martial law photoI always tell stories to my children about high school and college life during martial law. I was 15 years old when Proclamation 1081 was declared by former President Ferdinand Marcos on September 21, 1972. My folks seemed overjoyed by the news. The administration did a great job brainwashing the old folks that the country was in turmoil and thus, Martial Law needed to be declared. I didn’t know it then, of course.

I felt a bit alarmed that any house could be raided for “subversive materials. Any reading material might be “subversive in the eyes of the military. Dad probably wanted to protect us so he bought books and magazines that were pro-Marcos. Soon after Marcos declared martial law, one American high-ranking official described the Philippines as a country composed “of 40 million cowards and one son of a bitch otherwise, he reasoned they should have risen against the destroyer of their freedom.

A youth during Martial Law

I spent most of my teenage years under the veil of martial law. Dad and Mom warned me that the moment my sister and I joined rallies and demonstrations in UP Diliman, it was back to Cebu. They didn’t know it then but my sister and I joined lightning rallies. Student issues centered on Marcos, the dictator, Academic Freedom and the role of Iskolar ng Bayan in the midst of Martial Law.

I remember my first rally was in Luneta Park on May 1, 1976. I forgot who organized it now. All I remember was holding hands with my pretend-boyfriend in Luneta Park. If you know Rico J. Puno’s version of “The Way We Were“, the pretend situation brought me to stitches.

Ohhh Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
And if we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we, could we

Alaala, ng tayo’y mag-sweetheart pa
Namamasyal pa sa Luneta
Nang walang pera

So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were
Doo do do do do dooo

The organizers told us to be lovey-dovey and pretend to be sweethearts. I guess this was needed so that the police will not be suspicious of any illegal assembly. At a certain signal, a group of a hundred students would all chant Marcos, Hitler, diktador, tuta and converge in front of the Rizal Monument. Today, this would have been the “flash mob”. Those days, immediate arrest was inevitable. I thought it was a giddy adventure oblivious of the danger of being arrested. Raising our fists, stomping our feet around Luneta and chanting Marcos, Hitler, diktador, tuta around ten times, we dispersed amidst the growing crowd. Makibaka, huwag matakot! Makibaka, huwag matakot! It was an exhilarating experience and I could feel the adrenalin rush as we ran towards the Quiapo side streets. The police were just behind our back. Too close for comfort.

I pushed my luck once too many until one day, I got trapped along with some UP students inside an auto shop near Adamson University. It was Human Rights day. To make myself incognito, I wrapped my head with a scarf and wore large sunglasses. Sadly, the police were wiser now. They used the fire hose to disperse us and also to corner us into one place. So there I was with my friends waiting for the truck to haul us to Camp Crame. Maybe divine intervention prevailed upon us due in part to the intercession of the St. Theresa’s Colege nuns because suddenly, we were all released. There was a hitch though. Our photos needed to taken by the Intelligence. I complied, of course.

To make matters worse, my dad found out about the near-arrest. To this day, I don’t know how he found out. The military intelligence must have informed him. Or the moles so prevalent during those days. Dad told my sister and I Stop attending those demos or go home. This time, I obeyed because I valued my education at the State University.


Reminding the youth about Martial Law

ferdinand-marcos1I am lucky because I never got detained or tortured unlike some of my friends. My heart broke every time I heard news of my schoolmates in detention. It angered me that traitors were around us waiting to report subversives to the military. My brother was once detained for taking photos of policemen taking down streamers of the activists. Imagine that happening to us right now. I tell these stories to my children so they value their freedom, remember the horrors of martial law and to never let it happen again. The youth born after the People Power revolution need to know about the “human rights violation, the muzzling of the press and the curtailment of freedom during the Martial Law era.

The youth need to know how Ferdinand Marcos “fooled the Filipino people into believing that Martial Law was needed in the whole country, even if the troubles were only of political nature. The biggest loser was Press Freedom. Newspapers, TV and radio outlets were shut down and eventually turned over to be owned and operated by Marcos cronies.

“Let the lessons of martial law always teach us to value our freedom and democracy. Let us always remember the sacrifice, the blood, sweat and tears borne by those who were willing to fight so that future generations may live to enjoy life free from oppression. We must honor them by ensuring that, no matter what, we must all stand united to protect our democracy and willing to make our own sacrifices. We must also ensure that justice will be served for the victims of martial law against the oppressors and the guilty.

Sometimes I feel Martial Law never really left us, as if it is ingrained in our culture. Take the alarming case of extra-judicial killings that are left unresolved. ONE PERCENT (1.05 percent) of these incidents of heinous killings has ended in the conviction of the people who were responsible. This “one percent success rate in solving these crimes is an absolute embarrassment and we Filipinos should band together to make sure that this changes.

Nothing has really changed for the better since democracy was restored in 1986. The same “old people are still in power, a lot of government officials still usurp power to enrich themselves, and the Filipino is still where he was .. maybe even worse.”

Martial Law was indeed a dark part of our history but we have to be reminded of it only because we need to honor those who fought and fell to restore democracy then and now. We need to let the evils of Martial law out of our system. Are we going to allow ourselves to be called a nation of 95 million cowards, this time around?

Never again to Martial Law!

Justice for the victims of Martial Law and human rights violations!


The photo was taken by Reuben, my late brother who was one of those who fought hard for our freedom and democracy during martial law.

Photo by Reuben Veloso Lardizabal. Some Rights Reserved

Working at home has its perks. It is not as stressful as being cooped up in the office. I can be flexible and relaxed without being pressed for deadlines. My usual routine consists of watching the news on TV and multi-tasking with my Macbook. When I just want a major distraction and activities that require less physical requirements, I turn to Bingo and Facebook games. It helps me zone out when I am stressed or just want to be still. After all, twitter engagement can get so intense that it just tires me out.

One of my earliest childhood memories were bingo parties my parents hosted at home and I still play it today as an adult. Since bingo doesn’t require any special skills and it’s very simple to understand and learn, it’s an ideal game if you just want to sit back, relax and have some fun. According to FoxyBingo on Facebook, there are about 60 million players in the U.S. alone and it’s making a strong come back through the popularity of online games. Bingo is no longer limited to charity events and churches, but is now a permanent and ever growing fixture in the online scene. What makes it perfect for anyone who works from home is that you can leave anytime you want. It doesn’t require you to invest a specific amount of time and allows you to be flexible while looking for that perfect balance between work and life.


One good example of this is Pet Society. I had real kitties as pets so I am quite drawn to pet games. In Pet Society, I played games, decorated my house and even brought gifts to my Facebook friends when I visited them. Now, I didn’t know that my adorable little Siamese kitty would enjoy it as much as I do. The game died a natural death because you have to be constantly online to be a good pet owner, which I already am with my real pets.

board games

And of course, I have never forgotten the board games. Board games made up a huge chunk of my childhood days. I still recall my dad coming home from work with these board games such as Chinese checkers, Snake and Ladder, and Scrabble. During the martial law days, there was the Game of Generals. I don’t know if they still have them these days. My children too, played endless games of Monopoly, Boggle, and Clue. To this day, I notice my children enjoy playing board games with their friends; every now and then aside from their usual online games. I like how they combine board games and online games as a fun way to be with their friends after a long week at work. Some day, I’d like for them to take up bingo and continue a good tradition.

Everyone should learn how to take some time off, relax after work or even pause in between work assignments. Stress will always be there as things don’t always go our way. Playing bingo online or offline games is just one of the many ways I do to calm my body, mind and spirit. I make sure my mind handles stress smartly and effectively by doing great things to take the stress away.

Positive thinking is something I had to re-learn as family tragedies befell one after the other. With 5 deaths in my immediate family (including my son), it might seem I am immune to pain. It never gets easier. Along the way, I learned to improve my life, change and reinvent myself. Allow me to share (rehash) some of my recovery principles which may or may not be useful to you but worked for me.


1. Say Thank You everyday. Practice Gratitude. Everyday , I face interruptions, delays, changes and challenges. I have learned an important concept to get me through this stressful time and that is gratitude. I learn to say thank you, for all these problems and feelings. I don’t like this experience but Thank You anyway. I had to force gratitude until it became second nature to me. Gratitude helped me stop trying to control outcomes. Gratitude makes things right. It is the key that unlocked positive energy in my life.

2. Live life one day at a time which requires so much faith in us. Look ahead to make future plans. Don’t look back at the past unless healing from the past is part of today’s work. We focus on this day’s activity, living it to the best of our ability.

3. Love and Nurture Yourself. Nurturing is about how we show love for ourselves. I needed a loving relationship with myself that works so I can have a loving relationship with others that work.

4. Avoid Gossip. Direct , clean conversation clears the air and paves the way for good feelings about ourselves and our relationship with others. Gossiping about another for motives of diminishing him or her in order to build up themselves or to judge the person hurts friendships in the end. I resolved that I will resist and place boundaries when I am faced with another gossip.

5. Happiness is in your Hands. Healing comes when we are aware of how we attempt to use others to stop our pain and create our happiness. We will heal from our past. We will see that, all along, our happiness and our well-being have been in our hands.

6. Practice healthy and loving tolerance. When I learned healthy and loving tolerance, I learned tolerance for others. I also learned that the humanness I tolerated is what makes myself and others beautiful. There are some things I do not tolerate. I do not tolerate abusive behaviors or destructive behaviors towards others or myself.

7. There is a time to feel anger and a time to let it go.. Anger is a part of life. We need not dwell in it or seek it out but we can’t afford to ignore it. In recovery, I have learned that I can shamelessly feel all my feelings including anger, and still take responsibility for what I do when I feel angry. I don’t have to let anger control me but it surely will if I prevent myself from feeling it.

8. Laughter is the best medicine. Even just the expectation of a mirthful laughter involved in watching your favorite funny movie has some very surprising and significant neuroendocrine/hormone effects. Earlier experiments showed that viewing a favorite funny video can offset symptoms of chronic stress, which can suppress various components of the immune responses, particularly those related to anti-viral and anti-tumor defenses.

9. Turn pain into something positive. Help others. Start an advocacy , a cause, a charity. Helping others can both help you and the person who is in pain.

10. Set boundaries. I can love my family or friends but refuse their efforts to manipulate, control or produce guilt in me. I can learn to be assertive with family members without being aggressive. I can set the boundaries I need with them without being disloyal to the family or the friend. I can learn to love my friends and family without forfeiting love and respect for myself.

11 Take Financial Responsibility for ourselves. Each of us today, has a financial future. There are few future aspects of my life I can control, but one part I can play to assist our family’s future is setting goals. I don’t have to obsess about my goals. I don’t have to constantly watch and mark our progress toward them.Taking responsibility for my finances enable me to take focus off money. It frees me to do my work and live the life I want. I deserve to have the self-esteem and peace that accompanies financial responsibility.


12. Love God as you understand God. I learned that recovery is an intensely spiritual process that prods us to grow in our understanding of God . My understanding of God is based on my Catholic upbringing that God is real. Loving. God is Good. The more I turned my mind and heart to a positive understanding of God, the more God validates me. Whether one is a Christian, non-Christian or Atheists, I will respect their own understanding of God as well as my own. I will not allow others’ judgement of my beliefs to cause me anxiety or distress.

13. . Practice as IF. To practice the positive, I act as if. It’s a positive form of pretending. It’s a useful tool to use to get ourselves unstuck. Now, when a problem haunts me, acting as if can helps me get unstuck. I act as if the problem will be or already is solved so I can go on with my daily routine.

Do you have other ways that helped improve your life?

PEOPLE who smile a lot and say “have a nice day” are headed to an early grave while the grumpy stay fit.

Psychologists at Frankfurt University cite flight attendants, sales personnel, call centre operators, waiters and others in contact with the public for extended periods of time as being at risk of seriously harming their health. The people-pleasers are also in danger.

With over 40,000 call center agents in the Philippines, I assume most employers implement some sort of de-stressing activities for their employees especially during the break. or not? It must be tough for customer service workers to keep a gleaming smile with a friendly voice all day long. Especially when dealing with whiny and bitchy customers. I know all they have to do is detach themselves from their customers and let it go.

It used to bother me when people around me create havoc with their crabby attitudes. Negative vibes shatter my mental frame of mind. Then I learned that we can’t change people and that we are in control of our own attitudes. It takes practice to believe that “this person is having a problem. I’m not. So don’t get riled up, okay? Let it go.” This is a recovery principle which I work constantly with this Serenity Prayer.


There is a longer version ( from Ireland)

God take and receive my liberty,
my memory, my understanding and will,
All that I am and have He has given me

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference

Living one day at a time
Enjoying one moment at a time
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it

Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to his will
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy in the next. AMEN

Numb feelings. That was my defense mechanism during the peak of my grief. I needed to shut down the emotional part of myself to survive the unspeakable grief that befell my family. I shut down the part of me that felt anger, sadness, fear, joy and perhaps, love. It was an unhealthy move.

It is okay to have and feel our feelings. All of Them.


During my rebellious teen-age years, the outspoken me often got a tongue-lashing from my parents for verbalizing my feelings. I lived in the old-fashioned parenting style where parents refused to tolerate my emotions. I got shamed or reprimanded for expressing feelings and I don’t blame them. Their own parents taught them to repress their own.

Times have changed. It is okay now to acknowledge and accept our emotions. I don’t allow my emotions to control me though, neither do I need to repress my feelings in a rigid fashion. My emotional center forms a valuable part of my physical wellness, my thinking and spirituality.

Last night, my husband rolled over to my side of the bed, hugged me and sighed “I’m sad”. I cuddled him in my arms and reassured him “it’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to let it go too”. I understand his sadness. I know that sweet memories of my beloved son always triggers grief. It is the grief pattern of most bereaved parents no matter how many years have elapsed. We know the these waves of profound sadness can just happen any time of the month no matter if years have passed.

It is not a sign of weakness nor deficiency for indulging in our feelings. It means we’re becoming healthy and whole. I know there will come a point when this temporary sadness will move on to reflect happy feelings. There will be days that I’ll be upset but then I know that I will allow myself to recognize and accept whatever feelings pass through me. Without shame, I allow myself to tune in to the emotional part of myself.

What about you? Don’t just say Mad, Sad or Glad,

Here are a list of feeling words and expressions that can be used to more accurately describe what is going on in your heart, mind and body

Words and phrases which reflect feeling upset:

Unhappy, disappointed, distressed, disappointed, disturbed, saddened, troubled, offended, displeased, mourning, grieving, mixed up, out of balance, disorganized, dismayed, wounded, troubled, weepy, letdown, confused, out of synch, inner turmoil, shook up, lonely, afraid, worried, concerned,

Words and phrases which reflect happy feelings:

Pleased, full of joy, giggly, pleasure, satisfied, contented, grateful, hopeful, enthusiastic, cheerful, optimistic, in high spirits, blissful, exultant, cheerful, on cloud nine, lucky, blessed, fortunate, delighted, thankful, relieved.

How are you feeling today?

janet napoles

Like most netizens, I am alarmed at the extra special treatment given to Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Her transfer to a better facility at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna feels like overkill because right now the charges filed against her is just “illegal detention”. All these extra special attention needs to be worth it for the Filipino people. I believe she needs to be in a secure place if indeed she will talk and deliver a testimony against alleged scammers.

janet napoles 1

I expect there will be charges filed soon so the arrest and prosecution of those involved in the scam will soon be realized. Many politicians will be named but I wonder if she will spill the beans on all. The audit report shows quite a number of questionable pork barrel transactions. I will just wait for updates.

Meantime…I wonder how she feels right now with her new place. Such a huge difference from her uh, luxurious residences.

janet napoles 3

When I checked the official photos released by the Philippine National Police, I can’t help but wonder how she will adjust to her simple surroundings . I guess she will get used to it eventually. I think it is so much better than the Makati City Jail.

janet napoles 4

Based on reports, she is free to roam around during the day. I am aware she is diabetic like myself so I hope she gets to exercise. If I am confined to just one place for an indefinite period, I will make sure to walk around for at least 30 minutes. Maybe it is time she also loses some weight so her diabetes will be more controlled.

fort sto domingo

Does she get to have a companion with her seeing that her bed is double decker? The posh drapery looks so out of place in the simple room.

janet napoles room1

The ceiling is grilled to make sure she does not saw her way out of the compound.

janet napoles room 1

Oh dear, the bathroom looks like there is no flowing water with all those drums. I am sure she will learn to flush the toilet with a pail of water . I don’t mind the “Tabo” system as long as there is ample water supply.

janet napoles bathroom

While she is free to roam during the day, her room will be bolted during the night.

janet napoles room

I wish her well.

Photos via PNP.