Last weekend we shed life’s conveniences and spent some time in the wild. We went camping.


For three nights we slept in a tent. But before you think it was really miserable and uncomfortable, it was not. We have camping cots, so we did not have to sleep on the ground. We also have comfortable sleeping bags, blankets and pillows.

We did not go hungry as well, for we did not have to forage for something to eat in the forest or hunt for some wild game. We have canned goods and packed foods in our coolers. We even have propane powered stove and oven to cook our food. Though we build an open fire to keep us warm and for real “camping-feel.” In addition, we have to roast our marshmallows for the s’mores in the camp fire, of course.

Furthermore, we did not have to dig a latrine, for there was a modern bathroom facility with several toilet and shower stalls. And with heated running water!

You may argue that what we did was not really camping, but “glamping” – glamorous camping.

However, there’s one life’s convenience or some may even consider this a necessity nowadays, that was not available in the campsite. What is it?

There was no cellular phone signal there. It was a dead zone.

For three days, I have no use of my smart phone, except to take photos. No phone calls, no text messages, no e-mails, no Facebook, no news feed, no Google, no ability to check NBA scores, and no access to my blog. Nothing, nada, zilch.

In this current age, we are so wired up that we have connection with people around us and even people in the opposite side of the world. Phone call, texting, Facetime or Skype has been part of our everyday life now. I am finding out that nowadays courting has been reduced to video chat and sending text messages. What happened to the formal home visit, bringing flowers and asking the girl’s parents if they can meet?

I am not saying that this is bad, as it has made our world smaller. This technology has been a lifeline for families that have loved ones working overseas. Skype, Facetime, or any form of video chat is definitely a boon for them.

With the internet available almost anywhere whether thru Wi-Fi or cellular signal, we have access to any information we need. I remember the days we have to go to the library and search for the facts and data we want. Today, we have that instantly at our fingertips that I am not sure our present society will survive without this technology.

But I survive without a phone signal and internet for 3 long days. Proving we can live without it. The only connection I had there was with people around me in the “here and now.” You may say that we were isolated from the outside world, but there was plenty of interaction and connection in those days we were on the camp.

Where we went was a camporee. My wife and I volunteered to join my son’s club as supervising adults. There were 25 other youth clubs, and more than 300 people in that camp. So there’s a great deal of communicating and socializing. Though not by Facebooking or texting.


some young people leading the worship service

Yet we did have some “long distance” interaction while we were in the camp. We witnessed the mighty sun as it sets by the lakeside and it was gorgeous. We marveled at the distant bright stars above us at night. Moreover, we had quiet communing with the Creator who surrounded us with these beautiful nature, who by the way, is really nearer than we think.

I believe we should be spending more time unplugged.

(*photos taken with an iPhone) 


Nabulid sa Dilim

“Ang bituin at araw niya’y kailan pa ma’y di magdidilim.”

Iyan ang pahayag ng ating Pambansang Awit. Ngunit sa mga nakaraang araw, ang mga larawan (Facebook avatar) ng aking mga kaibigang Pilipino ay isa-isang nagdidilim. Ito ay bilang protesta sa kontrobersyal na bagong batas na kinatatakutang unti-unting sasakmal sa liwanag ng kalayaan sa aking bayang sinilangan.

May batayan nga ba ang mga pangambang ito? Sumisikat ba o lumulubog ang araw sa lupang nasa silanganan?

Sa huling tagpo ng nobelang Noli Me Tangere, ay matatagpuan si Elias na nag-aagaw buhay. Siya ay humarap sa madilim na silangan dahil hindi pa maaninag ang sikat ng araw. Dito niya sinambitla, “Mamamatay akong hindi nakikita ang ningning ng bukang-liwayway sa aking bayan! Kayong makakakita, salubungin ninyo siya, at huwag kalilimutan ang mga nabulid sa dilim ng gabi.”

Saan na kaya ang bukang-liwayway na kanyang hinihintay?

Not In Facebook

Facebook. Who does not do Facebook? (If you are reading this, the chances are you have an account, right?)

It is estimated that 7% of the human world population uses Facebook. That’s remarkable considering that about 25% of the world’s population is under 14 years of age and not even old enough to use Facebook (but they do anyway), and about 70% of the world has no internet access. So if you do the math, everybody who can, has an account. Even pets (maybe they need social networking too). And every business has a Facebook page, even the small corner sari-sari store.

Facebook has revolutionized how we live and how we get connected. Which in some ways are good, but in some ways are bad.

Some people put too much personal information in their profile (their full name, address, birthdate, telephone number, and even their suking tindahan) making them at risk for identity theft. Some even announce their stupid plans, like when they call-in sick for work just to have a good time. And then they are surprised how their employer found them out? Or some post who they are mad with or in fight with. Do we really need to broadcast those sensitive things? Sometimes I learn friends’ change in status from being married to complicated, or who are they not ‘friends’ with anymore. And I don’t have the guts to ask why.

But I confess, some wall posts are interesting and informational. And some are just truly inspiring.

Last month, Facebook announced that it will launch ‘Timeline’ which is like a scrapbook in reverse chronological order of what we post and who we are. It is essentially a digital record of one’s life. I still don’t know what to expect from this. I guess it will be wait and see.

As I look into my own Facebook profile and my friends’ profiles, I come to think: is the essence of our existence being reduced to events we attended, or places we visited, or friends we have?

I know when my time will pass and my memory starts to fade, what I will cherish is not the photos I have in front of the Statue of Liberty, or when I attended a famous celebrity’s concert, or my picture in front of the Eiffel Tower. Oh I forgot, I’ve never been to Paris (yet).

What I will cherish are the more poignant moments, like having home cook dinner with my wife, or reading a bedtime story with my kids, or having a patient’s family say thank you, even if the patient that I took care of, died.

And those moments are not even captured on camera, nor posted in Facebook.

Writing on the Wall


Nanay: “Anak, ayaw kong lagi mong ini-invite ang iyong mga friends dito sa atin.”


Nanay: “Anak, bakit ayaw mo akong i-invite as FB friend?”



Nanay: “Totoy, don’t write on our wall. Makikita ng aking mga amiga, nakakahiya.”


Totoy: “Nay, don’t write on my wall. Makikita ng FB friends ko, nakakahiya.”


Kumpare #1: “Pare, ayaw na yata sa akin ng misis ko.”

Kumpare #2: “Bakit mo naman nasabi ‘yan p’re.”

Kumpare #1: “Kasi, pinalitan n’ya yung status n’ya sa FB as ‘it’s complicated’ eh. Tapos naka-tag ako.”

Kumpare #2: “Baka may tampo lang sa ‘yo.”

Kumpare #1: “Hindi eh. Kasi naka-tag din ‘yung ex-boyfriend n’ya!”

Social Isolation

During our last trip, in a layover airport, while waiting to board in our connecting flight: here’s a snapshot of what I witnessed….

The terminal boarding gate was jam-packed with people. Almost all the seats were occupied. People were standing around, crowding the gate and hallways. Some were sitting on the floor as there were no more seats, and some were even lying (they must have been on a red-eye flight) on the ground. Perhaps some had several minutes to wait, while some had hours to kill. The minutes always seems slower in an airport terminal.

Aside from waiting to board the plane, there was also one thing that all were doing. They were either talking or texting on their phones, or typing or chatting on their laptops or tablets.

It is amazing that with our current technology, people can stay connected even how far away we are from home. We can speak, text messages, or on-line chat with our friends on the other parts of the world, even if they are in the international space station, and is literally out of this world. We even have virtual ‘friends’ in our Facebook, where we update them of our status (yes, even what we had for lunch) almost every minute. Or we can tweet messages and broadcast our thoughts (like in world domination) to the world. Or, like me, I can post something in my blog, and people whom I have never met can read and drop me a comment. These are people I would have never known otherwise, except through the wonders of the worldwide network.

I found an empty seat (a rare find!) and sat between two strangers. I pulled out the i-Pad, which we brought, mostly for the entertainment of ours kids during the long flight. I got busy too, checking on my ‘friends’. Sometimes I would lift my head and look around to the people around me, but all of them were absorbed, busy talking, and with their ear on the receiver of their phone, or their eyes transfixed on the glowing screen of their phone or computer, and their fingers preoccupied typing.

Then, a thought hit me. All these people cramped in one room, were all engaged in talking and communicating…….but not to each other.

Isn’t it ironic that the network that keeps us connected, also makes us isolated.


* (above image from here)

Signs of the Times: Noon at Ngayon


Nanay: Anak, heto ang pad, para pang-scratch mo.


Nanay: Anak, akin na ‘yang i-pad, baka ma-scratch mo.


Nanay: Anak, tama na ‘yang pag-tatambay mo sa labas. It’s time to face your books. Pumasok ka na.


Nanay: Anak, tama na ‘yang pag-fe-facebook mo. Lumabas ka naman.


Nanay: Anak, tama na ‘yang paglalaro mo sa bukid. Patingin nga ng notebook mo, at simulan mo na ‘yang assignment mo.


Anak: Nay, tama na po ‘yang paglalaro n’yo ng Farmville. Akin na po ‘yang Notebook ko at sisimulan ko na ang assignment ko.