Michael, how could you?

The bell tower of Paoay Church is defiled by a man named Michael, or by someone deeply in love with a Michael. That this graffiti has been there for over a year disturbs me. Now, there are at least two other names “inscribed” at the base of this tourist attraction. What person in a healthy state of mind would do this to a Unesco World Heritage Site?

Paoay Church Belfry (11/21/2011)

TRIVIA: The three-storey coral stone bell tower which stands to the right of the church served as an observation post in 1896 for the Katipuneros during the Philippine revolution against the Spaniards, and again by the Filipino guerillas during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

According to historians, the bell tower also served as a status symbol for the locals. The bell would ring more loudly and more times during the wedding of a prominent clan that it would during the wedding of the poor.

Source: http://digitaljournal.com/blog/3098

Tan-ok Festival of Festivals: Why Laoag was biggest loser

Laoag City's Pamulinawen slash Panagpanday Festival presentation

I have always believed that Laoag City’s Pamulinawen Festival is confused. And that same confusion was brought to the First Tan-ok Festival of Festivals held last night, Nov. 12.

The result was sad but not puzzling. Of 23 local government units, Laoag did not figure in the Top 10, based on the eminent judges’ scorecards. I’m sure the overflowing audience at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Stadium felt the same.

Some observers—including my friend and former colleague at the university, Randy Leaño, who is now based in Hawaii—believe that Laoag lost because it did not get a good choreographer. As the city’s big names in culture and the arts opted to train contingents of other municipalities, Laoagueño-trained contingents won while Laoag wallowed at the bottom.

I agree that choreographers are a vital element in performances, and more so in competitions. However it is my humble opinion that Laoag lost because of something more basic: the story it shared was, well, confused.

Listening to the dubbed introduction before the performance, I had no idea at first that it was the Pamulinawen Festival being referred to, and when it was made explicit that it was Laoag’s turn, I was in a state of disbelief. It spoke of Panagpanday (Blacksmithing). Maybe there are some blacksmiths in Laoag, but I didn’t know (and even Google doesn’t) that Laoag is known for that industry in the same manner San Nicolas is known for their pottery or Piddig for wine making.

And pray tell, what is the connection between the popular Ilocano love song Pamulinawen and blacksmiths? That Panagpanday is alien to the Laoagueños’ psyche was apparent in the way the dancers performed. It became even more obvious with the audience’s silence. Continue reading “Tan-ok Festival of Festivals: Why Laoag was biggest loser”

Teddy’s surprise

Ours is really a world of surprises and, in many instances, these surprises are broadcast on Youtube. Teddy Locsin Jr., who served as press secretary during the presidency of the late Corazon Aquino, recently dished out a powerful defense for Ferdinand Marcos, so powerful that not even Imelda or her kids could possibly outdo it. It was originally aired, Nov. 3, in Teditorial, a segment in ANC’s The World Tonight.

I had the chance to talk to Teddy Boy some years ago when I was invited to guest at Studio 23’s Points of View where he was one of the hosts. The episode was about Filipino pride, and I was there because of my well-circulated essay, “Who wants to be a Filipino?”  I was glad that Teddy Boy and two other hosts—Cher Calvin, now a multi-awarded TV personality in the US, and Mo Twister—were so gracious. Their forth member, Jessica Zafra, exerted no effort to hide how irritated she was with my views. During commercial breaks, we would casually talk about current issues.

Day before that taping at ABS-CBN, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo delivered her infamous “Bangkang Papel” Sona where she presented kids from Payatas who sent their wishes to Malacañang through paper boats afloat the Pasig River. I told Teddy Boy that the speech was hard sell and smacked of cheap propaganda. With a boyish smile, he replied, “I helped draft that speech.” He said he understands that people would perceive the Sona that way, but added that the “banking papel” story was true. You would think, dear karikna, that my dark skin could not turn red, but I really blushed at that time. How could I have criticized my idol Teddy Locsin’s work and right in his face?

I am a big fan of Teddy Boy. First because of his insights that are incisive, bordering on the uncanny, and, second, because of his crisp English which is a treat to the ears. There are only a few orators I look up to, and Teddy, Ninoy, and Makoy are among them.

I am surprised though that Teddy Boy’s discourse on the former president has not gone viral. After a week in the web, it has only around four thousand hits. Well, not really that bad because the former Makati congressman’s videos has viewers averaging only at around 500. One could not even find a transcript of the video in the Internet so I had to transcribe the material myself.

And here it goes: Continue reading “Teddy’s surprise”

Boy from Currimao tops fisheries exam

This young man makes me proud to be from Ilocos Norte.

Jerick Christian P. Dagdagan, a cum laude graduate of the BS in Fisheries program at the Mariano Marcos State University, landed at the top spot of the Fisheries Technologist Licensure Examination held last month.

It was not easy for Dagdagan. Unable to find a review center (MMSU and CLSU had none due to lack of registrants), he found himself doing self review. He said he just consulted his teachers at the MMSU College of Aquatic Sciences and Applied Technology when there were items he could not understand.

The difficulty is coupled by the fact that he did not immediately review after graduation. He finished his studies in 2010 but, due to financial constraints, opted to work immediately as a fisheries development advocate at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office in San Fernando, April to August.  He would later move to Davao to be assistant manager for technical operations at the Jorona Aquatic Resources and Training Corporation until April this year when he decided to prepare for the board examination.

Eldest of four children of Vicente, a security guard, and Mary Grace, a nurse at the Governor Roque B. Ablan Memorial Hospital, Dagdagan was the typical carefree teenager. In an interview, Dagdagan confessed to your karikna that taking up fisheries was only his last recourse. He would have taken up nursing or chemical engineering but, due to late enrolment, lost a slot in those programs. The reason: he was “nabarkada” and lost track of time. But at CASAT, Jeric did a turnaround. He is described by his teachers as brilliant and determined. He was active in school organizations and was sent to competitions, both academic and cultural. He was also the college’s bet in table tennis.

It is actually a double treat for the family living in Brgy. San Simeon in the coastal town of Currimao as Jerick’s brother Jake Valentin, who graduated last April, also passed the board exam.

The morale of this story: If you want to succeed, pagbabarkada is the key to success. Joke!

Jerick’s story is actually a lesson on the often unappreciated relationship between will and destiny.

But did tourists come?

I ARGUE, dear karikna, that the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office folks are the busiest bees in this part of the world. And I argue further that their queen bee, Governor Imee Marcos is Awesome with a capital A. After the successful staging of the Sineng Pambansa here in Ilocos, they initiated a series of events for Halloween, the most notable being the Parada Iloca-locana held last October 31 in Laoag, from the cemetery down to the centro.

Viewers, including my dad who sits on a wheelchair, were so happy with the event. He was even doing the high five with zombies, white ladies, and elementals. I heard others who saw the event murmur, “First time detoy aya? Nagmayat.” (This is the first time, right?  Beautiful.) Beautiful, however, may seem an inappropriate term, because the parade participants were no doubt at their scariest best. But really, the event is very uplifting. It makes you feel that something good is really happening in Ilocos. Day after that, it was the eerie Tumba Festival’s turn to paint the town black in Paoay.

Did tourists come because of these recent events? No, not yet. But we are definitely moving in the right direction. We must continue to make Ilocos a fun place so guests would be enticed enough to hit the long road up North. There must always be a show to go to, a spectacle to marvel at, an experience to try, and temptations that are impossible to resist.

I am glad there is no stopping. Before I can even congratulate the masterminds, here comes the Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals unfolding next week.