Saturday, May 17, 2008

Intensive Graphic Training

Just finished a short intensive graphic training with macromedia flash to enhance my creativity. It was overwhelming what the software can do. A movie was designed using just that software and no actor was paid. The creators did all the voices. I sort of passed the first phase with flying colors coz it dealt more with vector designs and bitmap editing. Been doing those for years with Corel Draw and Photoshop.

The second phase of the training was how to manipulate the vector designs to animate. On this part I was awed. Gone are the old ways to create cartoon characters where you have to draw all the different moves. In those days, you need to draw 12 photos per second of the character's actions. The drawings between one action to the next are called inbetweens. With macromedia flash, the software will take care of those inbetweens. The third phase of the training was how to link these many animated objects to create one beautiful presentation you can integrate to a website or converted to a movie presentation.

Thought I would be facing the computer and be on my way designing big projects after the training. Turned out it's going to be the opposite. It wasn't that easy. The more I learned about it, the more I realized how big the things I couldn't do. It's telling me to concentrate or specialize on a few things. Knowing it all will get me nowhere.

I can now use several design software like Corel draw for vector designs, photoshop for photo manipulations, Adobe premiere and sony vegas for video editing, dreamweaver for web design, and macromedia flash for animation. I've been doing photography, videography, photojournalism, and most of the time graphic design. The knowledge I gained from the training is sure to help me in those fields. Yet I can't be doing all of these things and be an expert to all.

Photojournalism is obviously one of the things I should only do as a hobby but I want to keep it as part of my identity. I may never earn much from it but it can help me earn byline credits. It would be easier to market myself. Someday I may also need to give up videography. Video editing takes much time which is the same with my other passion, animation. Photography goes with graphic designs so I'll be keeping that. I'm now changing the design of my calling card from photo/video coverage & graphic design to photojournalism, web-developing & animation.

With my new outfit, I will still be accepting photo coverages but will be concentrating more with graphics and web developing. I can also create visual presentation in flash or convert it to a movie presentation (obviously I can't entirely give up video editing but the effects will be done with flash from now on, not with premiere and after effects). 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Kankanaey Town of Buguias

Long time ago there was a hunter from Kiangan named Lamia-en who frequently travel to faraway places in pursuit of a game. During one of his hunting trips, he reached the village of Tinoc or Tinec. There he met a woman named Dacal-le. He courted her and not long after, they agreed to get married.

They were married in Buguias near the hot spring in the area. On the eve of the wedding, pigs and cows were butchered. At night, worms rapidly spread on all the meat to the consternation of the gathered well-wishers. In the morning however, the worms transformed into beautiful butterflies and filled the vicinity with different colors dancing to the songs of various birds in the nearby flower fields and woodlands. The elders quickly interpreted this as a good omen for the new couple and that they will receive countless blessings. The couple became the ancestors of the peoples of Buguias. Most people in the municipality can trace their lineage to Lamia-en.

At the dawn of the century during the American regime, Buguias was a thickly forested area. Logging was the primary activity in the municipality up until the time of then President Ferdinand Marcos. This explains how communities came about in the highest places like Natubleng, one primary location of the many sawmills in Buguias. After most of the trees were felled, however, the workers started to look for other means of livelihood. Thence, they began farming and planted vegetable seedlings brought by the Chinese and Americans. Due to the government’s neglect to reforest, the trees slowly vanished until there was no more forest to speak of. The municipality then slowly and surely transformed itself into a farming town.

Although the dominant dialect or language in Buguias is Kankanaey, the original language of their ancestors can be traced to Kalanguya, similar to Nabaloi or Ibaloi language. Interactions and intermarriages with the neighboring towns of Kibungan, Bakun and Mankayan who are likewise Kankanaeys, their dominant language slowly saw transformation. Kalanguya, nevertheless, is still spoken in the boundaries of the municipality close to the province of Ifugao. Today, many speak two languages, the Kankanaey and Iloko. In their interactions with vegetable merchants, they have learned to understand and speak Tagalog or Pilipino. There are countless Elementary Schools and few High schools scattered in the municipality. But eventually after high school, most of the students go to the City of Baguio to pursue their college education.

