Just Thoughts on Life

After reading Gabriel García Márquez’s A Hundred Years of Solitude a whole week ago or so, it left me feeling suffocated — we inherently take on life’s weatherworn patterns unconsciously and we can never escape it.

Now, I wind up with another semi-sadness inducing book with the same kind of theme. Come to think of it, all books reflect what life is for the living, and they will always show inescapable patterns we have to live through.

No matter how hard anyone tries to make a difference in their life, be it though some form of success or attainment of wealth, living will never equate to freedom.

I therefore still hold true to the cynic in me that has been firmly lodged in since I was 9, after having first read my first Agatha Christie novel.

But as cynicism holds a part of me, there are also a myriad of other things in me, such as hope. Hope for good things to come in life. Hope for good to befall on those who most deserve it. Hope for a better world.

As it is, hope battles cynicism to replace it with optimism permanently. If it ever can.

Or just settle with both ever present.


A short stint as Editor-in-Chief

I’m no crazy young EIC for any magazine or newspaper as the title might suggest, but we did create a little one-time-only magazine as a final project for a major elective. We were grouped into different teams, each tasked to create a magazine that was socio-economically relevant.

And that we did.

While everyone got to have five people to share their burden with, our team only had four people. I’m not entirely sure who said it, but it was because we were all pretty competent people that the professor deemed us capable of managing a whole magazine with just the four of us. We did manage it, with 2 days of me having stayed in school for the first time past midnight (that was not Cookout related). It was kind of scary because the computer lab is haunted, but I never felt anything out of the ordinary, so I guess I’m relatively unscathed from hauntings.

Before I forget and get carried away though, here’s the link to our output (which has a QR code that links to the PDF copy of our output; not the printed copy, of course):


Anyhow, back to what I was saying…

Aside from being scared of seeing some strange apparition, I was also extremely scared of failing my team. As I was the EIC, every single little detail that could go wrong or I may have overlooked will be completely my fault. This was a huge burden on my shoulders and it caused me great worry. On top of that, I was also writing and helping with the final layout. It was stressful, to say the least.

But somehow, I found it exhilarating.

I didn’t really think I could survive, but I did. We did. Our team did amazingly and was the first to receive a “nice” compliment from our very meticulous and detail-oriented professor. It was a great honour and something of which I am proud of for my team.

She liked the layout, the photos, and where we headed with our articles. Save for the missing captions on all of our photos, I can hazard a guess that we kind of did pretty alright in her eyes. But throughout this whole process, I felt like I did nothing. I mean, I was there for each step we took and I also managed the printing, alongside getting the PowerPoint and website ready (including QR codes and Flip Book needed), but because there was no “concrete” output I made that was all my own, I felt like a useless hack who just rode along.

Am I just really hard on myself? Do I have a heavy bout of impostor syndrome?

I did lead the team and was there all throughout the way as best as I could…

Well, maybe I’d manage well working for a magazine or newspaper if it were just to get articles by the deadlines. I could even do well helping out with the layout and the photos. But I might not be cut out to be an EIC, until I can prove myself worthy of such a title…

Still proud of my team for what we achieved though, no doubt about that.


Featured Image: That was NOT taken by me, but was the cover of our magazine.

On the matter of debuts

In my honest opinion, debuts are an unnecessary extravagance and more a show of vanity than of practical use for anyone.

A debut, a.k.a a debutante ball, is held as a form of introducing young ladies from aristocratic/upper class families to “polite society” in the old days. Considering that the term “debut” dates back to mid 18th century France and that affluent families usually held these balls to announce their young lady is of marrying age (invited guests also come from money/power), I never did quite see why it’s such a big deal now except as a show of wealth.

Aside from a waste of money that could have been used to help those in need instead (or saved), it goes towards this…thing (that’s more Western in origin than anything, and more for the sake of establishing alliances between families in business/power).

Those often than not one-time use expensive gowns, the hoarde of food, the fancy-looking cake, and whatever else is there at these things seems more a support towards capitalism than anything else in my eyes.

Are debuts still really necessary?

Anyhow, I’m not a girl from an aristocratic family that needs to be married off to the highest bidder, nor does our family have extra money to splurge, so I never saw value in debuts. I’m also more oriented towards practical matters, like saving for any rainy day in the future.

