“I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?”
— Robert Redford

I just arrived from Vietnam for a media briefing on HP Closed Loop recycling. We all know recycling is a good thing to do. As a consumer, it makes me feel good to know not everything I consume goes to garbage.

Before the media briefing, I took my sweet time enjoying the beach in Da Nang. This quiet city is a refreshing respite from busy Manila.

It was a great opportunity to be together with media from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, China to witness the closed loop recycling in Lavergne ‘s Da Nang plant. Sometimes it is hard to believe that plastics can be recycled but yes, it can be done.

It is wonderful to see companies like HP that are doing it right now because all of this will have an accumulated effect on all of our tomorrows.

All these solid wastes are the discarded leftovers of our advanced consumer society. The billions upon billions of these wastes is mind boggling. This growing mountain of trash represents not only an attitude of indifference toward valuable natural resources, but also a serious economic and public health problem.

It is inevitable that destroying the ecosystem also destroy ourselves.

There we were at the plant to check on HP and Lavergne’s partnership on an industry-first ink cartridge disassembly machine, which can separate the plastic, foam, ink and metal components of returned cartridges more effectively and recover a higher percentage of re-usable content. It is the industry‘s first closed loop ink cartridge recycling process, combining plastic from post-consumer recycled Original HP Ink cartridges and other sources, such as recycled water and soda bottles, in the manufacturing of new Original HP Ink cartridges. It is estimated that this facility will reduce 6% in the plastic carbon footprint as soon as it is fully operational.

Imagine if every business can recycle their plastics?

Business is beautiful when it’s a vehicle for serving the common good of man and the environment. Wouldn’t it be great if we all help create an economic system that will respect and protect Mother Earth – one which would “replace corporate globalization with a global network of local living economies.”?

“Our choices at all levels—individual, community, corporate and government—affect nature. And they affect us.”
— David Suzuki

What could have possessed Anders Behring Breivik to kill innocent children? So many young children killed in Norway by just one person. Children, gone too soon. Unbelievable. Unimaginable. All children of someone who is now in pain. What is happening to the world?

Most of the bodies were found on Utoya island, where young people from the dominant Labor Party “had gathered for an annual camp. The suspect is Anders Behring Breivik, 32, a right-wing fundamentalist Christian, while acquaintances described him as a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration.”

Dressed as a police officer, he announced that he had come to check on the security of the young people who were attending a political summer camp there, many of them the children of members of the governing Labor Party.

He gathered the campers together and for some 90 hellish minutes he coolly and methodically shot them, hunting down those who fled. At least 85 people, some as young as 16, were killed.

The poor children must have been so frightened as the lone gunmen shot them one by one.

And the parents… this is a traumatic death. A sudden, traumatic death shattered the world of these parents and their loved ones. It is often a loss that does not make sense. I condole with the families and relatives of all the victims in the bomb blast and the parents of 92 or so children that were killed in the labor. This is just outrageous. There are no words to describe the actions of this lone killer.

Trying to make sense of or understand this tragedy can be difficult. Survivors are left asking “Why?” “Why did this happen?” . “Why” may be more than a question. It may be an agonizing cry for a heart-breaking loss, an expression of distress and bewilderment.

The traumatic nature of the loss is just too much to comprehend. There is a lot of discussion in twitter about the indifference of the deaths in Norway. A tweet says “it’s awful that Amy Winehouse is dead,but 90 children and teenagers were shot and killed in Norway, yet no one seems to care about that..” An angry tweeter says “Its shameful to see these idiots more concerned with a junkie than the innocent children who were killed in Norway. Sicko”.

It is understandable to be angry. But sometimes it is hard to grasp such traumatic losses. Each death is just as painful. Everyone must be allowed to grieve in their own way whether it be loss of Amy Winehouse or the children and other victims in Norway.

Rest in peace to the children of Norway killed in the shooting. Let me echo one tweeter as she says “May your memories live on as motivation for peace'”

“Over futile odds…and laughed at by the gods. And now the final frame. Love is a losing game” – Amy Winehouse, 2007.

Photo via mashable.com

Amy Winehouse is best known for her 2006 breakthrough album, Back to Black, the singer was known for her deep voice and brazen lyrics. Winehouse was 27. The troubled singer, has long struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, making many references to these struggles in her music. Her most popular songs include: ‘Valerie’, ‘You Know I’m no Good’, ‘Back to Black’, and ‘Rehab’

By coincidence, Jimi Hendrix, Jones, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse have one thing in common . They were all 27 years old . Actually, the one thing they have in common is sadly – drug abuse (if found that her death was due to it ). Oh Amy Winehouse. How sad. Unfortunately, the world lost such a talented woman to this powerful disease… addiction. She was not alone. Many others are like her , who struggle to fight this disease.

