Friday, December 29, 2006

Pain – a catalyst of change

How much pain can we endure before we say “enough is enough?” How much suffering must one withstand before saying “No”? How much pain must one go through before doing something about it?

It’s an epiphany of sorts for me to finally realize that with enough pain and suffering, we are forced to change. If we bask in the pain, we either turn numb or become insensitive. We lose sight of the lesson behind the pain. Pain is not necessarily a bad thing.

I am no masochist or a big fan of inflicting pain on myself. I am also not a sadist to want to wish or give pain to others. But pain, at the most unexpected of moments from the most unexpected of people come like a thief in the night - the surprise of it makes it even more hurtful. But it happens.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and even pain is sometimes a tool or a catalyst of change. It speeds up decisions that we were too afraid to make. It puts things in perspective. Just like being burned at touching a stove, we are less likely to do the same things which wrought pain upon us. It gives us parameters. It helps us make a better life.

At the turn of this year, a new year is promised at dawn. It’s a time for change. Looking back at the years I have spent here, looking back at the pain I’ve felt all these years, if I never felt them, I would have never moved on.

Perhaps, if my boss didn’t make me feel like shit, I would have never found my new job. Perhaps, if I wasn’t hurt early on in life, I wouldn’t have been as strong as I am now. But that’s also because of God’s help. He is always a factor. But pain, if isolated in its purpose is analyzed, could’ve been the saving grace of many lives.

A happy person is usually a contented person. Not willing to move. Unwilling to change. I don’t think pain is a good thing. I think the absence of it is great but the reality of life is full of pain. One must face it. And for me, a good way of looking at pain is its potency and its potential for change.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


New poem, inspired by my bubble keeper's recent musical composition. Thanks BK!









Monday, October 02, 2006

Anger seeps from my veins

It flows through every capillary


Red from unCertainty

Saturday, September 23, 2006


It was a late night out ... The usual Friday gimmick with friends. Before it an empowering and enlightening SFC teaching by Des at Tito Oca's house.

Aimee dropped me off near Manor so I can go to Café Bizarre. Saw Christa, Faryal, Aries, Jazu and Haider. We left the café after an hour or so. They had been there for quite a while. Christa needed to move her car before we all went to Le Phare.

It was a leisure walk among friends.

Then ...

I walked into Le Phare. There were no seats nearby. We saw our friend Salim and said our hellos. Then we walked on ... stop ... she was there. My dreaded ex. The ex I had been avoiding and hoping not to meet. But Geneva is small. But I didn't know she'd be back from England doing her masters. But she was. Stop. "Hi. How are you?" she said. I said, "I'm ok." Cut. I grabbed some seats and grabbed Christa, "My ex is there." "Where?" she said, "give me some indication, 12 o'clock, 6 o'clock". "There," I said, "in the corner, 12 o'clock". I don't know the exact words that followed but as my friends knew, they started comforting me. Christa hugged me and kept close all night making sure to keep me company. Same with Jazu, Aries and Faryal.

I felt so weak in the knees. I felt like vomiting. I felt sick. I didn't know she still had that effect on me. I was thrown back in a time warp ... dry mouth ... uncertainty ... fear.

We kept a civil hi, didn't talk to each other except to say goodbye. She wished me a good night. I just smiled.

When I got home, I cried my eyes out, slept at 5 a.m. and turned the events round and round ... why didn't I wish her Happy Rosh Hoshana. Afterall, it was their new year. But I was stymied.

I prayed and I cried. I had just asked Des how to let go. Then came this. An unexpected meeting with my ex.

Good thing I was surrounded by friends and I was at my top form. I looked pretty Jazu said. At least, I had something to show. But I didn't need to care. It was a long time ago. A year and a half to be exact.

I have always been on good terms wit my exes. I don't know why we ended like this.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Certainly unexpected

I had the most wonderful birthday anyone could ever wish for. I turned 26 today (Sept. 8) and I spent my eve with the family and friends I have here in Geneva. I thought they would never be able to pull it off. After all, I was always on top of things. I had bionic ears and hardly anything could ever pass me without being noticed. But they were so good. Under the leadership of my mom, Aries and Jazu, they pulled off what I thought was unimaginable. From the KIS group, Roland, Ate Mercy, Kuya Ramil, and Diane were there on that eve of Sept. 8. Faryal and new friend, Christa, was also part of the surprise. Nikki, my oldest friend here, was also part of the scheme. Tito Roque, Ate Virgie, Ate Julie, Tita Minda, pitched in. Haritz made their appearance. Christopher went home on time.

My heart could have exploded from the adrenalin the surprise produced. It was certainly unexpected. I am so blessed to have good friends.

On my birthday proper, Faryal, Melissa, Christa and Jamie made it even more special. Taking me out on the town, in our dressed-to-kill wear, we danced ourselves out at Pickwicks where Melissa threw out her knee. Faryal was ever cool and Christa ever so friendly.

It was a very blessed 26th birthday. I went to Mass twice. I am crying from sheer happiness. I never expected it all. Thank you God for all the blessings and friends and family that think of me so dear. I am really happy. I still can't sleep from all these happiness.

