Monday, December 17, 2018

A Critical Question

How does one intend to leave this world, to shake off the mortal coil aside, as they say?

As an infirm man, having difficulties caring for oneself?  Utterly broken down and bereft of much value as a functioning human entity?

Or as a man still up to the manifold challenges with the arduous tasks of living?  With plenty of value and usefulness as a human being.  A productive and contributing member of society, rather than a burden. With still a storehouse of value to offer, and still able to do good.

When one trades a temporal thing for another, do we bring a completely rundown thing with the earnest hope of getting something with incomparable value in return?  Or do we present something that is still essentially valuable and desirable?  And thus be somewhat worthy of the trade.

I do believe we like to bring to the table something of value in exchange.  A still serviceable human life in exchange for eternity. 

Not an almost moribund being  with only a slight glimmer of life left, breathing hard and grudgingly desiring release from the onerous vicissitudes of simply living.  Where nothing much else is left to live for.  Where continued living itself has become the burden.

Thus, taking the role of a smart and logical negotiator of our destiny, we ask ourselves this question when we consider our demise.

I say let us bring before the Lord a life still filled with promises and hope, and workable usefulness, in exchange for the incomparable life of eternity.  In other words, value for value.  Temporal value for eternal value.

The value of human life is derived mainly in its sense of integrity and purpose.  And yes, including in its capacity to partake of temporal pleasures and worldly enjoyment. All human life is assigned similar value, differentiated and categorized only by the purposes for which it is lived.

If the human life is simply a hollow shell of what it was before, then it has very greatly diminished temporal value.

While all this may seem logical and understandable, others could opine that the analysis is not tenable.

The human life that is being traded for eternity is not the physical entity one sees, one that has been ravaged by time and elements.  It is what that shell of a life represents.  The spiritual treasures it has accumulated and stored during the sojourn we call life.

While the life may be spent, the treasures gathered endure and hold value.  And that is what will be measured in the momentous barter exchange to be made, in the journey from time to eternity.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Why the World Hates Donald Trump

In one Superman movie, sweetheart reporter Lois Lane pens a Pulitzer-winning piece entitled,   Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.  And we learned later that this curt dismissal stems deeper than her reporter’s ken.  Superman had left her emotionally hanging without a good-bye, but laden heavy with child.  But the movie ends with Superman back to his crime-fighting ways with the world back to his side.  Up, up and away!

Now it seems the world has already penned its own poison piece against this outlier of a president, Donald J. Trump.
Every time I read or hear criticism about Donald Trump, a panoply of emotions rush to try and take control of me.  At times it is the uneasy feeling of amusement especially if coming from people I truly believe ought to know better.  At times it is simply irritation, maybe because of the shrouded pettiness of the charge.  At times frustration that not much earnest effort had been expended to know and understand underlying intent on statements or actions coming from Trump.  In these chaotic times, it is a big challenge trying to discern the truth from fiction, especially because the revered institutions that people had relied for so long appear to have abandoned their impartiality and fairness. And at times, nonchalance or disinterest, maybe because really, the loathsomeness against the man appears consumptive and contagious.  And maybe, there are more latent emotions rushing to find expression.

Anyway, I thought maybe I ought to find out why so many loathe the guy, almost like every other person on earth is expressing similar feelings. So here is my list of the reasons why Trump is so hated.

Almost to the man or woman, from top to bottom all members of the Democratic Party show their disdain at most anything and everything Trump does.  Especially true to the real ideologues in the party of which there are many and in control.  They could not imagine in their wildest dreams that this annoying parody of an accomplished and strait-laced politician or statesman could win against who they perceived as a very accomplished and seasoned candidate, though admittedly with a very checkered past, but a woman at that.  But lost they did, and in a manner decorated with so much drama and aplomb. And so the hate fest begun.

Trump was never a politician, and never even pretended to be one and thus never even tried to exhibit the nuances expected from one.  He was simply an unrefined and hardened businessman nurtured in a very brutal place like New York.  And I believe because he won being himself, he found no extenuating reasons to materially change his personality in his new role as president.  And thus many including those within his own party do not find this acceptable or commendable.  And thus in this great number, Trump finds many detractors, some vocal while others are silent.

