It’s never too late to be what you might have been! —T. S. Eliot
So, how was your New Year celebration?
We had a quiet New Year’s Eve in our home Bella Vista, in Tagaytay.
My two eldest children had their own families’ celebrations, so it was David and Kristin and AJ and Ayet with me. My apos were with their parents and the other set of lolos and lolas as with my Monchu and Miggy, but this grandma understood.
It was also smoke-free, mystical foggy weather from the gentle rains of New Year’s Eve on the windy ridge city. As usual, we had no “paputoks” of our own, but we were not deprived of a spectacular display of fireworks when the clock struck midnight, thanks to the cities and towns around the Taal Lake whose residents lit up the sky. We had our own free show from our view from the ridge!
The lake fireworks provided us with long minutes of smoke-free bursts of colored light patterns in the dark sky. Thank you Lord, for another year, another chance of becoming better persons and truly being reflections of your love.
While stray bullets and fireworks fatalities were lower this season, there were still children who became statistics because of careless gun shooters and “paputok” accidents. We commend the PNP in keeping the peace this holiday season. Now if only they can purge their ranks of over-zealous policemen barging in on “targets” on the drug addicts list they hold and shooting them dead because “they put up a fight.”
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At the beginning of the year, I want to commend MMDA chair Tim Orbos for his calm but no-nonsense style of leadership of the agency. He has been able to work with local government officials as well as private individuals who make the highways and main roads their informal food stalls and parking for provincial buses.
We saw him in action the other day and was impressed with his firm determination to clear the informal “parking garages” of buses along EDSA and other main roads. He also warned the “ukay- ukays,” “carinderias “ and other stalls cluttering the sidewalks and spilling out onto the main roads that his men would come back and clear them out.
It’s a hard job, being MMDA chair, as former head Francis Tolentino will tell you. It’s a “damn if you do, damn if you don’t” job because it’s not only traffic management that you worry about, its natural calamities, waste management, urban development, pollution, etc. Thankless too, as Tim realizes by now. He is up to the challenges, his older brother Fr. Jerry Orbos assured us. But please pray for him, Jerry urges us, and for his detractors too. Why would they want a good man who is trying his best to fail?
Tim also did a good job shepherding the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) into what can be called a real film festival with substantial movies. The traffic is still there, but many creative solutions are being worked out. Now, if only the drivers and public vehicle drivers will cooperate!
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Deserving of our ‘thank you’ too are the Immigration agents at the NAIA who intercepted a “recruiter” and her four victims—women from the poor province of Bicol who were going to be ‘surrogate mothers’ in Cambodia. The scheme is incredibly cruel and falls under the crime of human trafficking. The recruited women, single and one married, were going to bear the babies of four foreigners and be paid for the ‘job’ of being injected with a sperm and if a baby is conceived, they get paid at the first sign of a heartbeat!
They would be given vitamins and money every month (in US dollars) of their pregnancy and upon delivered the balance of their salary. No safeguards if the scheme falls apart, by the way. As it was, the women claimed that they were not given the R100,000 promised upon acceptance of the ‘deal.’ They were just desperate to help their families that they went along, the married recruit said. She also did not tell her husband about the plan to be a surrogate mom.
The recruiter (a Filipina, by the way) had the temerity to argue there was no violation in the scheme. She also admitted to having a Cambodian woman as her ‘boss.’ Have we sunk to this new low to lead our impoverished kababayans to a hellhole for a few dollars?
I wonder who will help these poor misled recruits now?
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Not having seen the film Oro, I did not want to take sides on the raging issue of animal cruelty. But I want to know…was the dog beaten and butchered for art’s sake? For realism? Because the story called for it? To show man’s inhumanity to dogs? Because the area where the film was supposed to have happened allow butchering of dogs for meat? Whatever reasons the director had, it was a barbaric act and could have been done without actually resorting to the killing of the dog.
Having said this, how I wish we could have raised the same indignation at the extrajudicial killings that littered the nation on the second half of 2016! The victims, whether they are addicts or “collateral damage,” are humans!
And speaking of EJKs, there is hope in drug addicts and kids with behavioral problems in the Self Enhancement for Life Foundation facility in the scenic hills of Talisay in Batangas. As founder and former drug addict Martin Infante says, “No one is beyond redemption and everyone deserves the chance to feel fulfilled from accomplishing a daunting task…there is always hope and rehab does work.”
I was invited to watch the pre- Christmas musicale “A World of Pure Imagination” at the facility and it proved Martin’s core belief. The right rehab program does work! It did with him, coupled with support from his family. And now, his internationally- approved facility is supported by families of the residents wholeheartedly.
The audience that night was treated to an hour and a half of pure magic from the director Fritz Ynfante’s imagination and acting and skills he imparted to the residents. My thought when watching the presentation was an incredulous “these are youngsters who were in drugs before?” Hallelujah! The actors were performing like professional dancers, singers, even acrobats!
Truly everyone deserved a second chance, even a third and a fourth, to come back from the black shadows of the illegal drugs world. (mb.com)