We celebrated Earth Hour in three different locations in the past three years. In all cases, we witnessed the indifference of neighbors in our immediate vicinity. I actually started writing this post in the wee hours of the morning after the event, but decided not to proceed to give some more thoughts about the disappointment the kids, Mama Sez and I felt in the recent Earth Hour.

Having known that the Philippines was number one in the past two years in terms of participation in this world event also contributed to the disappointment. Was it for real? Was it just for PR, full of noise but no substance?

When one reads carefully the claims of "resounding success", the figures actually reflect what we've been observing in the past three Earth Hour events. The estimates of at least 15 million Filipinos participating is about 15-17% of the population and that would mean only 1 out of 6 Filipinos. In 2010, we observed that ours was the only unit in a six-door apartment complex that switched the lights off. My estimate would be lower this year in our current location.

I guess we were hoping for wider participation in our own neighborhood and the high expectation turned into disappointment. My brother-in-law told us that night that Alabang households have been participating well in the past years. There might be a wide range of values in terms of percentage or degree of participation with certain communities still not seeing the impact their involvement would have in their own lives now and in the future.

It just means that we have so much to do to improve the present numbers and actually transform communities into aware and involved citizenry ready to contribute beyond the sixty minutes per year for our planet. We must realize that we are all in this together ...and together we can make it happen.

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Our support is beyond Earth Hour

Posted by Papa Sez | Friday, March 25, 2011

Our family has been supporting Earth Hour for the past two years. This year, it is no different and we're glad that the campaign is moving beyond the one hour a year of communal action for our planet.

With human population hitting the 7 Billion mark by the end of 2011, we should all look into what each one of us can do beyond the Earth Hour tonight (8:30 to 9:30PM when we all refrain from using electricity), and campaign for better daily practices keeping in mind our individual impact on the planet.

We will be writing about some ideas on how we can contribute beyond the one hour tonight. So please keep posted.

For now, spread the word and share this post to your friends so more people can get involved. Together we can make our planet a better and safer place to live in for all of us and our children.

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Twelve Years and Counting

Posted by Mama Sez | Thursday, March 24, 2011

Twelve Years and Counting

A poem I wrote for Papa Sez on our wedding anniversary:

Photo courtesy of Panos Ipeirotis

I am so lucky I found you,
You taught me things I never knew.
You make me laugh, you make me cry
You cheer me up, Oh yes you try.

We almost missed saying “I do,”
But angels whispered we are meant to…
Now, it’s been twelve years and counting
We are happy and rejoicing.

Have you noticed in the past twelve years?
Together we conquered all our fears.
‘Coz we believed there’s nothing we can’t do,
If you’re with me and I’m with you.

Twelve colorful years and counting,
Precious moments swiftly passing.
Sweet memories and lessons learned,
For every page of life we turned.

Our blessings we selflessly share
With whomever we meet along the way.
May he be bum or gem in street,
We all journey with the same two feet.

Twelve years of marriage, four kids in carriage,
With happy hearts we go on with the voyage.
Until the day we park our cart,
When death will tear our lives apart.

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That day, he fetched me earlier than he was supposed to and that left me scampering to get myself ready. We were supposed to visit a farm in the next town for a research project, passing through Mt. Makiling via the Jamboree road but we suddenly got off track as he drove the car pass through a secluded road.

As he noticed the questioning look in my eyes he explained that he is looking for a good spot to view the Laguna Lake in that part of the mountain. He then pulled out a ring from the pocket of his jacket and popped the big question, which he said took him hours (holding the ring in bed) to figure out. Well, actually he admitted that even at that moment, he had no clear strategy except to let his thoughts become words.

He phrased his question like this, “Dear, would you like to be the mother of my kids? I think it’s time we build our family.”

He placed the ring on my finger…there was no resistance on my part but still no answer. Caught unprepared, I didn’t know how to respond appropriately. The first thing that came out was “Dear, I have no Christmas gift for you yet” remembering that it was a day before Christmas.

“If you’ll tell me you are willing to be the mother of my children and to grow old with me, you have given me the best Christmas gift ever”, he said.

Our eldest child, now 11 years old, viewing Laguna Lake 12 years after the proposal.

That was the moment I said YES. However, I got too excited and failed to ask how many kids does he want to have.

It was a few weeks later that he said he wanted a big family with a DOZEN KIDS. Oh-oh, can I take back my YES answer? Just kidding, I didn’t even think of that.

