WHAT, ENABLER SI TATAY DIGONG KO?!!!

A lot of people are asking, “Ano ba ang ibig sabihin ng enabler?” “Bakit ninyo inaakusahan si Tatay Digong na isang enabler?” “Bakit isinisisi nyo yata sa kanya ang halos lahat ng mga hindi magagandang nangyayari ngayon sa bansa natin?”

Ganito kasi ‘yun.

Kapag ang Tatay mo ay nagsasawalang-kibo, nagkikibit-balikat, o nagbubulag-bulagan kapag may ginawa kang kasalanan; kung siya ay natatawa o dinidipensahan at binibigyan ka pa ng reward kapag ikaw ay isinusumbong sa kanya ng iyong kapatid; or worst, kung siya mismo ang nag-uudyok sa iyo na gumawa ng mali; masasabi nating “enabler” ang Tatay mo.

Masahol pa siya sa kunsintidor dahil nagbubuyo at nangkakayag pa siya tungo sa tiwali at maling daan.

Ang Tatay Digong mo, sa simula pa lang, ay inencourage na ang mga pulis, pati na rin tayong mga sibilyan, to “go ahead and kill drug addicts.” Ano ang naging resulta? Kaliwa’t kanan ang naging pagpatay sa mga suspected drug users —hindi lang ng mga pulis during legitimate police operations, kundi maging ng mga riding-in-tandem vigilantes, hitmen, at scalawags. Since he took office in July 2016, nasa 27,000 drug-related killings na ang naitatala sa bansa, ayon sa CHR.

Nag-release si Tatay Digong mo ng list of government officials na di-umano ay involved sa drugs, without filing a single case before the court nor presenting any clear and substantial evidence. Sa ngayon, 12 Mayors at 6 Vice-Mayors na ang pinapatay since Duterte won the presidency.

Winarningan ni Tatay Digong mo ang mga magbubukid against occupying unused and barren lands. Nagbanta pa nga siya na babarilin sila kapag sumuway sa kanya. Ayon sa Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), 172 farmers na ang pinapatay sa ilalim ng administrasyong ito. Mostly, ang mga biktima ay mga magbubukid na nagtatanim ng mga gulay, prutas, at root crops sa mga lupang nakatiwangwang lang during Tiempo Muerto (o yung panahon na wala silang trabaho dahil sa dead season) upang may maipakain sila sa kanilang mga pamilya.

Sa simula pa lang, ipinakita na ni Tatay Digong mo sa kaniyang mga salita at gawa, kung gaano kaliit ang tingin nya sa mga babae. Grabe ang pambabastos at pambabalahura nya sa mga anak ni Eba —mula sa rape jokes, catcalling, taking pride in his womanizing, paghalik sa female supporters nya in public, degrading women and belittling their competence and capability, pagsasabing foreign women have a queer odor, equating women’s usefulness to their vagina, pagmamalaki na minomolestiya niya dati ang kanilang kasambahay, at kung anu-ano pang kahalayan. Ang mga sipsip sa gobyerno, syempre pa, ay magpapa-impress. Follow the leader kasi ang peg nila. Kaya naglipana ang mga sexists, misogynists, bigots at chauvinistic pigs ngayon, pati na rin ang kanilang mga apologists. Nandyan sina Salvador Panelo, Vit Aguirre, Harry Roque, Martin Andanar, Pantaleon Alvarez, Reynaldo Umali, Manny Pacquiao, Tito Sotto, mga pro-admin bloggers, at marami pang iba.

Iniutos ni Tatay Digong mo sa ating mga sundalo na, if they should encounter female insurgents, dapat barilin nila ang mga ito sa vagina. Pwede rin daw silang mang-rape, at sasagutin niya hanggang tatlo. Sa mga pronouncements na ‘yun, he openly encouraged violence against women. Ayon sa Center for Women’s Resources, at least 56 cops ang na-involve na sa abuses against women from July 2016 to October 2018.

Walang tigil ang pagbanat ni Tatay Digong mo sa simbahang Katolika — mula sa mga pari at obispo hanggang kay Pope, sa mga santo, at mismong sa Diyos. Gago raw at lasenggo ang mga santo, at istupido naman daw ang sinasamba nating Diyos. In a period of 6 months, mula December 2017 hanggang June 2018, tatlong pari na ang pinapatay habang ang isa ay severely injured, ayon sa CBCP. Sabi nga sa isang pastoral letter na inilabas ng Simbahan, “they are killing our flock, they are killing us, the shepherds, and they are killing our faith.”

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Photo credit to the owner

During the campaign pa lang, sinasabi na ni Tatay Digong mo na papayagan nya ang paglilibing sa bangkay ng diktador na si Ferdinand Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani. Sa kabila ng malinaw na narrative ng kasaysayan na nagpapatunay sa pang-aabuso ng mga Marcoses sa kapangyarihan at sa pandarambong nila sa kaban ng bayan during their tyrannical rule, itinuturing ni Tatay Digong mo si Marcos na “best President ever” at pinupuri ang kanyang Martial Law. Ilang buwan pa lang sa Malacañang ang tatay mo noong Nov 2016 nang inilibing sa LNMB si Marcos sa pamamagitan ng isang tahimik at pasikretong seremonya. Ang mga statements nya rin ukol sa mga Marcoses ang nagpapalakas ng loob sa mga historical revisionists na patuloy na baluktutin ang kasaysayan at magpakalat ng kasinungalingan patungkol sa Martial Law. Ngayon, mahigit dalawang buwan na since inilabas ng Sandiganbayan ang verdict nito kaugnay ng graft charges against Imelda Marcos. She was found guilty of 7 counts of corruption. The involved amount is $200 million, at ang mga kaso were filed noong 1991 pa. We all know, however, na sa ilalim ni Duterte, hindi papayagang makulong ang biyuda ni Apo.

