The Historical Significance Behind South Africa’s Freedom Day

For South Africa, the road to democracy was a long and difficult one.

History states that South Africa’s freedom was hard earned, yet despite years of conflict, racial discrimination, and even bloodshed, South Africa continues to rise above its challenges.

April 27 also commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held in 1994. This was the first historical democratic elections where the first non-racial national elections was held. On this day, we not only remember the bitter history and wrongs of the past, but to celebrate just how far the country has come as a nation in building bridges to a better future.

Now, the country is on its 23rd year of commemorating its Freedom. Though South Africa is still in the process of achieving the truest essence of freedom, the need to acknowledge the good achieved keeps South Africa motivated and moving forward.

Last night, I was privileged to join the South African Embassy in celebrating the country’s 23rd Freedom Day Celebration.

To never forget one’s history, to fight injustice in all its forms and to see how far one has come – may it be for a person, community, or a country – is what makes freedom all the more significant and integral for humanity to thrive.

Thank you to the South African Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Martin Slabber for having me. I am one with South Africa in commemorating this milestone in your country’s rich history. Happy Freedom day my dear friends!

SA Freedom Day Celebration

American aid volunteer writes new book on “Yolanda”

How do you survive a super typhoon with the destructive force of an atomic bomb? How did the people of Tacloban City, who survived the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), cope in the aftermath of a storm for the ages? What was it like on the ground for aid workers in the city, weeks and months later?

More than two years after the strongest recorded typhoon on Earth claimed the lives of at least 6,300 in Tacloban and elsewhere in the Philippines, William Rodney “Bill” Shaw attempts to answer these questions – and some of his own – from the perspective of those who lived through its horrors in the new book “Yolanda: The Roaring, The Waves, The Waiting”.Bill Shaw

Self-published by Shaw and printed in the Philippines, the book is based on the experiences of seven individuals living in Tacloban before, during and after Yolanda. Their stories are retold and mixed with the American’s own insights as an aid worker who volunteered in Tacloban for four months, distributing food, relief packs, and building homes for the city’s survivors.

“These seven lives represent a complicated intersection — of understanding and misunderstanding, freedom and captivity, personal faith and cultural beliefs,” Shaw says in a note on the book’s back cover. “We can find heroes in these pages, but no winners. Yolanda underscores the face of catastrophe, where everyone suffers and everyone struggles to overcome.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Shaw and his wife Deborah — a photographer who took the images found in the “Yolanda” book — first came to the Philippines in 2002 with Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL Philippines). Bill also worked as an administrator at Faith Academy in Cainta, Rizal until 2004.

With Filipino friends, the Shaws also founded Urban Opportunities for Change Foundation Inc., which published “The Jeepney” street magazine in the Philippines in 2008. It followed the concept of “street papers” that provide employment for the homeless and indigent in First World countries.

Urban was also responsible for forming and sending football teams to represent the Philippines to the Homeless World Cup, which uses “the beautiful game” to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Over 70 countries participate in this annual tournament.

Bill and Debbi currently live and work in Traverse City, Michigan. Bill sits on the Board of Speak Up Magazine, Inc., and Speak Up Michigan, Inc., both non-profits giving jobs and a voice to people experiencing homelessness in Michigan and North Carolina. They also manage a series of rental properties and occasionally take on electrical contracting projects.

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Yolanda: The Roaring, The Waves, The Waiting” (224 pages, self-published by William Shaw through Urban Opportunities for Change LLC) is available in the Philippines for Php 500.

Cover Yolanda1

Please send orders to Kids International Ministries (KIM), c/o New Faith Family Children’s Home Foundation, #3 Birds of Paradise, Valley Golf Road, Cainta, Rizal, Philippines 1900. You may also call KIM at +632 658 4820.

Eighty percent (80%) of the proceeds of the book will go to KIM’s disaster relief efforts in Tacloban City.

“Yolanda: The Roaring, The Waves, The Waiting” will be launched today February 18, 2016 (Thursday) at the Nuvo bar in Greenbelt 2 in Makati City from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m.

