No Comments 17 November 2012

By Ana Maria Villanueva-Lykes

Labhan ang damit nang mabuti”, says a sticky note on the washing machine door. By the light switch, a sign says, “Patayin ang ilaw.” All over the house are little notes that serve as a reviewer. In the background, Sa Ugoy ng Duyan plays softly as my one-year-old naps. It’s all part of my campaign to make sure that my son grows up fluent in Tagalog and that my American husband is not alienated.

My Pinoy immigrant friends ask why that it is so necessary. It seems like they do not see the value in teaching their kids the native tongue when they can hardly use it on foreign soil. I can understand that to some degree, but it’s disheartening to know that many kababayans believe that their children can get ahead only if they are fluent in English alone.

Once during a visit to Manila, I asked my 6-year-old nephew a question in Tagalog. He looked at me quizzically and said, “Please speak English. I don’t understand.” It was interesting that a little boy could silence me. My brother explained that they’ve been conversing with the boy in English since birth. Even the maids do. Apparently, the maids were getting reeducated too. He admitted that it is turning into a disadvantage, because the child is now experiencing difficulty in his Filipino classes. So does countless other kids in the Philippines whose parents think that their children will be achievers if they make English their first language in a country that’s generally non-English speaking.

I grew up with these kids, classmates who were made fun of because they couldn’t speak straight Filipino. Is it their fault that their parents trained them that way? They were always behind in our Araling Panlipunan classes, and I do not judge them, because I too barely passed these subjects. Truth be told, I can write better in English. And I am not proud of that.

I grew up speaking Ilonggo at home. But the TV certainly talked to me in English. And so did my teachers and classmates four days a week. Mondays to Thursdays, we were obliged to converse in English only. Fridays were Filipino days. They must have figured that we did not need to practice Filipino more when we are after all living in a Filipino speaking country. Even our instructional language for major subjects like Science was English. I have to admit it’s practical that way. Try explaining E=MC2 in Filipino.

Even in addresses, streets are streets, not kalye. Similarly, majority of our advertisements, signs, and directions are in English. It’s not the case in many non-English speaking countries. If you can’t find your way around Korea or Vietnam, you would more than likely get lost in translation. I learned this the hard way, thinking that English would serve me well. When I got lost in the streets of Hanoi, I was greeted with quizzical stares when I asked for directions. Few Vietnamese know basic English and they don’t make apologies for it, because it does not make them lesser individuals, and inversely, to be fluent in English does not make them superior or royalty. How many Miss Universe hopefuls have taken the crown with only the help of a translator?

I can’t argue with the fact that there are advantages to being fluent in what is supposedly the universal language. Statistics show that English speaking countries are responsible for about 40% of the world’s GNP. That says a lot. But then it makes me wonder: why is Japan, largely a non-English speaking country, still way ahead of us in terms of technology and economy?  I guess language alone does not make a country, but language still speaks plenty.

Is this another case of colonial mentality? Should we blame it on the 48 years of American reign and the many borrowed words (tren for “train” for instance)? Have we fooled ourselves into thinking that to make the peso stronger, we need to speak the green dollar language?

The fact is, we’ve come upon times when it’s more convenient to say things in English rather than Tagalog. Thus the birth of “taglish” code switching. Unconsciously, when I converse in Tagalog, I would revert to an English word simply because it’s easier. Maybe it’s because there are more syllables to Filipino words. For me, it also sounds more fluid compared to the hard syllables of Tagalog. “Ang sweet” is easier and shorter than “ang lambing”.

Even the tambay will more than likely say “wow sexy” instead of “wow kaakit-akit”.  I had difficulty looking up “sexy” in the English-Tagalog dictionary. A website came up with mainam and balingkinitan, and they still don’t sound right. I looked up my English-Tagalog dictionary by Leo James English and came up with nothing.

Yes, I brought my L. English dictionaries with me to the states even though they were about a kilo combined. I could have relied on the internet, but L. English is the recommended dictionary of the literati. I had to take it with me no matter the cost (of excess baggage). The act was almost metaphorical. I was afraid that if I left that weight, I would completely lose my native tongue. I brought it along with several other materials like work books and OPM CDs all in the effort of making sure my boys learn the language.

Maybe we are not to blame for the decline of the use of our own language, but we are definitely responsible for teaching our kids to exercise their native tongue. So when my friends ask why, I tell them that bilingual children are better thinkers. They’re more flexible and divergent in their thought processes. They become proud of their self-identity, knowing that they are a culture bridge. And perhaps more importantly, I tell them that although my son has an Irish name and strong Irish-American roots, part of him will always be Finnegan the Filipino.

