Archive for November 2007

bantayog new heroes

November 30, 2007

today, ed and i will be celebrating four new heroes on the wall of remembrance in the bantayog ng mga bayani : aloysius baez, rizal yuyitung, nick solana, and lino brocka. every 30th of november, national heroes day, the members of bantayog remember and honor all the heroes and martyrs of martial law. as of this nov.30 we have 165 names. many of these women and men were our contemporaries and some died before they reached 30 years old. the youngest was nick lansang, 16 years old and the oldest was lorenzo tanada,91. the heroes came from all over the country but many came from luzon; most were intellectuals and excelled in academics, summa cum laudes and valedictorians; many died violent deaths; years after their abduction, their remains are still to be located; their perpetrators have never been punished; there are grassroots heroes; and a good number died as resistance fighters.

there are many names in the ‘waiting ‘list that tita thelma arceo has kept as chair of the documentation committee. ed and i gathered the names of the women in the waiting list and there were around 300 plus women. aida santos and i once remarked that whoever dies first , the living one will nominate those with whom we worked during and beyond martial law so that more women get on the wall.

to be honored on the wall, one has to qualify as having served the people during the martial law years 1971-1986; her/his family has to provide/ validate the experiences and the documentation; and a key informant may be requested to write about the nominees. since there are not enough documentation of people in and not on the waiting list, the people who are selected each year are few. we have called on many friends and organizations to help and nominate people so we could remember those who gave their lives to restore democracy.

how to nominate : items to consider and write about the hero or martyr

1. personal background; age, birthdate, birthplace, sex, civil status, religion, ethnicity, race (yes we honor other nationalities, chinese or americans)

2. educational backgroun: formal or nonformal

3. political involvement; community work, community organization, social service sector ,etc.

4 circumstances and impact of death/disappearance; need not die during the martial law period or just recently died.
5. at least three names with adddresses of those with whom the hero had worked with. request for anecdotes of the hero; any library article, unpublished or published stories during the martial law period.

ps. a friend asked us to nominate felicisimo patayan aka ka memong for next year. we are soliciting articles from friends and fotos to get ka memong remembered and honored.


edsa tres

November 27, 2007

today i met the family and leaders of edsa tres. edsa tres , seven years ago, alerted us to grassroots mobilization but no one i knew has ever interviewed the participants of edsa tres up close. the complete story of edsa tres and their may 1st march to malacanang was dismissed as a spontaneous uprising and was projected in media as a flash in the pan.

joy and the men who came to meet us for a discussion on non-violence were articulate grassroots. they told us the story of edsa tres with feelings. they brought us back to those six days when the urban poor believed they could do something to restore popular democracy. joy exemplified the woman with fire in her belly. she said that fateful week in edsa, bringing her family and even pet dog to protest, changed her whole life. she used to work in makati for a company and realized she had marketing skills that could help. she listened to all the issues aired by the urban poor and decided to act on the national agenda. joy became a community organizer within that six days and marched to malacanang with her whole family. now, after seven years, she has become a very dedicated organizer of market vendors. i will reserve her story for another blog. what i want to share is that the grassroots, urban poor people, or the masa know how to rise from crisis and know they can change the situation.

joy said that she has learned to discern who are leaders and whether they serve those who follow them. she narrated her experiences with some elite leaders and how they distrust and insult the masa. “hampaslupa“, she said, is what these elite leaders call them. joy told us that presidential wannabes have courted their communities and even seduced them with funds but she knows there is no bond that binds them. when i asked her how she felt when they were not able to pursue the goal of restoring estrada as legitimate president, she replied” We feel we won in that round, having learned how to move as one and knowing there are many among us who will stand up for what is right.” this lesson resonated a hundred years ago, when Salud Algabre, peasant leader, ” no uprising ever fails, each one is a step in the right direction.”

helping the poor 2

November 26, 2007

this blog is for friends and families who have many ideas on how to help the poor. our resources can be shared with many poor ( though i prefer to call them grassroots but surfing tags use ‘poor’ so let’s use it to reach out to many unpoor).

