Archive for the Family Life Category

Get The Balance Right

Posted in Family Life with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

Last week, my wife and I agreed to take the kids out of town for a vacation before they go back to school because for them, summer was spent just in the house while their parents were out campaigning. It was pretty much a boring summer for them, and there wasn’t much quality time between us.

In fact, over the last nine years, I must admit that work pretty much came in the way of being a father and husband, although I did manage to squeeze in some quality time every now and then. But that’s just it…it shouldn’t be just a matter of “squeezing in” family time. There should be a time for work responsibilities and time for family responsibilities.

We decided to go to Albay, to a resort in Misibis Bay. The place is relatively new, they just opened last year. I never even knew there was such a resort. My wife and I are a curious pair, always wanting to try something new instead of repeating an experience over and over again and falling into a routine. I guess that’s one of the secrets of our staying together for twenty years now, even though we started out married life at quite a young age.

Along with us came my sister in law and her family, my brother in law and two of their cousins. We scheduled our departure for June 9, because I wanted to attend the proclamation of Sen. Noynoy Aquino. At that time, the end of the canvassing was estimated to be on June 8. But the canvassing was extended one more day so the proclamation was rescheduled to June 9. My dad wanted me to attend, suggesting that I reschedule our trip. Pia Hontiveros, a friend from the ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel) said that I shouldn’t miss this historic event.

Indeed, I did want to attend Noynoy’s proclamation. It was really a historic event and so far, in my three terms of being a congressman, there have been many historic events that I was part of, events that someday I’m going to tell my grand children how their grandpa was right there as those events were happening. I wanted this one to be one of those stories. And I also wanted to be there to take photographs of the event.

But I already made a promise to my family that we will leave on that day. And God knows how many times in the past nine years that I set aside a commitment to my family just to be able to be at an event as history unfolds or to do an important job in line of duty. Perhaps to me those events are something to forever remember as a chapter in our country’s history, but my family’s disappointment will be something that will haunt me until the day I die. I don’t want that.

And so I would miss the proclamation at Batasang Pambansa. I would get on a plane with my family and spend precious moments with them that will last a lifetime of memories, much more valuable than any historical event in the country.

Anton and I on the plane.

The plane ride to Legaspi City took about just an hour, although for me, it was an hour spent well. There is nothing compared to having your children depend their life on you. One of my sons, afraid of flying because of watching too much National Geographic Channel’s Air Crash Investigation, clung to my arms the whole flight, asking me to pray before we took off. It’s such a good feeling to have your children rely on you, although you will also have to train them to be self-sufficient and survive on their own. You just have to get the balance right.

The approach to Legaspi City airport was spectacular, with the majestic Mayon dominating the horizon. As we descended to land, the children were treated to seeing the volcano with a perfect cone spewing smoke. It was a clear day, and the clouds had not yet formed on top of the Mayon and she showed us her full glory.

Trina and I enjoy traveling.

Since we were a big group, we were picked up by the hotel’s coaster and we traveled for another hour to get to Misibis Bay. Along the way, the kids were treated to the beautiful scenery of Albay’s countryside. It was an educational trip for them, their questions about what they see around them answered right then and there.

The bus on the boat.

One nice experience for them was crossing a wide channel to get to the island of Cagraray where Misibis Bay is. There was no bridge but there was a roll-on/roll-off barge. The coaster was driven onto the barge’s platform and when it got to the other side, it just drove off onto the road. The kids were excited about the experience. My son, used to seeing the LCT’s and LCM’s in his video game, asked me if this RO/RO barge was the same as those used in World War II.

Not long after, we arrived at the resort, greeted by several dancers dancing to what sounded like tribal music. Welcome drinks soothed our parched throats and the well done landscaping and architecture already beckoned us to romp and play.

My kids love the water!

After checking in to our rooms and settling down, the kids were more than eager to go out and swim in the pool. The cold rooms and television were unsuccessful in enticing them to stay indoors. They completely ignored those and preferred the warm water of the swimming pool under the heat of the sun. I’m glad though, because back home, they’re indoors most of the time. There should be time for them to stay indoors and time to go outdoors. You must get the balance right.

Ice candy while in the way to be cool in the summer heat.

