June 21, 2024

Despite the bad weather last week, we collectively remembered our loved ones who went ahead to the great beyond. I don’t know about you, but Nov. 1 reminds this Ibaloy writer that nothing in this life is permanent. Just like Buddha taught more than 2,500 years ago, everything is temporary, nothing stays what it is, all is fleeting and just an illusion.
So, what should that tell us? I guess it means that we should live one day at a time. To live in the present (since it is supposed to be a gift) and not dwell too much on the past or future since the former is gone forever and the latter may never come.
Of course, like so many things in this life, it is so much easier to say than to do, especially in a third world nation like ours where poverty, inequality, injustice, and corruption are everywhere. It is tempting to dream of happier occasions that happened in the past or about a cherished brighter future just to escape the stark reality and harshness of the present.
Come to think of it, the very fact that life here on Earth is only temporary can be seen as a blessing since this means that all kinds of suffering being experienced right now will soon come to an end. Maybe, just maybe, we can all wake up to a place that is more loving, more peaceful, more perfect than the one we are in now, together with all our loved ones who went ahead. It seems that the only persons who are enjoying life right now are those who have wealth and power whether or not they have been born into it (sana all) or acquired these legally or illegally.
The vast majority of people around the world, however, are just living lives of “quiet desperation” like the American transcendentalist author Henry David Thoreau described it. I guess life being temporary can be seen as a blessing or a curse depending on one’s present circumstances. So there.

Anyway, Interior and Local Government Sec. Benjamin Abalos, Jr. has praised the city’s comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance and urged other local government units to adopt the same effective measure during the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) 8th Asia Pacific Smoke-Free meeting last Oct. 27 to 28 at Baguio Country Club with the theme, “Rising amidst the challenges: Strengthening and sustaining smoke-free implementation and enforcement.”
Baguio Anti-smoking Task Force chair Mayor Benjamin Magalong said his administration will continue to strictly enforce the city’s anti-smoking ordinance “without fear or favor” as it continues to prioritize the health and safety of residents. Adopted in 2017 and principally authored by former councilor Joel Alangsab, the Baguio Smoke-Free Ordinance prohibits the use, sale, distribution, and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in certain places and imposing penalties for violations.
Also, present during the meeting was Health Usec. Beverly Ho, who spoke on promoting smoke-free as a way of life.
Around 150 participants joined the two-day activity with delegates coming from Cambodia, Lao, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. The next meeting is slated in 2024 in Lao.
City Health Services Office Assistant Head, Dr. Celia Brillantes, said the meeting aimed to share best practices on smoke-free implementation and enforcement as part of comprehensive tobacco control and health promotion; among others.
The event was organized by the city government of Baguio, Department of Health, World Health Organization-Western Pacific Region, Smoke-Free Cities Asia Pacific Network, and SEATCA.

May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continue to bless and keep us all safe.