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Monday, December 31, 2012

Common New Year Beliefs

We Filipinos are accustomed to different "pamahiin" or elderly beliefs, be it our own or adapted from our neighboring nations, or the influence of other countries, especially those who colonized us before.  An occasion like the New Year, isn't exempted even in my family.  Although we don't really talk about it that much, we respect each others belief as long as no one gets to any trouble believing it, it's fine with us.  Well, I'll be sharing with you some of it.

Taking a bath.  Yup, there are just people too lazy of taking even a short shower during the cooler months.  But not this day my friend,  wash away your misfortunes along with all your dirt so you'll have a clean start in the first day of the year and leave all your bad lucks in the past year.  But if you still think that nothing had change, look again, at least now you're clean. 

Making noise.  Believed to be driving away bad spirits and unwanted aura or elements.  Even if we are a firecracker free city, there's just a lot of things that can be used around in making noise.  And you need not teach the kids how to make them.  beeeeep... tooooottt... waaaaahhh...  claaang... booogg... hahahaa... But how do we know that the spirits are affected by such noise?  Oh well, at least we have fun doing it, and no one complains this time.

Wearing polka dots.  Circles represent coins or money, and wearing them is believed to give the person good inflow of money throughout the year.  Well, in that case, I'll be wearing rectangles instead or have a shirt printed with money of huge denominations.  Who knows, it'll work.  But if it doesn't, cheer up, its not everyday you can wear your favorite polka dots shirt... the long wait is finally over.

Putting coins in your pocket.  So that it won't be empty towards the year.  Then you give them away after, by tossing the coins to the air while the kids pick them up for themselves.  The sound of the coins are also good luck, and so as sharing your blessings to them, good karma.  For that, I won't be recommending bills here, unless of course you're prepared in giving it away.  And the bills don't make any sound, unless they are in bundle.  If that happens, count me in... I'm joining the fun...

Preparing and eating sweet sticky foods. That if you have something sweet and sticky in your "media noche", good things stick along with it.  But just a friendly reminder, especially to other places were firecrackers are allowed... sticky foods, hands and firecrackers, is not a very wise combination.

Rounded fruits.  Another thing that represents money is the rounded shape fruits.  I'm not quite sure if it's the number of kinds of rounded fruits or is it okay even if you have just one or two kinds as long as you have plenty of them. Anyway, whatever the case maybe here, no one is more happier than the seller of these overpriced fruits for the New Year.

Jumping high.  They say, the higher you jump, the taller you'll get.  But genes don't lie.  Probability of 99.99% you'll get your parents height and with proper health, might be more taller than them.  But hey, while you are in midair, you'll see others a little bit shorter than you are, even for a moment.  And it's fun to jump with others, right?  Then again, I believe miracles do happen.   

A lot of people may say that there's really no logical connection in doing these beliefs to getting the wanted result.   And the only way in getting these things is by working really hard (for material wealth) and having good and balance intake of foods (for growth and health).  But, there are still mysterious things happening in these world that even science cannot explain.  And I don't mind a little belief with some hope and a lot of prayers, if it could give a person a kick start to begin his year.  More, it's quite fun looking and/or joining the kids jumping none stop and scrambling for coins and just having some silly moments, than being so prim and proper for such jolly occasion.  Happy 2013 everyone and may Yahweh bless each day according to what we need most.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas In Gensan

It's the first time that my family celebrated Christmas in General Santos City and with our newest member, our very own, Jacob.  We planned it long before the holiday, applied for a couple of days leave, just to have more time to spend.  But what we haven't planned was the accident I had days before Christmas, indeed a bummer, but even that wasn't able to stop the cheerful air that was brought by the season... and of course, being together as a complete family.  Nothing would beat that.

We had a simple but significant celebration.  Unlike what we used to have in Davao, we dressed for the event, since there was a picture taking (though i was quite uncomfortable wearing pants due to my knee injury... araguyyyy!!!).  Followed by the most awaited opening of presents which my kids asked me when for a thousand time.  But I wouldn't miss a single moment to see my kids eagerly opening their gifts... those big bright sparkling eyes and cheerful laughter were truly a sight worth remembering.

Afterwards, we had our dinner of Filipino cuisines, kalderetang kambing (goat meat), kare-kareng baka (beef), inihaw na baboy (roasted pork) and buko (coconut) salad, to name a few.  I tried them all, just don't ask me how i was  able to make room for it, but with good cooking you just swallow one after the other.  All praises to my in-laws for preparing a very yummy meal. 

