Saturday, November 27, 2010


Control yourself, let others do what they will.
This does not mean you are weak.
Control your heart, obey the principles of life.
This does not mean others are stronger.

~Southern Dragon Style Motto

Sunday, November 14, 2010


"I told the referee, 'Look at his eyes, look at his cuts'. I did not want to damage him permanently. That's not what boxing is about." ~ Manny Pacquiao

The Girl Who Can't Be Found

I was supposed to meet my Tita (mom's 2nd cousin) for coffee yesterday afternoon. But when I sent her an SMS message to confirm, she told me that she'll get back to me after she finds her missing daughter.

The words "missing" and "can't be traced" ricocheted in my head.

My Tita told me me that her 11-year old daughter was supposed to arrive at 8:30 in the morning. The girl boarded the bus from their town at 7:00 a.m. to spend the weekend with her in the city. She's been doing it for some time now and has never been late for more than 30 minutes of her ETA.

As the hours passed, my Tita began to get more worried. She decided to go to the terminal to check if her daughter was there. But the girl wasn't there so she decided to proceed to the police station to report her missing.

I went with my Tita at the police station then at the bus stop where the girl was supposed to get off. We asked the vendors selling foods and beverages nearby if they saw the girl but all of them said no. We then proceeded to check one of the other few places her daughter knows about in the city but she wasn't there as well.

With the help of other relatives, we somehow managed to get hold of the bus number so we decided to go to the terminal to interview the driver. Someone informed us, after we've been waiting for over 30 minutes, that we should probably wait outside since the bus might not check in at the terminal anymore. True enough, we saw the bus on the side street about to turn a corner going away from the terminal. My Tita and I ran as fast we could and jumped on the bus as it was moving away.

It was already getting dark by then and we were pinning our hopes on the driver and conductor. We were both hoping they'd remember where my cousin got off. Unfortunately, both of them couldn't seem to recall much about her so the conversation was another dead-end.

By the time we finished talking with the bus driver and conductor, we were already running out of ideas as to what to do next. All the hours spent looking for her didn't bring us any clue that might give us a hint as to where my cousin went. Even the other relatives who went searching for her couldn't trace her whereabouts.

An hour later, however, I got an SMS message from my Tita's sister informing us that my 11-year old cousin's already home. Apparently, the girl got off the nearest town then boarded another bus going back near where she came from. She then spent the entire day playing games in an Internet cafe all the while oblivious to the escalating worries of her mom and other relatives who went looking for her.

After the initial flood of relief, I couldn't help but think that 1) there's nothing more difficult than finding someone who doesn't intend to be found and that 2) parenting could be, without a doubt, an exercise in patience.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Symmetry of Words

"...every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there. If you could read people's thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought. Whatever that majority thought might be - that is the word of the city. And if your personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don't really belong there." ~ Eat, Pray, Love (p. 137)
When I think about the place I love so much, I think about how my word fits its word seamlessly. It's like that very first time I stepped foot in that place and how it changed me. My friend Anna Liese and I were so moved by that visit that we vowed to go back.

A few years passed and I have not put much thought about that promise I made to myself. But we did go back. Anna Liese in 2006 for a one-year scholarship while I went back a year after her for what turned out to be a most unforgettable experience that further cemented my love for that place.

In my heart, I truly believe that whatever my word and that place's word may be, they somehow merge in amazing harmony thus creating the music that is the beating of my heart.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Quest Physics

“I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call ‘The Physics of The Quest’ – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you. Or so I’ve come to believe.” ~ Eat, Pray, Love

(photo from somewhere on the Internet)

Rowing in The Social Network

rowing scene in the movie The Social Network. looks a lot less intense than a real race but not bad at all. good reviews + this scene = must see.

Friday, October 22, 2010


In the early months of training you’re thinking ‘What the hell is all this for?’ Because the race is so far off. There’s so much tedium and discipline and brutal effort to hammer through. You have to resist the subconscious desire to put an end to all this self-inflicted hardship. But as the days pass and you feel yourself getting stronger, you begin to live for the next day. You punish yourself if with a will in training, because you know you’re facing a race that will suspend your life. Somewhere in the race, you will find out what it is you’ve been working for. And your asking big questions of your body, and when the right answers are coming back, it’s a feeling you know you will never forget.” ~ Dan Topolski, Adapted from TRUE BLUE, The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny

A Lesson in Hope

"Sam: It's all wrong. By right, we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."

The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy

Saw this on a friend's FB note only a few days after I rereading the trilogy. One of the most memorable conversations in the books. J.R.R. Tolkien's a genius.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Ask yourself: 'Can I give more?'. The answer is usually: 'Yes'. ~ Paul Tergat

About Time

In Philippine sports, one learns to be grateful for every piece of good news - no matter how small or late in the game it comes. Over the years, nothing much has changed since I last trained and competed for flag and country. But despite the issues, the lack of support, or the politics that continue to hound Philippine sports; to be part of it remains a commitment that athletes embrace.

Less than five weeks to go before the Guangzhou Asian Games and yet many athletes still have not had the opportunity to train or compete abroad. National Sports Associations (NSA) that have the means to send their athletes and coaches abroad for training fare much better than those that depend largely on the support of the Philippine government through its various agencies.

The much coveted international training and exposures are still among those at the top of every athlete's wish list. Still, one of the many things I learned in all those years as an athlete, it was that at the heart of it all was the love for the sport.

As another major event approaches, I wish all athletes especially those in the sports I am and have been part of, the best of luck.

Philippine Rowing Association
The athletes who are competing at this year's Asian Games continue their training at the La Mesa Dam. Their competitors like the Iraqi rowers are training with the U.S. Team while others have been training in Europe for months now. Despite whatever disadvantages that present, the rowers are doing their best (like always) to prepare for the tough races that loom ahead.

Philippine Dragon Boat Federation
At one point the dragon boat team mulled pull-out from the RP Asiad delegation. I had an opportunity to talk with Mr. Ilagan about it and he told me they will not do it if they can help it. They have long waited for the approval of their request to train in LMD. The water there is much similar to the waters of the race course at the Guangdong International Rowing Centre, which I had the chance to see at the Asian Junior Rowing Championships last July.

Their request was recently approved. And they were given ten days to train at LMD before the "qualifying" time trials. That time trial was supposed to happen earlier today. I really hope that both men and women's teams successfully equalled or surpassed whatever time they were supposed to beat. If they did, they would be able to continue their training at LMD until before the Asian Games.

Wushu Federation of the Philippines
At last, the national wushu-sanshou athletes are finally leaving for their training at Shanxi province in China. They were supposed to have a 45-day training there but delays in their departure left with much less than that. It would not have mattered much if their Chinese coach was still around to train them. But he left months ago, leaving an Asiad bound team training on their own. As seasoned athletes, they did what they had to do to prepare. I sure hope, and I'm sure they do too, that all those training will be enough to win the much coveted Gold.

At the end of the day, all athletes who compete for flag and country are heroes. It does not matter if they win or lose the gold, silver, or bronze. Those who know what they experience and do for the love of sport would always think of them as winners.

Mabuhay ang atletang Pilipino!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Honor and Excellence

Inspiring. Even if I haven't been lucky enough to have her as my professor in college, I feel like she threw that threat to me as well. She reminds me so much of the many other UPD professors who taught me more than just lessons from textbooks.

