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Mommy Toots marks Century Milestone | The Life and Times of Ruth Tiano-Pañares, 100

June 15, 2021

On June 8, 2021,  Ruth Tiano Pañares, the only surviving sibling of the famous Tiano Brothers celebrated her 100th Birthday with family and friends. It's a pity Cagayan de Oro was under MECQ otherwise "Mommy Toots" as she fondly known by one and all,  would have been accorded the honors due to her and her siblings as Heroes not only Cagayan, but of the Philippines as well. Mommy Toots was born June 8, 1921 in Cagayan de Oro de Misamis to Emilia Bacarrisas and Leocadio Tiano. She was the fourth of eight siblings: Ronaldo, Nestor, Apollo, Uriel, Fe, Jaime, and Millie. She finished her elementary course at City Central School, High School at the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS), and college at Ateneo de Cagayan with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. The Tiano family evacuated to Lapad, Laguindingan at the outbreak of World War II, where the elder siblings actively participated in the guerrilla war against Imperial Japan. Perhaps the most remarkable Kagay-anon patriots, the Tiano siblings, for whom the Tiano Brothers street in Cagayan de Oro is named after, involved no less than six of the siblings, five males and one female, in the war versus the Japanese occupiers in World War II. The eldest, Ronaldo, was a 1st Lt. with the 7th School Squadron of the nascent Philippine Army Air Force (PAAC) Class 41-B, based at Maniquis Airfield in Cabanatuan under Lt. Benito Ebuen. He survived the Bataan Death March, but was released by the Japanese from the POW Camp in Capas, Tarlac joined the 120th Infantry Regiment under Maj. Angeles Limena as one of his staff.  After the war he joined the newly organized Philippine Air Force (PAF) but left after 18 months to join Philippine Airlines (PAL). He died in a plane crash on Jan. 24, 1950. The second eldest sibling, Sgt. Nestor, was killed in action at the young age of 24 while repelling a Japanese attack at Aglaloma Point, Bataan on Jan. 23, 1942. 2d Lt. Apollo was a platoon leader of “C” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, 108th Division based in Initao, Misamis Oriental. Although he survived World War II, he died fighting with the 19th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) defending Hill 191 (also called Arsenal Hill) and Hill Eerie, comprising Combat Outpost No. 8 at the Chorwon-Siboni corridor in the west central sector of Korea on June 20,1952, while repelling a superior force of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. The Philippine Navy’s BRP Apollo Tiano (now decommissioned) was named in his honor. Uriel was a sergeant of “A” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, 108th Division based at Pangayawan, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental, and ended the war in the Signal Corps. The youngest brother Jaime was a private first class at only 15 years of age, and served as a medical aide of the 120th Regimental Hospital with his sister 1st Lt. Fe B. Tiano (RN), who was the unit’s sole regimental nurse at the regimental hospital at Talacogon, Lugait, Misamis Oriental. As Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon relates in his unpublished manuscript, Memoirs of a Guerrilla: The Barefoot Army, “This is the story of the Tianos-brave and courageous, their battles are now part of history. While they went to war, their parents Emilia Bacarrisas and Leocadio Tiano and two sisters Ruth and Millie were left in Lapad (Alubijid, now part of Laguindingan), to stoke the home fires burning,”. “While her brothers went to war, the family tended the farm and fed soldiers who sought shelter while passing through the area,” said  Faith Wallace, Mommy Toot’s second daughter. When the war broke out, Mommy Toots married Conrado Pañares, a visiting supervisor from Cebu, whom she met while teaching  at City Central School. The couple were also members of the congregation of the Evangelical Church (now the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, UCCP).  