The Night Before Digong

by dan, mel and jim

Here’s a piece from one of my favorite writers ever. It is a fictional tale, set the night before the turn-over for the Philippine presidency. There is euphoria, as people brace themselves for the changes the new government have set themselves to do.  

June 29th, 2016.

The room was not only filled with excitement, laughter and smiles. There was electricity in the air. There was energy and enthusiasm and hope. Unbridled hope. As the murmur of conversations floated to the incoming day, a tinkle of glass pierced the collective consciousness and silence enveloped the room. Only the deep breaths dared disturbed the pregnant anticipation.

The President-elect cleared his throat and spoke. Without a teleprompter. Without notes. Without hesitation. Nothing barred.

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Digong will need all the help he can get. (courtesy of gmanetwork.com)

“My dear Filipinos, my official family, my partners in the eradication of crime, my blood, my brethren. Thank you for accepting the challenge of bringing change to our people. A change that must be brought about at all cost because our people deserve no less. They wanted the elimination of graft and corruption. They wanted the elimination of drugs, of crime, of murder, of rape. They wanted the end of an oligarch-dominated economy, of non-existent opportunity for the poor and the marginalized, of the abuses perpetrated on our OFWs primarily by their own government, of the uncaring governance, of division, of insurgency, of hunger, of poverty. They wanted the dictum: “if one is born poor, one will die poor” to be relegated to the hopeless past.

Our challenge is not only hard. It is close to impossible. But I have faith that you and I are up to the task and that if we fail, at least we will die trying.

Temptations have crept up to our doorsteps. Controversies and manipulations by those who have enjoyed superiority and prosperity at the cost of each exploited Filipino have started to undermine our planned actions and resolve. They have spread doubt, malice and ridiculed our aims. The change for a new order of things have them scared, and soon they would be like headless chickens knowing not where to hide. We must resist falling into their traps, especially the trap of enrichment, of luxury, of corruption. Together, we must remain strong. In our division, capitulation is a matter of when.

When I asked you to be my cabinet secretaries, my confidants, my true allies, I gave you nothing and I asked you for everything. Tonight, on the eve of our assumption to lead this nation, let me make a simple but a meaningful and an everlasting gift, the Kalis. The sword bequeathed by our brave forefathers to defend themselves from foreign invaders, a symbol of our bravery as a people, a testament to our everlasting desire for freedom not only from foreigners but also from threats within. This sword, I give as a testament more than anything else. Public service is a public trust. A broken public trust will make any one of us unable to be of public service. When that time comes, nothing will matter. Honor is paramount. For what is life without honor?

Receive this Kalis as the seal of the Filipinos’ trust. And if that trust is lost, only this blade can regain it back.

This is a gift and a weapon. A weapon against dishonor. If in my weakness and frailties, I dishonor myself and you, take this Kalis and end my miserable existence because at that point, I am already dead.

If this gift is too much for you to bear, if the Filipino people’s trust is beyond your realm of commitment, refuse the gift and we part as friends. If you accept and adhere to what this symbolizes, to adhere to honor beyond this worldly existence, beyond life, my debt of gratitude until my dying day!”

Digong Duterte surveyed the room with the honesty and compassion that only an overloaded President in need of all the help he can get would. Silence remained unbroken as the weight of his words sunk in. The measuring stick must now be met, commitment given must remain unbroken. To everyone’s mind, the gargantuan task got a little heavier. Will their frail humanity be up to the task?

“Help me, Filipinos! Our people deserve nothing less!”

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The problems he will face are huge. Let’s give him a fair chance at it by providing what help we can give. (courtesy of abscbn.com)

With that, he made the closed fist he was now famous for. Lightning flashed then the thunderous applause followed from those like him swore themselves to serve. To truly serve.

The Kalis with their names on it was received.

Digong looked out into the the darkness before the dawn of the new day, closed his eyes and said to himself: ” Death before dishonor”.

His chosen heard and followed: ” Death before dishonor!”

The Filipinos crossed their fingers and prayed and hoped.

“DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR!”

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And now, the work begins. I hope Digong’s chosen ones are ready to roll their sleeves just like him. (courtesy of Lito Tecson)

There is excitement in the air, as we usher in a new beginning for the country. Change is coming.

 

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The Golden State Warriors On The Brink!!!

Unbelievable… Improbable… almost impossible.

The Golden State Warriors have just suffered their second lopsided defeat in a row 118-94. With their first back-to-back loss ever for this year, the Warriors are suddenly just 1 game away from elimination in the NBA Western Conference Championship!!!

