It’s About Time: FilAm Leaders Urge The Return of Bells of Balangiga

Excerpt from this blog entry came from the Casper Tribune article,  “Bells of Balangiga a Divisive Symbol of War, to leave Wyoming and Return to the Philippines” (August 16, 2018)

The Church Bells of Balangiga now in Ft. Russell, WY

On October 2, 2018, the Filipino American community in Chicago called for the return of the church bells of Balangiga, Samar, an important symbol of the Philippine-American War. The US Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently notified Congress that the US government is expecting to return the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines, where they would be treated with the “respect and honor they deserve” by the Catholic Church there, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Manila cited in published reports (Casper Tribune, August 16, 2018).

Since 1905, the US military has kept the bells of Balangiga as war booty and it’s often seen as a divisive symbol of the Philippine-American War. Filipino Americans should contact their Congressional Representatives and urge their elected officials to hasten the return of the bells back to Samar where it belongs.

(from left to right): Representative from Filipino American Veterans of IL; Deputy Consul General Romulo Israel; Consul General Gina Jamoralin; Rose San Diego; and more representatives from the Filipino American Veterans of IL

Rose San Diego, Liaison of the Filipino American Veterans of Illinois and representatives of the Chicago Nightingales, a group of Filipino American nurses advocating for health and wellness in the community, joined forces with other Filipino American leaders in Chicago to rally for the return of the Balangiga bells.

In 1901, the bells were taken from a burnt-down church in Balangiga, Samar as trophies of war dating back to the U.S. military’s occupation of the Philippines in the early 20th century. Two of the three bells  now reside at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming where they have been kept since the return of Wyoming’s 11th Infantry from the conflict.

Balangiga Church, Balangiga, Samar (June 2018 photo)

It’s about time the US return the bells to Samar. The US should not keep them as war booty. The bells serve as spoils of the Balangiga Massacre, a mission of retaliation by the U.S. military following a morning assault on American fighters by machete-wielding Filipino militants, killing 48 of the 78 Americans in the unit. The bells were taken by the Americans following a directive by General Jacob H. Smith to shoot all Filipino men over the age of 10 and able to bear arms: an illegal act of revenge against the civilians of the small town of Samar. Both Smith and Major Littleton Waller were court-martialed for the massacre, however, only Smith was found guilty. The conviction was later dropped.

Balangiga statue depicting the Balangiga Massacre (June 2018)

In May and September 2018, I visited the Balangiga Church and the statue in front of the church plaza depicting the massacre. I was surprised myself to learn about this forgotten part of history (Ignacio, The Forbidden Book, 2004). I always thought the US was helpful and benevolent towards its former colony, the Philippines.


Depiction of Balangiga Massacre, painting at Tanuan, Batangas (August 2017)

At the end of the US Philippine War, soldiers of the 11th Infantry brought two church bells from Balangiga back to the base where they were stationed at the time—Fort D.A. Russell outside Cheyenne, now F.E. Warren Air Force Base. A third bell from the Balangiga church, owned by the 9th Infantry, remains at the U.S. Army’s Camp Red Cloud, Uijeongbu, South Korea. These bells are finally coming home and it’s the right thing to do.

The return of the bells has long been a concern of officials in the Philippines: most recently, President Rodrigo Duterte asked the U.S. to return the bells during his second State of the Nation Address last year, noting their symbolism as a sign of resistance against American colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“Those bells are reminders of the gallantry and heroism of our forebears who resisted the American colonizers and sacrificed their lives in the process,” a translation of Philippine Duterte speech reads.

“That is why I say today; give us back those Balangiga bells,” he said to applause. “They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage.”

“We are aware that the Bells of Balangiga have deep significance for a number of people, both in the United States and in the Philippines,” US Secretary of Defense Mattis said in a statement.

The return of the bells has been pushed for by some Americans, including retired Air Force pilot Spike Naysmith and former U.S. Ambassador to the Phillipines Frank Wisner, who wrote a letter to U.S. Rep Liz Cheney describing the taking of the bells as a “profound error,” and that the arguments in favor of taking and keeping the bells were based on historical inaccuracies. In a letter dated June 16, 2017, Wisner claims the bells kept in Cheyenne were neither brought to Wyoming by Wyoming’s own Company C, nor did they serve as signals of the surprise attack at Balangiga: they were instead “shipped to the U.S. from a scrap yard.”

“While I understand the issue has long been a cause for members of the Wyoming veteran community, and there are many who feel connected to the Bells, they do not belong on a U.S. Air Force base,” he wrote. “Their true home is in the belfry of the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.”

