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Pang-Sports pa!

17 May

Everyone is invited to Casa Asia’s conference on the role of sports in social cohesion. Our very own Elmer Dimayuga, who established a Taekwondo school in Barcelona, will be one of the speakers.

The talk will be held on 23 May, Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Auditori Tagore, Casa Asia, Avenida Diagonal, Barcelona.

To know more about the event and the speakers, you may download this document: esports

Game over!

17 Apr

Isinulat ni Joy Rebanal-Laygo

Masamang-masama ang loob ko nung araw na iyon. At para ma-relax ang puso at isipan ko, naisipan kong maglaro ang mga games na naka-download sa celfone ko. Iyong “brickbreaker” ang napili ko. Ang instruction, bibigyan ka ng 3 buhay. At habang nilalaro mo ito, may mga bonuses na lalabas para dumami pa ang buhay mo, ammunitions at iba pang gamit para ma-break mo ang lahat ng bricks sa bawat level. Nakaka-addict kasi sa tuwing mauubos ang buhay ko, mas lalo ang pagnanasa na makataas pa ako ng isang level at malaman kung anong merong bago sa level na susunod. Doon ko ibinuhos ang lahat ng aking panggigigil. Lahat ng sama ng loob, lahat ng hinanakit na nararamdaman ko ng mga sandali  na iyon. At habang sige ako sa panggigigil, siya namang dalas ng pag-game over ko. Ni hindi ako makaalis ng level three. Pero wala pa rin akong sawa sa kakapindot ng “New Game” sa tuwing mauubos ang “Life “ ko sa laro. Hanggang sa di ko na mamalayan na tumatakbo na ang oras.

At habang walang tigil ang pagpindot ko, na halos, sumakit na ang mga daliri ko sa ginagawa ko, ay naisip kong sana ang buhay gaya ng celfone or video games. Kahit may game over, pwede ka pa ulit maglaro. Pwede mong ulit-ulitin ang paglalaro hanggang sa ma-master mo na ang tricks at makaabot sa mataas na level at makakuha ng highest score. At sa tuwing makakakuha ka ng highest score, gagawin mo pa rin ang lahat para ma-beat mo ang nakaraang highest score mo. Kung minsan nga, nandaraya pa ako. Kapag alam ko na malapit na akong ma-game over, di ko na tatapusin ang laro at restart ko na ulit ang game para makapag-umpisang muli.

Sana ganun nga lang kadali at kasimple ang buhay. Pero hindi nga. Hindi ganun ang instructions sa laro ng buhay. ‘Pag start na, sa sandaling huminga ka na ng hangin, umpisa na ang laro mo. Istrikto ang laro. Walang three rounds gaya nung ibang games. Isang beses lang. Isang life lang. ‘Pag natapos na. Tapos na nga talaga. No turning back. No going back. ‘Pag nangyari na, nangyari na. ‘Pag nagkamali ka, wala nang bawian. Kailangan, ituloy-tuloy mo na lang. Unless, mabuwisit ka na sa paglalaro at ‘di mo na hintayin ang game over mo dahil kusa mo nang inihinto ang laban mo kasi pagod ka na at ayaw mong umabot ka sa puntong talunan ka na. Eh buti pa nga ang electronic games, pwede mong pindutin ang “pause” para uminom ng tubig o umihi. Eh ang buhay ba natin pwede nating itigil saglit, lalo na pag ang bilis na ng mga pangyayari sa ating buhay? ‘Pag di mo na kayang huminga sa hirap o sagad na sagad ka na sa problema? Walang pause na pwedeng pindutin. Tuloy-tuloy ang buhay. Tumigil ka man sa pagkakatayo mo, wala siyang pakialam, tatakbo at tatakbo ang oras mo, bagalan mo man o bilisan ang ginagawa mo. Ang bottomline, walang pakialam sa iyo ang buhay. Kaya dapat, ipagpatuloy mo lang hanggang di natatapos ang laro ng buhay mo.

Pero napansin ko, habang naglalaro ako ng “brickbreaker”, mas nanggigigil ako, mas galit ako sa tuwing nababawasan ang buhay ko, mas lalong hindi ako nakakaalis sa level 3. Kaya tumigil ako saglit. Nag-inhale, at exhale. Saka ko ulit sinubukang maglaro. Buo na ang concentration. Wala nang panggigigil. Ang objective ko na lang, makaalis sa level three. Tinandaan kong lahat ang mga tricks na natutunan ko para di agad mabawasan ang “3 lives” ko at sa halip ay madagdagan pa ito. Iniwasan ko ang mga dapat iwasan para makarating ako sa mas mataas na level nang buong-buo ang mga “life” ko sa laro. Pinagpawisan ako, nangati ang pisngi ko pero di ko iyon pinansin. Hindi ako nagpa-istorbo sa ingay na naririnig ko. Para bang “the greatest performance of my life” ang drama ko!

