10 THINGS OUR FATHERS ARE BEST AT

They are the silent yet reliable fixtures in our lives, the families’ pillars of strength, and the mothers’ steady but often underrecognized and unsung partners in raising and nurturing their children. They are our discreet cheerleaders, the steadfast shoulders we can cry on, and the proud fans who inconspicuously carry their family’s photos around like a badge of honor.

They are our fathers.

Today that we celebrate them and their daily acts of quiet heroism, let us push them out of the sidelines where they are most comfortable in, and into the limelight that is their rightful place. Together, let us count the things that our fathers are best at.

 

  1. They are best at waiting. Have you seen the McDonald’s Fathers’ Day tribute video? Fathers are known to wait for their children – sometimes wearily and self-consciously but, oftentimes, patiently. He waited for your arrival outside the delivery room, at the daycare center while you were chatting with your new friends, at the kiddie party while you were playing and dancing with the mascots, at the bookstore while you were reading some fairytale books, at the amusement park while you were enjoying your favorite rides, at the field while you were taking a shower after a game, at the corner of a boutique while you were shopping for some dresses and shoes, at the car while you were attending your prom or some friend’s party, at the steps of the building while you were taking your college entrance exam, at the bus terminal after your fieldtrip or out-of-town excursion, and at the living room for your arrival after a date.

They know that they are not yet done with the waiting but they are not complaining – as long as they have their mobile data at hand.

 

  1. They are best at worrying. Fathers are certified worriers. Do you remember the first time you rode your bike? Your first day in school? The first time you were hospitalized? Your first recital? Your first inter-school competition? Your first speech before a big crowd? Your first unchaperoned date? Your first time behind the wheel? Your first job interview?

Your fathers are always there with you – anxiously pacing back and forth, nail biting, hair-pulling, hyperventilating. He learned how to pray the rosary because of you.

 

  1. They are best at hiding their most intense emotions. Culture dictates that men are supposed to be strong, that they should never surrender, that they don’t shed tears. However, when you ran to him to have your scraped knee kissed after you fell off the stairs, when you gave him an impulsive hug in exchange for some McDonald’s kiddie toys, when you handed him your medals after the recognition ceremony, and then during your teenage years, when you would repeatedly lie to him to cover up for your friends, when you gave him your first eye roll, when you chose to watch his favorite movie with a girl than with the family, when you forgot to greet him on his birthday – he had always put on a brave face.

Your fathers want you to believe that they are unaffected, when, deep inside, their hearts are ripped into small pieces with your every action.

 

  1. They are best at dishing out words of wisdom. While mothers are normally the naggers in the house, fathers are the source of succinct yet profound and penetrating statements that stay with you long after you have become a parent yourself. Sometimes, though, fathers can convey their message more effectively with a deafening silence coupled with a simple pointed look or a tilt of the head or a raised eyebrow.

 

  1. They are best at teaching. With all the things that your mothers are too busy to teach you, the fathers are just too eager to take charge. Who taught you the rules of ball games? How to fly a kite? How to swim? How to play the guitar? How to pitch the tent? How to cook over an open fire? How to use basic tools? How to ride a bike? How to dress like a gentleman? How to defend yourself? How to treat girls right? How to drive? How to change a flat tire? Who taught you that it is okay for both boys and girls to cry?

 

Father-and-Son-silhouette2

 

  1. They are best at protecting. When our firstborn was just a toddler, he nearly drowned in a swimming pool. My husband didn’t know how to swim but, without a moment’s hesitation, he jumped in — shoes, wallet, cellphone, and all! When our second child, as a small boy with a big voice, was bullied by his classmates and locked up by his own adviser in a tiny storage room for not talking in class, my husband, livid with rage, marched to the principal’s office and demanded that the incident (and the concerned teacher) be investigated, asap! When our youngest child was hospitalized, and a newbie nurse who didn’t know how to find a vein made a needle cushion out of our daughter’s arms, my husband furiously berated the nurse’s superior for letting loose an untrained nurse to attend to some unsuspecting patient.

My husband is normally level-headed, but you dare touch any of our children and you’d find yourself in big trouble. A mother-grizzly-bear kind of trouble! I bet most fathers are just as protective with their own children.

 

  1. They are best at giving. Fathers know their children’s needs and try to address these the best way they know how. They can be relied upon to give words of comfort when you are down, of encouragement when you are having a crappy day, of assurance and confidence when you are doubting yourself, of praises when you achieve something you worked hard for, of caution when you tend to be impulsive and careless, of inspiration and motivation when you are about to embark on a new adventure, of challenge when you are lulled into a false sense of complacency, of guidance when you are drifting away from your personal goals, of gratitude when you become exceptionally generous to your siblings, and of faith when you are on the verge of giving up hope.

They also provide you with their precious time, happy memories, an ideal home, and a good education. And your allowance (and something extra that your mother knows nothing about), of course!

 

  1. They are best at listening and observing. Your fathers have been your captive audience ever since you flashed them your very first smile when you were just an infant. From your senseless babbling and mumbling to your excited squeals during a game of peekaboo, from your first pitiful attempts at singing to your incoherent story-telling, from your nervous giggles each time you would see your crush pass by to your oohs and aahs at the sight of a pretty dress on the mannequin, from your annoying aghhhs and eeews to your exasperating duhs and whatevers, from your loud chatters to your happy humming along with the music, from your silent sobs due to heartaches to your heart-wrenching wailing when your dog died — your fathers have heard them all.

Do you know what they miss hearing from you, though? A whispered “I love you” to remind them that you appreciate them somehow.

 

  1. They are best at learning. Since your fathers are, basically, observers, they learn tons of things from you. They learn, for instance, that when there are babies in the house, sleep and rest become things of the past. They learn that, when the babies start to crawl, they need to be as fast as The Flash to be able to keep up. They learn that, when the little ones start to walk, they need a weekly massage for those back pains from too much hunching over. They learn that, when the terrible twos come around, nothing is safe from being destroyed, eaten, peed on, climbed on, and jumped off. They learn that, when the toddlers turn into threenagers, they are given a sneak peek at the horrors they would face ten years down the line. They learn that “why” can be the most loathsome word in the world. They learn that, no matter how much they love you, there are days when they wish they just bought dogs rather than have babies.

And, then, the kids grow into despicable teens. That entails a different set of horrible realizations altogether.

 

  1. They are best at setting an excellent example. To be effective role models for you, fathers have mastered the art of walking the talk. They know that no amount of flowery words could ever compensate for broken promises, loveless marriage, or a gloomy future. And so, they exert enormous effort to make sure that your home and family will be conducive to raising children who are happy, hardworking, respectful, loving, strong, confident, empowered, appreciative, kind, and prayerful by being all those things himself.

 

Despite all these, however, don’t place them on a pedestal.

They may seem to know it all, but most of the time, they are terrified that they are doing it all wrong. They may look strong and steady when all they want to do is slump in the corner and cry. They may appear self-assured and dependable when they are secretly longing for the heavy burden to be lifted off their shoulders even just for a little while.

Yes, they have their shortcomings and misgivings. They have fears, doubts and regrets. They commit mistakes. They falter and fall.

