Personal stuff

Losing 11 mothers a day

I’m fortunate and blessed to have my wife not to be one of 11 Filipina mothers dying daily due to pregnancy complications. After giving birth to our fourth and last baby, my wife and I decided that she be ligated. Why, for three deliveries, she has underwent life-threatening stages like post-eclampsia and high blood pressure. The decision was not that difficult to make. Particularly on my part.

The feeling of a husband waiting outside the delivery room fidgety is nothing compared to the sacrifice of his birthing wife. Good thing my wife got to understand the worries I have everytime she is brought to the delivery room. “God, please keep my wife and our baby safe. God, if you have to choose one alive, let it be my wife.” This prayer became became more fervent. Since God is good, four times did my wife overcome the suffering, with our babies bouncing like our little angels.

Of course, other reasons for the ligation are purely economic. One baby every barely three years means frequent emptying of our pockets and divided attention to kids. And I can’t imagine how much more if we had more than four.

But personal aspect aside, the figures are pretty revealing. What is more shocking is that high maternal mortality rate is most prevalent in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This while infanticipating mothers in the National Capital Region enjoy good facilities the most. I think that this problem warrants an immediate action on the part of the government. Citizens, women and men alike, must also do their share by holding education sessions on responsible parenthood and campaigning for pregnant-women-friendly government services.

Dread to Die A Young Daddy

I went along with colleagues to the wake of husband of Ka Celia Eugenio, our farmer constituent. That was at 2 am, yes, today.

Since yesterday, death has been a usual topic among colleagues. Francis “Kiko” M has died of leukemia. A woman farmer leader (Ka Monina Magsico) had died of tuberculosis. Then, the news of Ka Celia’s husband dying of heart attack.

Can’t help but feel the fear of dying young. Kiko did at 44. Ka Celia’s husband also did at 52. I am 41 and I still feel young.

Ka Celia recounted the days leading to the demise of her husband Ka Rudy (April 22, 1956-March 1, 2009). He complained of perennial pains in different parts of the body like he had sprains. The pain moved from one site to another.

I shuddered because the story prior to the death resembles mine. In fact, I always feel sprain in my left hand for an unknown reason. Chest pains (which I always dismiss as gas-related) are perennial as well. Everytime I sleep in the night, I make a sign of the cross and say a very brief prayer: “Lord, thanks for the day and I look forward to a great day tomorrow.” The next morning, I immediately thank and praise Him for making me alive and continue life however cruel it is sometimes.

Still, the fear is there. My reason is that my wife and I are raising a young family. Our kids are 9, 7, 4 and 1. I wish to see our kids through college. I even wish to bring my daughter to the wedding altar someday.

Yes, I fear of dying a young daddy. But to God I rest my life. He knows best.

Cluttered desktop: Effect of ‘paperless’ mindset

For workaholic paperless souls like me, chances are that their physical desktops would look like mayhem. I’m an OC for making my computer desktop nifty all the time, with a corresponding efficient system for storing and retrieving files. Thus, my real office desktop has suffered for not being taken care of.

A self-professed environmentalist who cares for the trees, I have this propensity to have every important document that comes my way scanned right on the dot. And what happens to the scanned copy? File it away anywhere it could land.

But I do confess that it’s an unacceptable and mechanical mindset. “Orderliness is next to Godliness” still lingers in my mind. And I resolve to walk that adage.

Teethlessly restless

Just learned this lesson on the Day 1 of Mekong ICT Camp. In front of a public, it’s not enough that you’ve got a great presentation and prepared mind; you’ve got to have your dentures on.

The morning session of Track 3:  Computer Networking went fine, almost without any glitch. I think I gave justice to the introduction part. (I was overjoyed because I was able to pick up something from the intro Impress presentation to apply to the hands-on exercise later: I naturally was able to determine with the participants the types [note the ‘s’] of computer network that we were going to set up [scale: LAN; connection method: ethernet; architecture: peer-to-peer; topology: fully-connected; and protocol: TCP/IP].)

