OUTLO O K : T HE 2 017 NATIO NA L B UDG ET & P RESI D EN T D U TERTEâ€™S 10-POIN T SOCIOECON OMI C AGENDA
I s s u e 5 3 , Vo l u m e VI I I
FEBRUARY & MARCH 2017
AT LONG LAST
APULIT ISLAND I MINILOC ISLAND I LAGEN ISLAND
STATE OF THE NATION
INSIGHTS & ANALYSIS
ESSENCE OF PLACE
THE PHILIPPINES AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
THE BEST SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS FOR 2017
EXPLORING THE HISTORY AND BEAUTY OF ILOCOS NORTE
BEAUTIFUL MORNINGS. There’s no other invigorating way to start your day than with a refreshing dip at the Horizon Swimming Pool.
LIMA PARK HOTEL Sweet dreams are made of these Whenever you’re looking for a weekend escape or searching for relaxing accommodations after a day of meetings, come home to any one of Lima Park Hotel’s 136 well-appointed contemporary rooms and suites. Featuring five-star amenities, you may choose to luxuriate in a Superior, Deluxe, Premiere Luxe, Suite, Executive Suite, or the Governor’s Suite. Each guest room features a bathtub in a marble toilet and bath, hot and cold tap water and shower, concealed full-length shoe cabinet, and a double-door reach-in closet. To keep you connected, each guest room is equipped with unlimited Wi-Fi access, cable TV, and an IDD/NDD telephone. Work in comfort at the executive desk. There’s also an electronic safety deposit box, split-type airconditioning, a mini bar, in-room coffee and tea-making facilities. Pampering amenities include bedroom slippers, bath and body kits, fresh towels, hairdryer, kimonos, and crisp linen on double- sized beds. The redesigned 42-sq. m. Executive Suite room gives direct access to the Horizon Pool, or you may choose connecting suites. It has a 32” LED TV, in-room dining and
IN FULL BLOOM. Find pleasure in any one of Lima Park Hotel’s 136 well-appointed luxury guest rooms.
kitchen facilities, and a complimentary mini-bar. The 36 sq. m. Lima Suite takes it a notch higher with a 42” LED TV, Jacuzzi, and rain shower.
Garden Villas abloom Now there’s more reason to visit Lima Park Hotel. Complementing the range of full-service guest rooms are the Garden Villas—a cluster of tastefully designed guest rooms that sits between the Pavilion and the Executive Wing of the main hotel. Done in a soothing palette of subdued oyster grey and calming sea foam blue with hardwood darkstained furniture, each Garden Villa guest room evokes a subdued elegance that provides a quiet escape.
wake up to beautiful mornings that offer breathtaking views of Mt. Makiling and Mt. Malarayat. Before heading out for your day’s activities, we suggest that you take a few laps in the expansive Horizon Pool or a refreshing dip in the two smaller pools. The Hotel has a fully equipped fitness center so you don’t miss out on your daily workout routine. Or why not take a morning spin around the techno park on one of our mountain bikes that you could use, with our compliments. Every stay comes with complimentary breakfast. The Asian Flavours offers delightful Filipino and continental breakfasts. You may take it outside by the pool area where you can sip your coffee while catching up on your morning reading fare. Needing a few more minutes in bed? In-room service is just a phone call away. And while you’re out on a tour or conference, we’ll freshen up the rooms, replenish supplies, and care for your laundry. After a full day, you can quiet down at the La Terraza Deck while watching the sky turn from fiery orange to a rich magenta before settling to the deep-set blue of the night. Take a nightcap at the La Terrazza Bar and maybe another dip at the pool. La Terrazza offers pastas, salads, bistekas, and pizza. Or simply indulge yourself in a drink while watching the splash and shooting fountain by the pool surrounded by well-manicured gardens. Thursdays and Fridays are acoustics nights, while you can enjoy unlimited beer during happy hours every day of the week. When you’re ready to call it a night, our turndown service will simply lull you to a good night of blissful sleep. May all your sweet dreams come true. Have a great stay!
From sun up to sundown Whichever room you choose, you will
LITTLE INDULGENCES. The Deck is the perfect place to watch the sun set while sipping your favourite drink.
Lima Park Hotel is a four-star 136-room business and leisure hotel located only 60 minutes away from Makati via the South Luzon Expressway and the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR Tollway). Lima Park Hotel is in Lima Technology Center, Malvar, Batangas with contact numbers: +763 43 981.1555 and +63 917 504 2385. Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.limaparkhotel.com.ph for more information. Like us on Facebook: www.facebok.com/limaparkhotel.
TR AV EL
February & March 2017
40 ON THE COVER El Nido Resorts: At Long Last “There are moments when you discover a new restaurant, bar, or bookstore that perfectly matches your aesthetic. And you can’t decide if you should share it with others or just keep it to yourself. El Nido is boldly one of those places. I can’t help but wish this was my own secret paradise because the nomadic, castaway dream is actually alive and this is where it lives—in the Philippines.” Pages 40-53 AMAZING ESCAPES Lima Park Hotel: Sweet Dreams Are Made of These “Whenever you’re looking for a weekend escape or searching for relaxing accommodations after a day of meetings, come home to any one of Lima Park Hotel’s 136 well-appointed contemporary rooms and suites.” Pages 4-5 GREAT PLACES Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila Sleep Sanctuary in the Metro So, whether you’re in the Metro to work or enjoy a holiday, Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila is the perfect place to stay. Pages 14-15 EXPLORER Ilocos Sur “Bounded with so much from the past and lauded with a colorful history, Ilocos Sur will let you feel at ease, away from the noise and pollution of the cities.” Pages 54-63
THE WEEKENDER Metro Vigan Fiesta Garden Hotel “A place like no other where relaxation and festivity convene Founded by three medical practitioners, the Fiesta Garden originally started as restaurant in 2007 before expanding into a hotel resort in 2014.” Pages 72-75 HOTELS & RESORTS Experience all the sun and fun Crown Regency Hotels and Resorts has to offer this summer. “So, where to go this summer? Well, there’s no need to look far because we have listed the best places to add to your summer bucket list this 2017.” Page 77 DISCOVERY Lake Sebu: A mixture of nature, culture, and adventure It is known for its tranquil charm that draws in someone who is looking for peace and calmness in a place. It lets one gain a sense of contentment because of the authenticity felt by just simply looking at the lake. Pages 78-80 HEALTH & WELLNESS Nurture Wellness Village: Every Balikbayan’s Sanctuary Nurture Wellness Village is a great place for anyone who wants to unwind while learning about holistic wellness and Filipino heritage culture. It is an ideal sanctuary for Pinoys who have just come home after seeing the other side of the world. Pages 16-17
FE ATURES February & March 2017 INVESTING Mr. Softy: Always Fresh, Always Exciting “Mr. Softy’s premium products continue to draw crowds everyday not only because of its delicious, creamy taste, but largely in part to its affordable prices.” Pages 12-13 OUTLOOK State of the Nation: The 2017 National Budget & President Duterte’s 10 Point Socioeconomic Agenda “The 2017 National Budget was strategically crafted in order to make the Philippines not only an attractive economy for both domestic and foreign investors, but more importantly, a serious economy that provides higher incomes, solid jobs, and creates a higher standard of living for all Filipinos. “ Pages 22-24 OUTLOOK State of the Nation: Personal Remittances Reaches US$26.9 Billion in 2016 “Cash remittances from OFs coursed through banks grew by 18.5 percent year-on-year in November 2016 ahead of the holiday season, to reach US$2.2 billion.” Pages 26-27 THE ECONOMY State of the Nation: 2016 Best Countries: Where did the Philippines Rank in 2016? “Of more than one hundred countries that is home to diverse people and culture across the globe, the Philippines is among the best countries to live in, according to a study.” Pages 28-29 BUSINESS Insights & Analysis: Best Small Business Ideas in the Philippines for 2017 “Due to advancement in technology, the internet, and globalization, the future business ideas will be completely different from the conventional business ideas. All these trends and statistics indicate that 2017 will bring new business trends and opportunities for the Filipino people.” Page 32-34 BUSINESS Insights & Analysis: 10 Tips to Balance Work and Personal Relationships “When both partners in a relationship work, it can be difficult to balance love with career. Modern romance often means no one is home to make dinner, and quality time can be hard to find. here are 10 Ways to still find success as a couple while pursuing a career.” Pages 36-38 FASHION People: Joaquin Gregorio and His Foray into Fashion—In the Big Apple “The New York-based Filipino stylist and model agent shares his journey in the industry he is passionate about.” Pages 82-84
PROFILES Culture & Career Read about the fascinating life journeys of five Filipino-American priests who are making inspiring and profound differences in their communities. Pages 86-95
privileges together with the amenities and Nurture Alta Monte Services for a very reasonable price.
SOUTHEAST ASIA’S BEST OF THE BEST RESIDENCES
Country living in the South of the Metro
In 2016, DonTim Development Corporation’s Leisure Suites was recognized as Southeast Asia’s Best of the Best Residences by Dot Property Group, a Digital Media Company that owns and operates 10 property portal websites and complimentary offline media throughout South East Asia.
uiet and rustic: two things most people consider when buying a new home. At Alta Monte, homeowners and guests are welcomed with a modern country scenery.
AN EXPERIENCE OF A MODERN COUNTRYSIDE LIVING
The perfect combination of the rustic charms of Tagaytay and the contemporary structural design transcend conventional residences. The Leisure Suites, a cluster home with six units in one cluster, is the first of its kind in the mountain resort city that provides every homeowner great living spaces complemented with laidback ambiance. Suites vary from 56 square meters (one bedroom) to 123 square meters (three bedrooms). Every unit has a scenic bay window that emanates a cozy feeling. The 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom units have a split level design that resembles to an attic. Located along Magallanes Avenue, Alta Monte offers exclusivity thru its gated com-
munity and boasts wide-ranging amenities such as multipurpose club house, swimming pools, and recreational & sports facilities.
Don Tim Development Corporation has partnered with one of the country’s pioneers in the Philippine spa and wellness industry, Nurture Wellness Village, to top off the perfect Tagaytay staycation experience. With this partnership, homeowners have exclusive access in Nurture’s Gabriela’s Garden Restaurant that serves Filipino comfort meals with a healthy twist, any day. They can also opt for home delivery. Nurture also extends its Spa services to residents who wish to have curative aromatherapy within their own homes. Moreover, homeowners can avail Laundry as well as Housekeeping services.
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
The Leisure Suites boasts accessibility to commercial centers while preserving serene living in a private subdivision. Every unit also comes with big spaces. Good news is one can take advantage of all these lifestyle
“We can’t be happier with the choice we made. It is truly our home away from home. We feel safe and secured 24/7. Alta Monte is very convenient to most restaurants in Tagaytay City, close to markets and grocery stores. We don’t get bored because the casino is just few minutes away and always open. The weather of Tagaytay is a big plus to us because it’s comfortable whole year round. The Clubhouse that can accommodate large party is always available. Wide roads and sidewalks allow us to do our daily walking. Over all…it is a great place to live, friendly neighbors and a great investment!”
- Lei G. Hatfield, Leisure Suite unit owner
For more information, visit www.dontim.com.ph, or like them on Facebook at Don Tim Development Corp. For Inquiries, call +632 8439471 | +63 917 8258435 or email email@example.com.
PUBLISHER & CEO PRESIDENT & CO-PUBLISHER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF VICE PRESIDENT FOR SALES VICE PRESIDENT FOR MARKETING AND SPECIAL EVENTS, PHILIPPINES SENIOR ADVERTISING & ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE EDITOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT WRITERS CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER MULTIMEDIA DEVELOPERS OFFICE MANAGER
ROGER L. ORIEL CORA M. ORIEL RAPHAEL JOHN C. ORIEL SHARON ANN BATHAN-SAN PEDRO VINCE F. SAMSON KIMBERLY DELOS SANTOS
ISSUE 53 / VOLUME VIII
CHRISTINA M. ORIEL
ON THE COVER
GREG TRINIDAD, ROCELLE ANABEZA, KATRINA DELA CRUZ, JAZMINE LABORIANTE
AERIAL VIEW OF MINILOC ISLAND, EL NIDO, PALAWAN, THE PHILIPPINES
CHARISSE NICOLE TRINIDAD, DANA M. SIOSON
Image Courtesy of El Nido Resorts
NOEL TY GODWIN GASACAO, EUGENE DE GUZMAN KRISTINE TAN
GEMMA C. FABRO
ADMIN & FINANCE OFFICER
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Always Fresh, Always Exciting
Buying ice cream is buying happiness. And with Mr. Softy, normal days are always made special and sprinkled with bliss no matter what time of the year.
Taking pride in its cool and sweet soft-serve ice cream treats, Mr. Softy started as a small family business in the Philippines back in 2000. Having worked formerly as sales manager at an ice cream company, Victorino “Vic” Isidro Perea was very familiar with the ins and outs of the business—making him an expert in the delectables. “After working with an ice cream company, I brought home with me an ice cream maker,” he recalled. “And from there is how we started our own ice cream business.” Friends, family, and his neighbors would request Vic to satisfy their cravings and create all sorts of ice cream flavors and combinations. As a result of this, Vic became inspired to pursue ice cream production. During those days, it became so popular that his family decided to turn it into a real business. In the same year, Vic’s family rented out a two square meter space at the nearby public market of Sta. Elena in Marikina for P9,000. Starting off with five flavors in rotation from a single machine. Vic didn’t expect to draw long queues of people in their first day. “When we started the business, it was not called Mr. Softy yet. Back then, we didn’t have any name yet. We opened our first stall in the market, selling ice cream in cones for just five pesos. We were very surprised because we had lines of customers every day,” he said. Since the stall was located within the rice section, the long lines of people that blocked the stalls of rice vendors complained to them. They initially asked their customers to line up by the pedestrian lane, however for Vic, this too was not fair to the pedestrians. And so, to meet the demands of their faithful customers, the company began opening outlets in other wet markets, taking the first step in expanding their humble business. Their strategic location attracted
market goers with some loose change who wanted to treat their children with ice cream.
A Family Business A year after their business opening, Vic decided to set up a dealership network. The company sold ice cream machines and provided their dealers with a supply of raw materials. They initially grew to a network of 120 outlets in just a span of two years. With the continuous expansion of the company, the family works together in managing the business. Vic’s wife, Dra. Marinella Perea, serves as the Executive Vice President and Treasurer. Vinson, the eldest son is in charge of marketing and sales. Vernon, the second son handles operations. Virgo, the third son is the brain behind new concepts. While the only daughter, Catherine Ann, is responsible for events and new products. Their extraordinary teamwork, partnered with family discipline, enabled Mr. Softy to undergo groundbreaking, tremendous success.
Expansion of Treats Mr. Softy’s premium products continue to draw crowds everyday not only because of its delicious, creamy taste, but largely in part to its affordable prices. “As we all know, Mr. Softy has been around for so many years and still growing. At the core of our business is an ice cream product that is of high quality and yet very much affordable,” Vic said. Mr. Softy offers many varieties of soft-served ice cream in a wafer, Belgian cone or cup, plain or coated with different flavors such as chocolate, strawberry and banana, or a concoction of sprinkled with chocolates and candies. The company sets their standards of high quality through the Bureau of Food and Drugs to ensure their customers and partners that their products are safe for consumption.
GREAT PL ACES
GOLDEN PHOENIX HOTEL MANILA: Sleep Sanctuary in the Metro
pillows or anti-snore pillows. Sounds exciting yet relaxing at the same time, right?
Calm and Sophisticated Interiors Aside from having one of the most spacious rooms in the Metro, you’ll also love their modern minimalist design. The neutral colors in the 281 rooms are truly soothing and conducive to relaxation. The architectural design of the building is also inspired by the movement to convey simplicity and elegance.
Business Meets Leisure Golden Phoenix Hotel is located near convention venues and local attractions. As a matter fact, it’s a walking distance going to Mall of Asia? Yes, the hotel is just less than a kilometer from the SM Mall of Asia Complex and also less than 6 km from the World Trade Center, Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the international airport. So, whether you’re in the Metro to work or enjoy a holiday, Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila is the perfect place to stay.
prosperity. Moreover, the color gold is a classical symbol of elegance and sophistication. A project of the Zhongfa Development, Inc., the hotel also has its first property, Golden Phoenix Hotel Boracay, which is the go-to-hotel of travelers who truly seek the luxury of sleep. What’s the best reward after a frenetic day at work, stressful traffic jam and other daily life hassle? It’s no other... than a good night’s sleep! With the demands of daily activities in the Metro, it may be hard to find a place where your can get a good one. But, here’s good news. Balikbayan Magazine discovered a new haven to enjoy a holistic rest experience. Opened in March 2015, Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila is a city hotel that offers a whole new world of distinctive experience for corporate guests and leisure tourists. It was named after the highly revered Chinese mythological creature, the Phoenix, which symbolizes hope and
The Science and Art of Sleep As you lie down on your bed, you’ll surely feel utmost comfort with unrivaled support and easy movement. Now you can sleep well and gain back energy from sleepless nights. Wonderin’ how this is possible? Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila has chiropractic beds that ensures guests are refueled and ready to take on tomorrow. Anytime this year, Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila will be launching their “Sleep Floor” in partnership with one of the foremost Sleep organizations in the Philippines. Aside from chiropractic beds, rooms in the Sleep Floor have blend of relaxing essential oils in the air, sleep kits, and lullaby
Call us now at 683 - 2888 loc. 1036 or send an e-mail to rsvnsales.goldenphoenixhotels@ gmail.com for a discounted rate!
