Monday, December 29, 2014

Touching Base with Our Pangasinan Roots

My sister, Betta, decided to spend her annual (2014) one week time-share at an unlikely location--the Municipality of Lingayen in the Province of Pangasinan. She booked six nights at the El Puerto Marina Beach Resort. She and her son, Sijbren, stayed the first three nights and she gifted me and Selina the latter three nights.

Lingayen is best known as the American liberation landing site (mostly US Navy and some Royal Australian Navy) in January 1945 at the latter part of World War 2 (less than a year before the Japanese officially surrendered in September 1945).

During the initial landing, 68,000 troops were landed. A total of 203,608 landed in subsequent landings. Once ashore, MacArthur commanded over 280,000 men (more than Eisenhower in Europe). Lingayen then served as a vast supply depot for the Battle of Luzon until the end of the War (and, incidentally, led to the name of MacArthur Highway, which stretches from Aringay, La Union to Caloocan, Metro Manila).

In my case, Lingayen has greater significance than its WW2 exploits. It is the birthplace of my mother's paternal family line--the Padilla Family--and perhaps the most influential in terms of my upbringing. No doubt, Betta brought Sijbren to Lingayen not only to enjoy the local scenery but also to touch base with our Pangasinan roots.

The following quote in italics was written entirely by my first cousin, Lucas Antonio Madamba Padilla (http://genforum.genealogy.com/padilla/messages/617.html):

"My Padilla line is from Pangasinan (Lingayen, Sual, and Bugallon) and descends from one Maria Padilla (we took her surname). Her son is Vicente Padilla who in turn had two sons, Narciso and Tomas. Narciso, a lawyer, moved to Manila and became a regidor in the Royal Audencia and a rather prosperous landowner especially along what is now known as Escolta. Narciso had a son and a daughter. His son, Jose Sabino Padilla, became a canon of the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral. Narciso's daughter, Maria Barbara, married a lawyer by the name of Eduardo Resurreccion-Hidalgo. One of their children is the painter Felix Resurreccion-Hidalgo, contemporary and friend of Juan Luna.

Narciso's brother Tomas remained in Pangasinan where he was a prosperous businessman engaged in shipping and rice trading. He had several offspring, among them are Bishop Antonio Ma. Padilla, Padre Tomas Padilla, and my great-grandfather, Nicanor Escobar Padilla, one of the first doctors produced by the University of Santo Tomas.


Dr. Nicanor Escobar Padilla was also a colonel and Chief of the Medical Corps in the army of General Antonio Luna. He was called upon to served his province and country as a member of the Philippine Assembly of 1907 representing Pangasinan.

Nicanor Escobar Padilla (born 1851 and died 1936) was married twice. His first wife died in the cholera epidemic of 1888. His second wife was Ysabel Pena Bibby. From this union came the following offspring: Narciso B. Padilla (married to Concepcion Paterno), Justice Sabino B. Padilla (married to Dominga de los Reyes), Augusto B. Padilla (married to Natividad Angeles), Congressman Benedicto B. Padilla (married to Ingeborg Shutze), Felix B. Padilla (married to Noemi Guerrero), Carmen B. Padilla (married to Eduardo Lesaca), Dra. Florencia B. Padilla (married to Dr. Jose N. Dualan), Senator Ambrosio B. Padilla (married to Lourdes de las Alas), and Dr. Nicanor B. Padilla Jr. (married to Lourdes Potenciano). They also have an older half-sister (from Nicanor's first marriage), Aurora Padilla (married to Dr. Hilarion Caniza).

My particular line is descended from Justice Sabino B. Padilla and Dominga de los Reyes."

Highlights of our visit to Lingayen include crossing Dr. Nicanor Padilla Bridge, visiting Padilla Elementary School (former residence of Dr. Nicanor Padilla and donated by the Padilla Family to the government public school system) and driving along Don Nicanor and Padilla Streets in the heart of Lingayen. Note the Lingayen Airport, which is about 40 minutes away from Rancho Caridad by air on my ultralight aircraft.


Dr. Nicanor Padilla Bridge

Looking for the Historical Plaque


The Historical Plaque on the Bridge

The rest of our tour of Northwestern Pangasinan--from Lingayen to Sual, Alaminos (Hundred Islands), Anda and Bolinao
El Puerto Marina's Pet Arapaima (native to the Amazon River), around 5 feet long with a girth larger than my thigh
Note how far the breakwater (deep water and strong waves) is located
Puerto Del Sol Beach Resort, Bolinao
Resident turtles at Puerto Del Sol
Coastline along Bolinao; another potential landing location for an amphibious plane ;)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

IUUF

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

By December, the European Union will decide on the status of the Philippines as a noncooperating third party in its campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF). Last June, the Philippines received a “yellow card” from the European Union; the sanction was only a warning and did not entail trade measures. The formalization of this dialogue process served to strengthen the cooperation between the European Commission and the Philippines to address all problems within a logical time frame of six months.

Why is the European Union concerned about Philippine fisheries? It has a lot to do with the depletion of the world’s fish stocks. Globally, the demand for seafood is increasing, pushing the industry to resort to unsustainable, and sometimes illegal, fishing practices in order to provide consumers with fish to eat and enjoy.

Sadly, the Philippines’ seas are experiencing an unprecedented crisis: Ten of 13 fishing grounds have collapsed or are severely depleted. Despite this alarming news, Philippine fisheries continue to operate in a “business as usual” manner. Huge profits accrue only to the corporate few, much to the disadvantage of small-scale fisherfolk who cannot compete with commercial fishing vessels that encroach on municipal waters and where IUUF is rampant. Just one big commercial fishing vessel is enough to rob 65 small boats of their daily catch, the only means of livelihood for at least 1.2 million fishers nationwide.

The reasons for an EU action on IUUF are threefold: First, international consolidated tools are not enough. Second, IUUF has environmental and socioeconomic impacts on fish stocks, developing countries and legitimate trade. Third, the European Union is the largest importer of fishery products and is thus essential to ensure traceability in the whole chain—from net to plate—of all fishery products traded with it. To date, five countries have been issued yellow cards: the Philippines, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Curacao and Ghana. Three countries were issued red cards (which involve the imposition of trade sanctions): Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Guinea.

