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Special Report: Communicating Water

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(This blog post won first place in the 2018 Mega Cebu Investigative Report Competition for Blog Category.)
CEBU, Philippines - A family of five living on a highland in Lahug, Cebu City in Cebu, Philippines waits for the late evening to come to store water. They understand that because of the elevated land, water flow is challenging and water only arrives when neighboring businesses (a laundry shop, a water refilling station, a fast food restaurant, and several eateries) below, by the busy main road, close after dinnertime. This family store water in three barrels, which could last them two days of drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing the dishes. The difficulty happens when there is no water available at all. In the past week, there was nothing to store for three nights in a row. At the time, in the absence of notice of water interruptions from public utility firmMetropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), the mother, Nene, had decided to wait. If, on the fourth night, there would still …

#readPhilippines: Love in the Cornhusks by Aida L. Rivera-Ford

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Love in the Cornhusks written by Aida L. Rivera-Ford is, for me, one of those many short stories that is open to one’s own interpretation as long as it is placed within the context of the period the story operates in. Many events happen in the life of Tinang, our protagonist, which could be a nickname of some sort. She is formerly a maid, now married to a man with property, and a mother to a sensitive baby and a little one on the way. Many metaphors may be at play in the story, depending on how you interpret it. For example, a cornhusk is the natural wrapping of a grown corn. When unwrapped, it reveals a scrumptious-looking edible grain. It could refer to Tinang who, without the trappings of first love, is a strong mother with a life entirely different, if not difficult, from her life as a maid. It could also refer to when an unsolicited love letter addressed to Tinang fell among the cornhusks, a pile of waste, in the woman’s attempt to save her baby from a little green snake, which, i…

#readPhilippines: The Distance to Andromeda by Gregorio C. Brillantes

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The Distance to Andromeda, a short story written by one of Philippine’s illustrious writers Gregorio C. Brillantes, is a straightforward reminder that there is a world bigger than ourselves. It questions the scale of our existence in relation to the vastness of the dimensions of worlds beyond the Earth’s spheres, beyond what we know and/or see. It prompts the question, “How far are we to the Andromeda?,” referring to the spiral galaxy nearest to the Milky Way, which is approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth, or to the constellation of Andromeda, one of the 88 modern constellations. The short story is portrayed by a boy named Ben and set in Tarlac, a landlocked province in Central Luzon region of the Philippines, where the story’s writer is a native of. With his friend Pepe, Ben watches a movie about a spaceship flying through scenes that sound like the Apocalypse. To Ben, the fictional tableau was too fantastic to believe or for it to actually exist. Yet the movie made him fe…

#TBR2019RBR: A Book Reading Challenge

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I am looking forward to 2019 with refreshed enthusiasm over reading. To manifest this, I decided to join the2019 TBR Pile Challenge hosted byRoof Beam Reader. I have not participated in any reading or blogging challenges for three years or so. But I have been reading books, at least one work a month, and it would be a shame not to share what I think about them, especially whenone of the goals of this particular virtual space is to encourage the magical experience of reading.
My background and current interests are strongly reflected by the books I selected for this challenge. They are all nonfiction, and their topics encompass history, culture, heritage, journalism, and current events. Four of them are about experiences outside my country, Philippines, one covers Asia, and the rest (nine) are by Filipino writers speaking their creative minds or displaying their critical line of thinking on matters both old and current.

Here is my #TBR2019RBR list:
1. Afro-Asia in Upheaval: A Memoir of Fr…

Special Feature: Save Me a River

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Many ancient civilizations thrived in abundance beside rivers. The fertile fields of the Nile River formed the civilization that paved the way to Egypt and its neighboring colonies. The Yellow River or Huang He in China united tribes that were heavily engaged in agriculture. Settlements sprouted along the Indus River in Pakistan. Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, was also home to flourishing cultures in ancient Iraq. These civilizations shared common denominators. The river to them is a source of food, the spring for their agriculture, their filter that refreshes their land, and their channel for trade, cultural exchange, and communication. The rivers essentially cultivated their growth from separate clans into large powerful domains. This is how rivers are. They carry an essential role in the continuous development and progress of civilizations and naturally integrate themselves into daily human activities. Botan In Cebu, one of its many precious ri…