WELCOME TO MY HUMBLE ONLINE ABODE!

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Thank you for dropping by!

I realized that the internet is an extremely vast universe where everyone can create a comfortable niche for himself. Many netizens are brilliant enough to write highly informative and helpful articles, and generous enough to share those articles with others. Thus, the advent of blogging.

I, myself, love reading and learning from blog posts. It’s reassuring to know that my plight is not unique – that there are others out there who also go through what I am going through on a daily basis. And since I am fairly good at writing and can come up with decent articles, I decided to put this up. My very own blog. Yay, finally!

In this little corner of the Blogosphere, you will meet a mother who loves sharing with everyone who would care to read all her random musings, dignified rantings, profound thoughts about family, love, parenthood, home and life, personal advocacies, dreams and experiences, observations, opinions and impressions, everyday exploits, confessions, and innermost desires. I would also like to connect with all of you so do not hesitate to leave me a message (I am an active Facebooker, and as soon as I get the hang of all these, I will also be a familiar face and voice in Instagram and Twitter!) or a comment at the end of my every blog entry.

Happy reading!

(Note: The header image is owned by David Kracov, an American painter, animator and sculpturist.)

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY TATAY DIGONG

Dear Tatay  Digong,

Marami po akong naririnig na negative things na sinasabi nila laban sa iyo at, bilang isa sa iyong 103-milyong mga anak, nasasaktan ako. Sino po ba namang anak ang gugustuhing matawag ang kanyang ama na psychopath, sociopath, demagogue, misogynist, pathological liar, murderer at plunderer? Wala po siguro. Subalit, ngayon, halos buong mundo ang tumutuligsa sa iyo dahil sa inyong mga kilos at pananalita. At, sadly, pati ang pagtingin nila sa ating bansa at sa mga Pilipino ay apektado.

Dati po, kilala ang Pilipinas bilang “Asia’s bastion of Christianity.” When foreigners would describe us, lagi nilang sinasabi na ang mga Pinoy ay mabait, masayahin, matulungin, madasalin at magiliw sa mga panauhin. Ngayon, may reputasyon na tayo bilang bastos, bayolente at kriminal.

Tatay, tanggap ko po na sanay kayo sa “gutter language.” Hindi nyo po inilihim sa amin ‘yan kahit na noong panahon ng kampanya. Pero nangako po kayo sa amin na, once elected at bilang respeto sa iyong posisyon bilang Ama ng Bansa, you will become dignified. Ang sabi mo pa nga, “cussing will be a thing of the past.” So, ano po ang nangyari? Mula sa Pope, sa mga Presidente at Ambassadors ng iba’t-ibang nasyon, hanggang sa mga journalists, human rights advocates, mga kalaban sa politika at kaparian — lahat sila ay nakatikim ng iyong infamous na pagmumura. Hanggang ngayon, sa mga public appearances nyo, hindi pwedeng hindi ka magmura.

Tinitingala ka namin, Tatay, at itinuturing na aming role model. Sana po, mas maganda ang mga naririnig naming salita mula sa ‘yo. Isa pa po, cursing the other heads of state will foster animosity between their countries and ours. Bilang isang third-world country pa naman, alam nyo po na hindi natin kayang mag-survive without the help of our allies. Hinay-hinay lang po, Tatay.

Sabi din po nila, wala kayong “Palabra de Honor.” Mahilig daw po kayong magbitiw ng mga pangakong alam nyo namang imposible nyong matupad.

Nangako kayo that you will “solve our traffic woes in 100 days.” Tatay, walong buwan na po kayo sa Malacanang pero ang traffic sa EDSA, lumala pa. Pangako nyo rin that you will fight “patronage politics” pero pinayagan nyo ang paglilibing kay Macoy sa Libingan Ng Mga Bayani, ang pagpapalaya kay GMA, ang pagpapatakas kay Peter Lim, ang pangangamkam ng China sa pinag-aagawang bahagi ng West Philippine Sea, at ang pagtatalaga ng mga showbiz personalities sa gobyerno. Totoo po na lahat sila ay nakatulong sa iyong kampanya pero, sana po, huwag ma-compromise ang kapakanan ng bansa sa pagnanais nyong makabayad ng utang na loob sa kanila. Country above all else po dapat, hindi ba?

Galit po kayo sa corruption, at hinahangaan ko po kayo dahil diyan. Pinagbantaan nyo pa nga dati ang mga corrupt officials na ihahagis nyo sila mula sa helicopter in mid-air, di po ba? E bakit nasa gabinete nyo pa po si Justice Sec. Aguirre? Very obvious naman during the senate investigation na plano nyang mag-extort ng pera mula kina Jack Lam. Pumutok lang ang issue kaya naghugas-kamay na lang siya. Si Sen. Pacquiao, malaki po ang atraso nya sa BIR. At si Sen. Cayetano, saang kamay ng Diyos po kaya niya nakuha ang malaking pera that he donated for your campaign?

Itong si Sen. Trillanes po, he claims na may hawak siyang mga documents proving na nagkaroon ng around P2.2 billion in deposit transactions sa bank accounts nyo. Para po mapahiya at tuluyan nang manahimik si Trillanes, bakit hindi na lang po kayo pumirma at mag-issue sa mga banko nyo ng waiver ng bank secrecy? That would effectively put to rest all these corruption allegations against you, Tatay.

Just the other day, during the celebration of International Women’s Day, you vowed to uphold gender equality. Mapaninindigan nyo po ba talaga ‘yan, Tatay, o isa na naman ‘yan sa marami mong rhetorical statements? Alam naman nating lahat na lagi nyong ipinagmamalaki ang pagiging matinik nyo sa chicks, na kesyo kaya nyong pagsabay-sabayin ang ilang babae sa buhay nyo. Hindi po ba’t isa nga ‘yan sa mga dahilan kung bakit nag-file ng annulment of marriage ang dati nyong asawa?

During the campaign, napulaan kayo dahil sa insensitive nyong comment about the Australian missionary na ginang-rape at pinatay ng mga preso. Kumalat din ang mga pictures nyo na nagpapaupo kayo sa hita at nanghahalik ng mga female supporters nyo. Nang naging Pangulo naman kayo, isa sa mga unang naging kontrobersya laban sa inyo ay ang pagpito nyo sa isang female reporter during a press conference. Hayan tuloy, sa Hollywood tv show na “Madam Secretary,” pinalabas nilang bastos ang Presidente ng Pilipinas. Kahiya-hiya po tayo sa buong mundo. Pero hindi po natin sila masisisi. Depictment lang po iyun ng kung ano ang mga naisusulat at napapanood tungkol sa inyo.

You also seem intimidated by strong women, especially women who have the balls to stand up to you. Nariyan sina Sen. De Lima (na hindi kayo tinantanan for your alleged human rights violations mula noong kayo pa ang Mayor ng Davao), SC Chief Justice Sereno (na kinwestyun ang paglalabas mo sa publiko ng mga pangalan ng mga “narco-judges”), Ombudsman Carpio-Morales (na pinaghinalaan mong siyang nagbigay ng go-signal na isiwalat ang iyong di-umano’y multibillion-peso bank accounts noong panahon ng kampanya), VP Robredo (na walang-tigil sa pagpuna sa mga patayan under your War on Drugs) at UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard (na gustong imbistigahan ang spate of unlawful killings na nangyayari under your administration). Dahil parang hindi nyo alam how to deal with strong women like them, you resort to insult and threat. Tila, you want to humiliate them. You want to break them. You want to silence them. You want to control them.

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Photo credit: mironline.ca

Tatay, sa palagay nyo po ba, kung buhay pa ngayon ang inyong ina ay ikatutuwa niya ang mga ginagawa nyo sa mga kabaro nya? O ang pagpayag nyong mailibing sa LNMB ang diktador na si Marcos? Malamang po, hindi. Alam naman po natin na matapang niyang nilabanan ang lahat ng uri ng pang-aabuso noong panahon ng Martial Law, di ba?

Siguro po, dahil sa pagtingala din sa inyo bilang kanilang ehemplo kaya may mga supporters kayo na nangharass online dati sa mga kabataang babae na nakilahok sa protest rally against the controversial Marcos burial. Tatay, ganyan kalaki ang inyong kapangyarihan at impluwensya sa amin. Kaya kung gusto nyong maging magalang kami, sana po, maging mabuting modelo ka sa amin.

