Children play

In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised their policy statement on Informed Consent in Decision-making in Pediatric Practice. This third and updated revision was published in Pediatrics, August 2016 Volume 138, Issue 2.

Those interested can refer to this link – It is a good read and reference, especially at a time where the issue of decreasing the age from 15 to 9 years old for criminal liability in the country is being discussed.

This short article is a personal opinion and hopefully sheds light surrounding issues on why lawmakers need to hear the other side of the coin.

So why begin this post with informed permission prior to a medical intervention? The argument is simple. If you need consent from parents and legal guardians over simple medical procedures or interventions for pediatric patients, why make a child as young as 9 years old be held accountable for a criminal activity which he may or may not be a willing participant in? The second question that should be asked is – what is the basis for the cut-off age of 9 (and then shifting to 12) as the “responsible” age for any liability?

The background for securing informed consent in medical practice for children stems from the conceptual difficulties encountered “in trying to apply the framework of informed consent in the pediatric setting”, in which most “patients either lack the ability to act independently or have limited or no capacity for medical decision-making.” If children are unable to decide on what is good or bad for their health, how can we make them criminally liable for a crime they may not even be fully aware of but participate in?

Pediatric patients are unique. I am sure we all can agree on that. Developmental maturation of the child allows for increasing longitudinal inclusion of the child’s opinion in the decision-making process. Encouraging pediatric patients to actively explore options and to take on a greater role in their health care may promote empowerment and compliance with a treatment plan.”

“Adolescent decision-making is dependent on several factors, including cognitive ability, maturity of judgment, and moral authority, which may not all proceed to maturation along the same timeline. Many minors reach the formal operational stage of cognitive development that allows abstract thinking and the ability to handle complex tasks by mid adolescence. Brain remodelling with enhanced connectivity generally proceeds through the third decade of life, with the prefrontal cortex, the site of executive functions and impulse control, among the last to mature. In contrast, the risk-taking and sensation-seeking areas (limbic and paralimbic regions) develop around puberty. This temporal imbalance or “gap” between the 2 systems can lead to the risky behaviour seen in adolescence.”

This alone should make one understand the differences on how the adolescent reacts to various environmental influences for his or her behaviour. A perfect example is on how those who finish college at much earlier age, are socially and mentally immature for their age when they begin to work. Or social responsibility of adolescents who are already parents. How does a 12 year old father give consent for his newborn son who is set to undergo a complicated surgical procedure? Or a 10 year old mother who has to decide on end of life support for her premature baby? “There is clearly a paradox encountered when adolescents are allowed to make complex medical decision for their child but cannot legally direct their own medical care.”

Because parents are generally recognised as the “appropriate ethical and legal surrogate medical decision-makers for their children and adolescents”, the parents AND NOT THE CHILD should be held fully accountable for any legal liability of their children. Punishing the child is not the right frame of thought. The children’s interests should be the onus of the parents and not the other way around.

Children grow up based on the environment of their upbringing. Like sponges, a child’s brain absorbs everything. Raise them in a family of thieves and they have a higher chance of turning to the wrong side of the law. For those who are poor, they learn to survive even if it means they have to make ends meet just to feed their hungry stomachs. Those who have more in life are lucky. Life is kinder to them.

You remember when you were 9 years old? Those were happy memories. It was all about school and play. That was what we were busying ourselves with. I’m sure, most of you reading this post have similar memorable experiences. Those were the best days of our relative joys in life. Other children – those raised in conflict zones, those who are used and abused because of social conditions – their stories will always be a different one.

Parents will always have that responsibility and accountability in the lives of their children. How they mold them will always be their role. And that’s who we need to target – that final liability.

Vacation struggles with toddlers

I thought of writing about vacations, and how we spend them and whom we spend it with, after a post from one of my friends on FaceBook. Traveling with children is the ultimate challenge (I think there should be an episode of Amazing Race where there are toddlers with the couple. That would be a lot of fun).

