Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Tropical storm "Ondoy", (International name, Ketsana) tore through Northern Philippines Saturday, September 26, 2009, with a heavy downpour of more than a month of rain of 16.7 inches (42.4 centimeters) in only 12 hours, that submerged Metropolitan Manila, and broke the record of 13.2 inches(33.4) within 24 hours in June, 1967, according to chief government weather forecaster, Nathaniel Cruz, then roared across the main Northern Luzon islands toward the China Sea Sunday. Ondoy wrecked havoc to 25 provinces, the first ever widest land area struck and in that number.(Philstar, Sunday 27).

Since day 1, I was either in front of my TV set or on line at my yahoo e-mail, in my desperate attempt to contact my siblings, especially Edna, whose place, a subdivision at Cainta, Rizal, was one of the worst hit. The electric power was obviously cut off and signals from either Smart or Globe cell sites were also out. Our sister who lives nearest to her place is Sis Lina from Antipolo who learned that early on, flood waters entered Edna's house for the first time. Then at around 4:00pm Saturday, September 26, she lost contact with her both by landline or mobile phone. As I waited for news I was hooked on my netbook and TV for news. The scenes were scary, my heart went out to the people being carried away by the flood on top of what remained from their hpouse- the rooftop made of galvanized iron and wood. They were waving, shouting for help now, and then submerged into the rushing flood waters and were gone. People on top of a bridge who tried to help them by throwing rope in their directions failed. That scene was horrifying!

Day 2, Sunday, a grieving man-survivor, who was one of those riding that rooftop, was on TV relating his harrowing experience. He was with his wife, two children, both young girls, his mother, a cousin, and other relatives. When he went adrift and was rescued, he plucked his dead mother out of the waters. He was separated from his wife and children without any news about them. More and more typhoon victims started to be shown the night of Saturday in the internet and on TV. Pangasinan, our province, is 5- hour bus ride to Metro Manila, and yet we felt the threatening strong winds although it was quite our luck because the winds hit high and brought minimal downpour only despite storm signal # 2. How much more for those directly hit by the storm? TV footages showed houses made of light materials kept rolling with cars, buses, trees, animals, and debris. The more sturdy houses are half-submerged or are shown with just the rooftops with residents marooned on them desperately waving for help. What was pitiful were the children being plucked out from the waters muddy and dead. Drenched survivors looking for their family members plodded the waist-high or neck-high flood waters. Rescue teams of soldiers on rubber boats, and helicopters and civilians eager to help with any means possible were shown encountering difficulties because of the rushing muddy waters and rolling debris. I became more jittery as I called up my other brothers and sisters if they were all right. But I was more concerned with our relatives based in Manila, my own daughter Kit, too. I learned that she braved the storm Saturday morning to buy her necessities like foodstuff.

Day 3, Sunday, Ondoy was out of China Sea toward Vietnam passing through our province Pangasinan. That early morning at 6:00 when flood waters subsided in some parts of Rizal province and roads were passable, my other sister who lives in Antipolo, Rizal, braved the still hazardous roads to Cainta with husband Ging to checkup on Edna's. It was then that I was able to let out a sigh of relief, when they called me up to report that Edna, her husband Pol, and son JP were okay. Thank God, their house only suffered from ankle-deep flood waters that rushed inside their house flooding the living room and the kitchen. They are very lucky that their house stands on that higher place at Gate 2 of Brookside. It was Gate 1, two street corners away that was impossible to reach by rescuers until this day, Sunday. Most of the houses there were submerged to the rooftops. I learned too, that my nephew Mon had one of his vehicles, a van, half-submerged in the flood but was also okay. He is also lucky to be on higher grounds in that heavily flooded part of Quezon City. His sister Tet who plodded the flood waters from her office for about 4 hours ( she left her van in their office parking area) was able to return home to her three kids. She was feverish when she joined the many pedestrians stranded along the roads home. Lissa and son JM were accommodated by the occupants at the third floor of their boarding house for safety, too. Cleaning house will be difficult for my affected relatives but our blessings is that they are all alive and safe.

Landslides in several provinces buried families, in embrace when found. People stranded in their own homes drowned. Dead bodies were found everywhere, especially on riverbanks, along canals, some hanging on trees, burried in the mud from the landslide, floating in the flooldwaters and almost anywhere. Families who got separated from their loved ones on flight or in their washed out or buried houses cried for help to locate them only to find out that their loved ones' dead bodies were sighted elsewhere. The worst is until this day, most are missing. Those who returned to their houses found them covered with mud, destroying all that was inside. All these are clear on TV footages. Everywhere you look, the wrath of typhoon "Ondoy" is clear.

Our fallen brothers, my Filipino countrymen, need help. Thousands and thousands of the poor victims have no houses to return to. As of this posting, the number of people affected is said to be nearly 400,000 and counting. Some 100,000 people are now housed in about 150 school buildings, churches, malls, and other evacuation centers. The dead join the living in evacuation centers, waiting for the flood to subside. Where they were to be buried would be surely a problem, too. Our government officials and even concerned civilians are one in trying to help rescue, retrieve, and distribute relief goods to the victims anywhere. The National Disaster Coordinating Council secretary called even malls and shopping complex services to offer spaces for the thousands of people drenched in rain and mud. From the way the rescue and retrieval operations and even the distribution of relief goods are being handled, it indicates all to one thing, everybody is unprepared for this great disaster.

News had it that Demi Moore and other international celebrities hit the cyberspace bringing world attention to the beleaguered Philippines. Quickly, international aid comes pouring in. The United States and United Nations responded with food, water, and other relief goods in the wake of the massive flooding initially reported in the provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal, where the towns of San Mateo, Cainta, and Taytay were worst affected. ABS-CBN and GMA TV networks are among those actively involved in the relief operations at the same time that they receive aids locally and all over the world for distribution. The rehabilitation of the affected provinces will take a great task but the de-briefing and rehab of the victims themselves will take a lifetime. We are all brothers, aren't we?Our unfortunate brethren need help.

