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Adiós! Hasta luego!

24 May

This is not the last blog post, it’s just the beginning…

Kay has her ROUTE PROJECTS:

ROUTE PROJECTS

Nats is a columnist at THE FILIPINO EXPAT and has also started a new blog named My not so mundane Mediterranean Life:

The Filipino Expat

 

MY NOT SO MUNDANTE MEDITERRANEAN LIFE

Neil still keeps his BOX of Recollections blog:

box of recollections

And Dan compiles his ABS-CBN online articles on his new blog My Spanish Chronicle:

My Spanish Chronicle

With these small projects we have embarked upon, we hope to continue informing, amusing, inspiring and making people think and act to achieve something BIG for themselves, the BIG change for Ang Bagong Filipino.

Muchas gracias y hasta luego!

The Flock Gatherer

5 May

The Journey of Fr. Avel and the Filipino Personal  Parish in Barcelona  

by Nats Sisma Villaluna

Once, a Pinoy friend told me. “If I were to run down the things that Father Avel  did for the Filipino community in Barcelona, it would take me a week to finish it. He has done a lot.”

Father Avelino Sapida

Fr. Avelino Sapida

It was in 1986 when Father Avel  arrived in Barcelona. Upon his arrival, he found himself facing  a dilemma, the Filipino community was like sheep without shepherd.  The Iglesia de San Elias, the church that had been serving Filipino churchgoers under the administration of Spanish priests Father Garcia and Father Gines  had “died” a long time ago. It was a challenge for him to find his flocks and gather them in one  place and be united again. He went to places frequented by Pinoys on their days-off. He scoured the  Las Ramblas, Plaza Cataluña, Bracafé and the port area.  He  knocked at  Pinoy’s houses, one by one, and invited them to participate in the community.  At first, this attempt was met with cynicism. Some doubted his motive.  However, after seeing that that Father Avel was only doing this for their interest, they came in droves.

Little by little his effort paid off. The Church of Sta. Monica became the church for Pinoys and Father Avel became the assistant priest. The number of attendees grew. The “dying” church slowly resurrected to life.

Father Avel has always been committed to the cause of   the migrant workers.  When he was first assigned in Italy, he  served the Pinoys in Rome. There, he learned a lot about the situations of  Filipino migrants in  his short stint. Now in Spain, he was committed to do something for them at all cause.

For six years, the Santa Monica church witnessed  the rise in numbers of mass-goers, both Pinoys and non-Pinoys.

In 1992, the need for a bigger  church was apparently inevitable.  Father Avel requested for a bigger place of worship. His petition was granted. The Basilica de San Justo y Pastor was offered  following the directive from the bishop of Barcelona who ordered  Father Avel  to resurrect yet again another dying church. With lively songs and a participative environment, the church came back to life in a short period of time. Attendees swelled ten-folds.

Nagkaroon na ng magandang impression ang Simbahan ng Barcelona sa ating mga Pinoy.  Kaya sabi ng Obispo, patay na yang parokyang  yan. Buhayin ninyo.”

The church also became a refuge for Filipinos, offering  services ranging from employment to legal issues.  It   was  also vocal against abusive treatment towards those without legal documents.

“We were even using our pulpit to denounce the treatment of the police against undocumented migrants. Naging uso ang mga raid ng mga pulis noon sa mga walang papel at kailangang  saklolohan ang ating mga kababayan.

Aside from providing spiritual guidance to the community, Father Avel was also busy helping our Pinoy seamen.  He would visit Stella Maris, a church-based center where spiritual, pastoral and legal services for seafarers and their families were provided for the seafarers. It was also in this period when the Centro Filipino-Tuluyan San Benito was founded. Under the supervision of the Benedictine sisters, the Centro Filipino worked hand in hand with the church to protect the rights of Filipino migrants and seafarers in Catalonia. Later on, the Samahan ng mga Migranteng Pilipino sa Barcelona (SMPB) was formed.

“During the time when the government granted the amnesty program to illegal migrants, we were tapped by the Ministry of Labor to facilitate  the preparation of documents of our Filipino workers.  Pag may rally sa kalye para sa katarungan ng mga  migrants, nandoon din kami.

