@your SiRVis... Simon Francis Blaise R. Vistro wants to be known as SiRVis (an amalgamation of his name, profession and penchant for service). He is a polymath wannabe in the fields of training and education, civic voluntarism, sports, arts, travel, photography and social networking. Born and raised in Dagupan City, he is a staunch advocate of the preservation of Pangasinan language, arts and culture. Follow me on: Twitter. Facebook, Tumblr, Plurk.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pepeng Stories: SHE-roes

I originally entitled this feature article as Pepeng Stories: SHE-roes. It was published as Pepeng aftermath: stories of her-oism. at the Philippine Online Chronicles.  Why SHE-roes? I wrote this as a tribute to women/female heroes who helped us during Typhoon Pepeng. It's my way of thanking them for the kind selfless act. Read on...

 Pepeng aftermath: stories of her-oism
Who could ever forget what happened from September 26 to October 21, 2009? Not I nor the 9,407,665 other Filipinos who were directly affected by the two tropical cyclones that hit the Philippines one after the other.

Typhoon Ondoy drowned the NCR (National Capital Region) and most of Luzon while Typhoon Pepeng left a trail of destruction and havoc in the northern part of Philippines, particularly Pangasinan. An article entitled Statistically Speaking estimates the damages at more than a thousand deaths and about Php 38 billion (11 billion is attributed to Ondoy and 27 billion to Pepeng), Ondoy and Pepeng have dislodged typhoons Ruping and Rosing as the costliest tropical cyclone in the Philippines. Someone quipped Ondoy and Pepeng were like two highly-paid actors/comedians; the only trouble is they were not acting and they were not funny.

Throw all the statistics away. The actual experience and eyewitness accounts of what actually happened is more glaring than the numbers. In Benguet, a whole family was buried under the rubble caused by a landslide. Cars in Sta. Mesa, Manila swirled in floodwater like sugar cubes in coffee. An aged stroke patient was drenched by the rain for two days while perched in their bungalow’s roof in Mangaldan. In Rosales, a man was seen clinging to a branch a tree as water continuously rose.

It can’t rain all the time and we Filipinos soon found our rainbow. We found it in those countless and sometimes random acts of kindness, bayanihan spirit, heroism, display of unity – seldom seen except in a Manny Pacquiao fight … and a national calamity of this scale. How does one account for the adrenalin rush as hundreds volunteered to help the victims by shelling out their money or otherwise giving of their time and of themselves?

Saying thank you is never too late. As March is recognized as International Women's Month, it is but fitting to feature and honor the women (and their organizations) who helped and comforted us during and after the onslaught of the typhoons. They are worthy of being called heroines.

The Rotary Club of Dagupan East (RCDE) of which I am a member, conducted rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts in Pangasinan for more than two weeks straight last October 2009. These efforts were made possible through the coordination of Chris and Candy Blancaflor and Rex and Marianne Lor who were able to enlist the help of these heroic ladies.

Gang Badoy and Rock Ed Philippines

RCDE, together with Gang Badoy (founder of Rock Ed Philippines) and her members distributed more than 1,000 relief packs in Barangay Lucao, Dagupan City and in the barangay’s island sitio, Sitio Tukok. Gang and her group had to borrow and ride a huge truck as well as brave the long trip and rough roads (major roads were still impassable at that time) in order to go to Dagupan City. Rock Ed Philippines is an alternative education volunteer group which advocates volunteerism, involvement, hope, and a sense of country. Rock Ed is a movement that says: NO MORE EXCUSES, PHILIPPINES! It says this in many forms depending on the degree and shape of the volunteers’ commitment — medical missions, alternative education classes, benefit concerts, workshops and seminars for teacher training, leadership activities for public schools, storytelling sessions, and book drives. Rock Ed works for a more active private citizenry and a more socially-involved generation of Filipinos. Its vision is to end the poverty of hope in the country.

Angel Brigade
Katrina Holigores and the Angel Brigade provided the relief goods and life vests which were distributed to all the barangays of Dagupan City, Barangay Talibaew in Calasiao, and the Dagupan City Disaster Coordinating Council.

The Angel Brigade is a team of volunteers committed to assist victims of calamities and disasters. It was founded by Tisha Cruz-Bautista and Judith Velasco-Roda. According to the brigade’s Facebook account, an Angel Volunteer need not physically work at any Angel Brigade Center, although this is the primary means to earn one’s “angel wings.” Members may help by re-posting and/or re-tweeting calls for assistance, by donating time for coordination work, by lending vehicles and deployment trucks, or by donating goods and services when needed. The “Angel Brigade” name/brand is IPO-registered under the ISDANCO foundation (a non-stock, non-profit entity registered with the SEC).
Moms for Moms
RCDE also distributed the relief packs given by Rea Gomez-Harrow and Moms For Moms in four hospitals in Pangasinan namely: Region 1 Medical Center, Dagupan Villaflor Memorial Hospital both in Dagupan City, Pangasinan Provincial Hospital in San Carlos City, and Bayambang District Hospital in Bayambang. The relief bundle consisted of separate packs for mothers, infants, and toddlers.
Moms For Moms is a group of mothers who have come together with one goal in mind– to help other mothers and babies in their time of need. Rea and Sheila Juan Catilo started this project by donating diapers for the babies of Fabella Hospital and blogging about the needs of Fabella Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive care Unit (NICU). Soon after, support poured in, with more and more moms (and dads too) coming forward to extend their help to other disadvantaged mothers and kids.
What I admire most about these “she-roes” is that they help other people without publicity or self-centered “praise releases.” They help because they want to help — period. You won’t see their names emblazoned in their relief packs, nor see them riding a “kuliglig” (two-wheeled trailer pulled by a two-wheeled tractor similar to a rotary tiller) just for photo ops like some presidential candidates.
These admirable women did not make me forget Ondoy and Pepeng but rather made me remember them more — in a positive way. They reminded me that underneath disaster is a blessing, that sparks of generosity and caring can light up the dark, and that when called upon to be heroes or sheroes, Filipinos don’t disappoint.
Read the full article here: Pepeng aftermath: stories of her-oism

