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Lakaw is a journey is a step is a move. I love to travel around the world and this is my travel and travel gadget site. Welcome and Enjoy!

0 comments | Thursday, April 26, 2007

Recently published Collegian article.
*********
I thought it would be timely to write about death. A lot of crying has been covered lately on TV and print for the death of more than 30 students at Virginia Tech. In the Philippines, the list of journalists being killed is growing and leaving pictures of families left behind wailing in grief. An innocent 2-year-old child was hit by a stray bullet while sleeping in the comfort of his room. Yes, in this column, I will be detailing a chronicle of death. If you are afraid of the word, stop reading.

A few years ago, the surprising death of my young professor in law school made my classmates and I realize our own vulnerabilities. He was just as strong as anyone else the day before he died, laughing and throwing his daily punch lines in class. He even joked about health. Little did we know that he would die the next day. His passing confirmed the verity of how susceptible anyone is to death.

Having already experienced the death of my grandpa's sister, who happened to be my closest ninang (godmother), I had gone through a deeper way of investigating, feeling through and attempting to formulate sense of just what passing away meant. As a youngster at the time, it was never a straightforward thing to believe and to accept. Nor was it something that I could uncover all of the answers for my minor questions.

Mama Tintay, my ninang, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, was given enough time to get her dealings organized, to cry her goodbyes to her families and to spend what little valuable time she had remaining struggling to convey all of the words and thoughts of wisdom and care that most parents have a lifetime to convey to their children. She did this with so much love and seemliness. Though it was very hard for her, she opted to somehow spend the little "life" she had left with her nearest and dearest - her family. When she finally left us, something was confirmed: It is not the person who passes away who has to suffer with death, but those who stay behind. How very true. Everyone cried, even my sister, for days.

The death of Mama made a difference in the mind of the high-schooler that was me. Her leaving compelled me to deal with the profoundness of life. Never before had I thought of the reverse side of living to be significant as when I was faced with her death, especially when I think of her being embraced by the all-encompassing hands of God, free of pain. In memory of Mama, I might have paid attention to the loss. But having known and loved her, I realized I have only gained. Her love continues to stay alive and provide me and my family with the might to do what we can with our lives. The last time I visited her grave, I reflected at the hyphen located between the dates on the tombstone and thought of all the wonderful things that laid in between.

Mama Tintay lived. She had fun, laughed and cried, felt love and loved so genuinely. Since I believe things happen for a reason, the dying of Mama, or my law professor for that matter, was never a loss. I can only picture Mama in heaven having a grand old time. She is home.

Lastly, I share the thought of President Chicoine for all those who have lost their loved ones in the Virginia Tech tragedy - may we all pray for healing and wholeness of life to come.
*******
Read more of my articles here.
Visit the Collegian newspaper site.

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4 comments | Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Here is a tale of my last Philippine island-hopping trip before I took the big leap to the USA.

I wasn't alone the last time I went to Bohol, Philippines. The boyfriend of my sister from the U.S. arrived and my younger brother who works in Manila managed to squeeze in a little vacation. The trip from Cebu island (Queeen city of the Southern Philippines) to the neighboring Bohol island was exciting, with all the fun things we did as a group.

Supercat, the supposedly fastest sea vessel going to Bohol, stopped its operation for quite sometime now, after it suffered major losses due to strong competitions from much newer companies offering lower fares. However, the lower the fare, the longer is the travel time. The trip was an hour and a quarter long, contrary to what I was used to, an hour and a half with Supercat.

For a businessmen who travels a lot between the islands and every tick of the clock is precious, the travel time difference is too much.

Going back to my trip story. When we reached Tagbilaran city, the capital of the island, we were upset to realize that the van service from the hotel where we would be housed, didn't arrive to fetch us. We were forced to take a cab. It wasn't a problem shelling out a few hundred pesos for a 30 minute ride. The problem was how to find a cab in a city dominated by tricycles!

We waited for almost an hour and only saw one cab that was occupied! Sweating all over, we were so desperate to be in the hotel and just take the necessary respite. Finally, we were able to negotiate a jeepney for a lower rent, around two hundred pesos.

