Friday, January 30, 2009

On Stormy Days

January 22, Thursday, was a sad day. It was a day filled with disappointments, of realizing how tired I was of trying to be happy in the margins, of always struggling to conform, to be normal.

I forgot who I was or what I’ve seen of the world in the many wanderings I’ve done. I who have made tough choices, who have risked beyond reason who have dared to love and lost. It is I who allowed myself to cower in the shadows, always trying to hold back and mould myself into something I perceive to be acceptable.

I forgot. That was the essence of that deep sorrow I’ve been feeling. In the midst of the unfamiliar way of measuring a human being, I allowed myself to forget that I am unique, just like everyone else.

Hence I decided to call it a day at 6:00pm and left work filled with despair and with full intention of taking a day off the next day to rest and recover. I needed time away from the sorrow that was gripping me then.

Little did I know that a far more painful experience was lurking, waiting to show itself in my most vulnerable moment. Unbeknownst to me, I was about to begin a journey that was about to take me to places and experiences that would give me the time and the opportunity to learn about fear, loss, grief, acceptance, sacrifice, love, and death. I was at a point where my world will be shaken with only my faith and my heart to guide me again.

The world tilted…and everything wasn’t right for a while

My Tatay (lolo) was dying. That summed up all the text messages I received from my sister and aunt while I was on my way home. I called Tatay and mustered every last ounce of courage I have to stop myself from crying while I talked to him. I confirmed how grave his condition was when we talked on the phone. I couldn’t understand a word of what he said but I let him talk. All I could do was tell him how I feel and tried to put much hope in my voice even if my heart was breaking.

It was a long trip home filled with grief, regret, hope, and memories.

Decisiveness in a time of Doubt

That night was about helplessness. It was a moment of despair, of giving up, of waiting, of slow and steady descent to darkness. But if experiences taught me anything, such times never last. There will always come a time when a touch of courage and clarity will emerge. There will be that fleeting chance to escape the creeping darkness and rise above despair. There will always be that time, however briefly, that just sits waiting to be taken.

It was then that I made the decision to go to Cebu and see Tatay. That was the only clear thing I knew then. I wanted to do go and I found the strength to find the means to make it possible on such desperate times.

I didn’t know if I’d still see him alive. I lived through Friday not thinking I might not reach him on time. The Saturday flight was like decades away. I felt like I was on borrowed time.

Family First

Tita Nora, Kuya Boy (my uncle), and I were on the same flight. Their presence made me stronger. My hope flickered like a flame made stronger by a strong but gentle breeze. It made me think of how mundane my worries last Thursday. Those problems and disappointments prior to this much painful news seem very insignificant now.

I realized that love above all else make us feel life and death more concretely. And each family, regardless of its unique stories, of all its ups and downs, is created from love. A family exists because of love hence it never fails to transcend even the seemingly insurmountable challenges. It bonds together when it is tested. I thought then that anything that’s defined by love, no matter how vaguely is bound to hold up against the onslaught of even the strongest storms.

The will to live

Tatay was dying last January 22. All of us who talked to him that night on the phone knew that he may not have much time anymore. We tried to say our goodbyes while holding on to the flimsy hope that he would still recover, that he would live through this.

Ate Elma, my eldest tita, said the doctor gave Tatay four hours to live. But then, the doctor never knew Tatay, of how strong his mind was. So when ate said that we’ll be going to Cebu to visit him, he defied the odds and lived on for two more days. Two more days just so he can see his family.

At last we were in Cebu. We found Tatay miraculously better than what our conversations with him on the phone suggested. He spoke clearly, his mind was sharp, he talked to us just the way I remembered him do. And each time the other children and grandchildren talked to him on the phone, he’d tell them that we were there and to just pray for him.

That was an afternoon of rekindled joy and hope. We began to plan for more days with him. He was sick but he was okay. We began to believe in more time with him.