Paulit-ulit na sinasabi ni Tatay Digong mo during his campaign sorties na, should he get elected, he will release GMA. Barely a month after he stepped into the Palace, ibinasura ng Supreme Court ang kasong plunder against Congresswoman Arroyo. Kasabay ng pagpapalaya sa kanya from her hospital arrest ay ang pagbabasura nya rin sa kanyang wheelchair at neck brace. Two months after, pinalaya rin si Jinggoy Estrada sa bisa ng bail — this, despite the non-bailable nature of the plunder charges against him. Acquitted at pinalaya na rin si Bong Revilla. Kasalukuyang namamayagpag ngayon si GMA bilang House Speaker, samantalang ang tatlong ex-Senators na involved sa multibillion-peso pork barrel scam ay nag-file na ng kanilang COC para sa senatorial race next year.

Hindi maikakaila ang pagkiling ni Tatay Digong mo sa China. Sino ang makakalimot sa statement nyang, “There are now three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia”? At ang biro nyang, “If you want, just make us a province”? Under his administration, malakas ang loob na sinasakop ng China ang mga teritoryo natin sa West Philippine Sea. Nababaon tayo ngayon sa multibillion “friendly” loans sa China. Pinapaburan ang mga Chinese contractors na banned na sa ibang bansa due to unscrupulous business dealings and transactions. Malayang nakakapagtrabaho rito ang mahigit 3 million Chinese nationals na nagiging kakumpitensya pa ng di-mabilang na mga Pinoy na walang hanapbuhay. Nakakalusot sa BOC ang tone-toneladang illegal drugs at iba pang smuggled goods from China. Isa sa mga consultants ni Duterte ay Chinese. Madalas na may nagda-dock na Chinese military ship at nagla-land na Chinese aircraft sa Davao. Binu-bully sa WPS ang ating Navy at mga mangingisda. Ngayon, inaangkin na rin ng China ang ating Benham Rise. At naaprubahan na ang Chinese government-owned telecom company na mag-operate sa bansa. Ito ay posibleng maging malaking threat sa ating national security. Isang araw, magigising na lang tayo as the next Venezuela sa kamay ng mapanupil na China.

Ugali ni Tatay Digong mo ang labelling. Tinatawag niyang Dilawan ang kanyang mga kritiko, at Reds ang mga taga-suporta ng makakaliwang pwersa. Sa social media, paboritong target ng mga trolls at DDS ang mga “dilawan.” Samantala, because of redtagging, marami nang human rights advocates ang pinapatay. According to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), si Atty. Ben Ramos, isang kilalang human rights lawyer at peasant advocate, ang 34th lawyer killed under this administration.

Kilala si Tatay Digong mo for consistently lambasting media outfits for their critical reporting. Binabantaan nya ang mga ito with “exposés,” investigations and legal cases, coverage ban, at possible shutdown. As a result, napilitang ibenta ng Prieto family ang kanilang majority stake sa Philippine Daily Inquirer kay Ramon Ang, kilalang malapit na kaibigan at campaign contributor ni Duterte. Ang Rappler ay patuloy na ginigipit hanggang ngayon, samantalang ang ABS-CBN ay tinatakot na hindi bibigyan ng renewal of franchise kapag ito ay nag-expire in 2020. Tinutuya rin ng mga DDS at trolls ang mga myembro ng media na “presstitutes.” Sa kasalukuyan, 12 journalists na ang pinapatay sa ilalim ng rehimeng Duterte, ayon sa NUJP.

Alam nating lahat na marami sa mga political supporters at campaign contributors ni Tatay Digong mo ang binigyan nya ng mga posisyon o meaty contracts sa gobyerno. Marami ang na-bypass na career officials, at karamihan sa mga appointees nya ay kulang sa karanasan, abilidad, at credentials. Recently, “pabirong” nag-issue ng warning si Tatay Digong mo sa mga local officials sa Bicol na hindi bibigyan ng suportang pinansyal kung hindi nila susuportahan ang kandidatura nina Bong Go, Bato Dela Rosa, at Francis Tolentino. Kung ang pinakamataas na lider ng bansa ay walang pakundangan sa pagpa-practice ng patronage politics, ano ang dapat nating asahan sa local at barangay levels? Dapat nga kasi, leadership by example ang pinapairal. Di ba?

Paano maipatutupad sa bansa ang anti-political dynasty law kung mismong pamilya ni Tatay Digong mo ay mga political dynasts? Paano siya paniniwalaang seryoso sa kanyang anti-corruption campaign kung pinakawalan nya ang mga plunderers, nananahimik siya sa mga appointees nyang involved sa mga anomalya, at ipinu-promote niya ang mga kaalyado nyang nalusutan o nagpalusot ng tone-toneladang shabu sa Customs? Paano nya oobligahin ang mga government employees na maging competent sa kanilang trabaho kung nagpa-power nap lang siya sa mga pandaigdigang pagtitipon? Paano siya paniniwalaan that he hates the oligarchs kung nakikita natin siya rubbing elbows with the Marcoses, the Ejercito-Estradas, the Binays, the Enriles, and the Arroyos, at pinapaburan o nage-engage in out-of-court settlements with his campaign contributors na gaya nina Dennis Uy (Phoenix), Alexander Wongchuking (Mighty Corp.), Lucio Tan, Janet Napoles, at Manny Pacquiao?

Sa two and a half years na pamumuno ni Tatay Digong mo, he is able to effectively polarize the nation. Niyayakap na ngayon ng mga mamamayan ang cultures of hate, violence, and fear. Dahil sa kanyang crude speech, notoriety, mediocrity, at incompetence, nagiging laughing stock na tayo ng buong mundo. Our moral values have deteriorated and our moral fiber as Filipinos is now corrupted. Naghahari na sa karamihan sa atin ang kawalan ng respeto, ng dignidad, ng integridad, ng disiplina, at ng moralidad. Bilang lipunan, nawawala na ang ating moral compass.

Ngayon, sa dinami-rami ng mga patunay, hindi ka pa rin ba naniniwalang ENABLER si Tatay Digong mo?

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AN ORDINARY FILIPINO’S NEW YEAR’S WISH LIST

We, Pinoys, are known for being tolerant, long-suffering, and resilient. We have already experienced and gone through so much as a nation and yet, here we are, still very much alive and kicking.

