Sunday, January 15, 2012

LifestyleBohol * Ug Matam-is nga Kinampay

It's time to paint the town purple again!  It's Bohol's 12th annual UbiFest on Wednesday and it's gonna be bloody awesome--purply bloody, that is.

Enjoy reading!

It’s a formidable task for a Bol-anon writer to figure out where to begin writing about ubi.  It has always been part of my life and upbringing and I feel like there’s so much to talk about.

As far as I could remember, kinampay has always been a word regularly used by everyone around me.  It was 17 years ago, as a kindergartener, that I was taught, word-for-word, how to sing the Bohol Hymn.  The nuns at my preschool explained, by way of showing us a piece of ubi, that the word Kinampay from “lungsod sa bungtod nga matunhay ug matam-is nga kinampay,” which we sang every Monday before the beginning of class, represents a big root that revealed a silky and sticky purple flesh when cracked open, and of the fact that it makes a favorite Bol-anon holiday delicacy when mashed and folded in with other tasty ingredients.

Of course, since this is Ludwig writing, I’m not going to leave you without dishing out a couple of facts.  This article will not dwell merely on my personal encounters with ubi, but on its relationship with our province and people as a whole.  This’ll be another history lesson and you better pay attention because this is important stuff.  This is about our beloved province.  People shouldn’t proudly call themselves Bol-anons and take the subject of ubi lightly.  Bail yourselves out of living as ignoramuses to your own culture and read on.

In the olden days—as in way, way back before the Spanish decided to colonize Bohol and proselytize everyone into adopting their belief system—ubi, particularly Kinampay, was regarded as the island’s most sacred crop.  It was treated with more care than gold and precious stones.  The method of sowing was ceremonious and intricate.  It was a source of pride for those who participated in it.  With the full moon soaring in the night sky, a line of non-menstruating virgins would march naked in ploughed land and plant ubi while uttering blessings and seeking the aid of Ay Sono, the Anito of the Island.  Surely enough, with proper care, the crops would grow and flourish as vines with leaves the shape of a heart.

Such a pagan tradition has been carried into Christianity particularly in the areas of the province where agriculture remains as the primary source of income for the people.  Bohol’s women are resilient, no doubt.  Traditions have lived through their persistence in preserving Bol-anon culture and that’s what puts a smile of awe on my face.  Although the original method of carrying out the planting may have been tweaked a little, to this day, there are those who—despite their Catholic beliefs—remain faithful to the way things were done before.

In the year 2000, having noticed the significance of ubi to Bohol, then Governor Rene L. Relampagos and Vice-governor Edgardo M. Chatto took a leap forward and launched the first Ubifest with the help of Mr. Lutgardo Labad.  The festival prototype was made open to all farmers, scientists, researchers, stakeholders, and businessmen from all organizations and universities all over the country.  As expected, it turned out to be an enormous success and has since then been held every year as an avenue for the promotion of ubi.

It has been nearly twelve years since the tradition of holding the Ubifest was started and I must say it has only gotten better.

This Wednesday, January 18th, the color purple will rule the island again.  The year 2012 marks the 12th Ubifest which will be opened at the Acacia Garden of the Bohol Provincial Capitol.  And as a tri-annual tradition, another Miss Ubifest will be crowned on January 19th, at Island City Mall.

Plenty of you may wonder what the essence of the Miss Ubifest pageant is.  Well, my answer has already been given.  Remember the women—the women of ubi!  She may not necessarily prace nude and barefoot under the full moon while planting ubi, but she represents the great part of history that women have played.

And how significant is all this to Bohol?  Observe the way the root looks on the outside.  Doesn’t it remind you of the shape of the land that grows it?  Moreover, it has been scientifically proven that ubi kinampay planted outside Bohol doesn’t grow the same way no matter how fertile the soil is.  It represents the inimitability of a Bol-anon.


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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Self-Introduction Write-Up for the T.S.P.B.S.G.

I wrote this introduction article for the national lecturers' study group of the Theosophical Society in the Philippines.

There are no pieces of sensitive information contained in it, so I figured it'd do no harm to post it here.



I'm Ludwig Bon Mirgiño Quirog, a 22-year-old Boholano. I've been an official member of the T.S. since 2008, but I've been attending meetings since as early as 7-years-old. My parents, Boni and Liza, are both Theosophists themselves so I was introduced to Theosophical ideas and literature early.

