About Diplobugs.org

Public servant in training; troubleshooter in action and spy in another life. I live ... I ignore warning labels. I revel in the pressure, the adrenaline ... that feeling of being on the edge and the fast pace that characterizes life ... welcome to my world!

Facing Life’s Challenges

©Moira G. Gallaga

Life can test an individual’s will in a great variety of ways; either by having absolutely nothing happening or by having everything occurs all at one time.

We are forced to fight numerous battles throughout our lives.  There are times when we are too reliant upon others to save us. Other times, there is simply too much happening at one time for us to take care of it all.  What you are going through at any one moment should never determine what will happen over the course of your life.

Taking a break and hanging around Hawksbill Summit, 4,051 feet above sea level in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

For many individuals there are a lot of challenges in life.  Many people choose to develop a very negative world view because they always seem to go through periods of their lives in which they don’t have enough; nothing is going their way; or there is simply too much going on for them to handle.

It’s good to understand there are so many things we can’t solve. Many things we can’t control. Learn to live with that thought, that’s exactly what makes life great. I live by the rhythm of the seasons. Unpredictability. (Luanda, Angola)

Through all these, we must continue to maintain our sense of honor, stay true to our principles and possess an indomitable spirit. Work hard in life each and every day, and also work hard in specific life areas consistently.  If we do not, we will only improve in short spans and can never attain optimal growth due to the fact that growth will sometimes stop, unless we start investing more effort into that particular area.

Our Lady of Medjugorje

“Bad days are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you should shut doors and dim your light. Even the best trip up sometime.”

17 May 2021

Do You Believe in a World Without Wars

©Moira G Gallaga

Note: I stumbled very recently on this very short piece that I wrote back in 12 February 2012 as I was going over some of my old postings. With the recent conflicts and war in Gaza, Myanmar and other parts of the globe right now, notwithstanding the presence of a pandemic, it caught my attention. Amazing how the passing of 9 years lets you see something you write in a different way. I don’t see myself writing this today, at least not in the manner I have expressed it back then. I still get the point I was trying to make all those years ago, about the importance of individual agency and that the trade-off would be conflict and war. However, I would have made more effort to stress that while we should celebrate and value individuality and independent thought, violence and conflict should never be tolerated as a natural outcome of this process. I guess the adage that one mellows with age is true. Well, it is in my case based on this post, hahaha.

“The first casualty of war is the truth.” – Aeschylus

Unfortunately, war is and has been a constant companion of humanity. In my opinion, the absence of war will only mean one thing, humanity as a whole has become one mindless and single-minded entity. War is a consequence of conflict and conflict results from a clash of ideas, thoughts, necessity, etc… As long as humans are capable of independent thought then conflict is inevitable. This means to have a world without war is to have mankind thinking alike and in synch with each other, like a hive of some sort. I think I’d prefer to have the privilege and freedom to think and decide for myself, even if this makes the world a dangerous place to some extent. Besides, if we have the capacity to wage war, then we also have a capacity to wage peace. It’s simply a matter of finding a balance between the two.

“History is written by the victors.” Attributed to Winston Churchill but actual origin unknown

20 May 2021

Be Kind to Yourself

© Moira G. Gallaga

It is hard work being an adult. There are constant demands on your time, energy and emotions from many different people. Your spouse, your children and your boss all want to be the focus of your attention at all times. While it is important to do your best and live unselfishly for others, there is another side to this coin.

It is impossible to live life to the fullest if you are not kind to yourself. You cannot give 100% of yourself to others if you have not been nurturing your personal life. The list below shows you some ways that you can carve off some private time and treat yourself right.

Rest. Relax. Recharge. Refocus. Not a luxury – it’s a necessity. (Prague, Czech Republic)

1) Schedule Personal Time – Everything of importance in our lives has to be scheduled in. If you do not set a time as if it were an appointment, your personal time will never happen. You do not need to set aside much time, maybe just 15-20 minutes to read a book, play an instrument or take a nap.

