To My Best Pal, Who Had Set Her Soul for a Short Departure

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mygeorge

To my beloved Georgina/Jorge,

Two to three weeks flew fast forward from the day of your departure; and ever since I received the text message regarding your short burial, my world — for some instances — had been cased around an inexplicable amount of despair. My family had undergone a state of mourning, and seemingly, Marco, your dearest companion and partner, was not eating a lot for days, and yet  — once upon a time — both of you were classically conditioned to automatically be hungry as soon as you hear the sound of pots and of plastic bags. But you know what? The arriving semester will soon create a larger, inevitable doom, but I do not anymore have that ‘special someone’ whom I can talk with regarding Pokemon and Naruto episodes that I missed and whom I can express rants about my incompetence in school and about my crush who never noticed me. Ouch.

You knew how embarrassed and furious I was when a friend of mine showed me a picture of a guinea pig being experimented for medical purposes. You knew about the night when I barely had enough sleep because of  pictures of specially deep-fried and marinated-then-roasted guinea pigs that were kept to flash before my vision. For me, it was a nightmare, and I thought, “What if either Marco or Jorge are about to be cooked? Well, I would not mind grilling the cook or chef alive instead!”

The family bullied you for having red eyes — one of which turned blind for unknown reasons. I once regretted for not having brought you to a vet, but, to hell with it, why did you not heed to my advice that ‘you mustn’t use Sharingan too much to avoid side effects’?

You witnessed the moments when we were watching Marco and you having this ‘sacred union’ but such will be interrupted because you would notice us peeking. We always wished for a baby to be born, but you never became pregnant. We waited for countless months, but when we all grew tired of waiting, my only consolation to myself was: “Maybe she’s a lesbian.”

I will forever cherish the days I had you in my arms — afraid to let you go, the days we took a bath together and you were trying to flee out of the bucket of water because you felt so cold even though we were gravely plagued by the heat of summer, and the days when I would not bother walking distances to find something for your dinner.

There were moments when I would be mad at you because you were sometimes attempting to fully destroy the boxes that my father had exerted with full effort for it to remain as your sanctuary. I would also be mad at you because of myriad of other petty reasons, i.e. peeing on my face. But despite that, I love you. I love you, along with Marco and Brownie, more than any other animals — or maybe anything — in this world, that I would wish for us to stay together as friends, probably for a lifetime. But sadly and annoyingly, cute rodents have indeed shorter lifespan than greedy politicians and capitalists. Pssh.

I know that this message I am demanding to deliver is by now too late. I regret for not having to be by your side during your last hours. Or maybe, you would not permit me to do so, because you knew that I hate witnessing sudden departures.

But before I finally say my farewell to you, there is this memory that I am sure I would never forget: the very first time you set your feet on the soil and ran around the whole garden by the countryside, as if you were enjoying the first breath of freedom after my father lifted you out from your little, beautiful cage. In that particular moment, I felt so proud when I saw you running as fast as you could and stashing yourself between the rich foliage, as if you want us to play hide-and-seek with you. And as I think of it, relief comes back into my senses, because finally, you experienced the life outside the comfort of four corners during your last days.

And perhaps, this is the time to let you go.

I love you, Georgina. As always.

 

Your proud guinea pig pal,

Josue/Sueju Takeshi


Short Note: My buddy and I never took selfies together. There were several times when I captured photos of her, but the memory card of my cellphone containing such photos was corrupted, and I did not have anymore chance(s) to recover the files. So, I am thanking Guinea Pig Cages for posting this photo on Internet, because this guinea pig indeed resembles my dear Jorge. More power to your blog!

First Post Challenge: “Luisita’s Motherhood”

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Michelle of Book Chat counted me as the sixth nominee of this first blog post challenge (even though the original maximum number of nominees is only five)! My first post is entitled Luisita’s Motherhood — a featurette (short feature article) that seeks to find the similarity of a typical mother to Hacienda Luisita and that calls for people to act as soon as possible and defend those who are marginalized and oppressed, such as the farmers. This is my first post, because my experience in that large parcel of land is unique, for my visit there is my very first Basic Masses Integration — a usual part of our semestral requirements in my degree program — and because I knew by the fact that going there is one of those moments in my life in which I never had any regrets.

Sad Note: A week after our visit at the Hacienda Luisita, I received a piece of news, reporting that several barrios/barangays, including those that our NSTP class had visited, were bulldozed and the locals were driven and chased out of their lands, which helped sustain their livelihood for decades. This is, apparently, because of the greed of the landlords, who never really wanted to distribute the land to the farmers, despite the PH Supreme Court ruling.

Luisita’s Motherhood

Luisita is a rich mother. She is a woman bestowed by Nature a power, a power to nurture tiny seeds until they all grow roots to courageously stand up, taking pride of their fresh, green leaves against the sun of Central Luzon. She provides her children an advantage to harvest tons of sugar canes, rice, and corn for the feeding of their hungry stomachs. She bathes with the irrigation from a nearby dam or with the calmly flowing water from the river that rages during a storm. She likes catching the rain even during a plaguing summer, giving her grandchildren the opportunity to play with and appreciate a common yet great blessing from the skies. She wants the heart of her land to be distributed to her children.

Luisita is indeed a lighthearted mother. She could be seen patiently waiting along the main road leading to the expressway, welcoming her beloved visitors with her breath of hope, which touches their skins with soft, blissful wind. When these people drop off from their vehicles, she would let them stare at her in open-mouthed wonder and snap photos of her. Oftentimes most of her visitors are students, but she is never bothered of their disturbing laughter. In fact, she would laugh with them too, though she couldn’t be heard. With her grandsons and granddaughters who naively ask you, “Where is U.P.? Is that a school?” she would request their parents to be the foster parents of these students and tell them stories of her happiness and struggle.

