Within the Expressionist landscape, emotions unfurl in a vibrant symphony of colors, brushwork, and texture. Vibrant hues, bold and unapologetic, embody the spectrum of human sentiment. From the fiery reds of passion to the melancholic blues of longing, each stroke is a whispered confession, each texture a testament to the intricacies of our shared humanity. It is in this realm where the expressionistic fervor of Rafaelle Louise’s literary prowess intertwines with her vivid imagination. The canvas becomes a stage, upon which the luminescent performers–the seemingly teardrop-shaped flames, ignite a captivating drama of existence.
In her newest iteration, Rafaelle Louise’s “Empire of Light” explores the profound interplay between colors, textures, and Zen iconographies by employing nuanced compositions and narratives–tapping the fragile nature of the human psyche. Through a tapestry of poetic imagery and visceral intent, Louise masterfully captures the enigmatic essence of flickering candles latticed across and over the canvas, inviting viewers into a realm of momentary introspection and vulnerability.
“I was interested in depicting a simple yet poetic representation of light: as a natural beacon of hope whether during the night or day, in sleep or in every waking moment, literally and figuratively, the light has always been there. This show is an invitation to look deeper for the light and uphold it for others to see.”
“Empire of Light” embodies the spirit of Rafaelle Louise’s artistic ethos—a profound exploration of the human condition, encapsulated in a canvas that intends to transcend its message beyond the physical realm. It’s in its quiet pleas that beckon us to embrace the impermanence of existence, to find solace in the interplay of light and dark, to awaken the dormant embers within ourselves. It is an invitation to participate in the symphony of life, to let the artistry of the flames’ glow kindles the fires of our own expression, embracing the profound beauty that lies within the depths of our souls.
Rafaelle Louise’s works for this show are a testament to the artist’s emotional journey–capturing the ebb and flow of existence, creating a visual symphony that resonates with the viewer’s emotional landscape. And as she lays bare the depths of human connection, so too do these artworks unveil the unspoken truths of the human condition. They challenge the viewer to confront the complexities of their own existence, to let the layers of artifice fall away, and bask in the transformative power of authentic expression, bright and delicate enough for everyone to feel its warmth.
Rafaelle Louise (b.1990) studied Visual Communication at the College of Fine Arts in the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Rafaelle describes her oeuvre as “modern interplay between action painting and minimalism, where the end product stands somewhere between painting and sculpture”.
“Empire of Light” by Rafaelle Louise will be on view at Galerie Raphael U.P. Town Center from May 10 to 24, 2023. Galerie Raphael U.P. Town Center is located at the 2/F Phase 2, U.P. Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Diliman, Quezon City.
A FILIPINO pediatrician who has been championing the Filipino child’s right to protection by creating safe spaces for abused children nationwide, and the lone 2022 Ramon Magsaysay awardee from the Philippines, was the guest and keynote speaker at the Filipina CEO Circle (FCC) general membership meeting on May 11, 2023 held at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Malate, Manila.
FCC co-founder Marife Zamora introduced host Cathy Yang, who in turn introduced pediatrician Bernadette Madrid. The doctor spoke on her advocacy that earned her Asia’s equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize.
Now on its 65th year, Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation’s citation of Madrid reads in part: “Born to a family of professionals in Iloilo, Philippines, she studied medicine and pediatrics at the University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila) and did a post-residency fellowship in ambulatory pediatrics at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. The center’s Child Abuse Program opened her eyes to a problem that she and fellow Filipino doctors did not quite discern, though this was very much a part of daily reality in her home country, with its conditions of poverty, child labor, trafficking, and violence.
(From left) US Embassy Deputy Economic Counselor Alaina Magnotta, USAid Agreement Officer’s Representative Consuelo Lacson-Anonuevo, Valerie Pama, Susan Afan, The Manila Times President and COO Blanca Mercado, Kat Luna-Abelarde, Bernadette Madrid, Cathy Yang, Karen de Venecia, Margie Moran-Floirendo, Marife Zamora, Esther Santos and Ginia Domingo.
