Friday, December 31, 2010

Good night and thank you, 2010!

To those who have passed this way and will wander into this space, a sincere Irish blessing to you as we all welcome the new year 2011-



May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Task Force Noah: Tulung Cagayan - Help for the Survivors of Floods in Northern Luzon

Re-posting the appeal of Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan for support for the survivors of the floods in Cagayan and Isabela during the early part of this November.

Last November 1 - 4, 2010 the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan once again experienced continuous rains that caused massive floods and landslides in several areas. We received various calls for help from our networks , and upon investigation and inquiry, we found out that the needs are both massive and urgent.

SLB team will respond once again to bring relief goods to Sto Tomas, Isabela and Enrile in Cagayan. These towns are yet to receive help from any organization. We plan to deploy on November 15, 2010 at 7 PM. All the goods will be brought to St Paul University in Tuguegarao where our partners, the SPC sisters, will re-pack the goods for immediate distribution to many of the 4,783 households affected in Sto. Tomas and the 3,433 households affected in Enrile.

The Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB) would like to beg from generous benefactors specifically for its on-going relief operations to the said areas. As you know, shortly after supertyphoon Juan struck Isabela, Cagayan and other parts of northern Luzon, SLB has been deploying relief operations to devastated areas. As of the moment our general disaster fund is very much depleted. Because of this we plead for help in behalf of the victims.

In a recent article by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a multinational risk consultancy firm has reported about a "gaping disconnect" between government claims and reality on the affected areas which is now putting disaster preparedness in the Philippines on the brink of disaster. Let us not be misled by premature proclamations which have no sufficient basis. From the data we continue to gather on the ground and from an interview with the parish priest of Palanan Isabela, Fr. Sam Salazar, OFM, they say that not enough is being done to prepare for disasters in these areas.

Again, in behalf of the people still reeling from the effects of the recent disasters, we are begging for your generous assistance. We are humbly asking that donations be made in cash for the sake of efficiency. Kindly send by fax your validated deposit slip at +632 4265968. And for proper acknowledgment please indicate your contact information (name of individual or organization, address, email, landline/mobile).

SIMBAHANG LINGKOD NG BAYAN (Account name/payee)
Bank of the Philippine Islands, Loyola Katipunan Branch
BPI PESO Checking Account Number 3081-1111-61
BPI Dollar Savings Account Number 3084-0420-12

Friday, October 15, 2010

What is your water footprint? (Blog Action Day 2010)



Your individual water footprint is equal to the water required to produce the goods and services consumed by you (waterfootprint.org). It's akin to one's carbon footprint, as it measures also the impact of our existence on the planet. You can visit waterfootprint.org to find out yours.

As for me, the Water Footprint Calculator, after plugging into it bits and pieces of my avergae regular water consumption, churned out the number 2,597 cubic meters. It means that I use that amount of water annually if I continue living my life the way I do now. 2,597 cu.m of water is a little more than the amount of water inside an Olympic-sized swimming pool! And mind you, I'm a biiit water-conscious as it is already. Imagine if all the people in the world spent AT LEAST an Olympic-sized-pool's-worth of water annually, we'd probably dry up before we can say Sahara Desert.

A huge part of my water consumption comes from my rather liberal intake of meat and meat products. Apparently, it takes a huge amount of water to care for cows, their pastures, etc. Maybe if I eat a lesser amount of meat, I'd be able to lessen my water footprint and thus help others have more water In The Bigger Scheme of Things...

So how do we improve our water footprint without having to stop bathing or stop brushing our teeth?

H20Conserve.org offers a simple, almost painless To-Do list to help us manage our water resources expecially in our homes. Here are some samples of their tips to become water-wise:

IN THE BATHROOM
- If you don’t have a low-flow toilet, put a plastic bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush.
- Turn off the water while shaving, and instead fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of water to rinse your razor.
- Spend less time in the shower. If you lose track of time in the shower, bring a radio into the bathroom and time yourself by how many songs play while you’re in there. Try to get your shower time down to one song (or less).
- If it’s yellow, let it mellow. The saying may be cliche, but it’s good advice. If you’re grossed out by the “yellow”, just put down the toilet lid.

IN THE KITCHEN
- Scrape dishes into the compost (or trash if you don`t compost) rather than rinsing. New dishwashers don’t even require pre-rinsed dishes.
- Think ahead! Don’t use water to defrost frozen foods instead, leave them in the fridge overnight to defrost.
- Boil food in as little water as possible. You just need enough to submerge your pasta and potatoes, and with less water you keep more flavor and nutrients in your veggies.
- When grocery shopping, try to buy more whole foods like vegetables, rice and potatoes. Processed foods and beverages like chips, candies, pre-made meals and sodas take a lot more water to produce than foods that come straight from the farm.

For more tips to save money, save water, and eventually save the planet, please visit H20Conserve.org.

Please don't forget also to sign the petition in support of initiatives for common efforts to provide access to safe water for those most in need.

Change.org|Start Petition

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: WATER

Petitions by Change.org|Start a Petition »


OCTOBER 15 IS BLOG ACTION DAY! Blog Action Day is that day of the year when blogs the world over write about a common topic to highlight a pressing concern that warrants the world's attention and immediate action

THIS BLOG ACTION DAY ON OCTOBER 15, 2010- LET ALL OUT BLOGS RESOUND WITH THE CLAMOR FOR BETTER ACCESS TO SAFE AND CONTINUOUS SUPPLY OF- W A T E R !

Maria of the Blog Action Day 2010 Team put together this list of WATER facts and figures to underscore the world's need for wiser use of our water resources:

Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.

More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.

Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.

It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.

The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.

MAKE YOUR BLOG THE FOUNTAIN THROUGH WHICH WILL FLOW INTELLIGENT DISCUSSIONS AND USEFUL INFORMATION ON IMPROVING ACCESS TO CLEAN, SAFE WATER BY THE POOREST AND MOST VULNERABLE!

Join Blog Action Day 2010 on October 15th!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A life well-lived


A life well-lived
On and off buses you've inspected in Nueva Ecija
In the house we lived in in Pacita
In the apartment in Jordan Ave
To and from C-Town Supermarket near Journal Square
Aboard forklifts
Through harsh New Jersey winters and under the warm South Carolina sun

A life well-lived
Strengthened by a daily routine of Bible-reading and followed by unique exercise regimens
On golf courses and tennis courts, in front of the television
Powered by hearty meals, always with inspiring stories on the side
While grooming our dogs
Despite and/or because of your hearing aid
Dressed impeccably, always dapper, never sloppy

A life well-lived
Forgetting sometimes our names and voices and faces
Forgetting readily the heartaches and pains we have caused him
Forgetting never to ask me when will I get married

A life well-lived
Spent beside Rufina for more than 65 years
Who, with her, is the source of the life of my mom
Not just measured in years, but as the song goes, measured in love

A life well-lived
That is Lolo's
Begins its eternal episode in heaven where we will hopefully meet again when our own hopefully well-lived lives end.

Thank you and good night, Lolo =]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mission- I *HEART* the Philippines 2010: Contest Winners!

Amidst the cacophony of political squabbles, economic woes, and showbiz nonsense, it can be very difficult to see the good in the Philippines and among Filipinos. But if we just stay still for a bit, look around, listen, and feel – we need not exert too much effort to experience the best of the Philippines and the Filipino.

In celebration of my blog's Year IV online, I put together a mini-contest to encourage fellow bloggers to express what they *heart* about the Philippines. Here's what they shared:

SuperMommyJem absolutely loves our Christmas season in the Philippines- replete with four F's – food, family, fun, and faith. There's even a very personal reason why December in the Philippines is extra special to her. Check out her SuperMommyJem's blog to find out.

Cornelio03, on the other hand, chose to highlight the various forms of heroism in our country. He brought to the fore personalities and events that showcase the unique love Pinoys have for their people amid seemingly insurmountable problems. I did not know Emilio Aguinaldo's wife played a crucial role in our struggle for independence from Spain. Learn what role she played by hopping over to Cornelio03's blog.

Chin chin put together the tastiest entry, featuring four Filipino gustatory delights. I think these four food items represent us Pinoys well. Have a bite of Chin chin's offering in her blog.

Luckyfinds describes the mysterious connection among us Filipinos as the best aspect of being one. She writes a timely recall of a great display of Filipino empathy that happened a year ago. It's an experience all of us can relate to. Her thoughts on Pinoy kindness can be found here.

I would like to thank these four courageous bloggers for writing about what's great about the Philippines and Filipinos when it is, at times, easier to rant and whine. Mabuhay kayo!

And now, the winners:

Free 7-day advertisement in the Adgitize network worth $7: SuperMommyJem

Free 7-day advertisement in the Adgitize network worth $7: Cornelio03

Free 7-day advertisement in the Adgitize network worth $7: Luckyfinds

Free 31-day advertisement in the Adgitize network worth $14: Chin chin

Thank you and Congratulations!

PS- As was stated in the contest rules, winners can opt to have the Adgitize ad prize or the equivalent amount deposited to their PayPal account =] Although I highly recommend taking the Adgitize option =] Please leave a comment under this post to let me know the email address through which I can contact you fastest =]

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mission- I *HEART* the Philippines 2010: Contest Continues til Sept. 25th



Baguio Boracay Batanes Batangas Bohol Bantayan - Which Philippine vacation place is the world's best?

Balagtas Rizal F.S.Jose Zafra De Quiros - Which Filipino author wields the mightiest pen?

Greenhills Market! Market! Colon Baclaran Divisoria - What is the true shoppers' haven of the Philippines?

Lechon balut adobo sinigang kwek-kwek - Which Pinoy food best exemplifies our people?


Enlist in MISSION- I *HEART* THE PHILIPPINES!


Share what you love most about being a Filipino or about being in the Philippines and do your part in promoting Pinoy pride.

State the obvious or bring to the fore what the current challenges the country faces obscure from the world's appreciation.

And since this is also a blogoversary contest to celebrate my blogs year 4 online, some $35-worth of prizes are also up for grabs to lucky bloggers, including Adgitize ads and Entrecard credits.

For contest details click please here.

Contest ends on September 25th.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fourth Blog Anniversary Contest: Mission- I *HEART* the Philippines 2010

This September, I am celebrating my blog's fourth year in the blogosphere. Throughout the 349-odd posts I've churned out, I tried my best to give my two-cents on topics ranging from sports to politics to movies and faith. I tried my best to share with the stragglers who wander into my blog the things I am most passionate about. And if I were to base my passion-meter on the labels I most frequently used to tag my posts, then I would have to say I love the Philippines and thinking aloud the most.
Mission: I *Heart* the Philippines

To celebrate my Year IV on this blogging platform, I am launching a simple (and my first-ever) blogging contest-

Mission: I *Heart* the Philippines.


I did two editions of this writing prompt in 2006 and 2008. It's turning out to be a biennial event; but methinks it ought to be done for frequently.

I envision this contest to be a means by which bloggers with strong positive feelings about the Philippines will be able to share their thoughts, favorite memories, and experiences. In the face of all the challenges in and around our country, I feel it is also important to celebrate what is good in the Philippines and among Filipinos to serve as additional inspiration to strive harder to be the best versions of ourselves as a nation.

Here are the contest details.


It is open to any blogger regardless of nationality, location, political color, etc. Newbie and veteran bloggers with single or multiple blogs are welcome.

To join the contest, the blogger must write a blog entry with the following...

Topic: Please write about four Philippine-related items you feel strongly positive about. It maybe four beaches, four churches, four street delicacies, four movies, four hotels, four artists, four Filipino attitudes, four historical figures, four stamps, four books, four blogs- a set of four-anything Filipino that you find fantastic and can't help but share to the world. You can choose Philippine objects, personalities, places, events, etc.

Blog title:
I *heart* the (beaches/churches/streetfood/movies/hotels/heroes/blogs/etc) of/in the Philippines = topic you wrote about or a noun/pair of nouns that summarize/s the list you wrote about most succinctly (heroism/talents/etc)

For example- I *heart* the beaches of the Philippines

Content: I hope the blog post will not be a mere listing of what you love but will include some annotation. Pictures- personal or borrowed from the web- would be most welcome. Best also if the blog would be at least 100 words long.

Tone: Light and positive.

Language: English. The blog post can partly be in our local Philippine language but there should an English translation ng mga salita na nasa Tagalog (of the words in Tagalog).

Badge: Please add at the end of your post-

[This is an entry to MISSION: I *HEART* THE PHILIPPINES]

And kindly add this badge at the bottom of your post.


Copy and Paste Code

The contest will run for two weeks, from September 12 to 25, 2010.

A blogger can enter a maximum of three (3) entries for the contest. Bloggers with multiple blogs can enter a maximum of three (3) entries per blog. Each blog post entry must have gone online no earlier than September 12.

To enter the contest, just leave a comment on this post with this format:
Q: What's the best thing about the Philippines?
A: (Your one sentence reply)
Blog title:
Link to entry:

Deadline for entering the contest is on Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 8am Philippine Standard Time (+8GMT)

I will visit your link and see if your entry meets the minimum requirements of the contest. I will post a blog entry on Sunday, September 26, 2010 8pm Philippine Standard Time (+8GMT) to highlight the blogs who joined the contest and announce the winners of my mini contest.

Prizes for winning entries:


2 winners Adgitize gift card for a 7-day run of your blog's ad on the Adgitize network ($7 value) each
= courtesy of a very generous contest supporter
1 winner Adgitize gift card for a 31-day run of your blog's ad on the Adgitize network ($14 value)
= all three will be randomly chosen from entries

1 more winner Adgitize gift card for a 7-day run of your blog's ad on the Adgitize network ($7 value)
= my personal choice among the entries as having the best style (including correct grammar, appropriate use of pics, etc), unique point of view, positive content.

I chose Adgitize gift cards as prizes because I want more people to enjoy the winners' writings by way of driving traffic to your respective sites through Adgitize. But in case you don't want the Adgitize prize, I am willing to send to your PayPal account the dollar equivalent of the prize you won.

To sweeten the pot, the first 10 (10) bloggers with EC widgets to share this contest- not necessarily join it- will each receive 700 Entrecard credits from me. Write about my event and please don't forget to include in your post the badge below. Just please leave a comment again on this announcement with the link to your blogpost announcing my contest.


Copy and Paste Code

It's time to express our pride in our nation and highlight what's positive in our country. It's time to share our positive encounters with Filipinos and unforgettable Philippine experiences.

Start writing and be part of the mission- MISSION: I *HEART* THE PHILIPPINES!


Mission: I *Heart* the Philippines

Monday, August 30, 2010

UNICEF USA update: Hope for Pakistan's kids

I'm glad to receive an email update from UNICEF USA's Caryl Stern as regards the progress they're making in Pakistan. The update (from where the pictures below come from) says:

...The result? More clean water. More immunizations. Thousands of children spared...

Summer heat and flooding are combining to create ideal conditions for malaria and water-borne diseases. UNICEF’s number one focus continues to be providing clean water, hygiene and immunizations. As of (August 26), UNICEF is providing clean water to 2 million people...

...To date, UNICEF has:

- Immunized 800,000 children against deadly diseases;
- Restored 490 water supply systems;
- Delivered 385,000 water cleaning tablets and sachets;
- Distributed hygiene supplies – 10,000 jerry cans, 39,000 buckets, 2,300 nerox filters;
- Mobilized the Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources to undertake water testing and chlorination in severely impacted districts;
- Launched immunization campaigns in 38 districts, immunizing 245,000 people from measles and water-borne diseases;
- Provided mobile medical services to reach stranded children and pregnant women at risk of malnutrition and disease; and
- Brought 5 public health facilities online to provide antenatal and postnatal care and treat ailments.

A lot has been done, more can be done, more needs to be done. We can be the means by which the kids in Pakistan's flooded villages can be given a fighting chance. You can donate HERE.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cyberspacefinds: Virtual Bubble Wrap (R)

Sometimes, oftentimes, the packaging is more interesting than the contents it protects.

For those among us who can't afford to buy gizmos and gadgets just too have the chance to *pop!* those amazing Bubble Wrap buttons, cyberspace now offers an environment-friendly alternative. Well, I think I'm about 14 years too late since this explosive addiction has been online since 1996 according to the Virtual Bubble Wrap front page. Then again, better late than never!

Happy popping!

I pop bubble wrap at 1.81 bubbles per second!

I popped 196 bubbles in 1 minute and 48.4 seconds
at www.Virtual-Bubblewrap.com!
Can you beat my score?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Be a hero for the environment! Make every peso count!



If ever you see the volunteers of the World Wildlife Fund at MRT stations, the malls, or underpasses of Makati, please give them a few minutes of your time. Or at least take the brochure they're handing out. They're not out to sell you something superfluous; if at all, they're helping you help the planet become better.

Listen to them. If you like what you hear, sign up to be a monthly donor. Make do with less coffee per week, that pack of cigarettes, or the almost obligatory weekly movie. Contributions to the World Wildlife Fund are gifts that keep on giving.



You don't have to lose your life to be hailed a hero. Visit the World Wildlife Fund online to see how else you can be part of the planet's last hope.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The dead maybe luckier: 6M kid-"survivors" desperately need help in Pakistan

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. ~ The Talmud


Reposting this email I received from the United States Fund for UNICEF.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-1562/Zaidi
"8-year-old Amreen washes dishes in rainwater in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, where an estimated 2.5 million of the province's 3.5 million residents have been affected by the disaster. She's just one of the 6 million children in desperate need of clean water to stave off certain outbreaks of disease."
- from UNICEF USA's blog Field Notes

UNICEF's Pakistan Disaster Relief Operations in Jeopardy Due to Funding Shortage
6 Million Children in Desperate Need - Deadly water-borne diseases threaten child survival


NEW YORK/ISLAMABAD (Tuesday, August 17, 2010) -- UNICEF warned today that serious funding shortfalls are jeopardizing its humanitarian operation in Pakistan. UNICEF is extremely concerned at the lack of funds for its water and sanitation operation, with millions of children at risk from water-borne diseases.

"Providing clean water and adequate sanitation is key to the survival of millions of flood affected people in Pakistan. In terms of numbers of people needing life-saving assistance, this emergency is bigger than the Tsunami, Haiti, and the last Pakistan earthquake put together," said UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, Martin Mogwanja.

"UNICEF is currently providing enough clean water for 1.3 million people every day, but millions more need the same services. We urgently need to scale up the distribution of water. If we are not able to do so because of lack of funding, water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and dysentery will spread and begin killing affected populations, especially children, already weak and vulnerable to disease and malnutrition," added Mogwanja.

The Government of Pakistan estimates 20 million people overall have been hit by the flood crises, and according to the United Nations at least 15 million people have been seriously affected, half of whom are children.

"It is unbearable to think that six million kids in immediate danger may not get clean water, nutrition and shelter because of a funding shortage," said President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Caryl Stern. "UNICEF is completely dependent on voluntary donations, if we don't raise funds, we can't respond to this emergency. Please help us get word out, and please donate whatever you can to help us meet the need. Even a dollar will be put to good use and help save lives."

UNICEF is concerned that the floods have hit "the poorest of the poor," those least able to survive the present harsh conditions. The top concerns are water-borne diseases, acute respiratory infections, skin diseases and malnutrition rates, already dangerously high in many flood-affected regions of Pakistan.

Polio is endemic and measles still a threat, says UNICEF, which, together with WHO and Government, is carrying out polio and measles vaccinations at relief centers. UNICEF is also supplying oral rehydration solution, a home based treatment for diarrhea, but notes that this treatment is also in short supply due to funding constraints.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution please contact the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:

Website: www.unicefusa.org/pakistan
Toll free: 1-800-FOR-KIDS (1-800-367-5437)
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10016

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cyberspacefinds: The Big Picture


There are photoblogs and then there is Boston Globe's news photoblog Big Picture.

This site is literally and figuratively a treasure-trove of screen-filling images captured from all over the planet- and sometimes beyond. The Big Picture, maintained by boston.com web developer Alan Taylor, sources its images from traditional news-gathering agencies like AP and Reuters and from the occasional non-professional contributors. It showcases snapshots of current events like the recent landslides in China and the struggles of the survivors of Pakistani floods in vivid details that transports the viewer into where the action is. At times, the Big Picture captures common threads that bind humanity like Stormy Skies or the joy of photography itself through features like In Silhouette.

I sometimes spend hours on end just wading through 30-40-picture sets. There are quick one-line captions contextualizing each photo. Whether posed or serendipitous, there's a clear perspective in each selected photo that make up each set. Truly, each image evokes the feeling that it is our story, each of us- photographer, subject, viewer/browser- is part of the planet's Big Picture.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to be alone

(I am just flexing the writing muscles in my brain. What follows is an exercise to resuscitate the eroding bridges in my head related to life and writing. Please do not mistake it as a distress beacon or a pathetic pheromone release. Special thanks to Chico Garcia for the inspiration.)

The problem with memories is that they make us remember.

I don't know how often this has happened but exactly 11 years ago today, on an August 16th that fell, too, on a Monday, I lost my Last Great Love. She is the one I loved the most and best. She has been the yardstick against which all those who came after her were measured. And, consequently, no one was good enough.

And so I remain, for the most part of the last decade, alone, but not lonely. Sure, there would be fits and bouts and pauses of sadness- but thank God for a grueling stint in medical school and the more toxic real world. There would be occasional relationship hits, a lot of misses, many promising but eventually false starts. The last two phases of my life left me with not a lot of time to feel selfish and give in to the quicksand of self-pity.

And so, I have learned to embrace, even love, to be alone. Some people would be crippled senseless at the mere thought of eating alone, going to the movies, or window-shopping by one's lonesome. I am more that okay with it. I have to, whether I like it or else.

But then again, I am almost never alone alone. When I'm at the office, I'm surrounded by a whole bunch of co-workers. I have a cacophony of students, patients, community health workers, and the like. My car's radio incessantly chirps away news and views. My social networking subscriptions are at times too much to handle really. My friends from high school, college, and medical school keep me happily sloshed. Plus my family's almost always a phone call, SMS, and a hug away.

I'm not rattling off this litany to make myself feel better, on this Day That I Lost Her. Maybe in losing her, I've found others. In losing her, I've actually found me.

On this Day That I Lost Her, the memories are actually a blessing because they make me remember and celebrate, and help me to be grateful for the four years, eight months, sixteen days, and eight hours we were together and the ensuing decade of love and self-discovery.

For those still struggling with alone-ness, here's an audio-visual aid- How to be alone by Tanya Davis.



Friday, August 13, 2010

Worse than the 2004 tsunami: UNICEF's call for help for Pakistan

PAKISTAN NEEDS OUR HELP!


Here is the information-appeal from the UNICEF USA Fund, soliciting support for Pakistan's children affected by the devastating floods of the past weeks:

GENEVA/ISLAMABAD (August 11, 2010) — As the figures continue to rise, UNICEF says that 6 million children have been affected by the floods in Pakistan with some 2.7 million children in need of urgent, lifesaving assistance.

According to UN estimates, a total of 14 million people have been affected by the flood crisis. Hundreds of thousands have received humanitarian aid, but millions more urgently need shelter, food, water, and health care. Flooding could worsen considerably in the coming days, especially in parts of Sindh.

"This is the biggest natural disaster to hit Pakistan and this region in living memory, bigger than the Tsunami or the earthquake, with millions of children and women struggling to survive in dire conditions. It is a race against time as we rush to deliver supplies to affected populations. The waters are still rising and we are bracing for flood waves as rivers overflow and the rains continue," said Martin Mogwanja, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan.

"Shelter is the most urgent need, while food, water, and health care are also critical. Right now we need to save lives and create temporary living conditions for the 1.8 million homeless. It is a massive task and we are not there yet. Once we are, we can begin to think about the longer-term recovery of regions in Pakistan which have suffered widespread devastation," added Mogwanja.

UNICEF is sending in humanitarian supplies for health, nutrition, water and sanitation, child protection, and education.

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR DONATION H E R E .

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Healers of the body, heroes of the nation



WHAT: Gawad Kalinga Builders Night - BUILDING A HEALTHY NATION
WHEN: August 4, 2010, Wednesday 6pm
WHERE: Rockwell Tent, Makati City


The monthly gathering of GK partners, friends, and volunteers- the Gawad Kalinga Builders Night- continues this August, with a focus on GK's Community Health Program called Gawad Kalinga Kalusugan.

Get to know GK Kalusugan, its main thrusts, and more importantly, how everyone, especially health professionals, can be part of nation-building. Guest speakers will include GK community health workers, Fr. Rolando Dela Rosa, OP of the University of Santo Tomas, and Sen. Pia Cayetano. Joey Ayala will be the evening's guest artist. Learn how you can participate in improving the lives of GK residents, be inspired to join in this mission to nurture a healthier and happier Philippines.

Regardless of profession, background, or expertise- every Filipino is a healer, every healer is a hero!

Monday, July 19, 2010

True Blood returns to the Philippines July19th for Season 3!



The league of extraordinary beings- humans, vampires, shape-shifters, and everyone in between- returns to Philippine cable TV! True Blood Season 3 premieres tonight July 19th at 9pm on HBO! Our season here is about a month late since this latest series premiered June 13th- but better late than never!

*excitement*

Photo courtesy of the True Blood Wiki.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hey, hey, I'm okay!

Just shocking some life back into this blog =]

Other tales of my exploits

- what you can do if you only have 12 hours in Helsinki
- news of my US graduate studies
- details of a possible career shift
- progress notes on my laptop who suffered a mighty crash

soon.

I hope.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Buck to school 2010


Teachers in medical school generally don't have a summer vacation. Especially in our university, the work you are not able to do during the academic year somehow gets done in the months of April and May. That is, of course, on top the usual summer activities we mount. In our case, our annual undergraduate Global Health Course is the main happy cause celebre. Still, though, there is a noticeable dip in the workload. And so we endeavor to call the Philippine summer months as "vacation" time.

(At the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower in the UNC Chapel Hill campus when we visited last December 2009.)


Tomorrow is the official start of being back to the daily grind of medical education. I declare that with excitement admixed with a hue of wistfulness: it maybe my last few weeks in the University, for now at least. I've accepted the offer of the University of North Carolina in Chapel to join the Master of Public Health Program in its Gillings Schools of Global Public Health starting August 24th. I'm joining as a student, mind you. So 10 years after my first day in medical school, I'd be having my first day in graduate school- in 70-odd-days' time, God willing. I'm still sorting out some financial/logistical concerns- I may defer enrollment for another year- but I'm really beyond-the-moon-excited to begin this next phase in my personal and professional life.

The miraculous road which I walked on to get admitted to UNC Chapel Hill is a blog post waiting to be written. Soon.

Please wish me luck and God speed- with my teaching work starting tomorrow and my UNC studies and with writing promised blog posts!

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day




FAST FACT ABOUT TOBACCO AND SMOKING: (from the World Health Organization)

Tobacco kills up to half of its users.

It kills more than five million people a year – an average of one person every six seconds – and accounts for one in 10 adult deaths.

The annual death toll of more than five million could rise to more than eight million by 2030 unless urgent action is taken to control the tobacco epidemic.

More than 80% of the world's one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

Total consumption of tobacco products is increasing globally, though it is decreasing in some high-income and upper middle-income countries.

Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.

Only 5.4% of people are protected by comprehensive national smoke-free laws.

In 2008, the number of people protected from second-hand smoke increased by 74% to 362 million from 208 million in 2007.

Of the 100 most populous cities, 22 are smoke free.

Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke.

Over 40% of children have at least one smoking parent.

Second-hand smoke causes 600 000 premature deaths per year.

In 2004, children accounted for 28% of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.

There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.

In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

In infants, it causes sudden death.

In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.



WE CAN STILL DO SOMETHING ABOUT SMOKING. WE HAVE TO.

Some suggestions from WHO Tobacco Free Initiative, especially on this World No Tobacco Day commemoration which focuses on Women:

CALL TO THE PUBLIC:
- Demand that your government ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
- Demand that your government implement legislation to provide 100% protection from tobacco smoke in all public places and workplaces.
- Campaign for women's freedom from tobacco as a human right.

CALL TO CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS AND NGOs:
- Advocate for full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
- Urge governments to take into account the specific needs of both women and men in the development of tobacco control strategies.
- Share information about the importance of controlling the global tobacco epidemic among women.
- Help to educate women about the tobacco industry's attempts to ensnare them and the dangers of tobacco use.
- Sensitize men to the harm that their second-hand smoke inflicts on the women and children with whom they live and work.

CALL TO GOVERNMENTS and POLICYMAKERS:
- Implement a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, as called for in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
- Implement a comprehensive ban on tobacco smoke in all public places and workplaces, likewise called for in the WHO Framework Convention.
- Heed the call in the preamble of the WHO Framework Convention for "gender-specific tobacco control strategies" and the "full participation of women at all levels of [tobacco control] policy-making and implementation [of tobacco control measures]".
- Request assistance from WHO to implement the demand-reduction provisions of the WHO Framework Convention through the MPOWER package of tobacco control measures.
- Ensure that government agencies and other stakeholders work together to take into account the different needs of men and women.
- Ensure that tobacco control strategies take into account the special problems of women who chew tobacco.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On hope: Hope on



In this season of transition and change:

...[H]ope is not blind optimism.

It's not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path.

It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight.

Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it...


Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Iowa Caucus Night, Des Moines, Iowa, January 03, 2008
from http://www.BarackObama.com

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why I am staying in the Philippines (9): A platform of hope and transformation

I will try to relate to you later why Lea Salonga's JOURNEY is an apt soundtrack to my participation in this year's electoral exercise.

But for now, seeing that Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III is very, very close to winning the Philippine presidency, I think it is but proper that we Filipinos become ever more vigilant that he and his governance team keep their campaign promises.

Here's a copy of the Social Contract he has forged with the Filipino people, his platform of hope and transformation. Let's measure his administration using this standards he himself has put forward. We work with him on this one because his words capture what 90-million-odd Filipinos ARE aspiring for. We pat him on the back if he does his job well. We reel him in when he seems to wander away from the supposed straight path he is leading us into.

With trusting faith, watchful eyes, and vigilant hearts, we let our leaders know that we are are their bosses- lest they forget, lest we forget.

Noynoy Aquino Platform of Government

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

@PCOSmachine - revealed!

On today's (May 12, 2010) Mornings@ANC, TJ Manotoc finally revealed who the man behind the (in)famous Twitter account @PCOSmachine is. Pats on the back and possibly rounds of free beer for this guy who gave a "voice" to the love-it-or-hate-it contraption that has symbolized the first fully-automated elections in the Philippines- the Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machine. In the crucial hours of the polls and in the many thereafter, @PCOSmachine allowed many a netizen of the Twitterverse to laugh despite the toxic, nervous election air permeating the country. Backread this Twitter account and see the quintessential Pinoy humor coming to the rescue of a nation deep in the muck of sample ballots and sanity-zapping jingles.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Why I will vote for Dr. Martin Bautista for Senator



1. He’s a doctor. He’s kindred. He knows the ins and outs of the healthcare system, both the possible and the problematic. Having studied in the UP College of Medicine and the Philippine General Hospital- he knows first hand what’s good about the Philippines as well as what ails our nation. Having trained and worked as a physician in the US, he knows how things can still be improved as well as the pitfalls to avoid.

2. In his almost 2-decade long stay in the US, he has never forgotten the Philippines. He could have just enjoyed life there; sending dollars every so often as his tangible contribution to us holding the fort here. He chose, however, to return and offer himself for another, higher form of service.

3. He refuses to believe that the Filipino is inherently lazy and/or greedy. He still believes that a nurturing environment will enhance and facilitate the surfacing of the good in all of us. He believes that we wield a tremendous collective power in our hands.

4. His legislative agenda is not a mere hodge-podge of populist ideals. Rather, it is a list of practical, common sense issues that focus on systemic approach rather than band-aid solutions. An example of his train of thought:

Review the country’s debt servicing mechanisms + Rationalize spending on “infrastructures” (especially the superfluous flowerboxes, waiting sheds, and roads that lead to nowhere) --> free up more money for social services, like health and education > increase the salary for civil servants especially health professionals, teachers, and uniformed personnel --> have safer, healthier, more learned Filipinos --> have a more empowered population --> possible lessened dependence on external resources to meet our local needs

5. He embodies the truth that progress, like health, is a multi-faceted concern. While health and well-being form the core of his platform, he is unafraid to take up similarly important fights which affect health like the need for sustainable energy sources; access to quality education from primary to collegiate and vocational level; equal and swift dispensing of justice, and; stricter regulation of government-permitted gambling hubs, among others.

6. He believes in the model of Gawad Kalinga as a means to make decent, quality, affordable homes and livable communities a reality for lower income Pinoys currently living as informal settlers.

7. He does not personally advocate for abortion or other means of birth control BUT he believes that every Filipino has the right to be educated as regards the options s/he has and have access to these choices.

8. He is not afraid of new media and uses it to connect and collaborate with like-minded (and not-so-like-minded) fellows. He sees it as a great equalizer in terms of work and education so that learning and job opportunities can be made available regardless of geography and distance.

9. His campaign spending is virtually entirely from his own savings; he is not beholden to any entity or interest group. Sheer love of country is his motive for running.

10. He does not intend to make being a legislator his livelihood. He vows to not run for re-election should he get voted into office. He intends to do the most that he can in his first and only term as senator.



For Pinoys voting on May 10th, please do consider making #5 Dr. Martin Bautista a part of your senatorial lineup. A vote for Dr. Bautista is a vote for a healthier Philippines.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Voters' prayer

Re-posting this prayer I initially put up here in my blog before the May 2007 elections. It's the same democratic exercise with many familiar candidates running for the same posts. However, I believe the stakes are even higher in this elections, given the fact that we are attempting full automation nationwide amidst the cacophony of politicking using new media. Now more than ever, we need to get our act together as a nation, choose wisely and guard our votes well beyond the election season. But we cannot do it through our own strength alone-




LORD, make me an instrument of your presence in the Polls.


Where there is coercion and violence,
Let me sow seeds of love;

Where there is bribery and vote buying,
Let me sow seeds of integrity;

Where there is discord,
Let me sow seeds of unity;

Where there is electoral fraud,
Let me sow seeds of honesty;

Where there is duplicity and propaganda,
Let me sow seeds of truth;

Where there is indifference,
Let me sow seeds of care and concern;

And, where there is despair in the electoral process,
Let me sow seeds of hope.

Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
Think of my selfish motives when I vote.

Instill in me a deep sense of communal solidarity in my critical choice of candidates who would rise above the traditional politics of PAY-OFF, PERSONALITY and PATRONAGE.

Enlighten me to elect worthy men and women who embody the true spirit of public service in their moral consciousness.

For it is voting responsibly that we receive
the fruits of true democracy.
And it is in dying as a seed to our selfishness
that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

(Adapted from The Prayer of Saint Francis. Lifted from http://kpkcommongood.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Profiles: Candidates for the Philippine Senate, May 2010

The Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE NGO) put together these matrices of the profiles and stance of those running for national elections- candidates for President, Vice-President, and Senator. The matrices for senatoriables, though not complete, offer a glimpse into where many of the 61 candidates vying for 12 slots stand as regards major issues of the day.


Monday, April 26, 2010

A heartbeat away from the Presidency: Profiles of the Vice-Presidential Candidates

Here are the profiles of the Vice-Presidential candidates compiled by the Jesuit-initiated Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan. I echo their group's eternal encouragement-

Manalangin. Manindigan. Makialam.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

The People's Choice Election Kit 2010

For those still pondering on whom to vote in the coming May Presidential Elections, the independent think-tank IBON Foundation and the civil society group PAGBABAGO! (People's Movement for Change) has come with The People's Choice Election Kit 2010.

This comprehensive guide for voters contains election facts and figures and instructions on using the automated election system. But more importantly, it places side by side the stand of the presidential candidates on issues like corruption, human rights abuses, mining, land ownership by foreigners, jobs creation, taxation, the Visiting Forces Agreement, peace in Mindanao, gender equality, and nationalism. The material was put together based on their legislative/executive performance, media interviews, and the candidates' official websites.

IBON the Peoples Choice Election Kit 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why I am staying in the Philippines (8): The Nine Who Dare - Profiles of Presidentiables

I began this "Why I am staying in the Philippines" series in 2007 in preparation for the midterm elections that year. The initial entry in that series dealt with my response to a writer's tongue-in-cheek list of what scenarios will make him leave the Philippines. And, boy did I write a mouthful! As the 2007 election season rolled on, the series became the venue in my blog on which politics took center stage. This year, I'm resuscitating the series, a bit too late methinks, but timely just the same will my postings be.

I'm sharing the profiles of The Nine Who Dare - this election's Presidential Candidates. I consider it a happy problem that we have this big number of personalities who want to be of service to the country. These profiles have been put together by the group Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan or SLB, a group of volunteers from the Society of Jesus based in the Ateneo who have quality, credible elections as part of their mission. I just uploaded their PDF files to my Scribd account http://www.scribd.com/cfgomezmd for easier sharing with others.

May it serve as a guide for us as we select our country's Chief Executive a little less than a month from now. As SLB's slogan goes, we pray, we study our options, and we make a stand.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Never lost, always found (21): Passion

Lately, as I review my blog entries (or the lack thereof!), I see how closely it mirrors a number of what I hold dear in my heart. Lately, my entries become less personal, in the sense that I just don't talk about me and myself; rather, I am still revealing bits and pieces of what makes me tick or pissed in the form of advocacies and issues I blog about. Still, I see myself as a myopic, unfocused individual who seems to be flailing about.

This wandering feeling is even highlighted when I encounter people like:
Harvey Milk, staunch defender of civil rights in San Francisco;
Christopher McCandless, who walked away from the world's excesses in order to find himself and what is essential in the wilderness of Alaska;
Margaret Moth, CNN camerawoman extraodinaire, who didn't let canons nor cancer get in the way of covering a story.

Theirs is a single-minded doggedness that is oblivious to pain and discomfort, all in the pursuit of what is important and true for them. In fact, they didn't really have to do it, their individual exploits. But because of their desire to make a difference, our lives are somewhat better now.

Oddly enough, they remind me of Jesus' life- His zest for God's Word, His focus on service, His unparalleled obedience, His unwavering sense of mission despite humanity's unworthiness. He really didn't have to do all that He did, frankly speaking; but He did. And boy, did Jesus endure a lot!

In Paul's Letter to the Philippians Chapter 2, he recalled:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Now THAT is PASSION.

In the face of all my wandering and restlessness, I just pray to the Lord to please grant me clarity of purpose- why am I really here, what do I have to do, where should I really be in. I pray to the Lord that when He guides me to that spot that is my earthly niche, that He empowers me with all that I need. And if where I am now is where I am really supposed to be in, that I continue to find comfort, contentment, and peace with all I encounter =]

May God evolve my wanderlust into His Son's Passion...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I vote for the planet: EARTH HOUR 2010

Switch off your lights for 60 minutes on Saturday, March 27, 2010 from 8.30-9.30pm wherever part of the planet you maybe in in celebration of Earth Hour!


In 2009, the Philippines ranked first among 88 nations in terms of local participation in Earth Hour. Over 10 million Filipinos in 647 cities and municipalities switched off their lights during Earth Hour, saving an estimated 611MWh of electricity – equivalent to a temporary shutdown of a dozen coal-fired power-plants. (from the World Wildlife Fund - Philippines)

Imagine what a billion people the world over can do if we just put our hearts and minds and our acts together!

Whether you believe in climate change or not, switching off your lights- the non-essential ones at least- does make sense:
- it can help lower your own electric bill
- it can help save on the cost of oil and coal that will otherwise be used by power plants to give you electricity to power those lights
- it can help lower greenhouse gas emissions

Here's a video of the flash mob dance we did several week ago to drum up support for Earth Hour 2010-


Monday, March 15, 2010

Prayer for the rains to come



Last week, much-needed and most welcome sporadic rain fell on our parched country after being absent for almost two months. However, we can still benefit from more.

Here's a copy of the Oratio Imperata/Intercessory Prayers for Rain which the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila is asking all of us pray. If you're reading this, please join us praying for the alleviation of drought and water shortage in the Philippines.

(from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila website, as sent in the circular to all parishes by Cardinal Rosales)

God our loving Father, creator of our earth and of the universe, and all the wondrous elements of nature that sustain your living creatures, we humbly ask you to send us the rain that our country needs so badly at this time, to irrigate our fields, to stave off a power shortage, to provide water for our bodily health, and to refresh our parched lands. At your command the wind and the seas obey, raise your hand Almighty God to send us so that crisis may be averted.

Merciful and generous God, open our eyes to the richness and beauty of your creation and instill in us a deep love for this earth and all that is in and around it. Teach us to be wise stewards of your creation so that we may always use them responsibly and protect them from abuse and exploitation. At this time of crisis, dear Lord, move us to share more and to love more.

Loving God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, you entrusted the Filipino people to the special care of Mary our Mother, listen to the prayers that we bring up to her, our Blessed Mother, to intercede for us, for the protection of our land and our people, whom she loves.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Saint Rose of Lima, pray for us.

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us.


Ama naming mapagmahal na lumikha ng sangkalupaan at sanlibutan at ng kahanga-hangang kalikasan na dinadaluyan ng buhay ng iyong mga nilikha, pakumbaba kaming sumasamong ipagkaloob mo ang biyaya ng ulan na siyang matinding pangangailangan ng aming bansa ngayon upang tubigan ang aming mga bukid at mga nanunuyong lupa, mapigil ang mapipintong krisis sa kuryente at pawiin ang aming mga uhaw. Sa hudyat ng iyong salita sumusunod ang hangin at dagat, iunat mo ang iyong mapagpalang kamay upang kami’y biyayaan ng ulan at upang maiwasan ang krisis na aming kinahaharap.

Diyos na maawaain at mapagbigay, imulat mo ang aming mga mata sa kayamanan at kagandahan ng iyong nilikha at hubugin mo kaming maging mapagmalasakit para sa kalikasan. Turuan mo kaming maging magpagkakatiwalaang tagapangalaga ng iyong nilikha upang mapakinabangan namin ito ng may pananagutan at mapangalagaan ito laban sa pang-aabuso at panlulustay. Ngayong panahon ng krisis, himukin mo kaming lalo pang magbahagi, maglingkod at magmahal.

Mapagmahal na Diyos, Ama ng aming Panginoon Hesukristo, ipinagkatiwala mo ang Bayang Pilipino sa maka-inang pagkalinga ng Mahal na Birheng Maria, dinggin mo ang mga panalangin ipinamimintuho namin sa kanya para sa pagtataguyod niya sa amin, ang bayan labis niyang minamahal.

Hinihiling namin ito sa pamamagitan ng aming Panginoong Hesukristo na nabubuhay at naghahari kasama mo at ng Espiritu Santo , magpasawalang hanggan. Amen.

Mahal na Birhen ng Guadalupe, ipanalangin mo kami.

Santa Rosa ng Lima , ipanalangin mo kami.

San Lorenzo Ruiz, ipanalangin mo kami.

--==+==--

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Women: can't live with them, can't live without them


Many men think it's quite difficult to live with their nagging spouses, demanding girlfriends, or posturing moms.

Some women, they find it difficult, if not impossible, to live. Period.

From ONE.org and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

1 IN 7 WOMEN die in pregnancy and childbirth in Niger. In the United States, the risk is 1 in 4,800.

EVERY MINUTE a woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth.

80% OF MATERNAL DEATHS could be prevented if women had access to basic maternal health services.

IN SOUTH AFRICA, young women are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than young men.




Let's make it more than just one happy day for the women the world over; let's make the joy of women last for more than a month, more than a year.

Here's one way to do this.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Chile is in the headlines now but Haiti still needs help!


I received another update from UNICEF USA with regard to their work in Haiti. (I feel so important haha. As if I gave them a million bucks!) UNICEF USA is still there even if the news crews are slowly departing, if they haven't gone already, and the attention has switched to Chile.

According to its President and CEO Carly Stern (in the photo above), their (our!) team has extended the following assistance:

Immunization: 60,000 children have been immunized against diphtheria, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough, and the campaign will continue until an estimated 500,000 children receive vaccines;

Clean Water: Safe drinking water is currently reaching 850,000 people in 300 sites across Port au Prince, Leogane, and Jacmel;

Sanitation: 86,006 hygiene kits have been distributed across the country, enough for 500,000 people;

Education: During times of chaos and crisis, education provides children with a sense of safety and stability. UNICEF has started the distribution of 150 school tents, 390 school-in-a-box kits and 410 recreation kits.

Every dollar goes a long way! Here's how-

$6 can provide three 10-liter collapsible water containers for transporting and storing water.

$60 can provide 20 sheets of tarpaulin, providing simple shelter or ground sheeting for several families.

$200 can provide one recreation kit for 90 children to enjoy physical activity and play in times of emergency or displacement—containing items such as frisbees, jump ropes, footballs, volleyballs, handballs, whistles, a chalkboard and chalk, etc.

As we pray for the people of Chile, let's not forget the Haitians.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Online petition to free the Morong 43 - Please sign!




Please sign the online petition in support of upholding the rights of 43 community health workers arrested by the military in Morong, Rizal because they were being suspected to be members of the New People's Army (NPA)- a local insurgency group. More on the "Morong 43" here and here.

Please sign the online petition here: PetitionOnline.com/FreeD43. Help spread the word.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

UNICEF USA Haiti updates - 30 days after the quake

Thirty days after the quake that struck Haiti, the UNICEF USA Fund shares the highlights of their work there, from providing adequate safe water supply to restoring immunization programs to helping kids go back to school. As television crews leave and the world gets distracted by American Idol and the Oscars, the work in Haiti continues and UNICEF remains committed to stay the course.

No help is too small to matter; it's still all hands on deck. Please visit UNICEFusa.org/haitiquake to be part of this life-changing mission.

Please view the videos below to see where and how you will make an impact on Haitian lives.





Sunday, February 14, 2010




As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17 NIV

I thank the Lord for your decade-plus friendship, one that goes beyond words, best experienced rather than merely seen.

HBD F =]

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FREE THE MORONG 43!


(Statement of the Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights KARAPATAN, February 7, 2010)

Human rights alliance Karapatan strongly denounces the terrorism being foisted on groups critical of the Arroyo regime’s policies and human rights violations in the run-up to the May elections. Karapatan condemns the recent illegal arrest of more than 40 health workers and doctors, including the wife of Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor, Dr. Mary Mia, who were conducting First Responders Training in Morong, Rizal early Saturday, February 6.

At 6:15 Saturday morning, at least 300 heavily armed elements of the combined forces of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (202IBPA) and the Rizal Provincial Philippine National Police (PNP) forced their way into the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte in Morong, Rizal where the training was being held.

According to initial information gathered by Karapatan, the health workers, 26 of whom are female, were made to line up, their photos taken, were frisked, blindfolded, handcuffed, and were forcibly brought to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. The victims were also interrogated by the soldiers, while another was taking videos of the whole process. Col. Aurelio Baladad, commanding officer of the 202nd IBPA, alleged that the victims are members of the New People's Army (NPA).

"The PNP and AFP conducted the operation based on a defective search warrant allegedly for illegal firearms addressed to the property of a certain Mario Condes, that was issued by Judge Cesar A. Mangrobang of the Imus, Cavite Regional Trial Court. But in the first place, Condes is not the owner of the property that was raided,” Clamor stated.

Clamor also belied the military’s claims that the healthcare workers were making explosives. “My wife, Dr. Mary Mia, is the director of Community Health Development (CHD) for Health Education and Training Services, and has been providing health services as a community doctor for a long time,” he said.

As of writing, no formal charges have been filed against the doctors and health workers, and they are still being illegally detained in Camp Capinpin. The victims’ relatives and lawyers were not allowed inside the camp Saturday afternoon.

"The arms and explosives supposedly found by the military and police in the house, even the election paraphernalias, were planted by the perpetrators during their so-called ‘search operations.’ The military were not supervised by the owner of the house, the have the victims and the residents are lined up outside the buildings,” Clamor, who joined the team that initially gathered data, said.

“My wife and her colleagues should immediately be released, the military are illegally detaining them,” demanded Clamor.

Meanwhile, Lovella de Castro, Karapatan Secretary General added that training communty health workers have become a necessity because of the government's failure to address health care problems of the Filipinos.

"We should thank these doctors who chose to practice their profession in places where they are mostly needed. They train community heallth workers for free, as they are just being true to the oath of saving lives. These community health workers are also volunteers who just intend to provide medical services for the people," de Castro said.

Instead, under the counter-insurgecy program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), these doctors and volunteer health workers are considered enemies of the state. "As Mrs. Arroyo's OBL 2 and term of office is coming to an end, the more they have become desperate. Civilians have fallen targets of military operations wherein all due process are taken for granted,” de Castro added.

De Castro called on the people to be more vigilant, and to watch out for the numbered days of GMA in power. "We in the human rights community will not rest until we have held Arroyo accountable to all her crimes against the Filipino people." de Castro concluded

Sunday, February 07, 2010

UNICEF USA Haiti updates



(Photo above copyright of UNICEF/2010/Tidey)


I'm happy to have received an email last week from UNICEF United State Fund's CEO, Caryl Stern, updating contributors about the progress of their work in Haiti. They gave a snapshot of their work in Foyer L'escale Orphanage in Port-au-Prince; the kids did look indeed happier, if not healthier. )

In the past week alone, UNICEF:

Launched a campaign to immunize 500,000 children against measles, diphtheria, and tetanus;

Provided clean drinking water to over a half a million people daily;

Installed latrines, bringing the total of new sanitation facilities to 750; and

Delivered personal kits to 50,000 children without parental care.

As the world shifts its attention to other concerns and Haiti occupies less and less airtime and newspaper space, UNICEF remains committed to helping Haitians recover from the January 12th quake. I hope we can also continue to do our bit.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Life's bright side is in The Blind Side (2009)



At first, I really wanted to watch Avatar in 3D. I feared that having been released in the Philippines before the Metro Manila Film Festival, by the time we were back home from the States, we’d no longer be able to catch it in local cinemas. But then, thinking about the 3D thingamajig and how it may be a bit too dizzying for, um, some of us, my sister gently nudged us into watching The Blind Side.

All we knew about The Blind Side was that Sandra Bullock was starring in it and that it was a sleeper hit. Reason enough to go see the movie in our book.

We chose to watch the mid-afternoon screening. We arrived rather early, the drive to the cinema not taking more than 10 minutes I think. Good thing, though; the queue in front of the food concessionaire was a wee-bit kilometric. The food was worth the wait: the tub of MEDIUM popcorn and MEDIUM drink were enough to feed our entire family of five.

But what the concessionaires ought to be selling was Kleenex, and loads of it, especially if you are to watch The Blind Side.


So why is The Blind Side worth your time?

It speaks of the universal theme of the triumph of the human spirit but said in the language of American football. Listen carefully to the narration at the beginning because it sets the literal and figurative premise of the story. I think I understand enough football now to actually be interested in the Super Bowl. Or score a touchdown. Or avoid being tackled. Or not. But I digress.

You can look at the film as the (re-)telling of the story of your typical poor, underprivileged kid getting a break courtesy of a white savior; but that would be a great disservice to the film makers and actors. The film is definitely, definitely more than that.

It is about talent housed in an unlikely vessel: Big Mike and superior athletic skills, both unpolished, yet tiny shafts of glistening hope shine through the muck and the grime of life lived in a dysfunctional household.

It is about taking chances: a coach with an untested prodigy, a child with a friendless gentle giant, your stereotypical socialite with a stereotypical rejected, dejected teen.

It is about family, replete with a doting mom, a permissive father, a happily obtrusive younger brother, and slow-to-warm-up sister, and how one cannot live with them but cannot live without them.

It is about opportunity: how an initial look, a second glance, a third chance, and an infinite hope in humanity in general and genuine care and concern for one person in particular can spell the difference between life soaked in drugs or life lived amidst adoring fans and schools falling over themselves trying to get you to grace their football fields.

It is about hard work, doggedness, tenacity: to play the cards dealt by life; to shatter the glass ceiling of money, skin color, and societal expectations; to remain true to oneself while trying to become a better version of you.

It is a believable story that is a version of any viewer’s life struggles, set to motion by a collage of aptly cast actors and simple but stabbing one-liners. Sandra Bullock is a a little disconcerting as a blonde but she is (re-)revelation, wonderfully immersed and hardly visible under the veneer of Leigh Anne Tuohy. Quinton Aaron plays Big Mike so well you’d want to bring him home and adopt him yourself.

Watch The Blind Side and see how anything, everything is possible- even if hope seems out of sight.