"To laugh often and much... to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children . . . to leave the world a better place. . . & to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived...

This is to have succeeded

my random thoughts...

Monday, June 30, 2008

A tribute to my pets

This is Pichu and Motombo when they were a month old. =)
That's MOTOMBO and PICHU was the one lying on the side

PICHU while I cuddle her during her "puppy" days... =)
Pichu NOW - almost 8 months
Cuddling MOTOMBO

I can't explain it but I just adore my pets so much. I am referring to the two(2) dogs I have. Well, we actually have three (3) and I love that other dog dearly as well, but she's technically my dad's pet and the oldest among the three (3). She's actually a Border Collie which explains why she's so intelligent! She's the only one who always manages to "escape" from her cage from time to time. =)

PICHU - Female

My pets in their separate cages in the garage...
MOTOMBO - male, and is actually claimed by my nephew that is his and I am simply taking care of him... =)

Anyway, back to my own pets, aside from the various species of goldfish in my fish tank and small pond in the garage, these dogs Pichu and Motombo are just so sweet. I had them since they were just a month old and took care of them ever since. So they're like my "babies". =) I used to make them sleep over my lap when they were smaller but now at almost eight (8) months, they've grown so big already! That is why they have two (2) separate cages.

I am so sensitive to their needs that I wake up and go out to check on them at the wee hours of the night when I hear them incessantly barking. They're either hungry or some people outside the gate caught their attention. In any case, I always check them even if I am so sleepy already.

Every morning, I prepare their food ahead of mine. =) And you see them watching out for me as I emerged from the front door and then start to bark as a way of greeting me. My parents sometimes don't approve of how much I spoiled them especially with the budget I allot for their food but hey, they can't put a price on the joy and affection these dogs give me.

For some reason, they make me feel calm when I am stressed. They also make me feel that I am not alone as long as they're around. Come to think of it, I had them during the time my parents were away on vacation in the US and Canada. The way they look at me seem to say that they need me and that everything's gonna be ok.

A lot of people has asked me to give up one of them and I simply can't. Oh no. Over my dead body. =)
That's Pichu again... being the female one, she's a just a bit sweeter than Motombo...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On Humility

Let's just say with new things to do comes new people to meet, all of whom vary in terms of personalities and character. That explains the quotes...

"To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness."

"The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones."


On Greed:

"There are many things we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Grounded? Hmnnnn...

It's the end of the week, but not work. =) I have a meeting tomorrow ... enough about enjoying the weekend. =(

I am more grounded now than yesterday. That explains the new song in the blog and the somewhat sentiment it carries with it... But it's really a good song I even changed my message alert tone to that tune.

I feel okay but somehow still feel some "void" inside me, know what I mean? Maybe not. Even I don't get myself for feeling the way I do.

Ok, HBO's got this film on starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. It's halfway through already but its good to watch again. I saw this first on the plane going to Jakarta.

Good Night for now.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Sing along with the new song of my blog...

Colbie Caillat

V1: Take time to realize,
That your warmth is
Crashing down on in.
Take time to realize,
That I am on your side
Didn't I, Didn't I tell you.

But I can't spell it out for you,
No it's never gonna be that simple
No I cant spell it out for you

C: If you just realize what I just realized,
Then we'd be perfect for each other
and will never find another
Just realized what I just realized
we'd never have to wonder if
we missed out on each other now.

V2: Take time to realize
Oh-oh I'm on your side
didn't I, didn't I tell you.
Take time to realize
This all can pass you by
Didn't I tell you

But I can't spell it out for you,
no it's never gonna be that simple
no I can't spell it out for you.

C: If you just realized what I just realized
then we'd be perfect for each other
then we'd never find another
Just realized what I just realized
we'd never have to wonder if
we missed out on each other now.

V3: It's not always the same
no it's never the same
if you don't feel it too.
If you meet me half way
If you would meet me half way.
It could be the same for you.

C: If you just realize what I just realized
then we'd be perfect for each other
then we'd never find another
Just realize what I just realized
we'd never have to wonder
Just realize what I just realized

If you just realize what I just realized


missed out on each other now
missed out on each other now

Realize, realize
realize, realize

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I almost cried...

I was up all night because of the typhoon. Well, it didn't start that way though. I was just actually awake because I was watching the C/S channel. Then I got hungry... while looking for some snacks I then heard the sound of strong winds - like a whistle, but a very strong one in the air... the chimes hanging at the door of my parents house started to make all those sounds as the wind blew on them. I was staying in this other house but within the same gate. Naturally, our dogs started barking and barking! Then the power was cut-off.

The darkness made our pets more frantic and scared, with the sound of the chimes adding to the furor. I thought for awhile that electricity will come back in fifteen (15) minutes, but then when it took hours I got worried and stressed. Not only about the dogs who were restless but also because of my fishes who now lack the oxygen supply from its electric air pumps.

I was in the verge of tears as I watch my fishes gasp for air inside the tank and really got worried when the biggest goldfish, a black ranchu, has turned upside down!

Just in time, my very special friend texted me his usual morning greeting, even telling me he'll sleep again. However, I texted back my "situation" and apparent helplessness to him. And fortunately, he gave me "light" when he said I should do water changes, water being H20, and the act of pouring water in the tank actually creates aeration in the tank. He actually wanted me to let the water from the faucet to flow in the tank or in a temporary basin that would serve as the fishes' tank for the meantime, but I said I don't have a net that would prevent the fish from swimming out of the basin when it becomes full (as water will keep pouring in to create oxygen...). Moreover, goldfishes are sensitive to tap water. When I do water changes, I always put "angel drops", it's an anti-chlorine chemical and water purifier. It also regulates the amount of ammonia in the water which can be deadly to goldfishes.

I decided to just do partial water changes just so to create some air for the fishes. It could work rather than I just stare at them doing nothing and watch my fishes slowly die! Imagine my delight when during the process, my black ranchu slowly swam and turned upright! I was so relieved. So what I did the next hours were to watch them, with just the help of a candle light. So every hour, I remove four (4) gallons of water ( I have a 20-gallon tank) and put water back in. At some point, I saw one fish swimming towards me gasping for air above the surface. I tried to blow air from above and then suddenly, the air pump started to create the bubbles. Electricity was restored!!!

I was so happy! The fishes then started swimming towards the bubbles, perhaps catching their breath and storing air into their lungs! I also noticed that the dogs stopped barking... For a moment then, I just watched the tank as the fishes swim excitedly.

Then the stress and the sleep deprivation I had took its toll on me, I felt sleepy...It was only then that I felt how tired I already was, it was time to rest...

Pichu on the cover! =)

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The importance of imagination—J.K. Rowling

These are excerpts from the author’s Harvard University commencement address in June 2008.

I was just truly moved with all the wisdom embodied in it. Definitely worth sharing to you all... Definitely worth blogging about...

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These might seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.

They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents' car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

Poverty entails fear

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.

What is more, I cannot criticize my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticized only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person's idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Epic failure

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.

Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

Test of adversity

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense.

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

Formative experience

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International's headquarters in London.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country's regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard and read.

Power of human empathy

And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.

Amnesty mobilizes thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people's minds, imagine themselves into other people's places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathize.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathize may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

Connection with outside world

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people's lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people's lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world's only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better.

We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

Friends and affection

I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children's godparents, the people to whom I've been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I've used their names for Death Eaters.

At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Migration, Family, Love, Life

Here's an article by Prof. Randy David I find very touching. It actually even reminded me of one of the reasons why it is important for couples to plan their family --- TIME.

I may sound a bit incoherent but let me explain why.

If the father's earnings are not enough to provide for the family, the mother steps in and find employment herself. The kids are then left to their yayas or among themselves, if old enough to be left alone all day long. Worse, if opportunities here are not satisfying, they find work abroad, missing the whole concept of having a "family". Devoting their time working to earn the family's keep deprive parents of spending quality time with their children, which is essential to their growth and development as human beings.

So having more children to look for means having to work as much and less time spent with each of them. And with overseas work becoming a trend in every family, it also means having no time to be with your family altogether.

So whenever the Church and pro-life advocates oppose population management and artificial family planning methods, I wonder what "LIFE" are they protecting? What kind of "LIFE" do they really want for the many Filipino families struggling to survive?

Read Prof. David' article and understand me better...

Public Lives
Love in the time of migration

By Randy David
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:20:00 06/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines—One of my students, Arnold P. Alamon, has written a graduate thesis titled, “Lives on Hold: Sons of Migrant Parents.” It is based on the retrospective accounts of the six young men he interviewed on what it was like to create their own lives while their parents worked abroad. Poignant and rich in detail, their stories are evocative snap shots of the Filipino family in transition in the era of overseas migration. They show the scars beneath the imported clothes. They articulate the gap that could not be bridged by international calls and text messages.

These are stories that no longer shock us. The improbable has become typical. They are the stuff of recent Filipino films, and they are often romanticized in songs. My particular interest in this study is the shift in the semantics of love in the family that it documents.

The substance of the parental role in the traditional family is equated with being a “good provider.” Apart from the basic necessities of food, shelter, and clothing, the assurance of a solid education up to college is generally treated as a Filipino parent’s primary obligation to his/her children. In turn, children are expected to obey their parents’ wishes, to look after their younger siblings, to do well in school, and to take care of their parents in old age. Husband and wife are supposed to be supportive of one another in the performance of their culturally-prescribed roles as provider and home maker, respectively.

Modernity has long disturbed this traditional order, but none perhaps has turned it more upside down than the phenomenon of overseas work. It is now common for fathers to leave their children for extended and indefinite periods in order to provide for their needs. Where the man in the family cannot find a job that provides adequate income, the wife must step into the role of provider and look for work. Today, in the typical Filipino family, the old roles have melted, and both husband and wife have to earn a living to support the growing needs of their children. But the impact of these changes on the family as a world of meanings is not as jarring as when both parents have to leave their young children behind in order to try their luck abroad.

That is when the tacit understandings that bound the Filipino family together come into question. Children, confronting the paradox of the absentee-provider, begin to miss the living presence of the parent who dutifully remits the money and the “balikbayan” boxes containing goods. Entire studies can be conducted on the countless ways in which parents, spouses, and children desperately attempt to compensate for the physical distance that overseas work has put between them. Telecom companies have tapped into this human need in order to expand their sales of pre-paid calls and other real-time communication schemes aimed at bridging the distance. But it takes much more to sustain the spirit of family life under these circumstances.

The young men in this study appear to have survived their parents’ absence quite well, a fact that is often celebrated as Filipino resilience. Almost all of them managed to finish college, and they all believe that living on their own somehow forced them to be strong. But an unmistakable sense of loss, often surfacing as resentment, is palpable in their accounts. One of them says, almost as if he were grieving: “My parents did not see me grow up.” They grope for words to describe the passing of an era in which part of their lives have been sacrificed.

It would however be wrong to think that only the children have suffered. I will surmise that the loss is probably at least double on the parents’ side. I say that as a parent. From the moment they were born, I have looked at my children with a wish that I could see them grow into fine human beings every step of the way. I have perhaps exulted in their triumphs, and bled in their pain, more profusely than in my own. I think of them when I visit a nice place, or eat an unusually fine meal. I worry for their safety, and I cannot imagine not being able to recognize them in their mature years. This is what love commands us to do.

The traditional Filipino family, like the one in which I grew up, was not always good at verbalizing familial love. But it was there. I saw it in my mother’s eyes when anyone of us was unwell and in my father’s eager face whenever he would ask his children to recount their achievements in school or at work. A word of praise said in my presence came as rarely as an open profession of love. I rejoiced when my parents gave me money or bought me a gift on my birthday, because I did not expect it. Yet I never doubted that in my parents’ scheme of things, I was someone special.

In the age of absentee parenting, the communication of love has taken the form of a steady stream of gift-giving. This however cannot compensate for the erosion of intimacy. As the sociologist Luhmann nicely put it: “Roughly speaking, one loves not because one wants gifts, but because one wants their meaning.”

We expect those we love to show us, by their actions, the depth and complexity of their inner world, not the broad practicalities of their material situation. This is true not only for lovers and spouses in long distance relationships; it applies as well to children and parents torn apart by migration.

It has been very easy to measure the economic benefits from overseas work. But I doubt if one can ever quantify what the Filipino family has given up in terms of love, or what it is doing to recover it.

* * *

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Time of my Life by David Cook

I have been busy working and meeting deadlines re: the MEGUMI Reader project. And now is my time to unwind. I was "googling" David Cook as I wanted to see the lyrics of the song he did when he won. It was, needless to state, very inspiring. I find myself quite relating to it. =)
David Cook: The Time of my LIFE

"The Time of My Life" is the coronation song for the winner of American Idol season 7, David Cook. It was released as his first single exclusively on iTunes on May 22, 2008. The song hit #1 on iTunes within 11 hours of its release.

I’ve been waiting for my dreams
To turn into something
I could believe in
And looking for that
Magic rainbow
On the horizon
I couldn’t see it
Until I let go
Gave into love and watched all the bitterness burn
Now I’m coming alive
Body and soul
And feelin’ my world start to turn

And I’ll taste every moment
And live it out loud
I know this is the time,
This is the time
To be more than a name
Or a face in the crowd
I know this is the time
This is the time of my life
Time of my life

Holding onto things that vanished
Into the air
Left me in pieces
But now I’m rising from the ashes
Finding my wings
And all that I needed
Was there all along
Within my reach
As close as the beat of my heart
[Time Of My Life lyrics on ]

So I’ll taste every moment
And live it out loud
I know this is the time,
This is the time to be
More than a name
Or a face in the crowd
I know this is the time
This is the time of my life
Time of my life

And I’m out on the edge of forever
Ready to run
I’m keeping my feet on the ground
My arms open wide
My face to the sun

I’ll taste every moment
And live it out loud
I know this is the time,
This is the time to be
More than a name
Or a face in the crowd
I know this is the time
This is the time of my life
Time of my life
More than a name
Or a face in the crowd
This is the time
This is the time of my life.
This is the time of my life.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

About writing:

A writer needs three (3) things, experience, observation and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others. --William Faulkner

Taking Control

There is a time when we must firmly choose the course we will follow, or the relentless drift of events will make the decision. --Herbert V. Prochnow