Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year, New Beginning!

 Today is the last day of 2010 and it's time of year when I reflect on the past year and look to the year ahead. I reflect on what I could have done better and remind myself of my accomplishments at the same time.  It's usually easier to see what wasn't right than what was, isn't it? I am continuously working on that and I challenge you to, also...

The year 2010 has been a great year for me. Many great things happened in my life this year and although there had been some downs, life overall has been good. I couldn't complain. As this year comes to an end tonight, I bade goodbye to the past with gratitude and I am welcoming the new year 2011 with so much hope for a new beginning, new opportunities and new life to look forward to.

What great things have you done in 2010? What insights did you gain? What new experiences taught you something? How will you use them to make 2011 different and much better than 2010? I can't wait to hear!

A blessed and a very Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Lesson Worth A $1000

With the world technolgy now available to us, we can connect to family and friends anywhere in the world and update them of what's happening to us on the other side of the globe. In seconds we can download photos online and share it with our love ones wherever they are in this planet. To me the most positive thing about being in the this social network is I was able to reconnect with friends, classmates and relatives that I haven't had any contact for many, many years.

But while there are great things that these networks have brought into our lives, there are also risks and dangers that come with it. The clear and present dangers associated with social networking include data theft and virus.

The most prevalent danger though often involves online predators who claim to be someone that they are not. I will tell you the story how my friend Judy lost her $1000 in less than 10 minutes on Christmas day because of these predators.

I've met Judy more than two years ago when we were introduced to each other by my friend Monica. She is a very nice, caring, bubbly soul that has a big heart. To make the story short, we became good friends. I haven't seen her for more than 3 months and last January 26, we ran into each other in our favorite nail salon. And she told me how they were robbed of one grand on Christmas day. On December 25 at about noon time, their son, a marine and is base in San Diego, California called them that he was in New York with some friends but  got into trouble and is in jail and needed to post a $1000 bail so he could go out of jail or else he would be in trouble with the Marines. They heard him talking to a cop trying to make arrangements for his bail. He told them that he will give the phone to the cop in charge of his case so they could talk to him. The cop told them all the details about their son's arrest. He told them the place where the incident took place and he gave them his name. Because Judy and Marvin (her husband), a retired colonel in the US Airforce were so upset and in shock for what allegedly happened to their son, they asked the cop how they could bail the son out because they didn't want him to sleep in jail. The cop gave them the bank account number where they could send the money. And while Marvin was still on the phone talking to their son, Judy was already transferring $1000 online. They told their son that the money was already sent and they asked him to check with the cop to verify. But the son hanged up the phone and when they tried to call again, they could not contact the number anymore. Only then they realized that there was something wrong. So they tried calling the Marine base in San Diego to check their son.  Of course he's there and never left the base. Their one grand is gone. It turned out that the "son" who called them was someone who had their information taken from her social network page. I really feel sorry for Marvin and Judy because they are nice people. But this is a very classic example of predators using our online information. Judy and Marvin figured out that these bad guys got their information from Judy's facebook account where she has all the family pictures and personal details like names, schools, b-days and addresses. Right after that incident, she edited her privacy settings. But she paid a high price for that lesson.

I understand how it feels to hear that one of our family members or anybody close to us is in trouble and desperately needs our immediate help. But we also need to verify the situation first before sending money or any kind of help. It won't take so much time to do it. It's just a phone call away. These bad guys might be smarter than most of us, but with awareness and calmness on our part will save us a lot of heartbreak.

I'm really grateful to somebody who is an expert in security who keeps reminding me and warned me about divulging my personal information online. As he said, there are predators, pedophiles, and all kinds of bad people and criminals just waiting to have a chance to get our information and before we knew it, our bank account is empty and our family members like our daughters, sisters, brothers are in danger just because of that information we released online. By expanding the information we are placing on social web sites, we are making the job of social engineering easier for the bad guys.

As we can see, the world is getting high tech, and the bad guys are not standing still and let the world pass them by. They are keeping up and as I said, they are smarter than most of us too.

Just use common sense and listen to your inner voice. Learn to know when something doesn't feel right about the conversation or action taking place.

By being aware of our cyber surroundings and who we are talking to, we can minimize the possibility to be their victim. And hopefully, we should be able to still enjoy social networking.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Meaning Of Christmas To Me

It's Christmas Eve. The girls and I just attended the 10:30PM Mass and the Sacred Heart Parish church was overflowing with people. There were 4 Masses and all the previous Masses were also full packed with church goers. The church's parking lot was full so we had to park one block away. Our Pastor, Fr. Mike gave a very good homily. The beginning of his homily was a big question "What does Christmas mean to you?" that caught everyone including me, not prepared to answer.

After being so busy with mundane things this past week, I didn't get the time to really reflect on what this season mean to me. I've been wanting to write down my thoughts and reflection but aside from being so caught up with work, I also got crazy finding gifts for everyone and making sure it gets to me before Christmas. When I finally had time for myself, I'm already too tired to do other things or write down my thoughts... And tonight, after hearing the homily I finally had this put up together.

Christmas to me is about nostalgia of forgetting and reminding at the same time. It's paradoxical as I see it in the perspective of things. Fights are forgotten, old ties are renewed, new acquaintances are introduced, new wishes are made.

Friends and families---meet from different corners of the world in a gathering of kindred spirits brought together as a testament to life itself.

Christmas is the portrait of love, peace and forgiveness. A togetherness that is often taken for granted because of our other priorities. It's the little things and moments of time honored tradition like Christmas--that we need more than ever before to remind us of our roots, our souls and our greater purpose in life.

Christmas is all about love, peace, joy, gifts and jingles of Christmas is coming to town. Of all the good that is inside of us that we tend to ignore and the all-forgiving innocence of wishing dear ones Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As for me I don't expect any gift. I already have mine---When Jesus was born in the little town of Bethlehem to save me from my sins.

Wherever you are in the world, may you feel the spirit that this holiday season brings-- love, peace and joy.
Big, small, near or far; my all our dreams come true. That, simply is the meaning of Christmas to me.

Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year to you all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Here She Comes

Today, my youngest daughter's birthday. While thinking about how I can make this day special for her, I sit and wonder just how the years have flown by so quickly. I still remember her first sight, her first smile, her first word, her first step. 

I want to tell her lots of things. How proud I am of her. How special she is. How she has blossomed into a beautiful and elegant young woman.

I want to tell her that her journey is still a long ways to go. That the world can sometimes be cruel, but she has a family that loves her, supporting her and always on her side. That she needs to keep her head up and have enough confidence and wisdom to respect the choices she makes. That in this life, there are always choices, and that it is these choices that define us, build our character and make us who we are. I want to tell her that it's alright to make mistakes. That learning lessons from mistakes can make her a better person. And if we live life afraid of being wrong, or making a mistake, we will never grow.

Rhea doesn't know why I see 'me' in her; her action, her choices when it comes to fashions and jewelries, her thinking, stubbornness, strong willed, kindness so similar. But she's different in so many ways too.

She doesn't know that from her I learned about patience and forgiveness, as she stretched my tolerance with the sulky attitude as a teenage girl. I want her to always know that whatever she chose to become, I will always feel proud of her simply because she has the key to my heart forever.

To my lovely daughter Rhea, I just have this to say. You're loved for being you and you're wished a world of happiness today and all year through.

Have a very Happy Birthday on your special day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

In The Silence Of My Heart


I love silence. often do my writing when it is quiet and I am all alone with my thoughts. My mind is like a river continuously flowing when spent in silence, calm and harmony.

From the depths of my solitude, so many thoughts finally have a chance to bubble up. Thoughts and feelings that are not able to come in the open amidst the clatter at work and everyday life.