Once again, the problem regarding  space became a challenge for Father Avel. He had to look for a much bigger church to accommodate the  dramatic increase of churchgoers in Basilica San Justo y Pastor. He  had his eyes on another dying church, the Iglesia de San Agustin. Previously, the Archbishop of Barcelona had promised him to give the church as a personal parish to the Filipino community. But before making good his promise, the archbishop died. His successor was not that keen on fulfilling the standing  promise  made to Father Avel. In 1996, Father Avel already started with the paper works to have the church. It took him a long time to convince the church of Barcelona to give the Iglesia de San Agustin  to the Filipinos. The Spaniards were worried that by granting the Filipinos their own parish, the effect would be a ghetto-like existence where Filipinos would no longer integrate, hereby alienating itself to its host country.

But Father Avel argued;

“Hindi kami magiging ghetto. In fact, the more pa kaming mag-iintegrate sa comunidad. Sa pamamagitan ng parokya personal, we can have our own identity. We know what to give to the community. Alam na namin ang ibabagi namin.”

The year  1998 was a significant year for this undertaking.  Father Avel took advantage of the historical importance of the said to persuade the Catalan religious leaders to grant  his request.  1998 was the 100th year of Philippine independence from Spain. He pointed out the parallelism of this historic event  to his appeal.

“I saw the opportunity to let them see the importance of having a personal parish to preserve equality and independence among us. Maramdaman natin na iisa tayo, na equal tayo sa kanila. We were able to fulfill their requirements:  that we have our own language, culture, that we are not from here and we are Catholics. Ang apat na ito’y nasa atin lahat.”

Father Avel was not alone in his battle for a personal parish for the Filipinos.  With the unwavering support from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, his request gained momentum.  His effort was also recognized by several Spanish non-Spanish civic organizations. That same year, he was the head of the municipal council for the migrants in Barcelona.

Pinag-aralan ng mga pari ang sitwasyon. Nakita nila kung ano ang mga pangangailangan ng mga Filipino dito sa Barcelona at kung paano sila matutulungan. Yung ibang civic organization naman, na-inspire sila na ipaglaban din ang kanilang karapatan.

With 16 votes in favor and 4 who voted against it, the Church of Barcelona granted the request of the Filipino community to finally  have its own personal parish. Although, there was a tiny condition in its resolution where the left side of the church belongs to the Filipinos and the right side to the Spanish, Father Avel was very pleased with the  turn of events.  It was on September 27, 1998 when the first official mass was celebrated.  The same day that  San Agustin church was brought back from the dead.

After a year, Father Avel decided to go back to the Philippines.

“Nagawa ko na ang dapat kong gawin. Nakuha ko na ang nais ko para sa mga Pilipino dito sa Barcelona. Dahil sa pagkaroon ng Parokya personal, nakita ng mga Espanyol na organizado ang comunidad Pilipino. It was an honor  for the Filipinos to be recognized by the church of Spain. For our faith,  culture and language,  to be recognized is something.”

Was there a time where he felt he wanted to give up?

Hindi, dahil kung nasaan ang Pinoy, dapat nandoon din tayo.  Imbes na umurong ako lalong nag-init ang aking mithiin na lumaban. Kailangan maging organized tayong Pinoy. If you are not organized, you are nothing. It is important for Filipinos abroad to have a Filipino priest. They can express to the priest lahat ng saloobin nila, problema, lahat dahil the  only ones who can understand Pinoys better are the Pinoy priest themselves. Sa bawat struggle ng Pinoy  dapat may institutional back-up. Kaakibat. Nakaalalay palagi.

Last year, after almost ten years of being away, Father Avel decided to come back to Barcelona and became once again the Parish priest of San Agustin church. In his second coming, he still have dreams  for the Filipino personal Parish.

Gusto kong sa pagkakataon ito, tayo namang mga  Pinoy ang lumabas tulad ng paglabas ni Jesus at pagpalaganap ng magandang balita. Sinisimulan na nating magkaroon ng tinatawag na Basic Eclesiastical Community, yung maliit na mga  simbahan, bubuhayin natin ang mga iyun. We Filipinos are going to save those dying churches. We have done this before, we can do it again now. At sana  balang araw, magkaroon ng isang maihahalal na mambabatas na Pinoy dito sa Espanya na siyang magsilbi para sa kapakanan ng mga migranteng Pilipino. Someone who also shares the dreams and aspirations of every Pinoy migrant worker. Matanda na ako. Pero kung anuman ang maitutulong ko para sa comunidad Pilipino at ng simbahan handa akong tumulong.”

San Agustin church was saved from dying. Today it enjoys a large number of attendees especially on Sundays and Wednesdays. Spanish churchgoers also come to hear the songs and feel the solemnity of the mass. For twelve years now,  the church has been a  witness to jam-packed masses, Filipino weddings, baptisms and other religious services. As one foreigner commented when he got lost and accidentally found himself attending a Filipino mass one Sunday afternoon, “This is my first time to hear mass where I didn’t understand anything but,  it  is so dynamic and participative  and people are short, young and  all have black hair.”

Whether he decides to stay or go back to the Philippines to retire,  Father Avel’s legacy lives on.

If it were not for his  vision and his efforts, we would not have been  enjoying the freedom and equality we are benefiting right now. Yes, we could have a Filipino priest, a mass in Tagalog, but a personal parish like the San Agustin Parish  that we can call our own, that would not have been that sooner. As a priest, a friend, a brother,  a father or a grandfather, what Father Avel  has done  will always be a significant part in the history of  Filipinos in Barcelona, and the whole of Spain. He will always be remembered as the one who came, the one who searched and the one  who gathered.

Our beloved Fr. Avel passed away on May 03, 2013. Our kababayans in Barcelona and nearby places can pay their last respects at:

-Tanatorio de Sancho de Ávila, Calle Sancho de Ávila, 2, Barcelona, on May 7 and 8, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

-Iglesia de San Agustin, from May 09, Thursday, 4 p.m. to May 10, Friday, 10 a.m. An overnight vigil will be held. His remains will be flown home to the Philippines.

We, from Ang Bagong Filipino, join the Filipino community in Barcelona and all the migrant communities around the world, in praying for the eternal repose of Fr. Avelino Sapida. Rest in peace, Father.

Father Avelino Sapida 2

3 Simpleng Iwas-Peke Tips

15 Jan

Ni Daniel Infante Tuaño

ninoy-aquino-airport-manila

Sa sunud-sunod na balitang lumabas sa umanoy pekeng plane tickets dito sa Barcelona, nangangamba ang marami, at nagnanais malaman ang paraan para makasigurong totoo ang plane ticket na binili, nang sa gayon ay hindi maunsyami ang bakasyong pinakahihintay matapos ang mahabang panahon na pagtatrabaho at pag-iipon.

Nakapanayam ko si Isaac D’Mello Valladares, manager ng isang awtorisadong travel agency dito sa Barcelona, ang Spain Travel Corporation.  Sa kanila namimili ang ilan sa mga kababayan nating nagbebenta ng tickets.  Nakausap ko rin ang pangulo ng mga negosyanteng Pinoy sa Barcelona na si Nico Cueto. Ipinaliwanag nila ang mga simpleng paraan para makasiguro kung valid ang tickets na binili natin:

1. E-ticket number. Kapag fully paid ka na, dapat lamang ibigay kaagad sa iyo ang plane ticket na may e-ticket number.  Hindi sapat ang papel na may booking number at seat number, reservation number o confirmation number o kung anu-ano pa, ang kailangan ay ang plane ticket kung saan nakasaad ang iyong E-TICKET NUMBER.  Matapos makuha ang  e-ticket number, maaaring iverify ito sa website ng airlines o tumawag para masigurong totooo ang number na ibinigay sa iyo.

2. Resibo. Importante ring manghingi ng resibo. Ang resibo ay kailangang may stamp ng travel agency at NIF.  Huwag mahiyang humingi ng resibo kahit kakilala, kamag-anak o kaibigan pa ang nagbenta sa iyo. Ito ang katibayan mong nagbayad ka.

3. Opisina. Tiyaking may opisina ang nagbenta sa iyo ng ticket. Dagdag pa ng Spain Travel, ang mga awtorisadong mag-issue ng plane tickets ay ang mga travel agencies na may nakapaskil na IATA o International Air Transport Association sa kanilang mga pintuan.

Kung peke ang nabili mong ticket, sana ay huwag ng umabot pa sa ganito, huwag palagpasin ang araw, agad-agad magtungo sa Policia at magsampa ng reklamo.

Pay now, Fly never

4 Aug

Isinulat ni Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna, Kuha ni Albert Ian R P 

HALOS 700 PINOY SA BARCELONA NABIKTIMA NG SCAM

“Handa na ang lahat!  Excited na sa nalalapit na kasal. Pero bigla na lang sasabihing hindi pala valid ang tickets na binili namin!”

Ito ang galit na pahayag ni Sheila Hidalgo sa kadahilanang  labing siyam na KLM plane tickets na nagkakahalaga ng humigit kumulang 17,000 euros ang nabili ng kanyang pamilya  para sana sa pag-uwi ng Pilipinas at doon magpakasal ang kanyang hipag.

