Tribe bae: No to BBL

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #netizenmedia

caption: Bae Makabulig (Ritalinda Lipiahan), a former supervisor of SM Malls in Manila, is now right hand of Datu Lolong, national chairman of Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation. The couple is seen here on their way to Sitio Tamusan, Brgy. Capehan, Libona town, Bukidnon for a tribal assembly. The children are residents of Tamusan.

MISAMIS ORIENTAL, NORTHERN MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES — “We say no to the Bangsamoro Basic Law. We can’t trust some Muslims; they have this culture of reprisal or vendetta (rido) that it’s best to trust only when they are dead,” so states Bae Makabulig (Ritalinda Lipiahan), wife of Datu Lolong (Dencio S. Lipiahan, Sr.) prior to our ritual in line with our membership to the Higaonon tribe on April 2 (Maundy Thursday) as migrants (bilaw or non-lumad bloodline).

A “bae” is a title given to a wife of a datu, the chieftain here of a Higaonon tribe. These two are trusted community leaders.

“I say that we can’t trust all Muslims because when they are angry, lisod kaayo na sila. Pag masuko, rido gyud na. Higaonons value peace. In fact, we are the most peace-loving people of all tribes here. We had only engaged in war when we really were left with no choice. But currently we have worked so hard on promoting economic sustainability as we battle continuously for the preservation of tribal reservation areas,” Bae Makabulig underscored.

Higaonons value promotion of social justice system: recognizing the rights of individuals, protecting and preserving their culture, traditions and institutions.

When Datu Lolong, national chairman of the Talugan Ta Tagoloan-Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation, was asked on reported armed movements recruiting Higaonons, he said that warfare and uprisings are decided by the Council of Datus. As for now, they bank on the various peace treaties forged by their elders such as the Treaties of Dawa (the right to alliance or association), as well as Durian (the right to self-determination under a national government).

“Our laws and peace treaties complement the provisions of Philippine Constitutions – 1935 and 1987 – that we are to unite tribes and to engage in peace processes, no matter how long and painstaking,” the datu added.

“One’s works speak well of one’s motives. How can the Bangsamoro attest to campaigning for peace but preparing, at the same time, for war? The act gives us the hint on how to course our judgment for the welfare of indigenous people here. We will decide what to do with these revolutionary groups when time comes,” the datu accentuated.

For now, they are not bothered by the recruitment activities as consultations between government troops and Higaonons reportedly harassed by revolutionary groups are ongoing. The last talk was held at Camp Evangelista last March 26 and 27 in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City.

Somehow, a culture of deceit is evident in the use of aliases by negotiators from the MILF camp. Mohagher Iqbal, for one, refuses to disclose his real identity, saying it is “normal for them to be carrying various names and monikers.”

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. led the questioning on Iqbal’s person, but failed to squeeze out substantial information.###

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Diamond Suites blogger, backpacker friendly

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

caption: Front office **grabbed from diamondsuitescebu.com.ph

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Diamond Suites Cebu, a businessperson’s hotel on Apitong corner Escario Streets here, embraces the significant contributions of bloggers and backpackers in moving the economy via information sharing and grassroots travel, respectively.

Recently, Diamond Suites Cebu hosted the first meetup and pool party of the Cebu Blogging Community. The bloggers group, geared at strengthening support for members, finds an ally in the hotel as the latter renews commitment to provide a venue conducive to discussion, debate, and relaxation. The hotel is also open to the current work culture of bloggers that party-mosphere is reward to “hours of brain-firing.”

Executive and marketing officer Keene Albert Tan introduced Diamond Suites’ management team who welcomed CBC headed by executive director/chief blogger Ruben Licera, Jr. with community leads Margarita “Mary” Narvasa, Chanel Marie Imperial, and Gay Aida Dumaguing.

CBC has just facilitated a renewal of its members, now reaching around 50, as well as talks on CBC rules and guidelines, syndication of blogs, netizen media writing and social responsibility.

Tan, an aspiring blogger himself, shared that it is important for them to partner with bloggers which he finds as significant as traditional media. In a chat during the pool party, Tan along with sales account manager Pearlyn Hortelano pointed out that bloggers are already an essential in making stories go viral. “Blogging is an essential tool in today’s means of positioning a brand, selling services, marketing strategies so we stand by our commitment to make the blogging community part of the Diamond Suites family,” this the duo underscored.

Backpackers have a special place too at Diamond Suites Cebu via rooms designed for “wash-up purposes” whenever the need arises. “We have guests who find it a necessity to see the countryside, so they don’t really stay that long in the city. Thus, we came up with a wash-up room for P1,500 good for six hours, the right package to meet their ‘fly-in, fly-out’ approach to travel,” Hortelano informed.

Diamond Suites Cebu has 102 fully functional guest rooms. It used to be 129 but the 27 condominium units already have permanent residents. Rooms vary from Superior, to Deluxe and Suite Rooms. At the disposal of the business traveler are complimentary internet, gooseneck reading lights and a work space, alongside an LCD television that guests can enjoy while relaxing on a plush bed with memory pillows.

Visit diamondsuitescebu.com.ph for pocket-friendly rates, exclusive use of pool on sixth floor (top floor), and other concerns.###

No tax rest in ravaged Bantayan Is.

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

caption: Establishments like Balikbayan Resort get no tax reprieve even when badly beaten by the storm. Agnes Gilbuena, owner, reveals how they have to make ends meet: start all over again from scratch while settling dues.

BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU, PHILIPPINES — No such thing as zero-percent loan interest and tax rest period for Bantayan Island traders and entrepreneurs.

In its first-ever media presentation, the Bantayan Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BICCI) lamented how crisis lashes at them double whammy.

Having close to nothing at all to expect from the government when it comes to efficient post-Yolanda rehabilitation programs, the chamber looks at humanitarian consideration in loan grants tax reprieve and or levies, or for that fact, a rest period.

“However, it didn’t come. We have to survive crisis of sorts since we have to settle our taxes by the book while taking all the means to be able to stand above the storm,” Agnes Gilbuena who heads the hotels, bars and restaurants association here disclosed. She runs Balikbayan Resort in Santa Fe which you might want to check because of its cozy space where diners can talk – really talk over meals and wine.

Vince Escario, vice president (external) of the Bantayan Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a chapter of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce, also lamented on the lack of zero-percent interest rates even in the name of humanitarian consideration.

“Financial institutions have offered a one year grace period but on the second year of the loan, a six percent annual interest rate applies,” he said.

As for BICCI president Arthur Despi, he noted that even loan guarantors are asked to settle four percent in taxes, the risk being passed on to loanholders. “It’s really hard for us to cope with that because while we are trying to spread hope around here, some forms of help are also accompanied with a burden to loanholders. We are in the process of strong writing and lobbying that the Bureau of Internal Revenue relaxes their way with us, makes it a bit easier for us, knowing what we went through.”

Another burden to the island is the cargo and passenger rates. “Compared to Camotes-Danao and the Escalante-Tabuelan or Tuburan routes, the Hagnaya-Santa Fe route is shorter but more expensive. The Marina has to do something with direct shipping lines to reduce the rates especially the goods from the mainland,” Escario added.

The chamber was created last year to raise issues and provide proper forum for dialogue. It eyes collaboration among entrepreneurs in the island’s three towns, mostly fishermen, to understand the dynamics of economics in their trade and distribute efficiently the benefits of rehab efforts in the area.

This is the first-ever media presentation of the BICCI in line with the #iBLOGforBANTAYAN event, a brainchild of Escario’s, which saw the convergence of the Cebu Blogging Community and traditional media, as well as the Philippine Information Agency-7 in shouting out social good as Bantayan Island takes a proverbial resurrection from the ashes.

After the presentation, the #iBLOGforBANTAYAN participants were taken to a GawadKalinga site to take a literal stance to “ecovoluntourism.” The group took over shoveling and painting, and other construction works, as our share in rebuilding and relearning hope.

The area in Barangay Ticad is actually intended for a municipal village. GawadKalinga houses sit on an eight-hectare lot, with 300 units now home to some 59 families.GawadKalinga is connected to social enterprise “Human Nature,” a pro-Philippines, pro-environment, pro-poor beauty and wellness products. GK is best known for its sweat equity scheme in providing mass housing.###

Bikini open ‘strange to Bantayan’

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU, PHILIPPINES — Out of sight.Out of mind.

Bantayan Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Arthur Despi pointed out that because some beach resorts here rent out their spaces to private event organizers, the latter think they already have the freedom to stage any show they want even if such collides with local sensibilities.

“As for BCCI, the staging of a bikini open is out of sight and out of mind. I mean, it is not the Bantayanons’ spirit, therefore it is strange to us,” he said in reply to a concern that such an event may happen again now that the island has already risen after being ravaged by Yolanda.

The influx of tourists is expected already weeks to the observance of Lent. Bantayan Island has always been a favorite destination of domestic and international tourists alike because it has fine sandy beaches, 14 islets suitable for hopping, distinct fishing practices having the sea as a natural resource heritage, and interesting religious practices like feasting on meat on supposed fasting season. This is in relation to a past Papal Bull exempting the island from fasting because of oversupply of food stock in the old days.

The anxiety over staging of bikini opens stems from a past event that obviously scandalized the locals and brought the organizer, including celebrity guests from Manila, apologizing to former Governor Gwen Garcia for hurting local sensibility, emphasizing stomping on women’s dignity here. ###

Int’l rock climbers bare SPOT project

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

caption: (L-R) Caroline Ciavaldini, James Pearson, and Yuji Hirayama brief local climbers and enthusiasts on the SPOT Project at the ActiveZone of the Ayala Center Cebu across ROX.

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — North Face rock climbing ambassadors James Pearson, Yuji Hirayama and Caroline Ciavaldini, in cooperation with climbphilippines.com directors Miel Pahati and Ina Pahati, met local climbers and checked the Cantabaco (Toledo City) natural wall formation in a climbing event recently in line with their SPOT Filipino Climbers Project wherever crags are in the country.

SPOT is an acronym for Share, Progress , Open, Teach.

“We will Share with Filipino climbers our climbing experience as well as climbing equipment,” the three shared in a gathering prior to the Cantabaco event. “We want to Progress together, learning from each other, climbing higher and harder,” they added.

“We are Open to them, and will Open new routes for them to drive forward the level of the community and to give them challenges to aspire. We will Teach them how to bolt, how to train and climb on different terrains.”

The SPOT Project is about helping each other, about spotting climbing buddies.

Pearson and Ciavaldini mentioned of turning over around 150 kilos of equipment like bolts, drills, crash pads and shoes, among many items, to climbphilippines to support this extreme sports here.

Ciavaldini and Pearson head Climbers Without Borders, an organization that brings together climbers all over the world to aid and support other climbing communities in developing the sport in their own localities. The SPOT Project is seen to create a support network between a global climbing community and local climbers. This would help local areas to develop climbing by collecting and sending in equipment, helping in developing crags by bolting more routes, and through financial, logistical or technical support supported by private and public sponsors within the network.

The dynamics of the SPOT were used at Cantabaco which is one of most interesting limestone crags in Southeast Asia. Grades here go from 6a to 8a+ with the majority in the 7 range characterized by pockets, tuffas, overhangs, crimps and slopes, offering around 40 routes up on the cliff.

The event was backed by ROX (Recreational Outdoor Exchange) aside from Climb Philippines and The North Face.###