Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Capping the year with The Greatest Game Ever Played

Borrowed a book by Mark Frost (called The Greatest Game Ever Played) from my friend Ditas (who also lent me a VCD of the Disney movie of the same name [starring Shia Lebeouf, in the photo above] so I could compare, haha!)--and I must say: never before have I been excited about a golf game. The book is about the 1913 US Open held at the Country Club in Brookline Massachusetts, where British number 1 pro golfer Harry Vardon played a very very interesting golf game against newbie (and 20-year old) amateur golfer Francis Ouimet.

The book introduces us, not only to these two admirable people, but to a whole cast of personalities at the turn of the 20th century. Frost chronicles the history of the golf game, gives us the "who's who" of golf at the time, and adds the touch of background--specifically, United States in 1913.

Most importantly, Frost effectively introduces Vardon and Ouimet--from what background they hailed to what drove them to give their best play. And since this is golf, most of the drama happens internally--Frost never sounds like a World Series commentator. This, I believe, is very good creative nonfiction.

But before this becomes a critical analysis of sorts (which is not what I mean to do), I must say am glad to have picked this book up as my year-ender read. Though I would be a most unlikely golfer (must admit the game is costly!), there's much to be gleaned from the book, especially at a time like this.

For one, athletes inspire a different sort of discipline--you can't get any better at what you do unless you log some hours on it. I guess being a writer and artist (and geekaziod) in high school never let me appreciate what my batchmates who joined varsities were learning...but then again I can't expect myself to DO everything. In that sense, the windows books open for me are always precious glimpses of things I may otherwise remain ignorant of.

For another--and this, one gleans from the admirable character of Francis Ouimet (whom I greatly admire for his humility)--it's important to keep dreaming: it gives you something to smile about and something to work for--and what, in life, do we need more than that?

Happy new year everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silent Night

It's Christmas Eve! And the perfect time to sing Silent Night, my favorite Christmas carol ever. If you don't know all the lyrics, time to brush up! The original version (in German) came from Austria (1818). I wonder if anyone ever tried adapting this song in Filipino.

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Friday, December 19, 2008

When pigs mean more than you and me

"In the dismal abacus of our day, when a pig is born in China, national wealth goes up; when a child is born, it goes down. Almost all fervor for population control traces back to this premise, which reflects a theological confusion as much as an economic one, and it derives from the historical tendency of Western experts to see Asian peoples as mouths and not minds."

William McGurn
"Population and the Wealth of Nations"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If there's only one Christmas decor at home... should be a Belen!

My Belen hunt was a success! Found this set in Papemelroti--made by hand, too! (I'm sure, because no two Marys look alike--and there are finger marks on them hehe!)

I live in a 2 room condo unit so there's really no space for a Christmas tree or Advent Wreath, hence the Belen hunt. We have a big Belen set, but they're put away in a storage box at a relative's house. We'll get it back when we find a real house to move into. So for this year, this dainty set will do just fine.

It only has three characters, though, and no animals. (I'd like to think the three kings haven't arrived yet--they're due on January 6!)

On a Belen-related note... why not pick up Enrique Monasterio's God Has Made a Bethlehem this Christmas season? It's a retelling of the Christmas story from the point of view of all the characters you see in the Belen: the star that lit the way of the three kings, the angel Gabriel, the inn keeper, the shepherd...even the souls of the babies who were killed by Herod's new law. This book sees the Nativity story in many ways--I guess it proves also the many ways we can encounter Christ this season.

Merry Christmas! :D

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

'The True Gospel of Solidarity'

Here's a speech made some years ago by a CW student in UP, back when CW was under English Studies. I wonder where this guy is now. He authored a short but meaty speech, which I found in my friend Gabi's blog. Interesting insights here on differences, searching for the truth, and using one's talents to bring these truths to light.

And exposing the truth should help Filipinos find better solutions for our country's ills. [cough cough]

The True Gospel of Solidarity
by Joseph Nathan Cruz
Magna Cum Laude, BA English Studies - Creative Writing
CAL Recognition Rights, April 15, 2000.
(Forum, April 28, 2000)

My mother is a domestic helper. In other people's homes she cooks, does the laundry, cleans the bathroom, and takes care of the infants. She put me through school doing that kind of work because that was the only thing she could do. She never finished high school, never enjoyed bourgeois luxuries. And later tonight, we'll be going home to our hovel in a squatter area in Taytay, Rizal dubbed Coco village because most of the houses are made of cheap, coco lumber.

And yet, few of my classmates know that. Most are comfortable with their neat picture of the world. Comfortable with cute, little concerns in the University like projects and papers, reports, boyfriends and girlfriends, torn hymen, cheap thrills in the lagoon, concerts, cell phones, night lives. And in this age that flaunts globalization and the advance of technology, we are led to believe more and more that we have entered an age of solidarity and unity. An age where there is interconnection in a global village that continues to spawn genuine development for all mankind. Indirectly, it leads us to a complacency supported by the lie that the world is alright. After all, we feel alright. The pain and suffering exists somewhere out there to a few insignificant people.

I have walked among you. But lost in anonymity, I am assumed to be no different from anyone even by some of my friends. When I was a freshman, a close friend of mine enjoyed lambasting the squatters, the jologs, for their bad behavior, their bad smell, their propensity for breeding baby after baby they cannot support. My friend did not realize that I was from that background. He did not realize that I grew up watching my friends die of sickness, or get pregnant too early, or get injured or killed in petty street wars, or go to jail, or get assigned to the typical, monotonous lifestyle of the poor. And the assumption that everything is alright grows with the lie that we are more or less the same, that we are united, that the dawning of a new world order has started to bring the sought-after solidarity.

But the right approach to true solidarity and unity is not one that denies difference, denies the pain of the oppressed just because it is not beautiful, or, as our country's President says, "It is too depressing." The right approach is to expose the truth, highlight the difference and work for its remedy. For as long as there are poor people, Moros discriminated against, oppressed women, abused children, and multitudes of other categories consigned to the margins because they threaten the image of unity and stability that feeds the established status quo, there can be no true solidarity.

But the creativity of the artist, the magic of their potent images, the works of the men and women of letters --- these have the power to transform, power to wake our people from the stupor that gives them dreams that are lies. Power to destroy myths and create a world that is beautiful and true.

Of course, the arts and letters can be used the other way. The way that sells out, aids corruption, subverts the potentiality of what is good. But will you? As graduates we are in a phase that continues to taunt us with the question, "Who do you sell your brains to?"

It is easy to be complacent. To believe the lies. But we shouldn't. We owe it to our teachers who taught us patiently despite the low salary, to our parents who worked so hard for us, and to our people whose blood and sweat built this institution and continue to put us through school. We owe it to them to become the prophets of this age who will preach the true gospel of solidarity. Only then can we all be truly one in a world where it would make perfect sense to celebrate the fact --- squatter ako, katulong ang nanay ko --- and we are proud because, and not in spite of, the fact.

I'm sure, all of us have issues about which we keep silent because of the power of the lies.

This is the day to be free. I call on you --- fellow scholars and artists, unite!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Baby Christmas!

Doesn't baby Yasmine Catalo, with her very infectious smile, make you want to spread the cheer this Christmas? She's our jolly cover baby for Baby Magazine's December issue! The photo was taken by Melai Parcon-Lopez at that quaint collector's shop, Collect and Cherish, Shangri-La Mall.

Lots of very helpful tips this month for new parents, infanticipating moms and families! From celebrating the season with a third trimester bump to handling your infant's first Christmas, and from teaching the little ones about the reason for the season to turning the Christmas junk to fun play things--we'v got it covered. Features include what started the Belen collection of Gigi Abaya-Carlos (and where to visit it!) and how people around the world spend Christmas.

Also interesting are the articles on how to "recycle" your left over food (making a fine "new" meal!), how to teach manners to kids, and how to psyche your toddler to visit the doctor. EDIT: Oh, and there's a very interesting forum on responsibility and parenthood! :-)

Maliyagang Pasko mula sa Baby Magazine!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Yay for self-mastered teen vampires

Yes, I admit! I watched Twilight!

(I really wanted to see how they'd make it into a movie, so I forced a friend to watch it with me.)

And what do you know? The movie has its merits. I'm not going to focus on the weird points (dazzling vampires--that's new!), but on the good things the movie tries to say.

So okay, the premise is this: Bella, the protagonist, moves to Forks to give her mom (who just got remarried) some space. She meets a vampire family and falls in love with Edward, who is attracted to her because she is something like "his favorite flavor." Hm.

Anyway, vampires kill people, but these vampires are "vegetarian," meaning they'd rather kill animals than people even if they'd really rather eat people.

Rather dumb, the way I put it--so sorry for that. What I find really nice in this movie is the example of Edward--his efforts at loving Bella while not killing her. And I think this is a crucial trait for a character whom teens would like to model.

My friend says the movie is about abstinence--and yeah, it is, I agree. But abstinence sounds flat to me, and it turns some people off, even. Deeper than just abstaining, this movie is about self-mastery: understanding what it is you truly value, then doing everything you can to keep it alive. You know you're not perfect, but there's an effort given to be close to perfect, the way you should really be. And that, I think, is what makes a character like Edward interesting and worth a teen's while.

I guess you don't have to pick up the book to see this in the movie. (And you don't have to pick up the book to see the movie--they're alike to the letter.) If you can stand sappy lines and funny cartoon hair, go ahead and see it--like I said, it has its merits.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's almost Christmas!

I hear Feliz Navidad everyday now. I love Christmas!

I can't wait for the start of simbang gabi, and I'm keeping an eye peeled for a nice little belen to put in my room. We have no Christmas tree in our home, because there isn't space for it, but there's a big one in our building's lobby, so maybe that should suffice. My dad scoffs at any attempt of mine to adorn the door with a wreath--and I'm hoping it's more because he's tired of the commercialism boon come Christmas time than anything else...

Well the real point of this post is an article I'd like to share written by Michelle Martin from Hamilton, Ontario. It's good to remember that Christmas is a time to relive that story in Bethlehem and the great love behind it--and though it comes only once a year, we're not only called to do a little something extra this time, but all year round. :-)


The spirit of Christmas present

Ebenezer Scrooge can teach us that our best behaviour isn't only for special occasions.

When I was a girl, we drove up north every summer to spend a long vacation on my grandparents' farm. It seemed to take forever to get there (it was really only a 4 hour trip) and I would pass the time by noting all the familiar sights along the way. The billboard for Santa's Village (where you could visit Santa all year round) was near the halfway mark of our journey, so I was always pleased to see it though it struck even my ten year-old self as a silly business idea. These days we've all seen the "Christmas in July" marketing concept used to promote everything from parties to clearance sales.

What crass commercialism! How terribly secular! Tsk tsk–they've entirely missed the reason for the season. And yet, even though we'd never be so naive as to think that a retail advertising campaign was launched for altruistic reasons, could we learn something from the phrase "Christmas in July?"

My second oldest daughter looooves Christmas so much that as soon as Halloween is finished she starts playing Christmas music, just as they do at the local mall. As she was updating her playlist the other day, I asked her why she loves the Christmas season so. She said it was because people were nicer at Christmas time, and you see things during the season that you don't see the rest of the year, like the young mom waiting at a bus stop last December who sang carols unselfconsciously to her baby. She went on: the food is good, people dress up, there's a lot of visiting and the house is cleaner than ever.

Though I was pleased to note that none of her reasons revolved around shopping, I must admit I felt a little sheepish hearing her list. As I looked at my untidy living room and faded jeans, thought of the unspectacular dinner planned for that evening and tried to recall the last time we had company I began to feel we could use a little Christmas in July– and November, and April...

As for the "everyone's nicer at Christmas" part, let's look to Ebenezer Scrooge to learn that our best behaviour isn't only for special occasions. It's evident that in learning how to keep Christmas properly, he also learned to keep the other 364 days of the year well. We know from Dickens' description of his most famous character's conversion that "He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world."

How do we bring that spirit of Christmas every day into our own homes? Of course it doesn't mean serving stuffed turkey and four different vegetables on a school night any more than Scrooge's change of heart meant that he sent the biggest turkey in the shop over to the Cratchit house daily (what an inconvenience that would pose for Mrs. Cratchit on a regular working day).But we can take a little extra care over the preparation of a weeknight meal, make sure everyone sticks to their manners, and invite someone to join us at table a little more often.

We can smile more, and sing to our little ones, even in public, even in February! We can phone and talk to family and friends, or send a handwritten note. We can make sure we don't forget about the local food bank outside of holidays. We can set time aside to pray with our children and talk to them about Jesus every day, even after the nativity set has been packed away again.

In short, we can live our day to day lives with the serenity of those who know why Christmas is important– that it celebrates the Incarnation of Our Lord, who won for us salvation. Then we will truly bring joy to the world– all year round.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Context, context

I've been pondering on a question a friend asked me (about sex education), so I asked around--asked officemates, friends, even people on a live TV talk show--to find the truth (and most of all, what is effective and helpful to society) regarding the matter. And so far, I've collected some good answers that I'd like to share here.

1. We do need sex education, but it should be in the proper context.
The term they use is "age appropriate," but is it, really? From Grade 5 to high school, the youth should be focusing on honing their talents, finding their path and what they want to do when they grow up. This alone keeps their hands full already.

Sex education that focuses on contraceptive use, no matter how many times you stress that it's age appropriate, is a step in the wrong direction. Because here is sex presented as mere recreation, to be enjoyed "responsibly" (huh?). Worse, it includes a bonus lesson on the contraceptive mentality.

Hence, the question is not about the sex education being age appropriate, but rather whether it integrates sexuality with the whole person. Consider dignity. Consider respect. Consider character. Consider love and true responsibility--which brings me to the next point:

2. Responsibility is not about popping pills.
It's easy to think that married couples are being responsible when they take pains to ensure they don't get pregnant because they're not ready to care for another child at the moment. But is it really being responsible? Why does responsibility entail having to put the woman's health at risk? Is the body made to be subject to the dictation of a contraceptive?

Real responsibility calls us to understand how our body works (the way Mother Nature has programmed it), and live with these natural laws and limitations. Thus it is not responsible to subject one's body to a funny drug just so sex can be done any time--as mentioned earlier, sex is not mere recreation.

3. There are things that parents alone could teach.
Parents and teachers must work hand in hand to raise useful citizens of the country. Take sex education in the context of a classroom. There's one teacher trying to get inside at least thirty active minds and hopefully instill in them proper values and attitudes. Do you think the teacher has time to teach "reproductive health" and be sure all the while that the students get the point?

Hence, sex education that should be placed in the hands of the teacher is not quite sex education, but character education. That is, teaching responsibility, prudence, respect for others, valuing good health, and putting energies into proper and useful outlets.

Parents, who know their children personally, and can figure out the best way of approaching the subject, can focus on a more family-centered take on the said topic. Now, it is a fact that not all parents take the trouble to talk about sex with their kids--it's not an easy topic to discuss after all. But teaching kids about sex is still a part of parenting--and this responsibility must not be taken away from the parents.

There are seminars being offered for parents on how to instill the proper notion of sexuality in their children, and parents can attend these if they feel they need a little help on the matter. But the best way to teach it is to live it--show the kids how mom and dad treat each other, respect each other. Very early in life, kids will see the difference between femininity and masculinity, and how these differences are nonetheless harmonious. They'll see the love between their parents, and from there how this love grows into family.

Sex education is not about contraceptives at all, if you think about it, so why keep pushing the matter as if our youth would be lost without contraceptive knowledge?

I don't see what's so dangerous about teaching the youth a more person-centered version of sex education. Contraceptives are not part of the natural scheme of things anyway, why promote them further by lauding their extraordinary use in classrooms? They already have enough marketing from the pharmaceutical companies. Let them pay for their own advertising; taxpayer's money should be put to better use.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today is a mystery

"The secular man paradoxically kills the unborn and produces test tube babies. He seeks to lengthen the life expectancy but at the same time cuts short the life of the elderly. He cracks his head trying to find a cure for AIDS, but spreads it by doling out condoms. His right hand breaks the family by divorce, yet his left puts together same-sex couples. He cannot afford to have many kids but he lavishes money on pets and animal rights."
Henry Bocala
excerpt from his book, Arise and Walk

What happens now?

Everyone knows by now that the US already has a president-elect, and many are happy about it. I'm not a US citizen so I don't have a say on it.

However, I do admit I'm feeling a bit shifty about Obama's stand on life. Here's a news clipping from LifeSiteNews.


Obama to Enforce Taxpayer-Funded Embryo Research, Abortion Abroad by Executive Order

By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 10, 2008 (LifeSiteNews. com) - Upon entry into the Oval Office in January, President-Elect Obama intends to sweep the new administration clean of President Bush's pro-life policies by executive order. The president-elect intends to reverse trademark Bush-era policies including the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell (ESC) research, and the ban on funding for overseas family-planning programs that offer or promote abortions.

John Podesta, Obama's administration chief, told the Associated Press that Obama will act quickly through executive order because he thinks Obama "feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set."

A top transition official told the Washington Post that Obama and his team are consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize the revamping of presidential policy that "they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive."

Out of a list of about 200 Bush administration policies under scrutiny, the ban on federal funding for ESC research was the first policy mentioned in the Post article.

In August 2001, Bush restricted government funding to research using already existing embryonic stem cell lines and prohibited any funding for the development of new embryonic stem cell lines, which would require the destruction of more living human embryos. President Bush had expressed his absolute refusal to consider expanding research to new lines of embryos and risk "crossing a fundamental moral line by providing taxpayer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos."

President-Elect Obama has steadily held the line in favor of embryo research as part of his radically anti-life agenda.

In Catholic Online opinion column, Deacon Keith Fournier lamented that "with the stroke of a pen human embryos would become property, capable of being 'manufactured' like a commodity, and available to be used as spare parts in experimentation which has produced no discernible scientific results."

The Obama administration also plans to dispense with a ban on taxpayer funding for overseas aid promoting or offering abortion, known as the Mexico City Policy. President Reagan instituted the policy in 1984, which was repealed by President Clinton in 1993 before being reinstituted in 2001 by President Bush.

Also, under President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), health workers are trained to emphasize abstinence and marital fidelity as the most effective ways to combat the spread of AIDS - another policy the Obama administration is likely to dispense with.

Regarding such policies, Susan F. Wood, co-chairman of Obama's advisory committee for women's health, said, "We have been going in the wrong direction and we need to turn it around and be promoting prevention and family-planning services,'' according to

Bloomberg reports that, while supporters of Obama's policies call such training "naive and dangerous," the executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association in Washington, Valerie Huber, says that considering the "demonstrable success" of abstinence training in Africa, "it would be more than unfortunate if that policy was changed."

"I don't think many dreamed that this 'change' would mean taking taxpayer dollars to fund abortion around the world," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition.

Mahoney called the projected policy overhaul "tragic, a betrayal of social justice and human rights."

"Pro-life and faith groups warned that if Sen. Obama were elected president, he would be the most radical pro-abortion president in American history," he continued.

"And now we are less than one week away from the elections, and he is already proposing to take taxpayer dollars - our money - to use it to promote abortions around the world."

"This exhibit, this extreme desire to see abortion proliferated and increased around the globe - we are going to do everything in our power to stop this from happening," said Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, who warned that "this is just the first step" in Obama's radical policies against life.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Baby in November!

Our November issue is out! On the cover is pretty Gavin Megan N. Dimaano, captured by Oly Ruiz of Metrophotography.

Since our theme this month is Babies with Special Needs, the issue is loaded with helpful pointers on getting early intervention and inspiring features on families with children who have special needs. Get to know Yvette Tomacruz, Lilibeth Tan, and Jop Hernandez, three moms who have learned that their capacity to love and their reserves of strength are bottomless when it comes to family!

There are also very helpful articles on what to do when one is confined in bed because of pregnancy, how hubby can help in the first 3 months of their baby's arrival, early intervention for babies with Down syndrome, and, because it's almost Christmas, there are some mall-safety tips and a Christmas gift guide for families!

Baby magazine is published by Marathon Publishing Co. and is sold at all SM Department stores (baby section), National Bookstores, Babyland (Robinsons Galleria, Shaw Blvd. near Cherry Foodarama, Virra Mall, Baby & Co. (The Podium and Power Plant Mall), Bufini, Procreation Shangri-la mall, Big & Small Co. Shangri-la Mall.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

C'mon, think!

As the online debates about the RH bill (HB 5043) mushroom all over, I notice that people look at the anti-RH side as a mob of lemmings who merely blindly follow what Church leaders are saying. But truth is, all of the people against RH whom I know are actually those who are reading between the lines of what this bill is about. The Church has her reasons for opposing the bill, but if you think outside the box--try not to consider the Church stance--you'll see there's much about the bill that isn't quite right.

I blame the "lemming" idea partly on the media because it's so easy to take a bishop's stance and paint a clown face on it that we forget ordinary people can sincerely feel the same way about this issue.

The disadvantages of contraceptives aside, the biggest problem with the bill is its goal of "controlling population" when overpopulation is not even a real issue. Here's a snippet of an article by Emmanuel Amador from the publication Love Life ["Does Population Growth really exacerbate poverty?" Vol. 1 No.1] that might help one understand why population control is not the way to go:

Although it is true that, in general, a bigger population can consume more resources than a smaller one, people do more than merely consume. They also produce, just as manufacturing does.

In addition, high population density allows for mass markets, greater interaction, more efficient distribution of services, and economies of scale. Growing populations can also mean growing markets and increased innovation. It's no wonder that persons are generally acknowledged as a nation's most valuable resource.

If population density and population growth contribute to productivity in such important ways, why then should these be singled out as something to be minimized while other productive "contributing factors" [to poverty] aren't?

