Sunday craving

It’s always been part of my philosophy in life to not wait for a special occasion to celebrate. You can celebrate even for ordinary reasons!

Marble Chiffon Cake I bought from Goldilocks. The lovely design made me smile. ♥️

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Orly

Sa pagtulog, kadalasan hindi mo alam na nananaginip ka na pala. Akala mo buhay ang diwa mo, gising.

Naglalakad daw ako sa isang room nang makita ko si Orly na sa malayo pa lang nakatayo at nakangiti sa akin. Alam kong patay na sya pero nang makita ko sya ngumiti din ako at binati sya ng hello.

May iba pang mga detalye sa panaginip ko pero ito lang ang natatandaan ko. Bigla kong naalala: nang binisita ko sya sa NKTI noon, tulog sya. Buti nandun ang misis nya at sa kanya ko inabot ang aking munting tulong. Nag-usap kami sandali ni Lizette, asawa ni Orly. Nandun din si Janice, kapatid ni Orly.

Sabi ni Janice, ilang araw matapos ang pagbisita ko, ako lang daw ang nakita nyang kapitbahay na babae na bumisita sa ospital. Hindi ko masabi na act of bravery sa akin ang pagpunta roon, natatakot sa kung anong madadatnan na itsura nya. Inisip ko na lang yung aim ko: ang mag-abot ng tulong na pinansyal sa abot na aking makakaya. Dahil dito, dito ko nakausap si Janice sa unang pagkakataon. Later on naging FB friend na rin.

Bata pa lang ako kilala ko na sina Janice at Orly, dalawa sa mga anak ng kapitbahay naming si Mang Pol at ng kanyang butihing asawa. Pero dahil hindi na ako naglalalabas ng bahay nang nasa edad syam o sampu na ako, never ko nakasalamuha sila noong bata pa kami. Nakikita, oo.

Ika-20 ng Nobyembre ng 2017 nang binawian na ng buhay si Orly sa edad na 39. Si Alvin ang nagbalita sa akin.  Si Alvin, sya yung kaibigan ni Orly. Magkaklase sila noong high school. Naging kaklase ko naman si Alvin sa elementarya.

Di ko mapigilang umiyak nang matanggap ang balita. Buti nabigyan pa kami ni Orly ng pagkakataon na magkakilanlan. Taong 2016 nang una kong makausap si Orly nang malapitan at masinsinan, kasama sina Elaine at Roman, na nakausap ko na lang din sa pagkikita na iyon. Although si Elaine, na-meet ko na once before that meeting. At ang hindi ko malilimutan sa meeting na iyon: ang gwapo pala ni Orly. Ngayon ko lang napansin.

Hanggang ngayon, nakatatak pa rin sa isipan ko yung panaginip na iyon na nagkita kami ni Orly. Ang ganda ng ngiti nya, abot tenga.

Subconscious ko lang ba ang nag-ooperate kaya ko sya napanaginipan? Kasi ako paniniwala ko nasa mas maayos na syang kalagayan, kasama ang Diyos na lumikha sa sangkatauhan. O nagpakita si Orly through my dreams? Ang gandang isipin kung ganun nga.

New Year Cake

Celebrating New Year 2018 with Chocolate Smores from Amici/ Caramia. Just light and sweet.

Look at that! Tastes delicious, too, after eating a hearty meal. Just enjoy.

Nang tinanong ko si Ricky Lee, isang premyadong manunulat

Was in a book launching of Ricky Lee’s new book, “Kung Alam N’yo Lang.” Went there alone, from Montalban to Taguig (Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street). I just wanted to see him and have him sign my books he wrote. During the open forum, I took the courage of asking Ricky Lee a question: how he would handle it if he was my age and a senior told him na hilaw ka pa to be given more challenging tasks.

Just to give you background, I received a remark from a senior colleague that really bothered me. Labeling us the junior staff as “hilaw” or raw. And in my case, only good with one thing: documentation or writing reports. That bothered me big time. I mean, how can you say that’s the only thing I can do when we the junior staff are not given a chance to do more. Just observing her, she herself also needs some improvement. I know I should just ignore it, still, it bothered me. Of course, I did not mention this to Ricky. I just tweaked my question, making it general.

Here is the answer of Ricky Lee, turning it specific on writing:

“Hindi ako naniniwala na ang isang tao o ang isang writer ay dumarating sa punto na hinog na hinog na sya. O mahusay na mahusay na sya. I think wala syang katapusang journey. Hanggang sa mamatay ka na o tumigil ka na sa pagsusulat, never ka darating sa punto na “sobrang hinog na ako.” Lahat ng trabaho ko work in progress. I think ganun din ako, a work in progress ako as a writer pero never ako darating sa punto na hinog na ako o kumpleto na ako. The reason why I keep writing is because I feel na hindi pa talaga ako hinog. But on the other hand, ako lang magsasabi nun sa sarili ko. ‘Pag sinabi yan ng iba sa akin, hindi naman nya alam eh. Hindi nya alam kung gaano ako kahanda. So keber lang.”

The good news: Weeks after meeting Ricky Lee, I received a resolution that I got my promotion, my second promotion in my more than five years of tenure. God is good and I am grateful to people who believed in me. In my agency, if you are aiming for promotion, you have to apply for it. You have to prove yourself all over again. “With great power comes great responsibility,” unsolicited advice (or was it a warning?) from one of my bosses.

I know. And I am ready.

This is me, with Mr. Ricky Lee. Photo taken last July 2017.

“Dear Jezzamine, always listen to the wisdom of children!” ~Ricky Lee

“Dear Jezzamine, ang buhay at ang pag-ibig ay parehong gumaganda dahil sa mga tanong na walang kasagutan.” ~Ricky Lee

“Dear Jezzamine, to be a good writer, you have to love a good writer.” ~Ricky Lee

 

Birthday cake

IMG_20171119_012637Effective 22 November 2017, I am now 39 years old. And a birthday to me would not be complete without a cake.

This is Midnight Dream,  the cake I bought from Caramia/ Amici, a favorite, in addition to the spaghetti and lumpiang shanghai (my favorites from childhood until now) that I bought from Amber (my recent fave) which I shared with the two persons I am sharing a home with: my two siblings. I am not into big celebration. Gusto ko solemn celebration lang with my loved ones. Enjoying good food, while watching TV. This has been our family tradition while growing up when celebrating  special occasions. At least within my immediate family.

39.

“Mag-asawa ka na!” was the instant reaction of a colleague/friend upon learning that I just turned 39. Sa tuwing naririnig ko iyon, pasok sa isang tenga labas sa kabila. And I just smiled. And I know she said that because she wants me to be happy, have someone to take care of me.

But if another person made that remark and the intention  is because it’s what everybody is doing, get married, or worse, so that there would be children or a husband to take care of me when I’m sick, I think that is more sickening for you’re after what you’re gonna get in a relationship.  The children aren’t born yet and they already got responsibilities before they even met you as their parent.  Having a man beside me is not an integral part of my being a girl. I can be happy just as I am. There are reasons why a single status is called “singleblessedness.” Being married is a gift, not a goal. To be a female and single in my 30s (this is, in fact, my last year to be in my 30s), it is hard not easy as many would like to think, because I’d like to believe that there is not much difference between being married and being single at all. We all go through the same crap, we all suffer. We all got responsibilities to fulfill: many bills to pay, persons with hangups that you need to deal with at home, on the road, and at work and must learn to tolerate and understand at the same time. And we all experience happiness, joy, and excitement. Walang less problem and the other got more problems. Walang ganun. Hindi yan naka-depende sa civil status You can be married with children but not one of them is there to take care of you. You can be single and there’d be people to help you, who is willing to care for you. In life, there are no guarantees.

But of course, who doesn’t like falling in love again? Who doesn’t like having his/her own family? But if it does not come, if it’s not for you, it’s not the only reason to be in love, to be happy about.  We can be in love with whatever we’re doing at the moment, like writing, and doing it wholeheartedly. We can be happy about many other things that life has to offer.

“‘Pag nag-40 ka na, ang tawag na cougar,” says a superior, sharing a fact of life. Cougar, spinster or matandang dalaga, or whatever, these are just labels. Kasi at the end of the day, what’s important is what’s going on inside me. What’s important is that I love or have loved. At the end of the day, I am a person who has longings and feelings and most important of all, alive. A childhood neighbor and friend recently passed away more than a month after he celebrated his 39th birthday. I just turned 39. I just want to live in the present moment and not worry too much about the future. Besides, the future is right now for we never know if we’d still be alive tomorrow. Except recently where I made a request from God for a friend, I am now at that stage where the only words that I say to Jesus when I pray is thank you.

 

 

40 Time-tested Tips for Journalists that Never Go Out of Style

1. Always get the name of the dog.

2. Better to get it right than get it first.

3. Trust is our most important asset.

4. Endure the awkward silences in interviews.

5. Avoid clichés.

6. Pick up the damn phone.

7. And get out of the damn office.

8. Only quote when paraphrasing doesn’t do a better job.

9. With multimedia: complement, don’t repeat.

10. Know your equipment before you hit the field.

11. Give credit and thanks for user submissions.

12. Follow the money.

13. Ask open-ended questions.

14. Keep asking yourself: what is the story REALLY about?

15. Get good natural sound.

16. Experiment and take risks.

17. Capture more b-roll than you think you need.

18. When the eye and the ear compete, the eye wins.

19. Better to coach writers than fix broken stories.

20. Reports are about information; stories are about experience.

21. Arrive early, stay late.

22. Don’t let the powerful answer in the passive voice: “Mistakes were made.”

23. The best quote often comes after the reporter closes the notebook.

24. Journalism is a discipline of verification, not assertion.

25. Good writing is not magic, it’s a process.

26. Great journalism comes at the intersection of craft and opportunity.

27. Take responsibility for what readers know and understand.

28. Each reader brings an autobiography with them to a story.

29. In a nut graph, it’s not the graph that’s important, but the nut.

30. Place the emphatic word in a sentence at the end.

31. The antidote to procrastination is rehearsal.

32. Show AND tell.

33. Get a good quote high in the story.

34. Express your most important idea in the shortest sentence.

35. The most powerful form of punctuation is white space.

36. Write early to learn what you still need to learn.

37. Tell the audience what you know—and how you know it.

38. Don’t just interview the boss, talk to the mechanic.

39. To find stories, take a different route home.

40. If your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Source: https://www.poynter.org/40-time-tested-tips-journalists-never-go-out-style

Voltaire version 2

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This is Voltaire ver. 2. He’ll be turning one month old tomorrow and he just lives next door. I would visit him and his mommy dog Carla whenever I find time because it’s always heartwarming holding a puppy. I just hope he lives for years like his half-brother Douglas, my dog, who is among the first batch of Carla’s offsprings. Voltaire ver. 2 is the fifth batch. He’s only one, though. Unico hijo. The second, third, and fourth batch didn’t get to live beyond one month. Either they got sick, they’re too many to be taken care of (my neighbor’s an informal settler), or ate something they’re not supposed to eat. I still miss Voltaire, my dog Douglas’ brother, who my neighbor gave away early this year. I heard he passed away already after eating something. I don’t know, my gut tells me that is not the real reason knowing that my neighbor likes to tell white lies, something that I do not understand about her. My neighbor took her almost a month to think of a name. I suggested “Bernard” because the puppy looks like St. Bernard. That’s when she said, “Voltaire na lang. Bubuhayin ko na lang ito. Isa lang naman sya.”  I got excited hearing that.

I’m still missing Voltaire. For no two dogs are alike. Just like humans. But life has to go on despite the sadness. And oh, here’s the closeup shot of Voltaire ver. 2!

 

 

Weekend

To beat the blues away, read. With a mug of water. Then later, do your long list of household duties. That’s Douglas relaxing beside me.

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Life inside jails is a microcosm of what is happening in our society as a whole

Whenever I look at the conditions of our prisoners, I would always go back to what Atty. Roy Valenzuela of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology discussed during a forum on restorative justice and human rights back in 2013 at the Commission on Human Rights. He was explaining the difference between criminal justice and restorative justice. He said:

“In punitive justice, we employ this toilet approach in dealing with crimes. When somebody is convicted, we throw that person into jail right away under the common notion that it is the remedy to all crimes. We quickly flush a convicted person down the toilet, thus, the term the “toilet approach” which resulted to our congested prison cells. We treat prisoners as toxic waste. But what we are not aware of is that one day these persons that we flushed down the toilet, kept miserably in congested prison cells will return to their community either as an escaped convict or a freed prisoner who will again—unless there was proper rehabilitation, unless there was an intervention made—become problems of our society.

“With restorative justice, this will help segregate the “hopeless” cases from the “hopeful” ones to decongest prisons. Only those who are recalcitrant, those who continue to hurt other people should be the ones to be put to jail. And those who are compliant should be allowed to undergo conciliation or mediation with their victims or accusers to repair the harm done and restore relationships instead of automatic incarceration.”

Toshi Kazama, an acclaimed US-based Japanese photographer who recently visited the Philippines to give a talk about his human subjects on death row, once gave a suggestion that if you want to get to know more about a foreign country you’re visiting, if you want to know its real identity, its soul, visit their prisons.

This article of Ayee Macaraig gives us a glimpse of our prisons. Even if you consider yourself not a criminal, innocent, or “safe,” still, you must pay attention. Because no matter how much money or budget the Department of Tourism would allot for an ad (last I heard it was Php 650 Million) about the Philippines so investors and tourists would take notice of us,  it still won’t hide the fact the harsh treatment of many Filipinos, particularly those persons deprived of liberty.

Pay attention. Here is the article of Ayee Macaraig that gives the true identity of our country, of the kind of government we have.

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SLOW JUSTICE IN PHILIPPINES AS DRUG WAR RAGES
Report by Ayee Macaraig | AFP | 5 September 2017

Accused murderer Manuel Cerna has languished in a Philippine jail for 15 years without a verdict, one of countless inmates enduring interminable trials that are expected to get longer as an unrelenting drug war overwhelms the courts.

A notoriously slow and under-resourced judicial system has seen a “tidal wave” of new cases as police have conducted a nationwide crime crackdown in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to eradicate all illegal drugs from Philippine society.

