Saturday, December 25, 2010

Oh, night divine



A blessed and joyful Christmas to all

Source: That artist woman



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Anticipation



This work of art is by an Estonian artist named Ain Vares. It's called "Angel Proclaims the Good News" -- yet another rendition of that night when shepherds were told by an angel of the birth of the promised Redeemer.


That the birth took place in the simplest of circumstances -- no fanfare, no elegant or even comfortable accommodations, probably not even a pillow for the baby or the mother -- is noteworthy. Save for some people who were aware of and kept the prophecies at heart, the birth passed unnoticed. Needless to say, there was no "advent season" back then to remind people that the arrival of the awaited Redeemer was close at hand.


Advent is essentially the time of preparation for Christmas Day. What kind of preparation? Well, much like what happens when, say, you've decided on an out-of-town trip and it's about a month before departure time ... or you're in the thick of preparations for a wedding ... or maybe you and your friends are looking forward to a party or some other kind of get-together. It's about getting ready for whatever's needed for the trip, the wedding, the party. Most importantly, it's the anticipation that comes with it as the date of the event approaches; also, the hope that things will turn out great.


Advent, then, is the time for getting ready for a meaningful celebration of the day when a most important figure was born, the emphasis being on
interior preparation. Let's put it this way: when you know that an important guest is arriving at your house, don't you do a bit of dusting, get rid of clutter, fluff up throw pillows and probably make a mental note of what's in your refrigerator that you can offer? Spending the four weeks of Advent is somewhat like that -- "cleaning house" and decorating a little to be able not only to receive the Guest well, but to appreciate his coming.

Advent could also be the time to know more about the Guest whose arrival is of particular significance. Knowing and understanding what makes him a not-so-ordinary figure is, I think, the only thing that would enable us to make meaningful preparations for his arrival -- as well as to experience the deep joy that accompanies the season.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Integrity

"To be persuasive we must be believable;
to be believable we must be credible;
to be credible we must be truthful."

-- Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965), American journalist

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Precious child


Talk about dreamy.

"French country" is how I call it -- the theme that characterized a precious baby girl's 1st birthday celebration I attended a few days ago. "Sweet soiree" couldn't have been more apt (which is how the mom referred to the gathering in the invitation). Here are some snapshots I took around the place. How nice and refreshing it is to be in a kiddie party that is devoid of the usual cartoon characters, fastfood table fare and eardrum-blasting banter of overzealous hosts. This was one pleasant gathering that celebrated a sweet child's coming into the world.







This is all I have time for

Well, hello there, blog! :-)

Okay, good looks notwithstanding, this man is beautiful based on the kind of convictions he has been declaring in his testimonies since becoming more in touch with the essentials of life. He used to be quite superficial (his words) and didn't exactly make outstanding professional choices. Here he is relating an experience that changed his life.

He starts his storytelling at 1:04; you can go to that right away and skip the "fandom" footage that takes up the first minute :-)


Friday, September 17, 2010

Sabrina

There's a downpour in progress, with clapping of thunder every few minutes. Normally, by this time, Sabrina my little dog would be curled up inside the house beside me as I worked on the computer (on the floor beside my bed if it happened to be bedtime already). The sound of thunder has always terrified her, giving her a forlorn expression as long as the heavy rains poured and the thunder kept at it.





Today, however, Sabrina is nowhere near me. She isn't scared of anything anymore. She died yesterday -- she was 14 years old.

She had been slowly deteriorating the past year -- cataract building up in one eye, the same happening in the other eye though at a much slower pace. Around 6, 7 months ago, only one eye seemed to be providing her vision, but the cheerfulness remained. Sense of hearing obviously waning, too, it would be easy to creep up on her and give her a playful tap, watching as she was jolted by my sudden presence. And the cheerfulness would then show up again. The only thing that could dampen her spirits was a thunderstorm. The first clap of thunder would send her walking toward the laundry area door and tapping her nose on it so we would let her inside.

But last week she started refusing food; she drank some water at first, but a couple of days later she would only take sips. Pretty soon the weight loss was apparent and the cheerfulness was gone. Even with hardly any water intake, she vomited the little fluid that I gave her. And despite the weight loss, her sides seemed to be bloated. On the first visit, the vet advised that if she should again expel the fluids given her, no water was to be given (she was completely not eating for days already).

But even before this first visit, it was tough seeing Sabrina always lying down, or seated but just staring into space, probably aware (with as much "awareness" as an animal could have) that something was very wrong. Well, she would stare a lot because her vision was considerablyl impaired. When she did manage to get up once in a while, it was done with a huge effort, and walking was a wobbly affair.

I came to terms with the fact that my pet would have to go soon; she was, after all, 14 years old -- pretty old for a dog. I was just thinking of the best way to handle the situation -- best, meaning thinking things through, weighing all the factors, not doing anything drastic.

Wednesday morning I brought her to the UP veterinary hospital to find out what was wrong with her, only to be told that the lab was closed on Wednesdays. What was I to do? Let Sabrina live through another 24 hours of no-food-no-water existence? Watch her struggle to get up when she wanted to sleep in some other spot? That's when the vet instructed me about the water thing. "She's still alert," she remarked. She did suggest confinement in another facility, but I declined. So okay, make it through another day and we'll have the necessary tests performed.

