Monday, March 14, 2005

What women want

by Ma. Eleanor E. Valeros
March 14, 2005
posted at

March 8 was International Women’s Day.

The celebration brought back memories of my stint as a junior writer for Women’s Feature Service, the only all-women international news service offering a unique insight into women’s minds.

In one of WFS’ fora, I recalled a discussion that was more of a dissection of a woman’s three components – the child in her, the adult in her, and the parent in her. All three components are greatly challenged by multifarious issues — from empowerment, education, and work opportunity, to exercising her 12 reproductive rights.

What do women really want?

We, women certainly want empowerment through complete and correct information on practically all issues, as all issues are women issues. This would allow for respect, if not totally ignored. Our voices, viewpoints, and experiences – especially that of the handicapped, the indigenous, the marginalized – must find a voice so that we could participate in public discussion of issues that could shape our future.

In a group meet, we talked of a United Nations study that revealed women constitute one-half of the world’s population, perform two-thirds of the work but are registered as performing only one-third of the actual work. Women receive only 10 percent of the world’s income and have one percent of the world’s property registered to our name.

The second issue is on the global feminization of poverty. In the global state, women are the workers and squatters. Women produce half of the world’s food, yet constitute 70 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor.

Women’s wages are generally only three-quarters of men’s wages in the non-agriculture sector. Made worse, women receive only a very small percentage of credit from credit institutions.

When it comes to education, simple literacy rate for male is 98.5 percent as compared to 98.9 for women.

The top three cases on violence against women are wife battering, physical injury, rape/attempted rape, and acts of lasciviousness.

Employment rate for women is 90.3 as compared to men’s 91.5 percent; while unemployment is slightly higher for women at 9 percent.

There are more women in government service, but most heads of the regional line agencies are males. Publishers, editors, and station managers are again mostly men.

Above all, what women really want in the Internet age is to finally exercise her 12 reproductive health rights without fear of being gagged by a certain religious belief or ideology.

These reproductive health rights are universally accepted and allow individuals to grow to their full potential as positive and active members of society.

Women would want to exercise her Right to Life. This means, among other things, that no woman’s life should be put at risk by reason of pregnancy and that no person’s life should be put at risk or endangered by reason of lack of access to healthcare services and/or information, counseling or service;

The Right to Equality, and to be Free from all Forms of Discrimination which acknowledges the right of women not to be discriminated against by way of legislation, regulation, customs, and practices, social and cultural patterns of conduct;

The Right to Privacy meaning that all sexual and reproductive healthcare services should be confidential, and all women have the right to autonomous reproductive choices;

The Right to Freedom of Thought which includes freedom from the restrictive interpretation of religious texts, beliefs, philosophies and customs as tools to curtail freedom of thought on reproductive rights healthcare and other issues;

The Right to Information and Education including access to full information on the benefits, risks, and effectiveness of all methods of fertility regulations, in order that all decisions taken are made on the basis of full, free and informed consent;

The Right to Choose whether or not to Marry and to Found and Plan a Family which includes the right of persons to protection against a requirement to marry without her consent and the right of access to RH healthcare services;

The Right to Decide Whether or When to have Children is all about the right of persons to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of children and to have access to information and education;

The Right to Healthcare and Health Protection which includes the right of healthcare clients to the highest possible quality of healthcare, and the right to be free from traditional practices which are harmful and lead to death;

The Right to the Benefits of Scientific Progress that covers the right of Reproductive Health service clients to new RH technologies that are safe, effective, and acceptable;

The Right to Freedom of Assembly and Political Participation which includes the right of all persons to seek to influence communities and governments to prioritize RH and reproductive rights, and;

The Right to be Free from Torture and Ill Treatment which includes the right of women, men and young people not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; violence, sexual exploitation and abuse.

For your reactions, comments, suggestions and contributions, please crank up my addy:

The road to Aliwagwag

Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
April 28, 2004

My being wanderlust will always provide me with beautiful pictures and memories of Davao Oriental. I embarked on an expedition that I personally tag as “the adventure of a lifetime”.

It was in late 2002 when I first came to Dav Or. I’d heard of Dav Or so many times from my father, a true-blue Davaoeño having seen first light in Bansalan (Davao del Sur).

