Tuesday, September 30, 2014

“Never Again to Dictatorship!”

Note:  This photo-essay was on the filam special page of the 26 Sep-02 Oct 2014 issue of the weekly FilAm Star, 'the newspaper for Filipinos in mainstream America', published in San Francisco CA. This blogger is the Special News/Photo Correspondent in Manila of the newspaper.

The Inang Bayan at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani compound
designed by the sculptor Eduardo Castrillo
The sun was out and the floodwaters that came with Typhoon Mario were all gone on Sunday, 21 September 2014, the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by Ferdinand Marcos. 

We dared to see a five-hour film in black-and-white by Lav Diaz: “Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon (From What Was Before)”, which recently won the Pardo d’oro (Golden Leopard) grand prize at the 2014 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. It was being screened for free as “handog sa bansa” (gift to the nation) of the Film development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Sine Olivia Pilipinas and SM Cinema.  The film is said to be based on the film maker’s memories as a young man in his village in Maguindanao before the onset of Martial Law.

“I was just an observer,” Diaz told filmmaker Pepe Diokno in an interview published in the Philippine Star, “but I could see it, how hell was coming in. There was so much happening in our village. Suddenly, there were killings that we didn’t understand. Suddenly, there were burnings of houses that we didn’t understand. We would hear wails from the forest — scary. It turned out, it was the military. They conditioned everything, they started everything. People would come. There would be a carpenter, a shoe seller — they turned out to be military agents. They started destroying the barrio. Martial Law was a well-oiled machine.”

When Martial Law was declared toward the end of the movie, we learn that the village was classified as part of the war zone based on the case built by a military agent.  The female sergeant was immersed there for two years under the guise of a vendor of sleeping mats and other household items.  
After his frank discourse with the lieutenant, the priest became the subject of surveillance. The officer ordered one of his men to keep the priest under constant watch.  The polite argument was about the military presence there.  A camp was to be built albeit temporarily at the school yard. The officer contended it is for keeping peace, the religious argued it would disrupt the lives of the people.  True enough, families would eventually evacuate to safer grounds.

The Wall of Remembrance bearing the names of martyrs and heroes like Ninoy Aquino and the Escalante martyrs. 

The last frames focused on two activists, purportedly from the University of the Philippines, hanging upside down and being tortured by the militia.

The movie actually spurred us to visit the Bantayog ng mga Bayani (Monument to the Heroes) the next day. This is neighbor to the National Power Corporation (NPC), Transmission Company and National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) complex on Quezon Avenue.  We only passed by the Bantayog during all the years we worked in NPC.  Our first purposeful visit was in November 2011 when a fraternity brother’s name was inscribed as a martyr-hero on the Wall of Remembrance.

The Bantayog is the memorial center honoring men and women who lived and died in opposition to the repressive regime under the Marcos dictatorship for fourteen years, 1972 to 1986.  The landmark is a 14-meter Inang Bayan (Mother Philippines) Monument designed by the sculptor Eduardo Castrillo.  It depicts a fallen man, held in one hand by a woman symbolizing the Motherland while the other hand reaches out for freedom. 

Exhibit: Popular Bayan Ko and photo-cutout
of Sen. Jose Diokno
The other distinct feature is the Wall of Remembrance of black granite, where the names of martyrs are inscribed.  The first sixty-five martyrs were enshrined here in 1992, which include Ninoy Aquino. Today there are now more than two hundred names of heroes inscribed comprising “those who gave their all for the sake of freedom, justice, and democracy during the Marcos years but died after the EDSA Revolution.”

The Bantayog Museum has several sections. One portrays “the economic, political and social problems of the 1960s (mass poverty, abusive government officials, violation of civil liberties) that gave rise to popular discontent especially of the youth” during the pre-martial law years.

The death of democracy is shown by the documentation on the methods of torture, and the model of a prison cell done by an ex-detainee.  The memorabilia from the period of resistance include underground publications, the “mosquito press,” reports from the various civil-society groups at that time, and expressions of international solidarity.

