9/11

11 09 2013

It was one lazy evening spent drinking with friends.  TV was just playing in the background.   All of a sudden, CNN flashed some breaking news about one airplane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers. And then another one crashed into the other tower.  Whatever degree of drunkenness I had that evening dissipated as I sat down transfixed on the TV.

Devastated was an understatement of how I felt.

2,996 deaths.

Have we become so enamored with power that we could easily kill another just to keep it?  Can we no longer take not being agreed with? Have we become so desensitized that another person’s life to us no longer carries as much value?

It’s been 12 years today but we are in no way closer to achieving peace than we were back then.  I am not in the US but remembering the events that unfolded from that day on still breaks my heart.  I am in the Philippines where war has lost its novelty.  I hail from the south where bombs explode and it only makes the local news.  It is sad that our wars are mostly internal.  Today, people in Zamboanga City fear for tomorrow.  At any given time,  someone could die and it could them. For what? Brothers fighting brothers for reasons all feudal but dressed differently.  Does it justify anything?

No.

As nothing makes sense to me and as hope changed its name to chance, I can only whisper a prayer to my God.  Let there be peace on Earth.  And let it indeed begin with me.





Yet Another Shoutout for Inequality

26 02 2012

So apparently, women in the US would have gotten their blanket protection against violence if not for the introduction of the LGBT and immigration clauses?

Let me just get this right… does this mean women are protected so long as they’re not gay, and have the right papers to prove their citizenship.  Nice.

Wow…

 





Pacman Pounds the Hitman

3 05 2009

The Hitman hit the canvas as Manny Pacquiao showed the world anew who the king of the ring really is. Man! It was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen. Gave new meaning to the phrase sweet and short.

I was a bit worried because I saw Ricky Hatton’s previous fights and let’s face it, Floyd Mayweather Sr.’s taunts can sometimes get under one’s skin. He has never been known for his modesty, sarcoidosis notwithstanding. And Hatton has been one solid bloke with a shining and shimmering boxing record.

But our Manny is no underdog. He has an outstanding record and he has hurt some of the best boxers in the land. When Manny came in wearing a smile, I was somehow appeased. He looked relaxed while Hatton looked so intense, sporting a glare reminiscent of the now familiar Jayke Joson’s look found in almost every Pacman photo op. I wondered if he was being smug about something.

Then it all began. When Hatton fell down after missing a left hook and getting a smashing right from Manny, I was excited but not too confident because it wasn’t the best of punches from the Filipino pride. But when he fell down the second time in the same round, I was a bit relaxed.

The second round came in a blur and what followed was yet another air-punching moment as Manny drove a left hook and Hatton on his butt and on his back eventually. It was awesome! I love the shot. I love the timing. The force was magnificent! But it cut the fight too soon. Darn! I wanted more! But it was great all the same. And I understood what Manny was so smug about. He handled it soooo well.

Manny kicked the Brit’s butt and the butts of all his fans, some of whom were waving the Philippine flag upside down in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. I am pretty sure they’ve a newfound respect for Manny Pacquaio now. Hatton’s fans still sang Hatton’s anthem even when Referee Joe Cortez proclaimed Floyd Mayweather Jr as the winner in the fight that used to be the only one where the Hitman lost. But when Pacquiao won earlier, they looked dumbfounded. Didn’t expect it, did you? And not that fast, huh?

I was just disgusted with Martin Nievera’s singing of the National Anthem. It was out of tune, out of sync and outta here. The National Historical Institute have yet another sermon to give. They should talk to both Nievera and Ney Dimaculangan (6 Cyclemind vocalist—the band’s the main Tanduay endorser, and Tanduay was the main sponsor of the Donaire fight that’s why). I mean, I don’t like it that our song is so rigid with rules and all that, unlike the freewheeling but more heartfelt Star Spangled Banner but it is our song and there is a specific way of how it should be sung.

I wonder if Ricky Hatton will do another Fatton after this fight.

Manny Pacquiao must be reeling. I know I am. He has once again done the Pinoys all over the world proud. Oh, and I hope the vultures who left Batasan for photo ops with the guy will now get back to work.

Way to go, Pacman! Next stop—Valero or Mayweather Jr.