But Luisita became an enraged and depressed mother. She is a slave of the elites and the President’s family in Tarlac. She never hides behind tall grasses because she wishes for her soil to be inherited and cultivated by her poor children and grandchildren. She doesn’t recognize the dirt at the corners of her shirt and wields banners and placards instead of guns and swords. Like other women, she was abused and hurt; and her rights were overlooked. Her children were driven out of their place with huge bulldozers so she was even more saddled.

But her children won’t leave her side and are willing to fight for her. And she wishes that her once young visitors will come again to hear her cheerful stories.

Let’s then fight for her.


Here are the rules:

  • Copy-paste, link, pingback or whatever way you want to, your first post.
  • State what type of post that was. G. Introduction, Story, Poem
  • Explain why that was your first post.
  • Nominate 5 other bloggers. Five because I know the pain of opening a lot of tabs at once.

My five nominees are:

1. Random Writings on the Bathroom Wall

2. Margaret Mathews

3. Beautiful Life with Cancer

4. Surrendering My Shield

5. Power Plant Men

On Fantines, railroads, and perished dreams

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This essay was published as the runner up of the recently concluded online essay writing contest, Imagining My Future,  hosted by Kendii, in partnership with The Immigrant Entrepreneur.  If you wish, you may check my essay at Kendii’s site, through this link: Imagining My Future.

Every morning, by the time sunlight shines and enters my eyes, I am constantly reminded of how exhausted I was the day before, while struggling over the pain cycling within my arms and my knees, as if I did a lengthy fitness routine for hours. Every time I ride the train leading to the university, thoughts of failing constantly reign over my head, while trying to recall the main points of the political and economic books I read over the past weekend.

But then, while I was contemplating about my academic fate and about my social responsibilities, my mp3 player began transmitting a popular jazz tone through my earphones. It was ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ of Les Miserables musical playing all over again; then I harassed the replay button and sang the famous song despite the noisy, torrid environment inside the train. Even if the other commuters were either merely observing or were already judging me, I did not halt my singing, because, for me, that moment was, but destined to release all my negative feelings.

When I pushed the magnetic ticket towards the tiny hole of the ticket gate and pursued a short, successful exit from a 10-minute worth of hell, I recalled Fantine in that particular scene — alone and depressed, wearing rugged clothes, starving and ailing — delivering powerful stanzas with her lungs out, as if that moment could be her last to decry all the curses the world had cost her.

Moreover, at that very moment, I pitied her fate and began rethinking about mine. I began thinking about what had brought me to acquiring great dreams and taking the railroad that is full of inevitable obstacles. This long road, soon, has led me to higher expectations as I conquer each level of serious challenges and eventually, to more paths of reality and uncertainty.

Years before my high school graduation, I cited a variety of careers I wished to make as effective ways to prosper, beginning from public health research or civil engineering to business administration and accountancy; but changes in the course of time also paved way for my advancement in other areas, such as mathematics and literature. I even wrote in our Class Prophecy, which was published at our school’s commencement exercises souvenir program, that I will be a Bangkok-based landscape photographer someday!

But sadly, annoyingly, and unfortunately, in the end, when I decided to choose UP Manila to be a political science major, my ‘dreams’  dashed away in a cold instant. All my desires to solve math and physics problems all my life abruptly perished; and when my first try for love failed, I gave up capturing photons and stopped turning them to high-quality masterpieces.

My first semester in UP flew by; and my only consolation for not landing over my preferred study track was the strong fact that I am studying in the country’s premier state university. The prestige kept me within the rooms of happiness, but when winds of second semester entered swiftly like a thief, I am not anymore satisfied with whatever I was studying. And as I spent sitting on the same wooden chair day by day, my desire to shift to another degree program —and even to transfer to another campus — bloomed, after which I tried to garner the grades necessary to fulfill my aim.

But little did I realize that my almost two years of stay in the university had been instrumental for me to visualize my future self and that the people around me had been supporting me for whatever I truly desire. My degree program and my university indeed had been my inspiration to spark change in the society I currently live in. I remember that sometimes, my friends ask me, “When will you be transferring to BS Math or BS Biology?” but I most of the time respond with only either a nod or a smile. Whenever I feel the hardships of life, I remember how the farmers of Hacienda Luisita fight for their rights to land ownership, despite the fear that has been haunting them for decades. Whenever I feel oppressed, I remember the Aeta children of Mabalacat, Pampanga, who welcomed our medical mission-team with open arms, without the thought that we might be just another line of oppressors, preparing to take everything that they have, including their identity. Whenever I feel sick due to the sickening environment inside and outside the campus, I remember the dying patients, whose voices are seldom heard, inside the Philippine General Hospital, and the ailing children and elderly, who travel distances to reach health centers or hospitals, residing at the country’s far-flung areas.

Thus, after several series of realizations, I became more determined to finish this undertaking. I began planning to enter medical school, to practice community medicine upon graduation, and to finally serve my fellowmen.

But, what if one day, I would be like Fantine whose dream never came true? What if everything would be just a dream – a dream never fulfilled? What if every challenge I encounter along the road would soon lead to my downfall?

Sometimes, I pray to God that I do not want to suffer the same fate Fantine had experienced. Perhaps, I may sometimes feel ostracized because of the career path I chose, but I know someone out there is willing to help me out whenever I ought to surrender. The tuition and other fees in medical school are probably high, but now, I am studying very hard to maintain the grade necessary to obtain a scholarship. The road towards my graduation and entrance to medical school may be tough, but I am determined to do my very best, because the true of state of our nation serves as a calling for me to serve the under-served and represent those who are often neglected by the government.

Perhaps, people around me may never be proud or contented for my choices that are divergent from theirs, but I hope that in the near or far future, all of our hearts will soon converge, like the railroads of a train terminal, in pursuit of a common, beneficial goal.

