Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How you can help Typhoon Maring victims

The wet season in the Philippines is at this time of the year till around October or early November, and the past couple of days have been tough for hundreds of thousands of people in several parts of the country. Over a million have been affected by Typhoon Maring, says this news report. The evacuation centers in Marikina alone, one of the hardest hit areas, are taking care of over 25,000 people.

I've put together information on how you can help by way of relief goods or cash donations. This is a quickly put-together post so only a few initiatives are included -- those I've come across on Facebook or were mentioned by friends.

No amount of help is too small or too big! Any form of assistance counts!

See photos of the flooding here

Here is also something very important that you will want to consider when giving out relief supplies or when thinking of what items to donate --

Safely feeding an infant with formula requires 1) access to a constant supply of formula  2) access to clean water  3) access to heating implements (proper preparation of formula requires heating of water to a certain temperature)  4) ability to clean feeding implements.

As we know, evacuation centers are often crowded and have very limited water supply.  Any available water is likely to be contaminated.  Using this water to mix formula leads to diarrhea which in situations like this, often leads to death.

When infant formula is included in every relief pack given out, it is made available even to mothers who are successfully breastfeeding.  Why is this a problem? Mothers who are breastfeeding and displaced due to an emergency are often made to believe that the ‘stress’ from the emergency affects their ability to breastfeed; that their breast milk becomes insufficient and inadequate.  They then end up giving formula to their healthy breastfed child.  The truth is that breastfeeding is especially protective in disaster situations.  A mother’s breast milk will contain the same amount of calories, with the right proportion of protein and fat, regardless of the mother’s nutritional status.  With breastfeeding there is no need to provide water, so exposure to deadly bacteria and contaminants is avoided.

Read Protecting babies during emergencies: How the public can help

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

3 guide posts

“Arrogance invites ruin; humility receives benefits.”
- Chinese proverb

“To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”
- Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th U.S. President

“Live so that when your children think of fairness 
and integrity, they think of you.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr., writer

Monday, August 05, 2013

Using blurred analytical lenses?

This is all that I'll point out about it for now. More informative and detailed materials to come soon.

A diamond in the (digital) rough

Making social networking sites a regular part of your online life can have a tremendous impact on the course of your days -- for better or worse! There's a lot of garbage and also a lot of gems in there, and you'll somehow need to determine your priorities and decide what role these sites will play for you (if you'll make use of them at all) so as not to get lost and stuck in all that digital sludge.

Here's a "diamond in the rough," so to speak. Thanks to friends who have shared it on Facebook. I appreciate the straightforward and beautiful way Scott Hahn explored and explained the matter of the Eucharist. From his Facebook wall:

Question: Scott, I'm in a relationship with a girl who joins me at Mass on Saturdays, and we go to her Methodist church on Sundays. She asks why she cannot receive communion at my church, but I can at hers? How do I explain the difference?

Chris, I'm not sure if this will help your friend, but it's what I found to be useful, in reflecting on my own spiritual journey: I began as an evangelical bible-believing christian, and later became a protestant pastor, until my bible study and prayer led me to find the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church - the family of God the Father, and the Bride of His Son - and so I became a Catholic.

In the process, my view of the Eucharist (what it is and who should receive it) underwent development, in three stages:

1. As a bible-believing evangelical (at a non denominational fellowship), I saw the Lord's Supper and communion as a profound symbol of God's love, like a divine embrace or a warm hug.

2. In becoming a presbyterian minister, I came to see it as something even more sacred, like a tender loving kiss from our Lord, which is how most mainline protestants still think (e.g., Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists).

3. Upon discovering the Catholic faith, I came to see how the gift of the Eucharist is more analogous to the intimacy of the marital act, by which Christ, the divine bridegroom, unites Himself to the Church, His beloved bride, for the purpose of consummating and renewing His 'one-flesh' covenant as a life-giving mystery with us (Eph 5:31-32).

So for me, in the first two stages, inviting 'non-members' to share communion was not a big deal nor an insurmountable problem. However, in the Catholic tradition, where it is seen as comparable to marital intimacy, it is fitting and necessary to make a public act and a personal commitment to identify myself with the Catholic Church, which I profess to be the true bride of Christ. Incidentally, this perspective is reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1617:

"The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is, so to speak, the nuptial bath, which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant."

In retrospect, I see why non-catholics view our practice as a form of spiritual elitism; whereas for the Church Fathers, it's simply a matter of covenantal integrity and marital fidelity.

I hope this helps.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Lavish lifestyles, poverty, and Napoles

What's wrong with flaunting one's wealth
Janet Lim-Napoles asks.  

Where did all that wealth come from? 
the Filipino people ask.

What's all the buzz?

Did you ever see a copy of The How & Why Wonder Book of Ants and Bees? We had one at home and it was my only means of exposure to bees... till now. Of course there was National Geographic and other similar television shows, but we had only the standard local channels at home while growing up, and those programs were accessible on cable.

I'm not sure why but I didn't see any bees in our garden during my childhood. It was only months ago that I started spotting those little winged creatures buzzing about the hedge composed of lantana (which draws quite a lot of insects, I just discovered recently). Frankly, I don't really care for bees -- they're not much to look at, and there's the stinging thing going on. No one wants to run the risk of being stung by a bee, and there are many other creatures roaming about our garden that go about their business and don't pay attention to humans.

"They're so ugly!" I told a friend once after snapping a few photos of a bee hopping from one flower to another; the pictures were clear enough to let me zoom in and still see sharp images of the tiny creature, furry portions, bulging eyes and all. After watching an assortment of butterflies and moths make their way around the hedge of colorful blooms several times a day, the drab appearance of bees looked even more drab.

Pretty soon I became accustomed to the presence of the bees and continued photographing them. It probably took a nice picture to help me appreciate them and accept their less-than-charming appearance. Well, capturing an image of a little creature engrossed in its "job" in its little portion of the hedge of pretty blooms can change one's prejudices. While life goes on around them, while political elections take place, airplanes crash, a royal birth is highly anticipated, news of corruption blows up, petty quarrels happen on social media -- while all these take place, the little bees go about quietly doing what they are meant to do. And what a worker each one is: beautiful flowers keep blooming all around because of it. Because of this insect that I found so ugly, there is much beauty to appreciate in the foliage around our home.

I found a video of a segment from the Discovery Channel which shows, in less than 5 minutes, how honey is made. These bees are amazing! But then so is human ingenuity, which is responsible for coming up with new and improved ways to do just about anything -- including making good use of that all-natural gooey fluid from honeybees. I shall never think of these winged creatures as ugly again, and I hope I never get stung!

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