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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Simple Acts of Kindness

     I am grateful to have known many unheralded people who have committed themselves to working  for marginalized groups in our country. They are advocates and co-journeyers, dedicated to a life of service to the people.  They are the teachers, companions, community organizers  who would  exemplify magis, giving more of themselves in the service of others.

     I am thankful to fellow human rights defenders who have worked tirelessly for the plight of the survivors of human rights violations including the families of the desaparecidos.

     I am likewise grateful for having worked with different groups and organizations who have supported survivors of calamities and difficult life experiences.

      Patnubayan kayo ng Panginoon sa inyong mga gawain.

                                               ***

     There are still many others, who may not be members of groups working with the marginalized but continue to help others  in simple acts of kindness.

     They are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts from all walks of life who gently touch the lives of others with their kind words and deeds. 

     I remember the many kind people who volunteered their time, rendered financial and material support to the survivors of critical situations and disasters in our country. Some even cooked food and delivered them to flood survivors in various  communities. Others would journey with farmers and indigenous people coming  all the way from remote communities in the provinces to seek audience with responsible leaders on their plight. Many others would provide a gentle and compassionate ear to many who have experienced a loss too painful to bear. A great number provided caring activities for children in evacuation centers, providing them a safe place to be able to express themselves through play and art.

     I am humbled yet strengthened by their compassion and kindness.
     
     This Christmas season, I came across many more of the people  who have displayed the true essence of the season through their simple acts of kindness, generosity, compassion and love.  

    I was able to reconnect with a kind-hearted person, my sibling Minx, who supports committed artists and students. I got to know Filipino artists like Boholanon Lola Nene Lungay through her. Lola Nene,  at 83 years,  still creates beautiful oil and watercolor paintings depicting authentic Filipino culture and tradition. Salamat, kapatid ko sa pagkakataong makilala si Lola Nene at lalong makilala ang kabutihan ng iyong puso.

                               
I learned about the 1000 Bear Hugs project from journalist and fellow mother Cathy Babao. Cathy  has been involved with several projects for the children and the grieving.

This project aims to collect teddy bears and other stuffed toys for the children survivors of the disaster in Davao Oriental.

 Thank you Black Pencil Project and Cathy Babao for your kind hearts. 

   One compassionate couple I am co-journeying with, E and K   have also expressed their plan to support this project as part of their 10th year wedding anniversary. Aside from this project, they plan to hold a soup kitchen for indigents this Christmas. What a beautiful way to celebrate an anniversary!


    Thank you to the  people of Balsa Mindanao and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines who have dedicated themselves to help those in need in Mindanao, specially the survivors in the typhoon stricken areas of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

                                                   ***

    I am a counselor and a co-journeyer for many others who have experienced and are undergoing difficult life situations. I am also a mother of two wonderful daughters who I hope would remain compassionate and kind-hearted as they are now. I am  elated with projects like  the 26 Acts of Kindness where one will be inspired to do more for others.


     This simple yet inspiring project commits one to do 26 Acts of kindness done with love in memory of the people who were killed in a heartbreaking tragedy last week in Newtown, Connecticut.  I hope people will not stop with 26; I believe this project shall create ripples in the hearts and minds of many to do more, share more and love more.


From NBC News: http://storify.com/nbcnews/26acts-of-kindness


      
                 

     
      






                           


     
                     

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Pasko ng Pagsubok, Pasko ng Pag-asa

    Ilang araw na lang, Pasko na. Ramdam na ito sa komunidad namin - sa mga bahay na pinapalamutian ng iba't ibang dekorasyon, sa mga poste ng ilaw na sinasabitan ng  makulay na mga parol at sa mga Christmas carols na maririnig sa radyo at telebisyon. Sunod-sunod na rin ang mga pagtitipon ng mga magkakaibigan, magkasama at magkapamilya. Nagbabalik-bayan, nagbabalik tahanan ang mga taong matagal nang nanirahan sa ibang bayan para makasama ang mga mahal nila sa buhay. Siyempre pa, nariyan ang mga pagtitipon sa mga simbahan bilang paghahanda sa simbolikong pagsilang ng ating Panginoon sa Disyembre 25.

