- the final chapter
By Ranee Mohamed
Dharmaratnam Sivaram who
wrote great stories
for us will be greatly missed by his wife and children in the
coming nights, for every evening, before going to bed he told......
down memory lane...
the people of God...
Lakshmi surges ahead...
jobs in America for the tsunami
Marcos and the scandal of the shoes
Villas for the quality conscious
they have grown! (....Balder
of the Kandy lake were consumed two...
- the final chapter
By Ranee Mohamed
Dharmaratnam Sivaram who
wrote great stories
for us will be greatly missed by his wife and children in the
coming nights, for every evening, before going to bed he told
them stories too.
There are many ways in which courageous
journalists have died in recent times, but none of them have
been due to natural causes.
And Sivaram who ate and drank and led a
full life enjoyed his food, drink and life here in Sri Lanka.
The last thing that Dharmaratnam
Sivaram who was abducted and killed on the night of Thursday, April
28 expected was death at that moment, for it was a moment of great
happiness for him.
"We never expected a tragic event
like this from a casual meeting," said journalist Kusal Perera
who was with Sivaram minutes before he was abducted.
"We were talking about past
anecdotes, things that we could laugh about now, the troubles we got
in to." recalled Perera.
"Siva, what is the situation right
now?" I asked Sivaram with regard to the joint mechanism as we
sat down for a drink that Thursday night," recalled Kusal
Sivaram had told the journalist that it
was a 'dead issue' and gone on to say, "When you come for a
drink, we have come to enjoy." Dharamaratnam Sivaram has said
as the bottle was opened.
And that was the last drink that this
46-year-old journalist had - for he died that same night.
As his dinner got colder at his home in
Muhandiram Avenue, Ratmalana, Dharmaratnam Sivaram was killed in
cold blood at the break of dawn. His body was found in the high
security area near the parliament in Sri Jayewardenapura.
"He ate and drank and lived a full
life, and the last thing he expected was death," said his
brother-in-law, David Poopalapillai, of this great journalist who
researched intensively on the international involvement in the Sri
Lankan ethnic issue and wrote enlightening articles about Sri Lankan
politics. Sivaram was on the editorial board of the TamilNet website
and also wrote an unbiased analysis under the pseudonym Taraki for
the Daily Mirror.
This brave journalist had multiple
visas to the United States of America and to the United Kingdom. But
he chose to live in Sri Lanka - and die here.
"Appa Appa Appa!" said his
elder daughter, 16-year-old, Vaishnavi as she hugged on to her
younger sister 13-year-old Vaitheki. This was all they could say
about their father and at this time of great grief, it seemed to sum
it all up.
A loving father
"He never beat the children, never
yelled at them and never punished them. He was a very loving father
and a husband who believed that children ought to be showered with
love," said brother-in-law David Poopalapillai. "He had
close friends in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia. He could have
chosen a better life in any of these countries. There is a professor
from the USA who always called him over there to reside, but Sivaram
chose to live in Sri Lanka," said Poopalapillai.
This great journalist was by no means a
rich man, but rich in heart he was. He chose Sri Lanka as his home
and preferred to travel by bus and eke out a monthly salary to feed
and clothe his family.
Sivaram, just two days before his death
had taken his family to a film called Sandramugi. "It is a
wonderful film - this is why I say that we must not beat our
children," he had later reviewed the film happily with his
He loved his family very much and had
spent his evenings with them. Taking a keen interest in the studies
of his children, Sivaram went through their books almost every
night. But never had he on any occasion picked on their mistakes or
Whether it was success or failure, it
had always been applause from this father.
"He did hint that there was a
threat to his life and about some telephone calls, and we advised
him to take time off," said Poopalapillai.
"My husband had thousands of
friends from all walks of life. He moved around with the
intellectuals, politicians and the poor alike," said his wife,
A poor woman from a shanty dwelling was
also present at the funeral. She was wailing at the loss, not so
much of a great journalist, but of a great human being. "I am a
poor woman, one day I invited him to an important family function,
but I knew he would not attend. He was a respected gentleman. But he
came to our poor abode with his whole family and it lighted up the
whole area and our lives too," she wailed.
Dharmaratnam Sivaram, like all
journalists, had friends from all walks of life. But he moved with
all with equal ease.
A soft, quiet man, Sivaram who did not
even chid his children; never showed an iota of violence at anytime
anywhere in his life. A believer of compassion and love, Sivaram had
taken his wife and children to show them the Taj Mahal earlier this
On Sinhala and Tamil New Year he had
taken his family to Pottuvil, Thirukovil and other areas to show
them the family land. "He made sure that we learnt something
from each trip. He had planned it in such a way," said his
All of us have some striking qualities,
and those striking qualities of Dharmaratnam Sivaram are so soft
that they never struck us - till he died. Soft and gentle, this
great journalist however was fearless with his pen as he was in his
Gentle Sivaram chose kindness and
advise when dealing with problems. This father who did not believe
in punishing his children, did not believe in punishment at all.