I hope that someday, Fantines can no longer be found on the streets and begging for alms and sympathy of the passers-by. I envision a world that is unified in curing the diseases of our society, in raising the discourse, and in building better relationships for all people, regardless of our countless differences.

 

Suicide

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“When things get really tough I can tell myself that I always have an ‘Out’ even if I don’t choose to take it – for me, this is enough to keep me fighting because I feel I have options rather than being lost down a path I can see no escape from.”
I love the optimism of this author’s post, and I really love the statement I just quoted. I remember that I was once suicidal, but after all the experiences and tribulations I went through, I became a much happier, healthier and more open person that I was six to seven years ago. It took me long to realize that I am indeed my own inner strength.

This article is really inspirational, and I hope everyone having suicidal thoughts could have the chance to read this!

12 Reasons Everyone Needs A Sarcastic Best Friend

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I am a proud to be a sarcastic best friend!

Thought Catalog

FriendsFriends

1. Nothing is off limits for you to joke about

A sarcastic BFF reminds you to find the humor in…everything. Even things you’d be totally terrified to joke about with other people. Your BFF says something completely horrible and likely to cause a Twitter war if it ever leaked, but with a little dose of sarcasm? It suddenly seems not only palatable, but god damn hilarious. It’s not uncommon for the two of you to say, “Hey, we’re going to Hell, but we’re going together!”

2. They give you endearing pet names

Like “I hate you” or “please just go away!!” But seriously, you know every time they call you a bitch it’s a codeword for “very important person in my life and I’m hashtag blessed to have you.” *heart flutters*

3. They help put things in perspective

When you’re freaking out over WHAT THIS TEXT MESSAGE COULD MEAN?!?!…

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I can’t write, but…

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I can’t write, but….

I Am Malala- Malala Yousafzai

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Malala is younger than me, but such fact never hindered me to idolize her. She deserves all the recognition she had received. I hope this young woman would someday lead the United Nations line up of messengers of peace!

AUTHORS PROMOTION

This world we live in is a bizarre environment as we try to keep our strength but we fight the windmills in endless adventures. We destroyed real courage to face challenges. We worry all the time saying that anyway is not in our power to change things.Sometimes we meet providential people, people who transform collective fears in heroes. This kind of  people are invincible, unstoppable and unforgettable.
Malala Yousafzai’s book – “I Am Malala” is a disturbing story, full of drama and hard lessons of life.
In 2014, Malala and Indian Kailash Satyarthi, a defender of children’s rights were Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Malala being the youngest person in history that was awarded.Malala-Yousafzai
Malala was only ten when the Taliban had come to control most of Pakistan, including Swat province, where her family lived. Had been banned music and television, restricted human rights and closed schools for girls. Fear had…

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Basic Masses Integration & Medical Mission in an Aeta Community

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AETA

I remember these children of sandy environment of Mabalacat, Pampanga and their facial beams whenever they sing Yeng Constantino’s “Ikaw” and their idol Lyca Gaironod’s own rendition of songs. I remember their loud laughter whenever we commit errors in pronouncing the words inherent to their dialect and whenever I give explanations for asking me why I am called “Dora”. I remember them responding in an open-mouthed wonder whenever a stethoscope is being placed above their chests, while wishing to hear the beating of their own hearts.
They were never hesitant to show their hospitality and trust; they never thought that we might be just another line of oppressors or the right hand men of the capitalists or of the landlords, who, in a cold instant, may take away everything that they have, including their identity.
I am afraid that one day, they might lose their mountainous paradise or perhaps take flight to the lowlands, because of the present development aggression in the area.
I am afraid that one day, these children’s shy smiles will soon dash away like dying stars, due to the continuous oppression inflicting our Aeta brothers and sisters.

Resist development aggression! Stop ethnocide! Defend the right to self-determination!

What is spoken word?

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What is spoken word?.

77 seconds remaining

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I used the Philippine Eagle's flight in some passages to relate it to how a Filipino student's journey to the fulfillment of his dreams.

I actually used the “bird’s flight” as a general reference to the Philippine Monkey- Eating Eagle’s (the national bird) flight in some passages to relate it to a Filipino student’s journey to the fulfillment of his dreams. Photo Copyright 2012 by Nigge as seen at Cynthia Galang’s report at www. gambassa. com

This article was published three years ago under the features page of our high school campus publication, News Gear, where I served as a sports editor and photojournalist.  

 

77 seconds

Tick tock tick

77 seconds

And my heart beats again …

 

“Fly.” she said. I did not understand.

And then she repeated, “Fly.”

It was not until I reached this age that I understood such word. The word I never realized would be so essential in my journey towards my dream, a dream I never knew how it started and how it will end.

And that simple three-lettered word crossed my mind in each and every hour, until it branched out to other words. I accidentally peeped at my wristwatch and found myself in a room full of wall clocks. Afterwards, I mindlessly entered a portal emerged between those clocks searing with blinding light.

 

77 seconds

Tick tock tick

77 seconds

Tell them what I meant to tell you.

 

Four years indeed. I was once a young bird living in this sanctuary, ready to leave until such time draws near.

Yes, I am a bird and no one could ever stop me from flying. And this place became my home with its keepers as my mentors. Here, I nested and felt myself in company with others. I was neither caged nor chained; I flew straight to my goal. But the barriers around limited my sought-after freedom.

Exhausted, I glided back down to the keeper.

I quietly placed myself in a corner, and then he gave me water to drink, noting in a sad tone, “In one minute and seventeen seconds, you may now say goodbye to your comrades.”

He again spoke and opened the gates. Tears began streaming from the very corners of my eyes as he handsigned me to leave.

And out from nowhere, I flew and flew, until arrived to a certain place beyond the horizon.

I was in my fourth year in high school when I took this photo of first to fourth year students who filed up on the school quadrangle before the principal as a punishment for their tardiness.

