Archive for May, 2008

Amsterdam on my mind. Part 2

May 21st, 2008 Comments off

On my previous “Amsterdam on my mind” post, I wrote about our gallivanting adventures on the streets of Amsterdam. There are also other (mis)adventures I had while in Holland. So many to remember, but some are too notable to forget, especially those about getting lost in translation.

There was one instance when my Filipino classmates and I went to a party hosted by our compatriots. In that party I met a crowd representing the widest spectrum of Filipinos in Holland. Aside from a sprinkling of few students, activists and political asylum seekers, most of them were Overseas Workers like the seafarers, shopkeepers, caregivers, nurses, window cleaners and Au Pairs. Oh, yes the Au Pair, how can I forget.

Admittedly it was during that party that I first heard the word Au Pair. And I thought I was alone. To hide my being ignoramus, I didn’t asked what it meant the first time I heard it. My boisterous and noisy Filipino classmate did the discovering for me, and in a rather embarrassing manner. My classmate already tipsy, misheard and mistook the word Au Pair for “offer”. In an honest mistake, he innocently but loudly asked why should Filipinos come to Holland just to be “offered.” To his bewilderment, the group suddenly broke into a guffaw.

After that Party, my once noisy classmate had suddenly become more behaved and silent.

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Mabuhay ka Ka Bel!

May 20th, 2008 Comments off

In our political culture, who would believe that there is a Congressman who will go up the roof of his house to fix a leak or do repairs?

In our mind is fixed an image that every Congressman lives like a King in a Castle, surrounded by bodyguards, servants and other subalterns. To shine his own shoe has become an almost impossible feat by any Congressman, how much more that of fixing a roof.

But alas, there was such a Congressman. He died because he went up the roof of his house to fix a leak and do repairs.

In the jungle called the House of Representatives, there are those who truly live the life of those they represent – the marginalized sector of our Society. Among them was Rep. Crispin Beltran, or Ka Bel, as he was popularly known and called by his comrades and enemies alike. In the records of the House of Representatives, as per declared Statement of Assets and Liaibilities, Ka Bel ranks as among the poorest Congressman. But if wealth and Honor is measured upon the consistency and conviction to one’s belief and principle, Ka Bel would stand as the richest among his Honorable colleagues who would all be the have-nots.

Anakpawis Partylist Representative Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, was seriously injured after falling from the roof of his house which he was fixing. He died today, May 20, 2008, from cardiac arrest while being operated for his injuries. A death which he most likely detest. For it is known among his comrades that Ka Bel, a fighter that he was, prefered to die in action. To take a bullet from a fight in the people’s struggle for justice and democracy is what he hoped would put an end to his life. But death is a swift thing that comes like a thief in the night.

During my youth activist years, Ka Bel was one of our proletarian idols. I had the opportunity to met him personally, albeit in fleeting moments, in the early 90’s, before the Great Divide of the left happened. We have chosen opposite sides and went separate ways then. I might disagree with Ka Bel’s chosen ideology, but I respect his firm conviction to the worker’s welfare and struggle. I believe that like all militant Labor Leaders before him, Ka Bel’s resolve in the worker’s struggle was drawn not from the intellectualization of their plight, but from their own actual experience as workers themselves.

Ka Bel’s death is a great loss in the Labor Movement. It will take perhaps another decade round of worker’s struggle to produce the likes of, Ka Bert Olalia, Ka Simo Carullo, Ka Bel…

Pagpugay at Paalam Ka Bel! Mabuhay ka tunay na lider Manggagawa!

kung ikaw ay naglingkod sa aping sambayanan, ang kamatayan mo’y sing-bigat ng bukid Apo

*Photo taken from

Categories: Philippines for Dummies Tags:

Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!

May 20th, 2008 Comments off

It is a cardinal rule not to leave your kids to strangers, much so, your infant baby. But in a situation where both parents are working, they are forced to leave their kids under the care of babysitters. In this situation, parents have to devise systems in order for them to be assured that their kids are being well taken cared of.

The only thing that comes to mind is to install a hidden camera. In this case, a nanny camera. Of course cameras could not prevent any impropriety or maltreatment, but it can document these incidents. Not only can these cameras document possible maltreatment by babysitters to their wards, it can also document illicit acts committed by the babysitter and/or her boyfriend, who was just outside your house waiting for you to leave. Petty thief is a common occurence in a household where strangers are tasked to watch over your property. Or even, a steamy (*tooot*) scene caught by your nanny camera can be a bonus take, you might wish.

The downside about this hidden camera stunt is that it violates the right to privacy of a person, and in this case the nanny. Who knows that the nanny might be actuated by pure and worthy motives in doing her job. Under the same circumstance, by secretly filming her through a nanny camera, you have acted more unwisely than you have judged her to have acted. While she gave you favor by diligently watching over your kids, in return you violate her rights by transgressing on her privacy.

But, in the final analysis, and as a father myself, I subscribe to the dictum “Salus BABY Suprema Lex”, – the welfare of my baby is Supreme Law.

Categories: Family and Me Tags:

I got mail

May 18th, 2008 Comments off

I haven’t had a personal mailbox. Although some of my colleagues had personal mailboxes, I really never felt the need to have one. First, because I don’t have many personal correspondences or any subscriptions to anticipate, and secondly, I simply don’t have the time to go through the usual bureaucratic maze in order to get one. The idea of having a personal mailbox simply did not tickle my fancy, especially at a time when my lifestyle was so mobile, fast paced and spartan. But this was yesterday.

When you settle down, your pace becomes slower. But you realize that it is only yourself who had slowed down, the things around you remain in a perpetual mad rush. Then you understand why people need mailboxes. Because mailboxes serve as catchments collecting the flow of material information addressed to you. Even how fast the flow of things are, those that are intended for you can easily find their way to your mailbox. And all you have to do is collect them.

This is perhaps the reason why commercial mailboxes came into existence. Before, personal mailboxes are only available at the Post Office. Now, you can find and apply for a commercial mailbox inside shopping malls. I was surprised to see such commercial mail boxes when I entered a Parcel Service store inside a mall. This is indeed a novel and effective idea. If you have one of those mailboxes, you can now pick up your mails while shopping in a mall.

The thought of having one myself is now no longer far fetched.

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The Making of an Apprentice

May 11th, 2008 Comments off

Like all fellows and brothers had done who have gone this way before

Most of our menfolk in my father’s clan are Freemasons. My late Dad, his uncles before him, his cousins and nephews are Masons. The latest addition to this list is my elder brother, Ferdie, the eldest of our siblings.

Like myself, Ferdie is a Senior DeMolay and a Past Master Councilor of our DeMolay Chapter, the University Chapter, in MSU Marawi City. Among our siblings, I was the one who first followed the footsteps of our Dad to become a Master Mason.

Following a family tradition and by his own free will and accord, Ferdie finally decided to knock at the doors of our lodge, the Jacques DeMolay Memorial Lodge No. 305.

As a fitting tribute to my Dad, I took the role as Conferral Worshipful Master of Ferdie’s initiation as Entered Apprentice Mason, last Saturday, May 10, 2008.

My brother Ferdie is now an Entered Apprentice Mason and will be undergoing a journey till he becomes a Master Mason. I will be there to guide him on his journey in seeking more light in Masonry, just like what our Dad did when I was made an Entered Apprentice.

I’m sure that our Dad, who is now in the Celestial Lodge above, was happy watching over us, when Ferdie made his first step on the north-east corner of the ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple.

Categories: Family and Me, Freemasonry Tags:

On Mother’s Day

May 11th, 2008 Comments off

Today, Mother’s day I would like to share this piece of DeMolay Ceremony specially dedicated to our Dearest Mothers. This is the most memorable ceremony that we DeMolays experience upon being accepted into the Order. This ceremony is given to the newly obligated Brethren of the Order of DeMolay, and is simply and aptly called as the…


My brothers, you have just been permitted to take upon yourselves the name of one of the world’s most heroic knightly figures. Now you can say, “I am a DeMolay.” To be deemed worthy of the privilege of entering into the comradeship of that great army of youth both here and abroad who have dedicated themselves to the ideals of Jacques DeMolay, demonstrates our confidence that the fineness of your purposes will guide your development into the highest type of manhood. To be accepted as a DeMolay is, therefore, an honour of which any young man can be justly proud.

In being received into our ranks, you have been instructed in the seven cardinal virtues of this great Order. We hope you have been deeply impressed with the lessons they teach. There is no better foundation on which to build your character and future life than the practice of these virtues. The Order of DeMolay teaches many beautiful lessons, but none is more important than honour and true respect for womanhood, and more especially for motherhood. It is fitting, therefore, that you have been called upon to stand again before this altar in a few moments of special emphasis upon the virtue which has been given first place among the jewels adorning the Crown of Youth: Filial Love.

For my purpose now, this altar is dedicated to our mothers, whose love never fails. You may rise to positions of great influence in commercial, political, or professional life, but you can never reach the heights of your mother’s secret hopes for you. You may sink into the lowest depths of infamy and degradation, but never below the reach of her love. The memory of it will always stir your heart. There is no man so entirely base, so completely vile, so utterly low, that he does not hold in his heart a shrine sacred and apart for the memory of his mother’s love.

Were I to draw you a picture of love divine,
it would not be that of a stately Angel,
With a form that is full of grace.
But a tired and toilworn mother
With a grave and tender face.

It was your mother who loved you before you were born–who carried you for long months close to her heart and in the fullness of time took God’s hand in hers and passed through the valley of shadows to give you life. It was she who cared for you during the helpless years of infancy and the scarcely less dependent years of childhood. As you have grown less dependent, she has done the countless, thoughtful, trouble-healing, helpful and encouraging things which somehow only mothers seem to know how to do. You may have accepted these attentions more or less as matters of course, and perhaps without conscious gratitude or any expression of your appreciation. You are rapidly approaching the time in life when you will be entirely independent of your mother. The ties with which dependency has bound you to her may be severed as you grow older, but the tie of mother-love can never be broken.

Thinking back upon the years of your life when you have reached the threshold of manhood, your mother might well say in the words of the poet:

My body fed your body, son,
But birth’s a swift thing
Compared to one and twenty years
Of feeding you with spirit’s tears.
I could not make your mind and soul,
But my glad hands have kept you whole.
Your groping hands
Bound me to life with ruthless bands.
And all my living became a prayer,
While all my days built up a stair
For your young feet that trod behind
That you an aspiring way should find.
Think you that life can give you pain
Which does not stab in me again?
Think you that life can give you shame
Which does not make my pride go lame?
And you can do no evil thing
Which sears not me with poisoned sting.
Because of all that I have done,
Remember me in life, O son.
Keep that proud body fine and fair.
My life is monumented there.
For my life make no woman weep,
For my life hold no woman cheap.
And see you give no woman scorn
For that dark night when you were born.

These flowers which you see on our altar are symbols of that mother love. The white, the love of the mother who is gone. And the red, the mother who still lives to bless your life.

Far in the dim recesses of her heart
Where all is hushed and still,
She keeps a shrine.
‘Tis here she kneels in prayer
While from above long shafts of light upon her shine.
Her heart is flower fragrant as she prays.
Aquiver like a candle flame,
Each prayer takes wing
To bless the world she works among,
To leave the radiance of the candles there.

We want each of you to take a flower from the altar. If your mother has passed over to the other shore, you will choose a white flower and keep it always sacred to her memory. May the sight of it always quicken every tender memory of her and strengthen you anew in your efforts to be worthy of her hopes and aspirations for you. If your mother is living, you will choose a red flower. When you go home tonight, give it to your mother. Tell her it is our recognition of God’s best gift to a man: his mother’s love. Take her in your arms and say, “Mother, I’ve learned a great lesson tonight. The ceremonies have helped me realize more fully how much you really mean to me. I’m going to try to show you daily how much I appreciate the sacrifices you have made and the love and care you give me.”

Someday you’ll find that flower, I know not where, perhaps in her Bible or prayer book or some other sacred place, a silent witness to what this night has meant to the one whose love for you, her son, is beyond the comprehension of any son. My brothers each of you will please take a red or white flower from the altar.

DeMolay can ask no more of you than that you shall endeavor so to live as to be worthy of your mother’s love.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY, to all mothers of the world, especially to my dearest mom, Mrs. Marina Avrez Mugot Vda. de Gaerlan, and to my beloved wife and mother to my daughter Maia, Mrs. Maria Marina Victoria K. Gaerlan.

Categories: Family and Me, Freemasonry Tags:

Amsterdam on my mind

May 9th, 2008 Comments off

There is always a first time for everybody. Two of perhaps a million of my first times, happened at the same time in 1998. One was my first time to travel abroad, to the Netherlands, and the other was my first snow. It was in Amsterdam that I first saw, felt and played with snow.

I was a student in a short non-degree studies in Amsterdam in 1998. We stayed in the school’s dormitory during the whole duration of our study. Our school was located at Willemsparkweg, just a few meters away from the Vondelpark and the Hotel Zandbergen. Amsterdam for me then seemed like a very big park. So during class breaks, together with two of my Filipino classmates, we strolled around the city center of Amsterdam by just walking. Being first timers in Amsterdam, every street corner is a new site to behold, making it impossible for us to get tired of walking.

From where the school was located, we walked to and stroll around Leidseplein, Damrak, the Dam, the Royal Palace,etc. A stroll down Vondelpark became a usual destination during short class breaks. Our Dutch classmates called the Vondelpark as Fondle Park, an allusion of course to what pairs usually do in that park any time of the day. We also visited museums and took a boat tour around Amsterdam via its canal network.

The first thing I learned in Amsterdam was never to go to a Coffee Shop if you just wanted to have a real coffee and some food for snacks. But if you want a good trip around A’dam, a-la Cheech and Chong, then a Coffee Shop is your perfect whistle stop. Coffee shops serve ‘ganja’ Yellow Coffee and some good stuff and joints. These Coffee shops are aplenty and you can find them scattered all over Amsterdam, like the Grasshopper, Bulldog, and a lot more. In The Netherlands, soft drugs like cannabis sativa are legal, albeit regulated.

Moving around Amsterdam is quite easy. The Dutch can speak and understand English perfectly well. So if you get lost, you can just ask anyone for instructions. We were always mistaken as Indonesians when we converse with a Dutch on the street. Indonesia was once, and the only Colony of Holland in Asia. That is why next to the Morrocans and Turks, one can find a lot of Indonesians in Holland, like one can find a lot of Vietnamese in Paris.

Assuming you’d ask, Yes, I visited the popular Red Light district of Amsterdam. But it was merely to “kijkend” around. A Dutch friend told me that there is an unwritten law in the alleys of the Red Light district, taking pictures of the women of the place is a no-no, it is considered disrespectful. You might find yourself in trouble if you can’t prevent clicking your cameras. Next time you know, your camera had found a new home under the canals of Amsterdam.

Finding hotels in Amsterdam is not hard as well. You can find all kinds of hotels just within the City center, from cheap hostels to five star hotels. Or you can locate one through the internet. One good finder in the internet is the

I went back to Amsterdam two more times, after my first time.

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