Yup, that Golden State. The defending champion Golden State. The Golden State that ripped apart the opposition in the regular season with a mind-boggling record of 73 wins. Eclipsing the 72 wins of the legendary Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls of 1996. Which incidentally went on to win the crown oh-so dominantly that year.  The Golden State which has a first-ever unanimous MVP awardee in that wizard, Stephen Curry. The same Golden State which mesmerized everyone with buzzer-beating halfcourt heaves, and whose game-changing ‘3-point first’ philosophy is so revolutionary, it has practically changed the mentality of the next generation basketeers.

What happened?

Yeah, after proudly unveiling a visionary mindset, after capturing the imagination of everyone who has ever tried this dribble-and-shoot game, after winning every small player’s heart with its ‘size doesn’t matter’ ideology, it seems that Golden State’s aura of invincibility has finally been pricked.

The Golden State Warriors had dazzled brilliantly in last year’s Finals when it unveiled a small-ball line-up. This key adjustment literally had King LBJ and his knights huffing and puffing in the Warriors’ trail. Then Cleveland coach David Blatt tried matching up, but this ploy failed miserably. This year though, OKC’s Billy Donovan’s antidote to the small-ball has been rather simple:  ‘long-and-lean’. A taller, yet equally fast team. He reckoned that a fast tall team will always trump a fast small one. And, oh by the way, he luckily had the right tools to do just that. 

Thus, the Warriors’ ‘rain-those-threes’ is about to be dealt a death sentence by the good ole ‘run-and-gun’. Steph and his band of sharpshooting Hawkeyes seem to have found a more-than-worthy match in Russell Westbrook and his nimble-footed Quicksilvers. Russell has been that pesky speedster messing up plays, denying clear rebounds, leading the break and practically keeping the ball away from Warrior hands. You can’t shoot for the bullseye if you can’t outspeed them.

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 03: Kevin Durant #35 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder talk to head coach Billy Donovan during their game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 3, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

OKC’s dynamic duo, raring to give the fatal blow.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

When all is said and done, while it is true that Steph hasn’t been providing MVP-worthy numbers – and some say this is due to injuries – credit will have to go to Russell, Kevin Durant and the rest of the Thunder crew. OKC has been dictating the tempo in this series. It has forced Golden State to react to their speed, and the Warriors are trying to slow down to a tempo that is definitely not their own. It is this uncharacteristic departure from the true Warrior form that is doing them in. If Steph and the Warriors are to return to the warpath, they must go back to what they know best. That is to pick up the pace, and look for some space. They need to get back to that rhythm. With a little patience, and a ton of heart, they can still make a match out of this one.

 

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A Dream Fulfilled

– reposted from Habitat From Humanity Philippines

We first met Felisa Amistoso and Shirley Elladora last year. Back then, they were just two women who were motivated by a dream. This is a story of their success and unwavering hope for a better life. Many thanks to JM Lago, whose tireless efforts have humanized our thousands of home partners.  

It is November 6, 2015.

The air was festive. There were green and blue balloons lining the main road. A marching band was playing a catchy, modern tune. The sky was a clear, bright blue, complementing the green roofs of the houses. Some had curtains, others already had furniture, many had lawns and new shrubbery.

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There were children running around the village. There were women sweeping the floors of the houses. There were men gathering water and making last-minute adjustments to their furniture.

These are the new residents of Habitat French Village in Barangay Agujo in Daanbantayan, Cebu. They are 76 families who lost their homes to super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, but gained new and better ones nearly two years after.

Felisa Amistoso and her best friend, Shirley Elladora are two of these new residents.

Up until a few days ago, Shirley and Felisa were living in rented shanties among fishpens and a creek in what is now a government-declared “no build zone”, on land that wasn’t even their own. Felisa recounts that in all her years, she had never experienced living in a concrete house.

“We were literally squatters,” she said.

Last year, Shirley and Felisa were chosen by the Daanbantayan LGU as potential beneficiaries of one of the 76 disaster-resilient hypar houses Habitat Philippines is building in Barangay Agujo. But they had to undergo sweat equity first in order to qualify for the final list.

“We are willing to do whatever it takes just to live in one of those houses,” Shirley said last year, pointing to the full-concrete structures. “With those houses, our families wouldn’t have to be afraid of typhoons and floods anymore

“They’re like mansions!” Felisa added, “I want to live in one of those!”

Motivated by this dream, they continued working. They completed the required 400 hours of sweat equity and came out more empowered women who were not just mere house recipients, but home partners.

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And so it came to pass that on November 6, two days shy of Typhoon Yolanda’s second anniversary, the Elladoras and the Amistosos moved into their new homes in a festive turnover ceremony.

“No words can describe my happiness today,” Felisa said. “We finally have our own home, and it’s everything I’ve always dreamed of and more!”Felisa’s husband, Norlito, was also elected president of their homeowners’ association, an unexpcted blessing for the Amistoso family.