The oldest of Mommy Toots’ Raul was born during the war, Cynthia during liberation time. Faith followed ten years later, and Earl was the youngest. Raul and Earl are now both deceased. Two endeavors have defined Mommy Toots for most of her life: Her passion for Scouting, and her Protestant Faith as a lifetime member of the congregation of the UCCP Cagayan de Oro Church. “She taught third grade at the City Central School,” Faith recalls. Upon her retirement from City Central, she accepted the offer to become the elementary school principal of the then new Cagayan Capitol College (CCC). “At the same time, she busied herself with Boy Scouting, she was also a Worthy Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star in Cagayan de Oro, and led and sang with the UCCP Chancel Choir every Sunday until her 94th birthday.” She would visit her family in the US and stay to assist in cooking for her grandchildren. While visiting, she wouldn’t miss singing by joining the choir in Faith’s church. “My most significant memories of her was when she and my mother, Luneta ( Luning) Abellanosa (who were best of friends and distinguished Cub Scoutmasters of BSP Misamis Oriental Council) motivated me to the max to strive and excel in Boy Scouting in the 60s to the 70s,” mused Emmanuel “Bong” Abellanosa, a recently retired executive with the national transmission operator. “So I became a patrol leader, then a Senior Patrol Leader, and many more leadership roles. I rose from the ranks under their tutelage, from Tenderfoot, 2nd class, First Class. Mommy Toots and my mom inspired me to work hard to get most coveted rank, that was the Jose Rizal Scout Rank, equivalent to the Eagle Scout in the US,” he recalled. “With their inspiration, I was awarded in 1970, the rank of Jose Rizal Scout, the first in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental. I know she did the same to the succeeding Jose Rizal Rank holders after my time,” Bong shared. “Mommy Toots and my Mom were both recipients of the coveted Leadership Awards of the prestigious Wood Badge Course, and were awarded the prestigious Gilwell Pins, Woodbadge Neckerchief, beads and woggle. Wood Badge is a Scouting leadership program and the related award for adult leaders in the programs of Scout associations the world over. Wood Badge courses aim to make Scouters better leaders by teaching advanced leadership skills, and by creating a bond and commitment to the Scout movement. Courses generally have a combined classroom and practical outdoors-based phase followed by a Wood Badge ticket, also known as the project phase. By "working the ticket", participants put their newly gained experience into practice to attain ticket goals aiding the Scouting movement. The first Wood Badge training was organized by Francis "Skipper" Gidney and lectured at by Robert Baden-Powell and others at Gilwell Park (United Kingdom) in September 1919. Wood Badge training has since spread across the world with international variations. On completion of the course, participants are awarded the Wood Badge beads to recognize significant achievement in leadership and direct service to young people. The pair of small wooden beads, one on each end of a leather thong (string), is worn around the neck as part of the Scout uniform. “Mommy Toots was awarded 4 Wood Beads -- 2 for completing Wood Leadership Training, 1 for volunteering/assisting during a Training Evening, and  #4 for serving as Leadership Team Member for planning and executing a National Wood Leadership Training Event,” noted Mike W. Wallace, Faith’s husband. The beads are presented together with a taupe neckerchief bearing a tartan patch of the Maclaren clan, honoring William de Bois Maclaren, who donated the £7,000 to purchase Gilwell Park in 1919, plus an additional £3,000 for improvements to the house that was on the estate. The neckerchief with the braided leather woggle (neckerchief slide) denotes the membership of the 1st Gilwell Scout Group or Gilwell Troop 1. Recipients of the Wood Badge are known as Wood Badgers or Gilwellians. “Mommy Toots was known for her excellent role in the development of boys into good citizens. Mommy Toots attended many campings, camporals, Jamborettes, National and International Jamborees in her lifetime,” Bong noted.  “She always assumed the role of a Camp Mother, whose loving and tender care to Cub and Boy Scouts has earned her the respect of thousands of Boy Scouts, whose lives were changed for the better, in organizational and spiritual leaderships.” “Another of her beautiful attributes is her devotion and commitment to our Lord God, by consistently having actively participating in countless UCCP church activities, from her young age until her early 90s, stopping only when she had mobility issues,” he added. Until now, at 100 years old, she is still smart, and alert. Her selfless commitment to the Lord is unbelievable, still singing in the Chancel Choir until the last few years. She always lives by the motto of the Boy Scout, “Be Prepared”, and slogan, “Do a good turn daily”. Once a Scouter, always a Scouter.

