Are We Really Free?

A happy Monday morning, everyone!

And to all my countrymen:  Happy 119th Philippine Independence Day!

My regular blog post should have been published yesterday but since today we will be celebrating the anniversary of Philippine Independence, I decided to postpone publishing and cover our own local celebration of the said event.

Before the program started, of course, people were still milling around in their gorgeous Filipiniana attires, the city officials and department heads of local offices posing for posterity while the various sectors in their uniforms waited for the program to start.

The program started at around 7:30 in the morning with the entrance of colors, which means the entrance of the Philippine flag and the banner of the city.  

This was followed by the offering of flower wreath at the center of the public plaza, in front of the flag pole, by the City Mayor, Vice Mayor together with the Filipino World War II Veteran President of the city.

The twelve Philippine revolutionary flags followed, escorted by the twelve Sanggunian Panlungsod Members, and paraded up the stage, their brilliant red color so vibrant to represent the bravery and boldness of the Filipino soldiers in their fight for freedom against the Spanish oppression of that time.

Wreaths, pots and bouquets of flowers were also offered under the monuments of the two Philippine heroes the city honors, Andres Bonifacio and Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

The city officials then marched up the city hall’s balcony to reenact the first-ever Independence Day Celebration held in Cawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

The program ended after a dance presentation by the city representatives to the Panaad Folk Dance competition and by a young maiden singing “Ako ay Filipino”.

Every year, every local government units, anywhere in the Philippines try to recreate the spirit of patriotism evoke by the first celebration of the Philippine Independence and try to enliven the occasion and impart the values of such event in the younger generations.

Yet, with or without the sad events still happening in Marawi, are we really free?

With all our talks about freedom, aren’t we still bounded by some ideas that limit us from experiencing it totally?  Or aren’t we limited by our inhibitions to embrace the changes that comes with the times?  Or aren’t we afraid to accept the consequences brought by grasping it with both hands for fighting for it might mean giving up our everything for it?

Fighting for our freedom does not always mean taking up arms and walking up and down the streets shouting for it.  

Our everyday thoughts and actions, our efforts and struggles, towards liberation from pangs of hunger and escape from the shackles of poverty, are also embodiments of our continuing fight for freedom.  

We might say we are already a Republic, a democratic country freed from dominion of other countries, but still, our existence is a continuous struggle not only from domination of powerful countries who continuously try to plunder our natural resources but also from the debilitating effects of corruption for the past several decades.

Freedom has its many faces.  And our struggle to keep it can also vary in many ways.

Even within our ownselves, an inner struggle continues.  We wish to fight our tendencies to bury ourselves underneath seemingly unimportant desires for lavish spendings and luxurious things but we often fail to discipline and curb them.


We wish to have more courage and determination to crawl out of our hand-to-mouth existence, but opportunities to do so is just so out of our reach that despite working eight hours a day, five days a week, earning supposedly thousands of pesos per month but what we bring home at the end of a pay day is barely enough to tide us over a few days.

We might always know deep in our hearts the value or importance of freedom but for us whose struggles towards liberty from poverty and harsh existence is ever-continuing, we might feel it or see a glimpse of it at times we receive our bonuses but we would always seem just dream of it and pray that manna will hopefully fall from heaven.

Is Martial Law the Answer?

“People sometimes make wrong decisions to do the right thing,” So Yool, Chief Kim Korean drama. 

With the recent terrorism attack in Marawi City, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao on May 24, 2017.

But, what is martial law?

Martial law is the imposition of direct military control of normally civilian functions of the government, especially in response to a temporary emergency such as invasion or a major disaster, or in occupied territory.  (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_law).

When the president declared martial law on Mindanao, the reactions of the people vary from sarcasm to approval, from apprehension to relief, from loud protestations to noncommittal shrugs, from indignation to trust.  (http://www.rappler.com/technology/social-media/170749-martial-law-mindanao-netizens-reactions)

Many were reminded of the sad and harsh events of the Martial Law declared by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos on September 21, 1972 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1081.  Military rule reigned in Philippines then for more than eight years until it was officially ended on January 17, 1981 by virtue of Presidential Decree no 2045.  Marcos, however, reserved decree-making powers for himself. (http://www.gov.ph/featured/declaration-of-martial-law/).

