Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Journal of Dreams: A prologue

(My First blog Entry for 2021 about my dreams and a possible prologue of a dream examination series - Valred Olsim)

Growing up, I dream in my sleep a lot - the dreams are vivid, very real that they have profound effect in my waking life. Nevertheless, I learned to shrug them off because I thought that they are common experience for people.

My view on dreams changed after my father died. After we buried him in Montanosa and we were about to drive home to La Trinity, I took an afternoon nap in his bed at their old family house. In my dream, he was assisting all of us in a convoy telling us that we can all go home, that it is now okay to go home. I was calling him to join us but he just stared at us. Then I woke up drenched in tears shouting “Papa!”. I dreamed of him frequently since then – the scenes were always about riding in a vehicle together, or touring around…the destinations were always unclear, hazy. Yet, these dreams have given me comfort in my grieving moments.

The experience made me value dreams better. Hence, I started paying more attention to what my dreams mean, not necessarily as indicators of the future or as a paranormal phenomena, but of how my subconscious work, or how my internal turmoil plays in my being. Perhaps one of the example is my common dream of floating, or not arriving in a specific destination, which probably meant that I feel that my hopes of accomplishing my dreams are put on hold, or the feeling of unresolved goals. In recognizing these deep emotions, I can spot the source of my frustrations and stresses.

However, although I consider myself a logical person, I cannot help but be amazed on how dreams tend to serve as a warning to future happenings. For instance, prior to receiving the news of one of my life’s biggest failures, I already dreamed of being bitten by a snake. The fear it brought, and the huge feeling of loss actually happened. They say it is a difficult spiritual experience that we need to experience in order to grow. Whether it is a warning for an impending failure, or a subconscious scream of opening my eyes to my misguided confidence, dreams have become as much as a reality that my real waking life.

Last night, after a day that puts me in one of my career’s biggest challenge that involved being singled-out in a charge, I dreamed of joining (or being forced?) in a bicycle race. In my dream, I hesitated at first, telling the participants that I have not trained for the strenuous physical activity. Then, I went along with it for the experience, not expecting anything. Then, a steep hill climb which required carrying bicycles in a muddy uphill trail happened. With that, I somehow caught up with the rest of them who are more than 30 participants.

On my way to the top where I breezed through most of them for some reason, I was congratulated by faceless organizers telling me that I won 7th place. Although I didn’t win the top three ranks, I felt that I won because compared to them, I was just an occasional biker where they are real racers (Plus, the number 7 which is my favorite number, is a symbol of triumph). As a bonus, the dream showed that people paid attention to me and expressed their fondness of me. Number 7 also meant that one has spiritually matured after a long span of learning cycle.  

Whether this dream is a reflection or message of what is in store for me, or an expression of my confidence of my life quote that “whatever happens, we will not only survive but we will win”, I will take this dream anytime especially in our preset challenging situations.

A dreams can become reality, and reality can become a dream...

Friday, April 10, 2020

Destined Benguet Officials against Crisis?

An elder suggested that by some destiny or some weird design, an elected Governor in Benguet will always have to face a great crisis that is very close to his/her heart or being, example:

1. Former Governor Nestor Fongwan , from Barangay Puguis, La Trinidad had to confront the deadliest landslide brought by Typhoon Pepeng in 2009 near his own backyard out of all places at (Little Kibungan village), Puguis, La Trinidad, which claimed about 200 of his constituents.

2. Former Gov. Crescencio Pacalso also had to do the same: respond to a very tragic landslide two years ago brought by Typhoon Ompong, in his very own hometown in Itogon, which also claimed close to a hundred lives.

3. Our present governor,  Gov. Melchor Diclas, a medical doctor, has to face this global "Public Health Crisis" (Covid19 Situation) which is a challenge related to his area of inclination --a Doctor-Governor in a Heath Emergency.

Despite said challenging crisis, it seems that there will always be glimmers of hope in Benguet: that the 'Right People' seem to be in the 'Right Place, at the Right Time'. 

This coincidence may be comforting for some, but frightening for others. Anyway, let us all pray for our beloved province!

"This is Benguet rose of the northern mountains,
May God keep her safe and forever free.
Land of the brave where no evil foot could wander,
Home of the free where brotherhood is sown.
Hail to thee! Province of Benguet…my own!"

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Fixing the Broken Windows

Fixing the Broken Windows
Valred Olsim – The Eternal Student
The solutions to our society’s ills are right under our noses but we tend to look far, even up to the moon for answers. What if, the answer to criminality and chaos is simple cleanliness? What if maintaining order only requires the fixing of ‘broken windows’?
The broken windows theory, credited for New York’s crime rate decline in the 1990s, is a criminological theory that states that visible signs of crimeanti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages more crime and disorder, including serious crimes. That, addressing these through persistent cleaning and maintenance of public spaces will deter said tendencies and ultimately promote order and community development. Academics James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling first introduced the broken windows theory in an article entitled "Broken Windows", for The Atlantic Monthly.  The title comes from the following example: “Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a pavement. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.”
A disorderly and chaotic area represents mismanagement and inefficiency, and on the part of the people, disobedience and lawlessness. That is why Mayor Isko of Manila made it a point to clean the streets first before any other business of the day, or why many politicians pride themselves of their clean and orderly places, or why Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew made no apologies in penalizing litterers, or why Japan is the progressive Japan that it is, or why “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Obviously, the way our place looks reflects the people that we are. Simple disorder creates more disorder, simple trash invites more trash.
This philosophy ultimately produces a noble repercussion to its citizens and the place as a whole – the community becomes invested in the orderly place and will help in protecting and preserving it. The idea will inspire community policing, and ultimately, community development and pride of place.
Cleaning is not just cleaning. Fixing windows is not just fixing. It is the answer that we sometimes underestimate, the solution that we refuse to accept.

The VolunTourism Organization is still accepting volunteers not only for tourism, but for all community development works. Interested individuals and groups may visit us at the La Trinidad Tourism Office to register and schedule activities or volunteer works. They may also contact us at 09294619617 or through email at valredsmail@yahoo.com. Our organization also wish to express our heartfelt to our tireless volunteers who sacrifice even a couple of hours for the community. Salamat! Iyaman! Thank you!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Benguet Association of Tourism Officers (BATO)


The Benguet Association of Tourism Officers (BATO) has turned over a new leaf with the election (or appointment) of its new officials last week (yes, this is not the ‘bato’ that gets you executed these days). The organization wishes the best in life for Engr. Nicomides Caliguing the association’s outgoing president, who held the position for seven bountiful years. We also wish the same for Ma’am Claire Prudencio, the Benguet Tourism Officer head and pioneer who has also retired recently this year. They say that the most awaited adventures of ‘apo-stolic’ duties are much more interesting than the world of travel and tourism.

Since the other twelve Municipal Tourism Action Officers conspired to get me into such trouble (or maybe just to compel me to attend the regular meetings, hehe), I don’t really much have choice but to accept the responsibilities of heading the association after the outgoing officials. As the youngest among the Benguet tourism and cultural workers, I acknowledge that my abilities and knowledge are way too limited for such obligations. But since my fellow tourism workers believed in me, it would only be just and proper to believe in myself too. I thank them with a humble appeal for them to work with me, guide me, and even admonish me should I stray away from our goals.

Benguet agri-products ffind their way to the capital trading post
Our first organizational meeting as new officers explored our status as an organization, our direction, and our future activities, which includes our participation on the upcoming Benguet Adivay celebrations of 2018. As an additional activity, we proposed for a Benguet Tourism Conference (which I suspect to be a first) that will gather tourism workers and stakeholders in the whole province.  As the first order of business in our care, we intend to make the community know about our organization that mainly serves as a tourism partner of the Benguet Provincial Government and its Municipalities. This includes conferences, seminars, and tourism-orientation activities since tourism can be a tool for environmental protection, culture and heritage preservation, and community development.
I write this article from the beautiful queen city of the south where tourism is flourishing to a very swift extent. ‘Suroy-suroy sa Sugbo’ (Going around Cebu), their gems or attractions traditionally employs the best tourism elements in the country – great tourism products and natural resources, the rich sea and its beautiful shores, culture and heritage, innovations, and substantial tourism investments. It has that unique beauty of its own that attracts foreign and local visitors alike – that unique inviting town soul which makes travelers stop with awe and admiration.

Just how quickly the summer days have passed, we will soon feel that familiar air of September – the memories and longing through the years etched in the lines around our eyes from both laughter and tears. And, like most of the young romances which are born only to fade away, we try to shy away from the convenient numbness in attempt to start feeling again. The future, albeit scary, is always fascinating.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

La Trinidad History Conference

An event is truly successful when it inspires a future action. Hence, the 1st La Trinidad History Conference has succeeded in rousing appreciation and interest in La Trinidad’s and whole Benguet’s History and Heritage. The event not only saw renewed passion for local human stories, it also enthused our decision-makers and officials to give their active and positive support on future historical researches / write shops, and programs for the preservation of heritage, including the needed institutional support.

 The activity, which was organized by the Tourism Development Services of the Local Government and in celebration of the National Heritage month, is also a prelude to La Trinidad’s 68th Foundation Day celebrations on June 16, 2018. While economic programs and regular services nourish the physical aspect of a town, appreciation for arts, culture, and heritage nourishes its soul. A town which does not have a “story to tell” is a lifeless town.

