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Philippine Portraits from a Canadian Photojournalist's Lenses

"Its welcoming, friendly, creative, forgiving, kind and resilient people." says Canadian photojournalist Liza Linklater when asked what she finds so special about the Philippines. Her photo exhibit entitled Philippine Portraits displayed at The Alcove photo gallery of the Filipinas Heritage Library, presented fifteen (15) photographs taken in Tagaytay, Intramuros, Roxas Boulevard and Makati . Shot from 2008 until 2010, Philippine Portraits is mostly about ordinary Filipinos who dwell in the streets all day long to make a living or continue living.

Liza Linklater describes these people are hard-working that get up and work everyday to support their families. She adds "it is these daily occupations and the dignity and pride that they attach to even the humblest of tasks that I have tried to capture in my photographs". She is convinced that the country is really about the people though she thinks that the landscape is magnificent too. Her photographs were exhibited in Canada, Thailand and the Philippines. Her articles and photographs were published in North American and Asian magazines and newspapers. She has lived in Asia for eleven (11)  years and Philippine Portraits is the fruit of her three (3) - year stay in Manila.

Philippine Portraits is a hodge-podge of the country's identities. A touch of tourism can be seen in "Intramuros Guards" and "Three Nuns." Love for sports is shown in "Baseball Players", "Tennis Coach & Ball Boy", "Skateboarders" and of course the "Boxing Trainers".  Filipinos in the streets: "Pedicab  Driver", "Street Sweepers",  "DPC & Construction Workers", "Crossing Guards" and the "Guadalupe Girls". "Domestic Helpers" which used to be the flagship of overseas filipino workers before and education as the hope of the future "Manila Students".

Check the Photos:  

The Alcove Photo Gallery of the Filipinas Heritage Library

Intramuros Guards - Manila 2009

Pedicab Driver - Intramuros 2010

Guadalupe Girls - Makati 2010

Pedicab Driver - Intramuros 2010

Three Nuns - Tagaytay 2008

Boxing Trainers - Punch Out Club Makati 2010

To view the rest of the photos, click here

Information and Photographs taken from Filipinas Heritage Library dated Nov. 27, 2010

Pinays Obsession on Skin Whitening Products: Let's Take a Look

Pinays are the highest users when it comes to skin whitening products with 50% among Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan women. This is according to Synovate, a global market research company which conducted a survey last 2004. Now it's 2010, still whitening products are one of the hottest and best sellers in the local markets today. See the white faces of idolized actors and celebrities or notice the dominance of people locally with whiter complexion,  these are the kinds  most of Pinays  go gaga to look like them. Think, if skin colours do show a rather unfair  trend.

Skin whitening products in the Philippines like Avon's Anew 360 White, Ponds Whitening Detox Creme, Olay Whitening Intensive Creme, Papaya products, glutathione and those from Belo are very in demand. It seems impossible to count how many products more Pinays are spending so much as according to Cheche V. Moral of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, skincare in the Philippines is worth P22 billion pesos or almost $48 billion. Certainly, this is a big and serious business here in the Philippines. It is also seldom to find beauty products without a whitening ingredient. Check the commercials/advertisements of most of the products mentioned above: a plain, boring girl is depicted for the one who has darker complexion and then goes smarter, prettier as she  becomes whitier and noticed more by people around.

Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo novels published in 1890's has a character named Donya Victorina, a pinay who is ashamed of her look and color that she tries to put on lots of make up just to look more Spanish. Whiter skin has become “a reflection of labour status.” says historian Gerald Horne of University of Houston in the digital news outlet GlobalPost.  When one sees a person with white skin, a quick impression is he/she is beautiful, glamorous and rich.

According to Veronica Cerrer's writing entitled Skin Whitening and Dark Beauty in the Philippines , pinays' obsession on skin whitening products can be traced back to colonial mentality. In my simplest translation, a state of feeling inferior or thinking of always being the least in anything. Spanish colonized the Philippines for almost 3 decades and Americans for over 50 years and it somehow left a negative mark about the ideal of beauty to the pinays or the women of the Philippines.  Come on, shrug that colonial mentality off! While skin whitening is a free option for pinays, why not we revive that tanned skin with "exotic look" as beautiful and glamorous not the usual pitied definition of domesticated and uneducated pinays?