time for children of grassroots barangays is one service. last week, we hosted four barangays from caloocan in batanyog ng mga bayani. susan macabuag called me to assist her in hosting the children and their mothers. she asked me how to customize the museum tour and i wondered how we would explain martial law to children, ages 4 to 7. i asked ed what he could contribute and he replied with a song ” Meme na Bunso”. as we sang the song, i still found it a long shot to get the kids . how will i talk about the repression and resistance during martial law years? then i remembered my origami approach. so i made peace birds for the chidlren and the mothers ( around 40) and prayed that the visitors will learn something.

at 6.30 am thursday, nov.22, i got a call from susan that the bus was already in bantayog. “oh my God”, i had just risen from bed and so had to rush and get ready. clutching the birds and my origami set of paper , i told susan what we could do. we were greeted by 30 eager children and 30 mothers . there were four teachers and all have never been in bantayog. the mothers and teachers were born after 1972 and none experienced the tumultuous years of martial rule. i started the welcome rites with susan macabuag, fe mangahas, betty dela cruz and cathy of bantayog singing the national anthem. the kids sang with gusto. they all knew the song and that was a good start on nationalism. i started with a query on pets and the kids raised their hands. as the kids were telling what their pets were, i took out an orange craft paper and asked them its shape. “a square” replied the kids. i gave paper to the 4 teachers and told them to follow my folding exercises. then when they saw i made a bird, i shared the story of the peace crane offering of a girl stricken with cancer in hiroshima. i told them that the bird is Ibong Malaya and that all birds were born free. then i segueway into the importance of freedom and peace and healing our nation. i gave all the origami birds that i made. as the kids were playing with the peace birds, i crushed one bird with my right hand to introduce martial rule. with the crushed bird, i invited them to follow susan and fe upstairs for the film showing and the museum walk. at first, we were expecting that the video on People Power would bore the kids ( knowledge channel 20 minute- documentary). the kids kept playing around the theatre. as the film was nearing its end, we saw the mothers and teachers crying. then we brought them to the museum and the kids looked everywhere. the whole experience, from singing the national anthem to the film showing and museum walk, touched everyone, kids and mothers, pupils and teachers. finally we brought them to the wall of martyrs and heroes. they all thanked us and said they would bring more barangay members for the historical visit. that was a morning service we were happy with.

grassroots children learn fast and we owe it to them to teach our history so that they can make their future greater than our past.

migrants inside and outside hope

November 21, 2007

for two days this november, charito basa, aurora de dios, mai anonuevo and i attended a scalabrini conference on transnational migration. dr. marla asis invited us and the conference became a beehive for meeting old friends and making new friends. we met the mexican delegates and listened to an impassioned discourse on mexican migration to North America. the mexicans have 30 million migrants in the US and Canada and are the highest remittance senders in the world. we met researchers from the academe, government and non government organizations.

what did we learn ? my insights here are based on mind mapping exercises while listening to many speakers. these are my own cerebral production, what edward de bono call ‘random word’ creative games. i open this discussion to invite those who are working on development, governance and migration.

first ,we know why our people migrate overseas with our two eyes : maldevelopment that results in poverty, the “bulemic ” governance and “anorexic ” institutions that fail collectively to provide a sustainable  standard of life for the majority of our people ;

second, to solve poverty in our country and encourage altruism among our leaders, we need to walk on two legs – develop industrialization strategies for local economies and increase on education and health investment.  the buzzwords in the conference is whether we manage well the mobility of our skilled and talented citizens. they migrate  market for higher pay and better working conditions. there was no more debate in stopping the brain drain. the reform direction is to encourage the return of the talented and skilled migrants. but how do we get  scientists and entrepreneurs  to help ? ed says that we can do something wherever we are, whether we are inside and outside the country. ( thinking and paging mila m, marita v, vhangie j, baby c, patrick l, pat c. and all our kababayan overseas ).