Amy Winehouse once said “I only write about stuff that’s happened to me, stuff I can’t get past personally. Luckily, I’m quite self-destructive.

Amy is now in peace.

As soon as Amy Winehouse’s death broke out, people expressed in social media their thoughts on the end of the young artist’s life.

I admire my husband, the father of my three beautiful children.  He loved taking care of our babies whenever he had the time. See, he was a law student for our first two babies. We both shared equal time in taking care of  them.  I share these heartwarming stories to my children about their dad who was very much a part of their development. Wasn’t it just yesterday that he held them in their arms?

It warmed my heart seeing my husband prance around the house with our babies cradled in his arms, rocking them to sleep in a playful, rhythmic fashion, or burping them after milk feeding. I am proud to say that even as first-time dad, he knew how to amuse our babies and, even changing diapers. He could do almost anything moms can do except breastfeeding and taking them a bath. He would have wanted to breast-feed if he could. Daddies are luckier or should I say more blessed these days. The internet is bursting with so much tips on taking care of a child. Sites like Pampers cover every aspect of taking care of babies and stages of their development.  More and more daddies are involved with their children’s development because of the availability of information at the tips of their hands.

Daddies are never left behind when it comes to participation of fun activities. Pampers Philippines Facebook started a trivia month with exciting prizes such as special Daddy-baby prize (photo session) and special toys that strengthen the bond of daddy and baby. I am pretty sure, daddies can do some research at the Pampers website to get the clues for the trivia questions.

Playing trivia is a fun and educational way to know more about our babies, their development and  the importance of family bonding moments. This is not just  about daddies. Learning about child development is for our babies. These are many ways that daddies can become a part of baby’s life.  It was my husband’s idea to read to our babies even if they were just months old.   My children’s lifelong love for reading is because of their dad . His ideas on child development were based   on his childhood memories but new parenting ideas came in with the shift of shared parenting.  Dads learn the essentials of child development not for his stock knowledge but to nurture a healthy child.  It is one reason I ordered child development books abroad because we wanted to learn what was best for our family. Our child’s healthy development depends on our ability to provide a safe and loving environment.  The children with a sound family background and who belong to a family with strong family ties are almost always happier. The importance of family life cannot be denied.

There is so much to explore and learn more with baby. Visit the Pampers Philippines Facebook page now!

This is a sponsored post for Pampers Trivia but all opinions on this entry are entirely my own.

Update– Read Chuvaness “Credibly Challenged” for photos of the alleged rape victim with some Azkals team members.

She seemed uncomfortable. Her eyes looked uneasy. Pia Guanio appeared just as uneasy as she probed answers from Amanda Coling, the alleged rape victim of 4 Azkals team members. As the interview continued, I felt like squirming on my chair. It felt painful to watch. Whose idea was it to show an alleged rape victim where no case has been filed yet? No formal charges have been filed against the Azkals members. Now Amanda Coling is the butt of jokes in Twitter, her name trending in Twitter worldwide ( at least for 90 minutes). I don’t feel comfortable with the interview because she did not issue a statement on TV. So what was the purpose of all this?

People in twitter think it is all for publicity. I feel she wants her job back and to clear her name. A few days ago she felt harassed about losing her job and on the interview, she felt upset. This is what she said two days ago.

““That’s [ejection from show] harassment. This is my job and I insisted that I’d be part of the show… I put my heart to it, I dedicated myself. All my efforts are nasayang lang kasi I’m not going to be part of it.”

One tweep is “not judging Amanda Coling. I just think she should just file the case and stop the interviews because it’s really not helping her any.” My friend thinks that the “biggest problem with this new trending topic is that it feeds into a meme that justice can only be had in a trial by publicity.” Another argues that ” her name was put out there, so she can’t hide. Appearing on TV was the right decision, to show the world she isn’t afraid.”

Allegations of fraud are hounding a German who accused 4 members of the Philippine Azkals national football team of raping a woman. It seems the source of the alleged rape is tainted.

Rape is a serious crime. True or not, I hope things are not exaggerated. My mom blogger friend “hopes this case (and the way people are reacting to it) doesn’t take away from the fact that rape is a violent criminal act. No means No.”

I hope she comes out with her official statement soon to set the record straight. One argued in Twitter that “If what she is saying is true, then Amanda Coling should take the stand in court. And when I say “court”, I dont mean “Showbiz Central”.” It is unfair for the Azkals, for her and other rape victims. And if she was indeed raped, I hope she files a case.

Meanwhile in Twitter, there are tweets who poke fun at her. A few are sympathetic but most are just skeptical.

“Though life is not as it was before,
And never will be again,
Our memories are much richer,
Than if love had never been.”
— Author Unknown

Luijoe would have been 18 years old yesterday (July 13) but in my mind and in my heart, he will always be that cute and impish six year old boy. I cannot imagine him as an 18 year old. I can only surmise he would be more handsome than his father with his dusky skin color and deep-set eyes. Would he have a girlfriend? Would he still be close to me? Would he be driving me around? I shake this thoughts off as I went through the day first tweeting about the Bishops’ appearance at the Senate and making plans for the rest of the day.

His 18th birth anniversary is celebrated just like any family celebration with a cake, simple lunch or dinner with noodles for long life. Yes, Luijoe is still very much a part of the family. It was lunch at a Thai restaurant. The only difference is we bought flowers at our suki in Market Market. Bringing a bag of candles, lavender incense and folding chairs, my husband and I placed a basket of flowers at his resting place. A tear glistened on one eye as a wave of memories suddenly flashed before me. I ponder at how I survived the past 11 years . As I always say, it is unimaginable. I managed to survive the unthinkable. I share these reflections to those that have lost a child, or even a loved one on how time eased the pain.

““Time marches on” is the old cliché. It does march on with fury and determination, but some things stay the same. Luijoe’s seat is still empty at the dinner table. His bed (yes we still have a room for him) is still not slept in. The sound of Luijoe’s laughter is only in our memories. His photo is framed beside our family gallery but it stays the same while everyone else’s ages. But time marches on no matter how much we wish we could go back in time to the days when these were common occurrences.

““Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Theresa

I managed to move along with time. In the early days it was a real conscious struggle to keep my friends. I like it when friends mention my son’s name: Luijoe.

Even if the name is mentioned in Twitter. They touch my heart in that “special place” where Luijoe is alive. They validate my child’s existence. To have someone mention our child is truly a gift to a bereaved parent like myself.

Yes , I still may cry a bit on his birthday, as I long for the sight of my beautiful son but I also know that now more of those tears will be for the joy of knowing him.

Let me share this tribute from Nancy Rothstein to commemorate the 21st birthday of her son, Josh, who was tragically killed when he was 15.

To treasured family, friends and all with whom this message is shared, may we continue to honor Luijoe by celebrating life:

1. Smile. Smiling makes you and those around you feel good. If you don’t feel good, a smile can trick your brain into feeling better.

2. Eat ice cream.

3. Run on the beach. If you can’t physically do this, use your imagination.

4. Call someone who is ill or lonely. Listen to their story. Take the time. Tell them your story, if they ask.

5. Listen to music that touches your heart and soul.

6. Sing in the shower, or out loud if you are comfortable.

7. Visit the grave of a loved one and celebrate your continued BREATH. And tell your loved one what’s on your mind.

8. Play with a dog.

9. Thank yourself for putting up with all the things about yourself that drive you nuts! Activate your sense of humor!

10. Apologize to someone you have wronged in any way.

11. Take a day, or even a few hours, ““off” to do something you always want to do but never take the time to do.

12. Eat something you never indulge in (unless allergic!) and savor every bite….slowly. No guilt permitted!

13. Re-watch your favorite funny or happy movie in your most comfortable clothes.

14. Make plans with 2 friends that you are crazy about but never see…near or far away.

15. Go outdoors to a natural setting. Sit. Close your eyes. Listen to the world. It’s all an extension of you! Your breath connects you intrinsically to the world.

16. Laugh. Do something fun or silly that evokes laughter. It has been said that laughter is God’s sunshine.

17. Place this list in an envelope and revisit it periodically to see how you are celebrating YOURSELF! If you are good to yourself, you can be much better to those around you.

18. Go to your heart and make all your decisions from there; and all will be well.

19. Follow the path that matters.

20. Believe and feel the change you want to see and you will BE the change you envision.

21. ….Yet you must know that in the end, it is LOVE’s garden you must tend.

“Most bloggers who rise above the clutter are quite often prolific . They work hard, not just writing content but networking, engaging in Social Media and more.” Darren Rowse, problogger.net

Let’s face it . Social Media is pretty much a part of our lives. Whether one is young or prime time like me, those social media tools catch up on us. Don’t you find yourselves speaking social media lingo without even knowing it at times? After a photo shoot, you can hear your friend say “tag me in facebook, okay?”. Soon it will be “google plus” me later.

There is nothing like bringing one’s online community offline. This is what we did for Blog Watch , our citizen journalism community. Social Media day was last June 30 and we completely forgot to make plans for the day. Well, it is never too late to celebrate it and make plans for the future.

Blog Watch has been around since September 2009, almost two years now . We are slowly making our mark in digital activism and it is about time to expand our coverage and reach out to more netizens .

I barely write about it in this blog since the time my presidential candidate lost. You will recall Blog Watch introduced live streaming in its citizen media coverage . We were the first to use curation tools such as storify.net to gather news from different social media sources.

  1. Interviewed seven (7) presidential candidates in the May 10, 2010 elections
  2. Interviewed some senatorial candidates, congressional candidates and a few local candidates
  3. Covered the first Inaugural of President Aquino, first media coverage of the Aquino administration
  4. Stories that traditional media picked up from our twitter timeline and that first broke off in Twitter

There are many lessons and quotes in social media I learned in the last two years especially in Twitter. Starting out with only 500 followers in September 2009, I now have 7100 plus followers because they wanted to hear about news not found in tri-media. Compared to big media networks and celebrities, the number is a drop in the bucket. The numbers do not matter. Let me tell you how it is.

1. Influence is not about popularity.

2. It is not the number of followers or fans that matters. Think about what to achieve with and through the community who cares about your goals.

3. “Facebook is for people you used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know.” Author Unknown

4. Find the key issues that concern your audience and this will easily get them to be engaged with you. “You are what you tweet.” – Alex Tew

5. Credibility is all you’ve got. Be consistent and fair.
Nils Montan says “ATA be AUTHENCTIC, be TRANSPARENT, be ALTRUISTIC, and you will find enough success in Social Media to have a satisfying career and experience.”

6. “Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.” Jay Baer
Be conversational, engaged and true to yourself.

7. “Build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay”. Seth Godin

It is great to be in a community composed of people with diverse interests yet share a love of country , and trying to make President Aquino’s administration succeed. Social media is just a tool we use to achieve this.

“Live to Love and Love to Live! Relationship is everything in the Social Media world”

July 4 marked Philippine Independence day at one point in my childhood days. The move to June 12 confused me for some time until I knew more about Philippine history.

I pondered over Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. remarks at the US Independence day celebration held at the US Embassy reception hall.

Today we celebrate not only the birth of the United States as a nation, but also Philippine-American Friendship. This is a special day when we remember our history and our duty; our families, near and far; and our responsibilities as Americans at home and abroad. In other words, it’s a day when we reflect on what it truly means to be an American.

We, Filipinos are connected to the Americans in many ways. US is home to many Filipinos. Most of us have relatives or friends living in the US.

I reflect about being a Filipino with family members who are American citizens and doing quite well in the US. My younger sister , recently got appointed as the Mayor of the City of Hercules, CA. My brother is a neurologist in Missouri and got awarded as the best teacher by his students. My eldest sister, Lorna works with the Filipino-American community. They have their reasons for choosing to live in America just as I have reasons to remain a Filipino citizen living in the Philippines.

July 4 is meaningful to three family members out of 5 siblings who have made America their permanent residence. It makes sense for my sister and myself to travel to the USA for family reunions and hold board meetings.

I do not know what it means to be an American. The friendships and family ties between Filipinos and Americans are close to my heart. I may never understand what it means to be an American but I see it in the actions that my family members give back to America and the Philippines. It has been said that it is the love of country that lights and keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism.

Ambassador Thomas adds what it means to be a friend to the Philippines. ” We are powered by our relationships—by our friendship with great nations like the Philippines, with whom we share historic ties and strong bonds of friendship and family. We are driven by our commitment to liberty and our knowledge that our friends are entitled to our protection and our loyalty when they are in peril. We are powered by our devotion to peace, and our drive to find solutions, not divisions.”

US Independence day celebration spent yesterday night at the US embassy gave me an insight on how best to commemorate Freedom day. With tents on the embassy grounds, it felt like one huge party with red-white and blue decors. “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism “, Erma Bombeck once said.

I definitely agree with Ambassador Thomas as he closes his speech by asking everyone “to recognize that what truly defines us as Americans and as Filipinos is not the ability to stand for one ideal or value, but to work together for a better tomorrow for all of our children and grandchildren. ”

For the love of my children and children’s children, I will always strive to be an empowered Filipino citizen and hope for a better tomorrow for our cuontry.