TL;DR: There’s just too much poverty around us for debuts to even factor in. There may be a standard that was set long ago on what debuts should be like and many examples that exist even today on how extravagant they must be, but why ride along on this bandwagon?

Note: The writer of this little rant is averse to celebrating her own birthday (and often forgets her own age when asked for it — she staunchly believes that age is just a number and that what matters is how old one feels inside) and was against having a debut (her parents happily obliged with her wish) due to her views that they seem vain and more a waste of money than anything.

Anti-Human Trafficking and Anti-OSEC Efforts

Visited a home for human trafficked survivors today and met amazing young women (some less than 18 years of age) who shared their stories of pain and darkness. But what’s most inspiring is their faith in God and the strength they’ve found.

It’s a struggle for many of them to trust people again, but with great faith, prayers, support, and time, I hope for their healing.

I also applaud the people who work in this field for their perseverance even if the situation becomes too dire throughout the world. They never lose hope and continue the fight.

Campaigns to end human trafficking, and now OSEC, need our support. Report anything suspicious, for it can save a young child’s life. And remember that victims aren’t just female, but can also be male as well.

A Graduation and the Pyramid

I’m still exhausted from yesterday, but nevertheless, another new day to rise up to and live on.

And what happened yesterday was the UP Cebu graduation, wherein JP finally put a cap to his school life (kinda NOT literally…UP sablay just got moved from one shoulder to the other — no caps were present nor thrown). Life awaits him now, and I’d say he’s pumped for it.

I wasn’t graduating. I still have another year at UP Cebu. But seeing all those people finally getting out, like being freed from a really long 18+ year sentence, is something to behold. The music was of utmost help to the celebratory mood as well.

And with the guest speaker being none other than the Hon. Manuel B Villar Jr. founder of Camella Homes and with a speech that focused on entrepreneurship, I was extremely inspired, just as JP was. And for good measure, I voice recorded the whole speech just to have it when I need inspiring the most.

After the graduation, we got a ride to The Pyramid by his uncle. We’d booked a table at the place the night previous to yesterday and I was eager to try out their food.

And as food goes, it was pretty great. Pricey though, with a very limited menu that isn’t very large-gathering friendly. Since 12 people were invited, we needed a lot of food, but with each dish costing around PHP 150+, it would’ve been more ideal if there were more group deals available aside from the Father’s Day special (which we ultimately chose, plus some other dishes).

Since we ordered in advance, I kept a photo of the list:

The corkage fee also isn’t very inviting for cake-essential events since said corkage fee is twice the price of the cake (or outside food) that gets brought into The Pyramid and eaten there. BUT if you want to just take photos with the cake (or other outside food) without eating it, there’s no corkage.

They do sell beautiful cake at the place for PHP 1,000+ a cake.

It WAS a pretty place though, with a great view at night.

They also have a great selection of wine.

In any case, it isn’t much of a place if you’re going for more of a feed-many-people-with-group-deals kind of a place. But if you do want a fancy place for a fancy date (or just have the money to splurge on good expensive food with no budget limit), then this is the place to go, since they do have many great solo meals.

As for being chosen as JP’s graduation dinner venue, it was not bad at all. Quite luxurious actually

The Rivers


First and foremost, a river, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a natural stream of water of usually considerable volume”. And often the case seen throughout history, they had major roles in the birth of civilisations; from the great and famous Egyptian civilisation, starting when it was unified around 3100 B.C. to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., that developed with the help of the Nile to the Chinese civilisation that sprung forth from the “the Mother River”/”the Cradle of the Chinese civilization” the Yellow River. Simply, rivers aided in agricultural pursuits and since many people back in those days were agriculturally inclined folks, it just fit perfectly.


The significance of the river

Some very interesting legends have arisen regarding rivers. One of the more popular myths in Ancient Egypt, and one that also has varying accounts as old myths often do, was that of Osiris being ripped into pieces by his jealous and volatile younger brother Set, right after tricking him into laying in a coffin. There was a whole movie about this specific legend regarding Horus avenging his father Osiris back in 2016. The movie was “Gods of Egypt”, if I recall correctly.

Anyway, in the legend, Isis, Osiris’ wife (definitely NOT the infamous terrorist group in the Middle East), picked up all 36 pieces of him and put him back together, but because she couldn’t find the rest of him, including his penis, he was less than alive. So this made him the Lord of the Afterlife instead of being what he was before – the king of all the living, having been the successor of his father Ra. But the point is, because of what had happened, with his penis having been dropped into the river and eaten by a crocodile, the river became a symbol of fertility, which is very true to its nature as the origin point of most civilisations, giving life to the people on land.

As it has been said, the Nile was equated with life: when the Nile flooded, it brought prosperity and fertility to the life surrounding it, but if it didn’t rise enough, famine would take over. If it rose too much, floods abound and people would lose their homes (which were often made from clay).

While nurturing to the people living near it as a mother would be to her children, the river’s duality also exhibits an entity capable of great destruction.

In Chinese folklore, He Bo was the “Earl of the Yellow River” an ancient deity who was once a mortal human, but was pitied by the Celestial Emperor when he drowned in the river, so he turned him into a water god in the shape of a white dragon. In some other accounts, he was a fish with a human face.

Myths and folklores, y’know. They’re never really clear…

At one point in time, he was very violent with his management of the Yellow River, many devastating floods, and so he lost his left eye due to the brilliant aim of this famous archer named Hou Yi. Point is, offerings were regularly brought to the Lord of the Yellow River and his wife so as to appease the floods. Or for the souls of the people that had drowned in the floods as well.

In these two examples, it can be perfectly seen how people of old saw rivers as both bearers of great bounty or the wrathful vengeance from the gods on wrong deeds done.


Cause of river pollution

But let’s get back to reality.

During the Industrial Revolution that began in Britain in the late 1700 by producing manufacture products in homes using hand tools or basic machines. As these industries are usually built near rivers or lakes, the waste products from the industries are released into them. And as more people migrated to large industrial cities, the more densely populated cities became. Now, during this time, methods for human and animal waste disposal were quite primitive. Some did have drainage systems, but they just weren’t sanitary enough.

A third of households contained no latrines in Manchester at the time and the infrastructures that do would be collect in cesspits under the buildings and, more often than not, drained into rivers. These very rivers were also the source of drinking water, which led to people becoming ill. London is a great example of this. Sewage draining was often leaked into the River Thames, even though it was a major drinking source for the people of London. This led to a Cholera Epidemic and the Great Stink in July and August 1858 during which the hot weather worsened the smell of untreated human and industrial waste that was on the banks of the River Thames.

In the case of the Thames, it was considered biologically dead for many years because of these events.

The exact number of how many rivers there are in the world is hard to pinpoint, but it’s safest to say that there are thousands of rivers, both major and minor, with the longest river being that of the Amazon River, running a course of approximately 6,992 km.

But all these rivers are facing a crisis – a man-made crisis. River pollution is becoming a common factor among many of them. Some are fortunate, however, for being treated with utmost care.


Causes of River Pollution

What, then, are the causes of river pollution, you ask? Rapid growth in industrialization, with their liquid waste being dumped into rivers. Air is also polluted due to industrialization, which leads to acid rain. Some agricultural practices wherein chemical fertilisers and pesticides are used also contribute to river pollution through runoffs, as rainwater drains these chemicals into rivers. Domestic wastage, wherein rivers suffer the brunt of household garbage, and as populations grow with no education on river cleanliness, they will continue to dump into rivers.

Heavy metals like cadmium, lead, nickel, and zinc can wash off into streams that lead to rivers from ore-smelting industries where they’re being mined and processed.

All these have just turned rivers into sewage carrying drains that is bringing carnage to our wildlife, which is pretty shameful to have done to an element of nature known for its grace, tranquillity, and life-sustaining properties.


What are the most polluted rivers?

According to HelpSaveNature.com, the following are three of the top 10 most polluted rivers in the world:

  1. Marilao River, Philippines
    1. Hazardous non-recyclable objects like plastic bottles and rubber slippers are normally found floating on it.
    2. All sorts of toxic industrial waste products are dumped into the river each day.
    3. Household garbage is also discarded in astonishing quantities.
  2. Yellow River, China
    1. 2nd longest river in Asia and 6th longest in the world
    2. Once considered the cradle of Chinese civilization and main source of drinking water, but now 1/3 of it is unusable.
    3. About 4.29 billion tons of industrial waste and sewage was discharged into it in 1996.
    4. The river water also turned red of late in Lanzhou City due to some unidentified contaminant from a local industry
  3. Ganges River, India
    1. Considered the holiest river in Hinduism.
    2. Ranked one of the five most polluted rivers in 2007.
    3. The pollutants range from toxic industrial waste to sewage to plastics and innumerable religious offerings made to the river each day.
    4. People bathe in the ‘holy’ waters, wash their clothes, cook on its banks, and dispatch dead bodies.
    5. According to a recent study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Ganges is so full of toxic pollutants that people staying close to its banks are more susceptible to cancer than anywhere else in India.


