family tree

When I was new in my grief, many well meaning friends and relatives advised me this and that. I don’t know who among them suggested the “Healing of the Family Tree” and gave me a prayer. Each night, I was to say this prayer hoping in the belief that the curse of family deaths would end . (My 2 brothers, and a mother died before my son’s death in 2000) . As if we don’t all die.

A part of this prayer goes:

“Heavenly Father, I ask You now to go back though all in my bloodline, my husband’s/wife’s bloodline, and the bloodlines connected to all of my family and relatives and forgive the wrongs, heal the illnesses, bind the evil deeds. I ask You Lord to break the chains, associations and links any of these may have to us here in the present. On their behalf Lord, I seek Your forgiveness, your healing and a pouring out of your Divine Love so that Your Love may now pour forth through the years and touch us in the here and now. So that Your Divine and Healing Love will take the place of all the past hurts, angers, hates, unlove of You, destructive emotions or actions and evil ties of our ancestors. So that Your Precious Blood and Divine Love and Healing will heal us of the residue we carry from our ancestors. In true faith I thank You Lord because You have said ‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you’. Today Lord I knock, I seek, I ask. All praise and thanks to You my loving Father.”

Now being newly bereaved and distraught, I went along with the idea that my ancestors were so sinful that all these deaths were brought about by their sinful ways…. Yes, it must be a curse, “malas” “karma” or “gaba” until one day, I just had it.

Praying the “Healing of the Family Tree” is the most depressing thing ever. In the first place, before my son died, we underwent a public healing of our family tree at Christ the King Church through our “Couples of Christ” group. We prayed that all the cancers, diabetes , hypertension would not continue on our present generation. Also, we prayed that early death will be spared further in our families.

I believe that our families have patterns of behavior that are passed on from generation to generation. This is especially true for those with genetic predisposition to suicide, alcoholism . Some of these patterns are not coincidences. We are also adversely affected by the sins of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, and by the sins of the ancestors who adversely affected them.

Don’t be mistaken, I believe in the Healing of the family tree. What I find truly objectionable in the prayer is guilt feelings that most newly bereaved feels whenever a priest tells them about the “Family Tree”. Also, the prayer is so repititious like all Catholic prayers. Imagine praying that everyday for the rest of your lives. There is no meaning . No substance. We have no control over the sins of our ancestors. We did not cause their sins. A bereaved mother thinks her great grandfather who was a priest might have been the root cause for her son’s death. Another bereaved mother attributes the death of her daughter because her marriage was not blessed in Church. Is God truly vengeful? Why are others spared? We cannot cure the sins of our ancestors but we can truly change ourselves.

We heal our family trees primarily by changing ourselves to be better persons, even much better than our ancestors could ever be. We heal our family trees by taking care of our health so our predisposition to certain genetic diseaes will be curtailed. We heal our family trees by receiving a new nature through total commitment to God . Secondly, we heal our family trees by repentance and healing. The change starts in us. Healing starts in us. It’s time to stop looking back at the past and move forward now.

In the nineties, bullying seemed insignificant at least for social bullying. Even if I fought it out in school, I was the only parent who complained. My daughter continues to add “The sad part is that guidance counselors, teachers, and even some parents don’t think much of bullying. They pass it off as play, or maybe an early life lesson: the world can be a terrible place filled with people who will treat you with undeserved cruelty.”

Programs to help reduce bullying start with a comprehensive approach that involve a collaboration between students, parents, the school and the community. Positive change will result when all parties concerned become involved stakeholders and take personal responsibility for standing up , voicing out and eliminating bullying.

Everyone from the parents, educators, the students and community should stand up and voice out that bullying should stop. Domestic violence should stop. Preventing and stopping bullying involves a commitment to creating a safe environment where children can thrive, socially and academically, without being afraid.

Creating a Safe Environment for Young Minds

Malayan High School for Science invited me to talk about “Creating a safe environment for Young minds” particularly on cyber-bullying. It was also the Unveiling, Launching, and Signing of the MHSS Safe School Program.

I laud the school’s effort in creating a safe environment for young minds. The school, the students and parents are all part of the solution . I wish I were still a parent with school children. I would have enrolled my children there. I know I would be able to work hand in hand with my kids and the school. In the nineties, I was helpless because the school did not want to cooperate with me. Even if I coached my kid at home , my efforts did not bear fruit.

I am impressed that MHSS provides a safe learning environment for students and that they consider this a top priority of every school. With a safe environment, students will be motivated to take up new challenges, and to remain focused in learning.

The proactive approach to preventing cyber bullying

Children should always remember that safety is their number one concern. They need to know that telling is not tattling. Students should know it is safe to inform trusted adults about what is really going on and also teach adults about new technologies that kids are using to bully. The more senior students can serve as mentors and inform younger students about safe practices on social media. I presented a video on cyber bullying awareness with catchy lyrics from Taylor Swift’s song entitled “Mean”.

