Sunday, June 28, 2009

When "I Love You's" turn to L-Abuse

A very good friend from way back asked that we meet last week. I offered to have dinner with her on the evening of the same day she texted but she replied that she can't; she was meeting her lawyer. Oh wow, was my only reply. Secretly, I was making a happy dance inside my head.

Finally.

For almost a year, she has been enduring the physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, economic abuse inflicted on her by her husband. But she just wouldn't budge. She wouldn't leave their home, she just can't seem to let go of him. In spite of everything. She was still hoping he'd come back to her, to the way things were previously.

Her friends and family tried almost every tactic in the book- from calmly reasoning with her to giving her the cold treatment to wooing her to threatening to cease being friends with her. To no avail.

"But I love him" was the argument she always put up against all the wise counsel she received.

Until she woke up one morning, black and blue, her body and soul was. She just told her mom- "I'm tired. I don't want this anymore." As moms are wont to do, she and her mom made the rounds of all relevant government institutions and within about a week, her husband received the notice that he was being sued for violating the law related to Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.

Her case is still being heard right now. God-willing, she'll be freed from the shackles of this dangerous relationship. Please pray with us- that she remain strong and unwavering in her conviction to seek the justice due her, in the face of her husband and his family that remains to be a threat to her physical, emotional, psychological safety.

One day, may she be able to recite what is written below, with ease, confidence, joy.

The Survivor's Psalm

I have been victimized.
I was in a fight that was not a fair fight.
l did not ask for the fight.
I lost.

There is no shame in losing such fight
Only in winning.
I have reached the stage of survivor
And am no longer a slave of victim status.

I look back with sadness rather than hate.
I look forward with hope rather than despair.
I may never forget
But I need not constantly remember.

I was a victim.
I am a survivor.

To be slapped or kicked once by your spouse or husband is to be hurt one time too many. Call the Philippine National Police hotline 117 or visit their police precincts' Women's Desk for immediate help.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Saving the catchers, catching the saviors

I (finally) caught 27 Dresses on Star Movies last weekend. It turned out to be a really entertaining romantic comedy centered on the life of Jane, played by Katherine Heigl, who discovered early on in her life that she was meant to be heaven sent to brides in distress. When her own sister managed to schedule a trip to the altar with the man Jane has been in-love with for the longest time- her boss, Kevin, who writes the accounts of society weddings in a New York paper, helps her unravel the real reason behind she’s worn those 27 bridesmaid’s dresses.

Jane would be what Dr. Honey Carandang, a preeminent Filipino psychologist, would refer to as a “tagasalo” or a “catcher” or a “savior.” She’s someone who gladly (or not) will do anything and everything for others. She just cannot say no. She manages to juggle all responsibilities and demands, true, but to the detriment at times of her own psyche. Rightly or wrongly, she believes she HAS to do it FOR them.

Tagasalo in many families would be the unmarried child who would forego marriage until all siblings have graduated from college. The tagasalo would be the one who stays home to care for ailing parents. The tagasalo would most likely be in the service or caring profession, an unwitting extension perhaps of the role s/he has taken on for him-/herself at home.

I heard this tagasalo concept for the first time in the training we had for frontline responders to disasters and armed conflict. When it was mentioned by our facilitator, Ernest Tan, there was audible murmur of self-recognition among the participants. Many, if not most of those in the room, were tagasalo, saviors in their own spheres of influence. Unfortunately, the tagasalo is very prone to burnout.

Ernest defined burnout as a state of fatigue and frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward. It often involves depletion, wearing out, exhaustion of physical and mental resources by excessively striving to reach some unrealistic expectations imposed by one’s self or by the values of society.

Burnout can come from internal or external “pressures.” It can come from an internal drive to succeed gone awry, taking oneself too seriously, or inability to separate oneself from one’s job title. It can likewise come from low work or organizational support, poor incentive scheme, or inordinately idealistic expectations from superiors or subordinates.

So are you burned out already? Take this simple self-check. Remember though that this is cannot give you a complete diagnosis of burnout and it is best to seek help from a mental health professional. At the very least, this test may give a label to *that* feeling that’s been bugging you for sometime.

Direction: Assign a number from 1 (for no or little change) to 5 (for a great deal of change) to designate the degree of change you perceive in yourself and the world around you over the past six months.

1. Do you tire more easily and feel exhausted much of the time?
2. Do you find yourself just putting in the hours and going through the motions?
3. Do you notice feeling detached and even avoiding clients, colleagues, family and friends?
4. Do you feel bored and apathetic about your work or commitments?
5. Do you tend to eliminate more enjoyable activities because there is no more time for them?
6. Do you observe a tendency to engage in self-deprivations, i.e. excessive overtime, working late into the night, weekends and during vacations?
7. Do you become overly invested in a client’s welfare or in a project to the exclusion of other commitments?
8 Do you begin to “medicate” yourself with food, alcohol, pills, etc as a way of coping?
9. Do you notice becoming increasingly cynical and disenchanted?
10. Do you observe becoming more cranky and irritable?
11. Do you feel resentful of the time you spent with others and wish to have more time for yourself?
12. Do you feel relieved when an original plan to attend to a client or a project was cancelled?
13. Do you begin to feel pessimistic about your client or your commitment?
14. Do you have feelings of anger and contempt over many of your clients?
15. Do you question your effectiveness as a helping professional?

0 – 25: You’re doing fine.
26 – 35: There are things you should be watching.
36 – 50: You’re a candidate.
51 – 65: You are burning out.
Over 65: You’re in a dangerous place, threatening to your physical and mental well-being.

So how did you fare? Me? Let's just say that I'm a candidate =0

For more information on burnout and dealing with such stress in the workplace and beyond, visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention occupational health and safety science blog, and the CDC's online "booklet" on dealing with stress at work.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father’s Day to me (or How I became a father in the mall today before breakfast)

I was half an hour early for the opening of the supermarket. I decided to kill time by reading the book I bought the day prior. I chose to sit for a while in the only open establishment near the supermarket, a coffeeshop.

Shopgirl: Good morning, sir!
Me: Good morning. I’ll have a ham and cheese croissant and…
Shopboy: Good morning sir. (Takes over the cashier from Shopgirl).
Me: (looks at the menu board) I’ll have a tall iced tea.
Shopboy: Okay sir. How are you, sir?
Me: I’m great.
Shopboy: Oh, Happy Father’s Day nga po pala! (Happy Father’s Day, by the way)
(Tense, awkward millisecond)
Me: Ah no… (with a tiny hand-wave-shuffle gesture)
Shopboy: Ah hindi pa po pala. (Turns around, fixes the drink, sets it on the tray). That will be 175 pesos. (I hand him my payment) Your change, sir. (Turns around to get the croissant and sets it on the tray). Thank you, sir!
Me: Thank you.

I was a bit stunned. It was the first time I was greeted Happy Father’s Day. It caught me off guard; it sure seemed that way, too, for dear Shopboy.

I read my book, ate breakfast, then went to get groceries. But as I was driving home I began to wonder, as that Father’s Day mis-greeting set in- why did Shopboy give me the Father’s Day greeting? It’s not as if “Happy Father’s Day!” is like “Merry Christmas” that you can wish on anybody and everybody…

Maybe I “look” it. But what does “looking like a dad mean?” Maybe its my, um, rotund, horizontally-challenged physique. The beer belly is often a telltale sign of fatherhood- or a drinking problem.

Maybe it was my rather thick wallet. Daddies usually are loaded. Especially sugar daddies (or so do the girls think). Too bad the only things thickening my wallet are ATM balance inquiry receipts. I check my ATM daily in the hope that a miracle will happen and money will magically appear in my account even if I don’t deposit.

Or maybe he saw my rather lengthy grocery list. From where he was standing, it sure appeared that I was shopping for a family of four. For the record, I am single, I live alone, and the lengthy grocery list explains my rotund shape.

I still wonder. I don’t have the gall to ask him though; he looked pretty embarrassed already as soon as he realized how inappropriate his greeting was. I know I was, oddly enough.

Let me make this clear first: I was not, and am not offended by the Father's Day greeting. I’m just wondering what signal I emitted, what sign was flashing, what tarpaulin signage prompted him to greet me Happy Father’s Day.

Maybe it was the little boy holding my hand that kept jabbering, “Daddy! Espresso, Daddy!” that gave him a hint.

I kid (pardon the pun), of course.

Aha!

It was the baby I was cradling in my arms that may have sealed the deal.

Or the vomit trail in front of my shirt.

Or the “I am the best dad” cap I was wearing.

But I digress.

Hmmm Maybe my “I am a father” aura is the reason why I am still single. Maybe that’s why some dates don’t go beyond the first one; dates tend to be turned off by someone who has a “baggage” already (“sabit” in local parlance). Or by someone who doesn’t pay his share of the bill. (YOU invited me out, remember?)

I jest, of course.

What makes a mere man a father is not his round belly but his rotund heart. A heart that can equally love each kid and his spouse: each gets 100% of his love.

What makes an ordinary guy a daddy isn’t his loaded wallet but his thick face and calloused hands. He ably defends his kids from any bully, whether it’s their classmate or their officemates and/or boss/es. He works hard… for the money… so hard for it honey… he works hard for the money… so he can treat them right… in Jollibee, Saisaki, Hooters, etc

What makes a chap a pop is the length of his patience. He deals a mature, loving answer to each inquiry, as if his kid’s life depended on it. The endless stream of “Why…?” a toddler asks is met with an uncomplaining, gentle, (usually) logical “Because…” Each tantrum, each fit, each outburst, each whim (or most whims… or many whims) is analyzed… understood… and met with a firm, soothing, caring, “No” or “Yes” whichever is applicable.

I have long maintained that I am not "father-material." Whenever I say this to colleagues, they always say that I am just saying that, that when it/she/he is there already, the “paternal” instincts will kick in. Maybe. I dread being a dad; I fear I’d be too permissive or I’d be too O-C. Or maybe I’d be a cool dad. Maybe.

So, maybe the Shopboy's greeting was really meant for me, an advanced greeting of sorts. A premonition. Then again, maybe by greeting me a Happy Father’s Day today- he jinxed it. *gasp*

One thing that I am certain is my gratitude to God for creating my father and that he’s given to me, and I to him. My father is not perfect but he’s perfectly imperfect. He fueled my zest for travel and for medicine. He showed me how to treat women correctly by taking care of my sister and my mom the best way he can. He bestowed on me the gene for wit and humor. He firmly imprinted on me the truth that real men can and must pray.
Happy Father’s Day, Pop. Enjoy Niagara Falls with Mom =]

Come a future third Sunday of June, somebody will wish me a Happy Father’s Day, and I’d smile and thank him or her, because by then the greeting would have been appropriate. Maybe.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Please don't turn away"


That was the appeal of Angelina Jolie as her public service advertisement on CNN began to unfold for the celebration of World Refugee Day today, June 20th. If it weren't for personal experience and had she not began with that line, I would have changed channels. After all, what do I have to do with those uprooted families is Pakistan or Iraq? What is it to us Filipinos if two million Pakistanis are displaced by the offensive of their armed forces versus the Taliban in the Swat Valley?
A child attempting to play or escape the noonday sun in the Batulawan evacuation center, Pikit, Cotabato.

We need not look far beyond our borders to know about internally displaced populations or IDP’s. The recent period of armed conflict in Mindanao and its aftermath (from August 2008 to May 2009) has resulted to the uprooting of 146,570 families or 703, 949 individuals from their homes and communities in 406 villages, 51 municipalities, 3 cities, and 11 provinces (Source: National Disaster Coordinating Council Situation Report 84, http://www.ndcc.gov.ph). Those are 703,949 Filipinos whose lives are forever changed because of loss of communities to belong to; loss of land to till; loss of education opportunities; loss of dignity, peace, stability, comfort.

(Want to help already? Visit the UN High Commissioner for Refugees website and the Philippine National Red Cross website to see how you can be the change you want to see in the world around you.)

I got a glimpse of their lives first hand while undertaking a project with the Department of Health with regard to disasters this summer. We were in the town of Pikit, Cotabato, site of cyclical armed conflict that comes and goes roughly every two years. Our team arrived at the (hopefully) tale-end of this cycle; there were just about five military checkpoints between the town and the regional center of Cotabato City. A good sign.

We visited an evacuation center in the village of Batulawan where several hundred families have been staying since nine months prior to our visit. They pitched their homes on parcels of land that was being planned to be part of the town cemetery. Their shelters- supposedly temporary- were nothing more than erstwhile sacks of rice bound with wire, made sturdy by bamboo frames. They had to live their own villages and aggregate in this one because of the increased fighting between government forces and the other combatant forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. They are being “encouraged” to return to their village, this repatriation even made more enticing by new homes and seed money for starting anew. But sporadic fighting still punctuate the days and nights; it looked like they were staying put. There was no other choice.
A tricycle can hardly accommodate its passengers plus the more precious cargo of this month's ration for an evacuee family.

Before we left the local health office to visit Batulawan, trucks of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross was being swarmed by a huge crowd. Apparently, we were in town the same time the monthly ration for the evacuees were being given. Each family received one-half sack of rice was given by the WFP, another half sack was given by the ICRC; 6 liters of cooking oil, and; 24 pieces of canned goods. There was some semblance of order as the items were being handed out. Soon after, men and teen-age boys were hauling their supplies unto waiting tricycles. After the latter were loaded, they sped through the national highway back to the evacuation center where their families awaited their meager supplies for the month. These, plus what the local government can give, will be enough to tide them over to the next month. Hopefully.
The men of Batulawan unload their "harvest" for the day... for the month.

All in all, we didn’t stay for more than eight hours in that town. We went to other areas in Mindanao- a vast majority of which is peaceful, let me make that clear- but the plight of the IDP’s in and around those areas were uniformly dismal. Local government resources were stretched almost to the breaking point. Frontline workers were tired, energy sapped by the everyday toil of attending to the evacuees while they themselves are displaced by the senseless violence. And those displaced populations- some are rearing to go back to the fields, some have had their spirits so broken that they now relish in their plight as evacuees- what with all the free goodies they receive, among others.

We conducted focused group discussions and key informant interviews for our DOH project. At first, as our participants shared the hardships of an evacuee, I had to project an almost disconnected demeanor, else I would have broken down. There were prevailing feelings that they have been forgotten, as manifested by the supplies that were never enough, the salaries that were never sufficient, the appreciation that do not come. However, I am buoyed by the dedication of the frontline workers, the efforts they exert despite the unwillingness of their bodies to take another step, their ingenuity and resourcefulness in the face of lack and want and threats to their safety and security. Their uncanny ability to smile amidst the atrocities, I am certain, are a great source of comfort to those whom they serve.
Our project team with our local contacts and frontline service providers in Pikit.

It has been more than three months since we undertook this leg of the project but they are still with me- faces, stories, hopes and all. The project still has a long way to go. And with all the bureaucratic tangle and obstacle course it still has to go through, I am honestly worried about the magnitude of its impact, if it will help those displaced populations and the frontline workers in time.
"Homes" for relocated and repatriated families dot the highway between Cotabato City, through Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat.

I almost did not want to leave them there in Mindanao. Everything seems so petty and frivolous here. But I guess somebody has to tell their story, so that people in Imperial Manila will get to know the real score in a land that is just about 1,800 kilometers away and yet it could very well be in another planet…
The children of Batulawan.

World Refugee Day is a remembrance of those displaced by calamities and atrocities. It aims to re-focus the attention on those who were uprooted by armed conflict, natural disasters, and human-made catastrophes. Yet it is also a celebration of their resilient spirit, the generosity of those who care for them, and the need to support and nurture both. It is likewise a call for greater understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of our individual and collective difference. It is a timely reminder for all of us to be peacemakers and changemakers and be each other’s keepers.

Please don’t turn away. But if you really have to, look around instead and see how much opportunity we have to change the lives of the least, the last, and the lost. For all we know, we need not look too far away. We don't even have to be Angelina Jolie.

Please visit the UN High Commissioner for Refugees website and the Philippine National Red Cross website to know more about the plight of displaced populations and see how you can be of help to them. They are real people with real needs.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy 148th Birthday, Dr. Jose Rizal!

I see him everyday, on our 1-piso coin...

in front of schools and plazas in the towns and cities I have the great blessing to visit, including this one in Cotabato City...

in Sogod, Southern Leyte...

in the Park that bears his name in Manila.

There are books, movies, websites, even stamps which endeavor to capture the essence of this man, not to mention the thousands of monuments in the country and in other parts of the world. These are all excellent efforts to depict Dr. Jose Rizal, our Philippine National Hero. But for me, the best way to remember and honor him is to give a human face to his ideals, to make his memory live on by living out these ideals: justice, equality, life-long learning, love for country.

The run up to the 2010 elections ought to be an opportune time to put into practice these principles. The one million new or first time voters who registered in just a four-month time period for next year's polls will hopefully be additional living representations of Dr. Rizal. May they- we- not fail him, the ones on whom he has pinned his hopes on for the Fatherland.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Buck to school


One of the hallmarks of my grade school education was the ever-present formal theme writing entry on "My Summer Vacation." In it I would regale my teachers, with tales of many a happy summer moment, usually spent playing in the street in front of our house or trips to my parents' hometown, my awful handwriting notwithstanding. As the years passed, summers continued to be welcome respite from the rigors of the just-concluded academic year.

I would often hear adults around me lament the absence of such timed, mandatory breaks; they didn't have to tell me twice to enjoy the summer breaks while I still had them. My first brush with an almost summer-less year was during internship, when we were in the hospital practically until the first week of April, took about three weeks off, then we were on duty almost every three days from May 1st to April 30th of the following year, including most holidays and foul weather.

Then when I did the crossover to the other side of the teacher's table, summer still meant a 40-hour work week but with less work. I somehow had more time to do personal and professional exploits. And this summer past was no exception. I probably traveled more and saw more places in the last two, three months than I have in my entire lifetime, literally and figuratively.

I was physically present for a good number of days in Cebu, Pampanga (where I had the thrill of a lifetime- flying near Mt. Arayat aboard an ultralight plane), Tagaytay, and parts of Mindanao like Cotabato City. But I likewise had the opportunity to do vicarious visits to places I've never heard of before like Pitogo, Zamboanga Del Sur or Tanudan in Kalinga Province. Words can hardly articulate the experiences hence the dearth of blog posts about these sojourns. Soon, when I've ruminated on them enough, I'd probably be able to regurgitate something intelligent. I just hope I don't take too long lest I forget the details and workmatters inundate and displace my memories of the summers past...

Suffice it to say, I am one with the myriad Filipino students who will be trooping back to school tomorrow- A(H1N1) fears and all. There is a tinge of sadness that summer for me officially ends today. I am heartened by the truth, though, that the school year unfolding IS still one great intellectual journey, with new medical students to engage in cerebral sparring and academic jousts, as we encourage and challenge them to remain steady in the course of rebuilding and strengthening the nation through quality, equitable health care.

Bon voyage. All aboard please!

--==+==--

(This is also an entry to this week's PhotoHunt: Lock. Thank goodness the harness and its fasteners held me in place; four hundred feet is a looong way down. For the record, I was in never in any danger. The flight was absolutely safe. Want a similar experience? Visit the Angeles City Flying Club for more details.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Independence Day musings of an (almost) unwitting Con-Ass accomplice

No to Conass!

The date was Tuesday, June 2, 2009, Day 2 of a grueling week-long workshop in Cagayan De Oro City we were doing with frontline responders to disasters and emergencies. The time was a little past 11pm. While channel surfing after a long, tiring day, Karl, a fellow workshop staff member I was bunking with, landed on the ABS-CBN News Channel. On the tv screen was a live coverage of a session of the House of Representatives. The caption below labeled the unfolding scenes as the debate on the House Resolution 1109 convening the Lower House into a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution.

I was shocked to see the images on tv. They had the tenacity to do over-extended sessions well into almost-midnight if the item being tackled served their own interests. But what really shook me was when the tyranny of the majority stifled further discussions on the House Resolution and the House voted via acclamation- by simple shouting of AYE or NAY for or against the resolution.

I was just shaking my head as the next scenes revealed themselves. Such impudence displayed was beyond words. I somehow slept soundly that night because of the tiredness my body experienced from the work I did that day. And the following morning and throughout the day, hardly anything was said about what transpired in Manila the night passed.

We were simply too busy doing our work, 1400 kilometers away from the capital.

We’re too busy, I’m too busy.

I just realized this a week after all hell broke loose in the Batasan, a day after the amalgam of ConAss opponents converged in Makati City. Sadly, I am one of a myriad of Pinoys who have become unwitting accomplices to the imminent desecration of the Constitution. When you’re busy trying to eke out a living and/or you’re f-a-a-a-a-r from the proverbial Imperial Manila, it’s not difficult to NOT care or be NOT aware.

I wonder how those in Batanes or Balanggiga or Coron or Caraga feel when political upheavals that will potentially harm them occur in Metro Manila without them having been asked or given the chance to say even just one syllable with regard to the matters on hand…

What a scary scenario that while earning an honest living away from the capital I suddenly wake up to the sad reality that the government was changed overnight and I have no other option but to pledge allegiance to the clowns who orchestrated this farce…

All because I couldn’t stop, pause, take time to be involved in discussing the issues of the day, arm myself with the correct information, or at the very least pray for my country…

And so, let me do my small, hopefully not belated bit in increasing the awareness on why amending the Constitution and amending it via constituent assembly is just unacceptable, unjust, unlawful.

Here are the proposed amendments to the Constitution:

Matrix House Proposed Charter Amendments Matrix House Proposed Charter Amendments mlq3 Existing provisions and proposed changes to the Constitution, as drafted by the House of Representatives in 2006.

Here are the representatives who sponsored and supported the House Resolution 1109 railroaded and rammed through our throats. As a reflex, we barf them out- resolution and representatives- in sheer, with the utmost disgust:

NAME DISTRICT/ AREA
ABANTE, BIENVENIDO M. “BENNY” 6TH District Pandacan
ABLAN, ROQUE R. JR Ilocos Norte, 1st District
AGBAYANI, VICTOR AGUEDO E. Pangasinan, 2nd District
AGYAO, MANUEL, S Kalinga Province
ALBANO (III), RODOLFO T. Isabela, 1st District
ALFELOR, FELIX R. JR. 4th District, Camarines Sur
ALMARIO, THELMA Z. Davao Oriental, 2nd District
ALVAREZ, ANTONIO C. Palawan 1st District
ALVAREZ, GENARO RAFAEL M. JR. Negros Occidental, 6th District
AMANTE, EDELMIRO A. Agusan Del Norte, 2nd District
AMATONG, ROMMEL C. Compostela Valley, 2nd District
ANGPING, MARIA ZENAIDA B. Manila, 3rd District
ANTONINO, RODOLFO W. Nueva Ecija, 4th District
APOSTOL, TRINIDAD G. Leyte, 2nd District
AQUINO, JOSE S. (II) 1st District Agusan del Norte
ARAGO, MARIA EVITA R. 3rd district, Laguna
ARBISON, A MUNIR M. Sulu 2nd District
ARENAS, MA. RACHEL J. Pangasinan, 3rd District
ARROYO, DIOSDADO M. Camarines Sur, 1st District
ARROYO, IGNACIO T. 5th district Negros Occidental
ARROYO, JUAN MIGUEL M. 2nd District of Pampanga
BAGATSING, AMADO S. Manila 5th district
BALINDONG, PANGALIAN M. Lanao del Sur, 2nd District
BARZAGA, ELPIDIO F. JR. Cavite, 2nd District
BAUTISTA, FRANKLIN P. Davao Del Sur, 2nd District
BELMONTE, VICENTE F. JR. Lanao del Norte, 1st District
BICHARA, AL FRANCIS C. Albay, 2nd District
BIRON, FERJENEL G. Iloilo, 4th District
BONDOC, ANNA YORK P. Pampanga 4th District
BONOAN-DAVID, MA. THERESA B. Manila, 4th District
BRAVO, NARCISO R. JR. Masbate, 1st District
BRIONES, NICANOR M. AGAP Party list
BUHAIN, EILEEN ERMITA Batangas, 1st District
BULUT, ELIAS C. JR. Apayao Lone District
CAGAS (IV), MARC DOUGLAS C. Davao Del Sur, 1st District
CAJAYON, MARY MITZI L. Caloocan, 2nd District
CAJES, ROBERTO C. Bohol, 2nd District
CARI, CARMEN L. Leyte, 5th District
CASTRO, FREDENIL H. Capiz, 2nd District
CELESTE, ARTHUR F. Pangasinan, 1st District
CERILLES, ANTONIO H. Zamboanga Del Sur, 2nd District
CHATTO, EDGARDO M. Bohol, 1st District
CHONG, GLENN A. Biliran, Lone District
CHUNG-LAO, SOLOMON R. Ifugai, Lone District
CLARETE, MARINA C. Misamis Occidental, 1st District
CODILLA, EUFROCINO M. SR. Leyte, 4th District
COJUANCO, MARK O. Pangasinan, 5th District
COQUILA, TEODULO M. Eastern Samar, Lone District
CRISOLOGO, VINCENT P. Quezon City, 1st District
CUA, JUNIE E. Quirino, Lone District
CUENCO, ANTONIO V. Cebu City, 2nd District
DANGWA, SAMUEL M. Benguet, Lone District
DATUMANONG, SIMEON A. Maguindanao, Lone District
Dayanghirang, Nelson L. Davao Oriental, 1st District
DAZA, NANETTE C. Quezon City, 4th District
DAZA, PAUL R. Northern Samar, 1st District
DE GUZMAN, DEL R. Marikina City, 2nd District
DEFENSOR, ARTHUR D. SR. Iloilo, 3rd District
DEFENSOR, MATIAS V. JR. Quezon City, 3rd District
DEL MAR, RAUL V. Cebu City, 1st District
DIASNES, CARLO OLIVER D. (MD) Batanes, Lone District
DIMAPORO, ABDULLAH D. Lanao Del Norte, 2nd District
DOMOGAN, MAURICIO G. Baguio, Lone District
DUAVIT, MICHAEL JOHN R. Rizal, 1st District
DUENAS, HENRY M. JR. Taguig, 2nd District (2nd Councilor District)
DUMARPA, FAYSAH MRP. Lanao del Sur, 1st District
DUMPIT, THOMAS L. JR. La Union, 2nd District
DURANO (IV), RAMON H. 5th District, Cebu
ECLEO, GLENDA B. Dinagat Islands, Lone District
EMANO, YEVGENY VICENTE B. Misamis Oriental, 2nd District
ENVERGA, WILFRIDO MARK M. Quezon, 1st District
ESTRELLA, CONRADO M. (III) Pangasinan, 6th District
ESTRELLA, ROBERT RAYMUND M. ABONO Party List
FERRER, JEFFREY P. Negros Occidental, 4th District
GARAY, FLORENCIO C. Surigao Del Sur, 2nd District
GARCIA, ALBERT S. Bataan, 2nd District.
GARCIA, PABLO JOHN F. Cebu, 3rd District
GARCIA, PABLO P. Cebu, 2nd District
GARCIA, VINCENT J. Davao City, 2nd District
GARIN, JANETTE L. Iloilo, 1st District
GATCHALIAN, REXLON T. Valenzuela City, 1st District
GATLABAYAN, ANGELITO C. Antipolo City, 2nd District
GO, ARNULFO F. Sultan Kudarat, 2nd District
GONZALES, AURELIO D. JR. Pampanga 3rd District
GONZALES, RAUL T. JR. Ilo ilo City
GULLAS, EDUARDO R. Cebu, 1st District
GUNIGUNDO, MAGTANGGOL T. Valenzuela City 2nd District
HOFER, DULCE ANN K. Zamboanga Sibugay, 2nd District
JAAFAR, NUR G. Tawi-Tawi, Lone District
JALA, ADAM RELSON L. Bohol, 3rd District
JALOSJOS, CESAR G. Zamboanga del Norte, 3rd District
JALOSJOS-CARREON, CECILIA G. Zamboanga del Norte, 1st District
JIKIRI, YUSOP H. Sulu, 1st District
KHO, ANTONIO T. Masbate, 2nd District
LABADLABAD, ROSENDO S. Zamboanga del Norte, 2nd District
LACSON, JOSE CARLOS V. Negros Occidental, 3rd District
LAGDAMEO, ANTONIO F. JR. Davao del Norte, 2nd District
LAPUS, JECI A. Tarlac, 3rd District
LAZATIN, CARMELO F. Pampanga, 1st District
LIM, RENO G. Albay, 3rd District
LOPEZ, JAIME C. Manila, 2nd District
MADRONA, ELEANORA JESUS F. Romblon, Lone District
MAGSAYSAY, MARIA MILAGROS H. Zambales, 1st District
MALAPITAN, OSCAR G. Caloocan, 1st District
MAMBA, MANUEL N. Cagayan, 3rd District
MANGUDADATU, DATU PAKUNG S. Sultan Kudarat,
MARANON, ALFREDO D. III Negros Occidental, 2nd District
MATUGAS, FRANCISCO T. Surigao del Norte, 1st District
MENDOZA, MARK LEANDRO L. Batangas, 4th District
MERCADO, ROGER G. Southern Leyte, Lone District
MIRAFLORES, FLORENCIO T. Aklan, Lone District
NAVA, JOAQUIN CARLOS RAHMAN A. (MD) Guimaras, Lone District
NICOLAS, REYLINA G. Bulacan, 4th District
NOGRALES, PROSPERO C. Davao City, 1st District
OLAñO, ARREL R. Davao Del Norte, 1st District
ONG, EMIL L. Northern Samar, 2nd District
ORTEGA, VICTOR FRANCISCO C. La Union, 1st District
PABLO, ERNESTO C. APEC Party List
PANCHO, PEDRO M. Bulacan, 2nd District
PANCRUDO, CANDIDO P. JR. Bukidnon, 1st District
PICHAY, PHILIP A. Surigao Del Sur, 1st District
PIñOL, BERNARDO F. JR. North Cotabato, 2nd District
PUNO, ROBERTO V. Antipolo City, 1st District
RAMIRO, HERMINIA M. Misamis Occidental, 2nd District
REMULLA, JESUS CRISPIN C. Cavite, 3rd District
REYES, CARMENCITA O. Marinduque, Lone District
REYES, VICTORIA H. Batangas, 3rd District
ROBES, ARTURO G. San Jose Del Monte City, Lone District
Rodriguez-Zaldarriaga, Adelina Rizal, 2nd District
ROMAN, HERMINIA B. Bataan, 1st District
ROMARATE, GUILLERMO A. JR. Surigao del Norte, 2nd District
ROMUALDEZ, FERDINAND MARTIN G. Leyte, 1st District
ROMUALDO, PEDRO Camiguin, Lone District
ROMULO, ROMAN T. Pasig City, Lone District
ROXAS, JOSE ANTONIO F. Pasay City
SALIMBANGON, BENHUR L. Cebu, 4th District
SALVACION JR., ANDRES D. Leyte, 3rd District
SAN LUIS, EDGAR S. Laguna, 4th District
SANDOVAL, ALVIN S. Malabon-Navotas, Lone District
SANTIAGO, JOSEPH A. Catanduanes, Lone District
SANTIAGO, NARCISO D. (III) ARC Party List
SEACHON-LANETE, RIZALINA L. 3rd district of Masbate
SEARES-LUNA, CECILIA M. Abra, Lone District
SILVERIO, LORNA C. Bulacan, 3rd District
SINGSON, ERIC D. Ilocos Sur, 2nd District
SINGSON, RONALD V. Ilocos Sur, 1st District
SOLIS, JOSE G. Sorsogon, 2nd District
SOON-RUIZ, NERISSA CORAZON Cebu, 6th District
SUAREZ, DANILO E. Quezon, 3rd District
SUSANO, MARY ANN L. Quezon City, 2nd District
SY-ALVARADO, MA. VICTORIA R. Bulacan, 1st District
SYJUCO, JUDY J. 2nd Dsitrict, Iloilo
TALINO-MENDOZA, EMMYLOU J. North Cotabato, 1st District
TAN, SHAREE ANN T. Samar, 2nd District
TEODORO, MARCELINO R. Marikina City, 1st District
TEODORO, MONICA LOUISSE PRIETO Tarlac, 1st District
TEVES, PRYDE HENRY A. Negros Oriental, 3rd District
TUPAS, NEIL C. JR. Iloilo, 5th District
UNGAB, ISIDRO T. Davao City, 3rd District
UY, EDWIN C. Isabela, 2nd District
UY, REYNALDO S. Samar, 1st District
UY, ROLANDO A. Cagayan De Oro City, Lone District
VALDEZ, EDGAR L. APEC Party List
VALENCIA, RODOLFO G. Oriental Mindoro, 1st District
VARGAS, FLORENCIO L. Cagayan, 2nd District
VILLAFUERTE, LUIS R. Camarines Sur, 2nd District
VILLAROSA, MA. AMELITA C. Occidental Mindoro, Lone District
VIOLAGO, JOSEPH GILBERT F. Nueva Ecija, 2nd District
YAP, JOSE V. Tarlac, 2nd District
YU, VICTOR J. Zamboanga Del Sur, 1st District
ZAMORA, MANUEL E. 1st District, Compostela Valley
ZIALCITA, EDUARDO C. Parañaque, 1st District

(Thank you to Ms Noemi, A Filipina Mom Blogger for posting all the links and list above.)

We just cannot be "all busy." It cannot be "business as usual." Before we know it, if we allow the charter change proponents to get away with the Constitution's proverbial murder, all that we are working hard for will amount to nothing, as our rights and privileges as citizens assured and protected in our basic law gets trampled upon.

On this day of the celebration of Philippine Independence, at a most crucial juncture in our history, I am reminded of the call of Simbahang Lingkod Bayan (SLB) to all Filipinos that is worth heeding at any time and always- to pray for ourselves and the nation, to arm ourselves with the correct information, to make a stand, - Manalangin, Makialam, Manindigan.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Finally, Federer nets French Open

*cartwheels!*

World No. 2 Roger Federer beat world no. 25 Swede Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 to win the 2009 Roland Garros men’s singles title. In one fell swoop, the Federer managed to complete a career Grand Slam, match Pete Sampras’ record of 14 GS crowns, and move a step closer to being heralded as the world’s best ever.

The first set saw the giant-killing Swede almost demolished himself by the Federer Express in just 23 minutes with the latter’s almost impossible combination of shots. Soderling seemed to be just a shadow of the player he was en route to the finals- which was tested by the likes of Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, Nikolai Davydenko in the quarters, and tenacious Chilean Fernando Gonzales in the semis. Maybe it didn’t help also that RFed beat him in each of their nine previous meetings.

In the second set, chinks in the Federer armor began to show but not once was his serve broken. Soderling stepped up his game as well, with shots that squeaked past Federer despite his best effort. What unnerved RFed a bit was when a fan tore through the stands and seemed to hurtle to him in the fourth (?) game of the second set. Security eventually tackled the uber-excited guy and carried him off the court. The visibly frazzled Swiss lost the game but his torrent of aces in the tie-break won him the set.

Trailing 2 sets to love, the Swede tried to keep up with Roger in the third set but an early break of serve cost him. It was cool, composed, battle-tested Federer who won the day- able to emerge victorious amid the din of the fans’ cheer and history knocking at the threshold.

I must admit, at the height of his career, I wasn’t a Federer fan. He seemed too invincible to the point of being boring. Everything seemed too *easy* for him: consecutive Grand Slam semis appearance, Laureus sportsman awards, ATP favorite player, etc etc However, when he was overtaken in the world rankings and slipped into a period of drought capped by that surreal moment in the 2009 Australian Open final, I became a fan. I guess we all like underdogs. But that shouldn’t really take away anything from RFed and his mastery of the game.

Is he the best ever? Maybe when he takes home his 15th Grand Slam singles title. Maybe when he wins ALL Grand Slam titles in one calendar year. Maybe when he beats Rafa in a French Open final. And so, for all he has accomplished, I wouldn’t be surprised if the best is yet to come from Roger Federer.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Spin versus sincerity redux: The ANC Leadership Forum Round Two

The rains Friday unleashed a torrent of unfortunate events.

Because of the foul weather in Manila, our flight from Cagayan De Oro City was requested to circle around first rather than land at the time scheduled. That flight itself was generally alright, save for the handful of incidence of turbulence that resembled a b-a-a-a-d rollercoaster ride. After getting our bags, the continuous downpour led to the dearth of cabs in the NAIA Centennial Terminal 2. I finally managed to get a cab after an hour on the queue, then spent about another hour on the road home.

By the time I plopped in front of the television, it was already 9pm. I still managed to catch the last half-hour of the second round of the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) Leadership Forum last June 5th.

From the little I witnessed where I sat, former President Joseph Estrada has taken himself out of the running. He was just recycling replies from his failed administration and cruelly interspersing misplaced humor among these replies. Um, Mr. President, the audience was laughing AT you, not WITH you, no thanks to your frayed attempt at speaking English and equally unsuccessful effort to speak within the time allotted per forum participant. You’ve had your time in office, we’ve had enough of you.

A revelation was Metro Manila Development Authority Chairperson Bayani Fernando. I didn’t know he was *that* ineloquent. He rambled on and on about laws and how the implementation of these laws will win him the youth vote. It pains me to say this but he came across as somehow who hasn’t read yet the contents of the Reproductive Health Bill, hiding right away behind the cloak of religion without offering a personal analysis of the impetus for the filing of such a bill. His handling of the heckling from the audience could have been better; the University of the Philippines crowd wasn’t one he can bully or bulldoze into submission.

Loren Legarda came ready, notes and stats accessed at a moment’s notice. I’ve heard her give the keynote address in a forum on poverty hosted by the UP National Institutes of Health and I was glad to hear a consistent message from her: re-focusing government resources on agriculture, education, and health. She was her usual articulate, confident self, perhaps enjoying the feeling of being at home in her alma mater. For whatever it is worth, she and Sen. Chiz Escudero sounded so alike, especially when they would switch from English to Filipino. They project the same command and respect for the Filipino language that makes me listen to them and actually *hear* their message.

From where I sat, in that half hour of the ANC Leadership Forum that I caught, if I were to declare a winner, it would be Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay. He spoke clearly and concisely, getting his points across without sounding condescending or elitist. He managed to showcase his credentials via his replies, deftly weaving into the latter his experience in the UP student council, law practice, and local governance. His persistent use of Makati as a symbol of his present and future knowledge, skill and attitude as a leader is downright clever. Now, if only I can erase from my brain Binay’s trapo image and the “Binay, Be Our Next President” banners all over Makati I see in my mind’s eye…

The last half-hour’s questions were quite interesting: wooing the youth vote, the Reproductive Health Bill, prosecution of the Arroyos, litany of real estate properties. Ricky Carandang was his normal, engaging self; Cheche Lazaro felt like fish out of water. Bring Tina Palma back in the next round please.

It would be likewise interesting if the ANC can do a fact check in all the numbers, stats, accomplishments the forum participants bragged about. It would also be interesting to lay out the participants' stand on issues current and past, by way of videos and soundbites, and expose inconsistencies.

Then we’d really see who is sincere, who is just a load of spin, who should be flushed down the drain along with all the water that poured from the sky last June 5th.