Items filtered by date: Sunday, 29 October 2017

FilAms of the Millennium WH and PHII bestow honors

LOS ANGELES – It’s a triple celebration on October 28, for the Philippine Heritage Institute International, a private foundation established in 1989, by the late Naomi Palma-Armada: Filipino American History Month, PHII’s 28 anniversary, and Tribute 2017, annual recognition and dinner to be held this year at the Pasadena Hilton with Consul General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz as keynote speaker.
It’s the 19th White House Millennium Council Award to Outstanding Filipino American Nurses and the 11th President’s Award: ‘Profiles in Service, Pillars of Community.’ PHII had also established the Founder’s Award and before Naomi’s passing, only two organizations have been honored: Philippine News and Dr. Jose P. Rizal Monument Movement.
PHII’s annual recognition event is in answer to the White House Millennium Council Initiative from then Pres. Bill Clinton, who came with his wife Hillary to Los Angeles in January 1998. They created the Council in August 1997, with the theme “Honor the Past, Imagine the Future’ and traveled across the United States to promote its objectives – an agenda with 21 ‘Ways to Commemorate the Millennium.’
“Mrs. Clinton gave a speech, stirring and inspirational,” said the late Mrs. Armada. In 1999, PHII became a partner to the WHMC and selected agenda item ‘Millennium Recognition Awards’ to pay homage to outstanding individuals whose contributions have enhanced the quality of life in the community. Both awards to nurses and community leaders are the result of the partnership.
Awardees can only be nominated by PHII trustees or past awardees. Besides academic excellence and professional leadership, the selection committee also looks into the nominees’ volunteerism.
Outstanding nurse awardees are: Lilibeth Pipo Cruz, BSN, RN, Department Administrator, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles Medical Center; Mary Reyes-Gonzales, MSN, RN-BC, NMF, Associate Director, Cedars- Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Maria Rosario D. Ocampo, BSN, RN, CNOR, Clinical Nurse III, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Sasha Alexis Rarang, PhD, MSN, CCM, RN, Director of Nursing, CNI College in Orange; and Joan Romero, BSN, MSN, RN, Associate Director, Cedars- Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles.
Pillars of Community awardees are: Dolores ‘Loleng’ Baradas, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Author of Towering Faith of a Mother; Jesus ‘Jess’ Española, internationally-acclaimed animator and director, first Filipino to receive an Emmy for the TV series The Simpsons; Teodorica ‘Cheody’ Maglanoc Fortunato, president of the Filipino American Tarlac Association, election inspector for six terms for the Orange County Election Board; Susana de Guzman, current president, Shotokan Karate Academy Intl.- Los Angeles HQ, past president, Malasiquinians of America; Grand Master Conrad Manaois, U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Technical Director of MOTHER (Movement to Help End Rape & Other Child Abuses); Millie Recio Moncada, Governor, United Batanguenos of Southern California and LAUSD English as a Second Language instructor; and Lillibeth Espinosa Navarro, super heroine for the disabled, founder and executive director, Communities Actively Living Independently & Free.

