Friday, February 29, 2008

Garden Photos

Interfaith Rally on the Go

Early this morning, I readied myself for my check up in Manila. However, the morning news showed that some roads were closed and classes were suspended in anticipation for the big protest set today against the Arroyo administration.

Since I was not in shape to face today’s adversity, I opted to cancel my doctor’s appointment and decided instead to just take a rest.

Clad in long shirt, pajamas and socks, I was on bed the whole day wrapped with comforter still burning with on and off fever. But, as usual it didn’t stop me from updating myself with what’s happening in Manila. With my inhaler stuff in my nose, I’ve kept myself posted with events that might overthrow the current government by watching TV.

I was amazed with the throng of protesters marching in the streets. It seems that Filipinos are about to make another history of People Power 3. Thousands joined and though the police tried to put barricades in some roads it didn’t stop the group to multiply in number.

Most of those present are youth shouting for truth. They walked out from their schools which did not suspend classes. Former presidents Cory Aquino and Joseph Estrada also participated in the said mass actions.

The different groups converge in Ninoy Aquino monument. I wonder why not in Edsa which was a historical place where peaceful revolution was held that toppled two administrations- Marcos and Estrada.

The Arroyo government is in big dilemma because of controversies that surround the China ZTE Broadband Deal. It was later on worsened with Jun Lozada’s expose’ about bribery and corruption involving the first couple and other top government officials.

Last February 19, MalacaƱang palace held the Unity Walk participated in by cabinet officials to show their support to the Arroyo administration. It was sort of affirmation that the members of the president’s government remain loyal to her.

The search for truth and accountability continues. With all the things going on now, it makes me wonder if the president will make it this time. She has been through a lot of controversies since she took over the office from the ousted former president Estrada.

From the legitimacy of her presidency to alleged cheating in election and now this issue involving her and the first seems that her hands are full catching stones being thrown by oppositions.

Like a wounded animal, the fiercer she becomes. Having been called “evil” by Neri and “bitch” by a congressman, she remains tough in her speeches. The air of authority remains and there is that silent confidence as if saying, “This too shall pass”.

If only the witnesses are not being backed up by people who are against the government and really clean morally (Lozada can not answer if indeed he has another family), maybe I’ll be joining too in the street. But, one must not judge easily for those who cast stones are obviously sinners as well.

I pray for my country not to anybody else hoping this too she would survive.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sick, Tired, and Depressed

I am sick…yeah, right. I got infected with bugs.

My throat hurts, my eyes are red and watery, my feet are cold and clammy and practically all the cells of my body are throbbing with pain.

By mid- afternoon yesterday, my fever was 39.5 degree Celsius that I felt like my skin was being pierced with hot needles. I was reminded of the exact feelings I had right after my surgery last June. When another bag of blood for transfusion was attached to one of my IV’s, I felt like the pain skyrocketed when my fever broke to 40 degree Celsius.

It was a long battle with countless injections for skin tests and later on being administered with antibiotics thru endless needle pricks. I was shaking uncontrollably that I thought it would be my end already. Well, thankfully I survived.

My only consolation yesterday was I didn’t go through the same torment with endless shots from nurses and doctors. I wrapped myself with double comforter and took lots of fluids to help my aching throat then finally I drifted off to sleep.

The fever was on and off that I succumbed again to self- pitying.

After sleeping for almost the whole afternoon, I woke up still feeling worst. My eyes were so red that I got scared staring at them. The power of the almighty bugs…

When the girls arrived from school, I could hardly talk because my voice sounded like a croaking crow. Yeah, that bad.

I opted to stay in the room and ate there my dinner. Well, I could hardly swallow the food. Everything tasted like medicine…and I abhor it because it has been my companion for many months now.

My whole system crumbled that it feels like I’m falling again in a shady crater of pain and agony. So bad…

Like a good patient that I am, I avoided computer for as long as I could so as not to cause too much strain with my red eyes. I was able to bear ignoring the computer only the whole day yesterday and last night. That explains why I wasn't able to write anything for the blog.

However, it seems like the lure of computer is so strong that here I am again hitting the keyboard with all my might.

I missed Friendster, Blogspot, Bloglogs, Infowars, and other sites. So, I’m trying another medication now…the “drugnet” of the cyberspace. Maybe it’ll do the magic of healing.

Kidding aside, the past days felt like a horrible nightmare. My whole body was aching and in deep longing to be healed. In addition, the purplish bruise on my arm which was the result of regular laboratory tests the other day was also shouting for my attention.

I squirted fountain of virus all over the room by endless sneezing. So you could just imagine how painful my throat was with the efforts I needed to exert in spraying the power of the bugs. They owe me a lot for this.

Getting sick usually brings me this unspeakable desperation for being indisposed. I loathe the feeling of being unproductive…not that I am really prolific now. After all, I’ve been out of work for many months already after getting seriously ill early last year.

I hope the reign of the bugs won’t last for long. I can only sustain their clout for a short time. They didn’t give me a notice before invading my body…

Just like everything that happened in my life, this illness is beyond my control. It only proves that I am human…I can’t tell what will happen next in my future.

