If you are a regular reader of my blog, you must have come across the mis-adventures of our handsome cat.. Kylee, the Applehead Siamese pet kitty of my daughter Lauren. I’ve written numerous times about him: here, here, and here.

The sad news came in the middle of a roundtable discussion this afternoon about the cybercrime law. My daughter sent an SMS that Kylee died. I couldn’t be there to comfort her (and my daughter in Australia). I already knew something was not quite right with Kylee that morning. The night before, the vet came over to check on Kylee and arrived with a diagnosis that Kylee suffered a bout of pneumonia. You know I always thought Kylee would overcome this latest health battle . He suffered a stroke two months ago but Kylee managed to walk again after being paralyzed for a few days. I guess Kylee was preparing us for his death. I cried thinking he was dying yet he survived.

But today was different. Kylee felt cold to the touch as I cupped his face and stroked his fur. He let out a small meow as I thanked him for the beautiful memories and how he lived a full life. I thanked him for the joy he brought to our lives. Good thing I had cradled him to let him know how much he was loved by all of us. I never thought Kylee would leave us that day.

But why fuss over a cat? I lost five family members including the devastating loss of my beautiful son. I treat Kylee and our cats as members of our family. I am at a loss of words. Butch Dalisay who lost his pet cat a year ago, says it well:

What is it we grieve for when we lose our pets? Perhaps the passing of our own time, of affection freely given and fully rewarded, and of that rarest of relationships in this age of Facebook friendship , a pure, uncomplicated love nourished by touch and gesture instead of speech.

There are just so many memories. I recall the day I picked up Kylee from the pet store in 1999. He was so tiny that he could fit on the palms of my hand. Among the two kittens, I chose Kylee because he was the most playful . The shop owner gave me a male cat when Lauren wanted a female kitty. We only found out a few months later. Good thing Kylie (original spelling) can also be for males (Kylee).

He outlived our 6 year old son. This feline holds a special place in our family because of the memories of Luijoe playing and caring for this cat. An unusual thing happened on the day my son died. According to the helpers, Kylee slept on Luijoe’s pillow the whole day. That was the only time they saw this strange behavior . Did Kylee have a sixth sense that Luijoe died?

Kylee is a music lover who enjoys listening to the girls playing the piano by sitting on top of the piano. Sometimes he plods , paw by paw on the piano keys as he listens to his own kitty melody. Singing along with my daughter is another music activity but when he’s overwhelmed with the soprano pitch, he ends up nipping her hand. nanggigil.

I know I could not just bury him anywhere. We don’t have much of garden so I thought of pet cremation services. While my daughter was on the other line, I told her I wanted Kylee cremated. Within a few minutes, I looked for my twitter friend @angelicumOda who owned Rainbow Bridge Pet Aftercare Services but they were non-operational that week. I was glad he referred me to Dr. Manny of Pet Valley who arranged to pick up Kylee at our home. Lauren seemed happy with the funeral arrangements. Cremation is a means to permanently memorialize our pet in some special way.

I also felt that cremation is a proper and dignified tribute to Kylee’s life. It gives us the opportunity to do the last gesture of love and appreciation to a companion that we considerered nothing less than a family member and who deserves nothing but the best. Lauren chose a ceramic urn that allowed an inscription of a dedication. Since Kylee loved the piano, the urn will be placed on top of it.

I rushed home hoping I could still give Kylee one last pat before “Pet Valley” arrived. Just my luck as I drove inside the garage, the van arrived. I caught Lauren and Marco at the living room with Kylee lying on a blue blanket. We made the final arrangements including the type of urn to be used. With a heavy heart, Lauren slowly wrapped Kylee with the blanket and carried him over to the man.

It was time to let go. Good bye Kylee. Thanks for the 14 years of companionship. I patted his head. Then my husband and I hugged Lauren.

