I was waiting in a shed one day when a man with a tamed smile came over to ask what time it was. Both of us were expecting for a friend to appear and during that time we engaged in small talk. The man looked excited, hale and inspired. There were wrinkles near his eyes, a little folded skin on his neck but anything else seem nothing revealing nor would betray a man in his mid 50’s.
“I’m almost 85 years old,” he whispered. “And I am here waiting for someone I have not met for half a century.”
He never even looked like one who has reached the 60s but he confessed that his eyes were no longer that keen anymore and that his real age would manifest in his poor hearing. But everything about him was fine. He still could walk spritely, converse heartily, could stand for hours, jump a little and could stoop to reach for his toes without difficulty. “You see, I was abroad, in Hawaii for 11 years. I was a dishwasher in Marriot Hotel but dishwashing there is not the same as dishwashing at home. They have this spray of hot water, which is showered on used plates, and after a while, the plates were moving on a cart from one side to another almost dried in a jiffy. That simple and on an hourly basis I am paid for $15. That means $150 for 10 hours and beauty of it was that I had full meals for free. Kidding aside, I have never tasted water during the entire stretch of my overseas work. I only used water when rinsing my mouth in the morning and all through out the day I drank 8 to 10 glasses of milk on the average!”
That to me was a revelation. The milk he consumed during the period even if he never took a sip later would have welded on in his system already. It was milk that made him look young, well even youthful, and vigorous. Accordingly, he never had any major sickness and if at all he never felt well, it was more on laziness than colds on a weather-beaten day.
Yes indeed, it’s milk. And why not. It was the first food any human being had as soon as he is born. It is the primary source of nutrition for the young mammal before he could be able to digest solid food. It was a magic potion for his life in the beginning. It made his bones strong, his innards functioning properly, his brain cells accurately formed, and his poise confident and proud.
It is milk that is a key contributor to improving nutrition and food security and offers significant promise in reducing malnutrition in the world. And I would even dare say that it is not only a complete food but also the only food, within the reach of anyone, that could arrest ageing and retains youthfulness in man. Any other exotic herbs or preparation may approximate the potency of milk but these could only be derived when there is proper or proportionate formulation. In milk, everything is naturally framed if not perfectly primed.
(NOTE: Numerous studies have found that conjugated in oleic acid, found mainly in milk provides several health benefits including prevention of atherosclerosis, different types of cancer and hypertension and improved immune function.
There is a recent evidence suggesting consumption of milk is effective at promoting muscle growth and improving post exercise muscle recovery.
In 2010, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health identified a substance in dairy fat, that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and lowered the risk on contracting cardiovascular diseases in older adults.)
My old acquaintance met his friend ahead of me and he waved at me as they briskly walked away. The man looked like anyone of the youthful pedestrians crossing the wide street. A few paces away, I could no longer determine who among the throng was the 85-year-old fellow. His agility and age I could not reconcile. What stuck in my mind that time was to proceed to the nearest grocery to pluck out a can of fresh milk from the counter.
Looking old and feeling grouchy? Drink milk and worry no more.
New York based scientists found a responsive hormone they intend to develop into a drug to treat diabetes. This is good news for Filipinos who are predisposed to the disease, which has been passed on genetically, and for some, an effect of dietary abuse. Filipinos are rice eaters; rice as staple, which is pure sucrose, the source of sugar that could promote diabetes. It weakens the pancreas—where insulin is produced by beta cells. Death caused by diabetes is trending and threatening to replace hypertension as the number one killer.
There are also studies that suggest that Filipinos are also fond of eating bitter gourd or ampalaya, an edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all fruits. This is a plant of the tropics and which has been discovered to have strengthening properties favorable to a healthy pancreas. Provinces in the country like in Northern Luzon where ampalaya is part of their meal never knew any ailment related to pancreas, much more so pertaining diabetes. But the trend in consuming processed food, courtesy of food chains, lured people to change also their eating habits. Where ampalaya falls short from the list. As a consequence, ailment related to a weak pancreas like diabetes has entered the picture.