Let it be…the sun will shine soon and bath me with a new dawn of a healthy life. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How a Six-Year-Old Dealt with Pain

My six-year-old niece was grief-stricken…

It was barely two weeks since I last saw her weeping like it’s already the end of Cartoon Network. That’s the time that she was nursing a broken heart because of breaking up with her puppy love, six-year-old Kurt.

It took me one hour in the church before I finished explaining everything she needed to know about love and relationship. By the end of the mass that fateful Sunday, we agreed that she’ll have her next boyfriend at the age of 30.

Last night, another pivotal event happened in her life. You see, she lost something very significant. So special that the dam of tears burst out until such time I feared that the entire house might be flooded already.

She lost for the second time her front tooth. Have a glimpse… 

Her agony started around 3 p.m. in the afternoon after eating her favorite chocolates. The tooth dangled loose but she wouldn’t let anybody touch it. Finally by dinner time, her precious tooth gave up and was detached permanently.

She was sobbing frenziedly and mumbling incoherently while wrapping her dear tooth in a paper. For a very long time she was in grave mourning that I didn’t know how to console her sorrowful heart.

Finally, she fell asleep with tears trickling down her cheeks. I thought she’ll wake up feeling much better but I was wrong. 

She woke up hunting for her tooth which unfortunately was incidentally thrown out by the helper. The dam of tears opened up again until such time her mom called in the phone to listen to her endless rambling of the pitiful tooth.

Later on, I needed to use my stock knowledge of convincing power in persuading her to go to school with the missing tooth in front. Shayne wasn’t much of a help. She made the matter worst with nonstop teases by making funny faces.

When she arrived this afternoon, she was the same Trisha. Laughing uproariously and dancing wildly while imitating the Kung Fu kids in the TV. 

As I pondered this evening what happened to Trisha, I couldn’t help but to wonder how many of us suffered like her because of losing something very dear in our heart.

For her, the only outlet of pain she knows is crying. As we grow old, we look up at crying as a sign of weakness not of healing.

After long bawling, Trisha ended up relieved with anguish. For grown ups, we seldom lose something without being painfully scarred. Could it be because we have a tendency to forget that everything is ephemeral? Nothing lasts forever… only change remains the same.

How I wish that each one of us would be left with some child like credence in our hearts…that stance where we can let go after one last cry…

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Shayne Vs Trisha

On the left corner wearing white bugs bunny shirt and shorts, I.Q. 1000 (I just guessed coz she talks and reasons out like a 60 year-old woman and she’s the only six-year-old girl I know who can spell words with closed eyes, watches CNN news and very interested in politics), the next president of the Philippines, smart aleck number one…Trisha.

On the right corner wearing pink blouse and tight leggings, computer and IPOD addict, certified “friends” with her countless contact in Friendster, Toni Gonzaga fanatic, the next top model in town, smart aleck number two…Shayne.

Yesterday was such a long day for me. I mean really looooooong. Why? It was the Bugs’ Day.

The two kids bugged me the whole day and drove me on the verge of insanity with their bantering of words, sticking out of tongues and endless squabbles.

With their running nose because of bad cough and colds, the two brawled like cat and dog. Now, could it be because they were being attacked with cold bugs that made them uncontrollable yesterday?

I really have no idea but I knew that I was about to strangle them with my bare hands many times. I implored all the help of the countless saints I knew by begging for their mercy to grant me the endurance I needed to last the day.

Trisha pestered Shayne with her funny faces and her roaring laughter. Shayne on the other hand irritated Trisha by teasing her with her missing front tooth. Both good in annoying each other with anything (and I mean everything) that they could think of just for the sake of making each other ill-tempered.

Ending? Each one would come to me asking me to reprimand whoever.

The time to hear mass finally came (Thank God!). The two excitedly prepared and dressed while making fun with each other.

In the church, I was expecting them to be quiet just like they usually do whenever we hear mass. However, it wasn’t the end yet of my misery.

I was in between of them but they would glance at each other to make funny faces. Shayne would make fun of Trisha’s hair while Trisha would imitate the odd way Shayne sits. They would mumble incorrigible words still irking each other.

In addition, Trisha would look around the church looking for her ex- boyfriend. (She’s the only kid that I only know too who had a boyfriend at six and broken hearted after a week.)

As the mass came to an end, the bugs’ adrenaline finally wears off. Shayne's head was on my right shoulder while Trisha’s was on my left.

Finally, my angels were back…(sighs)

How did I survive? Simple…thousands of inhales and exhales. The result? Long tolerance. After all, patience is a virtue.

(Note: Shayne and Trisha are both my nieces entrusted under my care by their parents)

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Top Secrets Revealed

A friend recently asked me, “If you are not a teacher now, what do you think will be your profession?”

Now, it transported me into the world of deep musings…

Teaching was not my ambition in life. I always wanted to be a lawyer but got discouraged many times because as one of my sisters candidly put it, I’ll never win a case since I never won an argument with her.

So, how did I become a teacher?

