Subversive Futbol Series Part 1: Big Dreams at Dream Big Pilipinas

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”

– Anatole France

It was going to be a very hot summer day and yet that Saturday morning, the children arrived without any care for the weather.  At 8AM some were still sleepy, children rubbing their eyes to ward off sleep and being prodded by parents to wake up and join in the fray of unbridled fun.  Some of the early-risers were kicking the soccer balls in to the net.  Other children dragged their parents in tow instead.  To an adult mind, well at least mine, it was such a sacrilege to wake up so early on the morning on a Saturday; but once the drills and the game began, everyone’s want for sleep completely disappeared and eyes were on the field.

“Both feet! Both feet!” cheered a father while watching his 6-year-old boy jumping sideways to accomplish one of the drills.

When FIFA licensed Coach Miguel demonstrated how to dribble a soccer ball, a young girl with straight jet black hair called out, “I know how to do it, coach!”

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Meanwhile on the other side of town, a couple of teenage coaches took over one-half of a basketball court.  There’s no grass here.  The barangay’s basketball court had to do and football drills were done while the adults played basketball on the other side.  Already, you could tell the difference between the two football classes.  The kids at Valle Verde wore cleats and shinguards, while the boys at the basketball court only wore regular rubber shoes.  You could even hear a change in language.  A smattering of English words bobbed around colloquial Tagalog only because there were just some football terms that possessed no translation.

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How are the two football classes related to each other?

Both are actually football classes organized by Dream Big Pilipinas where Coach Miguel Bermundo spearheads the Saturday football movement of big dreams and second chances.  Little did the children at Valle Verde know, their Saturday morning drills opened up new opportunities among other children and young adults.  Every peso raised by the Valle Verde classes funds the Dream Big Pilipinas Football Academy at sites where underprivileged and homeless youth are common in Mandaluyong and Pasig.  Football is only part of it though.  Young people from ages 7 to 17 are given a chance at a different way of life as they enter into a holistic program that provides academic assistance, and values formation.  

See, for example, the photo below.

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The sprightly 14-year-old leading the stretching exercises in Valle Verde is Carlo Bajalan who lives in Arkong Bato, Pasig.  He resides in a Gawad Kalinga Community and has been playing football for more than 5 years under Coach Miguel’s wing.  For several months, Bajalan was trained by Dream Big Pilipinas and has been apprenticing during the football clinics in Valle Verde.

There’s never been a more innovative program in sports where beneficiaries can actually use their skills and talent to give back to those who gave them the opportunity in the first place.  I couldn’t help but call it subversive football.  Football, after all, only became so popular among young people when the Philippine Azkals started winning games against other countries for the past year.  Aside from that, the Philippines is a country whose love for basketball can rival the United States.  In fact, I think we have the 2nd oldest Basketball Association in the world, the US’ NBA being the first.

If a social enterprise’s business model incorporates a second bottomline to advance a social good aside from the responsibility of earning a profit, then Dream Big Pilipinas has a good thing going.  If you are interested in volunteering at the football clinics and give opportunities to young people, you can contact Starbucks Philippines who is supporting Dream Big Pilipinas efforts.  You can email them through csr@rustancoffee.ph.  Do something fun this summer, like helping kids access great opportunities.  Who knows?  It might open up new opportunities for you too.

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Testing MarsEdit and Nigella’s Salami Pasta

Salami pasta

Nigella said that this is a quick recipe.  It also calls for Salami, 2 tablespoons of butter at least, a can of white beans, and a bouquet garni which is not sold in this country and I had to improvise.