Out of this silence, I heard my heart's whispering...I miss my family in Gensan. My mother is going through a major operation of both eyes today. The last time we talked,  she sounded so scared to go through operation. I think she's scared of the possibility that she might not be able to see again aside from other complications that the doctors told her. She was supposed to be operated last month but her blood pressure was high so her doctors have to wait for her blood pressure to get normal before they could proceed with the process.  I feel sad that I am not there in this scary moment in her life. She just turned 73 last November 18 and the older she gets, the more she makes me feel that she needed her children to be near her if not around her. She would always brand me as being the vagabond among her children. It breaks my heart every time she tells me that they only have few years left in this life and yet I chose to live 13,000 miles away from them. I love my family so dearly. And it is hard to be separated from them. But our parents taught us early in life to be free and independent. And they have taught really well.

All of this takes me to today. I miss the warmth and love of my big family. I miss the camaraderie of my friends. I miss baby Arielle and I wish I could watch her learn new things while growing up. I miss my Bingo Bango golf buddies. I miss kinilaw na tuna. I miss manggang hilaw with bagoong. I miss Durian. I miss the sun and the beach...

Yes, I miss the feeling of familiarity and everything about the city of my birth. But my life is here in the US now. I am happy and blessed to be here and there's nowhere in the world that I wanna be than where I am right now.

So confusing to be sad and happy at the same time. I know I will overcome. I know I am not alone. And today I woke up with joy in my heart but still missing home.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Finding Gifts

It's so amazing that it is just 38 days from now before Christmas. It seems like just yesterday when the girls and I put up that Christmas tree and filled the house with Christmas decor and Christmas lights.

And for Filipinos, no matter where we are in the world, one of the most exciting parts of Christmas celebrations is the giving and receiving gifts to and from family and friends.

Although I already have my list of gifts as early as 2 months ago, I have not started buying them yet. And I plan to do most of my shopping on the internet because I don't really have time to go to stores or malls. I found this search engine on the net that opens to the world of limitless shopping.  Their website has been very helpful to me all these times. Through them you can find anything that you are looking for because they include all retailers in the web, Yes, I said all,including those that do not pay for inclusion.

Shopping on the internet is a great place to find anything under the sun. And because you have unlimited number of choices available to you, it's guaranteed that you can find what you are looking for at the price that you can be comfortable with, aside from the fact that you save time and money.

Sometimes finding the perfect present for our love ones can be a hard task but the internet has opened an unlimited access to us in finding that right gift and also one that is unique. I used to get frantic when I haven't done my Chistmas shopping yet this time of the year. Not anymore. I know I will have no problem in finding the gifts I have on my lists. All I need is a couple of hours to browse the internet and I will find the best deal there is...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Philippines, The Lost Garden Of Eden

To say that the Philippines is a beautiful country is an understatement. It is an amazing tropical jewel of the East and blessed by God with so many beautiful things. Philippines have the world's smallest volcano (Taal Volcano), smallest primate (tarsier) and one of the world's most beautiful beach (Boracay). 

Philippines is composed of 7,107 Islands and is the only Southeast Asian Nation to share no land boundary with it's neighboring countries. Before the Spanish colonial era our country was collectively known as MAHARLIKA, an old Malay language which means "Noble Creation". Philippines has been the criss-cross path of all the Explorers way back centuries ago. 

God really blessed the Philippines with so many breathtaking beauties from the mountains, land, sea and its people. Filipinos are known to be extremely friendly and hospitable. You will feel the warmth and welcoming attitude of the people wherever you go. Through these few photos, it is my honor to show you and tour you to "The Lost Garden of Eden: The Pearl of the Orient."

Enjoy!