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Kagay-an’s Ancestral Houses and Other Heritage Structures

June 15, 2021

We are heartened that  the City Tourism Office’s series of videos online dwelling on various aspects of the city’s history and heritage for our 2021 commemoration of Cagayan de Oro City’s  Himugso Festival which had to be conducted virtually due to the city’s current MECQ status. Its first offering aired 8 June entitled “Soul of the City” focused on the city’s iconic water tower now housing the City Museum and taglined “The Oldest Public Structure in the City.” It’s nice to recall heritage structures that every Kagay-anon should know about, and another to label it as something it isn’t. Perhaps future enunciations like these emanating from city hall should be properly vetted by our City Cultural and Historical Commission (Hiscom) which has the final word on matters such as these. That’s because there are still quite a number of “public structures” (i.e., privately owned) still existing around the city which are significantly older than the old water tower. None more prominent perhaps than the main building of the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS) along Apolinar Velez Street. According to a post Heritage Structures in Cagayan de Oro, Religious and Non-Religious, Post-Spanish to Contemporary written by Antonio J. Montalvan II in the website Heritage Conservation Advocates, this public structure was inaugurated as the Escuela Provincial on Dec. 15, 1909 by American Governor General William Cameron Forbes and House Speaker Sergio Osmeña. Forbes provided the funds for its construction while the Cagayan citizens raised P9,000 as a local counterpart through Act No. 1801 (the Gabaldon Law). More on the Gabaldon School Buildings later. “History is a science that requires peer review. Once one person claims a fact and it happens to be erroneous, you can just imagine the miseducation. The City Tourism produced this video claiming the 1922 water tower (presently used as the City Museum) as "the oldest public structure" in Cagayan de Oro. It is most definitely not,” Montalvan said in a post on the social media page “Cagayan de Oro History and Heritage” dated 8 June 2021. Montalvan is a former member of the Hiscom. “Plaza Divisoria is 1901, the Misamis High School is 1909, the St. Augustine Cathedral (even if it was renovated in 1946 but the original structure is still extant beneath the cement plaster) is 1845. The City Museum should be well advised not to be a source of miseducation. Any scientist of today, as current professional praxis goes, submits one's work for peer review,” he added. Plaza Divisoria was constructed in 1901 by Tirso Neri y Roa, a rich merchant who was then municipal mayor of Cagayan de Misamis, the old name of the city. Much of the site used for the plaza was donated by Neri to the town. Within Plaza Divisoria itself is another “public structure” which definitely qualifies under the term and predates the old water tower. On June 19, 1917, the patriot Porfirio Chaves and his wife Fausta Vamenta turned over one of the earliest monuments in the country of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal which still graces the center of the plaza. The city appropriately celebrated its centennial on January 19, 2017 with the installation of two marble plaques with Bisaya ang English translations of the original Spanish inscribed in marble. There’s also the El Pueblo a sus Heroes monument also on Plaza Divisoria constructed during the tenure of Municipal Mayor Apolinar Velez sometime 1928-1932. It contains the bones of Kagay-anon Patriots killed during the Battle of Agusan Hill with American Soldiers of the I Company, 40th Infantry Regiment of the United States Volunteers. The Kagay-anon Patriots were defeated and suffered 38 fatalities including their commander, Capt. Vicente Roa. Still older than Plaza Divisoria and the Rizal Monument is the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral whose original structure  was built in 1845 by Fray Simon Loscos de Santa Catalina, an Augustinian Recollect missionary, along the Gothic style. Its walls and buttresses were made out of coral stones imported from China. According to Montalvan, some of these stones are still embedded inside the present concrete walls, and some of it were exposed and demolished when the sanctuary was recently renovated. The original structure was destroyed by the American aerial bombardment of Cagayan on October 21, 1944. Archbishop James Hayes SJ built the present structure. Inside the Cathedral are rare and priceless stained-glass windows that came from the chapel of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of New York and are the works of well-known masters. The old belfry was located on the left side and beneath it was the grave of another Spanish Recollect missionary, Fray Ramon Zueco de San Joaquin, who died in Cagayan in 1889. Just outside the porte-cochere façade is a wooden Santa Cruz erected in 1888 by the Augustinian Recollect missionaries which can again be considered another public structure. Unfortunately, this heritage structure was encased in concrete without the approval of the National Historical Cultural Commission (NHCP) as required by Republic Act No. 10066 (the National Cultural Heritage Act), which could hasten its deterioration. Still other existing public structures which predate the old water tower are the Gabaldon School Buildings at the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS), City Central School, Cugman, Agusan and Iponan. Based on the 2016 National School Building Inventory (NSBI) under the enhanced Basic Education Information System (eBEIS), a total of 2,752 Gabaldon Schoolhouses still exist in 2,304 different sites nationwide: 1,065 in Luzon; 936 in the Visayas; and 751 in Mindanao. The Gabaldon School Buildings, also referred to as the Gabaldons, originated from Act No. 1801 (the Gabaldon Law), a legislation penned by Isauro Gabaldon of the Philippine Assembly in 1907 which provided a ₱1 million fund for the construction of modern public schools across the Philippines from 1907 to 1915. The Gabaldons were built by the American colonial government with American architect, William E. Parsons as the designer of the blueprints of said buildings. A standard size of 7 by 9 meters (23 ft × 30 ft) was conceptualized by Parsons for the school buildings regardless of the number of classrooms for swift construction of public schools. According to historians, the buildings are modern in design while drawing elements from the bahay kubo and bahay na bato common in most towns at that time. The Gabaldons are raised 1.2 meters (3.9 ft) on a platform made of wood or concrete. The buildings also exhibit large windows and high ceilings for ventilation and lighting purposes. Probably the best representative of the genre, the Gabaldon building at the Iponan Elementary School was recently repaired and repainted after termites unfortunately destroyed a similar one in the school campus. Ancestral Houses The Casa del Chino Ygua at the corner of Hayes and Velez streets has often been acknowledged as the oldest residence in Cagayan de Oro. Constructed in 1882 as a “Bahay na Bato” by the Chinese merchant Sia Ygua who originally came from Xiamen, China,  the original structure was built from bricks transported from China aboard Chinese junks. The house has been renovated twice, once after World War II when it was badly damaged, and again more recently, albeit badly and far from the standards of historical preservation. New bricks, probably made in Bulua, were used to cover the old Chinese bricks. However, three other residential houses may either have predated it or were built during the same period. One is the Trinitas Roa Reyes Ancestral House along Burgos street, built in the Spanish Colonial style, also sometime during the 1800s. “This is a very historic house. It was the residence of Jose Reyes y Barrientos who was a member of the Philippine Independence Mission to the US in 1919 and who was earlier Misamis governor in 1913,” Montalvan said in his HCA Post. “In the 1930s, his wife Trinitas Roa Reyes had the house rented to Bishop James Hayes SJ after his appointment as first Bishop of Cagayan. And so the house became a temporary Bishop's Palace. Hayes installed quilted canvas on the ceilings. Today, the house is in a dilapidated state. It  has beautiful corbels and some piedra china on its sidewalk, and all the posts are large round hardwood timber topped by exposed beams with intricate carvings.” Still two other residence constructed around the same time are the Moreno-Valmores House at the corner of Aguinaldo and Yacapin Streets, built in the Post-Spanish period style; and the Gabar House at the corner of Toribio Chaves and Pabayo streets, also built in the same Post-Spanish style, and now owned by Happy and Loving Fuentes family. Lorenzo Fuentes and the late Belen Mercado Fuentes, reportedly the great grand niece of Dr. Jose Rizal, have 8 children, 15 grandchildren and 2 great grand-children. American and Commonwealth Period Of more recent vintage having been built during the American Colonial and Philippine Commonwealth Period is the Acero House along Gen. Capistrano street next to a funeral home. Constructed in 1936 by Felix Acero in the American Colonial style, it has been renovated but along lines faithful to its original design. “The house was spared from damage during World War II because Japanese military officers occupied it as an office and bedroom,” said Mrs. Gloria Acero-Delgado who now occupies the house. “Some names were written on the bedrom doors but these were erased. During the Liberation, the Mindanao Bus Co. used the first floor as an office.” Another is the Art-Deco Tamparong Building at Plaza Divisoria at the corner of Velez and Tirso Neri Streets. Although badly damaged during World War II, it was likewise rebuilt following its original design though that is hardly recognizable today with its ground floor extensively renovated by merchant firms renting it. Started 1933 by Fr James TG Hayes SJ, Superior of the Philippine Jesuit mission and first Bishop and Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Ateneo de Cagayan sprouted several buildings with high school, college and grade school established in 1940. Forced to close on December 9, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Army used the school as their regional headquarters from May 2, 1942 until the city was liberated on May 12, 1945. Meantime, an American bombing raid on October 21, 1944 reduced most buildings to rubble including the iconic Lucas Hall and Administration Buildings. Fr Andrew F Cervini SJ saw to the reconstruction of the school and it reopened in 1946 with classes held in the partially restored buildings. Other contemporary structures built during this inclusive period are the Lourdes College Main Building at the corner of Capistrano and Hayes Streets, the Archbishop’s House facing Gaston Park beside the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral built 1934-1935 but was almost completely destroyed by the American bombing of Cagayan on October 10, 1944; the Trinidad Gate of the City Central School along Velez Street  which was built in 1936; and perhaps the most famous, the Executive House of the City Hall Complex housing the Office of the City Mayor and other executive offices of the LGU Cagayan de Oro. “Inaugurated on August 26, 1940 as the new Municipal Hall of Cagayan town and became the City Hall of the new Cagayan de Oro City in 1950. The building survived World War II,” Montalvan noted. “The frontal porch is Neo-Classical for sure,” noted esteemed Architect Edwin Uy. “The rest of the facade has remnants of Colonial architecture here in the Philippines during the American Period, though it can also be traced from the Spanish Colonial times (with the original capiz windows for example) which were replaced with modern French windows later on.”  Post-World War II Two other post-war buildings of note may be considered heritage structures as they approach their three quarters of a century of existence and fall into the purview of the National Cultural Heritage Act, officially designated as Republic Act No. 10066, mandating the preservation of all historic buildings over 50 years old. Foremost among them is the Misamis Oriental Provincial Capitol built during 1948-1950 in the American Colonial style. Another would be the San Jose de Mindanao Seminary at Seminary Hill, Camaman-an, built in 1956. Probably the most massive religious architecture in Cagayan de Oro, the design of this building was patterned entirely after the Jesuit Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Manila, from wingtip to wingtip.    To prevent future slip-ups, Montalvan suggests the city undertake cultural mapping and conduct an inventory of its tangible cultural properties. “Does this also indicate that the city does not know how to perform one method that is indispensable today -- cultural mapping? If it knows its tangible cultural properties, it would not commit the mistake of saying "the oldest public structure" if it had such inventory. Obviously, there is none,” he stressed. “There should be a cultural mapping. Ideally, integrated also into the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. From this should come the LGUs annual plan on culture, arts and cultural heritage,” said Titus Velez, currently Municipal Planning and Development Officer of Gitagum, Misamis Oriental. Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año earlier exhorted LGUs to promote appreciation for their local culture and arts by creating or strengthening their local culture and arts councils. “Culture and arts are the heart and soul of our nation. They preserve our history and act as conduit to our present and future. They showcase what real Filipino talent is,” Año stressed. “Each region in the country has their own unique culture and arts that promote local tourism as well as educate their people of their heritage,” he added. According to the DILG, a Local Culture and Arts Council is to be chaired by a local chief executive with representatives of local historical societies, artist groups, business and academe, indigenous peoples, and the local representative of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). The Council prepares an annual plan on culture, arts, and cultural heritage consonant with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for Culture and the Arts integrated in the local development plan and in the annual appropriation ordinances. The Council also spearheads cultural events such as cultural festivals, competition, lectures, seminars and symposia. Moreover, the Council declares and maintains a heritage zone in their local government unit (LGU) as mandated by Republic Act No. 10066 (the National Cultural Heritage Act). The law defines ‘heritage zone’ as “historical, anthropological, archaeological, artistic geographical areas and settings that are culturally significant to the country.”  “Republic Act 10066 mandates LGUs should have a local register of cultural properties. From there, they can declare and maintain a Local Heritage zone. This will ensure the protection, preservation, conservation and promotion of local culture and historical heritage,” Velez noted. The National Cultural Heritage Act, officially designated as Republic Act No. 10066, is a Philippine law that created the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property and took other steps to preserve historic buildings that are over 50 years old. It was signed into law on March 25, 2009.

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Xavier Ateneo bids farewell to XUGS Macasandig

June 1, 2021

The Xavier Ateneo community has bid farewell to the XUGS Macasandig campus.  Tributes and prayers were offered to the past and present faculty, staff, administrators, Jesuits, parents, guardians, and pupils of the XUGS Macasandig on May 28. “For 50 years, this campus has been the home of the XU Grade School, particularly that of the Macasandig community,” said Dr Dulce Dawang, Xavier Ateneo VP for Basic Education, in her welcome remarks. “An important chapter of the XU Grade School is coming to an end,” she said, “however, there is also a whole new chapter that awaits it.” “Our track record shows that Xavier has filled us with so much confidence that we can readily take on any challenge. The GS community is indeed a great model of magis, grit, and resilience,” she added. Memories and prayers Five stations were set up around the XUGS campus, each dedicated to a particular group. “XUGS Macasandig would not have reached Level 3 PAASCU Accreditation without the dedication, commitment, and perseverance of all the teachers it had throughout its 50 years of tireless service to our young learners,”  said Nico Calunia, assistant principal for Academics and XUGS alumnus, during his sharing at the first station dedicated to the members of the faculty and staff. “As we close this campus' gates, let us remember all the memories we have shared with these grounds,” he said. “XUGS Macasandig has been a trailblazer in its time and we, the teachers and staff, will continue its legacy as we move to our new home.” XU Grade School started operations in 1941, but was transferred to Macasandig from the Corrales campus in 1970. In honor of the past and present school administrators, Teacher Hilda Gumanit recounted her experiences under different GS leaderships. “Let us not forget the wisdom and spiritual guidance of Fr Leo Pabayo SJ and all other chaplains and Jesuits who inspired us and prompted us to always find God in all things,” Gumanit said. “All these were lessons and legacies from our administrators together with their key and middle-level team, which will forever be carved in our hearts and minds.” The event also paid an homage to the Jesuits who led the XUGS Macasandig: Fr Theodore Daigler SJ (founder), Fr Jorge “George” Hofileña SJ, Fr Leo Pabayo SJ, Fr Bob Suchan, SJ and lay leaders, past principals Flerida Neri, Fatima Paepke, Emmanuel Gomez, Eva Auxilio, and their lay colleagues for the past 50 years. Messages for the pupils and parents XUGS Guidance Counselor Jenny Ugat shared at the third station her heartfelt message to the alumni and current pupils of the grade school. “As your educators and second parents, it is our joy to see our young Ateneans do spontaneous gestures of kindness, doing something good even when no one is watching or even when not being told to,” she said. “This makes us feel fulfilled that you have inhibited our culture of being men and women for others.” A thousand paper cranes with hopeful messages, submitted by pupils, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff adorned the hallways. “This may be a goodbye, but we are hoping that our children will have a better and new educational environment [in the Pueblo campus],” said Atty Johanna Lawrence Adaza, PTA President of XUGS-Macasandig. “This move is toward the better and for the good of our children,” she added.   XUGS Chaplain Fr Frank Savadera SJ gave the final blessings to the Macasandig campus. “As we travel the roads together, may the good Lord hold us always in the palm of His hands,” Fr Frank said, quoting an Irish prayer. One in mind and heart A statue of St Francis Xavier from Macasandig was transferred to XUGS Pueblo, marking the start of the consolidation of the two campuses. St Francis Xavier, the university’s patron saint, lived “a life of many transitions” as he traveled to many foreign and unfamiliar shores carrying out the mission of the Society of Jesus. A Eucharistic celebration capped the program, along with the symbolic transfer of XUGS memorabilia, such as the mace, PAASCU certificates, and trophies. “For us, consolidation is not only a physical integration of two groups of grade school communities.” Fr Mars Tan SJ, University President, said during his homily. “But more importantly, it is about being one in mind and heart as a grade school community, being inflamed by one Xavier Ateneo vision and mission, sustained by the same Ignatian values and ideals, and bonded together by the same love for our students and pupils.” The #OneXUGS project forms part of the strategic plan of the university, in line with its educational mission and vision of “becoming a leading ASEAN university forming leaders of character by 2033.” The consolidated XUGS is now integrated into the XU Basic Education Complex in Pueblo, along with the Preschool, Junior High, and Senior High School.

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Morphing Art into Fashion with Laguindingan Silk

June 1, 2021

As Cagayan de Oro transitions into MECQ status in response to a surge in covid-19 infections, one of the city’s leading artists is optimizing the time available to him as he works from home. “Five years ago, I made a customized minaudière for a good friend. I did not expect to gain attention from the fashion industry since I'm producing home accessories,” said Christopher L. Gomez, one of Cagayan de Oro’s senior Kagay-anon designer who’s a multi-disciplinary creative and advocate of Sustainable Design. “Today, I reinvent again to produce in a limited-edition, hand-painted minaudières  made of Laguindingan Silk,” Chris reveals. “ As an artist, I want my product to produce in a limited way. So there will only be 43 pieces of these made-to-order, customized fashionable pieces which are proudly made in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao.” A minaudière is a women's fashion accessory, generally considered a jewelry piece, which stands in for an evening bag. A case with compartments, it allows several items such as a makeup compact, lipstick, watch, reading glasses, or keys to be stored in a small space. Usually metal plated and oblong, sized small enough to be held within the hand, a minaudière is a dainty accessory. Gomez’s creations are textile designs with Laguindingan Silk overlaying a frame with hand painted designs. “Each piece is hand-painted and hand-crafted using traditional materials abundant in the region,” Gomez said. “The clutch is made of shell clasp thoroughly manipulated to achieve a greener tone.” According to fashion journalist Lloyd Boston, a minaudière constitutes an essential part of an evening wardrobe, a small object with no limit to its usefulness, and a fabulous character. The minaudière appeared during the 1930s. Its invention is attributed to Charles Arpels (of Van Cleef & Arpels), but many jewelers and haute couture designers have created their own models, like what Chris Gomez is doing. The word minaudière was a French term for a coquettish woman, from the word "minauder" (to flirt or simper). As a Product Development Mentor accredited by the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, and a Product Design Specialist of  Design Center Philippines (DCP), Chris has been a mentor to Kagay-anon designers eyeing to break the glass ceiling that has constrained them from attaining their full potential to breach the event horizon and define a Kagay-anon Design Paradigm instantly recognizable anywhere in the world. Among his many laurels: Finalist, 2011 National Philippine Art Awards; Grand Prize winner (water-based category) 2012 Metrobank Art & Design Excellence Awards; Finalist, 2014 Look of Style Awards (British Council/Look Magazine); and Finalist, 3rd Habi Kadayawan Design Competition held August 2019 at Davao City. As one of the spark plugs of Design de Oro, composed of graduates from two previous design workshops which aimed to build their capability through trainings with designers, Chris has sought to keep local designers updated  with trends, techniques, manipulation, up to the prices of saleable products. More recently, his design class modules were adopted by the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) One Town, One Product (OTOP) through the MODA (Modernong Obra, Desinyung Atin) Designer Manlilikha course, a virtual online program conducted September-November 2020 which graduated 125 aspiring designers all over the Philippines. Featuring eight design leaders in their respective design fields from fashion. furniture to packaging and visual merchandising, MODA Manlilikha aimed at growing the capability and creativity of regional designers. “As a program director, I want to level up the growing capacity of our designers to understand better design solutions and marketable products to be executed by our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” Chris said. “This program is supported by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, DTI Undersecretary Blessila Lantayona, and OTOP Assistant Secretary Demphna Du-Naga.” The second phase of the program will be launched in August and will start in September with design mentors from Manila, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro. “Our 125 graduates will undergo a specialized program that best suits their design interests. We are finalizing the lists of mentors because we want our young designers to be better equipped with skills and design thinking.” Not the least, as one of the most sought-after designers not only in the region but from all over the country as well, Chris considers his work as the connection between his art and his family. “My art also serves as fulcrum between a day job and my family. It connects the two in a very organic way, a sort of translation device.” “For me, design is always answering the question “is this product good for my family?”  “Having three children today has better connected me to the child I was before, fearlessly and innocently drawing in between studies, chores and games.”

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Running Organgs — the new Pinoy-made mobile game is taking the country by storm

May 23, 2021

A new fun and addicting mobile game for both Android and Apple users has come to town! If you were waiting for all of 2020 for a big vacation, you’ll surely love playing Running Organgs. The game is 100% Pinoy-made, conceptualized and developed by PurpleBug Inc., which is a local digital marketing company. Another one joining the roster of Philippines’ pride, indeed! Running Organgs is one of the most anticipated online games this 2021. The game aims to serve as not just an entertainment for people and to distract them from the setbacks brought by the COVID-19 crisis, but to also allow players to travel and recall the feeling of visiting the most famous tourist spots in the Philippines, all the while staying safe from the dangers of the COVID-19 virus. Apart from providing entertainment, the game also aims to provide education to players about self-care and health. The characters, hence, the name “Running Organgs” is inspired from the human organs. The following are the characters of the game:   • Brainstein (Brain): The one who holds the greatest understanding and wisdom among the members of the Running Organgs. His arch nemesis are illegal drugs • Amor (Heart): The fun and bubbly member of the Running Organgs. She wears her heart on her sleeve and loves to make friends. Her arch nemesis are the pictures of her ex-boyfriends. • Oliver (Liver): The cool, laid-back, and most stylish member of the Running Organgs. His arch nemesis are alcoholic beverages. • Lang-Lang and Leng-Leng (Lungs): Lang-Lang and Leng-Leng are twins. Lang-Lang is prim and proper, while Leng-Leng is a free-spirit. Their arch nemesis are cigarettes, vapes, and the COVID-19 virus. • Tammie (Stomach): The confident and bold member of the Running Organgs. She loves to eat to her heart’s content and knows how to have a good time! Her arch nemesis are poisonous substances.   As a simple platformer game, people of all ages can enjoy playing Running Organgs.. With the overall unique art style and fun characters, you will surely enjoy every passing moment with this cute gang! Watch out for updates! PurpleBug Inc. will be releasing new versions within the year with additional characters and Philippine tourist spots. So far, the game has already received positive feedback, most notably for its art style, characters, and concept. PurpleBug is a digital marketing agency in the Philippines that offers 360 degrees digital marketing solutions and online marketing services such as web design services and web development services. Aside from these web solutions, PurpleBug also caters to search engine optimization services, online advertising, social media management services, online PR media, application development services, and other digital marketing solutions for businesses. Be sure to try it out! Happy playing! Download Running Organgs through these links: Android: https://bit.ly/2W1wZr3 iOS: https://apple.co/3qGdPFj

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Security in uncertain times: Coca-Cola’s Balik Pinas program gives opportunities for returning OFWs amid pandemic

May 1, 2021

Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI), the bottling arm of Coca-Cola in the country, has committed to helping overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) via its Balik Pinas program—an initiative that provides repatriated OFWs due to COVID-19 with opportunities to start their own businesses.   Since the program’s expansion in 2020 as a direct response to the pandemic-wrought job crisis, CCBPI has received over 400 inquiries and has thus far assisted over 40 OFWs in becoming business owners who are now part of the Coca-Cola family as distributors or wholesalers.    “By providing livelihood opportunities, especially to those who suddenly found themselves without stable incomes and unable to provide for their families, Coca-Cola is staying true to its pledge to help revive the Philippine economy via job generation and to support Filipinos confronting adversities,” says Gareth McGeown, CEO and President of CCBPI.   CCBPI assists former OFWs in choosing a suitable business model for their area, helps in managing their cash flow and inventory, and sees to it that they are given proper guidance and training until they are prepared and fully equipped to operate on their own—all in all, a sustainable and profitable business founded on practical support from a global beverage brand.   The Company’s goal to assist Filipinos, and consequently revitalize the economy at such a critical time, has been steadily expanding in reach to transform more lives. Further illustrating the program’s success by bringing Coca-Cola to more communities, we follow these Balik Pinas Program pioneers wo have just rewritten the trajectories of their life stories with their inspiring journeys—Melody Carillo, Jo Mari Biara, and Glenn Dela Cerna.      Selfless motherhood rising above a reversal of fortunes   Returning OFW Melody Carillo with her daughter, proudly shows off Sam Yau Consumer Goods Wholesaling—the business she established in Brgy. Kalaisan, Kidapawan through the help of Coca-Cola’s Balik Pinas Program.   With her nine-month-old baby in tow, Melody Carillo returned to the Philippines from Hong Kong, following a series of devastations ranging from personal heartache to professional disappointment. She and her then-newborn were abandoned by the child’s father—and then the pandemic collided against the renewal of her contract as a domestic helper and nanny when her employers had to cut costs after losing their own jobs.   Melody’s story was marked by a reversal of fortunes, but she overcame her challenges with her perseverance and her strong will. Upon her unplanned homecoming in September 2020, Melody bravely confronted the need to support her small family. Her original plan to start her own business—the reason she left for Hong Kong in the first place—found footing in her hometown of Brgy. Kalaisan, Kidapawan.   Melody learned of Coca-Cola’s Balik Pinas program through Sales Associate Ariel Pocot, and the two discussed how the program could help her achieve her dream of becoming a business owner. At the tail-end of February 2021, Sum Yau Consumer Goods Wholesaling—named after Melody’s daughter—was successfully launched. In just under a month of operations, Sum Yau has bought and sold around 4,200 cases of Coca-Cola beverages.   Melody shares that she is “so happy and blessed” for having been given an opportunity to pursue a livelihood, no matter the personal obstacles she had to face. She credits the Coca-Cola South Davao Sales Team for guiding her through every step of the process, from the initial orientation to her first order and delivery, from establishing a servicing schedule to training her how to sell.     Avenues for altruistic service   Balik Pinas pioneer Jo Mari Baira with Coca-Cola Representatives led by Region Sales Manager Wendell Dayrit, in front of his store in the Municipality of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat. Joms was one of the recipients of OWWA’s Balik Bayani Award 2020.   Jo Mari Baira had been working in Saudi Arabia for nearly seven years as a payroll officer. He considers himself a passionate individual, with a big heart that was increasingly insisting on a life of service for his country—which is why Joms took the chance to return home to reunite with his family in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat and serve his local community.   A different opportunity for service, however, presented itself to Jo Mari upon his return to the Philippines through a friend who convinced him to team up with his sister to start a small business venture. According to Joms, thanks to Coca-Cola’s never-ending support, the business they started since returning home from Saudi has been fruitful since its first day of operations.   “Hindi nila [Coca-Cola] kami iniiwan, everyday open ang komunikasyon, consistent sila sa mga emails at check-ups o sa kamustahan. At natutuwa kami ngayon dahil hindi lamang nagbebenta sila sa amin pero nag-aasist sila palagi,” shares Joms. [Coca-Cola has never left us behind, communication lines were open every day, and they were consistent with their emails and with checking up on us. We’re happy that the relationship is not just based on selling; they are always present to assist us.]   Joms takes pride in the growth of their small business via the Balik Pinas program—an avenue to provide for his family and an opportunity to serve his community. He shares that he plans to expand his small business as a distributor and dealer, involve and engage the rest of the community, and serve as an inspiration to fellow OFWs.     Family at the heart of the business   Now a businessman thanks to the Balik Pinas Program, Glenn Dela Cerna gives a big thumbs up to celebrate the success of his store in Brgy Quezon, Surigao City. Glenn returned home to the Philippines after working for 15-years in Abu Dhabi. He was recognized by DOLE-OWWA during its Balik Bayani Awards 2020.   Another Balik Pinas program pioneer, Glenn Dela Cerna, spent almost 15 years as a construction worker and electrical foreman in Abu Dhabi—to provide for the needs and the welfare of his family back home in Surigao City. The pandemic, however, had him returning home and worrying about the cost of his children’s education given the loss of his long-standing livelihood.   A small business, one he can attend to in the immediate orbit of his family, was the route he took—and Glenn emerged as a businessman and wholesaler with the help of Balik Pinas. Glenn describes how helpful Coke has been, supporting him throughout the challenges of launching a business—which, in his case, involves servicing a more remote area.   “Nag start na kami at within 24 hours may na-deliver na sa amin na mga produkto. Mga 30 to 40 cases na agad, at nagbigay din sila ng cooler, stand, at lalagyan para sa products,” shares Glenn. [Within 24 hours of starting, we received the delivery of around 30 to 40 cases of Coke products. They also sent over a cooler, stands, and containers for products.]   Glenn and his family take pride in their business, particularly in building it from the ground up. Driven by his immense love for family and his determination to reach a more comfortable future, he shares that he would like to stay in the Philippines and further grow his business.      Coca-Cola standing in solidarity with Filipinos   The common thread winding their way through the stories of Balik Pinas pioneers is the drive to secure a better tomorrow for their family. This reflects Coca-Cola’s main goal for the program—to provide opportunities to Filipinos, especially those who have been severely affected by these challenging times, and help restart the local economy by providing individuals the possibility of starting their own livelihood.   According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), over 400,000 OFWs have been repatriated since January 2021. With the help of DOLE and local government units, Coca-Cola aims to reach more OFWs who are interested in starting their own business through Balik Pinas.    For referrals and more details, contact the Coca-Cola contact center at (02)-8813-COKE (2653). Spread the word to be one with the Company in helping our kababayan.

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