Noong Hulyo 20, 2012, Biyernes, pumutok ang balitang may iilang pasaherong  Pilipino  ang hindi pinalipad dahil sa hindi valid ang kanilang KLM E-tickets.   Hindi  tinanggap sa airport ang mga nasabing tickets sanhi ng hindi pa umano nababayaran  ang mga ito. Mabilis na kumalat ang balita sa buong komunidad ng mga Pilipino sa Barcelona at dahil dito unti-unting nakumpirma na maraming tickets pala ang hindi valid. Maraming nagalit, nalungkot at naperwisyo.

Agad-agad tumawag si Shiela sa opisina ng KLM para kumpirmahin ang balita.

“Sabi ng KLM, labas sila sa pangyayaring ito.  Dapat daw doon kami pumunta sa travel agency kung saan kami bumili ng ticket. Yung iba walang reservation number.  Sabi daw hindi pa bayad ang mga ticket na hawak namin.”

Ayon naman sa ulat na lumabas sa abs-cbnnews.com, pinag-aaralan na ng KLM ang mga hakbanging nararapat isagawa.

Matatandaan noong mga nakaraang buwan ay merong lumabas na oferta ang iba’t ibang travel agencies na Pilipino at 680 euros lang (balikan) ang pamasahe pauwi sa Pilipinas at ito ay galing sa KLM. Dahil nga sa krisis at sa mura ng promo, marami ang nakumbinsing bumili.

Nabayaran na ng mga pasahero  ang kanilang mga ticket  sa travel agencies kung saan nila ito binili. Ayon naman sa mga travel agencies,  naremit na  nila ang pera sa KLM ticket distributor na si Victor Ordoñez Jimenez.  Ang hindi pagremit ng distributor sa KLM ng nasabing bayad ng mga travel agencies ay ang naging sanhi ng problemang ito. Tinatayang 700 Pilipino ang nabiktima.

Iisa lang umano ang pinanggalingan ng nasabing pekeng KLM tickets at ito ay ang nabanggit na ticket distributor.

Inis, galit at lungkot, nais ng mga pasahero na maibalik ng mga ahensiya  ang kanilang pera.  Pilit namang hinahabol ng mga ahensiya ang nairemit na pera kay  Victor.

“Ang hirap hirap na ngang kumita ng pera tapos ito pa ang nangyari.  Sana man lang maibalik ang  pera namin. Okay na kung hindi na makakauwi muna. Ipon ko yun eh. Pinaghirapan namin yun,”   malungkot na sinabi ng isa sa mga biktima.

Nakapanayam ng Ang Bagong Filipino ang may-ari ng TravelJess na si Jessica Lozano Addatu at ang nanay nitong si Rosel Addatu, isa sa mga travel agencies na nanguha ng KLM tickets kay Victor.

“Kami mismo ay nagulat sa mga pangyayari.    Nakikiusap kami ng konting konsiderasyon dahil kami rin ay biktima dito. Matagal na kami  sa negosyong ito, ngayon lang nangyari sa amin ang ganito.  Nagtiwala kami sa kanya.  Sana harapin ni Victor ang kanyang mga biktima.”

Ito ang pahayag ni  Rosel.  Sa aming panayam sa kanya ipinakita niya ang copy of receipt galing kay Victor na nagpapatunay na natanggap nito ang bayad sa mga tickets na binili sa kanyang ahensya.

Sinikap naming kuhanan ng panig ni Victor Ordoñez Jimenez pero hindi pa kami nakatanggap ng sagot galing sa kanya.

Noong  Hulyo 22, 2012, Linggo, agad na nakipag-ugnayan ang mga biktima  kay Fr. Avelino Sapida ng Filipino  Personal Parish at sa Konsulado ng Pilipinas sa Barcelona.  Sa pamamagitan ni Consul Arman Talbo, nagbuo ang mga apektadong pasahero ng isang grupo upang makagawa na ng nararapat na hakbang at mabigyan ng  hustisya ang ating  mga kababayan. Tinawag na Task Force KLM Barcelona ang nasabing grupo para ma-report kaagad sa awtoridad ang nasabing pangyayari at maparusahan ang dapat maparusahan.  Napiling pinuno ng grupo si Karl Peralta.

“Nakikiusap ako sa ating mga kababayan na sana magtulungan tayo. Iisa lang ang laban natin,” pahayag ni Peralta na  nakabili ng dalawang ticket.