Then, the fireworks and loud firecrackers started.  Yes, we're a little bit eager to see and hear it again since it's banned in our city years ago.  No, I'm never against the policy, because since then, firecracker related accidents are almost erased from our city.  There are just a lot of irresponsible and careless people handling such dangerous explosive stuff.  I guess, what I'm trying to say is, firecrackers are safe if only it's handled by experts and/or at least able persons.

Lastly, I thank the very essence whom we are celebrating Christmas for, Jesus.   For the Almighty Father, for the gift of children... the gift of life.  And for giving His only beloved Son.  The light no matter what darkness we've been through.  The hope that Jesus had given the world, that by becoming one of us and dying for all our sins, He had given all of us a hope to still be with Him in heaven everlasting.  Happy birthday, our Lord... until You come again.  Yahweh bless.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Very Own "Simbang Gabi"

It's Simbang Gabi or Night Mass, but it's held early morning which varies usually from 3:00 to 5:00 a.m., depending on a Roman Catholic parish church.  In our parish for instance, the mass starts at 4:00 in the morning.  Maybe it was termed "night" due to the fact that it's still dark in our place during those particular time.  And according to trivia, the practice started when our country was under the Spanish regime, early mass were held for farmers so that they could still start early in planting in the fields and finish their tasks before noon.

It starts December 16 and ends on the 24th of the same month.  The last day being celebrated before Christmas Eve, as we call it "Misa de Gallo" which means Rooster's Mass (the name originates from the Roman's association of the cockcrow to the start of the day, eve or midnight).  But as practiced, we usually have the last Simbang Gabi mass at 10:00 p.m., to give the people ample time to go home and make their finishing touches in their Noche Buena preparations.

I was able to wake up early and attended the very first "Simbang Gabi" today.  I should have been with my daughter, but she decided not to come in the last minute.  As I arrived, the church was already congested, so I had no choice but to stay outside.  After I said my prayers, I couldn't help but observed the people around.  Some were asleep while standing but a lot were there to meet their friends and chat.  It was a lot more of being festive  rather than being solemn in prayer.  It's not a bad thing though, but there's always a right place and time for everything.

After the mass, outside the church, one would find various Filipino delicacies like suman, biko, sapin-sapin, puto at kutsinta, cassava cake, bitsu-bitsu among others, made from "malagkit" or glutinous rice, cassava flour and other native ingredients.  I was looking for "puto bumbong" but no one was selling at that time, there was "siomai" or steamed dumplings instead.  As a lot of fast food chains and food cart businesses are opening in the city, so as the diversity of food.  But a lot of Filipinos still go to what they were used to having especially during the season.

It's nearing Christmas and the days are moving fast, it's just like telling us that after all the trials we've been through, no matter how difficult it may seem, there's always hope.  And for me, that's the very essence of Jesus' birth.  Yahweh bless.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Preventable Shooting Tragedy

Almost real life graphics on computer games, videos, and movies of killings or slaughtering people using various weapons, cutting the heads off of a zombie or vampire, or people being tortured and cut into pieces by a psycho or monster, showing every single details clearly to viewers all state of the art technology of fictional violence.  Gone were the days of pixelation or blurring and hiding of gruesome scenes and images.  Cool?  Exactly...

The infamous Connecticut shooting tragedy that claimed many innocent lives.
We knew that it far improved the quality of films and television series proved by the increased number of viewers worldwide.  And all might be earning millions in cold cash.  Though it was recognizable how our video graphics improved throughout the years, but these visual effects might be giving our young ones the wrong notion of associating cruel acts to coolness.  What’s worse, it’s giving them ideas on how to commit crimes, though fictional, still it indirectly teaches them everything about it.  Money and fame or our social responsibility?  Well, whatever we choose, we face the consequences of our actions.

Those who were at fault might be sentenced and face justice, but we can never be sure that there are still people around having same deranged motives and way of thinking.  No one had predicted nor even thought that a person could take such innocent lives simply because we can’t read minds and we can’t see intentions.  So we just don’t have a choice but to react when a tragedy happens.

The acts of children is the result of how their parents or guardians raised them.  True enough, it is the responsibility of the parents to guide their children, spend time with them, being there to answer their questions, and if possible, looking at the things they do to be able to guide them.  But that isn't always the case, there are always those unattended ones, and parents can't always be with them 24/7.  And of course, other factors such as too much freedom, being liberated, to loose in possessing guns and deadly weapons and internet access to violence and adult sites to name a few.  We adults made it all possible for them.  All our actions, do have consequences.  But then again, life gives us chances to correct things.  It's just waiting for us to make a move.

Again, we must all take responsibility for what happens around us because we didn’t do anything to prevent it, we just allow it to happen.  No matter how we ostracize ourselves from everyone, we can’t change the fact that we are part of it.  My point is, everything is a product of the decisions we make in our lives, whether we choose to stay quiet or do something.  No matter how small a voice is, if a good idea is shared, it can make a significant change.  We can definitely prevent violence from happening and help save innocent lives, if only we choose what is right and good for the majority.  May the Lord guide us all.  Yahweh bless.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Unsaved By The Bell

At 2 minutes 59 seconds of the sixth round, Manny Pacquiao was knocked down by Juan Marquez.  Many may be surprised, as we were used of Manny's opponents usually were the ones who were sent flat on the canvass.  But hey, that's why it's called sport.  It's not all the time our guy or team wins, and this time Juan was the better man.  He really had hit Manny pretty good, which Manny never denied during his interviews.

Lucky shot or not, a win is a win, and it's all that matters.  Let's just be happy that none of them incurred permanent damage or worse, disability.  Juan, won it fair and square.  It's his day, let's just give it to him and let him celebrate his victory.  And for Manny, he gave his all and though this time was a lose, we should not forget that he was the one who brought back our country in the map, making us known to the whole world.  He risks his life everytime he steps in the ring, no matter what the outcome maybe, he deserves a hero's welcome, win or lose.

Religion wise, our Lord is fair and just.  Both players, may it be Manny or Juan is a son to Him, as every single one of us.  He didn't and wouldn't side to any of the player.  So the change in Manny's religion, doesn't really answer why he lost the game.  He still believes in the same God, does he?  And blaming his loss to his religion is like blaming our Lord for it.  So, let us just think that everything that happened had it's reason, maybe to humble us in a way.

For Manny, the Filipinos love you no matter what.  You already are a legend being the only boxer in the world who won world titles in eight different weight divisions and no one can take that away.  The Filipinos take pride on that.  You have far uplifted the hopes of Filipinos in the international world, because of you, a lot became proud of who they are, and started exceling in their own fields.  And that I think, is one of the many things the country should be thankful to you.

It's just a defeat compared to all his victories.  I think for now, if Manny decides to continue with his boxing profession, he must learn from what had happened and think of it as a thing of the past.  Moving forward, he was thinking of sharing his blessings to those unfortunate brothers of ours who were badly affected by typhoon Pablo.  And that's the best move for him now, for even his defeat will be nothing compared to the loss experienced by these people.

True champions are those who recognize defeat, know how to stand to it and use it to win again.  Yahweh bless.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jollibeerthday Surprises

It's Justin's day and the family prepared something fun for him today.  I took a leave and arranged my daughter's absence from her school (so she'll be excused from her exams for the day) just so we can celebrate his birthday together.   Likewise, it's also my mom-in-law's birthday, the more reason there is to be joyous.   

He woke up early, as he had a written exam in the afternoon.  But, apart from that, he's actually very excited for his Jollibee party where all his classmates and teachers are invited as his guests.  So, as soon as we got to school, he finished his exam right away and excitedly waited for the party to be set-up by the Jollibee personnel.  They brought along with them some goodies and giveaways for the kids and of course, they'll never forget, the ever energetic and a little bit naughty, Jollibee.  Maybe it's a part of  the characteristics needed to qualify as the mascot. hehehe.

The kids enjoyed the games and merienda (snacks), but most of all, they had fun being with Jollibee.  I don't know whats with the character, but the kids including my son and daughter really love him.  You know, that twinkle in their eyes and cute laughter, it's just a lovely sight.  And the party ended well... But the surprises haven't stopped, we didn't tell him that his cousins along with our relatives and family in Davao were coming.  So when we got home, he was so happy to see them, that he eagerly showed all his new toys to them as well as talked to them of almost anything under the sun.  I guess he just missed them so much and it's been just a month of not seeing them, what more if it's longer?


Since we just had limited time in Gensan, we immediately went to a mall they wanted to visit.  Good thing, since we also wanted to give our children what they were kept on requesting, to play in the fountain within the mall premises.  Actually, it's more of they wanted to take a bath and play at the same time.  I enjoyed watching them play, thinking that if I'm at there age, I would likely enjoyed the same.  But I was kinda  kill joy, i couldn't help to always remind them not to run fast... not to open their mouth to the shooting water... not to... hahaha.  I know it sounds annoying but as a parent, I was only after their welfare.  I don't want to regret something I can prevent.

Then, on our way home, we brought with us some delightful and yummy treats from our friends from Pablo's Steaks and Crabs.  These are gifts for the celebrants, my mom-in-law and my son.  We then enjoyed sharing with each other the sumptuous blessings from our Lord, the blessing of food, health and most of all, life.

Happy birthday to our very own, Justin and Mamang.  We wish you both all the best in life.  And we will always be thankful to the Lord that you both became part of our lives... To Yahweh be the glory.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What Would You Do This Christmas?

Luke 3:10-14

10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The pastor threw this question to the congregation, "What would you do this Christmas?".  He told us, the answer might be very easy for us... but how about for those who were badly affected by Typhoon Pablo?  The answer wouldn't be as easy...

For those typhoon victims that were left homeless, jobless and worse, who lost their family members, what would Christmas be for them?  Would they even have the time to pause and think about it, when they don't even have food to eat, a warm place to stay, and a family to return to.  But through the effort of various sectors to help them, there might be some spark of the Christmas spirit, though little, can bring back hope to one's heart.

But that's just the least we can do for them, that would temporarily aid their burden.  More we can help prevent such awful disaster from happening again if we just do our part and be responsible to our environment and fellow countrymen.  We can't stop typhoons but we can definitely lessen it's effect.  With hundreds of lives sacrificed, hundreds more still missing and thousands injured and affected, it wouldn't take someone from Compostela Valley to see what caused the devastation that worsen the effect of typhoon Pablo.  Flash flood with mud, rocks and huge piles of logs rushed down from the mountains, even the best swimmer would not survive that. 

bagged bodies recovered from debris brought by the typhoon.
(photo taken from
What's done is done.  Hope we learned from what had happened.  Now, even areas not known to be visited by typhoons are no longer safe.  Worst, our mountains had lost their capability to hold and lessen the force of ravaging flood and mud brought by the typhoon.  The rampant logging, deforestation and mining, we all brought it to ourselves.  It's not too late and it's not irreversible.  But the government cannot fix this problem alone, the cooperation of our citizen is needed.  We still can log but not to the extent that we clear our forest, we just take what is enough and needed.  Then we replace what we cut and let the forest recover.  We still can mine, but not too long and extensive in one place.  The mountains also need to recover.  Just picture this out, what do you think would happen if a mountain with cut-down trees and bombarded with holes would be poured with huge amount of water?  It would definitely spell "disaster".

For now, victims are crying for any help they can get, that too much hunger and thirst even let them forget to mourn for their lost loved ones.  I know we will continue to help them and someday they will be back on their feet again.  But then, what will stop a similar tragedy from happening again?  Not unless we do something significant about it.  We might be looking for a miracle, but nothing is impossible... May the Lord guide us all.  Yahweh bless.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

You're Already A Month

My daughter and I have been traveling almost every weekend to Gensan just to visit our family there.  It was our decision that my wife spend her maternity leave with her parents so she could have all the time she needs to rest and recover.  And we think that it would be very convenient for her since she could have all the help she needs in taking care of baby Jacob, for the time being.  Though our family craves to be together, we just need to sacrifice a little bit, and think of what's best for everyone.  So, we just let each other feel how much we missed one another during our short visits... How we wish we would no longer return for work and school...


This was our first visit since my paternity leave weeks ago.  Our Jacob just turned a month old now.  He drinks a couple of ounces of milk almost every 2 hours, has more muscles and movement control especially in his hands and feet, fuller body and face (definitely gained weight) and still sleeps and cries a lot, but this time, it's louder... LOL.  And his kuya (older brother) Justin is coping up nicely in his new school.  He is doing pretty well with their school lessons and activities.  How I terribly miss my boys... and their mom... huhuhu!!!

Though tomorrow would again be "a crying time" for my girl as we would be returning to Davao, and again leaving them behind, our foresight is already for next week, as our kuya Justin will be celebrating his birthday... hahay, already I feel that longing to return here even if I haven't left yet.  Hmmm... I guess in life there will always be sacrifices...  but as long as my family is okay and it's whats best for each and everyone, then it's fine with me... Just have to learn to bend with the circumstances and have faith in Him that everything is according to His will.  Yahweh bless.