    Sa aming pamilya, simple lang ang paghahandang ginagawa namin tuwing Pasko.  Sentro ng handa namin sa hapag-kaninan ang tsokolate at masarap na puto maya na niluluto ng aking asawa. May ispesyal siyang "recipe" na pinasarap ng pagmamahal, ayon sa kanya. 


Photograph by Lex Muga
     Tradisyon na rin na maituturing sa amin ang  panonood ng mga piling pelikula na kalahok sa  Metro Manila Film Festival. Sana na nga lang maraming makabuluhang pelikulang maaring panoorin maging ng mga anak ko. Ngayong taon, plano naming mag-anak na manood ng mga pelikulang  pagbibidahan ng paborito kong si  Nora Aunor, ang natatanging artista ng bayan na sinubaybayan ko mula pa sa aking pagkabata.  

    Tulad namin ang marami ring mag-anak tuwing Pasko.  Nagsasalo sa  simpleng mga pagkain sa hapag-kainan. Ang hindi mawawala marahil ay ang kuwentuhan at hagikgikan. Hindi na baleng kaunti ang handang pagsasaluhan basta makasama ang mga mahal sa buhay sa pagkakataong yun.

   Nakakalungkot lang na sa Paskong darating, maraming pamilya ang makakaranas ng kawalan bunga ng mga trahedyang nangyari sa kanilang mga komunidad.

  Kahapon, isang nakakalungkot na pangyayari ang bumalot sa isang tahimik na komunidad sa isang bayan ng Estados Unidos. Dalawampung bata, karamihan ay nasa edad anim hanggang pito, kasama ang ilang nanunungkulan sa paaralan ang walang awang pinaslang ng isang beinte anyos na lalaki gamit ang isang semi-automatic rifle. Naluha ako sa mga kuha ng mga magulang na nag-aalala at nagdadalamhati kasama na ang mga batang namulat bigla sa reyalidad ng buhay sa pagpaslang sa kanilang mga kapamilya at kamag-aral. Sa social network sites, mababasa  ang pakikiisa at pagpapabot ng pakikiramay ng marami  sa mga kapamilya at kasamahan sa komunidad ng mga nasawi.

                                                  
    Ganitong pag-aalala at pagmamalasakit ang mababasa rin mula sa ating mga kababayan noong kasagsagan ng mga kalamidad na dumaan sa ating bayan.  

  Noong nakaraang linggo lang, nanalasa ang bagyong Pablo  sa mga probinsiya ng Compostela Valley at Davao Oriental. Maraming nasawi doon, kasama na ang mga batang natabunan ng  gumuhong putik. Di lamang mga tirahan ang nasira kundi mga pananim na ikinabubuhay nila. Halos walang makain at maayos na inumin ang karamihan. 

    Bagama't maraming nasagip at nabigyang pangunang lunas ang mga nakaligtas sa trahedya, napakalaking bilang ang hindi naabutan ng tulong dahil na rin putol  ang linya ng komunikasyon sa kanilang mga lugar.  Marami ang nagpaabot ng  mga donasyon kaya lang di kaagad nakarating ang mga ito sa mga nangangailangan bunga ng mga suliraning lohistikal. Mabuti na lamang at nabibigyang kasagutan  na ang mga suliraning ito ng mga ahensiyang kinauukulan.

  Sana bago mag-Pasko magkaroon sila ng maayos na tirahan  na maaring masilungan laban sa ulan at lamig ng panahon kasama na ang sapat na pagkaing magpapainit at magpapalakas sa kanilang mga katawan. 

    Iba pang usapin ang pangangailangan maisakatuparan ang isang komprehensibong planong tutugon sa pangangailangan ng mga nasalanta tungo sa kanilang pagbangon.


    P.S.