At di nga ako nagkamali. Mula sa level 3, nakarating ako sa level 6. Tuwang-tuwa ako. Parang batang paslit na tumatawa ako. Kaya ko naman pala! Madami pang levels ang “brickbreaker”, ni hindi pa nga ako umaabot sa ¼. Pero uunti-untiin ko hanggang sa tumaas nang tumaas ang level na pwede kong marating. Para kahit na ma-gameover na ako, alam ko, nakarating ako sa maraming levels na pwede kong ipagmalaki kahit sa sarili ko na lang.

Hehehehe. Naisip ko muli, puwede ring i-apply sa buhay. Siguro nga, kailangan, harapin natin ang lahat ng levels ng buhay natin ng walang panggigigil. Dapat walang mabibigat na bagahe. Para buo ang konsentrasyon natin sa pagtahak sa direksyon na gusto natin. Mahirap gawin sa aktuwal na buhay pero kayang subukan kung gugustuhin. Wala namang mawawala. Ewan ko sa inyo, pero ako, pangarap kong makarating sa kadulu-duluhan ng buhay ko nang alam ko na ginawa ko ang lahat bago man lamang ako umabot sa “gameover” ng buhay ko.

Mahilig ka bang kumanta? Sali na sa Coro Asiático de Barcelona!

17 Apr

Kung ikaw ay mahilig kumanta at may edad na 18-45 taong gulang, sali na! Ipadala lamang ang iyong pangalan, edad, nasyonalidad, email at telepono sa email na ito: gpatinlaloy@casaasia.es.

Para malaman ang tipo ng boses mo, pumunta ka sa Casa Asia, Avenida Diagonal, 373, Barcelona sa Lunes, 23 ng Abril 2012, alas 8 ng gabi.

Ang korong ito ay isang proyektong interkultural ng Casa Asia na naglalayong magtampok ng mga awitin mula sa iba’t ibang bansa. Ang koro ay pamumunuan ni G. Carles Josep Comalada, isang batikang propesor ng koro at naging direktor ng Actea Cor Femini, isang koro na nagwagi ng iba’t ibang premyong nasyonal at internasyonal.

Ang pag-eensayo ay gaganapin tuwing Lunes, 8:00 – 9:30 ng gabi sa Casa Asia.

Semana Santa sa Barcelona

1 Apr

Parroquia Personal Filipina

La Inmaculada Concepción y San Lorenzo Ruiz

HOLY WEEK ACTIVITIES

APRIL 01, 2012 – Linggo ng Palaspas (Palm Sunday))

          9:30 a.m. – Bendisyon ng Palaspas (Plaza San Agustin)

       10:00 a.m. – Misa ng Sambayanan

         5:30 a.m. – Bendisyon ng Palaspas (Plaza San Agustin)

         6:00 p.m.- Misa ng Sambayanan

APRIL 02, 2012 – Lunes Santo (Holy Monday)

          8:30 p.m. – Pambayang Rekoleksyon (Guest Priests)

                               – Kumpisalang Bayan (Confession)

APRIL 03, 2012 – Martes Santo (Holy Tuesday)

          8:30 p.m. – Pambayang Rekoleksyon (Guest Priests)

                               – Kumpisalang Bayan (Confession)

APRIL 04, 2012 – Miercoles Santo (Holy Wednesday)

          8:15 p.m. – Nobena – Ina ng Laging Saklolo

          8:30 p.m. – Pambayang Rekoleksyon at Misa (Guest Priests)

                               -Kumpisalang Bayan

APRIL 05, 2012 – Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday)

           6:00 p.m. – Misa ng Huling Hapunan (Last Supper)

                                – Paghuhugas ng Paa (Washing of the Feet)

APRIL 06, 2012 – Viernes Santo (Holy Friday)

           9:30 a.m. -Via Crucis (Montjüic) Pagtitipon: Teatro Plaza Molino, Paralelo

           6:00 p.m. – Pag-alaala sa Kamatayan ng Panginoon

                                – Pagsamba sa Krus

APRIL 07, 2012 -Vigilia ng Pagkabuhay

           6:00 p.m. – Bendisyon ng Bagong Apoy at Kandilang Paskal

                                -Pagbasa ng Salita ng Diyos

                                -Bendisyon ng Bagong Tubig at Pagsariwa ng Pangako ng Binyag

                               – Misa ng Pagkabuhay

APRIL 08, 2012 – Linggo ng Pagkabuhay (Resurrection Sunday)

             9:00 a.m.- Salubong (mula sa C. Junto de Comercio

                                    at L’Arc de Plaza San Agustin)

            10:00 a.m. – Misa (Tagalog)

            11:30 a.m. – Misa (con la Parroquia San Agustin) Castellano

              6:00 p.m. -Misa (Tagalog)

               7:30 p.m. -Easter Party ng Sambayanan (Plaza San Agustin)

If you read this, you’re fired!