Museum visitors will also find reminders of the assassination of Ninoy Aquino and the nationwide protests that ensued.  The scale model of a military tank surrounded by a photographic mural of the people on EDSA brings to mind the “People Power Revolution” of February 1986.

We gave some time to read the exhibit of a pastoral letter dated 11 August 1973 by four Catholic bishops of Western Visayas led by then Archbishop Jaime Sin of Jaro who were “deeply disturbed by recent events [in July] in the local Church of Antique  ... One priest was taken prisoner and one church building was declared off limits to the people. Many priests are warned to limit their pastoral work, and rumors circulated discrediting all. It has all the appearance of harassment.”

EDSA 1 reminder.
Fr. Benjamin E. Alforque is still alive and well, but he has a story to tell that many other religious, like the Antique priest, might have gone through and did not survive.  “I’m afraid but I must write to let young people know,” he said in his article in the 21 September issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Fr. Alforque, fresh from the seminary and on regency at the Virgen de Regla parish of Lapu-Lapu City, was arrested in October 1973 being accused of subversion. He wrote of the physical, mental and moral torture he went through for eight months and 13 days. He confessed he lost his faith in God for some time while in prison. He regained his faith that enabled him to give Holy Communion to his torturers later on.

A Hall of Remembrance features the capsule biographies and individual photos of the enshrined martyrs and heroes. These can also be accessed through the website of the Bantayog.

Remembering the departed with candles and roses. 
We looked up our friends Antonio Hilario (Tonyhil) and Antonio Tagamolila (Taga), and our fraternity brother Wright Molintas, who all died in the field. The two Antonios were our friends at the university when the winds of the First Quarter Storm were stirring. Our fraternity brother was of 1980’s vintage, and was known for his Ibaloi name: Ka Chadli. There was also Denis Deveraturda, a young province mate who was our classmate in an elective subject. He was killed in February 1972 before the declaration of Martial Law. We also remembered Monico Atienza who gave us lifts on his motorcycle during our brief stay in Batangas in 1970. He survived the war against the dictatorship.

“... let us not forget those who fell during the night. Let us honor the Filipino patriots who struggled valiantly against the unjust and repressive rule of Ferdinand Marcos. Let us build a memorial to those men and women who offered their lives so that we may all see the dawn... For as we remember those victims of authoritarian rule, we shall become more vigilant about preserving our freedom, defending our rights, and opposing any attempt by anyone to foist another dictatorship upon us. ... In honoring our martyrs, we proclaim our determination to be free forever.”  This is the rationale of the Bantayog in its final concept paper..

The Oct 1971 Phil. Free Press editorial opposing extension of presidential term beyond 1973, and
the Sept 1972 issue of the only newspaper allowed to operate after the declaration of Martial Law.

Thus,  “Never again to Martial Law, Never again to Dictatorship!” is a timely call as the media is abuzz with loud talks of ChaCha (sharter change), term extension of Benigno Aquino III, and clipping the powers of the judiciary.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Resurgence of the pliant but hardy kawayan

Note: This photo-essay appeared in the 18-25 September 2014 issue of the FilAm Star, "the newspaper for Filipinos in mainstream America", a weekly published in San Francisco, CA. The author is the paper's Special News/Photo Correspondent based in Manila.

Asexual propagation of bamboo using cuttings. 
Typhoon Luis was expected to hit Metro Manila last Sunday (14 September) but we had to meet with our volunteer group of fisherfolks in the coastal barangay of our town in Zambales. We are preparing for the nesting season of marine turtles (pawikan), which starts by the end of this month, and they are getting ready to patrol when darkness falls the eight-kilometer stretch of seashore for nesting marine turtles.

When the rain stopped briefly, we inspected the bamboo nursery at the Hiyas ng Kalikasan tree farm of our colleague.  She informed us that there are now ten species there, and before we left for Manila later in the afternoon, mature culms of yellow bamboo had been secured for cutting and planting. 

Initially, we are using asexual or vegetative propagation method with two-node and one-node culm cuttings directly potted for rooting in polybags under the shade of the big trees.  We may use other propagation methods later.

Environmental protection is the core mission of our non-government organization (NGO), KaTIMPUYOG Zambales.  Pawikan conservation is what we address from October to March through the hatchery we put up at the coastal barangay. Reforestation is the other major thrust of our program plans. We have been in touch with the Ayta community leaders in the northern town of Botolan who have been collecting seeds and wildlings of indigenous trees from the mountain forests, nurturing them in their nursery for reforestation purposes.

Our NGO submitted two proposals for inclusion in the Annual Investment Program (AIP) of the provincial government for 2015: one for eco-tourism development, which revolves around the pawikan conservation program with the operating hatchery as model, and one for environmental management with the setting up native tree and bamboo nurseries as start-up of reforestation programs in the province.  Livelihood opportunities for the local communities may be generated alongside these two programs. 

Our group is looking at a mix of native hardwoods, fruit and ornamental/flowering trees for ecologogical balance. Experts have highly recommended bamboo as ideal for the stabilization of the Sto. Tomas riverbank.  This river traverses the three towns of San Marcelino, San Felipe and San Narciso as it wends to the West Philippine Sea.

For the bamboo program, we take guidance from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through their latest publications, primarily ‘The Philippines Recommends for Bamboo’ (2012) and ‘Bamboo for Riverbanks Stabilization. Information Bulletin No. 341/2011’.
Starting top left, clockwise: bayog, wamin, pole and yellow bamboos
PCAARRD recommends eight species for riverbank stabilization whose local names could be very familiar in communities where they abound:  kawayan tinik (Bambusa blumeana), kawayan kiling (Bambusa vulgaris), bolo (Gigantochloa levis), anos (Schizostachium lima), buho (Schizostachium  lumampao), giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper), bayog (Bambusa sp.1) and laak (Bambusa sp.2).  Other species available in the locality can also be used. Abra province, for example, has puser (Cyrtochloa puser) and bikal (Dinochloa sp.), while Davao del Norte has kayali (Gigantochloa atter).

This giant grass, bamboo, has a wide spreading root system. This “net-like root system of bamboo holds the soil together ... and keeps twice as much water in the watersheds ...”  The litter that accumulates underneath also reduces rain run-off and helps prevent soil erosion.  Thus, planting the Sto. Tomas riverbank with bamboo species found in abundance in our province would effectively control erosion, and reduce the threat of flooding in our town when the river swells during the rainy season.  

The bamboo clumps can be effective in risk mitigation since the “sturdy poles serve as windbreakers blocking strong winds in the surrounding environment during typhoons.”

In addition, a healthier environment would be enhanced since “bamboo can sequester 12 tons of carbon from the air per hectare and generates 35% more oxygen compared with other trees.” Urbanites should take note of this as a derived benefit from setting up aesthetic bamboo gardens (bambuseta) in their yards.

Aside from environmental benefits, the current resurgence of interest in bamboo derives from its being a good alternative to the dwindling supply of wood and its great potential for other commercial applications.

Clump of kawayan tinik.
Bamboo is highly renewable producing new shoots annually, and as we have mentioned, species can be propagated using culm cuttings.  Bamboo is a fast grower.  Culms reach full height in about 60-90 days, 30 meters in some species, are matured and ready for harvest in 3-5 years.

Nurseries can grow various bamboo species and sell them as planting material to commercial farmers. There is also a growing market for ornamental types; hence, these can be grown in pots for the wholesale market or retailed to bamboo enthusiasts.

According to PCAARD, there are now more than 62 bamboo species in the country while there were only 47 identified in 1991. The increase came about through importation or introduction by garden enthusiasts. Ornamental bamboo species of foreign origin include kawayan dilaw (green stripe), buhong dilaw (golden), wamin/Buddha’s belly, pole/monastery, and Chinese dwarf bamboos, among others.
Bamboo shoot (labong): gourmet food in Western countries,
Young and tender bamboo shoots (labong) can be an income earner from the local and international food markets. In Western countries, this is a gourmet food available usually as canned imports. There is a rule for harvesting shoots: “only four should be left to grow every year ... [those] that will emerge should be removed or those that are of good size should be harvested for food.” There was a time when harvesting shoots was banned in our town because of an apparent depletion of bamboo poles supply. Labong was sold on the sly in the public market.