(The author maintains a travel blog –




No Comments 02 November 2012

By Cherie del Rio

It seems that the human decision-making dilemmas do not end with death. Even after one passes, choices still need to be made in determining their final resting place. There are people, however, who have thought far ahead into the conditions after their demise and have made arrangements pertaining to their funeral services. But for the departed who, either by choice or chance, have not taken the liberty of making funeral arrangements, the question of whether they will be buried traditionally or be cremated is one that their family must answer.

The traditional burial practices have been honored and observed by generations after generations. There was simply no choice but to pick out a casket, buy a lawn lot wherein to bury the dead, and pay the necessary maintenance fees or whatever related expenses there may be in memorial parks. But when modern cremation services were introduced into the country, there came another practical option.

Cremation services are allowed in the Philippines by both the Catholic Church and the state. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), however, had expressed its preference for the conventional method of burial. The CBCP, through Monsignor Pepe Quitoriano, said that “Filipinos especially in rural communities still find this [cremation] unacceptable.” Monsignor Quitoriano revealed that the cremation process still has “significant repercussion” in our culture. Many opt to stick to what tradition dictates, to continue doing what has been practiced for centuries in their families. There are also people who are not comfortable with the idea of burning their beloved dead’s body.

Process of cremation

The process of cremation is fairly simple. Most funeral homes that provide cremation services likewise offer packages inclusive of the actual cremation fee, the urn within which the ashes will be placed, the transportation of the corpse from the venue of passing to the funeral home, the viewing services at the memorial chapel, and the acquisition of permits.

Securing permits is an important aspect of the service. A death certificate as well as a request for cremation obtained from the City Health Office must be submitted to the funeral home before cremation may occur. Since the coffin is combustible, the body is then burned along with it. An industrial incinerator is normally used in burning the body and the cremation container or casket.

The average time for cremation typically runs for two to three hours, depending on the weight of the corpse. The ashes are then placed in either a wooden ash box or an urn, which can be made of materials such as marble, steel, or brass. These urns containing the ashes are stored in columbaries in private cemeteries. Some urns are stored in bone chambers in memorial parks and properties. The process is simple and generally cheaper compared to the traditional burial rites.

Cost of dying

A report from the US Embassy has listed the following estimated cost of mortuary services in Metro Manila:

–         Cost for preparation and burial – $2,400

–         Cost for cremation and disposition of ashes – approximately $1,200

In the provinces, the cost for cremation is cheaper. There are crematoriums that offer services for as low as P30,000. Traditional burial packages, on the other hand, have a price range of P80,000 to P130,000 or even higher.

Lavish funerals can even cost as much as a million pesos. These six-figure costs can cover the funeral car services, wake services, mass and ceremonies, food and refreshments served during the wake, viewing in the family rooms of memorial chapels, and beautification of the lawn lot where the coffin will be buried in.

The cost of the lot is not yet included in the package. This will be an extra expense for the family, although more and more people have taken to acquiring insurance packages that include memorial plans.

Advantages of cremation

If we are to compare then the cost of cremation and traditional burials, then cremation would be the better option for our countrymen who barely have enough money to get them through life — and much lesser in death.

Considering the growing cost of traditional funerals, an increasing number of Filipinos have resorted to the cremation of their dearly departed. The lack of burial lawn lots also add to the factors that push cremation as the more practical option.

In 2006, a GMANews Research report revealed that Metro Manila is running out of lands that will accommodate the dead. This prompts more sales for ash vaults, not just burial lots, in cemeteries. Over the last decade, memorial parks and services have devoted areas in their property for bone chambers and columbaries. Even parish churches have bone chambers within which the urns may be deposited. There are some requests made that ashes be scattered in the sea — this is allowed in the Philippines for as long as the necessary permits are secured.

Despite the practicality of cremation, a significant percentage of Filipinos still choose to lay down their beloved dead in their final resting place by means of conventional funeral rites — with tombstones and epitaphs. They honor the practice of visiting memorial parks during All Souls’ Day. They value tradition and family customs.

Practicality vs tradition

Cremation, despite the notion of a seemingly discomfiting process of burning one’s body, has a number of advantages. It still allows the performance of traditional funeral rites such as the display of the coffin during a wake where people can pay their respects. The process will, in fact, only do away with the expense and hassle of purchasing a lawn lot and maintaining it. In this day and age where family members are scattered around the world, cremation presents an attractive option. Loved ones will no longer feel the pressure of flying to a specific funeral park just to visit a departed one who is six feet under the ground.

At the end of the day, the choice of whether to bury or to burn will have to depend on what the family values more (or the departed one’s prior preferences): their regard for customs or their financial capacity. After all, to bury or to burn is more of a debate between practicality and tradition.