During your speeches, lagi nyo rin pong sinasabi na alam nyo ang ginagawa nyo dahil kayo ay dating abogado. Pero sa bibig nyo na rin po nanggaling that, when you were a city prosecutor in Davao, you used to plant evidence to help the authorities when going after criminals. Tatay, hindi po ako abogado pero sigurado po ako na ang ganoong gawain ay labag sa batas. Alam ko rin po na may batas tayo laban sa bribery. So bakit hindi nyo po kinasuhan ang Mighty Corp na, ayon kay Mr. Salvador Panelo, ay sinubukan kayo dating suhulan? Katulad ng claim ni DA Sec. Manny Piñol na binigyan siya ng isang malaking agricultural company ng Rolex watch worth P450k, ng claim ni Justice Sec. Aguirre na sinuhulan diumano ni dating Sen. Jamby Madrigal at Binan Rep. Alonte ng P100 million ang mga convicted druglords to recant their testimonies against Sen. De Lima, at ng claim ni Sec. Andanar na binayaran daw ng $1,000 ang mga reporters who covered the presscon of self-confessed DDS leader Lascañas. Totoo po ba ang mga claims at allegations na ‘yun, o produkto lang lahat ng fake news?

Tatay, you are aware how sensitive the Filipinos are sa usapin ng Martial Law. Marami pa pong sugat ang hindi naghihilom mula sa madilim at mapanupil na mga taon ng pamumuno nina Marcos. Kaya, sana po, huwag mong gagamiting banta ang pagdi-declare mo ng Martial Law under any circumstance. Ginagawa mo kaming parang mga bata na tinatakot mo when we step out of line. Hindi po nakakatuwa ang ganun, Tatay.

Naniniwala po ako na matapang ka pero bahag daw po ang buntot mo kapag China na ang kaharap mo. During the campaign, ang sabi mo, magji-jet ski ka papuntang Spratly, itatanim mo ang bandila natin doon at hahamunin mo ang mga Intsik sa suntukan o barilan. Bakit po ganun? Ngayon na kinakamkam nila ang malaking bahagi ng West Philippine Sea, biglang wala kayong magagawa dahil superpower sila? Tatay, teritoryo at kasarinlan po natin ang pinag-uusapan at ipinaglalabanan dito; ang lupain na iiwanan natin sa ating mga anak at sa kanilang mga anak. Huwag nyo naman pong isuko nang ganung kadali lamang ito lalo pa nga’t based on the ruling na ipinalabas noong isang taon ng Arbitral Tribunal ng United Nations, naipanalo po natin ang ating arbitration case against China. Tayo po ang may exclusive sovereign rights sa West Philippine Sea!

Nang nagsalita kayo sa harap ng ating mga kababayan na nasa Myanmar, sinabi po ninyo that you are against same-sex marriage dahil ayon po sa inyo, aside from our Civil Code, Katoliko tayo. Kung saan po kamo tayo ipinwesto ng Diyos, dapat doon lang tayo. Seryoso ka ba sa statement mong ‘yun, Tatay, o nagbibiro ka lang? Dati, namumula ako sa ginagawa mong pagmumura at pambabatikos sa Simbahang Katolika. Tapos, ngayon, ang paniniwala ng Katolika ang gagamitin mong sandata laban sa apela ng mga members ng LGBT community? Isa pa po, ito ang linya nyo during the campaign, “Same sex marriage is good. Everyone deserves to be happy.” Ano po ang nangyari? Sinabi nyo lang ba yun dati to secure their votes? That is not so good, Tatay.

During that same speech, sinabi nyo rin po na safe na sa Pilipinas. Sa punto pong iyon, I’m sure na nagjo-joke lang kayo.

Let me remind you, Tatay, that under your War on Drugs, mahigit 7,000 na ang namamatay ayon sa official report ng PNP. May mga “suspected” drug offenders, may mga cases of mistaken identity, at may mga bystanders – either during legitimate police operations o by rogue police officers o vigilantes na masyadong siniseryoso ang call nyo to “slaughter them all.” Just today, I heard the news about a Chemical Engineering magna cum laude graduate from UP Los Banos na bigla na lang nawalang parang bula. Nag-aabang siya ng sasakyan at 4 am dahil first day of work nya sa kumpanyang inaplayan niya. Meron rin pong isang 20-year-old na lalaki ang dinukot ng mga naka-bonnet na assailants at isinakay sa isang van na walang plaka. Ang lalaking yun ay papunta lang sa drug store para bumili ng gamot dahil may sakit ang kanyang baby. Safe ba kanyo?

Alam nyo po, everytime na lumalabas ng bahay ang mga anak ko, kinakabahan at natatakot ako. Pero, bilang ina, ang kaya ko lang pong gawin ay ang pabaunan sila ng mga habilin: (1) Huwag makikipagtinginan sa mga pulis; (2) Lalayo sa mga naka-motorsiklo, lalo na kapag riding in tandem o nakasuot ng bonnet; (3) Kapag naka-witness sila ng krimen, tumakbo palayo; at (4) Kapag namamaga ang mata nila dahil sa magdamagang pagre-review, magsuot ng colored glasses. Mabuti na po ang nag-iingat, ‘di po ba? Baka mapagbintangan silang drug addict, bigla na lang itumba at takpan ng placard na nagsasabing, “Addict ako, huwag tularan.” Hindi ko po kakayanin kapag nangyari sa isa sa mga anak ko ang ganun.

Isa pa po sa mga naririnig ko is that you cannot tolerate criticism. Kaya nga po yata galit na galit kayo sa ipinadalang video message ni VP Leni sa UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs ay dahil isiniwalat nya ang mga totoong kaganapan sa bansa dahil sa inyong War on Drugs. Masyado kamong “atat” sa posisyon si VP. At part lang kamo ang lahat ng ‘yan (pati na rin ang Impeachment Complaint na inihain laban sa inyo) ng destabilization plot against your administration. Tatay, sa tingin ko po, hindi na kailangan ang ibang tao to destabilize your government. Kayo lang po — kasama ang inyong mga kaalyado na sina House Speaker Alvarez, Senate Pres. Pimentel, Justice Sec. Aguirre, PNP Chief Dela Rosa, Solicitor General Calida, Senators Pacquiao, Sotto, Gordon at Cayetano, mga appointees na sina Cesar Montano, Perfecto Yasay at Mocha Uson, at ang mga ka-DDS ko at mga bayarang trolls — ay sapat na to do the job effectively. Self-destructing nga raw po ang administrasyon nyo e.

Finally po, Tatay, nakikiusap ako sa inyo. Stop inciting emotional chaos. Temper your emotions lalo na kapag nasa harap kayo ng publiko. And don’t try to silence the opposition. Dapat nga po, you welcome dissent dahil ‘yun ang katunayan na buhay ang demokrasya sa ilalim ng iyong pamumuno.

‘Tay, I really hope and pray that you will soon start acting like the unifying and dignified President that you promised us you will be. The country deserves nothing less.

Nagmamalasakit,

Ang inyong anak

 

PS: Don’t forget to take your meds, Tatay. Nag-iiba ang timpla nyo kapag nakaka-miss kayo e.

HOW TO SECURE YOUR CHILDREN’S SAFETY AGAINST ONLINE DANGERS

Over the years, the internet has managed to establish its role as one of our most influential partners in raising our kids. From entertainment and communications to education, it has become a reliable and, to an extent, indispensable tool for our children.

However, due mainly to the anonymity that it affords to its users, the internet has also evolved into a perfect platform for various online crimes and abusive activities.

Just recently, the news about the international cyberpornography trade that the Australian “porn king” and his Filipina live-in partner, dubbed the “Savage Girl,” have been operating in the Visayan and Mindanao areas was all over social media. The infamous couple is reported to prey on unsuspecting female street children and scavengers by luring them into their fold, torturing, molesting and forcing them to perform hideous sexual acts, videotaping them, and selling those live-stream videos to their sexually-perverted clients from across the globe. The victims’ ages range from 1-12.

There was also the case of a female student who experienced grave sexual harassment online when she posted her picture showing her at a protest rally.

Moreover, the rising number of reported cases of suicide triggered by cyberbullying, body/slut shaming or social media depression is something that is causing serious alarm to authorities.

As parents, we need to ensure that our children are protected against these cyber bullies, online predators, pornography vendors and cybercrime offenders. Here are some tips to help us safeguard our children’s online safety.

 

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Photo credit: yoursphere.com

 

  1. Talk to your children about the nature of the virtual world and the concept of digital footprint. Make them understand that, just like the real world, the cyberspace is both a wonderful and nasty place. It is a platform that offers unlimited possibilities, but with ease comes threats, with convenience comes dangers, and with functionality comes risks.

