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‘JUST ONE MORE’ by Malu E. Gacuma , June 20, 2017

For what could be the hardest battle to win but that which we fight against our own selves? Yesterday, JUNE 20, I had celebrated my 3rd year (!)  of being nicotine-free and caffeine-free!


During those 26 years of enslavement, I was fully aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes. In those days, the late 1980s, cigarette boxes did not display gruesome photos of  the harmful effects nicotine causes to the human body. Vapor cigarettes they call ‘e-cig’ were not in style then. I never patronized tar guards, too.  A lighter in my pocket was just as vital then as money in my purse.They had to be together all the time. I couldn’t last long in a house that had no ash tray and whose owner scowls at smokers.

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1993- At age 27,while vacationing in Fabrica,Sagay City at my late grandfather’s house where I grew up. Holding my pet puppy,Coo-coo, a silent witness to the two vices I had in my left hand.


How did I learn such vice? Environmental influence,definitely. It seemed everyone around me smoked.Then came the brokenhearted days, when tears were not enough. So,what could be the best of friend to have, in my solitude, but a pack of those sticks to burn so I could  puff my heartaches away? I always believed then that  next to a dog, it should be a cigarette, not a diamond, that should be man’s other  best friend. So, I never allowed being left without it.

When I started working as a broadcast journalist in 1989, it was when I started chain-smoking back-to-back with coffee-drinking. While immersed with work, I must be fully-equipped with the tools of both vices: a mug filled to the brim with creamed coffee, a lighter, an ash tray and my brand of cigarettes. Without them, I got restless. Very restless. Unknowingly, it was addiction setting in.

My habitual nicotine-and-caffeine routine  became the usual butt of jokes among my work colleagues. A naughty anchorman even called me ‘Robo-Cup’, an off-shoot term from the famous Robo-Cop film in those days.Eventually, I was often remembered as ‘someone who drank her coffee like water and whose fingers always held a lighted cigarette’.

The man I married also smoked, so it was more convenient for us  both ways. We seemed to be comfortable smelling like ash trays to each other.  I only stopped –not quit– smoking voluntarily during each of the three pregnancies I had. Thank Heavens the craving dropped to a nil whenever I was infanticipating and  it lasted until I gave birth. Then the cravings returned with vengeance.

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My late husband, when I met  him in 1993.

The more I was dragged to a quicksand when times became tough and I was struggling as a solo parent. The vices seemed like a moment of respite from each long and tiring day.


How did I quit? I must admit that I owe it to a spiritual conversion. Born a Catholic, I had later on converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, I never took the bread and water on Sundays considering my unworthiness.Then I started  having a deep,unwavering desire to enter the LDS Temple in Cebu City. Among its spiritual preparations is a vice-free lifestyle to give due respect to the body. It took me  years struggling to be just that, vice-free.

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March 2015: The Cebu Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ( Thanks to my 2nd daughter, Christienne Marie G. Gancayco for this photo.)

I became an expert in trying to quit a hundred times before, and repeatedly failed. There was always a good reason to backslide: stress, bills,a good meal, skipped meals, a bad memory, a nostalgic moment,people I was with. Name it. It was called ‘alibi’, per se.

For the first step away from both vices, I ended up extremely dehydrated, with unexplainable permanent headaches and my vision started to get slightly impaired. I  had to be hospitalized  for a week, first in June then on December, in 2014 . It was on June 20 that year that I  resolved never to allow both vices to overcome me.

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June 25, 2014 -During my 5th day of hospitalization at Bacolod Doctors’ Hospital.


Nicotine and caffeine never did me anything good except giving me false adrenalin shots, a fake sense of relief and an insatiable craving for ‘just one more’. Just one more light.Just one more sip. In actuality, one more just kept going on. It was very deceiving! I had been fooled for so long! When talking about vices, ‘just one more’ actually meant ‘just one…then more.’


So, I vowed to start giving due respect to my body. To respect its  purpose. To take care of it. I persevered and went organic. I also avoided sweets. Noticeably, the very first thing that tasted so refreshing was WATER! (You see, I hardly drank water before because it usually killed my craving for cigarettes.) I started drinking water regularly especially after waking up and before sleeping (the Japanese way, as they said) . My perspiration reeked with the smell of cigarette. This lasted for about 2  months from quit time. My hair became brittle,too. Later on, my skin started becoming lighter and my hair regained its luster.

It was alarming that I had temporarily lost my voice. Whenever I spoke, it became a squeak! No modulation at all, just a thin voice escaping my throat!  I had to write most of the things I wanted to tell my children. It seemed whenever I wanted to speak, there was not enough air to breathe and my lungs felt like bursting. I knew I was ‘oxygen-deficient’ in some way, so I must let my burnt lungs heal fast! I must get out of the house and gasp more of the morning’s cool breeze! Water therapy  also helped a lot!

