Friday, 28 January 2011

ode to brisbane

I was out doing some fieldwork today. On the way back to the office I switched on the radio in time to hear the premiere of a fun poem on ABC Brisbane (612 KHz on the AM dial). You can listen online through your computer's media player by clicking Win (Windows Media Player) or Real (Real Player) in the righthand panel under Internet Radio 612 ABC Brisbane.
The program is called Afternoons with Richard Fidler, and the host had a local poet Daniel Viles on the show. Here's Daniel's ode to brisbane post Flood '11.
The poem's a lot more fun recited, so i suggest read the poem and have a listen to the audio after.

link to audio
(The bold place names in the poem are Brisbane suburbs).

We moved here for the weather
posted 28 January 2011 by Rebecca Levingston
Daniel Viles is the poet laureate of 612 ABC Brisbane.
Today he poured his heart into a poem about his home town.
Brisbane... we moved here for the weather.

We Moved Here for the Weather
Oh sing a song of Brisbane! Top of 32 and fine.
Two million earthen vassals tightly squished and crammed together.
The number of us born here is approximately nine
and the rest of us just moved here for the weather.
"Pack your bags, we’re heading northward,” said the middle third of Melbourne.
“Thus us choice,” said much of Auckland as they emptied the City of Sails.
There were several trucks from Adelaide, maybe one or two from Perth
and there’s no-one left in country New South Wales.

And those born here made them welcome, taught them basic navigation,
though they kept on saying TOO-wong and they couldn’t spell Coorparoo.
And it’s grating when your lover says, “meet me in ten at Ow-chen-fluvver” (Auchenflower)
but you meet them ‘cause they’ve got more cash than you.

Like the quarter million merchant bankers who ran from Collins Street,
some who built their Windsor castle, some who built their Chelmer chateau,
some who built their Moggill manor, some who looked down past their feet
as they built their fort atop Monto Gravatto.

Like the hundred thousand property investors from Vaucluse,
all of whom self-relocated ‘fore the economic slump.
When asked, “Pray tell where you’re born?” They each proudly answer, “Er, Hawthorne,
For compared with here, Vaucluse is just a dump.”

Then there are those from overseas, like six thousand Sudanese
who fled the terrifying tank, the belligerent bazooka.
You can build a whole new life here if you just hold our your hand
in the land of opportunity: Moorooka.

Greeks and Italians moved to West End and became each other’s best friend
sharing baklava di Bari and spaghetti spartagiana.
While the Tongans and the Maori now live handsome in Bellbowrie.
You’re from Vietnam? Hey, welcome! Here’s Inala.

Here’s to those who built on Milton, those who grow that Rocklea broccoli.
There’s no more well-heeled than in Fairfield through the whole Antipodes.
Have you noticed how uncannily El Dorado looks like Annerley
and how no language makes you swoon like Rosaliese?

No metropolis created is by praise so ‘unindated’.
It’s a Gamma plus world city setting forth to snap the tether
that’s been binding those few people who were actually born in Brisbane
and the rest who simply moved here for the weather.

(c) Daniel Viles 2011

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Articles on Guina-ang

Just piggybacking the articles with some photos.

A photo of Guina-ang from decades ago
A more recent photo - still from the last century.
Centuries ago the barrio (village) of Guina-ang used to be part of Chonglian. At the height of inter-tribal conflicts, the collective councils of elders of the different wards of Mainit allowed the hamlet to be settled and to serve as lookout post against hostile intents from enemies from the south of the citadel of Mainit. Those days are long gone obviously, and Guina-ang ended up being settled by many families with roots from Mainit, as well as from nearby Maligcong and Dalican.

Photo of Guina-ang from deep in the mountains of Mainit to the north. In the background is Mt Kalawitan in Sabangan municipality.

Now to the articles:
A couple of oldish documents (on Guina-ang) here by Lawrence Reid. The first is on music and dancing. The other is a typical calendar of barrio life in Guina-ang in the 1960s.

First Article. dancing and music notes from guina-ang

Dr Reid writes:

Notes for this paper have been gathered during an eighteen month's residence in Guinaang, mainly from observation, but also from an informant, Benedict Sibfay, a middle aged man who has spent most of his adult years in the village. The data cannot be guaranteed as representative of the dancing or music of other Bontoc areas. There has been little observation of practices outside of Guinaang, but it is assumed that within the Central Bontoc area, comprising the Barrios of Mainit, Dalican, Malegcong, Tococan, Bontoc, Bontoc itself, and extending to Sadanga in the North and Bayyo in the West, the overall pattern would be the same, although details may vary from place to place. All terms used are local Guinaang terms.