ABOUT PHII
PHII seeks to improve the quality of life affecting Filipino American communities through research, education and recognition with the youth as its main focus; broaden the general public’s knowledge and understanding about the culture of the Philippines; educate the general public and policy makers on the key issues of Filipino American communities geared towards their advancement and well-being; herald the accomplishments of FilAms and organizations that make significant contributions to the Filipino American experience; and recognize individuals as role models and coordinate outreach programs and special events to the effect.
The early focus of PHII, from 1989 to 1999, was to promote Philippine culture and bridge cultural gaps for more understanding through sponsorships of various FilAm events: Saturday summer classes on the National Language for grade school students and arts exhibits for Filipino artists at the Philippine Consulate; Rizal Day commemorations; fundraisers for Philippine float at the Rose Parade, chaired by Dr. Ludy A. Ongkeko, and Pearl S. Buck Foundation for Amerasians (for which Naomi received a nomination, but she couldn’t make the trip to Washington D.C., so she forfeited the award); media symposium with Father Reuter, SJ and past members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines with PHL Post Martial Law as the theme; and many other advocacies.
Executive Director is Dr. Anna Lourdes Armada-Chickey; Josie E. De Jesus, president; and Arthur ‘Jojo’ Armada, vice president. Trustees serving as officers: Vangie So, secretary; Lily Lara, treasurer and Tessie Lightholder, assistant treasurer; and Eddie Ronquillo, auditor. Board of Trustees: Teresita A. Caisip, Victoria de Leon, Sarla & Jake Duller, Rene Galano, Willy Leano, Willie Manacsa, Pedro Ramirez, and Virginia B. Vivas. Advisers are: Dr. Ludy A. Ongkeko, Mon‘chito’ Mandap and Violeta O. Unabia. Photographers: Marcelo V. De Jesus, Jr. and Romy Lara.
PHII welcomes new trustees to be inducted on October 28: Amelia Armada-Carpio, Administrator/Director of Patient Care Services, Alpha Care Hospice, Inc.; Freya Cruz Nishimura, Events Senior Director, Asian American Professional Association, and Francisco C. Enverga, DDS, general and cosmetic dentist at his own clinic in Ontario, California.

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Rappler journalists among 2017 Save the Children Media Awards finalists

MANILA– Rappler reporters Jee Y. Geronimo and Patty Pasion are among the finalists in the 2017 Save the Children Media Awards, the child rights organization announced.
The finalists’ entries were chosen for having demonstrated "the impact of lack of food and adequate nutrition on children from poor communities and good practices that could help eradicate the problem."
This year’s theme is "Uncovering Child Hunger and Malnutrition in the Philippines.”
“If you look at the statistics on childhood stunting, we’re going in the wrong direction. We need the media to put the light on the subject, to actually drill down and analyze it and help decision makers recognize that there is an unacceptable problem with hunger,” Ned Olney, country director of Save the Children, said.
The Rappler stories that made it to “Most Outstanding Article” category are:
“New menu for school canteens? Here's what DepEd wants kids to eat” by Jee Y. Geronimo
“Malabon winning the battle against malnutrition” by Patty Pasion
The works of Rappler journalists were also recognized by Save the Children Media Awards in 2016 and 2015.
Aside from the 3 categories that judges will decide, there is a separate People's Choice category, where the award will be given based on netizens’ votes.. – Rappler.com

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Whang-od's family urges public: 'Stop the negativity'

MANILA – The family of Filipino traditional tattoo artist Whang-od called on the public to "stop the negativity" after the organizers of Manila FAME suffered a backlash for bringing the artist to the trade fair in Manila.
In an interview with Rappler, Grace Palicas, the grandniece of Whang-od who did tattooing with the artist during the fair, said the family was surprised by the backlash. (READ: VIRAL: Was Whang-od exploited at Manila FAME?)
Palicas said that Whang-od herself requested to do as much tattooing as she could during the fair since "she's already in Manila."
"Gusto niya talaga na siya. Ang masasabi ko lang, sana nandoon sila sa event para alam nila. Hindi tayo sana mapanghusga. Sabi nga ni Bob Marley, stop the negativity," Palicas said, paraphrasing the famous line in the late singer's "Positive Vibration" song.
(She really wanted to do it. All I can say is that, I hope they were at the event so they know [what happened]. I hope we won't be judgmental. As Bob Marley said, stop the negativity.)
Palicas refuted claims that Whang-od did all "300 tattoos from 10 am to 5 pm for two days," which sparked concerns that the elderly artist was "overworked."
"As much as possible, she wanted to ink as many people with tattoo. She put tattoos to around 120 people. I know this because I was the one who takes note of the numbers," Palicas said in a mix of English and Filipino.
The rest were made by Palicas and another family member, Elyang.

