muchas gracias & vaya con Dios, Sr Gabriel Garcia Marquez!

goodbye and thank you from all of us!

goodbye and thank you from all of us!

CHRONICLE of a Death Foretold.  Love in The Time of Cholera.  The General in His Labyrinth.  And most endearing of all, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

If you need any proof at all that the mind is the infinite frontier, then you need only to read the novels and novelettes of Mr Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

One can’t comprehend the impact of his works on literature, and by osmosis, on the world.  It is both simple and complex.  Simple because of his gift of stringing a few words together, and complex because of the transcendent, uplifting nature of his stories.  Ironic, but it is hard to put into words.

Literally, his books are those things you can read again and again and again.  I only learned of his passing by chance from a Facebook post of a friend, Atty Lilibeth Cueva.  But the loss is incomprehensible.

If I may borrow from his words, written while considering his mortality, then we may sneak a peek into how philosophical he was before Death.  May we be as accepting of our own :

If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and
granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it
to the best of my ability.

I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my
mind, but I would be more thoughtful of all I say.

I would give merit to things not for what they are
worth, but for what they mean to express.

I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I
know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we
waste 60 seconds of light.

I would walk while others stop; I would awake while
others sleep.

If God would give me a little bit more of life, I
would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself
in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my
soul naked at its mercy.

To all men I would say how mistaken they are when they
think that they stop falling in love when they grow
old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop
falling in love.

I would give wings to children, but I would leave it
to them to learn how to
fly by themselves.

To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive
when they grow old, but
with forgetfulness.

I have learned so much with you all, I have learned
that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain,
without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the
journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the

I have learned that when a newborn baby holds, with
its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped
him for the rest of his life.

I have learned that a man has the right and obligation
to look down at another man, only when that man needs
help to get up from the ground.

Say always what you feel, not what you think. If I
knew that today is the last time that that I am going
to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my
strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the
guardian angel of your soul.

If I knew that these are the last moments to see you,
I would say “I love you”.

There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another
opportunity to do things right, but in case I am
wrong, and today is all that is left to me, I would
love to tell you how much I love you & that I will
never forget you.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old.
Today could be the last time to see your loved ones,
which is why you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case
tomorrow never arrives. I am sure you will be sorry
you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a
hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them
their last wish.

Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears
and to their faces how much you need them and love
them. Love them and treat them well; take your time to
tell them “I am sorry”;” forgive me”,” please” “thank
you”, and all those loving words you know.

Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the
Lord for wisdom and
strength to express them.

Show your friends and loved ones how important they
are to you.

Send this letter to those you love. If you don’t do it
today…tomorrow will be like yesterday, and if you
never do it, it doesn’t matter, either, the moment to
do it is now.

For you, With much love,
Your Friend,
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Please whisper a prayer on this good Good Friday for Senor Marquez, everyone!

3 cringe-worthy items of Pinoy reality that we think are secrets

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OF COURSE, I’m proud of my country.  And of course like any of you adobo-eating, TFC-watching and Arnel-Pineda/Charisse-listening faithful, you’d never deny the fact of your homeland, nationality and skin color, proud as you are of your lahing kayumanggi.  It’s just who you are.

Just the same, there are some things we’d rather keep among ourselves, fellow Pinoys (and spouses, you’re stuck for life I’m afraid).  Every country has its deep dark secrets that have been with us for generations and I’m wondering if you’ve been keeping this from friends from other countries.  If so, let me give you some sage advice.  They already know, or are already discovering our not-so-nice qualities.

But before that , some kind words.  Among all the big migrant groups in New Zealand, I daresay that our ethnic group is in the top three most popular, if not the most popular ethnic group or nationality.  I’ve wrung your ears out in posts past about the motley reasons, and I probably don’t need to enumerate them here but I’ll still give you a few : our famous trait of pakikisama (“getting along”), sturdy work ethic, more-or-less acceptable English, ability to laugh ourselves, etcetera etcetera.  You know the rest.

But this post isn’t for flattering you or me.  It’s one of those few times that we’re not positive and point out the negative in ourselves.  Here we go :

depressing regionalism. In a special “prayer for the faithful” portion during one Pinoy Mass I attended, each individual prayer was read in a different dialect, which Mahal discerned almost immediately because the first prayer was in her beloved Pangalatok.  I also heard my mom’s Bicolano and my fraternity brothers’ Ilokano and Bisaya, and the lasting impression I got was that our various sub-languages sound so different from each other.  This is the most visible indicator of our famous regionalism, which our history textbooks teach us was the main reason various colonizers were able to subjugate us with ease.

I never found out how true or factual this was and considering how long ago since our colonial times, we probably never will.  But to this day, each Pinoy knows how fragmented and disjointed we are, especially overseas.  I mean, wherever in the world, you will find Chinese Associations, Hindu groups, even various organizations representing different nationalities.  But we Pinoys just can’t be Pinoys.  We have Batangueno associations, Ilonggo associations, Pampango groups, as many groups as there are fruits in the Pinoy orchard.  I don’t know about you, but with so many provincial groups it certainly looks to the average non-Pinoy that our sense of national identity isn’t that well-developed.  In short, with kanya-kanya, tayo-tayo and sila-sila, how do we get anything done as a people?

superstitious. I have worked in Makati, the most modern city in the Philippines for around a decade, and often visited in it for years more.  Yet I have never, I mean never seen a building with a 13th floor.  I have attended many wakes and funerals in my time, also back home, and I have never seen a pregnant woman in attendance.  And there are so many superstitions associated with every facet of life, be it weddings, baptisms, funerals or even birthdays.

In many homes, You won’t see many mirrors facing each other, or beds facing doorways because according to the practice of feng shui, these invite bad luck or worse, death to the homeowner and his/her family.  Wow, that’s really tough for the designer.

Every culture has its own set of superstitions but because of the centuries old practices of Catholicism, rural beliefs and Chinese as well as other cultural influences, it’s a multi-dimensional tapestry of superstitions in the Philippines, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many there are.  Hard to believe, but we’re nearly past the first quarter of the 21st century, but many of us are controlled consciously, subconsciously or otherwise, by our superstitious beliefs.

We are held in Big Tobacco’s thrall.  First, a large part of the Northern Luzon region relies on tobacco, so it will always be part of our economy, fueling jobs and business from farmgate, to manufacturing all the way to the retail sari-sari store (and don’t forget downstream industries that benefit); you can’t imagine our country without it.  So much so that every branch of government is in the pocket of Big Tobacco, whether the latter needs billions in subsidy, billions in tax breaks, friendly regulation, or simply looking the other way when Tobacco does its own bit of subtle advertising.  In practical terms, cigarette companies can do anything they want in our country, and there is nothing we can do about it.  That is the biggest, ugliest and worst-kept secret in the Philippines.  Ultimately it’s not that surprising, since it surely is happening in other so-called “developing” countries, but the least we can do is be honest about it to our Kiwi (and other) friends.

There, I’ve said it.  There are many more cringe-worthy items about us that we’d rather not tell, but ultimately we should let others know for them to better understand us Pinoys as a people.  These are just the ones that came to mind, please give me a buzz and tell me if you’ve got any more.  Thanks for reading and mabuhay ang Pinoy!