The True Identity Of Dora The Mouse

by jun asuncion

Here’s a motivating,  inspiring comment from Dora The Mouse:

To Jun and Tonyboy Gilana

“I love the exchange of comments! It is so honest, democratic, educational, open minded and frank. This is the way it should be. I give you my respect for the honesty and sincerety of your individual statements, concerns and opinions.

This is what I admire about Bulan Observer. We can express our opinions, thoughts and concerns. Through exchange of views and concerns, we are continously learning new things either in politics, science, philosophy or even witty jokes from Atty Benjie. I am interested to buy the book History of Bulan when it is ready.

Bulan Observer is the place for everybody to have the chance for young taga-Bulans to contribute their talents and fresh ideas and for older people to share their wisdom and life experiences so that other people will learn from them. It is a great place to give and to share ideas and sometimes take those ideas and apply them to your daily life.

Thank you Bulan Observer for the many fine articles you shared with us readers.”

Dora the Mouse


Angelita De Guzman Kowalewsky  aka Dora The Mouse

Dora The Mouse has decided to get out of the hole  where she used to live (or hide) and is now sharing us her true identity after she had read my post The Town Of Bulan Is Different where I touched on the issue of Anonymity. Her true name is Angelita De Guzman Kowalewsky. She authored for us articles like Poignant Memories  Of The Past, Money Is Not Everything, etc. She is also  the founder of St. Remedios Charity Medical  Clinic. We thank her for all her charity works!

Thanks Dora, I mean Angelita, for your true concerns for our town Bulan!

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer


The Town Of Bulan Is Different

Or, Reprisal-Free Bulan Politics

 by jun asuncion

Linking Bulan Observer to Bulan-LGU Website is a sign of maturity-  for both. Maturity because it is all about constructive dialogue, maturity because it is about public service and transparency, maturity because it is about democracy.

We cannot expect perfection from both of these Bulan platforms yet we strive to make them the best they possibly can be within our own Bulan concept of democracy. Democracy is best experienced in a town level for people still know each other. While  in the national level democracy is being insulted or abraded by some egoistic figures or polarized by crab mentality, Schadenfreude, envy and rancor, we Bulaneños have the chance to prove to the whole Philippines that we value town  democracy and constitutional rights and respect our own people.

Democracy offers us options on how to relate to things that matter to us in Bulan. We can cast our ballot secretly for instance but a useful debate must be public. And- in this kind of debate-  identity matters.

Hence, anonymity- though a democratic right or prerogative-  loses also its effectiveness in some democratic processes like civil discourse. Now that politics, business and social life have been “uploaded” on-line, human emotions and attitudes have also been uploaded on-line and mostly they are protected by anonymity when it comes to messages of  hate, back-biting or recrimination.

 Still, it is rude and irresponsible, vindictive in motive or perhaps cowardly when one hides behind anonymity when engaging in a discourse or publishing a claim,  particularly when one is criticising or attacking somebody. Nevertheless, I still support the right to anonymity when posting  general comments or comments that are emphatic yet  grounded  and in context and  not directly offensive against anyone in Bulan. However, a signed comment is still the best.

On the other hand, when people choose to hide their identity when talking politics, it is also indicative of fear of reprisal  which is understandable within the Philippine political context in general. Again, this should be a great chance for Bulan to show to the whole Philippines that we are different from the rest in this respect. Since Bulan is now also uploaded online, we hope that the LGU- Bulan Website and all other sites involving Bulan will contribute to our goal of reprisal-free Bulan politics and that this will be made manifest in the way Bulaneños involve themselves in our dialogue.

It is a courageous step forward for the LGU-Bulan to integrate critical voices of Bulan by linking Bulan Observer to its official site. In this manner, the LGU-Bulan has protected itself from any future criticism of being one-sided and not open for dialogue with its constituents at home and abroad. It is a sign that the incumbent Mayor Helen De Castro is for progress and constructive dialogue.

Bulan Observer is not against the idea of government. Its goal has been clearly defined from  the very beginning. And it is not about me or about the authors, contributors and commenters but is about working together for a brighter Bulan.

