Random thoughts... Happy Thoughts... Sad thoughts... Anything goes!!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Pied Piper

In church tonight, before the mass started, a little girl of 2 or 3 years seated at my back kept touching me and I would glance at her and she would smile and I would smile back, then she'd touch me again and I would smile. Her mother would be a bit embarrassed but she too would smile. Finally, when she touched me again for the nth time, I smiled and extended my hand and she got it and put it in her head for blessing (mano) so I gave her my blessing. Then middle of the mass, another kid of 7, a daughter of one of my “sisters” in the community came to me to get my hand so again I extended it for the “mano”, during communion as I was going back to my seat another kid of 8 or 9, also a granddaughter on one of my “sis” came to me for the Mano and after the mass a boy came to me to say hello, I remembered him as the boy who told me to tell her mother to join the handmaids when I visited the wake of his father (I just passed by and decided to pay my respect and condole even if I did not know the dead but when I looked at the casket it turned out his face was familiar) then the son of my sis who was already in 4th year high school and really big also came to me for the Mano blessing.

Boy am I going old! :-) It is usually older people that people goes to for the mano… many people my age would not extend their hands if kids wants to “mano” and say that they are still young and would usually opt for a kiss instead but i'm not really a beso-beso (kissing on cheeks when greeting) person and prefer the mano since I get the chance to say “God bless you!

When I was walking home from church, another kid ran after me and tried to outpace and turn back just to look at me… didn’t really know why he did it but I smiled at him nevertheless and a man from the sides said “Uy humabol pa para tingnan lang ang mukha! (Oh, he even ran after you just to see your face!).

Sometimes I am amazed at children’s reaction towards me! Many kids would actually smile at me when they see me (on the other hand there are also those that acts shocked and shout "Uy ang laki!" (Oh, big!) and I would say “ang taas hindi ang laki” (Tall not big!), I guess that because children are basically curious and they react when they see a lady taller than most Filipinos.

I even remember one incident when my sister and I went to the province. My nieces go home for lunch then go back to school and we decided to accompany them back to school. I was really surprised when the school children we passed through suddenly swarmed at me and walked with me to school! I was tall and I was surrounded by little kids and I felt like I was the Pied Piper of Hamelin! When we got to the school yard, even the teachers in the classrooms came out to see what was happening. In a way I felt embarrassed and I told them all to enter the classroom! They were not moving and as if they were in a trance and I had to motion (sort of shoo) them to get inside the rooms! To this date my nieces could still not forget it and of course so have I.

Over the years I've become used to getting different reactions from people especially kids that sees me for the first time but sometimes I still get amazed when many decide to pay attention to me at the same time...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Life energy

Saw this in the headline this morning:
Congress Bicam panel OKs biofuel bill (P35B annual saving seen)

There has been a lot of interest on biofuel and other alternative sources of energy not just in our country but other parts of the world, particularly non-oil producing countries.

Just a few days ago, I noted that Flying V, finally opened their Biofuel Center outlet in Philcoa (Philippine Coconut Authority) compound. Flying V is the first to market biodiesel in the Philippines and uses coconut oil as their additive. Yesterday, my aunt sent me a text message informing me that 2 people are interested in leasing our land in the province and one of them plans to convert the ricefield to sugarcane. I guess the high cost of sugar plus the ethanol prospect has brought back to life sugarcane plantations in Negros.

The bill’s purpose is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel from the Middle East and to reduce pollution in our country. The article even mentioned that the bill will save the country 35 Billion Pesos (P35,000,000,000.00 <-- see? I wanted to stress the zeroes!), that’s a lot of money to be saved!!! I don’t really know how they came up with their figure, even if I’m a CPA, I am not really that good in numbers. However, I’ve read a US article before (couldn’t find it anymore) that says that it is not really cost effective to produce ethanol as an alternate of gasoline considering the cost involved to produce, generate, store and transport is higher. Some also says that the current hype in the US for ethanol is the result of a successful farmers’ lobby. I also found a test (comparison of power and efficiendy of ethanol 85 vs. unleaded gasoline for single cylinder, air-cooled engines) which shows that ethanol fuel efficiency is reduced by 27% and the price of ethanol should be 50% lower than the price of unleaded gasoline for the cost to be comparable. If the bill’s authors computed the savings volume-wise only and not on fuel efficiency then the savings would really not amount to so much. So the savings mentioned by the Bicam is not really reliable, add to that of course is the common knowledge that savings in one government venture most likely ends up as a government expense in another venture…hehehe… but of course the prospect of cleaner environment would form a big factor.

Actually I see the need for such kinds of legislature, we really need to have alternative sources of energy since it is hard to be dependent on other countries and I wish (I pray!!!) the bill serves its purpose and really help in the development and growth of our country considering we have no oil reserves unlike the middle east countries and some of our neighbors. Still I have this crazy recurring thought that there’s actually a HUGE deposit of oil in our country, but the Good Lord is not just allowing it to be discovered at the current moment. He is waiting for the perfect time when most of the government officials no longer serve their interest FIRST and are really concerned for the Filipino people so that the benefit of having oil, of being a rich country trickles down to the Filipino people. And when that time comes, it is not only OFWs (from the Middle EAst and othre parts of the world) that will be heading back home but people from other countries would flock as well. And in which case "OCWs" would no longer be a common term to mean Pinoys working abroad but to foreigners working here.

Hmmm... crazy thought but sometimes BIG things can come from random thoughts (even crazy thought?) who knows it just might happen!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Erik!

Today is the birthday of a good online friend,
though we don't really chat nor do we email often,
I think he is a neat person and on this special day
I wish him lots of love and blessings!

To Erik:

May you continually be showered by Janet and all your family and friends with love!

... okay it will be neat if your enemies, that is if you have any, also shower you with love!!! (hmmm... in that case they ain't enemies anymore, right?) :-)

May you always enjoy the little things in life... not just your projects like the garage and the patio for the "missus" but being with friends and enjoying nature!
... i think your place is neat with all those trees that surround you and I could just imagine the distant sounds of ringing rocks!

and may your guardian angel watch over and protect you always!

Hope you have a great day celebrating today and that you carry the happiness through all your life! God bless you and again, Maligayang bati sa iyong kaarawan!

I still get a kick listening to our duet of Hold on together and hope that we get to do another soon! :-) and okay the file is big that the site would only host it for a short while but i thought it would be neat to post our duet online, it is a bit noisy but i still think your very nice second voice blended well with my voice, it is like we were actually together singing it!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Snatch from fear!

Yesterday morning when I got to our building someone mentioned that the fast food restaurant there was held up early in the morning but that nothing was taken since the culprit was caught.

There have been different versions of the stories going around from yesterday till today on how the man was able to get in into the store but one thing that was consistent was that the culprit is a vendor-helper in one of the stores also in the building. One story I heard was that the Manager of the fast food store went to their office which was separate from the store when suddenly a man came from the ceiling and jumped him. The man had a knife but the Manager fought and called out the guard outside the door. When the guard opened the door, he was going to shoot the guy but the Manager told him not to anymore. So they brought him instead to the police station which was just nearby. Another story says that the guard noticed some movements in the kitchen area and noted that the man, who was not in uniform was trying to open drawers and vaults so he and the Manager apprehended him and there was some fight and chasing but the man could not leave the building since the doors were still closed and they caught him.

So although there were different versions on how it really happened, the culprit was really caught and brought to the police station. It would have been so easy to press charges since he was caught in the act but I heard that the management did not file any charges despite prodding from the police so that the man was already set free in the afternoon. So I asked “why?” and one said that the owner said that nobody was hurt anyway and that the man may have a family to support and that his family and friends might retaliate and hurt other personnel if they filed charges. What??? The owner was scared of what his family and friends would do the personnel to retaliate! But wouldn’t that encourage him to do it again since he knows that he got away? What if he did it again and one of us is harmed??? We don’t even know what the man looked like to be on guard! Well, they are not thinking on those line for they honestly believe that someone would retaliate for him if they filed charges since it has happened in the past that vendors there united and hurt one of the guards. They are scared on what would happen next in they push through with the case.

I think in most other countries, they don’t even have to weigh things to decide on the course of action they are going to take. Once a criminal is caught, then he is brought to justice. Somehow they are secured that the police would be able to protect them from future threats but that’s not the case here so that you think twice, thrice even more before considering pressing any charges.

I remember a few months back in our neighborhood, the Barangay Tanods (those roving the neighborhood for protection) caught a criminal element while his companions got away. They pressed charges on the one caught and he said that his friends would get back at them. Then early one morning, while one of the Tanod was preparing for the day, a man in motorbike shot him at close range (there were still blood on the street when I passed it). He died on the spot and no one could do something, they were stunned! The man in motorbike he even said that he would also get back at others. Now some people don’t want to go to our place, afraid that they too might get killed!

My mom tells me not to go home late since there are a lot of bad elements, of course I try to come home early (well not really that early since I usually go home at 8:00 pm but there are still people on the street when I walk home) but there are times when I just can’t help it. I used to be afraid of dogs only when I come home late but now I really am alert while walking home late at night. Yeah even if I go on with my routine, I know that somehow deep within I’m afraid too! In fact I’ve already cut some of my walking from the office and I look at people when I take my ride and avoid FX that have lots of male passengers, sometimes even getting off in the middle of my ride if I feel real uneasy. Gosh, sometimes I feel like I’m nuts to be suspicious of people but I reason that it is better safe than sorry… still one can’t really let fear take control of one’s life, otherwise you’re doomed!!! Ahh, this has definitely got to go away!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Vain too?

Ohhh my butt hurts! I sat for a long long time to have my hair done in the salon!!!

Geez, I’m vain after all!!! Actually it is my first time to have my hair rebonded plus plus and my hair is really soft and straight and shiny but I shouldn’t put it behind my ears nor put a clip nor tie it for a long time if I want it to remain straight. I realized it could be very difficult for me especially at work but eventually I’ll get used to it (well I certainly hope so, or I’ll be tempted to cut my hair really short!).

Anyway, I was at the salon for a long time that I’ve seen lots of customers come in for different services. Lots of male customers too, mostly teenagers (some even with their moms) and young professionals (at least gauging by their appearances).

What struck me most was one of the male customers. He and his girlfriend (or wife?) were both having services. I couldn’t help myself from glancing since it was my first time to see a man with a towel in his head… like the towel placed in the head of women when shampooed. All of the customers, including male customers are shampooed first before having a hair cut but they towel dry the hair for short time only. His was not for a short time, he was seated in the sofa for quite a while and I kept thinking how he could stand having a towel in his hair for a long time. I was wondering what kind of treatment he was having! Oh, how I liked to ask him! But, of course, I didn’t. But when he left and the Manager sat near me, I couldn’t contain myself anymore and asked him (or should I say her since he was wearing a bra?). He said the guy was having a hair spa plus he had lip spa also. A lip spa??? It was my first time to hear of such service! Just what do they do when someone asks of a lip spa? Do they scrub the lips also like what they do in a foot spa??? Nope, he said they put mud pack on the lips so the dead skin are taken out, then they put balm so it gets real smooth and soft. He added that lots of men actually have that service. I smiled and he added that many men are vain too! Well the guy was certainly one of those “many” since I saw him glancing also over the brochure of services and asking how much the foot spa was (another service!)

Then I smiled again as I remembered a quote from the bible…

Qohelet said in Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!”

Of course he meant something else but I suddenly thought Vanity, vanity, everyone HAS some form of vanity!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Earrings galore

Just came upon this site saying that our former first lady, Imelda Marcos will be launching her own jewelry collection. Hmmm.... guess she’ll be into competition though with my boss who has taken up creating dangling earrings as a hobby. Unlike Imelda, however, she has no plans on selling the earrings she makes but delights in giving them to the office staff not just in our department but in other departments too. She says creating her masterpieces relaxes her! I think she has already given earrings to everybody in our office… not just women but men too who say they’ll be giving them to their daughters and their wives.

Girls from other departments would come to our office after seeing one of their co-workers (who has visited our department) wearing dangling earrings. Sometimes everyone in our Department will be wearing her dangling earrings at the same time including me. Well, I’m not really fond of jewelry but I do wear earrings… just a simple small round gold earrings that I never take off since it is too hard to put back! And if she tells me to choose from her collection then I get one pair but I just hook it up without removing my other earrings since both could fit in the hole (as I said it is too hard to put back my earrings so I try not to take it off). I like humoring her sometimes, though I don’t really keep the earring and instead give to others afterwards.

My boss does not only enjoy creating her masterpieces but also gets a kick at getting bargain stones, beads and other materials for her art. I think stones, beads and the like have become a big business as evidenced by the store just below our building… from one stall it now occupies 6 stalls and their stocks are increasing!!! Imagine that? Well, I don’t really wonder since people just don’t use them for jewelries but also a lot of other things like clothes, bags, shoes and even rubber slippers!

Yup! Even, rubber slippers and I would see a lot of sidewalk vendors in Divisoria sewing beads, sequence and the like in the rubber slippers they sell. Now, I could settle for wearing some dangling earrings (on occasion only) but now way this Filipina will be attracted to wearing rubber slippers with beads nor sequence or other accessories. I like them plain and functional only!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Human too!

I can still remember one segment in Sesame Street where they featured a goat. A voice would tell that goat different scenarios that would anger someone and ask how he would feel and each time he would say “I get ma-a-a-a-a-d!!!” and in the end the voice said (actually there’s a tune and I still remember that tune) “He gets mad… he gets mad! Everybody gets mad!”

I think it is part of human nature to get mad… Oops he ain’t human, he’s a goat!!! :-)

Seriously though, we feel different emotions and one of them is ANGER. Sometimes we may not show it but still we feel it. They say emotions are amoral, it doesn’t distinguish from right or wrong, you just feel it! The person feels something but he always has a choice on the course of action to take. He could react or he could act on it.

Anyway, that song and segment from Sesame Street was actually triggered by what happened last Saturday yet and I find myself still humming the song now.

Last Saturday, a friend asked me to bring someone to church so she could make a confession since their activity in the afternoon required participants to have gone to confession. I know there is no scheduled confession that day (their schedule is Monday to Friday from 5:30 to 6:30 pm) but I figured the priest would consent since the church should always be excited in taking back lost sheeps. However, I was surprised when he got mad and banged the filing cabinet nearby telling me that his schedule would be disrupted… still after a while he asked me to wait as he came out with his “confession collar” (am not really sure what it is called but it is the cloth the priest place on his shoulder as he hears confession). You can see from his walk though that he was not happy with the situation and I wondered how it would be in the confession box having an unwilling listener. Still I was glad he consented.

However, I was again surprised when the woman got out and told me the priest did not allow her to confession since she has not even had her first communion. Actually one time I saw her in church, I saw her received communion. I think the priest meant the preparation for the first sacrament of reconciliation.

When the priest got out he was already calm as he explained softly that she had to have the preparation first before she should go to confession. I explained what talks were covered in our program and asked what further preparation was needed and whom to talk to but he could not offer any concrete plan. He said that the church’s program for first communicants (usually for children in grade 2 or 3) is usually done middle of the year and I told him that it would be too long to wait for that plus her concerns are definitely different from those kids. He was sad about the reality since he realized there are many Filipino catholic adults in her situation but there was no program for that and he was still blank on what to do and just entrusted her to us. We are layman!!! Ahh… it is actually sad that this secular priest (may I add newly ordained too) lacks the skill on tending and calling his flock for I believe that there would always be a way if he really wanted to (maybe if he prayed for enlightenment) after all Jesus Christ was not really limited with the laws and tradition (but by love!) and shouldn’t Christ not be his model?

Anyway that’s not really what I wanted to write on but on getting angry.

Priests gets angry. They commit mistakes (some pretty grave) after all they are human too! But we shouldn’t really get turned off and leave the church just because of one incident or of one priest. On the contrary, we should be praying more for them to be stronger since their task is actually difficult. Now, thinking about it, their task is really difficult! Just imagine yourself hearing all kinds of garbage, wouldn’t that break you down??? Maybe that’s why only few churches now offer regular and long schedule for confessions (and the Greenbelt chapel, in Makati is one that offers almost non-stop confession, thanks God for it).

There’s a prayer for priests and religious posted in the pews in the Adoration chapel of Binondo church for them to be strong. And at the end of the prayer is a plea that no person ever enters the priesthood without a “call”. I say Amen to that.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Visiting the dead

I got home from church late tonight since it rained real hard that I had to wait for it to stop. Good thing it did not rain the whole day since we went to the cemetery to visit papa and Lola Bebe’s grave for All Saints day. Pretty sorry for those people that would stay overnight there though since they surely got wet… very wet!!!

The cemetery was NOT noisy (good thing!) and crowded as in previous years but there were still a lot of people… still like a big picnic! There were a lot of military, police and civilians assisting in the traffic flow and security so that we did not encounter any untoward incident.

We knew that parking along the road on the cemetery park was limited and we were thinking how we could make mama’s walk from the car to our lot (then back) easier and shorter since she still has difficulty walking. The first option was to come early to get a good parking slot near our lots, but if we did, then mama might have the urge to pee and toilets are far from our place. So we did not come too early. We got there around 10:00 am and there were already a lot of vehicles on the road to our cemetery. Traffic was slow! My sister and I even had a chance to get out of the car, buy flowers and look through some ceramics and porcelain for sale then easily catch up with our car again. When we were already near our lot, we asked the police there if we could park near since mama had difficulty walking and we were in luck. He gave us a good place just near the path walk to our lot.

So there were 11 of us that visited, 6 adults and 5 hyperactive kids! The visitors in the lot beside us set up a tent that extended up to ours so we just added some to their tent plus set up our picnic umbrellas and we had enough shade. We have come to know them over the years and they know that we only stay a short time so that they use up our portion when we are no longer around and give us some shade while we are there. Pretty good trade, I think.

Like most of the people there, we also offered flowers and lighted candles. The lawn was neat since we had a caretaker and he even provided some nicely arranged flowers… of course we also brought some including orchids from our garden. Unlike some visitors there though, we did not offer food for the dead. We had lunch there and of course the whole family said prayers, well most of the kids could not keep still but the adults still managed to say the prayers. We left the place around 1:30 pm and there were still a lot of people coming in to visit.

While there, mama reminded me again to get a slot in an ossuary in our parish church. The ossuary was housed in the third lower level of our church before but when we visited them a long time ago she did not appreciate it since it looked gloomy. But when they have placed a garden beside the church and included ossuaries in the garden. She really liked it and said she wanted to have papa and lola Bebe’s remains transferred there.

There was an offer before in our office for columbary and we visited the place. It was still under construction and though the place, the columbary of Sto. Nino de Cebu was really nice, it was a bit far from our place and the package was high for my pocket at that time so I was looking for another option and found the one in our parish since the garden was near completion at that time.

They called the one in our parish an ossuary while the other one a columbary and they looked the same to me. I checked it out and noted that an ossuary is for the skeletal remains while the columbary is a vault with niches for urns containing ashes of the dead, so I would say that both places are a combination of an ossuary and columbary. Both would contain urns either of ashes or bones.

Ever since the Catholic church allowed cremation of the dead provided that the remains are buried in grave, mausoleum, columbarium or ossuarium (and not scattered in sea, air, land; or split among relatives…hmmm do people do that???) there has been a rise in construction of columbaries including in church premises. The Capitol Memorial Chapel that used to provide really good funeral service has been torn down and is now the location of the nearly completed Sanctuarium. I passed it nearly everyday and it is really huge! I understand it is not just going to house a columbary but will also have a crematory, vigil chapels, and family rooms that would most likely look like hotel rooms. So will this mean a decline in mausoleums that are as big and functional as houses (and even airconditioned)? I don’t really know. All I know is that dying is one huge business in the Philippines!

Paper money for the dead

Just came from the wake of our founder. Stayed there a really long time that I had a chance to roll and fold those money paper you burn. One of the people there said that they burn these papers every 6 hours and they have to make them in between. Actually they buy the different papers which are folded and burned.
  • one set had 2”x 2” silver patch in the middle; another had an orange color brushed with the silver patch making it turn gold; still a darker paper had silver patch of 1”x 1” in the middle; all these are stamped with the deceased’s name (in Chinese characters), rolled and folded at the ends and you have to make sure that there are no cuts or tears, these are supposed to be paper money which the deceased will bring (baon) in his next life, someone even said that these are like time deposit and you can only use them after 3 years… but that came from someone who just heard it from someone else. Oh they said that you really have to stamp the name to make sure that they don’t go to someone else;
  • There’s also another paper with a print of people (can’t make out what they are doing) with gold patch which you also roll and fold, they say that this is an offering for the gods, that is why you don’t stamp any name in it.
  • Also did a different fold for the silver patched paper. It was an elaborate kind of fold. Someone said it was a “boat” and that kind of money can be used immediately. The fold was a bit difficult and you had to have light hands to make sure you don’t tear them so that one of the guys helping asked if he can’t just fold using the fold we do when making paper boats. He actually tried one and it looked different. These paper they call boats don’t really look like boats since they are inverts. They kept saying boat and they said it is faster to use than the other folded papers that I was wondering why not make a paper plane instead since that’s definitely faster than a boat. Just then the daughter came to demonstrate again how it was done and said that they are bullions (gold bars!!!) and she even showed how to stack them up… Ahhh that’s why they don’t really look like boats.. because they are not meant to be boats! It made more sense that you use bullions to trade than boats!!!
While we were folding these papers, some people came carrying a huge red paper castle. It was made of Japanese paper and bamboo sticks. It was huge, about 3 meters in length and full of details including cutout of people who’ll be serving him in the afterlife and even cars and other amenities and appliances. That’s going to be his home in the afterlife! The contractors even placed Christmas lights (200 lights I think) on this paper castle so that it was very attractive. They even brought a paper airplane around 1 meter in length and an elaborate carriage. I heard that the daughter was also asking for a paper boats.

Based on the past Filipino-Chinese funerals I’ve attended, they burn this on the last day in the cemetery together with the paper money.

Many of the people helping out to do those papers and admiring the paper castles and vehicles don’t really know what they are really for. They just tell you what they have heard from someone else who has also heard it from someone else. I guess the only people that really know are those that sells these and those people you hire to help you follow the Chinese burial tradition.

ahh... even in death, things could be complex for a Fil-Chinese, good thing I am not Tsinoy!