Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I am all for exposure to China and the world at any given time and I’m willing to part with my taxes and have it spent on visits to world meetings such as the BOAO Annual Conference which the President just attended. However, a quick look at the delegation list of the Philippines as listed on the BOAO Delegations page surely made my eyebrows cross my forehead all the way to the back. I mean, seriously, there has to be several Luggage Officers included in the delegation? And tell me, I pray, what does a Blanket Carrier do? (Just stating the obvious).

Here’s a quick look at the people that accompanied President Arroyo:

Agusto ADIS Vice President & Resident Manager Philippine Sinter Corporation
Alan Mitchel G BELEN Delegation Luggage & Passport Officer Philippine Government
Alberto G. ROMULO Secretary of Foreign Affairs Government of the Philippines
Alejandre RICAFORTE Doctor Government of the Philippines (Lucky guy!)
Alfonso Yuchengco Honorary Chairman Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation
Alfredo LABRADOR Assistant to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Government of the Philippines
Alicia R. PANGAN Boao Secretariat Philippine Government
Ambrosio Brian F. ENCISO III Principal Assistant, ASPAC Philippine Government
Art A GONZAGA Admin & Logistics Officer Philippine Government
Arthur C. YAP Secretary of Agriculture Government of the Philippines
Bernardita SM. DE JESUS Advance Protocol Officer Philippine Government
Beth AGRAVANTE Private Secretary Government of the Philippines
Beda Sluggo F ELEGADO Signal & Commo Officer Philippine Government
Blanch Joan C GUIBONE Female Close-in Security/Food Tester Philippine Government
Carlos CLET OP-SMADC Government of the Philippines
Carmencita E. DULAY Passport Officer Philippine Government
Carol M. DAQUIAL Advance Protocol Officer Philippine Government
Clarry S FONACIER Close-in Security to PGMA Philippine Government
Daniel R. ESPIRITU Director, ASPAC Philippine Government
Danilo AGUIT Presidential Security Government of the Philippines
Enrico B. RIVERA PSG Liaison Officer Philippine Government
Edgardo H PALMA Operations/Convoy Officer Philippine Government
Edwin C OPENIANO Blanket Carrier Philippine Government
Emmanuel ANG Commercial Attache Government of the Philippines
Erlinda BASILIO Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Government of the Philippines
Ernesto C. CABADING Assistant Luggage Officer Philippine Government
Eufracio MALIG JADC (role ?) Government of the Philippines
Evan P. GARCIA Special Assistant to OSEC Philippine Government
Florencia Celeste DIMACULAGNAN Technical Associate RPDEV
Francis G. Estrada President Asian Institute of Management
Francisco Viray President Trans-Asia Power Generation Corporation
Francisco,Jr. del ROSARIO President/COO Roxas Holdings,INC.
Franklin C LEDESMA Close-in Security/Vest Carrier Philippine Government
Generoso MIRANDA Support Staff Philippine Government
Gideon O NAVARRO Shift Leader/Close-in Security Philippine Government
Gilbert G OBILLO Luggage NCO Philippine Government
Ignacio BUNYE Presidential Spokesman Government of the Philippines
Irineo CORNISTA OP Protocol Government of the Philippines
Jaime B. JAYCO Gifts Officer Philippine Government
Jaime S POCHE TOC & SAP Passport NCO Philippine Government
Jesus A BAUTISTA Billet Security Philippine Government
Jose Jr. Leviste Chairman, President & CEO Mirant Philippines Corporation
Jose Paolo Abaya Vice President & General Manager Isuzu Manila
Joseph CALDERON Close-in Security Government of the Philippines
Leandro MENDOZA Secretary of Transportation and Communications Government of the Philippines
Lily CHUA Interpreter/translator Philippine Government (don't we have an interpreter in China?)
Marciano A. PAYNOR Chief of Presidential Protocol Government of the Philippines
Maria Andrelita AUSTRIA (role?) Philippine Government
Maria Edna S. GAFFUD Executive Assistant to Chairman Ramos Boao Forum for Asia
Maria Elena Algabre MISRAHI (role?) Philippine Government
Maria Josefina CEBALLOS Deputy PA for Foreign Affairs Philippine Government
Marie-Charlotte TANG Second Secretary and Consul Philippine Embassy, Beijing
Mario MALANA Senior Inspector Philippine Government
Milagros S. CRUZ Executive Assistant Philippine Government
Oscar H. RABENA Flight Safety Officer Philippine Government
Peter FAVILA Secretary of Trade and Industry Government of the Philippines
Quirino De LOS SANTOS Presidential Security Government of the Philippines
Rafael del Pilar OIC- President PNOC ¨C Exploration Corporation
Ramon MONTAÑO Consultant San Miguel Corporation
Ralph MAMAUAG Close-in Security Government of the Philippines
Ralph Stephen M. CALDERON Transportation Officer Philippine Government
Reghis II Romero Chairman of the Board R II Builders Inc/Philippine Ecology Systems Corp.
Reginald BERNABE OP Protocol Government of the Philippines
Revimare DE MESA Deputy Chief of Presidential Protocol Philippine Government
Romeo MANALO Assistant Secretary Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs
Romeo PRESTOZA Head of Presidential Security Group Government of the Philippines
Ronnel D MASANGKAY Close-in Security to PGMA Philippine Government
Rose Paz NARVAJA Substantive Secretariat Philippine Government
Sonia C CALIXTO Private Secretary to PGMA Philippine Government
Sonia Cataumber BRADY Ambassador Embassy of the Philippines
Susana D. VARGAS Deputy Executive Secretary for Administration and Finance Philippine Government
Teddy Poul P. DATU Luggage Officer Philippine Government
Usec Francisco BENEDICTO Undersecretary,OP, Visayas,Mindanao Government of the Philippines
Zafrullah G. MASAHUD Executive Director & Coordinating Officer DTI/FTSC Philippine Government