But don’t get disappointed. Don’t be annoyed. Don’t be enraged. Instead, give them your sweetest smile and say, “I understand you, take a much-needed break. I do not love you any less just because you are showing me your weakness.” With those words, you might just prove to your fathers that all those years of sacrifices and compromises have not been for naught. That they have managed to raise wonderful kids. That they have not failed in the most important role that they are playing…that of fatherhood.

THE ART OF CONDITIONING THE FILIPINOS’ MINDS

Rodrigo Duterte’s entry into the national political arena, and his eventual ascension to the presidency, opened the floodgates to numerous powerful assertions that changed, and are still changing, the way most Filipinos view and accept things. His repeated public pronouncements on various issues have managed to condition our minds to abandon some deeply entrenched values and beliefs to accommodate his largely unconventional and radical ideas and views. The questions thus currently burning a hole in our minds are these: “When his term ends, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be? Or would we even want that to happen?”

The following are Duterte’s claims and proclamations that many of his supporters are gobbling up—greedily, naively, insatiably.

 

The country seriously needs change, and it can only be acquired through Duterte.

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 most marginalized members of our 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 interests were 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.

As much as I don’t want to come off as the previous administration’s mouthpiece, much less its apologist, but history would tell us that President Aquino is largely credited for stabilizing our economy when most in the region was stumbling or falling apart. (President Duterte himself admitted that there was no need to fix the country’s economy left by PNoy because it was doing well.) PNoy even enjoyed a 57% satisfaction rating days before he vacated Malacañang – the highest among the ratings of all the post-Martial Law presidents.

Even the die-hard LP supporters have to admit though that, like the other presidents before him, PNoy had his shortcomings and lapses in judgment, some with graver consequences than others. But I would like to believe that the man served his country the best way he knew how. He just needed a few more years to allow the people to fully enjoy the proverbial fruits of his labor, thus, his appeal for continuity.

But, no, we couldn’t give him that.

How could we when we were already conditioned to clamor for change? We were made to believe that waiting did not have to be an option when someone else could very well make our lives better in an instant. Yes, we, the most gullible of the lot, fell for all those promises of quick results – hook, line and sinker. It didn’t matter one iota that most of those promises were ludicrous, outrageous, unrealistic, or ill-thought-out, as proven by the developments and changes that have already taken place under Duterte’s administration.  (Read Change Has Truly Come Sa Bayan Ni Juan.)

 

The country is plunging into narco-statehood.

I am sick and tired of hearing President Duterte’s repeated assertions that the Philippines is on the verge of becoming a narco state. He used that claim during the campaign, and won the presidency primarily because of his bold promise to eradicate drugs, along with corruption and criminality, in just 3-6 months after he assumes office. Now, already on his 12th month and with more than 12,000 drug-related casualties, he continues to feed us with the same statement during his public tirades and rants…as if he also needs to constantly convince himself of its veracity.

But, how serious, really, is the drug problem in the country?

Based on the 2015 nationwide survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippine, as commissioned by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), drug use incidence from Jan 1, 2015 – Feb 5, 2016 is at an estimated 1.8 million, or 1.8% of that year’s total population.

I am not, in any way, trying to discount or even downplay this number or its possible social and criminal repercussions, but this figure is hardly tantamount to an epidemic – especially considering the facts that it was significantly lower than the recorded 6.7 million users in the country in 2004 (the year with the highest recorded number of drug users) and the 5.2% global average of drug use in 2014.

So where did the President get his figure of 4 million “drug addicts,” you ask?

According to the same survey, the lifetime drug use prevalence in the country is at around 6.1%. Simply translated, this means that the number of Filipinos who have used illegal drugs at least once in their lives is 4.8 million. President Duterte might have drawn his 4 million figure from this datum. Or it may be, as the President constantly claims, from ex-PDEA Chief Dionisio Santiago’s old estimate of 3 million —which the former raised to 4 million using a highly complex process called logical deduction that only he was privy to. (Note that the PDEA Chief was one of the 17 members of DDB, hence, his sole source of official data and figures should be the DDB itself.)

Either way, the President’s basis for his 4 million figure is clearly erroneous. Intentional or otherwise, President Duterte based the “bloody” all-out war that the government continues to wage against illegal drugs on an incorrect premise.

 

The country will be better off if we ally ourselves with China (and if we keep our distance from our long-time partners like the US and the EU).

The President has also been conditioning us to believe that China is our country’s ally – a benevolent, reliable and generous one. He wants us to conveniently ignore China’s blatant disregard of the UN arbitral tribunal ruling favoring the Philippines on our maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea. Questioning China’s bullying, territorial-grabbing and subjugating efforts would, for him, reduce us to nothing more than a bunch of ingrates. So, the next time China builds another artificial island on the WPS, undertakes an exploration of Benham Rise, threatens our fishermen anew, questions our DND Secretary’s visit to one of the islands in the WPS, or worse, sends drones and surveillance cameras and targets us with their precision weapons and missiles should we decide to drill oil there, we should just try to look the other way and remind ourselves of all of China’s pledges – a ready market for our exported bananas, an influx of Chinese tourists, a dole-out of investments and loans, and an unlimited supply of illegal drugs. (Read this.)

 

The Catholic Church will soon be passé.

The Philippines is home to the largest Catholic population in Asia, holding the record for being the third largest Catholic country in the world. Under the present administration though, the Church has been the subject of constant attacks, tirades, and condemnation from no less than the President himself. When clergymen and church figures criticize Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, the President readily retaliates by lambasting the church and its leaders, claiming that the Church has no moral ascendancy and is a hypocritical institution that will soon be irrelevant and passé. Once, he even urged Catholics to stop listening to the priests and, instead, join the Iglesia ni Duterte – a religion he would establish that, he claimed, would not be as restrictive as the Catholic Church. In his Iglesia, he added, men can have as many as five wives.

 

The media is the epitome of bias and corruption.

When the President’s controversial and, oftentimes, contradicting statements and pronouncements stir discord, draw flak, or are picked up by the international press, the local media usually bear the brunt of Malacañang’s censure and wrath. The Chief Executive and his henchmen allege the journalists of unfair reporting and of deliberately misinterpreting, misunderstanding, misquoting, twisting, or sensationalizing Duterte’s words. Critics claim that this knee-jerk reaction and behavior could be considered an attempt to discredit or undermine the media. In the face of the most recent expletive-laden attacks and allegations of the President against the media, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility proclaimed that that form of harassment and intimidation “has brought the highest office to a historic low.” It could be recalled that Communications Secretary Andanar, a media practitioner himself, once accused the Senate media of receiving $1,000 each for covering the press conference of self-confessed DDS member, retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas. Mocha Uson, an ardent supporter of Duterte and, now, a presidential appointee, makes a habit of calling the media outfits that are critical of the president, “presstitutes.” She also makes a habitual call to her millions of online supporters to boycott the country’s traditional, mainstream media. Additionally, when Duterte won the online poll for the Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, his supporters rejoiced. Malacañang said that it was indicative of the fact that Duterte is “so admired” by Filipinos and international leaders because of his national agenda. However, when his approach against drugs was heavily criticized by a former Colombian President, who was tasked by Time Magazine to pen the write-up on Duterte (while Duterte’s archnemesis, Sen. Leila De Lima, received a glowing write-up from a former US Ambassador), Malacañang was quick to point out that the said magazine has not been fair by choosing to focus on the negative, unsubstantiated news about the President, while failing to mention the reason behind De Lima’s incarceration.

