One of the good things that came out of this pandemic is an increased awareness of mental health. One of the few things I picked up on during this time is the concept of gaslighting.

Gaslighting is when one person unintentionally or intentionally misleads another, creating a false narrative and making them question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, even uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability. 

No two people remember an event in exactly the same way. Everyone may have different memories of the same event. Gaslighting can happen when you challenge, question, or discredit another’s memories based solely on your perspective, on your say so. 

This can happen between parents and kids. The parent has a view of what happened, the kid has a different story. The parent would insist that their version is the way it happened. And because of the parent/authority relationship, the kid ends up believing it even if it really wasn’t so. Unfortunately, this is very damaging to the child’s mental health. 

To avoid unintentionally gaslighting, you should not insist on your perspective of an event if there is no empirical evidence or record of how it transpired. Rather, respect each others’ perspectives, agree to disagree, or at least give it the benefit of the doubt. Even if, or especially if, you’re talking to a child. 

Lolo Mike

Earlier my wife had an impulse to visit her mom. Which prompted me to share about a friend recently losing her mom. It was also my way of supporting and encouraging her to visit. Life is short. My wife then asked our youngest if she wanted to come along. She was reluctant so, to encourage her, I told her about my grandfather who passed away when I was in Grade 2, same as she is now.

His name was Lolo Mike. He was one of the most interesting people I know. He was a guerrilla who fought against the Japanese in World War 2. He told us how he had a grenade after the war that he had to bury because my dad was asking what the cacao-like thing is on the shelf. He was a photographer and had a studio. He was musically inclined, he played the violin and tried to teach my brother and I the ukulele and guitar. He was also a craftsman, he tried to teach us how to craft nets. He taught us chess and I still play chess. He read us books and that was one of the reasons why I love reading. But above these, he had a lot of knowledge and wisdom that he imparted to us grandkids.

As I ended my story, I hoped I was able to impress on our daughter the joy of grandparents and valuing the precious time to be with them. As for me, it was a reminder that remembering them, they are with us.

My Parents

It’s post-Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is almost here. The events of the past two years of pandemic have been a reminder to me that life is short and that you shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. So here I am writing something to somehow honor my mother and my father.

I’ll start with the usual, they’re the best parents ever. I could just stop there and that’d be typical of me. But for this time, I’ll go ahead and crunch out some more words than my usual.

Probably the most important lesson my siblings and I got from my parents is faith. Not religiosity but more of spirituality. Growing up, we we’re pretty non-denominational. We were either Catholic and/or Born Again.

In any case, we were raised with solid Christian values. Proverbs 22:6 says “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” And that pretty much sums up how my parents are to me and my siblings, in faith and in everything else. Because of this, I’m glad to say, we had a quite trouble-free childhood, youth, and even adulthood.

They also taught us the value of learning. Both my parents were teachers and they are two of the smartest people I know. They are very passionate about learning so school was very important. We had to study and study and study some more.

We did have an advantage at school because they taught Mathematics and Biology, two of the tougher subjects. We got unlimited tutoring on those though sometimes the sessions did end in tears. But by and large they were successful and I’m left with only Filipino and Araling Panlipunan as my biggest challenges. Until now they’re challenges… in homeschooling the kids.

They also taught us the value of working with our hands. We didn’t do it too much because we were blessed with some help at the house. But I think we did enough to learn and appreciate it.

Inside the house, we made our own beds, folded our own clothes, put to order our own lockers, cleaned the floor, cooked, set the table, and washed the dishes. Even bathroom and toilet cleanup.

Outside on the yard, we dug holes, watered the hedge (with a pail and dipper, no hose), cleaned the yard, cleaned the roof, gathered and split wood. One summer I even did some carpentry: I installed the walls of the greenhouse after the carpenters set up the frame and roof.

Beyond being great parents day to day, I witnessed them do heroic stuff. There are a few that I vividly remember.

Once, we were in a passenger jeep waiting for it to fill. There was this baby/toddler being carried by his mother and he was staring with glassy eyes at me. I stared back and was contemplating the possible reasons when I was startled by the mother hysterically screaming something about convulsion. I was scared and confused but my mom wasn’t. She leapt into action putting a wet cloth on the baby’s forehead and directing the driver to go to the campus infirmary. I was pretty much convinced she saved that baby’s life.

She’s got healing powers, my mom. All of us siblings, never ever spent a day confined in a hospital. We do get sick, especially sickly me. But she’s both our doctor and nurse and was always there till we get better.

It doesn’t stop with healing powers.

There’s this time when a student who failed a course went to the house of his teacher, our neighbor across the street. He was drunk and he had a lead pipe (or was it something else?) with him. The hapless teacher tearfully went across the street to our house with the guy shouting and holding the pipe menacingly following her. My mom met them at the gate and placated the guy and successfully defused the situation.

We lived in a university town, the main campus of one of the country’s best universities. As I mentioned earlier, both my mom and dad were teachers. Like our neighbor across the street, they had to deal with disgruntled students and bad people threatening bodily harm.

At least twice, armed men visited the house as we were having dinner. As soon as we hear them coming, we would quickly turn off the lights. The men outside would ask for my dad and either my mom or one of my aunts would tell them he’s not around. They would then leave after several tense minutes.

