August 21, 1983

“I have weighed all the virtues and faults of the Filipinos, and I have come to the conclusion that the Filipino is worth dying for.” — Benigno Aquino Jr (November 27, 1932 – August 21, 1983)

I remember it was a sunny and sleepy Sunday. The TV was on, as it always was when the whole family was home. I remember we just had lunch and I think my dad was reading, a tall Nescafe glass of instant black coffee nearby. I don’t remember what I was doing or what any of my brothers were doing. I do remember the breaking news, about Ninoy getting shot, not so much because of who he was, but because my dad sat up, told me to hush up. I remember he said, “Naloko na,” as we watched the news. I remember my mom was suddenly in the room, and both of them staring wide-eyed and riveted at the TV, shocked. I remember one of them said, “Hala, pinatay nila si Ninoy” [“They killed Ninoy”]. It must’ve been my mom. I remember asking who Ninoy was. I remember the grainy TV footage, a man in white going down the tarmac, I remember he stumbled, then toppled over. That was the first I’ve seen a real person getting shot on TV. I remember that everything seemed to be at a standstill. And suddenly quiet, as if everyone was holding their breath. It was an ordinary day. But Ninoy died and nothing was the same after. Change was in the air.

Midweek break: Clap along if you’re happy

Citizens of Tacloban and environs sing and dance to Pharell’s “Happy”. Got this vid from a friend who posted it on Facebook, and I loved it so much decided to post it here as well. This made me smile and the day brighter. Maybe because things happen so quickly in the Philippines — a situation can go from bad to worse in an instant, or can turn the other way and become a celebration — or we’re just so used to things not going our way, devastating natural disasters, venal politicians, stupid laws, widespread poverty, are just some of things that come to mind, that we have a deeper wellspring of goodwill, humor and positivity to draw from. So God bless the people featured here for being able to smile and, yes, look at the positive side even if there is devastation all around. Best coping mechanism ever.

Country mouse, city mouse

“Well, I’m back.” — Samwise Gamgee, after seeing off Frodo, Bilbo and the elves to the Grey Havens

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The neighbors’ house as seen from our porch. This is what I miss about home — the greenery! I’m surrounded by greenery in Singapore as well, but it’s different at home because it isn’t… tamed. Shrubs and plants and trees are allowed to grow where they must.

Was trawling through my phone’s camera roll, and found myself smiling at some of the pictures of my Christmas break at home. I didn’t really take a lot of photos because well, vegging out to me means forgetting about the world outside for awhile, disengaging and just letting provincial life take over…

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Grace notes

This morning, I interviewed Filipino-Canadian author, Marie Claire Lim-Moore about her book, Don’t Forget the Soap and Other Reminders from My Fabulous Filipina Mother. We got to compare notes about our childhoods and how we were raised and she mentioned that the hardest lesson that she had to learn from her mom was the idea of gratitude — to be always mindful of and grateful for what we have and what is given to us.

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After the storm

A Philippine flag flutters atop the control tower of a damaged airport after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, in the central Philippines. Haiyan is possibly the strongest typhoon ever to hit land.

[Image borrowed from Romeo Ranoco/Reuters]

I don’t have words today. It’s hard to concentrate on words and work when news just keeps coming of thousands of fellow Filipinos displaced by Yolanda (international name Haiyan). I’m left feeling helpless at the devastation as recounted in this heartbreaking story. (Full disclosure: Written by my brother who is on the scene to cover the tragedy.) Not being in the Philippines, I really can’t do much except send money or goods to aid relief efforts. And of course, spread the word for where you can donate or send money and goods to the affected.

There’s been a lot of aid and relief efforts being organised, but here’s a list from the Happy Lab site for those who may need a place to start: How You Can Help Victims of Yolanda.

I guess in times like these, words are unnecessary. Actions always speak louder. Let’s please help in every little way we can.