Thank you all.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Au revoir mon frère

At exactly 9.25 a.m. my brother will board a KLM flight bound for Manila. The litany of goodbyes will begin shortly before it. Gallons of tears would have fallen and the familiar goodbye will be said stabbing our hearts like it did when at the age of one he was also sent home to the Philippines.

It is the same situation now. It is for his future that he has been sent home. It is because he will have a better life there. And we will be watching him in pain as he leaves. We hope he will study well and find his dream – whatever it may be. We hope in the company of his elder brothers, he will become a better gentleman.

Our family has been apart more times than the common parting. It is not just weeks of vacation but of years of separation that plague our lives. It is for our own good. It is Gorby’s turn to go home for his future. He makes the trip alone, literally and figuratively, but knowing him, he would have made many friends on this flight home. He is called “congressman” here.

He is just that – a congenial young man, full of ideas with a bright future ahead. Exceptional and unique in his own right.

As the tears flow from its cask, a new leaf will be turned.

I will find my brother - a man - on our next meeting.

I will miss him. We will all miss him.

Au revoir mon frère. May God always be with you as you start a new chapter in your life. I love you. See you soon.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Imminent death

What would you do if you knew you were dying? What would you do if someone close to you is ill and you don't know if s/he will die? Would you talk to him or her even in their sleep? Would you give up all hope? Would you just sit there for death to claim him or her?

Isabel Allende's Paula speaks of such an experience. At the bedside of her daughter suffering from an illness that put her in a coma, Isable writes her autobiography, the story of her life and Paula's life and traces back their lineage so that Paula will remember when she wakes up.

I haven't finished the book but my colleague said Paula dies.

What happens to the book? How could a mother feel when her daughter dies?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Culmination of disappointment ...

Or blessing?

I received my answer last Friday. The Cantonal Office will not give my return visa unless my boss or personnel gives me a certification that I will have a new contract when I come back. "IN THEORY" is a word often used in the UN, so in theory, I am going to have a contract when I come back from vacation but nobody wants to sign the paper saying that I will have it. I don't get the logic. How hard is it to sign a piece of paper that says I worked from this and that period and will work again from this period to that period. It sounds elementary to me. ILO did it for me, I don't understand why the UN is so uptight. UNCTAD does it. So, what gives?

That same day, that Friday when a friend of mine from Milan was about to come for a visit, the long-awaited feared answer reached my ears. I remained numb or maybe I was just too jaded. Then later that Friday afternoon, from out of the blue, a colleague of mine from the ILO calls to ask would I come back if they would offer me a fixed-term contract. I said, "Of course!" That is my long-term goal after all. I cried from excitement and from a sheer overwhelming feeling. God was there. Then came the worry. What shall I tell UN who's expecting me back and my colleagues who I have come to appreciate? I didn't know how I could possibly smile when I met Joy. Good thing Nikki was with me to absorb some of my worry. In the end, the three of us shared a wonderful meal at Al-Ameer. The worry dissipated until Monday came.

Joy left on Monday morning. I was going to tell my supervisor about ILO's offer. I had to give ILO an answer. Work was piling up. I had a hangover from my coffee. Didn't sleep a wink. A bad aftertaste of Jazu's outburst. But it would soon come to an end.

Joy left, I felt sad. I told my supervisor, she wasn't pleased. She spoke to the personnel assistant which will try to extend my contract. I feel like I'm in a tug of war. My hangover was almost gone but left me breathless. My eyes were falling at every word. Jazu's outburst seemed like a distant memory.

Monday came to a close. Another workday completed. I have until the weekend to give an answer to ILO. I am pondering whether my not being able to go home at this time is a blessing. I have savings at least. I will probably go to Milan without a visa and spend my holiday with Joy. What am I supposed to learn from this experience?

A rollercoaster of yeses and nos. Of would'ves and could'ves. But now, the answers slowly come: No to Philippines, Yes to Vacation, No to Certification, Probably No to ILO, Yes to Prayers, No to bitterness ...

I am tempted to be very bitter. To wallow in the self-pity of my not being able to leave Switzerland. My household sister being stopped at the border because she didn't have papers. I felt like that.

I felt like a nobody, a nobody that no one wants to guarantee with a piece of paper that says I am working again with the UN, ILO or wherever.

Maybe there is something I am not seeing. Am I to feel the whole range of emotions that an OFW must feel? Is this a test ... is there a silver lining to this storm?

Perhaps ... it is a blessing in disguise.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Feeling OFW (the saga continues)

I don’t remember who told me to call the Swiss mission but it sure was good advice. I called but didn’t get an answer so I asked my mom to phone them. Fortunately, she got a hold of the person concerned, Ms. G.

I had given up all hope of going home but made a bargain with God. I promised him that if he would let me go home without any trouble or damage to my work, I would give up a certain part of my life. This was also a test whether God existed. I believe in Him that’s why I made the bargain.

So, the Swiss mission said that there was another possibility. For my chief to sign the letter stating that I would be getting a new contract when I come back. This was the original letter that I requested which my boss didn’t want to sign because in her words and quoting her boss “if personnel won’t do it, then you shouldn’t do it”.

It was a very safe answer which removed all responsibility from her hands. It left me disappointed but I was so numb that I hardly reacted.

My mom got an answer and asks me to call the Swiss mission. I call them. They tell me to make personnel call them. Personnel calls them. I call personnel to follow up. Personnel says that the chief can sign but that personnel will not give any attestation. The personnel assistant comes up to the chief’s office whilst me in it. We talk. "I better not get sacked for this," she says. I say, "it's only a formality." The chief drafts the letter but has to call the Swiss mission first. She talks to the Swiss mission. She faxes the letter. I get a call from the chief. Call the Swiss mission on Monday she says.

I wait.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Feeling OFW (part 2)

As if working for my family was not enough responsibility and a source of heartache, my working abroad has been plagued by visa restrictions. I just spoke to my boss and she said that personnel would not issue a certificate allowing me to obtain a return visa from the cantonal (municipal) administration here.
I took the news with a smiling face. I did not know how else to react to such grave news. I feel quite jaded now.

I have been in Geneva for a year and a half without going home. I know it’s not as long as 25 years or even as short as some people’s five years, but it is grave for me whose longest time out is usually eight months and then going back home to recharge.

I still feel calm now and no tears have fallen. I think I’ve cried it out in the previous days and my sleepless nights were premonitions of my imminent disappointment.
I can bitch all I want now but I think it will be a waste of my time and energy.
It is difficult when people depend on you and you are not free to make decisions that only suit your happiness. My family’s finances are hinged on my working abroad. Some of my friends are working abroad too but they like what they are doing. I might be a little impatient but I do like what I’m doing here, I just want to be able to go home. And even that I am not granted.

If I leave for my vacation, there is no guarantee that I can come back. Not even my mom’s diplomatic status can help me because I am independent of her in the eyes of Swiss laws.

What do I do?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Anger Management

Do you ever find yourself just blowing up at anything that triggers your anger? It's a cumulation of angst and anger and then that one little thing breaks the camel's back.

I succumbed to that. I feel so sorry and feel like I've sunk to the lowest depths.

My brother's friends come over at 10:30 p.m. It's late by Geneva standards. It would have been alright if they had called first or rang the bell respectfully and didn't scream at my brother from the other end. All that I heard as my brother came to the speaker phone.

So, I decided not to take it lying down this time. I had been quite angry with this "friend" for a while now. He was very rude and I had just been keeping it civil. But I had enough. I waited for them at the door and greeted them with a resounding "why did you scream at the speaker phone?" He adamantly denied it but I felt myself rising at the sound of his voice and his rude way of talking. I walked away.

Then my brother makes an excuse for my behavior saying that I had had a row with my mother and that I was taking it out on them. I felt like I've been sold out by my brother. It wasn't entirely untrue that I had had some discussion with my mother but it certainly wasn't the cause of my newfound anger. It was because my brother's friend had been so rude.

So, I butt in saying that I wasn't angry at my mother but at them for screaming at the speaker phone. The friend reasoned out which made me even angrier. I told him to not answer back. He said, "Why shouldn't I, if I'm in the right?" At this point I was on the verge of crying from anger and he decided to walk off. Good thing.

But it left me feeling bad that I had stooped so low as to go down to his level of rudeness. I was out of place to accuse him that maybe my younger brother had acquired that same rude behavior from him. He was my main suspect. He denied spending time with my brother. Then shortly, walked into the elevator.

As they left and as I heard their voices downstairs from our open windows, I felt a surge of guilt at my behavior. I should have known better to be calmer and to get my point across without seething anger.

An angry person loses much credibility unless it's righteous anger. Mine was nowhere near righteous. It was just plain old boiling blood anger. And I am sorry for having let myself be poisoned by it.

Tomorrow night, hopefully, we will make amends as my mother had to call a meeting so that we could all clear the air. I hope it goes well. I don't ever want to have a repeat of tonight's Mount Vesuvius eruption. It's definitely not a pretty sight.

Friday, May 26, 2006



The saying goes “To whom much is given, much is expected”. As people discover you can do many things, they expect more from you, extracting every bit of your talent. Some people rise to the challenge, others prefer to keep their talents hidden and far far away from prying eyes who might someday want to exploit them.

I have some talents, or so my mother says. I am constantly getting myself unintentionally involved in this and that project by happenstance. I don’t usually complain when I like what I’m doing.

Recently, I was invited to help out in a farewell project for our long-time parish priest. I didn’t know how I could be of help but I suspected I would be doing the computer stuff and much to my un-surprise, I did.

The people are pleased with what I’ve done with the layout of pictures and texts. I find it quite simple. Of course, to them it probably looks difficult. But it really isn’t. I feel like a newbie in front of techie greats or the proven tech-savvy.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m afraid. I’m afraid of building their expectations and then letting them down. In my younger years, I was very self-confident. I always knew the extent of what I can and can’t do. I put my foot down for things I knew were not my expertise. I was adamant in saying NO.

