““I am you; you are ME. You are the waves; I am the ocean. Know this and be free, be divine.”
–Sri Sathya Sai Baba

The weather is lovely in Boracay. I thought the remnants of Typhoon Odeng would still be felt here. But God is good. The sun is up, The blue skies and the soft calm breeze lift our spirits. This short vacation to Boracay was postponed countless of times. I guess, in time my husband and I would vacation in any beach for that matter.

When I won a raffle prize (from a Nokia E7 launch) for a trip for two to Boracay, I felt my husband would once again refuse to vacation in a beach. I could try and if he didn’t want it , I could always give it to my daughter. Surprise, he agreed. Finally! He wanted to see the world-famous Boracay with its spectacular sugary-white sands and pristine beach waters.

It was just not Boracay that my husband wanted to see. I believe having a short vacation in Boracay affirms that he is at peace with the past. This part of Boracay is peaceful, far away from the party people. Lounging by my chair and enjoying the soft cool breeze , I spot him strolling along the shoreline of the white sandy beach. Walking barefoot on this powdery white is therapeutic.

Our first day was spent strolling and letting our feet enjoy and sink into the fine white sand as our eyes feasted on the crystal blue ocean and the coastline of the other island.

Today we go island hopping.

They are dead; but they live in each Patriot’s breast,
And their names are engraven on honor’s bright crest.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. ~Joseph Campbell

US Memorial Day often reminds me of weekend visits to my sisters in San Francisco years ago. I didn’t think much of US memorial day when I received the invitation the of the celebration at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial today at 8:00 AM.

It was my dear husband who reminded me that US memorial day is significant to my family. A paternal uncle presumably dead was declared missing during World War 2 as he fought alongside with the USA army. He was the eldest among the six orphaned siblings, taking up law at the University of the Philippines. The eldest brother gave them hope that one day their properties that were forcibly taken away by their relatives would be given back to them. The war came and with a missing brother , they had no choice but fend for themselves with meager income from retained coconut lands. I cannot imagine how they survived.The second brother sacrificed his high school education by devoting full time as the “parent” of the brood. He ensured that the younger siblings got their education first before his own. What a sacrifice that must be.

As I listened to Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr memorial day message, I can only imagine the grief my father’s siblings went through. Losing both parents, their eldest brother and earning their keep. I cannot even begin to imagine what the other families felt after losing a loved one during the war. Each has their own story to tell, probably worse than my father’s family.

The ambassador said:

17,202 graves surround us in this cemetery. Inscribed on the limestone walls around us are 36,285 names of those whose remains were never recovered. In total more than 50,000 heroes are remembered here everyday. And they are not just remembered . They are honored.

My uncle is one of the 36,285 heroes whose body was never recovered. War is cruel. I don’t understand why we have to kill each other to fight for liberty, equality and justice . I know some of us are trying to make this world a safe place to live. I guess it is because we have different ideals and goals.

The children brought flowers to the memorial chapel, then stepped down the stairs and shouted together “We will never forget”

The Ambassador continued on with his message, “Jose Rizal once declared, ““What matters death if one dies for what he loves, for his land and for whom he adores?” Each of the 50,000 names transcribed in this cemetery belongs to someone who shared Rizal’s sentiments”

It must be an honor for our soldiers to fight for our country but is it really our war? Should we honor their sacrifices by continuing to strive forth the ideals for which they gave their lives?

Just not another war, please.

View more photos of US memorial day.

I do not understand why the good Bishop Oscar Cruz calls it the “Sex Bill 4244” when it is plainly, Reproductive Health Bill HB 4244.

You know what the Bishop said ? End products of Sex Bill 4244: Promiscuity. Insensibility. Amorality.

Risa Hontiveros delivers a brillant rebuttal to the Sex Bill.

End products of House Bill 4244: Women and youth’s welfare. Choice for couples, a chance in life for people.

