Friday, March 29, 2013

A Dying Way of Life

By Anatoly P. Agapito

Photos by Jai Murcillo

The bus sped past the seemingly unending line of houses fronting the vast expanse rice fields that extended to the horizon. He couldn't see where these fields ended and where the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains began but the warm air from the fields gave him a nostalgic feeling. It is for this reason that he chose to ride in an ordinary bus going home just to feel this air - the warm air that reminded him so much of home - the home that exists only in memory for everything has changed. Slowly albeit so surely... nothing has stayed the same.

The houses the lined the highway were denser now. Here and there there were the unmistakeable marks of "progress." What once were green ricefields were now houses.. if not rice mills.. if not feeds factories. Everywhere... everything reminded him that "coming home" can never be coming home to what it once was before. "Sentiments of an old fool" he said to himself.

His eyes fell upon the carabaos that hauled the heavy rice harvested from the rice fields. They still used the Maharlika highway to haul their loads but they too have changed. What was once wooden carts made from "kawayan" were now intricate contraptions of wood, rubber, some parts metal, and the innovation of adding wheels. "At least that made it a lot easier for the lowly carabao" he murmured to himself.

"Still," he said to himself, "this is a dying way of life." It was undeniable. He sees it. The wheels of progress are moving too fast for the farmer and the beast of the fields to catch up. Along the same highway rice fields were being converted to subdivisions in anticipation of man's growing need for shelter. Somewhere along the superhighway where his bus exited was huge coloseum being erected for cockfighting complete with parking space and lights. He asked himself "As our populations grow... as we convert these vast lands to commercial and residential spaces do we not decrease the amount of palay that we can harvest for food? If then, what will feed the Filipinos of tomorrow? As we choose the concrete parking spaces of tommorrow.. without really having guarrantees if our means of livelihood can one day afford a car or even the food we're going to eat as food prices are set to rise as supplies ran out, are we not starving ourselves later? Have we not read the signs of progress wrongly? Has everyone so hastily jumped into the bandwagon of commerce without regard to what the future may hold?

His heart ached. The wheels of progress are opressing the way of life that he grew up with. The glitter and glamour of the shining lights... the false promise of comfort of city life... were all enticing farmers away from farming. And the lack of certainty of a life firmly planted on the soil had robbed them of their sons and daughters who fled the provinces to take their chances in the city. He can't blame them. Everyone deserves a chance to progress. Everyone except the farmer and the carabao who are forever cursed to serve the land they were born to and they were fated to die under. That way of life is dying. Everyone now thinks that if you are a farmer... then you are poor. You cannot afford the comforts of life. You wouldn't have enough money to send your children to school.. buy their books... even provide for their everyday allowance. Much less let them set their foot in college. This way of life is dying.. he said to himself and he wept bitterly.

And the more bitter part of it is it didn't have to be that way. If only industries would give due importance to the agriculture that feeds them. If only they would recognize that the Filipinos that drove the wheels of industry are being fed by rice fields that they so blindly destroy to profit. But no one would want to see it. The promise of large sums of return is too attractive to stay in agriculture. A farmer who once had 3 hectares of land would rather sell this land to the developer.. who would invest on average investments in gravel to cover it up and concrete to erect townhouses. It is not an easy task and looking for money to fund such a transition also has its commensurate amount of difficulty. But there are more of those who have that kind of money and are more willing to spend on this than those who would stay in farming. In a few years these units would be priced 1.3 Million a piece - a "better" valued investment.