Education beyond the four walls of the classroom. That's always been the UPD way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Yen For Travel

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. ~Anatole France

To travel is to nurture the soul. There is a deeper level of awareness involved that makes every experience unique and unforgettable. Every trip is a journey not just to places but to the depths of the soul.

Yesterday, my yearning to travel again resurfaced in full force. There are still many places to see before I die. And though I may not live long enough to visit all of them, I would die much happier if I have traveled to some of these places I have long dreamed of seeing:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My life according to Tears For Fears

[tagged by Majella] Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, answer these questions. You can't use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It's a lot harder than you think! Repost as 'My life according to (band name).' Tag your music loving friends!

Are you a male or female: Woman in Chains

Describe yourself: I Believe

How do you feel: Fish out of Water

Describe where you currently live: Mad World

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Empire Building

Your favorite form of transportation: The Big Chair

Your best friend is (are): Sowing the Seeds of Love

Your fear: Swords and Knives

What is the best advice you have to give: Advice for the Young at Heart

Thought for the Day: Everybody Wants to Rule the World

How I would like to die: Watch Me Bleed

My soul's present condition: Elemental

My motto: Ideas as Opiates

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I have grown so attached to my blog's design that I never imagined the day would come I would be forced to change it. It has only been less than a month since my last visit here. Less.than.a.month.

Sadly for me, it seems there have been changes that somehow wiped out the template created for me by a friend. My deepest wish right now is that the codes are not totally gone. I fervently hope that I could still retrieve them somehow.

As I was choosing a new design I could not help but think that getting attached really sucks. It takes a while for me to let go, which is why I hate losing something. Still, I think that this change came at the most opportune time.

I may feel sad for seeing my blog without its customized design but I believe that it truly is time for some changes. This blog is just the first to be crossed off a list that I did not know I have.

I love change.

Monday, August 2, 2010

R.I.P., Uncle Benny

Msgr. Gabino Lerin Y Macapala (1946-2010)
by Msgr. Boy Nunag

Six decades and four years ago, on February 19, 1946 was born to Teodoro and Jesusa Macapala of Mocpoc Sur, Sandingan Island, Loon, Bohol, a child, Gabino, fondly called Benny, fifth of eight siblings, with Paterno, Demetrio, Donato and Mariano his elder brothers, Then Tito, Gloria, and Lourdes, his younger brother and sisters.

Benny, graduating as valedictorian from Mocpoc Elementary School, proceeded for secondary studies at the Sacred Heart Academy, Loon, Bohol. Then pursuing a dream nurtured by a traditionally religious home and community he enrolled at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary for Philosophy, graduating on April 8, 1971, after which he was promoted for Theology to the Seminario Maior de San Carlos, Cebu City, where he graduated in 1975, the year he was ordained priest by Bishop Manuel Mascariñas on March 15, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, Tagbilaran City.

In succession he was assigned parochial vicar at the St. Vincent Ferrer Parish, Calape, then at the St. Joseph Cathedral, Tagbilaran City. As parish priest he served the Sto. Niño Parish, Bienunido; Immaculate Conception Parish, Baclayon; Holy Cross Parish, Tubigon; Our Lady of Light Parish, Loon; Our Lady of the Village Parish, and Sta. Cruz Parish, Dao, Tagbilaran City.

Bearing a patented uncomplaining heart, the vow of obedience was a simple matter-of-fact for the low key, non-threatening shepherd, quick to understand and ready to broker peace. An undefatigable parish priest, he took upon himself, aside from the regular routine, the task of blessing all houses in all his parishes, thereby meeting all households in his jurisdiction while affording himself first-hand experience of their actual material and spiritual situation.

Recognizing his pastoral achievements in the vineyard of the Lord, he was among those conferred by Pope John Paul II the title, Honorary Prelate, in the year 2000.

Typically uncomplaining, he, with a hoarse voice, celebrated his last Mass on July 11, 2010 in Dao Church. Admitted at Chong Hua Hospital, he finally a succumed to lung cancer at 5:00 A.M. on July 21, 2010.

After wakes at the Lerin ancestral house in Mocpoc, then Dao Parish and the Bishop's chapel, Msgr. Benny was honored with a special requiem Mass for a priest presided by Bishop Leonardo Medroso with the Paring Bol-anon in concelebration at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on July 29, 2010. His mortal remains now rests at the Necropolis, IHM Seminary compound, Taloto, Tagbilaran City.

Malipayong pagsaka sa Himaya, Msgr. Benny!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Inward Bound

I travel not just to explore the unfamiliar. I travel to rediscover or dig deeper into myself. Not that I'm a seasoned traveler. I rarely go on trips now. But each time I do, I come back where I started from a changed person.

Over the years, and a few trips after, I realized that there's no better way to test one's mettle than to travel alone. And by alone I mean single-handedly managing arrangements and troubleshooting glitches that happen long before I stepped out of the house with my luggage.

My recent trip to the Asian Junior Rowing Championships venue taught me more invaluable lessons when it comes to traveling. I rediscovered so much and learned more about myself. What I gained from the entire experience more than compensated for the unforgettable challenges that I've had while preparing for and even during the trip. And below are just some of those:

1. Getting the assignment - I signed up for the Asian Games jury duties in November. I chose that schedule because it was the only time I'm confident that I'd be available to take a leave from work. So it came as a huge surprise when I received the notification for 2010 Asian Rowing Federation event assignments and see my name listed for the Asian Junior Rowing Championships in July.

2. Making the commitment - Since I didn't get the November assignment, I decided to go to the 2010 AJRC just so I could keep my license current. My last international umpiring stint was in 2008 at the Asian Olympic Qualifying in Shanghai. I felt that it's about time I end the two-year hiatus. It's time I do what I do while gaining fascinating experiences in the process.

3. Experiencing rebooking woes - I immediately booked a direct flight to G leaving on July 19th and returning on July 26th. I emailed the schedule to the contact person from the organizing committee only to receive a reply that all international technical officials (ITOs) are expected on the 18th. I was beginning to feel disappointed at this time but managed to block the thought. I thought that surely I'd be able to find my way through haze that the lack of clear instructions created. Little did I know that I'd be rebooking once more less than three days before I leave.

4.Failing to expect the unexpected - If there's one key lesson I learned from this trip it was to never, ever, assume. I was too confident that I'd have no problems getting the visa since I've been to that country more than a few times already. In all my previous trips there, I never once had any visa-related problems. Clearly, I was in the wrong to assume. Two weeks before the trip, I sent my visa application forms to my aunt in Manila asking her to please find someone to process it for me. She did find a messenger that can submit the form for me and I thought that I'd get my visa after four days. But therein lurked the perils of making assumptions. And thus began the stressful days of worrying over my visa.

5. Pouring is an understatement - It's true that when it rains it pours, both literally and figuratively. After the messenger's repeated attempts to submit my visa application proved futile, I finally decided to leave for Manila earlier than scheduled. I had to so I can personally process my visa. It was also only around this time that I received the official invitation (aka visa notification form) from the organizers. I asked permission from my boss to leave earlier than scheduled, rebooked my Manila-bound flight, and got ready to leave. I was at the airport 5:00am of July 14 to catch the first flight to Manila. The plan was to head straight to the consular office to process my visa application. With two days rush service, I was sure I'd get my visa by Friday. But the weather had other plans for me. My flight was cancelled due to Typhoon Basyang that battered Manila. I scrambled to get a seat to the next possible flight, which was at 2:05pm. I waited. And waited some more after more delays and finally got to leave Davao at past 6:00pm. One day less to rush my visa application.

6. Walking on sunshine - Though the sun has long set, I felt like I was walking on sunshine the minute I deplaned. Maybe it's because I felt relieved I'm on solid ground once more after a rough flight or that I have three treasured friends at the airport waiting for me. My sis Daisy's flight from Cebu arrived a few minutes after mine, my friend Chalyn is already waiting for me at the arrival's area, and my brod Richard is on his way to pick me up. I couldn't think of a better way to start my Manila sojourn except to see the faces of closest friends I truly miss. The fact that most of Metro Manila was still in system-wide blackout then didn't diminish my happiness. I was also eagerly looking forward to my scheduled meet-ups with dearest friends Anna Liese and Mark E.

7. Clearing through one hurdle - I was supposed to leave on July 18 but it was already July 15 and I still don't have a visa. My friend Chalyn was kind enough to go with me to the Consular Office to provide moral support while I submit my visa application. I didn't know what to expect but I certainly felt relieved when they accepted my application form without the fuss that the messenger had to deal with. Still, I was a day too late. They can't release the visa until July 19 (Monday), which meant I had to rebook again.

8. Walking around with luggage in tow - Monday came and I was off to Makati early. I had my luggage with me when I claimed my visa and when I processed my tax exemption at the Department of Tourism. It was the first time that I was off to a trip with a super tight schedule stressing me out. Although at that time, stress was a word I wouldn't even dare entertain. I needed all my wits and energy with me as I set off for my trip.

9. Finding what I needed within - The trip to HK went smoothly. But I couldn't say the same for the following stage of my journey. I originally planned to take the train to G. But I found out after I rebooked that my new flight schedule doesn't give me enough time to catch the last trip. So I emailed the organizers that I'd be going by bus. I managed to find book a ticket on the bus scheduled to leave at the time I specified to the organizers. The bus trip turned out to be quite an experience. Border controls, changing of buses, etc. stretched the three-hour trip to four. I arrived in G past midnight only to realize that there's no bus station to speak of. The bus just goes around a certain route until everyone gets off. And since I'm the last and I couldn't even begin to make myself understood by the driver, I was dropped off at a well-lit place with lots of taxis around. I was finally in G but with no idea how to get to the hotel since I only have the address of the venue. My phone battery died on me, I had no phone card, no sign of the liaison officer who should be picking me up, and no hotel address to give to the taxi drivers who can't understand a word I'm saying. A lady taxi driver finally took pity on me and after a few sign language we agreed that she should take me to the airport. I just thought that it was the safest place for me to go since I can't seem to find anyone who can understand or speak English. And so I spent the few remaining hours left before sunrise at the airport lounge.

10. Hitting the ground running - As soon as the shops opened at the airport, I went straight to foreign exchange booth to have my money changed then bought a phone card. I called the organizers, who thankfully answered the phone this time. I was too drained to feel anything other than relief to realize that I'd soon be where I'm supposed to be. Being lost in an unfamiliar place and not being able to communicate with anyone was a novel experience. One that kept me on my toes and my senses on full alert. But there was no relief for the weary. Since the event officially started that morning, I had to go straight to the venue, change to my uniform, and start with jury duties. I was so grateful that I wasn't assigned on the umpire boat for I feared I'd fall off since I felt dizzy for lack of sleep. I don't know how I managed it but I did survive the first day of races running on near empty. Fortunately the first day of competition finished early so I had the whole afternoon to catch some much needed sleep.

Things finally settled down when I was finally with the other jury members/umpires. After all the excitement of the previous days, I felt that things were falling into place. And I'm happy to say that indeed, despite the upheavals this trip caused me, I was exactly where I had to be.

I rediscovered the strength and will that reaffirmed my belief in myself. I also discovered that I have it in me to sift through the tumult swirling around me and to let the bad things slide. And I realized once more that some things are really worth all the pain.

I had the most fun assignments in this umpiring stint. Control commission during the first day of event, umpire boat 1 on day 2, and starter during the two days of final races. Embracing the challenge of it all was truly enriching.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Anyhow I’m fine. I mean, not that I’m over it, but little by little it’s getting easier to pretend it’s easier, which means easier might be right around the corner. ~ Gilmore Girls

SOTD: Sam Isaac - Bears

There's something about this song that gets to me. Maybe it's that feeling that something clicks but I can't even begin to explain why. I do tend to gravitate towards those kinds of things. And frankly, a lot of times, it is much easier to stop decoding and just let things be.

(heard in Chuck, 3.04)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Prayer is a Time to Reconnect

I love reading the "Lighthouse of Prayer Reflection" leaflets that are left for churchgoers to get alongside the Sunday service programs. Today though, I find the message particularly meaningful especially since this week has become a time of reconnecting with a lot of important people and things.

So here's me thanking God and the universe for making it possible for me to reconnect with:

-dear friends who I haven't seen for a while
-the church community after a few Sundays of missing services
-and more importantly, of reconnecting with relatives who I haven't seen for some time now.

Here's to more days of reconnecting in faith, prayer, and love.

lifted from the Lighthouse of Prayer Reflection, UCCP (July 4-10, 2010)

This is what we usually do: "When we isolate, everything becomes magnified. Minor setbacks become major catastrophes. We may even think that people who don't go out of their way to become our friends are actually plotting against us. What's the answer? Connecting! By connecting, we are able to see that our monsters are only knee-high, and most of our fears are just product of our imagination." No wonder God said, "It is not good to be alone" (Genesis 2:18 NIV). Every human needs to reconnect to his/her Creator and to fellow being.

If you suffer from an overdose of self-sufficiency, consider this thought-provoking poem by Charles H. Towne. "Around the corner I have a friend, in this great city that had no end. Yet days go by and weeks rush on, and before I know it, a year is gone. And I never see my old friend's face, for life is a swift and terrible race. He knows I like him just as well, as in the days when I rang his bell. And he rang mine - we were younger then; but now we are tired, busy men. Tired of playing a foolish game, tired of trying to make a name. 'Tomorrow', I say, 'I'll call on Jim, and let him know that I'm thinking of him.' But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes, and the distance between us grows and grows. Around the corner, yet miles away, then comes the news... Jim died today! And that's what we get, and deserve in the end, around the corner - a vanished friend!"

It's time to reconnect with people in your life who really matter! It's time to reconnect to God in prayer!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ultimate Dreams

I rarely dream in my sleep, which is probably why I find it unsettling to have recurring ones. When something plays in my head it's hard not to deconstruct. But the thing is, some things are beyond deconstructing. I'm thinking maybe sometimes, there are things that I'm not meant to understand.

I used to wonder about chasing pavements. Now, a part of me seems to be chasing dreams that I dare not overanalyze. As my brod said, no use thinking about what's not there especially if it's something that would just make me long for what I couldn't have.

I Could Do With A Little Insensitivity

I could do with a little insensitivity. It's not just because I'm a sensitive person by nature but rather, I do get tired of taking bullets for caring too much. I remember my last one-on-one with a boss who I greatly admire. I think it was a testament to her people skills that she got me sticking around far longer than I intended to. She told me that I always, always, take the bullet for others. And then she asked if I ever did think about if the same people would do the same for me. She said something that really stuck in my mind. She told me that perhaps it is time I should think about myself.