   Gawain ko ang paggabay sa mga taong dumaraan sa mahirap na mga karanasan sa buhay.  Kahapon may masayang binalita sa akin ang isa mga mga mag-asawang ginabayan ko.

  Dahil raw sa payo ko na isang mabuting paraan sa paghilom mula sa mabigat na karanasan sa buhay ang pagtulong sa kapwa, nagpasiya silang mag-asawa na tumulong sa iba't ibang proyekto para sa maralita.  Isa ang Black Pencil Project  sa balak nilang tulungan. Meron rin silang mga proyektong   pangungunahan ngayong Pasko para sa mga batang lansangan at mga matatanda. 

    Ang Black Pencil Project ay isang samahang nangunguna sa proyektong 1000 Bear Hugs kung saan mangangalap sila ng mga laruang ibibigay sa mga batang naapektuhan ng bagyo sa Davao Oriental.  Isang napakagandang proyekto ito.   
http://www.blackpencilproject.org
   
     

      



    

    



      

        


      

    

      






     


    

    
     

     




 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Towards a Healing Presence

This article is part of the talk I gave to the "Ako Para sa Bata" 2012 Manila Conference held on Dec. 5, 2012 at the SMX Convention Center Roxas Blvd. Quezon City. The conference was sponsored by the Child Protection Network Foundation Inc.


     There was little girl who lived along one of the busy streets  at  the outskirts of Quezon City. Not yet five, she longed for  a pet she could care for. Since her elder brother had asthma, pets are not allowed in their home, until that day when someone gave her a duckling.  She named it KOY.


Artwork by eleven year old Gina Muga


     As in any other duckling, KOY was a cute, round, bundle of joy. She followed it around, gently placing it in a small cardboard box with its food and water when she's not around. The little girl was very happy that she had KOY to care for.


     One day, tired from playing with her toys, she took a nap in their sofa. She placed Koy in her tummy and watched it close its eyes too before going to sleep.  When she woke up, KOY was not there. Where could it be? She looked and looked for it everywhere but she could  not find it.  She asked one of their househelpers who told her that the duckling died because she rolled over it while she was asleep . "Nadaganan mo siya."

     She was heartbroken upon learning this. She was afraid to tell her parents that she may have accidentally killed her pet. Tears fell from her eyes. 

    The child who grieved over the loss of KOY was me.  That was my first experience with grief over something I deeply cared for.
Artwork of Gina Muga

     Years later, I would experience the death of three people in my family- my father and two brothers. I missed them until now.

     In my work, I have co-journeyed with individuals who have lost their loved ones, some in the most tragic of circumstances.  I have likewise  had a the opportunity to care for children and adolescents who have lost their loved ones.

  One of the most important thing to remember is that we adults are there to provide the healing presence to children and adolescents.  The care, the empathy, the kindness, the gentleness, the presence that would mean, I am here for you, I will be here for you. You are safe in my care.  I will stay with you now.

    This is expressed in how we speak, how we explain to them what happened if we are the relative of the deceased, how we patiently listen and let them tell their own story. 

  Even if they do not tell their story at once.

  I was able to talk to a social  worker in a non-governmental organization helping children survivors in armed conflict who related to me  that they have a a child who was a witness to a politically motivated massacre of her father and her siblings.  The child had to be transferred to Manila from their hometown in the province.  She finally got to tell her story to them after a number of months.  A very bright child, she also was able to go back to school after that.

Hindi kailangang madaliin ang mga bagay-bagay  lalo kapag kausap natin ang mga bata.

    I remember a seven year old boy  whose twin brother died from a lingering sickness.  His mother, herself grieving after the incident, told me that her son refused to go to school because the parents of his classmates were badgering him to provide details over and over again. Since he did not like to talk about what happened, the parents brought these to the attention of his mother. “Sobra na ang anak mo, ayaw magkwento."  The mother would ask them to understand her child who has just lost someone very dear to them.

    Now even the grieving child is burdened by expectations of people who are not even direct relatives of the deceased.

    Nakakalungkot. It is in this situation that the parents of the child decided to transfer him to another school.

