Friday, May 12, 2017

SM CDO Downtown Premier Grand Opening

Thousands of people came to shop or to see what the new mall has to offer for sale. Outside, the flow of vehicular traffic was slowed down because of the large number of people who wanted to drop by the mall to do their shopping activity. This was the sight on May 12, 2017, during the grand opening of the Henry Sy, Sr. owned SM CDO Downtown Premier which is the largest SM mall in Mindanao and the second in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao.

Constructed on the site of the former Coca Cola Plant, the SM CDO Downtown Premier is composed of a 5 story mall with 200 plus stores and a 12 story BPO with 8 floors of office space. The new business establishment is equipped with a parking space of 1,500 vehicle slots, and an underground water catchment basin to reduce the risk of flooding during heavy rains.

The new five story mall offers the public three level SM stores, SM hypermarket and seven cinemas consisting of the first ever large screen format theater in Mindanao, two director club theaters for intimate screening and four digital cinemas with 2D and 3D technologies, The new mall has also service center, specialty stores, restaurants, bowling centers, food hall, sky hall, sky garden and origami inspired wall.


SM CDO Downtown Premier is expected to boost the local economy with the added tax revenue that can be collected by the city. It will also give business and employment opportunities to the local populace. The SM BPO alone can already generate as many as 4,000 Information Technology jobs to qualified applicants. The opening of SM CDO Downtown Premier for business is expected to further enhance the image of Cagayan de Oro as a major business and tourist destination in Mindanao.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cagayan de Oro Philippine-American War Memorial

“Plaza de los Heroes” is a memorial dedicated to the heroic sons and daughters of Cagayan de Misamis (the former name of Cagayan de Oro) who made sacrifices or shed their blood during the Philippine-American War at the turn of the 20th century or the year 1900. It is situated beside the office of Pueblo de Oro near Shoemart along Masterson Ave., Upper Carmen, Cagayan de Oro.

The defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War forced it to sign with the United States the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898, ending the war and ceding to the latter Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. The United States annexed the Philippines after paying Spain the sum of $20,000,000 as compensation. Emilio Aguinaldo whose Filipino forces were instrumental in the defeat of the Spaniards took the opportunity to proclaim the First Philippine Republic and made himself the president. However, his authority was not recognized by the Americans who now considered the Philippines under their rule. With a fledgling government undermined with the presence of American forces who wanted absolute control of the country, Aguinaldo declared war against the Americans on June 2, 1899, and a full blown war followed.  

In the province of Misamis and the town of Cagayan de Misamis, the leaders of these places pledged their allegiance to the First Philippine Republic after the defeat of the Spaniards. And torn between the issues of their allegiance to Aguinaldo’s government and the American occupation, civil officials and prominent citizens of Cagayan de Misamis met on January 1, 1900 in Club Popular, the present day location of Saint Augustine Maternity and General Hospital, to take a common stand on the matter. In that meeting, they agreed to sign the Pact of Resistance to American colonial rule.  

American forces arrived in Cagayan de Misamis on March 30, 1900. Their presence created a tense situation where an armed confrontation between them and Filipino forces in Cagayan de Misamis under Gen. Nicolas Capistrano was inevitable. As expected, bloody battles happened between the two forces in an area at Saint Augustine Cathedral on April 3, 1900, in Agusan Hill on May 14, 1900 and in Makahambus Hill on June 4, 1900. In these battles many Kagay-anon fighters were either killed or wounded.

The main feature of the memorial is the three trapezoid shaped concrete vertical slabs which are installed at an angle with each other. The slabs are inlaid with granite tiles on which the names of the Kagay-anon heroes of the war are inscribed in color gold. Those vertical structures stand on a concrete circular base, several lampposts adorn the structures. The memorial was inaugurated on June 4, 2004.

List of people in the memorial include those with surnames that are common or prominent in the city, and there are other surnames that are rarely borne among the populace at present. The list and other data that are found in the monument are said to be taken from the manuscript of Filomeno M. Bautista in his “Philippine Revolution of Misamis Oriental Province”.

