Monthly Archives: February 2006

My Ninong and Ninang

When Alan and I got married, we were constrained by US Immigration requirements to wed within 90 days of my arrival here on American soil on a fiancee visa.  We would’ve easily opted to do a civil wedding but we decided instead to have an ecumenical ceremony on the grounds of the banquet venue where we had our reception for 30 friends and family.  We didn’t want a big wedding because we really just wanted to start spending the rest of our lives together.

Our wedding entourage was devoid of frills as well.  My sister, who would have been my Maid of Honor failed to make it here to the US with my Mom.  No one from my family was present, but we had chosen my sister-in-laws parents-in-law to be our Ninong and Ninang.  They were ever solicitous and very concerned for me and were godparents to a T.  Through the last 5 years, we have become like children to them and they, parents to us, and we became one big happy family.

Recent events which tore the family apart made my Ninong and Ninang casualties of a fight they were never a participant of.  I wrote them a letter last week thanking them for all that they have done, particularly for making me feel like I was a part of THEIR family.  They would invite us to what used to be immediate family member gatherings where we got to know their own extended family.  In essence we were only related by affinity, but we felt a strong bond which fostered the highest respect for these two people who were very generous with their patience, wisdom and love.

As the angry words were hurled in e-mails they were eventually copied on, it became clear to Alan and me that much as we would want to maintain the same ties we had before things went awry elsewhere, they had their own family ties to respect.

Thank you is not enough to express the gratitude we want to convey to them.  I asked forgiveness for anything that may have been said or done which may have offended their sensibilities or feelings.  I told them that much as we would want to continue to see them like before, we know that their son’s feelings would take primacy.  Ang dugo ay kadugo.  Sometimes, you don’t want to take sides but you are forced to because you don’t want to hurt those you love.  We told them we understand.

It was enough for us that those words were said.  It is never easy to say goodbye although I stated there to Alan and me, this was not goodbye.  I couldn’t help but shed a tear when I wrote that e-mail because I have come to love my Ninong and Ninang like real parents.

You can never truly say you are not taking sides because someone will get offended if you don’t.  We would like to think we are open to reconciliation, but with the pain still so vivid and fresh, only time will tell when that can happen.  And as I had stated, peace only works if both sides come to an agreement to go for it.

They were always there like our own parents — like a Lolo and Lola to Angel.  Married over 30 years now, theirs was a marraige we emulated and hope to surpass if not at least equal.  Pinoy na pinoy sila, a trait which some who have grown up and considered themselves Americanized would frown upon, but that is a trait of theirs that has endeared them to me personally.  They are always here in our thoughts and prayers, and knowing that they know we feel that way is enough for now, at least until we can be a family again — whenever that may be.

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Watching from the sidelines

Inside PCIJ provides a very good discussion board on the State of Emergency declared by GMA.  Worth reading if you have the time.

Dong Puno’s latest article in THE PHILIPPINE STAR also provides some sound illustrations and leaves one to judge.

I’m still in the thick of reading, so I’m not prepared with a response just yet, except to say that the exercise of emergency power, whether warranted or not, is always an act of desperation.  And desperate people tend to have questionable judgment.  While practically everyone wants to leave the Philippines and move to the US (which I understand but disagree with), life isn’t necessarily any better here if you look at the big picture.  You earn in dollars, you spend in dollars.  Living the so-called American Dream has it’s price.  But we’re straying from the issues at hand.

Power can be intoxicating.  And the drunk are never trustworthy.  I just wonder if the Filipino people can wait for GMA and her people to sober up.

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Full text of Proclamation 1017 of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

MALACA√ĎANG PALACE, MANILA

PROCLAMATION NO. 1017: PROCLAMATION DECLARING A STATE OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY

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The Revised Penal Code articles relevant to Rebellion, Sedition and Disloyalty

So many things have happened in Manila this past few days and we have seen many personalities get arrested right and left.  I have always tried to be apolitical here but it doesn’t mean I don’t hold any political views.  But since this is my space and I’m entitled to say anything I want to say here, I want to educate the people who stray into this part of the web about what exactly GMA’s government is supposedly or factually struggling against.

Thanks to some illustrious law firm that published many of our bodies of law in toto (in full) on the web, I picked out the relevant articles in our Revised Penal Code just so you can see the exact definition of those words that have been bandied about so brazenly in this state of national emergency.  What exactly is Rebellion, Sedition and Disloyalty?
 
Do take note that under the law, one cannot be held guilty of the crimes described therein unless ALL of the elements of the crime or those parts which define its commission are actually committed.  So you be the judge.  I’m scouring the web for a text of the infamous declartion of GMA — that’s coming next if I can find a verbatim publication online.
 
This too, shall pass.
 
 

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The Power of Prayer

I grew up in a typical yet not overly rigid Catholic environment.  I went to an all-girls school (down in Pasig then in Quezon City for High school), made the jump and became an Iskolar ng Bayan in college (although I would’ve much preferred to stay with the Catholic school a few blocks down at DLSU.. LOL), then because the Jesuits saw something in me that UP did not, went to law school with the priests again.

Now that I am almost 40 years old, a solid but not practicing Catholic (read: I don’t go to Church every Sunday but I consider myself to have a very personal relationship with my God), I actually appreciate the religious instruction I got from the nuns of St. Paul.  From them I learned the beatitudes, the virtues, the prophets, the books of the old and the new testament, the Holy Trinity, and a smattering of other religions to help me appreciate the Roman Catholic way better I suppose (and which surprises the Muslims and others from religions other than Catholicism because they usually think we Catholics only know about ours..).. but more importantly, they taught me the power and importance of prayer.

So even at a very tender age, I took God’s word literally that when two or three are gathered in His name, He will hear me.  When I was in Catholic school, it was so easy to walk up to a friend and very nonchallantly ask her to pray for me.  No questions asked, and just as they would ask me, we would reassuringly say yes, we will.  (and Yes, I did.)  In college it was a little more difficult because the religious beliefs of people were more diverse and you always ran the risk of being considered a religious fanatic if you just opened up to a friend and asked for prayers.  At that point in my life, I learned to preface my request with “I hope you don’t find it unusual but I would appreciate it if you would help me pray..” 

Maybe you would find it weird that I went through all the preamble when I wasn’t even sure this person would pray for me, but I consider my life a testament to the fact that prayer is always answered.  And yes, when others pray for you, it does not guarantee a yes, but it does help.  The biggest difficulty in the whole communicating with our God bit is that not all of us are discerning of the answer we get.  I, too, had to learn the hard way that God DOES answer my prayers, but sometimes, I don’t hear or see His response because I want to hear or see something else.  When I finally took the words “THY WILL BE DONE” literally, then the answers became easier for me to see.

One favorite illustration of mine is when Alan came into my life.  When he resurfaced from out of nowhere, I was dating and was actively looking for someone to seriously consider as THE ONE I would spend the rest of my life with.  I was dating someone else who I was actually a little crazy for (I called him my little Edu Manzano) but who was not exactly Mr. Right in several respects that made me wince a bit at the thought of attaching his last name to mine.  I had just left a 7-year relationship that went nowhere.  And while the ex refused to accept I had moved on, I fought very strongly against being held back.  I wanted to move on.

My Mom had always been prodding me to pray that God bring me a good husband.  (I must say that when one is praying for a good career, answer to financial problems, assistance in saving our family home from foreclosure, this was not on the priority list.)  She was getting worried because I was already 33 years old and in the eyes of the elders, this was my ticket to spinsterhood.  I never took her admonition seriously because I was immersed with a ton of other problems as the eldest sibling.  I figured that was something I didn’t need God’s help with.

Then Alan came.  The way our love story unfolded was just too good to be true.  So yes, I decided to follow my Mom’s advice.  I prayed.  I didn’t pray for Alan — I prayed that God give me someone I could spend the rest of my life with.  I asked that He open my eyes and let me see without a doubt, and when I saw His choice, that I accept it.  I couldn’t bear to ask for Alan by name because I was afraid of what the answer would be.  So I prayed.. and then I listened.

My Little Edu Manzano started to shed his mask and show his true self.  It was all but fun for him.  His feelings for me, as it turned out, was limited to a deep fondness and that was that.  He was fun to be with but I can have fun with my friends or my brothers and sister.  Alan, however, threw caution to the wind, made clear his intentions, flew to Manila on a whim, and despite his reservations about taking the plunge after we initially met, told me he could not live without me and will be working to bring me to the US so we could get married.  A few weeks later, he was in Manila with his family again asking for my hand in marraige.

I prayed and I listened.  And when God answered, I stopped myself from asking for more signs because they came one after the other.. I didn’t want God getting fed up with my disbelief.  I asked.. He answered.  End of story.

That may seem like an overly-simplistic illustration of my prayer life to some.  See, I believe that each of us is a living miracle, and we have so many little miracles that happen in our lives — we just fail to recognize it as God’s work.  We credit ourselves, our family, our friends, or fate — we become blind to God’s hand in the way things work themselves out in our lives.

I hold Angel in my arms and I see a living, breathing, wonderful human being that I am desperately trying to mold to be a good person.  I look at him with awe and I know this was a gift from God.  In the constant struggle of life, I find peace when I lay my head down at night and I sleep soundly.   I know it’s because God cradles my head and helps me to find my personal quiet place amidst all the noise.

I have never been a perfect human being, and I have my sins.  Yet I know He hears and He will never stop listening to me.. be it to my incessant begging, or as I usually start my day as I walk to the bus stop, to my prayers of thanks and praise for helping me begin another day with Him by my side.

So as one of my favorite hymns says: From all the evil that surrounds me, defend me.  And when the call of death arrives, bid me come to thee so I may praise thee with thy saints forever.

 

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Feedback on the Constancy of Family

From Jerome:

My family and I are in a consistent state of financial difficulty and when money is involved, things get real ugly. I even have a “hate-mom” and a “hate-sister” period. (we’re only three in the family, by the way). Three strong, opinionated and independent individuals who discuss family matters often have a catastrophic outcome…but I guess what has gotten us through is we embrace the fact that no matter how many moments we have where we dislike each other, we are still each other’s family. By that alone, no verbal apologies needed. It is just the expression of love coupled with the thought that we cannot really fully count on anyone more than each other.

and then from Tintin:

hi dinna. what a touching post! and so true! i’m also the eldest in a brood of three, and my siblings and i are very close. when my mom had a stroke, it was our bond that kept each one of us strong. we know that we can always count on each other, no matter what happens. siblings are God’s gifts to us. i don’t know what i would do if i didn’t have them.

I think what sets family apart from friends is the fact that we can be at our worst and we will never lose them.  Could that be the upside of not being able to choose the members of the family you are born into?  I think it’s all part of God’s big design.  Who are we to question it?  Instead, I thank Him for that blessing because not everyone is lucky like we are to have the families we keep leaning onto.

It isn’t true for everyone, though, so we must count our blessings indeed.  (I can hear Jayred saying Amen to that..=)  I am taking you up on that offer for prayers, my dear friend.. I have a whole story behind that by itself.)

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Strength built upon Family

Thanks, Lani, for dropping by:

Sometimes we always struggle against aspects of life that are largely beyond our control. No amount of comforting/hurting words, or clenching of our fists makes the least bit of difference. In fact, it only makes things complicated.

The calmer we become, the easier our life will be. As long as you’re at peace and happy with your immediate family, iyon ang mahalaga at di ang iba pa.

Talaga sigurong dumaraan sa ganyan ang pamilya. Kakalungkot lang pero kasama sa buhay.

Take care and God bless.

You are so right about the constant struggle against things beyond our control.  After all, we are only human and there are too many forces moving around us as we live each day.  Calm provides great solace because it is in the quiet that we hear our voice clearest.

In spite of this family crisis, we find strength in being a family, more so now that we have less to count as part of it.  It seems we have learned to stick together better and stand up for each other in this time of crisis.

Salamat ulit.. God bless..

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Kapatid (Siblings or Brother/Sister in Tagalog)

I am the eldest living child in a family of 5 siblings.  An older brother born four years ahead of me had passed away at birth.  After me came my sister, a brother, and another brother who was a gift from God.

Our birth spacing was close enough that we were just a year to a year and a half apart.  We slept in one room until our teen years and one of our most memorable photos together is of the three of us in identical Santa outfits.  My youngest brother did not come into our lives until I was 19 years old already but we are very close, even if we are now 10,000 miles apart. 

Siblings make one think of the saying that you cannot choose your relatives but you can choose your friends.  While it is true that you have to make do with the family that you are born into, you can nurture extraordinary friendships with blood relatives that give meaning to the saying that blood is thicker than water.

My siblings and I are totally different from each other, yet the wisdom imparted by our parents, particularly from our Mom to us binds us together.  We have our personal quirks but we all know how to behave on the dinner table, be it to eat with our hands (or magkamay) or an elaborate meal that sees a dozen or so silver pieces on each place setting.  We all know that we should not look for our talents and skills in others because not everyone was created equal as our Mom admonishes us.  We’re all chocoholics and have a running joke of petnames for each one only the four of us know the rationale for.

I am very proud of the fact that we are close enough that even if we are separated by oceans, when we need help, we reach out to each other, be it for comfort or other needs.  We know what goes on in each others lives, no matter how we may disagree with how each lives it.  We support each other when things go wrong, even if only through prayers. 

Of course we’ve had our spats but we always get back together as close if not closer than ever.  Such is the special bond we share as brothers and sisters.  I cannot thank the Lord enough for giving me the siblings who call me Ate.  They have been one of my crutches and source of inspiration through the trials that I faced, and the first one to cheer me on through my triumphs.  I’m very proud of each one of them because they are secure in their person and are all good human beings.  Not one of them has harmed another human being be it physically or emotionally intentionally.  We were all raised under the golden rule of doing unto others what you want done unto you.   And we know when to forgive in the name of love.

I have too many good memories of our years to gether to recount them all.  My greatest regret is that they were not here when I walked down the aisle.  The separation has been very difficult and I cannot say I have adjusted and coped with it completely, even if I have been here almost 6 years now.  There’s just no getting used to leaving family behind.  So I cherish those times that we talk on the phone or e-mail.  Next to introducing my son to his grandpa, the biggest highlight of my homecoming is being with my siblings again.  I can’t wait to go around Manila with them again this April.

I cannot imagine how my life would’ve been if I had been an only child.  I wouldn’t have anyone to laugh with those weekends we spent home.  Who would have helped me to put up our makeshift tents between our beds as we entertained ourselves within the confines of the bedroom we shared?  I’m not even enticed by the thought of not having to share the goodies with anyone — sharing was always part of the fun.

I wouldn’t want any other siblings — I’m happy with the ones I’ve got.  They have blessed my life with their friendship and love, and they have made me a better person just by loving me, despite my flaws and imperfections.  I am teaching my son about his other “siblings” back home — my brother’s children.  They are a fixture of my thoughts about growing old because I know that unlike other siblings torn by strife who have disavowed their family ties, we will always find the way back home to each other’s arms.

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Peace Keeping via E-mail

I never sent that e-mail which I felt was much too hostile for my good.  Instead we got another e-mail and I guess now, all attempts at keeping the peace are futile.  I’m okay.. thank you to those who inquired about it.  Don’t worry, we’re not having the same kind of political emergency GMA is having back home.  (How come that bit of news didn’t surprise me?  We were actually waiting with bated breath when the attempt would be made after all those arrests.. but let’s not get political here.. )

The only good thing about this is that I am at peace with my family (meaning my immediate family — Mom, my siblings and everyone back home), my husband, his Mom (who now lives with us) and even my stepson with whom I’ve been at odds with from the day I married his Dad.  We’re even actually getting along which is a feat in itself.  So even if others have been causing my husband and his family pain, I am able to give them my strength.

When hatred takes over, there is no way to listen to reason.  My biggest regret is having to say goodbye to people who have no choice but to stay away now that lines have been drawn.  Though they may not want to take sides, they have to.  Our extended family used to be my sister-in-law and her family and her in-laws who were our Ninong and Ninang when we wed in 2000.  Now that family has been torn in two.

I used to believe that there is no such thing as the point of no return when it comes to people you love.  Sadly, my husband’s family has reached that.  I can only watch from the sidelines and assure my husband and his Mom that we will be alright.  It will not be easy just forgetting family ties like that which have been severed, but we must move on and go past the anger.  Let them wallow in that — we don’t have to.

I even wished them well and thanked them for having been a part of our lives.  Instead I was told I was never even treated as part of the family.  I knew and felt that.  Yet I did not pay heed because I came into the family because of my husband, and my mother-in-law is one very fair and generous person.  Besides, my Mom had always taught me to deal with my in-laws fairly — di bale na daw na meron akong masabi sa kanila, basta wala silang masabi sa akin.  I find it timely indeed that my Mom is here witnessing my other family breaking apart.  She was admonishing me not to get involved, but I was the only calm voice in the melee. 

It’s so sad.  All I can say is I am so glad I have my siblings for my family.  That’s another post altogether. 

As I wrote my Ninong and Ninang, it sounds like goodbye but it isn’t for Alan and Me.  Family is what you make it — and whether or not they are physically present where we are, they are always a part of us.

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Keeping the Peace

No, I haven’t sent out that e-mail just yet.  I’ve edited it about 3 times since I started my day this morning.  It just doesn’t feel quite right yet and I will keep tweaking it until I’m comfortable enough to send it out.  *SIGH*  It’s difficult to respond to a very angry e-mail even when you’re on the defensive and not the offensive.  I’m actually afraid the one who wrote the e-mail I’m responding to might have a heart attack because he’s just too angry with the whole world.  (Me included.. oops..LOL)

The nun-educated part of me made me pray to the Holy Spirit earlier.  I think it worked some, but as my born again friends would say, it’s hard to be a Christian more so during times when you’re coming under attack.

So I tried to get some work done on my scrapbook and I think I did well with one more layout.  Just have to put together the embellishments and decide on the picture we’re putting up there.  Then that means 2 layouts are finally done. I really should take a picture of them but I’m at that page where I want to put Angel’s baptismal invite, so I’ll wait for until then.

Time to get working on that scrapbook!

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