Archive for January, 2009


Moving Out

January 30, 2009

For several weeks, I had been planning to move out of I just needed the means of paying my hosting site. I had saved some money. The only problem I had was how to give that said money to the site owners.
About last year, I applied for a Debit Card at the Trinoma branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). My schedule, however, did not allow me to receive that card. Back in Iligan, I pestered the local BPI branch for weeks to contact the Trinoma branch to send my card here. It was to no avail. I got disillusioned with BPI, and I promptly looked for another bank with a debit account.
Fortunately, I found that account with Unionbank. It took me about a month and P350, but the cost was worth it. As soon as the account was verified, I hurriedly deposited some cash. Then I had my future website domain name reserved online. It’s currently empty, but it will be up and running as soon as my schedule allows it.
Btw, my new blog would still be using WordPress. It would, however, be a type. I’m done with The purpose* for which stood has been fulfilled for several weeks now. It’s time for me to move to a new blog with a different purpose…

See me on soon.

*That is for a future post…


Repost: Paying it Back for Mang Meliton a.k.a “Mang Milton”

January 9, 2009

This was originally posted from Mike G. Rivera’s Facebook blog. Mike tells us how she encountered a real hero.

Meet Meliton Zamora, a retired University of the Philippines janitor and my hero.

For forty-five years, he swept floors, cleaned up trash, watered plants and did odd jobs at the University.

I met him when I was active with the UP Repertory Company, a theater group based (then) at the third floor lobby of the Arts & Sciences (AS) building. He would sweep and mop the hallway floors in silence, venturing only a nod and a smile whenever I passed him.

Back then, for me he was just one of those characters whom you got acquainted with and left behind as soon as you earned your degree and left the university for some big job in the real world. Someone whose name would probably ring a bell but whose face you’d have a hard time picturing. But for many UP students like me who were hard up and had a difficult time paying their tuition fees, Mang Mel was a hero who gave them the opportunity to finish university and get a big job in the real world.

The year was 1993 and I was on my last semester as a Clothing Technology student. My parents had been down on their luck and were struggling to pay for my tuition fee. I had been categorized as Bracket 9 in the recently implemented Socialized Tuiton and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP). My father had lost his job and to supplement my allowance, I worked part time as a Guest Relations Officer at Sam’s Diner (back when the term GRO didn’t have shady undertones) and took some odd jobs as a Production Assistant, movie extra and wardrobe mistress.

To be eligible for graduation, I had to enroll in my last three courses and pay my tuition fee. Since my parents didn’t have enough money for my matriculation, I applied for a student loan hoping that my one of my Home Economics (HE) professors would take pity on me and sign on as a guarantor for the student loan. But those whom I approached either refused or were not eligible as guarantors. After two unsuccessful weeks of looking for a guarantor, my prospects looked dim, my future dark. And so, there I was, a downtrodden twenty year old with a foggy future, crying in the AS lobby. I only had twenty four hours left to look for a guarantor.

Mang Mel, with a mop in hand, approached me and asked me why I was crying. I told him I had no guarantor for my student loan and will probably not be able to enroll this semester. I had no hopes that he would be able to help me. After all, he was just a janitor. He borrowed my loan application papers and said softly, “Puwede ako pumirma. Empleyado ako ng UP.” He borrowed my pen and signed his name. With his simple act of faith, Mang Mel not only saved my day, he also saved my future.

I paid my student loan the summer after that fateful day with Mang Milton and it has been 15 years since then. I am not filthy rich but I do have a good job in the real world that allows me to support my family and eat three meals a day. A few weeks ago, a friend and UP Professor, Daki, told me that Mang Mel recently recorded an album which he sells to supplement his meager retirement pay, I asked another friend, Blaise, who’s taking his Master’s degree at UP to find out how we could contact Mang Mel. My gesture of gratitude for Mang Mel’s altruism has been long overdue. As fate would have it, my friend saw Mang Mel coming out of the shrubbery from behind the UP library, carrying firewood. He got Mang Mel’s address and promised him that we would come over to buy his album.

Together with Blaise and my husband Augie, I went to pay Mang Mel a visit last Sunday. Unfortunately, he was out doing a little sideline gardening for a UP professor in Tandang Sora. We were welcomed into their home by his daughter Kit. As she pointed out to a laminated photo of Mang Mel on the wall, she proudly told us that her father did retire with recognition from the University. However, she sadly related to us that many of the students whose loans Mang Mel guaranteed neglected to settle their student loans. After forty-five years of service to the University, Mang Mel was only attributed 171 days of work for his retirement pay because all the unpaid student loans were deducted from his full retirement pay of about 675 days. This seems to me a cruel repayment for his kindness.

This is a cybercall to anyone who did not get to pay their student loans that were guaranteed by Mang Mel. Anytime would be a good time to show Mang Mel your gratitude.

Mang Mel is not asking for a dole out, though I know he will be thankful for any assistance you can give. So I ask those of you who also benefited from Mang Meliton’s goodness or for those who simply wish to share your blessings, please do visit Mang Mel and buy his CD (P350 only) at No. 16-A, Block 1, Pook Ricarte, U.P. Campus, Diliman, Quezon City (behind UP International House) or contact his daughter Kit V. Zamora at 0916-4058104.


Wanted: New Heroes

January 8, 2009

Andrea: Unhappy the land that has no heroes.
Galileo: No Andrea. Unhappy is the land that needs heroes.
Bertolt Brecht

The Philippines has its fair share of national heroes who were chosen to inspire the people to become better citizens. It boasts heroes from the intellectual archetype Jose Rizal to Mariano Gomez, one of three priests executed for supporting the Cavite mutiny. Most of these heroes hail from the Spanish colonial period and the war for independence. More recent ones like the women’s rights advocate Josefa Llanes Escoda hail from the American Period to World War 2.
Elementary students are forced to memorize their names along with their achievements, or else they fail. Most of these students forget about them once they finish examinations. More hardy heroes, especially those printed or embossed in currency are remembered mostly by their looks, and rarely by what they did.
Yet these heroes, even though elevated to archetypes, have mostly failed to inspire the docile nation that is the Philippines. Intellectual Jose Rizal is honored only in name. Old woman Tandang Sora’s name is mostly forgotten by widows and spinsters. Paraplegic Apolinario Mabini has failed to awaken the differently abled to national pursuits. Priest Jose Burgos is mostly ignored by the Catholic Church.
Even though the government of the Philippines has officially declared several men and women as heroes; these, however, are not the heroes that its people have set up for themselves. The unofficial heroes are the movie stars, boxers, and every Filipino who has made a name in the international scenario.
Movie stars perceived to be agents of good in the fantasy world of television have been elected to become politicians in the real world. Filipinos who have shown to the world that the Philippines is at par or even better than all the other nations have been elevated to soaring heights in the hearts of those who see them as their heroes.
And in a bid to ensure that the Filipino people be given heroes who can inspire them to become better citizens, the government declared the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) as the “bagong bayani” or new heroes. These new heroes slave away in foreign countries in order to support their families at home.
Yet the elevation of these new heroes is a slap to the sacrifices that the national archetypes represent. The Philippine original national heroes fought against foreign oppression in Philippine soil. Many of these new heroes are now allowing themselves to be oppressed again by foreigners. This time, not in Philippine soil, but in foreign soil.
It should, however, be noted that only their very presence saves the country from bankruptcy. Nevertheless, it is their counter-example of escapism that is threatening to undo the country. Sacrifice for the country is all but forgotten. Sadly, it is their type of heroic example that is being emulated in this country.
The Philippines needs newer and better heroes. The old archetypes have failed to lift the Filipino nation. Many of them were not even worthy examples of nobility and sacrifice. Only the whitewashing of their reputations made them what they are known today. Jose Rizal was a philanderer. Andres Bonifacio was an incompetent general who was murdered by another national hero, Emilio Aguinaldo.
The newer ones do not have a major following. Even the millionaire who frequently lays hold of P1000 bills can’t even name the three heroes printed in them. Ninoy Aquino’s commendable sacrifice was nullified by the advent of the corrupt politicians prevalent in our country today.
The most recent ones, the OFW, although contributing to the economy of the country, do not inspire the Filipino to become more nationalistic. Instead, the Filipino receive them as missionaries to the wonders of foreign countries. Their elevation as national heroes has promoted the culture of escapism in the country. People are no longer inspired to sacrifice for their country when even a fraction of their efforts in foreign soils gives them multiplied earnings.
The Philippines needs new heroes. Yet who can find someone worthy to step into such shoes…


Community Floods

January 6, 2009

Rain had been pelting in Iligan for several days before last Saturday night. I usually don’t care about the weather as long as I am safe inside the house and tucked in for the night. I just hide under my blanket and pillows if it’s too cold, or have my electric fan running all night if it’s too hot. That night, however, I sensed a strange nudging that reminded me about the families assigned to my care in the Tambacan community. I then made a quick prayer, “Lord, protect my families in the community. In Jesus’ name. Amen,” then quickly retreated to sleep.
I only learned later the next day that a tragedy had occurred while I slept. The light rains in Iligan had heavy counterparts in the mountains. Water from these mountains fed rivers and streams, which poured down the city. It was about 3am in the morning when they overflew; and flooded the towns of Bayug, Manuang, and Tambacan.
About 7,840 families were displaced totaling to some 38,674 persons in Northern Mindanao. Cagayan de Oro bore the brunt in terms of property damage and persons affected.
Yesterday, a classmate mentioned that most of the families left their houses during the flash flood. Some of them slept on the highways as the evacuation centers had not yet been opened. Some of these families were also expecting aid from the ones who regularly went to them for “survey”*. A visit to the Barangay Captain** made the situation bleaker, he mentioned that our community was the hardest hit. So it was no wonder that I was prepared for the worst when I stepped inside the community.
Mud paved the dirt road to my families. Children scampered as they played. Well meaning folks told us to go the other way as the usual short cuts were too mushy for stepping. People stared at us as some of us ventured wearing clean, all-white apparel in an environment that stands as a stain reservoir. In short; except for the increased mud volume, the community was just as it was when we left it for the Christmas break. It seemed that the houses were already looking their normal selves, despite the fact that many of them had water reaching their residents’ shoulders 3 days ago.
I went to my families, and was relieved to find that their housing complex still stood strong. Despite the fact that their houses were just beside the river, they were among the few in the area were no water even managed to reach their doors.
They mentioned that the water level in the river rose to the height of the dyke, and was a few inches to their doors. Fortunately, the river stopped rising, and their houses were saved from flood damage.
The same, however, cannot be said for those living below the dyke level. A break*** in the dyke caused water to flow to what should have been protected areas.
As I returned to my classmate’s car, I thanked God for protecting my families. I also prayed that He continue to watch over the community as it seeks to rise from their recent ordeal. I could see that they are hardy enough to withstand future calamities. If only they were given the necessary boosts from the city and from landowners…

*That would be us, medical students.
** The barangay is the basic unit of the Philippine government. It is headed by the barangay captain.
***Residents blame the break on someone with the family name Lluch won’t allow the city government to build a dyke on the land. Either the city government is not offering enough compensation, or the landowner is asking for too much. Yet it is the people who suffer in such battles.

1. Flashfloods hit Iligan City villages
2. Arroyo orders quick aid for flash flood victims in Mindanao
3. Heavy rains, flash floods mark start of New Year
4. Arroyo to visit flood victims in north Mindanao


Vacation Over

January 4, 2009

The Philippines boasts as having the country with the longest Christmas vacation. My holiday vacation started from Dec. 22 and it would end tomorrow: January 5. It goes to follow that today is the last day of that said vacation.
Since it would also be time for me to go out of the house more often, I would also be more exposed to the risk of bombings. So far, the terrorist plots have been repelled. I am praying that God would continue to protect our city from them.
At school tomorrow, I would be greeted by an exam. Btw, I only received more than half of the coverage in study materials just a few hours ago. Perhaps that exam would be postponed tomorrow. I’m hoping the Filipino habit for dispensing grace after the holiday season.
There might not be anything dramatic or extraordinary in this post. This is just my way of telling the world that I’m back from a very long vacation, which included not just rest from school but also rest from blogging*.
SEE YOU AROUND, GUYS! May 2009 be a Happy and Prosperous New Year!!

PS I haven’t written any New Year’s Resolution. I’ll be facing the new year as it goes.

*If not for the Pangandaman incident, I would have had a proper rest from blogging…