A Friend, a gem…

A Friend, a gem…

(For Rex Velez)

 

By Apolinario B. Villalobos

 

 

Friends are earned

Not just by a simple acquaintance

Made in a  day, a week, a month

It’s more than having lunch together

Or enjoying toasts in a drinking spree

But years of being together

Sharing heartaches, and laughter.

 

And having a friend like Rex

Is like having found a gem

In a pile of unwanted stones

That for long, scorched by sun

Coated with layers of dust

Washed with torrential rains

Till exposed by time and sparkled.

 

Emotionally strong

He never buckled under a heavy load

Instead, smiled his way

Through the onslaught of storms

Showing the rest how to enjoy life

This he did with uttered inspirations

And resolved persevering actions.

 

Malala of Pakistan…jewel of courage

Malala of Pakistan

…Jewel of Courage

by Apolinario B Villalobos

Though young, to the world you showed
that age is not a measure
of one’s attitude,

your cherubic smile, so full of innocence
surrounds you with aura
of blinding magnificence,

your heroic deed bespeaks of great strength
and belittled, put to shame

the bulging muscles of men,

angel of Pakistan, you are a jewel of courage

how many young girls your age

will sacrifice for others, as you did?

the world prays for you, that you still live

you are such a rare jewel, hard to find –

breath of relief for deteriorating mankind!

(Malala Yousufzai, of Swat Valley, Pakistan, is a girl of 14, shot by the Taliban for defying them, as she relentlessy went on with her informing the world through the internet, about their atrocities. Todate, she is fighting for her life in a hospital.)

Ripples in the Stream

Ripples in the Stream

By Apolinario B Villalobos

I have always been fascinated

by the stream –

mesmerized by the murmur

that the flowing water makes

as a pebble is thrown into it,

and as the current hits a rock,

as if protesting the presence

that hinders

its smooth journey

along the crevice of the earth.

The gentle touch of a dragonfly,

the sudden appearance of a fish’s snout,

the splash of swimming children,

the soft touch of a falling leaf,

the sudden gust of wind,

the trickles of incessant rain –

cause the ripples that rupture

the earth’s gently flowing stream.

Now that I am old,

I realized

that God has reasons

for  everything,

so He gave us intelligence

to understand them all

without any misgiving.

Indeed, just like a stream

that gets dented with ripples,

challenges and trials

make us cry in anguish;

and like a stream

that just keeps on flowing

there is nothing we can do

but go on living…

If the stream can keep on flowing,

so should we  –

let our lives flow

along the crevice of destiny.

The Slow Death of Mother Nature

The Slow Death of Mother Nature

By: Apolinario B. Villalobos

            Ever wonder why Mother Nature seems to be losing her balance lately?  It’s because of indifference and greed of most of the world’s denizens. Actually, one need not take a second look at what are happening around to understand what the question asks.

We are destroying the very womb that conceived the molecule from which man emanated. Although religion and pure science differs tremendously as to how man and where man originated, it boils down to one source – Mother Nature.  It is unfortunate that in time, as man further developed his knowledge on life in general, greed is not far behind, bred by the unquenchable need for survival.

Mother Nature is the essence of life.  She is the thread that weaves the earth together into an immense globe of life. We all live because of a system which science dubbed symbiotic relationship.  It is a system that works by inter-living or in the layman’s language – giving and taking.  All creatures accommodate each other in a way that everyone  becomes dependent to each other. The system is also like that of a clock that functions properly if all parts are likewise functioning accordingly.  A breakdown of one part causes the breakdown of the clock as a whole. In other words, there is some kind of mutual responsibility that holds the whole system together. And within that responsibility is Mother Nature. We are all part of Mother Nature’s ecological system.

We cannot afford to break the very thread of system that sustains life on earth.  It is suicide. But despite warnings by concerned groups about the imminent danger of our actions in general that slowly destroy Mother Nature, we have become oblivious even to the resulting catastrophes: flood, soil erosion, fishkill, diseases, etc.

Alas! Progress has given a prescription of slow death to the already ailing Mother Nature. Factories along rivers and the coast wantonly spill their wastes to these geographic arteries aside from belching their carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Housing developers who are in need of gravel and sand indiscriminately mine rivers for these,  causing the erosion of their banks. Garbage haulers dump their collections in landfills without safety measures causing seepage to underground sources of drinking water. Production of transportation is uncontrolled necessitating usage of more fossil fuel that worsens the already polluted state of the air that we breath. The ocean has become a vast dumping ground of toxic waste products.

What can a handful of environmentalist groups do?  They have practically become a voice in the wilderness so to speak, in their fight against corporations involved in the passionate destruction of Mother Nature. Some towns and cities declared their territories to be plastic – free. Fine. But why are the rest having second thought in following suit? Is it because big politicians protect the interest of plastic factory owners in their turf? Why can’t the national agency concerned in the preservation of forests put a stop to wanton destruction of the remaining vegetated mountains? Is it because big politicians themselves are involved in the logging industry? Why can’t the same national agency put a stop to unscrupulous mining activities that result to landslides? Is it because of the wads of bills that greased the palms of the people who administer this agency?

Regrets always come at the end. And, with what is happening around us, no amount of regret  can put a stop to the slow death of Mother Nature.

 

Pride and Mistakes

Pride and Mistakes

By Apolinario B Villalobos

 

Nobody is free from the guilt of committing mistakes, be they petty or enormous.

Nobody shall ever learn unless he or she has committed mistakes, hence, the adage “learn from mistakes”.

 

While some are humble enough to learn from mistakes…the rest are overwhelmed by their pride… they refuse to admit their mistakes. The refusal is like a chain that holds them back from moving on.

 

The mistakes we made are steps we took towards our destiny. Refusing then, in admitting our mistakes shall imply that we did not move on, since we did not make any step at all!

The arrogant cannot accept the fact that man is not perfect…or that man is bound to commit mistakes in life.

 

Pride feeds on adoration of accumulated wealth, dizzying success, or plain appalling  attitude. The arrogant filthy rich thinks, his money can buy anything, including power to hide mistakes. The success-intoxicated man thinks that he can do just anything better than anybody else, otherwise he can’t be successful. And, there’s the simply conceited man who sees himself as the only rightfully thinking creation of God, with the rest, wallowing in mistakes.

 

I think, the best thing to do, is evaluate what we have done and said at the end of the day. It is important to know if we have done anything that could have displeased others, hence, displease Him. That is the reason, perhaps, why He gave us brains. Let us put to proper use that one attribute which makes us superior to the rest of His creations.

 

The Journey of Man

The Journey of Man…

And the Mother’s Extended Hand

 

By Apolinario B Villalobos

 

Since birth man is destined to undertake a journey…

 

As a helpless infant, he is helped in his journey by his mother. As a toddler when he has learned to crawl, his curiosity brings him to all directions of his playpen, living room of the house, bedroom, anywhere that he is allowed to explore.

 

When he learns to take a few steps, he goes further where accidents that he encounter give him lessons to be learned as regards things that should be touched or play with.

 

When he enters a prep school, his physical journey is coupled with mental explorations through the pages of coloring  and big-lettered illustrated books.

 

When he joins his peers in elementary he steps up the ladder of knowledge that he continues to do as he enters high school and college. Along the way, he meets friends.

 

Everybody’s been through all these…

 

The journey is not without difficulties. And, to help us through them, there’s always our mother who would extend a hand every time we stumble. Through thick and thin, she is always around giving us assurance, always ready to help.

 

I cannot  just imagine life without a mother!

 

Patience is one virtue that mothers are born with. Our mother overflows with it.

 

In our journey, we always see her hand giving us directions. Sometimes we feel it, as she pushes us on if we are at the verge of quitting. Sometimes her hand would give us a slight pat if we make mistakes.

 

As for me, I have done my best to follow the right direction in my effort to reach my destination. This I did as I tread on long roads that sometimes wind through rock-strewn hills, as they poetically say of challenges.

 

Yes, the road of life is not that smooth. But thanks to the extended hand of my mother.  At last, I am where I should be…        

Investments in Life

Investments in Life

By Apolinario B Villalobos

Investments in life are made in stages:

1. When a man and a woman meet each other, they invest TRUST and LOVE to each other with a hope that these shall develop into a wise decision to get married, hence, give them a reason to settle down as a couple.

2.  As a couple, they invest PATIENCE and HARDWORK into their lives in order to earn money.

3.  The couple invests the MONEY in a home of their own and things for their coming offspring.

4.  The couple invests MONEY for the food, supplements and medicines for their offspring so that they will grow healthy. As they grow, more MONEY is invested for their education with a hope that they will have a bright future later on. When the offspring leave home to make their own investments, the couple is left alone. This is the last stage of their investment. They are back to each other’s arms – alone.

Unfortunately, SOME couples forgot to invest for their COMFORTABLE retirement. It is only later they learned that social security retirement is not enough to cover supplements, medicines, regular medical check ups, and salary for caregiver that come with old age.

Worse, SOME very unfortunate couples found out that their children whom they nurtured with love since birth develop amnesia that makes them forget that somewhere in a province or a depressed residential area, are two aging persons, living in a crumbling house…aging persons who could not even help themselves to the toilet or take a bath.