But does this mean that those who
gunned down this
veteran journalist ought not to be punished?
down memory lane...
we spend the day...", Matron Kanthi Rathnayake, Raththaran and
Krishna Jina de Silva
By Dhananjani Silva
Old age is also called the second childhood. But sadly, for most,
much of this second childhood is spent in loneliness. It is a time
to be 'looked after' by the children. Yet, there are thousands of
parents who have nobody to look after them - they are helpless
people without a voice. They feel lonely, they feel sad but they
have no one to talk to. They have no one to share their grief with,
nor do they have anyone to share their happiness with. Unable to
live alone, they seek help from strangers and confine the evenings
of their lives to places called 'homes.'
Today The Sunday Leader takes a closer
look at the lives of these human beings alone. Some of them do learn
to be happy in their surroundings.
Sarvodaya Suwasetha Wedihiti Nevasaya
in Ratmalana is one such home that started in 1991. It provides
accommodation for 25 persons. Its inmates are ladies who have had a
happy past. What is significant about this home is that it is not
"for the rich" but for those who are "poor and
helpless." In this home they seem to be happy and relaxed. As
we walked in they greeted us with happy smiles - happy about having
According to the Matron, Kanthi
Rathnayake, there are some mothers and women here who have been
brought 'home' from the road. "Sometimes old people come all
alone and tell us that they are poor and helpless and that they have
no one to look after them. They plead saying that they cannot go
back and that they want to stay with us. Even their children cannot
afford to look after their parents due to their own family
problems," she said.
"We also have a day care centre to
look after the elderly parents while their children are at
work," she added while acknowledging Neetha Dharmachari
Ariyarathne for the assistance and encouragement given to them to
make this home a success.
"Working here gives me
pleasure," Rathnayake said. Just as I joined here I was very
distressed to see the plight of these senior citizens. But very soon
I realised that there is no greater happiness than caring for them.
These senior citizens are so precious to us," she went on.
Disciplined and obedient
Matron Rathnayake told us how
disciplined and obedient they are. Not only that they are
disciplined but they are also people with varied talents, she told
us - crochet, embroidery, arts and crafts - they are capable of
doing all that.
They sew their own clothes, and the end
products are not only beautiful but very neat. "Every year we
have an exhibition to display their talents. Apart from that we
organise many other activities
in order to keep them occupied. We organise an Avurudhu
Uthsavaya, an annual trip, a function to mark the Elders Day that
falls on October 2 and so much more," she said.
Suddenly a group of charming ladies
walked into the main hall. It was time for the
music class which is on every Tuesday.
Music for them
"We love to sing old songs. They
are very meaningful and are connected to our lives. We go back to
our past while singing them," they told us.
Some even play games - just like little
kids. "They say they do not feel that they are aged when
playing games like this. They play for sometime and then are offered
biscuits. Immediately after they run to their friends and share the
biscuits, just like little children," said Rathnayake.
Meanwhile old Krishna Jina de Silva
joined us to tell her story. "I have neither a husband nor
children to look after me. I was a nurse in the days gone by and I
still remember how I used to look after the patients. May be that is
why I am being looked after really well here," she said.
Among them was Marry Odie who
immediately exclaimed, "Ah, The Leader, that is my favourite! I
am single and I have some relatives who are abroad. Since I have
nobody to look after I came here. Life is not hard here, but I
prefer if I had freedom, and if I had a family life and a home of my
own. I read a lot when I am free. I am also an animal lover so I
keep two cats and a dog," said Mary.
Ninety eight-year-old Soydahamy was
trying to greet us even with much difficulty. In this home she is
She has been here from the inception,
the others tell us. Raththaran would not have ever thought that she
will someday end up in a home like this. She has one daughter but
she cannot look after the mother as she too has family problems. the
story of Soydahamy began to unfold little by little - It was a sad
"Bring me rice with fish to eat
next time," she tells us while kissing our hands lovingly.
"Come again," she says as we
are about to leave.
The few hours with them filled me with
a sense of sorrow as I began to wonder if these grand old ladies
will continue their child-like existence forever - living with their
memories. For them, a visitor is a luxury for seldom does anyone
have the time to visit a home for the aged.
the people of God...
on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Congregation
of the Sisters of the Holy Cross (Menzingen) in Sri Lanka,
Sr. Consilia Mariampillai, a member of the same Congregation was
interviewed by Dr. Janet Le Vally, Professor of Psychology lecturing
in American College University, Colpetty.
Consilia, as a teacher of English
and English literature renders her service to many of our younger
generation at St. Joseph's College, a leading Catholic school in
Q: Sister Consilia, the world has so
much to offer, so many opportunities for happiness in diverse forms,
Your Holy Bible tells that God created the world and He found it was
good. He wanted Adam and Eve to enjoy this life and be happy, to
have children and fill the earth. But when I see you sisters, in
your dark habits, working under the hot, tropical Sri Lankan sun, I
wonder if you are fully exercising your options for happiness. Your
life-style and appearance might be considered weird, an enigma to
some of us. What motivates you to embrace this odd way of life?
A: You are correct, in saying
that God wanted man and woman, and for that matter He wanted every
human being to be happy on this earth. Happiness being found only
when a man and woman live together is a faulty assumption. Happiness
is a relative term. There are so many bachelors and spinsters living
all alone today. And they say that they are happier than so many
All human adults choose a way of life,
in which they think, they would be happy. Marriage is a call; a
vocation; a way of life. Likewise, there are people who choose to
live as celibate, poor, obedient through a commitment to God and
live in community; this life too is a vocation; a call. Those who
respond to this call find happiness in this way of life - a life
dedicated to God as a love response to every one who needs their
service and in whom they see their God who is love itself.
