Wednesday, April 30, 2008


May 11 is Mother's Day. Again.

Since the Filipinos began following the American tradition of observing Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, and the other "economically exploitative" days of the months in a calendar year, so that Juan de la Cruz is transported to becoming John Cross, we have, in truth become abiders of the "cause for a celebration".

I will not cross the border of sarcasm, just for this featured blog. If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is economic exploitation of a holiday. Enough said.

Following the American tradition, many give honor to our Moms on this day. Most of us will probably treat her out for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Our way probably of saying "thanks for all the cooking you've done". Others will find a way through her back aches and joint pains and probably settle for a spa treatment. Then you can be innovative and cook lunch or dinner and take her to the movies. In whatever way you intend to celebrate Mother's Day this year, it will be a day that we said "thank you" for the many years you have toiled for us. In, however way we celebrate the occasion, as long as the meaning is poured through no matter how small the ways are, it's the thought that counts. And mothers will always understand that. They don't ask for anything in return at all (at least my mom doesn't).

I look back at the years that my mom has spent with me since my dad passed away. It's been 14 years since then and my mom, whom I fondly call Inang!, has lived with me.

The sudden passing away of my dad did not come easy for her.

Inang did not finish college and became engaged to marry my father at the age of 19. After 2 years, I was born. A married life wasn't easy, particularly with a young Chinese couple. My grandma (dad's mom) was a difficult woman to live with. There were many instances when she would literally find ways to make life difficult for Inang. During those difficult times, Inang would have only dad to lean on. Her family was hundreds of miles away and being a young mother with no background at all on home economics was a nightmare.

There was a time as a baby that I would cry in the middle of the night because I was hungry. Because she was young and poorly educated, she panicked and mixed condensed milk so that I could be calmed down. Only to have me rushed to the hospital because of vomiting and diarrhea in a few hours. And have my grandmother berate her for her "stupidity".

Dad was busy trying to make ends meet. And then my sister was born 1 1/2 years after me. With my dad's family hoarding the family finances, it was a difficult life for both my parents. Whatever business they ventured into became disastrous and would eventually end up with zero or a negative cash flow. And there were two babies to feed.

We had no money. We had no one else to turn. My mom and dad simply had each other. There would be nights when they would try to find a way to make sure that we had money for school, for a new pair of shoe at least once a year, a day in Roxas Boulevard watching the sunset and just being carefree, a small matchbox toy car if I got good grades, a Hello Kitty for my sister on special occasions, life was simple and we got by in spite of our financial difficulties.

Education was the center of my parents life. They always preached that it was the only worthwhile investment they could make on our life. My dad wanted me to be a doctor. Even though I was hesitant, my path was paved. I would see dad and Inang work day in and day out so that they could make ends meet. Provide food, shelter and clothing.

Ours was a family that started from nothing. My parents were young and innocent when they started out. It was not a marriage made in heaven. There were more moments of hell and when my dad eventually got sick, Inang had to carry a larger burden. She was the pillar that made the family stay together.

Inang had to learn to drive so that she could take my dad back and forth from the hospital for rehab therapy. She had to drive to Ongpin to get hopia for our small store so that she could sell them in the little corner of a supermarket. She eventually had to sell some of the gold that were her gifts during their marriage so that dad could have medicines for his illness and money for his therapy. Inang was, in simple terms, Superwoman.

But all that sacrifice ended with dad passing away 14 years ago. All that strength crumbled in one day. Inang became depressed and wanted to die. Her pillar of strength just gave in. And I saw the depression, the loneliness, the emptiness that zapped the very core of strength in Inang. There were many nights that she would cry alone or simply in a state of disbelief that in a day, dad would suddenly die.

Several years and many drugs (antidepressant, anxiolytics) and psychiatric help later, Inang is back on track. There would be difficult moments, particularly her fear that she would once more be alone. But she is coping up to the difficult days ahead but looks forward to the good times as a senior citizen.

Oh yes, even during dinner conversations, she would recall the best times with dad. She would recall the times when we were all growing up and candidly smile at the accomplishments both she and dad had achieved - her children. Given another life, she says she wouldn't trade her life today for anything more. There is contentment and happiness in her smiles, aches and dreams.

