Monday, March 27, 2006

At the Choir Loft

After the wedding, QT's posing with Fr Jboy (the one who looks like a college student). Lingkod production na naman ito - flowers, music, entourage, readers, emcees, etc. We have also been very much part of the lives of the de Pedro and the Onia family, through the years. Posted by Picasa

Growing Family

The Lingkod QC growing family, waiting for Ryan & Cherry's wedding to start. Last few minutes of Ryan's singlehood. Nagdatingan ang dalawa kong inaanak - Renshi and Migs. Ang cu-cute at ang ku-kulet. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Song for Ria

Birthday Girl Ria with Housemate Nenen, being serenaded by Rommel, the Branch Manager of Lingkod-Marikina; and Marlon, who prefers to pose rather than sing. Posted by Picasa

Yan ang Japorms!

Nik in long sleeves for the most humid day of the year; with Tim, the Sharer, and DJ smiling in the background. Posted by Picasa

Guess who sang a Tagalog Love Song?

Party on... Tess with the Honorary QT's, Fr Steve and Fr Brian, MGL, who sang about four songs each, without need for much prompting from us. There must be something really showbiz about QC. I bet you can't tell who in the picture sang a Tagalog love song, and got one of the highest scores for the night. "Bakit Pa?" never sounded that good. Posted by Picasa

Endless Videoke Session

At the Lord's Day fellowship, Tess, Gay, Nenen and I showcased Lingkod QC's newest acquisition - two cordless microphones. Posted by Picasa

She Turned 33 on 3/30

The Lord's Day celebration was followed by a Surprise Birthday Honoring for Ria Agcaoili, who's turning 33 at the end of the month. Posted by Picasa

If Doc Jun is a DJ...

QT's sing "Mr. DJ" for Doc Jun. This was followed by "Kahit Maputi na Ang Buhok Ko", mixed with "Mr. DJ". Hilarious. The youngest members learned two new old songs that night. YC ka na, DJ. You've changed. Posted by Picasa

Celebrating the Lord's Day with Lingkod QC

The cramped view from our garage. That's Marlon leading. Hmmm napapadalas yata bro ah. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Silence Becomes Me

I have lost my muse. I can't write. It's not part of my Lenten sacrifice to give up blogging, but I've had difficulty finding anything to blog about. My last entries came in trickles until finally this week I seem to have lost the very last drop of inspiration to write. I have been journaling, but those words would never see print.

So until my thoughts find their voice again, I thank you for visiting my blog and suggest you click on the links to my archives, at the right side of the page, or to other blogs and websites I've linked here.

Who knows, tomorrow my muse might come again.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I was Saved Again from Distress

For when I am weak, then I am strong.  Paul couldn’t have said it better.  It was only three days ago that I was beginning to lose hope about ever accomplishing my tasks, and now I can see how God pulled me out of another rut.  

In the nick of time, the office printer got fixed so I could print the document I had been working on for weeks and thus meet the deadline.

God enlarged my territory by allowing me to do something for the first time, that is, give a talk and facilitate retreat activities for graduating grade six students!  It was not my forte and I’m not sure if I would do it again, but at least it wasn’t as disastrous as my previous experience of addressing senior college students in a university.

Relationships that had been strained the past year are slowly being healed, as God recently put me in situations where I was forced to respond in love, by His grace, to people I’ve had major differences with.  It is a miracle.  The power of prayer is amazing.  It is true that those who hurt us are those whom we love the most, and vice versa.  Maybe we are growing older and wiser, my friends and I.  Or maybe it was just time to find what we have in common rather than bemoan how far apart we’ve grown.

I missed it by a day, but I was able to finish the talk outline I was expected to turn in for my presentation tomorrow at our CLP.  With very little time and energy left, I asked the Holy Spirit to pour upon me wisdom and knowledge so I could speak God’s Word, especially since the topic is the power of the Holy Spirit.  He graciously heeded my prayer!

The turning point for me happened last Friday night, during the Penitential Service we had in Lingkod QC, in lieu of our regular prayer meeting.  Reflecting on Jesus’ words and actions when He raised Lazarus from the dead, I could not help but see that I did not have to stay in the dark, always fearful of what others might say and anxious that I might make mistakes.  Jesus’ love, His call, and His mission for me were clearly re-established and I had renewed hope in my heart.  To know that He sees my efforts and does not take my failures against me is enough to sustain me.  I can continue working for Him who is my Savior yesterday, today and tomorrow.

