‘THE FAMILY THAT LAUGHS TOGETHER…’ by Malu E. Gacuma, May 12, 2017 ( Friday, 11:58 am)

Sometimes, our family conversations can abruptly shift from sensible to insensible or vice-versa, depending on everyone’s mood ,which usually borders to the crazy mode! But it always leaves me dumbfounded with my kids’ surprising lines! Consider these instances:

*(When I suddenly received little surprises from my 3 girls as they arrived home)*

ME: (happily) “Where do you get money to buy all these?
ANGEL (Christienne) : (naughtily) ” Don’t worry,Ma! No matter what happens, our kidneys will always be intact!” (*winks*)   (laughter)

*(Last night, while overhearing Chickie’s song playlist, mostly R&B , all of which are totally unfamiliar to me -both the songs and the artist/s, my curiosity heightened what made her so inclined to such genre)*

ME: ( giving Chickie a quizzical look) ” How do you ever find them? Why do you like those kinds of songs?”
Before she could answer, Claudia butted in:
CLAY: “Ma,don’t worry! Manang Chickie is a girl who is attuned to her own century.”
*(One morning, we overheard Chickie, who is petite with her 5 ft. height, sigh in relief, as she hung some washed clothes on the clothesline at our front yard.)*

ME: (teasingly) “Finally! You reached it! That’s a sign of progress!”
CHICKIE: (replies jubilantly, raises eyebrows) “ Well,that’s easy,Ma! If I can reach my dreams, how much more that simple clothesline? ”


To think I just taught these girls their ABCs!!


chigelay 2

My daughters Christa Lou ( Chickie), Christienne Marie ( Angel) and Christiana Claudia (Clay) Gacuma Gancayco



(Note: Originally posted on my Facebook wall, 11:58 am May 12,2017 ,Friday)


‘A QUESTION UNANSWERED’ by Malu E. Gacuma (April 17, 2017 / Monday, 3:50 pm)

In 1978,Google or internet was still unknown, I was barely 12 yrs old . One summer day, I was euphoric to have finally outwitted my late father, Dr.Oscar D.Gacuma (a very well-read man of science) when I suddenly asked him:

ME:” Dad, how do you call the shape of the Earth?
DAD: “Simple! It’s round!”
Me (shaking my head) “Nope!Another guess?”
Dad: “Aha! Trying to outsmart me,ha? It’s circle!”
Me: ( this time grinning):“Wrong.Give up?”

The rest of our family started laughing. First time my Dad conceded.

Me:” It’s called OBLATE SPHEROID. Like a dead potato.”.
Dad:(validating) “ Really?! Let’s see. Where did you read that?”
ME: “New Book of Knowledge.” ( I cited the page of that Grolier encyclopedia). The rest of the family teased Dad! 😀

Since then on,Dad would coax me to outwit my uncles or his ‘scholarly’ patients or his ‘nerdy’ buddies. I always won and  took pride!


My late father, Dr.Oscar D.Gacuma,Sr. in his dental clinic, as Resident Dentist of the Foundation Hospital in Sagay City during the late 1970s to mid-1980s.


Decades passed. I became a parent. One day, Dad was with us at our sala when my youngest and 4-year-old daughter ,Claudia, suddenly asked me something that floored me down.

Clay: “Mama, why do dogs have whiskers?”
Me: ” Ah…er…” (No answer at hand! Incidentally, I was with Grolier at that time).


clay at 4

Me with Clay, who was turning 4 in this photo.


At the corner of my eye,I saw Dad laughing silently. When our eyes locked, he naughtily winked at me, as if saying: “We’re on the same page now,kid!” And he started explaining to Claudia the answer.

That was the day my wayward pride was put back to its proper place!

Thanks to you, Dad!  I loved you more for that!  



Claudia, now at 18, reading (her passion) at The Spectrum office of the University of Saint La Salle, where she is currently its News Editor.

‘The Foible of My Youth (My Most Embarrassing Moment)’ by Malu E. Gacuma (March 17, 2017)

Last night,I saw the photo of a handsome local actor named Ian Veneracion, I was quickly thrown back to my hometown Fabrica, in the early 1980s.I was barely 17 yrs.old and naive.

My late Mommy and siblings wondered why I insisted to ‘run an errand‘ one Thursday, between 10-11am, just to go to nearby Paraiso market (a 15-minute walk from our house).

