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Roots&Wings CULTURE



Nr 15



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 Rachel Hansen at

Our apologies to the following photographers Angel Noel


Dear Kababayans


Tess Mapua – Artist in Focus


H.E. Enrique A. Manalo – Ambassador to the Court of St James’s and Ireland


Careers corner: Armina Fortuna Riethmuller – Switzerland

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Careers corner: Gianne Olaes-Dénis – The Netherlands Careers corner: Grace Vasquez - Norway


Careers corner: Aldrianne Marco - Iceland


Careers corner: Leah Palma-Wallerstedt Sweden Mildred Centeno – Red Cross volunteer in Greece

Ian Reyes Greg Guinto For not mentioning your names as the photographers in the Spring issue article written by Dr Leni Garcia entitled ”Dancing with Russel Obusan Wisden”. We appreciate very much your artistic contributions.

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Roots&Wings CONTENTS SUMMER 2013 50


Rachel Hansen

Bureau Editor Paris, France

Aina Bauer

Maria Bergersen

Copy Editor



Ver Cuizon – Art Impressario in Essen, Germany


Christian Angelo Schmettau – young musician in Costa Brava


Timicheg – portrait of a Filipino explorer in Europe in the 1900s


The World Village Festival in Helsinki


The Patras Carnival in Greece


Helena Alegre – jewelry sculptress


Santacruzan in Lisbon


CFOs Lakbay-Aral Program


Enchanting Coron

John Florencio

Publisher, Editor in Chief

Reneé S.Ikdal Representative

Jonathan A Coo Associate Editor

Jenny Hansen

Luz Bergersen

Layout Editor

Associate Editor

Milagros F.Viernes

Bureau Editor Oslo, Norway

Rebecca Garcia

Hanna Stenbacka

Bureau Editor Prague, Czech republic

Bureau Editor Stockholm, Sweden

Bureau Editor, Athens, Greece

Lyndy Bagares

Desiree Munoz

McKlien Ross Onoya

Michael Vincent Ruiz

Web Editor

Bureau Editor Ghent, Brussels

Web Master

Web Assistant

Cover: Photo by Jenny Hansen 5

Artist in Focus

DEAR KABABAYANS It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the summer 2013 issue of R&W. Summer in Europe is a favorite time of the year for many of us, for the bright warm weather feels very much like home. It is also that time of the year when Filipino life is celebrated to the hilt – usually starting with Flores de Mayo, Independence Day Parades, Barrio Fiestas, concerts, picnics in the park, endless barbecues, basketball tournaments, flower shows, outdoor theaters, retreats, reunions with family and friends from near and far… In line with our tradition to feature a diplomatic profile in every issue, we are honored to share with you, a glimpse in the life and tasks of H.E. Enrique A. Manalo, who in his capacity as our Ambassador to the Court of St James’s and Ireland, enthusiastically shares with us his insights and views about relations between the Philippines and the United Kingdom & Ireland.

Belgium in 1913. Discover why a tunnel was named after him in this second largest city in the Flemish region in Belgium.

Then we have a another young man, only fifteen years old Christian Angelo Schmettau who has been making waves with his musical prowess in his hometown in Costa Brava in We are extremely grateful for all the very Spain.. exciting articles contributed generously by our kababayans from all over Europe and We also have a new feature we call Careers from back home. We thank our guest writers Corner, where kababayans eagerly share with Ricky Francisco and Deborah Del Pan from us strategies on how they climbed the steep Manila, for bringing to us on pages 7 to 12, ladder to a European career. It is meant to the fascinating artworks of Tess Mapua, who inspire, and challenge us to aim even higher. is “letting go thru layering.” Thanks to Donna At the end of the day, it is perseverance, hard Manio for her article on Helena Alegre, whose work, and an optimistic attitude that will hand made out-of- this-world sculptural carry us through. As someone has said, the jewelries, inspired by nature, is something pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, to marvel at. We are overwhelmed to meet the optimist sees opportunity in every Ver Cuizon, our untiring, daring, German- difficulty. based Art Impressario and his brain-child, the Kunst Gallery, and for his bringing Filipino We wish you a lot of sunshine this summer. artists to exhibit their artworks in Europe. Be Happy reading! inspired and find out more about the concept Mabuhay tayong lahat! of Filipinism. Read about the adventures of Timicheg, a young man from Bontoc, Mt Province, who Rachel Hansen participated in the World’s Fair in Ghent, 6

Do you think the world is being manipulated?

Tess Mapua

Letting Go By Layering by Ricky Francisco and Deborah Del Pan 7

Artist in Focus

Students of human history familiar with middens, those archaeological treasure troves left behind by ancient humans, may be reminded of them when they see the artworks comprising Tess Mapua's second solo exhibit, QUESTIONS. This accumulation of artifacts and ecofacts associated with prehistoric human occupation is echoed in the sculptural assemblages that Mapua creates, where almost every surface of her artworks is layered with discarded toys. In Mapua’s art, the act of concealing is simultaneously the act of building. And as middens point to how prehistoric men lived, Mapua’s sculptural assemblages point to how contemporary humans live – what we amass, what we discard, what gets buried beneath our excesses, and what we refuse to see. But unlike the middens which are produced by a haphazard overlap of scrap and debris (in effect, tangible traces of what once was, or more appropriately, who once were) Mapua’s

Don't you think its time to break off? 8

Artist in Focus

careful consideration of placement creates compositional harmony and layered meaning. Upcycling these castoff curios into art both figuratively and literally poses questions, thus becoming material suggestions of what could be, just beneath the surface. Mapua has been mentored by Renato Habulan, one of the foremost visual artists associated with Philippine social realism. And much like her mentor, Mapua's art has a broad world view; while highlighting the effects of the macrofabric of society at large on individual lives, she also uses art as a transformational tool to bring positive change. Schooled in realist painting, for this exhibit Mapua has largely shed her painterly training in favor of constructing sculptural assemblages, where forms charged with cultural meaning entwine to create enigmatic visual queries. Like a Zen Buddhist koan - “What is the sound of one hand

How many stones must we ask before we finally get it?

Don’t you think its time to break off from the web of deceit and control and start living on the edge? 9

Artist in Focus

Artist in Focus

clapping?”- they are meant to provoke great doubt and intuitive responses that ready the mind to make the leap and let go. Her works, titled as questions, literally make us ask about our own being and purpose: “Why Am I Here?”, “Who Am I?” or “What Is All This About?”

action, as when a teacher who knows the answers would ask her student to probe further. "Don't You Think It's Time to Break Off From the Web of Deceit And Control And Start Living on the Edge?", "How Many More Stones Must We Ask Before We Finally Get It?" "What Filters Are You Using That Define Your Current Way of Thinking?" and finally, "Do You Some seem to be more personal; like Think The World Is Being Manipulated?" entries in a diary, they tempt the viewer to look deeper, appealing to the voyeur As central as the questions are to in us. "How Many Doors Must I Open Mapua's works, so too are the contrasting To Find Out The Secrets Hidden From elements in material and composition. In Me?", "Why Must I Be Here So That I Can "Why Must I Raise Myself Up?" a strong, Be There?", "Why Must I Raise Myself stable, heavy black rectangular base is Up?" These titles, indeed the artworks topped by fragile, dynamic, reflective themselves, make us want to ask what glass. The very busyness of the base, the artist must have experienced in order abrim with representations of both to ask these questions – and if these are consumerist clutter and apartment-like our own questions as well. crypts that congest our urban cemeteries, contrasts with the spare, but brilliant Though still existential, some of the clarity of the glass pyramid forming its works seem to challenge the viewer to top. Climbing the pyramid is a fragile ballerina, or at least the parts of her that emphasize motion and grace. But in lieu of sinuous flesh, jarring hard metal suggestive of prosthetic legs and robotic extremities makes us cringe in sympathetic agony. "Don't You Think It's Time to Break Off From the Web of Deceit and Control and Start Living on the Edge?" is another study in contrasts. With its stability 10

and balance, a heavy, black wooden octagon frames a fragile spiderweb; a tiny, delicate spiderman literally walks the edge of a bright, silver sword with a golden hilt. The entire dynamic assemblage, with its flashing lights and implied action, is again balanced upon stacked crypts hinting at stasis and decay. In all the works, the artistic device of visual contrast serves to manifest the conceptual contrast that permeates the pieces. The imagery of death, which we might initially take as the leitmotif upon which the assemblages' patterns are based, actually serves only as the background against which the idea of transcendence is emphasized and contrasted. Death, the certain finality of everything, is the material that is cut through. As the brightedged sword crosses the black frame and the brilliant pyramid sprouts from a conglomeration of similarly blackened crypts, the message of transcendence is echoed. This crossing over is also explored in "Why Must I Be Here So I Can Be There?", where paradox is used as a method of exposition. Paradox is also seen in the process where the act of building stems from the act of letting go - where objects physically attached to Mapua's work become symbolic of thoughts and feelings that need to be expunged, such as in " What Filters Are You Using That Define Your Current Way of Thinking?". And as one would remove stones in "How Many Stones Must We Ask Before

How many doors must I open to find out the secrets hidden from me? 11

Artist in Focus

We Get It?", we partake in this purgation, hopefully to the point where we become the empty table upon which all the stones rest - tabula rasa - and finally function for our intended purpose, unhampered by unwanted baggage that took up space. For just as middens are visual elegies to those who once were, Mapua's thoughtprovoking assemblages provide the counterpoint - visual and tangible paeans

Diplomatic Profile

to possibility - if we just take the courage to open up our minds to living lives on the edge.

Tess Mapua is having her second solo exhibit at ArtGalilea, 2nd Level The Fort Pointe Building, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines from June 6 to 19, 2013. For inquiries, please call Gabs at (+63 2) 808 6272 or Rio at +63 917 523 0877.

His Excellency Enrique A. Manalo

Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St James’s and Ireland 12


Diplomatic Profile

Diplomatic Profile

Roots & Wings is pleased and honoured to feature Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo, one of the most experienced diplomats of the Philippine foreign service career corps.He was foreign affairs undersecretary for policy from 2007 to 2010.Before being assigned to London, he was the Philippine Ambassador to Belgium. His foreign policy experience, especially on ASEAN and UN matters, is very extensive, having been assigned to Geneva, New York and Washington DC. The Ambassador was a former Chairman of the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). He was also the Philippine senior official to the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, which was held while the Philippines was chairman of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. H.E. Ambassador Manalo graduated from the University of the Philippines with Bachelors and Masters degrees in Economics. He is accompanied by his wife, Pamela. They have two sons.

What is your opinion about the relations in general between the Philippines and the UK and Ireland? The Philippines has always enjoyed an excellent bilateral relationship with the UK. Our countries adhere to democratic principles and traditions, promotion of human rights, free speech, and the rule of law. Our shared language and values provide our countries a distinct opportunity to develop better understanding of our respective objectives and interests, making it easier for us to find ways to align those objectives and interests.

remain close in spirit. Irish records placed the year of the establishment of diplomatic relations to 1984 with the exchange of Honorary Consuls. Long before this, however, the Philippines and Ireland enjoyed close people-topeople linkages. The Columban Irish missionaries, among the pioneers in the Philippines, played an important role in developing and strengthening the friendly ties between the two countries. Due to the presence of a strong common dominant faith, the Catholic faith, the Philippines has been described as “a sort of Catholic Ireland located off the coastline of Asia.”

The Philippines and Ireland acknowledge Please tell us about the bilateral that despite the geographical distance relationship and fields of cooperation. between the two countries, our countries The assumption in May 2010 of the UK’s 14

Coalition Government led by Prime Minister David Cameron reinvigorated our bilateral relationship with the UK. We are encouraged by the renewed interest of the UK in Asia andthe deepening of Philippine-British ties, especially in economic and political/security matters. The British Government has described the Philippines as an “emerging power in East Asia”. We believe that the reinvigoration of bilateral ties will translate to more robust and broad-based cooperation between our countries, particularly in the economic field, which we hope will redound to prosperity for our two peoples. Ireland has also identified the Philippines as an “emerging economy” and the Philippines intends to take advantage of the “Asia Strategy” adopted by Ireland in 1998 and continue to explore areas of cooperation with Ireland as it renews its focus on Asia and the Middle East in the face of the current economic crisis.

cultural fields, as well as addressing challenges and opportunities at the regional and global levels on matters such as climate change, migration, transnational organized crime, terrorism, environmental sustainability and biodiversity, and maritime issues. We are hoping to havea similar framework of cooperation with Irelandin the near future. What is the approximate number of Filipino citizens living in the UK and Ireland? The Philippine Embassy in London puts the Filipino population in the UK at approximately 250,000, broken down into:

- 73% consisting of those who are already either British citizens or permanent residents - 16% composed of temporary migrants or those who are holders of work permits - 11% representing those who are undocumented, i.e. Filipinos who are believed to have overstayed beyond the Our bilateral trade and investment validity period of their entry visas. with the UK are robust and constantly improving. We always seek to enhance Most of the Filipinos in the UK are working existing areas of cooperation while also in the health sector such as nurses, committing to explore new areas. caregivers, radiographers, and others. A good number of Filipinos can also be We have recently signed with the UK found working in the household sector a Joint Plan of Action, which provides such as nannies, housekeepers/domestic a framework to undertake concrete workers, drivers, cleaners, and the like. cooperation in the political, economic, We can also find Filipinos working as consular and law enforcement, and accountants, salesmen, marketing agents, 15

Diplomatic Profile

chefs, hotel and restaurant workers, overhead electricians, pipe welders, and many others. Meanwhile, based on the Irish Census of 2011, there were 12,791 individuals of Filipino origin residing in Ireland. The top industries where Filipinos were employed were in the health and social work (as nurses, midwives, and care assistants), hotels/restaurants, manufacturing, business services, and wholesale and retail sectors. What is your general opinion of the working conditions for Filipinos in the UK and Ireland? I view the working conditions of our kababayans in the UK and Ireland to be favourable since they get to enjoy the same employment rights and benefits entitled to UK and Irish nationals. Both the UK and Ireland have enacted a number of laws and regulations to protect all workers including equality laws, working time regulations, anti-discrimination and harassment, minimum wage, maternity and paternity laws, grievance procedures and others. The overall working conditions and environment of these two countries are also considered to be generally compliant with EU and ILO standards. What fields do you consider of particular interest for Filipinos looking for employment/work permits in the UK and Ireland? 16

Diplomatic Profile

Employment prospects still exist within the health sector. It was reported that a research by the Center for Workforce Intelligence, the UK’s national authority on workforce planning and development, found that the NHS could be crippled by a shortage of nearly 200,000 nurses in just 3 years with the retirement of up to a third of the 600,000 nurses in the health service. In addition to an ageing workforce, the UK population is likewise ageing - by 2035, it is foreseen that those aged 65 and over will account for 23% of the total population. By 2030, it is also projected that there will be an 81% increase in obese adults, 47% in adults with diabetes, and 72% increase in aged over 65 with dementia. All these demand and supply interaction could present a significant challenge for the UK’s health and social care system in the coming years. In the last decade, international recruitment made a major contribution to UK’s workforce numbers, yet this flow has slowed down considerably due to public sector budgetary constraints, as well as a series of policy changes, including tougher NMC requirements and changes to the immigration system. However, with the inadequate number and highly skilled supply of nurses locally and from other EU states, it is not impossible that the UK may once more turn to international recruitment as an option for it to be able to meet the demand for the delivery of high quality

and sustainable patient care in the future. And the Philippines, having provided the UK with quality nurses since the early 2000s, may again be in the top list of choice country sources, in addition to Australia, Canada, US, India and China.

trading partners.

It is thought best that, for the Filipino nurses to be able to easily access the UK healthcare labour market when the opportunity arises, that they begin to undertake the necessary preparation by gaining work experience and specializing in areas that would most likely be in demand such as paediatrics, neo-natal, intensive care, dialysis, and geriatrics.

Our bilateral trade with Ireland for 2011was at US$264,284,000, with Philippine exports to Ireland amounting to US$23,490,000.

How is Philippine UK/Philippine IRL trade developing? What is the total volume and which are the main products for exports to the UK/Irish market? What potential do you see? Philippine trade with both the UK and with Ireland are robust and recovering to pre-global financial crisis levels. In general, the top sectors for trade and investment between the countries are Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects, Information Technology / Creative Services / Business Process Outsourcing, Energy, Aerospace, Electronics, Food and Agriculture products, and Tourism

Our bilateral trade with UK for the year 2012 amounted to US$928,000,000, with Philippine Exports to the UK garnering US$657,000,000.

What are the main UK-Irish investments in the PHL? Any new projects under way? British and Irish firms should consider establishing operations in the Philippine economic zones or through joint ventures with firms in the country as they make the Philippines a springboard for the massive export market in Asia. The Philippines is an ideal location due to its many comparative advantages including the productivity and high level of education of its labour force, its use of the English language as the business medium, and its guaranteed labour peace.

There have been an increasing number of British and Irish business missions to the Philippines over the past few years working on business opportunities in the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, IT/BPO, manufacturing, retail, The UK is a very important partner for banking and finance, among many the Philippines, especially on economic others. cooperation. The UK is the Philippines’ top European investor, biggest tourism How is UK and Irish tourism to the market, and one of our most active Philippines developing? What potential 17

Diplomatic Profile

do you see in this field? Tourism in the Philippines is experiencing a renaissance. With the all-out support from the government, it started to gain strength not just in Europe but also in other parts of the world. The support in terms of budget has been great! Never before has awareness for the destination been higher than it is now. Due, in no small part, to the new tourism campaign, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” being broadcast aggressively in numerous global campaigns. Social media, too, has enabled to get the message across and transmitted faster and more effectively.In the UK, for example, the Philippines has tried almost all forms of media advertising: tabloids, national newspapers, travel trade magazines, taxis, buses, radio and television, etc. In Ireland, we hosted groups of travel press and media whose write-ups and articles and radio broadcast generated positive exposure for the country which in turn have increased awareness on the destination, thus contributed to an increase in tourism arrival figures. UK is the number one source of tourist arrivals from Europe. The total number of visitors was recorded at 113,282 in 2012 compared to the 2011 figure of 104,466. This registered a growth rate of 8.44%. For the first quarter 2013, tourist arrivals from the UK reached a total of 32,475 as against 31,700 in 2012 or a 2.44% growth rate. Ireland’s total figure for 2012 was at 8,362 while in 2011, it registered a total 18

Diplomatic Profile

of 6,023 garnering a massive growth rate of 38.83%. From January to March 2013, Ireland registered a growth rate of 13.59%. The Philippines has been undergoing rapid change over the past few years. It continues to achieve milestones and accolades awarded by international credit rating agencies and travel publications among many others. This is especially true in the UK this year when Condé Nast Traveller, Travel + Leisure, Sunday Times, MSN, and Trip Advisor have all named Philippine destinations among the top places to visit this 2013. This could be attributed to the visibility and awareness campaign of the Tourism Department which positions the Philippines among the top holiday destinations. Infrastructure and foreign investment have been notably obvious, with more foreign and local hotel/resort brands opening across the country. Some known brands in London are opening soon in the Philippines like Citadines, Novotel and Hyatt. Common carriers taxes imposed on foreign carriers have now been rationalized enabling international carriers to bring in more flights to the country. Both Emirates and Qatar will start flying direct to Clark from Dubai by October this year. Many more changes are happening that cannot be enumerated in just a single article as developments and good news

on the Philippines are noted almost on a and spend time with my family at home. daily basis. Any special message to the Filipinos in How is it like being the PHL the UK & Ireland? Ambassador to the UK and Ireland? The strength of our bilateral relations I consider it a distinct personal honour with these two countries has always been to be the Philippine Ambassador to both grounded on the interaction between our the United Kingdom and Ireland. Being two peoples in both the UK and Ireland. an Ambassador to major global players Through the years Filipinos and the allows me to ensure that the Philippines British as well as the Filipinos and the maintains an open and positive Irish have grown closer and created a relationship with them. better understanding and appreciation of As I interface with my British and Irish each other. counterparts, I am always guided by the three main pillars of Philippine Both British and Irish officials have foreign policy, which are the promotion told me that they are very proud of the of national security, enhancement of Filipino community in their respective economic diplomacy, and the protection countries as they have contributed much of the rights and welfare of Filipinos to the economy and society of the host overseas. country. There are also some 15,000 British nationals and around 800 Irish Do you find time to relax and pursue nationals who have chosen to work or hobbies and interests? What do you do retire in the Philippines. on your leisure time? My professional activities in London Our partnership with these two countries keep me busy but, now and then, I try to continues to evolve in a positive direction. make it a point of enjoying what London It is important, therefore, for us to take has to offer and there are many. I do a lot advantage of the surge in our relations of walking around the numerous parks to deepen our mutual cooperation and that dot the city, visit museums and other interaction, both at the government and historical sites, probably watch a play or private levels. two. During my down time, I like to read


Careers Corner

Careers Corner

to Germany (Mainz) and Switzerland (Zürich) in the 80's. It was my aunt in Mainz who invited me to try my luck in Europe. The city of Basel in Switzerland is where I started to work in November 1990. I still work in Basel but currently live just after the border, in Saint Louis France.

Armina Fortuna Riethmuller Pharmacovigilance Auditor in Switzerland

“Understanding cultural differences is indispensable” I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing the National Kidney and Transplant degree from the Lyceum of Batangas. Institute in Manila. After passing the Board Exam, I worked for a year in a hospital in Batangas and I have uncles and aunts who migrated 20

I only had a month intensive German course in Mainz and was luckily accepted to work as a psychiatric nurse in the University Psychiatric Hospital in Basel. I had to learn the language rapidly as communicating with patients and coworkers belongs to daily routine. The best language teacher for a visual person like me was reading comic books and watching television in German. Internal courses relevant to my job description were also very helpful. I worked as a Staff Nurse and Assistant to the Head Nurse in the same hospital for 13 years. Almost 10 years ago I decided to move to the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in the field of Pharmacovigilance (Drug Safety). Currently, I work as a Pharmacovigilance Compliance Auditor in Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd. I perform audits of subsidiaries and business partners worldwide which give me the opportunity to travel, see interesting cities and learn about different cultures. I recently finished a Post-Graduate Diploma in a London University and presently working on a research project to obtain a Master's degree.

I am quite a loyal person and easily identify myself to my workplace. As I stayed in the same hospital for 13 years, I might break my record and stay longer in the company ;-) My hobby is singing to achieve a good work-life balance. I belong to a French gospel and jazz choir since 1997 ( I told you I'm loyal!). I am also interested in learning new languages. Once I am assigned to work for several days in another country, I try to learn important phrases which always serve as an icebreaker. In addition, understanding cultural differences especially in communication is indispensable. I was active in Filipino communities in the early 1990s. I even sang in a Filipino band for a few years. For many years, together with a Filipino composer-guitarist based in Switzerland, we sang famous songs from Asin, Freddie Aguilar, Joey Ayala, etc. to promote our culture. At present, I am a supporter of Onesimo Foundation/ Onesimo Bulilit, a faith-based, non-profit, non-government organization working for street children and their families in Manila founded by Swiss missionaries. This project was featured in the Winter issue of Roots&Wings “Basanstrasse 24 - A Filipino Swiss junction”. I believe that living in a foreign country requires a lot of flexibility. Flexibility to learn a new language, integrate in a new community and assimilate to another culture whilst preserving your own. 21

Careers Corner

Careers Corner

Before I left the Philippines, a friend of mine handed me a small farewell gift - a necklace with the word Soar. I kept contemplating on this word for a while and tried to relate it to my plans at that time. I was leaving the country to try on a new life in a foreign land. The question kept lingering in my mind- will I soar? Or will I be far away from my dreams to succeed?

Gianne Olaes-Dénis Quality Assurance Specialist in The Netherlands “If we show determination to achieve our dreams, we can absolutely soar and spread our wings even in unfamiliar places” 22

I have always thought about how it would be like to start working again. In the Philippines, I was only able to practice being a Pharmacist for less than a year. I spent most of my time in the call center industry. Though this was far from my educational background, I enjoyed the atmosphere and of course, the financial benefits. So going back to studying and not being able to build up a career in the When I left in 2010, the whole world started pharmaceutical world made me somehow suffering from a global economic crisis. feel left behind. The Philippines felt the pain as well as the most advanced countries in Europe. This Three months passed by when I received also included my country of destination, an unexpected call from a headhunter. The Netherlands. It was all overwhelming Apparently, they landed on my profile in to know that there could be difficulties a popular networking website. I vaguely in finding a job not only because of my remember how that old profile of mine limitations as a foreigner but also due to looked like but for some reasons, they saw the unfortunate economic situation. My me as a potential candidate for an open research also told me to focus on learning position in a pharmaceutical company. I the language. Everybody says that the entertained the caller and showed quite language is the most important tool that some enthusiasm to the idea. Eventually, I would help me make a good start. Therefore, was planned in for an interview with the as soon as I arrived, I enrolled myself in the leadership team of the Quality Department integration program of our municipality. I where I will be assigned for this job. envisioned myself being a full time student Two senior managers and one executive and finishing the language course within director engaged me in a comprehensive the next two years. I also planned to go to and skill-based interview. I knew that they school and get a hold of a Dutch diploma might see my lack of experience in the field in Pharmacy. This was the next step for of manufacturing. However, I thought me since I already have a bachelor’s degree that it should not stop me from trying and in Pharmacy from the University of the learning from the entire job application Philippines. With the support of my Dutch process. I prepared as much as I could by partner, I was absolutely inspired and getting to know the company, it’s missionready to take on this challenging journey. vision and the details of the position I was applying for. Naturally, some technical Being a language student in The aspects of this job remained unclear to me. Netherlands was definitely fun. However, But I tried to be open during the interview 23

Careers Corner

and displayed a good amount of confidence to sustain the conversation. The most unforgettable part was the interview with the executive director. He was so relaxed and did not ask any job-related question at all. He was rather curious about my observations regarding The Netherlands and the Dutch people. I remember smiling the entire time as he expressed a great deal of appreciation to my interest in the Dutch culture. As I walked pass the reception area on my way to the bus station, the Human Resource representative called me and requested me to return to the building. I received the great news that I was hired for the function Senior Associate Quality Assurance in the production department of the company. I spent approximately two and a half years as a production QA. It is a tough job. As QA, I am expected to have a working knowledge of all current manufacturing procedures applicable for the production of various biotech medicines in the form of syringes, self-administered pre-filled pens and vials. I was responsible for the daily quality oversight of the plant. This normally involves on-the spot problemsolving or investigations and reporting deviations. On a different light, I could say that my relationship with my colleagues was remarkable. I consider most of them as the first ever friends I had in this country. There were times when I still felt like an outsider. But this was mostly due to the fact that I still felt different after all. The struggle to be as open and as expressive as the Dutch kept going on. I had to learn 24

Careers Corner

how to say ‘No’ to my superiors when the situation called for it, to keep my composure during confrontations and to always sound with conviction. These are important elements to show authority in my job. As a Filipina, being born and raised in a more subtle and submissive cultural setting, these are definitely improvement areas I needed to work on. Nevertheless, my enthusiasm and drive to grow within the company was translucent enough. In October 2012, I was promoted to Specialist Quality Assurance, focusing on the warehousing and distribution of our products. I left production and transferred to a different department within the organization. I am currently in this position and still enjoying all the new knowledge from this challenging role. My network expanded not only within the site but also externally. I met new people and got involved with exciting projects. A day goes by so quickly attending multiple meetings and solving issues with a group of highly skilled people. I glanced once again at my necklace with the word “Soar” on it. This word means more to me now than three years ago. I realized that it is possible to fly high despite all the possible obstructions on the way. Our cultural background may actually set us apart from the rest of the people in the corporate world. As Filipinos, we are known for our professionalism, hard work and drive. If we use our talents correctly and showed determination to achieve our dreams, we can absolutely soar and spread our wings even in unfamiliar places.

Grace Vasquez

Special Adviser - Strategy & Administrative Department of the Regional Office for Children, Youth & Family Affairs in Eastern Norway

“Follow your passion, take the leap, make an impact, shape your future” I graduated from De La Salle University in Manila with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. I worked as a commodity futures broker for a year before I discovered the allure of the travel industry as a career. As a young adult, I loved traveling. I have to admit that one of the main reasons I switched to travel was that we get cheap flights and holidays. It was a great perk! As dramatic as it sounds, one of those trips changed my life. Our travel agency, one of the retail arms of Thai International Airways in leisure and package tours, was chosen to participate in the airline’s annual educational trips abroad for retailers. I was lucky to be selected to join the nine other best-selling travel agents in a 10-day tour to Scandinavia in August 1983.

exploration and use of these non-renewable resources will ensure that such resources benefit present and future generations. One of them found it totally engrossing that he offered me an internship training position in his company. It was a tempting offer especially when the Philippines was descending into a political and economic crisis in the aftermath of the assassination of Marcos’s chief rival, former Senator Benigno Aquino.

I had no real idea of what to expect from working abroad. To be honest, I was absolutely terrified of living in a foreign country and be thousands of miles away from my family. But I had to trust my gut, which was telling me that it was the direction I was supposed to take. I don’t have to have it all figured out; I just have to be willing to try. However ready for the challenge, I took a leap of fate and While enjoying the magnificent fjords flew back to Norway in December 1983. of Norway, we came across a group of As Helen Keller once said, “Life is either businessmen from the oil and petroleum a daring adventure or nothing at all.” sector. My undergraduate thesis examined the role of multinational companies Although internship trainings are in the oil and gas exploration in the great stepping-stones into professional Philippines and its socio-political and employment, they are fiercely competitive economic challenges in the Philippines. and often unpaid. I couldn’t wait any Transparency and accountability in the longer. I was living off my savings and 25

Careers Corner

had to find a paying job. But I had to take another leap of faith first and married my now ex-husband, who by the way I met during my first trip to Norway. But for my beautiful daughter and lessons learned, that leap of faith didn’t go too well.

of 52 applicants. From writing travel itineraries for retired senior citizens to arranging meetings, answering the phone, making waffles and putting coins in parking meters, it was a varied role that challenged me language-wise. I was lucky to get an employer sponsored oneBeing proactive and using initiative to-one private tutorials at work from the are essential to get a job – and will no Norwegian Language Institute. doubt take you far, but not if you don’t master the Norwegian language. So Since then I held administrative positions with my love for languages (I took Spanish, French and Japanese in college) and with bags of enthusiasm, I enrolled for the free basic Norwegian language course for foreigners. I carried a dictionary with me everywhere I went and learned 10-20 essential words each day. I learned whole sentences and used them on a daily basis. I skipped English totally and practiced thinking in Norwegian directly, and not translating every time I tried to think of a word. After three months, I was writing essays and reading newspapers with little or no difficulty. Good and ready for a job three months later, I asked an elderly neighbour to accompany me to the National Employment Service. The following day, I was interviewed for a job in a travel agency in Oslo. I got the job the same day out 26

Careers Corner

in the National Institute of Public Health, in the Ministry of Justice and in the Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board for 15 years, and an advisory position in the Ministry of Culture for the next 11 years. Since then, I have been taking the time and making the effort to continue learning in the workplace. My greatest achievement so far in my career would probably be my appointment as Secretariat member of a committee appointed by the Norwegian Government to propose amendments to the Value Added Tax in Norway to include activities relating to culture, art and sport (NOU 2008:7).

for my MBA. It was not easy doing any one of these things. I endured countless setbacks, mistakes and failures along my journey, but the almost three decades of hard work, persistence, incredible organizing, discipline and focus, and, of course, the right support around me, are now actually paying dividends.

Today, I work as a special adviser at the Strategy and Administration Department of the Regional Office for Children, Youth and Family Affairs, Eastern Norway (Bufetat, Region Øst). I am part of a team that provides high quality public policy and budget advice, and analytic support to the Regional Director and his leadership team.

Today, I’m still juggling time, but I’ve become an expert in blocking out time and getting things done, and balancing my activities so that my life is not all work and no play. I’m still dancing with the Likha Scandinavia Cultural Group every so often. The latest addition to my roster of activities is the annual search for beauty delegates to represent Scandinavia and the Nordic regions in the Mutya ng Pilipinas Pageant in the Philippines. Through the Mutya ng Pilipinas Scandinavia Educational Scholarship Fund, we hope to GIVE BACK and INSPIRE the needy and deserving young students in the Philippines to follow their dreams.

Although it seemed like a lifetime away, I could still remember the time I was juggling work, kids, study and social life: I was a full-time working mother, as well as a dance choreographer and instructor, chief-editor of our company’s newsletter and a Filipino organization’s newsletter and editor of a church newsletter. During that time, I was also lucky to be granted an employer-sponsored education program at the Norwegian Business School of Management. So alongside my hectic schedule, I was also studying part-time

The best career advice I could give to aspiring young professionals is this: Follow your passion and stay focused on it. Doing what you love will motivate you to do whatever it takes to really own the skill. Aim high in the long term and don’t be afraid to take risks. As Paulo Coelho once said, “A fall from the third floor hurts as much as a fall from the hundredth. If I have to fall, may it be from a high place.” The future depends on what you do now. So take the leap, make an impact and shape your future. 27

Careers Corner

Careers Corner

Life has always been a challenge for me and although I have been faced with a lot of trials in the past, surrendering has never been an option. I consider myself a survivor and the various milestones in my life are the very proof that Iam a person with tremendous will power . In the Philippines, life was difficult when I was growing up. At the tender age of 14, during the summer school break. I had to work part time at the Linen Department at Clark Air Base Military Hospital to be able to help with school expenses. The lack of resources did not stop me from securing a university degree. Thanks to my dancing skills and perseverance, I was able to attend college in one of the highly reputable academic institutions in the city of Angeles.

Aldrianne Marco Administrative Assistant to the Mayor of Reykjavik in Iceland

“Stay motivated, the rest will follow“ 28

Not knowing a word in Icelandic, I had to content myself working at the processing department of a fish export industry. Certainly, it is not the career I had set myself to be , I knew in my heart that the situation would only be temporary. My next plan was to gain a good command of the language by studying it and moving forward. In the midst of adjusting, something that would change my life forever took place. A family. In years to come following my marriage, I found myself raising my kids on my own and let me just emphasize that being a single mother toggling a career on the side is the most underestimated, most challengingtask in the world but one that would prove rewarding to me. I travelled back and forth to the United States and Iceland in the following years to come as I stayed in touch with some of my family there. In between 1996 and 2000, I movedto California and Hawaii and eventually decided to settle inIceland inyear 2000.I invested inpurchasing my own apartment with the money I have accumulated while waitressing and doing maintenance for a couple of computer facilitiesat the same time working my way up by taking computer classes.I landed a job with Apple Inc.working at the reception and as bookkeeping assistance from 2004 for four years.

During my sophomore year in college, I flew to the United States in hopes of being reunited with my father. At that time, I had interest in joining the U.S Air Force to try to follow his footsteps however, things didn´t goas planned and I had tomake a quick decision as to where I would build a life. So I flew from New York city on a direct flight toIceland where my mother and stepfather reside. Flying from one continent to another, I remember experiencing culture shock instantly. In a place where I did not know anyone outside my immediate family, the language was unquestionably a barrier in communicating, it was then that a new set of challenges was brought to my In 2008, I was offered a job at Social table. I had to start all the way from the Insurance Administration. In 2009, due bottom. My journey has just begun. to the collapse of our banks and economy,


Careers Corner

bono. Recently, I have been involved in assisting disabled youngstersand found my volunteer work to be very fulfilling and rewarding.Being trilingual, I have a burning desire to take language courses particularly Spanish.In hopes to further my career in the future,I plan to finish a degree that I have started in Tourism or even consider a degree in the medical Iam not certain what the future holds, field but in the meantime, Iam satisfied but preparing yourself for what may where I stand. come, can only strengthen your position. My mother always told me to aim high In parting, let me just share this for our enough, be prepared for the worst and young people or anyone who isstriving keep both feet on the ground. These to reach their goals. Life is a bit easier values have helped me through time to bear whenyou choose to be optimistic. and time again. My mother is one of Bruce Lee said, “Choose the positive. the most influential people in my life. You have a choice, you are the master Another person that I deeply admire is of your attitude, choose the positive, the Mother Teresa. constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success. I, myself, believe that When I am not occupied working, I love to perseverance and faith goes a long way. travel. Dancing has been my number one Remember thatcourage is not measured passion and still is. I enjoy singing as well, by your physical strength but that of Iam currently a member of a band that the size and strength of your heart.Stay is supported and financed by Reykjavík motivated, the rest will follow. city called “Borgarbandið”, meaning The City band. We meet up sometimes after work or during weekends whenever we are getting readyfor a show. My other hobbies include jogging, bowling, mountain hiking, cooking and baking. I enjoy going to the movies as well. In the past years, I have managed to stay active in our Filipino-Icelandic community participating as the emcee of various events and gatherings. I also participated in assisting with translation for those who needed it as far as legal matters, pro

Careers Corner

I was one of the many people who got laid off, so I did the most sensible thing a person unemployed could do -I went back to school. It was one of the smartest strategies I have ever made and perhaps, the main reasonleading up to where Iam presently working as an Administrative assistant to the Mayor of Reykjavík.


Leah Palma-Wallerstedt

Assistant at Economy Dept at a hotel in Stockholm “Study seriously with focus and dedication to your choice of profession” I was born in Iloilo in 1972 and went this country and its well-known social to Secondary School at the University welfare politics which I had learned about of Iloilo. My first job was in a fashion at school. boutique as a Sales Assistant. In order to integrate and to eventually I went to Sweden in 1992, in search of join the work force, I first had to study adventure and eager to learn more about the language before anything else. I 31

Careers Corner

Volunteer Work

found out that Swedish was not a very easy language to learn, but with time, perseverance and constant practice, I was able to achieve some progress, so that, after a short period , I was accepted to work as a chamber maid at the Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm. For me it was a good start, a good stepping stone, considering my very limited knowledge of the Swedish language.

I am very fortunate to have a very supportive husband, which to a large degree takes care of our three children, allowing me to study and focus on my career advancement. Aside from this fulltime job, I have a side job too, which is running my own business in the field of cosmetics and nutrition, where I market and sell the various exclusive beauty products called Nuskin..

Although I liked my job, I felt a need to move on and I thought I will do what I really enjoy doing – which is working with numbers, so I decided to take a course in Accounting and Bookkeeping at “Komvux”, which is a kind of Swedish school for adults. I started in 2009 and finished in 2012. It was tough combining family life and studies but I was very happy with this decision for it made me feel equipped and confident to apply for other jobs.

Beside work and family, I am very fond of gardening, growing flowers and vegetables and especially now that it is summer in Sweden, I can really pursue this very rewarding hobby. In addition to this, as much as possible, I would like to get more involved in the activities of the community. I am thinking of the newly started Philippine Centre Sweden or PCS. I think PCS is a good opportunity for Filipinos and Swedes to strengthen the ties between the two countries in many areas, everything from business to travel.

One day, my former employer, the Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm, advertised for an Assistant at their Economy Department. I applied for the job and because of my past record as an employee there, I was accepted.

With regards to young people who will eventually decide on a career path, if I could give them a piece of advice, then I will tell them that it is very important to really study seriously, with focus and dedication to your choice of profession. A I am now enjoying immensely my work proper education is something no one can at the Economy Department of the hotel. I take away from you. It makes it possible intend to stay in this job, learn as much as to accomplish our dreams. I can, improve my skills and competence and my knowledge of the Swedish My motto in life is: “Be kind and treat language I get the chance to practice even people with respect and you will receive more now. the same treatment in return”.


Mildred Centeno

Making it good at the Hellenic Red Cross “Nakaya ko Kabayan, kaya mo rin”! By Miles Viernes in Greece

Hard work. Sacrifice. Determination. Faith in God. These and more helped Mildred Centeno overcome difficulties and made her into what she is today: a successful Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and an inspiration for all Filipinos.

of OFWs in Greece. She is the first and only Filipino member-volunteer of the Hellenic Red Cross (Ellinikos, Erythros, Stavrous EES), the largest nongovernmental organization in Greece. It is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies which are Mildred is not just one of the thousands committed to international humanitarian 33

Volunteer Work

principles and voluntary assistance to She has been a volunteer to EES for six alleviate human suffering in times of years helping our “kababayans” who war and peace. need assistance in the hospitals especially those who can’t speak the Greek language. Mildred has been a certified member of She has received a medal in recognition the Greek Red Cross since 2008 when of her dedication and exemplary service. she received her Diploma as a Samaritan “ I am happy and very lucky to have this ( EESSamariteis). To qualify, she had to big EES family who has given me the undergo and complete 15 months of study knowledge and opportunity to provide in First Aid Techniques and practicum urgent medical assistance to those in in a reputable hospital. She finished her need.” Mildred said. practicum at the Axepa Hospital and Papageorgio Hospital in Thessaloniki. As Mildred arrived in Athens in 1991 with a volunteer, she is involved in the fields the help of her sister who was already of health, social welfare and disaster working in Greece for several years. response activities. These medical Her first job was as a caretaker of an assistance activities have brought her to old woman. “When I arrived here, I felt various cities and islands of Greece. a mixture of loneliness and joy. I was

Volunteer Work

excited to live in a foreign country but at the same time, also sad to be miles away from my family. I was worried for the three children I left behind,” she said. “Lahat ng lungkot ay nagsilbing tatak ng tagumpay,” she added.

dedicate humanitarian and pet welfare services ,” she said. Mildred thus found a home and various jobs in Thessaloniki. Twenty years of hard work, sacrifice, patience and courage helped her attain her goal: the education of the children she left behind in the Philippines. She is now the proud mother and father of two daughters and one son who have all obtained college degrees in prestigious universities in Manila.

