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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Thoughts/ Opinions

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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