Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2018

Year-end ponderings on life and death leading to the New Year

A friend lost his daughter a few weeks ago to what was diagnosed as clinical depression. I learned from various sources that she had already had one attempt to take her own life recently. I also learned that she turned 18 just a week before the end. From all accounts including my friend's and those who knew her, there was no indication of her depression or her going through rough times. The photos in the slideshow at the wake showed what anyone can consider as a happy childhood and a happy, loving family. I have known my friend for almost 29 years now and I know him to be a man of strong faith and convictions. I know that he is an affectionate father and one with a good sense of humor, too.

I could not imagine what my friend and his wife were and are still going through right now. It is certainly a most difficult time given this tragic event. My friend is grieving and has only recently returned to social media where his posts reveal that he is still sorting things in his mind and heart. I pray that he may find solace in his faith and that he would be comforted by happy memories I am sure he keeps of his daughter.

We were at the wake the last Friday before her remains were cremated and witnessed the tributes and testimonials given by the daughter's classmates. The music they shared touched most if not everyone. I felt their grief, their sadness over what happened to a person they regarded as a dear friend. She was Grade 12 and would have graduated next year. She just took the UPCAT and could have passed the entrance examination and go on to study at UP. Sadly, that will not come to be.

Friends talk about how social media and all these information available to us now tend to influence he way we think and feel. I, too, think there's just a lot of information going around these days and people especially the young don't generally know how to filter what's valid or true from the fake. This creates a confusion of the mind and the heart, which may lead to depression and to some, a general loss of hope. It is this hopelessness that we need to address but more so by tackling the root causes. Many people like to say we need to "go back to the basics" and yet it seems they do not know what the "basics" are all about. Perhaps we should have less of social media, of the internet? More of family time, of outdoor activities and interactions? I think we should.

I wish everyone a peaceful, joyful, hopeful, healthy and prosperous 2019!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Maligayang Pasko!

Maligayang Pasko! Nawa’y ang liwanag na ibinahagi sa atin ay ating ibahagi rin sa kapwa [May we be able to share the light that was shared with us.].

Our belen or nativity scene for the last 3 years is this one we got at the Padre Pio Center near Eastwood in Quezon City.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Looking back at Ondoy/Ketsana 2009

I started blogging back in 2008 and I was not really in to it at the time. I found writing to be somewhat cathartic for me after the floods of Ondoy/Ketsana so I wrote more frequently since then. Here's something I wrote a few days after Ondoy. We were reeling from the losses and could only wonder about the what-ifs.

Post deluge

My mind was full of ideas of what to write after going through what water resources engineering or hydraulic engineering textbooks term as a 40- or 50-year flood. From my experience (and I am a certified flood veteran) I am more inclined to say that what hit us last September 26 was actually a 25-year flood. I am basing this interpretation from the 1985 flood that inundated our village of Kasibulan in Cainta. Our whole family and all others from the subdivision had to evacuate our home when floods reached waist-deep at road level. We found safe haven in the factory across Imelda Avenue. The guards allowed us to seek refuge in the huge steel structures that housed heavy machinery no longer operating after the factory shutdown because of a labor problem. The striking workers actually assisted many families in getting to higher, safer ground that day.

Fortunately, no one from our village drowned from that 1985 flood. But it left a lot of deep scars that painfully reopened every year for the next 10 years that we were to experience flooding - not as terrible as 1985's but some comparable if you weren't used to them. A lot of memories were lost in those floods. My parents' wedding photos were lost including many of their photos before they got married. We were able to save many photos though - mostly mine and I'm afraid those were all damaged if not wiped out by typhoon Ondoy. We shared the same losses with our neighbors and made people closer in our village. In fact, we there were many of use there who studied at Lourdes Mandaluyong and one of our neighbors happened to be the high school principal at the time. Mr. Ben Dayo would always vouch for us when we claimed we had to miss classes because we had to help in cleaning our houses after the floods receded. I believe those floods have somehow influenced me as I grew up.

I wanted to believe that the floods in Town & Country wouldn't be deeper than what I had experienced in Kasibulan. I desperately wanted to believe that it could get deeper. But it did. When the clairvoyant and I bought a house there, one of the information I sought was about flood experience. Referring to the designs of the houses as well as neighbors stories, our home was supposed to be safe with the deepest flood experience in our area reaching only our gate. We were fortunate to have ample space in our second floor rooms. The clairvoyant and I were able to transfer our books and other personal properties with the help of Manang Aileen with an efficiency anyone can be proud off. Most importantly, we didn't have to abandon our home like many of our neighbors and we always had non-perishable food and drinks stocked. Many, we discovered afterwards, weren't as lucky as we were. We all lost our vehicles that day. Most cars went under overnight and emerged still parked in what everyone thought were garages that were flood-safe. But that's another story.