Any noteworthy successful cleaning operations?

In 1957, the Natural History Museum declared the Thames biologically dead. But in recent years, it has made a turn from the worst, with some living organisms now found within, living their lives. In 1960s onward, when London’s sewage system was slowly being improved was there any noticeable change for the river. There are now 125 species of fish in the Thames, which is more than almost none in the 1950s.

Between the 1970s and 1980s, environmental awareness increased and more people became concerned over runoffs that contained pesticides and fertilizers. Regulations tightened and this is known to be one of the factors that has aided in improving the Thames’ conditions.

Chris Coode, the deputy chief executive of Thames21, a charity dedicated to improving London’s waterways, has even said he is most excited about the return of the sea lampreys.

“They’re ancient, jawless, eel-like creatures that latch onto the sides of larger fish and suck their juices out. They are very sensitive to pollution.”


New technology that’s helped improve river pollution conditions?

New tech has been developed in recent years to clean water in general and these technologies are quite applicable in river terms.

As CNN Tech reported, moss can be used as a water treatment method. David Knighton was on a return flight from Europe a few years back and was reading an article on how injured WWI soldiers who had their wounds staunched with sphagnum moss had higher survival rates than those that used cotton. Being a retired surgeon (from the Minneapolis-area), he applied his medical knowledge and researched in old medical journals to confirm his theory that moss had antibacterial properties. Now, he’s the CEO of Creative Water Solutions, and they use a variety of moss to purify water. They package moss for residential swimming pools and spas, and they also crated a ton of moss for larger industrial applications. With cleaner water at these levels, the water that may end up getting dumped will also be cleaner.

“As with any disruptive technology, sales take a while because people just don’t believe you,” he said, as their sales growing by 30-40% every year, with their tech employed by more industrial facilities and residential pools.

There’s also another tech called the PhyloChip that helps pinpoint sources of water contamination. It is a device that’s the size of a credit card, and is capable of detecting the presence of more than 60,000 species of bacteria and archaea. Plus this method has been found to be more sensitive than conventional methods at assessing health risks.  It has successfully detected contamination in the Russian River watershed, which came from human sources close to areas where communities rely on aging septic tanks.

This method doesn’t distinguish between sources­ though. The bacteria could have come from humans, cows, ducks, sewage, or even decaying vegetation. However, it has had quite a success story in terms of where it’s been applied.

The PhyloChip, which was developed by Andersen and several other Berkeley Lab scientists, has been used for “a number of medical, agricultural, and environmental purposes, including understanding air pollution, the ecology of coral reefs, and environmental conditions of the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill. With 1 million probes, it has identified microbes based on variations of a specific gene, with no culturing needed.”

They are now working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for “next generation compliance.” Its goal is to develop a method that’s downsized from what the PhyloChip is capable of for universal application in any location and by non-experts.


How can the clean state of rivers be maintained?

As prepared by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, these are some simple and common-sensical things they’ve said that would maintain river health:

  • Use mulch and vegetation to keep soil from washing away.
  • Sweep or rake grass and leaves away from street curbs.
  • Mulch and compost grass clippings and leaves.
  • Keep paved surfaces to a minimum.
  • Capture water runoff with a rain garden and rain barrels.
  • Wash your car on the grass, where the water will get filtered.
  • Keep chemicals away from storm drains.
  • Collect your pet’s waste.
  • Aim your rain-gutter downspouts onto grass.



9 tips for keeping our lakes and rivers clean. (2017, May 18). Retrieved from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/featured/9-tips-keeping-our-lakes-and-rivers-clean

Chao, J. (2016, October 4). New Technology Helps Pinpoint Sources of Water Contamination. Retrieved from Berkeley Lab: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2016/10/04/new-technology-helps-pinpoint-sources-water-contamination/

Dictionary, M.-W. (2018). River. Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/river

Fassbender, M. (2008). The Importance of River Valleys to Ancient Civilizations. Retrieved from Michael Fassbender: Depth and Integration: http://michaeltfassbender.com/nonfiction/ancient-history/the-importance-of-river-valleys-to-ancient-civilizations/

Foundation, J. (1998). River Pollution: Causes, Actions and Revivals. New Delhi.

Hardach, S. (2015, November 12). How the River Thames was brought back from the dead. Retrieved from BBC.com: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20151111-how-the-river-thames-was-brought-back-from-the-dead

Hargreaves, S. (2015, June 3). 3 cool technologies that could save the world’s water. Retrieved from CNN: http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/02/technology/water-cleaning-technology/index.html

Mark, J. J. (2009, September 2). Nile. Retrieved from Ancient History Encyclopedia: https://www.ancient.eu/nile/

Ragab. (2016, July 15). The Ancient Mythology of the Nile. Retrieved from Luxor Travels: http://www.luxortravels.com/blog/the-ancient-mythology-of-the-nile/

Tha, N. Y. (2013, May 26). The Impact Of Industrialization On Water Pollution Environmental Sciences Essay. Retrieved from https://www.uniassignment.com/essay-samples/environmental-sciences/the-impact-of-industrialization-on-water-pollution-environmental-sciences-essay.php

Theobald, U. (2012, January 23). He Bo 河伯, the Earl of the Yellow River. Retrieved from China Knowledge.de: An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art: http://www.chinaknowledge.de/History/Myth/personshebo.html

Wise, W. (2018). Substances Causing Pollution in Rivers . Retrieved from Water Wise: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.waterwise.co.za/water/environment/substances.html&num=1&strip=1&vwsrc=0

World’s Top 10 Most Polluted Rivers: The Names Will Scare You. (2018). Retrieved from HelpSaveNature: https://helpsavenature.com/top-ten-most-polluted-rivers-of-world



Unplug – A Video Poem

Poem: Unplug
Written and Voiced by: Claire Jirah Dacay
Animated by: Judalyn Ferrer and Rafelle Marie Timog Allego

Music: Everdream Composer: Cesc Vila Aulina (SGAE)
Album: Sigma (https://itunes.apple.com/fr/album/sig…)

The music used can also be found here:

This was created as the final output for our Media Production class. Roughest of animation attempts, but it was fun making it. Sound kind of a fail though…but we’re pretty lucky to have found a song that matched the feel we wanted though!

Every day you hear the monotonous hum of your phone turning on
Then get sucked into this world where you live through other people’s lives
And you continue to walk on your own path while wishing you were in someone else’s
Suddenly you see your hair isn’t as shiny as hers
Your belly not as tight as his
And you spiral down into a hole of self-pity and eventual personal destruction.

Your cup of coffee turns into a cropped photo, all in for the show
Because what else can you do? What else needs to be done?
We show how to live a life all at the same time losing it all for the gram
This facade you keep while slowly losing your grip
Like an addiction, but far, far worse

We rush and run and go round and round
And we sometimes just forget to STOP
And look around
Look at yourself, do you still think you’re you?

You want to run the short marathon to nab the trophy that shines
Not realizing the best marathon won has the longest miles
We see what we don’t have and translate that as having less
We feel broke, we feel empty, we feel alone and we feel depressed
And we find the need to quickly succeed, telling the world I’m gonna be rich, you’ll see.
But silver and gold don’t hug you when you sleep,
And popularity don’t count when you’re 7 meters underneath
You are more than a deadline
You are squiggles of rights and wrongs and boundless possibilities
A seed that can grow into any tree
Cultivated not by the thoughts around you, but your thoughts about everything else

You see, you forget that you can be anything
Because at times you already see yourself as a nothing
Which puts a dot into a sentence that was never meant to end.
When you go outside you can see that the trees don’t compete with the bushes
When you wake up you don’t even realize your body worked hard to keep you alive
Drink your water, walk with your friends, and eat your greens
Whether the sun rays hit your cheeks or the rain kisses your feet

Because you’ve been living way too fast and you don’t know how to slow down

All this time you wonder why. Maybe, just maybe, that’s all because you forgot.
To unplug