Page Title
Editor's corner/ Over a cup of tea
Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the
Year for the State of
Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)

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Bonding time with family
By Heidi M. Pascual
I was with a group of close friends who travelled to Batangas before Holy Week for our Visita Iglesia, a yearly tradition to
visit several churches as we follow Jesus Christ’s Stations of the Cross. When an earthquake struck April 8, we were in
the municipality of Anilao, a few kilometers away from the epicenter in Mabini, where we experienced ground trembling
swaying all of us for a few seconds. It was really scary, as we were very close to the ocean as well as the mountain. With
shattered windows, broken glasses and threat of building collapse, people converged in open spaces and shared a
common fear. Everyone tried to contact family via cellphones, but connection was almost impossible. We could only pray.
What else can people do when disasters happen?

Our group decided to go back home to the province of Laguna right after more tremors were felt. We knew we just had to
leave right away. True enough, there had been some landslides already that we passed on the way back. People were
out of their homes; hospital patients --even those with hanging dextrose bottles -- left their wards; office workers and
bank clients similarly got out of the buildings; and everyone was on the streets. I realized then that I was watching a
preview of what would happen when the Big One strikes.

While natural disasters could really be expected in countries within and around the Pacific Ring of Fire, we Filipinos
continue to hope and pray that we’ll be spared from major calamities. There has always been that belief that as the only
Christian nation in Southeast Asia whose majority population among adults claim to be either religious or spiritual, the
Philippines is a “protected” nation. But, with a number of disasters already claiming lives and destroying property, crops,
and infrastructure, that belief seems to lose steam. And, with the impending Big Earthquake that may happen within this
decade according to our volcanologists, there is a realization that the country’s “protected” status simply means that the
people have been warned way ahead of time so that we could plan how to deal with the situation when it happens, for
our safety and that of our loved ones.

Here we’re not talking only of natural disasters but also man-made. Countries that hate each other, like North Korea and
the U.S.A., for example, are showing off with their missiles and bombs, more than enough for weaker nations in
Southeast Asia to tremble in fear. We DO NOT want World War III to happen, because it could annihilate mankind. Also,
with the occupation by China of islands west of the Philippines and converting the property to a military installation
complete with an airstrip, who wouldn’t worry? The decision of the International Court favoring the Philippines’ claim to
the islands has been disregarded by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte himself, as he expressed his preference for
friendship and cooperation with China rather than with the United States of America. Most recently, a Chinese ship was
seen hovering around Benham Rise, reportedly to do some research, which Duterte claimed he knew about.  However, I
just think something’s wrong with such actions. First off, we’re actually disrespecting our sovereignty. As a sovereign
nation, we have all the reasons to protect any part of our country from foreign intervention, and worse, occupation. While I
fully support a peaceful resolution of this problem, the Philippine government must not sell itself short and look like a
puppy licking a giant’s foot. Most recently, some Filipino fishermen were shooed away from local fishing grounds by
Chinese military manning disputed islands in the South China Sea. I guess the giant is starting to show its real intention
despite Duterte's friendly gestures toward China.
These days I have an urge to always be with my children and grandchildren who live more
than 90 kilometers away. Perhaps this feeling has been exacerbated by several recent
happenings and frightening news involving the country’s security due to threat of war between
countries interested in the South China Sea (or Western Philippine Sea) and people's
protection from natural calamities.

When the Philippine Institute of Volcanology started announcing repeatedly since last year
that the country is ripe for a major earthquake that is predicted to claim more than 30,000
people within and around the Marikina Fault Line in Metro Manila, fear for our lives and the
sense of insecurity have naturally ruled many parts of Filipinos’ waking moments, especially
those who live at or nearby the city of Marikina. Recent earthquakes in the province of
Batangas, a few miles south of Metro Manila, as well as those in the provinces of Surigao and
Lanao in Mindanao added to the discomfort we are already feeling, just with the PhilVolc’s
In the face of all these challenges in the world,
I want to have the best of times with family
members as often as I could. There’s no
assurance of what the future may bring to us
Filipinos, here in the islands and abroad. But
one thing is pretty sure, bonding with family
and constant expression of unconditional love
toward each other make a big difference in
how we can face the future, regardless of its
outcome. But Filipinos are a resilient and
religious or spiritual people. Most of us are
always optimistic of God’s graces and
blessings, that we will survive anything that
would challenge our belief in the good and
what’s right. Love is so powerful that it can
help endure hardships so long as we hold on