Sunday, August 30, 2009


It's been 11 weeks or almost 3 months ago today when Herpes Zoster, commonly known as "shingles", infected my right thigh. The wounds had healed. The ugly patchwork of darkened skin on my thigh where big blisters appeared left ugly scars that are testimony to my painful suffering. Today, the pain still threatens to break my resolve to bear and live with it.

The pain was almost unbearable the first 3-5 weeks. My thigh felt like a sharp knife was cutting off the skin piece by piece. My right lower abdomen and buttocks were too painful that I was willing to undergo an MRI and for surgical operation if these would somehow ease my pain.

I am a diabetic with diabetes mellitus II condition. Before shingles caught me, I was having trouble with extreme burning sensation in the soles of my two feet accompanied by numbness of my two legs and pain on my lower back. Since I couldn't get the help I wanted from my diabetologist, I sought out second and more opinions from other doctors about my condition.

Dr. Francisco K. Ontalan, III (Nazareth General Hospital, Dagupan City), a nephrologist, confirmed that I have diabetic neuropathy, a problem with damaged nerves, due to diabetes, causing all those pains. My clinical test results revealed increased blood sugar for the past three months, high cholesterol, and high creatinine. He likened me to a time bomb ready to explode if not immediately attended to.

I followed strictly a one week regimen of exercise and medication recommended by the good doctor. On my return for a follow up checkup one week after, the tests revealed lower blood sugar, cholesterol and creatinine counts. Still the pain became more pronounced from my right waist radiating down my right thigh and two feet. I could hardly walk. Even when I was sitting or lying down, the throbbing pain was very disturbing. My blood pressure shot up, too.

I was again referred to the orthopedic where a physical therapist subjected me to nerve rehabilitation clinical procedure on my lower back. I was able to undergo only two sessions of nerve rehab when big blisters appeared on my right thigh. The blisters started to appear from my outer thigh and spread within 2 to 3 days underneath. I felt that my thigh was like an angry volcano full of hot lava ready to explode. I thought those were burns caused by the hot wet compress I applied two nights ago when my pain was intense.

My "burns" were treated by Dr. Odessa A. Bautista (Jesus Nazarene Hospital, Lingayen). In fairness, she was surprised why more blisters kept on appearing while she was treating them. Two days after, I went back to the hospital. I was wheeled into the dermatology unit. It was there where Dr. May F. Gonzales, a dermatologist, told me that I was infected with Herpes Zoster, known as "shingles". I froze in my seat when she told me all- infects the weak, the elderly, the diabetics with low immune system; stabbing pain for the first 3 to 5 weeks; medication and treatment takes from 6 months to a year.

Immediately, she prescribed Arcoxia for my pain. Since I learned that the disease is highly transferable at the blisters stage, I nursed my own wounds at home. For two weeks I went on a self-quarantine in my bedroom. I could hardly bear the growing pain. I felt bloated around my lower abdomen. So once the blisters were ruptured my daughter and I consulted another doctor, Dr. Oliver D. Ferrer (Villaflor Hospital, Dagupan City). The idea was to submit myself to MRI to find out what was causing the pain on my lower back and abdomen. Dr. Ferrer is widely known in the analysis and operation on slip disks. He prescribed Lyrica for my shingles and neuropathy which I took for 1 week. The pain slightly subsided and my yearning to be operated on was shelved. It was not slip disk. The shingles aggravated the pain caused by neuropathy especially in my lower limbs. Lyrica and Arcoxia are good combination, at least I was relieved.

After 1 month, my daughter and I went to Manila for family affairs. My shingles then had dried up and left dark ugly scars. But I was still wondering why the pain has not stopped yet. While in Manila, I took the opportunity to consult another doctor, Dr. Jose C. Navarro, (UST, Manila) a neurologist. I was disturbed by the seemingly unending pain despite my medication. In addition, the high cost of my medicines are too hard to bear. He prescribed Neurontin, similar to Lyrica but lesser in cost. After a week, we went back to Dr. Navarro. It seemed that I was not responding to Neurontin. He changed it to Calmpent. My pain reliever was also substituted with Dolcet. Both are cheaper and affordable especially so because the treatment is longer.

I will always remember the soothing words of Dr. Navarro. He said the pain is already there. It can be aggravated by emotional pain, anxieties and stress. With those words, I am careful to keep hold of my feelings. I only tap my fingers lightly on my thigh when the stabbing pain comes. Since a heavy touch exacerbates the cutting pain I just run my fingers where the itching and pain are. I know that healing is not far to happen. Until then, I will keep on strumming the pain off my shingles.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I didn't become a teacher because I wanted to. At first, I wanted to be a lawyer. I only became a teacher by circumstance. Education was the course my mother wanted for me. She was in her sophomore years in a Normal School taking up BSEEd when her father died of a lingering illness. When Grandpa died Nanay never went back to school. She married young.

I knew that Nanay saw herself in me. I remember today how she easily taught me her basic knowledge in Spanish and Music. In fact, it was in these two subjects where I excelled. I was not surprised then that my four years immersion into the course reshaped my vision because of my mother. I was thankful, too, that I made it to college.

Before you even suspect that I totally abandoned my first love of becoming a lawyer, you're wrong. I was simply like my mother! Today, I have a lawyer-daughter and another daughter who is also soon-to-be one. The way I look at both, they, too, are thankful. Now I understand why my parents didn't support my wishful dream. They lack the resources to send nine (9) children who were all raring to go to college. Credit is due them, however, that 8 of us are all degree holders. Our eldest brother landed a promising job before college and stayed put.

You can choose your own way of life. It would be a good choice if you select a good life, a significant one. If you honestly pursue it, it's always possible. You simply plant a seed of your aspirations like a mustard seed. Choose a fertile land, nurture it with love, and water all your desires with passion. In all these, don't forget that it's God's will that what we are, that's what He wants us to be. This is the life we make: where God is, success and happiness are there.

Friday, August 21, 2009


TAKE it or leave it, but this world is blessed with people with innate brilliance in them which they don't even realize they possess. As they grow in age, their wisdom grows, too. The signs show at early age among children which the pessimists and the ignorant turn down as mere misbehavior. As a teacher, I happened to learn this phenomenon along the way. Left untapped perhaps due to ignorance and recalcitrant attitude by us, adults, these children grow into adults who could lose their youthful opportunities for growth and development.

MY unfinished mission as a teacher who wanted to help children to be properly guided, gives birth to "Senior Debutante". I trust that senior citizens will have access to the Internet and become instrumental in helping brilliant children develop to their fullest. They may start in their own homes with their children's children and extended families.

TIME is closing in on us, senior debutantes. You may be someone's grandpa or grandma; or somebody's old pop or mom; or that gentleman or gentle lady I meet daily along the street, in school, in the office, in church, in a restaurant or elsewhere. It's never too late to be of service to our young and to others. As we offer ourselves to them, we likewise cultivate that God-given talent we may not know we possess.

BY introducing our loved ones, young and old alike, to the wonders of IT, our innate goodness will eventually be challenged. The youth easily respond to modernized gadgets so there's no problem with them. The bottleneck is in the way they handle their new-found freedom with technology. This is where we, senior citizens, can do our mission- to redirect their talents to their own good. To us adults, there is no reason to believe that our life as a whole will be a downhill struggle. We can still be productive by being techie. Many children out there need our guidance and care.

THE senior debutantes must view the horizon as full of promises and opportunities. They have to feign off boredom by doing something worthwhile. Patience, endurance, and commitment are important attributes for them to be able to understand and follow thru the complexities of IT, the Internet way, of course.

DISTANCE between and among senior debutantes and their loved ones is not meant to be. Modern technology bridges distances in many ways; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and the like. Let's snap out from that feeling of emptiness. "Senior debutante" is here. My fellow seniors, are you ready to bring out that innate brilliance and get real close to others?

Thursday, August 20, 2009


"Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established." Proverbs 16:3

This Bible verse was my motivating factor in the successful completion of my masteral thesis entitled, "Oral Reading Miscues and the Reading Comprehension of Grade Six Pupils: Their Relationship". Among ten(10) regional scholars under the MECS-PSU Scholarship Grant, I was awarded the highest honors upon graduation, "Academic Excellence", for my first-of-its-kind thesis and of course my performance as a whole as a scholarship grantee in 1987.

I would have pursued my great love and passion for my expertise on Reading at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City where I was also a state scholar under the Language Education Council of the Philippines (LEDCO) Scholarship Program on a short term course (one semester) in 1985. My course, "Teaching English as a Second Language in Bilingual Education"(TESL), created in me an ardent desire to pursue a study on grade school pupils' reading strategies and how these affect their understanding of what was read. If I continued my studies there, I would have spent a lot on my own. I would no longer be covered by the scholarship as it was only on a short term basis.

Between my aspiration to have a post graduate degree and to build our own house, I selected the latter. If I did not, it would be unfair on the part of my husband who sacrificed so much by working abroad that time to help augment our income for that project. And besides I agreed with his noble plan to quit his job as a mechanical engineer at the National Irrigation Administration, Dagupan Branch for obvious reasons. I was half-contented that I only finished the academic requirements for my first post-graduate course on Administration and Supervision (minus thesis) in 1979. But becoming an administrator was slowly being pushed out of my mind. I wanted more, but, I, too, must sacrifice.

It was much to my surprise that just after I completed my LEDCO studies, I was offered a full course study grant by MECS-PSU. My desire to pursue my studies on reading materialized because of divine intervention. I didn't spend any amount on my own as a scholar. I received monthly stipend from the government up to its completion.

My point really here is, we humans, are just planners. We can be possibility planners. If we put our trust in the Lord, the final executor, and surrender all our plans to Him, blessings will come to us. He will always make a way because He is the perfect planner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The mere mention of the word "retirement" evokes mixed emotions to candidates in their age of reckoning. "Scared" is a likely feeling that disturbs the mind. But what are we really afraid of?

Here, let me give you a first-hand experience about retirement. If you are healthy and well, there seems to be no problem. But if you have a health condition that needs immediate attention, postponing your retirement is scary. Don't you think so?

Retirement must be viewed by all candidates as a reward- a bonus. You had spent the first 20 years of your life earning an education from the day you were born up to your college days. You fought it out to find a good job the next 20 years and most likely are settled with a family. Another 20 years will be your monument of performance for yourself, your family, for others, and the country. This, I am very sure. It's your turn now to analyze your spirituality. How much more time do you have for your relationship with God? If the life span of man as mentioned in the Bible is 76, you only have a few years to return to God all the blessings received, our divine provider.

I am not a devout Catholic but by circumstance of our children's needs whom we enrolled at our local christian school, my husband and I, together with our daughters, attended the required Bible studies and studied with other parents during their grade school years. Otherwise, our participation in church was just ordinary and non-participative.

My retirement days are my only chance to deepen my faith in God. Not that I didn't do this all those years. Ten years ago, I signed up as a lector in our parish. I religiously participated in Eucharistic celebrations. If I am not serving as lector or commentator, I am with the parish choir serving during the first two masses on Sundays at 5:15 and 6:30 am. What I enjoy most as a choir member is singing during special masses such as funeral as well as wedding masses. I am an alto singer and I love to descant.

I am not scared about retirement. I am thankful that if I live up to the age of 80 years, I have ten years more to complete another 20 years which I already started to offer in service to God and the church. This way I am giving myself luxury time to walk with God thru my religious activities in church and in the community of fellow Catholics. Now, are you still scared?


Dep Ed Order No. 74, series of 2009, hacks to death the BE (Bilingual Education) Policy of the 1970's that tried to resuscitate our country's failing quality of education for the past 35 years. The new policy MLE (Multilingual Education) presupposes that the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction in the primary grades will be more effective.

The new order adds that English and Filipino will now take the backseat and be taught only as separate subjects from the preparatory level to grade three. These languages will return as media of instruction when the pupils become "ready" projected to be by the time they reach grade three. By the time they enter high school, their mother tongue becomes only an auxiliary and supplementary medium.

Accordingly, Dep Ed Secretary Jesli Lapus is bent on the promotion of EFA (Education for All) thru the MLE which is mother tongue-based with the end in view of building a strong foundation for learning English and Filipino as languages of wider communication. (Manila Bulletin, Thursday, July 30, 2009).

For clarification, it is important to mention here that mother tongue means the language one is born to, the first language (L1) spoken by him or her and is commonly used in the household and one's immediate family. It is the dialect spoken by the people other than members of the family in a small and specific territory defined by its geographical location and used daily as their language for communication.
  • For example, I was born in Lingayen, Pangasinan and Pangasinense is my mother tongue because it is the language I learned from my parents and have spoken since my diaper days. It doesn't summarily mean however, that all those born in Pangasinan are Pangasinenses. In Pangasinan alone, we have also Ilocano speakers like in Anda and other towns in the province. Just as basically, Metropolitan Manila is a Tagalog-speaking territory, not Filipino. In fact in the entire Philippines, there are around 80 or more dialects spoken by Filipinos. English and Filipino, being taught and learned in school as alternative forms of communication become for us, Filipinos, our second language (L2).
I personally regret that the Bilingual Education Policy must now say goodbye to the academe after 35 years of implementation. It means that the pupils' textbooks now in use in prep up to grade three are no longer appropriate. It means that teacher's manuals and other reference materials are now passe. They will soon be replaced to cater to the different dialects. What a waste!

For me, no new education policy is bad, initially, just as no old ones are good all the way. If an education policy failed, many factors made it so. The proponents, stakeholders, and language experts claim that one cause of the worsening state of education in our country today is the disparity between home and school languages. But there are more hindrances to this. I'm sure that implementation of this new order will be greatly affected also by poor financing, by the expertise of those involved, and time constraint. I'm afraid that with the number of clientele teachers and pupils and our government's resources problems alone, the cyclical failure of our policies may happen again. Add to this our problem on hierarchy that before policies reach the end-users, the flame dies like the proverbial cogon.

If we are optimistic and are truly transformed in values and attitudes, well, I say, let's try again. And good luck MLE!

Friday, August 14, 2009


I would have retired from active public service at 60, but the thought of separation from the academe after thirty-eight years was still far from my mind. I was still savoring the satisfaction of educating children and helping them metamorphose into young achievers. There were still lots of things to do like decreasing the number of non-readers in the elementary grades; whetting talents among fast learners in the intermediate grades in co-curricular activities such as declamation, oration, campus journalism quiz bees and other literary competitions.

Having recently discovered how life could still be at 60, it was difficult for me to decide whether to go or not. I thought I was not ready to live a quiet and sedentary life. My training as a teacher led me to lay out an action plan, a lifetime plan of activities for my retirement days. Finally, after a thorough study of what might be my fate, I retired at 62. Two years was fair enough pre-conditioning of mind. The rest I entrusted in God's hands.

Why I finally decided to retire at 62, one year short to 63, when I can collect all benefits similar to one who retires at 65, is because of my health condition. I am an insulin-dependent senior debutante with diabetes mellitus type II condition. At home, any planned activity, small and big, are voted upon by my two daughters and I. I am often overruled. If their dad were alive today, I would likely have a better winning chance, at least.

Today, I feel no regrets, because I may no longer be teaching directly in school but my training as a master teacher of constantly planning and projecting my activities with flexibility is a handy tool. I am enjoying the realization that I can still share with others my writing talent and still be of service to others. I am probably one among few diabetic bloggers. And I really thank God for my borrowed time on earth.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


When I was 60 years of age, I thought I started to analyze what is meant by "Life is sweeter the second time around". I was a teacher then, too engrossed with my job that I almost forgot I was at the threshold of senior citizenship. My birthday would have passed barely unnoticed had it not because of my two children. They called me up from Manila a week before my birthday and amidst my refusals and excuses they were able to extract from me information they wanted, like, where we could comfortably celebrate my birthday, the number of guests, etc., etc.

In no time at all, I received an LBC package of my first ever formal birthday invitation cards. The card was beautifully crafted with my most beautiful picture glaring back at me and this message, "Mommy Lita is turning 60, etc." What caught my fancy most was this line, "She said she was too old for a party, the next thing you know, she has her guest list". I giggled with suppressed excitement!

At 18, I didn't have a party for my debut. Although I admit I wanted to have one so much like all debutantes do. So I said, "Aha!" Have you ever heard of a senior debutante? (I prefer this term because it connotes youthful rather than degenerative feeling). Well, that was me. How I enjoyed my special day with my two daughters who brought along with them my sisters from Manila. Our other relatives and my friends were as surprised as I was. Today, at 63, I have a vivid memory of my instant party on a borrowed party dress, my tarpaulin, my layered birthday cake, the food, the air-conditioned venue, the gifts and a birthday photo album at last!

Life is really sweeter the second time around, you know?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

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