But by Wednesday night, after much deliberation and a little help from friends plus some insights from my brother and mother, I had decided that having Sabrina put to sleep would be the best option considering her age, the possibility of surgery and the chances of recovery, the "quality of life" if she did manage to recover from the possible surgery, the time and money that caring for a recovering animal would entail -- plus the fact that all my time away from work would be needed for the move (we are in the process of packing then moving to a new home). It was really her age that was most significant. That, and the prospect of prolonging the suffering she had been going through the past week. I figured, I wouldn't even have any tests performed on her -- I mean, what for? Those were simply for my curiosity. It would be kind of nice to know what was causing the bloating and why she couldn't eat and drink... but I decided that was inconsequential now. I wasn't sure, though, if a hospital would consent to putting an animal down without knowing what was wrong with it.

So Thursday morning, I again brought Sabrina to the hospital. Our house helper was with us and I sure am thankful for her presence. I had made up my mind -- Sabrina was better off being put to sleep permanently. If she were a human being, things would be totally different. If animals were capable of living or even just understanding redemptive suffering, things would be totally different.

We ended up drawing some blood for a blood test. More agony (for Sabrina and for me). Waiting more than half an hour for the results. Learning it was something in the liver that was causing the problem. Listening to the vet recommend confinement and say that in 2-3 days, my pet could either improve or further deteriorate, depending on her response to the IV fluids and medication.

At this point I wavered in my decision to have Sabrina's suffering swiftly ended. I did think about it, I did weigh everything, but when I told the vet about my preference to have Sabrina euthanized and how I came to the decision, I faltered. And started getting tearful Sad Emoticons

I excused myself and told her I would call someone to consult. I ended up calling two people whose opinions I valued. They had opposing views about the matter, and I felt even more torn...but just for a few moments. In the end, I listened to the one who believed the same thing I did. I think I just needed to hear it from someone else, because I already knew what had to be done.

I got back to the vet and gave her my decision. The thing is, even though I felt more confident about the choice I made, I dreaded it more than ever. I suppose because I said it with finality.

At least my tearfulness inspired some compassion. Between the time my eyes first welled up and the phone calls I made, a nice lady approached me and told me that she, too, had to have one of her dogs euthanized the previous year. "So I understand how you feel," she said with such empathy and kindness, teary-eyed to meet my by-then-slightly-puffy eyes, that I really did feel understood.

There was a form to fill up and sign. Payments to be made at the cashier's window. Did those in a daze. What comforted me was that other clients whose pets were to be euthanized shortly were often in the same shape as I was, according to the vet student who sympathetically answered all my queries through it all.

When I carried Sabrina to the table and gently stroked her for the last time, I experienced another sense of doubt. When the vet came in holding the syringe with the purple liquid and I glanced at Sabrina, I felt as if I were betraying my pet. But I knew these feelings were just...feelings. Feelings come and go, but choices are more reliable -- when made with careful deliberation, which is how I went about mine concerning my pet. I was simply saddened because I was about to lose the faithful four-legged friend I had had for 14 years. And I felt that I was speeding things up.

Thank God it was over in seconds, just like the vet assured me it would be. No pain for Sabrina; she just drifted off to a permanent sleep.

* * * * *

The rain is down to a drizzle, and the thunder is gone. There's nothing to do but get accustomed to the change of having no furry animal seeking refuge when the first clap of thunder makes itself heard. It is one of many changes one will continue to experience through life. Thing is, I doubt it if I'll ever hear thunder without instinctively getting up to go to the door to let someone in.





Sunday, September 12, 2010

A special edition

I can't help but think back to days when the cover shoots I took part in normally involved people whom society refers to as "celebrities." Whether I was a freelance/staff writer assigned to interview the subject, or one of the editors tasked along with the rest of the team to come up with a striking cover concept, having a celebrity as part of the package always meant a certain degree of... shall we say, "studied spontaneity" in front of the camera. At least in my experience. I say this because I now have the benefit of perspective, seeing things in the context of the kind of pictorials I have been taking part in since joining Baby Magazine three and a half years ago.

Capturing images of a person accustomed to kleig lights, to doing and saying things for a crowd, and to the attention/open admiration of fans, is radically different from that of a person who is still beginning to get acquainted with his immediate surroundings. There is also a world of difference between being able to tell someone to hold a certain pose (and to ask him to do the pose again) and being at the mercy of a little person who has no concept of poses and to whom requests of poses will make no sense.

A model is trained to project in front of a camera; a baby goes about with complete spontaneity. Which is why when a baby ends up flashing a most adorable and animated expression, while still being natural -- and long enough for the photographer to capture it -- it is always a cause for celebration and thanksgiving!

The cover shoot for Baby mag's September issue took place on a Tuesday afternoon. We decided to do it at the family's home instead of the previously decided play facility in a shopping mall so as to put 19-month-old Tio completely at ease. We wanted him relaxed, comfortable and happy. I think we succeeded in that.





For one thing, his entire family was there (even an aunt and cousin dropped by to join the fun). Also, there was no need for him to adjust to a new environment since he was completely familiar with everything in sight. The only "new elements" were the Baby mag staff who were there plus photographer Karen Ilagan.





So, when it was time to play over at the "little blue playground thing" in the garden, Tio was all set and raring to go! His mom said the Little Tikes play set was part of the boy's physical therapy sessions for months, which started when Tio was barely a few months old.





