At the heart of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is MALASAKIT

MALASAKIT. A beautiful Filipino word that, at first, seems so simple enough for translation to English.

However, the more I think about it, the more it becomes difficult to find the correct English word for it. Is it concern for others? Is it a combination of regard and compassion? Whatever the most appropriate translation might be, it may inspire us, Filipino citizens, that the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, the blueprint for our future as a nation, upholds the value of PAGMAMALASAKIT.

The PDP tackles what could be a long-neglected value: pagmamalasakit. Let is shine again, in our hearts, beloved Filipinos!

The PDP tackles what could be a long-neglected value: pagmamalasakit. Let it shine again, in our hearts, beloved Filipinos! (Note: There is significant distortion in image quality so I enjoin you to download the PDP file from NEDA’s website. Believe me, it is a worthy and inspiring read!) [Image courtesy of NEDA, 2017]

For how long ago did we, as a nation, think about our country first more than and beyond our political affiliations and loyalty? If we truly love our country, couldn’t we, for once, stop bickering and complaining and just do something good for our society–one that desperately needs healing?

For the people have already spoken through the ballots and they had chosen a President to whom they entrusted their faith. Let him govern. Let him fulfil his mandate. Let the sanctity of the ballot prevail.

For whichever part of the political spectrum do we come from,  there is no escaping the fact that the President’s downfall will eventually be this country’s as well.

We do not have to agree with him all the time–an authentic democracy allows opposing discourses–but  we cannot also act as if our voice is the only true voice. Here lies the true essence of democracy. Democracy is not just about exercising our freedom to voice out our dissent. Democracy is, more than anything, the capacity to respect, celebrate, and uphold the COMMON GOOD.

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Democracy, more than anything, is about the capacity to respect, celebrate, and uphold the COMMON GOOD.

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Pagmamalasakit and the common good

Undermining and attempting to destroy the chances of our country to move forward is contrary to the common good. When one talks about human rights but forgets the rights of the victims of crime and drug menace, he fails to discern on the meaning of the common good.

The PDP 2017-2022 then takes off from the need to reflect on how can we, as Filipino citizens, create a society where there is true regard and concern (pagmamalasakit) for others. This is the essence of the common good–when we (both as individuals and society) reflect deeply on how will our speech, decision, and action impact on others.

The PDP 2017-2022 could be a unifying document and, hopefully, be a good reason for all of us to work together (despite our political differences). The Plan appeals to our sense of nationhood–an important value (as part of cultural asset) that allowed countries like Japan and South Korea to recover and embark on nation-building from the horrors and destruction of wars and calamities.

The Plan should be read by every Filipino completely but here are key take-aways from the Plan (directly lifted, NEDA, 2017):

1. The Plan aims to lay a stronger foundation for inclusive growth, a high-trust society, and a globally-competitive economy toward realizing the vision by 2040.

2. The target is to reduce poverty incidence from 21.6 percent in 2015 to 14.0 percent by 2022. This is equivalent to lifting about 6 million people out of poverty.

3. Individuals and communities will also be made more resilient by reducing their exposure to risks, mitigating the impact of risks, and accelerating recovery when the risk materializes.

4. Innovation will be encouraged as the country sets its eyes on graduating to a knowledge economy in order to accelerate growth in the future.

5. The strategies to achieve the targets cited above are grouped under three pillars: Malasakit or enhancing the social fabric, Pagbabago or reducing inequality, and Patuloy na Pag-unlad or increasing growth potential.

6. On the kind of life they want for themselves, Filipinos want a life that is strongly- rooted, comfortable, and secure: matatag, maginhawa, at panatag.

7. The terms “strongly-rooted, comfortable, and secure” used to describe the life envisioned by Filipinos by 2040 reveal middle-class aspirations. They include home ownership, a steady source of income to support family and self, college education for the children, a motor vehicle, stable finances to cover daily needs and contingencies, savings for retirement, and time for vacation and travel.

8. To make the people’s aspirations a reality, government must use the various policy instruments in its arsenal to accomplish the following:

(a) investment in human capital so that Filipinos are equipped to learn and adapt to new technology and the changing pro le of society;

(b) investment in high-quality infrastructure to make the cost of moving people, goods, and services competitive;

(c) sound urban development that takes advantage of scale and agglomeration economies to make the cities more competitive and livable; and

(d) adequate and inclusive nance to enable households to build up savings and to provide capital for MSMEs and households considering the desire of many to run their own businesses.  (Source: PDP 2017-2022, NEDA; directly lifted.)

What are we willing to give?

Our country needs us now, more than ever. True pagmamalasakit entails giving up some parts of our selves, for some, even power that we used to hold. Let us not aggravate the mess nor contribute to the noise. In the quiet, there is true discernment.

More importantly, let us have faith in the good men and women of our government–that despite the lingering ills of corruption and deceit there are STILL many good public servants out there, those who are always  doing their best, ready to protect our institutions, constitution, and people – whoever the president may be. Kahit anupaman ang kulay ng pulitika natin–yellow, red, or blue–our veins carry one blood only. That of a Filipino.

Let pagmamalasakit reside fervently in our hearts again.

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This is not a paid blog. I do not request for any donation but I hope you can plant a tree/s on your birthday(s). Namaste!

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

Of love that never dies: When tourism intersects with culture

Reflections on cultural heritage and sustainable tourism

[Note: This is a paper that I had submitted in ENRM 257 – Sustainable Tourism Development, through FIC Ivan Anthony Henares, in my Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management program.]

Cultural heritage – a link from the past, a bridge to the future

Who has not heard of Taj Mahal? It may be the only building in the world that is part of every wanderer’s and traveler’s bucket list.

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India: Beyond words. [Image courtesy of pcwallart(dot)com]

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India: Beyond words. [Image courtesy of pcwallart(dot)com]

  “…one solitary tear would hang on the cheek of time in the form of this white and gleaming Taj Mahal”, as the poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) has described it, perhaps soulfully with a tinge of sadness (as cited in Government of Uttar Pradesh, India, 2014, with adaptation).”

This author has not (yet) been to this heritage site but she is already in awe of what it represents. The Taj Mahal symbolizes a love that never dies, of the beauty of tenderness, of the universal need for union, and for faith in eternity. Who cannot help but wax philosophical in the sight (whether in the flesh or in the imagination) of this grand beauty?

The Taj Mahal, a UNESCO heritage site (inscribed in 1983), is a mausoleum mostly made of white marble. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to remember and in honor of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (UNESCO, n.d.). The Taj Mahal is described as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage” (UNESCO, n.d.). No wonder, many carry the dream of visiting it and those who have done so have never stopped being enthralled by it.

A discussion on cultural heritage and sustainable tourism perhaps becomes richer by taking off from a place like Taj Mahal. It makes serious learners appreciate the concept of sustainable tourism from a place or point of view where they can truly experience and appreciate history.

“Cultural heritage” as a concept must first be revisited. UNESCO (2016) has succinctly explained the concept, delineating between tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

What is cultural heritage?

 Cultural heritage

Tangible cultural heritage

  • movable cultural heritage (paintings, sculptures, coins, manuscripts)
  • immovable cultural heritage (monuments, archaeological sites, and so on)
  • underwater cultural heritage (shipwrecks, underwater ruins and cities)

Intangible cultural heritage: oral traditions, performing arts, rituals

Natural heritage

  • natural sites with cultural aspects such as cultural landscapes, physical, biological or geological formations

Source: UNESCO, 2016.

Heritage sites and experiences are, therefore, important in preserving a society’s rich culture and history. However, except in monumental places like Taj Mahal, efforts to preserve the integrity of such sites and traditions are not always consistent and/or successful.

The Philippines, for example is among the countries that need to learn more from best practices all over the world. There are many examples worthy of discussion but those that come to mind almost immediately are the historical buildings and monuments that are being torn down without regard to their significance, neglected, or allowed to be ‘defaced’ such as in the case of Jose Rizal’s monument in Rizal Park—now sharing a part of the magnificent sightline with Torre de Manila, a 49-storey condominium project of DMCI Homes, one of the Philippines’ top developers.

When the soul is weak, the flesh forgets – lessons and strategies in sustainable tourism

Tourism—both domestic and international—is deemed as crucial in allowing peoples and cultures to interact. It is considered as “the foremost vehicles for cultural exchange, providing a personal experience…” (ICOMOS, 2002). Who has not grown richer and fuller because of the experience of traveling? Human history has evolved because of constant wonderment, traveling, and exploration. Some even choose to stay. The meaning of any ‘exchange’ differs for each person—but what is universal is the experience of inner joy and sense of discovery that such an ‘interaction’ offers. “Touring” always goes beyond the physical—sure, the colors and textures of sites and places always give something to the senses—but what is more powerful are the feelings that are evoked, those that touch one to his deepest core.

Cultural and natural heritage sites speak to the soul and that is why they require a deeply-seated commitment. Why did our society allow Torre de Manila to become the “national photo bomber”? Is it plain forgetfulness or a lack of love for our history? Is it about greed? The Filipinos need to think about it really deeply.

The Jose Rizal Monument – sharing the line of sight with Torre de Manila [Image taken by this author in September 2014. The Torre de Manila is now significantly taller than this.]

The Jose Rizal Monument – sharing the line of sight with Torre de Manila [Image taken by this author in September 2014. The Torre de Manila is now significantly taller than this.]

It is almost shameful, disgusting even. One can only grieve at what became of the great man’s well-deserved spot in Manila’s skyline. We couldn’t leave him alone; what’s worse, even, is that we needed to go to the Supreme Court to protect a part of our history and heritage.

What have we become as a nation?

This touches at the crux of the dilemma. How does a society protect its culture and heritage while succumbing to the demands of survival and commerce? How can tourism be developed and managed without sacrificing our heritage and history?

Sustainable tourism then forces us to think beyond the colors and feasts for the eyes and the fullness of our stomach—it tells us to reaffirm our connection to the past, reclaim what was lost, and protect what is still here as we also optimize and share the economic benefits more equitably. Proponents of sustainable tourism prescribe strategies that can be adapted in tourism development and management, particularly in the context of cultural and natural heritage sites. [See Lindberg et al. (1999) for the list of strategies.]

A quick review of these strategies and best practices will reveal that many or all of these strategies and principles had been violated in most Philippine heritage cases such as the one on Torre de Manila. Clearly, our society does not or fails to adhere to similar standards and values. For one, policies are unclear and even wantonly violated. [This paper is rather limited in its scope but readers are encouraged to read an article by Marquez and Garcia (2015). The link is under suggested readings.]

While best practices elsewhere cannot be automatically adapted in other locations, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the experiences of successful sites. The management and preservation of the Taj Mahal is worth mentioning here. The surrounding area of the monument (covering about 10,400 sq km) is clearly protected not just from obstruction and massive developments but also from pollution.

For example, the Supreme Court of India issued a policy (in December 1996) that banned the use of coal in industries within the Taj Trapezium Zone and mandated industries that use it to shift to natural gas or otherwise be relocated outside the zone (UNESCO, n.d.).

An air control monitoring station has been installed to allow managers to monitor air quality and prevent deterioration that can be caused by atmospheric pollutants (UNESCO, n.d.).

While such air quality measures may be unnecessary for historical monuments (which may be aesthetically ‘lesser’ in grandeur when compared with Taj Mahal) in other locations, the government and private sectors should still be guided by the same level of respect and importance that the people of India are giving their heritage sites, and ultimately, their history and common fiber as a nation. Perhaps inspired by the love of Emperor Shah Jahan to his wife, Mumtaz, there is even a stronger ‘love’ that binds them to the past, enabling their present and future action to be properly placed in the context of sustainable development.

Tourism that cares – valuing people and heritage, alleviating poverty

Sustainable tourism respects not just the physical manifestation of natural and cultural assets but also accords the highest regard for the development potential of people and their communities. It is not simply about giving jobs and employment but more about allowing socially-conscious and equitable exchange of payments and services and rich experiences between and among individuals, families, and communities.  When one visits a heritage site, he should not only think about deriving joys and fulfillment from the experience but also about leaving something valuable behind – whether it be in the form of payment, friendship, or genuine act of kindness and respect. On the other hand, the host should also embrace the experience not simply as another opportunity to earn but also as a chance to celebrate his heritage, history, and roots.

While there are ‘horror’ stories about tourism programs that turned sour (e.g., leading to neglect, losses, damage, and destruction of natural and heritage sites), there are also inspiring and beautiful stories of community development and empowerment. In fact, when planned for and managed well, cultural and natural heritage sites can help improve lives and alleviate poverty. [See World Tourism Organization (2006), for information on how sustainably-managed sites can contribute to poverty alleviation.]

These pathways and strategies have led to significant gains in specific communities all over the world. One of the cases taken up by the WTO (2006) study involved a community-supported project in Karsa District in Ethiopia. Called the Bishangari (“sweet water”) Lodge, it is located on the shore of Lake Langano in sub-Saharan Africa. The project has so far been benefiting the community through direct employment (96% of the staff are locally-hired), assistance to farmers (e.g., through provision of seeds and technical guidance in organic farming), piped water access to the community school, and gradual transfer of technology such as on the development of locally-designed and innovative stove that uses 60% less wood (WTO, 2006).

It is considered a pioneer in ecotourism in Ethiopia—leading the younger set of entrepreneurs toward more responsible tourism enterprises. It promotes an environmentally-friendly way of putting up a business, sparing no cost when it comes to incorporating sustainable energy and waste treatment plant (i.e., solar power and a bio-gas digester) in its over-all design. It is also inspiring because it did not receive any government grant, with owners relying on sound business principles and support from banks through loans. With about 39 local staff, it is estimated to be benefiting about 390 family members. It has also encouraged appreciation of the community’s local culture by forming a musical group that now regularly performs at the lodge (WTO, 2006).

It is also encouraging the community to supply   produce and crops for the consumption of   the   lodge. Meanwhile, local craft makers and artisans are being encouraged to produce handicrafts that could be sold at the lodge’s gift shop (WTO, 2006).

An important ‘credo’ that the owners carry with them as they manage the operations should inspire other entrepreneurs or project developers. They believe that “tourism should only be conducted when the environment, the culture and the nature are respected and preserved for future generations” (WTO, 2006).

Another similar project took place in Candirejo Village, near the Borobudur Temple in Central Java province in Indonesia. Being near a UNESCO-designated World heritage Site, (inscription in 1991) the assistance given to the community by a local NGO, United Nations Development Programme, and Japan International Cooperation Agency was instrumental in the community members’ stronger appreciation of the heritage site and their role as hosts. The project helped families to offer home-stay accommodation, rendered training activities, implemented handicraft-making activities, trained tour guides, assisted and formed catering enterprises, taught farmers in organic farming, and organized the provision of local transport services through andong (horse carts) and ojek (motor bikes) (WTO, 2006). Through the tourism cooperative, profits from the activities are shared and then used to organize and improve community activities such as those for the environment and cultural interaction (Silitonga, 2009).

Striking a balance, dealing with the negative social impacts

Dulnuan (2005) has written about the case of the people of Sagada, which used to be a quiet town in the Cordillera Administrative Region but is now slowly getting used to tourists and visitors. While there had been perceived negative impacts especially on the natural environment and the lives of the indigenous people, those who are engaged in tourism-related activities appreciate the generation of jobs and income that the industry has given them. Young people are directly benefited through rendering of services as tour guides. Local entrepreneurs are able to establish small inns and lodging houses, restaurants, handicraft stores, and transport services (Dulnuan, 2005). Arts and crafts have become sources of revenue as well because local weavers and artists now have the opportunity to produce and sell souvenir items such as friendship bracelets, hand-woven bags, and rattan baskets (Dulnuan, 2005). While the impact on food security and sustainability is not yet fully ascertained, some farmers have shifted from planting subsistence crops to market-oriented produce such as fruits and vegetables, which they now sell to lodging houses, inns, and restaurant (Dulnuan, 2005, with adaptation).

However, such positive outcomes come with a price. There had been accounts of perennial noise, vandalism and theft in the cave sites, crimes, and even drug use (Lapniten, 2016, and Dulnuan, 2005). The local residents had also begun complaining about low water supply particularly during tourism peak seasons. There had also been accounts of stalactites and stalagmites being chipped off by uncaring tourists and of significant amount of garbage (e.g., plastic and styrofoam containers, tin cans, etc.) being left behind. The local life and culture are also being affected with some important rituals being postponed, lessened, or unwittingly opened to guests (Dulnuan, 2005).

There had been gains but there is an over-all feeling of disenfranchisement with some expressing that the rewards are not really reaching the most marginalized. Understandably, only those who can afford to open businesses are the ones who profit significantly from the tourism boom. Project designers and implementers should, therefore, put the necessary mechanisms through which the benefits from tourism can really impact the lives of the people in the most positive way.

Therefore, it is important that communities and the government work hand-in-hand in putting these mechanisms in place. These recommendations may have already been expressed before or done in other locations but, nevertheless, they need to be revisited and implemented soon in the context of community-based engagement:

  • Review and amendment of existing laws and creation of new laws that will address the gaps in governance of heritage sites (e.g., ensuring that local ordinances carry the breathe and depth of national and international policies and declarations);
  • Reforming and enhancing education and values formation programs in both formal and informal settings, allowing us to deepen appreciation of our rich culture and heritage;
  • Creating and strengthening sustainable livelihood opportunities in communities where there are important heritage sites so that people are not unwittingly forced to choose between earning ‘quick bucks’ and the need to protect the integrity of our assets (when people are financially empowered, they are more motivated to act responsively);
  •  Enabling authentic public-private partnerships where profits and rewards are well placed in the pursuit of environmental and societal goals (environment and culture first before profits);
  •  Empowering communities to manage and benefit from tourism sites, practicing shared responsibility, decision-making, and enjoyment of rewards; and
  • Strictly enforcing code of conduct for, between, and among guests/visitors and hosts, deepening shared governance and mutual respect.

The future beckons – and the stories and love that are waiting to be shared

Pearce (1989) has highlighted an important factor when he said that “the social and cultural characteristics of a host community will influence its attractiveness to tourists, the process of development and the nature and extent of the impacts which occur” (as cited in Dulnuan, 2005).

As can be learned in the popularity of the Taj Mahal and places like Sagada and Borobudur Temple, tourists are naturally captivated by places that have deep cultural values. It is, therefore, necessary to respect, preserve, and protect the authenticity of our heritage sites not just because they will draw the tourists in but more importantly, they are our link to the past and bridge to the future.

As what our national hero, Jose Rizal, said “ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa makakarating sa paroroonan.”

References

Dulnuan, J. (2005). Perceived Tourism Impact on Indigenous Communities: A Case Study of Sagada in Mountain Province, Sustainable tourism – challenges for the Philippines. Retrieved from http://dirp4.pids.gov.ph/ris/books/pidsbk05-tourism.pdf

Government of Uttar Pradesh, India. (2014). Taj visitors – Visitors’ perspectives. Retrieved from http://www.tajmahal.gov.in/celebrities_visiting_taj_2.html

International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). (2002). Principles And Guidelines For Managing Tourism At Places Of Cultural And Heritage Significance. Retrieved from  http://www.charts-interreg4c.eu/app/download/5796628919/ICOMOS+International+Cultural+Tourism+Charter+1999.pdf

Lapniten, K. (2016, January 12). Sagada asks visitors to respect sites. Retrieved from http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/travel/ph-travel/118788-sagada-visitors-respect-tourist-sites

Lindberg, K. & Molstad, A. Hawkins, & D. Jamieson, W. (1999). Sustainable Tourism and Cultural Heritage: A Review of Development Assistance and Its Potential to Promote Sustainability. Retrieved from http://files.cargocollective.com/491146/Sustainable-Tourism.pdf

Silitonga, S. (2009). Candi Rejo Village – Community Based Tourism Project in Central Java, retrieved from http://ezinearticles.com/?Candi-Rejo-Village—Community-Based-Tourism-Project-in-Central-Java&id=2043471

UNESCO. (n.d.). World Heritage List – Taj Mahal. Retrieved from http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/252

UNESCO b. (n.d.). Borobudur Temple Compounds. Retrieved from http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/592

UNESCO. (2016). What is meant by “cultural heritage”? Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/illicit-trafficking-of-cultural-property/unesco-database-of-national-cultural-heritage-laws/frequently-asked-questions/definition-of-the-cultural-heritage/

World Tourism Organization. (2006). Poverty alleviation through tourism – compilation of good practices. Retrieved from http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284409204

For a legal opinion on the Jose Rizal monument and Torre de Manila controversy, you may go to this link:

Marquez, B., and Garcia, A., (2015, February). A soaring eyesore: Torre de Manila’s construction threatens Rizal Park’s skyline. Retrieved from http://thepalladium.ph/legal/soaring-eyesore-torre-de-manilas-construction-threatens-rizal-parks-skyline/

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This is not paid blog. There is no request for donation but please plant tree/s on your birthday.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

September tells us to build bridges and hold hands

Namaste, dear friends and readers!

It’s another month of hope and promises amid the challenges of our country (and the rest of the world). I ask you all to continue praying for peace and unity.

Take every chance to hold someone's hands. Build bridges! [Sketch in watercolor by M. Velas-Suarin; inspired by a work found in the Pinterest account of Natasha Dilip. Please write to me if you think that this attribution is erroneous.]

Take every chance to hold someone’s hands. Build bridges! [Sketch in watercolor by M. Velas-Suarin; inspired by a work found in the Pinterest account of Natasha Dilip. Please write to me if you think that this attribution is erroneous.]

Last weekend, I had the time to sit down and make this quick watercolor sketch. I hope this will inspire you to make small gestures of friendships. Let’s hold hands, build bridges, and pray for one another!

May our September be full of joys and opportunities!

Mei_Watermark-4

 

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This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donation but please plant a tree/s on your birthday.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

Tea time in August

Hello, dear friends and readers!

Here is my little sketch for August. This is not a new sketch but I think this is appropriate for the rainy month of August.  :) I actually gave a copy of this sketch for a dear friend of mine for her birthday so I hope she won’t mind that I am sharing it also with you all!

Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee today! [Pen and ink sketch by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee today! [Pen and ink sketch by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

I hope that this sketch in ink will remind you to simply savor quick moments of tea time bonding with your loved ones. As I wrote on the sketch, “Every day brings special reasons for celebrations.”

Go ahead, celebrate your wonderful life!

Mei_Watermark-4

 

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This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donation but please plant a tree/s on your birthday.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

Book Tour of Gelber (Greenest Person on the Planet, 2008)!

Hello dear readers!

I met Matthias Gelber recently and pledged to help him promote his book, The GreenMan’s Guide to Green Living and Working.

 

Cover of Gelber's book, GreenMan's Guide to Green Living and Working. Get a copy for PhP500 only!

Cover of Gelber’s book, GreenMan’s Guide to Green Living and Working. Get a copy for PhP500 only!

Being able to listen to him or read his work offers lifetime opportunities particularly for companies that want to optimize efficiency. Matthias is a professional motivational speaker with experience in 41 countries and voted as the Greenest Person on the Planet in 2008 (3rd Whale, Canada). He has always enjoyed traveling to the Philippines and, in fact, served as Chief Judge of the Miss Earth Philippines Pageant in 2016.

I am helping him spread the word about energy efficiency and climate change mitigation so please contact me if you want Matthias to deliver a talk in your organization/university.  He is so generous with his time and talents that he is waiving his professional fees for the talk as long as you can order 60 pieces of the book at PhP30,000.*

If you want to read the book for your private reading pleasure, you can also purchase the book from me directly at PhP500 (exclusive of shipping cost). We can also arrange to meet in UP Diliman if you are buying a minimum of 3 books (just add PhP50 to cover my transportation).

The book offers practical tips on energy conservation and efficiency and carbon footprint reduction. This is a wise investment especially that the Philippines has among the highest cost of electricity in the world. I still encourage you to book Matthias as his talk is very inspiring. His talk will definitely motivate you, your employees/colleagues, and household members in practicing energy-efficient and environmentally-sensitive lifestyle.

What are you waiting for? Contact me (through the comments section below or the contact page here) if you want to benefit from his talk and this awesome offer.

*Offer is good for August-September 2016. Organizations outside Metro Manila are requested to cover his transportation and accommodation (if applicable) costs.

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This is not a paid blog.  There is no request for donation but I hope you can plant tree/s on your birthday. (Full disclosure: While this is an unpaid blog post, I have a book deal with Mr. Gelber.)

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
Painting in watercolor by M. Velas-Suarin [Inspired by a watercolor painting of Amy Hautman]

Hello, July!

Hello, dear readers and July!

Painting in watercolor by M. Velas-Suarin [Inspired by a watercolor painting of Amy Hautman]

Painting in watercolor by M. Velas-Suarin [Inspired by a watercolor painting of Amy Hautman]

I promised to work on a new sketch every month but decided to spend more time in improving my feed/gallery in Instagram so this month’s sketch is from 2014. (Please head on to my IG page if you have the time? That will really be awesome!)

I am happy with this small achievement (wink! wink!) – putting up pictures (and curating them!) in Instagram is time-consuming because I had to review hundreds of digital files, transfer the chosen ones in DropBox, save them in my tablet, and then upload them in IG. As many Instagram users know, it is quite complicated to post pictures directly in IG through one’s PC/desktop. There are apps available but most reviews do not encourage using them due to some techie issues. Therefore, I decided to use the ‘longer route’ (desktop to tablet/phone).

Anyway, this July sketch is among my favorites in watercolor (so far, that is!). As I had mentioned in my earlier posts, I am not very good with watercolor so this is somehow an ‘improvement’ from earlier attempts. ;) I have always enjoyed looking at doors and windows and I think this is because they remind me of opportunities. (Ok, you all know that popular saying about how a window opens when a door closes!) This sketch will remind us of the many opportunities around us! We just have to keep on looking!

July seems a perfect time also to hone on our artistic skills and enjoy more of our hobbies and  creative inclinations. Perhaps the “dreamy” effect of the rainy season (hear the raindrops on the roof?) enhances our creativity? Whatever the reason may be, I enjoin you to find your quiet corner, call on your creative muses, and simply CREATE!

I hope you’d treasure your creative days in July! Wishing you many more joys and blessings!

Mei_Watermark-4

 

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This is not a paid blog.  There is no request for donation but I hope you can plant tree/s on your birthday.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
One of the towers of the Pililla Wind Farm. May the winds bring you to your dreams! [Image by JR Suarin]

The winds brought me here – thoughts on clean energy (and why a Laguna + Rizal weekend is a must!)

[Note: This post is in three parts. The second and third parts are more personal in nature but the first part will be better contextualized in the second part while Part 3 will be useful for those who want to travel to Laguna and Rizal on a weekend. (In Part 2, you may also be interested to find out how I survived an emergency landing while riding a helicopter!)]

Part 1: Asia Clean Energy Forum 2016

Speakers for the Knowledge Networking event at the Asia Clean Energy Forum 2016 [Image courtesy of ACEF 2016 Organizers]

Speakers at the Knowledge Networking event of the Asia Clean Energy Forum 2016 [Image courtesy of ACEF 2016 Organizers]

I have attended the Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) 2016 (6-10 June 2016) so the almost-impromptu weekend road trip (to Laguna and Rizal) was a perfect way of closing the week. [To know more about ACEF, please visit http://www.asiacleanenergyforum.org/]

As many green energy advocates in the Philippines already know, Alternergy Wind One Corporation has recently built a 54 MW 27-tower wind farm in Pililla, Rizal Province. It was inaugurated in January 19 of this year although the commercial operation began in June 2015 (Saulon, 2016; Velasco, 2016). The technology supplier for the 125-meter tall towers is Spanish firm, GAMESA. (I will share later why I and my husband ended up in Rizal last weekend – particularly for those who are interested to embark a similar road trip).

This year’s Asia Clean Energy Forum, held at the Asian Development Bank, was attended by about 1,500 delegates. I had the privilege to be part of the Knowledge Networking (KN) event on the 1st day – where I was able to share a dream project (“Project: SKY BIKE LANES”), which envisions to build integrated elevated bicycle lanes (with solar energy system) in Metro Manila. As in any infrastructural intervention, it is always necessary to conduct a feasibility study so I am hopeful that through my participation in ACEF 2016, I was able to create the needed “ripples”, which will hopefully lead to supporters and fellow dream-pursuers who can finance the study.

Among other things, the study will calculate expected reduction in motorized traffic volume and GHG emissions as well as health and economic impacts that will hopefully be realized should the sky bike lanes are built. (You may visit https://projectskybikelanes.wordpress.com for further information.)

The KN event was very engaging and interesting –it is not in the usual lecture-type format so it offered more chances for one-on-one interaction. It used a format similar to “speed dating”, where the participants are instructed to go around the room, “pick” resource speakers (with their different topics), stay with their chosen speaker for 10 minutes, and then move on to the next speaker. Since the session lasted for one and a half hours, I assume that I was able to meet and talk to about 60 delegates. (There were 8 chairs for each table/topic.) Moreover, this session ensured that almost everyone in the room will have a good chance of sharing his/her thoughts, albeit quickly, because smaller groups tend to allow more democratic and active participation.

Through this blog, I would like to send my deepest thanks for the organizers including the ADB, US Agency of International Development (USAID), Korea Energy Agency, and World Resources Institute. I also feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to meet the forum’s co-chair, Peter du Pont (USAID’s Climate Change Team Lead and Regional Development Mission Asia) and other renowned clean energy and climate change thought leaders such as Ralph Sims of Massey University, New Zealand and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environment Facility. It was especially meaningful for me because Professor Sims joined my KN table and that he is a passionate biker! (I asked him to promise me that he will bike on the proposed sky bike lanes, if and when these are finally here!)

I have always been a believer of renewable energies, writing about it as early as 2001, when I was assigned as a consultant for the Philippine Climate Change Mitigation project of the Department of Energy (DoE), with support from the US Agency of International Development. One of the outputs of this project is the Guidebook for Developing Sustainable Rural Renewable Energy Services (available at http://www2.doe.gov.ph/Downloads/nre20guidebook.pdf).

In 2004, while I was a consultant of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), I was invited to the International Conference on Renewable Energies in Germany. As far as I know, this was the first biggest international event on renewable energies. This year was a very memorable time for me because it was also then when the first-ever wind farm in the Philippines, the Bangui project (in Ilocos Norte), held its groundbreaking ceremony. Since I was among the few close-in-aides of the DENR Secretary back then, I was assigned to accompany her and the director of the Environmental Management Bureau.

Part 2: Of wind farms and emergency landings (and why angels must really exist)!

Now this is where it becomes more interesting. The Pililla Wind Farm is somehow “connected” to my personal history. It is almost like coming to a full circle because I also found out today that Alternergy, the company that built the Pililla Wind Farm, is headed by Vince Perez. In 2004, Sec Vince (as what we—the aides of the cabinet secretaries–often call him) was the DoE Secretary so he was among the invited guests in the groundbreaking ceremony in Bangui. To save on travel time, some of the government officials who attended the Bangui ceremony needed to take helicopters while another group took a government-chartered plane. The tree of us from DENR (the Secretary, the EMB director, and I), took a helicopter. It was excruciatingly hot that day but the ceremony went well and everyone was in high spirits.

Unfortunately, on the way back to Manila, our chopper experienced a serious technical problem. The battery lost power and since the engine has no more power to fly, we had to do an emergency landing via autorotation (similar to “gliding” in layman’s term). For ordinary mortals like me, it was a very scary experience although it was also the first time in my life that I faced the thought of dying with a very peaceful heart. In fact, I remember praying in my mind with words like, “Oh dear Lord, please…not on a house with people!” [Since you are still reading this, it means that I survived the emergency landing!]

Anyway, before I continue, let me comfort those who will be riding a helicopter soon: “Helicopters are designed specifically to allow pilots to have a reasonable chance of landing them safely in the case where the engine stops working during flight, often with no damage at all. They accomplish this via autorotation of the main rotor blades” (Hiskey, 2015). Therefore, I am a living proof that this autorotation mechanism is definitely crucial. According to Hiskey (2015), the tricky part in this emergency landing is ensuring that the rear of the helicopter will not hit the ground first (you can just imagine what will happen if it does).

To continue – I was normally awake during those chopper rides (it was almost like an unwritten rule) and, in fact, in one of our previous rides, the pilot would give me basic instructions on what to do in cases when either of the pilots (God forbid!) will have emergency situation (e.g., heart attack). Of course, I was not expected to fly the chopper myself but it was somehow ‘comforting’ that the pilots covered all “what if’s”, understanding that I would be flying with them often because of my job.

On the fateful day, when our chopper lost power, the pilot immediately talked to me over the sound system—through my headset–and explained the whole situation. I was instructed to wake the Secretary up–I cannot remember if the EMB director was also taking a quick nap during the flight–and ensure that we were all securely fastened to our seats. If you did not believe in angels, this is a good time to start believing in one.

At the most crucial moments, maybe seconds before we landed, the pilots found a perfect spot where to land—and it was definitely not a house nor a field with corn plants and people! That time of the year was harvest season for corn farmers of Ilocos region so a quick look below revealed a huge expanse of corn fields with farmers scattered all over. The pilots must have been praying hard too because just in the nick of time, they found a perfect spot—an almost spotlessly clean square patch of land, just big enough for a chopper and where the corn plants had already been uprooted. It was like God and all His angels prepared this empty patch in the middle of corn fields just for our chopper’s landing! It was very surreal.

I can imagine that it was also surreal for all the corn farmers who might have seen this ‘bird’ slowly descending from afar onto…their fields! Soon enough, they were all running to us, shaken but exhilaratingly happy! We told them our story. One of them fetched a barangay official, who kindly offered help. It turns out that the pilots (Air Force pilots, mind you) are very thorough and well trained and they only needed to be provided with two truck batteries, which can re-charge the chopper’s battery. (Yes, I also discovered that time that it is possible to charge a chopper’s battery from the batteries of trucks.)

However, there was a catch. They asked us (the three passengers) if we were ok with that solution because that kind of charging only guarantees ‘basic’ flying and one take-off and one landing. That means, the chopper will also not be able to run other navigational aids (and if I remember correctly, even the air-conditioning unit).

I first asked the Secretary and she asked me back the same question so we all ended up somehow asking one another with the same question and then finally deciding in the affirmative. Yes, we will still ride this chopper, we told the pilots. I don’t know why my co-passengers agreed but my key reason is that I have faith in our pilots (who must have been ‘powered’ by immense talents that only God can give). One thing I remember about those crucial minutes from the moment the pilot told me what was happening to the few minutes after we landed safely was sending a quick SMS to about three persons and one of them was…Sec Vince!

I think that the context of my message was, “We just survived an emergency landing, and taking the same chopper – please promise that you will continue building wind farms whatever happens!”, or something as idiotic as that one. He must have thought I had gone crazy but after checking on us and offering to work on finding a chopper to fetch us (instead of the same chopper with the recharged battery!), he sent me an assuring YES to the wind farm request. Therefore, you can imagine the joyful surprise that I had felt when I realized that Sec Vince is the President and CEO of Alternergy! He is keeping his promise! (I am thinking now that I should have made a screenshot of those text messages but realized that the phones back then didn’t have such a capability yet!)

I wish I had kept the flight manifest also so that I can thank our excellent pilots again! They had been very calm, professional, and focused all throughout those challenging moments. The memories still make me feel a little giddy but my gratitude is more empowering. Looking back, I also think that my co-passengers were a little shaken but strangely, perhaps, all of us had been more calm than panicked. It may have helped a lot that our pilots were totally in control of the aircraft and exuded much confidence.

It was big lesson in emergency situation: being scared is normal but keeping a part of our minds focused will surely save our lives! In our situation up there, going into a panic will not help at all and I guess everyone realized that. We were all quiet so I assume that the silence allowed the pilots to concentrate on whatever they needed to do rather than waste time and energies comforting panicked passengers. When the pilots told us to brace ourselves for a possibly ‘hard’ landing, we were all calm. And amazingly, the landing was not so bad. It was as if an imagined “air bubble” cushioned our chopper as it glided–remember, there was no more power so the chopper had to glide naturally–and landed.

Indeed, the winds brought me in ACEF; the winds that helped us land the chopper safely and the winds of those rotating blades in Pililla are the same winds that will bring our dreams to their fruition.

Claim your dreams!

[For a copy of my post, Solar energy for Filipino Households: Is it viable?, please go to this link. http://meilbox.net/solar-energy-for-filipino-households-is-it-viable/]

Part 3: Laguna and Rizal provinces – a fusion of culture, arts, and heritage…and some science!

Despite the very busy week, I did my best to catch the last hour of this semester’s closing ceremony of UP Open University’s non-formal education program last Saturday (June 11). Since we were traveling down south anyway, my husband (JR) and I decided to take this rare chance of going on a road trip. (For those who are not familiar with UP’s distance education system, the OU is part of the UP system, with headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna, near the International Rice Research Institute.) I even sent a quick email to Professor Sims (mentioned earlier), inviting him to the impromptu trip. Unfortunately, he was flying out of Manila that morning.

The road trip was mostly unplanned so we didn’t have time to check the internet for travel notes or even make reservations. Since it was an spontaneous trip, we relied mostly on the very helpful text messages from our good friend, Jay, as we were leaving UPOU. [She and her husband, Ned, are “smitten” with Laguna and after the road trip, JR and I understood why and became equally smitten.]  We decided that instead of going back to Manila via SLEX, we thought it is better to go further north of Laguna and use Manila East Road so we can visit Rizal province, where the Pililla Wind Farm is located.

The map below shows the route that JR and I took: Laguna and Rizal "Loop". The blue stars mark the places where we stopped. [Map courtesy of Google]

Laguna and Rizal “Loop”. The blue stars mark the places where we stopped. [Map courtesy of Google]

Here is a quick rundown of places we visited and things we did (I had numbered the events/places so that you can refer to the map above as you go along):

1-2. STARTING POINT (Home sweet home). From Quezon City, we proceeded to UP Open University (Los Baños, Laguna) through SLEX, stopping by somewhere in Santa Rosa for a quick drink.

3. VICTORIA, Laguna. After attending the closing ceremonies of the Continuing Education Program of UPOU (with hubby patiently waiting), we proceeded north, stopping by briefly in Victoria to buy the town’s famous delicacies—salted eggs and balut (a Filipino delicacy, which is an 18-day-old fertilized duck egg*). I am not a fan of balut but hubby can eat it so Victoria had been agreed upon as a required stop. (Victoria is known as the “Duck Raising Center of the Philippines.”) We were a little disappointed because the main branch of “Mr. Duck” or also known as “Itlog ni Kuya” (Jay and Ned’s favorite, too!) has finished its stock for the day, announcing it on the counter with, “Ubos na po ang itlog, bukas ulit!” (may be loosely translated as “Eggs are sold out, come back tomorrow!”) This made us laugh amid the frustration.

Not wanting to be defeated, we tried the store next door. Unfortunately, when we tried the goodies at home, the salted eggs and balut did not come as close to the ones from “Itlog ni Kuya”. (For expat /foreigner-readers, the translation of “Itlog ni Kuya” is infused with Filipino humor. You need to ask a Filipino friend for the translation and watch for his/her reaction.) Nevertheless, those with salt intake restriction may appreciate the salted eggs next door (right side of Itlog ni Kuya if you are facing the store) because they are not that salty. However, for those who are craving the distinct saltiness of salted eggs, it is better to buy the ones from Itlog ni Kuya. Its website, found at http://www.itlognikuya.com/, has a listing of its outlets.

4. LILIW, Laguna. From Victoria, we then proceeded to Liliw, which is also known as the “Tsinelas (slippers) Capital of the Philippines.” We decided that this is where we will spend the night because it was already getting dark. From Jay’s recommendation, we went straight to Arabela’s Bakehaus & Coffee Shop (Rizal Street) and enjoyed a long lunch-cum-dinner of pasta and pizza. This place is surely a must-try– the food is delicious and priced reasonably.

It was challenging to find a place for the night because it was our first time here (Jay didn’t have any recommendation, too). Appreciating that this will be a “hit and miss”, we lowered our expectations and decided on Batis ng Liliw, which is a spring-water resort located at the foot of Mt. Banahaw in Brgy. Laguan. (For drivers, this is on the right side of the road enroute to Liliw, right after Nagcarlan.) The rooms here are very basic but you will love the owners, a nice old couple who graciously welcomed us and advised us about the schedule of the masses the next day, Sunday. (I googled for their names and they are Mr. and Mrs. Milagros and Carmelino Arrieta. Thank you, po, Ma’am Mila and Sir Carmelino, for welcoming us!) We were somehow “namahay” (the experience of finding it difficult to sleep when one is new to a place) but eventually lulled to sleep by the sounds of the flowing streams from Mt. Banahaw and the room’s air-conditioning unit.

The next morning, we said quick goodbyes to the owners and were able to reach St. John the Baptist Parish Church just as the 8:00 am mass was beginning. The Church is beautiful, with its red bricked façade and baroque style architecture. It was first built as a wooden church in 1620 (Huerta, 1865).

St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Liliw, Laguna [Image by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Liliw, Laguna [Image by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Of course, one should never leave Liliw without visiting the rows of slippers and shoe shops. The footwear products are reasonably-priced and looked durable enough. (I couldn’t attest to the quality yet but a quick Google search revealed happy customers who shared their satisfaction when it came to durability.) We liked the big slippers by the entrance doors of most of the shops so a souvenir photo is necessary!

Liliw is definitely a haven for footwear fanatics! [Image by JR Suarin]

Liliw is definitely a haven for footwear fanatics! [Image by JR Suarin]

5. MAGDALENA, Laguna. From Liliw (enroute to Paete), we decided to make a quick trip to Magdalena to visit another old church, which was built in 1829. (Trivia: Magdalena is also known as “The Little Hollywood of Laguna”, it being a favorite location for Filipino films. The local government even built a sort of replica of Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame.”) Here is a picture of the Santa Maria Magdalena Parish Church. (Note that all pictures in this post had been taken through an iPad only.) If you want to see more pictures of the Church, please go to Jay’s blog at https://nakisnanay.blogspot.com/2011/04/magdalena-laguna.html

The Santa Maria Magdalena Parish Church in Magdalena, Laguna [Image by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Santa Maria Magdalena Parish Church in Magdalena, Laguna [Image by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

After our prayers at the Church and some more picture-taking, we decided to enjoy a cold and refreshing drink: chocolate-flavored carabao’s milk. You can grab this at a store near the church (left side if you are facing the park fronting the church). We reminded ourselves to bring a cooler full of ice if we want to bring home kesong puti (white cheese) and carabao’s milk on our next visit. (If you want to read more about the growing carabao milk industry in the Philippines, please visit http://www.pcc.gov.ph/newsdisplay.php?sq=269&id1=1)

6. LUMBAN, Laguna. On the way, we cannot help but stop at a good vantage point in Lumban to enjoy a view of scenic Laguna de Bay. Lumban is considered as “The Embroidery Capital of the Philippines.” Here, you will find the works of Lumban’s artisans on fabrics such as jusi and cocoon. Textile and clothing are not among my expertise so I searched online and found a good read: http://thestylishscholar.tumblr.com/post/41609376023/a-trip-to-lumban

The LGU put up a marker (with gigantic letters to spell out the word “Lumban”) along the highway overlooking the bay so we were also enticed by it to stop briefly so we can appreciate the view. As we didn’t bring a DSLR, we can only take a picture with one of the big letters. B is for beautiful!

The Laguna de Bay from a ridge in Lumban, Laguna [Image by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Laguna de Bay from a ridge in Lumban, Laguna [Image by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

7. PAETE, Laguna. From Lumban, we then proceeded to Paete, which is “The Carving Capital of the Philippines.” If you are looking for authentic wooden art pieces, sculptures, and religious statues, Paete is the perfect place for you. I chanced upon this site where you can read more about its culture and history: http://www.paete.org/abtpaete/  Meanwhile, a blogger had shared a lot of pictures so you can visit this link and have an idea on what to find in Paete: http://www.reach-unlimited.com/p/713686412/amazing-paete–that-custom-woodcraft-wundertown-hiding-in-laguna

JR and I did not linger here so much because we wanted to “reserve” the long exploration for our next visit.

8. PAKIL, Laguna. Enroute to Pililla, Rizal, we saw another beautiful church along the highway. We found out that this is called Saint Peter of Alcantara Parish Church, which is already in the municipality of Pakil. The original wooden structure was said to have been built in 1676. It is “home” to Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba (or simply “Virgen de Turumba”). Because of the faithful’s deep reverence, they have been giving Our Lady with embroidered gowns all through the years that it has reached 50,000 already! Because of this, Our Lady changes gowns every two weeks. The gowns are then cut up into pieces (after being worn by Our Lady) and then given to devotees. The source of these bits of history and where you can read a more detailed story is here: https://marilil.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/pakil-laguna-a-church-for-every-juan-de-la-cruz/

The St. Peter of Alcantara Parish Church (Shrine of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba)[Image by JR Suarin]

The St. Peter of Alcantara Parish Church (Shrine of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba)[Image by JR Suarin]

Before reaching Pililla, one should also stop by the roadside stalls for the other bounties of Laguna—the sweetest bananas, mangoes and pineapples! I was pleasantly surprised that the mangoes of Laguna are as sweet as the ones I have tried in Guimaras (and they are as cheap, too)!

9. PILILLA, Rizal. On the way back home (in Quezon City), we passed by Pililla, Rizal, where you can find the 27-tower wind farm. With the other wind farms in the Philippines (including those in Bangui, Burgos, Caparispisan, and Puerto Galera), our installed capacity now reaches about 400 MW (SunStar Davao, 2016).

Pililla Wind Farm (by Alternergy Wind One Corporation) [Image by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Pililla Wind Farm (by Alternergy Wind One Corporation) [Image by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The brief visit to the wind farm inspired me further to continue working on the promotion of renewable energies. In fact, this is among the primary reasons why I am writing this post! I hope that by reading this, more Filipino companies and investors will be inspired to build more RE plants! I predict a future where fossil-based electricity will become less and less viable.

One of the towers of the Pililla Wind Farm. May the winds bring you to your dreams! [Image by JR Suarin]

One of the towers of the Pililla Wind Farm. May the winds bring you to your dreams! [Image by JR Suarin]

10. ANTIPOLO, Rizal. Of course, the best part of traveling via the Rizal route is the enjoyment of a delicious meal in one of the restaurants along Sumulong Highway. There are perfect spots there where one can have a good view of the Metropolis. As we didn’t have time to research prior to this trip and it was a challenge to simply stop every time we fancy a new place (Sumulong is not meant for tentative driving), we ended up in a familiar establishment, Padi’s Point. The owners really need to improve the place and the menu but this is still a very good spot for enjoying the urban scenery from afar.

This had been a very enjoyable albeit an impromptu weekend travel, filled with talks, arts, history, food, prayers, and yes – appreciation of clean energy! JR and I decided that a longer trip to Laguna and Rizal should be planned again! (And of course, we promised to do a better research next time!)

References:

Hiskey, D. (2015). How helicopters are designed to land safely when engines fail. Retrieved from http://gizmodo.com/how-helicopters-are-designed-to-land-safely-when-their-1708128868

Huerta, Felix de (1865). Estado geográfico, topográfico, estadístico, histórico-religioso. Binondo: Imprenta de M. Sanchez y Ca.

Saulon, V.V., (2016, January 20). Another wind farm eyed in Laguna-Rizal. Retrieved from http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=another-wind-farm-eyed-in-laguna-rizal&id=121821

SunStar Davao. (2016, January 24). Philippines is top wind energy producer in ASEAN. Retrieved from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/business/2016/01/24/philippines-top-wind-energy-producer-asean-453487

Velasco, M. (2016, January 22). Alternergy plans wind power project expansion. Retrieved from http://www.mb.com.ph/alternergy-plans-wind-power-project-expansion/

For a videoclip on the Pililla Wind Farm, you may go to www.getlinkyoutube.com/watch?v=k-0a0q7C1lo

*A good article about balut is at http://eatyourworld.com/destinations/asia/philippines/manila/what_to_eat/balut

_____________

This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donation but please do plant trees on your birthday/s.

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June celebrates the beauty of love that commits and grows over time, as if a beauty that never fades. Sketch and text by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin  [The sketch is inspired by the work of SlashPinSlash at Pinterest]

June celebrates the beauty of commitments

Happy month of June, my dear friends and readers!

Here is my sketch for the month of June. I promised to make a new sketch every month but this time around, it is not really a new sketch. Nevertheless, I hope you will still like it.  I was browsing through my PC’s folders and came across this sketch of mine and felt instantly that this will be perfect for June! A woman epitomizes beauty and June, among other things, is a month for marriage vows and beautiful brides!

June celebrates the beauty of love that commits and grows over time, as if a beauty that never fades. Sketch and text by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin  [The sketch is inspired by the work of SlashPinSlash at Pinterest]

June celebrates the beauty of love that commits and grows over time, as if a beauty that never fades. Sketch and text by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin [The sketch is inspired by the work of SlashPinSlash at Pinterest]

For many people, June is a perfect time to get married. In fact, many women dream of becoming or had become a “June bride”. The tradition of getting married in June was said to have began in the Roman times, when people celebrated June 1 to honor the deity Juno and his wife Jupiter, the goddess of marriage and childbirth (Malone, 2015).

We need to understand that June is the start of summer in most regions of the north (we in tropical zones do not really experience four seasons) so it is fair to say that a primary reason for the popularity of the June weddings is convenience. This is perfect for long holidays and when the weather is still relatively comfortable even for outdoor or garden weddings.

Nevertheless, even in countries like the Philippines, June is still a preferred month for many couples. Statistically though, the most popular wedding months for Filipino couples are February and May (PSA, 2011). Interesting, isn’t it? My guess for this preference is that February is the “love month” and still comfortable enough for weddings. Meanwhile, May is the last month of the usual 3-month (March-May) break from school (at least in the general sense because some schools are now beginning to follow the western academic calendar). May also ushers the rainy season in so while there are risks for a rainy wedding day, the weather is not as unpredictable as in the months of July to October. (For those of you who got or intend to get married in May, please feel free to write to me and let me know your thoughts and reasons!)

I then want to wish would-be June brides the most beautiful and memorable weddings and all married and soon-to-be married couples the most loving, exciting, and inspiring marriages–bound in everlasting love, profound kindness, and strong faith in the divine.

For my hubby, my dear Papa Bear, happy 7th anniversary! We are beginning our 8th year together as a married couple (and 10th as friends!) and my heart is forever full of gratitude for the wonderful memories that we have created and are still creating every minute of our life together! Thank you so much! It is definitely not a joyride all throughout but we know that with God as our navigator and torch bearer, we will never ever be lost.

____________________

This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donations but I hope that you can plant trees on your birthdays!

References:

Malone, S. (2015). The tradition of the “June Bride”: Why are summers weddings so popular?. Retrieved from Huffingtonpost(dot)com/sandy-malone/the-tradition-of-the-june-bride-why-are-summer-weddings-so-popular_b_6752812(dot)html

Philippine Statistic Authority. (2011). Marriage Philippines: 2011. Retrieved from psa(gov)gov(dot)ph/content/marriage-philippines-2011

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