My Iligan


Saturday, January 31, 2009

I was born twice: first, as a baby girl (Calliope), and then again, as a teenage boy (Cal), and so begin Jeffrey Eugenides's second novel, Middlesex. He won the Pulitzer Prize for the novel, and also he is the bestselling author of The Virgin Suicides.

Writing his story is yet another birth, which is now taking place...Three months before being born, his grandmother held her magical spoon over her mother's pregnant belly. The spoon swung from north to south, foretelling the birth of a son. Cal's mother, Tessie did not believe her mother-in-law's prediction and believed so strongly that a baby girl would be born that she already had the name Calliope picked out. Tessie and Milton, Cal's father, was so desirous to have a daughter that they had determined to do whatever it took to have a girl.

Topics to discuss...

  1. The author's chosen point of view. Do you believe this story could be told in another point of view? Would it be as effective?
  2. What part does the choice of setting the story in mid-west Michigan, specifically Detroit and Grosse Point play in the story?
  3. How important to the story is Cal's being a hermaphrodite? How similar would this story be had Cal not been a hermaphrodite?
  4. Why does the author choose to never introduce Chapter 11's given name?
  5. Discuss the author's purpose in including flash-forwards in Cal's present life in Berlin? How would the story change without the flash-forwards?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Barangay Maligang in Kiamba, a town in the province of Sarangani, is experiencing the difficult road connecting them to the nearest market---the common problem in the upland communities. The village has about 261 families and mostly indigenous people, and farming is their livelihood. The area is highly suitable to abaca production.

The FIDA, a government authority on fiber, opened Kiamba for Abaca production, however, unfortunately, their first attempt to organize failed. In 2001, UDP rekindled the interest in Tinagak making, using the knotted abaca fiber, into fabric, and other handicrafts. The UDP had worked closely with the FIDA in conducting skills training and exposure trips; thereafter a Tinagak producers association was formed and despite their lack of capital ventured on Tinagak making.

The village is on undulating hills with rivers to cross, and its roads are hardly passable on rainy days---the slippery stretches, and the gullies. But these didn’t hampered the productivity in the village, while farmers are growing abaca, their women, youth, and even elders are preoccupied into tinagak making, as additional income for their families.

Abaca, the primary crop grown by farmers in Maligang, can be considered a viable enterprise for them.

The odds…

The nagging road problem is among the many struggles of the community. The deteriorating quality of abaca due to age and diseases is also a serious concern to sustain the enterprise. However, the people are unfazed with these odds that they even work harder to achieve their goals.

The knotted strength…

From its lowly beginning, the association is now known as United Maligang Farmers Cooperative with 181 members accumulating a capital of some P38, 000.00 pesos. It has also increased its production of tinagak from 8.35 kilos in 2001 to an average of 140 kilos per month, employing about 115 people, mostly women, youth, and elders. The enterprise has contributed an increase in household income of about P700.00 to P5, 000.00 pesos monthly. The growth of the coop can be seen in the participation of the community, and the assistance from local governments and funding agencies.

The Task...

However, the small gain by the coop in trading isn’t good enough. They still need to strengthen themselves by building skills and right attitude, that in realizing the dream to improve their lives, they must also take care of the environment.

Bringing development to Maligang is a formidable task but seeing how it gradually changes their lives is inspiring.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This is Doug, my significant other. I just bounced back from a broken relationship when I met him. I thought it was only a 'one night stand' but I was wrong. He moved into my life and open up a gateway to infinite possibilities. Our relationship is not normal but he is like a solid rock that stands firm in the storms that rage about us.

Doug is very hard working. He is more than happy to put in a full day at the office, realizing that it will likely take a lot of those days to get to the top. Life is one big project for him, and he adapts to this by adopting a businesslike approach to most everything he does. That's no problem, he is practical as well, taking things one step at a time and being as realistic and pragmatic as possible.

I'm always there for him. At times, however, I tend to get caught up in his dream and views of how things should be. I fear that my pleas aren't being heard that I tend to lapse into melancholy and, worse, the kind of pessimism which leads to procrastination and lethargy. Thankfully, he is patient, too, and is happy to wait for me to come along...

I'm the ultimate finisher. Nothing can stand against my determination and willpower. Victory is mine! I'm the most modest and unassuming. I acquire knowledge, and then sometimes fail to show it, often regarding it of little consequence and believing that other people who brag about their ability must actually know more than I do. But, I'm most cautious of all, where my own efforts are concerned. I have a happy disposition! I could ride over deep troubles almost as trifles.