Boracay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the World

Camiguin

Pinatubo crater lake


Palawan

Banaue Rice Terraces- Ifugao, Philippines
the 8th wonder of the world


Taal Lake and Volcano-the smallest volcano in the world



Almost perfect cone of Mayon Volcano

Puerto Galera, Mindoro

Hundred Islands, Pangasinan

Tarsier, the smallest primate in the world


The Chocolate Hills in Bohol, 1,776 hills all in all

Siargao Island, the surfing capital of the Philippines

Ortigas Center by night


 Makati-the Manhattan of the Philippines


Monday, November 1, 2010

Just Being Aware

October is Cancer Awareness month. Although it is already November, I thought of sharing this item forwarded to all members of my Alumni's website...Everyday, every month and every year we should be aware of this disease that's affecting so many women all over the world. One way of doing this is by sharing any information, tips or knowledge we get to as much people as we can..I have 4 very close friends who are breast cancer survivors and 2 who died from it.

WHY WOMEN IN CHINA DO NOT GET BREAST CANCER


By Prof. Jane Plant, PhD, CBE

I had no alternative but to die or to try to find a cure for myself. I am a scientist - surely there was a rational explanation for this cruel illness that affects one in 12 women in the UK ?

I had suffered the loss of one breast, and undergone radiotherapy. I was now receiving painful chemotherapy, and had been seen by some of the country's most eminent specialists. But, deep down, I felt certain I was facing death. I had a loving husband, a beautiful home and two young children to care for. I desperately wanted to live.

Fortunately, this desire drove me to unearth the facts, some of which were known only to a handful of scientists at the time.

Anyone who has come into contact with breast cancer will know that certain risk factors - such as increasing age, early onset of womanhood, late onset of menopause and a family history of breast cancer - are completely out of our control. But there are many risk factors, which we can control easily.

These "controllable" risk factors readily translate into simple changes that we can all make in our day-to-day lives to help prevent or treat breast cancer. My message is that even advanced breast cancer can be overcome because I have done it.

The first clue to understanding what was promoting my breast cancer came when my husband Peter, who was also a scientist, arrived back from working in China while I was being plugged in for a chemotherapy session.

He had brought with him cards and letters, as well as some amazing herbal suppositories, sent by my friends and science colleagues in China .

The suppositories were sent to me as a cure for breast cancer. Despite the awfulness of the situation, we both had a good belly laugh, and I remember saying that this was the treatment for breast cancer in China , then it was little wonder that Chinese women avoided getting the disease.

Those words echoed in my mind.

Why didn't Chinese women in China get breast cancer?

I had collaborated once with Chinese colleagues on a study of links between soil chemistry and disease, and I remembered some of the statistics.

The disease was virtually non-existent throughout the whole country Only one in 10,000 women in China will die from it, compared to that terrible figure of one in 12 in Britain and the even grimmer average of one in 10 across most Western countries.

It is not just a matter of China being a more rural country, with less urban pollution. In highly urbanized Hong Kong , the rate rises to 34 women in every 10,000 but still puts the West to shame.

The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have similar rates. And remember, both cities were attacked withnuclear weapons, so in addition to the usual pollution-related cancers, one would also expect to find some radiation-related cases, too.

The conclusion we can draw from these statistics strikes you with some force. If a Western woman were to move to industrialized, irradiated Hiroshima , she would slash her risk of contracting breast cancer by half. Obviously this is absurd. It seemed obvious to me that some lifestyle factor not related to pollution, urbanization or the environment is seriously increasing the Western woman's chance of contracting breast cancer.

I then discovered that whatever causes the huge differences in breast cancer rates between oriental and Western countries, it isn't genetic.

Scientific research showed that when Chinese or Japanese people move to the West, within one or two generations their rates of breast cancer approach those of their host community.

The same thing happens when oriental people adopt a completely Western lifestyle in Hong Kong . In fact, the slang name for breast cancer in China translates as 'Rich Woman's Disease' This is because, in China , only the better off can afford to eat what is termed ' Hong Kong food'.