Photo by IRRI images

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Exactly ten days in September 19, 2009, after Senator Benigno "Noynoy" C. Aquino, III announced his bid for the presidency as the Liberal Party standard-bearer last Sept. 9 at the Club Filipino Greenhills, San Juan City, the Manila Bulletin, on same date, carried this news, "Noynoy To Overhaul Education". He rationalizes that the education sector is like a worn-out tire on the verge of breakdown. He presumes that to make it probably running fine, there's a need to carry out long-term solutions to the perennial problems in education in order to build new, durable, and lasting tire.

He has a good knowledge of the disparity between the private and the public sector in education. While today, many private schools are observed to have enough school buildings, sufficient
number of classrooms, and with good standard teaching-learning facilities, mostly are in idle due to the thinning enrollment. It's a sad fact that with the economic crisis felt globally, many parents of students who were first enrolled in the paying private schools, had to seek transfer in free public schools. Since according to the good Senator, the private sector holds the key to the solution of the recurrent shortages of school buildings, classrooms, facilities, and most especially lack of teachers in the public sector which, in the the first place, has been caused by the exodus of transfer from the private to the public, he plans an advocacy that was never considered yet. This is to send a good percentage of students from public schools to enroll or probably return to the private schools. This certainly will equalize student population in both, instead of building more classrooms, hiring more teachers in public sector where these are lacking.

His suggestion to prioritize the development of primary education, that is from the kindergarten to grade three, where the teaching of the basic 3R's- reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, are first taught is not new. The DepEd new project Multi-Lingual Approach is also geared toward this innovation. This plan is to use mother tongue from grades one to three for efficient and effective teaching-learning situations. This is still in the offing. With regards to another pressing problem which is about teachers' low salary rates, he was honest to express observation that indeed the government has scarce funds to give what is due them and while he salutes these mentors for their sacrifices, he could only extend his hands to them as he encourages them to join hands with him in search of solutions to the many problems in education.

As a retired master teacher II from the public elementary school, I have here a rejoinder to the good Senator's pronouncement. Indeed Philippine educational system, in my 40 years of stint, has long been running in a limbo on flat tire, stopping now and then for vulcanizing jobs along the rough roads. I think I never had a smooth travel while riding the system until I retired. The obsession to make education work remains a fantasy.

I just couldn't fathom why in the metropolis like Manila, a supposedly advanced urban part of the country, the education sector has to be subjected to another vulcanizing job of the DepEd- that of applying the three-session a day of holding classes in order to temper the shortage of classrooms and teachers, when their counterparts in the rural provinces like us here in Pangasinan have more than enough classrooms that even the janitors have one for themselves. What a waste, really!

Of course this move to rearrange schedules in three sessions is again met with apprehension not only by the parents but also by the students and teachers who will wake up in the wee hours of the morning to beat the 5:30 am first session and take security risks daily in transit. The third and last session that ends at 8:00 pm or so is even near impossible, if not courting more problems in monitoring the young to and from school. The dark out there is treacherous to them, isnit it ? Just as it seduces the teachers who will have no more rest period, to buckle down to complacency and never-mind-that- come-what may-attitude.

Senator Noynoy has the chance to make a difference in the country's educational system. Given his advocacy to work with people and for the people, the road may be rough and the challenge just as tough but if people are made to see the real situation, are shown honest intentions, can visualize and concretize the dropping rate of graft and corruption, they might as well give it another try. This tremains to be seen, Honorable Senator.

Photo by One Laptop per Child

Friday, September 25, 2009


My elder brother recently retired from public service like I did. He left an honorable position as a state university vice president at 65 in February, 2009. I bowed out from teaching as an elementary grades master teacher II at 62 in November, 2009.

As retirees, Kuya and I have only few things in common and a whole lot of difference. We are both educators. I do quite better in campus journalism, he excels in statistics and research work. Armed with these God-given talents, we both face the bleak horizon confronting us as retirees. Because we want to make our retirement days worth living for, not bereft of excitement and challenges , we listed our planned projects that differed tremendously. I wanted to repair my house, he wanted to build a printing press building. I wanted to spruce up my ornamental and vegetable gardens and my small orchard, he planned to put up a swimming pool in his front yard. While we were in this process of our separate planning, we didn't realize that our own families were exchanging notes against our plans in our backs. Ha ha ha!

Obviously, their idea about retirement is rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, ours is work, work and more challenging work. In fairness, their reactions are not left unreciprocated by Kuya and I. We honestly thank them for always being there at our sides, reminding us that we both are not hail and strong like we used to be. He is hooked 3x a week on a dialysis machine and is taking daily lots of oral medicine and insulin shots. I have a milder case and also on a daily oral med with insulin injections. We are both diabetics. And we earned from our families this unimpressive term- "matigas ang ulo" (stubborn), for going on with our plans. Yakkk!

Since I live away from my daughters I was able to accomplish the projects I planned to do, with less hassles from them. I had the roof of my house and our vacant family house repaired and repainted, including other repair works. I spent a lot of my time in my ornamental and vegetable gardens and my little orchard. I wanted to do more, but unluckily, I was down with diabetic neuropathy aggravated by shingles infection on my right thigh. I was also diagnosed with an onset of osteoarthritis. I'm now confined at home dutifully following orders from my doctors and obeying my daughters' strict surveillance of my activities and medication through a house help (I didn't need one then). I chose to compensate myself out of my temporary loss of freedom to move around by trying my hands on blogging! My daughters bought for me a cute netbook. Isn't this a blissful life? I found blogging as a sort of pain relief and stress release, too!

How about my beloved Kuya? Well, his indomitable spirit (translated- stubbornness) merited him and his family very good projects. When my siblings and I visited him at their house (Sis Rose flew to Abu Dhabi to baby sit her newborn apo MJ., Congrats Dianne and Manny! Hi, MJ!), we were greatly surprised with the transformation in their house and around the yard. Instead of a printing press building there now stands in their front yard a sort of a mini-resort type of lawn garden, very inspiring and beautiful. When we applauded him for this, he said he is on the process of researching on how to maintain a swimming pool, because he felt that the printing press house will never materialize. Of course he was met with apprehension from all of us. Sis Rose and Dianne strongly disapproved of this. Who will maintain it and how? I guess his pronouncement of this hidden plan will again receive a strong thumbs down from them and the squabble will never end.

