Istambay sa Mindanao

Personal blog of MindaNews' Walter I. Balane. Visit for more news, views and information on Mindanao.

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Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines

I'm Walter Balane. I am a journalist based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines. I initiated the group called Atong Press ( for press freedom and responsibility and media education in Bukidnon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Go to new Istambay sa Mindanao address

at Thank you!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New address of Istambay sa Mindanao

Please visit the newIstambay sa Mindanao address @ Thank you.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mindanews photo by Froilan Gallardo

There were evacuations, again, in Midsayap town in North Cotabato as government forces clash with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.. But the two parties have met on January 28 to prevent more clashes. The fighting has stopped as of Saturday afternoon, but the situation is still tense in at least five barangays in the town even if both forces have disengaged before the Sunday meeting.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thanks for dropping by.

This blog has moved to Salamat!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A patent office with support services for Mindanao!

We need not just a patent office but one which aids inventors also in patent research and product develpment. That's the demand from MIFI or the Mindanao Inventors Federation Inc.
Engr. Samuel Abrenilla spoke with me for a MindaNews story why they were "disgruntled " with this lack of support from the government for the development of technologies. He said Filipino inventions are bought by foreigners, like American IT firms who have the capital to assume patent ownership.

In return, Filipino inventions were absorbed by foreign capitalists with the invenstors obscured in the sidelines. He said it doesn't contribute to the building of a Filipino morale as an inventor or innovator.

He said the government must change that framework that relies our surging need for technologies from foreigners. The Mindanawons and the rest of the Filipinos have a rich collection of these products stalled in household bodegas. The government is putting to waste, he said, the Filipinos technological advances.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Just moments after posting "Conscience List" in this blog, I received an unsolicited text message from a "friend" who frequents Istambay sa Mindanao. I was advised to take out that entry because it will "diminish" my aim for objectivity as a journalist. "That is so unprofessional and unbecoming". Then I was advised to have balance in this blog. Well thank you for your 2 cents worth!

I am happy that this shoestring endeavor pretending to be a blog has its few followers. Very few to be exact. Honestly, I average only 15-20 visitors a day (excluding my own visits). That's one reason I wonder high why my "friend" is worried. I'm sure it gets circulated, I know this is the internet.

Thank you for your concern. But this is a PERSONAL blog. Nobody tells me what to post or not to post here.

And you tell me to learn how to accept defeat. What defeat? Ah OK. The 173-32 vote. OK. I got you. I should understand why you think like that. You only think this is just the affair of the members of the House of Representatives. That's your call. Me? I would rather make the people decide after this.

Besides, even if my opinion is alligned with the opposition, whom many I also doubt, I don't really mind. I refuse to be boxed in partisan politics where people are stripped off their humanity and polarized as if life is just about administration-opposition.

My intentions go up higher than that. This is not just an exercise of political rights, but a matter of keeping humanity intact. This is not just becoming humane, but human. Basic!

I will speak up my mind. I will post more dissenting blogs. I will continue to advance the truth. I will continue to adhere to justice, fairness, transparency, and democracy.

That is where my aspiration to be a professional journalist is founded.

It doesn't matter if my mind speaks the language of the losers in the impeachment bid. I dont mind because in that sense losing means courage, quest for truth, justice, transparency, integrity, heroism, peace of mind, and a million other noble things of virtue.

Certainly, I don't want to speak the language of the victors, if it means allegiance to accused cheaters, obstructors of justice; mediocre, corrupt, flawed leadership--those who could not lead by example, those who do not give a chance for truth to pacify the mind of a free people.

I do not want to be among the victors if that means having no balls to stand by the principles that built this nation.

I will continue to be human even if I'm a journalist confronted with all the lures of the world to put personal interests over the public's.

I pray to God for guidance, provision and protection as I live humanity like a freeman. At least, I aspire to be.

Conscience list

This long list is found in almost every website or blog that covered the House plenary vote from Aug. 24-25 on the impeachment of HER EXCELLENCY GLORIA ARROYO. (Capitalization, bold text, red font color to emphasize disgust. Missing middle name intended, because it sounds like the Filipino term for "thick" and I might be tempted to put it instead.)

But I will call this "conscience list". For the 173 who voted to junk the impeachment (in turn stood that Arroyo did not cheat, is honest, is a good president and model to the youth), I only have prayers. Beginning today, I will pray for their defeat in the next elections. I will pray that they could sleep peacefully at night. I will pray that they will not suffer the pain of being hit by the truth when it is time to reckon. But I will pray for their good health so that they have enough life to feel the consequences of their sacred vote.

I don't want to judge these people. But they are who they are and they have chosen that.


Affirmative votes:
1. Benjamin Abalos, Jr.
2. Bienvenido Abante Jr.
3. Harlin Abayon
4. Roque Ablan Jr.
5. Rodolfo Agbayani
6. Rodolfo Albano III
7. Proceso Alcala
8. Felix Alfelor, Jr.
9. Joel Mayo Almario
10. Antonio Alvarez
11. Genaro Rafael Alvarez III
12. Prospero Amatong
13. Hussin Amin
14. Rodolfo Antonino
15. Trinidad Apostol
16. Jesus Reynaldo Aquino
17. Munir Arbison
18. Ignacio Arroyo
19. Augusto Baculio
20. Alipio Badelles
21. Leovigildo Banaag
22. Roseller Barinaga
23. Salacnib Baterina
24. Claude Bautista
25. Luis Bersamin
26. Ferjenel Biron
27. Anna York Bondoc
28. Narciso Bravo Jr.
29. Danton Bueser
30. Elias Bulut
31. Belma Cabilao
32. Douglas Cagas
33. Roberto Cajes
34. Carmen Cari
35. Bobbit Carlos
36. Tranquilino Carmona
37. Nanette Castello-Daza
38. Fredenil Castro
39. Arthur Celeste
40. Antonio Cerilles
41. Edgar Chatto
42. Leonila Chavez
43. Erwin Chiongbian
44. Solomon Chungalao
45. Eufrocino Codilla Sr.
46. Mark Cojuangco
47. Guillermo Cua
48. Junie Cua
49. Antonio Cuenco
50. Rodriguez Dadivas
51. Samuel Dangwa
52. Simeon Datumanong
53. Del de Guzman
54. Jose de Venecia
55. Arthur Defensor
56. Matias Defensor
57. Raul del Mar
58. Antonio Diaz
59. Baisendig Dilangalen
60. Abdullah Dimaporo
61. Victor Dominguez
62. Mauricio Domogan
63. Jack Duavit
64. Faysah Dumarpa
65. Tomas Dumpit
66. Ramon Durano VI
67. Consuelo Dy
68. Faustino Dy
69. Glenda Ecleo
70. Eileen Ermita-Buhain
71. Gerardo Espina Jr.
72. Amado Espino Jr.
73. Edgar Espinosa
74. Emilio Espinosa
75. Conrado Estrella III
76. Peter Paul Jed Falcon
77. Catalino Figueroa
78. Eduardo Firmalo
79. Antonio Floirendo
80. Orlando Fua Jr.
81. Albert Garcia
82. Vincent Garcia
83. Janette Garin
84. Ernesto Gidaya
85. Raul Gonzalez Jr.
86. Oscar Gozos
87. Eduardo Gullas
88. Joey Hizon
89. Gregorio Ipong
90. Nur Jaafar
91. Eladio Jala
92. Cecilia Jaloslos-Carreon
93. Cesar Jalosjos
94. Exequiel Javier
95. Uliran Joaquin
96. Josefina Joson
97. Simeon Kintanar
98. Jose Carlos Lacson
99. Danilo Lagbas
100. Edcel Lagman
101. Marcelino Libanan
102. Teodoro Locsin
103. Jaime Lopez
104. Mikey Macapagal-Arroyo
105. Benasing Macarambon Jr.
106. Emilio Macias II
107. Sunny Rose Madamba
108. Amang Magsaysay
109. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay
110. Corazon Malanyaon
111. Suharto Mangudadatu
112. Alfredo Marañon Jr.
113. Rodante Marcoleta
114. Roger Mercado
115. Florencio Miraflores
116. Anthony Miranda
117. Abraham Kahlil Mitra
118. Rafael Nantes
119. Francis Nepomuceno
120. Reylina Nicolas
121. Ernesto Nieva
122. Prospero Nograles
123. Arrel Olaño
124. Ernesto Pablo
125. Pedro Pancho
126. Jacinto Paras
127. Remedios Petilla
128. Prospero Pichay
129. Arthur Pingoy Jr.
130. Monico Puentevella
131. Herminia Ramiro
132. Isidoro Real Jr.
133. Jesus Crispin Remulla
134. Victoria Reyes
135. Miles Roces
136. Isidro Rodriguez
137. Antonino Roman
138. Jesus Jurdin Romualdo
139. Eduardo Roquero
140. Gerry Salapuddin
141. Joey Salceda
142. Federico Sandoval
143. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete
144. Hans Christian Señeres
145. Lorna Silverio
146. Eric Singson
147. Jose Solis
148. Nerissa Corazon Soon-Ruiz
149. Danilo Suarez
150. Victor Sumulong
151. Mary Ann Susano
152. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado
153. Judy Syjuco
154. Emmylou Taliño-Santos
155. Gilbert Teodoro
156. Herminio Teves
157. Acmad Tomawis
158. Generoso Tulagan
159. Aurelio Umali
160. Renato Unico Jr.
161. Edwin Uy
162. Reynaldo Uy
163. Edgar Valdez
164. Florencio Vargas
165. Rene Velarde
166. Eduardo Veloso
167. Luis Villafuerte
168. Ma. Amelita Villarosa
169. Eleuterio Violago
170. Laurence Wacnang
171. Antonio Yapha
172. Eduardo Zialcita
173. Juan Miguel Zubiri (from Bukidnon)