I joined my kids in the pool, playing with them as a father should. I particularly wanted to stay with my youngest son, who at three years old, spent his entire life with a father who had to give his time to his constituents. This was an opportunity for some bonding time.

As I played with the kids in the pool, all the worries and cares of this world were quickly set aside. For a while, I left all troubles behind and life became simple again. Whether it was in this resort or in another place, it doesn’t matter as long as you are with your family enjoying the company, life becomes wonderful. For a while I became not just a father but a kid as well.

Trying to get on was no easy task.

In the pool, there were inflatables for the children to play with. There was a scaled down version of a banana boat, that favorite ride of beach goers. But it was a bit too large for the kids, and they had difficulty getting on it. I decided to use it, to amuse the kids. But the funny thing is, once I get on top of it, I had difficulty staying on it.

Staying on was even more difficult.

Somehow, it was difficult for me to balance because of my weight which makes it top-heavy once I’m riding it. So I kept on falling over and over again, which made the kids laugh. Oh well, that makes their day, so I gladly got on and fell off over and over again.

Of course, I really tried to stay on it for my personal satisfaction but I really never was able to. I was always off-balance. For you to stay on top of it, you must get the balance right.

Trina and Ino enjoying the wind and water.

Later in the day, we went to the beach where there was an on-the-water playground for the kids and watersports for the adults. Now was the time for grown up activities. We rode Hobie Cats, small sailing catamarans that sliced through the waters with swiftness and speed that matched even motorized bancas. It had a capacity of four people, and rode really close to the water. We took off with such speed that in a few minutes we were already in the middle of Misibis Bay in deep blue water.

Enzo didn't quite know how to react.

It was my first time on a wind-powered vessel, and it was a great experience. I had always wondered how people could write a song about sailing, but riding the Hobie Cat, I could really related to Christopher Cross’ song “Sailing”. In fact, I almost immediately sang the song in my head as we were cruising through the waters of Misibis bay, with no sound except the splashing of the waves, flapping of the sails, and the whistle of the wind. Initially, there was some kind of weird feeling about the absence of noise from an engine while we were speeding through the choppy waters. But later on, it became a peaceful experience to be out there in the vast expanse of water which you can easily touch while the breath of God filled the sail to give you speed.

The other Hobie Cat trailing us.

Before one gets used to it, the Hobie Cat is a bit awkward to ride because it could tip over if the weight was not easily distributed and the wind blows the sail hard. But after a while, you get the hang of it and it becomes a such a wonderful experience. You just have to get the balance right.

When we got back to shore, other activities awaited us. I just had to try wind surfing. I’ve seen others do it before and I thought to myself, if they can do it, why can’t I? The instructor gave me the pointers on how to do it and I patiently waited for the lecture to finish. Deep inside I kept saying, “Alright, alright, enough with the talk, let’s go into action!”.

Yes! I windsurfed!

But it turns out that it’s not that easy to do. Just to get on the board and balance was tough enough, add to that the act of pulling the mast upright and catching the wind to make yourself move on the water. I fell down so many times it was starting to look like lessons on how to fall on water instead of how to wind surf.

As I fell into the water and got up to re-mount the board, I kept on scraping my knees on the sand and on the board itself. It wasn’t long before it was beginning to hurt due to the exposed raw skin. But I kept on doing it, because I was determined to see myself move across the water and claim to have been able to wind surf.

After almost an hour of trying, I was able to finally do it. Although the speed was not impressive, I was able to go a distance and turn to go the opposite direction. Yes! I can finally claim to have wind surfed. All I needed was to get the balance right.

Carpe Diem. Seize the day. That was our motto during our vacation. The following day was another opportunity to experience what life has to offer in terms of excitement. We started it with scuba diving, which was a much awaited activity.

Posing for a photo after the dive.

We were brought out into the bay about a kilometer off-shore to dive. A couple of us were certified divers, some had already done introductory dives (such as myself) while others were first timers. This was going to be an introductory dive, meaning we will just dive not more than twenty feet. Or at least that was the idea.

