Friday, July 15, 2016


Tacloban City --- I lived there for some few years with my parents and kid brother in my granny's home. I'd rather call it a house. Granny wasn't the granny people picture grannies to be. She was a mystery to me.... distant, circumspect, and I perceived her to be cold. So I never had that grandmother-granddaughter relationship which I saw in my friends' families. She never made a dent on my young mind back then except that she was cold. So much for granny. I hope she's having a great time up there. Maybe she would finally learn to party with the angels and saints.
My kid brother was a nerd. Intelligent, even-tempered, good with people, great with books, and with his guitar. He could sing, too. Looking back at it now I think he sounded more like Don Maclean. My fondest memories of him were those times when we would butt heads exchanging facts.. insights.. observations.. opinions.. while doing our homework. Now our house was small that wherever you stood you would have the great advantage of seeing the living room, the kitchen, and the bedroom in one momentous mind-boggling instant. (we lived on the ground-floor) Before they invented the word 'open concept' in interior design, we were living in it with the bare necessities of life.
But in that precious house and home I had the best moments of my life. And the biggest lesson learned from a mother who had the mind as expansive as the universe and a heart as limitless as deity.
One evening, my brother and I were at our usual mental butting as we defended our respective turf on subjects which turned incessantly on the I-know-better-than-you wheel. We created quite a rumpus with our voices. Dad, with a knowing look in his eye and a secret smile on his face, simply took his cigarette out to the yard. But Mom, who was cooking my favorite chicken adobo in the kitchen, stopped what she was doing and turned to us with this........
'I hate noise.. and you two get on my nerves like hell. But.... if that is the price to pay to see you learning. Carry on. Just lower your voices a notch, okay?'   (Spoken in waray, the dialect of Taclobanons)
And I have never stopped learning hence.
Love life.. love your home.. love your family.. love learning.
God bless you, your family, and your home.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016



Yesterday at dusk, I stood just outside the door of my home wanting some breath of fresh air. But.. Nahh .. not the slightest breeze at all. So I turned to go back into the house when suddenly a child's crying pierced the humid air from out on the street. I went to the patio to see who it was. It was easy from there because I wouldn't be so visible to whoever was passing through. Yup, 'twas a child of about five or six being towed by her mother who appeared flustered by it all.

Mother: (Tersely) Tara na. Uwi na tayo!
---- (Come! Let's go home.)

Child: (Crying) Yokooo! Sabi mo punta tayo Jollibee..
----- (No-ooo! You said we'd go to Jollibee.) 

Mother: (Angry) May gagawin pa ako sa bahay. Tara na!
----- (Got work to do. Let's go!)

Child: (in between sobs) Sabi mo kakain tayo ng spaghetti...
----- (You promised me spaghetti!)

Mother: Hay naku! Tara na! Dali-iii!
----- (Hurry up! Let's go!)

That made me think.......

The scene broke my heart. Little children have simple hopes... simple hearts. They trust fully.. completely. They cling to every word spoken to them... good or bad. They hung up their own tiny world on it. Be careful what you speak or promise to them. It is easy to make them happy as it is easy to break their hearts.

In some measure it is the same in the adult world. Through the years many have made promises to me, many kept it, many did not. Happy over those kept, sad for those which failed. But Mom, as always, would assuage my disappointment with -------- 'Do not hung up plans, hopes, or dreams on others. They have their own way of doing things or looking at things. It may not always jive with yours. So learn, too, not to make promises you cannot keep. Always be kind.' ........ And I listened to Mom, because I knew how it felt to have a broken heart, too.

Looking back at that child, she cried as her little gentle heart broke over a broken promise. But there was nothing she could do. She was just a child. But I think that when she grows up she would be careful with words... promises. Lesson learned.

Take care please. Be gentle and kind with your children.
May God bless you and your family.

Friday, June 24, 2016



70. Seventy. What does that mean to me? Plenty. Have celebrated my seventieth birthday two days ago with my daughters springing a surprise party. Indeed a huge surprise because I wasn't expecting one But there it was... and another gold nugget added to my treasure chest of golden memories.