During the early years she tried her best to learn the Greek language by self study. She bought elementary Greek grammar books and an English-Greek dictionary which helped her eventually communicate well with her Greek employers, friends andthe man- on- thestreet. A devotee of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mildred believes in the power of After five long years, her employer prayers. Prayers gave her the strength died. She found other employers which to overcome the trials and challenges of allowed her flexible work hours. She living in a foreign country. decided to take up photography lessons. She divided her time, eight hours of And she inspires all OFWs - “Nakaya-ko work in the morning and three hours of Kabayan… kaya mo rin!” photography lessons in the evening. Her efforts paid off because after finishing her lesson, she found another job as a graphic photographer in a porcelain factory. On the side, she sold slides and photos she took of panoramic views of Greece to some factories and companies for their calendars. Mildred is an active member of the Filipino Organization in Northern Greece based in Thessaloniki andCandonians in Greece which is based in Athens. She is also a member of the Philippine Animal Lovers Society. “My kindness to pets inspired me to be a member and



Special feature

Special feature

Ver Cuizon

Our numero uno Art Impressario in Europe Interview by Oggie Maristela, Essen, Germany

Virgilio Bayani Godoy Cuizon, or Ver Cuizon for short, has been running Kunst Gallery in Essen Germany for over 20 years.Through his untiring efforts, at least three times a year, Filipino artists come to Europe to exhibit their artworks. This summer, architectural abstract artist Max Balatbat’s artworks will be exhibited in three major cities in Europe. First at the Chelsea Gallery in London from June 19-22, then at the Sala Fabiana in Florence from June 24-28 and at the Museum of Young Art in Vienna from July 1-14. The ongoing theme for these exhibitions has always been “Filipinism – What makes art Filipino”. 36

Please tell us, what is Filipinism all about? Filipinism, if I may quote Jose P. Laurel is “the assertion of one’s national birthright, with patriotism defined as love of country, as its primary element”. In the art scene, Filipinism is not a new movement. It is a way of showing the real identity of the artists as Filipinos through their art works. We use the word Filipinism as a legacy of our exhibitions in Europe. Filipinism is also the aesthetic conceptualization of the artist’s ideas, and the infusion of heart and soul in every piece they create. Everyone has his/her own way of molding personality and character to form a unique Filipino identity. Filipinism can begin from the inspiring childhood environment in which the artist observes and immerses himself in. It is not necessarily a place of origin, or the language you use or a specific genre or medium. One can be a Filipino living in a foreign land or using a different tongue. But the intricacies and knowledge of painting and the nature of medium come from Europe.

competition. This is where Filipinism started. This is what makes art Filipino. Aside from managing Kunst gallery, you are also an Art Lecturer, Curator, Art Critic, News Correspondent for Germany - ABS CBN Global Ltd, Multiawarded FILCOM leader. Where does your source of energy come from? I think that when you love what you do, you will have an endless supply of energy. For me, managing an art gallery is a passion, a hobby, but sometimes it is more than that; it becomes a challenge, or a venture, for I want to prove that the Filipino artists are among the best today. What motivated you to start Kunst Gallery? First of all, I thought there was a need for an art gallery to cater to the ever growing Filipino community in Europe. Then I really wanted to expose Filipino artists in the land of the masters, to prove that Filipino artists are among the best in the world when it comes to visual arts. If you think of what Luna and Hidalgo did in the European art world in 1884 (winning gold medals) and a few years ago, Max Balatbat, who won the Silver Medal at the Lorenzo Il Magnifico Award during the 7th Florence Biennale in Florence, Italy in the year 2009. You know Lorenzo? He actually comes from the powerful Medici family of Florence who hosted Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo Da Vinci in Florence in the 15th century.

Historically, Filipinism in the art world began during the impressionistic period when Juan Luna won the 1st gold medal with his masterpiece Spoliarium over European painters Antonio Munoz Degrain and Jose Moreno Carbonero from Spain who won the 2nd and 3rd gold medals respectively at the 11th Edition of Exposicion National Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain in the year 1884. There was also Felix Ressureccion Hidalgo who won one of the seven silver medals in the same Distributing



in 37

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Europe can also be a source of economic appreciation or support for the things rewards and can boost our economy back they are doing? home. If you mean in the Philippines… it’s generally vague. The support of What response do you get from the government is not enough. Art present-day Europeans when they see appreciation, which should be taught in contemporary Philippine visual art? schools, is barely a glimpse. It is good to You know art is art wherever you go, but it know that there are several art groups in was difficult at the beginning. It seems to me the Philippines that are supporting artists that Europeans bought Filipino paintings and doing lectures about art appreciation mainly as a souvenir or for emotional to the Filipinos. connection because they happen to have married a Filipina. But now after 20 years Do you have any favorite Filipino artists? they really appreciate our art. The proof Yes, I do. I like the abstract assertionism of is that European museums and galleries Rene Robles, the architectural abstract of have started to invite me to do exhibitions Max Balatbat, the expressionism of Edwin of Filipino artworks. Wilwayco, the neo-realism of Aris Bagtas and the hyperrealism of Fidel Sarmiento. What response do you get from Filipinos in Europe about Philippine visual art? Do you have any favorite European It’s mostly vague. Some are proud but artists? some are reluctant, in a sense that perhaps Most of all, I admire Leonardo da Vinci they don’t have enough knowledge about because of his intellect and creativity. And art in general. But the good thing is they Rembrandt, the genius behind chiaroscuro, are very supportive. which is the strong contrast between light and dark. Do you think contemporary Philippine visual art is on par with European visual What are your plans for the future for art? Kunst gallery? Of course, it is. Like I said earlier, if we If God permits and will give me more look back at the 19th century art, there strength I will continue with what I have were Filipino artists like Juan Luna and been doing – the exposure of Philippine art Felix Hidalgo who won several awards until I have proven that the Filipino artists in art competitions in Madrid. Every are among the best in the world today. now and then we have artists who win in international competitions. But we still We are grateful for Ver for sharing his need a proper and continuous exposure. passion for Filipino artworks with our kababayans in Europe. You may email Ver Do Filipino artists get enough at: 38

Special feature

Ver Cuizon’s Achievements & Awards: 1983 – 1985 Founding President, Barangay Sa Alemanya e.V. Filipino-German Association registered at the District Court of Essen, Germany 1985 – 1987 Founding President, Barangay Sa Europa e.V. (Confederation of Filipino Associations in Europe-Germany, The Netherland, Belgium & France) Seat: Brussels, Belgium 1993 – 1995 Founding President, Association Lending Assistance in Exigencies at Home e.V. also known as ALA EH e.V. 1995 Most Outstanding Leader Award - Awarded by Ambassador Francisco del Rosario & Phil Honorary Consulate General in Dusseldorf, Germany 2004 Recipient: BANAAG AWARD 2004 Presidential Citation, Awarded by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at Malacanang Palace “For promoting arts and culture in Europe and helping Filipino communities in the Philippines”. 2005 Man of the Year 2005, Commended by American Biographical Institute, North Carolina, USA. 12th of July, Published in book “Who’s Who of Professionals”, Edition 2005 2006 Linkapil Award, Presidential Citation given at Malacanang Palace by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 2008 Featured in the Coffee table Book “Mga Bagong Bayani” by Ricky Sadiosa 2010 Founding member - GFDC (Global Filipino Diaspora Council) 2011 President – KUNST Pilipino (Kapatiran at Ugnayan ng Natatanging Sining at Talentong Pilipino) 2012 Member - Association of Professional Journalists in Germany Member - Association of International Press 2013 Member of Executive Committee- GFDC (Global Filipino Diaspora Council)




Christian Angelo Schmettau A Filipino-German wunderkind wows Costa Brava by Catherine de Leon Arevalo Gamalinda in Costa Brava, Spain Christian Angelo Schmettau was born channel showing German folk music on August 1, 1997 in Quezon City to a to a noontime Telenovela show. Angelo Filipina mother and a German father. started crying but when the cousin switched back to the music channel, One day, when Angelo was 6 months Angelo calmed down. This was repeated old, his parents discovered his great several times with similar results. love for music. They would usually put him in front of the TV after his daily On his first birthday, out of the countless morning shower, while they would do presents he got, he showed most interest some household chores. During one in playing with toy drums and xylophone of those mornings, while Angelo was instead of toy cars or teddy bears. He slept watching TV, his cousin changed the best when music was in the background. 40

In 1998, when Angelo was 16 months old, enough, at the back side of the CD she his family migrated to Spain, to the small saw that it was indeed a piece by Vivaldi. city of Lloret de Mar, in Costa Brava. Later on, his parents told the story at the Music School and the teachers just At the age of three, Angelo’s parents smiled and told them Angelo was born enrolled him at the local Music with a natural gift of music. Conservatory, which normally does not admit children his age, but the school One day, a Russian professor and Doctor recognized his talent and great interest of Music, Irina Bronikova discovered in music, so he was accepted. His parents Angelo has a good singing voice and encouraged him to learn to play the trained him in vocalization and piano. violin, but he showed more interest in They have now been training together playing the piano and the acoustic guitar. for the past ten years. Professor Irina told Angelo’s parents that she had never When Angelo was six years old, while before met a student so young possessing frolicking in the bathroom, his mother a four octave vocal range. put on a new instrumental CD that she had just bought. Then she heard Angelo’s first concert was at a festival at Angelo shouting from the bathroom the neighboring town of Santa Coloma. “Mamma, that’s Vivaldi!” His mother At four years of age, he mesmerized the asked him again, what he had just said audience by singing “Maria” by Ricky and he shouted again: “It’s Vivaldi!” True Martin. Then he continued learning 41


Italian opera, with Pavarotti as his idol. He participated in several concerts, mostly held in hotels in Lloret de Mar and he was always invited during the Russian Cat Festival. He was also a soloist at Christmas concerts at the Home for the Aged of Lloret de Mar, and he has been awarded several certificates, trophies and plaques of appreciation. In 2009, a group of music professors from the Music Conservatory of Santa Marta trained Angelo to sing with a live band, and sometimes he would accompany the band as a pianist. At the age of seven, Angelo was inspired to join a stage play at the local Theatre which he enjoyed immensely. This made him even more ambitious, and he told his parents he wanted to be an actor.

happiness and fulfillment. The group has composed two songs of their won: “No more Wars” and “Ready to Drink”. Aside from all this, Angelo showed another natural talent, a secret revealed when his parents saw some fascinating art works he had created. Without any lessons in fine arts, he could paint from his emotions and imaginations. In 2012, Angelo enrolled in the martial arts of Taekwondo and has now started to join competitions. This is another of his interests that he wants to pursue and excel at. Planning for a future career, Angelo’s heart and mind are open to all possibilities, but he will definitely pursue a degree in Arts & Music, as well as continue to share his talents, join competitions and develop his other interests. Angelo is inspired and encouraged by his growing number of fans, as well as his family and friends, and he is forever grateful for their support throughout his musical career.

In 2011, when Angelo was thirteen, his voice was already well developed and he sounded very much like a grown-up. He joined a group of young guitarists who formed a rock band called “Hot Belt”, surprising the members of the band with his overwhelming voice. The band joined several national competitions, always You may follow Angelo thru his Facebook making it to the top. and Twitter pages (Hot Belt) or search for him at YouTube (Christian Angelo “Razzmatazz” is a place in Barcelona Schmettau). Or even better, visit Angel’s very well known for its rock music. Café & Bar at Lloret De Mar in Costa Brava, Here Angelo and his group performed owned by his Filipina mother Catherine. regularly, and the experience not only This place offers musical entertainment taught them to continue developing their in German, Belgian, French, Spanish, musical talents, but also convinced them English and Filipino. Bienvenidos! that it is through music one can find 42


Timicheg A Portrait of a Filipino Explorer in Europe in the 1900s

Or how a tunnel in Ghent, Belgium got its name By Desiree Muñoz was in Manila in 1895 so say, Bontoc, Imagine you are from a community in might have been without electricity yet. Northern Philippines in the year 1913. Paint a picture of how people all over The first electricity in the archipelago the world communicated way back then

Timicheg, Who?


without electricity and mobile phones and computers, not even a post office. You retire early tonight, tomorrow is a big hunting day and you have to perform a ritual to thank nature for food. You are an important man in the community. The Spanish knew of your existence in the capital of Manila but is wise enough to not bother you, lazy perhaps? They must have tried and have been proven less strong, time and again.

group of people traversing the foot of the hill where your house is erected, they were drawing nearer and the odd man out has become more apparent. "Who could this be?", you thought to yourself as you lounge and chew.

“Buenas dias!", he greeted loudly. In fact, the guy dazzled you with an abrupt close-up of his wide face, cutt ing your thoughts that lingered longer than the At sundown, you tuck away your sunduk usual. containing your betel for safe-keeping; sat leisurely on the Hagabi and prepared "I am Richard Schneidewind, an to chew a piece before the fi nal spit and American impresario of the International call it a day. From afar, you noticed a World Fair, hablo un poco Español?"

Inauguration of the Timichegtunnel headed by Philippine Ambassador to Belgium Enrique Manalo and Ghent City Mayor Daniel Termont. 44

“What a funny sight!”, says your thought bubble betraying your dead serious facial expression. Triggered by the view of this man's roasted skin that looked as if tinted by a red flower, you smiled a bit, a habit when you see something strongly peculiar. A few minutes more of lingering thoughts, you finally addressed this stranger infront of you now.

in Ghent from April to October, 1913. One of the attractions of the Fair was the “Filipino Village”, wherein the group displayed their traditional activities. In an article in Flanders Today dated December 22, 2010, Andre Capiteyn of the Ghent city archive described how the Igorots perform in the Fair:

“English is fine,” you said in a calm voice. "Their self-made Igorot village was a major attraction: the Indians (sic) sat there "Great! To be quite honest, my Spanish half-naked weaving baskets, pounding is not that good, either." The guy replied rice, carving woodcuts and playing gong with a big grin and an almost uncalled- music, and once in a while they would for enthusiasm. And you shook each perform war dances or hold competitions other's hands. in spear throwing or tree climbing. If they got cold, they would make a fire by It took some serious thoughts and talks rubbing bamboo sticks together." to get there, but the next thing you know you are in a steam engine boat with a big In his Philippine Daily Inquirer article group of people. You see familiar faces; entitled “Timicheg” dated October 24, people from your own community, most 2006, Filipino Historian Ambeth Ocampo you even have to personally convince to cited the following research findings of come with you. You knew it would take Dr. Patricia O. Afable about Timicheg: you to a place called Europe where the current colonizers are from. And to the “… (He) was part of a group of 55 Filipinos best of your knowledge and experience, from Bontoc who traveled to France you knew it was to perform powerful in the spring of 1911. Their services rituals to help people on that side of the were contracted by a veteran of the world rid themselves of greedy spirits. Filipino-American War named Richard Schneidewind who made friends with If you imagined, then you were Timicheg. the Filipinos "displayed" in the St. Louis Exposition of 1904, where he maintained a tobacco concession.” An Igorot Tribesman in Europe Timicheg was, in fact, an Igorot tribesman. He was part of the Filipinos group from Afable is an anthropologist based in the Bontoc, Mountain Province, Philippines Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., who who participated in the World's Fair held specializes in American Indians. Ocampo 45

further wrote that Timicheg’s group was first a big hit in the St. Louis Expo in USA, and that Richard Schneidewind took them on a tour through France, England and Belgium. In Belgium, a new Sint-Pieters railway station was built at the occasion of the 1913 world exhibition in Ghent. It was designed by architect Louis Cloquet and finished in 1912 just before the World Exhibition. Built in an eclectic style, the station has a long corridor “dividing the building in its length which provides access to diverse facilities”. The detailed description of the Fair is available on

Name plate on the tunnel’s wall. March 2013. 46

A major attraction as the Filipino Village was in the World’s Fair, this adventure proved fatal especially to Timicheg. Four months after his arrival in Ghent, he died on August 13, 1913. Some reports say he died after catching Tuberculosis, then a common disease in Europe and was unknown in the Philippines , other versions say Timicheg died of depression and the cold weather . "His fellow villagers keened and wailed to keep evil spirits from troubling his departed soul". Meanwhile, the Fair ended in August 1913, yet the group is said to have lingered around the city of Ghent until 13 December 1913. The American impresario

Richard Schneidewind “disappeared with the profits and left the Filipinos alone and helpless” ; another version says Schneidewind encountered financial difficulties and has gone missing-inaction . The group’s interpreters– Ellis Tongai and James Amok reportedly wrote a letter to US President Woodrow Wilson requesting for help to return to the Philippines. “The US consul in Ghent took the Bontoc people to Marseilles, where they caught a steamer back to Manila”.

Timichegtunnel also serves as the entry point to an underground parking lot. At the entrance from Sint-Denijslaan, two name plates are placed on each side of the tunnel wall that says: “Timichegtunel: Timicheg ("Bontoc Filippijnen 1885 – +Gent 1913), overleden in het Filippijns dorp van de Wereldtentoonstelling 1913.”

In English: Timichegtunel: Timicheg ("Bontoc Filipino 1885 – +Gent 1913), deceased in Thereafter, the display of “exotic peoples” the Filipino Village of the World’s Fair was banned from World Fairs. And fast- 1913. forward to today, a tunnel completed in year 2011 in Belgium’s Gent Sint-Pieters Gent-Sint-Pieters Station is Ghent’s main station was named after Timicheg. station and is one of the busiest railway stations in Belgium, its renovation started Timichegtunnel since 1996. The Timichegtunnel is a part The naming of the tunnel after Timicheg of the "Project Gent-Sint-Pieters", a longhas been possible with a resolution term infrastructure development plan of passed in 2007 by the Gent City Council, the Gent Sint-Pieters train station and its the intention being “to commemorate the environs set for completion by 2020. Gent World's Exhibition of 1913 through the naming streets and tunnels after Others, including Ghent mayor Daniel notable participants of this historical Termont were said to oppose the naming event”. of the tunnel to Timicheg, however, the Gent-Sint-Pieters project committee The Timichegtunnel itself had been held firm and Capiteyn explains the inaugurated in May 5, 2011 through a committee’s firm position on naming it ribbon-cutting ceremony headed by the after Timicheg, "several street names in Philippine Ambassador to Belgium and the area refer to prominent Gentenaars the Mayor of Ghent. Currently, it is who made fortunes out of the world accessible to the public, to pedestrians exposition in 1913… Can we be allowed and bikers that wish to shortly cross the therefore to give one of the streets the streets of Sint-Denijslaan and Koningin name of a little man who lost his life Fabiolaan. Above the tunnel is a railway. there in miserable circumstances?". 47

Finally, during the inauguration, Filipino Ambassador Enrique Manalo ended his speech with this heed: "Let the naming of this tunnel be a positive symbol of the recognition of human-centered development and celebration of cultural diversity through non-exploitative means by the international community". Can you imagine? The 19th century Filipino explorer Timicheg is still winning battles centuries-long after his death, an every inch a portrait of a brave Filipino explorer, then and now.

Main Sources: Ocampo, Ambeth. “Looking back: Timicheg.” Published online, October 24, 2006. Last accessed 29 may 2013, http://opinion. /inquireropinion /columns/ view/20061024-28507/Timicheg. Philippine Embassy in Belgium. “Inauguration of Timichegtunnel in Ghent.” Published online, May 10, 2011. Last accesed 29 May 2013, php?option=com_content&view=article&id =418&Itemid=84. Hope, Alan. “Face of Flanders: Timicheg.” Published online, December 22, 2010. Last accessed 29 May 2013,

Train passing above the tunnel. May 2013. 48

Gent-Sint-Pieters Station in Ghent, Belgium. 49

For the 13th time around, on May 2526 in Helsinki, cultural groups from various corners of the world gathered at Kaisaniemi Park in Helsinki to celebrate The World Village Festival.

The Lasten Tulevaisuus Childrens Association fundraising at

The World Festival in Helsinki By Anne Tafalla in Helsinki, Finland 50

every year, selling Filipino food, with the aim to raise funds for their many projects and activities. The Associations Executive Board members are elected every year during the annual general meeting held between April and June. These positions are voluntary and no one receives any remuneration. For the year 2013, the following officers were elected: Margaret Aguila-Jaakola, Chair, Katherine Ojala, Vice-Chair, Caridad Nyberg, Secretary, Saara Nisonen, Treasurer, and Armando Agillon and Laura Waris, Board Members.

The main organizer of this festival is the KEPA, which is an umbrella organization for nearly 300 development organizations and NGOs working on common issues concerning development and globalization. KEPA itself is an organization that operates with funding from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over 500 other partners are involved in the festival, including some 300 NGOs as well as educational institutions, public authorities Membership is open to all nationalities and business entities. residing in the EU countries. Members are comprised mainly of Filipinos and Since 1995, The World Village festival has Finns living in Finland and a few Filipinos been a free festival for people of all ages. living in the EU countries as well. To date The event is open to all as a meeting place, the organization has 46 members. offering windows to different cultures and surprising cultural discoveries. Lasten Tulevaisuus Children Association The festival offers new perspectives on is a non-profit, non-governmental multiculturalism, as well as developmental charitable organization committed to cooperation and other global issues that help and support education and child may lead to expansion of possibilities for development programs for indigent but life enrichment. There are also booths for deserving children in the Philippines, to organizations with information and the get the homeless out of the streets, and services they offer, like exotic bazaars, food to give them a hope and a future. This vendors and other commercial activities. foundation is a member of the Service Center for Development (KEPA) in The Lasten Tulevaisuus Children Finland. Another mission is to financially Association, founded on February support sustainable projects through 2006 by a group of Filipino residents of partnerships with Philippine NGOs or Finland, who were determined to share non-governmental organizations whose their blessings to the less fortunate in purposes and programs are in line with the Philippines, is present at this festival those of Lasten Tulevaisuus. 51

The Patras Carnival A must see for Filipino Greeks Words & photos by Wilhelmina A. Mendoza

Tens of thousands of people filled the long stretch of Korinthou St. in the City of Patra, 134 mi. West of Athens, Greece to watch the big and grand parade of colorful floats and costumes of the yearly celebration called Patrino Karnavali or Patras Carnival, the biggest carnival celebration of its kind here in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe.

