Saturday, December 20, 2008
Going back to the children doing their caroling, their typical get-up would be their house clothes—tshirt, shorts, slippers, or whatever they wear at home. They’d come in twos, threes or more, sometimes even solo act. Some would be pounding on an empty tin can or other makeshift instrument to accompany their singing—or what sounds like singing. In the many years that we’ve had little kids caroling at our front gate, I think I’ve heard it all—from offbeat tunes to incoherent words, to rapidly sung songs (to cover more houses in one night), to single songs to a medley. The songs are in Pilipino and some in English. Very few children sing well. But the offbeat tunes and incoherent words are all forgivable. The kids are probably just having fun while going around with their groupmates, trying their luck to get some decent amount or some nice gifts as they go from house-to-house, night after night.
But, sadly, I sense some kind of materialism creeping in on some kids. Some will really scrutinize how much they are given by a household, counting each coin before putting the coins to their pockets or little bag. When in a group, others can be heard asking “How much was given?” to the one who was handed the money by the household.
But the worst part is that, when I ask the children carolers why there is Christmas, and whose birthday is celebrated on Christmas, some of them, even a few bigger kids, would reply that they don’t know. Well, if they say that they don’t know, I give them a little lecture on Jesus being born on Christmas. Some turn wide-eyed, as if it was really the first time that they were hearing about the meaning of Christmas. Many, if not all, of those who replied that they don’t know who was born on Christmas are the kids who come from poor families. Hopefully, their little hearts and minds will start discovering the true meaning of Christmas from their caroling.
(By the way, when I was a kid myself, my youngest sister and I tried just once to go caroling in our old neighborhood. We were so shy that we ended up singing at only one house--our own.)
Friday, December 5, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Anyway, going back to the feu_magkababata e-group, it was set up on August 30, 2005 by myself and Requito, upon his suggestion actually, since about four or five among us classmates/batchmates from way back grade school (where boys and girls were mixed in class) going all the way to HS were already exchanging e-mails at that time. Actually Requito and the four or five people I mentioned were among the few people who were my classmates from grade school to HS with whom I’ve remained in contact after many years. But we wanted to renew our communication with many other “missing” classmates/batchmates, especially the HS batch, for some reasons like we just plainly sorely missed one another and also that our batch was to celebrate its silver anniversary the following year. Requito said that the idea of forming an e-group was fine and worth watching out for “if it will soar,” especially since we were hopeful that many batchmates had access to the Internet and, hopefully also, had e-mail addresses given the prevalence of Internet usage. I volunteered to form the e-group.
Thinking of an e-group name
But Yahoo’s steps to forming an electronic group were quite easy to follow; the tough part was thinking of a name for the e-group that should capture our school’s name, carry the essence of our batch in the FEU GHS and BHS, and be welcoming enough for other batchmates so that they will feel easily right at home from the moment they receive the online invitation to join the e-group. Well, after I came up with a few names, I finally decided to use feu (name of our school)_magkababata (Pilipino term for people who’ve been friends with one another since their youth). And, so, our little e-group was born with the initial four or five members. We rarely used the e-group in the early months. One member even e-mailed her USA vacation photos to the e-group, and she asked in her e-mail if anybody was actually opening and viewing the messages in the e-group. All the members replied "yes," all four of us. Well, in the latter part of the year that the e-group was formed, it had slowly grown in number as more contacts were added through referrals (like some batchmates knew how to contact others, and I immediately sent out invites to them for the e-group). Also that latter part of the year, several of us had already began meeting to talk about the holding of the batch’s silver anniversary reunion in 2006. Thus I got hold of more e-mail addresses to add to the e-group. Since all of us in the committees formed for the reunion were busy and still had to adjust our schedules for our face-to-face planning meetings, we agreed to hold discussions via e-mail. I thought that the e-group would be perfect for that. But since we were planning a May 2006 reunion already, I thought that adding all these new contacts to the e-group would take up a lot of time since many of them I found out had e-mail addresses but not too Internet-savvy. Or they weren’t into checking their e-mails that much. I then decided to form a separate e-mail loop for our batch, especially at that time for the purpose of gathering people who would know and be interested about attending our silver reunion coming up in just a few months. Well, news sure spreads like wildfire. Almost everyday, I would be adding many names (new referred contacts) to our e-mail loop, and I would be sending out e-mail to this loop everytime I had three to five new contacts, to announce their inclusion into the loop. At the back of my mind, I was always wondering when I could transfer all these people to the existing feu_magkababata e-group, without losing anyone in the email loop who could be uncomfortable with going through the steps in joining an e-group. The steps were actually quite simple but could be a bit of a challenge to those who were, like I said, not much into the Internet or computers for that matter, or for those who weren’t using Yahoo e-mail addresses. But then I was also starting to ask myself how long I could sustain or maintain the e-mail loop, whose list of contacts had been growing longer and longer. And I was aware that Yahoo could already consider e-mails from this loop as spam, at some point and thus block the e-mails.
