Friday, March 30, 2007

Can Killing a terminally ill person be done legally?

[NOTE: The names are changed to protect the privacy of the featured individual in this case.]

From early teens, Rosemary had been dependent upon a wheelchair. A strong willed woman, she hopes her deteriorating muscular dystrophy condition won't claim her life before she has a chance to see her 17-year-old daughter go to college. "My witnessing her graduation would be like a dream come true for me," Rosemary says.

Despite constant pain and immobility, Rosemary avers that she would never kill herself. She adds that the state is making an awful mistake by allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to people facing terminal illness.

Then she said that she strongly holds this value that is why she joined a lawsuit seeking to strike down the assisted suicide law, which has held up in court.

Just a month ago, she survived a bout of pneumonia that brought the assisted-suicide issue home to her.

"I was in tons of pain, and I said, 'I don't want to do this anymore,'" Rosemary said. ``And my husband said, 'This is why we don't want assisted suicide. It makes it too easy.'"

Rosemary was stricken with muscular dystrophy at age 8. Few victims of the disease live past their mid-20s, and Rosemary, at 48, is an unusual survivor. Her doctor is a personal friend who has declined to estimate how much longer she might live. "He's never put a date on it," she says.

Recently, a suicide bill was introduced into the California Assembly [AB 374] referred to as

The Compassionate Choices Act

An excerpt:
The bill would enact the California Compassionate Choices Act, which would authorize an adult who meets certain qualifications and who has been determined by his or her attending physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, to provide comfort with an assurance of peaceful dying if suffering becomes unbearable..This bill would further provide that no provision in a contract, will, or other policy regarding this act.agreement, or in a health care service plan contract, policy of disability insurance, or health benefit plan contract, shall be valid to the extent it would affect whether a person may make or rescind a request for the above-described medication. The bill would prohibit the sale, procurement, or issuance of any life, health, or accident insurance or annuity policy, or the rate charged for any policy, from being conditioned upon or affected by the request. The bill would require that nothing in its provisions be construed to authorize ending a patient's life by lethal injection,mercy killing, or active euthanasia, and would provide that action taken in accordance with the act shall not constitute suicide or homicide.

Catholic Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco stated in his letter to Catholics “In a state where over 7.5 million are uninsured, it is the poor who will be at risk when killing becomes cheaper than curing. When California is experiencing a crisis in access to affordable health insurance, it is wrong for the Assembly’s time, energy and resources to be channeled into an effort to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is not among the serious health care challenges facing Californians. What is important is providing health insurance to children and basic health care to millions of low-income families.

The core of Rosemary’s belief is that life is a gift, no matter what the person's situation. Assisted suicide sends the opposite message, she believes. "If someone becomes an inconvenience or a bother, we throw her away. It's a Pandora's box. We don't have a clue about what this is going to do in the future."

To some, it might seem Rosemary has little to live for. Besides her crippled legs, her arms have become shriveled and bent.

"When I got married, I could do everything but walk. I could do dishes, cook, reach for things, fold laundry. Basically, all I can do now is sit here," she says. A woman comes to the family's modest home in east Portland each morning to help Rosemary into her wheelchair and to wash dishes and do other household chores. She spends afternoons alone and in bed. During that time, she often thinks about her daughter, a senior at Portland Lutheran High School.

This column joins the voices of diverse coalition of organizations that oppose assisted suicide including the California Catholic Conference, the American Medical Association, to mention a few Catholic groups and we enjoin our readers to join these organizations in working for a just society and in opposing AB 374.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A significant step towards CLEAN elections.

Many observers often say that the Philippines can never achieve any measure of positive change towards good governance simply because our leaders do not sincerely feel in their hearts the need to change things. For instance, we have a lot of legal charges against high government officials that when first reported created a solid media splash. But days go is pushed in the background. Soon, months pass and even years come and go and the cases supposed to be major violations like "plunder" by officials still remain unresolved. So one can conclude that there seems to be no political will to really do the right thing and see it to its conclusion.

A good example and current hot topic in the country is the newly-developed voting system that will use computer technology for the first time and not only speed up the process of voting and counting but minimizing the "human elements" that have for many years been well trained to manipulate the system itself. We Filipinos know the "dag dag bawas" indoor sport everytime the Philippines holds its elections. This phenomenon, an open secret, is evident onli in da pilipins!

BOTONG PINOY, the new mechanized voting system was developed by Rafael Garcia III who incidentally was the first member in my first Rotary Club that I got to know very well back in the mid seventies, and who was already "making waves" in the field of computer technology in the Philippines when computers were huge machines that occupied several rooms. Raffy, as he is known in the industry, has developed this voting system because he does love the country, romantic as the statement may sound.

However, inspite of the fact that Raffy has offered the use of the new technology for the coming elections FOR FREE there seems to be no apparent interest among the Comelec officials.

Needless to say, a number of thinking Filipinos had expected something like this reaction from the Comelec.

In fact, one technically oriented official who had gone through the dry run of the voting system remarked,

“They are systems that are so efficient, there is no room for graft. Equally, Botong Pinoy is meant to be an election system so efficient there is no time to cheat.”

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Hero - an ordinary person doing extaordinary things


When the young doctor completed his medical course at the University of the Philippines, together with his wife, also a doctor, like most new young graduates, first opted to see how things were in America. After all with the new technologies being developed there in the field of Medical Science being in the cutting edge of new inventions would be a great advantage especially for a couple of excellently professional Filipino doctors. So they moved to the U.S. and pursued their practice - and naturally succeeded as most highly qualified doctors did.

Then after having served with his wife for several years they did something not many could easily fathom - both opted to pull up stakes and move back to the Philippines to continue their practice.

But aside from going back to his homeland, Dr. Bautista decided to run for public office!

Let us here from the doctor himself.

I am Martin D Bautista, MD one of the four candidates for the Senate. I attended the Ateneo de Manila for my elementary and high school education. I completed my BS Zoology in UP Diliman and stayed at the UP-PGH for my medical degree. My wife (who was a classmate in medical school) and I pursued both residency and fellowship training at the State University of New York in Brooklyn. I am an Internist-Gastroenterologist. For 10 years we lived in Guymon, Oklahoma a rural town of about 12,000 people. We built our own medical clinic and we would see up to 120 patients each day. After we were able to recruit 2 physicians, we moved our entire family back to the Philippines. We have 4 daughters.

Everyone who cares for me tried hard to dissuade me from this quixotic mission. You can read more from my blog that I began last year:

Let us all join together and pray hard for a miracle. The odds are super-long but for a miracle to occur you need to (1) ask for it and (2) be there to receive it.

I sincerely believe in our Cause. It is a noble one and I believe that we are doing God's work.
Martin D Bautista,MD

*I wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Bautista and his cause. Try and pass this blogsite message to other Filipinos wherever they are. Tony

Saturday, March 17, 2007

War's Inhumanity to MAN -

How to Die

Dark clouds are smouldering into red
While down the craters morning burns.
The dying soldier shifts his head
To watch the glory that returns;
He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
Radiance reflected in his eyes,
And on his lips a whispered name.

You'd think, to hear some people talk,
That lads go West with sobs and curses,
And sullen faces white as chalk,
Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
But they've been taught the way to do it
Like Christian soldiers; not with haste
And shuddering groans; but passing through it
With due regard for decent taste.

