Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Exploring Iloilo While Gaining the Satisfaction of Helping Others through Gawad Kalinga’s Mabuhay Program

These days, people are making great use of their time to participate in community volunteer work in poor communities that have great needs. And those who start to get involved in some kind of community volunteer work or connecting themselves to a voluntary charity organization are increasing. And there is certainly no shortage of opportunities to get oneself connected through the community volunteer work program offered by Gawad Kalinga.

Gawad Kalinga (GK) is a local-based poverty alleviation and nation-building movement. Officially known as the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation it is aimed at empowering communities by people with faith and patriotism; driven by a culture of caring and sharing, dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity.

Gawad Kalinga is exceptional because it uses the holistic community development approach against poverty by connecting all sectors of society, through public and private partnership, and in the spirit of teamwork, GK is able to re-establish self-respect of the poor. It involves programs on Child and Youth Development, Community Building, Green Kalinga, Bayan-Anihan, GK Kalusugan and Community Infrastructure.

Volunteer work for Gawad Kalinga may range from visiting poor families to provide vaccinations, teaching skills such as cooking, sewing, and even tutorials to members in the community, and even building houses for residents of identified poor communities. There is something for just about anyone who is interested in getting involved. The organization is ready and willing to accept voluntary services.

Gawad Kalinga offers a great opportunity for volunteers to make a real difference in other people’s lives as well as working alongside teams of enthusiastic volunteers. Volunteers will enjoy the culture and warmth of the GK communities, as well as the opportunity to explore the local area and visit its attractions.

With tourism as its benchmark, Gawad Kalinga’s MABUHAY program allows one to explore the sights of an area while gaining the satisfaction of helping others. By working side by side with local residents you will be more than just a tourist passing through, you will become a member of the community.

The Gawad Kalinga-Iloilo Mabuhay project for the Christmas season is an inter-GK village Christmas Setting competition. Spearheaded by the First Lady of the province of Iloilo, Mrs. Cosette T. Defensor, Gugma Kag Kalinong sa Ti-on sang Pakwa involved the 67 households for USWAG PLDT-SMART Amazing GK Village in So-oc, Arevalo in Iloilo City; 45 households for Jose Maria “Rusty” Cacho Village in San Isidro, Jaro, Iloilo City; 57 households for Don Delfin Gonzalez GK Village in Jaro, Iloilo City; 42 households for Good Samaritan GK Village in Janiuay; 18 households for Saladmaster International/ Gloria Pacis GK Village in Pototan; 58 households for Fiesta Filipina Canada/ New Jersey GK Village in San Geronimo, Barotac Viejo; 32 households for Ajuy-Canada GK Village in Ajuy; and, 35 households for Immaculate Concepcion GK Village and 55 households for Chicago GK Village in Concepcion.

Gawad Kalinga’s Mabuhay project promotes a destination while taking part in projects in the local community on projects with potential positive social and environmental benefits to the community and the volunteer.

It is GK’s way to learn about the people and place you are visiting on a deeper level and establishing long-lasting connections, discover more about cultures and about oneself. It is also a way of giving back to a community you are visiting, to lend a helping hand to those in need, and to work towards a cause you and GK believe in.

Our world is a tough place, and there is no way to change it. But with a little compassion and a bit of time, we can actually make a difference. And if we cannot change the world, we can at least change their world.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Unique Christmas Gift for the Children of Sitio Camandag in Leon

The province and city of Iloilo were placed under a state of calamity along with the provinces of Aklan, Capiz and Antique from the devastation left by Typhoon “Frank” in 2008. The typhoon flooded communities and left widespread damage in these areas.

It has been two years since the catastrophic Frank hit Iloilo big time with so much rain that even consumed some parts under water, washing away properties, houses, live stocks, and human lives.

Despite all these calamities, people never stop hoping and consistently cling to their faith to God. It is in situations such as this that unites us and continues to make us stronger as a community. The challenge is then for all of us to make a move in extending our hand to those who needs carrying. And Turismo Agustino took the challenge.

Turismo Agustino, a group of tourism students from the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of San Agustin is joining hands in efforts to help depressed areas by reviving the relief drive which aimed in reaching out to identified community. For three years now, the group goes out of their way to visit Sitio Camandag in Barangay Bucari, Leon to feed the community and give used clothing. The group’s outreach efforts for the past years have helped a number of children and their families, who have been displaced and who have nowhere else to turn.

How lucky we are to live the way we do. And it is funny at times how much we can take for granted things not until we see what others do not have an option to have. Despite that fact that people in the area have less, they always seem to be happy and have a smile on their faces. The people never stop hoping and consistently cling to their faith to God.

There was an overwhelming response from the students. They frequent the area for relief operations, distributing clothing for families, candies and entertaining the kids with their games, and feeding everyone.

The annual project has taught them that no matter what person you are, you can make a difference in anyone’s life. It’s amazing how just a little bit of inspiration and hope that the students can send to these people, what a difference it can make.

And this year, Turismo Agustino shared their love, their direct personal love, help, and time through this annual charitable gift giving as a possible Christmas present idea for the people of Sitio Camandag.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

San Miguel Goes Green this Holiday Season

The municipality of San Miguel kept its momentum of giving-back to the community throughout the celebration of its Pasidungog Kay Senor San Miguel Festival, with series of activities that assisted and brought “good cheer” to residents.

Each year as a community, they gather together for their festival to exhibit their patriotism and love for San Miguel. Pasidungog has grown from a very small parade to one that encompasses the entire town.

Money is tight and with the Christmas and festival celebration, the town, headed by their very supportive municipal mayor, Hon. Hector S. Saclauso organized an inventive way to save money for their festival. As one of its special event this year, the town is going GREEN with its Inter-barangay Christmas tree competition.

With focus on sustainability, the town is making a positive difference with their Indigenous Christmas trees. Driven by the three “Rs”: reduce, reuse, and recycle, the community produce arts and crafts in a great way to meet all three Rs and involving everyone, young and old in the activity.

The town is showing its respect for the planet by adopting this new Christmas tradition this year. Going green is becoming more popular, but even more important, for the people, their families, and the entire San Miguel.

There is a simple elegance and peacefulness in an indigenous Christmas tree designed to be at its best in the evening, where green and brown hues take on an iridescent beauty. Go natural with indigenous Christmas trees decorated with accessories such as brightly painted seed heads and eggshells, palm fibers, bamboo strips, dry leaves and festive ribbons from recycled papers.

The tradition of Christmas tree dates back to the ancient pagan belief that the evergreen tree represents the “renewal of life.” It was in the 1900s that most countries that celebrate Christmas had embraced the idea of decorating their trees and since then, it has become synonymous with the celebration of the season.

The Indigenous Christmas tree competition is one activity of the town that you see everyone. It is a time for camaraderie, good fun and neighborliness. All of the organizations in town come together, prepare materials and mount their trees on exhibit from December 15-21, 2010. The venue's municipal field is transformed into a colorful festival site with glittering trees and live entertainment. Mr. Nicanor Escalera is this year’s over-all coordinator and Mrs. Heidi Beduyas is the special event’s head.

Nowadays, it seems that everyone is trying to celebrate more and have a grander holiday season each year, with less money available to pull it off. Choosing to have a greener, planet friendly holiday activity such as this, is a wonderful gift that you can also teach others so it becomes a family affair, and possibly an annual holiday tradition.

So if you can't decide what to do for the Christmas break, the people of San Miguel, is taking matters into their own hands and inviting their neighbors from around Iloilo to join in the festivity.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pasidungog Kay Senor San Miguel Festival

The annual tradition of celebrating Pasidungog Kay Senor San Miguel Festival in San Miguel, Iloilo offers its people the opportunity to enhance camaraderie and fellowship where they give thanks and share their blessings. They celebrate the festival with arts and crafts, food, drinks, and special programs. The festival is for the patron saint that was said to have come through and save the locals from the area from absolute death when they fell under siege from the rival bandits. San Miguel is situated 16 kilometers from the city, but people come from all over for the celebration. Schools in the area let out for this event, and it is very special in this area.

Celebrated this year on December 18-22, 2010, the opening highlights the Opening of the 2010 Pasidungog Festival with a Mass at the St. Michael Parish, Parade with the Day Care Hari at Hara ng Pasko Muses in their floats and Christmas Party, and Live Band Concert; December 19 opens with SAMODA Christmas Party and Family Day, High School Night of LSSNHS; December 20 is set for the 2nd Farmer’s Congress, and the Christmas in our Hearts Show; December 21 welcomes everyone with Laro ng Lahi and the Search for Miss Pasidungog 2010; December 22 closes with the Inter-Barangay Kanding Cooking Contest, San Miguel Got Talent featuring: “The Singing Barangay Officials” and the Culminating Program and Awarding Ceremony of the Build and Light Up a Christmas Tree Contest, Most Outstanding RPT Taxpayers and Business Tax Payers, Awarding of Cash Incentives to CDSA Medalists and Live Band Concert.

Based on folk history, the festival presentation is a true reflection of the life of its people. The story about the separation of the parishes of Alimodian, Leon and San Miguel with three assigned patron saints is a special feature. It was said that their images were carried on carabao-drawn carrozas with the image of Saint Catherine de Aragon heading to Leon and the image of Saint Thomas de Villanueva to Alimodian. With much beating and prodding to the animal for the carroza to move, it insisted to stay, thus, having Saint Michael the Archangel as the area’s patron saint.

San Miguel or Saint Michael the Archangel as is noted for his warrior role. When Lucifer revolted against the rule of God it was San Miguel the Archangel who was sent to do battle with Lucifer and banish him to Hades. San Miguel is often invoked as a protector for troops going into battle. He is always represented with his sword and armor signifying his role in combating evil forces. San Miguel's combat with evil is acted out in front of spectators during its festival.

San Miguel is a 5th class municipality with a land area of 2,134 hectares and politically subdivided into 24 barangays. Considered to be the smallest town in the province, it is bordered by the municipality of Maasin and Cabatuan in the north; Sta. Barbara and Pavia in the northeast; in the south by Oton; the city of Iloilo in the east; Alimodian in the west; and southwest with Leon and Tigbauan.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Paradise of Lights for Pototan’s 14th IWAG Christmas Festival

One of the most delightful things about the Christmas holiday is not just the food, nor the gifts, or the family reunions, but also the sparkling, colorful Christmas lights that are enjoyable. People take pleasure in making their surroundings look nice, especially in the Christmas season.

There won't be a snowflake in sight, but count on the thousands of colorful twinklers, fireworks and a unique tradition that lights up Iloilo in December. With major spectaculars planned in cities and towns throughout the province, discover for yourself why there is no place quite like Iloilo at Christmas time.

Ilonggos celebrate Christmas with joyful exuberance. Feasts and finery await you in every corner of Iloilo. Many towns in the province are now staging their versions of this Christmas spectacle. The municipality of Janiuay celebrates its annual Gugma Sa Pakua; Oton with their annual Light-a-Tree Program and Belen competition; Alimodian’s Christmas Festival; A Journey to Bethlehem and Christmas Tree for New Lucena; Christmas Park in Leon, Mina and Ajuy.

Pototan, Iloilo kicks off the holiday season with the longtime tradition of Christmas lights display on December 16, 2010, 6 p.m. at the municipal plaza obelisk. Diverse, fun holiday activities and events cater to all ages throughout the area.

In 1997, this cherished tradition of the Ilonggos started in this town, best known as the Rice-granary of Western Visayas, and soon spread throughout Iloilo. That tradition is the IWAG Festival of Lights celebration. On its first year, displays and landscape lighting covered the town plaza. Since then the show has grown into one of the regions’ largest and finest.