My Kuya never seems to run out of ideas in search for anything of his fancy. Few weeks after having underwent an angioplasty, he went over at my place without my sister-in-law's knowledge. I was full of apprehension because of his health condition. But he was able to contact a relative to make a fishing boat for him, motorized if possible because he knew he couldn't put his arms to good use anymore. The poor fishing boat which was ready in few days' time, minus the motor, now lies between my house and our parental house, its bottoms up, and never ever touched the river. In his younger days Kuya was a good fisherman. He frequented the nearby river either for fun swimming or trying his new fishing gadgets to catch fish. When I texted Sis Rose to report that incident, he received admonitions from the wifey. As usual I was the victim of her misgivings. I'll never be able to get out from this impression of her about me- consentidor! Hayyyy! Ay, sorry!

The last time my siblings and I visited our Kuya, which was only last week at this writing, he entertained us with his first harvest of broiled catfish (hito) from his backyard aquaculture project. Sooooo delicious and such a health food that the fishpond won a downright thumbs up from us. I remember that when we first learned about it from my sis-in-law who reported that he built that fishpond, we were also angry. I even said that my brother will not die of diabetes but he will, of dengue. Well, that was when we learned that his first fingerlings of catfish and mudfish (dalag) all died. But he didn't give up and today he proved he was right. His fresh water fish are thriving on commercial feeds and potable water from their deep well, the same water source for their household use. He proudly demonstrated to us how to catch the fish with big long handled wire-netted scoop and with his stateside fishing rods with earthworm baits. The large cemented aquarium-like container about my chest level (four feet high) that neatly stands in their backyard is proof of my Kuya's genius in research work. Congrats!

His old pig house was turned down and a large poultry house now stands in that place. He showed us his few pairs of very large chicken for a start. A new pair of turkeys arrived, courtesy from his balae from a neighboring town. As he toured us around the backyard, we could only say ahhhs and ohhhs with his fruit-bearing cocoa trees, his newly planted calamansi seedlings, seedless orange tree, avocado trees, and you- name- it- and- you- have- it animal and plant life all proofs of his lust for experiments and research.

When I bragged to him about my new-found preoccupation of blogging, not an effort to outrun his projects because I will never compare of course, he announced that he was planning to create his own blog (watch out for this coming blog here) about research and statistics, his real love, so that he will continue to share others his novel projects and discoveries. You see? That's how stubborn my Kuya is ! Never-seeming to run out of energy. I now raise my white flag in surrender. I can only hope and pray that our retirement days will continue to give us inspiration to tell all and sundry that life is not empty for a retiree. That is with God's unending blessings and our families' on and off approvals. Hehe!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Living with diabetes could be cumbersome at one point but it could also be challenging most of the time. You can't say no when the day for checkup comes. I will be traveling quite a distance to the hospital and while on the way, I always have to put up two things to ponder on - did I succeed or fail? So I will sit back to recall the food I ate, the medicine I took, if I had my prescribed exercise and think about a lot of the do's and dont's. The results of the clinical tests in my recent checkup revealed that my blood sugar level is still uncontrolled, so my insulin dosage was upped by only 1mg/dl (lang naman). My creatinine test result indicates that my kidney is no longer angry. My cholesterol and uric acid levels which were not addressed to yet by my nephrologist because they were not on alarming stage then, are now his next concern. He prescribed Crestor for my cholesterol and advised me on what food to avoid for my uric acid. With these additional burden I started to make intensive readings regarding my ailment especially about diabetes. And I stumbled on this -My Daily Guide in Managing My Diabetes, Abbott and this is what I've learned.

Diabetes is known to many as a body condition where there is increase of sugar in the blood. Little is known by them also as regards to the complication of excess sugar in the blood. This lack of awareness has in fact, given rise to the number of people suffering from diabetes the world over.

It is important to know initially, that blood sugar or blood glucose is our body's main source of energy. Without energy, we can't move around and do our work. Excess sugar or lack of it in our body can cause life-threatening diseases. It is therefore important that everyone should know the normal level of our blood sugar. For example, an adult female like me, has normal level at 60-120 mg/dl or 3.8-6.1 mmol/L.

Prolonged uncontrolled blood sugar level, either high or low, can lead to various complications such as diabetic retinopathy (eye diseases), diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease), and diabetic neuropathy (nerve diseases). Retinopathy leads to visual impairments the worst of which is blindness. Nephropathy is the disease of the kidney which would need dialysis or kidney transplant to cure it. Neuropathy affects the blood vessels and nerves most particularly of the lower limbs which can result to amputation. I have recently been diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy.

More and more people today are becoming diabetics. Probably because blood sugar that is above normal but below 160 mg/dl doesn't show symptoms at all. It's when it rises to 180 mg/dl that symptoms appear. The classic symptoms are frequent urination and bowel movement, excessive thirst and hunger, loss of weight, itchiness in one's private parts.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. It may begin from childhood or may occur at any age. Type 2 diabetes is a condition when the body doesn't respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas. Body cells don't use the insulin until the pancreas loses its ability to produce the natural insulin. In both types insulin shots are needed to keep blood glucose level down.

The complications of diabetes must not be taken for granted. Diabetes can be managed. Improved glycemic control benefits both types. Glucose control can cut down the risk of microvascular complications or diseases of the eye, the kidney, and the nerves. Heart disease and stroke that are related to diabetes can also be prevented and controlled. Blood pressure of adults must be kept at 120/80 mmhg. Cardiovascular complications can also be reduced when we keep our cholesterol or blood lipids at normal level such as; HDL at 30-80 mg/dl, LDL at 65-175 mg/dl, and Triglycerides at 0.1-2.1 mmol/L for female adults.The normal value of creatinine at 44.2-150.3 mmol/L can cut the risk of kidney diseases.

Diabetics need help from their physicians. Working close together, treatment and medication will go on smoothly. Preventive care practices are not learned just anywhere from anybody. The best management is forged between the patient and the doctor to ensure proper management. Life can still be healthy for diabetics who possess good understanding of their condition and strict self-discipline in management.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Jessie Ni is a Chinese national. She came to Manila sometime in the year 2000 to pursue her studies at the De La Salle University. She lived in my Sis Nela's house. She is not a relative but her "Unkuh" William and Aunty Nela treated her as their own daughter. She finished her post graduate studies with a Master's degree in Special Education(SPED). After graduation, she went home to her family in China. That was the last time I saw her.

