hero.jpgMY HERO. Pres Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo talks to PFC Moneth John Daniel, one of the Marines wounded in the July 10 clash in Basilan in which 14 troops died, as AFP chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr looks on at the hospital in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City. Arroyo presided over a command conference to discuss government moves against the Marines’ attackers and eventually decided to stay any offensives against MILF guerrillas accused of beheading 10 of the slain troops to give way to a fact-finding mission. AFP/THERENCE KOH

One for the books: Boy lost life saving 4 kids

Heroism in Pagoda tragedy By Carmela Reyes
Last updated 01:51am (Mla time) 07/20/2007

BOCAUE, BULACAN — The 13-year-old boy who died while saving four children from drowning after a pagoda sank during fluvial festivities here on July 8, 1993, has been hailed as a modern hero in a newly published school textbook.


Sajid Bulig, an elementary school student, is remembered for his bravery and heroism when he saved the children during the Krus sa Wawa feast, in what came to be known as the “Pagoda Tragedy,” according to the book “Ang Lahing Pilipino sa Nagbabagong Panahon” written by Ela Rose Sablaon and Lazelle Rose Pelingo.


According to the book, which is written in Filipino, “A pagoda vessel ferrying many passengers sank during the 1993 annual Pagoda festival in Bocaue. Sajid was among the 279 fatalities of that accident. He died after rescuing four children from drowning.”
The book, which was published in February 2007 by Rex Bookstore, is used as a textbook for Sibika classes in private and public elementary schools.


Uanjiza Mercado, Sajid’s sister who teaches computer courses at St. Paul Catholic School here, said her brother made the family proud every time the town celebrates the annual Krus sa Wawa festivities.


Bulig’s story of heroism is found in a chapter on the “Mga Huwarang Filipino” under the topic “Mga Makabagong Bayani.”


“I am glad that many of our children are interested in Sajid’s life and the good things he did. He serves as a real model for the youth today,” Mercado told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of


Edna Zerrudo, Department of Education’s schools division superintendent in Bulacan province, said the book was a good educational tool that teachers can use to teach students about Bulig’s bravery and heroism.


Jamil Mercado, 9, a Grade 3 pupil at St. Paul Catholic School who uses the book in her Sibika class, said many of her classmates looked up to Sajid as a young hero. Sajid is also Mercado’s uncle.


In July 2002, the Kapatiran ng Birheng Presentacion from the City of Malolos and its affiliated groups built in Barangay Bambang here a monument of Bulig carrying on his arms a small child.


Erlinda Bulig, Sajid’s mother, said she and her family had been offering prayers and flowers at the monument and his tomb at the Bambang cemetery every July 8.


Following the boat tragedy, festivities were suspended from 1994 to 1999 but resumed in 2000 with less fanfare.

Marines killed in Basilan

marines.jpgOUR HUSBANDS, OUR SONS. Relatives of the 14 Marines killed in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan stand by their caskets during the heroes’ welcome for them at Villamor Airbase. The bodies arrived this afternoon via a C-130 military plane. LYN RILLON

3 Filipinos killed in Abu Dhabi road accident
Last updated 11:44am (Mla time) 06/20/2007uae.gif

MANILA, Philippines — Three Filipinos have died in a road accident in Abu Dhabi, the Department of Foreign Affairs has said in a statement to media.


Quoting Libran N. Cabactulan, Philippine Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the DFA said that brothers Jay-Ar and Emanuel de San Jose and Emanuel’s wife Charmaine were crossing the Sinaiyah road on their way to the St. Mary’s Church in Al Ain when they were hit by a car driven by a 19-year-old UAE national last June 14.


The two brothers died on the spot while Charmaine was still alive when she was brought to Al Jimi Hospital, where she died despite doctors’ efforts to save her, the DFA said.


Upon learning of the accident, Ambassador Cabactulan sent Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) Officer Carlito Dizon to Al Ain to help the brothers’ mother, who is also a worker there, the DFA said.


The mother has been admitted to the Al Jimi Psychiatric Department due to shock over the untimely deaths of her two sons and daughter-in-law, the DFA said.


The driver of the car was also admitted to the Tawam Hospital in Al Ain after suffering from shock. He is under police custody, the DFA said quoting Cabactulan.


Emanuel de San Jose was working in a trading company in Dubai; his wife Charmaine was newly hired by an advertising agency in Al Ain; and Jay-Ar was a holder of a visit visa in Dubai, the DFA said.


The Embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) continues to extend assistance to the victims’ family, the DFA said.


Members of various Rizalista groups nationwide gather together to form a human flag at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, Manila as tribute to Dr. Jose Rizal’s 146th birth anniversary. INQUIRER/RAFFY LERMA

Jose Rizal honored today as environmentalist

By Amadis Ma. Guerrero
Last updated 04:02am (Mla time) 06/19/2007

MANILA, Philippines – On his 146th birth anniversary today, national hero Dr. Jose Rizal will be honored as an environmentalist by a multisectoral coalition, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Green Army, Mother Earth Philippines/Artists for the Environment, and the Archdiocese of Manila.


The ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m. at the Orchidarium at the Rizal Park in Manila. This is a sequel to “The Trees for Life” program launched on World Environment Day, June 5.


In addition to being novelist, poet, linguist, sculptor, physician, reformer, among other things, Rizal was an environmentalist at a time when concern for Mother Earth was not yet worldwide or even fashionable.


While in Heidelberg, Germany, Rizal sought out nature and took long walks through the forest. One of his famous poems (“A las Flores de Heidelberg”) was a tribute to the flowers of that city.


He also praised the local landscape to his European friends, describing it as “certainly richer and all its landscape variegated with brilliant colors …”


While in exile in Dapitan, Rizal planted trees and designed a water system for the community. “It was sustainable extraction of water,” says Liesl Lim, executive director of the Green Army.


“This is the first birthday celebration of Rizal as an environmentalist,” says Odette Alcantara of Mother Earth Philippines. The theme is “Jose Rizal the Environmentalist and the Youth of the Land.”


Some 2,700 seedlings will be distributed to school children. Alcantara expresses the hope that “they will plant, love and nurture the trees up to their full height, in line with what Rizal did in Dapitan on Day 1 of his exile.”


Under the “green” program, 20 million seedlings will be distributed all over the country until November.


Parents who want their children to receive the seedlings may get in touch with Lim (Tel. no. 3965029).


Nicole Quicho, daughter of environmental lawyer Jun Quicho, will interpret a classic dance titled “For Love of Mother Earth.”


Guests include novelist F. Sionil José, Rizal descendant Gemma Cruz Araneta, members of the diplomatic corps of the countries Rizal visited and students of the Philippine High School for the Arts and the Philippine Science High School.

2nd Pangasinense sacrifices life in Iraq

By Gabriel Cardiñoza
Northern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 01:24am (Mla time) 06/14/2007

LINGAYEN, PANGASINAN — Maria Minda Correa was unusually uneasy a day before two US Embassy officials appeared on her doorsteps here on May 30.


She felt like getting sick, so she lay down to rest.


Little did she know that at that time, her only son, US Army Sgt. Richard Correa, was already fighting for his own life in Iraq.


Correa, 25, died from severe wounds in a roadside bomb explosion in Ilbu Falris, Iraq, on May 29. Another soldier, Staff Sgt. Joseph Weiglein, 31, of Audubon, New Jersey, was also killed.


Correa was the second Pangasinense fatality in strife-torn Iraq. Staff Sgt. Richwell Doria of Dagupan City was killed on Nov. 7, 2006, in Kirkuk, Iraq, after being struck by small arms fire in an air assault mission.


“When the US Embassy officials came, I knew that my son was dead,” said Ricardo Primicias, Correa’s father. “They wouldn’t have come here if Valiant (Richard’s nickname) was only injured.”


Primicias is the brother of former Pangasinan Gov. Cipriano Primicias Jr. and son of the late Sen. Cipriano Primicias Sr.


“It took a while before reality sank in for that sudden death. It took a while for everyone to actually realize that Valiant is really gone,” said Ivy Primicias-Nalupta, Correa’s half-sister.


Too sudden


“It was painful [because] it was too sudden. Of all my sons, he was the one who was street smart,” Primicias said.


But, he said, it was his son’s choice to be in the US military, despite his family’s objections.


“All of us—his aunts, uncles, cousins, and his mom—were against his joining the military. But he insisted,” Primicias said.


He said it had come to a point that he and his son argued about it.


Primicias recalled that in one of his conversations with his son, he had told him that he was already getting “brainwashed” by the US military.


“I told him, ‘If you believe you are fighting a worthy war, you think twice.’ But he said, ‘That’s not it. I love the Army. We are well-protected, we have hi-tech weapons, we are well-trained, we have body armor,’” Primicias said, quoting his son.


“But I told him, ‘How do you protect yourself against suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices?’ He did not answer. Precisely, now, as I was afraid, it got him,” he added.


US migration


Correa first joined the US Air Force (USAF) in 2000 after finishing high school at the Lingayen Educational Center here.


He and his mother migrated to the States when he was 7 years old in 1989 after the approval of a family-based petition filed by an uncle for his mother.


Correa and his mother, however, returned to the Philippines after four years. He was already in the fifth grade when he studied here.


Primicias said his son had joined the USAF because he wanted to be a pilot.


“But because he was just a high school graduate, he was not allowed to undergo pilot training,” he said.


Correa was instead trained as an airplane mechanic and was assigned to the USAF maintenance section. He was later stationed in Oman for a year, his first foreign stint.


In August 2006, he was sent to Iraq, now as a member of the US Army, which he had chosen to join when he re-enlisted in the US military in 2004.


While in the Army, he served as a squad leader in one of the units at Fort Drum, New York.


Correa was a highly decorated soldier and received multiple awards and decorations. Among these were the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab and several Air Force awards.


Correa’s tour of duty in Iraq was supposed to end in September. But Primicias said the tour of his son’s unit was extended until December.


“After his stint, he’d like to study at the University of Hawaii. He was also planning to marry his girlfriend, Corey Dell of Florida, on Dec. 28,” Nalupta said.


Happy memories


Nalupta said Correa did not want his loved ones worrying about him.


