We are nurses, we are not less.

Just in case the news skipped your notice Mr. President, thousands of our skilled Filipino nurses are now leaving the country not because they want to touch the snow in London, not because they want to visit Santorini in Greece, not because they want to date a handsome and hunky Caucasian or a rich Arab woman, but because our system forced them to do so.  Our callous disregard to their rights made them to believe that they are second-class healthcare workers. Verily, our nurses suffer the lowest possible indecency a country can inflict to its professional workers. And they have valid license from the Professional Regulation Commission. They are required to have an accumulated CPD units, but when our nurses require the same good treatment from this government, what do they get? — Nothing!

Again, I’m sorry to speak about this, but I can’t sleep seeing my fellow nurses suffer. I am not working in a hospital but my heart is still beating for my profession. My heart is still beating for the Nightingale in white, in blue and in scrubs. Allow me to speak for them.

I don’t blame you Mr. President that you are currently focusing on “War on Drugs”, but as a form of request, can we give equal attention to those who fight alongside with you inside the hospitals, the fences of communities, penal institutions and healthcare centers?

How can we possibly heal the country if our healers are wounded themselves?

How can we miraculously rehabilitate this archipelago if our nurses are now starting to fly abroad?

Currently, I’m envious about the attention you give to “Jeepney Modernization”. In my mind, “lucky are the jeepneys, for they will be modernized soon”, but pain are for our poor nurses who will still be living and working in areas where modernization is not part of the plan.

Make no mistake Mr. President, our nurses are still living with healthcare technology which placed themselves in the brick of danger.  These are competent and intelligent Filipinos who passed the board exams.  In fact, we cannot even provide them with  adequate soap and alcohol for their hand sanitation, N92 masks for personal protection, and heavens sake, we don’t pay them with dignity.

Before it’s too late Mr. President, I would like to invite your attention to this maladies enveloping our Filipino nurses. They deserve to experience the “change” that you promised during the election season. Or should I treat this as another form of fake news?

#Mutya

 

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LGBTs are humans too, allow them to marry – Mutya

I believe that that the LGBT community should be given the legal right to marry.  Same-sex marriage is a right.

The right to personal choice is inherent in every person’s autonomy. If a man and a woman under the law can be husband and wives, what makes two men or women  ineligible to marry each other? If the only basis is morality rooted from religion, with due all respect,  I vote to dismiss the contention.

Every human person, regardless of sexual orientation has the right to govern himself as long as he exercises this right without infringing the rights of others.

Why are we imposing hard limits against LGBTs when in the first place these rights are inherent and fundamental as humans? I believe that the State has no business in so far as encroaching in the private lives of LGBTs. Why are we so sententious?

Is there a difference between opposite sex and same sex marriage?

The decision of the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell vs. Hodges is illuminating:

There is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle. Yet by virtue of their exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage. This harm results in more than just material burdens. Same-sex couples are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives. As the State itself makes marriage all the more precious by the significance it attaches to it, exclusion from that status has the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society. Same-sex couples, too, may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage and seek fulfillment in its highest meaning.

In the Philippines, despite the recognition of the country as one of the most gay-friendly nations in the world, and the most LGBT friendly in Asia, still the country lacks strong legislation and measures to ensure the protection and promotion of LGBT rights.

The LGBT community remains as one of the country’s minority sectors today.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people often face disadvantages in getting hired for jobs, acquiring rights for civil marriage, and even in starting up personal businesses.

It is high time for the government especially our legislators to look into passing landmark statutes that will not only protect the LGBT community from harm but importantly to promote their rights and welfare.

Being a member of the LGBT community does not make one less a human. It does not make one less in the eye of the law. It does not lessen their legal quantum in the scales of Lady justice.

The LGBT community should act and move as one. In this legal battle for equal protection, liberty and autonomy, having a unified and healing voice is necessary to win the fight. It may cost blood and time but it will be worth it in the end.

Finally, why do we need to allow same-sex marriage?

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. Marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. (Obergefell vs. Hodges)

As humans, we are all equal, and we need to respect their choices. By disrespecting them, we deny them their life’s fulfillment. We condemn them to live a life full of loneliness; we even erase them from our civilization and society. They are asking for dignity in the eyes of the law. We must grant them these rights.

