Connecting Fragments *

Grassroots’ Advocate is celebrating their first post.

“Fragmented. Diverse. Co-existing. These are three words I would describe my country. Despite fragments which need to connect, we persist to co-exist and break these barriers.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Grassroots' Advocate

This is how I remember my first lesson about the Philippines when I was a first grader. The first lesson is to describe a picture of small fragments of islands and islets being grouped under what are called Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Coming to know of the country, which I have to be proud of, is home for a more than a thousand of species many of which are endemic to the country’s abounding wealth and beauty of various forms of natural resources.
These descriptions show how vast are the forms of life living in the Philippines, not only those we can find in nature but most especially are the people in-charge of these possessions as a nation.

Baguio, Benguet has been my home since I started college. I am not a native of Benguet or in any part of the Cordillera, but I had a chance to…

View original post 1,026 more words


Shahi Qila Restaurant at the City of Pines: where you can find authentic kabab and biryani

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Shahi Qila Restaurant. A must see and go to food house that brings you closer to an AUTHENTIC international cooking! Continue reading

Surviving Panagbenga : Parade Stories

The Panagbenga (Flower Festival) is annually celebrated by the Baguio people and guests from near and far away places. The Street Dance Parade and the Flower Float Parade are the highlights of the Festival where people, local and tourists alike, crowded the streets of the town.

si-look-prettyVisitors who come to Baguio during the Panagbenga season do not only want to feel and experience the cold weather, they also came to experience the culture. Watching the performances of the street dancers and the floats made of home-grown Benguet flowers during the parade, revealed them the skilled and artistic nature of the Cordillerans.

For the natives of Cordillera, watching the parades has been their chance to bring their family to town and watch the outputs of their fellow “Ka-iliyan” ( local term to refer a person or people from the same place of origin) showcasing their gift of artistic talent and creativity. This is a show of support and to share ones celebration of achievement.

Every year, a thousand of watchers spend time to see the parades. On this day, when bystanders fill the sidewalks of Session Road to witness the parade from beginning to end you have to secure a spot as early as 4am or earlier to have a better view of the parades. Coming to celebrate with the whole town would let you experience bad times before the fun.

The good news is that there are people from the grassroots in our community who saw the advantage of what seemed to be disadvantage for most of us wanting to enjoy the good times.

When flowers are in bloom, it’s also a time for money in bloom. Flower vendors, producers and farmers sustain the local flower production market with them working day ’til night. Doing this would help them survive. Their survival is key to sustaining the city’s culture and economic treasure.

The Flower Festival provides local small-scale entrepreneurs from nearby provinces a great avenue to showcase their livelihood.  The vendors of “latag”, sweetcorn, fish crackers, and other “manglalako” used the event to offer their goods and products. This is a chance for them to grab an opportunity. Through the past years, accounts of these people had been kept and collected, and here is their story.

Latag: Your basic companion during parades in Session latag

“Dumarami ang mga tao ngayon sa Baguio. Kapag Panagbenga umaakyat kami para magbenta (The population of people now in Baguio increases. During Pangbenga we go up here to sell)”, says a vendor named Manag Cecilia who sells silver mats, or also known as latag, for the past three years already.

“Latag” vendors offer their product for those who need to join other watchers who spend the night on the streets. These people would stay until the morning of the parade. There are people who brought with them their own “sapin” (cover sheets) to sit on the floor. But the latag vendors are ready for those who do not bring with them any.

“Bumili na kami…[ng latag] naiwan kasi namin yung pang-latag naming. Buti nga may nagbebenta dito, (We had bought latag now because we left our own mat at home. Good thing there are some who sell here),” said Elmer Dittan a father and native of Benguet. He is with his family who bought latag to use during the parade.


Latag is made of a sheet of silver foil. According to Manang Cecilia they get the material from Manila. They are unused material from factories for making billboard posters. Latag vendors sell them for 20 pesos where two to three persons can fit in one sheet.

Manang Cecilia shared that they were able to make 400php to 500php from selling latag. She came here with a group of other vendors from “baba” ( term used for places in the lowland) there are those who came from La Union, Pampanga and Tarlac. Their group would travel everyday for the week starting on the day of the Street Dance Parade until the closing on the first week of March. According to her, they also need to go back to their places to be at home. They will also get more stocks of the latag when they sell all of them during the parade. The following day, which would be the Flower Float Parade, is another day for them to increase their income.

How to crack boredom while waiting for the parade

Last year, Manong Rogelio Cerafico a Baguio resident, tried for the first time his business skills during Panagbenga. He was a laborer from Dominican Hill, Baguio City. He tried to see if there were opportunities for him to gain income by selling fish crackers to the crowd who were watching the parade. img_4103-2

The watchers, most of them who were probably at Session hours earlier before the time of the parade, might be hungry from skipping breakfast just to watch over for their reserved spot. And because they have to be early the snacks they brought with them might not be enough. To avoid going out from their spot, vendors had scattered to sell pica-pica snacks, and one of them is Manong Rogelio.

Just like Manang Cecilia, he would sell from the date of the Street Dance Parade. He would stroll along the streets of Baguio to sell fish crackers until the closing of the Festival.

