I am fascinated with native Australian animals. I know this peculiarity has something to do with its location in the Southern hemisphere. The best place to see these animals is Healesville , well known for the Healesville Sanctuary, a nature park with hundreds of native Australian animals displayed in a semi-open natural setting. My daughter and I spent most of Sunday here at the park.

I adored the koala, the wallaby, the dingo and I even chilled with Josie, the kangaroo. There was a wombat but he was at the Healesville Health Centre for observation. Lucifer , the Tasmanian devil kept hiding but I managed to spot him towards the end of our sunday stroll.

Much of what is now Healesville lies on the ancestral land of the Wurundjeri people.

A dingo is fascinating. Is it a wolf or a dog? Dingoes have three basic forms of howling (moans, bark-howl, and snuffs) with at least 10 variations.

Watching a dingo. Villain or victim? Controversy has surrounded the Dingo in Australia but new research suggests that this iconic predator could be an ecological saviour and help to restore the natural order of the Australian bush.

The Australian Wildlife Health Centre at Healesville Sanctuary treats sick and injured animals.

A wombat is being taken cared of at the centre. Aside from treatment to the sick animals, the centre provides vital veterinary support for Healesville Sanctuary’s threatened species conservation programs, conducts cutting-edge wildlife conservation research, and is an important centre for wildlife disease surveillance.

Watching the Koalas eating Eucalyptus is so enjoyable.

So cute to watch the koala recline and enjoy his meal of leaves from eucalyptus trees. There are about 750 species of eucalyptus but these cute koalas find 60 of them tasty to their palate.

The Koala knows he is cute and stares at the ooglers so they can take a shot at him.

The highlight of the day was a magic moment with the red kangaroos where we are allowed to feed them. We are only allowed to feed the female red kangaroos because the males can be quite aggressive. They also have larger claws.

As I took photos of my daughter, Josie sniffs at my direction because I had carrots wrapped on my left hand. It wasn’t my turn yet to feed them.

The kangaroo keeper briefed us on how to feed the kangaroos. The carrots should be placed flat on the palms and almost ground level. Crystal takes some carrots on my daughter’s palm while Josie insists on the carrots still clenched on my hands.

It is now my turn to feed Josie. I didn’t realize how eager she was to eat carrots and points to my clenched hand.

I didn’t want to give all the carrots at once so I had them on my left hand. Josie insisted on getting all of them so sniffs at my hands which I had pressed against my chest.

Ouch. I refuse to give the carrots all at once so she sort of claws off my hand.

The keeper reminds us to pat the kangaroo at their back not on the head like we do with dogs. Next to cats, their fur are just as soft. Joise is the oldest kangaroo at 16 years old and is almost blind. Maybe that is why she goes by her sense of smell to badger me with food.

There are other native Australian birds which are just so lovely to watch.

A yellow robin sitting comfortably on its nest.

A barn owl

I think these are pelicans. There is a fishy smell in this lake.

Lucifer, the Tasmanian devil is hard to take photos. He darts in and out. This iconic Australian animal is now under serious threat from the Devil Facial Tumour Disease, a fatal and contagious condition that is spreading through wild populations. Healesville Sanctuary is part of a breeding program to maintain a healthy population.

There is just so much to do at the Healsville sanctuary but it was a great learning experience to see them up close. A sunday stroll with Australian animals is best explored with little children. I loved watching their squeals of delight. I may not be with little kids but my adult daughter is quite an experience too especially since she knows more about animals than I do.

Most of the photos attributed to my daughter using the Nikon D7000. Some are from my iPhone

A woman is the full circle.
Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform. ~ Diane Mariechild ~

Rica and I go back when we were little kids romping around the school grounds of St. Theresa’s College Cebu. I thought we graduated in the same high school. It dawned on me that we had not seen each other for the last forty years but I remember her so well. Childhood memories can be so vivid. My memory fails me now but I knew there was something we had shared together in the past.

