Archive for the ‘children’ Category

Octuplets spark debate on medical, socio-economic, & moral issues of assisted pregnancies

January 31, 2009

The birth of 8 babies to an unmarried California woman who already have 6 children and lives with her parents sparked controversies which cover medical, social, economic, moral and rearing issues. The unusual multiple births by caesarian section of octuplets by 33-year old Nadya Suleman didn’t come without the help of fertility treatments. This is according to Angela Suleman, the 31 week-old babies’ grandmother who said her daughter, the mother has been “obssessed” of having children. In spite of having delivered babies in the past, she chose in-vitro fertilization because of clogged fallopian tubes.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) usually involves implanting fertilized embryo (blastocyst stage,) normally no greater than six, usually 2 or 3 in the womb. If more than two embryos take, the patient is given the choice by her physician to keep the babies or kill some of them in an abortion-induced reduction procedure. Many doctors focus on giving the best medical care and they feel it’s not their duty to dig on abortion issues (rights of the unborn) or prescribe how many children their patients must have. Suleman opted to keep all babies whose number was erroneously determined by ultrasound as 7.

Certain religious believers and anti-abortion advocates decry the practice of pregnancy reduction by doctors. Although Suleman rejected the offer to have any of her babies aborted after they were artificially set to develop in utero, there are strong objections on the medical and ethical judgment of implanting the 8 embryos on her who already have six children. There are those who believe the fertility doctor must be investigated and sanctioned for a breach of standard practice.

In 30 years of practice, “I have never provided fertility treatment to a woman with six children,” or ever heard of a similar case, said Dr. David Adamson, former president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and director of Fertility Physicians of Northern California.—Yahoo.News/ AP (01/31/09 Watkins, T; Neergaard, L)

There are strong doubts if the unmarried Suleman has the capacity to care for the 6 boys and 2 girls born premature along with 6 older children, ages 2 to 7. It is unclear whether she is employed, though she lives with her parents who are not financially stable. The parents filed bankruptcy last year with more than $900,000 liabilities. Records show Suleman kept a psychiatric techinician license in 1997 to 2002.

The premature octuplets who are currently cared for in a Kaiser Permanente hospital surely need specialized care. With skyrocketing medical costs in a state teetering towards financial insolvency, many critics fear Suleman may not be able to sustain the duties of a single mom— the physical, psychological, social, and economic demands of rearing 14 dependents. If she can’t keep up with the burden of motherhood, she may require public assistance and the effects on the children are hard to know. It is likely the cost of rearing them will be passed on to taxpayers and society in general. (Photo Credits: byaconnel73170; Ekem PD)=0=

UPDATE: February 2, 2009. Many critics believe the doctor didn’t make good ethical judgmentt in placing at least 8 embryos on Nadya Suleman whose mother Angela is critical of her daughter’s “obssession” to have babies.

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“Yes Virginia, there is Santa Claus!”—remembering Francis Church and the little child in Virginia O’Hanlon

December 24, 2008

For me, one of the best written lores about Christmas was the editorial written by Francis Pharcellus Church, which came out on September 21, 1897 edition of the New York Sun for the little 8-year old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon (1889-1971.)

A mature seasoned reporter and son of a Baptist minister who wrote for newspapers during the Civil War, Francis saw how people suffered because of the dearth of optimism and the usualness of alienation in society. The question he received from Virginia about Santa Claus by mail and his well-thought reply hugged the imagination of those who read them.

“Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter: “Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.”
http://www.nationalchristmascenter.com/exhibits/htm/yesvirginia.htm

Born in Manhattan, Virginia was the daughter of an Upper Eastside assistant coroner. Her complete name was Laura Virginia O’Hanlon and she lived a life of the regular kid of her time at 115 West, 95th Street. She grew up to be an accomplished teacher with a BA (1910) and MA (1912) education from Hunter College and Columbia University respectively.

During her life, countless letters found their way in her mailbox asking about Santa Claus and her unexpected fame. To eager fans, she recounted how her story influenced her life in a wholesome way. Having briefly married with one child, she in old age lived in a nursing home after her retirement from decades of teaching. She passed away on May 17, 1971 at the age of 81 and was interred in a quiet rural burial ground in Chatham, New York. The newspaper New York Sun folded up in 1949. The original letter she sent the newspaper was pasted in a scrapbook which her relatives keep till this day.