More photos from deep in the mountains of Chonglian.

Guina-ang is at centre of picture. Dalican on the right.


These are available on the net. Click on the links.

Market stalls in present-day Guina-ang. They sell mostly bakery products and fresh local vegetables. There are no 'market days' in Dr Reid's calendar from 50 years ago.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Brisbane (Queensland) flood disaster 2011

Hydrology 101. Study of floods. A layman's take on the Brisbane floods of 2011.

The Catchment at a Glance.
The Brisbane River Catchment area is about 13,500 sq km. This catchment includes the Upper Brisbane, Stanley, Lockyer and Bremer Rivers. It includes 850kms of river and lake banks as well as 50 major creeks.

Over 85% of the catchment has been cleared and developed into various land uses, including rural (grazing, cropping and forested lands) and urban centres (at the lower catchment). This holds the largest population of any catchment in Queensland.

Photo shows an illustration of a typical catchment or drainage basin.
The Brisbane river catchment is equivalent to an area about 135km by 100km or about 70% of the Cordillera, and just slightly smaller than the land area of East Timor. This catchment could cover an area similar to part of the northern Philippines covered in the photo below. (Obviously this area of the Cordillera is NOT just in one, but several catchments).

This is merely illustrative as the Brisbane river catchment is more rough (apparition-shaped) and irregular, than rectangular (below). The path of the inland tsunami went from west to east (Toowoomba to Brisbane) for about 150km.

The critical centres affected by the floods are highlighted further in the photos below.

Before the deluge
According to experts, this summer (wet season down under) marks one of the strongest (if not THE strongest) La Niña events since records began in the late 19th century . The Bureau of Meteorology, as early as October, was warning of substantially increased rain across eastern Australia.
In the previous October and November, the Brisbane river catchments received more than their fair share of spring and summer rains. Brisbane experienced its wettest December in 150 years.
After the last great flood disaster in 1974, Lake Wivenhoe was dammed primarily for flood mitigation purposes and to protect Brisbane from a similar Q100 (one in 100 year event). However the dam was nearly twice its capacity (193%) at the height of the rains, and cannot hold anymore water had the rains kept falling. The other main dam in the catchment, somerset dam was at 160%.

Northern part of Brisbane River catchment

Southern part of Brisbane River catchment

What transpired.
• Three weeks of rains had saturated the city of Toowoomba before it was hit by a line of intense thunderstorms and 36 hours (and more than 160mm) of torrential rains causing sudden or flash flooding on 10 January 2011.

• The massive volume of water generated by the super rainstorm, later described as an 'instant inland tsunami', surged as a devastating wall of water and tore through the city centre of Toowoomba which sits on a plateau in the watershed of the Great Dividing Range, some 700 metres above sea level.

• In the evening, within hours it had claimed many lives as it surged downstream on Lockyer creek rolling past and wiping out chunks of the townships of Murphys Creek, Grantham, Withcott and others in the mostly flat Lockyer valley.

• During the storms, floodwaters from the surrounding hilly catchments on the north and south, including the  major tributaries of the lockyer river (Laidley Creek, Tenthill Creek, Murphys Creek and Ma Ma Creek) added to the ever swelling watery terror.

• This inland tsunami reached heights of 8m and perhaps more than 1000 metres (1km) in width (a serviceman interviewed on ABC tv said between 1-2 kms) as it gathered pace and volume on its way along the lockyer valley towards Ipswich and Brisbane, more than a 100kms and two days away in the east.

• On another tributary, the Bremer River at Ipswich - some 30 kilometres west of Brisbane - reached a height of 19.4 metres on 12 January, inundating the CBD and flooding at least 3,000 houses. One third of the city was flooded and thousands of people were evacuated.

• Already on 11 January 2011 in the afternoon, the Brisbane River broke its banks leading to evacuations in the Brisbane CBD. On 12 January the flood peaked during the afternoon high tide at 4.5m, about 1m less than the previous peak in 1974. Thousands of homes and businesses have already been evacuated.

• The tsunami from Toowoomba hit Brisbane on Thursday. Along the way the raging torrent from lockyer river joined forces with rainwaters from all the sub-catchments. This watery terror, increasing in size all the time, went through and literally obliterated the towns and fields in its way. It merged with the Brisbane river and the swollen waters of the bremer river, just downstream of Wivenhoe dam and again magnified in size as it roared inexorably towards Brisbane and beyond to Moreton bay. On 13 January the floodwaters peaked at 4.46m in Brisbane but still inundated 20,000 houses in 80 suburbs. The rest is history.

The latest figures are 20 dead and 10 missing.And in breaking news, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has announced a commission of inquiry into the state's devastating floods.The inquiry will be conducted over 12 months with an interin report to be provided in August, in time for the next wet season.
Watch this space.


1. La Niña and low pressure systems in spring, resulted in unusually high levels of precipitation or increased rainfall throughout October to December. These rains have saturated the catchments and the ground can not absorb or hold any more water.

2. The dams built to reduce flood severity (flood mitigation purposes) are nearly overflowing. eg Wivenhoe dam at 193% capacity, Somerset dam 160% capacity.

3. 85% of the Brisbane river catchment has been cleared or developed. Trees and vegetation create space in the soil for rainwater to move in and get absorbed. Development, deforestation or simple land clearing, cause compaction filling up the soil space used by air and water. The result is increased and accelerated runoff and drastic topsoil erosion.

Had it kept raining through to the height of the floods, things would be way way worse. Rains abated around midday on 11 January, and cloudy but mainly fine weather followed from that day.Seventy five percent of Queensland is a disaster zone. (That's more than 4x the size of the Philippines, more than 5x the size of Great Britain or nearly twice the size of the 'big' state of Texas).

Around the state, many other towns (Ingham, Babinda, Gordonvale, Rockhampton, Emerald, Bundaberg, Dalby, Toowoomba, and Ipswich, Condamine, Chinchilla, Theodore, Moura, Rockhampton, Gympie, Goondiwindi) are experiencing their worst floods.

Numerous Roads and highways remain closed and impassable, and the only way to travel between centres is by helicopter. Many regional airports remain closed too. Flood warnings are current for many rivers (Herbert, Fitzroy, Burnett, Condamine/balonne, Mcintyre, Mary).

The great flood of brisbane in 2011 is over. The waters are receding. Let us keep Queensland and Queenslanders in our thoughts as they get back on their feet.
Note too that all around the world, disasters are also happening and continue to happen. Floods are also causing death and destruction in the Philippines, Brazil and Sri Lanka. There are bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Elsewhere in Australia, there are record floods in northern NSW, Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria. All these even as Haiti remembers last year's earthquake. 
Let's put things in perspective.

And if we can live with less of the luxuries, that might be a start. Perhaps mother nature will be less severe next time.

Read Part 2 of this blog here.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

snapshots of Mainit

In days of old Chonglian, with historical tidbits. Only in Mainit.

Students, parents, teachers and visitors pose in front of the first school building made of cogon grass and woven sticks or pine timber boards. This is in the late 1950s. The school site is in Lasfang.

There’s even an odd soldier.

Lining up in the morning, perhaps to pledge allegiance. That's the new schoolbuilding made of timber and galvanized iron (GI) sheets roof.

First commencement exercises Mainit Elementary School 1956-57. There's something odd about the picture. There's now two soldiers (Martin, that's even not odd). Yeah, but what were they there for?

More students at Grade 1 some years later. That boy, fourth from the right, looks like Fort. 

Mass before the start of the first barrio fiesta in 1965. This place was called fovora-an. (If you know the origin of the word, please comment. There's a prize for the first correct answer). Note stonewalls in the background.
In those years, Christian masses were rarely held in Mainit. Very few priests were willing to hike (half-day one-way) from Bontoc.

Fiesta games. Breaking the pot.

Climbing the pole. Kids watch the action from the stonewalls.
These stonewalls are pigpen enclosures. They also serve as retaining walls. Stonewalls are a prominent feature of construction in Mainit as in some other places in the Cordillera. These are essential in retaining house pads and fields especially ricefields.
Polichay's digressing but let's not get sidetracked from the main show.
Like the pole climber. He deserves a close-up view.

Looks like he took off his wakes. I don't know if any 'pole dancer' today has the balls to climb like this guy, with just the one-piece. A pole dancer probably has no 'balls', but if she can climb with just a 'one-piece', some nudging or tugging might happen.

Tug of war. I think this was the first 'war' between Mainit and Guina-ang. I don't know who won (wasn't born then) but had stonewall jackson not gone off to war-
There were no anti-war demonstrations then.

Just some ground demonstrations, next to more stonewalls. The edge of a ball or puff of steam from the main hotspring in Luag is just off the top-left corner.

Parents and Teachers Association (P.T.A.) officials.

Okay kids back to school. Calisthenics.
Leaning left. If these kids did this everyday, it's no wonder some think the I-Mainit are left-leaning. But that schoolteacher guy on the left, he is a straight guy.
Ring drills and the circle game. I think this inspired Joni Mitchell to write a song.

But this dance, the tambourine dance, was maybe inspired by a Dylan song. But man, where's the tambourine boys?

Graduation day at last.
Saknit. Sugar cane milling  is held in November or December each year.
Transporting sugar cane. From field to mill. That's the Luag hotspring in the background.

The vertical roller sugar mill in use in Mainit would have originated from China and brought to the Philippines in the early 1600s by Spanish missionaries. I do not have information when the mill came to Mainit (i still wasn't born then).

The roller mill is drawn by a water buffalo, or pushed by men.
The crushing mill is made up of three vertical cylindrical rollers with a very heavy timber beam attached on the top to turn the gears. A juice drainer is placed between the rollers. The canes are inserted between the rollers and crushed as the beam is turned.
Carabaos draw the vawer or beam round and round for about a couple of hours at a time. Sometimes the other draft animals (humans) give the water buffaloes a rest and take turns at pushing the beam.

Cane juice is extracted by the mill and collected in large vats. This is then boiled or 'cooked' in a hut also at the mill site. Various sugarcane products result from the milling.

Milling goes from early morning to deep into the night. Sometimes young people take turns at pushing the vawer. They sing songs (such as 'the circle game') until they tire. They then settle down for a taste of sugar cane candy or molasses, or maybe some of the previous year's sugar cane wine bayas. At night’s end the young men and women go off on their dates.
The adolescent boys duck off to their makeshift sleeping cabins built from the mulched cane. This is their sleeping quarters for many a night during saknit. By the next break of dawn, after a dip in the naturally heated hotspringwater-fed pool, they’ll be ready to go again with their assignments of the milling season. Milling can last up to a few weeks, a full month or. Saknit is like a festival. I missed a whole month of school one saknit.

At the end of each milling day, everyone involved in the saknit, takes home a share of timva and inti.

Guess what gifts the schoolkids exchange with each other at the Christmas break. No prizes for guessing. Tinva of course.
That's the old Grades 1-4 building.

There's more pictures in this video below (with pattong)

Monday, 3 January 2011

more stories from apo

Just some more words to live by, from apo. It will do nicely to have as this new year’s resolution.

One day I visited apo in the village.
Later after seeing i was fed and rested-
Nin-lugan ka ngen? Did you take the jeep home. She asked.
Aji ya. No lola. I replied. Nanad-aranak. I hiked.
She asked if my father gave me money for fare. Ma-id ngen inigwan amam ay ipilitim?
I said father did give me fare, but that i had spent it. I did not say on cigarettes, but who was i kidding? Smokers cannot deceive non-smokers.
Amom ay apok, Apo started. No waja na inigwan amam ay ipilitim, ipilitim ji. Kan na driver ji. Ajim ilako ay para  ahna bisyom.
This is what Apo said:
"Do not deprive someone of their income to satisfy your vice."

I hung my head.
And I smelled the bitter stench of cigarettes hanging on me.

A noblewoman from Chonglian.

Another time she asked if my brother had found a job yet: injunjuno et ngen na iyon-am ay jey?
I think so. Wen samet. I said although i was not sure.
Kakay tay nan-inmaliyana ya maid paat inyali na ay tinapay ta ramanak koma? Aped cha umali asna iv-a na. Asna na nanganan ja. Kawaksa na ayjey ya hajat aped omey.
So then if he's gainfully employed. How come he did not bring us something? He comes here with his friend, eat up our food, and then just go?
This was her way of telling me a lesson - by reprimanding my brother.

Apo liked sweet bread or pastry, and bangus or seafood. I did not bring my apo anything that time too.
And I did not know it then but I think that was the last time I saw her.
Ah regrets, I have a lot...

Visit your elders as much and as often as you can. And when you do, bring them some of their favourite things. In their later years people look back to the memories of their youth and yearn for some attention. Elders would like their children and especially their grandchildren to reciprocate the love and care that they were given when young. Like you and me our allapu like to feel loved - to be remembered.

So remember your allapo. They'll love that.