Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Carewell Community

Yesterday i wrote about my cousin with cervical cancer and the poor condition of the hospital where she is currently confined. Last night, while watching TV Patrol, my sister saw a report on the Carewell Community of Mr. Robert "Bobbit" Suntay. According to their website, the Carewell (Cancer Resource and Wellness ) Community "is a non-profit foundation that provides support, information, and resources to people with cancer and their loved ones. The mission of the Carewell Community is to help people battling cancer successfully utilize the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and resources necessary for active participation in their fight for recovery.
This morning, i called up Carewell and talked with Bobbit Suntay himself and he explained to me the assistance they provide for cancer patients (I called in behalf of my cousin who is financially constrained). I found out from bobbit and their website that the Carewell Community aspires to become a central network and one-stop clearinghouse of people, organizations, services, and resources assisting the Philippine cancer community. Carewell's in-house resources and services are offered for free to community members. Persons with cancer and their loved ones may become members of the Carewell Community free of charge.
Mr. Suntay is truly a remarkable person in a sense that he has devoted his services selflessly for the benefit of cancer patients in the Philippines. Bobbit, for those who may not know, lost his beloved wife Jackie to cancer on Oct. 2, 2005. Click here for their remarkable love story. Truly, heroism can be found in the most unexpected places. I am writing this blog and creating a link to the Carewell Community as a tribute to the Carewell Community and Bobbit Suntay and the nameless others who have dedicated their lives to the service of our needy brethren. May you and your tribe increase!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Idol Gives Back

Today's episode of American Idol and their special program called Idol Gives Back was truly inspiring and absolutely amazing. We filipinos like to complain about our lot in life but when you see the people in Africa, you'll be sure to say we're better off than most of the people there. The fund raising program of Idol to give back to the needy, in the States and other nations as well, is a positive sign that people still care, that people still believe that something good can come out of watching TV. The program brought tears to my eyes, and you'd feel the same if you got the chance to watch it. The performance of the present Idol hopefuls is also inspiring, thanks to the wodnerful music of talented songwriter and singer Quincy Jones. If American Idol can give back, so can we. Let us start caring and start sharing what we have with our less fortunate brethren. Be a real idol and give back.

Terrible Conditions

My cousin Belinda was taken to the Quirino Medical Center (known as Labor Hospital to many) due to a recurrence of a mass growth in her cervical area. I visited her today at the hospital's OB Ward (Room B) and i was shocked at the terrible conditions the patients there endure. Being summer, the climate was unusually hot today, and luckily their room had a big window or else i am sure the heat would have been very unberable. the room itself only had two ceiling fans, and one hospital bed has to be shared by two patients. When we arrived, my cousin was sitting on her bed, with another guy (who was the "bantay" of my cousin's "bedmate") sitting next to her. My cousin is udnergoing blood transfussion and i could only imagine the hardship my cousin has to endure in that ward. That visit to my cousin was an eye-opener for me. The poor state of our health care institutions (please don't give me the "it's gloria's fault" crap because this problem has been here since the time of Marcos) is something our senatoriables should consider as one of their advociacies. I cannot begin to describe the feeling of being there. One has to experience it to believe it. Terrible, Terrible conditions.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tita Grace Guillermo

We received news late last night that Tita Grace Guillermo, mother of brother-in-law Yul Guillermo (married to Chit David) passed away the other day. According to reports i received, Tita Grace was undergoing operation when she passed away. to Tita Grace's children, our deepest condolences. Tita Grace, Mama and Tita Emmy were all good friends. May their souls find eternal rest.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Les Miserables

This epic novel by Victor Hugo was required reading for our class with Mr. Bong Alegre back in the late 1990's. Les Miserables was memorable in a sense that we had a very long debate about the encarceration of Jean Valjean for stealing bread to eat. It was "dura lex sed lex" versus survival and morality. The class was divided over the issue and the argument became so heated that at one point a classmate of ours stormed out of the classroom. (This was not limited to this particular class but in any class where there is a point to be disucssed or debated. My friend Anton and I usually took to being "devil's advocate" to any topic of debate presented). The musical Les Miserables by Cameron Mackintosh is arguably as epic as Hugo's novel. The broadway musical opened in 1987 and lasted until 2003. It is consdierd as the second-longest running play in Broadway, with the top spot belonging to Cats. It is opening again opening in Broadway this year, i think, with Lea Salonga playing Fantine (if i am not mistaken). On Les Miserables' 10th anniversary on Broadway, the 18 actors playing Jean Valjean from different countries, including Iron Chef Japan's host Takeshi Kaga, all took turns singing "Do you hear the people sing" in their native languages. From YouTube, as posted by RenzoRienzi, here is the link to the video. Sorry but embedding was disabled by request).