Risa adds “Even without the bill, there is promiscuity. ““Copulative delight without fear or worry.” Is that an evil thing? Isn’t that how God or the universe envisioned lovemaking? Fearful and worried copulation—is that what the good archbishop desires for couples? Hardly a godly or humane vision. The first topic in adolescent RH and sexuality education would be values formation. ABC: Abstain, Be faithful or monogamous, and Contraceptives, including condoms, would be taught.”

Reality is that promiscuity exists even without the RH Bill. Abortion too. I believe the sexual act will even be valued if these are discussed through sex education. At least for me, that worked. I am blessed to get sex education during my high school years in the mid-seventies together with my mother’s guidance. I have since passed this knowledge on to my two daughters. But how many mothers are like me? Just read through my sex education article to see the dilemma most parents face. Most say they are clueless, fearful, or feel awkward.

I have talked to single mothers and parents with daughters pregnant in their teens. The single mothers wished they had known more about sex and the consequences. The mothers wished they were not too uncomfortable talking about sex education to their children. I will talk more on this topic in another blog entry.

There is just too much obsession with sex that the main essence of reproductive health is lost.

A simple rebuttal to the Sex Bill is easily explained in Section 4 of the RH Bill 4244 .

To Bishop Cruz main point that it is against reproduction is false.

To call it ““Reproductive Health Bill” is a big distortion. Reason: the Bill is not ““reproductive” simply because it is against reproduction.

The RH bill helps couples with infertility problems.

Reproductive Health Care refers to the access to a full range of methods, facilities, services and supplies that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health-related problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations. The elements of reproductive health care include the following:
(j) prevention and treatment of infertility and sexual dysfunction;

The bishop forgets that even when the Bill passes into a law, the Church can still continue their teachings on the sanctity of marriage, morality and other values to uphold.

Read the Reproductive Health Bill HB 4244

Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day. ~Gene Perret

Our friends, the beautiful couple Alma and Mario Miclat share the same wedding date- May 5 with Butch and I. The difference is the Miclats just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary while we just had our Silver anniversary last year. Just looking at their photos, one can see that they still look young and very much in love. We have another thing in common. We both lost our beloved child eleven years ago. It is because of this unspeakable loss of our child that we found each other and co-founded the grief advocacy group, The Compassionate Friends in 2005 together with Cathy Babao.

I could not miss their celebration even if it took place in Sinag-Tala Farm Resort by the slopes of Mt Natib, Bataan. There is much to celebrate. The Miclats have gone through a lot- the Martial law, staying in “exile” in China and of course the loss of their daughter, Maningning.

The celebration was beautiful but what touched me the most was their renewal of vows by the scenic slopes of the mountain. I teared as I listened to Alma recite her vows. I am so sentimental but I found out my husband was just as touched.

With her permission, I am sharing it to you here:

Dearest Tatay,

Sa iyo, aking pinakamamahal na ama ng aking mga anak, kabiyak ng aking buhay, tibok ng puso ko, laman ng aking isipan, ang aking nakaraan, kasalukuyan at kinabukasan, maraming salamat!

Maraming salamat sa 40 taon ng iyong wagas na pagmamahal, pagsuyo, pag-aalaga, pagtatangi at pag-aaruga. Thank you for bringing out the best in me and recognizing and enhancing my identity as a woman, as a person, and as a human being. Thank you for loving me for what I am, for bearing with me, imperfect me. Thank you for being a most wonderful and loving husband, an OC critic who challenges my intellect, an exciting lover, and a true friend, my best friend, through thick and thin. Thank you for making me laugh even at the most trying times. Thank you for being a most loving, understanding and sensitive father to our children. And thank you for showing me how to love our people and our country.

In return, I promise to continue to love you; to even love you more, kahit ngayong maputi na ang buhok mo, kahit na hindi lamang ang buhok mo ang malagas kundi pati ngipin mo, kahit tubuan kang muli ng Goombu Roombo, at kahit uugod ugod ka na at di mo na matandaan ang pangalan ko.

I vow to care for you and to keep you in the many, many years to come. Aalagaan kita at sasamahan hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan.

