Archive for the Inner Thoughts Category

Wi-Fi in the Sky

Posted in Inner Thoughts, Travel with tags , , , , , on July 29, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

Anyone who has ever ridden on a plane knows the drill. As soon as you board the plane, the flight attendants instruct the passengers to turn off cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices such as MP3 players and video games until the “fasten your seatbelt” sign is turned off. But cellphones may not be used at any time. Upon landing, passengers are once again instructed repeatedly to only use their cell phones once inside the terminal building.

Of course, there are always some hard-headed passengers who simply ignore these instructions, to the irritation of the flight crew and the horror of some passenger who’s afraid that the electronic device will cause the plane to crash (like my ten year old son). During the last campaign, when I was able to ring up my frequent flyer miles due to the daily provincial sorties, I got used to other passengers continuing with their cell phone conversations even while the plane was about to take off and the beeps of incoming messages as they turned on their mobile units as soon as the plane’s wheels touched the ground.

You can’t blame the flight attendants if sometimes their reminder about keeping electronic devices off while in the plane already sounds like a teacher berating a noisy student. After all, it is already an established safety procedure.

Aerial shot I took of the Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument as we were about to land in Washington D.C.

But during our last trip to the United States last month, I was pleasantly surprised that one airline, instead of instructing you to turn off your cell phone and make you feel like you will be in a coffin cut off from the world for the duration of the flight, encourages you to use your wi-fi enabled device and connect to the world (and part with your hard earned money).

Delta Airlines offers Wi-Fi on board selected flights in the United States

Delta Airlines (are you paying attention, Delta?) has wi-fi enabled flights letting you connect to the internet while flying thousands of feet above the ground. Surfing in the clouds! I was so thrilled with the idea, I became the fool who parted with his $10 just to be able to go online and post a status in my Facebook and Twitter and share with anyone who cared that I was up in the high levels of the earth’s atmosphere while surfing the net.

Although the thought crossed my mind that it was a waste of money, I tried to convince myself that the three hour flight would have been boring if I didn’t purchase a connection.

They were also lenient in their rules, allowing the use of cellphones even while the plane was taxiing to its take off position, and allowing the use again as the aircraft taxied to the terminal after landing.

So, it’s not that dangerous to use cellphones after all. I guess the airlines here in the Philippines just want to be extra careful. One time, on a flight to Cebu, I gently reminded my wife (emphasis on gently) to turn off her cellphone because we were already taxiing to the runway for take off. I told her it was a safety rule.

She did turn off her cell immediately. After which she told me, “if these were really that dangerous, then why don’t the terrorists just ride the plane and turn their cellphones on?”

She was kidding, of course. But it did get me thinking.

Surfing in the sky with my iPad

During that mile-high wi-fi experience, I got to surfing about electronic devices on board airplanes. One site said that the Federal Communications Commission of the United States banned the use of cellphones on bard aircraft back in 1991 because there was a suspicion that the signals interfered with aircraft navigation and communications equipment. The Federal Aviation Administration agrees with the FCC and imposed the regulation on commercial aircraft.

Another site tells of an interview with a pilot over ABC News where in the pilot said that the rule for electronic devices to be turned off is meant to ensure that the passengers’ attention are exclusively fixed on the flight crew as they give the safety briefing before the plane takes off. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Some say that the suspicion that the electronic devices cause harm to the planes equipment has not yet been proven by tests, but it was decided that prudence dictates that it would be better to err on the side of safety. Hence, the ban stays, although various airlines have adopted various rules as to when the cell units should be turned off and when it may be turned on.

As for me, being an avid viewer of Air Crash Investigations in National Geographic Channel, I’d rather not risk my cell phone causing anything that would make the plane I’m riding in get in trouble so I’m obedient when it comes to instructions to turn off electronic devices. And if you’re sitting beside me, you will get a verbal reminder from me if you are not convinced by my accusing glare.

But if I fly Delta, I will happily get my credit card and iPad out and surf in the sky.

The Book of Eli – More Than Just an Excellent Movie

Posted in Inner Thoughts with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

WARNING! Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you don’t want to find out the ending of the movie!

My Saturday afternoon was free, there was no place to go. The kids had their cousins sleeping over so I had no place to squeeze in and play with them. I couldn’t do Facebook and Twitter lest I be called an addict (but you can call me in denial). So what else was there to do?

I declared Saturday afternoon as movie time. After all, there are quite a number of good movies these days and with the various sources available (legit DVD, pirated DVD, online sources, relatives and friends) it’s easy to choose which one to watch.

