This is not really about me, but about the people I meet, the places I visit and the stories I want to share.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Lone Fatality

A wife, a mother, and three children – all before the bag containing the body of Joel Tan, the lone fatality of three days of heavy rains in Dingalan brought by an active low pressure area.

Joel drowned Wednesday January 25 after being swept by a strong river current towards Dingalan Bay. His body was found two days later, along a cove in a nearby barangay.

At the time of the accident, Joel was carrying his nine-year old son Biboy. The kid miraculously survived after clinging onto a tree trunk. It was dark at that time, around seven in the evening.

Father and son and a few other men came from a wedding reception that night. They had second thoughts on whether to cross the river or let the water subside. Joel insisted on crossing the river because he was thinking of his starving pigs at home.

What’s unfortunate, his mother Cristina told me, is that Joel has been living in Dingalan for four years now, trying to move on with his life. Cristina says she sent Joel from their Tanay, Rizal home to their relatives in Dingalan to overcome his drug addiction. He was doing well, keeping himself busy with his pigs, until that fateful night of January 25th. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Touch Me Not

“Kung nasaan ang panganib, doon ka pumaroon sapagkat doon naroroon ang karangalan” – Ibarra, Noli Me Tangere.

This was written below the picture of 1st Lt. Lawrence San Juan in his PMA Class 1997 yearbook. From his words, he is the type who is not afraid to walk along dangerous paths – just like what he is doing now, risking his life for a cause he strongly believes in.

Just yesterday, Karen Davila had an exclusive interview with Lawrence. He reiterated their position saying the President had five years to institute reforms within the military, but she failed.

Because of their escape from Fort Bonifacio, Lawrence and the other Magdalo soldiers were branded as “dangerous men” by the AFP leadership. The rebel soldiers are now the subject of an intensified manhunt by the military and the police.

But from what I have gathered from the San Juan family, Lawrence is not as dangerous as portrayed by the military. When I interviewed him at their home in Rodriguez, Rizal, Mang Rodolfo talked lengthily about how good his son is. Lawrence’s sister Zel and brother Rommel also had good words for their kuya.

Mang Rodolfo told me, on top of his duties as a soldier, Lawrence is also a thoughtful brother, husband, and son. For one, he did not forget to treat his parents on his mother’s birthday a few weeks ago, despite his detention inside Fort Bonifacio. They were escorted by the military police when they went out for dinner, in case you’re wondering how they did that.

Come to think of it, how many of us would go out of our way, inspite of our busy schedules, to treat our parents on their special days?

The AFP may have enough reasons to brand San Juan and the other Magdalo soldiers as dangerous. They are actually facing serious charges before a Makati court.

Maybe this is what Lawrence really wanted to do – to follow a dangerous path, even if it may cost him his life for as long as it is for the good of the country.

But as of now, it remains to be seen if Lawrence and the other Magdalo soldiers will suffer the same fate as Crisostomo Ibarra's in Noli Me Tangere. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 23, 2006

5th Anniv of PGMA

At the time these members of Akbayan Youth draped the People Power Monument with an Oust Gloria banner, the latest survey from Pulse Asia was released.

Some thirty members of the party-list group flocked to the People Power Mounument to echo their calls against the President for the nth time.

And at the same time, according to a recent survey by Pulse Asia, 58% of Filipinos will support calls for the President’s ouster if it were proven that she cheated in the elections.

I asked Akbayan Youth’s spokesperson, Ivy Diaz, a Social Science student from the Philippine Normal University, about what they can do to get the nod of 58% of Filipinos. She said they are tirelessly campaigning in schools and everywhere else by giving out Hello Garci CD’s to prove that President Arroyo is a bogus leader.

But then, haven’t we had enough of the voices behind those CD’s? It’s in the internet, TV stations have broadcast parts of it, and transcripts were already published in the major dailies. Since the opposition says the CD is a potent tool to pin down the President, then those 58% should have already acted since the issue cropped up.

But how come we haven’t seen those 58% in Edsa just yet?

Well, maybe the opposition has to work harder. Harder than the job being done by the President’s men. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bird Flu

In this quiet town of Candaba, Pampanga, fears of contracting the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu have been set aside by local officials and bird-watching aficionados alike. Candaba town mayor Jerry Pelayo assures migratory birds at the Candaba swamp, mostly egrets or locally known as tagak and brown wild ducks are harmless. The town is actually inviting the public to see for themselves the beauty of bird-watching.

But how come these migratory birds are safe when in fact they came from East Asia and Siberia where cases of bird flu have been reported? Tim Fisher, and Englishman based here in Manila and an avid bird-watcher in Candaba has a simple answer – the Philippines is too far from affected countries and if a bird has the flu, it may be too weak to fly for several days non-stop.

But then, not that I want to spoil the fun in Candaba, but what if a bird is just a carrier of the H5N1 strain and is asymptomatic, meaning it is healthy but has the virus in its system? Would it be possible for a bird to survive traveling for days from say, China to the Philippines, and then infect healthy ones as soon as they land in the country?

I was told by Health Department Spokesperson Dr. Luningning Villa that a person may be a carrier of a certain disease but he may not be symptomatic. Simply put, one may actually be healthy but deadly viri or bacteria may just be sleeping inside his body. This was the answer of Dr. Villa when I asked her on where the 3-year old boy in Quezon City suspected of succumbing to meningococcemia could have gotten the disease from. Apparently, the boy is the only probable case of meningo in the area and there is nobody else sick of meningo from whom he could have contracted the disease. But Dr. Villa says the boy may have possibly been infected by an asymptomatic carrier of the disease.

By the way, speaking of meningo here, if someone is suspected of being infected with meningococcemia, please do not ostracize that person or his family. I pity the family of that boy in Quezon City because they were forced to lock themselves up in their house for five days. Unlike bird flu, meningococcemia is not an airborne disease. Just be sure not to have direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids such as saliva or blood.

Back to bird flu, the good news is so far the Philippines remains unaffected. Thus it is safe to drive all the way to Candaba because local authorities say it is highly unlikely that the avian flu will find its way to their town. The birds which arrived late last year will leave around February to March.

And by the way, don’t forget to bring a telescope to have a clearer picture of the birds. Posted by Picasa

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