I was mesmerized by – oh well – the almost deserted beach of Tarragona, the awesome story of how the sun’s first rays in the new millennium shone in Santiago, Caraga, thereby referred to as “First Millennium Sunrise Site”; as well as the municipality’s efforts in preserving tribal wisdom in its Mandaya Tribal Community.

Of course, if you’re a beach buff how would you ever let the opportunity to see San Luis Beach pass by? San Luis is a 5-km stretch of black shimmering sand with rows of century-old trees near the beachfront.

In Dav Or, you will find this Puting Bato Waterfalls in barrio Limot, Tarragona. It's a 25-meter wide falls situated at the heart of the forest, this I learned from the lumads (natives).

In the municipality of Boston, one will find Magdawa Falls. It is a 50-m cascade surrounded by timberland, and Mahiga, an ice-cold spring. In the municipality of Baganga, there’s Carolina Lake worthy of the visit. Lumads believe giant eels thrive here. To each lake, it would take a 15-min ride from the poblacion by jeepney or habal-habal (motorcycle for hire). Kinablangan Hot Spring is also found in Baganga. Buso Hot Springs is located 10 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Mati.

But nothing ever wowed me more than the willingness of the Kamikaze Dual Sports Riders to escort me to Aliwagwag Falls. This to complete my southern Philippines expedition that began in Butuan, Agusan del Norte; passing by Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur; Tagum, Davao del Norte; Compostela Valley, to Cateel in Davao Oriental where I caught a glimpse and took a taste of Aliwagwag Falls’ rapids.

Aliwagwag Falls in barrio Aliwagwag, Cateel is a towering waterfalls reportedly considered by hydraulic engineers as the “highest in the country” and regarded as one of the most beautiful falls this side of Mindanao.

It has 84 major basins, and 39 small ones. The pools, from afar, resemble that of a stairway to heaven. Each pool has a depth of from 6 to 110 feet.

Overall, Aliwagwag Falls is 1,110 feet of cascading energy. All these in the midst of a virgin forest with bodies of trees all covered with moss and other forms of commensals, and crown covered with vines. Vines, hanging from trees, give the effect of thick shrouds.

With the efforts of the Municipal Planning and Development Office of the municipality of Cateel, the site has been promoted through the Aliwagwag Falls Resort and Recreation Development project.

Meantime, kudos to Kuya Henry “Dongdong” Docdoc, Andronico Palma-Gil, the former president of the Kamikaze Dual Sports Riders Club; to his nephew Ralph Palma-Gil and to Joy Sumalinab who accompanied me to Aliwagwag from Tarragona, covering a bumpy ride of 292 kilometers back and forth in 6 hours.

These Kamikaze riders made the road to Aliwagwag a real exciting and unforgettable experience.(/30)

Side trip: Sagbayan Peak

Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
November 28, 2004

There are two ways to go around Bohol – move about in every nook and cranny, spending a lot; or, choose to be in newly developed visitor sites and spend less.

Out after a fiesta-vaganza experience in the town of Calape (Bohol), my gang thought of a side trip. To experience the best of Bohol is to first partake of their fiesta celebration. After that, check out the most talked-about sites. Mapping out where to go next is peanuts, as the Boholanos are very eager when it comes to showing you around their “home”. They will tell visitors how and how much it takes and costs for one to arrive somewhere, and they share tips on the art of haggling for tour vehicles that are up for the “pakyawan” or “sabot-sabot” system.

In our case, it was a plus factor to be staying with a household in preparation for a banquet because we were able to pack rice, fried milkfish, pork, and other goodies for our provision, saving us a considerable amount for what could have been cost for meals. We were also able to refill our water canteen with ice-cold coffee, milk, or cola.

And what made the journey even more exciting was being in a household with a big truck used for moving pigs and goats from the hillylands to the markets, because this allowed some of the first-timers to sample what “pamukong” (hitchhiking) is all about.

The truck, I endearingly called “Mad Max”, brought us to Tubigon, 15 minutes away from Calape. The one thing a “viajero” should master when hitchhiking is to treat himself like some smuggled item at some point in his life (grin!). We had fun at the back of the truck; we were even noisier than the bleating goats and the grunting pigs combined (laugh out loud!)

Upon our arrival at the Tubigon town plaza, a barker waved at us pointing to a van for hire. “P2,500 ma’m. Aircon na, round-trip tour from Sagbayan Peak to Chocolate Hills Viewing Deck in Carmen, Loboc river and tarsier watching, to the Bilar reforestation project, Blood Compact site and Baclayon church to Dawis and Hinagdanan cave in Panglao island. Sulit!”