As I entered linguistics in college, I thought this must be easy sailing. I had always excelled in school so I thought, piece of cake. When I got my first almost-failing grade, I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. I didn’t know what to do. I eventually got the hang of the subject but I decided to shift to journalism. There I was initially getting good marks, acing the homework, then all of a sudden, I got a failing mark on one of my articles. I was utterly crushed. I remember being randomly asked, “How are you?” by a classmate of mine and I broke down right there and then at the walk between the College of Social Science and Philosophy and the Faculty Center. She must have thought me mad. But it was the start of the incessant self-doubt and decreasing self-confidence. I didn’t know what I was really good at. I seemed to get good grades by sheer effort. I wasn’t as smart as everybody portrayed me to be. I felt like a cheater letting them think it.

But I guess at some point, God must have put something there in my head. I did know what I was doing. I got by even if I had no idea how to go about what I was supposed to do. It all worked out. It always worked out. But I was always afraid. I woke up late in the mornings. I became complacent. I lost my edge.

Now, I am here at a job that expects only excellence because it is simple enough. You have to be in on time so no late nights or sleep-ins. But despite my rigid schedule now, I still feel doubtful about my other responsibilities. As I complete each task, each activity, if I come out slightly triumphant, I am expected to do it again, even better next time.

All this thinking began because I did a good layout for the church and I was praised for it. I wonder how I would feel if my boss at work actually praised me. I would probably cry.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

"What a waste"

Not a lot of people have openly expressed disappointment about what I'm doing right now. It's not to say they don't like it, they just think it's a waste of my talents. It's the first time I actually heard it out loud. She said "what a waste" when I told her I worked in the English typing pool at the UN. As if it wasn't bad enough that I've been feeling frustrated the past few days because I know that I could really be doing something more suited to my skills. But I have no choice at the moment. I haven't had proper time to look for other jobs and I can't afford to take time off so I can look for one. It's one thing chained to another thing and it becomes a vicious cycle of cannots.

I just hope I can get out of this rut soon. I look at where my batchmates are right now and I compare myself, which I shouldn't do. Everyone is different and we make different choices. Right now, I still don't know what I want to do in life. Five years ago, I was so sure. I planned to finish my master's degree and I was going to be some big shot somewhere. Well, I didn't know exactly where but I was going to be.

I'm at the UN now with a clerical job. Some people would say it's a real blessing. It is of course and the pay is not bad. But there is still something missing. As I go through the tedious task of encoding corrections after corrections from the translators, I am inclined to think - can I do better? Shouldn't I be doing something more?

I guess I compensate with all the extracurricular activities that I do. But it still doesn't feel right. Maybe I'm just complaining. But I really hope that something will come of my life soon. Something I can truly say I love to do. Something I can do for the rest of my life.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

When in Milan, do as the Milanons do???

I was in Italy again during the Holy Week vacation. The last time I was there, I was in Rome. I loved it then and I still love Italy now. I love the people, I love the culture, I love the sun! and P.S. I love the shopping!!!

We left on Maundy Thursday at about 9 p.m. because Jazu was still working overtime. We were going to travel through the Mont Blanc tunnel with Tito Roque. There was a little nervousness at the border because my Schengen visa was about to expire but I needed to get out of Switzerland. Even if just for a while.

So, we found ourselves over the mountain (and through the woods???) and spent our first day in Italy in Como, the beautiful lakeside city where the famous George Clooney owns a mansion and WHERE the golden couple of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are supposed to wed. We didn't go to Bellagio but we did take a small tour through the monuments in Como. We even went up on the FUNICOLARE, the cable car that brings you on top of the Como hills that overlook Lake Como and the surrounding commune.

Being on top of the Como hills is breathtaking and looking down on the commune below made for a few fashion photo ops [will probably upload pics to my photoblog].

When we got down, we rested a bit and went to Milan via the interregional train. And voila! Forty-five minutes later we were in Milan Centrale and making our way to the Duomo where the Pinoy movie "Milan" had Piolo Pascual and Claudine Barretto feeding the pigeons.

Saturday was market day and the "mercato" for clothes were packed with tourists and local people buying the bargain wares ranging from the latest fashion trends to matching leather goods, etc.

Since Saturday was the only day to buy, I spent the whole afternoon in the mercato. Rain couldn't stop my shopping spree. Jazu had gone on to Rome to be with her friend Princess.

Sunday was a holy day. It was the "Pasko ng Pagkabuhay" (Easter Sunday) and Tito Roque and family including my godchild RR (Roque Robert) and of course, me, went to Caravaggio where the water fountain is said to be miraculous.

That same night, I was Geneva-bound. It was the longest four hours of my life. Traveling in facing seats with strangers can be a bit uncomfortable especially if your seatmate's boyfriend's foot was touching your pants! And it had a certain odor to it. A little respect for your travel companions pls! The lady in front of me was also anxious and tried to smile but just couldn't. I was praying for the couple to get off at any stop now, thank God they got off in Lausanne. I had 30 minutes of peace with the silent lady in front of me.

All in all, the trip was fabulouso! I can't wait to go back to Milan to visit Joy, our newfound friend who is just "dying" to see us. :) Hope you'll read this Joy! Mwah Bella!

(Photos by Jazu and Me)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I'm Moving!

Hello everyone. I changed my URL address to . See you there.


When I took up journalism ethics in college, we tackled envelopmental journalism. It’s the type of journalism that “pays” journalists so they will write stories favoring a certain entity, be it a person, a company, etc.

I thought, it’s easy to give back the envelop, it’s easy to decline. It’s easy to stand on that moral high ground with the thought: ME? I WILL NEVER DO THAT. Boy, was I wrong! I had my first taste of this last Sunday. I was covering a church event. It was the anniversary of one of the Catholic Church groups here in Switzerland and they had a national conference to celebrate it.

The lady said she had something for me earlier on. She said thank you for my earlier coverage of a meeting that took place in Geneva. I was only doing my job. I covered it. I didn’t really pay attention as to what that that “something” was. But I had a feeling it would be money.

She dragged me around the conference venue and had me interview every big honcho there was. She was apologizing and prodding me at the same time. At the end of the conference, she came up to me with a folded amount of money. It was only one bill but it was big enough. I refused many times. She said, “No, no, it’s yours.” I couldn’t say outright, “It’s unethical. I’m only doing my job.” I could definitely not say “Hindi ako bayaran” (I am not paid). It would be rude. I didn’t know how to get out of it without hurting her. So, I accepted with every bad feeling in my heart and decided I would give it to charity. I will not use it for any personal gain.

She was a nice lady just thinking of my welfare. But it’s not right. Every journalist will face this dilemma in his or her life. It is a real temptation when the amount gets bigger and bigger and come Christmas time, you’re overflowing with gifts. It’s even more difficult when you are in dire need of money. I hope that journalists everywhere will continue to report faithfully, true “uncoloured” events, without money or without any gifts, because it is our job to report the truth and only that. It’s something we can be proud of.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


I was listening to 101.1, a local radio station in the Philippines, over the Internet. It was playing Original Pilipino Music (OPMs), old songs from my youth, including the OST of The Never Ending Story. I had this sudden urge to write after hearing a soulful rendition by what I suspect was Jessa Zaragoza doing a Sharon revival.

It is very funny to feel so moved by something usually taken for granted because you hear it all the time in your home country. And the association with OPMs is it blaring from the speakers, while stuck in traffic in a crowded jeepney, in a very polluted street, at the very dark of night.

Being abroad usually makes the familiar in an unfamiliar place such a welcome experience. For example, hearing the Top 40 in the Philippines even when you’re thousands of miles away or hearing OPMs that you grew up with and were already alive in your grandfather’s time.

So many things change when you are far away from the place you call home. Any little reminder of it becomes such a big deal and sometimes it moves you to tears. This time it brought a big smile to my face as I was reading The Alchemist, a book by Paulo Coelho, speaking of dreams; the radio was playing in the background and had already rendered “Ikaw ang lahat sa akin”, I’m not really sure what the title is and some song revival by Olgie Alcasid.

For many OFWs, April Boy Regino is a real idol. I heard him in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates before his X-forming “Di ko kayang tanggapin” days. I was totally amazed. I almost cried!

It is when you take yourself from what you know, from what you grew up with, from things you take for granted, that you realize what they meant for you. They were home.

Being a wanderer though, it’s hard to call one place home - but for me, I really found it in the Philippines. I could identify with the place, I could identify with the culture. I realized it was me. A part of the Philippines had traveled with me to all the places I went to. I left a little part of the country in everywhere I went as I took a little part of my host country to the Philippines. And I will continue to bring a little piece of the Philippines to wherever I go. And I’m glad that I can hear OPMs a thousand miles away from home.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bubble Keeper

Life deals the biggest blows sometimes. Some blows are harder than most and breaks that little protective bubble that you keep around yourself.

Wouldn't it be nice to have someone outside of your bubble, a friend but more than just a friend, actually a protector of bubbles of some kind, perhaps – a BUBBLE KEEPER.

Yeah, I got me one of those! A little in-house therapist of sorts. We are actually each other's bubble keeper. I tell my bubble keeper my daily happenings and what life's bitch has dealt me and i listen in turn to my keeper's frustrations. And since we're both outside of each other's regular bubble, we can see when there's going to be a danger to the bubble. And we can be objective enough and physically distanced enough to be effective bubble keepers.

We don't move in the same circles, thus we cannot be readily identifiable as friends. We are not linked in society's eyes yet we are bonded by our little secret mission of bubble keeping.

Sometimes, one's bubble can get a bit claustrophobic too. It's nice to have someone from the outside explain or look at things from a higher plane. I am thankful for our meeting and being able to keep in each other's lives as protectors.

For my bubble keeper, here is your ODE!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

“Islam: What Catholics Need to Know” by Father Elias D. Mallon

This was the topic yesterday night at the New Directions Speaker Series held at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church. It was the first time I attended a New Directions talk since it started last year. The organizers invite people to speak about different topics which are relevant to the times and to our religion, Roman Catholicism. New Directions is based in the John XXIII Parish Centre in Geneva.

I was surprised to see so many people cramped into the social hall of Holy Trinity. So many people were interested in the topic especially in the light of 9/11 and how we perceive Muslims and condemn Islam for breeding terrorist and fundamentalists. I am not one of them but this is an increasing world view.

We were fortunate to have Father Elias himself give the talk. He first cited the important dates in Roman Catholic history and Islamic dates of importance. He spoke about the Crusades and the Ottoman Empire. He spoke about how both religions conveniently forget their past of being aggressors and play the victim role and justify their perceptions now. He said that playing the victim creates a self-righteous perception of one’s self.

He said that what is important in inter-faith dialogue is DATA, PERCEPTION and EXPERIENCE. Before we accuse someone of being something, we should have data on the ground to support our claim. We should make sure that our perceptions match each other so that we are not confused by misconceptions. And that in the event we can get past our perceptions, we should strive to experience one another in dialogue or as Fr. Elias said, to engage our neighbour, Muslim, Jew, etc.

It was a very important talk not just in perceiving Muslims in particular but salient in perceiving people who are different from us in general. We tend to say “I don’t like him/her … just because … there is something about him/her.” This might be the beginning of a long misplaced hatred.

In dialogue, we should also not try to point out each other’s fault. Fr. Elias said we should talk from our best positions. What is best in both of us and move from there. The goal is not to convert anyone to his or her way of thinking but to understand where each is coming from and to discover what makes one a Christian and the other Muslim.

It is in this recognition that we begin to experience each other not based on just perceptions but based on what is intrinsically true.

The various inter-faith conflicts were discussed in the talk and how conveniently the aggressor forgets his previous faults and how the victims have long memories. He pointed out Pope John Paul II’s visit to Greece and if he would apologize for what the Crusaders did 800 years ago. Who can even remember? But the Pope did apologize.

In Islamic countries now, the word “crusader” is still very much alive. They have not forgotten the faith-driven war waged on the world. And having the principle of “God wills it”, when they win a war it means God is with them. The loser becomes humiliated.

But this is not the case now. We know this is not true. We have to correct our perceptions based on data so that when we experience someone, we are not talking from a misplaced and often erroneous perspective.

“Islam: What Catholics Need to Know” by Father Elias D. Mallon is one of several new publications that will be officially premiered at the NCEA convention in Atlanta on April 18-21.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

alzheimers, traveling ...


i hate forgetting. this was one of the reasons i cannot live without an organizer or a planner or just a simple tickler of a notebook. i find it hard to accept the fact that i can forget things. but i know it happens.

but it’s happening more recently these days. it is so disturbing that i’m just thinking of one thing a few seconds earlier and take an action to support it and then all of a sudden, i forget what i was about to do. i just stare for a moment and try to press that rewind button in my head. why am i in this room again? what was i about to get? and the perennial - where are my glasses???

is it a sign? maybe my brain cells are slowly dying with no hope of regenerating. i think i’m nearing that age when my brain cells have become non-renewable resources. maybe it’s all that smoke and alcohol! no, i haven’t started smoking. almost every gimik place here is smoke-filled, so we are not spared. alcohol – i had a few. i hope that hasn’t contributed to my ailing memory.

i remember one of 50 first dates’ patients, ten-second tom or bob is it? i can’t even remember.


i haven’t done a lot of travelling lately. traveling is one of the reason’s why i named this blog wanderer’s tale. i move too much. but for almost two years now, i have been in one country. the first year i was able to go visit my country. the first part of the second year, i was able to go to rome. i loved it. and i wrote about it here.

in a week, we are supposedly going to paris. i’ve never been to paris. the closest thing to france that i’ve gone is crossing the border to do the groceries (that was when i still had a visa) and to visit people in nearby france.

actually, i have been a little bit remiss about traveling lately. i like staying in one place and i can’t be bothered to make long distance trips. i get agitated easily when i know i’m traveling for long periods of time.

but i do love it. it’s just that i’m not in the mood right now.

i think i’m starting to grow temporary roots. but then again, if i was a plant, i would be a water plant. the ones that grow roots and can stay up to catch the light but can easily uproot (is this even possible when you just pull it from water?) and be put in another vase.

my life can be a bit boring sometimes but my friends always find it exciting. it’s either i’m traveling or meeting new people or doing both. it's part of the wanderer's tale.

Monday, March 20, 2006

First day of spring

siguro kapag nasa four-season place na-aapreciate at nagagalak ka sa kada change ng weather at season. wala na nga ibang pinag-uusapan halos kundi ang weather. kamusta sa labas, ano dapat isuot ... at kung anu-ano pa.

today is the first day of spring. medyo hindi gaano kalamig at hindi na kailangan mag-gloves sa labas. nakakahinga ka na rin without freezing your breath in mid-air. brain freeze ang labas mo nyan!

anyways, happy ako kasi magaling na rin ako sa sakit ko. isang linggo din akong plastado at depressed sa bahay dahil sa sinus infection-slash-throat infection with various complications.

masarap ang simoy ng hangin. kainis lang yung naninigarilyo habang humihinga ako. binigyan ko ng tingin yung naninigarilyo. hmmmph!

ang saya ... ilang araw na lang, spring jacket na rin ang suot namin. pwede ng mag-skirt at magshorts at wala na ring leggings na suot. it's a liberating feeling.

sana summer na. :D

Friday, March 17, 2006

is love a commitment? or what?

