Saturday, September 16, 2017

Miracles Never Stop

Jerusalem Angela Mercado was not so sure if she was prepared to take the 2016 Medical Board Examinations in Manila, Philippines after her classes in a review center in Manila ended in January 2015.
When her father, Norberto, asked her if she would take the physician’s examination the following month, she couldn’t readily reply to the former’s query. She was, in fact, speechless.
“How did you fare in your review class?” her father asked her. It was breakfast time in their house.
She squirmed. “Very bad, Papa. Some of the lectures were poorly given, and the lecturers were sometimes absent. I don’t think I’m prepared to take the exam this coming month. If I do, I may flunk it,” Jerusalem said.
“That’s bad. If you fail in your first try of the medical board, it will be a poor record on your medical career, even if you land in the top ten on your second try,” her father said.
Jerusalem was silent. She realized that what her father said really counted.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Seeds In San Manuel

“Good morning, Maestro,” a mother who wanted to enroll her ten-year old son in grade five in San Manuel Elementary School greeted the teacher, Aurelio Mercado.
It was enrollment day in the largest public school in the town of San Manuel, the northernmost town of Tarlac bordering the barrio of Carmen in the town of Rosales, in the province of Pangasinan.
Maestro is the title given to a teacher...

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Lady From Saint Lucia

Nadine Joseph, a lady from Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, was one of the more than 200 students and speakers of English as a second language who were listening to the speaker in the conference in Baguio City. It was held in a big hotel in the summer capital of the Philippines.
Nadine used to work in the United States before she came to the Philippines to study in a school in Silang, Cavite. She was tall, had beautiful eyes, a well-proportioned nose, and a dark tanned complexion. She was intelligent and witty.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Towns I Love So Well

There is an adage which states most aptly that home is where the heart is. This is true for me.
An American president also once said, “I love them more whom I loved first.”
I say this is true, even for places. San Manuel and Moncada are towns I loved first because these are the towns where I grew up.
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Friday, August 25, 2017

Destroy The Bandits

Andrea Gonzales has been a newscaster and program host in DWRD Radio Davao for five years.
The first news item she was to read that day in August 2016 stirred her emotions, for it was about the beheading of a local teenage boy by the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic bandit group in the island province of Sulu.
The Islamic bandit group had kidnapped both foreign nationals and locals for ransom. They had built a reputation for terror by beheading their victims whose families would not pay the ransom demanded by the bandit group.
It had never been the policy of the Philippine government to pay ransom for kidnap victims. The Philippine government states that paying the ransom money demanded by kidnap-for-ransom groups will only encourage more kidnappings, giving more headache and shame to the President and his cabinet, as well as to
the Armed Forces of the Philippines or AFP and the Philippine National Police or PNP.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Sink Altalena!

The French government wanted to have influence in the British-controlled Palestine after the United Nations’ 1947 partition of the ancient land to the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs. The French government of Charles de Gaulle donated 5,000 rifles, 250 Bren guns, 5 million bullets, 50 bazookas, and 10 Bren carriers. These arms and ammunitions were carried by the ship Altalena when it left the seaport of Marseille, France on June 11, 1948 and sailed to the port of Tel Aviv, Israel.
The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, wanted the Irgun to relinquish ownership of all the arms and ammunitions in the ship to the Israel Defense Forces. The Irgun, however, wanted the weapons and the ammos to be of their safekeeping and use. Two negotiations on the ownership and disposal of the weapons were held between the Israel Defense Forces and the Irgun, but the negotiations failed because the Irgun insisted that the weapons and ammunitions which the French donated to them should be at their disposal and ownership.
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Catherine's Homecoming

“I have always longed to come back to the Philippines. It is my home. Everything in my life started in my country,” Catherine told her seatmate, Laura Khristenson, in the plane on a long flight from Denmark to Manila.
Laura was surprised.
Her seatmate, a Caucasian from Denmark, was visiting the Philippines for the first time. She was with five other tourists from Denmark. They would visit the
Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, before heading to Sydney, Australia.
“How long have you been away from home?” her seatmate asked her.
Catherine smiled and briefly looked through the window of the commercial plane.
“More than a decade,” Catherine said...

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Ricardo Sapelino, USM, And The Vietnam War

Ricardo Sapelino of the United States Marines, or USM, was a Filipino combat soldier during the Vietnam War. He joined the United States Navy or USN in 1965, during the middle period of the Vietnam conflict. He received training as a member of the Marine Corps, which was under the USN during the long American involvement in the Vietnam conflict.
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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Peace Talk

Josephine Marquez watched on television the live nationwide media coverage of the announcement of the government’s response to the massacre of thirty-six soldiers under the command of General Teodolfo Bautista on October 10, 1977 by Muslim rebels in Patikul, Sulu.
The Muslim rebels led by the bandit Usman Sali, who tricked General Bautista by pretending that he wanted to have a peace talk with the army general with the intention of surrendering himself and his one hundred fifty men.
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Silk Trade

Menachem was a young Jew who had been engaged in the silk and spice business for almost two years. The silk came from China, and the spices from India.
Menachem and his friends bought the silk and the spices from Parthian businessmen in the city of Petra. Parthians bought these goods from China and from India, and sold these to enterprising Jews who traveled in caravans using camels, donkeys and horses. Menachem and his business associates had already made seven business travels since they began their trade.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Strangers In Egypt

The town of Rhinocolura had a seaport called Al Arish. Passengers from the town of Raphia in Judah travelled to Egypt by crossing the river using the boats operated by Egyptian entrepreneurs. This is the town where Joseph, Mary and the Child Jesus first entered when they escaped from the town of Bethlehem in Judah.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Escape To Egypt

“Why would King Herod look for my Child to kill Him?” she asked Joseph.
“I don’t know…” Joseph replied.
Mary asked him where they would go.
“The angel told me to go to Egypt with you and our Child, and stay there until he tells us to leave,” Joseph replied.
Mary felt a certain joy when Joseph stated “our Child” to her even though he knew that the Child Jesus was miraculously born of the Holy Spirit, and not by natural means. She appreciated Joseph for his kind gesture, and told him so.
“The Child is the Lord. It is our duty to take care of Him and to protect Him. I will be a father to Him…” he told Mary.
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Friday, June 23, 2017

Parched Fields

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This question of Uncle Gadong rang in my ears as I sat at the base of the Ambuklao tower in the western field of Lanat, San Manuel, Tarlac, my birthplace.
He asked me this question sometime in November 1961 when he visited us. He is the younger brother of my mother Francisca Lacierna Mercado.
My mother and Uncle Gadong Lacierna were both born in San Clemente, Tarlac, and both grew up there. They had other siblings – Uncle Kardo, Uncle Quirino, and Aunt Ninay. All of them were born in San Clemente to Francisco Lacierna and Victoria Lucero.
“What is your dream? What do you want to be?” Uncle Gadong asked me again. He was holding my report card in his hands, and he saw that I was given very high grades in the first and second grading periods by my first grade teacher, Mrs. Conchita Lorenzo-Fernando.

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Monday, June 19, 2017


Edmund de los Reyes and Carla Quinzon were both sophomore students of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. They were also members
of a Christian campus organization called Campus Crusade for Christ.
In September 1973, a year after the declaration of martial law all over the Philippines by President Ferdinand E. Marcos, a very strong typhoon struck Central Luzon, killing many people and submerging many towns of Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac with the floodwaters it caused. The typhoon’s local name was Welming.
U.P. Campus Crusade for Christ launched a project called Aid for Welming Victims. The project aimed to gather donations of food, clothing, money, and other items that could be of use to the victims of the typhoon.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Coming Home

Kara sang well. It was amazing how she memorized the lyrics of the song at such a young age.
As she sang, my thoughts wondered to the time when my mother Francisca Lacierna Mercado, and her younger sister Ninay, fetched their sick brother Gadong who escaped from his Japanese captors during the infamous Death March in April 1942…
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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Back To The Parthian Empire

The Magi, their families, and their servants slept in the tents they put up in a field near the house where the Child was. It was already past midnight when they slept, and the big star which they saw in the east shone over the village.
That night, Melchor had a dream.
In his dream, he saw the same angel who spoke to him, the one who told him to see the Child in Bethlehem and bring Him gold as a gift. In his previous dream, the angel’s face was glad when he told Melchor to visit the Child in Bethlehem, together with his friends Gaspar and Balthazzar.
This time, in his current dream, the angel’s face was stern. He warned Melchor not to go back to Herod after their visit to the Child.
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Peace Time

Aurelio Mercado was one of the individuals who attended the Conference of Industrial Arts Teachers in Baguio City in the last week of April, 1930.
It was summer. He and Francisca just got married on the second Sunday of that month, after the end of classes of the 1929-1930 schoolyear. They were married by the Aglipayan parish priest of San Clemente in the Philippine Independent Church building located in that town. Those who attended were the parents of Aurelio, Policarpio Mercado and Esperanza Marquez-Mercado, his two sisters Dominga and Itang, and his two brothers Angquing and Minoy. They all went to San Clemente riding a calesa, a horse-drawn carriage generally used for public transport in the Philippines during the American colonial rule. All the family members of Francisca in San Clemente attended the wedding.
The American colonial rule of the Philippine Islands which was from the end of all hostilities in 1907 of the Philippine-American War up to the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in December 1941 was generally called Peace Time by most Filipinos.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Grieve For You My Brother Jonathan

“Why have Jews suffered so much? The Romans destroyed our homeland and dragged our forefathers to the territories of the Roman Empire as their slaves. We have suffered inquisitions, holocausts, famine, discrimination, and wars like no other people in history. Are the Jews under the curse of Yahweh?” Asher Levinson asked his commanding officer, Captain Yosef Aksen.
Asher Levinson was one of the soldiers in the 15-member artillery unit of Haganah, one of the four Jewish militias fighting for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He was one of the five wounded in the first of the two raids undertaken by well-armed Palestinian Arabs against their unit. Three of the five wounded militiamen were confined in the clinics in Tel Aviv because they had to be operated on. Asher, and another militiaman named Nathan Hur, had to stay in the Kibbutz called Galuyot to defend it from further Arab attacks...

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Friday, May 12, 2017

All Nations Against Jerusalem

After the symposium, the two friends talked to Doctor Ben Gurion and requested for an interview. They wanted to ask her more questions about the Middle East issue. She granted their request. They interviewed her over a cup of coffee at the University of the Philippines’ Bahay ng Alumni (House of the Alumni). They asked her questions such as whether Israel possesses nuclear weapons, whether she agrees to the two-state solution (an Israeli state and a Palestinian state existing together), whether she as an Israeli medical doctor would treat a wounded enemy, and other personal matters.
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Friday, May 5, 2017

A Romance In Pre-War Manila

Doctor Sergio Morales hurriedly walked to the classroom in PGH where he would teach the subject of Dermatology that morning. It was the first day of class in a rainy June month, and he did not want to be late. He hurriedly buttoned his white coat.
“Good morning, Doc!” a nursing student greeted him as he rushed to the classroom.
“Good morning!” Doctor Morales answered the student, too, although he did not really pay any attention to who it was.
He continued walking to his classroom. When he arrived and entered the classroom, all the students in his class were already inside, waiting for him.
“Good morning, Sir!” the students greeted him.
There were thirty-two students in his class, all of which were women. They were all graduating students of the University of the Philippines School of Nursing. The Dermatology class was held in one of the rooms of the Philippine General Hospital building along Governor Taft Avenue in Manila.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Land And The Bamboo House

A woman wishes to have a house she can call her own,” Francisca told her husband Aurelio as they walked hand-in-hand in the school yard of the San Manuel Elementary School.
It was early Saturday evening, just after dinner. Aurelio asked his young wife if she wanted to have a stroll in front of the school where he had been teaching for the past five months since they arrived in the town of San Manuel, in the Philippine province of Tarlac. Francisca agreed.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Teacher Of A President

“Class, I’m Josephine Bracken Rizal-Abad, your teacher in English starting today. Together, we will be learning the language used by all the nations under the British Empire, and by the United States of America,” Josephine told her pupils in Cebu City on the first day of class.
She had seven students in her class. All of the students were scions of businessmen, government officials, and private professionals.
Josephine didn’t introduce herself as the widow of Doctor Jose “Rizal” Mercado, the Filipino ophthalmologist who was executed by an eight-member Spanish colonial army in Bagumbayan Field at 7:03 in the morning of December 30, 1896.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

A House Divided

“Menachem Begin, the leader of the Irgun militia and who is currently the chairman of the Herut party, an opposition political party in Israel, has called on all Jews worldwide to help the government of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion in the construction of houses in resettlement areas for the new Jewish immigrants coming mostly from the European nations. Mr. Begin said that the current resources of the government under Prime Minister Ben Gurion are hardly sufficient to meet the needs of more than one million new Jewish immigrants. The former leader of the Irgun, who said that he reads the Bible, claims that the current migration of the Jews to their ancient homeland is the start of the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy that Jews from all over the world will return to their restored ancient homeland in the last days as prophesied by Isaiah, David, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and other prophets of ancient Israel...

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Monday, April 17, 2017

From This Day Forward

The parents of Gregoria came all the way from San Joaquin, Iloilo to attend her graduation from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) School of Nursing. They rode a kalesa from San Joaquin to Iloilo City, and sailed to Manila via the ship M.V. Maynilad. It was an overnight trip. They stayed in the house of their relatives in Manila and waited for the day when their daughter Gregoria would graduate from the University of the Philippines, the only state university during the American colonial era in the country.
Gregoria Serra was a state scholar.
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Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Day The Sun Stopped Shining

Dismas, one of the thieves who was crucified on the right side of Jesus, recognized Annas. He met him three years ago. Annas asked for a huge sum of money from Dismas’ mother Deborah so that he could ask the Roman prison authority in Jerusalem to release Dismas’ father.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Disgrace Of The Roman Empire

As the military governor of Rome in Judea and Samaria, Pontius Pilate was under the Roman prefect of Syria. If there were rebellions in Judea and Samaria, the procurator could seek the assistance of the Syrian prefect to quell the rebellions. Rome saw to it that any colony which rebelled against its authority was quickly and severely dealt with.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tutored By The Thomasites

The Americans introduced free public education to all Filipino children. It was a radical contrast to the more than three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines, when education was generally only for the children of the privileged class, of the wealthy, and of those who had the means among the Indios. The Spanish colonialists decreed that most children of the Indios, a slur given to the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, must remain uneducated. If the Indios became educated, it was feared that they would seek equal treatment, justice, civility, freedom, and inalienable rights. The Spaniards feared that education for the children of the inhabitants would later be used to overthrow their despotic rule.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Death Or Victory

“You might be wondering why I volunteered to come to Israel as a medical doctor. I’ll tell you a brief story. My father is a pastor. My mother is a teacher in a Christian school. I have a younger sister at home. Her name is Eloise. I remember a message given by my father in one of the Sunday services in our church, the Atlanta Baptist Church. This was back when I was in high school. He mentioned the various signs of the Lord Jesus Christ’s second coming to earth – the increase of false Christs, false prophets or teachers, lawlessness, wars between kingdoms, famines and pestilences, earthquakes, and the preaching of the Gospel of Christ to all nations in the world,” Doctor Davies said.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pearl Harbor

Aurelio Mercado, Sr., a public school teacher in San Manuel Elementary School in the town of San Manuel, in the province of Tarlac, Philippines, and his brother-in-law, Quirino Lacierna, were at the front yard of Aurelio’s house after dinner discussing the aggressive behavior of the Japanese Imperial Army in the East Asia-Southeast Asia Region.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Good Friend Elvie

I didn’t see Elvie again since the night of our graduation from the Plebeian Academy until I met her in Hong Kong in 1990.
It took nineteen long years.
She was surprised when I saw her one Sunday morning at the second floor of the Hong Kong Post Office building, near the Star Ferry in Hong Kong.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017


At the seaport of Marseille, the boarding ramp of the ship Altalena was crowded by Jewish immigrants bound for the newly-established state of Israel. Altalena was the former LST-138, one of the landing crafts used by the Allied countries in the invasion of Germany-controlled France in June, 1944. It was purchased by the US branch of Irgun for the purpose of bringing arms, combatants, and civilians in the land of Israel. The name Altalena was the nom de plume of Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

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An American Teacher In The Philippines

George William Sutterthwaite looked at the map of the Philippine Islands in the office of the American volunteer teachers inside the Walled City of Manila, commonly called Intramuros. The office of the American volunteer teachers was located near the Ayuntamiento in the walled city of the former colonizers of the Philippines, the Spaniards.
George was one of the first Americans who responded to the call by the US Federal government for American volunteer teachers to the Philippine Islands in the year 1901. He arrived in Manila, together with other American volunteer teachers via the ship USS Thomas. They were called by the moniker Thomasites.
Single and adventurous, George wanted to help the youth of the Philippines by teaching them English, Mathematics, and Industrial Arts. These were his favorite subjects. He had been teaching these subjects to American students for two years. He thought that teaching these subjects to the young people in the Philippine Islands would give him more challenges, and more meaning as a teacher, by helping the less privileged youth of the islands.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

If Tomorrow Never Comes

“I miss you. Wherever you are, my love, I hope you are safe. You can call me by landline or cellphone, or just text me. I’m aware of the situation you are in, and I’m praying for you,” Andrea Gonzales said in her radio program in DWRD titled From Davao With Love.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Third Thief

Adoram and Zadok were still asleep when Ephraim left the house. He had covered his head with a cloth. He also kept a black eye-patch in his bag for covering his left eye. This would serve as a form of disguise. He also carried a staff that served as his weapon. He journeyed to the city of Jerusalem which was only about half-a-mile from Bethany.
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Flowers Of Beersheba

The city got its name from the word "beer" which means well and the word "sheba" which means covenant. Based on the Biblical account in the book of Genesis, Abram, the patriarch of the Jewish people who would later on be called Abraham, gave the King of Gerai named Abimelech seven lambs for the right to dig a well for his cattle and flock in the territory of Abimelech.
King Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven lambs you have set apart by themselves?”
Abraham replied to the King of Gerar, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”
The two men had a "sheba" or covenant for the beer or well dug by Abraham for his cattle and flock.
“So the place was called Beersheba because the two men swore an oath there.”

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Sands Of Time

“The woman is a beauty queen. She was a former winner of Miss Philippines. I met her during the inauguration of Lettergys in Quezon City. She was one of the guests during the launch,” Editha said.
“How do you know that your husband is involved with this girl?” Angela asked her friend.
Editha answered that she saw her husband and the girl buying baby clothes in a mall at Araneta Center in Quezon City.
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Monday, February 13, 2017

Francisca's Love Story

Aurelio was a handsome twenty-two-year old man. He was very friendly, had a medium build, clean-cut hair, and a positive disposition in life.
Francisca sported long hair. Her eyes were very attractive and she had a well-proportioned nose. Her skin was smooth, and her complexion was fair.
The new teacher finds himself captivated by this young lady and as their paths cross by chance. And isn't that how most love stories begin?
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There Is Eternal Life

“Why has it suddenly become dark?” Flavius asked his fifteen-year old servant, a Jewish teen from Caesarea Philippi.
Flavius was one of the trusted military aides of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator of Judea and Samaria from 26 A.D. to 36 A.D. He walked to his house from the palace before noon time to take his lunch and to rest. The Roman military governor’s palace in Jerusalem, where he held office, was only about sixty meters away from the house where he was staying.
“I don’t know, Master,” the fifteen-year old Jewish boy answered Flavius. Flavius was still wearing his uniform as a Roman military officer.
Flavius thought that the strange phenomenon – the sudden turning of light to darkness, from day to night, was just a momentary eclipse. But when the darkness prolonged, he asked his servant boy to light a lamp...

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

My Sister Aida Is A Diamond

I was either four or five years old when my sister Aida brought us kids to the kulos at the back of the San Manuel Elementary School in barrio Lanat.
Kulos is the Ilocano word for a brook or an elongated body of flowing water during the rainy season. In the summer, the kulos dried up.
It was during the rainy season, from May to November, when the kulos at the back of the San Manuel Elementary School came alive. My sister Aida brought three kids with her – Dante Santo Domingo, Lita Dacanay, and myself. I was the youngest of the three kids.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

If We Ever Meet Again

“Fiestas should never be banned in the Philippines,” Catherine Steinberg told her high school batchmate from the Moncada Catholic School. She was on vacation in her hometown in the Philippines.
“Do you have fiesta celebrations in Denmark, too?” Alma de la Cruz, her batchmate, asked her.
“Well, sort of. But not the fiesta we have in almost every town in the Philippines. Here in our country, fiestas have been a tradition of our people since the Spanish colonial times.

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Friday, January 20, 2017


Norbert Mercado talks with long-time sports journalist Ron de los Reyes about Filipino Olympic athletes who could have won the first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines.

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The Sheridans

The group of American teachers came to the Philippines aboard the US transport ship USS Sheridan. They sailed from San Francisco, California to Manila several weeks before the arrival of the USS Thomas. The ship brought the first batch of Thomasites – 365 male and 165 female teachers.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Benham Rise

Benham Rise has vast deposits of methane ice, which is being considered as the fuel of the future. Having a vast repository of this resource could make the Philippines one of the richest nations in the world.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Autumn Of An Emperor

“Fourteen years ago, I saw a very bright star from this balcony. Now, not a single star can be seen in the sky,” Emperor Augustus Caesar whispered to himself as he watched the eastern sky from the balcony of his room in his palace.
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