Category Archives: News

Be Still, Japan. Help Is on the Way.

Today is a devastating day for the world.

My favorite place (next to the Philippines) has been struck by Mother Nature’s powerful sleight of hand. In minutes, one of the most orderly countries on earth has been reduced into an intricate picture of disarray. Just. Like. That.

Three days ago, our Japanese board mate approached us, saying he was going to give us his cooking utensils because he was going back to Japan. If I remember it right, he had been living in Cebu for roughly a year. When he first came, he was with his wife. But after a month or two, his wife probably returned to Japan because we no longer saw her.

We weren’t friends with this Japanese man. Just like acquaintances, we would nod or smile whenever we saw each other, but that’s that. Perhaps because we were hesitant he might not understand English that well, so it was also due to the language barrier. In fact, we only knew his name that day he gave us the cooking utensils.

Right there and then, we felt compelled to give him something in return–a parting gift that he could bring to his homeland. We wanted it to be something Filipino, something for him to remember the Philippines.

Coincidentally, earlier that day, we bought some FMCC (Francis Magalona Clothing Company) shirts. I bought my second FMCC shirt while Redh bought his first. We were very happy with our finds.

Needless to say, right off the bat, Redh told me he would give his newly bought shirt to Konnichiwa. (By the way, since we didn’t know his name yet, we just referred to him as Konnichiwa, a Japanese word for hello.) We finally got his real name and even his Facebook e-mail address after that. But in respect for his privacy, let’s just call him Konnichiwa.

I couldn’t be more proud of Redh after what he did.

The latest news we gathered on Konnichiwa is he is in Korea and was going to get a ticket to Japan hours before the quake happened.

My heart and prayers go out to him and to all our Japanese brothers and sisters who are hurting and trying to will their way through this horrendous tragedy. It surely is hard to move on past this with the many lives lost and properties damaged. But we shouldn’t lose faith in God. No matter how rough the road is, he is there to walk through it with us. Let’s continue to pray for Japan.

Here’s the design of the shirt Redh gave to Konnichiwa.

We told him the word kababayan means fellow man in English. Never did we think the shirt would sooner serve its purpose. I hope that when he looks at it, he would realize Japan is not alone. They have brothers and sisters in the Philippines and in other parts of the world who are praying for their well-being.

(This blog entry is my response to the news about the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake that caused a tsunami and devastated Japan early today, March 11, 2011.)


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Speak Your Mind Even If Your Voice Shakes

Anyone who has been a steadfast activist would most likely find this title familiar. A strong quote I borrowed from then American activist Maggie Kuhn, who dedicated her life fighting for and defending human rights. I can’t think of a better irony right now than this statement. Two contradictory ideas that marvelously create perfect sense. Like a wilted flower that, though teetering, never succumbs to the blistering heat that taunts it, scorches it, and gives it a reason to loosen its hold from the tree.

You should’ve guessed by now. I am that flower.

Every day, for the last few months that I had worked night shifts, it felt as though my feet were bound with heavy shackles that caused my existence to be in a drag. I had struggled to wake up every 6:30 that cursed sound of the alarm. Although there were days when I’d have the entire day to squander (translation: sleep), I’d still get eye bags, and  I’d still feel tired like never before. I was dragging my whole self to the situation. I took a part-time job to at least give justice to the eye bags, but the situation didn’t get any better. I gained more money, but I was losing two important things–my weight and my life.

As I turned on the TV to watch tonight’s news, my heart sank upon seeing the grim fate of the ten construction workers, who died in an accident when the scaffold they were standing on collapsed and fell from the twenty-eighth floor of a high-rise building. There were allegedly eleven people who boarded the scaffold, which was supposed to hold not more than six. It was definitely a case of overcapacity. Among the eleven who took that leap of faith,who risked their lives for a few pennies, I couldn’t help but wonder. Hadn’t anybody thought about speaking his mind?

I trust in the saying “Two heads are better than one.” And what of eleven? There had to be somebody among them who felt an ominous chord before they went and embarked to their unfortunate demise. Somebody who gained insight on the ramifications of what they were about to do. That somebody who had the knowledge but lacked the power to express. Perhaps a newbie who had cold feet and convinced himself that it’s inappropriate to talk ahead of the seniors. Or a senior who opted not to press the point, thinking it would just be an ordinary day, and there couldn’t be anything bad that could happen.

I wonder what went on the minds of the other ten who snobbed the idea of danger. Who carried on without batting an eyelash. Were they as nervous as the one who trembled and held his tongue? Or had the thought of going on that unsteady platform stripped them of all emotions and kept them numb?

If only that man had spoken. Or, if he did, if only he stood his ground. If only he had been courageous enough to risk being ridiculed or laughed at. If only he had taken that life-changing risk, it would’ve saved more than half a dozen more and spared a thousand television viewers from anguish and despair.

If only he chose to believe that there’s nothing wrong to be that wilted flower, but that there’s more wrong than right in pretending to be a sturdy tree.

This is not to say I’m trying to find the culprit to point a finger on. This is just my curiosity, which has engendered speculation. I am anxious to hear the story from the sole survivor who’s currently fighting for his life in the hospital. I pray that he lives to tell us the “Tale of the Eleven Construction Workers.”

While I write this, I am curled up  like a flower. The Cebu weather has been generous in allowing rain that gives showers to flowers. Especially that, which was once dried up but is now teeming with life.

It’s 8:54 p.m., and I’m sitting in a mushroom of comfort with three piles of pillows on my back. The alarm would have gone off minutes ago. I have to ditch that alarm. I have time on my side now. I’m happy. And I’m being paid.

(I am now working as a home-based freelance editor. I love my job.)


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An Eye for an Eye only Makes the Whole World Blind

deliver us

We all got bowled over by the massacre that took place at Maguindanao Monday. We’re not only mourning for those innocent lives lost brought about by ruthless deeds our fellow men resort to doing these days. But most especially, we feel fear for our security. To date, death toll in said massacre rose to a whopping 57, calling the incident the worst politically motivated violence in recent Philippine history. The sadder part is many lives have been wasted all because of a certain group of people’s hunger for power. NOT WORTH IT!

All fingers are now pointed at Governor Andal Ampatuan and his allies, who allegedly wanted his son to succeed him as governor resulting to the conscienceless killings–the most horrible thing that could happen in a democratic country. I guess it’s safe to say what we have is a failed democracy.

Now everybody is suggesting it’s time we bring back death penalty. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. While it’s true that killing the perpetrators could give us short-term relief, we are giving ourselves false hopes in the long run. What do you expect will happen next if we act in the form of revenge? REVENGE. That does not sit well with me.

I’m praying the aggrieved party of Mangudadatu won’t resort to this foolishness. I’ve been saying this all the time with my past articles (not in this weblog): We absolutely cannot correct one mistake with another. I know how hard it is to bring one’s self to forgive. But that’s the best thing to do. Maybe not today. Maybe tomorrow or the days to come. Take a long hard look at life and find it in your heart to forgive. Let that be the main point to which we could all rally upon.

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