I had some emotional reaction banging on my chest each time I read the immortal correspondence of Francis and Virginia. I had memories of how I regarded Christmas as a boy. The idea that the world would be so dreary if there was no Santa Claus because of skepticism made me panicky. The stockings I placed behind the yuletide tree at home for Santa was so real. There was the off-tune Christmas carol about Santa that I sang for our next-door neighbor. It earned me less than a dime, but nonetheless made me very happy. Attendance to the pre-Christmas midnight mass and watching the nativity scene were as gratifying as the long waits I did for the dawn break-ins of the mysterious bearded man with gifts for children from a magical sleigh.

Time was benevolent on Virginia. It transformed her 64 million dollar query and Francis’ answer into a masterpiece, perhaps the most endearing Christmas editorial ever written in America.

From her moving story came the beloved quip “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” All children of the world must have asked their fathers and mothers like Virginia before their fleeting periods of innocence pass by. More than a hundred years went and the whole world still struggles with cynicism, self-doubt, and materialism. People continue to dig what true Christmas really means for all of us. (Photo Credit: Andy_Atsaka; wwww.peteyandpetunia.com; http://www.nationalchristmascenter.com; Karen Navarro/ AP; Andy_Atsaka; Manuel Silvestre/ AP ; Scott Feldstein) =0=

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Fecund birth and elderly parturition

December 19, 2008

The arrival of a baby is one of the happiest moments of a family. It is even happier for the Duggar family in Arkansas that welcomes Jordyn-Grace Makiya, a 7 pound, 3 ounces baby girl, the 18th member of the brood. Jim Bob Duggar and wife Michele who are devoted to parenting have now 10 sons and eight daughters. “The ultimate gift from God,” said the ecstatic father whose baby was born by caesarean section (CS) on Thursday, December 18, 2008 at Mercy Medical Center in Rogers, AK.

In India, a similarly happy couple celebrates the birth of their healthy daughter after a pregnancy that was made possible by fertility treatment. At 70 years old, two decades beyond the usual age of menopause, Rajo Devi delivered by CS at the National Fertility Center in Hisar, India, Monday, Dec. 8, 2008. She and husband Bala Ram, 72, had been trying to have a baby for about ten years in a community which bears stigma on childless couples.

Because of modern technology, changing cultural norms, and individual preferences, more couples like the Duggars and the Rams are able to decide on unusual choices of family size and age of childbearing. It is unclear what these choices will bring to their children of the future. (Photo Credit: AP/ Beth Hall; AP /Devendra Uppal) =0=

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The Traditional man-woman marriage

November 10, 2008

Love the family! Defend and promote it as the basic cell of human
society; nurture it as the prime sanctuary of life. Give great care to the
preparation of engaged couples and be close to young married couples, so
that they will be for their children and the whole community an eloquent
testimony of God’s love.”
–Pope John Paul II, 2001


Marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the foundation of society: if we strengthen marriage, we strengthen the family, we strengthen the children and we strengthen the community. If your goal is to help improve the world, marriage is as good a place as any to start.”—Diane Sollee, Grand Rapids Family Summit, 1998

(Photo Credits: msbernal; msbernal; bloomsdayflowers)

RELATED BLOG:Moral Challenge: angry gays protest ban of same-sex marriage in California” Posted by mesiamd at 11/10/2008

Fun times with Noah

October 27, 2008

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”

I couldn’t agree more with Elizabeth Lawrence, the gardener-writer. Especially so, I received a few photos of Noah, my grandson, the child of my niece Jo Marie D. Cannady who resides in Greensboro, North Carolina. Jo Marie and hubby Matt are pretty delighted by their little boy setting out to discover the outdoors this time that Halloween is across the bend.

Noah was with his little friends in a park riding in a kiddie train a few months ago. Another time I saw him with his grandparents, Joe and Cindy Dacanay of South Carolina on a weekend visit. This time he prepares early for thanksgiving day, choosing his pumpkins from some unnamed garden.

Come Halloween in October 31, 2008, I’m pretty sure he has a costume prepared for the trick a treat and be with friends to knock on doors and fetch a few candies in the street.

Noah reminds me of all the children of the world who bask in the best fleeting moments of their time before “the hour of reason comes knocking at the door.” As I look at his handsome innocent face, it’s as if morning has arrived and the first rays of the sun are trailing in. (Photo Credit: Jo Marie Cannady)=0=


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Charitable work by the poor, the rich and famous

September 16, 2008


Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are indeed so lucky. By being their handsome selves, as celebrities, they can earn millions. Their jobs may be as taxing as the regular workers, but their big earnings are assured. For charity like the $2 million they give to the Ethiopian children affected with AIDS and tuberculosis, they must be honored and appreciated.

Ethiopia ranks seventh among the world’s nations with the highest rate of tuberculosis. About1.7 million Ethiopians are infected with HIV, according to the World Health Organization (WHO.) Because of AIDS, up to a million children in Ethiopia have lost their parents.