A beautiful thing happened today, too.  The piano students of my Mama and my sister-in-law had their recital today at the U.P. Aldaba Hall.  I have been watching recitals like those for as long I can remember, this being the 41st time in her career that Mama conducted one, and yet every year, she has upped the ante.  There are some pieces that have become part of her students’ repertoire, like First Waltz, Fur Elise, and Swaying Daffodils, as the children themselves request if they could play their favorite pieces assigned to other students, in the next recital.  My family and I don’t get too excited anymore with those pieces, although it’s interesting to see how each child would tackle them.  

What made Papa and I sit at the edge of our seats were the extraordinary performances, especially from those students who were part of the mini-Chopin festival. I had goose bumps watching a high school student’s rendition of the Etude which I myself quit trying to play for being too complicated!  The story behind the piece was even more interesting – apparently, it was music that was very close to the boy’s father’s and grandfather’s hearts, as it was played right before the latter passed away.  The boy, only on his third year of piano study, practiced hard and did not let a physical injury, which caused his right arm to be immobilized for a couple of weeks, stop him.  The result was exquisite; it was like listening to a professional recording.  To think it was performed by a high school freshman!  He would be a piano scholar for the coming schoolyear because of his diligence and sheer talent.

My nephews played too – Miko, the littlest student of them all, played Canon by Pachelbel to the delight of the audience, while Luigi performed his chosen piece, a simplified version of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, which drew silent oohs and aahs from the audience.  Their trio with a grade six student was one of the crowd favorites as it was entertaining to watch six little hands fit on one baby grand piano, and to observe Miko’s natural playfulness while waiting for his turn.  His little fingers pounded on the keys at the right moment, although he had to squeeze himself on the tiny space beside his Kuya, and in between his turns, he flipped his hair, sat on his other hand, and swung his legs, which could reach neither the pedals nor the floor yet.  Afterwards, he told me, “Tita Ella, people I didn’t know told me I was good and they kept calling and following me.”  He asked us why people were laughing during their performance.  We told him the truth:  because he was cute and talented, but very makulit.  Their mom and dad were so proud, and they had every right to be, for even though they were so busy with work and helping Mama with the recital, they also supervised the daily practices of the kids.

Everything is possible to one who believes.  I’m hoping for a less stressful week.  I know I worry too much so I write about these blessings to remind me when I get anxious again that all’s well that ends well.  If I just give my best, and recognize that I cannot do anything by myself anyway, then the power of the Holy Spirit would help me, and things would turn out good.  In the piano recital, as in life, mistakes are normal, even expected, and the students just vow to do better, but those who play masterfully should be recognized, and their music remembered, for they inspire us of how good we could be if we practice, believe, and then perform with all our heart.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Too Much for One Heart

I don't know how I ended up mismanaging my time again. Despite all efforts to plan ahead and to be efficient, I found myself with activities all crowded at Quadrant I (classified Urgent and Important) once more! Back pains, headaches, and eyebags tell me that I have succeeded in reuniting myself with stress and pressure. How is it that new projects/ errands/ requests/ expectations come raining, and people seem to believe that each one is Urgent and Important, and I'm supposed to tackle them with "priority" marked all over them?

I thought I said "No" already to roles I could not handle anymore, but it seems that I have a tendency to attract busyness. This time I need more than caffein to survive, I need grace, and I should remember that God's grace is sufficient for the work He wants me to do. I'm not just busy with work in the office, but my personal life is stretching me to the very limits of loving and giving. Dying to self has become a regular exercise, for the more that I prefer to stay in my little world in my room, the more that I am pushed beyond my comfort zone in relating to people and understanding their decisions, however unbelievable for me.

I'm blogging instead of working because I'm tired. I want to sleep and to get a relaxing massage tomorrow but both are luxuries I cannot afford.

Perhaps I want to accomplish too many things. Perhaps I don't know how to protect my personal space anymore. Or perhaps because I'm working full-time in a non-corporate, non-government setting, people around me have changed their expectations. Or perhaps, and this is the most likely theory, I packed too many goals and want to realize them all at the same time, and I project this to others - so they respond in kind, by demanding that I deliver on my self-appointed goals.

I don't even have time for sufficient introspection to figure this out. I'm bound for another sleepless night due to work, and the weekend does not promise to be relaxing because of all these worries from all fronts.

I need to remember vacations from months past - to hold on to visions of Bohol, Boracay, Disneyland, Punta Fuego, Fontana, Baguio, Tagaytay, Grand Canyon, San Francisco.

One thing I need is to run to God. Is this really how He wants me to spend my time? Which tasks do I really need to prioritize, and which could I say no to? Which relationships could survive my temporary absence, and which need to be worked on? How do I handle people who think I am never there for them, even if I give them quality time? Did I leave my job to serve God, or to serve others? Have I been so stubborn and proud in accepting assignments, and was I blind to opportunities to say No? Why do I feel this constant pressure, is it mine alone, or is it real, and what shoudl I do about it?