Hence, for a diabetic, he needs a shot of insulin to move and work normally in a day. Without such medical intervention, he feels sluggish, haggard and lethargic. Worst, a diabetic in effect has high blood sugar which could lead to heart disease, stroke and damage to kidneys, eyes and the nervous system. A simple bruise may turn into a diabetic wound, an injury difficult to care and treat. To a large extent, amputation of affected part, like legs and arms, are surgically resorted to in order to arrest the growth of the infection.
I have a friend who was devastated by diabetes to the extent that both his legs were badly affected. Both his lower extremities had discolored and almost turning blue. Blood has thickened that it was no longer circulating properly. He was sent to the hospital for possible amputation. It was there where I saw a picture of a dejected person a shadow of a former jovial personality. I left after a few minutes. Three months later, I received an invitation from my friend to visit him at home. I would picture my friend as wheel chair-bound patient and gloomy. I must borrow courage to stand in front of his gate and as I was ushered to his living room, I was surprised to see my friend, in shorts, with a healthy (real) legs at that about to jump to see me. He confided to me that after my hospital visit, he would just repair back home to await his fate. He tried reading books and pamphlets about herbal cures —which I send to him via email and there he came across the effect of muscovado (unprocessed sugar, or as we call in the vernacular, panutsa). Since he had nothing to lose, or since he was about to lose his legs anyway, he might as well try muscovado. He had in all his meals where sugar is needed, used muscovado instead. He would even consume a kilo within a week. Result: his legs changed its color to a healthy hue. A month later, he went for a regular medical check up and his doctor was surprised to note that his diabetes has been cured! I don’t know if his meal included ampalaya, although I presumed he does because I noticed his garden featured a row of vines of bitter gourd, but his disclosure were more of muscovado. There is subsequent cure for those with diabetes indeed.
For the new generation, there are numerous procedures to undertake without resorting to drugs or waiting breathlessly on the findings of scientists to cure diabetes. As a matter of fact, it is just a simple routine. Eat only a small proportion of rice and include into the weekly meal menu an ampalaya. Don’t forget muscovado too. And kiss diabetes goodbye.
A study recently revealed that sitting for more than five hours a day would most likely invite a chronic disease. Hence, on line journalists, drivers, desks jockeys, radio announcers are at risk, if they are 45 to 65, to contract diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases. The research also noted that this observation is prevalent among men than in women.
Another study was nearly concluded defining pain as it is experienced by men and women. Accordingly, women tolerate pain better than men. It has been viewed that women undergo monthly periods and childbirth, a visually painful episode, which most men would rather not go through although biologically impossible. While this observation remained empirical, the study noted that estrogen in women flood their bodies with “feel good” chemicals capable of overriding pain signals. The lesson here is clear: Men should never challenge women if their (men folks) threshold for pain is not significant.
Beware of FLU. That’s what the summer message should be. Please consider the following health bulletin as projected by media and tucked in between inside pages almost printed in passing. It says: “First case of bird flu hits the Philippines.” This is followed by: “Flu season hitting its peak! And, “Scientists: Bird flood can spread by air.” Then, “Vietnam bird flu rises to 39.” Another warning is: “Athletes are prime spreaders of Flu and Colds.” Worst, flu vaccine is limited and for the poor sector, the cost is almost unreachable.
It pays to be cool always. A recent report revealed that daily stresses are directly linked with long-term mental illness. The study likewise debunked what for decades have been a mantra and a famous quote as promoted by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche when he said “that which does not kill us make us stronger.” It has been noted that not only major life events but also minor emotional experiences contribute subsequently to the development of mental illness on the person.
Whenever I am peeved at the undisciplined driving habits of public transport system (buses, tricycles, motorcycles), I always think about what Rolito Go, the infamous prisoner who was charged of road rage and penalized with a life term in the penitentiary, as he, one day, confessed his sentiments to me by way of unburdening his frustration. He said, “Sir, I am literally paying more than twenty years in prison for that three-second anger I expressed.”
Here is a new coordinated food review. Taking in less salt and more potassium reduces the risk of stroke and could make you live longer. Now, let us translate this into our everyday food intake. It means that we should eat less daing and should always have a banana after every meal. In other words, studies found “that reducing the amount of salt in a diet can lower blood pressure, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. Additionally, an increase in potassium can also help heart functions without adversely effecting kidney functions or hormonal levels.”