It's been a year and I'm still mulling about what she said. I think that the moment she uttered those words to me something shifted. I don't know if it led me to an epiphany or if it made an impact enough to change me. All I know is, the message stuck in my head and resurfaces from time to time. And it makes me think that maybe, just maybe, it's some sort of a catalyst that's changing me right at this very moment.

I'm not sure about many things in this life. And that's probably the reason why I love living it. The uncertainty is like a big adventure that brings me both the good and the bad that never fail to stretch me. If there's something I can be proud of is that I get by whatever life throws at me. I accept things as they are because my faith sustains me.

I have faith. I have passion. I believe. The three things I live by never failed to cushion every fall and strengthened me to get back up every single time. But I think what makes me overcome life's curveballs is the conviction that I'm sincere in whatever I choose to do. And I don't believe in putting others down just to get ahead.

I never did please many people because it's not just the way I'm wired. I've never been good in sugarcoating truths and insults. I'm brutally honest and I can be very straightforward with the truth. To the uninformed and the misinformed, I can be all the things the people who hate me say about me. And I'd be dishonest to say that I don't care because I do.

I do care about what people say about me especially if they're those I care about in my own quiet way. Looking back, the people who hurt me most were the same ones I've quietly moved my own little mountains for. Maybe that's why sensitivity rears its ugly head. I'm only human to feel that I deserve better.

Lately, I'm thinking how the past year showed me who my real friends are. And the experience further made me realize that judging people by their personality does not make one a better person. It's how one discovers the character that hides behind diverse trappings that defines the kind of person he or she is.

I could do with a little, no... more I think, insensitivity. Insensitivity to care less and to refrain from throwing myself out to a hail of bullets for those who least deserve it.

(photo from somewhere on the Internet)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ang munti ko ring pangarap

"Minsan (o sige na nga, madalas), ang naiisip ko lang: Kahit anong klase ng buhay ang meron at magkakaroon ako, isa lang naman talaga ang gusto kong constant: ang magbasa ng magagandang libro/magazines at the end of each day. Masaya na ako dun, pramis. Kung ‘di pa ‘yan ang tinatawag na payak na pangarap, ewan ko na lang." ~ Mayee Corpin

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A glimpse beyond the big B’s of Philippine sports

It is ironic that many athletes still manage to shine even when a more unified and well-supported sports for all program remains to be a dream. Amateur and professional sports produced the likes of Paeng Nepomuceno, Efren “Bata” Reyes, and Manny Pacquiao to name a few. However, away from the spotlight of more popular sports there are individuals and groups that breathe life to a severely malnourished sports framework.

Sports in the Filipino mindset are usually focused on the Big B’s such as basketball, billiards, boxing, and badminton. The popularity gained by these sports give them the distinct advantage in generating more resources for promotion and development. Consequently, the continuous increase in support opens doors to an extensive list of expertise like coaching, technical training, and sports medicine. It is not surprising then that these are the sports that either put the country into the global sports map or attract more members at the grassroots level.

There are, however, other sports that increasingly appeal to people from all walks of life. Running keeps on gaining more prominence. Runners and running clubs are growing in numbers. In fact, it is hard to miss individuals and groups out for their daily morning or evening runs.

The continuous growth of running for fitness or competition is a positive turn in promoting sports for all in the country. The fact that thousands of people pursue it for leisure or competition signifies that Filipinos are eager to embrace sports to achieve a healthier lifestyle. And if the weekly fun runs, road races, and marathons are to be used as gauge then running is undoubtedly successful in reaching out to people from diverse backgrounds and age groups.

Another sport with a thriving community of active members is dragon boat. Since the sport was introduced in Manila during the late 1980’s its membership increased exponentially. It also managed to make its mark in the global dragon boat scene by producing world champions courtesy of its national athletes.

Like running, the grassroots activities of dragon boat are self-sustained. Imagine then what a solid and financially-backed grassroots program can accomplish if a meager government budget allocation produce champions locally and internationally. Having a wide base of potential recruits can make talent identification for the national pool of athletes easier.

The other side of Philippine sports relies not only on financial support but also in the environment. Sport and the environment is a program that needs to be promoted. Promoting the sport of rowing in its base is a case in point. Over the years, the Pasig River is home to various rowing club teams. But the dismal state of the river is not exactly the most ideal venue for training. However, student and corporate athletes commit to training regularly because of their passion for the sport. The sport even managed to qualify two of its national athletes in the Olympics.

Running, dragon boat, and rowing are just some of the many sports being promoted in the country. Perhaps it is an under-appreciated fact that each national sports association work towards elevating the status of their respective sports both in the elite and grassroots level.

A lot of things are said to point out the many shortcomings of sports leaders and institutions tasked to advocate, develop, and promote sports in the country. Over the years, sports development in its entirety can be described as inadequate or sluggish at best. Maybe it is because it just did not enjoy the kind of unified support from different sectors.

To compare overall performance with powerhouse countries in the region is highly unfair for those who are passionate and committed to working for the betterment of Philippine sports. There is only so much that a meager budget can do to sustain an ailing sports framework.

The best contribution Filipinos can make to support the country’s sports program is to find opportunities to participate or encourage others to do so. There are more to Philippine sports than what we frequently read or hear about and watch on television. Beyond the fame and popularity of certain sports there are different disciplines that aim to bring more pride to our country.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Making my vote count

Today is election day and it took me seven hours to cast my vote. In a sense the long wait wasn't really that bad. The weather cooperated. It was drizzling since morning so the cool breeze was a welcome relief from the El Niño heat. The voting process was a challenge but just the same, people opted to stay no matter how long the wait.

In retrospect, here are some of the random thoughts and observations I had while waiting for all of seven hours:

"Disorganized" happens
It's the first time that the country's using an automated voting system so certain problems are to be expected. But there are processes outside of the automation that could benefit from even a small semblance of order.

I was at the precinct around 7:30am. I was expecting a line but I was surprised by how disorganized the system was in the school where I voted. It was difficult to find the tables per cluster that serve designated precincts. The signs were posted in front of the tables, which were not visible especially with the crowd gathered around them. Simply making the signs visible would have made a difference.

Additionally, I had the misfortune of queuing at what seemed to be the most disorderly line. The volunteer in charge of the table was overwhelmed by the sheer number and demands of the people. I couldn't blame him though especially when he got all the blame even for some things beyond his control.

Accept the unexpected
The queue disappeared by 8:00am and it was practically free for all from then on. Everyone wanted to be first. I was supposed to be among those who lined up early for the priority number. I clearly saw when a volunteer wrote my name on a brown sheet of paper, which was purportedly "the list".

Two hours after, my name was still not called. After asking the volunteer, I learned that the list was missing and they couldn't do anything to produce it. So after two hours of waiting for nothing, I had to crawl through the mass of people who were not budging away from the table to have my name listed again. By this time I was feeling particularly frustrated and helpless.

From then on, it was mostly a matter of waiting. I spent the hours watching people and listening to their stories. I figured I can't complain especially after seeing the old and infirmed going through the same ordeal. It was actually one of my frustrations early on, how there seemed to be no system to assist them. It was good to see later on that they're prioritizing senior citizens and those with disabilities at the actual voting precincts. I only wish they did it earlier. Thank God the weather was fine otherwise it would really be harder for them.

Leave no trash behind
I think as mature voting adults everyone should be responsible enough not to leave trash behind. It's kind of sad to see so many garbage left for others to clean up. I just hope that cleaning those mess doesn't take up even a portion of students' class hours.

I'm curious as to who are the candidates who'll make an effort to help with clean-up even long after the spotlight dimmed. The amount of garbage that accumulated since campaign started is unbelievable. And the few hours of voting today produced a mountain of trash that nobody seemed to be making an effort to manage.

Today, many people exercised their right to vote regardless of the circumstances. There were moments earlier when a part of me just wanted to go home and be done with it. But I stayed. Like the many others I saw in that school. And I think I had it easy. Teachers and volunteers endured more than I did in that seven hours I waited.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Random Musings of a Rowing Umpire

I think the value of something is often measured by stories it weaves in our lives. It is about life-changing moments that come not with fanfare but quietly in infinite seconds that touch and never let go. That is how it all started for me, my umpiring life.

I'm still not sure if it's a good thing or not that I didn't plan to be an umpire. It's just one of those sheer luck that happened when I grabbed the chance to attend a seminar in preparation for a Southeast Asian Games (SEAG). I did not do well in the national umpiring practical exam because I ended up on probationary status. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. See, I initially didn't put much thought about the whole thing until the result jolted me into realizing that I wanted to do better.

My first umpiring stint was as a national umpire for the Manila SEA Games. I almost passed up that chance to perform jury duties because I was swamped with my commitments with the Philippine SEAG's organizing committee's Accreditation and Wushu Federation Philippines' organizing group. Then I remembered I wanted to do better. The only way I can do that was if I gain real experience outside of the simulated race we all took during the practical exam.

So there I was going through my own version of hell week in December 2005. For days I shuttled from Manila to La Mesa Dam in Quezon City then back to Manila again to attend to my seemingly endless responsibilities. There was no time to think about the soundness of spreading myself thin like that, there was only the focus and commitment I gave that somehow got me through, albeit more tired but definitely happy.

I learned a lot in those few days I was out in the water doing jury duties. National umpires, especially newbies, like me were given lighter responsibilities than the FISA umpires who served as technical officials. I spent most of my time in my own little island at the 1000m mark recording the time of rowers as they pass by. My closest neighbors were on pontoons 500m up to my left and down to my right. Standing or sitting for hours on end on that pontoon made me appreciate a lot of things, including the value of being still and the inexplicable joy of drawing nature's energy if I took the time to feel it.

Two months after the SEAG, I took the FISA licensure exam. I've heard stories that FISA exams are tough and the passing rates are frequently low. And judging from my last performance in the national umpiring exams, I was not very confident about my chances. Despite my misgivings, I took a chance. I guess it was the masochist in me that still pushed me to go ahead and give it a shot.

The series of exams were tough for me. I'm usually good at exams excepting those involving Math, Chemistry, and Physics. The rest, I can breeze or squeeze through either with ample preparation or sheer luck. But at that time, I couldn't even hazard an optimistic guess if I'd pass

I remember that time while we were waiting for the results of both the written and practical exams. A co-national umpire suddenly blurted out that he swears he's not taking the exam again for a while if he failed. It was surprising and funny when he said it. He always had been the one everyone thought to have the greatest chance of passing the exam. Hearing him say what he said made me breathe a sigh of relief.

I think it was then that I began to accept the possibility that I might fail. I was not being a pessimist about the whole thing. It was just that, everyone who takes the FISA umpiring exam only gets two chances. Failing both times means being banned from taking the test again, ever. Somehow, it was an experience I was not eager to repeat anytime soon.

The wait for the final results was filled with both relief and trepidation. Relief that it was all finally over and trepidation that we didn't make it.

I was the third to the last called for the meeting/interview with the two FISA umpires who conducted the exam. Everyone before me came back with the news that they did not make the cut. As each one came back, my confidence further took a plunge.

When it was my turn to go to the room I was more or less prepared to hear the worst. And I think that was the reason why I felt like I was in a haze when the interview began that I didn't immediately grasp when they told me I passed. It was when they handed me the badge that I began to fully understand what it meant.

It turned out that the three of us left for the interview somehow made it through those series of tests. One of whom was the one who made the comment about not taking the test again if he fails. Thinking about our journey and what we went through made me realize the value of what I just got.

Four years after I got my license and badge, I still feel as passionate about this whole thing. We do long hours, spend money for airfares and other expenses, and go through both the good and bad experiences that come with being an umpire. Still, I love what we do and what we aspire to achieve with what we do.

Being a jury/umpire makes me think of these things:

1. The Roles We Play. - Each one of us has an important role to play in whatever it is that we do. Some excel in playing, some do their magic in organizing, some provide whatever help they can by volunteering, some provide the funds to make things happen, some like the spectators motivate everyone, and the list goes on. Bottom line, whatever our roles in life matter in the bigger scheme of things.

2. Passion. Believe. Faith. - Three words that I live by. The passion to pursue what the heart desires regardless of how inane or grand it may seem. The belief in the inherent goodness of things and in infinite possibilities. And the faith that all things that happen somehow fit flawlessly into the tapestry of life I'm meant to live.

3. Safety and Fair Play. - Every rowing umpire's mantra revolves around those two goals. We take our role seriously in ensuring the safety of every competitor and giving everyone a sporting chance by promoting fair play. I think these two principles apply everyday regardless of what we do. Thinking of our personal safety and those of others as well as treating people fairly are simple but meaningful aspirations in life.

4. I just love them FISA umpires. - Even until now it never ceases to amaze me how dedicated and professional my colleagues are. Umpiring is more often than not a thankless job. And yet, to see such passion and commitment from people I meet in my umpiring stints inspire me to always do and give my best.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why You Have To Do What You Have To Do

Being stuck in a rut is probably one of the most disrupting moments in life. It is a time steeped with uncertainties that create different reactions from people. Very few people feel comfortable to wake up one day standing on not so solid ground. Control freak or not, people prefer some things to work out as planned.

However, it is often during moments of being stuck that the resolve to break free from the crippling feeling emerges. It is a time when a window of opportunity appears and challenges you to do what you have to do to unstuck yourself.

In everything, you do what you have to do. Actions create results that directly or indirectly shape your life. But most of what is done in life is fairly intuitive. Sometimes you do not give much thought to doing them. What usually happens is that you start out learning things then later move on towards mastering them.

The problem with mastery is that it leads to a kind of familiarity that undermines your ability to see certain things in different perspectives. Things like routines thrive on familiarity. What is passionately started sometimes turn into a mind-numbing pursuit. It is not surprising that there are many things you can do in autopilot.

You are lucky if you are among those who do not experience how it is to feel stuck. But if you find yourself sensing that you are headed into the same predicament it helps to see it from a different vantage point. Maybe a rut is just meant to shake you from a stupor induced by automacity.

Conscious effort to pay attention to the minute changes in the way you do things helps you catch telltale signs of veering towards “being stuck”. Self-awareness prepares you to react quickly to subtle signs of shifts in your perspectives and ways of doing things.

It is when you feel like you are not moving towards the direction of your dreams that a part of you begins to yearn for more. You are meant to do what your heart desires. Even if your desire is to achieve machine-like perfection, you need to at least enjoy pursuing that goal. You are not meant to block the things that make you feel most alive.

Everyone is meant to live, not merely throb and thrive like a machine. You may be ultra capable at what you do but if you are not careful you might start acting like an efficient contraption. Imagine being excellent at churning out impressive outputs but sadly devoid of feelings that make you feel alive.

The people who seem most adept with steering away from falling into deep holes are those who are passionate about what they do. The excitement and inspiration continue to manifest even amidst difficult times. There is a sense of awareness and connection that prevents automaticity from completely taking over. Perhaps the best thing to do when you feel stuck is to remember the things that give you most reasons to be happy.

You have to do what you have to do. Whether it is writing, singing, acting, dancing, playing sports, etc., do it. Then give it all you got. Be aware of every minute and feel every emotion when you are doing the things you love to do.

You owe yourself a life. Do not let the demands and responsibilities of "living" stand in the way of your ability to create something that is meant to be seen or felt in this world.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reconnecting with nature through sports

Sports that require a significant amount of time outdoors is a good platform for environmental education. The setting can be a park playground, a clearing, a running trail with lots of trees around and a lake or reservoir. Spending time outside to play brings with it plenty of opportunities to see the beauty of nature that no lessons inside the four corners of a classroom can teach.

As technology made it easier and preferable for people to stay indoors, more problems attributed to nature deficit disorder emerged. Staying indoors to play became a safer alternative in urban communities where there are no access to parks and sports clubs. Technological advancements made it possible for a wide array of interesting activities to occupy people’s time. Even the social aspect of play was addressed by online games that enable interactions with other virtual players. But one aspect that the best of technology cannot simulate is the experience of being close to nature and the attendant lessons it brings.

I used to be ambivalent about the environment issues. However, years of training as a dragon boat athlete and my current role as a rowing umpire gave me a treasure trove of memories that include beautiful sunrises, clear skies and lush trees. I have paddled in different bodies of water, each one unique and nestled in breathtaking landscapes. I have umpired in places that made me yearn to see more of the amazing sights I am sure the world has to offer.

It is hard not to feel blessed when I am outdoors. Nature often shares its energy to me, giving me the much-needed strength to perform. I think this is a feeling shared by those who engage in sports whether for fitness or competition. More than the endorphins, more than the camaraderie and friendships, more than the satisfaction of going beyond limits - sports offers a lot of opportunities to commune with nature.

It more than makes sense, therefore, why the International Olympic Committee has included sport and the environment as one of the pillars of the Olympic Movement. It even revised its mission and role to include the following:
“to encourage and support responsible concern for environmental issues, to promote sustainable development in sport and to require that the Olympic Games are held accordingly…”
Sporting activities rely heavily on the environment. Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredericks simplified the connection when he said, “I breathe at least twice as deeply when I’m running. Air pollution is a threat to my health and my physical performance” (UNEP 2005).

In the Philippines alone, the rowing team feels the weight of the sorry state of Pasig River. Around the world, athletes are feeling the effects of climate change, which is perhaps one of the reasons why sports luminaries and organizations are actively campaigning to help raise awareness on environmental issues and promote sustainable development.

Apart from the efforts of these sports personalities, there is also an increasing involvement from the grassroots level. The grassroots is an untapped goldmine that can really help turn the tide against pressing problems such as climate change. It is at this level that children at play can learn the important relationship of sports and the environment. It is where clubs can be a rich resource of volunteers for various environment-related projects and initiatives.

The environmental issues are big and complicated that sometimes it is natural to feel helpless just thinking if there is something that one individual can do to effect change. Fortunately, I have my sport that reminds me how beautiful and precious the environment is. It inspires me to contribute in small ways and make lifestyle changes that are in sync with my beliefs. It also makes me appreciate the efforts of individuals and groups to campaign for a sustainable environment.

The world is a big and beautiful playground. I think appreciating it begins with really seeing and experiencing its beauty. Play time is nature time. Now, more than ever, is a good time to stand up, go out, and play.


Blog originally posted here.

(Photo by Chalyn Bueta)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tales of passion by Isabel Allende

Amazing speech by an amazing woman. I'm a fan and The House of the Spirits is a personal favorite. There are several scenes in that book I love. Listening to this speech makes me feel that I now understand where she's coming from.

Thank you so much. It's really scary to be here among the smartest of the smart. I'm here to tell you a few tales of passion. There's a Jewish saying that I love, "What is Truer than Truth? Answer: The Story."

I'm a story teller. I want to convey something that is truer than truth about our common humanity. All stories interest me and some haunt me until i end up writing them. Certain themes keep coming up, justice, loyalty, violence, death, political and social issues...freedom.

I'm aware of the mystery around us so I write about coincidences, premonitions, emotions, dreams, the power of nature, magic. In the last 20 years, I have published a few books but I have lived in anonymity until February of 2006 when I carried the Olympic Flag in the Winter Olympics in Italy. That made me a celebrity. Now people recognize me in Macy's and my grandchildren think that I'm cool.

Allow me to tell you about my four minutes of fame. One of the organizers of their Olympics Ceremony, of the Opening Ceremony, call me and said that I had been selected to be one of the flag bearers. I replied that surely this was a case of mistaken identity because I'm as far as you can get from being an athlete. Actually I wasn't even sure that I can go around the stadium without a walker.

I was told that this was no laughing matter. This would be the first time that only women would carry the Olympic Flag. Five women representing five continents and three Olympic Gold medal winners.

My first question was naturally, "What was I going to wear?". "A uniform," she said and asked for my measurements. My measurements. I had a vision of myself in a fluffy Anorak looking like the Michelin man.

By the middle of February, I found myself in Turin where enthusiastic crowds cheered when any of the 80 Olympic teams was in the street. Those athletes had sacrificed everything to compete in the Games. They all deserved to win. But there's the element of luck. A speck of snow, an inch of ice, the force of the wind, can determine the results of a race or a game. However, what matters most; more than training or luck is the heart. Only a fearless and determined heart will get the Gold medal.

It is all about passion. The streets of Turin were covered with red posters announcing the slogan of the Olympics. Passion lives here.

Isn't it always true? Heart is what drives us and determines our fate. That is what I need for my characters in my books. A passionate heart. I need mavericks, dissidents, adventurers, outsiders and rebels who ask questions, bend the rules and take risks. People like all of you in this room. Nice people with common sense do not make interesting characters. They only make good former spouses.

In the green room of the stadium, I met the other flag bearers. Three athletes and the actresses Susan Sarandon and Sophia Loren. Also two women with passionate hearts.

Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Prize winner from Kenya who has planted 30 million trees and by doing so she has changed the soil, the weather in some places in Africa and of course the economic conditions in many villages.

And Somaly Mam, a Cambodian activist who fights passionately against child prostitution. When she was fourteen years old her grandfather sold her to a brothel. She told us of little girls raped by men who believe that having sex with a very young virgin will cure them from AIDS. And of brothels where children were forced to receive fifteen clients per day and if they rebel they are tortured with electricity.

In the green room I received my uniform. It was not the kind of outfit that I normally wear but it was far from the Michelin man suit that I had anticipated. Not bad, really. I looked like a refrigerator. But so did most of the flag bearers except Sophia Loren, the universal symbol of beauty and passion.

Sophia is over seventy. She looks great. She's sexy, slim and tall, with a deep tan. Now how can you have a deep tan and have no wrinkles? I don't know. When asked in a TV interview how could she look so good. She replied, "Posture". My back is always straight and I don't make old people's noises.

So there you have, some free advice from one of the most beautiful women on earth. No grunting, no coughing, no wheezing, no talking to yourselves, no farting. But, she didn't say that exactly.

At some point around midnight we were summoned to the wings of the stadium and the loud speakers announced the Olympic Flag and the music started. By the way, the same music that starts here - the Aida march.

Sophia Loren was right in front of me. She's a foot taller than I am, not counting the poufy hair. She walked elegantly, like a giraffe on the African Savana, holding the flag on her shoulder. I jogged behind. On my tiptoes. Holding the flag on my extended arm. So that my head was actually under the damned flag.

All the cameras were of course on Sophia. That was fortunate for me because in most press photos I appear too, although often between Sophia's legs. A place where most men would love to be.

The best four minutes of my entire life were those in the Olympic stadium. My husband is offended when I say this, although I have explained to him that what we do in private usually takes less than four minutes. So he shouldn't take it personally.

I have all the press clippings of those four magnificent minutes because I don't want to forget them when old age destroys my brain cells. I want to carry it in my heart forever. The keyword of the Olympics. Passion.

So here's a tale of passion. The year's 1998. The place is a prison camp for Tutsi refugees in Congo. By the way, 80% of all refugees and displaced people in the world are women and girls. We can call displaced in Congo a death camp because those who are not killed will die of disease or starvation.

The protagonists of this story are a young woman, Rose Mapendo, and her children. She's pregnant and a widow. Soldiers have forced her to watch as her husband was tortured and killed. Somehow, she manages to keep her seven children alive and a few months later, she gives birth to premature twins - two tiny, little boys. She cuts their umbilical cords with a stick and ties it with her own hair. She names the twins after the camp's commanders to gain their favor and feeds them with black tea because her milk cannot sustain them.

When the soldiers burst in her cell to rape her oldest daughter, she grabs hold of her and refuses to let go even when they hold a gun to her head. Somehow, the family survives for sixteen months. And then, by extraordinary luck and the passionate heart of a young American man, Sasha Chanoff, who manages to put her in a US rescue plane, Rose Mapendo and her nine children end up in Phoenix, Arizona where they are now living and thriving. Mapendo in Swahili means "great love".

The protagonists of my books are strong and passionate women like Rose Mapendo. I don't make them up. There's no need for that. I look around and I see them everywhere.

I had word with women and for women all my life. I know them well. I was born in ancient times, at the end of the world in a patriarchal, Catholic and conservative family. No wonder that by age five, I was a raging feminist. Although the term had not reached Chile yet so nobody knew what the heck was wrong with me.

I would soon find out that there was a high price to pay for my freedom and for questioning the patriarchy. But I was happy to pay it because for every blow that I received, I was able to deliver two.

Once, when my daughter Paula was in her twenties, she said to me that feminism was dated - that I should move on. We had a memorable fight. Feminism is dated? Yes, for the privileged like my daughter and all of us here today but not for most of our sisters in the rest of the world who are still forced into premature marriage, prostitution, forced labor. They don't have children that they don't want or they cannot feed. They have no control over their bodies or their lives. They have no education and no freedom. They are raped, beaten up and sometimes killed with impunity.

For most western young women of today, being called a feminist is an insult. Feminism has never been sexy but let me assure you that it never stopped me from flirting. And I have seldom suffered from lack of men.

Feminism is not dead by no means. It has evolved. If you don't like the term, change it for God's sake! Call it Aphrodite or Venus or Bimbo or whatever you want. The name doesn't matter as long as we understand what it is about and we support it.

So here's another tale of passion and this is a sad one. The place is a small, women's clinic in a village in
Bangladesh. The year's 2005. Jenny is a young American dental hygienist who has gone to the clinic as a volunteer during her three-week vacation. She's prepared to clean teeth. But when she gets there, she finds out that there are no doctors, no dentists, and the clinic is just a hut full of flies. Outside there's a line of women who have waited several hours to be treated.

The first patient is in excruciating pain because she has several rotten molars. Jenny realizes that the only solution is to pull out the bad teeth. She's not licensed for that. She's never done it. She risks a lot and she's terrified. She doesn't even have the proper instruments. But fortunately, she has brought some Novocaine.

Jenny has a brave and passionate heart. She murmurs and prayer and she goes ahead with the operation. At the end, the relieved patient kisses her hands. That day, the hygienist pulls out many more teeth.

The next morning, when she comes again to the so-called clinic, her first patient is waiting for her with her husband. The woman's face looks like a watermelon. It is so swollen that you can't even see the eyes. The husband, furious, threatens to kill the American. Jenny is horrified at what she has done. But then, the translator explains that the patient's condition has nothing to do with the operation. The day before, her husband beat her up because she was not home in time to prepare dinner for him.

Millions of women live like this today. They are the poorest of the poor. Although women do 2/3 of the world's labor, they own less than 1% of the world's assets. They are paid less than men for the same work, IF they're paid at all. And they remain vulnerable because they have no economic independence and they are constantly threaten by exploitation, violence and abuse.

It is a fact that giving women education, work, the ability to control their own income, inherit and own property benefits the society. If a woman is empowered her children and her family will be better off. If families prosper, the village prospers and eventually so does the whole country.

Wangari Mathaai goes to a village in Kenya. She talks to the women and explains that the land is barren because they have cut and sold the trees. She gets the women to plant new trees and water them, drop by drop. In a matter of five or six years, they have a forest. The soil is enriched and the village is saved.

The poorest and most backward societies are always those that put women down. Yet, this obvious truth is ignored by governments and also by philantrophy. For every dollar given to a woman's program, 20 dollars are given to men's programs.

Women are 51% of humankind. Empowering them will change everything, more than technology and design and entertainment. I can promise you that women working together; linked, informed and educated - can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet.

In any war today, most of the casualties are civilians. Mainly, women and children. They are collateral damage. Men run the world and look at the mess we have. What kind of world do we want? This is a fundamental question that most of us are asking. Does it make sense to participate in the existing world order? We want a world where life is preserved and the quality of life is enriched for everybody. Not only for the privileged.

In January, I saw an exhibit of Fernando Botero's paintings at the UC Berkeley library. No museum or gallery in the United States, except for the New York gallery that carries Botero's work, has dared to show the paintings because the theme is the Abu Ghraib prison. There are huge paintings of torture and abuse of power in the voluminous Botero style. I have not been able to get those images out of my mind or my heart.

What I fear most is power with impunity. I fear abuse of power and the power to abuse. In our specie, the alpha males define reality and force the rest of the pack to accept that reality and follow the rules. The rules change, all the time. But they always benefit them. And in this case, the trickle down effect, which does not work in economics, works perfectly. Abuse trickles down from the top of the ladder to the bottom. Women and children, especially the poor, are at the bottom. Even the most destitute of men have someone they can abuse, a woman or a child.

I'm fed up with the power that a few exert over the many through gender, income, race and class. I think that the time is ripe to make fundamental changes in our civilization. But for real change, we need feminine energy in the management of the world. We need a critical number of women in positions of power and we need to nurture the feminine energy in men. I'm talking about men with young minds of course. Old guys are hopeless, we have to wait for them to die off.

Yes, I would love to have Sophia Loren's long lengs and legendary breasts. But given a choice, I would rather have the warrior hearts of Wangari Mathaai, Somaly Mam, Jenny, and Rose Mapendo. I want to make this world good.Not better, but to make it good. Why not? It is possible. Look around in this room, all this knowledge, energy, talent and technology. Let's get off our fannies, roll up our sleeves and get to work, PASSIONATELY, in creating an almost perfect world.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


A few days back, I wrote about the unscheduled 30-minute daily power interruptions that stretched to one hour after two weeks. Now, we’re on to two hours of outages everyday. That’s something not to be happy about but I think it’s human nature to adapt quickly than the mind can argue. Maybe it’s a matter of survival. After all, in the bigger scheme of things, stressing over brownouts is not worth the years off what’s already a diminishing lifetime.

On the upside, the rotating brownouts are now scheduled. Our part of the town experience it between 1pm to 3pm. It’s the time of the day when having no power seems to magnify the fierce heat of the sun. Still, the schedule helps. It removes the daily concern that it might happen when I’m on the middle of working on something on the computer that I wouldn’t be able to save.

It’s also gratifying to see people do their best to endure and cope. In a span of one month, all of these don’t feel as bad as they initially were. My theory is, it’s natural resilience kicking in. And when it does, the human mind begins to open up and find something funny from even the most difficult situations.

This is why what I overheard earlier made me laugh. In the middle of another outage and sweltering heat, I heard three boys hawking homemade bread. Like good little salespeople they sold their goods with much gusto. Not even the crazy heat made them less enthusiastic in selling their bread.

Boy 1: Putok, init pa! (Putok, still hot!)

Boy 2: Putok, putok! Init pa! Init pa sa adlaw!!! (Putok, putok! Hot! Hotter than the sun!!!)

Boy 3: (echoing Boy #2) Init pa sa adlaw!!! (Hotter than the sun!!!)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Power interrupted

The 30-minute brownouts everyday did not last long. Instead, they stretched to an hour that didn't have a definite schedule. Brownouts are never fun, especially when they happen right when I'm in the middle of working on something on the computer and realized I wasn't able to save everything.

I decided to think of the outage as a daily version of Earth Hour to make the experience more meaningful and less cumbersome. It would help though if these rotating brownouts have definite schedules so we can be prepared and turn off the appliances before the outage strikes. Maybe that part of me that wishes strongly is heavily influenced by my grandmother who told us that sudden power interruptions is bad for some appliances. But regardless if my grandmother's assumptions are true or not, I still think that it would be a whole lot better if we know when to expect these daily power interruptions.

A friend said that the cynical part of herself thinks that the daily outage is social conditioning, that brownouts will occur during the elections. It's not a stretch why some people think that because the timing is really suspect and the conditions are such that never before that a national election depend more on electricity than it does now. The automation has seen to that. This would be one of those scenarios that would be better proven wrong.

On another note, the moon was so beautiful the other day. I was able to appreciate it during another brownout-induced darkness. Sometimes we do need the darkness to appreciate the faintest light.

(Photo from here)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Whatever that was

There was a time when I thought you were the love of my life. Things change.” ~ from Grey’s Anatomy

My version of that would be - “There was a time when there was something that slipped through my layers of self-preservation. By the time I wanted to know whatever that was, it was gone. Things change. But I still wonder.”

Today is one of those days that I’m backreading that story in my head. Maybe someday it will all make sense to me.

Funny how something that didn’t play out, played well while it lasted.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A dog's tale

I watched the remake of Hachiko's story and I can't remember the last time I cried that much for what seems like more than half of the movie. And I wasn't even prepared for it, no boxes of tissues to wipe the tears that took me a while to notice. There's just no going around the heartwarming yet heartbreaking tale of a very loyal dog and a doting master.

I think it's quite fitting to watch this during a love month. Perhaps true love waits and lingers even as a form of ending has come and gone. And a beautiful love between two people can touch lives regardless of how silent and simple it appears to be.

Defying gravity


The Celebrate Humanity campaign is still my most favorite series of Olympic ads ever. I'm looking forward to following whatever news I can of the upcoming Winter Games.

Celebrate Humanity - Giant (Winter)

To be a giant.
This has forever been our passion, this desire to be a giant
Not to stand on one’s shoulders or to have one for a friend.
For these may be fortunate things.
But to be one.
Giants step over barriers that seem never ending.
They conquer mountains that appear insurmountable.
Giants rise above fear.
Triumph over pain.
Push themselves and inspire others.
To be a Giant.
To do Giant things.
To take Giant steps.
To move the world forward.

Cool runnings

"They came out of nowhere. They were the underdogs. No one thought they could win. And…they didn’t. But the world sure loved them for trying. Here’s to the Jamaican Bobsled Team."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I believe, I can

Your Best Trait is Confidence

You are the type of person who just goes for it. Whether you win or lose, you're always happiest when you at least tried.

You are fearless when it comes to failure. You have learned that the key to life is just showing up, so you're always there bright and early.

While you are always doing your best, you have had to let go of what others think of you. You define your own success.

You may disappoint yourself or look stupid sometimes, but you always hold your head high. You know that tomorrow will give you another opportunity to try again.

Thinking out loud

Things I didn't know before today: 1) platelet concentrates are not so easy to come by, depending on which part of the country you’re looking, 2) they can be bought from Phil. Red Cross but there has to be a replacement donor

Things I DO know: 1) I like talking to competent and nice people on the phone, which PRC has &, 2) Dengue really sucks.

I hope my cousin’s bf gets well soon.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I hear you

There’s something to be said about a man who goes straight to the point to try and get what he wants. I think guilelessness is not only refreshing but speaks of respect to another person’s intellect and capacity to see through lies.

To hear for the first time from someone I’ve known for a long time now, and one who rarely resorts to flattery to get what he wants, that he noticed a certain hint of bravery and fearlessness in me really made my day. I’m a woman after all. Flattery, in whatever form sometimes does its work.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The emotional piece of me

I’m a walking emotional piece. If you’re like me and you’ve been repeatedly told that you’re too emotional, chances are you’d begin to hate either the word or yourself for being one.

I cry too much for my own good. My tears well up and flow like rampaging rivers the moment my heart is touched by nature, inspiring acts of selflessness, insightful conversations, meaningful songs, beautiful lines delivered by wise men in movies and books, and so much more. I just feel too much that I sometimes find myself wishing I don’t.

Who wants to be labeled as emotional in situations when you want to be perceived as capable? My experiences taught me being emotional is almost always never a good thing. I also believe it mostly had something to do with how I manage my emotions.

Being emotional for me is like a gunpowder keg I carry around on my backpack that leaves me vulnerable. It’s like walking around with something that with one wrong move would blow me up to pieces.

If there’s something I find ironic with this character imprint it’s the stony way I handle the worst crises. I’ve been through the most difficult situations imaginable without shedding a single tear. I can suffer physical blows from martial arts training, row even with my hands and fingers chafed with blisters, finish long distance runs even if my knees and feet are screaming with pain, running on empty to finish something just because quitting is not an option, and more unbelievably harsh conditions I can remember.

I cry for what’s often perceived to be the most mundane reasons. I feel too much for people who don’t even know I do. Maybe I care too much for my own good. Or maybe, being emotional is my salvation. It’s a constant reminder that there are things I care about for me to feel something. I sometimes think that my strength to unflinchingly endure the worst needs the emotional part of me to better understand the things I otherwise wouldn’t grasp.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Vanilla twilight in the waking hours of dawn

Drenched in vanilla twilight in the waking hours of dawn…somewhat appropriate for a vivid dream that convinced me there is no such thing as fading away. There’s only that constant swinging between the shadows and silence of the heart and the spotlight of the mind.

Failure and Imagination

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

"Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared."(Read full text of speech here)

>> I love her way of weaving the light & heavy into one (or more) sticky message(s).