The reason? Every such day, there was that Coca-Cola agent ( a very tall Veneracion dead-ringer!)  whose delivery truck always parked in front of his client’s store . I found him that morning. He was standing beside his vehicle and was  facing my direction. I was across the street.

ian v 3

Excitedly, I walked as slowly as I can, feigning not to notice him.I looked down and pretended to be busily reading a list of things . (Actually it was just a small paper on which Mommy wrote only one word: the brand of the 4 threads I had to buy! )

At the corner of my right eye, I can see him stop and how he stared..My heart pounded !! My mind screamed crazily “He noticed ME!!! Finally! ”

ian v 2

And, his eyes started to widen, his jaw started to hang, as if he saw the most beautiful girl in the world passing by ! Was he? When I looked at him and we locked eyes, I noticed his eyes had a different expression! Widened eyes..was it excitement? No , it was different!

In those few seconds, I shyly looked away and then ..WHAMMM!!

I smashed my forehead at the rear end of a sugarcane truck that had just parked without me noticing!! Stars started flying on broad daylight! 😀

I felt the heat rushed to my head! Head-to-rear collision just occurred! A reddish lump was born on my forehead !

That incident made me spell the word ‘embarrassment‘ perfectly!
I never went to that  market on Thursday mornings from then on.

ian v 5


(Writer’s note: Credits due to photo owner/s.)

MISSIONARIES : ‘KINGS AND QUEENS’ IN THE MAKING- by Malu E. Gacuma (Bacolod Multi-Stake Public Affairs Council) Feb. 2,2017

“You did not come to this mission to be good salesmen or to have cultural expansion, not even to develop your personal skills and talents. You came here to share the Gospel.” The words of visiting Utah-based Church leader and guest speaker, Brother Bruce Bryan Bingham  permeated the Sacrament Hall of the Dumaguete Stake Center in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental last January 27 during the Missionary Meeting held from  9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. that day.

About 80 active missionaries of both gender from various mission fields in the south of Negros province attended the said meeting, along with local Church leaders led by Dumaguete Stake President, brother Jairus Perez , who was the concluding speaker.

The missionaries immersed themselves with the enlightening counsel of Brother Bingham, 68, whose message was punctuated by both  wisdom and humor.


Brother Bruce Bryan Bingham  during his guest speakership (photo: Malu Gacuma)

Sharing some amusing anecdotes about his own missionary days, Brother Bingham narrated  , “Even a simple missionary rule like making your own bed has its value. As a newly-arrived missionary before, that’s what I realized. So, after four  days, I stopped rebelling against it and did my own bed! “ (Laughter)

He  also explained to them about the Keys of Priesthood  and the relevance of these  to the geographic areas of each missionary. Then his topic  led to the importance of obedience ‘in the mission fields and beyond.’


The missionaries listening intently and taking down notes (photo: Malu Gacuma)

“Be obedient with the mission rules for 30 days, and you’ll succeed. We must be doers of what we teach so as not to lose the Holy Spirit as our testifier,” he emphasized.

Halfway through his message, he  told the missionaries, “Please put up your hands  as high as you could.”  When they all did, he smiled and said ,” Good. That’s what you do when you want to participate by asking something.” (Laughter).

Then he opened the two-way discussion by quoting what he considered his favorite verse :  ‘’There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. “ [D&C 130:20–21]


An Elder giving his perspective about obedience to the laws of God.  (Standing behind him is Bishop Suan of Dumaguete 1st Ward)

The missionaries answered his questions with enthusiasm. When asked why the Lord’s commandments must not be deemed as a  reason to constrain us, a missionary named Elder Hales from Arizona gave an analogy about ‘snorkeling  undersea  but staying inside a cage. Insodoing, the cage is meant to protect us from predators like sharks. It is not meant to constrain us.”

When asked why obedience is important, another missionary named Sister Rosner from Utah  opined,” When we stretch ourselves to be obedient,  we adhere  to a higher law and that’s the Law of Consecration.”

Meanwhile,  Elder Charifa of Manila, who serves in the Siquijor island, said he ‘strongly felt the Holy Spirit speaking’ to him thru Brother Bingham. This was the same impression shared by Elder  Balasbas of Canada and Elder Gonzales of California, among others.  For her part Sister Naylor, who became teary-eyed, said that she learned so much to a point that her ‘testimony suddenly  grows’.