I’ve read all the entries in this Bulaneño Blog where it talked about the Bulan Terminal and the corresponding  Commission On Audit COA Special Report. I leave it as it is and found it wiser not to engage in dialogue with it  nor link it in Bulan Observer for the very reason that the authorship is unknown. Or  if it is because of the fear of reprisal- real or imagined-  that he chooses to be incognito, then I suppose it is better  for him to stop his activity so that he will live a normal life without such kind of fear or fear of being outed, i.e., exposed sooner or later. We know that constant fear is detrimental to mental and physical health.  But that’s his decision. That it had not published until now the LGU-Bulan’s  response through Mr. Gilana was in a way expected and also an attest to this Blog’s refusal of democratic dialogue. Again, identity matters in some issues, whereas anonymity protects yet, in some cases, renders a claim or argument not worthy of discussion or consideration. A serious democracy- let us not forget- is about fairness and  transparency.


We Can Do Much More To Our Country

by Gemma Dimaculangan ( Her letter as posted on the Internet and later published in


(This letter was forwarded to me by a good friend. I  find it  representative of how today’s Filipinos think and feel about  the issues facing the Philippine politics. I challenge all thinking Bicolanos – particularly Bulanenõs-  to give and share their analysis of  it and  I’m looking forward to receiving your comments soon.-  jun asuncion)

I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn’t true. It is one thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get any worse than this?

Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my TV to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not men. They are caricatures of men – too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these “honorable” crooks lambast each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and apalling that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at its worst!

I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like “Honorable”, “Senator”, “Justice”, “General” and worse, “President”. Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation – Robin Hoodlumm and his band of moneymen. Their motto? “Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich.”

It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!

I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family’s, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation’s coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutted roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.

And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone’s morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own “pag bad ka, lagot ka!” slogan.. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it’s all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?

And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. “Love (of power) is blind” takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband’s financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don’t agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won’t make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it..

But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it.

Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good. We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray, too, including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of our desperation in ridding our nation of these vermin. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!

I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion – right from the sandboox till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and pass on your family name with pride and honor.

I call on educators and teachers – we always underestimate the power of your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real, worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future – and it would be largely because of you,, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.

I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see. But neither let this make you cynical, because we need your idealism and fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that gave you your ancestors and your heritage. Use technology and all available resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.

Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this country.. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. Do your utmost to excel in your chosen field.. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.

For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.        /


The Anatomy Of Destruction

by jun asuncion


The two super typhoons that went through and above the Philippines have reminded us again of our human vulnerability, but this time with such an intensity that hundreds of thousands of our countrymen were displaced from their dwellings, hundreds lost their lives, properties destroyed. Total chaos, total misery.

What is left now are the  vestiges of destruction,  the digital images of our sufferings that one can view anytime in internet and the herculean tasks of sustaining lives and of rebuilding all the damaged infrastructure. Today’s technology help much in spreading  our catastrophic situation and our call for help throughout the world. The millions of  Filipinos constituting the diaspora were in pain as they watch the videos and photos of their troubled countrymen; the same with the concerned international community. And they reacted quickly by organizing all forms of help. Sending financial help and fund-raising are also done swiftly with today’s technology. Thus, on one side, we are lucky that this destruction happened with this technology on hand. Still, it is a race against time; additional  suffering should not be inflicted to our homeless people by delaying the distribution of relief goods, the clean-up and rebuilding  of all infrastructure.

Are we Filipinos born only  to suffer and are we not entitled to a bit more comfortable existence? Being on the typhoon belt- and an average of 27 typhoons a year-  we are doomed to suffer losses in crop production and its effects. Crop producers and small farmers suffer the most. Invested capital and labor are lost. Unlike in some industrialized countries, farmers and crop-producers are subsidized and their products are insured from elementary hazards like water and fire. So after a virulent flood or hailstorm, farmers and crop-produces do not come out totally empty.

Our Filipino farmers have always been eeking out a living on the edge of existence. If we cannot move the Philippines away from the typhoon belt, then something should be done on the political level to improve the situation. It’s not politically correct to criticize the government in this present dire situation. But  typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng have  also exposed the anatomy of destruction in the Philippines brought about by corruption, exposed the unsubstantial  presidential speeches we heard not too long ago. The Philippines is  economically not after all on the verge of a take-off  but on the verge of drowning.

Before these floods, Filipinos were already flooded to apathy by empty debates in Congress and entertained to poverty by late night wowowee shows in Malacañang. Indeed, these devastating typhoons have also blown open the havoc of the myopic logic of greed that predominated the Philippine politics. With just thirteen rubber boats and with no budget allotment, how could the National Disaster Coordinating Council NDCC effectively and extensively perform their rescue operations? The financial resources went somewhere else.

Being frequented by typhoons every year, the Philippines should in fact be a world champion in typhoon-and flood disaster planning, should have anticipated such scale of destruction and should have been in possession of rescue materials like hundreds of rubber boats, rescue helicopters, etc. But the world has witnessed a capital city without such needed equipments and  materials. Malacañang was laid bare by Ondoy and globalized the truth of its lies and inefficiency.

It’s not wrong to be poor, but its wrong to continue being unrealistic. To hate the presence of the Americans in our country is- in my opinion-  one among our unrealistic ideas. Again, Ondoy and Pepeng have shown us that we need them. The presence of  US navy ships off the shore of Pangasinan, their rescue helicopters and rubber boats, their trained personnel, etc. have surely help the Filipinos in this emergency situation. Abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement VFA after that? That would be heedless – and lacking in utang na loob.

 I was once in favor of this idea, but not too long ago I found my attitude unrealistic- not because of the typhoons, but because of the terrorism and insurgency problems that we have in the Philippines. Alone and with empty arsenals, equipped only with pride, and with leaders at war with one another, we cannot combat these problems in the long run. Hence, not abrogate, just define the terms clearly and work with the Americans.

Wait till the fat lady sings or rather consult our advisers Ondoy and Pepeng?  //


Bulan Observer


Message of Mayor Helen C. De Castro

Submitted on 2009/10/12 at 3:42am

NOTE: This message was delivered during the Opening Program of the 6th Pista sa Kabubudlan, held on October 9-10, 2009, at the Bulan Ecopark, Barangay Calomagon.



Helen De Castro  “Dios marhay na hapun tabi sa iyo entero.

Dako-dako na onra nan kaugmahan na i-welcome ko na naman kamo entero sa ika-unom na pagselebrar ta san Fiesta sa Kabubudlan o Feast of the Mountains. Ini na Fiesta sa Kabubudlan sayo na na institutionalized event didi sa ato bungto.

Sa sulod sin nakaagi na lima kataon, luway-luway na inbag-o ta ini na lugar, nan luway-luway na inpatalubo ta an mga puno sin kahoy na ato intaranum. Niyan imud ta na an bunga san ato kapagalan. Ini na Ecopark sayo na espeho o panalmingan san mga gusto ta ikontribuer o idanun para sa kaayadan san kapalibutan ta.

Pero, gusto ko tabi kamo padumdumun na ini na inhihimo ta dire ini dapat nagtatapos sa pagtanum ta lang sin puno didi sa Ecopark. Para sa ako, an katuyuhan sini na Fiesta sa Kabubudlan an magtukdo, an mag-edukar, an maghikayat sin sayo na adbokasiya o awareness para pagmakulugan ta an kapalibutan ta.

San nakaagi na semana, entero kita nakabalita san nangyari sa Metro Manila. Makamumundo an epekto sadto na pag-uran nan pagbaha. Nan hasta niyan, dire pa nag-uudong an pag-uran sa Northern Luzon. Dara tabi ini sin Climate Change na epekto san Global Warming.

An sabi san mga scientists tabi, na puwera san tama na pagtapuk basura, an pinakasolusyun talaga sa Global Warming an ibalik ta an mga puno sa kinab-an. Na kaipuhan magtanum, magtanum, magtanum kirita puno.

An activity ta didi sa Ecopark dapat idara ta sa iba na lugar, o mismo sa mga natad o lugar nato. Kaya ngane. Otrohon ko tabi na an Fiesta sa Kabubudlan is more of an advocacy, an educational venture, creating an awareness among us of the need to preserve Mother Earth. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the next generation after us. We are stewards of God’s creation, of Mother Earth. Magiging kumpleto lamang tabi an kaogmahan ko bilang mao an nagbatug sini na Ecopark nan Fiesta sa Kabubudlan kun maimud ko na insasabuhay na san kada taga- Bulan an tunay na pagmakulog sa kapalibutan.

Sa sulod sin lima na kataun na pagselebrar, naimud ko tabi an pambihira na pag responde san mga taga-Bulan sa panawagan ko na mag-atender kamo sini na Fiesta Sa Kabubudlan. Nan naimud ko tabi an pambihira na entusiasmo san manlaen-laen na sector san bungto ta, lalo na an mga kabatan-an. Dahil sini, dire masukol an pagpasalamat ko sa kada sayo sa iyo. Nan gusto ko tabi maintindihan san kada sayo na ini na aktibidad, binatugan ko lang, pero wara iba na mapadagus kundi karamu, kirita entero, dahilan sa nakasalalay sa kada sayo sa ato, sa ato entero na tawo, an puturo san ato kinab-an.

