Incentives vs Civic Duty

©Moira G. Gallaga

My latest article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

However, is the use of incentives, particularly raffles and lotteries, a good and effective policy for changing the minds of the vaccine-hesitant? Given that vaccination is critical to the lifting of restrictions that have stifled the economy, led to massive job losses, and closed scores of businesses, shouldn’t getting vaccinated be considered the civic duty of citizens?

22 June 2021

Lisbon International Airport, VIP Area: An Encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo

©Moira G. Gallaga

The viral video of Cristiano Ronaldo’s press conference where he sets aside 2 Coca Cola bottles that was placed on the table has caused quite a stir online. Well, it also caused Coca Cola to lose US$4 billion in market value in less than a day. Yes, that’s right, 4 billion US dollars! Talk about an influencer, and I think he wasn’t doing anything deliberate and was just being himself.

It brings to mind our encounter with him a few years back while we were still assigned in Portugal. It was at the VIP parking lot of Lisbon’s International Airport. I was there to pick up Hubby who was arriving from an official trip to Angola. Ciaran was also there because that was the only way I could get to the airport on time as he is more effective than the GPS.

“Your love makes me strong, your hate makes me unstoppable.”
― Cristiano Ronaldo

I parked beside this Mercedes Benz sedan. Hubby arrives and starts loading his luggage in the trunk. Almost at the same time, a guy comes out of the VIP Lounge and starts loading luggage in the car beside us. A few seconds later, Cristiano Ronaldo comes out and heads towards the Benz. With my Malacanang training where we’re so used to seeing Heads of State/Government, Royalty, etc. I don’t go agog when I see celebrities. In my 16 years, I never asked for a photo with any of the VVIPs. So Ciaran and I just said hi to Cristiano and while his luggage was being loaded, we had a chance to have a brief chat:

Lisbon’s International Airport parking for Diplomats and VIPs

“Me: Olá, sinto saudades de vê-lo jogar com a camisa branca, mas lhe desejamos boa sorte na Juventus.

(Hello, I miss seeing you play wearing the White shirt, but we wish you luck in Juventus.)

**

Cristiano: Madridista?  Ou os jogadores

             (Madridista? Or the players?) And he smiled.

**

Me:  Madridista para sempre, mas também seguimos os nossos jogadores favoritos e tivemos que nos inscrever na Eleven Sports para podermos vê-lo na Série A.

(Madridista para sempre, but we also follow our favorite players and we had to subscribe to Eleven Sports so we can watch you in Serie A.)

**

Ciaran: Como você está? (How are you doing) and he replied “tudo bem.” I got lost when the two of them started talking really fast, he asked Ciaran if he plays futebol and Ciaran said since our posting here he trained in Escola Benfica (Benfica Futebol Academy). He complimented Ciaran’s Portuguese saying he speaks like he was born here in Lisbon. But he also teased Ciaran that he’s on the wrong team (Cristiano started his career with Sporting, rivals of Benfica).

He thanked me for my best wishes and asked how long I’ve been in Portugal.

**

Me: Quase 5 anos.  Obrigado e boa sorte e já agora, Madeira (a sua cidade natal) é o local de férias preferido da nossa família.

(Almost 5 years. Thank you and good luck and by the way, Madeira (his hometown) is our family’s favourite getaway place.)

Cristiano: Prazer em conhecer vocês dois.

                       (Nice meeting you both.)

Waiting for Hubby at Lisbon Airport. Now that I’m done publishing my first book on poetry, maybe I’ll write something like anecdotes of being a spouse to a Diplomat or Foreign Service life. Showed it to Hubby some time ago, but he rejected all my notes and outlines. He said I could make it more better if I really sit down on it.

**

He then kindly asks us if we could move our car forward so his brother can enter the driver’s side as they need to be on their way. He was pretty down to earth and had a nice aura about him.

I tell Hubby we need to move out already because Ronaldo’s brother can’t get inside their car because I parked too closely. I let Hubby drive so Ronaldo and his brother will think it’s Hubby who has the deficient parking skills (Hahaha!). After we get going, Hubby asks who’s Ronaldo? Ciaran and I bursted out laughing and told him, “who else, the one and only CR7?” Hubby’s reaction was priceless, to think that we’ve seen Ronaldo several times playing live both in Madrid and Lisbon, and close up during a parade when they were the Euro Champions and the bus passed by near the Embassy. He wasn’t pleased that we just let him go on load his luggage and then drive off without bothering to tell him we were parked beside the Cristiano Ronaldo.

Actually, we didn’t do that on purpose. It just seemed like any ordinary polite encounter with a regular person. It didn’t even cross our minds to ask for a photo with him. We are cool like that. I think it’s better it turned out that way, a regular encounter between people rather than a fan meeting a superstar.

In the car as Hubby was still harping on our not letting him know, Ciaran says that maybe it was all for the best, especially as he noticed Ronaldo looked at our car’s diplomatic plate because if we told him, he might have ended up embarrassing us to Cristiano (Hahaha!). Hubby would not be asking for photo or anything, but what he’ll most likely do is give Cristiano his two cents worth on his playing, the team’s morale, football tactics, etc. To his credit, Hubby agreed with that thought and said nothing more.

21 June 2021

Freedom of Information: When will it pass?

© Moira Garcia Gallaga


On Saturday, 12 June, I came across this opinion piece on the Philippine Daily Inquirer calling for the Freedom of Information bill to be passed. It caught my attention because about a decade ago I was writing on the same subject myself and calling for its passage into law. I think it is time once more to start clamoring for its passage. The issues and the relevance of this bill remain the same.

A Lower House bill for FOI was passed in the Philippines in 2008, but the counterpart bill needed in the Senate to make it into a law is still pending. In 2009, the bill failed ratification because the House of Representatives lacked the required quorum.

My article on the subject dated 29 September 2011 titled: “Diplo-pinion: Breaking the Cycle of Corruption in the Philippines (Freedom of Information)”

http://diplobugs.blogspot.com/2011/09/diplo-pinion-breaking-cycle-of.html

14 June 2021

First Impressions and Life’s Contradictions

©Moira G. Gallaga

From the President himself, “DO NOT BE A YES MAN.”

First impressions count, they say;

Yet do not judge a book by its cover.

Ah, life’s awash with contradiction.

What should one make of the situation?



Power and wealth are highly sought.


Easily making us in awe of authority,

Blinding us to their deficits in virtue and integrity.

Title confer status, but does not guarantee respect.


What should one make of this situation?

A world inhabited by paradoxes,

A life awash with contradiction,

Where truth is never easy to see.

“Beware of the half truth. You may have gotten hold of the wrong half.” – Unknown

One must gaze through masks and blinders,

Built by prejudice to obscure reality.

Our sight has need to pierce with impartiality,

To ease the path to seeing equitably.


One must listen with acute discernment,

For the winds carry whispering voices,

Loaded with roiling insecurity and hostility,

In order to hear the message in its purity


And what of our emotions and feelings?

Easily swayed by what people in power say,

Sights and sounds, distorted and deceptive,

A situation to which we are continually captive.

Unfortunately, they are either far outnumbered by those who aren’t or don’t merit attention from the powers that be who prefer more compliant allies.

We often are blinded by the trappings of humanity:

Titles, degrees, positions, hierarchies, and affiliations.

What are these if not mere accessories,

Which, regrettably, people worship unquestionably.


07 June 2021

Street Food on the River Bank

© Moira G. Gallaga

Oh! The aroma is ever tantalizing

the freshly baked cakes

at this street food corner

Feeling pity for those

Feeling nausea at the sight of such heavenly delight!

It is a crime to watch what we eat anywhere we go, as cuisine for our family is a cultural endeavour.©

Smiles are contagious here

The boy wipes the stool for me smiling each time

I sat on it looking at his mom when she looks back to me smiling

We never talked as we cannot understand each other!

Why should I bother when her cakes talk

On our behalf.

Exotic food/
arouses the tongue/
and pleases the empty belly.©

Attending a party tonight

On the other side of the river

A fancy restaurant, spreading its evening glitz

I will miss the freshly baked cakes, the aroma and

Yes! The smile!

04 June 2021

The Ship – A Villanelle

© Moira G. Gallaga

The ship sails soon
Either climb aboard or stay on land.
It is nine o’clock.  The ship sails at noon.

You may fear being a buffoon
If you sing and dance with the band
The ship sails soon.

It is scary to balance atop a shaky dune
But how it feels when you can stand
It is nine o’clock.  The ship sails at noon.

This Azure Window in Dwerka, Gozo was the setting for Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen’s wedding. It’s where we’re also introduced to Jorah. – Game of Thrones (Island of Gozo, Malta)

Should you ride in that balloon?
It is not even manned
The ship sails soon.

To truly live in the colors of June
Or only see in shades of bland
It is nine o’clock.  The ship sails at noon.

Will you stay in your cocoon?
Or live a life that’s big and grand?
The ship sails soon.
It is nine o’clock.  The ship sails at noon.

01 June 2021


Driving

©Moira G. Gallaga

It may at times seem like a task.
But there’s no way of avoiding it
Mundane routines get boring.
Caught in gridlock, the worst thing.

Once in a while an opportunity
To drive like there’s no tomorrow,
Accelerating rapidly,
To feel the rush of extreme velocity.

I consider scuba diving, skydiving, bungee jumping and ziplining as therapy. The tamest is going on a road trip to drive as fast as I can, clearing my mind and enjoying the sensation of the wind. A mild adrenaline rush, but nothing compared to other zen-like sports like the 4 above.

Doesn’t matter where I go.
It’s about the adrenal flow.
Driving at the edge of safety,
Risking with alacrity.

I find it quite soothing:
This driving that’s way too crazy.
With Arias blaring loudly,
My mind just swelling.

I revel in the pressure, the adrenaline … the feeling of being on the edge and the fast pace that characterizes life. ©

It’s great to hit the road,
When I’m in this manic mode.
‘Course, can’t do it whenever.
 Once in a while is better than never.