 

  1. Advise your children to be cautious and discerning about what they share online. They should, for instance, refrain from giving out personal information that could be used by identity thieves. They should never share their exact location at any given time. And they should not flaunt suggestive/revealing pictures or pictures of their personal belongings and properties. Most importantly, they should secure their social media accounts at all times.

 

  1. Tell your children never to engage in online chats with strangers. Child predators often pose as kids in chat rooms to make them seem less threatening, and when they eventually earn your children’s trust, they can easily convince their gullible victims to meet with them. That is when real trouble begins.

 

  1. Encourage your children to come to you if anything ever makes them uncomfortable. Kids are naturally hungry for attention and social acceptance. But if they are constantly taught about moral boundaries, it would be relatively easier for them to spot online jerks and to identify sexual advances disguised as sincere compliments.

 

  1. Keep the computer in a common area in the house, and create and strictly enforce ground rules on the time and length of use of that computer. If you have wi-fi in the house, customize specific rules for internet access for each of your children. To ensure compliance, inform them that offenders will be meted out with corresponding penalties.

 

  1. Monitor your children’s online activities. Be aware of the kinds of websites that your children frequently visit and the kinds of people they regularly hang out with online. You may want to invest in a recording software that would allow you to see all the data that your children have seen, received, downloaded and viewed. There are also software programs that could enable you to monitor your children’s mobile devices.

 

  1. Filter the websites that your children can access and block those harmful ones. Using parental control software products that are readily available online, you can customize the web content filtering settings appropriate for each of your children. You can also modify the default settings to add or remove sites at your discretion.

 

  1. Report to the proper authorities any incident that you suspect can expose your children to online danger. Preserve the pieces of evidence by taking screen shots of the inappropriate materials, e-mails, photos, etc. that can be used in filing a case against the offenders.

 

  1. Set an ideal example to your children by being a responsible and cautious #CyberPinoy. You cannot be a credible role model to your children if you are telling them one thing yet your actions are saying something else. Practice what you preach.

 

 

Written for and submitted to Inquirer.net

Commissioned by Globe Telecommunications Company

CHANGE HAS TRULY COME (SA BAYAN NI JUAN)!

An assertion that the Duterte camp successfully used to anchor their campaign platform on was the country’s supposed need for a drastic change.

Then presidential candidate Duterte capitalized on the collective frustration, hopelessness, and pent-up anger of many Filipinos over the previous administrations’ alleged ineptitude and lack of compassion for the downtrodden and the most marginalized members of society. He managed to convince the electorate that the country was suffering because it had been governed for the longest time by the wealthy oligarchs and traditional politicians, whose only interest was to protect their wealth and other personal agenda. He was able to manipulate us into thinking that he was one of the disadvantaged masses, one of the ordinaryong Pilipino, and that he was our last hope –our Messiah– to that ever-elusive change.

Change Is Coming. That was their battle cry.

Eight months in office and, alas, the Duterte administration can truthfully claim that change has indeed come sa bayan ni Juan.

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Photo credit: pinoyHS and Change Scamming

Higher excise taxes

As part of Pres. Duterte’s many campaign promises, Filipinos earning less than ₱3 million annually will enjoy a tax break. However, to compensate for the loss in the government revenue that that would entail, the Dep’t. of Finance proposes higher excise taxes on fuel and automotive, VAT on OFW remittances, and an expanded VAT from 12% to 14%. Note that the net effect of the hike in excise taxes in oil would far outweigh the impact of the lowering of personal income taxes, according to Sen. Chiz Escudero.

Higher SSS monthly premiums

To finance another of Pres. Duterte’s campaign promises of a ₱2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of SSS pensioners (the implementation of which would seriously compromise or could even result to the eventual bankruptcy of the said benefit system – the very reason why the Aquino administration vetoed it, in the first place), SSS was forced to resort to the alternative solution of increasing the monthly premiums of its active members.

Peso depreciation

Our peso continues to weaken and, at its present 50.395 Ph₱ = 1 US$ exchange rate, it is hovering at its lowest level in a decade. The peso shed 5.2%, making it the worst performing currency in Southeast Asia last year. This peso devaluation, that earned for our currency the title “Asia’s Ugly Duckling of the Year,”  has a domino effect.

  • Higher government debt-servicing
  • Higher cost of foreign goods and services
  • Inflation in the prices of domestic products
  • Soaring oil prices

Prices of petroleum products have been steadily rising since Pres. Duterte assumed office. Upon the opening of 2017 alone, LPG had a big-time price hike of ₱4.15 – ₱4.18/kg, while per liter pump prices of diesel increased by ₱0.60, gasoline by ₱0.70, and kerosene by ₱0.55. As an inevitable result, minimum transpo fare, prices of basic commodities and electricity rate followed suit.

Sharp drop and volatility of the Philippine stock market index

The Semiconductors and Electronics Industry in the Philippines (SEIPI) reported that orders amounting to $50 million were lost to one company when President Duterte made angry statements directed at President Obama in connection with the former US president’s criticisms of the Duterte government’s war on illegal drugs.

The country is considered a major money-laundering hub

According to the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Philippines is now “a major hub for money laundering and a gateway for transnational drug trafficking due to the loopholes and limitations in the banking system and the lack of jurisdiction of the Anti-Money Laundering Council over financial transactions.”

Camp Crame is now Camp Crime

Under the present administration, South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo was abducted and robbed by policemen and, eventually, murdered inside Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters. Jee (along with at least 11 more) is said to be a victim of Tokhang for ranson.

The execution by CIDG operatives of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and another inmate

According to the result of the NBI’s “exhaustive investigation,” the late Albuera mayor was a victim of a rubout, and not of a shootout as claimed by the raiding team. Police Superintendent Marvin Marcos, the raiding team leader, was relieved by Gen. Bato following reports of the former’s involvement in drug operations. However, Marcos was ordered reinstated by no less than the president a few days before the rubout.

Duterte’s “War on Drugs” is a subject of worldwide condemnation

Under the present administration’s bloody all-out war against drugs, nearly 8,000 people are already killed in just a span of eight months. Oplan Tokhang, the anti-illegal drugs program of the PNP, is said to be unconstitutional and violative of basic human rights – the formulation of the drug watch list (prepared by the local government officials, inclusion therein can be based on hearsay, rumor, rivalry or mere alliance with a drug offender –with little or no verification), the surrender forms (which provide only two choices –to confess as either a drug addict or a drug pusher, or to not sign at all, which could lead to deadly consequences), and the operation itself (cops routinely busting down doors in the middle of the night and then killing unarmed drug suspects in cold blood; cops stealing from the victims’ homes; cops planting evidence; and cops falsifying incident or spot reports). This government campaign has also encouraged, if not sponsored, killings perpetrated by motorcycle-riding masked men. According to Amnesty International, Duterte’s War on Drugs has created an economy of murder in the country and is, in fact, a war on the poor. Due to the internal cleansing that the PNP administered in the wake of the Jee Ick-joo controversy, the campaign was temporarily suspended. It has now made a comeback, though, under the new name, “Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded” which, according to Gen. Bato Dela Rosa, will be more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated.

An identified drug lord is set free

According to the NBI, the Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim is the same Peter Lim that Kerwin Espinosa implicated in his senate hearing testimony as one of the top 3 drug lords operating in the country. That Peter Lim is also the same person who went to Malacanang to meet with his kumpadre, Pres. Duterte. After that meeting, he walked out of the palace unscathed and is now believed to have fled the country with his family.

Ferdinand Marcos is now a hero

The world’s second most corrupt leader in history under whose dictatorial rule, the country saw the darkest and most oppressive days, is now buried at the hallowed grounds of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. Ferdinand Marcos is the best president this country has ever had, according to Pres. Duterte.

Ex-Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is an innocent woman

The $329.48-million ZTE broadband network scam. The ₱728-million fertilizer scam. The Jose Pidal bank accounts. The Northrail project. The $14-million IMPSA power plant project. The ₱1.3-billion poll automation project. The Macapagal Boulevard project.

According to IBON Foundation, Gloria Arroyo may actually be “the most corrupt president the country has ever had, based on amounts lost to the Filipino people in just six corruption scandals over her seven years in office.” A few days after Duterte’s inauguration as the President of the country, Arroyo has been released from her hospital detention. She is now a free woman –sans the neck brace–, serving as a Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives.

SolGen seeks the reversal of the Pork Barrel Queen conviction

Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida recommended the acquittal of Janet Lim Napoles for the crime of serious illegal detention of whistle-blower Benhur Luy — a move that the president fully supports. Napoles’ three lawyers (Stephen David, Lanee Cui-David and Bruce Rivera) happen to be staunch supporters of Pres. Duterte. Malacanang earlier said that it’s possible to turn Napoles into a state witness if she’s found to be the least guilty.

