Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

May the year 2010 lead us along the road to recovery, open its doors to a new hope, good health, gratitude, love and peace as 2009 closes the gates to failures, greed, ingratitude and sufferings.

A blessed New Year to you and to all in your home... Cheers to 2010!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Best Gift He Ever Had

In one of my early posts, I wrote about my friend Ron, who just retired from work and few days later he was diagnosed of having esophageal cancer. Guess what? in less than a year later, after going through series of chemotherapy and radiation and surgery last August, he finally gained his health back. And just two days before Christmas, he got the most wonderful gift he'd ever wanted. His latest PET and CT scans and all three doctors confirmed the good report— he is  free of cancer! That's just barely four months after his surgery. Isn't it amazing? God really works in many wonderful ways. In our conversation this morning, he could not thank God enough for giving him his life back. He said that he was never a religious person but what he went through really made him realized how God really works and how He listens to prayers. Ron said that he had never prayed more than he did when he was going through his ordeal. Everyday he is a witness to how God works miracles through his doctors, friends and all who care about him.

I was weeping with gratitude and overcome with every emotion imaginable as I was listening to Ron talk about his plan for his second life. I cannot describe the happiness he feels for the gift of life.

He still has to have his hormone dosage tested in a few weeks, and twice a year check-ups to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned. It's by no means over and there are no guarantees in life. But he chooses to look at all of this is good and if the statistics are right, then things are in his favor that he will stay cancer free for years to come. He's grateful to taste the food again, smell the tree, feel the warmth of the fire, and see the new year as the time he conquers this disease!

One day at a time, one step at a time, I am so thankful for Ron to be alive...
Merry Christmas & all things wonderful in 2010 to all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gift Of Forgiveness

Last night, I read a quote that made me pause for a while and inspired me to write this post:

"Bitterness and an unforgiving spirit can be likened to you taking poison and expecting that someone else would die from the effect. Forgiveness is about setting the prisoner in your heart free only to discover that all along, you had been the real prisoner." I realized I need to do a better job of letting go and just forgive. After all, I have not been good at forgiving others, not very well.

Since early childhood I've been taught not to bear grudges against my fellow men; that I should always be willing to forgive those who had caused me pain cause this is what God commanded us, as Christians. The first quote I memorized by heart and mind from grade school is "To err is human, to forgive is Divine." Later in life did I learn that it is easily said than done.

And how do you forgive someone who doesn't bother to ask forgiveness and the worst part is, the person doesn't even care that he hurt you and you spent many sleepless nights feeling upset, wandering how some people could be so insensitive and not realize the extent of their action. It's hard to forgive somebody who caused you pain, so much more to give it to someone who is not asking for it.

So I read the quote again. Then I realized that all those times that I was stubborn and not willing to forgive, I had been the real prisoner. It was I who was trapped, I wasn't hurting anyone else by not getting past the situation that occurred long ago. And I thought about why I hadn't forgiven sooner.

And it came down to courage. I'm not as fearless as I thought I was. I have so many excuses. All the things I mentioned don't make me strong inside, it's all external junk that I really don't need. I need to be strong, and just forgive, no Ifs no Buts. I need to have the courage to get rid of all the excuses and move forward, just forgive and forget.

That's what I wish for you this holiday season. I hope you'll take some time and give yourself a gift of forgiveness. Whatever is holding you back from forgiving, remember, you are the prisoner, and not the person you have not forgiven. The key to your freedom is in your hand...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

For The Love Of Golf

AFTER a long MEDIA SPOTLIGHT that’s made coverage of other big scandals this year look like a town council meeting, Tiger Woods finally issued a statement on Friday saying, “I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf.”
“I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused many people, most of all my wife and children,” Tiger said at his Web site. “What’s most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.”

The reason for an “indefinite break as,” Tiger said, “I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.”

Definitely, Tiger’s latest statement and the circumstances surrounding it will be examined and debated in the days and weeks ahead with great zeal. An infinite theories will be hatched and debunked. And the media  frenzy will rage on. I would imagine more people who wants to take a 60 seconds to fame will take advantage of the situation and strike while the iron is hot.

As a very avid golf fan, I have a simple response to Tiger’s statement and his desire to call a timeout: OK.

Tiger is my favorite golfer. I don't watch golf tournament on tv unless Tiger is playing. I am so frustrated to know about his infidelity but it has nothing to do with the sport he played so well and dominated that made me love and admire him so much. Besides I understand the pressures he must have to overcome being  as successful as he is.

I am his big fan and I will forever admire him as a transformative figure in golf. I will definitely root for him now, as well as his wife, Elin, and their children. I root for marriages. They’re not easy for anyone and harder for many. I also root for families, especially children, who have the most to lose when moms and dads fracture.

And I will root for golf.

I'm sure it's still a long road to travel for Tiger Woods. But like any other scandals of the rich & famous in the past, this too will come to pass. He does need sometime or however long it takes to get something worked out. He shouldn't worry about bouncing all the way back (as an endorsement force), as sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards said. "The one thing we know is that when a ball drops from 15 feet when it bounces back up, it's only going to rise to 12 feet."

It's been said that while golf will never be the same in the Tiger era—especially since the Tiger golf economy may implode like the U.S. financial system did a year ago—it will survive as a game and professional sport. Golf made Tiger; he didn’t make golf. He just made it thrilling, heroic and much, much richer.

The luster may be gone, the money may dry up, the TV ratings may tank—which is all very sad and detrimental to the livelihoods of many people—but the game that made Tiger is still a great game. This scandal, and any future scandals, can’t change that.

My love & passion for golf will always be the same...

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Letter From A Brave Filipina

Dear Kababayan, after reading the text below which was sent to me by a friend, I could not help but decide to share it with you. This is a beautifully, candidly and eloquently written letter from an ordinary citizen of our country that has seen the reality of life there. Many of us who are abroad may not know everything that is happening there and even though most of us are no longer Filipino citizens, many of us still have hearts that bleed for our countrymen that are suffering from the country’s vermin leaders. This text below is being presented to you as received, nothing deleted. This text is obviously written from the heart and nails the country’s problems right on the head. I greatly applaud to high heavens the bravery of this Filipina for speaking out. Please share this message to as many of our kababayans especially now that the election is forthcoming. Let us pray that the Filipino people are enlightened to vote for the right candidates to lead our beloved country; leaders that are honest and dedicated for the good of the people and our country.