Made me think.....

The past is no longer useful to me. It's done its work in my life. Mistakes made. Lessons learned. With that there no longer lies a reason to hold on to what was or what had been. Even those wonderful times that filled my cup full and even took it running over the brim. It had made its mark on me, left its imprints on my mind, heart, and body. I am its creation.

The future holds no more promises. Well, not the kind when I was 20 or 24. It's more settled and defined now. The landscape, blurry and fussy before, is much clearer as I view it with eyes wide open. I can see both the forest and the trees. I can see the journey and the road.

But.. the present. This is where life is!

The present moment allows you to be who you are... pulsatingly alive in mind and heart. Perhaps the body will, too, but understandingly will be forgiven if unable to catch up.

One may chase rainbows and moonbeams in his mind and 'catch a falling star and put it in your pocket'.. (as an old song goes).. 'and never let it fade away'. One may gallop down the full spectrum of emotions... happy, ecstatic, sad, lonely, angry, morose, or just down right silly. Who cares?!! It's life! One is given just that moment to live it. So live it!

This is where I am me now. No more 'I-should-do-this-because' ...or... 'what-would-they-think-if-I-did'. This is where I connect deeply with the wind in my hair, the sun in my face, the wild chirping of birds in my ear, the enjoyment of gazing at starry nights, watching flowers a-bloom down the meadows bathed in color and beauty. Savoring. Relishing. Enjoying. Liking. Faltering and stumbling but Loving it all just the same!!

What a lovely place, time, and moment to be! Thank God for 70!

Monday, June 20, 2016


My daughter and I were walking out to the main street to get a ride to the mall, on an errand... when two ladies hurriedly walked past us. One looking in her twenties and the other apparently thrice her age. Overheard this.....

Young girl: "Bilis-bilisan nyo naman, nay. Ang kupad-kupad nyong maglakad!" (Walk faster, will yuh, mom? You're so slow!"

Old lady: "Eto nga, anak, mabilis na nga." "Doing my best."

Although the younger one showed such insensitivity to her aging mother, let's withhold judgement there because we do not know their stories. Or maybe they really have to hurry to catch up on something important. But I did form an unpleasant impression of that young girl in my mind. I was seething with anger, in fact.

But it made me think.....

On other occasions have I heard of similar words by the young. Sometimes even said in banter to and with their friends. Words such as......

"Para kang matanda; ang kulit-kulit mo ah!" (You're so annoying, like an old person!"

"Ang malilimutin mo naman. Para kang tanda." (You're so forgetful, just like an oldie!"

"Ano ba! Balat-sibuyas.. para kang lola." (Overly sensitive bloke! Just like granny."

"Ano ba! Dali mong matapilok. Tanda mo na ba!?" (Missed your step again! Are you that old!?)

That sounds so mean, harsh, and inconsiderate, even if it be true... or it be a joke. Sure older people can be ofttimes forgetful, repetitively annoying, and buckle down easily in their steps. But that is just the natural course of age and aging. We all know that. It's as normal as eating pizza pie. So why be mean about it just because in their company you would have to slow down or unwillingly rethink the usual things you would be doing in your own 'young' time, space, and world.

Let's nudge your memory a bit, young lady.....

Do you remember when your mom would patiently guide you through your first baby steps?  Or those long sleepless nights she spends by your bedside when you were sick?  Or those times when she listens attentively and patiently to your rambling mumbling incoherent stories?  Or those times when you stumbled and fell but she was quicker at catching you... every time?

This I have learned...... Life is not all about you. When you're done growing up (the time when everything is indeed about you), then it becomes time to think of others, too. Even care for them, serve, shield or protect, encourage or inspire them, maybe teach them too. In fact, if you have learned your lessons well you do all of those things alongside growing up.

Most importantly, at whatever your age --- always... "Be kind."

God bless you with everything good.

Friday, June 17, 2016


This line from a quote may come across as somewhat stern (medyo taray) to some. But I think that's not the intention. It's more of real good simple truth.

To quote:
"I am responsible only for what I say not for what you understand."    --Unknown.

We never can read a person's mind, no matter how close that person is to us. The mind is a mystery and always will be. So is the heart.
So then when I say things or write my thoughts down, I do not expect listeners or readers to see it or understand it the way I would want it understood. Oh but some do and I consider it such a blessing and appreciate it much. But also some won't or can't or will not. Still good, I respect the differences of our respective histories and nature. People are as different as the wide range of colors in the color spectrum. That makes it even more interesting. We may be looking at the same thing but when you may be seeing flowers I may be seeing its leaves instead -- or maybe you see some good where I can see only utter bad, and vice versa.

But I am responsible for what I say or write. I should be careful that whatever is said or written would not in any way be damaging to another person's personal growth or well-being…..… Would not detract from the beauty of his god-given nature and soul…..… Would not diminish his self-worth…..… Would give credit where credit is due…..… and would not feed his fears, doubts, frustrations, or even bias.

Instead in great measure allow for his greater potential and possibilities to shine through and out to the world…..…. To perhaps help sweep away the cobwebs of his mind and help ease confusion and self-doubt…..…. To help understand the good and the bad that comes with life and living…..…. To help understand human flaws and imperfections and that God’s work in us isn’t finished yet…..…. Better yet to help clear his way or nudge him gently along the path of his own life journey, by God's design.

That's quite a tall order, right? But Mom would simply say to that…... "Better trying than not trying at all.  Remember to be kind.”  Yes, Mom! I hear you loud and clear.

I see it that we all are travel companions regardless of gender, color, culture, ability, talent, education, belief or temperament, creed or personal history. You are my brother or sister - equals in this common journey we call life.

It is a privilege and pleasure to travel this same road with you.

Here’s a wish and prayer that you and your loved ones be blessed with huge portions of blessings from above. God bless you!

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Two young girls, apparently students with their books and laptops open on the table, were arguing about the words empathy and sympathy. Apparently working on a lesson. Fortunately, the coffee shop was half empty as it was quite early for the usual coffee habitue's preferred hour. I was sitting at a table next to them with my usual favorite drink waiting for my daughter to finish with her errands inside the mall. So their voices riding on a pitch higher was no bother at all.
Girl 1: "Use the word sympathy cos it's more personal'"
Girl 2: "Can't empathy mean the same thing?"

Well, I didn't wait to listen to how they resolved their problem in the end because I chose to turn off my radar at that particular point and focused on my green tea frappe. But those girls made me think.....
Empathy. Sympathy. Easily one can get their meaning from a good dictionary. No big deal. Mr. Webster can help clear you through a hump down the grammar road.
Let's not talk about grammar here though. "English is not our first language. But we do have a fair understanding of the language..... thanks to our exposure to it via the printed word, the movies, the media, and the Western world." So says a good friend. So there!
If you would ask me, I like the word empathy. Why? It seems to me to have a much deeper connection and conviction. It's like all that you are is contained in that word. When you empathize you bring with it your own experiences, your own deep sentiments, your real understanding into that particular situation which another person is going through.
You know what it is like; you've 'been there-done that'. So then you can understand better. As your own stack of wisdom and ability to connect expands and grows, is heightened, by another person's own set of dire experiences, you learn to respond with genuine care and concern. You see more, listen more, feel more, understand more, connect more, and act better. Or pray better.
Then it even grows bigger to embrace all of nature, all living creatures, the vast universe, all of humanity, and the world.
This quote (on empathy) sums it beautifully.....
"She did not talk to people as if they were strange hard shells she had to crack open to get inside. She talked as if she were already in the shell. In their very shell." ----- Marita Bonner, "Nothing New" (1926), Frye Street and Environs (1987)
You bring all of you, who-you-are and what-you-are, into the word empathy. So whenever you say "I understand." It's real because you truly do!
Enjoy your Sunday, folks! God put in there blessings just for you.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


While sorting through my old stuff meaning to throw away those no longer needed, I stumbled on a piece of paper which was apparently creased badly like somebody meant to throw it away but changed his mind. It was typewritten. Well, I brought it out to the table and began to read it.....
I am even more.