Sen. De Lima is arrested and thrown in jail

Pres. Duterte publicly accused the senator of having extorted money from the big-time drug lords in Bilibid to finance her senatorial bid. When the administration could not find a speck of evidence that might hold water in court, they made do with the conflicting testimonies of convicted drug lords and an old lover scorned (all of whom, like Duterte, have a score to settle with De Lima). This is believed to be an apparent effort to silence his most vocal and tenacious critic and to make an example out of her for the benefit of the other government officials who maintain an adversarial position on various government policies and programs.

The Vice-Pres. is humiliated, at every turn, by her president

Duterte once said that the inappropriate jokes he makes during speeches about VP Leni are necessary to make his audience laugh. He used to tease her about her relationship status, the short skirt she once wore during a cabinet meeting, and her nice knees and legs that he and another cabinet member ogled. However, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when the president instructed Robredo (via text!) to desist from attending all future cabinet meetings.

The DFA Chief could be jailed for perjury

During a Commission on Appointments hearing, Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay, Jr. declared under oath that he was never an American citizen. A document he himself provided to CA, however, told a completely different story. According to said document, Yasay was granted US citizenship on November 26, 1986 and had it renounced on June 28, 2016, a few days before he took over his current appointive position.

Senators who vocally oppose the administration are stripped of their key posts

With the clear intent to marginalize, alienate and, eventually, silence the officials who dare question or even show resistance to the administration’s programs and policies, Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros were ousted from their top Senate posts and committee chairmanships. Said senators have been outspoken with their opposing positions regarding major issues such as extrajudicial killings, the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the lowering of the age of criminal liability, the re-imposition of the death penalty, and the re-opening of the Senate investigation on the Davao Death Squad. A few months earlier, Sen. De Lima was also ousted from her Justice committee chairmanship.

Slashed budget for calamity funds

Under the 2017 ₱3.35 trillion National Budget that Pres. Duterte signed, only ₱15.7 billion is allocated for the Calamity Fund. This is ₱23-billion lower than the ₱38.9 billion allocation in 2016 under the Aquino administration. In stark contrast, the Office of the President gets a whopping ₱20 billion allocation —a ₱17 billion jump from its 2016 budget.

The death of Project NOAH

The country’s primary disaster risk reduction and management program will be shut down because the government cannot provide additional funding to ensure the extended implementation of its existing programs. Thanks to the University of the Philippines’ decision to adopt Project Noah, a new lease on life will be given to the project that has been a lifesaver for millions of Filipinos. Project NOAH was named in August 2016 as the Top Smart City Initiative for Public Safety in the IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards.

The collapse of peace talks between the government and the communist rebels

Another one of Duterte’s promises is the immediate release of all the political prisoners.  The communist rebels had no reason to doubt the president’s sincerity. After all, Duterte was openly identifying himself as a socialist and leftist. He also maintained close links with the NDF and NPA when he was still the mayor of Davao. But after the 19 NDFP peace consultants who participated in the first round of peace talks in Norway were freed, no other political prisoners were set free. The more than 400 remaining prisoners, according to the President, will stay behind bars. They will serve as his “last card” in the peace negotiations with the NDFP, he said —a statement that caused a rift in the two parties’ relationship and eventually led to Duterte’s orders to scrap the negotiations and to arrest the “spoiled-brat Reds” who joined the peace talks.

Lowered age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old

Instead of strengthening the current Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (RA 9344), providing more resources for the government agencies and local government units to effectively rehabilitate children in conflict with the law, and imposing stiffer penalties on parents who neglect their children and on those who exploit them to commit crimes, as Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat suggested, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his cohorts in Congress believe that meting out stringent punishment to children as young as 9 years old would result to a dramatic drop in the country’s criminality rate. The said measure, which is aligned with the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, is believed to be anti-poor, a blatant violation of our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has the potential to permanently damage the children concerned.

The reimposition of death penalty

Despite our flawed and corrupt judicial and law-enforcement systems, the Duterte administration deems it best to revive capital punishment to support their anti-drug campaign. To make the bill “palatable” to more lawmakers, however, a number of crimes will be removed from the proposed bill. These crimes include plunder (the amassing by a public official of ill-gotten wealth worth over ₱50 million), treason and rape. Under this bill, a poor 9-year-old child exploited to commit a drug-related crime might find himself on death row, while an elected official who would steal millions –shamelessly, wantonly and insatiably—from the public coffers but would be defended by a top-notch trial lawyer, could walk away as a Congresswoman!

Chinese installations in the West Philippine Sea

Pres. Duterte did not ride a jet ski to plant our flag on the highly-contested Spratly islands just as he promised during the campaign. Instead, he went to China to kiss the ass of Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping by declaring for everyone to hear that, along with Russia and China, there are now three of us against the world. It didn’t matter one iota that China is the source of most of the illegal drugs in the Philippines. And now, apparently, it doesn’t matter either that the world’s biggest bully-nation is almost done with its project of building 7 artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea and putting on them two dozen concrete structures that “appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles.” Last year, China had already built military-length airstrips on Spratly Islands. All these happened despite the Hague tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines- China dispute over the West Philippines Sea. Just recently, China was reported to have been undertaking a “secret undersea exploration” in the Benham Rise area. (Benham Rise is a 13-million-hectare undersea region believed to be fuel-rich and was awarded to the Philippines by the United Nations in 2012.) Duterte revealed that he had a prior agreement with China regarding the said exploration — an “agreement” that his DND Secretary, apparently, was not privy to. Previously, Chinese survey ships were also seen off Scarborough Shoal and Reed Bank surveying the sea bed for possible mineral deposits.

Rampant Human Rights violations

Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, accuses and holds Pres. Duterte and other senior officials responsible for being directly behind the killings of mostly poor, urban people. It also alleged the National Police forces of “working in tandem with masked gunmen — casting doubt on the government’s claims that the majority of killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.”

The abuse of the internet to spread lies and create dissension 

With the dramatic growth in the number of internet users in the country, the candidates in the last national elections saw and capitalized on the great potential of influence that social media could wield among the voters. The cyberspace has become a free-for-all battleground. We have all seen (and have even been victims of) the rise of paid trolls and propagandists, rabid cult followers, perverts, and merciless savages on the internet.

The revision of history

Intent on reclaiming lost glory and power, the Marcos family, their die-hard loyalists and shameless cronies launched a deliberate, premeditated and systematic campaign to revise the country’s history. Through clever deception, half-truths and outright lies, they managed to delude more than 14 million Filipinos (the number of votes he was able to secure during his Vice-Presidential bid) into thinking that Martial Law, as we knew it, never existed. It didn’t hurt their cause that Pres. Duterte openly paves the way for the family’s comeback to Malacanang (Click this to read their arguments and claims and how best to quash them.)

The desensitization of the Filipino people

We used to pride ourselves for being Asia’s most predominantly Christian country, but with the phenomenal rise of the internet and Duterte’s ascension to the presidency, we have shown the world that we, as a nation, have grown apathetic, callous even, in dealing with the various social and political issues plaguing our country today. Also, the use of demeaning labels, such as Dutertards and Yellowtards, has become alarmingly familiar.

The demise of diplomacy and integrity among government officials

When our honorable Congressmen contemplated and almost allowed the showing of a sex video in the Lower House, when the House Speaker threatened –and actually acted on that threat — Congressmen to strip them of their House leadership titles if they oppose the bills the administration is pushing, when the opposition senators were stripped of their key Senate posts and committee chairmanship positions, when PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar called the anti-Marcos protesters “temperamental brats,” and when Duterte’s appointive officials get into the habit of hurling unsubstantiated accusations, misleading allegations and irresponsible statements to cover their boss’ ass, well, we know that the country is in deep trouble.

Mocha is now a legit source of information

With almost 5 million highly-engaged Facebook followers that take her every word as gospel truth, Mocha Uson has strategically marketed herself as the most powerful voice of the Die-hard Duterte Supporters (DDS). Her position of influence has been cemented when the president gave her a government position, when Philippine Star gave her her own column, and when DZRH gave her a tv show. So when she shares fake news or links from dubious sources, or posts alternative facts, or incites online fights, who is to stop her gullible followers from following her lead?

An unconventional leader hailed as the best president in the solar system

Dueterte’s work hours are from 1pm to early morning. He hates reading prepared speeches, preferring to talk freely and extemporaneously and, often, in visceral language. With the media in attendance, he alternately (depending on his mood) wolf-whistles, hurls angry expletives, makes fun of his VP, throws around preposterous promises, spreads gossip, claims criminal acts in the past, cries like a baby, and incites murderous violence among his supporters. He wants to pulverize criminality but he is linked to the Davao Death Squad, if we are to believe the testimonies of Matobato and Lascanas. He claims to abhor corruption but the company he keeps is comprised largely of corrupt officials and shady characters. He also refuses to open his bank accounts amid allegations that he has had ₱2.2 billion in bank deposits. He vows to crush the illegal drug trade in the country but he protects the likes of Peter Lim, Supt. Marvin Marcos and the other scalawags in the police force. He chooses his appointees not based on merit but on patronage. He promised to be a unifying president but he is now promoting divisiveness among us all.

President Duterte will stay in Malacanang until his term ends in another 5 years and 4 months. So, mga kababayan, let’s all fasten our seatbelts. It’s going to be one heck of a bumpy ride!

 

 

Sources:

http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/01/06/proposed-fuel-tax-hike-draws-flak/

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/861441/sss-premium-hike-against-the-law-says-drilon

https://www.philippinesplus.com/2017/02/22/philippine-peso-continues-weaken-us-dollar/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-03/asia-s-ugly-duckling-of-the-year-is-the-peso-thanks-to-duterte

http://www.philstar.com:8080/business/2016/11/30/1648699/peso-depreciation-causes-and-implications

http://www.canadianinquirer.net/2017/03/06/us-tags-ph-as-major-money-laundering-hub/

http://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/01/20/17/tokhang-for-ransom-timeline-of-south-korean-businessmans-abduction-killing

http://www.rappler.com/nation/154717-nbi-mayor-espinosa-death-rubout

http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/if-you-are-poor-you-are-killed-extrajudicial-executions-in-the-philippines-war-on-drugs

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/16/16/duterte-meets-with-alleged-top-drug-lord-peter-lim

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/554350/news/nation/marcos-the-best-president-ever-in-duterte-s-book

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/83278/news/nation/ibon-corruption-scandals-under-arroyo-cost-filipinos-p7-3b

http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/investigative/161513-duterte-solicitor-general-acquit-janet-napoles-illegal-detention-benhur-luy

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/826685/5-witnesses-vs-de-lima-seek-pardon

http://www.rappler.com/nation/151751-duterte-teases-robredo-yolanda-anniversary

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/591187/news/nation/evasco-s-text-message-asking-vp-robredo-not-to-attend-cabinet-meetings

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/28/17/yasay-may-be-held-liable-for-perjury-lacson

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/02/28/1676468/lp-senators-stripped-top-panel-posts

http://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/12/22/16/disastrous-budget-duterte-admin-slashes-phs-calamity-fund-by-half

http://www.philstar.com/science-and-environment/2017/02/02/1668037/govt-shuts-down-project-noah

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/868697/duterte-calls-reds-spoiled-brats-orders-arrest-of-freed-leaders

http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2017/02/01/house-speaker-avarez-lowering-minimum-age-of-criminal-responsibility.html

http://www.rappler.com/nation/162716-rape-plunder-treason-removed-death-penalty-bill

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/22/17/china-finishing-west-philippine-sea-buildings-that-could-house-missiles

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/02/killing-squads-inside-philippines-war-drugs

http://www.update.ph/2017/03/dnd-mulls-more-patrols-off-benham-rise/15755

 

WHEN MY HUSBAND’S IDOL LEFT HIM

After my husband Roel’s kidney transplant in 2014, I became extra mindful of the state of his emotional health as I am aware that it has a direct effect on his physical well-being. I asked our kids and my in-laws to course any problem or serious concern that they might want to bring to my husband’s attention through me. I, then, would do the necessary filtering and the difficult task of delivering it to Roel with as much tact and care, and as little adverse impact on his health, as I could possibly manage.

The worst and most devastating news that I had to relay to him was something I received recently, on the first hour of Valentine’s day.

When I received a call from Roel’s sister in the middle of the night, I knew right away that something was amiss. But when the first sounds I heard from the other end of the line were the loud sobbing, the halting, quivering voice and the near hysteria, it became apparent to me that something was terribly wrong.

From what I could piece together from her faltering words, it appeared that Tatay Bebot, my father-in-law, was chatting with a neighbor while washing his car when he suddenly dropped. He was rushed to the nearest hospital and was performed CPR on, but to no avail.

He was declared Dead On Arrival.

Upon hearing about Tatay Bebot’s sudden and unexpected demise, I too was devastated. (He was, after all, like a real father to me in the less than 22 years that I have been married to his son.) However, I couldn’t let my emotion consume me at that time. I had a much more important and pressing mission to accomplish.

I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and put on my bravest face. (By then, Roel already sensed that there was indeed a problem and was anxiously and impatiently waiting for me to talk.)

“Knee, may nangyaring masama kay Tatay.”

“Ha? Ano ‘yun?”

“Isinugod siya sa ospital.”

“Tara, puntahan natin!”

“Knee, wala na siya.”

“Ano ang ibig mong sabihin na wala na siya?!!!”

“Iniwan na tayo ni Tatay. Patay na siya.”

(“Knee, something bad happened to Tatay.”

“Huh? What is it?”

“He was rushed to the hospital.”

“C’mon, let’s go to him!”

“Knee, he’s gone.”

“What do you mean, he’s gone?!!!”

“Tatay already left us. He’s dead.”)

 

And, just like that, Roel was like a melting candle.

He sunk onto our bed with a heavy thud and started wailing.

Child-like.

Woefully.

Pitifully.

Between guttural howls and whimpers were his lamentations of grief and regrets.

Knowing that he direly needed that release, I let him be for about half an hour. Then, gently yet firmly, I reminded him that we had to go to the hospital. As the eldest child, he was expected to be the family’s source of strength and direction.

Our drive to the city was the longest, most heart-wrenching drive that I have had to endure. Both held captive by our respective emotions, we were utterly quiet. The deafening silence in the car was disturbed only by the uncontrollable sobs that occasionally escaped from Roel’s throat.

Witnessing my husband in that emotional condition shattered my heart into small pieces.

When we got to the hospital and saw Tatay Bebot’s lifeless body for the first time, Roel was assailed anew by a deluge of emotions.

He only displayed a semblance of calm when he learned that Tatay did not die alone and lonely. In fact, Tatay Bebot was ecstatic because, after days of waiting, his car was finally released by the auto repair shop and he was, apparently, more than satisfied with the outcome. He wanted to bring the car to a priest the next day to have it blessed (it was recently hit by a reckless motorcycle driver from behind) which explained the late-night car-washing.

The thing with a sudden, unexpected death of a loved one is we are not spared a chance to properly say our goodbyes or anything else, for that matter, that we need to let out of our chest. That is why I decided to write this — to offer a tribute to the man who was sometimes misunderstood by the people he held closest to his heart. By writing the things that Roel, our kids and I will miss most about him, I hope to shed some light about the person he truly was and the life he lived so freely and so passionately.

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This candid shot was taken by Emar, Tatay Bebot’s first grandchild, during their HongKong trip. Here, Tatay was enjoying the view from inside a cable car.

Tatay Bebot loved driving (he was one badass driver!) and was proud of the dignity his work as a driver afforded him (he worked for almost four decades in Napocor as a driver for the Legal Dept.). He used to tell his children never to be ashamed of his job; it was, after all, his reliable partner in providing for and supporting them for many years.

He loved going to the market, particularly to the Balintawak and Divisoria Markets. He was very good at haggling, and he would always haggle with the vendors for the cheapest prices. When he does manage to get a good deal, he would buy in bulk (even if most of it would be left unused). Then he would brag about his haggling prowess. He was adorable like that.

He hated being idle. When he was neither driving nor marketing, he could be found tinkering with his car or messing around the kitchen or doing a million other things around the house.

He loved kaning tutong so much that he refused to let Nanay Leni use a rice cooker. Ever. He preferred his rice cooked the old-fashioned way.

He was a devotee of Our Lady of Lourdes, whose feast coincides with his birthday. Every year, he would hear mass in her shrine in Retiro before the family heads to a restaurant for his birthday dinner.

From the ’80s until each of his kids got married, all of them would always receive a 1,000-peso cash gift from Tatay for Christmas Day. That tradition persisted with his grandchildren, each of whom would receive the same amount during Christmas and their birthdays. Really, somebody should have taught Tatay Bebot the concept of inflation!

He was a voracious eater —this despite him being diabetic and hypertensive. He especially loved sweets. In fact, he always had a pile of chocolates stashed in their fridge.