I will continue to fight for you and even if there’s only one – me – left to do so, I will, with lots of conviction. Because I know you inside out and because in the last 40 years, I’ve seen your nakedness before God, the purity of your heart, and the truth and integrity that define you.

So in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, I will love you not only in this world, but also in the other world where there’s no more sickness, no more pain, no more evil, no more poverty, and no more exploitation of man by man. AMEN.

With much love, Nanay.

Mario followed with the following vow:

Alma, you are my soulmate.

We have made love under a Tipolo tree a thousand years ago.

In this lifetime, I did not find you in Marikina, Rizal where I was born in 1949.

Nor did I meet you in Tubod, Lanao where I had my earliest memories as a two-year old boy.

Gathering katuray flowers, wild tomatoes and kamote tops for lunch
in the NARRA resettlement of Masbate where Daddy was President Magsaysay’s supervisor-cum-legal tender guarantor and Mamma was nurse, midwife and medicine woman, there was no trace of you.

When our family proceeded to Olongapo, Zambales in 1955 and Daddy became the first ever Filipino manager of the American Navy Exchange while Mamma the first Filipina nurse in the US Naval Hospital, a little soul named Susan announced that she was my mate.

The soul world became confused. One named Girlie countered that it was her.

Mine looked at a Delia, an Eva, a Lilia. But they were not.

In 1965, UP in Diliman for me was a merry mix-up of souls in thoughts, beliefs, ideas, philosophies, ideologies and idiosyncracies. The caballero trees lining its avenues bloomed and shed their leaves in the cool months of February. I started looking for you.

I wonder why many names suddenly pop up my head this very moment – Olive, Nerrisa, Beth, Louie, Tere, Glo. (BoyM wants me to add Marita. So I add Helda and Samson’s Delilah. Some were fantasies, some felt real).

In the hot CPP-NPA country of Tarlac and in the cool breeze of Cordillera, cane, narra and pine, rice stalks, cypress and fern, narra, agojo and molave competed for my attention.

Suddenly you were there, listening to my lecture under a spreading acacia tree in Diliman. And my sight was nailed on you, as we say in Tagalog.

From then on, no weeping willows,
sky-rocketing maples, evergreens,
chestnuts, apple or tangerine trees
in Beijing, Liuyang, Talian or Tsingtao
could separate us.

I call you Nanay, for being the best mother of our children,
Maningning and Banaue and more;
and now mother-in-law to Dominic.

Nanay, together with you and our children,
we have built our home in Antipolo,
where we nurture the love we started a thousand years ago.
So it is the Tipolo, Ang Tipolo.

In this chapel of the Sinag Tala,
amidst a jungle of a thousand and one trees,
I promise to keep on loving you,
for another thousand, and tens of thousands of years.

Wan shou wu jiang, wo tebie ai ni!

Like a fairy tale, we continue to live happily ever after!

I just couldn’t help the tears of joy. I am so happy for them.

Butch and I plan to celebrate every five years which will soon come in 2015 for our 30th wedding anniversary. We hope to renew our wedding vows by then. I am almost sure that I will tear as I deliver it…

““The Day of Judgment is an important notion: but that Day is always with us” Alfred North Whitehead

(Updated- May 22, 10:30 AM ) Is it really the end of the world? There are thousands of Twitter conversations that center on Rapture, the ““Judgment Day” that some believe is set for today, Saturday .

““Don’t wait for the last judgment – it takes place every day.” Albert Camus

I often asked this question the past few days. The thought of the last day of the world never occurred to me. Perhaps because I have heard this prophecy many times in my life. OR perhaps the end of the word seemed to happen to me the day my son died 11 years ago. I felt the earth swallowed me up. My mind seemed to be nowhere. Since the loss of my son, I live my day as if it is my last day on earth. No big deal here.

The possible beginning of the end of the world is nothing to ignore to a lot of people but it also means I will be reunited with my beloved son. Not that I want it to happen now but if it does, it is also alright. I can go either way.

