Thursday, July 10, 2014

Loss and Grief: A Friend's Deep Sorrow on Losing His Son

A friend, Prof. Rene Azurin, faculty member of the UP College of Business Administration, lost his son, Mikah due to sickness, last April. He has written several articles about Mikah. This is his latest article, posted in BusinessWorld today.

Being a father myself, I can relate to Rene's deep sorrow. Reposting it here, part of the travels and journeys of being a parent. Condolence once more, Rene....

HOW DOES one deal with losing a son? The terrible truth is, there is no way of “dealing” with such a soul-shrivelling tragedy. The grief is so overpowering that the best one can hope for is to snatch occasional glimpses of the world beyond the enveloping gloom so that one can at least function. Some days you can do this; most days you can’t.

The writer Joan Didion once wrote, “Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be.” That’s not actually true. Every parent has doubtless imagined -- in fearful, unguarded moments -- the horror of losing a beloved child. Every parent has an idea of what it might be like. It’s just that no parent can possibly be prepared for the emotional nuclear bomb that goes off should the unthinkable ever come to pass. No parent can be prepared for the silent scream that reverberates unendingly in your mind.

One of the things this does to us is blast away the belief all we parents share that, amid all of life’s uncertainties, we can be certain of at least one thing: that we will die before our children and that they will live full lives after we’ve gone. In our minds, we will thus have seeded the future with better versions of ourselves. We might hope that our children will perpetuate a few memories of us and at least some of the values we might have lived by. Perhaps, even, on certain cold December evenings, they might entertain their own children with stories of how their grandparents were silly or crazy or (maybe once in a while) curiously wise. Somehow, that gives us a sense of immortality.

I really do not know how to deal with losing my son Mikah. A card from a sympathetic friend contains the line, “If my passing has left a void / Fill it now with remembered joy.” Indeed, Mikah’s passing has left a dark, gaping void. So, though I cannot remember without intense pain, I do fill my days with rememberings because it is all I am able to do. Deep in my subconscious, I suspect, is the desperate hope that, if only the pain is great enough, he might come back.

I remember of course some “highlights” with great pride -- like, for example, Mikah taking his school all the way through to the televised finals of the National Science Contest (for sixth-graders) or his being awarded an Oblation Scholarship by the University of the Philippines for obtaining the highest scores in the UPCAT (UP College Admission Test) or his graduating at Diliman with a degree in Applied Physics or his playing at events like the Fete de la Musique with his bands and at gigs where they’d launch their own CD albums.

Mostly, however, I remember clutching him to my chest when he was little and feeling his heart beat as he fell asleep, picking him up from school and holding his small hand in mine as we walked along school pathways to the car, having conversations with him (about anything) at the dinner table. I remember riding with Mikah in his car and listening to him point out the nuances of the music that was playing on the radio (“Count five beats, not four, Dad”), hearing him pound his drums and practice with his metal band at home as he started out on his fascinating musical journey, observing him frown at his computer as he worked out the logic on a complex piece of programming code. And, mostly, I remember the feeling of hugging him while saying, “See you later, Mikah,” every time he would walk out of our door.

Mikah gave us -- his mother Carmela, his sister Sarah, and me -- tremendous joy. We felt privileged to know from up close his rare combination of genius mind and compassionate heart. He seemed born with knowledge beyond his years. He was talking at eight months. As he grew, he read everything he could lay his hands on, processing stuff from science books to history tracts to fantasy novels into perceptive insights that filled his fabulous brain. Along the way, he acted as counsellor to his friends, financially helped less fortunate cousins, pampered his many dogs, and took in neglected rabbits.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Our Dog Gives her Milk to Kittens

We see photos of dogs and cats playing or sleeping together, not fighting as often stereotyped. See here, Dogs, Cats and Harmony. Well, one of our dogs in the farm caretaker's house whose puppies we separated from her to be the new guard dogs in the farm, would allow kittens to get milk from her.

Her name is "Jenny white" or Elle Marie would call her as "Requel" when the dog was still young. Jenny white has another sibling, color black, we called her "Jenny black", who was guarding the farm. Jenny black died of a particular disease several months ago.

Danny, our part time caretaker, got two kittens, newly separated from their mother and are still sucking milk. Jenny white would give them her milk.

The two puppies stayed in our house in Makati for about two months. Their mother, Jenny, was a hunter dog in the farm.  When she was alive, she would hunt and catch different birds, monitor lizards ("bayawak"), wild turtles in the creek, small snakes.

The two puppies were getting noisy in our house, I brought them to the farm. Danny got the white, Nong Endring got the black.

When the puppies were just about 5-6 weeks old, I brought them from the farm to our house in Makati. Elle  Marie was very happy with her new puppies. Photos taken May 02, 2013. 

Until now, Elle would ask me to give her new puppies. I am hesitant because we did not have any house helper for the past nine months. There's a new helper but may not stay long too.

I explain to Elle that the puppies might get dirty and the house will also get dirty, if there is no one to clean them regularly.

Anyway, Jenny white is a kind and gentle pet to share her milk even to cats. 

Tour de France 2014

Tour de France (TDF) is the most famous cycling race in the planet. It also has the most number of live audience, could be 15 million or more, people lining up on the roads to watch the riders and their team vehicles, organizers' and media vehicles.

TDF 2014 first three stages were held in UK. Part of Stage 1 last Saturday. This is from BBC's Tour de France 2014: The "grandest" of Grand Departs.

I was active in cycling from 1992 to around 1998. In the mid 90s, I was riding about 100 kms. a week for two years or more. Just a recreational rider, not a competitive cyclist.

Britain's royalty watched the opening stage on the road.

I was a member of the Neopolitan Cycling Club in Fairview, Quezon City. Many of my cyclist friends are still there.

The BBC report said about 2.5 million people watched Stage 1 alone. Even in rural parts of Britain, there were many people.

During the heydays of Marlboro Tour in the 90s, me and some friends would travel to Baguio City to watch the punishing stage in that big mountain city, elevation about 4,500 ft above sea level.

Part of the crowd in Stage 2, York to Sheffield. These photos from the TDF facebook page.

We would also bike from Fairview to Tagaytay and back (about 160 kms.) in the 90s. And join the "Century Ride" from UP Diliman to UP Los Banos via Rizal towns and eastern side of Laguna.

Still part of the crowd of Stage 2 in Britain.

The beauty of being a stage winner. Vincenzo Nibali. Look at the crowd at the finish line.

Part of the crowd yesterday, Stage 3, Cambridge to London.

The Brits are hooked on the tour.

TDF and road cycling is the only sport in the planet where atheletes pass by remote rural areas...

To big cities, on the same race, or same day. Big Ben in London.

I wish to see TDF live someday, in my lifetime.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The School of Academics and Arts

Our elder daughter, Elle Marie, changed school this year. From St. Scholastica in Manila for two years, me and my wife transferred her to The School for Academics and Arts in Makati. Near to our place, Elle hardly comes late. About 5 minutes by car from the house, or just one jeepney ride.

The school offers nursery, kinder 1 and 2, and Grade school 1-3 classe. It's only their 2nd year this year, and 1st year in their new location at Davila St., Barangay Tejeros, Makati. Elle is in Grade 3.

Last Saturday, the first Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) meeting was held. Good attendance; parents of nursery to grade school students came. All the teachers were there too.

TSAA School Directress Cherry Fernandez explained the various school policies, like class schedules for nursery, kinder and grade school, why incorporate arts with academics in various subjects, why no traditional exams and grading based on exam results, and so on.

Cherry was a friend way back in UP Diliman in the mid-80s. She's two or three years younger than me in UP, was a Political Science major but involved in the UP Repertory and was active in theater and the arts. So it is no wonder why she came to this school.

I have not seen her actually since she left UP in 1987 and went back to her beloved city in Davao. I saw her only last May -- after 27 years! -- when we decided that Elle will transfer to TSAA.

Parents were all ears listening to this cheerful, articulate and passionate lady.

Since it was the first PTA meeting, an election of officers was held. Famous actress and tv personality Giselle was unanimously voted as President.

School owner Audie noted that last year, all the PTA officers were women and suggested that men should be involved as well as being a PTA officer is a good experience. A cue for me to nominate the man seated in front of me, Dean, for Vice President. Then I signed a mother behind me to close the nomination, she did. 

Dean "revenged" and while I briefly walked away, he nominated me as Secretary. I took it as a "balance of terror/harassment" so I was shy to object, and as usual, no one else was nominated.

And more men were nominated and voted unanimously. Five of nine officers including representatives from nursery to kinder and grade school were men. In this photo, Dean to my left.

There was a discussion whether students should wear uniform or not. In theory, diversity and creativity are opposed to uniformity. Thus, having a uniform somehow contradicts the progressive, critical thinking discipline that the school intends to inculcate. That's one side of the coin.

The other side, there is a need for a uniform to show an identity, a brand, much like a trademark or logo of successful and known companies. A sense of belongingness and uniqueness. like "This is the TSAA brand and color, I belong here." Nice to hear. Thus, the need to have a uniform was supported unanimously.

But the earlier side of the coin also has a point. So a compromise was made -- three days a week with uniform, two days, diversity and dress spontaneity would rule. Cool compromise and everyone in the room supported it.

Below, parents of grade schoolers plus their teachers. Elle sat on my wife's lap, left side. Her classmate, Happy, is held by PTA President Giselle.

The school prepared really great and plentiful food. If I knew that such yummy food would be served, I would have not taken breakfast and dinner the previous day. Sayang yong space na occupy ng breakfast and dinner the night before eh. hehehe.

Thanks TSAA administrators and teachers. Thanks fellow parents, for that wonderful and warm meeting and fellowships.

See also:
Elle Marie in Negros Occ., August 20, 2012

Elle Marie Oplas, Part 2, May 28, 2013

Elle and Bien at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, June 29, 2014

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Sic O'Clock News, Some Photos

More than two decades ago, I was "drafted" by the late Direk Marilou Diaz-Abaya, to her Sic O'Clock News tv program at Channel 13. The political satire program ran from around 1987 to late 1990. I joined its last 10 or 12 months shows, late 1989 to late 1990, as among the minor comedians :-).

In this photo,  I was the one standing. Others from left): Direk Marilou in action (facing us), Wilson Go, Dina Padilla, Khryss Adalia (RIP) and Celeste Bueno.  See Weekend fun 19: Sic o Clock News.

From left: Errol Dionisio (partly hidden, RIP), Wilson Go, Jimmy Fabregas, Ching Arellano (RIP), Manny Castaneda, Noni Buencamino, me, and Khyss (partly hidden). See Weekend Fun 55: Sic O'Clock News, Again.

Yesterday, a friend, Rommel Banlaoi, posted this in my fb wall. I don't know where he got it, but thanks a lot, Rommel.

Some photos in September 2011, at an event for Direk Marilou at the Yuchengco Museum, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. Direk was undergoing chemo treatment then. From top left clockwise: with Jimmy Fabregas, Noni Buencamino and his wife Sharmaine, with Direk Marilou, Direk in earlier years, and with Ces Quesada.

Fun days then. We were young, wild and free. Now, we are old, wild and free. I miss those who have departed. The living ones, we still "see" each other in facebook. We have a close fb page, "Sic O'Clockers".

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

UPSE Alumni Fellowship, Bond for Gold

Last Monday, June 23, 2014, the UP School of Economics Alumni Association (UPSEAA) held a fellowship for the association members at Strumm's bar in Makati. It is one of a series of events to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary this coming February 2015, or just eight months away.

My batchmates, batch 84. From left: ____ (sorry, forgot her name), Roger Ynzon, Popo Suanes (our class valedictorian then, he was the first Summa cum laude graduate of the school), Leo Riingen, me. Leo owns the PH franchise of Informatics. Sitting: Gadys Cruz Sta Rita, and Doris Ynzon, also Roger's wife. Gladys is the first female President of the National Power Corporation (NPC). Gladys paid for our 2 rounds of beer, thanks Gladys.

The above photo is from Glady's camera. Maganda rin pala ang black n white photo ano :-) Succeeding photos below from TG Serrano's camera, posted in facebook.

Hey Popo, Ernie, I suggested to Gladys to possibly hold a "UPSE-NPC Forum", and to Leo to hold a "UPSE-Informatics Forum", similar to the on-going "UPSE-Ayala Forum". Both agreed in principle. I hope you can discuss it in your next board meeting.

Earlier, Les, Rose San Pascual, and Oggie Arcenas joined us in the table.

 The fellowship was attended by many alumni from different batches. I think batch 82, below, has the biggest "delegation", there were around 15 of them that night. My friend and Rotary classmate, Atty. Inky Reyes, belongs to this batch.

From left: Jack Teotico, Past President of UPSEAA, Dida Salita, and Dr. Manny Esguerra -- my former teacher at PDE, a godfather of my younger daughter Bien Mary, and now NEDA Deputy Director General. Ernie Albano, current UPSEAA President, and TG Serrano.

From other batches, late 70s and early 80s.

Fantastic performer that night. the Glass Onion Band. The lead singer sang lots of songs by The Rolling Stones, Beatles, other 70s bands. He looked like Mick Jagger, and he sang like Mick Jagger, bow. Lead guitarist, seated, is businessman Tony Boy Cojuangco.

Thanks UPSEAA officials for the great fellowship.

See also:
UP ETC, May 20, 2012

ArtEconomics, August 24, 2012

Galerie Joaquin and the UPSEAA, September 29, 2012

UP Lantern Parade 2012, December 18, 2012