Alternative Pastime for Your Ears

Are you tired of listening to the same playlist in your media player? Watched the same music videos in Youtube? If music starts to be deafening, you can have this as an alternative pastime for your ears.

In my quiet moments, I browse videos of TEDx. For those of you who don’t know, “TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. ” It carries a tagline  ” ideas worth sharing.”

I enjoy listening to speeches that are well crafted.  After all,  I finished a degree in Speech Communication. But I must admit that I have short attention span. Sometimes, I end up daydreaming after listening the first five minutes of   a lecture, a sermon, and a group discussion.  Well, listening to TEDx speeches is different. They are easy on the ears, that you forget you spent nine minutes listening. You can do it while working and browsing in the internet. Here are some of my favorites.

Craig Walzer – Artful Lies and Shelves of Fiction

On one vacation in Santorin, Greece, two American boys  looked for a bookshop but could not find one. This sprout the idea of building a bookshop.  After Craig graduated, he went back to Greece and  built a bookshop where people can read, tell stories, and make bonfires in the evening.

Cameron Russell –  Image is powerful

I admired this woman for being brutally honest about the modeling industry.  Her talk in TEDx has become viral and controversial. There are a lot of negative comments but I bet they don’t get her point. She does not sugarcoat, like showbiz people do.  She said: ” The real way that I became a model is that I won a genetic lottery, and I am the recipient of a legacy. What do I mean by legacy? Well, for the past few centuries we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we’re biologically programmed to admire, but also as tall, slender figures, and femininity and white skin. And this is a legacy that was built for me, and it’s a legacy that I’ve been cashing in on.”

Jarrett J. Krosoczka – How a boy became an artist

He is an illustrator and writer of children’s books. He has sense of humor and overflowing passion. This video brings me smiles.

Sabsy Ongkiko: Our Return of Investment

In the Philippines, my favorite TED talk is a speech of a public school teacher. She graduated in one of top universities in the Philippines. In spite of having outstanding credentials, she preferred to work as a  public school teacher. She is very inspiring. I was in tears while listening to her speech.  I know there are a lot of young leaders who want to make a difference  in the country but she is different from the rest.   Some do good and some fight for a cause because in return they will get merit and credit for what they do. On the other hand, this woman is  a genuine modern day hero. You can tell through her speech that she gives her service not for self-fulfillment sake.

Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter

Sarah Kay is a spoken word poet. She is a captivating speaker. I recommend not only her TEDx video but all her videos. You will cling to every word she says.

“It’s not that I think that spoken word poetry is the ideal art form. I’m always trying to find the best way to tell each story. I write musicals; I make short films alongside my poems. But I teach spoken word poetry because it’s accessible. Not everyone can read music or owns a camera, but everyone can communicate in some way, and everyone has stories that the rest of us can learn from. Plus, spoken word poetry allows for immediate connections. It’s not uncommon for people to feel like they’re alone or that nobody understands them, but spoken word teaches that if you have the ability to express yourself and the courage to present those stories and opinions, you could be rewarded with a room full of your peers, or your community, who will listen. “

I hope you get to watch these videos. I’m sure you’ll find far more interesting videos from TEDx. It’s a treasure box of ideas.

My Uncle Sam

Sometimes sorrow teaches us the best things in life and brings out the best in us. My most viewed blog post is a piece written for my Uncle Sam (also found in a community blog, Last weekend, we went to San Felipe, a small town in Cotobato to have a reunion and to remember Uncle Sam’s death anniversary. In memory of my Uncle’s Sam, here’s an article by a local writer in Union County Advocate. To have a better look, click the scanned photos.


“Cancer is a Friendly Disease”

Lina Bernardo lost a husband, companion, friend, lover, and husband two years ago. Christmas Eve would not be the same again for December 24 was the date Lina Belo became Mrs. Bernardo. The last thing Mar gave to his wife was a card and a dinner in their favorite restaurant.

“Friend mo siya forever, kahit sa pamilya niya. Lagi siyang nakikinig. Kahit kasalanan ko, ako pa rin yung bida. Approachable siya. You can tell any problem,” said Lina as she retrieved memories of her husband.

