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

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happiness in Batanes

Meet Nanay Trinidad and her son – Ivatans from the town of Mahatao in Batanes.

It may be hard to believe but Nanay Trinidad and her family just lost their five cattle worth 150 thousand pesos because of the prolonged dry spell that hit Northern Luzon. Not to mention the additional losses from their rice and rootcrop farming also because of the drought.

Yet she and her family can still smile in front of our cameras. Talk about happiness in Batanes. Perhaps we should credit the Ivatans for helping put the Philippines in the middle of the “happiness index” at number 84 out of 177 countries surveyed by the World Database on Happiness.

But the crisis in Batanes is not something to be taken lightly.

According to Batanes Gov. Telesforo Castillejos, the drought caused an estimated 100-million peso damage to agriculture in his province – 40 million for crops and 60 million for their livestock.

Worse, the governor says they only have around 6 million pesos as calamity fund and obviously, this is not enough to save the province from further damage.

He says they will be needing additional funds from the national government but ultimately, only rains can save them from the drought.

Continuous rains is important for Ivatans who practice upland farming since the province is mostly hilly and mountainous. It may be too late for their rice farming, but the planting season for onions and and garlic is just about to start next month.

Rainfall can also save their surviving cows, goats and carabaos that are actually getting dehydrated because of the drought. If the rain gods won’t listen, more families like Nanay Trinidad will have no recourse but to bury their dead livestock.

But then again, Nanay Trinidad and the rest of the Ivatans of Batanes remain optimistic. Just like any fierce typhoon, they are thinking, this drought too, shall pass.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bigas or Palay?

As Filipinos, we should be very familiar with the different variations of “rice” – our staple diet. For Americans, it’s just “rice.” But it’s not as simple as that for us Filipinos who obviously can’t live without rice, even for those who are already residing in America or elsewhere in the world.

It took me a trip to a ricefield in the village of Mapanike in Candaba, Pampanga to recall these Filipino words for “rice”:

Bigas – raw, milled rice

Palay – raw, unmilled rice

Kanin – boiled rice

Malagkit – sticky rice

Tutong – boiled and burnt rice

Bahaw – left-over rice

Kaning-lamig – “cold” rice or rice stored in ref

Note the first two ones: “bigas” and “palay”. Yeah, I know that there is a difference between the two, one is milled and the other is unmilled. But for some reason, it slipped my mind when I was doing a standupper (that shot showing a reporter talking or demonstrating something in front of the camera) in Mapanike.

I was in the middle of the ricefield and in front of a group of farmers in the village when I said this out loud:

“Dahil sa pagpasok ng lupa, buhangin, at tubig-ulan, sa halip na dalawang-daang kaban ng BIGAS ay limampu na lang ang aanihin sa palayang ito.”

Naturally, after my standupper, someone from the crowd caught my attention and said that it should have been “palay” and not “bigas”. Only then did I realize na mali nga pala yung sinabi ko. This man is a farmer and obviously, he knows better than me when it comes to rice farming.

Pahiya tuloy ako hehehe. Oo nga naman, they harvest "palay" and not "bigas." Of course, I did a take two and said the right thing.

This mistake immediately brought to my mind something I think I came across in my English 100 class – that language is culture-bound. Since we are a rice-consuming country, naturally we have a thousand and one words for rice. Parallel to that, in Alaska, we should not be surprised that Eskimos have a thousand and one words too for “ice”. Of course, for us, it’s just “yelo”.

Right now, I’m also thinking, which country has the most number of variant words for “love”? Maybe they’re the most romantic people on earth hehehe.

Anyway, language is really tricky, especially for us journalists who are somehow, and sometimes, considered as the authority when it comes to pronunciation. So we better be careful on how we use and pronounce words.

Recently, there was a debate in our newsroom on how to correctly pronounce the word “tinataya”, meaning “estimated”. As in “Tinatayang dalawampung milyong piso ang napinsala ng bagyong Dodong sa buong bansa.”

