Archive for Reflections

My Little Blue Bird

hi, handsome bird.

your eye is filled with meaning that I cannot yet understand. your feathers of blue make me want to look at the sky and the sea more than i should have been through these years.

i very much admire how you proudly stand guard by your nest that you built prodigiously and patiently. i wish i can do the same for my future home ...

i wish i can tell you how you make me smile every day i look at you ...

and i wish you know how you remind me of how beautiful that mind is of whoever created you.

A picture of a blue bird borrowed online. The source had been lost, but this site id thankful for the one who took the picture of this wonderful creature.

A picture of a blue bird borrowed online. The source is lost, but this blog site is thankful for the one who took the picture of this wonderful creature.


The frightening thought that age is catching up with me worries me every time I fall into the habit of comparing my generation to the youngsters now. It was the same way my Mom or Lola would elevate their times by discrediting ours. They would say:

"Kami noon pandesal lang at mga prutas ang baon okay na. Kayo paresto-restoran pa! Para namang kumikita na kayo ng pera. "

" Noong bata kami palaging may chaperone sa sayawan, ngayon kayo ang gagaling tumakas."

"Sa paaralan namin noon walang calculator pero ang bibilis naming magcompute. Kayo may computer na pero ang bobobo nyo pa rin sa Math!"

I'm starting to sound like my Mom. I would tell my panganay:

"Kami noon walang facetime pero mas masaya kasi face-to-face interaction".

"Noon malandi ka kung may boyfriend o girlfriend ka sa high school, ngayon kayo naglalambutsingan pa daw sa classroom sabi ng Madam mo."

"Bastos na mga bata ngayon. Di na nagmamano at di marunong gumalang sa matatanda. Noon kabataan ko tatayo ako sa bus pag may matandang sasakay."

The whole point is to prove that the past -- the subjective past --  is much better than the present, an aging ego's favorite past time. 

Tonight what triggered yet another sickening comparison was when I listened to 'Himala'  by Rivermaya. Why Rivermaya, of all the 90s band? Not that I am a fan. They were just the first thing that crossed my mind because I keep seeing event posters of another contemporary band from the 90s -- Side A -- on my Facebook newsfeed. The band will have a reunion concert in New York soon. (I am not too fond of Side A Band so I contented myself with a Rivermaya song instead as a representative of that era.)

<Click here to listen to the song Himala by Rivermaya.>

Twenty years back I was singing popular love songs that mentioned conservative and religious notions such as 'langit', 'himala' (from Himala by Rivermaya), 'Diyos' (from Gary Valenciano's Natutulog Pa ang Diyos) and even the phrase, "O, Dios ko!" (from Eraserhead's Pare Ko). Eraserheads and Rivermaya are popular alternative rock bands in the 90s that were supposed to be satanic (backmasking scandal) and supposedly rakistas  that are substance addicts as were de riguer for most band members then. And yet their songwriting is still deeply influenced by religion. That's how spiritual we were then that even love songs were peppered with religious elements.

Last year my public schooled binata whom I see as the typical lad of their generation, cluelessly asked me this while pointing at the picture of Virgin Mary with a toddler baby: "Sino yang batang buhat-buhat ni Mama Mary?"  Duh! Naloka ako! 

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Habang itinituro ang larawan ng Our Mother of Perpetual Help, ang tanong ng teenager sa akin, "Sino yang batang buhat-buhat ni Mama Mary?"

This is a true story that I keep on repeating to my contemporaries. At the very end of each kwento, I would blurt out with matching dramatic hand gestures, "Ano na ang nangyayari sa mga bata ngayon?" That said with the air of arrogance based on the biased notion that our generation is better.

In conclusion, given those songs as examples and even before I cared to listen to what the kids in the Philippines are listening to right now, I just feel like my time were much better than theirs.

Parang noong sa nanay ko lang. Tumatanda na talaga. Matigas pa ang ulo.


Les Miserables and Bonifacio

Truth be told, I watched Les Miserables not for its Hollywood trappings, but in memory of the heroism of the great Andres Bonifacio and the Katipuneros of 1896. Victor Hugo's novel from which the musical, and subsequently the film, was based from was among the books that inspired Bonifacio to launch the Philippine revolution.

I didn't sob as the blonde in front of me did neither did I feel sorry for the tragedy of Eponine's unrequited love.  I was focused more on the  poverty of the times, and how social injustice can turn innocence into scum. I cringe at how women were punished more for indecency while men were condoned. I saw how children were unlikely victims of the abhorrent crimes, legal and social injustices. While reading the original french novel, Bonifacio probably drew similarities between the 18th century France and the 19th century Philippines that strenghtened (or inspired) his conviction to lay his life for the cause of the country.