The writer interviewing  Elder Balasbas  and to his right, Elder Gonzales (photo: Malu Gacuma)


The writer with Elder Charifa (photo: Malu Gacuma)

Finally , Brother Bingham underscored  his message by quoting  the late President Ezra Taft Benson  who  said, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.” (quoted in Donald L. Staheli, “Obedience—Life’s Great Challenge,”  Ensign, May 1998, 82).

At this juncture, he turned emotional as he implored to them: ”Don’t give up the good in you. Do not ever violate your covenants.  You are all anointed and consecrated to be a King and a Queen in the making. Be faithful and true.”**


Jan 26, 2017 @ Hotel Essencia, Dumaguete City,Negros Oriental  ( L-R : ) Dumaguete Stake President Jairus Perez, Brother Bruce Bryan Bingham and wife,Sister Jean B.Bingham, Prima Gequinto  holding  their son ,John Phelps Gequinto, Prima’s husband, Dumaguete Stake 2nd Counselor John-john Gequinto  and the writer. (photo: Malu Gacuma)


(NOTE: Written on  a special assignment from the Area Presidency Office,Manila thru brother Noel Maglaque)

‘CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT GEARS UP ITS RENEWABLES CAMPAIGN IN THE VISAYAS’, by Malu E. Gacuma-Gancayco (Feb. 9, 2017), Negros Daily Bulletin

Whipping up the momentum gained as the country with the highest no. of Acts of Leadership for the whole of 2016, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines held a series of conferences in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao aptly titled 2017 Assemblies: Assessment, Planning and Strategy Consultation “.

Any pro-environment activity conducted is considered an act of leadership. These are logged by more than ten thousand environmentalists trained by CRP founder and former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate, Dr. Al Gore, from around the world on their online hub. They are  encouraged to do at least 10 activities each year to help intensify the environmental campaign specifically against climate change.

CRP-Phils. Country Manager Rodne Rodiño Galicha presented salient topics mostly centered on renewables and the great advantages these have to offer to the country.

Joining them were Manila-based guest speakers, DENR Undersecretary Art Valdez and former National Renewable Energy Board Chairman Pete H. Maniego (now Sr. Policy Advisor of ICSC or Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.)

Also sharing their expertise on the topic were Dr. Al Orolfo, DENR-Negros Island Region (NIR)’s Regional Director and Edgardo M. Rostata (Chief Officer of CENRO).

Undersecretary.Valdez did not spare any good words about the National Greening Program. He described it simply: “Its performance was not satisfying.” (A very polite way of saying it failed.)  He added, “I will not apologize for DENR.  So many deserved to be kicked out!””


Guest Speaker  : Undersecretary Art Valdez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

He confirmed the good news about the dismantling of fish pens at the Laguna Lake aimed to restore the livelihood of the smaller fishermen.He called it ‘an act of rectifying social justice’ resounding DENR Sec. Gina Lopez’s conviction of ‘ empowering the masses against kingpins, etc.”

He narrated an incidence in Mt.Banahaw where the “National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) led the inquest against mining culprits but the Governor and Congressman there wanted to have the NBI personnel relieved for doing a good job!”

Another incidence that stirred indignation was, as he narrated ,”A certain Cervantes who ordered to get rid of a 5-hectare-mangrove site to convert it to a subdivision.” Seeking help from authorities, he said “assigned PNP in their area were  adamant and did not show up”.

He said this infuriated DENR Sec,Gina Lopez who wanted to go to the site personally but was stopped by Valdez. He said “All it took to solve the problem were Marines, the Coast Guard and 6×6 trucks with NBI picking up the businessman Cervantes.” This again earned an applause.

He later ended his remarks with a very reassuring line that earned him  an applause from the attendees.  He said, “Now that we are more part of the solution, you will find a strong partnership with DENR!”


Guest Speaker: Pete H.Maniego,Jr. former National Renewable Energy Board Chairman and now Senior Policy  Advisor of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities

ICSC’s Maniego, for his part gave all the needed statistics and talked lengthily about the significant development of the renewable energy sector of the country. He underscored that consumers must not bear the pass-on burden in the fuel industry, as what is happening now. He also explained why and how the use of solar panels can put Negros, or the Philippines for that matter, on the winning edge.

For his part, DENR-NIR’s Orolfo announced the availability of 450,000 seedlings every week produced by  the DENR regional office which can be accessed by various NGOs for free for their treeplanting projects in and around  the province.