Lauren wrote about So Long Space Cat Kylee

(Photo taken a few months ago by Lauren)

Sleep well and dream your kitty dreams, Kylee. Know that I will never love another cat as much as I love you.

– Lauren

Parents are so blessed these days. There is a growing awareness that bullying in schools are not tolerated anymore especially after the Department of Education announced a landmark policy last May that aims to protect children against bullying and other forms of violence in schools.

Twenty years ago, I fought a lonely battle with the teacher and guidance counselor of my daughter’s school. They didn’t think bullying was wrong. Bullying is part of growing up. Really? My daughter lost interest in studying. Her grades dropped. Much as I developed extra-curricular activities for her, she still had to face the bully at school.

Bullying should not be tolerated. Bullying damages the physical, social, and emotional well-being of its victims.

“Bullying is NOT pre-wired, harmless, or inevitable
Bullying IS learned, harmful, and controllable
Bullying SPREADS if supported or left unchecked
Bullying INVOLVES everyone—bullies, victims, and bystanders
Bullying CAN BE effectively stopped or entirely prevented”

Indeed, bullying in the school has been a common problem in the Philippines and worldwide. Negative effects of bullying on our children can last a lifetime and curb their potentials.

When I got invited to talk about the need for anti-bullying program in Wadeford School in Kalibo, Aklan over the weekend, I suggested a Safe School Program. A safe school program not only covers anti-bullying intervention. It creates a safe and caring school community by providing a comprehensive, school wide framework for the prevention of bullying or any form of discrimination or harassment.

It inspired me to see a number of eager parents and teachers in attendance. First I explained the four kinds of bullying:

1. Physical bullying

    when someone hits, shoves, kicks, spits, or beats up another person
    when someone damages or steals another student’s property

2. Verbal bullying

    name-calling, mocking, hurtful teasing
    humiliating or threatening someone
    making people do things they don’t want to do

3. Social bullying

    excluding others from the group
    spreading gossip or rumours about others
    making others look foolish
    making sure others do not spend time with a certain student

4. Electronic bullying

    using computer, e-mail, phone or cellular phone text messages to:
    threaten or hurt someone’s feelings

    single out, embarrass or make someone look bad
    spread rumours or reveal secrets about someone

Secondly, it was important to know their beliefs in bulllying.

I asked: “Do your beliefs promote or prevent bullying?”

Perhaps not many parents are aware of the ways their beliefs may color their views and influence on bullying..such as choices they make to intervene in—or ignore—the bullying around them.

A parent admitted that someone brushed away bullying as just “away-bata”. It has been tolerated as such for many years but we know now that it can be damaging to a child’s learning potential and psychological being.

Lastly, I also touched on cyber-bullying. Though this is the least prevalent form of bullying, knowing that such can happen 24/7 is enough to be concerned.

Collaborative effort of the school administration, teachers, parents, and students is needed for an effective safe school program.

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.

Based on the response and questions from the parents, I am happy to see that indeed, they recognize that bullying should not be tolerated. That is a good sign, the first step in initiating a safe school program is the right attitude that bullying can be prevented.

The goal of a Safe School Program is to use interventions at the levels of the student, parents, and school and to ensure that students are given a consistent, coordinated, and strong message by everyone in the school that 1) bullying will not be tolerated and that 2) we can prevent bullying if we work together.

It is heartening to see the Parents and Teachers Association of Wadeford School actively pursuing plans to undertake an anti-bullying prevention program. There is much to learn so I told them to download the toolkit to prevent bullying in children’s lives as a starting point.

Most of all I am grateful to Harvey Ylanan for bringing me to Kalibo. It is my first time to be there and it was a great place to be … far away from the maddening (sometimes) noise of Manila.

Heroes are made not born. There are no automatic heroes. Sometimes it takes a lifetime of heroic deeds to make a hero. But there are everyday opportunities for anyone, even ordinary people, to become heroes. All we have to do is be aware of these opportunities.

One does not have to hold a high government position, be intelligent, charismatic or extraordinary. Most people can be heroic as the need arises.  Sometimes we just need to be inspired to move into action by being aware of everyday heroes.


(from left) Mark David Cerezo, Dionisio Abude and Leonilo Beltran


Take for instance the Cobra Pinoy Hero awards where three Grand Winners were chosen on August 29 at the Crowne Plaza. These three awardees are your everyday heroes with inspiring stories of strength, perseverance and determination.

The three Pinoy Heroes

Cobra Energy Drink capped its 3-month campaign of searching for everyday heroes from all walks of life wanting to share their experiences of victory over hardships, of giving back to those in need despite having little themselves. Around 2,000 stories were  gathered from this campaign . This is their way of taking a step towards nation building; in order to inspire Filipinos to be everyday heroes and take a step forward to become one.

Each of the three awardees embodied the greatness of a hero with their creativity, the passion  and courage to take on the awesome responsibility that came along their way.

Mark ““Rubberman” Cerezo of Marikina  learned to make sculptures out of trash and discarded rubber from shoemakers.

Police Superintendent Dionisio Abude from Davao took in the troubled youth with past crimes due to poverty and made it his mission to turn them into productive citizens.

Leonilo Beltran from  Baler,  Aurora, a former OFW electrician who founded Skills Caravan where fellow volunteers teach skills to out-of-school youth and jobless adults.

Other inspiring stories

The stories of the six other finalists need to be shared as well. Despite their limitations, these courageous men believed in themselves and made the choice to make a difference in their lives and that of others.

There is Ramil Junasa Jactin of Butuan City, a polio victim who conquered his disability in order to be able to teach and was lauded by Malacanang as an Outstanding Youth of the Philippines; Mark Eden Ellaga of Antique, a driven scholar and the very first Outstanding Student of Antique Awardee; Sherwin Abanilla who hails from Zamboanga is a volunteer of the Philippine National Red Cross Emergency Response Team and dreams of becoming a great leader someday.

Other inspiring stories came from; Benjamin Vidallon of Taguig who used to be a lumpia vendor and janitor but turned his life around and now works as a Call Center Agent and Spanish Translator.  There is Ariel John Villares of Zamboanga, a jeepney conductor and security guard by day and a working student by night. Finally we have Ramley Chio Dangla Cruz who hails from Balut, Tondo and works as a med rep but is also a volunteer firefighter/medic.

It is just fitting that the keynote speaker and presentors are heroes in their own right and wonderful role models in inspiring one to be a hero. Keynote Speaker and Presentor is Efren Penaflorida  made us proud by being named CNN Hero of the Year in 2009.  Co-Presentors  include Tony Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga, Illac Diaz, founder of MyShelter Foundation and proponent of the IsangLitrongLiwanag campaign as well as Major General Renato Garcia, Executive Director of the Help Educate and Rear Orphans (HERO) Foundation where Cobra Energy Drink has committed sizeable cash donations to be spread out in five years.

A pledge to work at being Everyday Heroes


Inside every one of us is a hero with skills that can make the world a better place. But how? if only everyone gained enough courage, creativity, perseverance and drive  to make this happen, then our world will be a better place to live in. No wonder the event ended with a Panata that a commitment will be made to work at being Everyday Heroes.

River Maya ended the event with their new single Pilipinas, Kailang Ka Magigising . Their lyrics ring true on raising awareness of bringing out the hero in each one of us. ““Sino ang magbibigay ng buhay , Sa minamahal mong Pilipinas”

 River Maya song  Pilipinas, Kailang Ka Magigising

The Cobra Pinoy Hero Awards is indeed a  tribute to these men and women who continue to inspire us to become better as a nation.  It is fitting that the Cobra Pinoy Heroes Awards recognized these everyday heroes during  National Heroes day  when the nation also recognize our heroes of the past.

Be inspired! Check out other stories in the Cobra Fan Page www.facebook/CobraPhilippines