Buboyliit: let the commitment find their own love
Buboyliit: or let the love find its own commitment

I was talking to my friend, Parengchris aka Buboy Liit, last night. It might be a bit late for Valentine’s Day but love is never a seasonal subject, it’s the all-around topic.

So, is love a commitment?

It’s a difficult question. A friend said that being stupid is one of the prerequisite of being “in love” coz love makes you stupid. So, let us discuss the question again posed by buboy. So is being stupid a premise of love?

Before we tackle that, we have to define love. It is one of the vaguest words in the dictionary. It can be described as a “strong feeling”, “God” as in “God is love”, etc. What does being “in love” mean? Do we actually know what it means? Is it just a feeling we feel when we see someone we like for a long time? There goes my crush, “I love him” or “her”! Is that love?

Some of our ancestors married without love yet they eventually “learned” to love each other. So is love learned? Or do you just “feel” it? Or is it a commitment?

Last year, I was talking to Michelle, another friend, and she said, “feelings change all the time, we will always find someone better but we choose to love who we love because love is a commitment”. So love entails choosing someone. And we when we love, we choose to care for another human being and staying true them and “committed” to them no matter what.

Commitments are not always full of love but they can be. Think of mathematical subsets. Love is a commitment but commitment is not necessarily love. While the first subset still belongs to commitment, the second subset is not necessarily part of the same set. Confusing? Love is.

So, if love is not just a feeling but entails commitment. Commitment is not necessarily love-filled but could be, depending on the situation and the cause of the commitment. Things evolve all the time. Commitment can be love but love is always a commitment. Can love find itself committeed? Definitely! Parengchris, I hope I found the answer for you.

feeling OFW

nagegets ko na ang mga nararamdaman ng mga OFW sa ibang bansa. kung bakit ang tamis ng bawat tungtong sa lupang sinilangan at kay pait ng bawat alis.

wala talagang kapantay ang buhay sa atin. nafIfeel ko na rin kung gaano kahirap ang mabuhay sa ibang bansa. kung gaano kahirap ang mawalay sa pamilya na hindi mo alam kung kelan mo ulit makikita. nakakaloka, nakakapagpakapit sa patalim.

mayroon ng higit isang taon ako dito sa switzerland na hindi na kakauwi sa pinas. pero meron pang mas malala sa akin, mayroon dyang limang taon, sampung taon, maging dalawampu't limang taon ng hindi nakakauwi sa atin para lang makatulong sa pamilya.

ang iba, mga ina na hindi na naaruga ang mga anak. iba naman, nalipasan na ng pag-ibig at iniwanan na ng mga kabiyak. maraming lalaking nangulila at nagkaroon ng pangalawang asawa dito.

ang hirap ng hindi mo alam kung kelan ka ulit makakauwi. kung hanggang kelan mo matitiis ang pag-iisa, ang pangungulila sa pamilya, ang pag-lilinis ng bahay na hindi naman sa iyo.

bakit nga ba? para kanino? hanggang kelan?

Walang kasiguraduhan.

Kaya naman parang piyesta ang bawat uwi ng isang ofw. Kasi hindi na alam kung kelan pa ulit makakabalik sa lupang tinubuan.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

mental sanitation

JINGYAHOO: i mean, write to enjoy. write to "live" life. write to document life's greatest pleasures and greatest miseries.
PA: and she carried her pained expression upon the back of the keyboard
JINGYAHOO: if you get good money out of it, that's just a bonus
PA: she painted with the keys
PA: her wrinkles, her sorrows,
PA: her most intimate ecstasies ... darn i feel like an erotic writer!

some people and i mean me, have a tendency to put things in a certain sanitized, compartmentalized way. it's the oc-ness in me. (read "aviator's" obsessive compulsive disorder.)

my friend jing damaso (read JINGPREETI) pointed out how my writing seems "too perfect" sometimes, removing all emotions from my writing and replacing it with a certain mental sanitation that can be counted among the very white white of laundries. in other words, so clean, you can't see what's behind it.

so, from now on, i will write more boldly not keeping what other people will say in mind and let whatever i feel out! look, dirty laundry all around.

for the people that know me, dirt is one of my worst enemies. but dirt makes the antibodies work. without it, we can die of cleanliness. so, i'm self-administering myself to some enemies so i can be stronger and in the end, keep myself mentally sane.

for those that may react badly to my writing and get shocked by following entries, i warned you! the gloves are off.

Monday, February 27, 2006


You read it ... F-A-T aka Fabulous at twenty-five. My favorite wanton coined this for me earlier in a chat conversation. I thought it was a good way of putting my added kilos in a better perspective. Thank you, 'ton. May you always be FAT. :D

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sudden inspiration

The past few days have been filled with some sort of poetic stimuli that have made me write down my random thoughts on everything from waiting in line to clocks, to nightmares and practically anything. I feel like a beaker of words that pour my poetry into whatever could hold it. I have recently run out of "tickler" space and will start a new one for my on-the-spot poems.

The following posts are some poems inspired by recent events.


I stare into the blankness of the night,
As I wait in agony over my plight,
The HOURS seem to p-a-s-s,
WithOut moVemEnt,
WithOut unceRtainty,
What will become of mE?
In France's visa line???!!!


Swallowed, not quite digested
I feel something stuck
Some sort of emotion
Without release,
Nor beginning, nor end
A wanting, something to say?

Something to realize,
something to feel
But I cannot place that thing,
what is it?

Love, infatuation, desire,
sadness, tears, tragedy,
The workings of my mind
Lodged in my throat
It won't go down
No ideological or emotional wine
Unmoving, uncertain
Yet placed to provoke.

Waking dream

In my waking dream
I move closer to you
I touch you

I caress your hair
I kiss you
I want to do a multitude

But in my waking hours
It seems impossible, almost unreal
Like a dream, did I dream it?

I do not feel the same fire or passion
I do not know you
But I think of you in my dream

Did I dream you?

(Inspired by Borges' "Nightmares" in Everything and Nothing, 1999.)

Friday, February 03, 2006

"Complication" by Erich Fried

(Translated from German by Stuart Hood)

To see you only once
then never again
must be easier
than to see you once more
and then never again

To see you once more
and then never again
must be easier
than to see you twice more
and then never again

To see you twice more
and then never again
must be easier than thrice more
and then never again

But I am stupid
and want to see you
before I can never see you


that's the name of the book that "munich" was filmed after. it's an endless cycle of violence. a want for the redress of the death of jewish compatriots who were killed at the hands of arab terrorists.

but where does it all end? one side kills off the other to avenge the death of another. it never ends. and children are born and hatred seems to be inborn. it is a repeated pattern of avenging a kin's death, avenging the death of a loved one, avenging the motherland.

when does it stop? when does violence stop? a phrase my mom uttered is "when the wars of the heart stops, then maybe there could be peace." hatred in the heart brings catastrophies. and "ideological promiscuouity" gives it light. the character louis says, "i get my emotions confused" speaking of hatred, anger, etc. from one ideology to another.

working in the UN system makes it seem utterly useless sometimes when people take matters into their own hands, when principle rules above law and vengeance becomes part of life.

then again, hendrik, a diplomat says, "it's better to fight with words than physically". but how far will words travel if the guns have already fired their shots and blood has been shed in the name of principle which doesn't recognize international treaties but seek to give justice to that spilled blood?

vengeance ... it echoes in the ears of the palestinians that want their land ... it echoes in the minds of the jews that protect israel and claim it for themselves ... it is in every palestinian refugee whose land has been taken away ... it screams in our hearts for every hurt which we've been dealt. so, when does it stop?

is peace really possible with vengeance in our hearts?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Nalalapit na ang Araw ng mga Pusa, este, Araw ng mga Puso. Magsisimula na ang mga bilihan ng kung anu-anumang regalo at ang pagpaplano kung paano na nga ba pasasagutin si Inday. :)

Sa 25 taon kung buhay, isang beses pa lang ako nakaranas na kasama ang aking "mahal" sa araw ng mga puso. Medyo overrated ang araw na ito pero kebs, go with the flow na lang kapag may special someone diba.

Kaya sa mga merong special someone dyan, cherish every moment and that includes V day.

Advanced Happy Valentines to all of you!

Monday, January 23, 2006

i have become lazy to document my thoughts.

i have found the easy verbal discussions as an excuse to keep the intercourse between my pen and paper - a most awaited experience - on abated breath. they have missed each other, i should think.

in the lethargy of each day's routine tasks, thoughts masquerading themselves as deep and analytical have clouded my mind.

reality mixes with dream, with fantasy, with wants and needs. they are sometimes surreal and i wake up thinking, "did it really happen?" did i hear that strange trickle of water the other night and did jasmine really tell me there were ghosts in the house.


new year! 2006. no real achievements except a feeble attempt at getting from point A to point B using a motor vehicle, often called in lay man's term as driving. feeble indeed for fear clutches my heart when i hold the steering wheel. afraid of what? of hitting people, of hitting cars, of backing up while in hanging positions.

NO COURAGE. yet i say to my friends to take courage. am i a hypocrite? or do i want to have it myself? am i living on their courage?

where have i gone? where has this pen been? where have my thoughts and goals gone? i've become moss on stone. i have not rolled lately.


i think of being with someone, but in equal measure, i enjoy the complexity of my own mind. i don't need another to make it a jigsaw puzzle. "so what does this and that mean?" throwing myself in an endless guessing game of another's feelings, mind, insides.


i am shy yet aggressive - an irony in myself. a complex mix of myself. who will understand?


i write to echo these random thoughts. hiatus is ambiguous. restless yet no concrete actions.

i have become lazy and my thoughts whirl without being incarnated on paper. my stories die before they are born. stillborn ideas, a mental endometriosis.

Friday, January 20, 2006


i turn

i twist

my mind, a-flutter

i go or no?

i walk

i look

i move

i think

i stop

i breathe

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Friday, January 13, 2006

Maniacal Repulsive Powerful Trousers

This is my Kung Fu name. You can try finding out yours at this link

For those that know me, it's the perfect name. Isn't it?