Monday, December 28, 2009

What’s ahead?

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s a new week. And yes, it’s the feast of the Holy Innocents. I can still recall some old folks say that it’s not nice to lend money on this day (whatever that means). Well, if it’s bad debt that you are talking about, we do not need to have this day to have just that – bad debts. Is it the economic crunch? Or force of habit? Anyway, I’m not going to rant about bad or good debts today. For the past so many years, I have been ranting about how the capitalists raked it in at Christmas. Well, can I call it a respite? I mean it seems like they have ran out of ideas as to how make more money out of this day of the niƱos inocentes.

We’re a few days away to the New Year. As always, a question is asked: what’s in store for us in the coming year? Whew, this early our enterprising friends are into this and that trinkets and what have you for the Chinese New Year! (Whew!) Don’t you see conflict of interest, err beliefs in this? Oh well . . .

Back to the question on what’s in store for 2010. Certainly, nothing could be more exciting (pardon my term) with 2010 being an election year. This early I can hear a good number of people singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” (hmm, I love Barbra Striesand’s version) Nope, I’m not talking about classic songs or divas here. Of course it’s about the national pastime which happens every three years, aka the elections. And I don’t have to elaborate my on use of happy days, do I?

Again, what’s in store for us in 2010? The answers will be varied. I believe it will depend upon your main concerns in life. Let’s talk about economics. Bernanke just made it as TIME Person of the Year, and if that (citation) should be any consolation, we can sit back (a little) assured that the U.S. recession is about to go. Okey, economics is boring. Let’s have politics then. Again, what could be in store for us in 2010? Now this is where the answers will be as colorful and varied thanks to the various political parties trying to slug it in come May 2010. The election may be only five months away, but as it has been said time and again, action for the next election starts after each election. Meaning the campaigning or politicking never stops, and let’s not even start discussing on the political addition and subtraction and mixed marriages called coalitions or alliances of political parties, thanks to the omnipresent political butterflies.

And the survey says! Aside from the election (tally) results, I think the figures given by the surveys are the next most important set of number for politicos of all shapes and sizes.

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Now for the sad part. News had it that the Supreme Court reconsidered an earlier decision on the cityhood of 16 municipalities. As I wrote this column, I still had to receive a reply from Mayor Mel Sarmiento regarding his reaction on the said decision. Mayor Sarmiento is the Secretary-General of the League of Cities of the Philippines. And as he has said many times before, the LCP’s opposition to the creation of new cities is not just kapritso on the part of the City Mayors but a case of having all concerned entities follow the law.

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Wedding Bells. Congratulations and Best Wishes to Sean Marie Roxas and Leslie Dimakiling (both of Oquendo, Calbayog City). They got married yesterday. The wedding mass was held at the Chapel of the Centennial Pastoral Center. Reception was held at the Cardinal Rosales Hall of the CPC.

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Let me now leave you with some more Christmas stories which I got from the History Channel.
In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth (a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration). Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring (why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?), Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia . Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion. On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today's Mardi Gras. Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the "lord of misrule" and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined "debt" to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

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This is it for now. Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Mary Christmas

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Merry Christmas! This is it, the big day when we commemorate the Savior being born among us. By the time you read this (that’s granting that you will find time), kids of all ages, shapes and sizes will be all over the place doing what they do best (and are supposed to do, I guess) – greeting their ninangs and ninongs and everyone in between; and expect to receive their gifts. Ah, the memories of my childhood. As I grew old, I came to believe that Christmas is for kids. Needless to say, I was mistaken.

It has always been like this – Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem thanks to a government directive, and Mary decided to give birth (or was it the Savior decided to come to the world) of all the times - on such a busy season. And the rest as they say is history. How could I miss it, on top of my catechism classes, the first books that I remember my parents gave me was about just that – the first Christmas.

We have heard so many reflections about the Savior’s birth, and many too are the complaints (to some extent, it’s on the verge of lamentations about how the birth of the Savior became reason for money to flow freely (you know buying this and that coz it’s Christmas). Oops, did I say money? We’re not yet talking about election season, if I may remind you. Not yet anyway.