Shirley could not stop smiling. She proudly showed off her curtains: green and blue, to match the colors of their new house. “I said [last year] that I wanted to put up curtains first. Here they are!”The women could not stop expressing their gratitude for their new homes. “Nabunutan ako ng tinik,” Felisa said. “I can breathe easier because we don’t have to be afraid anymore. We’re safer now.”

Felisa added all their problems now seem small in comparison to the new and bigger opportunities their new house will open for them. “I’m excited for the future. I know now that we will now be able to overcome whatever problems we might face because it is possible!”

These are the real value of decent homes: it gives people opportunities and inspiration to break out of the poverty cycle because it helps them dream big.

“My children can study more comfortably now,” Shirley added. Then she points to her belly: “And this one, he will grow up in a better home. He will have a better life.” Shirley is five months pregnant. The blessings just keep coming.

Shirley and Felisa are the epitome of the modern woman: driven, motivated, inspired and empowered. They did not lose faith or hope. They pushed forward because they had a dream of a better life for themselves and their family.

It is November 6, 2015. What was once a drab, grey construction site is now a vibrant community with green, white and blue houses. Construction workers are now replaced by children and families.

And Shirley and Felisa: they can finally start building and living the life they’ve been dreaming of ever since.

Shirley and Felisa’s hard work and long wait was worth it. In the end, they were able to fulfill their dreams and move into a more secured environment. We, at Habitat for Humanity Philippines, are committed to transforming lives for the better. But to be able to reach out to those in need, we would need all the help we can get. Visit our website at http://www.habitat.org.ph/ and help us improve more lives by supporting our housing advocacy.

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Skipping Work Soon…

May 21 was a memorable day for the family. My youngest son, Joshua, was finally graduating from the Asia-Pacific College.  After more than 2 decades of cajoling, enticing, berating, pleading, ordering, bribing, bolahizing, suholizing and what-have-you, my work is finally DONE! Done as in game over. Done as in take-that-effing-uniform-off-and-go. Done as in no more worries. I. Am. Free. At last!!!

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A graduation present, goodness gracious!!! (courtesy of cagle.com)

What touched me most was when he hugged me last night and said: “Dad, I will retire you pretty soon.” That felt really good. That felt like a big chip was finally being taken off my shoulder. That felt like… yey, I can finally sit back and relax while the kids work their a___s off.

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Yes!!! Finally!!! (courtesy of grantland.net)

And then I remembered Pacquiao retiring De La Hoya. After 7 merciless rounds. After countless body blows and head shots. De La Hoya’s pretty face demolished, huffing and puffing and aching all over. Was that what he meant? I hope not.

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De La Hoya retired after a Pacquiao beatdown. (courtesy of faredkunuado.blogspot.com)

Congrats, my man! Know that we’re with you all the way.

 

 

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Dear Tatay Digong

Dear Tatay Digong,

Allow us at the onset to congratulate you for your brilliant win in the last election. Despite the lack of a political machinery, you showed how a well-run campaign can match up against the political juggernauts of the land. A great performance indeed, Tatay Digong, bravo!

For the past six years, your national athletes have been suffering from a debilitating malady. It has caused so much demoralization and its effects have been manifested in the humbling debacles we experienced in the past Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and Olympic results. To review, here are the results of our past performances in the SEA Games, the Asian Games and the World Olympics:

2005 SEA games (1st) – 113 Golds, 84 Silvers, 94 Bronzes
2007 SEA games (6th) – 41 Gs, 91 Ss, 96 Bs
2009 SEA games (5th) – 38 Gs, 35 Ss, 51 Bs
2011 SEA games (6th) – 36 Gs, 56 Ss, 77 Bs
2013 SEA games (7th)  – 29 Gs, 34 Ss, 37 Bs
2015 SEA games (6th) – 29 Gs, 36 Ss, 66 Bs

2006 Asian games (18th) – 4 Gs, 6 Ss, 9 Bs
2010 Asian games ((17th) – 3 Gs, 4 Ss, 9 Bs
2014 Asian games (22nd) – 1 G, 3 Ss, 11 Bs

2008, 2012 Olympics – 0 medals

For a country with a population of 102 million people, and a GDP per capita of $2,765, to say that we are underachieving is clearly a gross understatement. We have consistently lagged behind significantly less-populated countries as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, and the relative newcomer, Vietnam. At one point, we were even overtaken by cash-strapped Myanmar in the medal tallies.

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One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that something is clearly wrong with the country’s sports direction. Unfortunately, the present leadership of the country’s key sports bodies (the POC and PSC) have not been truthful in assessing the performance of our National Sports Associations (NSAs). They have instead been over-protective of the non-performing NSAs, particularly in the light of this year’s election in the POC.

Your athletes – as well as the millions of countrymen and fans who religiously cheer our teams in the sports arena – would like to seek your help. We hope that you can find a way to finally stop this cycle of tragedies in our international sports forays.

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We hope that you can arrest that growing callous indifference among our athletes, and infuse new ideas to bring Philippine Sports back to its glory days. The potential of our youth is clearly there. Finding it, nurturing it, allowing it to grow with the right environment, giving it inspiration and purpose – there lies the challenge.

We need to have an honest appraisal on the performances of our NSAs. We need to see a more aggressive grassroots development plan, not rely on ‘gold-mining expeditions’ in other countries. There are many native diamonds-in-the-rough that can be discovered, if we only look hard enough. We need to provide support for our athletes, by way of more training incentives here and abroad, better facilities. Most of all, we need new and dynamic leaders who can think out-of-the-box and re-inject new initiatives into our antiquated sports program. Perhaps it is also time to create a Cabinet-level Department that will finally provide focus on sports development, and the fitness and well-being for our people.

Now is the golden chance to make some drastic changes in the Country’s sports program, sir, with you soon to assume the top position of the land.

Sports plays a significant yet under-appreciated role in the development of our country. It develops the attributes of discipline, unity, fair play, professional conduct, sacrifice and other key values that are the bedrock of success in any government, company, community or family. Sports then can help you, Tatay Digong, to promote correct values, provide a clear vision for nation-building and – this being your pet peeve – support our youth in the campaign to avoid drugs.

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We look forward, Sir, to your fair yet firm resolve, even as we pray for your success in your many noble endeavors.

Most Sincerely,

Your athletes

More on our performance in Philippine sports:

Charting the Alarming Trends for the Philippines in the Asian Games

Unmasking the Philippine Sports Mafia

 

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Helping the Tagbanuas of Northern Palawan

The Tagbanuas are considered one of the oldest tribes in the Philippines. Mainly found in northern and central Palawan, the dark-skinned Tagbanuas are possible descendants of the Tabon Man, one of the earliest humans recorded in the Philippines.

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The Tagbanuas, an old indigenous tribe in the Philippines, scattered along the areas of central to northern Palawan. (courtesy of thejoysofjourneying.wordpress.com)

The Tagbanuas are a simple, yet fiercely independent lot. They were never conquered by the Spanish, and the establishment of a Leper Colony in Culion during the American regime would only serve to isolate the island’s native inhabitants all the more. It was only after the intense evangelization efforts of foreign missionaries in the early 60s that development would start to set in for the Tagbanuas of Culion.

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Educating the Tagbanuas in far-away Culion. (courtesy of choosephilippines.com)

The leper colony would later be phased out with the onset of advanced treatment methods. This, coupled with the discovery of Coron as a prime tourist spot, would lead to the gradual development of the island of Culion. While the primary source of income remain with fishing and farming, the tourist trade has provided numerous opportunities for handicrafts and other modern production lines. Life was only starting to literally  light up for Brgy De Carabao in southern Culion, with electricity finally reaching the the barangay in 2012.

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Spear-fishing with the Tagbanuas in the not-so-recent past. (courtesy of thejoysofjourneying.wordpress.com)

Until Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the island with all its ferocity in November of 2013.

When Yolanda threatened to hit the country, alarm bells were sounded and authorities warned how strong this storm was going to be. Everyone was told to prepare accordingly. In Brgy De Carabao, Kapitana Malyn Credo would busy herself disseminating to people to prepare for the storm. This meant suspending classes, getting all the kids home, keeping all homes secure and strong, trimming down trees that were near homes, preparing additional provisions for any emergency, and preparing designated evacuation centers such as the elementary and high schools and the Health Center.

Leni with her 2 younger kids.

Leni with her 2 younger kids.

Leni Rodriguez hastened to ensure that her husband, Ronel, would not go out to sea to look for sea cucumbers.  With 6 children, she worried that their small house would not be able to withstand the strong winds expected. Hence, they decided to vacate their home and seek shelter in her mother’s place.

Tatay Pedro battled Super Typhoon Yolanda alone for almost 12 hours.

Tatay Pedro battled Super Typhoon Yolanda alone for almost 12 hours.

Sixty-seven year old Pedro Fabian had a sturdy-looking house right beside the Brgy Health Center. Thrice married, Tatay Pedro ushered his 3rd wife to go and check on one of their sons in another sitio. But because he wanted to secure his crops in the farm in Sitio Nalbog, he decided to stay instead in his small temporary-type farm hut in the distant sitio.

The cheerful kids of Lilibeth got their mom's sunny diposition.

The cheerful kids of Lilibeth got their mom’s sunny diposition.

Lilibeth Frias, with her 4 cheerful kids and husband Rudiato, decided to stay home. The two hastened to secure their small sari-sari store and discussed whether to proceed to the designated evacuation centers. She figured that with the school just right across the street, she could easily move there, should the need arise. She was more concerned for her store and her small home.

That fateful evening of November 8, Super Storm Yolanda hit land and proceeded to pummel Culion Island. When the strong wind started howling through, Lilibeth had a change of heart. Sensing that this storm would be far stronger than the previous storms that have hit them, she and her family hurried off to the Elementary School where many more families were already huddled. By 8 pm, there was a lull in the storm. Lilibeth transferred to another room together with other evacuees as their room had sustained broken glass windows and a damaged ceiling.  She took a quick look at her home and saw that her home was still okay.

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This Elementary school became the evacuation center for around a hundred families in the Barangay.

Leni also took advantage of the lull by bringing her family to the Health Center, taking along the mother with her. Though now overcrowded with 8 other families, Leni felt that the concrete Health Center was the best place to keep her family safe.

Tatay Pedro was less fortunate. At the very first strike of the wind, his small ‘payag’ had immediately collapsed. Luckily, there were no heavy stuff in the hut that could hurt him. With debris flying in all directions, he took refuge behind a big kasuy tree. When the storm died down, Tatay Pedro thought of taking the long walk back to the barangay. He was still thinking about it when the second half of the storm came bawling through at around 9 pm.

Lilibeth and her family prayed as the storm lashed hard on the classroom. One classroom eventually collapsed, while the roofs of some other rooms would be blown off. Over at the Health Center, Leni watched in horror as Tatay Pedro’s big house collapsed with a loud creaking sound. She wondered if Tatay Pedro was inside the house and just prayed that he wasn’t.

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What remained of Tatay Pedro’s home months after the storm.

Fortunately, Tatay Pedro was not in the house, though he was all  cold and wet at that time, taking cover under the kasuy tree. He would stay there, cowering in fear for the next few hours until the break of day.

The following day, they all came out of their respective shelters to survey the damage. Everywhere, there were fallen trees, broken electric posts, and collapsed houses. There was no electricity, and this would only get repaired after another 6 months. The road from Culion proper to Brgy De Carabao was damaged by erosion. De Carabao was now isolated, with no news from outside. That road would remain closed until its repair in January 2016. There would be no vehicular traffic in the barrio for the next 2-plus years. Fortunately, their source of water remained intact.

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Water, while available, is still a sought-for commodity.

When Tatay Pedro arrived in the Barangay, there was nothing for him to come home to. His big wooden house had been totally ruined by the storm. Lilibeth returned to a house that was dangerously tilted in one direction, the roof gone, and their belongings scattered all over.  When Leni went home, she found only the 4 posts remaining. The roof as well as the sides were all gone. Everywhere, there was massive evidence of the destruction caused by Yolanda.

For all three, as well as for the thousands of other victims in Culion, there was no other way but to start all over again. With no news from the outside world, they were left to fend for themselves for the first few days. But the Tagbanuas being the resilient people that they are, this difficult life was not a problem. They were ready to move on.

Indeed, for the first few months, very little support would reach Culion and Brgy De Carabao. Leni would convert her dirty kitchen to be the family’s temporary shelter. Lilibeth would use jacks to right her tilting home. Tatay Pedro would build a small temporary shelter on his lot. Life would go on, with or without anyone’s help.

One day, a Habitat representative came to inquire if they needed housing support. At first, they listened in guarded silence. They recalled how they had been promised shelter support so many times before, only to be left frustrated. This time though, there was Ermin Palao and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) constantly egging the Provincial government, and the dynamic Barangay Captain herself, Malyn Credo, religiously following up the requirements sent her way. A few months after, an admin and technical group was sent to do an ocular on the barangay. Things were getting more encouraging now.

Last December 2015, they were gifted with a wonderful Christmas present. Habitat, with its partner 7-Eleven Philippines, would start construction of 160 housing units for the Tagbanuas of Brgy De Carabao. Two 2-room classrooms have also been packaged in the program. Coca-Cola Philippines has also checked in by promising to provide safe and clean water access thru a water reservoir project. The municipal LGU, seeing the surge of support, started repairing the road to the isolated barangay. Indeed, help for the Tagbanuas has finally arrived.

For more on the Culion Build, pls read:

Building Back In Culion

To verify our project, pls click on the pics:

 

 

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La Salle Outlasts Ateneo for the UAAP Women’s Volley Crown!!!

That movie script couldn’t get any better than this. For four long years, two of the most fancied warriors in the UAAP had met in mortal combat, battling in the Finals each year for crown and glory, for bragging rights, for all the marbles and more. Twice, the forest-green Archers would shoot down the sky-blue Eagles. Twice too, the soaring Eagles would claw back to savage the hapless Archers. Displaying 2 crown-jewels apiece, the two magnificent gladiators returned to the ring one last time, each one bloodied and battered, yet neither unbowed.

The end of an era? Spikers-Eagles clash spanned 5 years of agony and ecstasy.

 This was the “Fight of the Decade”. This was the rivalry that would catch the imagination, not just of the loyalists in green and blue,  but of the rainbow colors of the UAAP and the entire country as well. This was the Yco – Ysmael duel that popularized Philippine basketball in the 60s, the Crispa – Toyota face-off that mesmerized the fans in the 70s, the Larry Bird – Magic Johnson match-up that elevated the NBA in the 80s, and the Mayweather – Pacquiao extravaganza that was a global rage last year. This was the rivalry that would consistently rake in record numbers in gate attendance, elevating the popularity of women’s volleyball, and making it at par with basketball as the most-watched sporting event in the country today.
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Ateneo’s offense vs De La Salle’s defense. Which one would prevail over the other? (courtesy of pinoymanila.com)

 This year, with the reigning MVP and the face of women’s volleyball today – the alluring Alyssa Valdez – leading the pack, Ateneo entered the finals hardly breaking a sweat. Dusting off a young, pesky and determined UP Lady Maroons team in their semifinal showdown. Oozing with calm confidence, and flaunting a ‘play happy’ brand that would befuddle the opposition no end.
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The Ateneo juggernaut celebrate a point. (courtesy of inquirer.net)

 La Salle, on the other hand, had to pass through a proverbial gauntlet, almost bowing to the unfazed FEU Lady Tamaraws. La Salle would need to go thru a do-or-die, winner-take-all gut wrencher-of-a-series against FEU. They would need their collective talents and more to exorcise a catastrophic collapse after taking the first 2 sets in their penultimate game 25-15, 25-23, and then collapsing in a maze of errors 23-25, 21-25, 14-16. Thankfully for the Lady Spikers, they would wake up from that stupor to take the crucial 3rd game in 3 straight sets, 25-15, 27-25, 25-21.
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La Salle takes the hard road to the finals. (courtesy of gmanetwork.com)

 And so it was that for the final time in their 5-year feud in the UAAP, Alyssa and the other seniors in blue – that amazing Aussie Amy Ahomiro, and the silently-effective Mae Tajima – would be meeting their equally-talented counterparts in green – the confident Mika Reyes; the finally injury-free Ara Galang; the simple Cebuana, Cyd Demecillo; and those steady relievers Carol Ann Cerveza and Mae Esperanza.
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The UAAP Women’s Volleyball Class of 2016 show grit and greatness. courtesy of abs-cbn.com)

In a game between the tested (La Salle) and the rested (Ateneo), La Salle drew first blood with a stunning 3-set shellacking in the first game 25-22, 25-22, 25-21. Before 19,921 screaming fans in the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Lady Spikers would dig deep, play cool, and cover the net superbly to crush Ateneo’s vaunted aerial attacks.
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It didn’t matter that Ateneo was well rested, while La Salle came well tested. (courtesy of mb.com.ph)

 However, in Game 2 of this protracted war, Alyssa would come alive to snatch victory from 2 sets down, 18-25, 26-28, before scattering a barrage of bombs 25-17, 25-16, 15-11, to tie the best-of-three series at 1 apiece! To the mixed relief and disbelief of another sell-out MOA  crowd numbering 20,125. Shades of the monumental collapse against FEU!! With the momentum shift and that confidence-builder going for the Eagles, most of the fans felt that Alyssa and the Ateneans would once again upend the Lady Spikers for the crown.

Long-time friends Alyssa and Kim confront each other across the net. (courtesy of abs-cbnnews.com)

But the gods of volleyball Nirvana had evened up the playing field this time. The earlier 5-set loss to FEU turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Taking inspiration from their recovery in the face of that similar possible heist by the Lady Tams, La Salle came prepared to prove that this time, the ladies from Taft were toughness personified.

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Celebrating a block. (courtesy of arvin lim)

Riding high on the momentum of their Game 2 win however, Ateneo would jump the gun at the opening bell, 25-19. Before 22,848 loud and boisterous fans at the Araneta, Alyssa was untouchable, and their defense was impeccable, with an unusually stronger net blockade that stymied  the green offensive line. Two more sets and they would capture a coveted 3-peat crown, something very rarely achieved in the league. 