I wish my personal life would be quieter so I could focus on my work, but no, it's on hyperdrive. I want to go on an individual silent retreat for eight days. Or to go to the beach alone.

Lord, please hold me together, I think I'm about to have a system breakdown. Please give me courage, strength, energy, wisdom, and inspiration. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Last Holiday: Life With Butter

Tonight I will write a movie review.  It does not run counter to my abstinence from writing trivial things, as “Last Holiday” is anything but trivial for my QT sisters and I who saw the movie right after work on a Tuesday night.  It was just what the doctor ordered for five single Christian women who needed to let their hair down.

I admit I agreed to see the movie because I wanted to laugh.  I was expecting Queen Latifah to hold the screen as her stage and entertain me with bold strokes into a fantasy world where I could buy anything I wanted without having to pay for them.  What I was treated to, however, was a gentle woman who held back all her life but once told that it was about to end, savored every minute with passion and gratitude.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me provide the premise of the movie, which is a remake from a 1950s British comedy.  Queen Latifa plays Georgia Byrd, the best employee in a department store, who played by the rules and who suppressed her dreams in favor of the comforts of a predictable life.  She sang at her church choir, babysat for her sister, fed her neighbors, and harbored a secret crush on her co-worker Sean, played by equally famous rapper LL Cool J.  I’m telling you, the woman is a saint!  Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, she also watches her calories and gives store-sample food to the elderly, to the consternation of her profit-oriented boss!  

Georgia lived in another world, like a parallel universe, in her mind.  She kept a book of things she would do someday – like meet famous chefs (one played by the gifted Gerard Depardieu, and the other, Food TV host Emeril, who starred as himself); travel to Europe; eat her favorite foods without worrying about weight gain; and marry the man of her dreams.  Whenever she thought about these dreams, she just added a page to her album, but did not do anything to actually pursue them.

Until one day when a head injury brought her into the reality that is life – she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and was given three months to live by their company doctor, Dr. Gupta, played effortlessly by an actor so good the memory of his image kept me and my friends in stitches even hours after watching the film.

This plot was highlighted on the trailer and it actually misled me into thinking that afterwards, the heroine decided to suck the marrow out of life, shop, travel, wine and dine all she wanted without a care in the world!  

The surprises for me were:  First, she did not max out credit cards (as I assumed) in order to finance her Last Holiday. She just liquidated all of her investments.  Second, she maintained her wisdom and humility even in the midst of struggling with her sickness.  Third, she touched lives wherever she went, from America to Europe, because of her honesty.  Fourth, she had a personal relationship with God, often talking to Him in the middle of a conversation with another person, seeing His hand in her life and alternating between doubting Him and thanking Him for everything.  Fifth, she could be one of my sisters in Lingkod, for she reads the Bible, has a personal relationship with God, goes to church, and even serves in their Music Ministry!  That’s what made her character so adorable for me and my friends.

The movie was paced just right to make the seeds planted in the first hour bear fruit in the second hour.  It was funny and poignant, touching very common topics such as love, death, and life with freshness and restraint.  The delights which she unwrapped one by one were not borne out by her backsliding into a hedonistic lifestyle; they simply were treats she finally allowed herself to indulge in out of an appreciation of who she really was as a person.  The meals, treatments, outfits, sports, and jewels were things she relished, slowly, with her eyes closed and her lips curled up in a satisfied smile.  She was surrounded with a good mix of characters, all perfectly-cast with talented actors, from the hotel crew who adored her sincerity to the elite guests who clamored for her company.

I felt God’s love for Georgia Byrd, and it reminded me of His love for each of us.  When she was tearfully questioning Him on why He let her suffer, I asked with her.  Why God, why me?  I did what you asked, I was a good girl.  When she could not believe all the blessings that were surrounding her, she looked up, shook her head and smiled.  She did not believe in luck but knew Somebody was watching over her.

I cannot reveal the ending without spoiling the movie experience for you.  It is a highly recommended movie especially for sisters.  One of us is out there, and her name is Georgia.  She’s obedient, prudent, and patient, yes, but she also has longings, dreams, and desires that you and I know cause real pain.  

It’s a film that would make you laugh, cry, and think of turning “possibilities” into “realities”, by God’s grace, which was what the entire film was about.  The “secret of life” is in the film too, and I think my father would have to agree:  it is not the prison (or did the good chef say “box”?) of extra-virgin olive oil; for the secret of life is butter!  It was not spelled out, but I agree.  It stands for flavor.

