Roots & Wings Summer Issue 2012

Page 1


Roots&Wings CULTURE



Nr 11



A quarterly online magazine for Filipinos in Europe, published by Rachel Publishing Company in Stockholm, Sweden. Its aim is (1) to uplift, create awareness and appreciation of Filipino culture and lifestyle (2) to serve as a bridge to lessen the gap between the expatriate communities of Filipinos living in various parts of Europe (3) to highlight touristic and historical places of interest in our home country in order to encourage and enhance local travel, tourism and commerce.



The Filipino Online Magazine in Europe




We invite our kababayans in Europe to contribute articles on

* Cultural Issues * Cultural Events * Places * Travel * Nature * Career Achievement * Business Development * Job & Study possibilities * Life- Enrichment projects , etc * Other relevant articles on books, movies, fashion, design, food * Please attach high quality photographs in jpg-format

We are looking for Bureau Editors in Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna, Amsterdam, Reykjavik, Berlin, Edinburgh, Dublin and other cities in Europe Please send materials to our Editor in Chief John Florencio at


Dear Kababayans


President Noynoy Visits London


The First Filipino Film Festival in Europe takes place in Denmark


Interview with Brillante Mendoza – award winning filmmaker


Artist in Focus – Vics Magsaysay


Diplomatic Profile – His Excellency Leslie J Baja – Philippine Ambassador To Switzerland & Liechstenstein


Candy Gourlay – Best Selling Author of Tall Story







The Philippine Education Society in Stockholm, Sweden


Filipino-Czech Association in Prague


Street Dance for Life – Ricky Carranza


Expat Life in Stavanger, Norway


Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis


Rizal in Dapitan


A glimpse of Cebu’s Sinulog Festival


Guimaras Island


Summer in Europe is always hectic for many of us. The sun is shining all day, the birds are singing and flowers are blooming, so we start with the usual Flores de Mayo parades, then comes graduations, charity balls, concerts, football tournaments, picnics in the parks, potluck parties, garden barbecues, Independence Day celebrations, celebrity visits, demonstrations (in front of the Chinese embassies), more concerts, Presidential visit in London, parties and more parties. Filipino life in Europe is not just hard work. Filipino life in Europe is made of parties and many of us are invited.

recognitions he has been reaping over the years. For me, the best summer event I had the privilege Read more about Brillante on pages 10-16. of attending, so far, was the 1st Filipino Filmfest held in Denmark. From June 11-20, Filipino films There are plans to hold Filipino Film Festivals were shown every evening in the capital city of in Europe every year. Kristoffe Biglete, a Copenhagen and the neighboring city of Aarhus. young French-Filipino based in Copenhagen It was not the usual screaming and crying kind is the person behind this successful and much of Filipino films of the past. These festival films appreciated festival. Kristoffe will give us more were serious, part culture, part nature, part details later on. politics, capable of opening one’s heart and mind. I felt a sense of gratitude and thankfulness, We wish you all a wonderful summer. Back home, especially to Brillante Mendoza, the multi – the Philippine economy is booming, hopefully awarded Filipino filmmaker in the international benefitting not just some but many, the younger scene, who graced the Opening Day of the festival generation are being equipped with competitive with his presence and with his film Captive, with skills that are global in nature. The future is French actress Isabelle Huppert in the leading bright for us Filipinos wherever we are. Rest, role. Brillante is charming and down-to-earth, his relax, recharge. honest-to-goodness approach to filmmaking was probably the secret beyond all those rewards and Mabuhay tayong lahat!

Rachel Hansen Founder & Publisher

Palawan sunset by Vics Magsaysay


President Noynoy visits London Photos courtesy of Malacanang photographers

The President flanked by government officials and embassy staff in London with the double decker bus in the background bearing the Philippine tourism slogan

The President surrounded by kababayans in London



The First Festival for

Filipino cinema in Denmark

June 11-17 Copenhagen June 14-20 Aarhus

The Filippinsk Film Festival intends to present the Filipino cinema in its diversity hosting the first annual film festival in Scandinavia. The Filipino cinema is a developing movement which has been awarded in the past five years in many film festivals in Europe (Cannes, Berlin, Venice). The Filippinsk Film Festival will show 8 recent movies, and bring together people from the industry (directors, actors, distributors) as well as a Danish and Filipino audience to build a bridge between the two cultures. The festival will take place in: • Grand Teatret (Copenhagen) / 11-17 june 2012 • Øst For Paradis (Aarhus) / 14-20 june 2012 All the benefits will be donated to charity involved in education, children and local support. Missions The FILIPINO FILM FESTIVAL is a non-profit organization whose overall aim is to: • Introduce cinema from the Philippines in Denmark and Scandinavia • Promote culture from the Philippines in Denmark and Scandinavia • Show a more contemporary image of Filipino art and culture • Showcase a selection of notable works for the public in Europe to discover • Promote the Filipino cinema industry through audience awareness, meetings with industries representatives and specialized press, and master-classes from Filipino directors in Danish cinema institutions • Recognize notable works of talented filmmakers and helping them distribute their films in Europe • Provide the Danish audience, and by extension a Scandinavian audience, with an opportunity to discover, understand and appreciate a culture from a developing country through films



Brillante with Isabelle Huppert on the set of the movie Captive

Brillante Mendoza The greatest Filipino filmmaker of all time By Rachel Hansen If you can measure a Filipino filmmaker’s greatness with the number of international awards and prizes that he has received, then Brillante Mendoza is the most qualified holder of that title. Yet not so many of us Filipinos in Europe have heard or seen much of his films. We are going to change that. The 1st Filipino Film Festival held in Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark from June 11-20, initiated by Kristoffe Biglete, was such a success that plans are under way to hold Filipino Film Festivals in many parts of Europe every year. Once you have seen Brillante Mendoza’s films, you will want to see more. Director Brillante Mendoza with French actress Isabelle Huppert


Here’s the list of Brillante Mendoza’s achievements so far: His first feature film “Masahista” (The Masseur, 2005) won the Golden Leopard Award at the Locarno

International Film Festival in Switzerland, the Interfaith Award in 2006 in the Brisbane Film Festival and the Audience Award in the Turin International Film Festival. His film “Manoro” (The Aeta Teacher, 2006) won the CinemAvvenir at the 2006 Torino Film Festival for Best Film, and for Best Picture and Best Director awards at the Cinemanila 2006. “Kaleldo” (Summer Heat, 2006) won the Netpac Award and Best Actress Award in Durban, 2007; “Foster Child” (2007) won the Best Actress at New Delhi International Film Festival, Special Jury Award at the 2007 International Eurasia Film Festival in Kazakhstan, the Signis Award in the 2008 Las Palmas International Film Festival, and Best Picture and Best Actress awards in Durban, 2008; “Tirador” (Slingshot, 2007) won the Special Jury Award in the 2007 Marrakech International Film 11

Festival and the Caligari Prize Award at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival. It was also given the Best Film, Best Director, and Netpac Awards in the 2008 Singapore International Film Festival. In 2008, “Serbis” won the Best Film and Best Actress awards in the Pacific Meridian Film Festival in Vladivostok, Russia, and the Golden Kinnaree Awards in Bangkok Film Festival in 2008. Serbis is also the first Filipino film to be invited as official selection in the prestigious New York Film Festival. It was also the first Filipino film to compete at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. In 2009 Mendoza did the film “Lola” which gave him numerous awards both locally and internationally: 2009 Dubai International Film Festival, 2010 Miami International Film Festival Grand Knight Award, 2010 Las Palmas International Film Festival: Golden Lady Harimaguada, Best Actress, Best Cinematography; 2010 Asia pacific Award, Best Actress. In 2009, Brillante Mendoza was the First Filipino to win the Best Director award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for his picture “Kinatay”, besting other world renowned directors.

Brillante in Copenhagen


In 2011, his film “Captive” starring French actress Isabelle Huppert was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.

Q&A with Brillante Mendoza Can you explain your success? Or, better still, what does it take to make an award winning film?

Whenever I make a film I do not think of the awards. I do not think that I will be recognized for it. When I make a film, I like to do it right, to tell the story the way it should be told, the way it really is in real life. I do not want to use a lot of icing with a nice story. I like it to be straightforward and truthful. I think that is one of the reasons why my films are recognized abroad: because of their honesty, because they are truthful, because they show who we are, what we are as a nation, as Filipinos. Because that’s the kind of people we are. We might not be the perfect people or society, but it is so with the rest of the world. There really is no perfect nation or perfect society. We have our flaws and imperfections which make us human, and when you recognize all of these, it gives you a sense of being one with the rest of mankind, it’s a

Brillante with the author of article

universal thing, it is not distinctly Pinoy, so that even those from first world countries can identify or relate to the story.

I understand your career started in Advertising & Production Design. When did you know you were going to be a movie director? When I was doing Production Design, I was making good money. Because when you are in advertising you can be financially secured. There’s a lot of money in the advertising world. Of course I liked what I was doing because I always give 100% in everything that I do. But then I always wanted to be a filmmaker, but I did not have the right training, and I did not know anybody who can trust me to direct. Then one day, a friend asked me if I wanted to direct a movie. “Are you sure?” I replied. “Yes, I think you have what it takes to be a filmmaker”. So I thought, why not? I can give it a try and I can always go back to advertising later on. My friend gave me 150,000 pesos to start the movie which I did not even use. To make a long story short, I directed The Masseur: about a guy working as a masseur, a love story, and my first thought was to change the title. But my friend thought we had to keep the title because it sounded very commercial. The title

Brillante directing actors on the set of Captive

was attractive to box office sales. But I was really more interested in what I was going to say so I did a lot of research without realizing that what I was doing then was going to be the same process I was going to use in my future work with filmmaking. Still, I was not sure if I wanted to become a full time filmmaker. I was sure I would not make any money with making films. So that’s it. Doing right the way as I believed it to be, how I do things personally, and giving my all, this small film was submitted to the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, which is the 2nd oldest film festival in the world and the most prestigious. And I was awarded the Grand Prize. During one of the screenings, a lady film critic, who is a big name in Europe, told me that though she has never been to our country, and never knew we had a film culture, she felt as if she had been there before as she saw the movie. She saw the beauty in our country, the beauty in our people. It was a revelation to me. It was not really my intention to show it that way. My intention in doing a film about a masseur working in a brothel house, an underground sex trade – was to portray the truth - how can one see the beauty of my country this film? I did not even beautify the scenes; I saw it the way it is. It was a truthful story and this film critique found beauty in it. It changed my whole mindset about

Brillante directing Isabelle Huppert


Brillante with his assistant Rene Durian in Copenhagen

filmmaking; it became a turning point in my life. It made me realize how powerful the film medium can be. This film and that lady film critic made me decide to pursue a career in filmmaking.

Do you have any role model? Where do you get your inspiration?

Working in the film industry for the longest time, behind the camera, with different filmmakers, different directors, I try to learn as much as I could. Sometimes, when I see them shoot a scene and I would tell myself to create my own interpretation. I would stay away, and when I watched it on the big screen I would get disappointed. But I was just behind the camera. In terms of role models, I just appreciate a lot of filmmakers, but my real inspiration comes from ordinary people I meet every day, people on the streets - those people whose life stories are for real, although they are famous or popular. But that is where I get my inspiration. I can relate to them. I can feel their emotions – what is goes on in their minds and hearts, their life stories are for real.

Do you have a mission in mind or do you try to teach a moral lesson with your films? I would be a hypocrite if I answered “yes” to that question. When making a film, one realizes there 14

Brillante in action

is much power that could change the minds of other people, even their lives. You never know how powerful a film can be. But I never try to preach, to tell others what to do, what is wrong and what is right. In most of my films, I want to show the realities of life, they might not be the feel good type or with a happy ending. But I think the audience is mature and intelligent enough to know and discern what is wrong or right. I don’t think anyone wants to be told what to do. My obligation is to tell the truth, to be as honest as I can be even if the story borders on the dark side of life or society. I do not intend to cover it up with something nice. That is my conviction.

Among the films that you have made so far, which one are you most proud of? And why?

For me, films are like having your own children. I give my whole heart in all the films I make. So with your children, you are not supposed to tell who your favorite is. You know that they are all different – one is sweet, one is gifted, but whatever their characters are, they are all your children. Every film I make is like the extension of my soul.

I have heard, for the first time, the term “poverty porn” or films with poverty theme,

that are meant to sell “well” internationally. What is your opinion about this? Does it really work? I think film-lovers would rather see a feel-good film than a feel-bad film?

I think it all depends on the intention of the filmmaker. If your intention is to use povery to highlight a story, then that is poverty porn, if it shows the realities of life or it was used as the backdrop of the story then that is not poverty porn. In the Philippines there is a lot of poverty, as a developing country and considered a poor one. My stories are mere reflections of people living in this situation. It is inevitable not to tackle social issues my stories, it is a fact of life. However, it does not mean that if you are poor, you are bad or corrupt. These are realities. If you use poverty to sell your film, to highlight your film, then that is poverty porn. My films are not in this category. We like to see feel-good films from time to time. But Hollywood films have enough of these every week, and so are mainstream movies in the Philippines: comedies, musicals, light romance - films that cater to merely entertain the audience, that are not culture films. You have to confront society; you have to look at the mirror. My films are not exactly for entertainment, my films are for real, and if they hurt so be it. I will

not compromise my art and my vision, just to please people; I do not want to manipulate the truth. I believe that one has to confront every problem, look at it straight into the eye. I do not belong to commercial film makers.

What was it like working with French actress Isabelle Huppert, who had the leading role in the film “Captive”?

I first met Isabelle Huppert at the Cannes Film Festival and then we met again in Brazil. She told me she had visited the Philippines some twenty years ago. I asked her if she wanted to play the leading role in “Captive” and she agreed. You know, she is one of the most respected and biggest movie stars in Europe, that just to collaborate with her, is a great achievement already. But more than that, you have to match her passion and her dedication to the cinema. Filming “Captive” in the jungles was quite difficult but challenging. But she never complained. It was really great experience collaborating with her.

Most indie films now get recognized internationally but with very little success in the Philippines. How can a Filipino indie filmmaker make his films accessible not just to 15

the international scene, but also to the local community?

This is a work in progress. The Filipino audience has not fully developed a film culture. They see film as a mere form of entertainment, not an integral part of art or culture. Films have different purpose: to entertain, to educate, to inform, to experience, among other things. We have focused on the entertainment aspect. But right now, with the proliferation of indie films in the Philippines, which is at its infant stage, the audience is becoming aware that there is an alternative cinema, which we did not have much before. Slowly, we are seeing films that are more than the usual, but depict stories that reflect social realities. There is a sense of social awareness beginning to take shape. We try to make our films more accessible while developing a new kind of film audience. And because of this effort we will develop an audience who patronize the alternative cinema. Right now alternative films are only accessible in festivals, like in Denmark. There is no regular distribution yet. Unfortunately, distributors won’t take just take alternative films, because they know there is no audience for it. In the Philippines, anybody can make films. But filmmakers have to distribute their films themselves. Or with the Film Development Council (Philippines) they can help distribute these films, not just for festivals. And these films are not even expensive.

Do you think Roots&Wings, the Filipino magazine in Europe, can be an instrument in encouraging more Filipinos in Europe to patronize Filipino films? Maybe a film review as a regular feature of the magazine?

planning to concentrate more on creating stories from the different region. I would like to go more to the countryside. The people I have met during my travels in the regions promoting my films were so amazed; they did not realize that films can be done this way. They realized there is much to see and discover, even in their own place. For many, megamalls are the only reality, di ba? Even some foreigners identify the Philippines as Manila or child prostitution. But we have more than that - there is so much beauty too, rich culture. I experienced poetry readings in a house I visited in Iloilo. Yes, we have one of the richest and diverse cultures in the world and it is time we know and appreciate that.

How would you describe yourself in three words? I can only come up with two words – honest filmmaker.

Are you difficult to work with?

I don’t think so. I am not the person to say that, but people I have worked with in the past, are still working for me now.

What is your most favorite place in the world? Why?

After having visited many places in the world, I still prefer the place where I live now in Manila. Despite the noise and pollution, where I am living now is my most favorite place in the world, it’s like a paradise, a secret lush garden- it’s like being in a forest with plenty of trees and plants, with friendly animals like dogs and rabbits.

Yes, of course. Any effort that would give exposure in terms of information and importance is of big help. We are already on the Awareness process, and then the next step is Acceptance. There should be regular film festivals.

When do you feel most free?

I have just watched on YouTube the trailer of the movie you recently made with Nora Aunor. With beautiful sceneries and colorful costumes from Southern Philippines. Is it some kind of culture & nature film? Can you tell us more about it?

I watch movies. I love gardening. I do not have a manicured or land escaped garden. I prefer the natural and wild way plants take their shape. I have a green thumb; almost everything I touch actually grows!

Yes, this particular film was done mostly in TawiTawi, in the southernmost part of the Philippines. This is another wonderful realization for me to discover how beautiful and how diverse our culture is, how distinct our various languages, our people. Now I am 16

When I am doing a film. That is something that I always look forward to. It’s that moment when I am creating.

How do you relax?

Lastly, would you encourage your children to be filmmakers like yourself?


Dance of a Creative Mind By Tina Pecson Garcia

As long as they have the passion, talent and the discipline for it, yes, I will gladly encourage them.


Vics Magsaysay’s journey into the art world is like a graceful dance. Each step, each footwork sparked off and evolved into a new and exciting creative quest – a quest beginning with engineering, graphic design, photography, painting, sculpture onto the art of healing… and life! Vics was raised by a loving and caring mother after his father passed away months before he was born. Being a science teacher, Mom Doris (as she was fondly called) was instrumental in weaving his interest in the chemical and civil engineering fields. This background in physics and mathematics turbo-charged his learning of photography while he was working then as a house artist of a five-star hotel in Manila. He had a lot of creative ideas for graphic design which inspired him to buy a second-hand Pentax camera in 1974. The Life Library of Photography books speeded up his learning curve. He was so engrossed with his newly-found fascination so much so that his mind soaked up almost all the information of one book in just a night’s reading. 18

While his skills grew at a phenomenal rate, he started acquiring better cameras for his profession. A brand new Nikon camera was later followed by medium formats, a Mamiya RB 67 and a Hasselblad. Through continuous pictorials of fashion models, product and food shots, hotels and other subjects, his skills grew even more. In the mid-70’s, he was invited by a friend to attend a dinner meeting of the Camera Club of the Philippines, one of the most prestigious groups of photographers in the Philippines. One of the speakers mentioned his sojourn and experience in Sagada, a bucolic town in Mountain Province, north of Manila. The meticulous details of the speaker’s experience left a deep groove in Vics’s consciousness that moved him to explore Sagada and capture its rustic setting and hospitable people. Determined about where he wanted to go – on the rough roads of the countryside – he acquired an on-off road motorcycle.“Off-road or dirtbike riding taught me to be specially aware of the Now. The mind has to be focused at the moment. If not, the

result would be catastrophic.” It was a year out in the boondocks on weekends for Vics. With camera gears in tow, he embarked on his own expedition across the archipelago where he had to load and unload his dirt bike in ferry boats and “bancas”. The trips allowed his photography stock shots to grow in number while more and more magazines, hotels, publications and travel agencies got interested in his new photo library. A year after these jaunts around the homeland and other countries, Michael Friedl, a German photographer for Stern and Geo Magazines came to Manila. He was billeted at the Hyatt Regency Manila where Vics was working as a consultant art director. Being an avid photographer, the German manager of the hotel recommended him to become a liaison man for the month-long pictorial coverage of the country. It was here where Vics took sharp cognizance of all the steps and moves of how a professional travel and nature photographer translates his creative expression into great photographs. The experience encouraged Vics to visit other places in the Philippines with ever more frequencies and an added dimension of creativity. For him, “A week

without being in the countryside or nature is like a fish out of water.” From Batanes to the Ilocos region, Central Luzon to the Bicol region, Visayas to Mindanao provinces, he captured its ineffable beauties and their folks on celluloid. “To gain rapport with children and their parents, I saw to it that I always have some goodies or smiles to share with them. Being sincere plays a vital role. I have to fulfill my promise of sending them their photos. On my next visit they respect me more and become sort of a family member than a mere photographer to them,” Vics says. His images graced the front pages of Mabuhay, the inflight magazine of Philippine Air Lines. During the inaugural flight of PAL to Chicago in 1983, the nation’s flag-carrier embarked on a photo exhibit at the Hyatt Regency Chicago showcasing Vics’s images of our country’s destinations and peoples. From photography, Vics’s interest shifted to the deeper nature of man, his mind and consciousness. He attended many seminars about alternative healing, consciousness and transpersonal development. Being a graphic designer skillful in conceptualizing logos, he 19

decided to do some sculptures and paintings to make these abstract ideas even more concrete for people to see. These interests paved way for a series of oneperson sculpture and painting exhibits in Manila and Brunei. Vics left Manila for the US in 2000 bringing with him more than eight thousand color slides. “These photos compiled for almost three decades will serve as my memoir as well as a memento of my country’s (the Philippines) awesome natural charm and its cordial people,” he quipped. While in the US, Vics had several one-person/joint art and photo exhibitions. He is one of the very few Filipinos in America who received a Durfee Foundation Artist Grant for his exhibit: Images highlighting UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in the Philippines. Four years ago, he received his doctorate degree in clinical hypnotherapy. He explains, “Almost all of the root causes of dis-eases are lodged in our

mind. When we treat the mind, we heal the body.” To date his unrelenting drive to freeze moments of time in his camera has never waned…this time in memory cards instead of films. Be it in the Philippines or other countries, his eyes are trained to explore the innate splendor of nature and its creatures…the people and their culture…aware of man’s consciousness each time. The dance is not over yet for Vics Magsaysay, and for us Filipinos, wherever we may be in the world… another song…another season…another dance, awaits each one of us as we share our creative and impressive “footworks” with our home, our country, and to the world. God bless our Philippines!

(For more of his art, nature and travel photos, please click




Ambassador Leslie J. Baja (on the right) with Swiss Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer

Interview with Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland & Liechtenstein

His Excellency Leslie J. Baja By Rachel Hansen Arriving in Bern one sunny day in early May, I was overwhelmed and enchanted by the city’s natural beauty. Founded in 1191, it is easy to understand why it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Anywhere you look, around its medieval arcades, the majestic river Aare encircling the city, the magnificent fountains and towers, it almost felt like being in a fairy tale land. Armed with a tourist map in one hand, I decided to walk from the Central station to the Philippine Embassy with destination Kirchenfeldstrasse. I later discovered it was a relaxing one-hour promenade, and was rewarded by the colorful sights of flowers blooming everywhere - magnolias, lilacs, tulips, chestnut trees and cherry blossoms. Crossing the bridge felt like a great adventure – I heard the sound of a waterfall coming from somewhere.

Fort Santiago, Manila


It was easy to find the Embassy because one can see the Philippine flag from afar. I was greeted warmly by our youthful and vibrant Ambassador to Switzerland, His Excellency, Leslie Baja, who proudly showed me around the Embassy building, an Italian neo-renaissance structure, with an array of impressive Philippine artworks adorning its walls. It was a very enjoyable afternoon talking to our Ambassador to Switzerland, who is also accredited to Liechtenstein. 23

Why and when did you decide to become a diplomat?

Basically I think there is some family reason for that. One of my uncles was an ambassador and my great uncle was also an ambassador. As a young boy, I went to Switzerland to visit my aunt who was a UN diplomat in Geneva. That made a great and lasting impression on me. Thirty three years later, I came back to Switzerland as an Ambassador, it felt like a homecoming to me. I joined the Foreign Service in 1986, during the first Aquino administration. In 2011, in the second Aquino administration, I was appointed ambassador.

Can you tell us some highlights in your career so far?

-I consider our Community outreach activities here in Switzerland very meaningful. Our kababayans in this country are widely spread out. What we try to do is to establish personal contact with them by attending community functions and other events. We network, reach out and get acquainted with them in different levels and if necessary lend our moral support. This year, on June 9, here in the canton of Bern we have one joint Independence Day celebration with the whole Filipino community coming from various parts of Switzerland. This will also be a fundraising event, spearheaded by the community in Bern, to donate the proceeds to a project started by the Zuellig Family Foundation in Samar- which is a maternal health program that is geared to help attain one of the Millennium Development Goals. Next year, we plan to organize this community gathering in another city, probably in Zurich. We plan to meet in different cities every year, to give each community a chance to host this annual event, to instill a sense of Filippinism and nationalism in our kababayans, wherever they are. Everything should not just happen in the capital, each community can initiate an event and the Embassy will always be there to support. We try to be present and being together with the community as much as possible. We like to get closer to them, so they become closer to us. I believe in the saying, “Kung sama sama, kayang kaya”. Whatever we do, when we are together, we can do even better.

How is Filipino-Swiss trade developing?

When it comes to trade relations, the annual bilateral trade (in favor of Switzerland) reached 500 million dollars, with an investments of 2 billion dollars. There are about 60 Swiss companies in the Philippines 24

employing about 12,000 Filipinos. There is Holcim, the biggest cement company in the world, pharmaceutical companies like Novartis & Roche, banks like UBS, Credit Suisse, food companies like Nestle, etc. We are still trying to attract more investment to the Philippines and for the last nine months, we have succeeded in attracting four Swiss companies to locate to the Philippines, where we have a strong competitive advantage with the growing young population, it is cheaper than most countries, the Filipinos are hardworking, trainable, flexible. Human resource is our biggest strength. No Filipino company has been established in Switzerland so far, except for one or two small grocery stores owned by Filipinos. We like to see a two-way business relationship become a reality one day. The Philippines has to create awareness of what products to offer, must have the capacity to supply the products, and the ability to maintain a high standard of quality, not only in the Swiss market but in the rest of Europe. We all know that Europeans do not mind paying a lot of money for an excellent quality product. At the same time, this is also matter of orientation and culture. We Filipinos tend to look East rather than West - we look at the U.S. rather than Europe for economic, cultural exchanges. But we must try to change that. We must encourage and help Filipino companies on how they can export to Europe and European companies to import from the Philippines. Then there’s tourism. Our new tourism logo is very catchy, as you have probably seen on CNN. Getting more tourists from Europe should not be a difficult task - we have fantastic sights, high standard accommodations and the “local inhabitants” are our greatest asset and attraction.

What is your opinion about the relations in general between the Philippines and Switzerland? Philippine-Swiss relations dates back to the year 1862 when Switzerland opened its first Asian consulate in Manila. Since then, there is a flourishing mutual interest in cultural and economic fields. I like to think there is good harmony and synergy between our countries, and it is even getting better. Also, the Filipinos here are considered one the most respected foreign nationals and because of that, I think the Filipinos themselves are the better ambassadors of our country.

To celebrate this milestone of our 150 years PhilippineSwiss relations, we are bringing in the artist Manny Baldemor to do an exhibition starting this coming July. Why Manny? Because he actually studied art in Basel in 1994 and this particular art exhibition is a good collection of his paintings – a mix of Philippine and Swiss art – a real tribute to the Philippine-Swiss relations. It is aptly called “Images of my Homeland and Switzerland”. After Bern, we are negotiating to move this art exhibition to Basel and then possibly to Geneva.

healthcare sector, given the lack of nurses here.

What is the approximate number of Filipino citizens living in Switzerland? What is your general opinion of their working conditions?

Switzerland ranked as the 4th biggest source of tourists going to the Philippines from Europe - about 21,000 Swiss nationals visited the Philippines last year. There are some Swiss nationals married to Filipinos who own resorts in the Philippines, which makes it even more desirable for their friends and extended families to visit. Mövenpick, a well-known Swiss hotel chain, has taken over Cebu Hilton and now they intend to invest 350 million USD to build more Mövenpick hotels in Makati, Palawan and Manila, which hopefully will increase the number of Swiss tourists in the future.

There are approximately 11,000 Filipinos in Switzerland and they enjoy one of the best working and living conditions in Europe, the country itself having a very high standard of living, the locals well-known for their clock-work efficiency, here it is very safe and comfortable to move around, the tram is a very popular public transport used by the majority. The happiness indicator is one of the highest in the world. We are surrounded by other EU countries which are far more affordable, but the Filipinos can manage to live well here, and still manage to send some money home, at the same time paying their taxes that will lead to benefit them in the future.

What fields do you consider of particular interest for Filipinos looking for employment / work permits in Switzerland?

Switzerland is in dire need of health care and IT workers. However, given its agreements with the EU and EFTA, the free movement of natural persons from third countries like the Philippines is limited. However, we are able to promote Au Pairs to Switzerland, having been the first country to have the ban lifted by the Philippines. Since 2010, several hundred Filipino Au Pairs have come to Switzerland to stay with host families for a maximum of one year. A majority of these are nursing graduates who are preferred by these families who have children to be taken care of. We have also an agreement on the exchange of professional and technical trainees with Switzerland. Through this agreement, we are able to arrange for the employment for a maximum of 18 months, trainees in various fields to work in Swiss companies and institutions. Again, a great number are in the

What opportunities are available for Filipino students at Swiss universities?

For bachelor degrees, one has to have facility of German, French or Italian. For masteral and doctoral degrees, there are courses conducted in English which Filipino students could avail of.

How is Swiss tourism to the Philippines developing? What potential do you see in this field?

Any special message to the Filipinos in Europe? I would like to see a more united front for Filipinos not only in Europe but in the rest of the world. As I said before “Sama sama Kayang kaya”. Working hand in hand, we can be a force that can accomplish much, together we are strong. There is an organization here called Noi-P, established, among others, to inspire the second generation Pinoys to stick together, to organize and support each other in various events and projects, to learn more about their roots and to spread their wings to achieve more awareness and appreciation of their country of origin. Such organizations should be given much credit and encouragement.

On a personal note, you are also married to a career diplomat who is on leave. How is your wife adjusting to being a full-time housewife and mother in Switzerland? I think my wife is enjoying her present role. We have two children, 13 and 9 years old, both attending local public schools here, it’s a great way for them to integrate and it’s a lot of fun too. Altogether, it’s a blessing and a great honor to represent the Philippines in Switzerland.


Ambassador Baja with wife and children

FAMILY BACKGROUND Born in 1965, Manila. Married to Noralyn Jubaira-Baja, Career Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs. Two children. PRESENT POSITION Ambassador of the Philippines to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, 25 July 2011 to present PAST POSITIONS Assistant Secretary (Director General) for European Affairs Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, Feb 2010- July 2011 Acting Assistant Secretary for European Affairs October 2009 to February 2010 Executive Director (Deputy Director General), Office of European Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila November 2008 to October 2009 Minister and Consul General, Embassy of the Philippines, Berlin, July 2004 to 24 September 2008 First Secretary and Consul, Embassy of the Philippines, Berlin February 2003 to June 2004 Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Embassy of the Philippines, Berlin September 2002 to February 2003 Director, Passport Division, Office of Consular Affairs 26

Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, March 2000 to September 2002 Second Secretary & Consul, Embassy of the Philippines, Athens January 1996 to March 2000 Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Embassy of the Philippines, Athens June 1996 to September 1996 Third Secretary and Vice Consul, Embassy of the Philippines, Athens August 1993 to January 1996 Assistant Director, Office of U.N. and International Organizations Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila June 1990 to August 1993 Foreign Service Staff Employee, Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila January 1988 to June 1990 Casual Employee, Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila 29 September 1986 to January 1988 EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Master in Public Administration (30 units) University of the Philippines, 1992 Bachelor of Science in Political Science, University of the Philippines, 1986

Candy Gourlay Best selling author of Tall story Interviewed by Karlene Denolo in London Hello Candy. First of all, thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to meet up with me. Our R&W readers are very curious to know more about you and what it takes to be a best selling author. Tell us, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I wanted to become a writer from the day I realized that words made paragraphs and paragraphs made chapters and chapters made novels. I must have been about six and I was browsing through my

grandmother’s collection of Beverley Grey mystery novels. My grandmother belonged to a big family in Lanao that reserved higher education only for the boys. She was desperate to educate herself and read a lot. The Beverley Grey mysteries were a 1920s serial about a journalist who was striving to become a novelist, constantly meeting with rejection but never giving up.

Have you always been a writer by profession?

I became a journalist the day after I graduated from college (AB Communication Arts, Ateneo Class of 27

1984). But you couldn’t really live on a journalist’s salary so I learned to multi-task – I double sold my articles to foreign publications, I did a weekly cartoon strip for Mr & Ms Magazine, I took photographs, I wrote press releases for a publicist friend of mine, I scripted banter for singers in between songs at concerts, I even dubbed films with a fake American accent. Most recently I’ve been working as a web and graphic designer – skills that have turned out to be extremely useful now that I’m a published author.

How long does it take you to write a book? It takes me about a year. I have three other unpublished novels that I hope will see print someday.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

All the novels written so far have a common theme – separation. This is not deliberate on my part – it’s just seems to be a part of every story that I write. I guess so much of what I write comes from my own life experience and stuff I’ve witnessed as a journalist. A lot of my reportage after moving to England had to do with the migration phenomenon in the Philippines. For a couple of years I edited a magazine called Filipinos in Europe which allowed me to travel to different countries, interviewing people in Filipino communities. This made me acutely aware of the forces that drive Filipinos to leave home. In 2005, I wrote and presented a radio documentary for the BBC entitled ‘Motherless Nation’ – exploring the impact of migration on the children left behind. But it’s not just journalism that informs my books, my own father left the family in the eighties to work in Africa and the Middle East.

What do you think makes a good story?

There is a craft to telling a story, an art to keeping the reader engaged to the bitter end. But aside from craft I think the most important thing about a story is Truth – whatever genre you are writing, whether its scifi or fantasy or romance or thrillers – truth is what keeps a reader gripped. Truth in the sense that a 28

reader is totally transported, can totally believe what is happening.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? I wanted to write stories.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I recently found some email correspondence dating back to 2003 in which my sister told me about the death of Ujang Warlika, an Indonesian basketball player who was seven feet four inches tall. She said the problem with Ujang was that he wasn’t tall – he was a giant. He suffered from gigantism. The main character in my debut novel Tall Story is a boy who is eight feet tall. That exchange with my sister planted the germ of the idea – but it took me six years before I put pen to paper .

Do you have a specific writing style?

I suppose I do – when I write, I write for my reader, I do not write for myself. I am constantly hoping to surprise the reader, to keep him or her guessing, wondering, feeling, and seeing him or herself in my characters.

How did you come up with the title?

TALL Story was my working title from the very beginning. Some folks suggested I might think of something else – maybe evoking the Philippines like Banana Hearts or Coconut Nights something like that - but Tall Story was just perfect.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Some writers think it’s uncool to embed a message in their books.But I think Tall Story does have a message. It’s that you can’t judge anyone or anything by its appearance. This would resonate with anyone who might have found themselves pre-defined by other people based on their looks, their colour or their accent – it would certainly resonate with anyone trying to fit into another culture.

Are some events in the book based on events in your own life?

who I will be loving next! Reading is a moveable feast!

Well, I know what it’s like to be left behind by a parent because my father worked abroad a long time ago. I also know what it’s like to leave behind those I love – I had to leave my family behind when I chose to marry an Englishman. And though I’ve had a great life here in England, my writing shows what a traumatic impact this has had on me. There is a line in the book that was lifted from a letter that I wrote to my brother and his wife after their newborn son died. I just felt that even if I didn’t know my lost nephew, I missed him so much.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I’ve been trying to get published for nine years now. This is the fourth novel I’ve written. It takes me about a year to write a book and then I send it out to three or four agents. Always, I got rejections. Then I won a competition called Undiscovered Voices – this prompted al iterary agent to sign me up. But all the rejections had trained me to expect the worse. So immediately after finishing my last novel, Volcano Child, I just turned around and started a new novel, Tall Story – which turned out to be my debut novel. So my advice to most writers is: If at first you don’t succeed, write another book. Practice makes perfect. Well, I’m not perfect – but I am certainly a better writer for having written so much.

What books have most influenced your life most?

My mother was very nationalistic and encouraged me to read Horacio de la Costa and Filipino authors like NVM Gonzalez. But the best Filipino writing was in short form – we don’t have a tradition of longer forms like novels. I was an ardent fan of Enid Blyton as a child, and as a teenager I discovered Dr Seuss. It made me want to write for children – I never really wanted to write for adults. I also loved Charles Dickens and Samuel Clemens.

Who are your favourite authors and what is your favourite book?

This is an impossible question because it changes as I change. As a child I loved Louisa May Alcott (I wanted to be Jo March in Little Women, who wanted to become an author). At the moment, I am binging on Toni Morrison – what a genius writer! Who knows

I think it’s just the daily grind – finding the time to write, making the time, knowing it will take a LOT of time – it takes a lot of faith in your own abilities to believe that you can finish a novel. I do web and graphic design as a freelance designer and I manage a holiday cottage that my husband and I keep on the south coast of England. These are my day jobs. It is very frustrating to have to do the day job when all you want to do is write the next chapter.

I learned that I could do it.

Future plans?

I have a two book deal, with the second book due on the 1st of December so I am writing the next book as fast as I can. When I complete this contract, I will return to the three other novels I have written and prepare them for submission to publishers. I am very hopeful that they will all see print someday!

Do you have any advice for other writers, especially Filipino writers?

We Filipinos don’t have a tradition of writing long forms like the novel. We are great short story writers, poets, essayists and song-writers – but novels? You can count on one hand the great novelists of Philippine literature. Does it have to do with attention span? With short termism? You can see it in the way our films are written – oftentimes, the writing flags near the end, as if the screenwriter ran out of steam and rushed to end the story. My publisher in the Philippines tells me he’s desperately looking for novelists but finding none. Why? The truth is I didn’t use to think I could write novels. But living in the UK taught me to be patient, and it taught me to accept and process criticism. To get through a long piece of work, you need to be selfcritical … and we have a very kind culture – so we are not used to criticism. We need to toughen up and be tougher on ourselves. Think of the stories we could tell!

Find out more about Candy Gourlay at: 29

The Philippine Education Society in Stockholm, Sweden Celebrates with A Fundraising Ball By Hanna Stenbacka

The Philippine Education Society PES was born on the 24th of March 2009 with the initiative of the Philippine Ambassador to Sweden Maria Zeneida Angara Collinson. The aim of PES is to promote vocational and college education for needy and deserving Filipinos with the end view of enhancing their knowledge and expertise. PES currently supports two projects. First, the BahayTuluyan non-government organization that provides a variety of programs aimed at preventing and responding to abuse and exploitation of children in the Philippines. Currently, PES supports the BahayTuluyan’s Junior Health Workers Training Program which teaches street children in Manila about the issues of health and sanitation, via an approach where the children teach and help each other.

Second, after the Philippine government ban on au pairs was lifted, PES decided they would support a PES Au Pair Projectwhich ensures that Filipina au pairs who stay in Sweden have anenrichingand enjoyable experiencewhile they develop good Swedish language skills through language courses.

Joveth Jorquia and Johanna Nugas opened the cultural show with a romantic duet. The Euro-Asian Dance Group under Ditas Enström performed traditional Filipino dances, enjoyably vibrant and colorful. Fiona Ganeteg inspired the crowd with her fantastic

voice and performed Kundiman and other songs. Ricky Carranza, who joined the event from Finland performed street-dance he was actually schooled by the same teachers that taught Michael Jackson. The PES Fundraising Ball ended successfully with wide smiles and an open dance floor. For more information about PES and our cause please contact the board members. BahayTuluyan website:

On the 19th of May 2012, the Philippine Education Society hosted their first Fundraising Ball. The venue where it was held, Odd Fellow Orden, is located in central Stockholm, close to Kundsträdgården. A beautiful entrance with chandeliers and old fancy furniture welcomed the guests. The women were dressed in filipinanas or dresses and the men were in their suits. Rachel Hansen and Hanna Stenbacka were the Master of Ceremonies for the event. The former Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines Mrs. Inger Ultvedt,

The members of PES together with the guest speaker, former Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines, Inger Ultvedt


the Guest Speaker, delivered a warm message, reminiscing on her stay in the Philippines and the Swedish-Filipino relationship in terms of business and culture. Indeed, her passion for the Philippines was evident. There were auctions and great lottery prizes, including a food basket from MaiMai and a trip to Paris.

From left to right: Rachel Hansen, Hanna Stenbacka & PES President Nolo Buhay

Letty Simpson, Consul Lisbeth Almonte, Ditas Enström

Members of the Euro-Asian Dance company


A successful launch of the

Filipino-Czech Association (FCA)

in Prague

By Rebecca A. Garcia Photos from the Philippine Embassy in Prague On 26 May 2012, the Philippine Embassy personnel led by Ambassador Evelyn D. Austria-Garcia attended the launching party of the Filipino-Czech Association (FCA) at Na Marjance Hall. The FCA Launching Party was organized by the newly elected Officers and Board of Directors of the Filipino Community in the Czech Republic, in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy and other private and non-governmental groups. In her welcome speech, Ambassador Garcia congratulated the officers and members of the Filipino community for their continued hard work and dedication in reviving the association which was inactive for a long time. The Ambassador also explained the role of the Philippine Embassy in relation to the Filipino community as well as the Embassy’s future projects that would involve the Filipino community. The FCA President, Marison Rodriguez thanked the Embassy for its support and cooperation. She also explained the membership process of the association, 32

its importance and benefits, underlining the friendship and camaraderie among Filipinos and Czechs. Mr. Ramon Gaspar, the Embassy’s Cultural Officer, discussed his role in relation with the Filipino community and stressed the importance of cooperation and support between the Filipino Community and the Embassy. A mini Philippine Santacruzan highlighted the launching party where participants included members of the Filipino community and other nationalities. Members of the Filipino community also showed their singing and dancing abilities to delight the audience. A Czech guest, married to a Filipina, also gave a short presentation on his experiences in the Philippines and with the Philippine culture. Around 187 guestsFilipinos, Czechs and other nationalities - enjoyed the disco-dancing that followed the program. The Filipino-Czech Association (FCA) was founded last January and was officially registered on 5 March. Source: Philippine Embassy, Prague