Tatay slept early that Saturday night. Then he left us. He was slipping away when we said our goodbyes. He looked so at peace when he finally left. He looked like he was only sleeping. He died just before 1:30am of Sunday.

It was a moment of grief. It was a time of pain. It was like flashes of memories bombarded my brain like a series of films of timeless memories.

Following your bliss

My Tatay's life made me think that perhaps the best legacy we can really leave behind is love or our unique ways of manifesting it. It is how we touch the lives of people and how we spent our time listening to our heart.

Tatay was not a perfect man. But he was a good man. More importantly, he was a man who followed his bliss. And in doing so, each of us whose lives he has touched remember him and try to honor him.

Acceptance and Sacrifice

We buried Tatay in Cebu despite our deepest wish to bring him home and bury him in Davao where most of his family lives. But the decisions of his wife of eight years prevailed over the family’s wishes.

I remembered that moment when the decision was made. I began thinking that a sacrifice is much easier to bear when it is made out of love. We wanted everything to be fine for Tatay hence the difficult decision to give way.

The family endured this test. My sisters, tita, and cousin from Davao arrived in Cebu last Monday to say their goodbyes and attend the burial. We were suddenly brought together from different places and found strength from each other. In grief we endured much than we could have possibly imagined. Yet we held on.

It has been a whirlwind of emotions. We were overwhelmed but we endured.

I came out of this with more conviction and faith that above all else, it is our humanity, our capacity to feel pain and love, our faith in people, our courage to follow our dreams no matter how stupid they appear to others - these define our lives.

Everything else is just trappings that may lend us temporary feelings of completeness. But a life devoid of love, a life of distrust in people who defy the labels we put on them, a life pushing people in the margins…is a life I don’t wish for myself.


Finding solace in this beautiful Japanese poem by Mitsuo Aida

Because it has lived its life intensely
the parched grass still attracts the gaze of passers-by,
The flowers merely flower,
and they do this as well as they can.

The white lily, blooming unseen in the valley,
Does not need to explain itself to anyone;
It lives merely for beauty.
Men, however, cannot accept that 'merely'

If tomatoes wanted to be melons,
they would look completely ridiculous.
I am always amazed that so many people are concerned
with wanting to be what they are not;
what's the point of making yourself look ridiculous?
You don't always have to pretend to be strong,
there's no need to prove all the time that everything is going well,
you shouldn't be concerned about what other people are thinking,
cry if you need to,it's good to cry out all your tears
(because only then will you be able to smile again).
*(English translation of Japanese poem and image used were from the Internet)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Expecting the Unexpected

At least three Department of Tourism (DOT) employees recently impressed me for giving the kind of public service that I haven't seen or experienced in a long while. Regretfully, I've had quite a number of unfortunate encounters and experiences with some esteemed public servants that I've gradually learned to not expect anything.

Last January 16, Friday, Colleen and I went to DOT to try ask for brochures that we can include in our information packets for visiting clients. Colleen handles a lot of office tours for guests visiting from other countries while I usually end up taking care of coordinating the logistics end of the tour (just one of the many things I seem to end up doing either officially or unofficially).

The idea behind the brochures came from our big boss herself. A few weeks back the boss gave me three copies of "Philippines: 7,107 islands beyond the usual" brochure that she said she got from somewhere. She said they're good addition to the packets we usually prepare for the tours. She thought we can perhaps ask DOT to give us some.

Colleen and I arranged for us to go to DOT last Friday. We both didn't know anyone there and we didn't have any idea of how to get our task done in the least possible amount of time required. My personal experiences with DOT before was limited to the travel tax exemptions they give for official PHI delegates to competitions or seminars abroad. I can't quite recall having problems then so I'd guess that they take they're job seriously. This time though, I'm really clueless on the SOPs for the request we'll make.

The visit was a breeze though. I honestly didn't expect it to be so. When we got off the car in front of the entrance someone opened the door for us (the kind of service you'd expect mostly from hotels or expensive restaurants). Then a guard asked us what our business was and then pointed us to the information counter conveniently located at the right side of the entrance. The male receptionist there was very polite and immediately directed us to proceed to the room where we'd find the assistance we require.

As soon as we got to the room, one of the employees there immediately approached us. We explained to him what it is that we do and asked if could ask for more brochures from them. He gave us one each of the different brochures and booklets they have. But since we need more than their particular office can provide, he told us to proceed to the publications office next door and request for more. He said that we'll first have to fill up the request form.

When we got to the publications office, I was impressed by how clean and well-managed the room looked even if it was almost filled with stacks and stacks of brochures and booklets. The guy there asked us what we need. I was expecting that since we need to fill up a form, we would have to wait days for approval of the request. It was therefore a nice surprise when he immediately started counting for the exact number of brochures we said we need. Only after he had the brochures ready that he made us fill up the form.

Now, let me say that I'm a bit jaded in dealing with some public servants. As I've often tried to remind myself, acceptance of what's there can save me a whole lot of disappointment and grief. So, having experienced good customer service from public servants was a simple and yet extraordinary event that spiced up my day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Game Time

Futsal game last night was fun! For one, there were more of us from work who played, thanks to Norman and Xavier's recruits. Seeing new people join us makes me hopeful that we can continue to sustain this. Sometimes, it does get hard mustering the numbers to play.

I've always enjoyed playing it non-stop hence I still want to play even if we only have just the exact players needed for the game. But lately, I've been dreading how the numbers would turn out because Norman always says he'd cancel if we have less than 13 people who'd confirm. There's really nothing much I can do when he decides to cancel. I always leave those decisions to the person who knows best. In this case, Norman knows best seeing that he seems to know the sport inside out and I'm just an eager newbie who thoroughly enjoys the game.

Quite frankly, I sometimes worry that I won't have enough play time when there's so many of us around. I guess this is one of the remnants of that other life where training took almost 80% of my daily life. Sometimes it doesn't help when my body and soul craves for the challenge, pain, adrenalin rush, and joy of training/playing.

Another reason I thoroughly enjoyed last night's game was the opportunity to team up with Candice who's really a good Futsal player. It was the first time that Badette and I played with her on the same team. You'd think that we're seriously disadvantaged for having three girls on our team while the other side has only one girl plus Norman and Pao (two of the really, really good players of our regular Futsal group).

I think playing with Candice brought out the best from Badette and myself. I was really in the zone in that particular game and I goaled twice, made an assist for Badette's goal, and made several attempts to shoot the ball straight to the goal. Candice scored four times in that game I think. She's really good. Of course the others in the team scored as well. We all played well together. I was just particularly happy about the "girl power" thing we're jokingly telling the other team.

I'm glad that I have this weekly Futsal thing going on. I wish there are more days to play.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


The spur-of-the-moment decision to meet sis Daisy at Angeles City to visit sis Josie and brod Rene yesterday ended up as an impromptu get-together of some sisses and brods. Daisy had to do a site visit at Clark on official T.G.I. Fridays business so we decided to just meet at Dau before lunch. My motivation for going, on the other hand, was purely personal. I had a sudden urge to visit Josie and get away (at least for a while) from a growing feeling of demotivation and apathy to that thing which occupies most of my time.

As it turned out, Daisy was still tied up at the meeting when I got to Dau. I decided to go ahead and just wait for her at Josie's because it seemed that the meeting would end much later than she expected. I was confident I could manage to bring myself to Villa Teresa. After all, her family's house (which is technically just beside her current house) sort of became my second home in college. I used to spend almost every weekend and semester breaks there so I was sure it would not be much of a challenge.

It was quite a surprise therefore to see that a lot, as in A LOT, has changed since then. I almost got lost if not for that distinctive dome of the big church that I knew was just a stone throw's away from Tollhouse (their restaurant which serves the best baked mac this side of the earth). My plan B was to proceed to Tollhouse and just call Josie to pick me up from there or ask one of their crews to point me to the right direction so I can find the house on my own.