Rica is somewhere to the left and I am somewhere to the right

Thanks to Facebook, Rica found me at about the time I made plans to visit my daughter in Melbourne. What a treat I had the other day. There were just so many things to catch up. Memories to unravel. Amidst the sights and sounds of Melbourne, our stories unfolded. True, our memories may fail us now but our hearts remember as we spent the day together.

A cruise along the Yarra river of Melbourne.

Seeing Melbourne’s development.

Catching sight of the penguins by the rock.

Having lunch by the South bank

Stop to smell the flowers

It is good to wake up and smell the flowers while listening to classical music.

The stroll to the Fitzroy gardens stirred a memory.

I turned to Rica “Weren’t we mediocre students?” We laughed together, remarking how silly we were for not studying hard enough.

There you go, we had something in common back when we were little kid but not today. Rica and I evolved from being mediocre to doing what we love best. Something in her life touched me which I will just keep to myself.

Her sculpture “Joyfully Onwards and Upwards” won first prize for the amateur division. Amazing! Rica reminded me “Amatuer”. Still, I would never be able to sculpt like that. I never knew she had artistic talents. It must have been a latent gift.

We talked about the symbolism of her sculpture. It reminds me of the struggle to pass the Reproductive Health bill. Women need to have choices. Rica believes that women can empower themselves to go outwardly and move up. Both of us believe that one has to honor and treating ourselves with respect so that we set the stage up for others to treat us with respect. The sculpture also reminds me of the lives and passion we have chosen. Rica, on paying forward by helping women get an education.

I too believe that women need to challenge themselves. Margaret Sanger once said “Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.” It can come in art, writing, advocacy, business or anything that she can be.

I asked if I could use the image of her sculpture so I could show to the world about the potential of women, that it is never too late to get out of mediocrity no matter the age or circumstance. I wanted to sit down at the hotel and write about my day with Rica.

But guess what? Rica got to me first. She painted this and entitled it “Noemi”. I am so honored.

She did this for me. I felt a tug in my heart. My heart can only sing praises she will never hear.

I wonder how she painted this. All I know is splatter paint. In her facebook note, she added this “piece will always remind me of your beautiful and lovely personality.. it connotes warmth and vibrance. I love your story and what you have done with your life.”

I don’t know who deserves the title of a “a very beautiful and warm person” . I know we all have that capacity.

Oh yes we can, “joyfully Onwards and Upwards”.

I love you Rica. Thank you for a wonderful day. Till we meet again.

It is my third day in Australia and my daughter took a day off from work to give me a treat to the Great Ocean Road. I didn’t expect much from day tours. They can be boring but the itinerary was exciting . It helped that Ash, our Aussie tour guide/driver was so funny. The Great Ocean Road is a 243-kilometre (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Warrnambool. I didn’t expect to see so much from black swans, the lazy koala resting on the eucalyptus branches and a Lory that perched on my shoulder at the Kennet Park

The sight along the route is picture pretty, from cows to sheeps. The road traverses rainforests, as well as beaches and cliffs composed of limestone and sandstone, which is susceptible to erosion.The road travels via Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay, and Port Campbell, the latter being notable for its natural limestone and sandstone rock formations including Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto, London Arch and The Twelve Apostles.

Kennett Park

Bells Beach

A lighthouse

First time to see black swans

Entrance to the Great Ocean Road

A lazy koala at the Kennett Park

Still at Kennett Park

Many Lory birds

Spotted a koala who just woke up

At the rainforest

12 Apostles and now just 8 left are left.

Just beautiful to watch! Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations.

Just 10 minutes from the Twelve Apostles, this place was named after a clipper ship Loch Ard which was wrecked on a nearby Muttonbird Island after a 3-month journey from England to Melbourne. The amazing thing was only 2 survivors made it out of the 51 people on board

The London Bridge now named as the London Arch

Thank you M for such a lovely day. The 12 hours though tiring was worth the ride.

And of course Ash, our wacky tourist guide.

Most photos by my daughter using a Nikon D7000.

The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The brouhaha of the alleged child abuse committed by Willie Revillame and the filing of a child abuse complaint at the fiscal paved the way for the approval of an important legislation that will protect the rights of children against abuse. The bill, ““An Act Promoting Positive and Non-violent Discipline of Children” authored by Reps. Susan Yap and Bernadette Herrera-D was approved in the House of Representatives on 3rd and final reading last April, the month of the Willie Revillame brouhaha.