The Salami Milano had a lot of fat in it and I thought this could NOT be a low calorie tomato sauce.  The butter made the tomato sauce really silky which I think was brilliant.  (I mean, have you ever tried that mythical 3-ingredient tomato sauce?)  But the genius of this sauce is in the white beans, which somehow gave it body and sparked the idea that beans can somehow be inserted into pasta sauces and could supplement ground meat and what have you.  I mean, if you truly would like to improvise a vegetarian pasta you can throw in beans and Portobello Mushrooms.  Some chefs swear that Portobello Mushrooms are the steaks in the mushroom world.  Okay, fine, I only stumbled on two chefs with Youtube videos saying so.  But still…

Bouquet garni is dried parsley, thyme, and bay leaves.  That day I had some fresh parsley and I put it in.  Thyme and Bay leaves from the spice rack solved the rest of the problem.  The sauce looked pretty and I had to take a photo of it.  It was a job well done, I thought, until an Italian friend said, you should only use the curly parsley for garnish and use the flat one for sauces.  Oh well.  I also realized in the photo that I didn’t chop it very well.  Oh well, part 2.

But the sauce did taste pretty amazing.  And it was quick.  Nigella did say that this is perfect for unexpected company and you just had to happen to have Salami Milano in the fridge.  Yeah, sure, I “happened” to have some Salami in the fridge after I looked for it in two grocery stores that ran out of it.  Finally found some at the deli down the street where I should have gone first.   Then again, I was in the grocery store buying pasta and other things and they usually had the stuff.  It made for a satisfying pasta though and that’s what matters in the end.

Wrote this on MarsEdit.  I’m checking if this works with my blog.  I was at a Microsoft event yesterday and was very interested in Windows Live Writer.  I do use a Mac though so I had to look for the alternative.  Should I say alternative? It sounds sad.  Maybe I should say competitor.  A lot of people say that this is the best thing on OS Lion so here it goes.

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I wish I can join the New Yorker Caption Contest

Unfortunately, it’s only open to US citizens.  If it were open to Filipinos…

Look! Congressmen!

…I’d have won it.  Hands down.

 

 

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We’d like you to please Rice Up! :)

My apologies for not writing much lately.   Life got out of hand.  More so with work.  But speaking of work, we had a press launch this morning for our rice campaign.  I was nervous with the idea that the press might not show up today.  So were the others in the team, I think.  And I really imagined the worst when I only picked up 4 bloggers from our meeting place at the Intercontinental Hotel.  Good thing though, when we got back to the office, there were some tv crews already setting up.  Kudos to the communications officer, Maren, and Geri from the PR Agency, Geiser Maclang, who made it all happen.  Another amazing thing of note is that Tim Yap stayed even after the event ended and chatted with us despite his busy schedule.  His assistant even told us that Tim was the one who woke her up this morning instead of the other way around.  Guess he was excited too.

So here comes the shameless plug.  I’m spearheading the fundraising efforts (no easy task but my team mates are really the best) and our target is 600 sacks in donations and pledges.   That’s a year’s supply for Virlanie and it goes to the 13 homes, the Mobile Unit in Divisoria, and the Open Day Center in Quiapo.  It takes 50 sacks of rice every month for children in our care to have balanced meals at least 3 times a day.  :)

Virlanie Invites Everyone to Rice Up!

Learning is more fun on a full stomach.  A way to ensure that children are learning despite their economic and social circumstance is to mitigate their hunger.  Every afternoon, in front of the Binondo Church, the Mobile Unit of Virlanie Foundation, teaches young children living on the streets through a mobile classroom with the hopes of reintegrating them into normal school.  After every class, however, the Mobile Unit unpacks its food receptacles, distributing the children’s possibly first balanced meal of the day composed of vegetables and meat, occasionally with a glass of milk, but always with rice. This is the main reason why Virlanie Foundation has embarked on a rice campaign, calling friends and supporters to Rice Up for Street Children!

With the target of garnering pledges and donations for 50 sacks of rice each month in the coming year, Virlanie will be able to feed children living in its 13 homes and children who are still living on the streets through Virlanie’s outreach programs like the Mobile Unit. A donation of one sack of rice helps serve three meals to 100 children.

Rice happens to be one of the healthiest carbs. 8 Amino Acids and 15 vitamins and minerals ensure the children in our care grow up healthy.

Dominique Lemay, President & Founder of Virlanie Foundation notes, “Virlanie’s main thrust and goal since its beginning is to help disadvantaged children living on the streets. Children are the most vulnerable in the face of poverty because they are born into this unfortunate circumstance.  It is imperative to extend help to these children since they are at risk: this is also the important time that their brains and bodies are developing.”

Rice contains over 15 vitamins and minerals, and unlike other high carbohydrate foods, rice contains high quality proteins.  Rice also contains all eight of the essential amino acids, which helps in building and maintaining muscle tissue, antibodies and hormones.  Above all, rice is a crucial component to Filipino food culture, just as a family home atmosphere is important to a happy child.

Tim Yap handed 25 kilos of rice to our Deputy Exec Dir, Arlyne Fernandez. That's me in the middle laughing about it with Maren and Natalie.

How to Rice Up!

Dominique Lemay recognizes that Virlanie’s current challenge now is getting Filipino or local donors to support and be more involved with the Foundation’s efforts.  He mentions, “a few foreign donors have already recognized what we do and how good we are at it, and now we hope that Filipinos can be more proactive in caring for their own.”

Virlanie Foundation enjoins friends to donate a sack of rice, or to pledge to donate rice monthly.  Employees may choose to pledge their monthly rice subsidies to Virlanie as well.  Donors can fill up a Rice Up! pledge form off www.virlanie.org and email it to frcom2@virlanie.org.

Virlanie Foundation provides homes for children who have been abandoned, abused, and neglected.  For the past 19 years, Virlanie Foundation has helped 13,500 street children through its homes and its outreach programs.  For more information on how to Rice Up!, please call Tess Garcia at 8953460.

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Pretty Little Royalite

It’s from the 60s and it’s as manual as they come.  There’s no “1” key, you have to push the small “L” for that.  There’s no exclamation point either, you’ve to type the apostrophe, go back and put a dot.  My hands are experiencing muscle pain, guess my fingers didn’t know those muscles exist.  In this age of electronic keyboards, no one has the resistance now to type on an honest-to-goodness manual typewriter.  But I love it.

I love every click, every jump, and every little “ding” that goes off when I’m near the end of the left margin.  It’s a writing machine, exclusively for writing.  No net surfing, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Gmail, and no WordPress.  It’s just you, the key tops and your words.

One of these days I’ll get a scanner and upload a small page of what I’ve been churning out.  :)  It’s fun to write again!

 

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eBooks vs. Paper Books

Due to the latest shenanigan pulled by Philippine Customs officials or maybe just the Makati Post Office, I’m revisiting the idea of having an electronic reader.  Gasp!  Although, I did promise to keep reading the printed word and quite honestly, I dream of finally holding a copy of my own book in my hands… due to current circumstances and the lingering threat that I might lose money and patience over the corrupt, well… maybe it’s time to get one (I am thinking of getting the latest Nook which will be released on June 10) for the following reasons:

First, it’s definitely cheaper.  Books here in the Philippines are getting really expensive.  I can’t explain it.  There aren’t any duties (supposedly) and yet the big bookstores overcharge for the titles, it’s becoming ridiculous, especially since the titles here only exist within the parameters of pop culture.  There was only one bookstore that I totally loved to the point that I convinced the owner to read up on his Japanese literature because he saw me picking out the weird titles.  A Different Bookstore was recently bought by Powerbooks and gone are the days where I enjoy discounts on books that I can’t find anywhere else except on Amazon.  If they didn’t have it, they would order it for me, but I kiss that happy privilege goodbye.  Buying ebooks on Amazon and Barnes&Noble is definitely cheaper than getting them on paperback at the nearest Fully Booked, which I have some hang ups with in the first place.

Second,  I don’t have to wait weeks and months to get my books.  I can have them just like that!  This might totally make me love ebook reading forever.  Here’s an incident that took place quite recently.  I watched the movie “I Am Number Four” and despite how it reeked, I became more interested in Pittacus Lore’s Young Adult series especially since it totally stirred the inner Trekkie and Star Wars fan in me.  So I walked to National Bookstore to search for it and I couldn’t find a single copy even though I know for weeks it was attracting flies for a while until the movie came out. So I ordered a copy off Amazon.  I got it two months later, after constant badgering with Amazon’s CSR to send me another copy because I didn’t get the first one.  Customer Service made me experience the joys of Expedited International Shipping, and I came to the conclusion that there must be no other way to ship.  Unfortunately expedited shipping to the Philippines costs an arm and a leg, or at least maybe 5-6 books so never mind.  Buying ebooks off Barnes & Noble would just solve that problem in seconds.  I wouldn’t have to wait anymore.  Hurray!

There are many advantages to switching to ebooks.  Better check these blogs for their wisdom.  The ability to scribble notes on the Nook or the Kindle?  I am so there!  I can’t even make myself write on the paper edges of my books, not even with a pencil.

eBooks vs. Paper Books.

Print Books vs. Ebooks

Are Ebooks better or worse than paper books? Do (not) ask the Experts. 

Unfortunately I do have a couple of concerns about the eReader technology and I hope the techie people who read here will answer them.  Yoohoo Francis!

1.  How will I share my book?  The fun part of having tangible paper books is lending it to friends.  To recommend them.  To marvel at their front covers. And to tell a friend ” you just HAVE to read this one!”

2.  Will ebooks last forever?  If my Nook becomes so obsolete and won’t have an ebook compatible with it anymore, do I have to buy another one?  I do want books to last forever, but quite honestly, even the fast development and turn over of ebook devices might arrest the notion of ebooks lasting forever in our hard drives.  A paper book may rot, may discolor, but it least it will grow some sort of character and it won’t disappear in the guts of a device.

Sigh.  If only those Customs people in the Post Office weren’t such douche bags.

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Filed under Books, compositions, Creative Nonfiction

When PhilPost just makes you go crazy angry

Well to go postal, really.  The term “going postal”, I’m told by my Dictionary Widget, is when a person goes insanely violent because of immense stress.  Its origin?  Apparently, disgruntled employees of the US Postal Service managed to shoot colleagues in the past.  It’s actually a tempting option when one deals with those corrupt idiots in the Philippine Post  when they decide to put taxes on books ordered from Amazon.

I can’t begin to describe the anger I feel right now.  I feel like a Vulcan doing very poorly in harnessing my emotions.  (Yes the Star Trek reference is a must in this situation).  There are a lot of reasons for me to feel this way.  Let me enumerate a few:

1.  For the books I’ve ordered on Amazon and waited WEEKS (sometimes MONTHS) for them to arrive, PhilPost Customs Officials probably noticed that I have been receiving books lately and slapped duties on a most recent package.  Funny thing is, I keep my packages and receipts and I am so tempted to drop by the Makati Post Office and show them that “look, last month I got these and you handed them over for FREE! )(@^!!#(Y!”.

2.  Never mind that a former President whom I dislike signed Executive Order No. 885 that reaffirms the Florence Treaty of 1950, an international trade policy of which the Philippines was one of the original signatories.  Apparently, Customs officials in the Makati Post Office are now making policies of their own that completely ignore a treaty ratified by the Philippine Senate, making it a law of the land.

3. Didn’t we express our outrage last 2009 when some Customs Undersecretary by the name of Estela Sales said that we’ve been misinterpreting the Florence Treaty of 1950?  It was called the Great Book Blockade of 2009 as book sellers were being extorted by the Customs office claiming that all of us have been interpreting the Florence Treaty wrong.  Perhaps it is true, then, that this country’s bureaucracy really plans to keep the Filipino people illiterate.

I don’t know about you but if there’s one thing that sickens me more than our government’s half-baked efforts to alleviate poverty in this country, it’s the deprivation of education and other means of learning.  We boast ourselves to be one of the oldest democracies in Asia, but truth be told, there’s no such thing as a democracy when there’s an uneducated population.  A government that claims to be democratic but doesn’t let its people read is an oppressive one, it is no different from an authoritarian regime that has a ruler that wields absolute power and may be even a worse plight considering that its ignorant populace wouldn’t even know the difference.

So what happened to those books?  They’re there in the Post Office, waiting for the light of day.  When I get back to Makati maybe I can try getting them out of there.  Will have to print those laws and highlight the necessary articles I’d have to use as arguments with the Customs official who decided to scam me.  I could only apologize to my guy for asking him to get them for me in my behalf…

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Filed under Books, Political Economy