MARIETA Baňez-Sumagaysay or MBS to the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) staff all these years had proven time and again that gender is and should not be an issue in the science profession.
“There can be no sex discrimination in an environment where merits count and where skills outweigh any sex-related factors, and this gave me the resolve to contribute to making this kind of environment happen for more women in science,” MBS, former director of the DoST-National Research Council of the Philippines (DoST-NRCP) and currently Professor 12 of Economics at UP Visayas Tacloban College, said of her early work experience in the field of sciences.
When MBS became the executive director of the DoST-NRCP in November 2015, she knew that her task was to promote basic research, and she did that exactly.
“The challenge in 2016 was so great — how to produce impactful results given the very low research budget. NRCP was then funding projects of less than P1 million; even as low as P300,000 if only to fund more of its more than 3,000 NRCP members. What impact can we expect?” MBS honestly depicted the basic research situation when she joined the council.
Under MBS’ leadership, together with the secretariat and with the approval of the Governing Board, NRCP came up with issue-based National Integrated Basic Research Agenda 2017-2022, and this served as NRCP’s guide for prioritizing research proposals for funding, as ably implemented by the Research and Development Management Division. NRCP’s Grants-In-Aid amounted to P12 million in 2016, which jumped to P117 million in 2022. And from having 3,927 members in 2015, the NRCP’s membership now stands at 5,111.
MBS’ advice to young Filipinos is this: “Stay focused. Seek for and be keen on opportunities that are for the taking.”
She cautioned them that, “You cannot have your cake and eat it, too. There will be trade-offs and opportunity costs while building a career. Remember to make conscious decisions by choosing options that will maximize your gains given the constraints and the limitations.”
Lastly, MBS invites the young to remember that “Women and girls hold half of the sky and half of the seas. Claim it!”
The Pabo chair of Cielo Fiero was originally commissioned by celebrity hairstylist Jing Monis.
If you’ve been watching the revenge drama “Dirty Linen,” chances are you may have caught the powerful-looking Pabo chair in Doña Cielo Fiero’s (Tessie Tomas) room. Some people thought it was inspired by the adventure fantasy series “Game of Thrones” but the chair’s designer, the architect Jed Yabut, says it’s a contemporary reimagination of the Peacock Chair which was popularized by PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) in Bilibid back in the 1900s.
The Pabo chair was actually commissioned work for celebrity hairstylist Jing Monis. “[Jing] wanted a Peacock Chair, but not the traditional one,” Yabut recalls. So what the architect-turned-furniture designer did was make the Peacock more masculine. “But it still has the feel of a throne,” he offers.
Meanwhile, Dreamscape Entertainment head Deo Endrinal, a fan of Yabut’s work, instructed the show’s production designer Nancy Arcega to check out some of the designer’s pieces for “Dirty Linen.” And that’s how the Pabo chair made it to local TV’s most talked about series.
Like the original Peacock Chair, the Pabo is also made of rattan. In fact, Yabut, who started his furniture business during the pandemic, specializes in making contemporary rattan furniture. “I chose a material that has a lot of nostalgia in it,” he tells us. “Back in the 1980s, sobrang nag-boom ang rattan furniture in the Philippines and globally.”
Over time, however, furniture made from different materials came in, including plastics from China, and these eclipsed the popularity of rattan. “I chose to specialize in rattan because I want to also bring it back in fashion,” he tells ANCX. But Yabut wanted to make his works more modern and edgy, conversation pieces that emphasize “random patterns and varied textures as an homage to the Filipino sensibilities of ‘beautiful chaos’ and resourcefulness…I didn’t want to make it look like it’s the traditional rattan furniture that we are all familiar with, so I added twists and lots of geometric shapes.”
To highlight the Filipino-ness of his creations, he named his pieces alon, ati-atihan, bakawan, bunot, pugad, salbabida, tinikling, trumpo, and so on. “Apart from the nostalgia that I want to bring into the minds of users and lookers, gusto ko rin makita nila na yung mga shapes ng mga designs natin are based from Filipino icons,” he says, adding that the “exoticism of the word may also spark interest in the global furniture scene.”
To reinforce the durability of his pieces, Yabut uses metal framing, which are covered with rattan skin and rattan peel. The Pabo chair, for instance, has metal frames at the back and bottom. He also uses only locally supplied wood and raw materials. “We make sure that our pieces are 100% Philippine produced,” he says.
Yabut earned a degree in Architecture at the University of the Philippines. After graduating from college, he worked for eight years at Architect 61, one of the big architectural firms in Singapore involved in building skyscraper projects.
The Manila-born Yabut later worked at Nikken Sekkei, the largest architectural firm in Japan and believed to be third largest in the world. There, he worked mostly on hospitality projects like the Four Seasons Hotel and a ski resort in Hanazono, Hokkaido. While in Japan, he completed his Master of Business Administration, already entertaining thoughts of switching to business consultancy.
Fate, however, had other plans. Just as he was hired to work for Japanese real estate company Mitsubishi Estate in Singapore, the pandemic hit. He went home to the Philippines thinking the situation would normalize in two or three months but it didn’t. That’s when he thought of creating a furniture line in the Philippines.