I also shared Sonnie Santos’ tips on a proactive preventive approach to cyber bullying and how to protect oneself online.

During my days as internet safety head in the mid-nineties, I helped kids around the world as they built the content of their online journal or websites. One of these kids is now 28 years old. I met him when he was only 12 years old. So I asked him what he thought of cyber bullying. He provides valuable input.

The web is making the world much smaller, in ways that we don’t quite yet understand. With this smaller community we also have a great responsibility with how we treat one another. People, especially kids and teenagers, have to understand that everything we put on the Internet can be saved and it can come back to haunt us. Any job or graduate school recruiter has the obligation now, to Google your name before they think about offering you an interview or offer.If you have a friend who is cyber bullying someone, you have the responsibility to tell that friend to stop, not only because it is wrong, but also because it will cause harm to that person’s digital presence in the future.

For the people who are the recipients of that bullying, I would say the same thing. Expect everything put online to stay online, forever. If someone is cyber bullying you, document document document – through screenshots or whatever means you have available. That person must stop and apologize, because whatever he or she is doing will affect them later if they do not manage their digital presence.

One may get rid of school bullying once they graduate from high school but the online bullying can persist and move on to cyber harassment later on. It is important to take this proactive stand and prevent from being a victim.

I hope the students become more proactive with their safety and be part of the solution. Make a stand to stop bullying in any form. With the help of their school and their parents, I hope the students create a positive environment for themselves, their peers at school and on social media.

Luijoe is 19 years old today. I still cry , tear, smile as I recall the day of his birth. My handsome boy, oh what would have he looked like at 19 years old? Someone once told me that there is a software that can give a photo of what Luijoe might look like today. I heard it is really expensive.

It is a fleeting thought because all I can remember is my impish six year old boy Luijoe with a twinkle in his eyes. My thoughts linger now. He would have been in second year college. I bet he would drive me to places. Maybe he would have introduced me to his girl friend? Would he still be so attached to his mama?

Do you sometimes feel that you want to rewind and freeze a moment in time? When I look at his last birthday photos, I just want to hold on and savor that precious moment.

Every year , I celebrate the birthday of my beautiful boy to remind me that love never dies. The celebration of his life reminds me that there is a connection between us. Sure, the physical ties are now broken . In its place lies a spiritual connection that goes beyond the mortal world. I am thankful for the six short years. I would not be where I am today if I did not find the courage to start a new life. The single most powerful factor in starting my new normal has been the realization that death did not take all of my child.

During his last birthday in 1999, we celebrated it twice: at school and another at home . Such happy and poignant memories. (I wrote more about his last birthday celebration here) I know the time will come when we will be together in the house he promised to build for me. He used to point to this blue and white house as I drove him to school and say “I will build you a house like that”. I know this is not going to happen here in this mortal world. While I live, I will continue on the mission that my son has left for me to accomplish.

Today, I will prepare Fiesta Ham and some noodle dish. Then my husband and I will visit his resting place, and bring him some flowers. (I will update this towards the end of the day)

It’s been so long ago . I never realized that I now became a resource person for grief recovery. Here are some of the interviews that I managed to record since I blogged here.. 2008 was the year I had the most number of interviews .

November 8, 2008 in Mom Works

A Mom’s the Word Feature in Mom Works hosted by Maricel Laxa at the Lifestyle channel shown November 7, 8 and 9.

July 2008 – QTV Sweet Life on The Child’s Grief

May 2, 2008 – Proudly Filipina with Charlene Gonzales

April 26, 2008 at Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho

A tribute to my son

What a beautiful tribute to the man she loved and who loved her as well. Zsa Zsa Padilla sang THROUGH THE YEARS during the Necrological Service for Dolphy – Comedy King at the Dolphy Theater of ABS-CBN yesterday. I recall in 1989 when Dolphy dropped Alma Moreno because of his love for Zsa Zsa Padilla. At that time, I also wondered in disbelief for his reasons. The public didn’t take the news kindly, that it prompted them to leave for the USA . For the next two and a half years, they lived in exile. The popular “John and Marsha” folded soon after . Without Dolphy, there is no John.

Through the years, Dolphy and Zsa Zsa Padilla proved that their love was real and strong. Despite the controversies surrounding the start of their relationship, Dolphy and Zsazsa Padilla stayed together for the past two decades and have two children, namely Nicole and Zia .He is 36 years older than her, and had relationships with different women before her, five of whom bore him his 18 children.

I got the following statement from Zsazsa Padilla facebook wall said .

“To Dolphy, thank you very much for being so proud of me; for giving me my two girls; for being so thoughtful; and for doing your best to provide for us. Kung mayroon siyang kapintasan, ‘yun ang pagiging sobra niyang mapagbigay. Mahirap magsabi sa kanya na may gusto kang bagay kasi kung mahal ka nya, gagawin nya ang lahat para maibigay nya sa ‘yo,”

What she and Dolphy went through was not easy.

“In loving the man I came to accept… Hindi po naging madali lahat ng yun. Pero he was worth it,” she said.

“Hindi ko na kailangan balikan ang nakaraan. Saksi kayo sa lalim ng pagmamahal na binigay ni Dolphy sa akin. At napatunayan niya nga sa loob ng 23 years kung gaano kalalim at katatag ang aming love story,” she added.

She said the family got closer when Dolphy was diagnosed with Stage 4 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) two years ago.

“Naramdaman ko na talagang isang tunay kaming pamilya. Posible naman pala na kahit ang mga anak ni Dolphy ay nanggaling sa ibang nanay ay pwede naman kami magkaisa,” Padilla said.

Padilla also thanked television networks ABS-CBN and TV5 for supporting Dolphy’s career.

She said TV5 renewed Dolphy’s contract and continued to give his salary “despite knowing that he could never tape again.”

She thanked ABS-CBN for taking care of Dolphy’s legacy and preserving his body of work “for generations of Filipinos to enjoy in perpetuity.

“I know that this service will make Dolphy so happy dahil mula pa sa panahon ni Kapitan Geny Lopez, si Dolphy sa buhay, kamatayan at sa langit ay isang tunay na Kapamilya.”

I can’t remember when you weren’t there / When I didn’t care for anyone but you / I swear, we’ve been through everything there is / Can’t imagine anything we’ve missed / Can’t imagine anything the two of us won’t do / Through the years, you’ve never let me down / You’ve turned my life around / The sweetest days I found, I found with you / Through the years, I’ve never been afraid / I love the life we’ve made / Im so glad I stayed right here with you / Through the years

After the song, Padilla broke down in tears when she said: “Kagaya ng huling ibinulong mo sa akin bago ka mamaalam, lovey ko, I love you.”

Here are the lyrics of Through the years:

I can’t remember when you weren’t there
When I didn’t care for anyone but you
I swear we’ve been through everything there is
Can’t imagine anything we’ve missed
Can’t imagine anything the two of us can’t do

Through the years, you’ve never let me down
You turned my life around, the sweetest days I’ve found
I’ve found with you … Through the years
I’ve never been afraid, I’ve loved the life we’ve made
And I’m so glad I’ve stayed, right here with you
Through the years

I can’t remember what I used to do
Who I trusted, who I listened to before
I swear you taught me everything I know
Can’t imagine needing someone so
But through the years it seems to me
I need you more and more

Through the years, through all the good and bad
I KNOW how much we had, I’ve always been so glad
To be with you … Through the years
It’s better every day, you’ve kissed my tears away
As long as it’s okay, I’ll stay with you
Through the years

Through the years, when everything went wrong
Together we were strong, I know that I belong
Right here with you … Through the years
I never had a doubt, we’d always work things out
I’ve learned what life’s about, by loving you
Through the years

Through the years, you’ve never let me down
You’ve turned my life around, the sweetest days I’ve found
I’ve found with you … Through the years
It’s better every day, you’ve kissed my tears away
As long as it’s okay, I’ll stay with you
Through the years…

Filipinos are mourning the loss of the Comedy King, the artist that made them laugh and lightened the day. My friend Samira says it so well ” Comedy brings us together. For an hour or so, we are transported into a make-believe zone where our everyday life is made fun about. We can actually laugh at ourselves and draw lessons from them.” Dolphy was so much a part of Filipino families for decades. When news of his death came out, no one wanted to believe it right away since it was not announced by a family member in social media.

Words of sympathy, feelings of loss were soon tweeted. One that caught the ire of the tweeps came from @ILoveJamich

Kasabay ng monthsary namin ay pumanaw na ang hari ng komedya 🙁 RIP Dolphy #Legendary #KingOfComedy

I didn’t know who Jamich was until I was told they were a youtube sensation. Clueless me didn’t know they won the #TattAwards and to think I was there that night.

Most of the reactions were anger towards their insensitivity. Their fans think there was nothing wrong with their tweet.

As an advocate on grief education, the tweet was insensitive to those mourning the loss. That single tweet felt like they were taking the solemnity and grief over the death of the Comedy king lightly. It felt like it trivialized the grief of others. The monthsary really had no place in that one tweet.

In times like these, words of comfort are all that will make it right. If there are no words, just “I am sorry” with a virtual “hug” will do. Perhaps @IloveJamich did not mean to hurt but they also need to understand why it didn’t come across well. Declaring monthsary and condolences in one tweet is just not appropriate.

