Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chopsticks tips & etiquette, at a glance

Aren't the drawings below positively cute?! They were posted on the Facebook page of Japan Lover Me but you can check out its website, too.

As for chopsticks use, I simply ask for spoon and fork to make the whole dining experience more pleasant (and easier). But thank God for this guide -- through it I learned that sticking one's chopsticks upright on a bowl of rice or any other food signifies death or mourning. I remember doing this more than once...

Hope these help you out!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Let him slay the dragon

I started this post days ago, but for some reason, the link to the video I originally placed on the draft is gone. It was a video of speaker Jason Evert talking with a small group of students -- the same one in the video below -- about the natural tendency of men wanting to be the ones to "slay the dragon," so to speak, and the merits of women allowing the men to do this (hence, the title up there). The video eludes me now so I'm sharing another one below.

I wonder what the gentlemen can say about this. As a woman, I'll have to say that I find a lot of the things Jason Evert said reassuring -- and funny, but true. They've also made me realize that maybe we've set the bar for men too low in recent decades.

What has the sexual revolution accomplished for humanity? Some say it was a liberation of sorts for women, that by enabling women to have more control over their fate (in terms of the outcome of sexual encounters), women supposedly achieved greater freedom. Well, is freedom supposed to come with less happiness, less respectability, lower self-esteem and more diseases, and more psychological problems? Because the way I see it, with the discovery of the Pill (and its supposed liberation for women) came more women who are constantly looking for affirmation, and who seem to either draw out more ungentlemanly behavior in men or who enjoy ridiculing men and their "cluelessness" about many things. Also, was the spread of sexually transmitted diseases -- and to such proportions as it is currently in -- a by-product of the sexual revolution, foreseen by its most enthusiastic advocates?

Well, fortunately, there is always hope as long as there is life. A lot has changed since the 1960s when it comes to norms on relations between men and women. Even though we have little control over the path that society takes, the choices we as individuals make are completely up to us and this, in turn, can influence the people around us.

So, are you going to slay the dragon?

If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life....

Is there anyone who aims to be miserable? Do you know anyone who does not long for a life of happiness?

Something in the video below struck me -- it's the part where the narrator pointed out that people, when they experience feelings of insecurity, tend to focus more on material things (which may translate to making unintended purchases). Still, whenever I'm out in the mall and I pass all those stores with such attractive window displays and inviting merchandise, I strive to keep in mind what a philosopher (was it Socrates?) supposedly said the following to himself whenever coming upon some goods: Here are more things that I don't need.

The first video illustrates some really thought-provoking ideas and findings about life, happiness, and our search for the latter as we got about the former. With materialism hovering over us and often taking over our priorities and choices, the result is sometimes a false sense of happiness. And unwittingly we pass on this imbalance in priorities to our children or to other young ones who look up to us, and what do we get? It's in the second video.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Two pages from the past

Borrowing a few old issues of Baby magazine from Petrufied led to a brief reminiscence. After poring over the pages, I recalled experiences which showed that being part of such a project was such a privilege. Charming babies aside, it was the aim to support, guide and inspire young parents (and entertain them along the way) that kept us grounded in our responsibility.

I haven't even bothered to count how many editorial notes I wrote in my four years at Baby, but even if just a handful of readers found any of them helpful in any way, I'm happy. Here are two of my favorites. The second one I remember well since a mother wrote us and said that she didn't even wait to get out of the bookstore to tear open the plastic wrap carrying the magazine, as the issue theme -- Babies with special needs -- was relevant to her family's circumstances. Was I touched to know that the note I wrote drove her to tears -- in a good way, I believe.

Reading both notes below -- written in 2011 and 2008, respectively -- made me realize they both dwell on that most important element in life: love. Well, what can I say? It does make the world go round as it is the essence of life for anyone who aims to live and not merely exist.

If you'd like a glimpse of the Beatles-inspired cover, here it is.