“It was not in my wildest dreams, not in a three- or five-year horizon, that I planned on becoming a furniture designer,” the 37-year-old architect tells us.
Thru the advice of his Chinese classmate in MBA, Yabut started his furniture business at the height of the pandemic. “We have a saying in Chinese that, ‘thriving and successful businesses are born during years of crisis,’” he recalls his friend saying. He designed his first collection in July of 2020 and launched it December the same year.
Yabut’s company has been doing well since. “I don’t have the numbers but I felt like nag-spike ang demand for rattan furniture during the pandemic,” he says. “That’s because I think people wanted to feel more connected with nature, with organic things, with wood since we were all enclosed in our spaces.”
Yabut says furniture makers these days are mostly in their 40s and 50s. So to help preserve the legacy of rattan furniture making in the Philippines, he hires and trains younger artisans. “Ang maganda sa mga bata mabilis silang matuto. In as much as I want to support our [older] artisans, feeling ko I need now to step up in trying to explore and teach the younger generation about it.”
Yabut’s modern rattan furniture pieces can be seen at Angkan Coffee Company, SM North The Block Food Hall, Mugna Cafe Bohol, and Lihim Resorts El Nido. He’s also currently working on outdoor pieces for Pia Wurtzbach’s personal lanai, including what he named the “Binibini” chair, “an outdoor piece with organic lines and graceful silhouette befitting a queen.” It looks like this erstwhile architect is becoming the maker of seats of power.
Sometimes, fate favours those who firmly hold on to their dreams—such was the case of 36-year-old ‘Maria Clara at Ibarra’ director Zig Dulay
There was only so much Zig Dulay could do as a child who relied heavily on his neighbour’s ailing television set for entertainment. Born and raised by his farmer parents in the far-flung province of Isabela, Dulay was aware of the privileges that life robbed him of at an early age. “As a kid, I loved watching soap operas, [even when] we had no TV. We barely had access to movies. Besides having no dispensable cash to pay for our tickets, people in our province needed to visit the city to enjoy watching in a movie house,” Dulay recalls.
“All I had was my dream. I wanted to be involved in filmmaking, I just didn’t know how.”
In 1997, Dulay was among the people who flocked to the cinema for James Cameron’s Titanic. And while the classic is widely remembered as a romance flick, the filmmaker asserts that its plot is more than what it seems to appear. “It was my first movie ever. Although it was deliberately framed as a love story, [I noticed how] hierarchy, power, and class disparity were apparent in the narrative. There were no equal opportunities between the rich and the poor.”
With heightened class consciousness, Dulay was even more drawn to politically-charged storylines. “I watched movies like Bata-bata Paano Ka Ginawa, Dekada ‘70, Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Orapronobis, Bona, and a lot of Lino Brocka films,” he shares. “I became interested in movies that are not only there to entertain. Sa palagay ko, doon sumibol ‘yung kaluluwa ng mga likha ko ngayon [In hindsight, I think that’s when the essence of the works I have now truly sprouted].”
A painter with no palette
Dulay admits that he is not fond of confrontations. He takes charge and expresses his pent-up frustration through writing. At the time, his pen and paper were the closest tools he had for storytelling. “All my feelings I keep inside the work I do–in poems, essays, and whatnot; some afternoons I spend alone so I can talk to the sun before it sets, some nights I spend outside so I can stare at the thousands of stars in the sky.”
The young filmmaker spent his years in college as a journalism scholar at the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio. It was at this stage that his talent emerged for the first time. “We made two short films—Baguiomorphosis and Apo Lakay. I was the scriptwriter. We were students then, so when these films won, I felt like the universe tapped me and said my dreams will someday come to fruition.”
Sometime in 2005, Dulay stepped in Manila and hurriedly took himself to the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Around this year, the art and culture corporation launched Cinemalaya, which, as of this writing, showcased more than 1000 works from independent filmmakers. “I watched Endo and Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros. I was truly inspired that I wanted to learn how to make films. I enrolled in Sir Armando Bing Lao’s workshop.”
What Dulay lacked in resources, he made up for with his dreams and determination. In the middle of Lao’s workshop, the filmmaker was restricted by his financial situation and could no longer pay for his tuition. But instead of caving in, he plucked up the courage to contact Lao and offered to be the latter’s assistant in exchange for free lectures.
“Sir Bing agreed and asked me to attend his ‘Sunday Clinic’ instead. It was a small group of directors who met every week. I was there, at the side, listening, learning,” Dulay shares.
“He [Lao] truly made an impact on my filmmaking career. Even now, his ‘Found Story’ filmmaking philosophy guides me in whatever it is that I decide to pursue,” he adds.
Pride of the family
ABOVE The trailer for ‘Ekstra’ starring Vilma Santos
Many events piqued Dulay’s interest in filmmaking, but there is one that truly moved him. “In the beginning, I knew that I had a knack for storytelling, I am just not sure if directing was also for me.”
