Saving Arroceros Forest Park

Manila City government is planning to destroy its last park.

We might soon lose the Arroceros Forest Park, also known as the “last lung” of Manila, as the local government plans to transform this green respite into a commercial space. Again.

“Arroceros Forest Park is under threat again (nasty developers),” bewailed Chiqui Mabanta, entrepreneur and president of environmental group Winner Foundation on a Facebook post.

Arroceros is the last remaining forest park in the capital city of the Philippines. It’s the home to 61 different tree varieties, 8,000 ornamental plants, and 10 different bird species. And it seems like we’re funding the killing of the provider of fresh air to the overcrowded concrete jungle and securing our ranking on the most polluted cities in the world (we’re 17th out of 269 cities surveyed).

Aside from its lush greenery, it also carries historical and archaeological value. It became a trading post in the 16th and 17th centuries, where Filipino dealers bartered with Malay and Chinese traders. It was also the site of the historic Fabrica de Tabacos in the 19th century and a military barracks during the American era. This 2.2-hectare park beside the Metropolitan Theater and its biodiversity has been through a lot. Around 10 months ago, the city government dumped impounded vehicles there. They also had a plan to put up a gymnasium there.

Now, Mabanta is looking for people — registered voters from the City of Manila in particular — to sign a petition to create an ordinance protecting Arroceros with them. It is pursuant to Republic Act No. 5752 or the Local Autonomy Act, which mandates cities to “exert efforts to establish, develop and maintain a permanent forest, tree parks or watershed within public land owned by such municipality or city.”

“[We’re] hoping for 1,000 signatures to bring it up to the city level (50 signatures only take this to barangay level),” she wrote.

Help us in preserving this forest park. Sign the petition HERE.

Read the complete article HERE.

Whang-od Receives The Dangal Ng Haraya Award 2018

For the first time, a traditional tattoo artist has received the Dangal ng Haraya Award from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

The NCCA, led by Chairman Virgilio S. Almario, National Artist for Literature, awarded Maria 'Whang-od" Oggay of the Butbut Tribe in Kalinga, her Dangal ng Haraya award. She received the award on June 2018 through a conferment ceremony in Buscalan, Kalinga.


Apo Whang-od’s work and influence earned her the Dangal ng Haraya Award 2018 for Intangible Cultural Heritage. 

According to the NCCA, the Dangal ng Haraya is given to living Filipino artists, cultural workers and historians; artistic or cultural groups, historical societies, institutions, foundations and councils, to recognize their outstanding achievements in relevant fields that have made an impact and significant contribution to Philippine culture and arts.

It is noted that this is in accordance with the NCCA mandate to extend recognition through awards, grants and services to artists and cultural groups, which contribute significantly to the cultural legacy of the Filipinos.

Through this award, the NCCA seeks to uphold excellence in all artistic and cultural endeavors, encourage initiative and participation among groups and individuals, and recognize exemplary cultural programs that can serve as valuable examples to others.

Also, I've started a petition online to declare Apo Whang-od as one of our National Living Treasures. You can sign the petition HERE.

To become a National Artist, one must be an “inhabitant of an indigenous/traditional cultural community anywhere in the Philippines that has preserved indigenous customs, beliefs, rituals and traditions and/or has synchronized whatever external elements that have influenced it.”

The nominee must also practice a folk art tradition that has been in existence and documented for at least 50 years, and must have consistently produced “works of superior and distinctive quality” for a significant period. At the same time, they must also have an established reputation in the art as master, and must pass on their skill to other members of the community.

If Apo Whang-od is declared a National Artist, she will be given a golden medallion, a grant of Php 100,000, and a monthly stipend of Php 10,000. She will also be given medical care and hospitalization benefits, as well as funeral assistance.