Monday, December 07, 2009

Never lost, always found (20): Almost there


At times my to-do list is just too long that it seems endless, even pointless. At times I stare so long at that list that I end up NOT ticking anything off of it- which just adds more stress to an already inundated life. I just have to stop though, take a deep breath, and be reminded of what God says through St. Paul-

...I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus...

And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ...


Philippians 1:6, 9-10


It will soon come to pass. It will be worth all the trouble. It will be far better than whatever I can ever imagine because it is by God's design that it will come to fruition =]

Monday, November 30, 2009

Never lost, always found (19): Go, get set, ready


Amidst all the talk of uncertainty, of dangers and perils that awaits us due to climate change or in the upcoming national and local elections; in spite of the seeming victory of the wicked and the vile; in the face of personal struggles and communal sorrow, I remain confident and put my faith in the Lord, defer to His wisdom, and embrace His kindness.

The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”
Jeremiah 13:14-16

Monday, November 23, 2009

Never lost, always found (18): Inconceivable... and yet possible

We watched the World Pyro Olympics yesterday at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Despite the rain, thousands came to witness what was touted to be the ultimate face-off of pyrotechnic masters. And the two countries who dueled last night- Germany and China- did not disappoint!



I tried my best to capture the fantastic works of art in the sky with my trusty camera; but for some reason, the pics I got did not quite measure up against how grand the effects were as captured by the naked eye and recorded by my brain.

I just can't help marvel at the wonder of the human body. I remember having the same thoughts as we were working with a cadaver during our Anatomy class in medical school: how the seemingly fragile assortment of fibers and skin and layers can make a person walk, talk, feel... In spite humanity's best efforts, we can only attempt to approximate the power of God made manifest through the workings of the human body.

And so we place our trust not in human frailty but in God's strength, mercy, wisdom, peace, and love. When all else fails, He won't.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has ever conceived the glorious things He has prepared for those who love Him. (1Cor2:9)

--==+==--

Another example of God's overwhelming grace:

Congratulations to Efren Penaflorida from the province of Cavite in the Philippines! He has been chosen as the CNN Hero of the Year!

Here's to true heroism we can all emulate and be truly proud of!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

World Pyro Olympics begins on Nov 21 at the Bonifacio Global City




Take a break from the political fireworks and witness the real masters of the craft at work!

For 2009, the World Pyro Olympics has a new home at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City- not more than half an hour from where we live =] The WPO also takes on a new format: the visual spectacle in the sky will now have matching music to boot =]

Save the dates: November 21 and 28, December 5, 12, and 19. The venue for viewing the pyromusical event is just across the MC Home Depot inside BGC- for which you will be needing tickets. Gates open at 2.30pm.




For inquiries, you can call 509-4922, 568-6908, 384-0239, 904-1100 or 0906-366-9488. You can also visit the World Pyro Olympics 2009 website- WorldPyroOlympics.com.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Last three days to vote for Efren Penaflorida to be CNN Hero of the Year!

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.
- Arthur Ashe, pioneer African-American tennis player and social activist

Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -how passionately I hate them!
- Albert Einstein, physicist and Nobel Prize winner



For taking the path of peace through education (rather than propagating inane violence masquerading as a "sport");

For working towards improving the health of street children (rather than willfully bashing the face of an opponent in the guise of uplifting "national pride");

For not attracting attention to oneself but working to draw attention to inequities persisting in society (rather than ostentatious display of wealth and machismo);

For emphasizing that hope can and should be put into action collectively, as a community (rather than taking on the fight solo);

I choose Efren Penaflorida to be my hero (rather than you know who).

Vote for Efren as CNN Hero of the Year by clicking here. Know more about his Dynamic Teen Company's work with the street children of Cavite by clicking here and find out there how you can be a hero, too.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 14th of every year is World Diabetes Day



As a physician and having had very close family members currently surviving the challenge of this disease, I have seen first hand the personal, social, and economic cost of diabetes. To put things in a bigger perspective, the campaigners of the international celebration of World Diabetes Day put together this set of key messages regarding this burgeoning global health burden:

Diabetes currently affects more than 285 million people worldwide.

A further 344 million are at high risk of developing diabetes.

The International Diabetes Federation predicts that by 2030, over 435 million people will live with diabetes worldwide.

Over the past 30 years the global figures for the number of people living with diabetes have skyrocketed, with severe consequences for healthcare budgets worldwide.

Diabetes is one of several non-communicable diseases that threaten to overwhelm healthcare systems and are emerging as a serious barrier to economic development.

Every 10 seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes.

Every 10 seconds two people develop diabetes.

Each year a further 7 million people develop diabetes

Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of global death by disease.

Each year 4 million deaths are attributable to diabetes.

All diabetes is on the rise.

Diabetes affects people of all ages.

Care for people with diabetes is best when a multidisciplinary approach is adopted involving
health professionals from all areas.

Access to appropriate medication and care should be a right not a privilege.

Diabetes costs more than money.

Up to 60% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented.

Diabetes brings different challenges at different ages.

Diabetes hits the poorest hardest.

