Recently at the developing community of Masville in Barangay BF Homes, Parañaque City, a 21-year-old man died by suicide by hanging himself to death in a residence. The reason? Because he broke up with his girlfriend.
This was revealed to me by Barangay BF Homes Sangguniang Kabataan (BFSK) chairperson Mariel Tumang during my exclusive interview with her on the topic of youth suicide.
To put things in perspective, Tumang stated that the age definition of youth under the Reformed SK system is 15 to 30-years-old. The guy who took his life is therefore identified as a youth and was already working. On July 20, Tumang attended the man’s funeral at his family residence and the experience reminds her that the SK has a responsibility to ensure that youth suicides would be prevented.
“We had one project with Kagawad Rocel Espino who handled the barangay committee on education which includes youths. The project she created was the youth camp and it was organized at a local school,” Tumang said. “Many youths attended and they shared problems and concerns. We at the SK will adapt that kind of project.”
In preparation for the planned youth camp, the BFSK chairperson and the kagawads will have to do some research as well as make presentations in seminars. A youth orientation activity done by Barangay BF Homes Kagawad Espino was held recently which educated many youth participants. This, of course, sets a model of guidance for the BFSK as part of their preparation for the planned youth camp which, as of this writing, still has no date nor a venue finalized.
“We also have the mental health awareness counseling program planned at the SK. Right now we are still discussing as to when we could organize it,” Tumang stated. “I really want to organize the mental health awareness program and youth camp soon as I learned many helpful lessons from a seminar at Paranaque City Hall.”
The said seminar was about mental health awareness and by participating in it, Tumang said she realized the many factors that contribute to suicide such as depression, insecurity, uncertainty and the like. Even words can hurt a person and even cause him or her to get depressed.
“That was a very engaging seminar the discussions were very in-depth. I learned so much from it and I believe we can really help the local youths,” she said.
Tumang added that Kagawad Espino taught her that youths struggle as they grow up and get educated. The struggles include being unable to open up and speak out about their concerns, being fearful about others judging them, and the like. There are also youths who are a lot more vulnerable or more sensitive than meets the eye.
“Because words can be painful, some jokes cracked at youths hurt them very deep inside reaching to the point of cracking under social pressure, becoming stressed or, even worse, they begin to think about suicide,” Tumang said.
To put suicide in perspective, it was reported in Business Mirror that in the year 2012, a total of 2,550 cases of suicides (all ages) in the Philippines were registered according to Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle.
The BFSK chairperson plans to have the youth camp (and hopefully the health awareness counseling program) push through sometime this September. However pulling it off remains challenging due to budgeting, the time management of activities and getting valuable resources.
The Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay BF Homes is reaching out to generous members of the public who wish to donate to them (cash or in kind) for the purpose of organizing the youth camp and its campaign to prevent youths from dying by suicide.
To inquire or give something, communicate directly with BFSK Chairperson Mariel Tumang at Barangay BF Homes hall along Elsie Gatches street in Parañaque City.
Meet Barangay BF Homes SK Chairperson Mariel Tumang
For much of the day on June 30, 2019, the Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay BF Homes (BFSK) led by its chairperson Mariel Angela Tumang visited different developing communities of Barangay BF Homes in Parañaque City and implemented their special project called Waste Wise for Rice.
The project emphasized the trading in of Eco Bricks for kilograms of rice grain. According to chairperson Tumang, local community residents each hand over to them the Eco Brick(s) (plastic bottle containing wrappings of snack products) and in return the SK gives out a kilogram of rice grain. Tumang and her kagawads (youth councilors) Alma Galindo, Roselyn Regis, Jerry Dalmero, Kelly Haboc, Irene Juanico, Anne Gabrielle Corre, Stephanie Sebullen worked hard that day.
According to the Facebook page of the BFSK, the SK collected 900 Eco Bricks and they released over 900 kilograms of rice grain. The SK emphasized that their June 30 project was environment-friendly and a good provider of food for the residents. Here in the Philippines, rice is staple food.
Before that special project happened, I got to interview BFSK chairperson Tumang (who is also the Vice President of the Parañaque SK Federation) and here is my exclusive feature of her for you all.
Who is Mariel Tumang?
Mariel Angela Tumang was born in the late 1990s. She recently graduated at the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA with a BS in Accountancy. Her entry into the Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay BF Homes came at a time when the SK got reformed. In short, she and her fellow councilors are pioneers for Barangay BF Homes under the new SK system.
