Understanding Death

Understanding Death
By Apolinario Villalobos

For some groups, death is a passage to another life. Others aver that it is a state of just being asleep. The rest, maintains that it is nothing but just the “return of the body to dust”. Rather than be confused as to what it really is,as I might be branded as a heretic, I would rather dwell on its effects.

Death checks the population explosion. Can you imagine if nothing on earth dies? Can you imagine if predators will not prey on animals belonging to the lower strata of wild life? Can you imagine if trees in the forests are left to creep towards all directions? Can you imagine if people of different races do not die of hunger, disease or war? Death, aside from natural calamities is an important segment of a cycle that regulates the “balance” of life on earth.

Death creates heroes. One has to die to become a hero. If Jesus had not died on the cross, would he be considered a hero and redeemer among Christians? Even the early Jews were divided as to how to treat him. The messiah expected by some of them was a warrior who will deliver them from the hands of their oppressors, and not a preacher. He was not even popular in his birthplace, so he decided to go to other places to be able to preach. But, it’s a good thing that he had his disciples who later spread his teachings. Just like Jesus, Muhammad, the founder of Islamic faith faced great odds before his teachings were accepted. His tribe even rejected him, forcing him to go Madinah (known as Yathrib, later, Medina), after 13 years of persecution. It was after he died that his teachings were appreciated. Both died not only as heroes but spiritual leaders whose acts are sincerely emulated by their adherents.

If Ninoy Aquino is living today, would he be considered a hero by Filipinos? Among those that his detractors used against him when he was alive was his being a staunch supporter of Communism in the Philippines. Then, there’s the Hacienda Luisita that haunted even his wife, Cory, up to her deathbed. With the kind of politics that the Philippines has, Ninoy Aquino could have become just like any other politicians trying to survive the squabble in the political arena and thrashes of opponents, in his case, the issues on his ideology and Hacienda Luisita. His death was caused by a “persecution”, because just like Jesus, he was a threat to the one in power. And, because of that, he became a hero among Filipinos who got tired of dictatorship.

Some Filipinos today who are traumatized by the scandals in the government, are wishing for the “resurrection” of Marcos whose administration is now being compared to those who assumed the presidency after his death. They say, though, with a tinge of joke, that during the time of Marcos, corruption was “regulated”, unlike today that those in the government, down to the drivers and messengers, can freely dip their hand in the coffer of the government, even for a flimsy excuse. Some groups are in fact, considering Marcos a hero, because, without him, there would have been no cultural center complex, the Philippine General Hospital would still be the same dilapidated and cramped building that survived WWII, there would have been no kidney, lung and heart centers, etc., etc. etc.

There are still living political icons with significant accomplishments, but they are relegated on the sidelines. They have authored books, pages of which are regularly flipped by students, professionals, and government officials for important information. There are many Filipinos who excel in the fields of literary, arts, science, sports , architecture and technology. Some of them are referred to as “living heroes”, but the reference is with quotation marks which only death can erase.

Death unites families and friends. Members of families whose homes have been broken by misunderstandings that only they know, come together when one of them dies, usually during the wake. Classmates who for decades have no idea how to get in touch with each other suddenly find themselves having a reunion at the wake of a classmate who passed away. Long lost friends and relatives surface during a wake. A morbid joke about the need for a loved one to die before another reunion can be had, oftentimes draws laughs during this occasion.

A death in the family is hard to accept. That is the traditional fact. Sorrow should permeate the air while wake is being held. Those who come are expected to shed a tear. But today, there are bereaved families who even rent a videoke unit to lend a festive air to the occasion. Reason given is that, it is the last wish of the departed.

For some, death is not easy to accept , especially, by those who have amassed wealth. They cannot just take the idea of leaving behind the fruit of their labor. On the other hand, death means financial opportunity for some people – those who work conscientiously long hours in funeral parlors.

