Sunday, December 30, 2007

Looking Out For "Lobo" On ABS-CBN In 2008

I'm not really ang Angel Locsin fan but Papa Piolo Pascual is number one in my book of local actors. The first time I saw this trailer I was genuinely intrigued though for the life of me I still can't figure out why she turns into a white wolf (Lobo is Spanish for wolf) from time to time.

And omygawd, he is so drop dead gorgeous in the trailer. Something to look forward to in 2008. Pinoy TV is starting to show some promise in 2008. The show also stars the artistas I grew up watching - Pilar Pilapil, Robert Arevalo, Dante Rivero. And admittedly, there is some degree of chemistry between the Angel and the Piolo. View the trailer to see what I mean..

Monday, December 17, 2007

Restaurante "Pia y Damaso" At The New Greenbelt Five

Noli Me Tangere was a huge part of my high school life.

When I first read about this new restaurant at the spanking new Greenbelt 5, I knew I just had to go. Last Saturday I spent a lovely afternoon with a very good friend and dined on dishes that brought to life Rizal's immortal characters. Think Maria Clara, Crisostomo Ibarra, Dona Victorina, the notorious Padre Damaso (after whom the restaurant is named after) and a host of others. Take a look at the interesting array of entrees on the menu that brought to a long-forgotten era. I secretly wondered to myself if these were the dishes that the friars and Filipinos once dined on. Probably. There is an interesting entry on the drinks page - "Tubig Ni Maria Clara" made from cucumber juice, ginger syrup, and citrus water - sounds very refreshing and something you would love to have on a summer's day.

Trivia - for those of you wondering why the name Pia y Damaso, they are the names of Maria Clara's parents, Pia Alba and the evil Prayle Damaso. Interesting huh? Do the meals here cause one to sin as well? Hmmmm. Not quite.

We started lunch with Croquetas de Jamon, which was delicious.

My friend decided on the Chicken Parian (with sticky rice, sausage and which was quite tasty and had an interesting presentation and texture to it.

I opted to go for the Fileto Empanado with dayap and caper butter (crisp, marinated and pounded and breaded beefsteaks)and was not entirely happy with it.

Aside from the fact that they were a bit greasy, they were quite gamey too. Not a good choice, really. My friend remembered how they used to cook something similar at home and together, all the siblings would pound on the beef in the kitchen. "Carne ng mahirap..." he described it so aptly. Something that the poor people from Noli Me Tangere probably ate. The version I had was quite malitid as well. Di ata nakuha sa pukpok.

Dessert demons that friend and I both are, it was a good thing that dessert was the saving grace to my meal. I had Padre Salvi's Canonigo (the infamous friar who lusted after Maria Clara) and true to it's inspiration, the dessert was, yes, quite sinful.

Friend had some version of the ever-popular Banoffee pie and the chocolate that was used on this treat was really so scrumptious and velvety. Truly exquisite.

The restaurant is small but its interiors are oh-so-charming, lovely and very-well done. Owned by Chef Bambi Sy Gobio (she of Kooky and Luscious fame), it's no wonder that the dessert menu is a fabulous and interesting one. I love the pretty details, the ribbons on the chandeliers, the paper that they line your table with, etched with swirly pen and ink designs, the menu itself, and the logo of Padre Damaso holding what appears to me like a giant chicken drumstick.

"Pia y Damaso" is located on the second floor of the beautiful Greenbelt Five. Not too many stores and restaurants are open yet, but those that are, deserve a second look. I didn't have time to browse through my friend Ruby Gan's "Mythology" a beautiful store that puts together the talents of five highly talented Filipino designers. The new mall is beautifully lit and so well-laid out. I will definitely go back to explore some more. Meanwhile, enjoy more pictures of the mall, here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Grown-Up Christmas Tips List

ROOTS&WINGS Column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 16, 2007

Christmas day is just a heartbeat away and you can really feel it everywhere. In a week’s time, the kids will be done with school and I suspect that most homes will be in a mad state of preparing the homes for the holiday. Already, there are sales galore in practically every mall in the metro and many stores are doing brisk business.
So much of Christmas has become commercialized but let not the material trappings put a damper your holiday mood or take away the true meaning of Christmas. As we prepare to remember our loved ones with gifts of appreciation, and prepare sumptuous meals in anticipation of family reunions, let us not forget that there are many others who are in need. Not only during Christmas, but each and everyday, we must strive to pay it forward. Here are a few ways to celebrate a more meaningful and hopefully, stress-free Christmas.

• Give gifts that give back.

This year I made a conscious effort to try and choose gifts that one way or another give back. One of the nicest and most practiocal ones I found are Ichay Bulaong’s Luntian bags at Her bags are completely sewn and printed by a group of womenfolk from San Teodoro, Mabini, Batangas. Starting off with one mananahi, the livelihood program now benefits 21 families. Email Ichay at for orders.

Another environmentally-friendly gift that gives back are safe, non-toxic,
environmentally correct household cleaners created by a company called Messy Bessy Cleaners. Krie Reyes-Lopez and her siblings set up a project called HOUSE (Helping Ourselves Through Sustainable Enterprise) and Messy Bessy is one of the enterprises that helps disadvantaged youth. Krie says that while they are aiming for Messy Bessy to provide homes with safe and natural cleaners, they are also providing marginalized people experiences in manufacturing, accounting, sales and hopefully a lot more. I like their lavender linen spray and eucalyptus all-purpose scrub. Email them at or call 0917-830-3003 for inquiries.

• Pack Christmas care packages instead of giving money to those who provide services.

