Who would have thought my beautiful and smart sister, Myrna would now be appointed vice-mayor of her city in California ? (She won a seat in the council last November 2010. The mayor and vice mayor are appointed by fellow council members)

Did it even occur to our family that she’d dabble with politics?


Nuh-uh. If you asked me who among my siblings would have made it to politics, Myrna would be the last in my list.

Back in our college days in the state university, she was the least politically inclined among the siblings. Myrna with her frail, petite features seemed too fragile to fight it out in street rallies. Lorna, my eldest sister was an activist, cut short when my dad threatened to bring her back home to Cebu. It was the same predicament with me too. I then chose to be active in campus politics, being safe from arrests. Ruben. my brother was a photographer for the Collegian and was even brought to jail for taking shots of a police tearing down a poster. The youngest sister though not as politically inclined was a leader in her college organizations.
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““A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person” Mignon McLaughlin

Just like everyone else in cozy relationships, I counted month-saries, then years. And on the 7th year, I was thinking “Is my boyfriend ever going to marry me?”

So with the sweetest smile I could muster and my head leaning on his shoulder, I asked him “Will you marry me or not?”

Of course, I didn’t want him to feel like I placed a shotgun on his forehead, so I added “it’s okay if you don’t want to marry me, I will join my sister in San Francisco.” I entwined my hands on his.

The year 1984. I had just gotten back from a trip to the USA and Europe with my sisters and dad.
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““When a man gives his opinion he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion she’s a bitch.” Bette Davis

bitchThere are two sides to a story. Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay called Sarah Bonnin Ocampo, a Philippine Airlines flight attendant, a “menopausal bitch” for failing to get him a seat beside his sons on a flight to Los Angeles.

Let’s take the side of the woman being hurled such “sexist remarks”. Though I am way past 50 years old, I am not menopausal yet or don’t feel the symptoms of menopause. I’d certainly get peeved for being shouted such names and would not take it sitting down. I can be a “bitch” sometimes. My daughter calls it “bitch power” or knowing when to use my assertive powers. Nothing to burst an artery over if that is the meaning behind the “bitch word”. Hold a second, I am not in customer service. Does it give me a right to tell the customer “‘Sir do you have a problem with me?!’ ”

That remark is just plain rude.

Now let’s take the side of the customer, a parent who wants to be seated beside his sons. It doesn’t matter if he is a congressman or not. I used to travel a lot with my young girls. As a parent, we want to be seated beside them. It is not a big favor to ask. As a customer, I expect a reasonable reply. Apparently, the PAL attendant raised her voice (or her voice is high -pitched). Imagine the disappointment of the father to be told off that way. (His son actually had health issues which later turned out to be appendicitis and had to operated on in the USA).

bitchI would be disappointed wouldn’t you? and angry if the manner delivered sounds like “shouting”. But….I wouldn’t call the PAL attendant a “menopausal bitch”. I will be livid with anger. The congressman forgot his position at that moment, only thinking as a father. He forgot he represented a group of teachers where, guess what are probably menopausal too.

But let’s go back to customer service. Heck, if I am in customer service, I would not provoke the irate customer to “‘Call me more names, call me more names!’ ” and threaten to call “security”. Oh and to add drama in a tense situation. No need to be a cantankerous hell-on-wheels!

See, there are two sides of the story. Both are wrong. The PAL attendant did not show patience and pacify the customer in a soothing manner. The customer shouldn’t have called her a menopausal bitch.

This is a case of high emotions, bad hair day, misunderstanding and holiday stress. Why did Ms. Ocampo resort to a press conference? Why didn’t they try to resolve it between them before filing such a complaint? Shouldn’t one settle it first before filing a suit. Clogging our courts is not the answer.

Reactions are mixed. Most take the side of the “menopausal bitch” because the remark is sexist. To be a bitch or not to be a bitch, that is the question.

What do you think of all this fracas?

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Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. Barnett R. Brickner

gemini-virgoOut of curiosity, I checked if my new Zodiac sign (the news is debatable) is now finally compatible with that of my husband. When my hubby was then my college sweetheart, the incompatibility issue disturbed me but I shrugged it off anyway because I was deeply in love with him.

Let’s take a look at our old Zodiac signs.

Old sign

Gemini me vs Virgo hubby

Check this Gemini Woman and Virgo Man

A Gemini woman and a Virgo man will understand each other’s needs as well as feelings quite well. Infact, most of the time, they will share feelings and thoughts, especially about the outside world. However, as far as their personal lives are concerned, they have more clashing, than compatible, traits. The best way to keep the fire alive in this relationship is to be honest with each other and respect the other person’s opinions. At the same time, they will have to find ways to neutralize his critical nature and her tactlessness.

