There is power in unity! The People’s Climate March has initially won. Thousand of Earth advocates came and responded to our call.

Soon after the September 21 mobilization, countries from across the globe have started making plans and executing concrete actions that are easier on the environment.

Little by little, we are heading forward…

The invitation…

Let’s make our voices heard!  On Sunday, September 21, let’s  go out of our comfort zone and join the People’s Climate March.  Let’s demand action for a cleaner planet and an economy that works for people.

PCM

This is not an invitation to change everything.  But at least, we, the citizens of planet Earth can make an impact that could swerve the course of history.

As heads of state from around the world meet for a historic summit on climate change, let us also seize the moment to demand action.  Action that may deliver us from the damaging effects of climate change.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon even exhorts governments to participate in a global agreement to minimize global warming pollution.

We are aware, however, that a single summit cannot “solve climate change”. But, as a unified and vigilant community, we have the power to organize and confront the power of fossil fuels.

The People’s Climate March is a worldwide activity with the primary purpose of urging heads of governments from all over the world to take concrete action to reduce the impact of climate change.  As these heads of state hold the climate change summit in September 2014, in New York City, we can organize a synchronized movement wherever we may be.

Check the schedule of events in your region or community and sign up.  You may even want to organize an event in your locality, if there is none yet.

Let’s make this weekend a historic event for all mankind.  Our future is on the line here.

By the way, have you ever wondered how much climate change has already claimed of our planet Earth?  Let Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott show you the extent of damage and its potential threat in their film, DISRUPTION.   

After the September 21 People’s March…..

We made the largest mobilization ever!

Hundred of thousands join the People’s Climate March in New York and in more than 2,000 communities all over the world to call to action on the threats of climate change.  It’s the largest mobilization ever!

Our concerted effort and solidarity is our initial victory towards building a sustainable society. We have put forward our message of making the governments of the world know that we, the citizens of planet Earth, are seriously concerned about the growing threats of climate change.

As heads of states gather for a summit on the issue, we hope that they come up with concrete and workable plans to resolve the problem of climate change, so that we may translate our initial victory into pursuing concrete actions to save the world by creating a community powered by 100% clean energy.

We shall continue the march towards a sustainable path by building better and healthier climate along the way.

Thank you all for your active participation in the September 21 historic event. Scroll down to see the evidence of our solidarity.

New York, USA
New York, USA
New York, USA
New York, USA
Honolulu, USA
Honolulu, USA
Rio, Brazil
Rio, Brazil
Athens, Greece
Athens, Greece
Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain
Genoa, Italy
Genoa, Italy
Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy
Berlin, Germany
Berlin, Germany
Munich, Germany
Munich, Germany
Bristol, United Kingdom
Bristol, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdon
London, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom
Ottawa, Canada
Ottawa, Canada
Paris, France
Paris, France
Paris, France
Paris, France
Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia
Sydney, Australia
Sydney, Australia
Bogota, Colombia
Bogota, Colombia
Bogota, Colombia
Bogota, Colombia
Bujumbura, Burundi
Bujumbura, Burundi
Loliondo, Tanzania
Loliondo, Tanzania
Lome, Togo
Lome, Togo
Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya
Wilderness, South Africa
Wilderness, South Africa
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Delhi, India
Delhi, India
Delhi, India
Delhi, India
Delhi, India
Delhi, India
Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal
Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey
Jakarta, Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesia
Avaaz Executive Director, Ricken Patel, presents the 2 million-strong petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the People's Climate March, New York
Avaaz Executive Director, Ricken Patel, presents the 2 million-strong petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the People’s Climate March, New York

The results of the summit and the People’s Climate March…..

Our efforts paid off… and we’re moving on!

After the historic September 21 event, we are now beginning to see some progress on Climate Change.  The people power and the summit of leaders have initially produced some victories.  For one, climate change is now in the European agenda.

Meanwhile, one of the most popular malls in the Philippines has launched the world’s largest solar power on its facility.

The SM Supermalls has installed 5,700 solar panels on its North EDSA branch on November 24, 2014.  The system is said to generate 1.5 megawatts of solar energy, covering five percent of the store’s average daily electricity consumption.  This translates to a two million pesos savings per month on the part of the retail giant.

This development will significantly help ease the looming problem that the country’s energy sector has foreseen.  The Energy Department has projected earlier that if the country does not adjust accordingly, the northern part of the Philippines might experience energy shortage of around 300 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts in the summer months of 2015.

Moreover, SM Prime Holdings also promised to launch two similar solar power projects at its SM Dasmarinas and Mall of Asia branches soon.

Misa de Aguinaldo: what do you wish for?


Tomorrow, December 16, starts the official observance of Christmas season, which will last until the Epiphany, or during the commemoration of the Magi’s visit to the Child Jesus.

Simbang Gabi

In the Philippines, the celebration commences with Misa de Aguinaldo or Simbang Gabi, a reverential nine-dawn Masses practiced by both the Roman Catholics and Aglipayans in deference to the Blessed Virgin Mary as they anticipate the birth of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

The liturgical importance of Christmas stems from the Season of Advent, the time when believers spiritually prepare and purify themselves to be worthy to receive the Child Jesus. Simbang Gabi, which literally means Night Mass, is actually done as early as 4 o’clock in the morning.

ParolDuring the Christmas season, Filipinos adorn their homes with colorful star-shaped lanterns called parol. Many, if not most, of which are personally hand-crafted according to the owner’s desire. The parol is traditionally believed to serve as an illumination for the parishioners in making their way to the church.  Also, during this period, children and adults alike would go from house to house singing Christmas carols in exchange for an amount of money or goodies.

Many Filipino Catholics believe that if a parishioner who makes a wish during the dawn Masses and is able to complete all nine dawns of the Simbang Gabi, his or her wish would come true. This has been a centuries-old belief that is still kept alive even up to the present.  Many priests, however, observe that only the first and the ninth dawn of the Simbang Gabi seem to have the greatest number of church-goers.

KakaninSimbang Gabi culminates on December 24 or Christmas Eve, which is called the Misa de Gallo or Mass of the Gifts. Shortly after the Misa de Gallo, families gather together in their homes for the Nochebuena, or the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, where they feast on local delicacies and some conventional dishes, like lechon (or roast pig), fried chicken, hamon, pancit, lumpia, fruit salad, spaghetti, quezo de bola, and a lot more.

Lechon

History

The history of Simbang Gabi in the Philippines can be traced back to 1669 during the early days of Christianity. Since the Christmas season was also a harvest period, it was customary to hold thanksgiving novenas in the evenings. But the priests noticed that, although still enthusiastic to participate in the Mass, their parishioners, especially farmers, were already tired after a day’s work. And so, the Spanish friars decided to begin the Mass very early in the morning, instead, to allow farmers to participate in it before they proceeded to their fields.  

Since then, this important Christmas tradition became a distinct Philippine culture and recognized as a symbol of sharing. After each dawn Mass, Filipino families, and even individuals, would share different traditional Christmas foods and drinks, such as bibingka, or rice cake cooked in clay stove; puto; suman; tsokolate; salabat or ginger tea; kape (coffee) and; other regional delicacies.  

The reason why most of the pastries were traditionally made of rice or carbohydrates was to fill the stomach of farmers before they proceeded to their farms.  At present, however, other delicacies are prepared and readily available at the church’s premises for easy access to parishioners.

After Yolanda: it’s time to rebuild


After the storm has gone, it’s time to get back up again.  Life must go on.  The Filipino spirit of resiliency must work.

November 8, 2013 is the day of horror for many Filipinos as super typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) ravaged through the Visayas region in central Philippines, leaving behind thousands dead, numerous wounded, and still unaccounted for missing persons. The whole world sympathizes in so any ways – from financial aid, material support, facilities, to manpower volunteers.  And for this, I personally thank all you – actually, I cannot thank you enough – for your quick response to help us.

Now, it’s time for us, Filipinos, to rise above the circumstances.  As we rebuild our homes, let us also rebuild our broken hearts and wounded lives. Yolanda may have destroyed our homes and taken what we have had, but certainly it has neither taken away nor flushed out our faith in God (I hope nobody gives in to temptation).  

The fact that we have survived the tragedy means we still have a purpose in life.  We must carry on. I know this is easier said than done, but we have to try even if takes an inch at a time.  After all, we have been known to be a people of great resiliency and integrity.  Let’s get back up again and move forward!

Neighboring countries and strangers have reached out their helping hands to us.  Let us also respond positively to it by holding on to hope and showing them that we can start all over again. We need to be strong.  If our government fails us in some ways for not doing enough as we expected them to be, let us not wallow on that bitterness. Actually, the government is always there to support and assist us.  It is up to us to decide if we are willing to get back on our feet again. 

Reconstruction of infrastructure can be done by so many hands in a short period. But the rebuilding of our lives is a matter of personal choice and the pace depends on our ability to cope.  Leave behind the resentments, and stop blaming anybody else for our predicament. Life is too short to be spent on anger. Let us start all over again.  Only we can make our lives better if we want to.  Let us make use of the assistance we receive from our brethren to move on rather than just depend on it for daily survival. God has given us the gift of resilience, so let’s capitalize on it.

Bangon Visayas!  Bangon Pilipinas!

Bangon

 

Lazi Convent: a national landmark on Siquijor Island


Siquijor Island may be a tiny place, but it is rich in natural wonders as well as in structures of historical and architectural value.  For one, it is home to the largest and oldest convent in Asia.

Lazi Convent
Lazi Convent

The Lazi Convent on the southern edge of Siquijor island is recognized as one of the historical landmarks of the Philippines due to its religious, historical, and architectural importance.  Constructed in 1887 under the supervision of a member of the Augustinian Recollect clergy, Fray Toribio Sanchez,  the convent was built using indigenous coral stones and local hardwood.  It was completed in 1891 and known as the largest in the Asian region and the oldest in the Philippines.

The convent is a very spacious two-storey building, measuring 42 meters by 38 meters in an L-shape form with its façade facing the San Isidro Labrador (or St. Isidore Labradore) Church in the east. The lower part of the convent is made of square-cut coral stone masonry, while its upper part is made of wood. Its steep hipped roof is made of corrugated galvanized iron on timber framework.

San Isidro Labrador Church
San Isidro Labrador Church

Across the convent is the Baroque-style San Isidro Labrador Church, which was constructed in 1857.  Its walls, approximately one meter thick, are reinforced with log posts that are embedded against it. The church’s pediments are made of wooden panels, while its façade is veneered with coral stone.  Its wooden floors are designed in herringbone pattern.

the church's wooden floor
Look at the church’s wooden floor

The San Isidro Church is known for its two pulpits, hand-sculpted images of the Station of the Cross, and the lofty and intricate ceiling vaults.

Here's a closer look at the pulpit
Here’s a closer look of the pulpit

Both the convent and the San Isidro Labrador Church are living evidence of Spanish settlement in the province.  It was by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260 dated August 1, 1973 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 375 dated January 14, 1974 and No. 1505 dated June 11, 1978 that Lazi Convent and San Isidro Labrador Church were declared national landmarks by the National Historical Institute.

Lazi, formerly known as Tigbawan, is one of the six municipalities of the province of Siquijor with a population of more than 20,000. It is 30 minutes away from the provincial capital.

Once in Lazi, you may also want to have a side trip to Cambugahay Falls, two kilometers north from the convent and church.  It’s a multi-tiered falls of fresh warm waters coming from natural springs.

Cambugahay Falls
Cambugahay Falls

Aside from these sights in Lazi, you may also want to visit the island’s pristine white sand beaches, Mt. Bandilaan National Park, caves, and other natural wonders of Siquijor.

To go to Siquijor island itself, you may take a fast craft or boat from Dumaguete City, Cebu City, or Bohol.  Or, if you prefer a guided tour around the island, you may contact your favorite travel agent or visit the local office of the Department of Tourism.

Map of Siquijor Island

Map of Siquijor 

The Wave: reminiscing the Jurassic Age


CATERS-Extraordinary-World-Phenomenons-10-jpg_155613
The Wave

This multi-coloured sandstone rock formation is a popular attraction and hiking destination on the Colorado Plateau, near the Utah and Arizona (USA) border. Believed to be approximately 190 million years old, this natural wonder is truly a gift of God to us.

The Wave has survived millions of weather, may it forever be preserved for our future generations to enjoy!

Barry Commoner: pillar of the environmental movement


On September 30, 2012, the pillar of the Environmental Movement dies. Barry Commoner, the scientist-activist was the man behind the successful campaign of a nuclear test ban treaty in the early 1960s.  He fought against nuclear power because he rightfully knew the negative impact of radioactive waste. He conducted significant researches on the issue and his findings on the global effects of radioactive fallout, which included documentations of strontium 90 concentration in baby teeth of several children, eventually led to the adoption of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

Barry Commner 2

Barry Commoner was well known to have the ability to identify and explain complex ecological crises, and for advocating radical solutions; thus, earning for himself the “pillar of the environmental movement” and founder of modern ecology.  His philosophy was boiled down on four simple principles, namely:

  • Everything is connected to everything else
  • Everything must go somewhere
  • Nature knows best
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch

Commoner was among the scientist-activists who pinpointed the toxic aftereffect of technology development in post-World War II, asserting that environmental problems have something to do with technological advances.  He recalled that he discovered one of his most valuable lessons during World War II.  At the time, he was serving in the Navy and was designated to spray a naval facility on the Jersey shore with DDT to kill mosquitoes, only to find out that the more he attempted to exterminate the insects the more that they increased in number.  Unfortunately still, the fish that normally eat those mosquitoes died. Because of this incident, Commoner became even more determined that humans and nature are, indeed, co-related.

The scientist-activist also exposed the threats of dioxins, put forward the idea of solar energy, and suggested that recycling is a viable way to reduce waste.  Commoner also campaigned for an end to pollution even before it is generated, proposing that this can be done by “ending the taboo against social intervention in the production system.”  But because of his radical stance on certain issues, like population control,  Commoner got into conflict with some of his contemporaries and other environmental leaders, particularly with population expert Paul Ehrlich.

Despite being unpopular, Commoner pursued his candidacy for the presidency in the 1980 American elections to expose environmental issues.  He particularly castigated corporate greed as the primary culprit in the declining condition of the environment.

Historians of the environmental movement, however, acknowledged Barry Commoner as one of America’s most influential ecologists.

Philippines commemorates 114 years of sovereignty


June 12, 1898 marks the day when the Filipino people experienced the taste of freedom! This year the Philippines commemorates 114 years of sovereignty.

Philippine flag

Exactly 114 years ago today, the Filipino revolutionary forces led by General Emilio Aguinaldo, proclaimed the sovereignty and independence of the Philippine Islands on June 12, 1898 from the colonial rule of Spain following the latter’s defeat in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.

This declaration, however, was not recognized by both the United States and Spain. But when the Spanish government later ceded the Philippine archipelago to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War, the US granted independence to the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946 in the Treaty of Manila.  Since then, July 4 was observed as Philippine Independence Day.

However, on August 4, 1964, upon the advice of historians and the urging of nationalists, Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal finally signed into law Republic Act No. 4166 designating June 12 as the country’s Independence Day, or Araw ng Kalayaan.

Moreover,  the Philippines celebrates National Flag Day on May 28 to commemorate the date when the Philippine flag was first unfurled after the Philippine Revolutionary Army defeated the Spanish forces in the Battle of Alapan in 1898.  The celebration, however, extends from this date until June 12, as mandated by Republic Act 8491, or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, where all Filipinos are encouraged to display the Philippine flag in all offices, agencies and instruments of the government, business establishments, schools, and private homes throughout this period.

I may not have experienced how it was during the Spanish era, but I had gone through a period when freedom was once curtailed in this country; when it was common to hear the words political prisoners, political detainees, desaparecidos, massacre, mass grave, and so many gruesome scenes.  It was the time when life was at the hand of a dictator – the period of rule that ended peacefully with flying yellow confetti and ribbons!

However, there is one thing I would want to be revived of that period, and that is, the Green Revolution.  Although, I never understood what it really meant, I can still remember that at my young age (I was about 8 or 9 years old then), we were taught gardening and eating green leafy vegetables for “sustainable development.”  I used to like that program because I enjoyed watching my pechay and ampalaya grow, and ultimately harvesting the fruits of my labor in our front yard, then.  I don’t know, however,  if that sustainable development they were trying to inculcate in us then share the same meaning as it is promoted today.

Anyway, had it not for the effort of our courageous ancestors and relatives, who put their lives on the line for freedom, we would never have known Independence Day.  Perhaps, I could only associate liberty with condensed milk (Liberty brand was a common sight in our home when I was young).

May we, the present generation, learn to uphold and protect the freedom that we have now. Let’s zealously guard that sovereignty against usurpers and people with malicious intent. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Piña fabric: transforming pineapple leaves into eco-wear


Piña fabric finally made a niche in the fashion industry as a world-class material for high-end products, thanks to the local designers’ efforts.