 

Spreading fake news is fine, even for government agencies and entities.

Both the Philippine News Agency and Mocha Uson, as the newly appointed Assistant Secretary for Social Media, are under the competent stewardship of Andanar’s PCOO. Uson has been the source of numerous fake news that Duterte supporters gleefully spread. Apparently, her new government position does not deter her from continuing with her old ways as she recently shared a wrong photo of the Philippine Army on Facebook. PCOO, on its part, was responsible for an animated video promoting Martial Law, while PNA has had its fair share of blunders like its report that 95 nations, in their UN Human Rights Council meeting, were convinced that there are no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

 

139

 

The opposition is constantly working to destabilize the government.

Under this administration, opposition is not regarded as a necessary partner in legitimizing our democratic right to dissent, or even in hearing out the voices coming from the proverbial other side of the fence. Instead of directly addressing the issues hurled at them, Duterte and his minions of apologists and defenders are known to malign, intimidate, mock, verbally abuse, humiliate, threaten, persecute and, in Sen. De Lima’s case, jail anyone who holds contrary views and adversarial positions. The United Nations, the European Union, leaders of other nations, human rights advocates, the faith-based groups, and the international and local media – they are all nothing but an unruly bunch working closely with the “dilawan” in hounding and attacking the government, with the sole intent of overthrowing it. Early this year, all the remaining opposition senators were stripped of leadership posts and committee chairmanships while, in the House of Representatives, the solons who voted against the death penalty bill were ousted from their key posts. If this tyrannical condition persists, all the political dissenters under this administration will eventually find themselves cowering in the corner, voiceless and powerless, behind bars or, worse, rotting away six feet under.

 

Slut shaming, catcalling, disrespecting or objectifying women is acceptable.

President Duterte’s sexist, chauvinistic and, to an extent, misogynistic reputation remains intact months after he assumed presidency. More than 16 million voters chose to ignore the offensive “jokes” Duterte constantly delivered during his campaign sorties – jokes about his multiple girlfriends (of which one of them he claims is for his “short-time” use only), their housemaid that he used to molest in her sleep, the Australian missionary raped and brutally killed by a gang of inmates that he thought was a waste because the missionary was so beautiful that he should have been first among those who lined up to rape her, and of Duterte actually giving a couple of his female supporters a liplock. During a press conference shortly after his inauguration, he catcalled a female reporter. (Catcalling, for him, is a compliment if we are to believe his apologist in Malacañang.) During the anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda and in front of hundreds of the typhoon’s survivors, he admitted to ogling at VP Leni’s knees during their cabinet meetings.  He also used the rumor of a sex tape to slut-shame Senator De Lima on national TV. In his apparent effort to defend House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez against the issue of womanizing, Duterte said that it simply couldn’t be helped; “There are so many women and so short a time in this world.” Just recently, he made another rape joke in front of our troops fighting in Marawi City. His supporters, meanwhile, believe that Duterte’s behavior towards women is a non-issue. After all, they voted for a president, neither for a priest nor a saint.

 

Government resources can be used freely to pay for personal debts of gratitude.

When the President won, he promised to hire only the “best and the brightest.” The Filipino people deserve only the best, he quipped – “walang palakasan o anumang utang na loob.” Naturally, his supporters gloated. Today, we, the taxpayers, are paying the likes of RJ Jacinto, Arnell Ignacio, Kat De Castro, Aiza Seguerra, Liza Dino, Cesar Montano, and Mocha Uson – not because of their admirable academic backgrounds, competencies, personal attributes, or experience in public service, but because these celebrities happened to support Duterte during his campaign. Duterte himself admitted that those appointments are his way of paying his debt of gratitude to his loyal supporters. His foreign trips are also highly criticized due to countless tag-alongs and free riders (Ex-President Ramos called Duterte’s Russia trip a junket.). With no less than the president openly advocating and practicing patronage in government, worse cases of corruption will inevitably be more prevalent under this administration.

 

Killing/Waging war is the panacea for our country’s many ills.

When the most powerful man in the land promises to kill every drug dealer and user, and promotes killing as the most effective and fastest approach to winning his war on drugs, and when his officials believe that drug addicts are not humans and are thus not entitled to the most basic of human rights, we better be prepared for the inevitable deadly outcomes. Laws and due processes are blatantly disregarded. Human rights are abused and trampled on. The death toll continues to rise at an alarming rate. Bills such as the Death Penalty and the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Liability are feared to be used for the government’s bloody campaign against drugs. Critics of the war on drugs are cursed, threatened, or persecuted. Law enforcers are emboldened to take the law into their own hands. The root causes of the problems are not duly addressed. Even the issue of China’s illegal and baseless claim on the WPS was reduced by Duterte to an unsavory pick between two choices only: the relinquishment of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the disputed waters OR an all-out war against China. Filing a diplomatic protest before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal is not an option for this administration.

 

Duterte can get away with almost anything because he is a popular President.

Filipinos are known to be a forgiving race, but where the present Commander-in-Chief is concerned, many of us could go as far as being unquestioning and complicit. He curses virtually everyone as much as he wants during presscons and public speeches, and we hardly bat an eyelash. He threatens to kill somebody, and we shrug our shoulders. He slut shames a woman, and we laugh uproariously. He gives the WPS to China on a silver platter, because it is, after all, “theirs historically”, and we feign indifference. He puts people’s reputation and lives in jeopardy by publicly disclosing unverified lists and making unsupported claims, and we rejoice unabashedly. He travels with his friends and supporters using our hard-earned taxes, and we endure with calm acceptance. He rubs elbows with big-time plunderers and oligarchs, and we react with fierce protectiveness. All of these make me wonder: How low a level should the President stoop to before we finally wake from this deep apathy?

 

It’s just a matter of time before the entire Philippines is placed under Martial Law.

In the wake of Ferdinand Marcos’ dreadful years of dictatorship, Filipinos have avoided the possibility of another Martial Law like the plague. A mere mention of it could cause some of us to shiver with fear. But due to Duterte’s constant and seemingly casual reference to it – as a response to CJ Sereno’s alleged interference with his job, to the “sheer magnitude of the drug problem in the country,” to lawless violence after the Davao blast, to a need to “preserve his country,” to the crisis in Mindanao –, many of us have gradually grown desensitized to the idea. Now that he has already declared ML over the entire Mindanao, we should brace ourselves to Duterte’s imminent declaration of expanding it to cover the whole country and, possibly, beyond the constitutionally mandated 60-day period. Especially after announcing that he would ignore the Supreme Court and Congress if they try to meddle with his decision.

 

The erosion of our moral values is no cause for alarm or even concern.

