Wednesday, 15 July 2009

16 July 1990 - With Profound Thoughts and Remembrance

...Miles away from our beloved city and region... and upon th grounds where we now stand on our adopted places under the sun....


19 years past, at approximately 16:26hrs, the City of Baguio was rocked by one of the strongest earthquake. According to media reports at that time, the earthquake has a magnitude of 7.6 in the Richter Scale. The magnitude of this strong earthquake were also felt in some parts of the Cordillera Region, Central and Northwestern Luzon.

It was recorded as probably one of the strongest earthquake in recent times that claimed so many lives and destroyed so many properties. Today, it appears that only very few still remember that fatal day. I join those people who remember that day and pray that majority of us will always be prepared for similar disasters whether natural or manmade.

I still have a vivid memory of that fatal day when there were chaos and disaster! People were running around and some, aimlessly... just running around confused and anxious about their loved ones. Some people are crying, whilst other people just want to be home safely whilst quietly pondering of what must be the meaning of what is unfolding rapidly before their eyes!

For some, it was a moment of truth when one's life's destiny appears to be at hand. The aftershocks that consistently followed has aggravated the fear for one's life and of others. They seem to be more dreadful than the earthquake itself because they reminded us of how vulnerable we are and challenge our capability to cope during such disasters brought about by nature.

Now, almost two dacades past, the city of Baguio has come back to life and as vibrant as ever before. I continue to wonder, does anyone remember that day in the history of the city? Have we all learned our lessons and more prepared this time

For those who still remember... remember that we care and remember.

Monday, 1 December 2008


Fathering as in Mothering

The sudden change in the weather temperature today has made me reflect on the issue about Fathering. This sudden change on the climate seems to have suggested for me to reflect on the issue about Fathering. Fathering as opposed to mothering is that grey area in terms of the general agenda on parenting and the whole concept of family life. For example, the only attributed role to fathers is that of bread winners of the family. Their skills and direct participations in child care and nurture seems to be ouwitted by the conservative view on parenting. It appears as though parenting is exlusively reserved only to mothers who seem to be doing a lot of the nurture and care of young ones. This might be culturally true in the distant past, but now, especially to migrant workers like me who has no immediate family relatives to help has totally changed the whole concept of parenting.

There appears to be a great difference on the conservative understanding about parenting in the past as it is at this present generation. It may slightly vary on the different cultures around the world but still generally I think parenting now-a-days is an equal job shared by both parents or guardians.

Fathering as a Migrant Worker

Parenting in distant lands miles away from one's own homeland is all the more difficult especially when both parents have their own jobs. The struggle to raise one's own family without the guidance and help of other extended families is an uphill struggle! I was a little bit luckier when my mother-in-law came to stay with us to help look after our second baby whilst I have to go to pursue my University studies. But that itself was shortlived as she can not stay in this country beyond the limit in her visa. So that means we re back to square one again. Maintaining my job on weekends, attending University lectures and the various placements in different environments and hospitals and the seemingly endless time spent in writing essays every after six weeks were almost nightmare to me as a mature student. I then managed to graduate from the university after three long years and arduous sacrifices. I am now qualified to do the job after my University studies. Even now, I can not say that I am totally settled immediately after attending University studies. The reason why I mentioned my University studies here is because it is directly linked to fathering! As a father I need to prepare the way to a firm and bright future for the whole family. To me finishing a three year diploma course in Mental Health Nursing on top of my other qualifications would mean a better chance of securing the job I want whilst building a stable family income required in order to meet the demands of economic and financial stability.

Fathering is a 24/7 task

Going back to fathering as an Igorot migrant worker is challenging yet rewarding. From the constant visit to clinics and hospitals, the birth of a child and the nurture and care of infants until they grow up, require the ever presence of a father. During those years and up until today, as a father I have to struggle with my employer to work permanently on night duty and if possible some set nights in order that I can work back to back with my wife who works permanently on days. I can say we are a bit luckier to have this situation because through this, I as the father goes to work at night so I can look after the kids during the day time even after coming from night duties. It appears as though it is a round-the-clock job and non-stop duty! This I do only to fit in with our situation as migrant workers. Our hard earned income are directly spent to mortgages, and other family needs. Our first four years in this country was without recourse to public funds which means no state aid yet we have to pay high income taxes to the government. Actually, there is hardly a penny left after working hard through those years. Yet we have to deal with this situation. Now that we are entitled with state aid in the form of child benefits seems no difference at all. Still, life must go on.

Fathering - a vital contribution to family life

Up until today, fathering should also be equally recognised as a vital contribution to family life. Fathers should not be treated as second only to mothers when it comes to child care. This generation has also produced some fathers who proudly push baby prams on the streets. I also noticed that many fathers now send their chilren to school and collect them after school days. There are more and more fathers who share the household chores now. All that this generation should do is to be fair with fathers and recognise their valuable contributions to family life and not to be treated as second only to mothers in child care and nurture.

Behold the fathers!

I wish there will come a time when fathers will also be counted as main performers in child care and nurture. This way, the child rearing and the whole concept of family upbringing will trully be equally shared by both parents or guardians.

Climate Change

Today is Monday, the first of December 2008. As usual, the normal routine of the day starts with getting up, make sure the kids had their breakfast, give them a wash, leave the one that can change herself to her school uniform on her own whilst assisting the younger one that can not help herself. The day's routine should have been fine but with a great difference today! It was freezing cold! The car was frozen it needs scrapping off the ice on the windshield and other parts. The weather temperature appearing on the dashboard was -7 degrees Celsius. I also have to spray some de icer to help clear the windows. All these proceedures demand another thirty minutes to do. This means, I have to wake up thirty minutes in advance for my normal time to wake up considering a freezing temperature outside! ooooohhhhhhhhhh! Fathering! Parenting!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

My Friend and Me

My Friend and Me

I worked last night for a twelve and a quarter hours shift. During the course of this shift, we are entitled for a break from work. My African colleague and friend and I were discussing some of our experiences as migrant workers. My friend narrated an incident happened when he and his friend went out for a nightout with his family and friends. When they entered the pub, my friend paid for their entrance fees and then proceeded to find a vacant table and chairs to occupy. After some time, my friend noticed that they were not being served and so he went to inquire in the bar then ordered and paid what he ordered. After some time, their orders were not served and then they were asked to leave the place immediately.

My friend said he paid everything which cost him about £30 altogether and nothing was returned to him when they left the place. It is sad to note that this incident is still happening in the twenty first century.

I am just hoping that this is just an isolated case and that it is not happening in other places.


Tuesday, 21 October 2008


Behold the trees that shred their garments upon the ground

And kiss the earth beneath our feet and create a joyful sound

They dance with the rythmn of the rushing winds of change

As they sing with mother nature through the valleys, plains, hills and mountain range!

Soon the tree that stood cozy and full of foliage

Will expose its soul standing firm notwithstanding the passing of age

With roots firm upon the ground that sustains itself from the challenges of time

And the hands and body will endure the ever changing clime

Unlike a tree why are we afraid of change?

The shredding of the old and welcoming the new is always a challenge!

Like a tree there is always time to let go

Of the burdens and drop them on the ground below


21 October 2008

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Migrant Worker

I migrated in search for greener pasture....

Descended on a foreign land not knowing what to endure

All looking strange, the weather, race, food, tongue and colour

Everytime we realise we are here, oh! we turn sour

The days quickly passed by, so with months and years

Babies arrive, kids play, giving us comforts from our tears!

It was a struggle to raise kids, yes, and I really mean

That when it moves, no elders to lean to, confidence knocked down, deep within

Jobs were scarce, who cares for an alien anyway?

When applying for a job, too many obstacles, many questions, I wonder why?

To the soul that never interrogated and dignified as before

Situations like these, makes one angry, struggle, and think once more.....

What have I done to deserve such human degradation?

And challenge my fate, then, I say, why did I make such decission?

When job was finally offered, oh! what a strange job, never thought of before!

But what can I say, take it or leave it, or else no job forever!


18 October 2008

I composed this poem while having my break time from my night duty.


Maykan kadwa agkuyog ta a magna

Nasipnget a lubong napno't uleg ken buwaya

Dimo ipangag dagiti karasakas bayat iti inta pannagna

Baka maladaw ta, napateg a biag dagiti masa

nawatiwat ti dalan kasla awan patinggana

ket adu ti matnag ken maigalis nu dika nakasagana

taraonan ti pakinakem iti tunggal agsapa

Balon ti bagi ket nalawag a sirmata

Ti panagbutbuteng ken karasakas dagiti saka

Maysa laeng nga rupa ti kinatakrot ken pannakaiwawa

Panangtungpal iti linteg nga awan kaes-eskanna

karasakas laeng dayta dagiti saka nga awan papananna

Iti nasin-aw a panagserbi iti umili di na koma abaken

Ti bannog iti bagi ken tured ti pakinakem

Tawid dagitoy kadagiti inna ken amma, saan di pay nagsardeng

Agsipud ta ti karasakas iti agsapa ken sardam di na kaya nga abaken.

Ni Manny

Ika -18 iti mabilang ti Oktobre 2008

My daughters and I were walking on the pavements full of fallen leaves from the trees as it was the beginning of Autumn, 2008. The youngest girl said: "dad, there is sound on the leaves on the ground!" This reminded me quickly about the lives of many filipinos back home who continue to fight against human rights violations by the state authorities. The Iloko word for the sound created by our footsteps is KARASAKAS. This also made me to think and wonder how do James Balao and other victims of abductions and unexplained disappearances feel whenever they hear of any sound or karasakas approaching them wherever they are being detained! This poem was composed to remember them and to all men and women who continue to live dangerous lives. Karasakas will continue to haunt them but they will never stop until together with the people, they will finally triumph against the evils of society.