Following are names and other information that are inscribed in the memorial:

                                 The Heroes in the Battle of Cagayan de Misamis

Maj. Ramon Neri Liñan, Capt. Bernardino Cabañeros, Capt. Clemente Chacon, Capt. Apolinar Pabayo, Lt. Pablo Lago, Lt. Braulio Sacala, Lt. Florencio Zulueta, Doroteo Abalde, Eugenio Adubas, Fabian Atingas, Enecerio Baaclo, Celedonio Baang, Francisco Baguchay, Juan Baguchay, Doroteo Beja, Ciriaco Bongado, Doroteo Caingin, Emeterio Caingin, Juan Caingin, Segundo Caingin, Juan Comendador, Cirilo Dacer, Potenciano Dakilog, Bartolome Disalan, Gregorio Ebari, Jacinto Ebari, Lorenzo Ebari, Mariano Ebari, Silverio Ebari, Pedro Echem, Fortunato Emano, Eulogio Esmadre, Benito Jabiniao, Benedicto Labnao, Feliciano Liñan, Victoriano Lumban, Francisco Nacnac, Francisco Natimdim, Casiano Neri, Casiano Oco, Cenon Pabayo, Eleno Pacapat, Doroteo Pacheco, Evaristo Pacheco, Eugenio Pacheco, Mariano Pacheco, Doroteo Pacturanan, Vicente Pacupat, Marcelino Paison, Miguil Pactain, Juan Salda, Ambrosio Sambaan, Eustaquio Talaquig, Celedonio Wabe
                                                Men of the Mindanao Battalion

Lt. Jose Racines Roa, Sgt. Antonio Antig, Sgt. Saturnino Neri, Blas Abas, Demetrio Almonia, Tomas Bajarla, Saturnino Bugahat, Pablo But-an, Enecerio Dakut, Dalmacio Echem, Santos Maandig, Inocencio Mabulay, Arcadio Mabalacad, Pedro Mongonoya, Crisanto Neri, Matias Neri, Regalado Oco, Francisco Paasa, Eleno Pislong, Alejandro Ramonal, Braulio Tabantaban, Pio Yare

                                                   Women of the Revolution

 Arcadia Valenzuela and her troops of women warriors from Lapasan, Cecilia Castañeda Capistrano, the “Inspiration of the Revolution”, and Bartola, Anastacia and Placida Eblacas of Kibawe, Libona, Bukidnon who treated and fed the revolutionaries.

     The civilians in the revolution who gave material and logistical support to the Kagay-anon warriors

Fabian Abellanosa, Fausto Bandialan, Juan Bautista, Ramon Chaves, Toribio Chavez, Manuel R. Corrales, Julian Eblacas, Paulino Eblacas, Quintino Eblacas, Isabelo Gonzales, Hilario Mandar, Nicasio Nagales, Anastasio San Jose Neri, Policarpio Neri, Vicente Neri, Mundo Reyes (Camiguin), Timoteo Baz, Placido Reyes (Camiguin), Vicente Rivera, Pedro R. Roa, Alejo Seriña (Opol), Guillermo Yacapin (Libona)

                                                    Financiers of the revolution

Tirso R. Neri, Jose C. Roa, Cipriano A. Vamenta, Pio A. Roa

                                                  Heroes of the Battle of Agusan Hill

1st Company, Mindanao Battalion:

Capt. Vicente R. Roa, Lt. Nemesio Yamomo, Sgt. Uldarico Akut, Sgt. Zosimo Roa, Cpl. Maximo Roa, Domingo Abanador, Dionesio Abas, Edmidio Abejuela, Clemente Achas, Filomeno Achas, Gimeno Achas, Pablo Achas, Filomeno Buzon, Fausto Cabacungan, Emeterio Cuares, Vicente Dacubar, Juan Daumar, Sotero Daumar, Leoncio Echem, Pedro Echem, Juan German, Inocencio Mabulay, Agapito Mabulay, Felix Mabulay, Silverio Mabulay, Pio Nana, Canuto Quina, Santiago Raagas, Valeriano Raagas, Casiano Rabadan, Feliciano Rabadan, Domingo Raloso, Andres Roa, Severino Sabalo, Felix Sabanal, Herminigildo Sabanal, Benito Salcedo, Tomas Saco, Anastasio Santua, Guillermo de la Serna, Pastor Soilon, Mateo Tabalon, Rafael Tabalon, Inocentes Ualo, Enrique Ubaldo, Francisco Velez, Sixto  Velez, Alberto Villases, Marciano Yaminyamin

The Macheteros:

Doroteo Abejo, Zoilo Alar, Fructuoso Emano, Lucas Emano, Francisco Ergina, Canuto Galles, Basilio Jamil, Frutuoso Lagarit, Leon Lucaban, Alejandro Mologan, Juan Pijo, Castor Soilon

                         The Heroes in the Battle of Macahambus Hill June 4, 1900

Capt. Cruz Taal, Lt. Miguel Puano, Juan Janola, Lucio Labitad, Gabino Lumindas, Apolinar Nacalaban

The officers during the Philippine-American War in Cagayan de Misamis

Commander in Chief                                     Gen. Nicolas Capistrano
Aide de Camp                                                 1st Lt. Bernardino Neri
On Special Detail                                            2nd Lt. Juanito Valmores
Secretary to the General                               Santiago del Castillo
Asst. Commander in Chief                             Maj. Justo Gaerlan
Aide de Camp                                                  2nd Lt. Juan Roa Valdeconcha

Mindanao Battalion (All Infantry)

Battalion Commander                                      Maj. Apolinar Velez
Aide de Camp                                                    2nd Lt. Clemente Chavez

1st Company Commander                                Capt. Vicente R. Roa
Senior Officer                                                    1st Lt. Jose R. Roa
Junior Officer                                                     2nd Lt. Cruz Taal

2nd Company Commander                                 Capt. Gregorio Chacon
Senior Officer                                                     1st Lt. Bernardino Neri

Quarter Master
Chief Quarter Master                                         Maj. Cayetano Pacana
Asst. Quarter Master                                          Capt Fausto del Prado
Admin Officer                                                       1st Lt. Filomeno Bacarrisas

Medical Corps
Chief Surgeon                                                        Capt. Sancho Baviera
Asst. Surgeon                                                         1st Lt. Vicente Espedido

 Cavalry Division

Commander                                                              1st Lt. Agripino Bautista
Asst. Commander                                                    2nd Lt. Jose Corrales
Non Commissioned Officer                                    Sgt. Uldarico Akut


Battalion Commander                                               Maj. Ramon N. Liñan
Asst. Commander                                                      Capt. Gil S. Pacana

 1st Company Commander                                        Capt. Apolinario Pabayo
Asst. Commander                                                      Lt. Clemente Pabayo

2nd Company Commander                                         Capt. Zoilo Mercado
Asst. Commander                                                       Lt. Florencio Zulueta

3rd Company Commander                                          Capt. Anastasio Pimentel
Asst. Commander                                                        Lt. Juan Waga

4th Company Commander                                           Capt. Bernardino Cabañeros
Asst. Commander                                                         Lt. Pablo Lago

5th Company Commander                                            Capt. Tomas Olango
Asst. Commander                                                          Lt. Bernardo Sacala

6th Company Commander                                             Capt. Pedro V. Valdehueza
Asst. Commander                                                           Lt. Pedro Agapay

7th Company Commander                                              Capt. Clemente Chacon
Asst. Commander                                                            Lt. Eustaquio Caballero

The memorial was constructed through the effort of the following persons and entities: National Historical Institute, Mayor Vicente Emano and the members of the City Council, Atty. Pureza N. Ramos, Agnes P.R. Roa, Sandy Bass Sr., Thaddeus Bautista, Ramon Chaves and the Kagay-anon Heritage Foundation.