I was born on May 1, 1974, when martial law was still fully imposed and practically lived my pre-school age in the duration of the entire martial law era.  Despite my young age then, I could not remember my mother and my great grandmother ever complaining there is any difficulty in buying basic necessities for us to live in comfort and peace.  Back then, we lived in Barangay Sum-ag, Bacolod City, a barangay where the Visayan Maritime Academy (now known as VMA Global College) was established, and my mom was looking after a boarding house catering for students studying at the said academy.

I did remember talks about curfew but I believed it just helped make my mother’s  life easier in managing several young lads in their teenage years with their raging hormones and penchant for adventure and fun.  They are not allowed to be out of the house after 10 o’clock in the evening and their fear of violating that law kept them in check.

Since, I was still young to remember that much, I asked my mother what was it like during the martial law era.  

She recalled that except for a problem with shortage of rice for a short time, life in the province went on as smoothly and as normally as it was before martial law was declared.  There were talks, she said, of some people who were imprisoned for talking against the government and there were talks of summary killings but none that she had witnessed or known personally.  It seemed to me that life in the province had gone on as much as it was before the declaration.  

News and confessions of life of brutality during martial law, seemed to had affected the people in Manila, where the center of government had always been, more than it affected the lives of the people in the provinces.

Once again, martial law is declared in the Philippines, but only in Mindanao.

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in Mindanao following clashes between government forces and a group inspired by the so-called Islamic State in Marawi City. (http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/30/1703141/live-updates-martial-law-mindanao)

There were many vehement complaints and loud disapproval of this action by the President.  The question is: If you were on the President’s shoes at that time, what would you have done in response to such events in Mindanao?

If we are among the residents of Marawi would we be relieved to know that our country represented by the President is doing its utmost best to preserve the lives of affected by making its military rule in the face of such blatant threat towards the government rule, or would we feel more threatened because of the power juggle and apparent war going on?  Despite the hardships and difficulties they must be facing now, wouldn’t the Marawi residents feel more assured of their safety knowing the government is showing its effort to control the situation and that the government is displaying so much more backbone and political will over their dire situation?

Yes, there is that worry that so much power can be alluring and addictive.  But, times now are different.  People are more aware of their right as a people.  We now have a stronger Constitution that protects us from tyrannical rule.  President Duterte himself is aware of that.

President Rodrigo Duterte claims he’ll be the first to call for an end to martial law once Mindanao is “stable.” (http://www.rappler.com/nation/171654-duterte-end-martial-law)

Then let me go back to my featured quote at the beginning of this post.

“People sometimes make wrong decisions to do the right thing,” So Yool, Chief Kim Korean drama. 

To some people the declaration of martial law might have been a wrong decision to make despite its intention to do the right thing, but, sometimes certain situation calls for drastic measures. 

Let us call them to task when the need for such measure has extended its purpose.  That’s the time then for us to make our moves. For now, let the government prove its worth and its supremacy over terrorism.

Why Do We Do What We Do?

My dear Readers, my apologies for the delayed posting.  I had to finish my term paper for a course I took this summer, the deadline of which is this Wednesday.  I still had to re-read and edit it later this evening but I am glad I was able to finish the draft.  

Anyway, with my mind still so much focused on it, it gave me an idea of what to tackle on my blog today.  I had gone out of idea for a topic is more likely but I always believe in the saying: 

“make do with what you have”.

So, why do we do what we do?

Had anyone ever stopped for a moment and asked one’s self that question before they keep on doing whatever interests them at that moment?  If you had, had you taken the thought seriously or merely shrugged a shoulder? 

Indeed, what’s my point?  Why dig into it like a dog with a bone to pick?  The point is, most things that we do is just as natural and normal as breathing that we never had to spare a thought onto it.  It is because our brain is already programmed to do certain things at a given time, things we usually do by instinct or things we usually do as a routine.  