Of course, being the “macho man” that I am, I have preference for action films. And being a self-styled movie critic, I also choose movies based on who directed the film. And the Hollywood fan in me does not pass the chance to watch movies starring actors and actresses that I adore.

So among the available choices that afternoon, I chose a movie which had a trailer that teased my desire for an adrenaline rush, directors who had already proven to me that they are worth the money that producers pay them to make a film and a lead actor who ranks on top of my all-time Hollywood favorites.

My chosen movie for that Saturday afternoon was The Book of Eli, directed by the Hughes Brothers with Denzel Washington as the lead character.

The trailer that I had seen months before gave me an idea that the movie’s setting was post-apocaloyptic, very much like Mel Gibson’s Mad Max series and last year’s The Road, which I have yet to watch. To me, post-apocalypse movies tend to have similar looks and storylines. The protagonist is usually plunged into a conflict with the desolate and cruel environment as well the deranged and despicable character that live in it. There is usually a journey involved which is made exciting by fights, gunfire and explosions.

But in this case, aside from the actor starring in it, the scenes in the preview and the title of the movie gave me an inkling that somehow there will be a lesson learned here, not just the adrenaline of blood-squirting action and foul language in the script.

The title, Book of Eli, immediately gave me the impression that the Bible has something to do with it. Eli is the shortened version of the name Elijah. In American culture, those who named their sons Elijah are usually those who come from the Bible Belt (the Southern part of the US) and those familiar with the prophet. Being a Bible-reader/believer myself, not to mention a Denzel Washington fan, I had an immediate interest in the movie.

The story revolves around Eli (played by Denzel Washington) who was a survivor of an event which led to the destruction of civilized life as we know it. The land was destroyed, anarchy reigned and cannibals roamed the countryside. It was the period after an event which may have been Armageddon itself. Not only did it destroy man’s home, it destroyed humanity itself. Violence ruled, and every person lived only for survival.

Eli, who was living in the East Coast of the US, one day receives a message presumably from God. The voice told him to bring the book west, and that a path would be laid out before him, that he would be led to a place where the book would be safe, and that he would be protected anyone or anything that would be in his way. During a conversation with one of the characters, he described the encounter with the voice : “I was just moving from place to place,trying to stay alive.And then one day I heard this voice.I don’t know how to explain it, it’s like it was coming from inside me. But I could hear it clear as day. Clear as I can hear you talking to me now.”

That basically describes how those who have had the faith to hear the word of God get the message from God. Nowadays, whenever someone says, “God told me to do this”, that person is greeted with either patronizing looks or ridiculing snickers. Often, that person is tagged as having loose screws.

But a person who is in the appropriate level of faith and has a clear idea of God’s will and purpose will be able to hear the Word of God, as clear as one can hear another person talk. How do you know what God’s will and purpose is? Simple. Just read the Bible.

And that’s what Eli has been doing. He told Solara that he’s been reading the Bible everyday. In the past thirty years that he’s been wandering, he’s been reading the book in his possession everyday. Reading it revealed to him God’s will and purpose and it filled his faith, faith which gave him direction to where he was suppose to go. In a conversation with Solara, this was what he had to say about faith:

Solara: You know, you say you’ve been walking for thirty years, right?
Eli: Right.
Solara: Have you ever thought that maybe you were lost?
Eli: Nope.
Solara: Well, how do you know that you’re walking in the right direction?
Eli: I walk by faith, not by sight.
Solara: [sighs] What does that mean?
Eli: It means that you know something thing even if you don’t know something.
Solara: That doesn’t make any sense.
Eli: It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s faith, it’s faith.
And he’s right. Faith doesn’t need to be rationalized, otherwise, it is not faith at all.

So as he journeyed for thirty years on the way to where he was told the book should be brought, it is assumed that he learned his survival skills as he went along. In one of the early scenes of the movie, he encounters people called Hi-Jackers, who apparently prey on travelers, not only to ransack their belongings but also to eat them.

Eli was lured by their bait, a woman pretending to need his help on the side of the road. Being the good natured man that he was, Eli was drawn by the bait and it was then that he was encountered by the gang. He tried to evade but was forced into a fight with them, one man against many. In the end, they all end up dead, with him fulfilling his warning to the leader , “Touch me with that hand again and you’re not getting it back”. Eli cut off his hand with one swoop of his bolo.