The money will be used to create a center for AIDS and tuberculosis-affected children in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and to help establish a program) program to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis,” in a statement by the Global Health Committee (GHC) on September 15, 2008.” AFP/Inquirer (09/16/08).


The remarkable deeds of Angelina and Brad who raise 6 children (3 are adopted,) must serve as inspirations to poor people as well. Even without money, persons who want to help society can partake of their time, energy, and ideas which can benefit the unfortunate in our midst.

In this week’s Time magazine (Sept. 22, 2008,) there is an article on ways to help the Americans. They aren’t exactly applicable to Filipinos, but from the basic principles, some insights can be learned and a course of action can be pursued. Charity doesn’t always need money.

Twelve Money-wise Ways to Help the Philippines

1. Join groups that advocate honesty, transparency, and eradication of corruption in government. People with similar political, social, and religious convictions give strength to a cause and help unify the nation. Movements like Kaya Natin, Kawad Kalinga, and Philippine Red Cross inspire hope and action rather than despair and inaction.
2. Visit places to learn from other’s way of life. Being with Mindanao Muslims for instance promotes understanding of socio-cultural beliefs and religion.
3. Don’t be idle at retirement. Working beyond retirement i.e. volunteering in church, schools, hospitals and prisons have dividends for the community. A 50-year old retiree has about 25 years more time to be productive.
4. Encourage public service in a barangay. Civics help strengthen the nation.
5. Be a Santa Claus beyond Christmas. Generous giving beyond families, relatives, and friends foster compassion.
6. Be active in PTAs and school activities. Volunteer to mentor a child. Education is an asset that’s usually undervalued by children and their parents.
7. Set a day in a year to be with orphans, prisoners, disabled and the aged.
8. Incorporate your ideals into programs of action. People who render free service change lives and improve the communities they live in.
9. Take responsibility. Prepare for hard times rather than ignore them. Calamities like typhoons, fires, earthquakes, and even financial bankruptcies are occurrences that need preparation.
10. Elect honest leaders in government. You must learn from past politics which has brought indolence, mediocrity, thievery, and incompetence in government.
11. Follow the law.
12. Plant a tree; help build a community garden, and support the environment. =0=

“Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?”—by Rev. Fulton J. Sheen

Jokes louder than walnuts breaking, an “H” in a name, and an Ibalon child of tomorrow

September 14, 2008

Each time I look at the pictures of Dr. Ramon Ray G. Rayel and his wife Bessie , I can’t help recall our days in UP Ibalon and Molave Residence Hall in Diliman campus. Things are far better now for my cardiologist-buddy who travelled the world to go to Philadelphia, PA, Nova Scotia, CAN, Iron Mountain, Michigan and a bit later settle to a beautiful place called Clearwater, Wisconsin.

From the Philippines to Australia, to Canada, and the United States, Dr. Rayel has been hot in the business of taking care of the heart. A self-deprecating humorous guy from Polangui, Albay who knows by rigid training the workings of the fist-sized pulsatile organ in the chest, Ray throws jokes louder than the pop of champagne and the sound of cracking walnuts in a charcoal grill. When he plays sports, he shoots the basketball right at the goal to win.

With that stubborn curly hair on his head, Ray watches, listens, and patiently dispenses remedies at the heart’s murmurings. Like a one-man charitable institution, he helps all those who come to him with problems, including those who need treatments and those requiring some baring of the soul.

His best contribution to the world however is nothing less than the cute and cuddly little Bea, Ray’s youngest kid in the brood of three who delights us with her big smile, fashionista sunglasses, and that kiddie backpack (see photo.) It is something we like to see the pixie angel do for her doting parents. By a stretch of imagination, I thought she may look like her loving grandma, the late Lourdes G. Rayel.

Coming to New York a year ago, little Bea proves to be a child of today and tomorrow. Nimble, smart, and delightfully inquisitive the girl with big round eyes and a budding sense of humor is a joy to watch. As I relish looking at her sit comfortably with her parents in their warm and cozy living room, I have to thank God for taking good care of the family who makes me and all Ibalonians happy and proud.

A true friend who taught many to rein over their personal devils, conquer health difficulties, look ahead, and appreciate life’s unexpected complexities, Ray gifted me with a name which to this day I respond to like a poodle. His generous counsel before I took trainings in UP-PGH, SUNY Downstate & NYU Medical Center became part of my decision to be a pathologist—for which I am very thankful.

The only wise advise Ray gave me which I rejected (I’m sorry Ray!) was to put an “H” on the spelling of my nickname. Shown to me in a crumpled paper, I thought it was “elegant” with the concurrence of Drs. Arnel V. Malaya, Mario B. Genio, and Julius A. Lecciones who excitedly insisted it would make the eyes of other Bicolanos spin. They expected the “H” would make me popular and the Ibalon girls would swoon. But there was a hitch. The spelling couldn’t bear the persona of their buddy: the slow itinerant “promdi” (from the province) of Naga, Camarines Sur! =0=

International Literacy Day: education opens the golden door

September 9, 2008

Bilang mga bata, tayo’s pag-asa ng mundo, bilang kabataan tayo’y realidad.”

“Como mga aki, kita esperanza nin kinaban, como mga jovenes kita an realidad.”

“De ninos somos la esperanza del mundo; de jovenes una realidad.”

As children we are the hope of the world; as youth we are a reality.

–Revisita Maryknoll(09/08 Vol.29, #7)

On a wonderful day, UP Ibalon’s Dan Daz, an artistic photographer of Legazpi City, Philippines takes this picture in a feeding center in Rapu-Rapu, Albay of an innocent child who’s among the hopes of our country. Poverty can be an obstacle to literacy, but nurturing brings hope. What does she want to be in the future? Education transforms and opens the golden door.(International Literacy Day, September 8, 2008) Photo Credits: Dan Daz; JunCruznaLigas; http://www.UN.org)

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The Ibalon Children

July 16, 2008

Alas! James Baldwin was right about children when he said:

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

I was in New York University Langone Medical Center psyching myself up, casting away worry while I was in the hospital. That was before I got my boost of two units of PRBC’s—irradiated packed red blood cells, blood type O pos, E-, K- Fya- Fyb- Jkb- S-, and CMV-.

Like before, the nurses complained of the blood bank’s difficulty for a compatible blood type. Vicious antibodies were wrecking my red cells. Testing and matching were hard. But I was unwilling to dwell on that. Instead, I quietly stared at the cerulean reflection of the shimmering East River below, 14 stories down my window, feeling the joy of that bright sunny summer day.

Before the Benadryl and Tylenol pills hugged my senses to sleep, I was miles away, dreaming of wonderful things the world had shown me. I was able to put my illness at the back of my head. I rested comfortably at the onset of the transfusion like the guy in that very old movie, Soylent Green, except, I was there not to die, but to pursue life.

Buried in my reverie, I had my laptop in front of me. I got emails streaming after the right electrical outlet kept the machine running. The one from Gods Lanuza was particularly interesting. He sent me a very late birthday greeting which was more than compensated by a few attached beautiful pictures.

My Ibalonian pal showed his latest family picture with wife Julie Surtida from Vancuover, BC. Thia, his special little girl was with a profusion of blooms. The field of spring tulips was breathtaking. Looking at them, I felt I wasn’t in no immediate need of blood at all. Their fiery red color quickly bathed my pale ailing RBC’s to life.

From Manila, Dr. Arnel V. Malaya and his wife, the former Dr. Josie Canlas, sent me the picture of their only daughter Tintin, another Ibalon angel who lives in Katipunan Road, just a stone’s throw from UP Diliman Campus. In her yellow blouse, cute Tintin looked so innocent and smart like the budding little lady next door. She was a toddler, barely able to rise from her crib when Arnel and Josie showed me her picture a few years ago.

In a separate file, I looked at the picture of 7-year old Andre Mesia-Romano, my nephew who arrived from Florida with her mom Annie a week ago to visit me. I wished I had Andre’s boundless energy and sharpness of mind. When he knew my laptop’s audio wasn’t working well, he handily fixed it so he could show me his favorite videos. The smart little boy from Jacksonville’s Trinity Grade School reminded me of Garrison Keillor’s loving thought about children:

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”

Close by in Long Island, New York there was this picture of Bingbing Badiola’s little Brandon with loving dad Dave. I remembered Mommy Franz Badiola and her Ibalon brood in a recent reunion: Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Adolfo (Totoy) Badiola, Monette Septimo-Badiola etc.—and their families.

Then, I dug into the calmly family picture of Dr. Yasmin Paje in Canada (see top photo.) One of my favorite Ibalon dames, Min exuded her grace and maternal instinct to the hilt—far more than the mothering and deanship she showed us when we were in UP. Her three smart children, including only boy Alfonso, had grown so fast under the care of Poppa Joel Banzon, the doting father of the brood.

All the photos made me impervious against fear and doubt. I went home strong and energized after the procedure. It was good I had that small cache of pictures which I wanted to show you in this wall. I recalled them all—those who continued to touch and brighten the way for UP Ibalon’s next generation. =0=