Wednesday, December 28, 2005

First Christmas abroad …

In a long time that is … This is the first Christmas since 2002 that I had spent abroad. I had been in the Philippines the previous years with its usual joviality and often prolonged celebrations.

It is a fact that the Philippines has the longest Christmas celebration starting when the months hit "ber". So, from September to the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, Filipinos celebrate Christmas by playing Christmas songs on the radio, putting up Christmas lights and other decors in their houses and shopping in Christmas-ready stores.

I was a little worried that it would be a sad Christmas here because I had heard my family and other Filipinos complain about it. But this year, I think it wasn't so bad. Actually, I can call it a typical Filipino Christmas. It's the people that make it so not the place.

My family and I went to Midnight Mass to welcome the birth of Jesus Christ then we had Noche Buena which is Spanish for "Good Evening" but I think we just have it to mean good dinner. So we stuffed ourselves with traditional Filipino food.

We had some guests over and we had someone from the UNAIDS. She's British-Candadian and had previously been assigned to the Philippines and brought along her own magic mic to the party. It was great!

We were dancing to ABBA's "Dancing Queen" and singing to songs strummed by a family friend. I wouldn't have known I wasn't in the Philippines. It was just as happy to celebrate Christmas or even happier.

It's also the first time in a long time that I've given gifts again. I didn't have enough money before to give everyone a gift but this time I was able to buy everyone in my family and some friends gifts. I am flat broke but I am happy to know they are happy. I guess that's why it's called the "Season of Giving".

Monday, December 19, 2005

Alfa's Music

A girl named Alfa ... check out her site ( She's a great singer and plays the piano, guitar and violin. Did I mention she's an intellectual too? Was blessed to spend a few times together including a wild night out on the town. Come back soon, OK!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Time doesn’t change, people do

I was talking to a friend today and as we were discussing our common problems, it occurred to me…time doesn’t change, people do. Or at least people change to catch up with the time.

Life moves even if we don’t, and we are stuck in a race that we may not have enough stamina to run. It’s either we pace ourselves or be outrun by time.

I was saying this to my friend as I lay in bed, voiceless from exhaustion and exposure to the cold. I have been spreading myself too thinly and the bread just got stiff.

I was trying to do everything at the same time, never saying no to requests, pushing myself too hard until I finally gave out.

I needed to know that I had a limit too. Waking up Sunday morning and being voiceless gave me that reality check. It wasn’t the first time I lost my voice due to over-exerting myself. But I didn’t learn then and I am re-learning the lesson now.

I can’t be the Superwoman I want to be. I am not built that way. Even if my intentions are good, if I spread myself too thinly, everyone suffers not just the bread I’m supposed to flavor. Everything goes to waste because I didn’t give enough. The taste is stale and worthless.

So, it’s really up to people to change or at least to pace themselves to cope up with time because there will only be 60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour and 24 hours to a day. Count what’s important.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Upcoming WTO ministerial meeting; people march for "fair trade"

Rally against the WTO

Beautiful side of sadness

I was walking with my brother the other day and we were looking at some window displays of clothes. He pointed to an outfit with a white long sleeved polo shirt topped with a black V-neck sweater or pull as they call it here in Geneva. He said, “Ate, that matches you. Black suits you,” he said. I asked, “Why?” He said, “You know the beautiful side of sadness.” Taken aback by such a poetic expression of the appreciation of gothic living, I asked him to explain what he meant. He said, “It’s like those people who wear black know what is behind sadness. Like there is always a silver lining behind every cloud.” He said of himself, as he is a dark-donning adolescent man, “It’s like asking why do sad things happen, there must be a reason.”

This was coming from a 15-year old boy, almost 16 next week.

(I have a closet full of black apparel which my mom points out whenever she can and asks if I’m mourning. It’s nice to know that there is a beautiful side to sadness.)

Monday, October 10, 2005

to "GARCIFY" or not?

in light of the recent political developments in the philippines, especially the "alleged" vote-rigging of the incumbent president and the persons identified with the "hello garci" tapes as well as the prominent actors in the impeachement hearing, i am posting an email i received for proposed additions to our vocabulary (either filipino or english, doesn't matter):

> It's time to have some fun. I think we should
> propose adding the
> following words to the lexicon. Just remember one
> thing... YOU CANNOT
> QUOTE ME! For all intents and purposes, my name is
> Anoni Moose. :)
> 1) garcify
> a) to distort results
> b) to cheat in an election
> Used in a sentence: "The president was unable to
> evade
> allegations that she garcified her way to the
> highest office in
> the land." Or, "There are claims that the
> Philippines has
> become irreversibly garcified, claims which are
> becoming
> increasingly difficult to refute."
> 2) norberse
> a) to be purposely obtuse
> b) to obfuscate in an attempt to hide the truth
> Used in a sentence: "The official remained norberse
> all through
> the hearing, leading many to think he was clumsily
> trying to
> protect someone." Or, "There is no truth to the
> claim that
> norbersity can be cured through the slow ingestion
> of
> potassium-laden bananas."
> 3) miriamphony
> a) a verbose and lilting discourse during which the
> speaker drifts in
> and out of reality
> Used in a sentence: "The senator perorated in the
> expected
> miriamphony as she once again sought to prove to all
> and sundry that
> she
> was not insane." Or "Her miriamphony fooled no one
> --- she swiftly
> erased
> all remaining doubts about the state of her reason
> with her diatribe."
> 4) nogralese
> a) manner of political discourse in which a speaker
> pretends to agree with one side for as long as they
> are useful to him
> Used in a sentence: "Day after day, the congressman
> mollified his opponents with his smooth and unctuous
> nogralese,
> catching the unwary by surprise when he later
> removed them from their
> posts." Or, "Even his friends begin to flee to
> remote locations once he
> starts spouting his nogralese."
> 5) joedevivre
> a) a lifestyle which is devoted to always attempting
> to please others
> and never having to choose between right and wrong
> Used in a sentence: "His joedevivre caused his
> eventual downfall,
> as the electorate finally saw him for what he truly
> was." Or,
> "His joedevivre forced him to consistently refuse to
> play a
> simple game of chess, because there are no gray
> areas on a chess
> board."
> 6) dequirose
> a) having a Quixotic bent
> b) used to describe one who is constantly vilified
> by critics for his
> insistence that all public officials must be held
> accountable,
> regardless of which sector of society they belong to
> or who they are
> connected to
> Used in a sentence: "Despite virulent ad hominem
> attacks,
> the writer remained dequirose, steadfast in his
> convictions."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

100m Dash

I set my alarm clock for 7:00 a.m. but get up at 7:30. I take 30 minutes in the bathroom. I try to go about my morning abolutions faster but I just can’t seem to go any quicker. I look at the clock in the bathroom. It says 8:15 a.m. I should be out walking to the bus stop to catch my 8:30 bus or listen for the quarterly weather update so I know what to wear for the day. Clad in a towel, I walk around looking at my messy pile of clothes and think, "What should I wear?". Putting off my choice until I put on my essentials, I walk back and forth from room to room where my daily ritual takes me.

I put on my make up where the mirror is. Unfortunately, it’s not in my room. My closet is in the hallway. My room is near the other bathroom, not the guest bathroom near the room where the mirror is in which is separated by the clothes-donning semi-long hallway. The clock says 8:20 a.m. but I really don’t know which clock says the right time. There is at least one in each room and they all tell different times depending on who sets them.

The bus schedule is taped to my bedroom door. I take a quick look. I walk back to the mirror room and see out of its window that the 8:30 bus had just passed by.

I go back to the closet, look at my clothes again. I hurriedly choose something that matches. You ask, "Why don’t you choose what you’ll wear the night before?" And miss out on the fun of rushing like mad in the morning? No way! Anyways, I finally choose something and it has crinkles, not full blown wrinkles and so I have to rush to the ironing board to make some last minute crinkle-eradication. But the iron is not hot enough so I sit first in front of the mirror and put some face powder on or comb my hair before I can actually plow the blouse. Then back to the ironing board. After my clothes are ironed, I can put the final touches on my make up and rush out the door.

But before that, I have to check if my pack lunch is indeed packed and if I have my umbrella in case it rains. Do I have a hanky? Let’s see…Then, I get the urge to pee!!! I have to go though, no time…or maybe just a little tinkle. Bathroom break! No time to drink water. Nothing in my stomach.

I rush out the door. I have no idea what time it is! I walk to the other side of the street and walk looking back if the bus is coming. I see the oncoming bus from the other direction. In Geneva, this is the sign that your bus will soon arrive because buses usually stop within minutes of each other at the same stop but in opposite directions. (Read: The bus is coming!) But I have a blind corner so I can’t see if the bus towards my destination is actually coming. From a far, I can hear a murmur of what is sometimes a truck but actually a bus. Stealthily a familiar gust of wind brought on by the somewhat 15m bus hits me. The bus is coming and the traffic light is green.

I begin my race taking a deep breath. No time to go down like real sprinters do. I just lunge back and make a movement suggesting I will soon move forward and for the nth time, I am running my daily 100m dash!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

God’s blessing…a wonderful mom, an inspiration to many

I thought I'd devote this entry to my mom, who has just been confirmed as what she likes to call it, "An Ambassador for Christ." Yes, after her very colorful work experience in Abu Dhabi attending to Sarah Balabagan, after tackling some problems with her bosses in Cairo, after a drawn out war in Iraq and making the statement, "I will be the last to leave...", my mom is indeed in line to become ambassador.