That was tempting! We huddled to check how much time we have for a side trip, and agreed on the one point we could take that afternoon – Sagbayan Peak. It is a newly developed visitor site where we were able to view mounds of the Chocolate hills – wonders that make Bohol one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines.

Then we tried to figure out how far we can go with our pooled P900. Would we be able to go to where we agreed to go? But the lure of going on a round trip for an additional P1,600 made some of my companions drool.

“Hey, we’ll opt for Sagbayan Peak,” I said. “It is a new structure where we can view the Chocolate hills, considered geological monuments. We don’t have to go to Carmen for that. At P900, we could get a jeepney and ask the driver to take us there, wait for us and take us back to Calape instead of just in Tubigon. That would save us the waiting time for the buses that go on hourly trips. And we could go back just before dusk so we could wash up, and get ourselves ready for the “diskoral”.

My word always end up being taken seriously (grin!). After 40 minutes of travel, we were at Sagbayan Peak, a new viewing structure in the town of Sagbayan – one of three towns where the famous haycock hills of Bohol are scattered. There you can get a feel of a mini Wall of China ambiance as you go up and down the stairs to reach the viewing deck nestled on one of those hills that turn chocolate-y yummy in April.

The collage of photographs couldn’t speak for everything we had shared up there at one moment in time, but for sure the hills gave us an opportunity to bond and invest more in our friendship. All in a day’s side trip.(/30)

Growin' up with the "...Bulaga!" fever

Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
December 2, 2004

Had to stick to the boob tube last Saturday for the silver anniversary of the longest running noon-time variety show on Philippine television – “Eat…Bulaga!” – even if it was heavily laced with commercials (less than ten minutes for a segment and 25 minutes devoted for “words from the sponsors”).

It was an ordeal, but I decided to hang on there in anticipation of any melodramatic scenes to transpire if ever Constancia Angeline Nubla aka Coney Reyes would join Tito Sen, Vic and Joey in a production number for the remote telecast at the Expo Filipino in Clark Field, Pampanga.

Coney, one of few bankable hosts to have joined the program, was out of the show for sometime already, but because Coney is a Bulaga family and will always be, I was really hoping to catch her back rendering her all-time favorite song “It’s My Turn” which was also scored for her Saturday drama anthology “Coney Reyes-Mumar on the Set” which eventually became “Coney Reyes on Camera”.

Last time I saw her was after the little bubbly Cariza “Aiza” Seguerra (bow!) squealed on national teevee that she saw Coney and Vic lovey-dovey in a whirlpool. (Ba’t naman kasi sinama pa ang bata! Buking tuloy mula Aparri hanggang Jolo!) Vic was too quick to have placed a hand over the babe’s mouth so as to save some proverbial beans or milk but (whew!) months after that, Coney had to pull herself out of the controversy because she was indeed having a date with the stork.

And I was right to have allowed myself to play couch potato last Saturday. Coney graced the show, obviously just being professional in granting an invitation from Television and Production Exponents, the “Eat…Bulaga!” producer. She shed tears indeed, standing beside Joey. She exchanged glances with former beau Vic, father of her other son Vicko, while Vic acknowledged her with a warm smile, enough to tell me how beautiful time patches pieces of shattered hearts and how amazing space allows for healing.

It took me sometime to recognize a chubby woman who joined the “institutional trio” in a song number. My mother asked, “Was it Chiqui Holmes?” And I blurted out: “Oh, dear! Chiqui Hollman-Yulo indeed!” The charming mestiza who used to have this Barbie waistline to envy for was back for the Bulaga reunion (She has a strong semblance now to Helen Gamboa-Sotto. Grin!)

At a monitor cum backdrop, there flashed the late Miss Helen Vela-Punzalan and Miss Rio Diaz-Cojuangco, two equally talented women with the gift of gab, who were Bulaga family too. I was a big Helen Vela fan through her “Lovingly Yours, Helen” program and I could recall it was from there Rio Diaz got the chance to display some acting prowess in one of its episodes entitled “Soltera”. Helen Vela was Tito Sen’s co-host for the “Kilometrico Quiz Bee” segment. If am not mistaken, Bulaga pioneered the inter-school quiz bees on television featuring the crémé de la crémé of Mapua, PUP, Adamson, UST, Ateneo, UP, La Salle, and a host of other colleges and universities.

