Watching CNN at 3 am today, I was startled to see that the number of babies affected by the tainted milk produced in China had ballooned to 13,000!

The figure could still rise in the coming days.

There are no words enough to describe my outrage.  I could feel for the parents who are struggling to make sense of this right now.

I pray that the Chinese government, after that impressive display of the OLYMPICS would also show an OLYMPIC-SIZED efforts in treating these babies for free.

God, take care of the precious little ones.  Rescue them. Those babies who may be very far from medical facilities and whose parents do not have any means to have them treated.  Lord God, perform your miracle in China.  Hear the cries of the parents and the little ones.

Forgive the people whose greed significantly affected the innocent ones.

Dear God, you know each one by name.  Reach out to them as a FATHER, that only YOU, our Divine Father ever could. Embrace each one and whisper your healing words to them.

In Jesus’ name

AMEN

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Last night, the second news report that really got my attention was the P15B that 6 RP banks have lost due to the financial collapse of the Lehman Brothers.

I read from the Philippine Star yesterday the headline indicating the amount.  6 RP banks ( three were named and the other 3 were not mentioned) who lost a total of P15B.

What really got me mad when a Malacanang Palace (our version of the WHITE HOUSE) was quoted as saying “yes, we lost… but it was just an insignificant amount…)

I could not believe what I heard!

An insignificant amount?

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Memo: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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Live rates at 2008.09.19 02:04:08 UTC

15,000,000,000.00 PHP

=

320,649,971.01 USD

Philippines Pesos United States Dollars
1 PHP = 0.0213767 USD 1 USD = 46.7800 PHP

Almost $321M!!! you call that insignificant amount???

The last time I checked here are the facts in this country:

1. Majority of the people in the Philippines are not eating 3 full meals a day.

2. Majority of the people are under-employed.

3. Working overseas seems to be the only hope for the majority of the families here because the opportunities are no longer here.

4. The wars in Mindanao have demolished whatever anti-poverty gains the government has achieved the past several years.

P15B …. that is beyond what anyone could save up for in honest and truthful employment in the country.

For a government that still had to really explain all the scandals and anomalous transactions regarding the proposed broadband internet, access roads that were excessively charged by the hundreds of millions, by the amount of money that we are losing that should be benefitting the whole country, yes, by their reckoning P15B would be insignificant.

Tell that to the families who eke out a living. Students who worry if they can still pay their fees so they can take the exams. Mothers with nursing children who are wondering where and how to buy milk. Parents who are wondering how to feed their children. Employees in both private and public sectors who are wondering how they will pay their bills. Of thousands of people who are lining up at DSWD centers for any form of assistance.  Tell that to the thousands of families displaced by the wars in Mindanao and the families affected by the ship that sunk off the island of Romblon. ( the ship is still there with its toxic cargo).

P15B is more almost 4x the DSWD budget for 2008!

Oh no, please call it anything – but please do not call it insignificant.

To call it an insignificant amount is an insult to the millions of Filipinos who could have benefited if the money was theirs.

To call it insignificant was not only insulting.

It was revolting.

The news about the tainted milk in China was really horrendous.  I was tearing up when the news indicated that the 4th baby had died after being fed that tainted milk.

The news also said that 6,000 more are being treated right now.

I could just shake my head in total un-belief.

I am not sure who the real culprits are – but most of the times, when products are released without following strict health restrictions – it would be easy to find that GREED plays a major part.

When real estate companies in the Philippines would pay DENR to declare what used to be agricultural lands as industrial that can be converted to residential or other things beside agricultural, the bottom line is greed.

When major landslides and erosions take place because all the trees are gone.

When retail stores hide the expiry dates of their products and still put them on the shelves, that is greed.

Everywhere, it can be seen.  It can be felt. Even inside our homes.  Sadly even inside our hearts.

Greed affects us all.  And in this case, the innocent ones are the ones losing their lives because of greed.

God, please rescue the little children.  They are in pain and some are dying.  Forgive us all for our greed (in whatever way, shape, degree or form) and cause us to repent ( to change our perspective and act according to that changed and renewed perspective).

Reach out and rescue the little ones in China.

In Jesus’ name

AMEN

The other day, I told my wife how this blog generated a lot of hits.  I wondered if the phenomenon is quite common to all dogs.  This article would somehow end up as one of the TOP POSTS almost every week.

https://compassionateconsiderations.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/lessons-from-the-swollen-discomfort-of-sgt-beans/

The article though was not about the medical help – but the processing of thoughts after the whole experience.

I thought I would share some more helpful things now for the dog owners.

So if your dog (in my case, Sgt Beans, my black lab) is having swelling on its private parts – maybe you can consider what I have learned from my research and from what the vet had told me.

1. I did not take action right away because I thought it was just one of those things that will go away anyway.  SO WHEN YOU notice something that is not right, INSPECT. LOOK and ASK questions.

2. I did my research when the swelling was a lot greater. I could have saved Sgt Beans from more pain had I acted right away.

3. I researched through the internet – and GOT SCARED BECAUSE diagnosis is more important. I was inundated with WHAT IF questions.  One vet student mentioned a virus that could infect humans. I researched that and got afraid because it said, it is dangerous when it comes in contact with human skin.

4. Yes it is going to be costly.  But PETS like children are costly anyway.  I tell myself that is ok because “Sgt Beans won’t have to go to college anyways..”

5. If your vet is like a good friend, maybe you can work out a reasonable payment plan.

6. Sgt Beans was injected twice on that visit. Then I was told to give him antibiotics (the same antibiotics we take as people).

7. The antibiotic cream helped a lot too.

8. CARE FOR THE DOG:  Sgt Beans likes water a lot.  I just have a tub that we fill up for his needs esp when the temperature outside is really high.  MAKE SURE THAT THE WATER IS CLEAN. THROW the water after one using.  I thought I could save more by reusing it for BEANS. BUT NO.  The bacteria may have already infested that water – and do not allow your dog to lie down on the tub using the old and already dirtied water.

9.  SGT Beans would always mark certain areas (pee certain areas)… and sometimes these areas are places he considers his haven as well esp when the sun is OUT.  Under the bushes, next to a tree etc.  When the vet said that he may have been lying down on his urine, I vehemently said NO because Beans has a house and the house is somewhat elevated.  A couple of days later, I realized that there are at least 2 areas where Beans would mark most of the time. He would also lie down on those areas.  It had been raining and the mud, mixed with what used to have been dried urine, have stuck on his soft testicle skin covering. In time, the bacteria had eaten away the soft covering.

10. Maybe you could pour hot water on those areas where your dog marks the most. Lessen the bacteria from cultivating.

11. Every time Beans has his bath, or his play in the tub – I always make sure that his balls are wiped dry with a clean towel.  CLEAN TOWEL.  When it rains and he plays outside, I make sure I dry that part of his body before sending him back to his house.

12. Carefully apply the antibiotics that the vet will prescribe. Make it as pleasant as possible.

13. Give positive reinforcements before, during and after placing the medications.

14. It was easier to apply the medications when Beans are slightly pressed against the wall (on all fours)…

I hope these things are helpful.  It took less than a week for me to see major improvement on his privates.  Up to now, I still reinforce the command “raise leg…” and he would give me access to check, to wipe , inspect and to just make sure that he is okay down there.

From one hurricane to the next

September 18, 2008

We are just beginning to see the aftermath of “Ike” – and even before we could fully assess the damage and the dramatic stories of the people who survived, financial hurricanes were blowing Wall Street. Reverberations of these financial meltdowns will have its effect in markets overseas.

Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and then the AIG (my Philippine insurance company is a subsidiary of AIG!) that needed BAILOUT.

What was touted to be the MOST STABLE among them needed an $85B infusion. I could not at the top of my head count how many zeroes you write after $85 much less comprehend what it all meant.

While everything may seem to be going back to normal, ( if we could still ever go back to that one, yeah) I am beginning to wonder about all the other banks (CITIGROUP and others). It was not just the reliability of the levees that were tested. It was not just the financial powerhouses that are being tested. It seems like ANYTHING that would claim to be STRONG, RELIABLE, FORMIDABLE are being tested to its very core.

In the global economy, climate change, OFW migration, corruption that are undetected to the highest levels, dirty political campaigns, showdown of powerful countries, continued bombings in Iraq and the unchecked wars in Afghanistan… NOTHING in this world is ever sure.  The very core of our belief and foundations are being shaken.

How about you?  How is your life? How are you doing?

If your life is like a small raft sailing a raging ocean, you are not alone.

It does not need an IKE in our lives to render our foundations, morale and sure-footing in crumbles. Sometimes it takes an unexpected call. Or you were waiting for the call that never happened. Maybe you just touched the wall of your job that said DEAD END, or you see the value of your hard-earned money dwindling before your eyes as you stare at the prices at the gas pumps, or you sigh at the end of another day and wonder “when will it be over?”. Or the relationship you cherished are now being thrown back at you like a used rag. Or the nights are getting shorter and the days are getting longer as you wait for a son to come home.

You are not alone.

I wish I have some magnificent words that will act like a balm over your searing pain.

I wish I could tell you when all these will end.

One thing I do know, is that all of these will also end for you.

Just like Hurricane Ike, the stormy weather will also pass.

The sun will shine again as you mend the broken panes of your windows to the world.

Hang in there.

It will be over soon.

More than 2 Fridays ago, I was able to visit our small Church in Infanta, Quezon.  I did not expect what I was going to see because it had been months since my last visit there.  The Church planter who took care of this small church or mostly women, is not in the country anymore, but still tending the flock somewhere in the Middle East.

It was more than 4 hours away so we took off early.

When we finally got to visit them, I was blown away by what I saw.  They already have their small church hall from a converted small shack that used to house the rice drying equipment.

They showed me behind the curtain another rundown building which they said “is very  nice for our church building extension…”

It was very encouraging.  The drive to Infanta was very refreshing with the view of the forest, the mountain and once in Quezon, the calm blue waters.  Several years back, Infanta and its nearby towns saw the most tragic flashfloods that ever happened in recent history when in just 2 hours, rain that was equivalent to about 27 days of usual rain was dumped one afternoon.  The water rose and came flashing down the mountains bringing the mud with cut lumber (illegal loggers were very much involved) raged through their towns.

We gathered in a small circle and I asked them to share their stories. They started sharing one by one how God sustained them in recent months. How the small chapel was a reminder to them of the goodness and graciousness of our Father.

One of the sisters suffered a stroke and it was quite a challenge to understand when she spoke.  But one can clearly hear her say “Praise the Lord…”

The women were changing. After their services on sundays, they would visit other members who were not able to attend. They have started praying for each other as well. I noticed how they care for one another now.  The husbands (3 of them) were starting to attend.  One sister who used to be so shy, immediately led in the singing of praise songs a cappella while directing them to a white cheesecloth were the words of the songs were plaintively written.

Smiles after the sharing time.

Smiles after the sharing time.

The snacks served were my favorite.  “Bilo-bilo” with langka served to perfection.  They also gave me a buko juice ( young fresh coconut) and when I reached for it, it was quite cold.

We drove away after about 4 hours feeling very refreshed.  I did not expect a vibrant community of believers.  I was ready to meet a group of women who were discouraged, downtrodden and were just about ready to quit on their faith. But I encountered exactly the opposite.

Posing with the Infanta members before our 4-hour drive back

Posing with the Infanta members before our 4-hour drive back

I thanked God for the many men and women He had used to raise up this small faith community.

Thank you God.  Your faithfulness is truly amazing.

Update on Dad Fen

September 9, 2008

I visited DadFen last August 29th. It was my first visit since I last saw him before the summer camp.  I must admit it took awhile because after all the summer camp activities, we had to prepare for the visit of 14 people from the US for their short term missions exposure here.

But to be more honest, it was emotionally difficult to visit someone when you do not feel emotionally strong as well.  But last August 29th, I visited him because 1. It is long overdue and 2. I did not want to miss greeting him personally on his 77th birthday.

He was not expecting me as he was being dressed up.  One of the daughters was going to drive him to a nearby commercial place because he had something he wanted to get.

It was good seeing him and Mom.  The toil of cancer was very visible because he lost a lot of weight. It was a weaker Dad Fen who greeted me.  We sat down together and I tried to initiate some palliative care conversation with him.  “There is no question that my life belongs to Him.  And God could choose to heal me or He could choose not to.  But if He chooses the latter, I pray that the suffering will not be too long…”

I quietly nodded and took note of that prayer request.

DadFen was busy trying to finish his photo album of his last trip to Europe. He was busy writing the names of the people in those pictures and the reason he wanted to go to a bookstore was because he needed to get a filler so it could accommodate more pictures.

It was a simple task, but with the waning strength and accompanying pain (reduced by morphine) it could become a much heavier task than what it seemed.  I sat down with him and for the first time ( could also be my last chance) I went through each of the pictures with him.

Unhurriedly, I asked about each of the photos and the stories behind.

His face would light up as he would remember a particular detail, a person, an event, a transportation challenge among other things.  We went through all of them.  I wanted to celebrate with him those 3-month sojourn to Europe.  In a way, I wanted to affirm in a very small way, that life has been really good and those pictures were only able to capture some of those beautiful life moments.

Before leaving, I asked if I could pray with him.  Halfway through, I felt Mommy standing next to us joining in our prayers.  It reminded me of the time when I prayed for my grandmother in 1999. (Will blog about it sometime).

When it was over, I hugged him as he thanked me for the prayer. Mommy kissed me with a “Darling, thank you for the visit… and for remembering his birthday…”

I walked back to our home.  It was a little past noon and the sun was at its brightest.  I was squinting my eyes not primarily because the sunlight was too bright, but because halfway through my walk, tears were blinding my vision.

“Be very merciful Lord.  Be very gentle… thank you for holding the life of DadFen. Thank you that we can also be assured of your gentleness when we become really weak.  Thank you for your comforting provision. Thank you for the people who love him and are celebrating his life with them.  Lord, be it unto Him according to your tender mercies and kindheartedness…  give him the strength to finish his photo albums…”

In Jesus’ name,

AMEN