Many thanks for taking the time to read. It is a bit lengthy but wholesome, indeed. I am sure you will not stop reading until you reach the end and would even want for more information. This letter is truly heavier than the weight in gold. Here it goes:

To all Filipinos:

I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn't true. It is one thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get any worse than this?

Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my tv to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not men. They are caricatures of men - too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these "honorable" crooks lambast each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and apalling that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at its worst!

I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like "Honorable", "Senator", "Justice", "General" and worse, "President". Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation – Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. Their motto? "Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich."

It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!

I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family's, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation's coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.
And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone's morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own "pag bad ka, lagot ka!" slogan.. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping.
Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it's all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?
And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. "Love (of power) is blind" takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband's financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don't agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won't make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it..

But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it.

Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good. We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray, too, including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of our desperation in ridding our nation of these vermin. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!

I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion – right from the sandbox till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and pass on your family name with pride and honor.

I call on educators and teachers – we always underestimate the power of your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real, worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future – and it would be largely because of you, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.

I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see. But neither let this make you cynical, because we need your idealism and fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that gave you your ancestors and your heritage. Use technology and all available resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.

Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this country.. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. Do your utmost to excel in your chosen field.. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.

For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.

Remedios C. Paningbatan
Administrative Officer
Office of the General Counsel
Asian Development Bank
Tel (632) 632-4248

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sleepless In Manassas

It's past midnight now and yet, here I am still wide awake. Everything is okay but sleep won't come easy tonight...

Actually I was frustrated with something this afternoon. And I guess that's what triggers me to feel a little bit down. But life is like that. Sometimes we have great days, we feel like we are on top of the world. But there are times that it's not easy to smile even if there is nothing wrong with your life. That's the reason why I have this blog. Every now and then I just want to unweave and pour out my emotion. This is my place to paint my thoughts and feelings.

It's past 1:00AM, I am starting to get sleepy...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Away From Home

Couple of weeks from now, Christmas will be here. Everywhere you go nowadays, you see a lot of Christmas decorations, the Christmas songs are playing everywhere, and the shops are filled with Christmas shoppers. I've got my Christmas tree up today, decorated with Christmas balls and lights, the presents are all wrapped up and are sitting comfortably under the tree. We've been looking forward to seeing another white Christmas minus the snow shovels and snow storms. Yet, despite all the merry decorations and great looking lights, I miss Christmas in the Philippines.

For us Filipinos, there's nothing like Christmas in the Philippines. You actually hear Christmas songs played on radio & malls as early as first week of September, but officially our Christmas season starts on December 16. It usually ends on the first Sunday of January. Christmas in the Philippines has been described as the longest Christmas celebration in the world. Okay, what usually happens on December 16? That's when the "Simbang Gabi" officialy starts all over the Philippines. People of all ages, old or young, whether you're rich or poor, everyone looks forward to Simbang Gabi. Some people never miss a single Simbang Gabi at all, most people believe that if you complete December 16 to December 24 yes, all those 9 Christmas morning masses, your wish will be granted. I had perfect attendance on my last four years that I was in the Philippines. The Mass is usually very early (some churches start as early as 3:30 AM and some start at 4 or 4:30 AM). Lovers walk hand-in-hand, whole families walk to church together and some drive, but it's more fun if you walk since there are lots of people walking and you get to eat all the Christmas goodies being sold in the streets. Groups of friends or what we call them as barkadas, all walk together, giggling and teasing each other. Churches are jam-packed, most people can't get in the church so they end up just sitting or standing right outside. As soon as the Holy Mass is over, everyone scrambles to the street stalls for freshly cooked goodies. (note: you're going to drool over the smell). Bibingka, kutsinta, puto bumbong, salabat, arroz caldo, lugaw, hot cocoa and hot coffee are all being served to hungry churchgoers by these street food peddlers. From where I came from the weather is usually cooler in December (in the early morning hours, it sometimes get down to as low as 60 degrees F).

I can clearly remember how my family celebrates on Christmas. We have a huge family gathering on Christmas Eve. All the kids (pamangkins & apos) would wait until midnight (we usually go to the Christmas Eve Holy Mass at 8:00 pm). Sometimes we would eat right before midnight, so that we can open our Christmas presents at exactly 12 midnight. The dining table at my house would be filled with tons of Filipino-style Christmas food, like Christmas ham, queso de bola, Filipino spaghetti, lumpia, fruit salad, bread, pancit, lechon and different fruits. After feasting on our Christmas dinner, every family would then exchange gifts and we'd all open them at the same time. The girsl and their friends and cousins would stay awake all night talking; the elders (including me) will spend the rest of the night karaoke singing. Around 5am, everyone would be tired and sleepy but very happy. The next day, we all wake up early around 7 or 7:30am, because there would be kids (also from the neighborhood) knocking at the doors, asking for some Christmas money. Sometimes there would be kids (usually my god kids) that go to my house (together with their parents, who are usually my friends) and I'd give them their Christmas gifts and we'd serve up some left over ham and a bit of fruit cake and queso de bola. This would go on and on until afternoon.

Then on New Year's Eve, we celebrate the same way, wait till midnight and all sorts of firecrackers in the neighborhood would fill the air with noise. And after all the noise, We would go and eat a big feast again, but this time, there would be no exchanging of gifts. There would usually be loud music, some dancing and singing, and fireworks all over the city when the clock strikes at 12:00 midnight.

Christmas is absolutely unique in the Philippines. This will be the second year that we would not be spending Christmas there. But I always celebrate it in the Pinoy ways and traditions. I am proud of my culture and traditions and I intend to celebrate the holiday season Pinoy style wherever I go.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter And Christmas

Today is again cloudy and very cold. The sun has already risen, but it is still dark and gloomy outside. The first winter storm of this winter is approaching and Friday night there might be a mix of snow and rain and sleet which will make travel on the roads quite difficult and dangerous on Saturday. I used to hope for days like that because the girls and I were excited to see snow...But I don't want to go through winter again because in bad weather I usually end up being stuck in the house and most of the time I just sleep and eat. Last year I gained 10 lbs in just 3 months...huh!!!!