He gets the one kilo pack of the fish cracker. He would repack them into a smaller packages and would sell them at 10 php. After the first hour of the parade, which started at 8:00am, he was already selling his second pack. “Kapag Panagbenga nauubos naman lahat ng paninda (During Panagbenga all my goods were sold out), he said. He has a friend who were already selling every year during Panagbenga. According to him they gain a profit of five hundred pesos to a maximum of one thousand pesos a day. “Sayang kasi yung dami ng tao ngayon, may mga turista, kaya marami bumibili ( The opportunity will get wasted, since there are tourists and there are many people now, many of them will buy).”

Some of his co-vendor sells candies, sweets, peanuts and other types of crackers. Their group purchase their goods from the Baguio City public market. Where they could get the goodies not lower than 500 per bulk packages. They would sell until all their goods were sold.

Sit Still, Look Pretty

As a first time vendor Manong Rogelio was very challenged to sell.  He would need to transfer from one place to another to sell all his fish crackers. He said, they could sell more if they were not watching out for the POSD’s (Public Order and Safety Division officers) of Baguio City. To both our advantage, while people kept still to reserved their spots to watch the parade, street vendors were running around to keep their source of livelihood. In this way watchers can buy food without leaving their position.


Street Vendors are prohibited in Baguio City. But the only way for them to sell their goods is when they sell on the streets.


The past years the city became strict with street vendors. “Bawal kami maglako. Pag nag stay kami sa isang lugar mahuhuli kami. Kaya kailangan nagiikot-ikot kami ( Vendors are not allowed in streets. If we stay in one place we would get caught. We need to move around all the time),” says Manong Rogelio.

This also concerned Manong Alvin, a sweetcorn vendor. He was from Pangasinan and he had been selling corn in his hometown for living. “Dati kapag Panagbenga at may parade kumikita ako ng hanggang 4000. Pero ngayon mahirap makabenta kasi nanghuhuli na sila( POSD) (Many years ago, during Panagbenga and the parade I can gain up to 4000 pesos. But now it is difficult to sell because the POSD is after us).”

He also came with a group of corn vendors from Pangasinan. They can gain a total of 3000. One thousand of it would go for buying their materials. Manong Alvin gains more than his normal profit when selling in his hometown compared when selling during Panagbenga.


Since 1977, when the Festival received a full pledge of support from the country’s Department of Tourism, Panagbenga also helped the city to gain economic advantages. One way to promote Baguio’s culture is through economic activities which has been established with the Session Road in Bloom, and the most recent development of the Market Encounter in Burnham Park which begins at the opening of the festival on the first week of February.

These folks stayed at the end of the parade. No trace of mess and trash were left on the streets after everyone has gone.
“Session Road/Walk of Lives” . With or without the major occasions, while commercial stands pops up during Panagbenga and advertising streamers comes and goes at session road, the begging business continues.
   (article  reference: Panagbenga Baguio City Official Website)


What’s your “food-jective”? : Review

(Original post @ GoogleMap.Review)

Tuna Pesto @Foodjective. The best in town and highly recommended! No wonder it’s one of FoodJ’s bestseller
 If you are on an escapist mood and want to break up with the usual “tripadvisor certified” cafe and resto when in Baguio, a modern minimalist style cafe-restaurant in Bakakeng is your sure destination.
What could possibly piqued anyone’s interest to try Foodjective is its exterior build from an innovated old container van. How cool is that! This hip and advanced architectural concept makes it a one of a kind among traditional “Baguio”-marked old American-style-houses-turned-cafe resto.dsc_3088

You could have a camping or picnic outside ambience when you eat here. Are you a certified millenial? Do you always have a hard time deciding what to eat when in a cafe or resto, especially when you visit food houses with your barkada and you feel like eating “kahit ano” (local term for saying “anything”). You simply can’t decide.But Foodjective here would help you come up with your “objective” on what “food” to eat. (got it?)

Fresh Strawberries @Foodjective Fruitshakes
So what is your “food-jective”? From pasta to cafe-favorite-snacks and drinks, to rice bowl and rice meal, Foodjective got what you need. When walking right up into the cafe you will be welcomed by their menu with a not so minimal food choices, printed and hanged outside. 
It’s a perfect chill and hang-out place for you if you want to be alone or be with your friends. Plus, the service is good though sometimes slow, but you can always ask assistance and make requests to their staff who are kind and very friendly! On top of this, they make the best and authentic pesto in town!  Try it to believe it! (follow @ for a review of the search for the best pesto in Baguio)
I highly recommend their fruit shakes and pastas served with tasty “bread pan” on the side, an original idea by Foodjective owners. For less than 100php you can have a full meal with a drink.
CheesyBakeMac@Foodjective. Taste=5stars. Price=5stars. You can afford their pastas in half size or full size.
Foodjective caters to students at a nearby university in Bakakeng and those who board around the area.You can reach Foodjective in less than 45 min. coming from Bakakeng Terminal at Igorot Garden in Baguio town proper
A FoodJ betseller, Blueberry Cheesecake @ less than 30php

To see a full review of  and more about Foodjective follow Grassroots’ Advocate at and also visit for more cafe related blogs.