Down the history of the Church, the
Church has given birth to numerous religious congregations, each of
which consists of numerous mini-cells of communities. They came into
existence primarily motivated to serve the people, whom God has
allowed to come into their lives. Freedom of choice entwined with
renunciation; a choice by nature is single made out of many things.
In doing so you automatically let go of the other, which is less
valuable before the one you choose.
Q: If I am correct, you belong to
the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross (Menzingen). Can
you tell something about your Congregation?
A: My Congregation - Sisters of
the Holy Cross was founded in October 1844 in a village called
Menzingen in Switzerland. Anna Maria Heimgartner, Cornelia Mader and
Feliciana Krammer were first three girls who after going through the
religious formation training, made their first vows before their
Mentor and guide Fr. Theodosius Florentini OSF. The latter became
the founder and Maria (Bernarda) Heimgartner became the foundress of
our Congregation. They were primarily teachers.
The primary purpose of the Congregation
was to arrest the moral degradation, illiteracy and to uplift the
standard of women at that time. We'll be well enlightened if we only
turn the pages of European history in 18th century and how Europe
was at its lowest ebb economically, spiritually and morally. Within
nine years from coming into existence, with the increasing number of
sisters, they were running 34 primary schools, four private schools
and one teacher training college.
Their early life was marked with such
difficulties, sufferings, poverty and misunderstanding between the
founder as well as with other clerical men ( at that time women had
no voice in anything and no right). It is precisely because of their
difficulties and hard path that they had to trod, they called
themselves as " Sisters of the Holy Cross" and
their motto was " In the cross is salvation."
In 1833 the Congregation began sending
out missionaries to South Africa and other continents. The arrival
of first group of missionaries to our company was on July 25, 1955.
They began their service not as teachers but as nurses in civil
hospitals in Kayts and Jaffna. Until 1955 the Sri Lankan sisters
were under the jurisdiction of Indian Province. Rev. Mother Aloisia
Roosli, the then matron in Jaffna Hospital became the first
Provincial Superior to the newly set up Sri Lankan Province on March
3, 1955. In 1962, the young province had to face a great
All nursing sisters working in
government hospitals were expelled from their service and all
foreign missionaries below 60 years were asked to leave the country
at short notice. This left only six European sisters to remain back
to guide and care for the young province. It is in this year, the
first batch of local sisters were making their final vows - this
indicates clearly how young at that time the province was. Today, we
have grown and 93 members are engaged in various services serving in
many parts of the isle.
Q: Could you tell something about
the various mission projects you are involved in presently?
A: Although the purpose of the
Congregation initially was purely dedicated to education, in keeping
with the founder's motto "the need of the time is the will of
God," our sisters saw the need of the people in the Northern
Province at that time for nursing; so quite a good number of
European sisters together with four or five Indian sisters began
working in the hospitals as nurses and matrons. It is creditable
that sisters were quite open to the needs that were unfolding in the
society. Thus young apostolate and social work too were started in
With the termination of the nursing
sisters working in the government hospitals, sisters began working
in private nursing homes such as Michael's Nursing Home in Colpetty,
and the second branch of it in Havelock Town-Anderson Road and
Health Centre, Jaffna where the sisters work as gynaecologists,
anaesthetists, pharmacists, radiologists and lab technicians besides
nursing. They also branched out to render their service in the
fields of teaching - montessori, primary, secondary and even in
university, besides, social work, refugee work, caring for the
elders and so on.
Q: There are so many Congregations
in Sri Lanka like Holy Family, Good Shepherd and Holy Cross and many
others. All of you seem to be engaged in almost the same activities
more or less. What is it that differentiates you from the others?
A: All of us belong to one
Church and serve the people of God in order to communicate that the
God who is love, loves all and whatever the congregation we may
belong to, all of us are religious. It means that we live a
committed, vowed life. The difference comes in the purpose with
which each of the congregation came into existence and the
spirituality, which blossomed forth consequently. Almost all the
congregations, except a few, like the Franciscan in 12th century and
the Jesuits in 16th century came into existence in the 18th and 19th
centuries. Moral, spiritual, decadence, economical political
confusion and contention and religious suppression were quite common
in Europe at that time.
In Switzerland, teaching of religion in
schools was prohibited, convents were suppressed and Jesuit
missionaries were expelled and children of seven years and women
were employed and exploited in the factories and so on.
Charles Dickens describes the period in
cynical terms and in antitheses in his novels (especially in A Tale
Of Two Cities). It is in this situation our Congregation came into
existence with the idea of arresting the prevalent social maladies
through education and formation of young women by which means to put
society on its right footing.
To tell you about the spirituality, for
example the Holy Family Sisters have the Incarnational spirituality,
while the Good Shepherd has the spirituality of the Good Shepherd
and we have the spirituality of the Cross. The Cross is a sign of
folly to some and to still others is the sign of redemption; it is
the wisdom of God. Looking at a Cross, one immediately associates,
suffering, death and humiliation, which creates a gloomy, depressive
But the Cross of Christ goes beyond
this, shedding light and love, bringing life and joy, after Good
Friday comes the joyous day of Easter Sunday - the resurrection. We,
the Holy Cross Sisters, take a long look at the Cross, which
promises life; thus our lives become a living service and not a
deprivation; it brings life both to the giver and the receiver. So
it is this charisma that differentiates us from the other
Q: What is your future orientation?
How do you propose to continue making an impact in modern society?
A: Well, it is simple. We have
learnt through experience of our Sisters present in other countries,
going for big institutions in the long run becomes an unbearable
baggage to be tracked on.
Moreover, it consumes a lot of energy,
time and money that could be very well used for the loving service,
which will not only transform lives but essentially also the whole
society. Hence, our province is committed to have small communities
and not big institutions and serving people at the grass root level.
Secondly, our main thrust is to assist people to aim at inner
liberation and to grow into freedom of the children of God.
Lakshmi surges ahead...
S. D. Victoria Lakshmi
By Ranee Mohamed
There are many things in
life that we take on
with us, but for Captain S. D. Victoria Lakshmi, it is a whole
chapter in her life that will always lighten her life ahead.
"It is my training and time in the
army," says Captain Victoria who was on April 2, honoured
for her excellent leadership by the Sri Lanka Army Ex Service
Womens Corps Association, when the association celebrated its
10th anniversary in the presence of the ex-women officers of
Eight years in the army, its training
and life has created a whole new path in civilian life for
Captain S. D. Victoria. "The training included physical
fitness, weapon training, current affairs and accounts,"
Having been acclaimed for her netball
and pistol firing talent, Captain Lakshmi says that be it a man or a
woman, a leader will always be a leader - one who will stand out and
be recognised. Lakshmi played netball for the Sri Lanka team and
brought honour to the country. She was also pin pointed to go to
Australia for pistol training with male counterparts.
"I have made many leaders and it
has made life easier and more organised for I did not have to
personally do everything. I detailed them to several groups and
group leaders and the tasks were done," explained Lakshmi.
"Leadership is not merely about telling people what to do, but
about identifying talents and giving certain people certain tasks.
One must not feel that this or that person is unable to do such a
job. But this is a very difficult job for a power hungry person. A
power hungry person will want to take on the leadership himself. He
will never want to give it over to anybody," pointed out
Speaking of life in the army, Captain
Lakshmi airing her personal views said that she did at times feel
that men seem to be more superior. "I have felt that men are
superior. Even in civilian life I wonder whether women in management
positions are getting the essential support from men," she
Paying a tribute to the media, Captain
Lakshmi said that she is moved by the impartiality of journalists.
"I admire journalists because they are not jealous, they want
to do the best for us, if the best does exist," she said.
A content life
Speaking of her life, Captain Lakshmi
said that for her there is no turning back. "I am so happy in
life. I am what I am today because of the support I received from my
husband. For a woman to succeed, she needs her husband's support.
And women also ought to be able to balance everything. A woman must
remember that she cannot pass on her responsibilities as a mother to
someone else," said Lakshmi.
Her advise to women is to be flexible.
"Women tend to dwell on the past. We must think about the
future," said Captain Lakshmi who went on to say that men ought
to learn to respect women. "After all, all of us have a mother
and she is a woman," she pointed out.
Captain Lakshmi said that she is amazed
at the support she is receiving from Commander, General Shantha
Kottegoda and his wife Sonia Kottegoda. It is learnt that Sonia
Kottegoda formed a Seva Vanitha unit in the association so that the
public will be benefited.
Captain Lakshmi went on to appreciate
the efforts of Major
Ramani Kangararachchi who formed the association in 1995. "She
was the president for a continuous seven years," said Captain
Victoria who was the winner of the Major Ramani Kangararachchi
Challenge Trophy. "Only one person can achieve this once in a
life time challenge trophy," explained this ex-army officer.
Ramani Kangararachchi who was the first
Womens Corps officer to retire from the army, formed the association
on the invitation of General Denis Perera.
A special tribute was paid to this
retired major when she captured the life of an army private in a
book on the life of Private Devi. The book captures the life, trials
and tribulations of a woman soldier's life in the army.
of the Kandy lake were consumed two decades ago...
reverence for the environment and The Kandy Lake - a place of scenic
The Kandy lake is undoubtedly one of the factors that
enhances the beauty and integrity of the Temple of the Tooth Relic -
Sri Lanka's most revered monument. Recently, the Ministry of
Irrigation has taken steps to reconstruct this beautiful lake, which
is gradually getting choked up with mud. This initiative has to be
commended not only by the citizens of Kandy but also by all Sri
The Kandy lake, surrounded by the
'cloud wall' built by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, is an
unforgettable sight for local as well as visitors from overseas. It
is spread across 19.10 hectares of water, is 3.37 kilometers in
circumference and has a maximum depth of 18.24 meters. Historically
the water from the lake was used by the royal family, and later by
ordinary citizens for their day-to-day consumption and agriculture.
Currently a vast amount of money is
being spent on the reconstruction work, which is being carried out
by the Ministry of Irrigation. The intention behind this project is
to make this lake a true resource for the people of Kandy, and to
rejuvenate the 'Milk Sea' that comforted the city with its cool
But clearing the mud from the lake bed
alone will not be sufficient to achieve this goal. The cleanliness
of the lake water too should be taken in to consideration. There is
also a great need to protect the water springs and nourishing areas.
