Pres. Noynoy Aquino delivered “The People’s SONA” 2012

“Inuulit ko: posible na ang dating imposible. Humaharap po ako sa inyo ngayon, at sinasabing: hindi ko SONA ito. Kayo ang gumawa nito. SONA ito ng sambayanang Pilipino”

For 1 and a half hours, President Benigno S. Aquino III delivered his 3rd State of the Nation Address. Speaking in front of the joint congress, Pres. Noynoy once again enumerated the gains of his administration and his future plans for the country.

Although I was a bit disappointed again with the inclusion of some blame game portion, this year’s SONA was really fruitful and inspiring. It’s delightful to know that the road to “daang matuwid” is now cemented and will now paved the way for the smooth travel to our country’s progress and development.

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Born for You

It was another blissful day in the life of one of my closest friends, the day of their wedding. Yes another wedding in my circle of friends which for me is another example of an inspirational love story.

I have been one of the witnesses of how their love story come into fruition. At first, one cannot see traces of brewing love story in the two of them as they live their ordinary lives separately. They may be part of the same company and in fact part of the same team but destiny plays a little bit of puzzle game in them. Mark was in a relationship then and Asi was just a simple team member in Mark’s team. But as they say, surprises come in the most uncommon situation when we least expect it. Mark became single while Asi remain single. And in just one instance, the power of love suddenly covered the two and started a great love story which was formally blessed at the altar on their wedding day.

Just like the song Born For You by David Pomeranz, this couple is really born for each other. Quoting some lines from the song;

That I was born for you
It was written in the stars
Yes, I was born for you
And the choice was never ours
It’s as if the powers of the universe
Conspired to make you mine
And til the day I die,
I bless the day that I was born for you

It is really fitted for them because the universe really indeed conspired for them to be with each other. It may be rough at first, it may be blank and clueless at the start, but the stars of the universe aligned for them to meet and fall in love. In fact, they themselves also found out from the Bible, that their names Joseph and Aseneth are name sakes of the biblical characters Joseph and Aseneth from the Book of Genesis which are also married to each other. And that can be an attribution and sign that indeed they are meant for each other, born for each other.

Their wedding is another inspiration, and their love story is another proof that destiny is real. We may have gone through different heart aches and disappointments but when the universe conspired, even if we don’t do something, someone will fall into our hands and make us fly. Someone will come out of the shadow and bring us light. Someone will walk with us during our solitary travel in life. We just need to be faithful, patient and prayerful because there is really someone born for us.

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“There are winds of destiny that blow when we least expect them. Sometimes they gust with the fury of a hurricane, sometimes they barely fan one’s cheek. But the winds cannot be denied, bringing as they often do a future that is impossible to ignore.” – Nicholas Sparks

Happy Father’s Day to all the Men and Women of our lives

They are half of the equation in giving life to a child. They are part of the whole who brought someone into life. They are the pillars of every home that make it stand and whole; they are our father’s. Daddy, Papa, Itay, Tatay, whatever they may be called, they are the most important man in our lives.

I am happy to have a father who never failed to be the good father a child can ask for. Although I grew up not spending so much time with him as he has to work abroad to give us a good life, still the love that he showed us was strong enough to hold us together. He  may have gone for more than a decade to be an OFW and he may have missed some important dates in our lives, but he was still a father who showed that distance is not a big factor to care and to love. And for that I salute him, for being the best father me and my brother have. God was very graceful in giving us a father who teaches us to brave but not arrogant, to be strong but caring, to be frugal but generous and to be a good person who always have a hand to lend to those who are in need. And I will make it a commitment that in the future I will not only follow the way my father led in bringing us up but, I will do better and double it up to become the best father to my child.

But not all children shared the same experience. There are those who grew up literally without father and there are those who have one, but seemingly nothing at all. In this kind of situations, the woman of the house takes charge. Those are the mothers who acted also as fathers to their kids. Single moms who tirelessly working to give a good future to their children. Lucky still are those kids who may not have the father by their side but have their mothers who are trying very hard to fill up the missing part. Equal praises and honor should be given to them for standing up strong for their children.