Current Affairs


78 Comments 02 November 2012

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has blacklisted 32 local cargo forwarders and their 28 foreign counterparts following rising complaints of undelivered balikbayan boxes.

The DTI on Oct. 16 identified the following local freight forwarders as having no accreditation with the department’s Philippine Shippers Bureau, and as having been the subject of complaints on undelivered packages:

–         2GO Express Inc.;

–         Aerosend

–         Alas Cargo Phil

–         Associated Consolidation Express

–         Dausan International Forwarder

–         FACF Parcel Delivery

–         FRS Philippine Freight Services Inc

–         International Cargo Forwarder

–         J.J. Transglobal Brokerage

–         JAR Cargo Forwarders

–         Mail Plus Cargo Carriers

–         Manila Broker

–         Maru Cargo Logistics Phil

–         R&M Cargo Services

–         Rodah Cargo Manila

–         South Atlantic Cargo Inc

–         Trico International Forwarding (Phils) Inc

–         VCG Customs Brokerage

The following companies, while accredited, have been blacklisted and subject to DTI show cause orders because of complaints on undelivered balikbayan boxes:

–         D’ Winner Logistics Phil. Inc

–         LCSN Express Movers Inc

–         MC Plus Inc

–         Transtech Global Phil Inc

–         Wide wide World Express Corp

On Oct. 31 the DTI blacklisted eight more Philippine firms:

–         ABS-CBN Global Cargo Corp

–         Gen Ex Cargo

–         Jonar Cargo

–         Joseph Glenn L. Galo

–         Pacific Logistics International Cargo

–         Pentfast

–         RDN Marketing & Cargo Forwarder

–         REN International Services

Accredited cargo forwarder RRG Freight Services, meanwhile, is now one of two companies that have been issued show cause orders by DTI-PSB due to complaints regarding balikbayan boxes.

The PSB also advised OFWs to stop doing business with the following foreign principal/cargo consolidators for reports of undelivered balikbayan boxes and other violations.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

–         Al Rodah Marine Cargo

–         Cityline Cargo

–         Dagupan Cargo Packaging Services

–         Express Link Cargo Services

–         Smooth Express

United States of America (USA)

–         AAA Cargo Express Inc.

–         ABS-CBN Star Kargo

–         Aerosend

–         Alas Cargo

–         Associated Consolidations Express (ACE Cargo)

–         FRS Philippine Freight Services, Inc.

–         Shipping Express

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

–         Cargo Net Worldwide Services formerly FAL-World Express Cargo

–         Fil Asia Cargo Forwarders Philippines

–         Global Cargo

–         RJM Freight Cargo Forwarders

–         WRJ Freight Forwarders (A Division of Al-Zagel Cargo)


–         Hagibis Express Pte. Ltd.

–         Maru Cargo Logistics (s) LLP


–         Maharlika Enterprise Cargo Services

–         SCRL Cargo

Other countries:

–         Bayanihan Express in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

–         Dausan International Forwarder in Australia

–         Ford Cargo Internationaal (FCI) in Hong Kong

On Oct. 31 the DTI added six more foreign principals/consolidators to the blacklist:

–         Jasim Yaseen Al-Delam Air Cargo Services (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

–         Pacific Logistics International Cargo (Kuwait)

–         Philand Ynterlink Ltd (United Kingdom)

–         Pentagon Cargo Inc (United States of America)

–         REN International (United States of America)

–         Star Xpress Forwarders (United States of America)

“Overseas Filipino workers who will send their balikbayan boxes and their consignees in the Philippines should book their packages only with reliable and PSB-accredited freight forwarders and Philippine agents to ensure that their packages will reach their destinations,” said Victorio Mario Dimagiba, DTI-PSB director-in-charge, in a statement.

“Senders may verify the company name of the Philippine sea freight forwarder counterpart at, or they may visit our Philippine Consulate offices abroad,” he said.

Dimagiba said foreign principals and cargo consolidators overseas must have local counterparts that are accredited by the DTI-PSB if it is a sea cargo forwarder and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines if an air cargo forwarder.

He also warned cargo senders from abroad against very low door-to-door rates that some foreign principals offer. “With low rates, they [foreign principals] do not have enough funds to bear the cost of transporting cargoes, and they fail to remit delivery funds to their Philippine freight forwarders, causing the shipments to be abandoned at the ports and not being delivered to consignees,” the DTI official said.

“For consignees in the Philippines who have not received their packages from freight forwarders, they may contact DTI (02-751-3330) or go to PSB office to file an immediate claim or complaint,” he added.


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