Saturday, March 26, 2016


Nolasco "Noly" Sta. Isabel

by Roger Pe
March 27, 2016 issue
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Full page

In a country where the arts flourish and influence much of the world’s civilization, it is probably tough to excel, much more, be accepted if you are Asian.

In a city where actors Marcello Mastroianni, Franco Nero, Roberto Benigni and many more sparkled in movie marquees, what space is there left for a Filipino?

Nolasco ‘Noly’ Sta. Isabel is one Filipino his ‘kababayans’ will definitely be proud of. He is maybe unknown in the Philippines but he has broken mainstream in Italian cinema, making the big Filipino community in Rome proud and happy.

His filmology is not an ordinary feat for a Filipino in Rome. He has appeared in “Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo”, “Un Altro Mondo”, “Boris Il Film”, “Nemiche Per La Pelle”, “Tiramisu” and “Forever Young” and acted with famous Italian stars Giuliana De Sio, Margherita Buy, Sergio Pierattini and Claudia Gerini.
With a Italian actress Giulianna De Sio

He was also in the cast of highly-rating Italian tv shows like “Don Matteo2”, “I Cervelloni”, “Permesso di Soggione”, “La Salute a Tavola”, “Le Frontierre Dello Soirito”, “A Sua Immagine”, “Ciak … Si Canta”, “E Arrivata La Felicita”, “Tutto Puo Succedere”, “Il Mio Vicino Di Casa”, “Non Dirlo Al Mio Copo”, “Non E Stato Mio Figlio”, and “Il Bello Delle Donne”.

He is probably the only Pinoy who has performed in Teatro San Babila, a landmark theatre in Milan where comedies, thrillers, musicals and other traditional stage plays are regularly mounted featuring famous Italian names.

Sta. Isabel started in “Terra E Cielo” (Heaven and Earth), a successful stage play that had record-breaking 40 repeat performances when it ended its season.

He was on a roll after that, becoming the central character of the highly popular “Don Matteo2”,
an Italian ‘teleserye’ on primetime starring former Hollywood actor Terence Hill as an investigating priest.

His first break in Italian movies was as an extra in “La Casa del Sorriso (House of Smile), a film directed by award-winning Italian director Marco Ferreri, winner of a Golden Bear award in 1991 Berlin Film Festival.

A long time resident of Italy (he came as a tourist in 1985), Sta. Isabel started at the bottom of the food chain and worked his way up – from dishwasher to chef to most trusted manager of a restaurant he first worked for.

When he decided to leave and pursue another career, the resto owner offered him a car just to stay. He politely turned it down reasoning out he wanted to change the course of his life in Italy.

Early beginning

Carvosi was doing a collaborative work with an Italian television station costume tailor when he received a call from writer-theatre director Roberto Cavosi. When they met, the latter explained that he was not looking for a costume maker but an actor. He replied saying he had never acted before but is willing to audition for the part.

At the acting workshop, Sta. Isabel cried a bucketful of tears, impressing Cavosi. He was instantly made part of the cast, brought to Milan with five other seasoned actors and performed in Teatro Babila. Good reviews became his stepping-stone to the Italian movie industry.
Appearing in Italian movie "Nemiche Per La Pelle" with Claudia Gerini and Margherita Buy

A few months prior, he was part of Kasarinlan Cultural Dance Company, a dance group based in Rome promoting Philippine culture through dances and songs all over Italy and other European cities.

When movie offers started to trickle in, Sta. Isabel divided his time working in the restaurant and self-managing his acting career.

Conflicts in schedules would arise, preventing him to appear in movie projects. There were instances his employer would not allow him to attend shoots because of his duties at the restaurant.

“Unti-unting namamatay ang spirit ko” (my enthusiasm would slowly fade away), he says. Following his heart, he would leave his job and choose to go full-steam ahead with acting. He said, he chose it in order to be “happy”.
As a Dressmaking teacher when not making movies
Sta. Isabel acted as his own manager and was always on the lookout for movie assignments, constantly scanning Rome’s film houses for auditions. “It’s a tough challenge because there are not too many good roles for Asians,” he says.