This blog article has been in the making for a week. I had to stop 4 times because I couldn't contain my emotions when I was writing it. It had to come deep within my heart and the tears spontaneously came as well.

I don't know how long Inang has with us. But this I know. I will always remember the stages of heaven, purgatory and hell that she had gone through. And as long as she can still enjoy life, I have made sure that I would make time to enjoy it with her.

That's why mother's day will always be special to me. Inang will always be the story of what a true mother is. And everyday will always be mother's day to me.

Thank you Inang.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Endorsers

There's a lot of buzz going around about "complementary alternative agents" in the market and milk and medicines being "endorsed" by personalities.

Kidney care, heart care, liver aid, a vitamin that will make you complete, follow-on milk formulas and milk for the child who's a picky eater, whitening soaps, beautifying agents whose bodies can't be touched except by a specific product, over-the-counter medicines and whole lot more.

"Endorsers" are popular personalities who are PAID millions to say something, even if they have NO KNOWLEDGE on that particular product. I have nothing against endorsers. We all need to make a living. What I cannot stand is the fact that the endorsers make the complicated look simple and the simpleton in the Filipino will swallow what they say - hook, like and sinker!

On "complementary alternative agents"

There is no scientific evidence that supports the fact that these can serve as substitute to current therapeutic agents that people take for their illnesses. It is understandable that the Filipinos are in search of cheaper, alternative drugs to treat or prevent disease. It is also deceitful of the herbal industry to claim that their drugs are "safe" or "safer" and that because it is "natural", is seemingly devoid of side effects. From a pharmacological standpoint, there is NO SUCH THING as a safe drug.

"Alternative agents" abound in the local market. A few years back, this million dollar business has become a billion dollar market. Thanks to the ENDORSERS and the gullible public.

The argument is that, since these herbal drugs are BFAD (Bureau of Food and Drug) approved, then they must be safe AND effective. Two issues that the public do not understand. Remember: Herbal preparations come into the market with an application with the food and drugs authorities as FOOD SUPPLEMENT and NOT as a DRUG. Hence, there is the imprimatur at the side of the box that says "No approved therapeutic claims". Second, because of the latter, these products are at best supplementary and many DO NOT have large clinical trials compared to standard therapy to support that claim.

In short, what may be effective for patient A, may not work for patient B, given a 50% therapeutic efficacy. Which makes "testimonial advertisements" defective and deceptive. In the long run, not only will patients end up spending more for failed therapy, but because the disease has run its complications, they end up with greater morbidity and mortality.

While there is nothing wrong with TRYING out an herbal SUPPLEMENT (read the word, SUPPLEMENT), the patients must disclose this to the health provider, who in turn must be knowledgeable about herbal drugs so that they can help the patient decide on the treatment plans for patients into homeopathic care. It is with caution therefore that these herbal supplements are recommended, because they have a great potential to cause drug-drug interaction with conventional medicines and can be fatal in the end.

On endorsers

Which goes to the second point of this blog.

Now that I have explained the pharmacological viewpoint above, it is ridiculous that the public believe in the "endorsers" claim. After all, these people are paid to be the megaphones of the company. Notice that their claims are only for the supposed effectiveness and use of the medication. There is NO WARNING on how patients should deal with the side effects, should one occur.

Who do you run after should you develop a fatal adverse reaction? To Juday, to Boy, to Edu? I bet my life they will always say, "I was only paid to say that".

With so many endorsements in advertising nowadays, I firmly believe that the Department of Health together with the Advertising organization of the Philippines must instill some moral aspect into what comes out as advertisement and put more teeth to the victory cry "Truth in Advertising". The public deserves nothing less.

On over-the-counter drugs

Drugs are considered OTC (over-the-counter) medications (read - paracetamol, mefenamic acid, carbocisteine, phenylpropanolamine/guiafenesis, ibuprofen, etc.) because they have been in the market for a long time and that the side effects to these drugs WHEN USED PROPERLY make it safe for patients to decide if symptomatic treatment of mild illnesses which can be managed at home, they are marketed as what is called OTCs. What makes these endorsers credible? They have no knowledge of drugs, they are not even medical professionals or have a degree that certifies them to render an expert opinion on drugs and the treatment of diseases.

