Saturday, February 28, 2009

If Barili, Cebu Can Do it, Why not the City of Cebu?

I found the following information about Barili, Cebu. If Barili can be clean, why not the actual City of Cebu which should have more resources???? And note - Barili drains their canals regularly! And why doesn't the City of Cebu drain the downtown Cebu canals????? Really, I'm thinking City Officials can make a stronger stance about City cleanup, especially the canals/creeks of downtown Cebu, of which I've written about.


Absence of eyesores. The Municipality of Barili, Cebu is different from some other cities and towns in terms of certain aspects of general cleanliness. Practically there is an absence of unsightly posters, advertisement billboards, graffiti and abandoned junks. Open space is utilized for the planting of fruits and forests trees.

Well-maintained drainage and sewerage system. Drainage system in the public market and slaughterhouse and other public places are properly maintained as can be observed during the assessment. There are no garbage or litters inside the canals. Free-flow water is evident during the evaluation. De-clogging of drainage canal is regular and done by maintenance men of municipal government. Store and market stall owners also help prevent the clogging of canals with solid wastes by maintaining the cleanliness of their immediate vicinity.

Presence of well-kept public toilets. Public toilets are generally clean. These can be found practically in all public places. Comfort rooms in the municipal hall were found to be very well maintained and the same is true with those at the market, where the surroundings were planted with ornamental plants. Water is provided in all these comfort rooms.

Clean public market/slaughterhouse. Public market is generally clean, free from garbage and litters. Fish and meat stalls are provided with water for flushing. Garbage receptacles are present where collected wastes materials are place for disposal by the garbage collectors.

On the other hand, the municipal abattoir is well drained and properly maintained. No evident of scattered carcasses trimmings, were present, foul odor inherent to slaughterhouse are reduced to the minimum.

Presence of Trash receptades. Trash receptacles are color-coded. Each set three drums, painted red (for plastics), green (for tin cans and bottles), blue (for leaves, papers etc.). These garbage are collected daily by the two garbage trucks of the LGU.

Presence of Garbage collection and Disposal System. To complement the two garbage trucks that collect the garbage of the town daily, Barili was able to acquire four (4) mechanized grass cutters and shredder machine, which sheds big masses of garbage such as leaves to be decomposed in the compost pit. The decomposed materials can be used as organic fertilizer.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Writers Sketchbook at UCLA Extension

I thought I'd write a bit about the class I'm teaching now at UCLA Extension's Writers Program. It's called the Writers Sketchbook and it's the second time I'm teaching this class. It's a six-week class that focuses on what I call sensual writing - that is writing so that your readers can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel as they read your work. Readers should be able to imagine the scene you have created, experience what you are trying to express, take that journey along with you or your characters.

The class is an opportunity for students to fine tune their work, or to gather drafts. Many times, first drafts are skeletal and lack the type of sensual writing I'm talking about. Writers can flesh-out the "skeleton" to enrich their work.

Many people don't realize that it's not easy to create a sense of place or to describe a person. Today we focused on taste, and we read a food article from LA Times that went on about salt-roasting lobster, pork, etc. For our in-class exercise I had my students write about some food they hated or loved. What I was teaching them is the matter of Point of View - that is, there is no one way to describe a place or face or smell or taste or feeling - it's dependent on who the narrator is. We got excellent results.

The students are also trained to pay attention to details and to be specific.

I also have a good group of students!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


"But they that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall take wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 (From the song sang in church today.)

Ash Wednesday today - St. Monica's crowded. I went to neighboring St. Paul's to park and got scolded for parking there, although I understood that during weekdays it's all right to park in their not-full lot. The parking lot attendant asked, "Are you going to Mass?" with a scowl on his face. I said, "Yes," happily. "You can't park here." I explained that I understood it was all right to park there during the week, not the weekend. He said he knew nothing about that, and I moved my car. Tsk, tsk, St. Paul's for being so un-Christian.

St. Monica's was crowded - standing room only. It was a great Mass, and the ash on the forehead always brings back childhood days. I almost laughed though when I walked down the aisle and saw all these people with the black Cross on their foreheads. For just a heartbeat, the scene actually looked spooky.

OK - Monsignor Torgesen is giving up sweets. I'm not sure what I'll do for Lent. I'm thinking of re-reading The Diary of Faustina.

And there are practical things like replanting the garden and getting the house in shape for Easter.

Meantime, I've started teaching Writers' Sketchbook at the Writers Program at UCLA Extension. We had our first class last Thursday. I've got a great group with great energy.
Photo shows Joe Biden (Can I call you, Joe?) - courtesy of

Sunday, February 22, 2009


My friend, Marily Orosa, lost her husband,Joe, last January to cancer. This article by Josefina T. Lichauco appeared in The Philippine Star.