Next to it was the float of its queen who is actually a beautiful lady throwing kisses to the crowd. Hundreds of Filipinos took part in this celebration. They didn’t mind the almost four hours of travel just to grace the spectacular parade which is famous all over the world. They also wore their costumes and masks; some even danced on the side streets before the parade started and celebrated the joy of the day with the big crowd. Young and old, men and women, everybody had fun. “Enjoy na enjoy kami. Napakaganda ng mga float nila, ang gaganda ng mga costume nila…halos ayaw na naming umuwi. Enjoy na enjoy lalo na yung mga bata. Siguro sa susunod na taon babalik ulit kami dahil mamimiss namin yung mga napanood namin kanina na talagang napakasaya.” Mr. Lito Gapate, one of the Pinoy tourists who was able to view the parade exclaimed.

Different groups and organizations showed off their artistry through their costumes of different colorful hues and stylistic designs, some of which depicted how they feel about the current economic crisis of the country. And the big grand floats, some of which served as political satire due to the comical designs of the characters in the float got the most attention. There was a float that symbolized the troika, the trikephalos that symbolized the three ruling parties of Greece, a float for the syntaxiouchi or pensioners and many more which showed Greek ingenuity, craftsmanship and artistry. Of course, the most spectacular float of all was the float of “The carnival was amazing!” those the king carnival, the key character of were the only words 13 year old Jona the event presented in all its splendour. Rose Manalo was able to say after being 52

stunned by the majestic parade she saw. They were also able to shop for some souvenirs depicting the occasion and the city showing the important roles of Patras in the history of Greece. Aside from the parade of floats, other important events in the Patras carnival celebrations were treasure hunting, burning of King Carnival, fireworks display and the famous chocolate war wherein boys and girls in the floats throw chocolates to spectators. Patras Carnival has been celebrated for more than 160 years. But now it is


related to religious traditions, Lent in particular. History says that during this period, devotees celebrate and eat all kinds of food and meat as long as they could for the last time. The celebration of Patras Carnival closes on a Sunday and the next Monday, known as the Kathara Deftera or Clean Monday, marks the start of the 40- day Lenten Season here in Greece following the Eastern Orthodox Calendar. This time devotees refrain from eating foods such as meat, fats, dairy and sugar until the whole Lenten Season ends. Filipinos, being overwhelmingly religious, follow Christian traditions wherever they are in any part of the world.

Pinoys watching the parade 53

Float depicting the pensioners

Float depicting the trikephalos

Pinoys watching the parade

King Carnival Float Pinoys in their Masks

Pinoys in their costumes 54

Queen Carnival float

Float symbolizing the troika 55

Filigree engaste in white turquiose set in 99.9 silver /pendant

Helena Alegre

Jewelry sculptress by Donna Lopez Manio 56

Helena Alegre lives many lives. She gets up even before the sun rises in order to attend to her three children. After that, she is then seen wearing many hats, crisscrossing several worlds gracefully as she does so. Helena is muse to Hermes Alegre, her acclaimed painter husband; a well-loved figure in her adopted hometown of Daet, Camarines Norte, where she usually participates in civic activities; a friend and mentor to aspiring artists of all ilks; a nurse in the making; and, primarily, Helena Alegre is an artist. A former member of theBayanihan National Dance Company and Fine Arts graduate of the Philippine Women’s University, Helena has turned to creating sculptural jewelry as her form of artistic expression. This shouldn’t come as a

surprise; art is obviously in the woman’s blood. It is also her life. “Whenever I’d go to the market, I’d make sure to arrange the vegetables in my bayong really nicely. The greens would be jutting out of the bag and the other vegetables would be placed in an order in which the colors would look pleasing to the eye,” she jokes. Although said in jest, this presents a glimpse of how Helena sees things: everything is always full of life, beautiful, and interesting. This spills over to the sculptural jewelry she creates. Before she ventured into working on sculptural jewelry, Helena first dabbled into making accessories using string, antique beads, and semi-precious stones. Putting different elements together wasn’t 57

Beetle engaste in black sardonyx/ pendant set in 99.9 silver

enough to quell Helena’s desire to be challenged artistically. In 1997, the artist met George Sison, one of her mentors, and was immediately enamoured by semiprecious stones and their metaphysical attributes. This also prompted Helena to work with a more challenging elements: fire and silver.

manipulate silver through private lessons fromartisans trained by the late Ely Arcilla and many silversmiths. Her hometown, Daet, CamarinesNorte, is blessed with many natural resources, silver being one of them. She notes that one of her dreams is to help revive the jewelry industry in her adopted hometown and put it in the map once again. “I would love for Daet to “It wasn’t an easy start,” she emphasizes. be known and remembered for its jewelry “After I had kids, I started working on and designs. Also, I want to be able to jewelry art in 2005. It was more serious provide jobs to our local silversmiths.” that time around. Hard work was the key to everything. I had to save up a lot A Helena Alegre sculptural jewelry piece before I could start working with silver- is marked by fine craftsmanship, attention --it took me quite a long time. It was a to detail, and original designs. “I’m not huge risk, but it paid off.”Once she felt formally trained; I did not go to school that the time was right, Helena Alegre to learn how to work with silver. It takes set up a home studio and learned how to so much discipline and perseverance.” 58


Filigree engaste in Black sardonyx set in 99.9 silver/pendant

Inspired by jewelry designer Celia Molano, and renowned sculptors Boy Caedo, EdCastrillo and Gabriel Barredo, she also draws more creative fuel from the natural world: animals, insects, and flowers are prevalent in her work. She also credits Tiny Nuyda, a fellow artist and president of PhilKulisap, for sharing with her a passion for insects. The artist also respects her material. When working with semi-precious stones, she makes sure to bring out their natural beauty. “My works look rough to an extent. I want to make them look really hand-crafted. I usually design with a stone’s shape and texture in mind. It’s like I am enhancing what’s already there.”

continuously honed her skill as a sculptural jewelry artist before taking on bigger projects. “There would be nights when my mind would just be filled with so many ideas and I would sketch furiously until I had them all out. I love seeing how something I drew could be made into something three dimensional, something wearable and beautiful,” she shares. Today, Helena works on cocktail rings - which she quips are fit for selfdefence - and pendants. Her style has also evolved; each of her works is now more ornate and intricate.

Heavily influenced by Philippine heritage andFilipiniana designs, Helena has made a filigree collection, a nod Beginning with small rings, Helena to Paracale’scontribution to Philippine 60


Iguana engaste in Fire agate stone set in 99.9 silver/pendant

jewelry design.Her dedication to her artistic vision has caused the Department of Trade and Industry to take notice and give her support. Helen now works closely with Director Ernesto R. Pardo, Jewelry Coordinator Leora A. Puso, and the CamarinesNorte Jeweller Association. “They’ve helped me grow as an artist,” she says. “They’ve been very nurturing and I’m very grateful.” Helena is also included in Kayumanggi, an encyclopaedia of artists in the Philippines and Book of Artists. Helena Alegre, though visible in many circuits, remains somewhat reclusive and elusive. She does enjoy the company of others, but chooses to immerse herself in her art most of the time. “I am a mother 62

and wife and do many things. Whenever I can—and I am sure to make time--- I just focus on working on my designs.” Helena is currently working on exhibit pieces that will hopefully bring pride and job opportunities to Daetenos. If you look at her very closely, it’s easy to see that the woman breathes and lives art: with short, spiked hair occasionally cut by her husband, she walks the tightrope while juggling many tasks with much finesse. The wife, mother, Daetena, friend, nurse-to-be, and sculptural jewelryartist makes it all look oh so simple, it could easily slip one’s mind that Helena is very capable of handling the blow torch quite effectively, shaping silver into beautiful works of art.

Photo credits: Bob Cano, Lem Francia, and Richie Macapinlac This article was originally published in Wika Magazine, a Filipino-American online journal.

Donna Lopez Manio is a single mother, writer, digital media marketing specialist, and aspiring fashion designer. She writes for Manila-based publications such as ABSCBN’s Metro Society Magazine and Hola! Magazine Philippines. When she’s not working and beating deadlines, Donna spends time with her four year old and her close friends. She likes art, literature, fashion, and culture among other things. At night, she turns into a spandexwearing cat to battle crime. 63

Santacruzan in Lisbon Words and photos by Leilani Cuyos Yu

For the first time, Santacruzan, this traditional May parade that culminates Flores de Mayo in many Philippine Catholic churches, was held in Lisbon. Comunidade Católica Filipina (Filipino Catholic Community), based in Igreja do Corpo Santo, under the chaplaincy of Fr. Jovito Osalvo, SVD, organized the first ever Santacruzan in Portugal. Held in the afternoon of the 26th of May, the parade ended the community's month64

Queen of Peace, of Stars, of Angels, of Justice, of Charity and of Hope. The last one was the Reyna Elena. Mounted on a platform adorned with spring flowers and carried on the shoulders of four men, the statue of the Virgin Mary was visible. A 40-man band provided the parade music. Buses, trains and cars were stopped to allow the procession of around 400 people proceed from Igreja do Corpo Santo to the historic Praça do Comércio, a popular tourist area at the heart of Lisbon. People, locals and tourists alike, watched the

parade went by, many asked questions about the event, more took pictures. Lumpia, pansit, dinugu-an and puto and some more traditional Filipino foods were served and shared in the church grounds after the parade. For the Filipino community in Lisbon that numbered around 1,500, this is a milestone. Up until then, the streets of Lisbon had not hosted any Philippine tradition.

long celebration of the Flores de Mayo for the Virgin Mary. Boys and girls in angel costumes, bringing flower baskets and letters that spelled AVE MARIA were at the top of the parade. They were followed by eight young Filipinas dressed in colorful traditional gowns, escorted by men in barong tagalog. The ladies represented seven attributes of the Virgin Mary65

Spain, Switzerland, and U.S.A., to learn having a group of at least ten individuals more about the Philippines and its people. in order for the Commission to conduct a Lakbay-Aral Program. Moreover, the OBJECTIVES program is also open to anyone who would The program seeks to provide youth like to learn more about the Philippines. overseas with opportunities to trace their roots and rediscover their identities as Program modules may be developed Filipinos. After the two-week experiential by interested groups in consideration of program in the Philippines, the participants their interests and availability. Interested should have a better understanding and participants will be required to submit appreciation of the Philippines and its the duly accomplished registration people. The experience and knowledge form, parental consent, and medical gained will hopefully serve as catalyst in authorization. We can also customize a the participant's search for and realization study tour program for your group so that of his/her Filipino identity. we can minimize and adjust the fees.

Lakbay-Aral Program A two week cultural immersion programme in the Philippines

What is the Lakbay-Aral program?

Lakbay-Aral is a Filipino term which means "travel study". It is a two-week cultural immersion program in the Philippines. The Lakbay-Aral, developed and implemented by CFO since 1983, enables Filipino youth overseas to rediscover their Filipino roots and appreciate the richness and diversity of their heritage. The program combines lectures on Philippine history and language and guided tours to scenic and historical landmarks. Interaction with Filipino students, public officials and members of indigenous communities and participation in local festivities are also 66

included in the program.