What I learned from our main Speaker, former NCIP-Commissioner chairperson and co-author of the book “A People’s History of Benguet”, Ma’am Zenaida Brigida Hamada-Pawid, is the term “composite history” – where researchers compile the different versions of stories, since all of them are still genuine stories of the past. Hence, Barangay Pico’s origin “Piho” or the native term for the small houses, and the other version, “Piko” for the agricultural tool, can be placed together to co-exist in one story book. Same with Buyagan’s, “Buya-an” (a place for spectators), or the other version’s “Boyagan”, or the name of the hunter which was devoured by a huge snake in that area as narrated by our IPMR, Pendon Thompson. And of course, the origin of the name La Trinidad; some say it was inspired by the “three prominent hills” (overlooking Poblacion where the seat of Cabecera was established), and others maintain the older version that it was a namesake of Donya Trinidad (allegedly the wife of Spanish soldier Guillermo Galvey).

The Conference reminded the participants one important thing, that La Trinidad (even before Baguio City as an American city) was the recognized “Cabecera” – a center that attracted people, and where even animals gathered to drink in its lake’s clear waters (Laguna de Benguet) hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago. It was the capital in administrating a large part of the Cordilleras during the Spanish period, even before its present role as the capital of Benguet Province. It was a prominent town and has been a subject of flattering stories where conquistadors describe as, “a very large town situated in a broad and fertile valley the inhabitants of which were very rich and brave people….” (Espedicion al Valle de Benguet en Enero del año de 1829).

Since the past generally affects the events and courses of action for the future, what does our history tell us? Perhaps, La Trinidad should stop thinking that it is only a second-rate Cordillera town after Baguio City. That its residents should drill in their consciousness to have stake on all issues involving the place as their own home, and contribute to its betterment. That perhaps, La Trinidad should strive to become the best town, not only in the Cordilleras, but the whole country.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Valentines in the Valley 2018

Valentines in the Valley

February 14 is my birthday, not Valentine’s day. When some people have already buried Feb. 14 in their calendars to oblivion, I am (un)fortunately mandated by my own being to celebrate the same. The fact is, my name came from ‘Val’entines day, which further added ‘Red’ to (intentionally) highlight the color of the heart. “Adu la angot!” expressed my unmarried friend whose name is “Mary”.

The Valentine season as they say is a time of victors and victims for those who volunteer and vie for the cupid’s arrow. Depending on who you ask; it is either a valuable volition, or a virulent vexation, usually a failure to honor a verbose vow, or simply a violation from the romantic villain. For the veterans of the game who have endured such vicissitudes of fate brought by said valentine madness, it is just another vacant day not in vain. Since, as “V” said: “the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous”.

Obviously, such fad is economic more than cultural. February is the gain season for our rose and flower farmers in La Trinidad, the better time for our coffee shops and restaurants, and an opportunity for many of our local gift shops to exploit. Money is meant to be used and shared after all.

For those who want to spend a romantic time in the valley, you can hike and have a picnic at Mt. Yangbew, or at Mt. Kalugong eco-park. You can also visit Jeffrey Visaya’s garden at Brgy. Bahong/Alapang and spend the day with their plants and flowers. Of course our town is teeming with great coffee shops. Hunt them all from Km.3, Km.4, Km.5, Km.6, to Brgy. Poblacion. For those who prefer to go out at night, La Trinidad has a cowboy bar lane in Km.6 (from Oldwest to Cowboy town).
The “Eternal Student” book published to cap my 30 years of existence (kuno) is out. I dedicate them to my supportive kapamilya and friends. I planned to consign copies to local bookstores and offer them for a cause – following a tradition that calls for us to share what we have in order to welcome more ‘blessings’.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Marching in January

The rank and file workers start the year with stories from their own hometown vacations, while those who have no other “ili” can only listen in curiosity. By nature, we prolong the bliss and joy of pure family time and rest period, by talking about them. The boys went to their mother’s Kapangan, the home of the Igorot Grand March, though they are also from Sagada, Buguias and Bauko, and Bontoc. Of course, their real home is still in La Trinidad and Baguio City.

Then the chat surprisingly turned deeper when “grand march” was mentioned, Cath (recalling her thesis) concluded that said Kapangan’s pride (grand march) is the result of the past’s culturally deprived generation, “the children will be admonished for simply holding the gong then”.  “…that is why they needed an outlet or alternative for their social yearnings” I completed, as the culture (though originally Polonaise) is like the Benguet’s “kinoboyan” which undeniably came from  western influence.

A debate with cultural purists is futile though I do not really have a quarrel with them. When the world spent centuries breaking barriers, and diverse colors have been woven to single human fabrics, it would be treacherous to live in the frozen bubbles of delusion. Our multi-cultural children and their culture are the evidence that the world has moved on, there is really not much things as pure anymore. Yes, we look back to appreciate, and learn, maybe reminisce…but we do not stay there for long, we have to march forward.

Our local grand march is characterized by unity (holding hands), and optimism/ perseverance (marching), which are the keys to a better workplace, organization, or community. The culture is perfect tone-setter for the whole year.

Today is a new beginning to improve. As long as we are alive there is hope to change ourselves, if not the world, for the better. January is a time of investments for the whole year, so we have to hit it running. Let us start marching in January.