Seven Years

Seven years ago:

1. The original iPad was introduced by Apple. This revolutionized our use of tablet computers.

2. The tallest man-made structure, Burj Khalifa in Dubai was officially opened. It remains the tallest building to this day.

3. The XXI winter Olympics was held in Vancouver, Canada. One of the highlights was Canada beat USA for the gold medal, in an overtime game, in men’s ice hockey.

4. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake occured in Haiti, devastating the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince. With a confirmed death toll of over 316,000, it is the seventh deadliest on record.

5. Toy Story 3 was the top grossing movie of the year. It earned more than $1 Billion worldwide.

6. The commercial space flight project SpaceX successfully launched its Dragon capsule. This became the first privately created spacecraft to successfully return from low-Earth orbit.

7. The blog Pinoy Transplant In Iowa was launched. Though it is not as earth-shaking as the events I mentioned above, yet it is significant for me. This blog is still going strong.

I read in an article some time ago that the average life span of even a top blogsite is only 33.8 months. That is less than 3 years! It is also reported that the average life span of a blog is short, as 60-80% of bloggers abandon their blog within a month. I must be doing something right then.

I know we humans have a short attention span. We lose interest quite quickly. We may be engrossed in one thing today, but tomorrow we will be off to chase some other fancies.

Even in television shows, a TV series reports that most of the show even if they are a hit, last 4-5 seasons. After season 6 it is on a decline. And 7th year is like the zombie years. I hope that will not be the fate of this blog.

Last year, this blog site was visited more than 50,000 times, just like the year before. Though Philippines has most of the hits, with America a far second, this blog has been read in more than 130 countries. I am really humbled and grateful to all of you my readers (majority are not bloggers) who continue to visit this site.

I hope I can stay relevant, as I continue to blog away. I know I have not earned a single dollar from maintaining this site, and I intend to keep it that way, as your visits, likes and comments are enough to keep me going.

Again to all of you, thank you very much.

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Kurot, Pingot, at Tsinelas

Kung ikaw ay nakaranas na makurot, mapingot, at ma-tsinelas noong bata ka, ay sigurado akong alam mo na kung ano ang tatalakayin ng sulating ito. Hindi ko ikinakaila, ngunit hindi ko rin naman ipinagyayabang na naranasan ko ang kurot, pingot, at tsinelas. Siguro nga ay makulit talaga ako noong bata.

Iba’t iba ang pamamaraan ng pagpapalaki at pagdidisiplina ng mga bata. Mayroong mga naniniwala sa palo. Sabi nga ng isang salawikain, “spare the rod, and spoil the child.” Sangayon din sa banal an kasulatan: Siyang naguurong ng kaniyang pamalo ay napopoot sa kaniyang anak: nguni’t siyang umiibig ay nagpaparusang maminsan-minsan (Prov. 13:24).

Mayroon din namang hindi sangayon na paluin ang mga bata. Sa katunayan ay may malaking debate ngayon kung dapat ba o hindi dapat paluin ang bata. Maraming mga pag-aaral at pagsasaliksik sa ngayon ang nagsasabing hindi raw epektibo ang pamamalo sa bata, at marahil ito lamang ay nakakasama sa kanilang pag-unlad.

Kamakailan lamang ay may panukalang batas sa Pilipinas na isinampa at pumasa sa Kamara, ang House Bill 4907, o ang tinaguriang ‘Positive Discipine Act’. Ito ay nagbabawal sa mga marahas na pamamaraan ng pagdidisiplina sa mga bata, kasama na rito ang pamamalo sa tahanan man o eskwelahan. Sa aking pagkakaalam ay hindi pa ito pumapasa ng Senado.

Dito sa Amerika, ay may karapatan pa rin naman ang mga magulang na paluin ang kanilang mga anak. Ngunit may mga limitasyon na iba’t iba sa bawat Estado. Maraming mga magulang dito ang nagdadalawang isip na paluin ang kanilang mga anak dahil maari silang isumbong sa pulisya at sampahan ng pang-aabuso.

Totoo naman talaga na ang pagpalo bilang pagdidisiplina at pagpalo bilang pag-aabuso sa mga bata ay makitid na linya lamang ang pagitan. Marami akong mga naririnig sa balita na may mga batang sadya namang naabuso at sinaktan sa ngalan ng “disiplina.” Ngunit akin pa ring pinapaniwalaan na walang magulang na nasa tamang pag-iisip ang gustong saktan o bugbugin ang kanilang sariling anak.

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Balik tayo sa aking mga naranasan noong ako’y bata pa.