Monday, March 15, 2010

Concert for Baby John Noah

The best Acoustic band in Dagupan City, The Radicals, will be performing at the East Gate Plaza, A.B. Fernandez East, Dagupan City on March 27, 2010 in a Concert for a Cause

This concert is so personal as it is for the benefit of the baby John Noah- son of the band's kahonista, Benjie Mula. Baby John Noah, is a newborn who suffers from Esophageal Atresia, a rare congenital medical condition which affects the alimentary tract. It causes the esophagus to end in a blind-ended pouch rather than connecting normally to the stomach. It occurs in approximately 1 in 4425 live births. Surgery has been done and hospital costs now amount to more than P700,000. 

Ticket prices for the Concert for a Cause are: P50 (General Admission), P150 (Reserved Seats) and P300 (Reserved Seats plus a CD of The Radical's cover performances). As ticket sales may not be enough, pledges and donations are welcome.

The Concert for a Cause is in cooperation with East Gate Plaza, Hall of Fame Bar and Restaurant, PC Cartel and Faces Portraits. Concert starts at 7pm. Tickets are available at the Hall of Fame Bar and Restaurant and PC Cartel.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Meatless Fridays



This is the 2nd article that I have written for the Philippine Online Chronicles and it is all about the practice of most Christians during lent: Meatless Fridays.

Christians are obliged by the Church to do penance and seek forgiveness from sins. A common form of penance is eschewing meat on Fridays. Catholics in particular, are enjoined to observe ‘Meatless Fridays’ as prescribed by the Canon Law not just during the Lenten season but all year round. Many Catholics think that rules of abstinence have since been relaxed: that the meatless prescription applies only for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Wrong! This is what the new Code of Canon Law issued in 1983 says:
‘Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.’
Why meatless?
By abstaining from meat, we are giving up the most pleasant as well as the most nourishing food. As most of us are meat lovers it is a sacrificeto banish meat from our diet. But if we go crazy or sick without meat, then we might go for another form of penance.
Abstinence is not only refraining from eating meat but renouncing other pleasures of the senses as well. The essence here is sacrifice.  The renunciation of something we like very much.  This may be in the form of less TV, less movies, less parties, less cigarettes , less beer,  less sex.  The possibilities are almost endless.
 Read the whole article here: Faultless Fridays ... and meatless, too.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Christopher Gozum: A Hero

Who is this Christopher Gozum I keep raving about? Why do call him a hero? What did he do to deserve such accolade from me? As my first article in the Philippine Online Chronicles, I have chosen to feature him perhaps as a tribute to what he has done and what he continues to do for Pangasinan.

Here are few paragraphs of the feature article...

Heroes are characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice – that is, heroism – for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.

The Philippines is a country of heroes. Heroism, however, shouldn’t be stereotyped or limited to the likes of Lapu Lapu, Rizal, Bonifacio, Melchora Aquino, Sultan Muhammad Kudarat, and Ninoy Aquino. We have many unsung heroes who deserve praise for their acts of sacrifice and heroism -- saving lives, fighting for freedom, morality, principles, and Filipino ideals, overcoming poverty, physical handicaps, and other barriers, reaching out to help others.  We can also draw inspiration from them --  simple folks who made a difference in their own and other people's lives.

We should not forget the heroism of Sajid Bulig, Emilio Advincula, Rona Mahilum, Ma. Fe Sotelo, and just recently Efren PeƱaflorida, Jr. There are countless other little known heroes (most of whom remain nameless and faceless).  Filipinos all. Heroes all!

As a Pangasinense and an advocate for the preservation of culture and arts, I was delighted to discover a different kind of hero right in my province. 

This hero of the arts is Christopher Gozum, a diasporic independent Filipino filmmaker who uses filmmaking to do his share in preserving and saving the Pangasinan language, literature and culture. Most notable among his works is Anacbanua (Child of the Sun), the first full-length movie in Pangasinan. Anacbanua was shot entirely in Pangasinan and based on the Pangasinan anlong (poems) of Santiago Villafania, Melchor Orpilla, and Erwin Fernandez. The movie had its Philippine premiere at the 11th Cinemanila International Film Festival (2009) where it received the Digital Lokal Lino Brocka Grand Prize (Best Film) and Digital Lokal Best Director Award. The movie has also been screened at the 16th Filipino American Cine Festival 2009 in San Francisco and the Stranger Than Cinema section of the 2010 Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea.

Read the full article: C. Gozum: Bagong bayani ng salitang Pangasinan

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