“It’s a useless life that is not concentrated to a great ideal. It’s like a stone wasted on the field without becoming a part of any edifice.” Jose Rizal

I braved the rains and drove all the way to Fort Santiago in my period costume to celebrate Jose Rizal’s 150th birthday. Celebrating Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary is not just a one day affair or even a year-long sesquicentennial festivities.

The organizers decided to call this celebration ““MY RIZAL” as it “engages all of us to be a part of what JOSE RIZAL stood for. It invites us to internalize a version of RIZAL in our own personal lives. It inspires us to feel the hero in each one of us, and to follow RIZAL’s footsteps in his true love for country.”

I look at the Rizal in me. Just like some of the bloggers and social media users that joined me in Fort Santiago, each of us have our own advocacy and ideals.

In my role as a blogger and editor of Blog Watch, I call out the societal evils such as environmental destruction and child abuse. I hold President Aquino accountable for his campaign promises. I believe in the promise and unwavering passion of the youth. I am sure Jose Rizal will also fight for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill).

Most of all, love of country is what I am fighting for. Who wouldn’t want a good future for their children, and children’s children. I still cannot understand why corrupt officials exist. Why do they think only of themselves? It is a long and difficult road to fighting corruption and poverty. But if we call upon ourselves to check our government and talk about it, we have gained something.

Rizal’s ideals, as exemplified by his life, his works and his heroism, are universal. They live in each one of us in many ways.

We can live Rizal now.

“Filipinos don’t realize that victory is the child of struggle, that joy blossoms from suffering, and redemption is a product of sacrifice.”- Jose Rizal

My 54th birthday happened three days ago but I only made my birthday wish yesterday night. I wished for good health , love and peace. Something I always do every year. Hope springs eternal. It is good to be thankful for what I have in life and what I have accomplished.

As I get older and wiser (of course), I look at my birthday as a chance to celebrate and give gratitude , to reflect upon how I have been achieving my mission in life. It is one reason I spent the past few days attending meaningful events that matter to me.

““Love is what matters; gender is not important” gives an important message for all LGBT people at the reception dinner in honor of LGBT Pride Month hosted by US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr.

“One Mission. One Planet. Change for the future begins with seven thousand” the goal of Project 7000.

There is no better way to celebrate my birthday than to commit a special act of goodness. It is not enough for me to say ” Thank you for another year in life” . This year I will continue what I have been accomplishing the past years but this time I will do something different, something that I have never done last year , that is to be part of the advocacy in protecting our environment. It is wonderful to do good but more than that, this is my way of expressing my thanks for being born and alive. What is life without a healthy place to live in? How worthy are my causes if my children and their children won’t have a nurturing environment?

I hope you can all join me celebrate life by making a pledge to this new initiative Project 7000. which I am part of.

One Mission. One Planet. Change for the future begins with seven thousand.

Please join me as we make a pledge to protect our environment. It starts with a single pledge that is lived and shared with others to create a change for a promising future. Our journey begins now.

Second photo by Lazlo Lim.

We are all different, but we must embrace and respect our differences. We must come together through the very emotion that makes us human: love. US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr.at at the LGBT Pride Month Reception

What a long but productive day. I treated my family for lunch in celebration of my 54th birthday because I wanted to attend the dinner reception of US Ambassador Henry K. Thomas Jr. in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month in the USA. President Barrack Obama proclaimed June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. It is about time our country also take initiative to stop the hate and homophobic attitude. Last year, I was shocked and saddened by the suicides by young American kids who were bullied for being gay. I often wonder the extent of our Filipino LGBT kids who suffer bullying. Is our school system supportive? Is our society even supportive?

The US administration is taking steps to engage with LGBT communities even outside the USA. The Philippines can certainly learn a thing or two here.

The message is important. The Ambassador started off his speech with “I am gay.

I am gay.

I am gay.

Three little words.

Six letters.

Three syllables.

It is not a phrase that trips the tongue. It is not a phrase that should take lifetimes to utter.”

One need not be ashamed to say if one is gay, or lesbian . There is no need for condemnation. There has been so much discrimination on the basis of gender identity and bullying on young LGBT kids. President Obama adds that ” No one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love, and my Administration has mobilized unprecedented public commitments from countries around the world to join in the fight against hate and homophobia.”