In a forum held at the Philippine Council of Agriculture Fisheries (PCAF), an EU representative mentioned six main issues that the Philippines would have to address concerning IUUF. These are: deficient traceability schemes; absence of a comprehensive catch certificate scheme; lack of compliance regarding flag state responsibility over the long-distance fleet operating in Papua New Guinea waters and the areas of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas; a legal framework not addressing IUUF activities, and without a deterrent sanction system; lack of sufficient administrative capacities to ensure control and enforcement; and lack of compliance with international law and Regional Fisheries Management Organization rules.

The chair of the PCAF Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, Arsenio Tanchuling, stressed the urgency to prioritize these six major deficiencies through the mechanisms that will operationalize the National Plan of Action on IUUF. Private-sector members of the committee and representatives of concerned civil society organizations, including Greenpeace, pledged support to assist the government in addressing the issues identified.

One of the commitments made by the Philippine government to address IUUF is to amend the Fisheries Code of 1998. In fact, the government tried its best to keep this yellow-card issue at bay, so much so that it conducted selected consultations to amend the Fisheries Code. To beat the EU deadline, the Philippines has been cramming to submit the amendments haphazardly.

It took no less than President Benigno Aquino III, who visited Europe last September, to assure the European Union that the Philippines is doing its best to comply with the issues on IUUF.

Unfortunately, “unlimited fishing” in Philippine waters by municipal fishing boats and commercial fishing fleets in high seas continues unabated. The small-scale fisherfolk—arguably the biggest stakeholders—are clueless about the government’s plan to address IUUF. Worse, they were not even consulted during the latter stages of the Fisheries Code amendment process.

Before the European Union’s yellow-card sanction, these fishers had to constantly remind and plead with the government to be more proactive to stop illegal fishing in their municipal waters. No government agency seemed to listen to the cares and concerns of the already marginalized fisherfolk.

Now, the Philippine government is on its toes as the European Union threatens to take away the lucrative businesses of the big commercial vessels that export fish to it. They certainly do not want to end up like Sri Lanka, which is now experiencing massive economic disruptions and further hardships in its fisheries sector.

It would take a concerted effort from the entire fisheries sector—from local fisherfolk to seafood consumers—to ensure that efforts on IUUF are not resolved along the margins of diplomatic tradeoffs only to benefit the “bigger fish.” As to whether the Philippines can expect a red, yellow, or green card from the European Union by Christmas time, your guess is as good as mine.

Ephraim Patrick Batungbacal is the Regional Oceans research coordinator for Greenpeace Southeast Asia



Philippines to amend fishing law to prevent EU fish ban

Europe
27.10.2014
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online

Manila (dpa) - The Philippine Senate approved a bill Monday to strengthen laws against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, to prevent the European Union from blacklisting its products.

The amendment to the Fisheries Act will impose stiffer fines and more administrative penalties.

"This amendment is needed to save our tuna industry from sanctions from the EU," Senate President Franklin Drilon told reporters.

"We have been marked as one country which have prevalent illegal fishing and unreported and unregistered fishing vessels, so we have passed the amendments to address the concerns of the European Union, and prevent sanctions on our tuna industry which can cost jobs, especially in General Santos City," he added.

General Santos City in southern Philippines is the tuna capital of the country.

In its 2012 audit report on the Philippines, the EU said that the country‘s present laws and regulations did not have enough sanctions and disincentives against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Drilon said EU had issued a warning which may result in the blacklisting of all Philippine marine and fisheries products in the EU. He said Philippines has to enact the law by the end of the year to address the warning.

A ban would harm the fishing industry and economic growth, he said.

Fishing was responsible for 2.1 per cent of the gross domestic product, according to a 2012 study from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

In June, the House of Representatives already passed its own amendments to the fisheries law. A bicameral committee of house and Senate is due to finalize the law soon.





EU gives Philippines ‘yellow card’ for not stopping illegal fishing

June 11, 2014 6:17 pm

The European Union on Wednesday said it is issuing a “yellow card” to the Philippines for not “doing enough to fight illegal fishing” in its waters.
A yellow card is a warning issued to a football player.
“This is not a black list, but a yellow card. We want the Philippines as partners to combat illegal fishing. We want the country to improve its legal and control systems as required by international rules,” European Commissioner in charge of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said in a statement.
Damanaki said the EU would want to signal to the world that it will not tolerate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing — a criminal activity which undermines the livelihood of fishing communities and depletes fish stocks.
“It must be eradicated by all means,” she said.
The commission also said the Philippines has not so far fulfilled its duties as flag, coastal, port or market states in line with international law, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement.
Areas that are ripe for improvement include the traceability system that should be able to ensure the legality of the fishery products exported to the EU, greater control on the long-distance fleet operating in Papua New Guinea waters and the development of a solid legal framework with a deterrent system of sanctions.
The European Union has proposed an action plan to deal with the “outstanding issues.”
In view of the serious threat posed by illegal fishing the EU has imposed trade measures against non-cooperative states, including banning that country from selling fisheries products to the EU.
The EU is offering technical assistance support to help the Philippines meet the requirements.
Because Philippine coastal communities rely on fisheries, the EU is keen to co-operate with the Philippines to help ensure the sustainability of their livelihood and global fisheries.
The fight against illegal fishing is part of the EU drive to ensure the sustainable use of the sea and its resources.
As the world’s biggest fish importer the EU aims to close its markets to illegally caught fish.
This decision, which was released on June 10, is based on the EU’s ‘IUU Regulation’, which went into force in 2010.
It allows access to the EU market only to fisheries products that have been certified as legal by the flag state or the exporting state concerned.
Given a similar warning in November 2012 were Panama, Togo, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Fiji, and Curaçao, Korea and Ghana.
Last March, trade measures were slapped by the council against Guinea, Cambodia and Belize.
The estimated global value of IUU fishing is approximately 10 billion euros per year.
Between 11 and 26 million tons of fish are caught illegally a year, which corresponds to at least 15 percent of world catch.
Fishery exports from the Philippines to the EU amounted to EUR 170 million in 2013, out of a total EUR 5.1 billion.
BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON

EU's fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

10 June 2014 
by eub2 -- last modified 10 June 2014 

The European Commission continues its action to fight illegal fishing worldwide by warning the Philippines and Papua New Guinea that they risk being identified as countries it considers non-cooperative in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Why has the European Commission decided to warn the Philippines and Papua New Guinea of the risk of being identified as non-cooperative countries?

The Commission's decision to warn the Philippines and Papua New Guinea as to their risk of being identified as non-cooperating was taken after a thorough analysis of their national systems for implementing the provisions of the IUU regulation (EC) 1005/2008. The analysis took into account each country's deficiencies in the fight against IUU fishing and its level of development.

The reasons for this formal warning – 'yellow card' - have been clearly outlined and communicated to both countries with particular focus on their failings in respect of international obligations as flag, coastal, port and market State. The Commission will now enter into a more formal dialogue with these two countries so as to propose actions to be incorporated into a formal Action Plan to rectify the identified deficiencies.

In parallel, the Commission continues to work and cooperate with third countries to ensure correct implementation of international fisheries rules and to promote the fight against IUU fishing. The future developments will depend on the willingness of these countries to cooperate actively with the Commission and address shortcomings in the fight against IUU fishing.

In 2012, the Philippines were the 12th largest fish producer in the world (FAO figures). The average catches in the waters of Papa New Guinea amounted to 700,000 tons in 2012.

What happens if the third countries concerned do not improve their situation?

The European Commission sets a reasonable deadline for third counties to react and improve their fisheries control systems. Informal discussions began in late 2011/early 2012 with both countries. However, insufficient progress has led to this pre-identification which opens the path for a formal dialogue.

In this further stage the Commission proposes to include clear benchmarks and criteria into the action plan to demonstrate progress. The Commission will then evaluate each country's progress on an individual basis. The first progress evaluation is expected within 6 months after the publication of the Commission's Decision.

The Commission hopes that the issues can be solved through dialogue and cooperation with the third countries concerned. If, however, they do not fulfil their duties under international law and fail to improve the current situation, then the EU can proceed to trade measures. Listing as non-cooperating third country is done through a Council Decision.

What is happening with other cases under investigation?

Fiji, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu received formal warnings – 'yellow cards' - under the IUU Regulation in 2012, and Ghana, Curaçao and Korea in 2013. Most of these countries have cooperated constructively with the Commission making significant progress in their fisheries management systems in order to curb illegal fishing. They have developed new legislation and improved their monitoring, control and inspection systems.

In March 2014, upon proposal of the Commission the Council of Ministers adopted trade measures against Belize, Cambodia and Guinea for their lack of commitment to tackling the problem of illegal fishing. Fisheries products caught by vessels from these countries are banned from being imported into the EU.

What are the EU rules in place to fight illegal fishing?

The EU's IUU Regulation entered into force on 1 January 2010. The Regulation applies to all landings and transhipments of EU and third-country fishing vessels in EU ports, and all trade of wild fishery products to and from the EU. It aims to make sure that no illegally caught fisheries products end up on the EU market.

To achieve this, the Regulation requires flag States to certify the origin and legality of the fish, thereby ensuring the full traceability of all marine fishery products traded from and into the EU. The system thus ensures countries comply with their own conservation and management rules as well as with internationally agreed rules.

In addition to the certification scheme, the Regulation introduces an EU alert system to share information between custom authorities about suspected cases of illegal practices.

What has been achieved so far?

Since its entry into force in 2010, the IUU Regulation's reach and impact on the fight against IUU fishing has increased year-on-year.

The IUU Regulation has had far-reaching impacts, leading to:
  • investigations on presumed IUU vessels leading to the subsequent imposition of sanctions by flag states and coastal states concerned;
  • the refusal of imports into the EU;
  • the pre-identification and identification of non-cooperating countries;
  • the listing by the Council of non-cooperating countries;
  • the acceleration of international cooperation against IUU fishing in Regional Fisheries Management Organisations and at bilateral level (USA, Japan);
  • the strengthening of the system of mutual assistance messages for the exchange of information on IUU activities;
  • the acceptance of the EU catch certification system by third countries;

So far, 90 third countries have notified the Commission that they have in place the necessary legal instruments, the dedicated procedures, and the appropriate administrative structures for the certification of the catches by vessels flying their flag.

Since 2010, the Commission has investigated more than 200 cases involving vessels from 27 countries. As a direct consequence of these actions, sanctions against almost 50 vessels, amounting roughly to 8m EUR, have been imposed by the flag and coastal states concerned.

The Commission has focused its enforcement action on geographic areas, such as West Africa and the Western Pacific region, where IUU fishing activities are most widespread and have the heaviest toll on marine resource and local communities.

Does the EU cooperate with Member States to enhance control?

The IUU Regulation can only be effective if proper control applies both within the EU and in third country waters. In EU waters the obligations stem from the Control Regulation (1224/2009 EU).

In practice, more than 100 alert messages were sent to EU Member States' authorities to direct their controls, check situations of risk, and to request investigations on presumed IUU fishing activities and serious infringements. The Commission has also promoted more widely the exchange of information and cooperation between the competent authorities in EU Member States. As a consequence numerous imports have been rejected by EU Member States.

Regular cooperation with flag States' authorities, amongst others in the context of evaluation missions, have further contributed to improved traceability "from net to plate".

As a consequence, legislative and administrative reforms aiming at improving the catch certification of the fishery products and the monitoring of their fleet have been introduced in several third countries.

Figures on IUU fishing


The estimated global value of IUU fishing is approximately 10 billion euros per year. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally a year, which corresponds to at least 15% of world catches. 


Oceans, the new battleground
Publication Date : 06-06-2014

There is a reason Earth is called the “Blue Planet”—two-thirds of its surface is covered with life-giving water.

More than just providing food and sustenance, the seas and oceans create more than half of the oxygen we breathe.  Their rich biodiversity is a source of life-saving medicine. The seas and oceans also help regulate the global climate, and cushion the impacts of climate change. Coral reefs and mangroves protect coastal communities from tsunamis and storms.

Whatever we do has a direct impact on our oceans, and it is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard this resource from which we benefit greatly. We are reminded of it particularly at this time of the year, when we celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8. The continuing theme is “Together We Have the Power to Protect the Ocean”—quite appropriate for us in the Philippines.

