The Boat Of A Nation

A national symbol is a symbol that represents the core values and identity of a nation. Whether it be an animal, a person of history, or an object, to have something recognized as a national symbol means that the values and ideas it represents is considered to be reflective of what a nation values.

In case you haven’t heard, a bill has been passed declaring the Balangay, otherwise known as the Butuan boat, the national boat of the Philippines. An important piece of Butuanon heritage is now being recognized for its cultural significance to the country.

In Butuan, we call it the Balanghai. Most of us recognize the name as a festival to commemorate the coming of our ancestors who first settled here. Our best choreographers, dancers, and artists come together to showcase their talents in celebration of our origins. We already consider the Balanghai to be symbolic and celebrate it year after year. So why is having the Balanghai recognized as the national boat important?

A sailboat is common enough that people aren’t going to be confused of what it’s supposed to represent: movement, adaptability, and ingenuity. The Balanghai, while some variations can be sailed by one person, most depictions of it portray several people, sometimes a family, working together to fish, sail, and wrestle storms. It plays an important role in early trade and agriculture as well as function as a home for our ancestors. Now, we see it on almost every landmark in Agusan del Norte and during festivals, we design parade floats like Balanghais sailing on the road. To us Butuanons, it represents solidarity, harmony, courage, and resilience. To have something so common to us that we have it almost on every landmark recognized as a national symbol of these traits is a tremendous honor and gives great pride to Butuanons everywhere.

How International Celebs Celebrate Christmas

We often love to let our minds explore in the possibilities of being a successful celebrity and the awesome things to do once we become one. Such things happen to us bright minded and imaginative individuals during the Holiday season; even with primetime news shows reporting on the latest holiday escapade of a certain so and so in a lavish 5-star restaurant in the middle of the most stunning island, far away from the hustle and bustle of the metro.

We love seeing and reading about this stuff. However, if we take a better look at how international celebrities actually spend the holidays, you might be surprised at how similar things are between their way of celebrating the Holidays and our methods of living in the Christmas spirit.

Take for example, Jennifer Lopez. Decorating the Christmas Tree with her children at home makes for a good bonding moment with her family during Christmas.

Source: Instagram

Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus takes up front and center on set for Saturday Night Live, sandwiched by Mark Ronson and Matt Damon.

Source: Instagram

In the spirit of Christmas and her latest album “Sweetener”, Ariana Grande shares an upside-down Christmas tree. Black and White Christmas, anyone?

Source: Instagram

If you’re into big Christmas trees and even bigger gifts, Chris Brown brandishes his own in his living room.

Source: Instagram

Jessica Alba and her family sends out their heartwarming greetings and big smiles, a happily familiar sight among Filipino families.

Source: Instagram

John Legend sets up their family Christmas tree, bringing the spirit of Christmas stronger to their family.

Source: Instagram

Looks like Mark Wahlberg and family took a few tips from the Albas, minus the Christmas get-ups. Regardless, it’s still a picture-perfect moment for the Wahlbergs.

Source: Instagram

Will Smith and Family comes in and joins the Christmas family picture party!

Source: Instagram

Meanwhile, for Taylor Swift, the best way to capture the Holiday Spirit is with a sweet photo of her with her cute and cuddly cat Meredith.

Source: Instagram

And finally, Mariah Carey and her twin daughters Moroccan and Monroe Cannon started to write letters to Santa. She even got in the act as well!

Source: Instagram

This just goes to show that, no matter where you celebrate the Holidays, the true essence of Christmas is cherishing the moments we have with our family in the places where we’re most comfortable with, the place we call home.

Have a BEE-utiful Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to you and your family!

Santo Niño: A Child Full of Color

Santo Niño has long been the image of Catholicism in the Philippines as the young Jesus Christ. Images, figurines, and statues drawn, molded, or carved in his image are knowingly prominent on every nook of every Catholic family’s home and in all Catholic churches in recognition of the Savior.

However, during the celebration of Santo Niño’s feast, he becomes not only stagnantly seen inside these homes and churches but also highly visible on the crowded, colorful and festive streets of the Philippines.

Sinulog Festival in Cebu

One of the celebrations of the Santo Niño is the annual Sinulog Festival in Cebu City and is dubbed as the biggest festival in the Philippines as thousands of people from different parts of the country and even balikbayans gather for the huge event. All for a good reason!

Sinulog is jammed with the country’s most colorful showcase of ceremonies and pageantries with participants in their vibrant costumes while they dance along to the lively rhythm of the instruments. Accordingly, these dance routines being performed in the festival are rituals meant to represent the Filipino people’s acceptance of Christianity in their nation.

Kahimunan Festival in Butuan

Traveling to the northeastern valleys of the Agusan province, Butuan City also annually celebrates the feast of Santo Niño through the Kahimunan Festival. The background of the celebration, however, is of a different cause from that of Sinulog’s.

While Sinulog is centered on the acceptance of Christianity in the country, Kahimunan dwells on the founding of the Santo Niño in Barangay Libertad where the famous Sto. Niño parish stands up until today.

Butuan’s Kahimunan Festival is also about the expression of gratitude before the start of the planting season. Similarly this gratitude is shown through the chanting, singing, and the playing of indigenous musical instruments.

Wherever the place and whichever the reason, Santo Niño is celebrated with much joy and vibrance reflecting Filipinos’ bright spirits.

Viva Pit Señor!

Paskong Pinoy is Loud

We tend to think that Christmas in the Philippines is loud. What with all the lanterns lighting up the streets, Christmas songs on repeat, and year-ender sale as early as September. But amidst the auditory and visual noise, there is something beautiful hidden underneath it all. Much like presents wrapped in expensive fancy paper, Christmas in the Philippines has a gift that we don’t notice right away.

Our traditions give us hope

At exactly 3:00 in the morning of every 16th of December begins the tradition of Misa de Gallo. It is the time when people had to be in church in the cold early mornings. After the mass people would noisily crowd the freshly made pastries and hot chocolate for everybody. Elders say that if one  made a wish and attended 9 mornings of mass before Christmas, their wishes will be granted. What we learned to love about this tradition(next to how good bibingka is), Filipinos make the effort to wake up so early to attend mass and still go to work or school, all for the promise of something good to come to their lives on Christmas day.


Good food made with a lot of heart

Easily the most anticipated get-together of the season, we’re all familiar with Noche Buena – the Filipino tradition of a Christmas Eve dinner. But despite the fact that we come together to celebrate each other’s company, there is one person who takes a silent applause – the best cook in the family. Whether it’s your mom, your tito, your lola, or your ate who has just learned how to make her first spaghetti, their time to shine has come. They spend the better part of the day preparing for this one night of the year when the people who matter the most come to savor the feast they worked hard on to make everyone come together. Noche Buena is for everyone, but the night belongs to them.

We love to celebrate

In the Philippines we haven’t really adopted Halloween as part of our culture despite us celebrating it. That’s because we start celebrating Christmas as early as September. News broadcasters start counting down the days until christmas, TV stations air their new Christmas-themed station I.D.s, shopping malls start playing christmas carols and certain Jose Mari Chan songs, and Christmas Parols everywhere. There’s no denying we get excited for Christmas earlier than most cultures. Some people would say almost way too early. But part of the excitement for non-working holidays, food, and year-end sales, is the excitement of seeing your relatives who you’ve been missing all year, coming home to the smell of the original lutong bahay, and that silent feeling of thanksgiving for somehow making it past all you’ve been through this year. Behind the overtly hyper-enthusiastic and overly-excitable people that we are, and especially when it comes to the people we love and spending time with them, we can’t help ourselves. We love to celebrate.


Christmas in the Philippines is loud. It’s almost unbearable some would say. But despite the wrappings of a gift that we didn’t ask for, it comes with sincerity and with the purest of intentions. And if we stop for a moment to think about what Christmas really means for us in our culture, we start to appreciate the enthusiasm and the excitement that comes with it year after year. And personally, I wouldn’t want it any other way.


Merry Christmas!

Better Habits from a Daft Punk song

2019 is off to a relatively quiet start. But same with every year, we all have this feeling of

wanting to change something in our lives to be better. Whether it’s breaking bad habits or
making new ones, it’s more difficult to commit to them in the long run compared to coming up
with habits to improve. Most people have a list. But we have lyrics from a Daft Punk song that
can be the basis of building better habits for the New Year.

Work it harder
To work something harder generally means to put more effort into it. This could mean a lot of
different things for different people. But what we have in common is skill or talent – something
we’re good at. We may have this skill in different areas like handiwork, organization, your job. It
could also be a talent in art, performance, or dodging glances on the street. The differences
don’t matter as much as it does the efforts you make to improve them. But don’t go full tilt and
obsess over these things. Develop those talents and hone those skills by pushing yourself just a
little bit out of your comfort zone. Even the greatest of strides came from baby steps.
Make it better
We all have difficult things we deal with every day. Whether its the stress from work, school, or
just avoiding social media toxicity. All of these can be mentally and physically draining. The key
to the phrase “make it better” in this context refers to your environment. There’s not much you
can do with changing your actual workplace or school. But making better relationships with
workmates and schoolmates can do a lot to make the daily grind enjoyable. With social media,
toxicity is everywhere. The good thing about it is that you have control over what you can and
can’t see. So utilize that block and unfollow function because your online environment affects
your enjoyment of online content. It’s all about making the space you occupy better.
Do it faster
At first, you may think that means to just do things faster. While there’s some truth to that, our
idea of doing things faster does not mean to rush things that take time. It means that in our
modern daily routines, we barely have enough time to devote to trying newer things. It can be
an enriching experience to be adventurous and change your lifestyle overnight. But for those of
us who just want to break the monotony, trying smaller, easy, and quick things are enough to
change things up. We’re all concerned about our careers, our health, and the people we care
about. So sacrificing a lot of attention away from all that can disrupt our current lifestyle. So try
smaller versions of the things you want to try. Try easy before medium and then hard. Start
small, and if you enjoy it, slowly integrate it into your life.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk may not be as lyrically elaborate as other songs in
the world. But it leaves itself for a lot of interpretation if you’re willing to see past the surface. For
us, we see it as a guideline for self-improvement. The beat may seem bland and repetitive but
upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that as the song goes on, it slowly builds character, the
words eventually make sense, and it escalates itself to a better version than what it started with.

The simplistic and constant tempo serves to remind us that to achieve the changes that we
want, we simply have to keep going.

Bee 102.3 Claims Third Spot on Third Year

Bee 102.3 buzzes its way to the top 3 spot on the latest KBP Kantar Media survey of all radio stations in Butuan City. Only on its third year, Bee 102.3 proves its existence and competitiveness in the field while remaining true to its nature as the city’s only upscale radio station.

Two steps behind the number one spot, Bee 102.3 promises to further improve its quality in providing entertainment to its niche market in the years to come to be able to reach its goal. This they find possible with the hard work of their company’s sales team, agile social media managers, and the undying passion and quirk of their dashing radio personalities.

With this achievement, Bee 102.3 of Northern Mindanao Broadcasting System, Inc., and its staff offer their heartfelt thanks to the radio station’s listeners for making this milestone attainable.