The old Zodiac signs have been consistent with all Horoscope readings. It said my husband and I are incompatible. Perhaps that is one reason I started to ignore Horoscopes altogether. Strangely, my husband and I clashed a lot in financial management during the early years of our marriage. This was resolved fifteen years after we got married when I finally took over the finances. Despite these clashes, we were passionate and romantic towards each other.
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I caught on the horoscope just once in my life. I was around 14 years old when I had this huge crush on a guy I met in a class party that I hosted at my home. He had whispered sweetly to me that he’d give me a ring. I waited eagerly for his call the next day. While browsing through the news paper, my eye caught on the Horoscope section. I can’t remember the exact words but it said something about a “phone call”. Right after I read the horoscope, the phone rang indeed and it was my huge crush. Perhaps it was just my luck that day. My crush didn’t call me back after three calls and with it , the horoscope stopped working for me.

Maybe I was looking at the wrong Zodiac sign.

All these years I thought I was a Gemini. When astrologers said that the sun is in Pisces, it’s really not in Pisces. I always thought our astrological sign was determined by the position of the sun on the day I was born. Everything I thought I knew about my horoscope is wrong.

New is astrology has had issues from its inception. (Aside from the fact that it tries to link personality traits with positions of the stars.) Ancient Babylonians had 13 constellations, but wanted only 12, so threw out Ophuchicus, the snake holder. Libra didn’t even enter the picture until the era of Julius Caesar.

According to the Minnesota Planetarium Society, here is where the real signs of the Zodiac should fall. Get ready for your world to change forever.

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17. (Yep, this one is new — read all about the Ophiuchus way of life here)
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

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Good news for any mother dreading the empty nest: A little bird told us it’s not so bad.

“Adolescence is perhaps nature’s way of preparing parents to welcome the empty nest.” -Karen Savage and Patricia Adams

The pitter-patter of footsteps appear to be slowly fading now. ““Mom, I’m home” is just an echo down memory lane. Times like these make me wish that the house is still alive with the noisy chatter and delightful squeals of little children. The girls are all done with college. One is now based in Australia, and my eldest daughter may soon move in to her new condominium once the development is completed.

I always believed in instilling independence in my children, so I thought it best for them to experience semi-independence by living in a dormitory. When L was a college freshman seven years ago, she moved in to her dormitory in Quezon City even if our home was just in Makati City. Oh, the withdrawal pangs! The impact of the empty nest left me in a teary sentimental disposition during the first week. Although M, my second daughter, was around, this was the first time a child left for a long period of time. Pretty soon, both girls were both residing in dormitories. As Butch, my husband, and I sat by the dinner table, he held my hand and sighed ““We’re alone.” I hugged him and could only mutter to say ““This is a preview of our empty nest.” This temporary transition, though uncomfortable, did wonders to our marriage since we had more time to go out on dates and get involved with our advocacy. Along the way, I found out that the empty nest is really not that bad after all as I discovered real-time tools for communicating with my daughters.

Read more at Philstar UNBLOGGED

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me. ~Author Unknown

(Before (as homeless alcoholic) and after
Photo credit: NY daily news)

I am so touched with Ted Williams’ story. Williams’ story is “the epitome of how dreams can come true in the internet age”. And yes, practically overnight. What makes it even more touching is he left a life of alcoholism and drugs two and a half years ago.

I am such a sucker for stories that deal with the theme of “second chances”. Two days ago, the web got introduced to Ted Williams, a 53 year old homeless recovering alcoholic. The Ohio area man held up a sign that read he had the “God-given gift of a great voice” and he was willing to share it with anyone who could donate some change. In exchange for a few coins, his patrons get a treat to sound bites of his bottomless, buttery, baritone voice.

I’ve seen homeless men on the side of the road in my recent US visit and it often piqued my curiosity on the words they scribbled down on that piece of paper. It must have been Ted’s lucky day because a kind patron encountered Williams on the highway , uploaded a video of Williams using his golden voice. The video turned out to be viral hit on YouTube with 9,871,461 hits as of January 5,2010. As a result of the video’s success and the former homeless man’s perfect voice, the Cleveland Cavaliers offered him a job as a full-time announcer for the Cavaliers and even offered him a house.

