Posts by Nida:

    Simbahang Bato, a Work of Art of the Mangyans of Mindoro

    May 6th, 2018

    WHEN traveling to Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, do not forget to visit the ruins of the “Simbahang Bato.

    The “Simbahang Bato” is part of the ruins of the original church built by the Mangyans upon the supervision of the Augustinian priests in 1679. It was constructed out of limestone, wood and other materials quarried and gathered by the natives from the nearby sea, rivers and forests.

    The church served as the convent and center of the parish in Naujan, until it was burned, including the nearby community, during the great “Asultos de Moros” (Assault of the Moors) raid in Mindoro on September 11, 1842. After the raid, the church became not only a place of worship but a fort and refuge for the locals. Shortly thereafter, the Agustinians abandoned the ruined church.

    Naujan residents claim their old church, which is located in Barangay Bancuro, is miraculous as their prayers were often answered after praying there. The church also saved countless lives in times of calamities, both man-made and natural.

    During World War II, residents of Naujan used the remaining stone structure as a hiding place from Japanese soldiers.

    After World War II, the priests of the Society of the Divine “Word (SVD), with the help of Bancuro residents built a chapel inside the ruins using using locally available materials like palm leaves for the roof which, in turn, is supported by tree trunks. Thus, the ruins also came to be known as a church within a church.

    Among the attractions of the newly built place of worship is its pews, which can seat five people. The beautifully crafted pews were made of tree trunks. The chandeliers were also unique as they were fashioned out of tree branches.

    For well traveled eagle eyed visitors, they will surely notice the similarities in the chandeliers and pews used in the church with those that adorn the nearby “Benilda ng Bancuro Resort and Restaurant.” Well, probably because they were made by the same artisans.

    In 2006, the SVD’s formally turned over the church again to the Augustinian Recollects who until today manages the church, according to the historical records posted at the church wall.

    Simbahang Bato in Pictures

    Simbahang Bato’s entrance gate. Image © By KisekiLacroix – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
    Simbahang Bato’s sanctuary. Image © By KisekiLacroix – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
    Simbahang Bato’s interior. Image © Kiseki Lacroix – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
    Simbahang Bato’s altar Image © By KisekiLacroix – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
    Simbahang Bato’s facade. Image © Martha Thea Alabastro


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    Beyond Deadlines Anniversary Article Series 2018

    February 21st, 2018

    Beyond Deadlines Gave Me Another Chance to Write Online…

    IT WAS August last year when I got a message from a longtime media colleague, Nelson Flores, asking me if I can join Beyond Deadlines.

    I had been a follower of this online news site due to interesting news that were posted here. Most are very relevant issues about the Philippines as well as Filipinos abroad.

    Since I knew Nelson well during our time as reporters covering Southern Metro Manila beats, I did not hesitate to join this site. It brought back the memories of our funny, serious days as reporters who would hide or outshine each other in writing our stories.

    We called Nelson “Ekratonic,” sort of a nickname coined by some members of the the Makati Press Guild . We add “nic” or “ic ” to each others’ names. It shows camaraderie among us, though there were conflicts , etc. among us, we still remain friends after we had successfully filed our stories for the day.

    I remember Nelson always coming late (we learned that he was then enrolled in a Law School), and prancing and saying hip-hop lines while entering the Press Room, asking “what’s new?”

    Many of us would sometimes hide important angles of a news from him, saying he should come earlier to cover the beat!

    Anyway, that was one of the most funniest part of our journalistic life at the local beat.

    After years of retiring from the mainstream media, I busied myself writing for some content/blog sites not to get “rusty” and to earn cents as well. Also followed Facebook for posts by friends in the media to keep me updated. This included reading posts by Beyond

    It all started from here. Thanks Beyond Deadlines for this opportunity.

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    Pasko sa Pilipinas

    December 11th, 2017
    A typical Media Noche in the Philippines. Image @

    HALOS dalawang linggo na lamang at sasapit na ang Pasko.

    Ang Pasko ang pinakamahalagang okasyon na inaabangan ng karamihan sa ating mga Pilipino. Marahil dahil na sa malalim na paniniwalang sa araw na ito, Disyembre 25, ay isinilang si Hesukristo sa Jerusalem.

    Bagama’t may pagtatalo sa petsa ng tunay na kapanganakan ni Hesukristo, ang mga Pilipino, na mayorya ay Katoliko, ay nasanay nang ipagdiwang ang Pasko sa petsang ito.

    Ang totoo ay hindi mahalaga ang petsa. Ang mahalaga’y ang pagbubuklod ng pamilya sa araw ng Pasko. Maraming pamilya ang nagsasalo-salo sa anumang pagkaing naihanda, lalo na sa Media Noche o Noche Buena, na ginagawa sa Disyembre 24 bago sumapit ang alas 12 ng gabi. Hudyat ito ng buong araw na selebrasyon ng pamilya, mga kamag-anak at mga kaibigan. Kung hindi man maganap ang mga reunion sa mismong araw ng Pasko, ginaganap ito sa ano mang araw hanngang Bagong Taon o sa Three Kings o Feast of the Ephiphany.

    Ang Pilipinas ang may pinakamahabang selebrasyon ng Pasko. Nagsisimula ito sa Disyembre 16, sa pamamagitan ng Simbang Gabi kung saan idinaraos ang Misa sa madaling araw, alas 4:00 kadalasan.

    Ayon sa mga mga historyador, pinalaganap ng mga Kastila ang Misa de Gallo, o Simbang Gabi (simbang madaling araw) upang makasimba muna ang mga magsasaka bago sila magtrabaho sa bukid. Sa pagdaan ng panahon, ang Misa de Gallo ay naging Simbang Gabi na dahil ginaganap ang Misa kung gabi.

    Sa ngayon, ang Simbang Gabi ay naiiugnay ng mga kabataan sa kasayahan pagkatapos ng Misa. Maraming kakanin sa patyo ng simbahan tulag ng bibingka, puto bumbong, suman,kalamay na sinasamahan ng salabat o mainit na kape. Tunay na naging simbolo na ng Simbang Gabi ang katutubong pagkain.

    Bilang paghahanda sa Kapaskuhan, nagsasabit ng parol sa harap ng kanilang bahay ang mga Pilipino bilang simbolo ng Star of Betlehem, na ayon sa bibliya ay nakita at naging gabay ng tatlong Mago upang matunton nila ang sabsaban na kinalalagyan ng sanggol na si Hesus.

    Ang mga kabataan naman ay nagka-karoling sa bahay-bahay. Kinakanta nila ang mga awiting pamasko at binibigyan naman sila ng may-ari ng bahay ng pera bilang kapalit o simbolikong pagbabahagi ng biyaya.

    Sa araw mismo ng Pasko, punong-puno ang mga simbahan, lalo ng mga batang nakabihis ng bago at magagandang damit.Pagkasimba ay tuloy sila sa mga ninong at ninang o kaya ay sa mga lolo at lola upang magmano o huminingi ng bendisyon, isang napakagandang tradisyon.

    Ito rin ang hudyat ng buong araw na selebrasyon ng magkakamag-anak, ng reunion at kasayahan. Ang ganitong mga pagtitipon ang inaasam lalo ng mga OFW’s o mga Pilipinong nagtatrabaho o yaong mga nakatira na sa ibang bansa.

    Maaaring may mga nagbago na sa tradisyong Pilipino sa pagdiriwang ng Pasko dahil na rin sa modernisasyon o komersyalismo, subali’t nananatili ang diwa ng tunay na Pasko, ang pasasalamat sa pagsilang ni Hesukristo.

    Ito ang nagbubuklod sa maraming Pilipino.

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    Eat Healthy, Eat organic

    November 6th, 2017
    PANGASINAN farmers are starting to produce organic native vegetables. Photo by Gabriel Cardinoza

    EATING healthy could be a luxury these days!

    With so many constraints, like the high cost of healthy foods or the time needed for preparation or to buy good food for the family, many people just resort to instant meals like noodles which is affectionately called comfort food, apparently to hide the fact that noodles are just “laman tiyan” to satisfy a grumbling stomach for it has no nutritional value of consequence. So be aware that whatever you put in your mouth could later cause you your health.

    Nevertheless, all is not lost as we can now eat healthy at a much affordable price courtesy of the Agro-Technical and Livelihood Assistance in the North (Agtalon), a non-governmental organization of farmers which aims is to encourage people to eat foods that are grown naturally or processed naturally. In short, foods that are without any harmful chemical or food additives.

    The Agtalon was established in 1987 in Barangay Nalsian, Manaoag, Pangasinan. It is an Ilocano word that means  “to farm.”

    Victoria Padilla, Agtalon’s executive director, said more people are slowly becoming conscious of what they are eating. She added that the Agtalon’s three hectare farm produces organic rice, corn, vegetables, chicken and hogs and is trying hard to cope with the demand.

    Padilla explained that farm produce is classified to be “organic” if it carries the certification of the Philippine National Standards for Organic Agriculture. She stressed that without such certification, a produce supplier cannot use the organic tag in his or her farm produce.

    Moreover, Padilla said aside from producing organic foods, the Agtalon also aims to help farmers produce quality crops and to find markets for it.

    The Agtalon is not only helping protect the environment from harmful pesticides or fertilizers but also helps farmers raise the quality of their farm products. And, the best part of it is it is providing healthy food for the people, Padilla said.

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    All Saints’/ Souls’ Day Celebrations in the Philippines

    November 2nd, 2017
    A typical cemetery scene in the Philippines during All Saints’ and Souls’ Days Image ©

    TODAY is November 2 and All Souls’ Day is being observed in the Philippines.

    For Filipinos, especially for the Roman Catholics, this is the day where they would flock to the cemeteries to offer prayers, candles, food and flowers for their departed loved ones.

    There would surely be a  “fiesta” in the cemeteries, with so many people busy walking to and fro while some silently huddle together in a corner or grave site saying prayers for their dead relatives or friends.

    Starting at dawn, people flock to the cemeteries or memorial parks, be it public or private. Tents or makeshift sun shelters mushroom all over the place where relatives, who seldom see each other except for occasions like this, will hold “instant” reunions. They will have long chats while their children, restless young adults and even some adults will hold a picnic on top of the tombs or burial plots of their relatives who have gone over to the other side.

    With already so much chatter and movement around, it is a good thing loudspeakers and other noise-making gadgets are banned.

    Prior to all Souls’ Day, some Christians observe All Saints’ Day, a day devoted in remembrance of the exemplary deeds of saints or holy people.

    Masses and services in Catholic and other Christian churches are held to venerate the saints who have come before us.

    In some less traditional instances, children come to church dressed as saints. According to church leaders, this is the most appropriate way of celebrating All Saints’ Day instead of the young adorning themselves as devils, ghouls, zombies, or other gory creatures.

    In some rural areas during All Saints’ or even All Souls’ Day, children and adults go serenading all over town, a practice similar to Christmas caroling but in these instances, this Filipino version of trick or treat is called “pangangaluluwa.”

    The nangangaluluwa sing songs for the Virgin Mary and St. Lucia pretending to be souls in need. St. Lucia, it is said, is the “bearer of light” who dispense it to the deserving soul.

    In response, those serenaded give cash or food to the adult “nangangaluluwa.” The gifts are usually intended for Church use or projects. It is different for kids though as they divide among themselves whatever treat they get from doing the pangangaluluwa.

    However, pangangaluluwa is not practiced in urban centers or in schools. It has been replaced by the much western practice of “trick or treat.”

    In rural areas, glutinous or sticky rice called “suman” is served during these times. Suman is a sticky rice rolled and wrapped in banana leaves. It is cooked in coconut milk and sugar.

    Tamales, which is also made of glutinous rice, sprinkled with a dash of salt and an additive called lihiya — thus the name suman sa lihiya, is at times also served. Tamales is is dipped to a sweet sauce made of coconut milk and brown sugar, and sometimes stir-fried shredded coconut.

    Aside from the suman for the living, our kababayan also offer native delicacies to the departed, placing them in their graves or altar of remembrance, a practice we got from the Chinese.

    The Filipino way of celebrating Halloween — All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day  — is an important part of our culture and traditions. Hopefully it won’t be forgotten.

    It is a happy occasion where we also show our respect to our departed kins and friends. It is our  way of thanking and giving tribute to them for all that they shared with us.

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    Ingatan ang Inyong Mga Anak!*

    September 11th, 2017

    NAPAKARAMING pangyayari ang tunay na ikinakatakot ng mga magulang subalit walang hihigit pa sa pangambang dala ng kabi-kabilang patayan na kinabibilangan ng mga kabataan bilang biktima.

    Napakaraming espikulasyon kung sino ang salarin. Subali’t napakalinaw na kabataan ang biktima! Ano na ang mangyayari kung ang sinasabing “pag-asa ng bayan” ay maagang kinikitlan ng buhay o kaya nama’y nagugumon sa bisyo at nasisira ang kinabukasan?


    Paano na ang pag-asa ng bayan? Paano nila makakamit ang naisin nila kung laging may kinatatakutan? Paano na kung lagi silang may takot, lalo na ang mga magulang na tanging ang pananalangin ang sandigan upang ang mga anak ay makauwing ligtas sa bahay? Paano nila matutupad ang ambisyong maging maganda ang kinabukasan kung sila ay limitado ang galaw dahil laging may pangamba sa kanilang kaligtasan?

    Napakaraming tanong na sa halip na ituon ang panahon at kakayahan upang mapaganda at maging masaya ang buhay, ang isip ay nakatuon na lamang sa pagiging ligtas sa araw-araw. Nalilimitahan ang galaw, nagiging iba na ang direksyon ng buhay kung laging may pangamba sa buhay.

    Tanging ang pag-iingat na lamang ang makakapitan. Kailangang maging mahigpit ang pagsubaybay ng mga magulang sa mga anak. Ingatan sila lagi. Ipaunawa sa kanila na isang uri ng pagmamahal ang ginagawa ng mga magulang kung bakit kailangang laging inaalam ng magulang kung nasaan na sila, kung sino ang mga kasama, at kung anong oras uuwi.

    Dapat alam din ng mga anak paano pangangalagaan ang sarili. Huwag ilagay ang sarili sa peligro, umiwas sa masasamang barkada, at iwasan ang mga lugar na di ligtas. Maging mapanuri.  Huwag mainis sa magulang kapag tinatanong kung anong oras uuwi o kung sino ang mga kasama, at ano ang ginagawa. Ibig sabihin nito ay mahal kayo ng inyong magulang dahil ginagabayan nila kayo.

    Kapayapaan ay Kayamanan

    Tunay ngang kayamanan ang kapayapaan. Bakit?

    Dahil magagamit ng tao ang kanilang oras, talino at kapasidad sa pagpapaunlad ng buhay kung sila ay kuntento na sila ay laging ligtas. Makakapunta sa malayong lugar upang magtrabaho, masayang makapapamasyal kasama ng pamilya o ng mga kaibigan.

    Kung tahimik at ligtas ang kapaligiran, maitutuon ng mga tao lalo na ng mga kabataan ang kanilang talino at panahon sa magagandang bagay upang sila’y umunlad. Malaya silang makapupunta saan man nila naisin; walang pangamba na maaring sila’y dukutin o patayin, o gawan ng krimen ng mga kampon ng kadiliman.

    Sino na ang aasahan ng bayan kung ang kabataan ay nagiging biktima ng karahasan? Sa panahong ito, nagiging doble ang responsibilidad ng mga magulang para sa mga anak.


    *Ang mga pananaw sa artikulong ito ay sa sumulat.  Maaring hindi ito ang opisyal na posisyon ng Beyond Deadlines.





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    Napakaraming “sana” para sa ating mga Pilipino*

    August 28th, 2017

    NAAALALA pa ba ninyo ang kantang “Imagine” na pinasikat ng grupong Beatles noong mga 1960’s to 70’s?

    Ito marahil ang isang awiting pinagkukunan ng inspirasyon ng maraming Pilipinong nagnanais ng mapayapa at masaganang buhay.

    Mahirap makamit ang “utopia” o isang ideal na kalalagayan, ayon na rin sa “Imagine,” subalit ito’y nagbibigay ng pag-asa sa panahong napakarami nating katanungan…sa mga panahong tulad ngayon.

    Napakaraming “sana” ang naiisip ng ating mga kababayan.

    Sana ay hindi nasayang ang ipinaglabang kalayaan ng mga dakilang bayani, ng mga nagsakripisyo noong panahon ng Martial Law at ang mga dumagsa sa EDSA 1986 upang makamtan ang kalayaan. Sana ay maging tapat sa tungkulin ang iniluklok nating mamuno sa bayan.

    Ngunit nakalulungkot na pagkatapos ng maraming taon, ganito pa rin tayo.

    Napakaraming “sana” pa rin ang nasasambit. Sana ay mapayapa na ang bansa, masagana, malaya at namumuhay nang ayon sa ating ninanais. Sana ay magkakasama ang pamilya at hindi na kailangang pumunta sa ibayong dagat upang maghanapbuhay.

    At sana ay maging aral sa atin ang kasaysayan. Kahit paano, makakamit natin ang kahit ilang bahagi ng “utopia,” ang mabuhay nang payapa, masagana, at masaya!

    * * *

    Sa panahong ito na napakalaki ng papel ng social media, kailangang maging mapagsuri ang mambabasa. Isipin kung lehitimo ang balita o gawa-gawa lamang ng ilang tao na nais maghasik ng kalituhan. Divide and rule, ika nga, nang sa gayo’y madali nilang matamo ang tagumpay ng pansariling interes.

    Nakalulungkot basahin ang mga comments sa Facebook at ilang social media sites. May mga ilang tao na wari ba’y sarado na ang mga isipan sa mga nangyayari sa paligid. Nagiging duwag na at tamad nang magtanong o mag-isip. Kalimitang katwira’y hindi naman sila apektado ng mga pangyayari, o kaya nama’y nagsasawa nang makialam sa mga isyu.


    *Ang mga pananaw sa artikulong ito ay sa sumulat.  Maaring hindi ito ang opisyal na posisyon ng Beyond Deadlines.


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