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.

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)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Updates: Davao journalists' solemn mass

Davao’s journalists and other media practitioners heard a mass today, celebrated by Fr. Swamy Balashowry.

As I entered St. Paul’s church in Juna Subdivision, I suddenly felt so sad. It made me say a silent prayer I have never prayed so deeply.

“Gather your flock Oh Lord, equip, protect and bless them with your goodness,” I said. Those were not the exact words but my act of prayer was spontaneous.

There were only less than 15 people in that mass offered for all reporters who died of natural, accidental, and purposive causes. It was also for the protection of all living journalists, including the sick and dying.

It was a solemn mass, yes. Personally, I felt so powerless. Only very few sought to pray for this important concern and this sector. I thought, it seems that journalists were left so unprotected, in high-risk, vulnerable, and alone.

At the end of the mass, I decided to embrace God’s peace. After all, a journalist’s security is not just in guns, laws, lousy investigations of journalists killungs, a flawed justice system, and a violence-tolerant government.

I resolved that prayer is my weapon as a journalist. God’s protection is my real protection. Journalism is God’s work in the first place so I will rely on how He equips me to do His work.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Updates: Madayaw Davao! Happy Kadayawan 2006!

Am I redundant in that title? Well, well, despite all the hassles of preparation - still welcome to Davao and to the festival of festivals! (I sound like as if I am a city tourism official! hehe)

Brace for posts on the celebration here. Let me share this blog by Yvette of Bisaya Bloggers for a start:


Best steak -- Claude's
Best hopia -- Davao Star Bakery
Best Fried Chicken -- Papa Ching's and Royale House
Best Durian -- The native kind
Best Place to buy durian -- Magsaysay Park, take your pick from the stalls
Best way to eat durian -- with the hands, then wash it down with cold cold water or icy coke
Best way to take away the smell of durian -- wash your hands in the shell
Best Pancit Canton -- Ah Fat (yes, the seafood noodles)
Best Bijon Tostado -- Dencia's
Best Hot and Sour Soup -- the recipe of my barkada Jona (Johnna). You should taste it.
Best buffet spread (breakfast lunch and dinner) -- Marco Polo
Best Japanese food -- Tsuru
Best Chocolate Cake -- Humberto's
Best place top get stuffed -- Penong's
Best inihaw na pusit -- Harana
Best cheese pizza -- Picobello's, too bad I am lactose intolerant!
Best Coffee -- TUMP, NCCC Mall, under the escalators, Try the coffee!!!
Best Pan de sal -- Davao Best, but you can get them only in the mornings.
Best kinilaw -- too many to mention.
Best paksiw na tuna -- Petron Bajada
Best place to view city -- Jack's Ridge
Best place to meditate -- The Shrine just across Jack's Ridge by the way!
Best Eight Treasure Soup -- Sea Urchin
Best cheesecake -- Marco Polo
Best pancit malabon -- Tita Mira's
Best place to drink -- buy a case, then go to one of the beaches
Best halo halo -- Aling Foping's at MTS
Best Sans Rival -- Lachi's Tokwa and Lugaw- Dencia's
Best Chinese empanada -- Rose Cua
Best Pancit Luglug -- Azon's at the Bangkerohan Market
Best mini-siopao -- Kuilan's
Best overstuffed siopao -- Mandarin Tea Garden and ask for the brown sauce.
Best Fresh Lumpia -- Cecil's
Best Grilled Pork Ribs -- Lachi's
Best crispy buntot ng tuna -- Suka't Sili
Best mangosteen jam -- Lorenzo's
Best Hungarian Sausage and other deli items -- Swiss Deli/Swiss Gourmet
Best Durian Candy -- Linda's
Best Cinnamon Rolls -- Annipie Bakeshop
Best Local Burger -- Space Burger
Best Durian Cheesecake -- Bo's Coffee shop
Best Shrimp Dumplings -- Mandarin Tea Garden
Best Garlic Tuyo -- Tiny Kitchen
Best Salad -- Eden Nature Park
Best place to hang out -- that really depends kung ano ang trip mo.
Best Dimsum -- Marco Polo
Best Blog --this one! (hahaha)

Have fun everyone!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Talk about saving face in the international community ...

Originally uploaded by waltzib.

...about the Nursing Board Examinations leakage?

Our nurses are considered among the most sought after in the world, so what does the leakage make of this reputation?

So cheating is here, there, and everywhere in the country? And do you suppose to rectify it just by asking the nursing board passers to retake? I don't think it is as easy as ABC.

Talk about cheating ..and you'll never miss it ...that our country's Head of State and Head of Government is accused of cheating her way to victory! I couldn't help but connect that to the nursing board leakage ---maybe the PRC people involved or whoever was really involved just took the pitch from Her Excellency, the Queen of Malacanang?

Argue yourself out with my question (that's a question your honor!), but c'mon help get the impeachment trial on the roll well, not because you are on the side of the opposition, but because you want an end to this once and for all, don't you?