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What a mouthful of a tongue twister! Chronic Calculous Cholecystitis with Choledocholithiasis simply means Inflammation of the gall bladder with dislodged gall stones. That was the diagnosis when I got my medical certificate after being discharged from Medical City. The operation itself called for Open Cholecystectomy with IOC, Common Biliary Duct (CBD) Exploration Tube drainage. I stayed in the hospital for 8 days.
Everything happened so fast on December 22 at the emergency room of the Medical City which is close to our home. I didn’t realize surgery was an option. This pain I was told is due to bilary colic, a dislodged gall stone causing me pain. My liver, pancreas enzymes, were elevated. My blood sugar shot up to 379 due to body stress. My surgeon said he will try laproscopy with open surgery as the last course of action, However, he changed his mind after assessing my lab results. Open surgery was decided late at night of December 22 due to my elevated enzymes.

Since I wasn’t prepared for my surgery, it gave me little time to research on my ailment. All of the materials online were from medical bulletins or rehash of previous web content. I decided to share my personal experience to add to all the medical materials scattered online for those that need more information on gall bladder removal and common bile duct exploration. Remember, this is my personal experience and will vary depending on lab results and the overall assessment of the doctors.

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““I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.” Albert Einstein
gifted-child1I had the chance to meet gifted kids from Philippine High School for the Arts (PSHA) when my two girls joined the Manila Children’s Choir in the late nineties. Among my daughter’s circle of friends was Jourdann Petalver and a couple of kids with powerful soprano voices. It was during rehearsal breaks that I got to know more about their life at this exclusive school for gifted kids in the creative field of music, art, writing, dancing and others. I often wonder what have become of them and even of PSHA. If there is one great thing that Imelda Marcos did , it is the promotion of culture and arts and the nurturing of gifted children. I believe parents should be aware of options of their gifted child and the road they travel as they hone their gifts.

The second part of the third part report on “Dilemmas on the ‘Different'”focus on the gifted child. (The first part was about Down’s syndrome.) Part 2 is authored by PCIJ Fellow Rorie R. Fajardo tells the story of the students of the Philippine High School for the Arts, a charmed circle that by all accounts belongs to the two percent of the country’s population that is deemed to be gifted.

Dilemmas on the ‘Different’

The Gifted Give Back

By Rorie R. Fajardo
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Second of Three Parts

THE MOMENT they stepped into the campus of the Philippine High School for the Arts or PHSA in 1988, Roselle Pineda says that she and the other freshmen were made aware they were being trained to be the country’s future cultural leaders.

““Medyo mayabang pakinggan (It may sound like I’m bragging),” says Pineda, now 34 and teaching at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, ““but this makes you realize at the start that you are scholars of the people, the cream of the crop, and therefore you have the duty to give back something to the people.”

Then again, PHSA is no ordinary school. As its name implies, it specializes in the arts, and it takes as students only those who are deemed gifted in writing or in either performing or visual arts. It is, in fact, the creative counterpart of the older Philippine Science High School or Pisay, which caters to youths with ““high aptitude for sciences and math.”

Both schools are government-run, but they are certainly what most public high schools are not. Both boast of the latest equipment, well-trained staff and solid faculty lineup, and a healthy teacher-student ratio. There are no overcrowded classes in either school, and if there is a class that is held under a tree, it would be because teacher and students suddenly felt the urge to commune with nature or take in fresh air, rather than because of a missing roof or, worse, the sheer inexistence of a school building. Aside from free tuition, free board and lodging are available. Each student gets a monthly stipend as well.
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Having Down syndrome is like being born normal. I am just like you and you are just like me. We are all born in different ways, that is the way I can describe it. I have a normal life. Chris Burke

special-childrenMy late father was quite active with St. Martin de Porres, a school for special children. As a young child, my dad often told me how much smarter these special kids (in comparison to regular kids like myself) are for maximizing their brain potential. Some of us are just plain lazy to actually maximize our true potential. I found that out myself as I got older and wiser.

Earlier today, Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism sent me an email about a three-part report on the dilemmas we face when dealing with ““different” children, or the ““special” and the ““gifted” ones among them.

It is by now de rigueur, and politically correct, to avoid referring to them as ““abnormal” — a word laced with the bias of the majority who are supposed to be ““normal.” Societies in both the developed West and the developing East have since launched programs and services catering to the special needs of these children. However, if a nation has only limited resources, should the community devote more to the special children, or to the gifted? Indeed, how could we know how best to care for them?

But more than just a question of logistics, to the families who nurture and care for these children, many other dilemmas unfold daily – burden, blessing, joy, pain all the same most of the time. And in between, too, these families have to contend with people who respond differently, sometimes harshly, to children who are “different.”

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