 

#Mutya

 

Don’t reach for the dolphins, starfish . . .

“Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. –
Anatole France

Every one of us has the moral obligation to protect the environment and all the creatures in it. As stewards of God’s creation, it is our duty to speak and dissent even no one is listening, even it is painful and bitter, against any acts that malign, disrespect and rape these beautiful treasures which are bestowed upon us.

Last week, I visited a popular tourist attraction in North Luzon. I enjoyed swimming and while observing a group of people diving, running and eating. What made my heart cried-out was when a young woman picked a couple of red and orange starfish and had picture taking with the poor, defenceless animal under the scorching heat of the sun. After which, she returned the starfish in the water as if it was a piece of rock.

It was so wrong. It shall not pass.

Marine animals like the poor starfish deserve respect. Just imagine you were sleeping then someone lifted you out of bed to take photos. How would you feel?

Touching and disturbing marine sea creatures causes stress which can alter their physiological processes. In fact, when you lift a starfish out of the water and expose it under the sun, you caused an alteration of its biofilms that protects it from toxic substances.

Congratulations the lady just killed a starfish!

We could have prevented this if we have proper environmental knowledge. An awareness campaign should be intensified especially during summer and must be a part of any briefing procedures in tourist destinations.

But all is not lost for us. As humans we can step-up. We can correct our mistake before it’s too late.

Finally, I want to quote Justice Marvic Leonen of the Philippine Supreme Court in his concurring opinion on a landmark case between marine creatures in Sea Scape Tanon and the Philippine government. He said:

“We honor every living creature when we take care of our environment. As sentient species, we do not lack in the wisdom or sensitivity to realize that we only borrow the resources that we use to survive and to thrive. We are not incapable of mitigating the greed that is slowly causing the demise of our planet. In this way and with candor and courage, we fully shoulder the responsibility deserving of the grace and power endowed on our species.”

#Mutya

 

Use of sky lanterns must stop

It is inhumane and irresponsible to light and send sky lanterns without knowing that every single piece of it has the potential to kill an innocent animal. These lanterns are more than stray bullets, these are like nuclear warheads that can wipe out hectares of forest, rice fields and or mangroves if done near a coastal area. While lighting a sky lantern is an exciting experience, its aftermath is lethal.

Once the debris of the sky lantern falls into the water for example, animals like sea turtles could mistakenly identify it as food. Once eaten, the remains of the sky lantern can block the digestive tract of the poor and soon to be extinct animal, leading to its untimely demise.

On a separate note, if the sky lantern falls into a dry forest, it will unleash a torrential fire that can burn anything within the area. Either way, sky lantern is dangerous and unforgiving regardless where the debris settles.

No amount of celebration can justify lighting a sky lantern. Knowing these two main points alone, a sane and responsible man will immediately dismiss his plans to light any lanterns because it is detrimental to the environment.

Soon as we light the lantern, let us remember the number of sea turtles, and any marine creatures with the same right to life like ours, whom we killed because we are unreasonably insensitive and arrogant.

Let us remember their noble sacrifice, because again, as human, we failed our posterity for believing that our happiness carries more weight than the lives of animals.

#Mutya

Mutya bares top-secret story for Lent

This is not a blog about disparaging comments on hotels, restaurants or erring personas who induced me with acute nausea. This is a story fitting for Holy week; a narration and a reflection of something that opened my eyes to the manifold realities of life on Earth.

More often than not, when I and Alfred engage into a conversation, the topic always leads to sex, health and, ultimately the cause of our total annihilation.  I can say that you are interested to know more about these three popular topics but to honor the meaning of this blessed season, please let me narrate something you never heard of.

One time, when I was segregating the leaves of Malunggay and Spinach for our viand, I asked Alfred to reveal his greatest mistake in life. I was afraid because he was holding a sharp knife slicing some frozen meat for dinner. Unlike Ms. Venus Raj, he immediately gave me an answer without circumnavigating.

“My greatest mistake happened during my elementary days when I haphazardly wasted the opportunity to study well, thus missing the wonders of education.” He chopped the meat heavily.