Turning back my gaze to the past, I remember that I toyed with the idea of becoming a dancer… don’t react too soon.

I was in third grade when I was chosen to be one of the dancers in a number presented during the closing ceremony of the school year. I thought I was good enough in dancing only to find out later that my father talked to our teacher to include me if my sister would also be included to avoid sibling rivalry.

Well, had I known then I won’t be on stage making a fool of myself. My classmates told me though that I wasn’t really that bad, thanks for that.

That experience was never repeated except occasional field demonstration where everybody was required to dance and of course when I started teaching.

It might be hard to admit but finally after many years of dreaming I have accepted that dancing wasn’t just really for me considering my stiff body movement. (More of like a robot)

What about singing? Well, I did dream of being a singer too. But then again, I have observed that dogs started howling whenever I open my mouth to sing. Am I that bad really? It’s hard to tell because I became a member of the choir when I was in elementary and even competed when I was in high school.

We even won outside of school competitions. But, to be honest it was only that I didn’t open much my mouth so as not to let my teachers hear my voice because I wanted so bad to be part of the group. Luckily, the choir mentor in high school didn’t make a big fuss out of it because I was one of the top in class and I needed badly co-curricular activities.

My career in singing ended right there and then in high school. My colleagues cajoled and prodded me many times to sing during programs but I was old enough to realize that singing was not just really for me.

It’s that public speaking which I have tried since elementary that always popped out every now and then. I won a number of awards and even became a member of the college debate team.

However, even that I feel like I was not good enough. My confident is very strong when I don’t know the crowd but it dies out the moment I talk with familiar crowd.

So, I followed my sister’s advice to take up education with the hope of pursuing further education in law after I graduate.

Conversely, I enjoyed too much teaching that I have totally forgotten taking up degree in law. I’m thankful though. I know that it’s not meant for me and it wasn’t my calling.

My past experiences molded me to what I am now. I can’t dance but I can supervise practices of my pupils in dancing. I can’t sing but I can sing enough to amuse them during classroom discussion. I can’t argue but I can explain things enough for my pupils to understand daily lessons.

You see, it doesn’t really matter what my dreams were before. What matters now is that I have found my right calling. Oh, I forgot…I was never good in writing. I never won a single award back when I was still studying and it was my greatest frustration.

The path I have trekked maybe brought me where am I now because I no longer remain frustrated. I never won an award so that I would push through to be better. I didn’t become a great writer but I did become a winning coach of great writers.

Need I say more? I have found my perfect profession. Maybe I won’t be a teacher forever but I know that I would forever be thankful that once in my life I became one… 

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How People Power Changed Me

I was six years old when I first heard the word people power, too young to fully grasp what it means but the memories poignant that I can still vividly remember.

I knew that it was the day liberty was given back to the people after suffering for a long time from the hands of tyrannical Marcos regime wherein martial law was implemented.

It was in a news magazine, Reporter, which I first saw the pictures of Edsa People Power 1 that toppled the oppressive government of Marcos. Former President Cory Aquino was in the front page surrounded by millions of Filipinos.

Men and women including children from all walks of life filled the streets…soldiers and priests holding hands and nuns clasping tightly their rosaries…all marched for truth and freedom…amidst the threat of bullets to silence the truth. It was the time that Filipinos astounded the whole world with the courage to end a cruel administration thru a peaceful revolution.

It also became the inspiration of the second uprising against government’s suppression of the truth. I was in college when for the first time I joined a peaceful revolt in the street. My fervor to be part of the rally was fueled with anger when again the country was tainted with corruption and never-ending list of dirt in the government.

I have monitored closely the impeachment trial then hoping that the truth would come out about the alleged ill- gotten wealth of former President Joseph Estrada. My idealism with regard to the system was ruined when the law makers themselves tried to hide the truth.

The envelope containing the evidences against him was forever sealed when his allies voted not to open it. It was the start of rebellion that ousted him from office. It was a sweet victory knowing that I became part of history which freed Juan Dela Cruz from that kind of leadership.

Many years later, Estrada was arrested and imprisoned (house arrest in a comfortable house) and not long after his life sentence for plunder, he was granted presidential pardon. Now, is that what we call justice? You tell me…

On February 26, the country will commemorate the 22nd anniversary of Edsa People Power 1. A very long time since freedom was reclaimed…

Apparently, with the current situation now of the country, Filipinos are in turmoil again…for the umpteenth times. The administration is facing numerous scandals which many are predicting would be the end of Arroyo government.

As the whole country venerate the time of liberation from the iron hand of Marcos regime, many are plotting the People Power 3. Another revolt to topple the present government…

Freedom and unity has been the main theme of the People Power 1 while healing was given emphasis in the People Power 2. If indeed the plan to overthrow the current regime succeeds, what would be the focus?

Healing, I believe should begin with freedom and unity. With the turmoil we are facing now it’s obvious that we were never healed with the wounds of the past. It continued to haunt us which disintegrates our hope for change.