After the movie, the song of the young rebels continues on in my head. I can just imagine the song coming out of Bonifacio's mouth.

Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people Who will not be slaves again! When the beating of your heart Echoes the beating of the drums There is a life about to start When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Beyond the barricade Is there a world you long to see?

Then join in the fight That will give you the right to be free!

On top of joining the movie audience's collective sorrow for the death of the rebels, I felt pangs of guilt knowing that if I lived  during Bonifacio's time or had lived anytime when a revolution is raging, I would have been like those characters in the movie who chose to keep their doors shut behind any radical movement.

I'm an immigrant who chose to leave its country in turmoil, what would you expect?

The Supreme Leader of the Philippine Revolution Against Western Imperialism

The Supreme Leader of the Philippine Revolution Against Western Imperialism

Happy New Year!

Everything could have ended this year, but it didn't. So this year I'm most thankful for having survived the Armageddon 2012. I expect more death defying struggles to come but with a powerful Ally up high, I feel secured knowing there's an evacuation site behind those icy clouds. Even if Life decides to breakup with Humanity again --- for real, at least I am well-rehearsed. Happy New Year, Pilipinas and New York! (Surely, morbid thinking is the highlight of 2012.) 546193_10151378842741180_877385766_n

Caring for the Elderly

While the rest of the world were partying for the new year, these daughters happily fulfilled their filial obligations. 'Nanay' is sick so like any true-blooded Pinoy anak, they were by her bedside. In the entire rehab of 8 floors, they were the only ones. I so admire Pinoy values especially when these are practiced outside the Philippines. Mabuhay ang Pinoy!
HOMBREBUENO sisters at their mother's bedside on New Year's eve

HOMBREBUENO sisters at their mother's bedside on New Year's eve

Hiking 2012 – Photo Journal


HIKING was actually rock climbing! The invitation said 'hiking' and so I went with my scarf, tech gizmos, and other needless stuff expecting an easy trail with moderate walk and minimal trekking. It was not! The first stop was at the Sugar Loaf Mountain in the Highlands of New York. — at Breakneck Ridge.

At Sugar Loaf Mountain

At Sugar Loaf Mountain

At this point I thought of backing out but when I looked down the steep incline, I decided it's easier not to give up. So there, I endured! Mommy, look at me!
Scaling Boulders

Scaling Boulders

The more experienced climbers waiting for the neophytes to scale the gorge first.

The more experienced climbers waiting for the neophytes to scale the gorge first.

As if my agitation wasn't enough, TIM, one of the peer guides, tells a story about a bear attacking a climber. That's me trying to ignore him. — at South Beacon Mountain.



I just conquered the third mountain, North Beacon Mountain! Resting to catch my breath. My thoughts came in randomized variety: NPAs living in the mountains of my country, poor rural students in the who walked to school everyday, feeling of getting lost, scary ticks and contractinglyme disease in the forest, slimy snakes and the oncoming storm, etc ... And yes, thinking how it's great to be just alive. Hehehhe ... nagdedeliryo na ako sa pagod! — at North Beacon Mountain

On top of North Beacon Mountain in Cold Spring, NY. This mountain is part of the Hudson Highlands.

On top of North Beacon Mountain in Cold Spring, NY. This mountain is part of the Hudson Highlands.

I find it so exciting that I came back with my friends the following week. Like the first time, we took the Metro North Train to destination. This picture was taken at Grand Central Station at 7am.

427555_10151129905216180_659350858_nThe hike is addicting. Considered one of the steepest trails in NY, Breakneck Bridge has breathtaking views of the Hudson River and Highlands. Halfway pa lang pero ang ilog ang ganda na. Majestic Hudson!                                             405331_10151126644041180_1976976722_n

This second trip was eventful. A lot got so exhausted for underestimating the difficulty of the trail. It was a hot summer day and we ran out of water. One fellow got lost and was rescued by the Cold Spring Fire Department. He survived night time in the steep mountains without any food, water, light and equipment. We were so glad he was rescued and safe! The theme of the day was SURVIVAL. We learned so much on that day but it was still fun! We slept at the Cold Spring fire station.

Read this link for a related story written by one of our hike mates. This was posted on CNN.   []     430188_10151127537476180_1481209473_n     We came back a third time! This time with the Sanlo Hiking Society!
Reynor, Maricar, Mharj, Jan Michael and Au. Rogelio Penaverde took the picture.

Reynor, Maricar, Mharj, Jan Michael and Au. Rogelio Penaverde took the picture.

A daring spirit never goes home without 'battle wounds'. Here's mine proudly stamped on my forehead plus some bruises here and there after a much enjoyed day hike. No regrets (but i could have lost my head).

Ouch! Swelling after falling face down on the  rocky mountain slope. I am lucky I only got one. It could have been worse.

Ouch! Swelling after falling face down on the rocky mountain slope. I am lucky I only got one. It could have been worse.

The third time is a charm. Now that it was easier for us, we even had time to create videos.




Our contributor, Mark Martinez, is a Speech Communications graduate of UP Baguio. On his free time he writes prose and poetry in three languages: English, Tagalog and Ilocano. He is a freelance journalist and currently dabbles in photography.

Last year, I spent Mother's Day with my best friend and we went to see his mom at their residence in Cavite. His mom asked me why didn't I go home to see my mom in Tarlac. I just said that I have a work schedule the following day. She told me that I should've visited and spent that special day with the woman who gave her everything to me. I never thought that that will be the last Mother's Day that I could be with my loving mother.

I really don't fancy such celebations before, but now it seems like Mother's Day is, indeed, one of the most meaningful occasions to celebrate with your first true love-- your mother.

The recent passing of my mom (January 6th) made me truly realize the philosophy behind the cliched fact that you'll only appreciate the ultimate worth of a person in your life once she's gone for good. This doesn't mean that I didn't care for my mom nor did I take her for granted while she was still within my reach. What I'm saying is that I should've spent more quality time with her on creating wonderful memories together. I should've been more vocal on telling her how much I love her. I should've been there by her side when she felt the most excruciating pain that took her life away. I should've been a better son for her, but whatever I say now, should-have-beens are just nothing but a cry filled with lessons from the past.

I'm missing her everyday, but all I can do now is to reminisce. I missed her on my 26th birthday, and I'll be missing her even more next year, then on the next until my last. Surely, Christmas will never be the same again without her at the dining table on its eve. And Mother's Day for me will no longer be celebrated, but commemorated instead. Even so, now that my mom's physical presence can no longer be a possibility at any affair, my collection of warm memories with her will always be there to clothe me on a now cold and woeful occasion like this.

I miss my mother -- the sound of her encouraging voice whenever I'm in doubt; those sweet and genuine smile  on her lovely face that brought peace to my troubled heart; the wisdom coming from the deepest recollections of her life; those priceless, joyful moments that we shared together that will never happen again! These are the things that make me very thankful that she's my mother.

I know that she gave me the best of her and that she loved me the best way she could. This inevitable fact brings me a mixed feeling of happiness and pain. I'm happy because no matter how complicated my life was and would be, I know deep in my heart that she's proud of me because for her, I'm the world's number one. Her unconditional love made me a man of strong and great character. Yet despite all, a tinge of pain remain because I never had the chance to bid goodbye to my dear mother before she left me to eternity.

This Mother's Day, chocolates will just be chocolates, flowers will just be flowers, but my precious moments with her are things of the past that are good to remember all over again. If there's one thing that I learned from my loss, that is to treasure and seize every moment possible with the people closest to your heart because no one  knows when is going to be your last time to be with them.

Be with your Mom on Mother's day. You'll never know if this is going to be the last Mother's Day that you can spend time with your first true love.

Mang, may you rest in eternal peace, and Happy Mother's Day!

Think About This

“It is ironic that many Filipinos learn to love the Philippines while abroad, not at home.” ― Ambeth OcampoRizal Without the Overcoat  


Earlier, in a rain-drenched and chilly New York, I got lost in the creative strumming of a Japanese guitarist at West 4th station. I don't know why I easily fall victim to wonderful and romantic tunes. I was enraptured…I was in a standstill. People were rushing as usual, oblivious of my languid state. As the melodies of Fly Me to the Moon, Moonriver and What a Wonderful World filled the entire station with wonderful music, I didn't notice that I missed two trains. I didn't care...I just had to savor every tune and feeling evoked by the songs.

I fished in my pocket and gave Kishi, that's the artist's name, my last cash for the day. It could have been a good drink at a bar that can fill me with intoxicating gladness, yet I know deep inside that I wouldn't be needing anything else now but this wonderful feeling of elation. So I left smiling and glad to have fed my heart to the brim—again.

In the City where open fields of flowers are hard to come by, the closest thing I can do in substitute to 'stopping to smell the flowers' is this...appreciating pockets of beauty anywhere as it presents itself, may it be in a grimy and old subway stop in downtown Manhattan.


Who Wouldn’t Love You?

It's been six years. Six years away from my family and friends that was made easy by your charm and beauty  I've never seen elsewhere. Someday if I may be away to make room for younger dreamers, remember that once I was on your shores dazzled by what you laid on my lap. I love you, New York! Photos by Luchelle del Rosario, Abegail Ballesteros and Marilen Clemente