As in all drugs, they are lethal when abused and not taken correctly. Do you know that Paracetamol or Acetaminophen is the number ONE cause of drug-induced hepatitis worldwide? Not that it's not safe when taken correctly, but when abused can lead to fatal consequences. The US FDA has warned the public regarding phenylpropanolamine and asked the companies to withdraw voluntarily the ingredient in cough and cold preparations. But the local industry is profit-oriented and will always reason why it should stay in the market. The lethal cocktail combination of gullibility, illiteracy and endorsements is fatal. This is what happens when laymen do not understand the miniscule information provided in a 30 second flick. Herbal preparations can cause drug interactions with OTCs and lead to a condition that results in six feet under the ground.

On other endorsements

Advertisers and companies will always claim that their advertisements are TO SELL a product. Whether it is for human consumption or for use. Milk formula preparations abound with various claims attached to it. There is the milk that is a substitute for the picky eater. Or the milk that will enhance brain development. Or the milk that will make a child a prodigy. All that crap! There is no iota of truth to these claims. Picky eaters are due to bad parenting. Having said that, I challenge the parent who claims otherwise. Eating is a habit that is learned! This has got to be the message ingrained amont those wo think otherwise. The American Academy of Pediatrics does NOT recommend electronic baby sitters (read - TV) to children during feeding time. They are distractors and can be detrimental to appropriate feeding practices. Why do you want to give the child a milk formula because he/she refuses to eat? In the Philippines, I see patients who are still on the bottle after 1 1/2 years old! I tell the parents to remove it and they frown on me, saying that the child will cry in the middle of the night and they can't sleep. Now isn't that really stupid? No child has died crying! All infants go through a "manipulative" stage. They are wittier, trying to find out who will give in to their whims and caprices. If they "win", both parties (parent and child) are losers in the end.

They become "picky eaters", malnourished (undernourished or obese), disciplinary problems later on, and end up losing all their "baby teeth" before they reach the age of 3. Then they refuse to feed solid food because of the dental caries and the vicious cycle is perpetuated.

Why do you want to spend more on milk formula which becomes more expensive because of the millions of pesos companies spend on endorsers (their professional fees range from 2-7Million pesos or about USD$50K USD$170K) for each contract depending on how long these commercials will last! Discipline is FREE! And discipline should be both FIRM and CONSISTENT. The extending family in the Philippine setting is a major factor in instilling discipline and the setback on this is taken advantage of by both the manufacturing companies, the advertisers and of course, the Endorsers!

And the demand by the public for Ascorbic Acid is crazy. One company sold P1.2Billion on vitamin C alone in 2007. Patients think they won't come down with an infection by taking vitamin C! If this is true, why not just buy oranges or calamansi? Or the vitamin preparations that claim that patients "grow" taller if they are on a vitamin that contains "chlorella growth factor". Growth factors don't work and growth hormones are not absorbed orally. They have to be given by injection to work. Let's get real, look at your parents and lineage. It's genetic my dear! Growth is based on the quality of food you eat not the vitamin supplements you give.

Yes, vitamins stimulate the growth - of the pharmaceutical industry!

For the information of the public, the Department of Health, Bureau of Food and Drugs has issued Circular 2008-004 on March 28, 2008, reminding the public on claims of FOOD SUPPLEMENTS.

DOH-BFAD circular 2008-004

"Ang mga food supplements ay HINDI nakakagamot ng anumang sakit"

Dahil sa dumaraming bilang ng mga "food supplements" sa pamilihan at sa mga patalastas o mga patutoo tungkol sa mga diumano'y epektong medikal ng mga ito, mahigpit na pinapayuhan ang publiko na ang mga produktong ito ay nagbibigay lamang ng karagdagan nutrisyon at walang pakikinabangang medikal o sa madaling salita, ANG MGA ITO AY HINDI NAKAKAGAMOT. Walang sapat ng siyantipikong pag-aaral o katibayan na makapagpapatunay na ang mga ito ay makapagpapagaling ng isang partikular na sakit o karamdaman.