When roles are far and few in between, he uses his other talent to be more productive and creative. He teaches students to design, cut and sew dresses, a business that has become lucrative and kept him busy.

Most of her students are Italians, women who are accustomed to the styles of Armani, Versace, Dolce and Gabana and many more. His creations are also often time shown in Filipino gatherings of the Philippine embassy.

Born in Montalban, Rizal, where every neighbor was a relative, Sta. Isabel, together with a younger brother was brought up to help in the family poultry and piggery business. Recalling his early childhood days, he and his brother would work all day in the animal farm till they got dirtied with mud all over.

His parents inculcated in him the value of hardwork. In grade school, he did errands, for his mother who worked in the school canteen.

He spent high school in Roosevelt College Marikina, went to De La Salle-Araneta University and graduated with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in just 5 years. He became a licensed veterinarian at age 21.

He taught at the Visayas State University in Leyte two months after passing the board exam. After almost two years, he realized he wanted to work abroad to help his family and enjoy a European lifestyle.

In "Terra E Cielo"
In the mid 80a, with a little help from a college friend, he arrived in Italy to fulfill a dream, study in a fashion school in Rome. That dream has come true.

“It is not easy to work in a foreign land. You need to know the language and culture to get by. It is good Italians are Catholics like Filipinos, that eases up a bit,” he says.

Whether he is happy or not, Sta. Isabel has already adjusted to his second home. “Pag may problema, alam ko na kung paano ko malulutas ang mga ito (when problems arise, I already know how to fix it).

He is thankful for the opportunities that keep on coming his way but intimates that there are still many things he wants to do.

“It’s not always fun to be an actor and a designer at the same time in Italy where the word “Filipino” is spelled with double “p” and synonymous to domestic helper,” he says.

When he was starting with his movie career, Sta. Isabel was always the underdog but his insistence and passion would always pay off.

“Madalas, walang pumapansin sa akin sa auditions (I am always ignored most of the time). He would always be the only Asian who would turn up. “Just reading people’s body language, I can feel that I was being discriminated upon, “ he laments.
In one of "Don Matteo" series, appearing with former Hollywood actor Terrence Hill

Not wanting to get affected, Sta. Isabel focused on improving his craft. Determined to shine, people’s impression of him eventually changed.

In Rome, where concentration of Filipino workers is big, Sta. Isabel always thinks about his ‘kababayan’.

He wants employers not to take advantage of them. “Some of them do not give the benefits they’re entitled to, others do not legally arrange their working permits, some, treat them like machines, a story that gets repeated time and again,” he says.

He attends Filipino social functions when he is not busy acting or attending to his design class. Believing that one can change his destiny in life, Sta. Isabel encourages young Filipino workers to improve themselves and not follow their parents’ footsteps who got stuck where they are right now. He wants them to help upgrade the image of Filipinos in Italy.

He is active in Philippine embassy functions and often helps in organizing Isola del Cinema Film Festival, an annual event that features acclaimed cinema work from different countries.

Rave reviews on his acting debut.
As a long time Italy resident, Sta. Isabel observes that Filipinos are generally united in Italy but “regionalism and crab mentality still exist,” he says.

“Meron namang mga taong parang wala kang nagawa” (there are people who think you have not achieved a thing) but what’s important to me are comments of people who are positive in life,” he says.

He is not happy that a lot of Filipinos in Italy have not evolved and got stuck being domestic helpers, some for even up to 30 years. “Sayang, hindi nila sinubukang ibahin ang work nila, (what a waste, they didn’t try to change their status in life).

“Italians love Filipinos but at the same time think we are all domestic helpers, an unfair mindset that has become a “trademark,” he says.

Would he encourage Filipinos to work abroad? “Working abroad can upgrade one’s life but it is not the only solution, he says. “We can start innovative businesses in the Philippines, sadly, opportunities are few.”

What does he like about Italians? “Italians are practical people, they quarrel and exchange bad words but it’s all gone in five minutes. We Filipinos remember bad words said to us till we die. Italians do not to think much of what people say against them. They love their cities, they always maintain cleanliness and peace and order,” he says.