Tomorrow, she will be awarded the Lingkod Bayan (Public Servant) Award by the Philippine Civil Service Commission for her outstanding work as a public servant.

She was nominated by a fellow diplomat who won the award last year.

This is a most awaited award which when won grants an automatic promotion and a cash prize. But it is the promotion that is worth it. After 13 years in service at the Department of Foreign Affairs, mom will finally receive what she deserved - the rank of ambassador. Truly, she is not only a radiant and dedicated public servant but she is also a missionary of God, thus, the name "Ambassador for Christ."

She is never just Vice-Consul, Consul, Consul-General or Career Minister, she is foremost a follower of Christ. Wherever she is, she makes sure that people know that. She does everything for His glory and for His glory, she does her best to help her fellowmen.

Oftentimes, she would cry over the situation in the Philippines. She would pray in earnest for our country which have received so many blows and which always seems to be at the doors of failure. She has never given up hope. As a diplomat, she represents the country with great diligence and pride. She knows how to show the good side of the Philippines even when fellow Filipinos are quick to criticize it. She is always willing to go the extra mile and to lend a helping hand. She foregoes her diplomatic title most of the times and serves the Filipino community as a sister, an aunt, a surrogate mother, and as a friend.

She has worked as a public servant for a total of twenty some years. She used to work for the University of the Philippines, a state university, then as a legal clerk at the defunct Ministry of Human Settlements before joining the elite corp of diplomats at the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1987.

Tomorrow, she will be at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, in a great production number to share the light with many other outstanding public servants.

There, in front of her fellow public servants, her family, her friends, and possibly the whole nation if it's televised, everyone will see that she, Grace Relucio Princesa, is a blessing, an inspiration and a gem, not just as a mother but a true follower of Christ, whose work does not end when the clock strikes five, but when she's done her best to make another life better.

Nothing to do...

It's a little bit after 2 p.m. and I have nothing to do ... I just visited a friend's blog [TIN] and I was laughing hilariously. She's such a great writer! For those who haven't visited her website, what are you waiting for??? I totally recommend it!


I am sitting in my little shared office space at the ILO and I am waiting for some work. I did this in June and was able to finish reading the Da Vinci's Code then. After coming back just this month, I finished Memoirs of a Geisha . I tried to start The Brethren but I didn't like it much. So, I am just passing my time sitting here and updating my increasingly Jurassic blog.

Looking up the word Jurassic, I just found out that it refers to the Jura Mountains found at the border of Switzerland and France. I never knew.

Well, back to my non-eventful day... Well, it just is... so uneventful.

When I was younger, I quit my job because I didn't do much but this time around I just can't. There aren't a lot of choices and for the pay that they give me, who wouldn't be happy to sit around and do nothing all day?

Being in the typing pool sometimes is boring but when the work comes it can also be a bit overwhelming. A little inside look into what I do: The "desk" assigns work to each typist in the pool; attached to the work is a blue fiche that states where the document came from and what should be done to it; you have to fill it in with your name, the number of pages you've done and who you checked the document with. (After a couple of days here, I didn't quite get the hang of the fiche thing and forgot to put the pages I've done or the date and the hour I submitted. Thanks to the many models supplied to us, I now have a memory aid.) Checking is the hardest part of the process. Sometimes, we are given "lots" which are documents to be formatted and may number some 60 pages. After you format or incorporate the changes, it has to be "checked" which is essentially reading it aloud with a colleague who checks the documents for formatting and style requirements. Checking can last eight hours in itself. On the fiche provided, we have to total up the time we've spent working on a certain document. Then we return it to the desk to be either sent to REPRO (reproduction) or back to whoever sent the document.

That's what is usually done in the typing pool. But these days, there isn't much work so the typists or more politically correctly called, "text processing operators" just goes to the alternative worksite, Yahoo! Games. The favorite here is Text Twist.

This is much better than my last job where when you have nothing to do, you shouldn't read a book or do anything. You should just sit there. It doesn't matter if you aren't productive, you just have to sit there. So, you pretend to look busy so that you won't be scolded for reading. Hmmm...That was a bit of an irony.

It's now a bit over 2:30 p.m. and still no work...I wonder if some will come today. Back to the alternative worksite for me!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

New beginnings...

New beginnings

New job…
New surroundings…
New tasks…

New beginnings…

So many new things are facing my way at this time. It all seems overwhelming. It seems that yesterday was such a long time ago. The week has passed so quickly and I would have been a week at work. I can hardly imagine it. Time knows no friend for it moves even when we’re dead. Time can only work with change because they are constant companions.

Soon, autumn will come. Here in Europe, time is so evident in nature, in the seasons that change, in the leaves that turn orange-brown in the autumn, in the snow covered lawns that make a blanket of glistening white that shimmers as the light strikes it hiding the dormant grass and in the blossoming of new life in spring that unveils the beauty of a sleepy colony of flora and fauna waking up to an initially lethargic colony of people that comes to life as summer heat scorches patches of grass.

In the same as the seasons change, life begins again. We put on more clothes to brave the chilling temperature. We wake up later as the clocks are turned back an hour. New routines begin to adjust to changes. New beginnings…

It’s everywhere!

I have grown accustomed to many things and sometimes change becomes difficult. But in cases where change is necessary, new beginnings can be a relief even in the uncertainty of tomorrow.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Turning a quarter of a century

It's just 30 minutes more till midnight and I would have been 25 years old for a day. I just finished reading my bday greetings from Friendster and I haven't begun to read my e-cards and email messages.

I feel so blessed on my special day as friends both here and abroad sent their birthday greetings. It feels good to be remembered and it feels twice special when the people you least expect greet you.

Thank you to all of you who made this day special. For the morning greetings from my brothers in the Philippines. For my mother's red and white roses that I woke up to this morning. For being able to go to Mass on my special day and the priest blessing me. For the house guest who in our momentary encounter gave me something for my bday. It was unexpected. For another friend who shares my birthday and greeted me.

For the greetings of my brothers here and the help they gave to my little party. For the delivered bouquet of flowers that was meant as a surprise. For my family and friends who attended the party and gave me special gifts, both handmade and thoughtfully bought as well as heirlooms. For those that graced the occasion with their presence, I feel truly blessed.

I am thankful for such a truly blessed day. For God who is so good, who continues to bless me despite my inequities.

Thank you...for letting me live a quarter of a century. If I should live to see my golden year, let me grow in wisdom and love.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Parent by Proxy

For the sixth time, I will become a parent, a godparent that is! My first godchild is Joshua Daniel, the son of one of my relatives who used to live with us during her university days. I was 16 at that time. I had to ask if I was old enough to be a godparent. I was so excited. But due to my travels, I've only seen him twice ever since his christening.

My next godchild is Billie. He is the lovely son of one of my closest university friend, Lemon. I was only too shocked to find out that my friend was pregnant, then married and all of a sudden, I have a second godchild. I treasure him even if I don't get to visit often.

My third and fourth godchildren come from my high school barkada. Carylle is the daughter of Elizabeth and Althea is the daughter of Gracia. I am very fond of Carylle as I've held her. Althea, I haven't had a lot of interaction but I hope to when I return for vacation or for good.

My fifth godchild is Tia Gabrielle. She is the angel among four - three boys and she, the youngest of Cesca's brood. She recently came home to the Philippines from Abu Dhabi, UAE.

My sixth and I'm thinking it won't be the last godchild is Cassandra Phoebe. She is the daughter of my high school classmate, Mark Olesco.

It is sometimes unimagineable how time flies. But time is so evident when you see a growing child. At one instant, they are babies that are dependent on you. The next glance yields a crawling and walking toddler. Then they begin school. They learn to be independent. Then they move through life exceedingly fast and before you know it, they've become full grown adults with children of their own. Where did time go? The evidence is in the child and the greying hair on your head or the absence thereof.

It is a wonderful feeling to be a parent. I am not one yet, but I can imagine it. Having godchildren sort of makes you a parent. Being a godparent carries a lot of responsibilities. It's more than just giving presents on special occasions, it's about standing in as a parent, spiritually and otherwise, a guide for the godchild. A godparent will become the second parent in the unfortunate event that the parents pass this life and no one is there to take care of the child. God forbid that happens! But essentially, being a godparent boils down to that kind of responsibility.

I feel honored to be chosen for each child that I have to be a godparent too. And hopefullly, with God's help, I can be a good one. Rearing a child, even if not from my own womb, is a great blessing in itself.

Thank you to all my kumares and kumpares for choosing me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


The roads that lead from one place to another are not always easy. Many obstacles and challenges often line the trail of journeys.

In a wanderer's life, there seems to be long stretches of roads that lead to nowhere but every strip of land must be traveled. There are short distances where the end is in sight but there are also highways that seem infinite.

At some point in time, the road looks endless and a wanderer becomes weary. I would ask myself is it worth the wait? Is it worth the trek? Is it worth the sweat?

There are stages where I am in a desert panting for precious water. What looks like an oasis, is a mirage. Nothing is at it seems and the scorching sun is at my nape. I hold my neck in pain and take a needed rest.

While resting, I look back at my many falls into ravines, crevices and walks through valleys. It seemed dark at the bottom but there was promise of light. And for that, I could walk on even if it be inch by inch. And at the end I find myself relieved and glad for having walked the path.

Every road has an end, and every end has a beginning. There are many ways to get to one destination and many people to meet on the journey. Sometimes, we stumble and fall. Oftentimes, we look at our scars and mourn for our wounds. But usually, we move on. The rock that caused the fall only pushes us to move forward to make the journey worth the effort.

And hopefully, at the end of each road is a reward for having traveled the length of such an arduous expedition. If it should lead to another road, then all the better, for there are many more things to see, many more things to do, many things to learn, more people to meet, many more lives to touch, and many more opportunities to be touched by another life.

What is a journey if not to get to a destination...a certain hope that meets fulfilment around the bend...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Aug. 1 - Swiss National Day at Commune Soral

a photographer's favorite subject - les pieds.

slippers, slippers, where shall you take me in lausanne?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Falling off the cyber world

What seemed to be a daily ritual has turned into a rare event. Going online to chat used to be part of my daily habit but these days I just feel socially inconsumable that I opt to stay invisible and watch who’s online. I would sometimes greet the people who have been my constant chat mates but I prefer to stay on the sidelines and just see who’s online.

I feel a bit drained and tired. Life is getting to me. Maybe it’s boredom. Maybe it’s the unusual summer heat here in Geneva. Maybe still, it’s just the sheer abhorrence for anything that reminds me of my tasks at work.

I used to rush to the PC to chat my night away but now I can go on for days without chatting or turning on my laptop at home. I prefer to watch the TV or take a walk outside. Sometimes, I can’t face the TV either because my head and eyes hurt from the radiation.

I feel like I’ve fallen off the cyber world. The little time that I have to go online, I devote to this blog.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Coliseum by day

Coliseum by night (Chris, Mama, and Me), 17 July 2005

The Pietta (Mother and Child) by Michaelangelo in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, 10 July 2005

Fontana di Trevi, Rome, 16 July 2005

Thursday, July 21, 2005

back from the dead

after a harrowing week at the office preparing for the third philippine trade policy review, i was off to rome for a singles for christ conference. but during that hell week at work, i went home sometimes at 10 p.m., helping out with the preparations of the paperwork which yielded a 161-page report. i mostly did clerical work but i really got to see the dynamics of how a trade policy review was being conducted complete with people from capital (philippine authorities) who were present to respond to questions from various wto members.

that was the week before and during 5 & 7 july.

after what seemed to be a tireless schedule, my family had to get on a plane early saturday morning en route to rome. we were there for the 10th year anniversary of the couples for christ in europe. since it was an anniversary, the organizers decided to make into a mega-conference including all its ministries (couples, handmaids, servants, singles, youth, kids). the delegates numbered over 2,100 people. the conference proper was from 14-17 july so we had a few days to galivant and shop till we dropped! (which happened to be the case)

on july 9, we were so tired from the work week that we just lounged around our host's house watching dvds from his 500+ collection. on july 10, we were blessed by the pope at the st. peter's square. we continued to walk for a straight eight hours that day. we found ourselves with the burgeoning tourist population in the sunny city of rome making our pilgrimage to the piazza navona, the spanish steps, the trevi fountain (yup, i threw my three coins in the fountain!), looking at the massive pantheon and just enjoying the streets of rome. of course, the experience would not be complete without pizzas, pastas and the ever famous and very italian gelato ice cream. we had our fill at the san crispino gelateria where new york times claims that it is THE best in town. there was a kabayan there who didn't hesitate to give us more than our share of gelato. thank you kabayan!

filipinos were scattered in rome. if not for the language and the foreigners, you'd think you were in the philippines. the summer weather was almost the same. the traffic was the same. the people were as warm. but nothing beats the graffiti and garbage that seems to pile up. but praises for the buses who don't come on schedule. so, if you're going somewhere, make sure to alot a few minutes up to an hour to get to where you're going in rome.

overall, seeing st. peter's square, being blessed by the pope, seeing the massive frescos of michaelangelo on the ceiling of the sistine chapel, not to mention the coliseum, and witnessing roman was a great trip! and remember the clichéish saying "WHEN IN ROME, DO AS THE ROMANS DO." for if you don't, you might just miss out on the fun of the whole roman experience.

i will try to publish my pics in the photo blog as soon as i have more time.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Cheerful giver?

Friends have severed ties because of it. Family members have vowed not to speak to each other because of it. Lovers have quarrelled because of it.

What is it? MONEY!

I am finding it hard these days to come to grips with the reality that somehow after the bohemian dream of love making the world go 'round, essentially, money does play a big part in oiling the gears of the rotating earth.

It was much easier when money wasn't the center of trade or the gauge of wealth. Money has become THE fruit of labor, thus, one cannot part with it as easily as a head of cabbage. But even then during the barter trade, exchanges of valuable materials always equated more valuable items. But then again, people didn't starve to death because they couldn't afford to buy bread.

It would be interesting to look at the history of trade and how money came to be, but this is not the point of this entry.

The point of this entry is to tackle the challenge of being a cheerful giver. The Bible says that God calls us to be cheerful givers. There are so many parables of how a poor woman gave her last penny to the altar of God and God rewarded her for her generosity. There are so many other Bible stories - the Good Samaritan, the parable of the talents. Some tend to confuse more than the other. But that is probably because I am lacking in enlightenment.

Anyhow, humanity is called to be generous. There are volumes of charitable institutions doing this and that. They ask for money/donations to make it successful. Even if the causes appeal to the heart, one cannot translate that into love unless one reaches into the deep recesses of the wallet or the bank account.

Humanity is called to give without expecting a reward. But why is it so difficult to part with THE fruit of labor? Money has gained such an importance that to be without it makes one invisible. A quote I heard over and over again through my short lifetime is "Great poverty and great wealth dehumanizes." One ceases to be human after experiencing these two ends of the wealth spectrum.

Why does man have to amass so much wealth? After doing so, he still wants to make more. Money doesn't buy happiness unfortunately and most rich people end up feeling empty and still feels deprived of something. Reasons are sometimes that they want to provide for their family. They don't want to let their families suffer the way they did when they were lacking. But man is never content. It is an endless cycle of wanting, getting, and not wanting what you get or being unsatisfied. So, one moves into another cycle of want-get-not want-more wants. When does it end?

On the other side of the spectrum...when one deems that the only solution to extreme poverty is to beg, in whatever form - be it on the streets or as beneficiaries of a charity. How does it feel to be at the receiving end? Does it create a cycle of help me-i'm poor-my-only-hope-is-the-kindness-of-other-people. Where does self improvement come in?

It was known long before that through hard work one could survive. You only needed to flex a bit of muscle to hunt and gather and eventually to slash-and-burn evolving to the more stationary means of livelihood. It used to be that livelihood was the task that ensured your survival. Now, livelihood is anything that gives you money because money makes the world go 'round and without it, you can't survive. I am getting very sceptical. i am trying to see whether i am just bitter because i lack money. of course, i wouldn't be complaining if i had enough of it. But i've met people who have enough of it still complain. They complain about giving to poor relations. They complain about having three cars instead of five. There are a multitude of reasons for complaining about the excess or the lack of money.

Back to being a cheerful giver...If one is called to be a cheerful in giving, is it because we expect something in return. A reward from heaven? The promise of eternal life? The investment in the heavenly bank account that will guarantee entrance to the Pearly gates? I wonder... For the non-religious, is it to just be good? Are they also cheerful in giving? If one gives, is it given without any expectation of reward? Even a fat heart is a reward in knowing you've helped someone. Does being a cheerful giver make you a selfless person? Or does it only mean that you smile when you give?

My thesis is that everyone upon giving, be it altruistic or otherwise, expects some sort of reward. What makes them cheerful givers is the fact that at the end of the day, there is someone who benefited from their charity. The say smiles are priceless, at least MASTERCARD says so. :D But being a cheerful giver is predicated on the result of the expenditure.

Even cheerful givers are saddened if their generosity has been squandered away on some vice, a bad business venture, or spent on unnecessary luxuries. Overseas workers just cringe when the motorcycle they invested in crashes or another child doesn't finish college because they opted to engage in unsafe sex and got pregnant. Who would be cheerful to provide for not only their child but also their grandchild? Isn't it that parents invest in their children's futures so they can eventually fend for themselves, give them wings and hopefully return the favor when they are older? At the least, the first two still hold true.

So, what does it really mean to be a cheerful giver? Does it mean parting with whatever material possession or anything of value and just smile while giving it? Does it mean just letting go of it and letting the receiver do what they will with it because you gave it without conditions or expectations?

Is there such a thing as unconditional cheerful giving?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Death Row

With barely two days to go, I feel like someone on death row. Not that I've ever walked the green mile but it sort of seems like I'm walking the last days of my life. I don't mean to be over-dramatic but coming back to my old office seems like a punishment of sorts.

Just thinking about the stress that will be part of day-to-day life gives me anxiety attacks and constricts my air passages causing mild chest pains.

But I really should be thankful because I have a steady job. A part of me just seems to want something more. A more stable job, a sense of security, a life that is not in limbo.

Going back to the office offers more uncertainties than certainties. Yes, I have a guaranteed employer who will sponsor my working permit here but up to when can I stay there? The salary alone cannot provide for a person here in Geneva. The whole Geneva experience was supposed to be so I could get a good enough job to support myself and possibly my family.

I don't know what will happen in the next few days or the following months or even in the ensuing year. I am just hoping and praying that it will be a good progression of things.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

While taking a stolen shot of ILO Director-General Juan Somavia, he called out saying, "Can I see?" Having no time for embarrassment, I took the opportunity to have a real shot taken with the man himself.  Posted by Hello

Ladies in red at the International Labour Office (ILO) reception hosted by the Director-General. Tita Virgie and me.  Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bloodied Women

(I entitled this entry "Bloodied Women" as a tribute to the womenly mothly emergencies that seem to drive us nuts sometimes. Having done research on PMS in my senior year in high school, women can be acquitted for murder if the crime was committed during her menstrual cycle. I hope you enjoy this following bit which is lifted from an email sent to me by my Kumare Cesca, a friend living in the United Arab Emirates.)

Hormone Hostage knows that there are days in the month when all a man has to do is open his mouth and he takes his life in his own hands!

This is a handy guide that should be as common as a driver's license in the wallet of every husband, boyfriend, or significant other!

DANGEROUS: What's for dinner?

SAFER: Can I help you with dinner?

SAFEST: Where would you like to go for dinner?

ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: Are you wearing that?

SAFER: Wow, you look good in brown.

SAFEST: WOW! Look at you!

ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: What are you so worked up about?

SAFER: Could we be overreacting?

SAFEST: Here's my paycheck.

ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: Should you be eating that?

SAFER: You know, there are a lot of apples left.

SAFEST: Can I get you a glass of wine with that?

ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: What did you do all day?

SAFER: I hope you didn't over-do it today.

SAFEST: I've always loved you in that robe!

ULTRA SAFE: Have some more chocolate.

Things PMS Stands For

1. Pass My Shotgun

2. Psychotic Mood Shift

3. Perpetual Munching Spree

4. Puffy Mid-Section

5. People Make me Sick

6. Provide Me with Sweets

7. Pardon My Sobbing

8. Pimples May Surface

9. Pass My Sweatpants

10. Pissy Mood Syndrome

11. Plainly; Men Suck

12. Pack My Stuff

And my favorite one..

13. Potential Murder Suspect

Pass this on to all of your hormonal friends and those who might need a good laugh! Or men who need a good warning.

And remember: Money talks.... But Chocolate sings!

====Bloodied Woman by PA (20 Sept.2005)====

Every month blood smears your whole body
The feeling of dirt and filth engulfs you
You’re torn
Who to turn to with your irritable self
Upset from the monthly visitor

Confused and boxed
Society judges that filthy act
You follow their judgment
And throw yourself into confusion
Why does this happen to me, a woman?

Is this a curse I must endure?
Must I condone the status quo?
Woman rise up in this redeeming flow
You are clean
You are cleansed by the cramps

Pain is part of that recovery
Which comes five days late
O why are we bloodied?
Bloodied from no wounds scarred
Woman, rise up, you are cleansed by the blood!

Monday, June 13, 2005


i am blessed with four brothers! after my penultimate brother was born, i had stopped hoping for a sister. rightly enough, when my dad called from the hospital to proclaim the birth of my final brother, i wasn't surprised to hear, "it's a boy!" whoopee!!!

having brothers has its ups and down. since i am the only girl, they all feel that they have a right to protect me, even the little one. i am to be protected and to be watched over at all times, lest i be abducted or more commonly come home late.

before i turned 18, it was even worse. my eldest brother would watch all my suitors with an eagle eye. kulang na lang suntukin nya. (he might as well have hit him.) i would just begin to say i met someone and he would expectedly reply, "you want me to beat him up" as if it was some kind of standard operating procedure. oh well, i turned 18 and he learned to leave me alone on my dates. but coming home late was still unforgivable. i would turn off my phone and sometimes put it on silent so i wouldn't be bothered. then, he came up with the idea to have my two younger brothers call me while i was out. so that i'd feel guilty. sometimes, it would work but oftentimes, it wouldn't.

living far now from my two "older" brothers - one is actually younger than me but i have to separate the two younger ones from the two older ones, hence "older" - i am left with two younger brothers here in geneva. i come home usually late from my gimmicks and my younger brother would call out before i leave, "what time are you coming home?" i'd say i don't know. and then when i'd be out too late, he'd call to check up. it's really touching but sometimes it can get a bit annoying.

anyhow, we were talking in the kitchen earlier and he was hoping that i get a better job that will allow him to stay here in geneva. then he added a post script to his statement. he said, "before you get a nice job, i hope for a good love life for you." he continued, "it doesn't matter if you have a good job, you need to have a good love life first because even if you have a good job and you're unhappy, you could still kill yourself." he was speaking in general in this case.

it's surprising how my brothers can be so protective and caring at the same time. one time this particular brother told a friend of mine to comfort me because i was having a rough time. it really is amazing how caring he is. and this last statement at dinner was certainly unexpected. but i appreciate his wishes for me. he has such a good heart.

having four brothers more than makes up for the lack of a sister. anyway, you never really miss what you never had. i am just thankful that no matter how "sisterly" i get to my brothers, they are always there for me.

Just when you thought...

No one was watching!

I have access to the ILO Intranet Live Broadcasts of the Conference. I thought everyone knew that the proceedings were being broadcast live. But not for these two ladies who are sitting in the ILO Governing Body room.

I thought, yeah, they're just talking knowing that the camera was on, which by the way, is on 24/7. Then, I saw the girl with blonde hair and white shirt start flicking her hands away from her body while seated in one of the movable swivel chairs. It appeared she was irritated at something and used her hands with very empathic gestures to demonstrate her story to her colleague .

The other lady, sitting in her own swivel chair, apparently also clueless of the taped room is swinging her chair around and has her shoe-less feet slung over the arm of the chair.

As I'm writing this, some developments occurred in the live broadcast. I don't have audio so I could only suppose that the old man who just came in and spoke to the two ladies told them off as they disappeared and rearranged the chairs.


I used to be in Baghdad and it took a month for house permits to be issued. Houses were inspected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informally, everyone knew the house was being "bugged" that's why it took so long to approve and for permits to be issued.

I was always so paranoid as I got undressed in my room and with the vent facing my bed. I couldn't think of any other place where they could put a bug or a camera in my room. I never went up the vent to look but I always had paranoid conspiracy theories brewing in my mind. We always talked in the garden if were going to say something too critical for the "bugs" to hear.

Today, I see these two clueless ladies sitting in a room and their every move broadcast for the hundreds of staff members to see and I'm reminded of my Baghdad experience.

And just when you thought no one was looking!

Graduation Blues; Perfect Job-hunt?

After graduation, most students face the challenge of looking for a job. And on an emotional level, fear joining the REAL world.

For some, being a student is one of the easiest part of life. You go to school, do your homework, talk to classmates, given allowance, etc. It can get stressful come final exam week, but the pressures of school life might not be as comparable as that of the REAL world.

Looking for that perfect job becomes an obsession for some new grads. They hold out for that big step that will define the rest of their career. But what about those that have no clue? It seems a continuing struggle to find a job that will make you happy enough and yet pay for yourself.

Being in the the REAL world, entails many responsibilities, especially, in the essential if not mundane, economic aspect – MONEY! Parents are more reluctant to dole out money for your luxuries or even for necessities. They sent you to college, therefore, it’s your turn to do your bit and support them. Not all parents voice these out but they are implicit expectations.

These are all part of the transition from college youth to full-swing adulthood.

It becomes a balancing act to earn enough money to support yourself and to enjoy what you are doing. A job becomes work when you don’t enjoy it.

Today, I start my three-week stint at the Intenational Labour Organization as part of the Conference staff, i.e. Text Document Processor, commonly known as typist of documents. It's funny how a name sounds more palatable after some tweaking.

I just did my first transcription. We are given 10-minute tapes, which may be part of a series of tapes...


I wrote this barely two weeks ago. I have not seen another tape. I've had a live translator though. He dictated about 11 pages to me. It took us two hours to finish because he was constantly interrupted by one of his staff. But we finished it. This was on one of my unholy hour shifts.

I've been doing PVs instead. These are "procès-verbal" documents which are partial parts of an entire proceeding of the Conference. We are given "orders of work" which we accomplish and somebody from the desk will compile all of it to finish the document. People at the desk go home at 7 a.m. (from the slated 9p.m. -4 a.m. shift)

We are like assembly line typists. But here we are referred to as a "typing pool". We make sure that the ILO style is followed and we ensure whether the words "Government, Session, etc." carry initial caps. In ILO-ism, they are up or down depending on the usage. I have been so conscious of this that I'm even dreaming of it. I dreamt last night that "enforcement" should carry an "i" instead. We follow British-English here but we also respect American spellings. Tough call. :D

All the other times, we just "sit tight" as our desk officer tells us to do. The ILO hired full staff which are working in three shifts (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.) in order to ensure there is no backlog of work. Yes, there is a full staff but not enough work. I am typing this on my shift, this time, 1-8 p.m.


After this week, I am back to my old job!!! I will be once again a receptionist for the Mission. I am glad to have a day job to come back to but God knows I am not excited to come back. I will be among the war of egoes and inevitably, I will be caught in the cross-fire. I shall sit facing the elevators with no security doors. Anyone can come in and blast the living daylight out of anyone. Well, they reassure us that only those with keys can come in. Meaning, for every visitor, I have to unlock the elevator door which serves as the only security measure for the eight floor office.

But I am not worried about crazed gun-toting terrorists, I have plenty to think about between my boss and my "boss" and the other "bosses" in my office. I sit perfectly in the middle of the office and have leg space equivalent only to that of the "boss"' office. Others are cramped in their rooms with great views. Anyway, sitting in the middle means literally nodding and listening as each officer speak ill of the other. I should just have some knives on my desk and facilitate the back stabbing.

I attended the "office warming" last Saturday and my boss had already resigned himself to my not coming back, although I was still welcomed back. I can only hope that I will not come back and have some kind of post here at the ILO. But if it doesn't work out, I am still thankful that I have something to go back to.


This brings me back to my initial point...ALL YOU STUDENTS OUT THERE, GRADUATES IN PARTICULAR, looking for the perfect job seems to be the quest, but sometimes it isn't. It is about looking for something that you like to do and gives you enough money to support yourself. But if necessity dictates, you should not be too picky. You will eventually find something that will fit your requirements. And if you don't know where to start looking, you re-evaluate what you liked doing as a child. That will eventually lead you to happiness, at least career-wise.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Birds fly overhead
soaring atop sequoia trees
bright sun – a mantle
on Geneva grounds,
a city of old renown.

Summer knocks on June’s door;
weather wanes, cold to warm.
Icy lake of winter’s age –
fishing ground
for summer’s break.

Denizens on lake-beach adorn;
tourist armed with cameras worn.
Ice cream melts
on side street shores,
masses gather ‘round modern troubadours.

Copious smiles greet each other.
“Hellos” to strangers
become the norm.
Fleeting summer sun brings cheer
to weary winter souls, so dear.

107 Years of Philippine Independence

Consummatum est! It is done! These were the last words of Dr. José Rizal when he was executed at Bagumbayan, Manila on December 30, 1896. He had his back turned to the Filipino firing squad that had been commissioned by the Spanish Guardia Civil to execute him for his hand in the swelling revolutionary fervor amongst the Filipino people. But he managed to turn just in time to face his executioners before his bullet-ridden body fell to the ground in twisted fashion.

Before his death, he managed to earn the ire of the Spanish colonial government by writing "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo", two novels that were critical of the colonial government including abuses of the Catholic Church of the Filipina women and granting indulgences for hefty sums to the higher-ups of society. The same books forced him into exile and imprisonment.

The revolution had been ignited by pens which Rizal believed were "mightier than the sword." Rizal wanted a peaceful revolution and had wanted to gain independence from the Spaniards. Illustrados had begun meeting in secret drawing up plans to generate a propaganda campaign against the colonial rulers.

Most revolutionary writers were executed. Many were martyred. Two years after Rizal’s death, a bloody revolution had climaxed. Andres Bonifacio and the Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangan Katipunan ng Bayan (KKK) guerilla fighters engaged Spanish troops in combat. It appeared to be a victory and Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo waved the Philippine flag from the balcony of the provincial capital of Kawit, Cavite on 12 June 1898.

The freedom was momentary as 400 years of Spanish colonialism ended; the Philippines was handed over to new masters, the U.S. It would be another 50 years before on 4 July 1946, the Philippines as it were became the "First Democracy in Asia". This was one of the many firsts of the Philippines which showed great promise.

But 107 years later, celebrating yet another Independence Day, one can ask where is the Philippines? Still, the only democracy in Far East Asia, it is at the bottom of the political wheel in the region. "People Power" has more than once ousted a president. But the emotions that filled the street still didn’t translate into wise voting for elections. We have previous actors and broadcast journalists in office. No offense to them but at least they should have finished school or had some form of experience in public office before running for Senator or Vice-President. We still allow our votes to be bought. Yet, we still complain of the graft and corruption in every government office.

The Philippine peso used to be one to one to the U.S. dollar but now it has inflated to a shocking US$1-PHP57.

If we are to move forward and to give importance to our freedom, we should really act like a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people. We should take charge and not add to the growing economic problems. It is easy to accept under-the-table deals because we all want to feed our families. But look at the repercussions. What values are we teaching our children?

I go back to Rizal. It is done. Or is it? Let not our national heroes die in vain. Let us take responsibility in making our country great, as it once had potential to be. Let us do what we can for our country and for our people so we can all fare better.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Tita Minda

Today is Tita Minda's birthday. She has been with us since she was 19. She is now 29. I see it fit to dedicate this entry to her. First, I'd like to greet her a very happy birthday. Second, I thank Allah for her birth and for letting her enter into our family.

It wasn't long ago that my youngest brother would refer to her as his other sister. She was not only been a "Tita" or an "Ate" to us but she has also been a surrogate mother when my mother could not attend to us. She was our keeper of the house - not just in the literal sense but also in the sense that as part of our family, she has managed to raise us by being a supportive sister, an understanding listener, but most importantly a dedicated friend.

On numerous occasions, she has more than hugged me and tried to dry my tears that had uncontrollably swelled and fallen from my eyes. She didn't know some of the reasons I had shed them but she was there to comfort me.

She had taken care of me when I was sick and had been confined in the hospital. She has seen me at my best and at my worst moments. But she remains - a loyal friend.

She came to us with a few blank pages of knowledge to fill. She learned to cook with us and now she is a remarkable chef that even my youngest brother, Christopher, would rather eat at home than to dine out. She is always eager to learn, always updating herself. She is intelligent not just academically and no test should have to qualify her mental prowess. She has survived the "school of life" and she lives ever full of God's grace and serves as a source of comfort and love.

She is our other sister, my mother's other daughter, my youngest brother's other mother. She has taught Christopher how to love. Even in his stubbornness, he softens and melts like ice when Tita offers him kind words and just admonishment. She has taught my brothers to work around the house. She has taught them to love one another. She is a living example of unconditional love.

Endowed with a caring heart, a giving soul, a propensity to love, she is the best sister or daughter anyone can ever have.

Ate-Tita Minda, We LOVE You!!! Happy Birthday!
i stare into the pitch black darkness that surrounds my office. it is 2:46 a.m. and my head is throbbing from lack of sleep. i have been nocturnal for the last five days and it has taken its toll on my body.

i thought that i could manage my change of shifts as i was a natural insomniac. but the lack of real sleep has deprived my mind of alertness and acuity. i am dropping objects, i am less focused. even if i don't feel tired, my throbbing head makes it difficult to do anything else.

i have not written in longhand (this was written before typed) and i find my handwriting in disarray lacking its usual graceful strokes and carefully written letters.

but i have to peel myself off the pc before my head starts hurting again. it is a wonder i can still write longhand. i miss writing into my diaries.

i make this down time at the office my opportunity to engage my hand in old-fashioned pen-to-paper writing.

Friday, June 10, 2005

in the world today, there aren't a lot of things that man can do that woman can't. today, i was driven home by a female taxi driver. getting off my shift at an unholy hour, i was greeted by an old lady donning a skirt and driving a honda of a taxi.

in the philippines, feminism seems to be on the rise yet one hardly sees female taxi drivers. the country is too dangerous for it. but here in geneva, it still surprises to see women taxi drivers.

i am a watered-down feminist. i must admit i still expect men to open doors for me. but then again, chivalrous gentlemen are a dying breed.

as i alighted from her taxi, the lady waited outside for a moment while filling up the taxi bon i presented her. i pay in taxi bon given by the office. no money passes through my hands. in the last three times i had to take a taxi home and i had male drivers, no one waited for me to get in. makes me think...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Passing of Dawn

It’s been a while since I last greeted dawn. It’s 5:37 a.m. and I’m still awake. I got home at 4 a.m. from my night shift and I got the most wonderful surprise at the office. I was given an ice cream and coke by a colleague and I got a long letter from a friend and teacher.

I have been confined to my desk job for the last year and I haven’t had the chance to see many sunrises or walk under the early sun.

As the horizon bursts into orange hues, I am inspired to write. The last great sunrise I experienced was atop a mountain of stones in the desert of Oman. I had camped with some friends and spent the night laughing uncontrollably.

Tonight was a similar occasion. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as I read my friend’s letter. We are separated by oceans yet he seems so near. And it seems that even in the six months of no communication, nothing has changed.

Several friends also went online and I caught up with them. How time really flies. But friendships have always defied time and distance.

The sun is reaching its day position and soon it will flood the earth with its light. Before that, I need to catch my sleep. It might run away and I might have to stay awake yet another day.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

My First Holy Communion Students, with their parents and Fr. Peter. The Sacrament proceeded without any major glitches and with the help of God, the church didn't burn down. :)  Posted by Hello

big day coming up

in a few hours' time, it will be the culmination of 4 months of hard work completed with the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ.

today is the big day for my first holy communion students. today, they finally receive for the first time, the Body and Blood of Christ. and so timely too, since tomorrow is the Feast of Corpus Christi.

how time flies. it was a little bit more than four months ago when i started teaching these children with my mom. i was so nervous and didn't know where to start. but the Holy Spirit guided me in every lesson and with the great help of my mom, we all made it through.

i am a bit nervous and i couldn't sleep immediately last night. there are so many things to do. it feels like i'm going to have them all married. well, married to Jesus Christ, of course.

i hope all my children will do well today and come to know the fullness of God's love.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

SFC Graduation Day

Today, I graduated from the six-week Christian Life Program Seminar which formally makes me a bonafide Singles for Christ member. After a year in Geneva and many invitations later, I decided to participate. The members eventually stopped inviting me but it was time I thought that I made myself a formal member. I have been tagging along long enough with my mom and my brothers who are all members of the Couples for Christ ministries.

It felt right six weeks ago to join. It gave me something to look forward to every Sunday. I heard many teachings. The usual 13-week seminar was condensed into six weeks here with two talks per Sunday except for the first Sunday which had three talks including the orientation talk.

It made me sadder to graduate rather than happier. I was going to part with all the participants as we break off into our smaller groups called "households" which has meetings once a week. I should be happy though because it is the end of something only to find a new beginning as a member of the SFC. Like a book, you must close one chapter, to open a new one. And you will never know if the next chapter is more exciting if you can't let go of the first chapters.

At the dedication ceremony where the older members prayed over us, a covenant was made. We promised to devote more time to the Lord, turn away from sin, and be of service to others. One could call it hard, but it only becomes hard if we choose to hold on to things that causes us to sin. "The spirit is willing but the body is weak."

As I begin my new journey as an SFC, I wonder what is in store for me. My facilitator, whose household I belong to is like an angel. She sends the right texts at the right time and it always uplifts my spirit to see God's messages in the form of human compassion and love. I look forward to meeting with my new sisters in Christ.

As the other members of the ministries were welcomed, praise songs were sung and old and new members alike hugged and kissed in familiar fashion. It was an awesome sight.

The new members had to make a sharing. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to speak. I was so nervous but I had expected it so I had something prepared. Although, I never really speak the way I plan to. But it went well nonetheless.

Six weeks is long enough to become a habit but short enough to miss it. I pray that all of the new members will grow in God's love.

A Critic Takes On the Logic of Female Orgasm

By DINITIA SMITH, Ney York Times

Evolutionary scientists have never had difficulty explaining the
male orgasm, closely tied as it is to reproduction.

But the Darwinian logic behind the female orgasm has remained
elusive. Women can have sexual intercourse and even become pregnant -
doing their part for the perpetuation of the species - without
experiencing orgasm. So what is its evolutionary purpose?

Over the last four decades, scientists have come up with a variety
of theories, arguing, for example, that orgasm encourages women to
have sex and, therefore, reproduce or that it leads women to favor
stronger and healthier men, maximizing their offspring's chances of

But in a new book, Dr. Elisabeth A. Lloyd, a philosopher of science
and professor of biology at Indiana University, takes on 20 leading
theories and finds them wanting. The female orgasm, she argues in
the book, "The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of
Evolution," has no evolutionary function at all.

Rather, Dr. Lloyd says the most convincing theory is one put forward
in 1979 by Dr. Donald Symons, an anthropologist.

That theory holds that female orgasms are simply artifacts - a
byproduct of the parallel development of male and female embryos in
the first eight or nine weeks of life.

In that early period, the nerve and tissue pathways are laid down
for various reflexes, including the orgasm, Dr. Lloyd said. As
development progresses, male hormones saturate the embryo, and
sexuality is defined.

In boys, the penis develops, along with the potential to have
orgasms and ejaculate, while "females get the nerve pathways for
orgasm by initially having the same body plan."

Nipples in men are similarly vestigial, Dr. Lloyd pointed out.

While nipples in woman serve a purpose, male nipples appear to be
simply left over from the initial stage of embryonic development.

The female orgasm, she said, "is for fun."

Dr. Lloyd said scientists had insisted on finding an evolutionary
function for female orgasm in humans either because they were
invested in believing that women's sexuality must exactly parallel
that of men or because they were convinced that all traits had to
be "adaptations," that is, serve an evolutionary function.

Theories of female orgasm are significant, she added, because "men's
expectations about women's normal sexuality, about how women should
perform, are built around these notions."

"And men are the ones who reflect back immediately to the woman
whether or not she is adequate sexually," Dr. Lloyd continued.

Central to her thesis is the fact that women do not routinely have
orgasms during sexual intercourse.

She analyzed 32 studies, conducted over 74 years, of the frequency
of female orgasm during intercourse.

When intercourse was "unassisted," that is not accompanied by
stimulation of the clitoris, just a quarter of the women studied
experienced orgasms often or very often during intercourse, she

Five to 10 percent never had orgasms. Yet many of the women became

Dr. Lloyd's figures are lower than those of Dr. Alfred A. Kinsey,
who in his 1953 book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" found
that 39 to 47 percent of women reported that they always, or almost
always, had orgasm during intercourse.

But Kinsey, Dr. Lloyd said, included orgasms assisted by clitoral

Dr. Lloyd said there was no doubt in her mind that the clitoris was
an evolutionary adaptation, selected to create excitement, leading
to sexual intercourse and then reproduction.

But, "without a link to fertility or reproduction," Dr. Lloyd
said, "orgasm cannot be an adaptation."

Not everyone agrees. For example, Dr. John Alcock, a professor of
biology at Arizona State University, criticized an earlier version
of Dr. Lloyd's thesis, discussed in in a 1987 article by Stephen Jay
Gould in the magazine Natural History.

In a phone interview, Dr. Alcock said that he had not read her new
book, but that he still maintained the hypothesis that the fact
that "orgasm doesn't occur every time a woman has intercourse is not
evidence that it's not adaptive."

"I'm flabbergasted by the notion that orgasm has to happen every
time to be adaptive," he added.

Dr. Alcock theorized that a woman might use orgasm "as an
unconscious way to evaluate the quality of the male," his genetic
fitness and, thus, how suitable he would be as a father for her

"Under those circumstances, you wouldn't expect her to have it every
time," Dr. Alcock said.

Among the theories that Dr. Lloyd addresses in her book is one
proposed in 1993, by Dr. R. Robin Baker and Dr. Mark A. Bellis, at
Manchester University in England. In two papers published in the
journal Animal Behaviour, they argued that female orgasm was a way
of manipulating the retention of sperm by creating suction in the
uterus. When a woman has an orgasm from one minute before the man
ejaculates to 45 minutes after, she retains more sperm, they said.

Furthermore, they asserted, when a woman has intercourse with a man
other than her regular sexual partner, she is more likely to have an
orgasm in that prime time span and thus retain more sperm,
presumably making conception more likely. They postulated that women
seek other partners in an effort to obtain better genes for their

Dr. Lloyd said the Baker-Bellis argument was "fatally flawed because
their sample size is too small."

"In one table," she said, "73 percent of the data is based on the
experience of one person."

In an e-mail message recently, Dr. Baker wrote that his and Dr.
Bellis's manuscript had "received intense peer review appraisal"
before publication. Statisticians were among the reviewers, he said,
and they noted that some sample sizes were small, "but considered
that none of these were fatal to our paper."

Dr. Lloyd said that studies called into question the logic of such
theories. Research by Dr. Ludwig Wildt and his colleagues at the
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany in 1998, for example,
found that in a healthy woman the uterus undergoes peristaltic
contractions throughout the day in the absence of sexual intercourse
or orgasm. This casts doubt, Dr. Lloyd argues, on the idea that the
contractions of orgasm somehow affect sperm retention.

Another hypothesis, proposed in 1995 by Dr. Randy Thornhill, a
professor of biology at the University of New Mexico and two
colleagues, held that women were more likely to have orgasms during
intercourse with men with symmetrical physical features. On the
basis of earlier studies of physical attraction, Dr. Thornhill
argued that symmetry might be an indicator of genetic fitness.

Dr. Lloyd, however, said those conclusions were not viable
because "they only cover a minority of women, 45 percent, who say
they sometimes do, and sometimes don't, have orgasm during

"It excludes women on either end of the spectrum," she said. "The 25
percent who say they almost always have orgasm in intercourse and
the 30 percent who say they rarely or never do. And that last 30
percent includes the 10 percent who say they never have orgasm under
any circumstances."

In a phone interview, Dr. Thornhill said that he had not read Dr.
Lloyd's book but the fact that not all women have orgasms during
intercourse supports his theory.

"There will be patterns in orgasm with preferred and not preferred
men," he said.

Dr. Lloyd also criticized work by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, an emeritus
professor of anthropology at the University of California, Davis,
who studies primate behavior and female reproductive strategies.

Scientists have documented that orgasm occurs in some female
primates; for other mammals, whether orgasm occurs remains an open

In the 1981 book "The Woman That Never Evolved" and in her other
work, Dr. Hrdy argues that orgasm evolved in nonhuman primates as a
way for the female to protect her offspring from the depredation of

She points out that langur monkeys have a high infant mortality
rate, with 30 percent of deaths a result of babies' being killed by
males who are not the fathers. Male langurs, she says, will not kill
the babies of females they have mated with.

In macaques and chimpanzees, she said, females are conditioned by
the pleasurable sensations of clitoral stimulation to keep
copulating with multiple partners until they have an orgasm. Thus,
males do not know which infants are theirs and which are not and do
not attack them.

Dr. Hrdy also argues against the idea that female orgasm is an
artifact of the early parallel development of male and female

"I'm convinced," she said, "that the selection of the clitoris is
quite separate from that of the penis in males."

In critiquing Dr. Hrdy's view, Dr. Lloyd disputes the idea that
longer periods of sexual intercourse lead to a higher incidence of
orgasm, something that if it is true, may provide an evolutionary
rationale for female orgasm.

But Dr. Hrdy said her work did not speak one way or another to the
issue of female orgasm in humans. "My hypothesis is silent," she

One possibility, Dr. Hrdy said, is that orgasm in women may have
been an adaptive trait in our prehuman ancestors.

"But we separated from our common primate ancestors about seven
million years ago," she said.

"Perhaps the reason orgasm is so erratic is that it's phasing out,"
Dr. Hrdy said. "Our descendants on the starships may well wonder
what all the fuss was about."

Western culture is suffused with images of women's sexuality, of
women in the throes of orgasm during intercourse and seeming to
reach heights of pleasure that are rare, if not impossible, for most
women in everyday life.

"Accounts of our evolutionary past tell us how the various parts of
our body should function," Dr. Lloyd said.

If women, she said, are told that it is "natural" to have orgasms
every time they have intercourse and that orgasms will help make
them pregnant, then they feel inadequate or inferior or abnormal
when they do not achieve it.

"Getting the evolutionary story straight has potentially very large
social and personal consequences for all women," Dr. Lloyd
said. "And indirectly for men, as well."
I walked into the platform of life without any thoughts. No ideas of what to expect. No guide. A blank page and only my legs to take me where I should be. My destination – unknown.

Unexpectedly, I saw life in a hurry. I grew up too fast. Was demanded to act a certain way. At a quick glance, forced to give up my childhood.

I came to where I was led. My legs didn’t know right from wrong. I entered into situations where it was questionable and most of the time, not understandable or even uncomfortable.

This is my life. I am constantly seeking a path that will lead to fulfillment, happiness, and at the same time a road that will ensure my place in heaven.

It is a difficult task to know where to go. It’s even harder to follow a path that you think may not be for you but you end up threading it because you don’t know where else to go.

I find it awesome to meet people who have known all their lives, what they wanted from it. They knew how to get to where they wanted to be. I think it is a gift to know and to have achieved a dream. I think it is in that dreaming that we become most alive. If we don’t give up hope, there is always something to look forward to.

Having no means to an end may cause a problem for some but for the true dreamers, no obstacle is too hard to hurdle.

I am 24, a secretary, abroad, sometimes unhappy, but sufficiently blessed with good friends and family. I don’t know what I want from my life. But I know I want to write. What about? I don’t know. I seem to have random thoughts. They are all random thoughts. Maybe in time, the big picture will reveal itself.

I never take anything for granted. There is a lesson worth learning in each experience, however mundane.

As I walk daily to that path that I should take, if indeed it is even “my” path, I fill the pages of my life. I can see my happiness, my sadness, my weakest moments, and the peaks of my life.

Where will my feet take me next? What stories will fill the pages of my book of life? What compass will lead me to my path? Shall I travel alone or with someone?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

May 17 - International Day Against Homophobia

(lifted from a Friendster Bulletin)

Fifteen years ago, on 17th May 1990, the World
Health Organisation (WHO), the authoritative body
on the health matters of the globe, declared that
homosexuality is not a disease by removing it from
the official WHO list of mental disorders.

This validated what the gays /lesbians knew for
centuries, that we are not sick, just because our
sexual orientation was different to the
heterosexuals. Most importantly,it helped gay and
lesbians to overcome medical homophobia which
was prevalent for many centuries. It's needless to
say the importance of this date(17th May) to the
gays, lesbians living all across the world.

Plans are now afoot to lobby the United Nations to
declare May 17th as the "International Day
Against Homophobia-(IDAHO). A petition
supporting this initiative has been launched by
interested activists with the support coming from
leading LGBT organizations in the world.

At Companions on a journey, we support this
initiative of IDAHO and have officially endorsed the

If you are interested of this initiative or want to sign
the petition please visit

For more information on the petition and to know
how you could support the initiative please


In Solidarity,
Sherman De Rose
Executive Director
Companions on a journey.

Monday, May 16, 2005

behind every story

one of my teachers in college said, you could write about anything and everything if you wanted to. for one of our class exercises, she had us choose a topic that could be the most boring of all. we chose one of the classroom chairs.

we examined the chair, how it looked and why did it look that way. from the chair, we concluded that the college didn't have enough money to buy new ones. why didn't they have enough money? because of the budget cut. why was there a budget cut? because the budget for the education department was also being cut. instead of the consitutional obligation of congress to give the largest budget to education, it was going to go to the decrepit military services of the philippine republic. this was the time of the visiting forces agreement with the u.s.

aha! this is from one chair.

the same is true for everything in life. a tree, a flower, a simple park bench. i was walking in the park in front of our apartment the other day and we saw a cedar tree from lebanon which was planted in the 18th century. it was a gift to one of the geneva land owners at that time.

its majestic branches meeting the lowly earth was a sight out of a forest. the centuries old branches touched the ground winding and drawing spectators to come under its spell. it seemed like it wanted to hug the earth but couldn't.

like the tree, people are also stories waiting to be unearthed. i find that in listening to old people, there are so many things to learn. there is a passage from the poem "desiderata" that goes, "Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story."

i love to listen to people. i love to hear what they have to say and what they have been through. i want to know of their journey through life, for it might give me something to take along with me on my own journey.

like a stone on the road of life, each have their own story. each have something to give. each is an opportunity for learning.

so, before you dismiss those irritable boring persons that seem to bug you, look and listen. maybe like the simple chair, there is a story behind it all.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

my new photo blog

Check out my new photo blog at where pictures speak instead of words. :)

see me? Posted by Hello

i see you.  Posted by Hello

(When did they arrive in the Leman?) I wonder. Posted by Hello

my mammoth cousin Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 12, 2005

oh happy day....

today has been one of the genuinely happy days of my life. i had a good day at the office. not too stressful. enjoyed a crossword puzzle with one of my colleagues.

then, i saw my priest and possibly had one of the better confessions in my life. i didn't even cry this time. i usually do. i always feel like crying during confession. i don't know why. he gave me good advice and some jokes too.

after that, i sat with a good friend and drank some tea and ate some cake. we even tried to do math together. even if i wanted to help, i couldn't remember the mathematical calculations.

upon getting home, i ate some nice salad. then, i walked with my little brother to the park and he asked me all sorts of questions about anything and everything. we even see-sawed. both of us tried the monkey bars but it hurt our hands because of the cold metal. the shared time was great though.

on our way back home, we saw rantan, a golden retriever. my youngest brother walks him now and his owner showed us some tricks he could do. we even met up with his fellow dog. they've known each other for almost 3 years now. rantan understands spanish, while the other was an english-understanding dog.

having had so many activities, it was fitting to watch a movie and have family time with both my brothers. we sat down to watch "super size me." the horror!!! but it was informative and funny. it was a perfect night cap.

and now, i am beside my mother typing away and recounting my day. i shall savor the memories of the day.

good night world. i hope you have a good and happy day to greet you.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Classical Concert at Last

Since coming to Geneva, I've managed to hear one concert by the Suisse-Romande Orchestra during the UN Anniversary last October. I haven't had the chance or the resources to watch others.

When there are free classical concerts, I am there! Well, as long as I can make it there.

Today, the Chamber Orchestra of Brigham Young University in Idaho played at the Mormon Church in Geneva.

Their repertoire included unfamiliar tunes but they played the familiar Mozart's Symphony No. 40, movement one to four.

It was music to my ears.

Brigham Young University Chamber Orchestra headed by Conductor Robert Tueller at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Geneva. Posted by Hello

Gursha = Ethiopian Hospitality

There's something one should know when going to an Ethiopian restaurant and eating Ethiopian food with Ethiopian friends - COME ON AN EMPTY STOMACH!

The other night, I went to Awash Restaurant, which is the "best" Ethiopian restaurant according to my Ethiopian friends. A mix of Ethiopians, two Rwandan, an Indian, a Russian, an American, and a Filipino (me) came to the table. We ordered the typical chicken dish served with lentil beans and spices. It is also placed atop a type of fermented flat bread. I don't remember the names of the dishes since it is hard to pronounce and spell.

It is customary to eat with the hands in Ethiopia. The dish is usually served on one plate and one should eat wrapping the meat and vegetable in the flat bread.

As we ate our dishes in shared plates, one of my Ethiopian friends fed another friend using her hands while raising the food to the mouth. This gesture is called GURSHA. It is a sign of care and hospitality towards a friend or a loved one. Since it is tradition, if you are offered a gursha, you can't refuse it, similar to the "tagay" (homemade drink offered to strangers in Central Luzon) in the Philippines. And it is bad luck to make just one gursha. You at least have to have two. You don't have to return the gesture but I did. It was fun to feed other people. It reminded me of when I used to feed my little brothers. It is also a custom in the Philippines to eat with the hands, especially in rural areas.