During the first few months after Mar’s death, she struggled over loneliness. She had to deal the realities of widowhood. She missed those days when she had Mar to accompany her in grocery store. She missed those moments when they watched movies together and she missed those days when they worshiped together in Samar where they first met and fell in love.

Lina, now, can smile and talk at ease about her husband’s death but she has gone through a lot of pain before she can be in her current state.

Two months fighting cancer was like a decade battle. Before Mar was diagnosed with colon cancer, he had been suffering dizziness and high blood pressure. They did not know it would soon lead to his death. Even if she knew how chronic her husband’s condition, she did not give up. When Mar was hospitalized, she drank coffee like water. She witnessed how hard for Mar to sleep. As she saw her husband’s body deteriorating, she became more fearful.

She was in teary eyes as she described how grateful she was to her friends and loved ones in the church. She regained her strength when the members would visit and sing with her and her husband. They cried with her. Empathy from others was her best comfort.

In Pangasinan, she said to her husband for 29 years, “Mar, huwag ka munang mamatay, i-survive mo muna yung sarili mo.” Upon hearing, he held her hand. One week after, he died.

Looking back, she said, “Cancer is a friendly disease.” It gave an opportunity for Mar to be cared for and to be loved by those who are special to him. The illness that scared a lot of people brought her some life lessons. “I become closer to God, “ she said.

From there, she learned how precious life is. “Everyday sinasabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘I choose to be happy’. Ni-rerecite ko sa sarili: ‘Life is precious. Life is good.’ This is how she recovered. Since then, she treasured life by learning to forgive and eliminating stress and negative thoughts.

She added, “I ty to philosophize that ( it is also positive): I’m free to do what I want. I can go anywhere. I am not trying to please anyone.” She opened herself to more people by sharing her experience.

She learned to appreciate life as well as death. Family and friends gave her books to comfort. She read A Glimpse of Eternity which taught her death is beautiful. It helped her feel better thinking that “masarap ang mamatay.”

My aunt and yours truly

Dear John

Dedicated this post to a friend who celebrated his birthday last July  …  Better late than never….

Photo by Kim Pauig

“Boyfriend mo?”

This is the nth time someone asked me this question. I often hear this question when I post photos with John, ride a cab with John, go out with John. And I find this question funny. When I visited his home for his graduation celebration, some of his relatives asked, “Girlfriend mo? “ And on my graduation day, he invited himself to be one of my guests. The following Sunday, my aunt asked, “Boyfriend mo?” I reply with a smile. I sometimes, answer “yes.” (haha!) For one reason, I think it’s a compliment (Though I don’t really think it’s a compliment for John that people think I’m his girlfriend haha!). He’s tall and tisoy so why not? I once accompanied John in one of the school offices and the lady who was fixing some papers we needed said, “Ang gwapo gwapo mo!” To come to think of it, I wish my future boyfriend to be someone like John, except that I don’t want him to copy the way John smiles and the way John talks. And so whoever will be, might be, or just be imaginary, set John as your example.

He is willing to bring me in places I have not been like Quiapo, Luneta Park, and Museo Pambata. We dine at places I like to eat where I can order cake, instant pansit canton, isaw, and bottomless iced tea. He watched my performances and witnessed the special events of my life (including my super cramming moments with my thesis and other unlucky days). He edits and simplifies my work ( invitation letters, letters of request for Journalism club). Of all the things I don’t want to do with a friend is to shop a new pair of shoes. I have unique feet that I have to spend the entire day just to find one that will fit my feet. But John never complained how long he had to wait.

He shares simple joys with me such as having long walks in UP and talking about people (It’s not gossip. I call it ‘News Feature.’), and having an animal ride in SM food court (the one that looks like a large stuff toy that kids ride on.)

He rescues me when I’m in trouble or when I need to escape boredom. He makes himself available and that’s why I like most about John. He is there when you need a last-minute help.

