Thursday, January 31, 2008

Suffering in Different Forms

Lifeless little body 
Of a boy about eight 
Lying on a pavement 
Covered with newspaper 
To conceal dreadful veracity 
Eyes wide open 
Died of hunger. 

A girl sobbing 
Cradled in her mother’s arms 
The father was taken 
Conundrum engulfed them 
Sufferers of war 
Dreams shattered 
Family viciously ruined. 

Heroes weep 
Lonely in the dessert 
Happiness devastated 
Hugging and loathing their armors 
Their only companions 
Far from their little kids 
Near their deaths. 

A mother’s wretchedness 
Remote from her son 
Embracing his memoirs. 
Then his casket is brought home 
Emblazoned with patriotism 
But her only cry 
Enfold the man she borne into her loving arms. 

Ethereal wishes flake apart 
The soul was shorn of 
The trappings of power victors 
Disconsolate dreamers 
Thrown in abysmal abyss 
War, poverty, power… 
The dawn of hope is gone. 

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Simon Anthony Adan, Memoir of a Prime 2

Richard Anthony R. Ferrer

How does one feel over the loss of a dear friend?

In the middle of the night of September, I was awakened by the shrill sound of the siren of fire trucks. In a few seconds however, I drifted back to sleep.

I never thought that the fire that gutted Simon’s house would bring his death, together with his Ate Tin-tin and Daddy Tony.

The following morning while I was taking my breakfast, a classmate of mine, Kaizer Pasilaban called me up and told me that Simon’s house was burned. I asked him where Simon was, but he could not tell me. He only said that there was a fatality. Before I could recover my wits, Kaizer called again and told me that Simon was one of the fatalities.

I pinched myself, wanting to believe that this was just a dream, a nightmare. I called on Jesus and asked Him to tell me that this was only a mistake and that Simon was still very much alive.

The whole day, I was so nervous and tense. My grandmother had made inquiries about the incident and knew for a fact that Simon has indeed died in the fire. In the afternoon, we went to hear mass at the Carmel Chapel. Fr. Francisco Mallari, S.J., the officiating priest, requested the church goers to pray for the souls of the fire victims. Although there was no mention of the names, I became again very nervous and tense. 

On our way home, I asked my grandfather to pass through Peñafrancia Avenue where the funeral parlor was. About 5 meters from where we passed by, I saw the name “SIMON ADAN”. I was shocked; I just couldn’t believe that Simon is gone- forever! That starting on there would be no more Simon to play with me.

Simon and I became friends when we became classmates in grade four. He was my seatmate and he appeared to be friendly. We shared so many things in common. We even like the same kind of games. On weekends, we used to play together. My grandmother allowed me to play with Simon because he was very respectful in asking permission.

In fact, Simon and I had a date to play on that fateful morning but my grandmother did not allow me anymore as she wanted me to rest after the Traslacion.

It was my grandmother who explained to me the idea of death. I never thought that death could come to a young boy like Simon. Death, I thought, is only for old people.
I went to the funeral parlor and had a last look at my friend. Despite his tragic death, he appeared to be serene, calm and peaceful. Looking at him very intently he had a happy countenance. The most painful part is saying goodbye. Lonely as I am, I have to let go of Simon. Physically, yes, but the memories of friendship will linger forever.

Simon will always remain in my heart. And as long as there are stars in heaven, I know Simon is sitting on one of them and still watching over me.

Labels: Published: NPS The Foundation (1st Issue) S/Y 2006-2007

Simon Anthony Adan, Memoir of a Prime

By: August Marc Louis S.P. Ramos

Simon Anthony Adan died along with his father and sister because of the fire at their home! That was the news that shook up the whole Parochial last September 11, 2006.

Simon was one of my best friends who was liked and loved by everybody because of his attitude. He was such a nice guy.

When I first heard about the news, I didn’t believe it because I thought it was just a joke. But when the principal herself announced that he really died with his sister and father, I finally believed it. Parochialites especially the class where he belonged were teary eyed. Even the teachers shed tears.

They said that he died because of suffocation along with his dad. The father and son were found in the bathroom embracing each other.

Simon’s sister, Katrina, died not only because of suffocation but because of the burn on her arms too. They said that she would’ve escaped but came back for her brother and father.

Last October, Simon’s classmates remembered his birthday through a simple party given by his mother for him.

Simon Anthony may have died in a tragic incident, but for us Parochialites, my best friend will always be remembered for his kind heart and humility. I pray that he is now in the company of the choir of angels gloriously praising God. We love you Simon!

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Billionaires of 2007

Writing about poverty makes me think a lot of world's billionaires. So before I continue the article about poverty, let me share with you that there are 946 billionaires in the whole world.

