A New Piano and an Old One

We have a new piano. We call it Kawai.  The old one is called Lyric.  Those are the brand names actually.  But we have designated their brand names as their proper names.

The two pianos stand side by side in our small sala.

Wherever have you seen a 4 meter by 6  living room with two pianos?

Our sala.

We are keeping the old for sentimental reasons.

A family heirloom perhaps.

In Defense of a Name

Advise me but what are we talking about here?  One gets a former friend arrested because his good name was smeared.  According to him his ex-friend perjured in the courts of law and thereby affected the name his family hold dear.  As punishment for that, his friend turned nemesis might as well caress the cold steel bars we call jail.

What’s in a name?  Names has always fascinated me.  One’s name exhibits the person you are.  Angelina Jolie, for one, is the beautiful angel who comes to the rescue of children, despite her own rocky childhood.  But more often than not it is the person who creates his own persona according to his very character that we remember his name by.  Corazon Aquino will forever be the Filipino woman with a brave heart who led her nation to freedom from oppression.

Odysseus humbled himself by declaring it a privilege to live in the time of Hector, trainor of horses, and the great Greek warrior Achilles.  By doing so, we remember his name amongst the epic heroes of all time.

So, what is your name?  What have you done? Why should we revere your name when history will perhaps chronicle  your name as the one who put a friend in jail?  Unless you do something extraordinary like truly help a friend trapped in a hamartia where there is no way out, in dire need of the friendship you once offered, then your name remains just like a billion other names which will decay in the sands of time.

The Power of the Word

I called the engineering department of the local municipal government last week because  the water way in front of my house needed de-clogging.   I complained that with the rise in real property taxes we deserve a cleaner community, one with proper drainage where used water don’t accumulate and become breeding places for mosquitoes.  The city engineers responded quickly and the walk way is now underway.

My daughters had always been surprised that when I say something then it comes to be.  I call it the power of the word.  That is why I do not mutter negative things.  They might come true.

Actually,  I always tell everyone not to be afraid to talk.  It is the best way to communicate.  But one must speak clearly and quietly, desiderata style.  It is the best way to be effective.   And one must always state the truth.  It is the best way to be always right.

But truly, once the word has been spoken it has way of making things come into being.

Once when my daughter Tish was in preparatory school she was a participant in the spelling bee contest.  So I asked her to spell as many words as she can.  On the way to school an ambulance passed by and I asked her to spell the word ambulance.  But probably fed up with the drill she told me “Stop it mommy, that’s a difficult word.  The teachers will not ask that anymore.”  I said “Okay.”  When she arrived home in the afternoon I wanted to know right away how she fared in the contest.  Sadly she related how she was eliminated in the semis.  I asked her what word was given her to spell.  She said, “Ambulance, mommmy.”  Since then Tish always listened to everything I say.

In My Diary 29 April 09

Mommy called Monday and told me that daddy slipped while getting the mail.  It was sometime before she discovered him flat on his belly.  Mommy couldn’t bring him up so she ran down the road and asked for help.  Two strangers stopped to exrend a helping hand.  The truck driver carried daddy inside the house.  The skinny lady offered to call the ambulance but mommy said thanks and daddy will be all right.  Talk of cyber tech age good Samaritans, they do exist.

I was frightened of course.  I uttered the rosary prayer in no time while driving Tish and Tami to school.  I felt so sad that daddy who had such a very strong will power couldn’t rise up by himself anymore.  I begged the Blessed Mother to tuck daddy with Her blue mantle.  That will keep daddy warm and comfortable.   I also prayed that mommy be stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, and more importantly spiritually to get through all these.

Lord Jesus, cover my daddy and mommy with your most precious Blood.  Amen.

Family Feud

If there is one good thing about globalization it has distributed my relatives far enough beyond the great Pacific Ocean to the other side of the world.  Ergo, we are no longer too close for comfort.  Not that I don’t want them anymore.  But ever heard of family feud?    That holds true to us.  And sibling rivalry?  It seems we invented it.

Credit my clan though for being gracious.  At least we do not resort to scandals.   We tolerate envy and pride.  But we do not border on wrath nor revenge.  Just so to appease one’s curiosity, none of our quarrels border on the criminal.  Most of the misunderstandings result from human frailty, from one petty notion to a trifling situation, especially when it comes to religion.  How unchristian could we get!

Blood is thicker than water though.  We allow our relatives time for realization, purgation, and reconciliation.   Might take years, even decades, but  no matter how long the procession is, so the old proverb goes,  it still leads to the threshold of the church, right?  I do hope so.

So we are a family divided between two continents, Asia and America.  As time pass by you receive a 50th Wedding Anniversary program from an aunt who never gave  you a Christmas gift all your life.  The consolation there is at least you were remembered even if you very well know that the intention was to boast about the Golden Wedding celebration which my own parents could not possibly have because we are not as financially capable.  So you keep the memento because you see the photographs of the  cousins who grew up with you.  Just for old time’s sake.  In reality, you wonder if childhood  was but dream.  For the people you come to love have become distant.  And the love you believed bonded you have become cold as ice.

Once in a while you get to hear stories, some of them still condescending you even if you don’t exist in the same time and place anymore.  What can one do?  To each his own.  Life becomes complicated when you get older and older.  But to everything there is a season.   Who knows if our children and grandchildren may take it upon themselves to reunite and rediscover their roots.   After all, there is always a time for every purpose under heaven.

The Road to Emmaus

We have a new guest priest for Sunday masses.  I think he is called Fr. Mario and probably in his early 30’s.  This morning he explained to us the message of Easter according to what transpired in the road to Emmaus.

In the gospel, two disciples were walking down the road to Emmaus.  Both were downtrodden because they felt forsaken by Jesus whom they believed would be their savior.  Both were afraid because no one can save them now.

But Jesus walked with them,  although they did not realize that until much later.   Jesus listened to their apprehensions as they tell Him that He is just about the only person who does know of what happened to Jesus.  Jesus carried on with the conversation in a gentle manner.

Fr. Mario said that that episode was a lesson on hope.  Each one of us has a journey to carry on.  It does not matter how old we are nor what our status in life is.  A student must carry on with his homework.  A father must carry on with his family obligations.   However,  sometimes we fail to carry on with our responsibilities.  Then we feel downtrodden.  We feel afraid.

The fear does not stay forever.  The moment a student browses on his notes or the moment a father forewent his after work extra-curricular activities and comes home early to be with his family, then that is a sign that hope had materialized, that all will be well.

That is the promise of Easter.  All will be well.  Jesus is with us to carry on.

At the end, Jesus asked for food.  He was hungry.  And the disciples recognized Him.  All is well!

Pet Peeves

A clerk who gives you the smirk once you put her in place, as in telling her how to do her job.

A supermarket cashier who intentionally shortchanges you of your precious 5 or 10 centavo coins.  Or at the mini grocery, you get a candy instead of your 1 peso.

A security guard who gives an I don’t know Mam, I’m sorry, I’m new here or I just came from lunch I didn’t know anything about the commotion.

A politician who flashes a fancy smile and gives a lengthy template explanation on a question answerable by yes or no.

A showbiz personality who pours out the depth of his soul when all he is talking about is an alteration for his inferior buttocks.  Ditto for the female counterpart who believes the world will shrink without a skin bleach.

A parish vicar whose weekly homily begins  and ends with Generosity is in the heart.

A college coed who spares the pedestrian lane because he might smear the street design.

Chancellors who require waivers on educational excursions because the university is never responsible.

A parish priest who invites parishioners to join him on a 7 or 8 city European field trip, oops, I mean pilgrimage. Hey, look out your window, the beggars are hungry.  They are your parishioners, too.

Ladies on reality tv whose vocabulary is limited to amazing and connection.

Parents of preparatory schoolchildren who gives a litany of their child’s achievement.

A mother who reprimands her child for dropping to the #2 slot in class standing.

Mass-goers who turn the church to a venue for their latest update on community relations.

April Rain

The rainy season had come.  And it is only April.  The summer that we all looked forward to so we can dip in the pool or swim the white sand beaches  is cut short by global warming.  The seasons had changed, that is, if there are still seasons at all.

Time was, when I was in high school in the mid-70’s, I would still be wearing my sweater on a February noonday.  My academy was situated at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges, the direct path of the cold wind from the distant China.  The defrosted ice could really turn me into a popsicle.  I am completely tropical.  I can not survive the cold.

Through the years, I’d wear my fashionable maong jackets less and less.  By the late 80’s, I’d do with simple wind breakers.  The heat is on.

Albeit confusingly there were countless times when I had to battle with deadly typhoons en route my work as a teacher.

La Nina or non-stop rainfall and El Nino or absolute drought had been the new terminologies in the weather forecast.

The earth quaked devastatingly in July 1990.  Mt. Pinatubo erupted horribly in 1992.  Flood and raging mud waters had covered valleys and  central plains.  The super storm Milenyo had uprooted century-old acacia trees.  I was fascinated though by the fallen trees.  Never in my life had I seen the anus of a tree.  And with one wind strong storm I see so many.

Now it is April rain.  The dark nimbus clouds had covered my sky blue mornings.  My urban horizon is almost daily shrouded with mist and smoke.  A dire foreboding?

I pray not.

Tomorrow, I know, will be new day.