I was in my fourth year in high school when I took this photo of first to fourth year students who filed up on the school quadrangle before the principal as a punishment for their tardiness.

At one point in our lives, we would realize that this particular sanctuary was the school we belong to, in which the keepers are the teachers who continue in nourishing us with knowledge and proper values until we are ready to be set free and be independent like an eagle proudly and confidently soaring and spreading its wings above the endless morning sky.

Outside this institution, there are many possibilities. There are new challenges awaiting for us to face with bravery. And the real world is far different from what we see today in our own, immature perspectives: it is indeed a war of principles and a stronghold of failures. But here, we were trained to overcome those storms and firmly stand up for what is right.

Life is indeed full of uncertainties. We won’t even know when the sun will set for us. But I am holding on to this truth: every time the sun will rise, there is a creation of a new dream, a dream that God has promised us to fulfill.

 

77 seconds

Tick tock tick

77 seconds

And tomorrow begins.

 

This institution had been our breeding ground and sanctuary for four years. We, students, are the ones who inhabit in it.

There are times when we crammed for a project or an examination. Some had been naughty and had cut classes. We always learn from our experiences. And those experiences will help ourselves in the future. And all of us will succeed together in a journey bounded by friendship and love.

What will happen tomorrow? I honestly do not know. God never gave us the ability to predict what will happen in the future. And all I knew is that I once studied and failed. But my dream was never crushed.

I now understand what she meant with what she said. Now I understand.

 

Never stop dreaming

Until you reach there

 

Sueju Takeshi 武

The 13th UP – Finnish Global Health Course: Day Two

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The fact that I would be away again from my family bolted into my head the moment I woke up. I wondered if there was a littlest reason for me to leave, but then I threw all the remaining pretexts I had towards the trash bin.IMG_0346

My first morning in Morong, Rizal was surprisingly chilly, giving me a very hard time to get up. I smelled my breath as the worst in my entire life; to top that was a straight line of dried saliva plaguing its host’s beloved face. The feeling was horrifying, as well embarrassing, because I had to keep up with my behavior every time, because I was dwelling in a room for boys.

As I jumped towards the shower room, the water almost killed me as it dropped my temperature down. Even singing my most favorite song I heard last night through the radio couldn’t hide the soft brrrrr I uttered every time the soap hit my skin.

IMG_0371After eating our delicious breakfast, I quickly drove my feet upstairs, to the seminar room. Group 1 gave a short recap of what we did the preceding day, including attending a lecture at the Department of Health. Afterwards, our ears and eyes opened to hear and watch their funny cheer.

The first one to deliver the almost two-hour talk was Dr. Ramon Paterno, a faculty of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine. His presentations were entitled “Global Health Situation” and “Philippine Health Situation.”IMG_0376

In his Powerpoint slides, he was able to “define what global health was and describe the global health situation, trends and major issues.” He also emphasized the importance of health equity, which was defined as “the absence of differences in health that are not only unnecessary and avoidable, but also unfair and unjust” (Whitehead, n.d.)

Right in the middle of the discussion, he showed us a video by Rosling, entitled 200 Years that Changed the World. The presenter stressed that before 1810, all countries, including Great Britain and the United States, wereIMG_0384 in the sick and poor quadrant. However, it was important to note that during the 19th century, the first world countries’ income improvement had also improved the state of health among their people, and it was evident even during the first wave of the Industrial Revolution. Moreover, despite the good news that such created a great, positive impact to public health, public health practitioners cite differences in incomes between states, regions, and countries could be an indicator of health inequity, as people in poor areas would always find a hard time getting proper medical attention and much worse, the medicines to prolong their lives, because such services are costly and cannot be afforded by most of the sick marginalized.IMG_0423

The worst thing that was happening nowadays, as he stressed, was that financial institutions such as the World Bank, influences formulation of health policies, leading to privatization of public hospitals and creation of companies offering health insurances. This, moreover, heavies the burden of poor Filipinos.

He also discussed to us the current Philippine Health Situation. Health as a most basic right was emphasized by the 1987 Philippine Constitution, but it seemed to be violated by those in government position through the legislation and execution of bogus programs, adding to the sad fact that 6 out of 10 Filipinos die without medical assistance or without even seeing a doctor. Poor Filipinos also tend to forego consultation in order to be able to buy medicines and because, also, of non-availability of drugs collageand long distance of health facilities from their homes.

Dr. Buching ended up his talk by equating the Philippine Health human resource crisis to global health human resource crisis and by restating the issues that he aforementioned.

Dr. Gene Nisperos stirred up the atmosphere of supposedly hungry people (in my perspective) as he introduced his lecture, The Socio-Economic-Political Framework and How It Affects People’s Health, with a nerve-breaking, yet clever and funny icebreaker. The challenge was that he will give us a group of words written in metacards, and we will arrange them such that we can make a meaningful story out of them. Hilarity ensued as my group chose me to present our (or so to speak, my) story in front of everyone. What happened next? My own graceful humiliation.

Anyway, in Dr. Gene’s talk, he told us how global and Philippine politics intervene with the state of public health in our country. For instance, the Philippine Health system is patterned after that from the US (specialty-oriented, hospital-based, higher wage for private practice and even the medical education curriculum). In terms of economic aspect, the three principles (liberalization, deregulation & privatization) being promoted by World Bank, International Monetary Fund & World Trade Organization (the three evil institutions) led to privatization of hospitals and health services and to monopoly of health care services.

The social roots of the current state of public health was also tackled, as the Universal Health Coverage (aka social health insurance) promoted AGAIN by the World Bank (really record-breaking, huh) resulted to establishment of private companies jeopardizing the rights of common people to health. Moreover, we can deduce that the people’s mindset nowadays towards medicine is curative rather than preventive & is doctor-centric.

He also discussed how culture and value systems affect one’s perspective towards achieving good health. For example, the Church influences us to decide whether an action is moral or not. The said institution (especially the Roman Catholic) is still against the Reproductive Health Law, which, on the negative side, will delay the prevention of the spread of HIV-AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), of the increasing mortality rate of pregnant women, and ultimately, of povertyIMG_0504.

The afternoon session commenced as soon as we finished eating our lunch. This time, the first speaker was Dr. Anthony Cordero, one of indeed wittiest doctors around. His lecture was entitled The Primary Health Care and Rights Based Approach to Health, in which he allowed our minds to review the basic tenets of Primary Health Care and reiterate its relevance. He asserted that everyone, especially health professionals, must believe in the principles clearly indicated in the Alma Ata Declaration, co-sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and emerged  during the International Conference on Primary Health Care held at Alma Ata, Union Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in September 6-12, 1978. Moreover, he defined Primary Health Care as “a value system or approach rooted to Alma Ata Declaration” and “a type of medical care one may receive by first point of contact”. Lastly, Doc Ants devoted the last minute for his lecture, remarking that health is multifactorial.

The next part, Analyzing Why We Cannot Go beyond Self and Family: Building the Concept of Nationhood was facilitated by Dr. Elizabeth Paterno, Doc Buching’s wife, instead of Dr. Michael Tan who did not make it to the event. In her short session, we were able to analyze the historical roots of our subservience to foreign interests and dictates. It was appalling to know too, that our concept of nationalism affects how we view health as a fundamental right.

Covering up again for Dr. Tan’s absence, Doc Ants assumed the role of the speaker for the presentation entitled, Gender, Culture & Sexuality. In such lecture, Doc Ants defined current concepts on gender and sexuality, including reproductive IMG_0534health and promoted the cultural and gender sensitivity in development work.

After eating dinner, we climbed back upstairs again to watch the film, Inside Job, which pinpoints the key explanations behind the great US recession by mid-2007 and its effects to the global economy. After which, before sleeping in the Men’s Dormitory, I had a short laugh trip with the boys, so I concluded that my second day in Morong was really blissful and interactive.


Photo Credits to Ms. Pholyn Balahadia, GHC student facilitator.

interactive.

The 13th UP – Finnish Global Health Course: Day One

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Last January 5-11, 2015, I attended the 13th University of the Philippines Global Health Course at Bahay Silungan, Morong, Rizal, Philippines. It was sponsored by the University of the Philippines College of Medicine’s (UPCM) Community-Oriented Medical Education (COME) Unit and Social Medicine Unit (SMU) and by the Peoples’ Health Movement – Philippines and was also generously funded by the University of Tampere’s Duodecim – Finnish Medical Society. The course was intended to educate health sciences students about the issues affecting the local, national, and global health, and to equip us, student-leaders, with essential skills which we can use as we go back to our respective universities.

The program commenced with the Welcome Ceremonies in the morning of January 5 at the Alvior Hall, College of Medicine, led by the officials of UP Manila and UPCM. Despite most facilitators being medical doctors, they welcomed us who came from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) with open arms. The ambiance was so imperturbable that I never considered changing my decision to join, since I will be obliged to be away from my family for a week.

The following are the objectives of the course which I found very well attained:

  1. Describe the global health situation and issues that affect it.
  2. Analyze the country’s health situation in the context of the global health situation.
  3. Describe the different indicators used to monitor progress in national development and health.
  4. Describe and discuss factors that influence the way health is viewed and intrinsically shape the health landscape locally and globally.
  5. Identify basic skills in communication, advocacy and organizing.
  6. Describe the different strategies and efforts implemented in response to these issues.
  7. Formulate appropriate responses based on their local capacities

At the very beginning, I and my friend, Alex, thought that our actions might be restricted and that we will be forced to behave most of the time. But still, our mouths never stopped as we strolled down the Taft Avenue then to the Tayuman Road, in which the Department of Health (DOH) was situated.

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The speakers representing DOH’s Health Policy Development and Planning Bureau (HPDPB) delivered a lecture entitled “Introduction to the Philippine Health Situation and the Department of Health”. Such lecture provided us an overview of the Philippine health situation, including various issues and concerns affecting local, national and global health, as well as a brief overview of the DOH in the context of the national health system.

I was overwhelmed with the speakers talking about health statistics over and over again, and I was quite disappointed when they honestly told us the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 could never be fulfilled. I was also appalled to see the DOH framework or organizational structure, which is very susceptible to corruption and service delays.

2011-11-24_18-08_KP organogram.pdf_0

By 1PM, we left UPCM and traveled to Rizal. After eating snacks and settling down, Dr. Edelina Dela Paz introduced the participants and faculty facilitators and gathered the participants’ expectations. Dr. Melecia Velmonte, a retired faculty member of the UPCM and also the owner of the Bahay Silungan, gave the house rules. The participants were also divided into five groups for doing the recap and for solidarity night performance.

After dinner, we watched two short movies. The first one was Limang Libo, which narrates how the poor were ready to do whatever it takes just to have a ready cash payment for their beloved ones who were at the brink of death. On the other hand, Krusada: Ospital provided a brief overview of the Philippine Health Situation and had put more emphasis on the effects of privatization and medical insurances to common people.

I was assigned to sleep at the Men’s Dormitory. I wished to stay at the Ladies’ House, but I can’t, because everything might turn awkward. My first night in Morong was intimately quiet, and I spent the entire evening relishing the undertones of nature.

Self Defense

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Highly recommended post. Made me think to take Self Defense as my PE subject for next semester.

belsbror

When is the right time to defend yourself? Is it when your assailant already fired at you or stabbed at you and missed? Or, is it before any injury is inflicted on your person?

