The angel and the witch | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

CHONALYN, the 100th millionth baby girl, greets us with her shy smile from the front page of the Inquirer (July 28 issue). She looks triumphant in her journey from her mother’s life-giving womb to the light at the end of the tunnel—our living world.

Chonalyn has become my poster girl for our anti-RH law movement.

“She’s a gift from heaven!” her mother, Dailin Cabigayan explains. She is single, and a poor household helper.

“We have plans to get married,” her father, Clemente Sentino, said. “My job as a delivery driver pays regularly. We’ll find a way to make it.”

The birth of the 100th millionth Filipino is reported by Inquirer writers in a celebratory tone. This annoys pro-RH law pushers who hold the opinion that population growth has a negative effect on the nation’s economy (mismanaged by the government) and is bad for the well-being of our society (victimized by elected government officials plundering billions in taxpayer’s money).

Obviously, baby girl Chonalyn is a source of immense joy for her poor mother and struggling wage earner father.

Why didn’t Dailin, Chonalyn’s mother, take the pill? A baby would have been an extra burden in her job as a household helper.

Why didn’t Clemente, the father, suggest early on to Dailin to go to a government clinic performing abortions? His income is a pittance.

In the hearts of man

It must be the intuitive adherence to the moral law—or what retired Pope Benedict XVI describes as being “written in the hearts of man.” It’s what’s written in the hearts of Dailin and Clemente, parents of baby girl Chonalyn.

This also tells us that sanctity of life cannot be a judgment made by Mahar Mangahas’ SWS survey, the data source of pro-RH lawmakers.

I can’t take my eyes off baby girl Chonalyn. She’s an angel. So full of life! So huggable!

I thank God for Chonalyn’s arrival in this country with a Christian culture, where life is sacred and celebrated as God wishes us to do.

I discern a strong spiritual symbol in the birth of our 100 millionth Filipino citizen. God does not approve of a man-made RH law.

Only He, in his mysterious ways, has the say on the future of an individual person.

We have no business preempting God’s will.

Former Rep. Edcel Lagman is now running insecure.

Lagman said that the birth of baby Chonalyn should prompt the administration to immediately implement the RH law “with reasonable alacrity.”

“An increasing population imperils finite resources and strains limited budgets,” he said.

Or think small. What a way out for cynics!


I want to imagine that being a gentleman-farmer is a graceful way to grow old.

To plow the earth, to plant seeds and watch them grow. Humans are children of the soil.

To harvest a tomato tree, or string beans, or to pick a ripened rambutan from the tree. Nature is kind.

Then years ago, typhoon Pepeng blew all my plants to smithereens.

The leaves were ripped off the fruit trees, their branches snapped.

The tomatoes and string beans were uprooted and shredded.

My caretaker, Mio, said, “Pailalim po ang hampas ng hangin. Hinukay po nila ang tanim, kaya nabunot at nagkaluray-luray ang mga kamatis at beans.”

I was totally devastated. I couldn’t decide whether to call it a loss or plant again. Malupit!

I didn’t rotate crops anymore. I just settled for waiting for the fruit trees to bloom again in two years’ time.

My caretaker Mio quickly cleared up the mess, gathered all the debris, and burned them in a mound.

Mio’s wife, Puring, cried. I realized the trauma typhoons inflict on the people in a village farm.

Last week, typhoon Glenda, the evil witch, blew over to inflict her wrath.

My wife and I went to Laguna to inspect damages to our mini fruit orchard.


The scene on the way was ghastly.

Starting from the town of Bay all the way to Calauan, Pila and Sta. Cruz, the devastation was horrible and demoralizing.

Houses, business structures and livelihood shops were blown away. Rice fields were flattened, coconut tops ripped off,  banana plants torn to shreds, and fruit trees felled. People went around wet, hungry and homeless.

Further down the lakeshore towns of Paete, Pakil and Pangil, art shops specializing in woodcarving and papier-mâché were damaged, too. These towns make huge income from craft exports such as home ornaments and Christmas decors.

Our area, the mountain towns of Lucban, Majayjay, Liliw and Nagcarlan, the vegetable basket of the Calabarzon region, lost its future harvest.

Mountain towns have the good rainfall and cold climate, ideal for vegetable farming.

At the base of these mountain towns, commercial-scale vegetables, the table’s staple or the high value variety, are raised in big hectarage. They were all totally damaged. Farmers mostly earmark the incomes of these farms for the high school and college education of their children.

Some 20 typhoons batter the Philippine archipelago every year.

The provinces in the typhoon paths are some of the poorest. In Luzon, it’s the Bicol region that’s always badly hit with spillover into the Calabarzon provinces, flooding the city of Manila with torrential rains.

From the tip of Bicol, the typhoon paths include the Visayan provinces.

Rice, coconuts, vegetables, fruit trees and fishing are the main sources of livelihood in rural communities of the Philippines.

Typhoons are the main destroyer of the Philippine economy, which is heavily dependent on agriculture for its survival.

Our economic planners did not have the imagination and foresight to develop an industrialized economy like Japan, Taiwan, China and Korea, economies that are more typhoon resistant.

Para sa mga dukhang namumuhay sa typhoon paths, the constant refrain is “hindi na kami makaahon sa hirap.”

“Kaunting tiis, magtanim uli tayo, kung di magugutom tayo.”

“Tagpian na lang yung bubong ng anahaw, pag pinadalhan tayo ng pera ni Itoy mula sa Saudi saka natin palitan ng yero.”

“Mahirap lang kami, walang pang-matrikula ang anak ko kaya nag-tricycle driver na lang ang anak ko—di naming kayang magpaaral ng high school”

“May diabetes daw ang mister ko, pero wala naman kaming pambayad sa duktor eh; diyan sa albularyo dalawang piso lang.”

It’s not so much because crops were destroyed. It’s not so much because their huts were blown away.

Para sa mga dukhang nakatira sa typhoon paths, barrios and seashores, malimit silang mawalan ng pagasa.

The most damaging thing typhoons inflict on humans, especially the poor, is something psychological—fatalism.

Fatalism predestines people to think they will always be poor because any effort  to make their land productive will always be destroyed by typhoons.

Glenda, you’re a real witch!

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