Yes, it is now so in the east coast it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon and the sun doesn't come up until 7:30 in the morning. Holiday cheer is beginning to fill the air and soon there will be rounds of Christmas parties to attend. I miss Christmas in the Philippines. My mind conjures up images of how we celebrate Christmas. It starts with me and my daughters attending Simbang Gabi. Back home in Gensan starting December 15 we would go to bed early so that we could wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning of December 16 and won't be late for the 1st Misa de Gallo Mass (usually starts at 4:00AM). I imagine the huge chandeliers ( 6 of them if my memory serves me right ) of the OLPGV Parish that are only all lighted up during this season. After the Mass, the parish serves coffee, pandesal or bibingka. Outside the church street food peddlers will be selling freshly cooked goodies of kutsinta, puto bumbong, arroz caldo, etc.These are delicacies specially prepared during the Christmas season.

This year I will miss spending Christmas in the Philippines but there is consolation in the feeling that this time at least I will not spend it alone, and I still have my girls to share that special feeling of being with family. And in spirit, I know my family and friends back home will be spending it with me. I can only imagine this coming  Christmas as filled with love and celebration for the many blessings but also an opportunity to share the joy and happiness this season brings.

Merry Christmas to all of you!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Day in The Tropical Paradise

When I was still living in the Philippines full time, my favorite getaway when I get tired of the noise and traffic of the city is to go play golf or go somewhere quiet and peaceful to go swimming, walk in the beach, and watch the day pass me by. Gumasa, Glan, Sarangani Province is famous for its beach white sand. It is about an hour and a half drive from my hometown General Santos City. The last time I was there was in May 2007.

But in my visit to the Philippines last month, my brother told me about this new resort being developed by one of the business magnate in Gensan. The owner told my brother that it is not yet finished but there is one cottage that we could already use, anyway we were just going to stay for a day.

Just driving along the coastline going there is already a great experience.  As soon as you enter the Gensan-Sarangani boundary, you will be cruising along a highway that was built thru USAID. It is a world class highway devoid of the bumps & humps with fresh country air and beautiful scenery-- rice fields, coconut, banana and corn plantations, hills and mountains on the left and seashore on the right. The quaint little towns along the way amazed me and made me pensive. Time seems to have passed on them. They were not as much different from what I remember them 20 years ago. I still see carabao as a means of plowing the field and horse to carry the produce to the market. Life seems very simple still.

When we got to the place, I was mesmerized by the tranquility of the area. The beach sand is white and clean and the water is so clear.There I envisioned a world-class resort in that part of Sarangani. Listening to the owner talked about his plans for the place, I know on my return to the Philippines next time, I will be going  there  many times.

I know big name resort towns have spoiled our society and taken away the simple pleasures from the traditional summer family vacation. But as what I heard from Mr. Tan's vision of the place. I imagined nightlife there will be best experienced by an evening walk along the beach. The moonlight and stars that reflect off the ocean’s surface act as bright lights. For music, the soothing sounds of the gentle waves with a gentle breeze coming off of the ocean. All these and the luxury of a world class resort, what more can you ask for?
My family was so grateful to Mr. Tan for that wonderful time we had in El Jardin del Mar. Thank you very much!!!

50 Years After

My parents are in their early 70's and they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last Sept. 29, 2009.
For months, my siblings and I had planned a grand event: video interviews, powerPoint presentations, buffet galore, and hundreds of friends and relatives sharing the joyous occasion with us – the works! We thought our parents deserved nothing less than a fantastic fete with high (not to mention, tacky) production values. However, my parents had a different idea about how they wanted to celebrate their anniversary. Their wish was to have a much more simple celebration at the kiosk of the Parish Church of Alabel, Sarangani province following the renewal of their vows at the church. Aside from the family they wanted their guest to be just people they work with in the parish. Fortunately, they made this clear to us before we made the reservations and the invitations were mailed. So, as much as we had been looking forward to hosting a big party, we accepted the fact that it was their anniversary and they should celebrate according to their own plans! They wanted it simple and low-key, yet genuine and meaningful-like their love and marriage we were celebrating.

After the ceremony, papa gave a 5-minute talk on how they have stayed together all these years and touched the hearts of those present when he said that if ever they have a chance to go back and be young again, he said that he had no doubt he would want to marry my mother again. Sounds like a cliche but we, their children are living witnesses to their love and commitment.

With their daughters, (not in the photo is our sister who is a nun)

With their only son and grandson

Some of the guests (colorful!)

Our parents look like they're always serious but they both have a good sense of humor. Laughter and a bit of cheesy kissing. Add constant conversation (after half a century together, they haven’t run out of things to talkabout!) and the grace of God – that’s how they got their Golden Bond.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where Is Home?

I had been living in the States for a while so going back to take care of a very important business with only one week planning didn't sound that bad. We came to love the way of life and the convenience of doing things in the States and so we decided to stay for good. And now that my daughters have come to love the life in the US, I think the possibility of them going back to the Philippines is now very slim. I used to say that this is my home and it is here where I'm going to get old and die, but now I am not sure anymore. My three weeks of being here made me realize that things have changed a lot. People change and so do I, that I'm sure! It's weird being home and yet feels like you're missing a lot of things in your life. And to think that less than two years ago in my first post, I talked about how I missed home.

My flight from Dulles Int'l Airport to Manila via Incheon, Korea was long and exhausting beyond description. While on the plane, I had mixed feelings. There's an immeasurable difference in the way of life in the US and in the Philippines. I wondered what it would be like. Would I feel like stranger in my home? Would things still be the same? Would I want to come back to the US? With all of these thoughts rumbling around in my head, I began to think that maybe going home at this time wasn’t such a good idea. I am adapted to American life already….better not to mess up the cycle. But I also missed home, my families and friends...