The Philippines is an archipelago heavily reliant on the seas and oceans. In fact, 40 million Filipinos depend on the seas for food and livelihood.  Unfortunately for us, our seas and oceans have been pillaged and our marine resources mismanaged, especially by those in the seat of government.

Our marine ecosystem is under severe threat. Only less than 1 per cent of our coral reefs is in excellent condition.  Half of our seagrass meadows has been lost in the last 50 years, while 75 per cent of our mangrove cover has disappeared in the last 90 years. Plus, decades of illegal, unreported, unregulated and unsustainable fishing practices have taken their toll on our fisheries.

The oceans have become a fierce battleground for resources. Small fishers are losing the competition against commercial fishing vessels. The fish catch of one commercial vessel is equivalent to a combined catch of 65 small fishers.

In fact, back in 1986, the amount of fish taken from Philippine seas had already exceeded the allowable limits needed to sustain our fish supply.  Compared to the 1960s, only 10 per cent of the fish population remains.  Ten out of 13 fishing grounds in the country are overfished.  And our fishers are becoming an endangered sector as well.

There is also rampant poaching of corals, sharks and sea turtles. The killing and harvesting of these marine species are environmental crimes under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (or CITES), an international agreement among governments. Its aim is to ensure that the international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Poaching has a detrimental effect on biodiversity regardless of territorial boundaries; it further weakens the marine ecosystem. That is why the conservation of marine creatures is crucial to maintain the ecological balance. It is imperative that all stakeholders, especially governments, protect these endangered marine species.

Reversing the decline of the marine ecosystem is not easy, but it can be done with everyone’s full cooperation and active participation.

Recently, Greenpeace, along with other fisher groups, nongovernment and civil society organisations, and the academe sent a proposed “Roadmap to Recovery for Philippine Seas” to the Presidential Palace.

The roadmap includes key recommendations on how to help save the country’s marine ecosystem from further decline. In particular, it calls on the Philippine government to: harmonise existing laws and policies which are fragmented under different agencies and departments; establish a national network of marine protected areas that is based on the connectivity of ecosystems instead of political boundaries; stop the issuance of new fishing licenses; and abolish commercial exemptions and keep municipal waters exclusive to small-scale fishers.

Philippine Environment Undersecretary for Political Affairs Tom Villaren accepted the copy of the Roadmap during the celebration of National Fisherfolk Day in Mendiola, Manila.

He acknowledged that marine and fisheries concerns needed to be integrated in the food security program of the government.

The clock is ticking. The battle goes on. We can only hope that President Aquino and his agencies will consider the Roadmap and heed the call to save the oceans before we run out of marine resources and lose our fishers.

(Vince Cinches is the oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines. He is pushing the “Roadmap to Recovery” to save the Philippine seas) 


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Mangal Marine Protected Area Ordinance of Mansalay . . . is still Pending!

I returned to Mansalay on the evening of October 13, 2014 to attend what I thought was the third and final reading (and passage) of the pending Mangal Marine Protected Area (MMPA) Ordinance of Mansalay. I was horrified when I met with the Secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan, Mr. Gregorio De Chavez, on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, and was informed that the regular SB session held last Wednesday, October 8, 2014, did not conduct the second reading of the pending Ordinance. As such, the second reading will only be conducted in the upcoming regular SB session on Wednesday, October 15, 2014. The thoroughly inefficient and wasteful process of the government bureaucracy never ceases to disgust me!

On Wednesday, October 15, 2014, only two (2) members of the SB showed-up. No quorum; therefore, no session. These people are paid and expected to show-up for work once a week. That's once a week and some apparently think its optional. No wonder it takes virtually forever to get the simplest things done in government. There is no sense of urgency even on an ordinance that addresses the most basic human need--food on the table. This cavalier attitude borders on criminal and is a great disservice to the poorest in the community.

Mayor Joel tries to make-up for lost time by requesting the SB to hold a special session on Monday, October 20, 2014, for the purpose of completing the second reading, such that the third and final reading (and passage of the Ordinance) can be accomplished on the next regular SB session on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.

Monday, October 20, 2014, comes along and the special SB session requested by Mayor Joel proceeds. The second reading is done and I am once again perplexed that the provisions not directly relevant to the pending Ordinance (and therefore deleted by Mayor Joel and Lynn of PAGO during the first reading) were reintroduced into the draft document. Another waste of valuable time due to the sheer inexperience of De Chavez (the son), who was imposing on everyone else's time just so he could get a bit more OJT on crafting legislation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014, the regular SB session proceeds without a hitch. The third and final reading is virtually done without much controversy until the Parking Area provision is discussed. It was as simple as, Mayor Joel asked for it on behalf of the fisherfolks and my family agreed to grant it. I had already cleared the details with Don Pedro Barangay Captain Alan Fabila, who passed a barangay resolution on the matter. I also crafted the appropriate language for insertion into the Ordinance. Between Fabila's barangay resolution and the language in the Ordinance, there was little left to the imagination as to what and where the Parking Area was going to be.

It was alarming to observe that some SB members either did not read the relevant document / provision or appear to have a basic reading comprehension problem. But the one that takes the cake is De Chavez (the son), who introduces and stubbornly insists on the utterly stupid notion that the government should dictate on a private property owner, which would have driven away any bonafide investor as far away from Mansalay as possible. Naturally, the Ordinance did not pass as planned because the inexperienced De Chavez was once again training on the job at everybody's expense.

After the third reading while having a late lunch at Aileen's, Konsehal Gustilo drops by and graciously offers a simple solution to the apparent impasse on the Parking Area provision, negating any provision allowing government to dictate on a private property owner. In short, if Barangay Don Pedro specifies the coordinates of the Parking Area in a barangay resolution, then the Ordinance is done.

Shortly thereafter, Konsehal Gustilo, Cocoy, Ige of Planning  (who brings his GPS device) and I proceed to Don Pedro. Kapitan Fabila and Kagawad Porek accompany us to the vicinity of the Parking Area at Mangal Estate, where Ige takes note of the 50 x 50 meter coordinates of the area using his GPS device. I assist Kapitan Fabila on the barangay resolution and, later, Ige on the illustration attachment to the barangay resolution. I craft a cover letter to the SB proposing the appropriate insertion for the Parking Area provision, which was submitted by Kapitan Fabila to Sec. De Chavez on Monday, October 27, 2014, together with the barangay resolution requested by Konsehal Gustilo.

