“Showing our appreciation on World Teachers’ Day” in this week’s issue of the Manila Mail (Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona

For the week of Sept 30-Oct 6, 2015

Showing our appreciation on World Teachers’ Day

Happy World Teachers’ Day! According to the Holiday Insights website, this special day is always celebrated on the 5th of October. If you could believe it, October 5 is also Do Something Nice Day. Yes! What an inspired pair of special days, huh? Doing something nice for someone else or for several persons almost always evokes a pleasant response: at the very least a smile and a “thanks” directed at you, and at the most you could inspire that person to do something nice for someone else, too. Watch what happens when you do something nice on October 5, but you get double the points if you do something nice for somebody every day, and triple the rewards when the recipient of your “nice” deed pays it forward to another person. Being “naughty” may give you a rakish image and temperament, but being “nice” is the goodness of heart that drives humanity to achieve its greatest feats of altruism and kindness.

Well, for my part in Do Something Nice Day, I decided that I will go back through my long-term memory files and recall the many teachers and mentors in my life. Before I get lost in memory lane later on, I would just like to say at the outset that I thank each of them for their guidance and inspiration. First off, there’s my kindergarten teacher at the Philippine Normal University (PNU), Mrs. Felisa Gamboa Tan, circa 1975-76. Because Mrs. Tan asked me from time to time to lead the class in singing or to make a list of the “noisy pupils” in class, at five years old I got of taste of how it was to lead. Through her tutelage, I felt the bursting elation of being able to read and write for the first time. Because we had recess (our favorite subject, what else?) and play time on the grounds, my classmates and I learned the rudiments of getting along with each other. I also remember Ms. Leonora Oriondo of III-Narra because she had faith in me even when I was a bit slow on the uptake in Math, which is what she happens to be teaching in third grade. Because she was willing to tutor me, I went on to become the Most Outstanding Student of the Math Club, of which she was the adviser.

After fourth grade at PNU, our family made a move to San Pedro, Laguna and so I had to transfer to San Pedro Elementary School (SPES), or what they called “Central.” My fifth grade teacher was Ms. Gloria Austria (now Mrs. Mendoza), an Aquarius who had very high standards in academics, behavior, and life in general. It became a challenge for me to impress her with what I can do. I was the academic #1 student who was also taking my turn selling Nutri-Buns, becoming assigned cleaner along with my group once a week, and winning a drawing or essay-writing contest or two. During my sixth and last grade (no, we didn’t have K-12 yet back then), my teacher was the equally “mataray” Mrs. Juliana Almeida, a Scorpio whose bark is worse than her bite and has a marshmallow heart underneath her temper and voice of steel. When I last visited SPES in 2008 – surprise! Mrs. Almeida is still there, faithfully teaching which is what she does best. She even told me that she read my Youngblood essay in the Philippine Daily Inquirer which is circa Dec. 1997 so she’s sort of updated at that time about my comings and goings thus far.

At the Manila Science High School, I can name some of my teachers and recall why it was pleasurable to learn from them. From my I-Lavoisier days, our class adviser Ms. Hermelinda Rodriguez teaches General Science. I presented my report on the phases of the Moon in class, and she asked me to share that paper with another section. That experience probably had something to do with my growing fascination for the astronomical and astrological facets of the Universe. In II-Dalton, our class adviser was Mrs. Ester Garcia who taught Statistics and Probability. She was so sweet and even-tempered. Another math teacher I had in 2nd year that I liked was Mrs. Juana “Jane” Geronimo, who showed me how math and words in the form of proof can make these abstract concepts more understandable. During 3rd year in III-Bohr, our class adviser was another sweet-tempered lady, Mrs. Libertad “Libby” Javier. She taught Pilipino, and we tackled Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere.” On the English subject side, our section’s teacher was Ms. Nilda Cas, whose penmanship was so remarkably arty. Ms. Cas asked us to break into groups, write a one-act play, and then stage it. Our group created the play “Chiaroscuro,” which further developed my interest in theater arts and writing. Ms. Mirasol De Silva, our adviser in IV-Copernicus, was my idea of a “dalagang Pilipina:” soft-spoken yet righteous in her manner and demeanor. We thought she would remain a “matandang dalaga” but we heard later on that she got married. She took us through a journey of mores via the Rizal novel “El Filibusterismo.”

In college at the University of the Philippines-Manila, one of our first teachers was Mrs. Tayag who was somehow related to Nilo Tayag from the ‘70s First Quarter Storm. We didn’t have the usual history textbook written by Gregorio Zaide. Instead we worked through the textbooks written by Renato Constantino, who had a leftist view of Philippine history. With our Humanities teacher of two years, Mr. Victorino “Ino” Manalo, the memory that stayed with me was our final exam-presentation. For our group, we had to dramatize the legend of the Holon volcano in T’boli, South Cotabato. I composed the lyrics and melody which, as I sang at the back of the room while playing my guitar, served as the narrative while my group mates did the acting onstage. After our number, there was spontaneous applause from our classmates and then Mr. Manalo focused everybody’s attention to me, and even now I could still remember the warmth I felt inside when my classmates looked at me and my guitar at the back of the room and then gave me a thunderous ovation. Another teacher I couldn’t forget was Marita Reyes, MD who at the time was the Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM). She was so approachable and down-to-earth, and during an interview with her for a forgotten class activity or project, “Tita Maritz” peopled my imagination with real stories of her dramatic encounters with patients, colleagues, and – get this – her first “medical” love, which turned out to be Biochemistry. She told me that the first time she heard a biochem lecture, her heart started palpitating with excitement, and right then and there, she decided that after she receives her medical degree, she will be a biochem teacher. She made good on her promise to herself and inspired my generation of medical students, circa late ‘80s.

I didn’t get to finish my medical degree, but I got a practical education along the way. I belong to a family of teachers, to all of whom I continue to be thankful. When I got to California in late 2004, another chapter opened up in my life as an astrologer and tarot card reader. Whenever I am giving a tarot reading, for example, THAT sends my heart pumping with joy and excitement because of the privilege I’m being given of helping another human being. To this end, I also would like to acknowledge two of my teachers in astrology: Ms. Jeanne Russo of Arizona, who tutored me as I took the Math correspondence course of the American Federation of Astrology (AFA) from 2005-07; and Ms. Linea Van Horn, who gave me an introduction to intermediate astrology and is one of my fairy godmothers in the San Francisco Bay Area. To all of you, my teachers, please accept my no-expiration thanks and appreciation!


“Thankfulness and National Grandparents’ Day” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Sept. 9-15, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Sept. 9-15, 2015

Thankfulness and National Grandparents’ Day

We have so much to be thankful for! First, I am thankful because the column I wrote a month ago, “Pistahan notes: Bataan Legacy, our history (vol. 26 no. 32; Aug. 12-18, 2015, page A5),” encouraged three readers to write me, and so I forwarded their emails to Ms. Cecilia I. Gaerlan, the founder of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society. I want to help Tita Cecilia by drumming up support for the upcoming opening of an important exhibit at the Main San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) this coming Sept. 12, called “World War II in the Philippines: The Legacy of Two Nations,” An Exhibition and Conference. For this reason, allow me to clear this writing space for Ms. Gaerlan who wrote the following press release:

“In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Bataan Legacy Historical Society, Memorare Manila 1945, the San Francisco Public Library and the Philippine Consulate General present “World War II in the Philippines – The Legacy of Two Nations,” an exhibition and a conference. The four-month exhibition will open on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 10:30AM at the San Francisco Main Public Library (Third Floor) located at 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA. The Conference will take place on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 10AM at the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Main Public Library. Both events are open to the public. Admission is Free but Registration through Eventbrite (Bataan Legacy) is recommended for the Conference. The Exhibition from September 12, 2015 to January 9, 2016 will depict the story of World War II in the Philippines, a seminal piece of history that has been mostly forgotten. The exhibition will present a compelling story of the sacrifices of Filipino, American and Allied soldiers and civilians. One million civilians perished in the Philippines during WWII and its capital Manila became the second most devastated city in the world after Warsaw. It will depict the Bataan Death March, one of the most horrific events during WWII. Keynote speaker will be Vice Admiral Charles W. Ray, U.S. Coast Guard Commander of the Pacific Area and Defense Force West. The Conference on October 24 will feature speakers from different perspectives of the war. WWII veterans Chief Johnny Johnson of the USS San Francisco, the most decorated carrier during WWII and Maj. General Richard Keith of the 511th Parachute Infantry will be among the speakers. Veterans and survivors of the war will also act as panelists. State Superintendent Tom Torlakson of the California Department of Education will give the opening keynote speech while Congressman Mike Honda will give recognition to the WWII veterans. For further information, please visit our website at http://www.bataanlegacy.org.”

Like I said at the start, we have so much to be thankful for. Did you know that in 1978, then President Jimmy Carter declared the Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents’ Day? So this year, we’re celebrating this special day on Sept. 13 (Sunday), which is just a day after the opening of the World War II exhibit at the main SFPL sponsored by the Bataan Legacy Historical Society. For a couple of weeks now, we’ve been talking about gratitude, thankfulness, “pagtanaw ng utang na loob” (paying back a debt of gratitude). Nothing exemplifies these concepts more fully than the way we love and respect our elders. I hope you make sure that you spend quality time with your grandparents in the next couple of days. Actually, the ideal scenario is that it should be Grandparents’ day every day. Why? Because most of them (I’m saying most of them) are fun to be around, oozing with gravity yet not above bribing you with a sweet or a cookie. And even if your grandpa or grandma is a little bit feisty or forgetful or a terror, you still cannot deny the fact that without them, your parents wouldn’t have been alive and you wouldn’t even have been born. So this life that you’ve been taking for granted is actually rooted in years of shared and valuable family history, securing your place firmly on earth and under the skies to continue the legacy of your blessings. Many people spend a lot of money tracing their ancestry, but you and I can actually hold and embrace our grandpa and grandma right here and now, if they’re still living. What’s keeping us from doing so?

Here’s my mini-tribute to my grandparents. My Mom’s father, Prudente Ragasa, was a law student who became a high-ranking guerilla officer in the boondocks of Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur. Lolo Puding was killed in action so my Mom didn’t even grow up with a father. My Lola Remedios (Meding) Lazam-Ragasa, my Mom’s mother, was a brave and enterprising Aries woman who raised my Uncle Jess and my Mom Aida by teaching grade school and making clothes through her Singer sewing machine which is “de-padyak.” Lola Meding remarried, and it was to Lolo Juan (Johnny) Santos, a good-looking Virgo teacher-administrator who was so generous to us kids with presents and coins. Imagine, this was in the early 1970s, and he would give me 25 centavos per single white hair that I plucked from his head! With Lolo Johnny, my Lola Meding Santos had three more children, my two aunts and only uncle– all of whom later had their respective partners and children. Lola Meding had a younger sister, Lola Tomasa (Chata) Lazam, who in turn had a BFF, my Lola Candelaria (Andie) Manarang. Lola Chata has passed on; Lola Andie is still alive. They are my grand-aunts.

On my father Ron’s side, I have another “Lolo Johnny,” my Dad’s dad, Juan Carmona, a solid Taurus who worked as a city engineer for Gattaran, Cagayan, and actually has a small bridge named after him in the area. My Lolo Johnny was a US WWII veteran, having served in the USAFFE. My Lola Margarita (Margie) Sumabat-Carmona, or Lola Mamang for short, is a bubbly Gemini who made a home for my Lolo Johnny, Dad, and his brothers and sisters. Lola Margie likes reading suspense novels and dancing. Of my immediate grandparents, only Lola Mamang is still alive today, and we cherish her as our family treasure. Lola Mamang, at 88 years old, still has the sharp wit, the wisdom, and that wonderful quality of being appreciative of the people who are helping her now.

So segue upon segue upon segue… are we really surprised that gratitude, thankfulness, World War II, the Bataan Death March, and (this week’s) National Grandparents’ Day are all somehow interconnected?! So here are the takeaways from this week’s column:
1. On Sept. 12 (Sat.), please attend the opening of the exhibit: “World War II in the Philippines” at the San Francisco Main Public Library.
2. On Sept. 13 (Sun.), honor your grandparents, grand-aunts, and grand-uncles. Respect.
3. From last week’s column, heed a prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas: “Give us, O Lord, thankful hearts which never forget Your goodness to us. Give us, O Lord, grateful hearts, which do not waste time complaining.”

Please check out my new Facebook page: facebook.com/blessingsandlight.org

“Friends, sisters, and forgiveness” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (July 29-Aug. 4, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of July 29-August 4, 2015

Friends, sisters, and forgiveness

Three special days are always celebrated on the first Sunday of August: Friendship Day, International Forgiveness Day, and Sisters Day. There’s a common thread running through these days: they amplify the importance of our relationships with family, friends, and acquaintances.

International Forgiveness Day was created by the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance in 1996. It’s a nondenominational educational foundation established by Robert W. Plath of Mill Valley, California. Following is the WFA’s Mission Statement: “The Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance is a non-profit 501(c) 3 tax-deductible organization whose mission is to evoke the healing spirit of Forgiveness worldwide. We declare that “Forgiveness Is the Greatest Healer of Them All (Dr. Gerald Jampolsky)” and that “Without Forgiveness There Is No Future (Archbishop Desmond Tutu).” WFA focuses on providing training in the techniques of forgiveness as well as in the knowledge of the psychological, physiological, emotional and spiritual benefits of the forgiveness process. WFA also promotes the spread of awareness and knowledge of the scientific findings related to forgiveness (www.forgivenessday.org). If you type in “techniques of forgiveness” into your search engine, you will encounter many websites for this valuable resource. One of the simpler ones to understand is the article, “How to Forgive and the Value of Forgiveness” by Lisa Claycomb: “There are a variety of techniques through which people can release resentment and welcome serenity into the mind and body. Sometimes people become offended when they believe that another person has purposely caused them harm. Looking at the situation from the other person’s perspective and choosing to believe that the intentions were good can be a helpful start to forgiving. Reciting words of encouragement, affirmations and forgiveness quotes can also be useful for replacing negative thoughts and feelings with kinder images. Visualizing the resentful thoughts floating away from the mind and inviting forgiveness through the law of attraction are other effective techniques. And, using a combination of all of these approaches can be extremely powerful.” (https://suite.io/lisa-claycomb/4f8d2tq)

Last year, WFA reports that 1.7 million people took that moment to forgive. This year, on August 2, 2015 (Sunday) at 2 pm, we are all invited to take 2 minutes to forgive someone. You can go to the website above if you want to be officially counted among the 2 million people targeted this year to take those couple of minutes to forgive. Now suppose you are at a loss about who to forgive. Maybe you’re thinking that you’re a pretty laidback, easygoing person so you actually have no enemies to speak of. I have an app for that: Forgive Thyself. For that part of you which keeps setting unrealistically high standards for yourself that you never really meet: forgive. For that part of you which makes many stupid mistakes: forgive. For that part of you which is too shy or too bold or too anything: forgive. Even better, why don’t you forgive all of the many beautiful and imperfect parts of yourself? Guilt and worry could only be counterproductive and a waste of mental energy. On the other hand, gratitude is big. An “attitude of gratitude” actually makes it more likely for people to be forgiving of themselves, others, and uncontrollable situations, and makes people kinder and happier as well (www.forgivenesschallenge.com). A song by the Beatles goes: “Try to see it my way/ Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong/ While you see it your way/ There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long/We can work it out, we can work it out/ Life is very short/ And there’s no time/ For fussing and fighting, my friend/ I have always thought that it’s a crime/ So I will ask you once again…” (Beatles – “We Can Work It Out” Lyrics |www.metrolyrics.com)

Sisters Day is also celebrated on the first Sunday of August. This one applies to most of us, being or having a sister. In fact, around 80-90% of us has at least one birth sibling. I am the eldest of four children, having two sisters and a brother. With this special Sisters Day, I will be paying tribute to my sisters Cherry and Edna. They have been with me through my ups and downs, showing me incredible understanding, love, support — and forgiveness when needed. For these and many other reasons known only to sisters, I would like to express my gratitude to them. However, sisterhood goes beyond being related by blood. There are sororities in schools where “sisses” build lifelong friendships. There are friends who refer to each other as sisters — such is the closeness of their relationship. We also have our sisters-in-law who can be very compassionate and present when we need them. There are all sorts of sisterly bonds.
Let’s mention a couple of films about sisters and friendship. First of all, who among us hasn’t seen Disney’s 2013 film, “Frozen?” Your children certainly loved them, right? Their new idols are sisters Elsa and Anna, and they want to wear their own tiaras. Even if it’s only based on a fairy tale, “Frozen” still has something to say about the power of love between sisters. When Anna, seeing that the villain Hans is about to kill Elsa, blocks the attack and turns to ice, the rest of the ice thaws later on because Anna’s decision to sacrifice herself constitutes an “act of true love.” This act of love is enough to lift a curse, restore a kingdom, and allow us the closure of a happy ending, as usual.

A 2005 film, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” exemplifies the friendship among four young women. Per imdb.com, “Four best girlfriends hatch a plan to stay connected with one another as their lives start off in different directions: they pass around a pair of secondhand jeans that fits each of their bodies perfectly.” They’re best friends from Bethesda, Maryland who are all going to different places for the summer: Lena (Alexis Bledel) is going to Greece, Carmen (America Ferrera) is going to visit her father in South Carolina, Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) is staying home, and Bridget (Blake Lively) is going to soccer camp in Baja California, Mexico. So what’s with the pair of jeans that they bought and called the “Traveling Pants?” To me it’s a symbol of the magic of their friendship: the pants apparently fit all four of them despite their differing sizes. Despite the internal changes and realizations they each go through during the summer, the one constant is that pair of pants that they pass around among each other, one-size-fits-all, like the inclusive, non-judgmental quality of their four-way friendship.

Therefore, let’s now talk about the third special day we are celebrating on the first Sunday of August this year: Friendship Day. It’s a great day to get in touch with your friends: old, current, and new. With your old friends, some of whom may already be living far away from you, why don’t you surprise them with a phone call, email, or card/e-card? To catch up with your current friends, be sure to invite them to lunch or an interesting activity before the day is through. While you’re at it, why don’t you look around for opportunities to gain a new friend or two? You get extra points if you make a new friend on August 2, 2015 itself, which is this year’s first Sunday of August – when we get to celebrate a trifecta of special days: International Forgiveness Day, Sisters Day, and Friendship Day. Please make merry responsibly.


“Graduations and healing” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (June 3-9, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona

For the week of June 3-9, 2015

Graduations and healing

Around this time, commencement ceremonies are happening all over the 50 states, signaling what appears to be the end of a period of study for the proud and ecstatic graduates. Around this time, I marched across the stage at Chabot College in Hayward, CA to receive my certificates in a couple of human services fields. Also, I received a certificate of achievement from the Angel Light School of Metaphysics in Berkeley for having completed three “Awareness” classes: on Stones, Crystals, and Chakras (energy sockets of the body according to ancient Asian traditions).

Graduating students have the right to be proud of their achievements. For example, in a community college like Chabot, some of us had to juggle jobs and classes. We have war veterans among us, single parents, seniors, the disabled. The list goes on but what I enjoy most in my college is the incredible diversity within its student body. Furthermore, our professors are topnotch, challenging us academically.

On graduation day, everybody strives to make it as memorable as possible. Graduates cart along with them a mini-community made up of their family and friends who would gladly belt out rebel yells once their graduate’s name is called and the student walks across the stage to receive her diploma from the school official. The resounding shouts are joyously rowdy, eliciting the stares of the people around them. But wait until it’s that family’s graduate’s turn to march onstage. Clapping, catcalls, shout outs, “We love you!” Everybody is so proud to be a part of the commencement ceremony, from mere spectators to active participants, from parents and family to good friends or a partner. It’s a special moment, surely unforgettable, and it could be emotional when some of the speakers may either get you teary-eyed with sentiment or side-stitched with laughter. Have you noticed this: the last graduate to be called is always the most applauded? Sometimes things just work out that way.

For students who are graduating this year, please allow me to share a Facebook post by my Manila Science High School-classmate Ms. Monina Hernandez Gesmundo, one of the founders of the Filipino Nurses Association of New Zealand, Inc. The post was originally from Collective Evolution: “A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen and a hand willing to help others.”

There you have it in a nutshell. It’s all about love, listening, and service. Whether you are going to a four-year college after your Associate degree, or going for your Associate in Science or Arts after your certificate, or going straight to work after graduation, one factor remains the same: this is only the beginning. We never stop learning. By the way, Merriam-Webster defines “intelligence” as the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations. I like the second portion of the definition because it presumes that for one to be considered intelligent, she must apply some or all of what she already knows to adapt to a novel or challenging problem. What goes on inside her could be a complex cascade of many processes – who knows exactly how the human brain works? – but we do know that our mind is not just limited to our brain. It is in fact a bodymindheartspirit fusion and to deny any or some of these components of our humanity does our evolved selves untold injustice. We are all of ourselves: our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits.

That’s why it’s equally important for me to learn metaphysics aside from the usual academic subjects. I have to nourish the parts of me that somehow just “know” that there is more to life than purely physical phenomena. I could play the skeptic as I once have so that for example, if I prayed to a god and my wish didn’t come true, I could say that these supreme beings didn’t exist anyway so what’s the point. But what if I started really tuning in to my inner child, the one who believes in answered prayers, miracles, and manifested intentions, and what if I then witness prayers coming true, miracles being wrought, and intentions being manifested?

I cannot “force” my beliefs and experiences on you. I’m just here to tell you how it has been for me. Type “indigo children” or “crystal children” in your search engine. These are the new generations of young people in existence now who have heightened psychic abilities and hence very acute senses. They are gentle, intelligent, and are more comfortable with nature than with people. Some of them are said to be very sensitive to discordant sounds in the environment. As children, some of them may speak later than usual, thus being mislabeled autistic. But they may be thinking: Why speak? They can read your mind anyway.

We must be ready to help the next generation of our children. What kind of care and education do they require? Do you see a more natural eco-friendly and synthetic-free Earth for them? This is where metaphysical schools like Angel Light School of Metaphysics in Berkeley, CA are leading the way. If you go to their website: http://www.angellightschool.com, here is what you’ll read on their Home tab: “Angel Light School of Metaphysics offers classes, training, and certifications in the psychic and healing arts. Affiliated with Angel Light Books & Gifts in Berkeley, California, we have been providing classes and products in the metaphysical field since 1989. At Angel Light School of Metaphysics, we have created a harmonious environment that is conducive to aligning body, mind and spirit. Most classes have less than 10 students providing more individualized attention and participation. With a small close-knit group, people have established lasting friendships with others of like-mind and spirit. Students who are serious and apply themselves have developed successful careers as healers, readers, and teachers. Others have enhanced their lives by utilizing tools they have learned from our school such as manifesting, meditation, opening up their psychic abilities, clearing their aura, and practicing a holistic approach to living. Join us as we co-create a life of physical, mental and spiritual well-being and open our lives to our highest potential. To meet some of our instructors and practitioners, check out our Angel Light Metaphysical Fair held every 3rd Sunday of the month from 1-4p.m. at Angel Light Books & Gifts in Berkeley, California. Or, schedule a private session with many of our gifted readers and healers listed on the website. Peruse our wide selection of metaphysical classes. We are currently adding our on-line classes to make it accessible to people around the world.”

In these three classes: Stones, Crystals, and Chakras, I am finally able to synthesize the correlation among quartz crystal, stone colors, the seven colors of the rainbow (ROYGBIV)* and chakras. *Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Indigo-Violet. A final takeaway that makes so much meaning to me is: “What color stone is beneficial for general healing and wellbeing?” “That color is green, corresponding to the Heart chakra,” according to our teacher, Ms. Valencia Chan, “thus one may use green aventurine, malachite, or jade for this purpose. The green/heart chakra is right in the middle of the seven chakras- three above and three below the heart- so it’s already inherently balanced, making it ideal for healing.” I therefore declare a eureka moment and with all my blessings: Green is the insignia of healing!

Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com

“Special days this week in May and the mother of them all” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (May 6-12, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of May 6-12, 2015

Special days this week in May and the mother of them all

First of all, did you know that May 12 is Limerick Day? That’s because it celebrates the birthday of writer Edward Lear (1812-1888), an Irish native who popularized limerick poems when his “Book of Nonsense” was published in 1846. What is a limerick? It’s a humorous poem consisting of five lines with lines 1,2, and 5 rhyming, while lines 3 and 4 rhyme on a different scheme. Here’s an example written by Noam Kuzar from the website http://www.holidayinsights.com/.

There once was an old man from Esser
Whose knowledge grew lesser and lesser.
It at last grew so small
He knew nothing at all
And now he’s a college professor. (Noam Kuzar)

So I was inspired to make a couple of limericks of my own. Here they are:

There was once a man from Kentucky
Who felt he would win the horse derby
On mount he fell flat
What’s surprising with that
If we all just assumed he’s unlucky? (Bles C.)

There’s a lady from St. Catherine
Who sings the “Begin the Beguine”
And she starts from the end
Like it’s never quite planned
Yet the people still join her in singin’. (Bles C.)

I invite my readers to try their hand at crafting these funny verses and please send me a copy of your limericks at my email below. I will credit you properly as the author of your contributions. Thanks!

Now a little dialing back is in order, since May 5, as we know, is Cinco de Mayo and National Teachers Day as well. Cinco de Mayo has come to mean a time to celebrate the richness of Mexican and Hispanic culture, and the corresponding feeling of national pride. It was on May 5, 1862 that the Mexicans defeated the French army, and yet this single victory, just one of their many battles against colonial powers, is not synonymous with Mexican Independence Day which they actually celebrate on Sept. 16. Cinco de Mayo is a time for our Mexican brethren to sing, dance, party, make merry, and express their pride for being of Latino origin.

The Tuesday of the first full week of May is National Teachers Day. This year, it falls on May 5. We wouldn’t be where we are right now if it weren’t for those patient, persevering, creative, and inspirational people whom we call our teachers, mentors, gurus, or perhaps life coaches. Formal teaching may only be from pre-K to college but we never stop learning and we owe our continuing intellectual curiosity to our teachers in any way, shape, or form. Let us say a sincere “thank you” to these wise and dedicated individuals in our lives. Ma’am, Sir, happy National Teachers Day po sa inyo!

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week. This is our tribute to these health care workers who face frontline responsibilities in caring for children, the elderly, and people with poor health. Nurses are part of the heart of medicine with their skillful competence, empathic compassion, and clear communication. So to all the nurses working in different parts of the world, maraming salamat po sa inyo!

May 8 is always the date when Iris Day is celebrated, especially in Japan where this special day originated. For the Japanese, the iris flower and plant have a spiritual significance in that they ward off evil spirits. On Iris Day in Japan, people place iris leaves in their bath water in the belief that this practice can prevent illnesses. The people mix iris juice with their traditional sake drink as this is believed to ensure longevity. Master gardener Aida, my Mom, has a whole island of irises now in full bloom as late spring additions to her front fairy garden. When I read this bit of research to her, she was definitely tickled pink to be in tune with our Nippongo brethren through Iris Day. To my Mom, the irises in our front yard do not have to ward off evil spirits or illnesses. As far as she is concerned, her irises are just there to be — to walk in beauty, like the night, as it were, like Lord Byron wrote.

Now of course, the mother of all the holidays during this particular week still remains our worldwide Mothers Day celebration on May 10. Need you ask why? Look no further than the nurturing figure in your life who raised you and trained you until you became the mostly law-abiding and reasonable individual that you are now. I don’t care if the nurturing figure in your life was male or female – just that by dint of her/his love, sacrifices, and hard work for you, you can rightly call that person your Mother. In the interests of broadening our definition of “mother” further, let me call your attention to surrogate, alternative, and avant-garde mothers. Let me call your attention to mother-like women although they never married and never had children of their own.

These are the single women who work as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and then send remittances to the Philippines faithfully every month to finance the education of several nieces, nephews, and other relatives. These are the spinster-women who had retired from their careers and yet continue to sponsor the education of college students recommended to them by the dean. That had been the case for my grand-aunts Tomasa/Chata (RIP) and Candelaria/Andie. They were former faculty members of the Dr. Yanga School of Midwifery in Bocaue, Bulacan until their early eighties in age, and they have sent more than a handful of midwifery students to school. One grateful student even wrote to the show “Wish Ko Lang” because she wanted to pay a tribute to my grand-aunt, Candelaria Manarang, BSN, RN. I witnessed the taping, saw the finished episode on TV and oh! What a touching tribute it turned out to be.

Let me close with another limerick of mine in hopes that you’ll be inspired to write your own and share it with our readers by emailing me:

There’s a choosy belle living in Italy
Who declared she was ready to marry.
Suitors formed a long line
Day by day, rain or shine
She eloped with a brand-new Ferrari. (Bles C.)


Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com

“Giving the earth a wide berth on Earth Day” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (April 15-21. 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of April 15-21, 2015


Gangway, gangway! Here comes the star – or should I say planet? – of the show: Mother Earth! Hurray! Happy Earth Day on April 22! Other cities are even celebrating Earth for an entire week, so good luck and have fun with that! There’s also Earth Hour, which was first celebrated on March 28, 2009 from 8:30-9:30 pm local time.

What are some things we can do in honor of Earth Day? Well, if you visit Earth Day Network (earthday.org/takeaction), you can sign the climate petition by telling officials to phase out carbon, you can support environmental education, and you may reduce your energy consumption at home. There could be many more Earth-friendly acts we can do on a sustained basis. For instance, I’ve told you about my Mom’s water recycling here at home, in which she uses the water from dish- and clothes-washing for watering the plants in our front and back yards. Earthday.org is urging people to help them reach 2 billion “acts of green,” like pledging to eat less meat, to buy local produce, to start composting, and to stop using disposable plastic, among others. If you run out of creative ideas on how to help Mother Earth along, do your Goodsearch and just type in “Earth Day 2015.”

According to my Jim Maynard’s Astrologer’s Datebook 2015, there will be an April Lyrids shower on April 22. The April Lyrids are a meteor shower lasting from April 16 to April 26 each year, with its peak typically happening around April 22. The radiant of the meteor shower is located in the constellation Lyra, near this constellation’s brightest star, Vega. The Lyrids have been observed for the past 2600 years, which means, if we’re now on the Chinese Lunar Year of the Goat/Ram 4713, that for more than half the length of human existence here on earth, records of the Lyrids sightings have been preserved. How wonderful for us that our Earth is uniquely situated in the heavens so that we can view such precious sights like meteor showers and comets! I’ll also take this opportunity to mention that for so many years, up until the 16th century, the majority of astronomers believed in the geocentric or earth-centered model of the cosmos. It fit in with the observations of the Greeks and it made scriptural sense for the earth to be at the center. However, with Copernicus’ heliocentric or sun-centered model combined with Kepler’s elliptical orbits and Galileo’s telescope observations, the geocentric model slowly lost adherents.

Nevertheless, among us astrologers, our symbolic cosmology is still geocentric. Why? First of all, astrology is a language of symbolic meanings. It makes sense to us to adapt the movement of the planets to the one who is at the center of the chart: our client, the person standing on top of the earth. Second, in the calculations we use to construct a natal chart, our system of placing the planets in their respective parts of the chart (based on the person’s date/time/city of birth) is still accurate. Third, using this natal chart, we astrologers are able to correctly describe the person’s nature and what cycles and transitions he/she may be going through nowadays or in the near future. Fourth, in mundane astrology, if you ever want to research that subject, you’ll find that even countries and cities, based on their date of founding or incorporation, have unique characteristics as well. It’s well worth exploring, but I’m more of a natal chart astrologer myself, exploring psychological issues with an individual client, sometimes with the help of Tarot, angel oracle, and fairy oracle cards. Make sure to shoot me an email if you feel that I could help you that way, OK?

Now, since we’re celebrating Earth Day: Do any of you still remember the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer (a guy, actually)?

By Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Source: Poetry (August 1913).

There is such a diversity among the trees of the earth! Let me just mention some of them. Among the many ornamental trees, there’s the “arbol del fuego” or flame tree (Delonix regia) with its blood-red flowers blooming in the Philippines in April-May. I remember hushed tales from my childhood about mountain natives beheading lowlanders so that they can present the heads as gifts to their lady love. I’ve seen cherry blossom trees in bloom in Tokyo a long time ago, and yet the image of those flowers from light-to-deep pink were so singular in beauty. At least we have the same such tree in our backyard. Another ornamental tree is the maple with its palette of leaf colors from orange to mauve. One recent discovery in our household is the kumquat tree. Apparently, our neighbor has such a tree in their front yard, and Ate Salome told my Mom that a brew of kumquat leaves is very effective in lowering blood sugar readings. One can also eat the fruit including the skin. Disclaimer: Please consult your medical professional before making any changes to your overall health regimen.

I merely touched on trees, which is just one component of the incredible biodiversity of Mother Earth. Throw in the geocentric model talk, and the Lyrids meteor shower, and Earth Day activities you could do. In all of these, I’m working on restating what I first heard when the great folk singer Joey Ayala sang these lines about the earth and the environment more than 20 years ago: “Ang lahat ng bagay ay magkaugnay/ Magkaugnay ang lahat.” (All things are connected.) Give Mother Earth her due! Celebrate her day! This earth is the only home we have in our lifetime.

For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com

“Marching forward in March” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (March 25-31, 2015; page A6)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of March 25-31, 2015


Are we done with International Women’s Month? Could we really run out of notable Filipinas to mention? True or false: Do we celebrate National Doctors Day here in the USA on March 30 of every year? Should we really beware the Ides of March?

The short answers (to beat of the drum) are: No, no, true, and it depends.

No, we are not done with International Women’s Month. On this last week of March, please allow me to feature these amazing Filipina achievers: Leonor Orosa-Goquinco (1919-2005) who was declared National Artist for Dance on Mar. 27, 1976, and Encarnacion Alzona, Ph.D., who was born an Aries on March 25, 1895, lived until she was 105, and declared National Scientist for History in 1985.

Leonor Orosa-Goquinco, true to the inclination of her brilliant Leo Sun, was the total performer. She was known as the “Trailblazer,” “Mother of Philippine Theater Dance,” and “Dean of Filipino Performing Arts Critics.” Born on July 24, 1917 in Jolo, Sulu of doctor-parents, Ms. Orosa could play the piano, draw, design scenery and costumes, sculpt, act, direct, dance, and choreograph. However, the excellent artistry most attributed to her was in the realm of Dance. She choreographed many dance presentations and at the age of 19 was the only dancer sent on the first cultural mission to Japan in 1939.

During her younger years, she has also performed in venues as varied as the American Museum of Natural History, Theresa Kaufmann Auditorium, The International House, and Rockefeller Plaza. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in education majoring in English Literature from St. Scholastica’s College Manila, and then took graduate courses in theatre craft, drama and music at Columbia University and Teachers College in New York City. She also took professional and teacher courses at the Ballet de Monte Carlo. Ms. Orosa organized the Filipinescas Dance Company and the Philippine Ballet, taking them on international tours for several years. She was married to Benjamin Goquinco and had three children. Ms. Orosa was not only a superb dancer but also a writer of poems and plays, and a writer of performing arts reviews. She was conferred the title of National Artist for Dance during the month of March like this one, thirty-nine years ago in 1976.

Having featured a National Artist, let’s now present a National Scientist. We can say that Encarnacion A. Alzona, Ph.D., born in Biñan, Laguna on March 25, 1895, lived the spirit of her sign Aries by being a female pioneer in so many ways. She stood out as a Filipina historian, educator, and tireless advocate for women’s right to vote or suffrage. Dr. Alzona was also the very first Filipina to obtain a Ph.D. which she received from Columbia University in 1923. From the book, “National Scientists of the Philippines (1978-1998),” a publication of the DOST-NAST (Pasig: Anvil Publishing, 2000), here is the citation when the Philippine national government recognized Dr. Alzona as a National Scientist for History in 1985:

“Dr. Encarnacion A. Alzona is an eminent historian and mentor to a generation of other eminent historians in the period of transition after the Philippine Revolution and the war against the United States to the present time. Some of her works have already become classics, particularly her “A History of Education in the Philippines, 1565-1930.” For her “El Legado de España,” she received the Lone Prize awarded by the II Congress de Hispanistas de Filipinas in 1954. Dr. Alzona has the distinction of being the first woman Ph.D. in the Philippines. Her other writings on notables of the Post-Revolutionary era have made available to our people a legacy of the past which has been illuminated for us in a unique way because of her proximity in time to those parts of history and its participants. A much honored preceptor in the tradition of the Academic Guild, Dr. Alzona has received practically every distinguished award the country can bestow her.” Dr. Encarnacion Alzona passed away beyond the centenarian mark at 105 years old in 2001. Ms. Orosa and Dr. Alzona are truly remarkable Filipino women!

You know, like I said in my previous column, there were quite a number of cosmic happenings last March 20: the total solar eclipse, the new moon, and the spring equinox. I’ve heard feedback from my fellow astrologers that all these energy bursts were making some of them restless, especially those of them who are sensitive to these – shall we say electromagnetic? – forces. I posed the partially rhetorical question re: the Ides of March simply to sound a note of positivity despite whatever challenges we are trying to overcome at this time. The ides of March or March 15 was actually the first day of the Roman New Year and the first day of spring in the Roman calendar. On the other hand, we know from our English Lit class that King Julius Caesar met his doom on this day courtesy of an assassination by his closest allies because he didn’t take enough heed of what the soothsayers told him, “Beware of the Ides of March.”

I believe that we can empower ourselves to shape our own realities. Let’s just suppose that it will be very easy for us to do that in time, according to the rate of evolution of our spirit. Which reality, then, should we choose to believe? Spring, the birth of new things, flowers, hope – or discouragement, destruction, death? The first effects of the heightened energy we received at the start of the astrological year last March 20 will be determined by April 4 when there will be a Full Moon (a time of culmination) and a total lunar eclipse in the Libra-Aries axis. Simply put, two weeks from now, we might be winding up some push-pull issues between partnership and individuality. To those of us who are called to lead a solitary life, know that you don’t have to constantly defend your choice to anyone. Be creative, develop your one-line quip, and say it the next time somebody tactless brings up your single status. To those of us who are called into partnership, though, whether in a business or personal sense, maybe this marks the time to embrace the two-heads (and/or two-hearts)-are-better-than-one concept. Why struggle? This period may herald the final silencing of that voice that told us we weren’t good enough to be loved, and it can bring a new and long-lasting healing of even unacknowledged wounds deep within our psyche.

Speaking of healing: March 30 of every year happens to be National Doctors Day in the USA. Observances of this event, as promoted by Ms. Eudora Brown Almond from Winder, GA, date back to March 30, 1933, the first time general anesthesia was used in surgery. The first official celebration of National Doctors Day was in 1991. So during this period, I humbly urge you to take the time to express your appreciation for the doctors in your lives. Theirs is a difficult yet rewarding calling. Grateful patients like us are actually a big reason why they went into Medicine in the first place. Our doctors simply want to know that they are making a difference in our lives through their service, competence, and compassion. The physician’s motto is to “first do no harm.” Maybe the patient’s motto for National Doctors Day should be to “first thank your doctor for everything she/he has done.”

Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567, M-F 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com

“Of what does spring season remind you?” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Mar. 18-24, 2015; page A7)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona

For the week of March 18-24, 2015


What the beginning of spring reminds us of depends, in part, upon the associations we have made throughout the years based on our philosophical orientation, personal memories, and cultural traditions. For an astrologer like me, for instance, I associate the first day of spring this year, March 20, 2015, at 3:45 pm PDT, with “International Astrology Day,” or the start of the astrological New Year, when the Sun enters zero degrees Aries in the tropical zodiac. This year, March 20 brings the spring equinox, a new moon, and a total solar eclipse. Plenty of heavenly happenings for every cosmic enthusiast!

For a master gardener like my mother, spring’s presence begins to be felt when her plum, apple, and cherry blossoms burst into brilliant flower. Complying with the drought regulations in place these days in Northern California, my Mom does not use a garden hose to water her valued trees and plants. What she does is to save the water from washing dishes and clothes into pails. Then she uses the old-fashioned “tabo” (dipper) to scoop the water from the pails to nourish her garden. She would gladly tell anyone who asks, that contrary to common belief, even water already grayed with soap from the washer will not harm plants. As for the water from washing the dishes, the rice and food morsels in it either serve as fertilizer or food for the birds.

For my father, who loves to drive to quaint serendipitous locales with my mother, spring reminds him of so many road trips they have taken as a couple who have been married for almost 46 years now. They admit that sometimes they like being “lost” on the way to their real destination because that’s what makes them discover new cities and friendly people. The city of Jenner, Butano State Park in Pescadero, Half Moon Bay, and classic San Francisco come to mind. Spring also means “spring cleaning” to my very neat Virgo dad, although every weekend of the 52 weeks of the year is like spring cleaning to him. In fact, on weekends he never fails to vacuum the whole house and to clean all the nooks and crannies that “generalists” like me and my mother miss. Spring, for my Dad, is also his time to learn new songs – church songs since he is a cantor at All Saints’ Church in Hayward, and secular ones to add to his already extensive repertoire of English and Tagalog songs, not to mention songs in several Filipino dialects. He sings as well as plays the guitar. I remember my mother telling me that when she and my Dad were still neighbors in apartments that faced each other in Zurbaran (now Fugoso St. in Sta. Cruz, Manila), my Mom became secretly impressed when she overheard him singing “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles, accompanied with his guitar. She remembers telling herself, “Ah, hindi lang naman pala ito pretty boy. Malalim din.” (“Ah, he’s not just a pretty boy after all. He also has depth.”)

Of course, in the home country, the months of March to May are ones of blistering heat, driving Filipinos to swimming pools and beaches across the Philippines’ 7,107 islands. When I was in high school, summer meant time to read pocket books, secretly check out my crush next door, and exchange letters written in longhand with my best friend Ellen Gerance (now Bauto), sent by post complete with stamps. Somewhere during summer is the observance of the Lenten season. During Holy Week itself, I remember our Guadalupe BLISS community organizing a “pabasa” (sponsored reading) of the book on the passion and death of Jesus and Bible verses. The host family offered food and drinks while we teenagers and some “manangs” (elderly women) sang the five-line stanzas in a prescribed melody which we varied from page to page of the book of verses. This chanting could go on for 24 hours straight, so we took turns until the whole book is finished. What can I say? Life went along at a much sedate and simple pace back then. Now going back to spring season here in the good ol’ US of A. Against all odds, flowers are budding, crops are being harvested, and we are nourished by the bounty of the earth. How truly blessed we are to live in a land of plenty! “America the Beautiful,” anyone?

Back in the Philippines, did you know that there is such a Filipina who was named a National Scientist in 1997 due to her work in plant genetics? Dolores A. Ramirez, Ph.D., born Sept. 20, 1931 in Calamba, Laguna, obtained a BS in Agriculture (Major in Plant Breeding, minors in Botany and Agricultural Chemistry) from the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture in 1956. In 1958, she received her MS (Major in Cytogenetics, minor in Botany) from the University of Minnesota. Finally, she obtained her PhD (Major in Biochemical Genetics, minors in Plant Physiology and Plant Pathology), from Purdue University (Lafayette, Indiana) in 1963. Dr. Ramirez held important positions in both international and Philippine agricultural and faculty organizations, as well as honor societies. She is the recipient of many awards and recognitions, and she has authored or co-authored numerous books and scientific journal articles.

From the book, “National Scientists of the Philippines (1978-1998),” a publication of the Dept. of Science and Technology-National Academy of Science and Technology (DOST-NAST) Philippines (QC: Anvil Publishing, 2000), here is how Dr. Ramirez’s citation read when she was conferred the title of National Scientist by then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1997:

“Eminent Filipino geneticist, noted for her comprehensive researches on the cytogenetics of various Philippine crops; pioneering work on biochemical genetics, foremost of which are on the genetics of the makapuno mutant coconut, biochemical basis of disease resistance, gene introgression and molecular markers; and for significantly promoting the development of genetics in the Philippines and in many parts of the world where many of her students are zealously guiding it from the traditional school to the realm of molecular genetics. As a science educator, administrator, and policymaker, Dr. Ramirez has been at the forefront of national and international science and technology (S & T) policymaking and decision-making, and in institution-building for science and education.”

There you go – another feisty Filipina for you! You know, I’m really not updated about my alma mater, the Manila Science High School, located along Taft Avenue corner Padre Faura in Manila – but I wonder if the section names are still those of foreign scientists. May I humbly suggest that MaSci consider Filipino National Scientists’ last names as section names and then require the students to do research on the biography and achievements of their national scientist-section name? Just a thought.

Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com

“Presidents’ Day the Filipino way” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Feb. 18-24, 2015; page A7)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of February 18-24, 2015


Have you ever wondered why the USA celebrates Presidents’ Day and our home country, the Philippines, does not?

In 1885, US President Chester Arthur set the third Monday of February as “George Washington’s Birthday” to honor “the father of our country.” George Washington’s Birthday became a federal holiday. Much later on, in the 1960s, some reformers wanted to change the name of the holiday to “Presidents’ Day” to include Abraham Lincoln. That reformist move was defeated in Congress, so in fact, the original name of the holiday, George Washington’s Birthday, was actually unchanged. However, since that time, “Presidents’ Day” has been ushered into popular usage, appearing in official communications, advertisements, and event announcements. The reason for commemorating Presidents’ Day in the USA is to acknowledge and honor the contributions of the past Presidents to nation-building and democracy. Our current President, Barack Obama, is our 44th head of state and government.

Filipino-Americans who were born here have learned all about the American presidents in their grade school civics class. As a naturalized American, I would like to supplement the knowledge of my readers with some brief comments about the presidents of the Philippines. In this way, we as Filipino-Americans can also acknowledge and honor the contributions of the past Philippine presidents to nation-building and democracy. President Benigno (“Noynoy/PNoy”) Aquino III is the current and 15th President of the Philippines. But who was the first one? Who was next, and so on?

1. Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the revolution between America and Spain, was the first president of the Philippine Republic. He was appointed head of a barangay in the province of Cavite by the Spanish government at the age of 17, then later promoted to mayor. Aguinaldo faced some controversies during his day, but he was credited with having declared independence from Spain and the US on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite. The refusal of the Americans to recognize this 1898 independence resulted in the Philippine-American War. The Philippines started commemorating June 12 as its Independence Day during the term of the 9th president, Diosdado Macapagal, in the 1960s (more on him later). In his 30s, Aguinaldo retired and became a farmer. He died in the mid-1960s at 95 years old.

2. The second president of the Philippines is Manuel L. Quezon, also known as the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth. When the Philippine-American War broke out, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the revolutionary army, later to be promoted to captain. After the war, he practiced law in Baler, Tayabas (now Quezon) and by age 27 was elected governor. His political career eventually catapulted him to the position of resident commissioner in Washington DC. It was during his term that the Jones Act was passed in the US Congress, granting independence to the Philippines. Later on, he was part of a delegation that secured the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, setting 1946 as the year of independence. With the Act’s provision for a commonwealth government, Quezon was elected president until World War II began. He passed away in Saranac Lake, New York.

3. Jose P. Laurel was the president of the second Philippine Republic, or the head of the caretaker/puppet Japanese government. He has an advanced law degree from Yale University. He was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1934. He took office on Oct. 14, 1943 and left office on Aug. 17, 1945.

4. Sergio Osmeña was the second president of the Commonwealth. He was credited with leading the efforts toward rehabilitation of the country after the war. Under General Aguinaldo’s command, he was the staff courier and journalist.

5. Manuel Roxas was the last president of the Commonwealth and the first president of the Philippine Republic. He started as a law clerk of the Supreme Court and later became a governor of Capiz. He was one of the members who drafted the 1935 charter in the Constitutional Convention.

6. Elpidio Quirino, the second president of the Republic, left an important legacy in the form of the Minimum Wage Law and the institution of the Central Bank. The socio-economic measures he implemented during his term resulted in stabilizing the Philippine peso, balancing the national budget, and a notable improvement in Philippine economy.

7. Ramon Magsaysay was the third president of the Republic and many people say that he was the most popular. Magsaysay was a guerilla fighter during the Japanese invasion. After the liberation, Gen. Douglas MacArthur promoted him to the rank of major. Magsaysay will be remembered for opening Malacañang Palace to the people. He broke up big land estates, secured land settlements for the masses, and lowered the price of consumer goods. He died in a plane crash on March 17, 1957. He was 50 years old.

8. Carlos P. Garcia will be remembered for his “Filipino First Policy” and “Austerity Program,” putting the interests of Filipinos above those of foreigners and whichever party was in power. In 1971 he was the president of the Constitutional Convention called by Ferdinand Marcos. He died of a heart attack in Manila in 1971.

9. Diosdado Macapagal began his career as a head of a Department of Foreign Affairs panel that negotiated the transfer of the Turtle Islands from Great Britain to the Philippines. He was also known for his Land Reform Bill which freed farmers from large landowners. He also declared June 12 as Philippine National Independence Day.

10. Ferdinand E. Marcos was the first Philippine president to serve a second term. During his second term, he signed into law Proclamation 1081 declaring Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972. After a 20-year rule, Marcos and his followers had to leave the country following the EDSA Revolution in 1986.

11. Corazon C. Aquino was the seventh president of the Republic and the first woman in this position. Borne by the protests that followed the assassination of her husband Sen. Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino, Aquino won the snap elections between her and Marcos. The EDSA People Power Revolution on Feb. 22-25, 1986 held back the Marcos government’s troops from reaching the Ramos-Enrile breakaway group. Aquino’s troubled presidency was nevertheless remembered as a transition government of a country on its way to establishing democracy.

12. Fidel V. Ramos, the eighth president of the Republic, first served as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the Marcos government. Later on he became the Secretary of Defense under the Aquino administration.

13. Joseph E. Estrada (“Erap”), the ninth president of the Republic, became a film actor in his 20s and became a showbiz legend. Estrada ran for mayor in the municipality (now city) of San Juan from 1967, getting reelected until he served for a total of around 16 years. He was then elected senator, then vice-president, then president in 1998. After his involvement in a scandal, people staged another mass protest to oust him from power.

14. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is the daughter of former President Diosdado Macapagal and a former classmate of US President Bill Clinton. When she was still in the Senate, she made waves by working for the passage of bills that have powerful economic impact. She took office in 2001 and left office in 2010.

15. The contributions of current President of the Philippines, Benigno (Noynoy, PNoy) Aquino III, would still have to be determined by history in retrospect. Election year 2016 is coming up. I urge Filipinos in the home country to exercise their right to vote and to vote wisely.

Reference: King, J. “Great & Famous Filipinos,” Manila: Worldlink Books, 2002; Wikipedia.com; Goodsearch.com; http://www.philippine-history.org/

Photo by Mary Gow-2015. Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com

“Celebrating the Many Faces of Love” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Feb. 11-17, 2015, page A7)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona

For the week of Feb. 11-17, 2015


Valentine’s Day is coming up this week. Years ago, when I was still a college student in the Philippines, a classmate told me that his high school friend, whose father is in the motel business, revealed that motel business is slowest on Holy Week and at its peak on Valentine’s Day. I hope that you will not be swept up by the fake sentimentality in advertisements by companies that just want you to part with your money. Their message is that without their product, your Valentine’s Day celebration will not be complete.

We know better. We know that love is celebrated every day – not just once a year – in considerate words and thoughtful gestures that mean a lot to our loved ones. This column discussed the 5 love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch, developed by Dr. Gary Chapman originally for couples. He has since expanded the applicability of this system to singles, children, teenagers, and co-workers, among others. The key, as we know, is to determine which language your partner speaks and which language yours is – there could be a primary and a secondary language. When I took the test at the back of the book, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,” I learned that my primary love language is “quality time” and my secondary one is “physical touch.”

However, we know that the initial spark of passion, no matter how intense or all-consuming, gradually eventually turns cool. There must be a hardier basis for the relationship for it to last. I’ve heard it said before that love is not a feeling but rather a commitment. Especially for those of you who are in binding unions like marriage, you know that there are days of blah and days of hurrah. But what keeps you together through the years?

So I ask my first role models of a lasting marriage: my own parents, together for almost 46 years now. What’s their secret? Hearing them say it, it’s a matter of contributing one’s strengths into the relationship: affection, laughter, music, cooking, conversation, and the simple enjoyment of companionable silence during their road trips to nature spots. I could point out further that, since my Mom is a Pisces and my Dad is a Virgo, they are actually astrological opposites, and you know what they say about opposites, right? Sometimes it just boils down to basic chemistry. You either have it with this person or you don’t.

That’s one of the things that my good friend, Dr. JR Gatpolintan, would say. Just this January, he was named by his peers as one of the best Infectious Diseases specialists in the San Francisco East Bay area. (Check out the January 2015 issue of the San Francisco Magazine.) He was my batch mate and seatmate during the first two years of Medicine proper at the UP College of Medicine. He was and continues to be my good friend. He is now happily married to his husband, Rich Forhez, who is a Czech-American businessman. According to Doc JR, what they have in common are their sensitivity/empathy, their love languages, and their lust for life. Multiply these into maybe half a million households of either married or unmarried same-sex couples (www.census.gov). Sure, they’re in the minority in the big picture – but can we really legislate who gets to love and be loved? Are we here to judge each other? Come on. As humans, regardless of gender, don’t we have a basic right to love, understanding that it also comes with responsibilities?

There are many faces of love indeed. I know a heterosexual couple who have been together for more than 15 years, but they have not considered getting married or having children. What’s notable, of course, is the fact that their “live-in” arrangement has lasted more than the average USA marriage that according to statistics lasts about eight years before divorce occurs. They have met in high school, grew graciously together through the years, and now in their mid-30s remain loving, supportive, and appreciative of each other.

I know of three women, all married to their respective husbands, whose married lives undergo the usual ups and downs, but who long to give a different kind of love: the love of a mother for a child. Please forgive me for mentioning them again here in my column in this way. I will continue praying for these friends of mine because I know that they will make excellent mothers and because children who are wanted are gifts from God. To be fair, I think that their respective husbands would make good fathers, too. I just wonder why it’s easier for some women to conceive, i.e., “nahakbangan lang, buntis na,” when some of them don’t even want to keep their unborn child. Now take my friends who are still childless after so many years together. There’s a cosmic injustice there somewhere, but again, who am I to judge? I will just continue to pray for them and support what’s best for them. When the Divine Wow grants my prayers – for them, for you, for myself, for all of us – that would make me a very happy camper indeed!

I’m old-fashioned when it comes to love. If I were the President of the Universe, I’d distribute LOVE across the Earth and the stars and lots of it, with joyous abandon, not caring who or what is touched by love’s magic. Let us not limit the celebration of love to just one day. Let us instead do little acts of love and kindness for each other every day – because love is not just a feeling but a commitment. Now here’s a little plug from my Mother, who is a Master Gardener: instead of giving someone cut flowers, buy them a potted plant that can flourish in the soil long after the occasion has passed. This would count toward your love-and-kindness points for your loved one, and your sphere of influence, great or small, would become all the better for it.

Photo by Mary Gow-2015. Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com