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Hiroshi Tamura and the Nissan GT-R: the Man and the Evolution of the Machine

2016 banners an important milestone for Nissan Philippines Inc (NPI), as it saw the introduction of the carmaker’s iconic GT-R super sports car in the country. No less than its Chief Product Specialist, Hiroshi Tamura, flew in to launch it at the recent 6th Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS).

“I designed this car with an eye towards the ultimate driving pleasure,” Tamura stated.

“The car is the body, you are the commander. It is this kind of connection that is not just about the link between the steering and your hand. It is like a mobile surge that lets your brain grab the road,” he said.

With the Skyline 33 as his starting GT-R project, Tamura went on to develop the succeeding GT-R versions since 1997 until the present 2017 iteration.

“We upgraded everything. Sometimes, people focus on the horsepower, but it’s not just the only purpose. The purpose is the body connection, its more sporty but also projects a more mature image.”

 

Designing for Both Speed and Comfort

The newest GT-R   marries the concept of comfort of “GT” with the “R”  or racing idea of delivering exhilarating high performance that is found in its race car technology. 

“This automobile is not a dot chaser,” Tamura said.“It is not all about reaching peak dots on a graph — like most energy and even most G forces. It’s extra three-dimensional as a result of what we people are.”

The 2017 Nissan GT-R is a buff beast that wears its power underneath a more luxurious, sophisticated suit.  Powered with a 3.8-liter 24-valve, twin turbocharged V6  pumping out a prodigious 570 PS and equally immense 637 NM of torque, the Nissan GT-R is redesigned with  a more rigid body structure and a new suspension to ensure a smoother ride upon hitting the throttle.

Yet this strength is tempered by the changes implemented both in its exterior and interior.  Aerodynamically styled, its larger grille openings enhance cooling to key components, without increasing drag. The C-pillar was slightly redesigned to stop the formation of a vortex that could slow the GT-R down.

Inside, luxury and efficiency goes hand in hand with the choices of reengineering the cabin layout and materials used.  With features such as a dash cover that uses aniline leather, simplified cockpit with fewer controls and next-generation Multi-Function Display, relocated and redesigned paddle shifters, down to retuned acoustics that reduces unwanted noise while allowing the signature pure sound of the GT-R engine, all combine to elevate the driving experience to a new thrilling level like never before.

“You can concentrate more on your driving.  You can discuss more with your car more easier,” he said. 

 

The Philosophy of Being a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Tamura likened the Nissan GT-R as a wolf in sheep’s skin, “a sleeper”, he called it.

“Behavior is like a sheep, but the outside is a tiger, or a wolf. The GT-R is like a sedan, but with a racing engine,” he said, explaining the duality of the super race car’s character.  With the award-winning VR38DETT engine as the heart of the beast, each  unit is handcrafted and overseen by a Takumi master technician.  Such is the high level of craftsmanship and expertise that goes into each GT-R, that  each engine proudly bears a plaque that is stamped with the name of the Takumi that handbuilt it.  

When all elements come together, the Nissan GT-R provides a “smooth, sophisticated riding concept, but with feeling,” Tamura said.  

As a flagship vehicle, the Nissan GT-R has also shared its philosophy across other Nissan vehicles.

“How to grab the road, how the car is in contact with the road, all that is in the technology like VDC, traction control, ABS, this philosophy came from GT-R”, he notes in terms of the halo effect on other Nissan vehicles.  “Like the Navara. Heavy-duty use, combined with ease and reliability, these concepts come from the GT-R philosophy of reliability and robustness.”

The Nissan 2017 GT-R is exclusively available at the Nissan High Performance Center in Quezon Avenue in Katsura Orange, Vibrant Red, Pearl Black, Ultimate Silver, Gun Metallic, Pearl White, and Pearl Blue, with an SRP of P7.350M. For more details, visit www.nissan.ph.

Nissan Philippines Opens Nationwide Search of New Race Car Drivers in its Second Season of GT Academy

photocaption: NPI President and Managing Director Ramesh Narasimhan (left) with Nissan GT Academy 2008 inaugural champion Lucas Ordoñez trying out the new Gran Turismo Sport game in the virtual racing pod at the launch of the new season of the GT Academy in the country.

 

Nissan Philippines Inc (NPI) recently launched the second season of the GT Academy in the Philippines at the Main Atrium of SM Mall of Asia. 

“We had a very successful start last year when the Philippine team competed against other racers in GTA Asia at Silverstone UK, and we bested them by producing the first-ever Filipino GT Academy Asia champion,” said Ramesh Narasimhan, NPI President and Managing Director.  “We hope that this year, we can call on more Filipino talents to enter the competition and make the country the breeding ground for outstanding racing drivers.” 

Joining Narasimhan in the opening ceremony was 2008 GT Academy winner Lucas Ordoñez.  He recounted, “Back then, I was just studying for my MBA. When I saw an ad for a new competition called ‘GT Academy’, I knew I had to join and take this shot to be the racing driver I dreamed to be. Now, here I am racing on every possible tournament. It felt great to have taken that move. I hope Filipinos will grab this opportunity too.”  Ordoñez completed a podium finish in the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours. 

The Nissan GT Academy is slated to run its recruitment session nationwide, with the following scheduled Live Events and their venues: July 8 – 10 at  the Mass area of SM The Block, and at the Activity Center of Centrio Mall in Cagayan;  July 14 – 20 at the GL Concourse of SM Southmall;  July 17 – 23  at Activity Center of SM Bacolod;  July 19 – 25 at the Atrium of SM Ecoland Davao; July 28 – August 3 at SM Sta. Rosa; and August 12 – 14 at the Atrium of SM Pampanga. 

Keep updated on the latest news and details about the Nissan GT Academy by   visiting www.facebook.com/NissanPhilippinesInc.

Tough and Smart, the All-New Nissan NP300 Navara Conquers Ilocos Norte

Class-leading features of the NP300 Navara put to the test

Truck Wars. Antonio Zara, President and Managing Director of Nissan Philippines, Inc. (right) and SJ Huh, General Manager for Marketing of Nissan Philippines, Inc. beside the All-New NP300 Navara at the La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

 

Manila, Philippines (February 24, 2015) – The Nissan Navara has always been synonymous with power and performance. It is well renowned for setting itself to a higher standard and leading the way for other pick-ups to follow. With the resounding success of its launch early this month, the 12th generation Navara is poised to raise the bar yet again.

After the long wait, Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) proudly puts this tough and smart pick-up truck to the test by inviting 70 media guests to an exciting Navara Ride and Drive in Ilocos Norte so that they all see, feel and experience the class-leading features of the All-New NP300 Navara.

Power

Nissan prides itself in having the best lineup of engines and the YD25 certainly lives up to it. This new generation 2.5L DOHC in-line four-cylinder Variable Geometry System (VGS) diesel engine has the highest power output per displacement in its segment. The 4×4 variant puts out 190 PS and 450 Nm of torque while the 4×2 variant offers 163 PS and 403 Nm of torque.

A segment-exclusive feature on the NP300 Navara is the 7-speed automatic gearbox with manual mode. Used as well by the Nissan 370Z sports coupe among others, it offers a wider range of speed with an expanded gear ratio while providing better acceleration, smoother shifting and reduced fuel consumption even at low speeds.

A 6-speed manual gearbox is also available for more transmission control and increased fuel efficiency.

This powertrain combination gives the NP300 Navara the class leading fuel efficiency and emission ratings.

Performance

Ready to take on the most demanding challenge, the NP300 Navara was designed and developed to carry heavy loads while keeping up with today’s active lifestyle.

Using a full-length fully boxed ladder frame that adds torsional stiffness and a Rigid 5-Link Coil Suspension armed with stabilizer bars, passengers are assured of utmost durability without sacrificing comfort even in the most unforgiving terrain.

Slightly longer than the previous model, the NP300 Navara managed to reduce the wheelbase by 50mm to enhance agility and maneuverability whether in off-road situations or simple city driving.

Never hesitate to take on the roughest terrain with the NP300 Navara’s electric shift-on-the-fly 4×4 system allowing you to engage it even while in motion.

Your safety is Nissan’s number one priority, that’s why it also comes with highly advanced features like VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control), ABLS (Active Brake Limited Slip), HSA (Hill Start Assist), HDC (Hill Descent Control) and Traction Control System (TCS).

Design

The NP300 Navara showcases a sportier style while staying true to Nissan’s design philosophy. With a more pronounced beltline and a first-in-its-class boomerang-shaped LED Daytime Running Headlamps that complement the “V-motion” motif that flows from the grille to the hood, the new Navara gets a distinct, attention-grabbing look that sets it apart from all other trucks.

The macho look of the Navara belies the subtle changes that has reduced its drag coefficient to 0.37 Cd, a great number for a vehicle this size. The dynamic convex and concave surfaces found on the doors along with the rear spoiler all contribute to its enhanced aerodynamics.

Inside, the NP300 Navara is as well endowed. Seats are finished with premium fabric and come with NASA-inspired Zero Gravity Seats technology that reduces fatigue by evenly distributing body pressure on the seating surface.

The Instrument Cluster Panel comes with Fine vision technology so that vehicle information, in whatever lighting condition, will be easy to read.

It comes with a 6-speaker infotainment system that doubles as the monitor for the backup camera. It has CD, MP3 and iPod compatibility along with Bluetooth connectivity for your smartphone. For ease of use, access any of these services along with Cruise Control using buttons found on the steering wheel.

Another segment-first is the Push Button Ignition proving that Nissan will do what it takes to provide its customers with unparalleled convenience.

Easily accessible functional trays and storage spaces are ergonomically placed for personal belongings and electronic devices.

“Nissan pickups are not just vehicles, they are the lifeblood of communities, and we are catering to that need by improving the much-loved pick-up. With 80 years of heritage, providing technologies comes as natural as possible. Nissan lives on the promise of providing innovation that excites and that’s what we have been doing,” said Antonio Zara, NPI President and Managing Director.

It set the bar before, now it’s doing it again. The next generation pick-up is finally here, the All-New Nissan NP300 Navara.

Pricing

The All-New NP300 is available in Savanna Orange, Galaxy Black, Brilliant Silver and Alpine White.

Introductory price set at:
PhP 1,490,000 4×4 VL 7-Speed
Php 1,421,000 4×4 VL 6-speed M/T
Php 1,256,000 4×4 EL 6-speed M/T
Php 1,108,000 4×2 EL 7-speed A/T Calibre
Php 1,038,000 4×2 EL 6-speed M/T Calibre
Php 938,000 4×2 6-speed M/T Calibre
Php 898,000 4×2 6-Speed M/T

Visit your nearest Nissan dealership and get to experience the All-New NP300 Navara. For more information on our products and services, visit our website, at www.nissan.ph.

Nissan Recognizes Top Performers in 2014 NISTEC and NISAC Competition

Manila, Philippines (October 3, 2014) – In line with its commitment to deliver topnotch service, the recently unified Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) held its first Nissan Service Technician Excellence Competency Award (NISTEC) and Nissan Service Advisor Excellence Competency Award (NISAC) National Competition last September 27, 2014 at the Nissan Training and Research Center in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

After being recognized by JD Power Asia Pacific’s 2014 Philippine Customer Service Index (CSI) study by garnering top marks in Customer Satisfaction with Aftersales Service among new vehicle owners, NPI continues to develop and carryout programs that increase the service reliability and competency of its Aftersales workforce.

With the aim to showcase the technical know-how and hands-on ability of Nissan Technicians and the customer relations management of Service Advisors, the 2014 NISTEC and NISAC National Competition aims to lift up the quality of service delivery standards of the whole Aftersales team for the benefit of Nissan customers.