I held my breath for a couple of seconds but I did not stop there. I dug deeper.

“What were the most difficult events you experienced when you were young? Mine for example was sleeping for two days with empty stomach.” I told him to open the conversation.

I saw him adding too much salt to the boiling water.

“Three things.”, he started to recall.

“When I was young, I had no choice but to help my brothers to harvest corn. Up until now, I could still feel the searing pain when the leaves sliced my small palms. It was like blade after blade, slice after slice until your whole hand numbs. The pain was excruciating for a 10-year old child whose dream during that time was only to play. I realized that pain is a twin brother of mine. My hands became rugged but strong. I knew God was preparing me for a tougher challenge—a second fruit.”

“Do you want to know the second fruit which changed my life?”, he asked.

“Yes!”, I answered.

“It’s inside the refrigerator. Get it for me.”  I opened the fridge and I saw a pineapple.

It was during my second year when I first knew him. He was oozing with wit and a sensational style of leadership which won the heart of many. Aside from these was his skill in peeling the skin of the pineapple. After class hours, without delay, he run to the public market in order help his sister to prepare sliced pineapples for their small fruit stand. He can remove the eyes of the sweet fruit within one minute preserving its impeccable shape.

“I find it cool.”,  I told him.

He looked at me fiercely.

“If being cool is having the sharp edges of the crown of the pineapple puncture your skin so deep and  having your crotch soaked on the saccharine juice of this fruit for  5 hours or more every day then I will agree with your observation.”

I stepped back and returned to my sit. I was wrong.

He minced the pineapple and he placed it with the mixture. Then, he tasted it.

“It lacks something. Something sour.” He was referring to the green mango.

I remembered when he told me that there was a time when he climbed a mango tree to harvest its fruits. Despite the scorching heat of the sun and the pricking bite of the ants crawling from the trunk to his back and shoulders, he was passionately determined to pick the most unblemished mango he could reach. A wounded mango can’t be sold in the market.

I handed him the green mango. He peeled it perfectly and he mixed it with the mixture.

I realized then that he taught me one of the biggest lessons in life using the three fruits that formed his monumental being.

Without hard work, dedication and the passion to make seemingly difficult things happen, one can’t change his path and be the person he wanted to become.

Poverty became a popular obstacle and an excuse for many of us so not to pursue reaching for our stars, but the three fruits my friend showed me concretely illustrated that great things are possible for those who learn to endure the suffering and deduce lessons from it.

While the leaves of the corn wounded his palms, he did not threw his aspiration to become someone who can make a difference to the lives of others, the burning charcoal which he used to cook the corn did not stop him to seek for easy comfort. The crown of the pineapple was perceived by him as a destination and every thorn deeply that mercilessly pierced his skin was a reminder that suffering is necessary to hone and to exercise our humanity. The mango on the other hand, thought us to choose only the best.

These three fruits when mixed in one container will make an excellent dish worthy of emulation and inspiration. The next time you come across a corn, a pineapple and a mango, please be thankful on what you have and don’t you dare surrender your stars. As you bite these three fruits, remember the journey of my friend Alfred.

#Mutya

He is the best of Philippine Airlines.

Since Philippine Airlines has launched its new philosophy of being the “Heart of the Filipino”, I never had the chance to completely comprehend it. For me, a “Filipino heart” is formed by distinct strands of compassion, hospitality and love. Honestly, I never felt the perfect experience not until my last three flights last week. A flight attendant perfectly embodies the real meaning of “Heart of the Filipino”.

His name is Vincent as stated on his nameplate. I had the chance to witness his unbelievable power three times in a row. In one of my trip, I was very angry because the flight was delayed for almost one and a half hour. I want to shout out loud that could reach the control tower of NAIA from Cotabato but when I entered the plane, it was different.

Vincent stands at the door–confident.  He gave his unique Filipino smile to each guest. That same powerful smile appeased the agitated passengers. I returned the warm gesture, he smiled back and he assisted me to my section. The moment after I fastened my seat-belt, he smiled again.

