Keeping kids healthy
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2018 - 12:00am

I received email responding to my column on the disagreeable idea of arming priests with guns to protect themselves, and of Nandy Pacheco’s plea for priests to preach the gospel of love, not shoot down people they fear would kill them.  

Below is one of the letters.

To Domini Torrevillas:

I liked your article regarding guns. I would like to clarify the points you made about gun ownership in the UK. It is possible for an ordinary citizen to own a gun but very few do, the restrictions on ownership of a firearm are very strict and very strictly enforced. Less than four guns for every adult, and unless you have a very good reason you have no chance of owning a hand gun, and owning a multi-shot weapon impossible.

I have never seen, nor do I wish to see, an armed security guard. The ?vast majority of the police do not carry firearms.

In the year ending April 2016 the UK police fired a total of seven shots resulting in five persons being killed. It may be of interest to you that the UK ?had a total 26 firearm deaths in 2016.

I wish the Philippines could get close to the UK numbers but that will be impossible.?All the best,

George Neilson, george@northrock.bm

*      *      *

The growing number of young people committing suicide is “a disturbing trend that should be arrested immediately,” says Rep. Karlo Nograles. This is unfortunate, as their full potential is not realized.

In recent years, a number of students have committed suicide for various reasons, usually due to depression brought about by such causes as poverty, bullying, or failing grades, Nograles pointed out. In almost all cases, the perceived problems had solutions within reach that the troubled youngsters did not see.

Fortunately, President Duterte has recognized the importance of taking care of the young not only physically, but also their mental well-being. The president’s recent signing of the Mental Health Act law is a very important first step that should spur officials of all schools and local government units nationwide to recognize troubled youth before they allow their desperation to lead them to do the unthinkable.

“The Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Department of Health should create a program that can prevent our students from harming themselves,” Nograles said.

Local government units as well as the Department of Social Welfare and Development should also play major roles in the program, he added.

According to Nograles, the guidance counseling programs of both private and public schools should be strengthened, with a focus on peer counseling.

President Duterte signed last week Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act, which integrates mental health in the general healthcare system.

As a young lawmaker himself who serves as chairman of the House committee on appropriations, Nograles has a number of laws benefitting the country’s youth under his belt. These include the landmark Republic Act 10931, also known as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act which provides free tuition up to college level. He also filed a bill that would regularize and grant full benefits to all barangay officials, including Kabataang Barangay officers.

*      *      *

Theodore I. Owen Jr. passed away on June 3, 2018, at the age of 95. He died of aspiration pneumonia. He was assisted by his cousin-in-law Dr. Randy Francisco.

Twenty-eight years ago Teddy and the former Cristy Puyat lived in Los Angeles, USA. That was after her mother, Patria Gil Puyat had passed on on an Easter Sunday, March 26, 1989. Cristy, a former journalist, recalls, “We left quietly the Philippines, amid pointing fingers and tongues wagging. Teddy was determined to put me on a pedestal. He resided for 45 days in Las Vegas and was granted his absolute divorce from his wife. Teddy pursued the annulment process at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. We were granted dispensation to receive Holy Communion in the 1990s by Rev. Msgr. Charles Chapman from the tribunal court.”

Cristy writes lovingly about her husband. ‘’Teddy’s love for writing began when he was very young. He wanted to take up journalism, but his mother wanted him to become an engineer. Fernando Maramag, Teddy’s uncle who was the Manila Times editor told his mother, “Manang, your son has a brilliant future in writing. I’ve read his pieces.”

“Teddy brought his academic excellence record to the news editor of the Manila Daily Bulletin, Judge Felix Gonzales. The latter threw it in the waste basket. Teddy got irked and he walked away. ‘Owen,’ Gonzales shouted, ‘do you want to work or not?’ Judge Gonzales swamped him with 16 beats to handle which he did excellently until an American editor, Wilkinson, got wind of what Judge did, and reduced the pile.

“Teddy slowly inched his way to the top, and was given his column titled ‘Inside Maharnilad.’ This he held for decades. He covered all the mayors, starting with Arsenio Lacson. Teddy regretted Lacson’s not making it to the presidency. He lambasted then Mayor Antonio Villegas for his policies.

“Always have your facts right and present both sides, he told his writers at the Manila Daily Bulletin, including yours truly. I was blessed to work under him as a reporter. He covered the presidents, one of them, Ramon Magsaysay. Divine providence spared Teddy. He backed out from the faithful plane trip which took the lives of Magsaysay and the rest travelling with him.

“Teddy was also the president of the Bulletin Union. He fought for higher wages for the employees. The newspaper was closed for two days. General Hans Menzi, the publisher, granted an increase of the complaining workers’ wages.

“ A throng of former students from Letran College surrounded Teddy during the college’s 100th year reunion as he made his way towards the front. Some kissed his hand, others knelt before him. A wide grin never left Teddy’s face. “Sir, we learned our perfect English from you. We are always grateful.“Teddy was always a humble man. He didn’t go up the stage to get his medal.”

 “Teddy in the classroom had a method of improving the academic performance of his students. He sat the bright ones in front, the average in the middle, and the poor ones in the back.

“One of his students, Susan Gumban who manages the crypts in San Antonio cathedral, asked me if the deceased Theodore Owen was the same  English professor she knew. When I said yes, there were tears in her eyes. He was a brilliant professor. I was in the front row every time.

“In his latter days, he would be dressed up and I would tell him to undress so he can relax. ‘No, I have to put the newspaper to bed,’ he would tell me.

“When we passed by Urdaneta Village which had a wide wall , he would ask the driver, Boyet, ‘Are we near the Bulletin? ‘Always a gentleman, he would ask our helper, Gloria, to go ahead of him when we entered the house.  

“I may not see him physically but I feel his presence strongly. When I would keep my sister, Maria Consuelo Puyat Reyes company,he would wait up for me so we could have our meals together.

“I am sure when he entered heaven, St. Peter had all the tables with old-fashioned typewriters, and his former colleagues who went ahead of him, stand up and salute Teddy as an editor’s editor.”

*      *      *

Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

ARMED PRIESTS SUICIDE
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