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Roots&Wings CULTURE



Hermes Alegres Artworks • Danny Buenafe Senator Richard Gordon • Barrio Fiesta Sa London Dr Jose P Rizal • The Sagada & Banaue Experience Secrets of the Calamianes • A piece of Old Boracay Just Like Heaven in Panglao • Rediscover Philippines Viewing Boracay from the Top Nr 7 3EUR



A quarterly 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.


Hermes Alegre – Feature Artist- inspired by everyday life


Cultural Coups – Ateneo, Rizal & Music


The Buen Network – Interview with Danny Buenafe – ABS CBN News Bureau Chief in Europe & the M E


Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon – Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross visits Norway


The Philippines and the International Maritime Organisation


Michael Cu wows audience in Brussels Concert Hall


Barrio Fiesta Sa London celebrates its 27th year 1617 july 2011


Katrina Larida – from trainee to permanent employment


Dr Abelardo “Abel” Galang – world class Filipino pianist in Berlin


Dr Jose P Rizal – his birthplace and poems


Dr Resurrecion Ong Esmeña Koksvik – Chief Medical Consultant – Oslo Hospital


The Sagada & Banaue Experience


Secrets of the Calamianes


A piece of old Boracay


Just like heaven – in Panglao Island, Bohol


Rediscover Philippines


Viewing Boracay from the top




Our Cover: Tres Marias by Hermes Alegre Oil on canvas, 2010, 24x36 inches 3

Editorial Summer in Europe is like one big celebration that reaches its highest peak in June, July and August. In Sweden, where I live and spent thirty sensational summers they call it industrial holiday; most offices are closed, city apartments are happily abandoned for a small but wonderful cottage by the gorgeous lakes or verdant forests, and everywhere folks are suddenly a lot friendlier, warmer, lighthearted. With this issue of Roots&Wings our aspiration remains high to give you the best, the most interesting, informative and irresistible summer reading. We have put together a nice mix of culture, a good number of inspiring personalities, stories about the comings and goings of fellow kababayans from all walks of life, we pay homage to our dearly beloved national hero Dr Jose P. Rizal on his 150th birth anniversary in June 19, we gladly share some exciting travelogues experienced firsthand by our well-seasoned traveller friends, plus many pages of travel teasers just for you. We at R&W would like to wish you a splendid summer! Filled with fishing and bathing expeditions, picnics, barbecues, outdoor games, open air concerts, reading those books you’ve been longing to read, visiting families and friends, tending to your gardens with lots of flowers, fruits and vegetables … And when you have done all that, we’d like to suggest you start planning your next Autumn or Winter Home Holiday. For valuable tips and inspiration, Betsy, one of our travel agent friends in Manila, have prepared a number of four-day “travel packages” to classical destinations with you and your loved ones in mind, to give you the best deal, to minimize stress and to maximize enjoyment, so that all you need to do is relax and have fun as you recharge those much needed batteries, before you continue to spend the rest of your holiday with your circle of family and friends in your favorite towns/ provinces. To live and work in Europe is both a privilege and a challenge. To spend our holidays regularly in the Philippines, our very dear Philippines, should be 4

a reward and a blessing. There is so much to see, savor and explore - our homeland is beckoning with its natural beauty, charm, wonder and amazing people. Watch out for future issues as we have already started preparing the best ever travel tips for you - with hotels, transfers, sightseeing, great experiences to look forward to or to start dreaming of. After all, every great idea and happening starts with a small dream. On behalf of all the R&W staff, mabuhay kayong lahat, maraming salamat at ingat!

Rachel Hansen - Publisher/Editor in chief

Letters to the Editor Congratulations to you and the entire editorial staff of Roots&Wings on the publication of your latest issue. I actually look forward to seeing the Filipino artworks that you feature on the cover. I dream of someday displaying in our home a collection of oil paintings by Filipino artists, so your covers provide me with ideas and inspiration. I especially love the artistic style of Francisco Nacion, Jr. (Winter 2010 issue) and Maia Magpantay (Spring 2011 issue). I commend you for the focus you put on the success of talented and hardworking Filipinos in Europe. I have always felt that as immigrants, we have a duty to protect and honor the "Filipino" name by our integrity, evidenced by, among others, the work that we do. When my parents-in-law visited us from Finland during the Easter weekend, I was proud to show them your features on Ms Teresita Ruutu and her son Aarne. That they are highly accomplished in their fields gives us Filipinos a good name; we are honored by their example. I wish you Godspeed and may many more partner with you in this worthy endeavor. Sincerely, Lara Elaine Griùo Järviluoma

First of all, allow me to express my appreciation for your dedicated efforts and talents to this quarterly newsletter for us Filipinos in Europe. In a wide and great continent like Europe, I think, that this is a good medium of communication for all of our Kababayans now settled in different parts of the country. It is a sign that we never forget our roots as well, and doing our share of indoctrination and inculturation to keep our balance in our lifestyles, work and family upbringing. It is nice to have a feeling of unity as Filipinos in Europe. Good luck and continue the good work. Sincerely yours, Evadne Parulan Holzhueter, M.D.


Rachel Hansen

Jonathan A Coo

Luz Bergersen

Geraldine Wisniewski

Jenny Hansen

Aina Bauer

Associate Editor

Layout Editor

Copy Editor

Cora Lembke

Ivee B Hidvegi

Publisher/Editor in Chief

Associate Editor


Yoko R Vingno

Karlene Hayworth

Michael Cu

Bureau Editor Athens, Greece

Bureau Editor London, U.K.

Bureau Editor Brussels, Belgium

Bureau Editor Copenhagen, Denmark

Josephine Lareza

Nicole Bataclan

Bureau Editor Milan, Italy

Bureau Editor Zurich, Switzerland

Nanette Medrano

Evelyn Mendoza

Editorial Assistant Manila


Contributor/ Executive assistant

Associate Editor

John Florencio Bureau Editor Paris, France

ReneĂŠ S.Ikdal Representative

Rebecca Garcia Bureau Editor Prague, Czechoslovakia

Jeff Almonte

Mindanao Correspondent

Bureau Editor Hamburg, Germany

Bureau Editor Stockholm, Sweden

Denissa G.Venturanza Hanna Stenbacka Advertising Director

Youth Editor

W E. Mateo Jr.

Patrick C. Ropeta

Visayas Correspondent

Social Editor At Large

For Inquiries, Subscriptions, Comments, please email Rachel Hansen at

New staff members Rebecca Garcia Bureau Editor Rebecca is 21 years old, born in New York, attended schools in Manila, Paris and Oslo. She holds a BA in Business Administration, Specialization Marketing, from Oslo School of Economics. Rebecca was Exchange Manager of the Incoming Exchange team for AISEC local committee. Speaks five languages including Tagalog. Her interests include networking, music, photography and basketball.

Patrick Camara Ropeta Social Editor At Large Patrick Camara Ropeta is a freelance journalist, photographer and videographer, as well as news correspondent for ABS-CBN Europe, covering culture & lifestyle, current affairs, and social events for television and online news. Trained multimedia artist from Royal Holloway, University of London, and London College of Communication, University of Arts London. Patrick is interested in art, film, literature, and acting, among other things.

How to Subscribe Dear Kababayans! Roots&Wings is a quarterly magazine. The easiest way to get your copies is by subscribing. Your four copies will be delivered straight to your doorstep, wherever you live in Europe.Very convenient & environment friendly! To sign up, simply email your: Name & Delivery Address to

Subscription price 16 EUR 160 kr in Scandinavia ÂŁ16 in the UK Method of Payment: PayPal or Bank Giro (details provided when you sign up)

You are welcome to order back issues of Roots&Wings. Simply send an email to Four copies cost 12EU or 120 kr plus postage.

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Hermes Alegre

- the artist inspired by the beauty of everyday life 8

Forest nymph 25x24 inches 2008

By Rio Q Ambrosio and Rachel Hansen Photos from Hermes Alegre archives

Feature Artist


ermes spent his childhood drawing in the sand in his hometown beach in Camarines Norte. At elementary and secondary years, he changed his medium to paper and sent his artworks to various school art competitions. While a student at the Philippine Women’s University (oh yes, they accept men too!) Hermes decided to paint seriously and to pursue a degree in Fine Arts. Hermes peddled his paintings from door to door; bank managers were his favorite customers, agreeing to get paid on installment basis just to support himself and to pay for his education. Eventually, Hermes was awarded a university scholarship by no other than Helena Benitez, whose family own Philippine Women’s University. Setting foot in the big city for the first time as a young man, Hermes recalls being impressionably naïve, hungry, always struggling to make ends meet as a working student. These struggles taught Hermes

how to deal with people, to cultivate patience and perseverance, to work hard to improve his skills and techniques. Slowly and surely, his talents were recognized and appreciated by some reputable and established art galleries, collectors, art critics and senior artists. Hermes is inspired by painters such as Gauguin and Modigliani, for the simple reason that he can relate to their subjects i.e. landscapes, beautiful women, foliage, flora and fauna. Growing up in a small town, he remembers things as laid back and serene, and everybody seemed wonderfully naïve. Oftentimes, artists are conveniently associated with living in a glamorous environment. Hermes wishes to point out that behind this is also a struggle to make enough money to support ones family. Not an easy thing, with plenty of competition and possible


Feature Artist

rejections. But Hermes is grateful that most of the time Asians. The presence of Sotheby and Christies in the he is able to provide for the family needs and spend region also boosts appreciation of Filipino artworks. quality time with them. Hermes led a rather bohemian These people are mesmerized by Hermes joyous and vivid renditions of rural lifestyle until he met and scenes, the alluring yet naïve married Helen, a former cast “Drawing inspiration from women... In 1989, Hermes was member of the internationally his immediate environments, able to break into the foreign acclaimed Bayanihan dance Hermes has been culling market and to this day, he sells troup. They are now proud his artworks masterfully. and does commission works parents of three pre-teen aged Sometimes ethereal and with from abroad. children. Rejections received from art galleries were part of Hermes early struggles. Galleries were inclined to bank roll on wellknown artists which was not difficult to understand but made Hermes even more persistent. It paid off when he was given a break by Art Circle, a well-established gallery with several branches around Metro Manila.

fanciful overlays of leaves, twigs, roots, and branches often accented with birds and fowls on his favorite subject of alluring women in a state of bliss and contentment or of women shrouded sometimes with mystery.” - Rio Ambrosio, owner of Artes Orientes

Hermes does not exactly encourage his children to paint, but rather states that he will encourage them in whatever route they decide to take in life. However he wants them to indulge in different forms of art. If they have a special calling for their kind of art he will support them to live a fuller life and be successful in their chosen field.

Hermes considers every artwork he does as a reward in itself – doing only what he loves best. Part of the reward is also the opportunity to travel, to meet the crème de la crème, and the friendships forged with fellow artists, some celebrated, some renowned, some unknown and all others in between.

If given the opportunity Hermes would like to do huge paintings and commissioned murals. He advocates to continue helping young artists to realize their full potential in any manner that he can, and also be an instrument in promoting the appreciation of Philippine arts to the international scene.

More than ever, Filipino artists are now being recognized and patronized by non-Filipinos. Several art exhibitions held in various cities in Southeast Asia always feature artworks by Filipinos, and Hermes is proud to say that they are being bought by fellow

Hermes Alegre certainly lives up to his name – in Greek mythology Hermes is a great messenger of the gods, and Alegre means cheerful, colourful, bright. His art surely reflects the joie de vivre that can be found in ordinary yet magical things.

Hermes Alegres earlier mentors were Ibarra Dela Rosa and Mars Galang. He apprenticed under instructor Boy Rodriguez of the Rodriguez printmaking family and sculptor Ed Castrilo. His first solo exhibition took place at Galleria delas Islas in 1990. Hermes won the First Prize at the National Painting Competition of the Phil Motors Association in 1981 and the The Most Outstanding Book Illustration Award at PWU. A finalist at SNSAC and Metrobank competitions and awardee of Camarines Norte’s Young Achievers. In 1996, a book he illustrated (MATS), won the National Book Award. Hermes is a member of the Bicol Artists Guild and the Saturday Art group.


Feature Artist


Female nude 25x19 inches 2009


Soledad 48x24 inches 2010

Female nude with Raven 25x19 inches 2009

Espada 60x36 inches 2010

Ligawin 48x36 inches 2010


Cultural coups

Cultural coups

Ateneo, Rizal and music By Jonathan Coo Ateneo’s Sesquicentennial showcased the grandest “artistic” event in the history of the university. It featured a production of the Zarzuela “Walang Sugat.” Tanghalang Ateneo’s Director, Dr. Ricardo Abad admitted though that it was the first “sarswela” the school has ever presented. Knowing that Ateneo’s prestigious alumni include the Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, it is a bit late for an illustrious institution to present a sociocultural tradition that is imbedded in the musical and patriotic roots of the Filipinos. Timing was perfect though, because it was prior to the National Elections. A year has passed since the oath taking of another Atenean who is now the current Philippine President. Another perfect timing, because it is now RIZAL’S “SESQUI” June 19, 2011. 14

In the world of arts and culture, a musical production has always been the practice to celebrate an anniversary. National Artist for Music Felipe Padilla De Leon compose two Rizal operas. National Artist for Literature Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera collaborated with composer Ryan Cayabyab creating a Rizal Musical. These major works can equal any opera or musical theater production. Two National Artists have even created “Her Son, Jose” an operatorio by composer Dr. Lucrecia Roces Kasilag and writer (National Artist for Dance) Leonor Orosa-Goquinco. Although Rizal did not excel in music, his few compositions have been arranged by other composers. Listen to “Alin Mang Lahi” on youtube. Indeed, “Whatever race” will sacrifice his or her own blood for freedom.

Cultural coups

“Kundiman ni Rizal” reminds us of love for the Philippines and the hope that our “Motherland” will stay strong. The first verse portrays our history as a colony of Spain: “Now mute indeed are tongue and heart: love shies away, joy stands apart. Neglected by its leaders and defeated, the country was subdued and it submitted.” – an excerpt from Rizal’s Kundiman translated by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin “Leonor” and “La Deportacion” depicts Rizal’s first love and his first experience of exile (down south in Dapitan, Mindanao). Whether Rizal was pressured music lessons at The Ateneo or the fact that he could not carry a tune, Jose Protacio Rizal proved that his patriotism can be felt in every aspect of his being. “¡Por la patria en la Guerra, por la patria en la paz, velará el Filipino, vivirá y morirá” – Himno Al Trabajo (excerpt) “For our country in war For our country in peace The Filipino will be ready, While he lives and when he dies.” – an excerpt from Hymn to Work translated by Laubauch


The Buen Networker By Geraldine Wisniewski Photo by Val Cuenca Danny Buenafe, News Bureau Chief for ABS-CBN in the UK & the Middle East, talks to Roots & Wings about his prolific career as a news journalist covering stories from the US invasion of Iraq and Hezbollah crisis of 2006 to the Imelda Marcos trials, and more recently the Royal Wedding and the Beatification of John Paul II. Danny Buenafe is a busy man. We meet in mid April and, in his role as News Bureau Chief for ABS-CBN in Europe and the Middle East, this Easter and May bank holiday has been one of the busiest of the year. Both the Royal Wedding and the Beatification of John Paul II take place within a week of each other and are big news for Filipinos the world over. For Danny, it’s critical that his team is at the centre of the action.Today he has secured an exclusive interview with Prince William and Prince Harry’s former Filipina nanny of 14 years, Lillie Piccio. It’s not the kind of interview you can score every day given the British Monarchy prefer confidential aspects of their lives to remain private. But Danny’s nose for networking means he has exactly the right connections to make it happen. Furthermore, his reputation for covering stories with 16

journalistic integrity has earnt him respect across the Filipino community. Lillie Piccio would not speak to any other reporter first. “That’s what I enjoy most – networking with people. When you’re pursuing a story you need contacts that are willing to help you,” he expounds. “Many people in our industry call me ‘The Networker’ because I have a lot of contacts everywhere even in the Embassies abroad. I make sure I keep in regular contact with them so they can help me. Having good relationships is an important part of being a successful journalist.” ABS-CBN is the Philippine’s largest Filipino news conglomerate. Outside of the Philippines, it also has the largest international news operation and Danny is


at its epicenter. He has recruited and is responsible for a team which includes 30 reporters covering the Middle East and a further 13 across Europe. “We go where the Filipino’s are,” he says with pride. “With more than 9 million Filipino’s living outside of the motherland, there are huge swathes of workers and migrants in the Middle East and Europe. Italy has the largest population of Filipino’s outside of the Phillippines and then the UK. My goal as News Bureau Chief is to ensure that Filipino’s living abroad have a view on the stories at home that matter, as well as to tell the stories of importance to Filipino’s here in the UK and the Middle East.” Danny’s journalistic career spans nearly four decades. He’s been involved in the gathering and broadcasting of news on television since his humble beginnings as a trainee news reporter in 1979 for then state owned Channel 13 during its Marcos-run days. There he remained one of its star reporters for over 10 years. From there, his reporting career took flight and he has reported on some of the most significant events in Philippine history. One of the most interesting times for him as a reporter was during the 1986 People Power Revolution. He recalls: “There was a lot of criticism of the state owned channels for not covering Corey Aquino who was the opposition leader at the time.” He recollects his reports being edited so that any evidence of support for Aquino was minimal. “We could only show close up shots of Aquino and couldn’t pan out in order to see the crowd. So there was some sort of censorship in a way. It was frustrating for me as a young reporter. I wanted to portray it as it was. In the provinces there was an outpouring of support for her.” Nonetheless, Danny remained at the centre of the action reporting on the toppling on the Marcos regime. Later he would go on the cover the Imelda Marcos trial in New York in June 1990 beating the competition to coverage of the latest news. Anticipating a “welcome home” party upon returning to Manila, Danny was instead sent to Baguio as the deadly July 20, 1990 earthquake unfolded.

the Philippine archipelago, Danny had one clear argument for establishing ABS CBN’s first foreign news bureau in the Middle East in 2002: “There were about 95million Filipinos worldwide but a significant proportion, 1.5million of them in fact,were based in the Middle East,with the biggest concentration in Saudi Arabia. So that’s where we started our first post. For Filipinos located there, who were alone and away from their families, we were able to broadcast directly to them about the news stories that matter. We helped them to feel connected.” Danny’s posting to the Middle East, has meant he has had the opportunity to report on some of the world’s most significant historical events. But says the job is not without risk. In 2004 he was the first Filipino journalist to enter Baghdad at the height of the American invasionof Iraq using Kuwait as its staging area. Dannyflew out to be in Kuwait because more than 60,000 Filipinos were based there and there was a serious threat of chemical warfare from Saddam Hussein. A year later, Danny was in Baghdad again to cover the kidnapping and the eventual release of truck driver Angelo dela Cruz by extremists there following Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s withdrawal of troops. Later still, at the height of the Hezbollah crisis in 2006, Danny reported from Israel which was being bombarded by nearby Lebanon. Most recently he has covered political events as they unfolded from Benghazi in Libya, when 30,000 Filipinos needed to be moved from potential danger. For Danny, it’s part and parcel of the job. “When you see your report go on air, then you know the risk is worth it.” Now serving a dual role as head of both the Middle East and Europe News Bureaus of ABS-CBN Global, Danny Buenafe brings all of his experience and insights to bear to two regions that have become increasingly significant to Global Filipinos. He has been based in London since 2005 but travels in between the Philippines, the Middle East and the UK frequently.

“My 17 years as reporter were the most glorious years in Philippine journalism,” he proudly relates. “I had the opportunity to cover the huge stories.”

It’s easy to see what keeps Danny excited and proud about the position he has worked so tenaciously to attain. “For me, my job allows me to connect with the Filipino soul. To get their stories. To report on our greatest achievements and also on our hardships and sorrows.”

After a successful run, broadcasting throughout

And so, for Danny, there is still much work to be done. 17



Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross visits Norway Interview by Luz Bergersen SENATOR RICHARD (Dick) GORDON, present Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) was in Oslo in May, attending the Red Cross Conference on “The Work for a Nuclear-Weapons-free World”. Leading experts in the nuclear weapons discussions participated in the Red Cross conference.With Senator Gordon was lawyer Rodolfo (Inky) Reyes (Board of Governors, PNRC) Senator Richard (Dick) Gordon is a prominent and highly-respected Philippine politician, lawyer, public administrator, media man.He was a Philippine senator and a presidential candidate in the 2010 Philippine elections. He is also engaged in humanitarian work through almost a lifetime of engagement in the Red Cross.He belongs to a respected, prominent,family known for dedication to public and humanitarian service.Today Senator Gordon is happily engaged in media and broadcasting in the Philippines. 18


ROOT&WINGS had the rare and happy chance to meet Senator Gordon and make a brief interview, giving us valuable insights into the important work of the Red Cross in the Philippines.

Good evening Sir, Does Red Cross Philippines have any on-going projects with Red Cross Norway?

The Philippine Red Cross is an independent Red Cross, Norway has its own, we cannot have a project here without permission of Norway. What we are developing is Project 143 (with focus on disaster management) wherein we are putting 44 in every baranggay in the country. There are 42.000 of them. For example, in case there is a typhoon that affects some of the Filipinos who are residents of Norway, they can call us and we will try to find out about their families in the Philippines, how they are, and where they are; if they have children, whether the children are going to school; or if there is any problem that needs assistance from the Red Cross.Then in some countries, for example in Libya, (due to recent unrest) we are doing this already, we trace them to find out whether they are alright, and so that we can make coordination with Red Cross to check whether they are alright.For Norway, they will check the families and make links to find outhow the relatives are in the Philippines, so this is one thing we are doing for Red Cross in the Philippines.

renounce or eliminate the use of nuclear weapons;and that is why we are here, that is what we talked about with other countries in this conference.

Does Red Cross Norway have expertise to impart to the Philippine partners?

When you come down to it, Norway would learn more from the Philippines in terms of disaster management, with typhoons, shipwrecks, etc. The Red Cross in the Philippines is one of the most experienced Red Cross societies in the world, dealing with disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, shipwrecks.What we do for example,in the field of preventive health medicine or primary health care, Norway can sponsor programs, like that in the Philippines. That is the kind of relationship we have with Norway. And, where there is a disaster they can help us build houses for those who lost their homes.

“You can take the Filipinos out of the Philippines, but you cannot take the Philippines out of the Filipinos.”

Is Red Cross Norway an important partner for the Philippines in its disaster preparedness plan? Norway is a very well-endowed society, and they have projects in the Philippines to help us.They are helping us set up the Baranggay Disaster Action Teams, and find out about our water sanitation in the far-flung areas in the Philippines, and sometimes they support us in other aspects. In fact, there is no real formal relationship but they are supporting us in Project 143, and can help more, for example in rural preventive health measures. We can assist somewhere else,for example, in the fight against the spread of nuclear weapons, and trying to advocate that nations should

What can Red Cross partners learn from the Philippine Red Cross or us Filipinos, when it comes to disaster preparedness and response?

Oh well, in the matter of building transition homes, the Philippine Red Cross is now very skilled with that. We build over 25.000 homes in the last six years, in the matter of rescue operations, the 143 Operation Centers use volunteers, logistics and information technology to deliver the message to our volunteers in the field, and what they have to do to predict, prepare, cope, mitigate the disaster when it happens..So, from Norway’s side, it is a maritime country, so in terms of shipwrecks or environmental damage, Norway can train the Red Cross Philippines in that aspect.

If you can tell other Red Cross partners what the Philippines really needs in disaster responses, what would it be? Well, they can enhance or complete Project 143..We are perhaps the only Red Cross society with a very strong volunteer base, trained and active in every village in the country. So anybody who wants to support us can do so, by training them as volunteers, in terms of institutionalizing systems wherein we can 19

The Red Cross in the Philippines is one of the most experienced Red Cross societies in the world, dealing with disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, shipwrecks. use the logistics in computer technology so we can get the message faster and we can react and report faster.

Why did you choose to join Red Cross, after the political career?

we train them for livelihood so that they can find something that they can do from the training. They can sell their wares, but of course they need capital. Contributions can be given to the Red Cross to help these people.

I have been with Red Cross for the last 44 years. My mother (Mayor Amelia Gordon of Olongapo) was Thank you,Sir. On the political side, may we with Red Cross for 63 years. She is a ‘Pearl Buck ask: Do you have any plan of going back to Awardee’, one of 18 in the whole world. Ever since I politics? was a little boy, I could see her helping out people, so I have not shut the door on it. People have been it is inevitable that I would end asking me if I am going to run We have this program up in the Red Cross. Our family for the Senate, and even for the to feed the hungry, for is always there. My mother Presidency in 2016. Right now I has adopted many kids and am very happy doing what I am example,those who live helped many people, through under bridges – we go out doing, namely, broadcasting blood and all kinds of help,she on radio and TV.And, the nice and feed them with food has built the first Red Cross part about this is that I have given by restaurants, and building in the community. So I never paid any member of we train them for livelihood media when I was in politics. just follow in her footsteps. Everybody knows that because so that they can find What is the best way they know that I respect the something that they can for overseas Filipinos to do from the training. They media too much to be able to engage in what they call contribute to disaster response programs of the can sell their wares, but of developmental journalism. So course they need capital. now I am able to say what I want Red Cross? They can participate in Contributions can be given to say without having to suffer, Project 143 and build a very for example if sometimes you to the Red Cross to help powerful Red Cross that is cannot go out because you are these people. well-endowed. Most of the Red not as influential or generous. Cross societies in the world Although, some of the media are have well-funded programs, like in Norway, because fair, they put out what I have to say. But also of course the people here realize how important the Red Cross the others can say something little but come out more is in every country. You are all heroes here in Norway. prominently, even if the story is not that important, it The Nobel peace prize winner for humanitarian is called PR or developmental journalism..Before I can contributions, Nansen, was usedby the Red Cross only get some sound bites in my programs in radio through the Nansen passport issued to stateless and TV, if I am lucky.I suppose that at some point in people, they were able to get out of Russia, Armenia. time, we will come back to politics. Norway has become very strong because the people of Norway support the Red Cross here.Norway is a Senator Gordon was in Oslo on day of the 1st Anniversary donor society and helps the lesser societies in the Red of ‘Hiligaynon Assn of Norway’, and graciously accepted the Cross. We have about 16.000 Filipinos here, they can invitation to attend. Filipinos present were indeed lucky help the Red Cross back home, and help the families to hear uplifting words from Senator Dick Gordon, who there by contributing regularly to the Red Cross. encouraged the values of hard work, (bawalangtamad) They can sponsor Blood Samaritans, people who lost respectability, and dignity: “I have respect and admiration their homes, they can sponsor homes that have to be for you, you dared, left the Philippines and went to a foreign replaced because they lost it in typhoons.Or you can country.I do not encourage Filipinos to go abroad, but to sponsor livelihood projects, for example, feeding the find their future in our country. Just the same, be the best of hungry.We have this program to feed the hungry, for whatever you are, wherever you are. Take the good things, example,those who live under bridges – we go out keep the good things.Transform yourselves, transform your and feed them with food given by restaurants, and country”. 20

Special feature

L to R: (seated) Jose Venancio Vero(MARINA), Fernandez, and Ferrer. (standing) Hector Miole (PPA), David Simeon (PPA), BashiruddinAdil (MARINA) and Commo. Luis Tuason, Jr.(PCG)

The Philippines and The International Maritime Organization By Francisco Noel R. Fernandez III Minister and Alternate Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation The Philippines has been a member of the International Maritime Organization(IMO) since 9 November 1964. IMO is a technical agency of the United Nations (UN) created in 1948 to promote safety and efficiency in navigation and prevent and control marine pollution from ships. In 1997, the Philippines took the bigger step of serving in the IMO Council after being elected under the provision of Article 17(c) of the IMO Convention. It is seeking re-election to the Council at elections scheduled in November, 2011. Not many people realize that global shipping transports 90% of goods in world trade. With only 3% of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the shipping sector, the merchant fleet provides a reliable and greener service in stimulating the global economy. 21

Special feature

Maritime Experience

As an archipelagic country, the life and history of the Philippines is closely intertwined with the sea. Its people have been trading with their neighbours across the seas for centuries, ensuring that the waters surrounding the country serve as channels of communication rather than walls of exclusion. In recent times, the Philippine Government aspires to benchmark the operations of its ports and shipping industry with internationally-recognized standards mandated by the Organization. It was in this regard that it volunteered for the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme, which took place in 2009, to identify areas where further improvement could be made. This will guarantee that the ocean remains as a bridge linking the Philippines to the world. Its involvement in maritime issues is not confined to its work in the Organization. The Philippines is an active member-state of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed RobberyAgainst Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) and was elected to Chair the Governing Council of the ReCAAP Information Sharing Center (ISC) from 4 March 2011. On 10 November 2010, the Philippines was accepted as a member of the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and is an active participant in the meetings of the CGPCS working groups even prior to its formal admission. The Philippines is likewise actively involved in the works of the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds), and the ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group (MTWG), among others.

Commitment to the Human Element

Recognizing its in-depth understanding of the concerns and aspirations of seafarers, representing as it does the largest nationality of maritime crew serving the international merchant marine fleet, the Philippines shares a leading role in spearheading the adoption of measures to recognize the important role played by the crew in the maritime industry. Its recent manifestation in this regard is its hosting of a Diplomatic Conference to review and revise the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and the Seafarers’ Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping Code which successfully concluded at the Philippine International Convention Center in 22

Manila last 25 June 2010. The Philippine Government was honoured by the decision of that Conference to name the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention as the “Manila Amendments.” Appreciating the need of developing countries like itself for capacity-building and technical innovation, the Philippines plays host in Manila to the IMO Regional Presence for Technical Cooperation in East Asia. Through this IMO Regional Office, the Philippines supports the Organization’s technical cooperation projects in the region.

Service to Others

Since 2007, the Philippines, through career diplomat Frank Neil R. Ferrer, has been greatly honored to serve as the Chairman of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), the Organization’s primary machinery in ensuring relevant and safe operation of merchant ships by the global maritime community. Believing that its membership in the Organization and the Council requires proper attention, the Philippines has stationed appropriate officers in London to actively contribute to the works of the Organization. In addition, it has regularly despatched experts and senior officials to articulate the aspirations and views of developing countries on multifarious issues tabled in various meetings of the Organization’s committees, sub-committees, and working groups, whether convened in London or elsewhere. As a concrete expression of its advocacy to address the problem of piracy, the Philippines has seconded naval officers to the headquarters of the naval coalition in Manama, Bahrain and the ReCAAP ISC in Singapore.

Philippine Permanent Mission to IMO The Philippine Embassy in London functions at the same time as the Philippine Permanent Mission to the IMO. Its political officer for multilateral issues, including IMO issues, is Francisco Noel Fernandez III, a career diplomat who dealt with maritime legal issues prior to his posting in London. Among the recent advocacies in IMO by the Philippines is working with the international community in addressing the scourge of piracy now active off the coast of Somalia. In meetings of the MSC and the CGPCS,

Special feature

the Philippine delegation reports on steps taken by government to help prevent piracy and contributes to new approaches in addressing the piracy problem. Among thecounter-piracy measures adopted by the Philippines include mandating anti-piracy training for all seafarers prior to their deployment overseas and sharing tracking information of Philippine-flagged vessels with the naval coalition operating off Somalia to provide a clearer picture of movements of vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin thereby facilitating the deployment of naval assets in the area. Believing that the long-term solution to the piracy problem besetting Somalia lies in the strengthening of governmental institutions in that country, the Philippines hosted a recent visit to Manila by ministerial officials of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia where Philippine maritime transport and coast guard officials shared with them the practices and strategies adopted by the Philippine Government to combat piracy off its waters. Another natural advocacy of the Philippines at the IMO is the promotion of the rights and welfare of seafarers. At the recently concluded IMO Diplomatic Conference in Manila, the Philippines supported

measures to align the STCW Convention and Code with the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) adopted by the Geneva-based International Labor Organization (ILO), another UN technical agency dealing with labor issues. With the meeting taking place in the world’s primary provider of seafarers, the Diplomatic Conference unanimously adopted a resolution setting aside June 25 of each year as the “Day of the Seafarer,” in recognition of the vital contribution played by seafarers to the global maritime industry. On another matter, in 28 June 2011, the IMO is scheduled to elect a new Secretary General. Wishing to trod the next mile in contributing towards a safer and cleaner maritime transport environment, the Philippine Government has put forward the candidature of MSC Chairman Ferrer for the soon-to-be vacated post. All hands of government are on deck to push for this very important candidature. As the IMO turns another chapter under a new Secretary General in January, 2012, the Philippines remains committed towards contributing to the realization of safer and cleaner shipping, better working conditions for seafarers, and facilitating global trade through shipping.

Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo exchanges views with IMO Secretary General Eftimious Mitropoulos.



Ahoj from

the Czech Republic By Rebecca Garcia Photos compliments of the Philippine Embassy in Prague It is true that you will find Filipinos no matter where you are in the world. Having moved around the globe, bumping into Filipinos in each country always gives some sort of “homey” feeling – seeing our “kababayans” always reminds one of our motherland. Did you know that the relations between the Philippines and the Czech Republic date back to the time of our national hero, José Rizal? José Rizal had a close friendship with Ferdinand Blumentritt, an educator and historian living in Litoměřice, a town northwest of Prague. Blumentritt wrote articles and 24

books on the Philippines and its ethnography. I sat down recently with Consul MersoleMellejor for a brief discussion on the Filipino community here in the Czech Republic. Per the « Czech Alien Police Service» statistical report of 31 December 2010, there are approximately 380 Filipinos now living in the Czech Republic, which include permanent residents and contract workers but excludes former Filipinos. Of those 380 people, around 280 live in the capital city of Prague and its suburbs.


75% of the Filipinos living in the Czech Republic are workers, 120 of whom are employed by Teleplan Prague, a post warranty service company dealing with the maintenance and repairs of office, accounting and computing machinery. About 35work as masseuse in spas and massage establishments in Prague; 20 Filipinos are employed by foreign embassies and less than 30 are household service workers but their number is growing. Consul Mellejor mentioned that there is a pending request for more household service workers (HSWs), IT programmers and skilled workers in the automotive industry.Filipinos in the Czech Republic are perceived as conscientious, honest, hard-working and kind-hearted, especially those who work for foreign embassies, so they are looked upon favorably by their employers. There are two main Philippine organizations in the Czech Republic, namely: the « Pamilyang Filipino in the Czech Republic », which is headed by an “Officer in Charge” and « The Philippine Association», a more exclusive organization for those in international business and law.

The Filipino community is involved in quite a number of activities but the primary occasions are inevitably the Independence Day celebration, the Christmas gettogether, and the Santo Niño celebration. Ms.Victoria Nokeo, one of the first Filipino pioneers, came to the Czech Republic in 1988 during the communist era, to study the language. She currently works for the Embassy of Thailand in Prague. There are also a number of Filipino scholars studying the Czech languagewho have enrolled through the Erasmus programme or via the Czech Embassy in the Philippines. With continued good-standing and performance, it can be said that the prospects for the Filipinos in the Czech Republic are bright. Bilateral relations between the Czech Republic and the Philippines have been close and friendly and these relations are expectedto continue to flourish and grow… They must emulate the “personal friendship” that existed between our Philippine national hero, Dr. José Rizal, and his very good friend fromLitoměřice, Ferdinand Blumentritt.



Filipino Pianist Wows Audience in Brussels Concert Hall By Emer Quiambao

Michael Cu with Filipino Youth in Brussels after the concert

The 20th of May 2011 marks history, as pianist Michael Cu becomes the first Filipino musician to perform a solo recital in the historic concert hall of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. What started as a fundraising event organized by the Filipino Youth Ministry turned into an important night of culture and a rare all-classical music concert experience for most of the audience, as the grande salle filled with members of the Filipino Communities in Belgium. Michael, aptly dressed in a chinese-collared pinyabarong, went onstage with confidence and charm, despite illness due to an infection he caught earlier in the week. He welcomed the public with a sensitive reading of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op.109, and ended the first half with a characteristic interpretation of Schumann’s 30-minutes long Carnaval, which was 26

incredibly colorful, deeply emotional and particularly romantic. A short pause with cocktails gave the audience a chance to mingle and enjoy the historic setting, and of course, take pictures at one of Belgium’s oldest and most important concert venues. The second half of the program consisted of Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, one of the most technically demanding and musically challenging piano pieces in the standard repertoire, which contained three portraits of horror, described by the narrator as a French musical version of Regal Films’ “Shake, Rattle and Roll”. The audience were at the edge of their seats – amazed, excited and sometimes disturbed as the pianist went through literally all eighty-eight keys of the 9-foot long Steinway Grand, evoking images of water, of bells and of goblins, and telling the


The Filipino Youth in Brussels

stories of these creatures of the night. The highlight of the recital, however, was not until the last piece, “Souvenir de Filipinas” which was an impressive set of varations on a Filipino folk dance, otherwise known as the Pandanggo. Immediately after the final note, the audience stood up in applause; and as a sign of acknowledgement and appreciation Michael played Mozart’s Twelve Variations on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as an encore – a piece which surprised many to be the most difficult and interesting version they’ve ever heard of the nursery rhyme. At the end of the night, many went home filled with joy and satisfaction from the experience. Michael, who cheerfully signed programs and paused for photographs, was praised not only for his astounding command and control of his instrument but also for

his exciting and emotionally moving performance, which reached out and touched the audience. Indeed, the event was a great success! As a benefit recital, proceeds from the concert will be used to help the Filipino youth in Brussels, as they travel to Madrid, Spain this coming August 16-21 to participate in the 2011 World Youth Day with his holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. Michael Cu is currently finishing his Master’s degree in the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, Belgium. He maintains a teaching studio of more than fifteen piano students, and performs solo and chamber music concerts with musicians from around the world. 27

H.E. Bishop Precioso Cantillas in Zürich Switzerland Story & Photograph by Nicole Bataclan During his visit in Switzerland last February, Bureau Editor in Zurich, Nicole Bataclan, had the honor to interview his Excellency Bishop Precioso Cantillas, Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. Bishop Cantillas shares his insights on Filipino Migrants and the Philippine Catholic Mission in Switzerland.

What was the purpose of your visit to Switzerland?

This time around, I was invited to minister the Sacrament of Confirmation. The preparation for this Sacrament was the Philippine Catholic Mission in Switzerland – a ministry for the Filipinos here that I put up five years ago upon the request of the 28

Bishops’ Conference through the migration office. They asked for a Filipino priest to take care of the Filipinos, particularly in the German-speaking part of the country. So one of their activities this year was the Confirmation. Since they knew I was coming to Europe, I was able to swing by Switzerland for this occasion.


How did it go?

The ceremony, celebrated within the mass, went very well. There were four boys and four girls. Attendance was very good as the church was filled up. As mentioned before, the Philippine Catholic Mission in Switzerland was involved in the preparation. The choir was from Zurich and Filipinos from other cantons were invited as well. For example, many guests came from Lucerne. A thing I observed was that the participation of Filipinos was good.

In that note, can you tell us more about the Philippine Catholic Mission in Switzerland? Before that, there was first a Pastoral Assembly of Filipinos in Switzerland – I was invited because I am the Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is for the Filipino migrants abroad. One of its tasks is to see if Filipinos working or living abroad get enough pastoral care. In the Philippines, we try to find out how we can assist by way of sending Filipino priests, as chaplains, would do upon request. That was the case with Switzerland: they realized that they needed the services of Filipino priests for the migrants so the Swiss Conference of Bishops requested to set up the Philippine Catholic Mission. Finally, I was then able to help and send Father Johan Dumandan. From then on, I come every year for the anniversary of the Mission and the celebration of the Santo Niño. The growth is exponential: people are getting more active and participative. All leaders from different cantons, in particular from the German-speaking cantons, are represented in the council.

On a so-called bigger level, what is the pastoral care for the Filipinos living abroad, especially in Europe? How far is the reach of the Pastoral commission? The one responsible for providing pastoral care for Filipinos in the receiving country is the Bishop of the place himself. He may request a Bishop from the sending church or country– in our case, from the Philippines – to provide a priest in order to minister the migrants. It is important that migrants are taken care of because they are in a situation that needs special attention. When one is in a foreign place, he needs to adjust or has his rights protected. The church knows the situation of migrant workers and can help. Major countries in Europe, such as Germany, Italy,

Norway, Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria for instance, have received Filipinos mostly have Filipino chaplains for them.

All over Europe, Filipinos are literally filling up the churches every Sunday. It is beginning to look like we are keeping Christianity afloat in Europe. With our knowledge of European languages, we worship in many tongues. Do you think we are sufficiently equipped to represent Christ in this part of the world that has turned extremely secular and temporal?

Filipinos are active in the celebration of the Eucharist as well as other religious festivities such as Flores de Mayo. Traditional, religious celebrations that we have at home, like Sinulog, are also celebrated here in Europe. The important message I want to share is that migrants should be aware to spread their faith and evangelize. Through example, their efforts to celebrate the mass, and visible expression of their faith in the Lord, Filipinos somehow are very keen on showing of their belief in God. Whether it is a complete proclamation of the message remains a work in progress. Of course, the Filipinos priests that are sent as Chaplains proclaim the message. But I believe that those who show it through example make unbelievers question. In itself, that is already a witnessing of something divine. Because of poverty or economic reasons, Filipinos go abroad to get a better quality of life. That makes us reflect at home, in the Philippines: we wish to improve the economic situation so our people will not be “forced” to go out. The Commission is much aware of the social cost of Filipino migration, which is the breakdown of families. Children left by one or both parents are really affected in their growth, maturity and behavior. In the church, while we respect the right of a person to migrate, we also have to promote the right of the individual not to migrate. The government needs to provide enough means for him/her not to migrate. I completely agree that the quality of our Filipino workers is very good. I also agree with the idea that Filipinos can be considered missionaries. The challenge for the church is to give more religious instructions and ways for migrant Filipinos to live their faith so that they can also be effective missionaries and evangelizers. Perhaps that is the role of the Philippines. That is God’s plan for us. 29


Join the biggest Filipino ‘Neighbourhood Party’ in Europe

Barrio Fiesta Sa London celebrates its 27th Year – 16 to 17July, 2011 Lampton Park, Hounslow, London By Geraldine Wisniewski Photos by Joseph Parinas ‘Neighbourhood Party,’ the literal translation of Barrio Fiesta, does absolutely no justice to this vibrant and much-loved annual festival held in London each summer. This year will be its best as 60,000 Filipinos from around Europe gather to celebrate the best in Filipino culture, food and entertainment. Ester Limotlimot, Chairwoman of The Philippine Centre, a non-governmental, volunteer–led organization, which is one of the pioneers of the Barrio Fiesta and is responsible for the event today, says the Barro Fiesta’s origins come from the ‘little’ festivals in the villages of the Philippines. She says: “We have our parish and patron saints and when the day for the saint is being celebrated you can go into every single house in the village, celebrate and eat freely. That culture has been with us for 300 years.”

The crowd


“The Barrio Fiesta sa London allows us to bring that tradition to the UK, so Filipinos and their families and friends can experience it too. This year our theme is the propagation of Philippine values and culture,“Limotlimot continues. “We want to encourage people to meet old friends, make new ones, and enjoy the food and fun. Talking, singing and eating is what Filipinos love to do and you’ll find that a-plenty at the Barrio Fiesta.” For those, unacquainted with the festival, the Barrio Fiesta includes entertainment on the main stage, from traditional Filipino cultural dance and song to more modern singing and dance solos and troupes. It’s an opportunity to celebrate talent with Filipino origins. Limotlimot, says: “We want to entertain people and showcase the best of our culture.”


The media partner this year is ABS-CBN who will be responsible for providing the entertainers. When we speak, in early May, Limotlimot says it’s yet too early to confirm who those might be. If previous years are any indication, it’s likely to be an impressive line up of stars both new and in the making. Last year, Filipino actor Gabby Concepcion and comedian Pokwang took to the main stage. The Barrio Fiesta Sa London has also nurtured the talents of Mutya Buena from The Sugababes, presenter and media personality MyleneKlass, and Vanessa White of pop group sensation, The Saturdays. The event has also hosted the world champion concert choir, The University of the Philippines Choir.

entire organization is made up of volunteers and to the outside world the Barrio Fiesta is two days of great fun. But we put in a lot of hard work to make it all happen.” There is a group of very hard-grafting, driven and passionate people behind this project whose constant and faithful efforts need to be recognized. Thankfully, there are people in this world who want to keep the traditions alive. And to them we say Mabuhay!

For further information about Barrio Fiesta Sa London visit:

So what’s next for the Barrio Fiesta? Limotlimot says: “We’re the first and only Philippine charity in the UK and the Barrio Fiesta Sa London was one of our first projects. We started relatively small with just 100 people attending an event in Holland Park. Soon we grew so large we had to move and now Lampton Park is the biggest open space that can cater for us. But my biggest dream, after 27 years is for Filipino youngsters to carry on the tradition.” “We started this event to celebrate the best of our Filipino heritage but we need young people who have the passion and commitment to pick up the baton and ensure Filipino culture continues to be celebrated. Our

Mr Joseph Parinas surrounded by beautiful ladies

ABS-CBN Stars on Stage



From Trainee to Permanent Employment

How Katrina Larida, 26, from Iloilo City, worked her way up to a dream job at Electrolux Head Office in Stockholm, Sweden Text and photo by Hanna Stenbacka 32


Rarely does one come across individuals ignited with the determination and goal-orientation as found in Katrina Larida, 26. At the University of the Philippines – Visayas, she took up Business Administration with a Major in Marketing. At university, she practiced her leadership skills as President of aesthetics groups, by participating in the national strategic marketing plan competition and organizing conferences, “I like to create and organize, because it makes life more exciting and interesting.” AIESEC (Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) an international exchange program was offering global internships. On Yahoo groups Katrina saw such an ad and sent her CV. Katrina was just 23 years old and project manager for a young IT-company that services big Telco companies. She impressed the interview panel looking for competitive trainees and was shortlisted out of seventy-seven and was one of the five who got into the program. With access to the AIESEC database for job searching, Katrina applied solely to large GEP TNs Global Exchange Partner’s such as Microsoft, DHL, AlcatelLucent and Electrolux in European countries. For months she painstakingly searched for IT internships simultaneously managing web and mobile application projects. On Easter holiday, she told herself that if without a match soon, she would give up the quest and find a job locally or apply for a Masters abroad. She sent her final application to Electrolux and left everything in God’s hands. She was initially shortlisted but a week later Electrolux rejected her from the next stage of the selection process. But in a twist of events, HR Electrolux requested her re-entry in the selection process; two phone-interviews and in April 2009 she was matched. Within a month’s time Katrina found herself in Stockholm, Sweden. Not affluent, her financial worries were alleviated through friends and family support. She quickly began working with Floorcare and Small Appliances Europe at Electrolux with passion, teaching herself how to use the GfK market research database many employees already gave up using. She also analyzed the market share, price, distribution and competition and provided forecasting figures. During appraisal talks she heard she was unlike other interns

in terms of enthusiasm and innovative nature. Katrina’s internship was extended. However she was informed that the recession implied there was no budget to keep her, “but even with that I never gave up.” Upon applying for a position at Global Corporate Strategy unit within Electrolux, the VP in Marketing and the management realized how they valued Katrina and vehemently decided to keep her. Katrina was honored and taken by surprise when offered a permanent contract. Katrina has decided to stay with Electrolux Floorcare aiming to successfully develop her career in business and market intelligence in Europe. “There are many things that I want to do. I don’t want life to pass me by without creating or developing a certain high level of consciousness. I owe it to myself and to God. When I grow old I want to be self-fulfilled. To all the people out there, please don’t get discouraged when you come across challenges, because there is always a solution. Believe me, I’ve met so many challenges (I still do). But be gutsy, push harder and never ever give up.”

Electrolux is a global leader in household appliances and appliances for professional use, selling more than 40 million products to customers in more than 150 markets every year. The company focuses on innovations that are thoughtfully designed, based on extensive consumer insight, to meet the real needs of consumers and professionals. Electrolux products include refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cookers and air-conditioners sold under esteemed brands such as Electrolux, AEG, Eureka and Frigidaire. In 2010 Electrolux had sales of SEK 106 billion and 52,000 employees. Electrolux innovations are based on extensive consumer insight. Katrina is at the epicenter, she is currently working on Consumer Insight and Market Intelligence.