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Ang Mga Hindi Nakakatuwang Pagbabago ng mga Salitang Nakasanayan Na

Ang Mga Hindi Nakakatuwang Pagbabago

ng mga Salitang Nakasanayan Na

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Pinagpipilitan ng ilang sektor ang pagtawag ngayon sa “iskwater” o “squatter” bilang “informal settler”. Kung maging literal sa pag-translate ng katagang “squatter”, ang pinakamalapit na katumbas ay “mang-aagaw”, kaya binaybay o inispel na lang na “iskwater” – noon yan. Pero ngayon, dahil “informal settler” na ang pinagpipilitang itawag, ang tanong ay ano ang katumbas nito sa Tagalog o Filipino…”impormal setler”? At bakit ginamit ang salitang “informal”?…kaylan pa naging “formal” ang pang-iiskwat?

 

Ang “squatter’s area” naman na simpleng tinatawag na “iskwater” sa Tagalog o Filipino ay pilit na binabago sa tawag na “depressed area”. Pero, ano naman yan sa Tagalog o Filipino”…”malungkot na lugar”? …lalo pang pinasama ang katawagan! Sa mga lugar na yan, kahit maraming kakapusan sa mga materyal na bagay, masaya ang mga nakatira. Nakita ko yan dahil madalas akong mamasyal sa mga kinatatakutan ng iba tulad ng Baseco Compound, Isla Puting Bato sa Tondo, at mga slums sa gilid ng mga riles at ilog ng Reina Regente.

 

Gumanda nga sa pandinig ang “iskwater” o “squatter”  dahil English ang ginamit, pero ang tinutukoy ay GANOON PA RIN dahil hindi mababago sa anumang katawagan ang tunay na mukha ng kahirapan o poverty.

 

YAN ANG KAHANGALAN NG MAKABAGONG SISTEMA…PINAPAGANDA SA PANDINIG ANG MARAMING BAGAY NA PARA BANG NAGMI-MAKE UP NG MUKHA UPANG “GUMANDA”.  PARA BANG SA MGA BEAUTY CONTEST…NAGPAPAGANDAHAN NG MGA MUKHA ANG MGA KALAHOK, PERO TANGGALAN MO SILA NG MAKE-UP, ANO ANG MANGYAYARI KAPAG “TUNAY” NA MUKHA ANG MALALANTAD? …ANO ANG MAKIKITA?

 

Mapapansing hindi man lang pinag-isipan kung ano talaga ang mga katumbas na katawagan sa Filipino o Tagalog ang mga salitang gustong baguhin, kaya ang ginagawa ng taga-media, ginagamit pa rin ang English kapag nagri-report o nagsusulat sa Tagalog o Filipino. Para sa akin ay hindi yan nakakatuwa.

 

Bakit kailangan pang baguhin ang mga katawagan na hindi na kailangan pang baguhin?…para lang masabing may ginawang pagbabago?… samantalang pwede namang MAG-ISIP NG BAGO NA.

The “Culture of Entitlement”

The “Culture of Entitlement”

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

 

The “culture of entitlement” has made many Filipinos, especially, the youth, dependent on their expected inheritance from rich parents and generous relatives. The expectation has resulted to their indolence and loss of drive to strive on their own. This culture was never a part of the Filipino life prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. Early Filipinos were expected to work hard for survival because of the striated society. Instead of “entitlement”, the early Filipinos were “awarded” for their hard-earned accomplishments.

 

In grave contrast, the western nations, especially, America, are devoid of the aforementioned culture. In America for instance, soonest as a member of the family reaches the age of 18, he or she is expected to move out of the house of the parents to be on his or her own. And, even children of billionaires work hard to earn their living.

 

In the Philippines, children of OFWs and those with high positions in private companies and government tend to take things easy as they are assured of comfortable life, anyway. Some of them even lost interest in pursuing their studies, and develop a vice, instead. They are so conscious about the obligation of their parents to support them, by all means, that some of them even have the courage to ask for their inheritance in advance! Children of some OFWs do not even give a thought to the difficulties that their parents have to hurdle just to be able to send home hard earned money.