The IWAG Festival of Lights is one of the most-anticipated and considered as the best holiday light show in the region. Larger-than-life light displays are now part of this glowing show and every year something new is added to keep the show fresh.

The IWAG group is composed of service-oriented Pototanons that functions as a helping hand of the local government and the community. Organized in 1997, the group’s main project was the annual celebration of lights during Christmas. It is aimed on focusing on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the "True Light that Enlightens the World". The group is also instrumental in boosting the socio-cultural and economic development of Pototan.

The history of Christmas lights started with the decoration of a tree using candles as a celebration of the beauty of nature. However, using candles in the tree was an unsafe method because it ignited the whole tree. The history of the Christmas lights powered by electricity dates back to the year 1882 with Edward H. Johnson, the man who worked alongside Thomas Edison, decorated a tree with eighty red, white and blue electric bulbs. Light bulbs were expensive in those days and many could not afford to buy. It was in the 1930s when Christmas trees were decorated with electric lights that started at the White House, at Rockefeller Plaza. Soon, the rest of the world followed the tradition.

The IWAG Festival of Lights is viewable starting December 16 till January 2, 2011, Monday through Sunday from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. The spectacle is located 30 kilometers from Iloilo City. This first-class municipality has a land area of 9,710 hectares subdivided into 50 barangays. It is bounded in the north and northeast by the municipality of Dingle; in the east by Barotac Nuevo; south by New Lucena; west by Mina and northwest by Badiangan.

Iloilo Celebrates 5th KASAG Festival in Banate

photo by Jose de Luna

Kasag Festival truly has something for everyone. The municipality of Banate welcomes its visitors with a weekend of fun and pure pleasure. The celebration is a tasty and entertaining tradition, with music, great food, arts and crafts, and featuring Kasag Cooking Contest. This family fun and feasting event is expected to draw visitors from all across the province and region.

KASAG Festival is a rich tradition in the town and has been held annually for the last five years. The tradition has been built around a family friendly environment that showcases the great seafood that Banate has to offer.

photo by Jose de Luna

What began in 2006 as a small celebration has grown into one of Iloilo’s premier event that draws visitors from all over the province. When KASAG Festival began, its main goal was to bring visitors to the town and support its local industry. A few special events were set up and a festival was born.

People in the community have come together over the last several years to expand the festival and make sure the celebration reflects the festival's proud history. By exposing the people of the town to the festival and its unique goals, the volunteer pool continues to grow and business and organizations continue to increase their support and sponsorships. Everyone takes pleasure in the celebration and locals and visitors show up to experience the fun.

photo by Jose de Luna

The festival’s tribe competition is the most anticipated event. Kasag Festival also offer a variety of other activities: the Opening Parade at 7 a.m. and Banate Got Talent Elimination Night at the municipal plaza, 6 p.m. on December 16; Kasag Cooking Contest at 9 a.m. on December 17; Street Dancing Competition at 7 a.m., Budol Fight at noontime and the Awards Night and SMB Live Band at 6 p.m. on December 18; the Race for Peace, a 30 kilometer mountain bike race is at 7 a.m. and Banate’s Got Talent Grand Finals with SMB Live Band at 7 p.m. on December 19, 2010.

photo by Jose de Luna

Locally-known as kasag, blue crabs support one of the province’s largest and most valuable fisheries. It is an important industry in Iloilo and is abundant in Banate.

Named for the light-blue tint of their claws, bluecrabs have thick shells and 10 legs, allowing them to swim and scuttle across bottomlands. With the demand and good price in the market, marginal fisherfolks in the area make it a source of their livelihood. And because of this, it is not surprising that the blue crab has become intertwined with the ecology, the economy, and the culture of Banate. The town enjoys and utilizes this important resource each year as restaurant fare, as livelihood and as recreation.

Celebrating Tubungan’s Colorful and Vibrant Cultural Festival

Tubungan, Iloilo on its 250th Foundation Anniversary will celebrate the 17th Tubong-Tubong Festival, the town’s tradition that runs ...