Ang publiko ay pinapayuhan na ang pag-inom o paggamit ng "food supplements" bilang kapalit ng regular ng medikasyon para sa isang karamdaman ay hindi tamang gawi at maaaring makapagdulot pa ng mas malubhang kumplikasyon o karamdaman.

Ang paalalang ito ay inilathala upang pangalagaan ang kalusugan at kaligtasan ng publiko.

Now that the health authorities have spoken, time for the advertising sector to take a moral responsibility on the issue.

The public has been warned.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Judgment day - the VSMMC scandal

I thought I was just going to keep quite about the whole issue.

But then Monsignor Achilles Dakay, spokesperson for the Archdiocese from Cebu had to open his big mouth and on live radio gave his opinion regarding the issue surrounding the gay patient who had a body spray cannister shoved up his rectum during sex. It was the opinion of Dakay that it was the "fault" of the gay guy who engaged in "indecent acts" that resulted in the gay guy's "unfortunate incident" at the hospital and that the "media and people" had lost focus on the issue. Dakay had passed judgment that the gay florist was initially to blame for all this! I don't know how many of you have seen the UNEDITED version of the video taken at the operating room of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, a government hospital in Cebu, south of the Philippines.

Click and paste on to the link at

After watching this complete version, I fell off my chair and really felt bad over the gay florist, who apparently had picked up a callboy for a one night stand. Never mind the sordid details in between December 31, 2007 and January 2, 2008.

Granted that the sexual act was not within the purview and dictum of the Catholic faith, the gay guy may not have been Catholic at all Msgr. Dakay.

Granted he may be a Catholic, that does not excuse him from committing sins of the flesh, in the same way as it does not excuse those who wear the robe from stealing from the coffers of the Church in guise of "giving to the poor". Msgr. Dakay has no right to judge the act committed by the gay victim in the video or the circumstances that led to the insertion of the body spray cannister into the victims rectum. Passing judgment is not within your purview Msgr. Dakay. Your robe and your role supposedly allows you to look at the situation with empathy, love and an open mind. The day you opened your mouth, you sealed more of the faithful to look the other way from the teachings of the Catholic Church. Not even Jesus Christ castigated Mary Magdalene for being a sinful woman. Who are you, Msgr. Dakay, to judge the aftermath of the "sin" without sympathy to the the victim? Where is the sense of empathy and morality of the priesthood when Msgr. Dakay has already crucified the victim to the cross? With so many sex scandals by church officials in the US alone (we've not counted the Philippines), I cannot imagine how Msgr. Dakay can malign this victim.

Msgr. Dakay has cast the first stone and I cringe at the stand the prelate makes on behalf of defending the doctors. The sexual practice of the victim in this case is irrelevant Msgr. Dakay. While the Filipinos are appalled by the act of those who supposedly should keep the patient-doctor relationship a private one, you on the other hand have passed judgment by discriminating the sexual orientation of the individual. Even the Catholic faith implies that discrimination should be abhored, yet Msgr. Dakay has bashed even the basic right to decency by espousing that the victim was equally to blame in this unfortunate video clip.

The actual video is graphic and sickening. It sickens me to know that there are animals in the medical field who have no respect for human dignity. The video taking in itself is an offense against privacy, whether the material being used is that for academic purposes or for personal satisfaction. Without a written informed consent, this goes against the very rights of human dignity.

Judgment time for Msgr. Dakay and the medical staff behind the scandal.

Msgr. Dakay should preach from the pulpit and be more forgiving and understanding. Otherwise, he loses the very essence of his cloak.

The medical staff behind the scandal should be remorseful and hope that the victim finds it in his heart to forgive them. The very least, they should be disciplined. After all, the doctors can always take a nursing course and leave this country. Good riddance.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Humpty Dumpty Gloria?

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a big fall
All the King's horses and all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again

If you think I will bash our president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, you may get disappointed.

I'm writing about the present state of the Philippines under her term. It is a personal opinion and should not be taken as a view by the people of the Philippines. I've been prodded by some friends to give an opinion after I chided them on the text messages that have been circulating on how difficult life has become because of the economic crunch in the country.