I only have high respect for those who voted for Filipinos to see Arroyo in trial --once and for all to clarify, investigate, make transparent and end the confusion and distrust of people to government. I offer prayers for success, good life, bountiful blessings, good health for good life and above all a place in Heaven for you when God reckons us for our deeds here on earth. Congratulations!

Negative votes:
1. Henedina Abad
2. Nereus Acosta (from Bukidnon)
3. Benjamin Agarao
4. Mario Aguja
5. Juan Edgardo Angara
6. Darlene Antonino-Custodio
7. Agapito Aquino
8. Benigno Aquino III
9. Teddy Casiño
10. Alan Peter Cayetano
11. Justin Marc Chipeco
12. Francis Escudero
13. Roilo Golez
14. Teofisto Guingona III (also from Bukidnon)
15. Mujiv Hataman
16. Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel
17. Ruy Elias Lopez
18. Renato Magtubo
19. Manuel Mamba
20. Imee Marcos
21. Rafael Mariano
22. Liza Maza
23. Florencio Noel
24. Saturnino Ocampo
25. Rodolfo Plaza
26. Gilbert Remulla
27. Etta Rosales
28. Rolex Suplico
29. Lorenzo Tañada III
30. Joel Villanueva
31. Joel Virador
32. Ronaldo Zamora

1. Joseph Santiago

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Congress vote: How to obstruct justice

The crooks, cowards and obstructors of justice masquerading as representatives of the people in the House voted 173-32 to finally junk impeachment complain versus the President.

I listened to some of those who explained their 'junk' votes and I realized that I have overestimated the 2% trust and confidence level I placed with the House. It is (except for some brave few) an unreliable institution in the Philippine society.

Do you really think people can move forward with this? No.

If you are not allowed to present evidence in court, where? Sense and sensebility is dead. I join the national day of mourning.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Journalists as peacebuilders ...

Originally uploaded by waltzib. one great task, but the role has to be played. There is too much violence, conflicts, wars and misunderstanding. Are we part of the solution or the problem?

I got messed with these reflections on August 10 when I was asked to speak on Peace Writing to at least 150 campus journalists. Carol asked me to give the talk in her place for she was on a mission to Manila.

It was hard to give the talk because of the short notice and the sensitive topic required ample preparation. Although I studied peace journalism as a journalist, I still feel insufficient. Peace Journ was the theme of the Second Mindanao Media Summit in 2004 and a short term course on media as peace builders before that. My experience with peace journalism is solely with MindaNews. We simply refer to it in the news service as "Reporting Mindanao" as it is not only about "peace writing" but a study of Mindanao's histories and other dynamics.

But it was harder to refuse giving the talk even with the haste. We all need to look closer at the need for peace in these trying times. And the best people to talk to about it are the youth of Mindanao who are its future leaders in government, business, military, media or wherever. If we start it right by letting the youth understand, then, perhaps the future of journalism and peace in Mindanao is bright.

So there goes --- a morning of workshop with Southeastern Mindanao's campus journalists. Thanks to MindaNews, the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCO), Acts for Peace, DepEd and the others behind the workshop.


On August 21, on board the Coast Guard’s MV Nueva Vizcaya, Davao reporters were briefed about maritime safety in Mindanao and what they are doing about the oil slick in Guimaras Island in Western Visayas.

It’s a sad thing to hear that the Coast Guard is ill-equipped in responding to this environmental disaster. Read about my story here. The oil slick (or floating films of oil; when oil is exposed to water for a while it hardens”) has now reach the shores of two towns in nearby Iloilo province. This might spread to other areas. But this story also tells an encouraging gesture of hairdressers to help address the problem. Read about what they did here.