Street dance for life

Ricky Carranza - Street dancer, teacher and choreographer Dance is an integral part of Filipino culture which sees no boundary. “Poor or rich, everyone can dance. We are all the same on the dance floor” explains Ricky Carranza, a top-class Filipino street dance teacher, who now lives in Finland with his family. Ricky is among the first batch of street dancers who set up the Philippine street dance scene in the early 80s. In fact, he is the last of that legendary batch who is active in performing and teaching. Born and grew up in a notorious slum area in Quezon City, Ricky learned how to cope up with life and use his dance skill to make things better. "I wasn’t born poor. My father was US navy. We are funded by the American government. But, I was surrounded by less fortunate neighbors and we share common dreams. I learned so much from them which prepared and helped me

later when I experienced poverty myself”he narrates with a low tone. He has worked for the Philippine television with his legendary crew “The Funk System” for a number of years in the first half of the 80s as a dancer and choreographer. At the height of his promising career, however, Ricky quits dance, to pursue a simple and purposeful life. “There is a dark side in being famous and successful which corrupts people. The power I had because of my skills opened many doors of opportunity: money, more work, fame, girls. I got confused. It was overwhelming for a young mind. I followed what everyone was doing and I thought it was the right thing to do. Pretty soon, I was going the wrong direction. Then, I remember what my mother used to tell me – to live with a good conscience. I 33

remember my family and start thinking seriously of the future. I decided to quit and search for the meaning of life." Ricky was in his early twenties when he dropped his blossoming show business career. For 10 years he tried to live a rather basic and ascetic life concentrating on helping people. He got involved with worldwide missionary works. In the latter part of the 90s, however, he met an American artist/painter in Florence, Italy, who made him re-evaluate his direction. “You are an artist, why are you not using your talent?” inquires his American friend. Soon, he picked up his dance career and since then he is unstoppable in promoting the positive side of street dance. "I am born to be a street dancer. I must dance. People can be helped in many ways. When I dance or teach, I make people happy. That’s already a ministry right there. I must go back to my own people.” When asked how did he learn to dance, Ricky replies with a jolly smile, “From the television. I watched and


imitated everything I saw on the screen. We did not have a video recorder then, so I had to be quick and rely so much on my memory. I danced and trained everyday to somehow copy those dance steps.” His neighbors, initially, were not supportive of his dance interest. He was fragilely thin and sickly. “Forget dance, you have no future with that, and it will not take you anywhere” exclaims a taunting neighbor. But, Ricky did not stop. He pressed on to follow the beat of his heart and continued dancing despite the criticism and discouragement around him. Today, Ricky is a well-known, sought-after dance teacher and choreographer all over the globe. He has students in Italy, Belgium, Slovakia, Canada, Finland, Portugal, Netherlands, Russia, Estonia, Switzerland, and USA. “I dance with a mission – that is, if you believe so much in your dream and pursue it with passion, relentlessly, it will eventually come true, with God’s blessings.“

A Finnish film production is now working on making a documentary on his life. It is intended for international-release. This is just one of the numerous projects that Ricky is involved with. He is also in the pre-production stage of a fiction featurefilm, which he personally wrote. Ricky has definitely a story to tell and a multi-talent package to share. He is looking for people to work with. “I am looking for partners, collaborators and investors who share the same vision of helping promote Filipino talents in a global scale. I work with high-caliber dancers/ artists and award-winning Filipino film-makers. We have what it takes. We just need to put our heads and hands together to make it happen. We are raising 100,000 euro for the estimated total budget of this film. We have a wide spectrum of talents and we already have some sponsors, but, we need more investors. Donations are also accepted. Even a 10euro contribution will be highly appreciated. Our film is going to be the first Filipino street dance movie ever to be made by genuine street dancers for worldwide release. This is history in the making. Well-known Filipino street-dance crews are part of this project like: the Manouvres, Philippines All stars, Team Vibe, Orange dancers, and more. Come be a part of it and join our efforts.” Ricky invites with hopeful voice and enthusiasm.

In 2008, he established his own dance school in the second biggest city in Finland called Espoo. "Through Style Dance Industry, my goal is to bring fresh new winds to Finland. At the same time, I want to open up doors of opportunities for other Filipino dancers, particularly the less fortunate ones who are stuck in the country because of economical barrier. I want to make and use my school as a stepping-stone for them. My ultimate goal is to set up a no-profit street dance center in the Philippines, specifically for impoverished street kids and connect it with my dance school in Finland. There I can teach, train teachers and eventually help them find employment abroad through my school and network. With all the travels and experiences I have had, I think I have a lot of things to share with them for a hopeful and brighter future. I owe it to them. The movie project is actually for that purpose. The proceed will go to establishing that dream center.” Ricky added.

You can contact Ricky at His dance school website is:


Norwegian Continental Shelf as a Senior Flow Assurance Engineer. Pab's main responsibility is to keep the natural gas flowing to satisfy the 20% total demand of United Kingdom. Ormen Lange is a deepwater subsea development that has the following challenges; highly irregular seabed; narrow weather window for installation, hydrate formation due to subzero environment, Long offset control and High well flow rates. I, (Josie) used to work as a Project Cost Estimator in building construction, and did not work for 10 years, in order to take care of the children. Now I work as a Junior Project Cost Estimator in Oil and Gas, providing cost information for Management to decide the economical feasibility of a project.

How are the salary level and working conditions?

The Angelo family

Filipino expat life in Stavanger - Oil Capital of Norway By Luz Bergersen & Rene Ikdal The engineer husband and wife team of Pabs Dionisio Angelo, and Josephine Cristobal Angelo (both 41 years old) charmingly allowed Roots&Wings Stavanger Rep, Hon. Consul General, Reneé Ikdal, an insight into their expat life in this oil-rich capital in Norway. Pabs, a chemical engineer, works with process engineering and flow assurance engineering; and Josephine, a civil engineer, works as a project cost estimator.They are parents to 10-year old twins, Angelika Mae Angelo and Jeriko Angelo.

Please tell us about yourselves?

We both come from Malolos, Bulacan, and we were classmates in M.H. del Pilar High School in that province.

When did you come to Norway, why and how?

We came in Dec 2008. I was working in Shell Philippines Exploration, and was posted in Norske 36

Shell AS, as an expatriate. Then I brought my family to Norway in May 2009. I came to Stavanger because the main headquarter of Norske Shell is located in Tananger, near Stavanger Norway.Both of us are now working with Norske Shell

How is the job/work?

Pabs is working for the Ormen Lange field in the

As an expat we receive the Philippine Pay Grade plus cost of living allowances. The company pays for the schooling, accommodation and home leave. Josie, as a contractor, receives almost the same net income! From that point of view, an experienced contractor engineer may be receiving twice as much. For her, rebuilding her knowledge and experience is a priority. Monetary benefits are only secondary, for now.

How long are you staying/or can stay in Stavanger? 3 years now since Dec 2008; 4 years on May 2013. We like to stay longer or permanently. Though Norway is a very expensive country; it has been voted by the UN every year as “the best country to live in”. Norway provides high wages, free health care, free Education, and a strong welfare system. This beautiful country is like the paradise created by God! It has beautiful natural landscape. In summer we enjoy biking, picnic, fishing, and boating. In winter we can go for snowboarding and ski. Activities that you cannot do in the Philippines!

Pabs Angelo for another two years. This is because of the value he has added to the company.

How do you find the local Filipino community? The Filipino community in Stavanger is very close. Many activities are happening each month, either a party or small gatherings in a nearby park. Sometimes there are sports tournaments like basketball, badminton and volleyball. And whenever Manny Pacquiao has a match, the Filipinos will always get together and cheer him until about 3 am in the morning. Hurrah Pacman!

Is there room for other Filipino professionals in Stavanger? How can others apply to come and work here? What is the road to employment? what fields of work are open for employment opportunities? Majority of the big oil and gas companies are in Stavanger, so there are many projects in Norway with limited number of engineers. If you are a subsea engineer, pipeline engineer, process engineer or a flow assurance engineer you may contact me for job opportunities. Or you may try to look at the website, www.Shell. com or The hiring company will arrange or provide support in applying for the working visa. may provide information on living condition in Norway. All engineering fields in Oil Gas Business are in demand in Norway.

Is knowledge of Norwegian necessary, to start with?


NO, this is not Necessary in Oil and Gas. Norwegian language is sometimes a challenge for Filipino Engineers who want to work in Norway. For

How do you find the work situation?

The work is excellent! It is challenging but not stressful. Since home assistance (like maids) are very expensive in Norway, all parents are expected to take care of their children. Couples are expected to go home at 4pm and the company does not force employee to work overtime. Note: Norske Shell is trying to extend the assignment of 37

engineering projects in Oil and Gas, engineering documents are in English Language. But routine operating procedures are written in the Norwegian Language. This is to ensure that operating technicians working on a daily basis in a platform, properly understand routine procedures. You probably do not want to blew up a platform because the local misunderstand the steps in the operating procedure In other professions, for ex, Nursing, civil works etc. are all in Norwegian Language.

How do you look at the Philippines from here; the life, work possibilities and the future there?

The life in the Philippines gets harder each year, growing populations with limited opportunities to everyone. As many Filipinos become hungry, so as the number of crimes increases. Ninety million Filipinos trying to get the best quality of life in a very small country with only two oil and gas industry. My future in Shell Philippine Exploration is assured.

How is life as an expatriate Filipino?

The life of an expat is extravagant! But you have to be really good to justify your existence in the company. Also it is not everlasting because expats are expensive to maintain. The expatriate program of the company has a maximum number of years of assignment in a country. After that, the expat has to apply to the global manpower resourcing or go home to his country. The salary is not that high compared to the local consultant but the benefits are very appealing. The social welfare system of Norway is good though income tax is extremely high. The government provides free education and medical assistance. They even provide monthly allowances to children! Wages of workers are generally high. Therefore almost everyone can afford things. The crime rate is very low as well. Therefore one should not be worried about burglary The locals are very polite and friendly. They always smile when you pass them by. We enjoy living in Norway. We hope we could stay and stay for good...