Piña fabric has finally found its place in the fashion industry, thanks to the efforts local designers. The high-end clothing line now sees an increasing popularity among many fashionistas across the globe.

Barong Tagalog
Barong Tagalog

The lustrous Philippine-made piña fabric is made from the leaves of Red Spanish pineapple. It was originally used to make Barong Tagalog, a Filipino men’s formal attire. But as fashion evolves, women have started wearing piña clothes in many formal occasions. 

Properties of piña fabric

Piña fabric stands out above all fabrics because of its regal and timeless properties, particularly:

  • it is fine and translucent
  • it has a similar appearance to linen
  • it’s naturally glossy with high lustre
  • the cloth is softer than hemp
  • it has more texture than silk
  • it’s lightweight
  • it’s easy to care and washable
  • no dry cleaning required
  • it blends well with other fibers

History of the fabric

Piña weaving in the Philippines is an age-old tradition. It originated from Kalibo, Aklan in the western Visayas region.

When aristocrats of the pre-Hispanic period started wearing it, piña clothing almost instantly became the queen of Philippine fabrics.

The material also caught the attention of Spaniards. When they first arrived in the Philippines in 1500s, they were immediately attracted to the oriental subtlety of this indigenous garment.

By the 19th century, piña became an in-demand fabric worldwide. Until the cotton-made clothing was introduced!

Around mid-1980s, piña weaving dwindled, and eventually ceased. It was not able to compete in terms of prices with the cheaper cotton. Plus, the lack of new weavers made it difficult for them to cope with demand. The original weavers have retired due to old age.

Revival of the dying industry

Fortunately, some entrepreneurs stepped in to save the dying piña weaving industry. They started promoting piña Barong among wealthy families and personalities in the Philippines.

Celebrity Carrie Underwood wearing a pina dress.
Celebrity Carrie Underwood wearing a pina dress.

Local fashion designers also saw a great potential in the indigenous material. So, they introduced piña to the international market. They packaged it as an elegant high-end fashion.

Aside from Barong Tagalog and Filipiniana (lady’s formal wear), weavers have also expanded their line of products, to include

  • table linens
  • handkerchiefs
  • bags
  • mats
  • fans
  • paper
  • novelty items

And to showcase their creativity, weavers offer ‘calado’, a manually-embroidered fabric with traditional decorations.

Expensive textile

A 100% pure piña cloth or Barong Tagalog can be very expensive. Owning one could already be considered a status symbol.

To dispel the notion that piña clothing is only for the rich, weavers made a way to bring down its cost. But without compromising quality!  They do this by interweaving piña with other fine fabrics.

  • piña and silk combination is called piña seda
  • a piña and jusi mix makes a stronger piña-jusi fabric (jusi is a fiber made from abaca)

Why piña fabric is expensive

Piña weaving is considered heirloom more valuable than precious gold and silver. Production of the fabric is very tedious and time-consuming. It takes a whole day to make just one-fourth of a meter of cloth. It also requires tons of patience to produce an ensemble.

Despite modern machines, most weavers still prefer to use the traditional hand looming method. Perhaps, there’s some sense of sentimental value attached to it.

How much does pina cost?

Due to its complex production process, piña cloth is considerably expensive at $25 to $35 per yard, or even more. A piña-jusi Barong Tagalog costs between $80 and $90. While, a Filipiniana dress can cost from $150. 

Maintaining a piña fabric

Here are a few tips to make your piña fresh through the years.

  • When washing, soak first your piña clothes in warm water for a few minutes. Use just a bit of mild detergent.
  • If the fabric has turned yellowish, add some vinegar into the water and soak it overnight.
  • Gently hand wash the material.
  • Scrub off dirt with a soft toothbrush. But don’t brush on the embroidery.
  • Rinse it in up and down motion. Do not twist or wring the material. You might ruin the embroidery and the cloth itself.
  • Let it drip dry. You may also lay it flat to dry.
  • Iron your piña on low to medium heat while it is still a bit damp.
  • Cover your piña with a dark cloth to keep it from getting discolored. Store it hanging in a closet.

Sustainability

Piña fabric comes from a sustainable source. Pineapple plants respond better to fungicide-free soil.  And so, they mark a friendlier footprint on the environment. Weavers also use only natural herbs and plants to dye the material used in ‘calado’.

To sum it all up, piña fabric makes a very good eco-wear.

 

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