Related Posts:
Cagayan de Oro during the Philippine-American War (Part 1- The Battle of Cagayan de Misamis)
Cagayan de Oro during the Philippine-American War (Part 2- The Battle of Agusan Hill)
Cagayan de Oro during the Philippine-American War (Part 3- The Battle of Makahambus Hill)
Cagayan de Oro during the Philippine-American War (Part 4- American Victory)
Macahambus Cave and Gorge

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mangrove Planting: the Making of a Mangrove Forest on the Shore of Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro

The rise in human population and human activities create problems that have a far reaching effect on the environment. The need for material resources resulted to the destruction of forests and erosion of mountains and coastal areas. These problems are aggravated by the phenomenon called climate change where weather pattern is disrupted and people experience natural calamities such as flash floods, typhoons and drought. People have tried to mitigate the affect of these events by reforesting mountains, planting trees in urban and rural communities, regulating the extraction of mineral resources and implementing proper waste and garbage disposal among other activities. In this article I will focus my discussion on the activities that people or groups are doing specifically the planting of mangroves to develop a forest of trees in the coastal village of Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City.

A shrub or a small tree, mangrove grows on the swampy part of the sea shore that is inundated with the runoff of salt and fresh water from the river or creeks during high tide. It has oval leaf and roots that project from the sand or mud. Mangrove can survive in a highly saline environment because of its ability to filter out salt water. It propagates itself through its fruit called propagules which when mature fall into the sand or mud to grow into a new plant.

Dense mangrove vegetation makes a forest that sustains an ecosystem where different animals can live interdependently with one another for their survival. On the forest floor, the rising water at high tide and the residual water at low tide serve as sanctuaries and breeding, spawning and hatching ground for small species of fish, a situation which can also provide humans with foods. The sandy and muddy ground under the trees is a habitat for crabs, oysters, shells, algae and other aquatic or amphibious creatures. The forest also hosts different insects that are attracted to the tree flowers for their food and reproduction. The availability of foods such as fish, insects, crabs and worms make the forest an abode or hunting ground for some species of migratory or resident birds.

Coastal erosion can be prevented with a forest of mangrove on the shore because tree roots keep the sand and the mud from being washed away into the sea. Over time, without the trees, the sea will gradually eat up portions of the edges of the shore thus pushing coastal residents farther inland. Mangrove forest can serve as the buffer between marine and terrestrial communities thereby giving protection to people living in coastal areas during catastrophic events such as typhoons, storm surges and tsunamis.                                                              
In Cagayan de Oro, a tract of the swampy shore in the village of Bonbon is devoted to the growing and propagation of mangrove to turn the area into a mangrove forest. The shore is located at the estuary of Cagayan de Oro River where the salt water of Macajalar Bay meets the fresh water of the river. A mangrove forest there can help stave off the destructive effects of natural calamities such as typhoons. On 2011, the city experienced its worst natural disaster in history when thousands of its residents who lived along the river banks were killed when they were swept away by the heavy volume of water and sediments that overflowed from the river during the onslaught of Typhoon Sendong.  

With coordination from the City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (CLENRO) people from different walks of life, in their own small way, have been coming to the place to contribute their fair share of effort in greening the shore with mangroves. If a large percentage of what they planted will survive, then the shore will turn into a large mangrove forest in the future. The people or groups include members of the Armed Forces and the police, business establishments, students from different schools and civic organizations such as the Lion’s Club.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Macahambus Cave and Gorge

Macahambus Cave and Macahambus Gorge are some of the natural tourist attractions of Cagayan de Oro City which are located south of Lumbia Airport which is now a Philippine Air Force base. The natural cave is located at the eastern side of a highway going to Bukidnon.  At the mouth of the cave are two markers from the National Historical Institute. Inside the cave is the main chamber which can accommodate 10 to 20 standing people. It is totally dark inside and the atmosphere is eerie so that a visitor needs a flashlight to illuminate his surroundings. There is no large amount of stalagmites or stalactites in the cave but traces of them are visible. Some fruit bats hang on the ceiling and walls of the cave. Moving farther, a visitor can make out a short tunnel that is faintly illuminated by a natural light. To get out through the other end of the cave, he has to follow the light. Since the space in the tunnel is narrow, he has to crouch his way out of the cave. Right outside the cave’s exit is a viewing deck or veranda which without it a careless visitor will fall off a steep precipice with boulders beneath it. On the viewing deck he sees the scenic Cagayan de Oro River. He can get back to the highway without entering back the cave by walking through the short bridge that leads to a footpath on a slope.