It will also be launched in Tacloban City on February 20, 2016 (Saturday) at the “Lighthouse”, Lot# 36708, near Payapay Bridge, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm.

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FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT:
Jimbo Gulle, phones (0917) 775-1479 or (0919) 999-5166; email: jimbo dot gulle at gmail dot com

30 years and counting

When you turn 30, you’re supposed to act your age. Like what the rest of society is expected from a full grown person who’s supposed to be on their own, most likely married by now and popping babies, left and right.

But I don’t have a husband and I am carefully thinking where I can buy a customized one. Plus, I still have to decide whether I would like to go through the excruciatingly, painful process of child birth. (RANDOM THOUGHT ~ In this day and age of advanced medicine, there must be a way to keep the birth pains down a notch either by a new pill, procedure, conditioning, etc. It’s the 21st century after all, we should have something by now, right?)

Believe me, 30 years was a work in progress. I’m just relieved I even managed to get this far!?

Deep down, I have always been a kid at heart. Case in point, I came up with two very substantial examples: Adventure Time and fast food. 😉

Growing up on Disney movies, it was a no-brainer that I would love cartoons. I’ve sang with my nieces to the tune of Elsa’s Let it Go so many times already it’s sickening. Then there’s my infatuation with Wall-E, how convenient it would be to have a robot for a pet especially one who can do my house chores, and to have Alladin’s Genie as your best friend. Awesome right?

Lately, I’ve been hooked on Adventure Time. When I’m off the computer, I tune in to that show. I’m not plugging the show in any way, but don’t you just find the characters amusing? I am particularly fond of Lumpy Space Princess (LSP), who can be an annoying drama queen, is very self-centered and at times, arrogant but who you can’t help but love thanks to her saving grace of sassiness, sweetness, loyalty, intuitiveness and resourcefulness that, most often than not, gets her out of the most ridiculous situations.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out Lumpy Space Princess here –

[NOTE: Adventure Time is a PG rated cartoon. There are parts of the program that need parental supervision and guidance. Parents, you have been warned.]

And also, this comes as no surprise to most of you, I’m not much of a cook. The irony is that I come from a family that are fantastic cooks! Both my parents (and brother) cook. My grandmother on my father’s side is also a great one. She’s Visaya and all manner of home entertaining, she has down to a tee. While on my mother’s side (all Kapampangan), every single person in that family knows their way around the kitchen. During dinner, I would sometimes think, maybe the “cooking gene” skipped a generation — and guess who the lucky tadpole was?

You maybe good at the computer, but your useless in the kitchen” my mom would sigh.

But I am an appreciative audience. Really. I don’t nitpick on food. I eat whatever’s served. Yup, I’m a good tadpole in that sense. 😉

The idea of food has always had a more practical use for me: it’s only good when I’m hungry.

Don’t tell anyone this, but I can live on fast food alone. Ssssh…Although, I do have my (never ending) goals to eat healthy and live a clean lifestyle.

If it weren’t for my family’s cooking, I’d probably be skin and bones. (So a big thanks to my family for keeping me alive! Yey!)

Despite my work as a journalist for a number of publications, being a content provider and social media specialist for some respected companies while running a modest start-up on the side, I can’t help but think — How did I get so lucky?

Truth be told, I would have to give the appreciation to the individuals who’s confidence in my capabilities and skills, to those whose lives I’ve been able to observe whether in their home, at work, with family or otherwise, have all been a cumulative source of inspiration.

For sharing your life with me, for showing me how it is be kind, how it is to share, to not take oneself too seriously, to constantly place a high premium on competence and integrity while reminding me to keep both feet firmly planted on solid ground. I dedicate this post to you. Thank you.

You have been an inspiration to me and I hope I could be the same with people I come in contact with for the remainder of my days. I hope that by the time I write on my 60th birthday, on this very same website, 30 years from now, I’ll be able to look back and reminisce what a privilege my life has been.