The workings of our brain is that intricate that most of the time we need not question why we do certain things in the manner we do them.  So, when does the time it occur to us to ask, why am I doing this?


Would you agree that it is at a time when you feel at a loss, facing a seemingly insurmountable task that you need not do but you feel you must do?  When this occurs, don’t you feel like you want to run the other way but you knew it is blocked?  It feels like wading in a flood with rain still pouring down on you.  You wish to get out of it but no matter where you look, there is just water around you.

Wouldn’t you say it is just all in the mind?  Maybe.  But then, wouldn’t it be cowardly to think that if we just let things be, it will resolve on its own?  Would you be able to sleep soundly with that thought bugging you in the back of your mind that you are supposed to do something but is trying to wiggle your way out of it?  

In the end, you will realize that it has taken too much more effort and too many sleepless nights to avoid doing it than to have done it outright.


 So, again, why do we do what we do?  Because it is what our conscience dictates us to do, or because it is something that must be done.  

Remember

Taking The Plunge

Sometime last week, I heard a peer of mine say talks about marriage life and hearing negative things about it makes her fear getting married at all.  

So, I wondered, if my posts of the past two weeks could have attributed to her fear  or if talks she heard from plights of women who are suffering from marital problems or are on the verge of marital breakup.had? Anyway, as usual, I kept the question to myself and reflect over it.

I was born when my parents got separated and was only able to finally meet my father when I was about to start schooling at the age of seven.  Imagine the wariness emanating from a seven-year-old at looking at an unfamiliar face who was supposed to be my father.

I can almost still recall the uncomfortable feeling.  Then while growing up under the same roof with him, often than not, I felt like I was a total stranger to him.  Suffice it to say that my memories of a so-called father and man of the family was not a pleasant one, not to say the least, that growing up in a not-so-normal household would have traumatized many children, especially a young woman, exposed to violence and irresponsible behavior of adults.

As a teenager when having crushes, even boyfriends, is the norm, I lived in worry and wariness around men, for fear that my father would make a cripple out of any young men who might give me attention.  Looking back though, I might have my father to thank for for honing my senses as to what kind of man is ideal with me.  

Men who were not that courageous enough or in love enough went scurrying away without me lifting a finger to shoo them on their way.  Weren’t I sad to have not the chance to even enjoy much of their company?  Well, I was spared of getting my heart broken unnecessarily.

I have read on a book before that children when exposed to violence and traumatic experiences with a parent tend to grow as introverts, even, emotionally crippled.  In some sense, I was indeed an introvert.  

During my teenage years, my father had shown me excessive attention which if he had manifested it when I was still younger, I might had been ecstatic.  This sudden turn of events had caused me a lot of uncomfortable even embarassing experiences that would have incurred phobia and hysterics to other teenagers.  It made me feel odd but thanks to most of  my classmates those years, male and female, they had not made me feel like an alien among their midst.  They still accepted me and helped me make it through those difficult years.

Several more uncomfortable events occurred throughout my college days that would have made many young women cringe at the thought of ever having anything to do with men for fear that they might end with the same kind of man I had to live with for most of my teenage life.

Had I for a single moment thought of not marrying and creating a family of my own because of my bad experiences living with my father?

In all honesty, what I thought and prayed back then was to find a man whom God will grant me, who will accept and love me and my family for whatever he can see and know about our entire story.

When I finally met my husband, while I was looking at him at a distance, a flash of realization just suddenly hit me, and I said to myself, “this is it!  It’s him, the man I am destined to be with.”  More than a year after that, I took the plunge and exchanged vows with him.  

Nineteen years and counting, we are still together.  As I had said in my previous blogs, our marriage life was not an easy road to traverse.  Trials and hardships we both gone through added spice to a marriage meld by time and numerous tests.  But if asked if I regret any of those years with him?  Despite everything, I would say, I am glad I took courage and went beyond my inhibitions and fear, for I could have never chosen a much better man other than my husband.
In making a decision about our own life, we should remember, upon our hands lie the outcome of our actions.  By taking the risk, we might be uncertain of what lies ahead but we are the managers of our own destiny.  It is like driving a car along a cliff, the wheel is tightly grasped in our hands.  It lies upon us to what direction we can go-to safely reach our destination or to careen over the cliff. 

If we aspire something for our life, we need not put shackles around those dreams in fear  of the unknown.  The thrill of the unexpected and the unknowns spikes up the level of interest and makes life more exhilarating.  Life would be redundant and boring if we don’t explore what is out there.  We will never know the thrill of hurtling barriers if we don’t experience obstacles. We will never fully enjoy life if we always shy away from getting out of our protective shells.  

So, the choice is really up to you but why not…


Luxurious Moments?

Warm hugs and cuddles

Entirely make up

For all life struggles

That we’ve to face up.

I woke up this morning to warm hugs and cuddles.  Ain’t that the best way ever to wake up to?  It made me smile and greet the new day with a positive spirit and energy.  It wiped away the troubles and pains of yesterday effectively and made me feel thankful that I am given another day, another chance to enjoy life and submerge myself in this euphoric feeling of having loved as great a guy as this man smiling down at me, waking me up with a sweet kiss and warm hugs.

Over nineteen years of being married, being comfortable and fully-adjusted with each other’s sleeping patterns and habits complete with all the odd stuffs like snoring, gritting of teeth, even drooling (Ew!!!  Hahaha!!!).  

Each day had passed by almost in a blur, like movie scenes scrolled fast forward. Days came tumbling one after another, getting routinary –day in and day out — that we tend to take for granted wonderful, seemingly ordinary things and  events in our lives, such as waking up face-to-face with the same person we lived with all these years

Having days such as this, made me think back once again to those days when we were still young and just started out together on this journey we called “married life”.  Hay…

Oops, don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t regret being married and all that.  My married life may not be made up of silk and bright colors, but, neither is it all dreary black.  It may have been a bumpy ride but it isn’t that all scary.  I would say it has been fun.  There were ups and downs, loops and jumps, but all of these events had made life interesting and even exciting.  

It’s just that time can fly by us so swiftly.  It passes by us so fast that there were days we cannot even have the time to appreciate how bright the sun shines or how beautiful the birds sing.  We were just too busy living our lives, that is.

But, today waking up to such a beautiful day, made me wonder, how many times in the past years had I failed to savor the sweetness of moments like this?  Has it become a luxury that I failed to grasp and enjoy when it was already offered in a silver platter?

Whatever it is though, I decided once and for all, it’s not yet that too late for me to hold my fortune firmly in my hands.  I just have to once in a while lay back and enjoy my great fortune, indulge myself in luxury, if indeed time has turned moments like this into luxury…because I’m worthy of it.

Into Finding That Niche

While I was reading some posts from bloggers who recently liked my own posts or followed me, I came upon this post (please refer to this link:  https://gjseth.org/2017/04/20/what-to-write/) and I thought, he summed it all up what I am thinking right now.  Bravo, GJ Seth, you nailed it!

Well, you could say that from the start, I really don’t have a specific category in mind for my blog.  My blog was somewhat just an expression of my current state of mind or my present interests and I know that not so many are really interested with what is going on with someone else’s life unless they are very extraordinary, and not so many have the same interests in what interests me.

After four months of regular blogging every Wednesdays and Sundays (that is, if nothing odd is happening with me), I began to analyze my own blog.  Comparing it with the works of fellow bloggers I follow, I admit that the likes I was receiving were few. 

I then ask myself, what is my honest reaction to this?  
First of all, I am sad and disappointed.   Sad, because I felt I somewhat failed the people who gave me their vote of confidence by following me.  Disappointed, because I must have expected a bit too much for my own good.

Secondly, I feel uncertain, undecided.  What will I do next from this day onwards?  Is the blog still worth keeping?

Then, when everything was getting a bit emotional which seemed to be happening a little too often lately, I looked at my notifications and read through them again.  Then realization struck me like lightning in a very clear sky.

The fact that there are people who like my posts, old followers and new ones, even if it is only one or two, it does indicate that I haven’t totally failed in affecting people.  Though the main objective of the blog was to touch as many people as possible, being able to express myself explicitly in the first place, has already made the reason of creating this blog a success.

Wasn’t the reason of all these was “finding a niche of my own in the vast world of literature”?  So far, I can very well say that no matter how small that mark I have made, I believe that I did find that niche I was looking for.  It might be considered as just a little crack compared to others but creating rapport with the few wonderful bloggers I’ve met here so far, suffice for any disappointment I may have felt.  

So, as an advice to my own self, give yourself a chance to learn from past experiences of blogging.  Try to be more observant of what really is going on around you.  Feel what perks people up and gather inspiration from them.  Explore the vastness of this world with a keener mind and to not dwell too much in your own small world.

Hmm, good advice, don’t you think?  Let’s see if I can make good at it.

Facing The Mirror

When we say “mirror”, what’s the most popular line that comes to mind, will it be “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all,” by the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?  Or in Philippine setting, is it Boy Abunda saying, “I’m bringing out my magic mirror”?  How about if you are to face your own imaginary mirror, are you ready to face your true self?  Am I?

Oftentimes, on Facebook, we see people (acquaintances, friends, family) who love to post famous quotes or derogatory lines that seemed to point fingers at another person or is meant to make another feel shameful or to prick someone’s conscience BUT failed to notice that these lines are more apt reminders to themselves.  I am sure a name of a particular someone will suddenly pop into your mind.

We ask ourselves, how come they don’t seem to realize it?

That is, for the plain reason that no one can see the mud on one’s face unless one faces the mirror and be honest enough to admit the truth that is revealed there no matter how harsh is it.

Yes, I say, it is very difficult for anyone to face one’s self in that imaginary mirror and see what is revealed there.  I’ll bet that not so many will even spare a moment to face that mirror.

Will you?

Facing the mirror might reveal two things:  things you are proud of yourself and things that you will never even admit to yourself to be capable of thinking or doing, things you are ashamed of.  Thus, facing the mirror is tantamount to facing the demons haunting your mind, or looking at the ghost of a forgotten past, or the gaping mouth of a lion making you tremble in trepidation, fear and shame.  It is, in other words, admitting to your weaknesses and mistakes to that one person who is most important to you, YOURSELF.

For even to myself I have to admit that facing that mirror might ask more than I am ready to give and might reveal more than I care to accept.

But today, I want to gather up the courage to face that mirror and look into what it will reveal.

It revealed that in my life, there are things that made me wish I can turn back the clock of times so I can change them, or that I can even change myself for the better.

It also revealed that there are things I am capable of doing for the sake of love, for the sake of my family, for survival, for the right to exist in this world.

But most of all, it revealed I am what I am today because of those events that happened in my past.  I can say that I became a much stronger, braver, and wiser person than I was before.

I may have grown in a  family that may not be all that different among the usual sob stories you see in television, but let it suffice to say that at a young age, I gained a deeper understanding of life.

I realized that in order to change what people can remember of me and my family, I had to change the direction of their thoughts not on the sad facts of my life but on my triumphant journey towards achieving the goals I have set my eyes upon.  I wanted them to always remember, instead, where I am now.

I am neither filthy rich, nor am I with a distinguished position in society but I feel what I have now–a stable job, a supportive mother, a loving husband and three lovely daughters, an undying dream–are enough to make me feel I am on the top of the world.

There are maybe things that I have done that I may regret for my whole life but then there is no point on lingering on such regrettable past for what is left to be done is to move forward and to try doing what is right so I won’t commit the same mistakes again.  I will maybe forever whip myself in my mind but I will not allow myself to forever cower in fear and shame, for in this world, I may not be perfect but I am the best in giving my all for my family.

So, how about you?  Are you ready in…

(Photo Credits:  Workbook on Facing the Mirror by Daphne Delay)