happy thoughts and worthy causes

50 Things to Do on your 50th BDAY

  1. Learn to Scuba Dive
  2. Learn to Ride a MotorBike
  3. Try skydiving
  4. Go Kayaking
  5. Try bungee-jumping
  6. Get a tattoo
  7. Plant a tree
  8. Learn to drive an Automatic car
  9. Drive a golfcart
  10. Ride a hot air balloon
  11. Go Paddle-boarding
  12. Play billiards/pool
  13. Try Wind-surfing
  14. Write a Book
  15. Try a Banana-Boat ride
  16. Go PaintBall shooting
  17. Do Yoga
  18. Try pole-dancing
  19. Do Meditation
  20. Go bowling
  21. Do target-shooting
  22. Gamble at a casino
  23. Ride a Roller-Coaster
  24. Try archery
  25. Do an Octopus carnival ride
  26. Ride a Ferris Wheel
  27. watch the Sunrise
  28. See the Sunset on the beach
  29. Swim with a whaleshark
  30. Watch the dolphins
  31. Smoke a cigar
  32. Dive a shipwreck
  33. Rear a child
  34. Rescue a stray animal
  35. Grow your own food
  36. See a Full Moon on a mountain
  37. Eat fresh sea urchin
  38. Taste jellyfish salad
  39. Sample wild boar
  40. Eat deer meat
  41. Try eating snake
  42. Plant rice on a paddy field
  43. Keep a Diary
  44. Get published as a writer
  45. Sing on-stage
  46. Get an outrageous haircut
  47. Do a media interview
  48. Do volunteer work
  49. Support an advocacy
  50. Ride a ZiplineRAinbowFam
  1. Music is the Universal Language – Once I was attending a Legal Pluralism Conference in Depok, Indonesia and attendees were enjoined to participate in the Cultural Night/Fellowship; Everyone scrambled to have a presentation and they all quipped, “Oh, you guys will sing…All Filipinos can sing!” Yup, we do love karaoke.

 

  1. English as the mark of Civility – I have been attending one conference after another, presenting at different panels, and I started to wonder why they always choose the Filipino to be speaker or rapporteur. I soon realized it was because of our ability to speak clear, coherent English. An Indian barrister once told me in Indonesia, “I loved your presentation because your English was amazing and I could understand everything, unlike the Chinese guy’s. Did you study abroad?” Of course, I didn’t so I proceeded to explain that English was the medium of instruction in Philippine schools.

 

  1. We Are Everywhere – I arrived in Geneva on a weekend and so few people were out and about; I was having difficulty finding my way to my hotel when I heard a familiar dialect being spoken on the tram. I smiled at the 2 women and asked for directions. They asked, “Ah, kararating mo lang?” Trust that only Filipinos on their way to their 2nd or 3rd jobs to be walking about on Sundays.

 

  1. Pinoy Frugality – Again, having arrived on a snowy weekend in Amsterdam, I discovered that most food establishments were closed and only a few corner groceries were open for business. The friendly Asian cashier was expectedly Filipino who not only punched my goods, but actually advised me which items were the tasty and affordable ones. “Ma’am, yung isa ang kunin mo – mas mura at mas masarap.” Filipino frugality at its best!

 

  1. Kabayan means Friend, not just Countryman – I was once stuck in Hong Kong with 2 friends enroute from attending a Labor Migration conference in New Delhi, India and we had already consumed our last dollars. We happened upon an Overseas Filipino Worker on his way home for Christmas and struck a conversation with him. He was so happy to be going home he offered to treat us for coffee at Starbucks. Afterwards, we parted at our respective Departure Gates, and he cheerfully shouted out, “Salamat, Kabayan! Maligayang Pasko!”

 

  1. Hospitality is in the Heart – One of our best Filipino travelling traits is ensuring we have a relative or friend we can meet up with abroad. These contacts are sometimes not only expected to arrange for our accommodations, but more importantly, someone who will be showing you around the usual tourist sites. As such, our meet-ups are happy mini grand reunions. Filipino hospitality goes beyond Philippine shores after all.

 

  1. The Ubiquitous Pasalubong – Another aspect of Filipino travelling is the duty to bring with you pasalubongs or padala – token packages for the friends and relatives abroad who are sorely missing some native delicacies. It is a great burden on your baggage limit, but don’t worry because the souvenirs and pasalubongs on your return trip will also be worth it. Non-Filipinos can never understand that Pasalubong goes beyond the unique concept of gift-giving; it is an expression of high regard and affection.

 

  1. A Talent for Haggling – Because Filipinos love their pasalubong and souvenir shopping, we are also known to be the best hagglers and bargain-hunters. We smile, we charm and befriend the sellers to give us the best price for our choice item, feigning disinterest and pretending to leave, before acquiescing to the agreed price. Our tour guide in Macau once told a vendor, “These are Filipinos – you have to let them bargain and negotiate for the price of your goods!” That being said, we got the green jade bracelet I coveted for a fair price.

 

  1. Truly Cosmopolitan – I was in Beijing, China for a Regional Training along with about a dozen other nationalities. Our host put us up in a grand hotel which served a variety of cuisine from Asian to Western. One of the restaurants served food with only chopsticks as utensils. Our Indian friend struggled with her food, while she marveled at how easily we Filipinos managed to eat with them. She asked if that was how we ate in the Philippines; we replied that we actually use spoon and fork, but we learned to use chopsticks nonetheless. Later that day, dinner was steak a la carte and we were just as comfortable using a knife and fork.

 

  1. Pinoy Courage – I was touring the sites with my nephew and his wife in Geneva after a human rights training, when some overly-friendly Arab-looking men offered to take our photo with our camera. They were all touchy-feely although we refused their assistance and soon we discovered why – they had snatched my wallet! I was so incensed because it had my ID cards and remaining stipend in dollars and once we saw them rifling through my money a few yards away, I gave chase and shouted for the police from the top of my lungs. They were so shocked that a short but feisty Filipina was actually coming after them that they returned my wallet along with my money. When we reported the same at the police station and they asked me what my wallet looked like, I showed them and they were so surprised that I got it back along with my cash. Don’t mess with a Filipino abroad because she brings with her all her Pinoy qualities.

 

Of Core Hours and Flexitime

Recently, the Civil Service Commission issued an advisory reminding all government agencies to impose and monitor the core hours of its offices in ensuring performance of their public service duties to the public. This includes ensuring that the 40-hours per week work requirement is fully rendered by each government employee.

CSC Memorandum Circular No. 25, Series of 2019 was then issued directing agencies to formulate their internal rules in the implementation of flexitime with the approval of the head of the agency. What is required is that the public is assured of continuous services from 8AM to 5PM, including lunch breaks. Nonetheless, agencies may consider extending their frontline service hours before 8Am or beyond 5PM, and even opt to consider Saturdays and Sundays as regular workdays provided the employee is able to avail of a the mandated 2-rest days per week.

RA 8972 or the Solo Parents Act

In 2014, pursuant to a directive to review the availment of benefits under the Solo Parents Act, the Policy Development and Planning Bureau (PDPB) was tasked to conduct a survey on flexi-time work schedules and this resulted in a policy paper referred to the Human Resources Management and Development Bureau (HRMDB) for consideration of the Secretary. This effort was also fully supported by the Gender and Development – Technical Working Group (GAD-TWG).

This policy was eventually reiterated in the April 11, 2017 Memorandum from the Secretary signed by then DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo implementing a FULL flexitime schedule for DSWD Central Office employees.

The previous DSWD Management then considered the Solo Parents Act of 2000 or Republic Act No. 8972 which specifically grants Solo Parents a “flexible work schedule”. To wit:

“This refers to the right of a solo-parent employee to vary his/her arrival and departure time without affecting the core work hours as defined by the employer.

The employer shall provide for a flexible working schedule for solo-parents, as long as it shall not affect individual and company productivity.”

GAD Gender-Sensitive, Women-Friendly Policy

Besides the clear provision of the law under RA 8972 otherwise known as the Solo Parents Act which employers are bound to grant their workers whether in the private or public sector, the general sentiments gathered from the DSWD employees is that a “sliding” or full-flexitime is most favorable as working hours for single parents and DSWD staff who are serving as primary caregivers of sick, disabled, or ageing family members. With this arrangement, they are able to take care of their family members and fulfill their familial duties without compromising their office responsibilities. It must be remembered that the DSWD is also primarily tasked to monitor the implementation of the Solo Parents Act as Chair and convenor of the Special Review Committee (SRC) of RA 8972, in addition to the fact that it is incumbent upon it as an employer to grant said benefit. As such, the DSWD GAD-TWG has consistently claimed this as a gender-sensitive, if not women-friendly policy of the Department.

Heavy Traffic and Problematic Public Transport

CSC Chairperson Alicia R. Bala, a former DSWD Undersecretary and GAD Champion, rationalized the issuance of the CSC Memorandum Circular No. 25, S. 2019 as “part of the government strategies to address traffic congestion” and this “flexibility in the daily work schedules is a way to spread the volume of people on the road, especially during peak hours”. And admittedly, most of DSWD rank-and-file employees are daily commuters and have to contend with the difficulties of public transport from Monday to Friday. Not all of them are able to catch the very few DSWD shuttle services provided to the employees, and only DSWD officials have assigned service vehicles and are provided Representation and Travel Allowance (RATA). It makes sense for the DSWD management to adopt policies that are considerate of employees’ welfare and interest, and not impose restrictive rules which will make it more burdensome for everyone.

Note that for most DSWD employees, they understand that the nature of true development work requires them to render more than the daily 8-hrs or 40-hr workweek, oftentimes sacrificing personal and family time just to be able to do their job. The government is never “cheated” out of the CSC-required working hours by DSWD employees because most of the time they already render service over and above the call of duty and beyond the regular office hours.

Drift

DRIFT

 

They say you read like a good book,

Strangely satisfying, worth one’s while

Fun and entertaining,

Worth having in one’s life.

 

Somehow, some time later

Your company isn’t enough anymore,

Compelled to have your own friends,

To sleep in different bedrooms.

 

Short of living separate lives;

Quiet “Me” times seem more important

Than quality couple bonding moments,

We have lost “Us”…

 

Wondering if you still

Want to be with each other,

Hoping against hope

That you can still be together…

 

 

GTPL 1/11/2020

 

ADVOCACY

 

Why did I do it?

I had no choice

I was escaping an unhappy situation

And was dealt that unlucky hand.

No one else would take it,

So the assignment fell on me.

 

It was awful, quite problematic

Got a full dressing down on my second week,

So I made the most of it,

Because one must bloom

Where one is planted, after all

 

Started with baby steps,

Small bites of each daunting task,

Until little changes began to matter.

And before you know it,

The world has already changed

For the better….

 

 

GTPL 1/9/2020

Of Prospects and Passions

We started from zero

Nay, we began at a negative!

From chaos and confusion,

Nothing to show for,

Yet full of promise.

Armed only with prospects and passion,

We embarked on an adventure.

 

Faced with overwhelming odds,

No one expected much;

And truthfully, fear set in

Many a times.

Afraid, but we valiantly soldiered on,

Heroically doing our best,

Believing In earnest,

That things will get better

As they soon did.

 

GTPL 1/9/2020

LOST IN SPACE

 

It goes beyond the blank spot on the bed

When you start missing someone

Who is still beside you.

 

It’s not the empty seat next to you,

But the deafening silence in the car

During long drives or caught in traffic.

 

It’s more than skipping a few meals together,

It’s the conversations which have suddenly stopped;

When “gone” comes before the actual leaving.

 

It’s when that unique connection has disappeared,

Replaced by a distance too large to bridge.

And in its place, a vacuous space

Where your memories should have been.

 

GTPL 1/6/2020

 

Friend or Foe

 

I cannot recognize you

For what or who have become

Your failure to admit

Or comprehend the implications

Of your behavior

Regardless of your motivation.

 

I do not question the change;

Accept and understand are the only options.

But I worry about the consequences

As the saying goes,

“there are no permanent friends, or enemies..”

 

Who have you chosen to be?

 

 

GTPL 1/6/2020

MOVE

 

To be lonely even with someone

To feel lost even when you haven’t lost your way

We grasp at straws,

The gathered bundle of which

Comprise the small details of a life.

 

To be told to keep moving

To take those little steps everyday

One foot, and then the other,

Trudging purposefully, or aimlessly,

It no longer matters.

 

So just go through the motions

Head down, under the radar.

Striving to endure and persist,

Believing this too shall pass,

Praying Karma comes sooner than later.

 

GTPL 1/6/2020

There are things which we do not speak of;

Mere echoes of our past troubles and heartaches.

Yet these are the thoughts which consume our days,

Feeding the speculations in one’s mind,

Regardless of their truth or not,

Festering in your soul, smothering whatever

Good faith you were once able to extend.

Bad faith and suspicion now abounds;

Where did it start? Where did it come from?

Or has it always been there?

Gnawing at you, the voices you hear inside your head,

Whispering malice and falsehoods.

And in a flash of anger, a slip of an unguarded moment,

Gone are the usual niceties and all are revealed

For who they really are.

And so it seems that comfort and convenience supercedes all,

Becoming but reflections of greed and avarice.

 

GTPL 1/5/2020