I cannot imagine how many LGBT kids and teens hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. “Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can’t imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted — even tortured — simply for being themselves.”

I approached the ambassador for a photo op after the reception. After all, I gave up dinner celebration to attend his reception at his Makati residence. Ambassador Thomas laughed at my request and thought I should have given a dinner blowout instead of him.

But guess what? I celebrated with Melo Esguerra whose birthday is also June 14 and Harold Geronimo who celebrated a day before.

Now lying in bed, I read through the message of President Obama and searched for more information on US support of LGBT. What struck me most is the “It gets better project”. While many of these teens couldn’t see a positive future for themselves the, “It Gets Better Project” was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years.

Maybe one day, a similar initiative can be organized to help our LGBT kids and remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.

No one ever really dies as long as they took the time to leave us with fond memories. ~Chris Sorensen

Rina used to baby sit my daughter since we were neighbors anyway.

When death comes without warning, the shock and disbelief can be overwhelming. When I received the news of my first cousin’s death a week ago. I just had to make sure my aunt sent me the message correctly. It was a sudden death. Rina is one of my closest cousins despite the eight year age gap. We were neighbors for 18 years before moving to Makati in 1998. The circumstances behind her death is a mystery which will soon unfold a few weeks from now.

At the memorial, one of her friends shared that she was afraid that her family will forget her memory. Rina need not worry about that. Death may have taken her away but the love and memory remains forever in our hearts and mind.

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ”

My cousin with her mom and sister during my Silver wedding celebration May 2010

The memory of her sweet smiles and laughter will always have a place in my heart. It is this same memory that causes so much pain in our hearts when someone we love dies. As Kahlil Gibran said “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ”

In time, all those Rina left behind will discover that grief is the price we pay for love. We will then find comfort on those precious memories and cherish them. Remember first that Rina lived, not that she died. I want to remember her life, not just her death!

But yes, it is okay to cry. It does relieve the pain. One should never be afraid to cry. Remember there would be no flowers unless there was some rain.

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

~Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground”

““I have always loved the beach. The smell of the salty water, the wind in my face, the gentle roar of the waves all combine to create a sense of peace and calm.” –Anonymous

I grew up in Cebu, surrounded by blue skies, sunny smiles and the deep blue sea. The beach was always a family activity every weekend. No ritzy mall or entertainment centers during my childhood days circa early 1960 to distract me. The picnic by the sea is what I called fun. Mom prepared a picnic basket containing our lunch of roasted chicken and apple pie and it was off to the most popular beach destination, Talisay just 20 minutes away.

There was just something magical at the beach. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. It is as if I live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun. The beach is probably the only place children actually entertain themselves without parents having to think of million ways to distract them.

Perhaps my dad noticed these frequent trips and decided to buy a small property near the beach in Talisay and in Mactan Island. How we loved the bahay kubo nestled under the coconut tree.

College years brought me further away from Cebu. Being based in Manila, the beach was just too far away to travel even once a month. I miss the memories of joy in a summer breeze and sinking my toes in the sand.

I often tell my children these stories ..how as college students, we would just get to the car and travel to the beach. The pretty little fishes swimming by the sea shore. How fascinating it was to spot the sea horse or sand dollar during low tides.

Everyone in our family returns to the beach instinctively, just like the sea turtles. Robert Henri asks himself, ““Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.”

Each one of us looks at the sea differently. For me, the sea represents my roots. Appreciating its beauty, breadth and power is appreciating my existence, who I am and why I am here. Like the ocean, all of us are connected and interdependent yet each person is significant in its existence. Even John F. Kennedy felt tied to the ocean. “And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came… ”

““Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me.”
–Albert Schweitzer

““We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
–Mother Teresa

Photo of El Nido by Anna Oposa

““Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.”

Let us all act now to save our seas, what’s left of our coral reefs and to protect our marine life so those beautiful and important natural resources are preserved for our children and future generations to enjoy.

Join Blog Action Day on June 8. Details here.
Save the Philippine Seas!
The ocean is a mighty harmonist… (William Wordsworth)

My husband watching a boy picking sea shells by the beach front in Boracay. I knew he was thinking of Luijoe.

