Verbal abuse: how far does it affect a child victim?

Verbal abuse is a specific type of emotional abuse. Most often, the aggression happens right at home. And victims are often not keen on reporting it because they think it’s the norm in their household. They rather keep the impact within themselves.

What is verbal abuse?

verbal abuseVerbal abuse, also known as name calling, exists in almost all societies. It occurs when words are used as weapons to attack another – where the victim is subjected to insults, racist or offensive remarks. Abuse also comes in the form of sexist or homophonic jokes and teasing using sexually suggestive or abusive language.

Sadly, it happens at the very place where you thought you are safest – at home! And the problem is that the victims are not keen on sharing their ordeal with outsiders for many varied reasons. One of which is that they view verbal aggression as a common thing in the household that everyone should accept. And so, they opt to keep the suffering within themselves.

Let’s take the case of Kate (not her real name).

Kate is a 12-year-old girl, whose mother left the family home when she was 4 years old. She stayed with her father, grandfather, and aunts. Her father and grandfather are foul-mouthed, cursing every now and then. Bad language is apparently part of their daily language.

At home, Kate constantly receives a lot of offensive remarks. She is scolded for every little mistake she makes. And even if those words were uttered matter-of-factly, they seemed to impact her in a negative way.

Over the years, Kate became withdrawn. The once cheerful and sociable kid that she was has turned into a loner. She has lost her self-esteem. Her teachers complained about her unwillingness to participate in class.

Kate’s deteriorating attitude started to become evident when she turned 9 years old.

Verbal abuse leaves scars

Clearly, those lashing out episodes at home takes a toll on the young Kate. She is just one of tens of thousands more who are suffering silently. Many victims of verbal abuse live in homes or environments where bad language is common. They have become accustomed to this kind of situation that they often consider it “normal”. They don’t see themselves as victims of abuse. Unfortunately, though, the impact runs deep into their subconscious.

Different studies have revealed that victims of verbal abuse are most likely to develop certain physical ailments in the long run, like chronic pain, migraine and frequent headaches, stammering, ulcers and several other stress-related heart problems.

verbal abuse

Not only these!

Verbal abuse eventually etches a psychological mark on the victims. Most likely, they become highly prone to

  • depression
  • fear and anxiety
  • stress and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • intrusive memories
  • memory gap disorder
  • sleep or eating problems
  • hypervigilance and exaggerated startle responses
  • irritability
  • anger issues
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • suicide
  • self-mutilation
  • assaultive behaviours

Name-calling is not a common thing of the present generation only or in a particular culture. Even Scripture constantly warned the ancient people to be careful in their use of words. In the Books of Proverbs and Psalms, Sirach emphasized that verbal abuse is tantamount to physical aggression. It can even be more lethal at times.

Our responsibility

How does the verbal abuse issue concern you and me? Don’t say it’s none of your business, please! Since we belong to a community, you and I have the responsibility to help our neighbour and alleviate the victim’s situation. Here are some ways we can help the victims.

  • Ask if something is wrong. Most often, you will notice some major personality changes in the victim. Don’t wait for the victim to come to you.  He or she might be hesitant to speak up.
  • Express your concern. But do not readily judge or condemn the abuser.
  • Listen and validate the issue. But don’t pressure the victim to immediately speak up.
  • Offer help, but do not give advice.
  • Support the victim’s decision. Do not set conditions for your support.

Studies further show that verbally abused children of today are likely to turn abusers in the future.

So, let’s stop the vicious cycle before it would be too late. The best way we can do it is to start with ourselves, the adults. After all, it’s us that children look up to. You see, our tongue is like a two-edged sword. It can either make or break a person. Mark Kinzer says in his book,

“Careless words are a problem because they reflect a careless heart.”

If you are prone to speaking bad words, perhaps you can start bridling your tongue now. Save your own family member from verbal abuse.

The Urban Boys: a book for all age groups

Book review

the urban boysThe Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses
By K.N. Smith

[I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review]

The story of K.N. Smith’s The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses’ is centered around five teenage friends. It is set in a remote location called Danville Heights, a town secluded by a thick forest. It has a population of fewer than 12,000 people. And so it’s no surprise that everyone knows everybody in the neighborhood.

Kinsu, Chase, Alex, Jordan, and Rhee attend Danville Heights High School. Three of whom are football players in the Danville Heights Chargers team. The boys’ otherwise typical teenage life started to change right after the Chargers won a football match against another school.

Instead of going straight home that evening, the boys decided to venture into a mysterious preserve, a place considered forbidden by the older folks of the town. That first visit to the forest became the turning point of their lives. Some strange energy force entered their bodies without them knowing it. They acquired special gifts of the senses. Since then, their meetings at the preserve became a nightly adventure as they seek answers to what had happened to them.

Their adventure led them farther to Sandry Lake in the north, a town that possesses a gravitational lure for the boys. This town was once a progressive community. But it has fast deteriorated into an isolated wasteland as a hoodlum dominates the place. An evil man, who calls himself Druth, and his goons rob and terrorize the citizens, forcing them to either desert Sandry Lake or live in constant fear.

With their newly-acquired powers, the five boys would come stealthily at night to fight Druth’s goons and save the people of Sandry Lake. But a sudden twist of events caught the boys in a dilemma when their respective families found out their nightly adventure.

‘The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses‘ displays K.N. Smith’s mastery in interweaving suspense and values through her poetic style of writing. The story is also well-paced. Not only does Smith tells a story. She imparts the importance of family, honesty, friendship, teamwork, and determination. She says, as spoken by the boys’ football coach:

“Let me tell you something about life. Sometimes, you’ll be down. You’ll be out. The help you thought you had vanishes, disappears, and you think your world has ended. Let me tell you that the only way you will survive is through faith and character.”
The author aptly chose the title of the book because the boys’ mission is not confined only in Danville Heights and Sandry Lake. K.N. Smith makes it clear that the vocation to help others is boundless.

Find out how the boys use their powers and what makes them stay together despite their own personal struggles. Read ‘The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses’. There is so much to learn from this action-adventure book. It’s a good read for all ages.

Typhoon Yolanda survivors stitch life back up again

typhoon Yolanda
Compassion backpack

Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) have started rebuilding their lives. With the help of concerned groups, they sew functional bags for livelihood.

It may have been the worst blow that happened to their lives. But once again, Filipinos show the world how resilient they are! Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda that hit Eastern Visayas in the Philippines on November 8, 2013, have started rebuilding their lives.

While they may never forget the kind hearted souls who were quick to respond to their call for help, these survivors in Tacloban knew they cannot remain dependent on dole-outs forever. They needed something that could sustain them throughout their lives. They need a livelihood.

Typhoon Yolanda survivors sew functional backpacks

And so, with the help of young patriots from various sectors in the country, they decided to venture into sewing for commercial purpose.  They choose to sew functional backpacks. The concept behind the making of these bags is to create a disaster-resilient industry against an economy of dependency for survivors. The local government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) also extended additional technical skills training to them.

Survivors purposely call their bags Compassion since it calls for our continued support. By purchasing this bag, you will greatly help them rebuild their lives. And you will not regret getting it. Each of the distinctively identifiable bright red backpacks is 50% upcycled and made of these components:

  • the outer cover is made of high-grade Japanese truck tarpaulins
  • its inner lining is made of pre-loved jeans
  • it uses military-grade nylon thread for all stitching
  • each bag is sealed with genuine YKK zippers
  • it bears stylish leather lash tabs
  • its large inner pocket snugly fits a 13″ Macbook or any standard folder
  • its jean pockets can store the things you would normally have to keep in a pocket
  • it’s weather-resistant

typhoon Yolanda

Since its introduction to the market, Compassion instantly gained significant patronage. Some of the first to purchase the bag include artists, celebrities, designers, chefs, athletes, and social workers. And so far, the response from the public is overwhelming. In fact, each Compassion has now become a badge.

For purchasing the bag and for more information about Compassion, you may contact Taclob directly.


Get Compassion and give more…

For every Compassion backpack purchased, you help create jobs for the Yolanda survivors. You also get to support an eco-friendly and upcycled design. But most importantly, you will have the opportunity to help the children survivors cope up with the trauma of typhoon Yolanda.

Courage: keeping Yolanda children survivors afloat

When you buy a Compassion bag, you give a multi-functional school bag to a typhoon child survivor.

Courage bag

Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which hit the Eastern Visayas part of the Philippines, are determined to get back on their feet again.  With the assistance of compatriots and leading bag makers in the country, they start rebuilding their lives by sewing weather-resistant backpacks for commercial purposes.  The good thing about it is that not only do they aim to establish an income-generating project.  Survivors also keep survival preparedness in mind.

Along with the iconic bright red Compassion bags, they also make backpacks cum flotation device designed to equip young children in case something like Yolanda happens again.  Aptly called Courage, the bag aims to provide children a fighting chance in case of emergency.  It is also meant to help address a deep emotional trauma of uncertainty that still haunts children survivors to this day.

Get Compassion and give more…

A Courage bag is given to a child survivor every time you buy a Compassion backpack for yourself or as a gift item for someone else. Each Courage bag, which contains art materials and school supplies, has these features:

  • constructed with high-density, water-resistant nylon fabric
  • double stitched with military-grade nylon thread to ensure longevity
  • reflective striping on the front and back to enhance visibility at night or during search and rescue operations
  • utilizes two empty 2-liter PET bottles strapped to the side of the bag to keep a child afloat

Watch the video and see how Courage works.

Survivors who sew both Compassion and Courage got additional technical skills training from TESDA  (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority).

For details on how to help children survivors and purchase Compassion bags, please do visit Taclob.

Misa de Aguinaldo: what do you wish for?

Tomorrow, December 16, starts the official observance of Christmas season, which will last until the Epiphany, or during the commemoration of the Magi’s visit to the Child Jesus.

Simbang Gabi

In the Philippines, the celebration commences with Misa de Aguinaldo or Simbang Gabi, a reverential nine-dawn Masses practiced by both the Roman Catholics and Aglipayans in deference to the Blessed Virgin Mary as they anticipate the birth of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

The liturgical importance of Christmas stems from the Season of Advent, the time when believers spiritually prepare and purify themselves to be worthy to receive the Child Jesus. Simbang Gabi, which literally means Night Mass, is actually done as early as 4 o’clock in the morning.

ParolDuring the Christmas season, Filipinos adorn their homes with colorful star-shaped lanterns called parol. Many, if not most, of which are personally hand-crafted according to the owner’s desire. The parol is traditionally believed to serve as an illumination for the parishioners in making their way to the church.  Also, during this period, children and adults alike would go from house to house singing Christmas carols in exchange for an amount of money or goodies.

Many Filipino Catholics believe that if a parishioner who makes a wish during the dawn Masses and is able to complete all nine dawns of the Simbang Gabi, his or her wish would come true. This has been a centuries-old belief that is still kept alive even up to the present.  Many priests, however, observe that only the first and the ninth dawn of the Simbang Gabi seem to have the greatest number of church-goers.

KakaninSimbang Gabi culminates on December 24 or Christmas Eve, which is called the Misa de Gallo or Mass of the Gifts. Shortly after the Misa de Gallo, families gather together in their homes for the Nochebuena, or the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, where they feast on local delicacies and some conventional dishes, like lechon (or roast pig), fried chicken, hamon, pancit, lumpia, fruit salad, spaghetti, quezo de bola, and a lot more.



The history of Simbang Gabi in the Philippines can be traced back to 1669 during the early days of Christianity. Since the Christmas season was also a harvest period, it was customary to hold thanksgiving novenas in the evenings. But the priests noticed that, although still enthusiastic to participate in the Mass, their parishioners, especially farmers, were already tired after a day’s work. And so, the Spanish friars decided to begin the Mass very early in the morning, instead, to allow farmers to participate in it before they proceeded to their fields.  

Since then, this important Christmas tradition became a distinct Philippine culture and recognized as a symbol of sharing. After each dawn Mass, Filipino families, and even individuals, would share different traditional Christmas foods and drinks, such as bibingka, or rice cake cooked in clay stove; puto; suman; tsokolate; salabat or ginger tea; kape (coffee) and; other regional delicacies.  