Here's the list of top twenty from Forbes:
1. Bill Gates, US$56.0 billion, United States
2. Warren Buffett, US$52.0 billion, United States
3. Carlos Slim Helú, US$49.0 billion, Mexico
4. Ingvar Kamprad, US$33.0 billion, Sweden
5. Lakshmi Mittal, US$32.0 billion, India
6. Sheldon Adelson, US$26.5 billion, United States
7. Bernard Arnault, US$26.0 billion, France
8. Amancio Ortega, US$24.0 billion, Spain
9. Li Ka-shing, US$23.0 billion, Hong Kong
10. David Thomson, US$22.0 billion, Canada
11. Lawrence Ellison, US$21.5 billion, United States
12. Liliane Bettencourt, US$20.7 billion, France
13. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud,
US$20.3 billion, Saudi Arabia
14. Mukesh Ambani, US$20.1 billion, India
15. Karl Albrecht, US$20.0 billion, Germany
16. Roman Abramovich, US$18.7 billion, Russia
17. Stefan Persson, US$18.4 billion, Sweden
18. Anil Ambani, US$18.2 billion, India
19. Paul Allen, US$18.0 billion, United States
20. Theo Albrecht, US$17.5 billion, Germany

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How Do We Make a Difference?

“I want to make a difference but I don’t know how…” this seems to be my much loved line nowadays. How can I make a difference indeed if I myself have been besieged with an infirmity that seemed to rob me out of the will to live at times?

Then I remember, “The power of the words is mightier than the sword”. So, with this comes the ember of impetus ablaze in my heart that with my lexis I would be able to convey the stark reality of the world we live in.

Everyday, I hear tragic stories about death and poverty. They come as one…nobody can contest that. I personally had a glimpse of these sufferings first hand. I would never get immune to heartrending stories about scarcity compelling me to exert a little effort to lessen if not to entirely eradicate this problem.

How many of us know that approximately 246 million children work? That 171 million of them work in hazardous conditions? That 134 million children between the ages of 7 to 18 have never been to school? I guess not that many because I too wasn’t aware at first of this.

To make the number easier for us to comprehend let us take a closer look in our own country, the Pearl of the Orient- Philippines. More than one out of three people live in poverty. They are out in the streets but most live in slum areas scampering in tiny abode made up of rubbish vulnerable with the threat of deadly diseases.

Our country is not all about hidden treasures that voyagers professed to be. Behind the cascading waterfalls, magnificent beaches, splendid chocolate hills, and the breath- taking perfect cone volcano is the disheartening truth that our country is filled with fraught people living helplessly everyday with barely a scant of food to eat.

In Suffering
I could still vividly remember that afternoon. After more than an hour of searching for the house of *Marlon who was recommended to us by a friend to take care of our dogs while we were having a vacation in Manila, I was greeted by a boy about three years old with his toothless grin. He was wearing only soiled shorts with mud covering his face.

When I asked about his father, he pointed me to their house- made of tarpaulin. It clearly came from the banners used in the Peñafrancia fiesta. The roof was nothing more than a dirty plastic covering. The inside of the house was visible because of big holes that adorned the plastic walls. I needed to bend upon entering for fear that the whole house would crumble upon me.

There inside the house, Marlon and his wife with other seven small children shared a bowl of noodles. I heaved a moan of discomfort. The sight left me repulsive -not to the dirt surrounding me but with the ugly reality shouting in my face.

Marlon has no job. He was just laid off from his work as a janitor. How can a family with ten mouths to feed survive each day? The empirical study that links illiteracy to poverty seems to be the predicament in his case.

The help we gave him surely lasted for only several days. I knew that he would found himself again confronted with where to get the food to feed his family.

Living with Alms
In one of the busiest street in the heart of Bicolandia, Naga City, near the line of banks and malls was another revolting spectacle. A mother cradling in her arms a malnourished baby. They were there day and night waiting for mercy from generous people.

The mother despite of grubby ragged clothes looked young maybe in early twenties. The last time I visited Naga her stomach was round again clearly she was expecting another baby.

Her situation is not much different to children selling sampaguita on street, or those young and old parading around the roads, knocking on the car windows pulling other people’s shirts to give them a glance and perhaps with compassion enough to give them several pesos for their food. If not, they would end up foraging amidst the garbage piles all over the city looking for something to stuff their grumbling stomach.

Race with Death
On the way to Manila, you would find out how severe the problem is in poverty. As soon as you enter Quezon area, you would see children racing with cars begging for some pesos amidst the danger they were into.

Then upon arriving in Manila, you would be greeted by children hanging in the moving cars to clean the shoes of the passengers or rushing in the multitude of cars to sell rags. An impending peril awaits them- their lives equivalent to some coins.

The race to totally exterminate poverty seems to be still elusive in the hands of poor Juan Dela Cruz. The poverty threshold differs but there is that ever present hopelessness that hampers the decent life being inspired by every family.

Abandoned Angels
Children suffer more than the adults in this game of poverty. Their lives are always in gamble. They are victims long before they were born.

It was supposed to be a happy Sunday for me and Ma. But instead of the usual dinner in a restaurant for Mother’s Day, we opted to visit an institution that caters to less fortunate people giving them hope to live.