How then can we make the remnants of the past become the hope of our future? How many revolts more do we need for us to learn? Do we need to have the third people power? Or maybe fourth? Fifth? Endless search for peace and truth…

I am no longer the innocent six-year-old kid during the Edsa People Power 1. I’ve grown and have been a silent witness of how leaders governed the political arena. I am 28 and my idealism was contaminated with corruption, bribery, and countless filth by the system…hope for change is still elusive but my love for my country remains.

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Unwanted Angels

Cradling his tiny body, caressing his soft skin, watching his first step, and singing lullabies as he lays asleep…the profound joy of motherhood.

Every woman’s dream is to have her own progeny- the real essence of being in existence. A small being wrapped in untold elation that enfolds the heart of a mother…

Those innocent smiles enough to lit up a house, the invisible halos that touched the deepest core of a mother’s soul are just some of a woman’s reverie.

Yet, it’s a paradox how an angel could be referred to as “unwanted”. The innocent beings who are supposed to be gifts from above turned out a burden and a dilemma.

I cringe whenever I watch news about babies thrown like a piece of garbage in the trash can. There was this fetus found in the pile of rubbish, a baby left in a corner of a church, a little girl killed by her own father, and other endless stories of cruelty to children.

They are called as “unwanted” when their moms are unwed before birth or when the family is too large that having them means additional mouth to feed. They are unplanned and therefore unwelcome.

Some are lucky enough to finish the ninth month in their mother’s womb. Others are not and lives were taken even before those tiny limbs and hearts developed. Their moan of anguished inside were silence with a piece of instrument.

Their death served as a catalyst of survival for those young mothers who are ill-equipped for “unwanted” babies.

As these people made an evil scheme of ending the innocent life of their own flesh and blood, are they aware that there are souls out there praying and hoping for them to have their own angels yet incapacitated to do so?

It’s ironic that those who can afford and are educated enough to give a good future to their children are also those who are not lucky enough to be given their own gift.

Life is a mystery that one should continue to unravel everyday. There’s a reason and a purpose for everything…

Could it be that a tiny soul is somewhere out there hoping and praying to be saved by a stranger’s maternal heart because his own mother can not do it for him?

As I said it’s a mystery…one that I intend to find out as I continue my journey… 

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Beauty of Suffering

"When agony flood thy soul, look up and let the sun rays cleanse your whole being"

The rain fell in a ceaseless bone- jarring torrent. The deafening sound muffled my weeping as I allowed my grief-stricken heart bled through my tears. I was consumed with deep lamentation as I thought of my future- immediate death or long excruciating death. 

Sorrow, fear, dread, anguish, and blinding pain emotionally and physically rocked my body with helplessness as huge rivulet of tears cascaded on my face. My hope, faith and happiness experienced a grand avalanche.

 I felt so small and vulnerable as I gritted my teeth and clasped my hands to try to hold on. Until finally, I stopped… not because I felt better but because none were left to shed anymore. My heart ached with unfathomable emptiness as I fell in bottomless dark hollow of loneliness...

It was the time I suffered SUFFERING.

Years passed after that fateful afternoon. Due to my weak condition, the road to recovery was long and arduous- almost like a miracle.

Time crept by and slowly; I had recuperated. It’s still a wonder how I survived that ordeal. Staring at my scars brought by my illness filled me with wonder how I made it through the yonder desolate chasm of the cruel storm that beseeched my way.

The blemishes on my body seemed like a badge of valour for the courage that gave me the will to survive. The wound in my heart whence life’s sweetness reside was finally healed.

Suffering is an emotional state accompanied by negative emotions and severe pain. It usually threatens one’s sanity and without justice causes irreparable injury.

A famous Philosopher once said, “Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.”

What is the beauty of suffering?

As for me, the beauty of suffering was affirmed later on after wrestling with gut- wrenching pain good things came my way and finally, I unwrapped the gift of joy.

It was that unexplainable feeling as I woke up each morning suffused with a new dawn of hope. From its vine, the kindling of bliss sprouted.

It was finally falling asleep without fear, filled with faith that when tomorrow comes, I would still be able to feel the scorching heat of the sun on my skin, to touch the mist of the budding flowers, and to look up at the vast horizon of skies.

Character could not be developed without any complexity. Only through occurrence of suffering and experiencing it in full we can be healed. The upturn felt being enfolded like a plaintive song, the source unknown yet the comfort potent.

The most salient message of suffering is when the purpose is finally articulated. When the realization hit that even the gravest of all afflictions has its reason.

I have suffered through long losing streak of endless cruel jokes but the beauty of it finally enfolded my heart. The purpose was finally uttered to me…that with the permanent scars I have endured I will be an inspiration to those who fell but could not find the courage to stand.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Saddest Poem

Inexplicable dejection hugs thy blissful spirit 
Something intense gape a void, it cries out 
A longing? A yearning? A profound hunger? 
My heart was cradled in an empty space. 

A need so immense eyes filled with glumness 
Days become breathless with reminiscences 
Love songs bring sweet tears of wishes 
In dreams, warmth of breath the soul was comforted.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Weather and Politics

The wind was howling the whole day as if there’s a typhoon brewing. There’s not much difference really with the current situation in the political arena of the country. A storm is looming that could either damage or totally wrecked the Arroyo administration.