1 Apr

Pictures of broken display windows, burnt garbage containers and confrontations between anti-riot police and furious protesters hogged the headlines in Spain and our Facebook newsfeeds.

I was there but I did not muster the courage to witness all the action. I could get a good shot from them and they were indeed ‘newsworthy’, but it was just common sense to run for one’s own safety when the crowd dispersed was running towards you. Besides, that was not the General Strike was all about.

It seems that most of the news reduced the event to a mob and a gang of vandals, where in fact there were toddlers, school children and families in the crowd, which occupied the whole stretch of Paseo de Gracia going to Plaza Cataluña.

People tend to forget the real essence of what really took place, the reason why more than 800,000 people were there–to oppose the recent budget cuts in health, education and other social services and the labor reforms which according to a kababayan whom I interviewed, would take away more benefits from the workers and getting fired and unemployed in Spain will be much easier, hopefully not easy as what the placard says:

In English: If you read this, you’re fired. DIT

Pinoy docu “Routes” in Barcelona’s Casa Asia

18 Mar

Everyone is invited to the screening of three films which include a short documentary directed by our very own Ms. Kay Abaño.

Entitled “Routes”, the film features two young Filipino migrants and traces the path they have chosen to fulfill their dreams.

It will be shown along with two other films from China and Pakistan this Wednesday, March 21, 7 p.m. at Casa Asia, Tagore Auditorium, Avinguda Diagonal, 373  Barcelona.

For more info, please visit the following link: 3 countries, 3 short films, 3 perspectives: Philippines, Pakistan, China

Ang galing ng Pinoy…pagkatapos, ano na?

5 Mar

(Bukas po ang blog na ito sa lahat ng gustong magbahagi ng kanilang mga nasasaloob. Ipahatid natin sa buong mundo ang ating mga kuru-kuro, hinaing, papuri, pagpuna, drama o komedya ng buhay natin gamit ang ating mga panulat kagaya ng artikulo na ibinahagi sa atin ni Gng. Joy Rebanal-Laygo)

‘Di na bago sa akin ang mga balita na naglalaman ng papuri sa mga Pinoy sa ibang bansa. Magaling magtrabaho, masipag, malinis, matapat, magaling makisama, matalino, matiyaga, at marami pang iba. Nakakataba ng puso. Parang mas lalong nakakagana magtrabaho. Bayani nga…Pero teka, teka lang! Bago tayo malunod o malasing sa dami ng papuri at paghanga, ‘di ba kayo nakakaramdam ng konting kaba? Di ka ba pressured? Parang kasunod ng mga salitang naglalarawan sa isang manggawang Pinoy ay ang napakataas na “expectation”.

Parang katulad iyan ng isang beauty queen, parang si Miss Universe. Siya ang hinirang na pinakamagandang babae sa buong universo. So dapat, lagi siyang maganda, kaaya-aya, kaakit-akit. Hindi siya pwedeng tumaba, pumangit at mabungi kasi baka bawiin sa kanya ang korona niya. Kailangan mamuhay siya ayon sa “expectations” ng mga taong tumatangkilik sa kanya. Hanggang sa hawak niya ang titulo, hindi siya pwedeng mag-asawa o mabuntis kasi  kailangan niyang patunayan na karapat-dapat siya sa isang karangalan na ipinagkaloob sa kanya. Ang tawag dun, obligasyon at responsibilidad.

Ang Madrid at ang Barcelona ang dalawang ciudad sa España kung saan napakaraming Pilipino ang naninirahan. At pagdating sa larangan ng trabaho, lalo na sa “servicio domestico”, tayong mga Pilipino ang “in demand”. Ika nga, “most requested” ang mga Pinoy. Kasi masunurin (pag baguhan pa lang), malinis magtrabaho, may “hygiene”, marunong mag-Ingles, matatalino at mapagkakatiwalaan lalo na kung may alagang mga bata sa kanilang papasukan. Kung sa trabahong restaurant naman, ganun din, madali daw ang “pick-up” ng utak ni Juan dela Cruz, kahit di nag-aral ng culinary arts, bigyan lang ng pagkakataon, sa konting panahon, kaya na niyang gampanan at gawin ang halos lahat ng trabaho sa loob ng restaurante. At napakarami pang istorya ng kagalingan ang pwedeng ikuwento kung Pinoy rin lang ang pag-uusapan.