No specific date has been identified for the return of the bells, one of which currently resides at an air force base in South Korea. The fight for the return of the bells is not over. I also spoke briefly during the program ceremonies and advocated for the Filipino American community to contact their US Congressional Representatives and urge them to advocate for the return of the Bells of Balangiga.

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Pagbabalik: 2018 NEXTGEN Camillo Geaga Travels Back to the Philippines

In September 2018, NEXTGEN Fellow Camillo Geaga travels back to the Philippines. Camillo writes an essay of his personal thoughts of his 2017 trip at the same time as he reflects with his recent experience in 2018:

In August 2017, as a recipient of the 2nd annual NEXTGEN Pagbabalik ‘coming home’ program, I was guided through a 10-day trip of the Philippines, visiting mainly three islands.

2018 NEXTGEN Fellow Camillo Geaga attempts to climb a papaya tree (Samar, September 2018)

Ultimately, my favorite part of the trip was the deliciously rich tropical fruits such as the sweet mango (that looked like canned peaches) and the ‘lakatan’ banana (local banana variety that tastes like mango).

I sat on a balcony, to catch up on readings that Dale had given me describing Filipino cultural and social values such as ‘hiya’ [shame], ‘amor-propio’ [love of one’s self], ‘utang na loob’ [indebtedness], and ‘pakikisama’ [togetherness], I thought “am I crazy?”, I had not even considered this opportunity less than a year before, and there I was. Then I heard a young male (maybe a teen) singing “I’m not crazy, I’m just a little …” the rest I didn’t know, with a young woman tearing in with “Livin la vida loca.” I think that it was my favorite part because it showed an emotional longing and more common side of people, for affirmation and acceptance, that reflected what I had learned about at historical site such as the Rizal birthplace  and Mabini shrine, describing the plight of Philippine leaders during their revolutionary fight for freedom, that occurred over a century ago.

Camillo Geaga posing in front of the US landing of General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte Beach during WWII (Tacloban Leyte, September 2018)

I’m not quite sure of the origins of karaoke if it’s Filipino or American, as music is universal, and why I feel I can relate to it so well. Although I rarely sing, I play a lot of music, usually loud, that could be bothersome, especially to someone trying to sleep. I also feel that music can be like medicine with a nice vibration and a positive message that one can learn from. It’s like carrying the spirits of those before us, although it’s easy to get carried away. And not everybody likes the same music.

On the trip, I thought a lot of the difference between Filipino and American cultures, as American culture tend to be more individualistic and less community oriented (or ‘bayanihan’ spirit) than the Filipino culture. Regardless, one must stand for something, and that it can be difficult to navigate in our capitalistic culture that has mostly stripped us of our traditional ancestral heritage and customs.

In 2017, on my flight back to the States I had a difficulty breathing. I was wheezing on the plane and I was not able to sleep. Was I suffering from poor nutrition and eating mostly processed foods and sugar, leading to possible allergic reactions? Or was it the antibiotics that I have taken off and on for the last four years to fight a skin infection? Or maybe it was the medication that I had taken, for almost the same amount of time, to fight a mental illness? Or it could have been from my habit of smoking herbs that could also be filled with pesticides? Whatever it was, as I sat on the plane thinking of what could be the cause of my discomfort. I felt a pain in my liver that almost made me faint. I recognized that I was one sick puppy.  I felt a seriousness of it all. I had to take my health into my own hands and I couldn’t rely on anybody else to do it for me.

(left to right): Dale Asis, Venise Castillo, and Camillo Geaga riding a jeepney in Tacloban City, Leyte (September 2018)

One factor, that’s crucial, is diet and nutrition. I believe that food can and should be medicinal for us: specifically, foods high in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, that allow us to function optimally. However, my favorite meal on the trip was ‘lugaw’, a traditional mainly white rice porridge with chicken, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of green onion.  I have later come to realize that it was not only the warm memory of times when my mother would make ‘lugaw’ when I was sick, or the warmth of the soup itself, but that there may be truly healing properties to the stimulating qualities of plants such as ginger and garlic.

When I got home, I had a pasalubong (gift) to myself – the desire to change for the better health wise – primarily focusing on diet and nutrition. I don’t want to solely blame certain foods as bad, however I would like to encourage others to consume more nutritious foods. As Filipinos, we have a tremendously rich variety of traditional foods, some that could boast as champions of nutrition: some vegetables like malunggay (moringa), ampalaya (bitter melon), kalabasa (squash), eggplant, ube (taro), etc. as well as tropical fruits like mango, calamansi, banana, pineapple, rambutan, coconut and much more including mung beans, vinegar, and countless varieties of fish.