Most of those who were there are children- angels who were born not only poor but with handicapping conditions. There were *Mayeth and *Boboy who have cerebral palsy and could barely talk, *Calvin who was autistic, *Ryan who was mildly retarded and countless other children who were under the care of strangers because their own families abandoned them.

We spent that day full of bittersweet memories. We heard mass and played with them. Then with their caretakers we were told of how they were abandoned because their family could hardly support their needs.

We ended up that day with a void in our hearts knowing that there were innocent lives in that shelter waiting for generous strangers to pass by so that they could continue living.

How many times have we watched on television about abandoned children on street? How many times did the news flash about dead babies found inside garbage bag? They were thrown like junk in the pile of litter only because their parents could not afford another mouth to feed. 

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Celebrating Christ's Birth

Anthony Prince 
(11 years old)

Reindeers neighing… lovebirds hissing under the mistletoe…big socks hanging over the chimney…familiar sleigh riding over the moon…shimmering tinsel reflected in round colorful ornaments…a magical land of Christmas.

We commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ every Christmas- December 25. It is the day that signals great festivities and enjoyment. The merriment and excitement filled the air as people await the most joyful event of the year.

As we celebrate this wonderful occasion, we also remember the first Christmas with Mary, Joseph and Jesus. We honor the sufferings of Mama Mary as she humbly gave birth to our Savior in the manger.

Part of the Christmas tradition is the completion of the midnight masses or what we call as “simbang gabi”. It is believed that if you can complete it your wish will come true. After the mass, we savor the sweet aroma and taste of the “puto bumbong or bibingka.” Then, we walk back home under the glint of thousand sparkling Christmas lights that adorned the streets and different houses.

Young children like me also believed the coming of Sta. Claus. We anticipate his coming every year with our reward for being good the whole year. It could be toys, bicycles or just simply sweet candies and chocolates.

The lanterns, Christmas trees, wreaths and snowman make the occasion more colorful. It is with wistful feeling that we look at them filled with Christmas spirit.

The buttery smell of cookies as our parents prepare for the noche Buena completes the custom of celebrating Christmas. We share the good food on the table that includes ham, chicken, spaghetti, and others while listening to carolers. It is indeed a beautiful feeling to behold.

The best thing about Christmas is the peace and forgiveness the season brings. A friend in Beaverton, Oregon U.S.A. told me about his last Christmas when he and his family shared forgiveness with their competitor in business. They opted to become good friends because of the hearts and spirits that surround Christmas.

We learn the value of the occasion in different ways. What is important is what is in our heart as we celebrate it. Let’s keep the baby Jesus in our hearts because Christ is Christmas.

A Taste of Independence (Backyard Camping)

10 years old

I've been looking forward to that weekend, our Boys Scouts Backyard camping…my first taste of independence.

During their elementary days, my two elder brothers attended Boys Scouts camping yearly. I could still remember their excitements while preparing for the camp and their happy faces after. I usually tell myself that I would be experiencing the same soon.

My turn came early August. I personally prepared my things for the camp. When I arrived in school, everybody was busy and excited. With the help of our parents and teachers, we put up out tents on the school ground. It was hard but enjoyable at the same time. Shriek of laughter could be heard while everybody busied themselves with different tasks.

When the night came, we played inside our tents and tried to sleep for the first time not in our comfortable bedrooms but in the school ground. However, the weather did not cooperate with us. It rained very hard that night so we were forced to move out and slept in the classrooms.

Somehow our excitements were not affected by the rain. We talked, laughed and shared jokes until 11:00 a.m. that Friday night. I slept with a smile on my face.

The whole activity was worth remembering. We learned a lot about how to be a real boy scouts. It was a fun way of learning things.

The early morning jog, the campfire activity, the games and socials added fun and thrill to the whole activity. The lectures were very informative and enlightening too.

The three days passed so swiftly. The home-sweet-home was the ending part of the camping. We packed our things again but this time with a different feeling. I felt tired but happy.

While I was walking out of the campus, I felt something changed within me. The taste of independence made me a bigger boy with a bigger responsibility.

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Confused of the Future

Eric Jan
11 years old

We are leaving the school soon…

As we anticipate the most important event of our life- the graduation, we also face the making of a very big decision in our elementary lives. We need to make our final choice of where to enroll for high school.

As for me, I have decided to join my brothers, cousins and friends at the Ateneo de Naga University High School. However, my parents convinced me to take the entrance exam to different schools, specifically the Philippine Science High School. “Just try,” they said, so I did.

Early September when we took the qualifying exam and out of 14 there were seven who made it for the second screening. It brought me so much joy to prove that we have learned a lot in our foundation years. The second screening was held early December and from that time I didn’t think much about it.

February 18 was very blessed day for me. In school, rumors began to spread throughout the campus that I was one of the five boys from our school who passed the Philippine Science High School entrance test. Not only that, I also ranked fourth in the whole Bicol region. That means a four-year scholarship in the main campus, monthly allowance and other benefits awaits me.