Sayo sa gusto ko ibalita sa iyo na san September 30, an Ecopark an napili na Regional Winner sa Brigada Ahensiya Search san Civil Service Commission. Inkikilala na tabi an Fiesta sa Kabubudlan dire lang didi sa bungto ta kundi maski sa iba na lugar didi sa Probinsiya ta, nan sa Rehiyon Bikol. Nan dahil sa internet , naniwala ako tabi na maabut an panahun makikilala an mga taga-Bulan dahil sa inhihimo ta niyan, nan para sa kapalibutan ta. Makikilala nira na an mga taga-Bulan maaram magmakulog nan magpasalamat sa biyaya san Mahal na Diyos sa ato nan ini lalanganan o hihirutan ta. Kaugmahan ko sabihun na didi sa Bikol kita lang an may-on sin irog sini na institutionalized event.

Gamitun ko man tabi ini na oportunidad na pasalamatan an mga bisita ta na maging parte san ato aktibidad. Nagparagal sira na makaabut didi sa Bulan nan didi sa Ecopark.

May manlaen-laen kita na aktibidades niyan na adlaw nan lalo na an tree-planting activity sa aga. Makisumayo kamo sa amo, magpartisipar tabi kamo, nan iudok niyo sa boot niyo an hihimuon ta. Kaupod sa pagtanum ta an pagkamoot, sinseridad, pag-asa nan pagpasalamat. Ihuring ta sa mga puno na itatanum ta, nan sa ingud na tatanuman ta na dire kita nalilimut sa pagpasalamat sa Mahal na Diyos. Nan ihuring ta sa hangin niyan, nan ipaabut sa Mahal na Dios, nan sa mga nilalang niya, sa mga bayong, sa mga panganuron, na hihimuon ta an obligasyon ta para maging mapresko gihapun an kapalibutan. Ihuring ta sa puso ta, na nagtutubod ako sa hihimuon ko niyan para sa kapalibutan, nan pagbaba ko sa bulod na ini, dara ko an aspirasyun sin pakisumayo sa kapalibutan, nan ibabalangibog ko sa bilog na komunidad yuon na pag-asa nan aspirasyun.

Sa entero na huyaa niyan, nan pati na sa mga maabut pa taud-taud o sa aga, inpapaabut ko tabi an pasalamat sa kada sayo sa iyo. Mabuhay po an kada taga-Bulan, mabuhay kirita entero.

Happy Fiesta sa Kabubudlan! Salamat, Dios mabalos.”  //


Submitted on 2009/10/12 at 3:39am



Bulan, Sorsogon, October 10, 2009:

 “Grabe an tawo! Gulpi an tawo niyan! Mas daghan niyan kaysa last year!” Overwhelming! It was the Woodstock, Bulan Version! These were the remarks heard from organizers, media reporters, traffic enforcers and observers as thousands of Bulan citizens turned up to attend various activities in celebration of, and in response to the call of Mayor Helen De Castro to, the 2009 Fiesta sa Kabubudlan (Feast of the Mountains) held on October 9-10, at the Bulan Ecopark in Barangay Calomagon. This is the sixth year of this kind since the Lady Mayor started it all in 2004. Observers estimate that over eight thousand people came to the celebration. An average of five thousand people used to come to the Ecopark celebration during the last five years. But this time even the parking lots were more than jampacked and authorities have to locate a new site for the vehicles.

As early as Thursday, a day before formal activities were to begin, groups of young people were already setting up camps and pitching tents, even as LGU organizers were making final preparations for the busy two days ahead. Enterprising citizens , with their panindas, were already busy selling goods to the early comers.

By Friday morning, a steady stream of vehicles and people, some hiking, braving the dust, made way to the Ecopark, about seven kilometers away from the town center. It was a good and busy day for many tricycle drivers fetching passengers. This went on until midnight. Traffic was busiest between 3:00 PM until ten in the evening.

Young and old, students and teachers, barangay officials tugging along their residents, boys and girls scouts, families, along with their children, even babies and toddlers, visitors from the neighboring towns of Juban, Matnog and Irosin came. Groups of youngsters from barangays Casini and San Agustin, in Irosin registered their attendance. As of eight in the evening, registration officers already recorded 156 groups and organizations. Many more were coming and many others missed the registration. An Israeli tourist came and stayed during the festivities. Tents and huts soon filled up the designated camping area. The camp area already filled up, many decided to pitch their tents, even in undesignated areas. One teacher commented that , “ Baga ini an Family Day, a Youth Day, an Environmentalist’s Day all rolled into one.”

Traffic Safety officers, with the assistance of police interns from the Solis Institute of Technology, Barangay Tanods and other volunteers were kept busy all throughout. Police authorites from the Bulan Municipal Police Station and the 509th PPMG kept the peace and order. The Rural Health Unit First Aid Team and the Bulan Rescue Team were on hand to assist people in need. The LGU ambulance stood nearby. The Kabalikat Civicom, and other civic groups like BANWA, BEAT and Uswag-Bulan, were on hand to extend assistance to the participants. The Bulan Fil-Chinese Volunteers Fire Brigade did their share by keeping the roads watered and freed off dust near the Ecopark. Despite the stream of vehicles traveling back and forth the site, not a single accident or untoward incident was recorded. Everything went according to public order and safety plans.

After lunch, even before the Opening Ceremonies, the organizers already conducted the “Laro ng Lahi” contests like Palosebo, Tubi-Tubi-ay, and other local and traditional games.

At the Opening Program, municipal officials led by Mayor Helen De Castro,together with Vice-Mayor Manuel Gogola and the Sangguniang Bayan Members, formally declared the Fiesta open. The Governor sent her representative, Dr. Librada Esplana. The speakers spoke on the need to avert Global Warming and Climate Change, and the tragic experiences from calamities as a result of unwanton destruction of the environment. Mayor De Castro exhorted the participants that before they were to plant the seedlings the next day, they have to offer prayers of hope and, thanksgiving to God. She said that this environment activity should not end with the tree-planting activity, but rather, participants should, when they come down the Ecopark, bring along with them that aspiration and desire to help Mother Earth, by planting trees anywhere they can, especially in their own backyard. She said that this environment activity is more of an advocacy, a movement, an educational venture on the ecology. Cultural numbers were also presented. The “Fiesta sa Kabubudlan” March or Theme Song, written and composed by Mr. Edwin Gloriane, was played for the first time. Once legislated, this shall be the official song of the annual celebration.

Mayor Benito Doma of Prieto-Diaz town and Visitors from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Los Banos came. They gave lectures and workshops to the Bulan audience. Mayor Doma, an awardee-mayor, lectured on Mangrove Reforestation , while the DOST researchers, Dr. Emelyne Cortiguerra and Mr. Eduard Bonong, gave lectures and demos on charcoal bricketting, an alternative form of livelihood, instead of cutting trees for charcoal. It was attended by members from NGO’s and cooperatives in Bulan.

In the evening, a pageant in search of the “Diyosa ng Kalikasan” was conducted. It focused on awareness for the environment. Also named were the “Diwata ng Hangin”, “Diwata ng Tubig”, “Diwata ng Kabundukan”. Seven beautiful contestants represented their schools. Winner as Diyosa ng Kalikasan was Lily-Ann Gaton of Alcoba National HS. Named as Diwatas were Patricia Molina of SLI-KRAMS, Jeneza Bon of JP Laurel HS, and Margie Mirabel of Magic 5 Organization. In order to participate in this pageant, the representative had to register by way of contributing twenty seedlings to the organizers. The gowns donned by the contestants were from recycled indigenous materials.

After the pageant search, a ten-minute fireworks display wowed the entire camp. A disco-dancing, attended by hundreds of people followed. It went on until dawn of the next day. Even as other activities were going on, every place in the Ecopark was filled with people just enjoying, singing, strolling, playing, or promenading. The clear moonlit sky even brightened the celebration.

At 6:30 o’clock on Saturday, a Holy Mass of Thanksgiving, presided by the Bulan Parish Priest, Fr. Ernie Mendina, was celebrated. Mayor Helen de Castro and the municipal officials, employees and the participants were in attendance.

The highlight of the celebration, the tree-planting activity after the Holy Mass was a rare experience to many, even emotional and poignant, as adults overhear children and youngsters, heeding the appeal of Mayor De Castro, whispering to the plants and to the soil, and praying, as they plant their seedlings. One Boy Scout was overheard, “ Sana tabi mawara na an mga baha sa Bulan.” Another, “Please tabi, ayaw na pagpabagyuha sa Pilipinas, kay kairuman san mga Pilipino!” Another girl, prayed, “Sige ha, pagbalik namo otro taun kisyera maimud ko ikaw na dako na na puno.” The more than one-hectare land prepared for planting by the MENRO and the GSO was not enough space for planting, as other participants simply helped together carefully handle one seedling to be planted. It became more of a symbolic action to many, even as they promised to instead plant trees in their own communities. The organizers did not expect nor anticipate the great increase in the number of participants this year. They promised a bigger planting areas next year. The garbage site-turned Ecopark is a 14.5-hectare lot donated by the late Ambassador Tomas G. De Castro, uncle-in-law of Mayor De Castro.

After the Tree-planting activity, a kite-flying contest was conducted. Twelve beautiful kites, expertly crafted by members of the competing groups, were pitted against each other. The winner was from Team Barangay Inararan, led by Team Leader Robert Cadag. They won P2,000. Runners-up were from Team Barangay Zone 8, and Team Danao National High School.

Even as the majority of the attendees already packed up by midday, many others opted to stay a little longer to enjoy the surroundings of the camp. Mayor De Castro and the employees thanked everybody and she personally saw to it that everybody was safely on the way home upon leaving camp. The campers enthusiastically promised Mayor de Castro that they shall continue cooperating with her leadership and programs even as they profusedly thanked her for the great and unique experience, and that they anticipate a bigger celebration next year. The Mayor also thanked the municipal employees for the excellent, accident-free and peaceful celebration. Of particular mention, the Mayor acknowledged the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources under Ms. Kelly Tan, the foremost department involved in the organization of the event. She noted of the professionalism and devotion to work of the municipal employees who helped her achieve a goal in public service, even as she emphasized that this is an unending crusade to save the environment.

All the four Bulan radio stations gave full coverage to the event. Thus giving the other citizens all over Bulan a chance to monitor everything that was taking place in the Ecopark. //


Bulan Observer Supports Swiss-Asian Chamber Of Commerce Task Force Asia

by jun asuncion


The devastation of  typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng to the Philippines was unprecedented in scale and magnitude. The whole world was witness to this natural catastrophe and the drama of the Filipino people as they fought to survive. Videos and  photos uploaded in internet platforms are documents of our suffering: A whole family on a roof that has been violently carried away by the gush of the swollen river only to be smashed against the concrete support of the bridge and be drowned as others were helplessly watching; a woman and a child carried by the strong current crying out for help. We can only wonder what she said to her baby before they were swallowed down the depths of the river…

 Now that the storm is over, the only thing left is to help those victims  make their miserable destiny bearable to them-  and to us. We know that catastrophes do not distinguish between rich and poor. The only difference is that the rich may recover materially much easier than the poor ones. The rich victims may already be under the shower and dressed with fine clothings  dining in fine restaurants and sleeping in comfortable rooms in hotels or fine apartments provided by their rich friends. But where are the poor? They are still there with their poor companions, stuck in the muds among the debris and sleeping in evacuation centers- if these were quickly provided by the government. Otherwise they are still  in the streets, wallowing in muddy waters, hopelessly lost, hungry and cold.

We may have been thousands of  miles away from Ondoy and Pepeng, thousands of miles away from the deep waters of Marikina and from our drowning citizens. Yet their crying voices seemed to have been heard in the farthest reaches of the universe. It is painful for those who heard them, even to those who do not share the color of our skin.

These crying voices echoed also in the alps of Switzerland and in the noble streets of Zurich. The Swiss were quick to respond, the humanitarian tradition being firmly rooted in their heart and soul. A Swiss lawyer, Dr. Martin Kurer, chairman of the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce- Philippine Chapter and co-founder of the Taskforce Asia, quickly connected himself with two Filipino nurses here in Zurich, Franklin Patricio and Milagros Asuncion, who are both working in Hirslanden Clinic, to ask for  their help on fundraising for our fellow Filipinos who are still stuck in the miry streets of Manila. Milagros Asuncion is a photographer of Bulan Observer. She also had a taste of flooding  when Storm Dante battered Bulan last May. Now the engagement to flood victims continues even when far away from home.

 In order to help raise funds, she endorsed SACC by way of offering her  testimonial to the Taskforce Asia, appeared in the Caritas, a humanitarian organization with seat in Zürich, will be appearing on  a radio interview and will be- together with Franklin-  organizing a piano concert in Zürich. I am, on the other hand, just sitting quitely at the background with my laptop-, writing for some websites here and writing letters for donors. All for the benefits of our bedraggled homeless Ondoy victims in the Philippines.

The SACC Task Force Asia was set up by the Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland, H.E. M aria Theresa P. Lazaro, and Martin Kurer, Chairman of the SACC Philippine Chapter.

Here’s the Website of the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce with our two  Filipino “ambassadors of goodwill” Mila and Franklin:


Milagros Asuncion, Nurse at Hirslanden Klinik in Zurich, Heart-Thorax Surgery Station.

Mila SCC “My name is Milagros Asuncion. I am a nurse at Hirslanden Klinik. For the past 28 years I have been working as a nurse in Switzerland. We have experienced very bad storms in the Philippines before, but this Ketsana, or Ondoy, is worse than anything I…( click here for more…)




Franklin Patricio, Nurse at  Hirslanden Zürich, Heart-Thorax Surgery Station

22I am Franklin Patricio. I am working as a nurse in a hospital in Zurich. The Philippines are very much affected by the storm which has hit Metro Manila and Northern Luzon, as the fate of my sisters’ family shows. Please support the… (click here for more…)




Bulan Observer will be supporting more humanitarian projects of the Swiss-Asian Chamber Of Commerce  in the future.

(Photos supplied by Swiss-Asian Chamber Of Commerce- with special thanks to Dr. Martin Kurer!)


Realted Articles


But we are not destroyed (as published in

 by Maribel Oana, Zurich, Switzerland

I still have my family: my mother, a widow for 43 years, who has been blind for almost 15 years, and crippled- because of a car accident last 2005- but saved; with her is my youngest brother with his wife and their 3 children, they are the ones taking care of my mother. Venue:  our  two-floors Residential house in Vista Verde Executive Village in Cainta Rizal, one of the most devastated areas hit by Typhoon Ondoy.

This is their story, as related to me by my mother and my sister-in-law.

September 26, 2009, Saturday at about 8 o’clock in the morning; the water in the streets were we lived were already ankle high (our house is one meter elevated from that of the street). After less than 15 minutes, the water rose and have reached our main gate and Garage, so my brother told my mother that he will accompany her in going to the second floor because the water is rising fast. My mother didn’t took this seriously because she knew that it never flooded in our house even when our neighbor subdivisions are under water, ours never was.

My brother and his 2 sons started putting the appliances such as the Refrigerator, washing machine and electric cooking range on the dining table while my sister-in-law and her daughter brought some biscuits, rice, noodles and water upstairs and nothing else (they were caught unprepared for this situation). Another 15 minutes gone by, the water was already inside our house on the first floor and 1 inch below the knee. My brother hurried to my mother and let her stand on her feet to make her believe that the water is truly inside our house and she was very much frightened and shocked as she felt the water on her knees.

My brother carried my mother upstairs for there is no more time left because the water is rising up every minute. Then he and his sons took the light furniture upstairs as fast as they can and that within 5 minutes then after that is history: a huge amount of water flooded our first floor.

My brother was nearly drowned for he was caught unaware, because the appliances that were on top of the table fell on the water and bumped him, he was trap in the middle of the swimming appliances and the swimming piano, thanks God, his sons pulled him up.

Not long ago on the second floor, they heard voices from outside calling for help; they saw our neighbors swimming outside crying and shouting for help. Their houses (only one floor-Bungalow style) were under water with only the roofs seen. My family welcomed our neighbors

(2 families and the youngest was a 5-year old boy). Before 9 o’clock (within less than one hour), the whole place was flooded 2 meters high, and remained there 2 days and 2 nights, with no electricity, 3 liters of water and only biscuits to eat (for they cannot cook without electricity). We were able to communicate with them through cellphone on a limited basis, since cellphones need to be recharged, too.

We may not be with our family physically during this Ondoy Tragedy, but they were always in our prayers and we motivated and encouraged then to pray, too and continue to trust in God even this times of suffering, for we know that God is still in control! My eldest brother and his family, and my eldest sister’s family were saved, but we are still looking for our cousin living in Provident Village in Marikina who until now is missing. My mother is a prayerful woman and she told me this; “my child, we may be struck down, but we are not destroyed, Praise be the name of the Lord!

The Aftermath: as of now death toll is rising up, a lot of people is still missing and thousands of people are homeless and hungry. In behalf of my countrymen, I’m asking and pleading you to please help us in cash of any amount or in kind (any old clothes, old shoes, old linen)./



Submitted on 2009/10/04 at 9:41am

PIO- Bulan

Bulan, Sorsogon, October 3, 2009, PIO-BULAN: Bulanenos heaved a very deep sigh of relief, and offered prayers of thanksgiving to God, after the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council officially declared, in its October 2, 3:00 PM Advisory that the dangers and risks posed by Supertyphoon Pepeng to the town of Bulan is over. The Supertyphoon, packing winds of between 185-230 KPH, is on its way to the northern part of the Philippines on a west-northwest track as forecast by PAG-ASA. The MDCC Action Officer, Luis De Castro, however, appealed to the public to continue praying for other Filipinos who might be affected by the storm and that they too be spared of this calamity.