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Nurture Wellness Village: Every Balikbayan’s Sanctuary
nown as one of the best hotels and spas in Tagaytay, Nurture Wellness Village is a champion when it comes to wellness, relaxation, and culture. It remains a favorite among balikbayans who want to unwind and spend quality time with family and friends, while having a glimpse of the rich Filipino culture. Nurture Wellness Village had a humble beginning. On October 2002, it was originally established as Nurture Tropical Spa and Café. It became well-known for offering high-quality spa services and serving good food. As more people fell in love with it, Nurture was also able to grow until it expanded into a full-fledged hotel and spa. It was all possible through the passion and hard work of its owners Mike and Cathy Turvill. Mike is a British national who holds a Doctor in Organic Chemistry from the University of Nottingham in UK, while Cathy, a Filipina, is an internationally licensed therapist (CIBTAK, UK) and a Certified Wellness Specialist in the USA. Currently, Nurture Wellness Village offers a wide array of accommodations. Among them are Ifugao Spa Suites, Superior Garden View Rooms, Deluxe Forest View Rooms, and Family Rooms. Each room is clean and well-maintained, so guests can expect maximum comfort throughout
their stay. It is also known for its Glamping (glamorous camping) activities, which are ideal for those who want to experience camping minus the hassle. During a glamping experience, guests are provided with tents, clean and comfy linens, and electric fans. Bon fires and common toilet and bath, with toilet amenities, are also available at the camp site. Guests may also enjoy playing traditional Filipino games as part of their activities. Indeed, it is a perfect bonding experience for balikbayans and their families and barkadas. Lots of people love its spa services, including massages like Nilaib (Filipino version of stone massage) where they use hot sand pouches wrapped in banana leaves, Hilot Kagalingan (fusion of Asian therapies to prevent and cure common ailments), Dagdagay Foot Massage (authentic Filipino tribal foot massage), and Lunas ni Nanay (hilot with ventosa). It also offers other services like Algotherm Treatments, Luxurious Facials, and Tropical Body Treatments. Detoxification and holistic weight loss programs are also available here. You may choose from a variety of packages, including Detox Sampler, Holistic Healing, Weight Loss, Liver/Gall Bladder and Kidney Flush, Total Detox, Stress Buster, Anti-Ageing, and Glowing Beauty. Developed by a licensed
practitioner who has been practicing for almost two decades now, these programs also include a computerized health scan, spa services, wellness coaching, healthy food preparation, organic gardening activities, food, and accommodation. Holistic health services are also available. These include Enema, Charcoal Whole Body Wrap with Biomat, Pyroenergen, Biomat Therapy, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) Therapy, Charcoal Body Wrap, Suob or Steam Bath, Hyperthermia Bath, and Acupuncture. For a complete wellness experience, Nurture Wellness Village also serves its guests delicious and healthy meals through its inhouse restaurant called Gabriela. Deemed as one of the best restaurants in Tagaytay, it uses ingredients that are sourced from Nurture’s very own gardens and organic farm. Therefore, freshness is guaranteed in every bite. Eager to take guests’ dining experience to a whole new level without compromising their health, Gabriela Restaurant, serves famous Filipino dishes that are prepared in a healthier manner. For example, fat is skimmed from the Bulalo, making it guilt-free, or using chicken for Kare-Kare dish instead of beef. The restaurant also offers a full spectrum of healthy cuisine, including raw food, salads, blended fruit and vegetable juices, to pure vegetable juices. Gabriela has also chosen Kale as its signature product. Abundant in Nurture’s organic farm, Kale is also rich in Vitamin K, A, and C. It is incorporated with the restaurant’s signature drinks like Kale Pinapple, a detoxifying juice that is good for managing blood pressure and weight loss which are truly unique and healthy. With all these, it can be said that Nurture Wellness Village is a great place for anyone who wants to unwind while learning about holistic wellness and Filipino heritage culture. It is an ideal sanctuary for Pinoys who have just come home after seeing the other side of the world. Nurture Wellness Village is located at Pulong Sagingan, Barangay Maitim II West Cavite, Tagaytay. For hotel and spa bookings and inquiries, feel free to call Nurture Wellness Village at +639176878873, +639188888772, +6324019030, +6327109786, or +63465126273. You may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nurturewellness.com.
KEEPING A JOURNAL
BALIKBAYAN MAGAZINE TURNS 8
Now serving Filipinos in 60 Countries and over 100 cities worldwide.
When Roger and Cora Oriel, publishers of the Asian Journal newspapers began publishing Balikbayan Magazine in 2009, it was like coming home after years of living abroad. “There was a sense of nostalgia and that is one of the reasons why we wanted to come up with Balikbayan earlier, we wanted to share to the millions of overseas Filipinos the beauty of the Philippines, it was our love letter to the old country,” said Roger. Indeed, and it became an unofficial slogan of the magazine and the people behind it—Love of country is back in style. Balikbayan is the vessel to which the good, inspiring, and extraordinary stories about the Philippines is shared. From the beautiful landscapes of the country’s numerous travel destinations to the delectable and mouth-watering Filipino cuisine to the rich and colorful
history and culture of the Philippines— all of which are preserved on the pages of this bi-monthly publication which is now 60 countries and over 100 cities worldwide. It has also become an outlet for local corporations and businesses who want to connect with the global Filipino market.Thousands of free copies of Balikbayan are distributed to Filipino communities all over the world. In the Philippines, the magazine is available for purchase in major bookstores such as Fully Booked and National Bookstores, restaurants, and coffee shops. Balikbayan Magazine also partnered with Duty Free Philippines, the Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and other agencies to promote investment, retirement, and travel in the Philippines. Our team of writers and photogra-
phers have visited numerous spots in the country, from the best-sellers and constant winners of Best Island awards—whether it’s by Conde Nast or Travel and Leisure–like Cebu, Palawan, and Boracay to the emerging destinations such as Malapascua Island, Huma Island, Balesin, Batanes, and this new issue, El Nido. And these are just a few of the islands Balikbayan has highlighted on its pages, there’s a thousand more, and that is what’s in store for the upcoming issues. “We remain steadfast in our goal to help promote our country as a top destination not only for tourists, but for second- and third-generation Filipinos across the globe as well, along with every single one of the more than ten million overseas Filipinos that belong to the diaspora who are looking forward to coming home soon,” Mr. Oriel said.
GERMANY NORWAY BERLIN AUS OSLO FRANCE SWITZERLAND THE HAGUE HUN BERNE, GENEVA THE NORWAY NETHERLANDS OSLO ITALY PORTUGAL SPAIN PO G THE HAGUE LISBON MADRID ENGLAND BELGUIM CZEC NORW THE LONDON BRUSSELS GERMANY OSL NETHERLANDS THE VATICAN PARIS
LOS ANGELES, CA
YORK, NEW YORKCANADA
GUAM SAN AGANA, FRANCISCO, CA
LOS ANGELES, CA
WASHINGTON, DC CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
AGANA, LOS GUAM ANGELES, CA
YORK, NEW SANYORK FRANCISCO, CA
T AUS HAGUE WARSAW THE POLANDPARIS ROME FRANCE THE CZECH REPUBLIC PRAGUE SWITZERLAND MILAN NETHERLAND BERNE, GENEVA HU
AUSTRIA ENGLAND BELGUIM ITALY FRANCE PORTUGALVIENNA SPAIN LIBYA LONDON BRUSSELS SWITZERLAND LISBON MADRID GERMA TRIPOL HUNGARY BUDAPEST BERNE, GENEVA BERL ITALY
LIBY JORDAN AMMAN
THE VATICAN PARIS ANKARA FRANCE TURKEY SYRIA DA ROME SWITZERL BERNE, GENEV MILAN BEIRUT LEBANON IRAQ
ISRAEL TEL-AVIV LISBON MADRID
YORK, NEW YORK
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
TRIPO THE VA MANAMA BAHR ROME NIGERIA DOH EGYPT ABUJA MILAN ISL CAIRO
SAUDI ARABIA JEDDAH
MEXICO MEXICO CITY
SOUTH AFRICA ARGENTINA
60 COUNTRIES. OVER 100 CITIES WORLDWIDE.
THATâ€™S INTERNATIONAL. In partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Balikbayan Magazine is now distributed at 101 local and foreign Philippine embassies, consulates, offices, and outposts to compliment our existing distribution channels such as bookstores, hotel and resort rooms, hospitals, banks, clinics, restaurants, shops, travel agencies, events, and subscriptions. 14
H REPUBLIC PRAGUE
EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA
TURKEY ANKARA SYRIA DAMASCUS OLAND WARSAW GREECE ATHENS CH REPUBLIC PRAGUE WAY BEIRUT LEBANON IRAQ BAGHDAD LO RUSSIA MOSCOW TEL-AVIV STRIA ISRAEL KUWAIT VIENNA JORDAN AMMAN IRAN DS UNGARY BUDAPEST TEHRAN MANAMA BAHRAIN PAKISTAN POLAND WARSAW ANKARA DOHA QATAR EGYPT TURKEY A DAMASCUSUAE CZECH REPUBLIC PRAGUE SYRIAISLAMABAD CAIRO DUBAI GREECE ANY LI INATHENS SAUDI ABU DHABI BEIRUT AUSTRIA LEBANON ARABIAIRAQ BAGHDAD VIENNA TEL-AVIV ISRAEL MASCUS LAND JEDDAH OMAN INDIA KUWAIT HUNGARY BUDAPEST VA JORDAN AMMAN MUSCATIRAN NEW DELHI RIYADH TURKEY ANKARA TEHRAN QITALY BAGHDAD MANAMA BAHRAIN SYRIA DAMASCUS PAKISTAN CHINA GREECE DOHA QATAR EGYPT KUWAIT YA ATHENS ISLAMABAD UAE CAIRO IRAN BEIRUT LEBANON IRAQ BAGHDADDUBAI OLI ATICAN TEHRAN SAUDI ABU DHABI RAIN ISRAEL TEL-AVIV PAKISTAN ARABIA KUWAIT HA QATAR JORDAN AMMAN IRAN LAMABAD UAE OMAN BANGLADESH INDIA DUBAIJEDDAH LIBYA OMAN TRIPOLI MUSCAT
LAOS VIENTIANE MYANMAR SOUTH CHINA YANGON KOREA THAILAND
MANADO KUALA LUMPUR
CHONGQING HONG KONG
EAST TIMOR DILI-EAST TIMOR
MYANMAR LAOS VIENTIANE MALAYSIA
THAILAND SINGAPORE BANGKOK
PAPUA NEW GUINEA GUANGZHOU PORT MORSEBY MACAU
INDONESIA PHNOM PENH BRUNEI JAKARTA KUALA LUMPUR MANADOMALAYSIA
SINGAPORE GUANGZHOU THAILAND VIETNAM
NEW DELHI BRUNEI
CAMBODIA PHILIPPINES DHAKA
KUALA LUMPUR BEIJING
CAMBODIA PHNOM PENH XIAMEN BANGLADESH
SOUTH KOREA TOKYO
TEHRAN DHAKA MUSCAT NEW DELHI RIYADH MANAMA BAHRAIN PAKISTAN ABUKENYA DHABI DOHA QATAR EGYPT NAIROBI MYANMAR LAOS VIENTIANE ISLAMABAD UAE CAIRO DUBAI INDIA YANGON SAUDI NEW DELHI ABU DHABI
PAPUA NEW GUINEA EAST TIMOR SYDNEY AUSTRALIA
PORT MORSEBY CANBERRA
SINGAPORE EAST TIMOR PAPUA NEW GUINEA DILI-EAST TIMOR
PORT MORSEBY JAKARTA
INDONESIA EAST TIMOR
PAPUA NEW GUINEA PORT MORSEBY SYDNEY CANBERRA
NEW ZEALAND WELLINGTON
NEW ZEALAND WELLINGTON
SOUTH AFRICA NEW ZEALAND WELLINGTON
NEW ZEALAND WELLINGTON
STATE OF THE NATION
The 2017 National Budget & President Duterte’s 10 Point Socioeconomic Agenda WRITER RAPHAEL JOHN C. ORIEL
for the construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation of national roads in order to procure the traffic congestion which hopes to drastically improve and spark commerce. An additional 3,102 kilometers of national roads and 26,786 kilometers of bridges will better connect markets and link lagging regions with the leading regions. The Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network (MLIN), which is allocated with Php 31.5 billion for 2017, is a testament to this action. Flood management services are provided with Php 73 billion to construct and maintain 2,055 flood control structures and drainage systems. Project monitoring will be strengthened by geo-tagging major projects to eliminate “ghost projects” and ensure timely execution.
(1) DPWH BUDGET • • • •
With the new year now in full swing and optimism at an all-time high in the Philippines, the 2017 National Budget is now in place as the government and its agencies are all set to take the country to its journey towards real change. The 2017 National Budget, also called the People’s Budget—was created in conjunction with the Duterte Administration’s 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda. The annual budget is highly focused on generating strong, sustained, and inclusive economic growth. Development will not be focused on the stable, wealthy regions, cities, and select wealth elite alone, but rather will strive to fully embrace lagging regions, poor towns, and the poor majority. The predominant forces that continues to restrict economic growth nationwide are poor infrastructure, the high cost of doing business due to inadequate governance, and the uncompetitive and inefficient tax system. As such, the Duterte administrations will look to address these limitations aggressively and with fervor. However, in order to make growth significantly inclusive and transcendent, it will aspire to create as many life changing jobs as possible. The government plans to fully invest in the country’s most significant
asset—its people, especially the growing rise of today’s youth in order to ensure that they become an agile, competent, and healthy workforce in the near and extended future. The 2017 National Budget was strategically crafted in order to make the Philippines not only an attractive economy for both domestic and foreign investors, but more importantly, a serious economy that provides higher incomes, solid jobs, and creates a higher standard of living for all Filipinos.
SPENDING PRIORITIES: (1) INFRASTRUCTURE Total infrastructure spending will exceed Php 850 billion for 2017 (or 5.4% of gross national product (GDP)). The massive allocation will create improved roads, bridges, transportation systems, school buildings, health facilities, and other infrastructure assets. The bulk of infrastructure spending will go to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) with distinct allocations of Php 454.7 billion and Php 46.2 billion. The DPWH is set to spend Php 216.9 billion on road network services, allowing
Total DPWH Budget: P454.7 billion National Road Network Services: P216.9 billion Flood Management Services: P73 billion
The DOTr will utilize its allocation to finance various transport initiatives. The Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) projects are given Php 6.8 billion for the LRT lines 1 and 2 extension projects. In combined total, railway systems are allocated Php 16.3 billion. Airports and navigation facilities will receive Php 6.8 billion. And the port systems will be given Php 1.4 billion.
(2) DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOTR) BUDGET • • • •
Total DOTr Budget: P46.2 billion Railway Systems: P16.3 Airports and Navigation Facilities: P6.8 billion Port Systems: P1.4 billion
INVESTING IN THE COUNTRY’S FUTURE One the top priorities of President Duterte’s Administration is to develop and empower the most important asset of the country, the Filipino people. As such, the Philippines will make enormous investments in education, health, and school welfare. Forty percent of government expenditures will finance social services ranging from education, healthcare, and housing to social protection, land distribution, and
employment. This means that more than Php 1.3 trillion will be spent on programs that will provide safety nets to Filipinos and equip them with the necessary tools to be productive members of society. For 2017, the Department of Education (DepEd) will receive the highest budgetary allocation among all agencies with Php 543.2 billion. This amount will fund the government’s objectives of universal basic education for Filipinos. It will also raise the quality of learning received by Filipinos, especially with the full implementation of the K-12 Program. With increased demands on building up the basic education system, Php 55.1 billion is allotted for the creation and filling up of teaching and non-teaching positions. State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) will receive Php 58.7 billion in order to allow deserving, but impoverished students access to tertiary education. This is on top of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) allocation of Php 18.7 billion that will grant financial assistance, incentives and scholarships to qualified Filipinos. Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will get Php 6.7 billion in order to develop workforce competencies and promote technicalvocational education.
(3) EDUCATION FUNDING •
Department of Education: P543.2 billion • State Universities and Colleges: P58.7 billion • Commission on Higher Education: P18.7 billion • Technical Education and Skills Development Authority: P6.7 billion The government will invest heavily in basic health care. The DOH will be provided with Php 95.3 billion for robust access to safe and effective health care services. Indigent patients will be prioritized as Php 4.0 billion is set aside for financial assistance to poor beneficiaries. Php 18.0 billion is also earmarked for the purchase and allocation of drugs, medicines, and vaccines for distribution to government healthcare facilities, particularly provinces with high levels of poverty incidence rates. In addition, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will receive Php 53.2 billion for social health insurance services, with the aim of 100 percent coverage to all Filipinos nationwide.
(4) HEALTHCARE FUNDING • Department of Health: Php 95.3 billion • Philippine Health Insurance Corporation: Php 53.2 billion The Health Facilities Enhancement Program under the Department of Health is set to spend Php 12.7 billion on infrastructure programs involving barangay health stations, rural health units, public hospitals, drug rehabilitation and treatment facilities. On the other hand, the Department of Education will spend Php 118.8 billion on basic education facilities such as public school buildings, technical vocational laboratories, and sanitation units.
(5) MAJOR HUMAN CAPITAL INFRASTRUCTURE •
Basic Education Facilities (DepEd): Php 118.8 billion • Health Facilities Enhancement Program (DOH): Php 12.7 billion Social protection that empowers the poor and shields them from societal and economic shocks is provided with Php 128.1 billion through the DSWD. The Conditional Cash Transfer Program is allotted Php 78.2 billion to support poverty reduction efforts while increasing human capital investments for beneficiaries. This year, a monthly rice allowance has been added on top of the cash grants. Next, Php 17.9 billion is allocated as social pension for indigent senior citizens, allowing them a monthly stipend of Php 500. KALAHI-CIDDS, an anti-poverty community-driven development program is given Php 10.2 billion. The Sustainable
Livelihood Program is also given Php 9.1 billion to aid Filipinos in micro-enterprise development and employment facilitation. Finally, the Supplemental Feeding Program is given Php 4.4 billion to nourish eligible day-care children.
(6) SOCIAL PROTECTION SERVICES • •
Total DSWD Budget: Php 128.1 billion Conditional Cash Transfer Program : Php 78.2 billion • Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens: Php 17.9 billion • KALAHI-CIDDS: Php 10.2 billion • Sustainable Livelihood Program: Php 9.1 billion • Supplemental Feeding Program: Php 4.4 billion The focus on human capital development will enable our young men and women to develop into an agile, productive, and competent workforce that will boost economic growth in the future.
THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET: PRO-POOR AND PRO-GROWTH The 2017 National Budget is anchored on economic inclusivity. It hopes to facilitate growth in the Philippines which is already one of the fastest growing emerging economies not just in Asia but throughout the World, and unlock the potential of key industries throughout the archipelago. Combined with policies that lower the cost of doing business, such as the tax reform package, and peace and order efforts to ensure safer communities, the 2017 Budget will spur development that will concretely translate to superior quality of life for all Filipinos.
STATE OF THE NATION
Personal Remittances Grow Markedly in November 2016: Year-to-Date Level Reaches US$26.9 Billion
Personal remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs) reached US$2.4 billion in November 2016, rising by 18.4 percent from the year-ago level. This brought the cumulative remittances level for the period January-November 2016 to US$26.9 billion, representing a growth of 5.1 percent year-on-year, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. announced today.1 The increase in personal remittances was driven largely by the 7.8 percent expansion in transfers from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more to reach US$20.9 billion. This made up for the 3.6 percent decline in remittances from sea-based and land-
based workers with work contracts of less than one year totaling US$5.5 billion. Cash remittances from OFs coursed through banks grew by 18.5 percent year-on-year in November 2016 ahead of the holiday season, to reach US$2.2 billion. The top countries that contributed to the increase in total cash remittances during the month were the United States (US), United Arab Emirates (UAE), Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. On a year-to-date basis, remittances in the first eleven months of the year totaled US$24.3 billion. This represents a 5.2 percent increase from the 2015 level. Cumulative cash remittances from land-based workers rose by US$1.4
billion, compensating for the US$0.2 billion decrease in sea-based workersâ€™ remittances amid stiffer competition in the supply of seafarers, particularly from East Asia and Eastern Europe. The improving global economic conditions, particularly in the US, may have contributed to the overall growth in remittances. By country source, the bulk of cash remittances came from the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Japan, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong, and Germany. Combined remittances from these countries accounted for more than 80 percent of the total cash remittances in the first eleven months of 2016.
FOOT NOTE: 1 The BSP started to release data on personal remittances in June 2012. As defined in the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, 6th Edition (BPM6), personal remittances represent the sum of net compensation of employees (i.e., gross earnings of overseas Filipino (OF) workers with work contracts of less than one year, including all sea-based workers, less taxes, social contributions, and transportation and travel expenditures in their host countries), personal transfers (i.e., all current transfers in cash or in kind by OF workers with work contracts of one year or more as well as other household-to-household transfers between Filipinos who have migrated abroad and their families in the Philippines), and capital transfers between households (i.e., the provision of resources for capital formation purposes, such as for construction of residential houses, between resident and non-resident households without anything of economic value being supplied in return). 2 There are some limitations on the remittance data by source. A common practice of remittance centers in various cities abroad is to course remittances through correspondent banks, most of which are located in the U.S. Also remittances coursed through money transfer operators (MTOs) cannot be disaggregated by actual country source and are lodged under the country where the main offices of the MTOs are located, which, in many cases, is in the U.S. Therefore, the U.S. would show up to be the main source of OF remittances because banks attribute the origin of funds to the most immediate source.
SOURCE BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS
WORLD BANK 2017 GDP FORECAST SELECT ECONOMIES AND THE PHILIPPINES (IN %)
World Bank forecasts are frequently updated based on new information and global situations. As a result, the projects above may differ from those contained in other Bank reports, even if basic assessments of countriesâ€™ prospective forecasts do not significantly differ at any given time. SOURCE: JANUARY 2017 GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS *ESTIMATED I **FORECAST
**2018 UNITED STATES
**2019 EUROPEAN UNION
7.0 6.9 6.8
2.6 2.2 1.6
STATE OF THE NATION
Foreign Direct Investments Reach US$6.2 Billion in First Ten Months of 2016 Foreign direct investments (FDI) net inflows reached US$6.2 billion in the first 10 months of 2016. This was 22.2 percent higher than the US$5.1 billion net inflows posted in the same period the previous year.1,2 Nearly two-thirds of FDI net inflows were in the form of availments of debt instruments by local affiliates (intercompany borrowings) which increased by 34.9 percent to US$3.9 billion from US$2.9 billion the previous year. Net equity capital, accounting for 27 percent of FDI net inflows during the period, grew by 9.3 percent to US$1.7 billion. The bulk of gross equity capital investments—emanating largely from Japan, Singapore, the United States, Hong Kong, and Taiwan—was channeled mainly to real estate; manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade; electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply; and human health and social work activities. Meanwhile, reinvestment of earnings declined by 5.2 percent to US$605 million from US$637 million in the previous period. For the month of October, FDI yielded net inflows of US$342 million. Investment inflows continued amid investors’ confidence in the resilience of the economy, backed by sound macroeconomic fundamentals. The FDI level in October, however, was 14.3 percent lower than the US$399 million net inflows posted during the same month in 2015. Net availments of debt instruments amounted to US$225 million, lower by 20.3 percent compared with the US$282 million recorded in October 2015. Net equity capital investments increased by 10.2 percent to US$60 million as gross equity capital placements of US$84 million exceeded withdrawals of US$24 million. Gross equity capital placements came mostly from Germany, Taiwan, the United States, the Netherlands and Cayman Islands. These placements were infused in financial and insurance; manufacturing; real estate; construction; and accommodation and food service activities. Reinvestment of earnings totaled US$57 million during the month.
01. Based on the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, 6th edition (BPM6) which uses the asset and liability principle in the compilation of FDI statistics. Under the asset and liability principle, claims of non-resident direct investment enterprises from resident direct investors are presented as reverse investment under net incurrence of liabilities/non-residents’ investments in the Philippines (previously presented in the Balance of Payments Manual, 5th edition (BPM5) as negative entry under assets/residents’ investments abroad). Conversely, claims of resident direct investment enterprises from foreign direct investors are presented as reverse investment under net acquisition of financial assets/residents’ investments abroad (previously presented as negative entry under liabilities/non-residents’ investments in the Philippines).
02. BSP statistics on FDI covers actual investment inflows, which could be in the form of equity capital, reinvestment of earnings, and borrowings between affiliates. In contrast to investment data from other government sources, the BSP’s FDI data include investments where ownership by the foreign enterprise is at least 10 percent. Meanwhile, FDI data of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) do not make use of the 10 percent threshold and include borrowings from foreign sources that are non-affiliates of the domestic company. Furthermore, the BSP’s FDI data are presented in net terms (i.e., equity capital placements less withdrawals), while the IPAs’ FDI do not account for equity withdrawals.
SOURCE BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS
2017 INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT INDEX SELECT DEVELOPING ECONOMIES IN ASIA PACIFIC
OVERALL IDI SCORE
5-YEAR TREND (%)
ECONOMY / COUNTRY
SOURCE: THE INCLUSIVE GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2017, WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ***SLOWLY RECEDING STABLE SLOWLY ADVANCING
The World Economic Forum’s Inclusive Growth and Economic Report 2017 tracks an economy’s progress in achieving inclusive growth. The latest report adds a new set of national key performance indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, labor productivity, income, employment, poverty rate and life expectancy, among others. The indicators are then compiled to form a composite Inclusive Development Index (IDI). Of the 109 economies listed in the IDI, 79 are classified as developing, with the Philippines placed in the 40th spot in this group. The report noted that while the Philippines’ GDP per capita and labor productivity are growing, poverty, and wealth inequality levels remain significantly high. IDI scores are on a scale of 1-7, with 7 being the best. Trend ratings are based on the percentage change in an economy’s score between 2011 and 2015, using indicators available during those years.
STATE OF THE NATION
2016 BEST COUNTRIES: The Philippines stands at the 33rd spot “The land of beautiful beaches and abundant biodiversity has long been plagued by political instability, but its resilient economy continues to improve and push ahead of others in the region.” —The Philippines, as described by Best Countries Of more than one hundred countries that is home to diverse people and culture across the globe, the Philippines is among the best countries to live in, according to a study. Based on a research conducted by the U.S. News & World Report, together with BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Philippines ranked 33rd in its overall Best Countries in 2016 list. According to U.S. News, the Best Countries is “a rankings, news and analysis project created to capture how countries are perceived on a global scale.” With more than 16,000 global citizens as poll respondents, countries were measured based on attributes grouped into the following categories: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power and Quality of Life.
ADVENTURE In the Adventure category, countries were ranked based on how it could “fulfill your wanderlust.” The Philippines ranked 17th overall in this category—scoring 2.7 in Fun, 5.7 in Scenic, 5.3 in Pleasant climate, 5.1 in Friendly, and 2.2 in Sexy. The top five countries in this category include Brazil, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and New Zealand.
CITIZENSHIP Meanwhile, “progressive, inclusive countries brimming with social capital” were ranked in the Citizenship category. The Philippines ranked 38th and with the following scores: 0.5 in Respects property rights, 0.4 in Progressive, 0.3 in Trustworthy, 1 in Gender equality, 0.1 in Well-distributed political power, 0.7 in Cares about the environment, 0.6 in Cares about human rights, and 1.8 in Religious freedom. Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, and Australia are the best countries in this category.
CULTURAL INFLUENCE The Philippines ranked as 38th in this list of countries that are “cutting-edge centers of art, entertainment and fashion,” with the scores of: 0.3 in Prestigious, 2.2 Culturally
significant in terms of entertainment, 0.4 in Fashionable, 0.5 in Trendy, 0.2 in Modern, 0.8 in Has an influential culture, and 2.7 in Happy. Topping in this list were France, Italy, United States, Spain, and United Kingdom.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP “Innovation flourishes” and “enterprising citizens have a startup mentality” in the countries included in this list. In the Entrepreneurship category, the Philippines ranked as 33rd and scored 1.8 in Provides easy access to capital, 0.3 in Well-developed infrastructure, 0.3 in Transparent business practices, 0.5 in Educated population, 2.3 in Skilled labor force, 1.2 in Entrepreneurial, 2.1 in Connected to the rest of the world, 0.5 Innovative, 0.5 in Technological expertise, and 0.2 in Well-developed legal framework. The top five are Germany, Japan, United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.
HERITAGE In the Heritage category, countries are ranked based on its “deep vein of history.” Ranking as 40th, the Philippines scored 2.4 in Culturally accessible, 1.6 in Many cultural attractions, 0.8 in Has a rich history, and 1.8 in Has great food. The best five countries are Italy, Greece, Spain, France, and Mexico.
MOVERS “Up-and-coming economies” were ranked in this category, with the Philippines as 23rd overall. The Philippines scored 3.9 in Distinctive, 6.6 in Different, 3.5 in Unique, and 1 in Dynamic. Dominating this list are India, Singapore, China, Thailand, and Japan.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS This list ranks the “top market-oriented countries” that are “haven for capitalists and corporations.” The Philippines scored 6.6 in Corrupt, 3.4 in Favorable tax environment, 1.5 in Bureaucratic, 0.4 in Transparent government practices, 9.4 in Cheap manufacturing costs—ranking 16th overall. Best countries in this category include Luxembourg, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, and Panama
POWER A country’s power to “project their influence on the world stage” are measured in
this category. Ranking as 50th, the Philippine obtained the following scores: 0.4 in Strong military, 0.3 in Strong international alliances, 0.4 in Economically influential, 0.2 in Politically influential, and 0.3 in A leader. Conquering the top spot are United States, Russia, China, Germany, and United Kingdom.
QUALITY OF LIFE The Quality of Life category lists the best countries that “treat their citizens well.” The Philippines fared well in this category, ranking as 27th with the scores in the following attributes: 0.3 in Economically stable, 1.3 in A good job market, 9.5 in Affordable, 0.6 in Safe, 0.5 in Politically stable, 2.4 in Family friendly, 0.4 in Well-developed public education system, 0.3 in Well-developed public health system, and 0.5 in Income equality. Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, and Netherlands topped the category. Furthermore, the Philippines was also recognized as the 33rd in Best Countries to Headquarter a Corporation, Best Countries to Study Abroad, and Best Countries for Raising Kids. The Philippines also ranked 47th in Most Transparent Countries; 25th in Best Countries to Travel Alone; 41st in Best Countries for Women; 18th in Best Countries to Invest in; and 3rd in Best Countries to Start a Business. Overall, the Best Countries has 60 nations in list, topped by Germany, the “most populous nation in the European Union” that “possesses one of the largest economies in the world and has seen its role in the international community grow steadily since reunification.” It was followed by Canada, a “high-tech industrial society with a high standard of living,” and United Kingdom, a “highly developed nation that exerts considerable economic, political, scientific and cultural influence internationally.” According to the U.S. News, the 60 countries in the 2016 Best Countries rankings are the only countries whose achievements reached the following benchmarks: • The United Nation’s top 100 countries in terms of 2013 gross domestic product; • The World Bank’s top 100 countries in terms of 2012 international tourist arrivals; • The top 100 countries in terms of foreign direct investment inflows from the United Nation’s 2013 World Investment Report; and • The top 150 countries of the United Nation’s 2014 Human Development Index.
OVERALL BEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD THE 2016 RANKINGS
Thinking about moving? Here are some of the best countries in the World based on US Newsâ€™ rankings, news, and analysis project which was created to capture how countries are perceived on a global scale. The rankings evaluate 60 countries across 24 rankings drawn from a survey of more than 16,000 global citizens measuring 75 dimensions that have the potential to drive trade, travel, investment, and directly affect national economies.
1 GERMANY 2 CANADA 3 UNITED KINGDOM 4 UNITED STATES 5 SWEDEN 6 AUSTRALIA 7 JAPAN 8 FRANCE 9 NETHERLANDS 10 DENMARK 11 NEW ZEALAND 12 AUSTRIA 13 ITALY 14 LUXEMBOURG 15 SINGAPORE 16 SPAIN 17 CHINA 18 IRELAND 19 SOUTH KOREA 20 BRAZIL 21 THAILAND 22 INDIA 23 PORTUGAL 24 RUSSIA 25 ISRAEL 26 GREECE 27 MEXICO 28 MALAYSIA 29 SAUDI ARABIA 30 TURKEY
SOURCE: US NEWS
31 SOUTH AFRICA 32 VETNAM 33 PHILIPPINES 34 PERU 35 MOROCCO 36 COSTA RICA 37 PANAMA 38 CZECH REPUBLIC 39 EGYPT 40 ARGENTINA 41 SRI LANKA 42 INDONESIA 43 CHILE 44 HUNGARY 45 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 46 URUGUAY 47 TUNISIA 48 BULGARIA 49 COLOMBIA 50 ROMANIA 51 JORDAN 52 GUATEMALA 53 AZERBAIJAN 54 BOLIVIA 55 KAZAKHSTAN 56 PAKISTAN 57 NIGERIA 58 IRAN 59 UKRAINE 60 ALGERIA BALIKBAYANMAGAZINE.COM
INSIGHTS & ANALYSIS
Best Small Business Ideas in the Philippines for 2017 WRITER CHARISSE NICOLE TRINIDAD
After Japan and Mexico, the Philippines is the 12th most populated country in the world. According to the census of 2015, the Filipino population was more than 100 million with 1.72% annual growth rate. This statistics indicates that the population of the Philippines will increase in the upcoming next years. Furthermore, the future business trends are going to change in the upcoming years. Due to advancement in technology, the internet, and globalization, the future business ideas will be completely different from the conventional business ideas. All these trends and statistics indicate that 2017 will bring new business trends and opportunities for the Filipino people. In short, if you are planning to start a new business in the Philippines, then 2017 might be a lucky year for you. All you need is to go through the following list of business ideas in the Philippines and choose the right idea according to your skills, experience and investment you have right now.
Social Media Management Approximately, 50% of the world population is regularly using social networks right now. After the success of social community platforms, these websites have emerged as a new social media tool to spread information in all over the world. Today on social media, people not only connect with their friends and family, they also read, respond and share latest trends with their friends and followers. Due to the high engagement of people with social media, these platforms have become the major marketing channels for advertisers, marketers, bloggers and startup companies to reach out the right audience. Almost every business tries its best to increase its social media presence in order to increase the leads, sales, and ultimately revenues. For this purpose, they usually hire social media managers to manage their only campaigns. If you are addicted to social media and have the good extrovert ability then why donâ€™t turn this habit into a full fledge
part-time business. You can become a lifestyle entrepreneur. All you need is to get projects from freelancing websites and start making money today.
Starting a Freelance Business Freelancing is becoming one of the most profitable small business ideas for students in the Philippines. If you have skills such as an article and academic writing, photography, graphic designing or programming, you can make hundreds of dollars by just selling your services online. To start this business, you will just need a laptop and broadband internet connection.
Resume Writing Business The population of Philippine is increasing day by day. Along with this trend, the inflation rate has been increased up to 2.5% in November 2016. To cope with this situation, people needs high paying jobs in the Philippines. If you have good skills and experience in resume writing then you can make a
become a pro in SEO. Once you will be an expert, start your own SEO Company to get freedom from traditional 9 to 5 job.
Starting a YouTube Channel After Google, YouTube is the second most visited website in all over the world. Every day, people make hundreds of millions of searches on YouTube to watch videos. You can also start your own YouTube Channel and earn money from video advertisements. All you need is to choose a specific niche and upload unique videos on YouTube. More you will get hits, views, likes and subscribers, more you will earn. All of these aforementioned profitable business ideas in the Philippines require small capital to start business. Here are 5 more startup ideas that require little too high investment.
Content Writing Company
lot of money from this part-time business. LinkedIn and freelancing websites will be good platforms for you to get resume writing orders from buyers.
Starting a Blog Starting a blog is a good online business idea in the Philippines. There are several bloggers who are making good side income from blogging. All you need is to choose the profitable blogging niche and get started. To monetize your blog, you can place advertisements, sponsor contents and do affiliate marketing. Initially, you will have to work very hard to generate good amount of traffic from search engines. Once you will get decent traffic on your blog, you will become an internet entrepreneur.
the eMarketer report, eCommerce global retail sales will reach $1.95 Trillion this year. They also predicted that this figure will double by 2020. If you want to start an internet business then this startup idea might be lucky for you. In fact, it is a great opportunity for you, if you start an eCommerce business in the Philippines.
Custom T-Shirt Printing Business From last few years, custom t-shirt printing business is on the horizons. For branding purposes, individuals as well as startup businesses usually outsource t-shirt printing work to people who are supposed to be an expert in it. If you have good know how about how t-shirt printing business works then what are you waiting for? Go and kill the waves.
Online Affiliate Marketing Idea Likewise blogging, affiliate marketing is also lucrative business idea for beginners. It is often seen that people usually connect affiliate marketing with a blog. Having a blog is a plus point but if you donâ€™t have a blog, you can still make money online by sharing referral links on social media. In return, you will get handsome commissions.
E-Commerce Business E-Commerce is a profitable booming business in the Philippines. According to
Offering SEO services We are all living in the age of the internet and technology. From small scale business to large scale organizations, almost every type of business can be found online and everyone is trying to be number one on the search engine results. Now, here comes SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Startup companies often hire SEO experts to optimize their contents so that their websites get good ranking in the search engine pages. If you are a beginner in this field then try your best to
There are hundreds of thousands of websites registered on the internet and they regularly publish unique and fresh articles in order to drive traffic to their websites. If you have good writing skills then offer your services on freelancing websites. Once you will get plenty of orders, make a small writing company, hire writers to get that writing projects done.
Becoming a Translator English and Filipino are two official languages which are widely spoken in the Philippines. Apart from this, there are 13 other languages used in the Philippines. If you have a good grip on multiple languages then you can make good money by offering your translation services.
Rental Services Startup Every year, people migrate to cities for various reasons such as higher education, good jobs or improve their lifestyles. For these purposes, they need rental apartments for short time. If you have your own house then rent it and gets rental income on monthly basis.
Real Estate Consultant / Agent According to the list of Future business ideas 2020, real estate business will boom in the future. If you are a good negotiator and have awesome marketing skills then why donâ€™t jump into the profitable industry? To start this business, maybe you will need to get a governmental license to work in your area.
INSIGHTS & ANALYSIS
AMBITIOUS CAREER GOALS AND YOUR LOVE LIFE: 10 Tips to Balance Work and Personal Relationships
WHEN BOTH PARTNERS IN A RELATIONSHIP WORK, IT CAN BE DIFFICULT TO BALANCE LOVE WITH CAREER. MODERN ROMANCE OFTEN MEANS NO ONE IS HOME TO MAKE DINNER, AND QUALITY TIME CAN BE HARD TO FIND. HERE ARE 10 WAYS TO STILL FIND SUCCESS AS A COUPLE WHILE PURSUING A CAREER.
1. Set boundaries. Whether it’s the time you each leave the office, or how often you work from home, make sure you communicate and set clear expectations about how your careers will bleed into your life. Make a rule that you can’t look at iPhones after 7:00 pm, or that you’ll both work on Sunday afternoons. Career-oriented couples often enjoy working, but setting boundaries allows you to also enjoy each other. 2. Talk finances early and often. The most common argument couples face is around money. So talk now, while things are good, on whether each person is willing to support the other if a job is lost or if a new career direction is fancied. Are you willing to dip into your savings to sup-
port a relocation? How will your lifestyle change if your partner gets a promotion? Decide how you will allocate money at home and for work. 3. Carve time out for each other. It’s important to create regular time to spend together. Maybe you make special moments out of running errands or perhaps you exercise every Saturday together. You can also try scheduling a date night for every Tuesday that can’t be rescheduled. The point is to find quality time together to look forward to. 4. Don’t go to bed angry. An old adage that is meaningful for the success of both your relationship and your career. If you wake up angry, not only did you possibly
lose valuable sleep from the night before, but you also get a negative start to your morning that can affect your productivity throughout the day. Work out your issues before your head hits the pillow for the good of your relationship and your career. 5. Balance sacrifices. If one or both of you want to pursue a high-profile career, it’s almost a guarantee that sacrifices will have to be made for the good of that career. Remember that balance is created over long periods of time. Accept and acknowledge the importance of your partner’s sacrifice to further your career and be willing to do the same for their dreams in the future. 6. Show unconditional support. It can be difficult to show interest in your partner’s SOURCE BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS
INSIGHTS & ANALYSIS
COMMUNICATE OFTEN WITH YOUR PARTNER; SHOW COMPASSION TOWARD THEIR BAD MOODS AND CELEBRATE THEIR GOOD ONES. A SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIP IS OFTEN THE FIRST STEP TOWARD A SUCCESSFUL CAREER. MAKE SURE YOU COMMIT TO THE LONG-GAME.
career after your own long day of work. But it’s important that you’re thoughtful and present in your conversations relating to your partner’s career, and that your support is unconditional toward their work. Without such support, a lack of understanding and resentment can breed in your partner, making it difficult to act as a couple. 7. Love the person, not their title. For the health of your relationship, make sure you’ve fallen in love with your partner as a person, and not with their title or position. In today’s economy, nothing is certain, and compatibility is no longer based on whether or not the other person can take care of you. Instead, know that you can
take care of yourself, and decide if you still want your partner around. 8. Do the decision two-step. The first step to making a decision is you, and the second is your partner. No longer are you operating in life independently, no matter how headstrong your personality. Your decisions now affect each other, and you have to recognize your partner has equal say. Prepare yourself to handle the consequences of the other person’s actions. 9. Share household duties. No one wants to come home to a sink full of dirty dishes. Divvying up household chores is often a sticking point between couples that
escalates into ongoing arguments. Assign clear roles and decide who takes out the trash, who does the dishes, who cooks, and who vacuums. Stick to it, but then don’t be afraid to break out the dish soap when your partner is having a tough week. 10. Forgive and apologize. In a world of career uncertainty, relationships can be a secure foundation and minimizer of stress. Don’t make things more difficult by holding grudges. Communicate often with your partner; show compassion toward their bad moods and celebrate their good ones. A successful relationship is often the first step toward a successful career. Make sure you commit to the long-game.
AT LONG LAST
THE COVER STORY I AT LONG LAST
El Nido Resorts
AT LONG LAST
—EL NIDO RESORTS Preface Escaping the bitter winters of New York in search of paradise in the country that is home. WRITER
Raphael John C. Oriel PHOTOGRAPHERS
Roxanne C. Oriel, MD Neal Joseph, MD
It’s a bright 6AM in the morning—the sun is crisp and blazingly warm. We have arrived in Puerto Princesa, Palawan—ready to embark on a five-hour journey to El Nido—the faraway, remote, and mysterious, yet immaculate destination we’ve profusely googled, read, and heard countless things about from family, friends, colleagues, to features in Conde Nast and the National Geographic. We’ve come to see if this place lives up to the hype or if it’s just another byproduct of hyperbolic marketing strategies that the competitive travel industry has grown accustomed to. Does El Nido deserve to be on a bucket list? Is this place really worth the 24-plus hours of travel time from the East Coast of America? Are the stories true about this hidden paradise? Is this where I can find refuge, solitude, and get re-centered from the current state of my American life? Why did we choose El Nido instead of Bali, Phuket, 42
the Great Barrier Reef, a Mediterranean Cruise, or even the South of France?—This better be worth it. As I hear the giddy pitch and tones of Filipino accents intertwining with Tagalog and foreign tongues ranging from American, Asian, European, and Middle Eastern English, I am hit with the vivid memory and darkness of those cold, blistering winters of New York City. I smile and think—I’m just happy to be back home and f inally bronzing under the Philippine Sun. This must be what my parents feel when they say there’s nothing like going home to the Philippines. Amongst the scores of foreign and local travelers deplaning, we find our driver holding a sign with our names on it. We say to him, “El Nido Resorts?” In a rather adorable yet sinister grin, he smiles at us—as though he knows of a beautiful secret that we are about to be told—that we are about to see and experience something unique.
01 Scenic views like a movie set 02 Waiting at the port to board our boat 03 Dr. Oriel & Dr. Joseph on special travel assignment 04 Morning workout kayaking back to the island after hiking 05 View from our room 06 The swimming pool at Lagen Island 07 The view on the veranda from the water cottage
Two-hours earlier than projected, we arrive at “the White House”—the central location to check-in for the boat rides to the islands. The lush, scenic drive alone sets the stage for the natural wonder that El Nido Resorts is built on. We excitedly get out of our private van— yes—no qualms, no reservations whatsoever. When we booked our package we told El Nido Resorts to give us the full works—give me the full five-star treatment—I don’t care about the costs—I just want to get away. (It’s still considerably cheaper than any other five-star destination on the Planet). We get out of our private van and are escorted to our private boat—an hour long sail over clear, blue, shimmering calm waters to Lagen Island. We see the islands in the distance—a foray of 45 islands that solidify the cove like an army protecting its queen. I think to myself, this is Planet Earth-where am I on BALIKBAYANMAGAZINE.COM
THE COVER STORY I OPEN SECRETS
El Nido Resorts
the world map? As the captain completed our voyage across the lagoon over ancient mangroves unnerved by modern times, he smiled over to us and said, “Welcome to Lagen.” We glaze at the rocky terrain which is nothing short of an ancient geological rendition of a Picasso. The welcome reception by the El Nido Resort staff was the perfect conclusion to the scenic views of mountains, coves, and beaches during our excursion. I close my eyes and try to capture the memory of this welcome—a feeling that is now in the distant past of the once great nation I now live in—as a person of color and the child of immigrants, I’ve never felt this welcomed ever, certainly not in America. It’s certainly good to be home. And so we have arrived with our eyes wide open and jaws involuntarily dropped in Palawan’s second UNESCO-recognised site. This is certainly one of Asia’s most 44
01 Kayaking in Miniloc Island 02 One of the best swimming pools I’ve ever seen and I’ve been many places 03 Great place to write, real, and/or chillax 04 The Lagen Island Rock 05 The view from my room 06 The outdoor spa in Miniloc Island 07 The interior design of the restaurant 08 Rays of sunlight hitting the ocean floor just before dusk settles.
remarkable and exclusive destinations. This is where the Lagen Island resort was built— an island made of limestone that rises above calm waters complemented by a foreground of a fertile, green forest which are undoubtedly thousands of years old. If seclusion, luxury, and natural charm are what you seek—stay at any or try all four of El Nido Resorts’ eco friendly resorts. There is a certain tranquil, undeniable poetry that consumes the senses when traveling to a place that has yet to be overrun by tourists—come and experience El Nido before the proverbial they arrive. There are moments when you discover a new restaurant, bar, or bookstore that perfectly matches your aesthetic. And you can’t decide if you should share it with others or just keep it to yourself. El Nido is boldly one of those places. I can’t help but wish this was my own secret paradise because the nomadic, castaway dream is actually alive and this is where it lives—in the Philippines. BALIKBAYANMAGAZINE.COM
THE COVER STORY I AT LONG LAST
El Nido Resorts
APULIT ISLAND Preface
Apulit Island, located in Taytay, Northern Palawan, offers an idyllic getaway for those in search of an eco-adventure. The sprawling resort is set within a pristine cove with a wide expanse of white-sand beach lined with coconut palm trees. It boasts an unspoiled location and showcases a wealth of wildlife, colorful tropical fishes, and scenic landscapes.
IMAGES COURTESY OF EL NIDO RESORTS 06
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 07
Private dinner setup Facade at dusk Water cottages Kayaking at the West Beach Water cottage interior Isla Blanca View from the restaurant Beach dinner Caving Isla Blanca, perfect for honeymooners and anniversaries View from the cottage veranda Windsurfing Swimming pool Loft water cottage bedroom Aerial view of the resort
THE COVER STORY I AT LONG LAST
El Nido Resorts
LAGEN ISLAND Preface
Nestled between a lush four-hectare forest and a calm lagoon, Lagen Island is sophisticated and private. It attracts the corporate and individual travelers who seek structure and modern facilities. The resort offers a magnificent view of Bacuit Bay and the El Nido sunset. The surrounding forest and the breathtaking limestone cliffs are natural attractions that also serve as sanctuary for diverse variety of birds and mammals. 48
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Private dinner by the pool Cove private dinner Kayaking Lagen Island at night Water cottage veranda Swimming pool and clubhouse Aerial view of the resort Restaurant
IMAGES COURTESY OF EL NIDO RESORTS
THE COVER STORY I AT LONG LAST
El Nido Resorts
MINILOC ISLAND Preface IMAGES COURTESY OF EL NIDO RESORTS
Miniloc Island is a rustic and nature-oriented, friends and family destination. Guest may kayak around the island and discover pockets of white sand beach amidst the limestone cliffs and the enchanting Big and Small Lagoons. At its very doorstop, the long dock where guests are welcomed, guests can snorkel alongside 1.5 meter jacks and hundreds of damsel fish, fusiliers, and other multi-colored tropical fish 01
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09 Cliff cottage facade Deluxe seaview room interior Garden and cliff cottages Aerial view of the resort Water cottages Stand up paddle boarding Beach dinner Water cottage veranda Beach area and water cottages BALIKBAYANMAGAZINE.COM
THE COVER STORY I AT LONG LAST
El Nido Resorts
ACTIVITIES AND DESTINATIONS —EL NIDO RESORTS Preface
A wide range of activities is available to suit every interest and level of experience. Don’t worry if you have never tried any before, as we have guides that are more than happy to go with you or give you a lesson or two.
Lagen island forest trail Snake island sandbar Kayaking at Big Lagoon Sunrise or sunset guided kayak tour Mangrove tour Snorkel at Miniloc House Reef In depth look at the Mangrove Tour Bird watching
IMAGES COURTESY OF EL NIDO RESORTS
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HEALTH & WELLNESS
WRITER DANA M. SIOSON PHOTOGRAPHER NOEL TY
Located in the Ilocos region in Luzon, Ilocos Sur is now regarded as the prime destination to see experience a glimpse of our history. Bounded with so much from the past and lauded with a colorful history, Ilocos Sur will make you feel at ease, away from the noise and pollution of the cities. This destination offers travelers the “vintage” atmosphere that cannot be found anywhere else in the country. With its attractive scenery and nimbus around, Ilocos Sur is ndoubtedly a must see for Balikbayans
CALLE CRISOLOGO, VIGAN
Q U I C K FAC T S ABOUT ILOCOS SUR: • It has 34 municipalities with a total of 761 barangay, bounded on the north by Ilocos Norte and Abra, on the south by La Union; on the east by Benguet and Mountain Province and on the west by the China Sea. • Known for its agricultural based of living producing a wide variety of vegetables, Ilocos Sur is now expanding to more in animal raising, fishes and more to food processing. • From the outgrowing number of crafts and cottage industries like basketry, shell craft, wine and vinegar making, jars and other antiques are the best pasalubong that you can share with.
C A L L E C R I S O L OG O
VIGAN is the ONE Being a World Heritage Site, Vigan was before known as â€œCiudad Fernandina â€œ from 1758 to late 19 th century and is the longest surviving Spanish colonial city until present. This place has so much stories behind despite all the romantic images it provokes.
Back in time at Calle Crisologo Being the capital city of the province, Vigan will provide you the crafted antique atmosphere you will choose not to leave behind. You will surely look for a spot where you can take a sightseeing as you are within in a live flashback. In fact, Vigan, being the most intact Spanish colonial town in Asia, also reflects elements from Filipino, Chinese, European, and Mexican cultures, resulting to a unique landscape parallel to nowhere in Asia. Unique architecture and cobblestone features are truly evident as you walk along the calles of the Mestizo District of the old days.
Baluarte Extravagante If you are a certified animal lover, visiting Baluarte Zoo is a thumbs up for you. This zoo is open for everyone for free. Owned by former Ilocos Sur governor Chavit Singson, Baluarte zoo invites everyone to have the chance to enjoy petting animal, live animal shows and sightseeing of nature as you explore the whole land of the zoo.
Santa Maria Church Navigation
B A L UA R T E E X T R AVAG A N T E
One exciting place you need to visit here in Vigan is the Santa Maria church. A UNESCO World Heritage site that symbolizes the unfading faith in the Catholic religion. One of the four Baroque Churches that are still evident in the country, Santa Maria Church stands on top of a hill overlooking the town. The marvelous church will let your eyes edifice on its surprising two thingamajigs you can see on its facade. Unlike the thirteen more of these, the two was the only in circular shape make it unique and eye catching.
B A N TAY B E L F R Y
Bantay Belfry Built in 1950â€™s, Bantay Belfry is used to be a watch tower that helps in defending the city by alerting the people from outsiderâ€™s attack. Today, the tower is a famous tourist spot because of its striking, panoramic, view of the city. A giant old bell awaits climbers at the peak of the tower and everyone can visit the site for free.
THE RISE OF A NATION
The Vigan Conservation Complex A new museum is soon to open to lengthen your list of places to visit in Vigan. The Vigan Conservation Complex, which symbolizes the peopleâ€™s commitment to conserve their cityâ€™s rich history and heritage, is an interactive museum that will showcase the history of the church, the city, and the old houses of Vigan.
ESSENCE OF PL ACE
OH SO DELICIOSO FOODS OF ILOCOS SUR When we travel, checking the local dishes has been always one of the best part. There’s always something new and fun to try, and the possibilities are always endless. And foods listed below should not missed out once you visit Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Vigan Longganisa A garlicful taste of pork in round pocket skin is what made Vigan longganisa so special. This is best with sinangag and egg during breakfast.
Sinanglao A simple dish made up of boiled cow’s liver, ear, blood, intestine, and even the stomach part, Sinanglao is heavily recommended for people looking for some exotic dishes. It’s soup is very rich in taste
S I N A N G L AO
Vigan Empanada A delicious patty stuffed with grated green papaya, toge or mung bean sprouts, shredded carrots, whole egg and skinless Vigan longganisa. Recommended for eat and run tourists who can eat while roaming around the city.
• BUS: Dominion Bus Lines and Partas can take you to Vigan for only 500-800 pesos. • CAR: It will take you an estimated 8,000 pesos of cost from fuel to toll gates. • AIR: Flights are available from Seair direct from Manila. BALIKBAYANMAGAZINE.COM
PHILIPPINES HOSTS MISS UNIVERSE 2016
MISS UNIVERSE 2016
Showcasing the Historic City of Vigan
The ancestral houses, the cobblestone walkways, the horse-drawn carriages--the City of Vigan is indeed an unparalleled beauty of landscape and culture that seemed to have transported the view of the Hispanic 16th century to the modern times. Last January, select candidates from the 65th Miss Universe beauty pageant had a trip back in time in the one of the Philippines’ most beautiful cities. Twenty ladies representing their own countries arrived in the city of Vigan on January 15 for a pre-pageant activity, receiving a warm welcome from Filipinos and fans. Among the select candidates who explored Vigan includes the Philippines’ very own Miss Universe candidate, Maxine Medina. “I want to share with everyone that we are very loving people and we are
very passionate in what we are doing. I want to share our politeness to everyone, especially with the elderly. I’ve been telling them to use po opo ate or kuya. I know they’ve been learning these and this is the culture I want to share with them.” -- Miss Philippines, Maxine Medina Animal encounter at Baluarte Zoo Miss Universe delegates from Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Guatemala, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, The Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Thailand, Uruguay, United States of America, British Virgin Islands, Venezuela, and Vietnam enjoyed their animal encounter at Baluarte zoo. They were able to pet baby tigers, white lion cubs, Burmese python, among other animals Owned by former Ilocos Sur governor
Chavit Singson, Baluarte is a free-roaming animal sanctuary. The candidates also tried the city’s traditional loom weaving and jar making. “It’s time for us to show the beautiful faces of the Philippines. It’s good for our country, good for the future of our children.” -- Chavit Singson, former Ilocos Sur governor ‘Terno’ Fashion Show Like bright stars in the night sky, the Miss Universe candidates shone while classic Filipino “terno” gowns designed by top Filipino artists from Manila and Ilocos in the evening. Terno, which means “matching” in Spanish, is a traditional Filipina dress usually worn during formal occasions. The six terno worn by candidates from Great Britain, Netherlands, Nicaragua,
PHILIPPINES HOSTS MISS UNIVERSE 2016
Sierra Leone, Slovak Republic and USA were made of Abel Iloco fabric. Abel, “a living tradition of craftsmanship of the Ilocanos” as described by Vigan city mayor Juan Carlo Medina, is a traditional cloth in Ilocos made of yarns of cotton or sagut. The process of weaving abel is intricate and labor-intensive, matching its reputation of durability and beauty. Their gowns were created by Ilocano designers Eroll Reminajes, Danika Damo, Gyan Claude Pasion Ben, Darwin Ramirez, Jan Van Paquing and Rafy Sy respectively. “We’re shedding light on how awesome
this country is, we’re shedding light on how the hospitality here is so wonderful and I think we are promoting this country as a whole. I think that Miss Universe Organization held as American-based company is doing a lot to promote the Philippines and its traditions right now just by being here.” -- Miss USA, Deshauna Barber Greeted by cheering crowd of residents and tourists, the Miss Universe candidates walked gracefully along the historic street of Calle Crisologo. Also among the Manila designers who
crafted the refined Filipino gowns during the fashion show were Joel Acebuche, Albert Andrada, Frederick Berches, Cathy Capistrano, Russ Cuevas, Mike dela Rosa, Jearson Demavivas, Rian Fernandez, Mimi Pimentel, Barge Ramos, Amir Sali, Vince Sityar, and Cherry Veric. The candidates then owned the stage at Plaza Burgos as they showcase the beauty of Philippine-designed ternos. “I’m having an absolutely amazing time. Thank you so much for your hospitality in the Philippines, it’s incredible” -- Miss Great Britain, Jaimee-Lee Faulkner
PHILIPPINES HOSTS MISS UNIVERSE 2016
MISS UNIVERSE 2016
A Roaring Success for the Philippines The ‘most beautiful day in the Universe’ finally arrived in the Philippines, with Miss France Iris Mittenaere crowned Miss Universe 2016. Miss Haiti Raquel Pelissier placed second (first runner up), while Miss Colombia Andrea Tovar clinched the third spot (second runner up). Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo congratulated Mittenaere for winning the most prestigious crown, claiming that her victory is also a triumph for the Philippines. “On behalf of the Filipino people, I congratulate Miss France for bagging the Miss Universe crown from 85 other candidates from around the world. Her win is our success as the host nation,” the tourism chief said. “We join the millions of people watching from more than 190 countries worldwide in celebration over Miss Mittenaere’s success. And we are very proud and grateful that the Philippines became an important
part in her journey to the Miss Universe crown,” Teo added. She is confident all the hard work that went into the staging of the 65th Miss Universe competition in the Philippines will fuel the country’s bid to attract millions of tourists to visit the many different destinations featured over the course of the Miss Universe competition. “The Philippines is the runaway winner in this prestigious international event. Our islands, food, and the biggest smiles of our people are all over the news and social media these past few weeks. The world now knows how beautiful our islands are, how delectable our cuisines are, and how friendly and warm Filipinos are – just ask the Miss Universe candidates themselves,” Teo expounded, recalling the diverse travel itinerary of this year’s candidates had, from Boracay’s party island to the cool highlands of Baguio, to the historical town of Vigan, the colorful tapestry of Mindanao in Davao City, and to the excit-
ing multifaceted Manila. “What you saw during your brief stay— some of the top destinations, festivals, our “balut”, our Bohol Chocolate Hills— these are just a glimpse of what our 7,107 islands can offer. So today, I invite the world, come to the Philippines so you can affirm that when you are with Filipinos, you are with family,” the tourism chief remarked. With the support of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the DOT tapped the support and assistance of other government agencies, along with the pageant organizers and private partners, to deliver what ought to be the “most memorable and beautiful Miss Universe edition ever.” The 65th Miss Universe was made possible with the collective effort of the DOT, the Miss Universe Organization, LCS Group headed by Gov. Chavit Singson & Architect Richelle Singson Michelle, in partnership with Okada Manila, SM Group of Companies, and Solar Entertainment Corporation, its broadcast partner.
WRITER PHOTOGRAPHER MIKAELA AYEERA NOEL N. QUISIDO TY
METRO VIGAN FIESTA GARDEN HOTEL
A place like no other where relaxation and festivity convene
With the ancestral province of Ilocos Sur lined with old-themed houses and architectures that have been existing even before the early 1500s, you might want to look for something that’s distinct from city’s classic atmosphere for a change of pace. Located just a couple of minutes away from the Vigan’s Heritage Village, the Metro Vigan Fiesta Garden Hotel offers guests a bright, modern place to stay. Nevertheless, despite its modish architecture, the hotel reflects Filipino’s culture through its artistic displays.
Festival-inspired The Philippines has been known for its long list of fiestas. In fact, almost all towns in the country has a local festival of its own, reflecting the cheerful nature of Filipinos. Fiesta, which means festivity in Spanish, is an occasion where people gather in gratitude and merriment through food, songs, dance, and other forms of art. With traditional Filipino fiesta-inspired theme, the Fiesta Garden Hotel is painted with pastels of yellow and white colors, radiating a joyful ambiance that unfailingly
lightens up the visitors’ moods. At the same time, all of the hotel rooms were adorned with accented fiesta-themed wooden doors. Each door designs were unique to rest of the rooms. The doors were crafted in Paete, Laguna, a town in the Philippines renowned for its finest carvers, and it continue to entertain visitors by displaying the lively Filipino tradition. The hotel’s spacious but cozy rooms provide the visitors a perfect stay for relaxation, combined with top-notch services from their solicitous staff.
Guests can also cool off with refreshing drinks at the chill bar or splash at their swimming pool surrounded by greenery. Additionally, they also spa services for a complete relaxing vacation.
B AG N E T
P OQ U I - P OQ U I
PAT U PAT
S U M A N S A L AT I K
Delicacies with a twist Just a couple of steps along the garden from the hotel, guests can reach its restaurant building. Founded by three medical practitioners, the Fiesta Garden originally started as restaurant in 2007 before expanding into a hotel resort in 2014. Ever since, the restaurant has been catering fiesta-inspired dishes such as Crispy Pata, Pinakbet and Rice Cakes. Guests can also look forward to their delectable traditional Ilocano dishes such as Bagnet, Poqui-poqui, and Sinanglao--all prepared with a twist. The dining area, with a classic yet elegant interior, gives off warm ambiance that creates the perfect meal setting for couples, friends, and families. At the same time, their friendly staff in tropicalinspired uniforms radiates the hospitality trait that Filipinos were reknowned of. How to get there: From Vigan City proper, head west to Liberation Blvd. towards Jose Singson St. then take the 3rd right to Rizal Ave. and continue to Manila North road.
F O U N D E R S O F T H E H OT E L
Metro Vigan Fiesta Garden Hotel National Highway Guimod Bantay (Metro Vigan), Ilocos Sur email@example.com www.fiestagardenmetrovigan.com.ph +63 77 644 0401 | +63 917 809 8909
impress foreign and local tourists alike. Situated in the heart of the city, Crown Regency Hotel and Towers offers an ideal location and impeccable service suitable for business travelers and tourists alike. Built with the vision of being a one-stop shop destination within a destination, this 4-star property is home to the world-famous Sky Experience Adventure. Meanwhile, not far from the 45-storey hotel tower specifically in Barangay Guadalupe stands Crown Regency Residences Cebu. This hotel is a leisure-friendly and business-friendly hotel that offers a splendid service together with a wide range of facilities provided that will make you complain for nothing during your stay. And just a few kilometers away from mainland Cebu is Mactan Island known for its pristine waters and beautiful white sand beaches. Here lies Crown Regency Suites & Residences, majestically rising on a sprawling 1.5 hectare landscape with its suites and villas, this hotel offers guests extraordinary service that extends worldclass comfort from arrival to departure.
From the white beaches of Boracay to the capital cities, there’s a Crown Regency property to meet your needs and your budget. So, where to go this summer? Well, there’s no need to look far because we have listed the best places to add to your summer bucket list this 2017. BORACAY Voted as the world’s best beach by the Sun Herald, Australia and Harper’s, Boracay is the perfect island getaway, with its warm blue waters, powder-fine white sand, and a palm fringed 4-kilometer beach. This beautiful island getaway is home to four Crown Regency hotel properties. Station 1 – This is considered to be the upscale section of Boracay and where you will find Crown Regency Prince Resort. Located in the coveted Boat Station 1, this hotel may not be beachfront, but it is a perfect escape that offers a tranquil hideaway, it boasts 36 elegantly designed rooms that offer a cozy and comfortable environment. Station 2 - This is the restaurant, shopping, and entertainment heart of Boracay. And speaking of entertainment, Station 2 is where the largest resort in the island sits. A 1.8 hectare property, Crown Regency Resort & Convention Center offers more fun in the sun with the island’s first and only Wave Pool and Wave Rider, flawlessly set amidst
this tropical paradise; 609 elegant units; a 1,200-guest convention center; signature restaurants and all the amenities and services of a world-class facility for the very discerning leisure traveler. This 4-star resort is also home to the longest underwater observation tunnel in the Philippines, the Oceanarium. If you’re seeking an immediate escape, take shelter in Crown Regency Courtyard Resort. This hotel is an extension of the Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center. With 46 finely furnished rooms, experience a refreshingly simple, comfortable, and affordable accommodation. Station 3 - If you want a quiet refuge, Station 3 is probably where you should consider staying. Here you can find a piece of heaven in the form of Crown Regency Beach Resort. Inspired by the airy breeze and quiet surroundings of the island, this beachfront hotel gives you a blissful retreat amid the powdery white sand and crystal blue waters. Warm hues and sunshine patterns adorn its stylish rooms, meanwhile its bar and infinity pool lets you chill out as you watch the sun set on the horizon. With these tropical pleasures, Crown Regency Resort Boracay gives you that great island holiday.
MAKATI Ideally situated at a core location that allows you to join the hustle and bustle of the city, Crown Regency Hotel Makati provides an unmatched satisfaction and comfort at the heart of the region’s most vibrant city. On the rooftop of the hotel is Tops Chill Out Bar where guests can relax, dine on comfort food, and enjoy a drink. DAVAO The hotel’s charming Mediterranean architecture combined with its’ tranquil atmosphere makes Crown Regency Residences Davao an ideal choice to stay. Providing a quiet reprieve from the buzz of the thriving metropolis, the hotel’s villas and rooms are furnished to be the perfect home to meet your needs in the city this summer. This Mediterranean-inspired vintage 3-star hotel is every guest’s gateway to the diverse, colorful and rich cultural heritage of Davao City.
CEBU Hailed as the “Queen City of the South”, Cebu City boasts many attractions that will
– A mixture of nature, culture, and adventure
I clearly remember taking an examination about the Philippines and some of its attractions way back in high school. It was a type of test where we were asked to match a certain tourist spot to its corresponding province. Seeing Lake Sebu and Cebu among the choices, belonging to different columns, my initial instinct was to pair the two because of how they sounded alike. Although I wasn’t really sure with my answer, I still hoped I would get it right. Of course I didn’t. It was only when I started working for the tourism industry that I have somehow explored the different, not-so-popular destinations the Philippines has to offer.
This list includes Lake Sebu. It was only then when I finally discovered where Lake Sebu really is located. Not only did I learn facts about the place, I was also fortunate enough to be given a chance to explore such beauty. Lake Sebu is a first-class municipality in South Cotabato, with a population of approximately a hundred thousand. It is a vast land area bounded by a number of mountains and hills surrounded by lush trees of different kinds and various bodies of water. It serves as a home to several tales of nature, a witness to evolution of culture from one generation to another, and lastly a venue of adventure.
Nature One of the municipality’s major ecotourist destinations is Lake Sebu, having the exact same name as the municipality, with an area of a little over 300 hectares and an elevation of no more than 3,500 feet. It is known for its tranquil charm that draws in someone who is looking for peace and calmness in a place. It lets one gain a sense of contentment because of the authenticity felt by just simply looking at the lake. I have personally experienced these things. Despite the chaos back in the city, I suddenly had this feeling of stillness inside me during my stay in Lake Sebu. I started appreciating the little things more.
PHOTOGRAPHER PAUL QUIAMBAO
WRITER MIKAELA AYEERA N. QUISIDO
way of life is important when wandering to a new place.
It made me see the good in the bad, and let me remember that there are definitely more pleasant things in life than all the struggles being faced. Lake Sebu made me realize that nature will always have its way of getting into you, bringing you back to where you came from, free from all the unwelcomed negativity, and making you feel like you’re finally home again. Culture Another noteworthy experience in Lake Sebu is learning from and actually getting involved in some of the customs and traditions of the T’boli, an indigenous tribe which can be found in various areas of
South Cotabato. This may be done through simply revisiting a traditional home of a T’boli, hearing them play their music on their native instruments, wearing their customary dresses even for just a photo opportunity, eating the dishes they would delightly have on their tables, watching the dream weavers work hard on the T’nalak, a traditional cloth with designs woven based on dreams and the list goes on. These things have given me not just a glimpse, but a total understanding of how rich the T’boli culture is. It made me see the way they live with fresh new eyes, on a different perspective. It also made me realize why immersing oneself in another’s
Adventure The story doesn’t just stop there. Aside from nature and culture combined, Lake Sebu also proudly offers adventure, completing the package of three. A watershed, comprising of seven different waterfalls, came from the outflows of the lake automatically became an attraction because of its natural appeal and sense of thrill. One waterfall is already exciting enough, what more the seven waterfalls you would discover in one area? It offers a variety of activities the visitors can choose from but mainly highlights adventure through a 600-feet high zip line. It was built so that the seven waterfalls can be experienced from up above which is quite similar to flying. It will give you more opportunity of appreciating every bit of the view and boost the excitement to the highest level. It was my first time to try a zip line ever but I willingly rode it, without having any second thoughts and fears at all. True enough, I was able to enjoy the beauty of the seven falls more and instantly fell in love with what my eyes saw. It was both liberating and satisfying at the same time. The trip to Lake Sebu was indeed worth taking and exploring, even though for some it may not even ring a bell. A mixture of nature, culture and adventure, Lake Sebu certainly has its own incomparable charm that makes it a must-visit destination. There will always be some places you visit which will leave a mark on you and I must say, Lake Sebu is definitely one of those.
The beautiful Lake Sebu in its different sides and angles
www.LOVEOFCOUNTRYTOURS.com Curated travel programs in the Philippines designed by Balikbayans for Balikbayans. Available in February 2017. For inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org #loveofcountry
JOA QUIN GREGORIO
and his foray into fashion â€” in the Big Apple The New York-based Filipino stylist and model agent shares his journey in the industry he is passionate about By Malou Liwanag-Bledsoe
Fashion icon Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” In short, the dress you put on can change, but one’s style endures. This is why fashion is more than creating textile to become a dress, gown or suit. It requires a good sense of styling and presentation, choosing the right person to wear it so that people will view it as beautiful — and not just a piece of fabric. Filipino menswear fashion stylist, model agent and senior booker for EMG Talent in New York Joaquin Gregorio knows his fashion no doubt, but most importantly, he takes style seriously. After a short vacation in New York City in 2009, Gregorio shared that he was “enticed” by the city’s energy and the countless opportunities that it had to offer. After a year, he moved to the city for college at the Fashion Institute of Technology and majored in Accessories Design. Although he originally has a business management degree from the De La Salle University in Manila, Gregorio felt that working in fashion is where he belongs. “My initial educational background is business-related, but that didn’t hinder me from pursuing what I want,” he said. “If you’re brave enough to fight for what you want, the possibilities are limitless.” Now, it is common knowledge that making it in the fashion industry — in the Big Apple, no less — is not an easy feat. Still, Gregorio pursued what he loves and managed to be an intern for famed fashion designer, Issey Miyake in 2011. By 2012, he was already contributing photos for the street style section of “W” magazine, as well as other fashion publications. In fact, just shortly after he moved to New York, he was featured in “Vogue UK” as one of the next generation artists to watch out for. From there, he became the Fashion Editor, Stylist and Production Coordinator for I.T Post, I.T. Apparels Ltd.’s official website. I.T, which is based in Hong Kong and New York, is a unique multi-brand business model with a multi-channel approach that caters to well-defined groups of fashion lovers all over the world. Gregorio involvement with I.T honed his skills as stylist and gave him the training he needed in every part of the fashion industry, from model casting, scouting for locations, booking hair and make up artists, paperwork and even billing. He was also able to conduct interview with industry champs such as Peter Copping, Daisuke Obana, Grimes, Terence Koh and Julia Restoin Roitfeld. Furthermore, working as a stylist for I.T Post enabled Gregorio to build strong relationships with labels such as Comme des Garcons, N. Hoolywood, Dior, Opening PHOTOGRAPHS by JOAQUIN GREGORIO BALIKBAYANMAGAZINE.COM
Ceremony, Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester, Thom Brown, as well as various public relation agencies in New York. Apart from styling, Gregorio, as a model agent and senior booker for EMG, he has brought in new clients such as Valentino, Abercrombie, Project Runway, Thaddeus Oneil, Wacoal, Derek Lam, and Calvin Klein to name a few. He has also successfully booked male models for the New York Fashion Week. Overall, one must admit that he has an eye for that certain “oomph” — or as some would say, “X factor” — in a model to have many clients trust him. “It’s all about the personality, attitude and energy of the model,” he explained. “A pretty face can get you far, but at the end of the day, you need to have the right personality, attitude, energy...a certain ‘je ne sais qoi’ to back it up. Admittedly a rebel at heart, Gregorio shared that a corporate, 9 to 5 desk job wasn’t for him. “Fashion iconoclasts like Rei Kawakubo (of Comme de Garcons) inspired me to foray into fashion and to make a living out of being creative and “different,” Gregorio said. And like many others who have dreamed into making it in the industry and work with big named brands and designers, he said it wasn’t easy. For now, he believes he still has a long way to go, in spite of the success he has achieved. The Manhattan-based Gregorio plans to call New York City as his permanent home. “Speaking from experience as a minority, it really is quite hard to break into a very superficial industry,” Gregorio shared and then added,“Luckily, I am pulling through.” PHOTOGRAPHS by I.T. MAGAZINE
FR. ALEX ACLAN:
VICAR FOR CLERGY OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES
“My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. (John 10:27-30) It’s important to think of Jesus’ message — it’s a voice, [there are] lots of voices around us, learn to identify Jesus’ voice amidst all the voices we hear in our lives. A voice comes as personal, warm, it is comforting and it is not cold.” – Fr. Alex Aclan APRIL 17, 2016 At a Sunday’s homily, Fr. Aclan described a memorable experience. Emerenciana, his mom, took him to Baclaran (National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Manila, Philippines), where some 150,000 devotees go. He heard his mom pray for him, on his birthday. When she prayed the rosary, he got affected by that experience and led him do the same and more. He became a priest and occupies one of the higher
leadership ranks in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as its Vicar for Clergy since July 2015. He shared four ways we hear Jesus’ voice. “First, Jesus sings with his disciples.” We know that Jesus spent most of his time in Nazareth and Capernaum in Galilee,towns which spoke Aramaic. While others contend that Jesus not only spoke Aramaic, which favors the truth of Islam, others claim Jesus spoke Hebrew, which favors Christians. Either way, Fr. Aclan would like us to listen — to be still, and to discern the voice of Jesus in our lives. “Second, Jesus’ voice is heard through priests and pastors who preach and who proclaim God’s word.” When Fr. Aclan comforted the family of three-year-old Ethan Esparza, a victim of gang-related killings in the area, Whittier Daily News reported: “Nov. 27, 2006: About 150 people gather at Todd Memorial Chapel in Pomona to grieve for Ethan Esparza’s death and pay respects to his family. His body is tucked in a small, white casket, surrounded by white flowers and photographs. The Rev. Alex Aclan, pastor of St. Madeleine Catholic Church in Pomona, consoles mourners with words of God. ”We leave Ethan in the hands of our Lord,” he says in Spanish during a service.” That day of mourning, Fr. Aclan became the source of comforting words from Jesus to the family. “Third, Jesus’ voice is heard through the bishops and popes of the Church’s hierarchy.” Fr. Aclan asserts that these church leaders become the living voice of Jesus. Notice these words of wisdom from the Holy Father, Pope Francis: “We pastors have to encourage families to grow in faith. This means encouraging frequent confessions, spiritual direction and occasional retreats. It also means encouraging family prayer during the week, since ‘the family that
prays together stays together.’ When visiting our people’s homes, we should gather all the members of the family and briefly pray for one another, placing the family in the Lord’s hands… Why shouldn’t we tell God our troubles and ask him to grant us the healing and help we need to remain faithful?” “Fourth, Jesus’ voice is heard in our conscience, [apply] your judgment as [to] what you are doing is right or wrong.” Fr. Aclan exhorts us to do what is right, to worship on Sunday and to consider, “Sino ang dayuhan?” (Who is the foreigner?) Who should we be honoring — include the foreigners to worship, and to love God as well as loving your neighbor, as yourselves? We should avoid doing what’s wrong, “like showing scorn and not love to others.” One Christmas, he said that a priest shared his mom’s gift, goat kaldereta . “ Goat was given to us last Christmas and the donor said, “When I see the goat, I am reminded of you, Father.” Did the donor mean that goats are weed eaters and that the priest became a “weed eater” in his life, the unnecessary weeds, so the blooms are seen? Same with Jesus, whom God the Father asked to give up His life to redeem us, “we must do, as disciples of Christ, remember who we are, and prepare ourselves the way Jesus did, “to love our neighbors as ourselves,” Fr. Aclan added. “Hounds of Heaven” Fr. Aclan was 12 years old when he first heard God’s calling, in his second year high school in Don Bosco Makati. One summer, their class went on a field trip to a seminary in San Fernando, Pampanga. Curious, he pulled himself away from the group. He stayed to look at the dorm, the study hall, and felt an inner longing: “I want to be here,“ referring it to his “Hounds of Heaven .” The desire stayed strong, while he remained active in church, with his parents, Geronimo, a pilot for Philippine Airlines and Emerenciana, a housewife; his two brothers, Teodoro and Renato; and five sisters, Rosa, Corazon, Elena, Teresita and Susan. After all, their ancestral house and the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Makati shared a common perimeter fence. But like other parents concerned about his future, they encouraged him to get a degree in Medical Technology from the WRITER PROSY ABARQUEZ-DELACRUZ, J.D.
University of Santo Tomas. He then became a tenured instructor for the sciences: chemistry, botany, physiology, hematology and microbiology. One summer, he applied to become a computer programmer at Meralco, a power utility company. There he learned programming languages, and later got a job as an analyst and got promoted as a systems manager. He then moved to Summa Computers, FNCB Finance, and San Miguel Corporation. But, his personal Hounds of Heaven got louder. When he migrated to the United States, he worked as a systems analyst at Union Bank. Two years later, he became a systems manager overseeing six employees and a budget of $1,000,000. Even with accumulated scientific knowledge in the biological, physical and computer sciences, the “the Hounds of Heaven” got even louder. He credits his church’s group in the U.S. for introducing him to a serious process of discernment. He partially paid attention, until a crossroad: “Should I pursue this part-time, work at a bank full-time or pursue the seminary full-time?” He applied at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and pursued a Master’s of Divinity at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. He got ordained as a priest in 1993 by Cardinal Roger Mahony, at age 42. He became an associate priest of St. Finbar, and started a Filipino ministry, which continues, even after 17 years. I asked him the process he took to establish the ministry. Like any systems-oriented analyst, he responded, “First, identify the leaders. Organize a get-together, and assign them. The key is to involve them in the parish for invariably, their talents would be found and they will like being in the ministry. Their various tasks included giving sacraments, going to the choir, doing the apostolic work amongst the poor, the sick and doing door-to-door visitation amongst the parishioners. “ He became one of the vocations directors of the Archdiocese for three years while in residence at Immaculate Heart of Mary, with teenagers as his primary target group. He then became the Associate Pastor St. John of God in Norwalk, and organized the Filipino ministry. He started a bereavement ministry to support the beginning experiences, for the widows, widowers, and a Respect Life group. He was the
Spiritual Director of the Filipino Cursillo group in 2009-2010 and served for five years, as the Archdiocesan Liaison for Filipino Charismatic Groups. He became the pastor for St. Madeleine Church, where a new model of Catholic education from pre-school to 12th grade was implemented along with active ministries in faith formation, liturgy and spirituality, youth, hospitality and ecumenical community organizing. He actively coordinated with pastors of the Catholic and non-Catholic churches of Pomona, Catholic Charities, and the Felician Sisters based in St. Joseph Church, Pomona to address mental health challenges in the city and provide professional counseling services to low-income families in Pomona and surrounding cities. He said, “Communal reflection emphasizes that our sins affect others and our reconciliation is with the community as well as with God.“ Duties and lessons as Vicar for Clergy As Vicar for Clergy, he and his team are “charged with the ongoing formation of priests beyond the academic, spiritual, human and pastoral formation they received at the seminary. For academic, focused programs are offered to instruct priests about new ways of doing things in the Church and thinking about the teachings in these current times,” he shared. For human formation, “there are workshops offered to help priests look into themselves for a deeper knowledge of self and to identify areas of growth, especially in how they relate with people and how they can foster communication,” he said. For pastoral formation, “priest go through workshops, talks on different approaches to ministry, for example, how to involve the laity more in the day to day parish ministry, how to make youth ministry central to the life of the parish such that it is taken seriously even in the way the parish organization is structured, and how new models of parish leadership, such as parish life directors who are lay people or deacons, can actually work.” In his capacity as Vicar for Clergy, he is more in tune that “God takes care of His Church and God enables someone in the capacity to do it.” He shared how the Archdiocese at one point found itself in a dilemma of finding a rare, language-specific priest to minister to
a particular parish community. “We did not know what to do. Miraculously, in less than a week after the need arose, a visiting priest, who had permission from his religious community to propagate the devotion to the Sacred Heart, came to our office to offer his services, and this priest whose first language was different happened to have done his theological studies in the second language that we needed for this particular parish. He did not only speak the language, he reads and writes it as well. That became my, ’ Oh, my God! ‘ moment.” “Everybody has his own share of troubles,” he said , “ That goes for priests and lay people as well, that seems to be part of the human condition. All have been given tasks to do, equal to all. We have some very holy priests, but they do not see themselves as holy. Some priests are holy, they have the desire and zeal to minister to people, despite their age. They continue to have compassion and care for the poor and they just say yes to God’s invitation to serve.” To a new priest, “As a priest, you are blessed with the opportunity to make Christ present to somebody else, every moment of your life, like no one else. Carpe Diem, be present and take advantage of it, it is a real blessing! At mass, you are the instrument to make Christ present, folks approach you, someone asks you to bless the water, everyone comes with different stories in their lives. Pope Francis is the best example, just google him in the morning and listen to his homily. It is a gift, use those moments, don’t waste them. Stay and be inspirational to the people.” For a very mature and profoundly wise spiritual leader, I asked him if he has any unfulfilled dream, “I want to play the piano. I have been playing by ear, but have stopped for years. We each have a specific purpose from God, not better than the other, just different, and each is needed. We have lost our audience as God’s evangelists, how do we get them back?” I asked Fr. Aclan what makes him realize God exceeds science. His response was persuasive: “It is the experience. I cannot show empirical data. I know what I am feeling is authentic, it is true.” In every role he has assumed, Fr. Aclan has bloomed where God has planted him.