When December comes, many of our homes become flooded with the ubiquitous white envelope with the “Merry Christmas Ma’am/Sir” stamped on it in various hues of red, green or blue. For the last few years now, I decided that I wasn’t going to give money anymore to our usual service providers – postman, garbage collectors, and every imaginable bill collector you can think of during Christmas. Instead, my children and I, together with our househelp will put together a Christmas care package composed of noodles, sardines, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush for the adults; and one with cookies, candies and some toiletries for the children who ring our doorbell or knock on our car windows. In doing so, you can be assured that the goods will be for their personal consumption and the money you have spent does not go to waste.

• Sing or play Christmas carols.

Every morning now, for the last week or so, my children wake up to the sound of Christmas music. In the evenings, we play the softer, slower ones that lull us to sleep while the mornings are reserved for the hipper (I just love Babyface’s version of “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”) Christmas carols. Nothing says "holiday season" like Christmas carols and so I make sure that I have them playing whenever possible. Since I discovered this wonderful website the music on my laptop has been on, non-stop.

• Clean out your closets and donate your children’s old (but in good-condition) toys and books.

This holiday season, teach your children the true spirit of giving by asking them to choose one of their new or still in good-condition toys to give to a child in need. There are many organizations that you can choose to donate their books and toys too. This year, Migi’s Corner, a foundation we set up in memory of my son, is doing a toy drive for the children of Barangay Rio Hondo in Zambonga. During the last typhoon, several towns were hit by giant waves and the effect was tsunami-like, diplacing a total of almost 2000 families. If you would like to bring cheer to these children who have lost not only property but in many cases, family members, as well, please donate your old books and in good condition toys. Email or call 0910-744-6469

• Volunteer your time and energy.

Give a little of yourself this holiday season and helping others is always a great way to spread cheer and love. Take time out of your busy holiday schedule to volunteer at a hospital ward, an orphanage, a women’s shelter or an old folk’s home. Bring them a little something or at th very least, bring them your smile and your companionship.

• Spend time together as a family and watch uplifting Christmas-themed movies.

My personal favorite is the 1946 Frank Capra classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”
starring James Stewart. Stewart plays a man about to commit suicide during the holidays (statistically, the highest suicide rates unfortunately always occur around the holidays) because he’s financially ruined. An angel stops him in his tracks by showing him what life would be like if he’d never existed. A beautiful movie that celebrates the resiliency of man and the beauty of life.

• Shop in comfort.

I have become my mother when it comes to shopping – scouring the shops in my jeans,
tees and hoodie. My greatest find this season has given me so much comfort while walking around. The Merrell Women’s Relay Stretch is awesome in the support that it provides. When I tried to find out what made it different, I discovered that it was because of the Q-Form™ technology that compensates for a woman’s pronounced “Q angle” (the angle between hip and knee) to alleviate discomfort. This also reduces the wear and tear of shoes, enabling them to last longer. For women who love to walk, this is the perfect shoe!

• Re-connect with old friends but don’t stress yourself out trying to get-together with everyone.
It’s the time of the year when there are parties all over town and suddenly old friends whom we haven’t seen the rest of the year, pop up from out of nowhere wanting to get together. Christmas is a wonderful time to re-kindle and renew ties but don’t stress yourself out and in the process get yourself sick. Prioritize the events you really must say yes to. The rest can be put off after the madness of the holiday season.

• Get your kids involved in all the preparations.

A child is the reason for this wonderful season that the whole Christian world celebrates. Christmas to my mind will always be magical in a child’s eyes. Involve your kids in as many activities as they are able to – wrapping the gifts, trimming the tree, doing charity or volunteer work, cooking the meals. It is in the making of these memories together as one family that makes the Christmas season all the more meaningful, making memories that they will carry with them until the time that they have families of their own.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Night With The Spice Girls Plus David and Tom

Okay, I'm not too crazy about the Spice Girls but when I saw them, I still got starstruck.

My anak-anakan Dagth Perez had the rare opportunity to see them in the flesh at their one-night only show in Los Angeles last week. Dagth who takes awesome photographs was blessed enough to bring "Turtles" (her beloved camera) into the jampacked Staples Center. The results are the photos you see on this page.

To boot, she got a close-hand look at Tom Cruise with Suri and Katie - best friends of the Beckhams. And, the David Beckham himself buying cotton candy and popcorn for his kids. At the end of the day, these celebrities are just like ordinary people too -- except that there are millions of dollars in assets between them and us.

Dagth says the show was really awesome and Victoria, the woman who bought a $50,000.00 pllayhouse for her sons (walang magawa sa pera) was the "fakest" but neverthless, she was the star of the night. Prettiest was a tie between Emma and Mel C; Jerri was the hottest and Mel B was the "scariest" whatever Dagth meant by that.

You are one blessed girl Dagth! Thanks for sharing your photos with the rest of the world. Sana susunod si Mc Dreamy na ang makita mo ng up close and personal.

Enjoy the photos below...
Tom Cruise was the evening's opening act

Followed by papa David Beckham

If you wanna be my lavah...

because friendship never ends...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

First-Rate Entertainment At The Ateneo De Manila 2007 Homecoming

It's been a quite a week with a flurry of events swirling all about town.

The partying hasn't stopped since Friday evening when we attended a fabulous dinner party at a family friend's house where in addition to a sumptuous dinner, we were serenaded no less by the U.P. Chorale and the dynamic and super talented husband and wife team of Isay Alvarez and Robert Sena. It was truly a night to remember - great food, the presence of old friends, fun conversation and world-class entertainment.

Saturday afternoon we had a special merienda for one of Griefshare family members and it was pretty poignant yet light-hearted as this young man in our group who had lost both his parents in a span of six months last year, talked about his memories of mom. God always brings people together to fulfill his purpose and the afternoon we shared was a clear example of that.