More importantly, why should the government spend millions on trying to minimize a productive "contributing factor" when there are other greater contributing factors that are not productive at all? Numerous surveys, for example, have shown that the economic situation in the Philippines (and in many other countries) is adversely affected by massive government graft and corruption, draining anywhere from 30% to 70% of tax revenues and government funds, depending on which survey you look at. Shouldn't efforts be focused on eliminating this proven "contributing factor" instead?

Population control is a poor solution to the problem of poverty simply because by cutting down on people we're crippling industry and economics--after all our best resource is people. If you limit the births now, in 50 years our population will be "top heavy" or aging. There will be more old people to support through pensions than there are people to work and pay the taxes that answer for these pensions.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Grrrreat greedy guts!, for comic books, actually.

Here's a series of comic books that I discovered in my school library back in those "lib rat" days. I was particularly fond of Herge's Tintin books because I liked putting the covers together, arranging them side by side and feeling like a museum curator. Of course it took a few more years before I began to appreciate what was in the books--but that's beside the point.

Tintin is a young (very young, actually, about 16 years old) journalist who gets into these very cool adventures (but never seems to be doing any writing!). Sometimes he's simply going on a voyage with his friends, other times, he tries to solve some mysteries and crimes. But all the time, he gets into all sorts of tangles that he manages to ease out of--this character has so many things to put in his resume and/or travelogue, and he hasn't even passed his teens yet!

The other characters are all lovable also: Snowy, the smart aleck (but loyal) white dog, Captain Haddock, the alcoholic and sarcastic sailor who curses a lot (without actually using a real swear word, come to think of it), Thomson and Thompson, police officers who get everything mixed up, even themselves.

I like the books for the fun adventures, the characters and the humor (which is mostly slapstick, though sometimes it is more of satire than slapstick, like on the scene where Tintin first meets one of his friends-for-keeps, General Alcazar).

I don't have all of the comics (though to get my hands on them would be nice!), but I still do recommend them because they're fun and educational (Herge researched a lot--after getting inspired with The Cigars of the Pharaoh--or so Wiki says).

Go pick up an Adventures of Tintin for a fast-paced, humorous, and exciting read! While you're at it, here's a trivia question you might want answer: Which Tintin adventure did the phrase on my title come from? No prize...except an affirmation that you're a book geek! teehee!

Happy Weekend all!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Why I despise Birth Control" by GK Chesterton

I want to share this excerpt from G.K. Chesterton's The Well and the Shallows. More insights on that thing called "birth-prevention." His insight on the importance of children is especially worth taking note of. :-)


I hope it is not a secret arrogance to say that I do not think I am exceptionally arrogant; or if I were, my religion would prevent me from being proud of my pride. Nevertheless, for those of such a philosophy, there is a very terrible temptation to intellectual pride, in the welter of wordy and worthless philosophies that surround us today. Yet there are not many things that move me to anything like a personal contempt. I do not feel any contempt for an atheist, who is often a man limited and constrained by his own logic to a very sad simplification. I do not feel any contempt for a Bolshevist, who is a man driven to the same negative simplification by a revolt against very positive wrongs. But there is one type of person for whom I feel what I can only call contempt. And that is the popular propagandist of what he or she absurdly describes as Birth-Control.

I despise Birth-Control first because it is a weak and wobbly and cowardly word. It is also an entirely meaningless word; and is used so as to curry favour even with those who would at first recoil from its real meaning. The proceeding these quack doctors recommend does not control any birth. It only makes sure that there shall never be any birth to control. It cannot for instance, determine sex, or even make any selection in the style of the pseudo-science of Eugenics. Normal people can only act so as to produce birth; and these people can only act so as to prevent birth. But these people know perfectly well as I do that the very word Birth-Prevention would strike a chill into the public, the instant it was blazoned on headlines, or proclaimed on platforms, or scattered in advertisements like any other quack medicine. They dare not call it by its name, because its name is very bad advertising. Therefore they use a conventional and unmeaning word, which may make the quack medicine sound more innocuous.

Second, I despise Birth-Control because it is a weak and wobbly and cowardly thing. It is not even a step along the muddy road they call Eugenics; it is a flat refusal to take the first and most obvious step along the road of Eugenics. Once grant that their philosophy is right, and their course of action is obvious; and they dare not take it; they dare not even declare it. If there is no authority in things which Christendom has called moral, because their origins were mystical, then they are clearly free to ignore all the difference between animals and men; and treat men as we treat animals. They need not palter with the stale and timid compromise and convention called Birth-Control. Nobody applies it to the cat. The obvious course for Eugenists is to act towards babies as they act towards kittens. Let all the babies be born; and then let us drown those we do not like. I cannot see any objection to it; except the moral or mystical sort of objection that we advance against Birth-Prevention. And that would be real and even reasonable Eugenics; for we could then select the best, or at least the healthiest, and sacrifice what are called the unfit. By the weak compromise of Birth-Prevention, we are very probably sacrificing the fit and only producing the unfit. The births we prevent may be the births of the best and most beautiful children; those we allow, the weakest or worst. Indeed, it is probable; for the habit discourages the early parentage of young and vigorous people; and lets them put off the experience to later years, mostly from mercenary motives. Until I see a real pioneer and progressive leader coming out with a good, bold, scientific programme for drowning babies, I will not join the movement.

But there is a third reason for my contempt, much deeper and therefore more difficult to express; in which is rooted all my reasons for being anything I am or attempt to be; and above all, for being a Distributist. Perhaps the nearest to a description of it is to say this: that my contempt boils over into bad behaviour when I hear the common suggestion that a birth is avoided because people want to be "free" to go to the cinema or buy a gramophone or a loud-speaker. What makes me want to walk over such people like doormats is that they use the word "free." By every act of that sort they chain themselves to the most servile and mechanical system yet tolerated by men. The cinema is a machine for unrolling certain regular patterns called pictures; expressing the most vulgar millionaires' notion of the taste of the most vulgar millions. The gramophone is a machine for recording such tunes as certain shops and other organisations choose to sell. The wireless is better; but even that is marked by the modern mark of all three; the impotence of the receptive party. The amateur cannot challenge the actor; the householder will find it vain to go and shout into the gramophone; the mob cannot pelt the modern speaker, especially when he is a loud-speaker. It is all a central mechanism giving out to men exactly what their masters think they should have.

Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and which they freely agree to protect. They can feel that any amusement he gives (which is often considerable) really comes from him and from them and from nobody else. He has been born without the intervention of any master or lord. He is a creation and a contribution; he is their own creative contribution to creation. He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or jingling jazz tunes turned out by the machines. When men no longer feel that he is so, they have lost the appreciation of primary things, and therefore all sense of proportion about the world. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures, to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life. They are preferring the last, crooked, indirect, borrowed, repeated and exhausted things of our dying Capitalist civilisation, to the reality which is the only rejuvenation of all civilisation. It is they who are hugging the chains of their old slavery; it is the child who is ready for the new world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Think about it.

Quick post: I'm going to be unoriginal here because my head is throbbing. So here's a comment I left in this post, in reply to somebody (not the blogger, just one commenter) who posted that there's nothing wrong with the sex education classes that would begin at grade 5 and continue on all the way through high school. Teachers, I hope you're reading.


This is the lesson plan that State will implement when HB5043 is signed into law:

1. Reproductive health and sexual rights
2. Reproductive health care and services
3. Attitudes, beliefs and values on sexual development, sexual behaviour and sexual health
4. Proscription and hazards of abortion and management of post-abortion complications

5. Responsible parenthood
6. Use and application of natural and modern family planning to promote reproductive health, achieve desired family size and prevent unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies
7. Abstinence before marriage
8. Prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other STIs/STDs, prostate cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer and other gynecological disorders
9. Responsible sexuality
10. Maternal, peri-natal and post-natal education, care and services


I just wonder, now that these topics will be taught to grade school students, what the implications are. Sure there is abstinence before marriage, but it's also coupled with prevention of STDs. The lessons don't jibe at all. Because if you really meant to instill in the youth the value of saving sex for marriage, you wouldn't need to teach them how to use a condom.

Also, what do they mean when they say reproductive health? Do we take the definition from the Cairo and Beijing conferences? If that's the case, then the course outline is meant to condition the mind of the youth to be open to abortion, nevermind lesson #4.

And sexual rights: maybe this needs an explicit definition as well. (Does it mean we have the right to have sex with anybody? Does the lesson plan cover why that's not a good idea? Where is the lesson on love being more than just sex? Where is the self-giving aspect of sex? Will these not be covered?)

It's easy to think that when one is well equipped with contraceptive information, and makes a decision regarding the matter, one is being responsible. But is it really what responsibility is? To take the sexual act when you want it? Will that make better people of our youth?

Put these lessons within the context of the permissiveness in the media and pop culture. Now, teens on TV are having sex also. Will the lessons then, allow them to realize how special sex is, or will it simply let them think that sex is casual, after all there are contraceptives to assure that no baby results from it.

Just some of my thoughts!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dressing well

Yung regalo, lalo na kung precious, you won't leave just lying around anywhere. And you'll make sure it's wrapped well. Kung bale wala lang sa 'yo, papabayaan mo lang kahit itapon-tapon or something. It's the same with oneself.

Thanks, sunnyday, for the wonderful analogy!

It makes sense that one should dress appropriately when one goes out--because you want people to take you seriously. Dressing well (that is, keeping secret parts, er, secret) instantly expresses how a woman regards herself and the people around her. Like a precious gift, as sunnyday says above, the body must be carefully wrapped and nicely presented.

Dressing well works two ways: 1) it helps the person wearing the clothes express who she is and how she wants to be treated, and 2) it influences the mindset of other people she meets throughout the day.

The way society treats a woman is greatly influenced by how she invites them to treat her. See those billboards along EDSA that depict women in underwear and nothing else? They're not there because men want them up there; they're up there because women allow it.

Our standards have fallen gradually every year--they inch down so slowly that hardly anyone notices. Only when one looks back to ten, twenty years ago that one notices that "we were so uptight back then." Now, modesty in clothing is equated with words like "baduy," "manang" and "losyang," when there's truly nothing wrong with it.

Here's a snippet I picked up from Modestly Yours--this one written by blogger Allison Josephs--about nudity for art's sake. I think it has a good insight on why women should be vigilant about how they present themselves in general:

Like the artists of the world, I believe that the human body is a beautiful thing. However, just because something is beautiful doesn't mean it needs to be shared with everyone. Under the guise of art, we've been led to believe that you can separate a body from a person. That you can appreciate the form itself while ignoring the essence contained within it. But body and soul are inseparable. And when a body is revealed in such a complete way, not everyone will cherish the soul that comes with it.

I hope more women realize how much they can change by just picking the right clothes from the department store.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You've got a Harvard education, but where is your heart?

That line was said by George Gulden (played by William Hurt) in the movie One True Thing. I like this movie a lot (there are great performances by Renee Zellweger [as Ellen] and Meryl Streep [as Kate])! One True Thing actually comes from a novel of the same title, written by Anna Quindlen.

This is about family--and the main character, Ellen, is torn between starting her career as a journalist and staying home to care for her mother Kate (who has cancer).

As Ellen takes after her dad (in the way that she's more analytic, calm and scholarly), spending a lot of time with her mother is quite a drastic change of pace. For one, she gets thrown into the fray of her mother's activities (cheering up a depressed friend by driving all the way to Canada, cooking up lunch for the ladies), and for another, she learns more about her parents--that they're not perfect and have faults--and it makes her the better for it.

It's the kind of story that shows how much you learn from living--sure, getting a college degree is important if you want to land a job, but it's in understanding who the people around you really are--and still loving them--that makes a big difference. It is more difficult to do, but it also brings out a lot of good in a person: there's character to be strengthened--or if you start from scratch--built.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

There's no space for "unwanted" in scientific terms

Photo by Lennart Nilsson. Source.

A biology lesson that traces the path of an egg cell from the ovary, down the fallopian tube, and into the uterus shows that females are wired to release an egg cell monthly in the hopes of becoming fertilized by a sperm cell, which would only find its way in the fallopian tube (where fertilization usually takes place) when sexual intercourse (the marital act) has been done. This means that when an egg cell is fertilized, then the ovulation (and preparations the female body made) was a success--a pregnancy, achieved!

Sometimes, scientific terms can put things into perspective quite clearly...after all, science aims to understand how nature works. (The best of science involves understanding the laws of nature and working with--and according to--these laws.) And here, science tells us that, when pregnancy happens, nature just did what it was meant to do. Pregnancy is a GOOD THING.

This is the problem I find in the mentality that contraceptives breed. One, it treats pregnancy like it's some kind of disease (the irony there is that to cure this particular "disease," a certain "medicine" is prescribed to make the body think it is already pregnant--that's what the pill does--so, is the cure for malaria some kooky prescription that will make the body think it already has malaria?).

Two, we suddenly find the term "unwanted" glued to the word "pregnancy." This is unfair to the babies who didn't do anything wrong at all. :-(

Three, because pregnancy is now deemed a "bad result," who is on the losing end? In the 60s feminist revolution, they thought contraceptives would be good for women because now they are "sexually liberated." But with all the things a woman has to insert (inject, ingest...) in her body, it's her body that takes the toll in the end. There's nothing liberating about having to take a pill everyday. Not to mention if one takes the pill to keep a relationship going. It's not beneficial to women at all.

Lastly, contraceptives don't make room for good relationships, let alone marriage, family, and responsible parenthood. They're all interrelated, one aspect determines the condition of the other. No wonder introducing contraceptives to society creates more problems than it solves.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Petition against RH Bill

Got this link through a friend, who got it from Pro-Life Philippines. Go here to sign the petition and say NO to the RH Bill.


To the Philippine Congress:

We strongly oppose the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill (HB4110) for the following reasons:

1. AS EMPLOYERS, we don't want to be compelled to provide free reproductive health care services, supplies, devices and surgical procedures (including vasectomy and ligation) to our employees, and be subjected to both imprisonment and/or a fine, for every time that we fail to comply. (Section 17 states that employers shall provide for free delivery of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices to all workers more particularly women workers. Definition of Reproductive Health and Rights Section 4, paragraph g, Section 21, Paragraph c and Section 22 on Penalties)

2. AS HEALTH CARE SERVICE PROVIDERS, we don't want to be subjected to imprisonment and/or a fine, if we fail to provide reproductive health care services such as giving information on family planning methods and providing services like ligation and vasectomy, regardless of the patient's civil status, gender, religion or age (Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Paragraphs 1 to 5 and Section 22 on Penalties)

3. AS SPOUSES, we don't agree that our husband or wife can undergo a ligation or vasectomy without our consent or knowledge. (Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Paragraph 2)

4. AS PARENTS, we don't agree that children from age 10 to 17 should be taught their sexual rights and the means to have a satisfying and "safe" sex life as part of their school curriculum. (Section 12 on Reproductive Health Education and Section 4 Definition of Family Planning and Productive Health, Paragraph b, c and d)

5. AS CITIZENS, we don't want to be subjected to imprisonment and/or pay a fine, for expressing an opinion against any provision of this law, if such expression of opinion is interpreted as constituting "malicious disinformation" (Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Paragraph f and Section 22 on Penalties)

6. We also oppose other provisions such as losing our parental authority over a minor child who was raped and found pregnant (Section 21, a, no.3)

7. We also don't agree to the provision which reclassifies contraceptives as essential medicines (Section 10) and appropriating limited government funds to reproductive services instead of basic services (Section 23)

Thus, we urge you to immediately stop deliberations on the bill and stop wasting taxpayers money.

The Undersigned

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oktoberfest (though not about beer)

October is the birthday month of Baby Magazine! That explains why every October, our magazine's theme is festive:

(That's SM Star Baby Winner Madielyn Jhen Tan Daughtry on the cover, taken by The Picture Company.)

The October issue is one meaty read, especially for parents who are planning for their child's birthday! We had so much fun planning, preparing, shooting and writing this issue--and one of the most memorable experiences was when we went to the house of Robert and Gia Leon to shoot the pretend-mini-preparations for their middle child Mikee's birthday. We made birthday banners, banderitas, party food trays--colorful and festive party stuff that won't put a hole on the pocket. Needless to say, all five kids--Raffie, Regina, Mikee, Mari and Marti--had a swell time with the crafts and balloons.

There's also a feature about Samahan ng mga Papetir ng Pilipinas, which I covered. Children's theater is being overlooked now that there are so many other high-tech gadgets to entertain today's kids. Puppetry is a different kind of entertainment--and it inspires creativity in so many different ways! SPP had a puppetry festival last August, and that's the first time all the Filipino puppeteers got together for one event. Let's hope for more events like this!

Of course there's the usual dose of helpful parenting stuff! Baby magazine is published by Marathon Publishing Co. and is sold at all SM Department stores (baby section), National Bookstores, Babyland (Robinsons Galleria, Shaw Blvd. near Cherry Foodarama, Virra Mall, Baby & Co. (The Podium and Power Plant Mall), Bufini, Procreation Shangri-la mall, Big & Small Co. Shangri-la Mall.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Parasol, paraguas

Raining like crazy again and it got me thinking about umbrella etiquette. You know how there's only a strip of sidewalk and then there are so many people trying to share it without pushing anybody off the walk and onto the road (or worse, the "river")? With umbrellas in tow, how do people go from point A to B without poking somebody in the eye?

(Here in the Philippines, these occasions happen twice as often because we use umbrellas for the rain and the sun.)

I don't know what rules people follow regarding umbrellas, but I have some ideas on how to breeze through a storm without upsetting the people I come across:

1. When the person you're passing is taller, lower your umbrella.
2. When shorter, raise it.
3. Waiting in line for a ride? Watch where you tilt your umbrella; it could be dripping on somebody's back pack.
4. Open the umbrella where no one is standing.
5. When closing the umbrella in a shade, watch where you shake it; you could be wetting somebody's feet.
6. Upon entering a jeep, close the umbrella and make it as small as possible quickly; then keep it between your feet throughout the ride. If you have a plastic bag, put umbrella there.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Witches

(That's Angelica Houston as The Grand High Witch, after she put her face back on.) Caught this 1990 movie in HBO yesterday--it was one of my favorite movies when I was a child because the witches were so grotesque, their magic so intriguing and their dislike for children so unnatural, and of course the grandma was cool and the boy Luke turned into a cute little mouse (what more could a kid ask for?).

The Witches is about a little boy who ran into a witches' convention (disguised ironically as a "Convention of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children"). If the witches kept their wigs, faces, gloves and shoes on, they'd look like the average nice lady you meet on the street. So basically, what sets them apart is their "mission" to destroy all the children. They hate the smell of clean children. They have a rabid dislike for all children, and come to think of it, maybe that is what makes them, er, witches.

Some women may not be fond of kids, but they wouldn't want to eliminate kids. Because they know that eventually, kids grow up, and if you guide them well, they'll grow up to be perfectly sensible adults. These witches, on the other hand, just plain want to get rid of kids, forgetting that kids should eventually replace adults in twenty years or so. Without these kids, there will be no one to fill schools (like what's happening in Japan), and later, offices. No one will become parents who will bring forth a new generation of kids...and so on and so forth.

The movie directed by Nicolas Roeg is produced by Jim Henson (genius!) and based on the book by Roald Dahl (another genius!). If you haven't seen it yet...where have you been?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The last time I tried my hand at making Filipino delicacies from scratch was back in grade school (one was a rainbow pichi pichi and the other a blob of ube that we had to add blue-violet coloring to because it wasn't purple enough). So this is hardly a book I'd pick up, but pick it up I did, and I'm glad to have done so.

Published by Tahanan Books, Tamales Day! by Didith Tan Rodrigo with pictures by Arnel Mirasol is a simply worded story about a family who make preparations for a certain "tamales day" on the first Saturday of December. It starts with the family going to the market for some ingredients, continues on to the cooking process and ends in their celebrating with friends an relatives in a salu-salo.

The illustrations are intresting because of the detail and texture the artist adds to his watercolor (or watercolor pencils?). It's easy to assume the story to be old-fashioned, but if you look beyond the house dress (duster), the banana leaves, the rice pounder (lusong) and the wooden shoes (bakya), you'll see something that makes this book worth putting in a child's hands: in the story, the kids are given tasks to do; but with the help of the pictures, you see how happy they are to do them!

Today, service is easily looked upon as something "not for me to do." But doing chores--doing your part as a member of the household--is a very dignified job, and a good way to affirm that you are part of the home and you want to make it clean, hospitable and beautiful for those other people you share it with. Love is best expressed through action; and one action that is obviously the work of love is service.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Read it, know it

Yeah, yeah, no time to scan. (That's me holding the issue and Ditas in the background--amidst the happy mess that is our office.) But here's the September issue, which means more Baby goodness! Our theme for this month is "Your baby's first year" so you can expect more baby-related articles. We made quite a lot of visual changes so the magazine is now more pleasing to the eye.

See that chinky-eyed cutie on the cover? His name is Jaden Mariano. The photographer for this shoot was Bobot Go. We really think he's a handsome young'un. We look forward to featuring more babies that show the diversity of cuteness in our beautiful country! teehee!

Do take some time to read the Preconceived Notions article on contraceptives by Denice Nillas-Price. While so much hype is being planted on the overpopulation and poverty issue to boost artificial family planning initiatives, one wonders why none of the ill effects of these "medicines" ever see print. TV, radio and print media rely heavily on advertisements, and with artificial family planning companies setting aside huge budgets for advertising, it's no surprise these little bits of inefficiencies are never made known to readers who deserve to know all...especially with things they're told to put in their own body.

Hopefully, this issue helps parents be vigilant in the management of their home and in raising happy and healthy families. Enjoy reading!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Back to the good ol' play things

Got my hands on May Tobias-Papa's new children's book called Araw sa Palengke. I like it so much, because the story is simple yet insightful and the illustrations by Pepper Roxas are just so adorable!

Kids who find joy in a little lutu-lutuan (kitchenware) are the rare species nowadays. So many "high-tech" and "educational" toys out there have replaced the good old play things.

How much do parents spend on talking dolls, virtual pets and hand held games? Sometimes, the amount you spend doesn't necessarily translate to as many hours of learning and fun. While a lutu-lutuan can encourage a child to make-believe--and who knows how many recipes can come out of a little earthenware pot?

I used to play with a lutu-lutuan myself. My aunt bought me an aluminum set, in which I cooked many dishes in great amounts of imaginary salt, sugar, and meat tenderizer--plus real water. (That set must have rusted....)

There was another cookery set that was more crude in was composed of a metal grill over real live coal (outside the house!). We cooked some real meat on that; we raided the spice rack and used everything that claimed it "complemented meat." I don't remember if we ate the end product. If ever we did, we didn't get stomach upsets--I would remember an event like that, ehe.

In the province with my cousins we played lutu-lutuan using assorted bowls and a mortar and pestle set. We used big flat leaves as the main dish, crushing them to a pulp and mixing them in water. Then we picked some calamansi fruit and squeezed the juice into the mix. Green sour soup, anyone?

Come to think of it, things like these are much more interesting to recount and recall. (What joy is there in recalling how you beat your highest score in Tetris?) Let kids have stories like these to tell when they grow up. Unlike high-tech toys, they don't need extra batteries, and memories they make are much more colorful.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sending roses

It's almost 3 months since I took up the Rosary again and resolved to make it a daily habit, finally ditching my unreliable "when I feel like it" habit. And so far, I'm happy about the daily 15-minute break.

When I was a kid I used to imagine that for every Hail Mary I said in the Rosary, a little angel would bring a rose to Mary. If I said the prayer too fast, the angel would hurry, and the rose's petals would fall off because of the speed (angels can be very fast). If anything, this little story helped me say the Rosary with care.

EDIT: Apparently, my sister knows this story. Maybe somebody told it to us before.

Recently, I found this blog piece with insights on the Rosary. Worth a look. :-)

Book fair! O yeh...

September is the month for the 29th Manila International Book Fair! Woot! Time for folks to get back to reading (if you put those books down anyway).

Here's the link to the official book fair page. (Just a warning, the page is BRIGHT RED.)

Fast facts:

29th Manila International Book Fair
September 12-16 2008
10:00am to 8:00pm
Halls 1-4 SMX Convention Center
Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City

See you there!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The awesome power of Elizabeth and Jessica

I used to be a library rat, one of those kids who would eat their lunch in 15 minutes so that the rest of the lunch hour could be spent in the company of books in the school library. I remember choosing books by the cuteness of the illustrations alone (the more cartoon-y and silly the better). As I read more, I found I gravitated towards the thicker books, and before I realized I was doing it, I was plucking out familiar serial books from the shelves, thinking that this book must be good because I liked another one by the same author.

Most serial books (read: Sweet Valley) are pooh-poohed by the highbrow lit crowd because they're populated by flat and typical characters, don't offer much of a conflict and demand so little thinking from the reader. But what these highbrow dudes are missing is the (awesome) ability of these books to initiate kids into reading.

Kids have favorite authors because they like picking favorites. I picked up a Sweet Valley because there was a cat on the cover. From then on, any spine with a Francine Pascal written on it jumped out at me from the shelf. Kids also know a good book when they finally get their hands on one, and this is when the wonderful world of reading starts to inspire them.

The first Beverly Cleary book I read was Dear Mr. Henshaw, and I read only a chapter of it, because it was in my school textbook. I liked it a lot that I looked for it in the library and read the whole thing. I wasn't disappointed; in fact, this was the first time I got the itch to write.

Recently, I've been reading and re-reading this book by Catherine Woolley called, plainly enough, Writing for Children. I bought it because a teacher once said that to write, any writing how-to book helps, so get one. And true enough, it has helped me, at least, by forcing me to decide, once and for all, what kind of children's story I want to write.

In a section entitled "Favorite Authors" Woolley writes: A child's favorite author is the one whose books he or she has come to love and eagerly look forward to, and if that author switches to an entirely different sort of story the child reader may put the library book back on the shelf in disappointment, turn away, and look for another favorite author.

I don't think I've grown out of the favorite author phase. In fact, I think I'm collecting favorite authors! I keep dropping by bargain bookstores and bookfairs for the reason that there's a series I've been dying to complete. It only means I'll be hunting for a long time, because I also keep finding new series to begin collecting wherever I go...

...and that sums up the whole awesome power of bookshelf dust bunnies like Sweet Valley.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Illustration from Indexed

Overpopulation is being touted as a "major problem" nowadays and, to solve it, people in office propose contraceptives (and by default, anything that follows...). I can't help thinking it's the easy solution to things: to solve poverty, blame it on overpopulation, then propose a bill that puts contraceptives under "essential medicine" (Section 10 of proposed RH Bill) to make it look like you're doing something about it.

(If you watch Demographic Winter, you'll see that not only is there no population explosion, but also that there's actually a population implosion. We're all getting old without people taking our places. So, looking at the illustration above, how sure are we that the future will be crowded?)

I read an article in the Inquirer's Opinion section, this one by Michael Tan, who is a well-known anthropologist. He focuses on the concern on family size, and gives reasons why big families were an advantage in a farming society but not in today's setup. The concern he brings up is how family size (read: large families) affect the country in a bad way. Quote:

What I find missing in many of the local discussions around optimum family size is the almost total lack of reference to “collective costs” for the community, if not the entire nation. The dominant view is still: “If a couple can afford to have 10 children, by all means, let them have 10 children.” A long-term view of a sustainable environment thinks of what those 10 children might mean not just for the couple but for the country, now and in the future. Politicians are beginning to recognize this, realizing that there will never be enough resources for a constituency with a large young population, and the gaps are growing all too rapidly.

This brings to mind the ecology term "carrying capacity" which refers to how much of a certain population a place can support. Which, I might add, refers only to animal population.

True, humans affect the environment: our misuse of the natural resources depletes them faster than nature can replace them. But aren't we gifted with reason to resolve these problems? Is cutting down on people (abortion and contraception are for cutting down on people) the only solution?

Of course not.

What's being overlooked in the whole overcrowding business is our ability to improve our understanding of the world around us and adjust our lifestyle accordingly. Collectively speaking, that means we won't just pollute and pollute our neighborhood; we'll organize a brigade to put our trash away properly and effectively. Isn't that the beauty of our unique ability to reason?

This is the solution: to use that reasoning. Cutting down on people is just the lazy thing to do. Not to mention the selfish thing, too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

TV ad scripts...

Maybe I'm putting too much meaning to it, but lately some TV ads are sending out grains of thought that have set off my mental alarm system. Here's one quote from a popular beauty brand:

It doesn't matter if you're 40, just as long as you look 30!

So, does that mean it's wrong to look 40 at 40? What went wrong with looking your age? This is exactly the reason people are never happy for who they are: because they waste so much stamina in worrying about how they look.

Here's another one from a food brand:

Bawal magsinungaling.... Hindi masama ang instant noodles.
(It's wrong to lie.... Instant noodles aren't bad for you.)

Why, that's a lie already! The ad then elaborates that the noodles no longer have artificial preservatives, and that's what makes it so healthy. But it completely overlooks the fact that instant noodles are unhealthy because of the high salt content, which is known to aggravate heart problems like hypertension.