Bamboo poles are lightweight but they are both hard and durable, thus making them a viable source of strong building and construction materials such as concrete reinforcements, and panel boards, among others.   Using new processes and equipment, bamboo can also be used in manufacturing high-value engineered products like bamboo veneer and bamboo tiles for structural and non-structural building components. 

Treated bamboo poles are still used in building traditional Filipino houses.  For example, our FilAm cousins from California recently built a bamboo house in their farm in our town.  They incorporated wood, ceramic tiles and glass in the predominantly bamboo structure. There are no engineered bamboo tiles. For flooring, they used the traditional long treated bamboo slats.

A bamboo house owned by FilAms from California.
Production of bamboo musical instruments and creating a niche market for these are in the commercial eye of PCAARRD.  The old Pangkat Kawayan, the active Las Piñas National High School Bamboo Orchestra, the PUP Banda Kawayan, and the Musikong Bumbong of Obando City immediately come to mind.  The durability of bamboo as a component of musical instruments is evident in the 902 pipes of the Las Piñas Bamboo Organ that had never been replaced yet since 1816.
PUP Banda Kawayan members and their bamboo musical instruments.
There is now an increasing demand for bamboo furniture because of the dearth of wood, hence, the rising cost of wood furniture.  The handicrafts industry is also meeting demands for traditional, ethnic and decorative bamboo products.

Bamboo craft was part of our elementary schooling. In Industrial Arts classes, public schoolboys in the 1950’s to the 60’s built bamboo chairs, wove bamboo winnowing baskets, and made bamboo sieves. Industrial Arts is no longer in the curriculum, but the market for handicrafts for households and farms still exists.

A furniture set made of bamboo.
Other bamboo products that PCAARRD have looked at for market potential are charcoal briquettes from bamboo processing wastes, bamboo charcoal, and light distillate.

It is acknowledged that the bamboo industry is an emerging one. “To hasten its progress,” an advocate wrote, “there is a need to accelerate plantation of premium bamboo species, both for the production of culms and edible shoots.”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pinoy teacher Randy Halasan 2014 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for Emergent Leadership

Note: This photo-essay was featured in the 12-18 September 2014 issue of the FilAm Star, a weekly newspaper published in San Francisco, CA "for the Filipinos in mainstream America,"  with the title "2014 Ramon Magsaysay awardees honored / Pinoy teacher Randy Halasan recognized for Emergent Leadership."  This author/blogger is the paper's Special News/Photo Correspondent based in Manila.

RMAF Streamer at the CCP Lobby
The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) presented the month of August as Magsaysay Festival Month with the theme “The Spirit Lives On”, reflecting the mission of the award program, which started 57 years ago, of “honoring greatness of spirit in selfless service to the peoples of Asia.”

That spirit certainly inspired the Magsaysay laureates, which are, to President Benigno Aquino III, “those who have dedicated their lives to serving the marginalized and the oppressed, while at the same time mobilizing entire communities to follow suit.”  Aquino was the guest of honor during the presentation ceremonies on 31 August 2014 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

President Aquino III (center) with the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation Board of Trustees (group to his left) and the 2014 Ramon Magsaysay awardees (group to his right).

“This year’s roster,” Aquino said, “is composed of individuals imbued with the missionary zeal to promote social justice, and each one of them has taken a personal stand to contribute to the improvement of the communities in which they live.”

He pointed out “[t]he innovations of Ms. Saur Marlina Manurung and Mr. Randy Halasan, who have poured their hearts and souls into their work to educate indigenous communities.” He cited The Citizens Foundation (TCF) of Pakistan, “which has been focused on education for all, regardless of religion, gender, or economic status.”

Halasan's portrait (inset) is not part of his exhibit panel
Our countryman Randy Halasan, 32, from Davao City is the school-in-charge of Pegalongan Elementary School, which is located in the hinterlands of Malamba, Marilog District of the city. It takes him seven hours to reach the place: “two hours by bus, an hour over extremely rough roads by habal-habal motorcycle, four hours of walking and crossing the waters of two treacherous rivers [Sinod and Davao].”  

When he was first assigned there in 2007, there were only two of them teaching multi-grade classes between Grades 1 and 6 in a two-room schoolhouse. “With no electricity and only primitive amenities ... [His] first thought was to seek a reassignment ... the first chance he could get.”

He did not leave. He is still there as a member of the Matigsalug community with a strong compassion “for the children who also walk miles and cross rivers just to get to school” and a “sense of duty to help the defenseless forest tribe against encroaching powerful outsiders.”

The Pegalongan School has already expanded to nine rooms; it now has eight teachers for 210 students.   A cultural-minority high school has also been established.

Halasan has gone beyond the classroom: “Envisioning a food-sufficient community, he inspired fellow teachers to donate seeds and encouraged the villagers to plant fruit trees and vegetables. [The Pegalongan farmers] now have a collectively-owned rice-and-corn mill, a seed bank, a cattle dispersal project, and horses for transporting their products. By 2014, the Matigsalug community of Pegalongan will become both stewards and beneficiaries of the rehabilitation of one hundred forested hectares in their area. And Halasan’s youthful graduates are helping their elders protect their legal rights to their ancestral domain.”

The RMAF awarded Halasan for Emergent Leadership in recognition of “his purposeful dedication in nurturing his Matigsalug students and their community to transform their lives through quality education and sustainable livelihoods, doing so in ways that respect their uniqueness and preserve their integrity as indigenous peoples in a modernizing Philippines.”

The Emergent Leadership award was created in 2000 to honor “greatness of spirit among men and women forty years old and below. Another Filipino received this award in 2004: Benjamin Abadiano.

Left to right: TCF representatives Aleed Riaz & Ahsan Muhammad Saleem, Wang Canfa and Randy Halasan receiving their certificate and medallion from Pres. Aquino.

RMAF recognized Saur Marlina Manurung of Indonesia for “her ennobling passion to protect and improve the lives of Indonesia’s forest people [the Orang Rimba], and her energizing leadership of volunteers in SOKOLA’s customized education program that is sensitive to the lifeways of indigenous communities and the unique development challenges they face.”

SOKOLA’s major program is the Sokola Rimba or Jungle School.  SOKOLA has become “a network of fourteen schools in ten provinces, run by volunteer teachers and trained Orang Rimba youth, benefitting ten thousand children and adults.” The volunteer teachers follow wherever the forest people move to hunt and gather food.  They stress on “basic literacy for children and practical skills to cope with the changing forest environment” because the Orang Rimba now “have to deal with the encroachment of forest-exploiting businesses, government agencies, threatening their basic rights, livelihood, and community cohesion.”

The Citizens Foundation (TCF), from Pakistan, was recognized for “the social vision and high-level professionalism of its founders and those who run its schools, in successfully pursuing their conviction that, with sustained civic responsiveness, quality education made available to all—irrespective of religion, gender, or economic status—is the key to Pakistan’s brighter future.”

TCF, a non-profit organization, was launched in 1995 with a mission “to remove barriers of class and privilege” through affordable, quality education and “to make the citizens of Pakistan agents of positive change.”

The TCF network has grown from five schools and 800 students in 1996 to “one thousand schools spread over a hundred towns and cities, with over 145,000 students ... and guided by 7,700 teachers and principals.” All their teachers are women because of their “desire to open up employment opportunities to women.”

Left to right: Hu Shuli, Saur Marlina Manurung and Omara Khan Masoudi receiving their certificate and medallion

President Aquino invited attention to the winners in other areas: “Mr. Wang Canfa, a lawyer from China who has worked tirelessly to protect the environmental rights of pollution victims, and to hold polluters accountable ...  Mr. Omara Khan Masoudi who, while working in the National Museum of Afghanistan, went to great lengths to literally hide his country’s cultural treasures from those who threatened to steal or destroy them  ... [and] Ms. Hu Shuli, a prominent Chinese journalist, who has ably fulfilled her duties as a journalist towards promoting good governance.”

Wang Canfa was recognized for “his discerning and forceful leadership—through scholarly work, disciplined advocacy, and pro bono public interest litigation—in ensuring that the enlightened and competent practice of environmental law in China effectively protects the rights and lives of victims of environmental abuse, especially the poor and the powerless.”

Wang, an environmental lawyer, founded the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV) in 1998.  With its volunteer lawyers, CLAPV has handled more than 13,000 environmental complaints, filed more than 550 cases, and has scored victories against chemical, steel, mining, waste incineration and other plants. The Center also participates in legislation, reviewing environmental laws and regulations, and helping set up some legal systems to better protect the rights of victims, and strengthen the punishment of polluters.

Wang’s public interest Beijing Huanzhu Law Firm, which specializes in environmental law and provides free services, bolsters CLAPV’s litigation efforts.

Omara Khan Masoudi, from Afghanistan, was recognized for “his courage, labor, and leadership in protecting Afghan cultural heritage, rebuilding an institution vital for Afghanistan’s future, and reminding his countrymen and peoples everywhere that in recognizing humanity’s shared patrimony, we can be inspired to stand together in peace.”

Masoudi became deputy director of the National Museum of Afghanistan in 1998. He witnessed the destruction of the country’s cultural treasures, which the Taliban considered anti-Islamic, including the famous, sixth century Buddha statues of Bamyan.  Seventy percent of the museum treasures were destroyed, looted or lost.

Masoudi and some of his colleagues were able to hide some of the most precious objects like the world-famous Bactrian treasure consisting of some 20,000 ancient ornaments.  Safety locations included secret vaults underneath the city streets of Kabul.

When Taliban rule ended in 2002, Masoudi was appointed museum director.  He led the rebuilding of the museum, restoration of historical monuments, repair of broken museum objects, and resurrection of the treasures they hid and saved.  Much work is still continuing in these areas although the museum reopened to the public in 2004.

Hu Shuli, from China, was recognized for “her unrelenting commitment to truthful, relevant, and unassailable journalism, her fearless promotion of transparency and accountability in business and public governance, and her leadership in blazing the way for more professional and independent-minded media practices in China.”
In 1998, Hu established and edited the business magazine Caijing, which became popular because of the quality of its coverage and its groundbreaking investigative reporting. Their Caijing reports led to the ousting of high public officials, the prosecution of corporate leaders, and reforms in China’s stock market. She has been dubbed “the most dangerous woman in China.”  

Hu and her colleagues formed in 2009 the Caixin Media Group in Beijing, which has multimedia platforms.  She is the editor-in-chief of Caixin (China Economics & Finance) magazine, which reports on corporate fraud and government corruption, among others. Its September 2014 special edition chronicles the rise and fall of the former senior party official Zhou Yongkang.

Like all the other awardees, Randy Halasan of the Philippines delivered a response.  

The six 2014 Magsaysay awardees join the community of 301 other Magsaysay laureates who have received Asia’s highest honor.   

Randy Halasan joins the roster of 45 Filipino awardees, which include National Artists Lino Brocka, Nick Joaquin, Bienvenido Lumbera and Francisco Sionil Jose, National Scientists Angel C. Alcala and Ernesto Domingo, and Pres. Corazon Aquino, among others. 

In the conclusion of his address, President Aquino reflected on “how we can harness democracy to make sure that our progress is felt by every last citizen, especially by those who are most vulnerable. President Magsaysay, in his credo, had already envisioned our pursuit of inclusive growth. He said that “the little man is fundamentally entitled to a little bit more food in his stomach, a little more cloth on his back, and a little more roof over his head.” “

Guest enjoying post-ceremony sidelights at the exhibit area. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hiroshima mon Aunor: the August blasts for the people’s artist

Note:  This photo-essay was featured in the 05-11 Sept 2014 issue of FilAm Star. The author/blogger is the Manila-based special news/photo correspondent of the paper. Photos by the author.  The article can be accessed in pdf format from this link: http://www.filamstar.net/images/stories/pdf/287.pdf

Nora Aunor receiving her certificate and tropy as 2014 UP Gawad Plaridel awardee from UP CMC 
Dean Roland Tolentino, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan & UP President Alfredo Pascual.

The title takes off from Hiroshima mon amour, a 1959 French New Wave movie directed by Alain Resnais about relationships, memory and forgetfulness, with throwbacks to the effects of the atomic bombing of that Japanese city. One glaring effect was loss of hair of the bomb victims.

There were four blasts in the Manila in August but these were non-nuclear. They were cultural. They did not even come within the purview of Kris Aquino’s prayers for the safety of her brother President Benigno Aquino III. According to reports, he asked that these be stopped.  It appears that his sisters fear of untoward incidents that may occur during the month because their parents both died in August.

The trophy was designed by National Artist Napoleon Abueva.
The August bombs were recognitions of the artistic intelligence of Nora Aunor:  Best Actress award for her performance in the movie Hustisya in the Directors Showcase of Cinemalaya X (August 10); Tunay na Alagad ng Sining  award from the Quezon City Public School Teachers Association for helping propagate the national language through her films (August 19); the UP Gawad Plaridel 2014 award from the UP College of Mass Communications (CMC) for her excellence as a transmedia practitioner (August 27); and the Artista ng Mamamayan award from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (ACT-PUP, August 29). 

Aunor did not lose hair however. These awards were bestowed without any moral scruples whatsoever, thus, repudiating the presidential prerogative and the snobbery that excluded her from the list of 2014 National Artists. 

The UP Gawad Plaridel and ACT-PUP Artista ng Mamamayan awards ceremonies showed that the popularity and acclamation of Nora Aunor straddles the widest social spectrum. The UP audience accorded her decorous albeit thunderous applause; at PUP, the atmosphere was typical of a fun-filled movie fan day with loud cheers and yells especially when she spoke of familiar vignettes in her life and movie career. The UP event required her to be formal – she wore a Filipiniana gown. In PUP she was more informal in slacks and leather jacket. 

The 2014 UP Gawad Plaridel was awarded in her official name: Nora Cabaltera Villamayor. 

Nora delivering her Plaridel lektyur.
In his message, UP President Alfredo Pascual spoke of “Villamayor’s stature as the iconic Superstar of Philippine cinema ...  from her numerous, highly acclaimed, timeless and relevant performances in film, music, television and theater.”  He expressed the great pleasure that the UP community joined the UP College of Mass Communication (CMC) “in recognizing the unique artistry and versatility as a singer, and for portraying with keen intelligence and uncommon sensitivity an amazing range of cinematic roles, as an actress.”

In his opening remarks, UPD Chancellor Michael L. Tan described himself as a Noranian. He said, "Wala pong tumpak at akmang salitang makapaglalarawan kay Nora Aunor dahil siya ay kaisa-isang artistang Pilipino na kumurot sa ating buhay, sa pamamagitan ng kanyang mga awitin, pelikula, pagganap sa entablado, sa radio, at sa telebisyon.” (There is no correct or adequate word to describe Nora Aunor because she is the only Filipino artist who has touched our lives through her songs, movies, and performances on stage, radio and television.)  

Kayo po, Ate Guy, ay ang Pambansang Alagad ng Sining!,” Tan told the honoree. (You, Ate Guy, is the National Artist!)

In his closing remarks, UP CMC Dean Dr. Roland B. Tolentino echoed Aunor’s sentiments regarding the National Artist award: “[M]aski wala mang tropeo o karangalang igawad sa akin ang mga nasa kapangyarihan, iniluklok naman ako ng mga kababayan ko habang buhay sa kanilang mga puso bilang isang artista ng bayan.” (Those in power may not have given me any token of recognition but my countrymen have enshrined me forever in their hearts as a national artist.)

Speaking directly to Aunor, Tolentino said, “Gusto ko lang din idagdag, Nora, na sa pagpaparangal sa iyo ng Gawad Plaridel ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, kahanay ka na sa mga skolar ng bayan, guro at kawani ng bayan na iniaalay ang buhay para sa paglilingkod sa bayan. Tunay kang superstar ng bayan, at muli ngayon, artista ng bayan!” (With this Gawad Plaridel, you have joined the ranks of the scholars, teachers and workers who are dedicating their lives to serve the nation. You are a true superstar, and from now on, a national artist.)

Nora received her Artista ng Mamamayan award from 

ACT officials & PUP President de Guzman.

At the PUP Tanghalang Bayan, ACT emphasized that Ms.Aunor deserves the honor of being National Artist for Film, citing outstanding achievements that have won recognition  from various national and international organizations, and the continuing admiration of her artistry and support for her work in film and television:  “Sa ilang dekadang nakalipas ng pagbabahagi niya ng kanyang sining sa sambayanan ay hindi kumupas ang pagmamahal sa kanya ng pangkaraniwang mamamayan na patuloy sa pagsuporta at pagtangkilik sa kanyang mga palabas maging ito man ay pampelikula at pantelebisyon. ... Tunay nga, hindi man nahirang bilang pambansang alagad ng sining, si Nora Aunor pa rin ang isa sa mga natatanging artistang minamahal at patuloy na ipinaglalaban ng mamamayan.”

The UP and PUP audiences had the awesome pleasure of listening to insightful fragments of her Cinderella /Superstar story.

Nora with her certificate & trophy from ACT & PUP.
She told the UP community regarding her award: “Isang malaking karangalan at hindi ko makakalimutan. Isa ito sa pinaka-importanteng nangyari sa buhay ko. ...  Ang nararamdaman ko ngayon ay iba, eh. Iba kapag UP ang nagbigay sa iyo ng karangalan. Sabi ko nga kanina, hanggang Grade 2 lang ako pero pagtayo ko sa stage ng UP ay parang graduate na din ako ng Unibersidad. Masayang masaya ako.” (I am greatly honored by this award, and I will never forget this. This is a very important event in my life. ... I have a very different feeling since UP is giving me this honor. I only reached Grade 2, but as I stand on this stage, I feel like I graduated from here. I am very, very happy.)

 A similar sentiment was expressed in PUP. She said she was deeply overwhelmed by the warm acceptance of the students and teachers there.  She clarified though that she eventually finished Grade 6. 

One story that everyone enjoyed is about her musical path to the Tawag ng Tanghalan championship, which started with her first contest piece in a local competition: “You and the Night and the Music.”  This was however a winning or losing piece while she mastered other songs from the radio for competitions in Bicol to Manila.

She regaled audiences with her odyssey from Guy-and-Pip movies to critically acclaimed and award winning films like her own production of Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and the indie Thy Womb.

She delighted with her descriptions of the directorial styles of Ishmael Bernal, Lino Brocka, Mario O’Hara and Joel Lamangan. The audience heartily applauded when she dropped iconic lines like: “My brother is not a pig!” (from Minsa’y Isang Gamu-Gamo), “Walang himala!” (from Himala). 

Nora addressing the PUP community & Noranians.
 In closing, she asked for the cooperation of the present generation of movie performers in the production of quality pictures.  To the young artists, she enjoined them to do relevant pictures that are recognized here and abroad: “(G)umawa kayo ng pelikulang makabuluhan ma makkikilala hindi lamang dito sa Pilipinas kundi [maging] sa ibang bansa." 

She plans to produce movies again and to set up her own indie film outfit after she has completed pending movie projects.   After Hustisya, she has three more movies scheduled to be shown before the year is over.  She invited the audiences to watch out for the indie films Dementia (which opens this September), Whistle Blower and Padre de Familia.

She said she has no regrets whatsoever, and what she's doing now recalls the start of her life's journey. "Lahat ng ginagawa ko ngayon ay paglingon sa aking pinanggalingan."

That reminds of her last laugh at the end of Hustisya.