In the evening, I found myself at the Ateneo De Manila High School Covered Courts to join in the celebration of the Ateneo De Manila H.S. class of 1982 as they celebrated their silver jubilee. These were the same boys I grew up with who studied across the creek from my girl's school in Katipunan. Some of them became classmates as well in college at the Ateneo. It was great fun seeing them and reminiscing about our old times. I had front row seats courtesy of good friend Mikey B whose class, 4-G '82 was one of the homecoming's major sponsors. A stone's throw away from me were the boys of 4-B '82, some of whom I got to know pretty well during college and beyond. This batch is apparently the largest ever homecoming group with all 160 plus members from a class of about 300 in attendance. And with entertainers from the different generations such as the original Spirit of '67, Marc Abaya (HS'97), Jose Mari Chan (HS '57) plus a host of other bands who came much later it was really pretty impressive! I heard that the party lasted until 2AM the next day.

The damper on the evening was when my celphone was stolen. Yes, unfortunately, it happened within the confines of the homecoming, just as I was busy taking photos of the grand finale. Nakakainis nga, major. Nevertheless, it was still one pretty memorable night. Congratulations on a job well done boys! See you at your 30th!

More homecoming pictures here in my Multiply account.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Online Shopping and Gifts That Give Back

December is here and you can really feel it in the air, literally, that is.

I love the weather and the cold mornings. Makes it harder to get up but I love that the cool air lasts almost throughout the day making it more plesant to walk outdoors. The shoppers though have not yet quite gone out in full force. Though the malls are all decked beautifully in Christmas colors - Rustan's Makati is especially magical and I also love the underwater theme over at Shangril-la Mall - the shoppers are not quite there yet and I'm enjoying the quiet that it affords, for now.

We were at The Podium yesterday to catch "Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium" which is a great movie to watch with the kids. Many teachable moments there about the power of believing in oneself and in one's dreams and of course in moving forward in spite of. No crowds at the Podium and so it was very pleasant to shop around. Bumped in my mom and brother and we all had coffee at Segafredo after lunch. We planned to all get together again on the 15th when the mall-wide sale would be ongoing. Crowds galore.

This Christmas I want to give gifts that give back. One of the nicest ones I've found are these bags from Ichay Bulaong that are super reasonably priced and give back in many ways. That's what you call a truly meaningful gift with a bang for the buck. Check out the rest of her bags here and read about the wonderful ways by which her livelihood program is helping the women of Batangas. These bags really make cool, Christmas presents. If you know of any other vendors who make gifts that give back, please send me a link to their site.

Online shopping is another thing that I find myself doing a lot nowadays. There are so many young entreprenurs who sell their wares online and I am continually amazed by their creativity and even better, how reasonable their wares are! Name it - clothes, bags, accesories, shoes, abubots -- everything! For example, the cute charm bracelet here is from Claylettes. I discovered the wonders of online shopping through my daughter P and now, aside from watching "Grey's Anatomy" together, we send each other links to our favorite Multiply shops. Many of these young women have become my Multiply online buddies and I enjoy browsing their sites and inter-acting with them whenever time allows.

Today I am busy getting ready for my classes this evening and a Bible study later on tonight, and trying to complete a Christmas list with the objective of doing all my shopping by the 15th of the month. Over dinner last night, while talking about our lists, we decided to give loot bags (with candies, chocolates and either Pokemon of Hannah Montana items) to L's third grade classmates. "Loot bags?" he asked wide-eyed. "Yes, diba it's Jesus' birthday?" P replied. "Oh yes, we can tag them Happy Birthday Jesus!" he grinned and agreed immediately.

Don't you just love December?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Piolo's Araneta Coliseum Show

Darn. I missed this one and I regret it.

For weeks I had been planning on catching his big show at the Araneta Coliseum but kept putting it off. I hope they do a repeat because judging from these photos which I borrowed from my friend Girlie Rodis, the show was a blast! And of course Piolo was looking so FAB :)

The man is so disciplined so it's no wonder he looks that way. Thanks to his trainer Ace Duque whom papa P acknowledged in a Star Studio interview earlier this year, as the one who helps discipline and shape his bod. I see him at the gym, remember? And I can attest to this. Can't wait to watch "Lobo" his latest Star Cinema movie with Angel Locsin. But just like Girlie, I wonder what their chemistry will be like. I loved him with Claudine in "Milan". And Claudine is a way much better actress than Angel. Then again, if you use the San Mig coffee commercial where both of them look so, ok, hot - there might be the possibility of great chemistry there. Abangan na lang natin.

Hay. Sayang talaga. Gotta get back to the gym soon to get my Piolo fix. Hahaha. Congratulations on the success of your concert PJ! The heck with what Lolit saw or didn't see. According to Girlie, the shrieks all around Araneta that night proved that the women really didn't care whether P is or isn't. Eh ano ba? Guapo pa rin.

More Piolo pictures here in Girlie's site

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Magnitude 6.0 Rocks Manila - US Geological Survey Website

I thought it was vertigo. I'm still dizzy as I write this.

My friend Noemi felt it too and everyone's talking about it.

Here's the latest --

Thank God for the USGS site.Earthquake Details
Magnitude 6.0
Date-Time Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 04:27:01 UTC
Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 12:27:01 PM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location 16.037°N, 119.906°E

Depth 62.5 km (38.8 miles) set by location program
Distances 45 km (30 miles) W of Dagupan, Luzon, Philippines
85 km (55 miles) WSW of Baguio, Luzon, Philippines
120 km (75 miles) NW of Angeles, Luzon, Philippines
195 km (120 miles) NW of MANILA, Philippines

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 9.2 km (5.7 miles); depth fixed by location program
Parameters Nst= 47, Nph= 47, Dmin=917.9 km, Rmss=1.16 sec, Gp= 61°,
M-type=moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7

Event ID us2007kfal

Source -- US Geological Survey Site

The quake's epicenter was 45km west of Dagupan City and 195km northwest of Metro Manila. No damage yet as of this writing.