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The Ateneo ‘play happy’ swag. (courtesy of spin.ph)

But that magical run would finally end. With Kianna Dy, Ara Galang and Cyd Demicillo asserting themselves with their offensive forays. With Kim Fajardo orchestrating the offense with military precision. With the diminutive digger Dawn Macandili taking charge of the back defense. With Majoy Baron and Mika Reyes establishing full mastery of the net war. And finally, with the hunger for the title and the return of the swagger of old – as epitomized by their former kapitana, Aby Marano. Displaying their own ‘enjoy the game’ brand of swag, the Lady Spikers would reverse the tide and stamp their class in the second set, 25-21.
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Developing their own type of swag. (courtesy of fullcourtfresh.com)

It would be all downhill from there. La Salle’s Lady Spikers had found their rhythm, and they would be relentless in keeping the Katipunan crew at bay.  Alyssa’s outside hits and second line drives – the key to their miraculous comeback in the second game – were well-guarded with a double or triple canopy coverage. Errors started piling up as the offense sputtered. La Salle would make the last two sets look simple and easy. There was Baron blocking and Dawn defending. There was Mika mocking and Kim controlling that well-distributed offensive, even getting in the act herself. Most of all, there was that new darling of the green and white, the unheralded, unassuming Kianna Dy.
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La Salle on the way to the top! (courtesy of sherwin vardeleon)

KD. As in Kool and Deadly. KD as in killer drives. KD as in kaboom delivered! KD had oh-so gently inched her way into La Salle’s star-studded first team this season. This time, when it mattered most, KD would go berserk. As in Katipunan Demolished! Kudos, KD, you are truly deserving of that Finals MVP.

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KD, the killer deal, the Katipunan Destroyer. (courtesy of abs-cbn.com)

Ateneo’s glorious two-year reign has ended. La Salle is back on top. For five years, the rivalry has given us topnotch drama and action. It has gifted us with thrilling moments and poignant scenes on and off the playing courts. This match of epic proportions, thru a five-year journey with numerous peaks and valleys, may well signal the sunset of an intense rivalry, and the end of a great, unforgettable era. Join me as I toast those magnificent ladies of UAAP women’s volleyball.
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Congrats to the La Salle Lady Spikers. See you next year!!! (courtesy of journal.com.ph)

 For more on UAAP women’s volleyball, pls click:
 (Pics courtesy of sherwin vardeleon, pinoymanila.com, purip.com, rappler.com, gmanetwork.com, interaksyon.com, yahoo.com, inquirer.net, onlinenewsbalita.com, journal.com, mb.com.phphilstar.com, arvin lim, allpinoynews.com)

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‘URCC 27: Rebellion’ Rocks the Local MMA Scene!!!

Photos courtesy of abs-cbn sports and richard esguerra.

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FEU Lady Tams Heat Up the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Season!!!

Hold your horses, folks!!! But the FEU Lady Tams have just made the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Season  a tad more interesting…

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Lady Tams whoop it up after upending La Salle in a thrilling marathon saga. (courtesy of abs-cbn.com)

Just as close to everyone had been getting ready for another gigantic Ateneo – La Salle clash in the league’s showcase volleybelle wars, the late-surging FEU Lady Tamaraws shellacked the La Salle Lady Spikers with a gut-wrenching 15-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 16-14 come-from-behind shocker; forcing a winner-take-all match-up for the right to move to the Finals against the defending champs Ateneo Lady Eagles.

Bernadeth Pons, FEU’s brutal banger, announced to all and sundry her clear intentions to challenge Ateneo’s venerable Alyssa Valdez. Bernie took control of the game in the pivotal third set, collecting 22 solid net screamers, some of them reminiscent of Baldo’s booming 2nd-line sneak attacks. It is just a matter of time, folks, before this young lady achieves full stardom in the game of booms and caroms.

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Bernie is ready to challenge the booming Baldo. (courtesy of arvin lim)

La Salle’s Lady Spikers were comfortably ahead 2 sets to nil, and 17-12 in the 3rd set, when the Lady Tams unveiled a witchcraft similar to the Tai Bundit potion in Ateneo. Inspired no end by their cool and confident coach, Shaq De Los Santos, the Lady Tams played loose, played happy, and banged in winner after winner like a team possessed. And as the FEU crowd became louder and more boisterous as the game teetered and tottered, La Salle’s guns started to stammer, shooting duds and misfires where they used to be laser-sharp.

It was a character win for the lightly-regarded Lady Tams. Not given much of a chance against La Salle’s vaunted offensive line, the Lady Tams would squeeze out every little advantage, while making La Salle bleed for every single point they took. Bernie was ably supported by their mind game-playing team captain, Remy Palma, their silently-effective opposite hitter, Toni Rose Basas, and the steady setter, Giselle Sy.

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Remy Palma, playing mind games with the opponent. (courtesy of abs-cbn.com)

But La Salle’s Lady Spikers aren’t waving the white flag either. They have too much power and pride to concede the right to play in the UAAP finals. Led by veterans Ara Galang and Mika Reyes, backstopped by hitters Kim Dy and Majoy Baron, plus league-leading setter Kim Fajardo, La Salle is loaded from the 1st team to the last. And they will certainly not give up without a fight.

