In celebration of 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines Filipino World Community gifts Pope Francis with Oro Artist’s Painting

Pope Francis received an unexpected gift from the Filipino Christian World Community when he celebrated mass on 14 March 2021 at 10:00 AM (Rome time) (5:00 PM Manila time), at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter at St. Peter’s Basilica, to commemorate the 500th Year of the coming of Christianity to the Philippines.

Among the 10 concelebrants was His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle (Prefect, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples). The Philippines is the world’s third largest Catholic country (after Brazil and Mexico) and has the largest number of English-speaking Catholics. Some 60% of Asian Catholics are Filipinos.

In his Homily during the mass, the Holy Father celebrated the joy the Filipinos have brought and continue to bring to the world through their Christian Faith.

“Dear brothers and sisters, five hundred years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel: the good news that God so loved us that he gave his Son for us. And this joy is evident in your people. We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands.”

“I have often said that here in Rome Filipino women are smugglers of faith! Because wherever they go to work, they sow the faith. It is part of your genes, a blessed infectiousness that I urge you to preserve. Keeping bringing the faith, the good news you received 500 years ago, to others.”

“I want to thank you, then, for the joy you bring to the whole world and to our Christian communities. I think, as I mentioned, of the many beautiful experiences in families here in Rome – but also throughout the world – where your discreet and hardworking presence became a testimony of faith. In the footsteps of Mary and Joseph, for God loves to bring the joy of faith through humble, hidden, courageous and persevering service.”

In response, Cardinal Tagle attributed the joy the Filipinos bring to the world through their Christian faith which majority of Filipinos have embraced and imbued with a Filipino character, as a gift from God.

Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle addresses a message to Pope Francis during a mass to mark 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, March 14, 2021. Tiziana Fabi/Pool via REUTERS

“The coming of the Christian faith to our land is God’s gift. That the Christian faith was received by majority of our people and given by them a Filipino character is God’s gift,” Cardinal Tagle said in his message to Pope Francis during the mass.“Now the Philippines has the third largest number of Catholics in the world. This is truly God’s gift. We attribute the enduring faith of the Filipino people only to God’s love, mercy, and fidelity, not to any merit of our own.”

In a photo feature from Hugot Seminarista, Fr. Ricky Gente, Chaplain of the Sentro Filippino Roma,
disclosed that a family gifted Pope Francis with a painting celebrating 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines in behalf of all Filipino Christians the world over.

Originally an entry to the recently concluded Quincentennial Painting Competition, the painting by Cagayan de Oro-based artist Ryan Aristotle A. Carreon  shows Ferdinand Magellan presenting an image of Sto. Niño to Hara Humanay (Doña Juana) after the latter was baptized.

“My entry aims to give fresh/new visual representations to key events in the Philippines on 1521 using existing narratives and recent findings by modern scholars/historians,” Carreon said in a post describing his paining on his social media account.

Then, unknowingly gazing into the future, he continued: “It would mean the world to me if the Holy Father in Rome gets to see/hold a picture of this work one day, and see how the love affair of the Cebuanos to the icon of the Infant Jesus began 500 years ago.”

Though his entry didn’t win the competition, by a fortunate stroke of serendipity, Carreon got to see his wish come true when his painting was presented to the pope following the March 14 Holy Mass celebrating the 500 years of the coming of Christianity to the Philippines.

“This is a gift to the Pope made possible by some generous donors who acquired the work in behalf of the Filipino Catholic Christians across the globe –in celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines,” Carreon said.

“I thank the Lord for blessing me with a generous group of friends who made this childhood dream come into reality. From the donors who prefer to remain anonymous, and friends who helped me do all the necessary preparations for the turnover. and to Msgr. Limchua and Fr . Gente for this wonderful opportunity, maraming salamat po.”

Remarked Carreon’s friend Lionel Dosdos, “Truly, this is the meaning of God working in mysterious ways, the painting wasn’t meant to win the art competition because it was meant for a greater purpose.  Congratulations again Ryan Carreón Aragón!!!”

Eyewitnesses said the Pope was delighted with the painting and remarked, “Bello e impressionante!” (Beautiful and impressive!).

The nun who handed the painting to Pope Francis explained to him the context of the illustration as well as its description inscribed in the back personally by Carreon.

According to Carreon’s social media post describing the painting, some historians have inferred that the presentation of the icon of the Infant Jesus to Hara Humanay (Doña Juana) was more of a private event than the festive ceremony that some attribute to the origin of Cebu’s famous Sinulog Festival.

This is explicitly described in the account of Magellan’s Italian chronicler Antonio Pigafetta who wrote that there were eyewitnesses to this event since it happened during one of the morning masses that were held in Cebu on 1521 which the queen attended.

Carreon further said it is a common misconception that the queen was given the image of Sto. Niño on the day of her baptism.

“Yes, she was shown 3 religious images but that’s actually part of her introduction to Christianity (Catechism), and if these are all meant to be given as gifts, the Captain General would have given them to her right there and then, but he did not. In fact, the queen had to beg for the beautifully dressed image of the Sto Nino on top the altar, together with the other icons believed to be the busto of the Ecce Homo and the Virgen de la Cotta.”

Religious icons like these are visual representations of some biblical texts and were used as visual aids by the early missionaries to indoctrinate those who can’t read, write, and understand Latin.

“I thought it’s about time ( since we’re celebrating the Quincentennial of Christianity in the Philippines) that the two other icons are given recognition after being hidden for many years. That’s our work and contribution as artists, to fill in the gaps with visual narratives in areas of our history that are vague or needs update,” the artist added.

Carreon is best known in Cagayan de Oro as the artist who did the drawings for the now Church of the Inmaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier Ateneo) while still a third year undergraduate student in Development Communication at  the XU College of Agriculture.

The artist Ryan Aristotle Aragon Carreon with another of his works, the “Mary’s Windows” stained glass windows in the Inmaculate Conception Church of the VIrgin Mary at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro CIty.

Known as “Mary’s Windows” the stained glass windows project was jointly undertaken by then Xavier Ateneo President Fr. Ting Samson, S.J. and Roland Peter Kraut of Kraut Art Glass. You can read more about Mary’s Windows by clicking here.

Fr. Samson was greatly impressed with  a water color painting of a Filipina Madonna and Child done by Carreon  exhibited at a Circulo de Arte affair at Xavier University in 2002.

The Artist Ryan Aristotle Aragon Carreon

The artist traces his penchant for religious paintings and iconography to his early childhood in Malabon where a cousin would bring him to the Sacred Heart Church in Tugatog, where he recalls drawing a figure of the Virgin Mary with a black pencil when he was two or three years old.

Although he often doodled through the years, it was not until 1994 when Carreon joined a Munting Daliri workshop where he began to learn how to handle water color, pastel and even oil. 