One day when even with the amount of investment we've accumulated we can't afford to put food on the table would we realize that this is the "fork" in road - when we could have made a difference but we did not. When we could have avoided widespread starvation and we did not. It is the simple mathematics of supply and demand really. The more lands we convert to residential and commercial areas the less we have for agriculture. The less land for agriculture, the less rice we harvest. The less rice we harvest the less supply of rice in the market. The less supply the more demand. The more demand the higher the price. And for those who have barely enough to supply for three meals a day. What will happen if the price of rice would increase by 20 pesos more. 5 years ago we still could afford to buy rice for 21 pesos per kilo. Now it has risen to 34 pesos. And no one seems to care or notice. And as population increases the demand only grows. That is a factor of millions his mind could calculate. He wept. "What will happen to my children?" Suddenly he found himself not weeping for the past but weeping for the future? If we do not stop this now... what will happen then?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pasang Awa


By Lorenzo Ed Valenciano

PASANG AWA ( as in the last bar exams): is this not one of the greatest reasons/obstacles why the PH, our dear PH, is finding it rather difficult to earn a decent place under the sun? AWA is treated in our parts as a commandment from God that should be extended to all without qualification as to reason or logic. This predominantly Catholic country of ours which we love so dearly, has succeeded, over the years, to twist, give a new meaning to, and culturalize [if there is such a word] it. Unfortunately, our distorted interpretation of AWA is proving/has proven that it does not do us good: we make ourselves non-competitive in a highly competitive world. We must stop the abuse of the word AWA because if we do not, we are pulling ourselves deeper and deeper into the pit of the non-entities. If you think on the word longer and internalize it you might get the sense that it really deters growth..........our propensity to accommodate is so ill-placed, many times we get into trouble being that way. Did you notice how reluctant the attorney who, on TV, tried to explain why the passing mark of the last bar had to be lowered, because he himself could not agree with the decision of the SC to compromise, and allowed a lower passing grade? What is worse, the person said, the compromise was done in deference to the coming holy week. Ngek!

Friday, March 8, 2013

U.P. Manila Dramatista presents We Tell the Story: A Musical

This March, let UP Manila Dramatista tell you a story of two different worlds that were never meant to meet, and in the end conquered fate with love, hope and faith. It will also take you to a journey of unity and harmony within different races and societal status.

For ticket inquiries and reservations contact Janel Mamorno at 09357425860.

The show will run from March 15 until March 23 at the CAS Little Theater, UP Manila.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ladies of the UP Corps, to unite alumnae group on March 16, 2013, International Women’s Month

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago as head of the
UP ROTC Corps of Sponsors in the late ’60s.

Corps Sponsor ’97 Joyce Marie Rose Cuaycong during the
traditional Presentation of Sponsors at the UP Sunken Garden, 
on board the “white carabao” while trooping the line of cadets.

UP Diliman, QC -  “We are calling on our co-alumnae to join us in addressing contemporary challenges of the ROTC and the UP Corps of Sponsors, as well as relive our distinct culture of relevant and altruistic service,” the UPCOS Alumnae Assembly Organizing Group proposes.

The UP Corps of Sponsors alumnae will conduct their initial lunch workshop at the Bahay ng Alumni on March 16, 2013 from 11am to 3pm.  Ladies who served as mediators between the cadets and cadet officers of their battalions in the ROTC during their college years, from all over the UP System shall meet to relive their glorious years in the Corps, relish friendships, and discuss the organizations’ contemporary social relevance. 

The UP Corps of Sponsors is the socio-civic arm of the UP Department of Military Science and Tactics. It is an organization known to select the beautiful and bright young women leaders in the University of the Philippines, and offers a distinct paramilitary training for its members preparing them to be graceful and empowered women leaders under its shibboleths of Honor, Excellence, and Service. 

Among its notable alumnae are Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Prof. Solita ‘Winnie’ Monsod, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Coco Quisumbing, Philippine Information Agency NCR Director Riza Baldoria, and former Congresswoman Lorna Verano, who will be keynote speaker during the event.

The corps ladies will also grace the Parade and Review of troops at the UP Sunken Garden organized by the UP Vanguard Inc. The parade and review shall be in celebration of UPROTC’s 52nd anniversary.  No less than the Philippines Vice President Honorable Jejomar Binay shall grace the said event. 

The workshop will be facilitated by Dominique Monera-Tabora, another distinguished alumna from UP Baguio and the current World Vision Asia-Pacific Communications Specialist.  Discussions will cover the formalization of the organization’s objectives and next steps. 

