Friday, August 14, 2009


She was a frightened little puppy, barely a month old, a sorry little creature made up of nothing but skin and bones. For days, she cried pitiably for the family from whom she was separated far too soon.

I never paid this puppy any particular attention. Our houseboy brought her home so technically she was his puppy.

I quickly forgot all about her as soon as she quieted down. I am used to having dogs and cats of all ages around our home. Abby and I have a habit of picking up abandoned kittens and puppies that we’d pass along the streets. We do not have the heart to leave them to their inevitable fate … a slow, agonizing death by starvation or a quick, gruesome one brought on by the crushing wheels of uncaring drivers.

We have had our share of deaths over the years. Most of the kittens we picked up were far too gone to be saved. But we also have our successes. Just a few days ago, one cat I rescued as a kitten brought down her two adorable bundles of fur from our roof.

Like most of our cats, she has remained unnamed. I have long since given up naming each and every one of them. But they are all loved and cared for. My wish for them to have a home where they are safe and well fed has been fulfilled.

We also have our share of adopted cats and dogs like Kitty Girl, a pretty white cat that could no longer be kept but its previous owner, or Creepy who, despite his name, is the most lovable imp there is. He almost drove his former owners and their neighbors crazy with his nightly pleas to be allowed inside their home. Then there’s friendly Brownie, abandoned by our neighbors, and fearsome Takoy, an all-black mongrel whom my husband Nonoy rescued from a certain death. Takoy, along with gentle Cutie, another adoptee, added three more dogs to our zoo, as Nonoy would call our home.

And a virtual zoo, our home is! Our houseboy had also picked up our habit and started bringing back his own collection of animals starting with a black cat and ending with several fighting cocks along with hens that have since given us a periodic supply of eggs. Add to that the flock of bantam chicken that have so fascinated me and lo and behold! A home, zoo and farm all rolled into one! Our little piece of heaven.

And then there was that scrawny brown mongrel pup that kept to herself. I barely noticed her and only came to know so much later that our houseboy had named her Dayang. Abby got to know her first. They quickly built a friendship and often played their favorite game together - fetching stones.

Without my knowing it, this little askal slowly wormed her way into my heart with her sweet and gentle nature. What a joy she was! She was always the first to greet me when I’d arrive home. My fondest memory of Dayang is of her coming towards me with tail wagging shyly, eyes half-closed, ears pulled back with glee and a face that exuded nothing but pure goodwill.

Dayang left us today. She started ailing a few days ago. I was supposed to take her to the vet today. Instead, I found her lying flat on the ground, her entire body convulsing wildly. I have never seen a more horrible sight. And I have never felt more helpless. But what broke my heart was to see this tormented little dog managing a weak wag for me when I came to her. I cried when I saw what looked like tears welling up from her eyes as her whole body shook and convulsed. Do dogs cry? I stayed with her until the end, telling her that I loved her, and praying for God to end her agony.

I really loved that little dog. But I remember how I used to shoo her away as I gave food scraps to our 11-year old Nono and 10-year old Chacha, geriatrics in the canine world … often telling Dayang that the food were only for the lolo and lola. I used to tell her, when you’re old, you’re turn will come. But Dayang never grew old.

Dayang’s death today taught me a very valuable lesson about relationships. It’s something that I have always known with my mind but have never felt with my heart. It’s all about love and letting our loved ones know today that they are loved. We should never reserve that expression of our love for later. Today is what matters. For we never know what will happen tomorrow.

Saturday, August 08, 2009





Those who wish to sign the petition, please follow the link below:

* I am reproducing here a copy of the petition.

To: ABS CBN Management, MTRCB and PANA
To Whom It May Concern:

I am an avid viewer of ABS CBN and I am very well up-to-date regarding their shows. Without any doubt, I am a Kapamilya. However, last August 03, 2009, an incident happened when Wowowee Host Willie Revillame blurted out comments when a video of Pres. Cory's cortege appeared on the screen.

While a contestant was dancing for the talent portion, a snippet of Pres. Cory Aquino's cortege was shown on the screen. But Willie did not cut short the dancing portion. Instead, he let the contestant finish her routine. After that, he blurted out comments regarding the video of Pre. Cory's cortege. He said:

"Kung ganyan, pakita na lang natin 'yan. Kasi nagsasaya kami dito, tapos... Masakit sa akin 'yan, e. Nagsasalita ako dito... 'yan, please. Sana maintindihan n'yo. Nagsasaya kami dito, papakita n'yo sa amin yun ang... di ba? Hindi tama, e. Okey? Hindi ba?"

"Pangit! Hindi ho maganda sa atin. Nagsasalita, ipinapakita yung kabaong ni Tita Cory, hindi ba? Papano kami makapagsasaya, nahihirapan kami? I'm sorry ho, ha. Pero ako, totoo ako, e. 'Wag n'yo akong pagagalitan, kasi totoo ang gusto kong malaman...

"Pagkatapos ng show, ipakita n'yo ang gusto n'yong palabas. Kasi itong Wowowee, gusto ko... Hindi ba, at alam din ni Tita Cory 'yan dahil napasaya rin siya ng show na ito na laging masaya dito, ok?"

Some may argue that Willie's intention was good, but I rather find these statements rude and arrogant. Wowowee and Revillame is known by millions of Filipino viewers and the show is even watched across several countries through TFC. To react in such way is downright arrogant and disrespectful to the former President Corzaon Aquino. I know that it was a bad taste for ABS-CBN to show a snippet of the funeral on Wowowee, but it was worst for Revillame to react that way.

Willie have chosen to let the contestant dance instead of cutting short her act and give way to the coverage of the cortege. Willie have chosen to blurt out his rude comments ON-AIR instead of Off-cam. In short, Willie have chosen to have fun instead of giving way to the funeral of Pres. Corazon Aquino. So they'd rather have fun instead of pay our respects to our democracy icon? That was not a good example to our youth today.

Was it really hard for him to be humble and human? I believe that this is not the first time that he aired his views and rather arrogant comments On-air. He embarasses his staff, makes fun of the contestants, and arrogantly act on TV almost everyday. Pres. Aquino taught us humility, and Revillame is showing us the exact opposite: arrogance.

This time, Willie's statement should be condemed not only by the public, but by the management of ABS-CBN as well. It also creates a public outrage in the internet forums, chatting boards, and online-newspapers. Majority have negative reactions and have condemned Willie Revillame's brutal statements.

With this, I am calling the attention of the management of ABS-CBN to stop the “arrogant act†of Willie Revillame on National TV program and reprimand him because of his actions. Willie Revillame had been very disrespectful to the Pres. Cory Aquino's cortege, Filipinos icon of democracy. It was also worst for your company that your own employee criticize you on national television instead on off the air conversations.

I am calling the attention of the MTRCB to be more vigilant, so that this lowest form of personal attack by a tv showbiz talk show host, for her/his personal agenda, will not happen again

I am calling the PANA to stop supporting Wowowee until they axe or reprimand Willie Revillame due to his actions. With him as one of the hosts, your product does not project a positive image to the public.

The public and TFC subscribers deserve better programming, and we deserve better than the likes of Willie Revillame.

The Undersigned


I am going and you can’t stop me!” I was 18 years old then. I stood in front of my Dad defiantly and repeated that I was going to EDSA with or without him. With that, I marched out of the house, with only one 5-peso bill tucked between the pages of a pocketbook I was reading at that time, a bottle of tap water, a towel and my school ID, just in case …

My mind was in turmoil, trying to figure out how I could get to Ortigas Avenue from Quezon City. I was halfway out of the gate when Daddy ran out after me and told me to wait for him. His concern for his headstrong daughter overcame whatever trepidation he may have had about going to EDSA on that day.

With public transport practically non-existent, we walked from our home all the way to Muñoz Market and hitched a ride to Cubao. Again we walked to Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame.

And glad that he went, Daddy was! Those days in EDSA proved to be the most triumphant days we’ve ever had. We survived on shared food and slept on the ground. We joined fellow Filipinos as we chanted the name of Cory until our voices became hoarse. We scampered for cover whenever helicopter gunships would come into view or when word about nearby loyalist troops would reach us. But stayed we did. In our minds at that time, if worse came to worst, we would stand our ground.

We were in EDSA when the first of those gunships landed in Camp Crame. Oh! The jubilation as we witnessed one land after another and we realized that they have come to “our” side. We shouted with joy and Daddy danced in the street! We laughed and hugged each other and together, we all prayed. Laban signs flashed all over.

We were in EDSA when news of the Marcoses’ flight reached the people. We were in EDSA when Corazon C. Aquino was sworn in as President of the Philippines.

Those were the heady days of EDSA, when after years of darkness, we finally saw the sun again.I have never been more proud of being a Filipino than in those days when we amazed the world … timid Filipinos finally rising up to topple a dictatorship in a way never before seen in history. I have never loved our country as much as I loved the Philippines then. All that love, that hope and optimism, all that pride of our accomplishment as a people, I directed them all to President Cory. How I loved and respected her. I hanged on to her every word, scanned the papers for the latest news about her, and had my heart almost bursting with pride each time she went abroad .. that little, bespectacled housewife in yellow, receiving the world’s accolade, standing shoulder to shoulder with its greatest leaders.

But reality soon caught up with us Filipinos. The President started getting criticized by people who expected too much, too soon. But I stayed by her side, my faith unwavering. I believed in her and knew that what the people had expected from her was too much for anybody to ever achieve. Twenty years of looting could not be undone in one or two years.

In the years that followed however, as President Cory faded from the national center stage, I became guilty of forgetting her. I became cynical again, weary of politics and blasphemous of anything nationalistic. To me, she eventually became simply the ever-supportive mother of Kris Aquino. I’d see her in the news occasionally, espousing one cause or another, and the most thought I’d spare her had been, “she’s too old to be doing that” or “she is better off staying home”.

News of her illness barely moved me as well. My reaction had been more of personal concern over the indiscriminate reach of cancer.

Then one day, as I was driving towards my daughter’s school, I caught a glimpse of a newspaper headline. It blared: “Cory fighting for her life!” I choked as if my entire heart just went up my throat and tears started falling. I could barely see the road. My beloved President Cory was dying! Everything that I ever felt for her came rushing back. I was beside myself with grief.

And now she is gone, that lone ray of hope that guided us Filipinos out of the darkness. She is gone, that shining example of how every Filipino, every person, every woman, every mother, and every leader should be. Bundled all together in her small frame was the purest form of integrity and humility, selfless service, strength of conviction, and indestructible faith in God. Now that she is gone, who else will show us how we should be?

And how do we say “Thank You” to President Cory for the person that she was? How do we say “Thank You” for giving herself so selflessly to us? How do we say “Thank You” for that hope that she inspired, for that fierce pride that she made us feel, for that intense love of country that she gave us?

How do we say thank you to a beloved? How do we say goodbye?

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Republic of the Philippines
1933 - 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009


What I have in mind now might cost me some acquaintances and a lot of goodwill among some readers. I actually spent time debating with myself whether to take up this topic or not. But those who know me well enough are aware that I couldn’t let go once something starts eating at me. I just have to take that off my chest or I’ll explode!

I hope that we have broadminded readers who will understand that I am not deliberately targeting anybody. I may appear critical of some parents and I may be met by a lot of opposing ideas after this. But that’s a risk that I’m prepared to take. Bato-bato sa langit na lang …

It’s really very simple, nothing big and earth shattering. It’s about the flu and the issue of whether or not we should send our kids to school when they start exhibiting symptoms of the illness.

At first look, the answer seems pretty simple: child with fever = home.

But you would be surprised to know that there were actually some parents who still sent their kids to school despite elevated temperatures! I have seen this happen first hand. I have also heard of stories, uncorroborated of course, of parents who pressed ice cubes into their children’s foreheads so they could pass the temperature check at the school entrance. Others were said to have given their children paracetamol prior to going to make sure that their temperature would be down by the time they got to school.

I personally know of others who had to struggle with the idea of a slightly sick child having to stay home, thereby missing seatworks, quizzes and exams.

From what I have gathered, all these boil down to one concern: inconvenience. It is inconvenient for some to go after teachers to arrange for make-up quizzes and exams for the absent child. It is too much effort for some to borrow notebooks so their kids could copy the notes that they missed while they were sick.

I am perplexed. These stories, if true, are entirely against what I believe to be every mother’s primordial instinct when her child becomes sick! And that is to keep the child at home, well rested and fed and properly medicated to boot!

I had hoped that these stories were nothing but mere fabrications dreamed up by tongues that had nothing better to do. But the sad fact is that there are actually parents out there who do not consider a slight illness or an elevated temperature as enough justification for a missed day in school. They had to wait for 40-degree fevers perhaps?

And why is that? It seems that there is concern that their kids’ absence will affect their academic performance. I am thinking right now of what my daughter’s school principal, Sister Marissa Palomar, repeatedly says to the parents: let you children be children. Let them enjoy being such. Do not concern yourself too much over their academic performance. Their grades in elementary and high school will not show when they will apply for jobs in the future.

I completely agree. And if I may add … when they are sick, let them stay home even if they insist on going! Who are the parents anyway? I say, forget the missed quizzes and whatnot! Your children will not fail with two or even more missed seatworks.

And in addition to that, I enjoin parents to think of the other children who will be interacting with your sick ones. Spare them from contracting the same illness.

And this brings us to the crux of the matter … I can’t help but think that if the parents of sick children had only exercised the right discretion, maybe, just maybe, the reach of the flu would not have been as widespread as it is now. After all, if the sick ones had stayed home, who would infect the healthy children in school?

Friday, July 24, 2009


This probably is one of the most popular clamors around Dumaguete nowadays, next only to the people’s collective shout of “ENOUGH!!!” as they struggle through the ongoing road construction projects that got our streets shrouded under a perpetual cloud of dust.

I can think of a few choiced words and phrases to express the sentiment of most, but I would rather keep them to myself. Instead, I’ll content myself with “FASTER!!!” and “NEXT TIME, COULD YOU DO THESE PROJECTS GRADUALLY?? MEANING NOT ALL ROADS AND HIGHWAYS AT THE SAME TIME??? or DID YOU HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL IT’S ALMOST ELECTION TIME???”

But here I go again, getting carried away, as in literally getting away from my intended topic. “More” is about the popular clamor for a repeat of the Cebu Exporters’ Furniture Sale that was held in Hypermart recently. For those who did not know about this, woe to you. You just missed what I would personally refer to as the buy of the lifetime.

This furniture sale came to us through the Department of Trade and Industry whose efforts facilitated the coming over of Cebu-based furniture exporters. Mind you, the furniture that were put on sale were not merely export-quality … these were the real deal, furniture made for an intended foreign market, but which were not shipped out to serve as showpieces for the manufacturers. This accounts for the fact that, for most of the furniture that were brought over, only one unit per design was put on sale.

The cream of Dumaguete’s society came in droves, the landed gentry, the professional circles and of course, the people who make up our City’s business community.

I would say that this sale came as a pleasant surprise to us who went over to Hypermart. Not only was the actual event unprecedented, but the furniture that greeted us as we entered the exhibit area left as gasping and incredulous! These were the kind of furniture that we see only in glossy foreign magazines!!! These were not the ran-of-the-mill China-made types that are practically the only ones that are available around here!!!

But what really got Dumaguete dizzy with delight (with the exception, of course, of the local manufacturers and furniture dealers) and got yours truly drooling with desire and at the same time sighing with regret … were the prices! OMG! The prices were to die for, believe me!

I am not saying that the furniture were cheap, but they came to us at almost 50% off … and that my friends, was what got Dumaguete’s elite scrambling over each other in their haste to snatch up the most beautiful pieces.

Even at 50% off, most of the pieces were still too steep for us unfortunate souls, but to the monied ones, they were too good to pass up. By the end of day one, I would say that almost 80% of the pieces that were brought over from Cebu have been marked “sold”.

This actually came as a relief to me. Imagine how it made me feel, wanting to own a beautiful and oh-so-comfortable sofa so much that I could cry, but helpless to do something about it because I could not afford it? Multiply that agony a dozen times over … and that my friends, was my emotional picture down there at Hypermart.

A piece of L-shaped sofa, originally priced at more than sixty thousand pesos, was offered for only thirty-five thousand and after much haggling, sold off at twenty-eight! That was actually cheap considering the quality, but really “cheap” only for those who could afford.

That was why the sight of that hated word “SOLD” actually came as a relief to poor me. At least, I could stop thinking of what I could pawn off to raise the amount I would need to buy off everything there, ha ha ha! With the exception, of course, of that headless naked figure of a reclining male! I would gladly have somebody else walk away with it!

Incidentally, I had the hardest time with my brat when it came to that figure. She saw it first! Poor doberdog mama was too late! Abby had already seen it. And the reaction? … “ewwww! Who would want to buy something like that?!?!” It was too anatomically accurate for words. I could only order, with all the authority that I could muster … “stop looking at it!!!” But that was like closing the gate after the flock had ran off …

Looking back though, now that I could view that incident with some sort of objectivity … me, Abby and that figure were kind of funny in the sort of praning-mom way. Preventing my daughter from wising up to the world is like trying to stop the tides from turning. I can but sigh!

And I veered from the main topic again! Well, that’s me! Your impoverished housewife, recently tormented by that figure and all the cheap furniture and accessories that were not really “cheap”!!!

So I’m now joining the clamor for “MORE” of that sale. More!, More!, More! … as if, granting that there would be a next time … I won’t be left tormented again. But who knows? I could start betting in the lotto … who knows?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Love You Dumaguete!

My love affair with Dumaguete started the moment I set foot on its shores. I love her, love her, love her!

But this love affair is nothing to the fire and passion between this City and Prof. David Padilla, a professor in the College of Law of Silliman University.

Let me share with you what he had written about our beloved ...

"I suppose it’s a bit odd to be sitting and proctoring a three-hour final examination on the law of corporations in a classroom in Kigali, Rwanda while musing about Dumagete on Negros Oriental in the Philippines. But my life has sort of gone that way since retiring as a lawyer and becoming an itinerant college professor.

But Dumaguete is special. Not to take anything away from Kigali or Pretoria or Miami, where I also teach each year. Dumaguete, a city of maybe 100,000 people, an hour’s flight south of Manila, is the home of Silliman University where I first taught two years ago on a Fulbright. Now I go back each year as long as they’ll have me.

The place is a noisy, joyful, unvarnished tropical paradise, a mix of Asia and pop western culture where Catholics and Buddhists meet and marry, do business and play.

These jottings are not only a reflection of the pleasant nostalgia I feel for Dumaguete and Silliman University, but also the fulfillment of an overdue promise to my friend Ipe Remollo, the ex-Mayor, who one evening at his home while listening to the visiting Manila Symphony Orchestra, said to me in so many words – “If you’re so crazy about our town why don’t you write about it?” I said “OK”. And here it is, more than a year later.

Dumaguete, home to four universities, sits on the Sea of Tanon on the Pacific Ocean. It’s located in Negros, one of more than hundreds of islands in a cluster called the Visayas. The town is a port and its Boulevard runs the curve of the sea.

The streets are a controlled chaos of motorbike-propelled tricycles and thousands of mostly university students mounted on motor scooters weaving in and out of traffic. Despite the law, virtually no one wears a helmet. A two-kilometer ride in a colorful tricycle carriage will set you back 12 cents. There are no traffic lights and only one stop sign, a home made job a resident placed in front of his home.

Yet everything moves, the streets are teeming and, amazingly, there are very few mishaps. Nothing is more delightful than to sit at an open air cafe on the Boulevard to watch single-man bancas and large white pump boats with graceful outriggers bob on the water. From there one's eyes drift to the vehicular madness of the roadway, endless, joyous, confused but functional.

Dumaguetenos are so polite. I’ve yet to see an accident, and have never witnessed an argument. And while I’ve never seen a youth carded at a bar, I’ve also never seen drunken students causing a ruckus.

I’ve never heard bad language, at least in English which is widely spoken and along with Tagalog is one of the country’s official languages. I should hasten to add that in these parts people speak a Visaya dialect they refer to as Cebuano – named for Negros’closest sister island – Cebu.

Of course there is the natural beauty of the place. The palms, the flowering trees, the lianas and bougainvillea which soften and give charm to the architectural hodgepodge of new and old, modern and Spanish colonial buildings and homes. And the mountains and nearby waterfalls and the thermal energy taken from the earth which powers the island’s electrical system.

And if you stand in the sun at midday you will perspire. But step into the shade and the sea breeze will put things right.

But let me return to the people and the food and the music, and inevitably, the cost of living.

Men are called “Sir,” and ladies, “Maam.” Students rise to recite in class, and smile naturally. Please and thank you, good morning and “bless you” are the universal civilities, not just on campus, but on the street and in the shops of Dumaguete. A child on meeting an adult takes the back of the elder's hand and presses it to his forehead and bows out of respect. Across

the parking lot at the municipal airport there is a sign on a somewhat dilapidated eatery

that says, “Welcome to Dumaguete – Home of the Gentle People.” And it is true.

There may be corruption in Manila, but I’ve never encountered it in Dumaguete. And

while friends, and I’ve made some good ones, descry crime in Dumaguete, for a boy who

spent the first half of his life in Detroit, and the second in Washington, D.C. with stints in

Philadelphia and Boston, crime there is laughable. Once a month you’ll read about a

purse snatching near the market.

Do you like seafood? Blue marlin, sea bass, and varieties too numerous and

unpronounceable to mention abound at local restaurants. Oysters and swordfish. And

rice, of course, at every meal. I draw the line at breakfast rice. But you rarely see an

obese filipino. A friend recently told me about a new Italian restaurant in town but he cautioned, "it's kind of pricey." The most expensive item on the menu is $7.00.

Street life in the barrios is lively. Kids play basketball especially at night on

jerry rigged courts. The churches are full on Sundays and feast days.Ex pats from Australia, Scandinavia and a few Americans have begun to discover Negros. A considerable number have married attractive Philippine women and settled down. And why not? Cyber cafes, bookstores, four-dollar Thai massages, beach front

property - a buildable lot twenty minutes out of town is available through a legal loophole for a dirt-cheap price

Did you know that the Philippines is the cell phone and text messaging capital of the world? Did you know that Filipinos are extremely musical? Videoke and karaoke were supposedly invented there and are featured in many bars and restaurants that line the Boulevard in Dumaguete. Those without the machines often feature live singers and musicians who may only have a rudimentary command of English but close your eyes and you will think you're listening to a live performance by top international stars. As a matter of fact, Filipino entertainers are in demand throughout the middle and far east.

And a sense of humor? A couple of years ago some fifteen thousand people in Manila set a new Guiness book record for the most people brushing their teeth at the same time.

And nicknames given with affection among my friends include Raffy, Boy a/k/a Dad, Bong and Bimbo.

How about this? The yo yo was invented in the Philippines more than five hundred years

ago. On flights to and from Manila on Cebu Pacific Airlinesmostly adult passengers play "Show Me," for small prizes.The flight attendant says "Show me a rosary" and the first passenger to hold one up wins a baseball cap or a key chain.

Sports nuts? Besides basketball, cockfights, pool and boxing are big. Manny the 'Pacman" Paquiao is the current lightweight champion of the world and his following is huge and fanatical.And I have friends, including some ladies, who can relate the last three minutes of the final game of the NCAA tournament in 1997.And I almost forgot to mention world class scuba diving on Apu Island as well as spectacular reefs just off shoreAnd while not a player, I should mention that Dumaguete has a number of golf courses. Finally, let me mention that the Philippine wushu team took the gold in this exhibition martial arts sport at the recent Beijing Olympics.

Problems? By all means. Mostly economic. But life in Dumaguete is pretty laid back. Cheering contests among

students, municipal festivals, parades, student carnivals, and at the school where I teach, the pageantry and anxiety of Silliman graduates sitting for the bar exam along with thousands of others gives the place a special tone and spirit.

I have also found a serious side in Dumaguete, a pride and competitiveness in its best students known as "top

knotchers."The campus fences are draped in long streamers proudly listing graduates who have passed licencing exams or achieved special honors in law, medicine, nursing, business and other fields. Young people who earn distinction or go abroad on post graduate fellowships, and there are a considerable number of them, are particularly lionized.

In the final analysis what makes for a coherent community that welcomes the outsider is kindness in the form of hospitality and pride in its achievements. These I found in Dumaguete.


It is now eight month later and I am back in Dumaguete once again teaching at Silliman University. Yesterday on my way to swim my small moptorbike came to a sudden and noisy halt. I thought I had blown the engine. A little old man happened by. He pointed out that my chain had come off and promptly put it back on. I gave him a little money and he was happy. A mile later the same thing happened. This time a tricycle driver stopped and got out his tools, shortened the chain, reinstalled it and oiled the whole thing as I stood by uselessly. I offered to compensate him. He smiled, refused politely and drove off."

His article came out in Metropost, July 19, 2009.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Have you ever left something behind and never looked back? You move on convinced there was nothing to look back to. You live your life … past memories consigned to the farthermost parts of your mind … life is good now … it’s all that matters.

Then one day your past waves a hand at you. You stop in mid-stride … it looks familiar and it is beautiful! Your memories, long suppressed and denied, come back to you in trickles … then the tears come … the very ones you didn’t shed before, back at that time when you have convinced yourself that there was no reason to.

You catch a drop in your finger and you ask yourself what this is for? But you already know … deep inside you know what your tears are for … you are crying for that that is lost and you are crying for those that are missed.

My tears were for the childhood that I lost, for the young life that I missed out. I cried for my lost family, my lost home, my lost friends … and for the joys of childhood that I never again experienced.

This is what happens to children when parents decide that they have had enough. They become collateral damage, bemused onlookers to an event too incomprehensible for their young minds to grasp and beyond their power to stop. That’s when childhood ends. A child went to bed. A weary old man woke up.

But I survived. Oh yes! I survived and I did well. I didn’t travel that road where so many like myself have gotten lost in. People commended for me my strength, praised me for not letting my sorry past affect my present. “Of course!” answered confident me. “I couldn’t be affected by something that isn’t of my own doing!”

But did I really manage to escape unscathed? Could it be possible that the shards left by my broken family missed wounding me in any way?

I realize now that it couldn’t be possible. A blow like that couldn’t miss leaving a wound. I didn’t even know that the wound was there. The discovery of a scab was met by amazement. Like a child mesmerized by the newness of its discovery, I couldn’t stop looking and just like any child, I couldn’t stop peeling off a bit, just to see what wonders it might hide.

But I didn’t discover wonderful things. Instead I found a wound as raw and as fresh as the day when it was inflicted. Then the pain hit me. And I cried as I should have cried 28 years ago.

No. We can’t ever escape unscathed. We will always carry that baggage with us wherever we’d go. Some may be painfully aware of its burden, others carry on like I did, blissfully unaware of that extra weight.

Opening that wound left me wondering … has it belatedly crippled me? I hope not. Rather, I would like to believe that the pain that I have denied for so long is going to make me a better wife and mother. Pain at its most raw for the first time in 28 years strengthened my resolve to spare my own child from the same fate. I could do it. It’s within my own power this time. With God’s help I’ll spare her.

Life is good now. Happy with my present and surrounded by the warmth of my family’s love, I should stop looking back to that life of long ago. But there are times when I couldn’t help myself … I had to go back and remember that beautiful childhood that I so suddenly lost. My heart would then feel heavy with regret … and the tears would begin flowing again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Abby and Myles: One's my baby .. the other's my dream baby ...

I Say -- this is taking "putting one's affairs in order" to a whole new level!!!

Man, I'll tell ya, women can be cold until the end!

The doctor, after an examination, sighed and said, 'I've got some bad news. You have cancer, and you'd best put your affairs in order.'

The woman was shocked, but managed to compose herself and walk into the waiting room where her daughter had been waiting.

'Well, daughter, we women celebrate when things are good, and we celebrate when th ings don't go so well. In this case, things aren't well. I have cancer. So, let's head to the club and have a martini.'

After 3 or 4 martinis, the two were feeling a little less somber. There were some laughs and more martinis. They were eventually approached by some of the woman's old friends, who were curious as to what the two were celebrating.

The woman told her friends they were drinking to her impending end, 'I've been diagnosed with AIDS.'

The friend s were aghast, gave the woman their condolences and beat a hasty retreat.

After the friends left, the woman's daughter leaned over and whispered, 'Momma, I thought you said you were dying of cancer, and you just told your friends you were dying of AIDS! Why did you do that??'

'Because I don't want any of them sleeping with your father after I'm gone.'

And THAT, my friends, is what is called, 'Putting Your Affairs In Order.'

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Love and tenderness ...
Frail man ...
The image of God's love in my mind.

Monday, July 13, 2009

There was a time when I belonged ...

Immaculate Conception College
High School Batch 1984
Ozamis City

I've been away from Ozamis for so long. I have lost touch with friends whom I've had since since grade 1. Joining our batch's social network (at sort of made me return to what I refer now as my Ozamis life.

Looking at the pictures of old friends ... I felt lost. I could not remember anybody. Had I not known that it was Michelle Buot in the picture, for instance, I would never have recognized that lady in the picture as the very first bestfriend I have ever had. I had difficulty remembering Rose, Carla and Christine. Jun Garcia I remembered but I felt awkward about it. Then it dawned to me. I used to call him Flor. There were others whose name I immediately recognized ... Noel Pombuena for their bakery in Annex, Julius Guangco because his sister was my jazz teacher ...

I kept going back to our site to jog my memory. Then they started to trickle in ... memories of Carla and Rose and Chris came back ... I recognized Julita's name ... I knew Ann Jalalon! Adonis just clicked into memory last night! I wouldn't recognize Roehl if I bumped into him today but I associate his name with fun and laughter and a little of "mischief"?

Thanks to Suzette (whom I'll always associate with her Sanrio collection back in our elementary days!) for posting our old pictures. I shed tears looking at them. I cried for the good memories and for the lost childhood, I guess. I cried even harder when looking at later pictures, when I was no longer there. I cried for the childhood friends I've lost, for the good times that I missed. Looking at your pictures in a beach outing, I kept thinking ... I should have been in those pictures too .. they were all there except me!

But where are the rest of our friends? Remedios, Lulu Bernad, Emilyn Ybañez, John Paul Manalastas, Celeste Lim, Rhea Abella ... how about classmates from our elementary days like Randolph Villamor, Robert Dimagiba, D'Marie Singson ... ?

The names and faces are coming back so much easier now, but they don't necessarily match. I see faces but can't remember names or remember names but couldn't match those with faces. I must have bumped my head some time after I left ICC but had also forgotten about it ... to account for my memory loss ...

Thanks to Noel for creating this site for us. Thanks to Michelle for leading me there. Thank you old friends, for warmly welcoming me back!

1st Year, with Michelle Buot and Suzette Salvosa

1980. Grade Six Graduation.
Held in secrecy. Not even our parents were allowed to attend due to the bombing of 2 moviehouses in Ozamis which happened before our scheduled graduation day.
Pretty much like what is happening in Mindanao nowadays!

1st year High School

Childhood friends. 1st Year Sampaguita.

Grade Six Class Picture. Miss Briones.

After my 2nd year in High School, I was uprooted, or more aptly put, violently yanked away from my home and friends. That's what happens to children when parents decide they've had enough.

That's when I became lost, living in the fringes, never again to belong ...

Until now ...

I'm in a new life now. A better, happier life ... warm in the love of my husband and child ... secure in the affection of my new friends ...

But sometimes, I look back to my lost childhood, and I shed tears of regret.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I never loved our country as fiercely as I did, when as a young girl, I went out into the streets to fight for our freedom with you as our leader President Cory. I have not felt that love for country nor that pride of being a Filipino since then. You can't leave us yet. We still need you. We need you to be our moral leader. Help us find that love again. Help us regain that fierce pride. Help us see that there is still some decency left among the people who lead us today. I see nothing but gloom in our future. Please be our light once again. Don't leave us President Cory. Your people need you.

We can leave messages for President Cory Aquino in this Facebook account:

Happiness is ... FAMILY

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Nonoy, my other half, in his spare time touring the decommissioned carrier,
USS Lexington in Corpus Christi (Texas?)

Monday, July 06, 2009


Abby as Princess Jasmine in a school play

My beautiful flower girl

Abby's First Holy Communion

My Birthday Girl!

My little twirler. She's so exhausted she could barely
manage a smile for Mama!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

T-Bone Steak

Borrowed this from my inbox again. It's a very poignant story and carries a very special message ... let us cherish every moment we have with our loved ones.

I walked into the grocery store not particularly interested in buying groceries. I wasn't hungry.. The pain of losing my husband of 57 years was still too raw. And this grocery store held so many sweet memories..

He often came with me and almost every time he'd pretend to go off and look for something special. I knew what he was up to. I'd always spot him walking down the aisle with the three yellow roses in his hands.

He knew I loved yellow roses. With a heart filled with grief, I only wanted to buy my few items and leave, but even grocery shopping was different since he had passed on.

Shopping for one took time, a little more thought than it had for two.

Standing by the meat, I searched for the perfect small steak and remembered how he had loved his steak.

Suddenly a woman came beside me. She was blonde, slim and lovely in a soft green pantsuit. I watched as she picked up a large package of T-bones, dropped them in her basket.. hesitated, and then put them back. She turned to go and once again reached for the pack of steaks.

She saw me watching her and she smiled. 'My husband loves T-bones, but honestly, at these prices, I don't know.'

I swallowed the emotion down my throat and met her pale blue eyes.

'My husband passed away eight days ago,' I told her. Glancing at the package in her hands, I fought to control the tremble in my voice. 'Buy him the steaks. And cherish every moment you have together.'

She shook her head and I saw the emotion in her eyes as she placed the package in her basket and wheeled away.

I turned and pushed my cart across the length of the store to the dairy products. There I stood, trying to decide which size milk I should buy. A Quart, I finally decided and moved on to the ice cream. If nothing else, I could always fix myself an ice cream cone.

I placed the ice cream in my cart and looked down the aisle toward the front. I saw first the green suit, then recognized the pretty lady coming towards me. In her arms she carried a package.. On her face was the brightest smile! I had ever seen.. I would swear a soft halo encircled her blonde hair as she kept walking toward me, her eyes holding mine.

As she came closer, I saw what she held and tears began misting in my eyes. 'These are for you,' she said and placed three beautiful long stemmed yellow roses in my arms. 'When you go through the line, they will know these are paid for.' She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on my cheek, then smiled again. I wanted to tell her what she'd done, what the roses meant, but still unable to speak, I watched as she walked away as tears clouded my vision.

I looked down at the beautiful roses nestled in the green tissue wrapping and found it almost unreal.. How did she know? Suddenly the answer seemed so clear. I wasn't alone.

Oh, you haven't forgotten me, have you? I whispered, with tears in my eyes. He was still with me, and she was his angel.

Friday, July 03, 2009


This was the contention of a British man I had an encounter with lately: that “shit” for him is kind of bad-bad … but not really baaaad? I answered him that the use of profanities may not be “bad” for him but for Filipinos like myself it’s a big no-no especially with our children!

This exchange transpired when this foreigner, who is also a parent in my daughter’s school, brusquely said to Abby and her classmate, “You're talking about shit! Get out of my way!” I went cold with rage when Abby reported this incident to me. For a foreigner to act in this haughty manner to two little girls right inside their school campus is absolutely and totally unacceptable!

I could not take this kind of behavior sitting down. It’s bad enough that some foreigners treat Filipinos with disdain, but for this man to actually act in such arrogant and high-handed manner to children right in their own turf (not to mention FILIPINO children right in their own country, THE PHILIPPINES!!!), and to my own child at that, almost got me choking with fury!

I marched up to him and told him in no uncertain terms that we do not tolerate that kind of language or behavior towards our children. He reasoned that saying “shit” is normal to him, that it didn’t really mean anything. To that I countered that he is in the Philippines and that being such, he should respect the fact that we have different sets of values and sensibilities that he should abide to.

He may be used to dealing with certain kinds of Filipinos, but these Filipinos are different! I wanted to pound into his head that these Filipinos do not use profane language in our homes nor do we allow our children to speak, or be spoken to, in that way. These Filipinos expect their children to be treated with the respect that is due to them.

Our children are not mere clutter lying around for this man to kick out of his way!

Civil people in this country say “excuse me” to people blocking their way. We do not say “get out of my way!”

I say this to all our foreign guests out there: I know that some of you see your Filipina wives and their families as leeches sucking up whatever money they could get out of you. I am honest enough to admit that this could be true in some cases. This is very unfortunate but there is nothing that I could do about it!

But do not ever think, even for one moment, that all Filipinos are the same, and ergo, are to be treated in the same way. In the other side of the fence are Filipinos who keep their distance from you, Filipinos who do not come to you with palms up and arms outstretched.

As guests, you conform to our ways and not the other way around!

We treat you with respect and we expect to be respected in return.

But most of all, we expect you to respect our children!

Foundation for Battered Women Launched

A Foundation for battered women was launched last June 27, 2009. The first of its kind in Dumaguete, this advocacy focuses on empowering women victims by providing them with a means of gaining financial independence from husbands or partners who have been abusing them.

Fully named ZET Anti-Violence for Women Advocacy Foundation Through Livelihood, this movement is the brainchild of Analyn Zuñiga, a native of Dumaguete and herself a victim of domestic abuse. “I’m beyond personal ambitions now”, said Ms. Zuñiga in an interview with Metropost. “I want Dumaguete to know that there are thousands of battered women in this City and I want these women to know that I am here for them. I have gone though what they are going through. I understand. I want to use my experience as a catalyst for improving their lives. That is my goal in life now.”

Ms. Zuñiga disclosed that being financially independent made it easier for her to leave her partner. But she realized that for most battered women, leaving their abusive husbands is not option because of their inability of support their children when they do so.

The ZET Foundation is currently giving free training on therapeutic massage and other spa services to six women with histories of domestic abuse. Ms. Zuñiga hopes that after they have completed their training, she would be able to help them get employment abroad through her foreign business partners.

The Foundation also aims to create public awareness about the prevalence of physical abuse in the homes, not only against women, but also against their children. Ms. Zuñiga plans to talk to the women in the barangays to let them know that there is a law that protects them (RA 9262 – Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004) and that they have the ZET Foundation to go to.

Those who are interested may see SPO3 Josefa Lacandula at the PNP Women’s Desk.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


In my last article I wrote about the deplorable condition of the highway fronting the Catherina Cittadini/Don Bosco compound. I ranted and raved over the horrendous traffic clog up caused by the unfinished roads. Needless to say, this situation continues to cause immeasurable misery not only to the parents and students, but also to the countless motorists traveling to and from Dumaguete proper.

This past week, as I continued to literally inch my way towards my daughter’s school, I often thought of this road as either the road to sainthood or damnation. Truly, we don't “drive” through this disaster we call development, we struggle through it. Believe me, the things we have to put up with will test even the patience of a saint!

Being able to keep my cool day after day has become a daily test of patience for me. I count my day a success if I could suppress every urge I’d get to give each and every abusive and undisciplined driver I’d encounter the spanking they so rightly deserved!

Lately though, my concern has shifted from traffic to the perpetual cloud of dust that covers the area. I am often horrified to see children being driven through this cloud without even the most basic covering for their noses! Those children were freely inhaling all that dust and getting all kinds of particles deep into their respiratory system!

I am particularly concerned over this because I suffer from dust allergy. Let me inhale dust for two days or so and you’ll soon find me with a clogged nose and totally knocked down by severe headache.

Before starting to write this, I went online to educate myself about the ill effects of dust inhalation. Let me share what I have learned. But before that, let’s keep in mind that I’m not a doctor, so please pardon any slip-up.

What are dusts? Dusts are tiny solid particles scattered or suspended in the air. The particles are "inorganic" or "organic," depending on the source of the dust. Inorganic dusts can come from grinding metals or minerals such as rock or soil. Organic dusts originate from plants or animals.

Our lungs are constantly exposed to danger from the dusts that we breathe in. Luckily, the lungs have defense mechanisms that protect them by removing dust particles from the respiratory system. On the other hand, even though the lungs can clear themselves, excessive inhalation of dust may still result in disease.

What happens when we breathe in dust? The lungs are protected by a series of defense mechanisms in different regions of the respiratory tract. When a person breathes in, particles suspended in the air enter the nose, but not all of them reach the lungs. The nose is an efficient filter. Most large particles are stopped in it, until they are removed mechanically by blowing the nose or sneezing.

Some of the smaller particles succeed in passing through the nose to reach the windpipe and the air tubes that lead to the lungs. The airways are lined by cells that produce mucus and these catch most of the dust particles. Tiny hairs called cilia move the mucus upward and out into the throat, where it is either coughed up and spat out, or swallowed.

The air that reaches the tiny air sacs in the inner part of the lungs may carry dust particles that have avoided the defenses in the nose and airways. Special cells called macrophages will attack this dust. Macrophages virtually swallow the particles. Then in a way that is not well understood, they reach the part of the airways that is covered by cilia where the wavelike motions move the macrophages that contain dust to the throat, where they are spat out or swallowed.

What are the reactions of the lungs to dust? The way the respiratory system responds to inhaled particles depends, to a great extent, on where the particle settles. For example, irritant dust that settles in the nose may lead to rhinitis, an inflammation of the mucous membrane. If the particle attacks the larger air passages, inflammation of the trachea (tracheitis) or the bronchi (bronchitis) may be seen.

The most significant reactions of the lung occur in the deepest parts of this organ. Particles that evade elimination in the nose or throat tend to settle in the sacs or close to the end of the airways. But if the amount of dust is large, the macrophage system may fail. Dust particles and dust-containing macrophages collect in the lung tissues, causing injury to the lungs.

From what I have learned so far, I think that every parent’s more immediate concern for children who are continually exposed to dust is the development of allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, or asthma.

We have already learned that rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose. This is caused by allergy-causing irritants such as dust. Symptoms include: sneezing; itchy nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes or ears; runny nose; congestion; and watery eyes.

Sinusitis is a painful, long-lasting inflammation of the sinuses. Sinuses are the hollow cavities around the cheekbones found around the eyes and behind the nose. Symptoms of sinusitis include: congestion; green or gray nasal discharge; postnasal drip; pressure in the face; headache; fever; a cough that won't go away.

Sinusitis may last for months or years if it is not properly treated. Colds are the most common cause of acute sinusitis, but people with allergies are much more likely to develop sinusitis than people who do not have allergies.

Is It a Colds or Allergies? Colds, which result from viral infection, are more likely to occur at any time (though they're more common during the rainy season). On the other hand, if during summer season your child is sneezing and wheezing, he may suffer from allergies.

Although colds and allergies produce similar symptoms, colds usually last only a week or so. And although both may cause your child’s nose and eyes to itch, colds and other viral infections may also give him a fever, aches and pains, and colored mucus. Allergies wont cause these. Cold symptoms often worsen as the days go on and then gradually improve. Allergies, on the other hand, begin immediately after exposure to the offending allergen and last as long as that exposure continues. If you're not sure whether your symptoms are being caused by allergies or a cold, talk with your doctor.

How about asthma? Asthma symptoms can be brought on by dozens of different things, and what causes asthma flare-ups in one person might not bother another at all. The things that set off asthma symptoms are called triggers. The following is one of the more common triggers: allergens. An allergen is any substance that causes an allergic reaction in some people. Some people with asthma find that allergens can be a major trigger. Common allergens are dust mites (microscopic bugs that live in dust), molds, pollen, animal dander, and cockroaches.

Another common trigger are airborne irritants and pollutants. Certain substances in the air, such as chalk dust or smoke, can trigger asthma because they irritate the airways.

I hope that parents reading this will see the point that I am trying to drive at. While excessive inhalation of dust could cause long-term damage to our and our children’s lungs, we should also concern ourselves with its immediate effects.

If your child is having colds that has been going on for weeks, this means that he has developed an allergic reaction to dust. He will most likely develop sinusitis. Believe me, having this condition is not easy. I suffer from migraines because of my allergies. There are nasal sprays that I could use to protect myself against allergens, but they are very expensive, with prices ranging from P700.00 to as much as P1,200.00 and probably even more! There are times when I’d go unprotected because I had either ran out of spray or did not have the extra money to buy another bottle. These are times when I’d be knocked down by excruciating headaches. My experience through the years had made me realize that when our sinuses are clogged, drinking cold water could trigger the headaches.

I am writing about this topic now because I am very concerned for the children that I am seeing everyday being driven through the dust on their way to and from school. They may not be feeling the ill effects now, but it will come. There is no avoiding them.

So what should we do? If our only means of taking our children to school is by open transport such as motorcycle or a multicab, we should ensure that their noses are appropriately covered in the hope of minimizing their exposure to dust.

And children being children, we cannot trust them with mere hankies. Sooner or later, they will most certainly forget that they had to keep holding their hankies up against their noses. Maybe the best that we could do is to make them wear facemasks when we drive through dusty streets.

I don't really know if facemasks are effective protection against dust, but in my mind, it’s better than nothing at all. So what are we waiting for? It’s our children’s future health that we are talking about! Let’s start doing something now!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I Dreamed a Dream

No, this is not about that beautiful song from Les Miserables that Susan Boyle made even more famous. It’s my dream that came to me as I was driving around these monstrosities we call Dumaguete streets.

I dreamed of an election-free Philippines. Yes. I dreamed of a time where the word “election” is but a distant memory. And why not? What’s the use of elections anyway, when it’s nothing but a farce, a charade where we fool ourselves into believing that we are electing people who would represent us in this great exercise we call Democracy. Ha-ha! Fat chance! We all know that those whom we send to walk the corridors of power represent all but one thing: their own interests. I need not elaborate on that. We all know what that means.

So how do our leaders come to us? How about via succession like how the royalties do it? In my dream, I had a vision of the son taking over the reign of the father. And why not again? It’s not as if this idea is totally foreign to us! Are we not seeing political dynasties everywhere we’d turn? Don’t sons, or grandsons, wives, and even mistresses join in the foray, with virtually the same motivation that aristocracies had when they intermarried … to keep the spoils within the family?

This is really sad. But let’s get realistic for a while. Isn’t this pretty much what is happening already?

I have to say this again. This is really sad. And what is sadder is that the condition of our streets had what prompted me to get transported into this ra-ra dreamland. I thought that with elections gone, we won’t have to do this daily rigodon as we travel around our city. Do I still have to elaborate on that? Ok. Are we not all saying, to explain away all these flurry of road cementing, that it’s because elections are in the air? I rest my case.

If I sound bitter, that’s because I am! Anybody who has passed through Calindagan will understand my sentiments. Half a kilometer away from the Catherina Cittadini/Don Bosco compound, you could already see the dust enveloping the area like a thick fog! On top of that is the monstrous traffic clog up during rush hours that has brought countless motorists unfathomable frustration, not the least of whom are the parents (that includes me!) of students of Catherina Cittadini and Don Bosco.

I just couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why the planners of this so-called road development project didn’t plan the cementing of this part of the highway in a better, more intelligent and more considerate manner! I am pretty certain that they didn’t miss out on the fact that there are two schools in the Calindagan area (not to mention Dumaguete City High School) with hundreds, if not thousands of students!

Could they not have anticipated the horrendous traffic that would result when the schools opened? THEY COULD HAVE, AT LEAST, FINISHED CEMENTING THAT STRETCH OF THE HIGHWAY FRONTING THE TWO SCHOOLS DURING VACATION TIME. Isn’t that pure and simple common sense?

Instead, they went on their merry way digging up the existing asphalt all the way to eternity and left the cementing until … surprise of all surprises (the surprise being all on their side of course, these brainiacs not having thought of hello?... THE STUDENTS!!!) … the students returned, unwittingly finding themselves tied up in knots in several places, as they troop to their schools by the thousands day in and day out!

And it gets worse! At some point in this nightmare of ours, the two gates in our school compound will not become passable for some period. And do you know what they expect us to do? Drop our children off in the Teletech area and leave them to their own devices from that point onwards. As if!!! If you are as conscientious a parent as I am, would you leave your children alone and allow them to walk all the way to their school unescorted and lugging their heavy bags behind? Of course not! And there are hundreds of similarly-minded parents out there. We would have to leave our cars where we could and walk our children to school. I wonder how they plan to fit hundreds of cars in that area outside the Teletech compound. This I have to see. But deep inside I know already. It will be the usual “bahala na mo sa kinabuhi ninyo kung mag-unsa mo!” scenario. As always, poor, poor us!

I can think of only one explanation why our present problem was never considered … these brainiacs do not have children in either Cittadini or Don Bosco! Otherwise …. Am I brilliant or what?

Whew! Huffing and puffing over our roads can be quite tiring! How about you? Any novel ideas borne out of frustration and acceptance over how powerless we really are? We are nothing but pawns, and pawns we’ll remain unless we do something. But what? That is the question. Vote? Ha-ha!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I recently became interested in the bayong because of my friends Bing Sumanoy and Chedette Mascardo. They work in the Department of Trade and Industry and are presently promoting the use of bayong in lieu of plastic bags for carrying our purchases in the market. Likewise, they are also busy providing technical support to bayong weavers all over our province. There is a dual aim for this: save the environment and create employment opportunities for the unemployed and displaced OFWs.

The bayong is a simple woven flat basket made of indigenous materials like buri, bamboo or rattan strips. I guess that most of us are not old enough to witness the popular use of the bayong during the time of our lolos and lolas. Like me, your exposure to the bayong most likely came from movies where probinsianos are portrayed arriving in Manila carrying these bayongs laden with vegetables with the occasional chicken head sticking out.

But I did live through the times when we still used the round baskets for carrying our fish and vegetables in around the market. I remember that as a child, I used to stay clear of “the basket” that stank of fish.

I cannot remember exactly when plastic bags became widely used. My farthest recollection is during the mid-80s when I became actively involved in marketing chores. We were already using plastic bags by then. I guess I wasn’t of much use to my family with these tasks during my earlier years, hence the blank in my memory as to whether plastics were already in rage from mid-70s up to the early 80s.

What I cannot blank out though is the devastating effect that plastic must be causing to our environment. I learned from my friends at DTI that 80% of groceries and stores all over the world use plastic bags for packaging and that about a TRILLION are being consumed worldwide … EVERYDAY!!!

I learned further that in a study conducted by the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the volume of solid wastes in Metro Manila alone reached 6,720 tons per day, 25% of which is comprised of plastics. Greenpeace Asia and Ecowaste Coalition claimed that 76% of wastes floating in Manila Bay consist of plastic products, broken down into 51% plastic bags, 19% sachets and junk food wrappers, 5% Styrofoam materials, 1% hard plastics, 11% rubber materials, and only 13% biodegradable discards.

China, as always, is already leaps and bounds way ahead of us. Alarmed by the millions of plastic bags clogging their canals, its governments recently banned the use of plastic bags, and promptly ordered its citizens to start using baskets or re-usable cloth bags for either shopping or going to the market. Chinese citizens were warned that those violating the ban will pay high penalties and that the government will close down shops still using the same.

I found out from my own research that the City of Makati has promulgated an ordinance requiring all food chains, restaurants, supermarkets, eateries and other like establishments to replace all plastic and Styrofoam packaging with environment friendly materials. Los Baños, Laguna and the Municipality of Sta. Barbara in Iloilo have banned the use of plastic bags. The latter received an award from the Mother Earth Foundation for this initiative.

How about us? What part can we play in this increasing worldwide endeavor to spare Mother Earth from further destruction? There are little things that we can do. I, for instance, decline plastic packaging for purchases that I could easily put inside my bag. I just make sure that I do not lose the receipt. And I request store personnel to put additional items I’m buying into plastic bags that I already have containing earlier purchases. Small steps. But with a lot of us doing the same, maybe, just maybe, we could put a minuscule dent on the trillion being consumed daily.

We could also start using the bayong. But unless somebody up there gets serious against the use of plastic bags, market vendors will continue to use the same for every kilo of fish or vegetable that we would purchase. This would definitely defeat our purpose of using the bayong to help save our planet.

The bayong project of DTI is very laudable. But to my mind, for it to be able to achieve its worthy goals, it has to be paired with the banning of plastic bags. Unless this happens, the use of the bayong would merely become a ludicrous exercise. Even if all of us would use bayong in the tiangge, the continued use of plastic bags by the vendors will nullify all our efforts.

I have nothing but full enthusiasm for the bayong initiative. But … I do have one “but” … the bayong has to be strongly constructed out of sturdy materials for me, and all like-minded housewives out there, to consider using it on a permanent basis. It should be able to withstand the weight of several kilos of purchases.

I am fairly certain that nobody would want to keep using the bayong if they would have to buy one each time they would go to the market. One bayong should at least last for months. Minus this very important factor, it will be difficult for buyers like me to support this program. And without the consumers, the budding weaving industry will crumble.

Finally, we should all urge the City Council, if it has not done so yet, to promulgate ordinances similar to those that were imposed by Makati, Los Baños and Sta. Barbara in their respective jurisdictions. If they were able to do it, what is stopping Dumaguete?