Blog Archives

ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN MINDANAO

climate change

The increase in the volume of rain fall in Mindanao, as felt in most towns of Eastern Mindanao indicates the following climatic situations:

  1.  There are less vegetation to absorb and retain water hence as a natural course, water evaporates.
  2. Roots of hardwood trees which have a capacity to hold on water almost 200 liters per tree, when felled would let go of its retention capability and exposes the water to the elements.  As a natural course, it joins other exposed water for evaporation.
  3. The number of lumber derived from logging (both illegal and legal), cutting down hardwood trees wantonly or otherwise, contribute to deforestation and therefore exposes the soil to the elements and further squeezes whatever water it retains.  When hundred trees are felled, hundreds of thousand liters of waters are released, well, again for evaporation.
  4. Once water is accumulated to form as cloud becomes heavy, it pours and returns back the hundred of thousand liters of water down on the ground.  If the soil is loose, landslide becomes the order of the day.  On low lying areas, instant flood is noted.

flooded areas

  1. Considering the fact that lands are slowly transformed into subdivision and related housing communities, usually done without plan, would disturb the natural flow of water.  When a housing village is filled up, it closes the natural formation of land where water flows, resulting in blockage.  Flashfloods immediately appears.

baha 2

  1. Weather watchers are even baffled.  At a time when they have declared that the El Nino phenom is about to commence, the reverse happen.  Drought is expected but La Nina came as a matter of course.
  2. Even wind velocity would change its course as a consequence of cloud formation.  It reroutes air flow and when it is blocked by a phalanx of clouds filled with evaporated water, it literally constricts the air flow and a low pressure area noted.  When it transgresses the formation, the compounded air becomes a storm.
  3. In other words, climate change is not a natural occurrence.  It is a consequence when nature is reformed by man, who is also a part of nature.  Although he is a part of nature, he always reinvents it for his purpose.
  4. Hence, climate change as indicated in an equatorial island like Mindanao.
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CYNTHIA: A RESOLUTE CHARACTER

cynthia

Cynthia Andrada (her real name) is not one to be stereotyped as typical.   She breezed through every trial with serene acceptance and matured equanimity, what could have broken any one even if one is made of steel.  But not in her case.   She was calm and composed when faced with difficulties.

Let us look at her situation.

When she spent a vacation with her children in her hometown in North Luzon sometime ago, an accident happened.  Her toddler son was side swept by a careening truck sending the frail body of the child meters away.  Her eldest died instantly.  The most painful part for a parent is to bury her own child.

She was still in mourning and as yet to pick the pieces when she was informed that her husband was pinned by a protruding railing in the expressway.  Construction workers in nearby area had to use electric welding to cut off the steel that pierced, as in being speared—from the body of the man, as his torso was literally gorged through and through.  A few hours later, the hubby was brought to the hospital for extreme unction.  Cynthia took a leave in her office, went through normally and visited her better half in the hospital.  She was convinced that her loved one would not make it.  But the husband would recover after months of medication.

 She has as yet to adjust to her role as grieving mother and agonizing wife, when she would be facing one administrative query after another in her organization.  She must still work, a career woman she must still perform to assuage domestic equilibrium.  But she would be relieved from her post and would be transferred to another office, far from her residence.  She would find difficulty nursing her husband but she could only make some adjustment even if she would cut down on her time to rest.

At this time, she even went for the jugular.  As if her time is too limited for comfort, she took her masteral course, completed it smoothly and went through the doctoral degree course.  If she was being punished emotionally with succeeding painful events on her personal life, she would even haul over the coals, so to speak by pushing her mental faculties to the extreme.  A doctoral course is not for the faint-hearted.  It is never a prescription for contemplation.  It is pressure in capital letters.  She breezed through it.

Going through the pains of losing a son and formulating to heal her husband may be simple for those with unadorned minds but Cynthia displayed the intellect of an extra ordinary mortal.  She has the sensitivity of an academician and yet she has the capacity to be neutral and cold when faced with dilemma.

One day she would be recognized, another day she would be sidelined.  Intrigues in her organization may have sent many officers twiddling with their fate, cornered and depressed but not Cynthia.  She has retained her composure.  Call it grace under pressure.

There is nothing in her bones that could spell doom notwithstanding the fact that every instance in her system has been wrecked by it.

The woman is a definition of what resolute means.  She has never dropped her faith.  And probably, she is the only one who can lay claim of having to endure and withstand what many humans would fail to comprehend.

USE COMPASS TO SUCCEED

compassMy dear children,

Not everyone shares the idea that there is something in the compass which could aid a person to get an advantage.  The Chinese are the first to explore this aspect and it covers much about what we refer to in their feng shui practices.  The same can be said in Europe particularly in ancient Greece where geomancy literally grew almost like a science.  But for purposes of simplicity, let me just refer a practical exercise of situating where we are and be on top of everything we do.

 

A basic knowledge of the compass is therefore required.  Of course, we know what and where North, South, East and West is bounded.  The trick is to check where the sun rises (at the equinox), it is East.  If you are facing East, naturally, West is behind you.  Now, move towards an angle where the East is on your right arm side.  You will be facing North and at your back is South.

 

East is where the sun rises and it means that life and happiness emanates from said angle.  In Biblical terms, the east signifies truth, wisdom and love.  The West tells us conclusion and fullness.  In North and South, there is absence of the sun and therefore both indicate coldness and seclusion.

 

Your very position therefore dictates where you can possibly appropriate energy.  Or incidentally may lose it.  Hence, if you want to sleep you must check where you are posited.  Even in meetings where you are required to be seated accordingly, you have to check the compass for the right angle.  If you intend to negotiate or convince anyone, try to move your position in such a way that the other party is facing north or south.  Better, that you should be facing the east.

 

Seasoned gamblers know where they should be, in a rather proper site, that is, positioning themselves in such a way as to gain advantage or invite what we refer to as luck.  Those who gain more are most likely facing the East.

 

This may also be observed in building a house, an office, a building or arranging a room or desk.  It could also be applied in trying to heal from an ailment or encouraging someone to recuperate.

 

There are also major religions which requires those who would engage in prayers to be situated due east.  This is because in the estimation of both science and religion, the sun is the center of life.  It gives life, sustains everything that pulsates and reinvigorates almost anything.  Given all the chemicals that make up life, the sun weaves its almost magical consideration to fulfill what could have been a mystical contrivance to build up and advance energy and animation.

 

Be wise therefore and be in the right angle, in the proper position.  Always remember that any incident tells us  that we are either in the right place and at the right time or not.

Know where you are at all times.

Your loving father, VJT

IMPACT OF INCARCERATION ON PRISON GUARDS

prison guard and inmate

Have you heard of an experiment conducted in Stanford University best known as “Obedience Experiment” in 1971 where a psychologist (Philip Zimbardo) wanted to investigate the impact of prison work on human behavior?  Well, there was such a research made.

 

In said experiment, researchers organized a mock detention facility at the basement of Stanford University’s psychology department and organized a group composed of 24 students to play the roles as prisoners and guards.  The group was selected from a bigger list because of their clean record—no mischief background, psychologically and physically fit.

 

The experiment would be conducted in a two week period and each participant will receive $15 a day.

 

The mock prison simulated the exact environment of a detention facility—the size, the climate, the condition.  The participants were then randomly assigned into two—the prisoner group and guard group.  Those assigned as prisoners were to remain “imprisoned” for 24 hours a day while those who were designated as guards were given work assignments in three eight-hour shifts.  The guards were allowed to leave the area until their next shift.  CCTV and microphones were installed to record and observe the behavior of prisoners and guards.

 

The Stanford experiment was expected to be completed in two weeks but it was terminated in just six days.  Something went wrong which if pursued might damaged the behavior of participants irreversibly.  Those playing the roles of guards became rude and abusive; and those who assumed as prisoners showed signs of extreme stress and anxiety.

 

The experiment further revealed that “while the prisoners and guards were allowed to interact in any way they wanted, the interactions were generally hostile or even dehumanizing.  The guards began to behave in ways there were aggressive and abusive toward the prisoners, while the prisoners became passive and depressed.  Five of the prisoners began to experience such severe negative emotions, including crying and acute anxiety, that they had to be released from the study early….even the researchers themselves began to lose sight of the reality of the situation.  The research team leader—psychologist Zimbardo—who acted as the prison administrator, overlooked the abusive behavior of the prison guards and the emotional deterioration of inmates, until a graduate student (Christina Maslash) voiced objections to the conditions in the simulated prison and the morality of continuing the experiment.”

 

The study categorically demonstrated what has been a regular feature of any prison environment, that incarceration is a powerful factor in a situation that can alter human behavior.  It has been noted that “Because the guards were placed in a position of power, they began to behave in ways they would not normally act in their everyday lives or in other situations.  The prisoners, (on the other hand) placed in a situation where they had no real control, became passive and depressed.”

 

While the experiment failed to reached its final conclusion, and was even criticized for neglecting to mimic all of the environmental and situational variables of a real prison life,   it gave an initial understanding on how the situation can influence human behavior.

 

My point in sharing this piece of educational exercise is for prison workers to know what is behind our work environment, the unspeakable and  at times invisible forces that influence  manners and deeds, so that  objectivity will not be lost,  neutral disposition will remain as it is and our minds will be enriched with the thought that prison—our work place—is not a training ground for cruelty but a space to express commitment and understanding on the frailty of the incarcerated humanity.

 

As we gain confidence in strengthening the resolve to be firm and just in prison administration, in turn we are fortified with wisdom and maturity.  No other branch of government service can offer that much advantage.

WHAT IS THERE IN THE PRISON SERVICE FOR THE WORKER

prison work

First off, employment.  Nowadays, it does not pay to be unemployed, or even to be underemployed.  If you are married, you have to grab the proverbial steel blade (kapit sa patalim) just to be employed —-in whatever manner, in whatever way.  But working in government is a simple proposition if you have the credentials like the Civil Service eligibility.  (As a matter of fact, under the Senate Bill 3335 otherwise known as Corrections Act of 2012, once it is signed into law, the qualification, the eligibility part would play a major employment norm.  No eligibility, no admission into the government service.  Those who were fortunate to have been employed notwithstanding deficiency in credential like no CSC eligibility will be required to possess it within 5 years or face the prospects of attrition.  That is, one is either separated in the service or allowed to retire. )   It works wonder if you have it.  Passing it is not a breeze but for those who regularly read the dailies, it is almost a song.  Readers have certain advantages over those who are not.  That is one skill which the school ought to impose on its studentry but commercialism dictates that it is not the priority.  Hence, most of the graduates have no interest, much more so, any penchant at all to read.  As a consequence, they almost always fail in admission examinations like CSC (first or second grade) eligibility exams.

But this is not yet the real score on why work in prison when there are other services which are less hazardous, less unwholesome, less intriguing, less frustrating.  Of course, the argument is better settled when one would exclaim that there are no more vacancies in other institutions.  There is also the traditional outlook that there are friends, close ones, possibly relatives who can facilitate one’s employment application in the prison agency.  Despite the belief on the contrary, it pays to have some connections to gain employment; so most of those who were able to get items in the prison service have internal linkages one way or another.

Of course, a college degree, the preparatory learning has a lot to do with the choice.  There are a lot of students who completed the course on Criminology and failing to get the necessary adrenalin to fight for a slot in law enforcement (read police), they end up trying their luck to seek employment in the prison service.  Those who complete the collegiate course on Crim and eventually pass the board exam for Criminologist or either way, pass the CSC eligibility exams, are favored to jumpstart their career in corrections.  The first choice is the police service because it is more adventuresome, more powerful, more visible and the respect for wearing the uniform and bearing firearms, impact on the neighborhood.  The second choice is somewhere in other branches of criminology—fire, jail, traffic, customs, airport security, etc.  The third is prison service.  The alternative choice may be referred to in this regard is from those without direct connection in the prison organization.  If employment is open, then applicants are screened and if qualified, become members of the correctional agency.

Once initiated within the intricate woodwork of the prison community, one realizes that he also has entered a domain strictly exclusive.  He finds that most of the surnames of those he would meet in the course of his regular duties came from a direct relation from senior officers in the organization.

Once upon a time, during War years, most of those students stranded (during wartime schools are closed) found employment in prison, especially those from towns nearby.  They were the ambitious, studious and determined type; and they were easily absorbed in the prison service.  Years later, they would produce children of equal motivation.   The children would become doctors, lawyers, engineers, priests, professionals.  The black sheep, so called in the families, those who never made good in school and those who merely coasted along, were compelled and pushed to take over the items left by their parents due to retirement.  Hence, for a while, the prison service was handled and supervised by a weak crop of officers, and quite unfortunately, this was at a time when corrections was on its developmental stage in the late 70s.

Succeeding generation of officers has since taken over the former fledging batch.   They were the audacious, confident and prudent type.  While they carried the idealism of youth in government, the shallow exposure to poor quality of education had a toll on their performance.  They could not express themselves fully rendering report preparation and communication on the level of commonplace.  They would easily be impressed by talented prisoners.  There was even a time when prisoners were even tapped to prepare their academic requirements like thesis writing and term papers.

That generation of officers was subsequently replaced by the enterprising kind.  This was in the years of 2000.  There were transfers from other agencies.  There were also casualties, like those separated from the service.  And their replacements came from outside applicants.   They were the board passers.  They were the lateral entrants.  New blood so to speak.  They easily took over the reins and began a series of professional make over for the prison system.  From their ranks would easily develop a competent row of future administrators.

Suddenly, the effect of political appointments began to be felt.  Competence of the organization has to be sacrificed if only to accommodate the learning curve of the Presidential appointee.  And it marked on the subconscious of the worker.  They need not perform well at a time when such initiative may be seen as suspect.  Those who expressed consistency in work would be barred and frozen.  Canine devotion was to be preferred to talents and aptitude.  Some would chose to leave the institution and transfer to another agency with a heavy heart.

There is therefore a need for a law that would highlight corrections as a profession.  That day would come.  A few days before 2012 ended, the 15th Congress passed on third reading the Bureau of Corrections Act.  This eventually would situate corrective service in the country towards the 21st century.

Those present and currently in the prison service have high hopes to pin their aspirations and proficiency on.  Once signed by the President and passed as a Law, the prison service will not only serve as a beacon for the remaining batch of prison officers but would also serve as a bright star, a flare of inspiration if you may, in the criminal justice system of the country.  After all, once corrections was the only antiquated part of the system for years on end.

For the worker in the prison service, there is more reason to welcome the coming year.

“END OF THE WORLD”

end of the world

  1.  While it is true that the prediction of some Doomsday scenario followers did not come true, there is a lesson somewhere which is very basic.
  2. The cult-like prediction merely reminded everyman, the humanity as a whole, that indeed there is an end to everything.  It may come either on a predicted date or through a Mayan inspired superstition, whatever, but the proposition remains the same.  Life ends for everyone, no exemption.
  3. Life ends, time stops, the world is at a standstill.  History is concluded, current events terminated.  That is exactly what it foretells after death, after demise, after fall.  Mortality is written everywhere whether it is etched in stone (like in the ancient Mesoarmerican long-count calendar of the Mayan-Mexican tribe) or that which has been prophesied in the Bible (Daniel: 8:14 “ “Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,”).
  4. For the youth, it signals a beginning, a rebirth, a continuation of life.  For those in their twilight years, it is the coming of a finale, a closure, a definition of a hallmark, of going back to where all souls are,  a grand conference with the Creator.
  5. It has been said that the end of the world has been determined as early as 5,000 years ago by a tribe in Mexico, a community which has achieved quite an advanced procedure in estimating, using astrology, the fulfillment of an event.  Such event foretells cataclysm of a grand proportion.
  6. If at all this signifies an important phase in the life of man, it could also mean that after 5,000 years man would have been very different from how he was before.  And indeed, he was already a changed being.  He has a capacity to cure himself through sciences.  He has a capacity to communicate in seconds in every part of the earth.  He can even travel to other planets.
  7. Short of man translating into reality what could have been considered as mysterious before and probably is charting the means to transform what at present can only be understood as miracle, mankind is still processing and concluding certain stages he refers to as “end of the world.” scenarios.  It could very spell as an end, and end of the world full of ignorance on the sciences, an end of the world full of hatred, an end of the world full of sorrows, an end of the world replete with animosities.  And a new world where mortality is addressed, war declared as obsolete and love reigns.
  8. That is what “end of the world” possibly means.

CHRISTMAS IN PRISON

xmas in prison

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.

 

 

LUCKY PUNCH

lucky punch

It is that element that separate success and failure, victory and defeat, joy and agony.

Topping the Bar exams, being nominated as standard bearer, achieving blockbuster status, winning instantly is everything that characterize and define what a lucky punch is.  One need not even factor preparation and hard work.  All it takes was to be in the right place and at the right time.  It is an expression full of reality.  Ask those who are on top and chances are, they landed where they are because of, well, luck.  Some ascribe it as fate, a favorable one, hitched on a star as the saying goes.

The debacle of Manny Pacquiao in the fistic blow from his challenger Marquez had all the earmarks of a lucky punch carried in a blistering way.  It made the expression a literary one.  Not that Pacquiao deserved it, or that Marquez was not capable of it, but it was there for all of us to see.  A last second effort, the right hand of Marquez waiting for that instance and for Pacquaio bobbing into the flight course of that mighty shot.  It was also the same blow, well, a lucky punch that Pacquiao delivered to his erstwhile opponent, Hatton, sometime ago.  This time around it fell on him.

***

A month ago, NBP was rocked with an explosive issue—granade explosion inside the maximum security camp—and it sent prison administration into a tailspin.  Media stoked the flames through incessant reportage until finally; the Department of Justice unleashed a series of orders sending a score of prison officials to the arctic region to be frozen.  Tough luck.  There was no interesting issue at that time hogging the front pages hence, the usual filler to excite the people—prison trouble.

While prison administration was still licking its institutional wound, another incident of graver proportion exploded.  A convicted bank robber escaped from its custody.  The notoriety of the offender preceded his record as the law enforcement agency immediately announced and sent alarms to the public.  The leader of a dreaded gang accordingly may be preying on malls and banks once again.  The dangerous person is once again on the loose.

Almost instantly, the Secretary of Justice announced the relief of several prison guards in charge of manning the security of the gates where the incident transpired.

On that day, a day after the Pacquiao dramatic defeat, the prison service suffered also a lucky punch from an escape incident sending the institution splayed on the canvas of public opinion once again and this time,  down on its face.

***

The recent storm that lashed out in Mindanao literally blew down several hectarage of banana plantation.  In Davao del Norte alone where most of the farms are dedicated to banana farms, there is an estimated 10,000 hectares affected.

It was a sudden climate change which old timers never expected.  It was another case of a lucky punch for a number of banana growers.

TIDBITS.  The predominant variety of banana produced in Davao del Norte is called Cavendish.  It is comparatively bigger and longer than its local counterpart.  It is less sweet too.  But the Japanese market requires its constant exportation because of all varieties of banana, the Cavendish has a greater density of potassium, that mineral which makes muscles healthy and firm.

LOOKING FOR ISSUES

I write daily and it has been automatic for me as soon as I get up from bed.  First, I make a summary of what I will do for the day, comparing notes which I have done the previous day.  Then, I open my computer and internet to check on the latest news and opinion, the editorial most especially and some updates on sports.  Having been refreshed with the current situation, I would check my Facebook account for some mundane concerns.  Facebook offers tremendous, almost real time, update on what is going on not only around but on matters directly affecting friends and close relatives.  Having navigated a stream of concern in 30 minutes, I am prepared to write my piece.  This is sent and submitted to my blog site, my very own—http://www.philippineprisons.com.

My blog site is a personal window for my varied expressions.  And for quite some time it attracted a following, meager though it may be, but for me it is already an audience.  Sharing my essays through social network expanded further my audience and it goes without saying, stretched the sphere of my literary influence.  The comments I am constantly receiving were very generous and flattering.  And if I ever I would encounter a negative reply, it was mostly if not a direct response to the one who made a favorable comment on my piece.

***

Climate Change Indicator

Climate Change Indicator

The recent (December 4, 2012) storm code named “Pablo” was a revelation for the island of Mindanao, especially for the entire denizens of Davao province.  Old folks swore that for the last 40 years, they have never experienced having a storm of this magnitude.  Davaoenos are familiar with rain drops as big as a bucket—-volume of rain in Davao for five minutes is equivalent to a half day downpour in Manila—but a storm packing with furious winds at 172 kph is a nightmare; especially so in an area mainly devoted to banana plantation.  The succulent banana tree could not withstand such wind velocity above 50 kph, how much more if it is somewhere above 100 kph.  The entire plantation would be blown down.  Instead of banana fruits, the province would be haven for mushroom production in a few weeks!

***

I spent the last few days testing the waters of reading without writing.  As a matter of fact, I wallowed in the printed world for more than a week.  And why not.  The books that are available are too tempting to read, it is almost a crime to ignore and not to read those materials at all.  The book “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir” is an engaging literary gem.  I found this book, 3 inches thick reference, a wonderful autobiography.  I almost forgot to sleep for two days just by reading through every statement written by an accomplished personality.  It revealed a period in Philippine history of which I am an active part.  The book really is a treat.  I have just completed reading the biography of Steve Jobs of the Apple computer fame written by a professional biographer Walter Isaacson, one who also wrote the biography of Albert Einstein.  The Steve Jobs biography is also an arresting material.  These two books combined, almost palm size in thick, are noteworthy pieces of great eminence.  It contains almost all brilliant nuggets of wisdom.  Aside from describing prominent personalities and revealing their characteristic individuality, the book shared also a lot of secrets hitherto unknown.  While I have only read two books for the week, it was a very rewarding experience.  It is as if I have lived the lives of two important personalities that have inhabited the planet in a very remarkable way.

REFLECTIONS ON LIFE

 

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.

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