Unintentional? Perhaps. But when you're trying to sell stuff, all tricks seem fair. As a consumer, one must always be careful. To put it bluntly, beware of brainwashing.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Nothing's wrong with Miss Piggy

I recently caught this 2006 fairytale film Penelope starring Christina Ricci and James McAvoy, and despite the bad reviews I found online, I like it. Sure, it's a mishmash of "picture book" and contemporary London, and the accents are confused, but those things don't matter because this is a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Penelope's impediment doesn't really make her look bad. Perhaps it's her being sheltered too long that causes the shocked reactions. But her mom, played by Catherine O'Hara, makes that difficult for her--possibly out of the shame of bearing a baby with a snout. (Whatever happened to "the face that only a mother will love"?)

Penelope's escape paved a way for her to be seen by the public...and of course they accepted her (but let's not discount the "because she's a freak" reason). The irony in the tale is that what breaks the curse is not marriage to somebody from an equally snobby family, but Penelope's acceptance of herself. It didn't come easy because of the influence of a mother who only cared about the superficial.

This mindset is the problem that the movie makes a caricature of. Because the true funny face of the movie is not Penelope's, but the addiction to looks that overlooks what matters most: the human being.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A poem to read sends a monthly newsletter and in the latest one (which found its way in my SPAM folder for reasons I somewhat understand) there's a poem by Malcolm Alexander called Beginner's Lessons. I like it, so I wanna share it here.

You must know: I'm not big on poetry, but some poems pass through the sieve and get through to me. (I suppose I appreciate them better when I don't feel I have scrutinize or explain what they mean.) Without further ado:

Beginner's Lessons
by Malcolm Alexander

If you wish to be wealthy, duck beneath
the topcoat of a well-dressed river
until you come up with a mossy boot
filled with shiners. Spend them wisely.

To tread lightly on the earth,
first breathe in and out slowly
to sense how oxygen walks barefoot,
then observe butterflies, so weightless
even our poetry burdens them.

Avoid mistaking sadness for blueberries,
but if this happens remember only one
of the two tastes like a somersault.

Make nothing more of the moon
than what it is, a great big pebble
hunting for a shoe, not to be confused
with the heart, likewise a vagabond.

Inside of every stray cat lurks a person
who discarded love. Remember this
when you bend over to wind them up.

If you feel compelled to fly a flag,
note how it struggles in vain to be a rainbow
and how envy will make it twist and flap
like a tongue. Consider instead a kite.

If you desire to reach heaven,
have your body buried in an aspen grove.
In time, all of you will wick up
into a loud version of it.

If the din of the human world overwhelms you,
trace the voicebox of an orchid with your finger.
When you get to the aria, listen.
But beware, for beauty can be a lacewing
or a meteor, and lands wherever it pleases.

When you finish reading a poem,
bend it around so you can see
yourself in it. Then laugh out loud.
Everything else now should come easy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

August is Breastfeeding Month

One of the things I remember about putting together the August issue is the word "breastfeeding." It got so overused that I could type it while wearing a blindfold and not make a single mistake (this is a big thing, considering I never learned to type properly).

Almost all our articles in here has something to do with breastfeeding--who knew we could cover so many stories on one topic? Not only is breastfeeding healthy for the mother and the child, it also encourages so many women to do something for their community.

For my story "It takes a village" I found out just how many moms go out of their comfort zone to spread the word about breastfeeding. They donate milk, wet-nurse, counsel, and get their husbands to willingly support their advocacy. Ines Fernandez of Arugaan even created (of course with the help of other Arugaan moms) a daycare--called a Creche--so that mothers could be taught to care and nurture their babies in the most natural way possible.

On a more glamorous angle, we also covered moms who make breastfeeding in public a more modest affair. Stylish nursing wear, nursing bibs and baby slings allow mothers to breastfeed discreetly--the blouses have secret holes in them so moms could feed their baby without fumbling.

Here's a sample of the 6-page fashion spread we put together. Our Editor-in-Chief Diana Uichanco got the idea of putting models against a cartoon background from a fashion spread of a magazine she used to read...but of course, we worked hard to make it better than the original (which was no easy feat!). As one of our mommy models put it, it's so easy to read but it takes so long to put together!

Our photographer for this is Harvey Tapan. The three brands we featured are Bosom Buddy, Blissful Babes and Procreation. The one who did the illustrated backgrounds is Natasha Bautista, my talented sister!

I learned so many things in this issue, and I hope many moms would too. The cover baby, by the way, is Anya Dominique R. Bautista, who is smiling for photographer George Cabig's camera.

Baby Magazine is published by Marathon Publishing, Inc., and is available in National Bookstore and SM Baby Co. stores nationwide. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

From the Rebel Without a Clue

Found Patricia Evangelista's Rebel Without a Clue column wanting last Sunday, and yes it took a lot of digestion before I figured it's time to write a reaction--and the sooner the better, too.

The column talks about the Reproductive Health Bill that the Church and Pro-Life groups are fighting against. Of course, the pushers of this bill assert that it is anti-abortion; they propose contraceptives and artificial family planning as solutions for overpopulation. As Evangelista writes: The reproductive health bill currently being debated in Congress is adamantly anti-abortion, and seeks to provide citizens with the means to access contraceptives and the necessary information to prevent—and not terminate—pregnancy.

So, sure, the bill tries to solve the illegal abortion problem--and at the same time overpopulation too--by making contraceptives available. Simple solution, right?

Er, not exactly. When you think about what contraception encourages, do you actually think abortions would decrease? Contraception is not perfect (not to mention it is bad for the health in more cases than one). More likely, it will increase abortions. (As to overpopulation, it's a myth!)

Actually, it's easy to forget that the pro-life fight involves more than abortion: it's because the pro-life movement is more vocal about abortion--the pre-born cannot defend themselves. But fighting for life entails fighting against a bigger adversary. Along with abortion, you're saying no to everything that goes against life--and that includes the mindset promoted by pro-abortion groups: "It's ok as long as you don't get pregnant."

Evangelista wonders why contraception is wrong, after all, she points out, it's not killing: It demands great logical leaps to call a condom a murder weapon. It presumes that a sperm and an egg that haven’t yet made acquaintance are essentially living human beings. Following the Church’s logic, anything that prevents the creation of a child is wholesale murder. It allows several rather startling conclusions, which includes the punishment of millions of murderous adolescent boys the world over for masturbation, and the sanctioning of fertile married couples who themselves decide not to have children. It also makes the Church itself responsible for encouraging the wholesale genocide of millions of possible citizens by promoting natural family planning after marriage. The goal of the rhythm method, after all, and all other methods taught in Catholic high schools, is the prevention of unwanted births during marriage.

I agree that the sperm and the egg by themselves are not a human being. However, to accuse the Church of believing that killing sperm- and egg-cells is "wholesale murder" is taking it too far. Contraception is fought against for very good reasons. As for the rhythm method, also known as Natural Family Planning-Responsible Parenting (NFP-RP), its goal is not to prevent conception but to teach couples how to be responsible parents. How? Without artificial implements to keep pregnancy from occurring, the husband and wife engage in the marital act knowing that they have the capability to procreate, and with that knowledge, they agree they'll raise the child if they are gifted with one.

Wow this has gotten heavy! I just wanted to clarify some stuff.

If you finish reading the article, you'll see that the columnist eventually criticizes the president, but she gets to this only after making the Church look like an irrational extremist. I've met Patricia Evangelista in class; she's smart and a good writer. But this piece would not be the best she's ever written. :-(