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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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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Globe VisibilityWhile waiting for our purchase at the drugstore, my husband starts “playing” with his laptop’s Globe Visibility Mobile Internet feature. Hehe, how I wish I had [tag]mobile broadband[/tag].

This afternoon, we dropped by at The Hub in Glorietta Mall to see if they could provide a demo for my Macbook. Well, we couldn’t because my Macbook needs this Nova Media launch2net (which cost Eur 75 ) to support Huawei E220 USB Modem. Haay. The [tag]Globe Visibility[/tag] sales representative in The Hub have limited knowledge and I am not a very patient person when my questions are answered stupidly. Simple questions on “what is the speed of [tag]GPRS[/tag]/[tag]EDGE[/tag]?” have to be asked from another sales rep. I better visit The Hub in the Podium since Marc swears it has better sales representative. (Edit- Visibility is now compatible with Mac . Software can be downloaded at

I might postpone getting the Visibility [tag]Moblie Internet service[/tag] for now. You know, the only reason I need it is when I vacation in the mountains where my husband’s hometown is located 5 hours away from Baguio City. I told him I cannot be internet-less for more than 2 days for economic reasons. Not that I want to be online 24/7 but I just want it there when I need it. The nearest internet cafe is a 30 minutes rough road drive. Travel time to the mountains is no joke and I don’t want to just stay there for 2 days and traverse down the rough mountain trail on my third day. I envision lying down in a hammock, enjoying the cool pine scented breeze with my dear husband. That is my ultimate dream vacation.

I am not even sure if Globe has a 3G network in Benguet towns. The National People’s Army (NPA) maks it impossible for Globe networks to grow in these far flung areas. “sigh”. Smart’s 3G alternative seems cumbersome as it needs rotating the antenna to the right direction. Which leads me to the question: connectivity versus convenience. If I have to , I will choose connectivity and use my daughter’s laptop.

Now if only I can just test Globe’s Visibility mobile internet service before I get locked in the 24 month period.

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.
lanternssnowmanlanternschristmas lanternschristmas lanternslanterns

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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It surprised me that there is a scientific explanation for those drivers that are just stark raving mad on the road. Scientists call it “Road Rage” Disorder or Intermittent Explosive Disorder. I thought they were just rude , annoying drivers. Excuse me!

To you, that angry, horn-blasting tailgater is suffering from road rage. But doctors have another name for it – intermittent explosive disorder – and a new study suggests it is far more common than they realized, affecting up to 16 million Americans.

That’s an extreme case of road rage which [tag]anger management[tag] techniques might offer some help along with treatment with antidepressants. For those that don’t suffer from this disorder, how do they relieve their anger? I bet there are many constructive ways.

anger wall (enlarge) I never realized how many angry people there were until I saw Isdaan‘s Tacsiyapo Anger wall or rather “The Wall of Fury”. The sign said “Release Your Anger” (Ilabas ang sama ng Loob). Tacsiyapo means “shame on you”. Located along McArthur Highway in Gerona, Tarlac, my husband, M and I dropped by for lunch on our way up to Baguio a few days ago. What a novel idea! Painted on the wall where targets labelled as ex-wife, ex-husband, 5-6, intrigera, mother/father in-law,professors, classmates , manyak, intrigera, Boss, alcohol, gambling , casino and many more. There are just so many reasons to get mad if you let them get to you. (View Anger Wall Photo). At the Tacsiyapo wall, one can hurl your plate at the desired target. Hmm, did I see any politician’s name in the wall? There should be.

anger wall
One has the choice of throwing plates, mugs and even a working television set. Looking at the broken television set among the pile of procelain debris, I wonder if that person’s anger reached boiling proportions or he just threw it in jest. That TV set cost 1,000 pesos (around $20). Imagine that! Doesn’t everyone feel so frustrated at times that smashing something would really help relieve the stress? But breaking plates at our own home is such a waste.

anger (enlarge photo)
My husband chose a 15 peso mug and also bought one for M. I don’t think he was angry at that moment. Maybe hidden anger inside had yet to be released. M didn’t want to break her mug and decided to just bring it home. Feeling contented, we headed back to the restaurant to enjoy our grilled dishes.

me and my husbandSo next time you’re feeling angry over your long drive, take a break, and drop by the Isdaan Floating Restaurant Park Anger Wall.

amityvilleI’ve mentioned before of our plans to move back to the childhood home of my kids. It’s the house I sold to my paternal auntie so I could defray part of the medical bills of my brother who was sick of leukemia and had to be brought to the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. Just when I thought the deal was going my way, my aunt pegs a price that we couldn’t afford. I thought that since I sold the property at below market value , she would also give us the same deal. I think she knows how much we want the property. Even if I didn’t expect her to sell it at below market value, her selling price was illogical. Feeling disappointed, I checked out the listings of 3 brokers in the same village.