Business Life
A belated Valentine love story
HINDSIGHT By Josefina T. Lichauco Updated February 23, 2009 12:00 AM

This love story was meant to be published the Monday after Valentine’s Day, but my workload piled up and I was not able to meet the deadline. I usually write on Internet law, but on occasions like Valentine’s, Christmas and New Year, I deviate from my usual topic.

This is a love story that has to be written. It is within this context that I write it — it touched the heartstrings of everyone that was part of the spiritual process where His Creator claimed back Jose de Santos Orosa for his congregation in heaven on Jan. 26, barely three weeks ago.

My family has known the Sixto Orosa Jr. family from the time I was a young kid playing badminton with the Orosa brothers, together with my sisters. Joe Orosa’s father was nicknamed “Ting” and was bank president in his time. I’d see him and his wife, Tita Edita, at my late parents’ parties after we, the kids, lost touch with one another, as we pursued further studies abroad and thereafter forged lives of our own.

It was only when I met Marily Ysip-Orosa at a number of common political endeavors that I met Joe again after so many years. Immediately, upon seeing the two together, what struck me about this married couple — a second marriage for both of them since both were widowed — was the remarkable intellectual synergy and rapport that existed between the two. It was not only remarkable but also absolutely impressive.

Being a widow myself, what I kept going over and over in my mind was the fact that these two high-powered individuals found each other and fell in love — in fact, fell in love so mightily to bravely marry each other the second time around. I am convinced now, however, that when the Lord has a hand in it, love flows, as Joe said at one time, “effortlessly.”

Certainly I agree with those who believe in love. In fact, I believe not only that love makes the world go round; love is what makes the ride worthwhile. Let me go one step further for I subscribe to the theory that the only abnormality in life is the incapacity to love.

In the case of Joe and Marily Orosa, Kahlil Gibran’s words are so applicable: “To love is to admire with the heart; to admire is to love with the mind.” There was indeed a love so great that even in the darkest moments during Joe’s journey back to His Creator, Marily guided him not only with her heart but also with her mind constantly. If anyone has ever doubted that true love really exists, that someone will immediately be constrained to relinquish that feeling.

And there was likewise an admiration for each other, so outstanding, that friends like me could not help but appreciate.

I cannot just call Joe and Marily’s meeting each other as simply arranged by destiny, for it was God that made certain that the two would meet. About eight months into Joe’s widowhood, he hosted a lunch at the Manila Polo Club. On the agenda was an audiovisual presentation (AVP) to raise finances and gather support for a Christian school expansion and relocation.

Businesslike and brief though the AVP was, Joe was impressed by, in his own words, “the courage and strength of character of the presenter.” Marily had been widowed less than a month before and she was making this efficient and brisk presentation so well. Their pastor had asked Marily to take on the job of crafting and making the presentation needed by their Christian congregation. She was requested to work with one of the prominent members of their church, Joe Orosa, who had accepted the chairmanship of the project. In spite of Marily’s protestations because it was soon after she was widowed, she could not refuse the pastor. In an essay she wrote, she said she “acceded reluctantly, hoping obedience to a man of God would get me closer to heaven.” That, indeed, was the Lord working in His strange way.

The business meetings soon graduated into friendly dinner dates. Joe had written in an essay likewise that he had been invited to write on his widowhood and eventual meeting with Marily, that he “started to take notice of this woman of character, beauty, grace, wit and humor.” As Joe himself had said, through five years of courtship, God guided and strengthened us, “especially in the areas of patience, relationships, and dealing with our past.”

In spite of this fundamental identity as far as intellectual compatibility was concerned, Marily, however, says in the same book of essays, which was published in 2002, that she was “amazed at how wonderfully opposite we were. I was talkative and an extrovert; he a man of few words and an introvert. I was bubbly; he, serious. He loved Pavarotti; I, the Bee Gees! He enjoyed the sea; I, the mountains. I hated oysters; he could consume a plateful of them! He insisted on “fine dining”; I was constantly watching my newfound figure and was content with a salad. He was always punctual, and me, late. Rose Yenko, my psychologist friend, ventured to say that Joe kept my feet on the ground. I liberated him from his seriousness. Happily our love blossomed in this fertile soil of diversity” (excerpts taken from the book From This Day Forward).

From this fertile soil of diversity sprang a unity of purpose to serve God and to clasp each other’s hands in solidarity. And there was indeed that fundamental intellectual harmony that created the opportunity for love and admiration for each other to blossom and prosper in the manner it did.