Transfer to the e-group, we must
But I knew the time to take action had come. Whether they liked it or not, the e-mail loop contacts had to transfer to the e-group, fast. To guide them painlessly, I hoped, I wrote the steps to take in accepting the online invite from the group owner (me) and posted it in the e-mail loop. I gave them a deadline to take the necessary steps to transfer to the e-group, or else, they wouldn’t be “in the know” of the latest in the batch, especially with the forthcoming reunion. Happily, most of the batchmates obliged and joined the e-group. A small number really couldn’t because of Internet limitations in their offices (where they mainly accessed their emails), and other understandable reasons. I maintained a small email loop for these hopeless cases, ha! ha!, sending them e-mails every now and then for important news about our batch (like parties, events, fund-raisers).
Now, our then struggling little e-group has grown to 190 members (especially after we successfully held our silver reunion in May 2007 in the Philippines, complete with 14 teachers whom we gathered from everywhere). (See our photo at the Holy Mass we held at the FEU Campus, with some of those who attended, a week before our reunion celebration.) The 190 is still a small number considering that we had a thousand population in our batch (for morning and afternoon classes, boys and girls). But I consider this 190 (and still growing) big enough, and a success number already. I’m saying this for many reasons. First, 190 is far more in number than the four or five original members.
Secondly, apart from garnering members from all over the Philippines, we’ve also touched base with batchmates in New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Sweden, USA, Canada, Middle East, and they’re all active in the e-group, whether as posters and/or readers.
Thirdly, many in our batch who’ve lost track of their friends in school have joyously found them back in the e-group. In fact, after our May reunion, many have had small reunions or get-togethers with their friends.
Fourthly, new friendships or acquaintances have been formed through the e-group, as we all get to see e-mails written or forwarded to the e-group by batchmates we didn’t get the chance to know before when we were still studying, especially for the opposite sexes who were separated by buildings but were in the same Batch 1981.
Fifthly, through our e-group, other batchmates have come to know of the need of some other batchmates and have generously provided help like financial assistance or job referrals, and even prayers.
United, we e-mail
In our feu_magkababata e-group, the GHS and BHS are united as one, exchanging hellos; memories of our being students then; the current updates in our lives; hopes for the future; jokes and more jokes; and even then-and-now photos in the e-group’s website. Some of the e-group members are active in posting messages; others are happy being silent readers of the posts. But whatever the sort of activity they do in the e-group, I sense that all of them, well, maybe except for one or two who couldn't cope with the deluge of e-mails every now and then—surely, we can’t please everybody although we try to—are happy being in the e-group. It does takes a bit of my time and some effort to be the moderator of our e-group. I keep an eye on things to make sure that there are no hitches in the e-group (like there are no problems in posting messages, new contacts are promptly invited and given welcome messages in the e-group, online applications to join the e-group are screened to make sure that they are really alumni of our batch). I’ve also been posting every start of the month the birthdays of the e-group members. But this time and effort spent feels worth it when I get thank-yous from some batchmates for keeping the e-group together, and who say how happy they are for finding their friends again in the e-group. I also get great satisfaction that the homesickness of batchmates living or working abroad has somehow been eased by thier participation in the e-group. I am also happy that even people I know who were/are shy are also in the e-group, even as readers. Well, I always say to my batchmates that I’m just moderating, just doing my share, but the success of the e-group is really up to all the batchmates as e-group members.
In 2011, our batch is celebrating its thirtieth year. There are initial talks to hold a reunion like we did in our silver year. And we’re glad that the e-group is already around because it’d be of sure help in getting more batchmates together in planning and implementing a possible big reunion in 2011. This would be so unlike in 2006 when we were then just starting to build our contacts (via e-mails and phone numbers), and had quite a difficult time with lesser people in the committees, with such short period to prepare for our silver year celebration.
By the way, I requested May, a batchmate based in Canada, to be my listed co-moderator in the e-group. I told her to be my co-moderator since I think it would be good for any e-group to have more than one in case something happens to the e-mail address of one of the moderators or registered group owner (like if her or his e-mail suddenly closes down).
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Mary, you showed yourself to Bernadette in the crevice of the rock. In the cold and grey of winter, you brought the warmth, light and beauty of your presence,
In the often obscure depths of our lives,
in the depth of the world where evil is so powerful,
bring hope, return our confidence!
You are the Immaculate Conception,
come to our aid, sinners that we are.
Give us the humility to have a change of heart,
the courage to do penance.
Teach us to pray for all people.
Guide us to the source of true life.
Make us pilgrims going forward with your Church,
whet our appetite for the Eucharist,
the bread for the journey, the bread of life.
The Spirit brought about wonders in you, O Mary :
by his power, he has placed you near the Father,
in the glory of your eternal Son.
Look with kindness on our miserable bodies and hearts.
Shine forth for us, like a gentle light,
at the hour of our death.
Together with Bernadette, we pray to you, O Mary,
as your poor children.
May we enter, like her, into the spirit of the Beatitudes.
Then, we will be able, here below,
begin to know the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven
and sing together with you :
Glory to you, Virgin Mary,
blessed servant of the Lord,
Mother of God,
dwelling place of the Holy Spirit!
lourdes-france.org is the website (in English and French) of the Grotto of Lourdes, France. Amid the influx of information and some disinformation that can happen in the World Wide Web, here's a site that's a respite from all that. Through the website, one can virtually visit or make a pilgrimage to the Grotto. One can make online intercessory petitions to the Mother. One can listen and meditate to the Holy Rosary, although it's presently recited in French. The Daily Word of God is available for easy viewing. Webcam shots and videos of the Shrine are also available. The site has many other features available. Starting my day interacting with the Lord gains a new perspective by tuning in early to this website.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Now, here's the story of my missing cat. Every November, I can't help but remember Panching's disappearance because he got lost on November 23, 1997. It was the day after a priest blessed our home to which my family and I transferred a week before. Despite our house being with a screened door and windows, we couldn't fathom how he could have ever gone out without our noticing it. And he rarely left the house that week that we moved in. He was an ordinary-looking brown cat, and he was about three years old when I lost him. I got him from the local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), while still a teeny weeny kitten (neutered, by the way, by the SPCA when I got him, as it was their regulation for adopted cats). I'd keep him in a small cage overnight near my bed in his growing-up years for fear that our poodles will eat him up during the night, ha! ha! I'd patiently give him milk through a medicine dropper, until he could learn to eat. He was good cat, very obedient and smart. He'd sleep where he was told and motioned to sleep (he slept a lot to the point that you'd mistake him as a figurine on top of the piano or the ref). He'd shake hands if asked to. He was a good mouse-catcher. Later, he was already good friends with our poodles, and, sometimes, would sleep in the same bed with them. But he was also a brave cat. Like one morning, we woke to the sound of fighting cats in our living room, with matching falling objects. Panching was fighting it off with an intruder cat. I instinctively grabbed him to protect him from the bigger, more ferocious cat. But he instinctively turned his fangs to me, too, giving me a big bite on my left leg. Well, I don't know whatever happened to him after he got lost. Some friends told me that perhaps he returned to our old house, which was several miles away in another city. They said that cats and dogs have a good sense of direction and will often find their way back home when lost, especially if they are familiar already with where their homes are. But a check at our old home yielded no Panching. My sister's explanation is that after the priest blessed our renovated home (the priest also fondly petted Panching when he saw the cat sleeping on top of the piano), perhaps the bad spirits, if any, in our home were absorbed by the cat, and he was just zapped out of existence. Here's a picture of Panching, fondly remembered, in one of his sleeping poses. Shy, no?!
Monday, October 27, 2008
In 1997, my parents and I moved from the
Weighing our options, faced by floods and the hefty cost of renovating our house which we thought actually needed rebuilding and not just renovations, our family decided to sell our old house. We were more convinced to sell especially since during the time that we started to put it up for sale, we saw a modestly sized house and lot for sale in QC that needed just a few repairs to suit our needs and taste. We surmised that we would be able to afford to buy this QC property, and its repairs, from the proceeds of the sale of our
He guided my brother in chancing upon that house in QC for sale in a nice, low-key village, with a “For Sale” sign put up by a bank to which the original owner had failed to pay her mortgage. In QC, which is highly urbanized, it is not that quick to find a bungalow residence that is quite easily affordable. One will see more of rather costly large houses, townhouses, or condominiums in many of QC’s major districts. God’s hand moved once again when it did not take us long to find a buyer for our Manila house. The transaction with our buyer lasted for only a few weeks, and, soon, we were also able to close our own deal with the bank that owned the QC property. But as we were still waiting for the renovations to be finished in our new home in QC, we were still staying put in our
Then, the next Sunday, I was surprised that I was called again to serve, in the same church. Another woman assisting in the Mass approached me early on while I was already seated and asked me to carry one of the floral vases to the altar during the Offering. This time, I had no apprehension, and immediately said yes. I was happy at the chance to serve.
It was many days after that I was able to reflect on my two Sundays’ worth of experience in that
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Vic Damone, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, Sammy Davis Jr., Matt Monro, Dean Martin, Ethel Merman, The Ames Brothers, Jo Stafford,Gene Kelly, they're my friends on the Yahoo! Music Launchcast, which is, of course, one of the fringe benefits on getting online (while being invisible as I wait for any e-mails to come in heheh) on Yahoo Messenger or YM for short. Tony and the others are on the Classic Vocal Standards station that takes the listener years, years back on the musical time machine. Well, for me, it does takes me several years back from my birthyear of 1964 as many of the songs on the station were recorded before that. Or, I was just too small then to remember any songs starting from 1964 up until perhaps I was in Grade 1 (1971). Who Can I Turn To, Come Fly with Me, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Chances Are, Autumn in New York, The Way You Look Tonight. Indeed, many old songs have been re-recorded by other (and sometimes younger, newer) singers in recent years. But still nothing beats the original sound of the original singer, with the original tempo of the song. The mellow voices and the mellow songs, with the occasional upbeat tune--they are the comfort food for the soul. Okay, Louis Armstrong is now singing about the ramblin' rose... (billie holiday pic is from diggershaven.blogspot.com; the ames brothers pic from oldies.com)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Anyway, that was until about a year ago, like I said. It’s a different story nowadays ever since the Trinoma Mall (of the Ayala family) was put up on THAT other side of SM North Edsa Mall (THAT other side used to be a vacant lot with the nearby last terminal of the MRT—the EDSA train--which I believe was a government property; how that was purchased by the Ayala family maybe worth another story). People in droves now cross the same street that I and just a few others before were crossing. Of course, there’s now a wider space and not a just a small opening on the middle island that people can use in going to both sides of the street. Problem is, however, with two big malls now sandwiching
Well, the good news is that a footbridge (although a small one) is now being built over
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Shortcut it is
Anyway, what I actually want to say in this post is that it utterly amazes me that the shortcut way that words are typed or encoded into the celphone's keypad to be sent to the text recipient is actually how I used to write my notes when I was in high school and college in the Philippines (and this would be from 1977-1985, when celphones were still unheard of, at least in the Philippines, although some people perhaps were already using pagers at that time, which was the most "mobile communication" one could get in those years.)Especially when the teacher would be talking fast while we the students would be taking down notes in our notebooks, I'd drop most vowels from my words and all I'd have were words (and sentences) composed of mostly consonants, which allowed me to save time on note-taking. Mercifully, when I reviewed my notes, I'd still understand what I wrote. But my classmates would get angry because if they borrowed my notebook to read or copy my notes (like especially if they weren't listening to the teacher or were absent during the class), they couldn't understand what I wrote! Hahah! They would sort of castigate me on why I wrote like that. They said that my notes were useless (only to them, of course).