SO HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU SHOULD ALREADY BE WORRIED THAT YOU MAY HAVE DIABETES? Watch this short, 2-minute video below to know more about diabetes. You can also visit the Diabetes Atlas for a more comprehensive look into this disease.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pinoy Shoppers, Unite: the Global Pinoy Bazaar 2009




Pinoy shoppers, unite! Here's a way to spend our hard-earned cash wisely in support of local entrepreneurs and artists as we promote Pride in the Pinoy!

(Reposting the email from the Yabang Pinoy team.)

Yabang Pinoy, the pioneering Filipino Pride movement behind shouting proud Filipinos, entrepreneurs and consumers alike, is also behind the success of Global Pinoy Bazaar, an annual assembly of individuals passionate about being Filipino and the potential of Filipino products. On its third year, Yabang Pinoy promises the biggest and best yet, at the Global Pinoy Bazaar 2009.

On November 14 and 15, 2009, just a hop and a skip away from Christmas, that most important season in any Filipino’s year, Yabang Pinoy invites its advocates and volunteers to once again demonstrate a true Consumer Revolution with Global Pinoy Bazaar 2009 at the Rockwell Tent, Makati City. It is time once more to champion quality Filipino products made with pride, and as citizens, take part in nation-building, so that the Philippines may take its place among the world’s biggest and greatest economies. Much like two years ago, Filipino entrepreneurs, sporting Filipino concepts and ideas and promising to maximize local materials and labor, will again launch limited edition products revolving around the theme of Indigenous Pop designs inspired by local icons, stories, materials, cultures, and traditions. Do something different for your Christmas shopping list this year: Support Pinoy, Shop Pinoy! Bazaar is open from 9am to 9pm.

To know more about the Global Pinoy Bazaar 2009 and the Yabang Pinoy movement and be a part of this Filipino Consumer Revolution, visit http://www.yabangpinoy.com.



Monday, November 09, 2009

Never lost, always found (17): Tongue in check

Moses, however, said to the LORD, "If you please, LORD, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently, nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue."

The LORD said to him, "Who gives one man speech and makes another deaf and dumb? Or who gives sight to one and makes another blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

Go, then! It is I who will assist you in speaking and will teach you what you are to say."


Exodus 4:10-12

I had a major presentation last week in the huge ballroom of a top Manila hotel. In it were dozens of physician colleagues, past and present teachers, and many kindred souls who took time out (and shelled out serious money) to listen to updates in the field of Family and Community Medicine. The latter's presence ought to have made the presentation a comfortable ride. However, a couple of hours before my scheduled talk, I was so nervous I thought I would pass out.

At the height of my anxiety and self-doubt, I requested a colleague to pray with me. We found a quiet spot at the back of the hall and he began to pray with me in earnest. And as expected, as soon as he uttered "Amen" a great wave of peace began to quiet my troubled heart. While awaiting my turn to speak, I quit fiddling with my slides, I stopped surfing for answers to any and all possible questions, I closed the ten or so web browser tabs I was nervously juggling and jotting notes from.

Soon after, I was called to the stage and I began my presentation. I did my best to convey the message I was assigned to deliver- Preparing for Outbreaks and Epidemics- in the time alloted. I struggled a bit during the open forum part but I would like to believe that I was able to more than just "wing it." Then, before I knew it, I already had to descend from the stage to give way to the next speaker.

In my confusion, God is my clarity. In my anxiety, God is my peace. In my folly, God is my way forward.



(A bonus after the presentation, seeing this amazing sunset over Manila Bay just across the hotel's parking lot =])

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A 50-days-to-go-before-Christmas reminder: the 2009 ABS-CBN Christmas Station ID

For those among us who feel there's no more reason to celebrate Christmas because of personal tragedies or national disasters, here's a very timely reminder and encouragement. Christmas is not about us but about the tremendous love of God for us, channeled through His Son Jesus.

And that is the central theme of the Christmas 2009 Station ID of the biggest television network in the Philippines- ABS-CBN. The video features some 200 artists associated with the network, shot over a period of one week. The song in the video- Star ng Pasko (Star of Christmas)- has lyrics written by Robert Labayen, set to music by Marcus and Amber Davis. The entire Christmas campaign of ABS-CBN is focused on "Bro" - a term of endearment given to Christ by a boy in a local TV show who has conversations with Jesus- and the hope He brings to His people in need through each one of us.

I freely translated the song from its original Filipino text- apologies to the artist for this. It doesn't come out as beautiful or as eloquent but I do hope the message is conveyed nonetheless to non-Filipinos =]

Feel the love! Be the love! This Christmas and always =]

(The Station ID begins at the 3:25 mark.)