Life has been tough. A roller coaster ride through hills, mountains,
and valleys. I had been bombarded with cares and woes that I've lost
count on my fingers, toes included.
I've lost chances. Plenty of them which could have made my life
different. I've lost people too which could have lent my existence
some joy and fun.
I have faltered, stumbled, and fallen a dozen times. All different
from the other, not the same, but I soon discovered that everything
served the same goal of my learning.
I fumed, cried buckets, felt sorry over lost chances, and regretted
mistakes. Many things angered me, and many more succeeded to break my heart.
BUT..... I have realized that I can't fix everything even if I wanted to or no matter how I try. Strange but some things sorted themselves out. Divine intervention some would say. That then saved me a lot of 'huffin-and-puffin' just to bring the bad ones down. A good number I figured out myself, fortunately. Yet some do not disappear and simply stick out like a sore thorn on the side. You just have to learn to live with it. I learned that, too.
Bruised and scarred by my own battles, (life is indeed tough, amigo) and yet here I am. Still standing. Because I have learned that I am even more. So much more.
Somebody up there must be smiling. I guess HE meant it that way. And you know what... I'm glad that HE did. Thank you!
Heyy.. that's my story! :-) I think it's everybody's story, too. You are even more. If you do not know it yet..... let me say this again --- You are so much more!
God bless you

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


It's the little things which truly reveal greatness. Not always or necessarily in the grand or grander gestures that man throws at the world. Sometimes done simply for show by some. Rather it's that tiny kind thought or the tiniest glimmer of compassion behind the giving.... behind the smile.... behind the helping which points directly to an outstanding character or heart ..or the awesomeness of the soul.
It's what Mom would say 'the extra mile - the extra touch' which separates mediocrity from greatness. She would urge me to look for that mark of greatness in people. It's there, she says. Just pay attention. Sometimes though they don't know it themselves because it comes through quite naturally in them. Often too we don't notice it nor give it much attention -- we take for granted those things which we shouldn't. Our bad.
I guess what she means by 'the extra mile' are those things which a person does out of --- pure generosity... sympathy.. compassion.. understanding.. empathy... care... concern... solicitude.. sensitivity... charity... mercy... tolerance... humanity ---- and acting upon it a little bit more than ordinary.
Thinking more of the other than of one's self. That isn't always easy. We were raised to think and believe that nothing or no one else in the world matters but ..... I, me, mine, and my. What others do with their life is their business... ours is our own to tend.
We create walls.. fences.. gaps.. borders.. lines... to keep others out of our lives. Anyone who might cross it is a threat. Only when what they do or can offer serves our best interest would we be inclined to welcome them into our world and space or we in turn would enter their own.
It really is a solitary and disconnected life we're living, after all. All our fault.
Yet Mom would remind me that 'greatness' is still in everybody's nature as basically man is created good. By God's design. The thing is it gets buried deep down by the meanness and cares of the world. So then people forget to be kind.... to be human and humane.
But it's there. And it slips out sometimes, as called forth by some divine intent. Sometimes in bits and pieces. You will miss it if you don't watch for it or look harder. Pay attention. Greatness sometimes comes in small packages.
God bless you.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