They were intellectual equals. Marily had founded and was president of Studio 5 Designs, Inc., involved in various aspects of visual communications such as corporate literature, marketing and sales collaterals, special arts events, calendars, etc. She was head of a highly competitive group, responsible for the excellent quality of its products and services produced by the company for its clients. In this capacity, Marily was the main reason for bringing to the company multiple awards for works designed and developed for Studio 5’s clientele. She had majored in Communication Arts in college and came prepared, armed with her degree, to undertake such a business.

Marily Orosa is an entrepreneur par excellence and the complete businesswoman.

Joe Orosa graduated cum laude from the De La Salle University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce with Accounting as his major, so it was but natural that Marily sought advice from him and made him chairman of the board of the firm that had now expanded into publishing. The union of two great minds produced what Studio 5 is today.

The couple worked together on a great number of publications. But more than anything, to my mind, the most remarkable achievement of Joe was his being project director of the Every Nation Leadership Institute, Inc., a leadership training and development institute located at the Universal Park of Fort Bonifacio Global City. He is committed to the vision of training a new generation of leaders in the Christian ministry, business, public governance, sports and media. It is one of the most beautiful edifices in the Global City.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that all of the above was brought about by that formidable combination of spiritual, intellectual, and business synergy that existed between Joe and Marily Orosa.

But I am getting ahead of my story. After all, this was intended to be a belated valentine love story.

On Dec. 21, 1993, six years after they were both widowed, and five years after they first met, Joe and Marily were wed in a wonderful garden ceremony at the then Westin Philippine Plaza. For a backdrop, the two professed their marriage vows against the golden sunset of Manila Bay.

After approximately 15 years of a marriage beyond compare, Joe Orosa passed away peacefully and beautifully with his loved ones around him. According to Marily, no matter how heartrending her grief is, she knows so well that Joe would want her to carry on bravely. Her reminiscences of her husband are touching. She was only 40 when she met Joe, who was eight years her senior. She remembers 15 qualifications for a future husband that she drew up after she was first widowed. She did not know Joe yet when she made the list. He found out about that list, asked for it from her, and kept it in his wallet for 20 years.

Joe gave her beautiful red roses several times a year with a handwritten note always. And especially on Valentine’s Day, the red roses would be there with the day ending in a romantic dinner for two.

After Joe was diagnosed with cancer and became seriously ill in spite of all the medical procedures and medications here and abroad, there were no roses for Marily. But this time, Marily surprised Joe with a beautiful note that said in simple words: “To my husband, my best friend, I love you every day, and Valentine’s Day gives me just another reason to tell you how much love you bring to my life. You are always there for me … you make me feel secure, cherished and loved. Your trust has helped me to reach beyond myself and to become all that I can be. You are my best friend and my favorite person to be with. You are a wonderful man and I am proud to be your wife. I love you. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

On the first day after his passing, I paid tribute to Jose de Santos Orosa at the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes, for leading such an exemplary life. Beneath his casket was a little round table with 15 lovely red roses (15 years of marriage) that said: “I love you, honey-pie.”

I know that even now, there is still that synergy that goes on between Joe and Marily Orosa. Death could not just break this up. I myself am an incurable romantic, for which reason this love story had to be written.

Sophocles so wisely said: “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. That word is love.”

* * *
Photo shows Marily and Joe Orosa on their wedding day, Jan. 21, 1993

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some publicity re Handumanan

Some friends have forwarded links with articles re the Handumanan Carnaval Event:

Proud to be Pinoy, by Honey Jarque Loop

Cebu Lifestyle - By Invitation Only: Handumanan, by Marlinda Angbetic Tan


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Monday, February 16, 2009

Battling Bastards of Bataan, by James Litton

I got this from Edmundo Litton:

Dear Cecilia,

My dad wrote about his experiences during the Battle of Manila. See below for the link. It may be of interest to you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


When I'm in the Philippines I walk a lot, both in Makati as well as in Cebu. I enjoy walking in fact, and make it a point to walk to church or some other point of destination, just to get the exercise.

I've noticed however that my Filipina friends hardly walk. I am not sure they get very much exercise at all. I've seen them struggle to walk a few blocks. It doesn't seem to be part of the culture to exercise. Even for short distances they have their drivers take them, or they take a taxi - and I'm talking about 4-5 blocks.

My mother liked to dance and walk; when she was young, she even played basketball. I think some of that rubbed off on us her children because we used to make some effort to take daily walks.

I've traveled with some Filipina friends and I've noticed that they get tired quickly. They are generally slender but they lack stamina. I know several who already need canes!

I wonder if the younger generation of Filipinas exercise more than my generation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Here are some favorite pictures of exteriors and interiors of buildings from places we have visited, including: Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ireland, Italy, Philippines, France, Nicaragua, Panama, Egypt, and more...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The recent January Sinulog festival in Cebu City drew approximately a million people. That's a lot of people. There were quite a lot of foreigners - Europeans, Americans, balikbayans. The city was packed with people.

Anyway, one day during the Sinulog week, I walked down Logarta Street in Historic Cebu, and I saw a foreigner, a young man, gawking at the creek or canal under the historic bridge there. I forget the historic designation of this particular bridge, but there is a plaque beside it that Mayor Tommy Osmena put up a number of years ago.

To my great embarrassment, this foreign young man looked with horror at the filth in the canal; and indeed it was dirty. It had every bit of imaginable filth in there - plastic, paper, dead things, no doubt excrement from the slum houses that jut out over the canals. Really, I was filled with such shame. I have been very enthusiastic about the gentrifying of historic Old Cebu, and have lauded the efforts of the Aboitizes with their work in Casa Gorordo Museum and RAFI, and the tireless enthusiasm and creativity of Val Sandiego; and the Cathedral Museum people are also doing their share. In fact the Cathedral is sprucing up the church, sidewalks, and lot in front of the church. There is so much improvement going on, and I've been so proud of it, but my stomach churned when I saw the expression of disgust on this foreigner's face, and frankly the canal was repulsive. You could have caught every disease on earth if you fell in it. Such filth near human beings is not sanitary. Even animals know to defecate and urinate far away from where they sleep. I've heard of cases of dengue in Cebu - haven't people considered that dirty places such as these rivers and canals just may be responsible?

I mentioned Cebu's dirty rivers, creeks, and canals to some people. The answer I got was that the dirt is coming from higher areas, not just from the downtown Cebu. I'm not sure about this, because I can see that the rickety houses with makeshift rooms hanging over the creeks are probably using these creeks as their toilets. They do not think twice about throwing garbage into these creeks, or on the streets for that matter.

Cebu officials ought to do something about this problem. It's one thing to be poor, another to be dirty. One can be poor and clean. It is inexcusable, unpardonable to be dirty. In fact it is unsanitary to the point of risking the lives of children when such filth is right under people's noses. Germs live there; germs cause diseases.

For starters, is it not possible for someone to rake the floating debris off the water? Even that effort could make the creeks look 80% better. If Cebu has street sweepers, how about canal cleaners?

And if the debris is coming from higher areas, can't the people who live there, as well as those who live downtown, be educated about cleaning our rivers and creeks?

In 2000, Manila decided to clean up the equally filthy Pasig River. I remember that the Pasig River used to be so dirty, no fish lived in it. It was covered with plant life, which meant the river itself was dead. Well, Manila got a financial assistance package of $176 million, approved by the Asian Development Bank. I can say that the program definitely worked. I have taken the ferry down the Pasig and have seen fish in the Pasig. The river is for the most part sparkling clean. There are slogans painted on walls, constant reminders that the river is our life. Click here to read about the clean-up program of Pasig.

I say that if the Pasig River could be cleaned up, the rivers and creeks of Cebu can also be cleaned up. But we need government involvement, and we need public participation. We need education, a heightened consciousness that there is a problem, and that each one can do something to solve the problem.

I understand there is now a cleanup program for the Guadalupe River (click here to read article City Uses Korean model for river rescue plan); why don't we extend that cleanup program to include the downtown creeks? If Korea cleaned up their river in three years and turned it into a major attraction for locals and tourists, so can Cebu.

Water is vital to life. I hope that the people of Cebu, whether they be in the government or private sector pay attention to this problem. Maybe City officials who are now starting to see the tourist potential of Historic Cebu can do something to clean up our rivers, creeks, and canals. It's not just about tourism; it's basic hygiene. These rivers, creeks, canals are serious health hazards. Imagine where the water from these rivers, creeks canals go - straight to the sea; imagine fish and other living things in that sea bombarded by all that filth; imagine our fishermen catching fish from that sea; imagine that same fish on your dining table. It's just all a cycle.

I'm posting some clean canals in other places: Bangkok, Amsterdam,Venice, Norway, and yes the Pasig. They are clean, they are tourist spots. If they can have clean rivers and creeks, so can Cebu.

For more information, read below:
MMDA Plans to Clean-up and Rehabilitate Metro Manila's Rivers
President Orders Pasig River Rehab
How to Organize a River Cleanup

The Freeman published this article in their Opinion Section - here

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Remembering the Bee Farm in Bohol, Philippines

It’s raining here in California and I’m still jetlagged, so I thought I’d write about our trip to Bohol two years ago. A group of us stayed in the Bee Farm, a very nice hotel in Bohol, right along the sea, although the seashore is rocky and full of corals. Nonetheless the view of the sea was spectacular, and the rooms in the Bee Farm were nicely done with bamboo furniture and there were plenty of windows, making the space look bright and airy.