Ang kurot at pingot ay kalimitan mga “spur of the moment” na parusa na aking napala. Pero paminsan -minsan ay winawarningan naman ako ng aking nanay – “Pag-hindi ka umayos ay kurot ang aabutin mo.” Malimit ang kurot ay sa tagiliran o sa singit. Ang pingot, sa aking pagkakaalam ay sa tenga lang. Pinipingot din ba ang ilong? Kung ganoon, sana naging matangos na ako ngayon.

Ang palo naman ay kadalasan planado na sentensiya. Pinapahupa muna ng aking nanay at tatay ang kanilang galit, bago kami padapain at paluin. Karaniwan sang-ayon sa bigat ng kasalanan kung gaano karami ang hampas. Sa puwet o sa hita madalas ang palo. Maari rin naman sa kamay.

Tsinelas ang madalas na pamalo ng mga magulang. Ang gamit ng nanay ko ay pambahay na tsinelas, kaya medyo malambot lang ang hagupit. Kahit pa ba mumurahing tsinelas, o deklaseng  yari sa Marikina, o imported pa na tsinelas, ay wala sigurong tunay na pagkakaiba. Buti na lang at hindi nagsusuot ng bakya ang aking nanay! Masakit kayang mapalo ng bakya?

Kung tatay naman ang mamamalo, ay maaaring sinturon ang gagamitin. Malimit ay leather belt, gaya ng balat ng kalabaw o baka, kaya medyo mataginting ang sakit. Natikman ko rin na masinturon ng aking tatay. Hindi ko na matandaan ang aking kasalanan, pero alam ko lagi kong pinapaiyak ang aking nakababatang kapatid noon, kaya siguro ako nasinturon. Mapalad ka kung hindi nagsusuot ng sinturon ang tatay mo. Pero kung walang sinturon, ay baka naman dos por dos ang ipanghambalos. Lalong mas masakit yata iyon.

Hindi lamang sa bahay, ngunit kahit sa paaralan, ay may mga guro na namamalo bilang pagdidisiplina sa kanilang estudyante. Hindi naman ako napalo noong ako’y nasa paaralan  na, dahil medyo matino na ako noon. Pero napagalitan at naparusahan lang ako ng kaunti nang makipag-away ako noong Grade 2. Nakipagsapakan ako dahil lang sa jolens!

May naging titser din kami na madalas mamalo. Kahoy na ruler ang gamit nitong pamalo. Isang araw, isang makulit kong kaklase ang naglagay ng cardboard sa loob ng kanyang shorts, dahil alam niyang papaluin siya. Lumagutok ang cardboard ng paluin na siya! Lalong nagalit ang aming guro, at sa hita na lang siya hinagupit at naparami pa yata ang palong inabot niya.

Noong Grade 4 naman kami, ang titser namin ay isang matandang dalaga na talaga namang “old school.” Mayroon pa nga siyang maliit na sandbox sa sulok ng aming classroom, na butil ng munggo ang laman. Dito pinapaluhod niya ang mga estudyanteng pasaway. Sa aking pagkakatanda, ay isa lang naman na kaeswela ko ang pinaluhod sa munggo. Kung si Sharon Cuneta ay may pelikula na “Bukas, Luluhod ang mga Tala,” ang aking kaeswela ay starring sa “Bukas, Luluhod ang mga Munggo.”

May mga narinig din akong mga guro na nambabatok. Pero wala naman akong guro na gumagawa nito. Kasi sabi nila nakakabobo raw kapag binabatukan ka, dahil maaring maalog ang utak. Iyon ang sabi-sabi noong bata pa ako. Alam na kaya nila noon ang tungkol sa concussion protocol?

Bilang isang magulang ay namalo rin naman kaming mag-asawa sa aming mga anak. Ngunit napakadalang lang nito at parang tapik lamang, dahil nadadaan naman ang pagdidisiplina sa ibang pamamaraan. Katunayan, mas namamalo ang aking misis kaysa sa akin. Gamit namin ay maliit na tangkay ng halaman (twig). Malambot ito, at tama lang na umigting sa balat kapag pinalo.

Noong maliit pa ang aming mga anak, minsan ay nawala at hindi namin makita kung saan napunta ang aming “pamalo.” Nakita namin ito ilang araw ang lumipas na nakasuksok sa si likod ng pantry. Isang beses din ay nakita namin ang “pamalo” na bali-bali at nasa basurahan. Umamin din naman ‘yung aming bunso na siya ang may kagagawan noon. Katwiran niya, para hindi raw siya mapalo. Matalinong bata!