Overworked?
Many netizens had slammed the fair organizers for "exploiting" and "overworking" Whang-od, who claimed she turned 100 years old in February.
According to Palicas, Whang-od did not work for 8 hours straight during her two-day stay at the fair. Tattoo sessions only went on for about 4 hours with breaks per day, she said. READ: Whang-od at Manila FAME: Marginal notes on a damaged culture)
Asked about the viral photo where the artist was "napping" during the press conference, Palicas explained that Whang-od got bored of the questions and also closed her eyes because the flash from the cameras hurt her eyes.
"Naboboring kasi siya sa mga tanong tapos 'yung mga camera, masyadong maliwanag pero sinabihan ni Nerza (del Rosario) 'yung mga cameraman na 'wag na magflash," Palicas said, defending the Manila FAME team.
(She got bored with the questions and the flash coming from the cameras hurt her eyes, that's why Nerza del Rosario told the photographers and cameramen to stop using flash.)
Del Rosario is part of the Manila FAME team.
Many also likened the live tattoo sessions during the trade fair to the 1904 Philippine Exposition at St Louis World's Fair featuring indigenous people as living exhibits.
Jayvee Franz Paclay Sabawil, a relative of the artists, echoed the same sentiments. He said the tattoo sessions should have been held in a private room.
In defense of the event, Palicas said it was only during the opening ceremony on Friday, October 21 – from 9 am to 10 am – that the tattoo sessions were done in the middle of the hall. The rest of the sessions were done in a private room.

'She's really happy'
As seen on photos, her family members described Whang-od's first visit to Manila as nothing but happy.
"Nag-iistorya siya sa Manila na, 'Ah, ganoon pala 'yung mga buildings at mga tao.' Pero wala siyang sinabing sana hindi siya tumuloy. Masaya siya at tumatawa nga. Nagjo-joke kami na, 'Sikat na si Whang-od!' She's really happy," Eva Oggay, the tattoo artist's niece, told Rappler.
(She said in her stories about Manilla, "Ah, so that's hwo their buildings and people are." But she never told us she shouldn't have pushed through [with the trip]. She's happy and she was laughing. We sometimes joke that "Whang-od is already famous!" She's really happy.)
"Tapos kung tatanong namin kung pagod, kami pa ang papagalitan. 'Kain kayo ng kain! Ako magta-tattoo,' sabi niya, (When we ask if she's tired, she would even scold us, "All you do is eat! I will do tattoos)" Oggay added.
Oggay also noted that a medical team was on standby to look after the artist. The trip to and from Manila was also short and sweet, she said.
"Wala talaga siyang reklamo (She has no complaints)," said Oggay.
In 2015, a campaign calling for the recognition of Whang-od as National Artist went viral. Indigenous art forms, however, are under the "Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA)" or the National Living Treasures Award.
The organizers of the Manila FAME explained that they brought the artist to Manila to endorse her nomination for the award.
Whang-od's nomination to the GAMABA Award was officially accepted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) during the second day of the Manila FAME on October 21. – Rappler.com

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She cooked for royalty and socialites including a future US president

On a recent summer day, Jossie Reyas, 77, sat on a bench outside a small food pantry in Woodside, Queens waiting her turn to get cans of beans, fruit, soup and vegetables.
Reyas, wearing frayed slippers and a faded floral blouse, was quiet and soft-spoken, but when asked about her life, she spun a tale of cooking for New York socialites, including a European countess and a future president of the United States.
She still keeps signed post-it notes, checks, menus, pictures and holiday cards from all of her employers. She keeps them in a plastic tote bag along with her flip phone and paper napkins.
One Christmas card, with cartoon angels and musical notes scattered across the front, reads: “Dear Josie, Thank you for your help this year. You do a great job and we certainly appreciate having you with us. Warm wishes for 1990! Mr. Mrs. Trump and Christopher.”
Born in the Philippines, Reyas was the oldest of eight children: three boys and five girls. In 1970, she studied business administration at Manila’s University of the East before moving to Madrid with her sisters. There she worked at the Denmark, Mexico and Uruguayan embassies.
The Countess of Romanones, Spain just happened to live across the street from the Uruguayan Embassy. One day the Countess recognized Reyas as a Filipina and asked if she would cook for her.
“Europeans love chicken adobo,” Reyas whispered.
It was there she heard of her father’s sudden death. Her parents were en route to the United States when he suffered a heart attack at the airport. Her mother handled the funeral arrangements before moving to America months later.
In 1986, Reyas’s mother summoned her to New York City saying, “it is time,” as the rest of her siblings had already moved. Reyas, in her mid-forties, dutifully obeyed.