I got here in Gen. Santos last Sept. 16 after a 23-hour flight, and 36 hours without sleep. I spent my first 5 days sleeping during the day and staying awake at night. It was on my second week here that I started meeting and going out with friends to parties and other gatherings like concert, birthdays, anniversaries, fiesta, etc. It's just about a week ago that my body clock got adjusted to the new time.  

So going back to the whole experience… in less than a month I was exposed to different faces of my country. Just as soon as I got here in Gensan, the devastating trpoical storm Ondoy hit Manila and other provinces in Luzon that took many lives and left hundreds of family homeless and hungry.  In my hometown specifically, I noticed so many changes in less than 2 years that I was away. What used to be a dusty big track of vacant land where that used to be parking places for many churhgoers (including me ) is now a very nice park, the Plaza Heneral Santos. A new huge mall just opened last October 5. There are 3 big malls  in Gensan  just a block or two away from each other that traffic in that part of the city  became so bad especially during rush hours, it is so frustrating that driving is becoming an ordeal.  also I noticed that city population  have increased dramatically. Cost of everything have also gone high so fast and yet salaries and wages didn't increase that much. Price of gas is surprisingly almost the same as in the US which left some questions in my mind that I'd rather not talk about here. 

Since I got home, I played golf as much as I can because I know when I go back to the US, it would be winter and I won't be able to play until second week of April next year. I had been to white beaches in Gumasa, Glan Sarangani a couple of times. It's really beautiful there with it's white sand and gorgeous sunset. If you are looking for peace and quiet while enjoying the beach, the sun and white sand, this is the place to be...All these ALMOST COST NOTHING!!!
Just to conclude, the experience so far has been  challenging, exciting, and self realizing experience, with all the needed ingredients to call it “vacation”, where for me many things are new and different, making me feel like a foreigner or stranger in my own hometown and all these changes just taking place in less than two years.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What Has Gone Wrong???

Talking to a long time friend today, inspired me to write this post. You see, I used to envy her because she seemed to have a perfect life--successful career, a loving husband & wonderful kids. I was surprised to hear from her that her husband left her and took their kids with him...She said theirs was a case of true love that was not taken cared of, it went on a descending journey and it was already too late to fix it. They both screwed up and nobody wants to give up their ego. But she was so upset and blaming herself for what had happened.

Love gone wrong is the source of stories and songs throughout history. We all messed up when it comes to our interpersonal relationships. Somehow, we’ve all done it. But it’s what we learned from those failures that make us better and stronger person.

There is a lot of good and bad things that happen in my relationships, I have reached down into my life’s baggage and shared a story of the worst mistake I’ve made in my life– and the lessons I've learned and how it improved me as a person and the quality of my relationship after the wounds healed.

So my friend this pieces of thought is especially for you, "time heals all wounds." This pain you are going through will pass, it may leave you scarred but the lessons you will learn will make you a much better person. 

Go pick up the pieces and start building yourself now, not tomorrow, but today. Go for it!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Transition And Assimilation

My daughters really surprised me how quickly they have adapted to life in the US. And to think that they have lived all their lives in the Philippines before we came here to live. Why did I say that? Well, there are many things to prove that statement. One is, they got used to living without house helps around. They learned to do their own laundry, cook dinner, vacuum the floor and do the dishes (well, with the dishwasher it's not a big job anyway). Here in the US we live in a neighborhood where houses are far apart from each other and partly forested so our home is in the middle of the woods. Our house in the Philippines is in the middle of a vibrant neighborhood where almost everyone knows everybody. They told me that they even like the "live and let live" kind of people interaction here than the familiarity of living back home as if everyone has the right to know about your life. We've been in this same neighborhood living for a couple of years but I don't even know most of my neighbors by name. Sure we do smile and wave our hands whenever we see each other from our driveway or while driving, but that's all about it. And frankly, it's more comfortable and simple that way.

One of my big worries before I decided to live permanently here in the US is for them to suffer "culture shock" and insignificant concerns like the changing season especially winter. I have heard stories from others' experiences that pulling up roots from homeland can be traumatic. But surprisingly, none of those worries ever came true. Thanks God for that! My eldest daughter is even working now and she seems to be really enjoying her job. She got lots of new friends and she already acquired things through her own effort and still had many plans for her future. It's hard to believe how far she has gone in such a short time, call it youth adrenaline or whatever. As a mom, all I can do is support and be there for them in their search for their dreams and aspirations. I always remind them that USA is a wonderland of opportunities for everybody. It is a country that offers endless possibilities for individuals with the talent, drive and determination to make things happen. If they work hard, then can achieve anything they want.

My daughters are still young, being  successful is not necessarily dependent on where you grew up or even where you've relocated. Drive, ambition and persistence are what's needed -- in any language.

We decided to remain permanently in this country; learning and living in the new ways, without having to cut the bonds that tie us to our native roots. To honor both countries with love is our goal!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Approval From Blogvertise

Practically I am new to this blogging world. This site was born on January 3, 2009. My friend Avel of encouraged me to sign in to a blog site and share my thoughts to the world because he said I can write beautifully, well as I said, he is a friend. I was hesitant then but with his and my brother's encouragement, I finally post my first entry "From Miles Away." It's hard to believe I already have 91 entries with 4000+++ pages and 1,650+++ visits in my site as of today. I know that figure is nothing compared to number of visitors that most blogsites get, but for me it's a big accomplishment. I am flattered. I also have an offer from a Singapore-based company to advertise them in my site. Isn't that inspiring????

I originally intended my blogsite to be just for me to have an outlet to express my deep thoughts and pondering and what's going on with my life, my feelings and experiences.

Blogging became my way of expressing myself without being worried that I will be misunderstood or afraid of  offending somebody. But lately, my friends have been insinuating to me that I can earn income while doing what I love doing. And I said, wait...who wouldn't want an extra income if it won't limit me from doing other things that makes my life more exciting? My friend who is an IT Manager suggested a couple of websites and yesterday, Blogvertise, approved my application with now I earn money while doing what I love to do...yes, I get paid while blogging!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Without Limbs or Without Limits???