Before the family moved to Cagayan de Oro City in 1994, he visited Sto. Domingo Church (the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Naval), in Quezon City where he enjoyed the huge stained glass windows by National Artist, modernist Galo Ocampo.  “I was twelve at that time, just sitting there, and dreaming, ‘One day, gagawa ako ng ganyan!”

After Carreon was chosen to paint the drawings for the stained glass windows at the XU Chapel, Fr. Samson brought him to Manila to look at stained glass windows and visit art museums in Manila. He also introduced him to Kraut Art Glass. 

“We visited Kraut Art Glass’ workshops in Pasay City, various Manila museums; we went to Angono, Rizal to visit the workshops of the late National Artist Botong Francisco and the galleries of Nemiranda and the Blancos to help me see their works and hopefully inspire me in mine.”  “I really wanted to visit the works of Botong Francisco: he has been my inspiration for these stained glass windows.”

LAMANO Poderosa (The All-Powerful Hand of God) by Ryan Carreon exhibited during the 2014 edition of Kristo Manila.

Carreon’s religious themed paintings have also been exhibited in prestigious events such as the annual Kristo Manila art exhibit  inspired by the Passion of the Christ, which aims to raise awareness about cultural heritage, particularly the role played by Christian iconography in Philippine culture and the arts.

“This is art and culture that truly evolves and endures. Ecclesiastical art and Christian iconography have a rich history. When we visit our churches, many of them centuries old, we sometimes forget that the images, from the retablos to the frescos on the ceilings and walls, are contributions to the history of local ecclesiastical art, and they must be included in conservation efforts being made for the church structures,” said Fr. Harold Rentoria, head of the NCCA-SCH, who graced the 2014 exhibit launch joined by Carreon. “It is heartwarming that artists continue to embrace this genre using their own contemporary styles.”

“Gifted To Give that’s the message of this year’s celebration. Men and Women for others,” Carreon said following the avalanche of greetings and praise from well-wishers all over the world exalting the essence and timeliness of the message shown in his painting as the Philippines celebrates 500 years of Christianity in the country.

The painting by Oro Artist Ryan Aristotle Carreon gifted to Pope Francis by the Filipino Catholic Community in Rome.


Xavier Ateneo to consolidate two grade school campuses into Pueblo Basic Education Complex

Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan will be consolidating the Xavier University Grade School campuses at Macasandig and Pueblo de Oro into one.

Xavier Ateneo President Fr. Mars Tan, S.J.

“The Grade School consolidation is good news,” said Xavier Ateneo President Fr. Mars Tan S.J. in his message during a recent XUGS convocation. “This plan will be carried out beginning in April this year and will be implemented in phases until 2023 or even beyond.”

The One XUGS Consolidation is part of the university’s strategic plan in pursuit of its educational mission and vision of “becoming a leading ASEAN university forming leaders of character by 2033.”

“The consolidation is strategic, sustainable, and it will pave the way to a more systematic and organized XU Grade School,” Fr. Tan noted.

“This will not happen automatically; we all have to work together to translate the consolidation gains into a more systematic and efficient GS operation.”

XU will not merely focus on the physical transfer of its faculty and non-teaching personnel, but on curriculum development and the construction of additional infrastructure as well to enable it to deliver excellent 21st-century education, and provide a more conducive learning environment for its students, teachers, and parents alike.

Full integration by SY 2022-2023

By School Year (SY) 2022-2023, the consolidated XUGS will be fully integrated into the XU Basic Education Complex in the Pueblo Campus, along with the Pre-school, Junior High, and Senior High School (Academic Track and ALGCIT).

Xavier Ateneo Sports Centre. Photo courtesy of Project LUPAD.

This would make access by all XUGS pupils easier to the Xavier Ateneo Sports Centre with its track oval, seven-lane swimming pool, and various game courts, as well as the Manresa Campus along Fr. William Masterson Avenue.

Fr. Tan assured parents they don’t have to worry about the immediate implications of the consolidation since it would not require their children to return to campus anytime soon while the IATF prohibitions and safety protocols are still being enforced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“XUGS is implementing online classes for this school year (SY2020-2021) and the next (SY2021-2022), so the students will have to stay at home, there is no need to go to the Pueblo campus yet,“ said Dr. Dulce Dawang, XU Vice President for Basic Education.

Xavier Ateneo Grade School Pueblo Campus. (image courtesy of Ivanell Ramonal Subrabas

In-person classes for SY2022-2023 at the Pueblo campus would only commence when permitted by the proper government agencies and upon careful evaluation by the university administration.

“The transition will not be immediate for our pupils because we still have to follow the protocols of the government,” Dr Dawang stressed. “We only hope that by SY2022-2023, we will be able to cater up to 50% of our students at any given time, as part of the Cautious Return to Campus and XU’s Flexible Learning Program.”

Memories in XUGS Macasandig

As XUGS Macasandig gradually transitions uptown, the administration will study the next uses of XUGS Macasandig since other higher education units are interested to develop it as their own campus.

Xavier Ateneo Grade School – Macasandig Campus

“As of this time, there is no definite plan yet, but we will be subjecting it to further studies and evaluations so we can optimize the next use of the Macasandig campus,” Fr. Tan noted. “We will still use our facilities in Macasandig, particularly the XUGS Auditorium.”

The university president has also acknowledged the various concerns shared by the XUGS faculty and staff during the convocation’s open forum.

“There are still other important things to look at and consider in the GS consolidation, such as the memories of your many years in the GS Macasandig campus that we won’t be able to bring with us completely to the new campus. We in the administration recognize that and we would like to work with you on how we can manage well this potential emotional impact on us.”

Fr.Tan hopes parents would welcome this good news for their children and see the advantages of a “reimagined XU Grade School.”

As soon as the various committees will be formed, the university president assured the XUGS community, including parents and alumni, that consultations will be conducted to address their concerns and ensure the consolidation is successful.

“We will have a series of small group discussions to consult you on how to do this better,” .

“There is a committee to take the lead in the planning, but it won’t just be the work of the committee, we want you to be involved because the new consolidated GS is your new project, your new school, your new home.”


(Cover photo courtesy of Ivanell Ramonal Subrabas)

Seaweed Industry Development agency for Bangsamoro pushed

Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament Bill No. 84 (also known as the Seaweed Industry Development Act,) seeks the creation of the Seaweed Industry Development Authority in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to support an industry that has already proven to be one of the region’s strengths. 

Member of Parliament (MP) Amir Mawallil filed the proposed measure before the Bangsamoro Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, March 16. 

