Did you know that there are 925 million(almost a billion) throughout the globe, majority of whom are children in South Asia, particularly China and India? Yes folks, the said data was culled out from the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), a large humanitarian organization whose primary goal is to end world hunger. Cool! (that is how young boys and girls in school would utter if they hear great things).
But of all places worldwide, why China and India? Of course, one may be surprised why on earth there are still millions of hungry people in these countries despite their progress in terms of building major national and agricultural infrastructure. We are likewise cognizant of the fact that these countries are the two powerhouses in information technology, being manufacturers and developers of high-tech hardware and software. Most of all, China is one of the biggest creditors of the United States, a developed and industrialized nation! Yet, there are so many people suffering from hunger and malnutrition in the said countries? Hard-core economists would be able to further elucidate on the subject but there is a simple and logical explanation to this. One could be their dense population and another is the wide disparity between their richest and poorest people, among other things (e.g. beliefs, policies and system of government, etc).
Some people would have thought that most of the suffering and impoverished kids would have come from the poorer countries in Africa, especially when recent harrowing images of dying African kids are being shown on the worldwide web. We can hardly see suffering Chinese children being shown on TV, and in other media and online networks, and even in WFP’s website! Why? This is truly mind-boggling!
According to WFP, there is enough food to feed these people but the access of quality food and the means to deliver the same to the undernourished kids’ table is the big problem. Sure, respective Governments of these affected kids are doing their jobs but definitely it is not sufficient or perhaps it is not a priority.
So, how can each one of us help feed these people? The WFP has designed various ways on how to raise funds and acquire donations from the richer nations and other generous individual donors. But they have also other innovative ways whereby ordinary “unmoneyed” people, either in groups or individuals, can participate and donate grains of rice for the poor worldwide. This is neither a joke nor a scam! It comes from a reputable institution, so it could be real and legit!
My Useful Tips, being an advocate for a good and quality life for everyone, has been attracted to it and decided to join the said WFP’s program which is being managed by the FreeRice team. The scheme is not quite easy as there is a need to invest time and sheer talent (and treasure as well because there is a corresponding value for the time spent) in order to produce a grain of rice. Otherwise, it would be a futile exercise on your part if you don’t have both and the willingness (even on your spare time) to do it!
For more than a month, “My Useful Tips” has already donated more than half a million grains of rice for the hungry in developing countries. Said grains of rice can be gained by answering the questions provided in the website under a wide wide range of categories to select from such as Humanities, English (Grammar and Vocabulary), Mathematics/Algebra, Geography, Science (Anatomy), Chemistry, SAT (Entrance Exams), and other Language Learning (Spanish, French, Italian and German). For every correct answer, there is a corresponding 10 grains of rice which will be remitted to your coffers and eventually donated to the hungry in your name. But it is actually the sponsors and advertisers who pay, in your stead, the corresponding amount for the rice gained/donated.
Half a million grains of rice is not bad at all. It may be “small fry” to some people, but to “My Useful Tips” it’s like catching a “big fish” although it is just starting and learning to walk, a baby step! It has learned to enjoy and love exploring the alleys and byways of freerice web place already, i.e., hopping from one category to another! Hopefully, it would be able to deliver thousands of sacks of rice to the poor when time comes. What is good in this is that responding to the trivia questions does not only allow to share one’s time and donate something for the poor but it also stimulates the mind – a fun way of refreshing what one has learned in school, increasing one’s learning curve and improving his/her/their general knowledge on so many things under the sun! But if you have enough “dough” and don’t have the time, opt to share with them and donate your cash online instead.
Based on My Useful Tips experience, helping solve the world’s greatest problem is worth it!
How about you guys? Why don’t you try, join us, “rice up” and have some fun!
"Count your blessings" is an old adage we hear oftentimes from people which most of us can relate to regardless of location, ability, gender and socio-economic status. But how frequent do people count their blessings? Always? Once, twice, thrice a day? We really don't have any idea and there is no way we can quantify it, there is no rule of thumb for this! As long as we are happy and contented despite the lack of resources, that should be the very essence of life. The fact that we are willing to share what we have with the less fortunates, even though how scarce our personal finances are, there is more reason for us to count our blessings. That is truly a blessing in itself….a blessing that we are still "able" and "strong" to lend a helping hand to the impoverished, to the old and indisposed, to children who have been deprived of quality education due to lack of school supplies and other educational related necessities, among others.
When we count our blessings, we forget our failures, shortcomings and wrongdoings, and instead we think and show gratefulness for the good things we've done. Somewhere in the process, we do not only bring joy to other people but we experience likewise a certain feeling of personal satisfaction. We also start to give recognition to the people we love and those around us, thus creating a happy family environment.
I would like to share with you an article forwarded to me by a very dear "kin" who in her early "tweens", has already a passion to help those in need. Instead of celebrating an important occasion with someone special and inviting friends to a party or fine dining, she decided to spend it in "style"! Together with her fellow "nightingales" and friends, they went out of their comfort zones and organized a worthy cause which made the sick and the aged and some unfortunate kids happy. It didn't cost them a lot of money to help these people, but the willingness and the heart to do it and a little help from benefactors made the event a reality and success.
Incidentally, the said activity reminded me of our responsibility, every citizen, to help our respective Governments in our own little way to achieve its plans and programs particularly its Development Goals. My kin's group of young urban professionals initiated this activity on their own volition, giving up a little of their time, luxury and treasure to help the poor. Isn't this one humble and quickest way of helping Governments achieve its goals of helping the poorer sectors of society? I commend you guys. Good job! Keep it up!
