Archive for August, 2009

Brace yourself!  You are familiar with cashless shopping, e-cards, e-wallets and credit cards – those shiny 2″ x 3″ plastic cards which come in different colors and designs, which could buy you a sumptuous lunch or dinner in a fancy restaurant, a four-day quick trip to Hong Kong or a nice European tour depending of course on how much your limit is.  In the banking industry, a client or customer is always valued on the manner in which he handles his finances.  Your credit  history would speak on how trustworthy you are. The longer you have it would somehow give weight when you are applying for a personal loan or want to secure mortgages on your house or other personal properties.  There are still people who prefer cash in their transactions, an old-fashioned and somehow not a safe way to transact business considering the times we are in right now.  I remember that before I left Bank of PI nine years ago, I enrolled our  utilities online, now I could pay anytime, so convenient really.

It seems that the world is rapidly being catapulted to a paperless society.  I am talking here of the new gadgets like the Sony eReader, the Plastic Logic eReader and of course Amazon’s version called Kindle. It’s lightweight at 10.2 ounces and thinner than most magazines, it’s just over 1/3 of an inch.  Do you believe that it can store as much as 1,500 titles and can download newspapers through its 3G wireless system in a blink of an eye?  There is even the new text-to-speech feature, it can load any newspaper, magazines, blogs and book out loud to you.  Voracious readers like me might be overjoyed by this new technology.

Is the allure of reading gone to the dogs?  And they say that books now belong to the 20th century, at the back shelf.  Okay, okay, I’ve tried downloading e-books on the net and saving them to my document files. It’s as easy as one-two-three but the thing is, you still need to sit  in front of the computer to read it.  Having this new gadget is like having the latest I-phone or Blackberry.  If you are an environment conscious individual, you would love to have this instead of the heavy books you have to bring along in your sturdy backpack.   How many trees do they have to cut to compile a thousand page paperback or to make those glossy coffee-table books which we  love?

There is something so wonderful in hugging a newly bought book, smelling its pages and anticipating when to start reading it.  There is a sense of wonder, at least for me, to look at the cover of a paperback and turn the pages ever so lovingly while at the same time enjoying a good story.  You can curl up anywhere you want provided you feel comfortable enough with it.  I enjoy reading the morning papers in the garden and having a night read at the privacy of the bedroom.

Paper or plastic?  Give me a book anytime. It may take a while before I could adapt myself to this new revolution.  I may not be able to afford it anyway.


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One thing that makes me so happy nowadays is what I call “my nothing to do” days meaning that I could read, blog, stay on the net for hours, or watch DVDs (not necessarily in that order) to my heart’s content. So many books to read, so many thoughts playing in my head, they really compensate for the times that I could not tend to my gardening jobs, hours solely spent for personal pursuit.

Nissa and I have lots of TBR books filing up. Just this morning, they went to the mall after the 9am mass to buy some groceries and as I have always said, the trip won’t be complete without visiting NBS. Nissa came home waving a copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffinegger (it’s now a major motion picture) and another book by one of our favorite suspense authors Nelson de Mille. I don’t know if Up Country is as good as his other books. Josef bought another Calvin and Hobbes’ book entitled Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow  Goons. What a mouthful for a book title.  Sometimes I could not really understand his fascination for comic books, they are more costly than your average bestseller. Why, I could buy at least five or more books at Booksale with that price tag. I’ve just read Sophie Kinsella’s  The Undomestic Goddess, a genuinely funny chick lit, and recently started with Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed , hopefully finish it in  two days. I don’t know why I am repeatedly drawn to chick lit nowadays, they really make me laugh and they are light reading. Anyway, I digress!

Zen Inspiration, now, this is what I call inspired reading and I was lucky enough to buy a copy at NBS several months ago. The paintings and the beautiful and superb calligraphy alone would make you really sit down and savor every page but what kept me arrested were the poems, haiku, koans, etc. Open your heart and let the quiet wisdom seep into your soul. As the cover says, Zen Inspirations “offers a selection of the great Zen texts that bring insight and contemplation to busy modern lives”.

I Make my Home in the Mountains – (Li Po 701-762)

You ask why I live alone in the mountain forest

And I smile and am silent

Until even my soul grows quiet:

It lives in the other world,

One that no one owns.

The peach trees blossom.

The water continues to flow.

This poem was accompanied by a beautiful picture of a dense forest with the sunlight seeping through the pockets of windows among the leaves of the trees. And here’s another one,

Lute – (Po Chu-I 772-846)

My lute set aside on the little table

lazily I meditate on cherished feelings.

the reason I don’t bother to strum and pluck?

There’s a breeze over the strings and it plays itself.

Beautiful! I could imagine the serenity of the scene, the peace it brings to the soul, the quiet and unspoken thoughts of the author, gosh, I can feel the raw emotions there.

Mountain Dwelling – Ch`ng Kung

Things of the past are already long gone

And things to be, distant beyond imagining

the Tao is just this moment, these words:

plum blossoms fallen;

gardenia just opening.

How I wish I could write beautiful poems like these. Oh, they just remain, “wishful thinking”.

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Hear His voice, He speaks to you in silence, gently, with such sense of humor sometimes that you find yourself laughing with Him.  The first time I learned that I need to undergo surgery, I asked Him these simple questions:

Lord, would I have to bear another scar? He answered;  Yes, but this time I’ll make sure that it would look better than the first. True enough, though it reached a long 9 inches, the cut was clean, it’s a long straight line.

I am afraid Lord, I don’t want to undergo  another surgery. Then He whispered, Don’t you worry, I’ll hold your hands and will carry you when it’s done.

I lost weight when I was  at the hospital, 10 lbs. to be exact and I was worried I’ll lose even more if I have to undergo further treatments and He assured me by saying, Oh come on, you need to lose a little more. By the time you’re done, you’ll be able to wear all those medium size dresses, and those dainty Hang Ten T-shirts that you love. He had me laughing so much  and right there and then, I wanted to hug Him and embrace Him tight.

The nurse at the chemotherapy unit briefed us on what to expect after each session of treatment.  Some chemotherapy drugs have that immediate effect of losing one’s hair and the wise recourse is for you to have it shaved, as in bald head?  Then I heard Him whispering in my ears again; Why, don’t you want to wear those trendy and fashionable  head gear?  But I assure you, you won’t lose your hair. So I asked my oncologist if I won’t go bald and she told me that medications for colon cancer are quite safe from that.  Then I felt  Him nudging me, I told you  and you won’t believe. Forgive me Lord for doubting you  even for a minute.

At some moments when I feel so down, I remember that  God  chose me to share His suffering and I am privileged that He trusts me enough to bear my cross.  Dear Lord, thank you for making me so special in your eyes.

“Life is not measured by
the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments  that take
our breath away.”

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Dr. Robin Cook has done it again- another medical and suspense thriller added to his list of works that deal on almost any topic like medical malpractices, health insurance anomalies, science of Genomics, Bioinformatics etc. This page-turning medical mystery is a sequel to his other books like the Blindsight, Chromosome 6, and Vector. It’s the return of his famous characters in these three books, Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton, both forensic pathologists at the Office of the Medical Examiners in NY.It deals with the love/hate relationship between these two medical examiners. Laurie in the course of her work has identified cases of sudden adult death syndrome in young healthy individuals who after twenty four hours of surgery suffer sudden cardiac death. She discovers that the deaths might be intentional – the work of a remarkably clever serial killer with a shocking motive. Then she discovers that she is carrying a genetic marker for breast cancer and might be a potential victim herself.The plot thickens when Jack and their friend Lou discovers who was the real killer. But the question is “why?”. It turned out in the end that all the victims were purposely killed because they all carried markers of serious diseases and their insurance company does not want to pay in case something happens to these people.

I have always admired Robin Cook. I learned a lot from his previous books. His plot takes its premise from the fact that health care environment today shows disregard for human life, patient care is not a priority,” that everything is decided according to vested interests”.Cook even explained what a science of Genomics is, which in simple term means the study of a flow of information on a cell. Marker might not be as thrilling as Toxin or as scary as Vector but is it a well-researched and compelling book just the same.

I’ve re-read this book lately and somehow it made me appreciate it all the more.  Sure, it is a book of fiction but it reminds me  of the present ordeal which I am undergoing.  I never knew what those markers were for until I was tested with the CEA (colon cancer marker) and the positive result of the lab test made me aware and thirsting for more information on the net.  Perhaps, in a way, it’s true. When I read Ty Bollinger’s research on how cancer treatments are being manipulated and controlled by some big and influential people, it made me think, how could they do it, capitalizing on the misfortunes of others.

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I call this story one of my small miracles. I’ve been so grateful with the people I’ve met the past few weeks, some  are complete strangers but are leaving some comments in my blogs for me to get well.  The day that I uploaded a picture of  BCI (Benavidez Cancer Institute) at the UST Hospital at my Multiply site and at my Tweeter account was the day I met Ty Bollinger online. Of all the million topics about cancer, I was lucky enough to click his site and added my e-mail to his free digest about cancer.  I received an auto responder that same day and browsed the preview of his book, Step Out of the Box. There were so many testimonials and the preview of the book was well written, I was impressed.  I wrote him an e-mail that I wanted to get hold of a copy of his book and also told him that I am presently undergoing chemotherapy because of Stage 3 colon cancer. Imagine my surprise the following morning when he personally answered my e-mail thanking me for writing and he said, “I am happy to share the e-book (4th edition) at no charge”. And he ended his letter with the words “God bless you Arlene”. Gosh, he doesn’t know me from Adam and he could always ignore my e-mail but he chose to share. His generosity touched me so much, I cried.

The book,  Cancer, Step Out of the Box, is a very comprehensive research on the alternative way to fight cancer.  NO to Slash, Poison and Burn – Slash meaning the surgery itself, Poison refers of course to chemotherapy and Burn is his term for Radiation Therapy.  He lost seven of his family members to the big C including his parents so for many years he did research on how to combat and prevent cancer the natural way.  I’m halfway through reading his book and making notes at the same time.  It’s all of 424 pages. I wrote him again to thank him for his gift and he wrote back, “You’re quite welcome, glad you’re enjoying the book”. God is so good, He has His own way of letting you know that you are not alone in the battle.

Cancer does not have to be a death sentence. I agree!  Thank you Ty.

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A while ago, I received this beautiful card from one of my closest friends who is presently residing in CA.  I was so touched when she offered special masses for my healing.  It’s always a joy to receive something like this at a time when you need prayers most.


“Woman of compassion, Mother of Sorrows, I draw inspiration from your journey. I too, can move through the pain of my present situation. Your faith and courage lead me to my own strength.”   (excerpt from “I Speak to Mary by Joyce Rupp)

How wonderful is your gift Lord! Having the gift of friends is one special blessing that I will always treasure.  Thank you Gilda and Estevan for always remembering and for  continuously praying for me.

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Sometimes touching the leaves of the past brings a feeling of warmth inside.

It brings into focus what the present holds and the anticipation of what the

future has in store.

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*Our eyes met

You smiled

I found a friend.

*I knocked

I saw your face

I am home.

*I was lost

Saw the light on your window

Thank you

For being  my guardian angel.

*If you ever see gardenias in bloom

You’d probably say,

“Those are her favorite flowers”

And I would tell you,

“Thank you, what a nice

tribute to a friend….”

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I originally thought of  naming this site, Silence Speaks which is so far the most often used tag and category I have on all my blogs.  But the words, dreams and escapes have their own meaning in my life, so they got stuck, hence the title Dreams and Escapes.

Sometimes, we wish we could change things in our lives,  but it does not work that way. Everything is destined, everything is planned. It is not just something that happens to you, in a lifetime, not even in a heartbeat.  For the past few months or so, most of the time, I’ve been alone with my thoughts, some are happy ones, some humorous, some quite fearful thoughts of what lies ahead.  Slowly, I am beginning to learn and embrace silence in my life.  I told Lovell, a close friend,  that lately I am getting bored with my own thoughts and company but I am beginning to love silence. Then he wrote back, “Ha, ha! Mongha na“.  I had a good laugh when I read that one.

I wish to share with you a few words taken from No Man Is an Islands, by Thomas Merton, who they say is arguably the most influential Catholic author of the 20th century.

Silence does not exist in our lives merely for its own sake. It is ordered to something else.  Silence is the mother of speech.  We receive Christ’s silence into our hearts when we first speak from our heart the word of faith.  Silence is the strength of our interior life.

There  must be a time of day when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he has ever prayed; when the man of resolutions puts his resolutions aside as if they had all been broken, and he learns a different wisdom; distinguishing the sun from the moon, the stars from the darkness, the sea from the dry land and the night sky from the shoulder of the hill.

There must be a time of day when the man who has to speak falls very silent, and his mind forms no more than propositions, and he ask himself: did they have a meaning?

In silence, we learn to make distinctions. those who fly silence also fly from distinctions.  They do not want to see clearly. they prefer confusion.

Slow down, befriend silence in your life.  And when the pressure of making  a living becomes greater than making a life, let silence speaks.

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Moonlights may not be

As romantic as they may seem

I couldn’t see your face

And the night gets so cold

If I ever live to see another sunrise

I would chase away the moonbeams

And hold the sun’s rays at the palm of my hand

I’ll offer it to you

So you would get warm.

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