Gloria has been blamed for all the travails we are currently experiencing. The rice shortage, the appreciation of the peso, the increased cost of food and gas and electricity and water, transportation, increased inflation... and the joke is that everything rises except her excellency's height.

But is Gloria actually to blame for all these?

Well, with the way Philippines politics goes, it's bound to be the president's head that we ask for on a silver platter. I am no expert in political science and will not venture to be an "expert" as others would claim to be (and no, I don't believe their savvy political science background simply because Philippines politics is one for the Guinness Record and has no formal background. With that said, these "experts" should just shove the diplomas up their...)

I will simply state the obvious. In 2001, we overthrew a sitting president on allegations of skimming off money from jueteng (a gambling game). Imagine that! It's not even legal money tendered to the government which should be accounted for and we overthrew that president. What a pathetic crowd. Let's just say that those who wanted Joseph Estrada out were the country's supposed "elite" who definitely did not like the lifestyle that Erap led - women, gambling, poor governance. But Erap was loved by the masses because he gave when it came to the poor. In plain language, he was just a simpleton. Didn't have enough brains, probably, to decide on issues central to running a country. He probably thought that the country was a "little San Juan". So a couple of people from Metro Manila (which did not even represent the voting majority of this country) decided to go to EDSA for an uprising, decided to throw him out of office and swear in his vice-president. The rest is history.

Eight years later into a second term as president and 2 years to go as sitting president, Gloria is plagued by corruption from human rights advocates, shady deals of her husband and political appointees, favoring military appointments into the cabinet, alleged rise in graft and corruption, an increasing inflation rate in the country, an exodus of skilled workers in massive proportions, and several coup attempts.

But all the president's men have parried her from being booted out of office. Even whistle blower Jun Lozada lost steam in attempting to discredit her. Why? What has happened?

The Filipinos are tired of the same drama and telenovela that's unfolding in the political scenario. Majority of those that remain working in our country are poor and uneducated. They wouldn't care less, except for a morsel of bread. Something Gloria has taken cared of by providing them P500 worth of ATM allowance monthly. It will buy a few basic food on the table, and time for the next president to worry about the situation of the country.

Many of the professional workers - nurses, doctors, pharmacists, ITs, engineers, scientists, accountants, lawyers - are moving out of the country, in search for more verdant pastures. Never mind the hardship of starting over again. To them, this country is a lost cause. No future in the land where only the moguls gain more and the poor become poorer. If you don't believe me, why do you think that the nursing course is such a lucrative field nowadays? I ask my patients on what their kids are taking or will be, and they say - NURSING! To earn dollars, to be OFWs, to make a life in the country of milk and honey. They have nothing good to talk about the Philippines. They dream that one day, some day, their kids will extricate them from the hell of this country and bring them to purgatory in London or New York and eventually, find heaven in the land where dollars and pounds are legal tender.

I have many friends that have taken this road. It is not the road less traveled.

Is it Gloria?

No. And even if I did not vote for her as president of the Republic of the Philippines, I respect the position of the president. I may not like her, but the blame should not be shouldered by the president alone. We are equally to blame for the condition the country is in. The pathetic people who have made politics, graft, corruption, envy and greed the by-word for survival are to blame. It starts with the one-letter word "I". Each time we give in to the sins of the world, we are to blame for the destruction of the economy of the country.

This country has as many mobile phones as there are people residing here. I make my rounds in the charity section of the hospital and I see kids sick and needing medical assistance. I turn my head around and see the mom with a cellphone N72! I tell her that her son needs medications because he is very ill. She says she has no money. I tell her to sell her mobile phone. She looks at me with fiery eyes and says "NO". It's all she has. And she is not alone in that attitude!

What was the kid? A display item? With this kind of attitude, we have raised the bar of materialistic sustenance. I've simply said it over and over again to parents, if you don't have the dough, don't try to live like a prince off someone else's money. It's bad role modeling. But look at the poor. Their shanties have a flat screen TV, DVD, iPod, computer, refrigerator, electric fan, and some have even airconditioners!