“Wala na akong panahon sa homesickness,” Sta. Isabel says on being asked about if he misses the Philippines.
Is he able to save much? “I was the breadwinner for many years, so I’ve provided my family with their needs. Money has never been a big deal to me, I can give priorities to things that embrace my passion even without money,” he philosophizes.

Sta. Isabel wants to open a business when he returns to the country of the Philippines. “But while I’m still here, I would like to focus on creating my own “name” in acting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


True-blue Palaweno. Environmentalist with a heart, Arthur "Art" Ventura wants to leave a lasting legacy: that the Last Frontier will be the first frontier in protection and well-managed natural resources for next generation of Palawenos.
by Roger Pe
March 16, 2016 issue
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Can Palawan be the Philippines’ first and the next World Conservation Province?

Author Rhett Butler* writes in his website that “the once spectacular primary forests of the Philippines are now a relic of a bygone era.” He explained that whatever primary forest left behind can now only be found in Palawan, one of the oldest, largest, and most diverse rainforests in Southeast Asia.

Between 1990 and 2005, our country has lost a third of its forest cover, he says.

Widespread logging is the main culprit. In his report, Butler says, illegal logging continues even today inspite of a government ban.

Agricultural fires, slash-and-burn-farming, unabated wood fuel gathering, rural population expansion are also mentioned as some of the heavy contributors to forest depletion. As deforestation continues, the effect becomes an environmental chain reaction. Soil erosion, river siltation, flooding, and drought follow.

Coal-powered plants will destroy the habitat of Palawan Cockatoo' ("Katala").
In 2014, Palawan gained 2.3% forest cover but on the same breath, lost 5.3% of the same, a scary figure that is bound to increase in due time.

With this scenario, a true environmentalist cries for help to arrest the tide and join people’s clamor to save further loss of Palawan’s forests.

Arthur “Art” Rodriguez Ventura, former Director of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) wants to follow West Papua’s footsteps.

The Indonesian province was declared a World Conservation Province by The Coral Triangle and WWF in October last year - a first for both Indonesia and the rest of the world.

The honor according to the WWF was “symbolically important in ensuring the future health of the province’s astonishing ecosystems. Besides its rainforests, West Papua is the world’s epicenter of marine biodiversity, boasting more species than anywhere else on the planet.”

Agricultural fires and slash-and-burn farming ruin our forests.
The declaration signifies a commitment by local landowners to conserve and safeguard their land, and to protect it against destructive development such as unsustainable logging.

As a kid, Ventura was already a lover of nature. Understandable, because he was born and grew up in Coron, one of Palawan’s tourism jewels and where many of its lakes are considered the cleanest and greenest in the Philippines up to now.

Ventura loved watching Tarzan movies, mesmerized at seeing Johnny Weissmuller cling from one vine to another with his panther friend, swim in a refreshingly clear river, and imagined basking in a very clean environment with his lovely Jane. He longed to be lord of the jungle.

In the days of Tarzan, poachers already existed in the forest, killing elephants for their ivory tusks, hunting tigers, lions and trapping birds to be sold. But Tarzan emerged as their protector as well as Africa’s flora and fauna.

Today, Ventura is fighting a lonely war, but like Tarzan, is hoping for a Divine Intervention, that wanton abuse of Palawan’s natural resources be contained. He wants Palawan be like what it used to be, pristine, abundant, rich in forest and marine resources and indigenous people are happy.

Deforestation destroys habitat of endangered species.
He once fought against businessmen-poachers who erected seaweed-farming structures in Tubbataha Reef, (World Heritage Site). The stilts have now been demolished.

At age six, Ventura was already helping augment the family income, at a time when untold hardship was being felt because of the effect of World War II.

His father was a school principal and his mother, president of a women’s club who put up the town’s first Puericulture Center.

At age fifteen, he worked as an attendant, assisting a doctor, like a midwife, sanitary inspector and nurse, rolled into one, doing all medical work like pre-natal care, autopsy, vaccination, injection and minor operation.

After graduating in high school with academic honors, his father let him and his brothers and sisters find their own fortune, confident that he had instilled in them his disciplinarian ways to face the world.

He did many odd jobs in Manila like working in a restaurant just so he can enter college. He lived with her older sisters, moving from one sister to another to get free board and lodging.

