The Dark Side of Humanity

These days, to speak against extrajudicial killings is tantamount to speaking against the President and his 16 million supporters, which includes friends and some family members. This results in brothers and sisters thinking bad about, and speaking against us. To a considerable amount of people, we are just noisy, self-righteous brats who do nothing but complain. 

Meanwhile, last night, a brother of my friend just got murdered, “execution-style” outside his home.  The gravity of the situation is getting more and more undeniable and it’s getting closer to home. 

Though I ache for lost friendships, my heart is pained infinitely more by the evil that is being allowed to flourish. By people who continue to stand by it, even. 

Some may argue that not everyone is willing to fight for this, afraid to risk relationships or lives. 

Yet, as I read through the history of the Holocaust, where the mass murders were on a “systematic, industrial level”, thousands of ordinary people took part in the genocide. At first, the Jews were “just” discriminated against–non-Jew neighbors no longer saying hi, and their businesses being burned down. It took years, but we all knew the ending which they aptly called, “The Final Solution”. Six million Jews were killed, with the aid of ordinary citizens who believed that these people, including children, were sub-humans. 

These “ordinary people” were not forced into the mass murder program. In fact, there were recounts of groups of people being asked if they didn’t want to take part, and in one group, only 15 stepped up. More than 500 willingly joined that day to help the SS institute their “cleansing programs”. 

And here we are in the Philippines, propelled by the same anger the Germans were, and lead by the same rhetorically-charismatic leader who promises change, and who kills without reservation. People applauding Duterte’s admission of killing, even while he was Mayor, and promising to kill all the addicts were reminiscent of Germans waving the Swastika while cheering the Nazis. 

Truth is, were ALL subject to this temptation of thinking that we’re higher, better than others. Especially if were coming from an angry place. And I, too, was an angry and frustrated citizen and I had no faith in our judiciary system. There was so much wanting in our lives as Filipinos. Basic services did not work, corruption was rampant and politicians were blatant thieves. I wanted change as well. And I wanted to blame someone, and show some political will. I can completely understand why Duterte won. 

But after six months, when the most prominent feature of his administration is the snuffing out of more than 6,000 lives amidst cheering and applause, I do not understand why he is not being stopped. Worse yet, he is being supported and applauded. I am disturbingly alarmed. My heart has not stopped beating fast because I know, instinctively that there is something gravely wrong. This is something more than human error. This is pure, intentional, insidious evil. 

When his administration allowed the honoring of the late dictator in the place of heroes, it’s like he paid homage to an old evil, cementing its place in history with a lie. 

There is something sinister going on here. And evil, though it may deceive, will always be marked by telltale signs: Does it bring malice? Does it kill? Does it steal? Does it destroy? 

When one looks at the people who have staunchly opposed him, like De Lima, wasn’t Duterte the first one to mention that De Lima had an affair with her driver, thereby leading to the most malicious interrogation the public ever had to witness on live TV? They practically stripped her naked and humiliated her in front of thousands. 

VP Leni Robredo, a widow, also was a subject of pregnancy rumors and her legs, eyeballed by the President

Kill? We have thousands accounted for, including children. 

Steal? We have the office of the President allocated with 17 billion more than the previous administration’s. He has an account whose amount he refuses to disclose. He has allied himself with the country’s biggest thief family and has cleared GMA, one of his financiers, on all of her graft and corruption charges. 

Destroy? Hasn’t this been a recurrent theme in his speech? “I will destroy you!” And he has done so with thousands of lives, and with the truth. He is seeking an alliance with two countries renowned for destroying lives and environment for the sake of “nationalism” and financial gain–China and Russia. 

Is this the change that we signed up for?! 

This is more than just bitter complaints against the administration, or being paranoid. And this is most certainly NOT a write-up by a “yellowtard”. I couldn’t care less about the Aquinos or the Roxases right now. The Philippines is in jeopardy. The Filipinos are going down a path where it will be very hard to turn back. If history tells us anything, hundreds of thousands more lives will be lost, and our soul will be the biggest collateral damage in this whole crusade. 

We may have wanted change, and we may not have chosen evil. But in this pivotal moment in history, when we stand by and let others die, we are no different than the ones who pulled the trigger. When we stand by as he let others believe that killing others is NECESSARY, we are willingly revising truth to how it suits us. As we carry our children to bed tonight, sighing to ourselves just how “safe” we feel now because there are no more “salot ng lipunan”, try just for five seconds to put yourself in one of the 6,000 victims’ shoes. One mom or dad won’t be kissing his/her child ever again. Empathy–that’s a God-given trait to humans. If we have lost it too, then we can all but say goodbye to humanity. 

As there is a dark side to humanity, there is also a good side. There is that side that clings on to hope. Hope in truth that there is a higher one who is sovereign, and who will not let evil win. But, we must turn our back on despair, for that is the opposite of hope. Hope or despair will lead our thoughts and action. But we have to choose, for light cannot coexist with darkness. There can only be one reigning in our hearts, in our lives–good or evil, hope or despair. Our humanity depends on it.

Fighting the New Normal

What does the Philippines have in common with other parts of the world in this moment in history?

We, just as many other countries, are at the cusp of either unveiling a masked mindset, or turning into a new leaf altogether—a “new leaf” that promotes extreme intolerance, sees killings as a necessity, and deems sexual degradation of women as acceptable.

In the US, a video of Richard Spencer hailing Trump and white America amidst applause and Nazi salutes has been making the rounds in social media recently. While the comments section gave a little comfort with people reacting violently against it, the fact that many people in the video were applauding his otherwise-controversial statements like, “Many wonder if they (non-Whites) are people at all” were enough to send chills down my spine. In reality, this presents more than just rhetoric. This represents an angry working-class America that has finally made its voice heard—we feel we have been shortchanged, robbed of what’s rightfully ours and we want change right now. President-elect Trump is the embodiment of that entitled voice.

In France, they are also preparing for their National Elections and a Nationalist, Marine Le Pen has been increasingly gaining ground. She promotes an “updated politics” that supports ideas of protectionism, xenophobia and authoritarianism.

Here on the homefront, the nation has been shaken to division by the new administration’s campaign against drugs. While it sounds a noble cause to get behind, the problem has been the intolerant view that has propelled it, not to mention the recent contradictory events that cast a dark shadow on this government’s self-proclaimed crackdown on drugs. Suddenly, people are seen in either black or white—drug pusher/user or not. And those who belong to the latter are quick to justify that killing them is considerable, and sometimes, very necessary. After all, the President has named these lost souls “subhuman”.

The President’s tough stance has earned him loyal fans, and harsh critics. So it’s either you’re on one side or the other. And each side is quick to offer rebuttals, and arguments and insults on the other for each one’s opinions. It’s brutal, and it’s ugly.

Our family has been very vocal about standing against this administration’s ways. We don’t believe in extrajudicial killings, classifying people as subhumans as based on their actions, and giving different names for what is clearly wrong as stated in the Bible.

It’s earned us more than angry friends. It’s also gotten us death threats and a continuous heartbreak that I cannot explain.

My husband’s family were political activists during the Martial Law regime , and I completely understand where they stand on any threat to human rights, and human life.

I, on the other hand, can’t say I’m the most politically involved citizen. Yet, I’ve felt a relentless burden since the campaign period last year. I thought I was just heavily pregnant and the stress was getting to me. But, now, even after-birth, I couldn’t help but feel a gnawing sorrow for our nation, and for people whom I thought we shared common values with, but now openly supports this administration, and by extension, its crusade against crime and drugs even at the expense of human life.

Yes, it hurts because it’s personal to me, to us. But, what really, truly breaks my heart is that people in the country are quick to defend what’s wrong. In fact, to them, people fighting for human rights are the ones in the wrong. They say we’re making noise out of sheer pride or self-righteousness. This is not about us! This is about the truth that our God taught us all!

His truth is clear: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.

And yes, that includes the drug users and pushers. Jesus died for them too.

Make no mistake. We believe in justice (which is why we cry out against the burial of Marcos in LNMB), and whatever drug-related crimes there are must be put to trial, and put to justice. We also put a lot of weight on our leaders’ transparency, which is why we want to find out the truth on De Lima’s case, too, as much as we want to find out about drug lord Peter Lim. The energy of the administration must be put towards there, and to the rebuilding and strengthening of the family unit (more on that on another blog post). But the drug dependents are NOT subhumans, and who are we to say that they don’t deserve to live?

If God dealt with us the same way, we would have been all dead. Yet, His compassion and mercy reign everyday.

But what’s most disturbing, and why I’ve been pushed to write this with the hopes that I can somehow warn a brother or sister, is because of the insidious campaign based on (Oxford dictionary’s international word of the year) “post-truth“. Defined as, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”, post-truth rides on a public personality’s rhetoric and campaign that is not hinged on facts or truth, rather taps on the more powerful emotions such as hate, anger, entitlement. That got Trump in the White House. That got Duterte in Malacañang.

It all began in the campaign period—pushing Duterte’s macho, unconventional, no-holds-barred, unapologetic persona as stark contrast to TRAPOs, starting off with that expletive-laden remark towards the Pope. It shocked the people, but it also showed the powers that be that the people can take it. They pushed some more, and let the rape joke roll out to the masses. More expletives, more crass jokes, as the body count continues to rise. Until finally, not even the last one shocks us anymore. In fact, it became acceptable. It is now normal, and we can expect it, and we can take it. The conditioning worked.

Truth, suddenly, is relative.

It starts out simple—renaming an already-established evil practice such as murder (“collateral damage”) or white supremacy (“alt-right”), then reintroducing it over and over through media until it becomes “normal”, until its manifestations become acceptable.

From a seed rooted in a strong desire for change that suddenly reignites feelings of discontent, of anger at being unpacified by our government, and of rage that all our needs are not being met. Suddenly, we lash out at the establishment for not giving all that we think we deserve. And in our nation’s case, one candidate has pinpointed just the perfect culprit—the drug users and pushers in this country. And not only has he given the perfect scapegoat, he also promised to do the cleaning up for us. He will eradicate and he will instill change by ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

Who doesn’t love a quick fix, right?

And who can deny the appeal of someone who gives us license to act out our innermost impulses. Almost like that bad boy who lives on the edge, and who’s not afraid to be different and to live dangerously. Who can resist that?

Well, sure the appeal may be explainable, but when we’re talking about lives being taken away without so much as batting an eyelash, and people agreeing that it’s really necessary, and justifying it’s for the greater good, everyone will come to a crossroads. Either you do a double-take and re-examine, or you inhale deeply and decide you can accept this. For any of the two, it’s certain that one will never be the same again after making a decision.

The most dangerous part about this line of thinking is that it’s a slippery slope. From indulging the feeling of entitlement, to self-righteous anger, and tolerating an underlying culture that excuses, even encourages killing, pretty soon, we can just get pissed at anyone on the street and go on an all-out rampage.

As our feelings of entitlement gets bigger and bigger, we see the line of morality blurring, and is instead replaced with personal boundaries that when crossed, must be avenged with blood. If the anger in social media is any indication, the scenario in real life is hardly comforting. We are all subject to this kind of temptation, all of us. That is why we must guard against it, NOT embrace it.

Why? Because we have children, and they are Filipinos. Fight for the values that we MUST cultivate–not with lies, or “necessary evil”. God is bigger than that, and He has promised victory.

What I can do is this: Show compassion. Propagate truth. Never bend it, never twist it, never cover it, even if it is inconvenient, even if it is painful. It is a light that must not be covered.

And what is that truth? And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Change starts, and ends, there.

 

 

Gujab Momma Finds

Since becoming a mom, I’ve come to love natural, simple, effective AND affordable products. I find it unreasonable to use effective products that are way overbudget because I believe that God made effective solutions for us without costing too much (“My burden is light” nga eh.) Plus, it’s more sustainable as well for a growing family such as ours to be wise (not unnecessarily kuripot or frugal), which is why long-term efficacy is just as important as cost. So that being said, I’m always on the lookout for good, effective, natural (as much as possible) products that are priced reasonably. And when I find them, I feel my heart soar and I’m most eager to share them! For this reason, most of the products  in our bathroom and in our household are Human Heart Nature, because they’ve really found the best way to share their advocacy–which is to make it affordable!

Over the past several weeks I’ve also discovered some hot new products that are useful for me as a nursing mom, and for the family. Check out my latest finds:

  • Ilog Maria Propolis Gold propolisI’ve had bouts of colds threats over the last several weeks. Blame it on my lack of sleep. Just when I was feeling the headache and the colds, I took five drops of this for a few consecutive hours and by nighttime, I’m feeling fine. It’s like my little miracle in a bottle! It’s a natural probiotic and anti-oxidant. P121 for a 45mL bottle.
  • Sweet Delights by Charlotte sweet delightsI love these great-tasting galactogogue treats with no bitter after-taste. Plus she sells an assorted box containing four different treats so you don’t feel umay with the same sweet treat every day. I love her oatmeal cookies and the Blondies are the best! As for my milk supply, well, my two-month old wears three-to-six month old clothes already so yeah, my little one is getting more-than-adequate breastmilk! P460 for a one-week supply of sweet treats.
  • Sam Juan Nuts trail mix sam juansI’m hungry all the time. Probably because of nursing. So I need a healthier snack to keep hunger at bay. Sam Juan’s nuts contain roasted (without salt or oil) almonds, cashews, walnuts, raisins and dark chocolates, and they’re absolutely heavensent, especially to a hungry Momma late at night! Healthy and super delicious! And affordable at P170 for a 170 gram bag. Call or text for orders: 0995-4533770.
  • Naturific Coco Sugar   coco sugarWe’ve been using Coco Sugar for quite awhile now, and this is one of the most affordable suppliers I’ve found. I also buy organic pork tocino from Naturific. And the best part?  Fast delivery and their cash-on-delivery mode of payment make the experience  super convenient!
  • May’s Baked Goods  MaysOkay, her products are not the healthiest but if you’re craving for a sweet treat, she makes really good Chocolate Chip Cookies. My other favorite is her Oatmeal Cream Cheese Cookies and these treats are super affordable! Great for gifts too. P100 for a bag of Choco Chip cookies. Call/text 0906-3703870, 0919-9318733
  • Farmer’s Produce Extra Virgin Coconut Oil simple mamaCold-processed, 100% all-natural with no added chemicals. I taste the goodness in every teaspoon. We drink this straight up and mix this with my son’s rice (for protection and for help in digestion). This is one of the best and most affordable sources I’ve found. P400 for a 1-liter bottle.
  • Elin Nursing Wear  Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 5.52.18 PMBeautiful cuts and comfortable fabrics. I love that they use Rayon Spandex so it falls really nice on the body. The one I pictured here is my current favorite–makes my arms look slim and highlights the curve of my waist while covering the tummy pooch. It’s not the cheapest in the market; SM still carries some of the more inexpensive ones (by a couple of hundreds), but the way Elin make its tops and dresses really feels premium. Their website is user-friendly and ordering is a breeze–great for new moms who don’t have much time to go out or the luxury to go to a store and fit in a fitting room. Elin gives me the freedom to order online and exchange should the need arise. I’ll order here again definitely.

What Nobody Tells You About Childbirth

So, it’s been a little over a month since I gave birth to the cutest, chinky-eyed baby girl and had a successful  water birth to remember. A lot of people have been quick to offer their thumbs-up to such an unconventional birth. One might think that I’m this super-“strong” or crazy woman; but believe me, nothing could be further from the truth!

I wasn’t at all like an Earth Momma in tuned with my “inner goddess” nor was I ever so confident of my strength or my self-awareness that I could say I felt power instead of pain. I read somewhere Jessica Alba spoke of her birth this way, “It was Zen. I wasn’t screaming at all.” Whutt?!

"Aguy, aguy, aguy!"

“Aguy, aguy, aguy!”

Me? This is what this post is for. I’m here to tell you what it really like. In the early stages of labor, I asked him already if we could just go for a Cesarean. During transition, I was screaming shamelessly and pressuring my midwife if she could help me “hurry things up”. Hello, what can she do?! Whatever poise I possessed went out the window during birth. Thankfully, we had a great birth photographer who knew how to seize “opportune shots” and made me look really fierce haha! Thank you, Isabell!

"Ate Lornie, anong birth control option ang okay?", I asked in between pushes.

“Ate Lornie, anong birth control option ang okay?”, I asked in between pushes.

Now, pregnancy and birth weren’t all pain. There were many fleeting, strong emotions that grabbed me, and there were so many, many important realizations. It was a journey. One that I know I’d never regret because it gave me my precious Emma. But the learnings I’d definitely keep and remember, if not for another birth (can’t believe I’m saying this), then at least to help another birthing Momma.  Here goes:

  1. Prepare beyond labor and birth. Most focus all their time, attention and resources on preparing for labor and birth, but completely negate post-partum. I remember feeling so heavy and extremely uncomfortable during my last trimester that I was so confident I could do anything after birth. In fact, my husband was inviting me to go to the beach and I said, let’s wait for me to give birth and we can go anywhere. Ha! What I completely overlooked was POST-PARTUM PAIN. The body aches from the toll of labor (which felt like I had come from a boxing match), the pain of vaginal tears, stitches, hemorrhoids, uterine contractions on top of sleepless nights and continuous infant-carrying. Maaan!!! Being a woman is sooo hard! About ten days after birth and of going through such pain, I was frantic and going into depression. I was crying in the shower because of constant pain that I didn’t expect. I went through CS with my firstborn and I thought a natural birth was supposed to heal much easier. Now, I didn’t take into account that healing down there where it’s moist and had to go through pee and bowel movements would simply take time. Why am I telling you this? Because if you’re pregnant, prepare for this as well. Things don’t stop at birth, whether it’s CS or natural. You have to give your body time to heal. Pain will force you to rest, and that is exactly what you need to be doing. What can you do? Pray for patience through the pain for it really has the power to strengthen us. Then get good post-partum care, rest, keep yourself dry and clean and rest some more. Pour water when peeing and even during bowel movements to help ease pain, take Ibuprofen (but clear with your Doc first), and change underwear OFTEN. I heard this from other Momma friends, and I can now tell you the same thing: It does get better.
  2. Don’t be afraid to lose yourself. I had to learn this during labor. Child-bearing (and child-rearing) is all about giving. The more we hold back out of fear, the more it’s going to be difficult. The most important revelation for me was this: Just as we give a big part of ourselves while nurturing another being inside of us, I believe that God gave a part of Himself to each one of us, too. Creating us may have been easy for Him, but His “investment”was His own self. In His image and likeness after all. And what better proof than Jesus Himself? He gave Himself for us so we live a life reconciled to Him. And what birth taught me is that blood needs to be shed for new life. Sacrifice is part of love. But looking at my sweet baby, I know it is pain not without its reason or rewards. And I know I’d go through labor and birth again for any of my children; just as I know God created us even as He knew we would sin and choose to live in rebellion against Him.
I surrendered many times that night. And I praise God He caught me, strengthened me, LOVED me.

I surrendered many times that night. And I praise God He caught me, strengthened me, LOVED me.

3. Peace does exist. Pregnancy and birth have been pre-designed. While my mind filled with all sorts of what-if’s and possibilities, a steadfast stillness filled my heart. Peace does precede and follow even during the difficult stages, but overthinking and worry did make things complicated and harder to manage, simply because I was fighting design. But learn to distinguish God’s peace and guard it. When I found that I’m tired from flailing and fighting, that same peace waits for me. And I have the option to choose to TRUST the peace-giver instead. And I rediscovered the feeling of patience through the pain, of His love that never leaves us even in the midst of calamity or pain. But I cannot manufacture peace. True, authentic peace. When His peace comes to me, it’s different. Steady, firm, undeniable but not overpowering. Sure, graceful but not pushy. Which is how I know it’s not from me. It’s from Someone greater and Someone who cares, because this break is exactly is what I need.

We printed and laminated key Bible verses and posted them on the wall so we can draw strength as needed.

We printed and laminated key Bible verses and posted them on the wall so we can draw strength as needed.

4. Husband has a very important role. This is the reason why I opted to birth in a birthing home rather than a hospital. I wanted my husband to be with me during labor. I knew I would need his support in there, as I needed it in other areas of my life. His constant reminder for me to breathe, his massages, his hands (which I squeezed and battered painfully) practically enabled my pushing, and his emotional support post-birth helped me get through it all with my sense of humor still in tact. Even if you would birth in a hospital setting, hubby’s role still is important as the journey doesn’t end at birth. Ask for help and involve him.

Loving security

Loving security

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He is my rock.

5. It’s a can-do. Some women say birth is a must-do, like some sort of item to check on a bucket list. But it’s more than that. This is what we’re designed to do. Birthing is something we really, truly can do. The way our bodies were made, its size, its capability to handle pain (and believe me, we can handle it), its ability to heal–all are part of the grand design of motherhood. It’s not just a mind-over-matter thing. We can really physically do it. Kaya siya.

Now, given all that, was natural birth something excruciatingly painful? From my own personal experience, no. The body prepares and eases us into it until mind, body, heart are all ready to give birth. So by the time my baby is ready to come out, I’ve just been waiting for it and fear of pain has no more hold on me. It did bring out strength that I didn’t know I possessed, but I say this without pride. On the contrary, natural birthing humbled me. It literally brought me down to my knees, surrendering to my God who gave me the faith that He is in complete control. I went into it weak, yet supernatural strength was lent to me, and with it, I gave birth to new life. Praise God for this miracle! It’s incredible to be made a part of it.

What a miracle!

What a miracle!