Saturday, December 30, 2006

Light A Million Candles...

Today I lighted a candle for victims of child pornography at

I saw the tv ad by UNICEF on this a few days ago and thought... yes, it's such a harsh reality that so many innocent children are shoved into this kind of life. First World or Third World country, the problem exists, maybe more so for the latter where poverty is more prevalent. The fact that UNICEF is involved in the fight against child pornography and prostitution is in itself indicative of how deep-rooted the problem is.

Though I know the root cause of such things may be poverty, the problem also exists because of people who encourage such a trade with their "preferences," and people who can be so heartless and inhuman as to thrive and profit from it.

Please take time to visit the website and light a candle for these children.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Little Sampaguita Girl

Every night as I make the final turn from the main highway to the road leading to my home, I see this little girl about 8 or 10 years old who sells sampaguita leis. She goes from car to car offering the flowers when the traffic light is on stop and runs back to the side again when the light turns green. I sometimes buy from her even if I know the price is double than what is sold outside the church.

One time I paid her money for the sampaguita lei and she just said "Thank you." I asked where my lei was and she said I only gave her 6 pesos and showed the coins. The flower cost 10 pesos. Since the light turned green, I said it was ok, she can have the coins and I moved on.

Just before Christmas, her image always came to mind. I wondered how she and her family would be spending Christmas. When I came home from work on the 24th of December, I expected her to be there as usual. There were some toys left over from the children's games held for employees' kids at the office and I thought of giving her what I got. Knowing how these children lived, she probably never even had the chance to own a toy in her life.

While waiting for the traffic light to turn green, I looked around to see if she was there...she wasn't. I reached home a bit disappointed. The toy is still with me at home but last night I saw her again playing with other street kids. I remembered the toy I was supposed to give her. Hopefuly I see her there again tonight...

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Pope's Christmas Message

The world-wide problem of poverty, hunger and violence couldn't be more evidenced by the Pope's special Christmas message. He said that we should direct our thoughts toward children forced to serve as soldiers in a violent world, who have to beg, suffer deprivation and hunger, and who are unloved. And that despite claims of advances and successes by many, people continue to die and suffer from hunger and thirst, poverty and violence.

As I write this, the tv news is featuring children on the streets carrying big garbage bags with recyclable plastics they could sell to help their jobless parents earn income. Today being Christmas doesn't make it any different for them...just more plastics to collect from the day's Christmas celebration.

I'm reminded of children who are recruited by rebel armies to work as soldiers, deprived of their youth and not given a chance to enjoy their childhood. These children are catapulted into a world of chaos and violence, suffering from a situation not of their own making.

I'm reminded of the message emotionally posted by a blogger who went to Dili in Timor to start on his teaching job there. He witnessed the murder of men, women and children and of houses being burned just weeks before Christmas. He asked his friend to spread the word around that the people there need assistance to rebuild their homes...rebuild their lives.

It also brings to mind what I heard someone say just this morning that she was tired of her country giving aid to other nations using their money while she has to pay higher taxes. I would have had something to say to that but I didn't want to delve on the person's personal opinion which she is entitled to, nor on the political aspect of a stronger nation helping poor ones.

Humanitarian organizations like the World Vision, Children International, One and similar others do such a great job in extending aid to children and families in dire need of assistance. Their strength and success lie in each and every individual who is willing to share something of himself to help alleviate poverty and other problems plaguing the world. I'd like to think that one by one the number of kind-hearted people who offer help is growing so more lives can be saved, and more people can be educated and taught to sustain themselves.

It's so true that together success can be achieved. It just takes a lot of determination, selflessness, and each of us giving a little more of what we have to others.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Blessed Christmas to One and All

May the Lord's blessings be with you this Christmas and everyday of your life.
Have a wonderful Christmas.

What is Christmas...

So this is Christmas...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A New Year's Resolution

The other day I received an e-mail from David Rubenstein of the Save Darfur Coalition. The request is simple make a New Year's Resolution for 2007 of making 5 friends aware of the Darfur situation and asking their help to support the petition for the UN to take immediate steps in stopping the violence in Darfur. I'd like to share the coalition's e-mail with you.

It doesn't take much to help make others aware of the situation in Darfur and give the people there a reason to hope for a new and better life.


Date:Thu, 21 Dec 2006 11:47:54 -0500 (EST)
From:"David Rubenstein, Save Darfur Coalition"
Subject: A new year, a new resolve

Dear Marilyn,

2006 is drawing to a close. Although the violence in Darfur continues to grow, we've made remarkable progress in raising awareness of the crisis among the public and decision makers around the world with your help.

Thank you again for your hard work.

We need your help to increase the pressure on our leaders to stop the violence in 2007. Please join us in bringing tens of thousands more concerned citizens into our efforts to save Darfur.
That's why we're asking you to make it your New Year's resolution to get five friends or family members to join you in signing our petition asking the President and the UN Secretary-General to take immediate steps to stop the violence.

Together, we have accomplished a lot in the past year. The crisis in Darfur is now a daily story in top newspapers and the people of Darfur have many champions.

But the violence in the region is like a brush fire in the dry season - the crisis is spreading to neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic.

It's going to take a sustained effort from committed activists like you to truly turn the tide and stop the violence.

Please start by committing to make it your New Year's resolution to recruit five friends, family members, co-workers, or neighbors to join you in signing the Save Darfur Coalition's petition.

Together, we can make 2007 a year of hope for millions of Darfuris.

Thank you again for all you do.

Best regards,

David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Kids' 2006 Christmas Menu

I decided to have a simple menu for the holidays this year but I still wanted to know what the kids had in mind so I asked them to come up with a wish list. Well, that's what I get for asking. They came out with quite a list, not to include their father's request for Russian salad and the ham which he already bought for me to cook. Oh, and not to forget...the shrimps will be cooked 3 different ways: tempura, steamed with a special dip, and shrimp with chili cream sauce. The lengua (ox tongue) will be cooked 2 ways (last time it was done 3 ways): with cream and mushrooms, and the other done the traditional way like my mother did...lengua estofado with brandy and fried bananas and potatoes on the side.
I'm cutting down the menu of course. I've put off making sushi for 2 or 3 years now but the kids have been asking for it ever since I made some and I don't have the heart to turn them down again. It gets a little tiring though that I hardly see what I make because as soon as I finish slicing the roll, there are already 3 or 4 hands waiting to gobble the sushi up, lol.

Like I said, this year will be a simple holiday celebration for us. They will probably be disappointed at first that they won't get everything they asked for. Well, I didn't say they'd get everything on their list.
I'm blessed and thankful that I have a good job and healthy enough to be able to provide well for my family. But I want my children to be aware that times are getting harder, and to think of others who may be less fortunate and not be able to enjoy the holidays like we will.

Monday, December 18, 2006

How Much Do We Know About DARFUR?

How much do I know about Darfur? Not much...until I read about it in a friend's Blog and the Yahoo news about George Clooney making a stand on Darfur, asking support to help save the people there. The Darfur wesbite, was very informative.

Most of the videos I found on the net are those we never really get to see on tv and are so depressing that I couldn't get myself to view some of them in full. Some have called the Darfur tragedy a holocaust of the 21st century. And last August 2006, even the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces were not allowed entry into Sudan.

I have seen some of the pictures before being spread around via e-mail but I never really looked at them. They were so depressing to look at that I had to tell my friend how affected I was about it...yet I did nothing then to help make a difference. I wanted to forget what I had seen.

But there was a picture of a little child that I never forgot. He was sitting lifeless with his head bent on his knees and a large hawk stood behind him, looking and waiting to take him as prey. I remember putting my hand to my mouth in shock when the picture first flashed on my screen. Today, I didn't react differently when I saw it again. There were pictures much worse and so horrid that I know I will never be able to bring myself to post them here. But they're real, they happened and apparently continue to happen to this day.

When a Darfur child was asked by a reporter on what he wants to say to the world if given a chance, the child answered,

"We are here. Please don't forget us."

Those words touched me more than anything else...because I did try to forget. And I hope it isn't too late to start now.

Be a voice for those who have none. We CAN make a difference.

This is happening...

A Teen's View of Darfur

Saturday, December 16, 2006


In a previous entry, I said I'd write about Matt and here it is...

Some weeks back, I received an alert notification on my e-mail that Matt made a comment on my Blog. He said he added me to his blog links. That felt very good to hear from someone I never met (darn, I thought it was Matt Damon, grins).

Curious, I looked at Matt's blog. I then could understand why he said he liked mine. Most of my entries are emotional and speak of my life and life in general, but mostly about poverty, people, and topics that support the fight against poverty and aids. They are my realistic views of everything around me and how they somehow impact my own life...mostly subject matters that emotionally affect me.

But my blog isn't even a bit near from Matt's. His blogname in itself already speaks much of the compassionate person he is and what he advocates. His blog entries are very inspiring and thought-provoking. His post on"Finding My Life's Purpose" for instance, had personally touched me and I responded by writing about it.

I also found it quite amusing that a friend of his interviewed him to know just how real he is and posted this to her blog. It was a light interview to which Matt very candidly responded. And here I am now writing about him, too.

One thing is for sure, we need more of people like him around. I find myself fortunate to have met such an altruistic friend.

Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education

My friend Raquel and I have been trying so often to set a day to meet but her job often takes her away from home. There were times we just chatted online while she was in her hotel room somewhere in an Asian country or while she waited for her taxi to bring her to the airport to fly to her next destination.

I used to tease her that she was such a jet-setter but I do realize how much effort she puts into her work and how tiring and exhausting it can be to travel so often at such pace.

I'm dedicating this spot for her for being such a strong advocate for education and women's rights. I know her job often takes her away from her family, but her sacrifices to rally for the cause of her organization have benefitted thousands.

The Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE) works with organizations and individuals to foster adult education within the Asia Pacific region. It is an advocate for people's right to learn and have equitable access to relevant and quality learning opportunities. Recognition and support from Unesco and similar organizations on the hard work ASPBAE does already speak for themselves.

I'm proud of you my friend...

Banners of Hope...

I cried as I watched these videos of children with cancer. I hope it will inspire others and touch their hearts as they did mine. I have great admiration and respect for the families of these children who give and show so much strength and support for them, as well as the many faceless people with kind hearts who bring joy and smiles to these children's innocent faces.

When my friend's wife was still alive, she and I spoke about my friend's active involvement in charity work for orphanages and hospices. She and I both agreed then that we'd have a hard time interacting with sick people in a hospice the way he did, knowing and seeing that most of these people, mostly children, didn't have long to live. But my friend often said, "It isn't a sad place, Marilyn. When you go there, you see the children laughing and playing. And we are all like one big happy family." He described how nice the place was, how everyone tried to help and comfort each other, and that knowing these children will live another day longer because of the support of people who love and care for them is enough reason to be happy.

I remember him talking about a teenage boy with bone cancer who loved to make espresso. He said he must have drank 4 cups of espresso everytime he visited the boy. And there was a little boy with a nerve muscle problem...he said it made everything worth it whenever the boy's eyes showed a happy reaction to his singing. It was the only sign of reaction from the little boy and it made the boy's mother very happy.

As always, I'm emotional. But my friend was right...seeing that smile or laughter from a sick little child is all worth the time and effort spent with these children.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Christmas Tradition...

December 16th will be the start of the traditional Aguinaldo Mass. This is a tradition inherited from the Spaniards who ruled the Philippines for more than 300 years.

They say that if you complete the Aguinaldo Mass for 9 straight days from the 16th of December to Christmas Eve, your wish will come true. Mass starts very early in the morning around 3:30 or 4:00 am. Recently though, the Church has improvised and held 2 additional masses in the morning and an anticipated mass in the evening for those who cannot make it to the morning masses.

I'm again looking forward to attending the original early morning masses and hopefully completing the whole 9 days. And I look forward to the early morning hot "bibingka" and "puto bumbong" that are sold outside the church. Though this is now available year-round in big stores, the Aguinaldo Mass and feeling of Christmas are never the same without these vendors selling the traditionl food just outside the Church.

With a lot of faith, my wish will come true. It certaily wouldn't be the first time if it did.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sharing A Little of Our Blessings This Christmas

It's UNICEF's 60th birthday on December 11th.

About 3 days ago, I received a letter from UNICEF (as I'm sure many others have) soliciting funds for typhoon victims 2 months ago.
Since that typhoon, there was an even stronger super typhoon that ravaged the country.

Poverty is everywhere. With so many disasters world-wide that happened this year, UNICEF is once again knocking at our hearts this Christmas to share a little of what we have for the less fortunate.

Every little bit helps...a little less for ourselves and just a bit more for the less fortunate will go a long way all put together.... S H A R E

A Modest Christmas..

A Gypsy Night: Beads, Bangles and Baubles at Christmas...

This is the Bank's Christmas theme for its grand bankwide Christmas party on December 15th. Our bank parties were always lavish and bands, contests, big raffles and well-thought of and often very unique and expensive group presentations.

But today, an e-mail was sent by the Bank President to everyone saying that Christmas festivities this year shall be a modest one. The party will start off with Holy Mass, then a simple late afternoon snack, some raffles and mobile music.

Savings from the budget allotted for the party will now go to the typhoon victims last week. I'm sure many will benefit from this act of kindness.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What Can WE Do To Help?

The videos speak for what I otherwise will find hard to express in my own words. And I'm greatful that there are people who have generous hearts who can share these factual videos and express what they think they can do to help.

The videos are YouTube members' expressions of how to help end world hunger and make people aware of the poverty around us.

How to end world hunger...

This time around...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First There Were Two...

It has never been my habit to give money to beggars on the street... even children, though there were times that I just couldn't resist. And tonight, was one of them. But after seeing what effect it had on them when I gave the money, it only convinced me more that I was helping them the wrong way.

The last few weeks, I often saw two children near the traffic light from my workplace whenever I went home at night. Tonight, there were more...four or five of them. It's no surprise that beggars on the street have multiplied lately, especially children. Since it's Christmas Season, many are hopeful that more people would give them food and money as a good deed for Christmas...and it always worked.

Tonight I did what I usually didn't...I gave money to children begging on the street. One of the children had a wet cloth and started wiping the side windows on my car. Maybe I was just emotional the last two days, but I rummaged through my bag for some coins and as I was going through my bag, another child, maybe 4 or 5 years old, came near my window and asked for money. I gave him the money. Then the other one wiping my window came near too. Since I didn't have anymore to give (I purposely only gave coins), I told them to share. But no...they both wanted everything. Then there were more. The two other kids nearby came near to get their share from the kid I gave money to (he was the smallest).

As I watched them, I felt bad and not better at what I had done. I saw them trying to grab the money from the little one, then they started pouncing on each other. I was about to blow my horn or get out of the car and get the money back when the traffic light turned green. And it was very little relief that they seemed to have calmed down and started playing again as I passed them and turned towards the highway.

I am not being selfish by not wanting to give money to these children, but it was a common thing to hear that these children had "handlers." The money never really goes to these children, it goes to the older ones who have "control" over them. Unfortunately, some "handlers" are even their own parents who send them out to beg because people would pity the children more. Or worse, some of these children at such young ages, used the money to buy strong chemicals called rugby or glue to sniff that could so easily damage their nervous systems. I have actually seen this done by streetchildren to know just how true this is. How some people can have no conscience at all to sell such things to children is beyond me.

It doesn't make me happy to see such poverty all around me. I don't think anyone is. But it is a fact that it exists. And from what I saw tonight on my way home, it made me realize all the more that giving these children money isn't the answer. They should be in shelters, given the basic necessities in life and proper guidance through education if their own parents cannot take care of them.

But there are just so many of these children. There are probably millions of them everywhere. Government couldn't do enough. I perceive this as a lack of political will, or maybe....just a lot of personal interest reigning over so many other things that need to be prioritized by implementors.

Maybe if conscience and selflessness ruled over greed, selfishness and personal interest, there will be less of these children on the streets.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Great Matt Just Tagged Me

OK, I have just been Tagged!

Now I have to think (lol) about 5 things about myself to share that you may not know about me. Here they are:

1) I used to drink 2 tall Capuccinos a day from Starbucks (with waffle and caramel in the morning) until I moved to a Bank 3 years later where Starbucks wasn't just a walk away.

2) Just weeks ago I went to work wearing a gray shoe on one foot and a blue one on the other. (gosh, should I even say this???)

3) I got harrassed on the road with 2 men on board because I didn't let them overtake me. That was scarier than driving home on the highway at Storm Signal No. 3 last month.

4) I believe in the supernatural.

5) Only Josh Groban and my friend's songs can make me cry when listening to music.

Wow, thinking gave me a headache... Thanks Matt, it was fun.

Who should I Tag now?

Lei, Mari, Mary, Raquel, Q (now I have to tell them first)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Aftermath of the Storm and Christmas...

The Coast Guard took a picture of several buildings damaged after the super typhoon ravaged a region for 3 hours non-stop. On tv, they showed roofs from houses being blown away like paper as strong winds blew and rain poured hard over the whole region.

To make conditions worse, mudflow came from the volcano that erupted some weeks back. Houses in some areas were buried in mud and water. As of this writing, there are about 400 dead and hundreds still missing.

Organizations have set aside preparations for their charitable activities for Christmas to prioritize the campaign to aid victims from the recent typhoon. Many have hardly recovered from the super typhoon that hit Manila last October. Government has already ordered the release of emergency funds to help support the victims and to restore the badly damaged region. It will take months, maybe years to recover from what they had just gone through.

I can only be thankful that the typhoon had shifted direction and didn't hit Manila a second time. Yes, my family was spared from the wrath of another typhoon...but not other families. I can't begin to imagine how these people are feeling and going through now... being left homeless, losing loved ones, losing everything...and Christmas just days away. Indeed we all have something to be grateful for. And we never should forget others who are less fortunate...even in our prayers.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas Pets

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I have to admit I have seen some pictures of pets in Christmas outfit and some people have really gone overboard in overdressing their pets. But most pictures are really just so cute and I really appreciate that others can share them with people like me who can hardly find the time to do this.

Despite the strong storm currently being experinced by some regions here, and another one seen in the horizon that will hopefully spare the country from another devastation, I still would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas...peace, love and happiness for everyone.


It's a beautiful day...and it's also WORLD AIDS DAY...

The sun is shining and the weather is cooler than usual. By late afternoon yesterday, the super typhoon had changed direction and lingered long in the China Sea. Manila was spared of its wrath.

Unfortunately, other regions will suffer devastation from the storm. It's still a strong Storm Signal No. 4 in some areas. Many have prepared for it though. Some in low-lying areas have left their homes and taken temporary shelter elsewhere. Many have bought up on stock for days in case stores are closed and there won't be electricity nor water again like the last super typhoon.

It's WORLD AIDS DAY today so I hope we all could do a little bit of our share by just spreading the word around, wearing a World Aids ribbon...

Don't forget to visit this site...World Vision