When I arrived home the same day, my brother told me that I also passed the entrance test in Ateneo de Naga University High School and one of the top ten in the scholarship exam given by the said school. That is 75% discount in my tuition fees. What a luck day it was!

It was Sunday morning when my scholarship in the PSHS was confirmed when I read from Philippine Daily Inquirer the list of qualifiers.

Where will I go? I am confused where to…my relatives said I should enroll in PSHS main campus in Diliman but can I really stay away from them?

God help me…but I am really confused.

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Unforgettable Vacation

Gian Carlo 
10 years old

It was a wonderful feeling to visit the land of milk and honey…America.

My vacation in the US was fun and full of adventure. We traveled as family and we stayed in a magnificent hotel in Los Angeles.

In our first night, my mother told me to sleep early because our first tour will be in Disneyland. I couldn’t sleep feeling excited for the next day. We woke up early and rode shuttle bus to Disneyland. There, I enjoyed almost all the rides and treasured every minute of it. My favorites were Pirates of the Caribbean and roller coaster. They were the greatest rides of my life.

Our next stop was downtown L.A., Hollywood and Universal Studio. Universal Studio is an amazing place. There, I watched 4D Shrek movie where it seems like I was also inside the screen. I also saw Julia Roberts inside a limousine and she waved her hand at me.

Our trip will not be complete without visiting other tourist spots like Solveng, Danish Village, a place that exactly looks like Denmark because of the buildings, structure of the houses and windmills in the fields. Yosemite park was a very cold park where I saw cascading waterfalls and got to feed exotic kinds of birds surrounded with colorful flowers. We stayed overnight in a travelodge.

The following day we left for a tour in Hearst castle, a castle used to be run by a rich businessman. It was built on top of a hill. My parents seemed to like it but for me it looked like haunted.

Our next destination was San Francisco. It was such an adorable city. We went to Pier 39 and watched marine animals in the aquarium of the bay. I enjoyed it so much because I was able to touch some of the aquatic animals like baby sharks and star fingers. I also had my face painted like a snake. It was really fun that I didn’t want anymore my face to be washed.

That night, we just had a warm bath and immediately we fixed our things because my uncle was coming to pick us up. The rest of our vacation will be with the relatives.

The days spent with my cousins were also very memorable. They introduced me to their American friends and playmates. We went biking, playing basketball and computers.

We also traveled to Nevada and Lake Tahoe. It was such a great place because it was there that I experienced snow for the first time. We ski all day, made snowman and played snow fight.

When I saw my mom and dad one morning packing our things, I knew my vacation was over. I felt sad because I will surely miss everything in America. However, thinking about my schoolmates, friends and relatives left in the Philippines made me realized that I missed home.

That vacation was also a learning experience for me. It helped me become independent with the absence of my yaya. It also motivated me to study well and finish my studies so that one day, I will have another chance to work and start my life in the land of milk and honey.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Teacher's Lone Heart

“God showered the gift of teaching to people like you for He knew that in your heart lies passion for work and mostly love for children whose future depends in our hands…Happy Catholic Teachers’ Day”

I stared incredulously at my cell phone as it rang endlessly with messages as soon as I went out of the cold sterile room for my laboratory tests this morning. Then, I was consumed with paroxysm of unfathomable loneliness as I read the first message from our assistant principal. I heaved sighs of gloominess as I remember…

The deafening sound of band echoed in the whole campus…a giant banner was hung on the building announcing that special day…all bulletin boards were decorated with posters of meaningful drawings…and beaming faces of little kids welcomed each teacher as they gave flowers, chocolates, gifts and balloons. It’s the Catholic Teachers’ Day, the most special day in the life of every educator.

During the program, I was given a number of awards for being punctual, winning coach, success in implementing Speak English Drive, Discipline and Cleanliness. 

More than the awards I received were the hugs and smiles my children showered me which inflated my heart with pride. The little voices of children as they serenaded us with evocative melody of songs brimmed our eyes with tears of happiness. The poems interpreted…the letters given…the messages read…the corsage pinned…the dances presented…those are the real gifts.

It’s our day…a time to relish the fruit of hard labor…a time to lose ourselves and laze around in enjoyment with our kids without worrying about rules…a time to love our pupils and for them to affirm their educator’s efforts that no monetary compensation could equal. 

More than the gifts and bountiful flowers that filled my table at the end of the day was the contentment that embraced my heart knowing I made a difference in the lives of the children who’ll be the future of our country. 

It’s indeed a special day…one that would live in my heart forever.

Now more than ever I’ve felt that I truly miss teaching. It’s my life for many years. I’m thankful that even if I’m not there in school to join the festivity, many remembered to greet me. It surely eased that awful despondency I’ve felt remembering that it’s my special day…away from home.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Why Do We Need to Suffer?

Not long ago, I made a vow never to post in my blogs when I’m too overwhelmed with emotions. Writing has been therapeutic for me but it made me regret later what I posted especially knowing that others have been affected with what I wrote.

