Goodbye, Welcome

By | January 3, 2018


Another joyful and magical Christmas season has passed.

       While with it went the festive mood, happy memories of kinship, friendship and community spirit were created.

       Not to worry. Believing hearts and minds still bear the eternal hope that all the loving, giving and receiving and the greetings and toasts for good health and wealth remains, for all to collectively share in a more challenging future.        


       New Year 2018, like any other new year, is symbolized by an old man with a staff being ushered out of the calendar picture by a cute baby or a child with a sash.

       Please explain why someone named winter as “Ol’ Man” and why the latter stays through the three months that begin the New Year. Further, why does spring, which is supposed to be the “rebirth”, officially start in late March?


       No matter what, bundle up!

       Winter has stepped in. Embrace and enjoy it.

       Brace for it, pal. Get ready for longer nights, instant mercury drops, heavy snow and slush, freezing rain, icy walks, so on and so forth.

       Anyways, what else is new? Winter will always be an expected spectacle.

       Live with it, because it will be the only thing that may amaze in the next eleven or so weeks.

       Better yet, outlast it until Spring, Summer and Autumn do their rounds.


       Winter really has a memorable way of ushering itself in, when it officially became due on December 21, 2017.

       Heavy snowfall was in. Extreme cold weather alerts raised a few fears.

       Conversely, my seven-year old granddaughter Zarah was ecstatic.

       So was her older sister Zoe, who has lately started to dare the complexities of ice hockey.

       Both loved the snow; and I remember them etching snow angels, throwing snow balls, catching snowflakes with either their noses or tongues, and building miniature snowmen.

       “Lolo, why don’t you join us?” they would always ask me.

       Grandpa’s ready reply: “I can take pictures, you know.”

       I haven’t figured out yet who taught them to answer back “We know, Lolo.” and giggle immediately after.


       Someone once said: “Being strong does not always mean you have to face adversity. True strength is being man enough to walk away from nonsense with your head held high.”

       Genius! This quote works for me during wintry times. I just don’t walk away. The warm bed awaits and off I go to Snoreland.


       No one would like to relive the Deep Freeze that struck North America on December 21, four years ago and held on for a few more days; or the Ice Storm that hit Canada from January 4 to 10, 1998.

       The Deep Freeze was a first for many immigrants, like me, not used to a weather phenomenon of that sort.

       “We were confused, scared. We never imagined anything like that. Thus, we did not know what to do and how to respond,” a friend-newcomer from the Philippines – a winter-free archipelago in Asia — said.

       Tell me. What happens when an agitated Princess Elsa, of Frozen fame, unleashes her cryokinetic prowess?

       Of course, Princesses Elsa and Anna, Kristof, Olaf and Sven had nothing to do with the Deep Freeze.

       Nor are these affable Disney characters responsible for the unimaginable physical and mental suffering of most Toronto residents during the 2013 Christmas season and beyond.

       That time, the ice was simply too much to bear.


       This time, flashfloods and mudslides brought about by Tropical Storm Temblin (Local code: Vinta) in southern Philippines three days before Christmas 2017 were simply too much to bear.

       News reports said at least 180 people were killed and many more were hurt and lost their homes during the tragedy that even wiped out the remote village of Dalama in Tubod town, Lanao del Norte province.          

       The Philippines is still reeling from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 5,000 people and affected millions in 2013.

       Again, aid agencies and community groups in Toronto and throughout Canada will start appealing and reaching out for much-needed funds and help for the victims and survivors of the natural tragedy.

       The time to be generous and to ably share blessings never ended with the Yuletide Season.

       With the onset of 2018, let the age-tested virtue of giving, which has defined mankind’s goodwill, stay and continue; never picking on any one, on any place and on any time.


       I heard this story from Baiting Moro, a good friend and sports-teaching colleague of a close elder relative from Cotabato City, in Mindanao, the southern Philippines.

       “Along Avenida Rizal (a main thoroughfare in downtown Manila) and Recto Ave. one day some four decades ago, a snatcher preyed on a lady and ran away with the latter’s handbag. A woman nearby saw the incident and glanced at the snatcher, who was gaining distance. She took a deep breath and her well-muscled legs started sprinting. In a while, she overtook the snatcher, abruptly stopped and faced the oncoming predator. Before the snatcher knew it, he crashed into a strong wall, was stunned and was collared. After everything was said and done at a police precinct, the handcuffed snatcher murmured that he should have known better than dare run against Asia’s fastest woman. Yes, the woman who went after the snatcher was Mona Sulaiman.”


       Mona, one of the Philippines’ athletics greats, passed away on December 21. She was 75 years old.

       She was noted for her record-setting 11.6-second sprint in the 100-meter run; her 24.5-second time in the 200 meters; and the 48.6-second time of the Philippine team in the 4×100-meter relay final, all of which gained her three gold medals in the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta. She was then 20 years old.

       Two years back, she dethroned compatriot Inocencia Solis, winner of the 1958 Asian Games 100-meter run.

       Mona also represented the country in the 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Olympics. She made it to the quarterfinals of the 100-meter run in Tokyo.

       Critics who feared her prowess in athletics raised issues about Mona’s gender, because of her stocky body frame and her facial features.

       The issue escalated when Mona refused to take a medical test for the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games, citing that the tests ran counter to her Islamic beliefs. She left the Asian Games village.

       Her departure cost the Philippines two sure gold medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, reported. Japan’s Miko Sato clocked only 12.3 seconds in the century; while Israel’s Debra Marcus timed in 25.3 seconds in the 200-meter run.

       The Philippines had to wait for Lydia de Vega in the 1982 Asiad for a gold medal, at 11.76 seconds in the 100- meter run, added.

       Cotabato-born Mona Sulaiman was inducted into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.


       Blogger Pinoyathletics remembered Sulaiman as someone who was a very bold character unafraid to speak her mind. During a confrontation with a woman who challenged her gender, Mona said, “If you are so confident of what you say, I dare you to let me spend the night with your husband.”

       By the way, did you know that Mona Sulaiman also ventured into Philippine filmdom? She starred with renowned Filipino action star Jun Aristorenas in the movies Santa Fe in 1973 and Interpol Malaysia Five in 1975. Mona was also featured in the 1974 movie Virginia Soliman with Leopoldo Salcedo and Virginia Aristorenas.

       Goodbye, Mona. You have done your best to make your country and countrymen proud. Rest in peace.


       Meanwhile, we still have to squarely meet and persistently work on the challenges and issues that face us, if we wish to outlast and survive LIFE. About that, here’s a toast: A Blessed, Blissful, Happy and Prosperous 2018 to all. #####