She comes once in a while to visit her foster family, the Wei family. She continues to be in touch especially with Unkuh William. She used to make the first move to say hi and exchange updates about life with them. My daughters would receive text from her, too. I never had a chance to see her personally but she always sends me her regards.

Jessie is a smart beautiful young lady who is happy by nature. Her Chinese descent can hardly be noticed. She passes easily as a "fashionista" Filipina with flawless complexion. Her Filipina looks worked to her great advantage. She never got herself into trouble during her stay in the country. She is health conscious. She knew when she had crossed the line and was afraid to look fat. I will never forget how a good cook she was. I liked her dumplings.

Despite language barrier (she could hardly express herself in English), she was a good listener and showed that she was a fast learner. Soon, she was enjoying herself learning basic words she needed in daily conversation like "Para Mama", "Sa tabi po Mama", "Bayad ko po, Mama", "Salamat po", which she used to brag when she came home after classes. I remember how she laughed when instead of saying "Bayad po Mama", she said "Para Mama". And poor Jesi alighted from the jeep because she didn't know what more to say.

She loved to go shopping on weekends. She used to be thrilled like any other student when classes were suspended. She would go out shopping with friends, with her foster family or even by herself. She was confident because she knew her way around the city. She haunted the SM, Rustan's, Harrizon Plaza and even Quiapo and Divisoria. She would come home excited to show her purchases- bangles, earrings, trinkets, clothes, bags, shoes, and almost anything a moneyed-single lady would buy.

In Filipino slang Jessie was not "plastic". She used to say she didn't like people with such bad attribute. She was lovable because she was sincere and related so well to people close to her. She is a well-bred interesting lady. Her own parents must be very proud of her. And they trusted her so much. She used to tell us that she would bring us with her to China to attend her wedding when she finally found her Mr. Right.

However, little did she knew that her Unkuh William will never become her Ninong. He died a very sudden death recently. We tried to reach Jessie but we failed to contact her through her cell phone because William's phone book yielded only phone numbers. We prayed very hard that she would make a call. And she did! When Jessie called, her Unkuh William was already interred in a cemetery. She cried bitterly and came home to Manila within five days. She arrived on the forty-first day of his death, to pay her last respect to a lost loved one. I had not seen her because I went home to the province after the 40th day family commemoration and prayer.

Before she arrived in Manila, she was able to get our email address from Aunty Nela and we chatted. Indeed she finally found her Mr. Right. It was then that we learned that she was busy those days because an engaged-to-be-married party was just thrown for her and her fiancé, a Chinese-American, based in the USA. Her fiancé and she were also working on her US visa. She called to share this happy event in her life to her foster family, not knowing what happened. Amidst that merriment, Jessie still went out of her way to show her undying love and loyalty to her Unkuh William.

We, foster families of Jessie from the Philippines, wish her all the best and congratulate her and her fiancé, Jason on their approaching Wedding Day. Best Wishes and Good Luck! Muwahhhh!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


In 1992, I wrote an opinion letter to the editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer that landed in the opinion page on top of other letters under the title, CHAOTIC 1992 POLLS. It conveyed my sentiments regarding my perceived hardships of the members of the Board of Election Tellers in the event that the proposed synchronization of elections gained support. As a teacher-member then, my misgivings fell on deaf ears. The synchronized elections prevailed. My small appeal for support paled in comparison to the advantages politicians got for themselves. The terms of office of the incumbents were extended.

Elections since then never solved the perennial problems of the people- poor health and sanitation, pollution, poverty, peso devaluation, graft and corruption, crime and violence, unemployment, human rights violation, defection and terrorism, oil price hikes, extravagant presidential trips abroad, questionable pork barrel, etc. The chaos is still escalating. Its rise and fall is usually felt during election campaign period and in the aftermath.

That I may be accused of being a paranoid, I can't deny. Even in the eyes of the ordinary Filipino citizen, the telltale signs of electoral viruses- self-interests, jealousies, hate campaign, mud-slinging, turn-coatism, grandstanding, lobbying, etc., are active again. As if people don't know what happened to the sugar-coated promises for improved services by these politicians!

Two years after the last chaotic polls, we still see news headlines of unsolved national and local level electoral protests allegedly due to fraud- vote-buying, ballot-switching, grandstanding, cover-ups, etc. Whatever happened to the much-celebrated "Garci Tape" scandal? The poor voters just watch- angry, repentant, and helpless.

The majority, composed of the marginalized electorate and the young voters, are really wanting in information and proper guidance. We can't blame them for their resulting reactions, especially so when they believe they were double-crossed and shortchanged. They must be provided with a working knowledge that will help them make intelligent decisions come elections. Teachers, parents, and other concerned groups must encourage their high participation, to listen to be able to discern political campaigns by those with pure intentions to serve the people above self-serving interests.

The all-out campaign to go out and vote and participate in clean and honest elections is not enough. The doubting electorate must know for example, what caused the snap elections in Marcos' time that led to his downfall; why people power that hostaged Cory and installed her to become president was almost crushed and rendered useless by coup attempts; why FVR conspired to effect cha-cha, when he would have made a difference among the presidents after Marcos; why ERAP was forced out of Malacanang passing the backdoor then and now is staging a comeback as if nothing happened; and why GMA is blowing her head off on what to do with the First Gentleman and the First Sons and how to save the First Family in the face of so many scandals rocking her presidential chair.

The filing of candidacy of the popular and not-so-popular figures hasn't began yet. But look at what's going on. I'm really rattled that I say again that 2010 Elections is Chaotic. Please tell me I'm wrong?

Photo by james sarmiento

Monday, September 14, 2009


I'm not a politician. I'm an ordinary taxpayer. If you think that I should not bother myself with politics, I thought so, too, at first. But somehow recent political events are bothering me. I'm willing myself to monitor daily news mainly to gather bits of information about each politician posturing this early as formidable candidates. I honestly believe that this might help me make better decision come election day. This is also my duty as a concerned Filipino voter. However I'm not enjoying the whole picture of it. I don't think there is really a Mr. Right or a Ms. Perfect among them. That remains to be seen.