UPDATES : The USGS site lists 6.0 here but PHILVOLCS says only 4.2 I'm more inclined to go with the 6.0 because half an hour later I can still feel the swaying in my head.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Things To Remember When Stopped By The MMDA In MANILA

Got this informative email from one of my TOWNS sisters. She suggests that we print and keep a copy handy in our cars...

I just reached my limit last weekend, and decided to take action against the abusive MMDA enforcers. I basically called up the MMDA head office and inquired from the Personnel Officer, Antonio Pagulayan, to clarify theirpolicies. Here is what I got.

If any of these abuses seem familiar to you, Mr. Pagulayan has asked thatb you call either the MMDA hotline (136) or call the METRO BASE at 09209389861 or 0920 9389875 and ask for an Inspectorate. They will send inspectors to the place where these MMDA officers are extorting, evenwhile you are arguing out of your apprehension.

1. MMDA officers are not allowed to group together in order to apprehend.

They are not even allowed to stand together in groups of 2 or more. The only time they are allowed to work together is for special operations (probably when they apprehend groups of buses for smoke belching)

2. Swerving IS NOT a traffic violation. Moving one lane to the left or right is not swerving, no matter where on the road you do it. And it is even less of a violation when you do it with a signal. Swerving is defined as shifting 2 or more lanes very quickly. So you can argue your way outof this, and call the Metro Base for help.

3. Sadly, using the yellow lane is a traffic violation and will get you a ticket. However, buses are really not allowed to go out of the yellowlane, so if you see selective apprehension of private cars only, you may complain.

4. MMDA has confirmed that your license MAY NOT BE CONFISCATED at a traffic apprehension. The only time they can do so is if you are part of an accident, or it is your third violation and you have not settled your fines yet. They are only allowed to give you a ticket, which you can contest. He recommends actually receiving the ticket in some instances, so that you can report the officer who did it.

Also, you are free to ask any of these officers for their "mission order", which is written by their supervisor. If they apprehend you for a violation that is not in their mission order for the day, you can reportthem and they will receive disciplinary action.

So go out and enjoy! And drive safely!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ignacio Exhibit Benefits The Enrique Zobel Foundation

My good friend the visual artist - architect Joven Ignacio opened his nth art exhibit last night at Le Souffle at the Rockwell Club for the benefit of the Enrique Zobel Foundation (EZF).

Joven has always had a generous heart, always quick to help various causes. In turn, God has blessed Him with a wonderful career, both as architect and visual artist. Dee Zobel, Enrique Zobel's widow, had stumbled upon his work early this year when he held an exhibit for the Philippine Science High School Foundation at the Powerplant. It was there that she first broached the possibility of his helping out EZF Foundation. Last night, was the result of that collaboration.

EZF provides infrastructure, by building schools, providing learning support, teacher training and health and nutrition to the underprivileged children in Calatagan, Batangas. The foundation provides support for the 22 public elementary schools there with a total enrollment of 7,285 students.

Last night, the foundations board of trustees, friends and patrons came out in full support of Joven's exhibit. As of this writing, eight of his 14 paintings have already been sold out. Quite a feat for an opening night! The exhibit will continue to run for two weeks at Le Souffle.

To view more pictures, click here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kartini Spa and Garden Oasis

It was that time of the year when I needed to get away briefly from the city.

Motoring down south, I grabbed the opportunity to visit my good friend Nina Malvar's newest baby, the Kartini Spa Asia at the Alabang Town Center (ATC). This is the second Kartini Spa location in the bustling south metropolis, built on the success of the first Kartini Spa in BF Homes Paranaque. A few months ago, Nina and I had just been throwing ideas to each other on how she would convert her garden/landcape company at the ATC into a spa oasis. I was very much surprised and pleased with what she had created in such a short span of time!

Tucked amidst the sprawling KARTINI landscaped gardens, thriving greenery, vibrant flora and cascading waterfalls, Kartini Spa invites one to discover a pathway to inner peace and reflection. As you step into the gardens of KARTINI at ATC, you are surrounded by the exotic and poetic beauty of nature. From the serene natural backdrop to the elegant and exotic mood of the spa lobby and interiors and the skill of its therapists, the spa holds true to its promise of uplifting the spirit and awakening the senses.

The ambience is upmarket and classy, yet the costs of the treatments are very affordable. The treatment menu lists a range of massage therapies and foot pampering rituals which make use of indigenous ingredients as well as the finest essential oils.

The Kartini signature massage uses a combination of Balinese gentle long strokes and the invigorating strokes typical of Swedish, Shiatsu and Thai massage to relax tensed muscles and to attain inner glow and harmony. The treatment for 45 minutes costs Pesos 495.

The Philippine ‘Hilot’, the most famous in traditional Filipino healing, works on muscles and nerve pathways to encourage blood circulation and to aid in the removal of toxins. The 60 minute treatment costs Pesos 595.

The Foot Reflexology treatment for 45 minutes costs Pesos 495. The foot massage
techniques are designed to restore the natural energy flow around the body using finger-point pressure on the reflex zones on the soles of the feet, thereby emitting powerful energies that promote a cleansing and healing effect.
The Foot Spa Bliss for 30 minutes costing Pesos 295 consists of a foot scrub and a relaxing foot massage which detoxify the system and loosen the muscles resulting in a sense of deep relaxation.