In many respects, Trump the outlier candidate still has not awakened to the fact that he is now the President of the strongest and most influential country in the world, and with it, as Spiderman declared, comes great responsibility.  Thus in many ways Trump the President continues in his merry wayward ways like he still is the reality TV guy, forever aiming for higher ratings and feasting on the global attention, which many will say all feed into his outsized ego.  And many polite and erudite members of the establishment elites of all sectors cannot forgive him for this blatant shortcoming.  And they have not been sparing in their lashing at him at every turn.  Trump is only lonely man at the top!

And most of all, many loathe Trump because of his bad manners and at times the glaring absence of politeness or reservation.  Many in politics or other high places also exhibit bad manners, but nobody is President like Trump. The hate is aggravated thus when they see him displaying bad manners as President which office is supposed to symbolize everything virtuous about the country.  This is regardless of whether those we criticize him truly believe in all these and practice them in their lives and roles.  They just hate him more.  And Trump for his part is almost completely oblivious of this, and will not even make token efforts at redemption or reparation.  He is just Trump being Trump.  The hate fest continues, grows, and engulfs a good part of the globe.

And oh, they hate him because of his “collusion with Russia” on the election.  At this point everything is still perceived and hearsay because after over a year, nothing to bolster the claim has been revealed or leaked by the special counsel.  Save for some indictments, only vaguely related to the charge.  And in the meantime, several high-ranking heads in the DOJ and FBI have come out of the chopping block, pointing unerringly  to the ugly presence of what many call the Deep State.

Meanwhile, what has his presidency done to the country, which is what he was mandated to do in the first place with his historic election?   The electorate after all was not looking for a saint, but somebody to put the country back on track given how much it has strayed from its committed goals.

All the good stuff listed below are necessarily put alongside the performances of not only the immediately preceding administration, but even beyond because some of his numbers are staggering.  And where does one begin?

Unemployment at historic lows, from all sectors of the populace, for all minorities.  Overall labor participation soaring.

The once anemic economy is moving at a fast clip.  In GDP increases, markets, etc.  Very significant tax cuts had immediate unexpected effects on the economy

Regulations that were emasculating many sectors of the economy were reversed or eased up to allow them to grow. An industry or two dismissed as on the extinction path have been revived.

No. Korea and other traditional adversaries or competitors are suddenly amenable  to come to the negotiating table.  And to enact fairer provisions and concessions.  Etc.

The Supreme Court now poised to strictly interpret the Constitution, rather than having it legislate from the bench in an activist fashion.  Just what the majority of the electorate would be comfortable with.

And there are more, some more discernible, others stealthily moving in our midst.

Overall, Trump has delivered on the promises he made to the electorate.  And though very sharp divisions exist within its rank, still that is how things move in a democracy.

The bane of Obamacare that festered almost since it was passed was somehow defanged when no palatable replacement could be proposed by the ruling party.   The democrats had even used it as a viable platform issue during the last election.  And by and large it has moved to the plus column for them given the results of the election.
And yes, everybody including past presidents was for the wall and border security, until Trump decided that he too wanted to get along.  Now, he is the racist and isolationist.

But how will this nightmarish milieu end?  Who knows!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hypocrisy Dressed as Charity?

Like a fly on the wall, I travel extensively in my vast virtual world, whether invited or not, and assiduously observe fellow humans reveal their innermost feelings whether subtly or not, whether intended or not, within the loose confines of this huge alternate reality.

 Social media in particular is just such an alluring and hypnotizing medium, it can insidiously push one into some trance-like state of cluelessness, or maybe just mindlessness, as to blurt out items too personal or intimate that one would under normal social setting be inhibited from publicly revealing.  But such is the current reality in social media if one focuses or pauses enough to discern it.

Thus, these are observations culled and collated from such virtual travels

 When we speak of our own family, many of us are at times beside ourselves extolling and exalting the endearing qualities of members of the family and admittedly, at times to the point of excess or ennui.  And throw in there, how we may be ecstatic about our children and dear ones as paragons of beauty and grace, and maybe at some unguarded moments, we become quite liberal with superlatives. 

Many confess to not possessing sufficient fluency in providing verse to describe members of the family; and additionally, we earnestly infer that we would do everything in our power to protect and safeguard these beloved family members from any intrusive peril and danger.  Even proffering our lives in sacrifice, all for the welfare of loved ones.   We cannot imagine anything bad or dearth associated with them. At least that is what we are understanding from our declarations.

We no doubt are exhilarated and inspired by such noble protestations and who would not be.  Natural affection comes naturally to those we love and cherish. Except that there typically is a dark side to this.

Because out of these same numbers would come out the same persons who will exhibit the following with nary any hesitance or reservation.

To those who disagree with them in political or religious ideology, or for whatever reasons, they throw caution to the winds for they will extract their “pound of flesh” by any means possible.

Thus, be damned to Judge Kavanaugh, his family, his friends, or his reputation or everything good he stands for, because the end justifies the means, however morally reprehensible and unacceptable they may be.

And this holds true not only to the detractors who are directly involved, but all those who validate and are amused by such tactics, and declaim so in their own spaces.

Our righteousness then applies only to those near and dear to us and those who share our beliefs and ideology.  And we could care less for the others and their families, reputation, etc., whether such hurt is justified or not.

Would that not be a clear sign of hypocrisy?

And everybody loathes and cringes at being accused of such.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Pride and Humility

These are two very distinct and opposing emotions that exert so much drag and pull on our every action and feeling.

So constraining that at times one is hard pressed to realize which one creates more power and influence on human behavior.

To be Christ-like one has to learn how to handle both in any situation.  Whether one is in the right or in the wrong.

When one is wrong and realizes it, it is comparatively easy to bring out the virtue of humility.  It will flow quite easily if one is truly penitent and remorseful.

However, when one is in the right, the emotion of pride is just as demanding.  It is also comparatively easy for one to exhibit rightful indignation and fury or passion against those who have wronged us.  In a way, to fight fire with fire, or to stoop to the same levels that we the rightful party has been dragged.  It would be easy to feel justified doing just that.  It is almost innate in our nature to respond that way.

But over and over, as we consistently and deeply study the life of Christ, He commands us to take the more commendable though difficult path.  Taking the high road, even when doing so is not easy and exhausting.  The proverbial turning of the other cheek, when buffeted on the other.

We declare yourselves in many instances how we model our lives to that of Christ, but how truly do we mold our lives like unto His?


Friday, August 03, 2018


The issue of parenting is both apropos and relevant for young parents.

There are how-to or self-help books on parenting, maybe to a point that there may be too much information about the subject. And many times, these different sources take divergent analyses or opinions on the same subject(s), maybe to a point that can confuse earnest parents.

But one thing we learn from experience is that each child is uniquely different, thus how to properly parent a child will depend largely on a parent's intimate and personal knowledge and understanding of each child.

There is an almost inherent bias for parents to assume that if they believe they were raised properly, what worked for them will work for their children too. After all, many of us know and believe that a child is composed of 50% of one spouse, and the other 50% of the other spouse, so it would be easy to assume that at that default stage we already know enough of our children to tailor the kind of parenting we believe will work.

But nothing I believe is farther from reality. Each child is still uniquely different from both parents to a point that we cannot safely say that the child is like either one of the parents, or maybe likened to other ancestors. That is just one facet of the mystery and awesomeness of life.

Additionally, as parents we tend to treat our children as fragile and easily traumatized individuals. Many facts point to a somewhat accepted reality that children are typically stronger, more malleable, and able to adapt to varying degrees of conditions and situations than we think they can. There is more than enough knowledge to show that children born and raised in very challenging situations have been able to lift themselves with their own bootstraps to become functioning and exemplary members of our society.

Does it make parenting more difficult? I believe so, since we now collectively possess more knowledge than the previous generations, the responsibilities become exponentially greater. Add to that the fact that life itself has become more and more complicated for the coming generations. Remember the cliché, with great powers come greater responsibilities.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Neri-San Jose of Cagayan de Oro Genealogy

Having come in possession of sufficient data, it is opportune to define and trace the Neri-San Jose branch of the Neri Genealogy.

At the start of the 1800’s, we begin with Salvador Neri, who married a Coronado.  History notes that Salvador became gobernadorcillo from 1831 to 1832.