So right after my check-up yesterday, I sat in front of the computer and expressed my fury with all the pains I went through. I’ve finished about five pages and decided not to post it but somehow it just made me feel worse. I wanted to shout to the whole world that it’s just so unfair.

Remembering my promise not to be swayed away by emotions, I wrote instead about the love story of my college best friend. It brought me to the realm of lovers surrounded with beautiful flowers away from the feeling of desolation. Then after that I seek comfort by falling in a deep slumber.

A day after it seems that I still feel the same way, worn out emotionally. Looking at the purplish bruise on my left arm while taking a shower made me feel awful again especially knowing that by next week I’ll have more. Why me? (Deep breaths)

I’m thankful though that I was given my family and friends who always make me feel better.

I didn’t post what I wrote yesterday but doing this now sort of lessens my yoke. Mend my broken spirit oh, please…

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My Best Friend's Wedding

“The unification of two entities, a testimony of love searching and founding fervent and enduring vow, aptly described their togetherness. Exchanging of words is not sufficient but nonetheless describe the deep memoirs of what will be their guide- the fulfillment of their immortal pledge.

We are gathered here as Dick and Shiela’s well- wishers and witnesses to their vows of fidelity as newly wed couple, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a home and a family. Now, bound together by the Sacrament of Matrimony…”

As my voice reverberated in the classy reception area adorned with beautiful flowers, the handsome couple walked down the aisle holding hands. The bride was dressed in elegant white dress and pure bliss etched on her face as her eyes locked with the man she loves. The groom epitomized the aura of a man deeply in love. His beaming face radiates what the words cannot describe. Shiela and Dick- after eight long years of relationship finally decided to enter everlasting togetherness.

Theirs was a love story polished by past and fashioned for the future. Dick, outgoing by nature and Shiela, a homebody- there again that old cliché’, “Opposite poles attract”. The former loves to joke around while the latter prefers silence. Oh, they both have passion in music- Dick is good in dancing (top secret what kind of dancing) while Shiela is good in singing.

They shared an amazing story of togetherness. Dick sort of “seized” his wife- to-be eight years ago during a ride in a motorcycle from a common friend’s house. He threatened her that if she won’t give the sweet “yes”, he won’t look at the road while driving. They ended up as lovely duo afterwards.

The two didn’t have an easy relationship. They started at a young age and maturity was far from expected. They have their own share of storms which almost separated them and destroy their relationship irreparably.

There was that usual jealousy and silly situations where they thought they would call it quits. Love says otherwise for them. Their devotion with each other rooted from trust that emanates from lessons in everything they went through.

When Shie worked out of town, they decided to call it off. It was almost a year of separation that she thought she finally fell out of love from him. However, fate has played another favorite in this couple’s love story.

There's been so many times I've let you down,
and so many times I've played around,
I tell you now, they don't mean a thing.
 Every place I go, I'll think of you,
 Every song I sing, I'll sing for you,
 When I come back, I'll bring your wedding ring.

Distance separated them again but it didn’t stop their love to grow deeply and this time more developed. Dick brought the wedding ring to his beloved Shiela when he arrived from Korea with a vow to love her forever.

Dick: “I thank God for bringing you into my life. I choose you this day as my wife, my love and my best friend. I commit myself to you openly, exclusively and eternally. I promise you my unconditional love. I give you my unwavering trust and I share with you all the days of my life”

Shiela: “I accept you as the one God has chosen to complete me. I join you now to share all that life may bring. I will be yours through weakness and strength, through sorrow and joy, through failure and triumph. I give my love to you alone with all my heart and mind, now, forever and always."

As the newly wed couple set a festive mood for the prosperity dance, their bodies moved together in perfect unison. Two hearts, entwined souls…

(Irmi Shiela or Che Che as I call her was my college best friend. We shared not only a room together back our younger years but dreams as well. Those were the times that the world we know was only school and apartment, where companion was only books, and where happiness was only our foolish jokes. We have completely a different life now but the friendship remains. When she told me that she was finally getting married and she wanted me to be the emcee of the wedding reception, I couldn’t contain my excitement. After all, the reality of her dream was what we’ve shared years ago- back in our small room where we have woven miniature aspirations together.)

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Jellyfish Sting Almost Killed My Sister

I woke up with a shrill of yell that penetrated the depth of night. My eyes riveted in the darkness that swathed me. But, no…it was more than that…the cry was familiar…I chilled when I heard it again. I wasn’t dreaming…

It was almost the end of summer when my former classmates in elementary agreed to spend an overnight swimming in a nearby town’s beach resort. Most of them were in their last days of vacation and about to be back in Manila for their studies.

I had that deep resolution not to join them since the following day I needed to go to the city for the final procedure of enrolment. My parents were quite adamant also to give their permission because when we had night swimming for my sister’s birthday, I arrived home burning with fever.

After several “conscience pleadings” from my friends and prodding from my sister, Angel, I’ve finally relented. After all, I could opt not just to join them in swimming.

My best friend in elementary and I chatted endlessly walking barefooted along the shore while others enjoyed swimming immediately. Not long after, when she decided to join the rest of the group in the water, I fell in a deep doze in the cottage.