Pero dahil nga nakakalasing ang tagumpay o papuri, may mga kababayan tayo na nakakalimutan na obligasyon niyang alagaan ang kanyang imahe bilang mabuting manggagawa. Yumayabang. Napapariwara. Kasi magaling daw sya. May nalululong sa droga hanggang sa mapabayaan ang kanyang trabaho. Mayroong suki ng sugalan. Iyong iba nga, kasusuweldo pa lang, imbes na kay misis i-entrega ang sweldo, eh kay “Martinez” nag-eentrega ng buong kinita nya. May mga kumukupit sa mga amo (dahil malaki na ang tiwala sa kanya). Tabi-tabi na lang po sa maaring tamaan. Pero ito po ang katotohanan. Masakit pakinggan ngunit kailangang may magpapaalala. Ilang Pilipino na dito sa Barcelona ang nasangkot na sa droga? Gaano kalaking pera ang pinapatalo ng mga Pilipino sa sugal? Ilang pamilya na ang nawasak? Eh, ano na ang nangyari kay “Pinoy” na ang galing-galing?

Kahanga-hanga ba ang isang komunidad na hindi ginagampanan ang kanyang responsibilidad sa kanyang pamilya? Ang obligasyon mo bilang ano nga ba iyon? Bagong Bayani? Paano ka tatawaging magaling kung wasak ang pamilya mo? Paano ka hahangaan kung ikaw mismo ang sumisira sa sarili mo? Minsan, ang kagalingan, mas mabuting inilalagay sa puso kaysa sa isipan. Mas mabuting ang galing ay pinatutunayan at hindi ipinagyayabang.

Isang hamon ang inihahain ko ngayon sa aking mga kababayan. Tapos na tayong ipakita sa lahat kung gaano kagaling ang Pinoy, ngayon, patunayan naman natin, na ang lahat ng iyon ay katotohanan at hindi pakitang-tao lamang.

Viaje, Barcelona-Manila: A Conversation With F. Sionil Jose

3 Feb

I had forgotten all about it-Manila traffic. And I’d forgotten all about those 3 important Filipino traffic factors: that it was raining, that it was 3 days before Christmas, and that it was Wednesday, Baclaran day. If one wishes to arrive anywhere on time on this side of Metro Manila, these 3 things must be very well considered. I called to apologize and say that I would be late. ¡Que Vergüenza!

We were on Sucat Road in Parañaque on our way to Padre Faura Street in Manila, and traffic moved lethargically. So, I observed, just as I used to. Only this time I was observing with new eyes, ones that had been away for several years. There were street vendors selling peanuts to bored passengers, people getting on and off crowded jeepneys, others randomly crossing the street, zigzagging honking cars and totally ignoring the pedestrian overpasses built by their generous city councilor or mayor (prudently announced with big and bold letters painted on them.) There were also children playing games on the sidewalk, joyful and unmindful of the holiday rush and smoke of vehicles just a few meters away from them. Everything looked oddly familiar; nothing much seemed to have changed.

Traffic ebbed and flowed and suddenly we found ourselves just behind the CCP, in that cultural complex built by a woman with a once-famous edifice complex. I was getting more and more nervous as we neared Padre Faura Street. Ten minutes more and we were finally walking towards Solidaridad Bookshop, where I was to have an interview with a truly inspiring Filipino thinker-lover-critic, a prolific writer I deeply admired— Francisco Sionil Jose.

After profuse apologies, I was kindly taken up to the office of Mr. Jose- Manong Frankie to many. I was warmly welcomed by the publishing house staff, Manong Frankie’s wife, and later, Manong Frankie himself. He asked me to sit down, and with very little introductions, I began my interview. What ensued in the next hour was in fact more like a friendly conversation, given the ease with which Manong Frankie generously shared his thoughts and feelings to this ‘balikbayan’ in search of some answers.

The writer with Manong Frankie and a copy of his novel Viajero.

***

Of course, the very first thing I wanted to hear from the author of Viajero, a brilliant book about the physical and moral journey of the Filipino people throughout history, was his very thoughts on the Filipino Diaspora…

“It should never have happened!”

“It started when Marcos took over and he was faced with this problem of so many Filipinos educated and unemployed…all dressed up and nowhere to go…They saw to it that the Diaspora would be encouraged.”