Filipino, Filipino, Filipino ang lahi ko!





A Grateful Nation

23 01 2009

“Please accept this flag on behalf of a grateful nation.”

I love Las Vegas, the TV series.  I hope they’ll have another run.  It’s a long shot but hey, a lot of things happen in Vegas.  I believe it deserves a million seasons to cover all the colorful things that happen in that very eventful golden land.  The Bold and the Beautiful has been there since time immemorial, so why shouldn’t Las Vegas be eternally airing? Yeah, yeah, it’s a soap but ya know what I mean.

Anyway, I was watching one of the episodes of Las Vegas where Det. Luis Perez dies in Iraq and the gang attends his memorial service.  With Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door playing in the background, the scene was very heavy.  He was in Iraq for just a week and off he went knockin’ on heaven’s door! Ok, so when the camera panned to focus the men in uniform fold the flag, the whole scene got heavier.  One of them handed it to his mother and uttered those words, I shed a tear (I know it comes as no surprise, I am silly, I cry at the movies and while watching even a not-so-tearjerker, so bite me! But this one’s really worth the tearduct exercise.).

I wonder how, in real life, a grieving widow or a girlfriend or the mother and father, the friends, or the young orphans in the US who has/have lost a childhood sweetheart or son or brother or sister or friend or parent feel upon hearing that line.  I’m sure it’s just as painful no matter how big the gratitude of the nation is. Watching a memorial service is always moving, and more so if it’s for soldiers who have honorably fought for peace (ironic, I know!) and freedom, and while it is very heartwarming to hear such big words, it makes me wonder if it was all worth it.  If this war’s worth it.

But regardless of everything, wherever we are in the world, it’s sad.  It’s really sad.  Yeah, my eyes are still wet.





Hail to the (New) Chief!

21 01 2009

I’m no Obama fan (if I get the time to really get down to it, I’ll prolly scribble a few lines as to why I’m not exactly jumping up and down my seat for the guy) but hey, today’s really something else.  It’s still a milestone and I’m all for equal opportunities so his victory demands a celebration.  It’s not just about him anyway.

President Elect Barack Hussein Obama took the presidential oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States of America, after pausing and stumbling on the first few words, and the first African-American to hold such position.  It brings to mind the final episode of one of my favorite TV series: The West Wing.

Pres. Obama is a celebrated speaker and writer and so people have been joyfully anticipating what he’s going to say in his inaugural address.  Credit must also go to the youngest presidential speechwriter ever, Jon Favreau who wrote his first draft of today’s speech in Starbucks  in D.C.    “Favs” is now my new fave!

Ok, this doesn’t exactly go up into the pantheon of rhetorical magnificence (I like his much longer speech in Philly after that hoopla on Rev. Wright’s outbursts) but the fact that it was delivered on that major turning point in the history of the US, and of the world, is greatness in itself.

I think I’ve used the word president far too many times.  But who cares!  It’s a day of goosebumps.

So, here goes:

Transcript of Pres. Obama’s inaugural address:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.





Not A Political Statement

22 03 2008

“Love is a human experience, not a political statement.”

Wow!  In this day and age, such profound words from an amazing and gorgeous young lady are a breath of fresh air.  There’s hope for this planet after all! 

Anne Hathaway IS something else.  She’s the recipient of this year’s HRC Ally for Equality Hero award. 





Of Politics and Genealogy: US Edition

7 03 2008

My friend, Todd, never runs out of interesting genealogy-related posts. So I grabbed another interesting one. Everything after this sentence is taken from his blog.

US Presidential Family Trees

There is always a resurgence of genealogical interest every election season in the United States. In the past, genealogists believed that the presidential candidate with the most number of royal connections, ergo the “most royal” of all the aspirants, almost always wins the election.

Another angle to look at is the diversity of the family connections of a presidential candidate. This early on, using the references of online genealogical databases, let us examine who among Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain has the political, social, and royal pedigree.

Part I: BARACK OBAMA

Barack Obama, one of the two Democratic contenders for the presidency, is perhaps, among the three candidates, the most genealogically diversed. His bloodline consists of Luo (Kenyan), English, German, Irish, Welsh, and smattering of French and Dutch ancestries. His pedigree shows different groups of people spanning several generations from different places. (Click here to see his pedigree chart).

Obama’s Kenyan ancestry is sketchy, and is traced only through the male line. (Click here for a diagram of his Kenyan ancestry.) Much of his known family tree is through his maternal side, and it is here that we find many interesting relations to the senator.

Obama could count at least two royal ancestors: William I “the Lion”, King of Scotland, and Henry II of England. He is related to at least six US Presidents: Jimmy Carter (half 7th cousins three times removed), Harry Truman (7th cousins three times removed), the 2 George Bushes (10th cousins once and twice removed, respectively), Woodrow Wilson (husband of Obama’s 6th cousin five times removed), and James Madison (3rd cousin nine times removed). He is also a ninth cousin once removed of Vice-President Dick Cheney. He has several relative lawmakers and Supreme Court Justices, as well.

But Obama’s ancestry is not limited to political personalities. He is a 7th cousin four times removed of renowned artist Georgia O’Keefe, and his eighth cousin once removed, Elizabeth H. Richardson, was married to novelist Ernest M. Hemingway. Another relative is Gordon B. Hinkley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Theodore N. Vail, founder of AT&T, is a sixth cousin four times removed, while banker JP Morgan is a 7th cousin four times removed.

Other interesting relations of Senator Obama are actors: Margaux Hemingway, his 9th cousin; Superman Christopher Reeve, a 7th couin twice removed, and Katharine Hepburn, a 7th cousin thrice removed, and Brad Pitt is a 9th cousin. Even Justin Timberlake is Obama’s 11th cousin! A truly interesting approach to American politics.

Part II: HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Interestingly, Senator Clinton’s ancestry is also as colorful as Obama’s, though not as diverse as his. While Obama’s relatives include people from the arts, politics, banking and finance, business, the Mormon church, and even royalty, Clinton’s are more concentrated on two areas: politics and the arts. (Click here for Clinton’s pedigree chart)

Her political relatives include Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien of Canada. Other than these two popular Canadian politicians, most of Hillary’s more popular relatives are from the entertainment industry. Shania Twain is her 9th cousin three times removed, Celine Dion is her 10th cousin once removed, Alanis Morissette is her tenth cousin, while Madonna and Clinton are 10th cousins. Three very interesting notes on Hilary’s genealogy: her royal antecedents are supposed to be the Kings of Navarre, but there are no exact evidences for that; she is also a 10th cousin of Camila Shand, the Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Prince Charles; and, finally, actor Jon Voight is the husband of Marcheline Bertrand [and father of Angelina Jolie], Hillary’s 9th cousin once removed.


Part III: JOHN McCAIN

McCain’s antecedents are not as glamorous and diverse as Obama’s and Clinton’s. In fact,John McCain’s genealogy (for the time being) has only been traced to reveal two interesting people: one, to King William I “the Lion”, King of Scotland, who is McCain’s direct ancestor, and Laura Bush, wife of President George W. Bush, who happens to be a sixth cousin of Senator John McCain. (Click here for McCain’s pedigree chart).

In a world where political victories and losses are not as easily predicted as surveys are paraded and believed to be, looking at a candidate’s ancestry sometimes tells us who among the candidates is the strongest.

It is interesting to note that Obama and McCain share a common descent from King William of Scotland, and that Obama and Clinton are relatives by affinity because Obama’s cousin, Brad Pitt, married Angelina Jolie, the daughter of Jon Voight, Hillary’s cousin.

The fight between Hillary and Obama will be long and hard, considering that both have strong royal bloodlines and, while Obama have many US Presidential relatives, Clinton’s two Canadian Prime Minister cousins Trudeau and Chretien are two of the modern times’ most influential. And, between them are [sic] a plethora of singers and actors and actresses, each of whom have made an impact to the world.

Whoever wins in the Democratic race will ultimately face McCain who, while not having as many famous relatives as Obama and Clinton, certainly has the right relationship to incumbent George W. Bush, as well as also a royal descent from William of Scotland. It would seem that this November would be a face-off between Obama and McCain, both of whom are related to the Bushes and both sharing a common descent from King William of Scotland.

_____________________

This article is based on several online genealogies of the three candidates, the most comprehensive of which is http://www.wargs.com/political.