So, in taking better care of ourselves we can honor this life and what we have been given and prepare for a better future. This, I believe, is the active component of our long-held traditional belief in ‘bahala na’, or ‘come what may.’ I realized that life is a valuable struggle and that we are inheriting an honorable fight of the spirit that has carried on for centuries, even through positive lifestyle choices such as food.

I also want to recognize the plight of fellow brothers and sisters in the Philippines. We visited historical sites in the Philippines and planted mangrove seedlings in hopes of keeping another village from getting washed away and prevent the effects of climate change.

Teachers looked on as Evelyn Castillo (standing middle) and Camillo Geaga (standing far right) looked over the donated books for two elementary schools in Giporlos, Samar (September 2018)

At the close of our trip, we flew back to Manila and stayed in Ermita. We visited Intramuros, the old walled city, where Filipino hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned and executed; Quiapo Church and its open-air market; and Makati, where we saw a precolonial gold exhibit at the Ayala Museum. I was surprised to find out that gold was found on many islands and was worn mainly by the local leaders at the time. Overall, the trip was a valuable and enriching experience, one that I had hoped for, thanks to the Bayanihan Foundation.

Posted in Education, Philippine poverty, Philippines, Youth leadership development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Will Dix, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) Donate Over 2,400 Books for Library

(left to right); Kyle Craven, Dale Asis (Bayanihan Foundation), Karen Foley, and Willard Dix of Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) donate over 2,400 books to the ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive (August 2018)

My partner, Willard Dix, and his employer, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) donated over 2,400 children’s books to the Bayanihan Foundation’s ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. The generous book donation of Will and JPA will hopefully motivate others to donate and support the Bayanihan Foundation’s goal of education and long-term sustainability.

Willard Dix rescued the books from imminent landfill and donated them instead to the ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive (August 2018)

Will’s employer, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) received an unexpected donation of thousands of children’s books. However, they were not able to use them. So Will took the opportunity and donated the books to Bayanihan Foundation for the ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. The books will be used by thousands of school children in the Philippines and not being dumped in an eminent landfill.

Willard Dix of Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) helped shipped the books in balikbayan boxes to the Philippines (August 2018)




The thousands of book titles will be shipped to Giporlos, Samar and Iligan City and will be used to build libraries there.  JPA Intern Kyle Craven helped packed the books in balikbayan boxes. Willard Dix’s mother, Barbara, provided a generous donation for the shipment of the books to the Philippines.



In addition, the Bayanihan Foundation will  host two house party fundraisers in Chicago, IL and in Los Angeles, CA. The Chicago house party fundraiser brunch will be held on August 25, 2018 – 10 AM at the home of Dr. Maria Ferrera and Dr. Adam Avrushin in Oak Park, IL. The Los Angeles house party fundraiser will be held on August 26,2018 – 12 noon at the home of Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal and Fred Rosenthal.

NEXTGEN 2018 Fellow Camillo Geaga will travel to the Philippines and help build school libraries in the Philippines (August 2018)

The fundraisers will also celebrate NEXTGEN 2018 Fellow Camillo Geaga as he travels  to build these libraries in the Philippines. Camillo will also co-host the Los Angeles fundraiser. Please RSVP by calling Bayanihan Foundation (773) 273-9793 or email at if you’re interested in supporting the foundation’s educational efforts and enjoy delicious Filipino foods. You can also support this book drive by donating securely online at through PayPal or through Facebook:

Posted in Diaspora Donors, Diaspora Giving, Education | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

FilAm Kids Kick Off ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive Building Libraries in Philippines

Filipino American children put together mini-balikbayan boxes for ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. They are part of MG Bertulfo Kuwento! Filipino Story and Language Camp (photo courtesy of MG Bertulfo August 2018)

On August 7, 2018,  MG Bertulfo and the Kuwento! Filipino Story and Language Camp in Oak Park, IL launched the Bayanihan Foundation’s  NEXTGEN ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. 12 excited Filipino American children put together ‘mini balikbayan boxes’ full of books and school supplies, as part of a  week-long ‘Kuwento (Stories) Camp. The mini-boxes kicked off the foundation’s plans to send 3,000 books to Giporlos, Samar and Iligan City and build libraries there. The kids’ enthusiasm to build the mini-balikbayan boxes hopefully spur others to donate,  help build the libraries and support the Bayanihan Foundation’s goal of education and long-term sustainability.

