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Kevin Alas (/a.las/) is king of NCAA, not Kevin Alás (/aˈlas/)

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I’m not a big fan of hoop games, but I do watch it on TV only when I chance upon family members playing live. I’m referring to multi-titled basketball head coach Louie Alas (dad’s younger brother) and his intimidating Letranista kids Junjun and Kevin. Their team, the formidable Letrán Knights, is currently vying for the final championship slot to conclude the 88th season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

My wife dwarfed by my cager cousins. Left to right: Junjun, Yeyette, Kevin, and Kenneth.

Last night, during the Final Four playoffs against the San Sebastián Stags, Kevin was waxing it hot for he was sinking treys from everywhere beyond the arc as if there’s no tomorrow. All throughout the game, he was a rampaging nightmare for the Stags, finishing a career-high 43 points. And hours after the game, he was still trending in Twitter and other social media, something extremely rare for a collegiate cager.

But no, this is not exactly the main reason why I’m writing about basketball. I just have to stroke a pet peeve of mine. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the commentating. Well, not the whole commentary per se. I’d care less for the whole world whether or not they’re speaking niceties towards each other or screaming in awe for every field goal and kicked groins during game time. What I don’t like is how they pronounce our last name: ALAS. For the record, our last name is Spanish, and in that language it means “wings”. Hence, it should be pronounced as AH-las (/a.las/) and not a-LAS (/aˈlas/). The latter pronunciation is used only during card games (in that sense, Alas means “Ace”). The broadcasting team must have been thinking of Tong-its all the time whenever my cousins are strutting their stuff on the hardcourt. Cayá lang ang saquít talagá sa teñga, eh. I’m pretty sure they’d feel the same way if I murder their last names too.

To all basketball commentators in both the NCAA and the PBA (for Uncle Louie is now part of Alaska Ace’s coaching staff), this is something for you to chew over.

On a side note, I was surprised that this season’s NCAA theme is in Spanish: ¡CELEBRAMOS 88! Conquistar por tu honor nuevas glorias (To conquer new glories for your honor). But all that wonderment ceased when I learned that the host school was Colegio de San Juan de Letrán, my Uncle and cousins’ team school.

Wow! I didn’t know that this season’s theme is in Spanish! Cool!

The theme is actually culled from the school’s hymn which is still in Spanish.

I’m glad that Letrán still keeps their Filipino Identity alive, albeit just the name and the school. Unlike the rather sorry case for Universidad de Santo Tomás. Some pathetic officials there in the past (and may God bless and forgive them for their linguistic and nationalistic treason) opted to anglicize the name of the university, thus the laughable change to University of Santo Tomas. The name is actually Spanglish, the next step towards pidginization, my golly! ¡Ang saquít sa teñga! And to think that this learning institution is Asia’s first university and was given the ever prestigious title La Real y Pontificia Universidad. :-(

If Rizal were alive today, he would have been thankful to have left that university abruptly.

¡ARRIBA LETRÁN!

Happy eleventh birthday, Krystal!

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Happy eleventh birthday to my única hija, Jewel Krystal Rose!

Happy second birthday, Juanito!

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Happy second birthday to my youngest son, Juan Pablo Benedicto P. Alas!!!

Juanito

A novena prayer for my dearly departed abuela, Srª Dñª Norma Évora y Bonilla vda. de Alas

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My dearly beloved grandmother, Nanay Norma (1930-2011), is finally reunited with her one and only true love, Tatay Godofredo “Godò” Alas y Sarmiento (1925-1997). They are now in Good Hands, a place where there is no more pain nor sadness, only true and eternal bliss.

My abuela passed away last night —on my dad’s 59th birthday— at 11:38 PM in Makati Medical Center (MICU 7). She should have been 81 this May 3rd. But God is merciful: He didn’t allow for my grandmother to suffer any further. He even gave her just enough strength to be with my dad on his birthday.

The pain of losing a loved one, a matriarch, is something that is almost unbearable. Nonetheless, we are glad that Nanay Norma is no longer in pain, that she is now with Tatay Godò, that both of them are reunited with the Lord…

I will write more details about this sad event in the coming days. In the meantime, please do join the Alas and Évora clans in prayer during this moment of great grief.

Mi abuelo Godò y abuela Norma. Foto sacada durante nuestra vacación en Pagsanján, La Laguna, circa 1997.

Let us now offer this novena prayer for our beloved Nanay Norma E. Alas who has departed from this world and now returns to you.
O Lord, in your mercy welcome her into your heavenly kingdom.
She has gone to her rest.
Now, she hopes to rise with you.
O Lord, in your encompassing love, bring her into the light of your Divine Presence.

We meekly intercede, O Lord, for our faithful departed Nanay Norma.
May she find eternal peace with you.
May she inherit your kind forgiveness.
May she see you face to face.
Yes, you are our hope in this world.
You are our resurrection and life.
You are our Judge and Savior.

O Lord, we humbly beseech you: be merciful in your judgment and grant to Nanay Norma the promised salvation.
Remember not her faults, but cleanse her of her sins and grant her lasting reward.
O Lord, extend to Nanay Norma your victory over sin and death.
Let her not be separated from you, but grant her a place in your eternal abode.

Jesus, Lord of the living and the dead, comfort of the weary and the afflicted, conqueror of death and sin, guide our departed Nanay Norma.
As she reaches the end of her journey, lead her back to you.
As her life comes to an end, let her live with you.
As she stands before you in judgment, please speak again these words:

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you.”

May the good Lord grant her a merciful judgment and look kindly upon her.