The blog episode below is a brief article written by one of my closest allies in the family! (Note: Pictures herein are not for reproduction and are exclusively for my useful tips use only)
“Always count your blessings”
by: Kristine Angela S.A.
A famous saying that all of us should live by. By doing so, it will let us know how fortunate we are and how much our God loves us! After counting our blessings, that’s the time we should start to share. Sharing and giving to our less fortunate brothers is another way of thanking God for the abundant blessings He’s given and will be giving us. It doesn’t matter how much amount you can give, as long as you have the heart and sincerity in giving, it matters more than anything else.
In this connection, Mike and I planned for something different to celebrate our anniversary. Even though our relationship (boyfriend-girlfriend) is relatively new, it has grown and matured in our faith in God. Instead of having the usual dating or going out of town, we opted to share our blessings and do a small charity work in a local orphanage and home for the aged. As soon as we finished inquiring and visiting the sites, I started a text brigade to our family, friends and colleagues asking for their help for the said project. As I predicted, most of the people I texted were all supportive and generous enough to help us. And then, one by one people started to pledge for the things they could provide and share. After gathering all the things that we needed for the charity work, I called the orphanage and home for the aged to schedule a date to visit them. And we agreed to do it on May 17, 2012!Yeeeeeyy!!!
Our first stop was at theNAZARETH: BahayPag-ibig Home For The Aged. It is located beside the San Pablo Cathedral, San Pablo City, Philippines. The said institution is a non-government organization which accommodates abandoned elders. Presently, they have 17 "lolos " and "lolas" (grandfathers and grandmothers).
The administrator of the home for the aged told us that like any other charitable institutions, donations come only seasonally. So, we thought that it was more practical to give them their personal needs. We gave them diapers, toiletries, medicines, and prepared some snacks for them.
Because Mike and I are both nurses, our friends in the hospital volunteered to go with us and helped us even though the sun was scorching hot that day. Thanks guys!!!! Deeply appreciated..
Our next stop was at the Open Door Christian Orphanage located at FuleSahagun St., San Pablo, City. It was founded in the year 2000 with the vision to reach out to the orphaned, abandoned, abused and destitute children. They have 27 kids in their protective custody right now.
As for the kids, we prepared school materials for them just in time for the new school year which is soon forthcoming. Notebooks, pencils, crayons, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, are some of the items found in their loot bags. We also gave them some toys, medicines and prepared some snacks for them.
They were all accommodating and we received a warm welcome from them.
All in all, we had a great time doing this small charity work. It is nice to see other people smile because of the little things that you’re giving them. Or they’re just happy, simply because you spend some time to be with them. This project made us realize how blessed we were. For sure, this is not the last time that we’re gonna do this. This is just a great start for us.‘Till our next project!!!!
Ordinarily, when students go back to school in January after the winter or Christmas break , they would be asked by their teachers to list down their New Year's Resolutions. Based on experience, it is much easier to encourage middle school kids to formulate their resolutions than those in high school and college.
New Year's resolutions can be similar to formulation of short, medium or long-term plans and programs in a corporate or business settings. The need to review the past year's performance and make assessments on which areas or operations should be stopped or would require improvements are deemed important. The same is true for all of us, we make appraisals and judgments of ourselves as basis to do good and perform better next time around.
Encouraging the kids at an early stage to undertake New Year's resolutions by their parents or teachers is an effective tool in raising them to be focused and diligent in their studies and making them realize more what life is all about. As much as possible kids resolutions should be uncomplicated, doable and achievable to avoid failures and hitches along the way. Said resolutions should be foreseen as a positive realization at the end of the day. Some of these could involve household chores, study habits, play time and their relationship with family and friends. We often hear kids tell their parents and teachers specific things to undertake such as: a) I will do my homework and sleep in time, b) I'll be a good friend, stop bullying my classmates, c) I'll limit my use of computer and get away from video games and spend more time in studies, and so on and so forth.
Regardless of their beliefs, some kids surprisingly start their resolutions thanking God for the blessings received, others wished for good grades in class, and most of them included certain changes in their relationship with family especially with their Moms and siblings. Here are samples of the resolutions done by the kids in class:
“I just wanted to thank God for giving me life, food and shelter. My New Year's resolution is to know more about God, do my chores and respect my parents. Thank you for protecting my family, giving my parents money to buy food for the family and giving me an education.” - Zeina
“My New Year's Resolution is to be healthy, also try my best to do good in school, get good grades and also to behave in class”. – Tiffany
“For 2012, I want to help my sister and my Mom to learn English.” – Amy
“My New Year's Resolution is to read more than 100 books. My second resolution is to eat more healthy food and eat fruit and vegetables.” My third resolution is to get better grade in school. My fourth resolution is to help my Mom to do something with my brother. I hope my New Year's resolution comes true.” - Karen
“My New Year's resolution is to help my Mom do chores, help my grandma clean up the house, and help my brother clean up too.” - Isabela
“My New Year resolution is to wash the dishes more and help my Mom clean up more. …I also want to stop being shy.' - Kaitlyn
In a classroom with a ratio of 10/15 girls to boys, it has been observed that the boys were hesitant to write down their resolutions and were not as expressive as the girls. In fact, one boy even posed a query if it was possible to write a “No New Year's Resolution”. Of course, his wish was not granted, he was convinced to put his resolution in writing. Here's what he wrote:
“ I want to be cool and awesome”! - Jeffrey
Parents and teachers play a vital role in assisting the kids achieve their goals, no matter how simple their wishes are. Who knows it could be the first step in our quest to mold future better men and women and leaders in this world. Yes, it could be the first out of the long and winding steps! But this one step could definitely have a positive impact on one child's wish to the very least!
Education is for everyone. This is true if all of us have the interest for it and have the means to acquire the same. Undeniably, it is the right of each and everyone of us to go to school and learn. However, what is actually happening is that there are some who have been deprived of the said fundamental right mainly for economic reasons.
UN-MDG monitor for Goal No. 2 revealed that while there have been strides in enrollment in primary education (about 6% increase from 2000 to 2008), it is still not enough to be able to hit the target 3 years from now. Approximately, 75 million are still out of school, majority of which are girls who have neither been to school at all nor have been able to finish or complete school's requirements. To date, UN data estimates that there are about 800 million illiterate adults all over the world, roughly 67% of which are women mostly from the Sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, etc.).
It will be recalled that in “myusefultips” previous blog post, entitled “The Value of Quality Learning…." (http://www.myusefultips.com/?p=2237 ), it was mentioned that there are students throughout the globe who have been gifted with mental and analytical abilities but the problem lies on the needed finances for them to go to the best and quality schools and likewise the absence of certain interventions which Governments could have provided to its citizenry in so far as access to high-quality education is concerned. Each country has its own “best and brightest” boys and girls (poor and rich alike) and these privileged young minds could possibly build a brighter future for the next generations if their talents, particularly in science and technology, are unleashed, nurtured and honed.
UNESCO's (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Budapest Declaration on Science stated, among others, that “….Science should be at the service of humanity as a whole, and should contribute to providing everyone with a deeper understanding of nature and society, a better quality of life and a sustainable and healthy environment for present and future generations.” Said UNESCO's declaration recognized that science has a role in alleviating poverty and stimulating economic growth. The world is full of natural resources to be explored and discovered through scientific research and its applications which are deemed essential to development, but at the same time the world is being attacked with huge problems (e.g. poverty, poor health, ecological degradation, etc.). Thus, there is plenty of room for improvements using the resources that are available around us so we can have healthy and productive life and a fulfilling and bright future ahead of us.
In view of this, Government leaders particularly in developing economies are being encouraged to put in much higher budgetary appropriations for education and invest in and assist the poor but deserving kids (boys and girls), most especially, to obtain the said scientific knowledge which is expected to yield benefits for the entire human race at the end of the day. Rather than delving more of their study and leisure time to social technology such as video games and frequenting to social networking sites, these young bright students should be motivated to focus on more productive scientific learning related tools to increase awareness and stir their passion on the "real" science and technology. However, these could be realized only if and when all the stakeholders starting from the students, parents, teachers, businesses and the Government are willing and able to cooperate and share their time, talents and treasures altogether.
One example of a Government which responded to the said call to formulate education related reforms is the Philippine Government. In line with one of the Government's agenda to invest in people thru provision of quality education and ultimately make the county be more globally competitive, the Philippine Development Foundation or "PhilDev "(a non-profit organization based in the Philippines and the United States), organized a forum with the theme, “Accessing the Global Markets through Science and Technology (Innovations in Education Summit), on November 7th at NYC 's Asia Society Museum.
The said forum was attended by various experts in the academe, business sector, philanthropists and ordinary people and media (including bloggers) who share the same passion and believe in the advocacy. It was also in collaboration with the Philippine Government with some cabinet officials as speakers in the said event.
As you may know, the Philippines ranks 75th out of the 142 countries based on the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, specifically in terms of technological innovations. Despite the country's positive economic growth, there is but a widening gap between the rich and the poor, where the latter (majority) holds the bottom portion of the pyramid, so to speak. Poverty and corruption related problems have worsened. Acknowledging these problems, the present Government's administration has avowed to correct and improve this situation by formulating and implementing a budget emphasizing on education, health, tax collection efforts, conditional cash transfer (CCT) and other revenue generating measures.
According to the Philippines' Secretary of Finance (Cesar Purisima) who was one of the speakers in the said event, the Philippine Government is bent on transforming the country (which is an archipelago in terms of its physical geography) as an “Island of Excellence”. He shared with the audience the proposed “Aquinomics” (named after the last name of the current Philippine President) of the present administration which has 4 pillars: macroeconomic stability, investment in people (e.g. CCTs, etc.), public private partnerships or private sector participation in some of its major public utilities and infrastructure building (e.g. schools, etc.) and the like. However, even if backed up with good policy and good intentions, there will always be skeptics along the way. As a matter of fact, the newly coined "Aquinomics" is even tagged by some as “no economics” or “no to economics”! But it didn't matter, he got a standing ovation from the audience, probably for his eloquence or his convincing powers!
Nevertheless, the forum was successful as it elicited some supporters to pledge and contribute to the “Super Fund” which was created for scholarship funds for the best and brightest Filipino youth to pursue studies and careers in the fields of science and engineering. Those in attendance were encouraged to pledge about $5,000/annum or $20,000 for a 4-year course to the said Fund to sponsor a a poor but bright freshman college student for his school related fees. So, if you wish to be involved in this endeavor by sponsoring a young Filipino child or college student to pursue studies in science and any technology related courses and who could possibly become scientists someday, please feel free to coordinate with any official of PhilDev at phildev.org.
The said Forum on Education was indeed relevant and timely as we are in the 21st century education. To cope with changing times, it is imperative for all Governments to respond to this challenge of developing young, playful and innocent minds into critical minds. Even if a student is incredibly bright, he can't simply do it by himself. He would require some guidance and support from all stakeholders mentioned earlier.
Thus, for a country to be more globally competitive and to continue to thrive, each citizenry should have to educate themselves, not just aim for the simple one but a better high-quality education. As further stated in the aforesaid Budapest Declaration, "Science and Technology should be resolutely directed towards prospects for better employment, improving competitiveness and social justice." As such, education in science and technology could serve as the focal point to achieving an end to world poverty.
1. After the Philippine forum on Education on the 7th of November, a gala show was held at the Lincoln Center with Filipino-American talents who have been successful in Broadway such as Lea Salonga who starred in Ms. Saigon, for one. The repertoire was mostly from the compositions of the famous American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim.
2. On November 17 to 19, 2011, the Fifth World Science Forum shall be held in Budapest, Hungary
3. Above photos are not for reproduction. Thank you.
Catholics throughout the globe are commemorating two very important feast/holy days on the first two days of November, namely: All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd). Nowadays, we almost celebrate everything for everyone. We have Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandmother's Day, and even Pet's Day! So, how could we forget the holy men and women who are now in Heaven and our departed loved ones who might still be in purgatory? As such, the Catholic church allotted the first two days of November for the Saints in Heaven and for the departed souls, respectively. Some of us may have reservations/contradictions about this dogma of the church but Catholics do believe in heaven, hell and another place after life called “purgatory”.
If you happen to take up theology classes, you may have encountered the three compositions of the Church: the church militant (the people who are still living here on earth), the church suffering (departed souls in purgatory) and the church triumphant (the saints, angels and every souls who have been raised up to heaven to be with God forever —Wow!). It takes a grain of faith to believe all these things and as we all know faith is a virtue, it's a grace which comes from God. As I always tell the kids in class, faith can not be found in malls, it can not be bought, they have to ask it from God!
Briefly, this article shall focus on the suffering souls in purgatory. The scope is quite limited based on my little knowledge, what I've learned in school, from my parents, and various literature of the Catholic church with imprimatur of an authorized catholic official and based on the canon laws of the church.
Purgatory is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven…”. As such, purgatory is the place where departed souls who have asked for and have received God's mercy and forgiveness through the sacraments of Confession, Annointing of the Sick or by simply uttering the needed sacred words before their last breath, are being temporary lodged prior to entering the gates of Heaven. I understand that even if the dead person has already been forgiven for a particular grievous sin, his/her soul may still not be eligible to enter heaven right away. The souls have to pass through the rigors (“purging fires”) of purgatory, and that he or she will have to pay the price for what he/she wrongly did on earth. It's like a temporary prison cell and that they can only be released once they have truly atoned for their sins and with the help from us, the living through prayers. As such, the dead souls will have to be purified and cleansed out of their sins first before they can be with God in Heaven forever.
As depicted in the painting below, the church triumphant (on top) are those that are already in heaven, next to it are the church militant (the living) while those below are composed of the church suffering. Church here is not the infrastructure that we see around, but it is being referred to as the community of believers or God's followers. As can further be gleaned from the said visual art, the “holy souls in purgatory” appear to be begging and pleading for our help primarily to shorten the duration of their stay in the said place maybe and so that their sufferings will be cut short. The souls in purgatory can no longer do something to rectify their wrongdoings because they're no longer alive. As such, they heavily rely on us, on our help. Note the phrase “holy souls in purgatory” because their sufferings in purgatory are merely temporary as all of them shall have the chance to see and join God in Heaven and share His eternal life and love. However, the probability of being raised up to Heaven would depend on the degree of the assistance accorded them and how they have been sorry for their sins. Absolutely, the souls in purgatory are very much far better than the souls in Hell who are agonizing from eternal damnation and could no longer be saved.
So, what can we do to help the souls in purgatory so they shall be released from the temporary sufferings at the soonest possible time? Oh, it only takes a little of our time, probably a minute or so and should be said everyday if possible. It won't even cost us a hundred bucks to do it!
Here are some simple tips to help our departed brothers and sisters who have gone ahead of us: (a) A simple mental or vocal prayer (perhaps with a lighted candle) offered for a particular soul or for all the souls in purgatory (b) A Holy Mass for the intention of a particular dead person or for all the souls in purgatory; (c) Recitation of the Holy Rosary, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary; (d) Undertaking corporal works of mercy such as giving water to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, giving alms to the poor, comforting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and the like; and (e) Other good little things we do towards our neighbors or to ourselves, making some small sacrifices or the so-called “mortification” which we can offer to them silently in our hearts.
I understand the help spared to the holy souls in purgatory will be returned to us in three- folds. There are plenary indulgences that are expected to be gained from doing good works, however under certain conditions, e.g. going to mass, hearing confession and receiving the Holy Communion. Likewise, the holy souls in purgatory once they reached Heaven probably would be grateful for what we did for them. They may also be of help to us, by returning the favor, when we need and seek their help someday!
Please feel free to say your piece if you have other thoughts on this.
How would you feel if you were the subject of scrutiny, embarrassment and humiliation in public? Darn, right? You see, in any humiliation, there are always two faces of the coin, a sad face and a happy face, i.e, there are always two opposing parties involved. Sure, you may already have an idea what I'm driving at , but if you decide to continue reading this, you will clearly understand the perspective from my side.
I am not going to dwell on petty embarrassments like fashion blunders, farting in subways and in other public places, being insulted by a professor in school, being bullied by an arrogant classmate, office mate or boss, or just an annual naked “freedom” run of a certain fraternity or sorority organizations. These kinds of shameful incidents could be merely considered as a sheer joke or a hoax to treat or trick a particular group of audience, as an excuse to ignore the feelings of shame. These forms of humiliations, at least, could also serve as a challenge to strive more and be successful in the long run.
But, there are moments in our lives that we face a sense of ignominy as a consequence of our bad moves or by other people's wrongdoings which we end up bearing the brunt, and which could have adverse impact on our persona as a whole, our self-esteem, and particularly on our health, such as stress, depression or in worst case, tragic incidents.
Thus, what will be discussed here rather is the type of embarrassment or humiliation faced in public trials wherein the entire personal background information and properties of the person concerned are being exposed, investigated, questioned, showed and reported via the tri-media, thus affecting not only the reputation of the person being probed but also that of his or her extended families, despite the person's declared innocence. The said trial could involve so-called “big ticket” illegal activities such as malversation, corruption, bribery, immoral acts and the like, allegedly committed by certain top managers in Government or by the “big fishes” in large quasi-public or private institutions.
The televised long hours of public hearings regardless of the venue (be it judicial or legislative ) and the valid provocative interrogations posed upon by the investigating body could very well affect the physical, psychologicall and emotional state of the person subject of the probe, irrespective of whether the person is guilty or not. Gathering the relevant materials to prove one's innocence and responding to the queries are definitely tedious and mind boggling on the part of the person being questioned. The person's private life will be uncovered, without consent, especially if the pertinent documents (Internal Revenue Tax Payments, Transfer Certificate of Titles for real estate properties, Statement of Assets and Liabilities, etc.) are publicly accessible and available. There are times though that the investigating body via the media will attempt to unravel the person's deepest secrets, dirty or not, so as to find out if there's something that could directly or indirectly affect the person's integrity, especially so if he or she has obviously committed wrong but still keeps denying the allegations.
Most of the time, people being subjected to public trials with media coverage are the who's who in Government and other large institutions implicated in scandals and irregularities. The investigating body and its staff will look for data from all possible sources to the extent of even utilizing irrelevant information, which turns out to be helpful in finding out if there's something that could affect the person's reputation at the end of the day. In this case, the media serves as an ally of Governments in a way but of course there may be other selfish reasons behind media's involvement. Media people would not waste their air time minutes on “small scale” transactions by the way. They would always be present in celebrated or sensational cases, even willing to use their prime time to telecast the event, and also trying to unearth provocative information about the person in question for certain reasons, which sometimes could be perceived as going beyond their journalistic responsibilities. This is the reason why people being probed feel so embarrassed, harassed, and humiliated, leaving with no option and as advised by their lawyers and cohorts to exercise their rights of privacy and privileges against self incrimination. But we all know that the said rights and privileges under the law must be beyond any cloud of doubt so as not to raise further questions from the probing body and the public as well, otherwise, it would only make the person being investigated look like blameworthy.
I have witnessed people being questioned in congressional enquires, people in power who have been accused of amassing government funds or diverting funds contrary to law . Even if the person is confident that he is innocent, the fact however, that there are allegations against him and he or she is being invited to shed light on the issue, is already humbling on his part. How much more if there are substantial proofs and credible witnesses that could pin the person down? The legislative and judicial proceedings can be so vexing and wearisome, as such I can simply understand the sorrows and agonies of these people. Some of them became frail and sickly due to sleepless nights, and of course aside from the reputation damage caused by the said enquiries, impacting on the person's future career , political life and professional growth. But these are harsh realities of life, one has to pay penalties for a wrongdoing and these investigations merely serve as preliminary step of the never ending legal process.
We've read two recent examples about the allegations thrown at two men of esteem and respect, the IMF Chief Executive Dominique Strauss-Kahn and NY Representative Anthony Weiner in relation to sex related scandals. But due to the said allegations, these men were forced to leave their high-profile posts and may have probably lost their self-dignity and pride, by just a “click of their fingers”, their fault so to speak! Imagine, these people worked for so many long years to build their unquestionable and honorable reputation but because of the said humbling experience, all what they have, seemed to have all gone, including their much loved professions and some close friends around them, i.e., on the assumption that so called honor, reputation and laurels are still important to them.
Another situation pertains to that of a Cabinet Secretary and a top brass military chief who committed suicide because of severe depression as a result of the enquiries related to corruption in the military. I could only surmise that he was not able to manage the televised blow-by-blow proceedings which basically downgraded his stellar academic and professional background due to serious allegations hurled at him and his family. It was a tragic incident as he pulled the trigger on his head, his blood flowing on his mother's grave. Just like the investigative committee and the public observing the hearings, I don't have any idea whether the man was guilty or not, he was supposedly still innocent until proven guilty in court, but what happened was truly saddening and shocking. Similar tragic incidents of this nature also happen in other countries. Japanese officials guilty of irregularities for example do opt to commit hara-kiri (death penalty), due to shame and embarrassment.
In a scenario where the person being questioned appeared to have committed or actively participated in the alleged crime based on evidences presented, the public opinion can easily be elicited and overwhelming. Press freedom, the role of media and public perception are highlighted in this case. This is where people are in awe on how the person involved was able to squander the resources of government in so many years without being discovered immediately. The social networking sites are quite successful in polarizing and provoking its readers to comment on this kind of issues.
While investigations of this sort have many drawbacks, two of which are sometimes labeled as plain political grand standing or witch hunting, we can't also deny the fact that most of the times, the allegations can apparently be true at the end of the day, after a court ruling is served convicting the accused even if it started only from a simple hearsay or mere allegations . As others would say, where there's smoke, there's fire and that small things come from big things. As such, these kinds of deliberations in any investigative venue are warranted in order to catch those people who have allegedly contributed to a particular country's economic downfall because of inefficiency, unethical behaviors and corruption. This is where the joy and success of trial by publicity comes in. The investigative body with the help of the media and the public can be efficient in disclosing information that would be able to assist Government in curbing and eradicating the said illegal activities through formulation of new reforms, enhancement of existing laws and enactment of new laws.
There have been studies which showed that public opinion really matters in effective governance. Transparency and accountability are deemed important in any major government transactions. People handling projects or any operations for that matter should be accountable for whatever is lost and should pay the price for what has been badly done. The said incidents are not isolated, it is also happening in any parts of the globe. Inviting and bringing accountable people for any alleged wrongdoing to any investigative body for questioning should always be welcomed. It should not be considered as a “slap on their faces”. In fact, it should serve as a grim reminder not only to the accused person but for all of us, to learn from our mistakes. Who knows, the one being invited could even treat the same as a slap on the faces of the members of the investigative body, especially if he or she is truly innocent about the accusations.
However, there are times that we question ourselves, why should we be worried or feel humiliated if in our hearts we can prove to the whole world that we are innocent and has got nothing to do with the allegations? Why would we be afraid and stressed out in responding to valid and offensive queries, for the betterment of our Governments? Wouldn't we be proud to participate in said deliberations? WHY?
In the interest of the first timers here at www.myusefultips.com, the Good Friday reflection posted last year centered on the roles played by Peter, Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate and how their actions relate to and infuence us nowadays. The said blog article made reference to Mell Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ, for description purposes.
For this year, the author shall attempt to discuss the merits of Good Friday observance. Did you know that for Christians, specifically Catholics , fasting and abstinence are officially observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday? As mentioned in my earlier blog, Good Friday is part of the Three Days (Triduum), making it as one of the most holy days in the church calendar, hence, people are required to offer more sacrifices for the love of God.
So, what happened on Good Friday? There was a time a friend of mine who has no religious orientation (because sometimes he's atheist, sometimes he's not!) posed this query, “Why do you call it Good Friday? Of course he knows what's being celebrated on Good Friday, as he's a learned man. He's aware of it and in fact, almost all of us regardless of our beliefs know that it's the day when Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. However, some of us, including my philosophical friend , do not have any idea why is it coined “good”, and not “sad”, “bad” or “Black Friday”, since what happened during that day was truly disappointing and harrowing. This is one thing hard to explain especially for reluctant and skeptics. Honestly, I don't have a clear-cut scientific or theoretical definition of Good Friday, even in some of the authorized books of the Church I've read, I haven't encountered any. However, based on the teachings and learning in school and from the priests' homilies in Church, I came to know and realize that it might have been called “Good Friday” simply because it was the time Jesus mission here on earth was accomplished. His sufferings and death turned out to be the fulfillment of God's promise and love for us, that is to save mankind from the destruction of sin and to prepare us for our journey to eternal life, which is Heaven where God's Kingdom is. And that makes it good, not just good but VERY GOOD! As such, we can even call it the “Great Friday” or how kids put it, "Awesome Friday". The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) specifically states that Jesus death is the unique sacrifice and it was consummated on the cross.
In today's culture, the persecution and the step-by-step suffering of Jesus starting from His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Scourging and the Crowning with Thorns up to his tragic journey to Mt. Calvary with the heavy wooden cross would mirror the sufferings of men, the abandoned, the distressed, the lowly, those facing human rights abuses, those experiencing all kinds of pain, emotional, psychological and physical pain. We have always been taught and we've learned that God is in the midst of these people, those who are spiritually and materially poor, and therefore, even if they are experiencing sadness in their lives, effectively they're not because God is always there to comfort and rescue them, if they so desire and call on Him. These kinds of spiritual tenets and truths may be beyond human comprehension. Surely these truths are pretty hard to understand particularly if we have all the comforts in life and material possessions which some of us may have acquired it through illegal businesses, through graft and corruption, by persecuting other people and other means of bad practices. We have to be reminded that Jesus on Good Friday stands for the oppressed, the weak , the destitute and the abandoned. He was physically there to help them.
On Good Friday and Holy Saturday, perhaps it would be prudent for us to reflect on the 8 Beatitudes and compare it with what we've done in the past towards our brothers and sisters throughout the world, our neighbors, taking into account our failures, limitations and shortcomings. As mentioned, God is with the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. God will reward these people at the end of the day. However, some of us would argue, if God is with the oppressed and the like, then why are they in such a miserable state? Exactly, this is the substance of Good Friday. This is what it's all about. Jesus wants us to carry our crosses so we can follow Him. One way of responding to this call is to share what we have to and help other people in need. Oh, this is pretty hard to grasp as it is not easy to give away our treasures, especially if it's hard-earned ….but with God's “paradoxical” promises on the Mount of Olives, there is always hope for all of us, hope that would encourage us to renew our lives, not to give up on ourselves, not to give up on others but most of all not to give up on God.
As we are about to enter the Easter season, myusefultips.com would like to greet you all a Blessed and Happy Easter!
Today is myusefultips100th blog post! Yeah, big deal and HOORAY for all you guys out there! However, since it falls on Holy Week, no merry making will be held.
Today is also the time wherein the feet of many of our Christian brothers all over the world are being washed by priests and pastors during liturgical rites to commemorate Jesus’ washing of the feet of the 12 Apostles. The Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles and His revelation that one of them will eventually betray Him likewise happened on this day.
One of the young girls asked me, "Why did Jesus wash the feet of the Apostles?" Unsure of what to say, I candidly told her that the Apostles feet were dirty maybe as they had just traveled on foot and I thought that was the most practical answer I could give her. But then I further explained that even if Jesus was the Apostles' Master, He was a very humble and kindhearted man, and doing such thing was not an issue to Him. During Jesus' time, the servants were tasked to wash the feet of their Masters. However, some of you may be aware that the washing of the feet was portrayed as a form of symbolism, that Jesus would want the Apostles to practice the virtues of charity and humility, a reminder for all of us that we have to be servants of one another. This is precisely the reason why Jesus, after washing the feet of His disciples, said to them: “Do as I have done to you”.
For young kids, to be humble and kind may be an easy thing to do even if it's against their will. As such, humility and charity are non-issues to them at all. Kids ask no questions, they just obey whatever is being told by their parents, their teachers in school, their leaders in the church and in any school related groups or teams and the like. However, for grown ups and adults , it would be another story! There would always be a tinge of doubt, they would always ask questions, they would worry and fret on certain things.
One of the two greatest commandments is to love your neighbor as you love yourself! But how can we love another person if we're not practicing the virtues of humility and charity or vice versa? How can we carry out these virtues if we think of ourselves as superior in all aspects of life (career, wealth, intelligence) or if we're envious of other people's attributes and properties. As I said, when we grow up things get complicated and it takes a lot of sacrifices and love to apply what Jesus wants us to do today.
If only the word “pride” did not exist, charity and humility will reign on earth! Some say pride is the opposite of all the virtues, not just charity and humility. I recall years ago, one of the heads assigned in our circle at the Opus Dei told us that we must not be wise and prudent according to worldly desires. Rather, we must be humble, simple and pure. We should never desire to be above others and that it would be better to be submissive for the love of God.
If only everyone practiced charity and humility in this world, there would be no hunger and less fortunate, there would be no greed and selfishness, there would be no divorce and failed marriages , there would be no wars and conflicts, there would be no VIP's and proud people who think they are much better than everyone else. I felt that the message behind the "washing of the feet" was really meant for the VIPs and the affluent , that for them to be like servants, willing to help and serve other people. Oh well, these matters can be so complex and debatable to many and these are facts and hard realities of life.
Ouch! In certain cases and there are times, especially these modern days, that I have been guilty and have sinned against these virtues. But with God’s mercy and forgiveness, I tried very hard to stand up hoping to do good things just to please God. Various lures and temptations however abound to prevent me from going all the way for God. I must admit even up to this day I am still struggling to be a real good person, to be holy and hopefully to change completely for the better.
A classic example of a person who practiced humility and charity when she was on earth was the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. She entrusted her entire life to God and has completely forgotten her own interests. However, hypocrites like most of us would argue this: but she was Mary, Jesus' mother ..…she was destined to be like that!
Precisely she was chosen as our model to show us a concrete example, for us to follow and be like her. Okay, it is easier said than done…but with the resolve to love God and our neighbors, no doubt we can do it. It only takes a little practice of charity and humility with a touch of love. We believe that God is love and love is powerful. When there's love , we become humble and forgiving, we can bear patiently the faults of others. In so doing, we would be able to face our daily challenges and ultimately we would be able to share it to others, making our world filled with beauty and joy.
PI would like to end this reflection with a short prayer:
Loving God, please forgive us for our shortcomings and limitations. Teach us to be childlike….whose humility and charity has love. Grant us the grace of unselfish and generous service which Mary had …..so that we may follow you till the end. This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord – Amen.
According to Church teachings, there are 6 seasons in the Church Liturgical Year, namely: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Three Days or ( Triduum), and Easter.
For purposes of this blog, the discussion shall focus on Lent, including the Three Days, based on personal knowledge since childhood up to this time. I may not be in a position to discuss its merits in full-length as I am neither a part of any religious congregation nor a theologian/ scholar who is an expert in Canon Law. However, my humble understanding on the subject, acquired through experience and study (with 12 Theology units in college and Religion subjects in high school which were by the way a “must” and part of the curriculum) is pretty much sufficient to blog concisely on this matter.
Let me digress a bit by giving you an “itsy-bitsy” of what I know about the Lenten season before I go on with my story. Briefly, the Lenten season starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on the evening of Holy Thursday. The succeeding days before Easter Sunday is called “Three Days” or Triduum (a period of 3 days of prayer) and it is considered as the Church' greatest celebration and the most holy season of the year as it focuses on the “Paschal Mystery”, that is the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Note that I put emphasis on the 3-days as I've browsed some articles, one of which was published in one of NYC's major online daily blog newspapers very recently and it failed to mention about this important part of the church year. The said article merely referred the entire period as Lenten season which should not be the case. I would prefer not to go through the technicalities and the rationale for the so-called 3-days, which serves as the “bridge”, so to speak, between Lent and Easter but for those who have inquisitive minds, I would advise you to consult your spiritual directors or start to read appropriate related books on the subject, preferably with an “imprimatur” from authorized church people.
In my childhood days, I had this strange feeling that during Lent, particularly on Holy Week (in which the last days of the week is referred as the Triduum) everything seemed gloomy: from the atmosphere to its inhabitants. The surroundings appear to be sober, people go to church and pray, and some commercial establishments, especially bars and entertainment stuffs, are in fact closed especially during Good Friday. I recall my parents, specifically my Mom would always tell us to be “prim and proper”-as in no boisterous laughing, no playing, singing, dancing or any form of enjoyment. Believe it or not, we're even told not to take a bath during “Good Friday”, particularly after the clock struck at 3 pm (the time at which Jesus Christ is traditionally believed to have died). Oh Yes, it was the normal situation in our home during Holy Week, and if we're caught having a good time, she would call our attention uttering this phrase “ Oh, so you would want to follow the footsteps of “Pontius Pilate” or “Judas Iscariot” . As we always take seriously our parents advises, we would then keep quiet, ponder on what they said, and visualize what happened to Jesus particularly, when going over the 14 Stations of the Cross. Of course, we didn't want to be”Pilates” and Judases”, as it was instilled in our innocent minds that these people were pictured as or were actually the bad guys, the key players in the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. My own naivety made me think that every time Holy Week comes, Jesus is actually being persecuted and it made the story more dreadful.
However, despite the sadness in the surroundings, deep in my heart there was peace and happiness, probably because it was one of the precious times that all of us are off for a vacation to be together, go to church and be cleansed and forgiven for our sins through the sacrament of Penance, and lastly it could also be due to the fact that after Lent, the following Sunday would be a great feast, a special treat for all of us, sumptuous food on the table or a good swim in the beach. As mentioned in my blog last year, there are Easter religious rituals and celebrations in our church and in our family which made the ambiance more unique, upbeat and joyful.
As time goes by and as I've learned to face the outside “world”, I came to know that the Lenten season for some people is both a welcoming opportunity and bothersome, depending on one's perspective, particularly in this modern culture. It is a welcoming opportunity for people who looks forward to celebrating the feast with the whole community, offering sacrifices and asking mercy and forgiveness for the sins committed, both past and present. On the other hand, for “non-conformists” who may be in a miserable state as far as their spiritual lives are concerned, but may be happy though in their personal lives depending on one's standards, this time of year could serve as an annoying reminder to re-think and renew their lives, that is, to give up the bad habits or bad relationships they're currently in which cuts their friendship with God. Even with this, the guilty conscience seems not to be working as some would decide to avoid the same. In fact, some would even take a vacation just to forget about the said event and that makes the situation sad as they failed once again to welcome the Savior in their hearts.
Just like you guys, I am definitely not perfect, It's hard, but I'm striving everyday. I could be skeptical at times in certain ideologies, specifically in present contexts of the so-called “giving-up” only in times of Lent. I know it's hard to give up something especially if that particular “thing” (material possessions), “habit” (any form of excessive addictions, corruption practices, etc.), “person” (morality aspect: envy, lust, pride, etc.) are already embedded in one's personal system. It takes a lot of sacrifice to get rid of all these particularly if it's in there. We have this notion that the word “sacrifice” is only for “martyrs” and that “practicality” in any aspect is the name of the game these days. However, through the years, I've come to the point in my life that sacrificing a darn thing for love of God is the worthiest of all the worthy causes. In short, it is relatively easy to give up a treasured thing, habit or a particular person if we have greater love for God.
As some experts said, Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “lencten”, which means spring. We all know that in spring time, everything is on the brink of blooming after a long winter's hibernation. Precisely, it must also be one of the reasons why the church called this season, “Lent”, primarily to ensure that our spiritual growth is on the right track. If we have bodily needs, our spiritual life needs food too. As such, our respective churches' authorities who guide and mold us to be better persons are encouraging us to pray more, for ourselves and for other people in need. We are being asked to offer sacrifices, to share what we have with others. We are given so many heavenly opportunities, we are encouraged to go back to God and turn away from sin, and lead a good renewed life. And that makes the Lenten season BEAUTIFUL, just like springtime!
How about you? How's your”Lent” I mean your”Spring”going?
Last Monday night after completing a certain project, I got the chance to watch a live baseball game at NYC's Citifield Mets Stadium courtesy of some non profit org connections. So, what's the big deal? Nothing really, except that it was a pain in the butt as the New York Mets team lost to the Colorado Rockies after almost 4 hours of being exposed to the chilly weather, sitting, cheering and chanting, “LET'S GO METS, LET'S GO METS……, of course with the boom beat”!
Seriously, the game was fun and exciting, the support and exuberance of the crowd was quite amazing, giving me soothing relief after a long manic Monday. I'm not really a baseball enthusiast in my entire life although I played its simpler version (SOFT BALL) when I was in grade school. Phew, it only shows that I have not had the luxury of time for recreations before. However, the game on that day uncovered my hidden hungriness for sports and paved the way to sympathize with the underdogs!
My observations/analysis on what happened :
1.Changing the "gears", the pitcher so to speak, in midstream may not be a good strategy. It may only affect the momentum of the team
2.Hire/Train a very good pitch
3.Excessive confidence (e.g. aiming to land on another base or for a home run) may turn out to be a blunder
4.Never give up even if the opponent team has good strengths/players to boot
5.Past and present mistakes should serve as hard lessons for next game
Nevertheless, I still wish the NY Mets a successful game next time as I've learned to love the team! Go, Go, Go…..
Below are photos of the newly renovated Mets Stadium before and after the game. Such a gigantic beautiful field…Enjoy!