It’s Nanay’s 90th! 

It’s our Nanay’s 90th! On February 1 to be exact.

This, I believe, is our first picture together. It was the end of the first grade and this was minutes before we went up the stage for the recognition rites. The multi-layered sampaguita garland around my neck was care of Nanay. I was only 5th Honor but I smelled the grandest among them all! As in you could really smell me from three rows back! Haha!

That’s how Nanay really is to the family. She wants everyone to feel special and her method is largely based on how she thinks of you. Different strokes. Still, in my case, there was this time that she carried me piggyback through three Barangays just to bring me to the municipal health center because I couldn’t walk. I was on the 3rd grade then and the mountains of San Pedro were still thick with trees and since pavement was a luxury, we walked on mud.

She badgered me with “kailan ka ba mag-aasawa” the last time I visited her. I tried to talk her out of it but we went back to the same question every time. I gave up. And then I realized that it’s just Nanay being Nanay. I suppose that she doesn’t want me na magmukhang kawawa without a family of my own because she might not be there anymore when I’d “need” assurance that someone still cares.

Yes, the caring never stops. A mother through and through. For that and everything else, we are endlessly grateful.

Happy 90th, Nanay!


A Guide to Arguments FOR and AGAINST the Reproductive Health Bill

A Guide to Arguments FOR and AGAINST the Reproductive Health Bill

I highly recommend this guide (click the title) created by the John J. Caroll Institute on Church and Social Issues, especially to those who see themselves at a loss when asked whether they are PRO or AGAINST the Reproductive Health Bill.

By the way, just for information, the subject of the current raucous in the Lower House is HB 4244 or “Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development.” There will be a plenary voting on 07 August 2012 to decide whether to terminate or continue the floor interpellation and debate on the said Bill. A copy of the bill may be obtained from the House of Representatives website (

As always: be informed, check the label.


This matrix has been prepared by a group of Catholics who feel that a systematic comparison of the arguments for and against the reproductive health (RH) bill may still serve some purpose at this juncture. It may help to bring the debate from the emotional temper which has characterized it thus far, to a more rational temper in which both sides attempt to comprehend each other’s perspectives. It is hoped that this presentation will allow each side to view the other’s argumentation as the legitimate offering of reasons in good faith which ought to characterize a democratic process of deliberation. Such a process must be valued equally by all who are committed to living together in a democracy, be they Catholic or non-Catholic, pro- or anti-contraception. Questions in the final column are provided to aid further reflection, with a view to clarifying positions and, perhaps, to building compromises that are morally and politically acceptable to both sides.

Eleanor R. Dionisio

Disturbing the Peace

You know the cliché “things happen for a reason”? Call it incidental. Or random. Or whatever. But they do. They really do.

Some of you may have known, through Facebook or kwento, how excited I was with my new work. I even told some of my friends that it’s like a dream job that came knocking on my door. Yes, I am only one and a half-month old here but what’s not to like? It’s Advocacy work for education. It really felt as though my 31 years was a big preparation for this one.

But then there’s this guy.

Prior to my meeting with him, however, there seemed two far out, unrelated things that I never suspected.

The first was a former colleague’s chat status that had been there forever. It’s the first stanza of a prayer by a certain Sir Francis Drake:

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

I see it whenever she’s online but I just often ignore it. I doubted the prayer. I am pleased with my job. No need for disturbance of some sort.

The second was getting hooked to a morning radio show over at 99.5 RT. It has been my constant companion since I started this long commute to my new workplace. It was only a recent find and it took my attention away from The Morning Rush on RX 93.1. I think it’s the quality of the conversation and lesser commercial load that keep me tuned in. Anyway, I initially thought that it’s called The Sam and Gibb Show but Google search revealed to me one day that the program is actually entitled, “Disturbing the Peace.” I have no idea what they meant by it but disturb my peace it did for I was an avid follower of Chico and Delamar until I came across it.

Two separate events through Wednesday morning when along came this guy.

He wanted our office to help him in his advocacy for the coconut farmers involved in the coconut levy fund issue. So, after a few email and text exchanges we agreed to meet over lunch, Wednesday. The short story of it was that my peace was disturbed after the meeting. The long story involved some kind of introspection.

A 31-year old lawyer working at the Presidential Commission on Good Governance. He was incensed by the Supreme Court’s questionable decision on one aspect of the coco levy funds thus he took it as a personal mission to help the coconut farmers. He was hoping to connect with us because he believes that the public should be engaged in this discussion and that schools are where this should be happening.

The disturbance came when during the course of our conversation, I gradually found this guy admirable. He was humble, sincere, and passionate with what he’s doing. And never missing in his words was his profound relationship with God. In his email to our President he said, “I have taken this challenge as a personal advocacy; that it happens to align with (even if its no longer within the scope of) my work, I attribute to Divine Providence, more than anything else.

It is not about me,” he told me. This work is about the poor farmers who have been fighting for their rights for four decades now. The task was just to help them get there, much like Moses who was just contented to see the Promised Land but was not destined to enter it.

We agreed on a somewhat general plan of action before we parted.

When I got back to the office, I had with me some degree of unease. I felt lacking. The feeling of contentment was challenged.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that the first two stories had meaning. Maybe that’s what this whole disturbing the peace is about. Maybe it was a message that the universe was trying to put across–that I should dream bigger and aim higher. I need to be something more. I need to do something more. And more importantly, I should be praying more deeply and profoundly so as not to easily get jaded by routinary everyday rituals.

I think this applies to everyone as well. It’s a creative, healthy tension that we can all entertain… to make ourselves better and the society, too.

Things really happen for a reason and I’m glad that this has happened to me at this point. The prayer after all is wise and the program nice.

A Letter to Sir Dexter (Happy Teachers’ Day!)

James needed to write a teacher a Thank You Letter for his English class so we wrote this letter to his class adviser, Mr. Dexter Ramos, Araullo High School, Manila.

Happy Teachers’ Day to all Teachers!


Dear Sir Dexter,


I am writing this letter together with Kuya Butch, my guardian, because according to him, it is not everyday that we get to show our appreciation to the people who, in their own ways, have been big blessings in our lives—and you are one of those.

I am not sure if you can still remember the day when he went to school to see you for the first time. That was June 21. He was eager to meet you that time because like you, he also took on that big responsibility of taking care of me while I am studying here in Manila. He offered to bring me here to Manila to study because he believes that many opportunities will open up for me if I take high school and college here. It sounded good as an idea but when I finally got here, he admits that he realized that he does not know so much about raising a teenager—my Kuya is single. So, he really wanted to talk to you to at least get the assurance that I will be safe, treated well, and have good learning experiences while in Araullo High School, while he figures out the set up of his life.

He counted on you, being my class adviser, and the other teachers as well. And we are happy that we are all doing well so far. For this, Kuya and I are really thankful. We know that we really cannot predict how exactly our day will go but the assurance that there is someone looking over me while in school is comforting enough.

Today is your day and it is with sincere prayer that we ask the Great Teacher to bless and guide you.

A big thanks to you! Happy Teachers’ Day!



James and Butch


Foreword: Bossypants

What I like about autobiographies/memoirs is that it offers me a peek of what’s happening in another person’s mind given certain realities. I’d like to know how other people’s thought processes go when, for example, everybody thinks they are different or when a sudden change of fortune happens to a family. There is so much insight that can come out of reading memoirs as people’s thoughts and reactions are factors of personality, values, culture, and even exposure to the social environment.

I took an interest on Tina Fey when I saw her impersonation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live on the road to the historic US election of 2008. The comedic timing was spot on and I thought it was played out intelligently. And then I learned later on that she’s made a career out of improv acting and writing for Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock. The movie Mean Girls was her creation, too. I became a fan in an instant.

I moved heaven and earth just to have a copy of Bossypants on my Kindle — it came to a point when Amazon wrote me a letter asking me to fax them a proof of my US citizenship. What happened was that since the Kindle version wasn’t available to the Asia-Pacific region yet, I faked a US address just so I could buy a copy. I changed my address back to Philippines soon after I purchased the book. Ironically, though, I “changed” my citizenship just around the time when we were celebrating our Independence Day. Sorry naman, Lolo Andres at Lolo Pepe.

The book was hilarious as expected, especially the part where she gives tips on how to do well on photo shoots. The bits on her life as an improv actress, how she made it to TV, and living the life in that industry were good threads as well. The inclusion of the script of the Sarah Palin skit was also a big treat. But above all that, what I loved most about this memoir is that I am reading another writer’s mind and I was inspired to keep on writing. That made my little act of deceit worth it.

I loved her as Sarah Palin on SNL. I loved her even more as creator, writer, and as Liz Lemon on 30 Rock. In enjoyed her portrayal of Claire Foster on Date Night. She was included in Time magazine’s list of 100 influential people of 2009. And a recent commentary in the same magazine said that maybe the Democratic Party is waiting for her to do another “Sarah Palin” on SNL so they could again pull off an Obama win in 2012.

Bossypants is an intimation of the wonderful person behind all those things that I mentioned above… In her own words.


There’s a great deal that I don’t about the world I live in so I try to take in as much as I can. I am not the one who has lots of patience but I also do not give up easily on people and things.

Just this morning, however, I’ve added another item on my AbaShet List (Abandon Shet – something borrowed from Gang Badoy): EastWest Bank. It now joins the ranks of things I boycott (if it’s an establishment) like Chowking and Manila Adventist Medical Center in Pasay City; and those that I do not mind (if it’s a person or a group) like L, D, N, and B. They are on my AbaShet list mainly because they are not needed in my portion of the universe.

EastWest Bank and I started off on the wrong foot. My first billing statement went to the 2nd floor of our office building and not on the 20th, where I am and it took some days before the billing statement found its way up. As a result, I had to pay some fine because I settled my account late. I called them up to rectify the mistake on my billing address and, if possible, to reverse the late payment charge as it wasn’t really my mistake. They got it right only after a couple more phone calls and some three more billing cycles. They never got back to me on the reversal of charges. But I let it pass.

I elected to maintain my now almost two-year old credit card with them for two reasons: (1) they waived my membership fee for the second year and (2) it’s the card I enlisted under an alternate Apple ID account, bearing a fake US address, to enable me to buy music at the Apple iTunes store and to buy ebooks at the iBookstore. It was supposed to be a happy co-existence with both of us benefiting from each other–or maybe not, as I always pay the exact amount every month thus, they are not earning from me, but still.

But with barely two months to go before my 2nd year is up and they are about to charge me a (waivable) P1,500.00 membership fee there came the straw that broke the camel’s back. And I’m decided–I’ll close down my account with them.

It was this certain Melanie that sealed the deal. She was the customer service representative who received my call this morning. I was telling her how come that I still haven’t received my billing statement (I always receive it on the 2nd week of each month) when I called them up early May to inform them that I am transferring office and that I’d like them to send my statement at my home address.

And then the most disrespectful thing happened while I was rambling off my complaint: she muted the phone. I could tell because the other line went into this silence much like when they are putting calls on hold. It was as if I wasn’t talking to anyone. She came back only after I said “Hello” several times. And it happened twice. My suspicion was even affirmed when she failed to repeat the last statement I said when I asked her to. And only God knows what she was doing the whole time. Was she sniggering? Was she making faces? Was she telling the others that it’s another one of those irate callers? I wouldn’t know. But boy did I blow my top. And I didn’t calm down until I have talked to her manager to express my indignation.

Like many of us, I am a consumer. Some businesses call us their Clients and some even call us their Partners or any other names, depending on their philosophy. Muting the phone while a customer/client/partner is expressing a concern is bad customer service. It’s like shutting me up when I what I just wanted to tell her was that I want to pay my credit card bill on time. I am a good customer like that.

Oh, Melanie. Hell hath no fury like a customer put on mute.