It read:

How to make traveling with a toddler easier:

Step 1: Leave your toddler home


So here’s a scenario when going on vacation, especially with children in tow:

  1. Going on vacation is best enjoyed when one is on an authentic break. Strictly speaking, a vacation or holiday, is a leave of absence from the regular routinary activities. It is for recreation, relaxation, recharging, refocusing, and yes, even for tourism. Basically, we need to enjoy and cherish that “moment” guiltlessly. So what’s the use of going on a break with a toddler in tow if all you’ll be doing is taking care of the toddler and not enjoying the sights, sounds, and the other recreational activities of that vacation? Do you even remember where your parents took you to when you were 2 years old? So here’s the deal – leave the toddler behind and go on that trip you’ve been planning after your delivery! You deserve it. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving orphan Annie behind. As long as you have family that you know will take good care of her (or him) when you’re enjoying your margarita in a beach somewhere in Bali…GO!!!! You need that break!
  2. I have parents that relentlessly ask how to “sedate” their children on the flight. There’s the good old diphenhydramine. In the majority, it does the trick. Then again, because of either the excitement or fear of the new environment, the child may not respond to the sedating and anti-anxiety effect. So you’re on a plane, in economy class, pushing back from the tarmac holding two kids on your lap, on your way to New York from Manila. One of then starts bawling as the engines are revving up and the other starts kicking on your lap and holding his ears when you start to ascend. Your nightmare has just begun because you’ve just taken off and you have another 16-18 hours on this flight. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that some of them start throwing up all over you and the floor and aren’t even toilet trained yet at that age. Your other child wants to go to the toilet but breakfast is being served and you’re a million miles away from the toilet (because they put the parents traveling with children at the bulkhead) and the meal cart has just passed them when your son suddenly feels the urge to take a leak. The toilet for economy class is all the way to the tail end of the plane! Then leak he does – all over the floor! And you’re only 1 1/2 hours in the air. As you drag your child to the toilet, turbulence ensues and you’re asked by the pilot and the crew to get back to your seats. The kids start crying and screaming. You’re holding on to the kids, the tray of food at your seats, and the seatbelt sign doesn’t go off until an hour later. Fifteen hours to go…welcome to hell! Where the hell is that rivotril?!?!
  3. Finally, you get to your destination. You get off the plane looking like part of the baggages that are being thrown around. Vomit on your shirt, shit on your pants, milk in you socks! And you smell like turd as well. But it’s fine. You made it this far…you’ll make it anywhere…or so you thought! And the immigration officer isn’t really too happy with how guys look like coming off a plane looking like you and your kids were came from a war in Afghanistan. So he asks a million questions on why you’re here, how long you’re staying, what are your means for staying, who are these two runts joining you, why are you staying for 3 weeks, how will you handle the children, how many baggages did you bring, do you have work, what do you guys do, do you have relatives…and so on and so forth…while one of the kids is dead asleep in your arms the other toddler is just unsteady at his place….AND YOU REALLY NEED TO TAKE A LEAK!!!
  4. The immigration officer finally lets you and your family go through. You rush to the toilet and have the family wait for the baggages. All the baggages on the flight are now out. It’s just you, the kids and the wifey that are left standing on the carousel belt. You have 3 of the 4 luggages you brought with you. The baggage that’s missing are the kids!!! Their meds, the milk, other bottles (I don’t know why they’re still bottle feeding, but yeah…it’s typical for Filipino kids to still bottle feed till they’re 7 years old!). Day 1 doesn’t seem to be coming together. It’s going to be a stressfully long vacation…and your wife looks at you and tells you that you should have just stuck to plan number 1! Leave the toddlers behind…
  5. As you settle in to your BnB apartment, your 2 year old has a temperature of 40 C. And you’re quick to your fingers on your mobile phone calling your paediatrician at 4AM (in Manila) panicking on what to do. I get patients like that. Worst is that some of the parents come to my clinic a few days before they’re leaving with the toddler having a very bad cold and slight fever. I tell them that if he or she is still sick on the day of departure, they need to stay behind or cancel the trip. You should see how the parents look at each other then GLARE at me imagining how evil my suggestion is! Give us an antibiotic but we will need to leave. The tickets have been paid (bought at a vacation madness sale). The accommodations are all settled as well (no refund clause checked!!!). The visa is a one time entry good for 30 days!!! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!! GIVE MY CHILD PARACETAMOL AND IBUPROFEN ROUND THE CLOCK!!! WE ARE GETTING ON THAT PLANE TOMORROW!!!

I have very little memory of my days as a toddler. I can’t even recall where my parents took me when we I was 3 years old. My mom would usually tell me when we’re on a trip somewhere, this is where we first had that delicious barbecue that people rave about. And I shoot back and say, really? Like that was three decades ago!!! I don’t even remember that we had barbecue or the view of the place. All I see is SM to the left and Ayala Mall to the right!