To put things in perspective, the SK or youth council was a decades-old system in Philippine society that, from its 1975 beginning, developed a poor reputation. Critics called the SK a system that politicizes youths, a failure on implementing youth development programs, a breeding ground for corruption and the like. People who don’t believe in the SK stressed that youths are not ready for early public service and that they are better off focusing on their academics. Also it did not help under the original SK system that youth leaders who were not even of legal age (below 18) got to sign contracts between their council and other organizations.
In early 2016, Congress approved Republic Act Number 10742 which was called the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Law. It saw some notable changes like raising the age of the council to 18-24 years-old (versus the previous 15-17) and implementing an anti-political dynasty rule.
This brings me back to Tumang and her kagawads.
In the summer of 2018, a team of youth candidates under the umbrella of former Barangay BF Homes chairperson Florencia “Beng” Amurao was formed and Tumang was the candidate for BFSK chairperson. As it was the first SK election in some years, as well as the first-ever election under the reformed SK system, there was hesitation along the way for Tumang.
“Actually, I did not want to join the election because for me, politics is dirty,” Tumang said. “My friends inspired me especially Tita Beng (Amurao). My mother worked for her previously. Tita Beng said she wanted me to be her group’s candidate for SK chairperson and I said that I was still studying and was unsure about the idea of running in the election. After some more talk, I got inspired a lot and decided to run.”
When I asked her if she had thought about uplifting the status of youths of the many communities of Barangay BF Homes as part of her decision to run, she confirmed that it was indeed her intention all along. She also had insight.
“Before entering the SK, I was a student leader and during my days at Masville National High School I was the SSG president. I also received an award for leadership of students when I graduated high school. I was also a Girl Scout and along the way we got trained with leadership skills and values. A lot of my friends told me I have leadership skills,” she said.
In the reformed SK election for Barangay BF Homes, Tumang and her teammates under the Team Amurao banner ran against their counterparts from the group of then Kagawad Paolo Marquez. As the competition between the two teams was intense, the campaigning was, unsurprisingly, very challenging.
“It was really hard for me personally for I was not really an outgoing person. I spent my time mostly at school and at home. We were somewhat known in Masville but not that much in other communities of the barangay,” Tumang recalled. “At the same time, I took summer classes along the way which was a requirement at school. I had to skip some classes just to campaign. When I was able to attend to both (campaign and class), there were days we went house-to-house campaigning in the morning, then I go school in the after and attend campaign meetings in the evening.”
All the pain, the lack of sleep and hard efforts to win the voters’ trust ultimately paid off for Tumang as she defeated her election rival Aira Besana (Team Marquez) for the BFSK chairperson post gathering a total 2,672 votes. The seven SK kagawad posts were split between Team Amurao and Team Marquez candidates.
“I was so glad and I cried when I learned that I won the SK chairperson position. My friends and family really supported me during the COMELEC counting of the votes. It was a nerve-wrecking experience and many of us, including my teammates, stayed at the Phase 1 gym for a very long time without any sleep,” she recalled.
Since taking office as chairperson of the Barangay BF Homes youth council on June 30, 2018, she and her councilors organized several projects and activities on developing youths of the local communities despite the fact that they lacked funds. Along the way, she and her councilors participated in some seminars and out-of-town activities related to youth development and leadership development. Of course, leading the BFSK made life more challenging for her since she was still finishing her studies.
“It’s really difficult,” Tumang remarked on balancing her personal life with academics and SK duty. “There were times I really cried because I could not manage my time. When we started, we lacked direction on what to do so I asked my mother for guidance since she served as a staffer of the barangay before.”
Tumang added that being a student and an elected youth leader forced her to make hard decisions when barangay matters conflicted with her academics. While missing out on class was costly, being absent from a youth council meeting or session would mean getting left behind on the latest developments.
On the aspect of legislation, Tumang serves as the presiding officer of the youth council. She coordinates with the SK secretary over the agenda for each session which is held only once a month. Already some resolutions have been approved by the BFSK most notably their budget which is in the millions of pesos.
As the reformed SK was so new, Tumang and her kagawads started without a real budget at all and had to depend on the barangay’s youth development fund. Along the way, they had to make hard adjustments by learning the processes, learning how to do proper reports, practice of ethics, and more.
