State of the Family

Funny Janet Jackson is saying Michael Jackson is family.  By virtue of being sister and brother, that must be true. Blood siblings, no doubt about it.  But America better assess what family means.   Am glad the new first family in the White House is showing a picture of a father and a mother and two young daughters knit together, bound by unconditional love and genuine admiration for each other, dwelling under one roof.  Pray it stays that way forever.  Not necessarily in the Washington D.C. residence, of course.

The haunting stance that the families of the generations past contend bidding children to leave home when they turn eighteen had definitely divided the family.  Many children had set forth far from their parents to build their own abodes.  Interstate distance had made bonding almost impossible.  New offspring barely have an idea of what uncles and aunties and cousins meant.  Grandpa and grandma are probably just like Santa and Mrs. Claus who come and visit once a year.   Whereas if the relatives live just around the corner or down the block or at a nearby subdivision, people would have more birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate.  The babies could share toys, the adolescents could go to the same school and have the same friends, the young professionals, kin though they may be, can put weekend gimmicks, shoot pictures and make a clan album that could live to posterity.  Young in-laws could even form a moral support group, especially when someone is birthing or child rearing.  When one has a confidante all within the family, there would be no need for a thousand dollar therapy nor a day care center.  Having family delivers all the help necessary.  And when one has grown gray and old, the fear of being alone with strangers in a nursing home would not be a problem.  A son could always push the wheelchair for early morning breezy walks and a daughter could prepare that warm oatmeal for breakfast.

As it is the Americans had taken pride on their own individual achievement.  A huge home at the other side of the mainland, a utility vehicle and a car sporting the garage, a swimming pool that costs a hundred dollars for cleaning, a respectable job downtown, and lots of credit cards.  How often would you see brothers driving in a van to work?  Or sisters dropping their toddlers to kindergarten school?  Very rarely.  How often would you see an aged father fishing with his son and grandson?  Remains a wishful image… The family had gone astray.

If celebrities could be good examples, at least we see Julia Roberts and her sister and her niece focusing on each other’s interests.  In England, there is also the matter of Prince William seeking out the adventure his younger brother Prince Harry had experienced, allows us to have a glimpse of a close camaraderie of blood brothers.  Their mother must be smiling down upon them.

Had Michael Jackson been with his family, he would not have died skin and bones.  Somebody could have given him a cracker to crunch when he was exhausted from rehearsals.   He said he would be there if someone needs him,  just call his name.  Pity no one was there when he was calling in pain.

Time to redefine priorities, America.  The family is crumbling.

In My Diary 29 June 2009

The wild winds had left.  The morning sky had been azure with streaks of strong pink, a sign of a good weather days ahead.  I am not able to complete the restructuring of my promenade.  The sun had been penetrating.  The girls too, had demanded much time for several activities they had to attend to.  This morning, Tish would go on her first assembly of the Philippine Medical Honors Society or PMHS.  She received her invitation a week ago and had been extra excited because many were denied membership.  The alumni, doctors now in their own respective fields, screen the applicants.  The applicants have one year to prove their worth.  That was the challenge Tish had been so excited about.  Pray she makes it.

Jean also had been busy visiting hotels and convention centers.  Her class had been tasked to prepare for an exposition showcasing Marikina as a prime city.  An entourage from Mindanao will come by semester’s end.

Yours truly had been the erstwhile chauffer.  The stopovers at the fastfood and the copying center had been my itenerary.  Glad for the sudoku puzzle that kept me company in those hourlong waits.  And yes, I started walking again.

Ico Was Home

Francis Allain Garcia, my nephew 2nd degree, surprised us with a visit all the way from Vancouver.   We had a long lunch at Cabalen MegaMall, courtesy of Ninang Bay.  When somebody comes home from a faraway land, he must be treated with a sumptuous feast.  And Ico, who had left for Canada with his entire family in ’03, received just that.

Ico was 17 when he left.  He had just started college.  Now at almost 24 by July4, he had been an urban planner in his adopted country.  He has his own Toyota Corolla and drives half hour to work everyday.  He becomes the good son and doting uncle on Fridays and treats his parents and 4 year old niece Sophie to traditional Philippine bulalo for supper at a restaurant.

Now Ico was home for a brief visit.  His two week itenerary included Batangas, Sagada, and Palawan.  The wanderlust to see the entirety his home country had lingered.  He had travelled to so many provinces in his teens, the beaches of Boracay being the foremost.  He just had to come back and see more.

The lunch time he spared for us was more than enough to rekindle blood ties.  In a way, seeing him again after six years makes one believe that it was just yesterday that you last saw each other.  The Tagalog was the same, the mannerisms were the same, the humility was all accounted for.  It was just that overnight he turned into a man, all hunky instead of lanky.

When the baby you once carried in your arms had grown and had set out into the world to make a life of his own, one couldn’t help but be happy and grateful.  Glad you came home, Ico.

Farrah Fawcett.

Farrah Fawcett’s demise had long been coming.  She was diagnosed with anal cancer two and a half years back.  She had put a desperate effort to keep alive and overcome an illness that weakened the body and the spirit.  She had fought a good fight.  But mortality prevailed.

Farrah Fawcett had been an icon of glamour and sweetness.  Every girl had wanted to have similar wavy locks that made her every boy’s pin-up poster girl in the 70’s.  She had also inspired every ordinary nobody in that time and age  that fame and success can be achieved.   Farrah Fawcett’s angelic image had been an inspiration.

Yet Ryan O’Neal had not been all right when her passing had finally come.  Ryan had been her life partner, her true love.  In a way all of us couldn’t be all right.  When someone we had admired had been taken away, life just couldn’t be the way it was.  Farrah Fawcett contributed to the redefining of television viewing in the 70’s.  She also redefined our way of living.

Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson died today.  He was 50.

I was one of those million people who said What did you say? My daughter received the news via text message.  She told me it was probably a joke.  I said No No That is something you don’t joke about. If that is the case then he must be dead.  I uttered a little prayer Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, May he rest in peace, Amen.

I switched on the television for the noontime news the moment I got home six hours later.   True enough there was a footage about the King of Pop and his Thriller MTV. People had started to gather outside the hospital in Los Angeles where the doctors tried a futile effort to revive him.   But he had been gone.   At a nearby establishment,  Michael Jackson’s music played.

A certain sadness.  Michael Jackson had made his mark.  He had embedded his ingenuity and artistry in his music and his craft.  He had given the world a distinctly MJ show, trademark  not patented.   Thus the world followed suit and copied his move.  No one can claim originality, Michael Jackson alone has that honor.

Farewell to the man who had given a life so all the world would be entertained.  Farewell to Michael Jackson who wanted to dwell in Neverland but the world never allowed him to.   Godspeed, may you find light shining bright as you well deserved.

A Golden Anniversary

First time I attended a Golden Wedding Anniversary celebration.   Not many couples ever get to last that long. Laarni and her siblings  made sure that their parents be given due recognition for their fifty years of married life.   How else could children fittingly return to their parents the favor of rearing them up and standing by their side through thick and thin.   With families of their own and with two children residing in faraway California, the planning to gather each and every member of the family had not been easy.   For the parents  who made their lives glorious and wise,  the obstacles were easily overcome.

The renewal of vows was affirmed at an old, simple church called San Antonio de Padua in the semi-barrotic outskirts of Antipolo.   The aisle was adorned with white and gold African daisies and ribbons.  The choir sung love songs.  The entourage presupposed the whole family, Laarni being the matron of honor.  The groom was dashing in his traditional barong tagalog and the bride resplendent in her elegantly designed and rose-filled balintawak terno in soft gold. The mass ritual was solemn and the scenario spelled the beauty of an enduring love, tested and proven by the passage of years…

The grand feast was served at the Seven Suites Hotel Observatory located at the stretch of Sumulong Highway, overlooking the metropolis.  After the photo shoots and the sumptuous dinner, the grandchildren serenaded their grandparents.  They performed on a makeshift bridge with the view of the glimmering city lights as a backdrop.  The children introduced their families to the guests and expressed their words of gratitude to the two people God had given them to be their parents.  After one emotional moment from the youngest of the brood Jing, the band shifted the mood to a dancing mode.  The groom waltzed with his bride, and the children followed suit, Laarni and Louie, Lissa and Alex, Dennis and Vina, exchanging partners as they swayed on the dance floor.  After Lissa demonstrated her dancing prowess with a swing and a boogie, the generation XYZ claimed the dance floor with their own version of disco hip-hop.  The band played on, a happy way of marking this milestone for Apolinar and Dolores Merto, two simple and unassuming people who had shown to the world that love indeed conquers all.

In My Diary 20 June 2009

Director Jon Skelly of the US Veterans Affairs sent an e-mail apologizing for the untoward telephone conversation conducted by a VA representative and the misinformation intentionally given to me about the processing of the Equity Bill claims.  He also said that he will personally attend to my father’s case.    Gratitude was in order so I replied with acceptance on my part.   Daddy and mommy will be happy now that the lump sum is under way.  It had a long time coming.  It matters now with health impediments costing every cent saved…

Jean and Tish shifted instantly from vacation’s carefree mode to serious scholastic undertakings.  The two were bombarded with diagnostic tests and graded recitations within the first forty-eight hours of the semester.  The teachers couldn’t care less if the campus is being battered with heavy rains and that dreaded swine flu.  The syllabuses had been set, so the learning begins.  The students just have to focus on the lessons at hand.  At the UP, they say, it is difficult to get in but it is even more difficult to get out.  The only way to accomplish that is to study hard.

The books are very expensive.  Campbell’s Biology costs PhP4000.  Tish settled for a newsprint copy for PhP895.   The text may be the same but the photographs and illustrations in color matter in the study.  Instructions like …look at the diagram, the circles shaded in teal and blue show that…. would be easier to comprehend if seen in the original.   University Physics is at PhP795, Chemistry is PhP1500, Tourism and Travel at PhP495, some five manuals at no less than 200 each.  So we had been dining on adobong sitaw at piniritong bangus.  The books are important.

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