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PRUSSIAN SALAD : The very 1st heavy meal I took  (4 days since I checked out of the hospital  on June  26, 2014) Taken at Shakey’s  Pizza at Robinson’s Main,Bacolod City.



Each morning was  a test of discipline, to pursue  a routine of exercises as early as 5 am. The first 3 days were trying moments. I could hardly walk beyond 15 minutes and both knees wobbled. My lungs were grasping for air—not cigarette smoke anymore– and  I really wanted them to heal fast. In the succeeding days,the walking turned to half-jogging then to full-jogging. The next month, I was running for more than 30 minutes. Appetite increased. And wonders, I could carry a 5-gallon water-filled container with ease! Stamina was finally back!

 

 

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July 12,2014 – During one of my 5am jogging routine.


From a usual 90 lbs. frame, I bloated to 170 lbs after 6 months! To regulate this back to 130 lbs., I had to get attuned to the word ‘diet‘.

 

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2016 – Visiting our mangrove-planting area in Tuburan, E.B. Magalona, Negros Occ. Me at 170 lbs.

In-between, I kept myself busy day in and day out  by home-making, pursuing hobbies, writing on my journal,serving others (specifically the less-privileged children thru humanitarian projects I had organized), doing environmental  and Church activities, finding time to join my daughters’ invitations,then end the day by reading the Scriptures.

 

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Volunteering during a Church activity.

 

Being preoccupied with worthwhile tasks takes away the mind’s attention from  the immediate desire to give way  to the vices and redirect  the mind  to the task at hand instead .
Most importantly, the cravings just disappeared, for good. They died a natural death.That was how I believed it  and it worked! Until now.
From ‘Just one more’, the mindset finally boiled down to ‘No more’!
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(NOTE: The writer also runs a column titled ” The Diarist: On Love and Life” published over Negros Daily Bulletin.)

‘A ROLE NOT MINE ALONE’ (A Father’s Day Reflection) by Malu E. Gacuma , June 18, 2017

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As Father’s Day arrived a minute past midnight earlier today, my 3 girls greeted me “Ma, Happy Father’s Day!“, considering I have raised them single-handedly for 18 years now. They see me taking the role of both mother and father not only by provision but even with some physical tasks a father is expected to do, e.g. carpentry, carrying heavy things, staying up and sleepless to guard the house in times of danger , braving the worst of weathers and the threats of some chauvinistic men.

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Some of our countless roles  in life! (Thanks to my eldest daughter, Chickie, for this 2012 collage)

 

 

 

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December 2016- Doing the usual house painting task every Christmas (Thanks to my 2nd daughter, Angel, for this candid shot)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the hardest father’s task to do is coping with the financial demands of raising the children for them to be educated, decent and God-fearing individuals. It is not done with ease but more with pains, sacrifices,self-deprivation and countless tests of faith and endurance.

How many times have I been humiliated for asking assistance from people when there was no last recourse at that moment? How many times have I been subjected to verbal bullying for not being able to cope with deadlines of paying our rent? How many times have I been insulted and debased for trying so hard to cope with the deadlines and demands of the schools? How many kilometers have I walked back and forth, literally, to save every cent that I may be able to go home—as a provider– with food for the table? Countless times. Despite all efforts, it seems like there is always not enough. It takes blind faith to keep going on.

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December 26,2001 in Quezon City : Our 2nd Christmas without their father. With my daughters, Chickie, Angel and Clay ( then aged  6, 4 and 3 yrs old, respectively).

As a once abandoned-then-widowed wife, I may have all the reasons to take pride that today, Father’s Day, I deserve my children’s greetings to validate that I have lived up to the manly role far more better than my husband.

However, that mindset is not what I am instilling to my daughters’ individual character. I always remind them that Father’s Day belongs solely to their late father, Christopher. Regardless of his shortcomings or absolute negligence as he battled his own self when he was alive, he now remains –even in memory– as their father, in essence. Nobody can or must take away that role from him. Not even I. My children got the point.

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For this, I will still, with the least respect due him and his memory, greet him today, “Happy Father’s Day, CTG, wherever you may be.”

And as Father’s Day will end tonight, I can sleep soundly. For a day well-defined and well-remembered. ❤

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‘Toughened Guts and Headless Images’ by Malu E. Gacuma , May 26, 2017 (Friday, 9:06 p.m.)

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One of my daughters complained to me today that she felt ‘traumatized’ after viewing a video posted by a page called “GGWP” showing 2 masked men, behead with a knife,a young man whom they tied and made to kneel at first. It was evil, gruesome, beastly. No ideology on that!

Alarmed by the video’s impact on her, I shared with her a similar experience:

It was 1990, when I was working with DYWB (AM) Bombo Radyo Bacolod as an Anchorwoman/Newscaster. It was sign-off time, and our Police reporter had gone home, when a local police report came in past 11 p.m. that needed our media coverage.