“Upon her return to the Philippines, she tried to establish a Child Abuse Program in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila, the country’s premier public hospital, but the program was short-lived for lack of support. Madrid returned to Iloilo, started a private practice, and seemed headed for a quiet, provincial career until she was called back to Manila in 1996 to head an emergency unit for abused children in PGH, at the insistence of UP Manila and American child protection crusader David Bradley and the Advisory Board Foundation (now CityBridge Foundation). In 1997, Madrid assumed office as head of the PGH Child Protection Unit (PGH-CPU), the first such facility in the country. She would in the next 25 years pursue an active, multifaceted career that would put her at the helm of what has been praised as ‘the best medical system for abused children in Southeast Asia.’
“A one-stop health facility, PGH-CPU provides a coordinated program of medical, legal, social, and mental health services for abused children and their families. As of 2021, it has served 27,639 children. It became the axis of a national network of child protection units when the Child Protection Network Foundation Inc. (CPN), a partnership of civil society, academe, and government, was established in 2002. As CPN executive director, Madrid has designed programs and engaged with family courts, schools, hospitals, local government units, community organizations, and policymakers in advancing the cause of child protection.
“The board of trustees recognizes her unassuming and steadfast commitment to a noble and demanding advocacy; her leadership in running a multisectoral, multidisciplinary effort in child protection that is admired in Asia; and her competence and compassion in devoting herself to seeing that every abused child lives in a healing, safe, and nurturing society.”
Madrid said she was overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award, so honored to have her work recognized by Asia’s most prestigious award.
“I was asking, ‘Why me?’ I found more reasons as to why I am undeserving of this award. It is like the violin player receiving recognition on behalf of the whole orchestra. I am just one violin player. I am just a representation of the organizations in this crusade,” she said in her speech and interview at the FCC event.
She went on to say that in the last 25 years, she learned that there are no quick fixes, “that we cannot do this alone, that we need the system to work and that we need ordinary people to do their job with purpose, compassion, and skill. Unfortunately, I also found out that ending violence against children will not happen on its own. We need to fight for it. It needs planning, commitment, resources, persistence, and leadership. With it comes accountability.”
There is no other cause where everyone in the country has a responsibility – starting with parents, schools, and communities. Universal parenting programs, safe schools, access to justice seem like common sense but they are not, she said.
“The Ramon Magsaysay Award has made me realize how much people care and that I am not alone. I am humbled and appreciative [of this recognition],” she said.
Yang also moderated the question-and-answer portion.
Philippine Ballet Theater (PBT) performed excerpts from the Bicolano epic “Ibalon (The Love of Handyong and Oryol),” which opens the 37th season of the dance the company at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Makati City in July – with shows on July 28 and 29 at 8 p.m.
Sponsored by Diamond Hotel Philippines, PLDT Smart, Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation and PBT, the event was also graced by Miss Universe 1973 and Cultural Center of the Philippines President Margie Moran.
A few fortnights ago, Brig. General Gregorio Catapang Jr. hogged the limelight when he was named Director General of the Bureau of Corrections.
Prior to its new head’s assumption to office, this government agency, crucial to the success of the justice system in our country, had been the subject of controversial talk and writing that allude to mismanagement, graft and corruption, dangerous drugs trade, among other organizational ills and flaws in the institution’ leadership.
That Catapang’s appointment had been met with praise and great expectations merely affirms his sterling record as a bemedaled military officer. Among his 28 awards and badges are the Philippine Legion of Honor with the Degree of Chief Commander and Officer, Distinguished Service Star and the Distinguished Conduct Star.
His story as a public servant is worth telling, as it shows the rise of a man who, at an early age, had seen turmoil and chaos in his own country, all these in a political regime headed by an astute and brilliant man, Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., whom the young Catapang admired. This same young man would choose to pursue a career in the military and distinguish himself as a principled commander.
Catapang’s recent guesting in a Daily Tribune online show allowed us a face-to-face encounter with the gentleman and officer who, by his appointment to the top post at the Bureau of Correction, replacing a controversial and crime-implicated head, had become the man of the hour.