I was able to save my stamp collection from my parents' house in Kasibulan. Many items from an old brief case (what was my school bag when I was in high school)survived including old letters and bookmarks I had put aside as souvenirs from visits to Kamakura. These included old bookmarks from Tatay's visit to Kamakura in the 1960's.

The past days were blessings in that another super typhoon veered away from Metro Manila and still another will not hit the country. I honestly want to believe again that I won't experience another flood of that magnitude in say, 25 years (not the 40 years that would probably be much more damaging). If there was one thing I didn't want to share with the clairvoyant I guess an actual experience of such a flood would be it. But we did share the experience and we came out survivors (not victims as other people might label us) and I would rather believe that we came out better and will be stronger for this. We still have, after all, our faith.

We learned our lesson well and now live in a flood-free and better neighborhood in Antipolo. We are also glad that our daughter would not have to experience what we went through along with the floods due to the monsoon rains of 2012 and 2013.
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Friday, January 12, 2018

Coming home at last

After a week at the hospital, my mother is finally coming home. Mama had a stroke last Friday and it was a good thing my brother was still home to rightly identify her losing her balance and fall as a stroke. This we confirmed after a battery of tests including an MRI that revealed she had other 'small' strokes before. We thought she was lucky this was also a minor one and that the fall didn't result in any complications that could have made things more difficult (some people hit their head or have other injuries). It could have been a whole different situation that could easily have deteriorated given Mama is also diabetic.

Now, we begin the next chapter with Mama's rehabilitation. She will be doing physical therapy to get the strength back in her legs and the balance she lost due to the stroke. We also noticed that there's some memory loss and some slur in her speech days after the stroke but we believe these will eventually be resolved. For now, she will be using a wheelchair but we believe she will heal by the grace of God.

We are very thankful to people who were there to support us especially relatives and friends who prayed with us and shared positive thoughts and vibes. You know who you are whom we chose to let know about this trying experience. May God bless you for the comfort you brought us.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sunrise in Mactan, Cebu

I have posted a lot of photos of sunrises and sunsets in this blog and on social media. Among my favorites are the sunsets in Panglao, Bohol and Puerto Princesa, Palawan and the sunrises in Tagaytay, Cavite. Of course there are the sunsets over Metro Manila that we have had the chance to take photos of on many occasions from on top of the highest point in our village.

On a very recent trip to Cebu where went on vacation, I noticed for a couple of mornings that the sun rose early and the hues from our room indicated how beautiful they were. Unfortunately, I was still sleepy or too lazy to get up and capture the scenes. On our last morning in Mactan, Cebu, I made sure I would be up early to see the magnificent sunrise from our hotel room. We didn't have professional cameras but our smart phones did a great job capturing the following images. These have not been filtered or altered or enhanced in any way. I guess with such beauty you can't really go wrong with any camera? 

Here are three photos of the sunrise from Mactan, Cebu taken before 6:00 AM and only minutes apart:




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Saturday, March 4, 2017

A sad start for the month of March

A week and a half ago, we were struck hard with news of a beloved aunt, Nay Nene, the elder sister of my father, being hit by a jeepney in Iloilo. She has since been transferred from the ER to the ICU where she survives, albeit miraculously, and is still in critical condition. As I write this, relatives are trying to figure out how to go about paying the hospital bills and transferring her to the district hospital (she's currently in a hospital in the city) closer to our home there. From the looks of it, her case will be one that will be lingering for a while. Although it is a sensitive matter, the mounting costs will definitely be a major concern as this is the sort of situation that could drain a family's resources. Whether she fully recovers or not, we expect some difficult times ahead, especially emotionally and even perhaps spiritually.

Now comes news of an uncle, Tito Froi, the younger brother of my mother-in-law, having a severe asthma attack and went into coma almost immediately. He only recently flew to New Zealand to visit his son's family. The latter recently had a baby, the first grandchild of our uncle from any of his children. And so it came as a big surprise to a lot of people especially his siblings that this would suddenly happen. As I write this, his son, a nurse in Auckland, would have had the prognosis from the doctors. He would have to make what we think is an extremely painful decision to let go. The asthma attack starved his father's brain and heart of oxygen, and there have been too much damage for him to recover. We await for news from New Zealand but the Clairvoyant is now en route to their home in Novaliches to talk to and comfort her mother and aunts who have congregated there and now stricken with grief about the situation.

We thought February was a sad month because of what happened to Nay Nene. We truly didn't expect it to be sadder with what happened to Tito Froi. Very recently, too, a couple of friends lost their mothers, both mainly due to lingering illnesses. We can only pray for them and ask for our Creator to comfort loved ones they left behind. We can only beg the Lord for mercy on their souls and by His grace that they be with Him in heaven.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Praying for a miracle for Nay Nene

February has always been a happy month for me. For one, it is my birth month and so we usually have some celebration during the latter part of the month. It is also the birth month of my niece and I have a lot of happy memories of things happening in February (e.g., my first trip to Japan, my first experience of snow, etc.). This year was not supposed to be different because it is my 45th and we had already planned a family trip over the weekend. So much for a happy February...

Earlier today, I received news from my father that a beloved aunt (his elder sister) was hit by a jeepney. She is now in critical condition in a hospital in Iloilo and we are trying to confirm exactly what injuries she sustained. My brother says that from his conversation with our cousins, it looks bleak and we can only hope for a miracle for my aunt to get through this.


Nanay Nene or Enriqueta Regidor is one of only two living siblings of my father. The other, Nay Paring (Amparo Torre) is older and lives with her in my paternal side's ancestral home in Cabatuan, Iloilo. Although Nay Nene has had some health problems recently and the past few years, these were mostly the typical illnesses attributed to her advanced age (sakit ng matatanda). I've known her to be a tough lady but she was very kind, very cheerful and that is how I want to remember her from my childhood days spent in Iloilo during summer breaks.

Nay Nene (4th from left) beside my lola (3rd from left) in front of our old house in Cabatuan, Iloilo (photo taken in March 1974, just after my 2nd birthday)

She was like a mother to me and I was very fond of her. I used to tag along with her whenever I was in Iloilo whether its going to the market, on a religious procession or to church. It was she who usually cooked for us whenever we were in Iloilo. It was she who usually accompanied us to the airport when we returned to Manila. Nay Nene was a teacher and one among many close relatives who probably influenced me into teaching, too.

This is going to be a long night and a critical one at that. We can only pray that Nay Nene will get through the night and hopefully recover. Only God knows what about His plan for her and we surrender to His will.
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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Manaoag, Pangasinan

A trip to Pangasinan would not be complete if one did not stop by the town of Manaoag. Of course, I am referring to the Roman Catholic among us who know Manaoag for the miraculous image of Mother Mary. Devotees and pilgrims flock to Manaoag similarly as they go to Antipolo or Baclaran mainly to pray for help, forgiveness, assistance and other reasons including healing from serious illnesses, passing examinations, financial success, etc. Many of these have been granted by God through the intercession of Our Lady, which obviously led to more of the faithful coming on a pilgrimage for their wishes (desires?) to be granted. Those whose prayers have been granted come here regularly as thanksgiving and have declared they would do so as long as they can make the trip. This is what they call their panata or promise of coming back to offer prayers of thanksgiving. And they do bring with them their family members and friends.

Manaoag is not near Metro Manila and yet thousands (much more actually) come to this town despite the distance and a difficult travel. Of course, its easier now with three expressways and improved national roads making the travel faster, safer and more comfortable.

This sign basically says that if one has made the necessary preparations for the pilgrimage to Manaoag, a plenary indulgence may be granted to that person.
At the back of the church is a large area for those offering prayers through candles
You can purchase candles and other religious items like prayer books, scapulars and rosaries from one of the booths around this area. You can then light them here and say a few prayers before leaving or going inside the church.
There's this tub of water where you can place a floating candle. From the looks of it, a lot of people have lit floating candles as offerings.
The main altar of the shrine to Our Lady of Manaoag with the image at the center. Some say this is only a replica of the original one, which is kept and preserved by the church. This image, however, is touched by a lot of devotees who can get closest to the image via an access at the back of the altar.
A smaller altar at one of the church wings
A view of the front entrance to the church with the balcony above the doors.
Another view of the main altar from the middle of the church.
A view of the main altar and church dome
A less crowded area at the back of the church

The shrine has a big parking lot at the back of the church so travelers with their own vehicles need not follow those offering to guide you to a parking space. These are very much the same as those people who basically try to engage motorists in Antipolo to offer guidance on parking spaces near the shrine there. Of course, its best to visit during weekdays and what's regarded as off-peak seasons compared to other times when I'm sure its very crowded like Lent or before major licensure exams.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A tale about two good people - Part 2

After I brought Manang to the airport, I went straight home in order to catch up on some sleep. I was only 3:30AM then and I sped along C5 and was making good time when the tire alarm went off. This indicated at least one tire was loosing air and so I had to make a stop somewhere. I ended up at a familiar Caltex station just after the overpass above the Pasig Boulevard. There I discovered my rear right tire was flat and I just had to change it with the spare.