To my delight, I found a house wthin my budget not far from our old property. The sprawling bungalow owned by Dr C, a single woman in her seventies and a US citizen is almost twice the lot size of our previous home. The interiors looked brand new. If the house was a car, the mileage is quite low. What I found interesting was an apartment attached to the main house, with a kitchen /living room, bathroom, and 2 bedrooms. Construction materials were of premium quality. Though I am not too keen on marble floors, I loved the overall feel of the house. And the price? 30% below market value. Amazing value. The broker told me that it was in the market for more than a year so the owner was convinced to lower her price. Hmm, although I was still cautious , I excitedly broke the news to girls. They were thrilled to have an apartment to themselves. My husband said “it’s really a good deal”. It was pretty much everything we were looking for in a home, and it was at a price that we could afford. After checking the title at the Register of Deeds and a mutual agreement to the terms, we were ready to pay earnest money.

Something ticked in me. “This is too good to be true”

Though I loved the house, I hesitated to commit to the sale.

“Maybe the street gets flooded?” I thought.

I went back to the village to sniff around for any clues to the house. I saw a small sari-sari (convenience store) store a block away from Dr C’s house. In the pretext of buying a diet Coke, I asked the lady if the street flooded all the way to Dr. C’s house. She shook her head “no. but did you know that her maid got stabbed a year ago? and died at the hospital? Her neighbors claim to hear eerie shouts every midnight. Too bad her killer was never found. No justice at all to the poor girl”

“uh-oh. No wonder Dr C is selling it so cheap”

I was quite peeved at my broker for not revealing the violent death of a household member. I asked for the details. It went like this. It didn’t happen last year but over 3 years ago. Dr C’s helper woke up early in the morning and was surprised to see their carpenter waiting by the door armed with a knife. She yelled at Dr C to run and lock herself in the room. The poor girl was unable to run back inside the house since the carpenter caught up with her and repeatedly stabbed her at the chest.

Ugh! Do we still want the house? I asked L what she thought of the eerie ghostly sounds, and the killing.

The curious writer in her squealed “Cool… a ghost in a house would be exciting and spooktacular!”

Haha, I didn’t expect that reaction.

i turned to M . “What do you think of the ghost?”

M, in an imaginative mode was more intuitive “I’m not scared of the ghost. What’s scary is the living. That killer could come back to kill the new occupants. Just like that Amityville House killer”

M is right. Safety is an important consideration. The back of the house was a vacant lot prone to burglars who can easily climb the fence. Even with high fence rails, it was still possible to gain entrance using ropes and steel cutter. Using an electrified fence is not feasible since we had cats.

Much as we loved the house and the affordable selling price, we had to let it go. No , we don’t want a Filipino version of the Amityville Nightmare.

So we’re back to another house hunting adventure. Have any ideas?

(I’m in Baguio right now cooling it off)

PWA semi-finalist badge.jpgI just received this email.

October 20, 2006

Dear Representative,


Your Web site, Touched by an Angel, is one of the Pre-Finalists in the Blogs Category of The 9th [tag]Philippine Web Awards[/tag]. You have been qualified to move on to the Pre-Finals round that will take place on October 20, 2006 and will end on November 8, 2006.

As a Pre-finalist you are required to post The Philippine Web Awards Semi-Finalists Badge on your site. Digital resources can be found here. Please link back to The Philippine Web Awards Web site (

You also have the chance to be this year’s People’s Choice in the Blogs Category. The voting for The People’s Choice Award can be done through SMS or online. For details on how to vote, please log-on to

Thank you and good luck!

Best Wishes,
The 9th Philippine Web Awards

Congrats to the other pre-finalists in the BLOGS category!

…well whatever
Fire in the Gut | illustrated
Pinoy Tech Blog
Pinoy Travel Blog
Sexy Nomad
The Man Blog
The Orangelover

jojoAs a resident of Makati City, I am aware of corruption rumors on Jojo Binay’s 20 year reign for the longest time now. Binay always loses in mayoral elections from Makati’s exclusive villages but he gets most of his votes from the squatters of Makati City. Oh yes, they are there right now in front of the city hall cheering for their beloved Mayor. I am not surprised that Binay defies the suspension order from the Local Government. It’s funny that he asks to see the Bill of particulars regarding payment of ghost employees. He asks “what are the names of these ghost employees?”. Well aren’t they supposed to be ghost employees? Do they even have names?

What’s even funnier is holing up himself in his office. He can always let 60 days pass by if he is confident he is not guilty of the charges. The chances that he is “innocent” is very slim though. The Warrior Lawyer has more to say on this bunker mentality

This sideshow in the continuing farce that is Philippine politics was enlivened by the appearance yesterday of former President Cory Aquino, who dropped by to support an ““old friend”. After all, it was she who jump-started the Jojo dynasty by appointing him Makati Officer in Charge after the people-power revolt in 1986. The Warrior-Lawyer agrees with the observation of columnist Max Soliven, who said that Cory now sounds and talks like her daughter, Kris ““Deal or No-Deal” Aquino-Yap. Tsk, Tsk

Let’s hear the side of Cory Aquino naman:

““We should show that we are all for justice … Jojo, you can count on my support and prayers. We should all pray for justice,” said Mrs. Aquino, calling Binay by his nickname.