Papa Sez is such a sensible person and we easily agreed that we will let the family grow as big as we can, ensuring that each and every child is given the emotional and financial support they need to be happy and become the best that they can be.

In a few days it will be our 12th wedding anniversary. Papa Sez and I were in a sentimental mood as we recounted how our paths crossed and how we ended up taking this journey together.

I thanked him for the ‘dozen happiness- isang dosenang saya’ and he jokingly asked what that means because we have only been blessed with four kids and not 12. I am referring to the 12 years of being together as a couple…the 12 years of happiness. The day we decided to become husband and wife, we were ready to become parents as well, and now we savor the flavors of this happy parenting journey.

“I look forward to several dozen more happy years with you Papa Sez... ‘til death do we part”.

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"Ching Chong means I Love You"

Posted by Papa Sez | Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yes, you read it right, Ching Chong means I love you. No, it's neither Chinese, Japanese nor Filipino. It's a new "Asian phrase" that came to be as an offshoot of the now infamous youtube rant of UCLA student Alexandra Wallace against Asians. As a politically correct, clever and creative response to her ignorance and bigotry, Jimmy Wong made the following video and created what could be the new Asian slang that lumped together all languages in Asia to one that is seen in the eyes of unfortunate human beings like Alexandra.

The nice melody and catchy lyrics, particularly the phrases directly quoted from Alexandra "Ching Chong, ling long, ting tong" gamely translated into English by Jimmy, easily became the LSS since yesterday. Since then, Mama Sez and I, our kids, especially our youngest Nadine, and even the extended family have used "Ching Chong" as a code to say "I love you". Not bad for a term meant to be derogatory became a term for endearment. Now that's positively being positive in a world still full of intolerance and bigotry.

I'd say let's continue to use Ching Chong as a reminder of how a person can be so wrapped-up with oneself and forgets to step into the shoes of others. Each one of us can be as guilty if hatred and jealousy overpower the values of tolerance and empathy. This simple phrase, Ching Chong, can say it all.

Note: read more about super moon, tsunamis and bigotry in this WASPS.

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That milestone is seven-eleven, 7 billion people by the end of 2011. National Geographic is doing a special series about this milestone within the year starting with the video below to spark interest on the topic on global population.

Although this almost 3-minute video began by getting one to imagine how big a quantity 7 billion is and followed by fascinating statistics on how fast we got to this number that will eventually reach 9 billion by 2045, the tone became less scary and more reassuring at about 60% through the video when it shifted to a discussion on balance.

Screenshot from the National Geographic video below.
The focus on balance identifies the lopsided usage of earth's resources as a key problem as the required space for 7 billion human beings is obviously not that much. In the end, the video also celebrates diversity and encourages the 7 billion people to think about the implications of these numbers.

An in-depth report on population 7 billion is also featured in the National Geographic website. It tries to answer the question "Can the planet take the strain?" by reviewing the arguments in the age-old population debate. I enjoin you to watch the video below and check out the special series.

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While the internet and text messaging are powerful tools to spread news, information and ideas as well as a means to quickly organize and move people to action, irresponsible use of these tools can also leads to confusion, panic and unwarranted anxiety.

The recent tragedy in Japan, brought about by a series of earthquakes, followed by tsunamis, and then the partial nuclear meltdown in Fukushima brought the world together in prayers and cooperation in large part because of the availability of information in the traditional media and the internet.

Map Of Japan showing evacuation zone around Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (courtesy of CBS News).
However, the internet and cell phone was also used around noon today to spread unverified information about "radiation leaks from Fukushima hitting the Philippines at 4pm, with recommendation to stay indoors and to swab the neck (thyroid) area with betadine". Well meaning people forwarded the message in twitter, facebook, email and SMS to their families and friends so as to help them prepare for the impending danger.

This of course pushed Mama Sez and me into action. We immediately searched the internet for updates and specifically looked for verification from major news network and government sources worldwide, the only ones we thought who'd be responsible enough to know and verify information before posting anything online. It turned out that the cited source, BBC News, has not posted any updates to indicate that radiation would reach the Philippines. We also used University and research organization websites to learn basic information about nuclear radiation leaks, precautions and handling of emergency situations. We eventually settled down about an hour later when we made judgment that the forwarded information was false. Our friend also later retracted the warning with a follow-up message saying that it is NOT true.

I guess the only way to guard against misinformation, deliberate or not, is to stay calm and immediately try to verify before forwarding the message. Being able to use and send information over the internet and/or via cell phone text messaging is POWER to influence and move other people to action, and wielding power requires all of us to be responsible as well.

