30 August 2010

What do you mean, "only in the Philippines?"

This is an article written by Trixie Cruz-Angeles which I would like to share with you. This is in relation to the recent hostage tragedy that happened in Manila.

When the smoke cleared and the bodies were counted, as Mendoza's story slowly is spread to a visibly shaken nation, I am shattered by the vicious remarks brought to my doorstep courtesy of Facebook. I see words like "Only in the Philippines" and "nakakahiya tayo." Here are my countrymen, talking about themselves as though everything that had been done wrong at the Quirino Grandstand was a national trait, as though stupidity were possible only here and the only ones capable of it are Filipinos. And then, I remember with sadness that it is also my own countrymen, who, when seeing a beautiful place in the Republic say with awe, "Ang ganda dito, parang wala tayo sa Pilipinas!"

Of course P/Insp R. Mendoza comitted a criminal act. Of course the police officers and media persons and networks could have handled matters in a more sensitive and timely manner. But it also especially hurts when these mistakes are ascribed as national traits. Only in the Philippines daw. And only Filipinos could screw up this badly.

The vultures can't resist jeering and insulting. Stupid media. Stupid cops. Stupid Mendoza. Stupid by-standers. The Filipino nation is stupid.

Excuse me?

Our ancestors believed in the concept of an afterlife when many other peoples of the world were still figuring out how to make stone tools. Our forebears crossed the Pacific years before the Vikings crossed the Atlantic. They cultivated rice when many others were still living in caves. They had the first revolution in Asia that united no less than three disparate linguistic groups through a leader named Diego Silang whose wife became his successor. This nation produced women leaders and warriors when much of Europe still considered the female gender as mere chattel. My country abolished slavery two hundred years ahead of the so called New World. My country, whose history and treasures remain mysteries to its own children, cannot and should not be defined by the mistakes of yesterday's events

And we will not be defined by this tragedy. But we must learn from it. And the first lesson should and ought to be not to add any more hurt to a nation prostate with grief. So much blood ignites so much passion. But we can either flagellate ourselves until there is nothing left of our self esteem. Or we can turn this into an impetus for change. Real change.

So, I will mourn today. I will grieve for all the victims, yes Mendoza included. I will mourn for all the ignorance that makes an embarassing display of itself in times of crisis. I will mourn for the good men and women of the PNP who feel the brunt of the national outrage, but who will go to work tomorrow and still go after the bad guys, still keep us safe. I will mourn for media persons who must live with the effects of their live broadcasts.

But after that, I will choose hope and faith in my countrymen.

27 August 2010

Daffodil Day (and burial customs)

Daffodils in our garden

Hmmm... I'm not exactly sure if those are daffodils that have appeared in our garden but one thing's sure: it heralds the inevitable demise of winter.  Incidentally, today is also Daffodil Day.  These flowers are among the first to be in bloom and are therefore significant indicators in the changing of the season.  This day also coincides with the Cancer Society's awareness and fundraising program and can be said as one of the more important activities in this country.  Incidentally, the Cancer Society's logo is also that of a daffodil as a symbol of hope.

This day reminded me of a friend who succumbed to lung cancer recently.  We were only casual acquaintances but she had a good heart.  We arrived here in New Zealand at nearly the same time, so it's really a surprise when she learned she had stage 4 cancer and that she only had months to live.  We were planning to visit her at the hospital when we learned she had passed away.  It was all so sudden.  We went to her wake and a lot of things also came to our mind, things that we usually do not think about.  Like our mortality.  What if something happened to us here...  are we going to be buried here or are we going to be flown back to our motherland?

As this was my first time to attend a funeral here, I was culture-shocked so to speak.  In our country we have a lot of supersitions and customs surrounding the death of a loved one such as:
- the family not taking a bath during the wake
- putting a shroud over all the mirrors because we might see the dead in the reflection and is a bad omen
- having family stay by the dead throughout the duration of the wake (not sure if there is a superstition here but this is practiced)
- and there's lots more.

I immediately saw a difference when we arrived at the wake.  There were no flowers and bouquets.  The casket was open.  And there was a time limit that guests and even family can stay there.  That Friday night, we were allowed to stay only til 9.  The following day, the room was opened to guests only between 2:30 - 6:00.  Everyone - even family - are not allowed to stay.  Coming from a place where the dead is not left all alone, we cannot fully grasp the concept of leaving the dead in that room and the family not being able to be there for as long as they want to.

I digress.

Daffodil Day is met with much fanfare. Yellow balloons on signposts and streetlamps, people with yellow vests on strategic areas ready to receive donations, people bustling about with fabric daffodils pinned to their coats. It's a mixed emotion for me.  I couldn't help but feel sad as I remembered our friend and her family, and the others who may be suffering this very moment because of cancer.  It really does affect you differently if it happens on a personal level.  But on that note, I also salute the people working behind this activity to give cancer patients hope.

24 August 2010

Appeal for Villones family

This email is circulating in the Filipino community, and I am posting this to help disseminate

There was a  serious car accident involving a Filipino couple  which  happened last  Saturday night (14/08/10) in Southland. Tragically Susan died  in the hospital the following day. Her husband just got out of the hospital yesterday and considering they are just on a WTR permit and is still new to the country, they have very limitted funds. Their 2 small children are still in the Philippines.