Noong Hulyo 24, 2012, Martes ng gabi, muling nagpulong ang mga apektadong pasahero. Mas marami ang dumalo at nagpahayag ng kanilang sama ng loob. Patuloy pa rin sa pagtitipon ng mga apektadong pasahero ang Task Force KLM Barcelona. Mas malakas daw kasi ang laban kung sama-samang magsasampa ng kaso.  Gumawa na rin ito ng Facebook account: TASK FORCE KLM BARCELONA upang mas mapadali ang komunikasyon sa mga miyembro nito.

Muling nagpulong ang mga apektadong pasahero noong Hulyo 31, 2012 at sa gabing yun ay binuo ang dalawang grupo: isang grupo na maghahabla laban sa travel agency at isang grupo na maghahabla laban sa direct agent.

Pinapayuhan ang ating mga kababayang nagpaplanong umuwi sa Pilipinas na mag-ingat sa pagbili ng ticket. Tawagan ang mga customer service agents ng kinauukulang airlines para malaman kung valid ba ang ticket na nabili. Alamin din kung authorized dealer ba ang pinagbibilhan at parating humingi ng official receipt.

Pinoy-Spanish nakisayaw kay Kelly Rowland

2 Aug

Sa dami ng nag-audition, napili ang “half Spanish at proud Pinoy” na si Maverick Gomez na maging bahagi sa isang commercial na tampok ang magaling na mang-aawit na si Kelly Rowland.

Makikitang sumasayaw ang naka-blue na polo si Maverick sa 2:09, 2:57, 2:59, 3:18.

Matatandaang siya ang champion sa iba’t ibang talent competitions sa Barcelona.

At ang napili ring magrepresenta ng Andorra at Spain sa TFCKat EuroFinals.

Maverick Gomez

Kung gusto nyong suportahan ang ating representative, iboto lamang siya sa People’s Choice Award ng TFCKat. Madali lang:

1. “LIKE” http://www.facebook.com/TFCEurope

2.  Then click TFC Grand Finalists

3. “LIKE” / THUMPS UP to Maverick’s Promotional video.

We only have one (1) chance to vote so “LIKE” only Maverick’s video among the 4 finalists.

Maverick Gomez

Another way to vote is through TFCKAT site, http://tfckat.com/angmgasumikat#EU and like Maverick’s profile.

BOTO NA! LIKE NA!

UP Korus Tops Spain’s Songfest!

22 Jul

The University of the Philippines Concert Chorus or Korus won the top prize in the Folk Song category and the second prize in the Mixed Choir category in the Festival Internacional de Música de Cantonigròs held last week in Vic, Spain.

They will continue to delight the audience in Spain and Andorra as they hold concerts tomorrow, Tuesday, July 24 in Andorra; Thursday, July 26 in La Garriga; and this Saturday, July 28 in San Agustin Church, Barcelona.

Free Concerts from UP Korus in Madrid, Barcelona and Andorra

14 Jul

The official choir of the University of the Philippines, UP Concert Chorus or Korus will be visiting Spain and Andorra this July to give free concerts to Filipino communities and international audience in Madrid, Barcelona  and Andorra, and compete in the Festival Internacional de Música de Cantonigros in Vic, Spain.

With its 50-year career garnering local and international awards and promoting Filipino culture and heritage, Korus will surely captivate again its audience, showcasing excellent Filipino artistry in music and dance.

So don’t miss this opportunity to see them with your family and friends, Filipinos and non-Filipinos, while they’re in Spain and Andorra. Donations will be highly appreciated.

Here are the concert dates and venues:

MADRID

July 17  Tuesday 6:00PM     Auditorio de Centro Cultural Nicolas Salmeron

C/Mantuano 51, 28002 Madrid          91 782 3830 (FREE ENTRANCE)

VIC

July 19 – 23 Competing in the Festival Internacional de Música de Cantonigròs (Vic)

L’Atlàntida, Centre d’Arts Escèniques d’Osona

C/ Francesc M. Masferrer, núm. 4. 08500 Vic

ANDORRA

July 24    9:00PM    Auditori Nacional d’Andorra

Ctra. de Segudet, s/n         AD300 Ordino   (FREE ENTRANCE)

LA GARRIGA

July 26   Thursday   8:30PM     Teatre La Garriga

Plaça de l’Església, 2 (along Passeig de La Garriga)

BARCELONA

July 28  Saturday   8:30PM   San Agustin Church

Plaça Sant Agustí, 2 (FREE ENTRANCE)

You may click the link to download their repertoire:

Repertoire for La Garriga Concert

Repertoire for Barcelona (Updated) Concert

To know more about the UP Concert Chorus, you may visit their website: http://www.upconcertchorus.org/home

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