A Family Dinner.

I was the only one who remembered the oath taking. I was thinking of what dress to wear. I decided on wearing my Mommy’s clothes. She wanted very much for Tish to become a full pledged physician. Melancholic and mushy, I talked to her, that somehow, she would feel the joy of the occasion, each excited beat of the heart transmitted to heaven.

Whoaaah. I asked Jean what she was wearing. and came a clueless answer: for what? The oath taking, I said. A moment of silence. Then the disbelief. That is on Saturday? Aha, I said. And she blasted: Oh no, Ma, I have a talk in the morning, in Pasig, up to eleven, what time is the oath taking? Twelve, call time. Oh no, you go ahead and I will take the Uber.

That was Tuesday.
Then came Wednesday. I received a text.

Ma, it’s oath taking on Saturday, I forgot. Please fetch me Friday night.

Then Friday night came.

What am I to wear?
There are two beige gowns. You can try those.

Saturday morning. The rain dropped heavy in the early morning. Blessings, I prayed.

And sure enough, Tish and I waited at Jazz, where Jean resides, and together, we went to the Philippine International Convention Center.

The Plenary Hall was filled to a capacity. The oath taking was brief, the beeline to the ID and certificate was longer. The event was much a family groupie. I prodded Jean to take pictures of me. What else can we do?

When Tish came, feet blistered, we snapped a few souvenir shots.

Then drove all the way to Bonifacio Global City, away from the buzz, for a quiet dinner.

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The Oath Taking

Saturday, the 21st of October, was a day to remember. Tish took an oath, the Physician’s Hippocratic Oath.

The oath was sacred. It binds the physician to a duty to save lives. Duty first, before all else. That means no Christmas celebration, no social life. No holidays.

Tish has realized early on that that exactly would be her life. Once, the family went to Cebu, for a wedding. She was the only one left behind because she had a test.

And her music, that has to be sacrificed also. Although the piano and singing has rendered her the most joy, life would be trifling if there is no service to one’s fellow man.

Now, there’s the unbreakable oath. Praying to God Almighty that Tish sustains the strength of mind and body when duty calls.

St. Paul of the Cross Rising

t. Paul of the Cross is some four decades and four years old.

When other churches around the Philippines have been in existence for four centuries, mine started to build when I was a child.

I can still remember the wind-tossed stilts and nipa that was our make-shift chapel come Sundays, in a grassy slope beneath our valley.

Somewhere between then and now, a bigger chapel was constructed. Our community had grown.

Four years ago, a new parish priest by the name of Fr. Eymard Balatbat came to take care of us. Under his watch, a new St. Paul of the Cross comes to rise.

The construction of the new church is going on its second Christmas. A long time constructing, but hey, every one is excited.

My girls are home.

All of a sudden, my girls are home.
I was caught unaware by the velocity of time, because the homecoming actually reminded me of how my little family was two decades earlier.
It was just like before, when we hit the bed and play poker. This time around, we have a rec room, or the dining room turned into one. And we cared not about other stuff till the wee hours of the morning. Deja vu.

Tish has earned her doctor’s degree and Jean has written journals. I am the only one, I suppose, who is stuck with the home. No complaining. If at all, I am enjoying the sweetness of it all.

Chris McCandless Into the Wild

I have not been touched by a movie lately as that of the true life story of a young man called Chris McCandless. The movie was based on a novel, I think, by his younger sister. Anyway, except for the images I checked on google, I didn’t want to read any criticism about the life story, else my perception might be affected. There was, I think a proposition not to talk about Chris any longer.

But why not?

I was able to relate with Chris.

Chris was a man in search of his self, his being. He yearned to feel joy and happiness that couldn’t be gratified by the existence he was in.

Chris comes from a rich family. He went to college and graduated. He was an adorable lad, someone you would like for a son, someone you would like for a brother, someone you would like for a boyfriend.

Somewhere in his childhood though, he realized that he has two warring parents. Somewhere in his adolescence, he discovered he has an older brother whom his father never acknowledged as his son by another woman.

Chris breezed through life the protective brother, the ideal student, the traveler. He loved going on adventures.

Right after graduation from college, he did just that. He turned down the gift of a new car, gave his law school money to charity, and disappeared into the highways and byways by a different name: Alexander Supertrump.

Destination: Alaska. A rover wandering in search of a meaning.

Along the way, Chris met a few people. He was the congenial, most likely a gregarious company one would love to spend hours working with or just have a conversation with, or just keep quiet with.

He enjoyed the experiences as if he was born to be free, not trapped in a rich family, business or politics. Those things he resent, without offending anyone.

And when he reached Alaska, the wild area, he found a rusty bus that he turned into his shelter, his abode. And he discovered his happiness. He was overjoyed by the view of the majestic scenes on the horizon, overwhelmed by his becoming a hunter. It was the hermit existence. And he loved it. He was born for it.

And one thing with Chris, he reads and writes.

He loved Leo Tolstoi and Jack London. Perhaps that was the reason. He felt his self fed up with society’s hypocrisy. He felt his self invited into the wild. None most satisfying. To be free.

Did it occur to him that solitary existence could be fatal? Yes. But it was a life’s adventure to take that risk.

In the end, Chris died of starvation, because he couldn’t cross back the river, and he couldn’t hunt for food. Even the berries that he ate turned out poisonous.

A tragic story of a brave soul. Given the strength and vivaciousness, I would probably device my own adventure. For what could be more compelling to know that one could be attuned with the great creation, in the brightest of days, the darkest and coldest of nights,to admire the beauty of snow caps, smell the freshness of the trees, hear the music of the wilds, the sound of silence, and inhale the marvelous scents and exhales into the greatness of the earth and the heavens.