Para sa akin hindi mahalaga kung ano man ang gamit mong pamalo: maging kamay, tsinelas, sinturon, o tangkay ng puno. Ang mahalaga ay ang kasamang pagmamahal na kaakibat ng iyong pagdidisiplina sa kanila. Sa mga magulang na tulad ko, namamalo man kayo o hindi, ang mas importante pa rin ay ang mapagmahal na relasyon ninyo sa inyong mga anak.

Oo nga’t natsinelas ako ng aking nanay, at nasinturon ng aking tatay. Ngunit hindi ko na matandaan ang sakit ng mga iyon. Dahil ang akin lamang natatandaan ay ang kanilang pagmamalasakit at pagmamahal sa akin at sa aming magkakapatid.

Kung hindi nila ako dinisiplina noon, anong landas kaya ang aking tinahak? At saan kaya ako pupulutin ngayon?

Pinapasalatan ko pa rin ang mga kurot, pingot, at tsinelas.

 

 

New Year, Old Receipts, and Memories

It was New Year’s Day. I woke up early even though I stayed up late the previous night and spent it with the company of friends, and did not sleep until past midnight to welcome the arrival of 2017.

What’s up with me? Even how late I stayed up the night before, I still wake up early the next morning. I think it is how I’m wired or just how I was trained – to wake up before the sun goes up. Though that morning, it was past 6 already, yet it was still dark. It was a Sunday too. No work, and no place I needed to go.

But since I couldn’t sleep anymore, I got out of bed, and searched for something to do. Besides, it is a new year, so better start it right. Plus in the Chinese calendar, this year is the year of the rooster. So we really should be getting up early like the rooster, right? Maybe I should have started crowing cock-a-doodle-doo or tik-ti-la-ok (that’s what Filipino rooster sounds like) to wake up the whole neighborhood.

I thought of cleaning up and vacuuming the house, but my wife and kids were still asleep, so I looked for something to do that was more quiet and muted. I found myself in the office room, where the computer and the file box of bill statements were, and decided to do the bills.

What better way to start a new year, than paying debts and doing bills?

Even though I do my bills on-line, I still keep paper bills and receipts on file. As my storage box was already bursting with old bill statements and receipts, I knew I had to get rid of some of the old ones to make room for the new.

As I was looking through the files and files of old bills, I came across the receipt and paperwork of our very first family car here in America. It was a second-hand Honda with about 50,000 miles mileage. We bought that car after I finished my training and after landing a real job. That was 17 years ago and we were still living in Florida at that time.

Having only one car at that time, and with no good public transportation system where we live, my wife and my daughter, a toddler at that time, would go with me when I go to work in the morning. They would wait in the car at the parking lot while I do my hospital rounds. From the hospital we will drive to my clinic and drop me off there. Then my wife would take the car to go wherever they needed to go, and just pick me up later in the afternoon. That way they will not be housebound the whole day, plus my wife could also do some errands like grocery shopping.

When we moved to Iowa in the middle of a harsh winter, we were ill prepared to drive in the snow, sleet and ice. And one snowy morning I ended up driving, I mean slipping, into a ditch that the car needed to be extricated. That was when I decided to trade-in our old Honda, and got myself a car with an all-wheel drive that can frolic in the snow.

While sorting old receipts, I also dug out a hospital bill from Scottsdale Arizona, issued about a decade ago. I attended a medical conference in that city, and brought my whole family along.

While in Arizona, my son who was 3 at that time, started to breathe heavily. He then also started to wheeze, that I could hear even without a stethoscope. Being a trained lung specialist, I knew that there was something wrong. That was the first time we learned that he has asthma, and that he was having a bad asthma attack.

We brought him to the nearby hospital. Not long after, he was given a nebulizer treatment (asthma medicine given via mist) in the Emergency Room. While the nebulizer was being administered with a “cute” pediatric oxygen mask that was shaped like a dinosaur snout, my son was crying. I asked him if he was in pain or if the treatment was bothering him, but that was not it.

When I continued to query what was wrong, he finally said, “It’s purple!”  He was referring to the “cute” oxygen mask that he thought was for girls. That was also the first time we learned that he does not like purple, nor does he like Barney.

I also found from my file box, stacks of old receipts from the gas company, including our very first one when they initially filled the propane gas tank of our house here in Iowa. We have gas tanks (LPG cylinders) too, when I was still living in the Philippines, but the gas tank we have here in Iowa is bigger. Much, much bigger.

Since we live beyond the outskirts of town, there are no gas pipe connection from the city to our home. So we have a large (up to 1000 gallons) underground gas tank, which needed to be filled regularly. Propane gas heats our home during winter, and powers the boiler for hot water. Even our fireplace is propane powered. Where we live, people could endure summers without air-conditioning, but would not survive winters without heaters.

When I was growing up in Manila, I wondered how could Santa Claus dropped by in a house without a chimney? I could have not thought that one day, I would be living in a house with a fireplace and a chimney, even though I don’t believe in Santa anymore. I could have not thought that winters could be this bitterly cold as well.

Even though gas was important for us, I am sure though that it was not just propane gas that kept us warm. In our home, the embers of love is much more important than the furnace and the fireplace. We have spent 12 happy winters in this house, and counting.

I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I have not noticed that the sun was already way up in the horizon. Who would imagine that a file box of bills would be such a treasure trove of nostalgia and memories?

Despite the sentimentality associated with them, I still have to make room in the file box for the new ones. Just like facing a new year – out with the old and on with the new. So I took out the old and outdated receipts, and toss them through the paper shredder.

As for the memories, I am keeping them.

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Chasing Sunrise

Today is winter solstice. That means here in the northern hemisphere, this day has the shortest daylight hours, and tonight will be the longest night. Where I live right now here in Iowa, it will be almost 15 hours of darkness tonight. Though in Barrow, the northernmost town in Alaska, they don’t see the sun for 67 days in the winter. I’m sure the next sunrise will be much-anticipated after such a very long night.

I like to see the sunrise. Many people do. Somehow for me, there’s something magical to this daily event. There’s something more than just a spectacle.

Few summers ago when we went to Grand Canyon in Arizona, we were told not to miss the chance to see the sunrise there, as it has a peculiar appeal. That entails we have to wake up before four in the morning (sunrise during summer time is just a little past 5), drive to the advised “best” viewing area, which was almost an hour away from where we were staying, just to capture the grandeur of the sunrise.

Was it worth it? Definitely!

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watching the sunrise

When I was young, my father encouraged me to take running for my exercise and as a form of sports. If you know Manila, with its heat and smog, the only tolerable time to run is early in the morning. That is just before the sunrise.

So my dad and I would weave our way in the dark streets of Sampaloc, running in the morning, while the rest of the neighborhood were still snoring. It was not a long run, perhaps 2 kilometers or so. Though the roosters were already crowing, and some dogs may already be up and would bark as we pass through.

My father told me that during this time of the day, the only people we would encounter in the streets were good and hard-working people, who were trying to get a head start of the day. Sure enough, we would see newspaper boys delivering their stocks, vendors preparing their goods, and other folks scuttling their way to work even before the sun rises.

Back when I was in highschool, my family ventured into the business of bangus (milkfish) farming. We leased a small area in Laguna de Bay, where we have erected a fish pen to raise the bangus. Though that business of ours only lasted less than 2 years as we barely broke even, just enough to pay what we borrowed.

During one occasion, I accompanied my father to buy the bangus fingerlings from a fish nursery somewhere in Pasig or Pateros, I don’t really remember. I was 13 or 14 years old at that time. These fingerlings were what we would place and grow in our fish pen.

We left our home in Sampaloc, Manila around 3 o’clock in the morning to commute, so we could be at the fish nursery way before the sunrise. After purchasing the bangus fingerlings, which were smaller than my pinkie, we then travelled with our hundreds of fingerlings aboard a large banca (pump boat), via the Pasig River into Laguna de Bay.

As we approached to enter Laguna de Bay in our rented banca, the sun was just peeping in the horizon. It was one of the most glorious sunrises I could remember. And it’s not that we were even vacationing or sitting idly on the beach. In fact, my father and I were working.

I know there are more hard-working people, like the taho vendor who have to get his supply around 4 or 5 in the morning so he could sell them that day. Or the baker who needs to get up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare and bake the bread, including our favorite pan de sal. Or the flower vendors of Quiapo who have to get their merchandise from Dangwa, way before the crack of dawn. Or the palengke vendors of Divisoria and Baclaran, and other markets for that matter, having to haul their merchandise very early in the morning. Or the jeepney drivers already plying the streets of Metro Manila before daylight. These people are continually chasing sunrise.

And it’s not just in the Philippines, but all over the world, there are men, women, and even young kids, who are already up and working before the first ray of sunlight appears in the sky. To them greeting the sunrise is more than just a spectacle. It is their means to survive.

To all sunrise chasers out there, I salute you. May all your labors bring you what you’re pursuing in this life. And may you all have a very good day!

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view of the sunrise from our place

 

(*written after reading an entry of a fellow Filipino blogger)