The reason why most of the pastries were traditionally made of rice or carbohydrates was to fill the stomach of farmers before they proceeded to their farms.  At present, however, other delicacies are prepared and readily available at the church’s premises for easy access to parishioners.

Impact of slander: what is your responsibility?

It is unfortunate how we could be so tactless at times, unleashing words that can hurt – or worse, destroy – other people. Religious, political, cultural, and social bigotry are often the issues why we tend to be biased against other groups that don’t belong to our own.  The tragedy that happened in Bohol and Cebu brought both empathy and indifference from different sectors.  What made it painful to bear for the survivors was not much on the physical devastation that they suffered from the earthquake, but the insensitive remarks of some sects and individuals.

Bohol earthquake
Survivor of the earthquake in Bohol fleeing from the area.

By God’s grace, I was so fortunate to be 264 kilometers away from the epicenter of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol, Cebu, and other parts of Central Philippines and Mindanao in the early morning of October 15, 2013. What I felt only at 8:14 of that fateful morning was a slight swaying of the earth beneath my feet that lasted for about a minute, enough to make me feel dizzy..  

But my heart goes out to the Boholanos and Cebuanos who had to brace up against falling objects and buildings, possible breaking of the ground, and the threat of tsunami. Good thing authorities quickly ruled out the possibility of tidal wave.

It is heart-breaking, however, to know that some lives have to end and scores injured as buildings crumble over them. Ancient structures, specifically churches, that have withstood all kinds of weather over the centuries ultimately gave way. The over a hundred aftershocks left thousands, including some of my loved ones and relatives, sleepless and fearful.  Even the idea of going to the bathroom was terrifying for some because the aftershock can occur anytime.

The bell tower of the Basilica del Sto. Nino in Cebu City: photo on the left shows it before the tragedy happened; while the photograph on the right shows the destroyed bell tower.

Salt on the wound

After the tragedy, not only a few wondered whether this calamity is God’s punishment on sinners.  It is so unfortunate how some sects and cults could readily point their fingers at Catholics as the cause of the tragedy, accusing the latter for being “pagans” and “idol worshipers”. They readily conclude that the collapse of centuries-old Catholic churches is a sign that God’s wrath has finally fallen upon the people.

Other insensitive individuals, meanwhile, jeer at and curse the Visayan people, apparently discriminating them as inferior than the Tagalogs of Metro Manila and other parts of northern Philippines.

Although, these kinds of religious bigotry and regionalistic mentality is confined only among a minority, who may have been wanting in attention, their words were somehow “salt on the wound”.

Yes, it profoundly hurts to hear all those negative remarks from no less than fellow Filipinos and pharisaical Christians!  Slander, indeed, can be very demoralizing. It is a shame how this only Christian nation in Southeast Asia can be so prone to slander.

By  your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.  (Matthew 12:37)

Slander is an ancient vice

Insensitive remarks and insults are not new to us, actually.  People in the ancient times got entangled in the vicious circle of slander and false accusations.  Some evidence of this are even found in the Bible, where prophets of the Old Testament, and Jesus Himself, had to constantly exhort believers to be careful in their speech, for the tongue has the power of a two-edged sword. It can either make or break a person.

The morale and reputation of a person can be greatly scarred and tainted by our irresponsible and careless remarks. And sadly, all too often we fail to recognize the scope, depth, and seriousness of what we say.

But believing in the resiliency and integrity of the Filipino people, I know the “Bisaya” will rise above all these life’s trials and would not wallow on put-downs.

And to those who have nothing good to say about others, please just keep your mouth shut!

After Yolanda: it’s time to rebuild

After the storm has gone, it’s time to get back up again.  Life must go on.  The Filipino spirit of resiliency must work.

November 8, 2013 is the day of horror for many Filipinos as super typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) ravaged through the Visayas region in central Philippines, leaving behind thousands dead, numerous wounded, and still unaccounted for missing persons. The whole world sympathizes in so any ways – from financial aid, material support, facilities, to manpower volunteers.  And for this, I personally thank all you – actually, I cannot thank you enough – for your quick response to help us.