In 1987, the Countess asked Reyas to cook for a private party she was hosting in New York. Reyas’s cooking, attention to detail and dedication to decoration garnered praise from the wealthy guests.
Soon, Reyas said, her services were requested by socialites such as Blaine Trump, Nancy Reagan, Mark Thatcher, Lally Weymouth, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Susan Hess, Betsy Bloomingdale and Vera Wang, among others.
Reyas even lived with Robert and Blaine Trump at Trump Plaza for six months during the construction of the Trump Taj Mahal in 1989. Robert’s older brother, Donald, and his family were frequent visitors.
“They are nice. Even Donald, even the children of Donald – simple,” Reyas said. “I don’t know why many people don’t like him.”
Several employers asked Reyas to move with them, but she declined every offer that would permanently take her away from Manhattan.
“I came here because of my mother. Why would I leave her?” Reyas said.
Reyas’s mother died in her Manhattan home in 1994, but Reyas doesn’t want to move back to the Philippines like her siblings. She hasn’t been back since 1975.
“They all go home when they get married because they have business in the Philippines,” Reyas said. “I did not get married. I stay here, that’s why. If I [got] married, [had] children and a family, then I [would have gone] home also.”
These days, Reyas says, she makes a meager living as a decorator, working only for select employers of her choosing.
“No more cooking,” Reyas said smiling. “ I cannot cook anymore. I’m old.”

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New app, website to make HIV clinics, treatment hubs more accessible

Filipinos in need of HIV/AIDS treatment or advice can now look up clinics and treatment hubs near them with the help of a new mobile app and website created to encourage treatment among its users while maintaining their privacy.
#SAFELYPH is a mobile navigation tool that can be used to learn how to contact and access HIV services on their phone without need for identification.
Users can look up their location on screen and see pins representing hygiene clinics, treatment hubs, and condom stops. A few taps will reveal more information about these locations, contact options for doctors, and how to get there using Google Maps.
The app was funded through the Global Fund HIV New Funding Model (NFM) project, which is designed to last from July 2015 to December 2017 to contribute to the vision of achieving zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2020.
Save the Children, principal recipient of the Global Fund, developed #SAFELYPH in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) to scale up prevention coverage among key affected populations (KAP).
These include male having sex with males, people who inject drugs, transgender persons, and pregnant mothers who may pass the disease on to their children.
Ned Olney, Save the Children country Director, said in a speech on Wednesday that they chose to create an app since social media is "currently the main source of information of the public" and is a key way of reaching tech-savvy KAP.
"We saw the need to develop innovative ways of reaching our key population through technology. We developed #SafelyPH together with the Department of Health and with the support of [HIV advocacy group] The Red Whistle, for HIV/AIDS information in the country to be readily accessible," Olney said.
"We hope that by making information readily available, we can reduce the stigma around HIV and encourage the general public—especially parents, teachers and community leaders—to be part of the conversation on HIV and AIDS so that we can, together, reduce the incidences in the country," he added.
Dr. Gerard Belimac, DOH's HIV STI, Viral Infections Program manager, said the DOH participated in this project to reach their goal of reducing new HIV infections among KAP by 2022.
The app also aligns with the 6th AIDS Medium Term Plan, which aims to "reach 90 percent of key populations at risk to HIV, test 90 percent people living with HIV (PLHIV), and treat 90 percent of PLHIV and retain them in the HIV care, and ensure that HIV treatment is successful."
Belimac encouraged those who have been tested to return to treatment hubs and start or continue anti-retroviral therapy, a treatment designed to suppress HIV and halt its progress.
"It is unfortunate that while anti-retroviral drugs are available, only about half of persons with established HIV diagnosis came forward and avail of these life-saving medications," he said.
"There is hope and certainly life after diagnosis, if ARV medications are started early," Belimac added.
According to the DOH 1,098 new HIV antibody sero-positive individuals were reported — 84 percent of which were asymptomatic at the time of reporting — to the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) from January to May 2017.
This marked a 48-percent increase in infections compared to the 741 cases recorded last year and the highest recorded cases ever since 1984.
Males composed 98 percent of all cases and the median age was 28. Thirty percent were youth belonging to the 15 to 24 age group while more than half belonged to the 25 to 34 age group.
National Capital Region recorded 404 (37 percent) of all cases, followed by Region 4A with 155 (14 percent) cases, Region 3 with 108 (10 percent) cases, Region 7 with 98 (9 percent) cases, Region 11 with 60 (5 percent) cases.
The rest of the country accounted for an additional 273 cases (25 percent).
Including old cases, there are 21,000 PLHIV on ART including 30 pediatric patients as of June 2017.
HIV attacks the immune system and opens the body to infections, infection-related cancers, and eventually AIDS.
The life-long disease is mostly acquired through unprotected sex, use of infected needles, or mother-to-child transmissions. HIV is not present in saliva or sweat.
ART can stop HIV virus from multiplying in the body but there is still no known cure for the disease. – GMA News