Finding love here, there & everywhere

When two of my US-based nieces were toddlers, their parents flew them over to spend six months with us Manila-based folks. During that time, one of the things that we occasionally did was sing together while someone accompanied the singing on the piano. Tammy and Michelle had a jolly good time every time, no matter what the songs or how off-key we got. But there were two songs that had the sisters rapt in attention whenever these were belted out. Michelle gazed in wonder as soon as she heard "Michelle, ma belle, these are words that go together well, my Michelle..." and sat, fascinated, sometimes bobbing her head, till the end. Tammy gave more or less the same reaction whenever we'd launch into an old Debbie Reynolds song (actually, it was my mom who knew it and the rest of us just sort of hummed along) called "Tammy," probably fascinated how her name figured into a "real" song.

Perhaps having their "very own song" sung to them felt like another manifestation of how the world revolved around them, which is somewhat how young children see life -- which is how each of us starts out till we gradually mature with the help of our parents into learning to adjust to the big world of which we are part. Dwelling on this memory now makes me think about love and how a person who believes the world revolves around him would find it difficult to love. Why? Because the essence of love is being other-centered, and what has a self-centered grownup to offer others if he is always absorbed in satisfying his own wants and needs? Sure, affection, understanding, laughter, gifts, sympathy, forgiveness -- these are elements that are part of the good relationships anyone (self-absorbed or not) maintains with loved ones. But genuine love is much more than that, and it's one thing to love when everything is smooth-sailing, and another to love during the times when it becomes difficult to do so.

I'm pretty sure we're addressing some real concerns in this issue that you parents have in mind. Responsible parenting has been an "explosive" issue lately and we hope our take on natural family planning in "Recipe for success: The Billings Ovulation Method -- What? Why? How?" (page 22) empowers you to know more about your fertility, understand yourself and your spouse, and see how God has wonderfully designed the human body and taken care of everything so that -- if we do our part -- even our health is protected when we let nature take its course. Also along the lines of good health are "The bedtime story: Is sex during pregnancy safe for mom and baby?" (page 24) and "A perfect (and healthy!) Valentine's date (page 28), both delving on crucial matters as well. Whether the situation with your spouse right now has you singing the Beatles' "All my loving," "Please please me," or "We can work it out," you're going to have to learn these matters sometime, so you can start right on our pages!

Now, if dealing with your in-laws has your musical radar reflecting the likes of "Help!" and "Give peace a chance," by all means sing your heart out! But do turn to page 57 while you're at it and be heartened by "Happy ever after... with your in-laws" and know that there is always a way to make things better.

Love starts out simple -- we are, after all, created to love -- but gets complicated along the way. However, since it's how much we've loved that matters in the end, shouldn't our days' soundtrack run along the lines of "...I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love"? Then, amid the challenges with the spouse, the kids, the in-laws and everything in between, will you be able to sing "In my life, I've loved them all..."? 

* * * * *

"Kahit ano, basta normal"

One of the punishments that come with watching interviews with celebrities on local television is listening to mundane questions, to which are often given just as mundane answers. Besides the standard "What's your wish for (celeb's name) on her birthday?" "Sino ang gusto mong maging leading man/woman?" and standard lines such as "Sana po panoorin n'yo ang (movie title), napakagandang pelikula," there's one line I'd been hearing for years that I always found strange, even as a 10-, 11-year-old. It's the title up there, which was the reply often given by pregnant or newlywed guests to hosts who had just asked "Ano'ng gusto mo, boy o girl?"

After hearing the answer, I'd always wonder, "Pa'no kung hindi normal, hindi niya mamahalin ang anak niya?"

Well, I think nobody on the verge of parenthood asks to be given a child with mental, physical or developmental disabilities (save for a handful of couples in the United States I have read about who have purposely selected babies with Down Syndrome for adoption, prompted by compassion and a desire to give more of themselves to the demands of parenthood), but I couldn't help but think -- even as a child -- that something was very wrong about making a declaration like "Kahit ano, basta normal" (and for the entire viewing public to hear at that). 

It's not that I was touchy about having  a sister who has Down Syndrome (DS). If I were, I probably wouldn't have grown up gleefully pointing out to her the little girl with DS on those Sesame Street episodes every time she appeared, or delightedly told my older siblings repeatedly that the girl hobnobbing with the muppets or Maria and Bob looked so much like our sister.

People with DS, autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and several other conditions have come to be called "special needs" persons. "Special children" is how others refer to the little ones. Giftedness falls under the category of special needs as well because dealing with a gifted child does present with it unconventional situations that require special approaches and courses of action.

But then the human race isn't composed of automated robots; who, then, isn't special in one way or another? Some need lenses to read, others carry on with food allergies, a scoliotic condition or difficult pregnancies. There are those who deal with phobias, or have "photographic memories" or tower over the rest of the population at over 6 feet. Whether it's physical, mental or psychological, individual differences have always been there. It's only in our time that the term "special needs" came into vogue.

Also during our time, a lot of headway has been made in terms of research, evaluation and treatment. In this issue of Baby, you'll read accounts of families who have taken advantage of this wealth of information and other resources now at our disposal. We would've wanted to fill these pages with medical information and all there is to learn about special conditions. But I think what will have more of an impact are stories of real people who are experiencing the challenges of parenthood under special circumstances, how they're turning perceived obstacles into stepping stones, and what practical steps they've taken to address their particular situations.

Individual differences indeed we have. A person with special needs, however, such as those with conditions I've mentioned, carries in himself the same dignity as the next person. Being born with DS or autism or an extremely high IQ does not in any way diminish one's worth as a human being; being entrusted with a special-needs child can certainly increase a parent's capacity to love, sometimes even surpassing one's expectations. So, if you find yourself wondering (maybe lamenting?) why -- of all mothers -- a special child was given to you, it's possible it has something to do with love (lots of it) that you didn't know you had in you, a child who needs it in a way that only you can give.

* * * * *

Friday, July 26, 2013

'The imagination is the limit'

Nowadays, a lot of toys beep, light up, whir and make all sorts of sounds. Sometimes I can't help but think, while observing some kids with their playthings, "Is the child supposed to simply watch the toy do all the 'playing'?" Developing the imagination can be compromised if the child gets very little stimulation to be creative apart from such a toy. 

Now here's the story of Lego! It's certainly the kind of "documentary" I like --

Thursday, July 25, 2013

No jackets required

Top hats and walking sticks are remnants of the past and may be considered costumes. But the disposition and actions of a gentleman are timeless and belong in any era. Plus, they're constant and not worn or removed like hats and jackets.

If you fancy some materials that explore the topic further, this previous post titled Knights without the shining armor should be interesting.

And I'll bet some of these ideas have never occurred to you shows three short videos that partly explain why masculinity and femininity seem to have become confusing concepts the past decades.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The circumstances and conditions are totally different, but I thought I'd share two things I stumbled on at Facebook in this single post. The first is unfortunate, and I truly hope the problem is addressed soon to let the 18-year-old proceed to Rio for the World Youth Day festivities.

The second is simply a photo, with the act punctuated by a relevant quote worth remembering. Wish I could find the story behind the picture.

KLM's denial of Filipino WYD delegate's flight hit

MANILA, Philippines—An 18-year-old indigenous Filipino woman who was en route to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for World Youth Day was denied boarding on her onward flight on July 20 at the Kuala Lumpur airport, because personnel of KLM Airlines said she appeared “not ready to travel” even if she had a folder with full documentation supporting her trip to Brazil.

The incident involving Arjean Marie Belco of Bukidnon’s Talaandig tribe was posted on the social networking site Facebook in a letter of complaint from Goodxorg, the sponsor of her Brazil trip.

According to the Facebook post, Belco went through immigration in Malaysia without incident but was not allowed to board her connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro by a KLM employee identified as Mr. Shawa who said that Belco appeared “not ready to travel” and “that he was doubtful” about her trip, “even if she had a folder full of documentation.”

Full story 

* * * * *

UPDATE/July 23: Based on a GMA News reported July 23, the Filipino WYD delegate is on her way to Brazil.


Although GoodXorg has not provided any details as to how Belco’s ordeal with the airline was resolved, the foundation said in its post on Tuesday that Petzhold immediately flew to Malaysia from Manila upon hearing of the teenager’s plight. The filmmaker reportedly talked to KLM officials and visited an attaché at the Embassy of the Philippines in Malaysia in hopes of finding a way to enable Belco to board a flight to Brazil immediately.

Read Talaandig tribal girl heads to World Youth Day in Brazil after 'travel delay' in Malaysia

Monday, July 22, 2013

Your attention, please

Here are some interesting findings of separate experiments on the effects of stimuli on the brain and human behavior. What stimuli? Mozart music, and the scent of chocolate.

Researchers report the soothing sounds of a Mozart minuet boosts the ability of children and seniors to focus on a task and ignore extraneous information.
Compared to working in silence, their reaction times were significantly quicker, and their error rates were lower, when the original Mozart piece was played. In contrast, when the dissonant music was playing, reaction times were significantly slower, and error rates significantly higher.

Read To stay focused, listen to Mozart

They report shoppers are more likely to engage in leisurely browsing—and ultimately purchase books in certain popular genres, including romance novels—if the store is infused with the scent of chocolate.

Read Chocolate: The scent that could save struggling bookstores

* Art work from

On the dark side

Ah, young Skywalker, anger management could have helped...

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Giant -- that's the title of a classic 1956 movie with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean leading the cast. It is set in Texas, which is massive and is the second largest state in  the US (Alaska is the largest) -- hence, the title. I was reminded of this film after reading news reports and commentaries and seeing pictures of the continuing developments taking place in this state showing the intense debate concerning abortion legislation. Some useful links are in a previous post to bring you up to speed about what's been happening there.

First, some photos posted at the Students for Life of America Facebook page (I'm copying the captions as they appear there, except for the second photo, which shows students on their way to a Planned Parenthood facility outside of which they spent some time standing and praying):

Missy talks about the Planned Parenthood Project at the Planned Parenthood rally

Our group at the Capitol

On the Students for Life of America website was an account of the Stand4Life Bus Tour in Austin, Texas the group embarked on. The post is dated July 11, so a lot has obviously happened since then, but it gives one a closer look at some things that transpired at the event. Related information and observations are in there, too -- some of them deeply disappointing but nevertheless necessary to open our eyes to the reality of what the culture of death is doing and will continue to do if left to spread and make more inroads in society. Here's an excerpt:

While things are looking grim for the other side, pro-abortion men have also stepped up to make their voices heard in the debate.  Ben Sherman, a pro-abortion boy, took to his blog to explain the #brochoice movement. He wrote that if abortion isn’t readily accessible, especially in his state of Texas, men’s sex lives are at stake. It was the ultimate form of male-chauvinism, yet NARAL and other pro-abortion women’s groups took to Twitter in support of the campaign.
Can you believe this actually happened? Here’s what Sherman wrote to other men as to why they should be #brochoice:
·         “Forcing women to adhere to the anti-choice attitudes of state legislators forces men to do the same, and will have serious consequences both on men’s lives and lifestyles.”

·         “Your sex life is at stake. Can you think of anything that kills the vibe faster than a woman fearing a back-alley abortion? Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.”

Read Texas: A glimpse into the future

And for anyone who may still be holding out on the possibility that Planned Parenthood exists for a noble cause and actually cares about its clientele, here's something to think about:


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When love and hate collide

 Very significant incidents and developments in the cause of life and family have happened the past couple of weeks in different parts of the world. They continue to happen, and since I have little time to spend on writing about them, let me instead share links to articles you will want to check out. Specifically, these will give you the lowdown on the goings-on in Ireland, Chile and the United States. Bravery, hate, faith, fortitude, evil... you'll see demonstrations of these as you learn more about the things that went on.

Ireland lower house passes permissive abortion law, 127-31

Texas Senate passes bill to ban late-term abortion despite abortion mob 

Texas police confiscate jars of feces, urine from pro-abortion activists

Lila Rose named one of the most influential women under 35 in Washington

Raped 11-year-old girl from Chile courageously rejects abortion

Radicals push for forced abortion of pregnant 11-year-old Chilean rape victim

* Photo of the All-Ireland Rally for Life 2013 (July 6) by Paul Keeling. More photos at the Youth Defence Facebook page

Saturday, July 13, 2013

'God knows Hudas not pay'

Going around Manila by public transportation is always an adventure -- sometimes, a misadventure. Either way, there's a lot to learn about life, courtesy, human psychology, even charity when you don't let your experiences simply go by with nary a thought about them.

Come to think of it, there's an interesting assortment of modes of transportation available to commuters in Manila: bus, jeepney, tricycle, pedicab, taxi, train.In other parts of the country, there's the improvised motorcycle that uses a wooden plank to transport more passengers (this is not something I would recommend due to safety issues).

Petrufied wrote an insightful and very helpful (and humorous) blog post on being a more mindful jeepney passenger. How? Well, kindness is vital. Here's an excerpt:

Let people coming in find a seat nearer the entrance. The jeepney is filling up, and one bad habit passengers have is to squeeze themselves as close to the entrance/exit side as possible. Okay, so everyone wants to be able to hop off as soon as they get to their stop, but think about that poor last passenger whose balance is tried as he makes his way to that empty space near the driver the moment the jeep starts accelerating to Full Speed Ahead. It's actually dangerous--just like trying to fasten your seat belt in a carnival ride after the ride has started moving--but nobody seems to care because perhaps nobody has slipped and fallen to oblivion before.

Read How to be kind in a cramped jeepney 

Now, let's move on to taxis. But it's a new modus operandi I have in mind, due to an article I came across just today about a woman who was victimized recently. I wonder if any criminals read my blog. If you happen to be one, don't you think it would do you good to change your ways and live being at peace with your Maker and the people around you? Better do it now while you're still breathing!

If you ride taxis regularly or know people who do, check out the article -- which also links to a GMA News report that contains additional details.

I'm not in the habit of taking cabs, but I like Big Yellow Taxi by Counting Crows. Have a look and a listen.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A life lesson... and a quasi-pep talk from a dad

There's no need for caped superheroes or impressive military generals in movies uttering pep talks on this basic principle in life to underscore how true it is.

Wouldn't children turn out to be healthier, happier and more responsible adults if they grew up being ingrained with this fact? Seeing this graphic reminded me of an article someone shared on Facebook. Here's an excerpt:
We bought into the philosophy that children needed unlimited self-esteem, maximum freedom and minimal pressure to succeed in life or contribute to society. We taught our kids to think of themselves as entitled and to see themselves as the center of the universe. Now instead of parents having expectations of their children, children have expectations of how their parents are supposed to behave. We're here to serve them, to make their lives as comfortable and convenient as possible.

Parents, you're doing a great job. If you think you aren't, well, now is a good time to shape up -- especially if you'd like to do a better job of guiding your kids. Have faith in your capabilities (even if you falter at times)! And remember...

Sunday, July 07, 2013

"...the power to change a man's heart"

Ever wonder how the mere mention of "modesty" usually has people thinking of clothes? Modesty really goes beyond that but since we don't go around with our eyes shut, our reactions and judgments are often formed initially by what we see. So it's no surprise that when this virtue is discussed, a lot of it has to do with the kind of clothing we wear.

Jason Evert tackles this topic with humor when he talks about the power that women have over men-- no, he's not pitting men against women or fueling a battle between the sexes here, just giving straight talk on the wonderful differences between how men and women see fashion, and about love and life in general. Jason was in the Philippines in 2011 for the Real Love Revolution event and he'll be back this year, this time with his wife Crystalina! Mark September 7 on your date book!

Here's an excerpt from one of Jason's gigs in Manila.

You can view another video of Jason talking with a group of guys and girls in a previous post

Get the details of Real Love Revolution 2013 at the Catalyst website

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Just say the word

The way the next generation turns out depends much on us. We don't and can't deal with all the kids in the world, and that's not what we're meant to do. So start with those around you -- your own, or those in your care or under your supervision.

What do your words show to the people -- children and grown-ups -- around you?

Monday, July 01, 2013

Looking back

It cracks me up everytime I hear of some anecdote about young fellows being clueless about contraptions or simple everyday objects from a previous era. One instance had a teenage girl stumped by a rotary-dial telephone. "Grandma, how do you use this thing?" she asked, obviously born in the age of push-button
appliances or probably mobile phones already. I read that in a magazine article that had a collection of stories of such cross-generational inquiries.

Then there was another young girl who, upon seeing a vinyl long-playing album for the first time, quipped something like "Wow, grandma/grandpa! You sure had big CDs back then..." I read that, too.

And a few years ago, a colleague related how his preschool-aged daughters came running to him and excitedly reported, "Dad, we found something weird," and showed the "weird" thing to him. It was a cassette tape.

I've blogged about vintage stuff several times already. This and this are a couple of posts about it, which I hope you enjoy reading.

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