Throwing our all-out support behind a particular leader could actually be commendable, but doing so at the expense of some values, beliefs and principles that are deeply embedded in our culture and psyche is alarming. Go to a link to a Rappler or ABS-CBN’s article about Sen. De Lima or VP Robredo and it would be impossible not to notice how Filipinos today could be indifferent or complacent on one hand, and ruthless, harsh and violent on the other. Bigotry is now at its peak. Comments and remarks laced with malice and virulence are flying around. Vindictiveness has become the name of the game. Integrity, benevolence, diplomacy, and basic respect for others have flown out the window when Duterte and his minions occupied the Malacañang Palace almost a year ago.

 

With six years’ worth of mental conditioning under the present administration, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be when his term eventually ends? Would we even want that to happen?

HOW TO CRUSH AN IDIOTIC MIND

Untitled

So you think I’m ranting? You can bet your last cent, I am! And I am ranting because I am now beyond being sad, alarmed, indignant and angry.

I. Am. Livid!

Why? Let me share with you all the idiotic posts I have been reading on my FB feed lately, and the reasons why I consider them such.

1. Declaring ML is a presidential prerogative.

True, it is a presidential prerogative. There is no argument about that. The issue here is whether the recent developments and the present situation in Marawi warrant the declaration of ML over the entire group of islands in Mindanao. What could be Duterte’s compelling reason to declare ML when the AFP and the Pres’l Spokesperson have been repeatedly issuing statements that the situation in Marawi was stabilized and that the AFP had the situation under control. They have also been giving out constant assurance that there is no ISIS presence in the country.

Duterte, on the other hand, has been singing an entirely different tune. During his meeting with Pres. Putin, for instance, he said that he needed the latter’s help in fighting ISIS elements that “have occupied a part of a Philippine town.” Where did he get that intel if not from the AFP? And in case he would later claim that he has another source, why did he not share that extremely sensitive info with the AFP?

Personally, I think that with his declaration of ML, Duterte has just ticked an important item off his bucket list. It has always been his dream. So with or without a compelling reason, Martial Law was bound to happen under this administration. He had been toying with the idea since he assumed office and, with his flip flopping and sometimes contradictory statements about Martial Law, he has been testing the waters, so to speak. (Click here http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/specialreports/611900/duterte-s-martial-law-warnings-for-mindanao/story/ and here http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/158810-understanding-duterte-martial-law-remarks ) It’s just sad that the first president from Mindanao, instead of addressing the root causes of the problems there (poverty, land-grabbing, social inequality, injustice, etc), would use this situation to fulfill a personal fantasy.

2. Martial Law has been declared in Mindanao, yet the people ranting against it are from Luzon and Visayas.

The last time I checked, there remain three main islands that comprise the Philippines –Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao— so, whether we like it or not, we are all in this together. Moreover, the latest developments in Mindanao inevitably affect the whole country as the declaration of ML opens deep, painful and festering wounds from the past. Also, ML in Mindanao is and should be everyone’s concern –Mindanaoan or not—especially since Duterte is already contemplating the idea of extending it beyond the constitutionally-mandated maximum of 60 days and expanding it to cover the entire country. So, yes, every Filipino should speak up now. While we still can.

3. If you can’t be of help, shut the fuck up! You are reeking of the stench of a yellow cult/Dilawan/oligarch/elitist/!

Before you go on with your name-calling, let me remind you that the role of opposition is crucial to a country’s democracy, and the government should accept that role, however small or inconvenient it may prove to be.

It is the opposition’s role to challenge government policies and provide alternatives where appropriate. It is the opposition’s role to question the government and hold it accountable to the public. It is the opposition’s role to ensure that all voices will be heard. In return, the government should respect and listen to the opposition. They should not be made to feel threatened, maligned, intimidated, mocked, abused, humiliated, persecuted or eternally silenced by the government or its supporters.

As a good Filipino citizen, there are at least three things that I do to help my country — I pay my taxes right, I abide by the laws of our land, and I take my role as an opposition to heart. Oh, and there’s one more. I try to empower as many of my kababayan as I can by informing and educating them through social media. I write articles and share information acquired only from reliable, credible and verifiable sources. I never spread fake news or the revisionist’s version of our history.

4. The President, the AFP and the other authorities know what they are doing. Let them do their job.

If the authorities really know what they are doing, Duterte as the Commander-in-Chief should not have left the country with all his security and defense officials in tow. But, as it is, he went to Russia –supposedly for an entire week– with PNP Chief Dela Rosa, AFP Chief Año, DND Sec. Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Esperon, Exec. Sec. Medialdea, ARMM Police Director Sindac, and the commanding generals of all three major service commands – the army, navy and air force. They left the government defense forces virtually without leaders amidst the numerous police and military operations that they are conducting all over the country.

Additionally, according to our lawmakers, failure of intelligence and coordination among our security forces led to the bloody clashes in Marawi City. With PhP2.5 billion intel funds at their disposal, the government should have been sufficiently informed and fully prepared before sending our troops to any operation especially in Mindanao.

If we are, however, to believe DND Sec. Lorenzana and the PNP’s words that there was no failure of intelligence and that the police, in fact, knew of the Maute Group’s plan to attack Marawi as early as May 17, they must have realized the enormity of the trouble our troops would likely be heading to. Why then did all these have to happen? Why did our officials decide to proceed with their Moscow trip? Was it the government’s intent to have the Marawi situation blow out of proportion so that there would be a compelling reason for the eventual declaration of Martial Law? After all, the casualties could easily be considered part of the firefight’s collateral damage. Let us hope not.

5. Martial Law is necessary to address the problems in Mindanao.

No. Placing the entire Mindanao under Martial Law is a disproportionate response to a “localized and contained” situation. Even Atty. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of our Constitution, believes that declaring a State of Emergency “would have been sufficient to address the situation in Marawi” as “there was no proof that the skirmishes were part of a concerted effort affecting the entire Mindanao.” The Phil. Muslim Society, a group of Muslim lawyers, is planning to challenge Duterte’s hasty declaration before the Supreme Court. According to them, “declaring martial law will only invite more atrocities, more young people to join the rebels.”

History tells us that ML could easily lead to abuses and dictatorship.

Bigger and more ferocious insurgents, rebel forces, terrorist groups and religious extremists (CPP/NPA/NDF, MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF, Khalifa Islamiyah, Jemaah Islamiyah, etc) have been wreaking havoc and mayhem in the country for many years now. Clashes between the government and the anti-government forces have resulted to bloodier and more hostile encounters before. Yet, no post-Marcos administration dared to declare Martial Law (aside from Gloria Arroyo who, in the wake of the Maguindanao Massacre that killed 58 people, declared ML in the province of Maguindanao for 8 days—a decision which caused her 7 lawsuits). Until now. So what makes the Maute Group special? Is it because they are the ones responsible for the bombing in the night market in Davao, the President’s beloved city?

Duterte, in his effort to assuage our fears about his ML declaration, said that there is no need to worry if you are a law-abiding citizen. He also claimed that no abuses will happen under his Martial Law.

Why do these statements sound all too familiar?

Because with his War on Drugs, he said the exact same things.

A few months after, however, when even law-abiding citizens would turn up dead, and cases upon cases of police scalawags’ involvement in despicable crimes were exposed, he and his bunch of apologists started singing different songs. The one was entitled Collateral damage, while the other, Internal cleansing of the PNP.

Duterte supporters, in trying to defend their Tatay Digong’s latest controversial action, claim that the Constitution provides safety measures against Martial Law abuses. We need not fear, they say. Sure, we won’t.