Let not this day be the only day to show our love for our fathers and single mothers. Make them feel that we appreciate everyday all their efforts for us. And let us always show them the love and respect that they deserve. To all the fathers and single mothers, this day is for you and all the days of your lives we will honor you.

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“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”  – Clarence Budington Kelland

Ika-114 Taon ng Kalayaan?

June 12, 1898 nang unang matikman ng ating bansa ang kasarinlan. Sa pangunguna ng unang Pangulo, Emilio Aguinaldo, sa kanyang bahay sa Kawit, ay iwinagayway ang watawat na sagisag ng ating paglaya mula sa panlulubig ng mga dayuhang Kastila. Isang daan at labing apat na taon na ang nakalipas mula noon, ngunit ang tanong, totoo nga ba tayong lumaya?

Siguro nga totoo na naging malaya tayo sa pananakop ng mga dayuhan. May sarili na tayong gobyerno na tayo mismo ang naghahalal. May mga karapatan na rin tayo ngayon na noon ay ipinagkait sa ating mga ninuno. Nandyan ang kalayaan nating ipahayag ang ating mga saloobin pabor man o laban sa pamunuan. Kalayaang bumoto para sa gusto nating mamuno sa ating pamahalaan at iba pang mga karapatan. Ngunit sapat na ba ang mga bagay na ito para sabihing malaya na nga tayo?

Naging malaya man tayo, sa aking palagay ito’y sa pisikal na aspeto lamang, dahil hanggang ngayon ay alipin pa rin tayo ng kultura at mga kaugaliang iniwan at ipinamulat sa atin ng mga dayuhang sumakop sa atin. Nananalaytay pa rin ang colonial mentality sa bawat isa sa atin. Ang sistema ng korapsyon na pinamana ng mga dayuhang namuno nuong sakop pa nila tayo ay patuloy pa ring umiiral sa ating gobyerno hanggang sa ngayon. At patuloy pa rin ang pagiging alipin sa kahirapan ng nakararami Pilipino.

Isa pa ring manipestasyon na hindi tayo malaya ay ang pagiging takot ng pamahalaan sa mga dikta ng simbahan. Wag sana natin kalimutan na noon pa man ay tinutuligsa na ni Jose Rizal ang pagiging impluwensyal ng simbahan sa mga desisyon ng pamahalaan. Sa panahon ngayon hindi ba’t ganun pa rin ang umiiral? Kaya nga hanggang ngayon ay hindi maipasa-pasa ang mga mahahalagang batas na maaring makapagsulong sa kabuhayan ng mga mamamayan dahil ito’y hindi naayon sa kagustuhan ng simbahan. Totoo ngang malaya tayong nakakapili sa relihiyon o sekta na ating kaaaniban, ngunit nakatali naman ang kamay ng karamihan sa kung ano ang nais ng simbahan.

Malayo na nga siguro ang narating ng ating bansa sa pagiging malaya. Ngunit pagdating sa kaugalian at mga nakasanay ay marami pa tayong dapat gawin upang maging tunay na malaya. Siguro nga dahil sa globalisasyon ay hindi na natin matatakasan ang pagiging dependent sa ibang bansa, ngunit marami pa rin tayong kayang gawin bilang isang bansa upang makamit ang tunay na paglaya. Hanggang hindi natin iniiwan ang mga kaisipan at kaugalian nakamulatan natin noon ay hindi natin makakamit ang isang tunay na malayang Pilipinas. Nasa bawat isa sa atin ang susi sa tunay na paglaya ng ating bansa, nasa bawat isa sa atin ang pagsisimula upang baguhin ang mga sistemang umiiral. Ngunit hanggang hindi natin ito sinusimulan, ang pagdiriwang ng Araw ng Kalayaan ay mananatili na lamang isang okasyon sa pagbilang ng kasaysayan.

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“Ang Araw ng Kalayaan ay hindi lang dapat binabatay sa haba ng taon na binilang nito, ngunit sa kalidad ng isang bansa at mamayan nito.”

Warriors of Education, Angels of Learning (Hatid Karunungan 2012)

After we appealed for help last month, we are happy to report that our Balik – Eskwela Hatid Karunungan 2012 Project was a success.