Kung kailan pinakamadilim
Mga tala ay mas nagniningning
Gaano man kakapal ang ulap
Sa likod nito ay may liwanag

When the night is darkest/ Then the stars shine the brightest
No matter how thick the clouds/ Behind it lies the light

Ang liwanag na ito’y nasa ‘ting lahat
May sinag ang bawat pusong bukas
Sa init ng mga yakap
Maghihilom ang lahat ng sugat

This light is within all of us/ There’s a ray in all our hearts
Because of the warmth of our hugs/ All wounds will be healed

Ang nagsindi nitong ilaw
Walang iba kundi Ikaw
Salamat sa liwanag Mo
Muling magkakakulay ang Pasko
Salamat sa liwanag Mo
Muling magkakakulay ang Pasko

This light is lit / By no one but You
Thanks to Your light / Christmas will once again be colorful
Thanks to Your light / Christmas will once again be colorful

Tayo ang ilaw sa madilim na daan
Pagkakapit-bisig lalong higpitan
Dumaan man sa malakas na alon
Lahat tayo’y makakaahon

We are the light on this dark road/ We need to tighten our support to each other
Strong waves we have to endure/ At the end of which we will all survive

Ang liwanag na ito’y nasa ‘ting lahat
May sinag ang bawat pusong bukas
Sa init ng mga yakap
Maghihilom ang lahat ng sugat

This light is within all of us/ There’s a ray in all our hearts
Because of the warmth of our hugs/ All wounds will be healed

Ang nagsindi nitong ilaw
Walang iba kundi Ikaw
Salamat sa liwanag Mo
Muling magkakakulay ang Pasko
Salamat sa liwanag Mo
Muling magkakakulay ang Pasko

This light is lit / By no one but You
Thanks to Your light / Christmas will once again be colorful
Thanks to Your light / Christmas will once again be colorful

Kikislap ang pag-asa
Kahit kanino man
Dahil Ikaw Bro
Dahil Ikaw Bro
Ang Star ng Pasko

Hope will sparkle / For everyone
Because You, Bro / Because You, Bro
Are the Star of Christmas

Salamat sa liwanag Mo
Muling magkakakulay ang Pasko
Salamat sa liwanag Mo
Muling magkakakulay ang Pasko

Thanks to Your light / Christmas will once again be colorful
Thanks to Your light / Christmas will once again be colorful

Ang nagsindi nitong ilaw
Walang iba kundi Ikaw
Salamat sa liwanag Mo
Muling magkakakulay ang Pasko

This light is lit / By no one but You
Thanks to Your light / Christmas will once again be colorful
Thanks to Your light / Christmas will once again be colorful

Dahil Ikaw Bro
Dahil Ikaw Bro
Ang Star ng Pasko

Because You, Bro / Because You, Bro
Are the Star of Christmas

Monday, November 02, 2009

Never lost, always found (16): Beyond death




If God is for us, who can be against us?

He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us.

Who will condemn? It is Christ (Jesus) who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?

As it is written: "For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39

--==+==--

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there within me lay
an invincible summer.

(Albert Camus)


Thank you, Father, for the blessing of fond memories and happy moments with our departed loved ones while they were still with us. Thank you for comforting us in our time of grief then when they passed on, and now, when our hearts intermittently ache for them. Thank you for taking them home to a much, much, much better place. Thank you for the promise of seeing them again, soon =]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

GK Brookside: flooded with love

Many Filipinos, especially those living in Luzon and Metro Manila in particular, have their own stories about Tropical Storm ONDOY (Ketsana). Some were trapped in their cars for hours due to the massive traffic jam caused by the torrential rains and subsequent flooding. Some were trapped in more dire straits- hours upon hours atop their roofs, desperately in need of food, water, and rescue.

For many, we can wash the mud off of our houses, have our cars repaired in shops, buy clothes to replace the ones drowned by the muck. For others, though, fate has dealt a terrible hand and recovery from the havoc wreaked by Ondoy is almost close to impossible.

Almost, being the operative word.


A huge deal of what I teach now to medical students in the University of the Philippines came from my year and a half work in Gawad Kalinga (GK), an integrated area development program started by the Catholic charismatic group Couples For Christ. In not so many words, GK aims to restore the dignity of the poor by engaging the latter through holistic endeavors involving shelter, health, education, environment, livelihood, child and youth development, and values formation. GK is the epitome of NOT merely giving people fish, but teaching them how to fish- if fishing is indeed what they want to learn.


View of GK Brookside from the second floor of the nearby Stella Maris school (2006).

The hallmark that an area has a Gawad Kalinga village is its rows of multicolored homes. But if you look closer, the real markers that GK is in the area are the shared positive outlook in life, desire to be of service to one another and unwavering faith in God of both the villages’ residents and the partners and volunteers from all walks of life who come to put this faith into action. One such village is GK Brookside in Barangay Bagong Silangan in Quezon City.


The Visitors Center of GK Brookside, which housed photos and records chronicling the history of the village. Most of the materials were destroyed during the floods, which reached just the base of the triangular feature of the center's roof.

GK Brookside is home to some 300 families, majority of which were informal settlers in New Manila who have been constantly evicted from one piece of property to another until they were able to plant their roots here in 2003. The land the village sits on now was formerly a dumpsite that was eventually cleared, cleaned, and readied for a new life for these wandering families, with the help of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. The then would-be-residents of GK Brookside rendered hundreds of hours of sweat equity- building homes for each other without knowing which home would be theirs- and underwent hours of values formation classes, among other activities, to help enhance their capacity to be stewards of the forthcoming blessings. Couples For Christ volunteers worked hand in hand with the residents to develop leaders among the homeowners who will steer the community through times of lack and plenty.