Also, comment or email Grassroots’ Advocate at to review your suggested cafe or travel spots!

“Connecting Fragments” *

Fragmented. Featured Image -- 990
This is how I remember my first lesson about the Philippines when I was a first grader. The first lesson is to describe a picture of small fragments of islands and islets being grouped under what are called Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Coming to know of the country, which I have to be proud of, is home for a more than a thousand of species many of which are endemic to the country’s abounding wealth and beauty of various forms of natural resources.
These descriptions show how vast are the forms of life living in the Philippines, not only those we can find in nature but most especially are the people in-charge of these possessions as a

Baguio, Benguet has been my home since I started college. I am not a native of Benguet or in any part of the Cordillera, but I had a chance to make a dwelling at a small community at Longlong, La Trinidad. Through a relative from my hometown at Marikina, I found an opportunity to explore living on a different place. The first time I stayed in the community I was welcomed by the rural setting of the area. I got the impression that the people there knew that our family were visitors and not a local of the community. When I ride the jeep I felt that a common spirit exist among each person in the vehicle I am in. It is just like riding the jeep from the city of Manila, but the difference is that everyone talks with each other. It seemed that everyone knew everybody.

The culture is different. I felt different. It was the time that I felt that I am a total stranger. However, there was a warm sensation I get every time that the people would notice this stranger is with them and they will just smile. I really did not understand when they initiated talking to me through their local dialect, nevertheless I felt welcomed and at home.

More days had passed and more about the identity of this community was revealed. I noticed that it was only my relative’s house that had a gate built around it. Most of the houses of the community were open. There were no fences.

_DSC7788 (3)
Notice when traveling in the Cordillera region, the city of Baguio and its near locations, local’s houses will often be recognized when they build no fence around their home. (Taken at Tam-awan Village, this Nipa house reflects the humble living and attitude of openness locals in this region possess.)

It reflected a value among the people in that area shares. Sharing and co-existence is part of their way of life. The community consists of Ifugaos, Ibalois, and some have their roots in Bontoc. Others are Kalunguya. They live together. Some are subsistence farmers and they share resources to each other when possible.

The country is a home to diverse cultures. The environment shaped and influenced the people’s identity in many different ways. There is diversity in how people on this island practice their way of life according to their geographic locations. The form of living people create is also a way to adapt to the natural phenomena of their environment.

There are those who live on the mountains. People here must acquire skills to be able to go up and down the hills to work. Those who are living on the seaside developed knowledge on building boats to live with the waves in the ocean. Go to the south there are the Bagobos, Maranaos, Yakans; these are some popular ethnolinguistic groups found in the south. Set off further to its western and eastern parts you will hear of the Lumads.

On the east side of the Philippine map, you will find the Mangyans. Go further up the North, and be introduced with the indigenous groups of the Cordillera like the Ifugao, Kankana-ey, Ibaloi, and Kalanguya, just to name some of them, and

many others which if we will mention all we could reach to hundreds. Countless like the fragmented islands we see when we look at the map of the Philippines. These fragments scattered formed the Philippines. It had created the diversity among people and their way of life.

Though being through with my elementary years, these lessons from History and Geography subjects are more than just chapters of information from a grade school textbook. I realized that it is how I was introduced to Culture. Pursuing now a college degree, I find these past lessons very significant to being a Development Communication student. Culture is one of the important issues about people that need to be communicated.

Culture for me, is not just a field of study or a section in a magazine or a newspaper, but it is an aspect of human life where we can give our lives to devote for learning and deeper understanding about the Indigenous people who are in the society.
Cultural diversity sets a barrier to each Filipino that instead of seeing one nation, it was hard to form unity. Culture must not be a reason for conflicts, discrimination, and divisions. Through the differences, we can live with one another.

_DSC7766 (2)
“Dap-ay”. Or Ator, is a social-political structure known among the Cordilleran culture that signifies co-existence through sitting in a one circle, which the dap-ay has taken shape of,  when talking and settling issues in the community.

Communicate differences and pursue living towards peace and harmony. These issues can be addressed if we communicate with each other. The fragments need to connect.
Communication involves a process where it allows two ends, the “speaker” and the “receiver”, connect with each other. It does not focus to one side of a story only. Our communication would be more effective if we understand one another to the fullest. Relate with one another. Listen as others speak. Share your values to one another. Do not assume that another person will not understand you.

Break barriers.
Break the barrier of language. If you found yourself going to another region or even a country, learn the language. When we spend time with other people it also involves spending time learning how they speak and what they speak. It would definitely take time. It would take years. However, it is an effective means to connect to another person. In return, people who are different from your culture will allow themselves to connect with you. We have the ability to learn how to speak during childhood so we can continue learning another language when we are grownups.
The generation we are in today allows people to migrate to other places and change addresses. Break the barriers of pre-judgments when an idea is different from what you know and when an appearance of something is far from what you commonly see. Learn and let these differences teach you. Have an open mind, and with an open mind, open your heart too.
*(originally published on ZigZag Weekly. Young Thoughts of the Valley.November 2013. “Breaking Barriers Connecting Fragments, original title)