It was supposedly a nice clean outing by close friends but turned out into a nightmare.

I was trembling when I scrambled on my feet trying to figure out where the sound came from. Then, I saw a friend running while shouting my name. She told me that my sister got entangled with a jelly (famous for the name salabay)- a killer jelly we found out later.

I saw the whole group pouring her water trying to remove some tentacles that perforated her skin. She was screaming the whole time and fainted several times. We immediately brought her to the nearest hospital not having any first aid to help her.

When we reached the hospital, she was still unconscious and her arms were swollen as if painted with red ugly lines. Her legs were not spared too.

Time occurred in a haze. When we finally reached home, my sister was writhing with fever. Her arms were still swollen. My friends courageously explained to my furious parents what happened while I was in shock the whole time.

My sister cried non stop and she was immediately brought again to the hospital to be confined. She stayed in the local hospital for about two days but her condition only got worse. She had on and off fever and her blood pressure was fluctuating.

It was the second night when my parents were warned my sister could not make it. We brought her to the city hospital in an ambulance and that was the longest journey of my life. She was given 24 hours to live.

It was an agonizing moment waiting for her to be out of that ordeal. The doctors said they have not treated yet any case like that. Though she was always in pain killers, it didn’t ease the pain she was going through. She was in and out of consciousness.

Angel survived that traumatic accident. However, the tentacles left permanent scars in several parts of her body. Her skin was severely damaged and until now the ugly red blemishes are still visible.

Up to this day, it’s still a big puzzle why I wasn’t with the group in the water when it happened. Some of them also had scars because of the tentacles though not so severe. Was my being a loner spared me from that incident?

Every summer after that, my friends and I reminisced that experience with disbelief in our faces. Oh, we did learn our lesson. We never had another swimming in the beach again…only in a pool.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

On Eagle's Wings

"You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
 Who abide in His shadow for life,
 Say to the Lord, "My Refuge,
 My Rock in Whom I trust."

The plight in the journey of happiness could be the toughest in one’s soul. In the course of a voyage are harrowing experiences that could sometimes sluggish your steps…

"And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
 Bear you on the breath of dawn,
 Make you to shine like the sun,
 And hold you in the palm of His Hand."

There, you would find yourself face to face with questions that enough to sag your shoulders and say, “Okay, I’m tired…come what may”.

The snare of the fowler will never capture you, 
And famine will bring you no fear;
 Under His Wings your refuge,
 His faithfulness your shield.

Then, you’ll be plagued relentlessly with questions, what is happiness? Is it following your teachers and doing your tasks conscientiously? Being a dutiful daughter and sister? Enslaving body and mind to be a loyal and devoted worker? Living in a way others would be pleased? Building your way towards success?

Giving up a part of your heart so others may live gladly? Getting sick to experience pain and strengthen the will? Putting up a fight or making a sacrifice?

"You need not fear the terror of the night,
 Nor the arrow that flies by day, 
Though thousands fall about you,
 Near you it shall not come."

At the end, you find yourself in the midst of a blind alley. You have nowhere to go except to hide from the shelter of your safe haven. This you realized with the pang of pain that continue to haunt you.

"For to His Angels He's given a command,
 To guard you in all of your ways,
 Upon their hands they will bear you up,
 Lest you dash your foot against a stone."

A nurse once told me before an injection, “Ma’am this will sting a bit. Please close your palm.” I had that disbelief look on my face remembering the countless times I’ve been in the same scenario.

“Don’t worry, I know exactly the feeling”. She smiled and quipped, “Yes, but one never got used to the sting once the needle pricks your skin”. In a way she was right. But as I keep on saying, physical pain is transitory. After the purplish bruise is gone, the pain faded already also. The deeper wounds however, remain forever sometimes. The scar permanently damaged not only the heart but also the soul.

And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
 Bear you on the breath of dawn,
 Make you to shine like the sun,
 And hold you in the palm of His Hand.
 And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

How can you let go of something you want so badly but you never had? I guess it’s one kind of a scar that will never fade away. A question that can never be answered…but let the wings of an eagle carry the cries. It’ll be difficult to bear the burden of not knowing the answer.

After all, at the end of a journey is always happiness never a disappointment. Keep going. The end of the dark tunnel is near…

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cinnamon Roll Recipe

It's cold and looks like we're in again for a very chilly week. This weather lulls me into dreaming of bread...bread...and bread...oh, newly-baked bread.

The aroma filled me with that homey feeling enough to make my stomach crumbles and my craving to eat hot, sweet and soft fresh from the oven bread hyped-up.

In short, I'm talking about cinnamon roll. My own recipe of course! So here it special cinnamon roll...