I tried out their version of the Hilot and must say that it is one of the best ones I have experienced so far. Plus, the prices are really affordable! It's just too bad that this spa is too far away from my Quezon City home. The people from the south are so blessed to have this new spa to hie to whenever they feel like having a good rubdown amidst a beautiful garden.

KARTINI's therapists are all trained, graduates of a TESDA training program in San Pedro Laguna that was initiated by its Mayor Calixto R. Cataquiz. This is part of Nina's CSR for her business. She helps by providing practicum and employment to the new graduates. After the therapists graduate from TESDA, they do internship at KARTINI, and if they are good enough, they get hired.

Kartini Spa is ideal for people who like nature to be close at hand or for those who just need to slow down and are looking for a quiet and peaceful natural spa experience. The venue is also well suited for couples, group of friends and families who desire some hours of pampering and for corporate groups who need a much deserved break and wanting to build team spirit through bonding and relaxation.

And after a fanstatic treatment, all you want to do is just laze about Kartini's beautiful gardens, taking in the view while sipping your tea. Tranquil moments abound here in this oasis close to the city.

Curious about KARTINI? Call 8074356, 8077579 or 09178161368 for reservations or log into their website at

Saturday, October 20, 2007

TOWNS 2007 Awardees Acceptance Speech By Maria Ressa

For two decades now, my friends and I have had an ongoing debate: why isn’t our country doing better? First, it was because we didn’t have democracy. Then it was because we had too much democracy. Now it’s because our democracy is too mangled and torn by vested interests – often distorting truth and shattering certainty. What can we believe in? Where do we find hope?I’ve only known my co-awardees and the Towns women a week, but when I met them, I nearly broke down and cried. And I don’t do that. I’ve reported on death, destruction, radical change – but that day I was affected by this gathering of powerful women full of joy and hope for our future. This is an award given by women for women – who through their work – try to give the world back a piece of its lost heart.

Over the past week, we wrote each other about what really matters to find what we have in common.

I want to share five traits with you.First, we are fighters. All of us like to beat the odds. If you tell us it’s not possible, we’ll fight even harder to make it happen. We chose our fields and wanted to stretch the limits. We developed our own visions – not of things as they are – but of how we think they should be. We envisioned an ideal, and we worked hard to reach that.When I joined CNN nearly two decades ago, my goal was to change western media from within. Instead of complaining of how western journalists were reporting on Asian nations, I decided to do something about it. Now with ABS-CBN, I hope to help shape journalism at a pivotal time in our history.Cora, the head of the DNA Analysis Laboratory at UP, is instrumental in having DNA evidence accepted in court cases today. Eva, one of only 5 medical geneticists in the Philippines today is looking at the genetic root of birth defects, cancer and heart diseases. She is a pioneer in her field. Second, we are all teachers. We believe one idea, one person can make a difference and that the key is education. 7 of us have taught at universities here and in the United States. Cathy, a professor at Ateneo, has helped standardize and raise the quality of mathematics teaching. Glecy, a professor at UP, uses theater and arts to push for social change. A teacher builds for the future. The challenge is to take the vision you have and convince others to come along. That’s how you become a force-multiplier. Third, we believe deeply in integrity and values – and we are not afraid to stand up for them. Sandy led the Inquirer against an ad boycott by then President Joseph Estrada. Beth, the first woman president of two all-male groups - CAMPI (Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines) and the Truck Manufacturers Association – campaigned against smuggled vehicles. Fourth, we are obsessive about what we do. That word came from Dina, who admitted although she is being asked to guest on ANC for TOWNS, she planned to really talk about her obsession – which is her work teaching children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Hilly discovered a new species of giant clam found only in the Red Sea. How did she outscoop the other marine biologists in Jordan? Well, 7 of the 9 known varieties of clams are in Mindanao – which is where she’s from. We gain strength from being Filipino and use that to compete globally.

Finally, we all decided to stay. All of us – to varying degrees – were trained overseas. It’s human technology transfer. In order to be competitive, you need knowledge. But we all chose to come back and to put that knowledge to work in our society.Alyssa, a geologist-teacher at UP, gave up her US permanent residence status to come home under the Balik Scientist program of DOST.So what hope do we have as a nation? It comes from each of us. Hope is not something other people give you. We take responsibility for our patch, our areas of influence. That is our individual commitment and our contribution to nation-building.From all of us to all of you, thank you for this award!

Maria A. Ressa

October 18, 2007


Friday, October 12, 2007

2007 Outstanding Women In The Nation's Service - TOWNS 2007 Winners

An awesome harvest of women were chosen as this year's awardees for The Outstanding Women In The Nation's Service (TOWNS). Ten winners were chosen after a rigorous screening process done in mid-September, whittled the group down to 16 from a group of 72 nominees from all over the country. From the sixteen finalists, ten outstanding, amazing women were chosen for their strength of character and the excellence shown in their chosen field of profession or advocacy.

The press conference, held at the Museo Pambata this morning was well-attended by representatives from the Metrobank Foundation, who partnered and threw in their support to TOWNS this year, other TOWNS winners from the different batches and members of the media who came in full force :) It seemed like only yesterday when I, together with my sisses - forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun, then PSE Chair Alicia Morales, now Assistant Dean of the U.P. College of Engineering Aura Matias, broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, educators Deanie Lynn Ocampo and Blessie Raposa, environmental advocate and filmand stage actress Chinchin Gutierrez, U.P. professor and stage actress and poet Joi Barrios, agriculture specialist Madonna Casimero and lawyer __________ (my midlife brain forgets the name of this particular sister!) made up the TOWNS 2004 batch. As Tati Fortun joked when we were asked to address the crowd earlier today, "Today we relinquish our crown..." It was, a Miss Universe moment :)

Earlier in the week, my other TOWNS sister, an icon of mine, Paulynn Paredes and I were hard at work writing the bios of the winners and the citations to be written on their plaques. As I was going through each candidate's history and achievements I could not help but be humbled and awe at the body of work that these ten outstanding women had done so far. Get to know the bright and fascinating women who make up TOWNS 2007 --

For EDUCATION, Dina S. Ocampo, 42 is Associate Professor at the College of Education at the U.P. Diliman. She is also President of the Board of Trustees of Wordlab School, Inc. a non-stock, non-profit corporation which provides elementary education for children with dyslexia and related learning disabilities which she co-founded in 1995. Dina has advocated the use of child's language as the beginning language of education for over two decades. She has articulated the roadmap for achieving language and literacy competence for all Filipino children in schools.

Maria Corazon De Ungria, 40, for SCIENCE, is the Head of the DNA Analysis Laboratory at the U.P. Diliman. Her continuing and untiring efforts in spearheading the research and development activities of the UP NSRI DNA Analysis Laboratory have contributed to the recognition and acceptance of DNA evidences in court cases and other forensic applications. She developed a sexual assault investigation kit that is expected to assist investigations of sexual assault (particularly in children). The Child Protection Unit Network has distributed over 200 of these kits to its Metro Manila and regional units. She has met with members of the House Committee on Science and Technology to discuss the need for DNA legislation. Because of these discussions, House Resolution no. 659 was filed on March 14, 2005 calling on Congress to institutionalize and maximize the value of forensic DNA technology by establishing the DNA Technology Center that will maintain and manage the National DNA Database through appropriate legislation and appropriation.

For the field of MEDICINE, Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco De la Paz, 45 stands out as one of only five medical geneticists in the Philippines today. Dra. De la Paz was awarded the TOWNS for outstanding work and pioneering scientific research in the field of genetics that has aided in the proper diagnosis, management, prevention and identification of birth defects in the country and continuing efforts to help ease the burden of families with children born with significant disabilities.

Sandy and sonAlexandra Prieto Romualdez, 40 for the field of PRINT MEDIA was awarded the TOWN for her exemplary leadership in successfully steering one of the country’s largest media organizations, by being simultaneously responsive to the needs of her employees and the community which she serves through the creation of programs and reforms that seek to improve the quality of newspaper publishing in the country. Sandy is my boss and of course we are all so proud and happy that she won the TOWNS. In her speech today she gave thanks to all her teachers and mentors and to the men and women of Inquirer. Sandy joins our esteemed editor in chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, columnist Rina David and myself in the TOWNS sisterhood. Congratulations Sandy!

Alyssa Peleo AlampayAlyssa M. Peleo Alampay, 43 is an Associate Professor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences at the U.P. Diliman. Driven by a commitment to make a difference in the Philippines, she gave up her US permanent residence status and decided to return to the Philippines under the Balik Scientist program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Alyssa was awarded the TOWNS for her dedication in making earth science education in the country more accessible to a greater number of students and her outstanding scientific accomplishments into climate research that aid in the fight against global warming both here and overseas. As a female geologist in the Philippines she says that she has had many experiences wherein she has been singled out primarily because of her gender. It is also a field, she says that does not get a lot of funding and that there is a constant struggle to attract bright, young minds to engage in the field of geology. More than ever, she is inspired to do even more to push further and make a difference in promoting earth science education among teachers and the youth.

Hilly Ann Roa QuiaoitHilly Ann Maria Roa Quiaoit, 38 is the Director of the McKeough Marine Center at the Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro. Hilly is known locally and globally as an avid conservationist particularly of the endangered giant clams, she has been dubbed as the "mother of giant clams" in the Philippines. For her tireless efforts in helping conserve the endangered giant clams both here and around the world through community involvement and the creation of programs and institutions that highlight her dedication to the preservation and rehabilitation of marine life in various parts of the country she recieves the TOWNS Award for ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION.

Maria RessaMaria A. Ressa, 44 graduated with a BA English Literature degree from Princeton University. She is the Senior Vice President for the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Division. In 2001, Maria filed a report that followed up on the discovery of the terrorist cells of the Jemaah Islamiyah, Al Qaeda's arm in Southeast Asia. This report helped highlight the existence of terrorist cells in the region. She also reported on East Timor's struggle for independence and risked her life to continue the report even after diplomats and journalists were driver out of East Timor - making CNN the first international news organization to begin reporting again days after the arrival of the multi-national forces. In her speech today, Maria thanked her icon and mentor Cheche Lazaro whom she said was the reason for her coming back to the Philippines. Cheche and The Probe Team, she said, "Made me believe how one person, one small organization can make a huge difference in the lives of others."

Cathy Vistro-Yu
Cathy Vistro Yu, 43
is a Mathematics Professor at the Ateneo de Manila University. Cathy helped in the formation of the professional organization, MATHED which has 600 members from all over the country, and getting it recognized as the national organization of mathematics teacher educators. Over a span of five years, it is now acknowledged as the professional organization of mathematics educators and teachers. Together with other recognized mathematics educators, and in cooperation with the DOST-SEI, she has been a prime mover, initiator, advocate and implementer for the adoption of Mathematics Framework for Basic School Mathematics Curriculum as well as a Framework for Mathematics Teacher Education.

Beth LeeElizabeth H. Lee, 39 is the Executive Vice President of Universal Motors Corporation. In 1998, she joined Universal Motors Corporation as Senior Vice President for Marketing and was promoted to Executive Vice President, Marketing & Sales Group in 2007, in charge of developing primary goals, short and long-term objectives, implementing operational plans and overseeing all marketing activities for Nissan Light Commercial Vehicle products and services. She was elected the first woman president of the Truck Manufacturers Association for three years (2002-2004) and became the youngest and first woman president of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) where she has been president since 2005.Beth is the 2007 TOWNS Awardee for BUSINESS For her unwavering dedication to clean-up and save the Philippine automotive industry of illegal imports and for her creative foresight into developing programs that aim to help OFW’s and their families invest their money wisely by helping them become entrepreneurs and for raising the bar on Philippine-made vehicles not only in the country but world-wide as well.

Glecy AtienzaGlecy Cruz Atienza, 45 is a Full Professor at the College of Arts and Letters at the U.P. Diliman, a Sr. Artist-Teacher at the Philippine Education Theater Association and is Chair of ALYANSA, Inc (Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Pangkultura sa Kamaynilaan at Karatig Pook). is an artist, educator, civil servant and public intellectual. Her life and career are an example of artistic and academic excellence and selfless commitment and dedication in the use of the arts in the service of the country.Glecy is the TOWNS awardee for ARTS & CULTURE for turning theater into a pedagogical force in shaping lives by helping people realize their potentials and encouraging government and non-government agencies to use the arts as a means to involve the community in realizing their vision of a better life.
Glecy considers it a continuing challenge to engage communities in various venues of education and community action through art and cultural work, “given the slack in the support for cultural activities”. She intends to write and publish educational manuals and teaching materials while she supports her only son through medical school and takes care of her 81-year old mother.

Congratulations to all the awesome women of TOWNS 2007! May we be of even greater service to the nation in the years to come. Welcome to our sisterhood!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Desperate Discrimination - Why Didn't Terri Hatcher Speak Up?

In the midst of all the hoopla about that highly insensitive remark made on the Desperate Housewives show, one question continues to nag me... Why didn't Teri Hatcher refuse to mouth those objective lines?

I don't know how it works in the U.S. but over here, if an actor or actress finds the dialogue questionable, he or she can always argue with the scriptwriter or director. I've seen it happen personally several times. My mom who is a film and television actress has told me of many instances when she revised the dialogue because it did not seem right.

Teri Hatcher obviously has some sort of clout on the show. Hindi kaya niya nasisip na nakakasakit siya ng kapwa? Didn't she stop and think for one moment what the repercussions of that insensitive line would be? Doesn't she have at least one single Filipino-American friend? Or, wala lang? That to her, and the rest of the cast and crew is was really, no big deal at all?

In the U.S.State department, and the United States, over-all, discrimination is such a huge issue. In U.S. government offices, memos are regularly issued reminding employees about the issues regarding racial discrimination and always pointing out that these will not be tolerated under any circumstances and that if and when it takes place, the necessary sanctions will be issued. Hindi ba sila nga ang nagpa uso ng "WE are an equal-opportunity employer with no bias towards age, sex, race or religion." Obviously, on U.S. primetime television that doesn't hold any water and it becomes a free for all. Okay, which race do we pick on this week?

Lat year, Terri Hatcher had the courage to stand up for and against child abuse and she won my admiration for it. Parang hindi ata siya nag-isip this time around. Because of this incident, unofrtunately, the actress now lives up to her onscreen persona - apparently, she is as dizty off-screen as she is on-screen.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Reinventing Sharon In METRO October 2007

I had to do a doubletake when I passed the magazine shop display window the other day.

Whoa! Si Sharon nga ba yan? Yes, si Sharon nga!

There is she was, weighing much less than when I last saw her on television or on the huge billboards that dot EDSA. Hooray for her! Sharon joined the league of 40something women last year. This year she appears to be on the threshold of a serious re-invention of the self by being more authentic. For the first time, in this month's issue, she reveals to Palanca award-winning writer Ramil Gulle, that for many years she was a chain-smoker (blech) but that she has finally kicked the habit. Yet, she is human enough to admit that she still struggles with it once in a while. This is a true story folks. Sharon is a childhood friend. As a child, I grew up and lived on the same street where her Tita Helen Sotto lived. We would see each other during children's parties and hang out way before "Mr DJ" became a hit.

I would watch Sharon from the sidelines for many, many years. Keeping track of her joys and woes and once in a while we would bump into each other during showbiz functions. In spite of her Megastar status, she would always be the first to yell my name from across a room - "Catheeeee!" and I have always known her to be warm and accomodating.

Thus, when I saw her looking fab on the cover of Metro, my heart was warmed. She's clearly in a new phase in her life now, with a lot of things going on simultaneously - an adult daughter who is wonderfully gorgeous and very much successful, a new movie with the Aga Muhlach (another sweetheart of a man), going back to school and earning a degree, and a lovelier physique. Sharon's battles have always mirrored the battles of my generation of women. Her re-invention, once again echoes, the phase that many of us younger 40somethings find ourselves in. Congrats Shawie on your latest laurels.

I've been reading METRO now regularly, for many, many months. In fact, it is the only magazine that I buy and read from cover to cover. There are a lot of interesting, relevant and well-written stories, new things and places to try out,and its lay-out is crisp and clean - easy on a 40something's myopic eyes. In fact, I would venture to say that from among the magazines available today, METRO is the only one that addresses a lot of the issues that run through a midlifer's mind :) Congratulations to Mel, Joy, Alya and the rest of the METRO team for a job always well-done! METRO is Thelma Sioson - San Juan's legacy to legions of women like myself who are always in search of a good magazine to read. Having recetly retired from ABS-CBN publishing, I am quite confident that she will "ressurect" again somewhere, soon :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pinay Pride - First Filipina Nurse Heads California Nurses Association

The Filipino nurse is truly world-class and Zenei Triunfo Cortez, a registered nurse originally from Makati has just taken her place in history. Last September 1, 2007, as part of the council of presidents, she became the first Filipino President of CNA/NNOC (California Nurses Association/Natonal Nurses Organizing Committee), the nation's premier organization of Filipino nurses. This marks a watershed moment for nursing, which has increasingly become a global profession marked by steady migration from the Philippines, as well as for the larger Filipino-American community, which now numbers more than 2 million people but is only beginning to acquire the social and political representation it deserves. Reflecting on the election, Cortez remarked, "I am deeply touched by the honor bestowed upon me by my fellow nurses. To have come so far in my life and now to share the responsibility of advocating for patients and RNs alike is nothing that I could have imagined."

Founded in 1903, the California Nurses Association, and its national arm, the National Nurses Organizing Committee, is one of the nation’s premiere nurses’ organizations and health care unions. One of the fastest growing health care organizations in the U.S., CNA/NNOC presently has 75,000 members in 40 states, representing nurses at scores of hospitals, clinics, and home health agencies. Since 2000, over 19,000 RNs at 50 hospitals have elected to affiliate with CNA.It is the largest and fastest-growing organization of direct care Registered Nurses in the country dedicated to providing a voice for nurses and a vision for healthcare.

It’s been a long and hard road for Tiunfo-Cortez who migrated to the United States in the early 70s. A brother who was with the U.S. Navy sponsored all nine Triunfo siblings together with their parents, Aniano Villote Triunfo and Jovita Celi Triunfo. Becoming a nurse was farthest from the young Zenei’s mind. “I did not know that I would become a nurse. However, I’ve been surrounded by a family of Registered Nurses. It started with my dad's youngest sister Linda, who was part of the RN Exchange program in the 60's and so was a first cousin Annie. One of my sisters, Cindy, is also a Registered Nurse,plus sisters in law.I have inspired my neice Melissa to become an RN also,” she relates.

Triunfo-Cortez went to school in Chicago and began her career as a Medical/Surgical RN after her graduation in 1980. In 1982 she decided to move to California. Over the last 27 years, her range of experience has included Oncology, Orthopedics, Telemetry and Critical Care. She is currently a Staff IV Nurse in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit at a hospital in San Bruno. Triunfo Cortez will never forget her earliest challenge as being only one of two Filipinos in her nursing school. “I had to work extra hard to prove that Filipinos could excel in their chosen careers.”

She says that she has always believed in the power of the CNA especially when in 1990, she was denied her current position.” CNA helped me through the grievance process and eventually I prevailed. From then on, I became a Nurse Representative to help fellow RNs resolve issues. I do not want them to go through what I went through.” Tiunfo Cortez says that having seen her struggle, fellow RNs encouraged her to "officially" speak on their behalf by running for office. “I took on the challenge because I want RNs especially Filipino RNs to speak up for their rights, advocate for their patients and themselves.I was elected to the State Board of Directors for 3 terms (2 years for each term) and then was elected to the Vice President position for 2 terms (also 2 years for each term). Each time election comes around, I together with other colleagues running for office do launch a campaign. Since most of our constituents know us, they continue to support us.”

The CNA has grown to a point where there is now a National arm -- called the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) . Members are spread out all over the United States. Triunfo Cortez, who is one of four presidents, explains that the scenario has prompted the organization to change the structure. “Given the fact that we now have members coast to coast, it will be too hectic for just one president to handle all the duties and responsibilities. We are also bedside RNs who see to it that our patients get the quality care they deserve. Having a council of presidents allows us to remain at the bedside and lead the organization. The council shares the job equally and it is a two-year term.” AS one of the presidents, Triunfo Cortes says that she will personally push for universal healthcare for all with a single standard of care and single payer. “I will also continue to pursue patient advocacy and advocacy for the nursing profession.”

The new CNA president remains a Pinoy at heart as she continues to speak Tagalog at home and subscribes to theFilipino Channel. Like many other Filipino migrants, their families live very close to one another. “There is a lot of family support. My mom who is 85 tends to cook a lot everyday, just in case us kids or grandkids will drop by to eat. My dad who is 89 spends a lot of time in his garden. He gives me healthy plants and I simply return it to him when it is dying.I still call my older siblings "kuya" and "ate". Support became especially important when she battled cancer almost five years ago. The love and support of her husband, Robert, who works for a major hotel chain, and her other family members helped her pull through one of the trying times of her life. It also helps, she says that she had excellent healthcare coverage.

“ I did not have to worry about running out of insurance coverage. I was off for 6 months and again because of our contract language, I was able to save up all the sick time I earned through the 25 years of my employment. I was cared for by my husband who never left my bedside and of course my family too. I went through 2 1/2 months of daily radiation therapy. All the love and support and my strong faith in God helped me get well. Being a patient allowed me to see first hand the incredible work RNs do everyday. I received good care. It was not difficult for me to navigate the healthcare system because I know the system. It will perhaps be different for those who do not know. But again as RNs, we are there for them.”

Earlier this year, Triunfo Cortez was home and spoke a local nursing college. We asked her for some pieces of advice to impart to young nurses desiring a better life overseas. She had a mouthful to say --

“For those RNs who desire to go abroad, please read the fine prints of your contract. Ask questions, get the answers in writing. Exploitation is on the rise. A very important question to ask is,"Just in case you do not pass the state boards, what will happen to your status?" Your employers need to provide orientation and training, especially with the new technology. Look for a mentor who could assist you in your new work place. There is usually a mother figure willing to take on that role. Do not be afraid to ask questions when you are unclear on things. Above all, do not just go into nursing because it will “pay off.” You need to have the passion for the profession and the patience to face different challenges everyday. You need to be aware of the diverse cultural backgrounds your patients will have. Learn to be assertive. Work on your communication skills. Love your career.”

This article was published in the GLOBAL PINOY section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on September 16, 2007