But, yesterday, I was taking my lunch together with several participants when something horrible happened. My upper denture cracked into two pieces cross-wise. It would have been OK had the crack been length-wise, meaning that there would have been some teeth remaining in front. But almost the entire frontal teeth got lost. It was the fault of the half-cooked vegetable that I found hard to bite into pieces. Ah, no. It was me. I forgot that my dentures are already weak (after about 10 years of use). I should have been extra careful.

When that happened, my blood pressure shot up. I felt crappy and frenetic. I didn’t know what to do. I went to a CR and wished that I’d stay inside like forever until fairy godmother appeared and granted my wish for a repaired denture. My first recourse was to hunt Klaikong and seek help. I wanted to rush to a clinic, which he was able to grant. Good thing he was able to convince his director to bring me to Phiathai Hospital in another place of Chonburi.

While I was in the hospital’s dental clinic (which lasted over two hours while trying to make out Thai teledrama shown on overhead TV), two things kept on taunting me: The cost of the denture’s repair and the afternoon session which I should have facilitated. I also should have learned from the specific part on thin client setup, which my teammate Somsak handled.

I ask you: Can you stand talking to people without that pearly enamel set in your mouth? Because I’m not sure whether your public would stand looking at you looking like doing a stand-up comedy act.

Thanks to the kindness of  Klaikong’s Director and friend volunteer, I am now back in my dentally-complete self. I’ve been talking to people and facilitating sessions with a teethy smile.

Virtual beer for the soul

“Want a beer?”

This invite from friend Arnold T. has been sitting in the queue of requests on my Facebook account. In fact, I also got a couple of “booze mails” already which I just ignored (sorry to friends who sent them) and failed to send virtual drinks to others as a way to “pay it forward”.

But that invite from Arnold is still there. I just feel amused at the sight of his avatar. He looks like a genius monk (baldheaded and wearing eyeglasses) with the neck of a bottle of Red Horse touching his forehead. That reminds me of my personality back in my college days. I was a person who could not last being a religious person in the midst of a mundane world of Quiapo, where MLQU was located. Love for beer and company of barkada, the very precursors of over-indulgence, were the main factors why I couldn’t even pretend to be like an ascetic. I have to admit that I was heavily influenced by fellas (some of them better off) to get hooked to mundane stuff like being in drink binges. I also have to admit that, in turn, I was an influence to others my junior.

The only consolation I had (for failing to be a faith worker) back then was my being a social activist. I spent two years in college (and then many years in my NGO work since then) being part of the larger community that wanted real better change in society. Guilt of not loving God eloped me from then on.

The love for beer extended to my being part of the country’s labor. Over ten years ago, I made it a habit to frequent a jazz bar in Malate after work, drinking at least four bottles of San Miguel Beer pale pilsen. Sometimes I did it with co-workers, sometimes I did it alone. (I developed love for jazz along with my addiction to drinking.)

I tend to believe that drinking beer with your clique is both a social function and a personal pleasure. It eases tension accrued from work and at the same time reinforces one’s sense of belongingness. But (and this is a big but), when done on a frequent basis and in an excessive manner, the social and personal functions turn into life’s dysfunctions, like work tardiness and health problems.

This is a hard lesson I got from decades of making romance with beer. I guess that my being a father since 1998 has also contributed to my dwindling passion for it. I’ve had to scrimp on my hard-earned money to ensure steady provision for my family. That means that I only drank (or threw drink parties) when there were reasons to celebrate like my kids’ first birthdays and baptismals. And the last of the factors is my health. Predisposed as I am to heart and liver diseases, I have to fight off the temptation to engage in a (heavy) drink now that I’ve already reached 40. (They say life begins at 40.)

Last week, I was able to track KSA-based Larry W., my best pal during my third and fourth years in college, through Friendster. He had been my great influence when it comes to drinking lots of beer like it would run out of supply tomorrow and forever. He asked me over email to see him in December this year and engage in a binge like we did in college. I kiddingly said yes.

OK now. I just ignored Arnold T’s beer invite just because he did it in the spirit of Octoberfest. It’s already November now. But perhaps, when I get another round of virtual booze requests from him and other Facebookers, I’d just oblige. Because, however vicarious, virtual drinks taste like food for the souls of the physically-challenged beer lovers.