Back to the reflections. There was one homily which I heard a few years back and I got stuck on it – it’s about that other story of Christmas which is the Visitation. It’s what I have always featured in this column each time the Misa de Gallo or Christmas itself comes. Last Sunday it was the topic of the gospel. And in a way, thus explains today’s title.

The subject for that day’s mass was the visit of Mary to Elizabeth (yup, this is the second joyful mystery. It always reminds me of a friend’s and my delusion about royalty that one time a friend leading the rosary said: “the second joyful mystery is the visitation of Mary to her cousin Queen Elizabeth”). Going back to the topic, so what’s the big deal about that visit?

Mary was heavy with a child. According to biblical scholars, the distance she traveled was 90 kilometers and in those days that distance took seven days. We never know if Mary walked or rode a donkey (something akin to private car or trucks of today’s rich people). She ran the risk of her chastity being violated, and not to mention the wild animals and muggers along the way. To make it short, it was not a travel for pleasure.

But there she was, making real the first encounter between the Messiah (Jesus) and the prophet (John). Mary brings Jesus to John, she brings Jesus to all of us Christians. This is why Mary plays a vital role in salvation. In today’s world, the visit tells us that we all have a social concern for others, that we have a social obligation to others. Our human weaknesses trap us to the temptations of being apathetic and callous to the needs of others. We don’t mind others because we are so comfortable with our own selves, with the security of our jobs and the comfort and safety of our homes. Not until we become victims ourselves do we join groups aimed at eliminating that which caused us to be hurt or afflicted.

Mary braved the dangers of travel just to visit and assist Elizabeth . We are called to do same to others. Mary was sensitive to the needs of others. Let us not be apathetic and callous to the needs of others. Let us take Mary as our model. And let us remember that this is not really a very heavy obligation because God does not demand beyond our capacity.

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Let me give you some more stories of Christmas (which I got from the History Channel).
An ancient holiday. The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia , the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe . At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany , people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Saturnalia: In Rome , where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia - a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture - was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun.

Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome . In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra's birthday was the most sacred day of the year. (More in my next column)

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This is it for now. Have a Merry Christmas everyone! Ciao!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Seasonal Charity

(This column appears in today's edition of he Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another week. It’s nice to note that President Obama was able to strike some sort of Climate agreement in Copenhagen, the protest of some quarters notwithstanding. My glee ends there. Considering what most Filipinos are into right now, we can kiss Copehagen goodbye (at least for now). How can I say that? Well, we or most of our fellow Filipinos need food for the noche buena and the media noche and the days (and nights) in between. There’s no need to elaborate on that, or is there?

It has been told to us since we were able to write our names (either in pre-school, kindergarten or grade one) that Christmas is the season of peace, love and joy. And, if I may say, count in reconciliation and friendship (take your pick: either it’s creating one, rekindling one, or repairing one) - all in the name of commemorating the birth of the Savior. Did I mention this season also being the season of charity? Or maybe it’s the season of seasonal charity (parang redundant ano?)

I have always wondered why is it that most of us are charitable each time Christmas comes. Let me guess, ‘coz it’s only during Christmas that many of us can afford to be charitable, like say salamat sa bonus and the like. Why is it that many of us remember the old people, the prisoners, the sick at some hospitals only during Christmas? (Do I have to count in the street children?) Don’t ask me for answers. To look at it on a positive note, it’s nice that we have at least one day, or week every year when we are able to take time to observe just that – our seasonal charity.

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Still with Christmas. I have always wondered why most Nativity scenes or belens that I have observed (at least the ones that come in some kinda big images) have only the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph AND the three wise men garbed in their finery. Is it the cost of adding more characters or cast (pardon the term)? Ahh, that would be bias against the poor shepherds. Seriously, my question was partly answered by the column of Alejandro Roces, if I may quote:

“… we have many old Christmas symbols. Probably the oldest is the Nativity scene, known by its Spanish name belen, or Bethlehem. This is a tradition that is believed to have originated way back in 1223 when St. Francis celebrated Christmas by depicting the Nativity scene complete with live donkey, sheep and ox. By the 17th century, the custom reached Spain, and a century later it was introduced in Mexico from where it was brought to the Philippines. Originally, the only human figures in the belen were the Holy Couple and the Holy Infant. The Three Kings were added during the Epiphany…”

That’s one question answered. Needless to say, the Savior’s birth in a manger symbolized simplicity (let’s forget the term humility). That’s based on my simplistic mind and very limited theology. And what am I up to this time? Wala lang, certainly simplicity is not the word or the virtue that guides SOME of our friends (or otherwise) in the church. Peace brother! It’s Christmas.

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We are four days away to Christmas. Let me give you some Christmas facts which I got form the history channel (again sorry, it’s the history buff in me):

  • Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
  • Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.
  • In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous - a lot like today's Mardi Gras parties.
  • From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.
  • Christmas wasn't a holiday in early America - in fact Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the country's first Christmas under the new constitution.
  • Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.
  • The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith's 1607 Jamestown settlement.
  • Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.
  • The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.
  • Rudolph, "the most famous reindeer of all," was the product of Robert L. May's imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.
  • Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.


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Parokya ni Edgar will be onstage at 7:00 pm tonight at the Calbayog City Sports Center. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

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Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My (usual) Christmas rant

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. We are seven days away to Christmas, and it’s time for me do yet another rant, well, something that I do each time this season of the year comes around. In the past so many days, aside from the reports on the attendance in the misa de gallo (and the traditional foodstuff that go with it), we were also flooded with reports about this and that shopping sprees, this and that bargain centers, this and that stuff to be bought in time for the Noche Buena. And yes, did I mention the endless Christmas parties (something the gym or fitness center operators are thankful for) and the exchange gifts be it at the office or at home? Don’t say it, everything has to do with something that everyone (or most of us) has so little of – money. Yup, why is it that many of us had to spend every penny there is for the holidays? That I do not understand. And let us not even start discussing about how other would berate people (myself included) for giving only so much amount (or money) for the inaanak and their friends and cousins and hangers on ) who go with them when they go house to house (ala trick or treat) asking for what else, pamasko. Well, on this aspect, I mean the kids, I am not complaining. Call it kahi-araan, crisis or no crisis, Christmas is bound to happen, err to be celebrated. But seriously, is it the mind set? Certainly it’s not coping up the Joneses when one wishes for good things and good food for the holidays. Let’s say we all deserve a break (Yup, with all the call for solemn commemoration of the birth of the Savior and its deeper meaning notwithstanding). Now, do I hear myself saying I rest my case?

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The Calbayog LGU employees will be 8,000-peso richer this Christmas. The Sangguniang Panlungsod has passed Ordinance number 2009-SS08-759 granting the amount of Eight Thousand Pesos as extra bonus to all regular employees of LGU Calbayog.

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Halad sa Pasko 2009, the annual Christmas Festival of the City Government of Calbayog formally opened last Wednesday. Mayor Mel Sarmiento and Councilors Julius Mancol and Ina Rabuya were on hand for the program. Performances were made by the ISKOLARs and the Calbayog Rondalla. The event was highlighted by the lighting of the Christmas Tree and a fireworks display.

And in case you’d like to know, there will be no giant Christmas Tree this year. Word has it that the organizers did not set up the tree at the Cardinal Rosales Plaza (where the giant tree was setup at least for the past 15 years) because the place is being prepped for the Centennial celebration next year. Hmm, considering the time, must be some huge preparations over there.

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Onstage tonight at the Calbayog City Sports Center: “Riot sa Calbayog” with Pooh, K Brosas, Princess Ryan and Joseph Bitangcol. For tickets contact Ritchie at 0906-520-8161

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Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog City Sports Center this coming Monday, December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

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Let me leave you with something I got from the History channel (sorry, it’s the history buff in me again): a little history about Christmas in Europe and in the last place that Karl Marx would have wanted to stay – America.

“In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.”

“The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.”

“After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.”