Now, it’s time for us, Filipinos, to rise above the circumstances.  As we rebuild our homes, let us also rebuild our broken hearts and wounded lives. Yolanda may have destroyed our homes and taken what we have had, but certainly it has neither taken away nor flushed out our faith in God (I hope nobody gives in to temptation).  

The fact that we have survived the tragedy means we still have a purpose in life.  We must carry on. I know this is easier said than done, but we have to try even if takes an inch at a time.  After all, we have been known to be a people of great resiliency and integrity.  Let’s get back up again and move forward!

Neighboring countries and strangers have reached out their helping hands to us.  Let us also respond positively to it by holding on to hope and showing them that we can start all over again. We need to be strong.  If our government fails us in some ways for not doing enough as we expected them to be, let us not wallow on that bitterness. Actually, the government is always there to support and assist us.  It is up to us to decide if we are willing to get back on our feet again. 

Reconstruction of infrastructure can be done by so many hands in a short period. But the rebuilding of our lives is a matter of personal choice and the pace depends on our ability to cope.  Leave behind the resentments, and stop blaming anybody else for our predicament. Life is too short to be spent on anger. Let us start all over again.  Only we can make our lives better if we want to.  Let us make use of the assistance we receive from our brethren to move on rather than just depend on it for daily survival. God has given us the gift of resilience, so let’s capitalize on it.

Bangon Visayas!  Bangon Pilipinas!



Poor leadership, planning, and series of errors led the US Navy Minesweeper USS Guardian to hit and damage 2,345.67 square meters of a protected Philippine reef on January 17, 2013.  Reports have it that both the Guardian’s leadership and its crew neglected protocol, warning systems, and visual cues.  They were also unable to reconcile the differences between navigation maps, causing the ship to run aground on the South Atoll of the Tubbataha Reefs in the Sulu Sea. The tragedy has consequently angered not only the Filipino people, but also the international communities.

Tubbataha 2

Philippine pride

The Tubbataha Reef, declared by former Philippine President Corazon Aquino as a national marine park, is abundant in marine life.  Positioned in the middle of the Sulu Sea, Tubbataha is isolated and far from habitable land; thus, preserving its marine resources from exploitation.

In December 1993, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized Tubbataha a World Heritage Site.  It is now under the protective management of the Philippine Department of National Defense, with technical supervision from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Likewise, the Ramsar Convention acknowledged and listed the reef among the Wetlands of International Importance due to the presence of a wide range of marine life species as well as being an essential habitat for various animals.

Since its discovery by divers in the late 1970s, the Tubbataha Reef National Park has been listed among the remarkable must-visit diving destinations in the world.  In fact, CNN Travel ranks it eighth of the top 50 dive sites in the world.

Tubbataha was also featured on the reverse side of the 2010 series of the One Thousand peso bill.

Reef destruction due to human error

The USS Guardian is actually not the first ship to hit the Tubbataha Reefs.  It should be recalled that on October 31, 2005, the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, struck and destroyed around 100 square meters of the reef.

Greenpeace blamed the accident on the Philippine government for allegedly providing them with inaccurate chart. Nevertheless, the non-government environmental organization paid a fine of about $7,000 for the damage.

Likewise, on April 8, 2013, a Chinese fishing boat, F/V Min Long Yu, got stuck approximately 1.1 nautical miles to the east of the reef’s ranger station. The boat carried 12 crew members, believed to be engaged in illegal fishing.

Aside from ships running aground, marine resources in and around Tubbataha Reef are fast depleting due to destructive fishing, such as the use of dynamite and cyanide. Opportunism and carelessness of some visitors is another issue. Killing of marine turtles; illegal collection of turtle eggs, bird eggs, and shells, and; the irresponsible attitudes of tourists and businessmen towards the park still persist.

The future of Tubbataha Reef

Accidents do happen anytime anywhere no matter how we draw measures to prevent it. While government agencies and active non-government environmental groups implement rules and guidelines, the responsibility to protect our world heritage does not solely fall on them.  As individual citizens of the world, we can tremendously help safeguard Tubbataha Reef, in particular, as well as all other coral reefs, in general.

The USS Guardian tragedy has somehow initially opened the eyes of an increasing number of people, albeit painfully, about the value of coral reefs to economy and the environment.  It is important, then, that we sustain such awareness with active participation in the preservation of what is left of the reefs.


There are actually several ways to help protect our coral reefs.  But since the Tubbataha Reef is a wonderful diving spot, I’d like to list down some pointers on how divers, snorkelers, and tourists can help preserve our coral reefs.

  • Buoyancy control. Ensure that you are properly weighted, and observe buoyancy control to avoid damaging anything.
  • Keep a safe distance from the corals and other marine life.  Aside from getting a painful scratch from a coral, you might damage or kill fragile coral polyps.
  • Refrain from touching any marine creature and do not wear gloves.  Divers who wear gloves may tend to touch marine life.
  • Do not block the path, or chase after any free-swimming animal.
  • Restrain your urge to collect any item from the ocean or the beach.  Note that even dead corals and shells can be home to other marine organisms.
  • Do not disturb the sand.  Sand and sediment can get on the living corals and might smother it.
  • Dispose of your garbage properly and collect any litter you find in or out of the water.

Lazi Convent: a national landmark on Siquijor Island

Siquijor Island may be a tiny place, but it is rich in natural wonders as well as in structures of historical and architectural value.  For one, it is home to the largest and oldest convent in Asia.

Lazi Convent
Lazi Convent

The Lazi Convent on the southern edge of Siquijor island is recognized as one of the historical landmarks of the Philippines due to its religious, historical, and architectural importance.  Constructed in 1887 under the supervision of a member of the Augustinian Recollect clergy, Fray Toribio Sanchez,  the convent was built using indigenous coral stones and local hardwood.  It was completed in 1891 and known as the largest in the Asian region and the oldest in the Philippines.

The convent is a very spacious two-storey building, measuring 42 meters by 38 meters in an L-shape form with its façade facing the San Isidro Labrador (or St. Isidore Labradore) Church in the east. The lower part of the convent is made of square-cut coral stone masonry, while its upper part is made of wood. Its steep hipped roof is made of corrugated galvanized iron on timber framework.

San Isidro Labrador Church
San Isidro Labrador Church

Across the convent is the Baroque-style San Isidro Labrador Church, which was constructed in 1857.  Its walls, approximately one meter thick, are reinforced with log posts that are embedded against it. The church’s pediments are made of wooden panels, while its façade is veneered with coral stone.  Its wooden floors are designed in herringbone pattern.

the church's wooden floor
Look at the church’s wooden floor

The San Isidro Church is known for its two pulpits, hand-sculpted images of the Station of the Cross, and the lofty and intricate ceiling vaults.

Here's a closer look at the pulpit
Here’s a closer look of the pulpit

Both the convent and the San Isidro Labrador Church are living evidence of Spanish settlement in the province.  It was by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260 dated August 1, 1973 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 375 dated January 14, 1974 and No. 1505 dated June 11, 1978 that Lazi Convent and San Isidro Labrador Church were declared national landmarks by the National Historical Institute.

Lazi, formerly known as Tigbawan, is one of the six municipalities of the province of Siquijor with a population of more than 20,000. It is 30 minutes away from the provincial capital.

Once in Lazi, you may also want to have a side trip to Cambugahay Falls, two kilometers north from the convent and church.  It’s a multi-tiered falls of fresh warm waters coming from natural springs.

Cambugahay Falls
Cambugahay Falls

Aside from these sights in Lazi, you may also want to visit the island’s pristine white sand beaches, Mt. Bandilaan National Park, caves, and other natural wonders of Siquijor.

To go to Siquijor island itself, you may take a fast craft or boat from Dumaguete City, Cebu City, or Bohol.  Or, if you prefer a guided tour around the island, you may contact your favorite travel agent or visit the local office of the Department of Tourism.

Map of Siquijor Island

Map of Siquijor 

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