Thursday, May 29, 2008

Life is full of surprises!

I went to the bakery shop of my sister the other day because I missed eating her dice hopia filled with black mongo. Since my sister got bedridden, her youngest and only son takes over the management of the shop. While eating, we talked about a lot of things, trying to fill in the gaps of family news since we last saw each other. Mostly, we talked about our dogs (they have 11!). My son and my nephew compared notes about buying and selling breed dogs.

Suddenly, my nephew dropped a bombshell when he told me that his older sister, Elaine, who happens to be the closest niece I ever had (because she is only a year older than me), has cancer. The news shocked me because I never thought of her being sick. She has always been healthy, although a bit overweight. He said that she underwent a surgery on her gall bladder last month and they thought everything was fine after the operation. On Mother's Day, while she was having dinner with her children in a restaurant, she had a sudden stomach cramp and started vomiting so they rushed her to the hospital. More tests revealed she had cancer.

I wanted to see her, hug her, and comfort her. But what can one say to a dying person? When a person is sick, you visit and tell her that everything will be alright. But what if she's dying? How can you comfort a person who knows that she has only a few months to live? Would she like me to talk to her about her illness? About death? About religion? About life after death? About her children who will be left behind? Honestly, I don't know what I might even say when I go visit her.

So this morning, I just called her up. I told her that her brother told me she had a surgery and that I just wanted to know how she is now. She said she's fine and she sounded really fine, rather cheerful by the sound of her voice. Perhaps she was faking it, or perhaps she still is in the stage of denying how ill she is. Whether she is putting on a strong front or denying, the fact is, she doesn't want me to talk about it. It's so surprising that at times like this when you want to reach out your hand to comfort her and offer your shoulder to cry on, she chooses to ignore them. One thing left for me to do is pray that if there is indeed a miracle, I want her to have it. After all, God works in mysterious ways.
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Saturday, May 24, 2008

College Scholarship

My daughter took the scholarship exam last year for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) dependents. They told us the result would come out last April but it didn't. Finally, they uploaded it on their website last Thursday, May 22. Unfortunately, my daughter did not make it to the top 100. I just recently knew that there will only be a hundred slots for OFW dependents nationwide.

Can you imagine that? There are thousands of overseas foreign workers who are pouring in dollars in remittance to the country and they could only afford a hundred scholars? Call me a sore loser, but I thought that anyone (regardless of how many) could avail of the benefit as long as they pass the exam. Since it is a requirement for those who may want to take the exam to have good grades, I thought all those who qualified and took it and passed, can have the scholarship. But no, since there are only a hundred slots, naturally it follows that only those who are on the top 100 examinees will be taken. It should have been fair is to set a margin, an actual passing average for the test and all those who garnered the average score can avail of the scholarship, no matter how many.

The scholarship program offers PhP30,000.00 per semester for each scholar. This is more than enough to pay for one student's tuition fees alone. This could also cover the books and the allowance. It would have been a big help for us but what can we do? It's the way they run things, and like it or not, we cannot avail of the benefit. Guess I have to stretch my budget again with another child going into college when school opens this year.

Friday, May 23, 2008

just merely rambling...

It's been days since I last peeked into my sites because I was hooked on the DVDs that my eldest and his girlfriend gave me last Mother's Day. They gave me six (!), three korean films and the Dr. House series (1-3).

I finished watching Dr. House and my eyes are bleary. Imagine I was sleeping at 2 in the morning just because I detest the idea of leaving the series midway! Actually, I hate the personality of Dr. House and as the films progressed, I hated him more. I cannot imagine that a jerk like him could really exist in the real world. But, if there is one thing that is good in him, it is his ability to drive on and on until he is able to diagnose the symptoms and heal the patient. His confidence is enormous, his ego is spiteful, but his curiosity is oftentimes the reason for his unrelenting drive. For this, I sort of admire the man his guts.

I am writing about him here because there were lessons learned from my watching the series. In all honesty, I would describe myself as passive, not really the type who knows what she wants and does everything to get what she wants. Sometimes, I want something but if I feel it's out of my grasp, I'd settle for the next best thing. Not really good, right? Well, I guess it's just me. I'm easily satisfied with what I get, what I have, and what I can't have is just that... I can't have them! I get to live without them.

My children are different though, perhaps they get their attitude from their father, my husband. They're all outspoken (which I am not, because I hate saying things that may hurt people), they seem to know what they want to do with their lives, and they work to achieve what they want. I don't want to change them, I like their guts. It's me that need to change, but the change will be very very hard to make because this is just me.

Now I'm really rambling! Pardon me, but I got nothing else to write, just give this menopausal lady a chance to ramble...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Internet Cafe or Transport Business?

My husband wanted me to have a small business of my own, a kind of business that earns daily, something that could augment his income. His advice is to open a small internet cafe or buy one or two passenger-type jeepneys.

A "jeepney" is a vehicle that caters to commuters, duly licensed by the Land Transportation Office. It has a franchise to operate in a certain route, from the city to the suburbs, or from the city to the northern and southern parts of the province. The minimum fare is PhP6.00 for the first five (5) kms. So, the idea here is to rent out your vehicle to drivers who pay the boundary fee of, let's say, PhP700.00 daily, depending on the route and on the kind of vehicle that you rent out. Maintenance cost of repairs and parts are shouldered by the owner. Usually, you have a regular driver and an extra driver for the days when he rests or when he cannot drive. This way, your jeepney can operate daily without a hitch.

While an internet cafe is a place where you rent out computers to users on an hourly basis. Before, when computers were still expensive, the hourly rental is PhP20.00 to PhP25.00, but now that internet cafes are all over the city, the rental goes down to PhP15.00 and some net owners even have promos for PhP10.00/hour. You also have to rent a place, install an airconditioner, perhaps hire a staff to help with the users.The maintenance cost here comprises of the rental, electric bill, water bill (you should have a restroom!), staff's salary, internet access fee, and repairs of computer units.

I'm still undecided on what to choose between these two business ideas. If you were me, which is the better choice - an internet cafe or a transport business?

Human Rights Violations in Somalia

Today, Bloggers Unite asked its members to post something that is relevant to human rights and human rights violations. As I was browsing through the internet, I came upon the Amnesty USA website and I found their press release about the current state of affairs in Somalia. For us who live in the democratic countries, this comes as a shock to us that despite the fact that people now live in civilized ways, acts of savagery still persist in places like Somalia.

My prayers go to its abused citizens with the fervent hope that this would end and peace and order will finally reign.

May, 01 2008

Killing of civilians now routine in Somalia

(Nairobi) Amnesty International today released a groundbreaking report revealing the dire human rights and humanitarian crisis facing the people of Somalia.

The report contains first-hand testimony from scores of traumatized survivors of the conflict, exposing the violations and abuses they have suffered at the hands of a complex mix of perpetrators. These perpetrators include Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops on the one hand, and armed groups on the other.

“The people of Somalia are being , raped, killed, tortured; looting is widespread and entire neighbourhoods are being destroyed,” said Michelle Kagari, Africa Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International, speaking from Nairobi.

Witnesses described to Amnesty International an increasing incidence of Ethiopian troops killing by what is locally termed “slaughtering” or “killing like goats” -- referring to killing by slitting the throat. The victims of these killings are often left lying in pools of blood in the streets until armed fighters, including snipers, move out of the area and relatives can collect their bodies.

In one case, a 15-year-old girl found her father with his throat cut upon returning home from school, after Ethiopian security forces swept through her neighbourhood.

Other cases in the report include:

• Haboon, a 56-year-old woman from Mogadishu, who said her neighbour’s 17-year-old daughter was raped by Ethiopian troops. When her 13 and 14-year-old sons tried to defend their sister, the soldiers beat them and took their eyes out with a bayonet. The mother fled. It is not known what happened to the boys. This girl is in a coma as a result of the injuries she sustained during the attack.

• Qorran, another 56-year-old woman from Mogadishu, described how after her family went to bed, she went out to collect charcoal. While she was out, a rocket propelled grenade was fired at her home, completely destroying it. She said, “When I came back, I couldn’t find my house.” Her husband and sons were all killed in the attack. She told Amnesty International, “If grief is going to kill anyone it’s going to kill me.”

• Guled, aged 32, who said that he saw his neighbours “slaughtered”. He said he saw many men whose throats were slit and whose bodies were left in the street. Some had their testicles cut off. He also saw women being raped. In one incident, his newly-wed neighbour whose husband was not home was raped by over twenty Ethiopian soldiers.

“The testimony we received strongly suggests that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Somalia – and no one is being held accountable,” said Kagari.

“The human rights and humanitarian situation in Somalia is growing worse by the day. This report represents the voices of ordinary Somalis, and their plea to the international community to take action to end the attacks against them, including those committed by internationally-supported TFG and Ethiopian forces.”

Security in many parts of Mogadishu is non-existent, and the entire population of Mogadishu bears the scars of having witnessed or experienced egregious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

“There is no safety for civilians, wherever they run. Those fleeing violence in Mogadishu are attacked on the road and those lucky enough to reach a camp or settlement face further violence and dire conditions.”

The Transitional Federal Government, as the recognized government of Somalia, bears the primary responsibility for protecting the human rights of the Somali people. However, the Ethiopian military, which is taking a leading role in backing the TFG, also bears responsibility.

“Attacks on civilians by all parties must stop immediately. Also, the international community must bear its own responsibility for not putting consistent pressure on the TFG or the Ethiopian government to stop their armed forces from committing egregious human rights violations.”

Amnesty International urged that the capacity of the UN Political Office for Somalia be strengthened, and that AMISOM – and any succeeding UN peacekeeping mission – be mandated to protect civilians and include a strong human rights component with the capacity to investigate human rights violations.

The organization also called for the UN arms embargo on Somalia to be strengthened, amongst other recommendations.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Question of Choice

As my regular readers already know, my youngest and only daughter has graduated and she's going to college when school opens in June. Even before her graduation, I have been asking her what course she wants to take, but she merely shrugged her shoulders and say she hasn't decided yet. But last week, when enrollment started and her high school friends called her up so they could enroll together, she suddenly decided she'll take up Psychology. The decision was made while she was on her way to a hasty shower!

Weeks of asking and suggesting did nothing for her to make a choice. Her father called to say that it is best for her to take up Industrial Engineering and my eldest son agreed. My second son said that what really fits for her would be Veterinary Medicine because she really loves dogs and cats (she fears anything that creeps!). The third son said she should take up Accountancy and proceed to Law because she has a good analytical mind and she'll surely be a good lawyer. While I suggested that it would be good for her to take up Medical Technology because she came from a science-based high school. She listened but she did not decide.

How could a sixteen-year-old decide what she wants to do with her life? Seriously?

I'm beginning to think that our educational system is just too fast. In other countries, kids start college when they're eighteen, which I think is a good enough age to consider them eligible in matters of choosing their careers. At eighteen, they would have gone through the normal fun-filled teenagers' life.

My sons started college when they were sixteen too. And look at them now! My eldest has not graduated yet because he said he really wants to be a nurse. The second also took up engineering but shifted to Information Technology on his second year. The third again took up engineering but shifted to Accountancy and thinking again to shift to Education, majoring in Special Education. And I'm afraid that my daughter will do the same although she is more mature than her brothers were at her age now. But what can I do? She seems to have made her choice.

I just hope that she has made the right decision.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


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A mother is a pillar of strength,
a light that enlightens the mind,
a heart that beats with love and understanding,
and a rod that straightens the path of life.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Apples of My Eyes

For me, what completes my life is my very loving and responsible husband, and my four children. They may oppose the posting of their picture here but I can't help it, I am proud of them. I just feel so blessed as a mother that I was able to raise them well, and that even at their age now, they have never talked back. I allow them to speak for themselves but they should never raise their voices on me. Even if they're all grown up, they still live by the values that I tried so hard to teach them. And for all these, I feel that God has really blessed me!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Do we get our negative traits from our genes?

The past month was not good for our family, on my side, that is.

Basically, Chinese families here in the Philippines are close-knit, and we put too much emphasis on family ties, keeping the ties strong and each member does not even dare to sever them.

My father was strict regarding respect of elders, we bow down to elders, take their hands and place them on our foreheads to show that we recognize their authority and that we respect them. This has been inculcated in the Filipino tradition as well, although I have observed that nowadays, young people no longer do this. A peck on the cheek is more fashionable.

Sorry, I got carried away. I could ramble about the change in tradition for hours but this is not the topic of my post now. I just want to stress the importance of family ties in relevance to what I am about to say following this long introduction.

I said that the past month was not good for us. First, I was rushed to the hospital for hypertension. Thankfully, it was just my first and it was very mild. Second, my sister-in-law (wife of my eldest brother who has passed away) also had an attack brought about by diabetes. She stayed in the intensive care unit for a week. She's home now, although her speech was affected.

Her attack renewed family disagreements. Her eldest son and the youngest were not speaking to each other for months now. The reason is not so serious but they are both so stubborn and hard-headed and so proud that neither took the first step to patch up their rift. They met in the hospital but stayed away from each other.My sister-in-law wanted them to forgive each other and act like they should, as brothers. And she chose me to mediate between them.

The responsibility falls on me being the older generation in authority. My elder sister, incidentally, is not speaking to her too. The rift between them was about inheritance and it's been awhile that my sister, who is so proud, so hard-headed, and so stubborn, refused to patch up with her and even told me that if and when she dies, she doesn't want my sister-in-law and her family to attend her wake and burial.

So there I was, speaking to my nephews (separately, of course) about renewing their bond as brothers and the importance of family ties. But nothing came up, each of them vehemently maintained that he's right and that the other should ask forgiveness first. So, until now, they're still not speaking to each other and I let them be.
Why? Because I got angry that they did not respect me and I decided not to speak to them anymore! My children told me to forgive them but no way, they disrespected me so they better do the first move and do what I want them to do, then, I'll forgive them.

As you can see, the negative traits that I mentioned run in the family. Even my three sons and only daughter have shown these. In their case, however, they show such traits to their friends, not on each other because I have brought them up respecting each other. Well, I don't know if they will still do, once I'm not around anymore.

Let me ask you, do we get our negative traits from our genes?