Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Johns of our lives

John is a shorter Hebrew version of Yehohanan. Meaning "Yahweh is gracious" or Yahweh has shown favor".

In the Catholic calendar, there are only three birthdays that are celebrated by the church - Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist.

John was the gift of God to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age. From disbelief to miracles, John was God's instrument to introduce and prepare the world for the coming of the greatest man who ever lived - Jesus.

People come in and out of our lives. Sometimes, they may be those that are not worth it. But there are some that make the journey in our life worth the travel. They're the friends who we can lean on whether good or bad times. These are Johns of our lives. They're there to trumpet our triumphs but comfort us during our downfalls. Some people may not be around that often but they are more sincere in their relationships with us.

Are you the John of peoples lives and who are the Johns in your lives?

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I recall over a dinner conversation with my nephew and niece the topic on how "primeval" the educational methods used in school while we were growing up.

Today's youth have the luxury of the power of knowledge at their fingertips. Nothing bad about that if you're looking at it from the point of view of the future.

Come to think of it, I recall the times that we had Library Science as a subject (and as a course to some!). Technology just evaporated the role of librarians and sent this dying breed into exile earlier than they would have thought. I recall those times when I'd practically spend 3-4 hours in the library on school days. Those vacant periods would be spent pouring through the hundreds of references for our assignment.

Gone are those days when students would have to trek to the libraries in order to stay updated or do their assignments. With the advent of the iPad, iBooks, iLibrary, and Kindle, you could download, google, search, surf and even publish information on the world wide web.

There's the good and the bad side of this technological breakthrough. Even the "oldies" like I, get to enjoy the value of information technology. No more having to queue for movie tickets, no more having to waste time paying researchers to dig up data, no more having to subscribe to the Yellow Pages (hence saving more trees), no more having to do business over the counter, no more having to spend hundreds of pesos just to talk to friends and relatives in other countries (soon we can talk to the Martians as well), no more having to be at the airport gazillion hours to get good seats as I can check in online, no more having to go to Timbuktu to get your take out as you can order online, no more having to go to the mall to buy clothes or stuff...YESSSS...we can all be turds and just sit back at our computer desks and type in wild abandon what we want - so we can get it without having to move from point A to point B.

And there's the rub.

Technology has created the monster called complacency and its sister obesity.

Students simply copy and paste information and pass it as their work or assignments. People have forgotten to acknowledge references and pass it as their own. The devil called plagiarism reels an ugly horn - from kindergarten to the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

People today want to take the shortcut. We now have more time to do other things. Like - uhmmm...what? Get into a third or fourth job? Go on porn sites? Pick a boyfriend or girlfriend through the net?

Now that we have more time and our kids have more time in their hands, there's more time for iPad and PSP games. And the kids and youth of today are so different. They're so materialistic. Once upon a time, many of the kids enjoyed little Barbies and Lego. Today, they've got to have an iPad or Galaxy. No money to get their kids immunized or brought to the hospital when they are sick but they have money to get the latest gadgets. And it's not simply because they want to keep up with technology. It's more out of envy.

The "shortcut" mentality has created a culture of attention deficit disorder in many. Many prefer that you cut the chase and go directly to what's needed. I go to Sunday services and see how many - young and old alike - feel so uneasy when the priest gives a longer sermon than usual. They bring out their iPhones to check on messages, or go out of the mass service to make a call or answer calls. There's this teenager who sits in front of us each Sunday mass who can't wait to get mass over and while in church dazingly googles through his Blackberry and his parents who are seated beside him don't even tell him or teach him the propriety of texting during church services. It's like a once a week religious affair with God. If you can't make your kids appreciate even the little time to thank God or say a little prayer to Him, well just leave your kids at home playing with their gadgets and toys! Sheesh!!!

We're in a hurry these days. A million bucks by the age of 21. A career by 25. A house and lot by 27. A company by 30. A king by 35.

Perhaps technology has pushed us to this level of looking at life with a shortcut. It would be sad that at our deathbeds, we would have to rewind quickly the journey we had and find it empty. Or will our exit in this world be a shortcut too?

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Not once, but twice!"

These were the exact words that Susan Roces blurted out to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when the latter had won the presidency over her husband in a cheating marred elected. GMA had also taken over President Joseph Estrada when the latter was deposed from office by a handful of people belonging to the upper echelon of society, in what is tragically history's EDSA II.