At the end of day, I just want to be with someone whom I don’t need to pretend and whom I can have long talks. And that person is you, John 🙂

My Dream Wedding

papI hate marriage but I like weddings. My dream wedding is nothing fancy. It does not have to be as grand as a royal wedding. I don’t need a long list of entourage. The images come to my mind: there are two men waiting for me to walk down the aisle. Then I exchange vows with the man I love in front of another man who loves me too—- my dad. I imagine it to be a movie scene from a  A Walk to Remember. Jamie’s dad officiates his daughter’s weddings. My dad is a church minister. Before I was born, my dad had solemnized a number of weddings.

I don’t know if my dream wedding will come true. Aside from the fact that I am a candidate for Ms. Old Maid,  I am giving my dad stress and headache to prepare for the ceremony. My dad has been making wedding bloopers lately. He switched the bride’s name and the groom’s name while he asked them to speak their vows. One day, the guests whose tears were about to fall, broke into laughter when they heard my dad replaced the bride’s name with her dad’s name. So I now have a hint what it would be like if dad would officiate my wedding. He will say, “Dolly, do you take this man to be your lawful wedded husband?” Oops, that’s my sister’s name!

My dad is 73 years old. He survived two strokes which led him to some memory gap. My dad drove my mom to the market. A few minutes later, he was at home. He forgot his wife at the market. One afternoon, we looked for dad all over the mall. Then, my sister found him outside  the mall waiting for us. He got confused and forgot where our meeting place was.

The best thing about my dad’s old age is that he becomes overly sentimental. Now, I understand the comparison between men and wine (I don’t drink. So I can’t tell). They get better as the years go by. On one of my mom’s birthdays, he woke up early morning and picked roses on the hill tops. Then on mother’s day, my dad made a letter for mom and he put it on frame. He wrote: “After crossing the Bible average of 70, and having survived two strokes, I want to let you know that you are the best girlfriend I ever had, the best wife one can ever have….You are a rare combination of Beauty, Brain and Character no man on earth can ask for more.”

My dad is probably one of the most updated senior citizens. He knows how to email and he has a Facebook account . My dad is the eldest among his siblings yet he is often mistaken as the youngest. And he seems to pass the gene of youthful beauty to me. In the securlar-corporate world, he should be enjoying his retirement but he works what he loves to do and what God wants him to do.

There are times when  I do not want to disclose details of my dad’s occupation. I’m not just comfortable  with some people’s curious reaction, “so-your-dad-preaches-for-a-living?” Sometimes, people don’t realize that  we do what we do only for love’s sake, and not for a living.

My dad has never been rich and has never dreamed of becoming rich. He has no interest for material wealth. I have never received gifts from my dad since the day I was born. He has never bought his own car nor a house because he believes it is luxury to invest on earthly treasures when we can not bring them to Heaven. My dad drives a second-hand vehicle, handed by my sister and brother-in-law. Thanks to my other sister, my parents now  have a house, small enough to bind us tighter during reunions.

Up to this day,  my dad continues to  teach the gospel. But beyond scriptures and biblical facts, my dad knows a lot of things. In fact, my dad was my first encyclopedia. He could answer all the questions I  had as a child (no matter how absurd and nonsensical my questions were).

We have the talent of sleeping. We can sleep anywhere anytime

My dad also has some fondness for words. He used to court my mom with love letters. He liked to make thank-you letters and all kinds of letters. He visits the post office regularly  in spite of  the availability of the internet. When my English teacher gave  homework, to read some poems and short stories, I asked help from my dad. And whenever I did, I excelled. Partly, it was because of his US education in Abilene Christian University where he studied in Bachelor of Arts in Bible, minor in English. This explains why I have an ancient copy of the complete works of Shakespeare.  I’d like to believe his mastery for language has nothing to do with his education but with his genes. In some way, his ability to put words together inspire me to be a communicator.

I believe my dad’s talent could have made him a professor, a lawyer, a rich salesman, a government official, a barangay chairman,  a journalist, and so many more but he only has small dreams. He has dreams but by our usual standards, his dreams become less significant. He dreams that he can bring more people closer to God.

I dream small too. I dream that one day I’ll march down the aisle and say, “I do” in front of my dad carrying  a  Bible. If not, I will pursue my other dream: to keep my father’s name forever…….. in my heart..