    Even parents of children who are grieving may be disturbed by the changes they see in their child.  A couple was having difficulty in relating to their 12 year old son, their eldest, who was grieving the death of a cousin who was very close to him.  The cousin, who is based in the Australia committed suicide.  The parents were complaining that he would spend larger chunk of time in Facebook instead of helping in household chores.

    They may need to give their son and their own selves more understanding and compassion now more than ever.

   The son confided that he was having difficulties with reprimands and words spoken to him which he felt judged and unloved. 

    Children grieve differently from each other. How soon they will get over their grief over the loss of something or someone dear to them is dependent on their developmental level, their temperament,  the caring given by their primary care providers be it their parents or some other significant adults,  their  community’s support system.

Ako Para sa Bata Manila Conference, with fellow speaker Lyra Versoza, organiser Dr. Sandra Hernandez
delegates Jingle Mira and Michelle Balce

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Nanay

    Ang susunod na mga kuwento ay isinulat ko bilang pagkilala sa ilang inang nakilala ko sa aking paglalakbay at mga gawain.  Mga totoong tao sila na nagmula  sa iba't ibang lugar at iba't ibang antas ng pamumuhay.  Mga ina na tulad ko rin, nangarap ng mabuting kinabukasan para sa kanilang mga anak. 

      May sinulid na nagdudugtong sa kanilang mga kuwento.

                                             (1) Mommy Rose

     Kahapon nagkita kami ni Mommy Rose sa kasal ng anak niya. Matagal na rin kaming di nagkita magmula nang namatay ang kamag-anak ko na naging asawa niya. Doon na siya nanirahan sa Bulacan sa bahay ng kanyang ama't ina. 

    Matagal na rin niyang di nakita ang kanyang mga anak.   Iniwan niya ang mga ito sa pangangalaga ng kanyang asawa dahil alam niya na mas mabuti ang magiging kalagayan nila. Di siya nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral at hindi siya makahanap ng maayos na trabaho.


       Alam niya sa mga taong hindi sila nagkikita, malayo na ang kalooban ng mga ito sa kanya. Tanggap niya yun at alam niyang mahirap makuha ang pagmamahal nila tulad nang dati. Marami siyang gustong sabihin sa mga anak niya; gusto niyang humingi ng patawad pero hindi niya alam kung paano. Hindi naman niya gustong pagpilitan ang sarili niya sa  damdamin ng kanyang mga anak.

      "Basta alam nila na narito lang ako para sa kanila", sinabi niya sa akin. Aninag ko ang lungkot ng isang inang nangungulila sa kanyang mga anak.


                                    (2) Ate Floring

     Nakilala ko si Ate Floring sa isang pagsasanay na ibinigay ng isang samahang datirati nang tumutulong sa maralita at nasa bulnerableng sektor ng lipunan. Isang pioneer si Ate Floring sa samahang ito; matagal na siyang advocate sa karapatan ng mga kasamahan niya. Alam niya ang pinagmumulan nila, nasa ganitong trabaho rin siya dati- bilang isang sex worker

  Pinasok niya ang trabahong ito dahil wala na siyang maipakain sa kanyang anak. Bata pa siya nang mabuntis siya ng isang lalaking inakala niyang paninindigan silang dalawa ng kanilang anak. Hindi pala. Buong buhay niya inalay na lang niya sa kanyang anak. Nangarap siya na balang araw, kapag nakapagtapos na rin ang kanyang anak, hindi na siya kailangang magtrabaho, hindi na niya kailangan ang ganitong trabaho para mabuhay.

  Pinagmamasdan niya ang ilang litratong kuha niya sa kanyang anak. Maingat niyang hinawakan ang mga litratong isinilid niya sa isang lumang kahon. Naroon ang isang litrato ng kuha nang ipagdiwang  ang unang kaarawan ng anak niya,  nang grumadweyt na siya ng elementarya, litrato nilang dalawa nang nagtapos naman siya ng high-school pati na rin nang magtapos ito ng vocational school noong nakaraang buwan.  

   Napagtapos na niya ang anak niya sa pag-aaral. Biglang bumagsak ang luha sa kanyang pisngi.

    Nung isang araw, sa isang di pagkakaunawaan nilang mag-ina, sinigawan siya nito at sinabing, " Paano ako maniniwala sa iyo, isa kang puta. Ikinahihiya kita."

    Pakiramdam niya noon, napakaliit niyang tao. Gusto niyang magsalita kaya lang walang lumalabas na salita sa kanyang bibig.  


                                 (3) Inay Linda

 Nabasa niya sa pahayagan ang sinabi ni Editha Burgos, tungkul sa nawawala nitong anak na si Jonas. Matagal na ring hinahanap ni Editha  ang bunsong anak na lalaki na dinukot sa isang kainan sa Ever Gotesco, Commonwealth. Hanggang ngayon ay wala pa ring balita tungkul kay Jonas.

     Natatandaan niya tuloy ang anak niyang si Amanda.

Drawing by eleven years old Gina Muga
    Ilang linggo na rin mula nang umalis ito sa kanilang bahay para mag- full time sa pagtulong sa mga maralita. Hindi na niya nakausap ito bago umalis. Pinaabot na lang sa kanya ang isang sulat ng pasasalamat sa pagmamahal at pag-aaruga sa kanya. 

    Aktibista ang kanyang anak na babae. Pinag-aral niya ito sa isang premyadong unibersidad sa Maynila, student leader ito ng ilang samahang pang-kabataan. Matalas siyang magsulat at magsalita tungkul sa mga isyung panlipunan.

      Dahil sa gobyerno rin nagtatrabaho ang kanyang asawa, pinagbawalan nila ito na sumama sa mga ganung gawain. Mapapahamak lang siya sa kanyang ginagawa.

     Hanggang umalis na ang anak niya at tuluyan na ring iniwan ang pag-aaral.

      Nang malaman  sa sulat na maninilbihan na ang kanyang anak sa sambayanan, naiyak siya sa kalungkutan. Alam niya mula sa araw na yun, hindi na niya hawak ang buhay ng kanyang anak.

   Maraming katanungang pilit niyang hinahanapan ng sagot. 

Nakakain kaya ng maayos ang anak niya? Natatandaan niyang nagkaroon ito ng typhoid fever at kailangang mamalagi ng ilang araw sa ospital. Nakuha niya sa pagkain ng pagkaing tinitinda sa kalye. May maayos ba siyang tulugan? Paano kung may masamang mangyari sa  kanya tulad nang nababasa niya sa ilang aktibista.

   Hindi niya masabi ang agam-agam niya sa kanyang asawa na may sakit sa puso. Ang alam niya, hahanapin niya ang kanyang anak. Kahit hindi na niya makausap, basta makita lang niyang maayos ang kalagayan nito, mapapanatag na siya.

     Lumipas ang mga araw. Hindi pa rin umuuwi ang kanyang anak. Marami na rin siyang pinuntahan sa paghahanap dito. Nalaman niyang may kasamahan ang kanyang anak sa pamantasan na nawala at natagpuan na lang na pinasagasaan sa riles ng tren sa Laguna. Nanlamig siya sa takot. Huwag naman ipahintulot ng Panginoon na mangyari ito sa kanyang anak na babae. 

    Araw-araw isinasama niya sa panalangin ang kanyang anak, na sana isang araw ay magkita sila muling mag-ina.


Mother and child made from clay by Amy Muga
                                    

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Collective Pain

     Motherhood has a way of connecting people from various cultures and various communities in collective joy and even in collective pain.


      I love reading letters and posts from family members and friends about  milestones in their personal and family life. I treasure the pictures of my nieces and nephew as they were growing up. I happily share pictures and stories about my children too. I appreciate the photo sharing feature in social media sites because it makes connecting with the people you care about easier. 
           