PLEASE tell me we didn’t fly all these people to China for a mere 12-hour visit? Imagine how the list would look like if the 5-day Working Visit would have pushed through! How many luggage officers does a working visit need? And close-in security officers?

Sabagay, panis yan lahat sa isang interesting delegate title from Pakistan:

Tariq-ul-Hassan MEHDI Gunman Pakistan Government

Panalo, ‘di po ba?


There was nothing to do at work last night. In my account, there were only 5 people (I’m the 5th) working and there was nothing for me to audit. I ended up reading the newspapers online (which I do ever day anyway). I got sidelined by one article which provided a link to Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell’s (God bless her soul!) blog and that got me reading for the next half hour. Very heartbreaking. I don’t know what she did to deserve such a violent death. I really hope it wasn’t murder, although from all angles it does look like it is one. Tragic and sad. The thought that she had only 7-8 months left before she goes back home to Hawaii just takes that cake. I hope they resolve the case as soon as possible.

Another thing that got me teary eyed was the death of Paolo de Castro, the pilot of the ill-fated Cessna which crashed into Merville the other day. The news say that all the air control tower people could do was to watch – in horror, naturally - the plane nose dive into the subdivision. What makes this crash different was the 30ish pilot made sure he didn’t hit any of the houses (he just nipped the top of a tree) and even avoided the pens of roosters in a nearby empty lot. What presence of mind! But why did he have to die?

Death has a way of making its presence felt lately. I am looking at my beloved yaya’s face last night and I can sense that I will lose her very soon. She is terribly fat and has difficulty breathing. I am always in fear that I’d just go home one day and find her dead in her bed or have fallen down the stairs (she has slipped many times before and hit her head – or so she claims). I am so filled with dread. If I lose her, I will have lost everything by then. All my past will have been erased. What will I do without her?

It was terrible watching her in grief when Mom died in her room. What made her feel bad was that Mom went before she did. My yaya used to sell empty bottles and old newspapers when we were still in Davao. Mom couldn’t make ends meet despite her being a School Head Mistress and doing a sideline coaching students in Chinese after school. My yaya has been with the family since she was 18 years old, never married (at least not that I know of). She was hired during the good ol’ days when Lolo was still alive and there was a lot to go around. Well, that was when the university was doing well. After Lolo’s death and a protracted legal battle in court which claimed the life of an uncle (my Mom’s older brother, the mathematician who was known to do formulas on tissue paper while in the toiler), we were left with nothing but what we had on our backs plus a painting and a huge Buddha statue.

Yaya was with us when we went home to Lola in Pampanga. The homecoming was nothing of the happy sort because we went home to see her get buried. You can say that Death has a way with things. He is trying to be amusing when he isn’t.

Yaya left us to work for another Chinese family (the one that produced that famous Shoktong (?) wine) and she would visit me every Sunday to bring me toys and watch a movie in San Fernando (I saw Return of the Jedi with her). She came back to us only in 2005 when she couldn’t already endure the suffering she had with a Filipino family in Mexico, Pampanga. She was denied food and her salary yet she had to work like any other house help.

She was teary-eyed and hugged me when we said yes, we’d take her back. She was family after all. The day she went home to us in Las Piñas must have been the happiest day of her life. I looked at the cab’s mirror to see her lying back comfortably on the backseat enjoying the trip. My, she’s grown so old, too. Much beyond her years, I’m afraid. There’s something about hard, menial work that takes away so many years from one’s face. To think she and Mom are only of the same age.

Many times, she would tell me during lunch that she’d never have the food we have at home if she was still staying with that family in Mexico. “They’d hide food from me”, she said. “If your Aunt would give me bags of groceries and they’d accost me and ask me what I have in those bags, I’d say that I went out to do my groceries. Inggit sila sa akin!” I would rub her broad back and mess up her hair and gently remind her to slow down because she’s growing fatter by the day. She’s so crazy over ripe mangoes. Mom would scold her a lot before because she’d end up coughing when she eats mangoes. Anyway, who am I to deny her her simple pleasures?

My only wish now is that she could see her siblings before it’s too late (“Gusto ko lang sila makita pero ‘di ako sasama sa kanila. Uuwi pa rin ako sa iyo.”). Honestly, I am at a loss as to how to go about this. It’s a toss between Leyte and Davao and I wouldn’t have any idea where to start. I am tempted to write GMA7 for this (Mom thumbed down the idea when she was alive because our family history might be ‘maungkat’. Oh, you know how these networks are. The things they do to make people cry on their show. Tears = better ratings.) One of these days, I just might. I have tons of things on my to-do list right now and as of this writing, to tell you honestly, my father hasn’t been informed of Mom’s death. How cool is that?!

Anyway, many times I have found myself whispering to my Yaya not to leave me. She said she never would and she’d lean on me. The image of a fat Yaya-Alaga duo surely ain’t a pretty sight but we’ve had a long history together.

I really hope she can stay forever. I love her so much.

Happy birthday, Nana Noning!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


I've honestly forgotten where I ate this. It's a resto in Cagayan de Oro. Thanks to contributor GP for posting the photo of this monster of a dessert. God forbid the day day I ever eat one again. At any rate, it's very very good (I do love ice cream cakes) but a ball this small can actually feed (note the word feed) 4 people! It's too rich it's beyond description. I rest my case.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


"What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though, by your smiling, you seem to say so."

- Hamlet, scene ii

I was in Cagayan de Oro lately to visit the house there and prepare it for the next couple who'd be renting it for a year. I also took time to see Mom's friends and thank those who sent flowers, cards and offered prayers. As for the rest, I had to recount - albeit too painfully - the circumstance of her passing. I hate having to do this.

Anyway, while cleaning the house, I came upon a set of human bones - yes, real ones! - which I recall we "borrowed" from medical school many years back and which we (conveniently) "forgot" to return. Mom has nicknamed the skull, Yurik, and lights a candle for it every November 1. As for the rest of the bones, they seem to me like a mismatch from different people - or whatever was left of them anyway.

I am at a loss as to how to deal with these. Bury them in the garden, perhaps? Any smart ideas?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Photo taken at the Mango Farm after Milenyo. By Dylan Gozum.

March 16 was the 40th day since Mom passed away. I cannot beg off from the custom of having to commemorate it because family members kept on asking about the preparations, etc. So off we went to Antipolo in my Aunt's house - the one Mom wanted to visit but never had the chance to - for a whole day of praying and filming a documentary broken only by a hefty lunch, courtesy of Aunt Imma (thanks so much for this!).

Since my Uncle and my cousin worked / work, respectively, in ABS CBN, it was only natural that anything that had to do with film or a camera would have to be done. We spent the entire afternoon filming messages from relatives, mostly Mom's sisters and brothers. I was the last one and I didn't cry as much as I was afraid I would which is good, I think. At least something happy came out of all this.

Also, I think the whole exercise was very good because everybody finally had the chance to speak up unlike during the wake when we hardly said anything to each other. That was because of the shock everyone felt more than anything else. This time, tears fell along with words and memories were unlocked from years of being kept in the far recesses of the mind.

We had a quick recap and meeting afterwards and I ended the whole affair by making three reminders: 1.) Never fail to say good things to each other while we're still around to hear them; 2.) Never pass up the chance to attend all family gatherings; and 3.) That all Mom's blood sisters and their daughters must undergo checkup and mammography before the year ends. I wouldn't want anyone else the family to go through this harrowing experience ever again because one, we cannot afford it and two, it's too much to bear.

The thing with sickness and death is that it can break a person's spirit - and it can raise it as well. It really depends on how fast one can move on. Right now, I've been having blank stare spells and while in Cagayan de Oro last week, I missed my stop twice because I was, well, blank.

We light candles at Mom's altar every day, round the clock thinking she's still with us. Once, while in bed, I texted her number half expecting she'd reply. I have so many things I want to tell her but I couldn't anymore. When something comes up, I wanted to text her about it ASAP like I used to but I remember and I stop myself.

Am I okay? Yes, I am. I think.

Let's not worry until we have to.