We won’t if only Duterte doesn’t maintain a stranglehold on the “super majority” of our lawmakers. We won’t if only most of the Supreme Court justices are not formulating their decisions based on either their fear of Duterte or how sufficiently their palms have been oiled. We won’t if only he is not trying to buy the police and military’s loyalty with many promises (“I will go to jail for you!”) and meaty government positions. We won’t if only somebody like Cardinal Sin is currently leading the church and its flock in fighting the many clowns in government.

I hope, there won’t come a time when I would have to say, “I told you so.”

AN ANGEL’S LETTER TO HER MOM

Dear Mommy,

Wow, I love the sound of that! If you only knew how often I whisper your name as I watch you from up here—it’s the sweetest sound, far sweeter than the melodious sound of the harps and flutes that we play here.

Heaven is such a beautiful and happy and glorious place, but there’s one spot that I would rather be in. It’s the one spot that, no matter how much time has passed, its memory still lingers with me. It was my shelter, my refuge, my comfort zone. It was my personal heaven there on earth. It was the one spot where I felt completely safe; where I knew that nothing and no one could ever harm me. The one spot where I grew to know only one kind of love. Your love.

Mom, I miss being inside your womb.

I miss your comforting voice and the funny little noises and strange sounds that you used to make when talking to me. I miss the gentle feel of your hands on your tummy each time you felt me move inside you, or when you caress me when reading me a book or when you stroke your belly in time with the tempo of the classical music you made me listen to. I miss your laughter and the animated way you talk. I miss the protective embrace you used to give me when you would accidentally bump into something. I miss everything about you, Mom.

If I could, I would have stayed forever in your womb.

But, then, God had other plans for us.

I was inside you for only three months when your world shattered and all the joy in you vanished. It was the moment you were told that I had Turner’s Syndrome and cystic hygroma. I couldn’t possibly survive those congenital abnormalities, the doctors said, so you were advised to have an abortion. But, no, you were adamant, Mommy. You fought for me. You wanted to hold on to me until such time when God would eventually take me back with Him to His kingdom.

I knew how hard it was for you and Daddy to accept our fate. (I was, after all, your answered prayer – a miracle growing inside of you, the first among your big bunch of future children.) But with your impenetrable faith and continued hope for a divine miracle, you tried to live each day with renewed energy and enthusiasm. For me.

And so, just like with a bittersweet summer romance, you continued to carry me inside you knowing that you couldn’t keep me.

You knew what to expect, but my death almost three months after still left you reeling, crushed and devastated. I knew that a part of you died with me that day.

1
Pam and Ron looking at their angel inside a casket

I tried to visit you in your dreams as often as you would allow me. I wanted to tell you that I was in a better place, to reassure you that I wouldn’t mind if you decided to move on. I would have loved to see you smile again, Mommy.

And, so, when you got pregnant with Veronica, I was ecstatic!

I sensed all your initial doubt, worry and fear, and your relief after each successful prenatal check-up and the doctor’s repeated assurances that everything was fine. I saw how extra-careful you were with Veronica, afraid that one tiny mishap might adversely affect her.

I was excited when I saw all those baby stuff and pieces of furniture that you bought a few weeks before her arrival. And, oh, the baby shower! It was beautiful, Mom, and I was touched by the thoughtfulness and generosity of your friends and colleagues who threw it for you. You must have been a very good friend to them to deserve that.

When you were finally rushed to the hospital due to contractions, I was there with you. And when you opted for a natural childbirth since your insurance wouldn’t cover epidurals, I cringed. I knew that, somehow, you welcomed that chance to feel all the physical pains that labor naturally entails because, with me, you were robbed of that opportunity. But I was also aware of what was to come.

True enough, you were soon moaning and crying and shouting with the unbearable, excruciating, burning pain of trying to push Veronica out of your body. (Up to this day, it still boggles my mind why only moms get to experience all the pains of childbirth. Shouldn’t dads share those with moms, too?)

When Veronica eventually popped out, I too was thrilled to see her. But when I saw your face creased with worry when she didn’t make a single sound, I began to get scared. For Veronica. For Daddy. For you.

Mostly, for you, Mom.

Veronica was turning blue, you were getting hysterical, and the medical staff was in chaos. They rushed the baby to the NICU, and you were left dumbfounded, incredulous and disconcerted. You couldn’t believe that you were experiencing that all over again. I couldn’t either.

At least, with me, you knew what to expect. But with Veronica, you were caught completely off guard.

When we followed Veronica to the NICU, we saw how beautiful, how healthy, and how perfectly normal she appeared—and how pitiful, with all those tubes attached to her tiny body. We learned that she had a congenital heart defect, a condition that could easily be detected during a prenatal ultrasound but was obviously overlooked by your doctor.

You were heartbroken especially since you were not allowed to hold her, but with the doctor’s plan to fly her to Hawaii from Guam for surgery, you were still brimming with hope. I saw how you and Daddy drew strength from each other, and from your trust and faith in God.

Shockingly, though, Veronica left after only about 28 hours of literally fighting for her life.

Oh, Mommy, I wish there was something I could have done to take away all your pain. If only I had the power to bring Veronica back to you, I would. In a jiffy. No parent deserves to experience the agonizing grief of losing a child. Yet, you did—two times in a row.

You didn’t have any other choice but to accept what happened and to offer Veronica up to God just like what you did with me but, for a long time, you remained withdrawn and depressed. There was no life left in you.

They say that, with the loss of a loved one, the pain never really goes away. One only learns how to live with it.

I saw how you strived to get up each morning pretending that you were alright. To the world, you were Strength personified. We both knew, though, how you would curl up on your bed each night and cry yourself to sleep, hoping that it was all just a nightmare that you could wake up from.

When you and Daddy moved to Virginia in 2000, I was one with you in looking forward to a fresh, new start.

So when you received the good news that you were pregnant after consulting with specialists and genetic counselors and undergoing fertility workups, I told myself, “This is it. We’re done with the storms. It’s now time to welcome the bright, brilliant sun!”

When you successfully delivered Aaron via CS, and heard his very first cry, we all cried with him. That time, though, the tears we shed were of unadulterated joy.

2
Pam, Ron and baby Aaron visiting Patricia and Veronica

Life was good. You seemed like your old self again. You smiled more often, laughed a little louder, moved with springy strides. You found your purpose.

Little did you know that you were about to face another challenge.

You noticed that Aaron was already two years old yet he was yet to speak a single word. He behaved oddly, was prone to frequent and uncontrollable temper tantrums, and was different from other children his own age. He wouldn’t socialize with other kids, either.

Numerous tests on him later revealed that he had delayed language development and borderline autism.

Again, you felt dejected and overcome by adversity. You began doubting yourself. “Am I not really fit for motherhood?” “Does God not consider me worthy enough?” “Am I a bad person to deserve all these?”

But you didn’t allow yourself to be defeated by those paralyzing emotions. You didn’t have that luxury. You had to be strong because someone heavily depended on that strength. Aaron needed you.

Each day proved to be a struggle but you and Daddy were still grateful to God for everything. You knew that He places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight, so you felt honored that God considered you among the strongest of His children.

