Sunday, January 31, 2010


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Playful Child

The Perfect Lady

This is an entry to the song-writing contest at Unluckily, I lost, lol...but it was fun composing it.

That gorgeous lady standing over there,
Yes, that's my wife, I swear.
She looks young I know, but she's over 42.
She's my inspiration you see,
The guiding star in my life.

She believes in me.
Even when others cease to be.
Her sunny side-up-eggs are not perfect.
My shirts, she can't even iron well.

The dirty clothes are all in one deck.
She gets all weepy watching soaps,
Afraid of the dark and creepy shadows,
she screams when she sees a harmless lizard.
And goes all mushy when she reads a book.
But mind you, this lady is mighty swell.

I love her just the way she is.
An angel from above who made life worth living.
I'd give up everything if she continues to exist.
But now she's sick on my bed and it's time to repay.
The love she unselfishly shared with me.


Have you ever met a perfect lady in this lifetime?
I did, she's my friend, my lover and my wife.

A person is perfect for you, as long as you love her, no matter what her imperfections are.

Monday, January 18, 2010

WOOF Top Picks for January 1, 2010

Thanks for those who voted. Congratulations to all winners.

WOOF Contest – Top Picks


Jena Isle – “This Life” – A retrospective poem.

Roy – “Retreat...” - Acceptance of truth... of defeat.

Dragon Blogger – “Extinguisher of Truth” - Sci-Fi poem about someone learning that a garden of flowers were fed with human blood.

Zorlone – “Fountain of YouthStories told us about a legendary fountain of youth that Ponce de Leon searched and found in America.

Brought to you by PlotDog Press with the Serial Suspense Screenplay "Intervention"

(WOOF participants should re-post all the links above by next Monday. The following links may be excluded as long as you include all the above links.)

Presenting the finest of the writer’s blogs by the bloggers who write them. Highlighting the top posts as chosen by the January 15, 2009 WOOF Contest participants. Want in to join the next WOOF? The next contest ends January 22. Submit a link to your best writing post of the last 3 weeks using the form on this page. Participants, repost the winning link list within a week and you’re all set.

Other Contest Entrants for 1/15/10


William Manson – “She started young” - A poem tackling the issues of Child prostitution.

Roy – “Forever, my baby you will be” - A poem for my daughter's birthday.

dragon blogger – “Rising EarthPoem about a volcano being active.


Justin Germino – “Home Burglary: What would you do?” - A friend of mine came home to find someone robbing his home, what would you do in this situation?

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Journey and an Awakening

I met John during my first class, one rainy day.

“Miss Mendoza,”

“Present, Ma’am.”

“Miss Lozano,”

“Here, Ma’am.”

I went on with the roll call.

“Miss Cruz.”

“Present, Ma’am.”

Just then, a loud bang echoed in the room. We all turned to see a bedraggled young man, with unkempt hair hurrying to an empty seat. I was irked. He didn’t even bother to apologize; he just sat down and proceeded to delve into his backpack.The nerve!

“The new arrival, may I have your class card, please. “

“Ma’am just a moment,” he rummaged in his bag and we all watched silently as he went through his things.

“I don’t have it,” he finally declared. “Can we just go on; I could submit that next meeting. It’s no big deal,” he added nonchalantly.

I wanted to contradict him but I didn’t want to lose my temper, so I managed to bit the words at the tip of my tongue.

“Alright, don’t forget to bring it next meeting. For now may I have your name on a one fourth sheet of yellow paper.”

He nodded.

After the roll call, I started with the introduction of the topic.

“Physiology is an interesting topic because you would learn about the biochemical processes occurring in your body, like how does the body maintain your normal sugar levels…”

“Personally, I’m not interested in that, I’d rather learn about how orgasm occurs and what makes the penis erect,” the pronouncement reverberated in the room.

I stared agape at the brazen young man. A smart aleck, huh!

It was him, again!

The whole class erupted with laughter.

I was used to questions like that and I knew that these were students who just wanted attention for reasons only they knew of.

“Well, Mr. …” I started to leaf through the cards for the yellow paper.

“Castillo, Ma’am,” he provided promptly, snickering in his seat.

“Mr. Castillo, if you’re not too in a hurry, that would definitely be part of our discussion, but for now, you’ll have to listen to me for the introduction of the subject, or you’ll have to leave the room.”

The next meeting, he came in early. He sat slouched in his chair and started doodling. I began with the lesson expecting him to stop but he went on scribbling in his sheet of paper. I continued with my discussion, and as I did, I started to walk around the classroom. He did not change his stance even with my approach. His outright insolence was getting to my nerves.

“Mr. Castillo, may I see what you’re busy with?”

He didn’t even bother to conceal it. There in his notebook was a beautifully drawn caricature of a known politician with two large horns on her head and the trident of Poseidon in her right hand. I silently stared at it, as people beside us started to giggle. This young man definitely spelled trouble, I realized. I bit a scathing reprimand and counted 1 to 10.

“Mr. Castillo, please see me in the faculty room after class.” I said sotto voce. I tried hard to conceal my irritation.

When he came to see me, I asked him, if he had any problem. He denied having one. “I just hate routine,” he replied. He was not antagonistic just simply indifferent so I decided to give him a chance. I provided him some responsibility to channel his energy. I appointed him class monitor; that is, he had to help me monitor the attendance and behavior of his classmates, every class period.

At first, there was a slight resistance, “I forgot the list Ma’am, why don’t you let someone more responsible do it,” he would prod me, bait me.

“No, I want you; because I know you can do it.”

And slowly, I was making progress. Every time he came to give the list, I made small talk. “What’s up?”

“How’re you doing now,” etc.

And every time I got curt replies. As days progressed though, he slowly began to open up. One time when he helped me carry my bags to the school gate, I happened to asked how his parents were.

“They’re in the states, Ma’am. I live here alone.” I was genuinely surprised.

He eventually confided that he was sent ‘home” to the Philippines because he had been involved in a gang war in the States, and they were bent on taking him out. I learned that he had lost all hopes for a better future. “I’m just waiting for the ax to fall, Ma’am.”

I thought about him all night. How hard it must be for him to be literally “abandoned” and “exiled” back "home," where he didn’t even speak the language well…

He got low scores in memorization but I could discern that he was intelligent because he got high scores in analytical questions.

“I don’t even think I’ll be passing third year Ma’am,” he sadly stated.

“Don’t put limits to what you can do,” I firmly said. “If you think you can, then you can. You’re intelligent and all you need is focus.” I kept repeating this to him day in and day out, trying to psyche him.

Slowly his grades improved. He behaved well in class as days went by, not because he had to, but because he wanted to.

He did pass third year as I had predicted. I felt like I was the one who succeeded when he was included in the roster of interns.

“Dear Mom, thanks for everything. Thanks for being my mom in school. You were right; I could pass, if I want to. I will do my best in internship training. I won’t let you down. I love you. John.”

I was speechless as I gazed at the short note. He called me “mom” and said, “I love you.” It was a new high for me, someone not my biological son, saying I love you. I wiped the tears from my eyes and folded the sheet of paper.

After a year, his mother came for the graduation ceremonies, and when he introduced me to his mom, he said, “My mother here in school, Mom,” as he put an arm around me.

I was lost for words. That was one of the most precious appreciations I had received for a long time, for someone not really my own, to call me his mother.

His mom was elated beyond words to watch his son march on stage to receive his diploma.

And you would be delighted too if I tell you that he went on to pursue medicine, graduated with flying colors and is now in his third certification test for medical doctors back in the US.

After John, there was Chelsea, who had a very low self-esteem, even though she was intelligent and a stunning beauty. It took months before she finally believed in herself. She graduated Magna cum laude. She was a sweet girl, who texted me several times during the day, sent me notes and flowers even on ordinary days. Always with the words: “Love you, mom.”

There was Ray, who had parents who belittled his efforts. He practically lived in my doorstep, like a cub seeking attention. He wrote poems for me, sent me flowers, emails, and sweet notes. When I told him to stop because people were trying to give some ugly color to it, he cried and sobbed like a lost child. It broke my heart.

He excelled the following semester, even went into poetry, and graduated at the top 10 % of his class. He treated me to dinner a few days after graduation. He held my hand and put an arm around me, I felt like I was with my son. I felt comfortable and safe.

Somebody saw us and the following day, rumors started to spread. Ray reacted very sensibly. He had matured tremendously in just a matter of months. “Don’t mind them, Mom. We know the truth. Their perception doesn’t matter. We can’t help narrow-minded people think nobly. ” and I had to agree with him.