“Kaya galit ako sa Ilocanong iyan, eh. (That’s why I’m angry at that Ilocano) He wasted two decades, which would’ve enabled us to progress like Korea, Taiwan, even more so than Singapore…What should’ve happened was, he should’ve hastened the development of this country, industrial development. Just like Park Chung Hee. And for sure, we would’ve absorbed all these Filipinos who went abroad in innovative export industries…because we’re a very talented people. As you can see, when they leave the country they are very industrious, very enterprising, because they get out of their old comfort zone…they know they have to. They work hard. You know, the immigrant culture.”

He spoke of this in his book— the immigrant culture, ours.  Also, in Viajero, he suggested that we’ve had this long history of leaving. I wondered, is it really in our blood?

“Traditionally, yes… well, because we’re an archipelago, we’re a seafaring people… And that’s another thing, we’re a maritime people but we didn’t build up a maritime industry. So we end up working as captains, stewardesses, sailors, but we are not building our own ships.”

Hay naku hija, I get very angry when I think of all the opportunities that we missed because of lousy leadership…Nagagalit ako, I get so angry and frustrated. Matanda na ‘ko…”

“One time I was talking to Nanding Roces, a contemporary of mine. He would’ve been 87 last July…We were talking 2 or 3 years ago, he told me— Frankie, isn’t it sad, we are living in a country in far worse shape than when we arrived. Which is true… very, very true. Ten years ago nobody was sleeping in front of our bookshop, now occasionally there’s a family there. Some people…many people now eat only once a day. There’s hunger in Manila, even in Manila there is hunger.”

“I grew up in a village. Now, when I was young, the poorest farmer there ate twice a day during what we call the Gawat. These are the months of June, July, and August, the planting season. It is in these months when there was still no harvest, because the first harvest comes in September. These 3 months were the most difficult for the farmers because they only ate twice a day— at 10 in the morning and at 4 in the afternoon. Now, many people, both in farms and cities, eat only once a day… do you know what it’s called? ALTANGHAP- Almusal, Tanghalian, Hapunan (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner). That word has been used for almost 10 years now…In other words, for the last 10 years people have been eating only once a day!”

“And then this Diaspora…you must’ve been told about the many social problems this Diaspora has created… dysfunctional families… it’s been worsening. Earlier I was given a report, results of a survey… It’s worsened, it’s worsened…”

“Yes, they keep the country afloat. But then what is happening? The money sent here is not spent wisely.  They want to come back… but how can they come back here if they don’t have money? They don’t have jobs here. Eventually, the solutions must be here not abroad.”

What will happen to all these uprooted Filipinos scattered all over the world? Will Filipinos just keep leaving the country?

“I think so…but you know, it’s not so much the Diaspora I’m worried about. I wrote about it the other Sunday…I’m worried about the specter of an implosion, hija… it will collapse, not explode…but it will implode. And one morning we will wake up to find that we no longer have a country, because it has imploded. All the institutions have been destroyed…anarchy, murder, rape, robberies… these will be commonplace, because we have become a failed state…like Somalia and these African countries that were first destroyed by corruption, then dictatorships. That’s the fate of so many of these countries in Africa…and the symptoms are here. The widespread anarchy, the absence of confidence in the police, the moral malaise…”

I remembered all the Occupy movements in the West, the beginnings of which were not very far away from my current home. Barcelona, Madrid- Los Indignados…then there’s the Arab Spring. People are fed up, people are tired and speaking up and will not let such darkness take over…What about us Filipinos?

“I wish there were more social unrest because that means people care…that they are fighting.”

“But it’s apathy… And when that’s what is happening, that’s it, it will collapse…and people will know how to adjust to it because they know that if you act morally or according to the rules, nothing will happen to you. So people act and adapt to the conditions…”

“Reading the letters of the exiles, particularly del Pilar’s, he recognized their anguish, the stringent pull of memory that Buddy himself felt for those fractured images of his early boyhood. How he wished that del Pilar had kept some journal…” ** MEMORY… is this unique to the Exile? Does one need to be away to remember?

“No, we all need memory- it’s memory that bonds a nation together. Racial memory. To keep this memory, to rejuvenate it, that’s the function of writers and teachers…”

“Memory is very important! It’s important for all Filipinos, whether you are here or abroad…because your nationality is where your heart is.

I’ve met Chinese who go to China thinking they are Chinese, and then they discover they are really Filipino after all…they get homesick for the Philippines, for wherever they come from. One time in the 60s I attended a conference, there was a Chinese writer, I kidded him saying that his loyalties were to the mainland and not to Malaysia. He corrected me, he told me- you know when I’m homesick I don’t think of China, I think of the palm trees of Penang, Sate Babe, the beaches where I swam as a boy… no, I don’t think about China… I speak Chinese, but you know…”

“This is a true story, ha… in Hong Kong when we were living there in 1960, there was a Chinese girl named April Velasco, who was staff artist of the magazine I edited. It turned out she grew up in Binondo…She was a Binondo Chinese. We talked in Tagalog. She told me, when the communist took over China, she returned to help in rebuilding the homeland…She thought she was Chinese. So she went. Then of course the communists were there, and she had to work in a commune. She said life was very difficult. She said—‘you know Frankie, I was so homesick for Binondo…So, I took a trip to Manila, then when I got to Manila, I climbed to the tallest part of the ship… up to the very top. And I looked over to Intramuros and Binondo. But I didn’t go down, because if I went down I’d be arrested as a communist. So after that I went back to Hong Kong. I just wanted to see Binondo…’ sabi niya. ‘I speak Chinese I look Chinese, pero hindi na ‘ko Intsik, Frankie, I’m Filipina!’ So, things like these…”

“…at least these are people who can still identify with this country, because many Filipinos cannot. And that’s why we’re like this. The Zobel-Ayalas, do you think they’re Filipinos? NO, they are Spaniards. Some of these Chinese who send their money to China, they are not Filipinos they are Chinese. And Marcos, he wasn’t Filipino, he sent his money abroad…They are here but they are like the old imperialists. What is the logic of imperialism? You exploit the country and send the loot to the mother country. That’s the logic of imperialism. So in a sense, that’s why we’re like this…We are colonized by our own people, by our own leaders. And the reason is first, we don’t recognize this form of colonialism, and second, we don’t have the patriotism to love this country as we should.”

Speaking of patriots, aren’t all OFWs the best of them all? The new heroes of our time? The BAGONG BAYANI?

“The overseas workers are not bayanis, they are just poor people trying to make a living, you know…That’s consuelo de bobo (a fool’s consolation). They are just ordinary Filipinos.”

“But this I tell them, ok— when Sun Yat Sen mounted the first revolution in China in 1911, the greatest help came from the overseas Chinese… they gave the money.”

“But what I would like to see is that the overseas Filipinos get ORGANIZED… really get organized, to pressure this government, to see to it that the money they remit home is used properly, for infrastructure, and not to buy the luxuries of the rich. And that can be done through proper organization… through political clout! Because the rich Filipinos, our leaders, will not move unless they are forced…that is the common attitude of people in power. People in power- they won’t move, they are enjoying it…unless they are criticized or pushed…So if overseas Filipinos are organized and they have a strong voice in government, they can make a difference…”

“But that’s the problem. Filipinos tend to divide. Too much ego…ego, hija, ego…in San Francisco there are about 300 Filipino organizations. I suppose you can say the same thing in Spain.”

“In San Francisco, out of these 300 Filipino organizations, from my hometown of Rosales there are 2 organizations. I told them- our town is so small why can’t you just work together…No answer. I told them they were too arrogant.”

“So, now, that illustrates the diversity in this country. That’s OK, but there should be issues wherein this diversification should be avoided.”

“Why are Filipinos united when Pacquiao fights?”

“So, maybe those who are in charge of organization should look for the commonalities that would bind people together rather than emphasize the diversities. Because those diversities will not disappear…They are ingrained in society… but it’s possible. EDSA 1 is an example of diversities uniting together…”

“It’s a difficult problem because it’s ingrained in Filipino culture. But like I said, these are issues that people like you should look carefully into. What are the issues that unite us rather than divide us?”

Questions, questions…all of Manong Frankie’s questions reminded me of his writing, the ideas found in his eloquent prose that had kept me company in my own share of loneliness abroad. “…the epic diaspora needed to be recorded if only to show how the Filipino had become the proletariat of the world.”**  What more did he have to say to Filipinos abroad?

“Huwag nilang kalilimutan ang malungkot na bayan nila. (Don’t forget your lonely country.)”

“But usually they don’t, eh. And many of them realize how Filipino they are when they are abroad than when they are here. So you feed on that, that hungering for identity, which grows among the loneliest of people. This is where a sense of community will help very much.”

Manong Frankie, the writer Kay Abaño, and her mother Barbara Abaño.

We said our goodbyes, and after buying some books from the bookshop – like rations for the next few years abroad – my patiently waiting mother and I made our way back to where we’d parked our car. Walking down Padre Faura Street and through Robinsons Galleria mall, I silently observed my fellow Filipinos. Manong Frankie’s words echoed in my thoughts.

