Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Three Girls

I believe in the biblical wisdom that says, "true religion is looking after the widows and the fatherless."

Although their mother is not a widow in the real sense, her husband abandoned her with seven children to feed. Perhaps, as a matter of practical survival, she had to have another partner in life to carry on rearing her children.

Her three eldest children, Janice (14), Jo-an (13), and Joylyn (12), started working as domestic helpers since they were around 12 years old.

They used to work for my two aunts and my mother, but, as their fates may have it, they all are now in my home not as domestic helpers but as students, all currently enrolled at Efigenio-Enrica Lizares Elementary School in Talisay City in Grades 4 and 2 respectively.

They will be taking the Department of Education's PEPT acceleration program so that hopefully they will be promoted to a higher level of learning.

I believe that, more than anything else, education is still the only way out of poverty. And they being still practically children, also deserve the enjoyment of being children.

Arnis, Soon to Be the Philippines' National Sport

Arnis, according to historian Joseph L. Galleon is the Chabacano for the Spanish word arnes or armor.

Arnis is a Filipino martial arts using sticks in fighting, as against empty-handed Filipino combats such as panantukan or dumog.

This year, two bills, "
An Act Declaring Arnis as the Philippine National Sport" introduced by Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, and "An Act Declaring Arnis as the National Sport of the Philippines" introduced by Sen. Manuel "Lito" M. Lapid are being consolidated into one comprehensive bill before approval, eliminating the words kali having no no real and clearly documented or historical basis and "modern" in "modern arnis" to avoid misinformation.

Department of Education Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya cited that there is no existing official national sport in the country, and that sipa, or sepak takraw, is obviously "baseless and incorrect". Furthermore, Mr. Ed Robles of the National Commission for Culture and Arts added that the NCCA agree that Arnis should be declared as the official national sport of the Philippines.

I happened to chance upon an Arnis tournament at Robinson's Place, Bacolod and noticed how the Arnis practitioners use Filipino language and tradition in the sport.

I noticed that they used the Philippine national colors in their Arnis uniforms. The opposing teams wear blue and red uniforms called bugaw (blue) and pula (red).

So I made a little research about Arnis as I felt national pride surge in me as I witness how the children engage themselves in the soon to be the Philippines' national sport, Arnis.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

McDonald's Champion Kid

McDonald's Champion Kid had been a child's dream come true for my daughter Bea. Well, almost.

Her essay about the 9 medals she won in her intra-school competition was chosen to be one of the 20 McDonald's Champion Kid finalists from all over the country.

Five other children were also selected via raffle. What's amazing about it was that two children from La Salle Integrated School, Bacolod were chosen and they happened to be brother and sister. So that Bacolod City had the most entries in all the 25 finalists for McDonald's Champion Kid, including Bea and another essay winner who also attends school in La Salle.

The children together with one parent each were all accommodated for free at a hotel along Roxas Boulevard. Five winners were to be chosen and proclaimed as the McDonald's Champion Kids that will represent the Philippines at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

The competition was held at Le Pavilion also along Roxas Boulevard. It had two parts, the kiddie olympics wherein the children aged 7-12 years old assisted by their respective parents competed against each other for the bronze, silver and gold medals.

While the three major games were being held, the fiercer competition was held inside another room which was turned into a talk show type studio where the panel of judges -- equestrienne Mikey Cojuangco, swimmer Akiko Thompson, and the McDonald's Vice President -- looked more like talk show hosts interviewing all the 25 children one by one.

The games required not only agile children but also physically adept parents, so that in the giant obstacle race, Bea and I won the gold medal plus PhP5,000 worth of McDonald's gift certificates. In the bouncy ball contest where we had to wear afro wigs in black or clowny multi-colors and where I accidentally stumbled onto the carpeted flooring and scratched my left knee, we still won the gold medal. In the extremely difficult shoot-that-ball contest where we were tied to a bungee cord so that we could not approach the basket too near and the air bag floor was too bouncy for balance, we also tied for the gold with another parent-child pair. However, because we already won two gold medals, the silver medal was given to Bea but it sill represented first place.

As each gold represented PhP5,000 worth of gift certificates, imagine how much all in all did we win in terms of gift certificates. Bea's birthday was also near so that solved her birthday party treat.

Everybody was quite sure that Bea would be among the five McDonald's Champion Kid that will be sent to Beijing, China. Unfortunately, her name wasn't among those announced.

But still, two of the chosen McDonald's Champion Kids were from Bacolod City, and the judges noted how children from the provinces fared better in their English communication skills compared to Manila-based kids.

Bea made precious friendships with a girl from Manila who used to be a TV commercial model for Vaseline shampoo, and with a girl from Davao, a cancer survivor, who made it to the five McDonald's Champion Kids. Come to think of it, they represent the three major island groups of the Philippines -- Luzon (Manila), Visayas (Bacolod), and Mindanao (Davao).

Needless to say, Bea and I proved that we are a great team. Together, we won the three golds. And no matter what, Bea is my all-time McDonald's Champion Kid.
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