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PH has most ISIS-claimed attacks outside Iraq, Syria – report

MANILA – The Philippines has the most attacks claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) outside their stronghold in Iraq and Syria, data gathered by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) showed.
The global think tank tallied in its "Considering Claimed Attacks: Islamic State's Hidden Narrative" report that of 222 ISIS-claimed terror attacks around the globe in the last 5 months, 99 occurred in the Philippines.
TRAC counted from May 20 to September 22, 2017. The Philippines is trailed by Afghanistan (43 claims), and Egypt (33 claims) in the list of 21 countries attacked by ISIS.
All the Philippine attacks claimed by the international terror group happened in Mindanao, save for one – the Resorts World Manila shooting.
Of the terror attacks in southern Philippines, 70 happened in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, where a 5-month war against homegrown terrorists had just been won by government forces.
The report noted that the Philippines saw a sharp increase through the years in ISIS-claimed attacks: ISIS did not claim any attacks in the same period in 2015, and claimed only 6 in 2016.
Most of the assaults claimed by ISIS, the report noted, are encounters in the Marawi battle area which varied from sniping a soldier to initiating a jailbreak.
"Claims in Philippines alone took the Islamic State brand to a new level of perceived global capabilities and effectiveness," the report read.
The study pointed out that since the ISIS has begun retreating in Mosul and Raqqa in Iraq and Syria, respectively, Marawi has become a "beacon and option for [ISIS] supporters globally."

ISIS-inspired, PH-executed
The Marawi siege, the report said, was a product of effective ISIS globalization and the proactivity of local terrorist groups.
“For the siege of Marawi, [ISIS] central provided some fighters and funding as well as instruction via tactics of urban warfare. But all strategies and operations came from native Filipinos and Malaysians based in the South Philippines,” the report read.
The siege was organized by the Maute group, a terror group in Mindanao. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)
The report said that ISIS influence still can't be underestimated.
While local terror groups such as the Maute group can prove themselves capable of pulling a siege, they won't be as effective as they were in the war without the aid of ISIS, the report said.
It is through ISIS that the Maute group learned how to weaponize social media, such as spreading propaganda videos on Facebook and communicating through encrypted channels like Telegram.
"Therefore, Marawi was at once a testament to the power of the ISIS global communications network in its own right, and at the same time, a prime example of ISIS dependence on local groups and conditions," the report reads.
With the symbiosis pointed out, TRAC said the success of ISIS, and consequently, the number of attacks claimed, in the archipelagic country will depend on its fragmented local population.
"The future of the ISIS brand in the Philippines depends largely on the locals – the interests and aspirations of both the Muslim public and entrenched power brokers, such as autonomous [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] commanders," it added. – Rappler.com