And so what goes down in history for 2012 is how the Americans had apparently cheated Filipinos or those of Filipino decent on the plum crowns for singing and boxing, from a country that apparently proclaims itself to be the land of the brave and free.

First down was Jessica Sanchez who lost to a WGWG (white male with guitar) contestant. Of course, I'm not sour-graping. On a mano-a-mano singing level, Phillip Phillips was a distant contestant among the five finalists of AI. As to why he won - perhaps only the Americans will know. As they say, even if you were born and raised in the United States of America, your color and race will still matter in the end.

Then there was Manny Pacquiao. While I am not a boxing fan, and definitely not a Pacman fan, I did watch the Pacquiao -Bradley bout. And clearly, Pacquiao won hands down. There are several analysts that went on to defend why Bradley had won, but I guess this was one for the books. Bradley was "Desert Storm" and the symbol of America. Pacman needed to floor him to win. Perhaps Pacman showed signs of his age in the last few rounds of the fight. Perhaps it was a throw-away fight (as everyone knows that boxing is a gambling game). But three people deciding on who the victor was in the fight clearly saw it all differently compared to all the other sports analysts who were covering the fight.

Glaringly and clearly, I don't think the Americans are ready to give any prize awards this year to Filipinos or anyone not belonging to their race for sure.

It just shows you that even in the country where millions flock to in search of greener pastures, discrimination will remain inevitably be their foremost enemy.

Even in the land of milk and honey, we will always be second class citizens.

Not once, but twice over.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


This month celebrates father's day, my birthday and my dad's death anniversary.

Somehow, I cannot tell if my bipolar world has been activated in some weird way because of these events.

My dad and I were probably not that close. Considering that I was the eldest of the brood of our clan, I should be donating the seedlings to multiply our family name. But as fortune and choice would destine it, I would be the last of our breed. It's probably why there was no "man to man" bonding between my father and I.

But as I grew older, and even if there was this policy of "don't ask, don't tell" in our house, I knew he knew. And I knew deep inside me that it was painful for him and pointless for me to change.

The only compromise I had with him (in not so many words) was to fulfill a dream he had - to have a son that finished a medical degree.

Which is why when I shifted course from General Science (Pre-Medicine) to Mathematics in my undergraduate years, it was devastating for him. I never wanted to be a doctor. But somehow, I kept my end of the bargain and he kept his - he never asked me about my sexual preference.

We do not come from a wealthy family.

In spite of his diabetes, my dad worked day and night to make ends meet. I could see the frustration in his eyes when it would be school time again. It was time to borrow money from the office because enrollment was at the corner. My sister and I are only 1 1/2 years apart, which meant that we were both going to college at the same time. And when I trotted off to medical school, I knew that the financial burden would only be aggravated. We had loans to pay, considering that we had just finished building our house.

But my father was a quiet man when it came to family matters. You could read the frustration in his eyes when it came to money matters. But you could see his determination to juggle more work so that he could make ends meet in order to provide for his family. In his life, there probably were more bad days than good ones.

In my own world, I could not let this man who provided a roof over our heads, food on our tables and weekends on the boulevard down. There were days when I felt I disappointed him seriously.

The last step to graduate from medical school was the oral revalida. My failure there hurt me at the core of pride. It hurt my father at the core of his dream. It devastated me because I failed my father - again.

And while he kept his silent frustration to himself, he also revealed the side that would inspire me later on. He crept into my room and told me that I was free to choose to continue with medical school or choose to chase my dream.

It was not an act of frustration or desperation I saw in this man.

It was an act of selfless love. No questions were asked. No reprimand. Simply giving in.

A few days after swallowing my pride, I went back to med school. A young man with a new direction in life. More determined. More motivated. More focused. More inspired.

Where I am today is all because of my father's inspiration. And I know that even if he is not around to see what I have become and what I have achieved, I know wherever he is, he is smiling down at me with approval. In my life, failure will not be an option - because the man who taught me how to survive life's biggest challenge was my greatest inspiration.

I will always remember that inspiration that my father was - to give without counting the cost, to share even what we need ourselves, to give the best even when it hurts. It is possible to give without love, but it is impossible to love without giving.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The vice-president and the popularity polls

Strangely, when someone DOES NOT do anything, he or she is the most popular.

It's because the one that is the least seen or heard, is usually the lesser evil.

And this is how the popularity polls SHOULD BE interpreted.

Let's look at the perfect example of the SWS polls being conducted to trump those well liked versus those despised in government service.

Survey says: BINAY tops the list of most liked. Like yeah, sure. What in the world has the Veep done in the last 2 years that he's liked?!? Like ALL the other Veeps in the past, there's always that wonder of all wonders on what his role in life actually is. Like all Veeps in any organization, the Vice-President of the Republic of the Philippines is left in limbo or purgatory. All you need to do is remember the roles of Noli de Castro or Joseph Estrada. They are provided the least stressful and least useful of all government positions. No one cares if the Veep lives or dies. They always are - inconsequential.

So now Jejomar Binay is rocketed off to an inconsequential role - housing czar?!?! That's the same weird role of Noli Boy, and where have these housing contributions and loans gone to? Our monthly contributions of P250/month is about P3000/year. If you work for 10 years that would have been P30,000.00 You think that would be enough to buy you a house?!?! Nails for the house probably or some god-forsaken shanty. I think this Pag-Ibig fund is a joke. A big joke on the contributors and a big joke for the borrowers.

Going back to the Veep, I cannot recall a single thing that would catapult Veep Binay to a "likeable" category. All I recall about him after he was elected Veep of the Philippines is his transferring his office to the Coconut Palace AND his desperate attempt to stay the execution of the Pinoy drug mules - a case of procrastinating the inevitable. After the government had spent money for his trip, the Pinoys were still executed.

Perhaps it was a blessing that Mar Roxas lost the last election. Had he won, he would have been in Binay's shoes - a position of complacency.

Well, it gives time for Binay now to jostle for the election in 2016.

And the he's banking on the stupid Social Weather Station to provide the impetus to the millions of gullible Filipinos who bank on superficial information as their main source of information.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ningas cogon

Cogon grass is a tall, thin green grass that grows in large fields. Because it is reed thin, it easily catches fire, and is put out quickly as well.

The term ningas cogon is part of Philippine culture. They say that is part of our heritage. After showing fervent desire in one topic, just like the cogon grass, they lose interest in it as rapidly. Some people say that the Filipinos are a "forgiving" people. I don't agree. They are masochists. After people inflict pain on them they easily forget. I don't know where this attitude emanates from, but seriously, it's one that's not helpful to the nation and to its people.

The Marcos dynasty is a perfect example of how easily the Pinoys forget (and forgive?). In every municipality and barangay in this country of 7101 islands, you will find a political dynasty created mainly by the rich, the powerful and those who run for office because they have an ulterior motive - not to serve their constituents, but to enrich themselves.

And so we have lived through a century of various political dynasties. As the Pinoys would call it - "weather weather lang". Every election year, politicians go up the campaign platforms to trump their reminders on the power they possess and their never ending promise to address the woes of the Filipino people, fix the school buildings, roads and bridges, crime and corruption and bring justice home. After every election, these promises are swept under the rug, and the next three to six years end up with empty promises and Juan de la Cruz with an empty stomach.

The recent events on the impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sends an important message to corrupt government officials. The trial of the decade should not be merely for show. Mr. Corona, had left an open challenge to everyone in public office. Show your legitimate statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (otherwise called SALN). Before and during the trial, many politicians had said they were willing to show what they have - hidden wealth and all! But after the impeachment, sanamagan...these idiots led by the lead idiotic prosecutor Neil Tupas has recanted! Now they justify that it's not they that were on trial and that there was no need to prove anything. This line of reasoning is the kind of reasoning why Miriam Defensor-Santiago gets a standing ovation even during her lucid moments - after all, she's got a point!! God strike everyone dead in the senate impeachment court if they don't show their SALN!!!!!!

Some say that the average Juan has become more politically mature with this impeachment process.

I disagree. We are a million miles away from political maturity. It is when we have dismantled the dynasties and other leaders are chosen based on quality and not friendship, do we learn the art of true governance FOR THE FILIPINO people.

In the meantime, with some of our politicians acting ningas cogon, there is no cause for celebrating the impeachment of the chief justice.

In the meantime, the SALN is not statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. To the politician or government official SALN means SEKRETO ANG LAMAN NITO!