third, to answer the question above, we need to engage the local multi-stake holders in economic planning and investment.  those who want to help their birth city or town, there are non-government organizations running social enterprises across the country. they have been successful in generating jobs for the poor : one is AlterTrade in Negros and its muscovado sugar exports that help sacada workers rise from hunger and become partners in the sugar trading sector; there is Atikha in San Pablo and Batangas which invests overseas remittances in coconut oil and coconut products to help migrant families earn from these products. there is Unlad Kabayan in Mindanao that invested in coconut decorticating machines to produce coconut husk-based products. there are initiatives in helping migrant families develop financial literacy and become entrepreneurs here and overseas.

fourth, invest in education for all (EFA) campaigns to get 11 million children learning by 2015 (MDG).we have around 20 million children in school and there are 11 million not in school. the solution is to install the alternative learning system (ALS) developed and tested by the Department of Education in various towns and cities where the drop-out rate is high. the filipino civil society organizations, here and abroad, can be partners in this strategy and produce the 150 modules that are learner-centered.this program is cost effective. for 25 learners the cost is P70,000 and is not dependent on more textbooks and more classrooms. the local government unit budget in education is rarely used in als. it is used to build classrooms or repair buildings. the basic alternative learning system can solve the high drop rate of our school age children ( at least half a million a year).

the second solution is installing the adult accelerated learning system.  get our farmers, fishers folks and indigenous communities learning functional skills to enable them to rise above poverty. these are the people who cannot migrate overseas because they have no  current tradeable skills. they cannot communicate nor negotiate for higher pay and better working conditions.

in the conference, the government is asking overseas filipinos to donate funds to build P200,000 per unit classroom . the EFA campaigners think we can use the money in ALS and enroll 75 learners (P70,000 x 3 classes of 25 learners each) every school year. Ayala Foundation reported that they raise $4 million year from US Filipinos and Americans. if one million dollars (P43 million pesos) can be invested annually in ALS with the local government and civil society as counterpart partners, we can hope to return eleven million children in school. this can raise the standard of education for 42,000 barangays because the children will learn. this is the promise of Education For All (young and old) advocacy. this is a solution for families who are inside and outside hope .  tangible hope for the rural migrants who leave villages because of poverty and cannot afford to become overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

finally, the investment in local industries will need more thinking and advocacy. we are convening a series of roundtable this month with the economists and development migration experts. we hope to provoke the altruistic members in the research and development circles. december is for honoring mary, joseph and jesus as migrants of hope. let us become the sheperds who join the holy couple. lets share the three gifts : good governance, compassionate citizenry and doables in local industrialization. that’s  our resolutions to a nation in need of compassion and imagination.

teaching with a disability

November 16, 2007

today i found a good article in NIACE Adults Learning magazine on a teacher, michael somerton, who was severely disabled due to a stroke but is teaching again in Hull University. let me describe first the ordeal of michael and his learning to teach again. michael is 64 years old and was a fulltime university lecturer at Hull University. he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left hand, left leg and he lost his hearing in the right ear. he cannot speak clearly and has to speak slowly so he can articulate ideas and hear what he is saying. after a long period of recovery, he was convinced by his wife to teach again. the university and the UK government has a program Access to Work which offers financial assistance to disabled workers to do their job. michael applied for a support worker to help him conduct classes. michael is in a wheelchair and cannot raise his hand to write on the whiteboard nor distribute papers. the support worker michael needs will be his scribe, will facilitate discussions and hand out documents, move him around and bring him to the toilet, arrange for his exit and bring him to his wife’s car. but the important thing is the presence of the support worker will boost michael’s confidence in teaching. michael got peter as support worker and his first class became successful. michael wrote that his wife played a significant role by enabling the university to honor its legal obligations. she proofread and discussed his notes and documents, drove him to evening class and ensured that michael was in sufficient physical and psychological shape for a three hour class.