Dulay recalls a time when his sick mother frequented the hospital. The latter could no longer afford to stand, but her demeanour changed when she saw her son on the TV screen. “She saw me on TV, being interviewed because of the story I worked on…it was Ekstra, starring Vilma Santos. I was told she went near the screen and screamed, ‘Anak ko ‘yan! Anak ko ‘yan!’[That’s my son!]. That gave me hope.”
Stories that matter
Now sure of the path he wants to take, Dulay directed films like Paglipay and Black Rainbow, which are comical and show the plight of the minority. “Some topics need meticulous research, especially those that I still have a blind spot on. Stories connected to indigenous peoples require ethnographic research. This means I need to interview, immerse myself, and observe the community.”
“It is not the filmmaker who chooses the story,” Dulay tells Tatler. “It is the story that picks that filmmaker and if it picks you, it becomes your obligation to tell it the best way you can—echo the calls of those who are not heard, give a space for those who are always brushed to the sides. My motto is ‘always use your heart in finding the soul of the story’ what and who is this for?”
ABOVEThe trailer of Zig Dulay’s ‘Black Rainbow’
It is not the filmmaker who chooses the story, it is the story that picks that filmmaker and if it picks you, it becomes your obligation to tell it the best way you can
– Filmmaker Zig Dulay –
Dulay explains that cinema, besides being a powerful instrument for self-expression, must also be a tool that empowers and serves the nation.
“Napaka halaga ng pelikula o anumang porma ng sining para isatining ang boses ng mga pinipipi [Cinema or any form of art for that matter is important to to give space for people whose right to self-expression are constantly invalidated],” he says. “Huwag hayaan na masikil ang ating kuwento, gamitin natin ang sining natin para magsilbi sa kapwa at sa bayan [Let’s us not let our stories die, let us use art to serve the nation and each other.”
On ‘Maria Clara at Ibarra’
There is no doubt that Dulay’s works have always been praised and acknowledged in contemporary filmmaking circles not until Maria Clara at Ibarra that his work attained mainstream popularity.
“I am grateful for those who placed the series in my care. I recall talking to Suzette Doctolero about it. I was truly excited. It is not every time that filmmakers are given this kind of material for TV,” shares Dulay.
The filmmaker shares how intricate the cast and crew were in making the series. “I started re-reading Dr Jose Rizal’s two novels [Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo], my two favourite subjects in school. Ms Suzette also shared some readings with the creative team. We also attended seminars and consulted esteemed historians.”
For Dulay, the problems in the fictional world of ‘Maria Clara at Ibarra’ continue to resemble the issues Filipinos have in the present time.
“Jose Rizal delivered a profound story; even in the present, we see how the socio-political ills mentioned in his two novels are still the very problems we face today,” Dulay explains. “The ‘kanser ng lipunan’ (social cancer), which he mentioned are still present today—they’re just under the guise of different faces and institutions.”
“During meetings, topics like oppression, Marxism, feminism, revolution, and love are always on the table.”
GMA Films offered Dulay a “magic realism” series, but the filmmaker has yet to reveal whether or not this is a project he will accept.
“After Maria Clara at Ibarra, I intend to rest,” Dulay admits. “I want to experiment on stories that will take me out of my comfort zone; the truth is, until now, I still don’t know [the themes] where I will prosper as a filmmaker, and I feel like I’ll only be able to find an answer after being exposed to things that I have yet to see and experience.”
The filmmaker believes Filipino films and series still have a long way to go in exploring themes outside “pure and safe entertainment”.
“It becomes a struggle for storytellers to provide stories different from what we see in mainstream media. Producers and advertisers can only place their bets on purely entertaining pieces because these are the types of shows that generate money. This, I suppose, is the bane of modern-day filmmaking.”
Dulay claims that education plays a big role in reshaping the minds of the audiences and filmmakers alike. “Sa palagay ko, kailangan ng malawakang pagtuturo ng film appreciation para mas tumaas pa ‘yung pagkilatis at pagbasa sa mga pelikula o kuwento [In my opinion, we need to teach more people the importance of evaluating films and stories on a deeper level],” Dulay says.
He asserts that the challenge for Filipino filmmakers is to have stories that generate timely and relevant conversations.
“We have to ask ourselves—how do we use film in breaking silence? How can art give a platform for the minority? How can your work transcend ‘entertainment’? Stories should be able to provoke and start conversations,” he concludes.
The Mango Bride author Marivi Soliven found sweet vindication when her award-winning debut novel—which initially saw limited success in terms of book sales—got a second chance a decade later through a big-screen film adaptation top-billed by Megastar Sharon Cuneta.
The Palanca grand prize winner revolves around two Pinays named Amparo and Beverly, “who migrate to California and discover hidden truths as their stories meet and intertwine.”
Soliven’s book was certainly good enough to win the 2011 Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature. It was also good enough to be picked up by leading publishing house Penguin Books for release in 2013.
“I didn’t have a creative or business strategy for my novel. I just wanted to get it published. Fortunately, the publisher who took me on was among the five biggest ones around. That certainly helped open doors with regard to getting the Filipino and Spanish editions published. National Bookstore was kind enough to fly me home when The Mango Bride was first released. They flew me home again when the Filipino edition, translated by my dear friend, the phenomenal Danton Remoto, was published a couple of years later,” Soliven tells PhilSTAR L!fe.
