Archive for the ‘Philippines’ Category

UPCAT—The Movie Links UP Ibalon And UPAA

March 2, 2009

There is a bunch of inspired members common to UP Ibalon Alumni and the UP Alumni Association of Camarines Sur. Inevitably, both organizations teamed up when the latter brought the premiere of UPCAT –the Movie to Naga City on Feb 28, 2009.

UPCAT–the Movie is an independent film that features upstart talents: Felix Roco, Hiyasmin Neri, Director Roman Carlo Olivarez, scriptwriter Alfred Reyes, and producer Joselle Acuña.

According to Director Roman Carlo Olivarez passing the UP College Admissions Tests (UPCAT) has become a common symbol of hope and dreams of the Filipino youth in their quest for intellectual excellence, a commodity that young people appreciate more personally as tough global competition stares then right in the face in the 21st century. This Communication Arts graduate of La Salle says he has no intention of creating a mystique around UPCAT, but its compelling symbolism is so significant and so timely UPCAT deserves to be a movie title. (You can view our video interview with Director Roman Carlo Olivare at our other website

The UP Ibalon Bicol is happy to have supported the premiere of UPCAT—the Movie in Naga City, indirectly cheering up independent film makers and teaching the Filipino youth to dream.

Producer Joselle Acuña, also a UP alumna, promises to be back to Bicol for a sequel to UPCAT. She likes Bicol to be the setting and she likes to feature stories of real-life UP graduates. (You can view our video interview with Joselle at our other website

Many Ibalonians of course have life stories worth telling. (Mighty be prepared to tell your story).

Acknowledgment: All photos in this post courtesy of Director Roman Carlo Olivarez, who had his Nikon digital SLR camera handy all the time.

Go to our other website for more photos and videos related to this activity.

UP Ibalon with Physicians for Peace in Naga City

February 7, 2009

The Physicians for Peace gave out free wheelchairs to pre-screened indigents in Naga City. UP Ibalon Bicol was a partner in this project and may act as conduit for future donations by the Physicians for Peace, an international charity organization headed by a Fil-American, Dr. Juan Montero.

This partnership of the UP Ibalon and the Physicians for Peace came as a result of the efforts of Dr. Josephine (Jenny) Robredo-Bundoc, a UP Ibalon alumna and currently a world consultant of the physicians’ group. Jenny is the younger sister of UP Ibalon Bicol president, Butch Robredo and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo.

The wheelchairs were pre-fabricated and the UP Ibalon members had the fun of their life assembling the equipment. The activity was a satisfying spiritual experience for Ibalonians, having been exposed to disabled while having the capability to offer help, however small.

Having grassroot reach in the city’s 27 barangays, the members of the Kapisanan ng Sangguniang Barangay Kagawad (KSBK) Naga City chapter had searched for recipients. Lolit Nantes heads the KSBK as President.

The City Social Welfare Department further screened the recipients.

Watch the video above and share the fun.

Job Outlook 2009: Nurses in USA still in demand, but not in the Philippines

February 4, 2009

Unemployment is rampant as the economic meltdown continues in America. The joblessness in the world’s largest economy is in all time high and still rising. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) January 20, 2009 issue reports the discouraging job loss of 2.6 million last year. Yet, in spite of the alarming unemployment sweeping America today, healthcare sticks out as among the few bright spots in work opportunities. The US healthcare sector posted gains of 419,000 jobs, mostly for nurses in 2008.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trend is expected to continue till 2016 as Americans grow older and need more medical services. Last year, registered nurses posted 168,000 job placements to cope with the nationwide shortage. The availability of health care jobs including those in home care and nursing homes proves that employment in this sector is relatively recession-proof. Expansion of work opportunities is expected in less intensive training courses like pharmacy and medical assistantships.

This could have been welcoming news for Filipino nurses who seek work opportunities abroad. But with current US visa restrictions and slowing of recruitment of foreign applicants, the need for local healthcare workers in USA doesn’t translate into more foreign nurses getting jobs at this time. There is an emerging nativist US sentiments sparked by the economic downturn which further dampens the interest in hiring nurses from abroad.

There are about 88,750 nurses who took the Philippine board exam in November last year. The 50% (more or less) who will pass and get licensed will add to the nurse unemployment problem which is currently estimated to number about 400,000. The high joblessness rate in the country opens more opportunities for exploitation among these professionals and the government seems inutile in solving it. (Photo Credit: AllwaysNY; Uberdoog)=0=

RELATED BLOGS: “As nursing jobs become scarce, 88,750 brace for the next board examination” Posted by mesiamd at 11/12/2008; “Job prospects for nurses decline” Posted by mesiamd at 6/02/2008

With 17, 000 islands, Indonesia shares maritime woes with the Philippines

January 13, 2009

The stormy weather sucked in the Indonesian ferry Tertai Prima and disappeared in the sea on Sunday, January 11, 2009. Two days after the 700-ton (635-metric ton) inter-island vessel which plied the route in a country with 17,000 islands sank, an undetermined number travelers, part of at least 250 passengers and 17 crew onboard, had been missing and accounted for.

“The Teratai Prima, which radioed that it was in trouble just before dawn Sunday, capsized about 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast of western Sulawesi. It was headed for Samarinda on the Indonesian side of Borneo.”—AP (01/12/09, Ahmad, Y)

There are reports many are still alive waiting for a rescue. Horrid tales of those who survived spoke of children and elderly drowning in the fierce waters brought by cyclone Charlotte. Thirty four (34) were so far rescued and 40 escaped. Of the dead, the Indonesian government promised $2,400 each, a measly sum for each life lost that could have been more valuable and productive. In December 2006, similar sinking occurred in Java-Borneo area killing nearly 2/3 of the 600 passengers.
This story is shared in more grim terms by us Filipinos who live with 7,000 islands.

It brings recall of the woeful maritime tragedies that occur in our waters with frequency and lethality greater than in Indonesia. Most of these sea accidents in both countries are blamed on inclement weather, poor supervision and negligence of maritime and government officials, overloading, equipment failure, human error among others. We call on our respective government authorities to do something more than the status quo to prevent the next boat sinking waiting at the bend. We could just look back at some of our blogs below that stress this point. (Credits: Mauritius100’s; Lorca56)

RELATED BLOGS: “23 drown in another ferry boat mishap” Posted by mesiamd at 12/15/2008; “May barko na naman na lumubog!” Posted by mesiamd at 11/26/2008; “RP’s maritime disaster Ferry boat sinks in Masbate killing 40″ Posted by mesiamd at 11/04/2008; “Princess of the stars: a harvest of blame and shame” Posted by mesiamd at 11/08/2008; “A Sorry Maritime Safety Record Indeed In The Philippines” Posted by myty555 at 11/09/2008 =0=


Top 10 leading causes of death: Philippines (2003) & USA (2005)

December 11, 2008

Ten Leading Causes of Mortality Philippines, 2003

1. Heart Diseases—————-38,677—29,019—–67,696–83.5–17.1
2. Vascular System Diseases–29,054—22,814—–51,868–64.0–13.1
3. Malignant Neoplasm———-20,634—18,664—–39,298–48.5–9.9
4. Accidents———————–27,720—6,246——33,966–41.9–8.6
5. Pneumonia———————15,831—16,224—–32,055–39.5–8.1
6. Tuberculosis, all forms——-18,367—8,404—– 26,771–33.0–6.8
7. Symptoms, signs and abnormal
clinical, laboratory findings,
8. Chronic lower resp. dis. —–12,998—5,907——18,905–23.3–4.8
9. Diabetes Mellitus————–6,823—-7,373——14,196–17.5–3.6
10. Certain conditions
originating in the
perinatal period——————-8,397—-5,725——14,122–17.4–3.6

Source: The 2003 Philippine Health Statistics
* Percent share from total deaths, all causes, Philippines
^ Rate per 100,000 population
Last Update: January 11, 2007

US Mortality 2005
—————————————–Number of Deaths————-% of all deaths
Heart Disease————————–652,091——————————26.6
Cerebrovascular Disease————143,579——————————-5.9
Chronic Lower Resp. Dis. ———–130,933——————————-5.3
Accidents (unintentional) ————117,809—————————–4.8
Diabetes mellitus———————–75,119——————————3.1
Alzheimer’s Disease ——————-71.599——————————2.9
Influenza & Pneumonia—————-63,001——————————2.6
Nephritis*——————————– 43,901—————————–1.8

*Includes Nephrotic Syndrome and Nephrosis

Source: US Mortality Data, 2005, National Center for Health Statistics, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009

What is striking in these two tables is the primacy of heart diseases as the top cause of death in both the Philippines and USA. This includes congenital heart problems such as hereditary valvular and septal anomalies; acquired heart illnesses like ischemic, coronary, hypertensive, cardiomyopathic, and infectious conditions are included.

However, in a new report on Dec 10, 2008, cancer is noted to be on the rise. It is expected to top the list of disease killers by the year 2010. The main cause given is the unabated use of tobacco—resulting to an increasing incidence of lung and respiratory malignancies particularly in developing countries.

One notes the exceedingly high accident mortality rate in both countries—deaths that are basically preventable. The vehicular-injuries mortality in the Philippines is strikingly more than 4x in males, those who ply the streets as drivers and travellers.

Greater than 2,000 children are killed every day, or about 830,000 every year, from injuries sustained in preventable accidents, a United Nations’ report said.—PDI (12/11/08, Uy,V)

If #7 NEC in the Philippine data means necrotizing enterocolitis and #10 refers to perinatal diseases, they indicate high mortalities in newborns and children which isn’t reflected in the US data.

Tuberculosis, a treatable old chronic infectious disease still comes as #6 in the Philippines while in USA, Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative illness of aging ranks high as the 7th leading cause of death.

The disparity of these data serves as a guide on the current healthcare planning and services respective countries must offer. Most of these top killers are preventable in which educational campaigns and proper medical care have significant roles. (Photo Credits: SterlingArtz; Poodle boi)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “The Death Clock and the Dangers of Smoking” Posted by mesiamd at 10/22/2008′ “Cancer races as the #1 disease killer in 2010” Posted by mesiamd at 12/11/2008

Journalist killings continue

December 9, 2008

The death toll of journalists being killed in the Philippines continues to rise. On the early hours of December 9, 2008, Muriel Leanilo, a tabloid columnist of “Bagong Balita” was slain by an unidentified gunman who walked away from the site of the crime in Aurora, Boulevard, Quezon City. The motive of the killing wasn’t known.

Following the shooting death of another journalist less than a month ago, Leanilo was rushed at Quirino Memorial Medical Center but was pronounced dead on arrival. His companion, Christina Valldolid, was seriously hurt. A taxi driver who saw the murder said the assailant walked away after the incident.

Cold-blooded slaughter has been a common occurrence in the Philippines. The administration of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo appears helpless in stopping the crimes which earn bad reputation for the country. Apologists of the government can’t say that the unsatisfactory national human rights and freedom records are “perceptions” only. There is an obvious lack of justice. Unhalted murders suggest political instability which may worsen in time. (Photo Credit: Campino Castillejo)=0=

RELATED BLOGS: “Another gruesome journalist’s slay” Posted by mesiamd at 11/17/2008; “RP’s 2008 Press Freedom Rank: 142nd out of 173 nations,” Posted by mesiamd at 10/26/2008; “Deteriorating Human Rights Record: another journalist shot dead in Camarines Sur,” posted by mesiamd at 08/16/08.)


"Asocena": more than 70 dogs for food

December 4, 2008

In cultures where dogs are celebrated as pets, security aids, rescue workers, guards, loyal companions, and friends, one can be horrified to know how they are slaughtered for food by humans. In spite of the risk of diseases like rabies, in many places in Asia like in China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, dogs are raised and killed for food. Stray mongrels are snared and cooked as “delicacy” even if it’s against the law.

Every so often we hear of hapless dogs bound for slaughter. The horrendous plight of these animals before dying is appalling. This is exactly what is reported by Julie Aurelio of PDI (12/04/08) of more than 70 canines intercepted in a van in SM North Edsa Manila. It’s in the nick of time that the dogs have been rescued before they become “aso” which means dog and “cena,” supper.

The police arrested Ernesto Zapata and companion Jason Ortega who said the canines came from Laguna and are headed Baguio City for sale. The Philippine Society of Cruelty of Animals took custody of the confiscated dogs, 20 of which are pregnant. Let’s be kind to animals. (Photo Credits: Tibble) =0=

Camarines Sur farmer’s 444 kilometer march to Malacanang

December 2, 2008

There is sympathy elicited by the pictures of about 50 poor farmers from Banasi, Bula, Camarines Sur who embarked on a march to press their demand that Malacanang reverse the order of Executive Sec. Eduardo Ermita which kept them out of the land awarded to them 11 years ago under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The basis of Ermita’s decision was that the 123 hectare property previously owned by the Fajardo family of Baao Camarines Sur didn’t qualify to be awarded to the farmers because it was used for grazing cattle, instead of agriculture.

This led to the revocation of the certificates of land ownership award (CLOA,) of 57 farmers who were beneficiaries of the land distribution. Ermita’s decision ignored the earlier Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) rulings in 1999 and 2007 which favored the planters.

Started on November 17, 2008, the 444 kilometer walk includes 82-year old Pobleo Clavero, the oldest of the group of farmers who wants to leave his 1.7 hectare land to his grandchildren when he dies. Their leader, Jess Bergantin, says they have to resort to what the agricultural workers from Sumilao, Bukidnon did a year ago to get Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo’s favorable decision. The group are still negotiating the dangerous winding highway towards Manila where they hope to get a solution to their land problem.

The case of the Fajardo Estate farmers shows the limitations of the CARP, which continues to pose problems to farmers 20 years since the program was started. Though there have been successes in the awarding of land to worthy beneficiaries, many however are blocked by landlords and the system of CARP implementation.

The bureaucracy of the DAR that impedes the acquisition of land, the reversals of award decisions like the Sumilao and Fajardo Estates, the controversial land use, conversions (i.e. subdivisions) and funding of the program are among the problems that stand on the way for the full CARP implementation. For lack of education and know-how, many farmers have no sufficient means to make their acquired land productive. About half of the beneficiaries end up not tilling the soil, decreasing productivity, and illegally selling the land.

As I watched the photos of the Fajardo Estate farmers marching from Banasi, Bula Camarines Sur, I could only think whether their lives had improved since CARP was instituted. Braving the wind, sun and rain, some who walked barefoot were very tired, their calloused feet endured the searing heat of asphalt in the highway; others had their skin abraded by friction caused by cheap sandals they wore.

From their faces, I could guess most of the farmers had meager education preventing them from fully understanding their legal rights under the land reform program. Their looks made me suspect their financial position didn’t improve. They had been as poor as the days when CARP wasn’t part of their lives. Photo Credit Pakisamagallery)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Nuns abducted in Kenya, farmers from Camarines Sur march to Malacanang & the US national debt of $10,664,871,159,771.01 bogs the nation”Posted by mesiamd at 11/28/2008


Life versus abortion

November 23, 2008

Abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community. People are not aware of that. According to te US Center for Disease Control (CDC) Abortion Surveillance Report, 35% of abortions in the United States are performed on African American women, who make up only 12% of the U.S. population.” Beverly Anderson, National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life (The Southern Cross, July 2008)/Immaculate Conception Parish, Astoria, NY 11/23/08 (Photo Credit:

In the Philippines, the number of abortions is unknown since the procedure is illegal and often done secretly. In spite of this, about 1/4 of pregnancies is terminated amounting to an estimated 750,000 abortions per year.—


Pygmy tarsier of Indonesia rediscovered after 85 years & a five-petalled mountain flower in Mindanao, Philippines named

November 23, 2008

The Indonesian Pygmy Tarsier (Tarsius pumila)

This week, Indonesia’s pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), the close cousin of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta,) is reported to be thriving in the tropical forest of the island of Sulawesi. Said to be extinct since 85 years ago, the small primate which looks like a monkey approximates the size of a mouse, weighing about 2 ounces and measuring 4 inches.

The nocturnal tailed animal which lives on trees mainly thrives on insects but also eats small crustaceans, lizards, and other tiny animals. Covered by thick brown-gray fur reminiscent of the “gremlins,” it has a characteristic big pair of eyes, proptosed like oversized shiny buttons.

A group of scientists headed by Texas A & M University Sharon Gursky-Doyen have been following up the pygmy tarsiers until they captured three which were fitted with radio collars for more studies.

Coincident to the rediscovery of the pygmy tarsier is the identification of a new plant species which grows in Cagayan, Philippines. Named after Leonard Co, a botanist of the Conservation International, Rafflesia leonardi is unique for its 5-petalled parasitic blooms with no leaves, stems, and roots.

Rafflesia leonardi

Found in the rainforest of Kidapawan, Mindanao, 300 to 700 meters above sea level in the environs of Mount Apo, the rare flower fully blooms in about 10 months and wilts in 7 days. The new species which was identified last May 2008 is the 4th Rafflesia discovered in Luzon and the 8th in the country.

Two things come to mind. First is the growing need for nature conservation in the face of the dangers of extinction of both fauna and flora. Second, human interference (i.e. loss of habitat, predation, pollution etc.) in the lives of these plants and animals may have both beneficial and deleterious consequences which may affect species survival. (Photo Credits: YahooNews/SharonGurskyDoyen; YahooNewsPhilippines; Mediatejack) =0=

The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)

Outside the Philippines, a number of relatives of the Philippine tarsier can be found, among them the Bornean tarsier (Tarsius bancanus) of Borneo and Sumatra, the spectral tarsier (Tarsius spectrum), the lesser spectral tarsier or pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), and Dian’s tarsier (Tarsius dianae) of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The pygmy tarsier, by the way, is considerably smaller than the Philippine tarsier, while the pygmy mouse lemur, found only in Madagascar, is now being recognized as the smallest primate in the world.

The tarsier was first introduced to Western biologists through the description given to J. Petiver by the missionary J.G. Camel of an animal said to have come from the Philippines (Hill, 1955). Petiver published Camel’s description in 1705 and named the animal Cercopithecus luzonis minimus which was the basis for Linnaeus’ (1758) Simia syrichta and eventually Tarsius syrichta. Among the locals, the tarsier is known as “mamag”, “mago”, “magau”, “maomag”, “malmag” and “magatilok-iok”.” Source: Tarsier Foundation.

RELATED BLOGS: “Palawan wildlife faces near extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 9/14/2008; “Despite conservation effort, 1/3 of world’s coral reefs face danger of extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 10/23/2008