Thursday, August 14, 2014

10 Ways to be Awesome

My friend Nicole tells me I have been nitpicking on Cosmopolitan Philippine's March 2014 issue, specifically its "10 ways to be awesome" article at the back. I argued that the list was really shallow, and she challenged me to come up with my own.

So I did.

But before we get to our list, let's take a look at that Cosmo list.


2. Throw a party. Make it the kind that people talk about for ages to come. 

3. Say "yes" when your first instinct is to say "no". You'll be shocked at how much more you'll see, feel, and experience just by saying the magic word. 

4. Be the girl who hits the dance floor and knows all the lyrics. 

5. Stop complaining about petty, boring stuff. 

6. Surround yourself with awesome people. Awesomeness breeds awesomeness.

7. Pat a dog. 

8. Give. It might be your money, your time, or your expertise. Whatever it is, you'll feel amazing.

9. Laugh loudly.

10. Stop caring what other people think of you. 

To be fair I think some of these items are good, but the people at Cosmo could have made a more profound list. Is it really wrong for me to expect deep stuff in a magazine that promotes cheap sex and vanity? 

Anyway, here's my own list. 10 Ways to be Awesome:

1. Love everyone, and make sure they know it. It's not enough for you to love people; they have to know and feel it. 

2. Perform your most ordinary tasks in an extraordinary fashion. If you want to be the best, make excellence your signature - even in simple, everyday tasks like chores. 

3. Expand your mind. Read books, watch documentaries, attend seminars, travel, listen to old folks. 

Would you travel in a bus full of Ethel Mermans?

4. Express yourself. Play a musical instrument. Paint. Draw. Sing. Dance. Write a book - or write an old-fashioned love letter, and snail mail it. 

                        Speaking of instruments. let the Epic Sax Guy serenade you. For 10 hours. 

5. Make kindness a part of your lifestyle. Remember "random acts of kindness?" Retain the kindness, but don't make it random. Make kindness second nature!

6. Quit whining and soldier on. Take up your cross, big or small, with a smile. That way, people will say "nothing ever ruffles him/her!" and will think of you as a very classy guy/gal. 

7. Pray. Go to mass. Read the Bible. Pray the rosary. Go to confession. More than that, bring friends along! 

8. Organize your friends and pay a visit to the sick kids and elderly in hospitals and care centers, or the guys in prison. Save some of your baon or sweldo and organize a feeding program in your community. Help those who cannot repay you. 

9. Tutor the young, especially if they're interested in what you're good at. You won't be fit and dandy forever, so make sure your basketball skills, or your business acumen, don't go to waste: teach a kid everything you know, and make him your apprentice. Make him promise that if he becomes good at it one day, he has to pay it forward and teach someone else. 

Some kids really yearn for a mentor. 

10. Make your life all about self-giving and sacrifice. Fight for what is good, and fight evil and injustice. As Sam says in Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers:  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions about the Philippine Population and its implications

1. We’re approaching 100 million! Is there reason to be scared?

Fear usually comes from misunderstanding the issue. No thanks to Thomas Malthus and Paul Ehrlich who both said that runaway population growth (to borrow the term from the media) will lead to widespread hunger, famine, and disease. Ehrlic said this will happen in the 70s. It did not happen. He said it will happen in the 80s. It did not happen. Today, the media, fueled by ignorance and denial of many people, still say that this will happen in the future, but by now we already know not to trust them.
photo courtesy of

2. How can you say that?! Do you think there will be enough food to feed everyone?

The World Food Programme lists several factors for the lack of food in certain places, and having too many people is not one of them. Here in our country, there are factors that affect food production, like the fact that our farmers lack the technology and the infrastructure required to grow more food. The key is to produce more food, not to curb population.