Well, after what it has been through, I’m beginning to understand why many take time to celebrate Christmas with gusto.

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Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The 12 days of Christmas

(This column appears in today's editio of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s a new week, and yes, we are more or less 12 days away to Christmas. Needless to say, by this time we’ve heard more than enough of our share of Christmas songs, or carols (I’m wondering how is one different from the other.) Anyway, last Friday, I mentioned something about “The 12 days of Christmas”, one of the most loved (or otherwise, depending upon your mood I guess) songs of Christmas; and how much would the gifts given on those 12 days would cost us in today’s dollars. After the dollar signs, it’s time for us to dissect as to exactly what the song is all about. Let me give you part of the article written by Diana Mackinen, something which I got from www.littlechicagoreview.com.

“…some of us love it and some of us don’t. However there is a hidden meaning in the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” and it is very interesting. In England from 1558 to 1829, Catholics were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. In fact it was illegal to be Catholic until 1829 when the English Parliament finally emancipated the religion. Those practicing the Catholic faith and caught would be imprisoned or executed. The song was written in England as one of the ‘catechism songs’ to help young children learn the basics of their faith. It was a coded-message, a memory aid. The song, itself, sounded like rhyming nonsense and the young children of the Catholic faith could sing the song. The powers that be did not know the real meaning of the song.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help children learn their faith and better understand the Bible. The song goes, “On the first day of Christmas my true love game to me…. “True love” is referring to God Himself and the “me” who receives the present refers to every baptized person, i.e. the Church.
  • Day 1 The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the cross.
  • Day 2 The “two turtle doves” refers to the Old and New Testaments.
  • Day 3 The “three French hens” stands for faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abided (1 Corinthians 13).
  • Day 4 The “four calling birds” refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
  • Day 5 The “five golden rings” represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish torah; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
  • Day 6 The “six geese a-laying” is the six days of creation.
  • Day 7 The “seven swans a-swimming” refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
  • Day 8 The “eight maids a milking” reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.
  • Day 9 The "nine ladies dancing” were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
  • Day 10 The “ten lords a-leaping” represents the Ten Commandments.
  • Day 11 The “eleven pipers piping” refers to the eleven faithful apostles.
  • Day 12 The “twelve drummers drumming’’ were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and rose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting.

The song is only sung at Christmas time now, but its hidden meaning saved the lives and religious faith of many during the 271 years the Catholic faith was outlawed in England. The next time you hear this song, consider how this otherwise non-religious and to some annoying, song had its origins in keeping alive the teaching of the Catholic faith. By-the-way, if you were to purchase all of the gifts in the song, it would cost you over $87,000.

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“Riot sa Calbayog” with Pooh, K Brosas, Princess Ryan and Joseph Bitangcol. This one-night engagement will be held at the Calbayog City Sports Center this coming Friday, December 18, 2009. For details contact Ritchie at 0906-520-8161

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Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

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Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Merry Christmas? Or is it Happy Holidays?

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there it’s another weekend. Yes, have you ever wondered which is which? I mean, is it Merry Christmas? Or is it Happy Holidays? I got my answer very recently via some yahoo article and, yup a priest’s sermon. As you read this, we are at least 14 days away to Christmas. And this early many have been greeting each other Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I understand the latter is a result of some sort of a government ban (in the U.S.) on putting religious overtones on civil (non-religious) matters; and the capitalists in their effort to attract those who are not into the religion that makes a big deal about the birth of Christ, or something to that effect. Anyway, my point is, it’s them (and the non-Christians and or non-religious capitalists especially) riding on to cash it in on what is basically a very religious celebration and they end up renaming the celebration? Well, it’s all in the name of earning a living I suppose. Anyway, I like what I heard from a priest last Sunday, if you see a greeting card which says Happy Holidays, don’t buy it. (Smile! It’s a weekend)

Talking about the holidays, err Christmas. This is one of those seasons when I don’t mind looking back, back at old articles (or columns) and featuring these again and this is one of those articles which I featured in this column around this time, a year ago:

“By this time, you must have had more than enough of your share of Christmas songs (or carols). One of these should be the one entitled “The 12 Days of Christmas”. I would not have taken notice of that song until I came across an article Dan Nephin wrote for the Associated Press. In a way the article “dissected” the gifts mentioned in the song and came up with the amount it will cost one to have all those gifts - you know the partridge, the turtle doves, etc. So how much will it cost you in today’s dollar (And with the price of U.S. suppliers)? The whole list will set you back by 86,000 dollars. $ 86,609.00 to be exact” (That’s in 2008 dollars, and yes, with the economic mess still lurking somewhere).

If I may quote the article: “...Given the economic downturn, even the most romantic might balk at the $86,609 price tag for the items in the carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." That's this year's cost, according to the annual "Christmas Price Index" compiled by PNC Wealth Management, which tallies the single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, purchased repeatedly as the song suggests. The price is up $8,508 or 10.9 percent, from $78,100 last year.” Well, that’s if one is to literally taking into consideration the gifts given out on the twelve days of Christmas. We all know that the song is not exactly a list of gifts per se, but a guide for the Christian believers at the time when practicing their belief meant death or persecution.

I’ll give you more (interesting) details on the song in my next column.

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Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

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Let me continue with the list I left you with last Monday:
  • Almonds are a member of the peach family.
  • An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. (I know some people like that also. Actually I know A LOT of people like this!)
  • Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.
  • February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.
  • In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
  • If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors
  • Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite!
  • Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
  • The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
  • The cruise liner, QE 2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.
  • The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket. (Good thing he did that.)
  • The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.
  • There are more chickens than people in the world.
  • Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.
  • Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
  • Now you know more than you did before!!

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This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Immature campaigning

This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another week, and they have martial law in a province down south. So, the Supreme Court has come out with a decision which has something to do with campaigning, premature campaigning to be exact. I don’t have any idea as to the exact content of that decision. From what I have heard especially from political kibitzers, it’s that premature campaigning is now a thing of the past. I guess your reaction – whether that the decision is nice or otherwise - is will depend upon where you sit in the political spectrum. Anyway, my take on the issue? With premature campaigning out of the way, let’s entertain ourselves with immature campaigning. (Oops, just wanna make you smile this week).

Familiar faces, familiar names, and yes familiar taglines which make candidates related to each other. And how is that? Read: anak san kablas, amay or iroy san kablas, bugto san kablas, para sa kablas, pagtapud san kablas, tikang sa kablas, paglaum san kablas. I guess the same taglines can apply for the national candidates, just translate these to Filipino.

And talking about campaigns. If I may borrow a line from the 80’s song, some guys certainly have all the luck. Have you noticed what these political ADs contain aside from selling the candidates? Yup, theses (Ads) also say that these are paid for by friends of this and that candidates. Whew! How could they (the candidates) end up having all those super generous friends? Why can’t we all be lucky enough to have friends like them?

And guest candidates? Yup, some independents or candidates for senator are reportedly guests of this and that political party of this and that candidate for president. Just curious, who do you think these guests candidates will vote for as president.

And, 40 lawyers for the Ampatuan in detention? That’s an entire law firm, maybe more! And yes, why forty? Suddenly I’m reminded of the story of Alibaba, you know that story which you and I heard one time or more during our childhood.

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Wedding bells: Oliver Obligado (of Tacloban City) and Anjanette Donato (of Sabang, Calbayog) will get married tomorrow. Their wedding mass will be held at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral with Fr. Iluminado Paulino as mass presider.

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Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

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Let me leave you with something to think and smile about this week. It’s something I got via email (as always):
  • 'Stewardesses' is the longest word typed with only the left hand; and 'lollipop' is the longest word typed with your right hand. (Bet you tried this out mentally, didn't you?)
  • No word in the English language rhymes with month, silver, or purple
  • 'Dreamt' is the only English word that ends in the letters 'mt'
  • Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
  • The sentence: 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog' uses every letter of the alphabet. (Now, you know you're going to try this out for accuracy, right?)
  • The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes). (Yep, I knew you were going to 'do' this one.)
  • There are only four words in the English language which end in 'dous': tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous. (You're not possibly doubting this, are you?)
  • There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: 'abstemious' and 'facetious.' (Yes, admit it, you are going to say, a e i o u)
  • Typewriter is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard. (All you typists are going to test this out)
  • A cat has 32 muscles in each ear
  • A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds. (Some days that's about what my memory span is.)
  • A 'jiffy' is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second
  • A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
  • A snail can sleep for three years. (I know some people that could do this too!)(to be continued)

    * * *

    Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 4, 2009

of Vampires and the Pacman

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. I don’t have any news about Calbayog, I’ve reserved it for next week. In the meantime, let me share with you my usual comments about the world around me, something that went missing in my columns the past weeks.

COMELEC was in the news lately and will be that way in the next few months. Nope, I have no problem with the poll body, it’s about how things went during the filing of COCs of national candidates, to be specific, the lesser known candidates; and to be more specific, the ones who are sure to make it to the list of nuisance candidates. So what about them? Ahh, their portfolio and grand plans for the land of Juan De La Cruz make them such interesting characters. Having comedians, err, candidates aspire for the presidency must have given the people at the poll body more than their share or laughter or smiles, to say the least. Now that’s what I call the break before the hard work. Kumbaga, the fun part, the happy moments before the counting.

And yes, filing was the word in the past few days. How about “unfiling”? Don’t take that question seriously. That’s the term that came to mind after seeing Chiz and Ebdane on TV as they withdraw from the race. In one case with supporters crying or at least on the verge of tears. Tears of joy? Of relief, perhaps? I thinks it’s more on the resources wasted with those ADs, err advocacies, and what have you.

With the political season heating up (the cold December season notwithstanding), what is one to do? Perhaps this might work: Relax Watch a Movie. I think that very old line still is true. And you need that all the more in this election season (or any season for that matter). So, what do we have? Teenage Vampires? (ohh, yum-yum. If they indeed look that yummy, I won’t mind offering my neck!). They ran out of enemies so they hijacked Air Force One (remember Harrison Ford?). Nostradamus supposedly said it, thus the world will end in 2012. The Vatican was under siege thus they called Robert Langdon. Ahh, what else is next? But hey, with times going so bad, I guess a little fantasy or so much of it won’t do any harm.

But then, no amount of escaping from reality can help us forget the sad news that is the massacre down south. You can call it many things. For one, it is a manifestation that with the polls going automated, there is only one way for desperate politicians to do it, and that to eliminate their enemies. But considering the way they did it in Maguindanao, barbaric is too soft a term.

And yes, Manny the Pacman. Nope, I’m not gonna talk about boxing here. I didn’t watch the fight. On top of me never into boxing, I was quite sure that Manny was going to kiss the floor in an embarrassing knockout (considering Cotto’s size and style). But I was wrong. So, what about Manny? It’s his entry to politics. And let me borrow a paragraph from a blogger whose site I forgot (my apologies):

“I do hope that our local politicos (Attention, you trapos!) who keep on knocking at Pacquiao’s gullibility would stop convincing him to transfer his wars from the boxing ring to the political arena. You guys can hardly handle your own political affairs – how much more can you expect from Manny who can barely keep himself in school? Let’s just keep Manny in the boxing ring and perhaps, also do an Oscar de la Hoya and have a statue made in his honor. Trust me: everyone else will be happier that way.”

I say yes to that. But, sadly, we all know that Pacman was among those who trooped to the COMELEC with his COC on hand.