Getting out of that part of Manila had always been quite a task. The streets were full of people and jeepneys, equal owners of the narrow road! But we slowly found our way out, crossing Taft Avenue and going up Leon Guinto Street, then making a turn at Vito Cruz which, after a few more narrow turns, finally led to the South Luzon Expressway. It all started coming back to me, this route I used to take.

I began to remember. I could remember it all.

***

F. Sionil José or in full Francisco Sionil José (born December 3, 1924) is one of the most widely-read Filipino writers in the English language. His novels and short stories depict the social underpinnings of class struggles and colonialism in Filipino society. José’s works – written in English – have been translated into 22 languages, including Korean, Indonesian, Russian, Latvian, Ukrainian and Dutch.

His many awards include the Pablo Neruda Centennial Award, Chile, 2004; (Kun Santo Zuiho Sho) The Order of Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, Japan, 2001; and the National Artist for Literature, Philippines, 2001. (Lifted from Wikipedia)

F. Sionil Jose signing copies of Viajero for Ang Bagong Filipino

** Quoted text from Viajero, a Filipino Novel by F.Sionil Jose (link: http://www.fsioniljose.tk/)

** Interview was held last December 21, 2011 at the Solidaridad Bookshop in 531 Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila.

** Solidaridad Bookshop Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Solidaridad-Bookshop/245546608820458?sk=wall

Strange Bedfellows: Bello and Imelda unite to save Barcelona consulate

2 Feb

Akbayan Party-list Cong. Walden Bello and Ilocos Norte Cong. Imelda Marcos

Akbayan found itself in a bizarre alliance with the wife of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on January 31st as they urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to maintain the Philippine post in Barcelona.

According to Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello he was “surprised” when Imelda Marcos, representative of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte, supported his position to keep the Philippine Consulate General in Barcelona operational after the DFA announced its closure along with several other posts.

“Barcelona, Spain is home to one of the strongest-organized Filipino communities abroad, and it is also a hub for Filipino seafarers. I was explaining to the committee that we needed a functioning consulate to see to the needs of our migrant kababayan in the region. And here comes Imelda Marcos openly agreeing with me, citing the geo-political importance of having a post in Barcelona,” Bello explained.

Bello also pointed out that it was precisely the OFWs in Barcelona that lobbied for the creation of the Barcelona consulate, making its closure clearly against the interest of Filipinos in the region.

“So I moved for the Committee to make a recommendation to the executive for the maintenance of the Barcelona post, and Mrs. Marcos seconded it. As we speak, the Committee Report is being prepared for submission to President Aquino as a plea for reconsideration,” Bello added.

According to Bello, Mrs. Marcos explained that she frequented Barcelona previously and experienced firsthand how it is the most important port in the Mediterranean given its close proximity to Africa.

“Perhaps Barcelona is also very important to Mrs. Marcos because of its close proximity to Libya, where her good friend, the late dictator, Muammar Gaddafi hails from,” Bello added.

Bello, who is closely associated with civil society in the effort to make the Marcoses accountable for the grave abuses committed during the time of the dictatorship, aired his willingness to work with the Marcoses on legislation that is very important to the Filipino people.

“I really didn’t imagine that Mrs. Marcos could agree with me on any significant issue. I am happy to know that we have similar priorities, such as quality service and assistance for migrant Filipino workers,” Bello concluded. “Perhaps this may facilitate more openness between the Marcoses and Akbayan, and eventually lead to Mrs. Marcos’ support for the compensation for victims of human rights violation during the dictatorship.”

Bello figured prominently in the anti-Marcos dictatorship movement, and among the highlights of his activism was his satirical portrayal of the Marcos couple as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in protest actions against the World Bank’s support for the late dictator; he also orchestrated radical demonstrations to disrupt socio-cultural events in the U.S. organized in honor of Mrs. Marcos. This 15th Congress, Bello authored a resolution declaring Ferdinand Marcos an “enemy of democracy.” He is also a main force behind the legislation that seeks compensation for Marcos’ victims of human rights violation using the sequestered wealth of the Marcoses.###

Pinoys on Facebook Oppose Barcelona Consulate Closure

31 Jan

4000 members and counting.

This is the number of Filipinos that comprises a group in Facebook, which opposes the closure of the Philippine Consulate in Barcelona.

The group called “NO to Closure of Philippine Consulate General in Barcelona. YES to Pubic Service!” was created last Monday, 23 January, and within just a week  more than 3000 members have already joined.