I really admire that in you, Mom. Your faith is simply indomitable and unshakable.

More than three years after, you got pregnant again—and that indomitable and unshakable faith was put to the test once more.

During the third month of your pregnancy, your doctor discovered that, due to a neural tube defect, the baby had no skull and her brain would not develop. She had 0% of survival.

Everyone from both the medical and clinical fields that you happened to talk to agreed on one thing—that you should have the baby aborted as soon as possible.

Yes, that sounded familiar. You were told to terminate the pregnancy too when they learned that I couldn’t possibly make it. But with this little one, your third perinatal loss, even some of  your relatives and friends advised you to have an abortion.

You knew that they meant well—they were all concerned that “prolonging your agony” would be too much for you to handle. Well, I guess, they didn’t know you that well, do they?

So like the protective mother grizzly bear that you were, you held on to the precious baby in your womb. You treasured each experience you had with her—seeing her during the ultrasound scans, hearing her heartbeat, feeling her kicks. She was very much alive, and you were her only lifeline. What kind of mother would intentionally cut the connection that was keeping her alive? Definitely, not you, Mom!

You gave birth to Angeli after a full term.

She was so beautiful, Mom, and so was the baptismal ceremony for Angeli that you specifically requested, prepared for and witnessed.

She stayed with you, Daddy and Aaron for just a total of 108 hours, but she managed to leave you with a lifetime of sweet memories. For that short a time, you were a mother to a baby girl, Moml! Knowing you, I was sure that that wonderful experience would stay with you for the rest of your life.

3
Pam paying Angeli a visit

With all four of us, you cried buckets. Your heart got shattered into many tiny pieces. You experienced being thrust into an abyss of doubt, sadness and grief.

God must have seen all that, and so, he decided to reward you. Finally.

Aiden, our bunso, is such a darling. He is sweet, affectionate, obedient and, most importantly, perfectly healthy. I love watching him and his Kuya Aaron together—just two boys having fun and enjoying each other’s company. And how he loves to please you! Imagine joining (and finishing!) a 5K race so as to make you and Daddy proud.

4
A picture of a happy family  (Ron, Aaron, Aiden & Pam)

Mom, I know that you’re okay now. But when clouds once again block the sun and threaten to cast gloom over your smooth-sailing life, when you think that you’re all alone and the universe is conspiring against you, remember that I’m always near. Together with Veronica and Angeli, we are your three personal angels keeping constant watch over you.

Take care of yourself, Mommy. I love you and I miss you very much. Happy Mothers’ Day to you!

Your angel,

Patricia

TIPS ON HOW TO BE A GOLDMINE IN THE WORKPLACE

Next to his good looks and hot body (ahem, ahem), the things I admire most about and attracted me to my husband are his integrity, principles and discipline.

In whatever work he carries out or responsibility he assumes, he gives nothing short of his 100%. He hates mediocrity, he demands so much from himself, and he has never tried to use influence, wheedling, kowtowing or stepping on somebody else’s toes to gain favor or to get on someone’s good side.

Every promotion, every commendation and every accolade he receives are accredited solely to his exemplary work ethics.

22 years of faithfully working for the same company, and he is not showing any sign of slowing down, backing down or giving up. He is still as dedicated and hardworking as ever, even bordering on workaholism at times.

Today that he would have the distinct honor of receiving his 4th The Outstanding PerformerS (TOPS) award during a formal ceremony, which is held annually by the business organization that he is proud to belong to, I would like to announce to the entire blogosphere how extremely proud I and our kids are of my husband.

Knee, you might not yet be in that particular spot where I know you deserve to be in, but I’m pretty sure that you’re on your way to getting there. You’re just taking the long, hard route because you hate shortcuts. We know how you love your work, how dedicated you are to it, and how you’d rather get stuck in a rut but with your principles intact than be at the good side of someone but with your integrity and self-respect compromised.

Finally, you wouldn’t be the man I loved and married if you have done things differently. I love you, I appreciate you, I hold you in high esteem, and I will forever be by your side to support you in your every endeavor. We are truly blessed to have you as the head of our family.

 

18336708_10212731498312445_1584258312_n
My husband, with his newest baby

 

Now, they say that behind every man’s success is a woman. In my husband’s case, behind him every step of the way is his wife—a woman who either nudges, pushes and shoves him or tugs, pulls and restrains him, depending on the need for a particular situation. But, always, I am the woman who learns the lessons with him from all his years of working for a company.

My husband is far from being the perfect employee, but in his desire to set a wonderful example for our children to emulate, he has established himself –in our eyes– as the epitome of an ideal one.

The following are the lessons we managed to learn on how to be a goldmine in the workplace. By sharing this with you, I am hoping that you would start to view your work and your workplace in a more positive light. After all, your job is your reliable partner in providing for your family.

 

  1. Skill enhancement. An ideal employee is willing to learn and grow. He develops and hones his skills through various seminars/trainings, self-taught programs, continuing education, observation and emulation of others, etc. The most basic skills normally required in a workplace are communication (speaking, both verbal and written, listening, etc.), organizational (time management, goal-setting, decision-making, etc), leadership (delegating, motivating, giving effective feedback, claiming responsibility, etc.), computer (MS Office, Spreadsheets, PowerPoint, etc.), customer service (knowledge of your products, persuasion skills, dealing with customers, etc.), problem-solving (resilience, analytical thinking, dispute resolution, etc.), mathematical (inventory, purchasing, budget, sales, etc.), research and info-gathering (data collection, cause-effect analysis, logical conclusion, etc.), sales (understanding prospects’ needs, demonstrating ROI, building trust with customers, etc.), and political (social astuteness, interpersonal influence, networking ability, sincerity, etc.).

 

  1. Passion for excellence. An ideal employee never settles for ordinary; he constantly strives to be extraordinary. He endeavors to be the best version of himself not just by meeting his own and other people’s expectations but by exceeding them. He tries to go above and beyond the job requirement in getting things done.

 

  1. Work ethics. An ideal employee is committed to his work and will do anything within his power to ensure that he performs well. He is reliable, highly productive and cooperative. He possesses a generally strong character—he is self-disciplined, honest and trustworthy.

 

  1. Loyalty to the organization and its management. An ideal employee supports the vision of the organization that he belongs to, and works hard for its success. He puts the company’s interests ahead of his own. Subservience, obedience and meekness are oftentimes misconstrued as loyalty. In truth, however, a genuinely loyal employee is outspoken and vocal when he feels the need to express his opinions on various matters and issues, and he does not hesitate to discuss those with his bosses in private. But once a decision is made, he throws his 100% support to it. He does not criticize his bosses in front of others. He is also aware of the many benefits of an honest exchange of differing opinions and points of view, as long as those are delivered with respect and good intention.

 

  1. Relationship with colleagues. An ideal employee builds and maintains a healthy relationship with his co-workers, knowing that doing so would foster an atmosphere that is conducive to enjoyment, innovativeness and productivity. He displays positive attitude, follows proper office etiquette, builds trust, offers help when necessary, is congenial and has a ready smile for everyone, is respectful of differences and personal boundaries, and participates in office outings and team-building activities.