I was struck deeply by this video that I want to share this to everyone who pass by this site.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Her Birthday

My oldest daughter is celebrating her birthday today....I can't believe she's turning 22!!! It's hard to believe that it's been that long since I first held that very tiny baby (just 6.5lbs) in my arms. I can't forget those wrinkled, tiny hands of a very fragile new born baby. I couldn't help but think about how my life has changed from that moment on. I remember her birth as vividly as if it happened yesterday...but all those years in between seemed like centuries ago. Which made me to ponder how very short life is and so I have to enjoy it with my daughters as much as possible.

Even if they grew up practically without a father, they are strong, smart and wonderful daughters any mother could ask for. I've truly enjoyed being blessed enough to experience them becoming a young woman right before my eyes. I hope that I'll be able to share something about one of my fondest memories of them as a little girl in comparison to one of my fondest memories from them when they're old. I'd include something about how I hope that they never stop working to achieve their goals & aspirations... and being the sappy person that I am, I'd probably include a line or two of the song "Climb Every Mountain". My daughters are 22 and 19-year old right now... and each time I hear that song I get teary eyed thinking about the challenges we went through when they were still little girls and I was both a father & a mother to them. I wish for them to be strong to overcome obstacles and trials in finding their dreams and I pray for them to have a successful life and beautiful future.

I could not think of a better way to celebrate my daughter's birthday than thanking God for the blessings of good health and for the gift of life.

Chelle! I love you so much, and I am so proud of you. You have become a kind, sweet soul and a strong young woman, Yes baby you're still young. I couldn't have asked for a better daughter and I don't know what I did to deserve great kids like you and Rhea. We do everything together, shopping, driving, travelling, laughing and crying. We tell each other almost everything. I hope in all your endeavors, God will look after you and take care of you. I love you, Rhea loves you. HAPPY Birthday precious one..I hope that your day is perfect and everything you wished it would be!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For Life And Freedom

I am ready to take on
My world's big fight
Holding the key
To what I want to be
The key to my goal

But I see an abyss
That was deep down
And I could be eaten
By the darkness below

I can't remember where to go
I continue to walk by
And a sign catches my sight
That says, "500 miles To Goal"

And I continue to stroll
Treacherous mountains and hills
Where there's many kills
That tear my spirit & scares my soul.

I continue through
Where only few have ever tread
Something so vast ahead
And so many unknown paths

Then two choices and those voices
That I hear in my head
Choose the wide & easy road
Where most have left footprints

But I refused to follow the voice
And took a road to the sea
I reached a crossroad
And my head was spinning

More dreams to build
Choices to choose
Some goals to change
Some roads to follow

Things that are strange
Challenges to take
Mistakes to make
Prices to be paid
For life & freedom...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dancing In The Rain

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...
it's about learning how to dance in the rain!"

I love this very encouraging lines. Whenever I am not at the top of myself, I read inspirational books or pick an inspirational saying and ponder on it...No matter how good our life is, there will come a time that we will be tested. We all face adversity in our life. However, it's not the adversity, but how we react to it that will determine the joy and happiness in our life. I realized that with gratitude...I should learn how to dance in the rain.

It almost sounds so simple but one word...gratitude, changed my attitude, thus, my life, forever. Sarah Breathnach said it best... "When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present....we experience heaven on earth."

My life has been very exciting with its ups and downs, but when I look back from where I started to where I am now, I realized that there had been many fairways & greens & only few hazards and sand traps I'd been to. There are countless things that I am grateful for and I am still looking forward to many tomorrows full of promise ahead of me...

Life is really good & even more beautiful every time I come out of the challenges stronger and a better person...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Remember Those Days

Although it is not Valentines Day, I would like to share this very touching story forwarded by my friend to me.

This story is very typical. During my married life, I myself have experienced so many disappointments of one's expectations when you get married and you have this romantic notions you read in romantic novels and maybe the work of the active imaginations and dreams of being young and naive...

I know that it is tough for a child to grow up without parents-- a father and a mother. Through out my adult life, I have seen the effect of children growing up without a father or a father figure, or without a mother or a mother figure. I am sure everyone could see what effect it has on many children who grew up without a strong father figure and those without a mother or mother figure in their lives. There are so many sociological studies with statistics and correlations on the maturity, social emotional, mental, psychological maturity of children without parents or either parents and those with parents or parent figures in their lives.

This story though to me is a much extreme situation. I couldn't be that martyr of a woman. that is so difficult. She had more LOVE in her heart, I guess, but it makes a good story to emphasize on the pitfalls of marriage.

" When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held
her hand and said, I've got something to tell you. She
sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her

Suddenly I didn't know how to open my mouth. But I had
to let her know what I was thinking.
I want a divorce. I raised the topic

She didn't seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she
asked me softly, why?
I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw
away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man!
That night, we didn't talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew
she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Dew. I didn't love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement
which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30%
stake of my company.

She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman
who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a
stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I
could not take back what I had said for I loved Dew so dearly.
Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see.
To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her
writing something at the table. I didn't have supper but
went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Dew.

When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I
just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she
didn't want anything from me, but needed a month's notice
before the divorce.
She requested that in that one month we both struggle to
live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son
had his exams in a month's time and she didn't want to disrupt
him with our broken marriage.

This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she
asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal
room on our wedding day.

She requested that everyday for the month's duration I
carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I
thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together
bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Dew about my wife's divorce conditions.. . She
laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what
tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said

My wife
and I hadn't had any body contact since my
divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I
carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy.
Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mummy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don't tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn't looked at this woman carefully for a long time... I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of
intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten
years of her life to me.

On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense
of intimacy was growing again. I didn't tell Dew
about this. It became easier to carry her as the month
slipped by. Perhaps the everyday
workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on
quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily..

Suddenly it hit me... she had buried so much pain and
bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched
her head.

Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it's time
to carry mum out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother
out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our
son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day,
when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our
son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn't
noticed that our life lacked intimacy.

I drove to office.... jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind... I walked upstairs. Dew opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Dew, I do not want the divorce anymore.

She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my
forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my
head. Sorry, Dew, I said, I won't divorce.. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn't value the details of our lives, not because we didn't love each other any more. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart.

Dew seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and
then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked
downstairs and drove away.