I aspire to be objective as a journalist, so I shouldn't be leaning on any wall. I dont do that in writing this blog. Precisely that same quest for objectivity and truth has driven me to bat for an impeachment trial so evidence could be weighed once and for all to liberate us from this darkness!

My only fear is, and mirroring one of the CBCP's primary premises, that the opposition (as they call themselves so) could use it to sow confusion and turn the process into a mockery of justice that could result in mass disorder, if not civil violence or war!

I'll just pray in my little corner that the forces of nature and God's power will reign all over, including in my restive, curious mind.

Updates: Grrrrrr ...

It is always a long (5 hours) and stressful trip from Malaybalay to Davao. Traveling the route today was no different. But there was a twist: when we passed by Marilog district right at the Task Force Davao checkpoint, the bus was stopped and all male passengers were asked to step down.

Apparently, the bus was left almost empty for there were only seven female passengers in that trip, including two cuddling infants. I just did not like the act o f going down the bus just because I’m male (and the usual suspects in terrorist acts? C’mon!) Then we were made to fall in line to go back to our seats as an officer inspected our pockets and bags.

Yeah I know, the days of the Kadayawan festival is here and we need to secure the safety of the public and to show to the world that Davao is safe. Ok ok ok.

But woe to the country’s most gender sensitive city! C’mon! What if the terrorist in the bus is a woman? So that act (of making passengers disembark) all in all falls immaterial and could be seen as totally just a mockery of public safety measures! That did not make the city a safer place to visit! Are they afraid to enrage women’s groups with the inspection? Nope, don't get me wrong, I don't want them to inspect the women either! But my point is, it surely was the most blatant manifestation of insecurity! Don't ask me to give my alternative, that's the job of the national security adviser!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Updates: Alarming

No, I did not mean the blog "Disastrous" I posted yesterday (which I thought I could update but I havent.) I actually meant the bomb that reportedly exploded in Valencia City on Friday. My story was written from Davao and updated with interviews in Bukidnon. It was alarming because, Bukidnon, being a big WWII battlefield or at least hideout, could have more of those vintage bombs. I wish the police and local governments could be more proactive on this matter, esp. that two people died and six others were injured.

At least there are good news on the other hand. The Ombudsman already launched its whistleblowing primer, promising to help curb or fight corruption in Mindanao and the rest of the country via citizen participation. I just hope it could convince people to "sing" against corrupt public officials. The rate of reported cases of corrupt officials is also another alarming angle. Wew.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Updates: Disastrous

The first text message of the day on Aug. 11 was from writer Don Pagusara forwarded by MindaNews editor Carol Arguillas. "The waves have eaten up most of the houses in Bago Aplaya. If you know media people, please send to cover it," that was the gist. In less than an hour, Skippy Lumawag, our photographer and I were there up and about. The turbulent waves have receeded . But people were still terrified. Many of them busy putting down their houses to save wood for a possible relocation. Still many just stood there gaping. But the community is organized: the men helping do the heavy stuff, while some women started cooking for the hungry. The bayanihan spirit is alive, said Brgy. chair Danilo Andoy.

I was told it happened in at least 17 coastal barangays in Davao City. So I went to the Davao City Disaster Coordinating Council in Almendras Gym to appraise the real situation for my story. The people there were accomodating. But I got more updated data on the affected families in Bago Aplaya. Mine (from the Barangay Disaster Coordinating Council): 55 families; theirs: less than 20.

(To be updated)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Updates: Talking peace

August 10 was a day to remember. I have had good reflections that day as I gave a peace writing workshop on behalf of MindaNews.

It was organized by the Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco) with the Department of Education and Act for Peace for around 158 public high school students from around Southeastern Mindanao. The participants were all members of school publications.

MindaNews has been known for its "bias" for peace, which is also the bias of any responsible and any sane, right-minded individual or organization in Mindanao. So, an exposure to a crowd that looks up to peace advocates should not surprise me. But I was amazed at how the youth today are given opportunities to really voice out their thoughts of the future that is, after all, theirs.

The participants of last summer's youth peace camp were there to testimony for their own experiences on youth peace-building. The speakers from the tri-people communities of Mindanao were inspiring. Above all, the participants were also inspiring.

I saw in them the future leaders of Mindanao. They listened with interest, assuming so from what I have seen from their eyes. And I'm sure they all can become peace-builders. My report on the workshop could give you more details.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Updates: Goin' loco over coco

It was a revealing press conference on Wednesday at the Ugnayan sa Mandaya Hotel. At one point, you'll see many amazing coconut products put in front of you that make you think why people are still poor in coconut-growing communities? Is it because of lack of education on entreprenuerial skills? Are farmers left in the rural areas to make do with their eternal conditions as poor and "just" producers of raw materials?

The other image that emerged after talking to the Philippine Coconut Authority's officials in the Davao region is that farmers are actually leaving the coconut industry to cultivate other high-yielding crops! Read my report here for more details.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Updates: Legislating an environmental 'litmus paper'

It was a busy session day, it was a boring session day.