Obviously, he was having the time of his life :-) The minutes we spent out in the garden, after all, were during the latter part of the shoot, after he had warmed up considerably and was probably regarding the whole experience as mere play. Here he is with his mom as we were about to wrap up --





Earlier, he probably found it weird that we seemed to be trying to keep him entangled between his mom's knees and attempting to have him stay on the floor the whole time! He was pretty dynamic, though! He wiggled, he crawled, he broke away from his mom, then for some moments he would smile, stick out his tongue, cover his mouth or wave at his "fans" who wear cajoling him the whole time. Then we moved him back again, far enough from the camera in case he broke free and crawled his way toward the photographer. This was the routine for quite a while.





Photographer Karen was one patient shutterbug! She gamely waited, slid across the floor to catch a good angle, called out to Tio to coax a smile, shot away, called out some more, laughed with us everytime the little boy did something amusing. And she was quick to keep shooting when Tio -- as I personally had been hoping and praying for -- stayed put for close to a minute, I think, seated beneath his mom's legs, looking happy and animated. Was it going to be a good shot?





I think we got six or seven shots framed almost perfectly, in the way we were hoping for. We selected what we deemed the best one, where the charming 19-month-old boy with the extra chromosome that made him even cuter, looked absolutely happy and contented, just like the way a child who is loved and cared for by his parents and siblings ought to look.







Baby magazine
is published by Marathon Publishing Co. and is sold at major National Bookstores, all SM baby department stores, Babyland (Robinsons Galleria, Shaw Blvd. near Cherry Foodarama and Eastwood Mall), Bufini, Mio Magazine Shops, selected Powerbooks outlets, and Big & Small Co. Shangri-la Mall.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Chock full of sweet delectables



"All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!"
- Lucy Van Pelt, Peanuts





You can regard chocolate from quite a number of viewpoints -- from the perspective of dentists, parents, children, dieticians, bakers, in the context of calories, caffeine, diabetes, romantic overtures, get-well-soon wishes, cacao plantations, Belgium and Switzerland's exports... and a host of others, depending on your train of thought.

One thing is certain: chocolate can inspire the cutest ideas.





I'm not sure how I'd feel biting into something like this, though:






And I'm glad to know that chocolates were considered a great gift idea for men (at least in advertising) at some time:





Obviously those brown delectables even inspired humor in highly esteemed writers:


"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate."
-- Charles Dickens



Thursday, August 05, 2010

Scratching the surface

I had planned to write something to put the video in perspective and leave you with more than just a commercial to watch. But I just noticed the time and so writing will have to be for another time, for time won't give me time (this time)! :-)



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sometimes you just can't help but wonder...

... if some people put too much chemical substances into their systems, thus resulting in permanent damage to the brain. Or, if they had such a traumatic childhood to the point of wanting to destroy all potential life sources and to deprive all mothers the chance to parent their children despite the odds.

Months ago, members of some groups frantically attempted to obtain an abortion for a Nicaraguan during her pregnancy as she underwent treatment for cancer. The woman, Amalia, completed the treatment and just recently gave birth (the child, however, died soon after being born).

In spite of the outcry by abortionist organizations in February against the rejection of abortion by Amalia's doctors, her husband says they are happy with the treatment she has received. However, Amalia is reportedly devastated by the loss of her child because "she was so excited about her pregnancy."


Rejoicing over the pregnancy was apparently not among the abortion lobby's sentiments (easily inferred from the unrelenting efforts to have the unborn baby killed). But wait, now that the baby is dead, the abortion-happy fellas are expressing concern that the chemotherapy may have harmed the baby that they themselves were eager to fatally harm!

...now that the baby has died, abortionist groups are reportedly demanding that an autopsy be done, paradoxically threatening legal action if the chemotherapy given to Amalia is found to have harmed her child.


You really can't help but wonder about these people who, incidentally, advocate...uh, the right to choose.

At least Amalia's husband seems to be unfazed by the out-of-this-world demand.

"I don't know that they are going to do an autopsy, but that should be a decision of the family," he stated.

According to the article, Amalia will continue her treatment on an outpatient basis.


Full article and background information at LifeSiteNews


-----------------------------------------





Shodding a pig (or piglet) in boots is silly. But it sure is cute! I don't know what the connection is between this photo and the article above... I guess that shodding a pig and what the abortion groups are doing are both senseless. But at least the former is cute.

I guess the lengths to which people against human rights for the unborn go to advance their cause -- and the obvious lack of logic in their thinking process -- is so serious, I wanted to lighten the mood with the help of a charming animal.

Unreachable ?

What a cool website The Foundation for A Better Life is. Loads to read, well-thought-out videos to watch, disarming posters that feature people who demonstrated heroism in their own ways.

Here's one of my favorite TV spots, titled "Reach":






Check out The Foundation for A Better Life

More TV spots here

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A new page in history



The 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno "Noynoy" C. Aquino III, was sworn in yesterday.

Full text of his inaugural speech:

Filipino (original)

English translation

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tatay, Dad, Papa



Why are men reluctant to become fathers?
They aren't through being children.

-- Cindy Garner

I have no idea who Cindy Garner is, but what she said makes a lot of sense -- and could serve to open the eyes of any man to whom those words apply :-) So, I am putting them here. Along with the following videos. The first is a sweet, subtle piece of encouragement; the second, a more direct reminder of why dads are sorely needed by their children, and how they can best guide their little ones.

Happy Father's Day to all fathers, future fathers, and fathers in spirit!












When one lets the dark get the best of him



You've gotta have hope. Without hope life is meaningless.
Without hope life is meaning less and less.
-- Author Unknown



Well, it seems clear what the person below lacks, among some other things.