*no video to watch

Siegfried Sassoon

Thursday, March 15, 2007


supposed to have been said by Lito Molina months after he had recovered from that massive stroke which left his left arm and left side of the body paralyzed. But, after the laughter triggered by that funny remark, it was disclosed by Li to himself that he never said that. It was one of his newspaper friends who came up with it.
What was not funny of course was the fact that this versatile musician, named Ezequiel Molina who was Li to to all his friends, was well known not only in the Jazz aficionados in the Philippines but in classical concerts too for Li to played excellent Clarinet - having learned the rudiments of music from his father Professor Antonio Molina who was also a fine composer from pre world war two days. But he excelled in alto saxophone to the point when he sounded almost like Paul Desmond of Dave Brubeck's combo.
When asked what caused his sudden stroke, Lito looks away and with a faraway look in his eyes, half smiles and says, "It was really nothing to be excited about but it had to do with the judging of winners in a coming annual contest for the best Filipino singers, musicians, and Jazz performers." Then he hesitates and after a slight pause looks back at the group and with a wave of the right hand [the one unaffected by the stroke] "Ah let us forget it...for I have put it behind me now...and I am doing well considering..."
During the mid fifties Li to and some Jazz sidemen would hold Friday afternoon jam sessions at the Del Rosario Brothers mini stage on Aurora Boulevard and I would help in emceeing it. Completely informal, other professional and amateur Jazz musicians would be invited by Li to to join the session which usually ended with a terrific ad lib by all back by his 5 piece combo.
In 1981, with the leadership of Roman Jun Cruz, Jr. who was then Chairman of Philippine Air Lines and an avid Jazz fan and record collector, Li to was asked to form something like an All Star Filipino Jazz Orchestra to take part in the annual Monterrey Jazz Festival in Monterrey California. I was asked to join as manager of the troupe and Joe Magsaysay representing Phillip Morris who were cosponsors of the contingent as well as Lulu Ilustre, another Jazz aficionado as part of the public relations team that promoted the whole show prior to the trip. Lito made sure he picked the best reliable musicians which included Angel Pena, well known composer arranger and outstanding bass player, Fred Robles, a veteran pianist who had wide exposure even abroad playing with American and Japanese Jazz sidemen, as well as Roger Herrera, bass player and one time band leader. Invited also were the Posadas trio - Romy, piano, Ricky on drums, and wife Rita Posadas who took her place as the official female vocalist of the band. Listening to Rita that evening reminded me of June Christy's style of singing.
The Jazz festival, was my first ever so I was awed by the way it was arranged. The whole program started on a Friday afternoon and continued on till the evening hours and ending close to 11 p.m. and then the Saturday it starts in mid morning again until late in the evening. Sunday is the final day when most of the star performers like the Count Basie band, and torch singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Tony Bennett appeared all the way to the grand festival finale in late Sunday afternoon.
The show was held on a large and deep stage with seating arrangements for I estimate to be 10,000 or even more. And the excellent sound system certain did justice to the fine Jazz instrumentals and vocals during the three day festival. As they announced the Philippine contingent - a first in the history of Monterrey or for that matter in any Jazz festival in the world I felt proud and with moist eyes I applauded like mad together with Lulu and Joe from where we were seated. One reason for my emotional reaction perhaps was the fact that I had been having "cocktails" in a flask bottle I brought along.
Before the contingent to go and perform at the Monterrey Jazz Festival, founded by Jimmy Lyons three decades ago, was organized Lito was looking for Emil Mijares who was a progressive Jazz pianist and composer but he was supposed to have gone to the U.S. for some business. So, the old standby Piding Alava who was part of the original JAZZ FRIENDS founded by Lito himself came along.
It is interesting to note that in the mid eighties I had the good fortune of managing Jazz Friends when I booked them a the Boulevardier outlet at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati for a two year contract. After that we moved to the Manila Garden Hotel. The contract in both hotels were simply Sunday afternoon and early evening gigs which went well since the senior instrumentalists played old favorites of the 20s till the eighties.
'That is how versatile they were. However, the singing quartet led by Bong Molina, eldest son of Lito and the other singers which included Kitchie Molina, Bong's wife and two other young vocalists entertained the Sunday afternoon crowd at the cocktail lounge singing vocal arrangements by American Jazz artists like Quincy Jones, Glenn Miller and Stan Kenton.
In 1998 LIto Molina passed away due to complications of kidney failure and others. Even when he was already medically retired due to the stroke, Lito would be extremely reclusive and not even saying a word to anyone, including his wife Pit who also comes from a family of Jazz musicians.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

ANGELS IN AMERICA - stark realities of AIDS

Once in a wonderful while one suddenly discovers a film that lives up to its exciting role in modern society. Seeing a excellently directed movie [on DVD]that is well written, and acted and with excellent veteran actors is so rewarding and definitely leaves an indelible imprint on one’s psyche.

The film version of ANGELS IN AMERICA originally a proscenium stage presentation that was a hit on Broadway is directed by a dynamic artist-director Mike Nichols, and features Al Pacino, Merryl Streep Emma Thompson, as well as Jeffrey Wright and Mary Louise Parker.

Made into a miniseries the play won the 1985 GOLDEN GLOBE awards for Best miniseries, Best Actor for Al Pacino, Best Actress Merryl Streep, Best Supporting Actor of Jeffrey Wright, and for Mary Louise Parker Best Supporting Actress.

So absorbing and candidly stark was the dialogue with a gripping plot development, one does not notice that the entire story on DVD has taken up a little over 6 hours!

Playwright Tony Kushner finely crafts his story with overtones of politics on the overly sensitive subject of AIDS and the then emerging crisis during the mid eighties affecting the lives of interconnected individuals.

The fantasy story unfolds and it shows that God has abandoned Heaven. And the Reagans are in the White House while Death swings the scythe of AIDS. In Manhattan, Prior Walter tells Lou, his lover of four years, he's ill; As expected Lou bolts, terrified. As disease and gnawing loneliness ravages Prior, a corresponding sense of guilt begins to take over Lou.

A Mormon lawyer named Joe Pitt a Republican, is pushed by right-wing fixer Roy Cohn[of the Communist-searching Senator Joe McCarthy] toward a job at the Justice Department.

Pitt and Cohn are still in the closet at that period of their homosexual existence; Pitt, out of shame and religious turmoil, and Cohn to preserve his power and access. Pitt's wife Harper is strung out on Valium, aching to escape a sexless marriage.

Then an angel invites Prior to play the part of a prophet in death. Pitt's mother and Belize, a close friend, help Prior choose.

I strongly recommend this movie to those who want to find true meaning in the lives of these individuals in the face of the AIDS crisis still affecting thousands of people in many countries.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

An Interesting wife and mother - Kathleen

I have often wanted to showcase one of our Joaquin relatives who is in the writing field.
With the passing of Uncle Nick I realize that not too many Joaquins in our age range are into writing at all.
For instance, Mikee, Bobby and GI's eldest son used to enjoy writing short stories even at the age of 8 using a computer program. He would also illustrate some of the characters using the same program for kids. But now that Mikee is in college and already working part time, I find that he enjoys to choreograph Hip Hop dances - and he does them very well indeed.
So, now I am happy to introduce a niece of mine, one of the daughters of PATRICIA JOAQUIN BURKHALTER. Her name is Kathleen. Reading h er blog postings will show you h ow much and well she is as a young writer. Aside from this skill, Kathleen is proud to state that she home schooled her own four daughters, while being a relevant wife to Bud her husband who works as an independent training consultant. Bud does travel out of the country quite often.

A Relevant Filipino columnist - Tony Abaya

Tony Abaya attended Ateneo de Manila and earned an A.B. Journalism degree. Before continuing his studies Tony decided to see several European countries aboard a Vespa Scooter. Then, Tony took up another course in America's Northwestern University and got a degree in Chemistry.

Over the years, Tony has written a column that appeared in several newspapers consecutively. These days he writes a column ON THE OTHER HAND for The Manila Standard. In his incisive clearly written columns Tony sees through the terrible “chemistry” of corruption and immorality affecting our government officials and their interaction with the citizenry, the Philippines.

From the way he attacks issues concerning our government officials and others supposed to work for the people, the chemist continues to conduct his social laboratory experimenting and offering candid suggestions with all elements hoping to make a difference with his writings that could be adopted towards good governance.

A fellow schoolmate from Ateneo de Manila, Tony thinks and argues like a Jesuit, whatever that means. I for one enjoy any moral columnist to openly take a stand, and makes it a point to do a thorough research on his data before doing anything or recommending any action.

Considering the role of major newspapers operating in Manila, The Manila Standard should be proud, I assume, to have Tony Abaya as their premier columnist – or so I think.

Sure, there are quite a few brave veteran Filipino columnists in Manila dailies with a colorful track record and write with distinctive style and vigor not to mention courage. Tony has indubitably a lot of that – consistent fearlessness.

Once, I even recommended to Tony (who regards phoned or emailed commentaries and threats about something he had written in his column a pleasure and vital to his column writing) to tap a private agency who could compile and duplicate some of his hard hitting columns and distribute copies to all high schools and colleges in Greater Manila and those in key cities in the archipelago for our youth to discuss for these facts would impact their future.

I feel that our youth NEEDS to be aware of these corruption, as Tony carefully comments on what is going on in their government. Our youth, as up coming Filipino adult citizens, should be able to react properly and learn what action to take vis a vis the points mentioned by Tony.

I do hope and pray that Tony continues to write his fearless analysis and proposal for public officials to return to accepted moral values and be cognizant of their delicate role as leaders of the country.

One major contribution of Tony Abaya to equally courageous citizenry is his creation of TAPATT [Transparency and Public Accountability Today and Tomorrow,]

A foundation, Its Mission Statement is phrased thus:

We look at our country and we are saddened. We see a country being ravaged by the greed and avarice of many of those who are supposed to lead it.

We look at our country and we are troubled. We see an otherwise talented, hardworking and infinitely patient people being wasted and demoralized by the insatiable cupidity of many of their leaders and their leaders' relatives and cronies.

We look at our country and we are infuriated. We see many politicians and public officials, and their relatives and cronies, who view public office, not as a vehicle for public service, but as a passport to private wealth, enormous private wealth, in the shortest possible time, and to hell with morality and public opinion.

We look at our country and we weep. We see the perpetrators of the vilest form of graft and corruption and the beneficiaries of untold stolen wealth parading in opulence and lionized by society, while millions of hapless citizens rot in grim conditions of devastating poverty.

Here is one of his latest columns on Idiot Candidates.

"Whoever invented that phrase – I first read it about two weeks ago on the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer - deserves to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Eminently Correct Political Incorrectness.

"Idiot Candidate – a candidate who aspires for an elective political office purely on the basis of his/her popularity with the squealing masa, with absolutely no experience in public service or in managing anything other than his fighting cock, if that at all, and with absolutely no idea on what he or she intends to do if and when that office is won.

"The most recent example of an Idiot Candidate is the boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. At first, he was going to run for vice-mayor of the City of Manila, in tandem with the dynastic son of the incumbent Lito Atienza.

"But why should we be surprised? In the run-up to the 2004 presidential elections, Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ – may he rest in peace – campaigned for the presidency without ever revealing - probably because he also had no idea himself - what it was he was going to do if and when he became president…..and he almost won.

"FPJ studiously avoided being interviewed and asked hard questions on the issues of the day, almost certainly because he did not know what to say. No talk, no mistakes. Less talk, less mistakes. When he consented to speak before a gathering of foreign diplomats, the media was pointedly excluded.

"So the public never knew what his ideas were, if any, on the topics which the diplomats no doubt raised or wanted to raise: investments, official development aid, foreign debt, the Spratly Islands and China, the war in Iraq, the peace talks with the MILF and the MNLF, the Abu Sayyaf, the communist insurgency, free trade and globalization, etc.

"His speech was no doubt ghost-written, but what about the question-and-answer forum? Was there one at all - or did he have to rush out conveniently to “another appointment” - and how did he respond if there was one? Well, diplomats would not be diplomats if they did not know how to keep their mouths shut and shield a possible president from embarrassment

"Just as there are no masters where there are no slaves, so also are there no idiot candidates where there are no idiot voters."


Two weeks ago, Ben Pimental interviewed me over the phone from his office at SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE to make the interview appear as a feature in their pod.
Kwento Kwento is the title of Ben Pimentel's blogsite. I ask interested individuals wanting to listen to the interview to scroll down until you see LEGACY OF NICK JOAQUIN and then click the pod [make sure your speaker or headset is ready].
Ben just launched here in San Francisco his latest book about Filipino activist ED JOPSON.


"I do not agree with the big way of doing things. Love needs to start with an individual. " Mother Teresa.


Among the little known but popular magazine dating back to the early twenties is READER'S DIGEST. The first ever in the prevous gentury to launch a new approach to publication which is to compress without losing the gist of a idea the READERS DIGEST collected significant articles, essays, and even speeches digested to fit one issue. This idea caught on and the magazine remains to be the leading digest magazine in the world today.

Over the decades since after World War I through this current period, RD has compiled a wealth of ideas through the materials they have - ideas that have been collected into a book by Stephen Covey.

The title of the book is EVERYDAY GREATNESS. (Inspiration to a Meaningful Life)

Published by Rutledge Hill Press under the copyrights of Franklin Covey Co., and The Reader's Digest, EVERYDAY GREATNESS can very well be transformed into a college syllabus for college students all over the world.

In his introduction, Stephen R. Covey avers:

"In a world where turmoil dominates the evening news and words of discouragement often prevail, I feel blessed to meet daily with individuals around the globe whose live convince me that there is an abundance of good among us."

Mr. Covey shares his joy by having been given the opportunity to have worked with law enforcers, military experts, civic administrators and medical professionals who sacrifice much and whose intentions are honorable.

The book rich with concepts and advice supported by case studies, is divided into a set of three ideas under a heading.

For instance one is SEARCHING FOR MEANING and below it are Contribution, Charity, and Attention. Then in the Chapter on TEAMING WITH OTHERS we see the subheads Respect, Empathy, and Unity.

Stephen R. Covey is an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant and author who has dedicated his life to principle-centered living and leadership to built both families and organizations.

A timely book for all generations starting with this one alive today.


"Do not worship money, earn it honestly and spend it wisely. Love conquers all difficulties. And above all put a good supply of forgiveness in your heart. You will feel much
better inside.

Jesus Christ has set the example.
Thank you, all of you, who have made my life on earth a very fruitful one."
This is the middle part of my mother Sarah's “Farewell Letter” which with great effort she wrote in her own elegant penmanship just days before her death on January 30, 2002.

Before she became very ill, our mother Sarah began to write an autobiography which she tried to complete had it not been for her kidneys that had deteriorated too fast leading to her death at age 93. She was a couple of chapters short.

My brother in law Fred de la Rosa [married to my youngest sister
Josefina] and I were able to complete the final chapters just to make her
autobiography end appropriately.

We, her children, are now happy to announce that the book is finally out and
available for anyone desiring to purchase a copy.

We hope to have copies available in a select San Francisco, California bookstores
named ARKIPELAGO BOOKS as well as in Manila's major bookstores like

A copy has been priced at $15.00 each plus shipping and handling of $3.00
[only in North America.]

The cost in Philippine Pesos is still to be established once the bookstores
in Manila have agreed on our arrangements.

I will keep you posted on this matter via email. Tony Joaquin