 

  1. Professionalism. An ideal employee makes a habit to appear and behave in a professional manner. He dresses appropriately by observing the company’s dress code, comes in well groomed, and observes personal hygiene. He practices punctuality, comes to meetings fully prepared, follows company policies, keeps his promises, and submits his deliverables on time. He strives to become instrumental in creating a culture of accountability in the workplace. He treats everyone with utmost courtesy. He stays away from any kind of office drama and gossip and petty quarrels. He does not use office hours to attend to personal matters and he never steals other people’s ideas.

 

  1. Initiative. An ideal employee devotes serious effort and energy in adding value to the organization. Doing more than his fair share and going the extra mile without being told to do so are the habits of a proactive and energetic go-getter—the kind of employees that the organizations are in constant lookout for. Instead of simply working hard, he is more inclined to working smart. He comes up with new solutions, more effective approaches, brilliant ideas, and fresh, powerful concepts. He is assertive, he speaks up confidently, and he shares his thoughts with everyone. He is highly involved, and possesses a team-member mindset, rather than the employee mindset.

 

  1. Career advancement. An ideal employee is not satisfied to stay at the bottom of the career ladder. He wants to be on top and to get ahead of the pack. He has a genuine passion and exuberance for work, he is goal-oriented and purpose-driven, he constantly challenges himself, and he vigilantly looks for opportunities. He makes himself indispensable to the organization by displaying amazing ingenuity, unique skills and consistent and exemplary performance. He closely observes and follows a role model, and he considers any kind of recognition a validation of his commitment to his work. Despite all these, however, he is able to maintain his integrity and professionalism.

 

  1. Leadership potential. An ideal employee is always ready to take on more responsibility especially at a crucial time. He does not shrink under pressure. He has the take-charge attitude about him that is neither off-putting nor offensive. He thinks critically and learns from working closely with the masters. Even without a concerted effort to be noticed, his innate self-confidence does the job. He mentors the newbies, motivates the low-spirited, listens to criticisms, and provides effective feedback. If he can help it, he does not point the finger at anyone. And when he is overloaded with work, he does not hesitate to seek help and delegate some of his tasks. His colleagues look up to him and values his opinions on various matters.

 

  1. Office politics. An ideal employee acknowledges the inevitability of politics in the workplace and strives to navigate that minefield with extreme caution. He knows that office politics can ruin many awesome workplaces and wonderful relationships between and among colleagues, but is also aware that, if practiced positively, he will gain from it in furthering his interests and those of his team.

THE 7 DEADLY SINS COMMITTED UNDER THE DUTERTE ADMINISTRATION

By: Bernard Ong

 

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate morality and ethics. The “7 Deadly Sins” are not found as such in the Bible, although there are biblical antecedents.

Here are the Sins and the common Pinoy examples that merit “Huwag Tularan” cardboard signs.

 

seven_deadly_sins_by_procrust-d4olpqe
Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com/desoren

 

#1 PRIDE

The negative version of Pride is described as putting one’s own desires and whims before the welfare of [other] people, believing oneself to be superior or more important than others, refusing to admit one’s faults or limitations as a human being.

Examples:

  1. You bash media as “Dilawan” and biased. But then you read them for “intel” reports about the Abu Sayyaf’s plan to raid Bohol. You downplay the report and do nothing. That’s hypocritical Pride.
  2. You attack US because of personal grudges from a long time ago (e.g. claim of being molested by an American priest, you were once denied a US visa). You degrade relations with the only ally strong enough to help you keep your country’s territories and rights in South China Sea. That’s foolish Pride.
  3. You said there were 3 million drug addicts. Then you increased this to 4 million without factual basis. The official estimate by Dangerous Drugs Board is only 1.8 million users, yet you refuse to correct your mistake. 2.2 million innocent Filipinos will be potential victims of Tokhang or EJK as a result. That’s lethal Pride.

 

#2 GREED

From the Latin word “Avarita” or avarice. Greed is the excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one’s needs. It can lead to robbery, theft, treason, cheating, plunder.

Examples:

  1. Your family raids the nation’s coffers for 20 years. You open bank accounts in Switzerland. You block PCGG attempts to recover the stolen loot & [have it] return[ed] to [its rightful owners], the Filipino people. You want to be president to steal more money, just like your daddy. [And you never show remorse or express regret over your family’s many abuses and transgressions.] That’s unrepentant Greed.
  2. You misuse taxpayer funds on corruption-ridden pork barrel projects. You connive with fixers, corrupt agency officials & crony contractors on fake projects and kickbacks. That’s trapo Greed.
  3. You allegedly have P2.4B in bank deposits, way more than your mayor’s salary could afford. You invoke Bank Secrecy to hide the transactions. That’s Panelo-shielded Greed.

 

#3 LUST

Lust is [an] intense, uncontrolled desire. It usually refers to sexual behavior – leading to rape, adultery, fornication, promiscuity. But it can also apply to uncontrolled desire in general – e.g. lust for power, lust for money.

Examples:

  1. You have multiple wives or girlfriends. You claim this [to be] the norm for lawyers or politicians. That’s crass Lust.
  2. You joke that the mayor should have been first in the gang-rape of a dead Australian missionary. That’s morbid Lust.
  3. You use the State to silence dissenters. You jail them on false charges. You fund fake news outlets to destroy opponents. That’s power-hungry Lust.

 

#4 ENVY

Envy is like Greed and Lust. It stems from desire. It is described as the covetous resentment towards others’ status, abilities, possessions and achievements. You want what others have that you don’t.

Examples:

  1. You lack education credentials. You make it up with fake degrees. You run and lost for vice president. You file an election protest without basis. That’s crooked Envy.
  2. Your dad was a world-class thief. He was booted out of the country. Your family had to fly out to escape lynching. His political opponents – Ninoy and Cory [Aquino] – were both given heroes’ burials by the public, while you have to pay your way to having Daddy buried like a hero. Fittingly, you bury him stealthily like a thief. That’s insatiable Envy.
  3. You don’t like the professional news outlets because they report information, quotes and photos that put your idol in bad light. So you come out with your own news outlet spewing fake news. That’s twisted Envy.

 

#5 GLUTTONY

Gluttony is not just about eating too much. It is over-indulgence & over-consumption leading to waste. It is associated with selfishness and lack of concern for others.

Examples:

  1. You are elected president with your office in Malacanang. You insist on flying home to Davao every week. You are wasting taxpayer funds, causing security nightmares and adding to carbon emissions with your unnecessary flights. That’s imprudent Gluttony.
  2. You were elected congressman to represent your people. You run under one political party. After you won, you switched parties to ensure your share of perks and pork [barrel]. You go to fancy affairs with your fancy trophy mistress on your fancy 8-plated car. You get kickbacks from pork projects while your constituents suffer from misrepresentation [and misery]. That’s piggish Gluttony.

 

#6 WRATH

Wrath is uncontrolled anger, rage and hatred. It leads to violence, harm, vengeance, and killing.

Examples:

  1. You haaaate drugs. Perhaps because your son became an addict. You decide to kill 30,000, 300,000 or even 3 million – just like Hitler. You inspire your followers to kill, kill, kill. That’s blind Wrath.
  2. You cannot control yourself in public appearances. You are prone to spew out “Patayin”, “Put@ng-Ina”, “Ugok” and “Idiot” every other sentence. You inspire those who call you Tatay to hate. That’s uncontrolled Wrath.