He dissected the strengths and weaknesses of Negros province and NIR in the battle against climate change. Quoting statistical date from memory, he also shared a strong optimism about the would-be success of ” the 5-year NIR Biodiversity plan of which the blueprint is currently under works so that ‘fragmented habitats can be eradicated.”


Guest Speaker: Dr. Al Orolfo, Regional Director , Dept.of Environment and Natural Resources- Negros Island Region

As a response to DENR Sec. Lopez’s request which he described as putting a ‘Wow!  factor” to their public service, he also confirmed the ‘Adopt-A -Watershed’ campaign being offered to dioceses at par with the ‘5-Year-Cave Management Plan’ because “caves are crucial to watershed’ , he added.

He enjoined all community leaders to be vigilant against environmental abusers ” to lessen the tragedy of the commons” His best assurance for the day was a definite one,”We will, we can!”

Finally CENRO’s Rostata said their priority now at CENRO focuses more on law enforcement and strengthening community participation against local quarrying, illegal logging and mining operations. They also recently launched ‘Geo-Tagging’ project using various apps to report illegal environmental activities. The apps, he said , “are equipped with longitude and latitude details that enter our server to zero in the locations where the crimes are committed and help us track down the culprits.”

He said that they had also launched 10 ‘Bantay Gubat’ staff for every barangay in Cadiz City of which PENRO provides the technical assistance.

Finally , TCRP’s Rodne Galicha presented a rundown of his hometown Sibuyan’s achievement in the renewables industry and peppered this with a very entertaining 25- seconder video titled     ‘Would You Rather’, showing the viewer two options to choose from (the upside or the downside of climate change).

The event was capped by both Galicha and Sheila Castillo (CRP Mentor) consolidating all of the delegates’  proposals, observation and suggestions. These were capsulized into an outline of their pro-renewables agenda aligned with the global campaign against climate change.

The event ended with a group picture-taking for posterity. Also given earlier were mugs (with CRP logo) and ‘Let’s Talk Cleaner Energy’ Tee-shirts and masks.

The assembly was attended by Augustinian priest Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA,Olive Seruelo (PEMO Information Officer), Malu Gacuma-Gancayco (Project Organizer of Ecological Society of the Philippines), Claudia G.Gancayco (youth CRP leader from University of St.La Salle), Dann Diez (founder of Let’s Do It,Phils.), Art Alvarez (Project Organizer, LDI Phils.) former print journalist  Nereo Lujan and Honey Beso (both from the Iloilo provincial government) and  Luisa Tutor of PEMO, among others.



by Malu E. Gacuma

 May 16,2014 (11 pm)

Our countryside was often considered before as a safe haven for the city-based people who wanted to enjoy or be relieved by a cooler atmosphere.It offered a genuine refuge of Mother Nature against the false promises of comfort and convenience of  a man-made,concrete jungle.

However,this impression is now deformed not only by the physical and topographical deterioration of our environment, but by the apathetic  attitude most have towards its saddening state.

Whoever claims that  we need not see more of our countryside communities joining hands in the fight against climate change, because the government can take care of it, must be unrealistic.

In the advent of another El Nino phenomenon — a ‘super‘ version this time – expected to strike in the middle of this year, everyone must not take nature’s red alert signals for granted.

Recent local news continue to banner stories of the adverse effects of the current  heat wave in the countryside : a tornado in  Cebu , a brief hailstorm in Murcia,Negros Occidental, hundreds of chickens that died due to the heatwave  in La Union and numerous heatstroke cases everywhere.

Alongside these news are continuing reports of critical water level at  8 dams in Luzon alone, including the vital Angat Dam in Bulacan that supplies drinking water to Metro Manila.

In these crucial times, shouldn’t we see more of our fellowmen responsibly working harder with the government against the alarming ecological signals?


My three daughters, all ESP youth volunteers (L-R) Angel,Clay and Chickie Gacuma Gancayco after our  March 9,2013   Coastal Clean-up project held at the environmentally-depressed,plastic-choked coastline of Barangay Pahanocoy,Bacolod City ,Negros Occidental.

Shouldn’t the government vigilantly, not occasionally, empower all of us, down to the grass root level, to join a massive endeavor of planting tree seedlings and mangrove propagules and of a more intensified environmental conservation and preservation awareness campaign?