Northern lights

Aurora Borealis By Anna Theresa Andersson


Sometimes we come across things in our lives that make us pause for a moment. It can be a name in a newspaper, a person passing by who makes you think of someone from your schooldays, a song that you recognize but can’t tell from where. It can also be things that happen in the sky.

sceneries – he enjoys watching birds and watching heavenly bodies. Now he was looking up. It did not take very long for me to recognize the brilliantly colored explosion that covered the sky. My father only said one word: ”Norrsken“ which is the word for Northern Lights in Swedish. Or Aurora Borealis.

When I was nine years old, we were driving home with the whole family from the supermarket with our car filled with groceries. After awhile, my father suddenly stopped the car and parked at the side of the road. He stepped out of the car and the rest of us followed him. My father loves nature and natural

I will try to explain this celestial phenomena for those of you who have never experienced it. One can describe the Aurora movements over the sky as like a curtain that has been caught by the wind. Its intensity changes from moment to moment, just like its position in the sky. It is mostly greenish in color but it can also 39

name for both northern and southern lights is the Polar Light, which can be seen around the two magnetic poles of the Earth, where the electrically charged particles from the sun accelerates to the speed for the Aurora Borealis to appear.

be reddish at times. The Northern Lights is like an oil painting in the sky, so beautiful you cannot take your eyes off it. I remember those many evenings when I as a kid would press my face to the window and stare at the beautiful scenery in the sky. When the world famous Swedish botanist, Carl von Linne, went on his expeditions around northern Sweden, it often happened that he would see the Northern Lights. It was the time when nobody knew what caused this phenomena. At that time, people were superstitious, so their explanations were fanciful. Even longer than that, when people believed that the Earth was flat and that every ocean was surrounded by big fires, a common explanation of the Aurora Borealis was that the light from these fires were reflected in the sky which caused the phenomena. There were also strange speculations about glaciers that gathered so much force that they finally became luminous. Or that it was people in the mountains who ran around with torches and searched for their reindeers. Some people in Scandinavia even went so far that they named the Northern Lights “Sillblixt” (sill=herring; blixt= lightning), because they believed that the northern light was a reflection of the big shoal of herring in the sea. So, if the Northern Lights are not caused by any glaciers or big shoals of fish, then what causes it? Well, the Northern Lights is made up of particles from the sun that collides with the Earths magnetic field. Some people say that the Northern Lights come with some kind of sound, but there are no scientific proof to it. But let us not forget that the Northern Lights which we see here in the northern hemisphere, has a counterpart, which is the Southern Light, which can be seen from the southern hemisphere. The generic 40

Here in northern Sweden, magnetic midnight usually occurs at ten o’clock in the evening. That is when one in general can see the Northern Lights in the northerly parts of this far stretched country. Many of us are not aware that the Northern Lights always occur somewhere in the sky, but it is not easy to see when it is too bright. For those of you who want to experience the Northern Lights, there are some special trips available, mostly from Iceland, which is located close to the polar circle. Even now that I am already 16 years old, I am still fascinated by the peculiar scenery of the Northern Lights. Yes I am so lucky to have experienced it so many times, but each time I still feel very happy when the Aurora paints the sky. It is so simple, so mystical, so enchanting. I do not question the scientific explanation of it all, but sometimes I still cannot help but wonder. The author of this article is 16-years old Anna Tagaro Andersson. She does not mind being called “Uggla” which is the Swedish word for “Owl”. Anna likes discussions and getting involved in all sorts of things, getting to know people, hugging, writing, learning, drinking tea with friends, listening to music, going to concerts, festivals and travelling. In the future, Anna would like to be a volunteer helping other people, writing books, seeing the world and she plans to study Physics.

“I look for the light” Dr Jose P Rizal’s own words in a letter he sent to Father Pastells while in Dapitan Researched and Compiled By: LINDA D. LAZARO Reference: “ Lolo Jose” On page one of the Gaceta de Manila, dated July 7, 1892, the decree signed by the Gov. Eulogio Despujol came out, deporting Dr. Jose Rizal in Dapitan. It was to last for four years. Very little is known about this four years of banishment in Dapitan. The place of banishment was a Boholano settlement in Pre- Hispanic time. One of the islands north of Mindanao - Dapitan means ‘’to invite’’. Rizal was 31 years old when he was deported - July 17, 1892. It was seven in the evening and his first steps were made in a dark, lonely shore, by the light of a lamp. This part of Rizal’s life was to last four years…. A “darkness” in his life. The climate, the loneliness and solitude, the feeling of injustice, the separation from his family and friends, hopelessness of the situation he was in….

good nature, natural charisma, his propriety, neat and stylish look became his first weapons toward that “way to light“ because he gradually won the confidence of Captain Carnicero, the politicomilitary commandant of Dapitan. When he won a lottery ticket, he bought a property- an estate called Talisay. He was on his way towards the search for the “ light“


He told his sister Narcisa “In this place, all was quiet, desolate. I gazed around me and saw above and below, only inky darkness. I felt so alone, forsaken. I thought the sky had covered me.” Inspite of all these “darkness” his convictions remained firm. He was determined to look for the “light“. His

1. He built the following houses, all made of bamboo, wood and nipa a. Square house- for his residence b. Octagonal house- for the young boys he was teaching and for patients who were recuperating from operations he had performed. c. Hexagonal house- for his poultry and breeding place for his dogs, rabbits and cats. d. Round house- for patients from out of town. 2. He planted hundreds of mango, cacao, coffee, coconut, atis, lanzones, langka, santol, macopa, 500 pineapple crowns and thousands of abaca plants. His students helped him, in payment for the education he gave them. 41

3. He started a school for the boys where he devised his own teaching aids, used natural specimens and translated different textbooks. He gave practical lessons in Botany and Zoology by going hunting in the woods, exploring caves, digging for seashells, diving for rare fish, collecting flora, butterflies and assorted bugs, He sent these different species to leading European scientists such as Meyer, Heller, Kiel, Knuttel and Joest. 4. He provided gym classes where the boys were trained in wrestling, boxing, fencing and weightlifting. To make the boys brave and courageous on dark nights, he would tell stories of ghosts, vampires and monsters. Then he would send them one by one into the dark night on errands. He also taught them how to use the knife, axe, gun and sword. 5. He built the waterwork system of the gravity type, including a swimming pool complete with waterfall. 6. He invented a wooden machine to manufacture bricks that could turn out 6,000 pieces a day. 7. He built a public fountain of cemented bricks with water flowing out of a lion’s mouth he sculpted in clay.

He gave the Dapitanos GLORIOUS LIGHT !


In 1895, Josephine Leopoldine Taufer arrived in Dapitan with her stepfather, George Taufer who had come to consult Dr. Rizal about his eyes.

To his family, Rizal wrote “ Treat her as a person whom I esteem and value much. And whom I would not like to be unprotected or abandoned” Rizal had wanted to marry her and had written the Bishop of Cebu on March 6, to request that the pertinent authorization for the wedding be issued. But it could only be done in the church and the clergy would permit it only if he retracted his religious errors.

8. He paid for the town’s first lighting system. 9. He made the giant relief map of the Philippines in the town plaza with the help of Fr. Sanchez. (This map is being maintained by the government as a memorial to Rizal)

Dr. Rizal boarded the “ Espaňa“ at midnight of July 31, 1896. This was his last day in Dapitan. Before leaving, he set fire to the “Kiosko“. This chapter of his life was over. He was thirty-five years old.

10. He set up a commercial firm to promote business enterprise among the Dapitanos so they would be more independent and less exploited

Food For Thoughts: We all have some “darkness“ in our lives- will we go down on our knees, down the drain? Will we drug our minds senseless, go into crimes, commit suicide?

12. He started a hammock-weaving industry among the poor people. 13. He initiated a drainage project for the sanitation of the town.

Photos by Aurelio Maria R. Rodriguez

Josephine became the LIGHT in Rizal’s personal life. She was attracted by his gallantry, he was smittened by her charm. In a poem he had composed, he told her ‘’Don’t forget that on these shores, beats for you, the heart of one.”

By the end of 1895, Josephine gave birth to a premature baby boy. They called him Peter. But he did not live long. The baby was buried under the hillside “Kiosko“ Rizal had built for his son’s playhouse.

11. He started the abaca trading and taught the fishermen how to weave a better variety of net.

A glimpse of Cebu's Sinulog Festival 2012

Or Will we do it Rizal’s way- When “darkness“ comes our way, let us stand straight, look for a glimmer of light, strive our best to add more fuel to that light and watch it glow. It would be fun, don’t you think?

14. He provided medical services to the people often free of charge, with free medicine in most cases. Dr. Jose P. Rizal did not only look for a simple light. 42


About The Sinulog Festival Words compiled by Jonathan Arevalo Coo The Sinulog festival is one of the grandest and most colorful festivals in the Philippines with a very rich history. The main festival is held each year on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City to honor the Santo Niño, or the child Jesus, who used to be the patron saint of the whole province of Cebu (since in the Catholic faith Jesus is not a saint, but God). It is essentially a dance ritual which remembers the Filipino people’s pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity. The festival features some the country’s most colorful displays of pomp and pageantry: participants garbed in bright-colored costumes dance to the rhythm of drums, trumpets, and native gongs. The streets are usually lined with vendors and pedestrians all wanting to witness the street-dancing. Smaller 44

versions of the festival are also held in various parts of the province, also to celebrate and honor the Santo Niño. There is also a Sinulog sa Kabataan, which is performed by the youths of Cebu a week before the Grand Parade. Aside from the colorful and festive dancing, there is also the SME trade fair where Sinulog features Cebu export quality products and people around the world flock on the treasures that are Cebu. Recently, the cultural event has been commercialized as a tourist attraction and instead of traditional street-dancing from locals, Sinulog also came to mean a contest featuring contingents from various parts of the country. The Sinulog Contest is traditionally held in the Cebu City Sports Complex, where most of Cebu’s major provincial events are held.

Agri-Tourism of Western Visayas

Guimaras Island Enticingly rustic

Home to the best mangoes in the world By Wenceslao E. Mateo Jr.


A boat from mainland Iloilo City to Guimaras with Balaanbukid in the background Manggahan sa Guimaras

Welcome to Guimaras! If it is fresh and pure country air you want to relish for a change from the asphalt jungle and smog of the city, you have come to the right place when you visit the island province of Guimaras. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands of the Philippines, Guimaras ‘ greatest ‘come-on’ to tourists are its hospitable and peace-loving people, their unique folk life, and the island’s unspoiled nature. Guimaras is located at the heart of the “Pearl of the Orient Seas” (the Philippines, as known to the more poetic of heart) in the cluster of five other provinces of Western Visayas, spread in three neighboring islands. The only island province is also the smallest province in the region, occupying only about three percent of the total land area of the region. It is only 604.57 square kilometers in land area divided into five municipalities, which are also subdivided into 98 barangays (villages). As of the 2007 census, it has a population of about 150,000. However, small as it is, this island province of gently sloping and rolling topography has a big heart for visitors -- in its generosity to open its doors to an “unblemished simplicity of life, tranquility and rustic rural setting”-as it declares itself as a “Tourist Friendly Destination”. 46

Rural Community Tourism

According to Guimaras tourism officer, Ms. Angeles Gabinete, Guimaras’ tourism promotion approach integrates natural beauty and the daily life of rural communities; promotes productive sustainable practices within its tourism offerings; and adapts itself to the dynamics of rural life and preserves the idiosyncrasies of the welcoming, relaxed, rustic atmosphere that characterize the rural areas of the country. This must also be the reason why its people are not worried if, in the meantime, their island province is tagged as “undeveloped” or “underdeveloped”, as this forms part of their present tourism package. They envision Guimaras becoming a world-class destination for the bulk of city folks in the country and all over the world on their back-tonature trysts.

Guimaras Mangoes

One of the island’s major attractions are the worldfamous Guimaras Mangoes, know as the “sweetest mangoes in the world”. There are some 8,000 hectares of mango plantations and backyard farming spread in its five agricultural municipalities, or towns. It is only from this island province that the United States

imports its mangoes from the Philippines. Guimaras mangoes are known to be found at the White House and Buckingham Palace.

natural antibiotic, bread with honey and candle with bee wax soap with honey.

“Manggahan Sa Guimaras” - Mango Festival, is an identity festival commemorating the provincehood anniversary every 22nd day of May. The festival was started by Gov. Emily Relucio Lopez, the first Governor of Guimaras on becoming a province in 1992, which has since then been celebrated to the present under Gov. Felipe Nava. The festival depicts the cultural heritage of the island province with emphasis on the promotion of Guimaras as ”Mango Country”. It is a week-long celebration showcasing Guimaras products, cuisine, and services. It is highlighted by the Search for Miss Guimaras and Miss Manggahan.

“Pagtaltal sa Guimaras” is a Lenten presentation on Good Friday staged in the capital town of Jordan patterned after Oberammergau in South Bavaria, Germany. The final act of the play shows Jesus being taken down from the cross and laid on his mother’s lap. The climax of a trip here is a visit to Balaan Bukid (Holy Mountain) overlooking Iloilo City about two miles across the Iloilo Strait. It is a pilgrimage site for Catholics.

An agricultural island of bounty

Aside from its famous mangoes, which are sold fresh and also processed into mango jams, juices and dried mango, Guimaras also produces various agricultural products for local consumption and for the outside market. These include rice, corn, vegetables, cashew nuts, citrus fruits like calamansi, pomelo and oranges, salt from its various salt beds, honey, propolis or

Festivals and Events

The Mountain Bike Festival, makes it the home of one of the wildest mountain bike races in the country. The festival is a multi-event team sports which involves mountain biking, coastal and mountain trekking, a call to rediscover, and adventure. The Guimaras Mountain Bike Association (GUIMBA) spearheads its main event, the Governor’s Cup Mountain Bike and Downhill Competitions. The festival aims to promote bicycling as a sport, environmentalism as a way of life, and Guimaras as an ecotourism destination. Off-time from the Mountain Bike Festival, enthusiasts may still 47

go mountain biking here in a terrain specially adapted to beginners or just for the exercise and the fun of it. The biking route consists much of the island’s flat coastal plains. In fact, it is the playground of the members of the Iloilo Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) based in Iloilo City.

Historical, cultural and religious landmarks

A visitor can find the McArthur Wharf (Buenavista Wharf), originally built by Lt. Douglas McArthur in 1903. In the town of Buenavista, is Camp Jossman, the target range and military camp constructed by the United States Army also in 1903. The Guisi Lighthouse in Dolores, Nueva Valencia is an 18th Century structure with Spanish ruins located on top of the mountain, making it very visible during nighttime to guide mariners passing through Guimaras. In the capital town of Jordan, one can find the Trappist Monastery, the only contemplative Catholic monastery in the Philippines. It is run by the order of Cistersians of the Strict Observance. Also in Jordan is the Ave

Maria or Balaan Bukid (Holy Mountain) Shrine where a large cross marks its location on top of the mountain overlooking Iloilo City across the Iloilo Strait. Navalas Church, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the island province, can be found in Navalas, Buenavista. One can also find in Jordan the Jordan Plaza, the smallest in the whole world with the size of only a basketball court for kids. It has a small stage and a few concrete benches around for small-group programs.

Roca Encantada

The Enchanted Rock, another famous heritage site which is the Lopezville Summer House in Buenavista. The house was built by the Lopez clan in 1910 in honor of Doña Presentacion Hofilena Lopez. It has been declared as a heritage house by the National Heritage Institute.

Caves and Waterfalls

The island province is home to many interesting caves and waterfalls. Some 24 beach resorts dot its coastlines

with long patches of white sands comparable to those of Boracay Island, also in Western Visayas and the country’s top destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. Many of the islets are like home with lots of nature for a wonderful family sojourn. SEAFDEC Marine Substation, Igang, Nueva Valencia, is the substation complex of the Southeast Asian Fisheries and Development Center based in the town of Tigbauan in the province of Iloilo. It is composed of several islets interconnected by a network of pontoon boardwalks. Attached to the boardwalks are propagation pens for experimental purposes and commercial fishes.


The tourist destinations in the islandprovince may be conveniently reached on land by boarding a jeepney (an improved version of the military jeep left by American soldiers), a tricycle (a motorcycle with a

sidecar), a multicab or one of the few taxicabs in the island province. For a direct drop-off on the beach of destination, a chartered native motorboat, which can carry as many as 30-40 passengers, can provide safe travel by sea for groups. Guimaras can also be reached in 10-15 minutes from Iloilo City, the gateway to the region, on board one such native motorboat. Iloilo City, itself, can be reached by airplane from Manila, the country’s premier metropolis, in less than one hour, or by passenger ship in about a day. Guimaras, as a dedicated rural tourism province, aims to be the Agri-Tourism capital of Western Visayas, or the Philippines! It has been adjudged Best Western Visayas Emerging Destination for three consecutive times for its Guisi communitybased heritage tourism project. It was also awarded for the third consecutive time as Best Tourism Oriented LGU (provincial category) last December 6, 2009 by the Department of Tourism. Come, visit and be captivated!.

Having fun in Guimaras Roca Encantada