On Bulaga’s 25th year special, the segment “Una Kang Naging Bongga sa Eat…Bulaga!” showed Samantha “Gracia” Lopez dancing on a street in Manhattan in New York. Gracia shone on Eat…Bulaga’s dance hall shortly after there was an Anna Feliciano of the show’s back-up dancers, Solid Gold, and shortly before there was a Rochelle Pangilinan of Sex Bomb.

Speaking of dance, this is something I looked forward to in every “Bulaga!” episode back in the ‘80s. I don’t have the chance to come home from school every noon break, so that I had to hang out at this nearby eatery to catch “Search for Caribbean Queen” where contestants wore the most revealing costume considered that time – that of belly dancers.

Joe and the Boxers’ “Just Got Lucky” found life in the choreography of Vicor Dancers where Sex Bomb manager-choreographer Joy Cancio was star dancer. Anybody passionate about dance that time would just want to pull their right arm high into the air, the other hand over the left ear simulating a headphone and sweat it out to the anthem of the Aga Muhlach-led Bagets generation.

Bulaga gave the Beat Culture dancers the opportunity to shine and mandate that dance contestants don a bunch of blue bow ties, attuned to the mood of the new wave – the music of my passionate generation (smile!) via “Pop Goes The World”.

And of course, there was the “Curly Shuffle” craze created by the “nyak-nyak-nyak-nyaking” Wea Dancers sporting on clown costumes. Then, Geleen Eugenio of Wea choreographed for Wowie de Guzman and the rest of the Universal Motion Dancers how to pump away with “Howie Gee”. With the unfolding of the years, the list for dance steps that led a fad, a craze, a dance revolution goes endless.

Pre-taped wishes were sent by former hosts Ces Quesada who’s such a “suplada” during the Bulagaan portion (I find her really cute) and Christine Jacob who used to buckle 777 times on national teevee despite idiot boards.

The “Una Kang Naging Bongga sa Eat…Bulaga!” portion also mentioned of the rise of Jericho Rosales from the Mr. Pogi search, danceboy Danilo Barrios also from same contest, young diva Dindin Llarena, Little Miss Philippines finalists Gladys “Chic-chic” Paras Reyes and Jessa Zaragoza, dancing queen Lady Lee, and acoustic superstar Aiza Seguerra. I was expecting the mention of Alice Dixson. She was Bb. Santacruzan and That’s My Boy titleholder Atong Redillas.

When the show’s first part folded up, boy I’m just so glad they did feature those people behind the show. It’s about time televiewers see TAPE bigman himself, Tony Tuviera; the mad writers, the editors, production assistants, researchers, cameramen, makeup artists, and production designers down to the utilitymen. Everybody chipped in to make “…Bulaga” a household name – a fever I come to grow up with along with millions of televiewers. I couldn’t imagine the magnitude of the jolt it has given to so many lives in its 8,000 episodes since it had its pilot telecast in 1979.

To those of my friends asking what in the world does “Eat…Bulaga!” really stand for – Ay! I could very well relate because the Sugbuano version for this child’s play is “tago-tago”. You call that somebody charged to hunt down his hiding playmates the “eat”. And when the “eat” finds the hunted, he would say “bulaga”! and would go back to the “eat’s post” to declare that playmate found. It was child’s play that found a niche in every home, every lunch break. And that until now, the “eat” still continues to locate the “kiliti” of its televiewers.

“Eat…Bulaga!” has successfully been accepted by people through the unfolding of generations as it is constantly reinventing itself. It has entertained people, and then provoked, has given light and joy, and raised something to protest on. But it just refuses to die. So it has gracefully moved in time to cater to the taste and move with the tune of different generations with its persistent, consistent, and insistent offering of “’sanlibo’t ‘sang tuwa” from Aparri to Jolo.(/30)

Barangay Paril

The strength of eco-tourism
Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
December 19, 2004

The company driver stared at me perplexed at the thought of traveling to barangay Paril, which has always been associated with the southwestern town of Barili. I was suspecting, at his head scratching gesture, that he would decline to take me, TF proofreader Cerna Jagonal, and Cebu City Hall beat reporter Garry Lao to some hinterland barangay in a town that is a two-hour drive from Cebu city.

“My golly, molly! I said we’re heading to barangay Paril, one of Cebu city’s mountain barangays. It’s not in Barili. It’s next to Mabini, after Agsungot, after Binaliw – all mountain barangays,” I was explaining umpteenth time to our company driver where Paril is, after seeing the perplexity in his eyes.

Barangay Paril is located at the border of Cebu city and Compostela town, occupying 510 hectares of a watershed in Cebu city’s mountainous area, approximately 42 kilometers from the Cebu city proper and is accessible only via motorcycles for hire.

Finally, after the company driver figured out where we were exactly heading, we vrooomed our way to the highlands of Cebu one early Saturday morning, mellowed by the mist and the drizzle.

Paril barangay captain Eliseo Jopia’s household welcomed us with the aroma of lemon grass emanating from a big cauldron of soup. The undefeated chieftain who was in office since the early 90s would want to share with us his plans to rake in revenue for the barangay through the development of eco-tourism sites. But before heading to the said sites he mentioned with potentials to becoming interesting destinations, we shared first a hearty meal of kinamunggayang manok bisaya.

Jopia mentioned the potential of Mangyapyap river and the Baogo cave in barangay Paril as sources of funds for the barangay. Jopia said the third top project his council is working on right now is the renovation of their very own barangay hall, aside from road works and the water reservoir.

“Hangtod karon wa pa gyuy klarong ka-meetingan ang konseho kay nag-agwanta ra gyud mi usa aning gubaon nga barangay hall nga naigo sa bagyo,” Jopia said in between sips of the sizzling hot-hot-hot chicken soup.

Beads of sweat came rolling down our brows as we finished off the last spoonful of the soup, burping once in a while, partaking of the life at the boondocks embracing a watershed covered by the National Integrated Protected Areas Act.

In barangay Paril, one has to be very sure his means of livelihood would not mess up with the provisions of the Act, protecting one of Cebu’s five watersheds. The barangay council thought of turning to ecological tourism.

We had a tour at the Mangyapyap river gushing from the hillyland and the Baogo cave. The village chief would want to veer away from relying so much from the Cebu city government. He is looking at partnering with private entities in developing these geological features in an attempt to harness the potential of his place for tourism purposes.

The move is a response to find alternative income-generating sources for Paril residents who survive mainly on crop farming and menial jobs available at the construction sites in the lowland.

But then the barangay captain envisions the potential of developing the sites in a two-year time frame as he would still be soliciting the technical expertise of the city government aside from inviting interested private entities to chip in the realization of his vision. He is banking on the media too to help spread the word.

“Kung kami ra molihok ani, dili gihapon ni madali kay ang among priority dinhi sa barangay Paril ang farm-to-market road man and the water reservoir,” Jopia said.

Jopia is positive that once Paril would make it to the list of exciting destinations in Cebu, this would allow for the creation of a group of porters, motorcycle-for-hire drivers, vendors, tour guides, and the like.(/30)

Gossamer wings

Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
March 29, 2001

Man’s fondness of butterflies, the most glamorous creatures of the insect-dom, is age old. These creatures’ fragile wings and radiant colors have time and again enthralled poets, writers, and artists of many cultures. Such observation is enriched by Susanne Reichenberg’s article on fragile lepidopteran beauties found in Malaysia.

Malaysia Airlines, one of the top global carriers, is very much like its butterflies as it spreads wings over the world within a span of half a century. It has been observed that the nation’s flag carrier, one of the youngest fleet in southeast Asia, has chalked up an impressive track record from utilizing a single airplane to becoming one of the largest passenger airlines. With the dawning of the new millennium, Malaysia Airlines basks in the glory of being a celebrated world-class airline.

Today, Malaysia Airlines has a fleet of over 100 aircraft with a network of more than 100 destinations across 6 continents. With the growth of the airline’s fleet and network, its gossamer wings spread over Cebu on October 31, 1993 and flies exit Cebu to Kuala Lumpur twice weekly every Thursday and Sunday.

Lepis + pteron

Now let’s go back to Malaysia’s lepidopteran beauties scattered all over its stupendous rainforests. Butterflies belong to the Lepidopterae family of the super big, big world of insects (animals with anatomical features divided into three main regions: head, thorax, and abdomen). Scientifically, the word lepidoptera is derived from the Greek words lepis (scale) and pteron (wing). The Lepidopterae family is then divided into butterflies and moths. A general rule to distinguish the former from the latter is to note that butterflies usually fly during the day, whereas moths are nocturnal. Another easy identification guide is in the way they rest. Generally, moths rest with their wings opened in a horizontal position, while butterflies fold both wings together in a closed, upright position.

‘Twas fascination, err…admiration

What is behind this fascination for butterflies, you might as well ask? Susanne Reichenberg, an Australia-based travel writer, explains that in northern Europe, butterflies appear in spring proclaiming the advent of warmth and sun after a harsh winter, joyfully welcomed as a symbol of new life.

“Humanity admires the ultimate freedom these insects enjoy, roaming in a Garden of Eden between blossoms and lush foliage,” says Reichenberg.

Indeed it is a joyous sight to behold when scores of butterflies, displaying gossamer wings in their graceful flights from bloom to bloom, go feeding on nectar – the mythical drink of the gods; hovering and flitting in search of plant foods particularly suited to each specie; and fluttering and seeking for a good laying space.

Malaysia’s fragile beauties

Malaysia’s hundred-million-year-old rainforests serve as home to more than a thousand species of butterflies, having an already impressive number to which more discoveries are regularly added.

Biologists have identified many families and subfamilies of butterflies. Some of the most striking and spectacular species belong to the Papilionidae family or Swallowtails. They are characterized through their long pointed forewings and swallow-like tails from their hind wings.

Butterflies are said to be most active during the early morning and late afternoon. All forms of moisture, like puddles on the roadside, riverbanks, and wet leaves attract them. Many butterflies are also drawn to animal matter, observes Reichenberg, most especially urine which is why animal’s waterholes are good spots for butterfly watching.

The acclaimed naturalist Arthur Russell Wallace, and Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, are two of the most notable explorers of the Malaysian butterfly world. It was Wallace who discovered one of the most beautiful examples when he was exploring the jungles of Borneo back in 1855, this according to accounts of the investigative report made by Reichenberg.

Wallace found, in his net, a velvety black and brilliant green-colored butterfly with long, pointed wings and bright red neck. He named it in honor of the first British ruler of Sarawak at that time, Rajah James Brooke. The Rajah Brooke Birdwing has a truly notable wingspan of up to 18 centimeters and is today, one of the national symbols of Malaysia.

Visitors to Malaysia will have many opportunities to observe these beautiful insects, either in one of the butterfly farms which can be found all over the country. They will not only be amazed by Malaysia Airlines’ gossamer wings, they will get the opportunity too to view big, small, plain, spotted, and multihued butterflies in Kuala Lumpur and Penang butterfly parks which are highly recommended. But the thrill does not end there. For a bit more strenuous but even more rewarding activity, one can go on a trek through Malaysia’s hundred-million-year-old rainforests where species abound.


“Perhaps one of the most amazing things about a butterfly is its life cycle,” Reichenberg points out.

Every nature lover is astonished at the complete transformation, or metamorphosis, of butterflies from unsightly caterpillars to fragile yet stunning beauties. In its final form as an adult butterfly, it can only live for two to three weeks, but has had to go through three different lengthy stages to achieve its full beauty.

It starts with the female butterfly laying tiny rotund eggs on a food plant as every specie has its own particular plant. Within several days, these eggs hatch into caterpillars, equipped with powerful jaws to feed on verdant leaves. Caterpillars grow at a rapid rate and will cast its skin several times before it reaches the stage when it turns itself into a pupa.

The metamorphosis of this greedy worm-like creature from an apparently dormant-cocooned stage into a magnificent butterfly after weeks or months is one of nature’s greatest moments. When the adult butterfly emerges, its wings are crumpled and wet. Within an hour, the wings will have dried, and after several flaps, the butterfly takes off to feed, frolic, and mate.

The crusade to propagate and preserve butterfly species stems from so many good reasons. First, butterflies are agents of pollination that only means that they help maintain ecological balance by replenishing vegetation lost to factors as overconsumption and slash-and-burn farming.

Second, they aren’t carriers of any forms of diseases unlike other insects dreaded for being agents of malaria and cholera outbreaks. On top of it all, they are so pleasing and soothing to the eyes. Their presence makes one a poet in an instant, serves as inspiration to aspiring writers and canvas masters, and a motivating factor to the accomplishment of a lyricist’s or a musician’s works.