Josie had other plans though and she would pick me up at Nepo Mall, which she did. A few minutes drive and we were already at her place. And this is when all the eating I did began. I knew that I would not even have a small chance of following my diet/eating routine once I got there. Resisting food in Pampanga is futile and it is almost impossible when I am in a company of a chef whose career revolves around food.

And so it was pretty much lazing around in the house where reading, poring over old photo albums of UP days, eating, drinking coffee, Internet surfing, chatting, eating, eating, and more eating were the chosen activities of the day.
Daisy joined us after her meeting. She arrived with brod Russell who picked her up from her meeting and gamely shared that he always end up as a designated driver for Daisy and sometimes, sis Ann. It was fun talking with him since I did not have that much interaction with him at our tambayan before.
Yasmin, who just got in from a biking trip in Subic, came as well. And then Danvic with her wife Melissa dropped by. They arrived for the weekend from Manila and just dropped off their daughter Kiara and some other relatives then went straight to Josie's place.

All in all it was like the old days. The same people, quirks, and humor that always end up in easy conversations and laughter. Of course, Danvic was still typically mapang-asar with his quick wit and sarcastic comments. He regaled us with stories of his experiences teaching multi-media arts at one of Manila's well-known and amazingly expensive colleges where he realized how distinctly different are today's generation from ours.

It was an interesting conversation that touched on the nuances of generation gaps. It was about the advances of technology that contributed to the differences that define each generation. It was about the futility of resisting the change and the constant challenge of crossing the bridges between gaps.
The half-day visit ended up to be an overnight stay. We realized that nothing much has changed since college. We could still make unplanned and spontaneous decisions regardless of whatever previous plans we have made.

Things picked up from Danvic:
Nag-hang ka no? - is what he jokingly tells his student(s) who didn't understand anything of what he said
While talking to an older colleague:
Danvic: Ano balita?
Older colleague: Bakit mo sa akin tinatanong, mukha ba akong dyaryo?
Danvic: Oo, luma.
Danvic: Class, kilala nyo ba si Copernicus?
Student1: Kilala ba namin si Copernicus?
Danvic: You do realize na inulit mo lang yung sinabi ko ano?
Class: Silence and blank stares.
Danvic: Close friend ko si Copernicus.
(Yet more silence and blank stares....)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Amazing Feat

This remarkable story is truly amazing. Just one of the tangible proofs of how heroes walk among us and that we are all blessed to have people like them wired to touch others' lives in most meaningful ways.

Caring is a dangerous thing

This report about the kidnapping in Sulu of humanitarian workers from the Geneva-based ICRC makes me think that you can't blame people if they don't care about a lot of things anymore. I think all acts that are anchored on that human capacity to care require a lot of courage and a whole lot of risk. I believe all forms of caring, be it grand or small, starts with a true desire to embrace that humanity within each person.

But caring is a dangerous business. It invites ridicule, doubt, judgment, and a slew of other negative reactions. And judging from what happened in Sulu (and in all other strife-torn countries), it can also get you kidnapped.

Most times I find myself asking, "Who cares, really?". I sometimes feel that I'm so uncool for caring, for thinking about things that I don't even remotely influence. But is it really a sin to hope and believe? Do people really have to suffer for nurturing that hope in their hearts that something good can always result from good intentions?

I admire the people who truly care despite the dangers that this emotion bring. I can only pray for the safety of the kidnapped victims. And I wish that despite what I see and experience, I wouldn't be afraid to care.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This is when I need to eat durian...I think

It's that time of the year when it's so cold that I feel I can barely function normally. January to February usually seems to be the coldest months. But I feel that it has been unusually colder these past weeks.

It's not really that bad but it does make me feel that my body responds even slower than my sluggish brain. It doesn't help that it's always cold in the office. I have always been uncomfortable with the cold at work but now, I feel worse. I keep wondering if the machines are happy. They should be because someone is not exactly enjoying feeling like in deep freeze everyday.

I wonder if there's any medicine that could make a person feel warmer in cold places. But then again, I think that wouldn't be a good idea since it could be dangerous to strip a person of that capacity to feel discomfort and pain.

Since I know that this idiotic ranting is a complete waste of time and effort, I just have to find comfort from the fact that it's already middle of January. I think I can survive a few more weeks of this cold.

Maybe I should start eating fresh durian again. I remember that the last time I ate it, I felt very warm inside after. My sister said durian has that effect. I would like to test if it works equally well for me when I'm in the office.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Toughing it out

I think I made a mistake. It usually happens when I ignore what my heart is telling me. But my heart is compartmentalized so I guess sometimes I end up balancing everything out.

I have vowed to just let things slide. Even if it costs me so much grief, I will let it slide. I am tired of figuring things out, between things that are said and things that are done. I have never been one to get stuck with words. It is what I sense and what I feel that matters to me most. In the absence of what I sense and feel is real, I grieve.

So this is me toughing it out. This is me feeling this steady crumbling in that part of my heart that I fear would never heal. This is me finding solace in the fact that something good is coming out from this mistake. I am finding comfort from the fact that somewhere else, I matter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I'll say it again, I'm not much of an elevator fan. I've even made an attempt to find humor from a list of annoying things one can do in it. But technically, I'm one of those people who would rather climb stairs than be stuck inside a small place where most times, personal space becomes a myth.

I've always been realistic enough to accept the fact that there's always a chance I might get stuck in one. After all, it happens to a lot of people. Unfortunately, the probability of that happening to me is not that remote seeing that our office building seems to have recurring problems with the lifts.

However, since I don't relish the idea of being trapped inside one, I haven't given much thought about the possibility. It was therefore a shock and a discomforting experience to be stuck in one of the service elevators right after that big lunch with Badette, Reuben, and Christian.

Good thing there were many of us inside the elevator and that Maenard was there who immediately called Arvin of Admin to help us out. We were stuck in there for quite some time. And I couldn't help but feel extremely grateful that I wasn't alone otherwise I would have seriously freaked out.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I'm not sure exactly what's causing my fear of flying. It could be anything. I seem to have some aversion to heights but then again, I don't quite fit the profile of someone suffering from acrophobia. It could probably be a mild case of claustrophobia but I seem to be less terrified of much smaller and enclosed places.

I could spend a lot of time listing possible reasons for this fear and still fail to fully understand the source. It's irrational, really. And I feel pretty stupid about it most times. But no amount of introspection and self-talk can completely remove the silent fear and hopelessness that creep in every time I board a plane.

The flight back to Manila last Tuesday night further drove home the point (the point that didn't need driving home anyway!) why I often fail to enjoy the experience. As soon as the airplane took off a strong smell of burning something wafted from nowhere. I thought I was the only one who noticed it, seeing that I'm possibly the most paranoid person on board.

It was very scary because I had no idea where the smell was coming from. And my fear escalated to an agonizingly catastrophic level when people around me, most of them guys, started reacting to the smell as well. I swear I can feel their fear fueling my hyperactive imagination already.

I was so scared that I didn't have time to feel afraid anymore (go figure). It was that terror that allows nothing but dogged acceptance on my part, which is probably why I appeared calm and unaffected. I was at that point feeling quite helpless already that I just figured there's nothing I can do anymore.

The smell of mysterious origins lingered for several minutes and there was nothing but silence from the flight attendants. Maybe because we just took off and they're still in their seats and oblivious to what's happening somewhere in the plane.

It was approximately a one and a half-hour flight. And I endured every damn second of it.

So how ironic can it get that someone who's soooooo scared of flying chooses to live hundreds of miles from home and embrace activities that would require frequent flying? But then, who said life is easy?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


This prompted me to revisit Blogthings. Hmmm...interesting.