Thirty years is a long time to endure to reach your goal. Yet Eli continued in his journey fraught with danger and death in order to fulfill his mission. It takes great faith to embark on a journey with no end in sight. That was what the Israelites did when they fled Egypt. Through the leadership of Moses, they walked for forty years through the desert until reaching the Promised Land. They almost lost faith but because of their leaders’ belief in what lay ahead, they avoided falling into self-destruction. Of course, had they been more faithful to God, their journey should have just been forty days.

In many instances, we are impatient with what we seek. Many times people have prayed to God and wanted results overnight. But God does not work within the time limit we prescribe. Our impatience usually gets the best of us, as exemplified by the cliché, “haste makes waste”. We must understand that sometimes what we desire comes to us delayed because the timing is not right.

One of the reasons that our desires are delayed is that we have yet to be prepared for what we ask. For instance, we don’t get a high paying job immediately after we graduate because we still have to build up experience in the practical world.

In Eli’s case, he did not reach his destination immediately but his long journey prepared him for the challenge that he was to face in the fulfillment of his duty. His fighting skills were honed roaming the ravaged land and encountering various obstacles and dangers. While stayed true to his objective of reaching the west coast, he didn’t know that someday he would encounter someone who was determined to take the book for himself and do everything and anything to get it.

But his long journey prepared him for destiny crossing paths with Carnegie, a character who knew the relevance of the book that Eli was carrying. Carnegie was the leader of a band of violent bikers ruling over a small town. He had control of everything, including one of the most precious resources, water.

But he wanted more, and he believed that the book is the key to gaining power. He even had gangs of bikers going around the countryside looking for the book. One time he was asked by one of his lackeys why they were being sent out just for a “f*#king book”.

Carnegie answered, “IT’S NOT A F*#KIN’ BOOK! IT’S A WEAPON. A weapon aimed right at the hearts and minds of the weak and the desperate. It will give us control of them. If we want to rule more than one small, fuckin’ town, we have to have it. People will come from all over, they’ll do exactly what I tell ’em if the words are from the book. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. All we need is that book.”

Indeed, the power of the Words in the Bible has been proven. It motivates people, it drives revolutions and it has conquered countries, shaped civilization. A weapon, indeed. But just like any weapon, if not used properly in the way it is meant to be, it can also bring misery to people. Carnegie’s desire to use for his personal agenda is not fiction. We have seen many times when those claiming to be working in God’s name using his Words have in fact been working for their own vested interests. The Bible itself warns us about those kinds of people.

But one of the important messages in the movie regarding the Bible and the Word of God is that the power one gets from it is not in the mere possession of the Book. As Carnegie found out in the end after he was able to get the Book from Eli through force, violence and intimidation, the book is no different from any other pocketbook or magazine if the heart of the one reading it is not in the right disposition. To the evil, the truth in it may be distorted for evil purposes, and to those who lack faith, it is but a mere collection of words and stories that mean nothing.

When Eli and Solara were besieged by Carnegie and his gang, Solara ended up being hostaged by Carnegie and by threatening to kill her, he was able to get Eli to surrender the book. Carnegie then shoots Eli and goes back to his den.

Back home, he is unable to open the locked book, and has to enlist the help of one they call “the Engineer” who then picks the lock and open it. To his surprise and anguish, it turns out that the Bible is a Braille version of the book. It is then that the moviegoer is led to the conclusion that Eli was blind, in spite of having been able to go through his 30 year journey and overcome all the obstacles and challenges.

The worst thing for Carnegie is that the only one who could possibly read it is his blind lover Claudia but whom he has been maltreating over the years. HE asks her to read it for him, but she realizes that she doesn’t have to. With his wounded leg becoming gangrenous, it won’t be long before he kicks the bucket. She mocks him, saying, “You sacrificed so much for that book. So many men. More than you can spare. And now, all the people who were afraid to speak your name, they’re downstairs, tearing up the bar right now, did you know that? And there’s nobody to stop them. And you’re feverish. I can’t imagine what it must feels like, to have something so close, that you worked so hard for, and it might as well be a million miles away.”

Indeed, many have Bibles in their possession yet they either do not read it or they do not comprehend what it is all about. They are blind and ignorant to the message of Truth in the Bible because they lack the necessary attitude and faith needed to understand what is being conveyed.