REV. FR. ROBERT VICTORIA, M.A.:
Manifesting God’s grace and his faith-driven creativity
“Faith without works is dead,” we can tell ourselves whenever we are tempted to rest on our laurels. “How can I best serve Thee,” we can pray. Service implies action. Action requires faith. Our world expands as we allow ourselves to place our confidence in God. The Talmud tells us, “Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.’” We, too, are intended to grow. Expansive creativity is the order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy. There is an indwelling creative force underlying all of life, including us. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the Creator’s creativity within us.” – Julia Cameron, Faith and Will, 2009. But what about a playwright, Fr. Robert Victoria, the current pastor of St. Anthony’s Church in El Segundo, CA, who writes plays and also a lyricist? Is he not God’s child, one of His chosen shepherds, who
ushers folks towards a more personal relationship with Him? He got formed early what we endeavor to learn in our lives on earth: humility, interdependence with people, and consciousness of God’s favor to us, aka God’s grace, or divine connection. “One Love,” a duet by Marie Therese and Kateri Tekakwitha, the two characters in “Fides Ecclesiae,” was composed by Fr. Victoria. Its refrain: “The One Love that all people need/The one Love that makes you free/The love of Christ that conquers all/ The love of Jesus that makes us whole.” Conscious of God’s grace from small business owners and Church leaders Fr. Randy Odchigue described grace, as receiving overwhelming blessings that you do not expect and not getting the punishment you most likely deserve. Fr. Victoria seems to have had God’s favor since birth. As the youngest of seven children, born to Ricardo and Elena Victoria, Fr. Victoria
grew up in Pasay City, where he went to St. Mary’s Academy for elementary. For middle and high school, he went to Sta. Clara Parish School, where he met Fr. Francisco de Leon, now Bishop of Antipolo, who taught in their school, mingled with the boys, took them out on field trips and movies, and became his godfather in confirmation. While an altar server at 12 years old, he decided to enter Our Lady of Guadalupe in Makati for high school, a minor seminary. His parents hesitated, as they could not afford the tuition fees, but Msgr. Laureano Caoile found sponsors to support his studies. Two local business owners responded to provide him a scholarship. Fr. Victoria said, “I need your help so I can fulfill God’s calling for me,” to which they responded, “As long as we have the business, we will help you.” Conscious of God’s grace, he approached them regularly and true to their pledges, they gave him the tuition fees to complete his seminary studies. He graduated with a BA in Philosophy in 1982 at San Carlos Seminary. Five years later, he migrated with his sister to America. He first worked as a volunteer at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in East Hollywood with Sr. Marilena Narvaez and its pastor, Msgr. Carl Bell from February to Sept. 1987. Then, a dilemma, “should I become a priest or a missionary with another calling?” He resolved the conflict by going to St. John’s Seminary. At first, he thought he had made a big mistake. Later, he adjusted to the culture shock. He credited Fr. Alvin Villaruel, a fellow seminarian and his best friend, for helping him, as well as other spiritual mentors. Missionaries also came to St. John, who shared how they practiced their faith in another land. He heard about Cardinal Sin’s reference to those who are “spiritually poor,” who became materialistic, focused on secularism, and found no space nor time for God. WRITER PROSY ABARQUEZ-DELACRUZ, J.D.
He had six books to read before each class session and wondered if he could sustain it. He persisted and earned two Master’s degrees, one in Religion and another in Divinity, at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo in 1991. HIS SERVICE TO GOD AND HIS PEOPLE Curious about the commonalities and differences of seminary lives in the Philippines and in the U.S., I asked Fr. Victoria to share his reflections on his East-West seminary backgrounds. In the Philippines, European priests who have specific viewpoints about the Church’s teachings guide seminarians. “This is what you need to preach and to teach,” Fr. Victoria said, “Community life is more cohesive in the Philippines, guided by the seminary, with ample support of families. We had seminary-coordinated family events.” While in the US, “You are on your own. It is up to you to succeed. You are given the materials and it is up to you to discern the Church’s stance. They give you the context and you analyze. You will need a community [support base] to back you up and being mentored by other priests would help. In America, the emphasis is on the individual, the academics, and parents of seminarians do not know each other. It is not to say that one seminary is more superior than the other,” he continued. He was first assigned to St. Anthony in Oxnard as the Director of Hispanic Ministry from 1991 to 1994. He immersed in the Spanish language and culture: celebrating mass, conversing and teaching Bible classes, holding baptisms, confessions and quinceañera celebrations in Spanish. He started the “Salubong” at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Rowland Heights from 1994 to 1995, a pre-dawn ritual on Easter Sunday, where the Risen Christ meets His Mother Mary. While in a process of discernment on whether he should consider the Philippines for good, he went back in 1999 and worked as an assisting priest to Msgr. Severino Anatalio. “Thanks to Msgr. Chito Bernardo, I realized I was called to serve as a priest in America, fulfilling my dream to be a missionary [there] for God,” he said. He went back to the US and was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish from 2000 to 2005. There, “I met the most humble and holiest [of] people. This old man sold cookies at
the corner of Avenue 26, his livelihood. He gave me his first $20, earned from the sales. When I refused, he reminded me that he, too, could give to the Church. Later, he passed away from diabetes complications,” Fr. Victoria said. Fr. Victoria believed even though he served a poor parish, they deserve the best instruments in worship, as others. He raised $42,000 [which included the $20 he got from the old man] and got the electronic pipe organ for the church and a grand piano, through caroling. At first, the parishioners wanted a Mexican priest, not a “chinito priest,” but he told them, “My Spanish is not as good as Fr. Mario, but we will speak the language of love, and with love, there will be no barriers.” After five years, the parishioners said, ‘You are more Mexican than the other priest.’ “Because I became one of them, they called me Padre Chinito,” Fr. Victoria shared. He got assigned from 2005-2007 to Sacred Heart Church in Altadena as an administrator, “where there was so much division between the African-Americans and Latinos.” He told them, “The Church is for everybody and if we are looking at each other with the eyes of love, we will see the Christ in the other person.” Since 2007, he has been the pastor of St. Anthony’s Church in El Segundo. His wish is to double the enrollment at St. Anthony by challenging his parishioners to support the students with scholarships. Many low-income families have yet to visualize higher education for their children. As an example, one low-income father approached him and heeded Fr. Victoria’s challenge. He realized that he could now afford the $100 towards his child’s tuition, while sponsors fill in the tuition gap. ‘Fides Ecclesiae,’ a musical written by Fr. Victoria Bishop Oscar Solis hailed ‘Fides Ecclesiae’ as a “powerful musical presentation of the lives of two newly canonized saints Pedro Calungsod and Kateri Tekakwitha, [it] is a great medium to inspire hearts as believers in Jesus. Their courageous faith in God and heroic martyrdom are great examples to emulate and imitate.” The musical was first staged at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, then on its last hurrah performances, at the Pantages Theater. Staged at least four times (includ-
ing Redwood City Theater and Center of Performing Arts in Escondido), brought by audiences’ clamor for encore, this musical had the commitment of at least hundreds, who participated in singing and acting. “Nothing is a coincidence with God, it is all providence,” Fr. Victoria said, “I could not imagine being in Pantages, given the cost and the difficulty of access.” To his surprise, an opening in the Pantages’ schedule came up. Funds were raised, with Robbie Fabian assisting in securing sponsors. They raised enough for the musical expenses and theater rentals, with a tidy sum of profit. St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo became the recipient of some of these raised funds. An unexpected aspect of this play was conversion. Alex Ramos, who played the role of St. Kateri, will now be entering religious life, as a Sister of Mercy. One scene lingers for this writer, from another play Fr. Victoria wrote, “Filipino Priests sa America.” It was about a dying priest and another brother priest who prepares him to meet His maker. The priest was portrayed to have several struggles — interior, physical, and spiritual. “It showed an aspect of priesthood, the so-called ‘dark nights of the soul,’ — the last stage of the soul on earth, where the Lord allows darkness, [an opportunity] for the dying priest to freely choose God. God loves us so much that He will respect our free will, up to the end. He gives you a chance to choose God, solely on your own. I remember my teacher in Spanish, Señora Loreta Romualdez Ramos who taught us God will respect you till the end and will not take you until you say, ‘I want to come home to you.’ Gusto mo ba nang habang buhay — [then] God’s mercy comes in,” Fr. Victoria shared. God’s grace on Fr. Victoria is quite evident, demonstrated by his fidelity to serve His people for 25 years. It becomes even more pronounced when these musicals are staged, not knowing how funds would come in to support them. As Ludwig van Beethoven said, “Music is the language of God. We musicians are as close to God as man can be. We hear his voice, we read his lips, we give birth to the children of God, who sing his praise,” and Fr. Robert has demonstrably spoken to God many times through his musical plays.
REV. FR. REYNALDO BONITE MATUNOG, JCL, ADJUTANT JUDICIAL VICAR, ARCHDIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES: Ministering a process of reconciliation
“As St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “Love is shown more by deeds than by words.” It thus shows its fruitfulness and allows us to experience the happiness of giving, the nobility and spending ourselves unstingtingly, without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving.” —Pope Francis, The Joy of Love, 2016. “I find fulfillment as a priest when I serve and minister to the people, the faithful, whose marriages and status in life before the Church need help. Through the annulment process in the Church, we find what really happened. It is not to pinpoint the blame, but when the whole truth is known, while painful, truth becomes a precursor of joy. The annulment, a closure to painful chapters of lives, can begin the process of healing, and folks can move on.” - Fr. Reynaldo Matunog, 2011 “ABRASO: Rediscovering Our Priestly Fraternity. Paring Tomasino: Nagpapatawad, Nagdiriwang, Nagkakaisa, Nagsasaya (Forgiving, Celebrating, Uniting and Happily Engaging)” was the theme of the UST-
ALPA Homecoming last Feb. 23-25, 2016, attended by about 200 alumni priests and bishops, of which Fr. Matunog’s batch was being honored as Silver Jubiliarians. They joined in the meet and greet, liturgy of reconciliation and holy masses, reflections, as well as fellowship gatherings with fellow alumni during the whole celebration. The reunion theme ABRASO (Spanish word for ‘embrace’) mirrors the process of annulment proceedings in his role, as Adjutant Judicial Vicar in the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In that capacity, he provides oversight on the cases brought before the Tribunal for adjudication, usually challenges to the canonical validity of marriage. In an imperfect society in which divorce and separation of married couples are a common reality, his ministry embraces the Church’s mission to offer healing and hope to victims of failed marriages. In these situations, the Tribunal investigates whether the parties in certain instances may be free to remarry in the Church.
DEMYSTIFYING ANNULMENT Our dialogue continued to an overview of the process of annulment for the benefit of the readers. The office in Los Angeles handles an average of 400 to 500 annulment cases a year. Annulment (Declaration of Marriage Nullity, to be exact, Annulment is just the popular term) can be supported by evidence and proof of how marital vows were exchanged, with defects in one’s capacity to give a valid consent traceable to the intellectual, psychological and emotional factors, the existence of some impediments in the person, and even in a defective way of the celebration of marriage. In the United States, “annulment becomes a ministry to persons whose marriages have ended up in separation and divorce,” he said, “people are in pain, hurting, going through dark periods of their lives. They are alienated from the Church, or not in full communion with the Church, given their situation. God’s mercy is clear in healing them and getting them to a closure.” “Through annulment, they can be reconciled to the Church, receive communion and come to terms with their ex-spouses; some are bitter, some are better; and even if traumatic, some find the process liberating and are able to let go of the pain. Some forgive, and once annulment is granted, they can be remarried in the Church,” he clarified. WHO IS FR. REYNALDO MATUNOG? His family name, Matunog, means sonorous, resounding, vibrant, possessing a quality. True to his name, his ministry as a judicial vicar resonates with many couples, particularly with his understanding and his spiritual wisdom. Fr. Matunog was born to Suprema S. Bonite, a devout churchgoer and Melecio G. Matunog, Sr. He has eight siblings. In high WRITER PROSY ABARQUEZ-DELACRUZ, J.D.
school, a priest shared his vocation and it inspired him to answer his moral calling. Encouraged, he joined Pope Paul IV/ St Joseph College, a minor seminary in Maasin, Southern Leyte. After three years of philosophy at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo, Leyte, he went to Manila and completed his Bachelors of Theology at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). He was then ordained by Bishop Vicente Ataviado on on April 11, 1991. His first assignment was at Maasin Cathedral, as its assistant pastor in charge of the catechists’ ongoing formation, and served at the same time as became its Cathetical Director in the diocese for four years. In October 1994, he led the newly created Assumption in the Hills Parish, and supervised the building of a new church, which seats 750 parishioners and a rectory, costing Php 8,000,000 ($182,000 in today’s exchange rate). To minister to the parishioners, he walked, he rode the motorbike and the jeepney. To folks who are familiar with Southern Leyte, the roads to the mountains are muddy, unpaved, rough and pockmarked. At times, it challenged Fr. Matunog’s patience, but also his willingness to undertake personal sacrifices to minister to God’s people. When he later became the pastor of the Holy Spirit Parish in Visca, Baybay in Leyte, his ministry shifted to the academe, the agricultural farmers, fishermen, students, university workers, and the member chapels of the nearby barangays. By the 10th year of his priesthood, he obtained permission to study abroad. He completed a Licentiate in Canon Law at the Universidad de Navarra in Spain and all the academic requirements towards a doctorate, but for a dissertation. Fr. Matunog celebrated his 25th anniversary of ordination, a silver jubilarian, as folks call it, on April 10, 2016 at the Sacred Heart Parish in Los Angeles. He officiated the Mass, followed by a celebration attended by his family and friends. “In a very simple way, I celebrated with the parish, where I am based, and with my brother priests and colleagues here in the tribunal and with those who have asked for my help in other parishes,“ he said with
gratitude and humility perceived in his tone. GOD’S BLESSINGS When asked if he were to mentor new priests, what would he tell them? He emphasized prayer life is very important, meditation, devotion to the rosary, the Holy Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, confession and retreat. Friendship with brother priests is also important, not limited to just Filipinos. Priesthood is a very fulfilling ministry to Fr. Matunog. “Jesus Christ is the face of God’s mercy, the unfathomable mercy of God to everyone. As a priest, I am being called to bring the joy of the Gospel, the good news. As a priest, I am a man of the Church, a man of God really, whose mission is to deliver the good news of salvation and the mercy of God,” he said. He reflected on his blessings: “If you want
to follow me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. By Divine Providence, although I did not see it before, I found my studies in Spain providential, as I got to learn Spanish, I am able to serve a Latino parish now. Being a Filipino, I can help minister and I handle cases involving Filipino couples and parties to annulment. I just celebrated 25 years of priesthood. I cannot imagine getting this far in my priesthood, while I get to serve people from my line of expertise as a canon lawyer. To the young, single people out there, consider being a priest as a vocation in life to pursue.” True to his name, and the life he chose, Fr. Matunog’s priesthood has resonated in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, particularly to couples seeking reconciliation with the Church, as possessing a consistency and a level of spiritual quality and maturity.
FR. MARTY SILVA, S.J.: Helping souls to thrive
“The aim and end of this Society is, by traveling through the various regions of the world at the order of the [Pope] or of the superior of the Society itself, to preach, hear confessions, and use all the other means it can…to help souls. What might ‘helping souls’ include? Apparently, whatever made sense to a self-aware Jesuit and his superiors, from expeditionary treks to mapmaking to astronomical research. Instead of specifying businesses his Jesuits should pursue, Loyola only warned them to avoid occupations that could tie them down or limit strategic flexibility...by explicitly putting themselves at the Pope’s disposal, they made it impossible to turn back and therefore enforced flexibility. Like it or not, when the Pope came knocking they were committed to go.” – Chris Lowney, “Heroic Leadership,” 2003. It was Good Friday, 2016, when I joined the Stations of the Cross, and watched the Passion of Christ enacted during the Gospel at Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood. I was in line to do confessions, when a Caucasian parishioner spoke of the kindness of Filipinos.