For the past few days, the news has been dominated with the controversy of the ZTE Broadband deal. Left and right allegations were made by star witness Jun Lozada after his supposedly abduction from the airport.

The scenario now was similar before former President Estrada was finally ousted from the office several years ago. I was still in college back then when protests from all walks of life were organized including that of Religious sectors. It was a havoc that rooted from corruption and greed.

The ZTE Broadband deal has created such a chaos which I’m sure even the president herself did not foresee.

It was months ago when an expose’ was made in the newspaper of the allegedly over priced national broadband deal. Big names of politicians and government officials got messed up including that of the first couple.

Kickbacks, bribery and cover-ups tainted names and even forced Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos to resign and the closest ally of the president, Cong. Jose De Venecia to withdraw his support from the government. His son, Joey De Venecia told the public that the first gentleman threatened him to “back off” from the deal.

It quieted down for a moment but got fueled up again when Jun Lozada emerged after being silent for such a long time shedding some light about the mystery surrounding the said multi-million-dollar deal.

It’s a sobering discovery that Juan Dela Cruz’ hard-earned money will end up paying international debts because of over- priced deals like this. Where is our country heading again?

With mass actions out there in the streets shouting for truth and accountability, what future awaits us?

Investigations are going on in the Senate and Ombudsman and soon DOJ will also launch their own inquiry. But, until when are we going to be besieged with this hullabaloo?

I admire Jun Lozada’s courage to speak of the truth even if it means putting the name of his close friend, Sec. Neri, in trouble. According to him, Neri called the president “evil”. Neri did not deny nor confirm this statement during the press con called by MalacaƱang palace.

Lozada’s sincerity was questioned by some because as they say it seems so theatrical. From the melodramatic entrance in the arena with the aid of brothers and nuns from La Salle and the endless burst of crying for the whole country to see seemed like so unprecedented.

Just something to ponder, how can he afford being a member of the golf club which according to the media the playing rights alone costs 325, 000 already?

Are we going to have the Edsa Power again for the umpteenth times? Is Jun Lozada a real hero or just a pawn of the political war of those in power?

I wish him good luck and may he find the strength to continue this fight. After all, this is not his sole battle but of the whole country seeking for truth and accountability.

A message to all government officials guilty of corruption, moderate your greed. 

Sunday, February 17, 2008

How My Friend Let Go

Goodbye is synonymous to grief. Uttering this word means opening one’s heart to gut-wrenching pain and fountain of tears.

It’s a bit disheartening whenever I hear sad stories of love that did not end in happily ever after. More so when it happens to people close to your heart just like what a friend experienced today…

She has been in a relationship for so many times that I couldn’t remember anymore the names of her boyfriend. The old maxim, “Collect and collect and later on select”, must be her guiding philosophy in life.

Surprisingly, the moment she told me about her latest beau, I knew that she was truly madly deeply in love with him. She said that they were perfect for each other and everything that she wanted in a man was already with him.

However, temptations are tough to fight at times. She went on with her old ways and continued looking for somebody better than him.

Sometimes, in our desperate attempt to look for a perfect someone, we tend to neglect the fact that nobody’s really perfect only the love that binds two souls.

It was too late already when my friend realized this. She lost a grip with her beau’s heart the moment he found out that she wasn’t faithful with him.

What could be more painful than knowing you lost gold because you were too busy collecting stones?

Love is as pure as gold itself. It’s only untainted intention which can enlighten one’s heart about this.

I’m not an expert in love nor in a relationship but I only know one thing, falling in love is like opening your heart to pain and disappointments. But, it’s better to be hurt knowing you gave everything in a relationship than to end up realizing you were the reason why a perfect love was ruined.

Love is a wonderful feeling. It’s like a beautiful song that embraces two souls and touches the deepest core of entwined hearts.

My friend ended up this time the one who’s miserable. I feel sad that her almost perfect relationship to a wonderful man was destroyed with shallow reasons like this.

After all, love is supposed to have endings like those in fairy tale stories- happily ever after.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Continuously Surviving the Storm of My Life

It has been a windy day and though windows were tightly closed cold still seeped through my body. I then seek warmth from the thick comforter on the bed in the cozy room while reading a book.

Later on, my mobile phone beside me caught my attention. It has been quite a while since I checked on it so I decided to delete some messages. What I read in the folders and archives pinched my heart with evocative memories.

I was overwhelmed with messages from people close to my heart since the very day my affliction started because of my illness. They were words of motivation, wisdom and love.

There were moments in my life that I was plagued with thoughts that I was alone in my malady. I was very wrong. Reading those messages made me realized that I have never fought my battle alone.

Family and friends wept and prayed for me. They flooded me with comfort in ways they could. What did I do to deserve overflowing love from them?

Most of the messages still dated back about nine months ago. I was amazed with the transformation- from grief when I first found out I was sick, prayers and encouragement when I was in the hospital, inspiration while I was recuperating, joy as slowly I have surpassed the trials and jubilance as my heart found the answer to all my sufferings.

Soon, I would face another facet of my life…

It has been a long journey but I know that the end is not yet in sight. After all, life is an endless channel of wonderful discoveries, trials and tribulations.

However, before I continue my trek towards the future I would like to remember some of the people who had been special part in my travel especially those who steered me with loving hands while I was in the dark tunnel.

Perhaps, the person who inspired me the most aside from my family was Teacher Charie. She was like a sister who never failed to make me feel better after I finished my laboratory tests.

She would send me long messages explaining that there’s a purpose for everything. She did not hesitate to be with me during the time I was admitted in the hospital for my operation, held my hand and wiped my tears after enduring painful injections and examinations.

She told me that she would be willing to endure the difficulty on my behalf if only it were possible. She and her daughter Pao told me with strong conviction that soon they would see me back in Naga healthy and free from infirmity.

Teacher Alpe, touched me in unimaginable ways. It was with her that I would send long emails explaining in details how my spirit was being torn apart and my hope was collapsing. She wept bitter tears and told me many times to hold on.

Since the day I left school, she never failed to send me messages urging me to be brave and continue fighting. She would update me of school activities to make me feel that I will always be part of the NPS family.

My best friend, Tintin, called me many times saying over and over again, “Kaya mo yan, ika pa”. It was her daughter’s singing voice which cheered me while I was alone outside of the house crying on the night of my birthday that I was told I might die in the OR.

My coordinator, Teacher Tess, assured me that they were storming heaven with prayers for my recovery. It was her message that brought tears to my eyes a day after my surgery telling me she just offered the Sunday mass for me.

Joy, Rica, Shiela, Joanne, Aiz, Jazz, Dolly, Bem, Jannie, Jean, Jinky, Ning, Jun, Jay, Eds, Trece, Mam Fati, Teacher Susan, Teacher Nancy, Teacher Agnes, Teacher Hazel, Teacher Ignas, Nangnang, Sir Mars, Teacher Ditas and the rest of my co teachers and former pupils (specially Krysostom, Marc and Thomas) who all sent me words of comfort, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I have chosen to trail a different path this time but I know that there would always be a special corner in my heart that all of you will occupy. I am very thankful that I became part for many years of the NPS Family where I have experienced many changes.

From that shy young lady fresh from college, I have emerged into a confident woman ready to embark in another step of ladder of success. I know it won’t be easy…but the memories are enough to keep me going…

…away from my second home but memoirs are close to my heart…ad infinitum.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Conspiracy in ZTE Deal

After several days of ignoring the latest controversy that shook the Filipinos, I finally decided to partake with the nerve- wracking and mind- blowing hullabaloos involving Jun Lozada and other bigwigs of the country by watching the Senate hearing aired live today.

It was a long day of debate and heart- rending moments when many times, Lozada was not able to control himself and ended up sobbing uncontrollably for the whole nation to witness.

Jun Lozada is considered as the most crucial witness in the contentious ZTE broadband deal. As Joey De Venecia put it, he can shed light in the mystery surrounding the over-priced 329 million dollar transaction which might place the administration in a hot seat and implicate the first gentleman.

In the course of Senate inquiry, Lozada was said to be sent abroad for government function. However, this created guttural reaction from media and opposition for the obvious reason that he or whoever will be affected with his testimony was just trying to avoid the inevitable.

Last February 5, Lozada arrived from Hongkong as ZTE flares anew and allegedly was abducted by mysterious men. It was his weeping wife and sister appealing to whoever was holding him that created turbulent response from different groups of the country.

How did he go out of the airport without the usual protocol such as passing immigrant officers? Why was he taken without the knowledge of his family? Who ordered those men to take custody of him? These and many more questions plagued the nation as the matter heated up.

It was crying Lozada surrounded by nuns who faced the media several days ago claiming he was taken against his will that added fuel to the anger of the whole nation. He was trembling and pointing accusations to big personalities in the government for detaining him and supposedly convincing him to tell the rest of the country he wasn’t abducted.

If Jun Lozada was to believe, bribery and kickbacks involved high officials in the scrapped National Broadband deal. As usual, if it was pushed through the debt will be paid using the money of pitiful Juan Dela Cruz.

While Jun Lozada was being interrogated, it was as if I was watching the game show, “1 vs. 100”. It was his words without evidence against generals and other high- government officials. I pity the man.

Some Senators made a plea to stop the inquiry because important jobs of the Senate are being affected like passing of some laws. In addition, stock market plunged down and peso weakened because of the threat for umpteenth times in the Arroyo administration.

It makes me wonder though, if ever Lozada is telling the truth how many people like that man I wrote in “The Story of Compassion” are dying while these high officials enjoy their multi- million kickbacks?

After watching the whole day of the Senate hearing, my sister ended up swearing those in government for thriving in power while enjoying the hard- earned money of ordinary people like her.

I tried to avoid watching television or reading news about this for many days for the simple reason that same controversies are just being repeated everyday. The names of those involved changed but the problems are the same- bribery and corruption.