Georgia counted the things she would have done more given another chance at life:  she said she wanted to laugh more and to love more.  Mercy, Gay, Arlene, Mirac and I took note.  Now, if each of us would just take out our secret journals of possibilities and shared them, perhaps they could become realities as well!  

To laugh, and to love, and to laugh again… maybe the film is not very realistic, but that is how I like my movies sometimes.  They have to paint hope and joy in bold strokes so I could bring them home with me.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Prayers Answered in Bittersweet Ways

One of my prayers at the start of this Lenten season was to become a better witness to my friends and family who were not in the renewal, by radiating peace, joy, hope, faith, and love. I felt a burden for this because it seemed futile if I could speak to others about God’s love and yet failed to give that to the people who mattered most to me. It was not glorifying to the Lord anymore to still be beset by the anxieties that other women over thirty usually experienced, although being human I was no better at avoiding entirely these issues than those who were not serving the Lord full-time. I therefore asked for the grace to be a Christian wherever I was and no matter what challenges I was faced with.

Opportunities to grow in that area have arisen since I opened it up to God for Him to deal with. After the event that moved me to write my last entry, I was led to bend my knees in prayer and to ask God for the grace to face the consequences of my decisions. Here is a brief background that I could write about regarding this - someone questioned and doubted my priorities and in the ensuing struggle to defend my decision (involving other people), I unwittingly entered into an argument with a very old friend.

I woke up the next day with what I thought was righteous anger. I felt I had been hurt, treated with injustice, and victimized by persecution, yet God let those feelings linger for a grand total of fifteen minutes. Before I opened my copy of “Companion” (a Catholic Scripture diary) for that day, I asked the Lord to speak to me clearly regarding my relationship with my friend. I knew I was in danger of giving in to my negative emotions and lashing out in retaliation, once provoked. So despite what Fr. Steve once told me, that when we give in to sin after suffering an injustice in our lives, we contribute to a greater injustice, I was really willing to let my anger brew and was looking for a way to triumphantly highlight how right I was in that situation.

But God would hear none of my self-righteousness. The Gospel reading for last Friday struck me like lightning, and my Lord told me in no uncertain terms to reconcile with my friend.

The passage is familiar to most of us:

Mt 5:20-26 (NAB)

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.“

You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.

Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

I felt that the message for me was that I had to reconcile with my friend before I could count my Lenten sacrifices and even partake of the Body of Christ during Mass. It was not God’s will that I harbor resentment. I was not glad to hear this commandment from God, but I knew He was right, and He was after my growth.

I seethed for a few more hours after that, but as the time for our Lingkod prayer meeting approached, I felt I had a deadline. “[I]f you bring your gift there at the altar…” But Lord, I thought, my friend has to say sorry first. She insulted me and hurled unfounded accusations at me! “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”

The grace that saved me that day was obedience, and that alone. Not understanding why I had to die to myself that way and why God was not taking my side, I lifted up all my prayers and tried to compose a message of apology to my friend, and to make further repairs in our relationship and that of the people around us who were affected by our little disagreement. It was a painful thing to do, as if a barrel was taken out from my stomach, through my esophagus, and out of my mouth, to say those words to my friend. Waiting for her response was worse. I didn’t realize that I was holding my breath until I saw her message – it was an apology, an acknowledgment that she went too far in pushing me to decide in favor of what she wanted me to do, and an admission that she did it out of sheer love (not in those exact words).

The feeling afterwards was unexplainable – first, I knew I just took part in something where God was in control and I just had to cooperate with him. Second, I was so relieved to know I had not lost one of my best friends, that she still found something worth loving in me despite our differences in many things. I realized that I had started questioning if I had my priorities straight because her opinion mattered to me, but at the end of that day I was at peace with how things went.

I arrived at the prayer meeting with a heart ready to worship my God. I spoke to Him from the heart and thanked Him for the opportunity to grow in humility and in love. Admitting my own weaknesses was a bitter pill to swallow but it left a sweet taste afterwards, when I felt God smiling at me, as if to say, “That’s my girl.” It was an inch towards my transformation as a Christian, and hopefully it would lead to better communication with my loved ones. I have much to learn in this area, I know. At least God had shown me that He had heard my prayer and was already in the process of teaching me His ways of loving.

I could imagine how that prayer meeting could have gone for me had I not reconciled with my friend. I would probably have cried the whole time and felt unglued, questioning my call and hating the consequences of that call. I would not have known that even if I was not always understood, I was loved, accepted, and supported, and though I could have tried to go on in life without them, life was honestly much sweeter with my friends.

There have been other instances of learning to be a good witness to my loved ones, since I’ve had to accept certain choices that did not sit well with me and to be supportive and understanding.

Today I’ve been to a baptism and dedication of my college friends’ baby. It was an opportunity not to be affected when asked the question – When is your turn? after my friends started scheduling the next baptisms that were lined up in the barkada this year. Weddings are so last year to this particular group.

Tonight I went to a bridal shower for one of my sisters in Lingkod QC. It was wholesome fun; a time to honor the sister who’s moving forward from our singles community, and a time to bond with other sisters in a Christian setting. We had coffee and listened to an acoustic act later on at Mocha Blends. We talked about common concerns of sisters, but after all the jokes and heartaches, we said we all wanted to follow Christ in this area, and to be good witnesses. What good would it be to profess that we’re Christians if we still exhibited stereotypical behavior of single women? True, we were prone to emotional upheavals, but we vowed to support one another in not staying in doubt, bitterness, or whatever negative emotion our singleness triggered, especially with the demands and pressures of the outside world. Who else could we turn to but one another? We renewed commitments to spend more time in productive endeavors, and to make space in between our busy lives to let our hair down and be kind to ourselves. We knew we had Lingkod activities to express our talents and serve our fellowmen, but we also needed to watch movies together, drink coffee or tea, and talk about our concerns where we would have sisterly support and receive godly advice.

I was reminded tonight that I am not alone in this struggle. This truly is a grace-filled season, a time to hear the Lord and see Him move in the areas opened up more fully to Him.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I Ask, I Seek, I Knock

I have been busy this past week, so busy that I’ve hardly had sleep, yet I still have not finished all that I have to do.  Most likely, I’m doing something wrong that’s why my schedule is in chaos.  I still haven’t figured out how to manage my time properly.  Some of my recent decisions have had negative consequences.  I’m at a loss, really, as I didn’t expect this overwhelming sense of being “not enough” when I was already trying my best.  I know I can’t please everybody but I sure have displeased a lot this week.

Tonight I read from Don Schwager’s Daily Reading and Meditation , what John Chrysostom, a 5th century church father, wrote regarding the power of prayer:

“Prayer is an all-efficient panoply [i.e. 'a full suit of armor' or 'splendid array'], a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, and the mother of a thousand blessings.  It exceeds a monarch’s power. ..I speak not of the prayer which is cold and feeble and devoid of zeal.  I speak of that which proceeds from a mind outstretched, the child of a contrite spirit, the offspring of a soul converted – this is the prayer which mounts to heaven. ..The power of prayer has subdued the strength of fire, bridled the rage of lions, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt.  In sum prayer has power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good.”

It is a good meditation for the Gospel Reading today, the first line of which goes, "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  (Matthew 7:7)

I know only prayer can save me now and show me what to do.  I ask for the Holy Spirit to guide me so that I make decisions in accordance to God’s will, and not my own.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Prayer I Hope to Memorize

Psalm 19:8-10, 14 (RSV)

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

When Less Means More

The Church has entered into the season of Lent.  I cannot find a better term so I would use “excited” for now, for that was how I felt when I started to pray earlier this week on what personal decisions I would make for the next forty (40) days.  I am in a working environment now when it is most conducive to pray, fast, and give.  It is a grace-filled season, but what makes it more exciting is to be with people who live out their decisions to have less of the world to have more of the Lord.

The 40 days of Lent is like a tithe in terms of time for God.  If 10% of 365 days is rounded off, it represents an offering of the year for the Lord.  Therefore the external changes include the following:  the colors at Mass are changed to purple; altar decorations are subdued; percussion instruments are minimized; and hallelujahs are removed.  The internal changes consist of decisions to fast from favorite shows, movies, desserts, and hobbies.  All these create the space to hear more of God.  The sacrifices are offered for something good – for country, for community, for family, for self.

This blog would change tones as well – I would write less about trivial things and more about spiritual reflections.  I would veer away from anger and frustration, and focus more on gratitude and mercy, especially on how these are manifested in me and the people I meet everyday.

It has only been four days since Ash Wednesday and already I feel lighter – physically and emotionally.  My head seems clearer as well – to appreciate my blessings and to find ways to share them.  There is growing room now for more of the Holy Spirit in me, and I hope in the days to come He would fill me more with the grace to become a much better follower of Jesus.

I am excited for this journey.  I hope you take this one with me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Statement of UP College of Law Faculty on Proclamation 1017 and Gen. Order No. 5

Last Friday, February 24, 2006, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation 1017, declaring a state of national emergency. Immediately after, she issued General Order No. 5, directing the chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately carry out necessary and appropriate actions and measures to suppress and prevent acts of terrorism and lawless violence and in certain instances the outright denial of civil liberties guaranteed and protected under the Bill of Rights, including the freedoms of speech, expression, of the press, and public assembly. Ostensibly on the strength of Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5, a general ban on rallies has been imposed, the PNP has raided one newspaper and threatens to take over other media outfits which fail to conform to government standards, and numerous persons, including several members of Congress, have been arrested without warrant.

We, the faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law, speaking with one voice, condemn in the strongest possible terms this brazen assault on essential freedoms. We firmly and unequivocally take the position that Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5, and the manner in which they are being applied by the Executive, constitute an unconstitutional infringement on civil liberties.

We refuse to accept the half-hearted excuse, put forth by some officials in the Arroyo administration, that the two issuances were not intended to violate the Bill of Rights. The simple and undeniable fact is that Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5 have been utilized by the PNP and other executive organs to mount a vigorous and unrelenting campaign against perceived critics of the administration, in full and flagrant disregard of the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights as well as the legal rules of procedure. Equally undeniable is that the President has sanctioned, or at the very least tacitly approved, these actions undertaken by her
subordinates, all of whom are fully within her control.

The indisputable truth is that the violations of the Bill of Rights done pursuant to Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5 are acts of the President.

It must be emphasized that nothing in the Constitution can authorize the suspension of the Bill of Rights. Even under a declared state of martial law, which the Arroyo administration repeatedly insists this is not, the Bill of Rights remains fully operative. Thus, the suppression of free speech, the muzzling of the free press, and the prohibition on public assembly sanctioned by the two issuances cannot be construed as anything other than clearly and unequivocally unconstitutional.

Our civil liberties, particularly the freedom of speech and public assembly are indispensable to our democracy. We cannot allow them to be arbitrarily suppressed. We therefore call for the immediate and unconditional rescission of Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5.

So Let the Pain Remain, Kababayan

So Let the Pain Remain

I’m on a roll… I have a million things to do but I can’t stop thinking about the desecration of our freedoms of speech, of the press, of peaceful assembly, etc., as found in our Bill of Rights, i.e., Article III of the 1987 Constitution.

So these are words you wouldn’t find in the Supreme Court Resolution that would be released regarding the petitions questioning the validity of PP 1017 (if I’m talking Greek, please read my recent posts first, thanks).

One of my favorite authors, Philip Yancey, wrote in his award-winning book “Where is God When It Hurts?” that pain is God’s way of protecting the body from danger. I remembered this when I concluded my previous entry with a reference to the Filipino’s sense of humor. It had tided us over scandals, calamities, and exposé’s because we had learned to find the most humorous things in the midst of the worst scenarios.

Because of our propensity to send text messages, we cascade jokes in real time – like recently, jokes about how GMA’s voice on the cellphone while talking to champion boxer Manny Paquiao in Las Vegas sounded just like the voice in the notorious “Hello Garci” tapes – minutes after the incident was shown on national television.

We have learned to laugh at our own defeats, and we have chosen to forget the tragedies that have befallen us. We have come up with coping mechanisms to shield ourselves from pain. Thus, time and again have opportunistic politicians, just like the shrewd colonizers before them, plundered us of our wealth and mired us deeper into the sinking sand that is poverty.

What clicked in my head and prompted me to write this blog is the way our eroding sense of pain has allowed us to forgive too easily (forgiveness in the Christian sense is not in issue here, suffice to say that we must love the sinner, yes, but still hate the sin) and to never learn from our mistakes.

The premise of Mr. Yancey’s book is that God is with us when it hurts, and we should thank Him for the pain, because without it we would be dead. Without pain, we would not be aware of the dangers that are surrounding us, and we would not come up with the protective shields that God has laid out for us. Before we know it, we would be lifeless. We could probably live with the pain, in a sense, but what a life that would be – not a “life to the full”, as Jesus promised, but one that is wrapped around cancers that could slowly kill us, without us noticing them.

Mr. Yancey consulted a famous doctor while doing his research on pain. Dr. Paul Brand’s landmark work on leprosy led to the conclusion that this disease does not directly cause the destruction of tissue, but what it does to the patients is just to muffle their protective warnings of pain, so that they would not be aware, for example, that their grip on the cleaning mop, was too tight that their fingers were already being cut off one by one, or that their hands were being burned by a hot surface, losing the said appendage in the process. Lepers thus lose fingers, hands, arms, and legs not directly through their disease but through the dangers that they willingly walk into as a result of their numbness from any kind of pain.

This could be what we have been going through as a people. We have leprosy, a disease that is slowly causing us to lose our sense of pain, and is making us “forgive-and-forget” politicians when we should be voting them out of our government; making us laugh when we should be standing up for our rights; making us go to the mall and watch escapist movies when we should be watching the news and letting our voices heard; and making us prefer to idolize a boxing champion just because at least for one afternoon, we were united and triumphant at something big.

I will not discuss at length Mr. Yancey’s insights, as I recommend that you all read the book (and his other magnificent works), but I would like to apply his theory on why God allows suffering to us Filipinos. God allows suffering, just like he provided built-in sensors to pain in our bodies to protect us from injury, in order to point us to a direction that He wants us to take, to preserve life, not just existence, and to have it to the full.

Apathy, ignorance, and indifference to the beatings that our laws have taken from the Arroyo administration would just embolden them to take further transgressions upon our rights. Let us open our eyes and be vigilant. We may think that our suffering is meaningless, but we cannot deny that there is injustice all around us, and we should stop pretending like nothing is wrong and that our economy is improving.

I sat-in tonight at one Adult Catechesis class at the Loyola School of Theology, and in it Dr. Jake Yap quoted Peter Kreeft, who wrote “Making Sense Out of Suffering”, when he said that Jesus “came, all the way, right into the cry” of the people. I like that. God therefore does not watch us while we suffer away, He is able, through His Son, to walk into our very pain, and to take it away, in His time.

Let us try to slowly bury our penchant to dismiss the wrongs that are committed against us. They happened for a reason and we must be attuned to what our hearts are crying out. We should fight for our freedom, or else we could lose it by the mere fact of our acquiescence.

The pain that we suffer now is there to show us that we are already in danger, and that we stand to damage our country further. Simply to laugh it off or to escape from it would not do the trick anymore. We could lose so much more than we have ever imagined.

Leprosy is the oldest recorded disease. Jesus was able to heal scores of lepers in His lifetime, and He could heal us now of our political leprosy. But first we have to recognize that we are sick, and that we need His help. And if He chooses not to wave away all our problems, let us appreciate the pain, and welcome it, because they would show us the way to produce genuine statesmen among us, and to finally become a strong nation.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

I watched the evening news on ABS-CBN earlier.  Rep. Imee Marcos, daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos (the object of the EDSA People Power Revolution), had this to say to Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, on her promise to withdraw Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 once she is assured by the Philippine National Police and other agencies that the country is no longer under a state of emergency:

(Brace yourselves, this is serious…)

“You’re nothing but a second rate, trying hard, copycat… of my dad!

I laughed despite myself!  

Ok if the joke is lost on you (which means you’re either not Filipino or not yet alive in the ‘80’s), let me explain why I found this one line so humorous that it lighted up an otherwise dark week for our laws, especially our Bill of Rights.  I found the line funny because it presented the ironic reality that we are in.

Imee quoted from one of the most popular movies in the 1980’s, Bituing Walang Ningning, from the words that Lavinia Arguelles (not sure about this last name, but played by Cherie Gil) said to Dorina Pineda (again last name is a blur, though  I recall reading the original story on Pinoy komiks before it was made into a movie, but I am certain that this was portrayed by our megastar Ms. Sharon Cuneta).  Lavinia said this before throwing a tall glass of water over poor Dorina in a restaurant, with many witnesses.  

That famous line has been repeated ad nauseaum by Filipinos who to this day love movies that center around the theme of rising from poverty to success.  One of us just has to say “You’re nothing but a second-rate…” and the rest of us could immediately add “…trying hard, copycat!”  

What Imee added about her dad (the ousted President who bound and gagged us for 20 years) painted the picture that is on everyone’s mind now, of Gloria circumventing the laws in order to exercise the powers available during martial law.  The imitation is second-rate and trying-hard because while Marcos had some notion of hiding the injustice to the people, Arroyo does away with that and just goes straight to the point – that she’s arrogating certain powers to herself because people are organizing themselves to overthrow her, believing that she’s “the best person” to run our country.  It makes me cringe to hear her say that.

Let me digress further and recall the movie’s plot.  Dorina grew up selling sampaguita but dreamt of one day becoming a successful singer like her idol, Lavinia.  Being talented and possessing a good heart, she carved a singing career for herself and became an even brighter star than Lavinia.  This prompted the diva to confront Dorina in this famous restaurant scene, as her reign was threatened by a nobody, a sampaguita vendor!  

What’s even more ironic is that Dorina also conquered the heart of Lavinia’s ex-boyfriend, played by Christopher de Leon.  In order to show her love for him, however, and I forget exactly why, she gave up her career and chose to be a bituing walang ningning, or a star that has lost its shine/twinkle/dazzle.  She was happy to just be with her loved one, and gave back to Lavinia her title as the dazzling diva.