This example is a microcosm of the bigger evil. Parents who flaunt what they DON'T HAVE make their children believe they have money. They max out their credit cards, they buy cars and laptops and iPod touches (even the illegal iPod phones), go on vacations skimmed off from company accounts... you know the story. One day some sheriff goes to their house to sequester everything they have (or did not have in the first place). Shameful and pathetic.

It's basically greed. Inner greed. Inner evil. Something we simply can't help ourselves with.

I am not absolving the government from blame. Everyone is part to blame. Media included. Someone once said that the most powerful change can be achieved, if only it starts with "I". But love for country is something that is wanting. There is a lot of work that needs to be done and that in itself is a monumental task. Daunting and hopefully, possible.

When all the other countries around us have gone through so much crisis as well, they have well risen above them for love of country. The self was willing to take up much more sacrifice for others than simply being onlookers at watching how the country would evolve.

Good governance is a far cry in this country, but Gloria will never achieve it until it becomes her political will to weed out her greedy men. The only payback a president owes is to its people. At present, Gloria's problem is not emanating solely from a local problem. The compounding factors of worldwide depression and rising fuel costs, including lack of food supply in the changing climate environment contributes to her problems. She was caught flat-footed so to speak. But it was bound to happen to any president who had no foresight on the problem of the country. And the problem just escalates disproportionately.

Gloria will weather her political storm. She needs to. And whether we like it or not, we need to help her by starting with "I". Moral and ethical responsibility begins with us. And must be demanded by us of our government officials. We need more than just text messages aimed at destroying the country to make this country weather the problems of the world. While they are funny, they are also crude and show our non-caring attitude about what is going on in this country.

But the only way Gloria will weather the political climate is to weed out the bad, even if it means sacrificing family. There is a generation of Filipinos that will benefit from good leadership. And if she is willing to make that her legacy, it is not too late to lead the way. Your generals and cabinet ministers cannot help you. Time to clean up before leaving the house Madam President. There's a country waiting for you.

The Forbidden Kingdom...reviewed - the good, the bad, the ugly

I am an avid fan of Chinese martial arts.  And having both Jet Li and Jacky Chan come into one movie was something I wouldn't miss. Enough said.


The film is about an American teenager who is just obsessed as I am with Chinese martial arts.  Jason, the protagonist in the film is from South Boston.  He frequents a chinese run shop and in the process of his travails with thugs in his neighborhood, gets transformed to China, in order to fulfill a 500 year old prophecy in freeing the Monkey King.  

The action packed film is not what I expected from an American made film, as it reminisced a combination of the Karate Kid and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  It had a lackadaisical story, but who cares?  The fight, flight and digitalized scenes were awesome!  I read the reviews of some "Hollywood" moguls, but who cares what they thought about the story line?  They're actually syndicated and many get paid to give good reviews.  

It's currently showing in 100 movie houses in the country and you've got to watch it on large screen to appreciate the digital effects which were actually done on Apple's FCP (Final Cut Pro).  You can log on to to know more about the film's productions.  I love Apple's cutting edge in film production. The more reason why everyone should get a Mac when choosing a computer.


As a final note,  I couldn't help but make the special comment on how the movie houses allow children less than 5 years old into the movie house.  Just for the record, I had to shush a parent after painfully trying to concentrate on the movie because her 2 year old son was running around together with the nanny inside the theater, moving back and forth from my view.  The son was not only irritating but so was the mom who told me to get out of the movie house if I couldn't stand her son's noise!  The temerity of some people! 

Instead of focusing on pushing and shoving on who is right or wrong, let me just say that it is the DUTY of theater owners (paging Alabang Town Center, again!) to minimize their GREED by putting restrictions (read MTRCB) on the appropriate age for allowing children into the movie houses.  Let's make it clear on the OBJECTIVE of watching a movie is to get ENTERTAINED and not IRRITATED.  No wonder piracy of movies is so rampant in this country.  You can best appreciate the movies in the confines of your home because some uneducated nincompoop reasons out that their sociopathic son has the same right as everyone to watch a movie that the infant could not comprehend.  So it was okay to make noise, and never mind the other people in the audience.  

The movie could have been more enjoyable, had the distraction been minimal.  In this case, I believe the family of the rowdy child should have just been transported into a forbidden place and that movie houses should be a forbidden kingdom to the kids not old enough to understand the film and only go to the movies because their parents want to.  