We were bound for Bohol Plaza, a hotel/restaurant atop a mountain in the prestigious Panglao island of Bohol. A few kilometers away is the equally famous white beach Panglao resort. Indeed, it's true. The hotel has a relaxing and breathtaking panorama overlooking the islands.When we entered the lobby, we were already on the 4th floor level. Weird? Not at all. They built the hotel following the mountain slopes. They never intended to build a high-rise structure. The concept was to go down the slope and revolutionalize it into different hotel levels.
My brother and I took one deluxe room for 1,500 pesos (roughly $28). It was cheaper than most of the standard hotels in Cebu even if Bohol Plaza was classified as a premiere hotel. One probable reason is that, many tourists find it too far from the main land. Accessibility is also an issue that I think the hotel management must really look into.Spending a night at the top of a mountain was simply awesome. We saw myriad colors from the city lights afar and the intermittent sparks of lighting on one side of the mainland. It was a beauty to see everything from just one spot.Oh no, I've been writing a lot about Bohol Plaza and I'm not even a co-owner! I'll tell you more about the about the trip soon.

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4 comments | Saturday, April 21, 2007

Luxembourg is a very small country bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. I had been to this country twice and, in each visit, I was amazed how beautiful the cities were - with historical buildings and magnificent sceneries gliding along the green slopes.

I was with a Chinese friend the first time I went there and it was a bit hard finding a cheaper place to stay. The initial plan was to find a hostel.
As travelers, we thought that a youth hostel would provide us a good accommodation where we could just rent beds (like a dormitory) and share a common bathroom, kitchen, and lounge. It took us more than an hour of walking until we found one located on a valley. It was really awesome and we paid less than our budget. We rested the whole night and early the next day, we went off and explored the city.

Luxembourg is a city within mountains and valleys. One moment you'd find yourself on top of a mountain, and in just a few minutes, you'd be in lowlands close to the lakes.We visited the one closest to our hostel - the underground caverns, the so-called Bock Casemates. It was originally built as a fortress by brilliant French military engineer Vauban. It became the strongest fortresses ever built. Today, the casemates are a unique network of underground galleries, 17 km of the original 23 km still exist.
Cobbled streets, historical buildings, museums and art galleries blend with contemporary boutiques and outdoor cafés, giving the place a unique charm.

Luxembourg's parks and gardens spill out from the Old Town and make this an ideal walking city -especially considering the small size (cf street map) - combining nature with both a modern and a traditional feel.
We explored every corner of the city and we tasted the different beers too. I think that was the most exciting part of the journey. LOL.

We only stayed in Luxembourg for two days and then headed on to Germany. But the two days were enough to keep us so excited to come back for more.

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0 comments | Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I write for this newspaper. This is my latest article.
*****
In a third-world country where people breed like rabbits, causing the population to grow to tens of thousands each year, anyone who knows the facts and figures must worry about the future state of the Philippines.

The Department of Education attempted, at the start of classes last year, to bring forward to the whole country the program on "sex education." The program was seen as a positive step by the United Nations Population Fund. It was supposedly integrated into the general curriculum, beginning in the fifth grade, via subjects like health, Filipino, science and livelihood education. This way, schools could help bottle up the issue of overpopulation and educate students on the dangers of pre-marital sex, including "unwanted pregnancies." However, everything went down the drain.

Early in the program's trial run, the Philippine government scrapped sex education due to the strong defiance by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. The CBCP believes that such programming, when incorporated into the public schools, would persuade teenagers to undertake premarital sex rather than remain abstinent, and emphasizes that sex education is the parents' responsibility and not the government's.

The problem is that the government cannot go against the church. In the Philippines, whatever the church says, the clergy will follow. It happened during the great revolution in 1986 when late dictator President Marcos' regime was overthrown by the people power revolt, after all-out support from the church. With about 85 percent Catholics, the setting would look like this: If you plan to be re-elected to office, never go against what the church considers right, otherwise you will lose a majority of the masses' votes.

While others quote the article of the Philippine constitution regarding the provision of the separation of powers between the church and the state, many others proclaim that the church must play a role, the advocate of morality. It is indeed a very complicated situation with all the clashing ideas from two, big social entities.

I am a devout Christian myself, but I am for sex education. Sex education in itself is not evil, nor is it the enemy here. I am for it for as long as it is properly taught in schools and not "sugar-coated." The Department of Education must come up with the right curriculum or an educational program with the right amount of sensitivity that will really hit the issue, bull's-eye! Most importantly, teachers must also be capable of imparting it to young minds. Isn't it high time to make everyone face the facts about sex and sexuality?

Sex education is not only about controlling population. It also educates the people on the consequences of pre-marital sex. I agree with one of my friends' comments, "What will a conservative country do when it's in the brink of economic disaster due to overpopulation and other things that go with it?" Sex education must not be equated to "Kama Sutra," because it isn't about learning the techniques of making love. Nor it is about reaching the perfect orgasm. Not at all.

If only the government and the church could join hands for once - the former through implementing the social welfare policies and the latter by continuing its feeding and housing programs for the poor - then, hopefully in the end, a better solution that would be fair for both sides could be reached. It must be a solution that's beneficial for all.

So, is the government right in scrapping sex education from the education system? The answer could be felt when there is not enough resources for every Filipino in the country anymore. Take a peek of the newspaper here.

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4 comments | Wednesday, April 11, 2007

After almost a month, another article of mine has found a space in the Collegian newspaper. Yahooo! Read on and click the photo is you like to be transported somewhere:-)
*****
I pondered how God has viewed our being individuals, whose moment of stillness has not been so apparently fulfilled. The line in the Bible that says "Be still, and know that I am God," really means, in its complete contemporary biblical setting, "Cease, relax and shut up! Spare time for me and know that I am God."

In one of Father Paul's homilies last Holy Week, the same verse came out, and I was taken back to the time when I devotedly listened to God in the stillness of my heart.

Knowing I haven't read anything religious printed in The Collegian since I started writing late last year, I thought that this would be the start of something different. A few days ago, someone close to me asked, "Are you not reluctant to write about God in your column?"

"With what God has done for me all these years, writing won't even be enough," I answered without reservations.

A few years ago, a dear friend gave me a book called, "The Purpose Driven Life." I heard that it was a bestseller - students read it during bouts of silence in bus rides and even successful businessmen browsed the pages inside café houses. Curious, I turned to the page that carries the question, "What makes God smile?"

It says God smiles when people praise and thank him personally. God loves it when praises and adoration are expressed for Him. Prayer is the way to His heart. Prayer, spoken or unspoken, brings miracles.

Lines from the book struck me hard. They reminded me to wake up from the existing state of hallucination to God's wonderful state of reality. To be in that reality is to pray. God commands everyone to pray.

In this lifetime, many times I find myself trying to square circles with only God's armor to cling to. With a firm foundation in Him, those times would equate to believing and claiming what He has promised, that I could move mountains and that when legions of principalities turn up my way, I could never be taken apart.

Look around. There are a lot of spiritual warriors at SDSU. Visit the Pius XII Newman Center or the many Christian churches around Brookings and notice that the majority of the churchgoers are students. That doesn't happen in other Christian countries, believe me.

When I lived in the Netherlands for two years, only the elderly attended services. Here, though, I was left open-mouthed and overly astounded on my first attendance, as college students flocked to the church.

In a liberated country like the U.S., my idea of a church service is no more than what I experienced in Europe - that only a few teenagers still believe in God's great promises. I was proven wrong, though, at the sight of an army of God - students earnestly praying, standing with truth as the belt and righteousness as the breastplate, ready to announce the Good News. Young men and women that I first thought knew no place but a pub were present.

I call these students in church the warrior children - they, who drop their swords, run toward God and take refuge in His quiet place of rest, even for just one day a week. Amen, for each student and every living soul inside the church. Amen, for all the desires of their hearts, which I am certain, will be answered in God's precious time.

In Brookings, most students, if not all, are companions on the journey. They are the warrior children, how they have prayed. This, they all know, would make God smile even more.
******

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1 comments | Friday, April 06, 2007

Please enjoy the worship videos in this post. May we reflect on the sacrifices of God for us. May we forgive others as God has forgiven us. May our Holy Week be blessed.

Pray this: "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference..."

Here I Am To Worship/Call video

Ron Kenoly - Jesus is Alive video

I love Don Moen's Songs. Here are few videos I selected.

Don Moen - Shout to the Lord

Don Moen - God Will Make A Way

Don Moen - God is Good

Don Moen Benny Hinn album - I am the Lord that healeth thee

Don Moen - Sing For Joy

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0 comments | Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Strange.

I am referring to the weather. Strange weather. Just last week the sun was all out and the temperature was at its most amazing range. People were even starting to wear shorts and shirts - that's minus the thick coats and sweatshirts. I thought it was the start of the spring season and then eventually the hot summer days.

Whew, what is this snow doing today? Common, it ruins my plan of getting rid of my winter clothes by stacking them up somewhere far from sight. I want to wear my light clothes again and be the way that I used to be when I was in the Philippines. I miss wearing T-shirts and shorts. And sleeveless shirts.

It seems that the cold weather will be staying here this week, as the blinking button weather channel software installed in my laptop says. You know I get this updated temperature scale that blinks in my status bar each time I am online. As of this writing, it is -9 degrees celcius. Pretty cold huh! For a Pinoy, yes. Although I have experienced something like -20 degrees a few months back, still this temperature is not the one that I like to be in right now.

Oh God, bring the hot summer days in!

Jump to another story. I took some shots of the groceries I bought a couple of days ago. I needed to store something for the rainy season, sorry, snowy season.

Welch's 100% grape juice is the best. If you feel like Dracula drinking fresh blood, buy this. The juice is a bit concentrated yet not the type that sticks to your gums or teeth. It is a juice, pure juice that leaves a sensation of wanting for more, even after consuming three glasses. Next time I will try the other flavors.

Then there's the milk. The percentage of fat varies - 0%, 1%, 2%, whatever you like. Pick what best suits your diet. Half a gallon of milk (1.89 liters) costs about $1.6 or about 75 pesos. Not bad.
Then here's the Breyers 98.5% fat free swirled yogurt in different flavors. When I was in the Philippines, I never miss to buy those yogurt drinks that my little brother and I loved to drink every time I went for grocery shopping. I love yogurts a lot. I can survive having one for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don't mind at all being served with yogurts in a restaurant. Don't you know that a 227g of yogurt (same size as the container in the photo) is equivalent to 240 calories? A very good source of energy!
Since I came here, I haven't eaten a white bread. My craving for wheat bread is just so immense that when I am in the bread section of the grocery, I don't have to spend time thinking which bread to pick. This Dutch Hearth is tasty with some grains (I think its Barley flakes) sprinkled on top. The chocolate cookies, ah, never mind. One of the cheapest cookies you'll ever find on shelf. I just like buying them. LOL.
This "Swiss miss" choco mix will surely indulge your chocolate craving. Olala. It is made from a blend of premium cocoa and fresh milk. You can also select different flavors. Personal picks are the French mix and this mocha cappuccino. This is available in Philippine supermarkets by the way. Go grab one, taste it and tell me that I am correct.
Nobody is paying me to promote these products. But I am willing to accept an offer if ever there is one.

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0 comments | Monday, April 02, 2007

One satisfying moment for a writer is when he/she gets praises from readers for what he/she writes. That moment cannot be replaced by any other. Nor it can be bought. It is priceless.

Look at how few of my readers reacted and liked my column. I do not know them. Since the newspaper has a wide circulation, it could be from other States. Whoever they are, they make my heart beat fonder and the writer in me so inspired. Thank you.

If I write, I don't need anyone to pay me anything. I write because it is a passion that I passionately would love to do, for forever, free of charge. If only my time permits, I would like to contribute articles to various newspapers and magazines. Human as I am, well, I just cannot. For now, I content myself with my weekly writing stint in the Collegian.

I had no article last week, not because I didn't meet the deadline. It was for reasons of humaneness and generosity. I had to give my space to another columnist. The Collegian sometimes is just full of advertisements that columnists are divested of space. I think the management should look into the possibility of increasing the number of pages or to assign a specific week for each writer or to minimize those big photos that totally occupy the front page. But I don't have any control over this. All I could do is to pitch in few of my creative thoughts and wait for the management to react.

Anyway, even if I didn't submit anything last week, my previous article is still one of the most popular articles online. Meaning, people clicked and read it. Or maybe they just clicked but never read. It doesn't matter. The fact is, they clicked it because they were interested.

My ideas are overflowing. Rest assured, my coming articles will be more interesting and will only be for you dear readers...straight from my heart.

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