Friday, April 20, 2007


this is a poem i wrote as a tribute to Julia campbell.

You are but one candle in the darknesss
olitary, but a light-giver, nontheless.
Those you touched shall spread your light
to those who continue to grope in the dark.
You are not truly gone from us!
You live within us through your works.
Where there is hope, there your light will shine
brighter than the brightest star.
Those you have touched have etched your name
in the recesses of their hearts.
You will never be truly gone nor forgotten.
Where there is love, kindness and generosity
there your name shall be whispered,
and what they will whisper are the words
Salamat, Julia, Salamat.

Goodbye, Julia

Julia Campbell, a member of the US Peace Corps based in the Philippines, is gone. Her body was found in a shallow grave in Banawe. No definite cause of death has been determined by officials, although the signs clearly point to foul play. Julia Campbell has helped filipinos who needed help. She was in Bicol when Milenyo and Reming struck, and she dutifully helped to uplift the morale of people and help the ravaged region to pick up where Reming left off. She is also a fellow blogger, and has proven her love to the people of this country. May Your Soul Rest in Peace, Julia. You have proven to be more filipino than anyone i know. In our hearts you will always be one of us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Today we are all Hokies"

The Monday tragedy that struck Virginia Tech shcoked not only the United States but the whole world. Students and teachers in all academic instituions worldwide have expressed shock over the killings, but also expressed solidarity with the students and officials of Virginia Tech. As a sign of solidarity, students and academics with My Space accounts and Facebook Accounts have replaced their pictures with black ribbons, a sign of mourning for those who died on Monday. As i was checking Reuters this morning for updates on the VT killing spree, it turned out that a South Korean student, a loner at that, went on a rampage that killed 32 students and injured 20 more. Hours before the massacre, the student reportedly shot 2 people in a university dormitory. The student, identified as Mr. Cho, also shot and killed Liviu Librescu, a professor at VTech. Librescu used himself as a human shield to give time for his students to jump out the window. An inpromptu shrine for the heoric professor was built by students after the shooting. Now, some US citizens have begun campaigning for stricter gun-control laws. America has one of the most lax gun-control laws in the world. It is because of a provision in their constitution of the "right to bear arms" that hinders some legislators to pass stricter laws against kids being able to buy handguns. Thank God this country hasn't gone that way yet. And we shouldn't wait for this nation to go that way, either. As for now, i join the rest of the world in mourning the kids (no report yet if there are filipinos who died in VT) and their professors who died in what can only be described as the worst school shooting in american history. Today, we are all Hokies.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Julia Roman Abueva: Child Wonder

During my now frequent search of interesting videos on YouTube, i came across a young filipina singer, Julia Roman Abueva, 10 years old and wonderfully gifted with a powerful voice. She studies at the Signapore American School and is a resident of the City State. She sings quite well for her age and has all the sings of becoming the next Lea Salonga. Julia has even guested in a concert of Lea Salonga and was featured in a special by Probe Team on gifted young individuals. In this video, she is joined by another singing sensation, Dulce. Julia will be singing "Nais Ko" while Dulce sings "Walang Kapalit". This was done last year at the CCP as an independence day salute. they are accompanied here by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. This was posted on YouTube by EQ9399S.

What's Up, Doc?

I haven't blogged in the past couple of days because i haven't been feeling very well. The past few days i have been feeling some pains in my chest and abdomen and i have found myself feeling drowsy most of the time. But like the true coward that i am, i refused to have them checked. Rest assured there is nothing to worry about. I am feeling a lot better now and i have resumed my writing here in mapangurirat and my other blogs.

My Prayer of Thanks

Lord, thank you for showing me the infiniteness of Your wisdom. You have shown me that only through Your Words can i find the solace and the peace i seek. In Your arms i commend my being, for You alone know the path which leads to my salvation. Thank you for wonderful people You have chosen to accompany me in this journey through life. If, by Your will i have been chosen to be with You, then let me go from this earth with peace, without pain and with the memories of the beautiful people and things You alone could have made. Let the people who have accompanied me on this journey know that they have made my life colourful and exciting. All this I ask of You through Your Son, My Peersonal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God throughout eternity. Amen.

Paghahandog - Bukas Palad, Noel Cabangon & Cookie Chua

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Enrico Caruso in Pagliacci's Vesti La Giubba

I am, as you probably know by now, an opera fan. I do sing some opera songs, and among my favorites are Mario Lanza, Enrico Caruso, Placido Domingo and Maria Callas. The popular song from Pagliacci entitled Vesti La Giubba is one of the songs i consider immortal, along with the Song of Carmen. Although the end of the song will be the most familiar to non-opera fans, since the ending of the Vesti has been used as soundtrack for drama flicks since the 1960's, the entire song is so intense, so powerful that opera fans find that the song brings tears to their eyes when they hear it. From YouTube, here is Enrico Caruso with Vesti La Giubba in all its intensity.