The Chinese describe all Western food, including everything from ice cream and chocolate bars to spaghetti and feta cheese, as "Hong Kong food", because of its availability in the former British colony and its scarcity, in the past, in mainland China .

So it made perfect sense to me that whatever was causing my breast cancer and the shockingly high incidence in this country generally, it was almost certainly something to do with our better-off, middle-class, Western lifestyle.

There is an important point for men here, too. I have observed in my research that much of the data about prostate cancer leads to similar conclusions.

According to figures from the World Health Organization, the number of men contracting prostate cancer in rural China is negligible, only 0.5 men in every 100,000. In England , Scotland and Wales , however, this figure is 70 times higher. Like breast cancer, it is a middle-class disease that primarily attacks the wealthier and higher socio-economic groups, those that can afford to eat rich foods.

I remember saying to my husband, "Come on Peter, you have just come back from China . What is it about the Chinese way of life that is so different?"

Why don't they get breast cancer?'

We decided to utilize our joint scientific backgrounds and approach it logically.

We examined scientific data that pointed us in the general direction of fats in diets.

Researchers had discovered in the 1980s that only l4% of calories in the average Chinese diet were from fat, compared to almost 36% in the West.

But the diet I had been living on for years before I contracted breast cancer was very low in fat and high in fibre.

Besides, I knew as a scientist that fat intake in adults has not been shown to increase risk for breast cancer in most investigations that have followed large groups of women for up to a dozen years.

Then one day something rather special happened. Peter and I have worked together so closely over the years that I am not sure which one of us first said: "The Chinese don't eat dairy produce!"

It is hard to explain to a non-scientist the sudden mental and emotional 'buzz' you get when you know you have had an important insight. It's as if you have had a lot of pieces of a jigsaw in your mind, and suddenly, in a few seconds, they all fall into place and the whole picture is clear.

Suddenly I recalled how many Chinese people were physically unable to tolerate milk, how the Chinese people I had worked with had always said that milk was only for babies, and how one of my close friends, who is of Chinese origin, always politely turned down the cheese course at dinner parties.

I knew of no Chinese people who lived a traditional Chinese life who ever used cow or other dairy food to feed their babies. The tradition was to use a wet nurse but never, ever, dairy products.

Culturally, the Chinese find our Western preoccupation with milk and milk products very strange. I remember entertaining a large delegation of Chinese scientists shortly after the ending of the Cultural Revolution in the 1980s.

On advice from the Foreign Office, we had asked the caterer to provide a pudding that contained a lot of ice cream. After inquiring what the pudding consisted of, all of the Chinese, including their interpreter, politely but firmly refused to eat it, and they could not be persuaded to change their minds.

At the time we were all delighted and ate extra portions!

Milk, I discovered, is one of the most common causes of food allergies . Over 70% of the world's population are unable to digest the milk sugar, lactose, which has led nutritionists to believe that this is the normal condition for adults, not some sort of deficiency. Perhaps nature is trying to tell us that we are eating the wrong food.

Before I had breast cancer for the first time, I had eaten a lot of dairy produce, such as skimmed milk, low-fat cheese and yogurt. I had used it as my main source of protein. I also ate cheap but lean minced beef, which I now realized was probably often ground-up dairy cow.

In order to cope with the chemotherapy I received for my fifth case of cancer, I had been eating organic yogurts as a way of helping my digestive tract to recover and repopulate my gut with 'good' bacteria.

Recently, I discovered that way back in 1989 yogurt had been implicated in ovarian cancer. Dr Daniel Cramer of Harvard University studied hundreds of women with ovarian cancer, and had them record in detail what they normally ate. Wish I'd been made aware of his findings when he had first discovered them.

Following Peter's and my insight into the Chinese diet, I decided to give up not just yogurt but all dairy produce immediately. Cheese, butter, milk and yogurt and anything else that contained dairy produce - it went down the sink or in the rubbish.