ALL: Lord, help us see death for what it really is:

—the end of poverty and the beginning of riches:
—the end of frustration and the beginning of fulfillment;
—the end of fear and the beginning of tranquility;
—the end of pain and the beginning of joy;
—the end of weakness and the beginning of strength.

Let not grief overwhelm us or a sense of loss embitter us, but out of our sadness let there arise a new joy.

Cast out our fears and let not our hearts be troubled.
Let your spirit of peace come alive within our experience and hurt, our sorrow and isolation, our sadness today and loneliness tomorrow.

We humbly commend to you, Nanay Norma, whom you called out of this mortal life.
You loved her always with a great love.

Now that you have freed her from all the evils of this earth, bring her into your paradise where there is no more grief or mourning or sadness, but peace and joy with your Son and the Holy Spirit forever.

We thank you for all the blessings you have given to Nanay Norma in her mortal life.
We pray that she may be able to glorify you with the life she lived and the way he made use of your blessings.

Lord, grant that we will never forget that life is short and uncertain.
Let your Spirit guide us in holiness, justice, and service to our brothers and sisters.

We pray for the healing of all unhappy and hurting feelings death may have caused in our hearts.
Be with us, Lord, during our moments of sorrow and loneliness.
You are our rock, our fortress, and our strength.

We trust in you and hope in your glorious resurrection.
We lift up to you our grief and sorrow, confident that you Hill change mourning to rejoicing that our beloved now rests in your peace.

L: Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
A: And let perpetual Light shine upon her.
L: May she rest in peace.
A: Amen.
L: May the soul of Nanay Norma and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
A: Amen.

*******

Prayer taken from Straight From The Heart… A Prayer Companion by “healing priest” Fr. Mario José C. Ladra (pp. 321-326, St Pauls Publications, 2007).

Nanay Norma’s critical condition

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I was supposed to share good tidings today, particularly about the meeting I had almost 24 hours ago with my compañeros regarding the founding of our new group/website. But that has to come later.

Because I think my abuelita‘s life is hanging on the balance.

Although bound to a wheelchair, she still looked rather healthy when I took this photo of her last 12/10/2010 in front of her house in Unisan, Tayabas/Quezon.

My dad’s mother, my beloved abuelita, is confined (for the nth time) in Makati Medical center, this time in the hospital’sintensive care unit (ICU).

According to mom, my dad (he’s been taking care of grandmother for the past few years in Unisan) has been sending SMS messages to her in Manila, telling her of abuela‘s worsening condition. She suddenly started to weaken right after the Holidays. She was sent promptly to Makati Med last Thursday (1/27/2010) Wednesday (1/26/2011).

My grandmother, affectionately called Nanay Norma by many people, is diabetic. Through the years, the dreaded disease has contributed much to her debilitation. And aside from old age, mobility changed abruptly by an accident last year; she fell from her bed, fracturing her hips.

When me and Yeyette visited her this evening, I was shocked with what I saw. I immediately placed myself in self-denial. This could not be my grandmother who showered me with so much affection and love… for why couldn’t she speak to me (when she was hospitalized last year, she could still talk coherently)?! Also, it was my first time inside an intensive care unit. Many “hoses and wires” were connected to her semi-bloated right arm and nostrils; she was undergoing intravenous therapy. And worse, she was moaning. She could hardly speak anymore, as if she’s suffering from “reverse trismus”: her jaw won’t shut. And I could hardly understand what she was saying. She was moaning because of breathing difficulties. And she appeared to be in so much pain. It all appeared so surreal, so unreal. It was just a month ago that I was talking to her! I so could not believe what I was seeing that all the tears that supposed to well up in me fell instead from Yeyette’s eyes.

Thankfully, my grandmother immediately recognized me in spite of her drowsiness caused by drugs.

I later learned that she has pneumonia, the same ailment that killed her husband, my late grandfather Godofredo Alas y Sarmiento, in 1997.

Dad is the only one there at the hospital who is taking care of her when we arrived. Uncle Louie was also there, paying a visit. Soon, my mom and two sisters arrived.

For the benefit of all Alas and Évora family members, below is a photo of grandma’s cardiac monitor (a usual fixature in many a hospital scene in the country, especially when one of the film’s character is about to give up the ghost). Her status will also be described below the photo:

My grandmother's cardiac monitor. This is a necessary equipment in intensive care units.

My wife took the above photo of my grandmother’s cardiac monitor before we left last night. The green graph represents her pulse rate; the normal rate is from 60 to 100. The yellow graph represents her respiratory rate; the normal rate is from 20 to 25. 102/46 (the numbers in red) represents her blood pressure. Her blood sugar is (59), but it should be maintained at 80.

However, when we got home (a few hours ago), we received an SMS (11:26 PM) from my sister Jessica: abuela‘s blood pressure worsened — it dropped to 68/46!

It’s now 4:16 AM. Time to go to sleep. We plan to go back there this afternoon; it’s dad’s 59th birthday today. Such a bad timing to cheer him up. Nevertheless, we’ll be there. We should be there.

And I’d like to whisper to Nanay Norma’s large Hispanic ears that we will attend her 81st birthday in Unisan. And that she should be there to host it.

*******

A thousand thanks to our relatives who already visited. Thank you for your prayers and moral support:
Captain Ernesto Alas
Tito Monching Alas
Ate Lilet Alas de Fernández
Uncle Paul Évora III
Tita Corina Unson (Thank you so much for Saint Anne’s oil!)

May God bless you every single day of your lives. =)

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