The insect-dom, particularly butterflies, teach man lessons on how to become more sensitive to the needs of his co-workers in this world teeming with biodiversity.(/30)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Cinders in space

by maria eleanor elape valeros

Paril’s night sky –
festooned once again
with the myriad of stars,
one old moon sailing
past clouds, and the
one Name I etched upon it.

The stars lethargic hiccups
spoke of the Name
and my heart drummed

My soul is just
a cinder in space
along with the falling stars,
but it finds delight in
that Name the cherubims
praise – Awesome God!

Even constellations shatter
to join the specks of dust
but they delight in that
fate as they shout – Awesome Omnipotent!

With you Awesome Omnipresent
I find my peace
not in indoctrination, but spiritual bonding
not in transubstantiation, but natural communion

With you Awesome Omniscient
I rest my case
No ifs, no buts – just utmost surrender
All loving, all giving – no questions raised

You are my Awesome –
my Alpha
my Omega!
I delight in being a cinder
in the immensity of your space!

Iring Saag

maria eleanor elape valeros

matag hagawhaw sa nagkanaas nga gutling
nangislo ikaw
mikaransay sa pagngiyaw

matag agulo sa nagkanaas nga gutlo
nagpanghupaw ikaw
mitig-ik sa pagngiyaw

iring saag -
gipanghinultulan na ba ikaw
kon asa ang dalan padulong sa balangaw

matag sawumsum
nagmugtok ikaw
padayon nga nagmingaw

dungan sa pagkahanaw sa adlaw
kaluhaan na usab sa kangitngit
ang imong pagduhiraw

The Big C talk


The Big C talk

I would want to share the following interesting, helpful, healthful information from a booklet, left near my workstation, entitled “2005 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates” written by doctors Adriano Laudico, Divina Esteban, Ma. Theresa Redaniel, Cynthia Mapua, and Lilia Reyes of the Philippine Cancer Society – Manila Cancer Registry, and the Department of Health-Rizal Cancer Registry with the cooperation of the Department of Health-Philippine Cancer Control Program and Rizal Medical Center, as well as the University of the Philippines – Manila, International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The booklet was published by the Philippine Cancer Society, Inc.

Winning the war vs. the Big C

The booklet began with the most essential information necessary to win a successful war against cancer - incidence, mortality, and survival.

Cancer incidence and cancer mortality mean number of new cases and deaths, respectively, that are occurring in a specific population during a particular time frame.

Both incidence and mortality are expressed as the number of cases per 100,000 population. Cancer survival tells about how long patients live after being diagnosed, and is usually expressed as the duration (e.g. months), or as the proportion of patients still alive after a period of time, usually 5 or 10 years.

Incidence data would express either success or failure in cancer prevention. Survival data gives the idea of the curability or incurability of specific types of cancers, as well as the health system’s performance in early detection and appropriate treatment of certain curable cancers. Cancer mortality is affected, to a greater or lesser degree, by incidence and survival.

What causes cancer?

Normally, the cells that make up the body reproduce themselves in an orderly fashion and have specific life spans. Dead and worn-out tissues are replaced, injuries are repaired and the body stays healthy. When exposed to some substances, like certain chemicals and viruses, some susceptible cells undergo changes in their genes called mutations.

The substances that cause these genetic mutations are called carcinogens. Examples of carcinogens, also called cancer-promoting substances, are numerous chemicals in cigarette smoke, viruses that cause chronic infection of the liver and the uterine cervix, estrogen, and ultraviolet rays from the sun.

These cellular genetic mutations if left unchecked will eventually enable the cells to behave in a manner totally different from normal cells. They keep on reproducing, live much longer, and can spread and reproduce in other parts of the body. Cancer cells serve no useful purpose and when too numerous and widespread, they cause serious damage and death.

Can cancer be prevented?

One-third of all cancers is preventable. A healthy lifestyle that is started in childhood, particularly eating a healthy diet, maintaining physical fitness, and minimizing and properly coping with stress will decrease the risk of not only cancer but also many chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, stroke and diabetes.

A healthy diet is a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, rich in starchy foods (such as cereals, tubers, and pulses) and including a substantial intake of fruits and vegetables. The micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables, such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements, are essential in maintaining the defense mechanisms that protect the body. An unhealthy diet is one that is rich in fat, salt and free sugars, and or in smoked, salt-pickled and salt-preserved foods.

