Blog Posts by VERA Files

  • Mystical Mt. Banahaw

    By Kimmy Baraoidan, VERA Files

    Photos by Chris Quintana and Kimmy Baraoidan

    Faith and mysticism are deeply embedded in the daily life in Dolores, Quezon, a quaint village at the foot of Mt. Banahaw.

    Where the concrete road ends is a flea market where, aside from farm produce, one finds fascinating items: stones and tree barks from the mountain, crystals, religious items, and amulets. Vendors claim that these charms, when worn, can protect one’s health, ward off danger and bad spirits, or bring good fortune.

    Going up to Mt. Banahaw, there’s the mystical Sta. Lucia waterfalls.

    The way to Sta. Lucia Falls is as spellbinding.

    One weaves through coconut trees that tower over a winding trail. At the end of the trail are around 300 steep stone steps that descend to the falls. Along the way, statues are perched on large rocks that serve as altars where one can light candles and pray. The sound of rustling water grows louder as one nears the bottom of the steps. A rocky stream of cold,

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  • Albert Tiu’s tribute to Nature’s elements

    Albert Tiu2014

    By Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Pianist Albert Tiu had a lot of practicing to do at the time of this interview, and yet he still managed to send his detailed words on his life. It is a full, hectic life where he can be called on to be at any given time a solo performer, chamber musician, music educator or family man.

    The Cebu-born, Singapore-based Tiu, who teaches at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, will be heard in a unique concert inspired by the four elements of nature: earth, wind, fire and water.

    The MCO Foundation production on June 6 at the Ayala Museum lobby has a program of 20 short but rarely heard pieces like Leopold Godowsky’s “The Gardens of Buitenzorg” from Java Suite, Debussy’s “Reflets dan l’eau” from Images I that is characterized by piano rolls, Manuel De Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance, Erik Satie’s “Feu d’artifice” from Sports et Divertissements, Roger Quilter’s transcription of Stephen Hough’s The Fuchsia Tree.

    He narrated the genesis of this ambitious program:

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  • Albay’s pride is back in the market

    Loveres demonstrates how to weave placemat.

    By Reynard Magtoto, VERA Files

    "Without this, maybe it will be too hard for me to provide food for my family since I don't have any better job," Delma Loveres said as she took the two "pinurons" alternately inserted in the threads in the wooden handloom to demonstrate how to weave an exquisite placemat.

    She first collected the strands of abaca fiber using the spinning wheel. With the two separately collected strands of abaca fibers called pinurons, she proceeds to the handloom.

    "Step on the left break, insert the first pinuron to the left side of the thread then pounding is done," Loveres explained to a group of foreigners at the recently-concluded Green Products and Techno Showcase of Albay’s Pride. "Step on the right break, insert the second pinuron to the right side of the thread then pounding is done."

    The 59-year-old weaver regularly supplies raw materials to Natural Carpet Industries (NCI), one of the craft companies in Albay that provide livelihood to villagers.

    Formerly known

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  • Slow prosecution of human trafficking cases worries expert

    By Jane Dasal, VERA Files

    The Philippines has strong laws penalizing human trafficking, but the slow prosecution of cases remains a huge barrier in the campaign against traffickers and their cohorts, an expert said.

    The trial process is too long and the number of convictions is still low, Visayan Forum policy director Shalima Parmanand said Thursday at an antitrafficking and slavery seminar for 200 Antipolo City employees.

    The Philippines enacted in 2003 Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act, which was later amended into R.A. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. It is also a signatory to the United Nations Protocol Against Human Trafficking.

    “Our laws are actually good. Under the law, even if the acts—such as sexual exploitation and forced labor, and the means to traffic persons—have not been successfully carried out, the element of intent to exploit the victim is enough to consider the act as human trafficking,” Parmanand said.

    During the seminar,

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  • Cigar company bridges PH and Spain, past and present

    Ayala Corporation chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (third from left) and Spanish ambassador Jorge Domecq (fourth from left) examine a old map of Luzon. Wi

    By Norman Sison, VERA Files

    First and foremost, the museum exhibit is about the corporate history of a Spanish cigar company that brought Philippine cigars to the world. But the exhibit about Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas can also be seen as a reminiscing into the glory days when Philippine cigars rivaled Cuban stogies.

    Among many other items on display at the ground floor of the Ayala Museum is a 19th-century wooden cigar holder that resembles a candelabra. On another display stand are two tobacco containers, an ornate cigar tray, and a cigar lighter and cutter set — all made of silver — dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Visitors wonder at the label designs of cigarillo brands that seem like artwork compared to today’s cigarette packaging on which printed health warnings are prominent.

    Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas — better known by its nickname, Tabacalera — was founded on November 26, 1881, with the sole purpose of taking over the Spanish

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  • Disasters give lessons for more ethical tourism promotion

    Historic Daraga Church glow during a tertulla for tourism convention delegates

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    The recently-concluded international tourism convention in Albay has once more spotlighted the need for disaster-prone countries to draw up alternative ways of promoting tourism even as they are constantly threatened by effects of climate change.

    It could not have been held in a more appropriate venue. Albay bore the brunt of Typhoon Reming in 2006 killing more than 2000 inhabitants mostly from mudslides from Mayon Volcano. It has since then recovered and is the only province in the Philippines noted for its highly organized emergency response capacity with the first and only Climate Change Academy in the world put up by the United Nations Development Program. .

    World Wide Fund For Nature International President Yolanda Kakabadse from Ecuador noted in a paper that Filipinos know by heart the true cost of climate change. “They know because one storm claimed more than 6,000 lives and inflicted $14 billion in economic damage. They know because they have

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  • Quezon City holds a different kind of santacruzan

    Geena Rocero

    By Patrick King Pascual, VERA Files

    A different kind of santacruzan was held recently in Quezon City. It was different not only because the participants were transgenders from different organizations from all over the country but also because it had the full support of the local government.

    Called the trans-santacruzan (transgender santacruzan), the May 18 event was held in celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Aside from the annual Pride celebration held every June, IDAHOT is another important event that the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) community throughout the world celebrates every year.

    “The theme of IDAHOT this year, coinciding with the international celebration, is 'freedom of expression in all public areas'. We would like to show everyone that [we] trans people should be respected in terms of how we express ourselves in public places. We want to highlight LGBT rights and gender equality,” Dindi

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  • Cordilleran mummies in Europe?

    Orlando Abinion talks about the Benguet mummies at 5th Tam-awan International Arts Festival

    By Ofelia C. Empian, VERA Files

    Baguio City—Two mummies from the Cordillera have found their way to Europe and regaining them would require a tedious process involving national and local agencies, and the assistance of UNESCO, says Engineer Orlando Abinion, a conservation consultant at the National Museum.

    One of the mummies is in a medical school at the University of Granada in Spain and the other one is in a private collection, he said, without disclosing its exact location.

    Speaking at the recent 5th Tam-awan International Arts Festival (TIAF) held here, Abinion said thorough studies are necessary to ascertain the origin of the mummies and other information on their background, but any research would need an authorization.

    He said he will ask the National Commission for Culture and Arts, National Commission for Indigenous Peoples and the local government units concerned for their authorization to jumpstart the research.

    Information about the mummies was relayed to Abinion by James

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  • Coco and Sarah: New love team to reckon with

    Introducing the new love team Coco Martin and Sarah Geronimo.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    Love teams in Philippine movies mean a lot to producers and audiences.

    For the producers, a good love team can translate into box office hits.

    A successful pair can translate into more following and for the stars, it means more commercial endorsements.

    According to movie chronicler Mario Bautista, love teams in Philippine cinema made quite an impact from the 1920s to the 1930s with the love team of Mary Walter and Gregorio Fernandez (Rudy Fernandez’s grandfather).

    In the 1930s and the 1940s, the love team of Rosa del Rosario and Leopoldo Salcedo was the toast of tinsel town followed by Elsa Oria and Ely Ramos, Lucita Goyena and Fernando Poe, Sr.

    From the 1940s to the 1950s, the love teams to beat were Corazon Noble and Angel Esmeralda, Carmen Rosales and Rogelio de la Rosa, Tita Duran and Pancho Magalona and on to the decades of Delia Razon and Mario Montenegro, Nida Blanca and Nestor de Villa, Gloria Romero and Luis Gonzales and on to the 60s most-most

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  • PWDs come out to play boccia


    By Melissa Luz Lopez, VERA Files

    Photos by Mario Ignacio IV

    In 2008, athlete Marilou Deniega competed in the ASEAN Paralympic Games held in Thailand. She played boccia, a ball sport designed for persons with cerebral palsy.

    Deniega, a first timer in the Para Games, failed to bring home a medal, having trained for only a month prior to the competition. She recalls, though, that she only lost by one point.

    Boccia has been in the country since the year 2000 and is part of the annual Philippine National Games. This year, the boccia tournament was held May 20 and 21 at the Marikina Sports Center.

    Four teams participated in this year’s tournament, composed of persons with disabilities (PWDs) federation members from Quezon City, Las Piñas, Mandaluyong and Marikina, along with members of the Philippine Cerebral Palsy Incorporated. Singles and doubles competitions were also held.

    Boccia is played by two teams with three members each, whose wheelchairs are placed in a row. The goal is to throw

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