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Mama Sez and I have made an important move over the weekend.  You might have noticed the changes in this blog on Sunday after modifications in Insect Experts were in place.  I was on a roll last weekend...making much website-related improvements to our two main blogs.  The changes in the theme and layout are minor, or can even be considered merely cosmetic, compared to the change in blog title or name, i.e. from Parenting Journey to Happy Parenting Journey.

Our previous banner/header reflecting the original blog title "Parenting Journey".
The new blog title or name is part of a series of actions that we're going to take to concentrate our blogging efforts.  The decision to consolidate our blogs was reached a few months back.  However, the first concrete step happened just a couple of weeks ago about the same time this apology was posted over at Fatherhood Adventures.

What's with "Happy Parenting Journey"?

In our analyses leading up to the decision to consolidate our many blogs, we uncovered a trend, i.e. our blogs have revolved around three main topics or niches: HAPPINESS, PARENTING and TRAVEL.

If you've been following all our blogging efforts in the past year or so, having so many blogs have resulted in infrequent and inconsistent postings, which was more manifest in our other blogs: Fatherhood Adventures, Island Travel, WannaBeHappyNow and all its sub-blogs (Daily Happiness Tips, Happy Quotes Happy Images, Daily Laughs and Daily Thank You). In short, we were spreading ourselves too thinly.

Parenting Journey has been the most consistent, along with our Hubpages hubs by Mama Sez and Papa Sez, in generating most of our traffic, readership and online income than the rest of our other blogs combined. In fact, Parenting Journey has maintained its page rank and improved its number of subscribers in recent months.

So after 16 months of blogging, Parenting Journey turns into Happy Parenting Journey to accommodate the three niches or topics we love to write about.  What started as just a creative outlet that launched the online persona named "Mama Sez" has become the flagship blog that will encompass happiness topics, parenting issues, travel experiences and personal reflections.

Since we've seen the value of retaining our old posts in our other blogs, we will soon inform our readers, visitors and subscribers in those blogs that postings about happiness, fatherhood and travel will be continued in this blog instead.  Invitation to visit, follow and subscribe to Happy Parenting Journey will also be sent out in the next few weeks.

Note: the URL http://www.parents-journey.blogspot.com will be retained for Happy Parenting Journey.

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While I have already made a recommendation on which broadband internet service provider to subscribe to (with some caveats, of course) based on our experience and feedback of our readers in the past months, there's just so much to wish for in the current state of internet access in the Philippines.

Our internet access speed; test taken 1 March 2011
I did mention in that article that our current access speed is satisfactory to meet our needs as bloggers (no one in the family is an online gamer and we're not into so much downloads).  Or is it me merely lowering my expectations knowing that there are other parameters that I should also be concern about, such as reliability of connection and cost of service?  Yes, it most likely is an adjustment of my standards to what is achievable for now.

The above data of our internet access speed was taken from speedtest.net.  In the same site, rankings of download and upload speeds by continent and by country are also available.  The Philippines in the screenshot below with 1.5 mbps download speed is in the 141st place, which puts us within the bottom quartile (25%) of the 186 total countries in the list.
Global ranking of download and upload speeds courtesy of speedtest.net (click table to enlarge).
This despite having an estimated 30 million Filipinos online, because 69% of these actually use internet cafes for access (according to Yahoo-Nielsen Net Index 2010).  Therefore, small internet cafes will continue to be an important contributor to economic growth of the country if access at home, in school or office does not improve significantly soon.  It's been shown in a World Bank study that a 10% increase in broadband penetration accelerates growth for developing countries by 1.38%.  This is an illustration of how access to information can boost economic activity. Therefore, making the internet accessible to many, if not all, becomes the new equalizer. 

But internet cafes are often clustered in urban centers.  So how about populations in more remote areas?  As usual, their prospects for economic growth will have to wait.

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Related Posts with Thumbnails

About Us (circa 2009)

Our journey led us to this place. A little more than 10 years ago we began our journey as husband and wife. Three years later, we found ourselves with two bundles of joy- a daughter and then a son. They're the children we've dreamed of having.

About five years since the birth of our son, an unexpected gift came- a younger brother to our school-age kids. And soon enough, a baby girl arrived to round the family membership.

Brave was a term used by a friend to describe us. Challenging... and loving it -- yeah, this journey is not for the faint of heart.