He loved doting on his grandchildren. I remember when our kids were younger, he learned that they had taken a liking to kambing dishes. Tatay Bebot bought a whole goat and had someone cook adobong kambing, kalderetang kambing, papaitang kambing, sinampalukang kambing, kinilaw na kambing —every kambing dish imaginable — for his beloved grandchildren. He also wanted to be part of all their milestones. Once, he even traveled all the way to Cabanatuan City (where we used to live) just to attend his apos’ preschool moving-up day.

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Tatay Bebot with his wife, his children and his grandchildren

He had this funny mannerism of furiously scratching the back of his ear when he was exasperated or annoyed. It was kind of his trademark (something that Roel inherited from him). And, oh yes, how could I forget his phenomenal cussing! When provoked, he could beat Duterte in a cussing match. Hands down.

Another one of his enduring traditions was that of making rounds to distribute leche flan/ubeng haliya/bibingka to his old work colleagues every New Year’s Eve. I bet that they, too, will miss Tatay if only for that.

He was a practical joker. One of his old colleagues from Napocor shared to us during Tatay’s wake this particular anecdote. They once had an officemate whom they all suspected was a closet queen. To solve what they considered then the world’s greatest mystery, Tatay took matters into his own hands. He found the perfect opportunity when he chanced upon the co-worker one day, standing at the side of a road while waiting for his ride. Tatay, driving an unmarked vehicle with heavily-tinted windows, sharply turned the wheel to where his officemate was standing. In surprise, the clueless victim shrieked and jumped, his arms flailing wildly —while my father-in-law laughed himself crazy at his own antic. He was very proud of himself and is, up to now, widely known among his officemates for being the one responsible in unveiling the mystery surrounding the sexuality of their colleague.

He was a diligent employee. In his 39 years in service, he only had 4 absences, all of which he accrued when his mother, followed by his father, died. He consistently bagged the tardiness award, though.

He was known among family and friends to be frugal. He would always find ways to get the best possible deal. But, he also knew how to effectively manage his finances. He invested in real estates and in old cars that he would refurbish before selling, and he put his remaining money in an investment vehicle that would yield high returns — all because he didn’t want to be a burden to his family. He didn’t spend much on himself when he was still alive (even for hospitalizations) so he could leave enough for his loved ones.

He was street-wise and cynical, but he could also be compassionate. Under any other circumstance, Tatay Bebot would file a formal complaint against the motorcycle driver who recently bumped into the back of his car. But when he saw that the motorcycle was irreparably wrecked and that the driver was shamelessly nagged by his wife despite him being injured, Tatay took pity on the poor driver. Instead of obliging the driver to shoulder all the repair expenses on his car, he let the guy walk away free of any obligation to him. He even gave him some money to have himself checked at the nearest ER.

He never failed to buy lotto tickets, hoping that he would be the country’s next multi-millionaire. His ultimate dream was to build a big house with 4 floors, with each floor allotted to the family of each of his children. He wanted all of us to live together under one roof.

He was sweet. According to his niece, they were surprised to see Tatay Bebot in the audience during her graduation day. They did not  tell him about it but, apparently, he found a way to know the details so that he could witness one of the momentous events in his beloved niece’s life.

Finally, Tatay Bebot was a living proof that life can be short, precarious and fragile. I can’t emphasize that fact enough, friends. We don’t truly own our lives; all of us are living only on borrowed time. Today, we might be inadvertently neglecting our loved ones. Tomorrow, they might be gone forever — leaving us with nothing but a void so great and a long list of i-should-haves, what-ifs, guilt and regrets that no amount of tears and self-reproach can ever ease or even diminish.

YOUNG LOVE, VALIANT LOVE

Imagine this.

“While our friends were enjoying their carefree, spouseless freedom, my husband and I were busy learning how to change a diaper, how to use the feeding bottle sterilizer, and how to burp a baby.

While our friends were partying the night away, we were singing a lullaby to put the baby to sleep.

While our friends were fretting about what to wear or where to go to for a date, we were worried sick about what the future holds for our children.

While our friends splurge on gimmicks, fashion and travels, we were striving to make both ends meet.

While our friends marked their calendars with fun activities, ours were with visits to the pedia and with our baby’s milestones.

While our friends could afford to adopt devil-may-care and happy-go-lucky attitudes, we had to face each day with purpose and determination.

While our friends were enjoying their youth, we were building a family.”

At age 19, Alain and Amy’s world was constantly filled with such sentiments.

You see, they were still in college when they learned that they were expecting a baby.  So much in love with each other and thinking that it was the most responsible way to address the issue at hand, they decided to get married.

They soon realized, however, that plunging into marriage was no walk in the park.

They were completely dependent on their parents for financial support. They were devoid of any plan for their growing family (with three children after barely three years of marriage). And their emotional immaturity and difficulty in adjusting to their new life together were taking quite a toll on their relationship. The occasional petty quarrels that soon turned into frequent fights drove a wedge between the two young, idealistic lovers.

Alain was still finding it hard to let go of his vices and barkada. He could not yet fully grasp the fact that he was no longer single and, as such, had to get his act together. With no clear career plan, he was hopping from one job to another. Amy, on the other hand, resented her husband’s childishness and habitual gimmicks that she soon turned into a nagging wife. Alain would go out with his friends, Amy would nag, and Alain would go out more. For a time, that became a vicious cycle that constantly gnawed at their relationship — a cycle that the two thought would cause their downfall as a married couple.

For years, nothing much had changed in the Andal household. Alain was an on-and-off bum while Amy was a stressed-out nag. Nonetheless, the two made the choice to stay and make things work. After all, they loved their family, they were committed to their vows, and they wanted to prove to everyone, especially to their parents, that not all teenage marriages were bound to fail.

When Things Turned Around

With age came emotional maturity. Gradually, things started to get better with the Andals as they got older.

Alain eventually broke free from his vices; he learned to value work as an indispensable means to fulfill his responsibilities to his family, and he started to realize and acknowledge his wife’s many positive attributes and silent sacrifices. They both became more sensitive to each other’s needs and supportive of each other’s quests for personal growth. Most importantly, they grew together in faith and love with the Lord. That spiritual growth was what propelled them to nurture their relationship more as husband and wife and to be grateful for the simplest blessings that they receive every single day. Alain was and would forever be thankful for his wife’s enduring patience, dedication and selflessness. Amy would always be humbled that the Lord chose her to witness Alain transform from a carefree boy to a principled and responsible man — and knowing that she somehow contributed to that transformation would forever be a source of personal pride.

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When Regrets Turned into Lessons

What Alain and Amy have learned from the past 23 years of living together under one roof is that regrets last only for so long. When couples manage to get past the crucial and difficult times, and when they both choose to stay even when things get rough, regrets ultimately turn into beautiful lessons.

All the doubts, insecurities and fears that once paralyzed them to inaction and killed any chance of realizing their dreams, all the imperfections that marred the perfect love they found in each other, all the wrong choices and bad decisions that adversely affected their lives — all those were the things that put their love and faith in each other to the test. Those made them a lot stronger as a couple and solidified their relationship as a family. Those are what brought them to where they are today. Above all, those left them with valuable lessons that they want to impart not just to their children, but to all the young men and women who are now in romantic relationships.

  1. Don’t rush. There is a right, if not perfect, time for everything. When you’re in your teens, you should be enjoying your youth and figuring out what you really want to do with your lives. You should be discovering your potentials and testing your limits. You should be exploring all the possibilities laid before you. Don’t ruin it by messing around the heavy and serious stuff that are meant only for adults.
  1. Plan ahead. Choose a career path that you will follow and don’t let anything distract you from your goals. Make the achievement of financial security one of your priorities. You need to be prepared for any eventuality.
  1. Remember that things are gonna get better. If you have your back against the wall right now or if something doesn’t happen according to your carefully laid-out plan, be assured that God has better plans stored for you. Don’t despair.
  1. If you decide to marry young and you realize that the road you chose to take is littered with a multitude of difficulties, the best way to overcome those is by going through them together, hand in hand. Don’t let disappointment, frustration, envy, jealousy, hurt and other ill feelings consume you and take permanent residence in your heart.
  1. Always bear in mind that God will never leave you. He will never fail to strengthen and guide you if you only make Him the center of your relationship.

When Goods Things Happen to those who Persevere

23 years into their marriage, Alain and Amy are now living a happy and contented life.

They are both active in their church organizations and are devotees of the Apung Mamacalulu where they go to mass every Friday. They have discovered their common passion which is exploring the outdoors through running, hiking and biking.  They have already finished marathons and climbed mountains together. Individually, they are pursuing their personal dreams. Alain is a professional educator and guidance counselor, and is now working on his PhD in Psychology. Amy is an auditor for a company in Pampanga but is also contemplating on finally taking the board exam.

As parents, they find great pride and joy in the knowledge that they have been able to raise God-fearing, respectful, socially-responsible and goal-oriented kids. Their eldest is now a CPA and is working as an auditor in an accounting firm.  Their middle child graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree of BS Psychology and is now in her 1st year in Law School at San Beda.  Their youngest is currently in her 3rd year as a Medical Technology student and is also doing well in her academics. They have another cared-for daughter (a bonus from above, actually) who is also an academic performer in grade school.

But, what they consider their most gratifying accomplishment so far is the relationship they managed to develop with their children. All their kids treat them like their “peers with boundaries.” They talk about anything under the sun — what bothers them, what they’re passionate about, their thoughts and aspirations and, yes, even about their romantic relationships.

Finally, let me end this story with Alain’s Facebook status update on their wedding anniversary.

23 years of being married to Amy, and I have all of these:

  1. A son who is a CPA
  2. A daughter in Law School
  3. A soon-to-be MedTech daughter who is seriously considering being an MD
  4. An add-on daughter who is top 2 in her Grade 8 class
  5. And an ever loving, agelessly beautiful and always patient wife who made all of the above possible.

Thank God, I’m one of the luckiest and richest Guys in the world!

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HUMORING LOVE

When Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide,” he must have been thinking of the many injustices inflicted on his people.

Or maybe, he just had Aimee in mind.

You see, Aimee’s life before was a classic case of series after series of unfortunate events unfolding right before her eyes —that it was a small wonder that she did not decide to end her “colorful” life!

She got pregnant at the tender and gullible age of 19, while she was still in college. When her relationship with the father of her firstborn did not work out, she shrugged her shoulders and moved on with her life. No use crying over spilled milk, she said to herself.

A few years after, Aimee got entangled in another romantic relationship. But that time, to her family’s delight (and the disappointment of the wagging tongues of the gossipmongers around her), she had a wedding ring on her finger to show off.

Like most young married women who tend to look at their marital lives and partners through rose-tinted glasses, Aimee thought that she finally managed to find her Mr. Right. A man who will provide her with the ideal family that she had always dreamt of having. A man who will be her best friend and reliable life partner and a great father to her kids. A man she envisioned herself growing old with.

Unfortunately, when the glasses slipped down her nose, she saw her husband for what he really was. She was surprised to realize that instead of the prince of her childhood dreams, he was in fact a frog. A spineless frog!

So, barely a year into the marriage, she broke it off and filed for annulment.

That broken marriage left her with a broken heart — and baby number 2.

Never the type to surrender, Aimee took another romantic gamble after her battered heart healed. Believing that third time’s the charm, she had high hopes for that relationship. So, just like with the first two, she gave everything of herself – mind, body and soul —to the relationship.

But when baby number 3, a sickly baby with VSD (a congenital heart disease, wherein there is a hole in the wall separating the ventricles of the heart), came along, everything turned sour.

Not long after that, Aimee found herself alone, penniless and with three children to raise on her own.

With such overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable cards stacked against her, one would think that Aimee would be throwing in the towel by then. Or would be shouting at the top of her lungs to curse and throw vengeful words at God. Or blame the universe for her ill fate. For sure, that’s what I would have done — or most of the women out there — had they been put in Aimee’s shoes.

But, no. Not Aimee.

If Hercules had a female counterpart, that would have been her. She was (still is!) tough, fearless, resilient and tenacious. She never holds grudges. The word “surrender” isn’t in her vocabulary. And, above all, she has the uncanny ability to look at things positively. Humorously, even.

So, instead of dwelling on the many tragedies of her life, she decided to move on. That is, until she met an unexpected man at an unexpected time through an unexpected way.

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Kevin and Aimee Davis

WHEN KEVIN MET AIMEE

Many horrible things can happen when strangers who met online decide to meet in the real world. In this particular story, though, it was the opposite (Aimee is like that — constantly defying the norm).

Aimee and Kevin met online and became instant virtual friends. Through constant and frequent chatting online, their friendship soon blossomed into something sweet, chaste and promising. Aimee’s world was once again bright and happy. They enjoyed and cherished every moment that they would talk, and their worries started to melt away.

Kevin was thirteen years Aimee’s junior, but the two did not let the age gap bother them. Why would they when, between the two of them, Kevin was the one who’s much wiser? He was “an old soul trapped in a young man’s body,” as Aimee described him.

WHEN KEVIN PROPOSED TO AIMEE

It didn’t take long for Aimee to really get to know Kevin. He was the epitome of a true gentleman. He was “super” loving, “super” giving, “super” sweet and “super” honest. He was also “super” humble. He was as transparent as crystal in his love and devotion for Aimee. In his eyes, Aimee was and will always be the only rightful owner of the Miss Universe title. No one else.

But what really endeared him to Aimee was his apparent love for her children. He called her every single day (using a phone card!) to know how the kids were doing and to hear their excited voices. So, when Kevin finally popped the question, there was no doubt in Aimee’s mind that she would be making the best — not to mention, life-altering — decision of her life.

WHEN KEVIN MADE AIMEE “MRS. DAVIS”

Kevin knew all too well what he was getting himself into. He was aware that Aimee would come as part of a package. He understood that once he decided to marry her, he was also committing himself as an instant father to her three children. But he was already truly, madly, deeply in love with her, and he had also learned to love her children as if they were his own.

So, barely a week after he first met her for the first time, he put a ring on Aimee’s finger and made her Mrs. Kevin Davis.

Aimee had to stay in the US for a year while waiting for her green card so, with the kids temporarily left in the Philippines in the care of her older brother, that year sort of became their honeymoon. Wherever Kevin was deployed (he was with the US Navy), Aimee was not too far behind. She even followed him to Dubai and Singapore!

KEVIN AND AIMEE, TOGETHER AGAINST ALL ODDS

The funny couple has been married for eight years now, but anyone who sees how they look at each other could easily mistake them for newlyweds. One would have thought that the passing of time and all the challenges that they had — and still have — to face as a family would somehow diminish the saccharine quality of their affection for each other. But, it’s Aimee we’re talking about here. The same Aimee who is used to defying convention, who never lets things get her down, and who always manages to find humor in any situation, or a silver lining in every cloud.

Not everyone they love approved of their relationship, but Kevin and Aimee were able to prove to everyone that they are in it for the long haul.

Their marriage is characterized by long separations due to Kevin’s line of work, but they always make up for lost time whenever he is with his family.

Kevin and Aimee came from the opposite ends of the world and were raised in completely different cultures, but they have both learned to adjust to, accept and respect each other’s deeply-ingrained values and beliefs.

Aimee sustained a major emotional blow with the sudden passing of her beloved brother, the one who served as her anchor when her world was spinning out of control, but Kevin was able to alleviate her pain with his genuine concern and understanding.

Aimee suffered two miscarriages during the early part of their marriage, but baby number 4’s arrival in their life three years after their wedding was more than enough to compensate for their losses.

Baby number 3 has VSD, but he had a successful heart valve replacement surgery a couple of years back. He is now the family’s real-life Ironman.

5-year-old baby number 4 has AVM, another congenital disease that involves a rare vascular malformation of the brain. He is already scheduled to go under the knife next week, and his army of prayer warriors is now geared up for their task ahead.

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Kevin with his boys

Surely, the road that Kevin and Aimee are taking together with their family is strewn with many other difficulties and trials. But as long as they continue to nurture their love and dedication to each other, and maintain their attitude of not taking life too seriously, nothing could ever beat this formidable tandem. After all, humor is supposed to be a great way of defending ourselves from life’s absurdities.

9 GREAT REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD INVEST IN CAMAYA COAST RESORT

Have you already heard of the concept work-life balance? It is a comfortable state of equilibrium achieved when a person efficiently and effectively manages his time (and other resources) between his professional and personal lives. It is essential to acquire and maintain this healthy balance for one’s optimum well-being. Congruent with this goal, we should work hard not only to advance our careers but, more so, to be able to afford the finer things in life and to enjoy those that make us truly happy —family and friends, leisure, pleasure, physical wellness, spiritual health, etc.

However, even in our quest for happiness, we should be cautious and wise in spending our hard-earned money.

Investing is a brilliant way of taking control of our future while fulfilling various personal goals in the present. There are many investment vehicles available for us but real estate still remains the safest (it is a good hedge against inflation) and, if managed wisely, the most profitable of all the choices. Now, we are left with the crucial question, “Which real estate should we invest in?”

I am not a sales agent (I’m just a humble blogger), but I have recently been to this particular resort and I saw the place’s great potential both as a tourist hub and an investment option.