There is this verse that is very close to my heart which I also try to live every single day “He has told you oh man what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)

Thank you for being a part of my 30 years. Happy birthday to me.

Old Lady Signing Off,

Paula

My Transformation (err, mutation?) through the years…

Potential hell-raiser right there...

Potential hell-raiser right there…

Serious kid. Nah!

Serious kid. Nah!

I was 5 years old then.

Cheeky 5 year old.

At 5 years old.

At 5 years old.

In gradeschool, I think.

In gradeschool, I think.

IMG_20141019_100935

My hair. Bow.

With some of my fabulous looking cousins during Anne's 18th

With some of my fabulous looking cousins during Anne’s 18th

During the 2014 Mining Conference at Sofitel. Working very hard as you can see.

During the 2014 Mining Conference at Sofitel. Working very hard as you can see.

During my trip to check out one of the mine sites in Palawan. Met with one of the tribes people.

During my trip to check out one of the mine sites in Palawan. Met with one of the tribes people.

Grabbing dinner after the 2013 Mining Philippines coverage

Grabbing dinner after the 2013 Mining Philippines coverage

During an art exhibit hosted by Dennis Smith with former first lady, Mrs. Imelda Marcos

During an art exhibit hosted by Dennis Smith with former first lady, Mrs. Imelda Marcos

My interview with Filipino artist BenCab.

My interview with Filipino artist BenCab.

My interview with Renewable Energy Director Mario Marasigan of the Department of Energy.

My interview with Renewable Energy Director Mario Marasigan of the Department of Energy.

My College Graduation.

My College Graduation.

MPAT

My Official Correspondent Picture. Sheesh.

Humanizing Noah

Have you watched the movie “Noah”? I strongly suggest you do. Though I do have my reservations about the accuracy of the characters called the “Watchers”, over all, the film was well done. Personally, the most outstanding performance in the film was Logan Lerman. As young as he is, Logan brought so much grit and authenticity to his tortured character. He is definitely someone to watch out for in future films. Given a saner schedule, I would definitely watch this movie again.

I requested a friend to do a review of the film, and she has done a fantastic job! I do hope that the film blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

Favorite Quotes:
Methuselah: He speaks to you. You must trust that He speaks in a way that you only can understand.

Tubal Cain: You stand alone and defy me?

Noah: I’m not alone.

 

Noah Movie Poster

Noah Movie Poster

(MAJOR SPOILER ALERT)

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7)

Everybody knows the biblical story of Noah and his ark: After the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, the land increasingly became barren along with man’s wickedness. God wants to erase everything He has made – mankind and all the animals—and make a new earth. Good thing Noah found favour in God. So God gives him the task of making an ark and saving a pair of each animal on earth, together with his family. After a hundred years of endlessly working on the ark, the flood comes and everything is swept away. Noah starts mankind’s history anew.
Darren Aronofsky, the director of Noah¸ has successfully shown this in a highly-animated film and more. Russell Crowe (The Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) plays the rough and persevering Noah. In a land where food is scarce and one has to constantly guard against scavengers, he is still able to come across as a warm father-figure who is brave enough to fight in a hand-to-hand combat to save his family. Jennifer Connelly (Blood Diamond, Hulk) brilliantly portrays Noah’s wife Naameh, who resiliently stands by her husband whatever the cost of his decisions. Ray Winstone (The Departed, Hugo) is terrifying as Tubal-cain, the self-proclaimed king of man who stops at nothing just to get into Noah’s boat and be saved. Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) is also in this film, though a little bit unrecognizable, and surprisingly charming in the lovable character of Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather. One of the highlights of the film is Emma Watson (Harry Potter series), who, despite living in a wasted land, still looks pretty and dainty as ever, playing Ila, the wife of Noah’s first son, Shem.


Brilliant Casting

Russell Crow depicted a very human portrayal of Noah. He is tough because he is hardened by living in an empty and dangerous land. But despite all the cruelty of the world, he is still able to appreciate the beauty that is left: a flower blooming should be left where it is because it is its place; a wounded animal should be treated and not be feasted on; and respect for man even if they are wicked inside and out. But high acting praises for this film goes to Jennifer Connelly, who is deeply moving as Noah’s wife. She understands that she has to be submissive to her husband, but she knows how and when to speak her mind. (Spoiler alert) When she learns that Noah has to kill Ila’s child, she spoke against it and confesses to Noah that it is her who asked for the children. “It was me, Noah! I asked for this!” she cries. She then proceeds to give Noah an ultimatum—she will leave Noah, regardless of whether the child is a boy or a girl. Her intensity truly radiates beyond the screen.


An Impressive Ark

This film undoubtedly uses a number of special effects: from the cartoonish way of telling the Adam and Eve story to the physical manifestations of Noah’s dreams. This approach is very effective in getting the message across, though somewhat a little bit base for a serious movie-goer. Setting all the animated effects aside, the rest of the technicalities of the film are amazing. The land is as inhospitable as how one would imagine the ends of the earth. The ark, shaped like a chest (because it’s Latin origin literally means “chest), is the most realistic ark ever. It is humongous and built only for two functions: to save the family and animals, and… to float.

 

Unbiblical storytelling

Some audience are showing concern that the film is “very unbiblical”. This could be discussed because some points of the film indeed are not mentioned in the bible. One of these is the fallen angels or The Watchers. According to Aronofsky, the Watchers’ design is inspired by three images: six-winged Seraphim angels, a seagull trapped in oil, and ballet dancers with blocks attached to their feet. Afronofsky continues on to say that “these are angelic forms captured, malformed, imprisoned by the earth; winged creatures who got encased and had to use their wings as arms and legs.” Source: (IMDB) There is no verse in the bible indicating that the angels had helped Noah build the ark. Perhaps, if angels did help, it wouldn’t have taken Noah 100 years to finish it?

A friend also raised the fact that since Ila had twin daughters and Noah’s two youngest sons are still unmarried, it could be speculated that these two couples might end up together to start the new generation of mankind. The friend expressed disapproval for this scenario and described it as “icky”. Well, if you think about it, mankind did start with Adam and Eve. Of course, mankind had to continue on from their children, and their children… and their children. Do you get the drift?

 

Christian Issues

Noah is certainly not a religious movie—with all the added elements of The Watchers and Ila’s twin girls—but it is a Christian film. This is to say that the film heaved a number of Christian issues taught in services and sermons today. Here are some of the issues raised:

1. God will speak to you in ways you will understand. When Noah seek the counsel of Methuselah regarding his visions, the old man assured his grandson that the Creator only speaks to them in ways they will understand. Pastors often advise Christians to ask God to speak to them—and He does. Of course, God will make sure that He gets the message across. “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13)

2. Deciding on things without the counsel of God will always have lifelong consequences. Naameh asked Methuselah for help because she wanted her children to have their own wives and children. She did this without asking counsel from the Creator, or from Noah. Methuselah decided to touch Ila’s barren womb and made it fertile. Because of this, her babies became the bane of Noah’s mission – which is to end the course of mankind on earth. He is made to decide to kill these babies – a great consequence of Naameh’s plea to Methuselah. We must always remember to ask counsel from God for everything we do because “he who trusts in his own heart is a fool”. (Proverbs 28:26) Remember that “Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.” (Proverbs 13: 10)

3. When you ask God to put His desire in your heart instead of your own, you will receive it. Noah is ready to drive the knife into the baby’s heart. He is driven by his mission from the Creator. I am sure that he has prayed about this endlessly, being a friend of God. He has already uttered the words, “It is done”—pertaining to the Creator’s mission for him. But something in him stirs. His heart is wary because his desire has changed. Though he wants to fulfil God’s mission for him, something else has replaced this in his heart. It is God’s mercy—because he has prayed about this. “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:27) Christians must also bear in mind that “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:2-3)

Aronofsky ‘s interpretation of Noah’s narrative is riveting and dramatic. It shows the human surface of Noah – he could hear the screams of people drowning outside the ark but he knew he had to remain steadfast to what the Creator had asked him to do. You could imagine the pain in his heart for every cry for help he had to endure. His character is in pain and sometimes anxious – which makes him relatable. Good job on that, Aronofsky. Though the idea of The Watchers is still far from convincing, Jennifer Connelly’s acting could make up for that. Reactions are mixed for the movie Noah, but nevertheless, it is a movie worth taking the time for.

 

 

About the Contributor:
Jihan Estrella is brainstormer for soap programs at GMA Network, Inc. She is currently involved in the primetime shows “My Destiny” and “My BFF”. She is also a social media operations analyst for a Singaporean social media services company.

 

 

Empowering the Future through Solar Energy

In a world where excess is a way of life, love for the environment  and the minimalist lifestyle is a dying breed. But Honorio “Rod” Tolentino, President of NickelPhil Consultants and LEDS Lighting Systems, Inc. stays optimistic.

A licensed geologist by profession, who also happens to be a strong advocate of responsible mining, decided to think of a way where he can harness energy from a source that is not harmful to the environment.  Seeing the destructive side of mining, he decided to take advantage of this free energy provided by the sun.

One of his inventions, a mobile streetlight (humorously called their Power Kariton) runs on solar energy, has already won an award in Singapore. He firmly believes that through renewable energy, we can help our environment avoid deterioration.

“Solar energy is the simplest form of renewable energy. It has the lowest need for maintenance, and it can be easily operated. All you need is a nice spot to catch the sun’s rays and you are ready to go.”- Rod Tolentino

One of the good things about going solar is that it can provide anyone with a reliable source of energy. From a corporate perspective, for example, having solar energy as your power source can also provide backup whenever there’s brownout. In other words, Meralco won’t cripple your business (or even your household) due to its loss of power supply.

Solar energy can also be stored in batteries for future use. When it comes to its disadvantages, Rod can’t see anything aside from the battery’s disposal. But even the batteries are recyclable.

Join MissTolentino.com  as we take a closer look at this ingenious way of harnessing energy.

 

Husband & Wife duo, Rod & Lyn, together with their team welcome us into their impressive solar powered home and office. Here the couple pose with solar panels and solar powered golf cart.

Husband and Wife, Rod and Lyn, together with their team welcome us into their impressive solar powered home and office. Here the couple pose with their Power Kariton and solar powered golf cart.

A sample of the solar panels used to light their impressive home.  These babies were currently being charged in their driveway when we took snapshots.

Introducing the Power Kariton. These are the solar panels used to light their impressive home. These babies were currently being charged on their driveway when MissTolentino.com arrived.

A geologist by profession, Rod Tolentino shows off his solar powered golf cart his kids use for small errands (and play) around their community.

A geologist by profession, Honorio “Rod” Tolentino, President of NickelPhil Consultants and LEDS Lighting Systems, Inc. shows off his solar powered golf cart he himself designed. Currently this prototype is being used by his kids for errands (and play) around their community.

The minimalist approach yet well powered home of Rod functions as showcase for clients who are interested in powering their homes and businesses with solar energy.

The minimalist approach yet well powered home of Rod functions as showcase for clients who are interested in powering their homes and businesses with solar energy.

A view of a hallway leading to guest rooms is well lit with solar powered lights. The transition to LED lights has significantly lowered their energy consumption by 30-40%.

A view of a hallway leading to guest rooms is well lit with solar powered lights. The transition to LED lights has significantly lowered their energy consumption by 30-40%.

True to its pursuit, the whole office and house of Rod Tolentino is powered by solar energy.

True to its pursuit, the whole office and house of Rod Tolentino is powered on solar energy.

The official story and interview with Rod and his journey towards energy sustainability will come out in the August-October issue of the Philippine Resources Journal.