I get it when we want to go on vacation with the whole family in tow. I think it’s a fair advice that when we go on vacation somewhere near (like a local road trip), it’s okay to bring the whole clan along. It’s a different story when you’re leaving on a jet plane to a far off destination. The farther the trip, the more you need to leave the younger kids behind.

As a general rule: kids who are not bottle feeding and can eat on their own, have a sense of responsibility and appropriate behaviour, and do not need too much care and attention on hygiene and health are ready to travel with you on your family vacations. If you have no one to leave the children behind, plan a small local vacation. Never base your family vacation on an airline sale! All advertisements are enticing. But that’s the marketing arm taking hard earned savings!

While it is the company that matters, you need to make it as enjoyable as possible for EVERYONE! So don’t believe all that bull crap on bonding and memorable moments with all the kids in tow or that Dr Seuss “valuing the moment until it becomes a memory” one liner. They’re not the ones bringing and taking care of the toddlers with them in that next vacation to never never land! (Unless you have extra cash or extremely wealthy, you can take the au pair with you on the travel!)

You need to tailor-fit each vacation for the place and the people traveling there. I don’t think your 2 year old would actually want to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre! Or that you and your wife would fancy another tiring 3 days meeting and greeting Mickey and Donald.

There will always be a time when all plans will fall into place and make that dream journey a truly memorable one.

You need to log off

There are just people with nothing better to do OR have so much time in their hands. Period.

Take DFA Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin for example. He’s quick to the draw lately when it comes to posting comments on social media. His last rants and tirades with the netizens on his Twitter account regarding privacy data allegedly being “run off” by previous contractors have resulted in his documented insults and use of foul language to answer back comments and queries regarding issues with the DFA. It seems that within a day after his fast fingers did the twitting, he eventually back pedals with gusto after former DFA Chief Yasay straightened out the facts. With so much time on his hands, it seems there’s a lot of time to Tweet and not a lot of work to do at the DFA.

I guess some (many ?) government officials just have a lot of time with nothing to do.

The US has that same version of a trigger happy president on Twitter who rapidly sends off comments and opinions because the fingers think faster than the brain, resulting in kerfuffle after kerfuffle.

Star endorser Kris Aquino who is embattled with her former assistant Nicko Falcis over accountability for money he allegedly pocketed has taken to social media their cat fight, with the Filipino public apparently glued to the next scene (like a sick telenovela) on their word wars on Facebook and Twitter. It gets interesting because other characters like the has-been social climber Gretchen B. who on her Instagram social media mocks Kris Aquino (a.k.a. essentially siding with Nicko) regarding this tit for tat debacle has joined the fray. Like an unending saga, we won’t know when and how this story ends.

With so much time in their hands, and of course the gullible public and the extolling trolls getting paid to promote either side of any story on social media, it’s a wonder why anyone wants to even side with all these fairytales.

As a general rule, we’re all spectators in the arena of social media, where often times, we’re actually “coerced” to bring out the popcorn and watch how these stories (whether true or false) evolve. There are times where we end up being part of the unruly mob than just being a mere observer.

We are often being misguided and misinformed with these snippets of information. Rants, raves, lies and curses. This is the new arena where we are all judge and jury to every single event in other people’s lives.

All I can say to them – some people need to get a life.

Log off!

A quiet place

In the humdrum and bustle of life, there are days when we look for solace. A place where the pause button stops time and reminds us why we live and what we live for.

It used to be that social media was one of the places where we shared our joys, triumphs, successes, worst days, tears, and losses. We stayed “connected” because it was a place where we believed, no matter how distant our friends and relatives are, digital technology has kept us only a touch away.

That was then…before the trolls came. Before the disruptors invaded our space and privacy. Where inappropriate behaviour and language became a norm rather than the exception. Where cursing and bullying on-line has become a standard for propagating a culture of hate and anger. Our children have began questioning our teachings and asking more (or less) questions because of what is “shared” online.

Social media platforms, while an avenue for relative joys in life, has dramatically changed. Today, it has become a platform for political and personal agenda. To say that the well is poisoned, is probably a rough description of this scenario.

As half of the first month of 2019 is over, I challenge everyone to devote the next 60 seconds to meditate and ask yourself the question, “how do I focus to achieve finding a quiet place in my life for the remainder of the year?