But the most relevant and striking message is in the end. With the Book in Carnegie’s hands, the moviegoer would think that Eli had already failed his mission. He goes on the West Coast in spite of a bullet wound in his belly and reaches the destination—the island prison of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, which apparently has been turned into a secure repository of culture and literature. He is able to gain entry into the heavily guarded fortress-library by saying that he has the King James Bible with him.

The curator welcomes him and says that the Bible is the only book they do not have since the apocalypse happened. Eli then asks the curator to get some paper (“lots of ‘em”) and instructs him to write down everything he will say, word for word. He then starts to recite the New King James Version of the Bible beginning with Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 1. “In the beginning God created the heaven and earth…”

The message is that the Word of God should not just remain on paper and be one of our possessions as we go through this life. It must be taken in and given a place in our hearts, because only then will it bear fruit in our lives. Paper and ink may be erased or destroyed, but words committed to our memory and its meanings and purposes embedded in our hearts will never be lost nor destroyed.

The Word becomes living when we pass it on to another, not just by the physical transfer of possession by inheritance or gifts, but by teaching others about its wisdom and truth. And by teaching, it is not just by dictation or repetition but more effectively by living it through our daily lives.

Eli says this so profoundly when he told Solara, “In all these years I’ve been carrying it and reading it every day, I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I learned from it. To do more for others than you do for yourself.”

In the final analysis, Eli is us and we are all Elis. We are called to bring the word to where it is safe— in the hearts of our fellow man. We are called not to keep the Word in a bookshelf to gather dust but to pass it on. But before we embark on that mission, we must put the Word in our hearts and live by it. Otherwise, we might end up like Carnegie, living our lives chasing after the wisdom of the Word until we exhaust our last breath.

Money in the Time of Elections

Posted in Inner Thoughts, Politics and Politicians with tags , , , on February 28, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

A candidate who fails to see what’s wrong with handing out money during election season only shows that he has limited understanding of the concept of traditional politics and its ill effects. Worse than the cunning and calculating traditional politician is the naïve and innocently ignorant traditional politician because he is perpetuating the scourge of Philippine political culture and public service without him realizing it.

That kind of tradpol (or trapo, in Philippine political lingo) is personally beyond reform because he thinks he is doing the country a great service although he is unwittingly perpetuating patronage politics. He will always think what he is doing is noble and will only look at those who have an opposing view as detractors to his cause. But for him not to realize the ill effects of his charity, there must be really something wrong with his values orientation and judgment.

What exactly is wrong with giving away money in the time of elections?

Well, it really smacks of vote-buying. During the time of elections, a candidate is only expected to spend money on the production of campaign collaterals, payment of hired personnel, campaign operations and other services. To simply hand over cash to anyone in exchange for nothing, whether voter or non-voter, young or old, male or female, it only serves one purpose—to get votes.

Handing over cash to a child in the time of elections, even if the child cannot vote, only serves to solicit votes for the candidate handing over the cash. Especially if the cash is handed in full view of the public, and even played up in media because during political campaigns, each action of a candidate which is done in public is assumed as a means of attracting votes.

The child who was given money most probably had parents or guardians. Most likely they are voters. And it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the money handed over to the child is indirectly an appeal to the parents or guardians of the child to support the candidate giving the money.

In such a scenario, the appeal goes out not just to the parents or guardians of the child, but also to the observers of the whole event. The message to those who witness such charity is “look at me, I’m so caring I’m giving away money. So vote for me”.

Under normal circumstances, such actions may be considered charity. But during elections, it should be seen as nothing other than vote buying. The circumstances make it so. It might be said that it would be unfair to make that conclusion because the candidate may just be sincere in wanting help, but the circumstances call for better judgment on the part of the candidate giving the money away.

If the candidate had the right sense of values and principles, he would realize by himself that giving money away during elections will only be seen as a political gimmick and perpetuate a practice long identified with the trapo.

A candidate with better judgment, sound discretion and creativity would be able to think of ways to extend help without resorting to giving away money. For example, if a child is hungry, the candidate can buy food and hand it over to the child. There is a world of difference between handing money over to a child and giving the child food to satisfy his hunger, especially during the election season.

To a child, when he receives money from a candidate during campaign season (which they undoubtedly know owing to the streamers, stickers and smiling faces of candidates), he learns that a “good candidate” is a candidate who hands out money. At an early age, their young minds are already being corrupted by practices of traditional politics. What kind of voters will they turn out to be when they grow old?

Having been a candidate myself four times now, I get frustrated and disgusted at voters who return my handshake with the words “wala bang naka ipit na isang daan dyan?” These are the kinds of voters that the young children who were given money by a candidate turn out to be.

A candidate’s failure to discern this effect of this “political charity” says something about his own character and values. It reveals his principles and his views on what the guiding force in the process of selecting the country’s leaders is —“pera pera lang yan”.

A Leader’s Integrity

Posted in Inner Thoughts, Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , on January 11, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

I have experienced it many times, so much that it has become a concern…I say that integrity is an important quality that our next president should have, there would be someone who would object and say, “it is not enough that the president has integrity”. They then emphasize that it should be competence that should first be considered.

I don’t argue against competence being a requirement for a president. In fact, all public officials should be competent. That is an undisputable proposition. But why the seemingly hostile reaction to the statement that a president should be trustworthy?

Why isn’t it possible for these people to say, “yes I agree that a President should possess a high degree of integrity, as well as competence.” Why does it have to be an Either/Or debate?

In selecting a president, it should not be a matter of choosing between integrity and competence. The two should go hand in hand because our country needs a leader who can govern with skill and at the same time the people need a leader whom they can trust.

But for public officials, there is a higher degree of expectation with regard to integrity. In the Philippine Constitution, Article XI, Section 1 states in the first sentence “Public office is a public trust”. By this simple six word sentence, the framers of the Constitution the most important benchmark for those who serve the People—trust.

It does not need to be emphasized that competence is a requirement for public officials. It even comes naturally. It is a rare occasion that an incompetent person rises to the higher levels of public service. Just getting oneself elected has some credit for competence because not everyone can run for office and win. But of course, we should not settle for mediocrity and still demand a high standard of competence for public officials.

Incompetence has no place in public service. But just for the sake of argument, a less competent leader may still be effective by tapping the expertise and competence of those around him. In fact, one of the best qualities of a leader is the ability to harness the talents of those around and under him. Leaders are not expected to do all the work themselves but to gather the strengths of their team to collectively deliver to their constituents.

But integrity is a quality that is exclusive to a person. It cannot be augmented by those who surround the leader. It cannot be borrowed and it cannot be sourced out. That’s why there is a need for it to be a primary consideration aside from other qualities we should look for in a leader.

Which brings me back to the question which prompted me to write this in the first place…why can’t people simply agree that integrity has a premium in the selection of the next president of the country? Why are there counter arguments, justifications, qualifying statements and what-have-you against the statement that integrity is a primary consideration?

For the record, I value competence in a leader. I will not settle for incompetence. But the competent leader should be trustworthy. So will the competent leader with unquestionable integrity please stand up?

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.

A Lesson in Conversation

Posted in Inner Thoughts, Philippines and the Filipinos with tags on December 4, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

This really happened..

I was invited as Guest of Honor and speaker during the anniversary of an academic institution not too long ago. After the ceremonies and the photo opportunities that usually follow such engagements, I was invited to join the college’s officials and faculty for lunch.

It was a good opportunity to get to know the people better and establish linkages. Over lunch, I chatted with several of them who were seated near me. It was a bit difficult, owing to the level of noise in the room, what with everyone talking all at the same time. I had to strain a little to understand the person I was talking to.

One of those I was chatting with was a dean of one of the colleges, who was once connected with a well known NGO doing work around the world. She told me prior to settling down in the college, her work with the NGO brought her to countries like Somalia, Ethiopia, East Timor and other places experiencing extreme poverty and conflict.

I was impressed with her experience. A distinguished looking lady who did serious work not just for the Philippines but the world! And now a dean of a college!

To continue the chat, I told her that my father recently visited Ethiopia and he gave descriptions on how terrible poverty is in that country. He said that going out of the hotel which was supposed to be located in the business district of that country’s capital, beggars lined the sidewalks shoulder to shoulder. So many people mired in poverty and hunger.

Of course she had experienced it first hand and knew exactly Ethiopia’s situation. She concurred with the story and she said, “The biggest problem of Ethiopia is Mass Starvation.”

Maybe it was the way she said it or the noise in the room. Or maybe it was me. But for a moment, I had to pause for what seemed to be an eternity of awkwardness as I processed what I think I heard.

Did she say what i think she said was the problem of Ethiopia? I was trying to keep a poker face as my mind raced in the speed of light, thinking of an appropriate response. Should I ask if people are now going blind or growing hair on their palms? Is it the result of a weakening belief in Church teachings? Moral decay?

The suddenly, I realized…oh, MASS STARVATION! Whew!

The lessons of the story is….1) listen carefully to the one you are conversing with and 2) think before you talk.

I Try to Focus on the Positive…But There Are Heartaches Too

Posted in Inner Thoughts with tags , , , on September 30, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

A few days ago I wrote about how uplifted I was at the outpouring generosity of people who extended helping hands to the victims of typhoon Ondoy. I wrote about the heroism of those who gave even their own lives for others. My eyes moisten when I tell and re-tell the stories of generosity, bravery and sacrifice rising above the misery brought about by the floodwaters of Ondoy.

But it seems that even optimism sometimes gets defeated and discouragement prevails. My eyes still get moist but it’s not because of stories of victory over adversity but because of situations and incidents that drain away all positive energy in me.

Earlier, I wrote about how the best in people are brought out in times like these. I did not mention it before but I’m saying it now, situations like this also bring out the worst in people.

Like our enterprising countrymen who saw the opportunity to earn during this crisis by ferrying people aboard bancas and other improvised floating devices and charging a fee. My constituents tell me that they are charged Fifty Pesos (P 50 ) per head for that ferry service traveling a distance that they used to pay Fifteen Pesos (P 15) for. It’s sad that in this time of need, there are those who take advantage of the situation.

Another instance where the dark side of people come out is seen during the distribution of relief goods. There are those who get more than their share, often resorting to lying, stealing or bullying. People who line up more than once, or in instances where pre-distributed stubs are given out, insist that they just lost their stub and demand to be given relief or swipe the goods straight from the delivery trucks.

An incident happened in one of the evacuation centers here involving a well-known NGO. As the group of the NGO arrived to hand out relief goods, they were met by an eager throng of people all wanting to get the packs of relief goods. The staff of the NGO tried to impose order and told the people to line up to receive the goods. But the people refused to fall in line, and started pushing towards the NGO staff and the relief packs.

The crowd grew more impatient and rowdy and the situation became tense. The NGO staff decided to leave without distributing the goods.

In another incident, two evacuees got into an argument about the relief goods. Tempers grew hot and eventually they had a fight. After a couple of minutes, one walked away and the other had to be carried away straight to the hospital. He was stabbed. Over relief goods.

One would think that such behavior is due to the depressing situation the people are in in the evacuation centers. But even on the other side of the fence—those who give the relief—there are people who show their dark streaks. Workers who, instead of distributing stubs fairly, either choose only those close to them or worse, hoard it for themselves; or pilferages of donated goods by those entrusted with them…these are things that just leave you wondering how people can be so numb to the plight of others while unjustly helping themselves to the goods which were not meant for them.

But as one who has the official and moral responsibility to look after welfare of my constituents, my heartache is most deep when I go home at the end of day, eat a hot meal, take a shower and drop myself on my comfortable bed and then think of the hardship that thousands of my constituents are suffering that moment.

I try to console myself thinking that I was able to make their lives a little bearable, but any consolation immediately crumbles as I remember many more who have yet to receive any assistance.

My constituents are more than just statistics of evacuees to me. Neither are they just votes to go after come election time. Having spent almost nine years as their representative in Congress, I know many of them by name or recognize their faces. I have developed a relationship with my constituents through constant and regular interaction with them through my projects and dialogues. Many of them had me as their wedding sponsor, godfather to their child’s baptism, invited me to their birthday parties and family reunions.

Nowadays my cellphone beeps every few minutes as I receive messages pleading for the delivery of relief goods to my hungry, thirsty and tired constituents. My email and Facebook accounts are no different, with messages calling, crying for help.

It really is a depressing situation. I have tried to put up a brave front and try to focus on the positive. But one can only do so much to avoid giving in. The feeling is not far removed from a situation that we sometimes experience as parents. Imagine this—you have four children all of whom are hungry. But you can only afford to buy food for three. The agony of such a dilemma is the same as the agony now.

What makes it worse and more painful is that not all people know and understand the situation I and others like me are in. What most people only know is that we have the responsibility to respond and any shortcoming is unconscionable. Suspicions about politicians doing relief operations only for votes, accusations of government officials holding back on resources or being choosy on who to give relief to add to the heartache. But it’s part of the job, so all one can do is swallow and continue the work.

Focus on the good. That’s what I keep telling myself. Just focus on the good and do your job well. But once in a while, I think I’m entitled loosen the pressure valve. This job has its fulfilling moments. But it also has heartaches. It is an emotional rollercoaster ride, but thank God, it always ends with hope. Because I end the day with a prayer.