And the blessings did pour in. During the course of the last five years, partners and friends have contributed to make GK Brookside not merely a relocation site but a real, livable community. A local Lions Club built and outfitted a two-storey library. A private Catholic congregation built an annex of the school they run inside the GK village and rendered quality private school education with the fee of just P50 per student per month. MERALCO built a pre-school building for GK’s SIBOL program. A clinic, a simple water filtration system, a chapel were built with the help of volunteers and friends within the village to further enhance the lives of the residents.


Bulk of my work then as implementor of Gawad Kalinga’s health program was organizing and mobilizing community health volunteers. It was a great experience, all of my encounters with them. Their spirit of voluntarism, willingness to put in long hours in trainings and lectures, and ability to motivate their neighbors to work together for health was- is- utterly amazing. At the end of our sessions, I would like to believe that we’ve transcended the “teacher-student” relationship and we’d really become friends, if not family.

One of the community health volunteers in GK Brookside during the training for vital signs (blood-pressure) taking (2006).

Tropical Storm Ondoy, however, did not discriminate with regard to the communities its intense downpour will ravage.


The benign creek meandering beside GK Brookside swelled swiftly and heavily; in a matter of minutes, the whole village was deep in flood waters, so much so that only the cross atop the chapel was visible.



The village residents worked together to transfer their neighbors to the much higher multipurpose hall as the flood waters rose quickly and steadily. In their rush, many of them left with no more than the shirts on their back. They broke through windows or through their ceilings and roofs when the doors were jammed shut by the floods. That the homes were built adjacent to each other proved to be a blessing: they were able to get to higher, safer areas of the village by walking on the interconnected roofs of their homes.

Many of the GK Brookside families were also taken in by residents of the subdivisions surrounding the GK village. Many also took temporary shelter in the clubhouse of adjacent subdivisions. Thankfully, no one perished because of the floods.


It took 16 hours for the flood waters to recede. It is a blessing by most standards given the fact that many areas are still inundated as of October 26th. Nevertheless, the waters left a trail of destruction that broke my heart when I first visited them 72 hours after Ondoy struck and two years after I last stepped foot in GK Brookside. A thick layer of mud covered the streets. There was a pile of wet household items in front of each house. They could not proceed with cleaning their homes because there was no water nor electricity. The people I met as I drove into the village seemed a little… dazed. (Above: This jeepney was completely submerged in flood waters, hence the mud atop its roof.)

As I eased into the village, I just parked in the first available space I found. A lady began to incessantly knock on the driver’s side window. I did not mind her at first, thinking she’s probably begging for coins and I am not a fan of that brand of helping. It was only when I alighted from the car that I fully understood what she was asking for: she was asking me to move the car to the other side of the street so that there will be an orderly flow of traffic. I then heeded her request, was politely guided into the correct parking slot by another GK resident, and received profuse thanks for my cooperation after. It was at this point that I knew GK Brookside is alright, Ondoy notwithstanding. I was afraid that Ondoy broke their spirit. I was glad to be proven wrong.


Soon after, I met Sis. Helen Cifra, a member of Couple For Christ and Sis. Angie Jamola, a nun with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) who is her congregation’s point person for their work in GK Brookside. Later still, familiar faces popped into the multipurpose hall- the community health volunteers we trained many moons ago were still active in serving their neighbors, this time in their capacity as coordinators for the receipt of relief items.

The SIBOL School, venue for pre-school education in GK Brookside. Floods completely submerged this entire building as well.

They shared with me their harrowing Ondoy experiences, what I shared in the previous paragraphs. They also related the story of fathers attending a seminar in Antipolo City who walked, ran, swam home just to get to their families when news of the floods first reached them, since roads were either flooded or blocked by landslides. Yet the best stories of all involved their response to Ondoy.

Sis. Angie Jamola with the GK Brookside residents and block leaders in the central receiving and storage area of all relief goods they receive from partners and friends.

Unlike other areas where the flood survivors become rowdy and riotous when relief goods arrive, GK Brookside implemented a very simple system of goods distribution. The village is divided into seven blocks, each block led by a block leader. The block leader is the one who first receives the items and gets enough sets for each household in his/her block. Each family then gets its share from the block leader as the latter takes the goods to their area, ensuring order and equality. Also, they hold off distributing goods if there will not be enough for at least one pack per family. Their uncomplicated system emphasized fairness and dignity among its residents even in the face of a disaster.

Some GK residents with an income that is higher than the others’ even forego their share in the relief distribution.


Whenever possible, the leaders of GK Brookside include in their count the number of families OUTSIDE the village borders so that they, too, can benefit from the generosity of GK’s partners. While there are just 300 homes inside the village, the GK Brookside leaders would seek help and assistance for 1,132 families in the belief that nobody ought to be left behind.

The GK Brookside Library after Ondoy.

Help could not come in so easily into GK Brookside for various reasons. First, the village is nestled in a more interior part of the city where the roads are not the widest. Second, the areas preceding the village, the ones closer to the main roads, appear to be more in need; hence, assistance from government and the likes of ABS-CBN are directed to them more, all the time. Third, there is a mistaken notion that since it is a Gawad Kalinga site, it doesn’t need help anymore. But they did need help, especially immediately post-Ondoy.

Thankfully partners and friends did come to GK Brookside’s aid.

Delivery of the "showcases."

On a very personal note, much as I know they would shy away from publicity, I would like to pay special tribute to the Filipino-American community of South Carolina and the membership there of Couples For Christ led by Bro. Nanding and Sis. Merlita Carandang for promptly heeding the call to heroism and putting your faith into action. The funds you have raised, along with the resources shared by my very, very, very supportive family (Pop, Mom, Ate Chiqui, and Tita Vicky), helped give each of the 300 families in GK Brookside a fresh start by way of the following:

Sis. Angie Jamola and Mrs. Lydia Sumalinog (leftmost) the homeowners association president along with village residents show off their new dining room and kitchenwares.

1. A dining room showcase consisting of five plates, five drinking glasses, five pairs of spoons and forks, and five soup bowls



2. A kitchen showcase consisting of one frying pan, one cooking pot, one ladle, and one spatula


3. Plus a multipurpose plastic pail where both showcases were distributed in.


The GK Brookside residents with myself, Sis Angie, and Ms Beng Sy, a volunteer who helped purchase the items that made up the dining room and kitchen showcases which were still in the boxes around us

Each pail of these most basic and underrated necessities costs just around seven dollars. It seems like a very small amount but that is arguably the best seven-dollar investment we can ever make. It is an investment in their future. It is an assurance that people outside of GK care for them. It is an investment in hope. It is a tangible support to their indomitable spirit embodied by their battle cry BANGON BROOKSIDE.


With the Gawad Kalinga community organizer Tito Rabbi as he works with other volunteers doing the cleanup work in the basketball court and chapel area.

Four weeks since Ondoy, things are not yet back to normal; I doubt if they ever will. The library lost all its books, benches, and computers. The pre-schoolers still do not have their SIBOL school. The chapel has yet to be used since all contents of its altar and its sound system have been swept away and drowned. Some homes are still awaiting repair.




Yet in the face of all this tragedy, the residents remain hopeful, optimistic, grateful, humorous, united, and full of faith. When I ask them why or how come, they just give me knowing smiles and point to the sky, or answer with an equivocal “Ganun talaga, Doc.”



Parents of the children attending the Stella Maris school inside the village clean the classrooms in preparation for the resumption of classes.

I would like to think that a huge chunk of this upbeat outlook is due to the seeds planted in the community’s heart by way of Gawad Kalinga:

That there is nothing we cannot accomplish if we work together

That we are not alone in this struggle, thanks to partners, volunteers, and friends

That the Lord is always on top of things.

Amen.



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Robbed the right way

I chanced upon this song as the end credits of Made of Honor, starring Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan, unfurled. Among its various versions available online, I think this is the best.

Dashboard Confessional
"Stolen"
Dusk and Summer (2006)
Live@Yahoo! Music Exclusive Performance




We watch the season pull up its own stakes
And catch the last weekend of the last week
Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced,
Another sun soaked season fades away

You have stolen my heart

Invitation only, grand farewells
Crash the best one, of the best ones
Clear liquor and cloudy eyed, too early to say goodnight

You have stolen my heart

And from the ballroom floor we are in celebration
One good stretch before our hibernation
Our dreams assured and we all, will sleep well

You have stolen
You have stolen my heart

I watch you spin around in your highest heels
You are the best one, of the best ones
We all look like we feel

You have stolen my
*You* have stolen my heart

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why 350 is an important number



Regardless if the effects of climate change will come to fruition in the next ten years or in the next thousand years- the time to act is now.

Join me at <a href=www.350.org" width="480" height="60" border="0" />

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change: The power of one



I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do. - Helen Keller

The scale of the problems plaguing the world as regards climate change is terribly immense. It can be a daunting and insurmountable challenge, especially when one thinks that s/he is but a small, powerless, voiceless speck in the swirl of humanity. And yet when all our individual efforts to do good are taken together, we can possibly be the change we want to see in the world, as Mahatma Gandhi prescribes.

Here are some practical ways of NOT contributing to climate change:

1. BYOB: Bring your own bags. These mainstays of landfills, plastic bags, can last for at least a millennium. Let's bring our own reusable bags when we go to the grocery so we don't contribute to the garbage problem haunting cities big and small.

2. Don't be tied up. Dress comfortably sans neckties and/or formal long-sleeved clothing. This may lead to lower energy costs since you don't have to cool artificially warmer rooms no thanks to our buttoned up suits.

3. Pay bills online and on time. Enrollment of and prompt bills payment online helps lessen the gas consumed when you have to go to the bank or payment establishment, or the trees felled in order to make the paper reminding you to pay overdue bills.

4. Good tire pressure, less pressure on the environment. Having correct vehicle tire pressure lessens gas consumption.

5. Be enlightened: Change your light bulbs. Using the more-expensive compact fluorescent light bulb is ultimately the brighter idea. Case in point- a 7-watt CFL bulb gives off light equal to a 40-watt one, for a longer period of time.

For more ideas on how you can harness the power of one, visit TIME Magazine's The Global Warming Survival Guide.

Reduce your environmental footprint


Here's another set of suggestions from the World Wildlife Fund - Philippines on how you can make a difference-
when you shop... when you go on vacation... or wherever you maybe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Heroism in the time of pushcarts and pop music

Heroes need not wield pistols or spears to be dubbed as such. Heroes need not die (needlessly) to underscore the urgency and immensity of the cause they fight for. After all, heroes are more valuable alive than dead =]



Sunday, October 11, 2009

UP Manila - Ayala Recyclables Fair: October 16, 2009

After ONDOY, after PEPENG- Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Now more than ever!

WHAT:
UP Manila - Ayala Recyclables Fair

WHEN:
October 16, 2009 from 9am to 3pm

WHERE:
the Philippine General Hospital basketball court Taft Avenue, Manila

The following can be bought, sold, or disposed of:

Used paper and posters, old newspapers at magazines, obsolete books

Plastic bottles, sando bags

Plastic furniture, Tetra Pak cartons

Aluminum cans and tin cans

Used lead acid batteries

Non-working electronic appliances

Betamax, cassette tapes

Old TVs, CPUs, monitors, etc.

Toner and ink cartridges

Tarpaulin streamers, household batteries, Styrofoam, mobile phones, chargers


For inquiries, please get in touch with Anna De Guzman of the UP Biology Majors Society thru anna16_deguzman@yahoo.com.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Thank your teachers today!



We’ve spent the most time with them during our young lives- whether we liked it or else.

They are our second parents. For some, the only ones they’ve had.

They listen to us- even if we don’t listen to them.

Each artwork we churn out is a masterpiece, each novice essayist is Nobel-worthy.

They would shush us at times but they can’t tolerate us not speaking up.

They’ve made us stand in the corner; they’ve helped us make a stand.

They expanded our imagination. They kept us grounded.

Through lessons in school, we learned there is a greater world outside.

They’ve willingly tethered themselves to the classroom so that we, their students, can soar beyond the possible.

To borrow a line of Isaac Newton- someone I met in one of our Physics classes- if I can see farther, it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants.

I am eternally grateful to you all.

--==+==--

I really believe that a great future is unfolding for me thanks to the quality education I received. Many Filipino children, though, are at a disadvantage because of the many gaps in the Philippine education system. Hordes of teachers leave the country to seek work opportunities with better compensation. Many teach in schools that are on the verge of toppling over. There are just too many students in a class, sharing too few books, taught by too few teachers, with too few trainings and continuing education activities.

You don't have to be a public university teacher like me to know that the educational system needs a major overhaul of all its parts. The task is daunting but we can start with the one who is most indispensable in the classroom- the teacher. Increase the budget for health so that more teachers can be hired, they can be given more humane compensation, and their minds are sharpened by further schooling.

I echo the call of the UNESCO- investing to have quality teachers now is an investment that will yield dividends of a better future for everyone.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flood waters- YOU WILL NOT DROWN OUR SPIRIT!

Amidst all the videos and pictures posted online, as it continues to hog the headlines of major dailies and TV news programs, after hearing all the stories of survivors firsthand, the aftermath of tropical storm Ondoy just knocks the wind out of me.

I can’t help but wonder- How does God answer all our prayers for assistance and pleas for help? I wonder how God prioritizes. I wonder if He covers His eyes and ears so He can have some peace and quiet. I wonder if He fears opening His Facebook account or if He dreads reading His mobile phone’s inbox since each would most likely be containing a message that unloads a problem unto Him.

Inasmuch as the horrendous stories brought about by Ondoy are overwhelming, the accounts of those made it and made others’ lives better are more powerful-

Stories of barangay (village) leaders who go from one house to another in their 4000-population area to ensure that the meager relief goods- boiled eggs, no-cook noodles, etc- gets distributed equally, but especially to those who need food the most

Couples stranded inside their cars at the height of the rains and floods who continue to tweet or post Facebook status messages that pass on vital information like emergency numbers to call or pleas for help from similarly stranded storm victims atop their homes’ roofs

Nurses and midwives who choose to clean the health center they work in first before cleaning their homes- all of which are inundated by muddy waters- so that first thing Monday morning they can already treat patients affected by the storm

Students who, rather than relish the unexpected holiday or study for exams, get together to sort donated food items, clothes, medicines and pack them into useful bundles ready for donation

Business owners who ask where can they bring freshly-baked bread enough to feed 300 people

People who readily cough out 250 sleeping mats after hearing a feeble request for one

From an innocent bystander, I was somehow thrust into a position to help orchestrate the University’s response to help our flooded partner communities. With mock resistance, I relented and shouldered the additional responsibility. I think I will end up with the better side of the bargain.

To be able to help is great, but an even greater blessing is to see God’s hands in action, through the magnificent people I mentioned above and the hundred others like them. They tweet and text without fear or favor, with eyes, ears, and hearts wide open.

I wish I can honor them through more eloquent words. But of course, true to their nature, having eased another human being’s pain is sufficient reward and motivation.

--==+==--

I am personally raising funds to help the survivors of Tropical Storm Ondoy here in the Philippines. I volunteer with two organizations right now who aim to help some 10,000 affected individuals. I am appealing to those happen to land in my blog to help by praying with us here in the Philippines. You can also put your faith into action by clicking the DONATE button below. Rest assured 100% of donated money will be used to buy the needs of those who survived the floods, including but not limited to getting them safe drinking water, sleeping mats, blankets, etc.







An accounting of money received, who gave them, plus where the money was used will be posted regularly.

I know that in this day and age of cynicism and jadedness, heroes for others still abound.

Thank you very much for your generosity =]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Help Tropical Storm Ondoy Survivors!



The UP Manila campus, including the Philippine General Hospital, plus the buildings surrounding it were hardly visible as tropical storm ONDOY passed through Metro Manila. But we were still luckier than most.

Here are some emergency numbers that maybe contacted if you or your loved ones need help or rescuing in your flooded communities:

Marikina Rescue 6462436

La Salle Greenhills Rescue 09209070290

Senator Manny Villar's dump trucks (which can pickup stranded passengers) 09174226800 09172414864

Red Cross Rubberboats 0917-899-7898 and 0938-442697

National Disaster Coordinating Council 911-1406, 912-2665, 911-5061, 912-5296, 911-1873, 912-2112, 734-2118

Hotline for rubber boats and truck 8383203, 8383354

Dump trucks for rescue 0917-422-6800 or 0927-675-1981

Nat'l Disaster Coord. Council 9115061 to 65

MERALCO +639175592824 +639209292824 +63216211

MMDA +632136

For those who wish to help the survivors of tropical storm Ondoy, I've setup a simple PayPal online monetary donation system. Just go to click on the *DONATE* button at the righthand panel on this page. Kindly leave a comment below or via email if you've made a donation so I can update you re how/where your contribution was used. Any amount is most welcome =] Thank you very much!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blog Action Day = Day to talk about climate change (10/15/2009)



Change.org is powering the Blog Action Day 2009 happening on October 15th. On this day, bloggers the world over are highly encouraged to talk about a common theme to raise awareness about a global concern that just cannot be ignored - CLIMATE CHANGE.

In our own creative way, whatever niche we occupy in the blogosphere, we can take part in Blog Action Day 2009: tech blogs can talk about environment-friendly gadgets, travel blogs can discuss on how to be green while on the road, photography blogs can feature photos exposing environmental heroes and villains, etc.

We have about three weeks to prepare for this mega-event. Let's use our blogs as avenues for making the world a better place- one blog post at a time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In My Life (Star Cinema, 2009)


After a series of excellent films, it felt wrong to not see right away the newest John Lloyd Cruz film, In My Life, its plot and the entire hullabaloo around it notwithstanding. The presence of Philippine movie legend Vilma Santos plus the choice of New York City (one of my most favorite places in the world) as the story’s backdrop really made it a really compelling film to watch. Once again, Star Cinema casts its filmmaking net wide and manages to produce a film that talks about your story, his struggles, her frustration, our victory, my life.

The film is happily unsettling in the sense that it has shatters prevailing stereotypes and mindsets about so many peoples, things, and happenings.

(Spoilers maybe in the movie review that follows below.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Task Force Noah: Aid needed for the flood victims in Zambales

Posting this appeal for help for the survivors of floods here in the Philippines.

Let's all be a blessing to them. Share your resources. Spread the word.

Thank you!


SLB TASK FORCE NOAH: Bangon Botolan
for the victims of recent flooding in Botolan, Zambales

On September 9, Tropical Depression Maring brought non-stop rains caused massive flooding areas of Zambales and Olongapo, particularly in the municipality of Botolan.

The people of Zambales have lost livelihood and crops, amounting to 9.7 million pesos. And The Zambales Olongapo-Bugallon Road is not passable to all types of vehicles. In the meantime, continuous monitoring, restoration and repair of the scoured approach is on-going.

In line with this we are mobilizing SLB TFNoah : Bangon Botolan

Yes the floods are starting to subside and the families are slowly getting back to their houses. This is precisely when they will need our help, while they are in the process of rebuilding their old homes and livelihood. Your donations and assistance will be of much help to them as they try to regain their homes and farmlands which were lost to the flood.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Donations may be brought to Cervini Dorm, Ateneo De Manila University
(Please also leave a comment or send me an email via my a.k.a. elsalvadordelmundo link on the right to know more about ways of sending your donations.)

Lend your time. Be a volunteer, help packing and transporting the goods.

Nourish them. Donate rice, sardines, noodles, coffee, sugar, noodles, salt

Keep them warm. Supply mats, blankets, mosquito nets, towel, clothes, slippers, toiletries

Provide for them. Direct deposits (cash or check) may be made to:

SIMBAHANG LINGKOD NG BAYAN (Account Name/Payee)
Bank of the Philippine Islands (Loyola-Katipunan Branch)
Peso Checking Account Number
3081-1111-61
Dollar Savings Account Numbe
3084-0420-12

Or channel to:
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan
Loyola House of Studies
Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights 1108, Quezon City

Contact Information:
Landline: +632 426-6101 loc. 3440/3441
Telefax: +632 426-5968
Web: www.slb.ph
Look for: Ms. Love Dorero

For proper acknowledgement:

1. Please fax a copy of the validated deposit slip to SLB through telefax +632 426-5968
2. Kindly indicate contact information: Name, address, email, landline/mobile
3. Those who wish to be anonymous may skip this procedure

We would like to extend our gratitude to our partners in the Ateneo Dorm’s ARSA (Ateneo Resident Students Association) who volunteered to receive the donations and offered their place as a drop-off point. Maraming salamat.

BRO. ISMAEL JOSE CHAN-GONZAGA, S.J.
Executive Director
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Of Black Eyed Peas and Jollibees

Examples of
A- Things I learned from Facebook
B- Things we can accomplish if we just work together =]

Enjoy the videos, especially for Pinoys enduring this cold, rainy season =]


Oprah's 24th Season Kickoff Party, video from Oprah.com



Jollibee's SM Mall of Asia Flash Dance Mob, video from http://bestyoucanbee.com/

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

UP Manila - Ayala Recyclables Fair / September 29, 2009

This September- Celebrate sanitation! Declare freedom from the tyranny of trash!

WHAT:
UP Manila - Ayala Recyclables Fair

WHEN:
September 29, 2009 from 9am to 3pm

WHERE:
the Philippine General Hospital basketball court Taft Avenue, Manila

The following can be bought, sold, or disposed of:

Used paper and posters, old newspapers at magazines, obsolete books

Plastic bottles, sando bags

Plastic furniture, Tetra Pak cartons

Aluminum cans and tin cans

Used lead acid batteries

Non-working electronic appliances

Betamax, cassette tapes

Old TVs, CPUs, monitors, etc.

Toner and ink cartridges

Tarpaulin streamers, household batteries, Styrofoam, mobile phones, chargers


For inquiries, please get in touch with Anna De Guzman of the UP Biology Majors Society thru anna16_deguzman@yahoo.com.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Never lost, always found (15): Timely, timeless

Tired? Tortured? Tormented?

Here is a timely, timeless reminder of God's love-


...[A]nd say to the faint-hearted, 'Be strong! Do not be afraid. Here is your God, vengeance is coming, divine retribution; he is coming to save you.'

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed,

then the lame will leap like a deer and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy; for water will gush in the desert and streams in the wastelands,

the parched ground will become a marsh and the thirsty land springs of water...

Isaiah 35:4-7, First Reading for Sunday, September 6th.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Two hundred fifty days 'til the May 2010 Philippine elections

Gray skies loom overhead but a swathe of hopeful sunny clarity is not too distant.

While I believe that each time to vote is an important civic duty, I really feel that the upcoming 2010 polls is make or break for the Philippines. This crossroads we are treading towards could be the spark we all need in order to make the country teeter in favor of development or the slope unto which we continue to be mired in the muck of stagnation, if not worse.

Recent not-so-mini upheavals the Philippine political landscape have left many wary and worried about the 2010 elections in particular and the country's future in general. Inasmuch as it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when the political leaders we look to for direction and guidance seem to be lost themselves, we must be firm in the resolve that those leaders DO NOT solely have the responsibility in mapping our collective future. For the most part, it is still up to the voting public who will get to sit and govern our 90-odd million population. Definitely, the 1-million-strong civil service system pales in comparison to the power wielded by the entire nation.

I hear from many people that they are beginning to feel that they might as well not participate in the polls since the choices are the proverbial devil and the deep blue sea. Sure, for now, the options seem to be not... optimal... for the needs of the country. But I am certain further scrutiny will yield a candidate who is better than most, a lesser evil, so to speak. The candidates will run, whether we like it or not. But the equation for their election will remain incomplete until we permit them to govern. We just have to do our part in making the country better. We must not remain limited to the sidelines, merely booing, cheering, or lambasting leaders alternately; rather, we must be partners in building the nation, brick by brick, in whatever sphere of influence we belong to.

If we all give up on our country, we become instruments facilitating our own demise, unwittingly fulfilling what the naysayers among us have been predicting. There is a lot that needs to be done, there is still time.

--==+==--

We still have until October 31st to register for the 2010 elections. The procedures on how to register, mechanism to check your name if it's still in the voters' list, and the laws governing campaigning, among other information, can be found here in the official website of the Commission on Elections.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

An online contest like no other

EC-ContestI hardly deviate from my usual line-up of topics I write about. However, I interrupt regular programming to bring a bit of good news for bloggers, small online business owners, etc. Here is an opportunity to earn cash, advertising credits, domains, blog makeovers, reviews, hosting space, increase the number of links to your blogs, etc through a contest like no other.

Be a part of The 1 Million EC-Free Traffic-Contest either as a prize sponsor or a participant to the weekly contests and have the chance to win the following:


25 $ cash prize from
Business Sphere - Business Advice, Entrepreneurship, Consulting, Real Estate

20 $ cash prize from
My Financial Corner

15 $ cash prize from
A Little Boy's blog
Too little time to blog

10 $ cash prize from
One World Realty Philippines
PF ♥ Org

Other prizes are as follows: