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

Vaccination: Not a choice but a necessity

©Moira G. Gallaga

One of my earlier articles in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Clearly, vaccination is a necessity from a medical and health safety standpoint, but there are strong arguments against making it mandatory. However, when circumstances and factors related to people’s livelihood and well-being essentially depend on it, that reality must be accepted. Choice in that situation is basically a luxury very few can afford.

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

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

WANTED: Informed Citizenry

© Moira G. Gallaga

I miss college days where we enjoyed hours of exchanging ideas without fear of being branded with any political leanings and to be able to do so in front of instructor/s who appreciates lively and intelligent discussion. I miss the honest take of students, how they react to a situation presented to him/her based on their knowledge of the subject, the reaction as a Filipino and as a citizen mindful of his/her social responsibility to this country. 

I hope we can conduct discussions like this without attributing political motivation or being judged as pro or anti government, but rather as informed and involved citizens who are exercising our rights to determine our destiny in a democracy.

A man may be loyal to his government and yet oppose the particular principles and methods of administration.- Abraham Lincoln

When do we begin to start to trust our Constitution and institutions? Let us be honest with ourselves here, when will we Filipinos unanimously say we have the right leader or when will we ever get the right leader? The answer is in strengthening our institutions, allowing it to work and become more relevant than the people who are elected and chosen to run them so that governing/governance is no longer about the leader but about the office and institution that they represent. Strong institutions require transparency and meritocracy and helps ensure proper discharge of duties and responsibilities. This is what we should be doing, not simply just continually looking or hoping to elect the right leader or our political messiah. That’s like trying to win the lotto instead of doing an honest day’s work. 

We are so personality oriented and react within that context and that is why we end up in this vicious cycle of being taken for granted all the time by people in authority. We are a democracy, but we don’t trust our democratic institutions such as the judiciary, the law enforcement authorities, our electoral process, and government in general. What does that say about us as a country and a people? Yes, things are very intense and uncertain but if we don’t begin to place a bit of trust into our institutions and allow them to work and just simply go on and continue to second-guess motives and speculate on what could be, then we deserve to be continually stuck in this vicious political paralysis that we have been in for many years now.

It will take time and there is a long, long way to go but we should be able to grow out of our tendency to worship at the altar of personality and be ruled by our emotions and begin to demand and expect more from those we elect to lead us. 

It is our responsibility to be an informed citizen…So asking about the process or raising questions doesn’t mean you’re against or pro-government, it is a means to achieve understanding. As they say, only a dead fish flows with the current. We have the right to ask and should not be judged for our queries, but rather on our actions. In the Philippines, we are too personality oriented and we tend to allow emotions to rule rather than logic and intellect. People take stands according to the protagonists involved, not on the merits or demerits of the issue at hand. Critical thinking and objectivity gets drowned out by partisanship. We must rise above this in order to become more responsible and informed citizens so that politics can be lifted from the muck where it currently resides.

If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.” – Plato

Being very much aware of our history, whose fault will it be in the event we allow history to repeat itself and for the failure to break this cycle of our political development? This will be a reflection of our political maturity (or lack of it) as a people and a nation if this happens.

So yes, let us be vigilant and keep a close watch so there is no abuse. 

A leap of faith and then keep the faith. ©


Regardless of how one feels about the Leader, one MUST at all times RESPECT the Institution – Office of the President

03 May 2021

Misguided Brilliance

© Moira G. Gallaga

Our crafty hands and mechanical minds
have built a wide world awash in wonders,
but our cleverness has us in a bind
as our achievements turn into blunders.

Never insult nature with bad poetry. She retaliates by confusing you,changing her climate, ways of being, so that your words can’t grasp her anymore. (Istanbul, Turkey)

Take the industrial revolution,
a well-deserved homage to iron and steel,
but we didn’t know that air pollution
would change our planet’s entire look and feel.

As we leisurely assess the damage,
impersonal clipboards and pens in hand,
we seem to have crossed out the old adage:
burning bridges leaves so little dry land.

I’m all for taking risks, but I don’t mess with nature and face its wrath. (Salamanca, Spain)

As we torch the sky and all beneath it,
let’s write our planet a lovely obit.

02 May 2021

Extradition The official surrender of an alleged criminal by one state or nation to another.

© Moira G. Gallaga

FEATURED

Posted on 

I wonder why Snowden hasn’t considered a number of African countries, the Guardian graphic shows quite a number of countries in that region don’t have an extradition treaty with the US. However, it isn’t only about the existence of an extradition treaty or not. The absence of an extradition treaty doesn’t guarantee he won’t be turned over. Snowden must be careful in choosing his refuge. If it is to that country’s interest to turn him over to the US, they will do so. Snowden must take into account how much leverage the US has over his potential sanctuary because the Americans will definitely use it to get him back. – Moira G Gallaga©

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/jul/02/guardian-guide-extradition-interactive

Mother’s View on Security

© Moira G. Gallaga

I’ve always been very particular of security wherever I go. I’m one of those persons who sit against the wall when eating in a restaurant where I can see everything going on around me. Being the only girl in the family, growing up in a province saturated with NPA and political violence, I was trained to be aware of my surroundings. Then came training at work, and more so now that I have an 11 year old who now goes out and hang out with his friends, watch movie, do laser tag and their meeting place is usually a MALL.

I always believed that malls, hotels, condominiums should and must invest properly for their security. People expect to have the assurance of a decent level of security in these establishments. With the recent incident at Robinson’s Galleria and increasing incidents of crime, it’s really about time that these establishments review their current security set-up. When people go out to the mall, with family or friends, they expect to enjoy and have a good time. Part of that involves feeling secure in the environment. Especially as a mother when my son goes out with his friends, I want to know and feel assured that he is safe.

Photo via cebujournal.com

Of course, security is never foolproof. If someone is really determined, that person can cause problems or endanger people no matter how tight security is in a particular establishment. However, implementation of proper security measures, utilization of properly trained professionals and equipment can help minimize the chances of an incident. We always look to the police to deal with criminality and to ensure public safety. While it is their responsibility, having well trained and competent private security firms will help complement the efforts of the police and enhance the general security environment. 

The local security industry is not without professionals who know the business and have the proper background and training to provide security services of a high standard. Perhaps it is time to start placing focus on this aspect of the industry, to start listening to, and provide industry leaders and professionals the opportunity to raise the standards of the private security industry in the country. 

31 March 2012