2) Join a Group – Consider joining a club or taking a class on a subject you love. It may be a book club, a diving group or a pottery class. This is a great way to get away from it all while doing something productive at the same time.

3) Get Up Earlier – You may not enjoy setting the alarm 20-30 minutes earlier, but you will be surprised at the result. Those few moments of peace and quiet before the rest of the family gets up will become your favourite part of the day.

Slow down and be kind to yourself. The results are worth it.

Nature recharges our minds and bodies. (Lillehammer, a town in Norway where a Mossad hit team killed an innocent man by mistake in the early 70s)

15 May 2021

The Value of Forgiveness

© Moira G. Gallaga

When enough time has passed to heal the wounds
gashed by words careless or intentional,
nothing could be more soothing than the sound
of relief, easily detectable

from the one you forgive once you pardon
their crimes.  They will sigh, perhaps even smile
in gratitude that you did not harden
your heart against their own. You could revile

Forgiveness is not always for those who wronged us. It’s also for ourselves so may we move on and have peace. (Lourdes, France)

their name as long as you live, but that might
only embitter your remaining years.
Better, then, to lighten the darkest night
of a guilt face enshrouded with fear.

“Forgiveness: You cannot afford to withhold forgiveness. Nothing will destroy your life more surely, for there is a great hidden grief in the denial of forgiveness. Your heart is so heavy from what you have not forgiven that you bear the offenses of another as if they were your own.” – Glenda Green

The best of men know well how to forgive their enemy
Their magnanimity cements their reputation for posterity.

Mistakes were my teachers/
I’ve learnt well. ©

14 May 2021

Like a Garden after a Rain

© Moira G. Gallaga

In life there can be terrible showers

High winds and drama can shake you

Like leaves are taken and twisted by the wind.

These high disasters can make life barren

Like a patch of garden that never sees the sun.

Washington Sycip Park, Legazpi Village

But there are roots even in the bare ground,

Potential flowers just waiting for the day

When they can spring up into life again.

And like a garden, after the bad storms

There will be new shoots springing up all around

Filling the garden and making it beautiful.

Washington Sycip Park, Legazpi Village

Like a garden after rain you must blossom

From the challenges offered by the storm.

Bow your head against the wind but

Keep strong and upright even in the worst.

Spread your petals to receive the water

And take it in to nourish your blooms.

Washington Sycip Park, Legazpi Village

Without the rain the garden would be dry

Nothing would grow within its bounds,

And like a garden you can take the cold

The downpours and the storms life holds.

And like a garden after rain you can recover

Push through your blooms and rise above the ground.

12 May 2021

Push the Limits: When was the Last Time You Shook Things Up

© Moira G Gallaga

A child is not born with limitations. Society and life experiences makes a child learn limitations, and as he/she grows, he/she gets scared to overcome those limits. In truth, if you have strong willpower you can push past your limits and achieve more in your life.  

All of us are bound by limitations: emotional, physical, intellectual, societal and even mental. In society, you cannot just express your feelings fully all the time. Whenever a child talks about the problems of adults, the parent will tell him not to think about those issues, he is still too young or it is improper to do so. Are these limitations good or bad, well, it depends? Some forms of limitations are justified, and usually these come in the form of laws, rules, and norms put in place for the good and safety of the community and society at large. Other than that, you can freely push personal, individual limits to test yourself and enhance your potential.

Urgull, San Sebastian

The human brain is so complex and capable of doing things which at times would be considered impossible. Unless a record is created or broken, no one would have thought of such possibilities. Often, personal limitations are usually self-imposed. In other words, though you have the ability to do certain things you have never thought of even attempting it.

Overcoming limitations cannot be achieved overnight. You have to develop strong will power to push beyond your limits. To some extent, physical limitations can be quite difficult to overcome, but you can overcome emotional and mental limitations if you are strong willed. There are of course examples of overcoming physical limitations such as cases of terminally ill patients who live happily, as if nothing is going to happen tomorrow. It is because they live only for “the present” and not for “the future”. Even in cases of extreme illness, people could smile and live because they have “will power” to live and a positive state of mind that transcends the weakness of the body.

Marbella, Spain

Anything is possible if you have determination. It is not hard to push the limits if you are able to channel the strength inside you. Believe strongly that anything is possible and your brain will help give you enough strength and motivation to achieve your goal.

When you dive in, make sure you do it with both feet. To hell with wounds and pain afterwards. Life and Love.

 10 May 2021

Long Distance Relationship with our Son: Mother’s Day

©Moira Garcia Gallaga

It’s Mother’s Day and first off, I would just like to greet my fellow mothers out there on this special day a very happy Mother’s Day! On this occasion where motherhood is celebrated and given due recognition, I can’t help but dwell on my experience and feeling of what it is like being a Mom.

Just as each individual person is unique, so are mothers. We may have a common experience of bringing a person to life, but we mothers come in all shape, character, temperament, style, etc. So I figured I would share with you my thoughts and experience as a mother.

I am blessed with one son and as a Mom, one nagging worry always at the back of my head is if I had been a good Mom. Did I do right by him, did I raise him up properly? When he was born, I was still working at the Palace, and given the fast-paced, high pressure working environment, it was challenging to balance the demands of work and being a mother. My work involved a lot of overseas travel too, so I did my best to find time for family and my baby boy. When I did have the time, I would make the most of it. That would be the pattern even during our foreign posting in Los Angeles and Washington DC, where from time to time I would be detailed to Summits and Presidential visits.

He was quite a handful growing up. He was a bundle of energy, forever restless and loved to test our limits. As someone with quite a temper, he would take me to the brink on more than one occasion and I had to make an effort to not step over the line. I didn’t realize it then that in my efforts to instill some discipline in him, he was also helping me gain mastery over my temper.

One of the songs in the Mother’s Day playlist he sent yesterday. I like this one and it made me bawl. We raised a compassionate, independent and responsible kid. May I add, a so cool son who is not scared of anything … moved out at 18 and a half years old, living alone overseas at 19 and flying from one country to another just to surf, play futebol. A voracious reader and has experienced life with failures and success. As he said about how he lives his life: failing without a net to catch him; without my parents who can always make things happen; got goals in life, but without a map.

At least I wasn’t alone in the effort. My husband was just as involved, and we worked as a team. Only thing is we sometimes weren’t sure if what we were doing was correct. There are many books, articles and material about parenting, but everyone admits there is no magic formula, no guaranteed method or technique other than just make the best effort you can to prepare your child for life and at a certain point, the rest is up to them and you just have to hope for the best.

After our US posting I resigned from government service and had more time to spend and bond with my son, who was now becoming a teenager. A different set of challenges now. Before it was all about making sure he didn’t get into trouble, or harm himself and others, and teaching him values and how to conduct himself in the world around him. Now this was all about preparing him for the challenges of life, steeling him for the harsh realities of a grownup’s world and building for himself traits and an attitude that would help him achieve stability and security for his future. Well, it appears he had other things in mind and his stubborn streak didn’t make things easier. No surprise there as he got that from both parents. Karma? Hahaha. Yet, there was quite a lot of upsides too, as we got to do things and travel together now that I had more time to spend with him. It was a great opportunity as well to learn more about each other.

He is 20 now and is based far away. Any fears I had that he was going to struggle being by himself and dealing with adulthood in general have been assuaged. From a rambunctious and mischievous little kid, he’s turned out to be a kind, loving and responsible young man. After my most recent visit to him, I could see that he was going to be okay. I’m so proud of him, and I guess that should assure me that I did alright by him as a Mom.

I think that is what it is like being a Mom, looking constantly for signs and assurances that you are on the right track and seeking affirmation that your child loves you and thinks the world of you. Thing is, it is hard and rare to find that assurance and affirmation as they are growing up. It is hard to spot at times in the constant to and fro of the daily interaction. In my experience, it is only once you have let him go and allow them to find themselves on their own that you will finally get that assurance you did good. Then when you see that bright spark in his eyes and the joy he projects when he meets you after a prolonged absence, that’s your affirmation right there.

