Sunday, June 11, 2017

La Trinidad at a glimpse

La Trinidad at a glimpse 
(Valred Olsim Eternal Student Column for SunstarBaguio June 13, 2017)

At 4 in the afternoon, we discovered from the heights the beautiful valley of Benguet, the lovely sight of which surprised us all, so that even the soldiers gave vent to their admiration by joyous shouts – Lt.Col. Guillermo Galvey,1829

During the Spanish era, the valley of La Trinidad was originally called “Valle de Benguet” from the local term “Benget,” which means the stench emitted by the mud-covered swamp area.  Its original settlers were Ibalois, who grew rice, kamoteng kahoy, sweet potatoes, gabi, and sugar cane on hillside gardens and terraces along the mountain slopes. Power and wealth were measured by one’s ownership of land and livestock. These were shared by holding the prestigious feast called “Peshit”.

For centuries, the whole Gran Cordillera went undiscovered, not until the Spaniards heard about the gold-rich Igorots trading with the lowlanders. Earliest Spanish visits by Captain Garcia de Aldana and Don Alonso M. Quirante were recorded as early as the 1620s.

Although the District of Benguet was established in La Trinidad by 1846, it was only in April 21, 1874, under Commandant Manuel Scheidnagel, that “Valle de Benguet” was renamed “Valle de La Trinidad” (La Trinidad Valley). Despite popular acceptance that it was named as “a fitting tribute to Galvey’s wife - Doña Trinidad de Galvey” – recent research has revealed that credit should have probably gone to Scheidnagel, having been inspired by the three prominent adjacent hills (in effect, forming a Trinity: a religious icon of the Christian campaign) overlooking the Poblacion church, where the seat of government, the Cabecera, was established.

After the Revolutionary period in 1900, La Trinidad grew vegetables via the Trinidad Farm School (now Benguet State University). Along with socio-economic changes, the concepts of freedom of religion, titling of lands, formal education and the democratic election of leaders were introduced. Paid labor and money became an important feature in the economic lives of the people. Such time of plenty is fondly recalled by old folks as that “time of blissful peace.”

In contrast, the Japanese occupation and World War II were turbulent times. Residents were imprisoned without formal charges and pitilessly tortured. This prompted able-bodied men to join the guerrilla movement, while their families fled for safety to the mountains.

After liberation, on June 16, 1950, La Trinidad became a regular municipality by virtue of RA No. 531.  To get back on its feet, La Trinidad went on a massive production of vegetables. For this, the municipality soon came to be widely-known as the Salad Bowl of the Philippines. And with the establishment of the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post, the valley solidified its status as Benguet’s marketing hub of highland vegetables.

Owing to the need to diversify and with the introduction of new varieties, strawberries soon became the town’s main product by 1980s. Growing acclaim for these red and luscious strawberries earned La Trinidad for itself the title “Strawberry Capital of the Philippines.”
Farmers likewise ventured into cutflower production, and by the 1990s, many barangays in La Trinidad were soon growing chrysanthemums, roses and a variety of flowers. Barangay Bahong, a major flower farming community, was named “The Rose Capital of the Philippines”.

By the turn of the century, migration and urbanization paved their way in, bringing with them a colourful tapestry of peoples not only from the nearby Cordillera and Ilocandia regions, but from all islands of the archipelago.


La Trinidad will be celebrating its 67th foundation day this Friday (June 16, 2017) at the Municipal Gym. There are many things we hope and pray for La Trinidad, our home; we passionately hope and pray for the cooperation of the community in many programs of the town, as well as dedication and wisdom for our officials to work for the common good of the community. We hope that we will all love and take care of our home, La Trinidad, for the very simple reason that…it is our home.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Millenials

About nine years ago, I was a fresh college graduate eager to take on the world. With an average grade, and the absence of advantageous connections, however, I didn’t have a choice but to be confident with my creativity and communication skills.
Thankfully, in the SLU Humanities department before; most of us, while studying, worked either as part-time English Language tutors for foreign students, or call center agents for outsourcing companies at night. Aside from our distinct approach and confidence, we were admittedly party-starters hungry for new things – information, culture, gadgets, and perhaps, experiences. They call us the "Millennials."
The Millennials, or "Y" generation, those born from 1980s to year 2000, and majorly shaped by technology; from the advent of Walkman, MTV, the popularity of video games, to the rise of the new media and smart phones, is seen to have the tendency to be impatient, self-absorbed and vain. As the link to the old school and new school, they were often misunderstood.
No thanks to social media, they were exposed to a culture where self-worth is measured by the number of "likes," and information gathering is affected by the unstable environment of alternative facts and fake news. Throw in the pop culture of YOLO (You Live Only Once), and DIYs (Do It Yourself) challenged by the existing age-old traditions and systems in the government, school, and work places, and we have a bunch of confused and exhausted generation (or maybe I’m just talking about myself).
Despite this however, most from my generation are bold people; leaving sleepy towns for the hurly-burly and fast-paced energy of Metro Manila, or going abroad in search for remunerative jobs, or even bravely contending for executive, or official positions at home never mind the tradition of seniority, or politics. They have the willingness to face challenges – a quality instilled by their hardworking Generation X parents, and that brashness of trailblazers like Mark Zuckerberg, the millennial who flipped the world. As such, they believed that they can fairly call themselves the Generation next.
It is too early to tell how my generation would place in the history of the world. Nevertheless, just like the generations before ours, there are also many great challenges that we are bound to face – from the rising costs of assets, the need to conform to trends to be accepted, urban decay, environmental degradation, the judgmental social media society, up to waiting for the "One Piece" comic to end. The world today is different from the world before. But, if all generations regard themselves as the best, then perhaps we can also comfort ourselves that we can be great ourselves.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Apayao: the last Nature Frontier of the Cordilleras