““We all see his goodness to his constituents, especially to the students, to those in need of health care … He showed that he could take care of his constituents. I think he is a role model for all mayors,” she said of Binay, who first became mayor when she was in Malacañang.

I think….?? Cory is not even sure of Jojo Binay’s qualities. Haaay enough said. Can you imagine Jojo’s dynasty is even longer than the Marcos dynasty?

Speaking of the opposition and the current administration, I have the perfect Holiday/Christmas gift for them. This chess set…

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Two days ago, my daughter asked….

do you remember Miss Syquia?

Of course I remember her. How could I not forget the sweet and soft-spoken first grade teacher/homeroom adviser of my eldest daughter? Many years ago, I vowed that I’d take an active role in Parent-Teacher activities just so I can monitor the progress of my kids at school. So I asked L how her first grade teacher was.

OMG, How tragic! Miss Syquia died last Monday after giving birth to twin girls.

My heart filled with sadness. Aww how terribly shocking. After giving life , her life is taken away?

I hugged my daughter and felt her grief. I knew her teacher was like a second mother to her.

Apparently, L is still in contact with some of her classmates at Miriam College. An email got circulated to her former students since she had been a teacher for the past 15 years. Many knew her. L went on and on how her First grade teacher was so nice to her. Her succeeding teachers were not as memorable as Miss Syquia. L and I paid a visit yesterday but L refused to take a look at her coffin. L chose to remember her teacher as someone alive and well. I noticed a few of her younger students looking so sad.

I gathered from a brief talk with her husband that her married name was Ma. Theresa Erlinda Syquia Caringal and that her nickname was Ernie for short. And the cause of her death?

Pulmonary embolism

She died a week after her cesarian operation.

Such a sudden death. If that was not tragic enough, a day before Ernie died, her mom passed away. In fact her burial was just 2 days ago.

I couldn’t ask her husband on the cause of “pulmonary embolism” because I know how tiring it must be for him to keep repeating the same story all over again. Just this afternoon at our monthly Compassionate Friends meeting, a friend-doctor shared how life is just so precious. She knew of a mom who just gave birth and turned blue on the way home from the hospital. Cause of death was pulmonary embolism.

Two moms died of pulmonary embolism this week?

I gathered that pregnancy increases the risk of developing blood clots. Wow, I never knew that. I had 3 cesarian births. Though I always thought I’d die with each operation I never thought blood clots could be one of the causes of childbirth complications.

Today, Ernie was cremated. Her sudden death is very devastating to her loved ones. Trying to make sense of or understand sudden losses can be difficult. Survivors are left asking “Why?” “Why did this happen?” Like all deaths, the “why” will never be answered in this lifetime. “In our hearts, we all know that death is a part of life. In fact, death gives meaning to our existence because it reminds all of us that life is precious.” It’s just that coping with the loss is not an easy task.
L and her First Grade Teacher

If you are a couple very much in love, instead of calling them by their first name, you’ll call them a little term of endearment like “`honey’ or `honeybunch,’ or `sweetheart’ `sweetie,’ `sweetie pie’ – anything that has to do with sugary sweetness. Sugar sweetness alright – hey sugar, sugar lips. My ex-boyfriend in the seventies (now my husband) is romantic and mushy guy but what is his term of endearment to me?

“you punk”

punkNice! It was the late seventies and I had no idea what punk actually meant. I don’t think I looked or acted like a punk. I never bothered to find out about the punk culture or the reason behind my ex-boyfriend’s term of endearment. The word “punk” just meant an affectionate and loving word to me. What I knew back then was that Punk first emerged in the mid 1970s in London as an anarchic and aggressive movement. Closely aligned was a music movement that took the name punk. Punk as a term of endearment from my ex-boyfriend was unique. That’s all.

When I travelled with my sister to the UK in 1984, I witnessed my first punk fashion in a London zoo. A couple with a child were holding hands as they viewed the animals. The mother had long burgundy hair while the father had green spiked hair. Their 3 year old daughter was in between them, skipping happily as they walked. The cute little girl had orange hair which was obviously dyed. I couldn’t help staring at them. So this was the punk look, I thought. It was fascinating and different.

Many years have passed since then and now I have 2 daughters . Many fashion magazines advertise the classic punk hair-style or suits with as a punk-style touch as the “respectable image.” The punk now became an established mainstream style which is not what the original punk scene of the 70s had in mind. L wore pop punk fashion (clothes) in high school which continued on till her junior year. That didn’t last long. She moved on to girly fashion then the college preppy look. So I thought that was the end of the punk phase.

A few days ago, L sent me a text message:

“Mommy can I get red streaks in my bangs? 400 pesos only”

Hm, I thought it would be cool since another daughter M just had light highlights done at Salon de Manila. It looked terrific on M.

“Sure go ahead and take a photo of yourself”

Talking to her via google talk a few hours later, I asked for the photo.

“It’s so cute! It’s so red it’s almost pink”, L gushed with pride.

Then I gasped…
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