Information source: Veronica Cerrer's  Skin Whitening and Dark Beauty in the Philippines published in dated April 20, 2010

Philippines is now the 4th Biggest Shipbuilder in the World

“This year, the Philippines will become the fourth largest shipbuilder in the world, next only to China, South Korea and Japan. We are now already No. 1 in seamen, with 260,000 Filipino seafarers who sail the seven seas. We’re a superpower at sea. We have over 11,000 direct and indirect workers, and we plan to hire 2,000 - 3,000 additional workers in the next three years.” says Tsuneishi CEO & President Jon Ramon Aboitiz during the launching of M/V Tenshu Maru which is the biggest ship ever built in the Philippines. There are two world-class shipbuilding facilities that produce high-value exports in the Philippines:  Tsuneishi in Cebu and Hanjin in Subic.

M/V Tenshu Maru was launched last Nov. 10 at Tsuneishi shipyard in Balamban town of western Cebu province. Pres. Noynoy C. Aquino, the Japanese ambassador, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and other local politicians, leaders of the Aboitiz family who owns 20 percent of the shipyard, Japanese executives and workers joined the event. The M/V Tenshu Maru stretches 286.9 meter long, 45 meter wide and weighs around 92,000 tons. It only took 10 months to build the M/V Tenshu Maru with the help of 50 engineers and is now manned by 22 crews. To date, it is the 120th vessel constructed in Cebu.

The 147-hectare shipyard where M/V Tenshu Maru, was built 16 years ago with only 2,000 workers but now it surged to 11,000 workers and 70% of these workers are Balamban residents. Aboitiz added with the combined output of the Balamban shipyard and Hanjin in Subic, we’re surely be the fourth largest in shipbuilding. Balamban Mayor Ace Binghay in an interview said he is very proud that his hometown is the site of one of the world’s biggest shipyards though the place doesn’t have a track record of shipbuilding before. Pres. Noynoy in his speech thanked Tsuneishi “for achieving so much in short time and for the jobs provided to the people.”

Source: Aquino hails shipbuilders for jobs from Sunstar Cebu and Let's aim to be the Manny Pacquiao of shipbuilding, tourism and entertainment
Picture from

Pinays are Happier over Food than Sex, Survey Says

To measure the Philippine society’s progress including happiness which is called the Philippine Happiness Index (PHI) is one of the tasks of National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). The latest results however sounded unusual showing the biggest disparity in the rankings on Love and Sex life of Filipinos. Correspondents were asked to rate things that make them happy with 1 as the highest and 20 as the lowest. Pinoys (male) rated it as 10th most important or 10th least important but Pinays (female) rated it as 18th most important or second least important. In love life, Pinoys rated it as 6th most important and for Pinays it’s 10th most important. “These shows unmet expectations for love and sex  [that] can surely lead to problems, and must be managed properly and professionally.” says Dr. Romulo A. Virola, Secretary General of NSCB.

Pinays find Family, Health, and Religion and/or spiritual work as the three most important sources of happiness. Same result showed up from the Pinoys. Pinays consider participation in Cultural Activities, Community and volunteer work, Leisure and sports, and Technological know-how as unimportant sources of happiness. A loud knock from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) to find more effective ways to encourage our kababayans to enjoy  culture and to do volunteer work! A society that appreciates culture and volunteerism is surely a better place. In Politics, Environment, Government, and Peace and security, they are both least happy. The relative importance (rank) of Friends as a source of happiness has gone down since 2007. So did we stop looking for “real” friends already instead we splurged online adding more never-seen friends and followers?

In four months that we had a bachelor president, the Philippines has grown by about 600,000 - the fastest rate of increase in Southeast Asia. We are currently around 9 million. So how come Pinays literally preferred food over sex? Or does it show that a number of Pinays find sex an uncomfortable topic, rarely discussed even during dinner when all the family members are present to get to know the “realities” of life. The Reproductive Health bill is shaking the Filipinos’ identities. It is shaking more the credibility of the Catholic Church. Use of contraceptives is touted as the answer. Up to what extent? Can we give our 15-year old sister or daughter who says she wants to do it since she won’t get pregnant anyway? How about the safety and its side effects?  Will it be used in moderation or as free as air we breathe? What should the Pinays think before they spread their legs in bed? And when they think of the time that they're ready to bear a child, what is their contingency plan? Pinays need to know.

Source and Information and Picture from:  NCSB and Yahoo Philippines

The Philippines hosts some of the world’s greatest animal migrations

National Geographic's Great Migrations documentary to be shown every Sunday this whole month of November  is about animals' fierce moves in the name of survival. The Philippines hosts some of the world's greatest animal migrations including that of thousands of humpback whales, sea turtles, whale sharks, and wild birds every year when winter starts. "Humpback whales come to the Babuyan Islands from as far away as Alaska’s Bering Sea, in order to calve. Migratory birds from Japan, Korea, and China come to feed at the Candaba Marsh in Pampanga, Olango Island in Cebu, the Agusan Marsh in eastern Mindanao, and the dozens of other Philippine ‘refueling stations’ along the East Asian Flyway.” says Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, CEO/Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, WWF-Philippines.

He adds, “In the global theater of animal migrations, our archipelago is a major destination. The Philippines plays a key role in ensuring the survival of some of the world’s most vulnerable and endangered species. Great Migrations is tagged as the most ambitious documentary in 122-year history of the National Geographic Society. It is  seven-part global television program that features the difficult journeys millions of animals embark on to ensure the survival of their species .  Every 9pm it features Born to Move, Need to Breed, Race to Survive, and Feast or Famine – four one-hour episodes that focus on incredible animal journeys, the reasons for their great migrations, and the overwhelming challenges they face.

Check these sites for more details: Click the City and Picture from National

Philippines is the World’s 3rd Richest Country in Medicinal Plants

"We Filipinos are so much beholden to North America and European pharmaceutical companies that we forget we are more bio-diverse than the US, Europe and China. We tend to rely too much on imported synthetic medicine instead of our own natural products." says Dr. Galvez. Tan a proponent of integrated medicine (traditional and modern). Out of the hundreds of thousands of plants documented since the Spanish times, 1,500 are medicinal plants but only 170 or 10% have been intensively researched. This is the reality of what the Philippine medicinal plants are today.


Next to Brazil and Indonesia, the Philippine medicinal plants is the answer to the people who cannot afford or does not even have money to buy expensive medicine available over the counter today.  An average Filipino does not need to spend a little more for his daily vitamin supplements for him to keep working and not spending too much of his sick leave. Philippine medicinal plants have the advantage of phytochemicals which makes them the safest medicines or no issues of safety, toxicty and side effects except with some very potent plants.


Dr. Galvez Tan  is Undersecretary when he helped Health Secretary Juan Flavier to formulate the top 10  Philippine medicinal plants based on research, accessibility, and power to address the common diseases with no side effects.


Top ten comprises of:

Lagundi or Five-leaved Chaste Tree (Vitex negundo) - a shrub whose leaves are used as decoction or tea for asthma, cough and fever. 

Yerba Buena/Mint or Hibas (Mentha cordifolia) - an herb and spice that can be eaten raw or drunk as a tea and serves as an analgesic for headache and body pains.

Sambong or Blumea Camphor (Blumea balsamifera) - is a hairy shrub with fragrant leaves that effectively melt kidney stones. It is also a dieuretic, which is safe for people with edema or hypertension.

Wild tea or Tsaang Gubat (Carmina retusa) - is a shrub with shiny, dark green leaves used for abdominal pain and colic. As a decoction, the leaves contain natural fluoride good for mouthwash.

Chinese honeysuckle or Niyog-niyogan (Quisqualis) -  is a vine with fruits and flowers. The seeds fight ringworms. The only side efect is a hiccup.

Bayabas or Guava (Psidium guajava) - The decoction of leaves and its powdered dried fruits and bark cleanses wounds and skin ulcers. As a mouthwash, it treats oral infections and serves as a foot and boty deodorant.
Ampalaya or Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia)  - is a vegetable with corrugated skin and leaves used to lower blood sugar.
Bawang or Garlic (Allium sativum) - is a spice known for lowering blood cholesterol.

Pansit-pansitan or Silver/Shiny bush - has heart-shaped leaves and edible stems used for salads and as a decoction. It treates gout and lowers blood uric acid.

Akapulko or Ringworm bush (Cassia alata) - is a shrub with bright yellow flowers and long, slender, flat fruits. The juice of the leaves can heal fungal skin infections.
Article source from Look magazine September Issue 2010 "What's in your backyard?"