Perhaps it was the public awareness over child abuse issues that awakened the minds of our dear legislators.

Now comes the President with good news. The President issued Executive Order No.53 that strengthens the government initiatives for children’s protection from different forms of abuse — physical, sexual, prostitution, child labor, neglect and other relevant forms of violations. This EO 53 is created to amend the existing Executive Order No. 275 that was issued in 1995 and formed the Committee for the Special Protection of Children (CSPC).

Under the new EO, President Aquino organized CSPC, an inter-agency body that directly acts and coordinates with different agencies for the precise implementation of Republic Act 7610, also known as the Anti-Child Abuse Act.

This also directs monitoring of investigation and prosecution of cases that violate the Anti-Child Abuse Act and other child-related criminal laws.

That is certainly good news from President Aquino’s government. On my Human Rights day article “Who will speak for the children?”, I hoped that a clear agenda pertaining to Filipino children’s welfare will be established by the President.

I am grateful that our president took time to strengthen the law against child abuse that includes child labor; children-victims of sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation; abandoned and neglected or children without primary caregivers; children of indigenous cultural groups; child-victims of disasters; children in situations of armed conflict; street children; and, children in conflict with the law.

This is just the first step toward the shift of cultural and generational ways of child care. These are the future citizens of our country that offer hope. As Gandhi once said “if we are ever to have real peace in this world we shall have to begin with the children. ” If we don’t stand up for our children, then we don’t stand for much.

You and I must all contribute to make the world worthy of its children.

Set the bar higher. It’s not about lists and numbers, it’s about actions. And popularity does not mean influence, at least not anymore. -Lauren fisher

I am a finalist in two categories. If you think I deserve to win, then please vote for me…via this link http://tattoo.globe.com.ph/tattawards/vote

What can I say? I believe in awards for the recognition because it makes the advocacy easier to reach a wider audience. Last August 10, I found out that I am a finalist as an individual for two categories : The One (the top award) and The Ball breaker. My work speaks for itself. I will continue to do so till my last breath. It is my passion doing what I love best. The prize money will go a long way to fund writing grants to bloggers and other social media users to promote their own advocacy and post it in Blog Watch , a citizen media portal.

Win or lose, I will continue what I love doing best.

What is “The One”?

The Globe Tatt Awards site describe it this way:

The most influential trendsetter that shaped opinion, moved people, and ultimately starting fire in Philippine internet. This person is ahead of the pack in terms of online popularity and content. S/he may come from any background and engages on any platform. S/he can have one channel of engagement or an ecosystem of social media channels that you handle under your brand or name.

And what is the Ballbreaker?

For the opinion that launched tons of comments or retweets, from the person with so much balls to make that legendary post in the first place. S/he should be a blogger or a Twitter user who started a debate or revolution of opinions with just one (1) hard-hitting post. Everyone linked to it, posted a comment, shared it on their walls and retweeted the person’s thoughts because of an idea that’s meant to trend and spread like virus. It sparked a series of conversations in the Philippine social media space that will be remembered for a very long time.

Oh and Blog Watch is also a finalist in “The Advocate”

This award goes to a person or a group of individuals who worked to improve the state of a societal cause in the Philippines through social media. This person or group invested time and effort (and sometimes even money) for the betterment of other people’s lives. The nominees can have a photo/video/audio channel, a blog, a Facebook page/app or a Twitter account on environmental, political, educational and other relevant advocacies.

If you think I should win, here is what you can do from August 10 till August 24.

1. Visit http://tattoo.globe.com.ph/tattawards/vote. 10% of the scores will be coming from your votes so …

2. Vote for me (Noemi Lardizabal-Dado) in The One category.
3. Vote for me (Noemi Lardizabal-Dado) in The Ballbreaker category.
4. Go to The Advocate category and vote for Blog Watch. (This is the work that Blog Watch has been doing the past two years.

You will need a Facebook account to vote.