If, for any reason, the SB does not accept its own proposed solution to the Parking Area provision, then the failure to pass the MMPA Ordinance of Mansalay would fall squarely on the inexperience and stupidity of De Chavez (the son) and the complicity of the SB at large for tolerating such ignorance. The boy is in dire need of some basic schooling on the principles of free-market enterprise and the market-oriented economy.

The boy seems to think that government is the solution to poverty, when the sole role of government is to catalyze the participation of private enterprise in the local economy and then to get the hell out of the way--Singapore is a prime example of this phenomenon. The alternative (and the reality thus far in poor towns like Mansalay) is years upon years of government subsidy, which only perpetuates the prevailing political patronage system that pimps dependency and fuels more poverty.

The boy seems to think that private sector participation is something to be tolerated. Well, I've got news for you. The only truly sustainable source of economic progress is private sector participation (which should be welcomed, embraced and celebrated) and, in the case of this inexperienced boy, it's not because of the supportive efforts of government but in spite of the obstructive behavior of government. Until this idiot is properly schooled, he should be kept as far away as possible from potential investors in Mansalay, particularly in his capacity as a member of the SB.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Apo Reef, Occidental Mindoro and Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro

Apo Reef, approximately 56 kilometers west of Apo Reef Club Resort, Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro
My road trip started around 7 a.m. on Sunday, September 21, 2014. In addition to my usual clothing and toiletries, my Vulcan was loaded with my scuba equipment, which fit nicely into my large backpack placed on top of the backseat and saddlebags--and secured by a bungee net. I rode from my home in San Juan, Metro Manila to the Port of Batangas, hopped on a RORO to Calapan and proceeded to traverse the entire stretch of Oriental Mindoro until I crossed over to the mountain forests of Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro and finally to the plains of San Jose City.

Apart from three small bridges under construction in Pinamalayan and Gloria, a short stretch of winding road through a hill heading south to Manaul, Mansalay, and a few other patches of bridge/road construction along the way, the entire stretch of road to San Jose was really quite decent. I arrived in San Jose at around 8 p.m. but I could have arrived before sunset (and saved myself the trouble of riding through unfamiliar mountainous winding roads in an evening thunderstorm) if I hadn't taken too many rest stops along the way. Live and learn!

Upon arriving in San Jose, I noticed that the town was barely lighted. There was no electricity. My thoughts immediately shifted to my evening accommodations in the absence of air-conditioning, which was not a pleasant proposition. I was surprised at my hotel (Jazmine Royale Hotel), which had a sizable electric generator to run the air-conditioning units of the hotel rooms--no extra charge! My room and bath were clean and had a hot shower. There was adequate parking for my Vulcan and there was a security guard outside the entrance of the hotel for the night. The rate was reasonable at P900 per overnight stay.

On Monday, September 22, 2014, my final leg from San Jose to Calintaan, where Apo Reef Club Resort is located, was also quite decent, with only about 3 kilometers of rough road towards the end of about an hour ride before turning left into a short access road to Apo Reef Club Resort.

Approximately 420 km from Point A (San Juan, Metro Manila) to
Point B (Apo Reef Club Resort, Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro)--
a picturesque motorcycle ride that is doable in a single day
I was informed that P-Noy visited Puerto Galera just a few weeks ago (end of August 2014) and the word on the street is that the illusive road from Abra de Ilog to Puerto Galera, a mountainous and treacherous stretch in excess of 20 kilometers that will close the only remaining gap of the circumferential road around the entire Island of Mindoro, will finally be constructed. Indeed, I look forward to the day that I can comfortably cruise around the entire Island of Mindoro on my Vulcan without worrying about some stretch of rough road that'll destroy my motorbike. If the promise is kept, then this completed circumferential road becomes a reality just before the end of P-Noy's term in 2016 and the Island of Mindoro will join the ranks of other Philippine islands with completed circumferential roads, including Marinduque, Bohol and Panay.

For those who are not passionate about traveling by motorbike, there are regular flights from Manila to San Jose City, Occidental Mindoro (less than one-hour flight duration), where you can be picked-up and brought straight to Apo Reef Club Resort (about a one-hour drive from San Jose City Airport). In this scenario departing from Manila, you are comfortably settled at the definitive gateway of Apo Reef in about two hours.

Michael Roos (mobile number: +63-917-825-2599), the Swiss proprietor of Apo Reef Club Resort, is a relatively recent pioneer in the eco-tourism sector primarily showcasing Apo Reef to both the international and local scuba diving communities. Yet in just a few years, he has managed to set-up a comfy resort managed by a hand-picked team of service-oriented personnel. His room rates (basic electric fan rooms and very comfortable air-conditioned rooms) include dinner and breakfast buffets, which (surprise! surprise!) are prepared by a very competent and well-trained cook. The food was delicious, which is usually NOT the case in less-developed rural settings such as Calintaan.

With respect to the main offering of the Resort (i.e., scuba diving at Apo Reef), Mike or Mickey (as he is called by his team) has what I call a "mini-liveaboard" that brings you out to Apo Reef on the morning of the first day and brings you back to the Resort on the afternoon of the second day. That means you get to sleep overnight on his mini-liveaboard dive boat under the skies of Apo Reef. Unfortunately, his mini-liveaboard dive boat was still being repaired during my visit, so we were brought to Apo Reef by his speed boat (about an hour trip each way) on each of the two days we went scuba diving--returning to the Resort to sleep overnight. We dove 3 times each day or a total of 6 dives in 2 days.

Admittedly, the first day of diving was a bit disappointing. The marine life just didn't seem to be in the mood to display themselves. The second day was much more rewarding. We were even treated to delightful "stroll" with a sizable clan of dolphins halfway towards Apo Reef. Click the following link to view the film clip on YouTube: Dolphin Encounter.

Yes, I saw plenty of fish--big, small and different schools of fish. White tip sharks were common. Saw a gray reef shark and an eagle ray briefly and from a distance. Sea turtles not as frequently as I would have expected. Coral conditions were quite ordinary compared to the ones I saw in Apo Island, Dumaguete, although this may not be a fair comparison given the much larger area of Apo Reef of Occidental Mindoro compared to Apo Island of Dumaguete. All in all, my dives in Apo Reef are still some of my best dives, right alongside those in Apo Island and Balicasag. It was a bit surreal to have Martin as our dive lead. You see, Martin is a blond and blue-eyed Swiss, who appears more suited as a Ski Instructor in the Swiss Alps rather than a Scuba Diving Instructor in the Philippines ; ) I'm looking forward to returning to Apo Reef Club--this time on their mini-liveaboard overnight at Apo Reef.

Highlights of Apo Reef Dives (1)
Highlights of Apo Reef Dives (2) -- watch for the eagle ray towards the end of the film clip
Highlights of Apo Reef Dives (3) -- pretty and relatively shallow wreck dive

From Calintaan, I returned to Mansalay to attend to the pending marine protected area ordinance that was tentatively scheduled to pass on Wednesday, October 1, 2014. In the absence of Mayor Joel, who was out of town over the weekend, I decided to proceed to Puerto Galera, where I dove 3 sites on Sunday, September 28. My first dive at the Canyons was quite memorable. It was definitely the strongest drift dive I've done so far--not for beginners or the faint hearted. The current was quite strong such that we surfaced in the "open blue" halfway to Isla Verde! Our dive lead was Beat, another Swiss Dive Instructor (apparently quite common in the Philippines), who is associated with Sea Rider Dive Center of Mark Narvacan, Proprietor. I found out that one of our diving buddies in Planet Dive, Prandy Yulo, is also a regular patron of Sea Rider. Looking forward to diving with them again!

Puerto Galera Dive Sites
The rest of my stay in Mindoro was focused on the pending marine protected area ordinance of Mansalay. I attended the first reading (Wednesday, October 1) of the draft ordinance and we made great progress on the draft to the point that the draft for the second reading (Wednesday, October 8) was, in my opinion, ready for passage. I am returning to Mansalay on Monday, October 13 to witness and assist, if necessary, the third reading and the passage of the Mangal Marine Protected Area Ordinance on Wednesday, October 15.

I introduced this concept to the municipal government as early as May 2012. Assuming the ordinance is passed on October 15, that's 2 years and 5 months in the making of a simple ordinance that should have taken only a few weeks to pass. Unless the Sangguniang Bayan (SB, the local legislative body) drastically improves its response time to private investment initiatives, Mayor Joel's aspiration of Mansalay as a major tourist destination is doomed to fail! The SB needs to be violently whipped into shape from a stodgy unresponsive bureaucratic body to a lean, mean and ultra-responsive legislative machine!

On Tuesday, October 7, I returned from Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro, my scuba mask, snorkel, mobile phone, credit cards, driver's license, ATM card, scuba license and a few hundred pesos in cash stolen--right under our noses in the beach cabin in Casabangan. It left a bad taste in my mouth after a fun and fruitful two-week sojourn in the Island of Mindoro. In spite of all my family's efforts to help the Municipality of Mansalay launch a truly world-class tourism complex, some low-life shithead, who has nothing better to do, prostitutes his miserable soul to the devil by stealing my stuff that's of little use to him. It only cements the notion that the tourism complex we have in mind should be tightly secured to keep the hoi pollio out other than to provide much needed employment. Our mantra is to reel-in reputable institutional investors/locators to create jobs for the local community.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Diving around Apo Island

Sans Rival Restaurant, Dumaguete
Dumaguete's bayside boulevard
Somewhere between Malatapay, Zamboangita and Apo Island
Wondering what's in stored in the depths of Apo Island?
Where's the boatman?
I saw at least one pawikan in each of my nine (9) dives. They are all over the place and unafraid of the divers.
Bumphead parrotfish, another critically endangered species found in Apo Island
. . . and another impressive dive . . . (nine dives in all during our stay at Apo Island)
Is this guy fat, dumb and happy or what?
Did you know that one of the oldest operating aquariums in the world (the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, built in 1930) has a Philippine coral reef exhibit (alongside exhibits of other aquatic environments ranging from the Pacific Northwest to the Amazon River to the Great Lakes) simply called the Wild Reef Exhibit, which opened in 2003 at a cost US$45 million?

The Shedd Aquarium has 2 million annual visitors. It was the most visited aquarium in the U.S. in 2005 and in 2007. It surpassed the Field Museum as the most popular cultural attraction in Chicago. Incidentally, the Wild Reef Exhibit is modeled after Apo Island--not to be confused with Apo Reef, west of Occidental Mindoro.

Apo Island Dive Map. My favorites include Coconut, Cogon and Rock Point East.
Yes! We can see the real thing right here in our own backyard . . . and what a sight to see! Although I am not the most traveled scuba diver, I have been to enough diving sites in the Philippines to assess and compare the ones I have visited. To date, I would rank Apo Island as my number 1 pick, followed by Balicasag, then Anilao at 3rd place. I have gone scuba diving in El Nido but it was "plankton season" according to the locals (Jan to Feb), which results in poor visibility underwater. Hence, I reserve my judgement on El Nido until I have returned under better diving conditions. Next on my target list of dive sites are Puerto Galera, Verde Island, Apo Reef (Occidental Mindoro), Coron, Siargao and Tubataha Reef.

Sites we've gone diving . . . Hitting Apo Reef and Puerto Galera soon!

Apo Island's eco-tourism industry is an excellent success story that can be emulated by many coastal communities in the Philippines. In spite of the catastrophic damage to the marine sanctuary of the island brought about by the super typhoons over the past few years, it's coral reefs around the other parts of the island are still in great shape--better than those I have encountered in Anilao and comparable, if not better, than those in Balicasag. In addition to the marine sanctuary, the local community appears to have a genuine appreciation for the marine life--allowing them to grow to impressive sizes for conservation, eco-tourism and, ultimately, additional livelihood.


In Apo Island, I am reminded of the unspoiled coral reef of Casabangan Bay, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro. That was over 30 years ago. I also see its future, if the town's Sangguniang Bayan (SB) quits dribbling and delaying the passage of the ordinance of the proposed marine protected area (MPA) at Casabangan Bay. Inexcusable, unacceptable and an extraordinary waste of government in so far as government is already a waste in most every respect. A bunch of self-important over-entitled morons who expect extra-ordinary reward and recognition for what they ought to be doing in the first place. 

If the Mansalay SB continues to putter around the proposed MPA, it may be time to get the Environmental Ombudsman involved for gross negligence at the very least and, more appropriately, for "bureaucratic terrorism"--a common phenomenon in weak and/or corrupt government institutions in which officials withhold or "hold hostage" a permit, approval and/or endorsement on a whim (just because they feel like it), without rationale basis and/or beyond their realm of authority in order to reinforce their over-inflated sense of self-importance and/or to extort a bribe in cash or kind.

Many thanks to our hosts, Mario and Mila Pascobello, Mac Mac (our fun, capable and knowledgeable dive master), Teresa, Helen and Archer (plays a mean guitar), who shared their home and a slice of their marine paradise with us. See you again next year!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sangbay ni Ragsak (Waterfalls of Happiness)

About an hour's drive from San Fernando, La Union, heading northeast, is a quiet little town called Suyo (Ilocos Sur)--population (August 2014) of approximately 12,000 people. Armand suggested we ride our motorbikes to check-out some waterfalls in Suyo with his friend, Jessie, who is, in turn, a friend of Suyo's Mayor, Samuel "Mario" Subangan Jr. And so, off we rode to Suyo at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

It was a relatively leisurely ride from Rancho Caridad (Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija), which lasted about four (4) hours. The last hour of the trip was the stretch from San Fernando, La Union to Suyo, Ilocos Sur, with the final half-hour traversing good concrete "twisties" until we stopped to take a break at the Mayor's home. Before we knew it, lunch was served and, thereafter, the Mayor lent us his 4x4 and instructed his staff to bring us to Sangbay ni Ragsak, which is Ilocano for Waterfalls of Happiness.

From the Mayor's house, which is right across the munisipyo, it was a picturesque 20 minute ride on the 4x4 (through concrete roads) plus a relatively easy 20 minute trek on foot. Sangbay ni Ragsak is comparable to Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna and Bomod-Ok Falls in Sagada. However, there is no need to "shoot the rapids" (admittedly part of the fun in Pagsanjan) or to trek one to two hours (as in the case of Bomod-Ok) to reach the falls itself. Further, the pools below Sangbay ni Ragsak are ideal for taking a dip, which is exactly what we did when we got there.

Afterwards, we were brought to the eco-tourism pool resort operated by the municipal government, which is clean and well-maintained. It has a couple of rooms that can be rented for P800 per room per night as well as a cottage for an entire family for P3,000 per night. It's surrounded by forest trees and mountains, with only the sound of the nearby spring and the soft wind to relieve the most stressed nerves. Shortly thereafter, we dropped by the Mayor's office to convey our gratitude and appreciation. Although our visit was brief, it illustrates without a doubt that genuine old-fashioned Filipino hospitality is alive, well, and embodied in Mayor Mario and the town of Suyo.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lolo Bino, President Quezon and Judicial Independence

After the ratification of the new constitution on May 14, 1935, the National Assembly through Commonwealth Act No. 3, reduced the membership of the Supreme Court from eleven to seven. The reduction could have become a full-blown political controversy if not for the decisions of five American court members to resign their posts. The all-Filipino judiciary now had the task of restraining President Manuel Luis Quezon, the dominant figure of Philippine Commonwealth politics.

Unfortunately, the judiciary provided timid resistance to Quezon. The president sought to influence the judiciary through his public pronouncements as well as discreet maneuverings.

In the early years of Lolo Bino's career as a judge in the Court of First Instance in the City of Manila, the case of Cuervo versus Barredo (65 Phil. 290 [1938]) landed in his sala at the time President Quezon was running for re-election under the theme of "social justice".  The issue at bar was whether an employer was liable to pay damages to the heirs of an employee who drowned when ordered to retrieve a piece of log in the river by the employer’s foreman.

Quezon, a consummate panderer to the masses and the original "trapo" of Philippine politics, wanted Padilla to decide in favor of the underdog. However, Padilla of the Court of First Instance ruled that no liability existed due to the negligence of the employee to ensure that he would not drown. True to form, Quezon summoned Padilla to Malacanang and berated him like some errant houseboy. Out of respect for the Presidency, Padilla responded:

"Your excellency, I decided on the case based on my understanding of the law, the dictates of my conscience and, above all, my fear of the Good Lord. If you do not approve of my decision, then I hereby tender my resignation."

Quezon did not accept Padilla's resignation. Instead, he had Padilla assigned to one of the most dangerous judicial posts in the Philippines--the Court of First Instance in the Island of Jolo. This was a veritable death sentence, particularly in light of the infamous Moro juramentados in Jolo, who would murder government personnel (including soldiers and judges) in the name of Islam--Quezon's payback for Padilla's judicial independence.

The decision of Padilla at the Court of First Instance was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Quezon lambasted the court rulings as one that was made by “seventeenth century judges interpreting twentieth century laws” (Guevarra 1999, 451). The public pronouncement was made before the Supreme Court rendered its decision on the highly-publicized case. The Supreme Court did reverse the decisions of the lower courts, but Justice Laurel strongly rebuked the president’s antics during and after the Cuervo case.

During his "tour of duty" in Jolo, Padilla sentenced a number of prominent Muslims to death and personally attended the executions of the same. Yet, he would take daily walks along the beach without the protection of any bodyguards. Many years later, when his son, Tito Bing, attended a hearing in Jolo, he noticed one picture frame in the hall of justice (which has since burned down). It was the picture of then Judge Sabino Padilla, who was apparently beloved by the local Muslim community due to his judicious and fearless decisions in court. At the wake of Lolo Bino, many Muslims travelled from Mindanao (including Jolo) to Manila to pay their last respects. 

Quezon had his way with the Court in a lot of cases. In his memoirs, Justice Malcolm (1957) commented that Quezon “had his prerogatives confirmed by the Supreme Court” (p. 131). Justice Isagani Cruz and Cynthia Datu (2000, 89) remarked that during the period “executive intervention was so widely known.” Quezon almost always had his way with the Court. It was said that “Ozaeta (Quezon’s Attorney-General) never won in the Supreme Court, but Quezon never lost” (Ibid., 90).

Monday, August 4, 2014

Oyster Heaven

I googled this picture of oysters but the ones I ate were at least as meaty as these.

I love a hearty serving of fresh meaty oysters, simply blanched in boiling water for a couple of minutes. This also makes it easier to pry these suckers open with a sharp knife (blade should not flex). WARNING! You will probably slice your finger one way or another if you are not extremely careful. Be sure the sharp side of the knife blade is pointed away from any part of your fingers, hands, legs or body when opening oyster shells. Doused with vinegar and onions, you are all set to slurp, slurp, slurp.

Last Saturday (August 2, 2014), my friend, Armand Bernal, invited me to visit his first cousin, Fernando "Pando" Bernal, who lives in Rosario, La Union--about an hour northwest of Rancho Caridad by car. His inducement was . . . fresh oysters. Say no more. It so happens that the younger brother of Pando, Eric Bernal (who lives in Manila), was visiting his brother. So, Armand, who lives in Mocada, Tarlac, was invited for a family reunion of sorts.

Given the extensive coastline of the Philippines, I wonder why fresh high quality meaty oysters are so hard to come by in the Philippines. After surveying the coral reef of Casabangan Bay in Mansalay and learning about its destruction, alongside the destruction of 95% of the coral reefs in the Philippines (alongside the destruction of the 15 million hectares of forest stand in the country--now estimated at less the 2 million hectares, if that; alongside the over-exploitation of the marine resources in the country, which is aggravated by the poaching of endangered species by Chinese fishermen), it all boils down to the overpopulation of ignorant and uneducated people, who just keep taking and taking from the environment without giving back--until the natural environment has nothing more to give. Then, these people turn to the government for subsidy, which the government extorts from taxpayers like me.

Apparently, one can purchase oysters from the public market of Sto. Tomas, La Union. However, they are reportedly run-of-the-mill. The ones delivered to Pando's home, which is located on a two-hectare property in Rosario, La Union (the neighboring town southeast of Sto. Tomas), along the national highway, were oysters grown for home consumption. These were not for sale but given to friends and family on occasion. I was fortunate to partake of these "special" oysters, which were the best I had in all my life. These are grown along the coast of an islet (separated by a sandbar that appears and disappears according to the tide) across the fishhook-shaped bay of Sto. Tomas--see the Google Map below. This counts as one of my treasured discoveries near Racho Caridad.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

The True Tales of Pedring Rabino, Part 3

In our modern world today, where mass media, pop-culture and consumerism, by way of the idiot box (i.e., television), have infiltrated and poisoned the minds of people even in the most remote villages in the country, the talk of magical amulets, anting-anting, agimat and the unusual powers they bestow on their custodians is considered laughable, amusing, a thing of the past relegated to the confines of the over-active imagination of the old folks. Yet, the stories remain long after the characters are gone, as vivid, colourful and full of wonder today as when they were told in the past. Perhaps the magic lies not in the amulets but in the stories themselves. They offer a refreshing glimpse of simpler times, the trials and tribulations of the human condition, the spirit of community, the excesses of modern society and the fundamentals of good and evil. Personally, I believe they are still out there, a select few with the powers of the anting-anting. If we learn to drown-out the ever-increasing noise in our midst, then we will most assuredly rediscover them and celebrate their novelty once again.

Here are some of the things I have learned about the anting-anting in the course of seeking and writing about the exploits of Pedring Rabino:

Anting-Anting ng Kalabaw (The Amulet of the Carabao)

One of the most familiar magical amulets is the amulet of the carabao. The carabao is the country’s beast of burden, which has dutifully served our farmers since the advent of agriculture. After they were tamed or domesticated, they were (and still are) used to plow fields and to transport goods, much like a tractor and pick-up truck rolled into one animal. They even serve as playmates of children, especially when bathing in the local streams. Indeed, many farmers consider their carabaos as members of the family and treat them with great respect and fondness.

The carabao from which the amulet is derived is no ordinary carabao. It is called the Tamaraw, an endemic species found in the wild only in the Island of Mindoro and is now critically-endangered. Through the years, it has been recklessly hunted nearly to extinction for food and its natural habitat continues to be reduced by the unmitigated explosion of the human population in the Island.

It is said that the first tooth that is lost by a wild Tamaraw, if retrieved and kept by an individual, will bestow upon him exceptional physical strength. He will also have the ability to control and command any carabao, whether it is wild or domesticated.

It is difficult enough to decipher when a wild Tamaraw will shed its first tooth. Yet, it is even more difficult to take that first tooth from the beast. Allegedly, the Tamaraw will swallow its first tooth instinctively (perhaps due to its magical qualities) to prevent it from falling into the hands of an unintended recipient. So, even if you are astute and patient enough to determine the precise moment that the first tooth will fall, you can expect the Tamaraw to resist or even attack you if you should attempt to take away that first tooth. However, like all magical amulets, if you have a deep and profound desire to acquire it, and if your heart is in the right place and intend to use its powers for good, then you will eventually prevail.

The Amulet of the Carabao in Action

Many years ago, when asphalt was being laid over the dirt roads of Mansalay, there was an elderly farmer who was on his way home along with his carabao, which was pulling a bunch of mature and freshly cut bamboo. The clump consisted of about 8 to 10 pieces of bamboo, each about 4 to 5 inches in diameter at the base and reaching over 20 feet in length. The farmer and his carabao were going to pass through their usual route, which was the main road that had a fresh overlay of asphalt.

When one of the construction workers noticed the heavy haul of bamboo dragging behind the carabao, he requested the farmer to use the detour dirt road to avoid damaging the newly installed asphalt that needed time to congeal and harden. Seeing how much longer a distance his carabao would have to haul the bamboo through the detour, the farmer stopped and unleashed the load from the carabao. He then tied-up the clump of bamboo more securely, bent over the mid-section and effortlessly hoisted the same above his head. He proceeded to walk on the asphalt road, carefully balancing his cargo to prevent any strand of bamboo from touching the road.

To be continued . . .