As of this year, the BFSK is inching closer to completing the system for the receiving and releasing of funds that are needed to realize their youth development projects. Tumang and her team had visited the banks, coordinated with the barangay and secure several requirements. They were delayed somewhat because of an election ban related to the May 2019 national and local elections.
While there were lots of hassles and challenges, Tumang still is focused on serving the youths of Barangay BF Homes and with what the BFSK has achieved so far. She and her kagawads are striving to do much more to make progressive and positive impact on developing the local youths.
“The feeling is so pleasant whenever I see someone smile as a result of the projects we at the SK have accomplished,” she said with a smile.
Message to the Readers
“I wish to share to you all that the Sangguniang Kabataan is really a good thing because we can talk to youths who are naturally hesitant to communicate with older people or share their concerns. Youths are always struggling with some sort of personal or social problems of their own as they grow up. From peer pressure, to insecurity, mental problems and suicidal thoughts, the youth are struggling and they need help. We are willing to help them. Here in BF, we are very willing to help implement the very promising programs from Barangay BF Homes chairman Paolo Marquez designed for the youth. Problematic youths are very welcome to visit barangay hall for assistance and we are very willing to provide it. The BFSK is caring and we aim to develop local youths socially, academically and morally. With seminars, outreach and enlightening group discussions already done, the reformed SK system is truly about nurturing youths and it is no longer limited to organizing sports events.”
This morning, out of curiosity, I attended the Anime & Cosplay Expo 2019 held at one of the function rooms at the upper level of the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia (SM MOA) in Pasay City.
What I saw there was quite amusing. The large function room had just enough space for the exhibitors, the stage with sound system and lights and the food sellers. Of course, the available space in between was filled with many, many anime and cosplay enthusiasts! Some enthusiasts were seen seated some feet away from the stage waiting for the next event to happen like a cosplay contest, special guest appearances, etc.
Moving around got tight from time to time which reminds me how popular anime and cosplay have really gotten among locals as well as how interested buyers are with the products being displayed for sale.
As I saw some stickers (of pop culture icons and anime figures drawn by local illustrators) for buying, I had to stand behind a buyer who was searching for stickers and asked questions to the seller. There were three other customers next to him also standing right in front of the booth examining the stuff. After patiently waiting, I finally got to the front of the booth, quickly picked stickers (for some friends) and bought them.
There was a lot of stuff that appealed to cosplay and anime enthusiasts. Cards, buttons, stickers, caps, shirts, costumes, cosmetics, dolls, action figures, posters and a few publications. Those who purchased what they searched for clearly were happy. I searched from some Macross-related items but found none.
And then I took time out to photograph some cosplayers for your viewing pleasure below. Just click to ENLARGE.
A lot of people went on cosplay emphasizing their favorite characters from anime while some appeared as characters from computer games. These cosplayers really paid close attention to their craft with regards to capturing the looks of the characters they portrayed from the hair color to the make-up, the costumes, the shoes, the accessories and the like.
And among the cosplayers, I spotted someone dressed as Spider-Man. Specifically, the cosplay at the event was geared towards anime and computer games (like those online JRPGs).
Even though my interest in anime has waned a long time ago, it was still a nice experience to attend the Anime & Cosplay Expo 2019. More than twenty years ago, I was a very avid anime enthusiast and video collector and back in those days, events focused on anime and some related interests were not that popular and were not well publicized.
Today there are these local organizations focused on special interests like anime and cosplay which can emphasize their interests and reach out to many people around the country via the Internet. When an upcoming event gets announced, the enthusiasts will respond and prepare themselves (and their money) for attendance. Not only that, there are now many local businesses willing to sponsor these anime and cosplay events. These developments show that there is now respect and trust for these kinds of events. If you ask me, an anime and cosplay event is more interesting than a city government-organized beauty pageant.
By the way, the Anime & Cosplay Expo 2019has one more day left tomorrow. There are some scheduled activities set to happen. If you intend to attend at all, click here.
As a comic book collector, 1993 was a notable year. That year Marvel organized the 30th anniversary celebration of the Avengers and the X-Men (which I’m a fan of). Image Comics meanwhile released a lot more comics showcasing the works of many creators apart from the publisher’s Seven Founding Fathers. Over at DC Comics, Superman was brought back to life but after they started the Reign of the Superman storyline. Oh yes, there was Valiant which scored hits with Turok #1 and even partnered with some Image Comics creators to produce the Deathmate crossover comic books.