A few days before our trip to Boracay, I wrote a A letter to my son in heaven on his Angel date, May 27. This recent vacation to Boracay affirms that our son is closer to us than ever before. He has been beside us all these years.

Let me share one of the first grief poems a few weeks after we buried Luijoe. After all the friends have condoled with you, one is left alone to grieve. Now reading this “A letter from heaven” poem eleven years after his death, I see the words that inspired me to move on with my new life. I forgot all about this poem. These words may have been subliminal but it played a big role in my healing journey. If you have lost a child, this poem may give you some measure of comfort. The words didn’t really strike a chord at first. I remember wailing “but I want my Luijoe here beside me, bugging me with his toys.”

Just keep reading this “A letter from heaven” until it becomes part of your process.

And so, as I contemplate the western horizon of my life, I think of my son with exquisite sadness and profound gratitude. He evoked in me a capacity for love I did not know I had. Those feelings did not die with him, nor will they, I pray, die with me. – Gordon Livingston

A Letter from Heaven

Playing with sand, an hour before Luijoe went to heaven

To my dearest family
Some things I’d like to say,
But first of all to let you know
That I arrived okay.

I’m writing you from Heaven
Where I dwell with God above,
Where there’s no more tears or sadness
There is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy
Just because I’m out of sight,
Remember that I’m with you
Every morning, noon, and night.

Luijoe staring at the small fishes by the shore.

That day I had to leave you
When my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me
And He said, “I welcome you”.

“It’s good to have you back again
You were missed while you were gone,
As for your dearest family
They’ll be here later on.”

“I need you here so badly
As part of My big plan,
There’s so much that we have to do
To help our mortal man.”

The task we face is to create with our new selves something that, in some measure redeems our suffering.

Then God gave me a list of things
He wished for me to do,
And foremost on that list of mine
Is to watch and care for you.

And I will be beside you
Every day and week and year,
And when you’re sad I’m standing there
To wipe away that tear.

And when you lie in bed at night
The days chores put to flight,
God and I are closest to you
In the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth
And all those loving years,
Because you’re only human
They are bound to bring you tears.

But do not be afraid to cry
It does relieve the pain,
Remember there would be no flowers
Unless there was some rain.

My husband and Luijoe by the sea just a few hours before Luijoe went to heaven.

I wish that I could tell you
Of all that God has planned,
But if I were to tell you
You wouldn’t understand.

But one thing is for certain
Though my life on earth is o’er,
I am closer to you now
Than I ever was before.

And to my very dearest friends
Trust God for He knows best,
I’m still not far away from you
I’m just beyond the crest.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you
And many hills to climb,
But together we can do it
Taking one day at a time.

It was always my philosophy
And I’d like it for you too,
That as you give unto the world
So the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody
Who’s in sorrow or in pain,
Then you can say to God at night
My day was not in vain.

And now I am contented
That my life… it was worthwhile,
Knowing as I passed along the way
I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody
Who is down and feeling low,
Just lend a hand to pick him up
As on your way you go.

We have been humbled but not broken.

When you are walking down the street
And you’ve got me on your mind,
I’m walking in your footsteps
Only half a step behind.

And when you feel that gentle breeze
Or the wind upon your face,
That’s me giving you a great big hug
Or just a soft embrace.

And when it’s time for you to go
From that body to be free,
Remember you’re not going…
You are coming here to me!

And I will always love you
From that land way up above,
I’ll be in touch again soon
P.S….God sends His love.

I am so sorry….but, remember….God knows best!
My prayers and thoughts are with you always.
I love you more than you will ever know
(Unknown author)

We see, always with longing, children who remind us of what our child was or would be now.

““I have always loved the beach. The smell of the salty water, the wind in my face, the gentle roar of the waves all combine to create a sense of peace and calm.”


Our second day in Boracay. An island hopping is something I wanted Butch to experience including snorkeling and helmet diving. Wearing a life vest for protection since the “habagat” suddenly came. Still, it was fun. We ran into Pacman’s alleged beach resort called Boracay West Cove, an abomination (read more about Manny Pacquiao alleged Boracay West Cove’s lounge sits on top of cemented age old rock formations

(See more photos of Manny Pacquiao alleged Boracay West Cove’s lounge sits on top of cemented age old rock formations)

…to be continued….internet so slow here