People who interpreted things in a lewd and “dirty” manner reflected the content of their soul. There was nothing there but filth and malice. People, who really knew us, just laughed the rumors off. Right now, he’s in the states, successfully working too in his field of expertise.

There was Glen - a hopeless case. His mother has given up on him. “He doesn’t listen to me,” she cried. “I can’t control him any longer.” I empathized with her anguish.

I did not promise anything. There was no harm in trying. All it took was constant appreciation. I overlooked the quirks and focused on the positive even if it was only one item.

I am far from perfect. I have my own inadequacies. Overcoming my own and his was a daily challenge, but I persisted, until he started to accept that people appreciated and accepted him for what he was. I had expected him to be a responsible and diligent student and that was what he had turned out to be. He’s also a professional now. Not as successful as John and Ray, but a professional anyhow.

They do keep in touch in spite of work and family.

Others had needed special attention. Some a little less, some more, and every time I remember them, it brings a smile to my lips and a song in my heart.

I wrote this not to boast, but to reiterate that a little word of encouragement can go a long way. I had my trough moments when I wanted to give up, but I made it a point to bounce back and get back on my feet again, after every fall. Persistence is the key. We only pass this way once; we should make the most out of our journey. It is enough reward for me to know that in one way or another, I have been instrumental to their success.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Head Hunting in Kalinga

Is head hunting true? What are the reasons for doing such a gruesome act? Read here in my new blog at Jena Isle's Random Thoughts.

Here's the link. Head Hunting in Kalinga, Is It True?


Picture courtesy of Nikes

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This Life

This life:

Adrift on the waves of my ambitions;

aspiring to succeed, to be wealthy , to be popular.

I brave the storms' onslaught and faced

all turmoils, pain and misery.

This life:

At last, I am here at the banks of success,

my cup is overflowing, my name emblazoned.

I 'm drunk with fame and fortune,

all the transient things within my reach.

This life:

It's coming to its twilight stage,

the luster is dwindling, the echoes

of applause disappearing in the distance.

This life :

It's meaningless, I realized,

lived for myself, it's nothing.

Lived for others, it's something.

This life...

You may want to read its original version here

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Boy Who Saved Christmas


There was once a time when Christmas as we know it, almost did not arrive. It was the year when the act of a little boy, without his knowledge, had a powerful effect on this great tradition we know as the Season of Giving - Christmas.

Tony is a bright, lovely boy of nine. He is a middle child, with an older sister and a baby brother. Their family is a happy one, with lots of love to go around. Tony loves Christmas and every year, he patiently waits for the time when Santa Claus comes to their house to give presents.

One day in church, Tony heard about Jesus giving them the best gift ever. He also learned that the real meaning of Christmas is not about receiving but rather, giving.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive,” the preacher intoned.

Tony thought of Santa Claus, who did nothing but make children around the world happy by giving and giving and giving some more. So, young as he was, he decided to change that and be the one to give something to Santa Claus for a change.

“It’s not fair for him to be giving and giving and we kids not giving him anything in return,” he thought. He could not wait for Christmas to come. He started making a list of all possible gifts to give Santa Claus.

He thought long and hard about what Santa Claus is like, so that he would get him the perfect present. He read books about where Santa lives and how he looks like, what he wears and just about everything about him.

Aside from reading, he also asked his mother and father, his teacher and friends, what they thought was the best present for Santa Claus. Some of his friends thought it unusual to be asking such a question.

“Why Tony, are you planning to reverse Christmas this time?” teased Randy, his playmate.

“I haven’t heard of anyone ever giving Santa anything,” taunted another playmate.

Tony ignored the jibes. Instead, he thought about how to give the present to Santa Claus. Would he just leave it on the mantelpiece, beside the glass of milk and cookies they always left for Santa? Would he write a letter to his old bearded friend as well? How about posting it?

“Oh!, it would be nice to hand the present personally to him,” Tony thought.

His next concern was how much to spend and where to buy the present. He tried to save every penny - the coins his parents give him when they go to the candy shop, the money from Grandma when they go visit once in a while. He also planned to ask a few more coins from Mom when it’s time to do the Christmas shopping.

At last, when Christmas was nearing, he asked his Mom to bring him along for shopping. He went to a lot of shops but alas!, he could not find a suitable present for someone whose life mission is to give away presents! He could not have guessed how daunting a task such as choosing Santa’s present would be.

Then, all of a sudden, a thought came to him. A glorious, wonderful, brilliant idea! He would write a poem for Santa Claus. Yes, that would be his gift to his hero! He will ask his father to help him put the poem in a frame and have it posted to Santa. Perhaps, it will inspire Santa Claus to make more children happy this particular Christmas.

That night, Tony was juggling ideas and thoughts around in his head all through supper. He was stringing beautiful words together to form lines and phrases to capture his lofty thoughts about who Santa Claus is to him. Surely, the old guy will be mighty delighted!

Lying in bed, his mind never stopped working. He could hardly get himself to sleep. He now had a title for the poem and the first two paragraphs. He will make it short and sweet and full of meaning. After all, a young boy like him only had simple thoughts and a simple message.

Meanwhile, up in the North Pole, where Santa’s team of elves are busy assembling and wrapping and checking Santa’s list twice and thrice, Santa Claus is sitting forlorn in his usual chair that rocks and plays a melody by the fire. Mrs. Claus is like a bee hovering over him, handing him a mug of steaming coffee to chase away the cold, adjusting the blanket on his knees, and rubbing Santa’s back, reassuring him that this Christmas will be another success just like the thousands of Christmasses in the past.

Santa Claus believed his dear wife, and yet, he knew that he is not well. He looked back on all those years when he enjoyed flying high in his sleigh bearing all the goods boys and girls have been dreaming of all year round. Yet, right now, something is bothering him. His spirit is not quiet within him. His heart is not at all delighted at the thought of making children happy once again.

Mrs. Claus suggested that they call Mr. Elf Ringleader to inquire about what is troubling Mr. Claus. Mr. Elf Ringleader has a gift to see beyond what is visible. He also has the ability to inquire of the heavens about what is troubling his fellow creatures.

At once, Mr. Elf Ringleader was summoned to the Claus residence. Upon entering, he immediately sensed something wrong in the atmosphere, as if a heavy weight was bearing upon his spirit. When he saw Mr. Claus seated and looking rather out of his usual character, he soon realized what was wrong.

The winter witch is at work! Her spell is working against the good intentions of Santa Claus and his entire workforce of family, elves, and reindeers. This spell makes one despair when there is nothing to despair of, distressed when everything is fine and miserable when the world is as rosy as can be.

Mr. Ringleader solemnly declared what he thinks is the impending doom of the Claus dynasty. Mr. Claus, and all his forebears, carried on the noble tradition of giving and sharing during Christmas time. This tradition goes centuries back. Thanks to the winter witch, this might just be the end of such a beautiful and selfless practice.

“What should we do?” asked Mrs. Claus, her face the picture of absolute distress.

She knows how much gift-giving means to Mr. Claus. He is nearing his retirement, and will soon pass the reindeer rein to their oldest son. Surely, it will break his heart to see the doom of this great family tradition in his watch. What about the future Claus generations? What will life mean to them without doing what they were always meant to do?

As she was pondering on these thoughts, she could hear Mr. Ringleader say still in that solemn voice, “The spell is profound in its damaging effect but it takes such a simple act to break it. Mr. Claus must receive a gift from a pure heart that gives selflessly in order to reverse the effects of the winter witch spell. He had been doing the giving all his life and this time, there must be some sort of giving towards him to revive his flagging spirits and save Christmas.”

“Oh! how can this be possible? There has never been anyone who gave us any gift! Oh! this is not happening.

Are we doomed forever to a life of no purpose?” wailed Mrs. Claus. She can imagine a bleak future with nothing else to do and no one to make happy.

On such a sad note, Mr. Ringleader departed from the Claus residence. Before going to bed, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, together with everyone with them in their home, prayed together for a miracle.

Back in Tony’s house, it’s almost morning. He arose early to put his poem on paper and polish it one last time. At last, it is now finished. He went to his father who was reading the morning paper over a piping hot mug of coffee and toast lathered with thick butter and marmalade.

“Father,” the boy hesitated a little bit. “Would you mind if I ask you a big favour?”

“Of course I don’t mind, Tony,” his father answered. “What can I do for you? Just don’t ask for the moon,” he managed to jest.

“Remember what the Pastor said one Sunday about giving as the real essence of Christmas? Well, I have decided to give something to Santa Claus for a change.”

“That is a noble thought, Tony. I am mighty proud of you for coming up with such a wonderful idea! I can imagine how happy Santa will be to receive a present.”

“Do you think so, father?” asked the little boy, his face animated and aglow.

“I honestly think so, my son,” his father beamed with pride.

“Can I leave this poem that I wrote for you to put in a frame and post it to Santa Claus today, then? His address is at the back of this paper.”

Having been assured by his father, he kissed him goodbye and went back to his room to prepare for school.

As Christmas approached, Tony was beside himself with excitement.

A week later, back at the North Pole, an excited elf was running frantically to the house with a package in his hand. He had just come from checking the mail box for some news about more toys that they ordered for Christmas. While the winter witch spell is still at work, they were still hoping against hope for the miracle they prayed for to happen. So work continued in Santa’s workshop as boxes upon boxes are filled with presents, lists are checked twice and then thrice and more sleighs packed with more boxes.

“Mrs. Claus! Mrs. Claus! There is a package for Mr. Claus,” cried the elf. “I have a delightful feeling this is the miracle we have all been waiting for.”

“Oh, come on, my dear elf. Contain yourself, will you?” chided Mrs. Claus. "Mr. Claus is still in bed and he is likely to have breakfast in the room so let us be careful not to rouse him unnecessarily. He was unable to sleep well last night, that’s why.”

While saying this, Mrs. Claus was busy turning the box over to check who it came from. Then, her hands stilled as she read the return address: Tony O’Connor, 7 Hazel Drive, Derby, Nottingshire. Who must this person be? She hasn’t heard of such a name before.

She thanked the elf and quietly made her way to where Mr. Claus was lying down. He heard her approach and was propped high on his pillows when Mrs. Claus entered their room. At once, Mr. Claus’ eyes went to the package and he held out his hands eagerly to receive it. Mrs. Claus detected a slight trembling of those gnarled, lovely hands of his.

Very tenderly and lovingly, Mr. Claus unwrapped Tony’s present and as he read the poem, tears ran down his cheeks. Ironically, as he was crying and weeping for joy, he could feel his strength and vigour returning. There was an apparent lifting of a heavy load off his chest. The air seemed fresher, the surroundings brightening up. This is it! This is the miracle they prayed for, and it came through the simple gift of a little boy who did not know what to give but gave something of himself anyhow.

This is Tony’s poem for Santa:

All these years you gave to kids

Made them happy with your gifts

Your arrival we dream all year

Your Ho!ho!ho!’s we want to hear.

This Christmas I’m being good

I want to give, as you would

A gift to say thank you

For all the good you do.

Christmas is for giving

It’s a time for love-sharing

Though you give and give to kids

A single gift you never received.

This Christmas I’m mighty glad

Am grown now, a young lad

I will give you the best I can

Thank you, Santa, you’re my man!

And so, that year, Christmas went on as usual. Santa Claus did his usual round of gift-giving on Christmas eve and made thousands of children happy and loved. When he came to Tony’s house, he wept more tears of joy as he carefully and lovingly filled Tony’s stockings with Christmas goodies.

Before sleeping that night, Tony was so happy thinking that he made Santa feel appreciated this Christmas. Little did he know that he was the real hero.


MARIA TERESA BANIAGA is an excellent writer having graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the country - University of the Philippines. She is right now in the UK with her family, and in spite of work and her parenting duties, she is still, able to maintain two blogs: HotMomma and Pinoy Around the World. I admire this woman a lot and I bow to her writing prowess!

Mathe and her family

She has this to say for herself, quote:

"HotMomma is a mother of two wingless angels, married to a wonderful man for more than 12 years already and currently based in England. An aspiring writer, she dreams of one day publishing bestsellers about amazing stories of people she meets along the way. Meanwhile, days are spent looking after the boys and the home, where she creates and keeps a haven for the whole family. An avid cook, a health enthusiast, a driven mom and wife to be the best to those who matter most to her."

Need I say more? Visit her blogs and read more about her interesting, personal adventures.

This story has also been published at

Photo 1 by Scott Schram
Photo 2 by krisdecurtis
Photo 3 by krisdecurtis