09 May 2021

Loss and Grief during the Pandemic: One Year Death Anniversary of Peque Gallaga

©Moira Garcia Gallaga

Today is the one-year death anniversary of Dad (my father-in-law). Except for Mom and one sibling in Bacolod, all of us (children and in-laws) were in Manila because of the MECQ  in place. No flights, and almost everything was closed. He passed away and we couldn’t be there with him and Mom in his final moments.

A death in the family is always difficult. The loss is painful and it rocks you to your core. You work through the pain by grieving, letting it out in the hope it moves on. Apparently, it isn’t that simple. It is a year since Dad’s passing and with no closure we continue to grieve. I could feel it in me, persistent and heavy, weighing me down emotionally.

When someone dies unexpectedly, there is the shock that comes with the realization of the news. This wasn’t like that at all. Dad didn’t die of Covid-19, but his body was letting him down. He was getting in a bad way, but we figured he might bounce back from it. When he had to be brought to the hospital, we had a chance to talk to him over video group chat and figured things might still turn out okay.

Except that wasn’t the case. I can’t imagine what Mom went through when the doctor asked for her decision, but she handled it with strength and a calm resolve. Dad was the spirit and soul of the family, but Mom is the bedrock that holds us together. When Mom updated us the harsh realization that we were going to lose Dad started setting in. This was a shock that leaves you numb. There was also a crawling, creeping fear, bubbling and simmering inside, increasing in intensity as days pass.

It just got worse from there. Bad enough we had to start dealing with losing Dad, it is further aggravated by knowing we couldn’t fly out to be with Mom and him because of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. As he had to be sedated, we weren’t even able to say goodbye to him by phone or video chat, to let him know how much we loved him and how we were going to miss him. It’s like torture, I am haunted by the thought that if it weren’t for the pandemic, we would have been on a plane already the moment he was brought to hospital. It feels like some minion of Fate is mocking me, playing a cruel joke and enjoying my grief and misery.

Some say parenting is more art than science as there isn’t an exact formula or method to the process. Good thing you’re an artist at heart, Dad

It is one year from Dad’s passing and strangely, Metro Manila is still once again under MECQ. I still haven’t found closure. I miss Dad a lot and whenever his name is mentioned and something is written about him, I tear up and I think all of us do. I still grieve for his loss, as I’m sure the rest of the family likewise continue to do so in our own ways, fractured from each other and stuck in our respective isles of isolation.

Sharing these thoughts and feelings is I guess one way I deal with the loss and this grief I continue to feel. I know there are many around the world who find themselves in similar or somewhat related situations, grieving for a loss in the family from far, far away, waiting to be able to take that journey home to pay their final respect. I think this is a common and indelible feature of the human race, the need to properly mourn and pay respects a departed loved one. I sometimes take small comfort in the words of Helen Keller:

“We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world—the company of those who have known suffering.”

In the meantime, I will continue to carry the hole in my heart created by your departure from this world Dad, and fill it with the pleasant memories I have of you.

It already has been a year,

Sense of grief is always there,

The loss and its pain,

Continues to remain,

Life needs to move on somehow,

But it doesn’t have to be now,

In time this grief will be a small part,

Tucked in some corner of my heart.

©moiragallaga

We saw this while we were in Istanbul in December, and we were already sobbing by the time the movie got to this part. That cane was like a part of him, I guess the tribute used it to symbolize the mark he left in this world. Farewell Dad, and I would like to think that you are now busy exploring the worlds you created.

Random Musings at a Time of Enforced Isolation

© Moira G. Gallaga

Whenever I take a break from writing, I sometimes end up pondering about this state of enforced immobility and isolation. Here are a few of those random musings:

Instead of exploring places and wandering about the outside world, we make do exploring virtually and going inside our heads, wrestling with our thoughts.

Nature’s healing with people stuck inside their respective homes.

It is an ordeal for a free spirit like me. There is a world of difference between deciding to stay indoors to being forced to stay indoors.

Trying to keep safe from the virus is also an exercise in keeping one’s spirit healthy and lively.

A new normal is being bandied about with vaccinations already ongoing, but will this be the case years down the road? History kind of shows that mankind is not that good in terms of learning from the past.

The streets of the concrete jungle are empty, the metropolis is quiet, its hustle and bustle suspended until further notice

I so miss the little things, even the mundane ones of just having breakfast at Wildflour Cafe here in our area, then to Fully Booked, Healthy Options, and Rustan’s Marketplace. Spontaneously dropping by at friend’s offices, or having lunches or dinner with those whose work is near our place. Hanging out at Washington Sycip Park reading and munching on junk foods and when taking a break people watching those jogging fanatics across Legazpi Active Park inflicting pain on themselves by jogging or exercising.

Pre-pandemic playground

Enforced immobility has forced me to come face to face with a personal project long on hold, disrupted by my frequent wandering about. The situation has finally got me to sit down long enough to finish it.

One down from the bucket list, and freelance gigs

Life in the so called new normal. Adapting to new ways of working. Learning to cope with limited mobility and enforced isolation. Praying for the safety and health of loved ones. Making the most of the situation.

05 May 2021

How the Pandemic Changed Me

© Moira G. Gallaga

I believe it is already a given that the world and a lot of things in our lives are not going to be the same after this Covid-19 pandemic. Perhaps there will be an effort to restore a semblance of normalcy and to regain the life that was before the pandemic, but I doubt if we could really recapture that fully intact. For one, this pandemic and what it has wrought this past year has affected me significantly on a personal level and I am quite conscious of changes it has brought about in me as a person.

I started helping out in my own way since the start of First ECQ on 15 March 2020. Resumed again this year when we go back to ECQ and MECQ in April 2021.

The fear is not for me but for my family and loved ones generated by the threat posed by the virus has forced me to reflect on life in general. Then there is the death toll, and we are not just talking about the numbers, we are talking about our family, people we know or loved ones of friends, relatives and colleagues. It makes one re-assess one’s priorities in life. I suddenly found myself no longer caring about material things, and have slowly adopted a more practical and minimalist mindset. It’s no longer about what I want to buy, but about places, things and stuff to do, experience, see, taste, hear, smell and feel.

This experience has further made me touch deeper into my spiritual self. A renewed connection with my faith and with God. A newfound appreciation of the daily blessing of being alive, to be given another crack at life upon waking. I say a prayer of thanks at the start of my day and at its end. I guess in a time and condition that makes us feel very vulnerable, our faith serves as our armor.

I didn’t ask for any photos, this was sent to me by the caterer.

The pandemic has also forced us into isolation and severely restricted our movements, and this is more pronounced for me as I have my health condition and being a wanderer at heart I’m not used to being constricted in one place, much so in a tiny condo unit. Yet, I found myself expanding and reactivating my network of friends and contacts. Thanks to technology I have been reconnecting with childhood friends from my elementary, high school and university days. I have gained new friends through online social interaction, whether through academic webinars, or simply engaging on topics of interest. Not to mention all the freelance gigs I’ve been getting since the start of ECQ last March 2020.

While I have also been actively involved in doing volunteer work as I like helping out people, I have had to adjust the manner by which I seek to carry this out. I would normally join a group and be in the thick of the action, onsite, helping out together with similar minded friends and people. Now, with limitations on my movement for health and safety reasons, I contribute where and when I can. This means helping those in close proximity, such as providing food for all the workers (guards, maintenance, housekeeping, reception and admin) in our condo building. We sent them meals during the times the city was under ECQ, MECQ and every time there’s a typhoon. We resumed it again starting last month when we went back to ECQ and then to MECQ. Also, provided food for several healthcare workers in UP Diliman because the caterer lives near the area. I would support local entrepreneurs by patronizing their products, which is usually food. If there’s a lesson to be learned from this crisis, one is that we are all in this together. We will only overcome this pandemic as a community working together and helping each other out.

So whatever happens to the world around us after all this, whether it will return to normal or not, things will definitely not be the same for me because I am no longer exactly the same person before it.

04 May 2021