 

Unless the attitude of dependence or the culture of entitlement is softened a bit, the character of the Filipinos in general shall continue to be on its downhill trend. But then, some of the parents can be blamed for this attitude for having pampered their children. Some of these parents who have suddenly experienced a bit of affluence due to finances that trickle from abroad give their young children the impression that they are rich which expectedly, has been deeply impressed in their mind. As these children grow, they speak and act as if they belong to rich families!

 

Finally, the aforementioned culture has created chaos in homes as children tend to think that they are not loved by their parents who, on the other hand, think that they have brought up ungrateful children.

 

 

The Hedonistic Celebration of Special Occasions by Impoverished Filipinos

The Hedonistic Celebration of Special Occasions

By Impoverished Filipinos

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Many Filipinos borrow money to celebrate special occasions such as birthday, fiesta, and anniversaries…I mean here, Filipinos who cannot even afford three square meals a day. They hinge their desire on the wrong justification that the celebration is just once a year, anyway. What they forgot is that the obligation to pay the debt could stretch for not less than three months, especially, if the money is from a loan shark who slaps suckers with as much as 20% interest per month! These unthinking Filipinos are blinded by arrogance as they want to show others that they can afford to splurge money. They also forgot that the people who know them are already aware about their impoverish status in life, so that any effort to cover it up, is useless.

 

The hedonistic way of celebrating special occasions among Christians is an influence from pagan Romans who were converted into Christianity. The Roman Saturnalia was celebrated for days with fun – dancing, drinking, eating, and sexual activities with wild abandon. Not only was Saturnalia celebrated without let up but anything that can be used as an excuse. This hedonistic practice was brought to the Philippine archipelago by the Spanish friars who preceded the contingents of armed conquistadores who came on galleons. The friars used the celebrations that they masked with spirituality to entice the natives to come down from their mountain abodes with eventual motive of converting them.

 

Today, the influence is so deeply rooted that it has practically ruined the character of Filipinos in general. As mentioned earlier, many Filipinos would go to the extent of borrowing money from loan sharks in order to celebrate “debut” of daughters, fiestas, birthday, etc, for one day, and suffer from the consequence for months!

 

On the other hand, those who can afford to feed a barangay as a way of celebrating their birthday, for instance, may go ahead, as nothing could stop them, not even this blog that serves as just a simple reminder, and which they may even view as an idiocy!

 

 

Resourcefulness in Cookery

Resourcefulness in Cookery

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

By the time we have grown old, we must have tasted plenty of dishes, some of which we have learned to like and craved to taste again while disdained by others, that we do not even want to imagine them. And, from those exposures, we are supposed to have learned how to prepare what we like best.  Those who are creative enough may have come up with their own based on what they have tasted using occidental and oriental ingredients to come up with a “fusion cuisine”, or just any that are available.

 

Delectability of foods may be enhanced by the color that they assume when cooked, ready for the taking. For this, some people use roots, seeds, and leaves to add color to their dishes, such as Valenciana rice (arroz Valenciana), Java, and Mindanao rice that are colored yellow using turmeric root or powder. The adobo in some regions of the Philippines is colored red due to “achuete” (istiwitis in Ilonggo). The beef curry of the Tausugs is dark-colored akin to “dinuguan”, due to the milk of the coconut meat “burnt” by roasting before it is shredded.

 

Another come-on of the dish is its aroma that tickles the palate. Herbs and spices are employed in this regard. Pasta dishes, especially, spaghetti becomes more scrumptious if sprinkled with sparsely and thyme, or oregano. Herbs hide and preserve meat…this is the reason why the spices of the orient were so longed-for by Europeans during the time when Spain, Holland, England, and Portugal dominated the maritime exploration of the vast oceans in their search for the “spice islands” in the East.

 

Then, there’s the presentation of the dish. High-end restaurants, in trying to have an exotic ambience, serve food on coconut shells, banana leaves, iron dish for sizzling preparations, earthen pot, etc. The way, even the simple steamed rice as the center piece of the dining is presented counts a lot, too. Roasted suckling pig served on the dining table is always with an apple or orange in its gaping mouth, and the whole glistening roasted carcass is surrounded with other fruits and greens.

 

But my most memorable fried rice was served in a coffee mug. It was simply cooked with small bits of carrots, onion, roasted garlic and an added flavor which could be the secret of my host..  It was served to me by Tiya Prax Lapuz, wife of Tiyo Mending Lapuz, pioneer settlers of Tacurong. Despite my having just taken breakfast when I visited them for an interview on their experiences as they embarked on a journey from Luzon to Cotabato, I delightedly finished the fried rice to the last morsel downed with a cup of coffee.

 

As a race known for innovation, we should come up with more dishes based on locally available ingredients. We should not look down to our herbs and spices. Our vegetables can compare well with the imported, and with that, regional dishes can be “fused” with twists, and which can then, be served during special occasions. We should not be limited to spaghetti topped with ground meat and canned tomato sauce or pancit.

 

The Commercialization of Traditions

The Commercialization of Traditions

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Shrewd people see money in everything that man does and needs to do. From birth to death, practically, the life of man is manipulated by these people who created “necessities” without which they made life some sort of miserable to live.

 

When a mother gives birth, today in the Philippines, it has to done in the designated “birthing center” (Paanakan) in every barangay, or clinic or any hospital if available. If the couple lives kilometres away from such center, a vehicle must be hired to reach it. Resourceful husbands may make use of a cart pulled by a carabao, otherwise, it must be a contracted tricycle or a jeepney. Somehow, though, the use of the birthing center is free as mandated by the law. But for goodwill’s sake, the couple must shell out some cash for the midwife whose services come cheaper compared to giving birth in a clinic or hospital. Even if birthing is done at home, the attending “kumadrona” must still be paid for her services.

 

Basic needs of babies have flooded the market, from feeding bottles to diapers and cribs. Registration in the local government’s Registrar’s Office requires money for the processing of documents and so is the baptismal ceremony in the local Church, and more cash is needed for the thanksgiving celebration at home, a social venue, or a restaurant. A year after birth and every year thereafter, there is a need to celebrate the “birthday” so the baby needs new clothes and a celebration has to be made either at home or restaurant or burger outlet, at least. (I found out that many of those from the impoverished provinces who found their way to Manila to look for a job have no birth certificate, as they told me that they were not registered in their locality’s Civil Registrar’s office due to their poverty).

 

Then, of course, the parents have to be given recognition for their sacrifices, so today we have the “Father’s Day” and “Mother’s Day”. Gifts must be bought for them, at least flowers for the loving mother or a new shirt for the hardworking father. When the grown up children decide to get married and have families of their own, their parents become “grandparents”, so there’s also, the “Grandfather’s Day” and the “Grandmother’s Day” to celebrate….presents are needed to be given to show the love of the family. Dine out for bonding needs to be earmarked in the budget. Why the need for such “special” days when it is the obligation of children and grandchildren to show love to them “every day”?

 

Today, schools require that at least parents of their students must attend the “Family Day”, which personally, I just cannot understand because every second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year, the students are with their family or at least with their parents. So why must they spend precious time and money for food and other “contributions” just to be part of this foolish day, either in school campus or in expensive resorts or any other “educational” venue? I assume that this kind of “tradition” which the Department of Education allows is just an invention of some private schools and which later were imitated by other private schools that see the sparkle of cash in the activity. So, there you have the “Family Day” which many parents view as some kind of a racketeering effort. For, how can it be called a “family” bonding day when only the students and their parents are present while the rest of the members are not…as perhaps, brothers and sisters may be busy in the internet café or having fun with their buddies?

 

Another school “tradition” is the so-called “Educational Tour” a familiarization of something or someplace, most often, a mall or a resort. Poor students who cannot afford the fee are slapped with research requirements that will see them a whole day or two at the internet shop if they do not have a computer at home. Just imagine the expense to be incurred if the internet cafe would charge almost Php50 per hour plus printing of several pages of researched materials…everything amounting to almost a thousand pesos or more! Such required research comes out as a punishment for not joining the tour. In other words, joining the junket tour or making research will amount to the same expense, although, the former is purely a leisurely activity while the latter is accomplished with much difficulty.  This academic insanity is such that many parents cannot understand how a trip to a mall or resort can be compared to a researched thesis that can be graded. To justify the tour, schools include in the itinerary a trip or two to some facilities like hotel or restaurant if the course is related to tourism. But, can’t teachers show footages of these facilities as a module in the school room?

 

Of course, as regards recognition, teachers must not be left out because there is now what is celebrated as “Teacher’s Day”, even if some or many of them cannot pronounce the letter “R” properly when speaking in Filipino or any dialect, a mistake that their students perceive as “correct” or “just right”, because their teachers do it.

 

When graduation comes, the “traditional” march and ceremonies require toga, photo taking, and new clothes for mama and papa. No amount of warnings from the seemingly helpless Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education and Culture can stop schools from holding their graduation ceremonies in expensive venues.

 

And, here’s for the “traditional” marriage for the couples in love. Registration in the Municipal or City Hall requires money. Nuptial ceremonies in the church require money, especially, the outfit for the whole entourage. Then, most especially, the feast for the godparents and well- wishers must be impressive as such occasion happens once in one’s lifetime that can even bring parents to tears. For the unlucky ones who call it quits after just a few years of companionship, filing of legal separation or divorce requires money. Those who persist for years till death, have to celebrate “wedding anniversaries”, very important traditions that require symbolic gifts. The “anniversary” tradition dates back to the pagan days and today, it is being observed by Christians and made more colourful with symbolic gifts, mostly made in China!

 

But the most outstanding “tradition” that has made many people filthy rich or woefully poor, is the “Christmas” which was not even celebrated by the original Christians, although, it is supposed to be about the birth of Jesus Christ, as what were celebrated  then, were his circumcision and baptism. I need not elaborate on this, as we already know stories of how, impoverished families would squander hard-earned money during this occasion, while wise businessmen laugh their way to the bank!

 

Finally, when death occurs, the funerary tradition requires money, too. The need to be buried or cremated has given life to the “funeral” and “memorial parks” industries. A lot for two remains could amount to not less than Php200K and some coffins could cost more than a million pesos!

Masarap Sana, Subali’t Nakakalito ang Buhay sa Mundo

Masarap Sana,  Subali’t Nakakalito ang Buhay sa Mundo

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Masarap sana ang mabuhay sa mundo, kung hindi magulo at walang mga kalituhan. Dahil ito sa likas na ugali ng taong mapanlamang, mapag-imbot, at maramot na kadalasang  tumatalo sa mga mabubuting ugali na mapagpakumbaba, mapagbigay, at bukas-palad. Kung mapagpakumbaba ka, siguradong yayapakan ang iyong mga karapatan. Kung mapagbigay ka, siguradong itutulak ka lang sa tabi ng mga mapag-imbot. Kung bukas-palad ka kaya maluwag sa loob ang pagtulong sa kapwa, aabusuhin ka naman.

 

Dahil sa nabanggit na mga kalituhan, yong isa kong kaibigan, ay halos ayaw nang lumabas ng bahay upang makaiwas sa mga hindi magandang mangyayari sa kanya. Dahil sa ginawa niya, itinuring siya ng mga ungas niyang kapitbahay na “makasarili”. Sabi niya minsan sa akin, kung magpapaputok siya ng baril sa kalye siguradong sasabihin ng mga kapitbahay niyang “siga” siya. Sinabihan ko na lang na madaling araw pa lang ay umalis na siya at umatend ng misa sa Baclaran o Quiapo, pagkatapos ay mamigay ng tulong sa squatter’s area at kapag padilim na ay saka na lang siya umuwi – walang mga ungas na kapitbahay ang makakakita sa kanya. Sabi ko nga sa kanya ay maswerte siya at ungas lang ang mga kapitbahay niya…hindi mapagkunwari at mainggitin.