Calling them out is the best way to make them understand not to do it again. Considering their fame, more attention is given to their tweets. We all learn from this not just @ILoveJamich

Why was their tweet insensitive?

In most of my meetings with the bereaved at the Compassionate Friends, a common complaint is the insensitivity of concerned friends or relatives. Of course, we know the depth of concern they have towards us but in their enthusiasm, they blurt out the most insensitive remarks.

Fans of Dolphy are also in grief and feel the same concern as the family.

It is understandable that the newly bereaved and even Dolphy fans are very sensitive to these remarks. Instead of bringing relief, those words just seem to add to the hurt and the grief. There are no words that will make it all right that someone we loved has died. But there are ways that can soothe the hurt, ease the loneliness and add to the healing.

Some think it is an over reaction

True, some tweets could be an over reaction but the grieving process is not the same for all. Just like each of us have a unique thumb print, each person grieve differently. So while some did not think nothing wrong of @IloveJamich tweet, others found it insensitive. Looking at the tweets, majority found @ILoveJamich tweets offensive.

Some ways to comfort the bereaved

Though this remark was in Twitter, it pays to know some ways to comfort. You can also check Words to comfort and compiled at The Compassionate Friends

1. DO feel free to touch , to hug and cry with them if these expressions are appropriate to your relationship. Tell them that you care about their pain and that you are sorry their loved one died. Avoid using I know how you feel, it’s God’s plan or God needed another angel. A simple hug can say more than a thousand words.

In social media, one can do it via a virtual hug or touch.

2. DO allow the grieving friend or relative to express their feelings, if they express that need. The pain involved in letting go, the anger, frustration and guilt are all a part of the normal grieving process, leaving them empty and without purpose for a long time. Allow them to tell you how they feel. Don’t tell them how you think they should feel. They just need you to listen. You aren’t expected to be able to take away the hurt or to have all the answers. Be careful of clichés, religious platitudes, or easy answers.

While some thought @IloveJamich was insensitive, the reaction of anger is part of the grief.

3. DO show your concern. Be there over the months on a regular basis. Allow them to tell you how they feel, and listen when they tell you. If you know a certain time of day is particularly difficult, do try to plan your visits to coincide with that time.

While this can’t be done on Twitter, it is alright to say that your thoughts are with the family and those fans who grieve along. One should not minimize the loss even if you don’t feel the same intensity of grief.

4. DO mention their loved one by name. It is comforting for the bereaved to know that others remember their loved one, too. Some people avoid mentioning the loved one’s name for fear it will trigger them of their loss. If tears come, then they needed to cry, and the tears may be tears of gratitude that you have given them the opportunity to share their loved one with you. If you have a good memory of their loved one, do share it. It will make their day and gives so much comfort.

That is why tributes are well accepted. It is comforting. So instead of saying the monthsary fell on the same date, one could just deliver a good anecdote to commemorate the Comedy King.

5. DO know that it is difficult for the newly bereaved to reach out to you for help. When you offer help, be specific. For example, you want to take them out for a ride, set a time and date. Make the effort to call, to come by, to help them out six months and even a year down the road. Crowds may be difficult for them. Shopping and holidays will be overwhelming. Offer your help.

If you are close to Mang Dolphy, any help is comforting as long as it is specific and not a general statement.

(For more information on how to help , here are some articles I’ve compiled on Helping Bereaved Family members.)


Here are the reactions from Twitter:

Photo via

““They say love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.” ~ William Penn

I grew up with the Puruntong-Jones family in my teens, laughing my head off during the darkest years of Martial Law. A few minutes of laughter can really lift one’s mood. Though just a teen, I was very much aware of the political condition but I refused to dampen my spirits. From Mang John Puruntong, Kevin Kosme, Pacifica Palayfay , watching comedy shows was a diversion from my troubled thoughts. Laughter does help relieve stress. I carry laughter with me wherever I go.

Tonight, the sad news of a man who brought laughter into our household passed away at 8:34 PM. The Comedy King Dolphy died at the age of 83. I knew Dolphy suffered pneumonia for last couple of months. No matter how much one is prepared for the death of a loved one, it still hits hard. The pain that comes along with the grief starts crushing to the core is just excruciating.

My condolences to the Quizon family.

There are just no words of comfort to console you right now but the Filipino people who have been warmed by his comedy are grieving with you. We pray the love of God enfolds you during your difficult times and helps you heal with the passage of time.

The time will come when the pain will not be so bad that his memory will once again bring a smile to your lips. What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. And you should always know, wherever you may go, no matter where you are, Mang Dolphy will never be far away.

As I always say over and over again, my loved ones are always in my heart. They are alive in my heart and my memories.

““To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~Thomas Campbell

May the peace which comes from the memories of love shared, comfort you now and in the days ahead.

Photo via Inquirer