The most basic thing to remember in this kind of dive is never to hold your breath. Just breathe regularly, as you would do on land. Next is to equalize, which means to relieve the pressure on your ears as you go deeper. It is done by pressing your nostrils closed while slightly blowing air into them. It’s pretty much like blowing your nose if you have colds but in this case, you don’t let the air out. You will then feel the pressure in your ears being relieved.

You must be conscious about equalizing because if you don’t it could cause injury to your ear drums or cause discomfort. You just need to get the balance of pressure right so that you will enjoy the experience.

And enjoy the experience we did. I spent a lot of time scanning the ocean floor and admiring the underwater sea life, although it didn’t have as much color, vibrance, variety and quantity as other areas I’ve been too. I was told that dynamite and cyanide fishing in these areas were stopped only recently, so marine life had yet to fully recover. So sad, really.

Picnic on the sands of the beach

Of course, the food was great!

Lunch was served on the beach, set up by the resort management for the guests. After a hearty meal, it was back to the watersports. That day, however, aside from the Hobie Cats, kayaks and windsurfing, a jet ski and banana boat were available.

Of course, the jet ski was irresistible. The speed, the wind and sea spray in your face and the rush of momentary flight as you cut across the waves is an intense experience that gives you and adrenaline high. It didn’t take long before my seven year old son saw the thrill and wanted a part in the action.

Riding the jet ski with Ino

So it was that he rode tandem with me, and we cruised a distance from the shore. It was his first time to ride a jet ski and he asked if it was difficult to handle. I told him it was quite easy, not so much different from riding a bike. I told him that you just need to get the balance right.

And soon enough, he was enjoying it and asked for more speed. The longer we rode the jet ski, the more he wanted to go faster. He particularly liked the part where the jet ski jumps as it hit the waves. But for me, what I enjoyed more than the ride itself was my son holding on to me tightly in an embrace that I hoped would last forever.

We would not let the day pass without riding the banana boat. Together with my in-laws and their cousins, we got on the five-seater banana boat, hungry for the excitement. We were towed by a twin-engined speed boat which promised a wild ride.

The banana boat gave us an adrenaline rush

As we were towed out to sea, the waves made the banana boat jump up and down along the waves, making it difficult to stay on top. I pulled myself to a low profile, trying to keep my center of gravity low. As the speed increased, the excitement we felt increased as well, highlighted by my sister-in-law’s screams which was a mixture of delight and fear.

We slowed down as the speedboat slowed to do a turn. Then a funny thing happened. As we rounded what was actually a slow and safe turn, we got off balanced and we all fell into the water in what felt like slow motion. It was a ridiculous way to fall off the banana boat, during a slow turn. Simply because we didn’t get the balance right.

After getting back on the banana boat, we got ready for our second run. This time, we tried to go for the thrill of speed. The speed boat gradually picked speed, creating a larger wake behind it. This made our banana boat buck wildly, very much like a wild stallion being broken in a rodeo. The five of us were bouncing up and down on the inflatable banana boat which threatened to kick us off into the water.

It didn’t take long until we all completely lost hold of the banana boat and fell into the water. But this time, it wasn’t a harmless and ridiculous fall. As I hit the water, I hit an oncoming wave, and with the speed we were going and the angle that I fell, it felt like slamming onto a concrete floor.

I got the wind knocked out of me and my left chest felt like it was caved in. There was pain in and around my ribs and for a while, I couldn’t talk. After several seconds, I realized we were all quiet unlike the first fall when we were all laughing and talking. This time, it seemed we were all stunned by the impact of the fall. My sister in law had the same experience as me and we both had chest pain.

The ATV was challenging too

We did another round but in a more cautious pace. Were then brought back to shore where we still continued with other activities. In fact, later in the day, we rode All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) on rugged trails up and down mountainous terrain. It seemed that no injury could stop us from having fun.

Kayaking is also fun

We had many other activities during this trip, which was only a three day break, including the time to travel to and from home. We would have wanted to stay longer what with all the fun we were experiencing, not to mention the quality time of playing together as a family.

But it was time to go back to the business of living life, which is actually a balance between work and play, spending and saving, resting and moving, and time to be alone and time with others. There is a purpose for us not to be excessive in one or lacking in the other. It makes us well-rounded and, of course, well-balanced.

As Depeche Mode said their song, we just need to get the balance right.


I Am Fine

Posted in Family Life, Politics and Politicians with tags , , on May 13, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

It’s a unique situation I’m in now—not really a winner, but not necessarily a loser. I’m tempted to concede, but with five million votes still to be counted in the parallerl count and the official canvassing just starting, it’s also difficult to hang up the gloves now. I guess it won’t be taken as un-statesman for me to just ride out the storm. Besides, I had already made up my mind long ago that whatever the outcome is, it is the Will of God which will prevail. I have faith in Him in that the Bible says, “his plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Win or lose, God has something good for me.

I consider myself blessed that during this time, aside from my wife and immediate family, there are those who show their concern for me and make me feel that I am not alone to face this challenge. Their encouraging and comforting words soothe my soul, and provide the cushion to dull the blow of an unsuccessful venture. Their mere company is enough to drive the spirits of sadness and depression away, and replace them with hope and cheerfulness.

I can feel the concern and sympathy of those around me. I know that relatives who immediately make their presence felt for me, even without them saying so, are there to offer a crying shoulder (literally and figuratively). Indeed, it is really during times like this that one understands the value of family. As I have said before, we should give priority for our families because when we are in dire straights or on our last breath, it will always be our family who will be there beside us.

It is also during these times that sincere and reliable friends come to the rescue. I am heartened by the numerous text messages, emails, Facebook comments and Inbox messages that I receive from friends encouraging me about the count and expressing their confidence in me. The simple “How are you?” does wonders to lift my spirits. Their comforting words and rousing exhortations fuel my desire to stand up and face this challenge instead of slink into a corner and wallow in self-pity.

But I have always been one to look at the brighter side of things. I have managed to downplay the final outcome of this contest and focus on the new things that I have learned, the experiences I underwent, and the friendships that I have established in the course of this journey to the august halls of the Senate.

Whether I do get to enter the Upper Chamber as a member or remain in the sidelines and watch the few who are given the privilege to be part of the Senate perform (or not perform) their duties, I will forever treasure the experience of being a Senatorial candidate trying to earn the trust of the nation.

In the months that we went around the country, I met thousands of our countrymen who received us with such generosity and warmth, reaffirming my belief that Filipinos are a good-natured people. I marveled at the beautiful countryside and each place I visited beckoned me to stay longer, even convincing me to say, “I could live here!”.

But I also saw the poverty in the countryside, the devastation of natural resources and the abuse of those who were given the trust to lead but eventually failed their own people. The more I witnessed, the more determined I became to pitch in and do my part to help achieve change.

The grueling campaign, which was a drain not only on the financial resources but also in physical strength as well as the emotions, would have driven the faint at heart to quit. But for me, the saving grace and the pillar of strength came from the staff and support group who endured with the candidates the emotional strain and the physical fatigue. A candidate is only as good as his staff and support are, and without them the battle can easily be lost.

With the indulgence and understanding of others, I am proud to say that my staff is the best. What they lack in numbers, they make up for in performance. Their dedication is matched by their abilities and I am happy and honored to have worked with them all these years and hopefully, in the many years to come.

But it would be unfair and self-serving of me to only give credit to my staff. The SLAMAT LORRRD team of Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, the group of young men and women who were given the designation as sherpas to the senatorial candidates, were a crucial and vital component of the whole campaign. Without them, it would have meant the collapse and failure of the Liberal Party’s senatorial campaign.

These sprightly, dependable, patient and hard working sherpas ensured that our movements during sorties were on time and in the right direction; they cued us when to get on stage and how long we could speak; they handed bottles of water to us to quench our thirst and avoid dehydration; they arranged media interviews and room reservations. In short, they made life easier.

In previous senatorial campaigns the candidate guides were called shepherds. I think the term sherpas used this election fits the functions they performed for us. They did not merely show the way, they sometimes carried the load for the candidates.

I will always look back to the 2010 campaign with fondness as an experience that enriched my life and increased my friendships. I find comfort in the fact that I gained the trust of millions of my countrymen and somehow touched the lives of some and moved them to take action.

The gratitude I have for those who spent their money and gave their time to campaign for me, without asking for anything in return, is one that I will forever hold. The people who covered me with prayer, crying to the heavens for my protection and provision, they have a spot in my special people list. All of them are my heroes, my lifeline, my safety net.

But above everyone else, this campaign has proven that I am blessed with a wife who performs the roles of my staff, the sherpas, the supporters and the prayer shields. She is all of those rolled into one, a precious blessing from Heaven. The best thing about it is that she isn’t there for me just during the elections. She is there for me for the rest of my life.

My children are gifts from God. One glance at them and the concerns of this campaign are set aside. They’re my sanctuaries, the embrace of their small arms are like walls of protection for me against the cruelty of this world. I take comfort and inspiration from my eldest son Carlo, who displayed composure, grace and steadfastness in facing disappointment when he experienced his own electoral defeat years back.

So as this campaign winds up, and the count places me in a precarious standing, all I need to do is remind myself of the good things I have and I gained and the anxiety of the outcome fades away. And with a smile on my face, I can truly say, “I am fine.”

The Filipino Family – The Country’s Foundation

Posted in Family Life, Inner Thoughts with tags , , , , on December 23, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

“The Filipino Family is the foundation of the nation.”

In order for our nation to have a firm foundation, we must build up Filipino families. We must enable them to be productive, literate and strong. We must empower them with livelihood, education and health.

But more importantly, the Filipino family should be built up with spiritual, moral and traditional values coupled with a deep sense of patriotism and citizenship.

Charity is not the only thing that begins at home. Everything begins at home. We must be able to raise good fathers and mothers, good husbands and wives, and good sons and daughters in order for us to raise good citizens.

What I Learned From My Father

Posted in Family Life, Inner Thoughts with tags , , , , on June 22, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

If you were asked what’s the best gift you have ever received from your father, what would be your answer?

I am pretty sure that whatever the answer is, it would be something that was really the best that a father could afford, for after all, being a father myself, I would want nothing less than the best for my child.

Whenever Christmases and birthdays would come, I would scour the shops and shopping malls for the latest toys that my kids are craving for, sometimes not minding if it would cost me an arm and a leg. When they get prizes for their accomplishments, I give them the chance to name a “big prize”, meaning that they can get something with a price tag that is beyond the standard limit that we have set, because I do want to give them a big reward for what they have achieved.

But while indeed, fathers want to give the best to their children, top quality gifts with a big price tag are temporary both in existence and relevance especially as the children grow up. The bicycle which my father gave me for Christmas when I was around seven was really blew me out at the time I received it, but eventually, I outgrew it within a couple of years and now, it is only but a memory of my childhood.

So when I am asked about the best gift I received from my father, I don’t offer the list of gifts he gave me over the many Christmases, birthdays, and special occasions. I appreciate all those things I received from my father, although looking back I realize they were not necessarily the most expensive. But for me the best gifts he ever gave me, and I think the best that anyone could receive are the many life lessons that he taught us both by his spoken words and everyday action.

One of the most important of which is the lesson that the best legacy a father could give to his son is not material riches, property or even social prominence, but the wisdom on how to live a contented life in a manner that you do not destroy the dignity of your family, preserve your integrity and principles, and treat other people with respect.

Over and above the car that my father gave me when I began my life separate from the loving arms of my parents, I treasure more the lesson on responsibility over things that are put under my care without which I wouldn’t have been able to maintain the car and put it to good use.

Much more than his being general and senator which extended to me his prominence in society, I give more value to the lesson in humility that he imposed on us as we were growing up when he always reminded us to treat ordinary soldiers with respect because the privileges of his rank did not extend to us, his children. “Only I am the officer above them, not you”, he would tell us.

More valuable than the help he gave for me to achieve victory in my campaign to become congressman were the many lessons in facing and handling disappointment that I underwent as I was growing up. I am grateful that he did not spoil me by giving in to every desire and demand I had, because it has made me more resilient in life and more appreciative of whatever is given to me, big or small.

Not all of the things I learned from my father are lessons that were given in lecture or advice. The most effective lessons are those that are learned from experience and seen in examples.

Many of the precious lessons I learned from my father I learned not just by listening to his advice but by seeing how he lives his life. If I were to put into sentence one lesson I learned from how he lives his life, it would be “You will always run after Happiness unless you settle down with Contentment.”