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Ara and company are ready to bounce back. (courtesy of philstar.com)

And so it is that the volleybelle titular match will have to wait awhile, as the girls in green and white match booms and bangs with the ladies in green and gold. Expect a sellout crowd at the MOA tomorrow, Wednesday April 20. Expect both schools to bring in everyone including the mothers-in-law. Expect the cheers, the jeers, the noise, the excitement.

This ain’t the Finals yet, folks, but if the 5-set nail-biter of an elimination match is any indication, this will be another one of those unforgettable experiences you will hate to miss.

Which marquee match-up would you come to watch? Will it be the alluring Alyssa against the unfazed Ara? Or will you go for a booming Baldo versus a banging Bernie? Which middle face-off would you want to see? Would you go for the steady Mika Reyes, or the smiling Remy Palma, against the solid Amy Ahomiro? And whose sets and dinks would you marvel at? Shall we go for the charismatic Kim Fajardo – or the diminutive but equally deadly Giselle Sy – to match wits against the cerebral Jia Morada?

The match-ups are cool. The line-ups are healthy. Bring out the beer. It’s time to go party.

Come one, come all!!!. And don’t forget the popcorn.

For more women’s volleyball action, read:

Ateneo’s Lady Eagles Believe They Can Fly

Unheralded FEU Cops Shakey’s Volleyball Crown

Here Comes the Sun(s)

(Pics courtesy of spin.ph, abs-cbn.com, tiebreakertimes.com, fox news)

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Pacquiao – Bradley 3: Is This Really The End of The Road For Pacman?

People say that this could be the last fight in Manny’s illustrious boxing career. Some say that he has lost a step or two, and are quick to conclude that this 3rd edition of the Pacquiao – Bradley clash will no longer produce the same brand of excitement that has been Manny’s trademark. Some say that he has actually beaten Bradley twice, though the first was a bum decision awarded to Bradley. And that the ‘Desert Storm’ was handpicked for Manny’s last fight precisely because he will not cause much of a problem to Manny.

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April 9: Will this be the day Manny hangs up his gloves? (courtesy of philstar.com)

And then there are those who say that Pacquiao has lost that fire in the belly, that warrior’s hunger to inflict – as well as to absorb – pain. That ever since the Pacman became involved with religion, he has become such a softie, hence the lack of a thrilling knockout after so many years. There are those who say that Pacquiao has grown old and tired of competing, and has acquired other interests. Such as politics, religion, pro basketball, and so on. All these forebode a lackluster fight and spell ‘Retirement’ at the end of the Bradley bout.

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A mellowed Pacquiao. (courtesy of ucnlive.com)

But I daresay that, on the contrary, this will be an exciting fight to witness. And that you better be ready for some slam-bang action, for this will be a fight to remember. For if indeed this were to be Manny’s farewell fight, he will all the more want to leave the fight scene with a bang.

But then again, I daresay that this will not be Manny’s last fight. I believe that a decisive outcome in this fight will convince Manny to milk his illustrious career a little bit more before hanging up his gloves for good. I daresay that a reinvigorated and inspired Pacquiao will surprise us with some vintage moves. And that the fans’ clamor for more will coax him back into the ring.

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A decisive win could spell a new beginning. (courtesy of bleacherreport.com)

Manny hasn’t lost his love for the smell of the mitts. It’s been almost a year of hiatus from Boxing, and he realizes that he still misses the activity, as well as the environment in the gym. He may get tired from hard workouts, but he still delights in the fan frenzy. And he knows that he can never acquire the same adulation from fans discoursing in the Senate floor as he can by banging bodies in the ring.

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This is what Manny is all about. This is what he will be remembered for. (courtesy of boxingscene.com)

That said, he knows that his bid for the Philippine Senate will depend much on how he fares in this bout. A win will not be good enough. A smashing success, complete with a highlight knockout, is what the fans demand from him. It cannot be just another W on his record, but a blockuster WIN with an exclamation point!

With his right shoulder completely healed, Manny is determined to provide us just that – a dramatic spectacle that will put him back in the consciousness of the fight crowd. A performance that will erase the ignominy of that sorry loss to the Money Man. A show that will once again herald his preeminence as the sports’ reigning superstar in the absence of his dancing partner, Floyd.

This fight will be crucial to the Pacman. He could win big…. or he could kiss his boxing career goodbye.

Gentlemen, place your bets.

(Pics courtesy of fightword.com, badlefthook.com, commdiginews.com, philboxing.com)

 

 

 

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April 9, 2016 · 3:40 pm