Your vote will go a long way to promote bloggers advocacy and citizen media.

Thank you.

““Have a sense of pride in your motherland. Just as your mother has given birth to you, so too the land has given birth to you.” Sri Sathya

My friend Leslie Bocobo insisted that I attend the Michael Charleston ““XIAO” B. Chua lecture on ““Ang Pagtuturo ng Kasaysayan gamit ang Parisian life ni Juan Luna” at the Juan Luna Room (History and Destiny) of GSIS Museo ng Sining . I wondered if I would get bored if I attended. He assured me that I would enjoy Xiao lecture. A challenge was driving all the way to the GSIS Museo ng Sining. Despite my initial hesitation, Juan Luna’s painting piqued my curiosity. Controversy hounded this painting as it was purchased with government money to the tune of 46 million pesos. Today, another controversy looms as the painting is now offered for sale and there is an interested foreign buyer willing to buy it at 200 million pesos.

I needed to see this painting before it is taken away from the museum. As I stared at the painting, I wondered what Juan Luna was thinking. Was it really about a Caucasian woman? Knowing his other works like Spoliarium, there was more to this Parisian life painting. Knowing the meaning of the lady is the key to the understanding of the whole image.

MICHAEL CHARLESTON “XIAO” B. CHUA is a professor at the De La Salle Manila and the Vice President of the Philippine Historical Association

There are three interpretations of the lady but I believe the third one is more symbolic and not a mere coincidence, I wrote more about the details over at Blog Watch. In a nutshell. the lady is the mirror image of the Philippine archipelago. Xiao superimposed the Philippine Map image over the lady and I can see the contour of Northern Luzon follows the same contour of the lady’s bodice.

This interpretation contends that the lady is our motherland and if you look at the lady she is “awkwardly poised, disturbed with a blank stare, seemingly unsure whether to stand up or remain seated.” “Parisian Life” began as a tribute to great Filipinos who are on the cusp of a great change, and now a fitting testament to Luna’s genius and artistic merit, his work continues to invoke passion and create history.”

After the lecture, I felt even more pride for our motherland and that we need to value our heritage.

People should not ask the worth of “Parisian Life” but to ask what is our worth as a people to deserve a historically valuable artwork.

Mahalin ang bayan at mga pamana nito tungo sa kaginhawaan ng lahat tulad ng binanggit ni Andres Bonifacio, ““Ampunin ang bayan kung nasa ay lunas pagka’t ginhawa niya ay para sa lahat.”

“A part of you has grown in me, and so you see, it’s you and me together forever. Never apart, maybe in distance, but never in heart.”

There are friends that come and go and there are friends that make a huge mark in our lives. It must have been 30 something years ago when a friend gave me a bible. Inside the inner cover, he wrote:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I was young and naive about love. All I knew then was being “in love” or loving my parents. I mean, what did those phrases meant? I loved it though. I kept reading the words over and over again.

Like most friendships, there were good and bad times. I don’t recall it now but perhaps my friend went through a rough period in his life. Before I knew it, we drifted apart. I recall feelings of sadness and hurt…and being abandoned. But those words about love stuck.

Love is patient. Love is kind.

How could I stay mad at this person who introduced me to the Holy Bible, to be open to other religions other than the Catholic faith?

How could I get hurt for long knowing that love does not keep a record of wrongs?

How could I feel abandoned when my friend never left me? The friendship remained in my heart.

My friend left a huge mark on me forever as I often went back to the bible passage on love..as I struggled with my marriage for better or for worse.

By chance, we bumped into each other. It was as if thirty years did not change our mutual admiration for each other. I needed to say one thing. Life is precious. We are getting old.

So I told my friend “Thank you for introducing me to the bible. Thank you for the 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 quote that gave me the courage to continue on loving when loving was almost so difficult”.

We laughed at the good old days until tears streaked down my face from too much laughter.

But that night in bed, I found myself tearing, so touched about the love and the friendship that continued to live on in our hearts.

I believe that life is partly what we make of it, and partly what is made by the friends whom we choose.

Thank you for wonderful friends.

Image from Writings on your wall.