Supertyphoon Pepeng endangers the Philippines once more a week after Tropical Storm Ondoy, on September 28-29, brought death, devastation and havoc to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in Metro Manila. Hundreds died and many more were missing from the floodwaters as high as ten meters, due to the record high volumes of rain by this malevolent weather. As of this writing, rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts are still on-going in Manila. Not a single family in Bulan is without a relative in Manila.

When news from PAG-ASA and from the Internet about Pepeng was received by the Office of the Municipal Mayor, Mayor Helen De Castro, Chairman of the MDCC, immediately called, on Wednesday, September 30, an emergency meeting of all members of the MDCC and other stakeholders to put into action and implementation the Municipal Disaster Risk-Reduction Plan.

By evening of October 1, Sorsogon Province was placed under Public Storm Signal No.1, and by then, the Bulan MDCC and all the BDCCs were already activated. Other parts of the Bicol Region were ready, and so were all other Philippine regions. Great were the lessons learned from the tragic experience of Storm Ondoy.

In the whole town of Bulan, residents were properly informed, hand-outs on readiness were distributed, operation capabilities checked and re-checked by local authorities. All the four radio stations played very responsible roles in the public information. In flood-prone barangays like Managa-naga, Obrero, San Vicente, barangay officials prepared rafts from recycled ice chests or styrofores. Managa-naga Barangay Chairman said they also prepared a kilometer-long rope for their residents in case flood waters rise.

The spirit of Bayanihan and volunteerism once more came to the fore as several groups and organizations came to help the MDCC in monitoring , in the voluntary and pre-emptive evacuation of citizens in hazard areas, and in the relief operations in evacuation centers.

Groups like USWAG-Bulan, TOFY, Kabalikat-CIVICOM, BANWA, MAGIC 5, BEAT, and the Bulan Rescue Team were all in hand to do varied roles necessary for the safety of the citzenry

During the storm, 14 houses were partially destroyed by storm surges in Barangay JP Laurel. There were also 56 families or 188 persons attended to by MSWDO/RHU personnel and by the volunteers. The Bulan Integrated Terminal became a refuge center for 125 stranded passengers bound for Masbate and Ticao Island. Hot meals were given to them while they are staying at the terminal. Sadly, one passenger from Palanas , Masbate died of a heart attack upon arrival at the terminal. He was attended to by the Bulan PNP.

Fortunately, there were no reports of damage to public infrastructure. Farmers were also thankful that there was only minor damage to crops , especially that this is now the palay-harvest season in Bulan.

The MDCC, thru the Municipal Mayor and the Municipal Action Officer, extended thanks to all those who, in one way or another, did their share in making sure that the Bulan community was safe.





Bulan, Sorsogon, October 3, 2009 – Several passengers, before boarding their tricycles that will bring them to the Bulan Pier today, extended thanks and praises to the Local Government Unit of Bulan and the Bulan Terminal personnel, for the attention and care given to them while staying here at the local government facility at the height of typhoon Pepeng.

Yesterday, a total of 125 passengers bound for Masbate and Ticao Island were stranded at the Terminal, Of these, 54 were males, 54 females and 17 children.

The MSWDO gave out hot meals for dinner yesterday and another breakfast pack this morning to all the passengers before they left for their trip to Masbate, after Typhoon Signal No. 1 was lifted by PAG-ASA.

These were sad moments however for the family of one of the passengers, a 60-year old male resident of Palanas town in Masbate, who died of a heart attack, 20 minutes after debarking from the MegaBus, due to fear brought about by announcements on the typhoon. He was immediately attended to by terminal personnel and the PNP..

According to Terminal Manager Ruel Gimao, the Bulan Integrated Terminal, since it started operation, has always been a holding center to hundreds of Masbate passengers, everytime the Coast Guard suspends inter-island vessel trips to and from Masbate and Ticao or Northern Samar.

Gimao said that many passengers texted him after reaching their destination in Masbate and Ticao thanking local authorities for attending to them while staying at the Terminal. They say that they felt safer at the new facility unlike before that they were exposed to many elements in private terminals in the Poblacion.

THE Local Government Unit has in the past purchased several beddings and utensils to be used especially by children and old people stranded at the Terminal. A holding room has also been especially furbished for use by these passengers. The Terminal Manager reported that in many instances in the past months, they have already helped several persons with mental illnesses, and who were on their own when they arrived at the Terminal. These people were properly referred to the police and health and social welfare authorities.