Up to the present, the main livelihood in the municipality is vegetable farming. In higher altitudes, like Natubleng and Sinipsip, climates are much colder that plants grow slower than in the warmer places like Central Buguias. It was noted however that vegetable that matures longer tastes better. The municipality has always been famous with their beautiful vegetable terraces especially when most fields turn vegetable green. With the introduction of different and imported plant seedlings and insecticides, however, more resistant pests have invaded the municipality destroying millions of crops every year consequently forcing many farmers to look for alternative livelihood.

Going to Buguias today, one would notice but a few trees in some areas, far in between. Most if not all available areas had been terraced and tilled as vegetable farms. There are probably no more wild animals to be hunted in the remaining wooded areas where Lamia-en and the legendary Apo Anno used to hunt. Incidentally, Buguias is also a tributary of the major Agno River that supplies three hydroelectric dams. One of which is Ambuklao Dam, whose efficiency and performance have dismally deteriorated due to heavy siltation through the years. If the state of the Agno River and the its surrounding environs remain unchanged, soon the other dams downstream, Binga and San Roque, will likewise meet the fate of Ambuklao.

Having grown up in Buguias, this writer, an eighth generation offspring of Lamia-en, has seen the last of the few remaining Benguet pine trees on many of the land tracts before they have been transformed into vegetable gardens that we now see. Unless the descendants of the great hunter Lamia-en start to maintain check-and-balance between nature and their way of life, we may never again experience the once exceptional state of Buguias; times when weddings, festivals and town gatherings are embellished with native flowers and flamboyant butterflies dancing to the sounds of vibrant birds ever abundant in the forests nearby.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Igorots: The Wild Men of the Cordilleras

For more than 300 years the Spaniards and Americans fought the people of the Cordilleras called Igorots. They were called savages and uncivilized or ignorant by these invaders. These colonizers wanted to eradicate these people’s customs and traditions and enforce their western cultures and religions. The savages fought back. They wanted their cultures intact.

For centuries they flourished in these mountains as farmers and hunters. Although they have occasional quarrels with their neighboring tribes, they were protected by their common law called “budong” (peace pacts). They lived in harmony with nature. For years they never exploited their natural resources to extinction. They cut only the trees they need for building houses and hunt only the animals they need for food. Their way of exchanging goods were mostly through gold or their local commodities (e.g. exchange rice for g-strings or animals).

The Budong

Peace pacts in those days are significant protection for the people. Once a quarrel against another tribe arises, they would bring it to their elders or peace pact holder. These tribal leaders are regarded much respect. The elders would commune with the peace pact holder of the conflicting tribe. They would be the one to decide whether there will be war or the conflict will be settled amicably. Often time the instigator of the quarrel pays for his action with goods such as domestic animals. Apparently weaker tribes always go for peaceful settlements.

Head hunting expeditions which happens when peace pact holders severe the peace pact against a rival tribe does not always occur. In contradiction to what other people thought, war is also upsetting to them because it takes too many resources and the lives of their warriors. But they don’t hold back once they were ordered to go to war. They only kill their enemy’s warriors. Rarely would they include women and children.

Living in Harmony with Nature

The Igorot people never lack the basic necessities in life. Rice, meat, clothing and shelter. Each household has a rice field to teal. Every community work hand in hand to plow and plant their fields. They know the timetable of the rain to water their plants. If one does not follow the crowd, his plant suffers the consequences. The bulk of pests would invade his plants.

This maybe is a myth in the mountains as a punishment of Kabunyan to the one who does not follow his laws, but it has an explanation in today’s scientific studies. Field rats live in a colony. When there are enough foods they multiply. When there’s scarcity of food, their numbers would decrease.

When the plants start to bear fruit, the rats’ populations also starts to increase. However, since the vastness of the field has been planted, no matter how fast the rats multiply their presence are barely felt by the farmers. And before their number increase to become uncontrollable pests, the rice fields are already ripe for harvesting. The goods are kept in the rice barns that are inaccessible to the pests. If someone did not follow the multitude and planted earlier or later than the rest, the bulk of the pest will feast on his field during the time it’s the only one yielding fruit.

The poor people in a community also do not have to beg to live. They work in the fields and would be paid rice for their wages. They would supplement these with edible fruits and vegetables from their forests and kaingins or swidden (slash and burn) farms. They also hunt wild pigs in the forests including the field rats for their meats supplies.

The forests thrive with wild animals and plants. The people only cut the trees for their basic necessities like firewood and for building huts and rice barns. Their forests are sacred for they believed that it is the source of their water and other important necessities and also the home of spirits. They fear of punishment from their ancestors or the anitos if they exploit these sacred places. Their beliefs are instrumental in the balance of nature.

The Western Influence

For centuries, the most important treasures for the Igorots are their animals and fields. The rich have more carabaos, cows and pigs. The poorer usually have their pigs and chickens. When the colonizers introduced the power of money, the usual practices are no longer important. Exchange of goods has also changed. People would accumulate more money than animals and land.

The west has also introduced logging. With the opportunity to earn money, people discarded their beliefs and joined in the exploitation of the forests. The industry has destroyed more forest products in just the first two decades of the American time than what the Igorots have used up in centuries.

The same influence has caused many to abandon their fields and find other money-making ventures somewhere. They sold their fields and animals and joined the vast number of people migrating to the cities. Many went to work in mine companies.

With the influence of rampant violence and the lack of respect to the elders introduced by the western world, the original essence of Budong is slowly deteriorating. Peace pact holders are often times not consulted and vengeance are exacted without the usual budong consultations.

Crimes in the past days pertain only to stealing and killing. They don’t rape and disrespect their women. They follow the courtship law. Men and women used to bath in the rivers together naked and without malice. The vile acts were introduced by the colonizers who pillaged their lands, burned their huts and fields and raped their women.

And these savages are the people who brought us the so called Christian Religions. Religions that are laden with the old pagan traditions of Rome (e.g. celebration of Christmas day on December 25 which was actually celebrated in Rome as the birthday of Saturn; existence of Purgatory that is not found in the Bible but actually part of the Greek and Roman Mythology, etc. etc.)

We were called uncivilized and savages then. But I do believe that even when we didn't have guns and machines we are more civilized in our ways that those who came to conquer us. When they came to influence us, our natural resources we fought so hard to keep were wasted to corruption. (Here one ironic example: When the Japanese came, we fought hard not to lose what's left of our resources to them. After the war, 90 percent of our forest products went to the rehabilitation of Japan. Our fathers fought hard for it only to be given by our western influenced corrupt leaders to the very people we're keeping it away from. And these leaders are the country’s richest today.)

Are we to blame the Western World for the influence and changes in our cultural upbringing? To me it’s yes and no. Yes because they did bring us a lot of influence to abandon our beliefs that enforce respect to nature and to our elders. No because what’s happening is global. Change will come to us one way or the other.

This is just yet another battle for the Igorots to fight. To learn from the old beliefs and traditions, learn its scientific benefits and incorporate it to the new generations’ teachings. It’s a fight to bring balance to the old and new traditions and to the people and environment.

It is another fight to be able to maintain our unique identity while able to compete worldwide in every aspect of undertakings. Being knowledgeable in our culture, history and its scientific significant at the same time expert in the ways of the western world can give us edge over the rest of the competitors.

(Note: This article is a result of one person’s research and does not represent the opinion of the whole Igorot tribes.)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Angels of Naswak

By: Carl Carino Taawan
(Published by Star Eye, Zigzag and Cordillera Today)

Vanessa Maturana, a 26-year old accountant was one of the winners for this year's Lucky Summer Visitors or LSV in Baguio. LSV is a major annual event of the Baguio Broadcasters and Correspondents Club where lucky winners are given a 4 day red carpet treatment to the most interesting places in and around the City.

However, Vanessa decided to forego the offer for her philanthropic work in the remote place in Bokod called Naswak. Vanessa is part of a group of mountaineers called KIKKM Inc. They were on a mission to build a dormitory for young students in that remote Barangay.

The mountaineers adopted the said community in 2003 and had been conducting several projects like medical missions, relief operations, providing school supplies and learning materials, and emersion to the community for cultural awareness. The dormitory is one of their projects to address the problems of the school children in that community.

Elementary students as young as 7 have to trek the mountainous and dangerous paths for hours to get to school. With the hardship of the travel, many of the students can't regularly attend their classes. Some eventually stopped and just helped their parents at home. Many had to wait till they’re old enough to travel before they can back to school.

Project Coordinator Joffrey Geroso said,”The dormitory will serve as their temporary shelter thus they don't have to travel the long distances everyday. They will be spending more of their time to study in school, not on the trails. It will eventually help them improve their school records. This is a way to help students help themselves empower poverty thru education.”

The dorm will accommodate 50 students from grades one to six. It has a library and separate toiletries for girls and boys. “The dormitory with be located at the school premise and will be managed by the Parents and Teachers Association and the community”, Geroso said.

“Ground breaking last March 19, 2008 was the 1st phase” said Geroso. “We erected 2 posts and two more will be accomplished by the local community. “We are still on funds generation and solicitation for the said project. It still needs support from other organizations and funding agencies. Material costs double because of the hauling from Baguio to Bukod, Bukod to Petal, Petal to Upper Ekip and to Naswak.”

“We will be opening an account just for this project for those who want to donate”, the group’s president July Tadifa said. KIKKM Inc. is registered as a nonprofit organization at the Security and Exchange Commission with registration no CN200406487.

Ms. Maturana’s sacrifice to forego her VIP treatment has brought a more lasting reward. The gratitude of the people of Naswak. To this remote community, Vanessa and the KIKKM Inc. officers and members are indeed heaven sent. They are inviting other groups and individuals to participate in this project or initiate other sustainable development projects to the community.

For donations and more details, you may contact the following number:

Baguio Group Mario Abraham: 09178806254 / Rodel Mapa: 09193910398 / Kimberly Gaturian: 09275012088
Manila Group: Ian Abao: 09188744665 / Joffry Geroso: 09106219604 / Teresa Jimena: 09177858257

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Baguio Forums

When pioneered local forum sites, many used it to exchange ideas, news, or just plain talks. Many people met new friends. It has become a tool for organizations to post activities. Many organizations were started here and many forum sites sprang to deliver the demand of the growing forumers.

Organizations for philanthropic works were also formed. One is the "Baguio Forumers Club" now called Forumers Association of the Philippines (FAPI). The group adopted a part of Burnham Park to improve. This site was poorly maintained for the lack of park workers. The group started with tree planting activity, in concord to the City’s Regreening movement. “It was not merely tree planting on the site”, explained the group’s president, known as S.S. or Single Shot in the forums. “The place was entrusted to the organization to beautify and create it into a real park.” Donations from individuals locally and abroad were funneled to finance this project. Individual volunteers did the handworks.

Another group from the newly formed lead by the Administrators have adopted an orphanage and used their site to raise funds. The raised money were used to fix the children’s playgrounds and repaint their toys and equipments.

A newly formed organization was the Cordillera Online Community from The group undertook projects in isolated shools in Benguet distributing school materials. They have also supported several fund raising projects like concerts for causes. Like the other forum organizations, they were able to raise funds for those who can’t afford medical treatments.

With the help of the forums raising funds for projects are made easier. Without these sites, communications would have been impossible. Baguio Forums will always be a part of these organizations.

From these forums a yearly tradition was born, a grand eye-ball was held where members of the different forum sites meet. This year it will happen at the City Tavern on May 10 at 7 pm. My names in those forums are shadow and hunter.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Paypal Philippines At Last

I believe this is something a lot of us had been waiting for. There had been a lot of potential online businesses in the Philippines but there was one big problem. That's how to receive credit card paymets for our local products or services. I actually missed this email I received last January 29. I stumbled upon it when I was cleaning up my spam messages.

All you need is your credit card. If you can't open a credit card, just open an account and apply for a debit card. In some banks, debit card account is only Php2,000.00. Next you open an account with paypal and include your debit or credit card number.

Now you can receive payments through paypal. You can transfer your payments from your paypal to your bank account online. You can then withdraw the money from your bank.

For more infomation click this link. You can also use xoom, moneybookers. If you want to know how to setup your website just pm me.