Then his first ray of hope came. Mapua School of Engineering had announced a qualifying chess tournament for freshmen. Top finishers will get an athletic scholarship and be included in the school’s varsity team. He would win and even go further – bag the national inter-collegiate championship.

He was on cloud nine when a newspaper article bannered his triumph: “Unknown from Palawan Beats Intercollegiate Champion from UST.”

Chess had paid off for Ventura, a game that was a family past time. “I thank my father-mentor and brothers for that,” he says.

Thousands and thousands of forest hectares are grazed to the ground to give way to oil palm plantation.

After winning the championship, Far Eastern University took interest and offered him a scholarship he cannot refuse. Apart from a college scholarship, he was given an employment at the university’s accounting department, which during that time, a big extra bonus that allowed him to help his other siblings Caesar, Lyn and Patricia to finish their own college degrees.

He, too, helped struggling Palawe├▒os at FEU. As soon as he graduated with an Economics degree, he enrolled for a Masters Degree in Marketing, and some two years later, entered law.

Ventura married Marilou Galman Cruz after only twenty days of courtship. The two met at the FEU campus while the latter was securing her academic records to comply with her UST thesis. Cruz would eventually pass her thesis defense with flying colors, even topping the architectural board exam.

The two settled in Palawan and continued to help people in many ways possible. Their willing hand extended to regional sports meet in order for Palawan to perform well in the STRAA (Southern Tagalog Regional Athletic Association.

They went out of their way to find funds for medicines for sick friends and neighbors. Love for each other gave them four children: Pamela, Fiona, Justine and Joshua and grandchildren Lian and Zia.
Deforestation spells doom to Palawan's flora and fauna.

Ventura went into gas station and burger chain business to be able to sustain his civic-mindedness. His wife contributed by squeezing funds from her professional practice. As the saying goes: ” When you help, don’t expect something in return. When you are in a position to share, do share.” Ventura took this seriously.

Perhaps, that was the reason why the late President Corazon Aquino appointed him as OIC Vice Governor of Palawan after the Edsa Revolution.

As one who champions progress without abusing Mother Nature, Ventura wants to leave a legacy of protecting Palawan’s environment. He longs to see the Last Frontier as the first frontier in well-managed resources and developing renewable energy, not coal power plants.

He wants Palawenos to distance themselves from destructive mining and promote the tourism industry sustainably. He wants to prevent land grabbing done with use of force or deceit and these lands returned to their rightful owners.

He wants people to respect the rule of law for nobody is above the law.

As in a chess game, Ventura has made his move and wants people together in one chess team - to protect Palawan’s precious natural resources.

As a true Palaweno and environmentalist, he fears that plantation agriculture, especially oil palm, could emerge as the newest threat to Palawan’s remaining forests.

“The continuing disappearance of Philippine wildlands is of great concern. In this respect, we should save Palawan from plunderers and make its forests proudly intact. We were voted and continue to be voted as the best island tourism destination worldwide in many magazine polls year after year. This is effort not luck. We have made it this far as icon for the Philippines as a prime tourist destination. Let us not destroy it,” he says.

According to the national Forest Management Bureau, forest cover in the Philippines declined from 21 million hectares, or 70% of the its land area in 1990, to about 6.5 million hectares by 2007. This data is very similar that to the U.N. FAO, which is usually based on government data.

Conserving old-growth trees in Sabang, Puerto Princesa City.
At a glance, here’s the Philippines’ forest figure:

Forest cover, total forest area: 7,162,000 hectares (24%). Primary forest cover: 829,000 hectares; Percent of land area: 2.8%, Percent of total forest area: 11.6%.

Deforestation rates from 2000-2005: Annual change in forest cover: 157,400 hectares; Annual deforestation rate: 2.1%. Total forest loss since 1990:3, 412,000 hectares or 32.3%.

*Rhett Butler founded in 1999 with the mission of raising interest and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife. For the first ten years of the project, he operated Mongabay on his own, publishing thousands of stories and tens of thousands of photos. He has been profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal and Voice of America. In September 2014, he

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 9, 2016
Using a pen name, writing this article.
 How would you like to eat fruits and vegetables bred practically from a science laboratory? Would you put them on the table and serve them to your loved ones?

Eggplant Omelet, for example, or “Pinakbet”? And for your dessert, what about strangely huge looking Papaya you thought didn’t previously exist?

GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are animals, fruits and vegetables changed by genetic engineering. They have been subject of many intense debates here and abroad.

GMOs have genes of another species inserted in their species (example, gene of bacteria inserted into genes of corn).

Proponents of GMOs argue that genetic engineering results in increased crop yields, reduces costs of food production and the need for pesticides. They also cited enhanced nutrient composition, food quality, resistance to pests and diseases, and greater food security to the world's growing population as among its benefits.

A number of animals have also been genetically engineered to increase production and decrease vulnerability to disease. GM Salmon, for example, are engineered to grow larger and mature faster.

But are they really safe?

Consumer Rights for Safe Food (CRSF) founding president Grace Padilla-Chua is asking the government to practice caution. It should do actual studies on the effects of GMOs on the health of humans and animals before allowing GMOs into the country and into our food supply.

“Many countries have recognized the dangers of GMOs and have banned them. I hope our government does the same,” she says.
All photod used in this article, creatred by DDB Philippines.

According to American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), GMOs are unhealthy. Here are their findings:

They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastro-intestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility.

Human studies show how genetically modified food can leave objects inside us, possibly causing long-term problems.

GMO Proponents say that GMOs, when eaten by humans are harmless because they are completely digested.

A Canadian study shows though the toxic insecticide produced by GMOs was in the blood of Canadian women and in unborn fetuses. Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer to the DNA of bacteria living inside humans, possibly causing long term problems.

AAEM also says numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years, food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise.

The American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association are among many medical groups that condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormones, which are injected into cattle so they produce more milk.
The milk produced from treated cows has been found to have more pus and antibiotics. It is also found to have high levels of a hormone, which is linked to cancer.

GMOs contaminate forever. GMOs cross-pollinate and their seeds can travel. Once released into the environment, it will be impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool.

GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure.

GMOs increase herbicide use. Most GM crops are engineered to be “herbicide tolerant”. Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides linked to sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.

Genetic engineering creates dangerous side effects. By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects, resulting in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.

Government oversight is dangerously lax.
Most of the health and environmental risks of GMOs are ignored by governments’ superficial regulations and safety assessments.

Independent research and reporting are suppressed. Attempts by media to expose problems are also often censored.

GMOs harm the environment. GMO crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable.

 GMOs do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world. Whereas sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher.

GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2009 report Failure to Yield―the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield.

GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability.

On the contrary, GMOs divert money and resources that would otherwise be spent on more safe, reliable, and appropriate technologies.

Half the world has banned GMOs because of studies showing it is associated with cancers, allergies, Infertility, and more.

The Philippines, a trailblazer for GMO in Asia, expects to finalize a new set of rules on GMOs after the (Supreme) Court demanded an overhaul of previous regulations.

Several groups like Greenpeace, Magsasaka at Siyentifiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura, Green Action PH, Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, Pesticide Action Network Philippines, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and the Center or Health Initiatives and Management of Eco-systems and the Consumer Rights for Safe Food have also urged Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala not to rush the issuance of rules and regulations on GMO feeds and crops.

Consumer Rights for Safe Food has done an advertising awareness campaign to inform the public against the dangers of GMOs and its effect on people’s health. We are reprinting some of their impactful outdoor ads.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Attending scholoarship on Leadership and Management of Universities in the 21st century, UN University, Amman, Jordan, 2006
by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 5, 2016 issue

From a little girl who peddled rice cakes in the streets, Erlinda Alli Ganapin rose from her lowly beginning and survived many odds, some of them miraculously. How she beat them makes an interesting story.

You cannot ignore Ganapin, the educator who is ready to take her second career. Born, raised and educated in Palawan, Ganapin is a self-made woman, toughened by challenging experiences, molded by beautiful values, and time continues to make her a vintage wine.

Once chosen as outstanding woman of the city of Puerto Princesa, you can liken Ganapin to many indigenous things Palawan is famous for, like lustrous south sea pearls, brown and tough “Kamagong” tree, pungently sweet ripe “Mampalang” (local mango) and many more.

The woman is confidently homegrown, with a heart for teaching people to better their communities.

For Ganapin, nothing is impossible when you dream about something and pursue it relentlessly.
Listening to her as she dreamt of seeing Manila as a kid is like watching a riveting indie film. It holds you spellbound and you can tell, she is a woman of substance.

Born to be a storyteller 
Old family picture, with sister Aida, three months after the fateful MV Fortuna incident.
When she was nine years old and just finished fourth grade in school, her mother took her and two of her sisters, including a female relative, to Manila to enjoy summer vacation.

She could not contain her excitement the moment she stepped into MV General Luna, the big ship that sailed for three days and two nights to reach the city. To make the story short, it was a trip she would never forget for the rest of her life.

On their way back home, a series of unfortunate incidents greeted them as well as hundreds of passengers in the middle of the sea. An engine trouble had caused the ship to stall and passengers had to transfer to another ship.

Packed like sardines on MV Fortuna, the rescue ship, Ganapin’s family slept on the floor and occasionally, on top of their luggage. Everything seemed fine until loud screams jolted them out of their sleep.

A big commotion ensued and she saw people running in different directions. They were shouting “Fire, fire!” A woman then shouted, “Huramentado, huramentado, takbo kayo!” (Amok, everybody run!)

Ganapin was beside her mother who could not help but panic. She then grabbed her hand and both of them hid under a nearby cot.

Halfway to safety, her mother remembered that her two other sisters were not with them. Shouting her sisters’ names, she came down dragging her.

As they dashed through the dining area passing through a narrow hallway, Ganapin saw a man approaching them with a bloodstained bolo. The man who had gone berserk was brandishing it against those who were blocking his way.

Attending PSU-Cuyo graduation ceremonies, 2011
And then the nightmare - the man swung his bolo hitting her mother’s scalp. At that instance, blood spurted out like a fountain from her head, terrifying her endlessly. Like a monster, the crazed man turned to her next.

About to strike her, her mother had regained strength from half-consciousness and pushed him with brute force in the nick of time. All bloodied, she hurriedly put her inside a big box and covered it with a piece of luggage.

But the man sprang back and continued his attack. With one violent swing, the man hit a luggage her mother had grabbed earlier to shield her. It had split into two, even causing a deep wound on her mother’s left hand. Without the luggage, her mother’s hand would have been cut off.

Horrified for what she saw, Ganapin cowered in fear. There was as if a mysterious hand that guided her mother to save her from near death. Then they heard loud gunshots. The man fell dead with many people wounded in his wicked wake.

Traumatized, a couple (Mr. and Mrs. Bagaoisan of Santa Lucia) attended to them. Ganapin would later learn that her older sister almost jumped off the ship. The terrifying incident on that fateful night of June 1958 landed on national newspapers.

Being sworn-in as OIC-President of PSU, 2011
Back in Puerto Princesa, her teachers and friends would always ask her to recount what had happened. Retelling the story would make her an effective storyteller later on.
Recovering from trauma
To forget and put it behind them, her mother thought of a small business at home making rice cakes. She and her sisters knocked on people’s homes and sold them before going to school. They were assigned specific streets in the town where they sold them door-to-door.

Ganapin sold the most because she had the loudest and charming voice. She even endeared herself to the cabaret girls near the popular Cosmos Bakery. The only time she stopped selling was when she entered high school because she didn’t want to come to school late.

Born in a town where everybody knew everybody, Ganapin is grateful for all the learning experiences she faced during her growing up years.

“I cherish the joy and laughter of my childhood. There were frustrations, pain and suffering, but as years went by, they’ve become part of a beautiful story worth sharing,” she intimates.
She remembers playing “patintero”, “luksong tinik”, “tumbang preso”, “tagu-taguan”, “piko”, “pitsao”, “maro” and “tatsing” under the sun and during full moons.

Her installation as first President of of the Soroptimist International Puerto Princesa City chapter, 2011.
  She cherishes her boyish adventure of climbing fruit-bearing trees, gathering seashells, sea urchins and fiddler crabs at nearby “Parola”.

She remembers binging on ‘plywood’, a kind of hard baked bread, banana cue and “maruya”. “We drank water directly from the school’s artesian well if we didn’t have enough money to buy soft drinks. I was also bullied because of my dark brown skin and kinky hair,” she narrates.

Chasing a dream

Ganapin always wanted to be a lawyer. After high school, she enrolled at a local Catholic school to take up preparatory law. “That did not happen because my older sister convinced me to shift to education. She reasoned out that the province was in dire need of teachers,” she says.

With her father’s untimely death, Ganapin was compelled to become a working student. While tagging along with a friend who was auditioning for a broadcasting job, a man with a baritone voice yelled “Next!” referring to her.

The man was the famous Jess Decolongon, a respected radio personality in the country. Ganapin reluctantly tried and to her surprise, she was taken in. The rest is history.

Ganapin learned the value of coming on time (as in this interview where she came in 30 minutes early), preparedness, continuous learning while on the job, objectivity in dealing with situations, presence of mind, reading and improving one’s craft and not to settle for anything less.
United Nations University, Amman, Jordan

At that time, Ganapin worked as a student assistant at the Office of the High School Principal Holy Trinity College, from 7:00 to 11:00 am and 1:30 to 4:15 pm and enjoyed free tuition privileges.

At the same time, she attended classes that started from 4:15 pm to 8:30 pm.
She sold mosquito nets, blankets, bed sheets and pillowcases sent by her brother to augment the family income and worked at the Office of the Auditing Examiner’s Office at Palawan National School, Provincial Assessor’s Office, Office of the Provincial School Superintendent while continuing part-time work at DYPR on weekends (with a salary of two pesos per hour).

She worked full-time during summer as disc jockey, hosted live shows, gave advice to people in love on air, was a newscaster, did field reporting, public service, and hosted musical programs.
Family values

Ganapin’s family instilled in her faith in God, honesty, respect for elders, concern for others, hardwork and perseverance.
She helped her brother Artemio who took over her mother’s home business. Though half of his right leg was amputated because of a fatal accident, he strived hard. He now manages a family business in Antipolo market and lives in a big house with his family.

Her older sister Aurora taught her multi-tasking and time management. “I should really be thankful for her efforts in making me learn how to survive in life,” she adds.

Improving herself

Ganapin read pocketbooks, newspapers, watched English movies, accepted English programs at DYPR (“Words and Music”), joined literary writing contests, wrote poems, short stories, scripts, memorized speeches, listened to good speakers to improve her English.

An active student leader, she won as a senator in college. She graduated at age 19 and became a full-pledged teacher.

Her first teaching job was at a barrio high school in Quezon town southern Palawan. Here, she once walked a 7-kilometer muddy road from a sitio because the vehicle she took could not proceed further to the town proper.

“My first two-years of teaching was full of challenges and frustrations but that did not discourage me. I organized a fund-raising campaign for our school building. The local government funds were not sufficient to provide our needs in school. We had to wait for 5 months to claim salaries,” she relates.

Ganapin’s starting salary was Php 234.00 charged against local funds. “I initiated educational field trips to supplement theories taught in school. I recommended students for summer jobs in a mining company for them to earn extra income for their continuous schooling,” she adds.

She transferred to Palawan National School in 1971 as a full-time English teacher, resumed radio work during weekends and moved to the newly opened Palawan Teachers' College (predecessor of Palawan State University) in 1977. It was the start of a flourishing professional growth for her, paving the way towards her dreams.
As an active anti-corruption advocate doing a roadshow in 2007.
 She then pursued a master's degree in college teaching. A year after, she specialized as Trainor in English for the Decentralized Learning Resource Center, a school for school administrators of the Department of Education. Soon, she was designated Director of Information. 

Because of her media background, Ganapin was tasked to answer issues raised by faculty and students against school administration in local media and at Radio Veritas and Radyong Bayan in Manila.

The dark and bright years

When Edsa Revolution was unfolding in 1986-1987, the then Palawan State College was also undergoing a student-faculty unrest.

Groups wanted the incumbent president to give way to a Palaweno educator. Unfolding events would make Ganapin principal of the Laboratory High School from 1987-1991, a tough task she handled after the transition of leadership.

In a state institution where designations are never permanent, Ganapin anchored a one-hour a week radio program aired to keep stakeholders informed about college activities.

She was among those who prepared a position paper needed for a bill converting the state college into a state university.

As coordinator of PSU-World Bank Partnership, she attended a training program spearheaded by Transparency Accountability Network, fulfilling her part as educator.
She assisted in the realization of many other extension programs of the university. Like giving short-term livelihood courses for 8 barangays (Tiniguiban, Santa Monica, Sicsican, Irawan, Santa Lourdes, Tagburos, San Jose and San Pedro).

Eventually finishing her doctorate degree in Education in 1998, she was designated Dean of College of Education the following year. She would hold the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs after three months, lasting for nine years.

In 2005, Ganapin became Executive Vice President of the university and served as member of the PSU Board of Regents as alumni representative (1999-2004). She worked on major curricular reforms and initiated additional extension centers in different municipalities of the province.

She was given a 5-day scholarship on Leadership and Management of Universities in the 21st Centuryat the United Nations University in Amman, Jordan in 2006 where she presented a paper on Solid Waste Management Program of Puerto Princesa City.                              

When PSU was recognized as the first sustainable and eco-friendly university in the Philippines in 2009, she was appointed chair of the committee on environmental sanitation and beautification, organized by the DENRm CHED and DEPEd.

Sharing the best practices of Palawan State University on environmental protection and conservation at Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University, Beppu, Japan, 2009.
She presented the university’s best practices at the Ritsusmeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Japan on December 12, 2009 as a result. All of these milestones happened while attending to a sick daughter who battled leukemia for almost a year. 

She worked with the World Bank through PSU Knowledge for Development Center and led a university-wide anti-corruption drive, making the school recognized as member of Transparency International. This earned her a Governor's Award in Education in 2010 two weeks after her daughter’s death.

She was then appointed OIC-President of Palawan State University a year after, a position she worked hard to attain with very supportive constituents.

She resigned after three months and applied for the presidency of PSU, an institution she served for more than three decades.

Educators and professional participants in Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University.
A few people worked against her and she eventually lost the battle, a well-orchestrated conspiracy done by people whom she says acted like God. “I thought it best to keep calm,” Ganapin says.

More than a year after her retirement in service, Ganapin was invited as an external associate for PSU under the Atlas Scholarship Program in Gottenburg, Sweden in 2013. Together with a team of educators from University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo De Davao University and Angelicum College, she worked on a curriculum for selected elementary schools, integrating environmental sustainability. 

Her mentors, advocacies

One thing she learned from her parents and siblings were to appreciate the good that people have done for them. Her mother had taught her how be a survivor. She considers her parents, siblings and former teachers as her mentors.

She includes Dr. Walfrido Ponce De Leon, founding President of Palawan State University, President Paterno Bruselas, Dr. Crispiniano Acosta, Sr., President Teresita Salva and former high school and now senior friends, Tessie Basaya, Atty. Grace Rivera Meregillano, Norma Lim, Norma Carlos Espartero, Norma Arrogancia Devecais, Roberto del Rosario and Dr. Erlinda San Juan among them.
“When I was about to give up a good fight, when I was groping in the dark because of so much complications in my personal and professional life, they taught me how to cope with situations without sacrificing self-worth,” she says.
Puerto Princesa Underground River: One of 7 new wonders of the world.

Ganapin believes in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), an advocacy she started in the late 80s when she co-authored Palawan’s first musical play "Kung Hindi Ngayon, Kailan?", with good friend Jane Timbancaya-Urbanek.

The latter took the lead in realizing this project, a partnership between PSU and the then Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD). Noted Palawenos composed the cast with Medy Beroy, Nonoy Lanzanas, Alex Maracaida and the late Gerry Ortega among them.

Gender sensitivity, women empowerment and violence against women are close to Ganapin’s heart. She is also a cooperatives advocate and has been helping barangays organize a cooperative of their own.

In a city where women leaders are few, or just one or two, Ganapin, the unbreakable, hopes to see the place of her birth as a disciplined and booming city, with a dynamic and sustainable urban and rural tourism program, not just a gateway to the now famous Underground River or El Nido, but as a truly nerve-center of activities in Palawan.