At every crossroad in life, we take a leap of faith when deciding the road we take. Often times, we procrastinate at turning a new leaf because we fear that it isn’t time to let go or we remain complacent in our comfort zone or that we’re probably too old to shift gears. The question we need to ask ourselves is not how our photos look like in 2008 compared to 2018. You can sift through all those photographs and post the ones you like from a decade back and look good (better) on your profile picture. But that’s selective bias. It’s what’s deep inside you that truly matters. Are you in a better place? Are you happier today than ten years ago? What were the things and events that mattered or didn’t matter at all? Have you left the baggage of regrets in your life or are you still lugging on to them or treasuring them like the masochist you are?

The mind is like water. When it is turbulent, it’s difficult to see. When it is calm, everything becomes clear.

– Prasad Mahes

It is a kind reminder to everyone (including me) that anything that costs you your peace is too expensive.

This year, I am looking forward to finding more quiet places in my life. Somewhere where I can find myself once more and walk away from people and situations that threaten my peace of mind, self-respect, values and morals or self-worth. Somewhere where in the midst of life’s many storms, it is tranquil.

Letting go

The start of the year is always an opportune time to reflect on excess baggages of the past, learning to let go, and moving on.

Sometimes we have to let go of what’s killing us, even if it kills us to let go.

Letting go is often a painful decision. Moving to a new work environment. Seeing a dearly beloved depart untimely. Bidding goodbye to friendships and relationships. Burying the past is emotionally and physically draining.

Yet letting go can be a liberating and exhilarating feeling as well. We learn to accept that things are just not meant to be. Life after all, is meant to be lived today.

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.

– Paulo Coehlo

Life is the biggest classroom. It teaches us that we need to let go of what’s not there anymore. As Maria Kondo would put it, what does not spark joy any longer. When one lets go, one should not look back. Remember, whatever the past was, there should be gratitude in that moment. We become stronger, and hopefully, learn to pick up from our mistakes. Be grateful for the joy shared.

Be kind to yourself. The people and events in life are simply pitstops to our final destination.

The year of the Earth Pig

If you’re born in the year of the pig, this is not going to be your year.

More often than not, the bad news is that it’s usually a “challenging” year for those born in the animal year of the lunar calendar.

A bit of history

According to mythology, the Jade Emperor had invited 12 animals to his feast. The pig overslept and was the last to arrive at the banquet. That is why he was (and is) the last among the zodiac animals in the Chinese calendar.

If there is one tradition that Filipinos observe, it is the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Here’s a bit of trivia

Unlike the Roman Calendar, the Chinese calendar is lunisolar – meaning, the years, months and days follow an astronomical observation based on the sun’s longitude and the moon’s phases. Days begin and end at midnight. Months begin on the day of the new moon (hence the term Lunar Calendar). Years begin on the second (or third) new moon after the winter solstice.

A common year has 12 months (353 to 355 days) while a leap year is 13 months (383 to 385 days) in the Chinese calendar.

There are two components to the Chinese Zodiac. Because the Chinese calendar does not count years in an infinite sequence, every year is assigned a name with two components that run over a 60-year cycle. The first component is called a celestial stem: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water. The second component is a terrestrial branch. Here is where the names of the animals in the zodiac cycle appear (in the following order): Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. Each of both components are used sequentially. For example, the first year of the 60 year cycle is Jia-Zi or the wood rat, the second is Yi-Chou or the timber/wood ox, etc. One starts from the beginning when the end of a component is reached. And the cycle begins once more. The 60th year in a cycle is always called Gui-Hai or the year of the water pig.

The pig is the Yin (the dark swirl) in the Yin-Yang balance. The Yin is the dark, negative and feminine side of that balance. In Chinese culture, obesity or being fat is a symbol of wealth. Hence, the pig being regarded as a symbol of prosperity and wealth. The big ears of the pig are a symbol of long life as well.

The good news and the bad

As a general rule 2019 will be an auspicious year, because the Pig attracts success in all spheres of life. It will be a year of friendship, love and joy for all the zodiac signs.

Those that are considered to have good fortune this year include: the rat, the rabbit, ox and a recovery for the dog from their tumultuous 2018. (I can’t wait for February 05!).

Those where the year of the Pig will be challenging include those born in the year of the Pig, Tiger, Dragon, and the Snake.