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Trillanes’ US visit has nothing to do with Trump missing East Asia Summit —Paynor

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's meeting with senior United States government officials is not the reason behind US President Donald Trump's decision to skip the East Asia Summit, one of the high-profile meetings to be held in November in the Philippines, a Philippine official said Wednesday.
Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., director general for operations of the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council, said the cancellation of Trump's attendance to the East Asia Summit is a scheduling issue.
"The reason is he (Trump) would have been out of the US for too long, because hindi lang naman ito 'yung pinuntahan niya," Paynor said at a news forum.
Trump will be in the Philippines on November 12-13. The East Asia Summit is slated for the 14th.
"Everybody understands that when a leader cannot come, it's not that he doesn't want to," Paynor said.
He dismissed suggestions that Trillanes' recent US visit had something to do with the cancellation. He said the visit of Trillanes, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, to the US is a "non-issue."
"Kung maniwala mga tao, that's their problem. These things are discussed on a higher level," he said.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's a non-issue," Paynor said, referring to Trillanes' US trip. "Anybody can claim that. I can claim I talked to the White House and I told Trump 'Do not come here.' Will you pick it up just because I said it?"
Trillanes himself has said that his talks with US officials, particularly US Senator Marco Rubio, were not to dissuade Trump from going to the Philippines for the ASEAN Summit. They were, he claimed, a bid to strengthen US-Philippine ties.
Paynor added that when the US government requested a change in the schedule of the East Asia Summit, the date had already been set, and making any change to it would mean consulting 16 other leaders who would participate in the meeting.
The meeting would push through, Paynor said, with the US government sending a representative in place of Trump. He said it is likely that the representative would be either the US Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Secretary of State.
Trump, however, will be attending the ASEAN Summit meeting, Paynor said.
For his part, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano said there is nothing wrong with Trump's missing the meeting because his mere attendance to the main ASEAN Summit events is already a "very, very strong message of friendship."
The East Asia Summit is composed of the ten ASEAN countries, along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the US.
Duterte and Trump have also "agreed in principle" to meet for a bilateral talk on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, though details are at the moment scarce, said Paynor. –GMA News

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Jack Ma: Filipino-Chinese community to invest, turn PH into a cashless society

Chinese business magnate Jack Ma urged the Philippines to convert to a "cashless society," saying that an old economy should not fear change.
"We should make the Philippines a cashless society. Cashless society: no corruption, life is easier," Ma told students at De La Salle University in Manila on Wednesday.
In a press conference, Ma said that the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines should be the investors in turning the country into a cashless society.
"The Filipino-Chinese here—I think there's a big community here—they can understand Chinese, English and also Philippine culture. So I think they should be the investors of the cashless society, because a lot of people have heard of Alibaba, Alipay but they don't know how to use it because of the language problems," Ma said.
Ma, 53, is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, China's biggest e-commerce company. He has an estimated net worth of $38.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
Alipay is the mobile and online payment platform of the Alibaba Group. In 2013, it overtook PayPal as the world's largest mobile payment platform.
Ma said you can get anything with just the use of a mobile phone.
"In my city, mobile phones can almost get you anything ... There're no pickpockets in the buses because there's no money in the people's pocket, no wallet, only mobile phones," he said.
"So I think the Chinese community here would be happy that you're the ambassadors of the Philippine small business, introducing Philippine products, mangoes and all the great stuff—fruits—introduce it to China and introduce the Chinese products, service and technology. You are the investors and bridges," he added. — GMA News