But there were more people on Aug. 8, than it has been in the session hall of Davao's city council. It was the day Councilor Leo Avila presented his committee's report on the proposed ordinance banning aerial spraying in all agricultural plantations in Davao City.

The city councilors appeared in their any-session day garb --all looked in their best. I walked in opposite direction with three elderly councilors in their "best suit"and I though I was not properly dressed in my "around Mindanao" get up.

But the gallery was a study in contrast. Around 100 farmers and villagers were seated in the audience. Wearing a pair of shorts and slippers, Manong Tado, from Sirib in Calinan glued his look to the people in the hall. At one point, his underarm smell escaped. Then in another, he dozed off in the air-conditioned room, with mouth open.

At the end of the day, Manong Tado walked out with other pro-ban people after the councilors decided to defer decision on the matter.

Read my report.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Updates: Davao goes global?

Of course, this is nothing new. That Davao can compete is beyond question. It is just a matter of getting what Malcolm Gladwell calls the "Tipping Point". The thing is, we are not yet in that point and there are still a lot of things to do and get all done. I hope organizers of the 2006 Davao Trade Expo (DATE) hit their targets for both direct and book sales.

Monday, August 07, 2006

[NEWS] DOH eyes ban on formula milk ads by 2007

(Crossing my fingers on this!)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 August) -- Breastfeeding is still the best.

The government will start banning promotions and advertisements of formula milk by January 2007, according to the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Milk Code, Vicenta Borja, coordinator of DOH's National Infant and Young Child feeding Center, said.

But the Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines (PHCAP), which opposed the ban, asked the Supreme Court on July 13 to nullify the revised IRR, claiming it endangers the lives of infants by inadvertently misinforming mothers on their children's health. The Supreme Court issued a restraining order and asked the Department of Health to comment on the petition filed by PHCAP.

The banning of advertisements and promotions is intended to advance breastfeeding as an
economical and nutritional means for infant and child health, Borja, told reporters after the launching of a local mall's breastfeeding stations Monday. Borja said the move is directed to revert a decreasing trend in breastfeeding in the Philippines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Childrens’ Fund, (Unicef) recommend at least six months of exclusive breastfeeding for optimal infant growth, development, and health. This means that the infant is fed breast milk alone.

According to the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), the average duration of exclusive breastfeeding in the Philippines went down from 1.4 months in 1998 to 24 days in 2003.

The NDHS said only 1.4% of babies 6 to 7 months old in 2003 were exclusively breastfed.

The UNICEF estimates that in the Philippines, the minimum monthly cost of feeding an infant using formula milk is P2,000 while mother's breast milk costs nothing.

An infant fed with formula milk, UNICEF added, is 25 times more likely to die of diarrhea than a breastfed infant.

In the Philippines, the WHO estimated around P430 million spent yearly on hospitalization, health consultations and medicines for illnesses due to formula-feeding.

The revised guidelines are intended to remove hindrances to promote breastfeeding, Borja said, citing that infant formula milk ads have provided mothers with an option to breast milk.

But formula milk is a very costly substitute to breast milk, she said. Filipinos spend around P21.5 billion per year on formula milk. Promotions and advertisement expenses account for around half the price of milk.

The National Code for the Marketing of breast milk substitutes, breast milk supplements and other related products (Executive Order 51 of 1986 signed by President Corazon Aquino) or the Milk Code, safeguards breasfeeding, Borja said.

The Code bans the use of any picture or text in information and educational materials, which may idealize the use of breast milk substitutes; prohibits giving away samples and supplies to public hospitals and health institutions and personnel of health care institutions; prohibits the point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples or any promotion devices to induce sales directly to consumers at retail level and the use of health care system to promote breast milk substitutes.

The Code also mandates health workers to encourage and promote breastfeeding.
But records from the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) showed that milk companies violate the Code. From July 2001 to December 2004, a total of 63 violations were recorded, with 27 cases on distribution of print ads without approval by an inter-agency committee.

Last year, Dr. Nicholas Alipui, the UNICEF's representative in the Philippines asked the Philippine government to fast track the amendment of the Milk Code, to tighten its provisions. He sought for the covering not only of infant formula but all milk products for infants and young children up to the age of two or three. Also, he sought to ban the advertisement and promotion of milk products for the “0 to 2 or 3 years old children.”

He also sought to ban ties between public health and nutrition sectors at all levels, and the milk manufacturers and distributors covered by the Code, among other mechanisms.

The DOH issued a revised IIR on May 16, banning advertisements, among others.

The PHCAP in its petition to the Supreme Court, argued that the DOH went overboard in its issuance of the IRR by prohibiting the free flow of information regarding the nutritional content of infant formula vis-à-vis breast milk and the other traditional milk substitutes. They said this will only result in preventing much needed knowledge on proper infant feeding.

The petitioners contested the DOH regulation for its "flawed premise" that "breastfeeding substitutes are hazardous to health and that breastfeeding is the exclusive means to nourish infants." They said the impetus of the code was to regulate the proper use of breast milk substitutes in certain cases where breastfeeding is not appropriate or possible. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

[NEWS] Islamic values, Arabic now taught in public schools in Mindanao

(I see a lot of avenues for dialogue in this development. I got the news hint first from the press conferen ce organized by BEAM last week. I went to DepEd for more clarifications. This reminded me so much of Dali, a Maranao and Abdul Jasser, a Tausug classmate in elementary who went to a madrasah in Malaybalay. Dali was having great difficulty in English but was good in Math. Abdul was the Huck Finn type, who goes in and out of the class room and is culprit of many pranks reserved by the girls in the classroom. Dali, reserved and more composed, was a seatmate and was a good friend. Both were friends of mine back then because we lived in the same area near the public market.

After 1990 I did not see him or Abdul anymore. I went to a state college high school in Malaybalay where I could not remember any Muslim student was enrolled. But I met Dali again in 2003, thirteen years later; he tended a shop in Valencia City selling ready to wear goods as well as a SIM-card outlet. His wife told me they owned the shop. But there was Dali, still reserved although I could see in his face the sincerity and enthusiasm of meeting once again a friend way back then.

His retail business did not surprise me. I know he was like that long before and I’m sure as a Maranao, he would live up to his business acumen. Dali told me later he did not finish high school. He said he regretted it but there was nothing he could do now to turn back time. Abdul Jasser has since returned to Marawi, Dali said, and never heard of him since 1992. Abdul did not finish elementary education.

I looked back to those two friends when I was younger in writing this story. Along the way, I realized that it wasn’t easy to be a Muslim student who has to go to two schools, a madrasah and a public school.

Right now I still look back to wonderful childhood days in the public market, where in the 1990s there was still a very high wall that divides the majority settler populace from the minority of Maranao’s and Tausugs.

When I vacationed in Malaybalay in 1996 (I went to university in Iloilo) , I saw a better looking mosque in the public market very near stores owned by Christian traders. In the mosque’s minaret I am always reminded of my young Moro friends. I hope with the teaching of ALIVE, more bridges of dialogue are built.)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/3 Aug) -- Islamic values and Arabic language
Education are now in the mainstream of Philippine education.

The two subjects are now taught in public schools that each have at
least 30 Muslim enrollees around Mindanao and in some parts of the country as
mandated by the Department of Education’s Order No. 51.

According to the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM), which
partnered with DepEd in three Mindanao regions to implement a Muslim
education roadmap, there is a plan to institutionalize madrasah education,
contextualize aspects of DepEd's Revised Basic Education Curriculum (RBEC), provide
alternative learning system for Muslim out-of-school youth, to create a
special fund for the madaris (Islamic schools, plural for madrasah),
among others.

Islamic values and Arabic, taught only in the madaris before, is now
offered as the Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (or ALIVE
curriculum) in public schools, said Noor Saada, BEAM Muslim education coordinator.

Classes started in school year 2005-2006 in pilot schools in select
areas, according to Wallina Tambuang Motiva, DepEd Muslim education and
madaris coordinator in Southeastern Mindanao.

BEAM announced that ALIVE is now taught in at least 1,010 classes in
Southeastern Mindanao, Southwestern Mindanao and the Autonomous Region
in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Saada could not provide figures for other parts of Mindanao and the
Philippines, but said the classes are now held nationwide in public
schools that have at least 30 Muslim pupils.

ALIVE, part of an integration of the Islamic values and Arabic language
in the basic education curriculum for Muslim students studying in public
schools in the country, is among the key actions provided in DepEd's Muslim
education roadmap.

DepEd Order No. 51 series of 2004 provided for a "Standard or unified
Madrasah Curriculum" for private madaris seeking government recognition. It also
provided for the ALIVE curriculum in public schools, which was
developed by a group of Ulama representing Muslim communities, Saada said.

In the ALIVE curriculum, Saada said, Muslim students in public schools
still take RBEC subjects such as English, Math, Science, Filipino, and
Makabayan. In addition, he said, they will also take four Islamic studies subjects:
the Qur'an; Seerah (Life story of the Prophet) and Hadith (Sayings of the
Prophet); Aqueeda (Conduct) and Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and Arabic.

Saada clarified that the extent of the subjects covered varies from one
grade level to another. He said Islamic studies focus on values education for
the Muslim children. Non-Muslim students could take the ALIVE curriculum as
an elective, but only with their parents' consent.

This development will reportedly help Muslim children studying in
public schools because they do not have to go to school seven days a week. He
said at present, Muslim students attend Monday to Friday classes in public
schools and Saturday to Sunday classes in madaris.

An ustadz (or a Muslim mentor), who shall become a regular teacher of
the public schools, will handle the Islamic and Arabic subjects.

Around 1,000 asatidz (plural of ustadz), Saada said, are expected to
finish the accelerated teacher education program in six Mindanao universities
in 2008 so DepEd could hire them as regular teachers.
The non-Muslim teachers will handle the RBEC subjects but asatidz could
also be tapped. The asatidz attended a 23-day Language Enhancement Program
before teaching. The program serves as their orientation to the Philippine
educational system.

Muslim education in public schools has gained headway in Southeastern
Mindanao, Motiva said. From 36 public schools that offered ALIVE in
2005, the number has now almost doubled at 70. She said with 210 asatidz, they
have an enrolment of approximately 15,000 in Davao City, Davao Oriental, Davao
del Norte, Tagum City, Compostela Valley, Panabo City, Samal Island, Digos
City, and Davao del Sur.

Saada said the integration of the subjects in the RBEC curriculum
promises to help build "bridges of dialogue" between Muslims and non-Muslim

But among the big concerns facing the teaching of Islamic and Arabic in
public schools is budget for salaries of the asatidz. Saada said local
government school boards shoulder salary expenses.

"Not much in big local government units, but the problem is in smaller
LGUs that do not have funds for an ustadz. Hopefully, DepEd could release
funds for salaries starting school year 2007-2006," Motiva said

Government recognition of private madrasah is also another strategy to
increase the access of Muslim students to education in Mindanao, Saada

He said work is ongoing for the standardization of a madrasah
curriculum and in processing recognition of private madaris that could operate like
the private schools in the country. Together with this, Saada said, are the
contextualization and indigenization of instructional materials.

The roadmap, Saada said, is based on the Philippines Medium Term
Development Plan, the 1996 GRP-Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) peace
agreement, Republic Act 9054 or the Expanded ARMM Organic Act, and the salient
advocacies of the GRP -- Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace process.
(Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)

Friday, August 04, 2006

[NEWS] Mindanao super region needs P215 billion

(The projects proposed here are impressive in quantity. But it is obvious that the planners could not announce which of these projects are already backed with funds.)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 August) - Mindanao's six regional
development councils has come up with around P215 billion worth of
projects for Mindanao, according to a presentation Friday by Misamis
Occidental Gov. Loreto Leo Ocampo to governors, city and municipal
mayors on the 'Mindanao super region'.

The P214.690 billion worth of projects will become the government's
investment program for Mindanao from 2007-2010, Ocampo told MindaNews.

Ocampo, who chairs the council of the heads of Mindanao's six regional
development councils (RDCs), told reporters in a press conference here
that the budget is drawn from a "wish list" of projects from
Mindanao's local government units coordinated by their respective
regional development councils.

Ocampo spoke at the reorganization meeting of the Confederation of
Provincial Governors, City Mayors, and Municipal Mayors League
Presidents of Mindanao (CONFED) on Friday at the Grand Regal Hotel

Secretary Jesus Dureza, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
and who announced he was picked by President Arroyo as the "point man"
for the Mindanao super region, said the list of projects is the road
map of the super region. Dureza said the super region concept is not
new to Mindanao and that they have already "jumpstarted" the

In the list, Dureza said, the government has funded the bigger
counterpart of the project. Ocampos clarified that "the government
already has funds for some portions of the public investment plan"
while the rest will be sourced through time and the rest from other
schemes like build-operate-transfer (BOT).

Ocampo said some funds would be drawn from proceeds of the value added
tax collections, savings from the re-enacted budget, grants and
donations, loans, and counterparts from the local government units and
government-owned corporations.

There was no estimate however, as to how much tax collections and
savings would contribute to form the fund. There was also no mention
on how to realize big-funding schemes like the BOT in the middle of
the government difficulty to sell its major assets.

Around 42.27% of the investment requirement or P90.74 billion is
earmarked for "realizing Mindanao's agribusiness and acquaculture, and
mariculture potentials". Around 36.24% or P77.8 billion is eyed for
projects to attract more investors.

About 11.1%, or P23.8 billion, of the investment requirement goes to
projects to establish an efficient food logistics and system linking
Mindanao to Manila. Proposed projects for the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) also account for P12 billion.
Only 3.9%, or P8.2 billion, of the proposed projects are directed at
improving education and other social development conditions.

Around P2 billion projects are proposed for capability, peace building
and in information and communications technology. A total of P234
million projects are proposed on projects to pursue responsible

Of the P90.74 billion proposed projects for realizing Mindanao's
agribusiness, acquaculture, and mariculture potentials, 68.12% or
P61.8 billion is for road network improvement. Around P17 billion for
irrigation development, P7.7 billion for agrarian reform projects, P3
billion for environment protection, P612 million for agri- processing
and business center, P401 million for fishery development, and P119
million for agriculture development.

Of the P23.8 billion proposed projects for establishing efficient food
logistics system linking Mindanao to Manila, P20.7 billion is for
support infrastructure and utilities while P3.104 billion are for food
processing and consolidation.

The plan also presented around P43 billion worth of projects for
power projects mostly generation and transmission. Around P25.3
billion are for support infrastructure network while around P9.4
billion worth of projects are proposed for tourism development.

The investment plan also singled out a total of P12 billion projects
for the ARMM "catch-up plan" to realize the ARMM's agribusiness and
aquaculture potentials ( P3.17 billion), improving accessibility to
production (P5 billion), enticing investments in ARMM Area (
P1.45 billion), improvement of ports and airports (P1.24 billion),
Uplifting Social Concerns (P1.21 billion) and other peace and
development (P30 million).