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Speaking for love

On a light note, I came upon the CD of Traincha, which carried the title Who'll Speak for Love at Fully Booked in Serendra. I fell in love with the CD. Traincha sings the songs so clearly and euphorically that you can actually feel the melodies of Burt Bacharach's music. Traincha's music is endearing and you can log in to her site at if you want to know more about her. The picture above shows her ticket to her performance in Tokyo, Japan at the end of the month (at $90USD per head!).

Moving on...there is one song here, the carrier song of the album with the same title, which I want to share with all.

For those unfamiliar with the song, take 4 minutes of your time to listen to it in the solace of a quite space and let it embrace you.

The lyrics are so beautiful that I can relate to the song. It's for that special someone who has made us feel loved, needed, and fought for the very essence of what a truly meaningful relationship is. Indeed, love is not only through the good times, but those difficult moments, those struggles in your relationship, that journey towards both your dreams.

Enjoy the music. Most of all, find the meaning and essence in the lyrics. Just click on to this podcast to hear the complete song.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Envy and greed...Filinvest partners with Alabang Town Center and Madrigal

My favorite coffee is the fresh brew at UCC.

I used to frequent UCC at Westgate Alabang Filinvest, but since the started charging P15.00 for parking, it's been a turn-off. No, not UCC, but Filinvest in general.

It's not like that the Westgate Alabang Filinvest (WAF) is a mall altogether, similar to Alabang Town Center, SM Southmall or Festival Mall. It's just a small area where food and services are offered. Akin to The Fort strip in Bonifacio High, Taguig City. What I don't understand is why in heaven's name do customers who bring in business to these establishments have to PAY for parking? Shouldn't that come free? I mean, it's not like we go to the restaurant to sit down and do nothing! Duh!!!

But the Filinvest people are probably learning from the greedy Ayala neighbors. Greed is as contagious as envy. Because they see their Ayala and Madrigal neighbors profiting from simply parking in the area, they have got to get a share of the pie too!

I noticed that I was the only one having breakfast there, when it used to be that when I get to the restaurant at 830AM, it's usually teeming with people. And I found out from the waitress and manager that the sales and the number of people coming into WAF had markedly dropped since Filinvest started charging parking fee.

There goes the last area in Alabang that does not charge for parking.

What is it with the mall owners that they need to charge for parking? The Alabang Town Center for example has a concierge booth, that's practically useless, except the need to employ people to stand there and look like if you get lost in the small mall, you can always ask them for assistance. Why can't the mall owners strike a deal with the merchandisers on validating the parking tickets or provide free parking to those who patronize their establishments? You can always opine to me that it's only P15.oo and if I can afford to spend P30,000 then the P15 is only drop change. But I can always throw back the argument to those that argue this way. Because I spend so much already in the establishments, someone has got to moderate their greed. Provide the customers a slack! Give the P15 back as token for doing business with your establishment.

Imagine all the banking establishments at the Madrigal, ATC and Filinvest area where you need to pay P15.00 for a bank transaction. My golly! The interest rate on the pittance savings account of the average Juan de la Cruz isn't even big enough to cover for the parking fee.

I understand the situation of the mall owners on freebie shoppers. The latter are those that simply hang out in the malls for a whiff of the airconditioning system and don't purchase anything at all. There is a system where you can weed this out and this is easily done by validating parking tickets when you shop in the mall.

But greed is the prime mover of all things. And the mall owners need to moderate their greed. It simply is poor economics to be siphoning off from both parties - the customer and the merchandiser. At ATC alone, there have been so many merchandisers that have come and gone. Of course, the mall owners wouldn't care how many merchandisers came and left. But merchandisers pay for common space, pay for rent, pay for security, electricity, garbage, water and a certain percentage of what they earn!

Just imagine if you had 5000 cars parked on a weekday, that would rake in already P75,000. On weekends, that would be 50,000 cars. That would mean P750,000 on Saturday and Sunday alone. These are regular weekends. Do the math.

I thought that the government wanted to do something about this situation, unfortunately, like many government officials in the country, someone just got paid to shut-up. But knowing the "connections" of these people with government, you all know the story of moderating greed. Our government officials shoo it under the rug if they need to. In the Philippines, politics is a living.

