Tuesday, February 28, 2006

'Ako ba talaga 'yan?'

Feb. 26 marked the day of the closing Mass for Pro-Life Month, held at the Perpetual Help Church -- better known as Baclaran Church -- in Manila. Our exhibit of the various stages of fetal development, which accompanies most of Pro-Life's activities, drew crowds, as usual. Apparently it was the first time for many to see what we look like inside our mother's womb, judging from the fascinated gazes of young and old at the photos. People milled around the plastic boards bearing the images, and those who could read pored over the literature pasted next to the photos, describing just what the baby is going through during each month of the mother's pregnancy.

** "Ako ba talaga 'yan?" = Tagalog for "Is that really me?"

Birthday reminder

One of many photos taken during the Jan. 23 March for Life in Washington D.C.

Check out a previous post titled "Pro-life: the choice of a new generation" for more info and photos on that event.

When the "anti-aging" concern is not worth our time

Anything that shows the merits of advancing in age, I like. Hasn't so much attention and misplaced adulation toward youth been given already that it has drowned out reverence for the elderly and for the natural course of life? I mean, I was even chided (albeit good-naturedly) recently for referring to old people as "mature" in a casual conversation. "She's so kind to call them mature..." one of my companions smilingly told the lady we were having lunch with. I forget what we were actually talking about but later on it struck me that probably fewer people than I think honestly equate old age with maturity in the true sense of the word.

Here's what I believe: as a person grows older, wisdom is acquired with the years -- or so we ought to aim for.

I found something about some positive turns in the lives of some women through the years. Check it out --

Gail Sheehy, who wrote a book about seasoned women, described them as “marinated in life experiences.” According to Sheehy’s research, many men who have stayed on the same career path all through adulthood are thinking about retirement when they reach their 50s, whereas women feel like they are just beginning to reach their peak. In contrast to men –– who become more nurturing as they grow older –– women in their 50s, said Sheehy, tend to “become more focused, more managerial, more aggressive and more political.” As the boundaries of the human lifespan widen and extend, women who are “somewhere between 40 and death” are just getting their second wind, and they are less likely, according to Sheehy, to have an agenda than are younger women. They have learned to separate possibilities from illusions and are more willing to realistically embrace new opportunities because they’ve learned from past failures and false starts.

Read the rest here

Of promises, pills and playing with freedom

Women's Month is coming up (it starts tomorrow) but the following is really for the men.

There's really a lot to understand about women, which makes being a man quite a challenge in some ways that women probably have not stopped to consider. There's the wonder of intuition. The workings of estrogen-related tendencies. Even the whole concept of window-shopping boggles the mind at times.

That men and women are different is beyond dispute. But is there any human being -- male or female -- that doesn't long to be loved?

With this common ground in mind, I decided to post a piece I saw -- one whose subtitle goes, Love is not love if it doesn’t insist “I am yours; you are mine.”

An excerpt:

If our beliefs are to determine our behavior, they must be grounded in truth and govern the emotions and needs that drive us. Only then will the moral principles to which we give lip service become strong convictions which serve to impose boundaries on our behavior so that we develop real character. Otherwise even the promises of marriage will be little more than “til death do us part . . . or not.”

Love and sex unleash the strongest of feelings. While love and sex without promises are part of the foolish unrealistic imaginings of the post-modern mind, truth has a way of coming to the fore in the least expected places. Never was this more evident than in the movie Vanilla Sky. In a poignant scene, Cameron Diaz’s character frantically tells Tom Cruise’s character that he made promises to her. When he declared that he had made no promises, she replied –– with the strength of absolute certainty –– that the intimacy of their intercourse the night before had constituted a promise. Sadly, though she uttered truth, the movie presented her as a psychopath.

Read more of "Love and Sex without Promises" at Concerned Women for America

Here's another one to ruminate on (hopefully, this'll get women to stop and think more about what's really happening -- personally and as a society). Excerpts:

Packaged as reproductive freedom, the birth control pill has been triumphed for decades as the means by which women were able to rid themselves from the bondage of fertility and be able to enjoy sexual relations for mere bodily pleasure. But, a closer look at chemical birth control suggests that maybe it is more of a burden on women than a redeemer.

The irony is that birth control is almost always a sort of necessary evil for women. In exchange for this "freedom," a woman must remember to take a daily pill, replace a weekly patch or a monthly ring, or otherwise keep up with a regular regimen that suppresses her health and fertility. She must suffer the adverse sexual and medical side effects, and she is usually stuck with the financial expense of the chemicals, devices and doctor's visits. Certainly looks like a burden to me.

From the 1940s-1960s while researchers were developing the birth control pill, there were formulas for making both a men's version and a women's version, but ultimately, the women's version was the only one to hit the market. Men noticed in the trials that their pill had adverse physical side effects. Women in the trials died from their pill. The men's version was discontinued, and the dosage of the women's version was reduced.

Here's some more surprising news. In 2002, several researchers were given a $9.5 million dollar grant by the National Institutes of Health for creating a male chemical contraception. No results yet, and that was my tax dollars at work. I'm not surprised.

That would be a hard pill for any man to swallow. Why have so many women been subjecting themselves to this for so long?

Read "An impossible Pill to swallow" in full at The Revolution

Monday, February 27, 2006

There are soup kitchens. And then there's this.

I opened an email several days too late and so am announcing the 2006 National Famine Dates only now. Anyway, only the first (Feb. 24-25) is over; the second National Famine Date is April 28-29.

Here's part of the email I got from CitizenLink:

Thousands of Teens to Participate in 30-Hour Famine

from staff reports

Effort to raise money for the poor.

More than 600,000 teens in the U.S. are planning to go without food for 30 hours this weekend. It’s called the "30-Hour Famine" and it challenges teenagers to walk a mile in the shoes of the hungry, and raise money to feed those who are less fortunate.

Debbie Diederich with World Vision said 29,000 children die every day from hunger and related diseases. The 30-Hour Famine teaches teenagers what it’s like to go without food.

“These kids," she said, "who are usually thinking about things like dances or proms or football games or buying a new pair of jeans, spend 30 hours getting hungry and thinking about what life is really like for most of the people in the world (and) that most people don’t have the luxuries they do.”

Patty Ehmann, a youth leader at a Colorado church, said the 30-Hour Famines that she has led in the past were bonding experiences for teens. She said teens can do many significant things when their focus is on others.

“We went on a can drive through neighborhoods," she said. "We cleaned up certain areas of ground, they built their huts out of cardboard boxes that they were to spend the night in, out in the cold.”

Know more from the 30-hour famine website and get to read real stories written by those who have participated in the program that benefits the people of Niger, Sudan and Kenya.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Their very own Moptops

John, Paul, George, and ... me?
My 9-year-old son broadsided me the other day with one of his unanticipated announcements. "Dad," he said, "I'm going to start a band."

"Really?" I remarked.

He gave a vigorous nod of his head and then swept the horizon with his outstretched arm.

"Yeah," he said. "There's gonna be four of us. I'll play drums, and then we'll have a piano, violin, and flute."

The only complication I could see at the moment was that my son didn't have any drums. Nor did he know how to play them. In fact, his musicianship ranged only so far as the C scale of his plastic Yamaha recorder.

But I had no intention of raining on his parade. After all, I had had a band when I was about his age, and it was a jolly good one, too.

It was 1964. Our inspiration had been - who else? - the Beatles, who had just made their American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Beatlemania was sweeping the land, with garage and basement bands forming everywhere. Guitars were flying from store shelves, and Beatle haircuts and collarless blazers were de rigueur. (My hair was too wavy for a mop top, but with monumental dollops of "hair trainer" I was able to take a bristle brush and muscle my hair into a temporary helmet of Lennonesque locks.)

Read the rest at The Christian Science Monitor

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The wild & the mild

This morning I had been working on a post for over an hour when my pc froze. There was nothing to do but reboot, which would have been okay except my post had no draft saved. Too discouraged to start all over again, I restarted my pc and proceeded on non-blogging business, till now (5 hours later). That post will be for another day perhaps, as it was quite lengthy already before the freezing happened.

Here's a great idea translated into reality! A month or two ago, some commenters on Modestly Yours were talking about t-shirts with witty messages splashed on the front. Angles like shock value, flirty one-liners, provocation and the politics of fashion were "dissected" albeit in a light-hearted manner -- all because of a red t-shirt someone saw some guy wearing in the subway, if I remember correctly. Needless to say, what's emblazoned on said shirt is not the kind that would elicit an appreciative response from any decent woman who knows her worth! Anyway, "what would you like to see on a shirt?" or something like that was posted by a commenter, and Wendy was toying with an idea for if she could actually produce the tees. Well, it was apparently more than a shot in the dark because...here it is!

On the back it reads:

Be daring. Keep your shirt on.

Recognize the parody? Anyway, besides tops of different styles and colors, other neat products bearing the "Girls Gone Mild" theme are mouse pads, mugs, coasters.

Check out some more cool merchandise here (see why they're "fake," tee-hee!!).

When 5-year-olds acquire Britney's fashion sense

Got the following from Family Edge, the free weekly newsletter from MercatorNet:

Turning little girls into eye candy

Bratz dolls that look like strippers, toddler bikinis and a Lingerie Barbie series represent a trend that has stirred US author Dr Jean Kilbourne to start writing a book with the working title of So Sexy, So Soon: The Sexualisation of Childhood. Her co-author, Diane Levin, is an early childhood expert and professor of education. Together they are exploring and documenting a global advertising phenomenon that has many parents, doctors and academics worried, she said during an interview in Sydney.

Just as there is now clear research to demonstrate the toxic impact of fashion, alcohol and tobacco advertising on girls' eating habits and health, so we can expect psychological side-effects from the use of sex to sell clothes, says Kilbourne. In the US, she says, tiny bras and G-string underwear featuring cherries and the words "eye candy" and "wink wink" have appeared in the children's wear sections of Target stores. Children are being bombarded with enormous doses of graphic sexual content they are unable to process but which will affect their "gender identity, sexual attitudes, values, and their capacity for love and connection."

But, in the end, it's not even about sex, says Kilbourne. "What it's really about is selling us on shopping. Our generation didn't shop for recreation, we didn't hang around malls. Learn early about appearance and it turns you into a good little consumer. Teach a seven-year-old that sex is about accessorizing and you've secured a lifetime of lingerie buying." ~ Sydney Morning Herald, Feb 18

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Quietly speaking out for LIFE

There were approximately 800 people who took part in the Human Chain for Life, Decency & Morality last Feb. 15, which was one of the major activities that marked Pro-Life Month in the Philippines. Here's one of the photos I took, upon the request of the cops who provided assistance during the event on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. "Ma'am, kami naman...pwede mo bang kunan ng picture? (...what about us...can you take a picture of us?)" they quietly but cheerily requested.

There are loads of photos but we've yet to sort through them! Besides, all the news can be read at the Pro-Life Phils. site in the next few days. So check back once in a while.

Here's another photo from the event, showing two of our foreign guests -- Denise Mountenay (left) and Luana Stoltenberg, both post-abortive women who are now active in advocacy work for women who have been hurt by abortion. Denise is founder and president of Canada Silent No More while Luana is the Iowa State representative of Operation Outcry.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rising from the rubble

Attending school for the first time is somewhat magical for Niaz Begum, one of the survivors of the devastating Oct. 8, 2005, South Asia earthquake. Urdu class is her favorite, the 12-year-old says with dancing green eyes, using the ruffle of a tent door to veil her embarrassment.

While her school is simple - a tent and chalkboard - the smile it brings to the children attending is symbolic of a quiet revolution.

Read more

When readers get into action

Monitor readers send six African girls to high school
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Leaning intently forward in the front row of a classroom, Alifisina Chilembwe is perched on the metal frame of a bench (the wooden seat was taken out and sold). But she couldn't be more grateful to be here, soaking up the day's lessons. This Malawian teenager wants to be a lawyer. And thanks to the generosity of Monitor readers, she's a step closer to becoming one.

Alifisina is one of six recipients of a scholarship funded by readers. After an article ran last July about a woman in Alifisina's village, 40 readers sent in some $6,000. If not for that money, the girls would be hoeing in their parents' fields all day or hauling buckets of water on their heads.

Instead, the scholarship is opening new worlds. "I want to go to university and be a doctor," says another beneficiary, ninth-grader Efelo Sekani. "My parents are the happiest people in the village."

Full story

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Settling differences

Boys are from hippocampus
By Dia L Boyle
Thursday, 09 February 2006

Did we need science to tell us girls and boys are different? Judging by a new book on the significance of gender for the upbringing and education of children, yes.

Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences
By Leonard Sax, MD, PhD
320 pp | Doubleday | 2005 | ISBN 038551073X | $24.95 rrp

Anyone who has watched normal children at play will have noticed this: when a boy comes across a long smooth stick he very likely will raise it like a rifle, sight along it, and pretend to shoot at something. When a girl comes across the same stick she is far more likely to use it as a walking stick, draw with it in the dirt, or point, schoolteacher-fashion, at an imaginary blackboard. Less obvious to the casual observer of this boy and girl is the fact that she typically has more sensitive hearing than he, his vision can detect speed and direction of motion better than hers, and she is better at seeing color and texture. When lunchtime nears, he will use the part of his brain called the hippocampus, while she will use the part of her brain called the cerebral cortex, as they find their respective ways home.

Full story at MercatorNet

Does one need to be a superhero...

...to utter 3 very important words?

And I'm not referring to "I love you" --

One of his subjects, Sally, said "yes" in 1948 when her husband, Marcus, uttered those four little words, "Will you marry me?" Now, with the benefit of 57 years of experience, she offers this advice to Valentine's Day lovers - and everyone else.

"There are three words that save a marriage," she says. "And it's not 'I love you.' It's 'Maybe you're right.' "

That's not Sally and Marcus in the photo, but another married couple (Harold & Dorothy) who are among the other subjects in a photo essay by Robert Fass, titled "As Long As We Both Shall Live: Long Married Couples in America."

What makes love last
Next Tuesday, four little words will echo across the land as legions of nervous Valentine's Day suitors pop a life-changing question: "Will you marry me?" If the answer is yes, couples will begin a journey they hope will last a lifetime.

Not all will succeed. But those who want a view from the trenches as to what it takes to hold a union together might find perspectives in an unusual photo essay by photographer Robert Fass, called "As Long As We Both Shall Live: Long- Married Couples in America." Photographs are on exhibit at the 92nd Street Y Art Center in New York until Feb. 23. They're also featured on www.longmarriedcouples.com.

Mr. Fass's project began in 1997 with portraits of his parents, who were married 47 years. Since then he has traveled the nation, documenting what many people believe is a vanishing segment of the population: couples who have been married for 40 years or more. His youngest subjects are in their late 50s, the oldest nearly 100.

Read more

Reporters without Borders

I've heard of Doctors without Borders but I wasn't aware till now that there was such a group as Reporters without Borders. It's been a little over a month since the day American journalist Jill Carroll was abducted in Baghdad (her interpreter was killed), and the group is pleading for her release.

With French actress Juliette Binoche and former French hostage Florence Aubenas attending, Reporters Without Borders held a demonstration in the Trocadero esplanade overlooking the Seine River. A banner supported by helium-filled balloons read, "Free Jill Carroll."

"The impressive show of solidarity that was maintained for Ms. Aubenas all the time she was a hostage should now be repeated for Ms. Carroll, and for Iraqi journalists Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal, of whom there has been no news since they were kidnapped on Feb. 1," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard.

"Thirty-seven journalists have been kidnapped since the start of the war in Iraq in March 2003, five of them losing their lives," Mr. Ménard stressed.

Full story at The Christian Science Monitor

Friday, February 10, 2006

Too graphic for comfort?

When ads tell the marvelous truth, they can be too much for some people to take.

*Small text reads:

"In fact, an unborn baby's heart begins to beat at 18 days.
At 40 days she has measurable brain waves.
An unborn baby shouldn't be thrown away like a piece of tissue.

Read about the refusal to publish the ad

When does a baby in the womb start to hear music from outside his mom? Does he thumb-suck before he's born? At how many weeks does he hiccup a lot? Discovered this site containing the answers -- and more about the fetal stages of development!

Another German shepherd shines

Merkel shines on world stage
From Moscow to Gaza, the German chancellor's cool, pragmatic style wins praise.
Nobody who's followed Angela Merkel's rapid rise in German politics can quite believe the chancellor's splash debut on the international stage.

"I'm surprised," says Josef Joffe, transatlantic expert and editor of the respected weekly Die Zeit. "She had no experience in foreign policy, nor has she shown much interest in it in the past."

Since she was sworn in last November, Ms. Merkel has shown herself to be an unfettered negotiator in Paris and Brussels, and an independent-minded partner of Russian president Vladimir Putin. She's talked freedom with President Bush in the White House and gotten chummy with Bono in Davos. And in Jerusalem this week, she talked tough for the European Union, demanding Hamas recognize Israel so that the Palestinian Authority might continue to receive EU aid.

For someone elected on promises to fix domestic problems like Germany's economy, Merkel has cut an impressive figure on the world stage. Editorialists, analysts, and even opposition politicians have lauded her cool, pragmatic approach.

Full story at The Christian Science Monitor

All 'chained up' for freedom and life

It's not a rally; neither is it a march. It's a peaceful expression of support for the good that's happening in the House of Representatives and of protest against those that aren't life-affirming at all.

Human chain for Life, Decency & Morality on Feb. 15

Pro-Life Philippines will lead grassroots communities, family and life ministry groups, schools and civic organizations in a show of support for life-affirming measures being formulated by some of the country’s legislators. In the same way, the Human Chain for Life, Decency & Morality – which happens on February 15 at 4 pm – protests against proposed bills such as House Bill 3773 or the “The Responsible Parenthood and Population Management Act of 2005,” which pushes for a two-child policy and increased budget allocation for intensive promotion of abortifacient drugs and methods of birth control.

Immediately after a 3:00 prayer rally at St. Peter Parish in Quezon City, people will be lined up one meter apart on the sidewalk of Commonwealth Avenue. Pro-Life Executive Director Jimmy Leornas says the starting point will be the parish facade, with the expected thousand participants forming the chain all the way to Batasang Pambansa.

The Human Chain for Life, Decency & Morality is part of the Pro-Life Month celebration, which has American and Canadian pro-lifers flying in to hold training seminars, speaking engagements and discussions with pro-life legislators. Molly White, Denise Mountenay, Karen Bodle and Luana Stoltenberg represent the groups Living the Redeemed-USA, Canada Silent No More, and Operation Outcry and are all post-abortive women who are now involved in the healing ministry and advocacy work for women.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Extra! Extra! Read all about it...

No news, actually. Just a wee announcement.

Some exciting events are lined up for the next couple of weeks as it is Pro-Life Month! What I'm personally looking forward to very much is the Feb 15 series -- first there's the dialogue between the American and Canadian pro-life guests, and the pro-life Congressmen, plus Family and Life leaders. The foreign guests -- four women who are all post-abortive -- have gone through a lot in their lives until they found healing, and are now in the counseling ministry and advocacy work. They represent groups such as Operation Outcry, Living the Redeemed Life Ministries, and Canada Silent No More.

After the hour-long dialogue comes a prayer rally, then the Human Chain for Life, Decency & Morality -- people standing one meter apart, holding up placards bearing various pro-life messages. Oh, this will be along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, and since the Human Chain will be there from 4-6pm, towards the end it'll be twilight already and participants will be holding candles -- making for some great photo-shooting opportunities. Any shutterbugs out there who shoot for the sheer fun of it? Hobbyists building their portfolio are welcome to get in touch with me as I am thinking of getting one or two to do the shooting. It's basically for documentation but of course great shots always warrant seeing print so I plan to submit some to the press later on.

The ladies from abroad would be wonderful subjects for the shoots, too, so there'll be a day to photograph them as well.

Anyway, I hope to hear from someone who's interested in this even though all I can offer in return are food and drink, and the byline to go with the photos if they get published in the papers. Plus, the experience of covering these events. Drop me a line at sunnyday1898@yahoo.com or leave a comment here!

More about other activities later...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

February is PRO-LIFE MONTH!

"Defend the Family -- the Sanctuary of Life!"

That's the theme of this year's Pro-Life Month, celebrated every February in the Philippines.

The first major event to celebrate the occasion is the 12th Pro-Life National Convention -- Feb. 11, which is a Saturday.

For details about the event and other activities throughout the month, go to http://www.prolife.org.ph.

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