 

Hind lang sa pakikipagkapwa-tao ang may kalituhan, kundi kahit na rin sa mga bagay na kailangan upang mabuhay tulad ng pagkain. Kailangan daw ay kumain ng gulay at isda dahil masustansiya ang mga ito. Subali’t sa palengke, hindi lang isda ang nilulublob sa “formalin”,  ang kemikal na ginagamit sa pag-embalsamo, kundi pati na rin mga gulay upang hindi malanta agad. Ang karagatan at mga ilog na tinitirhan ng mga isda ay marumi na rin. Ang mga nahiwang gulay ay nilulublob sa tawas upang hindi mangitim tulad ng hiniwang langkang nakagawiang iluto sa gata at talong na tinanggalan ng bulok na bahagi, pati binalatang gabi, kamote, at patatas. Ang mga gulay sa pataniman ay alaga din sa mga chemical na pamatay-peste habang lumalago. Yong sinasabing mga “organic” daw ay hindi rin sigurado dahil maraming mga nagtitindang mahilig magsinungaling, makabenta lang. Kung totoo man, ay nakakakuha naman ang mga ito ng lason mula sa hangin.

 

Ang mga karne ay may mga anti-biotic, kaya ang akala ng isang kumpanyang nagdede-lata ng produktong karne ay bobo lahat ng mamimili dahil sinasabi ng ads nila na walang sakit ang mga baboy at manok nila – siyempre, dahil alaga sa antibiotic!…talaga din namang kumita lang, lahat ay gagawin upang makapanlinlang. At, yong mga batang lumaki sa gatas at karne ng hayop, ngayon ay may ugaling hayop na rin…dahil kung hindi man bastos ay lapastangan at suwail pa!

 

Ang mga softdrink lalo na ang “Cokes” (tawag yan ng Bisaya sa Coke”), na pampagana sa pagkain kahit bagoong, toyo, o patis lang ulam ay nakakasira ng kidney at atay. Kung mag-ulam naman palagi ng instant noodles na pinakamura at pinakamadaling iluto, subalit ginamitan ng kemikal upand hindi magdikit-dikit, ay lalo namang sisira ng kidney. Mismong bigas na sinasaing ay may mga chemical din upang hindi kainin ng uod at kuto habang nakaimbak sa bodega, kung saan ay iniispreyhan pa sila upang hindi upakan ng mga daga at ipis.

 

Ang instant na kape ay dumaan din daw sa mga paraan o process na nangailangan ng mga kemikal na hindi maganda sa katawan kahit pa sabihing nakakatulong ang inuming ito sa paglusaw ng cholesterol at bara sa daluyan ng dugo patungo sa puso. Ang asukal na puti ay mayroong bleaching chemical na nagpaputi sa dating manilaw-nilaw na katas na ito ng tubo. Naka-imbento ng artipisyal na asukal upang makaiwas sa diabetes, subalit nakakasira naman din daw ng kidney.

 

Pati mga bitamina na ginagawa sa mga laboratoryo ay pinagdududahan na rin. Kahit maliit lang ang sumobra sa naimon ay magsasanhi na ng overdose na maaari pang maging sanhi ng sakit. Sa puntong ito, ang mga gamot na akala natin ay nakakapandugtong ng buhay ay hindi rin pala magandang basta na lang iinumin, kaya mismong anti-biotic ay hindi na rin ligtas.

 

Ano pa nga ba at, animo ay nag-uunahan ang mga bahagi ng katawan natin kung alin sa kanila ang unang manghihina hanggang bumigay  dahil sa mga pagkaing akala natin ay pampahaba ng buhay, yon pala ay may mga lasong unti-unting nakakamatay. Kaya siguro, madalas na payo ng doctor sa pamilya ng pasyente na may taning na ang buhay, ay pagbigyan na lang ito sa lahat ng hihilingin niyang pagkain dahil wala na rin namang mangyayari bunsod ng lasong nagkakaiba lang ang dami sa bawat pagkain.  Ang maratay dahil sa sukdulang epekto ng lason na nakukuha natin sa mga pagkain at hangin ang ultimate na sitwasyon kung saan ay talagang angkop ang kasabihang, “no choice” at “…no turning back”.  Ang kalagayan ring ito ang nagpapakita na ang tao ay nagsi-self destruct!