Your Colors Say You Are Hopeful

When you are at peace, you are:

Deeply stable

When you are moved to act, you are:

Confident and optimistic

When you are inspired, you are:

Spontaneous and adventurous

When your life is perfectly balanced, you are:

Philosophical and expressive

Your life's purpose is:

To live a passionate life

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Narinig nung nagbati si House at Wilson. Everything's right with the world again.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Bag of Stuff

I haven't been frequenting the grocery store since I moved into my place. It's not quite as convenient as before and I'm often out working or doing the other things that I do. It was therefore quite a shock to me, and extremely discomforting, to experience it again.

Since I came home for the holidays, I've been doing grocery shopping with my sister. Apart from the stress of squeezing ourselves through the sea of humanity in every aisle and waiting at cashiers' lines, I feel guilty every time we bring home those plastic grocery bags.

I'm not carrying along here as a champion of environment or whatever. Gahd, I do believe that I'm far from that. But still, I've made this promise to myself way back that I'm going to try my damn best to lessen my carbon footprint. And I've really thought I've been making progress on that. Until this time.

It's kind of not easy to tell the cashier not to put the stuff in those plastic bags. I realized it's different when I'm shopping just for myself. I can easily fit what I buy in my bag. And since I don't frequent the grocery, I forgot how convenient it is to ignore a personal cause and just allow old habits to resurface.

All the visits to the grocery in the past week gave us quite a stock of plastic bags. At this time, I'm really not much interested on how others choose to walk the land of the living. What I'm interested in is the fact that what I've done doesn't sit well with me. It made me think that it's easy to rationalize everything in the name of convenience. I can excuse my behavior on account of inconvenience. How else can I bring all that grocery stuff home if I don't let my using those plastic bags slide? I can say that I don't need to feel guilty because I'm not an environmentalist and that I don't even know squat of what being Green means.

But the thing is, I can rationalize all I want and yet that something that doesn't feel quite right would just sit there. I can choose to ignore it, block it from my mind, and go on with my life. But it's still going to be there. And whatever it is that sitting there also knows everything I've seen and experienced in my life.

So, how am I going to forget those months I spent in The Hague where I experienced just how most Dutch do their grocery shopping? How can I forget those times I brought shopping bags whenever we needed to buy stuff from the grocery or at the open market? How can I ignore the memories of respect for those people who have made such a habit out of it? How can I pretend that it can't be done? I'm such a wuss.

And here's something I found on the Internet. This will remind and perhaps inspire me that I maybe a wuss, but I could be that wuss who'll always try to keep a promise.

Excerpt from The Daily Green's 2009 New Year's Resolutions: Make Green a Habit

Cost: $1
Do you opt for paper or plastic when at the grocery store? Neither is a good choice. Twelve million barrels of oil were used to make the 88.5 billion plastic bags consumed in the United States last year. And it takes four times more energy to make paper bags.
The best choice is reusable shopping bags made of cotton, nylon or durable, meshlike plastic. Put a few reusable shopping bags in your car so you have them handy on your next shopping trip. And if you happen to forget your reusable bag (as we all do!), choose paper if you will recycle it or plastic if you will reuse or recycle it.

(All images are from The Daily Green.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Three New Years After

I can't still decide what I really feel with that call that was not a goodbye but turned out to be one. It was a nice breeze that quietly closed a door but left several windows open. One thing I'm sure though, I could be anything but angry. Something that good is never that bad when the end comes. It just is.

Happy New Year World!

What can I say, all things great and all that sucked for 2008 - goodbye! In a nutshell, it was an awesome year. A good year to get stretched and bounced around like there's no limit. Infinity going both ways.

Here's me just about bouncing up and down in excitement, fear, anticipation, hope, and faith. It's gonna be another GREAT year! The universe has spoken! And I'd be stupid not to make these ears listen. :-)