Thursday, August 21, 2008

remembering teacher winnie

i remember my mom telling me that one of the judges at an oratorical contest i joined told her that i should have one that contest had i not forgotten my lines. i was 13 or maybe 14 at that time and was new to my school at pioneers in abu dhabi. teacher winnie was one of the teachers there and she was nice to me. and it so happened that she was the aunt of my future best friend cheng.

i always remembered teacher winnie as a smiling person, light to be around with and generally just nice. even after years and years of my departure from abu dhabi, i always remembered her kindness, her words of encouragement and what she told my mom. i remember her smiling in the park as we celebrated cheng's birthday. i think it was the first time i met cheng.

people like her are always embedded in my memory because she was someone who made you feel good about yourself.

when i read cheng's news that she had passed today, my chest was heavy. i couldn't breath. the news was so much of a shock. i tried to call cheng but i got her voice mail. i am so sorry that she was taken so soon and so young. she wasn't even 50.

i hope that wherever she is she is happy now. i hope that she will find rest in eternal life. i pray she is meeting God who made her so kind.

may teacher winnie rest in peace.


new word!

grabeh + traffic = grabeng traffic/2 = graffic!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

remembering the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the bombing where 22 UN workers were killed in the fatal bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad. One of them was a Filipina who was facially disfigured, initially declared dead but was barely alive when recovered from the rubble. Another was the head of the UN in Baghdad, Sergio de Mello. He had just replaced my former boss, Francis Dubois, as head and had Francis left two weeks later, it would have been him we were commemorating.

It's difficult to say when death will come knocking at your door. It's difficult to say in what manner you'll die. No matter how many times it's said, it's still best to live life as if everyday was your last.

I cherised many good memories in that building. I was telling my colleague that we used to play ping-pong every afternoon after work. My favorite player was Saad al-Asali. He was doing computational linguistics and I used to take linguistics and we could exchange our views on that while hitting away on the ball. There was a sort of camaraderie among the UN workers there and I'm sure like in every mission because a lot of us were far from our homes. Saad is Iraqi and he even came over to my house to play ping pong. I was very saddened to find out that he was badly hurt during the bombing. I met him in 2006 during the second anniversary and I met his family. He wasn't the same. He still had the same smile but he was hurting all over as the pieces of glass that shattered his body left him physically scarred.

It's sad to remember and it's even worse to see that Baghdad now lies in ruins. I can only blame the invasion because this may have never happened otherwise. I hope that Baghdad will soon rise again from the ashes as it always does in the centuries of attempted colonization from the Kings of Babylon to the current occupying Power. I hope the UN will play a real role in peace and not back out in the face of fear and danger. After all, it's there to accomplish world peace.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

bye bye laptop

as if my laptop wanted to go on vacation too, it finally conked out on me. i'm in the philippine embassy relating this story. after my mom shut down the computer yesterday, i woke up from my sleep but my laptop didn't. it had gone into a cyber coma allowing me only to get to the start up screen and not detecting the ethernet cable. and i would receive the message over and over again after i continually "press[ed] any key".

i thought to myself, indeed now i will be on vacation eventually even cutting me off from my cyber attachments in geneva.

i tried fixing it checking if the hardware were still intact. but i only had a mini screwdriver originally designed for my eyeglasses. as i tried to unscrew the tightly screwed screws of my laptop, i found that the size of the screwdriver was quite small and that any attempt at turning it only resulted in a slippery unsuccess. so, putting my mcgayver thinking cap on, i took a piece of rubber from my phone charger to prevent the handle from slipping. SUCCESS! i was able to unscrew about six screws until i found out that i would have to disassemble the whole laptop composing of more than 20 screws! so, i gave up as my thumbs were getting calloused from the unscrewing.

we'll be checking out of the hotel on saturday and hopefully our host and i could manage to resuscitate my laptop. otherwise, adios mi laptop!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

International AIDS Conference 2008 in Mexico

i'm in mexico right now primarily to see my mom and to help her give her presentation on the philippine experience on the topic of "travel restrictions on people living with HIV: going against the grain of human rights and public health". it's been an interesting experience as i move around people with HIV/AIDS and to see the human face of the disease. i have only attended two panel discussions, one which was my mom's and the other with malou marin of ACHIEVE on the topic "mobile populations and globalization." the panel is composed of around six people who relates their experiences whether as part of government, civil society, international organization or person living with HIV/AIDS.

the venue is in the heart of mexico at the banamex which is a big exhibition center next to a horse race track. the global village where most of the exhibits are situated is in the middle of the race track. it's also the registration area. with an expected attendance of 25,000 people, the tent was only half the size of the session halls where the main events took place.


secondly, i'm on vacation!

so far, i have only seen the city. on my first night here, i already saw the zona rosa which translated is the red light district.

we are staying in the nh centro historico hotel. as the name suggests, it's the historical center of mexico where the "templo mayor" used to be behind the palacio nacional. you can still see the ruins of the aztecs. i have yet to see it as mama doesn't have time and it's a pity to go on my own.

i was also quite touched when i kept urging my mom to go out and see some touristic sites. she said "i only came here to see you and mama mary". she was crying last night as she was so thankful that i could make it. i am so thankful too. and she keeps reminding me that she's not as young as me and even in my youth, i got so tired yesterday i slept the day off.

so, hopefully, when her conference ends, we can see some sites.


even if i'm on vacation, my email isn't. hehe. so, i still receive requests for things to do in the filipino community. this time i ask before accepting responsibilities so that it's clear. i like my life uncluttered and i'm trying not to expend myself at the cost of my health and my sanity. life is good and i want to keep it that way. simple and sweet.

Friday, August 01, 2008

dream, dream, dream .... dreeeaaam

we were in a hall of sorts preparing for a singing competition or concert. we were practising. i was facing a wall with bleachers and my things were spread on the bleachers. other participants would come up and talk to me and we'd exchange views.

cut scene: an office with people coming out. a place that seemed like a university. the people were on their way to the singing competition but would it breakfast first in this mess hall that looked like a university canteen. i thought i saw rae in the dream.

cut scene: i was in an office to look at something, maybe an exhibition but the floor was being cleaned or has been cleaned but the cleaning agent was still on the floor whilst, there was a meeting of organizers composed of filipinos and what seemed like spanish-looking people. i was with someone but i couldn't recognize her and we went into the office and it was slippery. the motion of my feet were circular trying to maintain my balance. each spot i tried to see that didn't have detergent or cleaning agent on it i would step to that area yet i would still catch the slippery part and again i would scramble for my balance as my feet move in circular motion. one of the organizers were trying to let us see the exhibit. finally as we were able to reach the exhibit ... (sequence ended)

cut scene: back to the competition hall there seemed to be drama. it wasn't apparent but i could feel it. i don't remember now if there was a singer missing. what i remember is coming back to the hall and meeting someone, a man who i would talk to. i don't remember all the parts of the dream now. the sequence ended at the competition hall.