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.

Friday, June 30, 2006

[NEWS] RP to use new emergency response system

(Note: From the MindaNews news service. Not yet available as of posting time at Here is one for the National Disaster-Consciousness Month this July.)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 June) -- Disaster coordinating councils will
institutionalize the use of “incident command system” (ICS) around the country to make emergency responses more organized and effective, the chief of the Southern Mindanao regional Office of the Civil Defense said.

OCD Regional Director, Carmelito A. Lupo told MindaNews Friday that the OCD will coordinate with Regional Disaster Coordinating Councils to train representatives from their provincial and city level counterparts “to mainstream ICS from the regional to the barangay level”.

The OCD and its support government agencies briefed representatives of News organizations here to commemorate also the Disaster Consciousness Month.

According to an Internet posting, the ICS is a management system first used in the United States to organize emergency response. It was designed to offer “a scalable response to incidents of any magnitude”. It was developed inthe 1970s, when California was battling significant wildfires.

Emergency managers learned that the existing management structures-frequently unique to each agency - did not scale to dealing with massive mutual aid responses involving dozens of distinct agencies,” the Internet webpage stated.

ICS was developed by various agencies to “provide a consistent,Integrated framework for the management of large, multi-agency emergencies”.

Lupo said the guiding point to the ICS is the emergence of an “incident commander” who will be the point person for the specific emergency situation.

The point person, Lupo said, will manage the actions to be taken and shall coordinate the efforts done by all agencies involved in responding to the emergency situation.

At present, Lupo said, efforts are often uncoordinated, “thus the emergency response is not smoothly carried out.

In this way, we will carry the command center from the head office to the field where emergency responses are carried out, he said.

But Lupo said the ICS, already used by some emergency response groups like Davao City’s 911, is nothing new. “We just have to enhance the system and make it work,” he said. He said they will mainstream the system in partnership with the local government units, with OCD providing technical support.

The OCD executive said the ICS will make emergency response management more organized and effective in the Philippines. Lupo, who is also the executive officer of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC), said six Filipino directors of OCD went to Vietnam this year to attend an ICS training organized by a disaster-preparedness unit in the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). He joined the OCD regional directors in an echo training conducted by the group.

He said the initial plan was to start training representatives from the provincial and city coordinating councils, at least in Region 11, in July. But plans may proceed only in August due to changes made in the training module, which shall be given to representatives from the local police, fire bureau, health office and from the mayor’s and the governor’s office.

The ICS was also among the emergency response measures recommended by the task force investigating the February 2006 Ultra stampede that killed 74 people. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Reflections: Should we add to the "culture of divisiveness" in this country?

DAVAO CITY - When the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) posted a blog on June 26 about the second impeachment complaint filed by the opposition against President Arroyo (New Impeachment complaint filed today vs. Arroyo as one-year bar lapses), it generated the highest number of comments in a period of 10 days, at least.

It got 63 comments as of 10 p.m. of June 29. The next post with the highest number of comments in the 10 day period (from June 19 to June 29) was that on the post that NAMFREL was part of the poll fraud cover up with 46 comments (as of 10p.m. of June 29, with the last comment posted on June 23.)

When I read the posts comment by comment, slowly I became aware of the complexities of issues and also the spins of the bloggers in manipulating the discussions. At one point I liked the arguments laid on the table and the skillful exchange of both reasonable and unreasonable responses.

But towards the end I realized that they were leading to no where but more misunderstanding. I got tired of reading it because I didn’t see the end of it at all. I understand I have no luxury of peace of mind, especially in this complex, war-freak and so politically charged country, that’s why I have to back off. But I left my imprints behind. Here are my comments to the comments:

Haay, what lessons are we learning from these exchanges?

Maybe we need to pause and reflect about the meanings of it all. It would also really be of help if those who posted comments (especially those who lodged energies to discuss on the issue above) are more transparent about their identities. Wala lang mang link to their blogs (if any).

Of course I am thankful and also I feel lucky to have read the posts here and the subsequent comments. Salamat sa lahat who posted their opinion, ang sarap pala talaga when there is freedom of speech no?

But maybe we also need to reflect from time to time and not only assert, criticize and argue.

I really tried to grasp the nuances of the discussions and trying (to no avail) to pick up some valuable lessons so that I'll end up not wasting my time.

Tuloy, it made ma ask myself: Ano ba talaga ang patutungohan ng talakayan dito? Meron bang purpose above self interests? Self expression lang ba? Pa bonggahan ng argumentative skills? Pa taasan ng ihi? Or are we here to build divisions, like pro Arroyo and anti-Arroyo?

Sa akin kasi, we have to debate, yes. But let the debates move towards a direction, if possible merong "end in sight" or resolution (napaka idealistic ko siguro). If possible we bridge understanding, compassion and sobriety di ba dapat yaon ang culture na dapat nating ipalaganap lalo na sa panahong divisive masyado ang politics natin?

I have reflected on that personally. Now, I commit to become part of a long process of bridging this country’s divides rather than help widen the gaps! This does not mean complacency and indifference on my end. For sure that won't help too.

Ewan mga Ate at Kuya, nagkakagulo man sa ating bansa, in the end we will find out iisa lang tayo. Di naman naka tatak sa DNA nating mga pinoy na magugulo talaga tayo. Hindi rin yan naka ukit sa ating genome na dapat away na lang tayo ng away. Sa tingin ko, we used to be magnanimous: we were capable of uniting and helping each other in good will for the best of all.

Kaya sa tingin ko, aahon tayo from the mess we situate ourselves now. But its for the long haul. In the meantime, I plan to view the big problem piece by piece. Which I think we all can do, by being the small/little change or help this country can use.

Yes to the debates! Yes to unity amid diversity! (I admit naging preachy ako and also a bit corny, but that's what I have to say. Sorry to those who might find this post a waste of time. Thanks to those who at least gave it a thought. Smile. Indeed there are better things in life. And, besides, we all deserve not just the better, but the best! Cheers!)

[NEWS] Ombudsman Mindanao opens de Oro office

(Note: For those who dread traveling long distance just to file a complaint against erring public officials and employees in their areas in the northern part of Mindanao, here is a good news. BUT I consider it good news indeed in our collective quest for integrity in public service and good governance. )

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 June) -- The Office of the Ombudsman inMindanao (OMB Min) announced the opening of its Cagayan de Oro extension office to offer "frontline services" to the public in theNorthern part of the island.

Teresita Angeles, chief of the Graft Prevention Unit of OMB Min, toldMindaNews that they had a "soft opening" of the new Cagayan de Oro extension office last June 20.

The extension office, with five employees for a start, is located atDoña Emeteria Building, Osmeña St., Ext. . Lawyer Ma. Iluminada Viva,OIC regional director from Davao City, will head the office.

Angeles said this will help provide greater access to the public especially those in, but not limited to, Northern Mindanao. But there are still some transactions that need to be done in Davao City,Angeles said.

The office will serve as a "dulugang bayan" or drop-off point for transactions. It can also provide public assistance, do graft prevention and advocacy campaigns, and receive communication. The graft investigations would still be done in Davao City, Angeles said.

The OMB Min plans to make the regional extension office fully functional with at least 50 employees but provided no date when thatwould happen.

The Cagayan de Oro office will cut travel time for those transactingwith the Ombudsman from cities like Zamboanga, Iligan, and Pagadian.Since 1988, the Office of the Ombudsman served the whole Mindanao areawith only one office in Davao City.(Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pamalandong: Istambay sa Mindanao

DAKBAYAN SA DABAW - Nakapaskil sa sulod sa suki nako nga barber shop sa Matina mao ang pasidaan nga: "Hoy istambay bawal ka dinhi".

Natingala ang akong barbero nga si Dhods ngano nakangisi ko. "Naunsa ka Sir?", pangutana pa niya. “Wala bay,” tubag pa nako dayon niyoko.

Nakapiyong ko kadali sa pagtupi niya sa akong buhok dapit sa agtang. Wa ko nag pa cute uy, nakapamalandong lang kunuhay.

Dautan baya gyud ang imahe sa mga istambay. Gi bawal gani sila sa mga barber shop, sa mga mall, sa mga kan-anan, sa mga inumanan, sa mga simbahan, ug bisan asa. Siguro, tungod kay dili makit-an diha sa mga istambay ang tumong sa mga negosyante nga makasapi.

Unsaon man gud nga paspas baya kaayo ang dagan sa pagdaghan sa mga tao sa Pilipinas. Unya, sa pikas bahin, nagabaklay ra intawon ang ihap sa mga panginabuhian. Pipila lang ang trabaho, gabaha ang gapangita og trabaho.

Usahay "tambay" ang gitawag sa ila o kaha “bay" nalang gyud, labi na sa inistoryahang kanto. Dili ko sigurado hain na nigikan pulong nga istambay, pero basin sa pulong sa English nga "stand by"?

Ang lain pang haduol nga pulong sa English mao siguro kanang "stay put" o kaha "wait". Gipangutana nako si Kokoy, usa ka tigmaneho og padjak sa GSIS Village. Matud pa niya “paghulat" kuno na. Dili pud siya mosugot nga "ayaw paglihuk" kuno ang Binisaya ana.

Pag muhisgot na gani og "istambay" ang mahuna-hunaan dayon mao ang itsura sa usa ka tawo nga "walay trabaho". Kini katong makit-an nga naga "shotting" o tagay diha sa kanto uban ang iyang barkada bisan sayo pa.

Pero ang kadaghanan aning mga tawhana naay gihulat. Mahimong trabaho ba o kaha amigo nga makauban aron mangita og trabaho. Ang uban naghulat og bisan unsang grasya, sama sa pakals o kumbera, suroy, inom, lingaw o kaha bisag unsang grasya “gikan sa langit”.

Kadaghanan sa akong kailang istambay diri sa Dabaw, sa Bukidnon og sa ubang dapit sa Mindanaw naay tagsa-tagsa ka damgo, tinguha, o tumong sa kinabuhi. Matag usa dunay papel nga gi panindugan sa pagkakaron diha sa ilang panimalay o komunidad.

Nakaila nako si Plik-plik, taga Puan, wala naka eskwela, apan paboritong tawgon sa mga silingan labi na sa mga kulbahinam nga mga bulohaton sama sa pagpagkang sa bitin nga nakit-an sa ilalum sa hagdanan.

Duna'y mga dauta'g mga tinguha niining uban sa ila, labaw na kong "tawag sa kapobrehon". Apan bisan sa mga kadagkuan sa atong pangagamhanan, duna gyud tong dili masaligan.

Matud pa sa trabahador nga si Edroy, istambay sa paradahan sa jeep paingon sa Sungko, Lantapan, Bukidnon: "ang kadaghanan baya bay naghandom gyud og kaayohan. Unta makabalik na sa trabaho. Sama nako, unta naa napuy i-kargang mais."

Lahi pud si Edmund nga classmate nako sa high school. Maestro na siya ron. Niadtong 2004, nagtiketero sa siya sa public toilet sa Malaybalay. Matud pa niya "tambay tambay lang sa ko karon. Pagpangandam ba.”

Si Onfred, nga usa ka bag-ong engineer, nag tinda lang sa og barbecue sa Xavierheights, Cagayan de Oro. "Istambay lang sa ko do kay wa pa man niabot ang akong swerte,” matud pa niya.

Para niya, ang importante nga makatuon siya og daghang mga pamaagi aron maka sapi.
"May nalang, at least naa ko'y nahibaw-an nga lain!" matud pa niya sa dihang nagkita mi sa buhatan sa Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC).

Lain-lain ang hulagway sa mga istambay. Naay wala nakahuman og eskwela apan duna'y mga skills sama sa pagpanday. Naay nagahulat moabot ang trabaho o kaha ang gusto niyang trabaho. Naay naghulat kanus-a makabalik sa trabahong gisaad, naghulat nalang og visa.

Apan tanan dunay gimbuhaton o papel sa kasamtangan. Tinuod wala silay income nga insakto, apan duna puy pulos.

Ang istambay diay dili lang katong naa sa kanto. Dili lang katong naga laroy-laroy hangtud mosalop ang adlaw. Dili lang ang mga tawo nga gibawal sa mga establisamento tungod sa ubos nga pagtan-aw sa ilang mga kapasidad.

Duna puy mga istambay nga propesyunal. Duna puy mga tawo nga gipili nila nga mag istambay sa. Apan, ang kadaghanan sa mga istambay nagahandom pud nga makab-ot ang ilang mga nagkalain-laing damgo sa kinabuhi.

Ang pagkaistambay diay usa ka ang-ang sa kinabuhi aron ang tao makamatngon. Higayon kini aron makatuon sa iyang palibot, sa iyang gigikanan ug sa iyang paingnan. Panahon kini aron makatuon og mga pamaagi para makasugakod.

Tungod niini, matawag pud diay ko nga istambay. Naglaroy-laroy sa kalibutan, nagtuo nga naay tumong, ug mapadayonong gisubay ang piniling dalan.

(Reporter sa MindaNews ug dinhi sa Dabaw si Walter I. Balane. Gikan sa Malaybalay City, kanhi siyang editor sa Central Mindanao Newswatch. Mabasa ang iyang ubang mga sinulat sa iyang blog: “Istambay sa Mindanao” sa

Updates: A day in search for Mindanao stories in “national newspapers”

(Mindanews photo by Froilan Gallardo)

I always feel disgusted when the stories I hear and read about Mindanao is only the bad side of the story. Worst, if the stories from Mindanao are not written or are not used at all.

I must confess, I claim part of the errors in the past for writing bad news at times and for not presenting the complete picture. Rest assured, being a part now of a news organization exerting efforts to help improve coverage on Mindanao and help prevent these lapses.

Randomly, if you are from Mindanao and you want to read about what’s going on in Mindanao, don’t expect so much. You’ll never find it in national newspapers.

I took the stories today (June 28) as a sampler. Of the 72 stories or photos featured on the front page of seven of the country’s “national newspapers”, only five are on Mindanao.

The Philippine Star featured a piece on Mindanao entitled: “25 killed in tribal war in Bukidnon". The report situated the supposed tribal war "in a remote village in Bukidnon”. Where in Bukidnon? It did not tell.

It reported about “a fierce gun battle” between “Lumad” and “Muslim” tribes as a result of land disputes between “mountain dwelling Lumad tribe” and a “Muslim farming community.”

The story by Roel Pareño cited the parties of the supposed tribal war as “Ubaan Lumad tribesmen”, “Lumino Lumad tribesmen”, “Lumad Amoran” and "Muslim Diamla tribesmen” in the vicinity nearby “Barangay Lapoc”. The clashes were reported to be "long standing". Does the number (25) of deaths cited in the report include only the recent victims or that of the "long standing" conflict?

The story continued: “Several residents of Barangay Talakag fled their homes to escape the clan war, AFP Southcom chief Maj. General Gabriel Habacon said in a statement”.

Of course there are a lot of loopholes in the story. It did not specify the location of the clashes. The names of the tribe also sound “new” to me (if they are really “tribes” inside Bukidnon). Are they family names or tribal groups? The location of the clashes also is vague. My guess is that it happened along the borders of the Municipality of Talakag (in Bukidnon) and another town in Lanao del Sur. But which barangay? The area is known for clashes on land and natural resources like logging. In 2004, I reported about a clash on logging utilization between two groups of indigenous peoples and upland farmers there with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources earning a tiff with the Provincial Government of Bukidnon and a pro-environment NGO.

I recognize that I don’t know all the tribes in Mindanao, but I really want to know more about the tribal groups cited in the report. How did the ambiguities escape the paper's editors?

This brings to three areas in Bukidnon that are in national newspapers due to peace and order problems: The first two: A barangay in San Fernando (tagged by the National Security Adviser as venue of mass NPA gravesites), Brgy. Zamboanguita/ Brgy St. Peter (now another one, in Brgy. Kulaman as PNA reported on june 28), Malaybalay City (where there are on-going military operations against NPA rebels).

The Star issue also featured a photo of Bukidnon 2nd district Rep. Teofisto Guingona III with his father former Vice President Teofisto Guingona after filing his impeachment petition vs. President Arroyo. That could be a Mindanao photo, the Guingonas being from Bukidnon and Gingoog City. But do people assciate the Guingonas as from Mindanao or as "politicians"?

Business Mirror featured a story of small miners’ groups in Diwalwal urging the government to open the rich gold deposits in the deeper levels in the mine fields of Mt. Diwata in Monkayo, Compostela Valley. The main source of the story, Franco Tito, Diwalwal’s barangay captain, asked the government whether its heart is with small scale miners or the big scale miners now that the Supreme Court declared the 729-hectare area of mountain slopes and valley under full government jurisdiction and voiding all private claims either for exploration or ownership of concession.

Some people are afraid that this mining field would go to foreign mining firms leaving the small miners displaced.

Meanwhile, the Business Mirror used a feature story “Is the tourism boom finally happening?” written by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo, a contributor in the paper’s Perspective section. The story is about RP hotels gearing up for visitor influx, but only cited hotels in Manila, Luzon and the Visayas, specifically Bohol and Cebu.

It only mentioned “Mindanao” once in the story, as a reference where Cebu is (that is in the group of islands between Luzon and “Mindanao”. Thanks to geography, Mindanao was mentioned.)

The missing Mindanao angle in the tourism report on RP hotels impressed, in my opinion, that Mindanao is not at the receiving end of the tourism boom. Or that there is no tourism to talk about in Mindanao? The story also did not tell that, but well what's not said might say a lot more.

Malaya also featured a story on “2 Indonesian bomb experts on the lose (in Maguindanao). This might be the same story as that of the Manila Standard Today’s page 3 story on “Al Qaeda rebels, allies training in Mindanao”. The story kept on referring to the “training” and the suspects at large to be in the “vast marshlands of Mindanao.”

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, which runs a Mindanao bureau, did not have a story on Mindanao in the front page. But on page A7, they used the story on "2 MILF commanders eyed on bomb attack on (Magundanao) governor". Does this paint a picture that could blur the peace process between the government and the MILF?

Are the reports representing the real situation in Mindanao?

The good thing is that Manila Bulletin used a story entitled “ARMM business forum opens trade opportunities” at the bottom of its front page, which could at least tell that there are also business opportunities in Mindanao today. The ARMM business forum is held in Lamitan, Basilan, which is featured as having an on-going transformation from being the “playground” of the Abu Sayyaf group into a province back “on its feet”.

The report cited that the forum participants issued a Declaration of Policy and Program of Action submitted to the ARMM governor, which calls to push for the creation of an industry development for rubber, seaweeds, among others.

There are many good stories in Mindanao. They go side by side with the bad ones, it is just that they don’t get published. What's even more disgusting is when these few stories on Mindanao gets through editors with all the ambiguities, lack of details and perspectives, thus affecting public understanding on the subject. That adds to the distortions on what’s really happening or not happening around Mindanao.

This reminds me of our one big dream in MindaNews: One day, when we have the resources, we will publish a Mindanao-based, Mindanao-owned and Mindanao-focus, "daily newspaper of national circulation" or at least a magazine.

Well, as one friend reminded me: "Dream and your dreams will fall short."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

[NEWS] Can public officials avoid graft and corruption?

Originally uploaded by waltzib.
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 June) – Yes, they can and Davao City’s 180 Barangay captains and around 40 mayors from Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao) will find out how when they attend separate gatherings on public accountability and good governance this week.

Teresita Angeles, chief of the Graft Prevention Unit of the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao said this is part of their ongoing preventive information drive to stop graft and corruption.

Davao City’s barangay captains will attend the seminar workshop on Integrity development and public accountability on June 28 at the Grand Men Seng Hotel in Davao City.

The workshop will cover discussions on the Office of the Ombudsman, experiencing corruption, public accountability, statutory perspectives and moral values and ethics, according to a statement from the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City.

On June 29, at the Grand Regal Hotel here, some 40 municipal and city mayors from North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur will attend the 1st Conference on Integrity and Governance for municipal mayors.

The conference, according to the statement, “aims to enhance the local officials’ familiarity on possible malpractices and common violations of public ethics and anti-graft laws”.

Angeles said the conference includes a presentation on the Best
Practices on Good Governance by the STARCM or the Support to Agrarian Reform Communities in Central Mindanao, which is one of the conference sponsors.

Fr. Albert Alejo, executive director of Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue, will facilitate the reflections on integrity and good governance.

Atty. Gay Maggie Violan will present “Common Violations of Anti-graft
laws –The Mindanao Experience” and Atty. Joy Arao will discuss “Lifestyle Check and the Plunder Law”.

Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez will keynote both gatherings.

Since 1996, Angeles said, the Office of the Ombudsman had been
conducting preventive measures like information dissemination, sharing of lessons learned from graft cases, warnings on penalties and advocacies to help curb graft and corruption in the country.

“There were a lot of violations filed against local officials that stemmed from their lack of information,” she said citing the need to educate government officials and employees in all levels about public accountability and good governance.

She clarified that the workshop with the mayors is the culminating portion of at least 15 batches of seminars with employees and officials in the local governments where the 40 mayors come from.

OMB Mindanao’s anti-corruption seminars used the Ehem! Aha! manual on good governance published by the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, according to a press statement.

The Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao, she said, saw the increasing number of cases on graft and corruption as an indicator of increased public awareness on public accountability and good governance. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rewind: Commentary: Trying to revisit Malaybalay's past

By Walter I. Balane / MindaNews / 16 June 2004

MALAYBALAY CITY — On the 15th of June, 127 years ago, Malaybalay was established by the Spanish conquerors as a town or “pueblo.” After years of resistance, local inhabitants, led by Datu Mampaalong, bowed to the Castillan army led by 1Lt. Don Felipe Martinez.

Mampaalong, now the name of a lonely street in the city’s poblacion, was among the respected leaders of Malaybalay’s earlier residents. Malaybalay’s inhabitants, according to accounts, allegedly came from the “seashores of Northern Mindanao”. According to a copy of the deed of the pueblo’s creation, which MindaNews found at the city library, Mampaalong and 30 other datus “submitted themselves to the sovereignty of the Nation (Spanish crown)” on June 15, 1877.

As recorded, some of the datus named in the deed in Spanish were Datto Manpalon (Mampaalong) who was baptized as Mariano Melendez; Sugola; Mindaguin; Apang; and Bansag. They allegedly took their oath to the Spanish crown on behalf of the estimated population of 453 then. (Malaybalay’s population in 2004 is estimated at 137,579).

For lack of additional records on the oath-taking, one cannot tell if the datus fought first before paying allegiance to the conquerors. Or could they have given their oaths “freely?” If the existing records of Malaybalay’s history are to be the basis, the datus and their ancestors resisted Spanish conquest.

In fact, according to another “brief history” of Malaybalay at the city library, the “last recorded resistance by the inhabitants against the conquering Castillan army” was “sometime in 1850.” The inhabitants resisted foreign aggression, that’s certain. According to a city history reader, at the height of the Spanish conquest of the hinterlands of Mindanao, the Spaniards burned the entire village of what is now known as Kalasungay, now at the northwest part of the city.

All adult male residents in the settlement, it said, were killed while the women and children were taken hostage. At the time, Bukidnon only had five settlements namely, Malaybalay, Sumilao, Linabo (now in Malaybalay), Mailag (now in Valencia) and Silae (Malaybalay). There were no details written about the exploits of the survivors other than the information that those who survived and fled to Silae (a very remote barangay now) slowly returned a few years later and settled near Sacub river (now the site of the Plaza Rizal) under the protection of Datu Mampaalong. Sacub river is now known as Sawaga river.

On the day Mampaalong and the 30 datus took their oath of allegiance to the Spanish, they accordingly embraced Christianity. Since then, June 15, 1877 has been referred to as the foundation day of Malaybalay. But it is interesting to note this entry of Malaybalay’s very limited “written” history. In fact, it was probably taken from pages of Spanish chronicles about their “God, gold and glory” conquest.

The deed I quoted above was from a government document written in Spanish translated by a local government clerk in the 1970s. Now, the document is just a sheet of bond paper fastened together with the “brief history” of Bukidnon’s other localities. If indeed true, the accounts were from the point of view of a conqueror vanquishing his enemies. In fact, so much of 19th century Malaybalay is taken from accounts based on Spanish chronicles.

If there is any written history from other sources, they are not found in Bukidnon’s public libraries and therefore not made available for the public to appreciate. I have yet to see a history of Malaybalay written from the point of view of the Lumads. If today’s generation of Malaybalay residents do not have a clear view of Malaybalay’s history, then it won’t appear significant if June 15 is being celebrated as the town’s foundation day, never mind if it was not a day worth celebrating for their ancestors. But one significant fact remains: unlike in other Spanish settlements around Mindanao, despite the pueblo’s being named as “Oroquieta del Interior,” the name Malaybalay, accordingly a Castillan slip in the pronounciation of “walaybalay,” is still the name of Bukidnon’s capital. The celebration of Malaybalay’s foundation day is actually a celebration of the inhabitants “submission” to the Spanish crown; the creation of the “pueblo” being just a “consuelo de bobo”.

The deed goes: “…His excellency the Governor General, Don Domingo Moriones Y Murillo, who actually represents His Majesty in these Islands; he was accepting the submission tendered by the above named magnates (31 datus) for themselves and in the form and under the conditions offered; promising them [the inhabitants] to the protection and assistance necessary against their enemies, such as the maintenance of peace and order, as long as they remain loyal and faithful to their oath, and to commemorate their oath of allegiance, he is declaring the establishment of the town under the name Oroquita, to which the subject[sic] agrees.

The use of the words “submission” and “subject” indicate the conditions of the datus at that time. . Apparently, the use of June 15 to celebrate Malaybalay’s foundation day is a big mockery of its indigenous ancestry; showing submission rather than courage and zealousness. Although I can imagine the datus celebrating with the Spaniards after the creation of the pueblo, I can guess they would have wanted something better if only they had the choice. Certainly, the day wasn’t really a day of jubilation. I could only guess it was a day of defeat. Marking the foundation day on June 15, 1877 would only give credit to the Spanish conquest more than the resistance. No one can change the past.

But of course, understanding the past could very well be a good guide to understanding the present and charting the future. My argument does not intend to look down on Datu ampaalong and the other tribal leaders for their submission to the Spaniards. Certainly, there were merits in the “submission” owing to the organization of the “pueblo.” But what
I am trying to point out is, which part of their struggle, if any for a concept of “a people,” is being “honored” in the celebration? Is it the part when they stood against aggression or when they surrendered to aggression? Adding salt to injury, the city held a joint celebration of Philippine Independence Day and 127th Foundation Day on June 12 at the city’s Freedom Park.

According to reliable sources at the city government, the coincidence was unintentional for it has been a tradition for Malaybalay to mark its foundation day on the nearest Saturday to June 15. But there lies the irony in this year’s joint “celebration.”

