Monday, October 27, 2008

He moves in mysterious ways

In 1997, my parents and I moved from the Philippines’s capital city of Manila to the adjoining Quezon City (QC). It was quite a difficult decision for us to move out of Manila to take residence somewhere else because we had stayed in that beautiful, busy city for more than 40 years already, at that time, in the same house. But the constant floods that occurred almost all-year round in our area in Manila (even if the rain was not that strong—“flash floods” as they were, and my friend Monching would always joke that all it took was 10 lizards to pee at the same time to have our streets flooded) was a major convincing factor for our transfer. There was also the rather expensive cost of the needed renovations for our old house, which had stood in that corner lot since the 1950s. Our mostly wooden house was already showing many scars inflicted by time and the elements, and by various pests that got attracted by the moisture brought on by the floods. Our house was, in fact, just among the few remaining wooden, original houses in the area. Other similarly old, wooden houses nearby had already given way to concrete apartments and townhouses. We were also among the very few residents in the area who had their own houses. Many of our neighbors were renting the apartments and townhouses they were living at.

The decision
Weighing our opt
ions, 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 Manila house. Now, that is one of the early ways in which I know God was moving his hand to help our family transfer residences.

His hand
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 tran
saction 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 Manila home, with our things all properly bundled up and ready for transport. It was in our local Catholic church in Manila where I really and very immediately saw God’s hand moving. He paved the way for me to serve in the Mass for two consecutive Sundays, and He made sure to make it happen just before I transferred to QC. Before these two Sundays, I had never served in any way in this church, which was a few blocks away from our Manila home. I just went to Mass there and that was that. But in one of those two Sundays, while I was seated in church waiting for Mass to start, one of the women assisting in the Mass approached me and asked if I could be a collector for that Mass. Initially I wanted to refuse her because I was nervous. I had never done that thing before, much more touched even just the tip of the collection bag’s wooden pole. But, well, I said okay to her. Come collection time, I stood as if at the back of my mind I was answering God’s call, and made a beeline to the altar with the other collectors to get our collection bags. Going around the pews to gather the Mass goers’ contributions, it was quite an experience for me. Like I said, it was my first time to do such a thing, but I felt light-hearted after that.

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 Manila church. And I thanked God that He gave me the opportunity to serve Him at that church just before I left it, where incidentally I was baptized, and had studied Kindergarten in its parochial school. (image from

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The ex-General is back face the music (From Russia with Love,,or with Euro?), from the National Police Commission to the Ombudsman to the Senate to the Philippine media hot on his trail since the time he arrived at the Manila airport on October 21, 2008, returning home from Russia where he and his wife were held before departure for non-declaration of a huge amount of excess Euros (millions of Philippine pesos in conversion) (see previous post). Former Philippine National Police (PNP) Comptroller, retired general Eliseo dela Paz is the man of the moment, the scorching Philippine weather failing in comparison to the hotness of the seat he now occupies. There are early accusations of corruption, of a botched money-laundering scheme, with the former General in danger of losing his still-to-be-released retirement pay while also facing the possibility of spending the rest of his retirement years in jail. Or so say his accusers. Tomorrow he faces the Philippine Senate's investigation, with the feisty Senator Miriam D. Santiago leading the pack of senators hungry for information, for answers to questions long held back by the General's prolonged stay in Russian territory. Now, the Senator, head of the Senate's foreign relations committee, is not known for mincing words and questions against corrupt government personnel. But she is also known for knowing how to give it, to play it up when the news camera is focused on her. Here's hoping she will not use the investigation only as a stage for her sometimes seemingly theatrical acts. Here's hoping the investigation will be worth the taxpayers' money. And that it will lead to strengthened laws that will help the Philippines be a better country. It is, after all, an investigation in aid of legislation, as Senate investigations are premised to be. The General said upon his arrival in Manila that in all his years of service in the force, he had been a committed official. And what happened in Russia was a "lapse" on his part. I wish him luck that in the many investigations he will have to face in the following days, he will be acquitted if he really wasn't into doing some hanky-panky.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Classic Vocal Standards

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; the ames brothers pic from

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PNP at it again?

The recent news that a recently retired top cop of the Philippines and his wife were held at a Russian airport prior to their departure back to the Philippines is really disturbing. They are still holed up at a Russian hotel as of today (I think the incident happened last Friday yet) while they are awaiting documents from the Philippines (to be translated to Russian) that will supposedly prove that the excessive amount of undeclared euros that they were carrying to fly back home is "legal money." Philippine National Police (PNP) top brass back home are now busy explaining to the media that the big money that the retired cop and wifey were carrying was for contingency, in case they and their co-Filipino delegates to the convention in Russia would suddenly need money in far-away Russia/Europe. But the inquisitive Filipino media is also asking other questions aside from the origin of the large amount of money. Questions like why is this former top cop still in the official delegation when he's already retired, albeit just recently? And whose paying for the expenses of the four wives of four Filipino official (government/police) delegates, especially since the Philippine government is now on a cost-cutting binge? I just hope that all this ends well. If not, this could be one more proof for some Filipinos who always find (dis)pleasure in saying that even (Filipino) cops, just like ordinary criminals, are very good in breaking the very laws that they're supposed to implement.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Finally, a footbridge…

Up to until a year ago, I was among just a few people who would cross North Ave., the street fronting the SM North Edsa Mall, Quezon City, navigating our way through a small opening in the fence that blocked the middle island of the street. We were crossing to get a jeepney ride, usually, at the other side of this wide street, as the nearest official jeepney terminal is still many meters away on the left side of SM, and the long and tall footbridge crossing EDSA was also many meters away on SM’s right side. And it was hard to go to these two spots if you’re carrying many grocery bags from SM, as was usual in my case (and I wouldn’t want to spend so much more on taxi fare). It wasn’t really illegal to cross that street from SM--the genius traffic enforcers just wanted to make the pedestrians suffer a little more, heheh.

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 North Ave., it’s a big headache for the traffic enforcers (and the mall guards) on how to control the flow of the people and the increased number of vehicular traffic. And believe me, the not-so-efficient-trafficking skills of these enforcers is even a bigger headache for the pedestrians and the vehicle drivers.

Well, the good news is that a footbridge (although a small one) is now being built over North Ave., connecting the sidewalks on both sides. The construction started a few weeks ago with the laying of big posts on the sidewalks. Yesterday, a large metal sheet with small posts was already up there on the center of the road. Hopefully, the footbridge will be usable next month, when even more people and more vehicles will traversing along this mall avenue because of the coming holiday season. What a comfort that will be, indeed! (I have to ask my friend Tess who works in Ayala company on who financed the footbridge. Did the Sy family ([of SM Mall with branches all over the Philippines] and Ayala family [of Trinoma Mall and other big malls in the metropolis] finally cooperate and put their money together? It will be gratifying to know if they indeed do cooperate, and not just compete, with each other.)