The other animals will have a year under the influence of chance.

We all want to have lady luck on our side. We look forward to predictions in the hope that our future turns around for the better. I always tell my friends that the various “predictions and horoscopes” provides a general overview on how you can manage the coming year with fortitude.

Life, after all, is how we make it.

You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we’re ready to see it.

Spark of Joy

Marie Kondo has become a household name lately. She’s a tidying expert and consultant who began her business in Tokyo when she was only 19 years old. She is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. Netflix launched a TV series last January 01, 2019 entitled “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”.

I enjoyed the Netflix series more than her book. Unlike other TV shows or series on “make overs”, Kondo encourages her followers/audience to be responsible for the cleaning process in their homes. And I tell you, it’s not a quick fix. The house doesn’t get torn down and voila you have a more modern home in your midst within the week. You don’t get extra help here except from probably your partner. And that’s what makes the show (and the book) so different. You don’t let someone come and remodel your home. I didn’t realize that all those books, papers, clothes, food stuff, and other miscellaneous items were actually CLUTTER in my home.

The take home message was basically “keeping only the things that spark joy“. At first I thought it was weird that you’d meditate across your home, feel the ambiance and begin to see what needs to get tidied up. Or that I’d be thanking inanimate objects before parting with them.

The KonMari philosophy on organizing your home is akin to organizing one’s life.

First, it doesn’t tell you to change things in one swoop. As a matter of fact, you’ll need to mentally and physically prepare for this challenge.

Second, you’ll probably learn to appreciate more when you’ve completed the whole process of de-cluttering whatever is scattered in your home. I remember when I was clearing up my work room, I kept asking myself how I accumulated so many receipts and didn’t even bother to throw them away? Seriously, some of them dated all the way back to 2007!! After the clearing operations, it ended with three XXXL trash bags to shred!

Finally, when you get to the end of the task, you end up appreciating the whole process of organizing and downsizing. Those that did not spark joy, I let go freely and easily – to the shredder!!! Those that were memorable and had sentimental value, I placed aside in a nice box. I would rearrange them one of these days. You really don’t know what you’ll unearth in all that “trash”. And you’ll end up being more aware of all what you hoard.

So yeah. I’m joining the bandwagon of the clutter-free world. Who would have imagined that tidying up would give us back so much joy in our lives? The whole process has made me embrace Kondo’s philosophy. The following day, when I saw all those bank statements and statements of account from BPI, I told my help “ayan na naman yan. Sila ang talagang dapat turuan magtipid sa papel!” (There they are again. They should be taught how to save on paper!)

I’m a fan. And literally decluttering our lives, from the daily grind to the daily angst, is liberating.

If I can tidy up my house and make it feel more a home, then I can learn to declutter my life.

It’s a wonderful feeling.

A man called Hope

Everyone can be a beacon of hope.

I’m being optimistic about 2019 when I say that.

I left 2018 with a challenging case of a referral of a young boy who had a very bad infection who developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). In layman’s terms, ARDS is a rapidly progressive disease that occurs in critically ill patients. Challenging is an understatement. For those in the medical field, coming to grips with a patient with ARDS is frustratingly painful for both the family and those who are caring for him. While several doctors worked through the holidays to save his life, one cannot undermine the power of prayers. His is a story of a miracle. The rest of us were simply instruments to the power of hope.

Hope is seeing light in spite of being surrounded by darkness.

They say that once you choose hope, anything is possible. Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist. It’s more on wishing that they won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed. Difficulties overcome. And we will all be led out of the darkness into sunlight.

We can all be a person of hope for everyone. Whatever profession we are in – government, health, law, education, and other jobs – we can be a beacon of joy for all. We don’t need to be on the front page advertising ourselves on all occasions. Being anonymous or helping others goes a long way in making this a better world.

Because as Maya Angelou puts it best, “hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay“.

Wishful thinking

Each year, most of us begin writing new chapters with the dawn of the new calendar year. For those whose past year was a wreck and tremendously challenging, the new year reminds us of hope and turning a new leaf. For those who had a good year, we can only pray that we stay on a roll and that these blessings continue.

While a fresh start should be at any point in our lives, changing lanes during the start of the year is most symbolic.

Let’s kick off the year with my wishes for 2019. While they may be “wishful thinking”, I’m sure many of us would be happy if some (or all of them) came true.

The end of “Ang Probinsyano” 

I will never probably understand why this series has run for three years. While it started fine, it has gotten to the point of being irritating, irrelevant and insulting. You understand why Lito Lapid is even making a comeback at the Senate despite his lacklustre skills when he was a senator? And that the supposedly poll rating by SWS shows that he’s in the top 12? It’s shows like these where the masses are titillated that provide the avenue to even be remembered! While I get the point that Coco Martin’s show has provided jobs to has-beens and up-coming starlets and stars, you need to look at the bigger picture. It is NOT entertainment that is provided anymore. It is ludicrous to continue this show or to even watch it. It is insulting to the Filipino people that a badly written series has been borne out of this. It propagates doltishness. Yet we wonder why many Filipinos are stoic when it comes to relevant matters of the nation. The irony here is that we forget that we get what we dish out.

Brighter and better lawmakers

2019 is the year for the mid-term election. While it is still being held this coming May, elections provide us with a fresh start at correcting the government system. We can only move on as a nation if we get our acts together. We need to stop voting for those whose personal agenda are on the political page. My colleagues talk a lot about “conflicts of interest” among physicians, they forget that the ones with the greatest conflicts are many of our lawmakers. It’s sad that a lot of them think they are ‘holier than thou’ just because they are in government positions. The laws that they push for should always be for the greater good and not for personal interest of their families or the families of these dynasties. They should be more transparent in their “declaration of conflicts of interest”, which should be posted on every website of the government agency they are affiliated with. After all, the biggest conflict is the one where a government official dips his or her dirty fingers in the kitty of the government’s funds. Those laws they make should not be associated with their family businesses or personal interests.

A breath of fresh air from Duterte

So this wish is probably asking for the impossible, but it is a wish.

I wish that the people around Duterte talk to him about his style of speech. Yes, he’s the president. Yes, he’s entitled to his form of speech. But if I were his adviser, I’d tell him to behave. The world will not adjust for you. Whether you’re the CEO or the janitor, there are just good manners and right conduct that need to be observed. It is a reflection of how we are raised in the home.

These people around him cannot just stand on the sidelines and watch him implode. It isn’t good for everyone’s sanity. The ignoramus and uncouth in the lot, watch and see that he gets away with it. So what’s wrong with them following the leader?

I get the fact that it’s probably in his engram on why he talks and struts the way he does. Some people are just “the way they are”. Whether it is presidentiable or not, he wouldn’t care less. But he is, after all, our president. And that’s what makes caring about the way he is more important. Even if he doesn’t give a sh*t, we do. We all do. He will be our president until 2022. Even old men can learn to behave. Even old men have second chances in life. Because we believe people can be better if there is trust.

Respect is something given to those who deserve it. And it is earned!

Death to the trolls!

If there was one battle that was won, it was against a lot (and I can’t say all) of the trolls on social media. There are the fakers (I’d really prefer to call them f*ckers). And I’m not talking about Philippine politics here alone. We’re looking at the global perspective. This is what social media platforms have become today. This is where digital technology has taken us. A war that was made up. Fake news. Farcical opinions. Twisting the truth and peddling lies. The accountability of all this fiasco must be answered. The trolls must die!

No comments!

There was a time when all news and opinions were regarded as relevant. If you had comments about them, you could write to the editor and they would screen the comments and see whether the comments were valid or not. Valid comments were printed in the page “letter to the editor”.

With the online format for almost every application (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, etc), the stalker(s) has (have) emerged. Creepy little bitches pounce on your wall or posts. Half of these are not even solicited. The other half are looney bins waiting for a room in an asylum and typing on the keyboard during the wait. You can’t just read the article and move on? Surely, 99% of what you read or share does not need a comment. It’s FYI stupid! Your comment is not needed, wanted or desired. WTF!

My wish? That the comment, like and other emotional section be deleted for these news and opinions. It would be a better reading environment without all the distraction of having an armchair “expert” provide a comment or two.

I’m sure most of the readers just read the headlines, then jump to the comment section and all hell break loose. There’s an unhealthy exchange of comment of a comment and it’s like watching kids squabbling! Often times one can’t help but get irked at the stupid trolls who truly need to get a life!

Better days…

Our lives can have better days if we share better stories. We need to learn to be better people no matter how unfair the world is. We need to care more about others by being more sensitive about their needs. We need to be better people by showing others why integrity matters. Why the truth matters more than the lies. Why we can be better people so that others see better days.

12 chapters, 365 chances

Every new year heralds new beginnings. A fresh start.

I started this blog a year ago on a quiet winter morning in Tokyo while watching over my mom (who’s ambulatory challenged), while the clan went shopping. Her snoring was both bothersome yet melodious in some strange way.

Growing up, my sister and I knew her as a frail woman who had to overcome every ball life threw her way. Married off at an early age and had to literally raise a family after my father passed away early, she is the reason why I write about relative joys in life.

Taking care of the elderly and the disabled will always be a painful reality in all our lives.  Many of my friends around my age will have several stories to tell about our parents and grandparents.  As we came out of anticipated New Year’s Day mass today, my mom gave a long sigh.  And I couldn’t help but feel that tug in my heart.  

You see, during those days when we are able to engage in a good conversation, she sheds tears.  Always asks why she is unable to walk already.  How she has become a burden to me (and to everyone).  How frustrated and angry she is because the household help does not pay attention to her especially when she needs to go to the bathroom. (Yes.  The toilet is their place of joy at this age.) And then the minor rants – on the cost of goods and commodities; being unable to cook for me; not being able to drive (another absolute joy as it is her anchor for freedom) – anything under the sun will always serve as a reason for depression. And I get it.  After all, an idle mind will always be the devil’s playground.

Then there is having to watch the slow deterioration of her physiological and physical faculties as a human being. It’s the most painful part of our journey as mother and son. If there is one thing that she always reminds me, is to be good when she is gone.  I always joke around with her that with her resilience in life, I’d probably go ahead of her.  But that would not be a laughing matter to her.  I would look away because her eyes would be filled with glistening tears.  And I would need to choke on my own so that I can pretend (yes, that’s the operative word) that I am strong at I time when she is weak.

There comes a point in our lives when you realise that time has caught up on you or your loved ones.  I know that.  When my father passed away, we were all caught unaware.  Like a thief in the night, death came without a warning. I guess to him it was a good way to go.  After all, who wouldn’t want to go the way he did? I kissed him goodnight at the hospital bed.  I’d be back tomorrow because we were being discharged.  He smiled.  He was coming home.  That phone call at 2AM.  We rushed to the hospital.  They had been resuscitating him for the past hour. I was in a state of disbelief.  But I knew my father.  This was his way of saying goodbye – dignity intact.  I told the residents to stop resuscitating. I went to my mom and hugged her.  It was over. My mom was hysterical. It was difficult for us. That loss still resonates today and every day of my life. A very peaceful ending to the book of his life, yet painful beginning to ours.

The untimely passing of my father taught me many things. 

1. No one is ever ready for death. No matter how well prepared you are, it does not make a formal announcement when it is time. Not even the dying.

2. You’re never able to rewrite the past.  Often times we think that we have time. Time to repay the kindness.  Time to right the wrong. Time to apologise and make amends.  You’re wrong.  Life isn’t fair. Reality is, that like the life of my mom and dad, every day life throws lemons. How you make out of those lemons makes the difference.

3. Aging isn’t easy. Growing old is difficult. After 50, we’re taken aback when each of our batch mates or friends are buried earlier than us. After 60, we get used to the fact that each reunion has dwindling numbers. When you get to survive 65, there are more funerals than weddings we attend each year. After 70, it becomes lonely that you’re one of the last survivors among friends. If you make it past 80, consider it lucky that you have family taking care of you…that’s if your mind is still functioning as sharply as it did a year ago.

4. When they’re gone, the first grief is of the loss. Then the rationalization that they’re probably at peace with no more pain idea takes over. It’s when you’re back home after the burial that hits home. Those special occasions that you all celebrated together are replayed every holiday. As you comb through the photos and memorabilia left behind, one cannot help but recall or feel chagrin of losing a love one. After all, every loss ends in “what if’s”. You will always keep pushing the replay button as you move forward.

They’re a bit tougher to handle as they age. More difficult to understand. A bit more tactless to the point that sometimes you’re ashamed at the stories they tell. It is tiring. But it is what it is. One day, no matter how much we promise ourself that we will not burden our children, we will walk in our parents shoes.

Like the cycle in every calendar year, each new year gives up the opportunity to write 12 new chapters because each day gives us 365 chances to make beautiful endings.