Nobody Can Put a Good Talent Down

Because I have  no time to write something new for my blog, I’ll just post some old files from my archive.  I wrote this when I was working as a personal assistant of an entertainment writer, probably four years ago.

Photo from Giselle Sanchez Fan Page

The world could have been a happier place if everybody were like Giselle Sanchez. She has made a thousand people laugh across the across the country and across the globe. She just arrived in the country after having six shows in Dubai and had been to  Ireland, Milan, Barcelona, and Beijing this year. She has spread laughter all over the world.

At the age of three, her fate as a comedienne has already been foreseen. She said she would never go to sleep without making someone smile. As a child, she would ask everyday if she had made someone smile. And now, she sleeps with great contentment thinking she has made a thousand people laugh.

But her life as a comedienne is not as easy as how she appears on stage. In her 16 years of show business, there have been many attempts to pull her down. A beverage company hired her regularly. On a national sales convention, she made a very naughty joke. She got banned from the beverage company and advertising agency on her second year in show business. “That was the lowest point of my life. I thought I’m never gonna make it as a comedienne,”she recalled. Nevertheless, the company got her again ten years later. But now she takes extra caution. “I’ve learned my lesson the hard way,” she said.

And while she was starting to make a name in the industry, some people in show business tried to pull her down. An actress saw her as an extra on her TV show and asked, “What are you doing here?” She was surprised at the sarcastic remark of the actress because they studied in the same school in high school, Poveda Learning Center where Giselle graduated second honors. But as time passed by, she became proud of her.

On one incident, a well-established comedienne was laughing with her director. “Medyo baduy ang clothes ko,” she said because she was a beginner and could not afford to buy enough clothes. She mocked at her not-well-color-coordinated outfit and even said that Giselle did not have the talent.

Also, a member of the press was very mean to her to the extent that she wanted to file a libel suit. Eventually, her lawyer advised her not to do so. “I just learn to forgive.” After ten years, he became her co-host. He even asked her to be part of the show. Giselle was thankful that she did not file the libel suit. She learned that the only thing she can do with press people whether they like her or not is to make friends with them.

Not only that, she gets negative feedback from extremely conservative audience. “I will just pray for your soul,” a chief finance officer said. The whole group gave her standing ovation except her. She did not even clap. And then she found out that the woman was a Christian. “Mabuhay ang katolikong relihiyon,” she exclaimed. She is happy at the thought that her religion is receptive to the kind of show she performs.

The worst rebuke she ever got was from an elder in a big Christian group. Giselle is active in discipleship ministry. “She said that I have no right to be in the discipleship ministry. I have no right because I perform in places of hell, in the places of the devil because I’m naughty, I entice people to commit sin,”said Giselle with her huge laugh. But whatever image she projects in live shows, she has the desire to serve God. She belongs to a catholic charismatic group, Oasis of Love. “That’s why I love Oasis of love, because they understand. Most of the members of the group are actors and actresses and they know the difference between acting and art versus the real service to God. ”

Giselle is lucky that she has a husband who supports and loves her work. When asked how her husband manages sexual jokes, she replied, “He loved it. he’s probably the most confident guy and very secured.” She added, “The nice part is also his parents, when the whole family watches the show, I can really sit down in man’s lap and openly flirt with male audience because they know it’s not me, it’s my show”

Given with all the best and the worst circumstances, she continues to find comfort in making other people laugh. On her nine month of pregnancy, she slipped on stage when she was about to have a duet with Jose Marie Chan. Thank heavens, Jose Marie Chan caught her. “You just saved my baby.” And she was also flying on stage at her concert during her 8th month of pregnancy. Despite the danger of performing during pregnancy, she never turns her shows down.

In her sixteen years in show business, she has learned some tips to her success. “ Not to burn bridges and respect your seniors even if the seniors are trying to put you down. You still have to respect them,” she said. Looking back, she is grateful of having Tesi Tomas and John Santos, and Maya as her friends.They have helped her become Giselle Sanchez.

Her rewards as a popular host and comedienne is a reminder that nobody can put a good talent down. And no one can put Giselle Sanchez down.

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