Around P1.95 billion worth of projects are proposed "to build strong
partnerships" in Mindanao such as resolving boundary conflict for
peace and development in Mindanao, among others. Around P8.3 billion
are proposed to uplift social development conditions such as
education, with P1.19 billion worth of proposed projects, flood
control to protect life and property ( P4.53 billion), expanded
medical and health care, ( P2.29 billion), child and maternal care
(P126 million ), and other welfare projects (P75 million).

For projects to be selected as priority subjects in the Mindanao super
region, Ocampo said, it has to be within the framework of the Arroyo
administration's 10-point agenda and must be recommended by the
regional development councils.

Dureza said Mindanao has an advantage as a super region because of the
set up of coordination facilitated by the Mindanao Economic
Development Council (MEDCo), unlike other regions that has no
experience in consolidating regional plans.

"It is just a matter of getting the agencies to go together," he said.
(Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

[NEWS] Davao City firmer on sale of high powered guns

Waltzib photo
Originally uploaded by waltzib.
(I don't really like talking about guns because of a childhood trauma. But writing this story took me to a brief detour. I counted myself out from those who believe that peace can be achieved "through the barrel of the gun." I beg to disagree with that concept of peace. That's too narrow or "kitid". I am a peace advocate - but definitely, not one for arming journalists or anyone except those whose job is to sport that lethal machine. This time though, I took a breather and tried to discover the other side of the coin. I work as a journalist, and part of the job is to do my homework about rifles and pistols just so I could make sense of this executive order. I went around three (3) gun dealers in the city to see what is more or less powerful than a .22 caliber gun. Also, I discovered that these machines are named after the size of the bullet they use, not the size of the pistol or rifle. I made a lot of discoveries. Also, I went to a gunsmith to search for more experiences. I talked to three prospect gun buyers about the reasons why they buy guns just to make a feel of their mind.

And I tried all the demo pistols in one of the gun stores! I mean i did something like that in the photo facing the mirror to see if I could style myself as a shooter. That's when I regained my sanity. I did not feel good seeing the image in the mirror. Although, my narcisstic tendency entertained the thought that the gun looked cool in my hands. The firearms dealer also told me I had a good grip so I could qualify to hold one (tell it to the marines Mr. Salesman!) I was supposed to see the truth about guns, including what blessess and ails them. Then I realized: that damn machine stinks! I returned it, washed my hands in the lavatory, and resumed taking down notes.

As what Walon Green said: "We got to start thinking beyond our guns. These days are closing fast". . )

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/3 Aug) -- Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
ordered stricter rules on buying and selling high-powered guns to
"reasonably limit" ownership and bring within "acceptable level" the
number of gun holders in the city.

Duterte issued Executive Order No. 12 directing the Davao City Police
Office to regulate by mandating the issuance of police clearance first
before any sale or purchase of rifle higher than .22 caliber,
including accessories, and ammunition within the city.

"It is observed that there is a continuing and unabated increase in
the indiscriminate buying and selling of rifles higher than .22
caliber …beyond the limits of law, resulting to widespread and
uncontrolled proliferation thereof within the city thereby
compromising local public safety and order to the prejudice of the
approved peace and order plan of the city government," Duterte said in
EO 12 he signed on Aug. 1. The order stated that effectivity is "upon

Duterte ordered the police to issue the clearance, required in buying
any gun, to ascertain strictly the identity and monitor the activity
of all persons or groups who deal, acquire and dispose high powered
rifles. Also, the order stated, the clearance should ensure the
legality or validity of the purpose for which the rifle and
accessories, shotgun, or ammunition and cartridges.

He also ordered the police to deny the issuance of the clearance to
any person or group on account of "dubious identity, qualification, or

Owners of local gun stores and dealers were also asked to refuse the
sale of any rifle, accessories, ammunition specified in the order to
any person or group who could not present the police clearance.

Duterte also asked them to submit to the DCPO a sworn monthly sales
report, including pending orders, identity of the purchaser, the
quality and quantity of the items bought, the date and purpose of
purchase. The mayor asked the gun dealers to submit a monthly report
of inventory of stocks to the police.

Gunsmiths and shops, shooting ranges and other establishments were
also asked to submit a report on repairs, modifications, installation
of accessories, and reloading services of the specified high-powered

Gun dealers and gunsmiths interviewed by MindaNews received a copy of
the executive order Thursday. They said an earlier order already
regulated the sales of ammunitions to 50 rounds. Davao City Police
Superintendent Catalino Cuy called a meeting with the dealers on
August 8.

The police clearance requirement is a standard in buying any gun, a
local gun dealer who used to worked with the Philippine National
Police's Firearms and Explosives Division told MindaNews.

"Maybe this order refers to the cases that elude police scrutiny
because of connections," he said.

A security guard who asked not to be named said the order could
discourage citizens from buying guns for dubious purposes. "Even those
who want to buy a gun for protection might be discouraged," he said.
The order did not specify pistols higher than .22 calibers.

The order, however, is not a ban on the high powered rifles, Cuy told
MindaNews Thursday. "This is only to monitor and regulate the sales
and distribution in the city," he said.

Duterte cited Section 16, the general welfare clause of the Local
Government Code -- which "authorizes every local government unit to
enact measures that will enhance the public health, safety,
convenience, maintain of peace and order, and promote the general
prosperity of its inhabitants" -- as basis for his order. (Walter I.
Balane / MindaNews)

[NEWS] 20 public schools pilot lumad curriculum in S. Mindanao

(Indigenization of a curriculum is at least a bright prospect in the Philippine educational system. What I was not able to ask is how they will indigenize in a culturally diverse setting like the Philippines, in a regionalized system? The Madrasah education in Mindanao is moving in the same way to standardization and government recognition. Although, long delayed kudos to the Department of Education (DepEd) and all programs supporting it.)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/2 Aug) -- Sixteen elementary schools and four
high schools in Southeastern Mindanao are piloting a first of a kind
curriculum specially developed for indigenous peoples, said Norma
Gonos, executive director of the Institute for Indigenous Peoples
Education (IIPE).

The curriculum, based on the Department of Education's basic
elementary and high school curricula, is offered in areas where at
least 70 percent of the student population are from Mindanao 's
indigenous peoples.

IIPE coordinated with the DepEd in developing and implementing the
indigenized curriculum to provide culturally relevant content and
strategies, Gonos told MindaNews Wednesday.

"This will liberate the students in indigenous communities from
cultural discrimination brought about by the largely Western
educational system and help maximize their participation in society,"
she said

Gonos said the piloting is on its second phase this year covering
Grades 2-4 and second year high school classes. The initial stage
started in school year 2005-2006. They planned to finish piloting for
the rest of the grade and year levels in school year 2007-2008.

Gonos said they went through stages in revising DepEd's Basic
Education Curriculum (BEC) to come up with an IP curriculum, which
shall be taught by either IP or non-IP teachers.

They held workshops with community and tribal leaders together with
teachers. From the workshops they drew out core values as basis for
the content of the curriculum. They also drew out mentors' training
needs to teach using the curriculum.

They then held IP curriculum "writeshops" to identify general and
specific lessons from both BEC's core competencies and that of the IP
core values.

Teachers and indigenous peoples' representatives then developed a
final curriculum that would be presented to the IP community for free
and prior informed consent, then to DepEd for endorsement and

After the piloting stage, Gonos said, they are working with DepEd in
the proposed implementation of the IP curricula in all communities
where indigenous people are the majority.

"But this IP curricula could also be used in non-IP communities
because it promotes understanding between the lumads and the other
members of the community," Gonos said.

"There is nothing here that non-IP students shouldn't know; these are
the same with the regular curriculum only that it promises to
mainstream the IP children into formal education while preserving
their indigenous culture," she added.

Gonos said the curriculum just localized the general education
curricula with the use of culturally sensitive teaching aids,
illustrations, examples and context.

The predominant groups in the pilot schools are from the Mandaya, Ata
Manobo, Matigsalog, Tagakaolo, Manguangan, Bagobo, Mansaka, Isama, and
B'laan communities. The schools are from 13 towns or districts in
Compostela Valley, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao
del Sur, Digos City and the Island Garden City of Samal.

Gonos said they also launched three IP learning centers in the
premises of the pilot schools in Atan-Owe Elementary School in Davao
City highlighting Bagobo customs and traditions; Caraga National High
School in Davao Oriental featuring the Mandaya tribe; and Tibi-Tibi
Elementary School in Davao del Norte highlighting the Ata-Manobo.

Before they started the curriculum indigenization program, Gonos said
they toured tribal learning centers around the country.

She cited some private schools being run by religious groups in the IP
communities that use IP curricula, but they do not use DepEd's public
education curriculum.

Gonos said they are holding the Kasamongan Festival on Aug. 17 to
gather different IP tribes for a medley of arts and cuisine. There
will be lumad rituals, craft exhibits, literary and cultural
presentations. Students from the pilot areas of the IP curriculum will
present indigenous poetry, short stories, dances, songs and chants
during the festival.

Gonos said the primary goal of the festival is to showcase the IP's
knowledge systems as it is passed in pilot schools. She said they
scheduled it during Davao's Kadayawan Festival so merrymakers could
also see the children's showcase of lumad culture.

IIPE is a project of a consortium of the DepEd in Southeastern
Mindanao, Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM), the National
Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and other government and
non-government organizations working on education in Mindanao.

Strengthening indigenous peoples' education is among the government's
goals based on the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan from

Aside from the IP curriculum, DepEd and the NCIP and other related
institutions also planned to include IP materials and documents in
public libraries to permit information sharing and exchange between
cultures and to accommodate IP students in all programs for children
and students such as health and nutrition, arts and school sports and
their teachers in in-service training programs. (Walter I.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

[NEWS] Talaandigs send two students to law school

(This is an alternative and pro-active move for the IP community to do. Most of the lawyers in Bukidnon really are not familiar with IP customary laws and practices.Also, they are not particular of the issues and concerns of the IPs especially in engaging with implications of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 and other laws that closely deal with their territories like the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act. NIPAS goes head on with IPRA, especially on ancestral domains claims because most of these areas are covered by NIPAS under the DENR facilitation of the multi-sectoral Protected Area Management Board (PAMP).

DAVAO CITY (Courtesy of MindaNews/31 July) -- Soon, they can fight for their
ancestral domain with lawyers from their own tribe.

The Talaandig tribe in Lantapan, Bukidnon has sent two of its sons to
Law school at Xavier University in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City. They are the first Talaandig law students.

Datu Migketay Saway, Talaandig chieftain said Sagyawan Tumimanwa, 21
and Mutikas Lleses, 20 started their study of law this semester.

Sagyawan told MindaNews in a telephone interview said they need to
study law because many lawyers turn down their tribe's request for counsel on matters like ancestral domain issues. Most of the lawyers, he said, are not familiar with the indigenous peoples' customary laws and their issues.

Both students finished Sociology at the Bukidnon State College in
Malaybalay City.

Sending the two young men to law school is an investment for the
future, Saway said, adding the tribe's struggle for recognition, self-determination and management of natural resources as well as that of the rest of indigenous peoples in Mindanao, still has a long way to go.

Saway said the tribe had difficulties attending to requirements imposed
by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in processing their ancestral domain claim due to technical and financial constraints.

Saway said indigenous peoples have to invest in educating the youth
both in formal and indigenous means to help empower them.

Saway also cited the need to engage the tribe's "young blood" to
re-learn their history. Saway said much of the problems of Lumads in Mindanao are rooted in forgetting its history and culture.

"The solutions could be just in the indigenous community's backyard
with its own customary practices and laws, and not outside," he said. (Walter I.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Updates: Welcome August 2006!

Wow! A brand new month is here! Brand new start for unfulfilled goals in the past month! Pasaka sa Agosto!

I pray this is a better time to grow, to live, to have fun, to work, to eat, to exercise (to hike, bike, do the lotus dance regiment, and play sports!), to enjoy, to travel, to do business, to report on Mindanao, to meet new friends, to sleep (much needed..hehe), to rest, to pray, to praise and worship, to be with community, to help, to give, to know, to love, to be loved ... and above all BLOG! hehe (as if it is the world's most important thing to do). Nah just having fun.

I wish all is well with everyone! Good tidings!

[NEWS] Deadline for UP admission exam extended to August 4

(I hope Mindanao's students take this opportunity to study in the country's best university*. This will surely, I mean partly level the playing field between the rich and the poor --quality education for all!)
* In some colleges and select course

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 July) -- Students who want to take the exam for admission into the University of the Philippines (UP) but did not meet the July 15 deadline, have up to Friday, August 4, to submit requirements.

The regional examiners for Davao City will process applications up to Friday, the UP Mindanao Information Office said in a statement. No reason was given for the extension.

Applicants have to go to the UP in Mindanao campus, Mintal, Davao City to submit the following:
- correctly and completely accomplished UPCAT Forms 1 and 2; _
- four 2" x 2" identical recent photographs taken within the last 6 months;
- non-refundable application fee of P450 and
- self-addressed stamped envelope

Exempted from paying the application fee are "UPCAT applicants whose parents have an annual gross income of Pl00,000 and/or are one of the top ten prospective graduates of public high schools as of the end of SY 2005-2006."

The press statement said applicants who have not received their testing permits by August 3 must secure it from the regional examiners on August 4 and must bring two pieces of identical photos, proof of payment or certification of prospective top 10 in the graduating class and/or proof of mailing.

The first deadline was set on June 28 and was moved to July 15.

The UP College Admission Test will be conducted nationwide on August 5 to 6 in different testing centers throughout the country.

In Mindanao, there are 20 testing centers in six regions.

These are:
Agusan del Norte: Urios College, Butuan City
Agusan del Sur: Agusan del Sur School of Arts and Trades, Prosperidad
Bukidnon: Bukidnon State College in Malaybalay City
Cagayan de Oro City: Capitol University
Camiguin: Camiguin Polytechnic College in Mambajao
Cotabato City: Notre Dame University
Davao City: UP Mindanao in Mintal
Digos City: Davao del Sur National High School
Dipolog City: Zamboanga Del Norte National High School
General Santos City: MSU College of Education Training-HS Department
Iligan: Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology
Kabacan: University of Southern Mindanao
Koronadal City: Notre Dame of Marbel University
Oroquieta City: Misamis Occidental National High School
Pagadian City:Southern Mindanao Colleges
Surigao City: Surigao State College of Technology
Surigao del Sur: Jacinto P. Elpa National High School, Tandag
Tacurong City: Sultan Kudarat Polytechnic State College
Tagum: Tagum National High School
Zamboanga City: Western Mindanao State University (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)