He probably should also check out The Foundation for A Better Life more often.


Kevorkian: “The Single Worst Moment of my Life … Was the Moment I Was Born”

By James Tillman and John Jalsevac

June 15, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- "The single worst moment of my life . . . was the moment I was born." So says Dr. Jack Kevorkian in a recent interview with CNN.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the journalist conducting the interview, confessed that the remark left him speechless – especially since Kevorkian offered the strange and macabre confession without any provocation or lead-up question.

Gupta writes that, “Throughout the two-and-a-half hour interview, [Kevorkian] fluctuated wildly between being downright combative and hostile to being sweet and fatherly.”

The journalist also mentioned Kevorkian’s “crazed rants,” “often about the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution, complete with a defense of James Madison and trashing of Thomas Jefferson.”

The interview is part of the lead-up to Kevorkian’s Thursday interview at 9 PM EST on Larry King Live.

Kevorkian or "Dr. Death" has helped approximately 130 people kill themselves. He also spent 8 years in prison for the second-degree murder of Thomas Youk, who was in the final stages of Amytrophic Lateral Scelerosis at the time of his death. Kevorkian had given Youk the lethal injection himself, and, in a videotape of Youk's death, dared authorities to try to convict him.

Kevorkian told Gupta that he believes his case should have been heard by the Supreme Court, because the issue of assisted suicide is a constitutional issue. Everyone, says Kevorkian, should have the right to kill him or her self.

"They just don't get it in Oregon, " he says. "Or in Washington state or Montana, the other states," where assisted suicide is currently legal. Assisted suicide is only legal in these states if someone has a terminal illness.

"What difference does it make if someone is terminal?" he says. "We are all terminal."

Five of Kevorkian's victims were found to be healthy after autopsies were performed.


Full article at LifeSiteNews



Antidote in pages

As I had included some news about the new Harry Potter mini-park on this blog just recently, this, from LifeSiteNews, naturally caught my attention:

Book Teaser: 'Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture' by Michael O'Brien
Reviewed by John-Henry Westen

June 17, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Master story-teller and artist Michael O’Brien – the man to whom CNN went when they needed comment on Harry Potter - has penned the definitive work assessing the Potter phenomenon. This book is essential reading for all parents whose children have read or are considering reading the wildly popular offerings by J.K. Rowling and similar works such as Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.

Although an analytical work, the reader will be captivated from the must-read preface.

O’Brien's earlier work, “A Landscape with Dragons,” delineated authentic Christian fantasy literature from its counterfeits. Now, in “Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture,” he fascinatingly contrasts Potter-world with C.S. Lewis’s Narnia and Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings,” and the character of Harry Potter with Frodo Baggins.

O’Brien’s analysis will enable parents whose children have consumed Potter to comprehend the problematic messages which have been fed their children and give them the points and arguments which can serve as the antidote.

The book goes beyond Potter, however, to address other bestselling series such as “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer and Phillip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass.”

In addition to these and other fantasy books, O’Brien reviews the films which they have spawned.

In all, the author’s new book teaches Christians how to discern harmless fantasy literature and film from that which is destructive to heart, mind and soul.

Those wishing to purchase a copy of the book may get FREE worldwide shipping and a 10% discount by noting “LSN discount” at the final stage of the purchase process and wait for the email acknowledging your discount prior to completing payment. (Each book purchased will also result in a donation to LifeSiteNews.com) Click here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Get your broomsticks ready!


It looks like experiencing Ollivander's and Hogsmeade -- and snapping up one's own Gryffindor scarf -- is going to be a thrill for travelers to a certain mini-park :-)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter officially opens on June 18.

Visit the website

A slideshow of released images of the new theme park here


Photo (and more information) from
Hollywood Dame

Are you going with the high-tech flow?

I have often wondered how -- amid all the apparent advantages of growing up in this age of computerized, push-button and automatic everything -- children and teens will learn the art of waiting.

How would one teach his child the virtue of patience when things can be accomplished quickly and easily? Need to find a piece of information? Go look it up in a library. Need to find a book? Head for the card catalogue and look for it. Need to talk with a friend on the phone? Go to the telephone and dial his number.

Want to play a song from an audio cassette tape? Hit fast forward or rewind till you find it (and learn estimating in the process).

Planning a meet-up with friends? Set a time and place (no "bahala na, will text you later" option). Wait if someone is 5, 10 minutes late (no "wru?" option and no re-sending the message 3 minutes later out of impatience when there's no reply).

Looking for entertainment? Create your own games, make your own playthings, use objects around the home and transform them into a bridge, a bahay-bahayan, a fort for the toy soldiers... the options are endless. Use your imagination.

Want to make a "Happy birthday!" or "Welcome home!" streamer? Get some Manila paper, pencils, colored markers, crayons, and use your creativity (no computer-aided printouts).

Want to communicate with people from foreign countries? Write letters by hand, seal the envelope, go to the post office and mail the letters. Then wait at least a month for a reply. Be patient.
The way I see it, there's a lot that today's world has to offer kids, but these kids are somewhat deprived. Of what? Well, unless their parents are pro-active and discerning, they miss out on opportunities to learn and grow in patience. There are invaluable life lessons that cannot be learned from texting messages and spending hours on Facebook.





Check out Baby Magazine's June issue for some insights on all this high-tech gadgetry surrounding our children and (almost) taking over our lifestyle. More about it from Petrufied.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The irony

Some things strike me as ironic, and I can't help but be amused.

Take the sight of a young man and his female companion. It's not uncommon to see a guy walking hand in hand with his girl, but what makes the picture look silly (to me, at least) is the unmistakably woman's bag slung over the man's shoulder (sometimes it's a handbag). Most likely manifesting his interpretation of gentlemanly courtesy, the boyfriend thus dons the feminine item, whether it's a floral tote, an LV-emblazoned purse, or one of those trendy baguettes that are absolutely unflattering on the male form!

It may look silly, but I can appreciate efforts on the part of men to demonstrate courtesy. And maybe these young men (and their female companions, obviously) are unaware of codes of conduct such as that which considers a man's carrying a woman's purse to be an absolute no-no. I don't know where such rules are written, but it is simply not done (this, of course, does not include cases wherein the woman's bag weighs a few hundred pounds and the owner obviously needs assistance in transporting the thing).

But what I really find ironic is something I often witness at the MRT station.

So you have the purse-donning man and his girlfriend (thereby "hands-free," thanks to her boyfriend), standing in line, awaiting the next train.

As sounds of the approaching train reach them, they get into position. He guides her to stay in front of him; sometimes she is somewhat beside him while still in front of him, his hand usually on her shoulder.

When the train finally arrives and slows down, all the commuters on queues rustle and press against each other, shoulder to shoulder, as much as they still can, given that there is no more space left between bodies that are visibly getting ready to charge into the soon-to-open doors of the train. One can observe that it looks like a bunch of football players -- sans helmets and gigantic shoulder pads -- psyching themselves up for a tackle. By this time, the girlfriend is normally right in front of the purse-carrying boyfriend.

As the door opens, the purse-carrying boyfriend guides his purse-free companion in a way that looks as if he is pushing her toward the wave of people exiting the train directly in their path. This is a seemingly endless stream of commuters who show no mercy when they make their way out of the train, since nobody wants to get stuck inside and miss his stop.

Meanwhile, the sight of the floral tote-carrying man coaxing his girl in front of him to push on and make her way into the train against the oncoming river of people seems odd. For one thing, she looks like some sort of shield, there to protect the man behind her who has his hand on her shoulder, making sure she is not swept away by the human river heading the opposite direction. What kind of a man would do such a thing, putting a lady in harm's way? And not just any lady -- his lady.

At this point, the tote, satchel or whatever caters to the woman's fashion tastes seems like a suitable symbol in this scenario. He is the boyfriend, but the manly duty of protecting the fairer sex is not being carried out. He is being the lady here -- hence, the purse on his shoulder or slung over his arm or wherever the feminine item is best positioned.

Is this not ironic? A man makes the gesture of relieving his girl of her belongings, then when it comes to that which requires his protection and guidance, he coaxes her to take over. Hmmm.

In cases like this, it seems fitting that she be garbed in shining armor.


* Painting by Alphonse Mucha ("Heraldic Chivalry").
* Cartoonist unknown.


Friday, May 28, 2010

A reminder for these times


"A dead thing goes with the stream;

only a living thing can go against it."


-- G.K. Chesterton



Monday, May 24, 2010

Reasons and seasons

Well, a lot has happened the past several weeks. Work has piled up, the sweltering heat has become a daily "force" to reckon with (and made daily productivity a mighty challenging goal), campaign season came and went, and the national and local elections took place. Now we have a President-elect and the inevitable post-election controversies.

It was a very eventful past month, and much had me quietly pleading for divine intervention. Needless to say, the outcome of various undertakings didn't go the way I would have wanted them to; other situations had me seeing just why God is spelled with a "G" instead of a "g" and that entertaining even for a moment the notion that a creature would know better than the Creator is plain silly (and more importantly, indicative of a lack of faith).

Still, some situations continue to be baffling while keeping me hopeful that we shall one day see the entire tapestry of life's goings-on, understanding and appreciating the non-intrusive orchestration of events by the One who knows all things, as well as the reasons behind those events.

As for less complex matters, the reason behind the appearance of this fuschia-clad baby on the cover of our current issue is clear and simple: she is endearingly cute!





That's Kara Judielle Sacrez in all her lacy cuteness, photographed by Kristin Rodriguez of Little People Lifestyle Photography at Cupcakes by Sonja.

Baby magazine is published by Marathon Publishing Co. and is sold at major National Bookstores, all SM baby department stores, Babyland (Robinsons Galleria, Shaw Blvd. near Cherry Foodarama and Eastwood Mall), Baby & Co. (The Podium and Power Plant Mall), Bufini, Mio Magazine Shops, Procreation Shangri-la mall, Big & Small Co. Shangri-la mall.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bible vs. cell phone

bible first  page.jpg

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several time a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?

What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing.

Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think 'where are my priorities? And no dropped calls!

When Jesus died for us, he was thinking of YOU and ME!




H/T: MommyLife

Monday, April 26, 2010

Four-legged buddies

A delightfully touching (if confusing at first) photo, from Cute Overload:




Check out the toddler and his feline friend with their version of a WWF match:


The meaning of education

It would really be unfair to assume that some individuals, organizations or sectors aim to corrupt the minds of children. Not even the notion that they value monetary gain over educating minors to grow up decent human beings ought to be assumed. This way, the issues can be evaluated more objectively and with more detachment.

Consider the following:

"Sex is for enjoyment as much as we can or want," Spanish adolescents are being told by their socialist government. "Do and let others do whatever they wish."
Those words appeared in a pamphlet distributed to high school students in the region of Catalonia, according to Spanish news site Forum Libertas (Liberty Forum).
"Enjoying sex is a natural and recommendable thing," the pamphlet also states. "Learn the best ways to enjoy it with security and tranquility."
The pamphlet also endorses homosexual relationships, Forum Libertas reports. No mention is made of abstinence, nor the consequences of sexual intercourse.
...
The program, known as "Education for Citizenship and Human Rights" (EpC) is being imposed on all schools in Spain, public and private. Families who refuse to allow their children to attend have been threatened with prosecution. Although schools have some latitude in how they implement the program, Spanish government officials at all levels are clearly seeking to normalize promiscuity and unnatural sexual behavior.

Read the full article in LifeSiteNews


* * * * * * * * * *
The complainants object to schools teaching students to accept homosexuality as normal and singled out a third-grade textbook used in Córdoba, Andalusia, which states that "nature has given us sex so we can use it with another girl, with a boy or with an animal".
Read the full article in Euractiv

* * * * * * * * * *
In late October, the regional government of Extremadura in southwestern Spain launched a new sexual-education campaign designed to facilitate the "development of healthy habits, self-esteem and safety." Although the publicly funded campaign includes the publication of pamphlets and an online magazine, the highlight is a series of workshops for 14-to-17-year-olds aimed at educating participants on anatomy, body image, safe-sex practices, gender equality and, in the mildly celebratory words of an early press release (since redacted), "sexual self-exploration and erotic self-knowledge." Or, in other words, masturbation.
...
It was this last element that attracted attention across the country. "Masturbation Workshops for Adolescents," ran the headline in Que!, a free daily in Madrid. "Extremadura Promotes Masturbation," cried the centrist national paper El Mundo.
...
Admittedly, [Extramadura Youth Council president Laura] Garrido and the other organizers bear more than a little responsibility for the response. They're the ones, after all, who chose the instructors to lead the workshops: two women who, in addition to running sex-education workshops, co-own a shop in Madrid called Lola's Pleasures, which specializes in erotic devices. The instructors, who have given adult sex-education classes sponsored by municipal governments in other regions of the country, didn't help matters by bringing a selection of sex toys to the first teen workshop in late October in order "to dispel myths," Garrido says.
...
In the Netherlands, for instance, teachers at public schools lead discussions in which they ask girls ages 12 to 15 what they would do if their boyfriends refused to wear a condom. In Finland, basic sex education begins in kindergarten, and the curriculum for ninth-graders includes lessons on abortion and masturbation. In Germany, where sex education is mandatory, public school teachers have been known to discuss oral sex and different sexual positions.

Be reasonable

Atheist group calls on Obama to endorse 'National Day of Reason' instead of 'National Day of Prayer'
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
By Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor


(excerpt)

The humanist group praised last week’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb that the 1952 statute creating the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional because its “sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function” – to quote from the judge’s ruling.

“The government should not be directing citizens to pray. In addition to being unconstitutional, it’s also especially offensive to people who don’t believe in a god and are made to feel excluded by the observance,” AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt said.

Those defending the National Day of Prayer, however, say that even if an atheist were to be recognized, that would not justify ending public recognition for National Day of Prayer.

“The American Humanist Association and their allied groups have every right to try to promote a new celebration if they want to -- and if they can persuade people to participate voluntarily, that’s fine, but I don’t think they have a right to do away with a long-standing tradition that is deeply rooted in our nation’s history – which is calling the people to prayer,” Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, told CNSNews.com.

The National Day of Prayer is actually quite “inclusive,” Spriggs argued.

“It’s inclusive of the vast majority of Americans, who do believe in a Supreme Being and who do pray, and it is inclusive of the vast majority of Americans throughout the history of our country – and the vast majority of the leaders of our country though our history,” Spriggs said.


Read the full article at CNSNews







Cartoon by Steve Kelley at GoComics.com

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Busybody on a global level


(name tags of four children in front, from left: Philippines, Hawaii, [Puerto] Rico, Cuba)

Yet another demonstration of cultural imperialism.

Yesterday Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) introduced the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2010. In a statement from Rep. Clarke’s office the act “seeks to strengthen and expand the U.S. government’s current program on international family planning and reproductive health into a more comprehensive sexual and reproductive health program.”

...

“By revising existing legislation to meet current international standards, we can establish an integrated, progressive model for delivering more efficient and effective sexual and reproductive health services across the globe.”


This reminds me of something that Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, stated recently as groups such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United States Agency for Int'l Dev't (USAID) and Int'l Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) continue to assume and/or assert that millions and millions of women in developing nations want and need contraception -- when it's clean water and basic health care that are sorely needed.

"The existing programs of family planning are imposing Western views on people who have a different view of life and very different desires for family size," [Steven Mosher] said. The approach taken by such groups as UNFPA and Planned Parenthood is "contraceptive imperialism," according to Mosher, "exporting the mentality of Manhattan ... or Hollywood to relatively innocent, untouched corners of the world."


If the Philippines elects a leader from one of the presidential candidates who profess support for the Reproductive Health bill (HB 5043), then this cultural imperialism will very easily take place. And our leaders will sell our country, along with our values and people, wholeheartedly to the global conquerors.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wishing for rain

When temperatures reach 37 degrees celsius during the day, and electric bills skyrocket, airconditioning starts feeling like a privilege of aristocrats who have half a dozen rest homes and take bimonthly vacations in seaside towns and mountain resorts.

However, thanks to the sweltering heat that we are currently experiencing during the height of summer, I have discovered the wonder that is a glass of iced water (the appreciation a wonder in itself, considering I have been viewing old Coca-Cola commercials on YouTube quite often the past couple of weeks), and the delight of a quick bath using iced water in a pail!!! Let me emphasize that the amount of ice (in the pail, not the glass) will certainly spell the difference between healthy refreshment and falling ill.

Hence, I am wishing for rain, for when there was a drizzle one afternoon recently, it was as if even the grass took a breather from the scorching heat. No one likes either being inside a sauna or feeling like there is a giant hair dryer nearby. Which is why even merely watching someone having a ball amid raindrops gave me much relief. Here is Gene Kelly in that wonderful scene from the 1952 comedy musical "Singin' in the Rain" (which, I learned, the actor also co-directed and for which he provided the choreography). Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Think about it

Something I agree with:

Information should be used as food for thought,
not poison to the soul.
~ Shellie R. Warren




Something I hope is inaccurate:

Most people are willing to pay more to be amused
than to be educated.
~ Robert C. Savage, Life Lessons



Something I would like to understand:

There is no hope for a civilization which starts each day
to the sound of an alarm clock.
~ Author Unknown



Fast and swift

Thanks to a Facebook friend, I came across this video of a clever bag-snatching operation that took place in a fast food joint. I've watched it several times already, noting the apparent involvement of 5 persons in the crime (maybe more?). Too bad nobody seemed to be manning the security camera, or else the thieves would have been apprehended right there and then.

I'm posting it here to serve as a warning to others, especially those who usually go about their business unmindful of what goes on around them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

He's got the look


Ready for anything in the cold climate -- Pitti Uomo





Classic for the gentlemen -- New York City




Style ought to be effortless, darling




Uh... right. And suited to the weather.






Haha! Effortless and suited to the weather.





Too cool to care about image -- Paris




Color can dictate your palette of emotions for the entire day -- Florence





Style, ease, economy of movement -- Milan







Effortless style, comfort, and moves whichever way he wants. Loves the tropics.
Ready for anything.



* All photos except tropical baby and freezing girl in bonnet from The Sartorialist


Monday, April 12, 2010

Hype, hip, and hope in real beauty

I remember one summer in the '80s when my parents spent about a month in the US, visiting relatives and friends, enjoying the sights, and experiencing what they could in that limited time from coast to coast.

When they came back to the Philippines, among the "treasures" in their suitcases were back issues of Seventeen magazine. Those were for me, they said -- a gift from one of my cousins who, I assumed, outgrew them already as she was several years my senior. I was in high school and it was just the sort of thing to give me a thrill!

As far as I remember, this heralded my entry into the world of fashion & beauty (as the commercially driven mainstream culture then knew it), and into the eye-candy-but-often-authenticity-empty world of products, looks, effects, allure, and everything else that has for its foundation a "look good, feel good" dictum. It's possible that there were, of course, articles or fashion layouts meant to enrich the soul or underscore the primacy of virtue in the grand scheme of things...but I must have missed them. To be sure, I did develop a reasonably okay sense of overall style thanks partly to the years of fashion magazine-flipping. But I developed much more than that. And I believe that a lot of grownup women now will agree with me when I say that looking through women's magazines habitually -- particularly those that revolve around the themes of fashion and beauty (treated the conventional way, of course) -- prompts a feeling of inadequacy in the reader. In fact, I've read somewhere that subtle feelings of inadequacy regarding one's physical features are felt by some women after going through a magazine of this nature only once. Now I can't remember if this slight blow to one's self-confidence is primarily caused by the ads (visuals and text combined), or by the ideas put forth by both the ads and editorial content, or only by the visuals encountered by the reader as she leafed through the mag.

Needless to say, anything that sees print and is presented well seems to achieve "pedestal-status." It tends to be more easily believed or given importance (ideas) or regarded as ... ahem, cool (or hot, hip, wicked, astig, etc., depending on the generation and the colloquial terms of the times) or as something to aspire for (images) -- especially where impressionable and sometimes-unthinking media consumers are concerned.






Was I delighted to come across a blog post about one mom's vigilance and humorous take on a clothing company's apparently desperate moves in order to increase sales. This is not fresh news but it does warrant publicity. Too bad the link to the post is gone, but here's an excerpt:

...I'm not sure what led you to resurrect the old trashy t-shirt campaign, but I'm guessing it's a last ditch attempt to get back in the news. Perhaps you are relying on your once loyal market demographic: Young women with zero self-esteem and zero self-respect. You know, the kind of girls who are so desperate for attention that they're willing to settle for the wrong kind of attention. Because let's be honest, the only person who would wear one of the t-shirts above is someone who doesn't think they have anything else to offer other than well, their parts and services. But here's where your thinking is severely flawed: Girls have become much more adept at identifying the real M.O. behind marketing schemes such as yours.


I love it :-)

Women at any age can feel this bombardment (whether explicit or more subtle) of messages from the media that they're either too fat, too skinny, too short, too old or maybe not smart enough, pretty enough, perky enough, white enough... or simply, not good enough. And teenage and tween girls are probably the most vulnerable when it comes to believing and accepting such messages. Here are two things to make you think and, hopefully, help you guide them to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted individuals. You may even find these a tad helpful for yourself if there's something that's keeping you from appreciating yourself and striving for genuine self-improvement.