If Chris survived, he could have put into words a story of love. But it was not meant to be. Chris story is a lesson for us, to be true with our selves, to find beauty and joy and happiness. It was his regret, because albeit he felt happiness, it would have been real if he had shared it.

Find your peace, Chris, you already have shared your happiness. My turn to say Thank you, you are worth knowing.

La la Land

Uncanny Saturday afternoon when Jean, Tish and I had to rush to Robinson’s Magnolia, to catch a screening of La la Land. I asked: What?

My two girls rattled about seven Golden Globe awards including Best Picture. I think.

I sort of thought, if it was Best Picture, why is no one swooning gaga over it on facebook? I would have noticed.

Anyways, I went along, wondering about the title. If it’s Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, it’s a treat.

Excitement hushed as I took a bite on my organic chicken burrito. Nah. It was the Los Angeles highway packed with traffic scene, and young people started hopping out of their cars, swaying to a rolling twenties(?) music. I remembered Jean and Tish saying this film garnered Best Music, too.

Okay, a musical. After enduring High School Musical for my two teens a decade ago, I swore I will not watch any teeny boppy flick.

But there goes the story, a man and a woman, Sebastian, a jazz pianist, and Mia, a talented actress auditioning for her place in the theater, accidentally meeting each other here and there, and because of one incidence too many, decided to be together. For four seasons.

It would have been a good love story, except for the part that both are in search of their dreams. As destiny would have it, Mia got her role in Broadway, and Sebastian, after a touring stint with a modern jazz band, built his own jazz bar.

Fast forward five years later, Mia comes back to Los Angeles, now a deemed theater artist, with her husband and a toddler of a daughter. And by some strange pull, she is led to Seb’s, Sebastian’s jazz nook.

And the two saw each other again. No hellos. No words. Just a look and an acknowledgement that, I suppose, they have reached their respective dreams.

Do I like it?

My daughters were disappointed. I had my reservations. Will hold my comments until further feelings arise from reviewing the film in my mind.

And now, after two days, here I am, trying to find the satisfaction one expects from watching a movie.

If this was Best Picture, surely it would have a great impact on me. There was none. Sadly.

And so I had to think more. Those Golden Globe judges must have seen something that would have impacted the viewers.

And so I came up with credits for this movie, even if in my view it is a tragedy.

First, it is a story of the ordinary people. The dreamers, specifically.
Which brings me to the title that I googled for meaning, La la Land, meaning “Los Angeles or Hollywood, especially with regard to the lifestyle and attitudes of those living there or associated with it; a fanciful state or dreamworld.”

These ordinary people have this illusion that their lives will only have meaning if they attain their dreams. And, more often, they miss out on one important thing: LOVE. These dreamers mistake that success and happiness can only be achieved after realizing their dreams. And love can be set at bay. These dreamers, unbeknownst to themselves, have been reduced to a mechanical existence, mere robots, or even slaves of their own passion. Thus, the tragedy.

Second, this movie brought isms for revaluation. The idealist and the realist, for one, comes in conflict. Holding on to tradition, as sustaining the art form of original jazz, for another, as against reinventing the music to fit in to the new techno-aided sound.

Third, the slow, or rather seemingly unhurried presentation of events, as contrasted to the quick flashback of what could have been, allowed the audience to create misgivings, hoping, as I did, that I could have my happy ending. Nah, again. It was a ploy utilized to make the viewer own the tragedy. For who amongst us did not miss on true love, and lived with what we bargained for.

Fourth, the music was jazzy, and it brought the audience, including the juvenile, to a time melancholic, like dream time.

There are many other things worth commenting about, such as the acting, remarkable, and the costumes, appropriate and nice, ha ha, and the dancing, and the museums, and the stars. Oh, well. But I leave that for others to see.

What we truly celebrate on the first of January.

For our 2017 New Year’s Mass, we trooped to the Shrine of the Divine Word. As blessed as I felt, thankful enough for being in the company of my daughters this New Year’s Day, I did receive a most wondrous of homilies from a missionary priest.

He said that there was a common factor among the Archbishops of New York, Archbishop of Chicago, and Archbishop of Los Angeles, they all in agreement that the Filipino is the new chosen people set to bring our faith into the corners of the world. Why? Because the Filipino fill the churches come Mass time.

Once, when this same priest was studying French, he was summoned by his teacher who resided on the third floor of a building. He was made to witness an empty promenade, vacant for many decades, until the Filipino set foot in France, and filled the cobblestones with devotees wanting to hear Mass.

Yes, the faith of the Filipino is formidable as a rock. Sent on a diaspora to many corners of the world, the Filipino, specifically the Filipino mothers, or the women who worked, initially as domestic helps and caregivers, nurses or entertainers, artists, etcetera, when faced with hardship and trouble, turn to faith and cling to that hope, that God will ease the difficulties that beset their situations. Thus, the churches filled with black-haired Filipinos.

Further, what is most unusual in the Filipino is their utmost devotion to the Blessed Mother. How the Filipino pay Her with most high regard, calling Her Mama Mary, like She is their very own Mother.

Yes, the Filipino is a chosen race, chosen to bring to the world the love of family, the devotion to mother, and the deep faith that transcends trials.

Then the missionary priest asked us to kneel, to give honor to that Mother called Mary and Her Child Jesus, with Joseph by Their side, because They set the example of FAMILY, that which binds the Filipino, that which the Filipino lives for.

The missionary priest said that after the Mass, he would have to make his own journey home, because his own mother makes a head count, and the priest is always late, for her Mano Po, Inay blessing.

That is what we celebrate today, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

Of course, this blog is a short summation of that doctrinal homily, I just hope that we know why we celebrate today.

For my own Mommy, I miss you. And Lola Naty and Lola Oda, too.

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