Former UPCOS members can reach the Organizing Committee of the UP Corps of Sponsors Alumnae Assembly through email at or access their facebook page: for related information and updates.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hungry for hummus


By AS Bonifacio

Whenever I have a craving for Middle Eastern food beyond shawarma, I hie off to Kazam in Maginhawa Street in Diliman. My previous go-to haven, Al-Fakr, had long been gone from this foodie stretch, so I was happy to find another similar restaurant likewise serving falafel. This dish is popular that even in Al-Fakr back then, it was hard to come by. I’ve been twice to Kazam where they ran out of falafel, which is simply fried chickpeas (garbanzos). Fortunately, as a healthy alternative, Kazam has rather decent hummus, the non-fried version of falafel, basically, just mashed garbanzos with olive oil etc. thrown in.

I have always been disappointed with the hummus served in Metro Manila restaurants, even at the expensive Cyma, which otherwise has delicious offerings. The best hummus I’ve tasted was homemade, and I was even taught how to make it, but it takes a lot of effort. First you boil the garbanzos, and then you mash them in a blender. Well, they can be mashed by hand too. I’ve tried precooked hummus, sold in dried, powdered form, and it was plain yucky.

Thus I was happy to find Kazam set up space sometime in 2012 at the Sikatuna Village side of Maginhawa Street, no. 162, although they were rudely interrupted by street diggings that required closing down for weeks. Finally late last year, they were back, with their sidewalk trimmed down and now sharing a nice balcony space with their neighboring foodspots. Kazam not only offers hummus but other Middle Eastern delights, particularly Persian food, such as keema (ground beef) and kebabs. I especially love their chelo kebabs, grilled meats with a generous serving of buttered rice, grilled tomatoes and onions. They have a protein-rich chelo combination of tenderloin with either beef or chicken. No pork at all.

Their motabal (mashed eggplant) is a bit too salty for me.  The hummus, however, puts the expensive Middle Eastern restaurants to shame, and the added olive oil is not at all stingy. Sometimes I go there just for the hummus alone, with one order needing two orders of pita bread. They have a shawarma variant with falafel and hummus, which I find too rich, carb-wise, but it’s actually a good deal for the price. Last I went, Kazam had a promo of unli shawarma from noon to 3 p.m. daily, but it’s a shame, since I’m not impressed with their beef version.

Friday, March 1, 2013

U.P. Board of Regents denies Posadas extension

Source: Technology Management Center

Statement of former College of Science Dean Roger Posadas:

To all my fellow faculty members, my students, UP alumni here and abroad, old and new friends, and all others who supported me in my appeal to the UP Board of Regents (BOR) for the extension of my full-time faculty appointment, I am very sad to inform you that the BOR today (February 28, 2013 - ed) denied my appeal with finality and decided to downgrade my faculty status to Professorial Lecturer, a part-time faculty position with a salary that is about 50% of my last full-time salary. This setback for me and other professors who are older than 65 (Jun Cruz Reyes, Naida Rivera, Daisy Carlota, Claro Llaguno, et al.) is a triumph for UP President Pascual's, UP Diliman Chancellor Saloma's, and the All UP Workers Union's new policy of regarding senior professors as unwanted costs and unneeded old fogeys that have to be discarded.

The principal thrust of the incumbent UP administration is not to achieve world-class academic excellence nor to produce UP graduates that embody expertise coupled with virtues but rather to achieve operational excellence by reducing faculty costs and computerizing UP operations. I am very sad not so much for myself -- because my family and I will find ways of surviving somehow -- but for the future of our UP beloved which is now going to the dogs and becoming UP benighted as we keep losing our excellent faculty members to other local universities and to other countries.

I wish to thank all of you sincerely from the bottom of my heart, especially those who have not met me in person, for all your expressions of support and for signing the petitions to the BOR. I am also very grateful to all those who extended their support, comfort, and love to my son, Gregor Ethan. We may have lost this particular battle, but we have won many new genuine friends. My family and I will never forget your help and support. Maraming salamat. Tuloy ang laban. Ipaglaban ang UP.