Circus brings hope to victims of abuse

LUKSO with blk header

Lukso,   a Filipino word meaning to jump or to leap—is what  the young girls of Cameleon association ,who are victims of sexual abuse , are doing to overcome trauma and move forward with their lives. Learning circus through the help of ENACR (Ecole National des Arts du Cirque de Rosny-sous-Bois ), a French circus school, has become a therapeutic tool for them. It has helped them overcome nightmares and fears and boost their self-confidence. They may have suffered bad falls in real life, but with circus and Cameleon, they know that something or someone will catch them if they fall.

And with “Lukso! Cirque de la vie,” these girls will take another leap and celebrate life. They will be perfoming with KC Concepcion, Godmother of Cameleon Philippines since 2007, Mikelangelo Loconte, Italian singer, author and composer and Sabrina Ouazani,  national film awardee for best actress in 2005.   Proceeds from the “healing circus” will help Cameleon  in the in house rehabilitation of 50 sexually abused girls, after care rehabilitation of 50 reintegrated girls, community development, and in their advocacy to promote children’s rights.

Lukso! Cirque de la vie will happen on May 14, 2015 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila. For more details you may check the Facebook page of Cameleon Philippines at


Turtle photo-bomber!

Pawi the turtle photobomber

We were posing for a group photo at Apo Island when this sea turtle surfaced to breathe and photo-bombed! This shallow area in Apo Island, Negros Oriental, Philippines is a feeding ground for sea turtles. Just like what my friend Genesis said, this is a reminder that humans and creatures like this gentle pawikan can co-exist.

Did you know that?

Green sea turtles are “endangered” and it is illegal to collect, harm, or kill them.

Apo Island in the Philippines is one of the world’s best known community-managed Marine Protected Area.

Happy Earth Day 2015!

Swimming with sea turtles of Pandan

Sea turles gently foraging on seagrass, seemingly unafraid– I’ve been to Pandan Island in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, Philippines thrice already, and this is a sure to see.


Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are named because of the greenish color of their fats. They’re herbivores and feed on seagrass!


They are endangered because of the threats of harvesting their eggs, hunting and loss of their nesting beach sites.DCIM100GOPROThese turtles are resident to Pandan Island. The island being a marine protected area allow the turtles to live “safely” in the area.

Say Hello to Kitty Meowseum!

The world got mind blown when Sanrio said that Hello Kitty is not a cat. “She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature.”  Yes, Hello Kitty’s expressionless mug which started on a coin purse in in Japan in 1974 is now part of the global popular culture and she has been featured on countless toys, sculpture, underwear, a song by Avril Lavigne and dress worn by Lady Gaga and a lot more.

“Hello Kitty works and is successful partly because of the blankness of her design,”  Christine Yano, author of  “Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific,” says. “People see the possibility of a range of expressions. You can give her a guitar, you can put her on stage, you can portray her as is.”

And imagine walking into a room filled with Hello Kitties of all sort blankly staring at you. Thanks to Anna Karina Lopez-Tan for inviting us into her Hello Kitty Meowseum 😉



Hello Kitty Meowseum

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Project Imi: Giving smiles to the kids of Batad Rice Terraces

December 2012

Rain-drenched, hiking stick on one hand, some goods on the other, and backpacks covered in improvised plastic raincoat, we trekked from the Saddle Point down the muddy mountain ridge. The night before, the seven of us were able to fill a jeepney with more than 10 boxes of food, sanitary supplies, gifts and books (plus one whole set of encyclopedia), transported them overnight via a commuter bus from Manila to Banaue, Ifugao , then another jeepney through a rough, muddy, winding road and then carried them by hand. Good thing some local mothers and kids helped us. GE DIGITAL CAMERA


At a bend in the trail, the clouds the same level with us in the horizon, the picturesque amphitheater of the Batad Rice Terraces greeted us.

We were originally planning for a highschool friends get together Christmas party, when we thought of making it something more special. The idea of doing an outreach popped up. And after a few days of planning and soliciting funds, goods and support, we found our way into one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Outreach


We were still preparing, but the kids were already excited, playing while eagerly waiting for us..


Wrapping the toys!


Shopping for the family package: bihon, sugar, coffee, sardines, soy sauce, vinegar, juice, cheese spread, TINAPA, salt and soap.


We personally prepared and cooked the food. Our menu: spaghetti, hotdogs, sandwich, and fruit salad & chocolate drink, typical for a kids party but not so typical in this remote area.


Games! Longest line. Photo by Rula


We also donated books for their library.


What was so touching was when the kids themselves presented songs and thanked us. We called the outreach Project Imi, from the Ifugao work to smile. Indeed, what was so rewarding was to see the smiles in the children’s faces.

Thanks to our generous friends and sponsors, Unilever and Magnolia, we were able to hold a party for more than 60 Batad kids. Thanks to Teacher Cathy and the parents who helped us. To Ka Rene for providing the contacts and to Mang Ramon of Ramon’s homestay. GE DIGITAL CAMERA GE DIGITAL CAMERA

This year, I’m going back to Banaue to another Igorot community in Ducligan. I invite you to give smiles and help us with our Project Lingap 😉 project lingap1

D’Bone Collector Museum, Davao: Preserving the dead to conserve the living


monkey, tarsier and python





It’s like a trip to the zoo, but instead of seeing them in the flesh, all of them are in the bones, preserved and mounted. From domestic dogs, cats, cows & horses to wild monkeys, hornbills, snakes & crocodiles, to sea creatures like turtles, fish, dolphins & whales, the D’ Bone Collector Museum features a collection of more than 200 skeletons. These animals are showcased in different themed environments like plains, tropical forests, shallow seas and coral reefs. The bones mostly came from the collections of Darrell Blatchley, an American who has a Filipino heart, who had been collecting them since he was young. Some were donated.


different skulls




jaw of a 41-foot sperm whale

What’s interesting are the stories behind each skeleton, like a racing horse that was dug up from its grave, many animals that died due to diseases, or several dolphins and whales that got beached and died. “Deaf ears” a pygmy killer whale was found with ruptured eardrums, most likely due to dynamite fishing. “Sad” a spotted dolphin got stranded with its calf “Happy”.  “Sad” died of dehydration and starvation, but “Happy” survived and was later fetched by his pod of dolphins.  Many of the dolphins and whales were found with plastic bottles and caps in their gut.


cause of death: plastic bottle blocking intestines


fetus died with its mother

Aside from preserving the dead specimens, the museum actively engages in conservation through education and rescue of animals. They plan to conduct workshops and also engage with government agencies like BFAR and the National Museum.  It’s actually not just a fancy collection; it helps raise awareness for environmental protection.

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We are all Asians, one family. We do not want World War 3.

I asked, “From a former president’s point of view, how do we move on with the goals of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia) and BIMP (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines) , given the growing political , territorial conflicts in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea?”


Former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos, called me in front, we took a selfie in front of media men, and asked me to repeat my question.

“We are all Asians,” he said. “One family. Ordinary Chinese people, the Filipino people, the Indonesians, Malaysians and the rest of Southeast Asians do not want World War III to happen.” He proposed to world leaders to stop their arms buildup but instead set up a common task force for enforcement of the law, safe and open navigation, search and rescue, and preparation for natural disasters. He said that the world’s problems now are poverty, terrorism, epidemic diseases, and climate change. “If we live together, as long as we don’t want war, this world will be a beautiful place to live in, even in the next generations.”

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He looked at me and asked, “Nagbabasa ka ba ng Biblia? Nandoon lahat yun, (from) Genesis, the first book (to) Revelations, the last book. Pag-aralan mo sinabi ko.”  (Do you read the Bible? It’s all there, from Genesis to Revelations. Study what I said).

This was during the 2nd BIMP- & IMT-GT Business Leaders’ Conference, October 23, 2014 at Davao City organized by the Mindanao Development Authority. For details check