There they go again! Like in a street "karerahan", they're already off and running through all sorts of political gimmickry. What's disconcerting is that there seems to be gross lack of decorum, nay discipline, and the whole picture is more of a telenovela to the cynical and nothing of worth to the marginalized among our brothers, given the grumblings and rumblings I hear.

I welcome that move from someone who cried "foul" regarding the "infomercials" over the media. If I were to recall, when they were not yet under attack, I didn't give them a cent worth of my time. To me, they were simply amusing, alternative entertainment, if not, at other times, laughable. It's the issue raised about its high cost, who paid it, and what money was used that I realize I had to understand why infomercials can be regarded illegal. I'm a taxpayer. I know in my own little way that money appropriated by government for the benefit of the people must be properly disbursed and well accounted for.

Another, I haven't rested my mind yet about why the failed attempt to use automated machine voting was recently resurrected. Have the eager-beavers ironed out their differences along this scheme? I thought many opposed it because of alleged massive irregularities of contract for one and its susceptibility to fraud in another. Can COMELEC assure the voting public that there will be no more "Hello Garci" nor that popular "dagdag-bawas" scares of the past? How well can this government arm address problems that may emerge like technical malfunctions, if there be any, during voting?I pray that the billion peso cost of said scheme will be worth it after election.

I can't tell now who among the handlers of both the opposition and administration candidates are doing the right choice for their strongest standard bearer. Even they, themselves, can't seem to unite their own turf. Many things can happen yet. Election is still a long way to go. To prove my point, some strong contenders have already dropped from the rolls. May their reasons for giving way be heard and from their actions, the unscrupulous among them follow suit, so that legitimate conflicts will be straightened out for the good of everybody.

I can't understand why. But I hear names of old politicians with pending cases also on the run as if nothing wrong happened. They're at it tooth and nail, or do or die. Is it difficult to exclude them from the screening? Or are they very sure that the slow grind of justice is on their side? Therefore, I would like to disabuse my mind if I say that foremost in their agenda is to seek high position, stay in power, invoke immunity and evade punishment from the sins they committed, continue to evade the law and make the whole nation a mockery in the eyes of the world.

Now and then, I'm scared whenever Cha-Cha and how the law of the land could possibly be twisted to serve the ends of those in power. Although many attempted to revise our Constitution, there are still strong men in government who are there to defend it. But until when? Do our elite politicians really want political stability for the welfare of the people? Or are they there only primarily to guard their amassed wealth, questionable tax declaration and net worth and prospects of more wealth?You see, money is the root of all these nightmares.

I know only a little. Isn't little knowledge a dangerous thing? But this is politics, Filipino style. I'm just speaking my mind loud.

Photo by james sarmiento

Thursday, September 10, 2009


.....and finally he said a resounding YES!

One moment, a surprised Filipino electorate saw on TV a beleaguered Mar Roxas , emotional and almost in tears, abdicating his lofty dream of running as presidential candidate for the coming 2010 elections, in favor of his friend, Benigno "Noynoy" C. Aquino, Jr. Noynoy's apparent nonchalance as he stood at the background, struck me. What was going on?

Another day, not long after, Noynoy, with his continued composure, was hitting the headlines right and left. He was being wooed to run for presidency. His courtiers practically hounded Noynoy, a political neophyte to the highest position in Philippine government, to consider the carrot stick they offered in a proverbial silver platter, and to come out clean and fast with an honest yes to replace his good friend, Mar. Knowing only a little about the ins and out of politics, or probably because I just have had my fills about past political maneuvers, you hear them now saying this, then on the deadline for submission of candidacy you hear them say another, I just raised my eyebrows and went on with my new-found daily preoccupation- blogging.

That same morning, I just posted in my blog my thoughts about Noynoy, "Noynoy for President in 2010". Ha ha! It was a write and forget kind of article. Politics is not my forte. But I followed through the every day's events just the same. Of course I witnessed, just as every concerned Filipino voter did, how the good Senator maneuvered a polite excuse to come to think about it. On one hand, he and his sisters were busy preparing for their expected appearances in a series of Eucharistic celebrations, in honor of the 40th day of Mother Cory's death, in still unnamed venues to the public those days.

The all-too-good-to-be-true courtship on another hand, caused Noynoy to seek retreat for short-lived refuge in some popular sanctuaries frequented by Mother Cory when she herself, needed an assuring shoulder/s to lean on during her rough times as President of the land while dispensing about her state duties. Thus, I could presume that Cory's built-in wisdom as God-fearing Roman Catholic also runs in Noynoy's blood and became a ready catharsis in his hour of deliverance from this current dilemma of that magnitude. He admitted though that he was not as religious as his mother was, although he had joined her in many occasions when she went over in the protective walls of said sanctuaries.

The sporadic demands for Noynoy to run for presidency catapulted him in leaps and bounds in the days to come(no official survey result yet).The whole world watched. It was also, to my mind, an unobtrusive test whether Mother Cory's Magic would work on him. And it did! I'm not a political analyst of a caliber, but my opinions as a voter encourage me to observe how Cory's Magic can be used to Noynoy's advantage. Today, I find my thoughts craving for more so that I can say more. After all, I'm a trying-hard intelligent voter.

Firstly, unless this Cory Magic springs to real life with tangible proofs of positive change in the lives of the people, the great majority of whom are living deep in the quagmire of misery and poverty, it remains just that. Without follow-up by a nation under a good if not a better leader, the democratic principles which Ninoy and Cory died for, their charisma which is still gaining support, will die a natural death. Therefore, Cory's Magic must be institutionalized in the Filipino people's culture. Election 2010 gives us the chance. Noynoy, together with his political analysts and advisers know this, in broadest terms among these seasoned politicians.

Secondly, the gargantuan task ahead necessitates careful planning as well as execution by someone who must possess a formidable character to be able to unite a divided opposition- with or without an administration's anointed one. The neophyte presidentiable's winning or losing power rests heavily on majority support from the camp of a newcomer. This support must be turned into votes come election. The preponderance among the incumbents who are contented and happy in their perks is of course a risk to depend on for support.