However, just like any conventional story, it had its own share of setbacks to complement its victories.
Now, I own all the rights to ‘The Mango Bride’ and the film adaptation is in process. That’s what I call vindication, not revenge—sweeter, but not as b*tchy.
Specifically, despite the award-winning author’s best efforts, her novel just didn’t sell well enough to justify a second printing. Consequently, her publisher made a business decision “not to throw more good money after bad.” Penguin eventually reverted all rights for the book, which was out of print, to Soliven, who no longer had a literary agent.
“I was trying to find another literary agent to represent me for the second novel. I thought my dreams were dead in the water,” Soliven recalls.
One day, she got an email from a producer of global media company 108 Media.
“Micah Tadena emailed my former literary agent Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, asking about optioning the book for a film adaptation. By then, Jill and I had parted ways, but she was kind enough to forward the email to me. I was initially skeptical because over the years, I’d been approached by several other producers whose plans had never come to fruition. But Micah was persistent and after a couple of Zoom meetings during which we discussed 108 Media’s vision for the adaptation, I realized she was legit,” Soliven narrates.
The company would send the novelist a contract, which prompted her to quickly find an intellectual property (IP) lawyer to consult. At the time, she was still short of a literary agent to provide industry wisdom. Fortunately, she found a trusty IP lawyer to educate her about the film business, among other relevant legalese.
From there, she would get to know the other 108 Media producers and execs, and of course, Sharon Cuneta herself.
Soliven sees her slow-burn tale of inspiration as one of vindication rather than vengeance.
“If I’d burned the bridge with my first agent, Jill may not have forwarded Micah’s email to me. So now, I own all the rights to The Mango Bride, and the film adaptation is in process. That’s what I call vindication, not revenge—sweeter, but not as b*tchy,” she explains.
In her narrative, the writer regards her experience as more of practice, not the more traditional hero’s journey that we are accustomed to. It involves practicing writing on a daily basis. Just as important, she makes a note to read, and to read well.
“I hesitate to give advice to other writers. What worked for me was to read widely—everything from pulp fiction to in-depth investigative articles. After a while, you begin to discern good writing from bad, and effective storytelling techniques. I don’t have an MFA in creative writing, but I’ve nevertheless learned so much about writing well from reading the work of good writers,” Soliven says.
Her journalism education background at the UP College of Mass Communication certainly helps, because “Louie Beltran pushed us to step out of our comfort zone and really get into the weeds of a story. I have him to thank for sending me to the Western Police District in Manila and look over the police blotter. Gnarly.”
“Also working many years in advertising as a copywriter taught me how to revise constantly and not fall apart when your best ideas are shot down,” she said.
I hesitate to give advice to other writers. What worked for me was to read widely—everything from pulp fiction to in-depth investigative articles. After a while, you begin to discern good writing from bad, and effective storytelling techniques.
There’s no rush, as seen in her experience of waiting for the book to get the audience it deserves. And even before that, she ensured quality over speed as she breathed life into her literary baby.
“I wrote a quick draft of the novel during NaNoWriMo 2008, then spent two years revising the draft with the help of a writing group led by Judy Reeves. We met every Wednesday evening and offered feedback on our works in progress. Of the six writers in that group, at least three of us published our stories—two novels and one memoir.”
ARCHITECT Dawnelli Mahomoc Luar, who dreams to have a better home for her family, recently placed seventh in the January 2023 Licensure Examination for Architects, garnering a score of 82.30 percent.
“Maybe naa sa akong (because of my) inner desire siguro is to live in a better living condition, so I think isa to siya sa rason nako nga magpili og architecture (it’s one of the reasons why I chose to study architecture),” Luar told SunStar Davao in an online interview Thursday, February 2, 2023.
Luar grew up in an informal settlement in Bislig, Surigao del Sur. Despite the place she grew up in, she said they were still able to live comfortably as a family and harmoniously with their neighbors.
For the University of the Philippines-Mindanao (UP-Min) graduate, it was not easy getting to where she is right now as she deals with losing her home, Covid-19, and the postponement of the exam.
Luar graduated in 2018 but she needs to work for two years in an architectural firm to be able to take the licensure exam. However, Covid-19 struck in 2020, postponing the exams for two years. She remained in Davao City and continued her review.
Before taking the exams in 2023, she had to skip the examination in 2021 and 2022.
In 2021, she opted not to take the exam due to the requirements she needed to comply with. Luar also said she was not ready to take the exam in the same year.
This was also a tough year for her as she had to deal with losing a home after it burned down.
“Sakit na mawad-an imong nadak-an nga lugar, tapos nawala na tanan, since bata pa gyud ko, pila na katuig nagpuyo didto tapos comfortable naka sa imong mga kauban (It’s very painful to lose the place that you grew up in),” Luar said, adding that they had to temporarily live with their relatives.
In 2022, she got sick, which affected her review.
“Then I got sick, siguro Covid-19 to, dako kaayo siya’g impact kay kasakit tapos dili maka-focus, (I think I got Covid-19, which affected by review because I could not focus),” Luar said.
Luar said that during her review, she experienced loneliness and burnout. Thankfully she had friends to help her get through the tough times.
“Dako kaayo og tabang nga makig-uban ka with friends kay makapangutana mo, magtinabangay mo, magpinangutan-anay at naa kay karamay sa imuhang ma-feel na maka-relate gyud sa imuha ba, nga pareha mo og ginaigian (It is a big help to have friends whom you can ask help from, talk with, or going through the same patch),” she said.
When 2023 came, Luar said it would be her make-or-break-it year.
“Karun 2023, gi-set na gyud nako sa akong mind na mag-take na gyud ko kay last chance na nako ni kay kapila nako nag-defer (This 2023 had my mind set to take the exam because this will be my last chance since I deferred it several times),” she said.
Eventually, her hardwork and determination paid off after passing the exam with flying colors and placing seventh overall.
Now that she’s a licensed architect, she plans to build a house for her family and to learn more about architecture from experts in the field.
Meanwhile, UP-Min garnered a 100 percent passing rate wherein all seven first-time examinees passed the licensure exam.
Other Davao City schools also performed with flying colors. The University of the Immaculate Conception also earned a 100 percent passing rate, with both examinees passing.
Ateneo de Davao University earned a 71.93 percent passing rate with 41 passers front he total 57 examinees. Of this, 36 were first-time takers while 13 were repeat takers.
The University of Mindanao in Davao City had a 53.09 percent passing rate wherein 43 examinees passed out of the total 81 takers. Of this, 46 were first-timers and 35 were repeaters. KSD with ICM
Dr. Chiu and his team’s research intends to impact the management of thyroid cancer in the Philippines due to a high prevalence rate of hypothyroidism among Filipinos compared with other ethnicities.
January 31, 2023 — Dr. Harold Henrison C. Chiu, UP Manila’s first Chemistry Licensure Exam topnotcher and second summa cum laude graduate of its BS Biochemistry program, is now an endocrinologist and chief fellow at the Philippine General Hospital Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, who engages in both medical practice and research.
In his latest work as a researcher, Dr. Chiu (UPCM Class 2016 cum laude) with fellow Biochemistry alumna Dr. Vanessa Joy A. Timoteo-Garcia, received awards for their outstanding scientific research presented at the 10th Seoul International Congress of Endocrinology and Metabolism held recently in conjunction with the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting of Korean Endocrine Society, Gwangju, Republic of Korea. Garcia is a researcher working on big comprehensive data sets as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University and Academia Sinica, Taiwan.
This makes Dr. Chiu and Dr. Timoteo-Garcia the only UP Manila alumni winners among international competitors that made the best ten cut in their categories amidst internationals. Dr. Chiu won the Best Poster Oral Presentation Award for “Increased Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome Among Adult Filipinos with Hypothyroidism: A Prospective Cohort Study” while Dr. Timoteo-Garcia won the Plenary Oral Presentation Award for “Causal Association Between Elevated Iron and Risks of Cardiometabolic Outcomes in Taiwan Han Chinese and UK Whites.”
Dr. Chiu and his team’s research intends to impact the management of thyroid cancer in the Philippines due to a high prevalence rate of hypothyroidism among Filipinos compared with other ethnicities. On the other hand, Dr. Timoteo-Garcia’s study on type 2 diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases aims to help improve public health.
As Chiu recalls, his love for research was ignited by a case during his first-year residency in medicine which involved a patient’s leg amputation and blindness caused hypermucoviscous Klebsiella pneumonia infection. To date, other works of Dr. Chiu focus on diabetes, nutrition, obesity and metabolic syndrome.
When asked about how he developed discipline in his career, he shared his three best practices which include perseverance and persistence, collaboration with others, and lifelong love of learning and acknowledging limitations. Dr. Chiu also advised the younger generation to constantly have grit in whatever field they are pursuing.
In the northernmost island of Luzon lies the community of Babuyan Claro.
It is home to the Ibatans.
In her dissertation, The Stratigraphy of a Community: 150 Years of Language Contact and Change in Babuyan Claro, Philippines,Maria Kristina Gallego, PhD said the Ibatans “… emerged from a century and a half of intense social contact between people from different, but closely related, ethnolinguistic groups: Ivatan and Itbayaten (Batanic) and Ilokano (Cordillera).”
Gallego is an assistant professor of linguistics and chair of the UP Diliman (UPD) Department of Linguistics (DLingg) of the UPD College of Social Sciences and Philosophy.
Northern tip. Babuyan Claro belongs to the Babuyan group of islands at the northernmost islands of the Philippines, under the township of Calayan. It is a small island with a rugged terrain and generally lacks exploitable natural resources.
Gallego said, “Until several decades ago, this region was relatively isolated from the rest of the country given the extreme difficulty in crossing the Babuyan and the Balintang Channels.”
First families. Babuyan Claro traces its beginnings from one family’s attempt to return to their homeland. But they ended up establishing a new home for themselves.
According to Gallego, there was a group composed of five persons from Calayan and Camiguin that were shipwrecked on Babuyan Claro in their attempt to go back to Batanes. These were Alvaro and Maria, both of Batanic ancestry, and their Ilokano friends Fidel, Mauricio, and Marcelino.
“For the next 50 years or so, Babuyan Claro witnessed similar arrivals of small groups of people from Batanic- and Ilokano-speaking groups,” Gallego said.
Language. Ilokano is used as the lingua franca in Babuyan Claro, but the local language of Babuyan Claro is Ibatan and it is used by about 3,000 first- and second-language speakers.
“It belongs, linguistically, to the Batanic sub-group along with the languages of Batanes, Ivatan, and Itbayaten and also Yami or Tao which is spoken in Orchid Island in Taiwan,” Gallego said.
Distinct lines. The present-day Babuyan Claro community is an outcome of the coming together of families from either Batanic or Ilokano-speaking ancestry.
The general preference in keeping ethnolinguistic lines separate during the early years of Babuyan Claro is reflected in how residential settlements have developed on the island.
“While settlements are scattered in the whole island, the greatest density is found on the southern slopes of Chinteb a Wasay (Mount Pangasun), which is a very active volcano. This concentration of settlements forms the basis of the geographic region laod or west and daya or east, where laod refers to the sitios or hamlets of Kadinakan, Idi, Barit, and Kasakay. Whereas daya or east, while technically referring to the sitios east of laod has come to refer to all other sitios outside laod. Despite the short distance of the sitios in laod and daya, there exists an apparent social division between the two regions based primarily on the nature of these residential settlements,” Gallego explained.
Significant clusters of speakers residing in laod consists mostly of mixed Ibatan-Ilokano families. Gallego said they show greater affinity towards using Ilokano as their everyday language, whereas families from daya show greater affinity towards Ibatan.
Rise of Ilokano. “While egalitarian multilingualism resulted in the emergence of the Ibatan language and its co-existence with Ilokano during Babuyan Claro’s initial years, the integration of the community within the wider administrative region of Calayan has led to a shift in the nature of multilingualism on the island,” she explained.
In the 1970s, the center of community activities was in the laod region, the region associated with Ilokano speakers.
“The Roman Catholic church and cemetery were both in the city of Idi and most religious activities were mostly conducted in Ilokano. At that time, the dominant religion in Babuyan Claro was Roman Catholic. The teachers on Babuyan Claro were also Ilokano immigrants and so instruction was done in Ilokano and to a limited extent, Filipino. In the 1980s, the only school on the island did not go further than Grade 3. So, imagine if you want to proceed to higher learning of education, Grade 4, you need to transfer to Calayan, which is about a five-hour boat ride from Babuyan Claro,” Gallego said.
The extreme difficulty in crossing these islands prevented the mobility of the school children. They had to stay for a long time in the municipal center of Calayan. Calayan is also where the Ibatans have reported discrimination because of their ethnolinguistic identity. Ilokano is the main language spoken in Calayan.
All these have severely threatened the vitality of Ibatan.
Revitalization of Ibatan. The empowerment and more vigorous use of Ibatan began in the 1980s with the arrival of Rundell and Judith Maree of the Summer Institute of Linguistics.
Gallego said the island saw the establishment of a Protestant church, a rural health unit, and the first water supply on the island in Kabaroan—the center of Ibatan-speaking families.
“According to Rundell Maree, the choice of Kabaroan as the new village center was intentional. If the Ibatan language was going to survive, we had to give the area in which the Ibatan people lived some greater prominence. In terms of literacy and education, Ibatan books, readers, and even a newspaper boosted reading proficiency,” Gallego said.
In 2004, the local school on Babuyan Claro was expanded to include high school education, and in 2016, they started to offer the additional years of senior high school. Nowadays, the students can now opt to stay in Babuyan Claro for the duration of their basic education. The students now have the option to go to the mainland only when they go to university.
On June 1, 2007, the Ibatan people were officially recognized by the Philippine government as the 111th indigenous cultural community. They were awarded their certificate of ancestral domain title that grants them exclusive rights to Babuyan Claro and Ditohos islands and its surrounding waters.
“All these changes in the ecology of Babuyan Claro have re-shaped and continue to re-shape the linguistic repertoires of the people of the island. Although generations report greater proficiency in Ilocano as their second language for example, but now some younger speakers report greater proficiency and actually preference towards using Filipino as their second language. And they are not too comfortable in using Ilocano anymore,” Gallego said.
Multilingualism. Gallego found that Babuyan Claro’s dynamic social linguistic landscape also has an influence on individual level patterns of multilingualism.
Gallego said the story of Babuyan Claro is a clear example of a fragile socio-linguistic setting, where the kind of egalitarian multilingualism that existed in the past which favored the emergence of Ibatan has changed to a more hierarchical one at present. This led to shifts in the language ecology of the community.
“So while particular sociopolitical changes have resulted in more positive attitudes and greater use of the Ibatan language, its viability in the future is not certain precisely because of the dynamic nature of the community. It is only with long-lasting social change that we can be certain of the Ibatan people’s and language’s continuity in future generations,” she said.