The case of Cerna, 60, who almost died of tuberculosis in one of the nation’s most overcrowded jails as his hearings dragged on, is not unusual in that his time in jail while on trial is close to reaching the minimum sentence.

“I get depressed. Some others here committed suicide because their wives left them. They lost all hope of freedom,” Cerna told AFP in the Manila jail surrounded by rusting barbed wire and the stench of rotting food.

So-called “decader” inmates — because they have spent 10 years or more behind bars while on trial — are a symptom of a deeply flawed justice system that helped fuel Duterte’s rise to the presidency last year.

Duterte won the elections on a brutal law-and-order platform, promising swift justice chiefly by killing tens of thousands of criminals and a no-mercy stance on convicted criminals who he said could not be rehabilitated.

Duterte’s police have indeed shot dead thousands of people as they have scoured slums hunting drug traffickers and addicts, leading rights groups to express alarm at what they say are a wave of extrajudicial killings.

This has undoubtedly avoided many trials.

But another 96,700 people have also been arrested as part of the drug war since Duterte came to power, according to the presidential spokesman, adding to pressure on jails that were already nearly six times more crowded than they were built for.

Defendants often have to wait months between hearings, only for the session to be delayed because a judge is sick, a prosecutor fails to show up or a lawyer has another engagement. Sometimes the case gets reassigned to a new judge and the whole process starts from scratch.

In other cases, public attorneys assigned to defend poor suspects change jobs without handing over crucial documents to their replacement, or worse, files get lost, and again the defendant is back at square one.

– ‘Vicious cycle’ –

“There is a tidal wave flooding the judiciary. (But) there is no attendant increase in the number of courts, judges, prosecutors and public attorneys,” Raymund Narag, assistant professor at Southern Illinois University in the United States, told AFP.

“Extrajudicial killings are justified for Filipinos because of the failure of the criminal justice system. It becomes a vicious cycle.”

Trials nationwide last an average of six to 10 years, according to prominent human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno.

A Supreme Court task force on prison decongestion last year also said “an innocent man is jailed for at least five years before he is eventually acquitted”.

One of the key problems is simply a lack of courts, prosecutors and judges.

There are just 2,600 criminal, civilian and other types of courts for a population of 100 million, Supreme Court administrator Midas Marquez told AFP.

Thirty percent of those courts have no judges, according to Marquez’s office.

This leaves the others with impossible tasks, with judges having to handle up to 5,000 cases at any one time, Marquez said.

– ‘Band-aid’ solutions –

The Supreme Court has in recent years sought to do what it can, such as by introducing computerised records and setting up a system to lock in a firm timetable for hearings. Otherwise many months pass without hearings taking place.

“(But) these initiatives are band-aid solutions. What we need are institutional solutions like adding courts and funding them, which require the support of congress and the executive (branch),” Marquez said.

The government is fast-tracking the hiring of hundreds of prosecutors and improving staff training, justice department undersecretary Antonio Kho told AFP.

Duterte has also promised to pour extra funds into the penal system next year.

But he has also repeatedly made comments that have raised questions about his administration’s intent on improving the nation’s jails and prisons.

“I prefer that they (inmates) sleep standing,” Duterte said in March when discussing the problem of packed jails.

In a lengthy assessment of the justice system, Duterte, 72, last month also claimed many prisoners wanted to stay behind bars because they became homosexuals while serving time and enjoyed regular meals.

“They don’t want to go out. Because the food is free and their lover, they are in love, they want to stay there,” Duterte said, as he insisted people could not be rehabilitated in the Philippines’ jails.

“They are already monsters.”

However Cerna, the alleged murderer, insists he is innocent and mourns the wasted years trapped behind bars away from his family.

“When my mother died, I wanted to break down. I wanted to shout but all I could do was cry,” said Cerna, whose real name cannot be disclosed while his case is pending, recalling how he was desperate to help her.

“I wasn’t able to serve her in her dying years.”

Source: Yahoo News

Inmates during a morning headcount inside Quezon City Jail in Manila. (AFP Photo/Noel Celis)

The Philippines’ notoriously slow and under-resourced judicial system has seen a ‘tidal wave’ of new cases due to a nationwide war on drugs. (AFP Photo/ Noel Celis)

Some inmates have spent ten or more years behind bars while on trial—a symptom of deeply flawed justice system. (AFP Photo/Noel Celis)

President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to eradicate all illegal drugs from Philippine society has resulted in 96,700 people being arrested since he came to power. (AFP Photo/Noel Celis)

Conditions inside the massively overcrowded jails are squalid and cramped. (AFP Photo/Noel Celis)

Inmates eat their lunch inside the Quezon City Jail in Manila. (AFP Photo/Noel Celis)

Madonna

While cleaning, I found this. Yup, I like Madonna.

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18 Feb 2017