after reading this article, images of my father teaching classes everyday came. my 84 year old father, dr. cesar villariba, is not as disabled as michael but he has osteoporosis, scoliosis, slipped disc and pulmonary difficulties. he can barely walk nor talk but he keeps a daily teaching schedule in Enverga University, Lucena, Quezon province. my mother nene would prepare his meals and our cousin arnel would drive him every morning to school with my 12 year old nephew, johhny, as his cane. cesar has two support workers, gina and a student assistant who prepare all his documents and insure that he is comfortable. Enverga pays for gina’s salary and th student assistant gets subsidized. i handled his graduate classes on four saturdays last semester and i offered to be his co-lecturer but the university has to still appoint me as part-time lecturer. our government has no policy similar to Access to Work. i cannot get paid for helping my father teach but i do so out of love for learning and teaching. i wish more people with disabilities could be supported to do their job. the support for disabled teachers is part of lifelong learning advocacy and our government can learn from the UK on how it runs its support for teachers with disabilities.

if people want more information about michael somerton and lifelong learning , please visit

mayang and marcial,grassroots citizens

November 15, 2007

mayang and marcial taldo are grassroots citizens. i admire them for their citizenship. mayang comes from a poor family in davao and worked her way to become a librarian in our women’s resource center, isis international. marcial came from a poor family in bohol and drived his way to serve several international ngos : oxfam, save the children, and ford. his last job was driving for Luz Ilagan, the Gabriela party-list representative.

november is the month when all of us remember and honor our dead. yesterday, i went to honor marcial and wept with mayang and her son norcel. marcial was the first casualty in the Batasan bombing. marcial was fetching luz ilagan who just finished a legislative session. a bomb exploded while he was in the car and killed him. luz was wounded and nine other people as they were coming out from the building. representative akbar died later from fatal wounds. but marcial taldo was the first to die in the line of fire.

i hugged mayang when i saw her at the wake. she had not slept nor eaten for 24 hours. she went to the blast site and waited for many hours to get marcial’s body. the police authorities prevented mayang and her family from seeing marcial because they just started investigating. it took them four hours to bring marcial to a hospital and when it was clear marcial was dead, the police took his body to the military camp – camp crame for more investigation. mayang was only able to claim marcial at 10 am the next day and prepared him for the wake. the funeral chapel where marcial lay was quiet. the first to gather were people from his urban poor community. they sat there quietly. there were no flowers, no wreaths, no mass cards yet so i brought out my paper mandala cut-outs and told norcel and nanay bising (mayang’s mother) to arrange the mandalas on marcial’s coffin. as we were laying down the mandalas, i explained to them they were prayer offerings so that marcial can cross peacefully into another life. a few of the mandalas moved liked butterflies and i interpreted it as marcial’s thanking us.

when i look back at many wakes i attended, i could not avoid comparing the wakes of those who died serving and those who simply died (presumably their life had purpose but not obvious). marcial taldo was a citizen- driver. he served many non-government organizations by being their reliable driver and he knew many prominent people in civil society. he did not finish a degree in college but he knew by heart the principles and goals of development and sustainability. he was proud of mayang when she graduated from the adult high school of miriam college. he encouraged his sons to finish vocational courses because that was their way of rising above poverty. but his eldest son norman was killed while studying with farmers and it broke marcial and mayang’s hearts. now that marcial is dead, mayang has only one son left, norcel. the two will have to carry on the dream that someday, our elected leaders would serve the citizenry. for marcial, norman,mayang, and norcel are citizen activists. both marcial and norman served in the line of fire and they deserve the homage given to citizens who dedicated their lives to doing good.

helping the poor in lucena

November 12, 2007

yesterday in lucena, my family held a medical mission as an offering for my father, cesar villariba’s 84th birthday. our family regularly have golden seeds’ day on birthdays to thank everyone for our health. since it was our father’s birthday,we decided we would have a healing day.

around 300 women with children came and we organized ourselves along categories that needed attention : pediatrics, pulmonary, dermatology, geriatrics and general attention. since ceres romano, my sister, is a dermatologist,we decided we would group all the people along five rows based on the categories and get the more urgent cases attended at once. i volunteered to interview those mothers with babies. all the babies were feverish, had coughs and colds and they all looked like wilting blooms. as i scanned the babies, they did not even respond to my touch and i asked the mothers how long ago did their babies get sick. most said around a week and i asked them if they breastfed their babies. some do and some said they didnt. many of the mothers were laundrywomen and they have more than two young children aside from babies. they were also coughing and complained of dizziness. most of the children had skin allergies and were malnourished children.