This morning I had a long conversation with someone who spent twelve years in prison. He defended his father from mortal injury. Unfortunately, he killed the attacker.

In his defense, he tried to pacify the attacker who wielded a long bladed knife but to no avail. He and his father would have died that day if he did not react. Himself wounded, he was forced by circumstances to stop the attacker at all cost.

I am a simple person with simple thoughts. However, when evil confronts me in the face, my simple logic stands at the forefront: I must defend myself with whatever means possible.

Methinks, people who intentionally plan and execute misdeeds should account for…

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Ways that We Can End The Cycle of Bullying

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When I give pieces of advice to my friends who often were bullied, I tell them to spend time in communicating with their inner selves.

talinorfali

Since I was a child up until High School, I was emotionally and mentally bullied and I know what it is like to be hurt so badly, being put down, always making fun of me because I was different then everyone else and it was the most toughest times of my life. I didn’t have friends, I didn’t have what others had when they were with each other in groups when I felt left out and being an outcast 99.9% of the time. They were moments that I will never forget, no matter if I have moved on or not. It sticks with you, however I have learned to live past it and began doing positive things in life, to move forward and to stop dwelling on the past. I have been taking a lot of new approaches to this matter and I am going to begin my own social…

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Spotlight on Women’s Rights Activist Malala Yousafzai

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I remember her with the documentary, “Girl Rising.” I had fervently prayed for her to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. She is really inspiring.
Check this out!

When Women Inspire

Malala Yousafzai first came to public attention in 2009 when she wrote a BBC diary about life in Swat Valley in Northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had banned girls from attending school. Her diary chronicled her desire to remain in education and for girls to have the chance to be educated.

She wrote it under a pseudonym, Gul Makai, the name of a heroine from a Pashtun folk tale. Three years later, in 2012, she was shot in the head and neck due to this, after her school bus was boarded by a member of the Taliban. Her recovery process began in Pakistan and continued in England, where she now lives with her family. Today, Malala is 17 years old.

Malala Yousafzai: Awards and Achievements

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My Fair Lady: A Movie Review

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my-fair-lady-dvd-cover-44My Fair Lady (1964)

Cast: Audrey Hepburn; Rex Harrison; Stanley Holloway; Wilfrid Hyde-White; Gladys Cooper; Jeremy Brett

Director: George Cukor

Synopsis: Rex Harrison, while playing the same character in this film’s Broadway counterpart, is introduced as an arrogant professor in phonetics, Henry Higgins, to Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller, who is being played by Audrey Hepburn. The story begins to unfold in London, Great Britain during the reign of King Edward VII, when Henry Higgins brags about his knowledge of the English language and emphasizes its relevance in determining one’s position in the social hierarchy. Meanwhile, Eliza Doolittle overhears this and later on offers herself to be the professor’s pupil.

Review: Before Hollywood lost George Cukor due to his untimely death in 1983 at the age of 83, the film My Fair Lady has been long considered as a masterpiece. Leading the cast and the crew, garnering eight Oscars in 1964 and three Golden Globes, the musical’s director proved this motion picture as timeless, since it subsequently inspired the production of later works. Cukor approached the film with multiple levels of depth that is, being able to turn to a piece that inspires change — a keen study of feminism. The portrayal of the story is quite slow-paced, which of course does not have any drawbacks because the length is reasonable enough to explain every scene. The restoration is marvelous, as exquisite as the high-class films that the Hollywood deemed necessary to be produced these days.

The Hepburn-Harrison chemistry is favorable, and their very good exchange of conversation exemplifies their nearly superb delivery of the script.

Hepburn’s role as Eliza Doolittle is plausible, because she is able to picture in the mind of the viewers how Eliza “murders the English language” and soon learns to speak it very well. She also shows at the near end how educated she has become, thanks to Professor Higgins, Colonel Pickering and Mrs. Pearce, for teaching her how to act as a lady. Meanwhile, Harrison’s effective landing with the same role as the Broadway counterpart means giving justice to the entire character development, that is, showing the ability to act out as somehow a kind of a real, brutish and misogynistic professor of phonetics.

Though the usual romantic-comedy stories end with a very predictable ending, the case does not obviously apply to My Fair Lady. One of the scenes that the viewers must see is the part when Eliza’s father, Alfred Doolittle, and his friends sang “Get Me to the Church on Time” as it represents a very good musical arrangement. The orchestra’s approach to the “Overture” gave a superb introduction to the film, leaving people having a certain feel of watching a Broadway show. The last song which is recommended to be played repeatedly in your audio devices is “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” because, though Nixon sings this part for Hepburn (who does the lip-sync), the voice is so clear and powerful, and apparently attractive to the ears. In addition, the Edwardian period sort of setting justifies the plot. The clothing choices are indeed appropriate, especially when Eliza Doolittle, Henry Higgins and Colonel Picking attended a ball.

Even though the ending is quite unfavorable for most viewers who aspire a happy and closed one, the film proves itself as legendary and worthy to be watched with your family and friends.

Okay? Okay.

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You’ve been given the opportunity to send one message to one person you wouldn’t normally have access to (for example: the President. Kim Kardashian. A coffee grower in Ethiopia). Who’s the person you choose, and what’s the message?

To John Green, from an avid fan of yours even before the dawn of the Fault in our Stars:

“Maybe okay will be our always.”
Probably everyone who gets to read this open letter knows this quote from your famous novel. Probably they, your readers, were also stuck in every scene described by your words, as if your readers were living in a moment where both Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster had lived.
Thank you for writing such a masterpiece.
Honestly, I have read the entire book three times already, but my tears never fail to gather in the corners of my eyes. I saw how cancer patients could perceive love despite the fact that they are ailing and are meant to die soon. And for that, I am constantly reminiscing my days with my old pal, especially those days when we began counting stars, perceiving them to be near, starting to dream about the future.
I pass through charity wards everyday, and whenever I tell the story of Augustus and Hazel, the patients, especially the teens, were amused. I can see their eyes blinking in amazement as they say, “What happened next?”
And for that, thank you for being an inspiration to other cancer patients around the globe — and this fact indeed makes me happy.
Maybe okay will be our always?
Yes. I’m willing my okay to be my always.

Sueju Takeshi

Nomination: Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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sisterhoodoftheworldbloggersawardBeing nominated in this award is one of the many moments when I almost fell down from my chair and burst out all the tea I was about to drink. I guess from the very beginning, Laura perhaps already sensed that I act more feminine than masculine (I am biologically male) and that I am gay. Cheers to her blog, Beginning Life at 43, for having installed powerful radars to sense my true sexuality! Anyway, since she still gave me the trophy and since I was still young, I intend to always defy rules, thanks to you Laura for this wonderful yet shocking nomination and for considering me as a sister!


 

So, to the blogs (of those legitimately female only to avoid further conflicts) I nominated for this award, these are your rules, if you choose to accept it.

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
2. Put the award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions I’ve asked you.
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Nominate ten people.


 

Here are Laura’s queries to me, which I prayed for a lot honest answers:

1. What does sisterhood mean to you, and have you always felt it?

Sisterhood is true friendship. I have a circle of friends whose members are all female, with me being the only exception.

2.Why do you blog, and what message is your blog trying to send?

I first created my blog to the sole purpose of dedicating this to my late bestfriend, Paul, who died shortly after his second cranial surgery to remove his brain tumor. When we were young, he always aspires to become a pilot someday and to command his first ever flight. From there, I realized what a true flight is — it is all about dreaming. I knew by heart that I won’t be able to continue his dream of becoming a pilot, but through this blog I would be able to fulfill his another dream — for me to be a novelist one day. However, when one dreams, he or she cannot fulfill his dream alone … that’s why in my header text, I wrote: “Come fly with me.” I am encouraging my fellow bloggers to dream with me, and I do hope that we will help one another through dropping motivating words to blogs.

3. If you could offer me any advice, on my blog, or my message what would it be? (Please be honest, truly).

Laura, I don’t know if I could really give a piece of advice for you, because I am nearly two decades younger than you are; therefore, you think much more maturely than me. I just hope that you stay beautiful inside and out, be a strong, modern woman, and stay as a good mother to your children. I know that like me, you also dream to becoming a writer, but I am reminding you that every flight has its own limits, and I wish you do recognize those limitations. Never stop dreaming, Laura!

4. What is one piece of advice you would give yourself if you could go back in time?

Move on.

5. Are you happy?  If not, do you know why? Or, what does happy mean to you?

I am, as usual, happy. Happiness starts with a spark, slowly turning out be a large energy creating laughter which is worthy to be shared to others as an incurable viral infection.

6. What do you do when you aren’t blogging?

I go to school and study. I also work as a part-time tutor.

7.What are your dreams for your future?

I dream to be a novelist and putting up my own restaurant.

8. What makes you unique?

I am myself, not anyone else’s.

9. What is one thing you think would make the world a better place?

Love, wouldn’t that be enough?

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a ringing brass gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and I know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I parcel out all my possessions, and if I hand over my body in order that I will be burned, but do not have love, it benefits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, it does not boast, it does not become conceited, it does not behave dishonorably, it is not selfish, it does not become angry, it does not keep a record of wrongs, it does not rejoice at unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will pass away. If there are tongues, they will cease. If there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but whenever the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I set aside the things of a child. For now we see through a mirror indirectly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know completely, just as I have also been completely known. And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13, LEB)

10. What would your Apocalypse look like, and who and what role would you play in it?

Laura, I don’t know what Apocalypse is. I truly regret not answering this.


 With the power bestowed upon me, I hereby nominate the following blogs for this award:

1. My Simple Life

2. Folakemi Odoaje

3.morethanjustmothers

4. Musings of a Soul Eclectic

5.dragonbolt54

6.shalilah2002

7.I Survived a Murder Attack — My Family Didn’t

8.Pixie Dust Beach

9.MicroGalactic

10.To Write With a Broken Pencil is Pointless

11. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

12.Alzheimer’s Wife

13.gut honest faith

14. 

15. Silver Threading


For those who are nominated, here are my questions for you:

1. As a woman, what is undoubtedly your true basis of beauty?

2. What are the things that always drive you mad?

3. Are you an advocate of feminism? Why or why not?

4. Have you done something you really regret? What is it and why do you regret doing it?

5. What if you will be the first ever woman to live on Mars, and you will be paid for millions or billions of dollars just live there for a year or two; given that Mars is already suitable for humans to live and that your name will written on history books … but of course you will live there alone. Will you accept the offer? Why or why not?

6. Is there a day in your life when you wished that you were just born a boy/man/male? Tell us something about it.

7. What will you consider first, your friends or your dreams? Choose only one among the choices.

8. How do you view life as a whole?

9. If you will be born again, what insect would you want to be?

10. What is the book which you have found so influential to your life?

Nomination: One Lovely Blog Award

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one-lovely-blog1I am but a poor, little blogger on WordPress. But wow, I appreciate Silver Threading for nominating me for this. It’s truly a honor to be remembered by you, so a bunch of thanks is given to you! Guys, follow her! Her poetry is one of the most unique I found in the blogosphere, and that inspired me to write poems as well!

The rules for winning this award are simple. Here they are:

1. Thank the person who has nominated you. Provide a link to his/her blog.

2. List the rules and display the award image.

3. Include 7 facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know that they have been nominated.  This is a way to introduce others to bloggers that you love.

5. Display the award logo and follow the blogger who nominated you.

 

Here are 7 facts about myself:

1. I love all the sciences, except Chemistry. If given the chance, I want to be a cancer specialist or a geneticist.
2. I began writing long-form essays at the age of 12 and such talent was discovered by my English teacher.
3. I became a sports editor of a campus publication because of a weird election criteria. I excel in feature writing, by the way.
4. They, especially the kids in my neighborhood, call me “Dora the Explorer” because I sometimes wear her purple costume and go to the university with her Backpack. I love being on educational tours and community immersions.
5. I got my grade school diploma with flunking grades. But I graduated from high school with rainbow colors.
6. I am gay. And the questions I am most obliged to answer are, “Really?” “What? You don’t look like one!” and “Are you kidding me?” Yeah, sort of a big issue here in my country.
7. I am true friend to you if and only if I slap you with the truth whenever possible.

With the power bestowed upon me, I hereby nominate the following blogs for One Lovely Blog Award:

1. margaretmathews

2. Pixie Dust Beach

3. Meaningful Mommy

4. New Chapter

5. Quantum Passion

6. Life in Written Words

7. Meredith’s Musings

8. Sunflower Solace Farm

9. Folakemi Odoaje

10. narcopathcrusher

11. Tienny

12. shalilah2002

13. susieshy45

14. Believe In A Dream

15. Beginning Life at 43

 

Sueju Takeshi 武

Comrade

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316630_492454574108158_718594247_nWe sharpshoot and zoom. We capture light through either the standard or the long lens and process it to be a beautiful, visually appealing creation. We urge danger to chase us as we proudly wear a weapon of great value anywhere or around the campus, facing trails, looking for adventures.

Honey May is one of my best of friends. She was once a typical high school girl who was hideously being courted and admired by a variety of boys. (If she knows that by herself, I do not know.) She is undoubtedly computer literate, knowing a lot of stuff other than Microsoft applications, while I, until now, am still stuck with silly, time-consuming computer games and endless basics. She belonged to a cream section just as me, but of course, without any pretense, I am in a way smarter than her.

We are exact opposites, and we share something in common — talents.

She sings; so do I, but my voice has a perfect echoing only inside our bathroom. She writes; so do I: she writes fiction, while I enjoy non-fiction much more. She captures photographs, so do I; but in this case I can say I am her master, and she is my sidekick. Ah! Wait, we were both bullies, as far as I remember.

If we share things other than the aforementioned, I do not know. If she dislikes me featuring her with this article, I do not care. We treat each other harshly so to speak, because in a contrasting fact we are silent plastics in the presence of our beloved enemies.

It was her whom I learned how to cut classes. I remember it was during the Filipino time in our last year in high school when we did that. We escaped when we got bored and made a journalism activity as a pretext to our teacher. If the guidance counselors of our school will get to read this, please do not hold our certificate of good moral character. I am truly begging you; we are still good kids, simply enticed with the very idea of eradicating boredom.

It was her who struggled with me when I was suffering from heartache. That moment in Speech Laboratory when I cried so hard after being ‘friend-zoned’ and when she was comforting me in her arms, I laughed terribly and crazily like a mad man. It was her who patiently became my sidekick in stalking a guy in high school. (Yes, I am gay; she must be a lesbian. No, she as a lesbian is a big joke.) She once knew the “Ten Thousand Bitchy-Foul Words” and she had recited it with all her heart. However, this personality had changed since we both entered different universities: she is now attending church services regularly and promises to refrain from saying bad language. If she will be a nun or be called as “Sister/Mother Honey May” someday, I won’t anymore wonder.

Honestly, I do not like the idea of her being my sidekick. We are both differently stupid in several ways. I’ll call her a comrade instead.

My Dear Watson

Luisita’s motherhood

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The woman in this photo is a local farmer from Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, whom we visited during our NSTP Basic Masses Integration at the said area. They were also victims of prevalent mass oppression and their houses and farms were bulldozed the day after we left the controversial land.

The woman in this photo is a local farmer from Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, whom we visited during our NSTP Basic Masses Integration at the said area. They were also victims of prevalent mass oppression and their houses and farms were bulldozed the day after we left the controversial land. Photo Copyright 2013 by Prof. Carl Marc Ramota

Luisita is a rich mother. She is a woman bestowed by Nature a power, a power to nurture tiny seeds until they all grow roots to courageously stand up, taking pride of their fresh, green leaves against the sun of Central Luzon. She provides her children an advantage to harvest tons of sugar canes, rice, and corn for the feeding of their hungry stomachs. She bathes with the irrigation from a nearby dam or with the calmly flowing water from the river that rages during a storm. She likes catching the rain even during a plaguing summer, giving her grandchildren the opportunity to play with and appreciate a common yet great blessing from the skies. She wants the heart of her land to be distributed to her children.

Luisita is indeed a lighthearted mother. She could be seen patiently waiting along the main road leading to the expressway, welcoming her beloved visitors with her breath of hope, which touches their skins with soft, blissful wind. When these people drop off from their vehicles, she would let them stare at her in open-mouthed wonder and snap photos of her. Oftentimes most of her visitors are students, but she is never bothered of their disturbing laughter. In fact, she would laugh with them too, though she couldn’t be heard. With her grandsons and granddaughters who naively ask you, “Where is U.P.? Is that a school?” she would request their parents to be the foster parents of these students and tell them stories of her happiness and struggle.

But Luisita became an enraged and depressed mother. She is a slave of the elites and the President’s family in Tarlac. She never hides behind tall grasses because she wishes for her soil to be inherited and cultivated by her poor children and grandchildren. She doesn’t recognize the dirt at the corners of her shirt and wields banners and placards instead of guns and swords. Like other women, she was abused and hurt; and her rights were overlooked. Her children were driven out of their place with huge bulldozers so she was even more saddled.

But her children won’t leave her side and are willing to fight for her. And she wishes that her once young visitors will come again to hear her cheerful stories.

Let’s then fight for her.