He won. I was pacified. Everyone from rows 1-15 experienced serenity inside the plane. At that moment, I understood that the heart of the Filipino is reflected in every genuine smile. He nailed it. Vincent perfected the art of smiling. His smile could stop time, could make you feel that you are a Million Miler,  could make you experience that you are the Queen of the Universe.

I want to say to the captain, “Hey Captain, let’s depart tomorrow.”

He also possesses the essential element of sensitivity. He could easily ascertain if someone is suffering from discomfort. He assesses the situation and he renders the appropriate intervention. Afterwards, he returns to evaluate. He will never leave you even you are sitting along the Economy Class. His attention never changes from the head up to the tail of the plane. He is compassionate, his technique undoubtedly comes from a deeper origin—his heart.

When snacks are being distributed and you happened to be sleeping, don’t worry because he will respect you. He will not disturb you, instead he will look at you as if you are Snow White.  He won’t ask you coffee, tea or water. He will not force you to wake up and receive the Banana Bread Slice. He will open the tray and will place your food for you to enjoy once you are awake. Then he will return with a smile and asks you for your choice of drinks. He will never leave you hungry, thirsty or sleepy.

His comforting words will kiss and caress you.

Just like with other flights, the time for deplaning will come—sad. The relationship ends after a passenger leaves the plane. But Vincent is not one of those who easily terminate the relationship. He ends the experience with a smile composed of 99% happiness and wishes of safety and inspiration. He hides the remaining 1% for you to feel that you need to return to discover and to experience over and over and over again. He knows how to connect.

With all of these, I can say that Vincent has the heart of a Filipino, a perfect personification of Philippine Airlines Philosophy and Values of highest costumer service. He made me so proud because he had shown the best of the Philippines and the distinct brand of service marked by heartfelt warmth and hospitality. He is one of a kind, a total mixture of passion, dedication and service. Philippine Airlines must be proud of him.

#Mutya

Mutya slams House for “cannibalistic” death Penalty bill.

I am Mutya, I am pro-life.

Setting aside party colors, I would like to manifest my total objection to the re-imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines. It seems that the majority of the House are in hurry to pass the “devilish” bill. Killing our own people is not the solution. If you are losing your hopes, if you are pressured to approve this inhumane measure because of political reasons—–please do not do it.

Killing our fellow Filipinos is cannibalistic and the government should not participate on this. It is not your business, not your mandate, and not even your calling. You are elected to represent the Filipino people across economic background, color and religion, thus you should dismiss bills which threatened our liberty and even they are part of the minority.

Death Penalty is anti-poor. Please check the records. The rich who could afford expert counsel were released alive, like a happy Maya, while the poor who have no access to competent defense suffered the capital punishment of death.

Open your eyes, the Supreme Court said that 7 out of 10 death penalty cases in the past have judicial error. Our criminal justice system is far from perfect. Sad to say, it could even be swayed by money. The blind-folded Lady Justice sometimes is not fair and just. We can’t let the lives of our fellowmen be played under the influence of dirty money and political connections.

Death Penalty is irreversible, thus we don’t have any chance to correct any wrong. Furthermore, it also prevents a person from contemplating and learning from his past mistakes. As a nation, we should aim for restorative justice. Killing a criminal will not heal the victims. It further opens the wound perpetually without closure. Before a person becomes a criminal, he is a human being and as a human being, we are believed to be innately good especially when given the right circumstances. The rise of criminality is the result of poor governance and widespread corruption that results to poverty.

Honorable Representatives of the people, let’s remember the cases of Fernando Galera, a 26 years old, fish vendor, innocent but sentenced to death because he can’t afford to pay competent lawyers, Richard Ong, 33 years old, innocent who was sentenced to death in 1994.  He was tortured and confessed something which he didn’t do. Hideshi Suzuki, 38, Japanese man sentenced to death in 1994 because of marijuana trafficking. He claimed that the marijuana was planted on him by a police officer. (M. Fajardo, Death Penalty in the Philippines).

Clearly, we are not ready for death penalty. We should dismiss this measure and focus on solutions that matter. Let us prevent evil forces from using Death Penalty to silence its critics and from erasing the poor from the crust of the Philippines.

The state has no right to kill a person without granting him the full protection of the laws. No person shall be deprived of life!

#Mutya