Friday, October 30, 2009

The signs.

Have you ever wondered if your house is haunted? Do you hear strange sounds in your house, or feel an unexplained creepy feeling in one of the rooms? Does your appliances suddenly seem to have a mind of their own? Do you sometimes see glimpses of dark figures darting back and forth into the shadows?

Yeah of course, it would be nice if ghosts would just leave a note on the fridge notifying you of their occupancy and offers to kick in for rent, but that's not likely to happen. In fact, there aren't any hard and fast rules to say whether a house is haunted or not, nor is there a rulebook on how you should handle former occupants who don't want to leave no matter how deceased they might be!

But one good sign would be the bleeding walls. Maybe even the reflection in the mirror...that isn't you. Or the fact that every time you walk into the kitchen the chairs are balancing on one leg on top of the table. Okey, okey! That may be an exaggeration... but how about hearing and feeling the breath of whispering in your ear when no one else was nearby? Or ordinary objects inexplicably disappeared to be found later in unlikely places? In some instance you may feel a physical push or nudge against your body when standing all alone. And your pet dog would bark furiously at the living room mirror, then run about in a frenzy to return to the mirror and resume barking. Damn scary, huh?

These are tell-tale signs that shouldn't be ignored. You see most ghost that really want to get a message across can get your attention if they really want to.

So how do you know your house is haunted? Stay there and wait to see what comes next.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Swine flu - a media hype?

I have heaved a sigh of relief when our local news had stopped reporting about H1N1. It has to me, become annoying as it seems most of the craze is stirred by the media frenzy. I know that the list of death is still short compared to the other diseases the world struggles through each year. Therefore I don't see any reason why I will allow it to rule over my life!

The fact is, everyone gets sick once in a while, but when the media attaches a name to it, it tends to blow it out of proportion, and people over react. The main point I want to drive is that the H1N1 is not all it's hyped up to be, (spreading fear and panic only through media coverage of the deaths). All it takes to combat the dreaded H1N1 is healthy living and common sense!

There are many ways to help prevent our immune system from having to go to battle. The greatest of these methods is to develop healthy habits by washing our hands, covering our coughs, and covering our mouth when we sneeze. If we work in a place where it is common to shake other people's hands, we can place either a bottle of sanitizer or a box of sanitizing wipes upon our desk. It is also thoughtful to become more polite, giving others their personal space to prevent spreading our germs.

But now a new wave of swine flu panic is sweeping across the States and in the U.K. and to my horror, news of swine flu is back in our local media, duh! It seems that my country is also setting up a crisis committee and we all know that there is but one single body behind it - the World health Organization, with it's corresponding banking dynasties the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers'.

The H1N1 virus or swine flu may sound like a worldwide epidemic, but as we all know, the news tends to over exaggerate the truth. I'm not saying that the swine flu is no big deal, because any virus is a very scary subject, but I don't believe we need to be any more worried about this particular strain of flu than we are with any other common flu strain or any common illness. We just need to do the best we can to not spread the virus to those who will not be able to fight the virus well.

Good luck to us all!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Of death and remembering.

Death comes with no warning, it send no advance notice. It just come and take the people we love away. Of course, we struggle to understand, to find comfort, to cope. And it is never easy to say goodbye.

Among those that I have lost in the past are my grandmother, my auntie Sophie and my brother. My grandmother was old, her death meant that she was no longer suffering from old age. My auntie on the other hand was terribly sick with cancer and her death provided peace of mind knowing that she no longer suffered and no longer in pain. But the death of my brother defied everything that I thought I understood about death. I could not understand why the Lord would take someone so young, so unexpectedly.

I struggled to find answers, especially since we didn't have enough time together. He was too young. He was supposed to be graduating in high school this year. It wasn't fair... It wasn't right.

For the benefit of those who have only recently followed my blog, you see, my brother died when he drown during a family outing. He wasn't even swimming, but was merely playing with the waves. A strong wave however, carried him into a deep hole and the current suck him into the water. My brother is not a good swimmer and his struggles only pulled him lower into the ocean. It took them a good 3 hours to find his lifeless body.

Yes, none of us have control over death. Therefore, I just have to remember the times that I had shared with Junjun, both good and bad. Remember all the joys, the sadness, the bond. Ahhh... those memories will never go away. That is something that no one can take away. When the body is gone, and the spirit has fled, all that is left are the memories. That is what keeps them alive in us.

I cannot go to Sagay on November 1st to join my folks as they offer prayer and spend that special day with our dearly departed. But I will be lighting candles here and remember them fondly. I know they all finally find peace as they no longer feel the pain of existence here on Earth. They are no longer susceptible to sadness, disappointment, grief, pain or sickness.

There is only joy and love for them now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Uniquely Filipino.

While the western world celebrate Halloween as a day of fear for the living, (to ward off evil they made their houses cold and uninviting and dressed themselves as witches, ghouls and goblins to scare them away) we, in this part of the globe celebrate it as All Souls Day. A day of remembrance for all dear souls departed.

Come every November 1st, you will be amazed at how memorial parks and cemetery feels like a public park, or a fancy subdivision than what it truly is. The atmosphere; manicured rolling greens lawns, big beautiful trees, a fertile landscape, beautiful terrain, combined with families practically frolicking beside the graves of their relatives - is not just serene, but nearly pleasant.

All cemeteries throughout the Philippines is packed with Filipinos visiting the graves of their loved ones during this day. You will see a family walks down a foot path, carrying bottles of soda, plastic tubs food, a blanket and a guitar. Or another family who would gathered around a tree with the father and his two kids tossing a ball back and forth while mom sits in a chair eating. Nearby another family would have spread out their things, their kids playing badminton while the parents light a barbecue.

Yes, it's an event that defies description, especially when certain sight will remind you exactly where you are. The head stones hint of so many stories, many lives that have, in their own small way and in such a brief time, brought the world to where it is today.

But even with those glaring headstones, memorial parks on ALL Souls Day have a carnival-like atmosphere. There cannot be too many places on earth where people literally hold family parties on top of the grave of their dead relatives. Yes it's no big deal for us Filipinos because its just the way it is, and we don't think that having a party like atmosphere in the cemetery is anything unique. But any outsider would definitely say it is, well, different.

I know where you come from, cemeteries are so solemn as to be practically morbid. And maybe you spend as little time as possible there. Perhaps to think of enjoying oneself inside a cemetery is a serious no-no.

But this is our unique Filipino custom. Instead of celebrating Halloween dressed in scary costume and doing trick or treat, we honor our dead by spending the whole day with them and do the things that we would do together if they are still alive - eat, sing, play, gossip and laugh!

And yes, everyone is always welcome to party with us.

Monday, October 19, 2009

When yes actually means no.

Well, I hope it's not just me, but you see, many times I say YES when what I really meant is a big fat NO. This happens a lot when I wanted to avoid confrontation. From the earliest days that I remember I feared conflict. Some times that meant fear of getting in trouble - did you get my green crayon? Nooooo... Did you break that figurine? Nooo... You get the idea.

As I got older, things got a little more complex. I feared getting people's feelings hurt, or I feared self-disappointment. I said YES to my teacher when she asked me to represent the class in the Filipino declamation contest, thus embarrassing my folks as I deliver a very lousy performance. I said Yes I liked the gift given to me during Christmas even when I yearn for the one my sister got, because I don't want to appear ungracious when gift was given to me.

I say YES to people, family or friends when what I really mean to say, is NO. I say YES, I'll clean up the kitchen although I have no desire in me to do it, but saying yes, makes me a hero for a brief second. I would say YES when a friend asked me to accompany her to go malling when all I want to do is stay home and relax. In many instances, I don't actually like the person to whom I've just said yes, but I agree to make things "easier." I don't want an argument. I don't want a fuss. And many times I say yes to go along with the crowd, even if I am agreeing to something I don't want to do. I think all these boils down to the same thing - I don't want to upset the other person and I prefer to say the thing that will cause the least amount of conflict.

Maybe it's because of what my old folks had instill in me about good manners, politeness and regard for the needs of others. It is little wonder, that by the time I reach adulthood, refusing a request from anybody seems like an awfully selfish thing to do. I do have become accustomed to putting the needs of others before my own; hence my reluctance to say "no."

But with maturity, I had somehow gotten beyond this. As I get older, I finally start to realize that life is just way too short to spend time being miserable. As I mature, I realize that being a little bit selfish really isn't necessarily a bad thing. Pleasing others to keep relationships together may be noble, but sometimes people should understand and treasure the concept of personal space.

How about you? Do you also fear saying NO for want not to be regarded as a difficult, negative or unobliging person?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On who's boundaries?

I was so shocked the other night when an American channel reported about the plight of a teenage boy who was set on fire by four other teenagers, one of which is only thirteen years old. They had doused the poor victim with rubbing alcohol then set him on fire. Wow, has bullying gone this far? Or is it a form of teenage angst?

After watching the news I had kept asking myself: Why is being a teenager nowadays a lot difficult? It seems that along with the extra hair, the vocal changes, and intensifying odor, teenage angst is now a part of growing up. We parents know that our boys are going through physical transformation between thirteen and nineteen years old. They have acne, body odor, hair all over the place, they are awkward, confused, and insecure. They have hormones racing through their bodies like a Nascar driver without a speed limiter.

Then, there is peer pressure which is responsible for our teens rebellion. The boys especially, are particularly susceptible to these issues. Teenagers want to feel like a part of the group, and in order to do this, they often find themselves in positions that they don't particularly care for, but follow anyway. In most part they already know the consequence of their action but they do it anyway, because they feel they are in control of the situation and it makes them feel independent from their parents.

It seems that today's society is bringing up children who lack character qualities that were once commonplace. Things such as respect, obedience, and responsibility for self, seem to be in dire shortage. Of course, it is easy to lay all the blame on the little shoulders of the children, but is that the appropriate place for it to be?

Absolutely not!

The problem lies in the shortage of good and effective parents and the outcome is what we see in the children. Even our sitcoms on prime time television are a direct reflection of the lax societal standards that have become acceptable family behaviors. The reasons are primarily due to the ever-increasing stress and fast-paced lifestyles. More money, more "stuff", and more career accomplishments. And the loser are the children who have become more susceptible to outside influences.

Parenting is more difficult in this day and age than at any time in the past. In this age of technology there is instant information at any time. Children are more technologically smarter than ever. But nevertheless, they still need guidance and protection.

And a lot of parents are not providing these essentials.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Of hospitality and tradition.

We live in a cosmopolitan place filled with people who grew up in many different cultures and traditions. Therefore it is not surprising that hospitality and politeness are as varied as the number of countries that make up this world.

From my previous post, some of you had reacted that none will bother to offer help if you find yourself stranded in the road due to car engine failure. Maybe it is because you have been culturally raised to believe that there's a need for introduction before hospitality is extended.

Well, Filipino hospitality is one-of-a-kind. We are ready to offer our service to a stranger anytime. There is even no such thing as an uninvited guest or a bad time to visit. We can visit a home anytime without even calling them or sending then a text message that we are coming. And if we happen to catch the family in an abnormally late lunch, there will be a commotion, not because the timing was bad, but because the mom will stand up from the table to cook an extra pot of rice for the guest. Instantly without qualms, the visitor will be offered lunch. And it will offend them if you decline.

If it happened that the visitor is from a far place, he will be asked to stay for the night. Not having a sleeping clothes will not even suffice as an excuse. The guest will be given the best bed or the best room in the house. In the old days, the visitor is even entitled to the master bedroom even if that means that the master has to sleep on the floor.

On the other hand, I won't be surprised if, even after I have known an English friend reasonably well, I still won't get an invitation to their home. I know that this isn't a slight on me. It is just that English people like to keep their home as their own private space and prefer to meet their friends in more neutral surroundings. But then, Tracey had opened her home to me, so... yipee!

Filipinos on the whole are very friendly and open toward foreigners. Perhaps, there is no country in Southeast Asia where foreigners are so well accepted as in the Philippines. Filipinos even tend to rate foreigners over themselves. Our smile is not politely distant, but spontaneous and from the heart. Filipinos smile all the time. We smile while commuting, we smile at work, we smile in smog-infested traffic, even in an argument, or overthrowing our own President, we SMILE!

Oh, another thing. Our Filipino "YES" can puzzles most westerners. A yes means just that, though it can also mean "maybe" ,"I don't know", or, "If it will please you", OR "I hope I have said it enough for you to understand that I mean NO!". Hahaha.

You see, a Filipino does not like to openly agree or disappoint. Hence, a question by a person seeking a direct answer concerning, for example, the amount of a payment for services rendered will be answer with a smile and words... "It's up to You."

This is the aspect where the net has become equally important. One of the wonderful benefits of the Internet and the global communication is that it allows us, an opportunity to extend to one another an open experience of hospitality and politeness, without restrictions to our individual traditions and cultures. Here, we are able to appreciate the hospitable and polite nature of the mind of the individual.

We are all different, individually, nationally and culturally. Yet we encompass and appreciate those differences, and learn to appreciate the hospitality and politeness extended by our various cultures and countries.

Monday, October 12, 2009

First Love Thrills.

I felt like a giddy teenager the other day! You see, I am not aware that I had a secret admirer when I was in high school. The guy who is happily married now, had told me this and we kind of laugh about it.

First love... Wow, they make us do things we don’t normally do, like in his case, standing in a street corner waiting to get a glimpse of me. Or, telling his friends how in love he is, hoping that they will tell because he doesn’t have the nerve to do it himself! I wonder if he had written my name in his notebook, and stared aimlessly at it.

But, one thing is certain. After our talk, memories of my first love came flooding my mind. I also realized that just because I don't think about it, doesn't mean I have forgotten. Like when being near that special someone was the focus of my whole life. I can still remember the way I felt the first time our eyes met. Or the anticipation I felt, hoping my first love felt the same way about me. Or the rush of excitement the first time we held hands and exchanged smiles.

And being attracted to someone also has become a turning point for me as my appearance has become a matter of extreme importance. My taste in clothes began to change along with personal hygiene. Indeed, experiencing love for the very first time has changed my whole attitude and I become more sensitive to the feelings of others. Some, call it puppy-love and consider it youthful infatuation. Oh, call it what you will, but the feelings are intense and can stay with me for the rest of my life.

But what if you saw that person after a long, long time and you realized that the feeling is still burning inside your heart? Is it actually love, or just a memory of the feeling that had been left behind?

Yes, it's lovely to look back and remember the person who taught you about hiding love notes in pockets and stealing glances. It can certainly bring warmth to our heart, remembering how innocent and beautiful those feelings were. There will probably always be a place in our heart for that person, because their remembered self is as much a part of us as we are a part of them.

But that isn't love, its nostalgia. It lends a power and a glow to something that we are glad we have experienced.

How about you? Do you still remember the first person who made your knees go weak? Made your heart flutter at the very sight of them? The one who left you speechless, breathless and starry-eyed?

Friday, October 9, 2009

The first is always the hardest.

So ok, this post will be the first after the blogsary. Of course, I'm so thrilled to be here and have an opportunity to blog and share a little about my thoughts and life. Actually, I tried to think of something that would define the person I am for those of you who have never met me. But it's so hard to put my life in a capsule called a blog post and keep it short and interesting.

The thing is, I use to have a sense of adventure. I love to travel and see new sights and meet people. I think getting old had softened some of the edges. The closest I come to an adventure now is mixing chemicals in the lab or listen to couples squabbling in my neighborhood. Sometimes I’m tempted to join in and lash out at them just for the sheer catharsis of it.

And hey, did it also somewhat boggles your mind that “malling” is an actual verb? Where I grew up, there were no department store. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what life was then before malling became the national pastime. Where did we get our stuff? From the market, of course!

When I was in high school, there were three main cool criteria: the right clothes, the right music, the right friends.

Now there should be a checklist:
. Please tick which features your cell phone has ( multi-pixel, video recording, we browsing).
. Aside fro the mandatory cell phone, which gadget do you own ( MP3 player. Nano iPod, digicam, video console)
. What kind of MP# player do you own?

And so on…

Even the realm of vice is hard to figure out. When I was an adolescent, there was one kind of San Miguel beer. Now there are more than a dozen to choose from, over and above all sorts of spirit – not to mention the numerous permutation that can be formed with rum and gin. If one wanted to become a druggie in my time, there was pot. If you have lots of money, there’s coke. Now, there’s a whole smorgasbord of drugs out there, each designed for a specific kind of trip. What to choose, what to choose? But of course I haven't tried any of those stuff.

I know that we get disappointed with the kids of today, but how can they not be, when they have to sort all this out in their personal lives?

Well as an adult this is all I want to do – to laugh often and much, to endure the betrayal of false friends, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child or a garden patch.

What are yours?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yesterday once more.

It's hard to believe how quickly time passes when you're doing something that you enjoy. I still remember writing the first post and panicking as I hit the post button, having no idea what I was about to embark on or that 12 months later, I'd still be doing this.

Wow, imagine I’ve been blogging for a year already! It’s been such an amazing journey and I got to know so many great people and wonderful bloggers, all of whom, I consider to be friends.

I’m really grateful to all of you who visit my blog, read and comment. This blog wouldn’t be the same without you and I hope you’ll continue to visit, just because.

Hey guys, thank you for your continued support and encouragement. Here's to another year of blogging.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Another lemonade award.

I got another lemonade award from good friend Tracey. This is to celebrate the ability to "see the blessings where they're not obvious, and making lemonade instead of complaining about sour lemons"!

I know I have over a hundred things that I am grateful for, but I am required to name just a few, so here goes...

That I have loved and been loved totally.

That I face up to hard things in my life.

That I am healthy.

That my kids are able to go to school

That I’ve cried my heart out, and I’ve laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.

That I live in a safe area, and that my family is alive and well after the storm.

I am passing this award to Kirst, Joey, Rattles, Mimi, Bren, Sid, fellow bloggers who has great attitude and show gratitude by inspiring others. You see, their blog had touched me in a certain way, and had broaden my view of the world and inspires my action.

Go guys, get your award and pass it on to five other bloggers!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Don't change just because...

Just a short note in reaction to Kirst’s post , and how she had to explain herself to someone who left a comment in her blog. You see, what I love about reading blogs aside from gaining friends in the process, is the diversity of ideas and opinions.

We are all different. It is that simple... each and every one of us is different. We have always been different, we will always be different. But in our little blog community, we have come to accept the differences with patience, tolerance and understanding.

I strongly believe that our diversity is the very reason that we exist as individuals. We exist to be different. We move in different society, encounter different situations that may need a different approach, etc. I have come to accept this fact. As within this diversity, with all of our individual opinions, and with all of our individual needs, there is a common center that we all share, regardless of nationality, or race or religion... and that is, love.

By sharing with me your life, your fears, your aspirations through your blogs we are able to rise above all our differences and distinctions with our understanding, patience and love. It is through reading your posts that I get to know about your life, your joys, and sufferings. I see a new world through your eyes.

No one is right or wrong here, we are just different, and I, for one, enjoy learning a new point of view from all of you.

So to all of you my blog mates, particularly Kirst: Don't change just because someone has a difference of opinion, ok?


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