Archive for September, 2011


Today, Filipinos commemorate the 2nd anniversary of Typhoon Ketsana (local name: Ondoy) rampaging through Metro Manila, in ways similar to what Americans commemorate during anniversary services of Hurricane Katrina, which happened on August 29, 2005.

I wrote a poem today describing what was the outcome of one full day of nonstop rains on Metro Manila, shattering old records along the way and what had happened in the weeks and even years following.

Ondoy: Two Years Since It Happened

by Bona Rae Villarta

On September 26, 2009,
nonstop widespread rains
tormented not only Metro Manila
but also its neighboring provinces,
leaving a few thousands dead,
while millions of lives were changed
in one day.

The most damaging effects
from this typhoon
were found in Pasig, Cainta
and especially Marikina
where entire villages were flooded there,
not sparing even those of the upper class.
Most people in these places moved forward,
while others gave up and moved on.

In North and South alike, the rains
flooded roadways and blocked access to roads
leaving thousands of students and commuters
stranded along them and some
even stayed there overnight.

Over the course of a few weeks following the storm,
People from all over the archipelago, even those
far from the damage,
volunteered their time, donated their extras,
and even helped those who were affected
rebuild their lives.

As 2009 winded down, the typhoon season
was not even finished for us.
Pepeng did its time in northern Luzon
two weeks after Ondoy and
damaged everything in its path,
making landfall three times.

In Muntinlupa, the damage from these floods
Ordered the city
To ban the use of plastic bags in their vicinity
Starting this year.
BiƱan and Santa Rosa followed suit as well.

Over the two years that followed
the devastating floods,
many people have since then renovated their
houses or moved away from them and settled
in new places.

The MMDA underwent an overhaul
with its new chairman and along
with the new administration,
they are determined not to repeat their
negative performance during Ondoy.

But as Peping may wind down on us soon,
We are prepared this time
So that we will avert another disaster
From ever happening again.

Creative Commons License
Ondoy: Two Years Since It Happened by Bona Rae Villarta is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Philippines License.

Adamson just routed Ateneo 62-46 today for the Falcons’ first win over Ateneo since 1997. Why so long (29 games) even with two consecutive 0-14 records of Adamson in the early 2000’s sandwiched in between?

On the other hand, since I followed the UAAP seriously in 2007, I have never cheered for the Fighting Maroons in ANY sport. I cheer for the DLSU Green Archers (until this season), the UST Salinggawi (Cheer Dance Competition), and any team with a winning record that can beat Ateneo (i.e. the case of Adamson this year).

The last time UP won it all was in 1986, the first year DLSU was in the UAAP. It has been nearly downhill for UP since then, even during the year DLSU was suspended (2006), UP was still languishing in the cellar along with NU, who only re-emerged last year (the last time NU was in the Final Four was 2001.)

Here are my reasons why I dislike the Blue Eagles:
1. They are the arch-rivals of the Green Archers.
2. Some of their talent is overrated. (That’s why they lose, right?)

As for the Salinggawi, I started cheering for them because of their 5-peat in the CDC (2002-2006). However, they haven’t been able to return to their previous glory since then (two second-place finishes, one third-place finish, one finish not even in the top 3).

UP can be comparable to the HBCU’s* of the US NCAA. Both sets of programs don’t have enough athletics budget to stay competitive in the sports that are very popular in their respective areas (i.e. men’s basketball and women’s volleyball here, basketball and American football there). Also the alumni of both programs aren’t helping enough to support their athletic programs. However, UP remains in the top half of the general championship standings of the UAAP due to their performance in non-televised sports (e.g. football [soccer]).

What is the secret of Ateneo and La Salle’s programs? It’s the talented coaches of both, strong alumni support and the huge funding of both programs (in addition to the historical significance of their rivalry). Adamson has strong coaches who can recruit great talent, but with weak alumni support, they aren’t going to be there on top for long. šŸ˜¦

*Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Since we were in grade school, we have noticed that certain things that we used in our schooling, be it air conditioning units, basketball hoops and/or courts or even library books have the term “Donated by PTA” or “Donated by (name of person or group)”. Without such personalities, our foundational education might have not been satisfying.
But as we now study at UP, we have noticed that we do not get enough equipment or have modern facilities most private universities and colleges have. That’s where my essay, about philanthropy and how it can work best for UP, seeks to bridge the gap.

Philanthropy is the act of a person or group actively promoting efforts to promote human welfare, especially health and education, two vital sectors of a person’s development. Most universities with strong alumni ties, such as the Catholic universities here and the top-ranking universities in the world, encourage philanthropy among their alumni on a regular basis for whatever reason. However, our university hasn’t embraced philanthropy very well and even some alumni prefer to donate their hard-earned income to other causes, to their own families, or even worse, to other schools.
Despite the efforts of some alumni and economists to encourage their fellow alumni to give back, many are still stubborn to what our government is doing to our university, hence, they opt for other courses or schools instead.

The Benefits of Having a StrongĀ Philanthropic Foundation

Like what I’ve said earlier, the majority of the schools with strong philanthropic foundations are private universities, whose fiscal status is well-maintained. Ours is managed partly by the government, so it automatically isn’t.
Philanthropy brings an entity many benefits that aren’t simply possible based on the entity’s budget alone. The entity that receives such funding can do more without worrying about how to get funding for such activities or positions.
Another benefit is pride and prestige for the donor and also the entity being sponsored, which is sometimes a status symbol for the entity as the recipient of many donations for good deeds or worthy causes.
Still another benefit of having a strong philanthropic foundation is that the sources for funding some projects are stable. Even with the global recession going on, many private universities store huge amounts of money year in year out, both from tuition of currently enrolled students and donations of their alumni. Most of that money is earmarked for specific purposes, one of the caveats of philanthropy.

The State of Philanthropy in UP System

With the budget cuts affecting all government sectors, activists are actively countering the government’s efforts of decreasing amounts related to sectors dealing with the masses, however, their wishes are way too absurd and are wishful thinking at best.
However, philanthropy is sometimes the only way to keep an entity operational. Take a look at PGH. Despite the very limited budget given to it, many donations, majority of which are through the PGH’s own foundation, PCSO, alumni and faculty who also practice in private hospitals and those who now practice abroad, the pharmaceutical industry and foreign countries, help keep it afloat and still provide service to the tail-ends of our society.
However, outside of UP Diliman, where its philanthropic foundations are strong (but only in some colleges there), and UP Manila, where the very strong Medicine alumni base has been continually improving their alma mater (aside from minor improvements in the other colleges here), I haven’t heard about alumni giving back to their beloved university’s provincial campuses. That is an area of concern for activists, but sad to say, I am calling on alumni of UP Los BaƱos, UP Baguio, UP Visayas, and UP Mindanao, to give back to their alma mater once and for all to help us stay competitive not just here in our country but also the world.

In UP Manila, a strike is planned for September 22-23. I am calling on students to NOT participate in this strike and go on with their academic lives. Limited resources should not be in the way of your path to academic success. Once you graduate, try to give back every once in a while. Generations of alumni before us have simply forgotten our alma mater, change should start with us now.

Welcome to my new blog!

This is a fresh start.

As the name suggests, I will write about alternative activism and I will also post about why I am such a fan.