The social media has been used by the Filipino community in Spain as a democratic platform where they can express their reactions towards the decision of the government to close down the four-year-old Consulate.

Aquí no (Translated literally in English: Not here). Courtesy of Barcelona Exposure Club.

Many members of the group unanimously express the need for a full time Consulate in Barcelona especially now that the population in the areas of Catalonia and Balearic Islands have been continuously increasing given the privilege the Philippines has over family reunification in Spain.  Barcelona and Tarragona also have important ports where most ships manned by Filipino seafarers dock. Ibiza in the Balearic Islands and the nearby principality of Andorra are also home to large Filipino communities. All in all, there are more than 20,000 Filipinos who will be affected by the closure of the Philippine Consulate.

Some members of the group cannot contain their disappointment and despair over the decision. One asked: “don’t abandon us in the middle of the (Spanish economic) crisis…we will be strayed like orphans.”

Another member claims this decision as “injustice since we fought to have it established and there no was no consultation whatsoever (with the Filipino community)”

“Why not cut cost, instead of closing it down?”, another member suggested and enumerated ways to cut costs such as doing away with the Mercedez Benz (used by the Consulate) and first class trips and cut on per diem expenses among others. One added that cost cutting should not start with services rendered by simple hardworking staff but it should start with public officials.

One member suggested that the Filipino community could invite public officials from the Philippines to come to Barcelona to see for themselves how the Filipino migrants live and how much workload of the consular staff have here.  “It’s so easy to give mandate without experiencing the real situation…”

More than 1000 signatures in one day

The big Filipino community in Barcelona has enthusiastically participated in the first day of the signature campaign against the closure of the Philippine Consulate in Barcelona. Photo by Karen Joy Salvador of Barcelona Exposure Club.

The group’s enthusiasm to let the Philippine government know their opposition has resulted to an overwhelming response to the first day of signature campaign held in the Parroquia de San Lorenzo Ruiz Church, a Roman Catholic Church especially dedicated to Filipino residents in Barcelona.

More than 1000 signatures in just one day have been gathered supporting the retention of the Consulate. In Ibiza, according to Parish Migration Desk of Ibiza, Filipinos have already started with the collection of signatures.

The message is clear. Photo by Albert Ian RP of Barcelona Exposure Club.

Four remittance centers and even Pinoy restaurants have also volunteered to be signature gathering centers.

More than 20 Filipino organizations say NO

In Barcelona, more than 20 Filipino organizations composed of various religious, civic and socio-cultural groups have expressed their dismay and disapproval over the government’s decision.  Organizations such as Barcelona Exposure Club, Northern Star, Samahang Kabagis, Timpuyog ti-Ilocano, and Unified Bicolanos in Barcelona have taken their signature campaigns and lobbying initiatives to express their support for the retention of the Consulate.

Meanwhile, Kapulungan ng mga Lider Pinoy sa Barcelona (KALIPI), a federation of Filipino associations in Barcelona together with the support of other organizations, has sent a letter of appeal to the Chairpersons of the House Committees on Overseas Workers Affairs and Foreign Affairs namely Congressman Walden Bello of Akbayan Party List and Congressman Al Francis DC Bichara of Albay.

In its petition letter, it pointed out that “an Honorary Consulate cannot effectively respond to the growing number of Filipinos in Barcelona, nor can a provisional consular service from Madrid, located 600 km away, attend to the urgencies of our Filipino seafarers.”

The letter also cited that the strong relationship between the Barcelona city government, the Philippine Consulate and the Filipino community has already produced significant political, economic and cultural achievements in just short span of time and these will all be put into waste and will incur larger social cost if the full Consulate will be closed.  One of major political parties in Barcelona, Partido de los Socialistas en Cataluña already expressed their support for the retention of the Philippine Consulate.

The Filipino community feels that this decision will send a wrong signal to the people that the government is abandoning them and that the migrants’ good reputation and patriotism are not important for them.

“How can we encourage political participation (Absentee Voting) now if the Consulate is to be closed? The government’s apathy will breed its people’s apathy… The first Absentee Voting held in Barcelona got one of the highest voter’s turnouts in Europe where the current (Philippine) president got the most number of votes,” the letter added.

Over the budgetary reason for closing the Consulate, the letter states that “we do not wish to be considered as simple figures and economic peons. We reject the title ‘Bagong Bayani’ if it is mere lip service. We are more than our remittances, and we are hoping that they…see us as hardworking people who merit their commitment and full service.” Daniel Infante Tuaño, Kay S. Abaño

The young migrants also oppose the government’s decision. Photo by Albert Ian R P of Barcelona Exposure Club.