34Abel Galang


Dr Abelardo Galang World-Class Filipino Pianist in Berlin By Fr. Adonis Narcelles Jr. SVD Photo by Tipin Lareza

Having finished his Doctoral studies in Music in Berlin with the highest possible grade of 1.0, with two Master Degrees from Japan and Germany, performed in various concert halls in Europe, the Philippines, Japan, and a current recording artist of a German label, Dr. Abelardo “Abel” Galang II is one of the few distinguished Filipino pianists in the world today. Contrary to most concert pianists, Dr. Galang started late with his musical studies at age 10 from his mother, Carmen. Upon his mother’s prodding he took and passed the auditions at the University of the Philippines’ College of Music which made him decide to consequently give up his pursuit of becoming a medical doctor. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance in 1992 and in the same year, he was awarded the Grand Prix at the Philippine Piano Competition. The Japan Solidarity Committee for Asian Alumni (JASCAA) scholarship was granted to him, enabling him to further his studies at the Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo, Japan where he obtained his first Master’s degree in Solo Piano and Chamber Music. He passed the auditions at the State Music Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria but opted to pursue his training in Germany. Dr. Galang obtained his second Master’s Degree in both Solo Performance and Chamber music at the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” in Berlin. With the Alfonso T. Yuchengco scholarship, he finished his Doctoral studies in Musicology at the Technische Universität Berlin in 2010 becoming the first and only Filipino musician to earn his Doctorate degree in Europe. Performing as a soloist, chamber artist and as lied pianist, Dr. Abelardo Galang II has performed in various

concerts in many parts of the globe and has collaborated with both local and international artists in the classical and popular genre, recently with Philippine pop icon Jose Mari Chan in his Ireland Concert in 2010. Under the German recording label “Tobios Records”, he came up with his first CD with the music of Schumann and Chopin in 2004. Four years later, his second CD on Kundiman songs, together with acclaimed Bass-baritone Jonathan dela Paz Zaens, was realized. Dr. Galang’s most recent recording is a threeCD album on the works of the Italian-German Baroque composer Giovanni Benedetto Platti. The recording is a pioneering project, being the first pianist to record the first 12 sonatas of Platti on a modern piano. Famous German Music critic Klaus Geitel wrote: “Abelardo Galang II performs Platti’s rich and multifaceted works on a modern concert grand piano. However, he emphatically abstains from the use of pedals. One can’s get enough of the sumptuousness of these twelve sonatas, which the pianist displays reflectively, as though in state of hypnotic entrancement. One can sense that Galang loves the music he performs.” Dr. Galang is scheduled to record another album entitled “Musika Filipina” which will contain a collection of Philippine piano classics. One can listen to samples of his Platti recording at and all his recordings are available at various websites including and Dr. Abelardo Galang II has used his God-given musical talent to inspire many people around the world. Proud as a Filipino, he has shared the richness of Philippine Music especially abroad. He is a real Ambassador of Philippine Music to the world. He is a Filipino musician who proves that Filipinos can excel not only in the Philippines or in Asia but also in Europe and beyond. 35


Q&A with Abel What is culture for you?

Culture based on my own perspective is the taste for various forms of Art.

Do we need our Filipino culture in Europe?

Like all foreigners, wherever we live, we Filipinos carry with us our “culture” manifested in various forms: our traditions and practices, our values, our cuisine, among others. The culture that we carry is part of our identity as Filipinos.

Can our culture give us strength, inspiration and identity? Very much indeed. One example is when we witness a professional Filipino choir presented to the European public. A strong sense of nationalistic pride is evoked from us when we hear them sing. It makes us proud that we come from a country known for its innately musical people.

What is it like to be a cultural personality in Berlin? I am no different from the rest. The only thing is people see me perform which translates to a number of Filipinos in Berlin becoming acquainted with my name, and me becoming acquainted with their faces and eventually memorizing their names by heart.

What is the best thing about living in Europe?

The best thing about being here in Europe is the endless opportunities to interact with other artists of excellent calibers; the most favorable circumstance of being able to watch concerts and opera at their finest.

How often do you visit the Philippines?

I try to be home every year to see my family and friends. Each time, I would also give performances and conduct masterclasses.

What is the best thing about the Philippines?

Aside from the beautiful beaches and the international cuisine, the best thing about the Philippines is the warmth of each and every Filipino.

What is your idea of a perfect vacation/holiday?

A perfect vacation would be spending sometime with my family and friends, away from the piano with no performances to think of.

What can we Filipinos in Europe do to strengthen awareness of our culture? In every country where the Filipinos are, a continuing cultural tradition presents itself in various opportunities. 36

Filipinos everywhere tend to have their own groups they could identify themselves with. When occasions arise, some of these groups would present a cultural show novel to the European eyes and ears, enthralling them with colors of our dance costumes and the intricacy of our music, particularly the rhythmic aspect involved. With nothing but the best intentions these groups have in introducing and presenting what is Filipino, in many cases these cultural presentations do not create a strong, desirable impact on the audience. We have this “bahala na” attitude which do not make us aspire to excel in what we do. It is more often that I witness sloppy performances which would naturally induce negative impressions from the European audience. Attitude is something we need to be wary about as well as the respect we have for our own culture, for our country, and the respect and the responsibility we have to our audience. Every Filipino performer is an ambassador of goodwill for they promote the Philippine culture. By putting our best foot forward, we earur audience’s respect and admiration not only as performers, but as Filipinos.

What is your idea of happiness?

The opportunities to perform, the chances of being able to move my audience with my music, and to have very contented guests after a hearty meal gives me a strong sense of fulfillment.

What makes you sad?

Being away from my family is sometimes difficult.

What makes you angry?

In general, I am a mild-tempered person but a mediocre performance on my part during a concert makes me very disappointed and frustrated at myself. Having studied in Japan where punctuality is literally a virtue, I do get irritated at people who cannot be on time. The mentality behind this is that the person who is kept waiting is being robbed of his time which the late-comer can never make up for.

Aside from playing the piano, do you have any other interests or hobbies?

I love to cook. I always tell my friends, if I were not a pianist, I would have long busied myself in front of the stove.

Who do you admire most in your life? Any role models?

I admire selfless people who stood and fought for what is right like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

What are your plans for the future?

To be affiliated with an institution or university, do more recordings if possible, and raise a family someday...

Special feature

Cabalen Ini – the only Filipino restaurant in Milan, Italy Story and photo by Josephine Lareza

The only Filipino restaurant in Milan opened two years ago, thanks to the entrepreneurship of David and Cynthia Vergara. David arrived in Milan 18 years ago while Cynthia arrived 4 years after. David worked 10 years with one of the biggest supermarket chains in Italy. Together, both of them worked 4 years, taking care of the daily chores of a sister of the stylist Armani at the same time doing catering jobs during the “free� Sundays. When they saw the opportunity of converting a shop to a restaurant, they knew they had to take that chance and started all the practical and technical procedures to have their own

restaurant Cabalen Ini. Today, Cabalen Ini is a busy restaurant serving Filipino and Italian buffet lunches in a populated business part of Milan. Moreover, the restaurant is often the venue of parties where I once witnessed the preparation of an 18th year birthday party for 100 persons when Cabalen was color-theme decorated. If you happen to be in Milan, and you want to try some Filipino dishes in an Italian setting, you are very welcome to Cabalen Ini.


Through The Lens By Patrick Camara Ropeta

Cora Borres Craven, Luz Bergersen, Lyndy Bagares, Resurrecion Ong Esmena Koksvik, Alex Bobadilla, Senator Richard Gordon, Oswald Gilje, Nene Puyat, PRC Board Member Rodolfo Orlina Reyes, Helen Grace Locsin.

Man of the Hour OSLO, Norway: Senator Richard ‘Dick’ Gordon met members of the Hiligaynon Association of Norway at their first anniversary celebration in Oslo, where he mingled with the crowd and posed for pictures. The senator was in the city for an international conference as president of Philippine Red Cross (PRC).


CB e.V. President Marilou Karus with Charity Project Manager Melly Zivnustek

Queens of Charity BRAUNSCHWEIG, Germany. Over 20 charming ladies competed for the titles ‘Mrs Charity of the Night’ and ‘Face of Asia 2011’ at the first ever fundraising event hosted by FilipinoGerman association Carinosa Braunschweig e.V.“It was a memorable event,” said guest Lucy Kampa. “The purpose was to raise funds for charity projects supporting poor and needy children in the Philippines.”

THROUGH THE LENS is a social photo-diary of European events relating to diplomacy, culture, arts, charity, business and sports. Have an event? Want to be seen? Please send info, invites, images, press releases or queries to



Dr. Jose Rizal

National Hero of the Philippines Text and photos by Evelyn Mendoza June 19, 2011 marks the 150th birth anniversary of our national hero, Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda. Although Rizal lived a short life from 1861-1896 his inspiration still lives to this day and will forever be in the hearts of Filipinos wherever they may be. We honor him by going back to the place where it all began—in Calamba, Laguna. During the 1800’s Calamba was a sleepy town. Today it is one of the more progressive cities in Laguna. We drove for about an hour from Alabang to visit the Rizal Shrine. Here, Jose was born on June 19, 1861, the 7th of eleven children. The main house is the typical bahay na bato. Fire destroyed most of the original house but it was rebuilt with money contributed by schoolchildren, folks from Laguna and other benefactors. Rizal memorabilia is displayed in a separate building at the back of the house and both are open to the public everyday, all year round. A thousand and one textbooks, articles, manuscripts and other literary works have been written about the life and works of Jose Rizal. We studied his biography and works in elementary, high school and college. Who would forget the following quotations :” ..Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda…” which is part of a poem he wrote when he was just 8 years old; and, “ O youth,… where

Rizal house in Calamba, Laguna


now you stand, Let the bright sheen of your grace be seen, Fair hope of my Fatherland!” Rizal was a genius who spoke 22 languages. He studied at the Ateneo de Manila, at the University of Santo Tomas and in Europe where he wrote many songs, prose, poems, articles, letters and novels about love for country, the most controversial of which were his two novels-- Noli Ne Tangere and El Filibusterismo-- which exposed the colonial oppression and injustices during his time. These two novels have since been translated into various dialects and more than 10 foreign languages. Although he sought peaceful reforms such as freedom of speech and assembly, equal rights and quality education for Filipinos, representation in the Spanish Cortes and Filipino priests in the parishes, his literary works inspired nationalism and provoked those in the lower ranks to rise up in arms. The Philippine Revolution began in 1896 and although he denounced violence, the authorities arrested him for sedition and was found guilty. He was executed by firing squad on December 30, 1896 in Bagumbayan, now known as Luneta. He became a martyr and hero of the Revolution which ultimately led to the Philippine Independence. We hope the youth of today will continue to be inspired by heroes of the past. They should study our history and culture to know our roots, to know

Room where Jose Rizal was born.


our identity and character, in order to appreciate who we are as a people. Rizal memorabilia relating to his incarceration and trial for sedition are on display at the Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila . Several volumes of the original manuscripts and copies of Rizal’s works, political and historical writings including the Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo and Ultimo Adios are kept in the National Library at T. M. Kalaw St. in Luneta Park , Manila . By reading Rizal's works every Filipino will know who he really was; and thus appreciate and evaluate his contributions for the welfare of our country and humanity. The Dr. Jose P. Rizal Foundation, Inc., whose members are fourth generation descendants of the hero’s siblings, have also announced through the Philippine media that they have approved the design of the commemorative coin which will be issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas within the year to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the hero’s birth this year. Two of Rizal's poems are reproduced below:

Our Mother Tongue A poem originally in Tagalog written by Rizal when he was only eight years old IF truly a people dearly love The tongue to them by Heaven sent, They'll surely yearn for liberty Like a bird above in the firmament. BECAUSE by its language one can judge A town, a barrio, and kingdom; And like any other created thing Every human being loves his freedom. ONE who doesn't love his native tongue, Is worse than putrid fish and beast; AND like a truly precious thing It therefore deserves to be cherished. THE Tagalog language's akin to Latin, To English, Spanish, angelical tongue; For God who knows how to look after us This language He bestowed us upon. AS others, our language is the same With alphabet and letters of its own, It was lost because a storm did destroy On the lake the bangka in years bygone.

To the Philippine Youth Hold high the brow serene, O youth, where now you stand; Let the bright sheen Of your grace be seen, Fair hope of my Fatherland! Come now, thou genius grand, And bring down inspiration; With thy mighty hand, Swifter than the wind's violation, Raise the eager mind to higher station. Come down with pleasing light Of art and science to the fight, O youth, and there untie The chains that heavy lie, Your spirit free to blight. See how in flaming zone Amid the shadows thrown, The Spaniard'a holy hand A crown's resplendent band Proffers to this Indian land. Thou, who now wouldst rise On wings of rich emprise, Seeking from Olympian skies Songs of sweetest strain, Softer than ambrosial rain; Thou, whose voice divine Rivals Philomel's refrain And with varied line Through the night benign Frees mortality from pain; Thou, who by sharp strife Wakest thy mind to life ; And the memory bright Of thy genius' light Makest immortal in its strength ; And thou, in accents clear Of Phoebus, to Apelles dear ; Or by the brush's magic art Takest from nature's store a part, To fig it on the simple canvas' length ; Go forth, and then the sacred fire Of thy genius to the laurel may aspire ; To spread around the fame, And in victory acclaim, Through wider spheres the human name. Day, O happy day, Fair Filipinas, for thy land! So bless the Power to-day That places in thy way This favor and this fortune grand!



Family Cooperation Health Services Foundation

(FAMCOSEF) Projects – Philippines

Empowering the lives of barangay dwellers through training programs in health care to improve the general well-being of the community Text and photo by Evelyn Mendoza The depressed areas in the heart of Muntinlupa City , particularly the ones located beside the railways along the service road parallel to the South Luzon Expressway have been relocated to two sites: one beside the National Penitentiary (Bilibid Prison) which is now known as Southville III and the other in Tunasan, also in Muntinlupa.

up the classroom for lectures and demonstrations, in allowing themselves to be interviewed and to have their vital signs taken, and some of those who qualify commit to complete the 9-month Primary Health Care Program. Completion of the course qualifies these marginalized women to be employed as health workers in the Health Centers of Muntinlupa.

The Southville and Tunasan Primary Health Care Training Project is FAMCOHSEF’s most recent undertaking. The target population in Southville III consists of around 6,000 families. The government has built houses with an average of 30 sq. meters of space for each family. Enthusiastic residents, mostly mothers, have volunteered their time and effort in participating in the project. They assist in helping set

Looking at the thousands of Filipino health workers who leave the country to work abroad, it is easy to see why the local health scenario grows bleaker every year. Thus, FAMCOHSEF’s Primary Health Care Training Project offers a solution to help train and develop volunteer “community-based health workers (CHWs)” who will establish a community presence that will enable basic, preventive and health care delivery



in selected barangays (the smallest political unit of a City), such as the ones in Southville III and Tunasan. This project is a continuing effort of FAMCOHSEF which, in the past years, has trained some 500 barangay health workers (BHW), who have been fielded in the community Health Centers of Muntinlupa’s eight (8) barangays. Testimonial from a graduate barangay health worker, Erlinda Hernandez, Batch 2009 given verbally in Filipino and translated to English by FAMCOHSEF’s Project Director, Dr. Ma. Belen Santoyo: “I am very grateful to have been so blest that I have been able to help others where they need you most. For instance, because of my training, we identified our neighbors to have had high blood pressure, and maybe we saved the lives of two or three of those who did not even know about their condition. I thank FAMCOHSEF for the many hours of lecture and demonstrations, even if the sun is very hot; sometimes our lecturers are funny and they know how to keep the topics interesting.” Testimonial from Ms Luna Matignas, Supervisor - City Health Office: “I have been the Supervisor of Barangay

Health Workers (BHW) of Muntinlupa City for more than five years. The quality of the BHW’s performance during these years has shown a notably higher level of attention and commitment to the BHW’s role in the community. “I hope FAMCOHSEF will continue to give our BHW and CHW the kind of training that supports doctors, nurses, midwives and other medical professionals. We rely heavily on this training program, and need not only polished performance but attitudes of gentleness, dedication, and unfailing respect for our suffering brothers and sisters, in hospitals or at home. I look forward to continuing our collaboration with FAMCOHSEF, for our trained BHWs and CHWs. They demonstrate how the public and private sectors work together to maximize results. It has been a pleasure working with FAMCOHSEF!”

For more information or if anyone is interested in helping by sending donations, you may email FAMCOHSEF at: or



Dr. Resurrecion Ong Esmeña Koksvik Chief Medical Consultant, Oslo Hospital “ Be the best of what you can be, never compromising on your dignity and integrity”. - I got my name because I was born on a Glorious Sunday 53 years ago, when the whole Christian World was celebrating Our Lord’s Resurrection.

your education”, my father used to preach to us at lunch and dinner table. Education always had the top priority in our parents’ budget. You could say that our parents realized their dreams for us. All got a College/ University degree.

I am the youngest of 8 siblings. People used to teasingly say that my father, being an architect, is indeed good in numbers, producing equal numbers of children, 4 girls and 4 boys. My father, Victoriano P. Esmeña Sr. was the Chief City Architect of Cebu City. My mother, Epifania Ong Esmeña, is a local businesswoman & entrepreneur. She is still very much active, at the age of 91. I grew up in Cebu City with my parents, maternal grandmother, brothers and sisters. Our parents taught and raised us up to be hard working, honest, decent, fair and just. They also installed on us from the very early age the importance of having a good education. “Wealth and power can be lost in a second, but never

As the youngest in the family, I was pampered and loved, but was never a spoiled brat. I have a close and loving relationship with my older siblings and their families, especially to my sisters. Family ties have always been a very important part of my life. When Per Øivind asked to marry me, I told him he will not only marry me, but my family as well. Little did he know that he will be enfolded to the bosom of a big family.


Love knows no borders, so they say. My life in Norway begun on a cold but beautiful winter month of January in 1986 after my husband, Per-Øivind Koksvik, 59 who


is now working with Norwegian Air Shuttle, and I said our “I do’s” and promised each other “ to love & to hold, till death do us part”. With God’s graces and blessing we are able to hold on to this promise. Last January 18, 2011 we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary at Mariakirken, the same church where we got married and started our life and love’s journey together. The mass was also officiated by the same priest who married us 25 years ago, Rev. Fr. Jo Nevi. Although we have not been blessed with children, we have lots of blessings with the children in the family. Here in Norway we are 27 persons. It was my sister, Dra. Imelda Leesland, married to Aslak Leesland, who first came, then my other older sister Rebecca. I was the 3rd to come, and then my brother Edgardo. After a while came my nieces and nephews. We are a very closely-knit family, we help and support each other. We often gather together at weekends, enjoying good food and each other’s company. We also often take holidays together. In 2008 we were all on a 3 weeks tour in USA. Summer 2009 & 2010 we were in the Philippines, and this year half of us will be travelling again to the USA. In addition to these major summer holidays, my sisters, my brother- in- law & I often take holidays together either in Europe, States or Philippines.

promoted as the chief consultant in my ward. Psychiatry is not an easy field, let alone for one like me who has a different cultural, social, and religious background. But much to my surprise, my work has so far, been very inspiring, satisfying and fulfilling, even though it is very though and taxing at times. Being a top leader is not an easy job, being a foreigner and a relatively young woman makes the matter even hardier. The art of medicine is universal, but the practice is not. The difference lies in the resources available, at national and individual levels. We are very blessed and privileged to be here in Norway. Our social and medical system has no equal anywhere else in the world. “Home is where the heart is”. My past and my future makes me what I am today. I consider myself blessed and privileged to have two homes. I love my life with my loving husband and family. I love living and working here in Norway, but half of my heart will always belong to the Philippines, with the ties and the memories I carry in me. So if you ask me where is my home is, my answer will be - here in Norway and in the Philippines.

When I came to Norway I was already a licensed medical doctor although relatively new in the field. The process to become a qualified doctor here in Norway was quite long & tedious, but in the end the efforts, time and energy I spent was worth it. Before I could enrol at the Medical Faculty of the University of Oslo I had to pass the level 3 of the Norwegian language. I got my temporary medical licence after I passed all the required clinical subjects (written & oral ). I was granted my permanent medical licence after I completed the required 1 year internship at the hospital and half year general rural practice. I became a specialist in psychiatry after 5 years residency training at a Regional Psychiatric Hospital.

My life consist of 3 important aspects: God, Family and Work. I get my strength, my inspiration and courage from my faith , believing in God’s endless love, graces and mercy. I hold on to His promise at Jeremiah 29:11 “ I the Lord knows what plans I have for you, plans for your welfare, not woe, plans to give you a future full of hope.” Through my love of God I try to serve the Filipino community in Oslo in many ways. I was the first Chairman of the Sacred Heart Filipino Chaplaincy in Oslo in 1994. I am an active member, and one of the servant leaders of the Couples For Christ Foundation For Family & Life ( CFC-FFL). I have also actively participated in the Filipino Working Group in Oslo ( FWG ), and is now one of the Legal Advisers of Filipino Community in Norway (Filcom).

Right after I became a specialist in 1998 I started working at Oslo Hospital, Norway’s oldest but top modern psychiatric hospital. I really do believe that God always has His protective and loving hands in my life, that He leads me and guides me. I never dreamed or hoped that in a matter of a short time I will be

I also serve at St. Olav Parish Church in Oslo. I have been Board Chairwoman for two terms in St. Olav Parish Council. I am one of the lectors at the English masses both at 9:30 am and 6:00 pm. During Christmas Season I deliver flowers, for St. Olav Parish to the old and disabled parishioners. 45


The Order of the Knights of Rizal By Dr Antonio Repotente, Hamburg

Chartered under Republic Act 646 , The Order of the Knights of Rizal (TOKR) is engaged in Rizaliana and has active chapters in Europe. These chapters are in Madrid (1), Paris (3), Dublin (1), London (1), Antwerp (1), Belgium (4), Germany (6), Prague (1). TOKR is “a civic, patriotic, cultural, non-partisan, nonsectarian, non-profit organization”

General purposes:

(a) to study the teachings of Dr. Jose Rizal (b) to propagate and inculcate said teachings in the minds of the Filipino people and other citizens of the world and, by word and deed, exhort them to emulate and practice the examples set by Dr. Jose Rizal; (c) to promote among the Knights of the Order the true spirit of patriotism and Rizalian chivalry; (d) to develop a perfect union among Filipinos and other citizens of the world in revering the memory of Dr. Jose Rizal; and (e) to organize and hold programs, activities and 46

annual festivities in honor of Dr. Jose Rizal”.

The specific objectives of the Order:

- to study and spread the ideals, teachings and exemplary life of Dr. Jose Rizal especially among the Youth of the Land; - to organize Chapters in the Philippines or any part of the world, undertake programs which will promote individual commitment to the ideals and teachings of Rizal, and encourage enlightened personal involvement in addressing contemporary issues; and - to train and develop the Youth in character building, citizenship training, democratic leadership, patriotism, universal brotherhood, and dedicated service to God, country and people.”

How to form a chapter

Any group of at least 9 men of legal age, good moral character who are interested in studying and spreading the ideals, teachings and exemplary life of Dr. Jose Rizal may form a chapter anywhere in the world upon


recommendation of the area or region commander and upon approval by the Supreme Council. Presently, there are 180 chapters in the Philippines and about 60 chapters abroad with membership of about 20,000. Because Europe played a significant part in Rizal’s life, Europeans, especially the Germans are very much aware of his greatness so much that Europe has the most number of chapters outside the Philipines. How much Dr. Jose Rizal is admired and respected in Germany is the fact that of the six chapters here, five are headed by Germans; only the Hamburg chapter is headed by a Filipino. The interest in Dr. Jose Rizal led a lot of Europeans to undertake research on the life and works of our hero. The most prolific researcher in Rizaliana is probably the late Sir Alexander Mushake who had a very extensive library about Rizal and Rizalism in his home, which is now managed by his widow, Lady Jane Mushake, who is the European Coordinator of Kababaihang Rizalista. Sir Lucien Spittael, a Belgian, has travelled extensively around the world searching for Rizaliana and is one of


the very first persons to see the papers and exchanges between Dr. Jose Rizal and Prof. Ferdinand Blumentritt in the Czech Republic. Aside from the annual activities of celebrating the birth of Dr. Jose Rizal on June 19 and commemorating his execution and martyrdom on December 30, the Order is engaged in cultural and social activities, especially in youth development. As our national hero pinned his hope for the Fatherland on the youth, the Order has organized Youth Leadership Institute in some big cities in the Philippines like Baguio or Cebu. Seminars and Symposia are held regularly. A musical play about Dr. Rizal called „Calamba Joe“ was recently staged in Europe.

If you would like to form a chapter of The Order of the Knights of Rizal, or Ladies of Rizal, in the city or country, where you live, you may contact Dr Antonio Repotente, (Hamburg chapter) who will be happy to provide all the necessary information and assistance that you may need. His email address is: Dr Antonio Repotente

Author unknown

So when... There's work to do, deadlines to meet; You've got no time to spare, But as you hurry and scurryASAP - ALWAYS SAY A PRAYER

It may seem like your worries Are more than you can bear. Slow down and take a breatherASAP - ALWAYS SAY A PRAYER

In the midst of family chaos, "Quality time" is rare. Do your best; let God do the restASAP - ALWAYS SAY A PRAYER.

God knows how stressful life is; He wants to ease our cares, And He'll respond to all your needs A.S.A.P. - ALWAYS SAY A PRAYER.




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If I Were To Live My Life Again! As we go through life's journey from birth and to where we are now what is the first thing that comes into my memoirs? Well of course my roots and my heritage'! What beautiful beginnings of responsible parenthood Gradeschool, high school and college days. Educational institutions, our teachers and professors The privilege of being aware of our multicultural traits! The wholesome family Sunday reunions The birthday parties and celebrations The merriment and company of friends and relatives To put in one word the „BAYANIHAN Spirit“. Moments worth remembering A very good source of strength and courage To guide me and keep me company in what lies ahead. Now in Germany from 1984 up to the present. From Deutschmark (DM) to United Europe (Euro). Life has to go on and indeed there are many things to be grateful for than to regret being in this part of the globe. I maybe brown and dark haired but I live like the Europeans. Thanks to my Filipino traits of flexibility and adaptibility. I managed to learn the language and to find a decent job To earn for a living. Not only that I have also learned to appreciate the wonders of nature going through the 4 seasons each year the many friends and colleagues coming „to and fro“along the way My good religious upbringing kept me steadfast in Faith That whatever it is, there is a bit of good in each and everyone of us That's what makes life interesting and beautiful.

Let me say, I am glad I have Filipino roots and my wings will certainly bring me back to share the wonders of sound and wholesome family upbringing especially a happy and love-filled CHILDHOOD! Evadne Parulan Holzhueter, M.D. Fachärztin für Laboratoriumsmedizin (Clinical Pathologist)




An Evening with Miguel Syjuco? Would it not be something to look forward to – meeting the dashing and dapper Mr Syjuco. For those familiar with ”Ilustrado”, it is Mr Syjuco’s debut novel that will be the subject of a literary evening in Stockholm, sometime during autumn. The Tang Club in co-operation with Roots & Wings plan to hold a culturally stimulating evening discussing Miguel Syjuco’s first novel ”Ilustrado”. Interested participants are encouraged to read the book in English or Swedish or for those linguistically inclined, in both languages. Location (Stockholm City) and exact date and time (September/ October) will be announced later on to confirmed participants. Please email your intention to participate to: marirow@gmail. com or no later than August 15, 2011. Rowina E Hallström/Aina Bauer



Flores de Mayo

- Maidens in Bloom Text and photos by Nanette Medrano The scorching summer, the scent of flowers, the sight of fair maidens!This is “ Flores de Mayo,” Which literally means Flowers of May. It is a flower festival that celebrates religion, culture and beauty and takes place just before the rainy seasons starts. Being an agricultural country, we Filipinos consider rain a blessing from heaven. Church altars are adorned with sampaguitas, our national flower, as well as with kalachuchis, roses, daisies etc. Flores de Mayo or Santacruzan - is a loving devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her virtues – faith, hope and charity. These are embodied by the town’s young maidens or “ sagalas” as they are dressed as queens in elaborate gowns, walking in processionsunder flower decorated bamboo arcs with their handsomeescorts walking beside them. Expect heavy traffic everywhere when this parade fills the streets! Hundreds of onlookers stop to enjoy the colorful parade, while every young maiden dreams


of being chosen the coming year. Considered the “Queen of Filipino Festivals” Santacruzan is a religious historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns and small villages throughout the Philippines during the month of May. This festival was introduced by the Spaniards in the Philippines and has since become part of Filipino traditions identified with youth, love and romance. Maybe some of you can relate to this festivity for youmay havebeen one or know someone who was once a Reyna Elena, Reyna Emperatriz, Reyna Esperanza or Reyna Sentenciadain your home town. Do you know that there are at least 18 such titles with various symbols and virtues? The one who carries the Holy Cross is Reyna Elena, Reyna Esperanza carries an anchor, while Reyna Sentenciada, often escorted by two Roman soldiers – is a symbol for innocents who have been convictedof some crime and Reyna Paz who carries the symbol of peace, and many more.




Employment possibilities for Filipino Nurses in Norway Photos and text by Helen Grace Locsin, Past President, Philippine Nurses Association in Norway

What does it take to fulfill your dream to work as a nurse in Norway and give your family a good future? "Norsk", the Norwegian language, it all started with this word. I clearly remember how we managed to follow the process on how we can work here in Norway. Learning the language is the key for us to be able travel and work as a nurse. To begin with, we submitted all our necessary school credentials to ‘Statens Autorisasjon for Helespersonell’ (the state authorization office for health personnel) and applied for "Lisens som Sykepleier" (License as Nurse) so that our papers will be evaluated for qualification purposes. We paid the processing fee and after few months we received a certificate that we passed the standard requirement and can work as a nurse under the supervision of a registered nurse here in Norway.

In order for us to become a registered nurse (Godkjent Sykepleier) we had to study more and pass the exams, both written and oral. It was not that easy because it was conducted in Norwegian. After a month, the results came and we were given the Authorization to work as a nurse, but it did not stop there. We were still required to go to the language school. Luckily 54

we were among the nurses who benefited of a free language course, and although we were working we still managed to go to school. Looking back, we still remember the day we travelled to Oslo, Norway. It was a challenging journey, exciting and full of surprises, sitting on the plane for more than 14 hours and thinking how life would be like be in a strange country called the Land of the Midnight Sun. Working in a hospital as "OJT" (On the Job Training) and going to school at the same time. But after two months, we discovered that we still did not yet qualify to be fully employed because our knowledge of the Norwegian language was still not good enough. But, in the fullness of time, windows of opportunity opened up and we were able to work as qualified nurses, earning the same salary as the ones who came earlier than us. And, after a long wait, a big door opened when we at last could reunite with our families, when they were granted Norwegian visas to come and live with us. We are forever thankful for God´s faithfulness!!!! As long as we are patient, hardworking and put all our hope and trust in the Lord, our dreams will come to pass. We have a very good life in Norway.

Welcome to

White Rock zambales beach resort

White Rock Zambales Beach Resort is a 5.7 hectare property nestled along the beaches of Subic Bay, just 2 - hrs drive from Balintawak toll plaza. It is a leisurely drive passing through national highways, farmlands and scenic spots. White Rock Beach Hotel is a premier Philippines beach resort located in Zambales. Visit us also at Mountain Woods, another Philippines beach resort hotel inside the SBMA tourist center How to get there: By Land Via North Expressway, exit San Fernando northward to the Subic Tollway, exit Kalaklan Gate. Left turn until you reach km post 134 and White Rock sign post and TOTAL Gas Service Station.


The author & Banaue Chief

The Sagada and Banaue Experience By John Florencio Photos by Pierre and Sophie Chauvin

The enchantingly breath-taking vistas of the mountain province never fail to impress even the most experienced traveler. It is interesting to know as well that not many Filipinos have been to the Mountain Province, a fact that astonishes foreign tourists. For a long time the roads to Sagada were a bit rough for most. Nowadays, a five hour journey from Baguio City on noticeably improved road conditions allow for what is truly a zen-like experience, providing an intimate view of the modest houses on the main road, framed by a fantastic backdrop that is the Sagada Rice Terraces, the Ilocos Range and the Cordillera Mountains. One has the impression that the mountain gives life 56

to the stuff of legends and folklore. A glance at its lush green vegetation and the dizzying heights of the mountain ranges generically triggers the ‘ooh-s’ and ‘ahh-s’, either by being taken by its immense beauty or the attack of vertigo if you’re afraid of heights. Sagada is located 275 kilometers north of Manila, 140 kilometers from Baguio and is adjacent to Bontoc. According to the latest census there are 10,930 inhabitants in 2,158 households. It is divided politically in 19 barangays and is cradled by Mt.Polis, Mt Data, Mt Bessang and Mt Sisipitan. The native language is Kankanay, but most speak Ilocano, Tagalog and English. Sagada could be a model society when it comes to the absence of pollution and noise: a welcome change


from the big cities of Manila and Baguio. There are no noisy videoke bars, it is simply not part of their culture, thankfully. The townspeople are pleasant and are quite accustomed to having curious foreigners visit their lovely little town. At night the temperature can fall to 4 degrees Celsius and can climb up to 30 degrees in the summer season, it is advisable to pack sweaters for evening aperitifs around the fire.

What to do around Sagada:

Upon arrival in Sagada, one must register at the Sagada Visitors’ Bureau at the Municipal Hall and there one can hire a local tour guide to help you with your itineraries, planned activities, hotel reservations, restaurant recommendations and even where to get cheap dope. The Hanging Coffins at Sumaguing and Lumiang caves, Bomod-ok and Bokong Falls, Kiltepan Tower, Echo Valley and the amazing Underground River are a few of the recommended activities and are not far from the town proper so one should not bother

Sumaguing caves rock formations

about driving a sports utility vehicle as most of these tours are on done on foot. Other popular activities include trekking, exploring both caves and waterfalls, spelunking, bonfires, picnics, rappelling, visiting historical sites, nature hikes, and participating in tribal celebrations. Once a year in February, the Annual Sagada Harvest Festival boasts the best local produce and other practical items: clothes, tools and home appliances. Don’t be shy in making a bargain with the friendly merchants.

The splendor of the Banaue Rice Terraces

Perhaps it may be discouraging to some that Banaue has become a bustling center of commerce and tourism and has somehow transformed into a tourism capital. Modernism has its price and Banaue paid for it. Originally thought of as the Eighth Wonder of the World, it is recognized as a Natural Cultural Treasure as the Ifugao Rice Terraces. Its surrounding rice

Rice terraces



terraces those in Batad, Bangaan, Mayoyao, Hungduan and Nagacadan, all in Ifugao, are inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated 1,500 meters above sea level and spread over a 10,360 kilometer mountainside, Banaue is still a site to see. A perfect jumping off point to its famous neighbors Batad and Hapa-o rice terraces, one can peacefully walk right on the rice paddies and pass a glorious afternoon basking in the northern mountain sun and end up in a relaxing soak on the hot springs. From Banaue, hire a jeep, around 3,500 PHP round trip and spend an afternoon taking photos of the glorious scenery. These man-made structures were assumed constructed by hand around 2000 to 6000 years ago and have an intricate ancient system of irrigation. Sadly, a lot of young people have abandoned rice farming life and opted for more lucrative jobs in tourism and trade. From Sagada, it is another 4 to 5 hours on the national road and unfolds more layers of its stunning beauty. It has been estimated by some that when juxtaposed side to side, the rice terraces span the circumference of the globe. French tourists on honeymoon Pierre and Sophie Chauvin (who provided us with these photos) said that their visit to the Ifugao Terraces was indeed extraordinary. “It is a bit disconcerting that most of


the Filipinos we have met miss out on the beauty that is right in their own backyard. It was one of the most memorable trips I had made with my wife, and we have travelled quite a bit around southeast Asia”, he says of their Philippine trip in early 2011. He adds, “I definitely recommend a week long trip as there is an abundance of things to do.”

Where to stay, Where to eat

In Sagada, the Rock Inn Sagada is one kilometer away from the town proper. It is nestled in a 4 hectare piece of land surrounded by pine forests and orange trees. The restaurant offers a wide variety of local favorites as well as standards. The rooms are clean and reasonably priced and has a comfortable, home-like atmosphere and is well-staffed by local Sagadians who know how to deal with tired, weary tourists. In the town proper, one can have a big lunch at the Yoghurt House (right on the main road) for less than 200 PHP and have a great menu that has an international appeal. For dinner, try the popular Log Cabin, but make sure to reserve at least 24 hours in advance for all their food is cooked using the freshest ingredients. Service is a bit slow and the place could be packed on the weekends so plan well in advance.


Town of Sagada

Sumaguing cave entrance



Secrets of the Calamianes By Maria V.Tajanlangit Photos by RJ Tapan and Maria Tajanlangit

The little town of Coron with all its secret wonders is now one of the fastest growing tourism destination in the Philippines. The secret is out: There is still a place just waiting to be explored. It has all the components of the ideal island destination: dive sites, pristine beaches, and more than 600 islands within its vicinity. Also, there is something mystical about Coron with its almost prehistoric jagged limestone cliffs that make up Coron Island, with hidden lakes, rivers, and forests‌ bursting in the seams with exotic wildlife that a biologist friend of mine actually wept with joy. 60

Coron, I could imagine, was God’s little playground. Staying in Coron Gateway Hotel, one could just marvel at the sight before you. Clear blue waters with a whole world to be discovered beneath is just one of the reasons why it is special. Jacques Cousteau once said that Palawan is the last frontier. And Coron is definitely the last of the Edens. For avid divers, wreck diving is something to behold in Coron with over 12 sunken Japanese Vessels virtually intact. Not to mention other ships in the deep cresses of the sea that would once in a while let themselves be known by sending treasures from the deep like old Mexican coins and Chinese porcelain that date back to the Galleon Trade.


Interesting to note is that northern Palawan, known as the Calamianes Islands, where Coron is located, used to be the route of the illegal Galleon Trade. Think, Pirates of the Caribbean!(Apparently, if you didn’t want to be discovered then you don’t pass the usual trade route. You do a little detour in these islands). But these are all speculation and most of the relics and facts are either sold or lost. But what a treasure-hold of history and culture Coron has, not to mention its ecological and geological significance in today’s world. Archeologically and sociologically speaking, Coron is also the ancestral land of the Tagbanua Tribe, an indigenous people that make their living gathering the much-coveted bird’s nest, the saliva of swiftlets that are used by Chinese to cure pretty much anything. The islands, for them, are alive. And is protected by the

spirits and gods. Most of the islands are, until now, left unexplored. Places only one can reach with their imagination. And that is the beauty of Coron, it will always have a part of itself that would elude us. And we mere tourists may traverse its seas and slopes but would always be left wondering.

Things to do in Coron: Trek to Mt Tapyas, Go to the Calanit Safari, Eat Bird’s Nest Soup, Go Wreck Diving For more information about Coron please visit or call (632) 887 7107 or email

Calamianes from above



View from a window

A PIECE OF OLD BORACAY in Boracay Terraces Resort Text & Photo by Maria V.Tajanlangit I’m a Boracay baby of the 90s. What does this mean? Imagine a long stretch of powder white sand to play with, and an uncluttered pool of crystal clear water with live corals to snorkel in. Paradise at its finest. Now Boracay is a bustling Island Resort with huge buildings catering to big groups who want a weekend away from it all. But for those seeking a more simplistic, not crowded area of this beautiful island without having to rub shoulders with the herd, Boracay Terraces is just what you’re looking for. One of the first few resorts that was established in Boracay Island, it still caters to long time guests who have patronized the island over the years. Here, it still has the sweetness of home with its 18 spacious suites and friendly staff. Each room has their own balcony with the best view 62

of the beach. The white sand that Boracay is known for is softest in this part of the island since it is located at the northernmost tip of the white beach. Unlike other resorts, this is an ideal place for weddings since not many people pass by the area. Giving you a more private ceremony. Recently its renovation gives homage to the different islands of the Philippines – Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Each room is designed with touches of Filipino art and handicraft. Have a massage for only Php 350 in a private cabana overlooking the sunset or a quiet candlelit dinner, with island torches and an uncluttered view of the stars. Music from their piano bar in Taj Resort will serenade your night in this pristine part of Boracay. Do it the Old Boracay way, where nothing else matters except for you, the beach, and the sea.



Private cabana



Island Environment & Preservation

Just like heaven Philippe Tarsier: Botanical Park, Animal Sanctuary, Art Museum & CafĂŠ

in Panglao Island, Bohol Story and photos by Maria V.Tajanlangit

The Conservatory

I’m sitting here with my feet wet with rain, in a native cottage on a mat called a banig which is weaved with mustard yellow and grass green dried buri leaves. Before me a garden blooms enjoying the fresh water from the sky. All I recognize by name are the Travellers Palms, our guide Ronald tells me that the tree emits an aroma that is good for those with heart problems, which I never 64

knew. Bronze sculptors of crabs are a playful touch to the garden. And here and there in this botanical park is a curiosity, another beautiful touch to an otherwise lovely garden. This is Tarsier Botanika. One of the creations of Nicolas and Patricia Moussempes, a French-filipino couple residing in Panglao Island Bohol, just a few minutes ride from Alona Beach. The park began as a one-


From left to right - the author, General manager Oscar Fuentes, Nicholas & Patricia Moussempes

hectare hobby by Patricia. And strolling around the garden, which is over five hectares now, it begins to show itself as a work of art. As artists themselves, it is a work of love. And for guests, such as myself, it is a sanctuary for the soul. I am told there are 3,000 species and varieties of tropical plants. A collection of the couple that just a year ago was their own private enjoyment. Last December, they finally opened the garden and the animal sanctuary to the public to promote preservation of wildlife and an appreciation of these exotic species. The reason for this next step was the realization that the Philippines, especially Bohol, don’t have a place like this. It took them 2 ½ years of landscaping, preparing the island’s hard rocky upper layer with rich soil for planting the thousands of Bromeliads, Cacti, Orchids, Lilies, while

retaining endemic species and fruit trees to encourage the birds that visit the garden. They also began a garden of local and European herbs, salad leafy vegetables, and other edible plants for their restaurant. Within the garden is an animal sanctuary and rehabilitation center. I’m always hesitant to enter zoos or those establishments acting like zoos because they make me feel helpless and frustrated. But here in this little patch of nirvana, I find the animal’s homes quite comfy. They are those that Nicolas and Patricia have rescued from abuse or those that have been injured. Sometimes the DENR would confiscate these animals and have no place ideal to send them to, so Patricia would ask to care for them, hiring her own vet to check up on the injury like the Philippine Bear Cat that had one of his paws severed. 65


If they were not injured, some of these animals were born and bred in captivity, and releasing them to the wild will be fatal for them who are not used to hunting and caring for themselves. As much as they can, they make the spaces for these animals quite big. The Bohol superstars, the Tarsiers, have a whole room for just the both of them. The monkey family that used to be owned by their staff (which used to be chained in the waist or the neck) enjoy their abode picking sunflower seeds from the caretaker’s hand. Their names are: Conchita, Maria Juana, etcetera, etcetera… one baby monkey just watches sucking his tiny thumb. He’s still being bottle-fed. Here there are birds, mostly nocturnal, in separate areas. I find that the Eagle Owl is as curious about me as I am about him. They also have domestic animals like chickens, goats, and cows. But the chickens are of

The tarsier


different sub-species and some are hybrids, which are so fascinating to see. The goats are Aussies and one just gave birth to a little bambini. Patricia loves horses, and they have four. Claus is their favorite – a crossbreed. They tell me that they plan to have a riding school that will be taught by a champion rider. Nicolas jokes that there will be racing and betting. The rain gets stronger and I decide to go to the café. I pass by what seems to be the secret garden. I feel romantic inside, like I’m in a Jane Austen novel. I don’t mind the little puddles as I skip pass them in my flip-flops. Pass hanging vines, and more glimpses of gardens here and there. I see the café with its cozy lights and spy the sight of perfectly aligned chocolate cakes, croissants, and baguettes.


Inside Nicolas offers me a banana split, the most common of desserts, and the most comfy in this weather. As I indulge myself I ask about the café, thinking of what Pie Rivera our foodie writer would think about these French pastries. Patricia explains how she used to have a bakery in Hong Kong and had taught the locals in the island how to bake. I think, “Thank Heavens! Finally a dessert in Panglao” which I’ve been searching for the whole day. We talk briefly about the place, about the tarsiers and the other animals and their future plans. As she talks about her animal sanctuary, I can see that Patricia is quite passionate about the little critters. And this is something she doesn’t take lightly. I recall a little argument with my mother a few years back about captive tigers (my favorite animal in the world). It was the first time I’ve ever seen a tiger and it wasn’t in a place I would want to see one. It was on a collar being pulled on a leash in Boracay Island, only months old. I told her that the reason I cried and wanted to yell at the owner – who is a prominent political figure by the way – is because that is not showing respect to the animals. I understand that in the world we live in now, that some endangered species have a better chance of surviving in captivity than in the wild, but the important thing is that those that are in captivity should at least be respected in a way. And that them being there should be for the education and awareness of people for their plight. And that is exactly what the Moussempes are advocating: awareness and education. And they do it with such passion and light in their eyes that I believe that these animals are well cared for. And they wouldn’t have had a better guardian. The last places I visit are the museums… yes, museums. There will be four. But right now only two are open. The collection is colossal and diverse spanning different genres, cultures, and eras. Nicolas talks to me about the magazine, and in our conversation he mentions owning the first translation of Pigafetta’s book of the Italian chronicler’s journey to the Philippines, with his maps and attempted dictionary of our language. Although he didn’t have time to show it to me, I can’t help my curiosity and would definitely come back to see it, perhaps accompanying Pao our graphic artist along since he is such a fan of maps (as you can see in this magazine).

staying for a while. I’m in no hurry to leave. The architecture of the building is tropical and cool, with a nipa rooftop, designed by Nicolas. Above the café, the museum would rival those in Manila. I stare fixatedly at an African idol, which later on when I’m back in Manila I would happen to chance upon in the History Channel. There are African masks, Chinese terracotta, Japanese paintings, Balinese paintings that are made with needles like tattooing; it’s so intricate I don’t know how they mustered it. Nicolas shows me a metal sculptor that my gaze dismissed as nothing that extravagant. Simply put it looks like some artist’s idea to weld three sprockets together with a clamp on top. It came from China, and with a simple flip on that clamp/ pipe on the top it morphs into a dragon. Ingenious! It’s from the Dada Movement. In other words: crazy. It’s already 5pm when I reluctantly realize that I have to go, in order to make it to my other destination the Bohol Bee Farm which is five minutes away from the Botanical garden. I wait for my rented car in the Conservatory, which is a serene bamboo area that is enclosed but one can see the outside garden from within. Thirty people could probably fit in the area and its perfect for a small wedding perhaps, or a little retreat. I imagine artists having a painting workshop here or musicians creating songs inspired by the garden. I wish to stay longer in the Conservatory and let my mind wander but my ride arrives. Most of my afternoon is spent on Philippe Tarsier’s garden and it seems that while I’m there timehas decided to stop. I leave this Shangri-la with this feeling: that life is beautiful.

How to get there: One will have to rent a car/van from Tagbilaran/ Baclayon to Panglao. Or, call +63 (038) 4161289, they offer multicab service. The driver will know where to go. Its in Km. 16, HoyohoyTawala, Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines. Their website is under construction but you can check any updates at If you would like to book a tour package you can contact the writer at:

The rain doesn’t seem to let on, and I don’t mind 67






Viewing Boracay from the Top Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara

Hotel Soffia Boracay

BORACAY, the world class tourist attraction in the Philippines which claims huge tourist influx all year round, is one of the country’s most popular venues for parties, vacation retreats and celebrity spotting. A beautiful location to soak in the brilliant sun, unbelievably powdery white sand, blue skies and azure waters of this famous landmark in the Philippines, it doesn’t have to be peak season to enjoy the uniqueness of Boracay Island. Is there something else you can do in Boracay apart from your usual snorkeling, food binging, parasailing, massage-craving, island hopping, partying, celebrity watching and fire dancing? Try it from a different perspective. The best way to enjoy Boracay at a 360-degree vista is 72

not to stay in the congested coastal resorts but to aim for higher grounds. Hotel Soffia Boracay (www.hotelsoffia. com), situated in the elevated Barangay Yapak, is a perfect host to your new exploration. From your arrival in Caticlan, a staff awaits to whisk you off to a ferryboat, transfer you to a vehicle going uphill, where a white-washed set of casitas and Mediterraneaninspired hotel stand in dreamy splendor, overlooking a breathtaking view of the island. All 59 rooms are cozy and spacious, beautifully arranged to make you feel at home. Hotel Soffia’s quiet beauty and architecture promises an unforgettable stay. You soak in the seascape view of White Beach from your hotel room balcony, enjoy the


glorious infinity pool with golden sky, sunset and blue horizon while sipping on the hotel’s trademark sweet, lemongrass drink. The breeze is constantly cool from this elevation. The amiable staff in their unobtrusive ways will quietly fuss over you from breakfast to dinner. Be assured of fresh garden salad on your plate, thanks to a vegetable garden in the backyard. At twilight, fruit bats and endangered flying foxes come out of caves in Barangay Yapak, soar overhead in thousands, covering crimson skies.

arrange for you is its Boracay Helicopter Adventures, a 10-minute ride up in the air where you can fully enjoy a good view of the most famous island in the Philippines. Get literally high as you soak in the astonishing red sunset that is most raved about. Boracay Helicopter Adventures is situated in Sitio Cagban Helipad, Barangay Manoc-Manoc. They offer varied tours from airport transfers, beach and island tours, VIP/Sunset tours to charter flights. The rates vary, but a beach tour for 10-minutes cost Php3,500.00 per person for 2-3 in a flight.

A free 10-minute shuttle service to the beach is offered every hour, but party noises down the stations don’t reach the hilltop. Savor the exquisite silence from the porch as free wifi allows you to blog on your laptop, or update your friends on Facebook on which side of paradise you are in at the moment.

A perfect private getaway for those who may love to party but would rather have peace and quiet in the evenings, Hotel Soffia is the perfect place for this particular rendezvous. Relax and unwind with its exclusive Massage Under the Stars, a pampering like no other in the cool lounge of the infinity pool.

While Hotel Soffia offers its guests a wide range of amenities to enjoy (parasailing, island hopping, diving, ATV riding, among others) the best opportunity it can

Go to www. for more information, or make your reservations today.

The staff of Hotel Soffia Boracay



Sunset in Boracay

A room at Hotel Soffia

Jojie Alcantara is an award winning travel photographer and lifestyle columnist based in Davao City who contributes for local, national and international publications. View her stories and adventures at: Breakfast at Hotel Soffia



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Roots & Wings Summer Issue 2011  

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 2011  

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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