Cenon is flying Susan's body back to the Phil once everything is settled and since this requires a huge fund, we are asking people for donations to help out in the funeral expenses.

Can you please kindly circulate this email to our kababayans for their assistance?

They could deposit their donations to:
Cenon Villones
BNZ Account number : 02 0924 0058392083

The Filipino community in Dunedin and Southland are having simultaneous mass on Monday, 23rd of August which is also her birthday as tribute to her.

Related link: The Southland Times article

19 August 2010

DF, here I come!

I am one of your new kapitbahays at Definitely Filipino. I have twice-a-month posting duties there (the first one is set on the 5th).  For tomorrow, I was supposed to share this information about Mars being closest to Earth on the 28th of this month through an email sent to me but I just learned it was a hoax!  So instead I recounted the unforgettable story of our trip to Camiguin before leaving the country for New Zealand.

Thanks and see you there!

10 August 2010

Weekend garage sale fun

There's this show on TV called the Antique Roadshow where people bring things from their home which they think is of value and these are appraised. It's interesting how people get hold of their trinkets: as a hobby, inheritance, from their attic. Others, however, just happened to buy these at a shop somewhere, just sitting there on the shelf, being neglected.

Not that we expect to find something of magnificent value in garage sales, but it's fun nonetheless. One thing's for sure, though. We now tend to browse things that look quite old and then my wife and I would ask each other, "Antiques Roadshow?"

Last week's garage sale was a community effort and so it was done in a hall.
There were lots of nice things on offer.  Elegant wine glasses at only a dollar each, and books also at a dollar each!  All sorts of bric a brac and electronics were also up for grabs.

Both grown-ups and kids have fun in community garage sales.

02 August 2010

Cranes for Peace

August 6, 1945 is that fateful day when the US dropped a bomb on Hiroshima during World War II. In this destruction, a girl named Sadako Sasaki survived without apparent physical harm, but in her later years she succumbed to leukemia, a blood disease that the locals called "A-bomb disease".

Here is her story as told by the Hiroshima International School (Copyright © 1998–2010)
Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She was two kilometers away from where the bomb exploded. Most of Sadako's neighbors died, but Sadako wasn't injured at all, at least not in any way people could see.

Up until the time Sadako was in the seventh grade (1955) she was a normal, happy girl. However, one day after an important relay race that she helped her team win, she felt extremely tired and dizzy. After a while the dizziness went away leaving Sadako to think that it was only the exertion from running the race that made her tired and dizzy. But her tranquillity did not last. Soon after her first encounter with extreme fatigue and dizziness, she experienced more incidents of the same.

One day Sadako became so dizzy that she fell down and couldn’t get up. Her school-mates noticed and informed the teacher. Later Sadako’s parents took her to the Red Cross Hospital to see what was wrong with her. Sadako found out that she had leukemia, a kind of blood cancer. Nobody could believe it.

At that time they called leukemia the “A-bomb disease”. Almost everyone who got this disease died, and Sadako was very scared. She wanted to go back to school, but she had to stay in the hospital where she cried and cried.

Shortly thereafter, her best friend, Chizuko, came to visit her. Chizuko brought some origami (folding paper). She told Sadako of a legend. She explained that the crane, a sacred bird in Japan, lives for a hundred years, and if a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, then that person would soon get well. After hearing the legend, Sadako decided to fold 1,000 cranes in the hope that she would get well again.

Sadako's family worried about her a lot. They often came to visit her in hospital to talk to her and to help her fold cranes. After she folded 500 cranes she felt better and the doctors said she could go home for a short time, but by the end of the first week back home the dizziness and fatigue returned and she had to go back to the hospital.

Sadako kept folding cranes even though she was in great pain. Even during these times of great pain she tried to be cheerful and hopeful. Not long afterwards, with her family standing by her bed, Sadako went to sleep peacefully, never to wake up again. She had folded a total of 644 paper cranes.

Every one was very sad. Thirty-nine of Sadako's classmates felt saddened by the loss of their close friend and decided to form a paper crane club to honor her. Word spread quickly. Students from 3,100 schools and from 9 foreign countries gave money to the cause. On May 5, 1958, almost 3 years after Sadako died, enough money was collected to build a monument in her honor. It is now known as the Children's Peace Monument, and is located in the center of Hiroshima Peace Park, close to the spot where the atomic bomb was dropped.

Many of the children who helped make the Children's monument a reality participated in the ceremony. Three students, including Sadako's younger brother Eiji Sasaki pulled the red and white tape off the statue to symbolize its completion, while Beethoven's Seventh Symphony was played. The little bell, contributed by Dr. Yukawa, inscribed with "A Thousand Paper Cranes" on the front and "Peace on Earth and in Heaven" on the back, rang out and the sound carried as far as the A-bomb Dome and the Memorial Cenotaph. Adults who supported the group later formed the "Paper Crane Club" in June. (The original Paper Crane Club disbanded in 1997).

Children from all over the world still send folded paper cranes to be placed beneath Sadako’s statue. In so doing, they make the same wish which is engraved on the base of the statue:ch_monument

"This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world".

Make a paper crane with your family to commemmorate this day.

Related Links:
[Wkikipedia] Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
[youTube] Instructions for making an origami Peace Crane
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Sadako's story at the Hiroshima International School

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