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Tucked in a sheltered and serene corner of Mariveles, Bataan is Camaya Coast, a continuously growing and expanding eco-resort community. It is a 450-hectare project that includes commercial and residential developments (six subdivisions, to be exact, each offering a different view of the island ), and with a coastal length of 3.2 kms.

Manuel Carlos “Goody” Ilagan, Jr., President of Earth and Shore Leisure and Communities Corp. and the brains behind this ambitious and admirable project, envisions Camaya as the premier integrated eco-tourism destination in the country by year 2020.

Here, let me give you nine (9) reasons why you should consider Camaya your best investment option:

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A group of pawikan making their way into the sea
  1. Nature galore. Focused on promoting eco-tourism, 30% of the total area of Camaya will be kept as natural forest reserves. The property boasts of two coves, white-sand beach, mountains and cliffs, waterfalls, and a sparkling river that flows all the way to the beach resort. Promenade, a nature escape that covers 15 hectares, features a 15-km trail along the slopes of the Camaya property. There is a fruit farm, too, full of fruit-bearing trees, such as cashew nuts, star apples, mangoes, citrus, coffee and cacao. Plenty of activities await the nature and adventure lovers: exploring the various trails (adventure, biking, ATV, horseback-riding and Nature Park), hiking to the waterfalls, cove-hopping, and fruit-picking at the farm. The Camaya Coast is also home to the Olive Ridley (locally known as pawikan), one of the seven species of sea turtles. During hatching season, be awed by the sight of the baby sea turtles as they make their way into the sea.
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The view from one of the rooms of the Camaya Sands Hotel
  1. Idyllic and comfortable life where stress, pollution and traffic are alien concepts. With an elevation of 60 to 150 meters above sea level, each home will have an unobstructed view of the coast line below, the azure waters of the West Philippine Sea, the clear skies, the rolling hills, the verdant mountains, and the stunning sunset at the end of each day. Camaya Coast is where the bright hues of blue, white and green seamlessly merge. The resort is perfect for retirees who are looking for peace and quiet and some relaxing recreational activities to fill their golden years; for families who love to bask in the sun and to revel in the many activities that Camaya offers for both the young and the young at heart; for yuppies looking for a quick get-away from their daily grind; and for companies searching for venues for their team-building and other activities.
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The 9-hole golf course, one of the developments in Camaya
  1. The lifestyle of the rich and famous is now made accessible and affordable even to the not-so-rich-and-famous among us. Currently, the only developments, amenities and consumer outlets available to the resort guests are the boutique hotel (with its 35 rooms, gym, spa, swimming pool and lounge), the event hall, the infinity swimming pool, the inflatable waterpark, and a handful of dining and hang-out destinations and retail outlets dotting the beach (Giordano, Pancake House, Figaro, Max’s Restaurant, Shakey’s Pizza, Big Chill, Potato Corner, Sand Bar, BBQ Grill and Snack Bar). But when all the developments and world-class amenities are finally in place, Camaya will have its own 9-hole golf course, Yacht Club, Seaplane, Retail Village, Arcade, Cinema, Banquet Hall, Convention Center, a bigger boutique hotel, an expanded infinity pool, Water Park, Campsite Hotel, and Promenade. Cabin cruise tours that will take the residents and guests back in time with their day trips to the Corregidor Island and the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, will also be available. Finally, Camaya ferries provide two trips every weekday and four trips every weekend from Manila to Camaya and back. And one can explore the resort without breaking a sweat because of the golf carts that are available to all. Hassle-free traveling and sweat-free exploring. Quite pampered, huh? But, hey, don’t be green with envy! You can also be a property owner in Camaya and live in constant luxury. Payment options and/or financing terms for buyers are flexible. When you purchase a property, for instance, you may complete your payment in 10 to 15 years with no down payment required, at a low and fixed annual interest rate of only 7%. That offer is better than what you can avail in Pag-Ibig! When you opt to pay outright cash, moreover, you will be given a discount from 10% to as much as 34%, depending on the price of the property you are buying. Also, when the property you are buying costs PhP2.5M or higher, the 12% VAT that you will need to pay will be completely waived. And you may build your house with as little as PhP1.5M. There’s no required house design that would cost you an arm and a leg.
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No dull moment at this park!
  1. 49 fully-furnished units of their modern condotel are income-generating properties that could be available to you through their Hotel Rental program. This scheme is perfect for OFWs, immigrants and enterprising Pinoys who won’t frequently use their units but prefer those to yield steady income instead of sitting around accumulating dust. As a delightful bonus, your real estate investment in this Aqua Fun Condotel and Water Park will be more than just a condominium unit. It will be at the heart of fun and adventure! Aqua Fun is a water leisure park that will showcase giant slides, multi-level water play structures and other thrilling water rides that you and your guests will surely enjoy.
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One of the waterfalls found inside the 450-hectare property of Camaya
  1. Camaya is an environmentally-friendly community which makes use of “a sewage treatment plant and a silt trap, both of which are meant to keep the area clean and safe while maintaining the balance of natural elements. In addition, the buildings in the development are constructed with a material called Plasform Panel which is claimed to be lightweight and easy to handle and eliminates the use of timber and plywood, and the cost for plastering.”
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Are you into sports? The beach? Nature? No worries, Camaya has you covered!
  1. An array of fun activities is available for everyone’s enjoyment. The sports enthusiasts can decide to go swimming or play tennis, badminton, dodgeball, billiards, basketball, volleyball and table tennis. For the beach fanatics who consider the water their playground, banana boating, speed boating, rubber boating, kick boarding, kayaking, diving, swimming, body boarding, snorkelling, jet skiing and fishing are their choices. The beach comes alive during the evening when a live band and a group of fire dancers perform for their party-going audience. The grand fireworks display will leave everyone breathless.
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Who knows? You might also see in Camaya Derek Ramsay in trunks or Marian Rivera in swimsuit
  1. The chance to rub shoulders with many of our celebrities. To heed their collective request for privacy, I won’t give out their names here but, believe me, many of the biggest names in the worlds of show business, sports, politics, business, mass media and beauty pageant may be your next-door neighbor in Camaya. The resort is also fast becoming a favorite beach destination to these celebrities.
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When you need to catch your breath, you can easily grab one of these wicker chairs and relax under the shade of the palm trees
  1. The properties in Camaya are selling like hotcakes. There was a total of 3,677 properties up for sale, but approximately 3,000 of those have already been sold. This just goes to show that many people have seen what I saw in Camaya —a great potential.
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Get your camera ready! This spot is perfect for your instragam-worthy photos.
  1. There is a readily available and extremely accommodating Sales Manager who will assist you in making your dream come true. Simply get in touch with me and I’ll give you his contact details.

Finally, there is no better time to invest than NOW. The young professionals need to invest for their future. The new parents need to invest for their children’s financial security. The OFWs and immigrants need to invest for when they decide to stay in the country. The enterprising Pinoy needs to invest for bigger earnings. The doting grandparents need to invest for their grandchildren’s inheritance. The retirees need to invest to enjoy to the fullest their remaining years.

And where else would you rather invest in than in this little paradise? Dubbed as The Little Boracay of Bataan, Camaya is proving to everyone that “Life is, indeed, breathtakingly simple!”

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One of the ferries that will take you to paradise that is Camaya
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The mesmerizing view that greets the guests disembarking from the ferry
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The Camaya beach has an unlimited supply of these chairs
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Perfect for the beach bums who love to bask in the sun
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Longing for a royal treatment? This beach cabana will satisfy that longing.
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Imagine yourself lounging in one of these while a masseur’s hands are working magic on your tired muscles!
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These loungers are waiting for you. Just for you.
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This river flows from the mountain all the way to the sea
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Can you hear the lapping sound that the waves make against this hill?
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Another picture-perfect spot!
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Stuck in traffic on your way to the mall? Why not rush to Camaya where you can enjoy this instead?
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Horsing around is not just for kids!
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Communing with nature. If we can only bottle an experience as profound as this!
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The perfect way to move around Camaya.
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This band  keeps the strollers, the loungers and the diners entertained. Wanna join in?
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Take a refreshing dip in Camaya’s famed infinity pool!
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The Camaya Sands Hotel is just a stone’s throw away from the sea. Literally!
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The hotel’s pool
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One of the hotel’s rooms by the pool
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This looks like a helipad
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The basketball court in Camaya

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Can you say no to living in a house like this?
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Exquisite. There’s no other word to describe this sunset in Camaya.
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This is how you catch the sun
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Playing with fire in Camaya is fun!

*All the pictures used in this article are grabbed from the Facebook page of Camaya Coast.