Last Saturday, June 2, 2012, we trooped to Cabading Elemtary School in San Jose Antipolo City, Rizal to hand-over all the donations that we have collected. Despite the heavy rains brought by typhoon Ambo, we still proceed with the scheduled turn-over of donations. Its just a little sad that majority of the students that were supposed to meet us already went home due to strong rains.

It was the teachers who received us in the school. They were very thankful and very happy for all the school supplies that we brought. Upon arrival they let us (members of HKC) to roam around the school perimeter to see its current situation. And it was a consensus from all the members that indeed they need help from kind-hearted individuals to somehow improve their school facilities. Picture takings followed after while we wait for the rain to subside.

It was indeed another successful project for our org. We thank all the sponsors and donors who have shared their money and other who have given school supplies for the students of Cabading Elementary School. Our contributions will be forever appreciated, because in our small ways we were able to somehow help less fortunate students who strive hard to finish their education despite their situation in life. They may not be able to re-pay us for the help we did for them but knowing they’ll be able to get the education they need is more than enough payment.

And I also believe that kindness is paid forward, that in due time they will also help students who needs their help and will continue the cycle of Education Warriors and Angels of Learning.

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“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”  – John Wooden

Jessica Sanchez, The People’s Idol, Pinoy Unity Ambassador

She may not have won the title of American Idol but Jessica definitely gained the stars of her own. Singing her way to the finals, she was able to once again raise the pride of the Filipino people. Being a Filipina-Mexican immigrant in the US, 16 year old Jessica made Filipinos glued to their TV screens every time she sings and competes in the American Idol stage. Her dreams and aspirations became source of inspiration to many people especially Pinoys here and in the U.S.

Since childhood she was already accustomed to performing in front of many people. At her early age she was already joining several singing competitions which helped her hone her vocal skills. She in fact also competed in America’s Got Talent but she wasn’t able to advanced into the finals.

During her American Idol journey, she became an early favorite, getting several standing ovation performances from the audience and the Idol judges. She also experienced some trips to the bottom 3 and her elimination in the Top 7 which was derailed by the judges 1-time saving power. From then on she proved to be the girl to beat as she became the only female contender in the top 3 and eventually entering the finals. Her ascension to stardom is really something that inspires aspiring singers and other dreamers, that dreams really do come true to those who are persistent and determined.

But what’s more notable about Sanchez’ journey is the unity that was again shown by the Filipinos. This is evident by the resounding online campaigns for Jessica for her not to be eliminated in the competition. It can be compared to how Pinoys are supporting every bouts of Manny Pacquiao. The competition which is ought to be among American’s only became another battle of races as Filipinos in and outside the U.S. went out their way to throw their support for Jessica. Indeed it was another shining moment for Pinoy Pride, because for some time we became united again to support a Kababayan. Just like with Pacman’s fights, several free viewings of the Idol Finale were slated in Manila and other parts of the country as a show of support for Jessica. Filipino community in the U.S. were also united in campaigning for her. Numerous voting parties were organized by the Filipino communities to attract more votes for her. It was indeed a united Philippines in support of the Filipina Jessica.

It’s really happy to see Pinoys united for the sake of another Kababyan. How I wish it’s always Pacquiao Day or Jessica Day, so we can always see this unity among us. Now that we knew that unity among Filipinos is not an impossible thing, hope we can try this everyday to push for the improvement and development of this country. Jessica maybe an icon or symbol of unity but can’t we, each one of us be that symbol or unifying factor for our own’s best interest? If we can do it with Pacquiao or Jessica, it’s not impossible to do it for our family and for the future generations of this country. Let our future became our inspiration to become unified in pushing for a better Philippines.

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“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”- J.K. Rowling

Carrying of the Cross

Holy week or the lenten season reminds us of the days when Jesus carried the cross and died on it for our salvation. It is a reminder that someone gave up his life for the lives of many others.

Now that Jesus is very alive and resurrected, the cross in passed on to our hands. Yes, Jesus already did his part and it’s now our time to do ours. The cross where he died is now our obligation to carry.

Everyday we are faced with problems and mishaps which burdens us, thus making us feel so down and heavily hearted. But these are the crosses that we need to carry till we end up victorious. Because these crosses are the instruments in teaching us patience and greater faith.