2 cups all- purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
cinnamon ground
1/3 cup margarine/butter
3 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp. water

1. Preheat oven.
2. Combine water, oil, yeast and 1/2 cup flour (with baking powder). Set it aside.
3. If it rises up already, make a dough by adding the salt and the remaining flour until it's hard enough for patting.
4. Turn dough into a floured surface then using a roll spin flatten them. Put margarine, sugar and cinnamon on the surface.
5. Then roll them and cut into round slices.
6. Put margarine, sugar and cinnamon in the pan before placing the cut dough.
7. Baked for about an hour or until the dough has risen.

*In cutting the dough, you may use a thick thread. Wrap it around the rolled dough. It looks better that way.
*Use spatula in spreading the margarine, sugar and cinnamon to make them even in the dough.
*Make sure to transfer the roll from a pan while it's still hot.

Best served when hot. Believe me, the whiff of sweet cinnamon will make your mouth watery.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

In The World of Animals

UFO in Texas? Watching Larry King live made me check twice if I'm still in my own planet. It seems things going on for the past few days are just too bizarre for my brain to munch it.

Why not? Just almost a week ago, I've been watching in TV a special feature of a dog counting (answering addition and multiplication actually) and turning on and off lights, mice raising flag accompanied by the Philippine National Anthem, and a pig playing basketball!

Yeah! I saw them all with my own eyes. So, what separates now human beings from animals? It seems that they have this "memory" also right in their tiny brain. Cool!

I should have tried to teach my three dogs back in Naga with these tricks. Oh, they did learn something from me. I would place coins in the pocket of my clothes and I would intentionally let them roll on the floor while changing. Bogart (the eldest dog) would choose five peso coins and using his paw return them back to where I was standing. It became our daily routine and what a lot of fun watching him chase the coins and return them back to me.

Animals are actually very sensitive also to feelings of the ones taking care of them. Every time I would get sick, I usually fell asleep dead tired on the bed and woke up with the two dogs on the floor with sad faces while sighing and the closest to me, Bogart, would kiss my toes. Then he would put his head on my feet caressing as if offering comfort.

Sad to say, they are fierce dogs because they don't go out of the house. Nobody can go near them except me and Ma. It's amazing how they can alter their mood whenever there are visitors at home.

From that ferocious look ready to kill to that utter surrender with me while we roll playing on the floor. They love sleeping in air-conditioned room also and they hate veggies. They don't like left-over foods either. I miss them now.

It's a regret I have to end this blog in a sad note. The world of animals is also the most commonly abused. We destroy their habitat and robbed them with their rights to live in this planet.

Just tonight, animals have been featured again...not those who make tricks but 29 cats massacred in a well-known village. You've read it right; these cats were brutally killed by gun shots in the head. The murderer made sure they won't be alive. To ease some who remain alive from sufferings they were given injection to let them go with less pain.

Who would think of ending the lives of those innocent cats? Only a human being with a brain and heart smaller than animals. May those cats haunt him forever!

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Kill the News!

Corruption, terrorism, inflation, accident, massacre, squatter’s demolition, salvage, shoot out, robbery, and to top it all- destabilization. This comprises 99% of the news being aired live everyday and being watched by people of all ages- including children.

I couldn't help but to wonder though, are we really that deep in the dirt already that these giant networks could not find anymore positive news to broadcast?

News means negative stories. That's the new definition I could think of. Does it mean that most people enjoy watching messy Philippines? Well, if they aren't how come their ratings just keep on going up?

The fire in the journalists' face was very evident brought by the adrenaline coursing through their body while telling stories of horrible deaths, hundreds left homeless, millions in the pockets of the politicians, bleak economy, and robbery of power.

Balance news means 10% each of the above mentioned favorite source of news stories. Is this the world I've trained for my young journalists? Too bad.

In addition, advertisements mean airing back and forth accusations against each other with the two giant networks...what else? Cheating!

Great! Another excellent news idea. Now, I can give 5 % for this and maybe deduct 5 % from shootout and that makes it 100% bunch of filth. Now, they can already insert the news about the endless cases they've filed against each other.

Gone is the lyrics of the song "What a Wonderful World"...

"The colors of the pretty the sky

Are there on the faces.... of people...going by

I see friends shaking hands.... sayin… how do you do

They're really sayin...*spoken*(

I hear babies cry... I watch them grow
*spoken*(you know they’re gonna learn

A whole lot more than I'll never know)

And I think to myself ...what a wonderful world."

Louis Armstrong's song was "murdered" by these networks...bad news!

I made a promise tonight...I will never watch news again. I don't like to feed myself with lies, deceit and dirt before my dinner. Kind of hard to digest in the stomach...

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Little Tom (Story of My Student)

Remembering the time that I spent teaching in an exclusive Catholic school for boys filled my heart with nostalgia. Everyday I spent with my pupils had something special that made me smile whenever I think about it.

I had my share with frustrations too but most of the days were spent laughing and learning with my young gentlemen. Moments I had with them are comparable to thousand unique stories.

Contrary to common belief, teachers are not the only ones who impart knowledge to their pupils. Most of the times, these children left a mark to the lives of their educators that makes them stronger, knowledgeable and wiser as they get older in their profession.