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Whang-od as a brand name

I was in Aparri, Cagayan when Apo Whang-od was brought to the Manila FAME to "perform" a tattoo demontration, speak in a panel, and to attend the announcement of her nomination to the GAMABA (Gawad ng Manlilikha ng Bayan or the National Living Treasure Award), which reportedly was accepted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) last October 21.
I was also invited by the organizers to be in a panel, but declined. When I returned, I was bombarded with articles that she was “exploited” reminiscent of the 1904 St Louis Exposition, and on the other, that she “fully enjoyed” her stay in Manila and back in Buscalan.
Examining both sides of the story, I was also alarmed that I received messages on why I am I not doing anything despite the many accolades I received from conducting research on Kalinga tattoos (that is certainly unwarranted), but nevertheless, I am confounded. Here are some thoughts.

Was she exploited?
Did we ever ask Apo Whang-od directly or personally if she was indeed “exploited”? What did she think of the event? I have asked Apo Whang-od many times in my previous research and many visits to the village, if she likes what she is doing, most especially with the influx of tourists coming in to get tattoos.
I usually get a reply that “she loves what she is doing, and she will tattoo as much as she can, as long as her eyes can see.” She is also a good-natured person (to the point of being misled), and she would accommodate this in full-energy like what a Butbut-Kalinga woman would do.
With the unfolding of events before our eyes, who are we to deny these things to her: the opportunity to travel and to see other places (like Manila), to earn more (reportedly a take home of P800,000 for her appearance and demos), and to meet people (like Coco Martin) and to ride on with each other’s popularity.
Apo Whang-od is also a human being, already a cultural icon. Some would see her as a goddess on a pedestal, but like any other person, she also has her own agency. It is “us” (our outsider’s view, our “othering,” our etic perspective) that gives this ideological interpretation that it was unfair, unjust, and exploitative in nature, but did we ask her?
To the organizers of the event, it is a most admirable act to bring in the centenarian Apo Whang-od on board with all the resources and logistics all set, but I hope that you planned and curated the show well. With the tattoo practitioners on cordon, you made them look like “public performers for a fee” (“tattoo for a fee”) which could have been more interactive, and not exclusive.
We could honor Apo Whang-od and her craft in a most respectable way and for a rare occasion such as this, a fitting tribute should be perfectly fine, moreso, to listen to Apo Whang-od’s voice, her thoughts and her stories with the proper translation from her Butbut language to Filipino or English (most of the attendees have an English twang).
But having to tattoo from 8 am to 4 pm for the event and have a "piece" of her is way too much, there should be a limit for these tattoo demonstrations. How is this setting different when she tattoos in Buscalan with more than hundreds of visits per day and the many people in queue to get inked by her?
She has proven herself well, with the beautiful human canvass she produced for years when she started tattooing in her home village up to now. Of course, Apo Whang-od as I know her, would insist to tattoo, because this is what is expected of her. She would tell me that she is always “naontog” (strong), but her age and health is an issue that we should be conscious of the need to conserve and preserve her energy.
She also talks of "chayaw" (or praise and honor for the Kalinga) and to live by these expectations. Miscommunication or blocking of communication is also rife in the event, between Apo Whang-od to the organizers, and to the people that flocked to her to get tattoos. Did we talk to her? And how does she feel? She left Manila with all smiles and waved heartily as she boarded the helicopter back to Buscalan, how does she really feel? For all I know, she would say "I did it!" to cap the "high" expectations from her.

Pollution of culture?
We should not be a “romantic anthropologist” when we view culture as something that is “pure,” “traditional” or “pristine.” Kalinga tattoos also evolve, never static and always dynamic. It also goes with the flow of modernity. Like the people, the tattoos also go through the process of inevitable change.
But what I implore is to have this sensibility and sensitivity to culture, and to respect the practitioners of the tradition, whether Apo Whang-od is in Buscalan or elsewhere. Respect is of utmost importance here. Why do people get tattoos from Whang-od? Because people buy the story behind the tattoos: the rarity of designs, the technique and the stature of Whang-od as the “last, oldest tattoo artist” ascribed by popular media.
With the popularity of tattoos nowadays, and with the (sh)/fame in the Manila event, we could observe that we could talk now of appearing cultures instead, rather than disappearing cultures, and the tattooing culture is revived.
The events also help us erase the pejorative notion of tattoos whether that is traditional or not. Today, we have the younger generation of tattoo practitioners: Grace Palicas, Elyang Wigan (and others, plus recently the youngest 12-year-old tattoo artist), and Den Wigan – who have seriously taken on their hands the handtapping tattoo. Is this not worth celebrating for as well as we are assured of the continuity of a tattoo tradition?
The context of traditional tattoos was different in the past when these tattoos were place-based rituals and a collective practice for the Kalinga. The motivations for getting tattoos now have become more personal, to make permanent the individual experiences of the people whether you are diasporic Filipinos, urban or foreign tourists coming in to get inked from the village, or in the Manila FAME event.

Nomination of Apo Whang-od to the GAMABA
For those strongly advocating for the nomination of Apo Whang-od to become a National Living Treasure (Take note: this is different from the National Artist Awards), I have no objections. But let us peruse the guidelines carefully and understand it well.
For anyone nominated to the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Awards or GAMABA, the cultural practitioner should continue to practice her craft and not to earn profit from it.
Apo Whang-od is in a precarious situation because although she continues to tap the traditional way, she earns by tattooing tourists. Unless the NCCA praise committee makes an exemption, we still have to await for their decision. Whatever the results are, we also need to respect the decision.
With the many events unfolding in our eyes, what we see now is a greater appreciation of the young to traditional tattoos (which is good, but also have a downside in Buscalan, this is for another discussion).
With Whang-od’s tattoos now a popular brand, it is so addictive that you can’t stop and must die hard to have it. For me, I am content with the sight of her, and to hear her tapping, and not aggressively want to be inked by her. I also respect the many people who refused to get tattoos and be part of the commodification of culture. Kudos!
We can celebrate Apo Whang-od and her craft in a most honorable and respectable way, but not in a circus such as what we all have witnessed. But for Apo Whang-od, it could be one of her memorable experiences as long as she lives, and surely it will be retold. Manjamanak (Thank you)!

Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores, an alumna of the University of the Philippines Diliman and Oxford University, authored the award-winning book "Tapping Ink, Tattooing Identities: Tradition and Modernity in Contemporary Kalinga Society" (UP Press, 2013). She is an associate professor of social anthropology at UP Baguio and the director of the Museo Kordilyera, the university's Ethnographic Museum.

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Cayetano backtracks, says Philippines open to EU aid

MANILA – Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday, October 25, backtracked on his earlier statement that the Philippines is rejecting all forms of grants from the European Union (EU).
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Cayetano said that the Philippines will reject foreign donations that come with "conditionalities that will affect our sovereignty." He said that this is "not an EU-specific policy."
When asked if the Philippines will accept EU aid for war-ravaged Marawi City, Cayetano answered: "I already stated the policy. If there are no conditionalities and it will not affect our sovereignty, then everyone is free to help."
He said that if it will affect Philippine sovereignty, however, then the Philippines will not accept the donation. "But it will not hurt Marawi or the community because they are free to give it to international organizations or to the community directly."
"So the question should now be addressed to EU. Are they willing to give without conditionalities, or if the conditionalities are there, are they willing to do it through international organizations?" Cayetano said.
Cayetano made these remarks after meeting with EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen. President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly lambasted the EU for supposedly meddling in his anti-drug campaign.
Cayetano's statements on Wednesday contradicted his announcement on October 19 that the Philippines is rejecting all kinds of grants from the EU.
On that day, a reporter even asked Cayetano if this involves all kinds of aid. Cayetano responded, "That's my impression – so aid meaning grants."
He confirmed that this move was the product of months-long discussions. He even said he will formally relay this decision to the EU ambassador.
The EU is the second top destination of Philippine exports, a major donor of the Philippines, and the fourth biggest source of overseas Filipino workers' remittances. – Rappler.com

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