After jacking up the car, I had trouble removing the wheel with the flat tire. I knew I needed a steel pipe so I could easily loosen the screws of the wheel so I walked towards the nearby junk shop where I found a small group of scrappers just finishing their transaction with the shop. I asked if I could borrow a steel pipe and one scrapper volunteered to help me change tires. We ended up with him doing all the work while he constantly told me it was okay and that I was probably tired from the driving and that I was lucky the tire didn't blow up while I was driving.

After changing the tire, the person stood up, took my leave and started to walk away. It was clear to me that he wasn't playing coy and he even gave the parting "ingat po" as he walked away. And so I did what I thought was the right thing to do, offering food to my good Samaritan as I asked him to join me inside the pandesal shop at the station. I told him to get whatever he wanted to eat and drink and he was quite shy about it so I told him he deserved it for the help he gave me. I also gave him some money as we parted ways. It wasn't much but he did good, honest work and that deserved a good reward.

Rare are these people who extend their help without asking for anything in return. I thought I had met just one of those people and so I rewarded him generously. I hope he's well and doing good.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

A tale about two good people - Part 1

I had wanted to write about a couple of experiences very early in the morning during the last day of October. I just could seem to get into the mood though and could only manage a very rough draft. There have been a lot of other stuff to do including some catching up at work where there had been many deadlines for reports as well as on my lectures. Then, of course, there is the temptation to write about the heinous burial of a despicable (to be somewhat kind in the use of the word) person. I write this as a sort of pambawi since this is about two persons who did good despite their situations.

Our helper for about 8 years whom we affectionately call Manang finally went home last October 31. She had wanted to go home last year after some difficulties with the situation about her daughter but she was able to make arrangements during her trip there and came back hopeful about that matter. Manang has a special child who is already in her teens. Most of her closest relatives including her own children didn't want anything to do with this special child. This caused a lot of pain for Manang as she grappled with trying to understand why this is so and interpreted this as her own personal challenge in life. Still, she gave her 100% to our household and was selfless in her service. She was the kind of person who will not ask for a day-off so we had to "force" her not to work on certain days. 
 
I believe her faith allowed her to keep her composure and even sanity throughout what she considered as trials in her life. She wasn't overly religious but she was very happy to be in Antipolo and be able to go to Sunday Mass at the Shrine to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. She also mentioned to us several times that she prayed for us and we thanked her and expressed our appreciation that she included us in her prayers. We can only imagine her being so generous this way.

One of Manang's most challenging moments came early during her tenure when, in 2009, she experienced first hand the terrible floods brought about by Ondoy (Ketsana). She actually also asked us if she could go home after a few months and we only requested for her to find a replacement despite what we observed were signs of depression brought about by the floods. She recommended one of her daughters who wanted to come to Manila at the time. Inday, worked for us for many months until Manang decided to come back. The former transferred to my sister where she became yaya to my niece and nephew. She is back with us now as nanny to our daughter after a stint in Tagaytay where she worked at a store. Meanwhile, Manang has returned home after also finding her replacement. But of course, she will never have a replacement. You can never really replace a person whom we considered more as a relative, a loved one whom we've become close to. Our daughter affectionately refer to her as Nanay and Manang always had a soft spot for our daughter.

Thank you for taking care of us Manang Aileen Taipen. We wish you all good things especially with your family and specifically your daughter Cutie. We hope to see you again soon perhaps when our own daughter can already travel and maybe go to your hometown in Kabankalan, Negro Occidental.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Some realizations from the recent election campaigns

Writing, they say, can be cathartic. And so I write about some realizations from the run-up and aftermath of the recent elections:
  1. Many close relatives and friends do not share your politics. You will be surprised about their choices despite their being supposedly educated, experienced and, on any other day, could be logical, wise. 
  2. One should learn to move on and accept that these same relatives and friends are basically good people whom you can rely on despite your differences in political leanings.
  3. People you know can actually become quite different when online and behind what seem to them a cloak of anonymity.
  4. People who claim to be religious and who proclaim their praises to God online (and especially those can be quite inconsistent and contradictory to their so-called faiths.
  5. Scientific people can become the opposite and disregard even the most basic mathematical, statistical and scientific principles and thoughts if only to make explanations conform to their positions.
The list can go on but then I probably already covered much of the negative stuff that I just wanted to have out there. I rarely post about religion and politics on my social media accounts. And if I do, I am usually very serious about it so I would respond to those who offer the opposite or even sarcasm. Truly, respect is earned but one cannot claim it if one cannot be humble enough to accept truths especially the inconvenient and painful ones.
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Saturday, September 26, 2015

6 years A.O. (After Ondoy)

It's now 6 years after Ondoy (Typhoon Ketsana); that particularly destructive typhoon that brought down the heaviest rainfall we ever experienced (some say 100 year flood). We lost 1 of our 2 cars and were demoralized given our investment with what used to be our home back in 2009. Our housekeeper was so stressed and depressed (it was her first time to experience such an event) that we had her take a break for some time. Our pets were also distressed and it took a while before the two ventured downstairs as we were sure they could detect the smell of flood waters that lingered even after we cleaned up and disinfected our ground floor and surroundings.

We now live on literally higher ground. After saving up for a few years, we were able to build our new home. Our dogs moved in with us last year and soon our most wonderful blessing arrived and is enjoying her room at our home - safe from the floods of Ondoy and other typhoons that may bring in floods in the future. Our kasambahay Manang is also with us along with her son whose schooling we are supporting. They, too, are happy and it seems that we can all now look back at Ondoy and its floods jokingly. It is something we would rather not experience again and we hope our former neighbors will not experience again in the future.

Today is actually a sunny day, the weather is opposite to what we experienced this time of year the last 6 years. Perhaps this is climate change happening before our very eyes? There has not been a major tropical cyclone this year so far although there have been intense (torrential) rain episodes on many days the past months and news reports mention that the El Nino this year will threaten our water supply. One thing's for sure though. El Nino is usually followed by a year associated with bad weather and heavy rains. That is not a good thing to look forward to.
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Thursday, April 2, 2015

All roads lead to Antipolo - Alay Lakad routes and traffic schemes

I'm reposting here an article I wrote in another blog that I maintain. I thought it appropriate for the season and the Holy Week.

The Rizal Provincial Government and the Antipolo City Government recently posted traffic rerouting schemes on their Facebook pages. Lalawigan ng Rizal was the first to post schemes that affect traffic in at least 3 major local government jurisdictions – Antipolo, Cainta and Taytay. The schemes affect the two major corridors that basically lead to Antipolo’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (or Antipolo Cathedral to many) – the Ortigas Avenue corridor and the Marcos Highway-Sumulong Highway corridor. There are many major and minor routes connecting to these corridors and are clearly seen in the maps.

Within Antipolo, there are also re-routing schemes, which the Antipolo City Government posted along with a “clearer” re-posting of the maps from the Rizal FB page. The Antipolo FB page includes information/maps on the rerouting within the city center. These schemes will affect traffic circulation including public transport routes. Critical would be the permanent and temporary terminals and parking areas set-up around the city that should be able to accommodate the thousands of vehicles that are also expected to be used by people who won’t be walking or cycling.

What the maps basically say is that from 4:00 PM today, Maundy Thursday, to 6:00 AM tomorrow, Good Friday, the stretch from Cainta Junction to the Shrine will be closed to traffic. This is to allow the hundreds of thousands expected to make the trek to Antipolo to have the road for themselves. What the maps don’t say is that motorcycles and tricycles would likely be allowed, too. I can understand that motorcycles could easily squeeze into the throngs of people but then allowing tricycles to operate among the walkers and bikers would be risky given their drivers’ behavior. Add to this that they would be making a killing out of charging opportunistic fares.

Technically, the rerouting schemes don’t appear to be as well thought of as can be expected from the LGUs. Baka ito lang nakayanan ng staff o ng consultants nila, and surrender na agad ang Rizal and Antipolo with regards to the coming up with more options for people to travel to the Antipolo Shrine? Not all people can walk or cycle but are willing to and could take public transport for their pilgrimage. The maps themselves are a bit crude and the Province of Rizal and City of Antipolo could have done much better maps given the resources of these LGUs. There are open source tools now available as well as your basic software like PowerPoint or Photoshop (even Word!) that can be used to render good quality images to guide people making the Alay Lakad. This is a regular event and though it happens once a year then perhaps the LGUs could have better plans especially to transport people who cannot make the walk to Antipolo. The objective after all is to convey the masses to and from the shrine safely and efficiently – something a mass transport system can do whether via Marcos/Sumulong or Ortigas corridors.