It has been said that children of better educated parents have healthier diets. This is because they read a lot, they analyze so much and they are concerned about current events. That should not however deter people to be health conscious whether educated or not. Puericulture centers in Barangays should be active in promoting hygienic and other health measures to their constituencies. And this should include the proper intake of nutrition and diets.
I began to interview in earnest those I considered as healthy persons (and lift interesting statements from references too), especially from those who have reached an advanced age—the so called survivors. Their insights may give me something to think and tinker about; and it might be a nice piece of advice worth sharing. Here are my notes and quotes.
- “Eat not to get full but merely to bite a piece to ease hunger.”
- “Greet the day by looking straight (with eyes closed of course) on the early morning sun rise. After taking several deep breath and a few stretches, the power of the sun would settle into our system already. And that signals a good start.”
- “An early morning cleansing of the intestine must be a regular ritual if one is to kick toxins off from the body for the day.”
- “A good laugh in a day is equal to a week of balanced diet.”
- “Mellow or classical music sets the tone for the day and inspires appetite.”
- “Feeling hungry is better than feeling full.”
- “A good night sleep is more exciting than a night of merriment.”
- “Evade talks pertaining negative matters, it merely attracts sickness.”
- “Don’t get angry at anyone, just pity them.”
- “Feeling low or in pain? Sing a song.”
- “Acquire the habit of Thinking and everything will follow.”
- “A ripened papaya smoothen skin once it is applied accordingly.”
- “Walk, don’t run. Breath slowly, don’t huff.”
- “Eat fruits. Our teeth and innards are designed by nature to munch and digest it properly.”
- “Our stomach appreciates fruits. But when we eat meat, our stomach cannot distinguish it from cardboard!”
- “The greatest wealth is Health.”
- “To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.”
- “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”
- “Keep the pineal gland operating
and you won’t grow old—you will
always be young.” (Note: The pineal gland is situated in the inner side of the brain and protected from all sides from any jarring or injuries .It is like an hourglass of our body.)
- “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”
― Louis Pasteur
- “When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.”
- “Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend.”
― Lao Tzu
- A little chocolate a day keeps the doctor at bay”
- “When our emotional health is in a bad state, so is our level of self-esteem. We have to slow down and deal with what is troubling us (EITHER BY READING, WRITING OR SINGING), so that we can enjoy the simple joy of being happy and at peace with ourselves.”
- The true Losers in Life, are not those who Try and Fail, but those who Fail to Try.”
- Your brain is the command and control center of your body. If you want a better
body, the first place to ALWAYS start is by having a better brain.”
THIS IS WHY I WANTED TO SHARE THIS PIECE SO THAT IF WE HAVE A BETTER BRAIN, WE CAN TRAIN IT FURTHER TO BE AT ITS BEST FOR OUR HEALTH.
Nag retire sa pribadong serbisyo si Ka Pedring bilang isang supervisor sa isa sa pinaka-malaking pataniman ng saging sa Davao del Norte. Lumampas na ang panahon na kung saan siya ay nabibilang sa mga sikat at mahigpit na taga-matyag ng mga laborers—- na kanyang kasamahan—- sa farm. Palibhasa nga at siya’y strikto, hindi siya naging popular sa nakararaming trabahador. Pero ganun ang kanyang trabaho at kung eestapahin niya ang trabaho, hindi naman siya tatagal at tyak siya ay matatanggal. Kaya ayun, si Ka Pedring, mistulang litrato ng isang mapanuri at mapagmasid na farm supervisor.
Ilan taon din siyang nanilbihan sa pribadong kumpanya at yun naman ay nabiyayan siya ng isang paghanga. Nang siya ay magretire, kumpleto ang kanyang benepisyo at pribilehiyo. Yun nga lang, hanggang sa kasalukuyan, ilap ang kanyang mga dating kasamahan at wala siyang gaanong naging malapit na kaibigan.
Si Ka Pedring ay may gulang na 62 ngunit sa kangyang pag-iisa at bihira na ngang lumabas sa kanilang kabahayan, siya ay mapagkakamalang 92 na! Matuwid pa rin ang kanyang tindig ngunit pahukot na siya kung lumakad. Mukhang malusog at walang high blood pa si Ka Pedring, pero malagum ang kanyang paghinga, animoy may hika. Palibhasa wala na siyang pinagkaka-abalahan, buong araw siyang nakasalampak sa isang sulok na lang at ang kanyang bihis ay bihirang mapalitan. Araw-araw ang kanyang galaw ay madaling hulaan. Naka-shorts at sando lang siya. Matapos buksan ang unahang pintuan nila, magtitimpla na siya ng kape at duon sa likuran ng bahay, na may nakalundong lubid na duyan, ay kanya itong sasampahan na. Duon ipagpapatuloy muli ang kanyang pag mumuni-muni hanggang sa mawalan ng malay sa himbing ng tulog.
Ang asawa ni Ka Pedring ay retired na teacher kaya wala na rin ginagalawan bukod sa minsanang pagtanggap ng bisita na kapwa retired na rin sa pagtuturo. Tatlo ang kanilang anak na pawang may mga pamilya na rin. Bumukod na ang dalawa at ang pananay na lang ang kasama nila sa bahay. Ito ay nagta-trabaho kaya sa gabi na lang sila nagkikita buong pamilya. Sa loob ng isang araw, mayroon silang tigi-tig-iang mundong pinamumugaran.
Tuwing hapon andun si Ka Pedring. Naalala ko tuloy ang aking Tatay. Pero nagka-ganun din si Tatay nung siya ay umabot sa 85 years old. Nung kasing edad niya si Ka Pedring, matikas na professor si Tatay at bukod sa namamasahe papunta iskwelahan, ina-akyat niya classroom niya sa ika-11 palapag ng building! Ganun siya kalakas at kasigasig. Pero si Ka Pedring, sa tingin ko, maka-11 hakbang lang, gusto na uling humilatsa at umidlip!
Malakas makapanghina ang retirement lalo na kung wala itong kasamahang ganun din ang sitwasyon na nakaka halubilo ng regular. Pawang mga lumang tugtugin na lang ang nagbibigay sigla sa kanya. Palibhasa naka ugalian na ang maging strikto, pati ang kanyang asawa ay andap na rin siyang kibuin. Hinahayaan na lang siyang umugoy-ugoy sa isang sulok, miski na papakin pa siya ng lamok na mistulang may buto na sa laki.
Si Ka Pedring, aking kapitbahay, minsang kong nakapalagayan, at palibhasa minsa’y humingi ng tulong, ay mailap na kumilos. Siguro akala niya maniningil ako kaya pinili na lang niyang umiwas at magpanggap na may karamdaman.
Sa ganyang paraan, tyak baka siya mahipan ng hangin at matuluyan na ang kanyang panghihina.
Christmas is a season of joy, of exchanging gifts and pleasantries, of greeting one another, of renewing vows of love and friendship. In other words, it is a period when one embraces charity, kindness and compassion. This is the air that pervades in the free community.
In prison, there is no such air. How can a prisoner feel Christmas when he is serving time in a facility he cannot even call home? How can he rejoice the yuletide season when he is encircled by people he never knew from Adam. Try eating while people with hostile background are around you and you will get the point. You probably might feel that you are a tube where on one end something is introduced and in another it exits unceremoniously.
While it is true that during the season, prisoners are inspired to fashion out Christmas décor in various proportions, the holiday aura is definitely missing. Worst, it is at this point when thoughts of prisoners are focused on escaping! The prison community therefore is gripped with tension, enveloped with stress and strained with security restrictions. It is one stretch of a yearly break where prison administration is distressed with the weight of anxiety, hassled by endless stream of worry and anticipating the trauma of prison violence.
Christmas unfortunately, with its sacred significance is lost in the consciousness of prison life. Sometimes it is used as reference for soliciting gifts, at times made as template for indulging prison volunteers on their crusade for repentance but on the whole, it is just a passing period whence prisoner would base the length of their stay in prison.
Christmas in prison? Ask me about it—- once all prisons are empty.
As I was browsing on my facebook account I was amazed at one picture. It is about two dogs, sleeping soundly and wrapped in satin blanket. Naalala ko tuloy yung alaga kong monkey sa Iwahig when I was then its Superintendent.
Ganun din kung matulog, naka-kumot at naka-musketero pa. Marunong na rin kumain gamit ang kubyertos. Minsan nagulat ako kasi nagbabasa na at natiempuhan ko pa na nagsusulat. BINUGBOG KO NGA! Isipin mo gusto pa akong unahan mag enroll sa doctorate course.
Sometimes I cannot help but be tormented with the information about a friend who was sent on a critical evacuation to the nearest hospital. Well, not just one actually but several as if they have conspired to assault the serenity of the emergency room. Most of them my age and the rest are younger by several years. Their ailments are common for those in their mid life—high blood pressure, cardiac vein blockade, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, pancreatic defects, ulcer, cancer, lung trouble, etc., name it, and the catalogue is there, the list seemed endless. Looked like all my friends subdivided all ailments due those in our age range and now they all troop to the hospital for confirmation.
What staggered my friends is the cost of hospitalization. Admission is a shocker already. Add the laboratory and initial examination, the basic medical and related supplies, then one suspects already that he lived to earn that which he intends to pay in one day what for decades he scrimped for hard work.
Most if not all my friends are hearty eaters. The loved good foods: tasty, nutritious and everything included in the pamphlet for delicatessen. And they do not only pamper themselves with the flavor and tang, they literally empty everything that passes through their fancy. In other words, they eat not only a mouthful, but a lot. That for me is where the trouble begins. When the food ingested is not burned, it becomes toxic. Once it becomes poison, then the internal organs of the body suffers. The person gets sick and not only sick in a passing way, but treacherously sick. That explains why those who do not feel well would never walk slowly for check up; they are brought in a stretcher!
The Christmas season, its celebratory façade, may be blamed. Everything nutritious abound. Prosperity is artificially created to establish accomplishment and everyone is enjoined to partake. That is where ailments are triggered. Good food flows everywhere. Plus holidays and merry making. It is enough fuses to ignite an explosive period on one’s health. And usually, the explosion pushes one inside the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital!
I don’t know but this season, I intend to fast for my friends.
By now, my dear sister must have been there in the great beyond—specifically in Heaven because she is never bad—- with our parents already. I could only reflect on the time they have spent here, the responsibilities left behind for me to fend and those matters that they intended to realize, but never made it on time. Mother left us when she was barely 59 years old in 1989, still strong although she must have weakened considerably after suffering from three successive strokes. She was gone in an instant not because of ailment but because of treachery of criminals. I vowed to hunt these perpetrators to the end of the earth. Father followed at a ripe age of 86 sometime in 2008.
Nanay was gone when father was only 67 years old and my father, ever the workaholic, was very active in the academe. Tatay was forced to retire though after reaching 70 but would rather seek an active and productive routine after that. Tatay never slowed down even after reaching the 80s. He would find time visiting and helping prisoners. He was still hale and healthy although he had undergone the cruelest medical procedures when he was in his mid and late 50s.
On hindsight, we must have some kind of “signos” after reaching the midlife period. Nanay, Tatay and lately Doris went through a fatal situation. Well, as for Tatay, he breezed it through. Nanay and Doris were not as lucky. And that meant a lot for typical Filipinos who succumbed to a grave ailment after reaching the half-century mark.
Medical science is even more pronounced when it comes to studying this specific age range. Accordingly, eyesight becomes poor, for males the prostate becomes vulnerable, for females it signaled a menopausal stage. Problems with kidneys, lungs, internal organs, blood pressure and the heart are almost automatic as if the period of 50 indicates a warning sign, some kind of a bell ringing before the recess period. Diabetes, arteriosclerosis, emphysema, aneurism, cancer and a host of other fatal diseases are sworn to appear in this period. And why not? There was a frozen fossil of early man discovered in mountains of the Arctic period, which was studied by scientists, and they have concluded that the remains of the man died due to old age. The bones were carbon dated to have existed within the period where Mammoths were not yet extinct. The age of the Stone Age man was 37!
We were still lucky to have transgressed this early period of mankind. But with civilization comes a host of challenges both to health and lifespan. While we have extended a period within which to enjoy life, it comes with a number of challenges to confront and overcome. Firstly, the vices. Secondly, the tensions. Thirdly, the means of sustaining whatever it is that brings forth contentment as against those that promulgates pain and sufferings. There is calamity, viruses, incompetence, war, accident and all forms of life threatening instances in between. Amidst this influx of considerations, there is a small space we call as life. It is there where for a pigment of time we all relish company and share everything that we have. It is this minute detail in man’s life, that which he calls lifespan, where he compresses everything from his education to adventures, enjoying everything to fulfill a dream and at the same time battling every demon that spells pain and agony. This is a period in man’s life when he may be considered a hero or a heel, a protagonist or villain, a leader or a scoundrel—depending on which side of history he may later be categorized.
The Beatle signature song “In my life” had as its chorus “Life is very short…” rang a familiar expression for humanity. While the human specie through generations of evolution may have concluded numerous mind-boggling discoveries, he remains the same. The human specie is almost perpetual except for the individual member. Nothing has changed in man for hundreds of years; hence the Bible has retained its freshness even if it was written eons ago. There was even a non-fiction book that declared that our generation is the 600th already and except for the fashion in terms of clothing, nothing substantially has been altered ever since.
There is one clear advantage of this generation and those that will follow compared with their ancestral past—-it is man’s ability, his expanded and conscious ability to appreciate the reality of his short life. It may comparatively be a shortened one or prolonged for a few summers but it is almost everything there is in one’s theme.
There is one clear attribute which man has today and which eluded his ancestors before which made life not only significant but meaningful—it is man’s absolute capability to immerse himself in wisdom.
Life has never been the same; short it may be, at least for those aware of this.
She was a blazing star, luminescent and full of life. She was born in one sunny afternoon of September 11, 1955, a Sunday, at St. Jude Hospital in Sampaloc, Manila and as soon as she began to walk, a couple of summers later, she was already reading and writing. As soon as she could define colors and numbers, she was into honing up on her reasoning. She was my younger and my only sister, Doris, already showing her genius at an early age. She was never ordinary despite her effort to remain one. She was always outstanding in every way she would turn herself. She was the center whenever challenge had been determined. She was almost a goddess, not only for us, members of her family, but in every organization where she would get involved with.
I remembered when we were in our teens and I was considering seriously entering a bicycle race. She took our bike and gave all the boys in the neighborhood a scary challenge. All of us were using a racing medium and there she was in a simple tool and at the end of the tour, she was almost in the lead. She complained to me later that her legs felt like it was as big as my torso already! We had a good laugh at that time but her girlish ways evolved into a fine lady of the academe. She never relished any activity where she would witness her brother to lose. But age caught up and we were separated not only in school but also in persuasion.
My sister wanted to study, to read books and show her mettle in the classroom. On the other hand, I would get into street corner bantering, read behavior and show my mettle in violence. She never had any occasion to see the streets. She was more at home in the library, accustomed in front of her class, confident in research and used to serious discussions. She was more familiar in theoretical analysis and quite poor in judging reality. She literally grew up appreciating concepts than ascertaining that which goes around her environment.
She accepted that which was always offered to her, she was a bit vulnerable and gullible at times, because everything to her was presumed as honestly and truthfully presented. She had no doubting bones, neither would she exhibit distrust. Every suggestion, every proposition she would deduce as something reliable and worth her faith. It was our mother who would caution her always; to thread the safe side. And worst, it would always fall on my lap when things would go haywire for her. For us, we would always give my sister that wide latitude of advantage and understanding because she was our front runner. She was in charge of winning for us and in school; she was literally always on top. That was indication that she was our leader and as such would demand a lot of support and assistance from us.
Her capability to focus was exemplary. The trouble however was that she would care little about herself whenever her mind was concentrated on something. She had difficulties in determining immediate reality and would always engage in intellectual examination. Everything for her must have to pass through a formula or else she would just ignore. Scholars had that attribute of snobbery and my sister was never an exception. As a matter of fact, she would diplomatically accept something but would rather do what would please her mind.
She was more prepared to live in the academe, preferring mind games and all the boring subjects stacked from one row to another. That was where her excitement manifested, to review, to assess and mentally apply theories. Going home or staying in her room was never in her itinerary. She hated the prospects of holidays and anything that disrupted school routine. She would consider her family and school as one and would interchange her concern and commitment as if there was no difference at all.
She inherited every gene from father, himself a true-blue academician. She loved her school so much that she had redesigned everything about her according to the standards of her organization.
Nothing can unsettle her except one occasion. This was when her school was proposed to be transferred to another country. She was a division head of Colombo Plan Staff College, a UN sponsored school for technician education. The planned relocation would necessitate her dislocation and those of her staff and worst, would send everyone in her organization scouring for employment. Nonetheless, she accepted the inevitable development and would prepare for the succeeding event. She encouraged her staff to take higher education, to complete graduate studies so that they all could have a second wind in another educational institution. My sister enrolled in a doctorate class and was too serious to get across and complete it in due time. Even at the height of her medication after undergoing a series of radiation exposure due to a debilitating ailment, she would listlessly burn the midnight oil so to speak.
She was about to publish all her notes, that which she used as transcript of her lectureships around the world. She was about to wind up her rendezvous with technician education and commence a new field in criminal justice administration when her time was up.
My sister, an extraordinary lady, capped an outstanding career in technology education, a brilliant student, a loving mother, a true friend and a great sibling. Her departure to another dimension had conferred on us a certain degree of prestige in Heaven and in History.
“Armageddon (from Ancient Greek: Ἁρμαγεδών Harmagedōn, Late Latin: Armagedōn) is, according to the Bible, the site of a battle during the end times, variously interpreted as either a literal or symbolic location. The term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any end of the world scenario.” (Reference: Wikipedia)
2012 in the Mayan (The Mayan civilization, it has been said is older than the Egyptian culture and was distinguished further as one civilization which has achieved a higher level of consciousness, much higher than the succeeding generation. It persihed and was wiped out however under conditions which still remained mysterious and unknown under present time) calendar spelled out the end of the world in no uncertain term. Clearly, Mayan astrologers, those priestly leaders and scientists, were convinced in their astrological equation that a year in the future will witness the convergence of different planetary allignment and climate changes that would wreck havoc on earth which would cause cataclismic violence destroying all forms of life and even the destruction of the planet itself. Eons ago, the Mayan projected with their calculations that the year 2012 will be “it.” (A movie was made inspired by this Mayan belief and it became a blockbuster for a time).
Months before 2012 augured, the world in the estimation of some people were miserably anticipating, nervously awaiting, praying, hoping, predicting for this unfortunate projection to fizzle out. 2012 came and it unfolded quite a sad storyline for some.
On a personal note and in my own timeline, 2012 indeed was an end in itself. For a close friend and ally, Romy Chavez, it was the termination of a long career in holding on as my loyal follower. He perished in a vehicular accident which he could have avoided. Then a few weeks later, I was informed that a school mate Atty. Ed Garcia, one who frequents my place, who would always consult me on some conflicts would succumbed to an ailment. Thereafter, I would hear that a childhood playmate,Sonny Miranda, one who would accompany me for years in street gallivanting, who would excite my dreary days with our regular exchanges of amusing antics, would also be claimed quite treacherously by a debilitating heart disease. All of them very important personalities in my lifetime adventure. They lent color, excitement, drama in all the significant episodes in my career, not to mention their influence on the greater environment where they choose to immerse. They were all good characters that do not deserve yet an exit in the drama of life. They chose the simple path of living along the fringes without excess or abuse.
The year 2012 however was no different from previous years as a matter of fact. Just like the periodic stretch that passed, it was also greeted by accidents and deaths. Calamities and mayhem. War and conflicts. Pain and suffering. Successes and failures. There would be no difference if one would use the standard yardstick of determining the rate of incidents in the trial balance of the universe. It was still a regular intrepid period for being born and passing away. Everything pulsated according to the usual paradigm of nature in the entire the galaxy of existence. Until something happens outside of providence.
It did not take long when the year would finally fold up when out of the blue I would receive a message that my only sister crossed over. It was never an accident. She was sick but all those who knew her believed that she would recover. She was a woman of substance, a lady with distinction, careful about everything she would offer to the world. She cared about humanity, she loved her family, she prayed fervently. More so, she was young and at the prime of her life. She was still expected to contribute more to the fullness of humanity. She had more grand plans and she loved every minute sharing what she had accumulated. She was a woman of her times. She will never fade, at least for a time, and she will not perish in an unlikely manner. She should and ought to be around. But for her (and those who love her), the Mayan prediction proved true.
There is an old worn out cliché that says “Different folks, different strokes.” Appreciating life depends therefore on where the person is coming from. For a student, it is the completion of a school course. To a prisoner, his day of release. For a government worker, a salary increase and promotion. To a worker in a private firm, security of tenure. For a housewife, a stable domestic life. To children, a continuous supply of toys. So on and so forth.
On a bigger plane, life is appreciated in the context of public safety, on the prevailing peace and order, on the imposition of laws, on the proper application of social justice. This of course belongs to the realm of governance—that harmonious blending of government, private and citizen services towards a common goal. This area aptly is based on the leadership quality of the community and could hardly be contained by individual requirements. This is a collective choice.
On a personal note though, that which animates appreciation in life is basically a question of norms, a question of requirements in achieving happiness. Happiness at times is viewed in the prism of contentment, on basic satisfaction of a specific consideration. By and large, a healthy body promotes a happy disposition for living. Although, oftentimes it is ignored and relegated to a blind corner, health is nonetheless the apex of a person in achieving something worthy for himself. It is a pity that health at times is sacrificed to extract token and temporary happiness by immersing in vices like substance and drug abuse, consuming processed and toxic foods, idling time. Every unwholesome activity is savored until the costs are manifested through ailment and life threatening diseases. The happiness derived in these concerns became the prerequisite for a disillusioned and an unhealthy life. Here, the lesson on appreciating life becomes amplified and repentance or realization brought to the fore.
I recalled an instance in the past when I would pepper my father to buy me a bike. Every kid in the neighborhood had one (and at that time, there were no surpluses yet unlike now where every street corner one finds an ukay-ukay stall featuring every known commodity from furniture to toys, from cars to bikes). My father was an ordinary government worker then and could not as yet provide us such advantage. Peeved by my audacity in pleading for a bicycle, my father finally gave word.
“Ok Ven, dress up and I will take you a place where you can appreciate life better with or without a bike.” He said.
“Yeheyyy!” I was excited to hear father finally responding to my youthful demands even if he made certain comments that would douse my enthusiasm in the event he fails in buying me a bike. For me to get his attention was enough, I still hope I could convince him in the process. I had no idea then what working hard and saving money mean.
We boarded a bus and we alighted near the bus stop adjacent to a public hospital. I was a springy 9 year old tot at that time.
“Ven, let’s go. Let us check first a friend who is confined here before we proceed.” My father seriously instructed.
We went through the admission side of the hospital and went through a bend leading to the emergency room. The air had stench of alcohol, people in white uniforms were almost running side to side, and those in green duster had white gauge on their snouts. I had no idea who was a doctor and who was not.
There were several stretchers and steel beds, all brimming with helpless people, some in bandage, some bloodied, some motionless. It was a terrible sight. I had not seen anything like that. Those people milling along the corridors were crying, some looking like desperate, just like the desperation I pictured myself to be while prodding my father earlier on.
My father whispered. “Ven, have you seen that fellow wrapped in blanket, the face very youthful but grimacing pain?”
“Yes father. He must be hurting.”
“Look at those around him. They are probably members of his family.”
“They must be rich. Look at the them, they have jewelries and their dress must be expensive. Look at the bags and those that they possess, it must be costly.”
“They also look wealthy because they are clean.”
“Now, listen Ven. These are people who can afford to buy several bicycles for their kids, especially for the one on the bed wrapped in blanket. What do you think would the one on the bed wish for, a bike or his health?”
I smiled at the question which father posed to me. “Naturally, his health because he cannot enjoy a bicycle ride if he is that sick.”
“Precisely my son. Who is better? You, a healthy boy without a bike or that wealthy boy who can afford to buy several bikes but are very sick to enjoy even the air in the park. Who is wealthier therefore? Us or them? Or, simply put, who is happier, you or the poor kid agonizing on his bed?”
I know what father wanted me to realize then. I am better off than anyone in the hospital. I am better off even if I have no bike. I am better off because I am healthy.
My father would quip every time I would cast a teary eye on something which I would fancy somewhere along the line, “Health is wealth.” I would hear this almost everywhere, expressed in almost senseless way, but for me it has gained a new meaning, a valuable implication, a significant consideration. That health is everything and on top of every other mundane consideration whether it is material or something intellectual.
I took a leaf from the wisdom of that trip in the hospital with my father.
What is there to appreciate in life? It’s health, nothing more.