We also have information about his known siblings.  They were Lino Neri who followed Salvador as gobernadorcillo from 1832 to 1833, allowing us to presume that he was a younger brother.

Another sibling was Leon Neri and from him we have the start of what we may call the Neri-Velez branch of the genealogy.

Salvador produced three known sons, Pedro, Graciano, and Ramon.  Graciano and Ramon married two San Jose sisters, namely Dominga and Emmanuela.

My family comes from the Graciano line (he died in 1907).

We did not know much about his one sibling named Pedro.  But for his other sibling, Ramon, we know a lot.  And one significant detail was that 2 sons of Ramon, namely Vicente and Ramon, Jr. married two Fernandez sisters, namely Vicenta and Josefa.

Graciano and Dominga produced 8 children and they are as follows:

Anastacio Neri, who was married to Marianita Velez, and who died in August 14, 1923, childless.  At one point, he was a mayor of Cagayan de Oro.

Pedro “Edrit” Neri, who married Crescencia Mercado/Rabatido.  Born in 1898, he died on December 24, 1925, childless. He had spent his life in what was then called Tagnipa.  The place is now known as El Salvador.

Filomeno “Minoy” Neri, who was single and childless.

Faustino “Tinoy” Neri, who married Matilde Menciano.

Ramon Neri, who married Cleofe Velez (born in 1875).  Born in 1878, he died in 1932.

Paz “Inday” Neri, who married Nicolas Pelaez of Tailisayan

Conchita Neri, who married Juan Borja.  Born on January 3, 1883, she died on January 25, 1945, childless.

Felisa “Feling” Neri, who married Casimiro Tamparong, Sr.

Our direct line started with Ramon Neri-San Jose who married Cleofe Velez.

The attached chart outlines the rest of the branch up to the current generation
1.       Pedro Edrit Roa 2. Lucia Neri (Marbella) 3. Felisa Neri-Tamparong 4.Crescencia Mercado-Neri 5. Conchita Neri-Borja 6. Faustino Neri 7. Manuel Rabgo 8. Laura (Laureta) Rabago 9. Chito Rabago 10. Paz Neri-Pelaez Picture taken circa 1907-1908
In the photo the siblings are Pedro, Felisa, Conchita, Faustino, and Paz. Thus, the other siblings not in the picture are Anastacio, Filomeno, and our grandfather, Ramon, to complete the eight offspring of Graciano Coronado Neri and Dominga San Jose. In the above photo, the only person not included in that generation is Lucia Neri, an elder sister of my father.


Our paternal grandfather,  Ramon Neri-San Jose.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Remembering Elvis

To this day, I wonder why I and millions more around the globe continue to listen to the songs of Elvis, especially his earlier songs though including some of those recorded later in his life.  And mind you, not only listen, but countless others from all over, try to imitate his voice and singing style.

Why?  Especially because no other popular singer in memory has garnered so much attention and inspiration as this guy.

I may have a peek of the reason or reasons why.

It may center on the uniqueness of his voice and of course, the distinctive style of his singing, which, btw, courted sufficient negative criticism from a number of other accomplished and famous singers of his time.  Singers noted for their very refined and smooth renditions of their recorded songs.  Songs done with such finesse and clarity as to be completely flawless.

The more famous songs of Elvis could be said to be rendered coarsely, more raw and unrefined, some bordering on being primal shouts or shrieks, with him relying heavily on his voice rather than the accompaniment or arrangement.

But if anything, Elvis did his songs as some kind of soul baring, like his songs were an exercise of emptying himself of all that he got inside, in both his core and soul.

So when he sung it was not simply to show how high or how far the notes he could carry or bring, or how fast his cadence without slurring words and stumbling over notes.  He avidly tried to pour out all he got and left things the way they came out and sounded.  Thus, he was almost fanatical about how he sung his songs, and for this, none, even those closest in his retinue, was spared from his almost violent displeasure when anybody tried to critique his style.

It also gave clear insight to the almost meaningless explanation he postulated about his singing, when he said that singing was not about style and technique, but about putting yourself into your songs.  

 And I do believe people of all persuasion from all over the world can readily identify with this and maybe try to emulate it in their own lives or entertainment careers.

It certainly holds true for me.   Enjoy, this simple imitation of one of his more known songs.



Saturday, March 17, 2018

Mind VS Reality

As young kids with minds undiluted and uncluttered with life’s many experiences, we took pleasure loading ourselves up with images derived from ...stories told us, from books we read, and from all other sources within reach – from newspapers and magazines. And yes, from movies, too.

Our malleable and active minds created a world of our own, unlimited and unhindered by realities that we still had to experience. In such a world of Technicolor grandeur, reality took on almost surreal qualities. Everything perceived in our minds were heightened to degrees limited only by the blurred boundaries of our childish dreams. In that world, places in the world visited by relatives, or friends, or pictured in magazines and books, were like paradise, and populated by extraordinary people likened to those inhabiting our celluloid world.

And many of us grew up nursing those stupendous memories, mesmerized by the consuming fantasies they conjured in our minds. As layers of real life experiences were inevitably added, slowly the fantasies were stripped from our minds and we began to see the world in its real colors and dimensions. Our blinders removed fleshing out our realities with more mundane tones and details, not much different from the everyday lives who were used to living in our own little world.

So the local places which we visited and had grown to find either quite boring or trivial, or just ordinary, are now installed as equals and could compare grandly with the new and foreign places that we had begun to live in or visited. Our amazing realization that these places or peoples that we had visited turn out to be not much different from those that we were born with and shared the years.
The whole globe after all is not that diversely disparate in its parts. The beaches in Bali, or Hawaii, are no different from the local beaches we had frequented as kids. The skyscrapers in Makati or Manila, or even now in Cagayan de Oro are not really that much more awe-inspiring from the others, even those in differing degrees of development. Size and height are the same anywhere in the physical world.

For the images attached then while still looking majestic or surreal, thanks to the wonders of photography and the various editing tools available, we can look no farther than where we stand and live, all the days of our lives. To savor whatever excitement and grandeur we decide to invest them with.

Wake up! This temporal world satiates our arguably unfathomable thirst and quest for more.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Decisions, Decisions: Sanitized Virtual Reality Vs Ugly Reality of Old Hometown


A debatable subject aptly addressed to us ex-pats, both those who are still abroad and those who have come back for good (or so we thought).

Who can disagree that our cherished memories of the old hometown, rustic, rural, and crude, as it may have been when we departed from it, are worth remembering, revisiting, and reliving with both short visits and resettlement?

Thus for  a good number of us, decisions were made to return and resettle, and to pick up from where we left off.

Years later and after a series of grave disillusionment, comes now the need for re-assessment of that decision to relocate.  Has it been the right one?  Does the ugly reality of living in the old hometown at the present time jibe with our sanitized or hopeful version of it, one that we incubated in our minds through all the years that we were out of it?

So is the actual living in that hometown good enough for us to want to stay further?

Time to sit back and re-think.

 First, we need to re-examine our remaining attitudes and the nagging images we may still foster in our minds about the old hometown.

When we were still abroad, the stubborn thoughts of the hometown were more riveting giving us bouts of extreme nostalgic yearnings of not only getting back there, but also of doing helpful things in our new surroundings to help ameliorate the dire conditions of the beleaguered hometown, since someday that would become home for us anew.

We labored hard to set aside financial resources not only for our future but in aid of the old hometown, with an almost addictive sense of altruism and love for it as inspired by the alluring thoughts of what it meant to us.

Though we now hold very negative thoughts about what it has morphed into, we still like to think that somehow it would not be that bad.  Though in reality in our estimation it is really bad enough for us since if the need arises we would decide against relocating the remainder of our family members and their remaining lives in this now benighted hometown.

The growing disconnect then becomes more apparent, though we may continue to blind our minds to the now harsh realities in the old hometown.

We cling still to our steadfast declaration that we cherish our beloved hometown and that still we would do anything to assist it in its many ugly travails.  But deep down we continue to harbor no plans or inkling to get back to it.  Sounds rather contradictory?  Many would think so.  But I guess our thoughts and longings are beyond rhyme or reason, or logic.

And what about those who may have relocated and are now entertaining similar thoughts?  Is the option to uproot and re-locate one more time still a viable option?

That is the “to be or not to be” question.