Saturday, June 20, 2009

I am 23

June 19, 2009-- the day I marked my 23rd day of existence in this world.

Some people think that the coming of age should and is usually accompanied with new levels of thinking, renewal and more changes. I also do think so, but I am afraid that I won't be able to do such as I come to a new year of my life.

Sure is, I am unpredictable, even for myself. I tell so many lies and have done and continue to do so many mistakes in my life. At times I am quite and I love it. Oftentimes I am loud outgoing and every after such situation , I usually regret the way I acted. I want to be like those silent, intelligent, thinking and deep people who knows far more than what their tongues strike. I want to be like those detectives in novels and movies as well as undercover agents or super intelligent someone that can do something more than what is expected and what is normal.

Now, do I think I have to change my life? I guess I do.

I don't hate the me, I just do not entirely like it. The hell, im 23, and time is running out, if not for my ego, but atleast to my sanity.

Happy birthday to me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Real Free Education

SITIO LADIAN, MARILOG DIST., DAVAO CITY— Tightly gripping on her umbrella with another hand clutching her newly given schoolbag, Jinky Tan, 12, heads back towards her classroom in hurried steps after the sudden rain put a temporary stop to the handing-out of donated school supplies by “Church people” from Davao City.

Jinky, a Manobo, along with the rest of the 159 pupils of Ladian Elementary School here, is one of the beneficiaries of the Lumad Scholarship program of the Sacred Heart Parish in Obrero, Davao City.

The pupils received one year supply of school materials, uniforms and shoes raised through the efforts of parish priest Fr. Jesus Samaniego with the assistance of parish staff and some parishioners.

Aside from school supplies, the parish also gave the school faculty materials that may be used for more effective classroom instruction throughout the school year. Also given were sports equipments and used clothing for the pupils and neighboring houses.

Fr. Samaniego said that the school was chosen as beneficiary because of its manageable population and the poor conditions of the area’s residents.

“This is the real free education,” Fr. Samaniego said emphasizing the birth-right of the children for free education as provided by the Constitution.

With only four classrooms for pupils, Ladian Elementary School uses a multi-grade teaching strategy to accommodate the children’s learning needs.

Parents’ immeasurable gratefulness

Diding Mangil, 45, a Bagobo and a mother of 2 pupils at Tadian, expressed gratefulness to the efforts made by the parish as she recalls how, as a young child, she dreamed of studying but was unable to finish even the first grade because of poverty.

Mangil like most of her neighbors only learned a little on reading and writing through a literacy program offered by soldiers in a military detachment here.
“This is the first time that my children get to own a school bag,” she said adding that his husband’s income from working for landowners is only enough to buy food.

“The donated school supplies are really a big help for us parents and we are very thankful for this good-hearted people,” said Mangil.

The school supplies were distributed June 15 at the sitio’s covered court fronting Ladian Elementary School. Congee was distributed among pupils and parents for lunch after the distribution.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Funeral

“Fairness does not govern life and death. If it did, no good person would ever die young.”
-Mitch Albom
The Five People You Meet in Heaven

I don’t know what it is with death that it came across my life and thinking in the past few weeks. I am not skeptical though, I know it is not yet my time (as if I would know if that time comes). Reading Paulo Cuelo’s The Alchemist, the death of my grandmother and now, reading Mitch Albom’s Five People You Meet in Heaven. This is not a blog on death, that’s for sure, it is just that it is what crosses my thoughts and experiences these days.

Now, this got me thinking—what if I would die?

(I’m feeling blank now.)

One thing would be for sure, a lot of people would be there in my funeral. Many of them would shed tears like they have never shed so much in their entire lives for me. Some would say, it is very unfortunate and some would just make themselves comfortable with the thought that I deserve to rest wherever I am.

I know that in my lifetime, I have made so much friends and I, effortlessly, in one way or another, have made a great mark in their lives—as the brain person, the laughter caster, the great philosopher, the underpaid writer, the hopeless romantic, the happy-go-lucky-nothing-would-ever-turn-out-wrong friend or the consoler. All of which makes me smile every time I come to think of it.

I could imagine, may people, all of them my acquaintances in different ways, would gather in my place (I know my wake will just be at home). They would share stories about me in my wake, they would tell each other how they appreciate me with tears on the verge of falling. Then they would begin to know each other, they will make a connection, they will become friends, they will find a brother, sister, confidante, partner, mother, father, and friend among each other—that is because even in my death I will bring people close together.

Outside, some would be playing game cards while others drink the night away. They would then tell their own stories to each other, think together, and then laugh together. Then at some point, they would forget that I am the one lying inside the coffin, then eventually, they would remember, then they would start to be sad again.

The day of my burial would be the most heartbreaking one—for me and for those that I would leave behind. One or two of my closest friend, would be singing songs for me, they would try to spill out the lyrics in between sobs. The church will be full of people, crying, staring blankly and reminiscing the times that I am still with them. Some would miss me because of the good things we have shared and some would regret with the things that they haven’t said or done. I hope none of them would come to hate me in my passing.
The day of my burial would end in silence, everyone, retiring in their own comfort zones, with half a heart. Looking forward to the next day. Some would cry themselves to sleep and some would be sleepless at all.

Flowers, candles, laughs, friends, family, tears, coffee, stories, memories and me—this would be my funeral. These things would randomly happen or come, but I am certain, it will.

But then and again, before I end this thought-sharing I want to say, that I still want to live long, fulfill my dreams and become a better person—far better than who I am today.

I am not afraid to die, just not now. Conceited, it seems, I don’t know what the world of my beloveds would be like if I were to die, I know they will mourn for long but I am open to the fact that they would eventually forget me, too. I don’t want to be forgotten, I don’t want to be just a vague memory, I don’t want to die. Atleast, not yet.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SAYING GOODBYE: Balloons For Her

It was Saturday morning when my mother’s sister sent me the message “Wala na si mama” (Mom is gone). That was when I knew that my grandmother is already dead. No tears, no hurts, no pain. That is how she passed away from my life.

Friday afternoon when my aunt called to say that they are bringing my grandmother to the hospital, I told my sister that I already know that something will happen to our grandmother. I just had the feeling that something would really go wrong. I don’t usually believe in my intuition but at that time, I was certain.

A suspected liver problem prompted my aunt to bring Lola Flor to the hospital about a month ago. After series of laboratory tests, it was found out that she had cancer in the ovary. Now she is gone

To be honest, I do not feel the grief a grandson must be feeling when his grandmother joins her Creator in the Heavens, perhaps because we are not that “close”. My only memory of her is a woman of strong character coupled with her Boholanon accent and vague childhood memories of times when I ask her some things.

Don’t get me wrong, she was not a mean grandma, it’s just that we were not given the chance to bond back then, or more honestly, none of us made a initiative, maybe we are already comfortable with the basic facts of kinship—she is my grandma and I am her grandson, the son of her eldest daughter, or technically, the second son of her daughter (I still have my half-brother which my grandma look at as her own son).

But death in the family, no matter how it affects you personally, is always not a good thing. Regardless of the financial and time burden (forgive me for this), there is the ambiance of mourning around you. What concerns me the most is my own mother, yes, she is not emotional, thus, making her appear like things are just fine, but I know something is not.

Logic and human nature tells me that the passing away of her own mother is not a good experience, especially when things between the both of them are left unfinished. They may not show us the constraints between them, but deep inside, I know. My mother has still in her the hurts marked by the person who let her out of this world. The childhood pains she had when she was left in the care of relatives and made it to life on her own.

I don’t know what happened, of all the things in the world, this is one of those few matters that my mother chose not to discuss thoroughly with me. All I know is that her parents separated, leaving her under the care of her relatives and my grandmother married another man and had another family. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I don’t know if I have to admire my mother or feel pity for her, because I know that through the years of this family feud, she made the efforts to reconcile back to my grandmother, connect with her step-siblings and reconnect with her siblings. I saw the “forgive and forget” character despite instances where she was hurt in the midst of her efforts. I know my mother teaches me a lot of lessons on life, especially when she chose to be silent (which is rather seldom).

For my grandmother, though I have not shed a single tear (it is also unlikely that I force myself to), I sincerely wish that she is happy in God’s loving arms. Balloons for her, with all the love I could feel towards her.

I don’t know if I should be thankful but if only we took the chance to bond together, her death would have had caused so much pain on me. But then, I could have the chance to show her that despite being distant, she still has a grandson in me, who believes in her and who love her—something that I know I did not make her feel.

May she rest in peace and may the hurts of those that felt pain in her passing away, in one way or another, be granted the serenity they need. I say this— for the first time and perhaps the last—I love you Lola.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

REALIZATION : A good day to die

“Yes, this is a good day to die,” I said to myself late this afternoon while riding on a jeepney on my way to downtown Davao City. On my hand was a book I have always longed to read— Paulo Cuelo’s The Alchemist. I was on the part where the camel driver taught the young shepherd Santiago on taking life one at a time when I mumbled the thought to myself. Staring blankly on the roadside, I began to see the latest episodes of my life flashed before me. All of them vague but seem to boil down to only a few message—that I haven’t been taking things decisively lately, that I have failed to believe in myself (quite different from the “me” seven years ago who is full of confidence and self- assurance) and that I haven’t seen things the way I supposed to see it.

Just the night before, having a conversation with friends I haven’t seen for the longest time, I confide in them my frustrations, insecurities and failures (according to my belief) and I could recall when one of them simply looked at me with smiling eyes of either despise, amusement, or ridicule— I can’t seem to know.

When I arrived home later that evening, I thought to myself that I really haven’t grew up as I used to convinced myself. That in my age, I have not really achieved the things I thought I would before and that I am not the person everyone expected me to become.

Back in the jeepney, looking at two young women sitting opposite me, I asked myself, “Am I ready to die today?” Then, I looked back on the life I lived in the past few years—my failure to finish college, my involvement with the Church, the relationships that I have had, friends, family and job and remarked, “yes, perhaps, this is a good day to die.”

But hey, where was the part that I realized it? What was with the thoughts of my recent days that assured me that this day is good for dying? I honestly, do not know, I just felt it. That is how most things work, right? Feeling it.

Then I began to smile to myself as if I had the best thought in the past weeks and feel like looking forward to make my day. I returned to my reading and learn more things, about the Soul of the World and the Language of the Universe and enjoy the journey and learning of the shepherd Santiago. I know that I would soon forget the things I learned from that book, like the rest of the lessons from books that I came to bury in the immemorial.

But again, this is a good day to die. Perhaps one day I would learn to say it with more courage and conviction.

STRUGGLE: Quality of Davao’s water at stake Groups call for Tamugan River protection

Supports from different sectors are pouring here in Davao City for the protection of the Tamugan River against commercial and industrial activities which pose a grave threat to the city’s future source of drinking water.

The calls for the protection of Tamugan River followed after Aboitiz’s Hedcor Inc., revealed their plan to use the river as part of their hydropower plant. Hedcor appealed to the Davao City Water District (DCWD) for joint use of the river.

Residents of the Second and Third Districts urged the City Hall, City Council and Environmental management Bureau XI and National Water Resources Board (NWRB) officials to spare the river from industrial usage.

Almost a thousand residents from the two districts signed a manifesto of support to the Tamugan Surface Water Development (TSWD) project of DCWD. The project was commissioned by DCWD as a proactive measure in response to the city’s looming water crisis.

The same manifesto of support was also released by the Southern and Central Mindanao Water Information Council (SOCEMWIC), stating that after careful study and deliberation, they are convinced that DCWD’s TSWD and Hedcor’s hydropower project cannot co-exist in the Tamugan River.

“[SOCEMWIC] is aware that Hedcor could tap other rivers for its hydropower project while DCWD has only Tamugan River that is physiologically viable and economically feasible,” it added.

Late last year, students of the Davao City National High School (DCNHS) also sent an open letter addressed to Mayor Duterte and the city council, appealing for the prioritization of DCWD’s project over that of Hedcor’s.

The students expressed their fears on the environmental hazards that Hedcor’s hydropower plant may cause to the river.

The manifesto, signed by 300 student government leaders and club leaders of DCNHS, enumerated their fears as follows: “Hydropower may alter the river and river side habitat, a dam or a powerhouse can be a significant obstacle to fish migration, and hydropower project can impede the natural flow of sediments.”

In the same manifesto, the students said that “our need and that of the coming generations for drinking water that only the Tamugan river can provide is more important than using the Tamugan river as energy source.”

They added that “the tapping of the Tamugan River for hydropower use also violates the Davao City Watershed Code which has declared Tamugan as a conservation area where any form of commercial activity is banned.”

A recommendation to declare Tamugan River as a single purpose river— that is, solely as the source of water supply for Davao City was expressed by the Dr. Ed Prantilla, the former president of the University of Southeastern Philippines.

“We know that there are other uses of Tamugan River and the pros and cons of these alternative uses have been aired. But we believe as far as the future water supply of Davao City is concerned that the decision that will minimize risk and ensure sustainability is to have Tamugan River designated solely as the source of water supply,” said Prantilla, currently professor of USEP’s School of Applied Economics.

According to him, this recommendation is based on the following: to reduce to the minimum the risk that usually occurs in multi-use resource use, watersheds of drinking water supply require strict protection and devoid of human settlements, requirements not strictly required in other uses, i.e. irrigation and power generation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

INSPIRATION: Divine Mercy Apostolate: 19 years and growing stronger

With only a few members in the beginning, the Divine Mercy Apostolate in the Archdiocese of Davao has grown to a big number and more devotees are still coming in.

Since its foundation in 1989, the Divine Mercy Apostolate has greatly increased in membership all over Mindanao. The large population of Divine Mercy devotees here in Davao City became evident during the celebration of the annual feast celebrated by the group.

Approximately six hundred men, women and children dressed in yellow filled Sta. Ana Shrine Parish during the feast of the Divine Mercy, April 19 in a mass presided over by Davao Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla and concelebrated with some diocesan priests.

Divine Mercy Apostolate Archdiocesan Coordinator Emelia Sitjar said that even she could not give exact reasons to explain the considerable rise in their membership.

“I guess it’s the hard work and the efforts of the members, the propagation and promotion of the devotion to different parishes and even to Gagmay’ng Kristohanong Katilingban (GKK). Sometimes the work of the Divine Mercy is really mysterious,” she said.

She added that she could not even retrace in detail why she have a strong devotion to the Divine Mercy and all that she knows is that it has given her the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God.

Sitjar also explained how her devotion made a great impact to her as a person, saying that it taught her the values of humility and patience which she find useful in everyday dealings at home and with the group.

Eden Garte who has been a member of the apostolate since 1992 said that she found the devotion as a refuge during those times when her life was entangled with many problems.

“Daghan kayo ko ug problems ( I had so many problems) before and I was seeking for a reliever—that’s how I came across the apostolate and became a devotee of the Divine Mercy,” Garte said.

She said that when she became a member she felt her calling to serve other people.

“It changed my life. It transformed me into a different person, I became a humble and a happy person,” she added.

Julie Sanz, the cousin of the late Celina ‘Tita Inday’ Ilagan who founded the apostolate, said that what she found to be the most satisfying part of becoming a member of the Divine Mercy Apostolate is the fact that it really develops someone’s spiritual aspect.

Sanz said that her being a part of the apostolate is a lifetime commitment as she recalled how Tita Inday asked her help in spreading the devotion and developing the apostolate during its humble beginnings.

She added that her membership to the apostolate is one of the contributory factors of her being active in their Gagmay’ng Kristohanong Katilingban (GKK) under the San Pablo Parish, Juna Subd., Matina.

The Divine Mercy Apostolate in the Archdiocese of Davao started through the efforts of the late Tita Inday Ilagan and has propagated widely all-over Mindanao.

To date, there are already 25 parishes who established their own Divine Mercy Apostolate, 15 of whom shows active participation in the activities of the group.

Aside from the regular prayer meeting held every Tuesday at the St. Jude Thaddeus parish, Malvar St., the group also conducts a monthly general gathering of all Divine Mercy Apostolate members in Davao City dubbed as “Come to My Mercy” held every third Saturday of the Month at the CAP Auditorium, Anda Street.