With our patrol-on-duty, I temporarily took over and we rushed to a secluded ‘sitio‘ in Silay City. There, local residents milled around a headless torso lying upward. It was shirtless and draped in blood.

Few meters away, I saw a chubby, dark-skinned man, in his early 20s, sitting on a tree stump. It was the suspect. He looked dazed and stared at nothing.

In his right hand, he held a blood-stained bludgeon. In his left hand, he held the head that belonged to the torso that was his own uncle.

At first, it appeared that the suspect was the aggressor. But further investigation proved that the suspect was the once-a-good- natured- and-quiet-and-hardworking victim who eventually snapped!

Reportedly , his uncle had been taunting their family for years, and allegedly killed his father. As the young man grew up alone, he worked as a meat butcher in a nearby market. His alcoholic uncle was released from prison and began taunting and threatening him every day. That night, the quiet, young man decided to seal his fate and his uncle’s, for good. With a bludgeon he once used at work.

I told my late father then: I can stand looking at a headless torso, but I had to struggle shaking off the image from my young mind then , of a torso-less head, with the victim’s dead eyes open!

Dad listened intently. Then gave me a hug, patted my back and in an assuring tone, told me the same words I passed on to my daughter today:

“At least, now your guts are toughened up! Brace yourself, kid.

This world is not a sweet-coated candy to relish dreamily. It is a tough nut to chew, with its shell still intact. Choose to remember only what makes you stronger.”

Dad was right. It does not take an ideology to keep that in one’s head.

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1991- (As an Anchorwoman / Newscaster of DYWB  Bombo Radyo-Bacolod )  During an investigative journalism mission assigned to me by the President / CEO of Bombo Radyo,Phils.

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1990 , in Apiay, border of Silay and Talisay cities,Negros Occidental – (As an Anchorwoman/ Newscaster of DYWB Bombo Radyo Bacolod) during an investigative mission. Here posing with co-anchor/Newscaster John Elmer Ubaldo (standing) , Police beat reporter Nonie Flores (in white shirt) and our patrol driver. I was pointing actually at sugarcane stalks riddled with Armalite bullets from an ambush incident the night before we arrived.

‘No News Is Good News, Good News Is No News’ by Malu E.Gacuma, May 23, 2017 (Tuesday, 10:56 p.m.)

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I had delivered the news on-air over the radio, yesterday and today, and the news centered on nothing but corruption and on lives lost due to bomb explosions or due to illegal drugs’ involvement.

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May 22,2017,Monday – Delivering the 6:00-6:30 pm newscast over DYEZ Aksyon Radyo 684 kHz (AM)-Bacolod under Manila Broadcasting Company .

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“No news is good news”. That’s the unspoken universal rule when we don’t hear a word about something we expect. However,in the ‘dog-eats-dog‘ , competitive world of media, the lines seemed to have evolved to “Good news is no news”.

Perhaps this is the reason behind all the sensational,gory-detailed, controversial, heartbreaking, mind-boggling, nerve-racking news we eat for breakfast, chew for lunch and munch for supper. You think so? I do.

“Good news is no news” actually reads: “If it’s good,it’s over.So let the bad news roll in,so people would feast on the news.Once they do, pour in commercials. see your profit spike ,then laugh your way to the bank.”  (You just read the behind-the-scene thoughts of a successful network or publication owner out there,whoever that may be.)

Dominantly,as it was before and still it is now, headline news always grab your attention, keep you glued, break your heart, and let you resume your life with a changed perspective about this world.

Nonetheless, let me keep my hopes high about this world and about humanity, to persistently keep looking at the good side of everything.Call it optimism Call it obstinacy.

No act of terrorism, greed or manipulated perception can ever beat that!

l choose to live in peace, not to  rest in pieces.

That’s a genuinely off-air,off-cam piece of good news!

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(Credits to photo owner)

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HOW TO ‘KILL’ A GOSSIPER by Malu E. Gacuma, May 15, 2017 (9:36 p.m.)

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Philosopher and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius forewarned us all about the different kinds of negative people we would meet in our daily lives.Of all such pitiful souls that he cited e.g. meddlers ,hypocrites, ingrates and the arrogant, I have known some and can deal with them by simply forgiving them and not minding their wayward streaks.

But the only kind I can never cope with nor understand is the GOSSIP-MONGERER who is ,most often than not, also a pathological liar!🤥
Gossiping , I believe, is a sign of insecurity,of low self-esteem, of cowardice, of malicious intent and lack of self-respect.

