Concerned Samarnons Link Arms Through the Internet and Cyberspace

June 25, 2004

San Francisco, California -- Some concerned Samarnons and their friends who are scattered all over the world have organized themselves into a loose Internet and cyberspace group, known as “Gugma Han Samar - Cyberspace Movement”.

As explained by Cesar Torres, the movement’s primary initiator, “Through this movement, the commitment and mission of the group to maximize their effectiveness in assisting address and resolve urgent economic, social, cultural, and political issues concerning Samar and the Philippines, albeit, through the Internet, is emphasized.”

The initial list of some of the Samarnons who have expressed their tacit and implied interest in joining and supporting the movement include the most active leaders of the San Francisco-based Samareños of California such as, Yolanda Picardo, this writer, Mrs. Florita Obsequio-Oca, Rosenda Lim-Paus, Tess Legaspi-Alioto, Greta Quitorio, Benny Cojuangco,  and Socorro Ygat-Segado. Others in the San Francisco Bay Area are: the accountant, Mr. Tex Tan, the first Filipino high-ranking civil servant in the City of San Francisco; the philanthropist Engr. Adventure Naranjo from Mindanao and Northern Samar; the very pious couple Ester Ocenada-Benigno and husband Engr. Charlie Benigno of Daly City; and Ben Figueroa Corrales from Samar and wife Lily Corrales from Leyte, the first Filipina staff member of the City of San Francisco to be awarded a scholarship for postgraduate study.

Others include the world-famous political cartoonist, Deng Coy Miel, who is with the Singapore Straits Times. In Southern California, there is Max G. Alvarez, a prominent Filam journalist.  One of the movement’s staunchest movers is Adelbert Batica, the activist Program Manager in the State of Minnesota who is now preparing to move lock, stock and barrel to his hometown in Samar.

There is Christine Casurao who writes about developments in the Province of Samar; Leo Castillo in New Zealand; Dolores Froilan-Fernandes in Canada; Jenny Castro Enrique in Chicago;  the Samarnon cultural historian and environmentalist Osmundo Orlanes, Chairman of Sankay in Metro Manila; Don Mabulay, the Executive Director of the World Bank awardee Tandaya Foundation which is helping the poor inhabitants around Samar’s Maqueda Bay develop some sustainable livelihood projects.

There is Samarnon organizer and environmental activist Charo Nabong-Cabardo; the budding Samarnon environmental psychometrician and mentor of the young in Catbalogan, Samar, Kezia Lounel C. Badulid; Asti Villanueva of the Villanueva Clan of Calbayog, the painter Danny Celum, President of the Calbayog Art Association; the man about-town Remy Laurel of Calbayog City; and Chris Sulla, one of the most committed, skillful, compassionate computer and cyberspace technician who is based in Catbalogan, Samar.

In Europe there are the brothers Ruben and Ramses Gerardo, webmasters and administrators of the Villareal, Samar website.  Ruben has also been a leader of the Filipino community in Norway.

In Metro Manila there is the uncle and nephew tandem, the Villahanon Lawyers Lope Torres, formerly a legal counsel and now consultant of UCPB, and Raul Oreo, a practicing criminal lawyer.

There is Monty Figueroa, a Villahanon computer programmer in Saudi Arabia and his cousin, Dongdong Gelera.  Together with Edsel Morabor, in Tacloban City, and Lotlot Fallorina of South Carolina, they are tireless in discussing in the Villahanon Forum the ways by which Samar and their town of Villareal, can progress. And they do not hide under fictitious names either.

Down under, in Australia, the young web designer, Niño Ver Donaire, has expressed his support to this movement.

Invited and expected to join this cyberspace group are:  SHS-SNS alumni association of the US and Canada Chair, Nario del Rosario of Vallejo, California; Outstanding Samar High School alumnus Anastacio Cabrales Jr., another Outstanding Samar High School Alumna Betty Duran, former Samar-Leyte Regional Director; and the brothers Eng. Federico Ty of the giant engineering firm Bechtel and Samarnon Catholic lay leader in San Francisco Jesse Ty; and R.N. Lilia Amasa-Ty of Borongan and San Francisco; and Calbiganon leader in the US, Adelia Varela-Ramos, a mentor in New York.

Some prominent Samarnons in America have been requested to submit their online articles for publication in the group’s website or subdomain, “Hingyap Han Kauswagan Han Samar”. This includes the historian and scholar Mr. Quint Lambino Doroquez, formerly of the University of California in Berkeley; the sister-brother tandem of Loudette Avelino and Joe Avelino of New York and Texas, respectively, who are the mainstays of the Building Futures Together, a New York-based foundation helping develop small scale industries in Calbayog while undertaking a reading and literacy program for the children also; and famous Samarnon physician in the US East Coast, Dr. Teddy Noble.

This initiative was inspired by the An Samar Naman Movement which arose out of the massive upswell of support to stop the unscrupulous mining and exploitation of the mineral and natural resources of Samar which have only benefited the capitalists who were not even from Samar.  This movement also aims to discourage Samarnons from electing incompetent and corrupt public and government officials in Samar.

Samar, the third largest island of the Philippines, is rich in mining and other natural  resources.  But due to a variety of factors, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has continually listed Samar as belonging to one of the most depressed regions of the country, i.e., where the incidence of poverty, hunger, malnutrition is highest.

Torres, a former Professor of Political Science and Public Administration in the University of the Philippines in Diliman, a senior consultant of the Development Academy of the Philippines, and past President of the San Francisco-based Samareños of California, believes that this loose banding together of Samarnons who share a common concern and love for Samar and are skilled in computers and in surfing the World Wide Web and the Internet is a welcome development for all Samarnons all over the world. According to Torres, “Samar and the Philippines are on the verge of profound political and social changes that could determine the course of the island for years to come. Even now, the impatience of the young and their disappointments in the incompetence of the political and governmental leadership in Samar and the Philippines is finding common cause with the struggle of the partisans of the National Democratic Front in Samar.”  Torres hopes, that this cyberspace group could help shape the direction of the island and provide for its people a better society in the future without going through a traumatic and bloody social and political upheaval.

The leaders of this cyberspace group have no illusions that they can have a profound impact on Samar by merely relying on constant exchanges of electronic mails through the Internet, by “ranting and raving in cyberspace”, in the words of Adelbert Batica, one of its strongest supporters. Other means of direct action will have to be employed.  One of these is the need to establish direct links to groups in Samar and the Philippines by providing technical, financial, and material assistance.  But not in the form of doleouts.

In the meantime, the group members and their supporters have been provided a subdomain by Ray Gaspay, the Webmaster and Administrator of the favorite website of Samarnons all over the world, Samar News.Com. This Internet cyber magazine has been drawing praises from all over the world. The subdomain is calledHingyap Han Kauswagan Han Samar”, meaning, “Yearning for the Progress of Samar”.

[*Gilda is one of the kindest and most generous Samarnons in California.  A constant pillar in Samarnon, Samar High, and Calbiganon affairs, in the San Francisco Bay Area, she is virtually an “organization woman”.  She has been in America for more than a generation and yet her attention and whatever resources she has, are devoted to Samar. She is married to Lawyer Luis del Pilar, a grand nephew of our national heroes.  They have a daughter, Patsy who is married to Caloy, and they have two young children. She graduated with honors from Samar High School where she was a lovely and popular campus figure as well as in the University of the East where she finished her degree in Accountancy. She works with Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco, California. – The Editor]





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