“NISTEC-NISAC is a competition done globally in all countries where Nissan operates. It has been Nissan Motor Co. Limited’s program for more than 20 years,” said Mr. Antonio Zara, President and Managing Director of NPI. “Part of the JD Power criteria involves the competences of the Service Technicians and Service Advisors in achieving the over-all satisfaction of the customers. With this competition, we at NPI, aim to further improve the skills and capabilities of our Service Technicians and Service Advisors. We also want to encourage them to give the best kind of service our Nissan customers deserve,” Mr. Zara added.

Nissan now has a total of 217 Service Technicians and 59 Service Advisors nationwide. Through a series of rigorous sets of examinations in the pre-qualifying round, 12 finalists emerged as the strong contenders for the final competition. The six Service Technician and six Service advisor finalists were certified by Nissan Sales Technician Education Program (N-STEP) Nissan Sales Advisor Education Program (N-SAP) respectively.

In order to assess their skills, the NISTEC finalists underwent three rounds of practical exercises: Engine Diagnosis, Electrical Diagnosis and Repair, and Chassis Maintenance and Trouble Shooting; while the NISAC finalists were tested through a series of role plays for Receiving Process, Repair Authorization, and Delivery Process.

In photo: (From left) Nissan Philippines, Inc.(NPI) Parts and Logistics Officer, Mr. Vincent Alejaga, NISTEC Champion, Mr. Ariel Lobrido of Nissan Bacolod, NISAC Champion, Mr. Aldrin Mendez of Nissan North EDSA, NPI General Manager for Aftersales, Mr. Abner Berdos, NPI National Service Manager, Mr. Fritz Jingco

Mr. Ariel Lobrido of Nissan Bacolod proved that he is the Service Technician with the highest level of technical knowledge bagging the title of the Top Performer for NISTEC category. Mr. Lobrido started out as an on-the-job trainee in 2003 and has been with Nissan Bacolod ever since. “I am very happy with Nissan and I am thankful to always have the support of our management. I am also grateful for Nissan have provided me with helpful trainings and seminars to enhance our technical knowledge and skills required in our field,” said Mr. Lobrido.

Meanwhile, Nissan North EDSA’s Aldrin Mendez catered the best service experience, making him the top Service Advisor. Mr. Mendez has been with Nissan for 11 years, working with three service centers including Nissan Middle East for two years. “Being a service advisor is a challenging task but I found my passion in what I do. In Nissan, this is where I experienced growth and where my career flourished and I am very thankful for that,” Mr. Mendez added.

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About Nissan Philippines, Inc.
Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) is the sole national sales company of Nissan in the Philippines which started operations in 2014. NPI is responsible for strengthening brand, marketing and sales strategy, and dealer operations in the Filipino market.

Nissan ranked the highest in customer satisfaction with aftersales service among new vehicle owners according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2014 Philippines Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.

For more information on our products and services, visit our website at www.nissan.ph.

Mango-ong: Establishing mall presence for the humble street snack

The original article was published at Entrepreneur Philippines.

Mango-ong__Establishing_mall_presence_for_the_humble_street_snack_-_Franchising_-_Entrepreneur_Philippines

 


At one point in your life, you surely have indulged (out of craving or curiosity) in that quintessential Filipino street food treat, the ‘
mangga-at-bagoong‘ combo. Simply imagining the crisp crunch of the green mango, complemented by the salty umami of the bagoong (native condiment made of fermented fish/shrimp and salt) can make anyone salivate for a bite.

As a snack item, not much can get any simpler or cheaper than that; however, how can one enjoy it without experiencing the setbacks of the odoriferous after-effects of indulging in it?

Jessie Cutillas, Chief Executive Officer of Mango-ong recounts how he and his business partners launched this best-selling street food into a mall staple by hurdling the crucial smell factor.

“With the help of a good friend, I listened to his suggestion on how to get rid of the smell of bagoong.  Just by doing that, we were able to enter the malls after persuading the operators that our products won’t smell or attract flies,” Cutillas recounted. By upgrading the humble product into a ‘sosyal’ snack, the upscale mall market started to embrace it, so much so that by early 2014, the company was able to open five more branches in different malls in quick succession.

Identifying key failure points

But why franchise with Mango-ong? Cutillas cites the business’ proven track record, having one of the lowest cash-out business opportunities and continuous support to franchisees via training in sales and marketing. 

“We offer reasonable packages, plus we conduct free monthly meetings and consultations,” he said. 
    
From there, he relates how he learned the hard way what it’s like to run and fail a business. Cutillas cites the following key failure points for most neophyte businesspeople:

•    Failure to pay close attention to business procedures: one incurs higher operating costs when he does not follow established steps in putting up a business.

•    Failure to monitor the staff: losses can be incurred by acts of pilferage, stock waste, and so on.
•    Failure to do the math: a basic understanding of how to compute for business returns can help the entrepreneur plan his business better.
•    Failure to take the initiative in improving the business: never rely solely on the franchisor to do everything for you.

Tips for success

To make it easy for the first-time entrepreneur, Cutillas gave the following pointers for success. First, put God above all.

Second, be open-minded and at the same time, be a good listener. “Attend seminars, trainings. Find time and make the effort to learn how to further improve your business,” he emphasized.  He reminded that it was by listening that he found the secret to making Mango-ong stink-free and therefore, acceptable to majority of the mall market.

Third, be a positive thinker. “But remember to always ground yourself in reality,” he said. Then, find a good supplier/contractor, who will play a big factor in making your business succeed. Lastly, remember that monitoring is important. “Write down your dreams and aspirations, and make a road map of what you want. Then go back to it to redirect your path, but never lose sight of your goal,” he advises.

For franchise inquiries, check out the online directory listing of Mango-ong here

 

Revisiting the Baguio of Our Memories

The first time I visited Baguio, I was already in college. I qualified for the university paper, and as part of our training, we were sent to the City of Pines to undergo a writing workshop.

It wasn’t hard to fall for Baguio’s charms. In between re-learning about the inverted triangle of news reporting, how to decipher proofreader’s marks, how to proofread, what are the different newspaper style guides, and so on, my fellow student journalists and I checked out the tourist traps and the rustic restaurants. Session Road was then not yet jam-packed with traffic, and taxis roamed sans air conditioning. Over all these, the scent of pine served as an olfactory reminder of the memories we were busily creating of those moments.

But sadly, in the two decades that I’ve been away from the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio has slowly been eaten up by development under the guise of creeping urbanization. The Baguio of yore is disappearing under the onslaught of tourist kitsch and crass commercialism, save for the memories of those who live there and those who have made it their getaway home.

Before this backdrop of Baguio’s seeming fall from tourism grace comes “The Baguio We Know”, a collection of essays of Baguio’s residents, habitués, and lovers, all who write about a strong attachment to the once lofty city, a place where one takes in a different kind of rejuvenation of the soul. These essays show a Baguio “that is much more than the handmaiden to tourism that some may falsely believe is the answer to this city’s ultimate salvation,” noted by the book’s editor, Grace Celeste Subido.

Readers will be struck by the different recollections recounted by the contributing writers. From roadside restaurants frequented by writers, to tiny cafés whose walls hold the thousands of stories exchanged by strangers and friends alike, down to casual chess competitions in Burnham Park to taking slow afternoon walks up and down Session Road, there seems to be a place and a story of every activity and a chance of everyone to do what they want.

And food! Cecile Afable, the late media doyenne and editor of the Baguio Midland Courier, shared recipes for tapuey and pinoneg (among others); these served as the palate’s memory-keeper for those who are lucky enough to have partaken of this drink and dish that is flavored with a distinctly northern taste.

And there are those places whose mention conjures the sights, sounds and flavors of Baguio: Star Café. The Mile-Hi in John Hay. Café by the Ruins. Rose Bowl. Café Amapola. One can take a gustatory trip around the world just by walking around and checking out the restaurants.

Those who make the pilgrimage every summer, or move to plant new roots in this upland capital will find the magic that lends Baguio its ethereal, eternal charm. Coming home to Baguio can be as simple as watching storeowners unload the day’s vegetables onto a cart and into their market stall. Home is a fire roaring in the fireplace, the smoke mingling with the redolence of pine wafting through your room’s windows. Home is the courteous Baguio cabbies who return the change. Home is the fog that rolls in, regular as clockwork, in the afternoon, changing your breath into puffs of visible air in the chill weather.

Stay long enough, and you will soon realize that, yes, Baguio is home.

*** This article originally appeared in now
defunct ManilaSpeak.com ***

Catching a Glimpse of the Muslim Soul

During my brief stint as a college teacher, one of the subjects I handled was Philippine Literature. In an effort to show that our regions are rich in stories, one of the places I looked to was Mindanao. Having visited the islands before, I wanted my students to go beyond the vistas, the durian and the kris, and see who the Muslim Filipino is. The story I assigned for discussion was “Blue Blood of the Big Astana” by Ibrahim Jubaira, whose story is the most frequently included in anthologies.

As I recall, the discussion went well in one class; however, I was struck by a student’s comment that he wished there were more stories of Muslim Filipinos, as he apparently had distant relations in Mindanao. I can still remember how he wistful he looked, his eyes eloquent with the unexpressed questions in his search for family and identity.

One of the books that could have helped him was released by Anvil Publishing, Inc.. Titled “The Many Ways of Being Muslim: Fiction by Muslim Filipinos” and edited by Coeli Barry, this landmark collection brings together a range of short fiction written by Muslim Filipinos over nearly seven decades, beginning in the 1940s. As these stories reflect, Muslims in the predominantly Catholic Philippines have helped define the contemporary Filipino identity and intellectual life in rich and varied ways.

These 22 stories provide the reader with glimpses of various facets of the Muslim Filipino. From the ironic yet humorous twist in Jubaira’s tale of “Bird in a Cage”, the tragic reality that usually winds up as headline fodder of Elin Anisha Guro’s “The Homecoming”, to the clash of tradition with modern times in “Panggud” by Calbu Asain, this collection of tales show how political conflict, uneven economic development and socio-cultural and religious movements underscore the forces that shaped the development of fiction writing from this region.

As to how ‘Muslim’ this collection of writing is, Barry notes in her Introduction: “The ways in which Muslim identities are revealed in this volume is related to the complex ways members of this minority have assimilated themselves or been kept apart from dominant cultural and political life in the Philippines. Muslim Filipino identities are not uncontested, least of all by those who embrace them, nor are they fixed across time. The writers of this anthology demonstrate the diversity of meanings being Muslim Filipino can have.”

***This article originally appeared in now defunct ManilaSpeak.com***

 

Motherhood Statements: Remembering the First Lady in Our Life

Nanay, mom, mama, nay, inay, mommy, mudra. Many are the names used to call the woman who carried us for nine months, and nurtured us for the rest of our lives until her very last breath. And she is the subject of the book “Motherhood Statements” from Anvil Publishing.

Edited by Rica Bolipata-Santos and Cyan Abad-Jugo, this collection of essays from 30 writers paid homage to the first lady of their lives. Some recollections discussed the dynamics between the writers and their mothers, such as Gilda Cordero-Fernando’s making sense of her relationship with her mom (who is seen as playing the bad guy in her eyes). Others talked about being mothered by others, such as the poignant essay of Shakira Andrea Sison’s “The Santol Tree”; or the intellectual yet funny observations of Mookie Katigbak Lacuesta in relation to her son and his yaya in “Mothers and Other Bilingual Animals”. Even non- traditional families, like a two-mommy household, is discussed in April Timbol Yap’s “Not One But Two”.

Even sons got into the act, with their varied remembrances tinged with exasperated fondness, heroine-worship, and the understanding acceptance of moms as all- too-human women. It was a treat to read the likes of Gemino Abada, Charlson Ong, Ambeth Ocampo, and Ian Rosales Casocot talk about their mothers through the prism of love.

But it was Mari Jina Andaya’s “Living With Mom” and FH Batacan’s “To A Friend Who is Losing Her Mother” that struck a nerve too close to home for me. Andaya’s piece is reminiscent of wry remembrances of wishing our mothers would tone down their incessant observations/reminders/outright nagging from their breaking-the-sound-barrier level. After Andaya recalls a particular high-decibel lecture, she writes, “Where in the world can you find an alarm clock that sounds like that? AND IT COMES WITH A BUILT-IN MOTHER!” But alas, the alarm clock that is her mother soon disappeared with the advent of Alzheimer’s disease, which consumed not only her memory, but also her feistiness and her lust for life. Andaya’s essay was a moving remembrance to her mother’s memory.

Batacan, on the other hand, writes an epistle to a friend, answering a lot of questions that most children will eventually have to face when it comes to their aging parents. Amidst the advice about health care and dealing with the unexpected, there are also words on things to tell one’s mother as the days speed by, even words about the seemingly unimportant. The most important thing, writes Batacan, is just “to tell her.”

In the end, however, “Motherhood Statements” celebrates the full spectrum of mothers and mothering. As the book’s introduction put it, “At the heart of the universe is the truth that all things come through a mother. That truth colors all our ideas of mothering and being mothered, or, in some cases, smothered.”

***This article originally appeared in now defunct ManilaSpeak.com***

Post-Storm Musings: After the Storm, Stories on Ondoy

After the devastation wrought by Yolanda, I sometimes wonder if we ever learn our lessons in preparing for these yearly disasters. True, man can only hope of controlling Mother Nature the same way King Canute dreamed of holding back the waves. But given the regular visits of these catastrophes, it is truly a puzzlement why we’ve yet to become proactive instead of being reactive in these times of disasters. That is why even after four years, I find After the Storm: Stories on Ondoy by Anvil Publishing still relevant in today’s times.

Edited by Elbert Or, the essays in this compilation were mostly written in the midst of and immediately after the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009. In his Introduction, Or writes, “All of these essays are collected here to serve as a written record to remind everyone that Ondoy happened. That if we are not careful to learn from our experiences, then another disaster may find us unprepared yet again.”

Seeing how these were written during, before, or immediately in the aftermath of the storms, the quality of the essays wasn’t even. Oh, there were gems amidst the collection, starting off with poetic “The Last” by Ruel S. De Vera. Reading how a former favorite volume rose in the floodwaters to float off, in the company of the writer’s other books, triggered in me a similar memory so painful that it was almost a visceral blow. My entire library of 16 years drowned in the torrent of Talayan Creek water in less than 30 minutes. I never thought I’d see the day where hardbound books would be doing the butterfly stroke in the flood, or that a lesbian literary classic would freestyle its way to the bottom of the swollen creek.

But if this writer thought that opening salvo was painful, it was the recounting of MVX Ong of his family’s ordeal in”Nakapanlulumo” that made me want to weep in the face of his remembered fear, rage, helplessness and a maelstrom of other emotions during those perilous hours. Written in Filipino, his essay captured the gritty reality of trying to fight back against the fury of the relentless rain and the rising flood–and the determination to succeed.

Luis Buenaventura II tackles a diametrically opposite viewpoint in his “An Unpopular Opinion on Volunteerism”. In his short piece, he logically argues his point on how help could be better done by staying where one is, and donating his earnings for the day directly to the aid effort instead of spending his man-hours’ potential income bagging food and clothes. Or, in other words, maximizing one’s resources that are immediately on hand.

Other contributors of the book include Cathy Babao Guballa, Ramil Digal Gulle, Rene B. Javellana, SJ, Jim Paredes, Mar Roxas, MRR Arcega, Tania Arpa, Javier Bengzon, benignO, Arvin de Leon, Zarah Gagatiga, Norman Clarence T. Lasam, Gabriella Lee, Stefan Saurez, Fidelis Tan, Martin Villanueva, and Lawrence Ipil.

After the Storm: Stories on Ondoy is available at National Bookstore.

***This article originally appeared in now defunct ManilaSpeak.com***