after interviewing fifty mothers, i turned to the grandmothers who were asking also for immediate attention. most wanted eye check-up and glasses but we had only 30 reading glasses and eye drop medicine so i wrote on their check up form to visit an eye doctor in the hospital for diagnostics. all the women wanted to talk and i listened to them briefly. i could not provide adequate counseling time since 300 people were already registered and ceres had to diagnosed what medicine she could provide. the best i could do was get all the women with eye problems in one corner and gave them a short talk on diet, to eat green and yellow vegetables like malunggay and oregano, squash and carrots which can help with their eyes and health. i also told them about resting their eyes and not to watch television for more than 3 hours, especially when they are tired in the evening. but how were they to entertain themselves after a long day’s work of washing dirty clothes? so i shifted my short medical advise to laughing at least five times during the day, and they smiled. the children began to gather around the women as i told them that laughter was a better way of healing themselves . of course they know that but i realized affirming it as a medicine gave them relief. as i finished getting most of the women, children and some men prepared for their consultation with ceres, i turned to a girl selling pineapple that my nieces told me. she had a swollen cheek and i asked ed to scan her (ed and i learned energy scanning i tetada kalimasada). ed wasnt prepared since we did not practice our jurus (exercises) that day so i asked the girl, her name is angel, about her cheek.

angel and her sister were abandoned by her mother and left under the care of her grandmother. when she was younger, her father was charged with rape and was imprisoned (although she did not know if he was convicted). that was in catanauan town and her mother migrated with the two girls to lucena. there she met another man who turned to be abusive. she left and the two girls had to fend for themselves. the younger girl, angel, became the object of torture. the stepfather would hit her when he was drunk. one day, he got a metal tube and stuck the tube in her mouth. angel was brought bleeding to the hospital and the stepfather was arrested. that was a year ago but angel still feels the pain in her left cheek and she cannot go out to sell food when it is hot or when it is cold. i decided to take angel and her sister and cousin to lunch at home with us.

i found many resilient traits in angel, nine years old and her sister, angelica,ten years old. both of them sell food to help their grandmother feed seven other grandchildren plus take care of a sick son. they both want to go to school but they have not been registered (their mother did not register them when they were born) and their grandmother has her hands full trying to care for a big family, so no one had arrange to enroll them. earlier i had written a request for them to find the barangay captain for late registration but i realized that they could not write nor read. when they came to lunch with me, i asked my elder brother sonny to talk with them. sonny asked them about their life and after lunch, he asked them to bring a relative so we would arrange for their education. i gave them towels and soap, underwear and a school bag. we met with an aunt whom i had diagnosed earlier in the clinic as having reproductive health problems. i introduced our family as a family of teachers and that we would organize them as a learning group for the alternative learning system (ALS). i also brought in mercy, our laundrywoman who is a migrant from leyte but who lives in the same urban poor area. she agreed to be a learning group coordinator, a kaagapay ( more blogs about our education for life ALS program from http:// ). we suggested that we would start with writing and reading lessons and we showed them books that ning encarnacion gave us. we gave mercy the task of being their librarian. angel’s eyes twinkled and the three girls and their aunt promised to attend our learning sessions. i told them we would arrange for at least an hour a day,twice week for preparatory classes in their area. with that offering, we bid them goodbye since we were returning to quezon city that day.

on the way home to quezon city, my mind was full of questions. i wondered how i could organize angel’s learning, knowing her trauma and the many emotional issues she has to resolve. but having seen and listened to her, she is a girl who will not surrender to despair nor be defeated by extreme neglect. she was always smiling even when narrating her horrible experiences. there is that determined twinkle in her eyes and she laughs with gusto when given a pen and paper to write. she also has the love of her elder sister, angelica, who buys the pineapples and peels them for selling. i asked the two girls how they learned to count and give change ( which will be another lesson in pedagogy) and their stories made me think that children like angel and angelica have multiple intelligences. they survive poverty and make a living. they deserve a better future.

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