It is surprising how many products, including commercial soups, biscuits and cakes, contain some form of dairy produce. Even many proprietary brands of margarine marketed as soya, sunflower or olive oil spreads can contain dairy produce

.I therefore became an avid reader of the small print on food labels.

Up to this point, I had been steadfastly measuring the progress of my fifth cancerous lump with callipers and plotting the results. Despite all the encouraging comments and positive feedback from my doctors and nurses, my own precise observations told me the bitter truth.

My first chemotherapy sessions had produced no effect - the lump was still the same size.

Then I eliminated dairy products. Within days, the lump started to shrink

.About two weeks after my second chemotherapy session and one week after giving up dairy produce, the lump in my neck started to itch. Then it began to soften and to reduce in size. The line on the graph, which had shown no change, was now pointing downwards as the tumour got smaller and smaller.

And, very significantly, I noted that instead of declining exponentially (a graceful curve) as cancer is meant to do, the tumour's decrease in size was plotted on a straight line heading off the bottom of the graph, indicating a cure, not suppression (or remission) of the tumour.

One Saturday afternoon after about six weeks of excluding all dairy produce from my diet, I practised an hour of meditation then felt for what was left of the lump. I couldn't find it. Yet I was very experienced at detecting cancerous lumps - I had discovered all five cancers on my own. I went downstairs and asked my husband to feel my neck. He could not find any trace of the lump either.

On the following Thursday I was due to be seen by my cancer specialist at Charing Cross Hospital in London . He examined me thoroughly, especially my neck where the tumour had been. He was initially bemused and then delighted as he said, "I cannot find it." None of my doctors, it appeared, had expected someone with my type and stage of cancer (which had clearly spread to the lymph system) to survive, let alone be so hale and hearty.

My specialist was as overjoyed as I was. When I first discussed my ideas with him he was understandably sceptical. But I understand that he now uses maps showing cancer mortality in China in his lectures, and recommends a non-dairy diet to his cancer patients.

I now believe that the link between dairy produce and breast cancer is similar to the link between smoking and lung cancer. I believe that identifying the link between breast cancer and dairy produce, and then developing a diet specifically targeted at maintaining the health of my breast and hormone system, cured me.

It was difficult for me, as it may be for you, to accept that a substance as 'natural' as milk might have such ominous health implications. But I am a living proof that it works and, starting from tomorrow, I shall reveal the secrets of my revolutionary action plan.

Extracted from Your Life in Your Hands, by Professor Jane Plan

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Beloved Mindanao

I talked to my mother this morning on the phone. And a disturbing news that she told me made me worry about the safety of my brother and made me write this post. My brother works for the government but he is also a correspondent of a national newspaper. He is a journalist and whenever he touches very sensitive issues, he gets death threats and other kinds of harassment, putting his life in danger. I always warned him to slow down, but being a strong willed and principled person that he is, he will not close his eyes won't keep his mouth shut and pretend that nothing is happening. In one of the interviews with him that I saw on Youtube, he said that nothing can stop him from doing his job. Not even death. This time, he is getting threats again in connection with the massacre of 57 people including 34 journalist last November 23, 2009 in Maguindanao. He escaped the gruesome massacre because he and his two other companions had to go back to their hotel to get some personal stuffs they forgot, read his story in this link: http://technology.inquirer.net/infotech/infotech/view/20091124-238100/Inquirer-man-recounts-harrowing-tales-of-survival

Being born and raised in Mindanao and spent many summers in the once hot spot towns of Malapatan and Alabel in the 70's, we have seen the face of conflict and war. Every night, we would tremble in fear whenever we noticed NPA's (New People's Army, an armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines) walking in our yard. They never bother us but it was so scary. I still remember in 1971 while spending our summer vacation in my parents farm in Alabel, Sarangani Province when one night we woke up to see houses in Barrio Pag-asa burned by Bangsa Moro. We were all scared to death. I was just 8 year old then but the images are still very vivid to me till now. I saw the houses burning and it felt like I was looking at the hell on earth. I remember my whole body was shaking, I could not even talk or walk. We left our home as fast as we could, my parents taking nothing but 1 attache case of my father where all the important documents like birth certificates and bank books were kept.We slept in the middle of coconut plantation that night & and we were so scared the whole time, thinking that our home would be the next to be burned. We were all grateful to see the sun that next morning. We've learned that the Bangsa Moro left but they promised to be back anytime soon. We could not leave the farm and go back to Gensan because there had been ambush incidents in the only 2 roads of the town that leads to the city. So my father dug a hole in the middle of the bushes and every evening when it's  dark, we would go to that bunker and spend the night there. It was a 12x8 ft wide and 5 ft deep hole for a family of 9. Our ordeal ended after 3 days when the Phil. Army with the controversial "Ilaga" of commander Inday and Bukay came to secure the place. We right away went home to Gensan and we never went back to Alabel anymore until we were old enough and peace and order situation got much better and safe for us kids. That experience changed our lives forever.

Many years later, here is still my brother, fighting for his and his family's safety. Although many negotiations had been done between the government and the MILF and MNLF, I don't see an end yet to the conflict and chaos in the land of Promise for good. Lack of trust, hostilities, prejudices and other kinds of human drama prevented true peace and conflict free atmosphere to happen in the land of promise. On top of that is the presence of warlords and powerful political clans with private armies that sow fear and hostilities among people in some provinces.

Although big cities like Gensan, Davao and Cagayan De Oro have been peaceful for more than 30 years and developing tremendously in the last 10 years, there are still hot spots in Mindanao where people experience the horrors and abuses of the powerful. In the provinces of Sulu, Basilan, some parts of Zamboanga, Cotabato and Maguindanao peace and order situations are still unstable. I believe that peace as elusive as it may seem in these provinces, can only be achieved through collective efforts between the government and citizenry (both Christians and Muslims). And I believe it can be done. But both sides should really & genuinely work for it. The government should run after all these powerful political clans who most likely day in and day out are getting away with murders. They should not stop until the culprits are prosecuted. So much blood had been poured and so many lives had been sacrificed all in the name of freedom.

There are no victors in war, just victims. I hope that soon we will be able to see how far Mindanao as a whole can achieve if there is peace and security not only for the whole Mindanao, but for all who come and visit this beautiful island of Southern Philippines....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Filipina Non Grata

We Filipinos have an old saying that goes, "Ang taong hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan." A video that my friend shared in her facebook page made me write this post. It was about a certain woman who went to the bank's ATM to withdraw money. For whatever reason, she was not able to get cash so she called the bank's customer service. You would not believe what she said and how rude she was and how she bad mouthed the bank's employee who tried to explain and listened to her and her dirty mouth. It was so uncomfortable listening to her yelling at the top of her voice, coursing and swearing even after the manager talked to her and tried to help her. Her mouth is like a machine gun spitting bad words like f--k you and p-----g mo for about 9 minutes more or less...She implied that she is based abroad and she's in the Philippines for a vacation. 

It really aggravates me whenever I hear kababayan who becomes so arrogant, prejudiced, and ill mannered just because they've achieved something in life or they've been to other countries making them feel like they have the right to look down on others back home. I always believe that these people have such a low self esteem that looking down on others will make them feel good. They need the feeling of being superior to others to boost their self esteem. I feel sorry for them. Isn't it that having a good life, an education and having travelled to other countries suppose to make us even more refined, tempered and well mannered?  To experience and live a different way of life and interact with different cultures expand our perspective, thus making us more broad minded and more flexible. Good Manners and Right Conduct is one of the subjects taught in our schools as early as grade school. The values of respect for elders and being polite to all we come across regardless of their status in life are important Filipino values that our parents taught us in our growing up years. Lessons we learned while growing up stays with us, become part of who we are, no matter where we are in this world.  Obviously in this case, all the mediums that helped/formed us to become a good person didn't work in this woman. I am working in the customer service, and I feel for that bank staff. I admired him for not losing his poise and continued to be polite in spite of the uncivilized attitude of that woman. If he was one of my staffs, I would give him thumbs up, a pat on his shoulder and tell him to go take his break and get some fresh air after being suffocated by that nasty situation...But I will bet my last penny that she would not have done that here in the US. With the rants, discriminating and prejudiced words she said, she would be slapped with lawsuit left and right.

I just hope that there are not many of them in this world. They are not only a bad example to our young generation, but they are also making the life of other people even more challenging than what it already is ...

As a conclusion, I thought of another Filipino expression, something like a case of a fly who landed on the back of the carabao thinking that she is now bigger than the carabao... Hay Naku!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Beautiful SOCKSARGEN

I have always been inspired to write about the city of my birth General Santos City, Philippines. But this morning while I was looking at my brother's unique photo that caught attentions and created a discussion and interactions among us in his friend's lists and even those that just happened to see the picture, I became inspired to write about the whole SOCKSARGEN.

As a background, SOCKSARGEN is the acronym for the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City that comprises the whole region 12 in southern Mindanao. General Santos City or Gensan is highly urbanized and the economic, industrial and commercial center of the region. But Koronadal City which is the capital of South Cotabato is the center of regional government. It is where you can find almost all the regional offices.

I am not going to lecture about the geography and political aspects of the region or else I won't be able to write it in one blog. I am just going to show the rich culture, bountiful natural resources and tourist destinations that this place has to offer--from it's majestic Mountains, fertile valleys, rich marine life, crystal blue ocean waters, refreshing streams and rivers, friendly, unassuming and hospitable people.

crystal blue water of Sarangani Bay


Mt. Matutum in the early morning behind Dole Pineapple Plantation

part of the 30,000++sq/km Dole Pineapple Plantation in Polomolok, South Cotabato
This photo was taken from the green of hole #3 of Dole Kalsangi Golf Course, the most scenic and beautiful golf course in Mindanao
Sarangani Capitol in Alabel

Hotel Rooms of Isla Parilla, a tourist destination found in Alabel, Sarangani Province


Tarsier, the smallest primate in the world is not only found in Bohol. They are also in Maitum, Sarangani Province

Streams like this abounds in Maitum, Sarangani and Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan in South Cotabato

the white beaches in Gumasa- Glan, Sarangani Province

sunset in Gumasa


Very serene morning in Lake Sebu, the summer capital of Mindanao


The Seven Falls, Lake Sebu-Surallah, South Cotabato


zipping adventure in Lake Sebu, now the summer capital of Mindanao

yes, that's the World Boxing Champ Manny Pacquiao enjoying water tubing in Maitum, Sarangani Province



Sarangani Bay especially Tinoto in Maasim, Sarangani Province has rich coral and other marine life that divers like me will surely enjoy.


Kalilangan & Tuna Festival of Gensan, Tinalak of Koronadal, Pinyahan of Polomolok are among the many Festivals in SOCKSARGEN

Gensan is known as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines

Yes, SOCKSARGEN has everything to offer to anyone who is looking for pleasurable but not expensive ways to commune with nature or just to kick back and relax and enjoy the food, diversity and hospitality of this region. It also offers cultural aspects not only of Mindanao but of the Philippines as a country that many people simply do not get to see or experience. There is a wealth of festivals and local cultures that's becoming a come on to tourist every year.

It is also one place in the whole country where you can find Filipinos of different ethnic origin aside from its own indigenous people like the B'laans and the T'bolis. There is also big population of Tagalog, Kapampangan, Ilongo, Cebuano, Aklanon, Waray, Ilocano, etc. name it and you'll find them there.  It is so diverse, beautiful, refreshing and have such colorful cultures that it's easy to say this region is unique on it's own.