One reminder to all doing the Alay Lakad: keep your garbage to yourselves if you cannot find a proper waste bin. Do not dispose of your waste along the route and make a dumpsite out of Ortigas Avenue, Marcos Highway, Sumulong Highway or whatever roads you are taking! Kasalanan din po ang irresponsableng pagtatapon ng basura. While you might be forgiven for these “sins” through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (which many will likely take at the Cathedral), nature will have a way of getting back at you for your environmental travesty.

Friday, January 2, 2015

More firsts and restoring hope in time for the new year

I wrote about a lot of firsts happening in the past year. I forgot to write about a few experiences including one that had me writing successive posts in tribute to a friend lost. It was indeed an eventful year and I just wanted to recap a few other firsts and then some other experiences last 2014.

A few months after moving to our new home, our beloved Labrador Retriever Troy was diagnosed with cancer. We had to monitor his condition and for two and a half months we had our weekly visits to the vet for his blood work and medication. We ruled out going to a high end clinic and relied on our vet and the UP Vet Hospital to administer the tests and medication. Troy was ruled out of a certain viral infection but was positive for another that probably affected his immune system and weakened him a lot. We spent a lot of sleepless nights before he given steroids and pain killers to ease his condition. He passed away last August as we said tearful goodbyes before he was put to sleep by his vets who were also teary eyed during the procedure. Prior to his passing and to ease the pain of the loss we had adopted a puppy, a Golden Retriever whom we named Mocha but also call Mokey. She is now almost full-grown but still very much a puppy at heart.

Our Mocha enjoying the morning sun
We had to attend to several government transactions last year including those that required us going to city hall to have our homes appraised for real estate taxes. I say "homes" because I was referring to both our old and new houses. The Clairvoyant had attended to the payments for 2014 and those were made at the temporary site at the provincial capitol. The payments for 2015 had to be made at the newly renovated Antipolo City Hall and we did it in mid December to avail of the incentive of a 20% discount on property taxes for people paying before 2015. It was a bit chaotic when we arrived (a lot of other people were thinking about the same incentive and flocked to city hall) but things eventually calmed down and with a system in place it was smooth sailing for our payment.

Earlier in December, I had to book an appointment with the Department of Foreign Affairs to renew my passport. Fortunately, their system was one of the more efficient ones in government and their satellite offices allowed people to go to a more convenient venue for consular services. It was my first time to renew my passport in one of these satellite offices and it took me under 3 hours including and mostly due to the long queues because of additional people who came in after missing their appointments the previous 2 days because of foul weather (There was a typhoon early in  the week and government offices were closed.). The DFA did their part in releasing my passport a week before Christmas (I paid extra for the rush.) but it was the courier service who failed to deliver my passport before the Christmas break. Tracking my passport online, I was angry about the report that the package could not be delivered because of "incorrect address" and "no one in office." These were flimsy excuses for a major courier company especially after they sent me messages on two occasions asking for directions to my office, which I promptly replied to and with details. I ended up getting my passport after Christmas and just before the New Year break. 

We always hear and read about horror stories involving services rendered by government and private entities. There are just too many and these happen to often to a lot of people despite the availability of tools such as IT to make things more efficient. The Clairvoyant had the misfortune of experiencing one of the still inefficient transactions - getting a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). A lot of people have to go through this as a requirement for job applications, visa applications and other matters requiring the NBI Clearance. Yet, despite their efforts for electronic transactions, their system still falls short of the efficiency required for such an important requirement for employment, travel and other matters. Clearly, they need to double their efforts as the procedure and the queues for NBI Clearance has become a poster image for government inefficiency notwithstanding the kilometer-long queues for the EDSA-MRT.

We look forward to a lot of things, mostly improvements to basic services that government and private entities owe to people. We do pay for these with our taxes and the fees that we agreed to based on services they have promised to deliver. More often these are expensive fees and thus we expect to get the most out of the hard-earned cash that we turn over as payment to these services. That is only right and fair and what many of us have seen as being delivered with efficiency in other countries. Having lived in Japan and Singapore, we have seen how services can be rendered efficiently and effectively and how such delivery enhances the quality of life in those countries. We are hopeful that we can get that high quality of services from bot government and private companies who are in-charge of utilities and other services.
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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas greetings

We wish everyone a Blessed Christmas! May everyone in one way or another experience peace and love this day and all the days in their lives.


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Friday, March 29, 2013

Antipolo on a Good Friday

We had gone to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage or Antipolo Church on Good Fridays the last 4 or 5 years. That mini-tradition was cut short last year when the Clairvoyant went to her mother's hometown in Zambales to spend a few days there while she was in the Philippines (she was still posted in Singapore at the time last year). This year we decided to go in part as thanksgiving for our future home near the shrine. Following are a few photos taken at the shrine this morning. 

The Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage
Main altar with the image of Our Lady enclosed in glass at the center
Another view of the main entrance to the shrine
There were many people as usual at the shrine this morning. Most were pilgrims doing the visita iglesia or church visits, often with the objective of visiting 7 churches and praying a novena for the stations of the cross or the rosary in each church. Some have themes of trying to visit only old churches like the ones found in the Rizal-Laguna area or in Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija (similar visitas are in churches in Cebu, Iloilo and Negros, and so on). Some try to go to only major churches or shrines (e.g., Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Sto. Nino in Tondo, Manila Cathedral and San Agustin in Intramuros, San Sebastian in Manila, Sto. Domingo and Our Lady of Lourdes in Quezon City, etc.). The visita iglesia is usually a good time for bonding among family members or friends though its becoming more like that than for prayers or reflections on a holy day. Hopefully, prayer is not lost among those taking the road trip this Holy Week.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

I have a lot of happy memories of Christmas and it is not just about the gifts, the food, and other material things. I think most of the happy memories are about family and friends. Christmas and the celebrations are a lot about companionship and fellowship - opportunities to renew and strengthen bonds. The sermon at the Mass last night was a good reminder for a lot of us that Christmas is about love. It is about giving oneself to others just as God gave Himself for our salvation. It is always a happy time and we should equate happiness not with material things but with being able to connect with others and to give a part of oneself.

Gloria in excelsis deo! A Blessed Christmas to all!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

40

The road to 40 years is one great journey. Who would have known that I would be what I am and where I am today? Perhaps only God knows considering His watch over us all.

That's me at 6 months with my mother...


Celebrating at our home in Mandaluyong...
And then later after moving to Cainta...
I've loved the beaches since my younger days...
Traveling has been a significant part of my life...
And so have been the many adventures, whether I liked it or not, planned or on the fly...
The important thing is to have someone with you on that journey!
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February the 40th

I have written about February being my month. It is, after all, my birth month. Allow me to share a little about part of my life that was imparted to me during my formative years until I graduated from high school. I studied at Lourdes School where the Capuchin Fathers guided us in our Christian education.

I believe that the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is a very powerful reflection and one that is apt in our everyday lives. It is something that I start my day with upon waking up in the morning. It is something that I never forget to pray especially on days I anticipate to be difficult. The video below is the prayer sung in English by the Philippine Madrigal Singers during one of their recent tours in Europe.



Another prayer is the Canticle of the Creatures or Canticle of the Sun. It is a very beautiful prayer proclaiming appreciation of the things around you. It is something appropriate in these times when our environment has seen so much degradation, when we have failed to appreciate even the most simple things for their deeper and not necessarily commercial value. Below is the Canticle sung by Andrea Bocelli in Italian.

  

This is probably more familiar in the popular form taught to us in school. The video below is from the film "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" that was shown to us back when we were in grade school. The clip features Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi discovering God in their own way and proclaiming this through the Canticle.



I am thankful that these prayers or reflections are now available through YouTube. The media should be among the instruments for sharing such material for generations to come who might no longer have the time to meditate about what's happening around us and to us in this electronic age.
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Near miss

Lost in the past days' heavy rains and the resulting floods that threatened to enter our home last Friday night was the close call I had last Thursday night as I returned from Korea. I had just attended the 9th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) held in Jeju, Korea. From Jeju, I took the Air Busan domestic flight that was codeshared with Asiana Airlines to Busan, where I was to connect to Asiana Airlines flight OZ 705.

I had a long layover at Busan and asked for information about the city and what I could do for the 7 hours available to me prior to my flight back to Manila. I had already checked-in my baggage so I was practically unencumbered to move about. Unfortunately, the transit system from the airport to downtown Busan was not operational (surprise!) and I decided that the trip downtown where I would just probably walk around a mall was not worth it. I thought I would just end up spending on unnecessary shopping or dining.

