October 2006

On Sharing Grief and Grief Share

For the newly bereaved, November 1 hits them with the reality that it’s their first All Saint’s Day with their precious loved one. It’s their first time to honor the dead with the rest of the country. No wonder, grief is once again featured in the magazines , TV and radio. Last Sunday, Cory Quirino invited The Compassionate Friends to her DZMM radio program with the topic of “Handling Grief and Loss” . The thought of discussing the basics of the grief process in Tagalog caused me to panic. Can you imagine me struggling with words like “pagdalumbhati”? (if I even spelled that right) . How does one say “positive resolution of grief?” The best testimonials would definitely come from the newly bereaved parents who actively worked on their grief with help of The Compassionate Friends. I asked if I could invite more parents to the interview. I dragged 3 newly bereaved parents and Alma Miclat, a co-founder of The Compassionate Friends. A psychiatrist, Dr. Josefina Sayo served as the resource person on the grief process and explained that there is so much stigma attached to grief.

Typhoon Paeng’s update interrrupted the show that the one hour and half show seemed like thirty minutes.

What totally amazed me were these 3 newly bereaved parents who were able to express their loss and testified how sharing their grief truly unburdened some of their pain. We know that pain can never be totally taken away but somehow sharing it to others ease the burden in our hearts. And so The Compassionate Friends continue to come monthly…to meet, to hug, to cry, to laugh to listen and to try to understand another’s story. We come to love each other’s children that we never got to meet. Their faces become almost as familiar as our own children’s countenance and so incredibly dear because they were so special to our friends. In sharing our children’s lives and their deaths, they continue to live on through our stories and our pictures and we are comforted as we grieve together.

Sharing grief is a crucial step in grief work. No wonder my dear friend, Cathy Babao-Guballa started Grief Share, a new grief ministry for all types of losses.

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Top 500 World’s Best Universities

Michael Tan’s Opinion column on the “World’s Best Universities” which he based on the Times Higher Education Supplement-Quacquarelli Symonds (THES-QS) World University Rankings provided so many insights on the state of Philippine Education . I’m glad to see that the universities of my two girls made it to the top 500 , including two other universities. We can’t compare the Philippines to America, Australia or the UK. Harvard is the number 1 school followed by Cambridge. But take look at Indonesia, a country less developed than the Philippines. It had three universities, all state-run, beating us in rankings

Let’s look at how the Philippines did. The University of the Philippines (UP) came in 299th globally and 47th among Asian universities. I have to say that’s not too bad, considering how UP has had to plod along with shrinking budgets and with the flight of so many good professors. Trailing behind UP were three private universities: De La Salle (392nd), Ateneo de Manila (484th) and, talk about a photo finish, the University of Santo Tomas at 500th.

With slashed budget from our government, it’s surprising that the state university is still alive and kicking. When I brought M around the UP campus as an incoming freshman, I was appalled at Palma Hall’s old chairs, broken windows, and dirty walls. It was as if they had not done any cosmetic renovation since I graduated over 30 years ago. I was confident that UP had dedicated professors inspite of the decrepit state of some classrooms. In the beginning, M’s heart was really not into the state university. She wanted to join her eldest sister at Ateneo. I insisted that UP is the better school and for economic reasons, it was the better option than Ateneo. I convinced her that her maternal grandmother was one of the pioneer students of the UP Diliman Campus. It was my mother’s legacy to pass on the values and great education that UP had to offer. After much tears and several arguments, she relented. Today , M is full of gratitude that she chose UP.

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Early Christmas Decor Shopping

On the way home from Baguio, I caught the colorful array of Christmas lanterns on the roadside of Gerona, Tarlac.

“I want to take photos” I begged my husband to stop.

The long stretch of bright [tag]Christmas Lanterns[/tag] was captivating. I had no plans of buying [tag]Christmas decors[/tag] but my husband (the Grinch) thought it was rude to take photos and not buy anything from the poor vendors. Strictly speaking, my husband isn’t really a Christmas Grinch. Ever since my son died in 2000, the holidays are the most depressing season for him. Next to Halloween day, the most difficult holiday of the year is Christmas. Christmas decors just remind him that Christmas is lonely without our little boy. Of course, we grieve differently . Christmas is a happy occasion for me. I digress. Anyway…

“Okay, let’s shop”. M and I started our search for the traditional Christmas lantern, the parol . There were probably more than 20 vendors all selling the same design ranging from flowers, butterflies, snowmen, stars, trees even a papaya tree, capiz lanterns and more.
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My husband ventured to the other side of the roadside stand. Much later, he surprised me with 10 colorful star lanterns strung together. I never expected him to actually shop for himself. Joy filled my heart. It shows that Christmas shopping wasn’t a difficult task anymore. Look at what we got…

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