MP Amir Mawallil, Bangsamoro Parliament

“We know that there is an ongoing health crisis brought by the pandemic. But it is also important to note that we should not waste time. We need to craft economic policies that will help spur the region’s economic growth and generate employment. We also know that seaweed is one of the region’s economic strengths that we can leverage. We must invest in this,” MP Mawallil stressed.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that seaweed farming in the Bangsamoro region in 2019 yielded 696,765.74 metric tons, with an estimated market value of P6 billion. This regional aquaculture crop contributed a significant 45 percent of the total seaweed production of the Philippines in the same year. In 2020, the seaweed output of the country contributed 33 percent of total fisheries production.

The seaweed aquaculture sector in the Philippines is highly export-oriented, with its bulk being exported to the United States, European countries and China. The Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines said other countries which buy sizeable volumes of seaweeds from the Philippines include Mexico, Australia, Russia, Indonesia, South Korea, Argentina, Vietnam, UAE, Chile, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The Philippines is one of the world’s main suppliers of seaweed. (BORGEN Magazine)

Seaweed is used in several products: As thickening/gelling for food products; in meat processing, particularly in sausages and processed fish; clarifying alcohol; pharmaceuticals and dentistry; the health and beauty industries; soil fertilizers; textile printing; as a substrate in bacterial cultures; water filtration; and livestock and fishery diets. Its use as a source of biofuel is also being explored and developed.

Seaweed farming can provide both food and fuel (

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources or BFAR reported that seaweed industry in the country employs between 100,000 and 120,000 people, where 90% are seaweed farmers and the rest are seaweed processors and traders. The country’s major producer is the Bangsamoro region’s Tawi-Tawi province. 

Seaweed farming is a better way for some fishing families to earn a living. (British Council Philippines)

The Seaweed Industry Development Act is primarily a recognition of the enormous potential the industry holds—not only in developing regional communities, but in positioning the BARMM as a competitive partner in building the Philippine economy. This bill seeks to promote and advance what is viewed as traditional/cultural when addressing modern-day issues on productivity, food security, job creation, and poverty alleviation.

The creation of the Seaweed Industry Development Authority (SIDA) through this measure is an assurance that enough attention will be given to the sector’s development.

The proposed SIDA will take the development of the seaweed industry using a multifaceted approach through plans and policies, cooperation, promotion of the sciences, and infrastructure development, as well as economic and social development.

As envisioned in the bill, the SIDA would take the lead in formulating plans, managing of facilities, organizing communities and cooperatives, and facilitating human resource development. The bill also emphasizes the importance of scientific research and micro-financing for the development of the industry.

A seaweed farm in Tawi-Tawi, considered the Seaweeds Capital of the Philippines and Carrageenan Capital of the World.
(Inday Diaries)

The principal office of the SIDA will be located strategically in Tawi-Tawi Province, which is the largest producer of seaweed in the country. 

The SIDA will have a policy-making board led by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian reform and with the Minister of Science and Technology as Vice-chair. Its members will be composed of the Minister of Trade, Investment and Tourism; the Director General of the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority; representatives from seaweed farmers’ organization; and representatives from the seaweed processing and export sector.The development of the seaweed industry will form an integral part of the Bangsamoro Regional Development Plan.     


MDNN Digital Network launches 2021 station ID

There’s no stopping the continued innovations and technology updates made by Mindanao Daily Publishing Corporation President and Publisher Dante M. Sudaria, as part of the company’s massive growth to immerse itself with the 21st century’s emerging technology and the worldwide web.

MDDN Teleradyo Program Anchors and Hosts (courtesy of The Explorer’s Channel)

After the successful launch of its digital network MDNN Teleradyo, the Sudaria Group of Companies also presented its Station ID for Year 2021. The station ID was first introduced during the March 11th grand launch of MDNN Teleradyo.

Kailangan pud nato ang station ID kay kini makatabang kaayo sa atong promotion sa airwaves ug apil na usab sa internet. Name recall lang ang kailangan para mahibaw-an sa katawhan ug ilabina sa atong loyal supporters and patrons nga ania ang atong presensya,” the MDNN founder and president said.

Mindanao Daily News Network Founder & CEO Dante M. Sudaria.

Sudaria said it will be the first Teleradyo station ID all over Mindanao and maybe in the Visayas Region. “Sukad masukad wala paman kita makadungog nga ang usaka teleradyo adunay station ID. We are the first in Mindanao so we are proud of this development. We are now going global so we need to innovate and use the latest technology not to be left behind.” 

WCKDS and KELS performing the MDDN Teleradyo Station ID as filmed by Nostalgia Digital Film.

The digital jingle was made possible by WCKDS AND KELS and  filmed by NOSTALGIA DIGITAL FILM.

“We are hoping that Mindanaoans will like this station ID and be proud of what we have in Mindanao. We have vast cultures and traditions we can be proud of, and we also have the best delicacies undiscovered by many people outside of Mindanao. In fact, we have a lot to offer to all tourists and travelers all over the globe,” Sudaria noted.


Time Traveling Mindanao with Cucina Higala’s Heritage Dishes

Since March 13, 2021, it’s now possible to time travel the island of Mindanao, and in one sitting at that!

That’s when Cagayan de Oro’s Cucina Higala introduces its latest Mindanao Heritage Dishes. If you’re up to it, you can travel in time in one sitting from Jolo, Sulu, straight to Maguindanao (formerly a part of Cotabato), up to Lanao del Sur, then up to the mountain fastness of the island where indigenous peoples still prepare dishes the traditional way.

On March 11 we were invited by the Cucina Higala team of Jan and Magz Uy, Joe Jake Almodobar and Donna Ocampo to sample their five latest Mindanao Heritage Dishes. I joined Nicole Abas Datayan of NikiTV, Narz Moria of Travelvlogsph, my CDOBie Maria Irene Aserios of Meets the World.

Like all Mindanao Heritage Dishes in its menu which they’ve been featuring since 2018, Cucina Higala’s latest lineup features the same meticulous research, experimentation and enhancing the heritage of Mindanao’s indigenous peoples without desecrating their traditional taste and preparation.

Of course, since I originally come from Zamboanga City, I made a beeline for a hometown favorite of my hometown, the classic Tausug dish often served at weddings and celebrations best described by a former colleague from Business World and now an MP in the BARMM Legislative Assembly, Amir Mawallil in an article from Esquire Magazine Philippines:

“Tiyulah itum, also called tiyula sug, is a very special dish with a black soup served at weddings, and is a mainstay at most other celebrations. It is black, or a greenish–dark gray color from the burnt coconut that is added to create the dish’s distinct flavor. Burnt coconut is an ingredient that is used often in the Tausug culinary environment.”