Physical fitness is achieved through a lifelong active lifestyle. Physically fit individuals are not overweight, are quite productive in their jobs, have a high self-esteem, and are more able to successfully cope with stress. Exercise need not be performed in expensive fitness clubs or in difficult sports, and does not need elaborate equipment. Walking, climbing, and myriad manual activities regularly performed result in physical fitness.


Congratulations to the 1st Price Winner of The FREEMAN’s “My Most Romantic Love Story Contest” in line with the V-Day. The entry is entitled “Love transcends anything” submitted by Maria Mercy Archival Daniot-Gumba, 39 years old, from 10 E. Aguirre Road, Cabancalan, Mandaue City. The entry goes a little something like this: “I was still bald and moon-faced after my chemotherapy when our family went to Baguio for a vacation. I felt so insecure and conscious of my appearance. We were inside Camp John Hay’s Butterfly Sanctuary when my husband embraced me tightly…we kissed passionately while the butterflies fluttered around us. Just like lovers in a tryst – oblivious to the flashing of the camera and to the giggles of our daughters who were hiding behind the bushes. He then whispered, “Sweetheart, I love you very much!,” as the fog slowly enveloped us. True love indeed transcends anything and everything.”

(For your comments, reactions, suggestions, and contributions, crank up my addy:

Barangay Paril revisited


Barangay Paril revisited
Activating farms, natural park

Barangay Paril, one of Cebu City’s mountain barangays, is special. It will be “home” in the next months as barangay chairman Eliseo Jopia agrees to give my mountaineering team a 20-sq.-m space for a nipa hut we will be building. The hut will serve as our “tambayan” for days we would be there in Paril to assist in environmental volunteer works.

Paril brims with so much promise with the activating of its soil, starting off with the propagation of cauliflower and broccoli initiated by green thumb first councilor Casimero Pilones. This, aside from the already productive inter-cropping of corn or maize, eggplants (talong), bitter gourd (ampalaya), melon gourd (sikwa), cabbage (repolyo), yam (ube), bell pepper (siling kampana), and stringbeans (batong). These farm produce were showcased at the Agri Trade Fair last February 21 at the Cebu City Hall grounds in line with the celebration of the 68th Charter Day.

Of course the barangay has long been into cereal production, but this time of the year has to replace crops that would withstand the searing effects of the expected El Niño phenomenon.

Nevertheless, Jopia banks on the synergy shared by his council and constituency to go on activating the agricultural industry, side-by-side with the development of the barangay into an ecological tourism site.

Two Saturdays ago, we revisited the Mangyapyap river system and assessed on how our group could help in the development of the area into an eco-tourism site. The envisioned transformation of Paril into a natural park will kick off with a natural orchidarium done through the efforts of volunteers who will be tasked to attach commensals, in the form of orchids, to trees growing near cliffs. The propagation of fruit bearing trees that would doubly serve as plant food to butterflies to give way to a sanctuary, aside from the exploration of the Baogco cave, would also be part of the efforts.

Barangay Paril with its 510 hectares of land, located 27 kilometers away from the Cebu city proper via barangay Cambinocot, with a population of about a thousand people, is one of few places in Cebu covered by the comprehensive system of integrated protected areas within the classification of mostly tenured migrant communities. This is defined by Republic Act 7586 or An Act Providing for the Establishment and Management of National Integrated Protected Areas System.

This is the very reason why Jopia has to align and or focus his communal programs particularly on the twin objectives of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

Barangay Paril indeed has ecological values embraced by its geological features that should be at the core of the barangay development plan. Jopia hopes to work on the effective administration of such plan or program in the twin areas of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development so that the use and enjoyment of this protected area must be carried out in congruence with the provisions of the NIPAS Act of 1992.

During my second sit-down interview with the hardworking and driven barangay chairman, we talked of the profound impact of man’s activities on all components of the natural environment particularly the effect of increasing population and resource exploitation which is basically traced to economics.

Jopia recognizes the critical importance of protecting and maintaining the natural biological and physical properties of Paril’s environment notably on areas with biologically unique features to sustain Paril’s community life and development.

Jopia envisions well of people community and livelihood possibilities thriving well, consistent to the program of propagating plants and preserving animal lives with the establishment of barangay Paril as a natural park, it being a part of the comprehensive system of integrated protected areas.

(Those interested to join in the environmental volunteer works, please coordinate with Paril barangay captain Eliseo “Eli” Jopia at 09204254922 or crank up my addy: and tell me how you could be of service.)