Some teachers were injured or even killed.

One foggy evening, we heard a commotion in the alley beside our house. Suddenly there were two shots and then a blood-curdling scream for help. Then more shots. My mom and dad ran outside and helped the victims, a couple. My dad on his own carried the guy who was shot to the bench of the store in front of our house. My mom helped the lady into our house and waited for transportation to the hospital. Unfortunately, the guy later died.

But despite these dangers, my mom and dad continued teaching and working at the university. By the time they retired, they had taught thousands of students. These students went on to help build the country, even the world, as engineers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, and, of course, teachers who went on and taught the next generation. That’s the exponential superpower of teachers, and of my parents.

Speaking of superpowers, my dad was in the reserve officer training corps and there’s this photo of him doing a commando crawl rope traverse. There were no videos back then but I could just imagine him gliding over trees, cliffs, and rivers as Superman would… only with a rope.

And another time, the family was strolling around the campus and passed by the university library. It’s a unique building shaped like a fort with steep sloping walls. My dad decided to try scaling the wall. As we waited atop the wall, he tried and crawled up the wall like Spiderman would. I was in awe!

The truth is both of them are my heroes, my role models, my mom, my dad. I am ever grateful to our Father in heaven for them.

Mom, Dad, Belated happy Mother’s Day and advanced happy Father’s Day! I love you.


Went with the family on a year-ender trip on the roads of Bicol. We left late at around 9:30AM to avoid meeting the typhoon head-on. The sky was already clearing through our route and it was already sunny by the time we arrived at Gumaca by around 1. We we’re looking for Lita’s Eatery but we missed it. We ended up having our lunch at Jollibee.

From Gumaca, everything was fined. Except, rhe roads between Sipocot and Libmanan which were terrible. It made me think that no matter what you think of the Marcoses, at least they know how to take care of their constituents. The roads in faraway Ilocos were much better maintained. The people in charge in this part of Bicol apparently doesn’t.

Going into Naga, we got caught up in a traffic jam. That’s when we noticed the extent of the destruction wrought by the typhoon. Toppled posts, torn roofs, and pigs out of their pens. It was around 8PM when we finally got through to Naga. We quickly checked in to Nagaland Hotel. The hotel and its restaurant was crowded so we went out for dinner. Most of the places were also crowded and we ended up at Crown Park which was still crowded but we were able to get a table.

The next day, we had breakfast at Graceland then went around Naga. We went to San Francisco Church and Quince Martires ParkPorta Mariae and the Metropolitan Cathedral. After the walk, we went and had ice cream at First Colonial. The chili and pili ice cream flavors are definitely must tries.

To avoid traffic, we decided to leave earlier than planned and just have lunch somewhere along the way. But we ended up in a traffic jam nonetheless. And it was bigger and slower than the previous day’s. It only got better after Baao. By then it was dark.

Then at San Miguel, the road onward was flooded so we had to take a detour to Iriga. But even the way towards the detour was flooded. It was nerve-wracking driving slowly through the almost-knee deep waters. But thankfully we got through. We went on to the detour through Iriga and finally reached Guinobatan around 8PM. We quickly checked in to Casa Basilisa just barely making it before their restaurant’s last call. Because we  lost half a day, we decided to extend our stay in Bicol for another day. Luckily, there were available rooms.

The next day, we went to Cagsawa Ruins and then Legazpi City to have lunch at Sibid-sibid. We also check out Lignon HillSleeping Lion/Kapuntukan Hill, and Embarcadero. We tried to have dinner at Bigg’s Diner but the food looked like regular fare. We tried to go to First Colonial but they were closing (so early). We ended up at Shakey’s. Regular fare. Yesh.

The next day, we went back to Cagsawa to ride the ATVs. Best decision! The ATV ride was a blast! And the view of Mayon was even better than the previous day. The sky was clearer and, with the ATVs, we were able to move closer and have a less-cluttered (with people) view. Pretty much satisfied with our adventure, we returned to Casa Basilisa and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and relaxing.

We left very early the next day to avoid traffic. We made good time and had our breakfast somewhere past Naga. However, traffic was congested heading into Quezon. Still, we made good time and were in Gumaca by around 1. We had lunch. At Jollibee. Again.

After lunch we headed on. I decided it may be a good idea to pass through Lucban. It was actually good going along the back country roads until somewhere between Lucena and Lucban, James’ car suffered a flat. The whole tire was totaled as he hadn’t immediately noticed it had gone flat. His spare was in good condition but needed additional air. Good thing I had an automatic inflator in my road kit. After a few minutes, we were back on the road.

Then every town we passed, Lucban, Liliw, Majayjay, Nagcarlan turned out not to have bypass roads. We had to pass right through the narrow (and busy) roads of each and every town. We finally reached Calauan and had late dinner at Kamayan sa Palaisdaan. After that we proceeded home through Bay, Los Banos, then SLEX.

Another fun road trip with the family!

13th Lagare Clan Reunion

We attended the 13th Lagare clan reunion which just happened to be organized by our branch of the clan. It’s my first time to attend and I was astonished by so many relatives. I’m glad to have met some and seen even more. Till next time!