Shouldn’t the government heighten and tighten its implementation of all environmental laws, including ‘Philippine Clean  Air Act’ (Republic Act No. 8749), Executive Order 263  (Forestry Law) , Republic Act 7586 (Biodiversity Law), RA 8550 (Law on Fisheries) ,Presidential Decrees 1151  and 1152 ( on Environmental Policy ),etc.?

Or should the government first have integrity in implementing Republic Act No. 3019 ( Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act ) in its own strata before the aforementioned laws can be fully achieved?

Contrary to a popular belief that volunteers are handful where environmentalism is concerned, it is exactly the opposite from the vantage point of the grass roots.


Youth volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints  (Bacolod 1st Ward) during ESP mangrove-planting event called `Helping  Hands 2012` held in Bgy. Punta Taytay, Bacolod City, Negros  Occidental on February 9 that year..

There is, in fact, an overwhelming spirit of volunteerism in the countryside and elsewhere in our country, waiting to be tapped for environmental projects.

While seen only as an economic advantage, our young population can also be steered towards  this fight against climate change by empowering them to get involved in volunteering activities in saving our  declining environment. There are so many interested yet need to know how they can do the first step.

Empower the parents, who are collectively an influential ‘guiding force’ in a family or household. A lifestyle starts at home, must first be practiced there, before it influences others  beyond its premise.

This must be a priority of every local chief, the Barangay Captain and his council. Every newly-elected local chief must  know his constituents by conducting a documented survey immediately with questions deemed appropriate that would help gauge their  prevailing attitude towards an environmental campaign.

It’s a shame for most of those indulging in environmental activities for mere ‘photo opportunity’ purposes or a  ‘plant-and-go’ attitude. Such hypocrisy must be discouraged in these challenging times.

But how many of these local officials know the strengths and weaknesses of their immediate environment  and the vital role of a determined attitude?

It doesn’t take a highly-educated background to interpret the environmental laws to his constituents in layman’s terms. It only needs common sense,willingness and foresight.

Give our youth the chance to do something sensible and life-saving to do, make them become enthused about the prospect that it’s their future they’re protecting. Make them realize their heroic role needed in saving this dying planet and get them involved until it becomes their lifestyle.

esp artwork

Fine Arts student, Margaret Tevet Vanguardia of Silliman University in Dumaguete City,Negros Oriental with her winning entry to the `On-the-Spot  Environmental Artwork  Contest titled `Simplicity in Nature: How  I See It in  the Future` held in  the said school on June 23,2012 by  the Ecological Society of the Philippines, thru Malu E. Gacuma (Project Organizer ).

This is where the academic grounds can be made fertile. Embedding the all-level curriculum  with more  detailed subjects about the importance of our natural environment proves more worthwhile,again in these crucial times, than any theoretical topics being discussed in the classrooms.

The  able and skilled  yet unemployed population can also be tapped by NGOs to share their time and expertise, as resource speakers, to an enthusiastic grass root community.

To  selflessly impart one’s knowledge for the benefit of the less-privileged is a conduit for self-confidence and self-growth even in the absence of a regular employment. This is  where volunteerism can help both parties learn and intangibly benefit from each other.

The government must also strictly monitor and protect all tree seedlings (specifically fruit-bearing ones) and mangrove propagules in its custody, since these are discreetly sold in a self-serving manner by some unscrupulous authorities to unsuspecting environmental NGOs.

For the government to achieve this, it needs consistency not only in its drum-beating  but through its leadership by example.

Think of the impact on our youth seeing a top leader immersed in mud, planting propagules or  seedlings,enjoining his countrymen to do the same.

Action speaks louder than any sugar-coated words. One gesture of leadership-by-example has its lifetime impact in the minds of our youth.

Personally, I am more easily convinced by any leader who does the advocacy he or she  speaks about, devoid of all pompousness his or her public position calls for.

But how many such leaders do we have these days?

We can attest that we, Filipinos, have matured enough once our concern for our regressing environment has outgrown our concern over whatever top showbusiness  scandal is on the news.

We have a  matured  media once we stand up and speak against those big companies monstrously destroying our natural resources, then see these efforts as banner stories in all our media outlets.

By then, a culture of better change has evolved. Is it the same culture we need to arm ourselves so we can prevail against this fight against global warming.

Volunteerism is the only antidote against apathy about  our environment, our natural resources., our countrysides.

While these are all easier said than done,there is no other choice.Either it is said or it is done. Either it is a choice of volunteerism or it is  a choice of apathy.

By our choice, we get the  environment that we deserve.