Not ALL offspring are kind enough to SHOW love to their parents who smothered them with love  when they came into this world. SHOWING love to the parents is not paying them back for what they have done. SHOWING love to another person is a SPIRITUAL obligation, be he or she is a kin or a stranger.

Loving parents do not bother themselves with a seemingly wasted investment such as mentioned above. They know, it is their obligation to raise their children decently, properly, complete with love.

Indeed, investment is always shaded with risks.

The Day Mother Died

The Day Mother Died

By Apolinario B. Villalobos

Less than a year

Of our father’s death

Our dear mother had to go

My siblings and I

Seemed lost

But is there anything

We can do?

Young at twelve to understand

Friends consoled me

Patted my back

Told me “we are just around”

We will not leave you

Somehow the pain was lessened

But for such a loss

Pain was deeply rooted

That my heart bled

At the thought

Though tears

I cease to shed.

(My first year in high school barely started when our mother died. When she was finally brought home, I was still in school. Not knowing what happened I was surprised to find family friends and some people I did not know crowding our yard. When I saw the remains of my mother, I did not know what to do until finally, tears rolled down my eyes. Without father and mother, the four of us were practically left on our own. Next to me, our youngest sister was still in grade five. Despite what happened, we struggled on, but this time with more difficulty. Trickles of financial help came but barely enough for our daily survival. There were days when we would skip breakfast. Finishing high school in top five of the graduating class entitled me to a partial scholarship in college but still I begged the Irish school priest/director to give me a job in school just like my elder brother who was already a “working student” with allowance. I was after the monthly allowance. Out of pity the kindly priest gave in to my insistence. While in second year college, I tutored two sisters, and as I did it during lunchtime, I practically skipped my midday meal. While in third year until my fourth year, I accepted a weekend job. Out of patience, I finally finished college from a Catholic  parochial school. It was a tortuous journey. But I am thankful for it as it toughened me more… made me stronger.)          

Home Remedies

Home Remedies

by Apolinario Villalobos

I am having a second thought on what title to use for this short essay. I know some readers would raise their eyebrows for the “remedies” that I find safer than “cures”. But I got no choice but to go ahead.

Deaths in our family are caused by cancer. It is for this reason that I practically research on this disease every time I have an opportunity, including talking to people who suffer from such, and taking their testimonies seriously. When a friend told me about the benefits of some condiments such as turmeric, cinnamon, anise, herbs like lemon grass, oils like virgin coconut oil, virgin olive oil, and lately, guyabano and garlic, I immediately tried them. My interest is triggered by my worry about lymph nodes in my underarms, lower lip and rectal area. In three weeks, the small cysts in my underarms are gone. The one in my lower lip is fast reducing in size, also the one in my rectal area.

Here is how I am doing it: Using a l.5 liter, I boil 10 pieces of guyabano leaves (fresh or dried), 1 teaspoon of turmeic, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 3 stalks of lemon grass, and five pieces of star anice. I use the concoction for my coffee in the morning which I sweeten with 1 teaspoon of raw honey. I use a big coffee mug because I also include 3 spoons of oatmeal, 2 spoons each of virgin coconut oil and virgin olive oil. After pouring the concoction into the coffee mug, I cover it and set  aside for about 10 minutes before drinking. I stir the content of the mug before drinking to ensure that nothing is wasted. The remaining concoction is practically my “water” for the whole day. Before the day ends, I add 2 mugs of water to the kettle for slight boiling. On the second day, I add water to what are left in the kettle, but add the same amount of turmeric, cinnamon and anise for boiling. I change the content of the kettle every third day.

For the garlic, I put unpeeled 2 whole pieces in the kettle just when the concoction starts to boil. I remove them from the kettle after about 5 minutes and eat 1 whole piece with my meals (lunch and dinner). The garlic losses it smell and sharp taste in the process mentioned. I just peel the garlic, clove by clove while enjoying its buttery texture during the meal. Aside from the fresh garlic, I also take two 500mg. garlic capsules with my lunch and dinner.

Here are their uses: the garlic is anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-diabetis, in fact dubbed as Russian antibiotic; the anise clears the bronchial tube of phlegm; the turmeric is anti-cancer, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, lowers harmful cholesterol, anti-diabetis; the cinnamon is anti-diabetis; both lemon grass and guyabano are anti-cancer.

In my case, there is a noticeable immediate result because I am a vegetarian, though occasionally eats fish and eggs. For those who eat meat, I would suggest a moderation in this diet.

With each meal, I also drink a concoction of 1 spoon of apple cider vinegar and 2 spoons of honey diluted in one mug of water. Ever since I started this, my hyperacidity is gone.