Imagine a perfect life without problems or any misfortunes. Do you think we will be able to learn how to be strong? Do you think we will be able to know how sweet the victory is if we do not fail?

Carrying our own crosses is God’s way of teaching us to be faithful to Him and as a way of communicating with Him also. Every time we are burdened by these crosses we are sure to call on him for help through prayers. How often we forgot to pray just because we are sailing a smooth ocean? And how often do we tend to doubt His existence just because we are so burdened?

I too have shares of low points which sometimes led me to doubt if indeed He is really there. Problems that overwhelmed me so much which sometimes made me forgot about my faith. But still He is graceful and always welcoming me back into His fold.

Our crosses maybe heavy to carry, but we should not forget that we can share this crosses with others as much as we can share in carrying others crosses. Remember Simon, the disciple who helped Jesus carry the cross when He fell down on the ground. Crosses can be shared especially when we are so weak and we cannot carry its burden anymore. Through prayers we can ask God to somehow help us lighten it or we can ask our friends and families to share with it.

Crosses will always be part of a living person. No matter how heavy it is, we should not get tired of carrying it because God is always there to help us lighten its load. And always remember Jesus was able to came up triumphant of His cross, we too will also triumph over our crosses especially if its shared by You and Me.

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“The more crosses we carried through the more stronger we grew”

Things I Liked and Didn’t Liked about The Hunger Games : A Movie Review

Last Sunday after touring the UP Diliman premises I had the chance to see The Hunger Games on the big screen of Trinoma Cinema. Seeing the trailer and comments from people on the web, I made it a point not to miss this one. And indeed I was not misled, it was a great movie worthy to be watched.

A screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ book with the same title, it tells the story of the TRIBUTES, a boy and a girl drawn via a lottery from the 12 districts of Panem and are slated to compete which each other till death in the annual Hunger Games. Directed by Gary Ross and written also by Gary Ross with Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray, it starred Jeniffer Lawrence as the protagonist Katniss Everdeen, Liam Hemsworth as Katniss’ boyfriend Gale Hawthorn, and Josh Hutcherson as the tribute boy from district 12 Peeta Mellark. With the special participation of Donald Sutherland as President Snow of Panema country.

The movie was great but I just felt hungry for more fight scenes. Basing on the trailer, promos and it’s title, I was in assumption that it will be an action packed movie, but it didn’t cater much on action scenes instead focused on the main characters. How I wish they’ve inserted more action scenes about the Hunger Games itself and their fighting for survival. I just felt it lacked a little bit more action considering the plot of the movie.

But I am very happy with their musical scoring and sound engineering. The movie was able to use great musical scores and sound effects. I love how they effectively incorporated the sounds and music in every scenes of the movie. Superb sound engineers and musical scorers. Cinematography was also great with those shots in the forest and the view of the metropolis as well as visual effects with those holographic thing used. Acting wise, Jeniffer Lawrence was very effective as Katniss Everdeen. She also did good with the action scenes and with that I can compare her to Jeniffer Garner. Also commendable were the acting jobs of Donald Sutherland as President Snow and Wes Bentley as the Head Game Maker Seneca Crane.

All in all it was indeed a film worthy of the price you’ll pay. The story is well written which depicts how the poor is being manipulated by the rich and being forced to be feed in killing each other for their entertainment. It also offered an inspiration of hope that little as you may if you have courage and overflowing hope you can overcome everything. I liked the scene when Katniss paid the last respect to the dead body of Rue and then raised her 3 fingers, which led to some sort of rebellion from the people. As what President Snow said, “Hope is the only thing more powerful than fear. Of little hope is effective, of lot of hope is dangerous.”

It can also be viewed as an upfront to producers of reality shows who are manipulating the games based on what is popular and appealing to the sponsors. It showed that rules of the game can be easily changed based on  popular demands, but in the end they are caught by their own rule when Katniss and Peeta planned to commit suicide by eating the poisonous berry so that no one will win the game.

A story of  hope, of bravery and of love and sacrifice, The Hunger Games is truly a recommended film to watch. Happy Hunger Games, May the odds be ever in your favor.

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“I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me. If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me” – Peeta Mellark