Surely, Petron and partners who own the sunken Solar 1 and its cargo lost money in this accident. But they have to pay for its effect to the environment, life and livelihood of people in the area.

There is a sign that the accident will become one reason for people to unite to help each other. This should result in greater caution in maritime transportation and more protection of the environment. Also, closer watch by the Philippine Coast Guard.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I like to see people celebrating. I want to see celebration everyday, in appropriate magnitude. I love celebrations. God too wants people to celebrate. It is such a big gift. Humanity deserves humanity or even more than that.

Certainly it is a better sight than suffering. Also, much better than fighting in big or small wars – armed or verbal and yet all are pointless.

But I have no fancy for big festivals. It goes for Kadayawan or any big similar festival for that matter. I should say I like to see “unity of people” but not paraded in hordes in the streets for “pride’s sake”. C’mon!

One thing I do not like is probably parading itself. I’m sure parading has its merits. I’m sure it is not a universal tradition for nothing. I will not explain on that.

But for one, I hate to be in the midst of a big, strange crowd. I attempted to cover the “indak-indak” (street dancing), my first time. I got suffocated in the midst of people. It is like imprisonment for me, especially that I went there alone. (I should say I’m coping with a certain level of solitude and that didn’t work well with the multitude of people.) It is not the performers or their performance of course.

Yes I walked through the streets like its mine. My steps responded to the beating of the drums and sound of bugles, as if marching. When the contingent from, I think Kidapawan, invited the public to dance with them, I took the challenge. I’m not new to street dancing (and parties all out). I’ve done more when I was in Iloilo’s Dinagyang, Kalibo’s Ati-atihan, or Bukidnon’s Kaamulan.

Maybe I’m not just into fanciful things. I’m not into putting up shows just to make a statement. Although, it is such a positive statement to celebrate amid difficulties. But if it shows, you don’t have to show it, right? Oooops, that’s my opinion.

Earlier, I went out with friends from Lingkod for events in the Matina Town Square. I had fun, but I think it was because I was with friends. Even if it wasn’t Kadayawan, we would have enjoyed it still.

I would want happiness not just manifested in how loud the drumbeats are or how many people are out in the streets to “have fun”. I like tourism – people should not be strangers to their own place and culture. What I don’t like is to see it highly commercialized.

Someone castigated me for this “highlander” outlook. “That’s where we all are headed to!”, I was told. I disagreed but I did not argue. Unity could be manifested in celebrations like Kadayawan. Good that we can now have celebrations like Kadayawan these days.

But growing concerns hinder these celebrations from becoming appropriate and fitting. To name one of many is the growing number of people who died of summary killings right in this “civilized city”! I was shocked at news of death, especially when people do not know who kills and why the killings.

I hate counting how many people had been slaughtered in Davao's killing fields. But I think there is a need to! I usually frown at newspapers bannering violence, especially discovery of bodies in Davao's remoted places, but they better put it that way than choose to accept it as the norm. Even if Davao has become a killing field, death of any person via summary killing or any means is still news!

If celebrations should go despite that, OK. Life must go on. But the wheels of justice should be moving too! We should be updated about investigations on these deaths. Yes, I like to see celebrations, but if you see these deaths alongside, makes you asked what's the celebrations for?
I heard reports that those killed where criminals anyway. So an erring human being becomes a cheap piece of meat just because he is in conflict with the law?

How's that for a celebration?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Updates: What is up in Guimaras?

Originally uploaded by waltzib.
Since it is far-far away from Mindanao, I almost did not feel the effects of the oil spill in Guimaras Island between Negros and Panay Islands. That is until a schoolmate from UP Miag-ao in Iloilo blogged about it yesterday.

I used to live in Iloilo as a student and as a very young worker. Most of the time during weekends, friends and I cross the Guimaras Straight to enjoy the beach and the sun in the island. The distance between Jordan or Buenvista towns in Guimaras and the wharf near Gomez St in downtown Iloilo City is just a little farther than that of Sasa Onse and Babak in Samal Island.

I really love the countryside, especially the shoreline. In fact I remembered a good friend of mine and I went biking along a stretch of road along the beach in Nueva Valencia town, Guimaras during sun down. I also went to Taclong Island marine reserve where UP runs a research center.

What will happen to beautiful Guimaras with the oil spill? What lessons could be learned by us in Mindanao from this experience? (Photo taken not in Guimaras; but in Mati, Davao Oriental courtesy of Keith Bacongco)