Tom was one of those pupils who had an impact in my life. He was my pupil last year and he has something with him that made me beam with joy whenever he crossed my mind.

Tom is a son of a doctor and grew up in a well-off family. He's witty and has a sense of humor. He could make me burst out laughing out in a blue with innocent ideas he would utter.

At the end of my morning classes, I would usually end up sitting so tired in front of the classroom while watching them clean. Long before his classmates were gone to eat their lunch, he would remain in the room checking the chairs if they're properly aligned and if the floor was shiny already.

It was funny watching him scrutinizing every part of the classroom. I would often ask him to go home already but he would tell me, "Wait Teacher..." or other times, "Later Teacher...".

He never got tired doing that routine every single day. I would just shake my head in disbelief that Tom grew up with a helper yet he was doing chores that other pupils would normally complain.

Another admirable quality of Tom was sharing whatever he had. He's one of the most generous boys in the class and sacrificed his allowance many times to give more for the Mission Fund Drive which was a big help for priests and missionaries being sent in far-flung places.

Tom was also a very sweet boy. Whenever I would be in a bad mood because of some classroom violations, he would look at me with that alluring eyes enough to melt my heart. It was a silent appeal to forgive them and of course I would end up with that smile again on my face.

More than these qualities that made that boy special was the concern he showed me many times when I got sick. He would ask me endlessly what happened to me and why I wasn't around for several days.

Furthermore, whenever his classmates would do some naughty things and I was reprimanding them he would just shake his head looking disappointingly to the "culprit".

Tom had endless questions about many things. Perhaps it could be attributed to the fact that he's fond of reading (Hardy Boys and Harry Potter fanatic) so he had always that thirst to find out something new. He's fluent too in English and could talk to me without batting an eyelash.

It's a regret though I couldn't make it when he invited me to be his godmother in their confirmation.

Oh, did I mention about his special skill? He can read words backward! Yeah, he could do it so fast I guess he deserved to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records, right Tom? Who knows this story might be the starting point of you being famous? The Little Backward Reader...

Keep that good heart and innocent smile Tom!

(Tom, thanks for lazy afternoon chatting wherein you amused me many times with latest stories about your classmates. It somehow helped me eased that feeling of terrible loneliness for the first few months I wasn't teaching. I did promise to make you a story, right? So, here it is. Tell your classmates not to be jealous. They'll be the next. Good luck to high school life!)

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Things Most People Don't Know About Sacrifices of OFW

The beauty of sacrifice lies with the purity of intention...

Take for instance an innocent little girl who shared her food to a beggar, a mother who gave up her career to take care of the kids, a father who worked hard to provide a decent living for a family...when they gave up something, they listened to what their hearts were saying.

Perhaps one of the most ignored sacrifice was that made of OFW's. or the Overseas Filipino Workers. For they did not only leave their family and friends behind but they also lost a big part of themselves.

In exchange of material things are usually pain with many obstacles that they need to surpass in order to provide the needs of their families. They staggered to get through hindrances alone and far from the comfort of their love ones.

More than the emotional setbacks that usually come with settling jobs abroad are endless problems that seem to continuously obstruct the bright future they promised to their family.

A mother or a father would often go home after years of hard work with strange children. After giving the latest model of cell phones, computer, playstation and other material things, the kids would disappointingly say, "They are not enough..."

Some do not only lose love but life as well. Their family welcome in the airport lifeless body and fallen dreams or at times it would be the other way around. They would come home only to find out that they do not get a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.

A teacher who decided to chase greener pasture in a foreign land ended up staring out of the windows of the classroom with tears in her eyes amidst the curious stares of her pupils. A nurse whose baby she left behind under the care of a stranger would be filled with unbearable sadness after hours of taking care of people she doesn't even know. A helper would often end her day weary with whole day's work but mind is back home thousand miles away...and many more excruciating pain experienced by what we call in our country "modern day heroes".

Most of the times, dreams turned into nightmares when family fall apart because of distance. Years of sacrifice ended up horribly- broken family, goals shattered.

Definitely, one of the most agonizing situation would that be coming face to face with accusations from your own family that you're not "helping enough." Or worst when your own family do not even find ways to appreciate your efforts. It hurts more than what they say.

Undeniably, OFW's tend to answer most of the financial needs of the family. They pay long list of bills one could ever imagined. In addition to that, the family get to enjoy material things which are fruit of hard labor.

However, the beauty of sacrifice made by the Philippines' modern day heroes are not just providing financially but that selfless aspiration to provide the best future for their family.

Notwithstanding the trials and tribulations that block their ways, they continue to work to uplift the life of the people who are very important in their lives- yet at times ignored that selfless sacrifice.

We call them our modern day heroes, but among all the heroes theirs is the hardest sacrifice- that big part of their hearts repeatedly wounded with sorrows by the family they left behind.

With the absence of the warmth of embrace from their love ones, they sleep with tears in their eyes...unappreciated, broken hearted, many times do they need to experience sorrow?

Theirs is the ultimate sacrifice of love. Don't they deserve the same love too?


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