* * *

The CKC - Jose Gomez Orchestra is off to Manila for a series of concerts next week. Originally scheduled last October, it was postponed due to typhoon Ondoy. From the original three, the orchestra will have five engagements to be highlighted by a performance at the Manila Cathedral. The said performance will be among the activities of Pondong Pinoy. The orchestra will be performing upon the invitation of Manila Archbishop, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.
Here’s their schedule:
- December 7, 2009: Sanctuario de San Antonio (Forbes Park)
- December 8, 2009: Mall of Asia (Atrium)
- December 9, 2009: Saint Anthony Shrine (Manrique Street, Sampaloc, Manila)
- December 10, 2009: Santuario De San Pedro Bautista Church (San Pedro Bautista Street, San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City)
- December 11, 2009: Manila Cathedral
Except for the performance at the Manila Cathedral, all engagements are set at 7:30 in the evening. Proceeds of the concerts will be for the scholarship of the orchestra members and for the procurement of additional instruments. For other details / inquiries, please contact Arthur at: +63 915-215-6548

* * *

Parokya ni Edgar will be performing at the Calbayog Calbayog City Sports Center on December 21, 2009. For tickets you may call (055) 209-1646.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Same old pols to slug it out in May 2010 polls in EV

(This news iten appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

TACLOBAN CITY — Same old politicians are to slug it out in next year’s elections in Eastern Visayas. They are either incumbents or have been trounced by their rivals during the 2007 elections.

In Leyte, Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD is sure to finish his third and last term as no one challenged him for the post once held by his mother, Remedios, for nine years and by his father Leopoldo, for a single term.

Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) will have an old rival, Feliciano Clemencio of the Liberal Party, for his bid for another term for the first district.
Award-winning actor Richard Gomez (Liberal Party) will challenge the hold of the Codillas in the fourth district. The namesake of outgoing Rep. Eufrocino Codilla Sr., will try to take the post held by his father for nine years.

Former presidential legal adviser Sergio Apostol will have Tabontabon Mayor Rustico Balderian of the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas as his main opponent for Leyte’s second congressional district.

In Samar, outgoing Governor Milagrosa Tan decided to run for Congress to represent the province’s second district with rival, Catalino Figueroa (PMP) as one of her four opponents.

The daughter of the controversial governor, Sharee Ann, the incumbent congressional representative of the district, filed her certificate of candidacy for governor under the banner of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD with incumbent Vice Governor Jesus Redaja and Board Member Casilda “Ida” Lim among her opponents.

For the first district of the province, outgoing Rep. Reynaldo Uy (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) endorsed Calbayog Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento to take the post he held for nine years. Uy filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor of Calbayog. Sarmiento, meantime, will have an old rival, Rodolfo Tuazon (NP) as an opponent.

Biliran outgoing Governor Rogelio Espina (NP) is to challenge incumbent congressman Glenn Chong, who is seeking for his possible second term under the banner of Lakas-Kampi-CMD. Espina’s younger brother, Gerry Boy, Jr. is seeking the governorship with the father of Chong, Charlie, as his main challenger. Both gubernatorial candidates are running as independents.

In Southern Leyte, it’s a return bout between incumbent Governor Damian Mercado, seeking for his second term, against Marisa Lerias (NPC) whom the ruling party bet defeated in 2007 elections. For the lone congressional district of the province, Rep. Roger Mercado has former congressman, Aniceto Saludo (NP) as his main challenger.

In the case of Eastern Samar, it’s a free for all as the incumbent Governor, Ben Evardone of Lakas-Kampi-CMD opted to run for Congress though he is eligible for another term. Evardone will slug it out with incumbent and rival, Rep.Teodulo Coquilla, also of Lakas-Kampi, CMD. A neophyte, lawyer Raymond Apita, once an aide of Evardone, complete the congressional contest of the province.

Among the five gubernatorial candidates is incumbent Vice Governor Leander Geli of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

In Northern Samar, third-termer Governor Raul Daza of the Liberal Party fielded his son, Representative Paul Daza as a possible successor for the post he held for nine years now. He will have former Representative Harlin Abayon of the ruling party as his main challenger.

The outgoing governor is to run for the first congressional district, once held by his son Paul, with Francisco Rosales of the administration party as his only opponent.

In the second congressional district, the brother of slain Catholic priest, Cecilio Lucero, Antonio, will challenge incumbent congressman Emil Ong of the ruling party. Antonio is the incumbent vice governor and is also part of the Liberal Party. (By JOEY A. GABIETA, Staff writer)

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