A gossiper’s only intention is to murder someone else’s character and reputation, then make this a footstool to raise his or her own ego. It is banging cymbals signifying nothing but an illusion.Or worse,perhaps delusion.😈

A gossip always travels faster than the speed of sound.Why? Because once a gossip is cast, it always seems so juicy to the next recipient that it mutates to a more monstrous appearance immediately,even long before the next gossiper opens his or her mouth!😶

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(Credits to owner/Norman Rockwell,artist)

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Reality dictates, that after the gossip dies down a natural death, the unrepentant gossiper remains cocooned in his or her make-believe world. 🙃

It takes strength of character , a firm resolve and a straightforward attitude to repel gossips. The buck must stop right with YOU! Once there’s an attempt to pass on a gossip to you, it helps not to tell someone else about it, right? Right.😷

However, it would be best once you stop the gossiper right on the tracks BY REFUSING TO LISTEN. You must, to prove that, unlike the gossiper, you have respect, both for your self and for others. Then come out of the situation guilt-free and able to withstand the temptation to lower your moral standard.😇

You have a right to say ‘No!’

That’s the simplest and most effective way to ‘kill’ a gossiper ! 😀

Now, pass it on! 🙂

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(‘Gossip in the Monastery,by Eduard von Grutzner, 1887)

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‘THE FAMILY THAT LAUGHS TOGETHER…’ by Malu E. Gacuma, May 12, 2017 ( Friday, 11:58 am)

Sometimes, our family conversations can abruptly shift from sensible to insensible or vice-versa, depending on everyone’s mood ,which usually borders to the crazy mode! But it always leaves me dumbfounded with my kids’ surprising lines! Consider these instances:

*(When I suddenly received little surprises from my 3 girls as they arrived home)*

ME: (happily) “Where do you get money to buy all these?
ANGEL (Christienne) : (naughtily) ” Don’t worry,Ma! No matter what happens, our kidneys will always be intact!” (*winks*)   (laughter)
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*(Last night, while overhearing Chickie’s song playlist, mostly R&B , all of which are totally unfamiliar to me -both the songs and the artist/s, my curiosity heightened what made her so inclined to such genre)*

ME: ( giving Chickie a quizzical look) ” How do you ever find them? Why do you like those kinds of songs?”
Before she could answer, Claudia butted in:
CLAY: “Ma,don’t worry! Manang Chickie is a girl who is attuned to her own century.”
———————@——————
*(One morning, we overheard Chickie, who is petite with her 5 ft. height, sigh in relief, as she hung some washed clothes on the clothesline at our front yard.)*

ME: (teasingly) “Finally! You reached it! That’s a sign of progress!”
CHICKIE: (replies jubilantly, raises eyebrows) “ Well,that’s easy,Ma! If I can reach my dreams, how much more that simple clothesline? ”

 

See?
To think I just taught these girls their ABCs!!

 

chigelay 2

My daughters Christa Lou ( Chickie), Christienne Marie ( Angel) and Christiana Claudia (Clay) Gacuma Gancayco

 

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(Note: Originally posted on my Facebook wall, 11:58 am May 12,2017 ,Friday)

‘OUR NATION IS GRIEVING’ by Malu E. Gacuma , May 4, 2017 (12:10 pm ,Thursday)

This country we love so much is now grieving.

By not confirming yesterday the staunch environmentalist,  Ms. Gina Lopez , as DENR Secretary, the public servants comprising the Commission on Appointments give more importance to their personal agenda and the vested interest of mining firms in the guise of technicalities and legalities. They disregarded the more important aspects of the ecological hazards now endangering our lives as we near the tipping point.

Super Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath

Scene of devastation after the unprecedented ‘super storm ‘ Yolanda that hit Tacloban in Leyte. (credits to photo owner)

Our nation that we love so much is now grieving,

For the humiliation of our women , our struggling and defenseless single , female parents who are perceived as just being ‘knocked up’, seemingly just like those female dogs on the streets. That’s the debasing perception of a Senator who speaks in haughtiness as he prides himself with all the power and authority vested upon him by the people he is supposed to serve with humility, integrity and utmost respect.

sotto

(photo: abs-cbn news /online)

We are not watching the slow death of our national values being corrupted not only by external influences thru social media, but by errant leaders who are devoid of good breeding and manners

We are now witnessing the victory of corruption, greed, apathy, selfishness and deceit..

While we stand in silence , or choose to stay at the backseat, or sit on the fence, we leave our next generation- our children– to confusion.,

There they are, watching us muted in a corner. What do we do next? How do we fight for our right to live decently? How do we save our environment from abuses?

Why are we standing in silence? Are we helpless lambs being discreetly dragged to the slaughterhouse, in subservience, with our consent?

Are we trying to repeat our nation’s history of being lorded over by the corrupt and the abusive?

Our ancestors shed their blood to save our country and bestowed us our freedom . They were and are heroes !

How should our children consider us then? Should we just keep our silence and as the dawn breaks tomorrow, forget these all happened today?

Then, this nation we love has a good  reason for grieving!

candle 2

(photo by Malu E.Gacuma, 2016)