Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Of Dog Bites And A Boy Named Kelly - Chapter 1

This is a story about dogs and a little boy named Kelly.

First, the dogs.

As far as I remember, I've always had dogs for pets. My last pet dog, Jasper, passed away last February 14, Valentines Day. I used to play around with him a lot when he was younger, but when he got older, his thin coat of sharp fur caused an allergic reaction on my skin. For a dog who loves to stand on his two rear legs and wrap the other two around me, I needed to keep my distance. I generally get along very well with dogs, except for those that roam the streets and who would bark at and threaten everyone who would pass by. With these dogs around, I would call on the intercession of San Roque for protection.

Over the weekend, Sunday to be exact, I got invited to a birthday dinner for a friend. I was pleasantly surprised to see many dogs in the house. One dog in particular, a Japanese Spitz, freely mixed with the guests. We sat around in the living room, munching on finger foods and birthday noodles. I did not notice the dog beside me and had carelessly dropped my right arm by the side of the sofa chair I was sitting at. My arms must have startled the dog and he let out a sharp yelp and then snapped at my hands. In one instant, my hand became the finger food.

It was not painful at all, or maybe my hand just got numbed as blood flowed freely from the deep wound on my palm. I washed the wound with flowing water and let it bleed, alternately washing it with soap. Betadine completed the first-aid routine, and in no time at all, I was enjoying the party again. It somehow eased my apprehensions knowing that the dog had it's anti-rabies vaccination just six months before. But at the back of my mind, I knew I could never be sure. Visions of dogs roaming aimlessly, with mouth foaming and eyes bloodshot red kept my mind off the conversations. Worse, what if i get infected?

The morning after, the wound was visibly swollen. When my brother, who is a doctor, saw it he immediately sent me to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang. The doctor who examined me was relieved that the dog was vaccinated, but she was worried about the swelling. I had not started howling, but what she just said sounded like bad news for me. My worst fear came true when she started scribbling not just one, but several prescriptions. And as if adding insult to injury, I was told that the dosage is based on my weight. How cruel can this world be?

We started with two shots on the right arm for skin tests against allergies. Though the needles were relatively smaller, the serum definitely had a bite! After a few minutes, when they were sure I will have no allergic reactions, we started with the real thing.

Watching the nurse prepare the syringes, I tried convincing myself that they were not all for me. I am to receive a total of seven shots in different parts of the body in one session. Tough luck. They were all for me. All seven of them. With most of the patients being kids, I needed to put up a brave front. I can't have my screams drown out the cries of the little kids in the injection room. So for a few moments of glory, I steeled myself and prepared to take on the shots one after the other.

We started with the left arm, then on the right. By the time she went for the left leg, then the right, and then lunged into my left buttock before giving the coup de grace in the wounds on both sides of my right hand, my body had somehow responded with a rush of adrenalin to help me cope with the pain. It was all over in less than ten minutes.

But the pain was not on the needles pricking deep into my body parts. It was more of the what ifs that have been playing on my mind on that fateful night of the bite. What if I had not gone to the party? What if I had not sat down on that chair? What if I just stuck to singing out of tune on the karaoke box instead of munching on the foods on the table? What if they just kept the dogs out of the house? What if I just took antibiotics and observed the dog before going through all these needle-pricking business? So many what ifs!

But the truth is, life is simply too precious to take for granted. Boring as it may be most of the time, it still feels wonderful to wake up each morning. And so, I am not about to take any chances when it comes to making sure life will be always beautiful for me and those around me. I do not want any of my families or friends worrying about a crazy old fat man getting out of his mind. No way, I will not leave this world in such ignomous exit.

Allow me then to stop my what ifs and do my civic duty instead. Part of the treatment is educating people on the dangers of rabies infection. First, some basic facts that we need to be aware of:
  1. Rabies are not the exclusive domain of dogs. Most animals, including cats and most mammals, have rabies.
  2. Rabies are not transmitted by bites only. An animal infected with the rabies virus can also infect a person through scratches or if saliva gets in contact with an open wound.
  3. Rabies can remain dormant, or in latent state, for months or years. If you do not show signs of infection right after a suspected transmission, it does not mean you did not get the rabies.
  4. When bitten or attacked by an animal, let the wound bleed by itself. Wash the would with soap on clean running water. When the bleeding had subsided, apply Betadine on the wound and proceed to the nearest Animal Bite Center in your area. Better yet, go to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang. They have excellent facilities and great doctors and nurses.
  5. DO NOT put garlic on the wound, as old people will ask you to do. Garlic will stunt the healing of the wound.
  6. DO NOT kill the animal that bit you. If the animal does not belong to you, make sure you make arrangements for the owner to observe the animal for at least 14 days. Things that you need to look out for:
    • sudden change in behavior
    • urge to bite into anything
    • frothing in the mouth due to excess saliva
    • restlessness and agressiveness
    • running without direction
    • loss of appetite for food and water due to difficulty in swallowing
  7. If the animal shows any of the above signs, it will be better to bring it to a veterinarian to be examined. If the animal dies, DO NOT eat or bury it. Chopped off the head and secure it in a plastic container with lots of ice to prevent decomposition. Bring it right away to RITM for examination.
  8. DO NOT take chances. There is no wound or scratch that is too small for an infection. If you get bitten or scratched, proceed to the nearest Animal Bite Clinic, or to the RITM where I went to, and get your anti-rabies and anti-tetanus shots.
  9. DO NOT drink any alcohol, or take steroids and medication for malaria while getting shots for anti-rabies. Be mindful of what you feel. Report any excessive itchiness of the skin, or fevers that would not go away.
  10. DO NOT be afraid of needles - all sizes! You will deal with them all throughout the treatment sessions. As your momma would tell you - it's just like a bite from a small ant...
There you go - the ten commandments of dealing with dog bites, from someone who learned it the hard way.

Now, you may ask me, "What about the little boy named Kelly?". That would be in Chapter 2.

Meantime, stay safe and healthy. Awwwwwwoooooooooooo!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

May Palengke sa Ibabaw ng Tulay

Wala daw illegal vendors sa Pateros.

Maaliwalas daw ang mga bangketa.

Maayos na daw ang daloy ng trapiko.

Nilagyan pa ng MMDA ng bakod.

May nakapaskil pang bababala na bawal ang vendors.

Ang tao daw ay dapat maglakad sa bangketa.

Paano? Tatapakan ang mga gulay?

Lilipad? Di naman kasi pwedeng lumangoy sa tuyong ilog.

Kaya ang mga tao sa kalye namimili at naglalakad.

Ang mga jeep at FX sa ibabaw ng tulay nagbababa at nagsasakay.

Pati cutting trip duon ginagawa.

Lahat na yata ng kabalbalan sa ibabaw ng tulay ginagawa.

Di kaya dapat si Mayor sa ibababaw na rin ng tulay mag-opisina?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thank You Mayor Medina!

The news article today, 21 April 2008, in the Metro Section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer is a most welcome respite in this hot summer season. Mayor Medina made the right step in bringing into national attention the plight of the Pateros River. The death of this river will bring about disastrous effects on Pateros, especially because we are a low-lying area that is prone to flooding. This early, we can already see and feel the ill-effects of the abuse people have heaped on this once-useful river.

The article articulated the need for a concerted action to save the river, through the Pateros River Basin Organization. It re-affirmed the need for the support of the cities of Pasig, Taguig and Makati. I hope we can intensify this information campaign, as bringing this issue to national attention is an effective way to put subtle pressure on our bigger neighbors to help in the clean-up and restoration of our river. After all, they all contributed significantly on the deterioration of this vital waterway.

Let us all support this endeavor. Our town deserves no less.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Awit Para sa mga Mamamalakaya

Tinig ng dagat ay awit
haplos ng alon ay gabay.
Saan nga ba patutungo
yaring paglalakbay sa buhay?

Malalayong lupain ay tinanaw
kapalaran sa kanila ay isinugal.
Bakit ang sariling dalampasigan
ay naging maramot sa kasaganahan?

Sa kalawakan ng karagatan
lambat ay tila walang katuturan.
Paano nga bang makikibahagi
sa yaman kundi sa pagpupunyagi?

Malupit na unos ay di alintana
sa Poong Maykapal ay manalig.
Dito sa ating pamamalakaya
tanging sandigan ay pananampalataya.

Sa kadiliman ng kalawakan
mga bituin tila nagmamatyag,
umagang kay gandang bukang-liwayway
sa dalampasigan doon ay naghihintay.

Sulong mga mamamalakaya!
Kirot ng braso’y di alintana
ang paglalayag sa karagatan
hatid ay mithing kasaganahan.

Ang tula o awit na ito ay aking nilikha bunsod ng ala-ala ng ilang mga kaibigan at kaanak na ngayon ay namamalakaya sa ibang bansa. Batid kong di nila nilisan ang ating bayan upang ito'y takasan at tuluyan ng talikuran. Mapanglaw at makirot sa damdamin ang mga unang araw at gabi sa ibang bayan. May mga pagkakataon na sasagi sa isipang mas mainam pa na talikuran na lamang ang mga pangarap at pangangailangan at magbalik sa piling ng mga minamahal.

Mapalad ako na magkaroon ng pagkakataon na makapagtampisaw sa malinis na ilog ng Pateros nuong aking kamusmusan. Kasama ng aking dalawang kapatid na babae, madalas kaming dumalaw sa bahay ni Ti' Leony sa Aguho, sa may pangpang ng ilog. Duon ay naliligo kami at naglalaro. Kung minsan ay lulan ng bangka, binabaybay namin ang kahabaan ng malinis at malawak na ilog. Ang dako ng Fort Bonifacio ay isang malawak na bukid, di gaya ngayon na siksik ng kabahayan at nagtatayugang mga gusali. Ang dako naman ng Pateros ay may mga itikan at munting taniman ng gulay. Sa isang mababaw na bahagi ay maaaninag ang mga isdang kumpol-kumpol. Malinis, masagana at kaaya-aya ang ilog.

Ngunit sa paglipas ng panahon ay nagbago ang lahat. Masikip, marumi at sa ibang bahagi ay tuyo na ang ilog. Wala na ang mga isda, at wala na rin ang mga itik. Wala ng namamangka, bagkus ang ilog ay maaari ng lakaran. Sa halip na tubig, basura ang makikita sa ilog. Saan pa ba tutungo ang mamamalakaya? Katulad nila, ang mga mamamayan ay sa ibang dako na sumusulyap ng pag-asa. Nililisan ang ating munting bayan upang hanapin ang kapalaran sa ibang karagatan. Kasama ng milyong-milyong Pilipino, ang mga taga Pateros ay sumubok ng kanilang kapalaran sa lahat ng sulok ng daigdig. Tulad ng ating ilog, ang ating bayan, ang ating bansa, ay unti-unting natutuyo, dumurumi at namamatay dahil sa ating kapabayaan. Sana, ang mga naiwan ay magpursiging maibalik ang buhay at sigla, at sa pagbabalik ng mga kababayan ay di na sila makasumpong muli ng dahilan upang lumisan at mangulila sa ibang karagatan.

Naging maramot ba ang sariling bayan? O tayo ba'y nagpabaya sa ating kinabukasan?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Abnoy! Abnoy!

Smells like hell, tastes like heaven!

Nope, I am not referring to Davao's famous Durian. A true son of Pateros will only have one thing in mind when you say these words - ABNOY!

If balut is the "famous" delicacy of Pateros, abnoy may lay claim of being the "infamous" counterpart. If the uninitiated finds eating duck embryo revolting, wait till they hear what we do with rotten duck eggs.

Rotten. That's what it is. Abnoy is made from fertilized duck eggs that did not fully develop. As it begins to rot from the inside, it emits an odor most foul. But trust the people of Pateros to come up with the most fascinating foods even out of rotten eggs. Thus was born the bibingkang abnoy.

So, if you are ready for a Fear Factor experience, head for Pateros and get yourself raw abnoy eggs from any of the friendly balutans in our town. Once safely home, start your gastronomic adventure. Here's my favorite recipe for bibingkang abnoy:

Bibingkang Abnoy

What you will need:
  • abnoy eggs from Pateros
  • minced onion
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped kimchay
  • ground pepper
  • rock salt
  • banana leaves - optional
How to prepare:
  1. Break the eggs and pour contents on a bowl. Be warned that the eggs will smell - and smell really bad. Don't say I didn't warn you on this.
  2. After you have recovered from the initial shock, or if your nose had adjusted to the pungent smell (whichever comes first), beat the eggs as you would for an omelet.
  3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Set aside.
  4. Heat an omelet pan lined with banana leaves wide enough to spread over the cooking area. Pour cooking oil and let stand for a few seconds, or until hot enough.
  5. Pour the mixture into the pan, over the banana leaf until about 1/4 inches thick. Let stand under moderate heat until the top portion is slightly cooked, then flip over. Let stand until both sides are brownish.
  6. Poke with a fork to check if the inside is already cooked.
  7. Take out from the pan and serve warm, with spicy vinegar on the side. Great with steamed rice or as bar chow. Some people from Pateros would prefer it with bahaw na kanin, or cold rice from yesterday.
  8. A variation on cooking the abnoy mixture would be to steam it as you would a puto or siopao. Still another delicious way is to go unconventional by baking it in a traditional bibingka table top clay oven, with embers from charcoals on both the bottom and top sides. Now, think twice before trying this outside of the Philippines (that is, if you can find a stateside abnoy), as your exotic-food-challenged neighbors could find its differently abled aroma quite offensive. Too bad there's no other way to eat it other than straight from the pan.
And Harry Connick thinks eating balut is weird?

* Photo of bibingkang abnoy courtesy of lafang-list.bluechronicles.net, while that of slices being sold in Pateros is from the collection of Elmer Nocheseda.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Indak para kay Sta. Marta!

Mula nang aking nakamulatan, ang mga mamamayan ng Pateros, pati na ng mga karatig-bayan at kahit ng malalayong lugar tulad ng Laguna, Rizal, Quezon at Bulacan, ay buong pananabik na hinihintay ang ikalawang araw ng Linggo tuwing buwan ng Pebrero. Sa araw na ito ay ipinagdiriwang ang kapistahan ni Santa Martha, pintakasi ng mga ina at ng mga maybahay. At sa mga deboto nya sa Pilipinas lalo na sa bayan ng Pateros, siya ang tagapangalaga at tagapagtanggol ng mga mag-iitik at magbabalut.

Hindi na siguro malalaman pa kung paano at kailan nangyari na ang pintakasi ng barrio ng Aguho ay siyang ipinagdiriwang ng buong bayan ng Pateros gayung ang parokya ay nasa pangangalaga ni San Roque. Marahil siguro dahil sa ang pag-iitik at pagbabalot ay di lamang sa Aguho ginagawa. Marahil ay dahil sa mas makulay ang mga alamat at kuwento ng himala na pumapaligid kay Santa Martha, at mas masaya ang pagdiriwang ng kanyang kapistahan kung ihahambing sa taimtim na prusisyon para kay San Roque. Kung anut-ano man ang dahilan, di maikakaila na napamahal na si Santa Marta sa mga taga-Pateros, at ang kanyang kapistahan ay naging masayang bahagi na ng ating kasaysayan bilang isang bayan. Sa mahabang panahon, ang Pateros ay naging tanyag ng dahil sa tatlong bagay – ang balut, ang tsinelas na alfombra at ang pista ni Santa Marta.

Ngunit sa pagdaan ng panahon, nagbago ang anyo ng bayan ng Pateros. Dumami at lumaki ang mga gusali, naglipana ang mga sasakyan at nagmistulang kumipot ang mga lansangan bagaman ang karamihan sa mga ito ay niluwagan pa man din. Dumagsa ang mga tao galing sa ibat-ibang lugar. Sa kabila ng mga pagbabagong ito, ang Pateros ay nagsumikap na mapanatili ang kanyang mga nakagisnang tradisyon. Ngunit sadyang mapanukso ang pagkakataon, at ang mga salin-lahi ay unti-unti ng nakalimot sa nakaraan. Kasabay ng pagsikil sa daloy ng tubig at tuluyang pagkamatay ng ilog ng Pateros, ay unti-unti na ring naglaho ang mga nakagisnang tradisyon – mga tradisyong nagbigay ng karakter sa ating bayan at kulay sa ating kalinangan.

Marami ang nagsikap na sa kabila ng nakatambak na basura at ng maitim at mabahong tubig, ay maisakatuparan pa rin ang pagoda sa ilog. Naaalala ko pa ang di mabilang na pagtatangka na hukayin muli at palalimin ang ilog, ang paghawan sa mga mapanupil na water lilies upang mairaos ang pagoda. Sa huli ay wala ring nangyari, dahil na rin sa ningas-kugon na pagkilos ng pamahalaan at ang pagwawalang bahala ng mga mamayan. Pinatay natin ang ilog na nagbigay kabuhayan sa ating mga ninuno at nagbigay ng malaking katanyagan sa ating munting bayan.

Dahil na rin sa pagsisikap ng simbahan na maituwid ang sa palagay nila ay di angkop na pagdiriwang ng kapistahan ng bayan, ilang kura-paroko at mga pinunong layko na ang nagtangkang baguhin ang paraan ng pagdiriwang. Ngunit ang lahat ng mga pagtatangkang maituwid ang pamamaraan ng pagdiriwang ay nauwi lamang sa pagkalito at pagkakanya-kanya ng mga barrio sa kanilang pagdiriwang ng pista. Nakalulungkot mang isipin na sa halip na ang mga pagbabagong hinangad ay magbunga ng kaayusan at pagkakaisa, ito ay nauwi sa di pagkakasundo at pagkalimot sa ating mga tradisyong kinamulatan.

Nuong Sabado, ika-9 ng Pebrero 2008, ay muling binuhay ng gating mga pinuno ang tradisyon ng pagoda. Ngunit dahil sa ang ilog ay di na dinadaluyan ng tubig, ang pagoda ay idinaos sa lansangan. Sa halip na mga bankang naglalayag sa ilog Pateros, mga sasakyang pinalamutian na animo’y magagarang bangka ang pumalaot sa mga pangunahing lansangan ng Pateros. Di iilan ang natuwa sa pangyayaring ito, at kitang-kita sa mga nanood ang kaligayahan sa nasaksihang kakaibang parada. At lalo akong nasiyahan ng bago mag-umpisa ang Pandangguhan nung gabi ring iyon ay inihayag ang pagkakatatag ng Pateros River Basin Organization. Ayon sa pahayag, ang samahang ito ay magbubuklod sa ibat-ibang sektor ng bayan upang bumalangkas ng mga palatuntunang naglalayon na buhayin muli ang ilog ng Pateros.

Dapat papurihan ang mga namuno sa hakbangin na ito, sapagkat ito ay magandang panimula upang maisaayos ang ating bayan. Ang ilog ng Pateros ay simbolo ng ating bayan, ang nagbigay ng kabuhayan sa kanyang mga mamamayan at nagsilang at nagkanlong sa kanyang mayamang kultura at tradisyon. Ang muli nitong pagkabuhay ay magsisilbing inspirasyon at hudyat tungo sa magandang pagbabago sa ating bayan. Sa pag-agos muli ng tubig sa ating ilog ay babangon muli ang Pateros. Dahil sa pangyayaring ito ay nagkaroon ng mas malalim na kahulugan ang pagdiriwang ang nakaraang pista. Naniniwala ako na sa pagtutulungan ng pamahalaan, ng simbahan at ng mga mamamayan, matutunghayan muli ang pagoda sa ilog sa darating na panahon.

Sayang nga lamang at nuong nagpirmahan ay hindi naihayag ang kabuuan ng Memorandum of Agreement para sa Pateros River Basin Organization. Sana ay magkaroon tayo ng pagkakataon na makakuha ng sipi ng kasunduan upang mailahatla dito. Mabuting ang kaalaman tungkol sa palatuntunang ito ay maipamahagi sa nakararami upang mahimok ang lahat na aktibong makilahok sa pamamagitan ng kanya-kanyang paraan. Ang anumang hakbangin na gagawin ay kailangan ng pakikilahok ng mga karatig bayan ng Pasig, Taguig at lalo ng Makati. Ang pagdami ng tao at kabahayan sa pangpanging sakop ng Makati, at ang pagtatayo ng talipapa sa may tulay ng Pateros ay isang malaking kadahilanan sa pagkamatay ng ating ilog. Marapat lamang na ang pamunuan ng Makati ay makilahok sa muling pagbuhay nito. Kung hindi sila makikipagtulungan ay tiyak na maaantala ang muling pagsasaayos ng ilog.

Bilang mga mamamayang nagmamalasakit sa bayan, katungkulan nating makibahagi sa anumang paraan sa pagtataguyod ng magandang hangarin ng bagong samahang ito. Bilang mapanuring tagapagmasid sa mga nangyayari, katungkulan din nating suriing mabuti ang palatuntunan at ihayag ang anumang mga katanungan at agam-agam. Sana nga ay ito na ang simula ng pagtutulungan ng lahat ng kinauukulan tungo sa maayos, malinis at maunlad na bayan ng Pateros.

* You-Tube video of Pandango ni Sta Marta is from the post of Elmer Nocheseda, while that of the Pagoda sa Daan is from the post of Charmaine Camilo.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Filipino Holocaust

It is pathetic that a lot of people would rather let Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cabal of tradpols continue their merry plunder of this nation for the reason that "eh sino naman ang papalit?" It is the same reason used by those who kill themselves - that the future does not hold anything for them anymore. But do we really know what the future holds for us? Kick out GMA and her gang of thieves now and we can have either a better government or another bad one, even worse. But at least we have a 50-50 chance of getting a good government. Let her continue her remorseless and guiltless reign of plunder and Bangladesh will be far better off than us by the time they are through raiding our national coffers. Give her until 2010 and she can use all the resources of government and the military to make sure the next regime will be friendly to her. That is, if she will not find a way to perpetuate herself in power. She did it in 2004, what's stopping her from doing it again in 2010?

Even more pathetic are government officials and other sycophants daring critics of the wrongdoings of this administration to go to court and show proof. My foot! Where do they expect us to go to? To the Ombudsman who is the classmate and good friend of the First Gentleman? To the Department of (in)Justice whose Secretary is the president of the GMA For President Forever Movement? Or to the Supreme Court whose majority members do not mind being the laughing stock of the entire legal profession just so they can please the president who appointed them? So pray tell me, where do we run to for succor? And what evidence are we talking about here? If you are stealing US$130 million from the government, will you knowingly leave evidences on your trail? If I planned for months to murder someone and finally got to do it, will I walk around with the death weapon on my hand? Will I leave my fingerprints on the crime scene? These people think we Filipinos are a bunch of nincompoops who will take their web of lies and deceit line, hook and sinker. I beg to disagree!

GMA and her accomplices may be having their cake and eating it too as of now. But they will not escape the judgment of history. Just as they are robbing the next generation of their future, the next generation of their children and their children's children will bear the memory of their misdeeds like the mark of Cain on their foreheads. The dreaded Holocaust had three major players - the persecuted Jews, the murderous Nazis, and those who saw nothing wrong with what the Nazis were doing and did nothing to stop the genocide. The Jews stood their ground, kept their faith and fought to the very end. The rape of our treasury, the pillage of our future and the corruption of our government institutions is our Filipino Holocaust. Our dignity as a people and the future of our country are being systematically and completely destroyed by the very people who are supposed to protect them. The choice is ours - we can be the defiant Jews, or the murderous and remorseless Nazis or apathetic fence-sitters. What role are we playing in this carnage?