This is not really about me, but about the people I meet, the places I visit and the stories I want to share.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wow Bulusan

At first glance, you would think this place is a privately owned one – clean blue waters, powdery white sand and all. But Dangkalan Beach Resort in the town of Bulusan in Sorsogon is managed by the local government. Hard to believe, but the entrance fee is at ten pesos each and a cottage is only worth a hundred bucks. For a very minimal fee, you’ll get the feel of a secluded, pristine beach resort.

The beach is not much of a discovery. It’s already popular among foreign tourists as it is included in the Wow Phiippines program of the Department of Tourism. But according to Bulusan Mayor Juan Guysayco, not too many Filipinos are aware that this resort is just hiding in the southernmost part of mainland Bicol region.

The town sits at the foot of Mt. Bulusan, an active volcano which recently spewed ashes after a minor explosion last March 21. Luckily, winds were blowing to the west during the eruption and the town of Bulusan is on the eastern side of the volcano.

But then, it seemed that tourists got scared despite the fact that only the area four kilometers from the center of the volcano has been declared off-limits. This also added to the negative impact of the mercury scare in Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay which is several kilometers from the beach.

I was lucky my news team and I had the chance to “discover” Dangkalan Beach after our coverage of the minor eruption of Mt. Bulusan. At least, it was a good way to start this year’s summer season hehehe.

Now how to get there? You may take a bus from one of those bus companies along Edsa in Pasay City, but be ready to spend some 14 hours on the road. Or if you have enough money to spare, take a plane to Legazpi City in Albay and rent a van for a two-hour road trip to Sorsogon - though this defeats the purpose of experiencing a “cheap” vacation in an “expensive” resort.

But if the beach doesn’t satisfy you enough, there’s Bulusan Lake also in Bulusan town and countless hot springs in different municipalities around the volcano. And if you want the best vista of Mt. Bulusan, you can have it in the town of Irosin where there are also several resorts you can choose from.

You can also visit the observatory of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in Sorsogon City and learn a few interesting things about the volcano. One thing I found out, Irosin town is encircled by mountain ridges because actually, the village was one of the ancient craters of the volcano.

So if you haven’t decided on where to reflect this Holy Week, Mt. Bulusan and the towns around it may be a good choice this year. You can have some quiet moments and savor the beauty of nature at the same time. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Who's Next?

It was supposed to be a quiet, third “Black Friday Protest” of the group of former DSWD secretary Dinky Soliman at Baywalk. Just a stroll along the park, do a “thumbs down sign” protest, and that’s it for the Black and White Movement.

Unfortunately for Soliman and Black and White Movement Lead Convenor Enteng Romano, they both ended up in a police car only to be brought and detained for almost six hours at the Manila Police Department Headquarters along UN Avenue.

The past two protests of the group at Starbucks in Makati and at the MRT Ortigas station were relatively quiet. The police just allowed them to their thumbs down sign. In fifteen minutes or so, it was all over. It was just their way of showing their disgust over the Arroyo administration. They did not force passersby to join their cause. They just wanted to be heard.

Had Police Superintendent Marcelino Pedrozo allowed Dinky and some other thirty Black and White Movement members, things wouldn’t have turned for the worse. But even before the group went out of Aristocrat restaurant where they all met up, Pedrozo said they wouldn’t allow the group to cross Roxas Boulevard.

The police and the justice department say gatherings such Black and White Movement’s must have the necessary permits. But Soliman insists it wasn’t a rally since they didn’t have any banners or placards with them. But the police claim the black shirts they were wearing with the words “Patalsikin na. Now na” were already as good as banners.

Well, in the end, Soliman and Romano who were charged with violation of BP 880 or the Public Assembly Act, were allowed to go home “under the custody of former President Corazon Aquino.”

But then, after Dinky and Enteng, who’s next? Other members of Black and White Movement? I’m pretty sure there will be a fourth Black Friday Protest.

Or maybe even from other groups as well. The media? Some colleagues I’ve talked with are more than willing to join the Black and White Movement. Abangan… Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 06, 2006

Diliman Commune

The UP Diliman community has once again condemened the recent acts of President Arroyo with her declaration of Presidential Proclamation 1017. Students and professors walked out of their classes at Palma Hall in protest of PP 1017. Other colleges and even non-teaching personnel from the All UP-Workers Union also joined in.

But the President’s withdrawal of the procalamation today, the UP Diliman community is not expected to stop from pushing for Arroyo’s resignation or ouster. Former UP President Francisco Nemenzo of Laban ng Masa said if they were able to do a Diliman Commune back then in the 70’s, they can very well do it again these days.

When I was in UP, I never joined a single rally. I thought they were all just for show and students would just like to shout “iskolar ng bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban” and see how it feels to be a “militante.” I remember though there was one time when I seriously thought of joining one rally - I think it was an anti-Erap Sona rally. But at the last minute, I changed my mind and just went home since classes were suspended anyway.

And now, the sad thing is that as a reporter, of course, I’m not expected to join rallies and be seen on TV throwing a clenched fist in the air, even if I wanted to. Oh well, we’re expected to be fair and all.

But seeing the students in UP and my former professors as well, the recent warrantless arrests of opposition leaders, and army soldiers camped near ABS-CBN, maybe there’s enough reason now why the President should step down.

For the longest time, my activist housemate would call me apathetic. And yes for the longest time, I believed in GMA. But now that she’s threatening the media, the institution where I belong to, I think it’s now high time to do something. Well, I expect some would say that my going against the President is for selfish reasons.

But then, being objective about it, I’m thinking, is there a better alternative if and when the President resigns or is forcefully ousted from office? Posted by Picasa

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