Water from the Kandy lake was in a
condition to be used for daily consumption since the time of the
kings until about two decades ago. But due to over population as
well as the decrease in moral and social values in general, the
respect and care given to the Kandy lake has diminished. Becoming
proud owners of pipe borne water, we have come to disregard the
value of natural water resources - underground and other wise.
People who once worshipped water, are now in the habit of releasing
filth in to waterways.
The consequences of this unfortunate
situation are slowly becoming evident.
But still not much attention has been
given to rectify this situation. The final outcome of this is not
only the pollution of the sacred city of Kandy. It also means
ill-health for the hundreds of thousands of people visiting and
living in that area.
It is the duty of the more
intellectually advanced human animal to protect the right to life of
all mankind as well as the right to life of all water creatures. But
according to recent newspaper reports, many aquatic animals and fish
were seen dead and floating in the Kandy lake, due to water
poisoning. A girls school nearby had to shift its classes elsewhere
because of the unbearable stench created by this situation. Even
though it was the main topic of conversation for many media
institutions at that time, the heat died down after a while without
a proper solution being found to the problem.
But the pollution of the lake
continued. Anyone walking around the lake will immediately notice
what comes through the drains that bring in the water to the lake.
All the garbage disposed by the hotels and buildings around the lake
is directly washed in to the water. In some places sewage tanks too
are opened up to the lake. There is hardly a need to state the
consequences if such things had happened during the time of our
kings. But thanks to democracy that we enjoy, taking action against
this situation will only culminate in long legal battles.
The author of this article who met an
official of the Kandy Municipal Council was told that despite many
warnings people did not care about the condition of the lake and
therefore the Municipal Council had to take legal action against
some of them. This is the story that came from the Municipal
However, another person stated that the
two gullies in the Kandy city were not sufficient to dispose the
polluted water. Some others said that due to the high cost involved
in disposing water through the gullies, it was cheaper to not use
them at all. Another argument was that the smallness of the city
streets, gardens as well as the buildings in Kandy created problems
when managing the gullies.
It is important for the environmentally
friendly citizens of Kandy to realise what generally happens when
dealing with environmental conservation activities in the country.
There are many Sri Lankans who specialise in environmental issues.
They contribute their services to the motherland. But those with
ulterior and selfish motives, hoping to avoid any disadvantages to
themselves, constantly challenge the knowledge and skill of these
specialists. There are many known occasions where such people have
interfered in the work of these experts when they tried to solve
environmental crises together with the government. These people hide
their true intentions and try to mislead the public. People should
always distinguish between the true friends of the environment and
the imposters. There might even be politicians among them whose sole
aim is to increase their number of votes. There are many examples of
this in recent history.
Whenever governments in the past
initiated projects for the good of the country with the help of
experts, there have been people trying to put a stop to it. But when
the projects succeeded these same people have been there to reap the
This is the time to pay more attention
to water and its cleanliness. Scientists the world over have warned
that the decade immediately following the next will see the world
immersed in a water crisis.
Clearing up the Kandy lake alone will
not solve the water problems of this city. Due to polluted lakes and
waterways, people in the villages are suffering from an acute
drinking water shortage. There has to be more public awareness.
Because of the presence of the Temple of the Tooth Relic, it is best
to start this campaign from the Kandy lake, in the historic city of
Kandy. The wave created at the Kandy lake should sweep over the
they have grown!
Do children of today actually have a
childhood? I mean, just listen to them talk!
Even girls as young as 12 years have
boyfriends! And have you seen them greet each other, just like
professional socialites! "Haaaai!" they trill to one
another effusively, whilst enveloping the other person in a fond
embrace, kissing the air on both sides, Mmmwah! Mmmwah! Gosh! Are
they so fond of each other! When we were that age, we would not be
caught dead doing anything remotely like that!
And boys, are they super sophisticated!
One conversation between two 12-year-old girls goes like this.
"How's your boyfriend, darling?" "Which one? Oh, him,
he's my ex now," "But why, what happened?" "He
was so boooring, so I had to drop him!"
"Poor you!" Then there was
this 15/16-year-old couple. They broke off their special friendship
because the girl said there was no spark in their relationship!
Gulp! I definitely know that we were not looking to ignite anything
at that stage of our lives!
Last week I had to watch my two
daughters buy very low slung jeans. Apparently this is how simply
everyone wears them now. I mean, they were Levi's! I told them they
were not stepping out of the house unless their T-shirts were up to
"I do not care how others dress,
kindly do not over expose yourselves," I told them. "As if
we ever get to do that, with you around, with your convent
mentality!" Huh! No respect for the older and wiser, these
kids. My mother or older sister trimmed our hair, we kept it clean
and neat. But have you seen the things these children do to their
hair? And what about the exorbitant amounts they spend at the salon?
Young children tint, perm, straighten,
re-bond (a procedure I became acquainted with only recently) and
behave like mature, sophisticated movie stars! In my opinion, they
look like a bunch of clones sometimes! Going to a party means going
to a salon before for some of them! Wow!
Then what about their nails? Exorbitant
sums are paid for manicures, and some of them have nail art done on
them at special parlours! It never fails to amaze me that their
parents finance all this trivia and some of them proudly announce it
in public. If it were me, I would keep it a dead secret! At one of
the kid's parties, my husband came downstairs and asked me,
"Are these all our children's friends, or are there some older
children? Aaaah? The same children who came last year? Their
classmates? How they have grown!"
The girls are so glamorous, beautifully
dressed and perfectly accessorised, and would you look at their
jewellery! Long, dangling, glittery earrings, enormous hoops, rings,
necklaces, you name it they have got it!
Boys, on the other hand, the scruffier
the better! Very baggy pants, worn very low, (so that the underwear
can be spotted) the crotch of which is almost at their knees! Shirts
or t-shirts are several sizes bigger than the wearer. Hair is either
non-existent, shaved off or gelled into weird shapes, sticking out
like antennas of very large insects. Sometimes the antennas are
coloured! Also, they wear bead chains and earrings! That is
apparently very 'in.'
And last but not least, something which
they simply cannot live without, their cellular phones. You can see
them walking all over, having animated conversations, like
business-men closing in on a very important deal. Or else, the thing
which irritates me no end, texting! They can eat, sleep, talk, sing,
close their eyes, but continue this 24 hours of the day! Confiscate
their cellulars or refuse to pay their bills, one would think a
loved one has died, they are so totally devastated! These phones are
treated very lovingly the way we used to treat our favourite doll or
Due to overexposure to television most
young girls have adopted affected drawls. Sometimes, their normal
speaking voice is heard, but accidentally, otherwise their friends
will think they are not "cool," God forbid! They do not
realise how comical they sound, sometimes I have to bite my cheek
very hard to stop from bursting out laughing loud! Anyway, they say
laughter is the best medicine!
- Honky Tonk Woman
jobs in America for the tsunami
She is young, attending university
and is doing at least three part time jobs as well as organising
several fund raising activities to raise money for tsunami victims,
miles and miles away from her home.
The untiring efforts of 19-year-old
Kate Everson from Quedgeley, England to travel to Sri Lanka to help
tsunami victims were highlighted in a British newspaper recently and
journalist, Easwaran Rutnam spoke to her via e-mail and the
telephone to find out why she is trying so much to help a country
she has absolutely no connection with.
Kate Everson says she always wanted to physically and financially help a
country hit by poverty or disaster and the December 26 tsunami gave
her that opportunity.
"I wanted to do something to help
the victims of the tsunami as soon as I heard about the tragedy. I
remember hearing about it on the radio on Boxing Day and thinking 'I
wish I could actually do something to help those affected,' Everson
told The Sunday Leader.
But the teenager was not too sure where
to go and how she could help so she sat in front of her home
computer and began surfing the internet for charities.
"I signed up for several
organisations who ran sorter trips to see if I could do
something" Everson said.
In March she got the break she was
looking for when a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) called
AidCamps International sent her details of a trip to Sri Lanka to
help tsunami victims.
"When I got the info I decided the
trip was perfect for me. As well as working in a tsunami affected
area, the day trips and supplementary activities, will enable me to
learn more about Sri Lankan culture which was very appealing,"
However, the cost involved for the trip
was another factor Everson had to deal with.
The trip would cost her around ú1400
altogether, which meant she had to do several part time jobs as well
as fund raisers to collect the money.
"Because of university I am
already in around ú5,000 worth of debt, so I had to do three jobs
to try and ensure this debt does not increase. However, I felt that
it was worth the money, and have been working extra hours in a few
bars and a call centre. I have also started fund-raising to try and
ensure that I do not have to spend too much money myself," she
Among the fund raisers organised by
Everson is an event where she and her friends will dress up like
nurses and walk around the Quedgeley Town with buckets in the hope
that people will donate money.
"I am also going to do bag packing
in a supermarket at university, as well as a sponsored event,
although I have not decided exactly what I am going to do for this.
I also contacted the local paper in my home town, and they ran an
article on my trip and asked businessmen and individuals if they
would be willing to donate money to help me," she added.
Kate Everson says she is really looking
forward to the trip and hopes it will help victims of the tsunami in
the areas she plans to tour in Sri Lanka while also enabling her to
learn a lot about a different culture and meet many interesting
Everson will be visiting the coastal
strip of Colombo, between July 9 and July 31 and will also tour
Kandy, Sigiriya, Ratnapura, and Uda Walawe.
Marcos and the scandal of the shoes
There was only one thing a good Catholic woman could do. She flew back
to the Philippines by way of Portugal, where she visited the shrine
of Our Lady of Fatima and prayed for fertility. She gave birth to
her first daughter, Imee during Marcos' congressional campaign the
following year. Two years later, their second child, Bong Bong was
born. Their third child, Irene, was born during Marcos's 1959
Imelda suffered migraines and other
recurring psychiatric symptoms, but she clung on. By the time Marcos
was running for the presidency in 1965, Imelda was warning up the
audience at his political rallies with stirring, patriotic Filipino
songs. During that campaign Imelda emerged as a political figure in
her own right, but she was still not used to the rough and tumble of
political life. When the opposition circulated a nude photograph of
her, claiming that it came from Marcos's private collection, she
collapsed in a state of shock. Marcos supporters insisted that
Imelda's head had been superimposed on another woman's nude body.
For Imelda, the best revenge was to be
installed as First Lady in the Malacanang Palace. Nevertheless,
Imelda remained unsure of herself and demanded inordinate deference
from all those around her. When the Beatles turned up in Manila in
1966, she invited them to come and perform in the Malacanang palace.
They respectfully turned down the invitation, but invited her to
come and see their public concert like other Filipinos. Imelda took
this as an insult. They found themselves unceremoniously expelled
from the country. As they left, they were punched and kicked by
Imelda's hired thugs on the way to their plane.
The nude photo scandal had revealed a
weakness in Imelda that political enemies sought to play on. The
Governor of Negros, Alfredo Monrtelibano Jr installed a two-way
mirror in the lavatory of his hacienda. When Imelda came to his
house for a party, he invited a number of guests into a back room to
watch the First Lady pee. He took a photograph, which was
circulated. Benigno Aquino kept a copy in his wallet until shortly
before he died.
Marcos modelled himself on John F.
Kenedy and Imelda was only too happy to play Jackie. Like Kenedy,
Marcos liked to show of his pretty, young wife. He was also a
womaniser. This was still painful for Imelda and it was politically
dangerous for Marcos. In 1969, he began showing an interest in
Gretchen Cojuangco, wife of Eduardo Cojuangco, who controlled the
Philippines' multi-million-dollar sugar-producing corporation.
Imelda was determined to put a stop to the affair. She wrote
Gretchen a note. Although what it said has never been revealed, when
Gretchen read it she could not stop weeping.
Cojuangco took another approach to keep
Marcos away from his wife. He had contacts in Hollywood and set to
work immediately. In a rendezvous with destiny, the fearless
guerrilla fighter claimed that his Filipino-American lover, Evelyn
had sacrificed her life to save him by stopping a Japanese bullet
meant for him.
A producer at Universal was employed to
recruit girls to audition for the part of Evelyn. One of them was an
actress called Dovie Beams. When she arrived in the Philippines,
Marcos seduced her. He installed her in a house in the Green Hills
suburb and claimed that he had been sexually estranged from Imelda
for years. She was frigid and suffered, he said, from 'virginitis.'
Things went seemingly well until Dovie
discovered Marcos was still seeing Carmen Ortega, who was now
pregnant yet again. Dovie began recording their love-making sessions
and when Marcos took her to the presidential palace while Imelda was
away, Dovie searched his desk and took documents.
Imelda grew suspicious and began to
have them followed. Marcos insisted that Dovie move out of the house
in Green Hills and into a hotel. She later discovered that Marcos
had given the house to Carmen Ortega, as he had planned all along.
Dovie was determined to get even.
Marcos had bought a polaroid camera and began taking pictures of
their love play. He also asked her for a lock of her pubic hair. She
consented to give him one, provided he gave her a lock of his. She
sent this with a collection of the photographs, the tapes and the
documents to the USA for safekeeping.
By then, Marcos was getting tired of
her. He told Dovie that she had been miscast for the role of Evelyn
and he wanted to audition some new actresses. She packed her bags
and flew back to California.
She later returned to the Philippines
on the pretext of making a travelogue. She was given $10,000 to buy
silence. Although she took it, she insisted that her silence was
worth more like $100,000. When that was refused, she asked for
$150,000. That night, she was grabbed by the secret police and taken
to a house where Marcos was waiting. There was a row. He tried to
make up with her. She spurned him and was beaten up and tortured by
the secret police.
When they allowed her to go to the
bathroom, she gave them the slip and called a friend in Los Angeles,
who contacted influential people Dovie knew in the USA. One of them
was former movie actor, Ronald Regan, then governor of California.
He called the State Department while Dovie checked into a private
clinic under a false name.
Meanwhile, Imelda had learnt about
everything and had her cohorts combing the island for Dovie. The
American ambassador turned up at Dovie's bedside with an offer from
Imelda - $100,000 tax free if she kept quiet. But things were not
going to be quite as easy as that. Dovie told the ambassador about
the incriminating evidence she had on Marcos and said that she
believed her life was in danger.
The US ambassador realised that the
only way to keep Dovie safe was to make the scandal public. He
arranged a press conference. Dovie spilt the beans, referring to
Marcos throughout as 'Fred' so that journalists could report the
story without falling foul of the recent restrictions preventing the
publication of anything critical of the President. She even played
one of the tapes that featured bedsprings creaking, murmurs, moans
and a man's voice crooning an Ilocano love song, which the whole of
the Philippines knew
was one of Marcos's favourites. Pirated versions of the tape were
soon changing hands at $500 a time.
When the students at Manila University
got hold of a copy, they looped the tape and played it over and over
on the University radio station. Everyone's favourite section was
the part where Marcos begged Dovie to perform oral sex on him. Even
the troops sent to shut down the radio station could not keep a
straight face. Senator Benigno Aquino, tongue buried firmly in
cheek, called for a congregational investigation.
Imelda was now fighting mad. The US
authorities had to spirit Dovie out of the Philippines. She was
taken to Hong Kong where the British Secret Service held her in
protective custody for five days.
Back in the USA, Dovie published an
account of the affair called Marcos's Lovie Dovie, which included
some of the nude Polaroids. Mysteriously, the books vanished from
the book shops. Even the Library of Congress's copy went missing.
When Imelda cooled off, she realised
that she now held the whip hand. If she dumped Marcos now, he would
be finished. She told him that she would not ask for a divorce,
provided he gave her everything she wanted - everything. He had no
choice. He wrote an open cheque. It was then that the shopping
started in earnest.
But it was not enough for Imelda to be
personally wealthy. She wanted respect. She was First Lady of a
small poverty-stricken state. For her to be anything in the world,
the Philippines would have to raise its profile. She planned to
stage a Manila Film Festival, which she hoped would rival the
glamour of Cannes. As part of the project, she planned a
100,000-seater stadium, the construction of which fell badly behind
To speed up its building, she demanded
that the structure be erected before the concrete floor had dried.
Predictably, the upper floors collapsed, killing 168 building
workers. Imelda simply ordered their remains to be concreted over so
that building work could begin again before their relatives had time
to collect their corpses.
Marcos continued his womanising ways,
starting an affair with the wife of a US Navy officer, jeopardising
Filipino-American relations. There followed a liaison with the
Filipino Singer, Carmen Soriano. Imelda caught up with her in San
Francisco in 1970. Arriving at her apartment with her financial
adviser, Ernesto Vilatuya, Imelda insisted that Carmen sign a
declaration promising never to go to bed with Marcos again. When
Carmen refused, Imelda took a swing at her. She ducked and Imelda
floored Vilatuya. Soon after, he was made President of the
Philippine National Bank, a position he held until 1972.
With Marcos and the national exchequer
in her pocket, Imelda roamed the world as the Philippines' roving
ambassador. In Libya, she claimed that Colonel Qaddafi made a pass
at her, but to friends she confided he was gay. There were gay
rumours about Imelda too. She travelled every where with Christina
Ford, wife of Henry Ford II, and it was said they were lovers.
Others say that she went to bed with the permanently tanned actor,
George Hamilton. And why not? Everyone else did.
According to the Philippines'
constitution, the President can hold office for only two four-year
terms. In 1973, Marcos considered putting up Imelda as his
successor, thereby holding on to the reigns of power for eight more
years. But with Imelda constantly away on state-sponsored shopping
sprees, he felt she might leave a power vacuum. Instead, he declared
Popular frustration soon turned to
violence. At an open-air awards ceremony, one of the recipients
lunged at Imelda with a cane-cutting blade. She instinctively
protected her breasts and was slashed on both forearms. The would-be
assassin was slaughtered on the spot by her bodyguards.
The assassination attempt had a
profound effect on her. She called in voodoo advisers to protect her
from hostile spells. Old clothes were hoarded and no personal items
were thrown away, lest they fall into the hands of those plotting
against her. She began wearing a scarf around her neck to ward off
the danger of decapitation. And she surrounded herself with
handmaidens whom she called her 'blue ladies' because they were
dressed identically in a traditional Filipino termos with a blue
sash. They were hand-picked for their loyalty and owed their
elevation from the grinding poverty that was now engulfing the
country solely to Imelda.
Villas for the quality conscious
Chairman, CDL, Bandula Ranaweera (at right) at the launch of the
By Pelham Juriansz
Looking for a house 10-15 minutes drive from Colombo? Ceylinco
Developers Ltd (CDL) has the right type of house for you.
Offering a choice of eight exclusive
designs and constructed by the waters edge and amidst landscaped
parks, Millennium Villas is situated in a very prime location.
Each of these houses have exquisite
exteriors and beautifully appointed interiors. Speaking to The
Sunday Leader at the launch of the Millennium Villas, Deputy
Chairman, CDL, Bandula Ranaweera said that 24-hour security will be
provided for these houses.
"Today, since both husband and
wife are working one could leave the house and go to work with peace
of mind as we provide 24-hour security. Most of these houses are
built for the upper class while there are some other houses built to
suit the demands of middle and upper middle class people as
well," he emphasised.
"Designed by three architects the
construction of these houses takes about nine to 12 months.
Customers could place an order by paying 10% to book and 30% to
commence construction. Already 10 houses have been reserved and a
diamond necklace worth Rs. 250,000 is on offer to the first 20
customers. The entire extent of Millennium Villas is 30 acres
comprising of 90 units," he added.
Facilities such as 24-hour controlled
security, double garages and jacuzzis in all houses, a state of the
art clubhouse, gymnasium, swimming pool and a mini super market are
some of the features that make Millennium Villas one of the best
housing choices to promote stylish living.
Type VU 1 is a two-storeyed, super
luxury house with a verandah, terrace, living, dining rooms, lobby
and four bedrooms with one attached and two common toilets.
Type VU 2 has a walk-in closet with
powder room, visitors' lobby, fitted pantry etc.
Type VP 2 is two-storeyed with front
and rear verandahs, living room, dining room and four bedrooms with
one attached and two common toilets.
Type VA 2 is single-storeyed, super
luxury with living room, dining etc.
Type VC 2 is also a single-storeyed,
luxury villa with front and rear verandahs.
Type VA 1 is two-storeyed with front
and rear verandahs, open verandahs and four bedrooms.
Type VC 1 is built on 17-20 perches of
land with two-storeyed, super luxury villa with front and rear
The last type VP 2 is a four-storeyed,
According to Ranaweera, 2,000 housing
units have already been sold through the Millennium City concept.
"With the growing demand for Millennium City housing projects,
we have recorded 85% occupancy in the Athurugiriya project,"
This is a BOI approved project with
each house being built on 12 to 20-perches of land with a floor area
ranging from 2000 to 3000 square feet. The special introductory
price is Rs. 12-20 million. Finance facilities could be arranged.