• An acquaintance of mine with Multiple Sclerosis isn't doing so well. She's on a ventilator at a local hospital. Her husband may have to make the difficult decision to take her off life support this weekend. She's only in her 40s.

  • The prosecution concluded their case against one of the defendants in the Morey family murder trial. I knew the mother, met the father and the children. I still remember 19 January this year when we were at work watching television coverage of a house fire. Someone remembered that it was Tina's house. We called her cellphone and the moment my co-worker said there was no answer, I got goosebumps. Two men that the family knew allegedly stole cash and cocaine from the house, shot the parents, stabbed their 13, 10 and 6 year old sons and set the house on fire to cover up the crime. I had met the youngest son just a few days before. There were so many rumors circulating in the days after, including mutilation of the children and how she was getting ready to leave her husband because of the drugs. We attended the memorial service and I burst into tears when her mom hugged me. She had lost everyone and everything, Tina was her only child. I wish the perpetrators could get the death penalty but even death would be too good for them.

  • 3 teenagers were arrested after a plot to stage an attack on their school was uncovered. It would have been carried out on 20 April 2010, the 11th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings. One of the students posted their plans on MySpace and another reader reported it. Why are these troubled American teenagers resorting to violence? What is this phenomenon of school shootings? Is it the fault of absent parents, the lack of gun control laws because of the powerful gun lobby, the Internet, the violent video games? I read once that the 20th century was the most violent in all of human history. What can we do to make sure the 21st century won't get this prize? If you've heard of the collective consciousness, every kind act or word, every fight for justice, any positivity that you add to this consciousness is supposed to help break the cycle of pain and violence. Easier said than done, but may the Force be with us all. Heaven knows we need it.

So former soldier and now senator Antonio Trillanes IV, (who I went to elementary school with. His two brothers were in my batch.) again challenged Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's presidency. Some of the Magdalo soldiers walked out of a courthouse yesterday where they were on trial for their 2003 Oakwood mutiny. They marched to the Manila Peninsula Hotel, holed themselves up for 6 hours and demanded that GMA resign. (Sidenote: I find it amusing that they always manage to stage their stand-offs in luxury buildings. Is this elitist? Is this why they can't generate public support? A disconnect between what the suffering masses want and what the soldiers can give them.)

The government responded by sending tanks to storm the hotel, arresting the soldiers and journalists and imposing a martial law-like curfew. It seems like overkill but I suppose this was a knee-jerk reaction. Madame President wants to hang on to power until her term officially ends.

Since the 1986 People Power revolution, the military appears to believe that they are the option to the corrupt administrations that have followed. Yes, I admire their conviction and share the outrage that Mrs. President doesn't have the integrity to resign amid allegations of corruption and questions of legitimacy. The Philippines however, is a democracy and should remain one. It is unfortunate that Philippine democracy remains a fledgling enterprise. The opposition unable to impeach her nor provide an alternative candidate, fradulent elections, an indifferent population. But then again, if you're worried about where your next meal is coming from, how could you care who's the sitting president? If she keeps pardoning coup plotters and other wrongdoers (yes I mean you Erap), this will probably not be the last coup attempt. That's my two cents.

I am plain evil. Or I just don't know when to shut up. I like to think that there is a special place for me in heaven because I work in healthcare. (There's gotta be, there has to be! With everything that we put up with!) But it doesn't take much for me to lose brownie points. Exhibit A: Earlier tonight, I got an instant message from an old friend in the Philippines who I haven't spoken to in ages. Instead of a pleasant conversation, I managed to bring our chat to a dead stop in 15 minutes. Last time we chatted, she told me this older man boyfriend of hers had broken up with her (I didn't even know they were a couple because she said they weren't). He got tired of waiting for her. He wanted to move forward but she comes from this ultra-conservative family who apparently won't understand that he is separated and has teenaged kids. There is no divorce in the Philippines; only thing he can do is get an annulment. She was not demanding this from him because he will get one if he really wanted to. She then changed the topic (probably getting aggravated with the things I was saying) so I let it go.

So tonight she asks me if I was still single. She always asks this, as if I would get hitched without telling her. I inquire about her state of affairs and about aforementioned guy. She said she's faced the fact that the relationship would only stagnate because they couldn't go anywhere. "Can't go anywhere?" I ask, wondering if she means the relationship isn't going anywhere? Or they can't physically go out and be seen together? Anyway, she says Yes, because his marriage isn't annulled. I tell her it's not as if he's still with his wife and cheating with her. Then of course the wheels in my head begin to turn---maybe he's not separated! He's supposedly been separated for many many years.

I couldn't for the life of me understand how at almost 40 years old, she still can't do what she wants. Her parents are so sweet I can't imagine them getting bent out of shape over anything. Maybe she sensed my impatience and frustration. HER: The caring is still there, the concern but trying to unlearn the loving part. He is setting aside what we have for now. ME: WTF?!! (but I keep it all inside) I give her my usual spiel about her needing to lead her own life, blah blah blah. She IMs that her nephew was bugging her and that was the end of the chat. I sent a few more messages about a different topic, trying to salvage the conversation. Didn't work. I sign off all perturbed.

Now this is a friend who genuinely and possibly desperately wants to get married. I could be wrong but from the few instances that we've talked about this guy, she seems to think he is the one. How sad that she feels so constrained by her old-fashioned family values. Aren't we supposed to find or make our own joy? What if she is missing out just because she is afraid of what her family will say? Everytime we talk she always mentions how lucky I am to be living independently. I know she is a dutiful daughter and all but when does that stop? Sometimes I just wanna hit her upside the head.

This is the way my mind works: I did my laundry yesterday but forgot that I had a sweater that sheds in that particular load. This covered a black button-down shirt in lint. While I was ironing my clothes last night, I thought of re-washing said black shirt. But I changed my mind and decided to get my lint brush instead. Unfortunately, I had to search for the brush. I opened an overhead kitchen cabinet and a box comes hurtling towards me, hitting me on my already non-Western nose. So now I'm bleeding from a cut on the (non-existent) bridge of my nose. I apply an ice pack, bleed, start getting this massive headache, bleed some more and start worrying about a head injury. Should I sleep and would I wake up if I did? Can I bleed from a blood vessel in my face into my brain? Am I getting nauseous? Why didn't I just re-wash the shirt? Should I call my sister to let her know what happened in case I hemorrhage into my brain? As if that wasn't enough, I almost fell off the stepstool when I stepped down. To top it all off, the lint brush wasn't even in that cabinet. I did find it later, in a cabinet that I had opened but didn't look hard enough. What was the offending object? It was something I got in the mail after I neglected to send back the reply card to a book club. The box was Sharon Salzberg's "Unplug" interactive kit that contained contemplation cards, a guidebook and 2 CDs of guided meditations. It's supposed to help you take a break from the pressures of daily life, create a sanctuary at home. Who says the universe doesn't have a sense of humor?

I saw this on the CBS Sunday Morning show, people singing a litany of complaints. Birmingham, England was the first to organize a choir. Helsinki, Hamburg and St. Petersburg followed. The only U.S. city they mentioned was Chicago. I'm sure there are people complaining about the quality of the singing. (I think the songs are too long.) But it's funny. Turns out we have the same complaints wherever we are. Hmmm, people all over the world having common experiences? whoddathunkit? And yet we can't get along.

I spent Thanksgiving with my sister Cecile, brother-in-law and doggie nephew Zack. We had the requisite turkey, stuffing (can anyone tell me why this is a side dish instead of inside the bird?), mashed potatoes with gravy, and for a Filipino touch, embutido (like a meatloaf) and mocha cake.

On my way there, I was talking to my fellow singleton friend Pinky and apparently we have had the same experiences whenever Thanksgiving rolls around. Our co-workers or patients ask us what our plans are and if we say we have none, they inevitably invite us to their own celebrations. Now that's all very kind but they always seem to have a look of pity on their faces. I've told people that having grown up in the Philippines, it is not as important a day to me as it is to them. Someone always asks why we don't celebrate it in the Philippines. Hello! No pilgrims or American Indians!

I have been in the U. S. for a couple of years and Thanksgiving still feels like an alien holiday to me. And not because of the eventual slaughter of the native Americans by the white people(I just had to get that in.) I'm just not sure that people really know what they're celebrating. Matt Lauer of the Today show says it is his favorite holiday because it feels spiritual, giving thanks for all your blessings. But I think most Americans think of it as just a day to watch football, drink,play out family dramas and overeat. Followed by Black Friday when people make a mad rush through the stores, elbowing each other and playing tug-of-war over this year's hottest Christmas toy. Ahh, nothing says Happy Holidays better than glowering at the check-out line or fighting over the last piece of electronic equipment.

Anyway, in the spirit of the holiday, I am grateful for my family and friends, good health, having a roof over my head, clothes in my back and food in my tummy. What more do you need? Today I had a great meal with good company, playtime with Zack, watched a bootleg copy of "Jersey Boys"..fun times man. Fun times.

I just came back from a trip to Prague with two of my sisters and my brother-in-law. Lynn and I went to Spain last year with some friends of mine(my first European trip!). Although we had a blast, nothing compares to a family vacation. I love the confusion, excitement and panic that you get when you're in a new place. I remember my anxiety (unwarranted it turned out) about the food and the language.

Highlights of the trip? The immigration officer scowling at me; hanging out at the cafes and restaurants just laughing the whole night; crossing the Charles Bridge over and over yet noticing different things each time; the day trips to Cesky Krumlov (an achingly picturesque town), Kutna Hora and its famed Bone Church, spa town Karlovy Vary; knowing that Bohemian kings, the Nazis, the Russian Communists and protesting students have walked the same streets I was now on; strolling through Old Town lit by the eerie streetlamps; looking up at buildings and finding all sorts of surprising details in the architecture.

I even loved the gray, rainy/snowy days and getting lost, the crazy drivers coming to a dead stop in the middle of the highway just to let us pedestrians cross and the overspeeding escalators in their subway system. I never got over the sense of awe at being in a former Communist Bloc city and trying to imagine life behind the Iron Curtain.
I just hated our "ugly American" sightings, that smoking was allowed everywhere and the darn hotel elevator that my sister swore was out to get us. In hopes of avoiding the elevator and to get some exercise, we tried taking the stairs but getting out of the stairwell turned out to be a problem too. We were rescued by a kindly but unsmiling housekeeper. There's so much more to see and do in the Czech Republic. I hope I'll get to go back someday.

P.S. We saw a guy who looked like Heroes' Papa Bennett at the hotel and Ginny Weasley-Potter lookalike on our city tour. No sign of the Haitian though nor Harry.

mathom: n. (coined by J.R.R. Tolkien) anything the hobbits had no immediate use for but were unwilling to throw away.

Tolkien's hobbits gave away presents on their birthdays, instead of receiving them. They called these presents mathoms, usually items that had little monetary value but gained sentimental value as they were passed on. It meant that they were giving away things that were important to them. They were giving a little bit of themselves. I suppose this is what all blogs are, repositories of thoughts and opinions. My sisters Lynn and Cecile thought it was time I had a blog of my own. Speak friend and enter!


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