     It is sometimes in social media that I learn  about distressing news  happening to children and families in places so far from home. It is here where I first read that family members of a B'laan tribal leader in Davao del Sur were killed with only the youngest daughter surviving the massacre. The tribal leader opposed the entry of a mining firm in the B'laan tribe ancestral domain.

     What happened  in Davao a few weeks ago is not an isolated case. I was able to talk to a children rights advocate who related the story of another kid they counseled who was likewise the sole survivor of a massacre to her entire family. She  was able to tell her entire story  after so many months. 

   Meanwhile, in far-away Gaza peninsula, families are cowering in fear over air strikes and bombs which target their homes. Innocent civilians, the elderly, mothers, children have been maimed or killed. I am pained by the images of parents holding the bodies of their dead children, of mothers losing their homes and their families. How soon shall these killings stop? How many more lives must be sacrificed before a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities shall be ordered?

     As a mother, I pray that compassion may reign in their hearts, for the inhumane killings of innocent civilians to stop and that survivors of human rights violations be given justice. 



Syrian Free Press http://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/10892/





http://www.smh.com.au/world/deadliest-day-children-killed-in-gaza-air-raids-20121119-29ks4.html


                                                                    **


   "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and  the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

                                                                  -Pema Chodron

Monday, 12 November 2012

Ordinary People

Nakatatlong tigil siya sa pag-aaral dahil wala kaming pera. Hindi ko siya pinaghuhugas ng pinggan. Tapos babarilin nila nang ganun ganun."

"She stopped going to school three times because we do not have money. I did not let her wash the dishes. They shot her just like that."
                                               -   Mrs. Rodelas, mother of Jaja Rodelas 
                         (from an interview conducted  by InterAksyon.com's Jaime Sinapit)
                            
                                        
     A twenty year old promising model, named Jaja Rodelas,  was shot five times in the head and her body thrown on the concrete pavement along a busy street in Cubao, Quezon City. She was kidnapped upon the instigation of a person she considered her friend The plan was just to cripple her (lulumpuhin lang) and not to kill her, according to this friend. 

     It's as if crippling a person is not that painful.

   Jaja is the  youngest child in a family of six. Much like  many other poor students, she had difficulty in paying her tuition and other educational expenses. Money was tight; her mother provides for her and her other siblings by cooking and selling food. Jaja  tried modeling and even accepted bit roles on television just to be able to earn and save enough to enroll this semester.

   I felt sad reading about her mother's sentiments on her death. Here is a mother who would have wanted her daughter to stay in school yet could not support her given their financial difficulties. How her heart might have bled for her daughter who aspired to do more, to accomplish more, to save for her schooling and to be able to help her family rise above their financial difficulties. How could anyone even hurt her youngest child, who she has high hopes and dreams for.

   I am a mother and I am pained by what Jaja's mother is going through.  I am angered by the inhumanity and senseless killing of one innocent soul.

 I wonder whether her killers ever considered that Jaja's death will leave her mother and her family broken-hearted and in grief. 

  
      A report from GMA 7's 24 Oras:    


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Libro sa Pasko! (Books for Christmas!)

Stories of courage, hope, kindness, strength, democracy, resiliency in the midst of despair, love of country are some of the themes I hope to find in books written for children. I have visited Adarna House a few months back and I appreciate that there are already writers who are creating such stories for children.

Reading books develop  a child's imagination and critical thinking. Their horizons are broadened through reading different kinds of books.  This is why I encourage parents to enjoy telling stories and reading books to their children. 

                         
                    (Children in ABAKADA Storytelling session photo credit: Amy Muga)

     If you would like to give books to the children of urban poor families, consider donating to Aklatang Bata sa Komunidad (Community Children's Library).  This project is spearheaded by Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), a nation-wide alliance of urban poor organizations;  the Center of People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) Inc., and the Kalayag Foundation Incorporated. The ABAKADA project  aims to establish community-based libraries in urban poor communities in the entire archipelago.

http://www.cenpeg.org


  Donations for the books and scholarships may also be deposited through the account of CenPEG, Inc. Kindly see the banner above for details.

                                                    ***

     
     
      
       




Monday, 5 November 2012

Songs, Lullabies and Authentic Love

     I count among my blessings, my two daughters who I am very proud of. My elder daughter grew up to be a loving  and empathetic person; she helps me in my work with marginal communities.  She is likewise a caring and responsible "ate" (elder sister) to her only sibling who is affectionate and who loves her very much. They were born twelve years apart, both "dragon" babies according to the chinese zodiac. Both of them are gifted with loving hearts. 

   Like many other couples starting out their families, Lex and I lived simply and frugally. Both of us would commute to our places of work; even to my last term in my pregnancy, I was still riding a jeep to and from work. We didn't even find it necessary to buy our own camera to document the birth of our first child. It was only when I was wheeled to the nursery to visit her that I realized that we needed one. A father, who was taking pictures of his son, volunteered to take the picture of my daughter and send it to us. I am so thankful for his kindness and generosity.

   Singing lullabies and favorite songs were our lifeline during times when our daughter would wake up in the middle of the night and cry. Since I was recuperating from childbirth, I asked my husband to carry her at night. It was then I heard my husband singing to her lullabies and beautiful Visayan songs such as Matud Nila and Usahay, a song I grew to love so much. I still hear him sing these songs today.

   When my younger daughter was born, Lex stayed inside the delivery room until she was moved to the nursery. Hay, he wanted to make sure that our bunso (youngest childwas safe and the nurses took care of her.

During the birth of my second child ( photo taken by Lex Muga)

   He likewise sang  Usahay  with bunso and she also loved it.  She was soothed by the beautiful melody and the loving baritone voice of her father. 

     I am thankful that Lex was there for us from the very start. He is the expression of magis for me. He has no qualms in helping me with household chores and taking care of our children. He encouraged me to do my best in whatever field I am in and to pursue the activities  and causes I am passionate of.  
     
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Friday, 2 November 2012

A Visit to the House I Grew Up In


     Early this afternoon, I visited the house I grew up in, along with my eleven-year old daughter and my husband, Lex. This is the first house my parents built, a testament to their perseverance and hardwork.

     The two-storey house is still painted white, the wooden window panes are still intact, the steel mesh fence is now covered by concrete hollow blocks.  Lush plants were planted around the fence; they somehow improved the facade of the house. I remember the dama de noche flowers planted by my mother around the fence: I also remember their lingering fragrance at night.

Photo credit: Amy Muga
      Our kasambahays (house helpers) do not tire of telling us children stories of hauntings and the lady in white seen near the dama de noche plant. Much as I am not sure if they indeed saw such "visitors", their stories made us, their wards, eat our rice meal faster and clamor for more stories from them. 

     I  remember playing with gusto, along with my sister ,inside the small garden. I made mud pies and other imagined delicacies. I imagined having my own bakery where I made chocolate pies. I planted seeds  in the soft soil and watch them grow. We played habulan (tag) and taguan (hide and seek) with our care providers. It was such a blissful time of laughter and play for us children and  hopefully a respite for our care providers. 
                                            ***

    November 2 is All Soul's Day in the Philippines. Many people trooped to public and private cemeteries to visit the tombs of their loved ones since October 31. I lit a virtual candle in remembrance of my father and two brothers who passed away years ago. I pray that wherever they may be, they are at peace. I missed them so much.

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Pinay Mom in Filipino movies

     I remember watching an old  Charito Solis film where she potrayed a self-sacrificing mother forced to marry an abusive husband. The husband (played by actor Leroy Salvador Jr.) sold her only child to a rich family.  I don't remember other details  of the film anymore but I do remember that I cried watching Charito's predicament. The film was produced in the 60's and options available for women in abusive relationships were not discussed in the film.

     I wonder if women shelters were available during those times in the Philippines. Sanctuaries and safe places for abused women may have been provided by religious groups. Shelters, such as the Women's Crisis Center, provide a lifeline for women in abusive relationships.