Any rapture regrets?

Well, I wished I was more adventurous when I was a teen, not afraid to be a “bad girl”. Then again, I also think that I can still be adventurous later in life but not necessarily be a “bad girl”, just one having the time of her life. There are regrets that are negligible such as not going into sports. Still, all these regrets don’t have to be regrets. They can still be realized if “rapture” does not occur today.

Time zones have now crossed on saturday. How has everyone been thinking ? Some are making light of this through tweeting about their “rapture regrets” or imagining “If Saturday is the last day.”

Sunday, May 22

I am still here. The world has not come to an end. The time 6PM came and went at time zones across the world, and nothing unusual emerged. I noticed Inquirer.net kept releasing earthquake reports in various parts of the country like Iloilo and Isabela. Volcanoes also triggered some quakes (taal, bulusan, Mayon). Life continued on as normal for me yesterday as all days are.

“People are making jokes like there’s no tomorrow,” one of the top tweets said.

Life should be treated a day at a time. The Day of Judgment is important notion to most Christians but that Day is always with us.

Spoiler Alert ….

Most weekends, my husband and I watch the movies. Today, he felt like watching “Priest” and he says it is a movie about a priest who is for the RH Bill.

I knew he was kidding “Aww really?” I quickly searched for a synopsis.

Apparently, the movie is an adaptation of a Tokyopop graphic novel, Bettany’s Priest with a cross emblazoned on his forehead. The priest tries to rescue his kidnapped niece with the help of her boyfriend (Cam Gigandet), a warrior priestess (Maggie Q, ““Nikita”) and a sheriff (Stephen Moyer, ““True Blood”).

I love thriller movies but I wasn’t sure if I wanted the horror part of the movie- the vampires. Still, we went to watch it in 3D at Eastwood Cinema 6.

As the movie unfolded with my eyes closed at times, I thought my husband was probably right when he kidded me that the movie is about a priest who is pro-RH bill.

Though the Catholic Church does not say this quote , “To go against the church is to go against God” , I feel sometimes it is implied when the RH Bill is being debated.

In the movie, the protagonist is a good and tough priest and a warrior in an alternative universe. The priest is a metaphor for the fight between good and evil. Even good guys can be corrupted or destroyed by the dark side like Black Hat, the head of the vampires (who used to be a priest).

The good versus evil is also seen in the institution such as the Church in the movie.

The Church was initially good. The Church unleashes ““the Priests,” humans with super-human-like reflexes, who drive the vampires into exile. They protected them from the vampires but later on, got corrupted by their own power by invoking their infallibility, “To go against the church is to go against God” .

The head of the church (in the movie) insisted there were no more vampires but the priest didn’t think so. The Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on an obsessive quest to find her niece, Lucy before they turn her into one of the vampires. I will leave it at that so there are no more spoilers.

The movie got me thinking that there are probably many Catholics that are conflicted and/or have left their faith because of disagreement with certain teachings such as Humanae Vitae (Latin “Of Human Life”) , an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and re-affirms the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church regarding married love, responsible parenthood, and lawful and unlawful ways of regulating birth.

The Catholic Church in the Philippines are still in denial when it comes to the need for the RH Bill. It has always been referred to as “evil” during the homily by some priests.

Priest , the movie just struck me as having so many similarities with the way some bishops of the Philippine Catholic Church particularly the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) are exerting authority over its faithful.

Let me give you just one example out of many. Last April 27, San Pablo (Laguna) Vicar General Msgr. Melchor Barcenas said RH bill advocates are using “tactics of Satan.”

“In this fight against RH Bill, our true enemies are not the people (who proposed it) but Satan. It is the evil that is manipulating the minds of all (pro RH Bill Congressmen) or those higher ups in the world. This is the reason why it is difficult to fight this enemy,” he said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines news site last April.

There goes Satan again.

Just watch the movie.

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.

~Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground”

Via Carlos Conde. Original Photo by Alan Robles.

Chit is a batch before me in UP Diliman. I never knew her but word gets around in the campus when one is quite active. Learning of her death through Twitter , it took some time for me to digest it. It came as a shock. We have mutual friends and I cannot imagine how more shocked they are. They are mourning the loss of a dear friend and colleague. The impact of a tragic death from a senseless bus drivers is just too much to comprehend. The taxi she was riding in was rammed by a bus Friday night and another speeding bus nicked the vehicle on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. “But it was the impact from the second bus that pinned the veteran journalist and U.P. professor to death in the cab’s backseat.”

There have been 21 tragic deaths and around 608 others were injured in more than 2,000 accidents in same Commonwealth avenue last year. I am aware of the 60 kph speed limit imposed by the MMDA on Commonwealth Avenue, a 12.4-kilometer stretch of road and still we have these reckless drivers. Mutual friends were also killed similarly on Valentines day leaving her young teens in shock.

How ironical that three days earlier, President Aquino supported a global campaign to improve road safety for the next 10 years by issuing Proclamation 159.

Will another death bring about a massive road safety campaign in this “killer highway” and then become “ningas cogon” in the end?

Chit loved horoscopes. “Her husband, Roland Simbulan recalled his wife’s horoscope (for the zodiac sign Leo) on the day she died: Something will happen today that is not only evolutionary but revolutionary, and will be life-changing.

Perhaps Chit’s death will reminds us that we are still alive to carry out some purpose that we ought to re-examine. As she told one of her students, “I hope you will use your skills to turn this country upside down.”

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Remember the Cat Killer that I wrote on April 17, 2009? Wow, that was two years ago. Instead of sentencing him to six months to two-year jail term as mandated by law, Judge Catherine Manodon ordered Candare to pay a P2,000 fine (46 dollars) for violating the country’s Animal Welfare Act. He will also do volunteer work for Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in the next two to six months. Candare is the first person in the country to be convicted of animal cruelty.

Two years ago , I was beyond horrified that someone could engage in a brutal act. I gasped at his description, I pulled it on its tail and threw it. Then like some pro wrestler I jumped on it and my feet landed on it’s torso. Slam! Felt good!. But as I continued reading, I got more appalled by the comments of the readers as the poster/blogger called for action ““Wanted Dead or Alive”“. Geesh, what kind of call for action is that? You might be a ““Cat Killer Killer”?

Both sides were just so cruel. I believe he needed help and compassion by the agencies concerned not a lynch mob approach.

A parent by the name of Cyn Buhain Baello is appalled at my “compassion” without even reading the context of my article on the Cat Killer

Have compassion for a man like Joseph Carlo Candare? A person like him who kills a cat for no reason other than for his enjoyment? He is a sadistic psychologically disturbed individual! What are you saying here?!? I am appalled at your misdirected “compassion”! For a parent like me I think his parents should teach him this early that such actions will only deteriorate later to physical injury (or murder) directed towards human beings – that’s the first sign that a man is crazy and can kill…even people. To even suggest “compassion” and “understanding” (Nonsense!) on your part means you tolerate these kind of behavior. This guy need jail time and he deserves every minute of it – 6 months to 6 years![/buzz]

My reply to Cyn was this “You are an amazing parent. But I am not you. A parent like me would want the kid to have therapy . Not all parents are like you who can teach their kids the proper way. Yes I suggest compassion and understanding for him to be rehabilitated. What can jail time do huh?”

Was the punishment just? I don’t know how Courts determine the degree of the judgement. There must be a formula or something but one can see Candare did violate the law on animal welfare. He is the first person to be convicted of animal cruelty in the Philippines. Something must have triggered him to enjoy killing the cat. Rendering community work with Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and seeing the psychologist will help him heal.

Tweeters were disappointed that the conviction was light. I think it is light too. It is not grave enough. Community service should have been longer. Some feel a jail time should have been given. Instead of jail time, I was hoping he underwent therapy to treat the underlying cause of his cruelty. The good news here is the court decision will raise awareness to our animal welfare laws .

Be kind to animals.

See what others thought:

Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime. –Herbert Ward

Remember the child abuse complaint filed against Willie Revillame two weeks ago? I am one of the co-complainants from the third suit filed by concerned citizens that includes Froilan Grate, Peachy Bretana, , and Fr. Robert Reyes. Yesterday was the first preliminary hearing of the the three child abuse charges against Willie Revillame. You can read more about the details here.

Of course, my husband was willing to be my lawyer. This is the first time my husband will act as my lawyer (and of the three other complainants) and this will certainly be interesting.

Apparently, Willie Revillame will be back on air this Saturday, May 14, with a new, refurbished offering. TV5 announced that Willie’s show will have a new title “Wil Time Bigtime,” which will occupy the timeslot of its predecessor, “Willing Willie.” MTRCB decision, page 8, under PENALTIES states that Willing Willie and any program created in its stead with the same format and genre is to be put on a per broadcast permit basis. That means the new refurbished show will still be closely monitored by MTRCB.

I am optimistic the justice system will act on our child abuse complaints and decide within 60 days whether our complaints will go to trial.

So you ask why am I doing this? Bob Ney explains it well. There “is nothing more vicious and outrageous than the abuse, exploitation and harm of the most vulnerable members of our society, and I firmly believe that our nation’s laws and resources need to reflect the seriousness of these terrible crimes.” Andrea Ingram adds that “it is not surprising that we need to do more. I mean, this is child abuse. There is always more to be done.”

“The stigma of child abuse is still apparent here. (It’s) kind of like the road less traveled. Turns out it was the road all of us should have been taking all along. ~ Cindy Winstead

“Forgiveness means that we are not going to allow the experiences of the past to dominate our future”

Photo Credit

How often have our loved ones hurt us to the point of saying “I will never forgive ____”? Well, I haven’t ever said that but I did hear others say such line. Being unforgiving carries so much burden to the body, creating undue stress to the heart. Of course, I am often faced with “I’m sorry” now and then but I always take apologies with a grain of salt. Being sorry means not doing the same mistakes over and over again.

I think about forgiveness today because my friend Carlos Celdran is facing trial for allegedly violating Act No. 3815 Section 4 Article 133 of the Revised Penal code. The Church did not drop charges on “Offending the religious feelings” and chose to place Carlos on trial. Perhaps to punish him and teach him a lesson. Make him suffer for his alleged crime. For how long?

Carlos said “the Church is not forgiving me…” Most of us in Twitter felt the Church is quite hypocritical coming from a religion preaching about love and forgiveness. The same church that does nothing to children abused by priests. The church decision to pursue the case speaks much of how they all talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk!

So I am now wondering why can’t the Church forgive Carlos? I will never know what the Church thinks. I am not quite happy with certain sectors of the Catholic Church right now.

I would want to remind the church that forgiveness is not avoidance.

Forgiveness is not merely a soft attitude toward a harsh fact; forgiveness is the vital action of love, seeking to restore the harmony that has been shattered.

Forgiveness is not excusing.

Forgiveness is not denying that the one who has caused the hurt is responsible for their actions. There is a place for making allowances for people’s behaviour.

It is hard for me to hold grudges and that is one reason I am a forgiving person. Though I would forgive a person a number of times, I believe in boundaries. I’d never give anyone the opportunity to hurt me over and over again.

I feel the Church should have come up with a resolution that is acceptable to both sides. Then just let it go.

Letting go means that one is not going to allow the experiences of the past to dominate one’s future and to prevent one from becoming all that God has planned one should become. The Church clergy who were offended by Carlos actions may have unpleasant memories that are hard to forget .

There may well be memories we are unable to put out of mind, but we choose not to allow them to control our attitudes and behaviour in the future, even toward those who may be responsible for those memories.

The lessons of forgiveness holds true even in our personal lives. It does not come easy. In the end, we are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive.

It is a choice, a decision we make.

Have you forgiven someone today?


Here are the reactions on the church decision to pursue case against Carlos Celdran.