Thursday, January 31, 2008

Barack Obama On Faith

"'s an ongoing process for all of us in making sure that we are living out our faith every day. And, you know, it's something that I try to pray on at the beginning of every day and at the end of every day, whether I'm living my life in a way that's consistent with my faith." - Barack Obama in a interview

If I were American I would probably vote for him.

So many criticisms have been hurled at Barack Obama, specifically about his faith life. To set the record straight, he has been quite proactive in meeting with the press and explaining his side. Here are a few of his insights on the faith and religion in general.

His interview with and more recent, a Q&A with Christianity Today

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Understanding Grief In Toddlers

Will Matilda ever remember Heath after he has long been gone?

Reading this entry on the website made me stop, and reflect, looking into my own life and into my files (I teach a course on grief at the Ateneo De Manila) to answer this question that many people have wondered about since the day Heath died.

The very first question you would most likely as is -- Can a child this young understand the loss? My answer to that is, yes, they may not be able to fully comprehend it at this stage but they are able to feel it at his point, perhaps just as deeply as an older child or adult would but they will not be able to fully express the depth of their pain. Children this age do not yer understand the permanence of death and therefore will probably ask time and again, from out of the blue -- Where's daddy? or Where's mommy?. The important thing for the parent or caregiver to do is not to reply to the child with euphemisms by saying that he or she is asleep or that he or she in in heaven, or worse, say that God needed another angel. For a child this age, you can simply say that "Daddy died." and try to gently explain, in the simplest terms possible why he is not coming back.

Children also grieve in a cyclical pattern. Meaning, the grief or loss will revisit them at various stages in their developmental process and as they remember, there will be more questions because they are slowly inderstanding and coming to terms with the loss. A child, like Matilda, who lost her father at two, may feel the grief all over again at age seven, perhaps on an occasion such as Father's Day, and have new questions that she will want to ask of her surviving parent. That same issue may be raised again at age 12 or 13, upon an important milestone in the child's life, like a graduation, with even more probing questions, and then again in late adolescence. The most important thing to remember is to reply to the questions patiently, in a manner appropriate to the age of the child, to the degree with which they can comprehend it.

Children grieve differently from adults. They may appear okay on the surface but hurt deep inside. They may be sad one minute and playing the next. Play is one way of coping up to a certain age. Being the surviving parent, do not be afraid to grieve in front of your child. Of course hysteria is not encouraged but it's okay to cry in front of your children. That way, they will understand your pain and it can be a venue for you to share memories of your departed loved one.

It is also very important to have a support group available -- for yourself, as a parent and for the grieving child. You will not be able to answer all your child's questions and since you yourself are grieving too, it is very important to get some outside help. Teresa Vorsheck, director of the Highmark Caring Place, a center for grieving children, adolescents and their families in Pennsylvania, says the most important thing of all is just to listen and to be willing to admit you don't have the answers. For example, if a child asks where Mommy or Daddy is, and you don't know what to say, it's OK to say you don't know. If you come from a strong spiritual belief, that can help with the answers, but if you don't, don't be afraid to ask the child, "What do you think?" Try to find the answers together.

"As parents, when a child is hurting, we often feel we need to have the answers and to fix it, but there's no fix for this other than to bring the person back, and we can't do that," Vorsheck says. "This is a part of life, although a very difficult part, and we need to approach it with honesty."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Another Project To Remember Migi By

A few months back, November 10 to be exact, I wrote about a daycare center that Migi's Corner and my high school batch '82 was setting up for the employees of our alma mater, Maryknoll/Miriam College. Sponsored by Migi's Corner and Maryknoll College High School Batch '82, it will be called the Miriam College Daycare Center.

Construction on the project began last Wednesday, January 9 and a small group of good friends, classmates of mine, went to visit the site. Ginny who was here, visiting from Singapore, Larcy and myself, had lunch at Cafe Mary Grace over at Serendra, and from there, motored back to Katipunan.

It's always nice visiting the old school. Ginny had not seen it for ages and was momentarily sentimental. Larcy was trying to identify locations of old familiar places. I guess we are now in that life stage where looking back and reminiscing old times is as normal as breathing :)

The daycarer is located in a lovely, shaded area on campus, close to the grade school. It is the first of it's kind in the Philippines. We are grateful to te Superferry for generously providing us with the 40-ft container van to house the daycare. At the site last Wednesday, we met up with Jorja Santos- Macapagal, another batchmate of ours who was awarded the bidding for the construction of the daycare. I was very happy to see the bid go to a batchmate. Though the project has been fraught with great difficulty, I was just so happy to finally see it get off the ground, literally. A huge part of the work is being done by another architect batchmate, Boots Belmonte-Caingat whose been really passionate about the daycare from day one.

Jorja says that it will take four to five weeks to finish the work. After that, another week to set up the toys, books, furnishings etc... that will go into the daycare. We expect to get it up and running by mid-February, God-willing.

The Lord has been so faithful in providing for the needs of this project. This early, I wish to thank everyone who has graciously given out of their hearts for the project. Forty percent of the funding comes from HS Batch '82, the 60% is covered by Migi's Corner in the form of both cash and donated materials. The architect who has donated her services gratis et amore is a batchmate. The project had to be re-opened for bidding because the initial cost was too high, in the re-bidding, the construction was won by another batchmate. The Memorandum of Agreement was drafted by another lawyer-batchmate, Mylene Yumul-Espina. It seems like every step of the way we are truly being guided by an unseen hand. The story itself of how the van came to be is an amazing example of how HIS hand moves. It never ceases to amaze me to see how His hand has worked magnificently with every Migi's Corner that has been built. For this reason I always like to say that these corners have never been about me, or my son. Our life circumstance was just the vehicle and the inspiration to pursue this kind of work. This has never been about personal glory but about giving back the glory to God who makes all things possible. It is really all about watching God's hand at work. How HE faithfully brings together the people and the resources to complete the work is just truly amazing. However, on a personal note, I know it is also HIS way of constantly bringing comfort to my family through the years. Once again, His timing is ever perfect. This is our 14th project for Migi's Corner, and on February 21, 2008, Migi will be 14 in heaven. I know there's no coincidence in that and I thank HIM for his continuing grace over the last decade since Migi went back home to his real home in heaven.