 

#7 SLOTH

Sloth is laziness. It is the unwillingness to exert effort – physically, mentally or spiritually. Sloth is also described as failure to do things that you must do. This is captured in Edmund Burke’s “only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Examples:

  1. You have a multi-billion peso budget for intel, yet you still rely on faulty made-up drug lists and drug matrices prone to frame-ups. Nobody knows where the intel funds go (although it is suspected to reward EJKs). Foreign embassies warn about Abu attack on Bohol but you don’t lift your butt. That’s unintelligent Sloth.
  2. You outsource your thinking to fake news sites, impostors, demagogues. You pass on fake memes & fake stories. You don’t read beyond the headline. You don’t fact-check. That’s stupid Sloth.
  3. You know things are wrong, yet you keep quiet and do nothing. That’s pathetic Sloth.

 

Huwag Tularan.

TO FIGHT LIKE A GIRL

The phrase “like a girl” is often used to humiliate or insult someone. It is thrown around to connote that females are indeed the weaker sex; that women are supposed to be sweet and docile, innocent and delicate — and nothing more.

Before the National Women’s Month comes to an end, I am sharing with you this story of a wife and mother who, against all insurmountable odds, was able to pull through. She managed to face, struggle and triumph over many difficult situations and adversities that plagued her family. And when you’re done reading this, you will realize that you have absolutely no right to complain about inconsequential issues and petty grievances. You will also develop enormous respect and profound admiration for people like her — people who fight like a girl.

 

A woman, no matter how fearless or independent she would like herself and others to believe her to be, can only take so much adversity and pain, loss and betrayal, and death brushing near.

At one point, she falls.

She breaks.

She shatters.

She quits.

She admits defeat.

She dies inside.

There are women, though, who take beauty and strength and courage to a completely new level. Women who go out and grab the world by the lapels. Women who don’t allow themselves to be trampled on nor be bullied by life. Women who find their voices amid the noise and chaos, and use them to affect change. Women who fight tooth and nail to assert their place in the world. Women who claw their way out of an impossible situation. Women who make other women proud to be women.

This story is about one such woman.

Warrior Woman Silhouette
Photo credit: reverbnation.com

Marie was a young bride in 1993 when, just a year after their wedding, her husband, Carlos, decided to pack his bags to work in the Middle East. Finding a decent, well-paying job in the country to support a family was like trying to find a needle in a haystack, the young couple realized. Fortunately, behind the corporation that Carlos was able to work for was a large and generous employer. The pay was awesome, the benefits were excellent, the working conditions were humane and, most importantly, he was in the company of many other OFWs like him and he was entitled to a biannual vacation.

Their separation notwithstanding, life was good. Financially, they had more than enough that they could even afford to generously help Carlos’ family. But however substantial their support might be to his parents and siblings, it never seemed to be enough.

They wanted Carlos to leave his wife and to return to them.

That was the first thorn that Marie had to endure during their marriage — a thorn which left a pain that lingers up to this day, almost 24 years into their marriage. Yes, Carlos did not heed the persistent call of his family, but Marie still feels that he could and should have done more to fight for her and their relationship. As it is, she has never heard him defend her against their lies and accusations. Carlos’ continued silence kept feeding his family’s open dislike (sometimes even bordering on hate) towards Marie. It left her feeling that her husband does not love her enough.

Now, already with four kids (aged 20, 18, 14 and 10), Marie’s relationship with her in-laws has not shown an iota of improvement. The people who should have been her partners in raising her children while Carlos is away are sadly the same people who are making things harder for her family.

Like any other OFW family (Carlos has been working in Riyahd for 23 years now), Marie and Carlos’ family experienced — and still continues to experience — the adverse effects of long periods of separation.

The couple has, over the years, accumulated numerous issues that remain unsettled between them. (Marie does not want to burden her husband with unpleasant news or petty details that could affect his work. When he is home for vacation, she also avoids bringing up serious discussions as she wants his short stay to be as relaxing as possible.) Their kids have also grown up emotionally distant from their father.

When Carlos is around, the children do a lot of tiptoeing around him. The awkwardness and uneasy relationship between the father and his four kids is heartbreaking for Marie but she has no idea how to fix it. She knows that the love is there, but the familiarity and closeness that only develop through years of constant togetherness are unmistakably absent. Carlos has missed out not only on the uneventful day-to-day experiences but also on most of the milestones in their children’s lives. And now that their only son is struggling with his sexuality and is seeking the acceptance and assurance that only a father can provide, Marie doesn’t even know how to broach the subject to Carlos for fear that he wouldn’t understand.

As if those trials were not enough to test a woman’s strength, Marie was dealt with two consecutive tragedies recently, the direness of which could propel a lesser woman to give up completely.

In August of 2013, she learned that her husband had Stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and, thus, urgently needed a kidney transplant. While looking for a possible donor, he had to undergo a three-times-a-week dialysis.

Knowing that her husband’s critical condition required her presence and close attention, she left their children and flew to Riyahd. She stayed there for 5 months —- 5 months of worrying about the uncertainty of her husband’s health and about the children she left behind.

When they came back to the country in time for Carlos’ vacation, their days had been occupied mostly with her husband’s dialysis sessions and a battery of pre-transplant tests for both Carlos and his brother, who agreed to be the kidney donor. However, all those diagnostic tests and procedures, the approaching surgery itself, and the post-transplant maintenance medications all came with hefty price tags. They had to raise P2 million for the transplant alone!

Marie was unemployed at that time, but she and the children were able to raise around P800th by designing, printing and selling shirts to friends and relatives from both near and far. With that amount added to the grant they were able to secure from Philhealth, the proceeds from the sale of Carlos’ car in Riyahd, and the loan that his company generously approved, the kidney transplant happened in July 2014.

Barely three months after the surgery, Carlos had to go back to Riyadh — the transplant had left them knee-deep in debts. They also had to deal with the exorbitant cost of the anti-rejection drugs and, of course, the continuing education of their children.

Still reeling from that financially debilitating, life threatening, emotionally draining and spiritually trying tragedy, Marie was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2016.

Thanks largely to her friends and former schoolmates who readily extended a much-needed hand, Marie was able to undergo mastectomy three months after. The rest of the year saw her completing her chemotherapy, while the start of 2017 witnessed her contending with a series of radiation treatments.

Her fight is far from over, though.

Next month, she is scheduled to undergo various tests that will determine if all those procedures had been successful in ridding her body of the nasty cancer cells. Recently, she learned that her husband is now at the ICU in Riyahd due to a post-kidney transplant complication called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). He had to undergo dialysis due to fluid retention in the lungs. He also developed pneumonia caused by excessive exposure to sandstorms that continue to rage on in the Middle East. Marie is determined to fly there once she gets a clearance from her oncologist.

When asked how she is able to handle all those family crises, she has a simple yet deeply insightful response. “I accept my fate, I have complete trust in the Lord, and I welcome each day with a grateful heart and a positive disposition.”

Now, what are YOU whining about again? Get up and fight. Fight like a girl!