However, I am a Filipino. Any connivance that would affect my country will also affect me. I’m glad their conspiracy screwed up this time. It lessens the debt I need to pay through my tax when I go back working.

Jun Lozada will be in my prayers tonight. May he be strong enough to see this through…Filipinos owe him big time.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Quo Vadis, Young Princess?

Her face was alight with resilience. She carries herself with ease and confidence. The trace of smile on her face illumines faith, happiness, courage and vulnerability…

Shayne, our baby… our young princess…

It was 15 years ago when an angel was given to us. An angel who became the family’s source of joy and hope…

She made us laugh in spite of hard life and lit up our home for many years. An adorable baby many years ago and now a beautiful princess set to launch men’s thousand ships to woo her elusive heart.

Inside that confident demeanor however, I still see the tiny being sent by above on that fateful night of December 5, 1992. The one who gave color to our life and flourish our home with sanguinity.

She was the baby who celebrated her first birthday while a super typhoon was wreaking havoc to the whole country. It was that big grin on her bubbly face while we were about to evacuate in the mayhem that threatened our lives which I would always remember.

We were frantic trying to flee the big flood amidst the painful drops of rain on our skin whilst Shayne, dressed in red jumpsuit and wrapped in cover-all’s was busy dipping her feet in the flood.

She was the toddler who had the trademark in the whole town seated on the shoulders of my brothers with that ever ready smile radiating optimism and happiness as if broadcasting to everybody she owned the whole world.

She was the one who would surprise my father by jumping and hugging him at his back…the girl who would pose incessantly in front of the camera to amuse us with her good shots.

Our chin chin, the one who sings, who dances, and who blabbers incoherently just to entertain us. She amused many times my classmates and teachers and became the constant visitor of our high school classroom whenever her nanny was not around.

It was that tiny body attached with IV’s on her feet lying helplessly in the hospital bed which would always remind me of the first time I felt so sad.

After several years of joy, sadness and laughter, the baby is a young princess now. Her world revolves not anymore with playstation, dream cast, game boy, Lego, coloring books, pastel colors, flash cards, fairy tale books and dolls.

Though her interest with stuff toys remains she’s more concerned now with latest cell phones, IPOD, computer and latest fashion. Gone were the days we cuddled our Shayne when she felt lonely…or let her sleep on our stomach when she’s grouchy.

Last night was an affirmation that she’s no longer our baby. Our Shayne just experienced the world of grown ups with her first prom. The night of partying with her friends without worrying of the next day…wearing the most beautiful gown suited only for a princess.

She walked with grace and beauty…unsure of what the future would bring her but confident she won’t walk through it alone.

Her future offers limitless pathways but that she won’t embark alone.

Quo Vadis, young princess?

Fear naught. 

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Why Debt of Gratitude is Bad for Politics

After whole day of sleeping peacefully without the aid of my vitamins, I woke up with the powerful voice of Speaker of the House Jose De Venecia in the TV. He was obviously emotional and his voice was quivering.

Then I remember that for several days, it’s been brewing in the news something big was about to happen in the House of Representative. The worst fear of JDV came true. A motion to make the seat vacant was filed. That means he’s on the verge of losing the highest position of the house.

The matter was more complicated than an ordinary transfer of power. JDV was known for being one of the closest to the President of the Republic and he was in position for many years.

President Gloria Arroyo and Cong. De Venecia were more than just a close alliance. They shared friendship for many years and as JDV put it, in one way or another he was instrumental for the current position of President Arroyo.

He was the one who convinced former Pres. Ramos to make Arroyo his running mate as Vice- President and then later on as head of Department of Social Welfare and Development. When she was put in power as president of the Philippines, he became one of her loyal supporters.

As a matter of fact, JDV was one of those people who immediately bolstered her morale when several archbishops called for her resignation. What happened then to his influence in the palace?

Their friendship was tainted when JDV’s son became the whistle blower of the multi-million dollar ZTE deal involving the first gentleman. His son exposed that the government was about to burden again Filipinos with over two hundred million dollars with the China broadband contract.

The President because of too much pressure from the public later on cancelled the said deal. The speaker of the house was obviously torn that time between loyalty and blood when he bared in his privilege speech tonight that he tried to stop his son from being the witness in the Senate.

“I am a sinner. Just like the rest of you who are sinners in the country.” This he stated with trembling voice.

With all the things he revealed tonight, it was obvious that he’s blaming the palace for the motion to remove him in his position. He also blamed the president for the ethics case filed against him.

Sometimes politics is simply pain in the head. You see the giants in the political arena one day posing for news paper front page or magazine cover. Then, you hear them the next day talking about dirt and accusing each other of having no debt of gratitude.

Our country is in big trouble again…the battle has just started tonight. I won’t be surprised if the next days would mean staring in the newspaper headlines with JDV and the president’s pictures as the media play and relish their good old times. It would surely stop only when the next whistleblower comes out in public…to expose dirt and endless dirt in politics and government.

According to Gina De Venecia (wife of JDV), the president threatened the Congressmen to vote "YES" approving the motion to declare the seat of speakership vacant. She further stated that the president should teach Congressmen Mike and Datu, her sons, to respect the elderly especially that JDV is their godfather.

The palace stated that they were expecting already these accusations and also she advised the De Venecia couple to teach also their son, Joey De Venecia (the whistleblower) to respect the first gentleman.

JDV: (During his privilege speech in the House of Representative)
"I am a sinner. Just like the rest of you who are sinners in the country."

First Gentleman: (Allegedly he told this to Joey De Venecia, the speaker's son with regard to multi-million dollar ZTE deal)
"Back off!!!"

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Day as a Teacher

By next week, I’ll be making a big decision that’ll affect greatly my future. So, allow me to make musings before my fingers hit the keyboard putting into words that pronouncement. After that, no more turning back…whatever that means…

The ringing sound from the clock awakened me from a deep slumber. It was 4:00 A.M. I called all the saints I could remember and implored their mercy to stop the time. Not yet, please…my eyes felt like it was filled with sand being in front of the computer the whole night. I slept with the usual time at past 1:00 A.M. beating all the deadlines and preparing Powerpoint presentation for the next day’s lessons.

Immediately, I went back to sleep with all the aching cells of my body. It seemed like seconds only when the alarm shrilled again. It’s 5:00 A.M. No more turning back! I threw the comforter and scrambled on my feet. The dogs having been awake the whole night waiting for me to finish in front of the computer couldn’t even open their eyes. 

Exactly 6:15 A.M., I left the house to go to school. On my way, I was welcomed with familiar scenarios every morning. There was the garbage truck that always blocked my way, Manoy Boy in his bicycle roaming around the village with his usual tease “Mayo pa din boyfriend?”, Tyong Abe preparing his car, neighborhood kids waiting candies from me, and early morning joggers who greeted me with warm smiles.

The travel until the church where I dropped by every morning took 20 minutes. There in the church I uttered my morning prayer of guidance and strength to meet all my responsibilities.

By 6:40, I was in school ready for another day. My pupils would greet me with beaming smiles and in chorus they would utter, “Good Morning, Teacher Buena”. While they were cleaning, I would stay in the office and worked with the school paper and other documents in my computer. Most of the times, I needed to use the two computers to make the work faster. By 7:15 A.M., my pupils were ready in the covered court for the flag ceremony.

I would wait for my first class while working again in front of the computer. My first subject was at 8:15 and ends at 10:15. Then I would try to nibble snacks while working again. If I needed some approval from school officials that means I have to forget snacks because my break time was not enough. Lunch would be at 12:00 in the canteen with my friends or most of the times in front of the computer in the office.

In class no matter how tired a teacher is, she needs to pretend everything’s right. She should act as a clown to those who are bored, a genius to those who are gifted with wit, a mother to those who have problems, a nurse to those who are sick, a friend to those who need inspiration, and a savior to those who feel weak…all these while thinking of the discipline, lessons and deadlines to meet. 

Classes continued in the afternoon and ends at 4:30 P.M. Break times were spent in printing press for editing of the school’s publication. At 5:00 P.M. my pupils were done cleaning the room. Every part of my body was already aching that time. But it wasn’t yet the end of the day…training for contests, preparing for programs, writing articles, and other deadlines would usually occupy my time until around 6:00 P.M. or beyond. More often than not, the guard would remind us that it’s past curfew time already. 

All these while wearing high-heeled shoes the whole day. By the time I reached home, I could hardly move my muscles. Dead tired won’t even suffice to describe my feeling. No, it isn’t yet the end of the day. After I have my shower, dinner and stress work out (target wheel or dumbbell), I would sit again in front of the computer to continue working with the aid of my ever reliant USB. 

When the clock hit 1:00 A.M. that would be the signal to end my torment. I would then allow myself to loaf around in the comfort of my bed…until the next day where I got to face again another day full of challenge, laughter and frustrations…

It’s almost a year now since I’ve decided to take a rest from that kind of life. I miss a lot of things specially the idiosyncratic situations where I’ve found myself laughing hilariously with my pupils’ frolics.

Everyday was a meaningful discovery…every chuckle was a massage to my aching body…a placate to frustrations that accompanied my position…an assurance that I was doing something right…

But, there is also a part of our life that we must learn to let go. That is the time you come to realize that you need to move on in another facet of your existence. With this, I remember what Og Mandino says, “If I walk away from any challenge today my self-esteem will be scared, and if I cease to grow even a little I will become smaller.”

I take my choice as a challenge- a challenge to prove that wherever my decision would bring me I will not shrink into the ground but I will continue to nurture my chosen profession.

Now, I feel better for I know that anywhere fate takes me the stars would be there to guide me…I just need to look up and utter, “I can do this…” the number is endless so no matter how many times I fall, I can stand and gaze up again and again until I find my place in the vast sky.

The world is a looking glass and gives me back the reflection of my own soul. I want to look intently someday in the mirror and see not a lost soul but a fulfilled face of a woman who embrace with open arms the dare for change…

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