But, now, our country is heavily encumbered by numerous and, often, complicated problems and issues that have accumulated over the years. All these, having been left unattended and unsolved for a considerably long time, are now about to reach their tipping point.

And we, the Filipino people, the end of our tethers.

I don’t think that even Santa Claus, or the Fairy Godmother, or the Tooth Fairy can do anything for any of the following wishes, but the gullible and naïve child in me will always keep on believing. And hoping. And dreaming.

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Poverty. I wish that, through government intervention, wealth would be distributed equitably among its citizens. Would it not be terrific to live in a country where all its people have decent jobs, decent homes, decent food on the table, and decent clothes on their backs? Where people no longer have to live in filthy and unsafe communities? Where everyone has access to their basic needs? Where every person can wear his dignity like a badge? And where dreams are not only far-fetched ideas but promising possibilities?

Health. I wish for a quality health care that is free for all, a respectable health center at even the most remote parts of the country, and a public medical service given without making the recipient feel belittled or humiliated. I have always dreamed of a time when no one has to be sent away from a private hospital due to failure to pay the advance payment or of someone dying because his family can’t afford the costly medicines. Focus should also be given to intensified health education among young students. The entire nation will largely benefit from having citizens that start practicing healthy living much earlier on.

Politics. I wish that our politicians will come to realize that public service is a sacrifice that one bears for his love of his country, and not for money, power, or prestige. I wish that all their decisions and choices, statements and policies, will be carefully made with the country’s interest in mind. Nothing else.

Population. I wish that couples will have the initiative to control the size of their families based on their capacity to provide for all the needs of their kids. If they cannot be an asset to the country, they should, at least, try not to be a liability. Instead of relying heavily on the government or on the destinies determined by the Fates, we should be responsible for our children’s future. We should also support the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health law.

Unemployment and OFWs. I wish that the government can pave the way to create ample, good-paying jobs for all able-bodied Filipinos. We do not deserve to be uprooted from our homes and from everything and everyone that we hold dear. We do not deserve to be separated from our families. We do not deserve to be treated as second-class citizens in foreign lands. Philippines is our country. This is where we belong.

Agriculture. I wish that the government will effect genuine reforms and provide substantial and sustainable assistance to our farmers. Government officials should put a stop to using this neglected sector to pocket public money.

Education. I wish for a substantial increase in the salary of our teachers to motivate them to help in changing the world, one child at a time. A higher budget for public schools, including those that offer technical and vocational courses, should be allocated. Children should be encouraged to develop and maximize their potential to be well-rounded individuals.

Discipline. I wish that discipline, along with nationalism, will be rigidly inculcated in our kids as soon as they are old enough to enter school. The lack of these values in our citizens is the root of all our present problems.

Religion. I wish that people, regardless of their religious beliefs, preference, and affiliation, will learn to accept and respect each other. Committing criminal acts in the name of one’s religion is nothing but a bunch of baloney.

Traffic. I wish that the government will provide more bike lanes and footpaths so that commuters will be encouraged to leave their cars behind. (In the Netherlands, 99.1% of the people are cyclists.  27% of all trips and 25% of trips to work are made by bike.) Car sales and old motor vehicles should be strictly monitored and regulated. Public transportation networks should be upgraded. And the discipline of both the driving and riding public should be improved.

Tax. I wish for lower taxes imposed on the middle class and lower-income citizens, more stringent penalties for tax frauds and tax evaders, and a dexterous system of ensuring transparency and accountability among the custodians of the public coffers.

Nature. I wish that people will realize that our planet is our only home and, as such, should be conscientiously cared for and tenderly nurtured. It will always provide for all our needs but it will never be enough for even one man’s greed. We need someone who has the political will to enforce a total ban on plastic production and use, and to strictly impose logging, mining, quarrying, hunting, and fishing bans on already compromised areas. Reforestation projects and other programs to combat global warming should be heavily funded and put into place. Each one of us should make it our responsibility to act as our home’s guardian, protector, and nurturer.

Peace (national). I wish that all Filipinos will stop bickering, complaining, fighting, finger-pointing, and fault-finding and, instead, will start on collectively working towards the sustainable betterment of our country.

Peace (international). I wish for a genuine world peace. A world where terrorism, discrimination, and indifference do not exist. A world where all the countries work hand in hand in making this planet a better place for the coming generations. A world with no boundaries.

Future. I wish that the country we will leave behind for our children and our children’s children is much better than the one we presently have. And this can happen only if all of us will make the effort to make it so. Right now.

Finally, I wish that all our children will soon find themselves becoming significant parts of the solution to our country’s many deep-rooted and, mostly, chronic problems. Hopefully, all the values we instilled in them through all their growing-up years will be enough to fully prepare them in forming intellectual opinions, in making smart choices, and in facing the big world out there.

THE YEAR THAT WAS (The Mom on a Mission’s 2018)

My 2018 had been a perfect combination of courage amid intimidation, and triumph amid adversity.

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23 years after I left college, I was able to muster the courage to go back and take the last subject that kept me from my elusive diploma. When I eventually graduated alongside my two cum laude children, I gathered the courage to face the members of the press who found our story inspiring enough to deserve a space in their platforms. (We even landed on the cover of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and were invited for a live interview in GMA 7’s Unang Hirit!)

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As parents, we were able to call forth the courage to see two of our three children leave the safety of our home to face new challenges on their own — Emar (who earned the title “Engineer” after passing the board exams for Chemical Engineering last November) as an employee of a Japan-founded global engineering firm, and Lala as a student of Medicine (who could barely come home even during special family occasions).

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Just recently, I along with the entire UP community, courageously rallied behind the UP Men’s Basketball Team. They made history by managing the monumental feat of taking UP back to the finals after 32 long years. They were also able to unite a community that has been beset with discord for far too long.

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I had the courage to make a stand and to continue fighting the atrocities of this administration –both online and out on the streets–, and to boldly write about my convictions and advocacies. We have yet to see our country restored to its former glory, but we will get there someday. I know, we will.

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I found the courage to meet and show my support for the people persecuted by the madman in Malacañang and his minions. There were Sen. De Lima, VP Leni, Sr. Patricia Fox, PAB blogger Jover Laurio, CJ Sereno, and Sen. Trillanes. These men and women, along with many others who fearlessly hold the line despite constant threats, are recognized both locally and internationally for their indomitable resolve in making the Philippines a better place for us, Filipinos.

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I managed to draw the courage to throw my all-out support for my no. 1 senatorial bet, Atty. Pilo Hilbay, along with the other candidates from the opposition coalition. The outcome of the midterm elections next year is crucial as it will decide whether we will still have the same Constitution and form of government that we have right now, or if we will adopt our Congressmen’s self-serving version of the Constitution. Hopefully, this time around, we will choose the candidates who will best serve the interests of the Filipino people.

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Finally, just a month ago, after managing to build the necessary courage, I actively participated in Liberal Party’s Project Makinig by going house-to-house to listen to my fellow Maloleños’ daily struggles, experiences, observations, expectations and aspirations. My humble contribution, along with that of the other volunteers, will hopefully be instrumental in addressing more effectively the ordinary citizens’ issues and concerns through the policies and solutions that the LP officials, both current and future, will formulate and implement.

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The fight in the many arenas of my life is not yet over, though. As long as I live, I know that there is something that I should be fighting for. Fearlessly. Relentlessly. Courageously.

Thank you, 2018!

Bring it on, 2019!

LORENA’S BIGGEST BULLY

“After each verbal attack, I can’t look my own children in the eye. I can’t even face myself in the mirror, for crying out loud! I feel too degraded, too ashamed, too humiliated. And then, for the millionth time, I’d ask myself. “Why do you allow yourself to be treated that way, Lorena? Don’t you have an iota of respect left for yourself?””

Lorena is a college graduate from a reputable university. She used to be a girl full of ambition, drive, and passion. She always thought that she’d be somebody someday — that the world would be at her feet.

But, she got pregnant just right after college and had to get married at the age of 20.

She didn’t experience having to struggle with the combination of excitement and dread during a job interview. She didn’t have the confidence that one acquires from years of power-dressing every morning, having intellectual discourses with clients and colleagues alike, and the adrenaline rush and the ensuing sense of accomplishment after beating a deadline. She didn’t experience the joy and sheer pride of getting her first paycheck, of traveling with friends, of splurging on bags and shoes, or even of treating her family to a meal at a decent restaurant.

She missed on all that because, when babies started to come along, she had to stay home to personally take care of them.

And she learned firsthand that all those talk that overly romantisize parenthood is nothing more than a pile of lies and bulls**t.

During the early years of her marriage, when couples normally spend their moments together honeymooning, going out on dates, snuggling on the bed or adoringly gazing at each other all day, Lorena had her hands full running the household while her husband was out proving his worth to the company he worked for. While she was busy attending to the needs of three demanding toddlers, her husband was preoccupied with earnest efforts of climbing the corporate ladder. While she was up to her neck with household chores and errands, her husband was living the life she once imagined for herself.

Soon, they found themselves drifting apart.

She’d tell herself that she might be the one to blame. After all, what man in his right mind would find a woman desirable when he sees her in nothing but sweats the whole day? When her wiry hair is in eternal disarray? When she talks of nothing else but children, expenses, and nanny issues?

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Disillusioned and wallowing in self-pity, Lorena became whiny and clingy. She became jealous, insecure, and paranoid. But, instead of getting the spousal support and peptalk that she was in dire need for, her behavior would be dealt with with indifference, estrangement, disgust, or hostility.

Soon after, she became her husband’s emotional punching bag. “He was just stressed out and pressured at work,” she would try to weakly reason out to herself.

But the outbursts became more frequent, more demeaning, more indefensible, more unforgivable.

He never hurts her physically but the emotional wounds and scars that those verbal lashings she experiences in the hands of the person who promised to love and cherish her for the rest of their lives together, are more hurtful and cruel. Those words often uttered in wild anger always leave Lorena with a pain that lingers on long after her husband is back to his more tolerable self. When he is sweeter and more generous than usual. When he is down on his knees asking for forgiveness and promising that things between them will be better.

And she would forgive him. For the sake of their children. For the sake of the many years that they have been together. For the sake of the marital vows they made before God. For the sake of their reputation.

But for how long she can keep on doing that, Lorena has no idea.

THEIR FAMILY’S SILENT KILLER

Her lips are constantly stretched into a smile, and there’s a hearty laughter always ready to burst out of her belly at someone’s hilarious story. She seems to enjoy hugging, chatting, clinking glasses, swaying to the rhythm of the music. Funny and full of energy, people tend to gravitate towards her.

She is the proverbial life of the party.

But when the music stops, when the lights are dimmed, when people start to take their leave – she is left alone.

Alone with her thoughts.

Her very dark thoughts.

In the deafening silence, her mind instantly turns into an abyss of fears, worries, doubts, and guilt. She becomes trapped in a quicksand of emotions, and, the more she struggles, the faster she sinks. She feels lost and drowning.

Then, as fast as lightning, the screaming loneliness is gone and, on its stead, is a sense of hollowness. Her confusion turns into numbness.  She becomes an unfeeling, uncaring, non-functioning zombie. An empty shell. She is, once again, trapped – this time, in a prison of apathy and indifference.

Feeling detached and disconnected from the world around her, she then realizes that her life is inconsequential. Anger starts to boil inside her until her entire being is consumed by it. She hates her situation, she hates her thoughts, she hates herself. She is both hopeless and helpless. Trapped in isolation and despair, she figures that the best way to escape from it all is to simply stop. To endure defeat, knowing that she is fighting a battle that she can never win.

To accept the fact that she doesn’t deserve to live.

 

A Warrior Named Zena

Zena Bernardo has a mental health condition that is sweeping the world at an alarming rate. She has what professionals call “clinical depression.”

Unlike the kind of depression or severe sadness that one finds himself suffering from due to a loss (especially of a loved one), a major setback (like failing the bar exam), or a medical condition (such as a thyroid disorder), clinical depression is the lingering, persistent, or chronic loneliness and hollowness that plague a person for extended periods of time. It is the kind of depression that one cannot easily snap out of despite earnest attempts and great efforts. Worse, it can take complete control over one’s life, debilitating or paralyzing it.

Like a ticking time bomb, the depression can go off anytime without any prior warning. And once it recurs, Zena feels like she is living in her personal hell, haunted and tortured by her personal demons.

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The First Generation of Bernardos

Zena’s father, Mang Romy, was the ideal family man. He was a loving son to his parents, a sweet and supportive kuya to his five younger siblings, a dedicated husband to his wife, and a nurturing Tatay to his children.

They were not financially well-off, but he and his wife made sure that their children would have a good childhood.

He exposed them to different kinds of people, acquainted them with various visual and classical arts, treated them to out-of-town trips, taught them how to ride horses, and brought them to picnics in the park. On better days, he would cook them steak, his culinary specialty.

He raised his children with science and the arts, wisdom and kindness. He let them experience life.

A liberal and patriot, he was Ka Romy to his comrades and fellow activists who knew him for his kindness and generosity. He became friends with like-minded personalities such as Butz Aquino, Fr. Joe Dizon, Lino Brocka, Behn Servantes, Maita Gomez, Nelia Sancho, Nathaniel Santiago, Lean Alejandro, and many others. Those who are still around speak fondly and very highly of him.

Tatay Romy was an engineer and, in 1966, he worked in Vietnam for five years to support his growing family. When he eventually decided to stay in the country, he opened a dental equipment manufacturing plant after his wife, Zena Sr., started a business operating a dental laboratory in Manila. He was refurbishing and servicing imported dental equipment in established dental clinics (even the clinic in Malacaňang) until he ventured in designing and manufacturing his own line. Mang Romy’s business was doing quite well for a time. However, while he was a genius as an engineer and inventor, he was not a good businessman. After he was later awarded the contract to supply the dental equipment in the UP College of Dentistry and secured a bank loan to finance the said project, and the government delayed the payments it owed to Tatay Romy’s company, the latter’s business suffered a serious and irrevocable blow. With the decision to terminate the operations of the laboratory to concentrate on equipment manufacturing, it had been difficult financially for the family.

So in 1985, his wife was forced to leave his family behind to work for a government hospital in the Middle East as a member of the administrative staff.

The business back home was barely surviving to make both ends meet; it was practically bankrupt. Coupled with his apparent feeling of inadequacy as the family’s provider, his friend Lean Alejandro’s death in 1987, and his sneaking suspicion that Zena, his then-19-year-old bunso, was pregnant, had taken their toll on Tatay Romy.

In December 22, 1988, just three days before Christmas, Tatay Romy committed suicide.

His family had always known that Tatay Romy was suffering from depression. However, as he was his siblings’ “one-man support system,” they didn’t think that he would, one day, succumb to the same silent killer that was taking his brothers and sisters one by one.

Yes, before his death, three of his other siblings who also had depression had likewise died of suicide. Less than two months after his death, another one followed suit. The lone surviving sibling has been on medication for more than three decades now.

 

The Second Generation of Bernardos

When Zena and her two siblings were younger, their parents would try to shield them from the harsh realities of depression. And since, during that time, it was a taboo subject for most people, nobody really talked openly about it. But whenever they would hear that a relative had committed suicide due to depression, or when their own father would break or throw things one minute then hole up in his room for days the next, it became increasingly difficult to ignore.

Pretending that everything was normal became impossible.

When her mother left them to work abroad and her siblings became preoccupied with either studies or friends, Zena, who was inherently a homebody, came to be her father’s constant companion and confidant. She heard about all his frustrations, and bore witness to all his episodes of depression. Fixing was also intrinsic to her so she was inclined to bridge existing gaps and to mend whatever was broken.

She became the family’s shock absorber.

She had many insecurities growing up, and she became a victim of bullying, sexual harassment, and physical abuse. She got pregnant at 19, and was blamed by everybody as the reason behind her father’s suicide. She was forced to drop out of college due to her delicate condition. Her marital life soon became problematic and toxic, so an abusive relationship and four children after, she decided to separate with her husband.

Through it all, she was silently suffering from and battling depression and Bipolar condition. To make matters worse, she felt that she had nowhere to turn to for help when she left her husband. Working overseas, her mother was not made aware of her condition, while her two siblings were also fighting the same illness that plagued the Bernardos.

She tried everything to single-handedly support her children –from running a sari-sari store and selling virtually anything she could put her hands on, to direct selling, networking, tutoring and, later on, working for a call center. However, she realized that she could not possibly get a decent-paying job without a college diploma. So, when her two oldest kids were in high school, Zena saw an opportunity to go back to college and finish her education.

After she graduated (as the class valedictorian, no less!), she worked for various companies and foundations, and actively supported countless advocacies. She can only work for short-term projects and on short-term employments, though, as she tends to get overwhelmed when she has to stay long in a single place or be deeply immersed in the same kind of work. But once she starts, she is unstoppable — pretty much like the Energizer bunny that just keeps on moving and moving and moving.

She can also be brutally frank. One of her friends said that “she speaks her mind regardless of how weak or how powerful the enemy is, and would fight to the death if she has to.” She is passionate, empowered, strong, fearless, patriotic, and fiercely loyal. She has a heart for the oppressed, the poor, and the downtrodden.

However, like many others who have depression (even the high-functioning type), she faces each day as if she is walking in a landmine. She has to tread carefully by guarding her thoughts every single minute of every single day. On the outside, she may seem happy, ecstatic even. But, on the inside, she is a shivering child scared of her own thoughts and of where those thoughts will take her.

For the countless of people that Zena was able to help and empower, for the people she was able to stand and speak for, and for the people she was able to inspire and motivate with her story of strength, grit and courage, she will always be their hero. Or an angel in disguise.

But, more than that, Zena is a warrior – a warrior who has to incessantly fight her inner demons to survive.

 

The Third Generation of Bernardos

Mox is one of Zena’s four children and is her only son. Like his mother and father, and most of his relatives from both sides of their family, he has a mental health condition, too. He was likewise diagnosed with clinical depression.

Asked how it is like when he has an episode of depression, this is what he had to say.

“I don’t know with others, but with me, I don’t think there’s a trigger, or if there is, it’s something I am not aware of. Most of the time, it just comes from nowhere. I can feel it, though, — there are signs when it’s about to hit. I lose my appetite, my interest in almost all things, generally I start to feel bored. Then, when it’s finally there, that’s when I kind of shut off from the world. I have no interest in talking with people, going out (even just outside my room), I watch movies over and over again, just a single movie several times a day. I don’t sleep as much, I think I’ve been awake for about 3 days during one of my episodes. I call it severe boredom. I am bored with life itself, like everything is overrated, and you can’t fathom the thought of still existing the next day. I just want to disappear. I didn’t want to die, not at first, I just want my body to dissipate into thin air or merge with the wall or get buried in the ground. I just want to not exist anymore. That lasts for two weeks, then everything goes back to normal again, like nothing happened.”

Mox is now living on his own. He cannot live under one roof with his mother or his sisters as they all trigger each other’s depressive episodes.

Yes, all his sisters are also suffering from variations of “ups and downs”, their family’s silent killer.

To those who are suffering from depression right now, Mox has these pieces of valuable advice. “Seek professional help. Listen to and love yourself more. Those who know and have survived through those moments have a special responsibility to help others who suffer the same condition. We’ve been through the void, we know how to help people endure nothingness. To families and friends, we’re not f*****g sad; we don’t need uplifting words. (What we need) is help in getting through each day, one task at a time. It doesn’t help when people try to comfort us and force us to speak about our pain.”

Love, understanding and kindness — these are the things that every person battling mental illness needs from us. Not judgment, not pity and, definitely, not cruelty.

IS THE FILIPINO REALLY WORTH DYING FOR?

“I have asked myself many times: Is the Filipino worth suffering, or even dying, for? Is he not a coward who would readily yield to any colonizer, be he foreign or homegrown? Is a Filipino more comfortable under an authoritarian leader because he does not want to be burdened with the freedom of choice? Is he unprepared, or worse, ill-suited for presidential or parliamentary democracy?

I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino, and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying for…..” –Ninoy Aquino

August 21, 1983: Ninoy’s Homecoming and Death

He didn’t know exactly what awaited him in the Philippines once he gets home.

There was the possibility of his plane getting ordered to turn around. Or house/hospital arrest. Or imprisonment. Or even death. Yet, fully aware of the potential danger that his decision entailed, and against the advice of relatives, friends, and well-meaning political colleagues, he still returned to the Philippines — the only country he considered home. He used to tell his wife, Cory, that he had “always wanted to die for our country,” so if the government would have him killed, “that’s the best thing that would happen to me.”

Ferdinand Marcos was seriously ill, the economy was in shambles, insurgency was becoming a major problem, and the cronies were fighting among themselves like ravenous vultures. Moreover, the opposition was fragmented. Ninoy Aquino, the Wonder Boy of Philippine politics, felt the urgent need to go back home after three years of self-exile in the US. Fearing that a military takeover or armed conflict would ensue should the strongman die or rendered incapacitated by his illness, Ninoy wanted to talk to Marcos, believing that he could somehow convince the latter to restore democracy in the country. (Marcos already ended Martial Law two years prior, but according to Ninoy, ”Without dismantling the apparatus of dictatorship, the lifting of martial law is [just] a cruel deception.”)

Ninoy was warned countless times — by government emissaries, by Gen. Fabian Ver, and by Imelda Marcos herself — that there were intelligence reports of assassination plots against him. Thinking that it was just a desperate ploy to dissuade him from returning to his beloved homeland, he went on with his plan.

I could have opted to seek political asylum in America, but I feel it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with his people especially in time of crisis,” he was quoted as saying. He added, “I will never be able to forgive myself if I have to live with the knowledge that I could have done something and I did not do anything.”

Fraternity brothers, Ninoy and Marcos were longtime political opponents, archrivals, bitter foes. Ninoy was the bane of Marcos’ existence, the thorn in his side, his political nemesis, and the greatest threat to his insatiable greed for power. Fearlessly outspoken, Ninoy was known for his legendary charisma, the gifts of gab and eloquence, his brilliance, and his indomitable spirit. Since he became Senator in 1967, he would grab every available opportunity to speak out against Marcos’ authoritarian rule. He was relentless in exposing the Marcoses’ plunder of government coffers, their lavish lifestyle, and their numerous excesses and abuses. He was the most dauntless, staunchest, and most vocal critic of the Marcoses and their cronies.

When Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, in an apparent effort to suppress the growing opposition and to legitimize his extended rule, Ninoy was among the first personalities that he ordered arrested and jailed. He was sentenced to death by the military tribunal based on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms, murder, and subversion.  In 1980, after 7 years and 7 months of imprisonment, he was allowed to fly to the US to undergo triple-bypass heart surgery. After a successful operation, he proceeded on attacking the Marcos administration, delivering speeches across the country, and serving as one of the most prominent overseas front fighters for Philippine democracy.

When he landed on Philippine soil on that fateful day of August 21, 1983, Ninoy was assassinated.

His death, which triggered a series of civil disobedience campaigns that eventually culminated in the 1986 revolution, proved that a dead Ninoy could be a more formidable opponent to the Marcoses than the fearless, fast-talking, hard-hitting political leader that the latter was when he was still alive. Ninoy’s death inspired and empowered the masses to go out to the streets and shout, “Sobra na! Tama na! Palitan na!” It resulted to public outrage that eventually put an end to Marcos’ 21-year oppressive rule.

It changed our country’s history.

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photo credit: Inquirer.net

 

August 21, 2018: 35 Years After Ninoy’s Death

Anyone in his right mind would have thought that, considering everything that we, as a nation, had to suffer, had to sacrifice, and had to fight for even with our very lives just to win back our freedom, we would have already learned our lesson. We would have thought that from then on, we, Filipinos, will do everything and anything just to ensure that history will never repeat itself. We would have thought that we now have all the more reason to prove to everyone that we are, indeed, worth dying for.

But look around you.

Holding the highest office in the land is an incompetent, quick-tempered, vindictive, treasonous, misogynistic, narcissistic, tyrannical, foul-mouthed, bigoted psychopath.

More than 25,000 Filipinos, mostly poor and innocent, and all without the benefit of due process, have already been killed in the name of this administration’s War on Drugs. And the war is “far from over,” according to the butcher in Malacañang. “It will be as relentless and chilling as on the day it began.”

In a blatant disregard of the Hague tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines-China dispute over the West Philippine Sea, our islands are now generously given to China – and on a silver platter, no less. The ass-licker in Malacañang continues to kowtow to China despite the bully-nation being the source of tons of illegal drugs, smuggled goods, illegal Chinese workers, blacklisted contractors, and casinos that are granted easy access into the country, and of “friendly” loans that are potentially part of China’s debt-trap diplomacy.

Ferdinand Marcos, the late dictator who made our countrymen’s lives a living hell during his dictatorial reign, and whose economic sabotage left us with an external debt that we are all still paying for until the year 2025, is now buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani – no thanks to the dictator-wanna-be in Malacañang who thinks that Marcos is the best president our country has ever had.

Marawi, once a thriving city, was transformed into a virtual ghost town when it became the battleground between IS militants and government troops, where countless soldiers and civilians perished. This happened after a loose cannon in Malacañang dared the Maute Group to attack Marawi. The firefight prompted Duterte to declare Martial Law, not just in Marawi but in the entire Mindanao, and despite the conflict eventually being resolved in October of last year, ML has been extended twice. It will take effect until the end of this year.

This administration continues to aggressively campaign for federalism through constitutional amendment amid its apparent unpopularity, the citizens’ disapproval, and the warning of their own economic managers that the shift could have “dire consequences” and could “wreak havoc on the economy.” In an effort to get Filipinos talk about federalism, Asec. Mocha came up with a jingle video popularly known as Pepedederalismo. She got the Filipinos talking, all right.

Sen. Leila de Lima is languishing in solitary pre-trial detention for exactly 544 days now. For fearlessly launching a Senate inquiry into the spate of killings happening under the guise of a drug war, the Fentanyl-addict in Malacañang vilified and demonized her in an attempt to break and silence the unbreakable Senator.

For the adversarial positions she held against the various policies of this administration, Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Her colleagues at the SC acted on the quo warranto petition filed by SolGen Jose Calida – a petition that was not only baseless but, more so, unconstitutional. The entire proceeding was believed to be part of an effort to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

Instead of improving tax collection measures (In 2015, only 25 of the top 50 richest Filipinos are on the list of top 500 taxpayers.), the TRAIN Law was passed and implemented regardless of its debilitating impact on the poorest of the poor – our most vulnerable socio-economic class. The poor are “made to pay for the government’s failure to collect from the wealthy.” That’s the TRAIN Law, in a nutshell, according to former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.

Oligarchs, in cahoots with political dynasts, continue to control and run the country despite Duterte’s promise that he would “destroy oligarchs embedded in government.” Our current DPWH Secretary and Duterte appointee, Mark Villar, is a perfect example of an oligarch, while members of political dynasties include the likes of Cayetanos, Arroyos, Marcoses, Estradas, and, yes, Dutertes.

The government appointees of “the best president in the solar system” are “only the best and the brightest.” Take, for instance, Mocha and Andanar of PCOO, Cesar Montano and Wanda Teo of DOT, Bong Go (the national photo bomber), Vit Aguirre (Jack Lam extorsion and his plan to make Janet Lim Napoles a state witness), Nicanor Faeldon formerly of Bureau of Customs, and so on. This should be expected when people are appointed out of “utang na loob” instead of their merit. “Even a whiff, or a whisper, of corruption and you’re out,” Duterte warned. Government officials sacked due to corruption should not worry, though. Under this administration, terminated appointees can still be recycled.

P6.4B worth of drugs actually smuggled in Oct. 2017 and another P6.8B “speculatively” smuggled this month. On both occasions, what were most conspicuous and interesting are the President’s deafening silence and utter lack of interest. When will his “relentless and chilling” War on Drugs come in?

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is now out of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and, miraculously, out of her neck brace and wheelchair, too! She is now the Speaker of the House of Representatives after she overthrew Bebot Alvarez as a result of the most brilliant and totally unexpected political machinations. She could also be our next Prime Minister under the Federal form of government. By the same token, Jinggoy Estrada is out of detention and will “most probably run in next year’s mid-term elections to reclaim his Senate seat.”

Sr. Patricia Fox, a 71-year-old Australian missionary who has been staying in the country for 27 years now, was ordered by the Bureau of Immigration to leave the country. Davao’s most-feared thug in Malacañang claimed that Sr. Patricia is an undesirable alien and that her presence “poses a risk to public interest.”

The bully in Malacañang has been attacking and threatening the media because of their critical reporting on the relentless killings that his brutal war on drugs both entail and incite. He also tried to curtail press freedom by advising them to tone down their reporting.

According to the Commission on Human Rights, the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples such as the Lumads are considered sacred. However, the real estate agent in Malacañang said that, to help the Lumads generate wealth, he would personally invite investors to develop the ancestral domain areas in Mindanao. Under this administration, 30 Lumads had already been killed and at least 30,000 were forcibly evacuated “due to aerial bombings to pave way for the entry of foreign corporations and big local businesses.”

The CPP rejected the guidelines of the peace talks proposed by the government. Duterte, the habitual promise-breaker in Malacañang, “has been responsible for repeatedly terminating peace negotiations,” according to CPP founder and NDFP political adviser, Joma Sison. “We can no longer negotiate with an administration headed by Duterte,” he added.

The favorite punching bag these days of the blasphemous tenant in Malacañang is the Roman Catholic Church, along with its leaders, its Bible, and its God. The worst attack he has made, so far, was when he called our God “stupid.”

Duterte is notorious for making sexist, chauvinistic, misogynistic and even racist remarks and insults, and for acting vindictively against his female critics. Among the most notable victims of the filthy-mouthed wimp in Malacañang are Sen. De Lima, CJ Sereno, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, VP Leni, UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Fil-Am philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox, and Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Pia Ranada.

Under this administration, we are now experiencing a rising inflation, rising unemployment, rising debt, rising power rate, rising prices of basic commodities, rising fuel costs, and rising interest rates. And all these are not mere fake news being fabricated by the babbling liar in Malacañang.

Our democratic institutions are being demolished. “Congress is a rubberstamp, the Senate is a circus, our legislators carry on with their political plays as if the EJKs are not a thick red line that takes everything off the table. Both the Supreme Court and the Ombudsman are embattled, and the CHR’s existence is jeopardized by the specter of a new constitution.”

Finally, look at what Duterte has spawned in this country: historical revisionism and/or historical amnesia, widespread apathy, aggressive ignorance, unspeakable cruelty, smug complacency, misplaced nationalism, pervasive hopelessness, crippling fear, wretched ungratefulness, and pure, unadulterated stupidity.

All these could not have happened if we did not put someone like Duterte in Malacanang.

So, if Ninoy were alive today, do you think he would still consider the Filipino worth dying for?

WHAT AN AWFUL BOSS LOOKS LIKE

A boss plays a vital role in any organization. With a good boss, a difficult or unpleasant job can be tolerable. Conversely, with a bad boss, an otherwise gratifying job can be miserable — a nightmare, even.

The following are the telltale signs that you are extremely unfortunate, as you have ended up with an awful boss.

Poor you.

1. Your boss applies a double standard in dealing with people. He/She is known to play favorites, is selective in dishing out disciplinary action to erring employees, or is unfair in granting perks and privileges. He/She seldom shares valuable and beneficial information with his/her subordinates who fail to get on his/her good side. He/She may even go as far as creating a new position just to accommodate the promotion of a favored employee. Yes, you now have a social media specialist in the construction site, and she’s the one whiling away precious hours in the boss’ air-conditioned room while cozily “interacting with cybercitizens.”

2. Your boss inspires fear in his/her subordinates. He/She takes pleasure in knowing that they tremble and shudder whenever he/she is around. Having a tendency to be a yeller, he/she believes that congeniality in the workplace equates to likely neglect of duties, which thus adversely affects productivity. Okay, hush now. Here comes The Boss.

3. Your boss hates to see you and your colleagues shine. He/She underrates your accomplishments and contributions to the organization and tends to grab credit that rightfully belongs to his/her subordinates. When his/her own boss gets impressed with an innovative design that you just presented, he/she is quick to claim that it was actually his/her idea – not yours. Hey, I know you’re flabbergasted by his/her audacity, but will you please shut your mouth? As in, literally. It’s been hanging open for a while now.

4. Your boss has unrealistic demands and unreasonable expectations from his/her subordinates. As a modern-day slave driver, he/she seems to think that your life should revolve around your work, and your work alone. Work-life balance is an alien concept to him/her. Huh, work-life balance? What’s that?!!!

5. Your boss is apathetic about your situation. He/She regards you more like a robot rather than a breathing, feeling human being who is also susceptible to emotions, frailties and physical limitations. He/She is annoyed that you’re not your usual jolly and witty self when you were made, despite your protestations, to take on the emcee role for an event. Hey, boss, give that poor guy a break. His 10-year-old cat just died!

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photo credit: headhunterconfesses.wordpress.com

6. Your boss has a strong natural tendency to bully you and your colleagues. This constant display of A-hole quality is a clear manifestation of his/her personal insecurities. He/She is often on a power trip to boost his stature or feelings of self-worth. He/She gets a kick out of humiliating you or wielding his/her power over you, particularly in front of others.

7. Your boss is so self-righteous and self-centered that he/she thinks he/she is above everyone else. A certified narcissist, he/she is arrogant and thinks that he/she has a monopoly to great ideas. Also, he/she never apologizes even after realizing that he/she commits a mistake. It’s always about him/her, not the team he/she manages. So, better keep your suggestions and comments to yourself, pal. Or, better yet, stop thinking altogether.

8. Your boss lacks integrity. He/She has a propensity to cut corners, to kowtow to his bosses (and is a notorious ass-kisser!), to lie and manipulate people, to break promises, and to promote personal interests no matter the cost. Cunning and easily corruptible, and with “the end always justifies the means” as his personal mantra, his idol is Niccolo Machiavelli. No surprise there.

9. Your boss is an advocate of the blame game. With virtually no sense of personal accountability, he/she points an accusing finger at everyone else except him/herself when something goes wrong. Make sure, then, that your presentation before the board would be impeccable. Otherwise, you would surely be left high and dry by your boss.

10. Your boss does not exhibit flexibility. Being a stickler for the rules, he/she has difficulty adjusting to particular situations or the individual circumstances of his/her subordinates. That deadline, for instance, won’t be extended just because your house happens to be submerged in floodwater for three days now. So, c’mon, go up to your roof and start working on that report. Asap!

An awesome boss, on the other hand, is someone who is a great mentor to his/her subordinates.  He/She is a motivator, an enabler, a problem-solver, and a team player rolled into one admirable package that people want to emulate or, at the very least, work with. As a true leader, he/she incites inspiration, builds trust and confidence among his/her direct reports, develops a safe and enjoyable working environment, and creates opportunities for growth for each and every member of his/her team.

If you’re in your office right now, look around you. Are the people you see working grudgingly, unhappily, or nervously? You might just be under the thumb of an awful boss.

Or you, yourself, might actually be that awful boss.