Adding to the buzz is the gentleman’s interesting family name, Catapang, which roughly translates to “How Brave” in English. Thus has it been surmised, even if spoken with one’s tongue in cheek, that here is one public servant who will boldly and fiercely face a challenge, no matter how daunting.
Undoubtedly, It is this family name connoting valor and bravery that precedes the reputation of retired general Gregorio Pio Punzalan Catapang Jr., who also served as the 45th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
But if the gentleman officer is fearless, he is, at the same time, judicious and cautious.
Need for reform
When Catapang was appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to his current post, he saw that he was in for a big challenge.
“I pondered about many questions because I saw a lot of paradoxes in the way the agency was being run. For starters, why are they called ‘persons deprived of liberty’ when many of them are enjoying their life in prison? On the other hand, instead of being prepared for a new life after they have served their sentence, these people end up dying, their bodies left to disintegrate inside the morgue. So, I had some 140 cadavers buried,” he recounted.
“There is a need for these inmates to be reformed. We should make sure they don’t get involved in crimes. They should not end up being drug addicts. Drugs were rampant. That was how I was brought there. I was really determined to help the Secretary of Justice, my fraternity brother, Boying Remulla.”
A commander through and through
Of course, he had always believed in the incumbent president. “From the time he was running for Vice President, he was always for unity, and that was very impressive to me. He has always wanted to unite the country. It is, to me, the best battlecry a leader could have, especially at a time when the superpowers are fighting over us. If we don’t have unity, they’ll divide and rule.”
Catapang brings to the BuCor his exceptional record as a leader. He affirmed, “I am a meticulous commander through and through. I have never occupied a deputy position. I have always been the boss. Right from the start as platoon leader to company commander and battalion commander. Never a deputy. I have since decided my personal management style is to be meticulous. I always have meetings with my men.”
Of his many assignments, he remembered his Northern Luzon stint as challenging.
“I was the NOLCOM Commander. I was based in Tarlac, which was north of Metro Manila. As Northern Luzon Commander, one was in charge of the Army, Air Force, and Navy assigned to the area. That included Fuga Island in the northernmost part of the country. And Batanes, too. It was like going home because when I was still a lieutenant, I was assigned in Central Luzon. It was a most challenging time because the National People’s Army was at the height of its insurgency activities. People were dying, including servicemen, American retirees and the police. Even those who were manning the traffic were being gunned down by dissidents. It was the time of the Sparrow Unit. We had encounters with the NPA everyday.”
Protected by his guardian angel
That he has survived through the years, claiming he had had to face death nine times, he attributes to his guardian angel. “I almost died as a kid. I loved to move around and so, after I received the Holy Communion one Sunday, I fell off our staircase. Our house was being built then. I would run up and down and around, and once, I accidentally jumped from the roof and would have hit the ground but my shirt hit upon a branch of the tree and I got stuck in mid-air, giving the witnesses a chance to catch me as I eventually fell down.
“My mother said, ‘Your guardian angel took care of you because you had just received your first communion so you better behave. I could count the number of times I could have died or been killed. It was nine times.”
Catapang claimed, “It was really my destiny to be a military man.”
He said, “My parents were dedicated and honest government employees. My father, Gregorio Senior, was a lawyer with the Securities and Exchange Commission. My mother, Lourdes, was an accountant with the Department of Finance.
“I grew up in a simple home in Quezon City. My parents’ priority was the education of their children and they worked hard to send me to Claret School which had a reputation for giving its students a strong grounding in academics, thus producing graduates who mostly went to college at the University of the Philippines.”
While theirs was not a hand-to-mouth existence, the family scrimped on their resources. “As enrolment neared, my parents would borrow money using their only piece of property as collateral. They would pay for its amortization in the next 12 months and, when it was fully paid, the next enrolment had come,” he recalled.
Named after heroes
His baptismal name predicted his future. “I was named after Gregorio del Pilar. And also Pio del Pilar. My younger brother was named Jose Protacio.
