

Today's theme plus my current state of recovering from a brief brush with a cough bug led me to reminisce about a weekend trip we took a year ago while I was taking a diploma course in Finland. At the end of the first three weeks of our course, we took a short cruise aboard The Isabella of Viking Lines from the city of Turku in Finland and in about 9 hours we landed in Stockholm, Sweden. It was literally a 24-hour sojourn in and out of Sweden, the closest encounter I will probably ever have with the lifestyle of the rich and famous. More on this trip in later posts.

Some points of interest such a lazy weekend in Stockholm have brought me to:

View from inside our cabin-

View from The Isabella's deck, as we meandered between Turku and Stockholm-

As I awaited the announcement of my name as Prize recepient, in front of the Nobel Museum and Swedish Academy-

But it wasn't to be. Not yet anyway =]

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Gawad Kalinga - GK Expo 2008

Many countries the world over are facing varying degrees of economic difficulties. Even supposedly invincible nations like the US and those in Europe are being forced to scrimp and save. The rich are feeling the pinch... But let's stop to imagine the poor are faring. We simply can't.

Amidst the bleak picture being painted, there is still the bright hope being offered by Gawad Kalinga. Gawad Kalinga or GK is a multisectoral, integrated community development program which aims to uplift the lives of the poorest of the poor Filipino. Its approach to combating poverty is holistic by way of fundamental programs that center on shelter, health, education, environment, livelihood, values formation, and child and youth development. Its trademark array of colorful communities now number around 2,000 with more that 25,000 homes built and counting.

Join Gawad Kalinga (Give Care) as this revolutionary movement celebrates the 5th year of its formal launch with the GAWAD KALINGA EXPO on Saturday, October 11, 2008 at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. This year's theme is WALANG IWANAN! (Nobody Gets Left Behind!), a battlecry that aim to reaffirm and solidify further our support of volunteers and partners to our impoverished fellow Filipinos. Visit the booths, participate in the discussions, enjoy the exhibits, and see how you can join this massive push to make the Filipino nation rise again, higher.

Gawad Kalinga Expo 2008 promises to be another experience that indeed the Filipino is worth living for.

My memories of past GK Expos are here, here, and here.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

PhotoHunt: Sad

The churchyard of St Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan. Just behind it, the World Trade Center complex.

Between these two, I don't know which represents the PhotoHunt theme more...

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