3. But curbing “runaway population growth” means less mouths to feed!

Yes, but these “mouths to feed” (a very insulting thing to say to PEOPLE by the way) also have two arms, two feet, a heart, and a brain that can be part of the workforce in the future, stabilizing our economy. 

courtesy of

4. But more people means a weaker economy!

Says who? There is no real evidence that supports the claim that population growth has jeopardized the economy. If anything, population growth has actually helped the economy of China, Singapore, and the Philippines, according to the study of Wong Hok Tsen and Fumitaka Furuoka entitled “The Relationship between Population and Economic Growth in Asian Economies”[1]. So clearly, if there’s a direction that our population must take, it has to increase, not decrease.

5. 100 Million! We’re going to be filling every island in the Philippines and get overcrowded!

No we won’t. Population isn’t just about the number of people; you have to factor in population growth rate, population density, and total fertility rate in as well. Our growth rate is around 1.7%[2], our population density is  330 people per square kilometers[3], and the average number of children every Filipina mother is having is just around 3.10, which is way down from an average of 7.15 in 1960[4]. It is very easy to make the mistake of saying that the Philippines is overpopulated just because Metro Manila is congested. The National Statistical Coordination Board of the Philippines says: With a land area of only 619.5 square kilometers and a population of 11,553,427, Metro Manila has a population density of 18,650 persons per square kilometer in 2007[5].

courtesy of

7. What needs to be done then?

Our government needs to curb corruption, not the population! Esteemed economist Dr. Bernardo Villegas explains the problem succinctly: “P400 billion is yearly lost to corruption: P200 billion lost in tax evasion and another P200 billion lost in government resources used unproductively.”[6] And this statement was made prior to the PDAF scandal!

It makes much, much more sense to invest in the population than to curb it. While a lot of countries like Japan and Singapore, and many of the European countries like France, Italy, Spain, and Russia are very worried about their aging and dwindling population, to the point that they had to come up with so many creative ways to get couples to procreate, the media, the government, and a lot of sectors are passing around ignorance by emphasizing on curbing our population.

Let us invest on education, skills training, and the creation of businesses that will employ more people rather than focusing our energies on slowing our population growth.

[1] Wong Hok Tsen, Fumitaka Furuoka, The Relationship between Population and Economic Growth in Asian Economies,

[5] National Statistical Coordination Board,

[6] Cunan, Bel Political Tidbits,

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

10 Non-Violent Ways Fratmen Could Prove Their Initiates' Manhood

Fraternity hazing has claimed yet another victim. Guillo Cesar Servando was mercilessly beaten until he succumbed to his injuries. Before his death, Servando was just another boy seeking companionship, acceptance, and self-worth; his demise, however, has proven that the so-called fraternity brothers who were responsible for his hazing did not have the slightest regard for his life or well-being. Neither were they interested in providing him true companionship. 

One would think that in this modern world, fraternities and groups would be more civilized in proving the manhood, or in general, the worthiness of their initiates. The barbaric and idiotic initiation rites of these groups reveal the true barbaric and idiotic nature of its leaders and members. Paddling them to near death, asking them to spell their fraternity's name and their founding fathers, does little to reveal anything about their initiates. 

These groups seem to lack the creativity necessary to come up with a better screening process and initiation rites to prove the newbies' mettle. I therefore humbly put forward some suggestions:

1. Visit the prisoners in jail, and spend some time with them. 

2. Be the perfect gentlemen. Open the door for ladies, give up seats for them, treat them like princesses., and uphold the true dignity of women by boycotting everything pornographic. 

3. Spend some time inside the home for the elderly. Make lolo and lola happy that day

4. Send their mothers on a day off. Initiates should do all the housework for that day. 

5. Organize a fun, special day for kids with physical and mental disabilities. 

6. Serenade their teachers. 

7. Maintain above average grades.

8. Organize a regular feeding program for the poor. 

9. Keep their bodies strong and healthy. 

10. Help promote and spread Filipino Culture. 

I believe these are ten simple suggestions that will test the character and virtue of initiates wishing to be granted membership to the various fraternities. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

But I love this country!

This is my response to that commentary in PDI, which by now a lot have already read and commented to.