Well, am sure most of my former classmates would have celphones nowadays, and I'm sure how they use der fones 2txt msgs wud b how I used 2ryt my notes in iskul which dey uterly hated! I'm surely having the last laugh :)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
For my first-ever post on this blog, am reproducing below a piece i wrote for my friend Ramon "Monching" Aragon who passed in the early hours of September 16, 2008 in Bangkok. He was a co-op trainer for the National Confederation of Co-operatives (NATCCO) of the Philippines for 18 years. He was 48 years old when he died. His body was brought back to the Philippines on September 18, and he was buried on September 21 in Paranaque City, Metro Manila. He was a very dear friend of mine (he's the second from the right in the picture, that's me to his right).
Monching—a Man for Others
When I was first told that my friend (and everybody’s friend) Ramon “Monching” H. Aragon had passed away earlier that fateful Tuesday, my mind sought to find the right words to capture what Monching was in his life and what he meant to the many people that he had left behind—family, friends, co-workers, co-operators. My mind raced back to events and activities that Monching and I both attended when I was still a NATCCO staff, and other co-op events where we still met even after I had left NATCCO, and also to our daily interaction as co-workers, and later our interaction still whenever I would visit NATCCO and he would be there. And knowing if he were in the
Monching and his jokes
Monching was a man for others. He was there with his witty jokes if we needed cheering up. And even if we didn’t need cheering up (and we didn’t want him around, heheh), he would still be there, with his jokes. Most funny, others not-too-funny but which still made us smile because he always delivered his jokes with facial expressions and hand gestures that conveyed warmth, more of like big brother cheering us up. And Monching, the big brother, would always remember something in each one of his friends that would be his take-off point in making his funny pangungulit (persistent teasing) to us (like he would always ask me if I’ve already seen my house cat that I lost years ago, which, he surmised, had committed suicide or something). Of course, there was always his FPJ-style pose that was always patok (a hit) (FPJ was Fernando Poe Jr., considered the "Action King" of Philippine movies, who had also recently passed away). But Monching was never pikon (easily hurt) (except maybe when we gave him the “shower” joke). Whatever ribbing he got back from us in return, he would take it with a happy disposition. I remember in one workshop where Monching was one of the participants who were asked to describe their real selves, he admitted that he was always the happy-go-lucky type. And his friends couldn’t agree more.
It’s hard to remember moments where Monching was in a serious mood. He was a jolly person, and he always liked others to be happy, too. In fact, I can remember only two moments that he would be in a serious mood—one, if his friends would engage him in a conversation about corrupt government officials whom he absolutely hated and always wanted to feed to the crocodiles, and, two—if he’s talking about co-operatives. Yes, Monching was THE dedicated co-op trainer. It seemed that he was happiest when he was conducting a seminar or training somewhere, whether for a small or big group. And he was among the most knowledgeable, skilled, and dedicated co-op trainers in the Philippine co-op movement. Like he was born into co-ops and meant to be a conveyor of the good news about co-ops. Which could actually be the case as his younger years were already spent around a co-op in his San Dionisio,
Monching the co-op trainer/educator
When Monching was conducting a training, everybody listened. Not only because his booming voice actually commanded attention but also because one could feel that what he was relaying about co-ops came from his heart. Not too long ago, the Philippine co-op movement lost to a fatal illness Ms Alma T. Gabud, another NATCCO staff, who, like Monching, breathed and lived co-operatives.