Since the bread is fermented, it had a little acidic taste which I didn't like very much. So, I couldn't eat much of the bread and ate less of the meat because I didn't want to start picking it up without the bread. But because of gursha, I was able to finish my dish. My friend fed me through out the night saying I ate like a bird.

You can easily get full depending on how many friends want to offer you a gursha. SO, a word of hungry when you go to an Ethiopian restaurant. 'Coz before you know it, you would be stuffed!!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


I don't know whether to feel humiliated or honored! I lost to a 12-year old Scrabble champion in an ASEAN Scrabble tournament.

I didn't know what to expect coming into the tournament but since I love word games, I thought I'd give it a try. I had heard last year that the champion was a 12 year old boy which goes by the name, Mra. Little did I know that he was also the son of the Myanmar diplomat who was also hosting the game.

Armed with only Text Twist practice, I lunged into the game with half an expectation to win. The 10 participants drew lots for the table they'd be placed in. Three tables in a (3-3-4) division. I drew table number three and sat right after. Then came along Mra and I got the word scare of my life! Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Hehe. I was wiped out by Mra and another Indonesian representative called Flakes. Mra in his third turn spelled out "RUNNIER" exhausting his seven letters and getting the 50 point bonus. Already in the lead, he made the gap unimaginably unbridgeable.

Studying the words, Mra would concentrate and would look for words that you could add two letters to and get away with 36 points! Now, that's what you call strategy and luck of the draw!

The top two winners from each table were supposed to word it out in another round but the second-seededs wanted to leave for previous engagements. So, the winners from the three-person tables met with the top two of the third table.

I have no news who won because I also had to leave for another engagement. But it was quite an experience to play against a word genius. And I used to be called a walking dictionary! I now humbly surrender that title to Mra. :)

Monday, May 02, 2005

being my mother's daughter

sometimes, it is hard to be my mother's daughter. i am not as free as some children can be. when we left for her first posting, she said, "remember, you are an extension of me and by that you also represent the philippines." i took this to heart.

i thought it wouldn't be so hard. but sometimes it is. i wrote an article recently which i wanted to send for the philippine daily inquirer's "youngblood" but upon reading it, my mother said it could not be printed because it was critical of philippine government.

i felt so frustrated but she explained to me that it might endanger her position since she works for the philippine government. sigh...she apologized for this and said, if i weren't her daughter, it could be printed.

the iraqi ambassador said, "tell your mom to resign, so you can write." i just laughed.

simple joys: unexpected holidays

the advantages of working for a government agency in a foreign land are the unexpected holidays. we celebrate both holidays in the philippines and those of switzerland and even more locally, those of geneva.

today is may 2. in the philippines, there is a law that states that for each usual non-working holiday, i.e. may 1 (labor day), that falls on a weekend, it is automatically moved to the first day of the week, i.e. monday. so, there is no work in the philippines. downside is, i work for a mission that has its own schedules and two offices.

the administrative staff (WTO) in the other office respects the philippine holidays because they are housed by the mission to the UN (which observes philippine holidays). although we both belong to the WTO mission, the trade and agricultural offices have a different office. we do not necessarily follow the UN mission hours or their holidays because we have our own sets of meetings.

but today, the WTO mission in the other office has no work, i had to go to work because i am at the trade office. my supervisor upon knowing this holiday decided to let me leave work early. :) thus, my unexpected holiday!!! yehey!!!

our office advantage - we can choose to observe UN holidays, WTO holidays, Philippine Holidays, Swiss holidays....that's a lot of holidays! :)

Friday, April 29, 2005


dawit and me enjoying the sisha (narguila), segma taking the pic Posted by Hello

Despite the numerous years and opportunities of smoking shisha or narguila (nargile) in the Middle East, I found myself having my first puff in Geneva last night.

A meeting with some old classmates/friends turned into a dinner yesterday, not to mention an unexpected peep show. An Ethiopian friend of mine, Segma, invited for some drinks at the Café des Arts in Rue du Paquis, a quaint restaurant with an artsy-fartsy ambience. I don't know if actual artists go there. On one of my trips to the unisex toilet, a male occupant forgot to close the door. I opened it but I didn't see anything as he was facing the toilet and I was looking at his face. He thought I saw something so he said sorry while all red in the face. I wanted to laugh because I didn't see anything and perhaps, there was nothing to see.

Anyhow, we spent a few hours there. Segma introduced me to some of her other friends, who I met for the first time. One had to leave for another meeting, Dawit (Ethiopian for David) stayed. We hit it off and the three of us were dinner-bound at the "La Caravan Passe," (The Passing Caravan)a nearby restaurant.

Earlier in the café, a young man asked one of the customers where that resto was. The customer joked, "It already passed."

Going on...the Lebanese restaurant had a semi-authentic Arabic look to it. There were brass plates that served as tables and cloths with the usual Arabic design hanging from the ceiling to form part of what looks like an Arabic wedding tent.

The food was relatively cheap. I had my favorite felafel (fried ground chick peas with herbs, spices and baking soda) served with hommos (ground chick peas mixed with herbs and spices with a generous topping of olive oil) and khuboz (pita bread). We ordered different dishes so we could share.

We enjoyed authentic Lebanese tea which tasted great with the apple flavored narguile.

At least we didn't go home in the usual cigarette-smoke soaked night out.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

walang p.

this is a common phrase used here in geneva among the filipino community. it means "walang papel" or succinctly, "no paper." many filipino migrant workers here are undocumented or do not have residence permits. from the rough 5,000 in geneva, maybe 70 percent are undocumented.

they live in fear from the men in uniforms that routinely check bus passes. they fear the winter raids. most of all, they fear the denouncement of their fellow countrymen. because of this, kababayans (compatriots) often ignore the other which is contrary to filipino inherent values. so many instances have happened that a filipino was "raided" because of some petty argument that arose. anger subsumed the other and the reasons why both of them worked and cleaned toilets didn't matter anymore. a trampled ego or unbridled pride was enough to wreak havoc and make the other lose his/her job plunging his/her family into more poverty. it was poverty that sent them out in the first place. but all is forgotten when anger is there.

it makes my heart cry to hear of these stories. traveling from country to country, seeing the plight of my countrymen, it has been a privilege to share in their lives. i am also an OFW (overseas filipino worker). but my life is arguably better than most.

one of my friends now, who i used to go hiking with in the lush mountains of our alma mater is cleaning houses and scrubbing toilets in a country that once colonized us for almost 400 years. it is still a decent living. but poverty has driven my countrymen out of our homeland. when will this diaspora end?

the philippines blessed with 7,101 islands have made some lives unlivable for some. a golden age ended with the power hungry politicians so eager to fill their pockets with government money.

so many filipinos seeking greener pastures are willing to give up the prestige of a degree to clean houses in a far away land. they risk being deported from switzerland to put food on the table for their families back home.

never had i seen such determination. not even when i was in the states, where the undocumented lived in relative comfort.

when i first left my country in 1990, i left that picture of poverty, the tenement style BLISS housing project that Imelda Marcos had constructed. i left some playmates whose joy was to fiddle with the passenger jeep parked in the then brown earth. i left the insult of my tattered clothes. i left the public school whose teachers made students come over their houses to do extra credit work to check school papers.

i saw what the american dream was. blessed filipinos who had gotten out during marcos' time or even earlier and when doctors and nurses were in demand, had resurrected their impoverished lives from the ashes and lived in enviable comfort.

big houses with manicured lawns, swimming pools and billiard rooms, erected from the sweat of the 18-hour shifts of some toxic hospital ward. they had reaped the rewards of their labor.

some forgot what it was like to be poor and began to look down on the less fortunate often renouncing charity because they had risen from their perceived own sweat.

others still did not fail to recognize the help they got and passed on the good work by helping others in need.

it is sorrowful to see suffering of broken homes because of economic dictates. why can't we provide for our people in our country?

i sit here now in geneva and i remember the countless parties in the states of the filipino organizations. i recount the bloodied suicide attempt of a kababayan who just slashed her wrist because of a love triangle in abu dhabi. i reminisce the lashes on the back of sarah balabagan, who was punished by shari'a law for murdering her rapist/employer. i remember the blood of an abortion on our carpet. i recall the denial of fear in iraq's abundant oil-wealth as filipinos witnessed the transition of dictatorship to eventual hostage-taking.

this is all in the name of putting food on the table and making the lives of filipino families better.

statistics show that 1 out of 10 in the philippines has an OFW. that is 10 million filipinos seeking their fortunes elsewhere. it is millions of families separated, a mother and father that children never knew and came to symbolize only a source of monthly stipends to buy the latest phone. the children sometimes follow when there are legal means. others stave off homesickness and go as long as 11 years without going home to their families. the phone card business thrives because of phone calls that substitute for hugs and kisses.

walang p. can invariably equate walang pera (no money). such a sad reality but reality is never really the rose-colored fantasy we all hold dear in our hearts. we just like to hope and wish it was.