The first is part of Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. The one that follows is the piece I wrote for the April 2009 issue's Editor's Notebook (bigger version here). I had blogged about that issue of Baby Magazine when it came out but decided to post the piece again for anyone who may find it helpful.










Sunday, April 11, 2010

Human ingenuity, truth & the real thing

Human ingenuity, when placed in the service of genuine progress, will eventually lead to Truth.

Frankly, I have no idea why I'm writing that statement. For a while there I was thinking of recent events and some exchanges of ideas brought about by those events. Then I came across the video below, which I personally considered a welcome respite from the wave of news (some objectively reported, others seemingly a mere expression of loathing).

Here's the video:




On hindsight, perhaps what I really wanted to write above was, When love is the foundation of a person's actions, he will be led to the Truth. And when one lets that love guide him, he will help build a world furnished with love, even if he does it only in his corner of the world. Well, I have a classic TV commercial to thank for getting me on this train of thought.

Disclaimer: I continue to believe that there are other much better and healthier drinks than soda :-)


Monday, March 22, 2010

"A mindset that leads to action"

I hear rebels with a cause Alex and Brett Harris may be including Manila in their Do Hard Things Tour this year :-)



"Scout's honor"... sounds silly now

Excerpt from Feminine Genius:

Sit-upons and camp fire songs are so last century:

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) The World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides hosted a no-adults-welcome panel at the United Nations this week where Planned Parenthood was allowed to distribute a brochure entitled “Healthy, Happy and Hot.” The event was part of the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which concludes this week.

The brochure, aimed at young people living with HIV, contains explicit and graphic details on sex, as well as the promotion of casual sex in many forms. The brochure claims, “Many people think sex is just about vaginal or anal intercourse… But, there are lots of different ways to have sex and lots of different types of sex. There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself!”



Really can't add anything to this as I am still speechless regarding the whole matter. Read the rest at Feminine Genius (yes, there's more)

Children's cenaculo in puppetry!

There's something about the movie Jesus of Nazareth starring Robert Powell that fascinated me as a child. Every year, during Holy Week, the film would be shown on TV -- on channel 9 if I remember correctly. It is such a long movie that it would be shown in several parts. And every year, I would watch it, not missing any part.

I still remember the actors (Olivia Hussey as Mary, Michael York as John the Baptist...), Jesus' piercing blue eyes (which to me gave the character even more mystery) as a child who conversed with elders in the temple and as the man followed by his disciples, the way Joseph taught the child Jesus the use of a ruler in carpentry in one scene, the way Jesus' death drove his mother to hysterics at the foot of the cross (now I really doubt that a perfect creature such as Jesus' mother would have reacted so emotionally, but that's a different story altogether). I had my "fill" of the story of salvation through this movie, which I was engrossed in each year for a time.




Two years ago, I experienced a different and striking depiction of this story. Saying I had "fun" doesn't sound right (since it was on the Passion and Death of Christ); I guess you could say it was a novelty. My friend Petrufied is part of the children's puppet group Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas and among the group's regular shows is "Papet Pasyon," its yearly Palm Sunday offering. I'm watching it again in less than a week!

There's not enough of puppetry going on in our local art scene, and whatever puppet shows most of us are exposed to probably resemble the Sesame Street or local Sesame kind. Or the ones that are part of McDonald's kiddie party packages. The puppets used by Mulat look really interesting (they're made of wood), being manipulated with the use of sticks or rods. That the puppeteers are garbed in "Viet cong-esque" all black -- against a black backdrop -- makes for a fascinating element as well.

The audience is composed mostly of kids, which adds to the enjoyment of watching a puppet show. Once in a while you'll hear funny comments from the little ones or questions about what's going on onstage. And when Amelia Lapena-Bonifacio (fondly called Lola Amel), the venerable lady who founded Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas in 1977, starts each show with a short casual introduction, the kids respond to her questions in unison -- and with gusto!

Okay, here are the details of this year's "Papet Pasyon":

PAPET PASYON
(the Philippines' 1st and only children's senakulo in puppetry)
FOR FREE!!!

March 28, 2010/Palm Sunday
3:00 & 5:30 pm
Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Teatro Papet Museo
64 Mapagkawanggawa St., Teachers' Village, Quezon City
(it's the block between Maginhawa and Matimtiman streets)
for details call 921.9773, 929.0895, 0918.903.2040


* You are welcome to bring your palaspas!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Imperialism isn't always in the form...

...of military bases.

"The existing programs of family planning are imposing Western views on people who have a different view of life and very different desires for family size," [Steven Mosher] said. The approach taken by such groups as UNFPA and Planned Parenthood is "contraceptive imperialism," according to Mosher, "exporting the mentality of Manhattan ... or Hollywood to relatively innocent, untouched corners of the world."


If even the Walt Disney empire can be an imperialist tool, what about other things that reach into the deeper levels of a people's culture with a foreign concept?

[The Population Research Institute] has conducted surveys in such countries as Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Mexico and found in every case that "reproductive health" was lowest on women's list of health care priorities. "It's not what they want," said Mosher. "We're not responding to their pleas for help. ... They ask for clean drinking water, and we give them contraceptives."

He explained that women in the developing world are deemed "ipso facto [to] have a so-called unmet need for contraception" based on the simple fact that they had a baby in the last two years and are not currently sterilized or on contraception.

"In other words, they're not asking these women if they want contraceptives," he said. "They're assuming."

Read the full story here


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