Perhaps Dorina realized that the original was always the best, and that she was better off living her own life than following the shadow of someone else.

Perhaps Dorina thought that there were other things more important than career, fame, or success.  

Perhaps she was unwilling to pay the price of success, and she was not prepared to do everything just to keep her throne, er, title, as the concert queen or whatever it was that she achieved in her career.

How I wish our real-life copycat would also have some soul-searching this Lenten season, like what Manang from my previous blog entry suggested.  How I wish she would realize that there are more important things in life than power, and that it is not worth defending, using all means at her disposal (or even beyond her reach), if it meant hurting or giving up her loved ones.

But I am assuming that she has love for those who are being hurt by this imitation proclamation.  Maybe I’m asking too much.  Maybe that sacrifice is supreme.

I wish the Supreme Court would decide soon.  The suspense is making me think of all these rags-to-riches and love-beyond-self themes.

Don’t count me as a Marcos fan, or friend, just someone who appreciates irony with the sense of humor that is uniquely Pinoy.

Looking for Medicines

Dear Friends,

During this season of lent, we are encouraged to do prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Here is a concrete by which we can help our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Please read the letter below. You may email me,, for your donations.

Thank you in advance for your generosity. God bless!


Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon

Quezon City

February 06, 2006




Dear Sir or Madam:

We are members of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon - Quezon City, a branch of a nationwide movement of single young professionals and working people, devoted to calling other singles to a life fully committed to Jesus Christ. We strive to dedicate ourselves to active Christian service by following a Christian way of life.

In response to God’s call to love and serve His people especially the poor, we will be conducting a Medical Mission at the He Cares Village in Suburban, San Jose, Rizal on April 2, 2006 (Sunday). The village is a relocation site for squatter residents of Quezon City. We wish to give free medical and surgical (tule) services to more than 100 families through this activity. We also plan to invite resource speakers who will give talks on basic hygiene and other health concerns that are important to these families.

This activity requires commitment on our part with respect to our time, effort, and resources. However, we believe that we are not alone in our desire to help the needy. It is in this connection that we are asking for your assistance to provide medicines that are critical to the conduct of this medical mission. Should you decide to give in kind, attached is a list of medicines and medical supplies that we will need during the medical mission for your perusal.

We are looking forward to serving God’s people with you. If you have questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We may be reached through the following persons:

[Ella del Rosario -]

In behalf of the Works of Mercy Ministry, we thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing from you soon. God bless you for your generosity.

Medical Mission 2006

He Cares Village, Phase 1 (A1-B), Suburban, San Jose, Rizal

April 2, 2006, Sunday, 8am to 4pm



Paracetamol 500mg tablet

Paracetamol syrup 120mg/5ml

Paracetamol forte 250mg/5ml

Paracetamol drops 100mg/ml

Mefenamic Acid 500mg tablet

Mefenamic Acid 250mg tablet

Diclofenac Na 50mg tablet

URT Medications

Carbocisteine 500mg tablet

Carbocisteine suspension

Lagundi tablet

Lagundi syrup

Phenylpropanolamine tablet

Phenylpropanolamine syrup

Salbutamol tablet

Salbutamol syrup

Salbutamol nebulas

Ambroxol tablet

Ambroxol syrup

Butamirate Citrate tablet


Immunosin 500mg tablet

Immunosin suspension


Amoxicillin 500mg/250mg capsule

Amoxicillin 125/5ml suspension

Amoxicillin 250/5ml suspension

Ertyhromycin suspension and capsule

Cefalexin 500mg capsule

Cefalexin 125/5ml suspension

Cefalexin 250/5ml suspension

Derma Medications

Mupirocin ointment

Clobetasol propionate ointment

Calamine lotion

Cardiac Medications

Furosemide 40mg tablet

ISDN 5mg tablet

ISDN 10mg tablet


Metoprolol 50mg tablet

Nifedipine 5mg tablet

Captopril 25mg tablet

Clonidine 0.75mg tablet


Chlorpheniramine+Dexamethasone tablet
AlMgOH tablet

Domperidone 50mg tablet

HNBB (hyoscine N-Butyl Bromide) 10mg tablet

ORS granules or Hydrite tablet

Ranitidine 150mg tablet


Ascorbic Acid 500mg tablet

Ascorbic Acid syrup

Ascorbic Acid drops

Multivitamins tablet

Multivitamins syrup

Multivitamins drops

Vitamin B complex tablet

FeSO4 tablet

FeSO4 syrup


Mebendazole tablet

Mebendazole 100mg/5ml suspension

Pyrantel Pamoate suspension

Surgical Needs





Gauze Bandage



Agua Oxinada

Cotton balls