Growing up, I never saw my father seek for things beyond his reach, but for all his achievements, I have never seen him struggle for an ambition. Instead, he would have a vision and simply do his best in what he is doing.

Years ago, before the 1986 EDSA Revolution, he was a colonel commanding a brigade in Davao City. For us, it seemed that that was the highest rank he would reach because he had earned the ire of the president then, and we were prepared for him to retire from that last post. But when the dictator was ousted, he was given an assignment which merited a promotion for him, even though he was not a part of the coup that ousted the dictator. He was recognized for his accomplishment as a soldier loyal to the Constitution and democracy.

With that assignment to the Philippine Military Academy as its Superintendent, he was promoted to Brigadier General. With that, he expected that he will retire from the military service with the Baguio post as his last assignment. He even prepared us emotionally and psychologically that we would be settling down in Baguio City, the city where he and my mother met and fell in love.

But somehow, fate intervened and he was given another assignment which earned him another promotion. He returned to Manila and was assigned as Commandant of the Philippine Marines, the dream assignment of all Marine officers. He was promoted to Major General, once again surpassing his own expectations.

Not long after the assignment as Commandant, he was given another higher post, until he finally reached the highest post and rank that a military officer could achieve—AFP Chief of Staff. Eventually, he would then become Senator of the Republic.

What’s remarkable about his story is that he reached those successes without being a slave to ambition. As he rose through the ladder of success, he was prepared to stop at each rung, focusing only on doing his best in the responsibility handed to him and not distracted by a desire for a higher ambition. But in being such, he earned the approval of others and of Fate, earning the reward of promotion and greater responsibility.

It is from his life that I take the most valuable lessons on how to live mine. The most precious gift I have received from my father is not the most expensive but it is definitely priceless. I would never trade his life lessons for anything else in this world. For these, I am forever grateful for what I learned from the best dad on earth.

Lessons From Mama

Posted in Family Life, Inner Thoughts with tags , on May 10, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

One of the countless undisputable truths found in the Bible is the one which says that “A good name is more desirable than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1).

I can say that I am a beneficiary of that proverb, since in the time that I have spent in public service, I have always heard good things said about my father whenever I am introduced as his son. My own entry into politics was made easier because of what people say as the good name of my father which I inherited from him.
By keeping his name untarnished, I inherited much more than any material wealth or riches can bestow upon a man. It opened doors for me and even earned kind words for the name I carry. It makes me proud to say that I am a son of Rodolfo Biazon.

Although sometimes, I get puzzled looks when I say that I am a son of the general-turned-senator. Some people actually voice out the question that runs in their minds when they meet me—“Anak ka ba talaga ni Senator Biazon? (Are you really the son of Senator Biazon?).

Not that they don’t think I deserve to carry the name of my dad. They follow up the question with “Bakit hindi mo kamukha?” (Why don’t you look like him?). No, I don’t feel insulted. And neither does my father. We already have a standard answer for that question.To that question, I immediately answer “Mana sa nanay” (I got my looks from my mom).

My mother says she contributed to the improvement of the Biazon bloodline when she and my dad united. My sister was 2nd runner up in the 1985 Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant. My brother was recruited into show business (but was stopped by my parents to urge him to concentrate in his studies). So my mom has a point.

But in fairness to my father, he was a looker when he was young, otherwise my mother wouldn’t have fallen for him. He was the classic pinoy hunk—tall, dark and handsome.It is the ravages of time and the years spent in the field which gave him the wrinkles, the darkened skin and thinned hair which are a contrast to my smooth (as of now) and light skin and thick hair (I hope it lasts) which make people ask that question.

As a public official, I attribute many of my qualities to the principles, lessons and advice that I got from my father. If there is anyone that I can say is my idol as a public servant, it is undoubtedly my father. I have given him that honor in every opportunity that I can.

But I am the fruit of the union of two individuals. Biologically, I am composed of elements coming from my father and mother. While I attribute some of my characteristics from my father, I definitely inherited more from my mother than just my looks.
Much of what I am as a person I got from my mom. While I was growing up, much of my father’s time was spent out in the field, where he was assigned to risk his life in defense of the Philippine way of life. During those times he was away, my mom performed the role of both mother and father, raising us three siblings sheltered from the bad influence from society but at the same time exposing us to life’s responsibilities and prepare us to meet its challenges.

We never had helpers back then. My mom ran the household singlehandedly ever since she and my dad got married and had kids. We had household chores as we were growing up. Understandably, back then we felt we didn’t have to do it.

But now I am glad that was how she ran the house and raised us. Actually, that was her prophecy after she would lecture to us. She would usually say, after her litany, “Pasasalamatan nyo rin ako sa sermon ko baling araw” (Someday you will thank me for my sermons). How true!
She taught me the value of doing work in excellence. She would ask us to repeat something which did not meet her standards. For example, when we sweep the floor, it is not enough that we sweep the areas within sight. She expects us to move furniture in order to sweep the areas underneath, leaving no floor unswept. She would say “makapal na alikabok sa ilalim ng kama mo, baka tubuan na ng kamot yan” (The dust under your bed is so thick cassava could grow in it).

I learned from her that time is precious. To this day, whatever time I slept the night before, I would always wake up early at around 6:00 AM. Even if I partied on a Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday morning, I would still wake up that early on Saturday.

It is a habit from the days when we had to wake up early to do chores before we went to school. When I was in grade school, one of my chores was to scrub the floor using the bunot (coconut husk) before I went to school. This was an everyday chore. Even if there were no visible signs of scratches, smudges or dirt on the floor.

Nope, we didn’t have an electric floor polisher at that time. We only had it at a later time, when I was already in high school. Still, we had to polish the floor everyday. And that meant waking up early everyday. I remember her waking us up to the tune of “Gising na! Tanghali na! Alas-syete na!” (Wake up! It’s late already! It’s 7:00 AM!) if we slept beyond the appointed wake up time. But you know, it paid off. Because it taught me that time waits for no man, and if there is something that needs to be done, I don’t let time overtake me and I do the task at hand as early as I can.

My mother taught me how to spend wisely. It is she who ingrained in me the difference between a need and a want. I remember the time when I was around seven years old and the latest toy was a Six Million Dollar man action figure. It had movable limbs and hole in the back of its head where you can peer through and see the world in Steve Austin’s bionic eyes.

One day we were in Cartimar and I saw the toy displayed in front of a store. I so dearly wanted that toy but my mom wouldn’t buy it for me for the reason that it was expensive. She also said that it wasn’t my birthday and neither was it Christmas so there was no reason for me to buy a toy. I tried to use that age-old manipulative technique that kids, especially the bunso (youngest in a siblings), do to get what they want—I cried and had a tantrum.

She stuck to her decision not to buy the toy. She told me that I could only buy a toy if there was a special occasion such as my birthday, Christmas, or if I did well in school. Besides, she said, even if there was a special occasion, I could only buy something that we could afford, not one that will necessitate us cutting expenditure on things such as food and clothing. Perhaps that’s why many of gifts were clothes.

I am thankful that she maintained steel nerves and resisted my tearful pleadings to buy the toy. Now that I have children of my own, I know the value of steering them away from being spoiled brats.

Many lessons were learned from that episode. Aside from knowing the difference between a need and a want, I also learned the value of money. She told us that she had to make sure we spent our money only on the important stuff because my father was out there in the field risking his life just so that we have food on the table, clothes on our back and a roof over our heads. So shouldn’t spend the money on unnecessary things. “Hindi nya pinipitas ang pera sa puno” (He’s not picking money off trees), she would say.
It also taught me that in life, you don’t get everything that you want. I learned how to handle disappointment and that if you feel life is not giving you chances, all you need to do is move on and look for the next opportunity. Best of all, I learned that contentment is the key to happiness and found appreciation for whatever I have or given to me.

There are countless life lessons I learned from my mother, all of which I am truly grateful for her. Whatever I am right now, I have her to thank for raising me the way she did. The teachings I received from her I pass on to my own children now. It is a heritage and inheritance from her that I will forever treasure. Much, much more than any world riches, I desire the life lessons she has given me. Along with the good name, what else could anyone want?

I give tribute to you, Mama. In front of God and in front of the world, I give you the appreciation and love that a son could give.

I love you, Mama! Happy Mothers’ Day!

Interview at DZMM

Posted in Family Life, Inner Thoughts with tags , on May 2, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

I was invited to be an in-studio guest at radio station DZMM one Sunday afternoon. My 2nd and 3rd sons, Anton and Ino, asked where I was going and when I told them, they asked to come along.

The people at the station were delighted at the two, since they behaveed very well in the studio, just sitting in one corner not making any fuss for the whole hour I was interviewed.

After the interview, we had some snacks then went home. A day with my sons that I will forever treasure.

God, Family, Country. In that order. How about you?

Posted in Family Life, Inner Thoughts with tags , on April 19, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

After reading the papers, I did some reflection on what I had read about what’s going on in the country. In Facebook, I posted what was on my mind—“God, family, country. In that order.”

My Facebook contacts posted their own reactions, which varied although most agreed with my statement. Some posted their own beliefs, such as “God, Country, Family” and one even included his “Fraternity” after “God, Country, Family”. A true fratman, if I may say so.

With the varying responses, I wouldn’t dare to say who is right or who is wrong. I cannot be the judge of that. We all have our own value systems and I don’t think we are in a position to judge each other on that.

But I do believe that we should be accountable for those value systems we have and in my case, my accountability may be seen from the statement I made. Above anything or anyone else in this world, I am first accountable to God. Everything else comes and follows after that. Judging by the responses of those who reacted to what I posted, it seems that that is one thing everybody agrees on.

So why did I say that it’s “God, Family, Country. In that order”? Why doesn’t Country come ahead of Family?

As stated, I first hold myself accountable to God because as a believer, that is the direct offshoot of my faith in Him. As my creator, I believe that my purpose is live my life according to His desire and standards.

Anyone who has read that best-seller “A Purpose Driven Life” knows the logic of the Creator’s Purpose— that a thing is created with a specific reason and purpose, therefore it is necessary for that creation to fulfill its purpose. For myself, believing in my Creator necessitates that I know His purpose for my life and for me to pursue that purpose.

Why does the family come before country?

As a public official, I am guided by the purpose set out by God for me, as stated in the Creator’s Manual for Life, the Bible. In that reference, it is clearly stated that before one leads over others in the community (or country), one must first be able to show leadership and good governance over one’s family.

1 Timothy 3:1-5 says: “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”

The importance of the family is emphasized even in our own Constitution which recognizes that “the family is a basic autonomous social institution” and the State “shall protect and strengthen” it.

It is my belief that the obligation to govern over one’s family first is not just an obligation of those who lead the community or country but of each and every person who considers himself a faithful believer and loyal citizen. The foundation of the country is the family, therefore, it is imperative that we all take part in firming up and strengthening that foundation on which we will build up our country.

To illustrate, which is preferred, a good leader with a bad family life or a good leader with a good family life?

As far as I am concerned, it is incumbent upon me to strive to be a good father and husband in order for me to be a worthy public official. It is definitely a difficult challenge given all the obstructions and temptations along the way, but acknowledging that obligation is the first step towards fulfilling that commitment to God and family.

Perhaps some see it as self-serving or an unpatriotic act to put family first before country. One who reacted to my post raised a question: “Sir, if I may ask. What if what’s good for your family isn’t good for your country? Or what’s good for your country wouldn’t be good for your family?”

A good point, indeed. But he left out one aspect—God. The three should be taken together, not singly. Above everything else, living according to God’s laws and principles. It doesn’t matter if what one does is good for his family and not good for the country or one does good for the country and not for his family if what one is doing is not right in the eyes of God.

For example, if a person steals from the country for his family, it doesn’t make it right in the eyes of God. Or if one devotes all his time in the service of the people but he does not even have time to raise his child as an obedient and respectful son or daughter, it doesn’t make it right in the eyes of God.

Therefore, all three aspects—God, Family, Country—must all be taken together and not separately.

Living your life to be an ideal believer, family member or citizen is not an easy task. There are many obstacles and challenges that pull us down or block our ways, but that’s what makes it more precious and fulfilling to achieve. If it were that easy, then it wouldn’t be an accomplishment at all.