Sunday, October 21, 2012

No greater love

There's the story of a young boy and his parents.

As the boy grew up, he and his parents struggled with his growth pains, as every family would realize in raising children.

Lately, the boy would always come home late from school. Supper was already ready and the parents would wait for him to get back from school so they could eat together. When asked why he came home late from school lately, the boy replied that he would hang out with friends. So the father told him that if he comes home late from school again, he would only get one piece of bread and a glass of water every time he came home late.

During the next week or so the boy came home on time. Then one day, he came home late at night again, this time much later than he used to. His mother was furious when she opened the door and gave him the cold treatment. His father was seated in the living room in silence. They all proceeded to the dinner table. His stomach was grumbling and the scent of a freshly cooked meal permeated the air. When he sat down he noticed that the plates of both his parents were filled with delicious food. And he saw that on his plate was a piece of bread with a glass of water on the side. And his face fell and he knew it was his punishment.

After a few moments of silence, his father stood up, took his own plate filled with food and swapped plates with the boy. Tonight, he was taking the punishment for his son as his own.

There's always a story of an act of love that surpasses many "I love you" we share. Love is not about giving the most expensive jewelry or fanciest car. It's the little sacrifices and it's about dying a little so that someone else lives better lives that make a difference.

I remember when I was growing up, my mother used to buy ripe yellow mangoes for me and my sister. Because we didn't have much money to go around with, whenever she would serve us the mangoes, she would slice it into three parts - the two faces with the seed in the middle. She would give the best parts to me and my sister and she would suck on the middle portion of the mango. And she would be contended with having sips of the succulent fruit.

I guess in our lives, we have had someone who has given us no greater love in their own small way. Often times, we miss seeing the big picture because we're often engrossed with ourselves and sometimes our pathetic personal wants and needs.

There will always be a bit of Jesus Christ that dies on the cross to save us from the bigger crosses we bear.

For just a few minutes in your day, have you taken the time to sit back and reflect on the people who have given you no greater love?

Think about it, and thank them for it. Because when they're not around anymore, you'll regret the day you missed the chance to say "thank you" for loving you during the worst days of your life.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

of rags, tabloids and the varsitarian editorial

I was a product of the Varsitarian.

I rose from the ranks of news reporter to the editorial staff from 1980-1983.

In my curriculum vitae, I was always proud of being part of the Varsitarian. From the hundreds of students who took the exams to be part of the V, I was one of the few that passed. I took pride in the fact that I could probably have the prowess for writing.

Our publications director then, Mr. Felix Bautista taught me how to write. In him, I learned not only how to write directly from the typewriter but to write with passion and with ethics.

I am proud to be in the ranks of Varsitarian staffers who are today, excellent journalists and great writers. While I may not have pursued a journalism course, I was taught well and I know Mr. Baustista would have been proud.

The last editorial of the Varsitarian dated September 30, 2012 was, well to say the kindly - controversial. To put it in this perspective is really a kind way of saying that it was written badly. There was so much bashing, bullying and in a distinct fashion akin to the Pharisees, there was finger pointing on who was holy and good versus those who were sinners.

The editorial serves as the stand of whatever or whoever the publications is owned by. In this case - it is the official student organ of the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas. Hence, it purports to be the stand of the student Thomasian community. Given this fact, why are many Thomasian students screaming for the head of whoever wrote the editorial, on a silver platter?

It is shoddily written by someone who had much hatred against Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University. The arguments against the Reproductive Health Bill had taken a back seat from the paper's stand against this bill. It was like the writer came from a game that the UST Tigers had lost and bashed at the keyboard initially with the RH bill in mind then had hallucinations of the loss game and diverted his anger to ADMU and DLSU. In short, this was a very bad piece of editorial that shouldn't have seen the light of day.

But it went to press. It went viral. And the rest is history.

The Varsitarian carries a long tradition of being one the best and most respected student publications organ in the country. To have this trashy editorial made it look like some ragtag tabloid with those naked girls and boys on the front cover in order to sell the rag. Has it become so desperate for attention that the writer had focused on pointing out only two schools - in Katipunan and Taft? There are other Catholic schools whose teachers or professors have the same stance as those who are pro-RH. Talk about academic freedom! While academic freedom may not be absolute, neither is press freedom absolute. You don't use the editorial of the newspaper to go around castigating other schools, other sects, other religious orders just to get your opinion or your point made.

I am a physician as well. And I vow to do no harm to patients. And while I understand the pharmacology of the drugs used for reproductive health and warn people on its use, I do not go around saying that the professors from Ateneo or La Salle are lacking in brains or are pretenders and interlopers.

The fact that the University officials say that "The University thus supports the Varsitarian, its official student publication, in its stand against the RH bill and for that matter any organization united in this regard with the Catholic Church" is fine with me! That's their stand but it's not fine! There was a thin line that needed to be drawn and that was where this editorial went awry. In the first place, you cannot agree to one part of the editorial and apologize for the unsavory comments against other schools in the other paragraphs. After all, the editorial had to deliver one message - the RH Bill! Did it need to bash other schools and result in name calling? No. It needed to get edited. That was the responsibility of those that were supposed to supervise and teach the students on responsible journalism. Something very lacking in this piece of trash.

Even Thomas Aquinas would be turning in his grave at the way the school took the stand on the editorial. According to the official university bulletin - "We remain united in Christ with the Ateneo de Manila University, the De La Salle University and the other universities in our mission to promote Catholic education and to form students to become living testaments to the teachings of Christ and the principles we hold sacred—competence, commitment, and compassion."

Competence, commitment and compassion were truly lacking in this piece of trash.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Our hell on earth

We are masters of our own universe.

With that said, I blog about depression and how it eats up the human heart and soul.

Most of us feel sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps one time or another. But as the saying goes - we need to snap out of it after a short while.

A major depressive disorder becomes a clinical condition when it lasts for months. It is a disabling condition classified by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder that is manifested by low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, loss of interest or pleasure in what are normally enjoyable activities.

I have friends and loved ones who go through their personal hell on earth. When I see some of them having to fight with the devil from within, it tears my heart apart. My mom for example has had her good days and bad days before she was diagnosed with major depression disorder.

I remember when my father passed away, my mother was left in a void. Suddenly she had chest pains, abdominal pains, and other body aches which various doctors tried to address and which various medicines could not cure. Everyday would be anxiety-laden because when she would clasp her chest, I would rush her to the ER only for her to feel better when we got there or have the multiple laboratory tests come back normal.

That was when I decided that she should seek help. Help beyond what I can emotionally support her with. We both needed to move on with our lives.

The problem with depression is that it not only engulfs you but those who love and care for you. People who go into depression don't realize that their conditions are "infectious". Obviously, they wallow in their own world and become a prisoner of their own fears and anxieties. Depressed people are highly agitated, restless and irritable. Some become withdrawn and isolated. Others practice high risk behaviors - either sexually or through illicit drugs. There's a feeling of worthlessness, self-hate, guilt and trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.

People who suffer from depression must not only have the motivation to seek help. They must be able to wage a personal battle with the devil from within. Psychotherapy and counseling may help but the family and those close to them must bear extreme tolerance to their conditions. Something that's not easy to do because many of us have our own lives to live. We cannot be crippled by carrying other peoples lives all the time. Then there are medicines that address the depression but may end up with other metabolic problems for the patients.

There are many theories on why depression may be more prominent in some individuals while others who may have more stressors in life don't seem to be affected to a greater extent. Whatever they are, I would surmise that people who suffer from depression have their own stories of their hell on earth.

And while there are treatment options that can range from taking a pill to psychotherapy, the underlying goal here is to help people who suffer from depression to "snap out of it" and live full regular lives. No matter how you try to assure them that it's probably just a phase and that everything will fall into place eventually, there's the devil within that whispers to them that it's not going to be okay and that people tell them it will be alright so that you stop bothering them. And they go through another cycle of having to fight the negatives from within.

The internal struggle of having to live with depression leaves a lingering experience of despair each and every waking hour. It's their story of their hell on earth. And how their families and friends are affected by their intertwining stories of their lives.

Is there hope for them?

Yes. And it's a work in progress at fighting the evil from within. It's a concerted effort from those who support them physically, mentally and spiritually to help them move on with their lives and get to live life to the fullest.

We all have our stories to tell. Sharing them is the first step. The second, is realizing that you're not alone...