There were nine of us: 4 high school classmates – Tillic, Mila, Darn, and Tessa; plus husband Lauren, and American friends Doug, Elizabeth and John.

Two memories crowd my mind right now. First was the whale watching boat trip that the “girls” and Lauren took at dawn. Off they went on an outrigger boat to see whales and dolphins. It must have been around 4:30 a.m. when they left. At 7 I got up and looked out the window and saw their boat in the distance. I thought they’d get back in thirty minutes and so I slowly pulled myself together. After half an hour, I looked out the window again and saw that their boat was still far from shore. I think I crawled back into bed and dozed off. When I awoke and went downstairs, I was surprised that they hadn't arrived. Just when I was about to try and find out what had happened to them, the group straggled in, soaking wet, feet and legs bleeding.

What had happened was that the tide was low when they returned and the boat couldn’t come close to shore. The boatman didn’t think to dock them someplace else. The girls, counting on Lauren, gave him their cameras, cellphones, and other valuables, carefully and trustingly hanging these around his neck. He jumped in, and to the surprise of the girls, the water reached his neck. What this meant was that someone like Mila, who couldn’t swim, could… well… drown. In any case, the four girls did jump into the water, and all five of waded through the corals and urchin-laded rocky shore until they made it ashore. They had urchin spines embedded in the soles of their feet, cuts everywhere, and yes, their cell phones and cameras got wet. But their spirits were high and they were all laughing at their adventure. Instead of urine for the urchin spine – the usual cure – they used vinegar as suggested by a dentist who was also staying in the Bee Farm.

So that was one incident, the other one is not quite so dramatic. Tillic had talked about the wonderful massage she got at the Bee Farm, so Elizabeth and I decided to try it. We made an appointment at sunset, and the massage place was an enclosed area overlooking the sea. We got to wear the native wraparound tapis, as we lay on bamboo cots, and we looked out at the sea where a gorgeous sunset was taking place. It was like a South Pacific movie set. The masseuse had some nice-smelling aromatic oil or something smoldering nearby and so everything seemed perfect. The only problem was that both our masseuses had heavy hands, and we were dumb enough to keep quiet and just take all that painful kneading. By the time we limped back to the hotel Elizabeth and I confessed to each other that we had been in pain most of the time. The next day we had quite a lot of bruises.

Moral of this entry: Do not be afraid to tell your boatman to dock you somewhere shallow and safe; do not be afraid to tell your masseuse to go light!
Photo above shows Doug, Elizabeth, John, and me
Next photo shows Cecilia, Tess, Tillic, Darn, Mila

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

January 2009 Visit of the Philippines- Pictorial

There's a video of the sinulog dance at the Handumanan at the bottom.

Captions from the top:
Vice Mayor Mike Rama, Cecilia at the Handumanan Event
The entire Cast of the Handumanan Event
Lilu Gomez, Norma Lucero, Chinggay Utzurrum, Terry Manguerra
Joy Gerra, Cecilia, Norma Lucero, Lilu Gomez, Ambeth Ocampo, Chinggay Utzurrum
Old House in Carcar
Norma Lucero, Lilu Gomez, Terry Manguerra in old house in Carcar
Norma Lucero with antique Argao House she had lived in
Cecilia, Terry, Norma, Lilu in front of Argao House that Norma had lived in
Norma in front of Argao Church Bell Tower
Lechon in Parian Night
Chona Bernad, Chelete, Lynley Ocampo, Gavin Bagares, Terry
Jackie Werkman, Eva Gullas, Norma, Chona Bernad
Louie Nacorda, Terry, Erma Cuizon
Jackie Werkman, Eva Gullas, Norma, Chona and Cecilia (standing)
Erma, Inday Blanco, Chinggay Utzurrum, Lilu
Lynley Ocampo, Chellet, Gavin Bagares, Joy Gerra
Norma, Lilu, Chinggay
Norma, Cecilia, Lilu
STC HS 64 at the Sapphire dance rehearsal
Marissa, Tina, Marily, Cynthia (Ysip sisters)
Marily, Cecilia
Guia Lim, Cecilia, Tillic Lorayes
Darn, Mila, Lilu, Norma, Cecilia
The Manguerra Clan
Chinggay, Cecilia, Terry
Cecilia, Diana Ledesma, Helen Misa
Chinggay, Terry, Jing Ramos, Cecilia