Homeowner’s Association

If  there is one thing I’m peeved about living in a subdivision, it is the homeowner’s association.  Ideally, the existence of such an association is a big help for the residents.  For one thing, the association provides open doors for new acquaintances which could later on develop into lasting friendships.  For another thing, the association becomes a center for aid for the neighborhood, security or otherwise.

However, in the decades that I spent dwelling in such subdivisions, I’ve only seen and heard and bore witness to how supposedly educated people arrogantly expose their darker side.

In my former abode, the candidates for the directorship for the board brought out their guns, summoned the barangay and the police, and installed fear amongst the women and children, and robbed everyone of peace only to prove who are the legitimate candidates.  To date, two factions still exist and both claim they are duly elected directors of the association.  Should a resident side with one party, he automatically becomes alienated to the members of the other party.  If  you are against the party that  control the water system then they will terminate your supply.  So you call  the water delivery just so you can clean your house and take a bath.  Whatever happened to the amenities that come with the real estate package.  And water is not an amenity, it is a basic human need.

The funding is a primary source of evil in these associations.  How else could it exist without the monthly dues from the residents.  The dues are supposed to finance the security guards, the office staff, the maintenance crew, and,  sigh, the endless meetings and shindigs the officers deem necessary to hold.   Sit for an hour in one of the conferences and you hear one director ask for a shot.  Would one still wonder who is paying for the bottles? And yes, before the meeting is over, the association had already been certified as the breeding place for boasting egos.  How gargantuan could these directors’ pride get?..ooops, sorry, they use prestige as the apt terminology for their status in the community.

In my current residence shame becomes me because I am not a member of the formidable association.  How can I when in our first encounter I had been requesting for a certification of non-residence for legal purposes and the association would not grant it on the basis of my not being a member.  Our house had been in existence in the vicinity for the past thirty years.    Just that it had been for lease.   My non-residence makes me a non-member.  But when I’m all done and settled, I receive a registered post from the very association who declared me not a member prodding me to pay the arrears  of the former residents, the lessees.  The dues which accumulated to several thousands because of their incompetence in collecting is being charged to me, a non-member.

Don’t get me wrong.  I may not be very friendly but I am neighborly.  I like peace to exist in a community.  I want to see the gentlemen  bond together by jogging  or by playing a tennis match in the available facilities.  And I also want to see the gentlewomen share recipes for baking lasagna  and tips for rearing children or dealing with adolescents.  Definitely I want to see the children swinging and sliding  carefree in the playground, hearing them laugh wholeheartedly with the wind on their faces.   But as I see it in the present state of affairs of the homeowner’s association, each household is to its own.

Just asking, what exactly is the legislation on the associations of private subdivisions?  And if the subdivisions are not private anymore, are residents compelled to abide to the association?

Indulge me.

Jean’s Community Service

As part of the college curriculum, the students of the University of the Philippines are required to perform a hundred hours of community service.  The coeds usually enroll on this in summer when the academic load is not much of a burden.  This takes away two weeks from the long vacation Filipino students enjoy every summer of their twelve years of formal education.

My daughter Jean is an incoming Junior at the Asian Institute of  Tourism.  She opts to do her community service this summer.  Amongst the 120 students assigned in Marikina, only Jean and a senior student called JR  get to be assigned in the drug rehabilitation department.  JR by the way comes from a prominent political Filipino family.

On the very first day of work, JR is nowhere to be found.  Jean seats by her lonesome self, tinkering with an outdated computer, trying to figure out how she can reconstruct the drug rehab organizational chart without the aid of the internet.  She informs the department chief that the task is next to impossible that her effort will be all to naught.  After half-an-hour of arguing her case to  the  middle-aged department head, she deems it wise to reformat whatever was installed in the disc.  As she does this, one drug patient chooses to express his remorse out loud and cries in the vernacular “Panginoon, patawarin mo ako” which translates in English “Lord, forgive me.”  Initially when Jean hears the anguish which sounds like a sincere purgation of the soul, Jean says “Wow!”  But after three hours of hearing the same lamentation, Jean swears she will never work in such an office.   Add to that the unfriendliness of the staff who perhaps doubt the presence of superior grey cells between her ears.  At the end of the day, she stands by her argument that the needed research can easily be done with the proper tools.  Her sentiment blows with the wind.

After eight grueling hours of pathetic work, Jean does not look forward to another day at the rehab office.  She secretly wishes to be reassigned to a more pleasurable place.  But seeing JR coming early for the day makes a difference.  At least she would not be alone.  So I drop her off by the parking lot and she treads the pathway to the office.

It had not been twenty minutes when Jean calls and asks me to fetch her.  She tells me that JR simply said that there is only one computer and the department head responded with “Okay, you can do the research at home where there is access to the internet but you have to submit it by Thursday next week.”  Jean tells me “Ma, that was what I was complaining about the whole day yesterday, to no avail.”

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