Lakbay-Aral is the result of a survey conducted by CFO in 1981 among immigrants from selected cities of Canada and U.S.A. The survey showed that immigrants agreed that it was important for their children to know and appreciate their Filipino heritage. The Lakbay-Aral program which was first implemented in 1983 has been conducted in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. The program has enabled 180 participants from France,


The activity is an immersion program in the Philippine studies which enables participants to learn and appreciate Filipino socio-cultural dynamics and environment through field tours combined with on-site lectures conducted at historical landmarks and scenic spots in selected urban and rural areas in the Philippines.


The program cost includes all inland transportation, food (breakfast, lunch and dinner), hotel accommodation, tour packages, and medical and accident insurance for the duration of the program. The program fee does not cover international airfare to and from Manila.

An actual exposure to Filipino customs, traditions, arts and crafts is highlighted by the participants' participation in traditional festivities. The program also offers opportunity for interaction with Filipino students, government and community leaders, and members of the indigenous community.


The program is open to all Filipinos or of Filipino descent abroad who are 15 years old and above. The program also requires 67



Maquinit Hotspring Some of the islands one can see when landing and taking off at Busuanga airport. The photo was taken in the middle of the dry season hence the islands are quite brown in color

Enchanting Coron Words and photos by Pops de los Santos If you are a nature lover, you would to the Philippines, Coron was first in my definitely be attracted to Coron. travel itinerary after visiting my family. I have fallen in love with Coron even before I personally saw it. The advances in technology allow you to learn about places that you’ve never been to and people that you’ve never met. It was in 2010 when I first learned about the beauty of Coron through friends. So, in my succeeding visit 68

The sight before our plane landed in Busuanga airport is fascinating. I saw beautiful islands scattered down there. The first time I visited Coron was during the middle of a rainy season. The islands looked naturally greener then. The second time was in the middle of the dry season,

the islands looked a bit brown but was still looking amazing. I’ve been to many beautiful places in the Philippines in connection with my work Coron is known as the wreck diving capital but I cannot resist the beauty and charm of the Philippines. It is also considered of Coron that I have now decided to make as one of the world’s top scuba diving it my next home. destinations. Besides 12 World War II Japanese shipwrecks which have become Coron municipality home to colorful fishes and corals, there Coron municipality is not located are also underwater caves, geothermal inCoronisland.Coronisland is only a part lakes, coral reefs and limestone walls that of a bigger Coron municipality. Coron make diving a fantastic adventure for municipality comprises more than half of experienced and inexperienced divers. Busuanga island, the biggest island in the Calamianes group of islands, plus Coron For those who are not into diving, Coron island and other smaller islands and islets. nevertheless, offers wonderful sights to It is located at the northernmost part of explore and a snorkeling experience to Palawan, Philippines. Because the airport cherish for a lifetime. It is a sight to behold (Francisco B. Reyes airport) and the above water and underwater. seaport are both in Coron, the place also 69



Beautiful sunset as viewed from Mt Tapyas view deck

serves as jump-off point of tourists and people going the Calamian archipelago and also the center of trade and business in the area.

Attractions& Activities

1. Siete Pecados SietePecados is one of the best sites to snorkel around Coron. Here, you feel like swimming in an open aquarium, with great variety of colorful fishes and beautiful corals.It is a marine sanctuary consisting of seven islets and its surrounding waters. It is only 15 minutes boat (banca) ride from Coron town pro

Blessed with pristine white beaches, turquoise waters, awesome limestone cliffs, volcanic lakes, natural hot springs, caves, enchanting lagoons, stunning coral reefs, a thriving marine population, plus World War II shipwrecks for a piece of Philippine history, Coron is undoubtedly 2. Kayangan Lake one of the best places to visit and to explore Kayangan Lake is one of several enchanting in the Philippines. hidden lakes in Coronislandand only a 20-minute boat (banca) ride from Coron Coron Island town proper.The water in Kayangan Coron Island is the 3rd largest island in the Lake is clear, clean, calm, and brackish, a Calamianes group of islands. The entire combination of warm seawater and water island is designated as Ancestral Domain from cold mountain springs. of the indigenous Tagbanua people. Only two out of several lakes in Coronisland are 3. Barracuda Lake open to visitors. Hidden behind majestic limestone walls, 70

Hollywood style “Coron” town sign as seen from Lualhati Park beside Coron Bay

Barracuda lake is named after a large barracuda fish that inhabits there. Here, divers experience changes in water temperatures ranging from 28C to 38C, and can see thermoclines (a variation of water temperature at the surface and deeper below) at depth of 4 and 14 meters. Source of info.: www.philippinediving. com 4. Twin Lagoon An about 2 meter-wide hole connects the two lagoons. During low tide as can be seen in above photo, you can see the hole and can easily swim from one lagoon to the other. During high tide, it is an exciting adventure to swim through the hole to get to the other lagoon. Another way of going from one lagoon to the other during high tide is to climb the ladder shown in above photo.

5. Mt. Tapyas The base of Mt. Tapyas can be reached by about 5 minutes walk from Coron town proper. The climb to the top of the mountain takes 700+ steps, less than an hour via paved stairs that begins beside a basketball court and ends at the viewdeck. In between flight of stairs are shaded areas where you can rest or catch your breath. There are also handrails installed from the base up to the last step of the concrete stairs and at the top of the mountain. The viewdeck at the top offers a panoramic vista of the town and the surrounding islands. It is also an ideal place to view the beautiful sunrise and sunset in Coron. 6. Maquinit Hotspring A dip at the salty water of Maquinit Hotspring relaxes and rejuvenates your tired body after you’ve done island hopping, trekking or whatever activity 71


Amazing limestone walls and unique rock formations on the way to Kayangan Lake

you had during the day. It is located 5 in 1977, it is home to both endemic kilometers away (or a tricycle ride away) animals and African wildlife. Here, animals from Kenya such as giraffes and from Coron town proper. elands, zebras and gazelles co-exist with endemic Philippine animals such as the 7. Other Attractions and Activities Looking at a tourism map of a popular Palawan bearcat, mousedeer and peacock eco-tourism entity in Coron, I noticed pheasant. The island is also home to more that there are stilllots of attractive places than seventy species of birds, of which that I still have to explore and experience ten of them are rare. there. Black island, Dibutonay island, Malcapuya island, Banana island, One other interesting island we have Malaroyroy island, Calumbuyan island visited while we were in Coronis are just few of them plus few more Culion, the second largest island in the interesting marine parks, in addition to Calamianes. Culion was once the world’s the twelve Japanese shipwrecks in which largest leper colony for nearly a century. some are shallow enough for snorkeling. After the declaration of World Health Organization that leprosy has been When you are in Coron, other interesting totally eradicated, Culion has started to islands in the Calamianes archipelago are attract local and foreign tourists because also nearby. One is Calauit island which of its colorful history, in addition to its is located on the other side of Busuanga breathtaking nature and unique sets of island. Declared by the government as flora and fauna. a game preserve and wildlife sanctuary 72


Kayangan Lake has clear, clean, calm and brackish (combination of salt and fresh) water. It takes about 10 mins hiking up and down the rainforest to reach this lake

Establishments in Coron

Tourism in Coron has been booming after the opening ofBusuanga airport in 2008. Since then, the number of tourists has increased many times over. This resulted in continuing construction of hotels, lodges, resorts and related establishments to accommodate and service increasing number of visitors.


With the government now realizing the potential of tourism in the nation’s economic progress, we can expect new constructions and/or improvement of roads, bridges, airports and seaports all over the country. When I first visited Coron in mid2011, lots of bridges there were in state of disrepair you would feel bit nervous to cross it. But in my second visit there last February 2013, I noticed that those bridges have already been replaced

with new concrete and steel structures. The local government of Coron has also already solved the perennial water supply problem. The power problem will also be soon a thing of the past with the construction of a new power plant which will have a capacity of more than triple the current capacity. In addition, Coron will soon have a high-speed internet and telecommunications network with the on-going laying and installation of fiber optic cables in Palawan by Globe Telecommunications company.

Health Concern

There are no malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Coron and in Calamianes group of islands. However, you should take normal precaution as you would in any place with ordinary mosquitoes. Applying mosquito repellent on exposed skin when sitting outside at night is 73



The way to Barracuda Lake which is located behind the towering limestone walls is to climb up and down the wooden stairway (in this photo, at the middle of limestone walls, top of the kissing couple). This is accessible via a 20-min banca ride from Coron town proper. The climb up and down the stairs to reach the lake is shorter than in Kayangan Lake

always advisable.

visited by typhoons.

Peace and Order

How to Get There

The atmosphere in Coron is very peaceful, with very low (almost zero) crime rate. The people in Coron are touristfriendly. Tricyle drivers and boatmen are also oriented to act as tour guides. A prominent Coronian told me that people in Coron have jobs. This fact plus the natural beauty of the surroundings could be the reason why Coron is a peaceful place. But as they say, there are good and bad people everywhere,so exercising a bit of caution is always advised.

There are daily flights to Coron from Manila(Manila-Busuanga) and vice versa via Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, and Zest Air. There are also boat trips from/to Manila, Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and other islands.

Where to stay in Coron

Darayonan Lodge (affordable and pleasant) http://darayonan-coron-weebly-com/ index.html

Club Paradise (quite expensive but As can be seen from the hazard maps of luxurious) the Philippine Institute of Volcanology htt p:// and Seismology, thereare no active faults traversing in and along the whole If you want more info on Coron, please province of Palawan. It is also seldom email

Risks from Natural Calamities


Snorkeling at Siete Pecados

References and links,-thenatural-wonderland About the author: Pops delos Santos is a Certified Public Accountant and a licensed Real Estate Broker in the Philippines. She presently resides in Nieuwegein, Netherlands. 75



Kayangan Bay, probably the most photographed area in Coron. This view is what you see when you reach the top of the rainforest going to Kayangan Lake by hiking via a carved path. At this point, you can check out the lagoon where you came from and where the boats are parked. Beside this point lies the mouth of a cave that is not yet opened to the public.

Barracuda lake 76

The big metal cross on top of Mt Tapyas is a popular landmark for surrounding areas of the island

Twin Lagoons – an about two meter wide hole connects the two lagoons. During low tide, as can be seen in the above photo, one can easily see the hole and can easily swim from one lagoon to the other. During high tide, it is an exciting adventure to swim through the hole to get to the other lagoon. Another way of going from one lagoon to the other during high tide is to climb the ladder shown in the above photo 77

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Roots & Wings Summer Issue 2013  

A quarterly online magazine for Filipinos in Europe, published by Rachel Publishing Company in Stockholm, Sweden. Its aim is (1) to uplift,...

Roots & Wings Summer Issue 2013  

A quarterly online magazine for Filipinos in Europe, published by Rachel Publishing Company in Stockholm, Sweden. Its aim is (1) to uplift,...

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