Height of Hipocrisy

The person who may very well have contributed to the hypertension of the First Gentleman has called on his "allies" for a ceasefire on attacks against the FG while he is recovering. Now isn't this the height of hipocrisy? Is this person afraid that he might have the blood of Arroyo on his hands should he die? After all, isn't this guy using the video of his continued attack on the FG as his part of his television campaign?This person, who once called the FG "tito" or "uncle", has continuously hurled unsubstantiated accusations against the FG. Mind you, i am not saying the FG is sinless or that the things hurled against him are untrue. what i know is that everyone has rights, including the first gentleman, and one of those rights is the right to defend himself from UNSUBSTANTIATED accusations. These accusations may very well have caused this aneurism of the FG. It is easy to point a finger at somebody and say "i accuse you". It is another to say "i can prove my accusations". This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Bossa Nova

One of the most interesting beats i have encountered in my lifetime is the bossa nova. Antonio Carlos Jobim is considered by many as the father of bossa nova and his music continues to play on in the hearts of the many lives his music has touched. For some reason, i find the portugese language and the bossa nova beat have a distinct flavor that no other music can duplicate. Last year, i bought a CD of "Triboto a Carlos Jobim", A tribute album to the genius that is Juan Antonio Carlos Jobim. There are so many songs of Jobim that i came to love over the years: Wave, Desafinido, Insensetaz, agua de Marco and others. Some of his songs were redone and made popular by an equally noteable musician, Sergio Mendez. Again, as i ransacked YouTube for my fave songs, i came across Tom Jobim's video of "Desafinido". Hope you like it.

Maria Callas: Madam Butterfly

Those whose who are familiar with the movie "Philadelphia" will probably remember this aria from the opera "Madam Butterfly". This is the song Hanks was listening to when he wass undergoing chemotherapy at home and he was explaining to his lawyer the scene from Puccini's Madam butterfly. Maria Callas is one of the best-loved operas singers of her generatio. Her voice stands out from the rest with its haunting vibrato. Again, courtesy of YouTube, Maria Callas sings an aria from Giacomo Puccini's Madame Butterfly. This song is the end of the final Act and is from the recorded version.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Rainbow Connection

I wrote about this a couple of years ago. The rainbow connection, popularized by Kermit the Frog, is one of my all-time favorite songs, next only to Mario Lanza's "Be My Love" and "Vesti La Giubba" from Caruso. The rainbow connection's lyrics have a haunting simpleness to it that takes us back to our childhood -- when life was simple and we were easier to please. The melody itself is wonderful and so are the words. I can't exactly put into words the feeling i get when i hear this song except that this song, as i said, takes me back to my childhood days. Somehow, when i hear this song, visions of a green, open field with lots of trees on the side on a very clear day, with blue skies and white fluffy clouds floating by come to mind. the song, whenever i hear it, gives me a sense of serenity.

Recently, i found a video of it on YouTube and I'm posting it here to share with you.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hermosa and Mt. Samat: Leg 3 of the Mapangurirat Summer Bonanza

First there was Boso-Boso, Rizal, then it was the Mapangurirat Summerfest at Provident, Marikina. The 3rd leg of the Mapangurirat Summer Bonanza kicked off with the invitation of our friend Poppo to visit Hermosa, Bataan. So, Mapangurirat, along with Ate Rose, niece Karla, Friends Jack, Poppo and Noel left Manila for Bataan. The trip took us about 3 hours from Manila since we had to join thousands of other vehicles on their way to their own northern vacation havens. We arrived in Hermosa around lunch time and were greeted to a sumptuous lunch of Bataan-style Pinakbet, lots of fried tilapia and burong hipon, courtesy of our host and prepared by Ate Nenet. The kids later took to swimming in the oversized kiddie pool that Jack and Poppo brought along.

After lunch and while the kids were busy in their kiddie pool, Ate Rose and Jackie decided to catch up on the latest hit series in the US, Heroes....

...while us boys took the Trooper and went to the next town, Orani, to check out the market and to buy food for our dinner....

...This is part of the Orani Public Market. Note that a separate building is dedicated solely for Carinderias. This place has it all -- Igado, Menudo, Adobo -- name it, they have it there....

On our way back, we encountered several penitents flogging themselves with improvised whips. They were infront of the Orani Lumber Store and had their faces covered with cloth.

When we arrived from our trip to the Orani Public Market, we had just enough sun to allow us to take pics of our "tambayan" kubo (made by Poppo and his crew). The sunset provided a breathtaking backdrop to our first succesful day in Hermosa on the third leg of our Mapangurirat Summer Bonanza.

...And here is our "tamabayan" backdropped by a reddish sunset. The hut is barely over a year old and i am a living witness to the dedication of our friend poppo and his crew who built the hut from scratch from the ground up.

Before we started our first night drinking spree, we (Poppo, Noel and I) went out of the house to take pictures of the sunset.
Early the next day, we set off for our Mt. Jolo Adventure. Poppo's family has a homestead in the mountains, and we all packed the Trooper to brave the rough roads of Mt. Jolo for a little mountain experience.

That's us inside the airconditioned haven that is the Trooper. Luckily we didn't pursue our plan to travel by open-aired jeep, otherwise we would have been bathed in inch-thick dust. See how dusty the road looks?

Before we reached the homestead, we passed by this house, notorious in this part of Mt. Jolo as being haunted. Built in the 1980s, the owners inexpicably failed to occupy the house and several caretakers have reportedly left the house in the dead of night in fear of something unseen. Now, the caretaker stays only during the day and leaves before nightfall. According to residents, the house has 13 rooms and has a dungeon-like room.

After the drive, we arrived ta the homestead and immediately, Jessie, our companion, went to prepare a savory dish of Sinampalukang Manok.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the homestead, Mang Luis (the caretaker) and Bong (one of our companions there) took turns watching over the inihaw na baboy.

After a hearty lunch of Inihaw na baboy, sinampalukang manok, fresh alamang Bagoong and shrimp, i decided to give their rifle a test fire. That's me with the modified Cal. .22 rifle with silencer. The gun is there for protection against wild animals who sometimes wander into the homestead and kill their domesticated animals.

the mother and son tandem of Jack and Zach decided to give Beauty a tesy drive. "Beauty" is the name of the white horse and the brown one is "Negra".

That's me with Mang Luis in the back, holding "Negra". No, i didn't ride the horse, so you can let out a sigh of relief!
The tropa taking refuge in the cool shade of this quonset hut at the height of the mid-afternnon sun's heat.

We left the homestead shortly before 3 pm and headed back to Hermosa. that night we had another drinking spree which lasted til around midnight. The following day, we readied ourselves for the last adventure before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila. Around 2:30 pm of Saturday, we left Hermosa for Mount Samat. The trip itself is not quite that long, but put a lot of strain on the vehilce we were riding since the road to the Dambana ng Kagitingan in Mount Samat is quite steep. Along the way, we saw signs of preparation for Monday's Araw ng Kagitingan which will be comemorated at Mt. Samat led by PGMA.

We arrived shortly before 3 pm and made our way to the giant cross. Too bad we weren't able to go to the top of the cross (the viewing deck) because the place was jampacked with people.

Here is the marker commemorating the ceremonial cornerstone laying of the giant Cross on Mt. Samat called Dambana ng Kagitingan. Literally translated, it means Monument to Heroism.

The giant cross of the Dambana ng Kagitingan is so big that i felt dizzy just staring up at it.

This is the base of the giant cross and has larger than life cement reliefs of turining points in Philippine History.
That's me with the base of the giant cross on the background. There were lots of tourists so we didn't really get the chance to tour the entire memorial.

That's the mapangurirat cres posing before the foot of the giant cross. (L-R) Ate Rose, Karla, Jack, Noel, Zach and Poppo.

We had lots of fun on Mt. Samat, and we had a great time looking for the obscure monuments ot fallen japanese soldiers along the road. After Samat, we called it quits and headed back to Manila... but not before another hours-long drinking spree!

More pictures on my Multiply account.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ave Maria

I recently came across a video of my all time favorite song, Be My Love, by Mario Lanza. A couple of years back, i was fortunate enough to have come across an audio CD of Mr. Lanza in Baguio City. This time, i found a video of AVE MARIA, also by Mario Lanza in YouTube. This video of AVE MARIA by Mario Lanza is appropriate since it is holy week and i wanted to share with you the intensity of the singing prowess of Mario Lanza.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

God's Servant, a Light to the Nations

I believe there is nothing lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, and more perfect than the Savior; there is in the world only one figure of absolute beauty: Christ. - Fyodor Dostoevsky

Isaiah 42:1-9

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: "I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them."

Sunday, April 01, 2007


John 12:1, 12-33

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Laz'arus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass's colt!" His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Laz'arus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. The Pharisees then said to one another, "You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him." Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Beth-sa'ida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify thy name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." He said this to show by what death he was to die.

From the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1946, 1952, 1971 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission.