Our New Boss in the House



           Ellie Nicole was born on July 30, 2008.  The “Ellie” part was mine, and “Nicole” was Leizl’s choice.  It made for a beautiful combination, methinks.   Ellie comes from the Greek word for light, and Nicole means victory.   In fact, the name Ellie is taken from the character Ellie Arroway, who is the main protagonist in Carl Sagan’s novel, “Contact”.  In that novel, Ellie is a young and brilliant astronomer, who endures scorn and evils of superstition and fundamentalism, in her lifelong quest for truth.  Thus, if I am to ascribe some meaning, or at least hope that the name would, even to a narrow extent, hold sway her take on life; it is that I wanted her to find light in truth and reason, and feel sweet victory in their discovery. 

Last Wednesday was, surprisingly, tense-filled. The unexpected happened:  Leizl was not going to have a normal delivery but instead she was going to be wheeled for an emergency C-Section.  The reason:  there was a prolapse of the umbilical cord, meaning, the baby’s umbilical cord was pushed ahead of the baby’s head.  It happened when the water broke and the cord was carried along by the gush of water.  The danger lies when the fetus squashes the cord and cut of the oxygen supply.  (By the way, I tried to grasp as much medical terms as I could; becoming a doctor had always been my childhood dream, for which reason, I am easily prone to surmise that I would have been a better doctor than I am a lawyer.)

Actually, that might not be the entire reason, after all.   An attempt, I was told, was still made for a normal delivery but, surprise, surprise… the baby’s hand was clutching the cord and would not let go.  We joked that the baby was exercising full, arrant authority.

Straight from the operating room, Doc Chona Tremedal called me thru her cellphone and—in a very reassuring voice—told me the baby was fine, and Leizl was okay.  I heaved a sigh of relief.  When I got the chance to personally meet with the doctor, she came out with a big smile and a shaking head, and teased, “’Lan, your daughter’s proved she’s the boss in there.”

Well, if that’s the case, then I’m totally at her service.  Our new little pretty little boss.

(We are deeply indebted to Dr. Chona Tremedal and her husband, Jay, who performed the anesthesia, and to Doc Glinda del Prado who made sure Ellie Nicole was okay.  I’m breaking my head thinking how we’re going to pay you back, guys. J )


Is There Life on Other Planets?


 Last Sunday, May 25, 2008, the Phoenix cleaved through the Martian atmosphere and landed successfully on the planet’s northern polar region.  In what was obviously a very historic moment, the lander sent back crisp, clear pictures of the region’s polygon-cracked terrain.  It sent shivers down my spine.

             The Phoenix Mars lander is a robot spacecraft that was launched on August 4, 2007, which contains instruments that will search “for environments suitable for microbial life on Mars, and to research the history of water there.”   In short, it is an attempt to search for life outside Earth.  Mars is the likely first stop.

The red planet has fascinated me, as it has to a lot of inquiring minds, ever since I was gifted by my mother with an astronomy book entitled “Secrets of Space” when I was about nine or ten years old.  The book abruptly opened my mind to the unlimited wonders and possibilities that the universe, in all its greatness, could bring.  Which brought out the big question, the possibility; as what has been, in the last century down to the present, the subject of countless films, books, articles, and all forms of literatures.

             I never forget the words of Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster, in the epilogue of the movie adaptation of Carl Sagan’s “Contact”—when she talked to a group of children about the SETI project and the infinite vastness of space:   “So if it’s just us… seems like an awful waste of space, right?”

             So the questions “Are we alone?” or “Is there life out there?” are becoming more and more familiarly conventional questions in this age of rapidly increasing, and enlightening, scientific discoveries; we’ve definitely come a long way from the time Galileo was disgraced by the Church for claiming that the Earth is not the center of the universe.            

             How big really is the universe?  You’d probably say, it’s really, really big.  But really, how big?
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News of the brutal killing hit me like a ton of bricks.   

A lawyer was murdered in broad daylight.  He died of multiple gunshot wounds.  He was driving his pick-up truck alone, and while stopping at an intersection, he was gunned down by a stranger who, in all brazenness, did not even cover his face.   I fear such ruthless murder reduces to a mere illusion the protective notion that lawyers are mere advocates, that they are only the mouthpieces of clients.  I now dread the thought of people instinctively looking at a lawyer as complicit with whatever transgression his client is perceived to have committed.  I don’t find any more humor in that Shakespearean line about killing all the lawyers.           

            The lawyer was Richard William Sison. Continue reading


When I got home this evening, my mother—who is recently undergoing chemotherapy treatment—startled me when she confessed that earlier, she just couldn’t keep herself from crying.   I thought, no, she’d been in such high spirits lately and had faced this recent ordeal with so much strength and positivity—I was fairly certain it had to be something else.  It certainly was. 


The reason for her tears was the heartbreaking news she just saw on TV—about an absolutely senseless and tragic death of a student nurse, who was gunned down by a robber—for a reason most dizzyingly unwarranted, irrational, and unpardonable—a cellular phone.  Continue reading

The Runaway Groom

 The groom arrived at the church thirty minutes late, somber and teary eyed.  His mother had to rush out to help him wear his barong tagalog.   This must have piqued the priest so much that he started the ceremony railing at the vexatious delay.  But the bride was very radiant in her wedding gown, and a smile exposing genuine exuberance as she walked down the aisle.  Earlier, she had gone through such tedious preparation, waking up early, doing last minute instructions, make-up, and getting dressed.  Everything’s set and everything’s done: from getting the marriage license, the wedding entourage, invitations, photographer, video, bridal car, booking a restaurant, hotel, and all other wedding essentials.  This moment had got to be the joyous culmination.


While the wedding ceremony was progressing, the groom was fidgety and kept peeking at his cellphone.  The time came for the exchange of vows, the highlight of this age-old ritual—the proclamation of their lifetime commitment to each other.  The priest proceeded to ask the groom, in customary phrasing, if he will take the bride to be his wife. Just right before the groom could answer; a loud cry reverberated across the church hall: “No, stop the wedding!”, and the groom’s name being called twice.  This came from a woman who just went in.


The groom turned, and with no hint of reluctance, went straight to the woman and embraced her.  They darted out of the church, leaving everybody stunned, and the bride, shocked and horrified.

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