(standing left to right Dr. Maria Ferrera and Dale Asis) sharing stories about bayanihan, balikbayan and other Filipino values to Filipino American children in Oak Park, IL (photo courtesy of MG Bertulfo)

Bayanihan Foundation board member Dr. Maria Ferrera of DePaul University and I joined renowned artist and writer MG Bertulfo as she spearheaded a successful Kuwento! Filipino Story and Language camp in Oak Park, IL. MG inspired the Filipino American kids to learn about their Filipino heritage at the same time they learned on how they could share beyond themselves.

Filipino American children learn Filipino culture and values including Bayanihan, Balikbayan and Pasalubong (photo courtesy of MG Bertulfo August 2018)



The Bayanihan Foundation will host two house party fundraisers in Chicago, IL and in Los Angeles, CA. The Chicago house party fundraiser will be held on August 25, 2018 at the home of Dr. Maria Ferrera and Dr. Adam Avrushin in Oak Park, IL. The Los Angeles house party fundraiser will be held on August 26,2018 at the home of Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal and Fred Rosenthal. NEXTGEN 2018 Fellow Camillo Geaga will also co-host the Los Angeles fundraiser. Please RSVP by calling Bayanihan Foundation (773) 273-9793 or email at if you’re interested in supporting the foundation’s educational efforts and enjoy delicious Filipino foods.


Your donation will also support the NEXTGEN 2018 Program that promotes young Filipino Americans to know more about their culture & heritage and develop sustainable projects. Your donation can also be directed to support the Jolynne Andal Biljetina Scholarship Fund.

(standing far left) Iligan Central Elementary School librarian Idamarie Navarro receives donated books for library from Bayanihan Foundation Evelyn Castillo (second to the right) and Dale Asis (standing far right) (August 2015)

You can donate securely online at through PayPal or through Facebook. Bayanihan Foundation is an US registered 501c3 public charity and has donated over $350,000 in charitable giving locally and globally to the Philippines through individual donors. 95% of donations go directly to programming.

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Filipino Cuisine – the joy of stinky food

Portions of this blog entry came from Eating While Immigrant: The Bitter Taste of Assimilation and the Joy of ‘Stinky’ Food by Joseph Hernandez, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2018

Chicken adobo (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Ever since I remember, my brother always liked chicken adobo. Almost every weekend, he would always asked my Mom if she would make it. My mother would always indulge him and make him his favorite dish. The house would smell of garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. My brother would relish the last bits of brown, soy sauce and smear it over white rice. The adobo smell seemed to stick to the kitchen walls as the aroma permeated our tiny kitchen for days. I asked my brother once, “Do you make chicken adobo at your house?”

“No, I don’t like it to stink up my house,” he said.

Was my brother ashamed of my mother’s cooking? Was he ashamed of being Filipino?  Was my brother trying so hard to look, act, and, yes, eat like an American? We certainly didn’t grow up eating grilled cheese sandwiches or chicken nuggets. Or was he just getting used to peanut butter sandwiches, Lunchables, and cups of diced peaches drowning in high-fructose corn syrup for lunch?

Filipino food is not stinky or weird. It’s comforting. It was how I experienced the world, both old and new. Food is how I knew I was loved.

Fast forward to 2018, Filipino cuisine — and Korean, and Sichuan, and Thai — is trendy. Restaurants around the country, run by white chefs, have “elevated” the foods of my mother and my people, of other immigrants, having profited off stacks of lumpia, bowls of pancit and adobo, and bottles of house-made fermented vinegars, without so much as a nod to the brown kitchens and people from which these foods originated (The Joys of ‘Stinky Cuisine’: Hernandez, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2018)

It’s a little bittersweet hurt to see my people’s food celebrated now as the new “it” girl of cuisine. To know that for years, my brother and countless others needlessly felt embarrassment and shame for loving the food of our mothers. To know that my mom just wanted us to fit in, as much as our brown skin stood out. There’s also the simultaneous joy in sharing, in the invitation of a meal — “come, get to know me, to know us, to know our food. There’s plenty of knowledge (and rice) to go around (The Joys of ‘Stinky Cuisine’: Hernandez, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2018).

Nowadays, when I bring a tray of pancit to work my Latinx coworkers would gobble it up in a heartbeat. No more comments of “that smells weird” or “what’s that?” They would heap their plates with my Mom’s noodles and said, “Hey this is good. Can you bring some more next time?”

At the age of six, I had, for the first time, a friend from school over for a play date. At that time, my family and I were living in a suburban town that was predominantly white. My playmate, Linda, was white. As it is customary, my mom provided us with a snack. Instead of crackers and juice or cookies and milk, she decided to put out a plate of rice and pork chop adobo. I was mortified. As Linda stared at the plate seemingly confused, I protested to mom, “She does not eat rice!” 

Excerpt from Glimpses into the Indigenous: Cultural Portals and the Ethnic Identity Development among Second Generation Filipino Americans by Maria Ferrera, 2013


My Mom’s Chicken Adobo Recipe

1 whole chicken, cut up in pieces

1/4 cup Marca Pina brand soy sauce

1/4 cup Marca Pina brand vinegar

1 whole garlic, chopped

3 bay leaves

10 to 12 whole peppercorns

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cut up whole chicken to pieces. Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorn as marinade. Pour over chicken. Marinate the chicken overnight.

Take chicken from marinade. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry chicken pieces until golden brown on both sides.  Add marinade back to chicken. Bring to boil then simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked through for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with white rice.

Posted in colonialism, culture, identity | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Filipino Bajaus Evolved Biologically For A Life At Sea

This blog entry came from the “Bodies Remodeled for A Life at Sea” (New York Times, April 2019) and “Group of People With An Amphibious Life Have Evolved With Traits to Match: Meet the Bajau” (The Economist, April 2018).

For thousands of years, the Sama-Bajau or Bajau, an indigenous group in Southern Philippines have spread out in nearby islands of Borneo and Indonesia. The Bajaus have been a nomadic, seafaring people, living off the sea by trading and subsistence fishing.[20] The boat-dwelling Sama-Bajau see themselves as non-aggressive people and successfully resisted assimilation from colonizers including the Spaniards, the Dutch, and the Americans.

The Bajaus have always been known to be excellent divers but recently they have been discovered that this indigenous groups have evolved biologically to have larger spleens to carry out the physiological feat of diving down to 200 feet in a blink of an eye. As scientists peer deeper into our genes, are we discovering instances of human evolution in just the past few thousand years?

The Bajaus are known for their excellent swimming and diving capabilities. They survive on a diet composed almost entirely of seafood. And to gather this they spend 60% of their working day underwater. They sometimes descend more than 200 feet, and can stay submerged for up to five minutes, using nothing more than a set of weights to reduce buoyancy and a pair of wooden goggles fitted with lenses fashioned from scrap glass that are resistant to distortion by the pressure at such depth — a physiological marvel.

A diver with a traditional wooden mask. Some researchers suspect the Bajau only began diving when Chinese demand for sea cucumbers rose in the 1600s. Other experts believe the Bajau began earlier, at the end of the last Ice Age, when rising sea levels turned the region into islands. CreditMelissa Ilardo and the New York Times

On April 2018, the magazine Cell featured the Bajaus and that they excelled in diving not just through skill and practice. They also have developed genetically to have larger spleens to adapt to life underwater. Their spleen scans showed that the Bajaus are 50% larger than those of the control group of another nearby indigenous group, Saluan—a difference unconnected with whether an individual was a prolific diver or one who spent most of his time working above the waves on a boat.  Larger spleens helps marine mammals dive deeper. As it turns out, seals with bigger spleens can dive deepest. An enlarged spleen seems to function like a bigger scuba tank and larger spleens of the Bajaus helped them adapt and hunt fish in the ocean better.

This suggests that it is Bajau lineage, rather than the real activity of diving, which is responsible for a larger spleen. Since the Bajau have lived like this for a long time (historical evidence suggests at least 1,000 years), many researchers have speculated that they carry genetic traits which adapt them to their remarkable lifestyle.

The Bajaus are a group who literally are born to dive and have evolved into better divers. Whether that evolution was driven by the failure of those who could not dive well to collect enough food to sustain a large family, or rather, of their dying in the attempt to do so, remains to be determined. It is a new kind of adaptation — not to air or to food, but to the ocean.

“They are simply a stranger to the land,” said Rodney C. Jubilado, a University of Hawaii anthropologist who studies the Bajau but was not involved in the new study.

The Bajau people number in the hundreds of thousands and live in houseboats and houses on stilts scattered across Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.Credit: Melissa Ilardo and the New York Times

In 2015, Melissa Ilardo, then a graduate student in genetics at the University of Copenhagen, heard about the Bajau. She wondered if centuries of diving could have led to the evolution of traits that made the task easier for them. Her first step was to travel to Sulawesi, Indonesia, and then to a coral reef island where she reached a Bajau village. After she proposed her study, they agreed to the plan. She returned a few months later, this time with a portable ultrasound machine to measure the size of the Bajau people’s spleens.

Dr. Melissa Ilardo taking an ultrasound scan of a Bajau diver’s spleen. Scientists have found that marine mammals with larger spleens can dive deeper — the enlarged spleen acts much like a bigger scuba tank.CreditPeter Damgaar and the New York Times

When Dr. Ilardo compared scans from the Bajaus and the nearby group, Saluan, she found a stark difference. The Bajau had spleens about 50 percent bigger on average than those of the Saluan. Yet even such a remarkable difference might not be the result of evolution. Diving itself might somehow enlarge the spleen. There are plenty of examples of experience changing the body, from calloused feet to bulging biceps.

Only some Bajau are full-time divers. Others, such as teachers and shopkeepers, have never dived. But they, too, had large spleens, Dr. Ilardo found. It was likely the Bajau are born that way, thanks to their genes.

Bajau homes built on stilts. Only some Bajau are full-time divers, while others are teachers and shopkeepers, but Dr. Ilardo found that all Bajau had enlarged spleens.CreditMelissa Ilardo and the New York Times

The only plausible way for this to happen is natural selection: the Bajau with those variants had more descendants than those who lacked them. For her own part, Dr. Ilardo suspects that natural selection favored the Bajau variant of PDE10A because deep diving is so risky. “I would think, as morbid as it is, that if they didn’t have this, it would kill them,” she said.

François-Xavier Ricaut, an anthropologist at the University of Toulouse who was not involved in the study, said that it wasn’t clear yet how quickly this evolutionary change happened.

Some researchers suspect the Bajau only began diving to great depths when a market for sea cucumbers opened up in China in the 1600s. Or perhaps the adaptation began thousands of years earlier, at the end of the Ice Age, when rising sea levels turned the region around Indonesia into islands.“This study acts as a cornerstone for exciting questions to follow,” said Dr. Ricaut, co-researcher and collaborator of Dr. Ilardo.

We are the products of evolution, and not just evolution that occurred billions of years ago. As scientists peer deeper into our genes, they are discovering instances of human evolution in just the past few thousand years.

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The Philippines Promotes ‘Balik’ (Return) Scientist Program

Philippines ‘BALIK’ (Return) Scientist Program (July 2018)

The Bayanihan Foundation have always encouraged ‘pagbabalik’ or coming home as part of its long-term vision. The NEXTGEN Program encourages young Filipino Americans to return to the Philippines and uphold both US and Filipino traditions and cultures. In June 2018, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the ‘Balik’ (Return) Scientist Program, which seeks to provide incentives to Filipino scientists living in the US and around the world to return to the Philippines and share their knowledge and expertise (GMA News Online, June 2018).

Kaluluwa Kolectivo and NEXTGEN Fellows enjoy Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City, Philippines (2015)

The consequences of ‘brain drain’, the emigration and flight of talented individuals to developed countries including the US is real and has negative, long-term consequences. On the other hand, programs like ‘Balik’ Scientist Program and the Bayanihan Foundation’s NEXTGEN Program might help reverse that trend. Besides remittances, return migration can have a positive impact on democratization and the quality of political institutions in the country of origin.

Signed into law on June 2018, the Philippines Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is actively recruiting Filipino scientists in the US to return to the Philippines to fill in the gaps in scientific and technological expertise in the country.

“The program shall aim to strengthen the scientific and technological human resources of the academy, public and private institutions, including locally registered enterprises in order to promote knowledge sharing and accelerate the flow of new technologies into the country,” the law read.

Returning scientists will be given an engagement ranging from 15 days to six months, while the medium-term program ranges from six months to one year. Returning scientists will be offered airfare for one round trip ticket, as well as a tax-exempt daily allowance as they take part in grants-in-aid (GIA) research.

The ‘Balik’ Scientist Program is supposed to encourage scientist to stay for a few weeks to one to three years, with airfare for one round trip for the awardees, their spouses, and minor dependents. Recipients will also receive special relocation benefits, participation in GIA research, and funding for the establishment and development of a facility or laboratory. Are you interested in coming back home and share your expertise? Additional info and application is found online at this LINK. The ‘Balik’ Scientist Program might help reverse the trend of brain drain into brain gain.

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Overseas workers, Philippines, Volunteerism, Youth leadership development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment