Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Fil-Ams don’t want bad news?

March 15, 2009

“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to excape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” —-Nadia Comaneci, Olympic gymnastics gold medalist

According to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York, Filipinos residing in the USA would rather hear good news from the Philippines. Yes, we like to have the positives rather than the negatives each time we talk about the motherland. But what if there is a dearth of good news? Do we have to dodge the country’s toxic news and focus only on the good ones?

No matter how much we want to escape reality, it’s always there to challenge us. This is probably what happened when Fil-Am community leaders across the United States engaged themselves in dialogues with visiting Philippine officials—-saying that they want good news, wanting the bad ones in the back burner. For so long, everybody knows our problems. They’re all over the media for us to solve.

“We thought we would be faced with disbelief and confronted with hard questions, but we were pleasantly surprised that our kababayan [compatriots] here would rather hear the positive developments in the Philippines. Our team was ready to clarify even the negative news, but no one raised them,” the report quoted Edgardo Pamintuan, presidential adviser on external affairs—Inquirer (03/16/09, Balana, C).

We seem to vent a very common reaction. Most of us don’t want to be bogged down by depressing news—problems that are entrenched, those that have little chance of being solved quickly.

In America, we have our own worries to tackle in addition to those we left behind back home. That’s why. Yet, being selective of what we want to do may lead to detachment, more apathy, and lack of care for the country. If we don’t bravely focus on hard truths, we won’t be able to advance ahead. We have serious problems that we must not ignore. As someone once said, “the best way to escape a problem is to solve it.” (Photo Credit: Mineke_Reinders; Akira_Minh)


Charles Dickens’ Artful Dodger comes to life in Barbara Ricafrente’s short story

January 20, 2009

Despite his poverty, Awil had a happy disposition. He had neither expectations nor goals. He did not bother to get employment anywhere, join his peasant neighbors reap palay for local landowners during the harvest season, weave weed baskets for local middlemen in the lean months like his neighbors did, or sell rice biscuits or puto in nearby cities for extra income. He simply lived each day as it came.”—Manuel (01/20/09, Ricafrente, B)

The colorful sketch of Manuel’s life (Awil) by Ibalon’s Bambi Ricafrente resurrected my memory of Artful Dodger, the smart petty robber in Charles Dicken’s moving story of Oliver Twist (1838). The clever pubescent Dodger introduced gullible Oliver into the world of stealing headed by the old merry patron Fagin in the dark dingy slums of London.

Yet, the similarity of Manuel’s life to the pickpockets in the squalid backstreets of the 19th century England abruptly ends. I learn there is more to Awil’s thievery than what meets the eye. Bambi describes an extended and complex life that is curiously worth learning from.

In an ill-descript Bicol town, Awil has to wrestle with fate and intergenerational circumstantial snags that shape adaptation and dampen acrimony against the changes of the seasons. His life and that of Artful Dodger and Oliver Twist seem intertwined. In all of them, the antagonism between good and evil must really be fought relentlessly until the last.

If one stands on Awil’s shoe, the forbearance to survive pulsates at a rate and vibrancy of a baby’s racy heart. His story tells of the struggles of ordinary people—those who are fallen and redeemed. Awil’s imperfect life isn’t far from what the Catholic preacher Rev. Fulton Sheen often referred to: a “life that is worth living.” (Photo Credits: George Cruikshank; Bohirab) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Manuel” Posted by Bambi Ricafrente at 1/20/2009

Oliver Twist
by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and page illustrations by George Cruikshank for his work in 1838 which mirrors society’s paradoxical influences in the lives of ordinary people. The story of Oliver Twist portrays wholesome dignity and antithetical sordidness in a world where good and evil exist and are in constant debacle. The popular English author of Victorian vintage had A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby, The Pickwick Papers, and A Christmas Carol among his great works. (Photo Credit: Charles Dickens PD; George Cruikshank x 2 PD)


Gifts, santan blooms & rainbows

January 11, 2009

“Each person has a poem to write, a book to share, a revelation to bring out in the open. Each of us has a winsome idea to think about and a compelling story to tell. Ibalonian Ona Vigil has beautiful musings which spring forth like sparkling dewdrops in the recesses of her mind. Like the rounded pregnant bead of water ready to drop from a flower, her fluid reflections bring something persuasively personal and dear.” —AFM

Gifts….with feeling

by Ona Vigil

They grew up not giving me gifts, I mean material gifts. A kiss, a hug, a greeting, a personally made holiday card—they understood these were enough to make me happy. The thoughtfulness meant more than anything for their Mom— they knew.

Last Christmas, I received something special: a framed photo of my three children. Innocent smiles, beautiful faces, a picture almost two decades old, a survivor of harsh days, flash floods and thunderbolts, blown-up to fit a 10 x 12 inch frame. It had been by my favorite picture. Once again, I received a gift…with feeling.

The Rainbow

Just as usual, I woke up early the day after Christmas (comes with ageing, teases a friend). I felt like everyone else—-my children and the neighbors were still asleep as soft rain languidly fell from the overcast sky. The day was gloomy. The sun wouldn’t come out. I wish I could see a rainbow!

I sat on my favorite nook outside thinking what the morning would bring. And voila! There I saw the dazzling prism of colors arching against the clouds racing about the tall trees. Was it a rainbow?

ROY G BIV. Is it a queer-sounding name? No. That’s how I learned to memorize the various colors when I was in grade school. I recalled my neighbor’s fiery poinsettia and the rows of santan flowers, all brimming RED. My potted bougainvilleas were lovely in full-bloom. Their sharp flowers dotted the wide garden, just like the prolific YELLOW bells which blended with the sprouts of sedges under the bush. The hurried flowers drew the busy butterflies in frenzied flight with the wind while the bee buzzed along.

Against the BLUE roof of a house nearby. I watched the tiny luxuriant VIOLET blooms whose sweet scent filled the air. Though the GREEN leaves were a-plenty and the trees were noisy with the breeze, I wondered where the color of INDIGO I could find. From the depths of my senses, a voice whispered a line from a poem: “Close your eyes to see it!” I did. ROY G. BIV. Suddenly there, I saw my rainbow. (Photo Credit: Annalee&BS)=0=


A sugary delight in the outer fringes of the Milky Way

November 29, 2008

In the outer reaches of our galaxy where the condition is less hostile and potentially habitable, a basic sugar has been detected by scientists. This makes seekers of extra-terrestial life ecstatic. The monosaccharide sugar called glycoldehyde is a molecule on which ribonucleic acid (RNA,) a biochemical construct of life, can originate.

This is an important discovery as it is the first time glycolaldehyde, a basic sugar, has been detected towards a star-forming region where planets that could potentially harbor life may exist,”—reported Serena Viti of University College London—Wired Science Network (11/26/08, Moskowitz, C)

The discovery of the glycolaldehyde in the outer rim of the Milky Way galaxy, about 26 million light years away from earth, generates more curiosity and effort from researchers to seek life outside our planet. From the gaseous eerie clouds of outerspace, the building elements of life such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen are studied in the hope that an incovertible evidence of life outside earth will be discovered. (Photo Credit: TQWestphal;Wired Science Network:=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Mars Exploration: Inching Its Way To Find The Ultimate Proof Of Life” Posted by mesiamd at 7/18/2008.

A fresh look at longevity as a supercentenarian dies

November 28, 2008

Edna Parker, the 115 year and 220 day old American woman, the world’s oldest person died, says the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, California. The Indiana woman who lived in a nursing home followed the passing on August 13, 2007 of the Japanese Yone Minagawa, the Guinness World Book of Records title holder for the oldest person before Parker.

Both persons qualify as “supercentenarians” for having lived beyond 110 years old. It is believed that currently there are 89 supercentenarians worldwide among whom 79 are women and 10 are men.

An amazing Frenchwoman who lived for 122 years

Jeanne Louise Calment was born in Arles, France on February 21, 1875 and died on August 4, 1997. She once met Vincent Van Gogh in her father’s shop. Her genes may have contributed to her longevity as her father lived to the age of 94 and her mother to the age of 86. She married a distant cousin at the age of 21. Her only grandson died in 1963. She rode a bicycle to the age of 100.

In October of 1995, much press coverage announced that Jeanne had exceeded the lifespan of Shigechiyo (Chigechiyo) Izumi, who until then had held the claim to the longest lived human. In fact, work by John Wilmoth indicates that Izumi may have only been 105 when he died, meaning that Jeanne may have outlived Izumi in 1980. If that is accurate, Jeanne would have become the longest lived human in 1991 when she exceeded the longevity of Carrie White, who died at the age of 116.”—Source:

Increasing longevity of people has been a source of fascination of modern society. It is mainly attributed to better healthcare, control of illnesses by science, improved diet and life-style. With a normal maximum life-span of about 120 years, people are enthused by the prospect of extending years of survival or achieving immortality.

Researchers are finding ways of extending longevity, but others are questioning whether a longer life is better than having a shorter one that is meaningful and relatively free of protracted suffering. Ethicists mull on the morality of prolonging survival using means that are controversial. For instance, they struggle on the moral questions on using helpless human embryos in an effort to cure diseases and extend life. (Photo Credits: Ollik; AP/Darron Cummings;; [][][][])=0=


Life versus abortion

November 23, 2008

Abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community. People are not aware of that. According to te US Center for Disease Control (CDC) Abortion Surveillance Report, 35% of abortions in the United States are performed on African American women, who make up only 12% of the U.S. population.” Beverly Anderson, National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life (The Southern Cross, July 2008)/Immaculate Conception Parish, Astoria, NY 11/23/08 (Photo Credit:

In the Philippines, the number of abortions is unknown since the procedure is illegal and often done secretly. In spite of this, about 1/4 of pregnancies is terminated amounting to an estimated 750,000 abortions per year.—


Life on the railway tracks & the fate of Isadora Duncan

September 12, 2008

It’s the same accident that happened to 50 year old famed American dancer Isadora Duncan who met her gruesome death when her scarf was caught in a car’s wheel while motoring on September 14, 1927 in Nice, France. (Isadora Duncan, The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed., 2008)

Miss Duncan was choked by the constricting grip of a hand-painted scarf, a gift by Russian-born artist Roman Chatov. She who lived against the norm of her day claimed a place in history for her dance as much as her manner of passing.

In the Philippines, in a report which appeared in GMANewsTV on September 12, 2008, 22 year old Pandacan resident Imee Sapacio suffered serious brain injuries and almost died when her umbrella got entangled by a passing train on the way to Tutuban station in Divisoria, an old section of Manila.

She was knocked down, dragged and rendered unconscious before being rushed to the hospital.

Luckily she survived.

Life on the Railway Track (Vida en la via del ferrocarril)

“Marami ang palatandaan ng kahirapan: mga lumang bahay,
maduming barrio, mga lalaking walang kamiseta,
at ang tingin ng pag-aalala…”

“Dakul an senales kan pagti’os, mga lumang harong,
ma-ating lugar, mga lalaking mayong kamiseta,
sagkod hiling nin pag’hadit…”

Muchas signos de pobreza: casas viejas,
pueblos sucios,hombres descamisados
y la mirada de angustia…”

“Many signs of poverty: old houses,
dirty villages, unshirted men,
and the look of anguish…
—AFM, September 12, 2008

Imee may not like the life of poverty like Miss Duncan especially in a crowded blighted path of a train which snakes its way in the heart of the city. But it’s a perilous reality that she hardly can escape. Like thousands of squatters, she lives near the railroad tracks, ignoring the dangers of the squalid neighborhood and the noise of passing trains.

In spite of the government attempts to relocate the squatters, crowding continues. A fact of life, this is a big challenge in urban places like Manila which attract settlers from towns and provinces in search for better life. Photo Credits: olr2004; UPA; dy85duTpa; 3bp.blogspot; Maluche,A)


A Dead Angel Standing By His Coffin

August 19, 2008

People have special wishes when they die. At death, Angel Pantoja Medina, 24, of San Juan, Puerto Rico has made his own. His last wish is to stand on his wake at the time of his passing. That’s what his family did when he met his untimely death underneath a bridge on August 15, 2008. Antes de morir, Angel pedio su ultimo deseo ser velado de pie en la sala de residencia.

After being embalmed, Angel was propped up by his relatives to stand upright, had him lean on a corner of a wall, beside his flower-laden coffin.
Wearing his NY baseball cap, eyeglasses, and matching black T-shirt, he looks serenely at peace. (Photo Credit: Alicea,AL). =0=

The essence of being a nurse, a P10 million bribe, an OFW’s complaint against RP officials in Saudi Arabia, & Dolphy’s secret of being young

July 31, 2008

Palagay ko, it’s my job. Kapag nasa linya ng comedy, wala akong iniisip kung hindi katatawanan at puro comedy ginagawa ko. Making people laugh is fun talaga. It’s better sa buhay.”
Dolphy remarks on his secret of being young at age 80.

“Considering our depressed condition and lowered people’s morale, it is clear that uncoordinated, quickie and populist projects will not work and be just a waste of time, resources and goodwill,”
Former Pres. Fidel Ramos on the dismal policies of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

“Should we worry? There will be pain but maybe worrying too much is too much. We will survive this eventually.”
Dr. Cayetano Paderanga Jr., a professor at the UP School of Economics on the deteriorating economy and lack of morale of the people.

“More than three million children between the ages of 6 and 15 are now out of school. What is her administration going to do about it? Judging from her SONA — nothing, other than hand out a few scholarships,’’
ACT-UP Chairman Antonio Tinio asks the government on what to do with children who can’t afford to go to school.

“My advantage of being half-Filipino, half-German is having an exotic beauty which I think is not common with other people. But for me, it’s my multi-cultural values which set me apart because these make me a better and stronger person.”
Princess Uhrig, a mixed-race candidate in the Miss Limburg-Belgium beauty pageant to be held in September.

“Promoting an NFP-only policy goes against our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, which targets increased access to reproductive health services and contraceptive prevalence rate — covering both modern natural and artificial methods — to 60 percent by 2010 and 80 percent by 2015,”
Ramon San Pascual, director of the Phil. Legislator’s Population and Development Foundation Committee, airing objection to the Roman Catholic Church stand against artificial contraception.

“So, they were talking of a win-win situation, which meant offering P10 million for me to give way to Justice Reyes. I politely declined that offer and told the emissary that it was not only a matter of principle but that it will [also] affect the integrity of the court. Before he left, he told me that they were still hoping that I could see it their way,”
Court of Appeals Justice Jose Sabio bares a scandalous bribery offer he got from someone whom he believes to be an emissary of Meralco.

“Palitan n’yo na lahat ng nakaupo mula sa ibaba hanggang sa itaas. Imbes na sila ang makatulong sa amin, sila pa nagpapahirap sa amin”
OFW Armando Navarro who said while calling for the replacement of Philippine Consular officials in Saudi Arabia.

“I regret what I did. I’m ready to face any punishment because he is my son,”
—says a desperate man of Legazpi City who stabbed his three month old baby for he can’t care for him any longer.

“When you decide to become a nurse, you have to have passion to serve and to care. The essence of nursing is to care for the people,”
Nurse Board topnotcher Aira Therese S.Javier said. She believes going abroad must not be the primary motivation of her colleagues in the profession. =0=

Mars Exploration: Inching Its Way To Find The Ultimate Proof Of Life

July 18, 2008

Space exploration is moving ahead to prove what we’ve long suspected. After years of myth and lore on what goes on in our solar system, a quintessential find might be in the offing. We’re at the brink of finding the most compelling evidence of life in Mars which could alter the way we look at ourselves and the space around us.

Not long after the Martian Phoenix Lander successfully landed on the red planet, the instruments discovered solid ice. Water, its liquid form, had been regarded as a vital ingredient for life to thrive. This week, scientists showed us new photos of the Martian landscape’s interior: brown rocky plains, meandering riverbeds, and red dunes against a dry mysterious horizon.

In astonishing detail which delighted geologists, Mars revealed more lakes, pools, towering cliffs, stone-covered plains, sandy basins, and dendritic gulleys reminiscent of the Arizona’s Grand Canyon carved over eons by what might be the work of water torrents.

Though the landscape looks sere, the awesome footprints of once flowing rivers are there. It’s said, the presence of clay-like substances called phyllosilicates, suggests liquid water percolated into the stony planet’s surface during the Noachian period, about 4.6 billion to 3.8 billion years ago.

“The big surprise from these new results is how pervasive and long-lasting Mars’ water was, and how diverse the wet environments were,” said Scott Murchie, Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM’s) principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

“Water must have been creating minerals at depth to get the signatures we see…What does this mean for habitability?…. It was a benign, water-rich environment for a long period of time,” said John Mustard of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who worked on the study. ScienceNews/Reuters (07/16/08, Fox, M.)

At the heart of our excitement, old controversies of space exploration roil. People of religion are wondering if finding life away from earth contravenes the teachings of faith. Those concerned with the economy think whether space travel is a waste of money which could benefit the millions of starving people on earth. Nations mull on what use we have with the mineral-rich real estate in Mars that will benefit mankind (Photo Credits: NASA, FUBerlin, DLR, AP, Reuters.)

The bottom line: We’re getting the fruits of the hardwork, ingenuity, vision, and will-power of men who want to advance the frontiers of human endeavor. With new discoveries at hand, old theories must go for better understanding of the secrets which lurks in the ink blackness of space. =0=