I spent the last 4 years of my life working for the Pro-Life advocacy. What we do is to defend the most basic foundations of this society: life, marriage, and family. In a nutshell, we are ensuring the future of our children - even the children of those who do not believe in our cause - that they may be born into a country where life is protected, the sacredness of a marriage between one man and one woman is upheld, and the bond of the family is strengthened. After all, a country whose citizens are upright is a country of progress. And upright citizens come from families where they learned values and virtue.

For doing what we do, we are branded as hypocrites, bigots, haters, religious zealots, fanatics, medieval, backward-thinking, people from the dark ages, crazies, "Catholibans" (Catholic Talibans), homophobic, unchristian, "bobo", idiot, "tanga" etc. In fact, pro-lifers hold the unofficial record of being the recipient of so many derogatory terms in one lifetime.

Do we mind being called such mean names? Most of the time, we don't even care if they call us such, because we love this country so much. The hate comes with the job. And the job calls us to love our country

I love this country! This is where I was born. I love the fact that this country is a beautiful land filled with beautiful people.

I love it that we are a race of world-class workers. The Philippines cannot conquer the world, but Filipinos can.

Of all the countries in Asia and in the Pacific, this is where God chose to plant the seed of the Catholic faith so many centuries ago when Magellan accidentally discovered our islands.

This is the country that our heroes and patriots shed their blood for. I want to do the same. Our heroes believed in this country; they did not die just for us to hate the very country they died for.

I do not hate this country, even though it has given me every reason to do so.

Given, this country ain't perfect. The traffic situation is just impossible, the politicians are crooked, the people can get greedy too, sometimes. Every election, provided the elections weren't rigged to begin with, people vote for the same scumbags that screw them over a thousand times, and the ones who run are only those who can afford the expense of running for public office; in short, more scumbags.

But I still love this country. I would like to see the day when the upright and the wise do stay in this country and run this country with a vision for the common good. For the mean time, hoping against hope, I continue to spread the Pro-Life message, because I believe it is the way to building this nation from the ground up.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Catholic Way of Eating at Buffet Restaurants

Hello! After several months of being away from this blog, I am back. Honestly, my absence was a combination of a lot of things: a severe case of writer’s block, getting so busy because of the RH battles, then starting a new life all over again with my transfer of residence. But now I am back, all refreshed, and this time I will stay true to my “quirky” nature by writing about stuff that matters while staying away from the serious tone I used writing about two of my pet peeves: the RH law, and liturgical abuse. I continue to be pro-life although I will write less about RH, and you guys will be happy to know that there are people taking steps to work around the law so we could still promote the culture of life despite RH still being a law.

As for talking about liturgical abuses, I feel it’s a lost cause, because so many people have so many different ideas on the liturgy, and to make matters worse, many of them are priests. Besides, the bishops don’t seem to prioritize the prevention of liturgical abuse anyway, so let’s pick our battles and focus on what we can change for now.

 I would like to finally delve on a sensitive subject that I have been putting off for the longest time, and it’s all about buffets. Yes, everyone who loves to eat loves buffets. Some of us have become buffet aficionados, with extensive knowledge about the best restaurants and buffets in town at the most affordable price. This is why I now write about this very profound and timely topic of “The Catholic Way of Eating at Buffet Restaurants."

 I know one or two very strict Catholics out there who are opposed to the very idea of dining at a place of excess.  They are the kind who think that our present woes are enough to discourage anyone from going to buffets. Luckily, I am one of those who  think that buffets are a manifestation of God’s bountiful blessings, and a place where we can practice Christian charity and responsibility. Here's how: 


I know you’re going to say your obligatory “Bless us O Lord” before chowing down, but before that, I would like you to be very aware that without God, it wouldn't have been possible for you to experience this feast. That explosion of flavors in your mouth is a testament to God’s greatness. Don’t forget to thank the chefs too. Overworked chefs are some of the unappreciated people, so give them a compliment or two.


Just because you can get the last few pieces of tempura doesn't mean you should. Buffets are perfect opportunities to show that you are a man/woman who is beyond his or her appetites. If you find yourself in an awkward situation when it’s your turn on the serving tray with a few morsels of food remaining and someone still hoping against hope that you could spare some more for him, do it. It’s good to share not only food but good will around. The servers will refill the tray anyway, and waiting a couple of minutes isn't so bad – which means you have practiced two virtues in one dinner: generosity and patience.


I come from a big family composed of big family members. During family reunions, we invade the nearest buffet restaurant and engorge ourselves silly from lunch until snack time. We considered ourselves “professional buffet diners” and we always had a game plan going into the restaurant: we will ask to be seated near the door of the kitchen where they take out the food, and one of us will be the designated “spotter” who will keep us updated if the chili crabs have been brought out. Once the spotter has given the signal, two or three big guys stand up with their plates and pretend to wait in front of the area where the crabs are. They’re actually “blockers” who block out other people from even approaching the buffet table, while a “picker” is doing the dirty job of getting the food, unopposed. Plan B, some of the blockers are also pickers.

If you have plans similar to this, or if you have to resort to these kinds of shenanigans, you’re overdoing it, and it’s probably not going to win you heaven points either. Gluttony is a capital sin after all, and St. Peter is not amused.


Just because God allows feasts like this to happen, doesn't mean there are less people in Tacloban and in other parts of the country who are still hungry and in need of your help. A great way of nourishing both body and soul is to do your corporal works of mercy before AND after your buffet meal. Visit an orphanage, or an institution for the aged; feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty; find some shelter for the homeless, visit the sick, or bury the dead. Make sure you have done one or two of these before heading out to the buffet table, and you will have peace in your heart. Go the extra mile and do it again after your buffet lunch or dinner.

Bon Appetit! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When the RH Law is Just a Symptom of a Bigger Problem

This was in the news about a month ago:

MANILA, February 13, 2014 – In an ambush interview after the Tapatan sa Aristocrat Media Forum held every Monday at the historic Aristocrat Restaurant. Dr. Ruben Siapno, M.D. assistant regional director for the NCR of the Department of Health said that the department ‘will still provide family planning services’ even if the Supreme Court will declare the RH Law unconstitutional.

Siapno admitted that even without the RH Law, certain provisions of the RH law can still be implemented especially the need for Maternal Health services such as family planning pills and devices.

He however quickly revealed when asked of the difference of having and RH law and without it as, “funding.”

Siapno added, “We currently have limitations. We can only provide for the maternal needs of women but with the RH Law we can prepare even the children. It is important that children be ready in case and be aware what to do.”

Early last year, the Commission on Audit (COA) in its 2011 annual audit report of the DOH uncovered over P500 million in fund irregularities from medicine procurement, hospital, medical, various goods and services.

During the debates of the RH bill senator Pia Cayetano sponsor of the bill admitted during interpellations on Senate Bill 2865 that the Department of Health (DOH) had asked for P13.7 billion to implement the RH bill for the year 2012 alone – an amount bigger than the individual budgets of the departments of energy, finance, foreign affairs, justice, labor, science, tourism, and trade. –

Siapno admitted that even without the RH Law, certain provisions of the RH law can still be implemented
especially the need for Maternal Health services such as family planning pills and devices.
The logical reaction here would be to say that RH is moot. The government is going to go with it anyway, so why enforce a law that is divisive? The RH camp has gone so brazen anyway to show commercials on condoms, pills, and injectibles even as RH is in the limbo of the Supreme Court. They’re going to implement RH services with or without the RH law, therefore there is no need for it, and no need to use taxpayers’ money for contraception.

However, it would not be correct for us to assume that this means the Supreme Court will rule in our favor next month, nor is it right for us to disregard RH and its effects. One of the first things Michael Voris of told us when he arrived here last month for a series of talks was a very sobering statistic: according to the group, who made a survey on Catholics around the world, 68% of Filipino Catholics disagree with the Church on Her teachings about contraception.

That’s close to 3/4 of Catholics here in our country! What has happened?

What do you mean "Bahala na si Batman?"
We were having dinner one night with a doctor active in the pro-life advocacy, and she told us about her experience in giving a pro-life talk to an all-girls school. She was floored by the questions they asked her in the open forum. Questions such as: “Is it bad for us to have sex? and “are you stopping us from having sex?”

Naturally, she asked the religion teacher why the girls seem to not comprehend basic notions of chastity and modesty. The simple reply was: “we don’t teach doctrines and catechism any more. Everything is “experiential “ (where they apparently share stories and experiences in class without the catechism or the scriptures guiding these children).

Our doctor adds: “one of the girls got pregnant and she didn’t know who the father was. Apparently the kids experimented on sex one night during a very sexual game in a slumber party they attended. The girls were blindfolded and they had to guess who among the guys had sex with them.”

Shocking as it may sound, these activities seem like everyday stuff to many of our younger generation. We have to understand now that there is a bigger problem that lies ahead of us even if RH does not pass in the Supreme Court.

Even without the RH law, we now have a society whose foundations have been disintegrating beneath us; lives have been cheapened, exploited and destroyed; our families are broken, our schools are no longer teaching the authentic teaching of the Church; our children are having sex and using contraception at an earlier age, and marriage between one man and one woman is in danger because of the threat of same-sex marriage.

The RH law is just the final nail in the coffin.

There are lots of reasons why these problems are upon us. It all boils down to the failure of teaching the faith.

We have a lot of work to do in order to reverse this trend. We have to spread the Gospel of Life one person, one family, one group, one parish, one school, and one institution at a time. There really is no other way than to strengthen our foundations, and there is no other choice but to raise our children along the path to holiness.

We have to do something now. Not next month, not next week, not later. Now. Starting with our own homes and our own families. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Michael Voris and His Conversion Story

Michael Voris of Churchmilitant.TV is a staunch and vocal defender of the faith. We know him as a zealous and tireless son of the Church, but until yesterday, we didn’t know what his story was. We, along with the young audience of Don Bosco in Mandaluyong, were privileged to have heard from him his own story of conversion – from sin, to repentance, and finally preaching God’s word.

Michael during his younger days reminds
me a little bit of Brad Pitt and Robert Redford

 "I was working in media back then, and I was living in sin. My mother spent 15 years praying to God for me and my brother's souls, and I would later learn that it came to a point that she prayed: Lord, do whatever it takes for them to repent.

Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with cancer in the stomach. Every night, she would wake up in agonizing pain, which she describes as a thousand pieces of broken glass churning in her stomach. 

I asked my mother and father to move in with me from New York to Detroit so I can help take care of her. Later, my brother, who was in Texas, died of a heart attack. It was totally unexpected; he was very healthy, looked 20 years younger than his age, swam more than a mile everyday in the gulf. And yet he died. So when I got there, i was holding my brother Marshall's body, and I called my mom. I said, mom, I am here with Marshall, do you want me to say anything to him?

My mother told me: yes, please tell him I love him so much, and we will see each other very soon.

It was at that point that I realized how much of a mess I made with my life, and how I should be changing from now on. Holding my dead brother, talking to my dying mother- it all made sense to me now, that everything I was taught as a child was true, but I just didn't listen or pay any attention to the truth about our faith. 

Some months later, my mom died. As I was about to close the lid of the casket, I said my final goodbye; I put my hand on top of where my mother's womb was, and I promised her: This is it, mom. I will be a changed man, from now on. You gave your life for me, and your pain and suffering will NOT be in vain.

Some weeks later, I went to our parish, knelt before the statue of our lady, and said: My chastity is yours. I will live my life spreading the truth and beauty of our Catholic faith. And the rest is history.

There never was a day that went by that I didn't pray to my mom and thanked her for all her sacrifices."