Saturday, September 30, 2006

Milenyo and Alzheimer's Disease

It's been two days after Milenyo, the worst storm that hit Manila since 1995. This is the first storm the directly hit Manila after eleven years. Honestly, it caught me by surprise. I have not been listening or reading the news lately and was surprised to be told that there would be no classes the following day while going home from work Wednesday. I never thought this would be different. I was used to signal no. 2 being declared a non-school day. Little did I know that we would be hard hit by the storm.

Anyway, I woke up early that Thursday knowing that my wife had to stay in the hospital with her sister who was going under the knife that day. I was left alone with the kids and my mother-in-law. For once, Pagasa did not miss this time. As it had predicted, the storm started raging at 12:00 noon. I would not have worried much but my mother-in-law who had suddenly been stricken with alzheimer's was very frightened. She's 82 years old. As some of you know, this is not my first time to have been acquainted with Alzheimers. My first experience with the disease was in Canada. My friend's husband, Terry, (God bless his soul) was my first encounter with someone afflicted with the disease. I never thought my mother was going that route already. She was showing signs of being very forgetful but we never suspected it to be the beginnings of Alzheimer's. She's been suffering from that disease for almost three years now. She's 87.

My mother-in-law's affliction is something else. She was okay, doing house chores when she got the flu, probably taking it from me. You see, I was bedridden during my birthday. She was doing the laundry then. Suddenly, she got sick and the following morning, my wife decided to take her to the hospital. Her mind plummetted since then. It was so abrupt.

Going back to the storm, when I saw how my mother-in-law was frightened by the gust of wind and the downpour, I couldn't help worry about my mother's condition, too. This made me think about her and her affliction. I made a tiny little poem for her and this is how it goes:

Is she really? (Working title)

This is where alzheimer finally takes me.
My mother - alone in her bed

with neither memory nor care.
She is nothing but a shell

fleshy mollusk meat gone
the soup down to the last gulp.

Like the debris found in the morning
of a full night's revelry

confetti strewn thick on the pavement
amid trash of firecracker paper.

A birdcage without the bird
or a flower without the scent.

This is what she finally seemed to be

With probing eyes and withered hands
she held my face!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I've been tagged!

This is long overdue.
Bugsy tagged me to name 7 songs I am into right now. Well, they're not all songs. Some of them are more appropriately referred to as tunes. I am fond of the guitar and so it's just natural that I would be listening to guitar works by who I consider to be masters of the instrument. I have too many favorite songs/tunes that it's so hard to compress them to just seven. So, instead, I am giving the albums where some of them are found. As I told Bugsy, I don't think the young ones might not know these artists as most of them had been popular during my teen aged years. Anyway, here's my list:

1. Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life" especially "Knocks me off my feet"
2. Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover"
3. Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" from the G3 Live album" - Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Eric Johnson
4. Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing and Castle's in the Sand" by Tuck Andres
5. Chicago's "Question 67-68"
6. Al di Meola, John Mclaughlin and Paco di Lucia in concert -
7. Tower of Power's "Sparkling in the Sand" and "Don't Change Horses"

I think it's customary to keep this tag going so I think I'd like to look at the lists of my friends; author and former dj Batjay, rocker and lead guitarist Kat, and pansitan's madame Ate Siena

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Filipinos as a people do not have a philosophy similar to Western tradition of thought. We do not have the likes of Plato, Socrates or France's Jean Paul Sarte, Rousseau and the like. We are a predominantly Chirstian country with the majority being Catholic, thanks to the Spaniards. Hence, the closest we can be to a Western philosophy is Christian which, ironically was handed to us by Westerners when it started in the East where we are located. And yet, apart from our religion, it is not that we do not have a philosophy to guide our lives for we do. We do have a common set of values with wihich we see the world. These are guiding principles that govern our lives from time immemorial. This is a kind of folk wisdom handed to us by our forefathers that has withstood the test of time. Emerita Quito liken these philosophy to the German volksgeist, or a collective sense or diwa of a given set of people. I am referring to our Bahala na which can be attributed to leaving everything to God (probably originating from the word Bathala or God); Hiya (shame), ningas cogon (procrastination) and pakikisama camaraderie or group loyalty. Before you raise your eyebrows saying that these are negative traits we have inherited from our forefathers, Quito maintains that there are positive effects to these traits.

At any rate, let me talk about pakikisama. This word is very important to a Filipino as one would not want to be seen as not having one. We should always be a team player. We should always go with the community and its wishes. We do not want to be branded an outcast. Especally that we have a devotion to the family which extends beyond imagination. Thus, we have friends call our parents "tatay" or "nanay", the househelp calling us "kuya" or "ate", etc. denoting closeness. It is a sense of shame to be referred to as "walang pakisama" or one who does not know how to go along. As has been stated earlier, this trait carries with it both positive and negative outcomes. Because ot this trait, we learn that our lives depend on one another for survival and that "peace or lack of dissension is a constant goal." Yet, it also brings about being blind to evil doings "like graft and corruption in order to conserve peace and harmony in a group at the expense of one's comfort."

I have been feeling the pangs of pakikisama's negativite effects lately. You see we have a neighbor who had just moved in. The thing is we live in a very small subdivision where two cars besides each other can hardly be accomodated. If you happen to live in the middle of two blocks like I do, you can park your car outside your garage but at the risk of having it bumped on the sides. Me and my old neighbors have an unwritten understanding that should it happen that our vehicle is blocking the way, all that has to be done is to honk the horn and the owner of the car will move it immediately. My new neighbor lives at the corner where we pass everyday. The guy has a garage but he has this nasty habit of parking his car right at the middle of the road making it entirely impassable. Not only that! The family is fond of parties and they would literally close the entire road blocking it with tables and chairs and you guessed it correctly - drinking till midnight. Nevermind that the teen-aged family member would blast their stereo every afternoon while people are napping. I don't anyway.

I never say a word about the disturbance they are causing out of "pakikisama". However, they are beginning to become a nuisance. When I got home today, their car was parked again outside of the house. I couldn't get through as there was not enough room. I asked my son to politely tell the owner to please move it and let me pass first before he put it back where he wanted it parked. To my dismay, it was the househelp who went out only to tell me that her boss was out for an errand and won't be back for a while. I had no other way but to find another route praying that there won't be any cars blocking the way or it will be a long, arduous way to back up. Bwisit di ba?

I guess it is high time to demand from them to exhibit pakikisama for a change!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A little boy's request

We get lonely when a loved one has fallen ill with a deadly disease. Our hearts bleed even more when the loved one is a child, just beginning to know the world in which he lives in. This is the sad predicament of Pyro's parents and relatives who have to suffer with this 3 year old, the ordeal of battling cancer and the emotional and financial strains associated with the disease. Pyro is the 3 year old nephew of blogger friend, mec who has created a separate blog for her cancer-stricken nephew here. Pyro could have been playing with his relatives and friends today but because of the disease, has to stay in the hospital for chemo treatment instead. This had been ongoing for months now. The little boy can only stand so much.

Logically, a very frail boy would find heroes in strong, well-built, healthy young men. And who else can fit the category better than wrestler Batista. Realizing that the legendary wrestler is in town, little Pyro always talked about wanting to meet him in person. And this brought a glimmer of hope to his family as this would be one good reason for him to find meaning in life and continue fighting the big C. However, Pyro is so frail and too small to even go out of the hospital to see his idol. Thus began the family's crusade to find the handlers of the famous wrestler through email and other means to request for Batista to visit the boy. To help, the famous cat blogger Cath, had the idea of asking our friends to blog about it to somehow extend the reach hoping that it would melt Batista's heart and grant a very sick child's wish.

So, if you, by any chance, has a way of contacting Batista, please let me know or better yet, I will give you my friend's contact number. Thank you in advance.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

pictures galore

On July 28th, my family joined my sister-in-law's family to celebrate her birthday! We went to Balay sa Indang in Cavite, some two hours ride away from where we live and boy did we enjoy the day. Balay is a resort managed by my wife's friend. As it was off-season, we literally had the huge place by ourselves.

the birthday celebrant and host Posted by Picasa

My children and their cousins never minded the rain and the cold as they all went for a dive at the pool like as if it were summer.

my sons and nephew Posted by Picasa

It was a network of big, spacious, three-room cottages that contain three big master beds and a nice toilet and bath. As the place is near Tagaytay and is as cold, the owners did not see it necessary to have the rooms air-conditioned. The Asian theme, probably Thai, cannot be missed. Although the food, which is served at the main house, is a mixture of different cuisines like occidental and oriental origin.

sawadee Posted by Picasa

this could have been our living room! Posted by Picasa

what beautiful creatures! My babies! Posted by Picasa

Getting there is half the fun, though!

Mush!!! Posted by Picasa

You get to relax and meditate on life.. and ask... "Where did I go wrong? :-)

om! om! om!  Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 08, 2006

One lousy day!

It's 1:00 am. Since the day is over, I think I can write about it now. I don't usually write about how my day was but that is more of a general rule and as such, carries with it some exceptions. This is one of them. You see, unlike my favorite Alexander Solzhenitzyn story One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich" which actually was an ironical happy day for the persona of the story when in fact, under normal circumstances would have been a day in hell, my day did not really fare well at all and no irony can mask it off. You see, I'm down with the flu since Tuesday. I got to work on Tuesday alright but only stayed inside the clinic the whole day which forced me to stay at home since yesterday. I think I got the flu. The bad thing is my wife had to take the kids to school on a cab as it is their final exams for this term. So, I am home, inutile, waiting for my family to come home while watching tv, which I swear had not been turned off 24 hours for two days in a row I am just awaiting for it to blow. (Wow talk about appositives and run on sentences... what can I do? I told you I was sick, didn't I?) My eldest could have taken her younger siblings to school, waited for them and took them home but she can't as she was in Hong Kong enjoying herself for working too hard on her thesis (I think she deserves that so never mind worrying about paying for it later...)

To make matters worse, today, my mother-in-law had gotten it and had to be taken to the hospital by my wife (such a wonderful daughter, I tell you. If any of my kids can inherit even half of the care and attention she has for her mom, I can rest assured about my olden days), as she had surprisingly weakened abruptly, not even being able to stand by herself, making the doctors confine her. Well, I couldn't drive my wife and mother-in-law to the hospital we had to ask a neighbor do it for us. And I couldn't pick up my daughter from the airport so we had to ask my sister-in-law and her son do it. I know, inutile!

Nope, the day past had not been a walk in the park. Who wouldn't feel that way? I have never felt so crappy, lousy, weak and so out of it. Too bad because it was my birthday. Can you at least forgive me if I say it was my 35th? I wish!

Thanks to my friends who remembered and greeted me in whatever form was available to them. You don't know how you made my spirits higher than it was.

Monday, September 04, 2006

It is now a book!

Book cover Posted by Picasa

My favorite blog, Kwentong Tambay, is now in solid form. Yes, it is now a book! Its owner, or should I say, its author, ( a guy known to the blogosphere as Batjay) is a good friend of mine who is actually behind the creation of this blog. He was the one who told me to create a blog about teaching (although this one metamorphosed into something else, I think). Just goes to show that this guy's full of ideas. He also helped me find my way through bloglandia as I was always lost. He patiently answered my queries about codes and everything until I could be left on my own.

The book has an introduction by no less than bigtime writers like MLQIII and Sassy Lawyer. I assure you that this will be a very pleasurable read as the man is wit, humor, and passion combined. Filipinos can easily identify themselves with the experiences found in the book. After all, Kwentong Tambay as a blog would not have been one of the best blogs there is for nothing.

Sorry I couldn't write about it earlier as my friend is making the book a surprise to his lovely wife Jet with this. Hopefully the book will be on sale at the local bookstores soon. When that happens, go get your copies immediately!