         The self-sacrificing mother who would do anything for her children was a constant theme among  Filipino movies, especially those produced by film studios LVN and Sampaguita. Numerous actressed have played these roles - from Charito Solis, Lolita Rodriguez, Anita Linda ( who played Sisa in the Gerry de Leon film, Noli Me Tangere). 
The mother is potrayed as a martyr, someone who would do anything for her children to the extent of remaining in relationships that are abusive. 

      A film adaptation of Nick Joaquin's article " The House on Zapote Street" featured a mother ( potrayed by Charito Solis ) who was not able to defend her daughter from the abusive father. The film, Kisapmata, was directed by  Mike de Leon.


http://vilmasantos1.tripod.com/id21.html
     It was in the early 80's where I was able to watch potrayals of Filipino mothers and women who were feisty and determined to fight for the rights of their family. The late film directors Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal and Marilou Diaz Abaya were in the forefront of bringing to the big screen, portrayals of resilient Filipino women. I knew back then that there were many women who refused to be cowed into submission in unjust situations.


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     Much as I am a Nora Aunor fan , I also love the films of another Filipina actress, Vilma Santos who potrayed strong liberated women characters.  In Dekada 70, she potrayed a mother who stood by her children through the turbulent 70's and in Bata bata Paano Ka Ginawa, she potrayed a mother working for a women's shelter who refused to be bound by what society dictates on unmarried mothers.

                                     ***

These are women with real life experiences. This short video produced by the Women's Crisis Center presents the accounts of the survivors of domestic violence:                                       

               

Monday, 22 October 2012

Kasal sa Oktubre

     Kasal - isa sa mga pagkakataong nagkakasama ang mga magkapatid, magpipinsan, magkamag-anak mula sa iba't ibang sulok ng daigdig upang ipagbunyi at ipagdiwang ang  panibagong kabanata sa buhay ng isang minamahal.

   Umuwi rin kami noong Biyernes para sa kasal ng paboritong pamangkin ng asawa ko at paborito rin namin sa pamilya. Halos dalawang buwan lang ang tanda ng panganay kong anak sa kanya. Pinanganak siya ng Abril samantalang Pebrero ko naman pinanganak ang panganay ko. 

     Nung unang kita ko sa kanya pagkatapos ng maraming taon,  alam ko na maganda ang naging pagpapalaki sa kanya ng kanyang ina at ng kanyang buong pamilya. Naniniwala talaga ako sa sinabi ni Hillary Clinton na "it takes a village, to raise a child". Dahil sa pagmamahal ng kanyang ina at ng kanyang ama, lolo, lola, tiyo, tiyahin at iba pang kamag-anak, lumaki siyang mabait, mapagmahal at may magandang disposisyon sa buhay.

       Patnubayan kayo parati ng Panginoon, Apple at Arthur! Nasa panalangin namin kayong dalawa, kasama ng mga nagmamahal sa inyo.
      

A Beautiful Bride!
                                                               A Beautiful Wedding...
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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Pagpupugay kay Nanay Mameng


     This beautiful artwork on Carmen "Nanay Mameng" Deunida, 
chairperson of KADAMAY was made by artist Paps Osmubal. 
Pagpupugay kay Nanay Mameng! 
                       

    Carmen "Nanay Mameng" Deunida is a well-respected urban poor leader who  does not mince words when telling the truth. She is the chairperson emeritus of the national urban poor alliance, KADAMAY, and also a leader of  the mass organisations Gabriela and Anakpawis.

      I brought my younger daughter with me to listen and learn from  Nanay Mameng in the tribute given to her one October afternoon at the University of the Philippines. There are many lessons to be learned from the lives of living heroes and heroines like Nanay Mameng that may not be found in her school books. 

These are some of the photographs I took from the tribute at the Bulwagang Tandang Sora, UP College of Social Works and Community Development.

Photocredit: Amy Muga
Plaque of Appreciation given to Nanay Mameng by Gabriela, Anakpawis and Kadamay ( Photocredit: Amy Muga)

Photocredit: Amy Muga


Photocredit: Amy Muga
Acknowledgment: TUDLA Productions


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