So far, so good

What for should I ask more

Thursday, January 29, 2009

UP Manila - Ayala Recyclables Fair, February 10, 2009

Start the new year right, light, and green!

Join the 3rd UP MANILA-AYALA RECYCLABLES FAIR to be held on Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 9am - 3pm, at the UP College of Medicine carpark (behind the Paz Mendoza Building and in front of the CAMP Building) University of the Philippines Manila, Taft Avenue, Manila.

Get rid of the clutter from your homes and stand a chance to earn from the following:

Used paper at posters, old newspapers at magazines, obsolete books
Plastic bottles, sando bags
Plastic furniture, Tetra Pak cartons
Aluminum cans at tin cans
Used lead acid batteries
Non-working electronic appliances
Betamax, cassette tapes
Old CPUs at monitors
Toner at ink cartridges
Tarpaulin streamers, household batteries, Styrofoam, mobile phones, chargers

For inquiries, please get in touch with Angeli Guadalupe or Renzo Guinto

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

PhotoHunt: Chipped

They lived in shanties made from light materials, with rusted roofs and walls with chipped or peeled off paint, beside a river that doubles as drinking water source and toilet. Now, several hundred families are rebuilding their lives in more dignified homes thanks to the initiatives of the Saint Hannibal Mary Di Francia Empowerment Center (SHEC), a non-government organization named after the founder of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus, a religious order of Catholic priests who initially spearheaded the NGO.

The priests and brothers while undergoing their formation studies used to just live with the residents of these slum communities in the city of Pasay, just adjacent to the Philippine capital of Manila. They engaged the community by basically helping them enrich their spiritual life. But seeing that their needs go beyond the spiritual and inspired by the community's tenacity and desire to better themselves, the priests and brothers founded SHEC and helped organize the community to form the counterpart people's organization, the Saint Hannibal Christian Community or SHaCC.

SHEC and SHaCC aim to build God's kingdom here on earth or at least something very close to it. The religious and the residents of these slums try to create a holistic community development program that include initiatives for and provision of quality shelter, health, education, environment, livelihood, values formation, peace and justice, and child and youth development. Knowing fully that they cannot do it alone, the NGO and the people's organization partner with institutions which help further their goals. Collaborators include the Habitat for Humanity and the government's Community Mortgage Program for the shelter component and the UP College of Medicine for the health component, among others.

The University, represented by myself and the students training under our Section of Community Medicine, visit the SHaCC housing site several times a month, engaging the volunteer health workers from among the residents through health education, covering a wide array of topics from the use of medicinal plants to reproductive health and healthy lifestyle initiatives like daily exercise and proper diet. Their eagerness to learn, improve their own health, and help their neighbors improve theirs are barometers through which I can measure hope and the possibility of change.

From shanties that get toppled when a stronger breeze blows to concrete homes which their own hands and sweaty bodies build; from a culture of dog-eat-dog to one that embraces the reality that they are each others' keepers; from a mentality of hands outstretched to receive alms and dole outs to a sense of renewed dignity where they can look anybody in the eye and greet anyone with a firm handshake- these erstwhile slum-dwellers have nowhere else to go but up and out, beyond poverty.

To help and be part of this worthwhile endeavor, visit the website of the Saint Hannibal Empowerment Center - or leave a comment after this post =]

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"The price and promise of citizenship:" Barack Obama's inaugural address 2009

Despite having an 18-hour work day already, I am still up, reeling from the momentous event that just transpired thousands of kilometers away in the current home of my parents. Barack H. Obama has just been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. He has just delivered an inaugural address that outlines the blueprint of his administration. It was a classic Obama moment- simple, eloquent, succinct, inspiring.

Unfortunately, I must admit that I hardly remember how the inaugural ceremonies of Philippine presidents go.

I do recall in 1992 an assignment given by our Social Studies teacher. Mrs. Torcuator asked us to watch the inauguration of President Fidel V. Ramos and report to class the next meeting what tradition outgoing President Corazon C. Aquino broke. The tradition: Mrs. Aquino not only met and brought Mr. Ramos to the Quirino Grandstand but she stayed for the inauguration ceremony itself.

I do recall in 1998 the brave pronouncement of President Joseph Estrada about the type of presidency Filipinos should expect- one that is free from nepotism and favoritism. We know how THAT administration ended.

I do recall that on this same day eight years ago, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath of office as President, in front of a very hopeful crowd of a younger generation, drawn to the streets in protest, expressing our nationalism, standing up against a corrupt leadership. Her face was plastered in the headlines of international broadcast networks, juxtaposed with that of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. Both were children of former presidents, assuming office in the most controversial of circumstances. Both now await history’s judgment of their lengthy, stressed stay in office…

And now, I must admit I feel excited with and for citizens of the US at the beginning of the Obama administration. Here is a guy, literally coming from nowhere, rising to the highest post in his nation, shattering the centuries old barriers of discrimination, paving the way for a sliver of hope to pierce the cloud of fear and discontent and the possibility of change to sweep the world over.

I must admit I feel, likewise, an ounce of envy. Who can and will be the “Philippine Obama”- that somehow who will draw Filipinos out of indifference, wring tears from our eyes when s/he speaks, spur us to action, inspire us to live out Scriptures’ challenge and direction that we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers?

I must admit, I am excited about 2010. It can very well be the Philippines’ make or break election year.

Here is my most favorite part of Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address. Replace “American” with “Filipino” or “Finn” or “Tanzanian” and this clarion call will still resonate with our collective national aspirations, challenges, and responsibilities.

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This excerpt came from the full text of Pres. Barack Obama's Inaugural Speech available from the Associated Press as presented by Yahoo! News in

I was setting up my camera (an Olympus FE20 toy, birthday gift from my mom and pop!), ready to document a once in a lifetime event. I was stacking books and whatnot to capture via the TV President Obama’s oath of office and inaugural address. Just as Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman were playing the last notes of their presentation, my batteries conked out! C’est la vie =] I guess I will just have to make sure my battery is charged for Obama’s inauguration for his second term hehe

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

PhotoHunt: Hats

As their reputations precede them, being in their presence is such a joy and a blessing. I am no art critic but seeing the works of Rembrandt (above) and Van Gogh (below) up close, their use of differing styles and colors in their aim to have a unique capture of life is enough to enliven the spirits of the most uncouth and uninterested. Museum-crazy that I am, sans all the other excellent exhibits in the Museum of Modern Art, these hatted portraits make all the walking and jostling through New York City so worthwhile.

And speaking of being mad and hatters, here's a tidbit I picked up when we visited the Savannah History Museum.

Aaaah. Now we know =]

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

PhotoHunt: Aftermath

In the aftermath of World War II, many countries, including Finland, were saddled by burgeoning problems, including financial collapse, health system challenges, and ideology shifts. But bouncing rather quickly from this quagmire, the Finnish capital of Helsinki successfully hosted the 1952 Summer Olympics which saw the debut appearance of athletes from countries like the Soviet Union and Israel, among others.

One of the main events of the Olympics- as in any Olympics before until now- was the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. In the Helsinki Games, Paavo Nurmi, the Flying Finn was one of two Olympic stalwarts who heralded the opening of the XVth Olympiad, alongside Hannes Kolehmainen. In the aftermath of the Nurmi juggernaut, the competition was made to drool at his nine gold medals, three silver medals, and 22 world records, earned all or in part when he participated in the 1920 Antwerp, 1924 Paris, and 1928 Amsterdam Olympiads.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Treasured Ches

She is one of the best souvenirs I have from high school, a friendship that has spanned and thrived for more than 13 years. We have survived the harshness of secondary school bullies, the heady days of college, hearts broken, financial crises. I give her props for enduring my tempestuousness- as I have her erstwhile stubbornness and occasional imperious self.

Just as when I thought I know everything about her, she springs a fast one- a wedding celebration that rocked the worlds of those close to her. I never thought she had an artsy, girly bone in her; I was wrong. From her white vintage Jaguar bridal car, to the very coordinated autumn motif; from her crystal-laden gown, to the smokeless pyrotechnics that erupted in the altar as she and her groom sealed their vows with a kiss- I thought I was crashing somebody else's wedding celebration. I was shaking my head while having this sheepish smile plastered on my face throughout the ceremonies and beyond: you think you know people...

It felt a tad *weird* because she didn't seem the type to swim and live out this fantasy wedding, given her no nonsense mentality, street smarts and (then) abhorrence for anything kitschy. Then again, everything in her wedding was classy, with the ceremonies mounted with nary a hitch, the food superb, the string quartet fantastic, the pop band subtle, the emcee engaging without being obstrusive.
After all, 1) people do change and 2) she's very much entitled to HER day at the altar, in the manner and form she wishes her wedding to take place, in the face of all that she and her family have been through.

I am so very glad to have been part of the wedding celebration of Arbeth and Cheryl (Ches to many of her friends). It was such a joy to witness their love affirmed in front of God's community. Added bonus was seeing friends with whom I have not touched base for several years. Funny how fast the years have gone by... Lovely how well the years have treated us... Interesting how we've all changed but essentially remained the same...

All the best to you, Arbeth and Ches!

May the LORD bless you and take care of you;
May the LORD be kind and gracious to you;
May the LORD look on you with favor and give you peace.
- Numbers 6:24-26

(In the photos: Ches as she first emerges from the hotel room she got ready in; the Glass Garden in Pasig, all decked up for the celebration; the couple with Tita Julie, Ches's mom; the newlyweds with myself and Portia, our college quadriga minus Ellen who got sick that day. We missed you Ellen!)

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

PhotoHunt: Hope

This was the float of our Health Sciences Center campus during the University of the Philippines Centennial Lantern Parade held last December 18th. The main figures on the float represented the health professionals graduated by our campus- UP Manila- which included social scientists, physical and occupational therapists, nurses, public health practitioners, pharmacists, dentists, physicians, and health educators.

But the most important figure is that of The Oblation, the University's main icon, for gift of oneself to the country, offering of oneself wholeheartedly, taking life's challenges as one's own while embracing others in a spirit of cooperation, friendship, collegiality and equality, taking up the cudgels for the oppressed and marginalized. This has been the University's legacy of the past 100 years and its continuing mission in the next 100 years.

I hope and pray that this same selfless offering of oneself, doing whatever one small bit we can for others- when taken together- will make the world so much better, compared to when we first arrived on it.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Never lost, always found: Happy New Year 2009!

I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.

Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you.

You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.

Yes, I say, you will find me, and I will restore you to your land. I will gather you from every country and from every place to which I have scattered you, and I will bring you back to the land from which I had sent you away into exile.

I, the LORD, have spoken.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (Good News Bible)

The next time we worry about passing an exam or how a relative will get well from an illness or when we will find a job that will make ends meet, let's remember that God loves us so much He has even given His own Son to save us. So there is no good thing that He will withhold from us. Everything will happen according to His perfect plan and timing. His generosity and faithfulness can NEVER be matched by anything or anyone.

Let's all have a blessed, grace-filled, Jesus-centered year!

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