“He earned a Purple Heart [medal] but he did not tell us. Ayaw niyang mag-worry kami because a Purple Heart is given to someone who was injured,” Nalupta said.


But now that Correa is gone, his family members can only console themselves with the thought that Correa died a happy man because he was where he wanted to be.

Igorots pay tribute to Ibaloi revolutionary heroes

By Vincent Cabreza
Northern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 10:38pm (Mla time) 06/11/2007

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — You won’t find the Philippine flag laid out on the tombstones of Ibaloi revolutionary heroes Mateo “Kustacio” Carantes and Mateo Cariño on Tuesday, Independence Day.


This omission was not made out of spite.


Few in this generation recall the names of their former presidents, much less obscure members of the Katipunan in Igorot country, who helped General Emilio Aguinaldo escape from the Americans when the Philippine-American war broke out in 1899.


Ignorance, however, is no longer an excuse, at least for a group of young Igorot professionals who have started filming the legacy of their region’s cultural and historical heroes.


Dr. Ryan Guinaran and Betty Lestino have formed ResearchMate Inc. to draw factual accounts of Igorot heroism for this generation of Cordillerans.


ResearchMate has completed filming a reenactment of the liberation of Baguio and Benguet, using amateur actors, aged between 12 and 30 years old.


The film focuses on war veterans from Ibaloi, Kankaney, and Mt. Province groups who stayed here to fight in spite of the fact that the Imperial Japanese Army had converted Camp John Hay into its Philippine headquarters during World War II.


Many of the actors are great, great grandchildren of these veterans, who were teenagers when they fought the Japanese.


Sections of the film are posted on YouTube on the web or are promoted enthusiastically by Cordilleran bloggers to overseas Igorots.


Guinaran said he hoped to get the films distributed in schools, or even through the pirated DVD network to win a wider audience.


He may follow the marketing strategy used by Raymund Red who toured the independently produced movie, “Sakay,” around the country alongside his actors.


Heroism is an oft-quoted value that has lost its meaning to present generations, according to Listino, a former researcher of the Philippine Rice Institute.


She said this has been working against the case for Igorot heroes, who were too far off the fringe of mainstream society to even win official recognition.


The heirs of Carantes said it took Ibaloi families years of painstaking research to even get the National Historical Institute to acknowledge their great grandparents as legitimate Katipuneros.


Carantes was a community leader who coordinated the Katipunan activities in the Cordillera during the 1896 Revolution.


Notes compiled by the late Ibaloi historian Geoffrey Carantes indicated that Mateo Carantes may have helped hide Aguinaldo as he made his way through the Cordilleras to escape American troops.


Members of the Cariño clan have obtained the most-detailed archival records about their great grandfather from the United States.


Aside from Cariño’s revolutionary links, he was also credited with winning a landmark US Supreme Court case that recognized his right over lands that became Camp John Hay.


The US military converted Cariño’s pastureland into a garrison. The Ibaloi protested America’s actions in a series of cases that culminated in 1909, the same year the summer capital was officially chartered.

CBCP: Let’s honor poll heroes, too

By Jerome Aning
Last updated 05:48am (Mla time) 06/12/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Honor the unsung heroes — the teachers and poll watchdog volunteers who served in the recent midterm elections, as well as the victims of extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances.


This was the Independence Day message of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo. Aside from honoring the heroes who helped the country attain nationhood 109 years ago, he urged Filipinos to remember the ordinary heroes.


“In the attempt to showcase some great, mighty and popular personalities as icons of the bayani (hero), let us not lose sight of the innumerable and unnamed bayani of our country’s history,” Lagdameo said Monday in a statement reflecting on the theme of Tuesday’s Independence Day celebration: “Kalayaan 2007: Bayan, Bayani, Bayanihan.”


The prelate cited the volunteers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections and the public school teachers “who, despite odds, difficulties, obstacles, frustrations and threats, defended the sacredness of the ballot against those desecrating groups.”


Lagdameo added: “In the midst of rampant and wholesale ‘buy and sale’ of votes, there were still those who refused to be controlled by the dictatorship of money. Their small stories are worth noting down on Independence Day.”


A teacher, Nellie Banaag, and a poll watcher, Leticia Ramos, died in a fire on May 15 after five armed men torched a school in Taysan, Batangas, during the counting of votes.


Another teacher, school district supervisor Musa Dimasidsing who exposed cheating in the Maguindanao provincial elections, was shot dead on Saturday.


Lagdameo said in his message that the extrajudicial killings, involuntary disappearances, and cases of graft and corruption should be a reminder to everyone “that while we have been liberated from the control of foreign invaders, we are victims of the abuses and exploitation of fellow Filipinos.”


He added: “There is so much demand for restitution for helpless and voiceless victims. May we not consider the uncompensated victims also bayani ng bayan (nation’s heroes), especially since their appeals are apparently falling on deaf ears?”


The Catholic Church in the Philippines has joined the clamor for “the restoration or return of the victims of disappearances,” the archbishop said in his message.


“Our prayer is that they will be allowed to return safe and sound to their grieving and anxious families, to enjoy basic freedom.”


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