I'm selfless, spiritual and much focused on my inner journey. I also place great weight on what I'm feeling. Yes, feelings define me, and it's not uncommon for me to feel my own burdens (and joys) as well as those of others. My intuition is highly-evolved. Many people associate me with dreams and secrets, and it's a fair association, since I feel comfortable in an illusory world.

I'm not quite a pushover, but I'm certainly sensitive. Even so, I revel in my compassionate and imaginative natures and love to cater to others. I could also be quite romantic, dreaming up delicious treats for my lover. Hopefully, any kindness would be reciprocated, because I could certainly turn blue if I'm not.

Life in Libi

Rancho and Kolambog are villages at the eastern hilly sides of barangay Libi, and the B’laan tribes settled in them since the 1930s, about 30 families scattered in some 869 hectares.

There are no clinic and school, before the clearing for the road in 2003, the villages and their children had to walk over five kilometers to reach the health center, and for the children to attend elementary. But horses are also available for easier visits.

Potable water was also lacking and the villagers fetch in the springs far from their houses. Corn is largely planted in the villages, and rice is grown for eating, and cassava, sweet potato and banana are other staples.

In essence, life in Libi is simple and unsecured…the people are praying for land to farm to improve their lives.

‘Win some, loss more’

These upland villages in Libi are in Malapatan, a town in the province of Sarangani. The UDP came sometime in 2004, and provided consultants to assess their existing and potential local enterprises to be managed by them. The same consultants were again contracted to assist KRANFO, an upland barangay association from the two villages, in preparing the business plan and manual. Also, they are there to provide coaching and training in operating the enterprise and install some systems.

To date, KRANFO has their business plan but their proposed enterprises are not yet started. The organization is composed of 62 members, 30 of whom come from Rancho and 32 from Kolambog.

The UDP’s partners in the projects in Libi include the town of Malapatan that allocates counterpart funds, and maintains a project team headed by their agriculturist, and assigns personnel to provide technical assistance. There is also the Rural Bank of Sarangani to loans to farmers using the model packages by the UDP.

During the business planning with the consultants, the farmers have identified the trading of banana and peanuts, and a store to be managed separately by each of the villages. However, the villages in Libi still struggle with the changes. Their pitfalls usually mean missteps for the association. It was realized that so much is left undone that every step forward somehow lead them away from their goals. Notwithstanding the fact, the farmers are still willing to stake at progress because they have shared with the UDP’s vision of development.

Guinang Fucal, a pastor and one of the chairmen in Libi in their dialect said, ‘Before, we are always short of cash. Until UDP came, we only had corn and coconut, but they taught us to plant all types: from long-term like coconut, mango and coffee; and medium-term like banana; and short-term crops like mongo beans and peanuts.’

Here, we will somehow see that people are people, their issues, small gains and heavy set backs are part of the process.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The trails to Kablon…

The village is at the foot of Mt. Matutum with an area of 4,700 hectares, more or less. It is the most populated in Tupi and most of its inhabitants are indigenous people, the B’laan tribe. It has very fertile land, and cold weather with no distinct wet and dry seasons, favorable to vegetables like potato, radish, carrot and cabbages that are commonly planted. The village life is mirrored by the ‘habal-habal,’ a modified motorcycle to transport farmers and vegetables that ply along its roads, aside from trekking by foot. The land tenures are merely certificates of stewardship that worried the farmers.

The farmers relied heavily on lending at unreasonable rates to finance their farms. They could hardly get by their income. Health care is scarce in this part of the upland, and education is expensive that only few farmers are literate. Despite these facts of life, they still enjoy the horse fights and “Amyak Maleh Matutum,”-a climbing activity at the peak of Mt. Matutum.

…or a descent to perish?

Ever since Glandang is into vegetable farming producing vegetables in commercial scale and trading normally takes place at the roadside. The price is so unstable and usually happened at harvest when vegetables flood the market, and farmers would engage in price war just to avoid spoil.

The UDP approved the proposed Bagsakan, a buying station at Glandang to improve the trading of vegetables in Kablon. It was completed in 2003, with a rainwater reservoir for washing the vegetables. The farmers finally experienced payment on time at delivery; while their association with scarce capital could only buy a limited volume of vegetables--such with some internal conflicts, the buying stopped after two months.

However, the UDP have known their problems, and provided them with consultants to revive the Bagsakan Center. A team was formed, the “Matutum Enterprise,” as a subsidiary of the farmer’s association.The farmers made a business plan and manual focused on renting the bagsakan and how the enterprise would run the center. The association is able to prove that the business is profitable. The farmers were not able to make use of the bagsakan, as a trading facility, in a sense they failed to manage.

Until now, the Bagsakan is not operating. The farmers insisted on their old ways and hard to accept changes.

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