Cagayan de Oro River from the viewing deck
An exit path with railings
Just about 200 meters from the entrance of Macahambus Cave at the western side of the road is the Macahambus Gorge or doline. Looking at the gorge from a high ground, the visitor sees it as just an ordinary terrain with cliffs, high ground and low ground with lush vegetation. The physical shape of the gorge or the doline is made indistinguishable by the trees, vines and bushes that cover the surface of the ground. A visitor
has to climb down the flight of steps of a steel staircase to explore the bottom of the gorge. 

The bottom of the gorge

Aside from being tourist attraction, the Macahambus Cave and Macahambus Gorge are also natural historical monument of the city because the hills at these cave and gorge are the site of the battle between the US and Filipino forces during the Philippine-American War in the last year of the 19th century. The “Battle of Macahambus Hill” is one of the few battles where the Filipino combatants prevailed over the better armed and trained American soldiers.

American troops in the area of Macahambus Hills in 1900

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fidel Castro, the Tough Communist Political Leader of Cuba

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro was a political leader of Cuba who was instrumental in making his country the first and only communist state in the Western Hemisphere. His defiance against the USA and his rhetoric against her had made him a known and controversial figure in the world. A small communist state just right at its immediate doorstep was an affront to the United States the world’s leading superpower and the bastion of democracy and capitalism. American presidents in the past with the help of the CIA planned and made efforts to get rid of Castro. They carried out a CIA orchestrated invasion by Cuban exiles on Cuba, made assassination attempts on him, instigated counter revolutions and imposed economic embargo on that nation, but all of them failed. Castro as Cuban communist leader and dictator outlasted 10 US presidents.

The son of an affluent sugar cane plantation owner who was an immigrant from the Galicia region of Spain, Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926 in Biran Oriente, Cuba. He studied in Catholic schools in his childhood as well as in high school. Although he was just an average student in terms of academic performance, he excelled in sports. In college, he enrolled in law school at the University of Havana. It was there that he learned Marxist Leninist ideology and embraced its ideals. In 1948, he married Mirta Diaz-Balart who was a daughter of a wealthy landlord. Although that marriage had given him further high economic and socially privileged status, Castro was nevertheless averse to a bourgeois lifestyle.

Getting involved in politics, Castro ran for congressional seat in his district, but his aspiration was cut short by a military coup d’état led by General Fulgencio Batista. Castro challenged the legitimacy of the Batista government through legal means, but his moves did not prosper. His frustrations in his effort along with the highhandedness of the military regime prompted him to go underground. He then organized a group in a plot to mount an armed rebellion against Batista.

Castro (second from the left) was under investigation
On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro, his brother Raul and 160 armed followers, raided the Moncada barracks In Santiago. However, they were repelled by its trained 600 soldiers. Sixty of Castro’s men were killed and he and Raul were captured, jailed and tried in court. The court sentenced him and Raul to 15 years imprisonment. The pleadings of the Catholic Church and Batista’s grant of political amnesty reduced the brothers’ sentence to just 2 years.

After their release from prison Fidel and Raul went to Mexico where they organized the “26th of July Movement” with fellow Cubans. They also met a group of people who were opposed to the dictatorial governments in the Caribbean countries. It was there that Fidel met Ernesto “Che” Guevara, an Argentinean doctor and a fellow Marxist-Leninist ideologue who also became an iconic figure in Latin American Marxist revolutions. Sharing same political views and revolutionary cause, Fidel and Che Guevara developed close association with each other.

Fidel Castro (right)
On December 26, 1956, Castro and the armed expedition of 81 young men of the “26th of July Movement” rebels landed on Cuban soil from a yacht called Granma. However, the group was intercepted by the military and as a result nearly everyone was killed and only Fidel, his brother Raul, Che Guevara and nine others were able to escape and retreat to the mountains of Sierra Maestra.

Fidel Castro (right) and Che Guevara
Eluding capture, Fidel, Raul and Che Guevara continued with their underground activities, drawing people to their cause and organizing them. Their prime targets were the people in the hinterland villages. The group gained many members and supporters especially the poor people in the remote villages so that many areas eventually came under rebels’ influence and control. In contrast, the military government of Fulgencio Batista was popular only to the elites and the middle class but was detached to the poor and ordinary people who composed the majority of the Cubans. As corruption, repression and brutalities of the Batista regime continued the elites and the middle class were also disillusioned with the regime and they too became sympathetic to the rebels led by Castro. Even the United States was appalled by the excesses of Batista and his soldiers so that she withdrew her support to them.

The bad economic and social situations in Cuba along with the withdrawal of US support greatly weakened the government but strengthened the Castro-led rebellion. Castro had slowly gained momentum in the armed rebellion against the now highly demoralized government forces. The rebels who were backed by the people gradually captured towns after towns until it would just be a matter of time that they would take the whole country. With the defeats suffered by his soldiers, General Batista was forced to flee Cuba on July 1, 1959 bringing along with him millions of dollars in government money and lived in exile in the Dominican Republic.

A provisional government was established with Manuel Urrutia as president and Fidel Castro as the commander of the revolutionary army. In July 1959, Castro effectively took over as the supreme leader. Calling himself a moderate socialist at first, Castro implemented social and economic reforms to improve the lives of the Cubans such as undertaking massive infrastructure projects, providing free education and health care and implementing agrarian reform. The US at first was hopeful that Castro would not take drastic moves that would adversely affect her interest. However, in the long run, Castro revealed his real socialistic and nationalistic tendencies by seizing and nationalizing businesses and collectivizing farms including those owned by the Americans. Castro also made an economic cooperation and partnership with USSR that greatly worried the US. The Soviets and Cuba made a deal on which Cuban sugar was traded for Russian oil on a generous terms to the latter. Castro then demanded that American oil companies such as Shell, ESSO and Standard Oil processed the imported Russian oil. When they refused, Castro expropriated those companies. Castro’s actions and his continuous rhetoric against the US resulted to sanctions such as abolition of quota on Cuban sugar in the US market, prohibition of export to that country on specific goods and the severance of diplomatic relation.

In order to protect what he perceived as the gains of his revolution, Castro made drastic measures such as jailing political opponents, curtailing free speech and the freedom of the press and using the military to suppress dissents. Despite his dictatorial policies, majority of the Cubans were still behind him.  However, Castro’s method of governance had disillusioned some Cubans especially those who belonged to the upper classes of society as well as those who were adversely affected with his social reforms. Those people at the height of the revolution had switched their support from Batista to Castro. But now, they have regretted casting their lot on him since he was as repressive and brutal as Batista. While acceptable to most Cubans, Castro’s rule on the other hand resulted to thousands of Cubans fleeing and immigrating to the United States and settling in Florida.

Realizing that Castro was establishing a communist state right near its doorstep, US made moves to deal with him. The economic embargo was not effective enough since USSR was giving financial support to Cuba. With other means in mind, US leadership ordered the CIA to make clandestine training of Cuban exiles in Guatemala with a mission to invade Cuba and topple down Castro. The invasion force called Brigade 2506 landed on the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. This planned invasion was thwarted because it was intercepted by Castro’s revolutionary forces. The failed invasion only strengthened Castro’s hold of his government and increased his prestige in the world stage.

Believing that the US would not stop in its effort to eliminate him, Castro allowed USSR to deploy ballistic missiles with range capable of reaching major US cities in Cuba as a deterrent to another US invasion or attack. When he knew it, US President John F. Kennedy was very furious and considered that move as an act of aggression by USSR and Cuba. In retaliation the US imposed a naval quarantine around Cuba to prevent Soviet ships carrying nuclear missiles and other weapons or delicate materials from entering Cuba. The situation brought the world to the brink of nuclear war between the two of the world’s superpowers. The highly dangerous conflict was defused when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev sensibly accepted US terms of stopping the naval blockade in return for USSR’s taking away all its ballistic missiles in Cuba. In addition US should pull out its nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy and secretly pledged with the Soviet premier not to invade Cuba in the future. The deal reached by the two superpowers made the world breathe a sigh of relief because a potential nuclear war or a third world war was averted.