This early morning I was sweeping the patio of last night's rain which flooded the tiled floor about an inch high. Not much, I know, so not much effort either in performing the task.
Almost done with the whole thing when came loud chatter floating into my direction from the street outside. Three middle-aged ladies were engaged in conversation in such high-pitched voices that easily anyone could hear what they were talking about. As they passed my front of the street I could catch snippets of their chat...... but I wouldn't put them down here as it would be very unfair to hear only one side of the story.
Gossip. Bashing. Or whatever other name it's called is never fair..... is unkind..... is opinionated (To my young readers, that means --- 'of fixed views').
No two persons are alike..... nor do they travel the same life road..... nor do they have the same life story. Each one is unique.... different.... an individual. Whatever he (or she) goes through in his own journey is tailored fit for him alone. His experiences, observations, perceptions, insights, opinions, challenges, or drama are all his. Love, laughter, tears, fear, embarrassment, confusion, disappointment, anger, bewilderment, doubt, joy, misery, sorrow, excitement, wonder, challenges...... the whole range of life and living are all lived in his own special individual character and nature. His own true form or template.
It would be unfair to gauge his life through our own set of eyes, mind, and heart. Like my mom used to say........ "I am not her; she is not me."   Let that person be who he was or is meant to be. He will have his own set of mistakes, blenders, and lessons to learn. He will do it in his own pace and time and reason. 

The thing is every person is growing as he should preset by Someone above. Sure, he is going to fumble and his mistakes may be quite irritating to us -- we may fuss over his mistakes, fume at his imperfections, curse his stupidity. Sometimes it ruins the day for us. But heyy, we fumble too and our own blunders may sometimes impact the people around us the wrong way. So let's try to be kinder to their imperfections as we also hope that others may be kinder to our own. It's the same road we're taking.

As someone once said.....  'We must not allow other people's limited perceptions to define us.'  Besides we have no idea what people are dealing with in their personal lives.
I guess what mom was trying to tell me was.....
Let's try to be more gentle with one another. Be kinder. Be understanding and compassionate. Be aware that we all are, separately or collectively, living our own lives and writing our own life stories.
That makes us all the same .... and that makes us all different, too. By God's design.
God bless you.

Friday, May 13, 2016


Everybody is talking about change.... wanting change. Yes, the general perception is that we need change in every area of our lives.............. government, politics, public and private endeavors in business - banking - finance and in every industry meant to promote the country. Systems need changing and the people who run or operate it need some attitude revamping. too..
Just an observation but I've been here long enough to see that we are a people of contrasts and contradictions. More often than not we don't really walk our talk. Or maybe that's a human frailty.
When we speak of change, we think that it's the other guy who needs to do that (an external process rather than an internal one outside the self) ----- the government officials... the inefficiencies of public and private services... the system of governance... the policies in place which we perceive are no long relevant to the changing times... the institutions perceived to be corrupt... the foreign ideologies allowed to encroach into our territory... those and perhaps even more contribute to the mess we find our country and ourselves in. We point our finger to these reasons or causes.
Honestly... that's only half of the story.
Do you know what the other half is all about? Try these.........
--- not crossing on assigned pedestrian lanes
--- not following traffic rules and regulations
--- 'tanim-bala' at the airport
--- throwing candy wrappers, receipts, cigarette butts, empty coke cans and water bottles on sidewalks and streets
--- sweeping dry leaves, twigs, plastic bags, trash into street gutters in our neighborhoods and communities
--- using dishonest weighing scales at the market place
--- overcharging goods and services
--- cruelty to animals i.e. abandoning them in their old age or when sick, hurt or wounded
--- not coming to the rescue or looking the other way when somebody is being victimized by thieves or robbers on the streets
--- vandalizing public and private property
--- unnecessarily cutting down of trees and polluting rivers, streams, seas with trash
--- kung may nangungutong na pulis.... meron ding nangsusuhol na civilian
--- and so much more. You know it; we all know it. It's the little sometimes unnoticed and oftentimes taken for granted things being done in daily lives on the ground, visible and invisible, which show the character of a person, community, city, nation or country.
Change can be pushed by a leadership but it will take its roots from the people. If they want it too..... hurray! If they don't...... then it's back to square one... again!
That's our story. I don't care if other countries have the same story, too; that's their problem. This is ours... our story, our problem.
Donald Miller says...... "Change the world around you by LIVING A BETTER STORY." --- That, I believe, is now our challenge. To create a better story for our individual lives and for our people and our country.
God bless you.... our people.... our country.... the world.
(Big thanks to the internet for these inspiring images.)