At one corner was Malibu Comics which made a brave entry into the highly competitive superhero genre of comic book publishing in America by launching the Ultraverse, a line of superhero comic books which was the result of brainstorming by several comic book creators (many who previously worked with Marvel and DC Comics).
They launched a lot of comics (all those with #1 on their covers) which made it on the walls and shelves of local comic book stores I visited. Among the many Ultraverse launch comic books displayed was Prime #1 which had a great cover drawn by the late Norm Breyfogle.
Co-written by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones with art by Breyfogle, the comic book introduces readers to Prime, an overly muscular, caped man who tries to do something good but is quite flawed with his approach.
The story begins when Prime confronts a junior high school coach named Meyer accusing him of being a pervert. Meyer reacts surprised since he personally does not know Prime (“Who are you? What are you?”). He claims that he does not know what exactly the big guy knows. At the side were two high school girls witnessing the encounter.
And then Prime said his words, “I saw you, coach Meyer! I saw you on the basketball court in fifth period..touching those girls!”
The coach fought back causing Prime to react. Because the hero was not aware of his strength, he miscalculated with his grip on Meyer breaking his arm unintentionally. Prime’s reaction clearly showed his realizing his mistake.
The incident scared the one of the girls away and carelessly Prime tries to explain himself to the other girl standing by. He even called himself as the girl’s “protector and avenger”, telling her not to be afraid of him.
As it turned out, the incident was a recently past event within the narrative of the comic book which is a nice touch. The coach, already injured, gave his testimony expecting cash from a shadowy organization collecting information not only about Prime but the Ultras (the in-universe term referring to beings with super powers).
That’s as far as I will go with telling the plot details. Prime #1 should be read from start to finish and the good news is that old copies of it can be found online at affordable rates and there are lots of copies in overall good condition.
Other notable elements of Prime #1 worth discussing, without spoiling the plot, is the way the story was structured by Strazewski and Jones. At least for 1993, it somewhat defies the tradition of following the views of the protagonist. Instead, Prime is emphasized through the views of others from the injured coach to the soldiers and the media. This approach does not necessarily make Prime a supporting player in his own comic book but rather it was an efficient way of showing how he thinks and acts, what he is capable of doing and how he reacts to others. By the time the comic book ends (with a very intriguing ending no less), you will get to know Prime a lot.
I also liked the way the writers used corporate media as a key element on exploring the connecting elements of the Ultraverse. Hardcase is shown briefly while a reference was made on Prototype. Check out the page posted below on how corporate media looks at Prime.
When it comes to the art, the late Norm Breyfogle (1960-2018) delivered visuals that had that cartoony look and yet the visual expressions are quite mature, even dark and gritty. It is a very nice approach and it is no surprise, looking back, that Breyfogle went on to draw a lot more issues of Prime for Malibu Comics. Breyfogle died on September 24, 2018 due to heart failure in Michigan. Before making his mark on the Ultraverse, the late artist drew a lot of comic books for DC Comics and is known for his contributions on Batman.
More on hero himself, Prime is a flagship character of the Ultraverse and the combined talents of the writers and artist were major factors behind it. On face value, Prime looks like the Ultraverse answer to DC Comics Superman but in reality he has a lot more common with Shazam/Captain Marvel. I can explain why but that means spoiling the plot more here.
Overall, Prime #1 is still a very good old superhero comic book to read. It is fun and intriguing from start to finish. Considering its very good quality and being a nice showcase of the talents of the creators, Prime #1 is one of the best Ultraverse launch comic books. It is too bad, however, that there are no signs from Marvel Entertainment (note: Marvel Comics acquired Malibu Comics in the mid-1990s) whatsoever on the possible revival of the Ultraverse which remains in limbo under them.
Even so, I still say thatPrime #1 is highly recommended.
For your reference regarding the 2019 NTT ASTC Subic Bay International Triathlon (SuBIT) Asian Cup that was held this past weekend (April 27 and 28) at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, here are the post-race photo releases that got published in the Manila Times, Malaya Business Insight and People’s Journal.