At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of
flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on
the card. I smiled and wrote, I'll carry you out every morning until
death do us apart.

That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile
on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed
- dead."

The small details of our lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank, etc...etc. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves.. So find time to be your spouse's friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!

I hope that you will be inspired to share this and hopefully, save a marriage.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Till I Met You

Till I met you
I walked this life alone
No hand to hold in mine
My heart was all my own

Till I met you
True love was just a fantasy
Dreams of wonder and pain
fleeting passion, time spent in vain

Till I met you
Nobody knows that I was sad & Lonely
God knows the pain & emptiness I hide
The fear & longing of living life alone.

But now we have a journey
You and me toward our sunset
I know I will never walk alone
I have you beside me all the way.

So I thank the day that we found each other
But most of all, God from heavens above
He must have heard my ardent prayer
For I have found true love in you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Small Things In Life

"Live for what is real to you. Live for what truly matters to you."
Just a few days ago while vacationing in my bestfriend's summer home in an affluent neigborhood in LaGrange, Georgia I found myself slipping into this state of mind. I mean really, what's life's point? Everyday spent futilely doing work that will only help us get more money, that will help us to afford all luxuries in life, and then we die, after a mere 80 years or so.

But what are the things that are real and truly matters to me?

Sometimes life gets so busy, engulfing and chaotic it is easy to think you have time for only the BIG STUFF. The new car, a successful business, a huge bank savings account, the ideal relationship with a significant other, the nicest house on the block, the latest fashions ....But for me, one thing that makes life as wonderful as it is, are the “small stuffs.” After all, big things are made up of the smaller ones.

I remind myself in everyday situations to embrace those small, often overlooked things that bring so much joy to me — my love of jazz & country music, not only because I think the music is awesome, but also because of where that love came from. I have fond memories of riding my horse named Mula, back when I was a teenager in my parent's farm. Country music reminds me of those hills and valleys, streams and rivers that we travelled early morning & late afternoon. And oh, how I miss those smell coming from the corn & ricefields.

It’s the small, heart & rose tattoo that I have on my left arm. Not because I think it looks attractive on me but because of the feeling of gaining back my self esteem, my independence & the freedom from a heartbreaking marriage. My ex would have never given me permission to have any tattoo anywhere on my body.

It’s the smell of an everyday item and the memory that accompanies it — my sunblock cream because it reminds me of being at Kalsangi Golf Course, Olaer swimming resort or Gumasa beach with my family back home or a fresh, sliced tomato because it takes me back to my grandpa's garden in the summertime where he had the tastiest pineapples and tomatoes in town (at least for me).

It’s walking through the bookstore any time between mid-April to late May and seeing all the school supplies, not because I’m there to buy any for myself but because I remember the excitement of going back to school when I was a student, and seeing the faces of my daughters when they were little girls shopping with that same feeling.

It’s the precisely placed "I LOVE JESUS" sticker on the back of the vehicle I wait behind in traffic. Though I’d rather not be sitting at the red light, that small sticker is a symbol to me of the faith & source of strength shared by many Filipinos.

Logically, focusing on the small things makes sense. When you have a huge goal or dream, starting with the small details is what makes them successful. Any journey starts from a single step.

The little things. It’s waking up much earlier than I am used to, but knowing I am about to sit with my daughter for coffee before she goes to work makes it more than worth it.

It’s remembering your friends’ birthdays, sending that one more e-mail or note when you’re ready to rest for the day. It’s the enjoyment of showing the world your superstar skills even if you are just in front of your own mirror at home with nobody around.

It’s waving as I drive past the sweaty, weary and tired construction workers on the side of the road just to give them a smile. It’s riding around in the car with my daughters, because we need to catch up. With no worry about today’s pricey gasoline or our to-do lists, this small thing is no “small thing” to take for granted.

Whether it is an old photograph, a specific area of town, an aroma, a brief memory, a few minute chat with a friend, a simple "I Love You" text to surprise your love one... It is always worth to embrace the small things that bless everyday life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Ones For You

When people have shared experiences in the past, meet again and realized that they can't be together even if they still love each other and must part, there is a feeling of great sadness. Saying goodbye to people that we love and feel connected to is an occasion of somber reflection and not an easy situation to be in. It is hard to imagine not seeing them ever again, and yet we have to go on separate ways. It is comforting to know that even if you might not see each other again and you will be separated forever, you will always be in each other's hearts, and at least the friendship has to be nurtured. It is for those who are in this situation that I wrote this poem:

We are standing here and yet
Not knowing what to say
Has anything really changed at all?
We age slowy and live some years.

No longer are we star crossed
but we both know it feels the same
but really, what is the choice to make?
I chose the life I live, as you did your own.

My eyes are blinded by my unshed tears,
but at last this time I see
I guess it was not meant to be,
As it wasn't in the past.

Thought you'd ask for forgiveness
But then, what is there to forgive
Nothing I hear will take these words
And change them from Goodbye.

I'd ask you to always remember
the good times and the friendship
I said I'd always love you
Who knows what the future holds?

Sail on, and find your shore
I ask you not to cry, please just try
Tomorrow will be better
Cause true love is never ending!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Choice I Made

Recently I've found myself having to make a seemingly very difficult decision in life. As I have heard many times, life is sometimes too tough and often throws us challenges which are too difficult for us to handle. So we try to avoid it, try to push it aside, never confront it or put it at the back of our mind and deal with it later. This was what happened to me a few days ago. I was faced with a situation where I had to make a life changing decisions. The more I try to avoid facing the challenge, the more it creates a problem for me and making it hard for me to make a smart and quick decision which was very important at that point. I spent countless hours thinking about it, contemplating all of the options, and trying to sort out all of the complex emotions that go along with the decision I had to make. I made pro and con lists, took a long drive, wrote down my feelings until I could come to a place where I could be comfortable with the decision that I have to make. The question that was bugging me those times was, how can I be sure that it is the right decision, and how can I possibly understand the outcome of something that is as unpredictable as life itself? The result---I got sick! Too much pressure and stress made my stomach upset and I didn't sleep one whole night. I felt miserable. I got exhausted and drained. I thought I was worn out. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat. There was nothing I felt like doing.

The truth is, I really believe that there should be no rushing or shortcuts in making life changing decisions. And there is no right or wrong way to make a decision, and despite my attempt to predict the outcome, there are so many variables in my life that it was nearly impossible to know where my path will take me. But I knew I had to make a decision. I knew at that moment that the only thing I can do is make the best decision I knew how to make at the time. Making a decision can be a difficult process, especially if you are dealing with a situation that is affecting you mentally and emotionally.

I decided to confront my dilemma. Whatever gives me more happiness and peace of mind, I have to take it. I told myself that if I end up hurting someone, I need to see if I can make up for that. Its never possible to make everyone happy, so I have to see what and how much other people make a difference in my life to figure out the decision I have to make.

Indeed its not until we deal with the challenge that is facing us and make decisions about it that true liberation and the possibility to change our reality arises. Support of families, friends and love ones also plays a very vital role in helping us go through the process. I am very blessed to have family and friends who let me know they are always there for me and a love and partner who always understands and supports me in anything that I am going through in my life.

I finally made one of the hardest decisions that I ever had. It is an awesome liberation when I think about it because it means that the outcome of my choices or decision is not really that important. What's important is unveiling another aspect of who I am, what I am and what is really more important to me at this point. I believe, life is all about making choices, we get to choose one among the many, and the one we choose defines our future and destiny..

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Touching The Moon

Yesterday as I was flying back from Houston, Texas for my college reunion last weekend, I couldn't stop thinking that this reunion felt way too short. Even though the attendance turnout was lower than expected, I have to say it was enjoyable and very fruitful. I would have enjoyed another evening or two of more conversations, laughs and reminiscing with all of my fellow alumni, but at the same time, I was so glad to be home now.

One thing that struck me during our gathering was how much down to earth almost everyone was. Instead of people flaunting their status in life, most everyone was more anxious to talk about life in the campus back then & reminisce the experiences we all had been together, discuss how our families have been flourishing, the travels and experiences we've lived, our dreams and aspirations for our alma mater and country in general. I really felt a sense that everyone had been able to let their hair down and just enjoy the reunion without any concern over status, job, wealth, looks, etc.

I was also struck with these thoughts as well. I talked to so many people I never really had a chance to know at all in college days and was amazed at what great personalities so many of them have and how much they have gone in their lives. And oh my gosh! I finally realized I was sorrounded by very nice and smart people. It was really a very refreshing feeling to have the opportunity to reconnect and get to know them more this time. I am enjoying their friendships now. Many of us had some great friendships back then but somehow we just let it slip away. Back then there was no text messaging and no email. After more than two decades had passed, one thing happened to me as I bet it did to many. I heared many people at reunions said that they genuinely wanted to stay in touch. I just hope that now that the reunion was over, everybody will get caught right back up in their normal life, but those good intentions won't be forgotten.

I for one would really like to resurrect old friendships with many MSUans whom I've known for 20+ years, and for many of them I talked to for the first time last weekend, I hope to start brand new friendships. I hope that by the time our next reunion comes (2011 in Chicago, Illinois), I'll be able to proudly say that I have a great many new friends that I've stayed in touch with these past two years.

This reunion was just a beginning for all MSUans not only in the US but throughout the world. We all know we have a big task at hand--to help the young ones back home who are poor but deserving to achieve their highest potential and continue setting the standard of excellence both in our personal & professional life and service to our fellowmen and our country for which the universtiy stands for.

some of the reunion photos I took:

Miss Batch 80's dancing the Philippine national dance called Tinikling:

Native costume night:

Cowboy Night:
the batch 80's:
Batch 80's ladies with then AVP-Ruffy Ignacio:
Tess is my kababayan & batchmate from Gensan who came here just to attend the reunion:
Contestants for Mr. & Ms. MSU e!Village Int'l, hahaha!:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The MSU Houston, Texas Reunion 2009

I am here in Houston, Texas for my college reunion. I graduated from Mindanao State University (MSU)in the Philippines. I am posting this to highlight my attendance to this gathering.

To give you an idea of MSU,I copied this from the MSU official website:

"Created under RA 1387 as amended through authorship of Senator Domocao A. Alonto, the Mindanao State University was established in Marawi City on September 1, 1961. Dr. Antonio Isidro, former Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of the Philippines, was its founder and first president.

Formal classes opened in June 1962 with 282 students, 19 faculty members and staff, and three core colleges: Community Development, Liberal Arts and Education.

After more than three decades of operation, the University has grown into a multi-campus University System with seventeen colleges and degree-granting units in the Marawi campus alone.

The Marawi campus enjoys a triple-center distinction as the Regional Science Training Center, the Regional Carabao Center and one of the country’s Centers of Excellence in Teacher Education. The University has also opened itself to the outside world through her cooperative linkages with major universities of Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. When it comes to the educational dimension of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), MSU is among the leaders of the Philippine universities.

There are six other autonomous campuses with different thrusts distributed in strategic locations throughout Mindanao: MSU IIT, MSU General Santos, MSU Sulu, MSU Maguindanao, MSU Naawan and MSU Tawi-Tawi. Under the propulsion of a unique and noble mission, each campus is making strides towards excellence."

MSU is the only university in the Philippines with a special mandate of integrating the cultural communities into the maintream of the nation's socio-cultural and political life by providing them with oppurtunities for quality and relevant public education for their self development and providing trained manpower skills and technical know-how for the economic development of the Mindanao, Sulu (Basilan and Tawi-Tawi) and Palawan region.

In the Philippines and anywhere in the world you will find MSUans on top of their chosen fields, either as an enterpreneur, educator, scientist, engineer, doctor, etc. Every year, there are MSUan board topnotchers especially in the engineering and education field. One of my batchmates was Top 1 in the Mechanical engineering board.

So, what is an MSUan? MSUan is the term for a student or alumnus of Mindanao State University.

I couldn't find the exact words that would aptly describe the coined term. One could go about this on a general scale or on a more personal approach. So I consider a way to tackle this and decided to make it something personal but with a global relevance.

On that note, I chose to pen something that echoes my distinct voice, experiences, and ideals as an MSUan. And to simplify it even further I'm going to approach it acrostically.

M - Mindanao. Although not all of us are Mindanao natives, once you have stayed in MSU, you get to imbibe the culture, the mindset, and the pride of the Mindanaons. MSU is a melting pot of Mindanao culture. It boasts of a studentry, faculty, and staff as diverse as the peoples of the world. Wherever an MSUan goes, he bears the emblem, sojourns and sufferings of Mindanao in his heart. He is an advocate for Mindanao at heart, no matter where he may be or what his circumstances are.

S - State as in government. An MSUan has firm ideals regarding the government, and these ideals are not founded on what the government can do for him but rather on what God can do for him and his government, as well as what he can do for God and his government. 'S' is also for the spirit that drives an MSUan to endeavor for progress and development, to pursue his dreams and goals, and to scale to greater heights in every life's facet.

U - University that is like no other to every MSUan. With its distinct academic culture and excellence. Huge portions of MSU students are scholars and provided the whole world with highly valuable manpower that has made significant contributions to the global workforce. Therefore, 'U' also refers to the entire universe out there that MSUans have conquered. Almost every country in the world harbors Filipino professionals and among these Filipinos, you're most likely to find an MSUan.

Our first University President, Dr. Isidro once said: "Ideas are movers of the world ... The capacity to develop good ideas as well as the power to transalate them to reality ... these are the hallmarks of a true MSUan. " The main puropose of these Houston Reunion 2009 is to gather MSUan from all over the US to foster closer relationship among alumni and gather ideas and formulate plans on how we can give back to our Alma Mater. The question posed for everyone is "HOW YOU WOULD LIKE TO REACH OUT AND LEAVE A MARK FOR MINDANAO STATE UNIVERSITY?" and ponder on this "Every little act of unselfish volunteerism by every MSUan for Mindanao State University will surely lead to better and safe learning, living and working environment at our dear Alma mater and the surrounding communities, and better, united and stronger MSUans worldwide." I am sure this is going to be a sharing and gathering of ideas and movers of different expertise. The seed will be planted on the grounds of our Dear MSU, but when they bear fruits, they will be harvested all over Mindanao, the Philippines and hopefully the world. After 22 years I will be able to see friends, dormmates, classmates & schoolmates again. I am going to dinner with fellow alumni tonight and I am looking forward to capturing challenging but happy memories of campus life...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Last Minute Rambling

It was a lovely day for a drive through the field of thoughts, my car was speeding through the Interstate highway & through the countryside. Beautiful scenery was a blur through the windows and thoughts swirled around the cars, bouncing off each other, new ones appearing at every bend. Such a fast lane in the road of life!

But then, one glance away and the car is lost. The thoughts are gone and one cannot remember the beauty of any they had just seen. A glimpse of one but then its gone. The frustration is overwhelming, with a longing to just remember those thoughts & memories one could see seconds before. A hope to recover when the road slows us down.

This is a once in a while display when fighting seems futile. An often lost train and often scattered thoughts. Some roads lead to nowhere, do they not?

Unpredictable, exasperating, some things are really frustrating!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Thoughts on Philippine Independence Day

It is 111th Independence Day today in my beloved Philippines.

Some are asking why are we celebrating Independence Day on June 12 when it was in July 4, 1946 that the US recognized our independence by virtue of the Treaty of Manila. As far as I can remember from my History class, it was observed every 4th of July in the Philippines until President Diosdado Macapagal signed Republic Act no. 4166 into law on August 4, 1964, designating June 12 (which had been previously observed as Flag Day) as the country’s Independence Day.

What is the significance of celebrating our independence day every year. Have we ever ask ourselves if we really are independent in the truest sence of the word? Why is it that most of us think that beauty means fair skin, blonde hair, blue eyes; being classy means Gucci, D&G, YSL and hot wheels means BMW, Benz, Ford, GMC.. Basically we desire to be Americans. Some Filipino parents prepares a grand party when a daughter is engaged to a foreigner. We patronize imported products instead of buying Filipino-made. Even old Filipino values had been thrown into the dustbin because we follow other culture. My point is, where is our identity as Filipinos? We may have been once a colony of Spanish & Americans but we are still Filipinos, we are not them and we will never be them. What works for them does not mean it will be good for us too. We have so many values that are endearing and are worth keeping like respect for our elders, close family ties, care for our olds and many more. National identity cannot be changed. If we insist on changing it, we will just end up being frustrated. For me, we should try to keep & perpetuate our positive values and get rid only of the negatives.

We should instead appreciate being Filipino. We should be proud of our own identity. There burns a fire in us that no other nation has, I think we are just not aware of it. If we Filipinos don't love our country, who will?

Thoughts to ponder especially today...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Photography

Photography is one of my hobbies. It has become a passion for me and I really love taking photos. It is easy to say that my life is full of photography talk.

About 3 years ago, when I bought my first expensive digital camera the sales assistant told me that it had different functions and capabilities like ‘metering modes’, 15 megapixels, shutter speed of up to 3200, white balance, etc... At the time I was too embarrassed to ask what that means and bought the camera without knowing. I had this $3300 (body alone) camera and all I could do was use the automatic function. It was my gift to myself & I just want to have an expensive camera even if I was not using its full potential,hahaha!. It took me a while studying the manual and reading online tutorial to work it out but once I did I realized that it was really an amazing camera. Then just recently, I bought a new Model with a much higher megapixel and with HD video. I had been doing some US travels and planning to do some intensive world travels in the future that I have thought of really getting serious in photography. So I enrolled in a digital photography class for SLR camera. I just finished my basic class last saturday.

I’m still learning about the different functions of my camera and how to effectively use them, however I do know that since venturing a little more out of ‘Auto’ and experimenting with the different techniques that my photography will improve a lot.

Here I post some of the photos I took capturing the serenity of nature, beauty & life around me--child's smile,rivers, animals, trees, flowers, old towns, old churches. Not exactly high quality photography, but I already used techniques in getting a decent photos. Hopefully my readers will enjoy looking at it.
Click on the photo for a much larger view.