Gallego presented part of her dissertation in Paglulunsad at Paglalayag, a paper presentation and website launch, in November in celebration of DLingg’s centenary.
On 10 December 2022, the conferment of the degree of Associate in Arts to the graduating class of 2022 was done during the 26th Commencement Exercises of the University of the Philippines Open University. The ceremony was held at the UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna. For Mr. Enrico M. Feria, or El as he is more commonly called, this was a celebration of all his achievements, namely, as a UPOU Bridge Program completer, AA graduate and Ugnayan ng Pahinungόd UPOU volunteer.
In July 2020, El joined the Bridge Program of UPOU, where he enrolled in both the Bridge English and Bridge Mathematics courses offered by the Faculty of Education (FEd) and UPOU Ugnayan ng Pahinungόd. Aside from being curious, El decided to join the Bridge Program because he wanted to enhance his knowledge and prepare himself for the Undergraduate Assessment Test (UgAT) of UPOU, which he was scheduled to take as an applicant to the AA program. El’s parents also encouraged him as they knew these courses would prepare him for the reality of submitting assignments on given deadlines in UPOU, since he never had to deal with any deadlines his entire life as a homeschooled student. After completing the Bridge Program, El was fully prepared to enter a new chapter in his life as an AA student.
Inspired by his older sister who took the AA program as a stepping stone to be admitted into UP Diliman, El decided to do the same. When he was admitted as an AA student during the First Trimester of Academic Year 2020-2021, El took it upon himself to initiate communications with his fellow students and hold study group sessions to help one another with their lessons. Eventually, El went on to assume several roles that greatly benefitted the AA program and community. From being elected as the head student officer of the AA community to being appointed as a student assistant (SA) of the UPOU Office of Public Affairs (OPA) and AA program and resource person for events, El has contributed so much of his time, knowledge and skills to his fellow students and other stakeholders of the AA program.
When El took up the National Service Training Program (NSTP) courses Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) 1 and 2, he fully realized his own personal aspiration to be of help to others. These courses not only sparked his interest in volunteering for the Ugnayan ng Pahinungόd but also showed him that even while isolated from one another due to the pandemic, helping others in need must and can go on. El’s CWTS 1 project centered on helping a small group of volunteers in Tarambid, Inc. who were providing educational materials in a mountain area in Antique. Even with the purely online set-up, El and his group were able to help the group with scheduled posts and publicity materials that increased their social media presence. After completing his NSTP-CWTS courses, El knew that he wanted to keep on volunteering to help others. When he remembered that the nature of the Bridge Program is composed of all volunteers, he immediately answered the call to serve as a Bridge English course coordinator for the 2021 offering of the Bridge Program of UPOU. In teaching the participants as a volunteer of the Ugnayan ng Pahinungόd, El made sure to integrate his own learnings from the AA courses into the modules.
Indeed, all of these achievements helped El grow both personally and professionally. Through these experiences, El learned the importance of teamwork, how and when to become a team player or leader, and how to understand people more. Moreover, El found his niche and love for video editing, podcasting and photography through the events of the AA program. With the development of these skills, El was given several work opportunities in various offices of UPOU during his undergraduate years.
At present, El now works a full-time job as a Video Content Creator at PropertyAccess PH. He is also currently waiting for the result of his application for admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Studies (BAMS) program, as he plans to enhance his skills in multimedia studies and graduate with Latin honors.
Looking back on his fulfilling UPOU journey as an AA alumnus, El hopes to inspire his fellow graduates to always keep their hearts and minds open to any opportunity that life will bring:
“The only message that I have for my fellow graduates would be to seize every opportunity you are presented with. Yes, it might be scary, it could be difficult, and it might not be the best experience the first time, but how else would you find out if you are good at it or not? As the wise Master Yoda once said, ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’”
As director of government relations and country legal head at multinational company Procter and Gamble (P&G) Philippines, Mimi Lopez-Malvar often finds herself the only woman in panels or meetings she attends.
“When I came into this role and quickly met others in the same field, there was a perception that this industry was dominated by men who were either cold strategists or well-placed political animals,” she says. “I was neither.”
Her father, a lawyer and a public prosecutor, greatly influenced her career path, while her working mom showed her that she could pursue a career while still raising a family.
“Growing up, I never really thought along gender lines when it came to career planning. I think at one point, for a brief phase, I even wanted to be president of the country,” recounts Malvar in an email interview with the Inquirer. Early on, she got the sense that “what men can do, women can do too.”
The 45-year-old lawyer studied political science and law at the University of the Philippines before working in a law firm for five years. At P&G, she filled in for one of their lawyers who had gone to a study leave. She learned to love the work, the company and the people, so she eventually applied for a regular position at government affairs. What started as a three-month stint has led to 13 years of working at P&G so far.
Malvar shares how she has been underestimated for her gender or personal circumstances. “I once had to attend a public hearing being nine months pregnant and looking about ready to give birth,” she shares. “[I was] being asked constantly by a legislator whether I was okay, instead of being heard for the point I was making. I chose not to get sidetracked by the digression, and to use it instead to build rapport with my inquisitor and get my message across.”