Subic Bay, Philippines – April 27, 2019 – It was a complete domination by the mighty Hong Kong team in the sprint events on the first day of the two-day 2019 NTT ASTC Subic Bay International Triathlon (SuBIT) Asian Cup as HK triathletes placed 8 entries in the top ten of the men’s sprint distance featuring 16 to 19 year olds while 7 female entries placed in the top ten, including a sweep of the top three places in both division.
In the super sprint distance though, the Philippines managed to share the glory with a second place finish in the boys’ side and a third place achievement in the distaff side to share in the day’s glory.
The duo of Jason Hardcastle and Nicholas Tsang Cheung Singh set the tone from the start of the swim leg in the sprint race that started at the ACEA Beach Resort & Hotel as they left the other participants literally in their wake and were never pressured en route to an easy 1 – 2 finish with Hardcastle retaining the title he won last year, clocking 56 minutes and 46 seconds for the 750m. swim-20K bike-5K run while Sing , who was left behind in the final run lap, finished in 57.11. Philip Chenaux-Repond completed the 1-2-3 finish by HK in 58.34.
” I was focused on a podium finish, I knew I was in good form and I was not really pressured, the weather though was very hot, ” said Hardcastle after the race sanctioned by the International Triathlon Union ( ITU ) and the Asian Triathlon Confederation ( ASTC ) and backed by SBMA and its Tourism Department, the Philippine Olympic Committee ( POC ) Philippine Sports Commission ( PSC ), Pocari Sweat, Standard Insurance, Asian Centre for Insulation Philippines (ACIP), NTT, and the ACEA Beach Resort & Hotel.
Best placed local bet was Christian Legacy Academy student Joshua Ramos, 17, who sneaked in at 8th overall with a time of 1:00.57 while the other Filipino triathlete in the top ten was Juan Baniqued in 10th place, finishing in 1:01.35.
” Sa swim pa lang ang layo na gad nung dalawa, but in my case, I was not even expecting this because I knew how strong the field was this year,I really should work more on my swim in the future, ” said Ramos
The distaff side saw a start to finish victory by HK ‘s Bailee Brown who negotiated the distance in 1:04.03 despite the hot weather that bothered her, ” it was a tough race anyway you look at it but I was confident of winning, my strategy was just to be ahead at all time. I am certainly happy with the win and my swimming showed a big improvement, ” said the pretty 19-year-old student from HK University who also competes regularly in the standard distance and even qualified in the last Asian Games’ triathlon event.
Twin sisters Cade and Tulullah Wright, also from Hong Kong, grabbed the next two slots, finishing in 1:04.45 and 1:05.06 respectively to complete the sweep for HK in the junior female elite division of the race .
National triathlete Karen Manayon managed to squeeze herself in the top ten , finishing in 10th place with a time of 1:11.29, The Talisay, Cebu native admitted she was surprised and happy about her performance but not with her time , ” medyo mabigat katawan ko pag gising kanina but no excuse, sobra talaga lakas ng mga taga Hong Kong. “
Nick Yip Tak long and Jan Yip sandwiched local bet Matthew Hermosa in the top 3 of the super sprint distance race as Long took first place in 33.51 i while Yip clocked 35.54 with Hermosa matching up well with a runner-up finish in 35.24.
” Malakas yung champion sa swim, nakalayo agad siya at di ko na nakita pero masaya na ako sa finish ko, ” said the 13 year old Hermosa from Talisay, Cebu and mentored by Andoy Remolino.
HK’s Pauline Courret and Roxanne Wright, younger of the Wright twins, took first and second places, clocking 36.49 and 37.04 respectively while La Union native Lady Samantah Corpuz sprang a surprise with a third place finish in 37.42 also in the super sprint distance race.
” Kulang sa training dahil galing ako sa sa sakit, two weeks ako hindi naka train, ” said Corpuz, a National Age Group Triathlon champion in Subic earlier this year.
” No excuses, the Hong Kong team was just too strong , they have a very good program and has been producing junior champions, in fact in the region, HK is the only one that can compete against Japan. What we need to do is adopt the same approach of Hong Kong in strengthening our junior triathletes especially in the swim leg, ” said Tom Carrasco Jr, president of the organizing Triathlon Association of the Philippines ( TRAP ).
Tomorrow morning (Sunday), focus will be on the men’s and women’s elite races which will also serve as a qualifying event for local triathletes for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).