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Elections 2013: The best day to be a Filipino

Estrella

Today, my friend tweeted that May 13 is the best day to be a Filipino. For more than the 52M Filipinos eligible to vote, this day marks the day when your voice matters in every vote casted. For some, it is just another extension of their long weekend–perhaps to go on vacation, to cram for some takehome work or to wait for election results. 

Our family decided that instead of voting in the morning, we will just go to our precint at Palatiw Elementary School in the afternoon. As I was writing my list of candidates to vote for, I can’t  help but notice on the news channel the (extra)ordinary stories of the people who truly maximized their right: (1) a man refusing to vote since the PCOS machine broke down, ergo he doesn’t trust manual count of elections, (2) a guy who was born without hands who voted and asked the COMELEC officer (who is a public school teacher) put the indelible ink in his toe, (3) old men and women in their walkers or wheel chairs who never failed to vote, and (4) public school teachers who spent their own money to replace the marker pens allocated in their precints so more people can vote. It was my second time to participate in the national elections, and apart from wanting my choice of candidates to win, these stories are more than enough reasons for me and my family to go out and vote.

My experience in this year is almost not quite different as it was in the 2010 elections. The lines were long but manageable. Even if there were 6 precints clustered in our area for one PCOS machine, our family finished voting by 4 PM, an hour after we arrived. Despite the sweltering heat and occasional downpour, one thing that I noticed was how the humor of the Filipinos to keep the people amused. It was not easy for the teachers, poll watchers, and volunteers who stayed in a small room full of people without a single electric fan working, but their interaction with us voters were full of fun and witty lines that only Filipinos could understand. Lining up for 30 minutes is not that bad after all. I only wish that in the 2016 elections, the PWDs and the elderly will receive more assistance.

Another change was the fact that more youth are active discussing political issues and stating their stand months even months before the elections. In spite of the selfie pictures via Instagram of their inked index fingers indicating that they already have voted, their tweets and posts are reminders that the voting youth is accountable to their own future, and each wanting to pray for change in the Philippines. Information regarding the candidates’ profiles are available online, and the COMELEC even developed an application for Apple and Android users to help them find their precints. Still, the Filipino humor cannot be eliminated via memes and hashtags in the social media.

While I cannot say in behalf of everyone, my take on this elections is that people should always realize how their vote is crucial not only in the next six years of their lives, but in fact in the more years that follow. If you sell your vote so you can have money to pay for your basic needs, take the money and don’t vote for that candidate. Chances are that candidate will never respect your rights for he or she cannot even respect your right to vote. I do not think that my list is a perfect list, but I selected them based on the integrity of their character and the sincerity of their platforms. My ballots may have included names of several independent candidates, and I chose them not because it is the hipster thing to do, but because my conscient tells me that these names speak for the change I would love to see in the Philippines.

For some who did not register for unexcusable reasons, your taxes may have earned you the right to blame the politicians and how their idiotic acts give your life in the country a living hell, but it  does not earn you the right to call the voting massess as illiterate or uneducated.  Whatever the election results may be, I just hope that violence and cheating will be reduced if not totally eliminated. We must respect the country’s democracy, and let the seemingly unqualified candidates who will be seated to be challenged and prove the nation that the votes they received are all worth it, simply because our country is worth it.

 

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A Mother’s Love

A Mother's Love

There are times when only a mother’s love
Can understand our tears,
Can soothe our disappoints
And calm all of our fears.

There are times when only a mother’s love
Can share the joy we feel
When something we’ve dreamed about
Quite suddenly is real.

There are times when only a mother’s faith
Can help us on life’s way
And inspire in us the confidence
We need from day to day.

For a mother’s heart and a mother’s faith
And a mother’s steadfast love
Were fashioned by the angels
And sent from God above.

— Anonymous

I will always be grateful for my mom, a God’s gift in our family. She is a pillar of strength, and it is no wonder why our father falls in love with her each day. She is the epitome of life’s wisdom, practicality, and beauty. Who we are today is a reflection of how our mothers have raised us. Things and situations may not be perfect in our family, but she makes a way for us to always feel at home. Some may say that every day should be Mothers’ Day, yet we dedicate each second Sunday of May to honor our mothers because they are just that SPECIAL.

In our mother’s eyes, we are the most perfect beings on earth and that their confidence in us makes us believe that we can achieve anything and everything. She is the first person to cheer for us, to comfort us, to believe in us, to live and to die for us. She taught us how meaningful the phrases “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, and “Thank you” , and how these phrases will never EVER leave us.

I always pray that God grant her many more years to live. Someday, I hope I can be just as a good mother as her. With the rest of my siblings, we vow to take good care of our Papa and Mama.

Echo

Echo

A year ago, I said goodbye to a fluffy little friend of mine. He’s a dog, a perfectly adorable black chow-spitz I had as an early Christmas present. It seems like December 20, 2011 was  only yesterday, but looking back it also seems like ages ago. He died six days later in a pet hospital.

I feel all dog-lovers would agree how tragic losing a dog, even if you only owned him briefly. I remember we even got him his own baby cage and dog food before picking him up. Oh yes, there were two of them, but I chose him because he was all jumpy and I just could not resist those round black eyes staring back at me.We named him Echo, because “E” is the fifth letter of the alphabet and he is the fifth dog we had. He’s the cutest in my eyes.

Those first few days were a real experiment. Our family hasn’t got a dog in almost a year since Ziggy, our black Lab, died and we don’t know what kind of puppy food he likes. My sister even bought him two cute clothes that he worked so hard to get off after I bathed him. My parents had fun playing tug of war with him on his bed cloths. Everything was supposed to be fun. Alas, it was only a momentary bliss.

He was barely two months old and there he is fighting for his life. It pained me to see how weak and dehydrated he is.. The vet gave us updates on  his health progress–how well he was eating, and how many days will we have to wait before we can start his shots. I wasn’t able to visit him on Christmas day because the pet hospital is closed to customers.

But on the dawn of December 26, 2011, my brother received a call. Echo didn’t make it through the night. I went there myself and see him all wrapped up in a tiny box and green plastic. After paying for all the bills, mom and I went to the backyard to dig up Echo’s grave under the banana bush.

Here I am 365 days later, still thinking about Echo. I even dreamt about a full-sized Echo months ago, cry about him a few times in the past, and yes I miss my  dear dog. I hope he’s having a blast in doggy heaven with Rocky, Assunta, and Ziggy among other dogs. I know you’re watching over Chuck and Koko. Our entire family misses you. 🙂

 

Something good in every day | June 18 thoughts

I received this quote via my Yahoo! mail subscription for daily inspiration. Truly, it is up to us as to how we will see each day. Instead of dwelling on negatives, I choose to look at what makes me smile.

“Every day may not be good… but there is something good in every day.”

Today, I thought my day will not be as good as I prayed it could be. The day greeted me with heavy rains, and I feel bad I will not be able to walk Chuck this morning. I was also running a bit late for my first class at 9:40 AM, and I really liked that class because the professor was good at what she does. The traffic in our area is really bad, which means I have to take an alternate route by riding an FX (airconditioned SUV) before I ride the trains.

Anyhow, I was glad to make it in class by 10:00 AM after climbing my way up on our classroom in the third floor. Praise God I was not lost in our discussion under Brand Management. At some point, I was getting frustrated for not getting my thoughts correct during the recitation, yet I managed to follow the thread and contributed during class.

My next class is Theology 3, and one of my best subjects so far. It is cool to have a visiting professor to teach us. It is a different perspective having a lawyer-turned-theologian to teach us. He’s actually from Malaysia and was educated in Great Britain, so we are not disappointed with our expectations of having good lessons about the Bible. I really like reciting and participating actively during the discussion. The only problem is, we are tasked to be the last reporter about literary criticism on the Parable of the Wedding Banquet and our presentation is not done well. I meant, it is complete in the essential details but we feel something else is lacking in terms of aesthetics and flow. But thank God again for He gave us additional time to present our report on the next meeting. I know we will do as excellent as we did during our two previous reports.

I have my three hour break after my Theology 3 class. So I ate lunch and used the remaining time for studying for my exam at 4:20 PM. I feel the pressure of the first quiz since I do not know how will our professor will ask us about the general provisions about partnerships. In the past terms that I took my two law subjects, I have a good record so I earnestly wanted to earn my way of achieving even better grades for this one. The scope of the lesson is not hard, but my inner conflicts geared its ugly head and distracted me hours before taking the exam. Praise God I have my copy of Student Prayers (Prayer before Studying, Prayer before taking Exam) and I was able to message my friends to pray for me. I am grateful that the prayers helped me comprehend the lessons while keeping my emotions in check. Praise God even more than the exam was not that difficult as I was able to confidently answer the five question essays in less than half an hour.

Needless to say, finishing the exam ahead of my usual class dismissal at 5:50 PM is a blessing in disguise. I was able to pass by the office of my organization and help out our activity for the upcoming job expo. Then, I was able to make it just in time to meet my friends for our gym session. I was only supposed to go there every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but praise God for giving me enough time after school for myself and my friends on this day.

I am still new in working out in the gym with my friends. Praise God I still have enough strength for a more than an hour of bonding with friends over various gym equipment and exercises. Engaging in a regular exercise keeps me more energized in school and my mind and body conditioned. It is a different sense of accomplishment to improve my speed, stamina, and endurance. Thank you, Lord for the blessing of friends who will never put you down.

I arrived home at around past 9 PM. Praise God again for great food! Mama really makes great veggie salad and my sister’s cooking of grilled pork and beef stew significantly improved. I can feel I will bring food in school tomorrow. Even if there are soft drinks, I prefer to drink water instead. Praise God for a healthy meal and great bonding time over dinner.

After the quick dinner, the weather feels good for my own quiet time. Praise God for my mom and dad for fixing Chuck’s cage with the tray. It looks awesome. Thank God for parents who treats our pets like their own children.

I got Chuck out of his cage for our one-hour walk that was cancelled this morning. Praise God that I my tired legs do not feel tired at all at that moment. I love bonding with Chuck because he is a great dog, even if some people find him scary. Praise God that my gym sessions strengthened me against his strong pulls when he feels like being playful. It was also great because we are starting to jog some streets around the village already. Chuck only gets distracted with the cars’ lights so hopefully, the next time he will not chase them as much. At home, I get to spend time with our other dog, Koko for loads of fun and play. He is dancing while my sister sings and teases him with dog treats.

I arrived home realizing that today, I wanted to write about how God has transformed this day from something good to even something better. Yes, just counting the blessings make me realize that there are always something good in every day. Today, I feel good about my school, my friends, and my family. Praise God for today, and every day of my life. I feel more alive and happier. Praise God! 🙂

Farewell is not Goodbye

Today, our family once more received sad news that another relative has left us. While we are still mourning for losing grandfather, he was recently joined by our Uncle Voltaire in God’s arms. All of us could not believe of such sudden and tragic death.

He was living his life at thirty-eight. He had a wife and four kids to support. He still has big dreams for his family. During our last visit in the province, he had nothing but smiles on his face.

I cannot even imagine how painful this could be to his wife and kids who wished to see their father to come home alive. It will only later when they realize he had another homecoming but with God this time. It will be harder for them to live the days until they will see him again.

I questioned Him, why us again? Why not spare us this time? I probably would not receive the answers now. Maybe not ever. I cannot be certain about that. I might even be wrong to think about such questions. But then, I could not hate God. Yes this is too much for our family to handle, but life must go on.

I realize that life and death is truly inevitable. It will always be up to us how we would welcome each day as a great blessing. Living each day according to His plan is even greater.

To my grandfather and uncle in heaven, we know that you are both at peace. You may have ended your earthly life, but we pray to God that we will see you again in eternal life. Thank you for all the wonderful memories.

Thank you God for giving my grandfather and uncle to us. Yes we may have wanted for them to stay longer with us, but you are teaching us to trust in You. Their borrowed lives and how the lived and loved it is their gift to you. We will always be praying for their souls.

Thank you God for all the overwhelming support of family and friends. You never fail to remind us how Your love will always sustain us. Amen.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

A Letter To My Grandfather

A family visit in Lolo’s house, located along the Philippine National Railway in Lupi, Camarines Sur.

Dear Lolo,

Words are not enough for me to comprehend the reality that you have truly left us. It was only 10 days ago, in your humble and cozy home, that I last visited you. Finally, since September 2011, I get to visit you in your home, the same way you did for our family. I will always remember you, I will always loved you. Even when you could barely stand and talk, your presence filled us with so much love. Tonight, God has called you to be with Him for eternity.

I asked God, why take you away from us now? But I know there is nothing I can do but trust that God’s timing is perfect. It may not make sense, but I know it will eventually be okay. His wisdom is beyond mine now, I have nothing else to do but acknowledge that He is in total control of my life.

For all the years that we could have spent more time together, I regret all of these. But I know, regardless of the passage of time, I will always be your “Brainy” granddaughter. In every moment we are together, you are always proud of my achievements no matter how small or big all of these came to be. I am crushed you will not be part of my university graduation in 2013 as you have promised, but I know you will always be part of me. You will smile from the heavens when I receive my diploma on the stage. My victory will be for you.

For the entire Estrella family that grieves for losing you, we all feel in our hearts that we have gained a guardian angel in God’s kingdom. The heavy rains have mourned with us today and showered you with grand welcome. The pain of your death is unimaginable, but we know that you no longer have to suffer the sickness and pain you endured all throughout the years. You are not in a better place, but only the best place that God has promised.

The coming days will not be easy, but the thought of God embracing you will strengthen us and keep us. You will pray for Lola, for your children, and your grandchildren. You will be our watcher and we will look forward in seeing you again in God’s perfect time.

I will miss you. Until that day, I will always pray for you. I love you so much.

Your Apo,

Nadine