Despite Cuba’s isolation to many western countries and the economic embargo imposed by the US, Castro still made progress in his social and economic endeavors for his country. He built massive public infrastructures, implemented agrarian reforms, provided socialized housing and gave free education and health care to all Cubans. Under his watch Cuba has the highest number of doctors per capita in Latin America. There is however perennial shortage of food and lack of personal freedom. Cuba was able to get by with the help of the Soviets which always gave it generous financial deals.

An iconic photo of Che Guevara
Like most communist leaders and ideologues, Fidel Castro believed that Marxist ideals to attain a utopian society should be spread throughout the world through armed or unarmed struggle. In this regard, his co-revolutionary and Marxist friend Che Guevara was killed in Bolivia in 1967 while operating there to lay the groundwork for a communist insurgency. Exporting his revolution, Castro sent Cuban forces to different parts of the world to help Marxist inspired rebellions and he also extended help to countries that are just allied with Cuba and USSR. As proxies to the Soviets, Cuban troops went to Angola, Grenada and Ethiopia to help those countries win armed conflicts. Cuba along with China, North Korea and other countries gave assistance to North Viet Nam during the Viet Nam War. Castro's leadership standing and prestige among the leaders of third world countries catapulted him to a position as a head of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) from 1979 to 1982.

Fidel Castro at the UN
The collapse and disintegration of USSR in 1991 was a big blow to Cuba since it also meant that the former could no longer sustain its financial subsidy that was provided to the latter. And there was also the US economic embargo which was still in effect. But somehow Cuba was able to stave off economic collapse by furthering its economic ties with such countries such as Canada, China, Venezuela and others. Cuba also opened its door to the tourism industry which replaced sugar as its biggest money earner.

With the passing of years, ill health, and old age have finally caught up with Fidel Castro. Now physically weak, he temporarily handed down powers to his younger brother Raul in July 2006. On February 19, 2008, Fidel Castro announced he would no longer seek another term as president. Although no longer at the helm, he was still consulted by Raul and other high Cuban officials on issues of high importance. Several years after Fidel’s resignation, a significant development occurred between Cuba and the United States. President Barrack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro re-established the diplomatic ties between their two countries. It was a major milestone that may in the future lead to the lifting of the economic embargo against the island nation. In the present it will not happen since the republican controlled congress will not grant that reward to a country with serious human rights issues.

Although Cubans still wanted to see him get involved in the affairs of the government, Fidel Castro faded from the public view because of his failing health. On November 25, 2016, the Cuban State television network announced that Fidel Castro had died. Like most dictators, Castro was a divisive figure in his country. Many of his countrymen mourned his passing away, while on the other hand Cubans who were opposed to him, especially those in exiles in Florida were glad that the leader who symbolized the violation of civil liberties in Cuba was finally gone.

Fidel Castro will be remembered in history as the leader of a poor, small country who defied a super power and got away with it. Some people may not share his communist ideals, but many others will agree that he was an extraordinary strong, decisive leader with a charismatic personality who had the courage of his convictions to fight for the cause he believed in. In his lifetime his actions as a leader had profound impact on USSR and USA which had also somehow affected the lives of many people in the world.


Monday, November 14, 2016


Report on the supermoon made people wait for this phenomenon to take place on the evening of November 14, 2016. At first, they were however not sure to see the night spectacle considering that the month of November in the Philippines  is full of rains, dark cloudy skies and typhoons that might obstruct their view of the moon. Fortunately for those who were expecting to see the moon on that date the weather turned out to be fine early in the evening with the moon shining brightly. However, at past 9 pm some dark clouds appeared in the sky that intermittently blocked the sight of the moon.

What made the phenomenon worth watching was that the moon on that date was the closest to the earth in 68 years or nearly 7 decades. The last supermoon before this one occurred in 1948.This event won’t happen again until 2034. As expected, the moon reached the closest point to the earth at about 7:21 pm or two hours and 31 minutes before going full moon at 9:52 pm. In that evening the proximity of the moon to the earth made it seem larger in apparent diameter than a moon seen on ordinary evenings. A super moon can be seen 14% bigger and 30% brighter than a full moon that shows when it is farthest to earth according to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).However, untrained eyes, most probably won’t be able to make much distinction in size and luminosity between a supermoon and an ordinary moon. The people in my place were glad to have seen the rare celestial occurrence that is the supermoon.