Why Are We Paranoid of “Musta Na?”

Disclaimer: Everything that is written is based on my personal experience and views.

There’s an ongoing joke on Facebook about correlating the word “Musta na?” to someone who’s about to ask for favor. Therefore, to avoid the pain of the consequences of being burdened to grant the favor— they simply avoid replying to the texts or chats.

What is so worrying about seeing the words “Musta na?” Partially, it’s because we’re in the age wherein communication have become one-sided since the growth of social media (socmed).

Before the socmed age, people take time to visit their friends and loved ones. They spent time reconnecting. There was a give and take in terms of the information that they shared. People are excited and sometimes very eager to know on what’s the latest about each other’s families. Today, everybody can just post anything that they want to share. So, it lessens the curiosity of the people. The “musta na” comment on your Facebook wall becomes the new “hi and hello.” Sometimes, it becomes the ice breaker .

In the past, you cannot hide your real economic status 100% when your friends or family visit. Hence, they don’t assume that you’re loaded when they feel that there is struggle in your daily life; they would rather let go of the idea of borrowing money or asking for favor. Today, it is easy to project to be somebody you are not so the words “musta na” make others nervous because somebody might ask for something that they aren’t willing to give.

People used to do “telebabad” for reasons like reconnection, getting to know each other, chismis, killing time etc. Both parties take time to communicate. Today, you can ignore a text message, an email or a chat and get back to it at your most convenient time. “Musta na” becomes a code wherein the recipient has the option of replying to it or not.

In the past, “musta na” is a symbol of one’s affection and concern. I grew up on it, I am still that person up to now. “Musta na” from family or friends do not intimidate me as I am vocal about what I can or cannot grant in case they ask for favor.


Maximino delos Reyes of Bataan

“Sa silong ng langit
doon sa Puerto Rivas.
Ay may isang talang
Maximino delos Reyes
ang kanyang pangalan.
Nagbigay ng ningning
sa buong Bataan.”

I am not sure if I got the lyrics right.
My late father used to sing it during his frisky moments.
I think he found the lyrics catchy.
On a serious note, I believe he was just too proud of his “kababaryo.”

(And by the way, is there really such a jingle?)

The Maximino Delos Reyes that I was aware of was the
“Maximino Delos Reyes Memorial School” in Puerto Rivas,
Balanga, Bataan
. Before 1957, it was known as Puerto Rivas
Elementary School. The school was renamed to honor the man who
donated the land. Actually, the land where the public cemetery
lies was also his donation.

Maximino Delos Reyes’ name has a recall because of the school.
Unfortunately, much information is not known about this gentleman.
Born and raised in Puerto Rivas, Balanga, Bataan in 1887, his
short yet successful career started when he wrote moro-moro
and zarzuela.

If Francisco Baltazar was the pride of
Bulacan, Maximino Delos Reyes was his counterpart in Bataan.
He also worked in La Independencia as a press censor.
His popularity earned him a post as Bataan governor for 4 years
and he dedicated another 6 years of his life for public service.
After retiring from politics, he focused on his lumber business.

Maximino died in 1928 at only 40 years old. He left behind Rosita
and their four children Aurora, Eliseo, Mario and Gloria.
The most well-known among them was the late Gloria Delos Reyes-Talastas,
an educator.

Francisco Baltazar of Bulacan and Bataan

If Francisco Baltazar were alive, do you think that he would be a famous writer? Or perhaps blogger? I was a second year high school student when I read his most popular work of art, Florante at Laura.

It was not because I was interested, it was because we were required to read his book and occasionally recite some of the stanzas. Francisco Dela Cruz Balagtas was born in April 2, 1788 in Panginay, Bigaa, Bulacan. Bigaa is now known as Balagtas. Born to a poor family, Kiko had to work as a servant to the wealthy Trinidad family of Tondo. This gave him the opportunity to finish his studies in Colegio de San Jose and then later in San Juan de Letran.

He had an inborn talent for writing and he was able to use it to his advantage. Being a hopeless romantic, he created poems for the women that caught his eyes. His greatest love (before meeting his wife) and greatest pain was a lovely lady named Maria Asuncion Rivera. He called her “Celia” in his writings and signed his works as “Francisco Baltazar.” He used this pseudonym until such a time when he legally registered it under the governor decree (adopt a standardized Filipino name and surname) issued by Narciso Claveria. Loving Celia caught the ire of his rival, the wealthy cacique, Nanong Capule of Malabon. He pressed false charges against Kiko with the aid of a paid witness. Kiko was said to be spreading false rumors about Celia and her family. He was sent to jail but what broke his spirit was when Celia married Capule. It was said that the Florante at Laura was a reflection of his own life and love story. In 1838, he was released from the jail and his works were already published.

O Love! Thou all-omnipotent one,
Who sporteth ev’n with sire and son;
Once sworn to thee, a heart then on
Defies all else: thy will be done.

He moved to Balanga, Bataan to start a new life. He accepted a job there and then later on met Juana Rodriguez Tiambeng who came from a rich family in Udyong (now known as Orion). Their union produced 11 children but only 4 made it to adulthood. Their most famous child was Victor who organized and led the local Katipunan unit in Udyong in the revolt against the Spaniards in 1898.

His quiet life did not last long as another problem costed them not only his freedom but their money, as well. For the second time, he was imprisoned in 1849 for allegedly cutting the hair of Alferez Lucas’ servant. He was released in 1860 and he came back to an impoverished house as their money was used for his case resolution. He went back to writing to support his family. Two years after his release, his health deteriorated. His famous last words to his wife on his death bed were “Ipinagbibilin kong mahigpit sa iyo, putlan mo ng mga daliri ang sinuman sa ating mga supling ang mangangahas na humawak ng panulat at magtatangkang manaludtod.” He discouraged any of his children from writing because as most people believe during those times, writers did not make any money.

He died in February 20, 1862 and was buried in Udyong. Balagtas Day is celebrated in Bulacan and then in Bataan (since 2018) to commemorate the most notable Filipino poet of all times.

Why I Never Felt How Strong the 1990 Earthquake Was

Hyatt Hotel in Baguio
Image taken from the ABS-CBN News site

Natural disasters and heinous crimes were familiar news headlines in the 90s. The series of misfortunes started on July 16, 1990, when a deadly quake hit most parts of Luzon. What do I remember? I could start the story by recalling the events that happened from that Monday morning until the evening. They say that in the absence of modern equipment that could predict an earthquake, we could rely on the changes in animal behavior for some clues. I remember that during the weekend, there were more ants than usual and our dogs appeared restless. But other than that, there were no signs of a forthcoming disaster like a small earthquake. Back in the 90s, July and August were the peaks of the rainy season. But on that particular month, the rainfall was lighter than the previous year. I should know because our barangay has always been the catchbasin and our yard was dry when the earthquake happened.

After school, I went home and started doing my assignments. It was around 3:30 PM when the statue of the Sto. Nino started dancing. I got scared and thought of it as a paranormal event. I realized that there was a strong earthquake when the figurines began moving. Being prone to motion sickness, I jumped up and down to prevent myself from feeling the quake. As a consequence, I did not have any idea of how strong it was and thought of it as one of the regular quakes we had. My mother checked me on the phone; I assured her that I was good.

Malakas ah. Hindi ka nahilo? (It was strong. You didn’t feel dizzy?)” she asked.

I assured her that I was okay. She asked if my brother was home. I told her that he was still in school. I was home alone. The aftershocks lasted for another 30 minutes. I went out of the house and saw neighbors on their windows. They were alarmed but they did not look scared. After another 30 minutes, my father came home and if you knew him, you could imagine the tension on his face. He asked about my brother and I told him that he was not home yet. He checked on his walkie-talkie and found that it was muted. (I muted it because I was doing my homework earlier). I expected him to get mad at me for not hearing him but he left the house and probably went to check my brother in school.

Since we were not yet in the age of social media or advanced satellite reporting, I had no idea about the damages in the other areas. We knew that some parts of Luzon were affected but the recorded footage was shown on TV the following day only. I could not remember if our school suspended the classes for one week or two weeks. I used those times to listen to the news or watch TV about the rescue operations in Baguio, Pangasinan, and Nueva Ecija. Unfortunately, it became a retrieval operation later on.

I have yet to confirm it but it was said that Bea Lucero was among those who were checked in in either Nevada or Hyatt. She survived when she used her athletic skills to run as fast as she could. Years later, I saw the remaining rubble of these hotels. What I could not forget until now is the interview of a young high school girl whose lower body was trapped under large debris. She was lying face down and was obviously in great pain. Before she passed, she said “I love you” to her parents. It would be any parents’ nightmare if a similar thing happens to their child.

The Big One can happen anytime soon so we should learn from the 1990 7.7 magnitude earthquake. We should teach our children about what to do during and after an earthquake. We should inspect our house for structural defects like diagonal cracks. The same goes for our children’s school. We may not prevent another big earthquake but with stronger structures, we have a chance to survive.