As a child, I grew up picking up all sorts of information from my environment and learning from them instead of following a funnel with a single view. I was taught that everything, including chairs and pillows, had life. I was also trained never to hate anything or anyone for any reason.

I had a fascination for comparative religion when I was little. I studied Eastern spiritualities with my parents and I even went through a phase where I declared myself a Buddhist with a dream of becoming a monk one day—which caused me to be ridiculed by everyone who didn’t understand.

In 2007, with the inspiration of my father and the world’s need for peace, I started to get involved with the interfaith dialog efforts of the United Religions Initiative. I fell in love with the organization because its cause is centered on ending religiously-motivated violence and promoting peace among the world’s different religions and spiritual traditions through dialog in grassroots communities—similar to the Theosophical principle of Universal Brotherhood. For the U.R.I., I co-founded a Cooperation Circle called Trust, Understanding, and Learning Among Youth—T.U.L.A.Y. C.C., for short. Its aim is to build trust and understanding by learning from each other. Moreover, it is primarily a circle that promotes environmental awareness, so its activities mostly have to do with Earth care endeavors such as coastal clean-ups, tree planting, awareness seminars, and nature appreciation trips.

In 2010, I turned my post as coordinator of T.U.L.A.Y. C.C. over to a co-founder of mine and I became the primary coordinator of Bohol Goodwill Volunteers Inc., the organization that my father had founded in 1996, which is also a cooperation circle of the U.R.I. Its advocacy is mainly social issue awareness and personal outlook transformation. We promote peace through spreading information on acceptance of human differences in race and gender orientation, and proliferation of a positive attitude towards gender equality among many things.

Last November, I was elected president of the Bohol Theosophical Lodge. I accepted it as a big challenge and with great honor. Yes, it entails a lot of responsibilities, but it is absolutely not a burden. As much as I will be able to help lots of people, I will also be helping myself in the process. And joining the B.S.G. is an awesome way to kick start things.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Not of the Dragon Yet

Just so you all know, the Year of the Water Dragon doesn't begin until January 23rd!

So, yeah.  Don't go around greeting Chinese people "happy Year of the Dragon," because it's still the Year of the Hare until then.

This article is about cultural awareness, okay?
I'm not scolding anyone.  I'm just writing this so you'd all be made aware.

Have you ever taken a long placement exam with multiple sub-section tests in a single session?  I bet you have.  You know... tests like NCAE, NMAT, LSAT, NEAT, NSAT, UPCAT, USTET, IQAT and other pretentious acronyms ending with E's or T's.  Yes, I'm talking about those.  They're pretty annoying, right?  And I'll be damned if a huge chunk of you reading this don't think the annoyance largely stems from the time limits.  I know you feel me here.

Take this situation: You're working on a test that you know is supposed to be good for one whole hour.  However, lo and behold, a seatmate of yours pokes your shoulder on the 52nd minute to tell you that your next test has begun.  Even though you know he/she is wrong, you still get pretty annoyed, don't you?

Well, for Chinese people and pedantic people with Chinese descent, that's kind of how it feels when you greet them "Happy Year of the Whatever-Zodiac-Animal-Comes-Next" before the Chinese New Year actually comes.

Also, when you try to make representations of the Water Dragon, please don't give them bat-like wings and arrow tip tails.  Those are European dragons.  Do a little research on the appearance of Asian Dragons before you try to draw anything.  And, much like the image above, the term Water Dragon doesn't refer to a dragon that dwells on water.  Rather, it refers to a dragon that's actually made of water.  However you draw the wateriness doesn't matter much, though.  Just please make sure it's not a creature that looks like it's been pulled right out of the Welsh National Flag and recoloured blue.

Anyway, until January 23rd comes around, Happy Last Days of the Year of the Metal Hare, everyone!

Monday, January 2, 2012

LifestyleBohol * More Than Loud Noises and Fireworks

I wrote this for the New Year's Day issue of LifestyleBohol.

It's already 17 minutes past January 1st in the Philippines as I'm posting this, but for the rest of the countries in the world where it's still New Year's Day, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Enjoy reading!

This day marks the beginning of 2012 CE for those of us who use the Gregorian calendar.  On my part, it’s very tempting to write a long did-you-know essay, but don’t be discouraged early because I won’t be doing that.  Sadly, I only have a couple of pages, so I’ll just leave the research work to LifestyleBohol’s readers as homework.  Well, that’s if they even care to know.  For now, let’s just stick to the New Year’s Day that we’re celebrating.

You may not be aware of it but January 1st is the closest thing the world has to a global public holiday, being that most countries use the same official calendar.  On that note, it’s important that we honor the tradition of creating positive changes in ourselves to live by throughout the rest of our lives.  It is on this day that most sensible people reminisce the year that just passed and contemplate on making themselves better.

What have you done in 2011?  What are the things that need to be changed?  What should you choose to keep doing this year?  Are there habits that need to be killed?  What can you do to help your children thrive on Earth after you’re gone?  The questions come pouring endlessly, but they need to be addressed the right way.

I know this all sounds cliché, but you have to admit that I’m making sense.  While each day of a person’s life is a chance to do good, the worldwide tradition of declaring resolutions for self-renewal on New Year’s Day is the perfect opportunity for those celebrating to make the world a better place.  The ancients have always regarded the month of January to be one of fresh starts.  It is, in fact, named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions.  See?  This is something that’s been going on since Julius Caesar instituted the Julian calendar in 46 BCE.  Why don’t we translate this tradition into a global peace-building endeavor?

Last Friday was José Rizal Memorial day for us Filipinos.  It was preceded by Christmas Day—the day celebrating the birth of Jesus.  Those were two men whose lives—as indubitable rationality posits—we should emulate.  They both lived to benefit humanity in so many ways.  They both defied tyrannical authorities that held their beloved people captive.  Among several other things, Jesus taught his people to break away from their enslavement to irrational customs and to search for the Kingdom of heaven within, while Rizal helped us Filipinos muster the strength to destroy the fetters that caused us to continually permit others to enslave us.  It is absolutely fitting that those dates come days before the dawn of the new year.  I don’t believe I need to explain further.

If 30% of all Boholanos abide by the selfless positive resolutions they create today, imagine what the province would be like at the end of the year.  On a global perspective, even if only 3% of the world’s population chooses to make lasting changes in themselves, the world will definitely see much better days.  Let me put an emphasis on the word “selfless.”  For instance, instead of simply saying “my resolution for this year is to lose weight,” give it a noble cause by adding “so I’ll be more physically capable of helping others,” or “so I’ll be healthy enough to raise my daughter and see to it that she grows up to be a happy and good woman,” or something like that.  You don’t necessarily have to give your aesthetic and livelihood-related goals up; just add something fruitful to it and it’s sure to make a difference.

Don’t ever throw the idea off as nonsense.  I know the feeling of having had so many unfulfilled aspirations, but it’s never too late to add them to next year’s list.  And like I said, put something related to character-improvement and you’ll be surprised at how quickly other things will fall into place.  This is because transformation begins within.  In 2013, you’ll be a better person without even knowing it—whether or not you have done every material-related thing on your year’s to-do list.  It only takes a willing and active consciousness and you’ll be an instrument of good, whether you’re poor as a mouse or richer than King Midas.

I acknowledge that this is harder for some than others.  It’s an especially gargantuan quandary for people who live selfish lives.  I wouldn’t disagree that the world’s socio-politico-legal culture is wretched and stained with a deep shade of wickedness, but are we going to allow ourselves to remain slaves to it forever?  We can make a choice anytime we want.  We could choose to tread the positive path tomorrow, next month, or four years later.  However, the best time to do it is now.  That’s an incontestable fact.  Yesterday has passed and tomorrow is covered by a cloud of uncertainty, so why not choose to make good today?  I don’t believe there’s anything bad about being good.

Moreover, what’s extra special about today is the fact that you’d be joining many others who have come across a life-changing spark and are wise enough to tag themselves as part of the worldwide movement of life improvement on New Year’s Day.  Don’t toy with second thoughts; just do it because you know it’s the right thing.

Beyond fireworks, loud noises and religious celebrations with mass services and bonfires of burning straw statues, today, we have a genuine opportunity en masse to make the world a better place for the ones to come after us.  Sure, we may party and jump and sing and dance and eat good food and drive all over Bohol screaming “Happy New Year,” but we must remember that behind the merriment, this day is celebrated to bring about new beginnings—positive ones, of course.

So forget the brouhaha about the alleged global annihilation on December 21st.  Yes, there will be storms and earthquakes and tornados and other devastating catastrophes all over the world this year.  You know what climate change does, don’t you?  Let’s deal with it rationally instead of jumping to conclusions based on misconceptions.  Concentrate on doing things that will work to make the world a better place to live in rather than biting your nails while waiting for a doomsday event that isn’t going to happen anyway.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!


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