True love through the years

by Henrylito D. Tacio

Two years ago, I attended a golden wedding anniversary. I was not really interested to witness the occasion but my friend, who is the grandson of the couple, cajoled me join him. He is a person who doesn’t invite people if it is not really that important.

Since I had nothing to do at that time, I decided to go with him. I sat down at the church and met some of my friend’s families, relatives, and friends. When the ceremony started, everyone was silent. Some family members were in tears.

In the middle of the ceremony, one grandson stood up, went to the podium, and sang the haunting Kenny Rogers song. “I can’t remember when you weren’t there, when I didn’t care for anyone but you. I swear, we’ve been through everything there is. Can’t imagine anything we’ve missed, can’t imagine anything the two of us can’t do.”

Then, he belted out: “Through the years, you’ve never let me down. You turned my life around, the sweetest days I’ve found, I’ve found with you. Through the years, I’ve never been afraid. I’ve loved the life we’ve made. And I’m so glad I’ve stayed, right here with you through the years.”

This particular scenario came flashing into my mind as I read the story forwarded to me by a friend. Read it and ponder:

During the renovation of a house in Japan, someone breaks open the walls. (For the information of the uninformed, Japanese houses normally have a hollow space between the wooden walls.)

Upon tearing down the walls, he found a lizard stuck there because a nail from outside was hammered into one of its feet! He sees this, feels pity, and at the same time curious, because it was nailed 10 years ago when the house was first built!

The lizard has survived in such position in a dark wall partition for 10 years without moving! Indeed, it is impossible and mind-boggling! He keeps wondering how this lizard survived for 10 years without moving a single step, since its foot was nailed!

He stopped his work momentarily and observed the lizard, what it has been doing, and what and how it has been eating! Later, out from nowhere appears another lizard, with food in its mouth, suddenly feeding the stuck lizard.

He was deeply touched and stunned at such a scene! Imagine? The other lizard has been doing that untiringly for 10 long years, without giving up hope! Pause for a moment and think: Will you do that to your partner?

If lizards can do it, why can’t human beings do? Being married to the person you love is the best thing that ever happen to you. You belong to that person and that person belongs to you.

Marriage should be forever. Find the right partner for you. Women should not marry a guy becaus e he is handsome, or rich, or because your parents tell you to marry him. The same is true with men. He should search for the right woman for him. Marry the person who you will love even when you wake up in the morning and find him or her not good looking enough. “Happy marriages,” said Tom Mullen, “begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.”

Once you’re married to the person whom you thought is the right one for you, accept him or her, including the bad traits and habits. Josh McDowell reminds, “What you are as a single person, you will be as a married person, only to a greater degree. Any negative character trait will be intensified in a marriage relationship, because you will feel free to let your guard down – that person has committed himself (herself) to you and you no longer have to worry about scaring him (her) off.”

Marriage is not always a bed of roses. Two people from different backgrounds usually clash but that’s alright. Opposite attracts each other, right? “Men marry women with the hope they will never change,” commented Albert Einstein. “Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.”

Ogden Nash tells: “Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other who never forgets.” However, he offers some advice: “To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the loving cup, whenever you’re wrong admit it; whenever you’re right shut up.”

Yes, there are marriages made in heaven — because from the beginning, God is in the midst of the union. Marriage, someone once said, is always a triangle: man, woman, and God.

With that, marriage is bound to be forever. And husband and wife will live happily ever after. The Kenny Rogers song said it well: “I can’t remember what I used to do. Who I trusted whom, I listened to before. I swear you’ve taught me everything I know. Can’t imagine needing someone so but through the years it seems to me I need you more and more.”

Do you want to stay married to your partner forever? Learn wisdom from the words of Bon Jovi’s spouse: “My wife tells me that if I ever decide to leave, she is coming with me.”

For comments, write me at henrytacio@gmail.com

This mysterious thing called love

by Henrylito D. Tacio

Love is timeless. It is impenetrable, elusive, and defies definition. A lot of people – famous and notorious – tried to elucidate on the subject but it still baffles human beings until now. Love is easy to define but very hard to comprehend.

It was because of love that Helen left her kingdom to join her beloved in Troy. Love (or was it lust?) was the reason why David sent the husband of “the woman who caught his eye” to war. For God loved so much human beings that He sent His Only Son to die in their behalf so that they will join Him in heaven forever (read John 3:16 for that).

“Where do I begin to tell the story of how great a love can be?” asked a line of the theme song of Erich Segal’s Love Story. Well, a lot of songs have been written on love. Composers never run out of ideas.

Diana Ross and Lionel Richie sang together: “My love, there’s only you in my life. The only thing that’s right. My first love, you’re every breath that I take, you’re every step I make.” George Benson crooned, “If I had to live my life without you near me. The days would all be empty the nights would seem so long. With you I see forever oh so clearly. I might have been in love before but I never felt this strong.”

“Have you even been in love?” asked Rose Walker. “Horrible, isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens your heart and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses. You build up this whole armor, for years, so nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life.”

Yes, love cannot be fathomed or explained fully. Marcel Proust tries to give this idea: “In reality, in love there is a permanent suffering which joy neutralizes, renders virtual, delays, but which can at any moment become what it would have become long earlier if one had not obtained what one wanted, atrocious.”

Do you believe that? What about this one from Molly Haskell: “But one of the attributes of love, like art, is to bring harmony and order out of chaos, to introduce meaning and affect where before there was none, to give rhythmic variations, highs and lows to a landscape that was previously flat.”

Robert G. Ingersoll gives us a concrete yet contrasting views about love. He wrote: “Love is the only bow on life’s dark cloud. It is the morning and the evening Star. It shines upon the cradle of the babe, and sheds its radiance upon the quiet tomb. It is the mother of Art, inspirer of poet, patriot, and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart, builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth.

He further stated: “It was the first to dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody, for music is the voice of love. Love is the magician, the enchanter that changes worthless things to joy, and makes right royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of the wondrous flower — the heart and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven and we are gods.”

Everybody loves a fairy tale. This happened to American actress Grace Kelly, who retired from acting when she married Prince Rainier II of Monaco in 1956. Diana Spencer became the toast of the world when she married Charles Philip Arthur George, heir to the British throne. But these fairy tales ended in tragedy; both princesses died in vehicular accidents.

Love can also be tragic. A lot of famous authors wrote novels on such theme. One of the most popular was Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The leading character left her husband and child for the handsome Alexander Vronsky, who rejected her later on. With no future or past to turn to, she committed suicide by throwing herself under a train.

Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights chronicled the tragic love story of Cathy and Heathciff. War separated the lovers Evangeline Bellefortaine and Gabrile Lajeunesse in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie.

Age doesn’t matter when it comes to love. In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, both lovers were teenagers. But it didn’t stop them to love each other – even ending their lives in tragic manner: Romeo drinks poisons while Juliet stabs herself.

Why do people kill themselves for the sake of their beloved? George Sand has this answer: “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” His High the Dalai Lama echoes the same sentiment: “When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

Bayard Taylor wrote: “I love thee, I love but thee, with a love that shall not die – till the sun grows cold and the stars grow old.”
If you love someone, what kind of principle do you follow? American psychologist Erich Fromm shares this information: “Infantile love follows the principle: ‘I love because I am loved.’ Mature love follows the principle: ‘I am loved because I love.’ Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says: ‘I need you because I love you.'”
Through the years, I have collected love quotations. One of those I really like best was the one written by Roy Croft: “I love you not only for what you are but for what I am when I am with you.”

William Arthur Ward penned: “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.”

Finally, here’s what I like from William Shakespeare: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.” — ###

Starting a new year all over again

By Henrylito D. Tacio

“The merry year is born like the bright berry from the naked thorn,” penned Hartley Coleridge.  Anne De Lencios contributes, “Today a new sun rises for me; everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it.”

Yes, it’s the time of the year to welcome a new one.  As Charles Dickens puts it: “A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!”  Edith Lovejoy Pierce was right when she said, “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

Of course, everyone has fond memories of the past year; some of them were good, and others were bad.  But that is a fact: we learned from our mistakes and we savored our successes.  But past is past.  Let’s appreciate the birth of a new year.  Edward Payson Powell urges, “The Old Year has gone.  Let the dead past bury its own dead.  The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time.  All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!”

Henry Ward Beecher has also reminded, “Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.”

The coming of the New Year means resolutions to some people.  When I was still in high school, every year, when we were back to school, our English and Pilipino teachers usually required something on our New Year’s resolutions.  “He who breaks a resolution is a weakling,” notes F.M. Knowles. “He who makes one is a fool.”

Helen Fielding, in her book, Bridget Jones’s Diary, quipped, “I do think New Year’s resolutions can’t technically be expected to begin on New Year’s Day, don’t you?  Since, because it’s an extension of New Year’s Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system.  Also dieting on New Year’s Day isn’t a good idea as you can’t eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment, in order to ease your hangover.  I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second.”

Perhaps one of the best resolutions I have read was the one written by William Ellery Channing.  It goes this way: “I will seek elegance rather than luxury, refinement rather than fashion. I will seek to be worthy more than respectable, wealthy and not rich. I will study hard, think quietly, talk gently, and act frankly. I will listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with an open heart. I will bear all things cheerfully, do all things bravely await occasions and hurry never. In a word I will let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common.”

Here’s another one from Ann Landers: “Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you don’t think you can keep. Walk tall, and smile more. You’ll look ten years younger. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I love you.’  Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.”

Ellen Goodman once said, “We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives – not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

Goodman’s statement reminds me of this story.  A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what heaven and hell are like.”

The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.  The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen hell.”

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The Lord said, “This is heaven.”  The holy man was surprised, “I don’t understand.”  The Lord answered, “It is simple, it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.”

An unknown author once wrote a recipe for a happy New Year.  If you want to know his recipe, here it is: “Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time. Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

The unknown author continues: “Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing— don’t do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution. Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.”

Happy New Year!!! — ###

Traveling around the world

by Henrylito D. Tacio

 

As a journalist, part of my job is to attend international conferences in other parts of the world. 

 

I have seen the Buddhist temples in Bangkok, Thailand.  I have scaled the Petronas Twin Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  I have walked through the fine white beaches in Bali, Indonesia.  I have toured the award-winning zoo in Melbourne, Australia.  I have experienced real safari while I was in Durban, South Africa.  I have learned to speak French (not fluently but just barely) while staying for almost a week in Montreal, Canada (more so, when we traveled to Quebec).

 

I have been to the United States several times.  I have ridden a snowmobile while I was in Hibbing, Minnesota.   I did surfing twice – once in North Carolina and the most recent one while I visited my aunt and uncle in Savannah, Georgia.  I marveled at the mysterious Wakulla Springs in Tallahassee, Florida.  In Iowa, I saw the Old Faithful, the world’s best known geyser, spew out hot water.  I have been at the top of the Washington Monument.  I have touched the Statue of Liberty in New York City.  I became a little kid again as I toured the Paramount’s King’s Island in Ohio.   I got tired after board walking in New Jersey’s Atlantic City.

 

As I write this, the song popularized by Nancy Sinatra came to my mid.  Well, while in the US, I have never been to Texas, but I have been to Utah.  I have never been to Alabama, Nebraska, or Alaska, but have visited Indiana, Montana, Kentucky and Tennessee. 

 

Now, can you name the title of the song?  The chorus said, “I know you’re tired of following my elusive dreams and schemes; for they’re only fleeting things, my elusive dreams.”  (If you hear me singing this song in videoke bars, now you know the reason.)

 

 

Indeed, there are many songs that add in famous cities and places.  Frank Sinatra’s “Around the World” tells the story of a man who travels around the globe searching for the right girl for him.  “I traveled on when hope was gone to keep a rendezvous,” song goes.  “I knew somewhere, sometime, somehow you’d look at me and I would see the smile you’re smiling now.”  At the end of the song, the man in love expresses his final thought: “No more will I go all around the world for I have found my world in you.”

 

But for those who are madly in love and who love to travel at the same time, “the world is not enough,” to quote the title of a James Bond movie.   The film’s theme song has these words: “The world is not enough but it is such a perfect place to start, my love; and if you’re strong enough, together we can take the world apart, my love.”

 

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page,” commented Saint Augustine.  “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go,” novelist Robert Louis Stevenson once said.  “I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.”

 

When you travel to another uncommon place, you don’t have to worry what other people will say about you.  As William Least wrote in Blue Highways, “When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then.  People don’t have your past to hold against you.  No yesterdays on the road.”

 

When going to a foreign land, ask not those who have never been there but those who are always on the go.  Here’s a piece of advice from Susan Heller, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”  Got that?

 

One of the most important documents to bring when traveling is a passport.  It is very important but Lemony Snicket can’t help making fun of it.  “A passport, as I’m sure you know, is a document that one shows to government officials whenever one reaches a border between countries, so the officials can learn who you are, where you were born, and how you look when photographed unflatteringly.”  

 

Traveling gives you all kinds of emotions: sadness, happiness, fear, excitement, disgust, politeness, inconsiderate, hunger, pain, thrill, loss of energy – name it and you have it.  Award-winning film director Orson Welles (of Citizen Kane distinction) observed, “There are only two emotions in a plane:  boredom and terror.” For those who experienced the latter, Mignon McLaughlin has these words: “Whenever we safely land in a plane, we promise God a little something.”

 

Flying is indeed not for the faint-hearted.  But even if you travel by bus or boat, you still encounter a lot of hazards like accidents and typhoons.  But these are just few reasons why some people don’t travel.  “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home,” advises James Michener.

 

Funny incidents every now and then are bound to happen while traveling.  A family living in Montreal, Canada travels by land to Orlando, Florida last November.  A day before their departure, the mother told her two kids: a 6-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter.  “Let us make this clear.  No one should ask if we are almost there,” the mother said.  The two children agreed.

 

Almost two days later, they were still in the road.   The mother was driving while the father took his turn to sleep.  The two kids were already feeling bored.  They wanted to ask their mother if they are almost there but they backed off such thought remembering their agreement before.  The little girl could not hold any longer, so she inquired, “Mom, will I still be four years old when we get there?”

 

Robert Frost penned this famous line: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.”  Wherever you are, enjoy the most of it.  “To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world,” said Freya Stark.  And try to get the most of it.  Listen to the words of wisdom from Moslih Eddin Saadi, “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.”

 

I have been to different parts of the world.  But there is no place like home.  Most of the time, I always look forward coming home.  After the excitement has died down and fatigue has engulfed your being, all you want to do is to go back to familiar surrounding.  (That is why I don’t get enough when I am in Davao.)  How true were the words of Lin Yutang: “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” — ###

When enough is not enough

By Henrylito D. Tacio

On May 18, 1986, American financier Ivan F. Boesky delivered a commencement address at the School of Business Administration of the University of California in Berkeley, and said these words: “Greed is all right, by the way. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”

This statement was later picked up in Oliver Stone’s award-winning film, Wall Street (1987), spoken by Gordon Gecko. “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” said Michael Douglas, who portrayed the role and received an Oscar trophy for his performance. “Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”

During the tough economic times for both rich and poor nations, this kind of thinking will definitely destroy the world, according to the traditional papal Christmas Day message “Urbi et Orbi” – Latin for “to the City and to the World.”

Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Wherever the selfishness of individuals and groups prevails over the common good … may the light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity.” He warned, “If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart.”

The rich people become more richer, while the poor individuals become more poorer. “What is mine is mine, what is yours is mine, too.” That seems to be the mantra of most of the people. But that should not be the purpose of life. Jay Leno reminds, “If you think of life as like a big pie, you can try to hold the whole pie and kill yourself trying to keep it, or you can slice it up and give some to the people around you, and you still have plenty left for yourself.”

A teacher and the school principal were standing near the playground where the children were frolicking to their heart’s content.  The teacher asked the latter, “Why is it that everyone wants to be happy, but so few ever are?”

The principal looked at the playground and replied, “Those children seem to be really happy.” The teacher answered back, “Why shouldn’t they be?  All they do is play.  But what keeps the adults from being happy like that?”

“The same thing that can keep children from being happy,” the principal said.  Then, without saying any word, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a handful of coins, and threw them among the playing children.

Suddenly, all laughter stopped.  The children tumbled over one another, fought and argued.  The principal told the teacher, “Well, what do you think ended their happiness?”

“The fighting,” the teacher answered.  “And what started their fighting?” the principal inquired.  “Greed,” the teacher replied.

God created this world for everyone to enjoy. “In this world there’s room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone,” said Charlie Chaplin in the movie, The Great Dictator. “The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goosestepped us into misery and bloodshed.”

Mahatma Gandhi echoes the same concern: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” As Seneca pointed out, “To greed, all nature is insufficient.”

Why is this so? “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction,” American psychologist Erich Fromm explained.

Janwillem van de Wetering commented, “Greed is a fat demon with a small mouth and whatever you feed it is never enough.” This reminds me of the story of Jonathan, the only son of an affluent family. When his father died, he inherited all what his parents had and became the heir of the land.  But he wasn’t contented; he wanted more land. 

Once, a stranger came by, apparently a man of means and power, and offered to give him all the land he could walk around in one day, on condition that he would be back at the spot from which he started by sundown.

Early the next morning, the boy set out, without eating any breakfast or greeting anyone.  His first plan was to cover six square kilometers.  When he finished the first six, he decided to make it nine, then twelve, then fifteen. That meant he would have to walk 60 kilometers before sundown.  By noon, he had covered 30 kilometers.  He did not stop for food or drink.  His legs grew heavier and heavier.

About 200 yards from the finish line, Jonathan saw the sun dropping toward the horizon.  Only a few minutes left.  He gathered all his energies for that one last effort.  He staggered across the line, just in time.  Then, he reached for his heart and fell down in a heap – dead.  All the land he got was a piece six feet by two.

“From top to bottom of the ladder, greed is aroused without knowing where to find ultimate foothold. Nothing can calm it, since its goal is far beyond all it can attain. Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned,” French sociologist Emile Durkheim reminded.

“The point,” to quote the words of American businessman Donald Trump, “is that you can’t be too greedy.”

For comments, write me at henrytacio@gmail.com

Treatments from Mother Nature

THE Philippines loses billions of pesos each year from the importation of drugs, some of which are not only nonessential but also even extremely dangerous.

Unknown to most Filipinos, Mother Nature has provided some treatments of common ailments in the form of food, plants, and herbs. Most of these can be found in the kitchen or in your backyard garden.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

If you have sunburn, why don’t you treat it with aloe vera? “We’re starting to see evidence in medical literature that aloe vera may really help wound healing,” said Dr. Rodney Basler, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

Simply break off a leaf and apply the juice. But test a small area first, he cautions, to make sure you’re not allergic to aloe.

One natural remedy for colds is the versatile garlic, which has an antibiotic effect, according to Dr. Marin Haas, author of Staying Health with the Seasons. “It can actually kill germs and clear up your cold symptoms more rapidly,” he said.

Indulging in garlic is another way to cure sore throat. “When a sore throat is caused by a virus infection, as opposed to bacteria, eating garlic can bring quicker relief,” suggested Dr. Yu-Yan Yeh, associate professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. “Garlic has been show to have antiviral and antifungal activities.”

Stuffy nose can also be treated by sniffing an onion. “Basically, the only thing you get from rubbing on menthol or other decongestants is some irritation that stimulates the nose to run and unblock the stuffiness,” said Dr. Hueston King, an otolaryngologist and visiting professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “You can get the same effect from smelling an onion.”

A hangover once is a hangover never wanted again. ÿBut you can say goodbye to hangover by drinking coffee. “The coffee acts as a vasoconstrictor, something that reduces the swelling of blood vessels that causes headache,” said Dr. Seymour Diamond, executive director of the US National Headache Foundation. “A couple of cups can do a great deal to relieve the headaches associated with hangovers.”

But don’t drink too much coffee, though. You don’t need coffee jitters on top of the alcohol jitters.

Motion sickness can make even the most enthusiastic traveler miserable. One study showed that taking two to four capsules of dried ginger before traveling in a car, boat, plane, or trains prevented motion sickness in 90 percent of the people who participated in the study.

“To combat travel sickness, take a quarter of a teaspoon of powdered ginger or a one centimeter slice of fresh root ginger at least 20 minutes before you get in the car or board a ferry,” suggests an article which appeared in Reader’s Digest.

Ginger tea (salabat) is one cheap remedy for inducing delayed menstruation, also for cleansing your body system. Boil a sizeable piece of ginger rhizome, add sugar to taste, and drink the tea a little hot.

Your tardy bowel movement will perk up. Your saliva always dried up? Chew a piece of ginger and saliva will flow again.

Ever tried treating sprains by eating pineapple? Yes, you read it right!

“You can speed recovery and get rid of any bruising from a sprain by eating a lot of pineapple, especially right after your injury,” explained Dr. Steven Subotnick, a sports podiatrist in Hayward, California. “That’s because pineapple has bromelain, an enzyme that helps heal bruises and speed healing.

Pineapple along with papaya can help treat your black eye after a brawl. “Eating pineapple or papaya, or better yet, a fruit cocktail of both, can help remedy a black eye,” said Dr. Michael Rask, chair of American Academy of Neurologist and Orthopedic Surgeons. “An enzyme found in those fruits changes the molecular structure of the blood, so it’s more easily absorbed by the body.” If you have black eye, eat three papayas a day for faster healing.

Loading up on pineapple will also do the trick, according to Dr. Rask, and both fruits give you a healthy does of vitamin C.

Most warts eventually go away on their own, but if you want to speed up the process, soak a cotton ball with fresh pineapple juice and apply it to wart.

Ampalaya has been considered as nature’s answer to diabetes. Diabetics who wish to try ampalaya need not spend money on the tablet, capsule or tea forms of the plant. They can cultivate the plant or buy it from the market and make their own preparation.

To prepare ampalaya extract, the Department of Health says the following steps should be followed: Wash and finely chop leaves. Add six tablespoons of the chopped leaves in two glasses of water. Boil the mixture for 15 minutes in an uncovered pot. Cool down and strain. Drink 1/3 cup of the solution 3 times a day. Alternately, ampalaya tops can be steamed and eaten (1/2 cup 2 times a day).

“One medium-sized banana boasts of 100-125 kilo calories, 4-5 grams fiber, about 400 milligrams potassium, 17 milligrams calcium, 36 milligrams phosphorus and traces of other minerals like iron,” said Professor Kanwar, an eminent biophysicist who writes for the Health Tribune.

No wonder, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Researches conducted recently at the University of Minnesota, School of Medicine, substantiate earlier reports that high potassium diets (banana being one of these) lower blood cholesterol levels.

Mango fruits are bursting with protective nutrients. The vitamin content depends upon the variety and maturity of the fruit, when the mango is green the amount of vitamin C is higher, as it ripens the amount of beta carotene (vitamin A) increases.

A partial list of the many medicinal properties and purported uses attributed to the mango as follows: antiviral, antiparasitic, antiseptic, expectorant, cardiotonic, contraceptive, aphrodisiac, and laxative.

By the way, in treating ailments with herbs and medicinal plants, use only one herb or medicinal plant at a time. Also, don’t use them for other than what is called for, as herbal medicines have specific uses. More importantly, never do experiments; leave them to the experts. — ###

Dreaming of a white Christmas?

by Henrylito D. Tacio

“IF WE had no winter,” English poet Anne Bradstreet once said, “the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” In other words, “If there were no tribulations, there would be no rest; if there were no winter, there would be no summer.” So said Saint John Chrysostom.

I visited the United States for the first time in December 2000. It was winter in New York City and I never knew how cold the season was until I came out ogthe hotel where I was staying the morning after I arrived to take a walk at nearby Central Park.

When I stepped out of the hotel, I immediately experienced the fangs of winter that penetrated the depth of my skin. (Until now, I run out of words to describe the coldness that I “suffered” that time.) I was wearing the usual clothing we wore in the Philippines and a jacket — nothing more.

I walked only a few steps. I couldn’t endure the freezing cold so I had to return to the hotel — pronto!

The bellboy, who saw me coming out, was not surprised to see me going back. He knew that I couldn’t “survive” that long outside with only a thin jacket I used to wear during cold weather in the country. (Now, I know better!)

But I experienced the real kind of winter when I went to my sister Elena, who lived in Hibbing, Minnesota at that time. One early morning, I saw a lot of snow outside while I sat near the windowpane. I went outside and literally slept in the snow. It was very, very cold, of course and after just one minute, I returned inside. My nephew, who saw what I just did, was totally surprised and exclaimed, “You must be crazy, Uncle Henry.”

For the next three weeks, I stayed with the Chase family (my sister is married to Daniel Chase, an electrical engineer just like her). It was then that I experienced riding a snowmobile for the first time in my life with my nephew. Every morning, I had to clean the garage pathway as snow trickled at night.

Twice, I almost slipped when those nasty snows turned into clear ice sheets.

I could have done ice fishing (ever heard of it?) too had I accepted the invitation of Dan’s friend. Remember the Hollywood movie Two Grumpy Old Men? It was shot in Minnesota and both did their ice fishing near the place where my sister lived.

On Christmas Day, the Chase family and myself went to visit Dan’s mother. On our way, I could see the snowflakes falling from heaven. Literally and figuratively, I had my first white Christmas. The most famous and popular of all the Christmas songs written by Irving Berlin came into my mind: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten, and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.”

Another Christmas carol has these classic lines: “In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight. Walking in a winter wonderland.”

Perhaps the most popular song among Filipino children is James Lord Pierpont’s Jingle Bells. Now, please sing with me the most remembered lines: “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh. O’er the fields we go laughing all the way. Bells on bob tail ring, making spirits bright. What fun it is ride and sings a sleighing song tonight.”

Although there is no winter in the Philippines, the season is very popular here. The reason is obvious; Filipinos usually dream and want anything related to the United States. In addition, there are many films in which a winter setting plays an important role. The award-winning Fargo is an example. The film Requiem for a Dream concludes with “Act III: Winter,” in which the movie reaches its hellish and chilling climax.

Winter is one of the four seasons of temperate zones. It is the season with the shortest days and the lowest average temperature. It has colder weather and, especially in the higher latitudes or altitudes, snow and ice. The coldest season of the year, winter occurs between autumn and spring and popularly considered to be constituted by December, January, and February.

A lot of my friends asked me why I wouldn’t stay in the United States for good. My answer is that I could not tolerate too much cold. Winter is good — if only it lasts for just one week; after that, winter is already a pain. Poet Christina Giorgina Rossetti wrote: “Night is long and cold is strong in bleak December.”

Winter is good to look — in postcards. Most Filipinos dream of it! Actually, they don’t how bad the weather is during winter. William Bradford pointed this out: “And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and violent, and subject to cruel and fierce storms.”

Here’s how Georgics author Publius Vergilius Maro describes the final metaphor in a poem celebrating death: “Winter is farmer’s lazy time. In cold weather, the farmers enjoy their gain for the most part and they happily prepare feasts for each other. Friendly winter is inviting and lightens their cares, as when loaded boats at last reach port and the happy sailors place crowns upon the sterns.”
But to those who live in a place where winter is part of their lives, they should welcome the season with gladness. Pietro Aretino suggests, “Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” John Boswell adds, “Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.”

“There is privacy about it which no other season gives you,” said Ruth Stout.

“In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”

Patricia Hampl agrees: “The cold was our pride, the snow was our beauty. It fell and fell, lacing day and night together in a milky haze, making everything quieter as it fell, so that winter seemed to partake of religion in a way no other season did, hushed, solemn.”

Winter is the time when most of the people are inside their home.ÿ Traveling is not much fun; one kilometer becomes two kilometer.ÿ Winter, to some, is a respite. Edith Sitwell said it well: “Winter is the time for comfort — it is the time for home.”

Winter time is no time for gardening. Barbara Winkler argues, “Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle: a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”

“May your days be merry and bright,” so goes the song again, “and may all your Christmases be white.” — ###