“The meat used for tiyulah itum is rubbed with pamapa (burnt coconut paste and spices that may include pounded ginger and garlic). The beef is braised with fried onion and garlic, then turmeric, ginger, and chopped galangal (langkuwas) are added, along with broth, then simmered. The process of preparing tiyulah itum is communal, and it is usually the menfolk who cook this dish in most of the Tausug villages in Sulu Archipelago and Zamboanga Peninsula.”

Of course, Cucina Higala’s version is a tad different, most prominently since it consists mainly of Bukidnon Wagyu Beef, served with coconut milk enriched with burnt coconut flavored broth, with lemon grass, galangal and lime accents.

I assure you Cucina Higala’s take retains the classic taste I’ve been used to in Zamboanga, with the ingredients differing a bit only since the one I’ve been used to back in ZC also includes beef ribs and bones.

Another classical Mindanao Heritage Dish among Cucina Higala’s newest I’m familiar with is Chicken Piyaparan known among Meranaws as manuk a piaparan, pipaparanpiaran,or  piarun. Piaparan means shredded coconut in Maranao and is a type of ginataan.

This has two main ingredients: a coconut milk-based broth with grated coconut, garlic, onions, ginger, coconut, garliconionsgingerturmeric, young wild shallots with leaves (sakurab), labuyo chili, and various vegetables and spiced with palapa.

Similarly inspired by the traditional Meranaw Dish, Cucina Higala’s rendition is tossed in savory, roasted coconut, and topped with mild green chilies, and of course the aroma from sakurab (the main ingredient of palapa). A labor of love indeed!

Moving up north from Western Mindanao, we next time travel to Maguindanao, where we encountered what to many of us was the surprise dish among the new set: Dinilutan A Seda.

I said surprised because the fish used for this dish is the Mudfish (Channa striata, known as Aluan in Maguindanao, Haluan in Cebuano and Dalag in most parts of the Philippines).

Decades ago when the city was still sparsely populated, the neighborhood kids could easily catch this from drainage canals and stagnant waters and fry it for lunch or supper.  However, these days it seems its much harder to obtain and are now sourced mainly from rivers, streams and rice fields.

Nevertheless, Cucina has taken the classic Dinilutan A Seda and brought together the flavors of sinugba and kinilaw, in their awesome take on Maguindanao gastronomy. Their crispy, deep friend Haluan is served on lime coconut milk dressing, with chilies, green mango strips and roasted coconut.

To enjoy, quarter the fish into bite-sized strips, mix the dressing with the other ingredients to your taste, dip the crispy Haluan, and voila! Pop it into your mouth for an unforgettable carnival of taste!

A quick time travel to India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and especially Thailand shows the fish is also a very popular ingredient for a variety of dishes across Asia such as  a curry made with this fish and tapioca in Kerala and Pla ra, a fermented fish sauce popular in northeastern Thai cuisine, made by pickling Haluan and keeping it for some time. A  Chinese sausage is prepared with common mudfish flesh in Thailand.

Another surprise among Cucina’s New Mindanao Heritage Dishes is their Nangka Randang, a vegan take on the iconic Indonesian Rendang that’s been celebrated in Lanao for decades. Rendang is traditionally a Sumatran dish with slow cooked beef, braised in coconut milk and spices.

In lieu of the usual beef or the even more traditional carabeef, jackfruit or Nangka (known as Langka in Lanao) is simmered in coconut milk, lime lives and other spices. Young jackfruit especially is great for recreating this national Indonesian dish, as it has a meaty texture. I swear I can’t tell the difference with the meat version!

Not the least, Cucina Higala’s latest Mindanao Heritage Dishes salutes traditional Lumad cookery with Nilotlot, their twist on the in-bamboo tube cooking technique used by indigenous peoples all over the archipelago since time immemorial.

Their Bamboo Rice has aromatic sticky rice lavished with seafood, chicken, bamboo shoots, with woodsy hints of caramel and soy, and is a meal in itself!

Revel in this exquisite buffet of creamy coconut milk, fiery spices, green chilies on chicken, seafood, and beef from all around Mindanao with a time travel experience around Mindanao at Cucina Higala today and ask for their Mindanao Heritage Dishes!

 Available for dine-in, take-out, beginning March 13, 2021. For more inquires call Cucina Higala at 0917-7946-118 or (088) 881-1570⠀

?Capistrano-Mabini Streets, Cagayan de Oro City


Region X public school teacher hailed 2020 Brightest STAR by DOST-SEI

A public school teacher from Region X has been cited by the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) for her exemplary work in STEM education with K-12 students.

Honored as one of two Brightest Science Teacher Academy for the Regions (STAR) in an online ceremony on March 3, 2021 was Ms. Janice M. Baldelovar of Don Restituto Baol Central School (DRBCS, (formerly South City Central School) in Gingoog City, Region X for her work in Mathematics education.

Honored in the same ceremony was Mr. Don King O. Evangelista of Navotas National Science High School in the NCR for his Science teaching work.

They each received a cash prize of P100,000, a trophy, and a plaque of recognition.

Spearheaded by the DOST-SEI, the Brightest STAR Award is part of the STAR training program. The award is given to exemplary science and mathematics teachers who have been continuously applying their STAR training in their teaching practice and teaching communities. The citation serves to uplift teachers’ morale cultivate a culture of innovation among teachers.

Department of Education officials, Division Superintendents, Principals, School Heads, and STAR trainers from the 16 participating regions also joined in to witness the said awarding ceremony.

Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones praised all the finalists, lauding their capacity and flexibility to provide high-quality, accessible, and safe  STEM education despite the uncertainties and worries brought on by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. DOST Secretary Fortunato De La Peña underscored this in his message, referring to the finalists as S&T champions and pioneers under the new normal.

“The pandemic has been a big game changer for all of us, particularly in the academe and most especially in STEM education,” said DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette T. Biyo. “And yet, the STAR program continues to live up to its name by being a light and guide for our educators and students, even among our marginalized communities.”

“I warmly congratulate and thank Ms. Baldelovar and Mr. Evangelista for their tireless work for and with our youth. Thank you both for lighting the way, and for being exemplars of the STAR program,” Dr. Biyo concluded.

A total of 70 nominations for the STAR Award were received from the 16 Philippine regions. Of these, only six national finalists were chosen, including Ms. Baldelovar and Mr. Evangelista.

For Mathematics, these were Mr. Mark Joseph C. Pastor of Ilocos Norte College of Trades and Ms. Janeve Caballa of El Salvador Central School.

For Science were Mr. Mark Joseph Cometa of Palina East National High School and Mr. Mark Anthony Leido of San Teodoro National High School.

Each national finalist received a cash prize of P10,000.00 and a plaque of recognition.

For more information on the Science Teacher Academy for the Regions (STAR) program and awards, visit or the Facebook page Science Teacher Academy for the Regions.


Flying the turbulent skies: Lance Gokongwei pilots Cebu Pacific with lessons from his dad

Sometime in the latter 1980s, the late John Gokongwei Jr. (a.k.a Big John) first toyed with the idea of starting his own airline. 

He did not possess any experience in running an airline – yet this did not deter the older Gokongwei, nor did the prospect of going against an established goliath bother him.

It was an upbeat period as the local aviation industry was steadily opening up with the liberalization of air travel. Big John loved to travel and had a fascination for airplanes as a kid.   

The late John Gokongwei, Jr. with Cebu Pacific president & CEO Lance Gokongwei.
(File photo from Dad lessons from Eddie Garcia, Nards Jimenez & John Gokongwei.)

“He was in the United States at that time and read about a low-cost carrier called Southwest. That’s how all this started,” recalls Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei. “He came up to my office one day and said, ‘I started this airline—can you think of anyone who could help?’ For me, that meant he wanted me to help, so that’s what I did.” 

Marking 25 years of flying everyJuan  

Today, Cebu Pacific has come a long way as it marks 25 fruitful years since it first took to the skies in 1996.

In the process, it has fulfilled  Big John’s vision to make air travel accessible to more Filipinos. And while the airline known for offering low fares and great value has encountered its fair share of turbulent skies—not the least of which is the ongoing pandemic that has upended the global airline and tourism sector like never before—it has weathered many challenges under his son Lance’s steady, able leadership.  

This, Lance credits to the many valuable life and business lessons that he picked-up from his dad whom he describes as a classic entrepreneur and a visionary; learnings that guide him every step of the way in running Cebu Pacific and other Gokongwei family interests under JG Summit Holdings.

“All the lessons my dad taught us – he taught not through words, but by example. And the lessons he taught, guide me until now,” Lance said. 

Lessons from Big John 

Even as a successful businessman, Big John never hesitated in seeking advice from others – a firm believer that learning never ends. 

“You can never stop learning from others. Even when you’re the boss or the manager, you will benefit from the ideas of your colleagues,” Lance notes.  

“If necessary, go ahead and tap the expertise of consultants and join industry groups that discuss problems in your field because no matter what challenges arise, make sure to find the solution, even if it doesn’t come from yourself.”  

While musing on the business triumphs of his dad, Lance said in 2019: “’Till today, I think Dad was most successful with businesses that catered to every man, the common man, because that’s who he was himself.” 

Commitment to serve  

Amid the challenges the airline is facing today, Lance is grateful to the passengers and customers who have trusted Cebu Pacific with their lives’ important moments.

“The unwavering support you have given us through the years propels us to pursue new opportunities, to usher #MoreSmilesAhead with everyJuan.”   

Lance stresses Cebu Pacific remains committed to serving the public with utmost safety, convenience, and fun in every flight.

“Our strong team – from the flight crew to the operations team, to those working from home or offices across the network – remain true to their service in making sure you arrive to your destination as safe and comfortable as possible,” he assures.   

“We have witnessed a lot of changes in 25 years – changes that enabled us to grow and reaffirm why we fly. As we celebrate this milestone, our commitment remains: to make the skies accessible for everyJuan of you in the years to come.” 


The Hineleban Coffee Story

Hineleban Coffee was the first endeavor under the Sustainable Disposable Income Crop (SDIC) section of Hineleban Foundation Inc. (HFI).

Eventually, HFI was largely shaped by its experience with the coffee program in partnership with some Indigenous People’s (IP) communities of Bukidnon.

Coffee was the initial crop HFI decided to grow with the IP’s for two main reasons: first, Arabica coffee had been proven to grow well in the region since the 1800’s when Spanish colonists introduced coffee to the Philippines; second, HFI founder John Perrine’s passion for quality coffee had already compiled decades of personal research and development of the Arabica coffee in Tuminugan Farm.

By the time HFI started supplying its partner-farmers with seedlings and inputs to start farming coffee, the dispersed seedlings were varietal hybrids from both Asia and South America established in Tuminugan. 

HIneleban Coffee Nursery (photo by Robert Francisco)

By 2008, Oroy Villara, who had been growing the coffee on Tuminugan Farm for decades, selected cherries from the most successfully fruiting mother plants, propagated thousands of seedlings, and distributed these as the first batch of Hineleban Coffee to our IP partner farmers.

During the same period, Villara trained HFI technicians known as Values Coordinating Officers who in turn trained Hineleban partner farmers, equipping them with production technology to successfully grow the coffee on their own lands. 

However, when the first harvests were made in 2010, the farmers informed HPI they had no buyers for their produce, and did not know how to process the cherries to green beans for storage.  HFI also learned there was no single facility with a complete set of coffee processing equipment to produce quality green or roasted coffee within the region.

The Transformational Business Partnership: Coffee Chapter

At this point, Kalugumanan Agri-Development Corp. (KADC, which had been managing the Tuminugan Farm) financed the building of the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved post-harvest facility in Region X with imported machineries acquired through DTI which could convert cherries to green beans and thence as roasted coffee. This enabled HFI to produce high quality packaged specialty coffee, now known as one of the Philippines’ best arabica coffee.

Coffee processing facility in Tuminugan Farm.

HFI saw this as the way to make growing arabica sustainable for its partner farmers. Optimal profits were shared back to the farmer as partners by increasing the buy-back price of cherries 3 times over its prevailing market price.

Since closing the loop from farmer to processor to consumer, HFI with KADC had been able to buy all the IP farmer’s harvests every year, with 2021 being their 11th year as partners.

Thus began the Transformational Business Partnership (TBP): HINELEBAN- KADC-IP Partner Farmer agreement:

  1. Community relations
  2. Production technology
  3. Harvest technology
  4. Buy back cherries
  5. Adding value: quality control through processing
  6. Marketing: branding, packaging, shipping & distributing the final product
  7. Customer service

To date, this has meant that Hineleban partner farmers have been able to earn up to P150,000 per year for growing one hectare of coffee.

Hineleban partner farmer Agrido Sagonlay shared how, through this partnership, he was able to upgrade his hut to a cemented two story home, sent his children to school, and financed five motorcycles (for his habal-habal business), a jeepney (for public transportation) and a light truck for trucking purposes. 

This is how HFI defines TBP — a true partnership of equals that elevates the dignity of an average farmer to that of a Proud Provider, Sustainable Farmer, and Businessman.


When introducing Hineleban Coffee as a branded product to the public, we realized how hard it was to pronounce and recall the word Hineleban .

To circumvent this, the marketing group launched the Sip and Reforest Campaign through which a forest tree on the foothills of Mount Kitanglad is planted for every pack of Hineleban Coffee purchased.

Hineleban Coffee represented the Philippines along with several other local coffee growers at the 2017 Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Global Expo in Seattle, Washington, USA.

HFI Co-Founder Renée Perrine and Marty Curtis during the 2017 Coffee Global Expo.

Hineleban Coffee was graded by Marty Curtis as EXCELLENT at 86.25%. Curtis is the co-founder of the SCA and inventor of the SCA Coffee Cupping Scoring Sheet, and the Coffee Flavor Wheel.

Significant Contributors

Hineleban Foundation’s path  to producing excellent coffee was a difficult and challenging one. Our team was mentored by numerous individuals who came from all around the world to help us improve.

Robert Francisco, then owner of Boyd’s Coffee Roasting Company, was the first to roast the green beans of Hineleban Coffee, pegging his cupping notes as, “caramel, nutty, slight acidity with bitter cacao aftertaste.”

Karen Lo Tsai, the Philippines’ only Q-grader in 2010, was the first to officially grade Hineleban as the Best Arabica of the Philippines. She has since been an esteemed proponent in pushing excellent local coffee, especially Hineleban.

In 2016, the foundation joined efforts with ACDI/VOCA to educate other coffee producers in Bukidnon, both small holders and COOPs, on how to improve their production, and how to properly process them to international standards. Hineleban’s processing facility was used as the venue to educate them on the proper methods of processing coffee 4 ways: natural, fully-washed, semi-washed and honey processes.

HIneleban coffee cherries and processed beans (photo by Neal Oshima)

After these training sessions, the first Philippine Cupping Competition was held in 2017, with 11 of the top 12 winners coming from Bukidnon, including Hineleban.

For the past 3 years, Metrobank Foundation has given Hineleban a grant to help other small holder farmers not included in the current partnership. Hineleban transferred the technology and rehabilitated their coffee trees by sharing production standards and harvest technology, subsequently increasing their market opportunities by selling their own packs or adding their harvests to the Hineleban roster.

In farming, there is still so much to learn, and the foundation made tireless efforts to learn from the best.

Renée Perrine, Dan Khun from Kona Coffee and Master Roaster Reyno Almonia checking coffee quality.

We were bestowed with a wealth of knowledge by Dr. Rafael Creencia, a Filipino that led Vietnam to being the second-largest coffee producer of the world; Joji Pantojas from Coffee for Peace for sharing the same vision of Peace through Coffee; Daniel Mulu Asfaw, Coffee Value Training Expert from Coffee Quality Institute; the late Dr. Chinapra, Coffee Expert from India; the late Dan Khun from Kona Coffee Hawaii; Joel Schuler, Lead Consultant for the Coffee Quality Institute from  the US; Mario Roberto Fernandez Alduenda, Technical Director for Processing at the SCA; Reyno Almonia for his unrelenting passion to improve the processing and roasting and not the least, Thelonious Trimmle, Director of ACDI/VOCA for pushing Filipino coffee in the world wide arena.

Underlying the foundation’s journey to coffee excellence are founders John and Renée Perrine’s passion for the product, as well as John’s own agricultural expertise and guidance. 

Corporate Partners for Coffee 

When Hineleban Foundation first reached out to Romy Sia, owner of Healthy Options, he quickly flew to Bukidnon with his son and marketing group to learn the story behind the coffee. His subsequent seal of approval linked Hineleban to a long term relationship supplying their 30 plus stores. Hineleban Coffee was the first Filipino product, and only local coffee to land all Healthy Options shelves nationwide. 

You can now buy Hineleban Coffee at any Healthy Options branch or online

In 2017, we launched an online store to make the packs available to consumers nationwide.  Prior to the pandemic, Hineleban Coffee catered to hotels, restaurants, boutiques, delis and cafes in and around Metro Manila. Provincial tourist hubs like Boracay and Siargao have embraced the excellence, quality and consistency of Hineleban Coffee as well.

We would also like to add a special thank you to the wonderful team of Healthy Inside and Out in taking care of getting the product professionally to your doorstep or making it available in your favorite stores nationwide.

Thanks too to Claudia Perrine for putting Hineleban in the Manila specialty coffee map when she opened Hineleban Cafe in Makati.

Hineleban Cafe in Makati courtesy of Philippine Primer

To reorder or to try your first Hineleban Coffee, click on this link: Sip and Reforest with us!

LENTEN MESSAGE 2021—Year of Mission

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Archbishop Jose Cabantan, D.D. Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of our observance of Lent.

Once again the Church invites us to a sincere examination of our life, our works in the light of Faith.

Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the desert in prayer and fasting before he embarked on a mission. Let this season of Lent be moments of profound reflection and renewal of our interior life too as we continue the mission God has entrusted to us.

The pandemic is still with us calling us to intensify more our prayers and remain steadfast with our faith in God. Let us continually observe the health protocols in our liturgical celebrations, especially during Holy Week.

Lent indeed is a season of grace, a season of joy. It is a precious gift of God, a journey of the Lord’s Easter. It is an intense time full of meaning in the journey of the Church.

Our life’s journey is also a pilgrimage sharing the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. This coming Easter Sunday we rejoice with the Risen Lord as we commemorate the first Mass in the country 500 years ago.

Renewal is God’s precious gift

This pilgrimage entails a renewal of our lives, a deepening of our commitment more and more to the God of History as we celebrate 500 Years of Christian faith full of gratitude and love.

Renewal is intimately woven in our jubilee celebration. All of us in the archdiocese should humbly beg God the grace of conversion by opening our hearts to Him. Renewal is truly a gift from God.

The call to live out our baptismal vows

The CBCP’s Lenten message calls us to live out our baptismal vows. They call us to witness to God’s charity, to live out and spread God’s faithful love.

Alay-Kapwa or serving our neighbors is a fruit of a genuine concern and love of God and neighbor. It can be done by the one who has been deeply touched by God’s loving and compassionate heart.

Again this needs a constant conversion to the God of love to fulfill this. Let us also continue praying for one another especially those who suffer the most due to this pandemic. Let us not lose hope amidst all these trials as we journey towards the resurrection.

Finally, our world, our archdiocese needs God’s forgiveness, realizing that desecration of one’s dignity and degradation of our environment continues to happen.

Let us beg for God’s mercy and Love that He will continually purify our hearts from self-serving desires.

Let us pray that our hearts will be set free from all that enslave us; resentments, anger, hatred, and all that dehumanizes us.

We pray that by opening ourselves to God and neighbor will bear fruit in solidarity, harmony and peace.

 May the God of Life, Love and Peace be always our refuge and strength in our journey with the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph’s intercession.


Click here for the Bisaya message of Bishop Cabantan.

Remembering Guana

Juan Y. Sia’s Legacy of Integrity in Public Service

February 9, 2021 was a sad day for most Kagay-anons when they found out one of the city’s most beloved civil servants had passed away peacefully in his sleep early that morning.

However, though many know him personally, not many Kagay-anons know that the late Juan Yap Sia was born in Amoy, China (now known as Xiamen City) on July 7, 1934 to Sia Ponso and Leah Yap.

Silver Wedding Anniversary of Alfonso Sr and Leah Sia 1957. Guana is to the right. (Sia Family Album)

He has six siblings: Jose, married to Cecila Ching; Esteban, married to Joy Angbetic of Cebu; Emelio, a doctor, married to Cherisa Cañete of Liloan, Cebu, (also a doctor) both retired in Seattle, USA; Richard, a dentist, married to a dentist from Ozamiz, Norma Tan ; Alfonso Jr.,  married to Lilian Chan of Basilan; and the youngest and only girl, Ramona, who opted to remain single and has since retired from banking.

Guana, as he is fondly known to his family and friends, migrated with his family from China to Camiguin, where his uncle Sia Mayong had a store in Mambajao during the 1920s to the 1950s.

According to his wife Adelfa, he had a near-death experience when he was bitten by a snake commonly known as udto-udto (you will be dead by noontime if one bites you) in Camiguin Plaza and was unconscious for three days until he was treated by an arbolario with tobacco and oracion.

Due to the severity of the bite, it might actually not have been an udto-udto (a.k.a. as paradise flying snake or  paradise tree snake which are rear-fanged and mildly venomous, but their bite is generally not considered to pose a threat to humans) but the very similar-looking but far deadlier barred coral snakes (Hemibungarus calligaster, a genus of venomous elapid snakes). 

In 1946, Alfonso Sr. moved his family to Cagayan de Misamis when he was hired by Proctor & Gamble to manage a copra buying station there.

Junior High School in Kong Hua School. Guana is second from right at the back row. (Sia Family Album)

Guana studied at Nazareth Public School (now South City Central School) where he learned to speak Bisaya, and later to Ateneo de Cagayan (now Xavier University) where he polished his English language skills.

“My brother belonged to this class. He was the youngest – was only 13 and turned 14 by the time he graduated. His classmates and batchmates were 2-3 years older than him,” recalls Gwendolyn Ramos-Garcia, whose late mother Pureza Neri Ramos, and late brother Honorio Boy Ramos, Jr. were colleagues of the late Guana in the city council during his tenure as city councilor.

Senior High at Kong Hua School. Guana is the third from right in the back row. (Sia Family Album)

At Kong Hua Senior High School Guana became one of its most outstanding students, winning an impromptu speech contest, awarded best in Chinese Calligraphy, and directed Chinese stage dramas.

He graduated High School from XU (Filipino curriculum) and Kong Hua (Chinese curriculum) in 1956, and Bachelor of Science in Commerce (BSC) Major in Accountancy from Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan in 1962.

Juan Y. Sia’s picture from the XU Crusader Yearbook 1962.
(courtesy of Irene Grace Alba Guitarte & XU Alumni Office Staff)

He applied and was granted Filipino Citizenship and married Adelfa Lui, whom he met during their high school days at Kong Hua, and continued courting her when both were studying at Xavier University.

The couple was blessed with five children: Renato, married to Pennapa Chantarasatit  from Bangkok, Thailand, with two kids, Pete and Wena; David, married to Germyline Dizon, has two girls, Danica, a marketing graduate from XU, and Natasha, now a 3rd year Nursing student at  Cebu Doctors; Catherine, married to Roland Teves from Davao, who migrated to the US and have 3 boys: Raymond, a professional nurse; and Ryan and Richard who are still studying; Ben Hur, married Mary Lao from Tabaco, Albay, have two girls, Cara and Paige studying at Kong Hua school; and Marylou, married Patrick Tan, a Kagay-anon, and now lives in Manila with 3 kids: Kirk, Maegan, and Audrey. The family now has a total of twelve grandchildren.

Family Picture from the XU Golden Jubilee HS ‘56 souvenir program in 2006.
(courtesy of Irene Grace Alba Guitarte & XU Alumni Office Staff

In between his high school and college, he first worked as a cigarette salesman for Golden Key. Then, after his college graduation he worked for Ramona Unchuan Agustines as an Esso kerosene salesman.

“For two consecutive years he won a black and white TV set as incentive,” recalls Adelfa. “At the time, Cagayan still had no TV station. The first one we gave to Ramona and the second we kept as a souvenir.”

Reminisces Guana’s brother Esteban, better known to friends as Steve:  “I am the third in line in a family of 6 brothers and a sister. Guana to us was more like a father than an eldest brother. He was our tutor during our growing up years, always guiding us to be good in everything that we were doing.”

“Our parents were engaged full time in the family businesses – Sia Enterprises (soft drinks distributorship and copra trading) and & De Oro Pawnshop managed by Mama Leah in the ground floor of our house since early 1960s. The pawnshop was closed when Mama passed away in 1975.”

“Hence, Guana was there for us in my earliest remembering, even as he started his own career as a cigarette company salesman. Guana later took over the family concerns which evolved into the well-known Juan Sia Enterprises.”

“When I was getting married, I was so thankful that Guana and his kind wife, my Ah-so Delfa, made sure that I had a traditional Chinese wedding.”

“After the wedding, we tried doing business in Cagayan de Oro; Guana was again there to provide guidance. Eventually, when I decided to migrate to the US, Guana expressed fatherly concern about my situation in a far-away land. After each of my balikbayan visits, he would always walk me to the gate to bid me an intimate goodbye. I keep in my heart his words in Chinese: I will wait for you! I am back to retire here, and I now realize that Guana made true his promise – he was waiting for me in my last visit.”

The old neighborhood where Guana spent most of his adult life (courtesy of Amadeo V. Neri)

Guana started his own business in 1964 with Namarco Groceries which later became Juan Sia Enterprises. In 1966, he became the first LPG dealer in Cagayan de Oro with Mobilflame, and later StarGas, Petronas and Pryce Gas as well. He wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty, and repaired the gas stoves he sold with the LPG tanks himself.

“Mr. Juan Sia was a respectable person, very accommodating, he inspects and fixes my stove almost every year. So sad will miss him. May he rest in peace,” said one of his long-time customers, Zony Uraya.”

Amadeo V. Neri, his neighbor from way back recalls, “Guana never left this neighborhood though many of us have, including his own brothers who moved to other parts, locally and abroad.”

“So I reminisce. In this neighborhood, Guana sold the first LPG tank in the entire city, he also had the only shop that custom-built bakery ovens and other appliances. Was it Shellane?”

“On the same block but along A. Velez, Guana opened the first grocery store which became the model for the others to follow, like Ororama, Gaisano, etc. It was bannered as Juan Sia Enterprises.”

“And clearly this was not enough for him, because he also lived a full life in local politics for decades. And what a sterling and admirable contribution and legacy he left behind! Especially when it came to the ideals of public service that he showed so liberally. Truly the epitome of public service!”

Juan Y. Sia the Councilor (photo courtesy of Kakak Yap)

Guana entered politics when his neighbors in Barangay 4 elected him as their chairman in 1970, a post he would be elected to for the next 19 years. In 1989 he served in the Cagayan de Oro City council representing the Association of Barangay Council (ABC) as its chairman.

“He was the only councilor who visited far-flung barangays unpassable by any transpo (at that time). An epitome of public service indeed!” noted Marilyn Rago-Mabellin.

“I believe I can say without fear of contradiction that Councilor Juan Sia was the most well liked politician in the city,” says Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya, currently Majority Floor Leader of the City Council.

“His ability to connect and reach out to fellow man beyond the call of duty was extraordinary. He served with dignity and gave more preferential attention to the lowly and the margins instead of his peers in the higher echelons of society. He listened to the concerns of the public during public hearings even beyond 5pm. He was never absent for meetings and never upsets his friends. He’s one of a kind comrade in the public service. He was a dear friend and a loyal one.”

Guana had a soft spot in his heart and always saw to it the members of the press were well looked after. (RMB)

Veteran broadcaster Joe del Puerto Felicilda recalls how Guana’s generosity and kindness to members of the press who were covering City Hall.

“He was very hospitable, normally di siya mo-entertain nimo sa iyang house or office, but in his resto. He addresses whoever he talks with as Sir or Ma’am. Very hospitable to media, he was also a duly licensed broadcast technician and renewed his license with the NTC every year.”

“In fact, when he was still a serving, after every session he would invite all media covering the council for lunch sa iya eatery beside his residence at corner Velez-Hayes. Murag pista!

His introduction as a guest speaker during an alumni homecoming at Kong Hua sums up his brand of public service:

“He is one of those very few politicians who has no mark of dirty politics at all. He served his constituents with deep sincerity, honesty, and integrity, he advocated effective public information and livelihood options in the rural areas, and promoted many self-sustaining economic activities.”

“His dedicated and honest service have been seen and felt by many, so much so that he was voted as the No. 1 City Councilor during his last term in office; given the ‘Par Excellence service award’ as the most distinguished City Councilor and Public Servant of the Year in 2002; given an exemplary public service award by the media office for being one of the most outstanding City Councilors in the Philippines; given the name ‘Man for Others’ by the Rotary East where he served as an Outstanding President in 1987, and given a Distinguished Service Award by the Oro Chamber in 1987.”

Guana was a pioneer and board member of Bell Church Cagayan de Oro Chapter.
Taken 2016 during the celebration of the 1st CDO Chinese New Year Festival. (RMB)

Indeed, as if his responsibilities to the family business and to the city council were not burden enough, Guana was also active as a prominent member and leader of various socio-civic and religious organizations, among them, the Rotary Club of East Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (MOFCCCII), Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (Oro Chamber), Cagayan Fil-Am Amity Club, Bell Church Cagayan de Oro Chapter, and the San Lorenzo Filipino-Chinese Parish Community.

“Juan is very generous, I remember he often gave soft drinks when we have special events in Kong Hua school,” recalls Dr. Benjamin Sia.

According to his wife Adelfa, he had lately sponsored a series of lectures on Taoist philosophy online via zoom.

The Chinese Characters for Dao

Tao (/daʊ//taʊ/) or Dao (/daʊ/ DOWfrom ChinesepinyinDào [tâu] (listen)) is a Chinese word signifying the “way”, “path”, “route”, “road” or sometimes more loosely “doctrine”, “principle” or “holistic beliefs”.[In the context of East Asian philosophy and East Asian religions, Tao is the natural order of the universe whose character one’s human intuition must discern in order to realize the potential for individual wisdom. This intuitive knowing of “life” cannot be grasped as a concept; it is known through actual living experience of one’s everyday being.

Laozi in the Tao Te Ching explains that the Tao is not a “name” for a “thing” but the underlying natural order of the Universe whose ultimate essence is difficult to circumscribe due to it being non-conceptual yet evident in one’s being of aliveness. The Tao is “eternally nameless” (Tao Te Ching-32. Laozi) and to be distinguished from the countless “named” things which are considered to be its manifestations, the reality of life before its descriptions of it.

“Guana had such noteworthy personal impact on and positive influences with many individuals, still it is nice to read their testimonials. Testimonies that tell us that Guana above everything else possessed a good conscience. For the test of a good life is the testimony of a good conscience,” Mr. Neri noted.

“Guana had done more than his share of life! Iyo Fonso would be proud, if he is not already,” he added.

Alfonso Yap Sr Family Reunion last year when Emelio and Estaban came home to Cagayan de Oro. It was the first time in many years the seven brothers and their only sister were complete. Leftmost is Efren and Cecilia Uy. Cecilia’s maternal Grandfather ( Sia Mayong) is the Brother of Guana’s Father ( Alfonso Sia Sr.).

Recalls his sister-in-law Joy Angbetic-Sia, wife of Esteban (Steve): “Guana and Ah-so Adelfa Lui-Sia welcomed me very warmly into their family when I stayed in their home soon after we got married.”

“I admired Guana for being a kindhearted man, and a well-respected community leader who was articulate in English, Chinese and Bisaya.”

“People from all walks of life readily approached him for help or advice. No wonder he was a well-loved kagawad during his public service stint. He was also an active Rotarian, a past president! A no mean feat for anyone, certainly not someone from a pure Chinese background.”

“Guana was a man for all seasons: a true friend and a caring patriarch to the Sia family who all of us looked up to and truly loved. Rest well, my dear brother in law! You will always stay in our hearts.”

Adds another neighbor Melanie Beatrix Reyes Calomarde:  “A very honorable, wonderful and respected man. We stayed for about 15 years right across the back, big gate of Juan Sia’s Enterprises and all I can say palangga mi nya tanan mga bata diha sa likod, and so with Nang Delfa. Thank you for the good memories.”

JUAN YAP SIA July 7, 1934 – February 9, 2021


The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the following who were instrumental in making this remembrance possible: Mrs. Adelfa Sia, Mr. Renato Sia, Mr. Steve Sia, Mrs. Joy Angbetic-Sia, Ms. Mayen Angbetic-Tan, Mr. Efren & Mrs. Cecilia Uy, Mr. Amadeo V. Neri, Kag. Ian Mark Nacaya, Mr. Jose Felicilda, Ms. Irene Grace Alba-Gitarte & the XU Alumni Office Staff, Mrs. Pennapa Chantarasatit-Sia, Rep. Rufus B . Rodriguez, Mr. Jeric Chan, and Mr. Amiel Ranalan .  Daghan kaayog Salamat!