When it comes to gender equality in the workplace, significant strides have been made in the Philippines, with 48 percent of senior management roles held by women in 2021, based on Grant Thornton International’s 2022 Women in Business report.
Helping P&G step up its campaign for equality and inclusion is Malvar, who leads programs that benefit the environment, strengthen small businesses, promote children’s health and hygiene, and empower women.
“Promoting equality and inclusion in the workplace fosters a culture of respect and of inclusion that truly strengthens an organization,” says Malvar. “It allows the company to leverage on the power of difference, unique insights and perspectives, which directly contributes to growing, innovating and building the business. Giving everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, equal access and opportunity to learn, grow and thrive makes for an engaged, productive and strong organization.”
Malvar says that in order to achieve this, long-term systemic interventions must be put in place to ensure that women are paid equally for equal work and given equal opportunities for advancement at all levels, most especially at senior levels.
“In the past, we saw that gender balance skewed toward less women at the more senior levels. P&G strives for equal representation across all levels of management, so we put more intention into understanding the insights behind this. We put in the right support systems so females receive advancement opportunities at the same progression as men. Currently, we are at a healthy 53 to 47-percent female-to-male ratio across the organization, even at senior levels,” she says.
There was even a point in her career that all of the positions above hers were held by women, which she found really inspiring. “This showed me that there is a clear path to the top and it was available for everyone who worked hard enough—no matter your gender,” she says.
Having a boss or a mentor who is a fellow woman also helped her be better understood when it comes to her personal circumstances, struggles or limitations. But while her current boss is now a male, she says she still feels understood and enabled because equality and inclusion are already ingrained in P&G’s culture.
“P&G is truly a gender inclusive workplace, and I don’t think I would have advanced in my career and at the same time been able to raise four children while juggling work if not for the programs and policies that we have in place,” she says.
One of the reasons she joined P&G was to have better work-life balance while still being able to do a “challenging role.” P&G had adopted the 105-day maternity leave benefit well ahead of the enactment of the law, which allowed Malvar to spend more time taking care of her youngest son. The company also provides a breastfeeding room, which helped her nurse her children until they were 2 years old.
“As a breastfeeding mom, I have also had to endure expressing milk in the unlikeliest of places—the most memorable of which was in a van on a dumpsite with mountains of garbage around me—because I had to be there on a learning mission for CSR (corporate social responsibility) work. I try to take these challenges in stride, learn from and be better [from] them,” Malvar shares.
P&G also embraces a relatively flexible working schedule. Even before the pandemic, P&G already had a hybrid work setup, with employees allowed to work from home once a week. This increased to two times a week after the pandemic.
“I love work-from-home days and being able to have meals with my children and unplug from meetings with some quality cuddle time and/or being able to help them with projects or homework,” she says.
As women have to take on various responsibilities at home while also doing challenging roles at work, this leaves many women frustrated if they are unable to manage all of their tasks.
“I see a lot of women struggling with self- or community-imposed pressures: the pressure of being the perfect mom with the perfect kids who are all behaved and do well in school while, at the same time, having the perfect career, never making mistakes and impressing all of their colleagues at work,” she says.
“I think we should always challenge our notion of what it means to be a good wife or partner, a good mom and a good boss/worker. Hopefully, this will allow us to release unrealistic expectations of what we should be doing.” INQ
It was a memorable reunion—30 years in the making—when pioneer students from the UP Visayas-Miagao campus gathered for an intimate Christmas get-together at the Bonifacio Global City recently, three decades after graduating from college and leaving the august halls of their Alma Mater. Attendees were those whose student numbers start from 86 to 90. The group did not only look back at the fun times, but they also looked forward and discussed programs and activities that can support UP Visayas.
Joining the get-together was UP Vice President for Administration Nestor G. Yunque, who also used to be a UP Visayas professor. Attendees included former Passi City Mayor and now Undersecretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform Jesry Palmares, General Manager of the Philippine Reclamation Authority Atty. Janilo Rubiato, Petron Corporation Manager Marbelson Jiz, and Cosette Vargas Canilao, President and CEO of Aboitiz InfraCapital.
The professionals and industry experts of public and private companies who reunited that eventful night included Inquirer.net Senior Correspondent and PR maven Jeans Cequina, PNOC Renewables Corporation Director Malou Andrada, Aivan Amit of World Vision, Joseph Macarilay Gen. Manager of CPK Foods Corp Philippines, Kathleen Paragas, Diplomat Russel Grace Ocampo, Mavi Xavier, Gerald Maneja, Agnes Engada, and Mark Anthony Abisamis.
Also joining the revelry were professionals from the academe, and both public sectors including Dean Acel German, Lutze Aplaon, Julieta Buendia Hubo, Lynly Tanco, Gerald Maneja, Juliet Celis-Villa, Rebecca Nieto-Litan, and UP Visayas’ Anna Razel Ramirez.
Several activities and programs to support UP Visayas have been planned for the coming year as the group agreed to meet again soon to finalize these projects. Truly, it was a night like no other.