As I entered the departure area after the routine immigration process, I proceeded for some Duty Free shopping for pasalubong. Afterwards, I took advantage of the free internet services at the airport, replying to emails received that day. There was no free WiFi at the airport so I had to make do with the terminals made available to departing passengers near the airline lounges. Afterwards, I proceeded to the gate assigned to our flight. This was about 4 hours prior to the tentative boarding time indicated on the electronic signboard near the gate.

As I had quite some time before my flight, I tried to catch up on the latest issue of Wired magazine that I had brought along specifically for the long lay-over. It was while I was reading that I noted an announcement for an Asiana flight to another Southeast Asian city being delayed due to technical problems with the their aircraft. I also noticed upon looking around outside the terminal that quite a few planes were sitting out from the terminal where passengers were brought to the aircraft by bus. I had experienced this before when our aircraft arrived in Jeju the Monday before, and at NAIA Terminal 2 in past domestic and international flights that couldn't be accommodated at the terminal due to congestion. It was then that I noticed the Asiana Airlines Airbus A320 sitting across the terminal, and it looked like it was being serviced based on the vehicles parked beside it and the activity I could see from where I sat. I assumed that this was the aircraft that was supposed to be used by the delayed flight announced on the airport PA system.

A few minutes later, however, the airport PA announced that the delayed flight was now boarding. A while later, I saw an Asiana aircraft taking off, about 45 minutes delayed from its original flight departure time. The other aircraft still sat where it was, and still apparently being serviced. I noticed later that there were no other Asiana aircraft arriving or departing prior to our flight though there were many Korean Air, Air Busan and Jeju Air planes arriving and taking off. I also saw that a PAL flight left for Manila ahead of us and a Cebu Pacific flight left for Cebu one hour before ours. That was when I suspected that the plane sitting from across the terminal would be our aircraft for the trip to Manila.

Upon boarding the aircraft, we already noticed that the airconditioning was off along with the plane's engine. This was already unusual for me considering a plane that was supposed to take off within the next 20 minutes normally had its engines running already. The Koreans on that same flight apparently were not pleased with the conditions as the cabin became warmer as more passengers settled in their seats for the flight to Manila. Not a few were already voicing their displeasure and were doing so in a way we usually see on TV. It seemed to me that they were already berating the crew. When the pilot started the plane's engines, the cabin suddenly became dark and a weird sound was heard from outside the plane. Minutes later, the pilot announced that the plane was having problems with its electrical system and we had to wait out for it to be repaired. What followed were more complaints and possible offensive words from the Korean passengers who didn't like the idea of being delayed. We were, after all, originally scheduled to arrive in Manila at 12:00 midnight. Any delay meant we were arriving early morning of Friday.

Abotu 30 minutes later, the pilot again attempted to start the plane and for the second time, the electrical system failed. This resulted in what I thought were insults and other offensive words from the Korean passengers. I could see that the flight attendants were already quite embarrassed and they could do nothing but try to assuage passengers on the situation. I was already thinking about whether we will be asked to deplane and wait our for our plane to be fixed or another aircraft to take its place. No such announcement was made and we had to wait it out for another 20 minutes. I thought that it was good though that there were cooler heads among the Korean passengers who were able to calm down others who were already threatening the pilot and the crew due to the displeasure about the situation.

The third time around, the plane finally responded and we were able to taxi and take-off without any hitch. The pilot continued to apologize even after take-off and assured everyone that the electrical system was repaired. Nevertheless, I could not sleep in the plane no matter how hard I tried to as each shake and rumble due to turbulence made me think about the possibility that the plane's electrical system will fail, resulting in a crash. It was no light matter considering that we were traveling 3.25 hours between Busan and Manila, and we will be flying between two typhoons including one whose path was to cross ours. Such assured us of much turbulence throughout the flight including a couple that made me quite nervous as I could not even see the plane's wings from my window seat due to the thick clouds around us. The only thing I could do was to pray silently that we don't have a breakdown in midflight.

I was only able to relax when we finally landed in Manila. In fairness to the pilot, it was one of the smoothest landings I ever experienced even despite my being too conscious of the turbulence throughout the flight. Yet, my worries were renewed when the the cabin blacked out momentarily after we stopped at NAIA Terminal 1. I could not help but think about what could have happened if this occurred earlier while we were still in the air. Moments later, my suspicion was confirmed by an airport supervisor who was going around the conveyor belt telling Filipino passengers that our bags will be delayed due to the difficulties experienced by ground staff in opening our plane's baggage compartment. I could not help but feel relieved that I "survived" that flight. Perhaps it was my prayers? My faith? No matter. I am truly thankful and grateful to the One Who watches over us and did so formally while in Church this morning to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.