Thirdly, as Senator, Noynoy is still wanting in know how as far as the powers of a president mandated by law and by the Constitution are concerned. His having a mother for President in the past gives him an edge alright but this is not an assurance of winning. He should also read the Constitution and must read it well so that, if he wins, upon assumption to office, he already has good working knowledge of the oath he must make- to preserve and defend it against tyranny. Then as he gains further knowledge and establishes a foothold, he will come to gripes with the naked reality that in order for him to stay, he must possess furthermore an unswerving willingness to sacrifice his personal and family interests above the peoples' national interests; to make himself in constant struggle to arise with highest morality; to lead with an incorruptible leadership; to adhere to the principles of democracy; to listen to the pros and the cons when state matters are threatened by partisan motives; and most importantly, to work with and not against people in a spirit of mutual trust for the common good.

To the Honorable Senator, Benigno "Noynoy" C. Aquino, Jr., the days of courtship have only just began. To the intelligent electorate, your romancing with the best presidentiable not of your own choice, but of a people's choice, start - now !

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


So, what's new about it? If this gathering storm for Noynoy's endorsement for presidency materializes in fullest force come election 2010, there's nothing new to it. Obviously, the good senator is a political nobody for this highest position in government. He has no political clout, no political ascendancy, no political machinery . Noynoy is simply riding the euphoria of his Mother Cory's so-called "Cory Magic" of recent times. That's barely 40 days after her death of natural cause.

So, what's new? Mother Cory, a plain housewife, rode too, on "Ninoy Magic" of her times. Ninoy was then the Filipino people's last card against a tyrant government. The volatile social condition caused by Ninoy's assassination and later by fraudulent elections angered the people and their raging madness was so powerful that it swiped instantaneously the grieving opposition candidate Cory that she gave in to people power to be installed as president. She was upheld by the world as a fitting symbol of democracy and the first woman president of the Philippines. The time element and the exigencies of circumstances favored her unquestionably.

Election 2010 is still a long way to go. Noynoy will be facing all conceivable risks- time, sincerity of support by his endorsers, machinery, funding. He will be banking on "Cory Magic". That he cannot deny. Therefore he is faced with maintaining people's honest and sincere consensus not only among the opposition but much more among the electorate. His chance for the presidency might be another history record-breaking episode of peoples' initiative. This is not impossible in this country of people agitating for reforms in government since the days of his father Ninoy.

Cory (a plain housewife), against Marcos, was installed by people power. And so was GMA ( a brilliant economist), against ERAP(a school drop-out). ERAP and FVR (a seasoned military gentleman) have something in common. They have strong personalities (many fans?) never mind if they were articulate or not about good governance. The collective actions of the people at the end of their terms spoke for each of them. For sure, despite Cory's limitations in governance, ( there had been several failed coup attempts under her administration), she stands out from the rest in eternity. GMA has yet to prove her worth.

The time element that favored Mother Cory is now put to test on Noynoy's case. The recent move by his immediate comrades to usher Noynoy( a political newcomer) into presidency may now be gathering in power. But it's all up to the good senator to discern and make e deeper introspection. His retreat is a very welcome personal decision. He can't just make decisions by himself, let alone in haste. He needs good counsel and honest ones, too.

The political arena awaits him. While in wait, we must not forget that things happen as they do today as a warning to all Filipinos that since EDSA I, leadership in our government has grown more unstable and is gaining momentum. Noynoy is not starting from a blank slate. In his blood runs his Father Ninoy's mercurial dreams for the country and his Mother Cory's Christian wisdom and magic. Let's just pray and wait.

Photo by makeastatment

Sunday, September 6, 2009


If you haven't experienced the loss of a loved one yet, either by his demise or by his going out of your life forever and you know that he will no longer be near to share life with you, you would not have been through unbearable grief, of pain, of anger, of disappointment. Further, you'll never know the true meaning of "moving on", how you could cope with your life in disarray so that you could spring back to normalcy again.

Our family, the Castro family, hit the bottom when God took away our father, my husband, a nephew, and our mother, in that order, in a matter of barely two years in 4 different modes of passing away. A good priest I talked with for counsel said, "God is good. When He gives blessings to His chosen ones, it pours as in "siksik, liglig, at umaapaw" (cup overflows). Similarly, when He chooses you to suffer with Him, He hands you down a package deal". Of course I didn't understand or should I say, I refused to believe that God would do the later to His own creation.

However, the advice kept burning in my mind. That was when I started to read the Holy Bible. The more I read, the more disturbed I was. Life stood still. I couldn't find the comfort I was looking for. I wanted to know how to start living again without my husband. I couldn't offer any consolation to my grieving siblings either, no matter how I wanted to. Our kind of loss was too surreal to bear. I was afraid to verbalize my own thoughts. Not after some petty misunderstandings happened among us, siblings, because we were caught flat-footed, unprepared, too overwhelmed to realize that no one was to blame for our parents' demise.

No more words had been spoken. No promises had been made. We seemed to have gone separate ways as a result of our family setbacks. Since we, siblings, live apart by circumstances of our marriage and work destination, we healed our wounds separately in silence. In fairness, we continued seeing each other on All Saints' Days in November and during our Annual Barangay Fiestas in May- in memory of our dead loved ones. We celebrated special occasions together like birthdays and death anniversaries. During such reunions we learned about each other's attempt to keep closer to God. A sister and her husband joined the Couples For Christ, another sister, with her family, became active in religious activities in their subdivision. And as years went by, we were exchanging notes about our lives as true Christians, Roman Catholics involved in church-related endeavors and apostolates, giving lectures on family life, joining support groups on bible services, serving in Eucharistic celebrations as lector/commentator, choir member, etc. As one family, we conduct family prayers together during family gatherings.

The loss of our loved ones taught us a lot about life. Soon we found ourselves keeping in touch more often than before. Today, we look forward to invitations for family gatherings. In good times and in bad, we support each other. No matter how big or small, we stand by each other's dilemma. Family setbacks still spring on us. But we now have a holistic approach to problems that befell each of our families. Prayers, are our handy medium in our common quest for comfort and for the many unfathomable happenings in life.

