Thursday, February 26, 2009

Youth Vote Ilocos Norte

YVote Philippines is a non-government organization committed in making the youth vote count in the May 2010 elections.  One of its flagship projects is holding voters registration inside campuses of colleges and universities.  They've done it in Manila, Cebu and Davao.

I thought to myself, why not here in Ilocos Norte.  So, I contacted them and told them if I could organize a similar activity here up north.  They allowed me as long as I tie up with a TAYO organization here.  Unfortunately, that org never contacted me.  This did not deter me from pushing through with this project.

My first choice of holding student voters registration was here in Laoag.  Either sa Northwestern University or sa MMSU-CTE.  Kaya lang, hindi daw available yung Laoag Comelec Office.

So I turned to MMSU-Batac.  I tied up with its Central Student Council, headed by Ace, the Batac Comelec Office, headed by Mrs. Josie Balbas, and Student Affairs Director Henedine Aguinaldo.  They were all very accomodating.

And so, YVote Ilocos Norte inaugurated its first student voters registration in Mariano Marcos State University in Batac City on February 24.

Maganda naman yung registration turn-out.  From 10am to 5pm, Provincial and Batac Comelec held voters registration and validation at the Teatro Ilocandia Basement.  In the end, 126 students from Batac were able to register!

Not bad, considering Batac Comelec lang yung nag-participate. (We also invited San Nicolas, Paoay, Badoc and Currimao, but apparently, there is a Comelec circular prohibiting local offices from conducting off-site registration outside their jurisdiction)  We will try, though, to convince Comelec National Office to revoke that circular so that other students of MMSU can register as well.

I could say the activity was successful.  I'd like to thank all those who helped out:

The Central Student Council (Ace and Khristian) for pushing the activity with the MMSU admin;
The MMSU admin. for allowing such activity and scheduling it the same day their were a lot of students in the venue;
Batac Comelec for spending an entire day doing voters registration in MMSU;
Ilocos Norte Comelec for assisting in the registration;
Ms Tanya Hamada of YVote Philippines for coming over to supervise the activity; and
All the students who registered! (This is the first step in your involvement in government)

'til the next voters registration in your school!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

ISM high schoolers vs. Ateneo alumni

Last Sunday, my Ateneo teammates in the Alumni Slo-Pitch Softball League (ASSL) played against a team from the International School-Manila.

We were laughing before the game because I told them these kids were half my age (I'm 31 and I think may mga 16 year olds dun).

Anyway, the sad thing about it was that I was already one of the YOUNGEST in OUR team.  The Ateneo Alumni team kasi is comprised of former baseball players sa college and high school.  Our age range is 26 to 50+.  So ang tanda talaga kami compared to the ISM team. (Ang tanda ko na talaga)

So what happens when you pit a young, physically fit, well-exercised and properly trained team against a bunch of old, out-of-shape and no practice guys?


Nung first 3 innings sumasabay pa kami.  2-1 lang yung score.  Tapos nung 4th inning na, hala, tinambakan na kami.  They scored 17 runs in a 1/2 inning!  Tama lang sila ng tama ng softball sa mga butas sa outfield namin.  Hingal na hingal kami sa kakahabol ng mga bola.  Umitim na mga braso ko sa tagal ng pagbilad namin sa outfield.  Lumamig na nga yung hamburger na inorder ko sa food stand.

The umpire had to call of the game due to 'TAMBAK.'

Oh, my gulay.  These kids were just faster, more aggressive, and had the stamina to outlast us.  I don't know why the league allowed them to play with us.  It was embarrassing.

But being true Ateneans, we all brushed all that negativity off and just enjoyed the game.
(Kris, Rick, RT, Julius, Chris, Jun, Johnny, Francis, Bogie, Paolo)
(vs. UPLB)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Movie Matinee

When I told my students this morning that me and the wife were catching a movie right after class they mocked me (paging tere, diane and anik).  Bakit daw ang aga ko manuod ng sine.

It never occurred to me that watching the first showing of the day was odd or unusual.  Apparently, to my 20 year old students, it is.

Ever since I was a kid I had always watched the matinee showing.  I guess it started when I watched movies in the U.S. My sister would take me to the matinee showing (between 11:00am to 5:00pm) because the tickets were cheaper, there were fewer people and it gave us a chance to watch another movie right after.  Nakasanayan ko na.

This doesn't mean I don't watch at night, I do.  I watch the 8pm or 9pm showing with my Xavier friends, Barnett and Jamieson.

But when I do have the choice, I still try to catch the matinee showing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ilocos Norte government saves old schoolhouse from demolition

Old schoolhouse saved from demolition

By Augusto Villalon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:10:00 02/16/2009

Filed Under: Monuments & Heritage Sites, Crime

READER response has been high regarding the proposed conversion of the American-colonial structure Laoag Central Elementary School into a shopping mall, and the planned demolition of the Spanish-colonial church façade in Dingras, Ilocos Norte.

Ilocos Norte board member Kristian Ablan says a public hearing was conducted on the proposed Provincial Ordinance No. 2009-02-083, “An Ordinance Imposing a Moratorium on the Conversion, Use and Demolition of Buildings, Edifices, Relics, and Other Structures Deemed as Part of the Cultural and Historical Heritage Found and Situated within Ilocos Norte.” It was conducted with the provincial board’s committees on laws and tourism on Feb. 6.

Ivan Henares of the Heritage Conservation Society and Icomos Philippines wrote to Ablan: “Congratulations on a very successful public hearing! I was elated by the news that the attendance was astounding—the session hall was packed to the brim and could not accommodate all those who came, so another room had to be opened to allow people to listen. It’s heartwarming to learn this issue has generated so much interest among the local community of Laoag. Heritage is, indeed, in the mainstream!”

It was argued the building was not a heritage building because it did not appear in the DepEd’s roster of Gabaldon-type schools dating from the American colonial period.

But architect Reynaldo Inovero of the National Historical Institute debunked the argument, stating the structure was clearly of the Gabaldon type and definitely a heritage structure built during the American colonial period.

Moreover, generations of graduates, numbering in the thousands, share the school’s heritage, adding a wealth of intangible value to the structure and its surroundings.

It was also argued that since the school stood on church property, due to church-state separation, its future use was immune from civil and citizen intervention, a view overturned by the voice of the citizens who demanded that their school remain.

The National Historical Institute’s certification that the historic value of the school merited conservation gave strong substantiation to the preservation demands of local citizens.

Gov. Michael Keon held a press conference later and announced the passage of “the ordinance that will precipitate the NHI [National Historical Institute] and National Museum in declaring the Laoag Central Elementary School a historical landmark which will block the demolition of the school and block the mall.”

Now passed and enacted, Ordinance 2009-02-083, which recognizes the value of heritage within the province, defining what structures are considered heritage structures despite their status of being publicly or privately (or Church-) owned, and providing for the preservation of these structures to the benefit of future generations, is a landmark heritage legislation in the Philippines.

That citizens supported the ordinance by attending the public hearings showed public concern for heritage. Thank you to the people of Ilocos Norte and all the provincial officials of Ilocos Norte.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Inquirer article on our Moratorium Ordinance re: LCES

Heritage school demolition blocked

By Cristina Arzadon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:58:00 02/12/2009

LAOAG CITY – The proposed demolition of a heritage building has continued to fuel debates among local leaders who support the conversion of an elementary school compound into a shopping mall and those who want to preserve the structure.

The proposed mall project has also pitted city officials against provincial leaders who are opposed to the city’s plan to demolish the Laoag Central Elementary School (LCES) housing a two-story Gabaldon-type building, a structure used by the country’s public schools in the early 1900s.

On Monday, the provincial board passed an ordinance calling for a one-year moratorium on the demolition and conversion of heritage structures in the province. The prohibition covers the LCES.

During a public hearing before its passage, city officials, led by Mayor Michael Fariñas, questioned the board for including the LCES and other structures in the resolution without consulting them.

Fariñas also questioned the board for its supposed “insidious” action of deliberating and passing a measure at a time when the city government has a plan to demolish the school building.

“Why only now that the province is moving to declare [the school] a historical landmark?” Fariñas asked the board.

But Board Member Kristian Ablan, son of Ilocos Norte Rep. Roque Ablan Jr., said it has been a provincial government policy to protect heritage sites.

“The ordinance was filed because of the threat [over the school’s demolition]. As provincial dads, we have to take up the cudgels and move to protect it,” he said.

“Will the city officials wake up and come to their senses that the edifice is of historical import to the province?” he asked.

Fariñas, however, said he has records to show that the LCES is not a Gabaldon-type building and it does not need preservation.

“It is unfortunate and painful that despite our explanations [on the status of the LCES], the board went on to pass the ordinance,” he said.
Fariñas, however, said the school’s demolition would take off even if it takes a longer process.

Architect Reynaldo Inovero of the National Historical Institute said the LCES is consistent with the character of a Gabaldon schoolhouse.

“The LCES is a rare two-story Gabaldon building that was designed for tropical countries ... it has wooden sidings, swing-out windows with capiz panels and an elevated ground floor for additional ventilation,” he said.

Inovero, who attended the hearing, said the Laoag school building is a typical structure from the American colonial era.

The city government acquired the school lot from the Roman Catholic Church through a donation in 1924.

The shopping mall project, signed in December last year, is covered by a 25-year lease agreement executed by the city government, the Laoag Catholic Diocese represented by Bishop Sergio Utleg and mall developer Bellagio Holdings Inc.

Under the agreement, the school will be relocated to a five-hectare lot fronting the Laoag bishop’s residence at the city’s northern section.

The mall developer will bear the cost of acquiring the lot and building the school and later donate the properties to the city government. It will also pay monthly rentals to the city and diocese.

The proposed school site will house three separate buildings with 24 classrooms and complete education facilities such as a library, music room, auditorium, computer room and facilities for nursery and kindergarten.

The school will also be provided with shuttle buses whose operation will be borne by the city government.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

UDPATE RE: Laoag Central Elementary School demolition

January 12:
I filed Draft Provincial Resolution No. 2009-01-122 declaring the Laoag Central Elementary School an Important Cultural Property.

It is said to be too controversial, so is referred to the committee on laws for further review.

February 3:
A new proposal is filed.  This time, an ordinance (imposing a moratorium in any demolition and construction involving a cultural property), introduced by the Committees on Laws and Tourism AND covering not only LCES but the provincial capitol and other nearby buildings as well--thereby superceding my earlier resolution.

February 6:  
A public hearing is called (see picture above).  All stakeholders attend, including the principal, the parents, the business community, barangay chairmen, some city councilors, THE MAYOR, and the entire Farinas clan.

The National Historical Institute sent an architect and an engineer.

I asked them to verify if the LCES is indeed a Gabaldon school.  They certify that it is.

Arguments in favor and against are voiced out by the stakeholders.  The joint committee, under the leadership of BM Salenda and BM Lazo take not of all comments.

February 9:
After a few amendments, the Provincial Board passes the measure on 2nd Reading.  IN FAVOR: Barba, Chua, Nalupta, Marcos, Salenda, Ranada, Ablan, Castro, Galano, Lazo.  AGAINST: Farinas.  ABSTAIN: Ong-Sin.

Later, the measure is passed on 3rd Reading.  Same voting profile. 10-1-1.

Draft Provincial Ordinance No. 2009-02-083 is APPROVED.

Awaiting signature of the Governor.  Then publication.  After 15 days, the law takes effect.

Hopefully, that's enough to save the school.

Monday, February 02, 2009

I can't believe they hacked a live dog in front of me

Today, February 2, is the 191st Foundation Day of the Province of Ilocos Norte.  As part of the day's celebration, all the municipalities and cities sent their respective delegation to perform.

Some towns sent their best dancers, others their best singers, and a few sent their best marching bands.

Four towns, sent their indigenous people to present their native rituals.  Nueva Era presented a courtship dance.  Dumalneg showcased their peace dance.  While Adams and Carasi prepared a death ritual.

It was very educational.  I was fascinated with their chants and dances.  Imagine my horror then when right before our very eyes one of the itnegs grabbed a dog and hacked it to death!  I couldn't believe it.  I couldn't believe they would slaughter a dog in front of us.  It was a real, live dog!  I saw it being pulled on stage and tied to a make-shift bahay kubo earlier in the presentation.  

Out came its flesh and blood.
I wasn't the only one outraged (you know, that's against the law.  It's animal cruelty).  The other local officials also looked dumbfounded.  When we confronted the town mayor, she explained that it was necessary.  The itnegs believed if a dog is not killed, then the ritual is not complete and one of them might be harmed.

Okay, okay, okay, fine.  If they insist.  Pero warningan naman kami sana next time.  Para naman mapaghandaan ko yung reaction ko. 

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Our tricycles should be redesigned!

Sometimes I wonder why our culture is so different from our ASEAN/asian neighbors.  It can't be because we're an archipelago.  Indonesia is an archipelago, but they have more in common with other ASEAN/asian countries than we do.

Take for example the auto rickshaw--the taxicab of asia.  Look all over the continent and most, if not all, auto rickshaws are designed the same way: long and narrow.

The obvious example is Thailand's tuktuk, shown here: