Archive for April, 2007

One Day Blog Silence

Mark the Date: April 30, 2007

by Sally Lo

Days have passed since the bloody massacre at Virginia Tech. Much has been written about the senseless death of 32 victims in the hands of lone gunman, Seung-hui Cho. Many miles away here in the Philippines, I watch the news daily hoping to catch every bit of update about the VT killings.

I could have been numbed by the repetitive sight of bloodied bodies and the pure, unadulterated evil gleaming in Cho’s eyes as he brandished the handguns. But no matter how many times the scenes are shown, I couldn’t help but feel the pain and anguish of the hapless victim’s families. I cannot begin to imagine the agony that the survivors and the bereaved families are going through at the moment. It could be that those killed were mostly about the same age as my own children. Who can bear the thought of losing a child? The thought of such loss is so overpowering that I find myself having to switch channels lest I suffocate from the deep sense of grief that grips my entire being.

My thought goes to the Cho family too. “He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare,” said Sun-Kyung Cho in their family statement on the massacre at VT. Seung-hui’s sister and parents will have to live in the nightmare for the rest of their lives. In all honesty, I do feel sorry for them. They are left to face the anger and outrage of VT families and the world over senseless killings.

Seung-hui Cho was portrayed as a crazed, misdirected mass murderer whose ferocity was fueled by deeply-rooted anger. He was angry at the rich and the privileged, and probably at being picked on for being different. He was angry at everything imaginable and this anger sent him on a shooting rampage. He was, as I see it, also a victim. He was the victim of his past; his own unhappiness and discontentment gnawed at his very soul until he was reduced to his seething, irrational, murderous state.

I wonder if things would have been different for Seung-hui had he and his family not left South Korea. Would he be spared from thoughts of persecution that eventually ravaged his mind and spirit? Would he have grown into a happy, well-adjusted young man? Would Virginia Tech be spared of the tragedy had he and his family not moved to the USA?

I am very certain that his parents have all good intentions for moving to America. To many Asians, America is the Land of Promise. Like all well meaning parents, Seung-hui’s probably wanted to prepare a better future for their children. The kids would get better education and will have better opportunities. Such benefits would be passed on to the grandchildren. The future is in America. Sadly though for Seung-hui and his parents, that future was brought to naught.

Like many Asians, I too once fancied moving to America or Australia — anywhere but here. Somehow when that opportunity presented itself many years ago, I chose to decline it. For the next few years, I was left wondering whether or not I made the right decision. You see, I was afraid of change. I was afraid of moving out of the comfort zone called home, which to me was and will always be the Philippines. It’s bad enough that I had to restart my life at one point from square one (but that’s another story). To have to restart my life outside of my comfort zone would be Mission: Impossible.

Now after Virginia Tech, I have come to a personal conclusion that life is happier in my comfort zone. Sure, there may be lesser opportunities, but I can use whatever opportunities I have to create my own prosperity. How much prosperity do I need? Not much–just enough to live comfortably until I grow old. After all, prosperity is a state of mind. I’d rather be happy than mentally tortured. I’d rather be happy earning enough for my own sustenance than be rich but miserably far from home. The grass is not always greener on the other side. After Virginia Tech, I am quite thankful for the green grass that I still see in my own pasture.


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Uplifting Blogger

It’s no big secret that blogging is something very new to me. Up to this day, I still do not quite understand the meanings of link back, blog stats, and “You’re tagged” among other complicated terminologies. I can’t even figure out how to put that Technorati and MyBlogLog icons/thingies on my WordPress blog (Rescue me, Bugsey and Skopun!).

When I started blogging, I only have one mindset — to keep my blogs inspirational and positive. That was how I started out on my Multiply. That mindset also carried me through to the creation of The Angel’s Garden. Therefore, it came as a very pleasant surprise that Christy Zutautas decided to talk about me in one of her blogs, Christy’s Coffee Break. I felt greatly honored to be called an uplifting blogger. If there is something that I really want to get out of blogging, it is to be a positive influence and, hopefully, an inspiration to others. No monetary gains as I am such a financial dummy, but being a positive, uplifting blogger makes me feel like a spiritual millionaire.

Christy Z’s profile tells us that she is an Ontario-based freelance writer, poet, and blogger. Her sites are wonderfully positive. There are even the occasional funny videos on Christy’s Coffee Break — I love the Worst American Idol videos she posted. :)) Her poetry blog, A Hint of Poetry, also has great contents and she accepts contributions there. Her Writer’s Reviews is where you can have your very own blog or website, well, reviewed.

Check her out!

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I do not know which is more difficult — expressing emotions through the written word or expressing emotions through light and color.

I have just very recently taken to writing my thoughts on paper and online and am still trying to grasp that string of words that best reflect my present state of mind and heart.

Painting and drawing–something I have not done in ages. It was just a hobby, really. I do not even consider myself an artist. Nevertheless, I seem to have the urge the past few days to pick up the paintbrushes and pencils that have been resting in storage for quite sometime now. Oh, wish me luck on this one. The spirit is willing, but the flesh runs out of time. Or maybe I need to find inspiration.

Inspiration is something that I rediscovered a few days ago through the lenses of two very gifted photographers whose photo blogs I chanced upon. While these are not paintings, their works are veritable art collections. Now I do not quite understand those people who think photography and digital art are not ART. I wish I know more of those technical terms to appropriately describe the awe-inspiring works of these two photographers. For now, I will dwell on the impressions created upon me by the works of these two gifted men.

Claudio Lunardelli
Claudio’s work speaks of much experience with the camera and with manipulating light and color. His images are always powerful, always brimming with passion. I do not see a single image in his collection that did not stir my emotions.
He also has some of the most amazing black-and-white photos that I have ever seen. In my mind, anyone who can do black-and-whites as well as he does colors has mastered light. Claudio Lunardelli is one such person.

Reggie Santos
His welcome message states that he has been into photography for two years. Viewing his gallery, I seriously wonder if the “two” is a typographical error. To say he takes pictures well is an understatement. He seems to find something interesting to shoot everywhere he goes. He obviously loves colors, but not the excessively loud and annoying combinations that you see in art wannabes. He experiments much with colors, textures, patterns and saturations. Yet his photos to me have a calming and, yes, an inspirational effect. Almost Zen-like, mostly. Two years? With a prestigious photo contest second-place win under his belt, I surely look forward to more and more years of his photography.

Please do take time to visit their sites. It is a visual experience that is not to be missed.

P.S. I hope I can paint and draw again after this. 🙂

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I am fascinated by photography. It’s something that I really would love to learn if I have the time in the world.

One strange fact: My late father was in the photography business. No, he was not a professional photographer–just a not-too-serious hobbyist at most. He used to run a photo supplies and equipment business. There always were areas in the places where we lived in that were converted into darkrooms. Oh yes, those were the good old days of SLRs (yeah, without the D), endless strips of films, and smelly photo-developing chemicals. The developers of Photoshop must have been toddlers, or maybe they weren’t even born yet. I guess seeing photo supplies and equipment everywhere made me take the camera for granted. That was just too bad.

Now late in age, I began to take notice of freeze-framed art. I have viewed dozens of photo blogs. All are nice. Many are interesting. But there are two photographers whose works captured my attention and imagination. I mean, their photo collections are just AWESOME! I typically would like to put nice comments in a blog, but seeing the works of these two rendered me “speechless” as I was about type some nice compliments on some of their photos. Clearly, those are not mere photos. Those are works of art. You need to visit the sites of Reggie Santos’ Photography and Claudio’s Photo Site to see for yourself.

Having viewed so many awe-inspiring photos over the past couple of days, I feel the urge to take up photography as a hobby. Thank goodness for digital technology, I need not worry about developing rolls upon rolls of films. That would be really costly. Also, I never did learn to develop photos even if I spent a lot of hours in darkrooms, poking my nose into my father’s and brothers’ businesses without any significant gain on my part. Now all I need is the proper equipment, more time, and FOCUS.

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Music Off

One of my neighbors called my attention this morning. Apparently for the past 2 or 3 weeks, they’ve been missing the music coming from sound system and they thought I was ill or something.

I used to play a lot of music, and I listen to anything from Beethoven to Astrud Gilberto to Evanescence. For the past few weeks, I have been content with playing just Enya and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons here on my computer as I work. For the past week, it was just the Four Seasons mainly because it was the CD that is already in the CD-ROM.

I really find it amusing because normally, people in a neighborhood would complain if music is too loud. Not in my case. They complained because there was NO music. And so with a chuckle, I came back in and started the music playing. Beyonce provided the opening number as I prepared breakfast. For now, it’s my Queen and Aerosmith collection being played as go Multiply-ing. The neighbors can have Al Jarreau, Eric Clapton, and Sergio Mendes later today as I work. Does that make me the neighborhood DJ or what?

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DĂ©bridement. The removal of devitalized, damaged, or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue. A medical/surgical terminology.

That word kept playing on my mind as I sat by the window on the eve of Easter, almost lost in thought as I set about mentally shortlisting the things that I wanted to have happen in my life. Somehow the clinical sound of that word that I uttered as I blankedly scribbled it on the corners of my pad once, twice, and then thrice, snapped me back to the present dimension. “Odd,” I thought. I had wrapped up the medical transcription job for the day a few hours earlier and had totally abandoned all thought related to work. I do not recall ever hearing or typing that word earlier today. So why is “Débridement” repetitively playing in my head like a last song syndrome?

Débridement. I thought about the procedure in its potentially gruesome detail. I had witnessed it a number of times when my late mother was confined on several occasions for diabetic complications. My mother, the most chicken-hearted person I had ever met in my entire life, feared pain and discomfort, although these two became her constant companions during the last two decades of her life. She had learned to live with them, embracing them as part of her reality. And so with all the courage she could muster, she even tolerated débridement sans anesthesia quite well. It was essential, the doctors would patiently explain to us. It would speed up the healing process. The tissues were dead anyway and would cause more harm when left in there. Best to take them out so the wound could heal properly.

My thoughts turned to my life, wondering if “Débridement” that is now playing like a mantra in my mind has any significance in my life—my NOW. Certainly, I could claim that I am at the prime of my life. I am happy with my relationship with family and friends. I love my career, and I definitely enjoy and value my independence. On the surface, my life is as calm and beautiful as a peaceful, sun-kissed lake. Yet, I wonder if I was merely putting on a happy face—a perfect profile, when in fact a lot of “devitalized tissues” are begging to be removed from my life. It could be anything that weighs me down and gives me a sense of uncertainty despite my flamboyant airs—sins of omission and commission, past hurts and emotional baggages, frustrations caused by missions unaccomplished, perhaps even memories of past and fading glories that I still want to bask in out of sheer narcissism.

If I were to be completely honest now, I would say that I am indeed fooling myself by thinking that I am in a perfect state. That is impossible! No person is perfect. Not on this earth. I know, and I FEEL that there is much that need to be debrided from my life. I do have my own ghosts from the past. There were past mistakes and sins that I can’t seem to shake off my mind. I have my share of past hurts and emotional baggages—lots of them. And, yes, I still want to bask in my past glories. Such egotism despite the failings and the sins. Shame on me! Many times I simply turned a deaf ear to that one small voice of God within, distracted by the enthralling sounds of the world. Surely, even my spiritual ears need a good débridement!

This is Easter, the season of New Life. Resurrection. Rebirth. Let my prayer be: “Lord, I am a sinner. I am imperfect. I have refused to surrender my life’s baggages completely to You and have refused to heal. Debride my life. Debride my soul and that I may be whole. Teach me to let go of the past and let me live my life NOW in accordance with Your will. Open my mind and heart so that I may fully embrace the love, life and salvation that You have given fully and freely. Let me accept these wondrous gifts with a contrite heart. Make me worthy of your gifts. Right this moment, debride me, Lord”

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UNoriginal title up there, huh? Oh well…I’ve never really been good at coming up with creative words of art anyway.

So how was it?

By normal human standard, I would say it was boring. While everybody else was at the beach or places analogous to the foregoing to have some fun and sun, I was cooped up in my room, typing away for the love of my job. Yes, U.S. doctors’ clinics were open on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, which meant that Philippine-based moi had work coming in until Black Saturday. They had the usual number of patients too. There will also be the usual weekend hospital account that will come in on our “Araw ng Kagitingan.” So, I guess any dream vacation I want to have will have to wait until the 4th of July–I usually am “jobless” at that time of the year.

I also did something very strange. I actually bid my Multiply contacts farewell for three days–that, following days and days of cheerful/zany quips and exchanges. My reason? I thought it that the Holy Week was a perfect time for all of us to get some peace and quiet so as to better appreciate the solemnity and the meaning of the season. It was also a good exercise in patience for me to hold back on making smart-aleck remarks for a change despite the fun that comes with such exchanges.

Now, the strangest part is that for the first time in years, I looked forward to Easter as much as I did New Year’s Day. After all, isn’t Easter about REBIRTH? A new life given to us by the grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Okay, I won’t go any preachier that that. Suffice to say that it was indeed like a new beginning for me. I was also into making new plans and resolutions like I would do for the New Year.

For the past three days after I was done with my usual workload, I found myself listing things that I would like to do and the things that I need to do to reorganize my life (it’s a mess the way it is…:D). I also found time to go through the contents of my computer. I deleted a few FTPs that I no longer use. I also sorted hundreds of photos. I burned a few CDs worth of them and sent some to Flickr to declog my hard disk drive. I also organized and uploaded photos for a new site (Multiply again for ease of use) that will be dedicated to my Beagle kennel–I have been planning for this kennel for at least the past two years.

I also spent a few more hours in quiet meditation and reflection–time that I would normally spend online chatting or checking my Multiply sites. I felt a whole lot more peaceful afterwards. Perhaps I have been spending too many hours online…this is not always productive in my case as I am still quite technologically challenged.

This is the first time in years that I did not spend the Holy Week outside of home, but I must say that this has been a most productive, albeit quiet, week for me. True, I was stuck at home the whole time, but it was time well spent. It is the first time in many years that I realized the coming of Easter is a New Beginning in every sense of the word.

Happy Easter, Everyone! easter-bunny-with-egg.jpg

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