About ten years ago we were disillusioned due to the deaths of our loved ones. We lived our lives in disarray because of setbacks we forgot were unavoidable spices of life. Today we realize that we can't prevent them hitting us, but we can face them courageously with God. God is our refuge. We put all our trust in Him. Or else, how can we take our present sufferings with perseverance and better understanding? A brother has kidney disorder and is up for kidney transplant, a nephew is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer of the blood, a sister is undergoing series of traction or nerve disorders of her lower limb, another sister and a brother have cardiovascular problems, I have diabetic neuropathy aggravated by shingles infection, and the latest - a sister recently lost her beloved husband in untimely death due to complications of diabetes. One morning, she bid goodbye to him and went to work as usual, barely an hour after, her housemaids rushed him to the nearest hospital. She arrived to find her husband comatose. He never recovered within seven days at ICU. He passed away without warning, no nothing. I feel her hurts and pain. I had been through these before. I fully trust in the Lord that my sister and her 2 children will in time find comfort with our new-found approach to family setbacks-to talk to God, to walk with God, as one big family.

To me, this is the real meaning of "moving on". You don't learn it. It just catches you without warning. The Holy Bible doesn't give you the answer. The meaning is felt from within. It is guided by God with human support. You only need to trust Him, understand yourself and the circumstances of the problem. God is really good.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Kamae used to be a tall slim girl but not skinny; shy but not an introvert; silent but not despondent and was addicted to the internet the last time I learned about her activities during one of our family gatherings. And that was not very long ago!

Today, Kamae has graciously metamorphosed into a sweet trendy lady. She is now a sophomore coed at Miriam College taking up MasComm. By the camaraderie I observe when she is with her classmates and friends, I know that she enjoys their good company as much as they do, too. This sweet lady is Mon's and Cherrie's eldest and only girl in their brood of 3. She is a loving sister to Migo and Raja. The proud parents lavish their children with love but not to a point of spoiling them. To show such affection, they threw a dinner party for Kamae's 18th birthday last August 29, 2009.

When Mon and Cherrie called us up to inform us about their plan they insisted a 100% attendance of the Castro clan to which I belong as Kamae's Lola on Mon's side. Immediately, I imagined Kamae on her debut as the typical Cinderella wearing sparkling shoes, a glossy floor-length gown, a tiara on her head, gloved hands, the cotillion of friends, her first dance with Dad, 18 roses, 18 candles, 18 gifts, etc. You know, the traditional type of debut party.

The red-letter day finally came! The moment I, with my other siblings together with our families, arrived at the venue, the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Sunset Pavilion, I was thrilled by the glamorous facade with Kamae's name at the entrance competing in beauty with the sunset at Manila Bay. Our party was the first to arrive so we had sufficient time enjoying the famous sunset. Cameras clicked here and there catching even our reactions whenever spray of seawater was all over us as waves broke against the wall of the Baywalk.

I watched in awe as the host's visitors, friends, and relatives arrived in their formal European-inspired get-ups. It was the suggested party theme and so every male wore dark suits with matching vests and tie and most females donned fitting formal dresses and gowns as well. I felt we were transported into a dreamland called Europe with the imposing Eiffel Tower, other high-rise structures on the stage setting and the freezing cold of the dimly-lit pavilion. We were like characters in a fairy tale.

The celebration began with Kamae emerging from the back of the hall , with all the fanfare, fireworks, light effects as in a Wowowee-inspired show- her dream come true debut march in a very beautiful long train of layers and layers of yellow ruffles at the back of her skirt and which was open thigh-high in front to show her flawless legs and sparkling sleeveless top with a be-jewelled crown, not a tiara. She looked more of the fancy character Barbie than Cinderella to me. She marched toward the stage with such an elegance and gait to the loud applause of the audience. And how she danced with her Dad Mon, Lolo Raphy and the rest of her 18 roses offerers. But that was not all. As the evening progressed she changed costumes that fitted her parts in the program. She was in a tight-fitted orange mini dress with gloved hands and lady's shoes and sat with elegance as the 18 candle offerers gave each a message to her on center stage.

We were totally caught by surprise at one point of the program when the lights went out. However, the full blast of music introduced a group of dancers. The very good emcee had grasped all the magic that thrilled me as I watched the dancers in dim light focusing with my strained eyes on the tall silhouette of a girl dancing like Luningning or Saicy of Wowowee, so fragile-looking but full of energy. When the lights went on- there was my beloved apo(granddaughter)Kamae, beaming triumphantly in her blood-red sparkling tops and black shorts and dancing black leather boots!

There were many highlights of the birthday bash. Ronnie Liam, a Pinoy Dream Academy runner-up was there and he serenaded the debutante with his songs. He also entertained the audience from table to table singing as we helped ourselves with the food that was of a very fine cuisine, very healthful and teased the palate of even the choosy diners like a diabetic like me. There was also the Smiles Photo Booth that took pictures of all the guests and gave away snapshots for free.

Well, that was Kamae at 18.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I just attended the debut of an apo (granddaughter) with my two daughters in Manila. Kamae is the oldest apo in the Castro Clan and of course the first apo debutante. The last debut celebrated by our kindred was that of Ginalyn's, our youngest niece and therefore our last niece debutante.

How time flies! Kamae's turning to 18 tells me and my 8 other siblings that we have grown older and sickly, too. Kamae's Lola Edith (our eldest sister), was advised by her heart physician to forgo her trip from the USA to the Philippines because of her recent heart condition. She was devastated of course. Her Lolo Raphy, Ate's husband, made it though despite his arthritis. Lolo Cesar from Cavite didn't make it, too. He and wife Lola Salit just couldn't have fun while Zaldy, a son recently diagnosed with cancer, would be left behind even for a while. And besides, he has grown tired and weary due to this problem. Lolo Carlito, who is based in Canada with his family, seldom comes home. Lolo Ben couldn't travel from Pangasinan to Manila because he just had his dialysis(3x a week). Lola Rose, Kuya's wife, has more concerns because Kuya is being prepared for kidney transplant in a month or so from now.

That leaves 5 of us siblings (I, Mario, Nela, Lina and Edna) expected to attend the family gathering by Mon (Kamae's father) and Cherrie (Kamae's mother). Since we live apart from one another, we burned the lines in updates on what to wear (formal European attire) and what gifts to bring for an 18-year-old. (We simply couldn't remember the items our own daughters received on their debuts). We also worried about where the venue was and how to go there. As the event drew near, we realized we were preparing for a big family event that never before happened. We were to wear European attire! The problem was, how does a middle class Filipino don such garment?

On the d-day, August 29, we, 4 sisters, agreed to meet at Sis Nela's house in Quezon City after lunch as our take-off point and for car pooling purposes, too. I brought with me a long gray sparkle gown with plunging neckline taken out from my "baul". To make up for the missing ruffles, my two daughters bought me netted gray blazer. They too rummaged for fitting costumes. They ended up with hemline be-ruffled black lacy dresses. Solved!

Finally at Nela's house, the 4 of us, Nela, Lina, Edna and I, were like little girls fitting dresses for each other's approval. I only needed accessories, so Nela lent me her pearl necklace and bracelet, fine. Nela showed as her bed full of formal dresses and long gowns. After a long disagreement, we finally ended with a sleek black dress with dainty sparkles and off-shoulder sleeves with a matching shawl to conceal a little of her exposed back. She was fittingly garbed in formal black gown, a 39-day- old widow, who is caught between mourning and merriment, at least for a night. The following day would be 40th day of his husband William's death. And the whole of the clan would be attending this occasion, for family prayer and dinner.

Edna, our youngest sister, donned a black lacy layered European skirt minus the petticoat. She tried several blouses, too. Until the last minute before taking off, she changed her flaming fuchsia blouse into a demure glossy ecru halter. She looked stunning! Well, she is our youngest and still years away from retirement age. Lina, looked slimmer in her off-shoulder checkered sleek old gold formal blouse with matching pants. She lamented though for not bringing along her other gowns and formal dresses for a wider choice like what the other two sisters did. She regretted donning pants because she was limping from sciatica, nerve damage condition, from her right waist down her limbs. That was signal from me to justify why I wore my gown of floor length. I, too, limp from diabetic neuropathy and healing shingles. I would have worn my rubber shoes in it but a borrowed step-in did the works.

Our male kindred, from the youngest Malcolm, barely two years old(Jojo's son) with Mommy Mitch, to the oldest Lolo Raph were garbed in dark suits with vests underneath, so westernized in looks. Mitch, tall, slim and fresh beauty may soon join hubby Jojo(a US Navy) with Malcolm. The youngest female, Mau' s and Reggie's natural-curled hair Rain was Malcolm's partner. The other scene- stealers as far as costumes are concerned were Nela's Aaron ( dabbed Gu Jun Pyo, the Korean telenovela hero), Lina's and Ging's Ginalyn in flaming red-black attire complete with corset, a hat and elevated shoes and wearing a face of one whose inclination is towards the arts. The trendy beauty of Gin is an opposite of her Kuya David's natural handsome reserve. Edna's JP, a grade 4 schooler, sweated it out in his Mama's vest over long sleeves. He was saved from pulling it off when he learned that he was to substitute for Lina's Jon as one of the offerers of 18 roses. Jun couldn't leave important school activities until 11:30 pm. Nela's Hannah was a flawless white complexioned stunner showing off long legs in her short short hem-gartered lavender dress. Tet's only girl Alou, was herself a stunner at age 13. Her Kuya Gian, like David, was devastatingly handsome and youngest Edrick the most sought out face in the crowd. My Pot and Kit? What do you expect? They were devastatingly prim and proper in their black mini garbs.

We were the first to arrive at the venue, Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Sunset Pavilion before the designated time of 6:30 pm. While waiting for the debut entourage who checked in earlier at the hotel we savored the beauty of the world famous sunset at Manila Bay, just outside the pavilion, taking snapshots. For a while, all our worries and concerns in our own families took the backseat.

As usual, exchange of notes regarding our own families ensued without end. We took turns complaining about our health conditions- high BP, nerve pains, high cholesterol, diabetes , heart by-pass and angioplasty, and other age-related ailments- more than about the high cost of living and our children's education nowadays. Ha! Ha!

Family gatherings are always looked forward to by us. Congratulations, praises, goodwill- we lavish each other who deserve them, without any hint of pride nor jealousy. We, the elder siblings, give admonitions where scoldings- cum- advise are needed, but with love and understanding. This is the time for us to show our care for each other- in remembrance of our beloved Tatay and Nanay. See ya at Kamae's birthday bash details!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


"The best things in life are for free". The banner of SENIOR DEBUTANTE shows an awesome beauty of Mother Nature at her best which beach lovers can behold for free. What makes this view more meaningful to me is because it is a snapshot of me(silhouette) during one of my morning brisk walks at early dawn on the shore of the famous Lingayen Beach taken by my daughter who is an amateur in photography.

The unfolding beauty of the day slowly breaking over the horizon pushing away the mysterious darkness of the night has more meaning than meets the eye. The stillness of dawn evokes peace. The cool breeze bringing with it fresh air sends a message that there is hope for clean environment. The sparkling breakwater invites a plunge into the clear and cool water for healing. The waves scampering to envelop the bare feet as one walks in ankle-deep of sea water is therapeutic. The fishy smell of the salt water has cleansing power down one's throat to the lungs as he breathes deep in and out. And more!

As I marched toward the shoreline that day, I focused my eyes on the beautiful dawn over the horizon where sky and sea meet. I saw a frame of a natural art work so blissful to behold. It was there and still is for free.

Catching the sunrise at Lingayen Beach has varied purposes for different people. I for one, take a brisk walk to exercise my lower limbs and at the same time to breathe fresh air to bolster my immune system. Some are just seated on the wet sand clasping their legs or scooping sand to bury their feet. Others are on wheelchairs with their loved ones on watch. The more daring ones take a plunge into the inviting coolness of the water for a swim. Joggers, either on bare feet or clad in full gears, make one feel he is not alone in that wide stretch of the sandy shore. The majestic glory of sunrise envelops these people's aura with appreciation and pride for nature.

To me, sunrise wipes away my tears. It dilutes sadness, releases stress, tempers anxieties, soothes the down feelings of weary souls, with no effort but just to enjoy nature's gift for free- by the beach.


Related Posts with Thumbnails