Independence Day celebrated together with the commemoration of the day the local datus “submitted” and subjected themselves to the Spaniards? If Malaybalay’s youth had been taught about their history, they would probably have been confused.

Watching the joint “celebration” at Freedom Park last Saturday, I heard local officials calling on the people to be thankful for not only the big blessings but also for the small ones. In times when the “people are at the mercy of societal problems, we should be thankful that we are free,” Mayor Florencio Flores told the crowd composed mostly of government officials and employees.

For sure, the people of Malaybalay are better off without a foundation day celebration that’s founded on defeat. But, they would never know. Malaybalay’s history is not even well stocked in its libraries.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Walter I. Balane reports on Bukidnon for MindaNews).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Reflections: Homecoming on a rainy weekend

I got two plans for my homecoming over that weekend. First, I wanted to go to the field and work. I have received invitation from a barangay official from Zamboanguita, which is in the news for the recent clashes with the government forces and the New People's Army.

I wrote a special report about it off-site, taking advantage of modern technology and some still active connections in the area. It would have been different if I was really there talking to the evacuees, residents, local officials and some observers.

But I just returned from a sick leave so I decided not to proceed. I also considered my present budget constraints. I have to submit that desire to fate and God's plans. I also tried to secure the office's Cannon digital camera before leaving but indeed it wasn't for me. The charger was missing.

So that left me with the second plan (actually the original), which was to hop in on the newest cafes in Malaybalay; at least two of them, which Chiza and I have not yet tried (together). We were suppose to be there early Saturday night but I arrived past 12 midnight.Poor Cinderillo, the stagecoach has become a pumpkin again.
It was disappointing. Ever figured in a similar situation where you wished you could turn back time?

Anyway, we tried to be flexible. We resolved that "our schedules did not allow us to proceed with that plan.So let's have a new one". So, the next day, we went to Valencia City, 34 kilometers away, to renew our license with our favorite pasta hang out, and if a movie entices us, hop in at Bukidnon's only theater.

But before going there and after scouring for cheap buys from Gaisano and on our way to the UK line along the city's growing commercial district; the unfriendly rain poured in heavily. It kept us stranded in a mall. So we strolled the NVM mall with little choices. We peeked at an "all-US imported" shop in the 3rd level I think, to feed our curious minds.

We didn't find much there, except the proof that globalization and cheap Asian labor duped us.Most of the goods, which I believe were truly imported from the US, were made in China! Oh, I know that's not news at all.

It was cold outside and inside too, where the aircom seemed to have done its job.So we decided to take that pasta treat in Greenwhich. Yes, Bukidnon already has branches of these restaurants. Of course, we could have gone to our favorite place, bracing the rain, donning wet look and expectant of colds, again.

But our foolishness has not yet surged to that level.

Honestly, we enjoyed the combo lasagna and carbonara meals, but perhaps more because we had idle time to kill and chat about anything. The misty sight of the world outside added boost to my feel-great sip of a cup of brewed coffee.Hmm. After three hungry fork catch of pasta and a push of lukewarm water, I paused and proposed to Chiza: "Why don't we try cooking for our next tripper?" (Ooops, what kind of proposal was on your mind? Hehe.)

She smiled and agreed. Yes, we both loved to eat, but both of us also have a lot of work to do in the kitchen department.

It is good to be back in Bukidnon. From time to time, being back makes me feel "I belong". Especially during the rainy season, my trips home are memorable.
It reminds me of my wonderful childhood along the streets of Malaybalay and a small highway village in Don Carlos town, in the south.

I used to play along Malaybalay's sidewalk canals, pushing some paper boats and running after them as they disappear in the culvert.

In Don Carlos, I also did the same, only that I did it in the irrigation canals. Our old house used to stand in a lot exactly where the proposed Capitol building for the dreamy Bukidnon del Sur new province would rise. In my grandparents' place, I feel I will lose those memories once the government building will stand there.

I hope the day they will rob us of those precious remembrances won't come soon.

Anyway, enough of reminiscence.

All things end, including the rain that afternoon.

So we paid our bill, took a multi-cab to the bus terminal and from there took a bus back to Malaybalay. We decided to make the "best out of it" and both agreed to call it a nice 'outing' anyway.

That's before we got stranded in Malaybalay's bus terminal. Well, we just got our wet look and shakers, and that's only for a start.

Good thing Papa fetched his church's pastor to the terminal and saw us. We were in our "basang sisiw" state. As we climbed up their L300, and got a taste of fresh paternal sermon (again), we smiled in agreement.

After a cup of instant coffee and some "What exactly are your plans" chatter, each greeted the cold night with a warm smile. It was one fine day despite the bad weather.

Wew, that was a great weekend. "Thank you," I told Chiza (and other words of affection) as I part for home that night. We agreed and planned to have more of those in the next visit.

"Let's call it a night," I said and sealed it with a kiss.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Special Report: Under Siege: Life in Beleaguered Upper Pulangui

Malaybalay Locator
Originally uploaded by waltzib.
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 June) – Juan Paunalong, 54, kept thinking about the future of his family as he led them to safe grounds on the eve of heavy fighting between government forces and the New People's Army (NPA) near their village in Malaybalay City's mountainous Upper Pulangui area.

For him, the children's lives were important; never mind the belongings.

Together with neighbors, members of the Higaonon tribe, they walked across five kilometers of darkness from remote Malilong village to the "sentro" (center) of Brgy. Zamboanguita.

It was only when dinner was served at the evacuation site, courtesy of the barangay government, when he realized that, indeed, he, his wife and four children brought nothing else but the clothes on their back.

The Paunalongs were among at least 600 people from four villages in barangays
Zamboanguita and St. Peter who were displaced by the fighting between the military and the NPA, considered the biggest thus far after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared an all-out offensive against the leftist rebels.

On June 16, in Isabela province in Northern Luzon, the President ordered the release of P1-B additional budget to fund renewed operations against the NPA.

A few hours later, at around 5 that afternoon, residents began evacuating as a result of military operations in this small village in Northern Mindanao.

For retired Col. Francisco Simbajon, spokesperson of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, it was only a coincidence. He denied, in a June 23 phone interview with MindaNews, that the fighting was signaled by the Presidential instruction.

He said the military was continuing its pursuit of the NPA guerrillas that day but chasing them actually earlier began on June 8. The NPAs were reported to have burned at least seven heavy equipment vehicles in Zamboanguita, he said.

The big bulk of the evacuations happened on June 17. Residents heard the gunshots and saw more government forces pour into their villages to engage the NPA on the ground, with aerial support.

As of June 22, the military reported that the heavily armed guerillas reportedly led by Leonardo Pitao, alleged leader of the NPA in eastern Mindanao, had put up a stiff resistance. Based on military reports, seven rebels and two government soldiers were killed while two other soldiers were wounded.

On June 20, the National Democratic Front called the encounter "NPA harassment operations" in an update posted at
The report was posted by a Cesar Renerio, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in North Central Mindanao area, and credited the June 16 encounter to the NPA's Rexan Perez command in Bindum, Busdi, Malaybalay City.

Renerio reported that on June 16, a squad of “Red fighters” under the Rexan Perez command harassed the government troops "conducting operations" in Bindom at around 4 p.m. Two soldiers were killed and another was wounded. The report said that at 8 a.m. of June 17, another soldier was killed and two others were wounded in continuing encounters.

On June 18, at 9 am, the report continued, government’s Huey helicopters strafed
the mountains of Pantaron range with machine guns, which triggered the evacuation of residents in the villages of Mahayag, Malilong, Biernesa at Baloodo in Zamboanguita and St. Peter.

At least 360 people, from 70 families, were housed in Zamboanguita's elementary school, where classes were suspended since June 19. Around 241 others from 52 families were housed in either makeshift tents or kin's houses in St. Peter, about five kilometers away.

The number of evacuees in St. Peter rose to 125 families as of June 22, as fighting escalated. Zamboanguita and St. Peter belong to a cluster of remote barangays in Malaybalay's Upper Pulangui area, near Bukidnon's boundary with Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte.

Contacted through her mobile phone on June 23, Denia Tajones, 43, one of Zamboanguita's barangay councilors, relayed the evacuees' stories to MindaNews, noting the discomfort of the sound and sight of a helicopter hovering their village as she spoke.

Tajones chairs the barangay council's committee on health, women and family. She said most of the evacuees fled because they were afraid that they might get caught in the crossfire. She said there had been tensions in the past months but nothing compared with the scale of the ongoing clashes.

"Grabe ang kakurat sa mga tawo sa dihang nadunggan nila ang grabe nga buto-buto, ug nakit-an pud nila ang daghang mga sundalo," she said. (The people were shocked when they heard the intensity of the gunfire and the sight of many soldiers.)

Tajones said the villagers also fled for fear that they might be mistaken as members
of the NPA.

Villagers from Purok 5 and 6, Sitio Malilong rushed to Zamboanguita and those from Purok 9 and Sitio Mahayag to Barangay St. Peter. Some people boarded motorcycles but most of them evacuated either on foot or on carabao-drawn carts. Most of them brought belongings placed in old rice sacks and recycled paper boxes.