When you've been to the majestic Benguet mountains like Ulap or Pulag, or at the caves and nature wonders of Mt. Province like Bauko and Sagada, or at Kalinga's nature adventures and cultural immersions, or to the Ifugao wonders of the world, what is there left to do? Go further north to the last nature frontier of the Cordilleras: Apayao! Here are some pics of the day tour:

Dupag Rock Formations at Marag (which has sharper rocks compared to our Mt. Kalugong
Also in Marag is the Manacota underground river adventure

For more info please click here : Apayao Transport and Accomodations

Friday, December 2, 2016

Random Sights and Scenes from Travels (Visit PH)

On the bus and plane windows, I often think of how lucky I am to have been given many opportunities to roam around the country and learn - see the country's beautiful and ugly sides, talk to people from their own lenses...and contemplate on how interesting life is. They say pictures speak a thousand words,so, here are Random snapshots from my Philippine travels:
Mt. Kalawitan view from Mt. Tinmakudo, Mt. Province
Buscalan Village of Apo Whang-od, Tinglayan, Kalinga
Luna, La Union
Sasa Port, Davao City

Tuba, Benguet
Balibago, Pampanga

Fontana, Clark 
Pasay City, Metro Manila

Mt. Cabuyao, Benguet
Tabuk City, Kalinga
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Heroes Hills, Quezon City

Alaminos, Pangasinan

Espana, Manila
Bat Cave, Samal City
Bacnotan, La Union
Lussok, Apayao
to Cagayan valley
Bangui, Ilocos Norte
The blue lagoon of Ilocos
Siburan, Mindoro

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tourism Security and Safety Conference in Davao City

SMX, Lanang, Davao City (August 23-25, 2016)

1.       Establishing Security and Emergency Response Department
2.      International Terrorism
3.      Landmark cases on Tourism Security
4.      Hotel and Travel: Inseparable with Tourism
5.      Linking HR and Security and Safety Risks
6.      Events: Security Preparedness
7.      Policies in Tourism Security
8.      National Tourism Situationer

Day 1: National Tourism Situationer and the Tourism Systems as a whole

“We look at our structures (including own buildings) as a tourism spot - airlines not as aviation centers but as an attraction…security guards as tourism officers” explained Mr. Sigfried Mison, the guest speaker of our convention. Mr. Mison further explained that; in a system where we have a government that do not understand tourism, and tourism people who do not understand the government, the marriage between their orientation and thinking is the only way to make sure that tourism will thrive.

 The tourism industry, which involves many aspects, contributes to ten per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product. In the Philippines, it is responsible for 8.2% of our GDP and it involves one out of eleven people in the entire country. It is a people’s business. As such, there is a need to protect the industry from external and internal factors; terrorism, criminality, under-investment on businesses’ security, health risks, and other threats.
“Speak well about our Country” encouraged Ambassador Marciano Paynor, who hinted that Filipinos are the first to speak against our tourism marketing and promotions. “When we speak bad things about our country, we most likely deprive economic opportunities for our people..” he explained.

Day 2: Tourism Security and Safety (Special Topic: Event’s Safety)

In the present National Tourism Situationer, the Philippines ranked 128th out of 141 countries as to tourism safety and security. The indicators include reliability of tourism services, peace and order, and the state of stability and well-being of the receiving community. This begs the question:"Is our home safe for visitors?". All speakers highlighted that even without marketing and promotions, "Safety sells in tourism". This means that visitors, in addition to feeling a sense of community, must also have a sense of comfort and safety. This, without a question, involves the effort of all. As exhibit "A". the conveners presented the Davao Public Safety Center set-up (including the 911 system), and other systems used by tourism stakeholders to promote a culture of safety for tourists. 


In Tourism Security Operations, they classify the asset as either “natural attraction” or “man-made attraction”. Because “natural attractions” can easily be secured, the speaker focused on man-made attractions, which includes the ever popular “Special Events”.

Important definitions: 

  1. Situation • a condition or combination of conditions that exist at a particular time
  2. Security Situation • is a situation that is or may be potentially a security threat event or incident
  3. Security • the state of being free from danger or threat
  4. Incident • a security event or occurrence
  5. Emergency • a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action (potential for loss of life or great damage)
  6. Disaster • a sudden event, such as an accident or a natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life
 Special Events under “Events Tourism” includes Festivals, Parties, Conferences, Summits, Exhibitions, Fairs, Meetings, Games and Sports, Religious activities and other events which draws people. These involve high-level of operations since they come with many risks and threats. Although such events only last for a short duration, they nevertheless involve long and careful planning.

Special Events management must always ensure effective preparation. That is why organizers should always consider the following areas: Administration, Design, Marketing, Operations, and Risk management (ADMOR).

Events are planned disasters that is why there should be “Command Centers” to monitor the whole activity, and Security Plans. Events and Tourism Security all comes with a cost (for peace of mind). We should weigh public safety versus public sentiment. In the end, lives are more important than criticism.

The third Day of the Conference is a city tour where I got the impression that the best security multiplier is a town with a sense of community. People who look after their own neighborhood is an effective deterrent to criminality and other threats to tourism.

Daghang Salamat Davao!

(A week after the Security and Safety Conference, a terrorist bombing happened there days ago. It  was unbelievable in so many levels - like a foreshadowing of a future event. But that is what terrorists do, they strike the heart of the current efforts of security and safety. Let us be vigilant and unite against people who are bent on destroying our country and all the lives in it.)