“You should be careful when you name your children because their name leads them to the lives they will live,” he half-jested.
Evident from his youth was his interest in academics. “I was a homebody and did not maintain a set of friends or barkada. To cope with the demands of the stringent academic requirements, I spent most of my time reading and studying.”
An early idol “from my youth was President Ferdinand Ferdinand E. Marcos. I always followed his career. He was a genius. The country was under martial rule and everything revolved around him. He changed the political landscape. Marcos was a great leader and wanted his name etched in the annals history. The many projects that have been implemented later were conceptualized during his time like the C5 Road.
“I think there was only one problem about his leadership. He did not provide for a smooth leadership turnover. Of the 12 laws of leadership that he followed, he failed in only one, which was to train a successor. What happened was a power struggle ensued as the leaders under him expected him to be gone.”
Growing up in Project 6, Catapang witnessed “a tumultuous phase in our country’s history when rallies would reach as far as our community in Project 6. It was the time of the Diliman commune and people were running.”
Catapang’s journey as a leader began in high school when he represented Claret School in the national convention of the Children’s Museum and Library, Inc. He was elected at the top of the board of directors by the 1,000-plus delegates. “I followed my adviser’s instruction that I stand firm and tall,” he shared. It was the stance of a confident young man and that attracted the attention of fellow delegates. When it came time for the elected board to elect the officers, he got one that was at the bottom of the rung, which was auditor.
From PMA to UP
Since he was aware of his parents’ financial standing, Catapang aimed for UP and the Philippine Military Academy, knowing that the students in both schools were state scholars.
After his high school graduation in 1977, “the PMA results came out first, and so I took the first bus that went up to Baguio and presented myself. I knew I could not be late because I might be classified as ‘AWOL’ and my slot would be given to those in the waiting list. I did not wait anymore for the UP exam results.”
He was already a first lieutenant when he participated in the faculty recruitment program of the PMA. One was allowed to go on study leave for two years, after which he would be given a faculty position in the academy. He originally applied for a study leave to pursue law at UP. Instead, he was given a scholarship grant to pursue Master of Arts in Political Science.
UP would give him a progressive outlook. “I was recruited to the Upsilon fraternity. My initiation was quite challenging. Later I found out that they suspected me to be a military infiltrator and when my brods who would be conducting the initiation sought the advice of the fraternity’s elders, they were told to make the initiation doubly hard for me just to make sure I was not there just to spy.”
Later, while still at the University of the Philippines, he would join the Reform the Armed Forces of the Philippines Movement. It was Catapang who gave their group the name RAM. He points out that there were three kinds of RAM, He was part of the reformist group which began in 1983. They were the junior officers that included Vic Batac, Flores and Gringo Honasan.
The following years would see his continuous promotion, aided by his zeal for the service and loyalty to his country.
When he became the Chief of Staff, Catapang exhorted the troops “to strictly adhere to the AFP’s slogan of “Kawal DISIPLINADO, bawal ABUSADO, dapat ASINTADO.” Roughly translated, he demanded of his men discipline and keenness not only with their mark but in their duty, while condemning military abuse of their authority.
These three key words, according to him, “should be followed by every AFP personnel for them to become proficient in fire and maneuver and be able to avoid collateral damage; be respectful of human rights, adhere to international humanitarian law and rule of law, as well as the rules of engagement of the IPSP Bayanihan.”
Early on in his career, his prayer to “marry my first girlfriend,” was granted by the Almighty. Catapang would sire children and name them according to the family tradition of choosing lofty nationalistic terms, namely: Rally (“rally”), born in 1984; Rev (“revolution”), born in 1986 when the People Power Revolution took place; Coup’dy (“coup d’état”), born in 1987, at the height of coup attempts against President Cory Aquino; Ysa (pagkakaisa, Tagalog for “unity”), born in 1993 when the president was Fidel V. Ramos whom Catapang admired “for uniting the Armed Forces.”; and Best General, the superlative in allusion to giving his best in his various positions all the way to being Chief of Staff.
