MANILA, Philippines — The so-called “sanctuary fund” for Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., the key witness in the Senate inquiry into the scandal-tainted national broadband network deal, has reached P500,000, Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan said Tuesday.
At the first hearing of the Senate at which Lozada appeared, Pangilinan had requested for the setting up of such a fund for the witness’ legal defense.
“After four days, the AMRSP (Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines) Sanctuary Fund to support witnesses like Jun Lozada has now reached 500K [P500,000].” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said checks may be sent to AMRSP Special funds 28 Acacia Street, Quezon City, with telephone numbers 724 4434 or 448 5644, or deposited in MBTC Account No. 3259-07445-3.
Cebu, Philippines – Monday is the start of the week-long activities in celebration of the 438th founding anniversary of Cebu Province on August 6.
Mayors will join Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and the Capitol employees in the flag raising ceremonies on the Capitol grounds on Monday morning. This would be followed by the raising of the colors of the province’s 45 towns and seven component cities.
Opening of the agro-fair at the back of the Capitol building would then follow.
The portrait of former governors Sotero Cabahug and Buenaventura Gutierrez would also be unveiled on Monday in honor for their roles in the construction of the Capitol building.
The provincial government has also sponsored a nightly concert inside the Capitol compound as part of the celebration.
On Friday, the anniversary itself, the anniversary, the provincial employees from the six departments will compete in folk dance contest.
Roger Serna of the Provincial Information Office said that the employees would perform the original dances in Cebu including Sampaguita, Pandanggo sa Baso, Meligoy de Cebu, Mananagat, Sortedo Cebuano and Itik-itik Sibonga. /Reporter Nilda Gallo
Cops, military differ on motives
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Two tribal leaders were shot dead in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, by unidentified men Thursday night but military and police officials differed on the possible motive for the killings.
Colonel Eric Benoya, commander of the 8th Infantry Battalion, told Radyo Bombo here Friday that Datu Lito Daao, 45, and Datu Manuel Antaluing, 55, both of Barangay (village) Dansuli in Balingasag, were inside their homes when suspected members of a New People’s Army (NPA) hit squad led by one Ka Reden arrived and killed them.
But Inspector Cipriano Badar Jr., Balingasag police chief, said they were looking at another angle.
Badar said initial information gathered from residents indicated the two tribal chieftains were involved in land conflicts although no other details about these were immediately available.
According to Benoya the two victims had received death threats prior to Thursday’s shooting. He said the NPA had tagged the two tribal chieftains as military informants even though “they were not working with the military.”
Benoya said apart from the two tribal chieftains, the rebels had also warned other tribesmen in the area to stop cooperating with the military.
“These are desperate moves being done by the NPA,” he said.
The killing of the tribal chieftains came a week after tribal leaders from all over Mindanao sought the help of the military in obtaining justice for alleged abuses committed by communist rebels in their communities.
The appeal of at least 58 tribal leaders was contained in a resolution they handed to Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. during a conference in Davao City on July 21.
In the resolution, spearheaded by the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Conference for Peace and Development, the tribal leaders urged Esperon to help them bring the abuses to the attention of the Supreme Court, which recently organized a conference aimed at finding ways to end the current spate of political killings and disappearances of militants.
In a related development, the National Democratic Front (NDF) in North-Central Mindanao has denied the NPA killed five militiamen following a raid on a military detachment in Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte last month.
NDF regional spokesman Cesar Renerio said the militiamen were executed by soldiers on suspicion they had connived with the raiders.
Earlier, the military said the militiamen — identified as Joel Bilayong, Albert Tanyo, Humoc Tinabla, Legal Mansinugdan and Junie Bilayong — were abducted by the rebels during the raid and shot afterwards.
“We came to get hold of this information through the relatives and kin of the (militiamen) in Kinamaybay,” Renerio said.
He said the victims’ relatives witnessed the killings.
“The families and relatives of the victims should demand an investigation on this matter,” he said.
Inside the Cordillera death ritual
Daytoy Ti Amianan
MANILA, Philippines – Seven elderly women in Sagada, Mt. Province, gather one night around a hut no larger than five square meters. Linked arms to shoulder, the women chant as they sway to its sing-song rhythm: “I taoli yo nan swerti kadakami, ya san an-ak yo.”
It is the night’s mantra sung in Kankanaey: “May you bring luck back to us and to your descendants.”
Inside the hut, all eyes focus on a figure occupying a spot of importance.
Florencio “Sumbad” Pecdasen, an elder of dap-ay Tukipa in the village of Demang, has been dead three days. On the third day of his death, he was dressed in indigenous garments befitting a kadangyan (nobility) and was propped on what locals call a sangadil (death chair).
On the night of the third day, the women sang dirges as the elder figureheads of Demang and Dag-dag villages chanted the baya-o (tribute to the dead).
The baya-o extolled the virtues of the dead and sought his blessings for the community and for those who shared resources and efforts to usher the passing of the dead back to the world of their departed ancestors.
“Sumbad was an industrious man,” the elders chanted. “For even in his old age he would take up hard chores including gathering firewood.”
Unfortunately, Sumbad’s industry triggered his decline. His village mates said he climbed a tree to cut some branches for firewood. He missed a step, fell and broke his back. He survived the fall but the man, at 75, was unable to walk again and died months later.
But in his prime as an elder of dap-ay Tukipa, Sumbad knew what he wanted, and declared this in no uncertain terms to his family and the dap-ay council leadership: When he dies, he wants to be propped up on a sangadil and buried in the ways of his father, the respected Lakay Pecdasen, and his ancestors—his coffin hanging on a ledge at the limestone cliffs of Bao-eng.
No one knows for sure how or when the practice of placing the dead on a sangadil started.
Even Esteban “Pollat” Bosaing, acknowledged repository of oral tradition in the community, can only quote versions from folktales.
He said in the olden days, the dead were merely left lying on the ground. By nightfall, when all were asleep, the dogs often sneak in to eat the corpse. Or, without knowing it, the dead might turn into a carabao or some other animal so people might fall ill, says the mammadto (soothsayer), if they butcher and eat it.
Sometimes the anito (ancestors) tasked to fetch the dead may think that the person was merely asleep seeing that it was only lying about, so they leave, unable to complete their task. This has prompted elders to decide on placing the dead on a chair to prevent these mishaps from happening.
The less dramatic but pragmatic version, according to Bosaing, has something to do with presentation. The dead can look better in traditional regalia if seated, rather than lying in a coffin.
Even if the person’s system has ceased to function, the person is not “dead” until declared so by the community.
In the case of Sumbad, it was three days after he breathed his last. Only when he was seated on a chair that the dirges and chants for the dead began.
Sumbad was strapped on an ordinary wooden chair, his thumbs and big toes bound together by a rope made of rattan and his jaw tied shut with a kubkuba or a soft bark used to weave g-strings before Ilocano traders introduced their inabel (woven cloth).
The design of his death garments indicates he was among the privileged in the community.
“Black cloth with seven stripes implies that he is among the kadangyan,” says Bosaing. The less privileged wear blue with no stripes.
However, with the required number of pigs to be butchered (21 and 18), it is difficult to distinguish the kadangyan from those who are not.
“The ritual takes place only when a person asks for it and if the family can afford the cost,” says Rey Fiar-od, an official in Barlig, Mt. Province.
However, even if the family is financially capable, the ritual cannot be performed if it does not own a takba or a ritual basket.
“To own a takba means you are part of the ritual and a culture bearer,” says photographer Tommy Hafalla. “Not to own one simply means you have turned your back from the old ways and embraced another set of beliefs.”
This other set of beliefs might be the Christian faith and the reason Sumbad’s daughter has expressed her reluctance to place her father on a death chair.
She was only prevailed upon by the rest of the clan who said it was her father’s wish that this ritual be performed.
Today the death ritual is at best a “compromise” between the Christianity that was introduced by western missionaries and local traditions and beliefs.
Thus, during Sumbad’s wake, the baya-o was performed as often as Christian hymns were sung.
In Sagada, there is a cemetery on a hill where Christian burials are performed, but overlooking the hill, a rock face is full with hanging coffins from traditional burials.
It seems, however, that Sumbad won out in the end. Wrapped in his burial shroud in fetal position, the village’s men, and sometimes women, carried him on their backs to his final destination in a practice called binatbato.
The community takes turns in carrying the body towards the limestone cliffs as to do so is considered good luck.
Gruesome as it may sound, the luck happens when body fluids of the dead are smeared on to the one who is carrying the corpse, but it will only occur if the fluids are not washed off for three days.
Bosaing says the belief is so strong that those who participate fight for the chance to carry the corpse.
Are these practices still relevant in this age? Without hesitation, Fiar-od says “yes.”
“The bottom line in the observance of these practices is unity and discipline. These values do not fade in time,” he says.
“So is the observance of tambo (sharing). The culture of sharing will ensure that the people and their practices will endure for generations to come,” says Hafalla.
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino food may date as far back as hundreds of years ago, but Korean delicacies date back thousands. The kimchi, also spelled as gimchi or kimchee, a traditional fermented vegetable dish, dates as far back as 3,000 years ago! Food references say its earliest form consisted only of salted vegetables. Then in the 12th century, people began to include spices, and in the 17th century, they started started using chili peppers. The kimchi that we know today as staple Korean fare, called baechu kimchi, only gained popularity in the 19th century and is actually only one variety of this jurassic appetizer.
I include these details because every Korean restaurant begins the meal with a party of kimchi. Called banchan, the party may have as few as four bowls of side dishes or as many as ten. At the Korean restaurants here, the frequent partygoers are the baechu kimchi, mul kimchi or water kimchi, toge or mung bean sprouts, and dilis or long-jawed anchovy. Sometimes the Pinoy in me makes me want to just ask for water and a bowl of rice to go with the free appetizer spread (“Jas woh-ter plis, teynkyu!”) because there’s just so much to begin the meal; at the same time the Bulakenya in me makes me want to try every item on the menu and assess how it’s cooked. Personal stories aside, whether the reason be health—as kimchi is believed to be a healthy side dish with many nutritious benefits—or simply to whet the appetite, with its characteristic spiciness, serving kimchi to start off the meal is definitely a part of Korean culture.
This is what I had to understand as I toured what I now call Koreatown at the Bel Air Gillage (“GILid ng villAGE”). The area I am referring to is that stretch from Jupiter to JP Rizal bound by Makati Avenue, Rockwell and Bel Air. This area, countrymen, is now owned by Koreans, who have been quietly building their Makati community lot by lot.
Although the malls present only Kaya, Koreatown has Korean restaurant beside Korean restaurant. How do you choose? Why, ask the “Gillage People,” of course.
The neighborhood and corporate favorite is Ma San Garden on Polaris. Ma San has been in existence the past seven years and has built a steady and loyal clientele among Koreans and Filipinos alike. Ample parking space is provided but it would be wise to bring a driver if you want to make that lunch. It isn’t hard to find as its distinctly Korean facade, which is matched by its distinctly Korean interiors, is quite obvious. To complete the Korean experience, Ms. Lee, who manages the restaurant with such warm hospitality it’s almost Filipino, welcomes each guest in her full Korean attire, even if she can hardly speak Filipino or English.
Koreans usually order the Sogogi Gukbap, a hot soup with beef and vegetables, and Bibimbap, which is a a bowl of warm white rice topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, beef, a fried egg, and gochujang (chili pepper paste). Another favorite is the Lapu Lapu Sashimi Set which is, as its name states, raw fish, but served “Korean-style,” with the entire fish, fresh out of the aquarium, served to you on a platter.
I was quite impressed by the tenderness and tastiness of the beef in their galbi chim, which the menu translates to “broiled beef rib”; not so much, however, with their squid and octopus dishes, which, to my pedestrian taste, seemed to simply be Korean seafood chopsuey, as these were drowned in veggies and capped with the same chili used for kimchi.
For Korean barbecue, visit Dong Won Garden on Jupiter. Let me just plug in a quick briefer on Korean barbecue: it is not enjoyed on a stick. Whether it’s samgyupsal (pork), dak gui (spicy chicken), woosul gui (ox tongue) or jango gui (eel), this is enjoyed sandwiched in a lettuce leaf after dipping the barbecued meat in bean paste and cushioning it with garlic. Do avoid the inclination to create a Korean burrito with the lettuce leaf and do enjoy your selection of banchan (small plates of kimchi, pickled vegetables, and other side dishes) alongside your barbecue for extra flavor. Dong Won offers a whole array of meats—pork, chicken, seafood—to barbecue so all you have to do is take your pick, watch them cook it in front of you, and enjoy. The ox tongue is very thinly sliced, unlike the lengua we Filipinos are used to, making it lettuce sandwich-easy; the pork is sliced a little thicker, each with a slab of fat which I skeptically believe is for their Filipino clientele; but the chicken is the winner in this restaurant, as it’s tender, cut in bite-size pieces for maximum juiciness and with just the right hint of Korean spice.
This Korean barbecue may also be enjoyed at Lee Jo, which is on Orion Street, just off Polaris. Lee Jo is another neighborhood favorite. In fact, I enjoyed their barbecue more than my barbecue experience at Dong Won. But what I would come back for at this restaurant is something called doganitang, a broth with the kneebone of cattle. Now nothing beats bulalo for this patriot, but this Korean delicacy comes close. I can still feel the soft, sticky kneecap on my back teeth! Ah, to eat with reckless abandonment and betray yourself by camouflaging fat in broth.
Health deception aside, what I admire most about Korean cuisine is the method and culture involved in enjoying it: how the kimchi is served before the meal, how the barbecues are fumelessly cooked before you; and most of all, how greens are injected in almost every dish to balance off the spice and, in other dishes, the fat. After my tour, I dare say Koreatown is worth a spicy, healthy, kimchi-ful food trip. •
Dong Won Garden. 53 Polaris cor. Jupiter Sts. Tel. 898-3558.
Ma San Garden. 29 Polaris St. Tel. 896-93-95.
Lee Jo. 4 Orion St.
MANILA, Philippines – The nine dancers in long pink dresses were unmindful of the heat of the mid-morning sun.
As they danced and sang their prayers to the Virgen de la Rosa, one of the patron saints of Barangay Poblacion in Makati City, they tried to ignore the audience
In this barangay, the yearly prayer through dance and song is both an act of penance and thanksgiving done by nine highly-esteemed dancers or mananayaw.
Known as the baile de los arcos (dance of the arches), the dance is performed on June 29 and 30, feast days of the Poblacion’s patron saints Peter and Paul and the Virgin of the Rose or Virgen de la Rosa.
Devotion to the Virgen de la Rosa began in 1718 when a Jesuit priest brought the image of the Virgen from Acapulco to the Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Poblacion.
But not just any girl can join the yearly baile, whose origins are unknown even to oldtimers.
“The dancer must be beautiful inside and out. She must be sincere in doing the penance because she will undergo rigorous training for the baile,” says Edna Samarista, whose mother and sister were once dancers in the baile.
In the old days, fair-skinned girls of good reputation (not necessarily from rich families) were picked as dancers.
But an unblemished reputation, physical beauty and heartfelt desire to do the dance prayer are not enough. One of the requirements for any dancer, says the 76-year-old Samarista, is to be a virgin.
“Dapat virgin. Kapag may nobyo, tinatanong kung may nangyari na ba. At saka dapat mataas ang boses ng mananayaw,” she adds. (The dancer has to be a virgin. If she has a boyfriend, nothing beyond courtship should have transpired between the two of them. She should also be able to reach the high notes).
The reason behind the “virginity requirement” is that the nine dancers pray and give thanks to Jesus Christ’s mother, who is a virgin. Some of the old folks even believe that if there is heavy rainfall on the day of the feast, it means one of the dancers lied about being a virgin.
Samarista was pledged by her mother to become a dancer, but was rejected because she couldn’t hit the high notes and was a bit dark-skinned in her youth.
The dancers are usually aged 14 and above. The oldest now is in her mid-20s. Most of them had mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers who were also dancers.
“It’s been our tradition to pass on the dance to the next generation,” says Samarista. The family in charge—or encargada—of teaching the dance are the Venturas and Atilons of Brgy. Poblacion.
The present encargada, Linda Atilon-Reyes, was a former capitana or lead dancer.
Girls wanting to become part of the baile are screened as early as two years before the event. Training for the dance begins in April. The nine girls are taught the turns, bows, and twists passed down for more than a hundred years.
The baile de los arcos is performed at the plaza in front of the Sts. Peter and Paul Church.
Atilon-Reyes says there are three parts to the baile—the diccho or simultaneous chanting of prayers, the trono or singing of prayer, and the baile, a combination of prayer, dance and song.
The audience can “join” in the penance by praying intently with the dancers, Samarista says.
Clapping or hooting at the end of the two-hour prayer-dance is a big no-no, even for tourists who want to show their appreciation.
“It’s not for entertainment. It’s not for the people who are watching. The dance is for patrons alone,” points out Dwane Samarista, Edna’s nephew and kagawad for education and culture.
Both Samaristas note that local interest in and awareness of the baile de los arcos had diminished over the years. Girls no longer want to join the baile, and are setting their sights on beauty pageants.
But Dwane says the baile will go on even if there is no one left to watch. “Whether or not there is an audience, the baile must go on. As long as the present generation passes on the tradition, it will remain part of our heritage,” says Dwane.
This year, Atilon-Reyes’ own niece, Michelle Atilon, was capitana.