Is it “ti-na-TA-ya” or “ti-na-ta-YA”? For a time, almost everyone was using “ti-na-TA-ya” because it’s what’s written in our pronunciation alert (our newsroom’s list of words and their correct pronunciation.) I was told reporters from the other station are also using “ti-na-TA-ya”.

I really thought it is, and it should be, “ti-na-ta-YA”. So to avoid joining the bandwagon, I just used “humigit-kumulang” or “more or less.” But “humigit-kumulang” is longer and more complicated than “tinataya” and in TV news, the simpler the better.

Fortunately, an opportunity to ask the experts came when I was in UP Diliman and did a story on the proposal to use Filipino as the primary medium of instruction in schools. As expected, no less than National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario and Filipino Prof. Jovy Peregrino simply told me it really is, and it really should be, “ti-na-ta-YA”.

So now, "tinataYA kong alam na ninyo ang pagkakaiba ng palay sa bigas."

Friday, August 03, 2007

B for Burning Fossil Fuels

My Lakbayan grade is B!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out atLakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

While looking at the map above generated by my travels within the country, I could only imagine the amount of fossil fuels I’ve burned. Baka magalit tuloy ang mga kaibigan natin sa Greenpeace! Hehe.

But having said that, for me there are still more destinations to explore, more people to meet, and more photos to take. And hopefully I’d be able to see these places not as a reporter in the middle of a disaster, but simply as a tourist who just wants to enjoy and relax.

I just came from Baguio with friends Jove and RG. Didn’t have enough time to go around the city or we were just too lazy to go out. So we just ate a lot hehe. But too bad for Jove, nakasama ata sa kanya yung crispy pata at kare-kare. Though we ate heathy food din naman like this stuffed tofu of Café by the Ruins.

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And since bitin yung Baguio trip, I’m thinking sana mapuntahan ko na tong mga lugar na to na matagal ko nang iniisip puntahan:

Siquijor – Most people think Siquijor is just the land of aswangs and a province which you should never visit especially during holy week. But with the picturesque beaches of Siquijor that I’ve seen so far, I think the province deserves a second chance. I’ve already told my boss I’d want to feature this province next holy week.

Batanes – I almost got there last year for The Correspondents but due to unavoidable circumstances, the story went to another reporter. Masarap sigurong langhapin ang hangin dun at saka tahimik, walang ingay ng newsroom.

Turtle Islands - It must be a lonely place for soldiers patrolling the area but definitely a paradise for beach-lovers (at least for a week only). Me mga turtles pa kaya dun?

Cebu – I’ve already had two missed opportunities to go to Cebu, but I know I’m going there soon. Maybe I should try Lechon Cebu there (kahit natikman ko na at mejo maalat siya hehe).

Of course, I’d want to go to other countries as well. The two occasions when I had the chance of going abroad were presidential trips at kahit me mga sidetrips din naman, iba pa rin yung bakasyong bakasyon lang talaga, lalo na sa mga lugar na to:

Bangkok - With pals Jove and RG, though I still have to have my passport renewed. Teka, tuloy ba kami? Parang Maynila lang naman ang Bangkok e. Hehe.

Hongkong – I’m still thinking if I should go with my parents as a chaperone or kaya naman siguro nilang silang dalawa lang.

North Korea – Yes, Pyongyang and Nokor’s countryside. I just want to personally see the reasons why it is called the hermit kingdom.

Nepal - Just the thought of staying in Kathmandu excites me, daming pictures na pwedeng kunan dun like yung mga kalbong monks. Speaking of which, eto na itsura ko ngayon after having my head shaved because of what happened in Basilan.

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Joke! Of course, I’m not bald. The pic was taken when I was still with IBC 13. Baka mawalan ng trabaho sa dos pag nagpa-kalbo e hehe. In the meantime, san kaya ako next na maa-assign after hibernating for one week inside our house?

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