The following are excerpts from the Daily Tribune Interview with the author:
Daily Tribune (DT): Your leadership has always been recognized for your success in civil relations. How did this come about?
Gregorio Catapang Jr (GCJ): I learned this from UP. According to the Art of War by Sun Tzu, the greatest strategy was to win over your enemy without firing a single shot. I have read Sun Tzu several times, and I read that the only way to win over one’s enemy is to build alliances. If we were all friends, we would have only one single enemy. And the enemy would be overwhelmed by the fact that we are all friends and allies.
DT: How do you brush up on your leadership skills?
GCJ: From my younger days, I always loved to read. I had the advantage of taking my graduate studies at the University of the Philippines. We had the biggest library and so I learned everything I could. I learned about such matters as the coup de etat. I would stay in the library the whole day when I did not have classes.
DT: What is your stand on compulsory military training?
GCJ: I advocate compulsory military training because we need it. We are in the middle of a superpower rivalry. Anytime there can be war. Any of the superpowers could declare it. And if they miscalculate each other, there will be war. Miscalculation can lead to war.
DT: What’s in your bucket list?
GCJ: Hopefully to finish my reform agenda in BuCor. And then, I hope I can catch up with my readings in Non-Fiction. Especially about understanding what’s happening around the world.
DT: What are your favorite books?
GCJ: Books about world’s statesmen like Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton. Especially leaders who write their own autobiographies. I like inspirational books. And books that contain advice on leadership like those written by management guru Johyn Maxwell. I love his 48 Laws of Leadership.
DT: What else do you want to achieve?
GCJ: I want to finish my mission at BuCor. It’s what’s keeping keeping me busy.
DT: What’s your prayer for this country?
GCJ: A: My prayer is for unity. If your country is not united, you will be destroyed. You will be destroyed from the outside.
DT: What do you want to do after you retire?
GCJ: Go back to farming. It’s really part of me because when I was the Chief of Staff, I would often say that in the 21st century, all the wars we’ll be facing will be global. Global climate change, global transnational crime, global territorial claims, transnational crime, drug smuggling, human trafficking, cybercrime, all these did not come from us. Going back to farming is basic. It is being in touch with your roots and realizing the gift of home and of being Filipino. The best form of gratitude is to go back to your roots and the land that has nourished you and your loved ones.
Zara Rivera earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) andcompleted her Education course from the University of the Philippines (UP) Open University Faculty of Education. Zara is also a Google Certified Educator.
Zara has been playing concert percussion professionally since 2012. She was a member of the Manila Symphony Orchestra and a program musician for the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) and the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra.
She is an officer of the Percussive Arts Society of the Philippines, which was awarded as PAS outstanding Chapter in 2021.
Currently, Zara is a Music teacher at the Everest International Academy. She provides percussion/drum lessons to several students from the International School Manila and British School Manila.
We had a short chat with Zara online, and here is that conversation.
What motivates you in your career?
Love of learning, with others, through others. I always get excited when new opportunities come, whether it’s teaching a class or individual lesson. Preparing for an audition, studying parts and learning/relearning percussion instruments for an upcoming performance. It is a continuous adventure that gives me inspiration and enables me to discover new challenges which cultivates both my personal and professional growth.
What is the most important thing a musician should practice in order to be a successful member of an orchestra?
A sense of professionalism. Every orchestra has its ups and downs, and a true professional musician focuses his or her energy in a positive way. When a player sees that something is not working well, he or she needs to take action and seek solutions. Punctuality and preparedness are key in building professional relationships and making a great impression. Being able to cooperate and collaborate with any of the members of the orchestra is one of the expected behaviors. Ultimately, a musician should be depended on to do what they are committed to do.
What are you most thankful for?
I am beyond grateful for the support and encouragement from family, friends, and colleagues. Most importantly, I am fortunate to be able to perform two different roles as an educator and percussionist which enables me to share my knowledge and skills and connect with others through music.
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.