If you think you agree with me on this matter, speak up and let your friends know. Don't patronize malls that require you to pay when you actually patronize their merchandisers anyway. The merchandisers on the other hand should try to work with the mall owners in extending some slack to those that shop with them. Makati Supermarket for example validates parking tickets in selected parking areas. So why can't they? It's not like Rustan's is so poor (with their designer items and Designer Boulevard selling clothing at exhorbitant prices!). We should have a week where we boycott ALL the malls that charge a parking fee to show our indignation! Let's see how this will affect the business climate.

Envy is a basic evil that becomes contagious. Unless we do something now, it will spread like wild fire. And it all begins with Greed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The world of autism according to Sam

Sam (let's use a fictitious name) is now 6 years old. He has been my patient for 2 years, referred by the parents of another patient of mine. His parents are achievers in the community. Sam was diagnosed to have Autism Spectrum Disorder/Disease (ASD) when he was 3 years old. It was devastating to the parents to have someone tell them that. At first it was disbelief. They went through the phases - anger, denial, bargaining and eventually acceptance.

When Sam was born, both parents were happy that they had a boy! To them, he was their world and they made sure he got his shots, he was seen by a good doctor, and they religiously brought him to the latter whenever he had his appointments. In spite of the regular doctor visits, Sam had gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea and vomiting) and often had rashes, which were passed off as "allergy" by his doctor. They were at clinic almost twice a month. At 1 1/2 years old, Sam seemed "odd" to the relatives. Of course, as parents would, his condition was shunned off as "growing disorder" or being "spoiled". Until they were referred to a developmental specialist who diagnosed him to have ASD, their days in purgatory were transformed to hell.

Sam is not the only boy diagnosed to have autism. I have had several patients that I diagnosed and eventually confirmed to have autism by my favorite developmental specialist, Dr. Noemi Tanglao-Salazar. After his parents acceptance of Sam's condition, the program to rehabilitate Sam became a process where all of us participated in his journey in life.

Like many autistic children, Sam has his own world. There would be days when he would be happy, and other days where his mind is trapped in a world where only Sam would understand. And his parents have lived through those days with understanding and love. Even if Sam is not my son, I have learned to love him through his tantrums in the clinic whenever I see him.

I share Sam's story because when I saw my first patient whom I diagnosed to have autism over a decade ago, it was a learning experience for me. I had to read up on the disease and tried to understand the disorder. I had to know more about it because I've always taught my students that the best teacher would be your patient and the best doctor would learn more about their patient's disease. With Sam, I had gone through the learning curve.

I was touched when Sam's father came to the clinic for his regular visit and told me that since he knew I loved to read, he handed me a book, and thanked me for understanding Sam. I think it was his way of helping me learn more about autism and I'm taking the road less traveled. Like Sam, I will find my hell and purgatory, and I hope to find heaven at the end of the journey. Like Sam's parents, we should not lose hope in finding a cure for this disease. There is much work to be done. And it all begins with ONE.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

I'm a healer by profession. Not the psychic, but a doctor. Interestingly, I read through some of people's blogspots and learned a lot from their "sharing" of experiences, life stories, and what have you.

They say that blogging puts your life for the public to read - and yes, it's a risk one takes because in the end, it can be used against you. But that's a risk many people are willing to take. I'm a Gemini. And we're risk takers. We have both worlds at our disposal. And after a lot of contemplating, why not take the plunge? In our daily lives, we make decisions - between the devil and the deep blue sea.

I was thinking that if I blogged the next few years of my life, I probably would leave a story to tell about how I lived, how I loved, and how I was able to manage my life. I've toiled for the longest time and am sharing my journey.

Don't ask why my blog is Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. The story will evolve eventually. 

The picture you see is the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and was conceived as a perfect cube.  Do you know that this half of this building is buried under the ground?  It is home to broadcasting archives, offices, and a museum and is a formidable landmark of the city of Hilversum.  This was taken from the New York Times, which had the best shot!  So why choose the picture?  I just described what the place is.  It should more or less give you an idea of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell...