We are all passersby…

I’m sure many of us have heard or watched the news about a 2 year old baby girl in China who was a victim of a horrible hit-and-run accident last week (Thursday) and died today.

The toddler nicknamed Yueyue was innocently walking along a narrow market street in the Chinese Southern city of Foshan when a van hit her. CCTV camera showed the driver stopped for a few seconds only to hit her again and resume driving. The little girl was there in the cold street, blood-soaked, crying because of terrible pain. There were many passersby but no one seemed to notice her or just deliberately ignored her. After a few moments, another van striked her until finally a garbage collector saw her, pulled her to the side of the street because the baby is too weak and alerted the mother.

It is really heartbreaking to see through this incident, how  our society had gone very ill. It seems nowadays a lot of people do not have a heart for their fellow who needs help.

It is still unclear why the toddler was left unattended by the family which caused her walking freely on the road.

When this accident has gone viral through various websites and social networks, many people said the reason why no one tried to help is for fear of being wrongly accused similar to a case in China in year 2006 wherein the one who helped was accused of causing further injury and at the end made him to pay 10% of the total medical cost.

The case of Yueyue is very similar to the parable in the Bible about the Good Samaritan. A traveler was walking the roads of Jericho but unfortunately was beaten, robbed and left half dead. A priest passed by as well as a Levite. But both avoided the helpless man. Finally a Samaritan comes and helped the Jew. During that time Jews and Samaritans despised each other but in all ironies of life, the traveler found help in a most unlikely person which is the Samaritan.

As for Yueyue’s accident, most probably the drivers of the vans as well as all the passersby are well-educated (as it seems they know the possible repercussion if they try to help the victim and eventually wrongfully accused) and as well living a good life.
Meanwhile, the garbage collector may not even have formal education, possesses less material things but amongst all people only she have the pure heart and instinctively tried to save the helpless toddler.

All of us are passersby in this world… The roads are dark and dangerous…We will never know if we would be in the same situation…
Probably the world has really gone bad but I really hope there are still more people like the garbage collector.
Maybe Yueyue had been unfortunate in this world but surely she is in a better place now, up there in Heaven.

This story really made me heavy-hearted with the realities of our modern life.

I will pray for you Yueyue. May your soul rest in peace.

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For the record- Ernie and Bert are just best friends!

Seems life is really goin’ bananas these days…

Last November- Marge Simpson, the fictional cartoon character in what is dubbed as the world’s most dysfunctional family “The Simpsons” made history by being the first cartoon character to grace the cover of Playboy Magazine .

Now, there was a statement from Sesame Street the world’s favorite children’s show clarifying a rumor about 2 of their most popular characters, Ernie and Bert saying they are apparently not gay and are just the best of friends.

This statement is in response to a Facebook campaign launched by gay rights activist Lair Scott. The campaign was created to ask Ernie and Bert get married in the programme as a way of teaching viewers acceptance of gays and lesbians.

Quoting Lair Scott:

“We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful. Only that they allow Bert and Ernie to marry or even add a transgender character to the show,” reads an online petition signed by some 7,600 people.

Sesame Street said:

“Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves,” the public television program said in a statement.

“Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

I also personally feel that even though same sex marriage is acceptable in some societies, promoting it in a children’s show the way Scott suggested it, is too complicated for children as young as 3 or 4 to comprehend.

I believe there are better venues or means to make people including the young generation accept this fact in our society and not through the said TV show.

There was another controversy in the Philippines just recently when an artist named Mideo Cruz showcased his “works of art” entitled “Kulo” depicting various works featuring Jesus Christ in what many people believe to be “blasphemous” and a “mockery of their faith”.

I believe this is a free world and everyone has the right to express their beliefs, views and opinions but I also believe that we should do it in a way not offending to the majority of people in the society.

Just my two cents worth…

Excerpts of the Ernie and Bert story were taken from this article found in: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lifestyle/08/13/11/sesame-street-says-bert-and-ernie-just-friends

Stories in Siem Reap

Aw Khun Ch’ran Siem Reap…
That’s how they say “Thank You Very Much” in Khmer Language.
Me and 4 other friends spend 3 days/2 nights in Siem Reap, Cambodia last week because of a long Thailand public holiday.
I am glad the trip pushed through even if we only planned for it less than 2 weeks. It was discussed only briefly when our group had a mini-Pinoy party eating all Filipino Foods.
My friend, Tine said she will be going to Cambodia by land for holiday. In jest, we told her we want to join. Then suddenly we became excited with the idea of traveling cross-country by land and so what was supposedly just a joke became a reality.

Traveling from Thailand to Cambodia by land is a good option because road condition in Thailand is excellent and cost is a lot cheaper than flying. There is a van from Victory Monument in Bangkok that goes to Aranyaprathet which is the Thailand side of the border. Cost is around THB 230 per way. However, our friend Alek decided to bring his pick-up truck so we can just drive all the way to the border. It is definitely faster and cheaper. We left their home at 5:30 am and drove less than 3 hours. After securing our entry stamp we arrived in the Kingdom of Cambodia (Poipet Border).

From Poipet border, we travelled 2.5 hours to reach Siem Reap by taxi (which is actually an unmarked car, parked in their so-called Bus station). We paid USD 10 per person and the taxi dropped us off in our hotel. We stayed in Lin Ratanak Angkor Hotel, a 4-star hotel located only few minutes away from the Old Market. The lobby of the hotel is a bit dark and designed in a contemporary Khmer style decor. However, the staff were all very courteous, friendly and accommodating. We felt we are treated like Royalty considering we only paid around THB 800 per night (breakfast included). The receptionist suggested a good itinerary for us to maximize our stay in the city. We decided to hire their car for our tours because the price they quoted us is really cheap. The driver is also very friendly and professional.

During our first night, we had a dinner buffet with cultural dance in a local restaurant. Wide range of Khmer and International foods can be selected. Khmer dance is very similar to Thai including hand gestures and costumes evidently because they are neighboring countries so there are many aspects in their life that is influenced by the other culture.

We want to see the sunrise in Angkor Wat so the next day, we asked for a wake-up call at 4:30 am. We left the hotel before 5:30. Unfortunately on that day, the weather is gloomy and the skies very cloudy so we weren’t able to take a decent shot of the sunrise. The Angkor Wat is also undergoing restoration so big green drapes cover the temples and this sight is not so attractive to look at in camera. Anyway, this is  a UNESCO World Heritage site and naturally all efforts are being made to preserve this man-made wonder.

1 Day pass to Angkor is USD 20 per person. If you decide to visit for 3 Days, you can buy it for only USD 40 while the 7 days pass cost only USD 60. Since we have limited time, we just bought 1 day pass which I think is good enough as we are not a very hardcore temple fanatics.

Angkor Wat is the most popular and highly recognizable structure in the complex. The walls were designed intricately and you can find many artwork etched in it depicting various stories.  We then proceeded to Angkor Thom, which in Khmer literally means Great City. Angkor Thom is the last capital city of the Khmer Empire. We took many pictures and then proceeded to Bayon Temple. I like Bayon Temple because of the many ruins you can see in the complex plus the massive stone faces in many towers of the complex.

Next stop is Ta Prohm. This area was used as location for various movies including the hugely popular Lara Croft: Tomb Raider wherein the trees literally grow in the temple ruins some of which the roots of the giant trees literally enveloped the area.

After more than 7 hours of walking, taking pictures and being awed by the great Ancient Khmer civilization through the temples we’ve visited, it’s time for us to take our late lunch. We decided to dine in KFC, the only International Fast food chain in Siem Reap. The taste of chicken is not as good as in Bangkok or Manila but is ok cos the set meal price is cheaper.

Next, we went for a tour of Tonle Sap Lake. According to Wikipedia, it is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and covers a big part of the Cambodian map. Tonle Sap is unique because of the water mechanism happening in this body of water. During dry season, the lake shrinks to 2,700 sq. km. and 1 meter deep because the flow of water is drained in the mighty Mekong River. However during Monsoon season, the lake swells as big as 16,000 sq. km and depth up to 9 meters as the flow is reversed and the Mekong River pushes water into the lake.

There are about 800 families along the Tonle Sap community  according to our boatman/guide named Ki, but I think it could be more. This community is considered the poorest in Cambodia. They rely only on fish and seafoods caught in the lake but during rainy season it is very dangerous to fish and they say many fishermen had died in the past because if they are out there in the middle of the lake, they will not know if there is a heavy rain or thunderstorm coming in so some of them drown in the lake or boats capsized.

This not-so-typical tour of the lake opened my eyes as well as that of my friends on the reality of life in Cambodia, considered one of the poorest nations in the world. Because they are so poor, they don’t have access to clean facilities, their small boat houses is where their living, dining, kitchen bedroom and bathroom are all rolled into one. They don’t have toilet so they just put their wastes directly into the river connected to the lake. We even saw one guy after soaping and shampooing himself, rinsed himself by jumping into the river which is full of mud, wastes and water hyacinths.

They also don’t have access to clean drinking water. If they have money, they will buy water from the refilling station but if none (which is the fact in most cases) they will just get drinking water from Tonle Sap (without even boiling) so a lot of them especially kids have poor health and are malnourished.

While we traverse, many of the families try to beg for USD 1 to buy some food and drinks. Ki is honest enough to discourage us giving these people money because if some others will know, all of them will just flock asking for alms. On the way back he took us to the only primary school in the community where he used to study and now 2 of his siblings were studying. The floating school is small but 200 children are studying. There are 3 small classrooms so they have to do classes in different shifts to accommodate all the students. Many of the children have no families so the school also serve as their home. When we went there less than 20 children were there (because it was a Sunday and almost sunset). We also met the Vietnamese volunteer teacher who is really kind and selfless for doing such deed.

There are many Vietnamese who went there during the Khmer Rouge time to help and a lot of them decided not to return to Vietnam and just settle in Cambodia specifically Tonle Sap area so in school they have to teach in Khmer, Vietnamese and English. Since we didn’t have enough money as we never expected this scenario in our tour, my group and I were only able to buy over 50 bottles of water and some treat. It may be small but we know it could help the children in some ways. We were discouraged to donate money because of rampant corruption in the country and we also felt it’s best to give goods or school materials next time we go back.

Before reaching the jetty port, we realized that Ki’s left arm is missing. We didn’t noticed it earlier because he is wearing a long-sleeved shirt. He told us he lost his arm when he was 11 years old because of landmine. At 21 years old, he is about to finish secondary school. He wants to go to college and study English so he could become an English teacher someday. Because of his physical condition, he cannot do some work so being a teacher is ideal for him because he can perform his best while helping the poor children learn English (we noticed a lot of them speak good English and can catch up easily even those children and sellers on the street). He said he used to have a Filipino teacher and that he love watching Filipino series (surprisingly many Cambodians know Pangako Sa’Yo and Marimar of Marian Rivera translated in Khmer language).

His perspective in life is good as I did not see or hear him sulk or complain about his life a bit and he still have a positive disposition despite his physical handicap and social condition of his community.

After our Cambodia trip and we were back to the busy streets of Bangkok, I just find it so surreal that in one part of the world many people are hungry and impoverished while in many other places life is very convenient and good. This fact made me feel very blessed and fortunate and I am very thankful to God for being in a better position. And this should remind us to be more compassionate and giving to our less fortunate brothers.

I saw the sun set in Tonle Sap but I did not fret, because I know the same sun will also rise above them the next day. This made me felt assured that there is always light after the darkest hours of these people.

Puppy hanged in a clothesline


The news I saw in Internet TV last June 12 about a puppy being hanged in a clothesline by its owner is disturbing. The teenager named Jerzon Senador took pictures of his puppy helplessly floating in air being saved from a free fall only by 5 pcs of clothes pin attached to the back of the pup and hanging in a clothesline.

At first, this guy was quite adamant and doesn’t feel sorry for his deed and feel it is just his way of expressing fun because he was bored. Even said he put his pet in the washing machine too.

But later on he said sorry in public and that it will never happen again.

Now, there are several profiles created in Facebook some supposedly by Jerzon posers and others simply just to show their indignation about his cruel act.

Cruelty to animal has been very rampant lately. Just last April, a UP student JC Candare was in the news for deliberately killing a cat inside the school campus in 2009 because of his supposed “internal hatred” to cats. This hatred is aggravated every time he sees a live one so on that fateful day, he wrestled the poor thing to death.

After posting the incident in his blog, hate messages flooded his Multiply account and the news spread like wildfire in all media.

He also said sorry but was charged with animal cruelty, got fined a small amount and required to do volunteer works in Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

I hope our legislators would do something to make stricter laws or heftier fines for people charged of animal cruelty. Like humans, animals have life and created by God and they truly deserve a better life either in the wild or our homes (for domesticated animals as pets).

I just can’t help but think how some people can do really terrible things to other creatures… Look how cute and innocent this puppy is…

Honor and Excellence

While I was trying to watch some videos of Philippine TV programs in Pinoy Channel.TV I came across a video of Prof. Winnie Monsod addressing University of the Philippines (UP) Students.

It seems she is talking to freshmen of the University by the way she talked.

I always admired Prof. Winnie’s eloquence, courage and integrity. She is definitely an iron lady..and she knows what she is doing and what she is talking about.

Back to that video, the beginning part of her talk is encouraging the students to take pride of being part of UP, the Philippines’ best University. Truly being an alumnus of UP is something to be proud of and can be considered an achievement in itself.

She also told the students to give something back to the country because it is the people of the Philippines who had paid (or partially paid) for their tuition fees being a university scholar or so-called Iskolar ng Bayan.

I myself used to be an Iskolar ng Bayan and its true that our fees are highly subsidized considering we are getting quality education though I think the tuition fee of State Universities are getting higher and higher these days.  At any rate, even if we are paying low fees, there is no reason not to study hard and earn a diploma.

She encouraged everyone in the audience to stay in the Philippines after graduation and work in the country. This is one way of giving back to the society. She asked everyone to make that commitment or else she will haunt them even on death (not sure it is half meant, hahaha).

One part that I don’t agree much with Prof. Winnie is her statement which I quote:
“And if any of you have, mga little ambitions of going abroad so that you can earn more, please disabuse yourself, because by doing that you are essentially betraying the people in the Philippines who trusted you and invested their money in you”.

Ouch!

Am I really a traitor by being an OFW?

I don’t know if it is her way of trying to convince the students to stay put in the country, what with the thousands and thousands of brains being drained out of the country for decades now.  But I find it quite unfair for OFW’s like me who is just trying to earn a decent living overseas.

Yes, we must work in our country to help in its recovery but if there is no better job so where do we go? By working abroad, it entails a lot of sacrifices with every penny that we earn.

I would rather put it this way…it is better to work overseas and “betray” my country if I am earning decently and righteously than staying put in the country but in the process stealing the Filipino’s money through corruption.

Many of us working overseas are trying to give honor while striving for excellence. This is our way of giving back to the country while in the process helping our families.

Just my thoughts..anyway, overall her talk is very informative, encouraging and sensible. And I would always admire her.

Full video here:

http://www.philippinechannel.tv/watch/v-239562?title=Honor%20and%20Excellence

Fur kids or real kids anyone?

Last night I was watching in Channel News Asia the programme called Blog TV. The episode is titled “Fur Kids”. The guests debates and gives opinion as to which one is better, raising your own child or owning a fur kid (read as: pet). Wooaah what a topic. Owning a pet has been a trend nowadays and many pet lovers spend a lot in grooming, dressing up and feeding their “fur kids” which is good because most household pets (especially dogs) help relieve stress, are very loyal and fun to look at. However, personally I believe the topic is non debatable in the first place. In totality, it is a lot better to raise your own child as opposed to raising a fur kid.

Please don’t get me wrong with my opinion. I have no objection if some people spend a lot in raising and maintaining their pets. I also emphatize to those couples who want to have their own children but cannot so have to resort to owning a pet for diversion. It is definitely a good deed. However, if a legally married couple has the financial, mental and physical capacity to have their own children, then by all means do not think twice having your own. It’s all about satisfaction, fulfillment and pride of raising your own children.

I don’t have children of my own yet but as I see my parents, siblings, relatives and friends who have their own children, I can see how proud, happy and contented they are having their own offspring especially for my parents as all of us are grown ups now and are successful in our own ways. No matter how obnoxious, underdisciplined or naughty kids these days can become, a parent will always love their child.

We are happy when our pups would learn how to bark and compliment them how brave they are even at a very early stage. However the feeling is entirely different when our baby starts to say its first word like Mama or Papa or giggle when we do peek-a-boo or tickle them. The world seems so full of happiness and the sight of a very innocent face staring at you is priceless.

When a dog learned it’s first trick like sitting still or rolling, we are very proud and would show these tricks off to our friends. However, when our baby responds when we asked them to close or open their hands, blink and do “beautiful eyes” gesture or when they learn to take first small steps, some parents can’t help but become teary eyed with their child’s progress.

When they start to go to school, learn how to read, write us short poems or messages or even draw a picture of their family and show to us, we will treasure these memories for a lifetime.

The list of memories and events shared together between a parent and their children goes on and on. Of course there are random instances wherein the children may grow up not as expected like giving the parents some problems like unwanted pregnancies, being hooked up in drugs or other vices, not following parents orders and stuff. But these are isolated cases and not usual to all families.

Overall, the bond between a parent and a child is stronger than the Great Wall of China, deeper than the Pacific Ocean and greater than the Great Barrier reef. It’s all because the foundation is love, trust and physical and emotional connection.

Let us continue to become a good parent or child or both, whichever role we play in life.

Cheers!

A Letter of Apology from a Filipino teenager about the hostage tragedy…

By now most of the world has heard about the very tragic incident that happened in Manila on the fateful day of August 23, 2010 when a busload of Hong Kong tourist was hijacked by a former Police Officer by the name of Rolando Mendoza. The 11 hour hostage tragedy claimed the lives of 8 persons including the gunman himself.

Emotions have been high since Monday and social networks like Facebook and Twitter are abuzz with posts and comments from various regions of the world giving prayers and message of sympathy as well as condemnation of the incident. Sadly, there were harsh comments like Filipinos being tagged as Monkeys which is unfair and totally uncalled for as well as the Government and Police force as inefficient, incompetent sitting ducks.

Many had already been said. I would also like to share my piece about this tragic event….

Personally I condemn the violence and feel very sorry for the loss of lives as well as the trauma brought about by the incident to the survivors and I understand the high emotions. Like many, I also do not approve of how the incident was handled by authorities . It could have been better and no innocent lives lost. The media should also be more responsible in their news reporting.

The ruthless act of 1 person doesn’t mean the whole country is rotten. Filipinos are generally loving and God-fearing. Many Filipinos working abroad have helped and continuously helping a lot of people, companies and organizations in many ways. We are also helping our families.  I really hope this single unfortunate incident will not wipe out all the good things we’ve done in the past and striving to do in the present and that no harsh repercussions to any Overseas Filipino Workers because of the incidents. These fellows are just trying to earn a decent living and has nothing to do with the ruthless act of the gunman as well as inequities of some authorities.

I would like to share in my blog a letter from a Filipino teenager by the name Reigno Jose Dilao making an apology for what has happened. Some people actually do not approve of his letter because they say there is no reason to apologize. But being a compassionate Christian, I also feel we should be sorry for the loss of lives.

As the bodies of the people who died are now flown to Hong Kong and most of the survivors have gone home as well, it is time to show affection and compassion to the families who are grieving and together with it, a prayer that the said incident will not happen again in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world.

Full text of Reigno’s letter here.