Because of the haste, Tajones said, villagers lacked extra clothing, slippers, soap, sleeping mats, kitchenware, among others, in the evacuation center. The local government helped with some food items like rice, canned goods, instant noodles, coffee and milk.

In a text message, Father Bogs Tapiadon, the Catholic priest assigned in the
area, said the evacuees were attended to but he noted the increasing military
activity in the area. "At least, the parishioners are in safe grounds,” he said.

Notwithstanding the gunbattles since June 16 and the informal declaration of a "no man's land" over Zamboanguita's Purok 5 and Purok 6 and St. Peter's Purok 9 and Sitio Mahayag, some evacuees managed to sneak back into their farms to attend to their animals and crops.

But many wanted to return home for good. (Tomorrow: Displaced by the displaced)

Under Siege: Displaced by the displaced
Written by Walter I. Balane/MindaNews

Monday, 26 June 2006
Last of two parts

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 June) – As fighting escalated in the Upper Pulangui
in Malaybalay City near Bukidnon's boundary with Davao del Norte and Agusan
del Sur, the number of evacuees rose by the hour.

Already, as of June 23, the count had reached at least 600 persons, from around 120 families from four villages. When the fighting began June 16, there were only 77 families in two evacuation sites in barangay Zamboanguita and St. Peter.

Although continued fighting took place in only a few villages in Barangay Zamboanguita, residents from other villages and even in the barangay center were also affected, according to Barangay Councilor Denia Tajones. She said many residents have farms and relatives in those areas.

Tajones said the military has issued “safe conduct” passes to residents, especially those who move from one village to another. She said this was for the safety of the residents to avoid being mistaken for rebels.

Movement of people was being restricted though residents could still go back to their farms with caution, she said. The military has imposed a curfew beginning at 3 p.m everyday so farmers have to move fast and return to the evacuation center early.

Tajones said the restrictions posed economic difficulties for residents. Most of the evacuees depended on what they could gather from their small farms planted to root crops, fruits and vegetables.

The evacuees also expressed mixed reactions to their life at the centers. Tajones said others were thankful that they did not have to worry to find their meal. But some suffered stomach disorders because they were not used to eating canned goods, like pork and beans, and instant noodles. Canned sardines were an exemption though, as they are used to eating them.

The armed skirmishes were taking their toll on children, who had just returned to school after the summer vacation.

Virginia Flores, of Malaybalay City's social welfare office, said the experience was traumatic to the elders but it was worse to the children who shivered at the sight of soldiers and the sound of gunfire.

Children comprise more than half, or 191, of the 360 evacuees in the Zamboanguita evacuation center, the Malaybalay City's social welfare office reported. The report also estimated the same ratio in the St. Peter site.

The problem is not only limited to children evacuees. Tajones said that around 400 pupils of Zamboanguita Elementary School were also displaced. Since June 19, the Department of Education had suspended classes in Zamboanguita to accommodate the evacuees in the classrooms.

By then, the pupils were just on their fifth day in school since classes opened only on June 13.

Tajones' niece, 11-year old Andrea Mae Demegillo, a Grade 6 pupil, was initially happy when classes were suspended. But she was afraid when she saw the evacuees. Then, she began to worry if they could still hold classes and if ever the evacuees would return to their villages. She saw one of her teachers attending to the evacuees.

On June 24, George Madroñal, Department of Education supervisor for Malaybalay
East district, told MindaNews over the phone that the "small war" in the area has disrupted the children's learning but there is nothing they can do about it.

"We plan to resume classes on June 26. But we are not yet sure about that. We have to listen to the advice of the military and the local school managers," he said.

If classes resumed and the fighting continued, Tajones said, the plan might be to move the evacuees out of the classrooms at daytime and return them there at night for sleep.

Flores said life is different and difficult in an evacuation site “that is why most of the evacuees want to go home, but their need for safety held them.”

She said villagers hoped for the fighting to end so they could return to their normal lives. Tajones, a resident of Zamboanguita, said the evacuees are not only physically taken from their homes. “they are also uprooted from their livelihood, their cultural traditions and their right to peace.”

But the military sees no end in sight as yet.

Ret. Col. Francisco Simbajon, the military's spokesperson in Cagayan de Oro, said the fighting would continue. "There is no timetable set when this would end. We will continue the pursuit operations until the rebels will yield," he said.

Danny Flores, 31, an elementary school teacher from nearby Barangay Busdi told
MindaNews by phone that although the situation was normal there, there were already unconfirmed reports that residents from a far-flung village might evacuate, too.

"We are just waiting for the signal. If they want us to go, we are preparing for it," he said.

Tajones said that while residents and local officials were grateful of assistance from the local government and concerned businessmen from Malaybalay (on June 23, a truckload of rice supply arrived from the provincial government of Bukidnon), Flores also reported that more army vehicles also arrived on that day, carrying with them more combatants. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Updates: Application for M.A. in Journalism

To those who want to pursue further studies
in Journalism here's a good read:

Konrad Adenauer
Asian Center for Journalism
At the Ateneo de Manila University (ACFJ)

Dear friends and colleagues,

Applications for second term admission to the M.A. Journalism are now
being accepted. Deadline is 31 August 2006.

The M. A. Journalism offered by the Ateneo de Manila University is an
interactive program that uses online and conventional learning methods.
The news story in the attachment carries more details. We request you
run it in your print or online news outlet, and announce this
to your staff, colleagues and friends.

Thank you for helping us announce our programs.

All good wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Violet B. Valdez
Executive Director
Konrad Adenauer Center for Journalism
At the Ateneo de Manila University
Tel Nos. (632) 9263253 / (632) 4266001 local 5215
Fax No. (632) 9263254

Contact: CJ Ledesma
Tel. No.: 0063-2-9263253
Fax. No.: 0063-2-9263254

Applications for MA Journalism due 31 August

MANILA, June 2 --- The Ateneo de Manila University is now accepting
applications for second term admission to the Master of Arts in
Journalism, a distance learning program for working journalists run by
the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo (ACFJ).
Deadline is on Thursday, 31 August; classes begin in November.

The master's program stands out among similar programs in Asia with its
use of online learning methods which makes it convenient for working
journalists and other media professionals to follow the courses from
their own homes and workplaces. Ten of the 13 courses comprising the
program are taught using online learning methods.

Moreover, the online learning platform has given the program an
international character. Since its inception in 2003 the program has
attracted journalists - from reporters to senior editors - from 11
Asian countries as well as those from countries outside the region. The
program's faculty likewise comes from various parts of Asia, North
America, Australia and Europe.

The master's program is the flagship program of ACFJ, a joint project
the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the Ateneo. ACFJ also offers
non-degree courses including the Diploma in Radio Journalism and a
of certificate courses. Jointly with the world-renowned World Press
Foundation, ACFJ will launch another new program late this year, the
Diploma in Photojournalism designed for working photojournalists.

Application forms to the graduate program may be requested by e-mail at and are also available from the Ateneo's Office of
Graduate Studies (OGS). For its non-degree programs, ACFJ may be
Reached at

Thursday, June 22, 2006

[NEWS] Envoy: "US not directly involved in all-out war vs. NPA"

Originally uploaded by waltzib.
By Walter I. Balane / MindaNews

(Note: Story courtesy of MindaNews news service and is not yet available at as as of 9:29 p.m. of June 22, 2006.)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 June) -- The new United States ambassador to the Philippines denied that her country is directly involved in the government's all-out war against the New People's Army (NPA).

"We are not involved in specific tactics. Our assistance is focused on
the long range and broad-based campaign against terror," Ambassador
Kristie A. Kenney told reporters today on her first visit here.

Kenney said they leave it to the Philippines to decide on how to
conduct the campaign.

She said assistance given on hardware and the sending of military
advisers is part of a broader campaign not directed to any specific

"Each country has its specific tactics. We are looking at the big
picture," she said.

The ambassador said their role in the Philippine government's
counter-insurgency campaign is just in the training of military and
police personnel. But she said that the same is part of many efforts
like the drive against trafficking of persons and anti-corruption in

"Our over-all concern is the protection of our citizens," she said.

In 2002, the US put the NPA on its list of "foreign terrorist
organizations" for the group, according to the US State Department,
"strongly opposed any US presence in the Philippines and has killed US
citizens there. The group has also killed, injured, or kidnapped
numerous Philippine citizens, including government officials."

On June 16, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department
of Budget and Management to release P2 billion additional fund to
equip the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National
Police in an all-out war against the NPA.

Arroyo issued statements to "crash the NPA in two years." But the
National Democratic Front has belittled the two-year "end game" plan
as a "costly and deadly misadventure."

Kenney, who has been top US diplomat to the Philippines since March 6,
replaced Francis Ricciardone, who was ambassador to the Philippines
and Palau.

Kenney is in town to visit US-sponsored programs in Davao City and for
some speaking engagements. She met with local government and business
leaders and members of the Bishops-Ulama Conference. She also signed a
$179,000 grant to the Visayan Forum Foundation to help expand halfway
house operations for victims of human trafficking.

She announced a $21-million grant through the US Agency for
International Development to fight corruption in the Philippines over
the next two years but said they are still deciding on how it will be
implemented. She also announced a $20-million fund for agriculture

According to the website, Kenney is a
senior member of the US Foreign Service. She served as ambassador to
the Republic of Ecuador from September 2002 to July 2005.

Beginning in 1998, she served as executive secretary of the State
Department for three years, the first woman to hold that key position.

Kenney's overseas postings include economic counselor at the United
States Mission to International Organizations in Geneva, economic
officer at the US Embassy in Argentina, and consular officer at the US
Embassy in Jamaica.

She holds a master's degree in Latin American studies from Tulane
University, and a bachelor's degree in political science from Clemson
University. She also attended the National War College. (Walter I.

(Photo taken from the webpage:

Opinion: Blogging from Mindanao

Originally uploaded by waltzib.

Although I could not speak for the rest of the bloggers in Mindanao, I would like to say my piece about it anyway, at least about why I do this.

I had been asked, probably more than 10 times, why spend my free time on blogging? Another friend asked if I get paid for blogging. Then another one said "make use of your blog to earn money from online advertising schemes".

Why do I blog?

This is a form of free expression. Istambay sa Mindanao is a personal blog.
This allows me to publish in a personal way, what I wanted published. But above all, I want this blog to evolve into something more useful. Ask me what? No idea yet. A while ago, Claire and I were talking about what to do about our blogs. Frankly, I have the slightest idea.

But I'm sure that in blogging, I use the medium to practice writing. It is my passion to write either it is hard or not so hard news, opinion or about anything. Most of the time the articles posted here are "drafts" written in one sitting.

When I make use of this technology to express my thoughts, aspirations, advocacies among other things, I have allowed my own private life to enter a public sphere (the blogoshpere that is).

Whether anyone reads this, is not really as important as my expression of the postings here. But I'm glad there are some visitors. In due time, they will multiply, probably, when this blog has also evolved.

In this blog I also want to use some assertion about my choice of themes in the internet about Mindanao and our province of Bukidnon. In blogging for free, I defy the mainstream media to reach an audience. I’d like to talk about the peace process, about the products of Mindanao among other things. In short, this blog is an effort in leveling the playing field.

Looking around Mindanao, blogging isn't that popular yet. If you go around, you'll see a lot of poverty, although there is hope also that slowly, people are already starting to move from poverty. People around just got so many issues that need to get across! I see this blog as one way to get the message across and communicate to the world what communities want to tell. However, there is still a lot of things to work on this.

I assure you, I am turning this blog into an illustration to friends, especially those in the media, about blogging in general. How can I invite them if I don’t have anything to show them?

At the very least, this blog is a repository of articles, not only a showcase of free expression.

Now do I get paid for this? Of course no, and I refuse to incarcerate myself in that dungeon of commodification and reduce all my actions into monetary terms. Yes I need money to live decently and freely. But no money can buy freedom.

I also refuse to box myself about the style of this blog. It is written in both formal or informal tone/style. Its language is also open. It is in its free form. That's part of the freedom.

Sure, there are rules to follow in blogging, especially in making use of materials owned by others, but here, when you blog, you don't leave your personality behind and become one with most bloggers.

In blogging, you keep your persona in as much as you keep your advocacies. Here you can talk about music, food, issues, gadgets--anything under the sun or over it like God and eternity. Here you can discuss, debate, invite, propose, react, inform, pray, rant. Anything.

There are rules, there are no rules. You choose.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Teyorya: Habermas sa Mindanao

Originally uploaded by waltzib.

Sa ako laging sige ka saway nianang mga tao nga laglum kaayo og mga inistoryahan, bisan gud nga ako laglum gihapon manumdum, na matikdan nako ang akong kalayo sa unsa mang butanga basta mahitungod sa akademik. Mabanda gyud dayon ko basta teyorya na ang hisgutan.

Niadtong istudyante palang ko sa U.P. didto sa Miagao, Iloilo; siguro kinaham na nako niadto ang mga hisgut-intelektual. Niadto pud, pila gud to ka libro ang imong dapat basahon aron ka maka apas sa imong mga maestro. Kumbaga, mao kato ang lingwahe sa pag-tuon nako niadto. Apan, unsa na tong tuiga nga naka basa ko mahitungod sa laglum nga mga teyorya.

Kinsa ba to akong nabasahan? Nalimot na gani ko sa mga apilyido nila, apan nakatuon pud baya ko sa akong subject niadto kabahin sa "social thought" o ang gitawag namo sa una og Soc Sci 2.

Sa dihang nag-desisyon nako nga mamahimong mamahayag o journalist sa Mindanao, naga basa pa gihapon ko ug mga libro, apan gikalimtan ko na gyud tong mahitungod sa teorya.

Mao na nga mura ko og estudyante sa high school kung mag hisgut na gani na si Claire ug Jocan (puro mga magtutudlo sa UP Mindanao nga kauban nako sa MindaNews) mahitungod sa mga social thinkers og ang ilang mga teorya. Mamati gyud ko kay murag nanglumot na ning akong utok nianang teorya.

Usahay pud, bation ko og ka ulit ana nga mga teyorya. Una sa tanan, maka taas kilay ng mga apilyedo sa mga langyaw nga mga teyorista (dili terorista ha!) Dunay ilang gitawag nga si "Focow" ug si "Bordu". Ambot! Kapuyan ko ug hiwi-hiwi sa akong ngabil aron lang nako malitok ilang mga apilyedoha!

Ayaw pud ko kataw-i! Kabalo ko sa spelling sa mga ngalan nianang mga tawhana. Duna lang gyud siguro ko pagdumili pag tuon mahitungod sa teyorya.

Sayon ra man ang mga ngalan sa mga teyorista niadtong akong panahon sa kolehiyo. Si Marx, Si Adams Smith, Si Keynes, si Galbraith, si Locke, si Dante Allegherri, Si Machiavelli, Si Nietzhce. Duna pa gani apilyedo nga "kan-anan" iya apilyedo dali ra kaayo litokon: Si Plato ug apil na pud si Socrates.

Ambot, basin siguro kay mga karaang tawo na to sila. Maong mas sayon basahon ila ngalan. Kay 2006 na man lagi, mao na nga nagka-anam pud ka lisud litokon ang mga ngalan sa mga teyorista. Og kani, pagtuo pud nako, labaw na ba kahang mas lisud sabton ang ilang mga teyorya?

Dunay pagila sa mga teyorista basihan ang ilang mga pagtuo sama sa "post-modern" o kaha, "classical" o kaha "modern". Ambot, labaw na ng "post-modern" pila na kaha ka libro ang gipahulam sa ako niadto aron nako basahon kabahin ana, mawad-an man jud ko ug gana.

Siguro kay ni barog na ko nga mag gahin na lang sa akong panahon didto sa mag "lihok" o pagpraktis sa akong natun-an og mo dumili nako sa teyorya. GUsto nako practice, dili teyorya. Nahiluna na unta ko niana nga desisyon.

Apan kay ang ako mang amigo (amigo pud sa uban) nga si Bro. Karl Gaspar ang gipaliktyur sa UP Mindanao ug sa Mindanawon School niadtong Hunyo 21, nitambong gyud ko. Una-una, mi dumili pa ko sa dihang giimbita ko para mamati. Apan sa nabasahan na nako ang balasahon nga gihatag isip "advance reading", nainganyo ko pagtambong.

Ambot kinsa na si Jurgen Habermas. Taga Frankfurt School man daw na siya didto sa Germany. Basta tungod kay marag gi ankla man ang iyang teyorya sa sitwasyun sa Mindanao, na pugos gyud ko ug tambong aron mamati. Maayo pud ang pagkahan-ay ni Karl sa iyang lektyur mahitungod kang Habermas, usa ka Aleman nga social thinker; kabahin sa Communicative Action Theory: Implications for Mindanao.

Matud pa kay Habermas, sa akong pagsabot, wala pa nahuman ang "modernity" og dapat nga patapuson ni siya aron makit-an gyud ang iyang kaayo. Tumutuo siya sa gitawag nga "force of the better argument" nga mao kunoy tumong sa padayon nga pakiglambigit sa duha ka mga pwersa pamaagi sa "communicative action", dala ang gitawag nga "validity claims" sa matag usa. Sa in-ani, matud pa niya, makab-ot kuno ang pag sinabtanay (paagi sa open and free communication) nga mamahimong giya ngadto sa pagpanday sa mga panaglahi (dili kuno conflict, class struglle o unsa ba, kung si Marx pa ang pasultion).

Mouyon ko niya, paagi sa gitawag pud nga "reconstruction". Apan dili man tanan nga gi-tuohan niya ug sa uban pud nga mga teyorista, ako pung tuohan. Basta mopili ra ko kinsang teyorya ang akong kutloon, 'way buotay.

Didto lang ko nakangisi sa gitawag nga "pagbulag" (uncoupling) sa kalibotang "inato" (lifeworld) ug sa kalibutang sinestema (system). Kay haskang hauma gyud sa gakahitabo sa nagkalain-laing lugar sa Mindanao.

Kabalo ko taas ang lektyur apan kay dali lang man lagi litokon ng "Habermas" nagtuo pud ko nga sayon ra pud siguro sabton ang iyang teyorya.

Nakasabot baya ko, pero ayaw nako pa lektyura mahitungod sa iyang teryorya diri sa "blag". Sunod siguro, dapat motambong pud ka aron ka makasabot, kay dili pud baya sayon tong akong kaagi niadtong lektyura. Hapit ko nag hagok. Apan dili ang paghan-ay ni Karl ang problema. Daan pa ko basta lagi teyorya, wa na gyud ko'y amor ni ana.

Apan, duna pud ko'y daghan natun-an didto. Daghan pud akong namatngunan. Dili man gyud kinahanglan nga paantoson nako akong kaugalingon sa pag tuki nianang teyoryaha isip usa ka trabaho (titser or Master's student). Apan panag-sa, mamati ko sa mga lektyur aron usab mabalanse nako ang akong "practice" ug theory.

Dapat lang diay nga magtuon pud bisan panagsa lang nianing mga teyorya, aron madugangan pud ang imong pagsabot sa mga butang sa imong palibot. Apan, pahingusgan ko gyud nga wala gyud puy lami kung puro nalang teyorya ang nasa utok sa matag batan-on sa Mindanao. Sama ra sa gihapon sa puro nalang "practice" apan walay unod.

Aron mamahimong, "
learned" nga tambay sa Mindanao, nagtan-aw ko karon sa duha, teyorya ug praktis isip dili nga pilianan nimo kung unsa sa duha ang mas maayo. Gitan-aw nako nga mas maayo pa siguro tan-awon ning duha isip mga rekados nga dungan nimong gamiton sa unsa man galing tong imong maayong tumong sa kalibutan.

Og matud pa sa closing remarks ni Agnes Miclat Gacayan didto sa UP Mindanao pagkahuman gyud sa lektyur ni Karl Gaspar: "May the force of the better argument be with you!"

(Gusto unta nako mo share mahitungod sa akong pagkasabot sa lecture ni Karl mahitungod kang Habermas. Apan, sa sunod nalang nga higayon. Usa pud, kay kinahanglan pa nako to ayohon og hobad. Basin pa diay, noh?)


No, Jim, even if a journalist was libelous in his practice, that does not give anyone a license to kill him. And do not accuse me of being too silent about the reports here, there and everywhere about the killing of journalists. How dare you float the idea that I am safer just because I am not in the rural areas? How dare you say some journalists deserve to be killed?

No one deserves to be killed! Every body dies, but one has the right to live up to his last breath until his creator takes the loaned life away from him!

I am silent, yes, because I am also human apart from being a journalist.

I feel fear, I feel pain and I feel anger. I also hate, I also rage and I also cry. And as statistics of this merciless fate for my colleagues flash in my eyes, I feel sad.

My silence is there because I tended to blur between my drive as a journalist, one noble profession, and this sadness.

I feel sad because this is not only about my drive and about my fear. What drives me to work as a journalist is the same reason that drives anyone to serve others. It is the same drive that brings a public school teacher to get up early everyday and prepare for a class with little children who have not eaten breakfast and yet have walked kilometers away just to learn.

I feel sad because if they kill journalists, who aspire only to report about the truth so that we rid our freedoms from threats, then they are actually and symbolically killing our freedom of speech, freedom of expression and our other civil liberties.

Do not think that if they kill journalists, they are only trying to scare journalists and silence them in the act. They are also trying to control not only the press, but also our freedom of speech --which is among our core "rights" as a free people. That means your rights too, Jim! And, they are trying to silence not only journalists, but all including you!

It is not just another crime statistics. It is a big statement that could influence people. That is because the fear that I feel at times as I hear about these reports, is also the same fear that we are planting in the minds of our people when they also see these reports on TV!

People would soon just be blindly obedient about despotic authorities because they are afraid to oppose or protest any wrongdoing. People would soon fear anything and would soon limit their actions based on that precept.

Tolerating these killings will never be good for any society. If elements take justice into their hands, we are bound to a dangerous situation: full of fear, uncertainty and disorder. Tolerating this would push us to a state of mind where we are to dig our own grave in every death.

May we be able to conquer fear resulting from this evil. Let us rage against conditioning the minds of people. No one has the right to kill journalists. No one has a right to kill anyone! No one has the right to trample on our God-given freedom!

Today is the 586th day after MindaNews photo editor, my collegue, housemate and friend Gene Boyd R. Lumawag was killed in Jolo, Sulu. Up to now, his killers are still unknown. We are still seeking justice. We have remained steadfast in doing our job. But things will never be the same again.

Let this be both my prayer, and my rant!

("Jim" is my representation of many people whose minds are "dimmed" by circumstances resulting from the killings of journalists. I met many of these people in many public fora, formal and informal, who see journalists only as the self-crusading, self-serving animal whose work is just to expose other peoples "skeleton inthe closet" . Though a big problem of journalists' ethics and professionalism is haunting this country's news rooms, still, these pitfalls are not reasons enough for the killings. I remember "Jim" as killings are reported in our country almost everyday. Truly, this is becoming the most dangerous country for journalists to work; even if it claims to have the "freeist media in Asia. )

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

[NEWS] Pimentel: P1-B release sans Congress nod makes GMA a dictator

(Publisher's note: Story taken from the MindaNews daily dispatch of news and views on Mindanao. Not yet available at . Photo from Senator Pimentel's website.)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 June) – If the President wants to augment the budget of the armedforces to boost its fighting capability, she will have to comply with constitutional process by seekingCongress' authorization because “without that, shewill turn herself into a dictator," Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. said in a press statement.

Pimentel said there is no question that more funds are needed to keep government troops in fightingform and a supplemental P1 billion fund for military hardware and other requirements “will go a longway in winning the battle against the armed insurgents but it cannot be denied that they will usepublic funds without the authorization of Congress.”

"In my view, it would be better if we will have a new budget that incorporatesappropriation to upgrade the capability of the armed forces," he said.

On June 16, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instructed the Department of Budget andManagement to release P1 billion to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PhilippineNational Police (PNP) to finance their operations against the communist New People's Army (NPA).

Arroyo said the move, apart from the P5 billion per year for modernization, is expected togive the armed forces the “decisive edge” against the NPA.

The President said this is a "fiscal investment that will yield peace dividends to the economy."

Pimentel said several families in Bukidnon who have nothing to do with the insurgency war havealready been evicted from their homesteads because of the President's “ill-advised all out warpolicy.”

He warned that such a move by the President, also the commander in chief of the Armed Forces,"could place the far flung areas of the country in a state of turmoiland could adversely affect the state of law and order in the urban areas also". (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

Opinion: Are you an accomplice on election fraud?

Originally uploaded by waltzib.
Comment on "Verzola: Namfrel part of poll fraud coverup; Namfrel: Go after Comelec, not us"
June 19, 2006 at 5:42 pm • Posted by Alecks Pabico at

Whether Versola’s views are true or not, NAMFREL has the burden of proving it to the people that it is really an election “watchdog”. Why should Lagman pass the buck to the COMELEC? Why don’t he answer the question/points raised by Versola especially the indicators in bullet form?

If indeed NAMFREL was silent about the fraud or at least the indicators of fraud including the discrepancies, then this citizen’s election watchdog is no longer a watchdog!

Pardon, but this really reminds me of our old dog way back in the 90s. Whenever he is full (esp. after lunch) he falls into a deep sleep and wakes up again ONLY when hungry.

No, I am not insinuating that NAMFREL is into something fishy, I’m just at this point trying to ask a couple of questions. Why the silence about the fraud? Maybe there was no fraud at all?

If so, I think NAMFREL has to educate the people, contest Versola’s claim and prove it’s worth, like, once and for all —release the complete precinct breakdowns as asked.

NAMFREL owes it to the people big time to clear its name; Filipinos used to trust NAMFREL, wahhapend? By the way, at this time, what is NAMFREL’s goat, as floated by Lagman in his response?

I have always believed that since the President apologized for the wrongdoing, we deserved someone better. That we really need a leader who is also a model and a good example. Maybe difficult, but we need our leader to be clean and unstained. For failing to prove her innocence, via due process of law and fair presentation of evidence and counter-evidence (defense); the President has failed the people.

BUT I THINK the problems our country face in these trying times is not only due to a leader who have failed to win peoples’ trust and confidence. Not only because likewise she has failed to lead the people to rally behind her because of some levels of distrust.

The problems are also because of other complacent Filipinos who allowed evil things to happen in front of them. My point is, don’t just point to the President. She might have really done some of those things she is accused of. But she could have not done that without hundreds, thousands if not millions of people who allowed her to do that!

The culprit could be Malacañang’s present resident; but anyone could be an accomplice. Maybe me, you or anyone.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Breaking News: Farmers flee Bukidnon fighting

By Froilan O. Gallardo/MindaNews
(Publisher's note: Taken from the MindaNews daily dispatch of news and views. Not yet available in
Related Post: "A little about the BIG battle"

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 June) – At least 300 farmers, their wives and children were forced to evacuate last weekend after government gunships pounded a communist rebel camp in the mountains northeast of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

Virginia Flores, Malaybalay City social welfare officer, said 77 families or 335 persons living in the mountain village of Busdi, some 50 kilometers northeast from Malaybalay City, were displaced by the fighting.

Many of the displaced villagers are children, she said. “They fled on foot. Sometimes they hid in the forest to avoid being caught in the middle of the fighting,” Flores told MindaNews by phone this morning.Retired Col. Francisco Simbajon, spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said troops sent to flush out the rebels suffered casualties.

An Army corporal, Redan Arit, was killed and two other soldiers – Sgt. Alberto Madolin and Private First Class Adscar Mala – all of the 26th Infantry Battalion, were wounded in a firefight with New People’s Army rebels in Sitio Bendom, Barangay Busdi, 50 kilometers northeast from Malaybalay City last Friday, he said.

There were no reported casualties on the rebels who took advantage of the fog that covered the mountains and thick foliage around Barangay Busdi, he said. The fighting started on the day President Arroyo ordered the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to crush the communist insurgency in two years. Arroyo pledged an additional P1 billion to the defense and police budgets to boost the efforts to crush the insurgency.

The extra money will be used to buy reconditioned helicopters and fund operations against the communist insurgents. The presidential order, however, came with a price to the people living in the countryside where communist rebels hold considerable influence.Flores said the mass evacuation started Saturday when MG-520 helicopter gunships bombed a suspected rebel camp in Barangay Busdi that day.Flores said the evacuees found their way to nearby Barangay Saint Peter where they sought refuge at the village elementary school. She said local education officials have suspended the classes there.

The city government of Malaybalay gave food and blankets to the evacuees, many of whom, Flores said, brought only a few belongings.Flores said at least one woman fainted when she arrived at the Saint Peter Elementary School due to exhaustion and hunger. “We gave three days of food but we think these are not enough.

We think the fighting will drag on,” Flores said. Flores expressed fears more people will evacuate if the fighting will continue. Army officials in Cagayan de Oro justified as “necessary” the military operations against the NPA rebels who earlier reportedly torched eight vehicles owned by a construction firm. Simbajon said a team from the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion ran into well-fortified rebel positions in Sitio Bendom, Barangay Busdi last Friday. He said a firefight occurred around 5:45 pm Friday and lasted through the night.

The Army battalion, he added, wasn’t able to immediately extricate the two wounded soldiers and the remains of Arit because of the intense fighting and dense mountain foliage. “The rebels even fired at the gunships with Caliber 50 machineguns when the helicopters strafed at their positions,” Simbajon saidSimbajon said the rebels, numbering around 60, torched the vehicles owned by Concepcion Basic Builders Inc., in Zamboanguita, Malaybalay City last June 8.

He said the rebels were the same one who ambushed soldiers in Zamboanguita. killing an Army officer last week. (Froilan O. Gallardo/MindaNews)

NEWS: Naming "Region 12"

Region 12? Central Mindanao? Soccsksargen? South-Central? Cotabato? Southwestern Mindanao?

Written by Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews
Monday, 19 June 2006 (Courtesy of

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/18 June) – What’s in a name? Certainly a lot, especially since regions compete with each other in enticing investors. Region 12, however, has been suffering from an identity crisis. It is the only region out of six in Mindanao that is known by at least six names: Region 12, Central Mindanao, the tongue-twisting Soccsksargen, South-Central Mindanao, Cotabato region and Southwestern Mindanao.

The confusion has affected everybody, including media. In fact, the title of the summit where Hadja Sittie Marian Lim, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), was asked late Saturday afternoon to clarify how the region should be referred to, is “Central Mindanao Media Summit.” Lim, however, refers to the region simply as “Region XII.”
“Region XII” comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and this city. “Region XII,” Lim explained to the media, is the compromise name even as the new name should have been “Cotabato region,” in deference to other leaders who prefer “Soccsksargen” [South Cotabato, (North) Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City].

But “Region XII” as a “compromise” is problematic because who would know, outside the region, what the number signifies? The creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 1989 and Caraga in 1995 changed the alignments of what were simply known as Western Mindanao (Region 9), Northern Mindanao (Region 10), Southern Mindanao (Region 11) and Central Mindanao (Region 12).

MindaNews columnist Patricio Diaz, former editor of the Cotabato City-based Mindanao Cross and later Mindanao Kris, has written several columns on these realignments and has repeatedly argued that “Central Mindanao” was “abolished geographically, that is, when President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order 429 in 1990 to realign Regions 9 and 12 affecting the other Mindanao regions.” Aquino realigned the regions when Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, then belonging to “Region 12” or “Central Mindanao,” and Sulu and Tawi-tawi, then belonging to “Region 9” or “Western Mindanao,” voted for inclusion in the ARMM in the November 1989 plebiscite.

In the Organic Act creating the ARMM, Cotabato City was named “temporary” seat of the ARMM, supposedly until its Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) designates a “permanent seat.” Today, Cotabato City remains the “temporary” seat. EO 429 moved the regional seat of Region 9 to Pagadian City and Region 12 to Koronadal. But the EO met opposition from leaders of Zamboanga City, then seat of Region 9, and Cotabato City, then seat of Region 12.

Another layer of confusion came in the 1990s when “growth areas” were in vogue and the South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos City economic grouping became known as SocSarGen. The Mindanao map published by the Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) in August 2000 refers to the area as “SoSKSarGen” to include Sultan Kudarat province. After the August 2001 plebiscite when Marawi City and Basilan joined the ARMM, President Arroyo issued Executive Order 36, to implement the transfer of the seats of regional governments under EO 429 and to make the necessary alignments following the inclusion of Marawi City and Basilan in the ARMM. In his March 3, 2005 column, Diaz asked, “what can we do about Region 12, not only to be consistent but to be correct and truthful?”

Diaz said that looking at the map, if one were to look at the present composition of the region, “Region 12 is in the southwestern part of Mindanao. So, Region 12 is Southwestern Mindanao. That is not arguable.” He noted how “difficult” it is “to make the leaders of Region 12 change their wrong reference out of habit or of bias or of mistakes they believe as correct.” “I mailed Gov. Daisy Fuentes a copy of my January 13 Comment, ‘To RDC XII and Others Concerned’ explaining the point. To no avail!,” he said. “Only in matters of controversial facts should journalists report exactly what their sources say.

But if the sources are wrong according to established and accepted facts - as the map of Mindanao is - journalists must correct their sources or not publish their reports at all,” Diaz said. Since then, MindaNews had been referring to the region as “Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao)” to guide the reader that the number refers to southwestern Mindanao on the map.

MindaNews will continue referring to the region as such.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sunday Reflections: Trying to be more faithful, useful

I'm proud to be a part of a simple community in our church called Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon or Lingkod, a Charismatic group of single men and women, mostly young professionals. I originally came from the group's branch in Malaybalay City where I had been a member since October 2001.

Now based in Davao, I have joined activities here since July 2004 up to present.

My life in Lingkod for the last five years had been an encounter that has helped form me. It was and still is an experience with real people who struggle in their own spirituality and strive to be better persons everyday. Above all, this has been the path that led me to experience God in my life in a more personal way.

It helped me anchor my plans and activities to a grand design greater than mine. It has taught me the way to deal with other people (friends and enemies), God's creations too. Also, in the community I met real people who, like me, experience difficulties in many aspects. Personally, Lingkod helped me realize that God's love is greater than all my sins, shortcomings, failures, mistakes and my other imperfections combined. It has taught me to struggle to Love others also in a more special way, especially to my family, friends and loved ones.

Also, the community life that I have in Lingkod has also helped me embrace a wider community around Mindanao, where there are greater differences between members. The teachings on Love, Faith and Hope helped also in my understanding of love, faith and hope in the context of multi-cultural or diverse communities, inter-religious dynamics and even poly-lingual circumstances.

The teachings on prayer, peace through forgiveness, respect and support; and also about unity helped me understand the need for genuine Peace in Mindanao, amid wide differences: ideological and others.

Above all, my experience of service in Lingkod made me resolve also to make use of my God-given gifts to help others.

The photos above were taken last year during Lingkod's Christian Life Program, a 13-week series of talks on Basic Christian truths. I'm shown with the discussion group assigned to me. Today, June 18, 2006; I was asked to give the first talk on God's Love. The opportunity to share my personal experiences through the talk and also to be a "mouthpiece of the Lord" to the participants, have refreshed me of God's call for me to be an instrument so that others would come to know him and would also live blessed lives themselves.

God's love means he wants everyone to be happy. This also means he wants us not to be poor but rich so we could help more people. But I also learned to struggle to stay in control in the use of my resources.

I pray that in this way, I can help change Mindanao, clearing it from dirt, starting with mine.

At days end, I'm ready for a sound sleep; for you, my God, have put my life back together (Psalm 4:8)