“They are very sweet,” the parishioner said. “This is my home parish with mostly Latinos and Filipinos. When they bring food, they invite us to join in with them.” “Yes, that is our fiesta culture, we want everyone in the town included,” I told her. When the Mass started, only a handful populated the pews, and later, over 200 attended the service. Two priests (one was Fr. Marty Silva) heard confessions and two lines formed with a dozen each, with no let up till the end of the service. As Fr. Silva said to me, “You suffered a great loss, that of your mother. You need to be kind and to be encouraging of your own self,” I felt lighter, as if a mountain inside me had vaporized. GOD CHOOSES AND PREPARES HIS SERVANTS WELL Fr. Silva completed his Economics degree from the University of the Philippines in 1983. After graduating, he immigrated to the United States. He spent 18 years in corporate finance in the telecommunications and banking industries, and then, an MBA from Pepperdine University in 1995. But, God had a different plan for him. After decades of working, he started to question: “Is there something more to life than this?” The turning point came when he completed the Spiritual Exercises, a 30-day retreat started by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Though its format and content are written in a book, it is described by Lowney as, “not a book to be read: [because] one achieves self-awareness not by reading how someone else achieved it but [within the retreat] through focused reflection on one’s own experience.” Toward the end of the retreat, Fr. Silva started to better appreciate Jesuit mottos such as “finding God in all things,” and “man living for others,” much like what Lowney described, “‘men of the exercises,’ implicitly celebrating the camaraderie born of their common spiritual boot camp but more crucially signaling their allegiance to shared vision and values.” Lowney continues, “The Exercises were designed to help individuals choose or confirm a life direction…allows Jesuit managers to tap a well-spring of energy and goodwill, as well as remind recruits of their unifying value system…actions to be
done, not rules to be read or studied.” THE EFFECT GOT FR. SILVA CURIOUS ABOUT JESUITS’ LIVES. “I saw how the pattern of Ignatius’ life had parallels with mine. Furthermore, I felt that the Society’s spirituality, philosophy and “way of proceeding,” resonated with the way I looked at my own life,” Fr. Silva shared. He started to realize how what he had done was part of the larger picture, part of God’s design for his life. “It became more than work and money, it became about doing good in the world,” Fr. Silva said. In 2005, he entered the California Province novitiate in Culver City, the same province to which his cousin, Fr. Joaquin Martinez, S.J. belongs. Fr. Silva also had two uncles who were Philippine Province Jesuits. As part of his novitiate experience, he was assigned to a home for the developmentally disabled in Seattle, where he “physically cared and spent recreational time with them.” Shortly after, he did what is termed as a “long experiment,” working in campus ministry at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Newman Center in Honolulu, according to the Summer 2015 edition of Mission Magazine. TAKE AND RECEIVE O LORD “I never really liked the idea that we are Catholics only on Sundays. God has to be found everywhere, and an essential element of Ignatian spirituality is to see God’s actions in everyday living, then we offer ourselves wholeheartedly to God in order to follow his will,” he said. This is in the spirit of the Suscipe prayer “Take and Receive” of St. Ignatius, and then, he recited the words to me: “Take Lord, and receive, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given all to me. To You, O Lord, I return it. All is Yours, dispose of it wholly according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace, for this is enough for me.” “When you are in that place of humility, God’s grace works.” Fr. Silva continued, “As a result of aspiring to this ideal, through the Society I lived more consistently with who I felt that I am…with the right values, WRITER PROSY ABARQUEZ-DELACRUZ, J.D.
orientation and vision.” In the second year of the novitiate, he lived away for ten months. After that, he pursued his Master’s in Philosophy at Fordham University. He then spent two years teaching theology and working as a campus minister at Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento. He was then assigned to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley and then pursued a Master’s in Divinity for pastoral work. While studying, he served as a deacon at San Quentin State Prison, teaching catechism and preaching. During his formation years, he taught English to teachers in Xiamen, China, and studied Spanish in Mexico, Valenzuela, and Colombia,” as Mission Magazine (Summer 2015) highlighted. “While I was formed as a priest, after ordination, [June 13, 2015], I was still not a fully formed Jesuit. It takes working as a priest for a few years before one is called to “tertianship,” he said. Tertianship is the final stage before becoming fully formed as a Jesuit, “during this time you are studying the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus in more depth and you redo the Spiritual Exercises.” “Church of Diversity, many come from around the world” “We are a Church of diversity, as many come from around the world, to sit at the table of the Lord,” Fr. Silva said of his current Church. He is assigned to Blessed Sacrament Church, where many languages are spoken, including some of the indigenous languages of Latin America. It is a Church where 60% are Latinos, 20% are Filipinos, and 20% are from other races. People from about eighteen of the twenty Latin American countries worship in this church. He is the chaplain to the parish’s young adult ministry, where young professionals come together to “learn more about their faith and are interested in spiritual/intellectual formation.” He is also the social media coordinator, in charge of Internet communications. They have just launched an App, OneParish, which serves as a way for parishioners to stay in touch with the parish. He is involved with a consortium called “Jesuit Works” which was formed to promote
the Jesuit brand and mission. There are currently 16 Jesuit works and ministries in Southern California, including three churches, Blessed Sacrament, Dolores Mission in East LA, and Our Lady of Guadalupe in San Diego. Jesuits are also in Loyola High School and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and in about 90 schools and universities in the United States. In the Philippines, the Jesuit-run universities are Ateneo de Davao, Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Naga, Ateneo de Zamboanga, and Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan. With so many Jesuit institutions, Fr. Silva is trying to form a community comprised of Jesuit alumni within Blessed Sacrament. “Those who found meaning with the Jesuits can find their connections here again” he said. “You cannot live without intimacy” I was curious about his transition towards priesthood. At the time of our interview, the movie “Spotlight,” had received the Academy award for Best Picture. He shared that there was not much transition, as he had been involved with young adult ministry for several years prior to joining the Jesuits. I asked him about Richard Sipe’s (82-year-old psychiatrist, former priest) assertion in the movie that only 50% of priests are celibate. I asked what he thought of it, to which, “You can live without sex, but you cannot live fully without intimacy.” Fr. Silva wisely said, “In our society, intimacy and sex are too often thought as equivalent. A priest is still a human being and needs deep connections with others, including women. But deep intimacy with the opposite sex does not necessitate physical intimacy. “Part of the Jesuit formation is proper psychosexual development — how to live happily with one’s solitude, how to relate intimately with other people, and above all how to be intimate with God. The freedom to be intimate with anyone is a source of joy for the priesthood. If you are transitioning in to the priesthood, a critical element is to be authentic about yourself. You are called by God just as you are. You do not have to live according to some idealized template, but as the way God personally calls you into the ministry.
“None of these vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience are meant to be punitive. If you live them as such, you could end up becoming neurotic. Rather, these vows are meant to be liberating so you can follow your life’s vocation.” One of Fr. Silva’s vocational inspirations came from the theologian Frederick Buechner who said, “You are called to where your deepest gladness meets the world’s greatest hunger. For poverty, it is not necessarily about being materially poor, it’s about living with simplicity. Moreover, it is meant so that one does not get too attached to material things. Without their hindrance, one is much freer to do God’s will.” Same with regards to chastity, “The freedom from a specific relationship liberates one to go anywhere in the world to do His will. This is particularly relevant to a Jesuit, who can be asked by his superiors to move to another part of the world at any time.” As our interview came to an end, Fr. Silva emphasized St. Ignatius’ example, of how he wanted to spend the rest of his life in Jerusalem, yet God had other plans for him. He also spoke of Pope Francis. He said, “The Pope is going back to the original plan, he is trying to promote the Church as the merciful face of Jesus. When compassion is prevalent, it becomes easier for parties to dialogue around controversial issues. Compassion is responsive to the universal human experience; it opens us to the others’ point of view, and may just open them up to the Church’s values. Nowadays, mission territories are not just physical locations. The new frontiers are the myriad of ideologies where we are all called to be witnesses of God’s compassion.” “The physical nature of the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, is a way to connect to the Divine,” Fr. Silva explained. Much like Archbishop Jose Gomez’ words to new priests: “The priesthood is not about power or prestige. It is not an office or an occupation. It is a Sacrament. It is a response to God’s call to serve souls. You are called to be other Christs. This is not a metaphor or a pretty idea. You are His voice and His hands.” The Archbishop’s words resonated with what I learned from Fr. Marty Silva.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
FR. JOY LAWRENCE LIWAG SANTOS: JOYFUL LIFE OF SERVICE
“No one needs to feel that he is small, too small compared with someone too great. We are all little in the sight of God, in Christian humility, but we all have a role. Everyone! Like in the Church…Who is more important in the Church? The pope or that old lady who prays the rosary every day for the Church? Only God can say: I cannot say. But everyone is important to this harmony, because the Church is the harmony of diversity. The body of Christ is this harmony in diversity, and the One who creates this harmony is the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit is the most important of all. This is what you said, and I wish to emphasize it. It is important: to seek unity and not to follow the logic that the big fish swallows the little one.” – Pope Francis, March 22, 2014. Fr. Joy Lawrence Santos’ homily on the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, reads in part, quoting Pope Francis, “Why must we return to God? Because something is not right in us, not right in our society, in the Church, and we need to change, to give it new direction. And this is called needing to Convert! The season of Lent comes,
once again, to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to create something new within ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, for He cannot deny Himself, He continues to be rich in goodness and mercy. He is always ready to forgive and start afresh. The Pope enjoins us then to set out on the journey during this season of Lent with this filial confidence…Let us open our hearts then to the grace and mercy of God.” Could Fr. Santos and Pope Francis have exchanged notes, as if a planned convergence? Pope Francis preached about ‘diversity in harmony’ in 2014, while Fr. Santos on harmony from converting oneself from within, an “inner conversion” in 2016. Why convergence? For with one’s inner change, as Fr. Santos said, one becomes joy in every encounter, in harmony with others, a ‘harmony with diversity,’ as Pope Francis said. His ordination theme is to be “in joyful service,” to which he lives up to in a humble way: fixing the fence, the gazebo
and the Stations of the Cross, constructed along the perimeters of Lompoc’s Queen of Angels Catholic Parish. But more than fixing and doing carpentry work, he helps in building strong, unified pastoral communities. While visiting Lompoc’s Queen of Angels Catholic Church, a family of deer was grazing. I would have missed seeing them, but Fr. Santos points to them and we both observed in silence. I first met Fr. Santos for an interview and a few more times at a Filipino Priests’ musical depicting the lives of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Kateri Tekakwitha. In each of these encounters, a palpable warmth and joy greeted me. I was reading “Life with the Saints” by James Martin — a Jesuit, who worked in the business world and whose life was inspired by the saints. Saints led lives of service with obedience to God and joy of service to others, with humility. Fr. Santos’ surname (which means “saints”) and personal demeanor reminded me of the saints’ lives that I am reading about. Born to Manuel Santos, Sr. and Jesusa Liwag (whom I met in person in 2011, while visiting her family), Fr. Santos went to St. Louis School in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya where he had his elementary and high school studies. After high school, he entered the seminary, and earned a degree in Philosophy, with a minor in sociology at San Pablo Seminary. He finished his theological studies at the Immaculate Conception School of Theology in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, which is a regional seminary for Northern Luzon. He was ordained a priest on October 26, 1991, by Bishop Miguel Purugganan who was delegated by the Most Rev. Ramon B. Villena, bishop of the Diocese of Bayombong. HIS JOURNEY OF JOYFUL SERVICE He was appointed parish priest of St. Joseph Parish in Kayapa, an upland parish where he had to hike for a day to get to some of the parishioners. He celebrated mass in their villages, conducted catechism and studied the Bible. He had to visit these villages at least once in every three months only because of the distance. Assigned to St. Mark’s Parish, he focused on building Basic Christian Communities for six years. He was the Episcopal Vicar, representing the bishop, for the Vicariate WRITER PROSY ABARQUEZ-DELACRUZ, J.D.
of Quirino Province. Another task that was given to him was being Superintendent of the Diocesan Catholic Schools. He took units of graduate studies in schools’ supervision and administration at St. Louis University in Baguio City. He took on increasing responsibilities as Chancellor Economus or diocesan treasurer for four years, under Diocesan Bishop Ramon Villena, where he gained exposure to the financial aspects of a diocese and how to provide support to different parishes. As Secretary to the Bishop, he was in charge of correspondence, minutes, represented the Bishop as the Episcopal Vicar for six years (in confirmations, leadership summits, provincial meetings); including becoming the Bishop’s appointments’ secretary. In this leadership position, he met with the local town leaders and national political and faith leaders visiting the diocese. He was also appointed as the Diocesan vocation director for six years, while being Regional Coordinator for the Directors of Vocation for Northern Luzon. As head of the DVP-Northern Luzon, he together with other vocation directors hosted the National Convention for Vocation Promoters in the Philippines, in Baguio City. At each level of his assignments, his responsibilities increased, as well as his exposure to people of various backgrounds. It enlarged his spheres of influence. He became multilingual in English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Ilocano. In 2006, he applied for leave and came to the U.S. where he hoped to study. He would find himself working as an associate pastor at the Our Lady of the Valley Church, where he was welcomed by Fr. Alden Sison. He assisted him at Our Lady of Valley Church, where he helped in organizing the Filipino community and coordinated the parish’s San Lorenzo Ruiz celebration. He would also become associate pastor for one year at St. Genevieve, where Fr. Sison became pastor. Later, he was appointed as associate pastor at St. Raphael in Goleta, CA. He credits his pastor’s support at St. Raphael for his active participation in the “Filipino Priests sa America” musical, where he stood out with his confident performance, deftly singing, acting, and dancing. Fr. Santos was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on May
19, 2014. With this, he was eventually appointed as pastor of Queen of Angels Church in Lompoc, CA, about 160 miles from Los Angeles. He doesn’t mind traveling for two hours, if there is no traffic, to be with his brother and family in Reseda during his day off. He would also try to get in touch with some friends and brother priests. MENTORING A NEW PRIEST With nine new deacons ordained as priests on June 2016, I asked Fr. Santos how would he mentor a new priest if one is assigned to his parish. First, he emphasized on, “being grounded,” being with people and getting to know them. You have to journey with them. He recalls being motivated by the first National Association of Filipino Priests’ keynote speaker, Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, now Cardinal, who asked the more than 400 hundred priests who came: “Why are you here? Whatever reasons you have, you must have the sense of being sent. You are sent here by the Lord for a mission.” His current parish serves distinct cultural groups of Hispanics, Filipino, Guamanians and Caucasians. As such, the parish organizes four cultural celebrations: Irish-American Dinner in March, Guamanian Dinner in May, Filipino Dinner in July, and Mexican Dinner in September. “I would like to give each cultural group a space to celebrate their heritage and culture. I want to promote international/ cultural dinners so we can achieve: sharing of cultures, sharing of who we/they are, and achieve interethnic unity and harmony in the community. We try to achieve this too, through the annual parish festival every first weekend of October.” Did I not say convergence earlier; as if
Pope Francis was guiding Fr. Santos in 2014, preaching “harmony in diversity” for him to implement “unity in diverse communities practices?” “In being integrated with the people, the community and my biological family,” Fr. Santos said, “my presence, being there, and my apostolate of presence, I can join them, be for them and by being with them, it means a big deal, as well as for me.” His joyful presence is his priesthood. Second, he emphasized a prayer life is very important, “to allow perseverance with God. It keeps you strong, it keeps you going, it keeps you grounded, to be centered on the Eucharist.” Prayers, he added, keep him renewed with positivity and inspiration. Third, “To allow your character to evolve. Be who you are. I will accompany him not as a formator, but as a brother/priest, but will still guide him in his journey.” He recalled how his spiritual director was a Jesuit and guided him that all things he accomplished were all for the glory of God. Last October 29, 2016, Fr. Santos celebrated his 25 years of priesthood at Queen of Angels Church in Lompoc. Currently, he serves as dean for Deanery 1, elected by fellow priests and appointed by Archbishop Jose Gomez. There are five pastoral regions in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. And each region has four deaneries. A deanery is a cluster of parishes. For Deanery 1, it includes Queen of Angels and La Purisima in Lompoc, Old Mission Church in Santa Inez, Immaculate Conception Church in New Cuyama, and St. Louis de Montfort, St. Mary of the Assumption and St. John Neumann, all in Santa Maria. As dean, Fr. Santos is also a member of the Council of Priests in the archdiocese. Monthly, with the other deans in the region, he meets Bishop Robert Barron, the Episcopal Vicar for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region.