In My Diary 24 April 2010

Today is Uncle Tony’s birth anniversary. He would have been 77 years old.  But I didn’t get to lay flowers nor light candles in the cemetery.  Yet Uncle Tony is always in the heart.

Joel Perez, our youngest cousin, is 28 years old.  He has his own flat, his own car and a girlfriend.  I had not seen him probably in 15 years.  And all this time he dwells just a city away. Had I known, I would have invited him in our family gatherings. Saw him today because Ate Grace had to send some antibiotics and efficascent oil to mommy.

I had my hair cut real short.  It is so hot.


When I was little, I was fascinated by countries called Greenland, Iceland, Finland, Netherlands, Poland, and what else?  I thought Greenland was green but was amused when I learned it was the home of the eskimos who lived in igloos. I thought Iceland was filled with ice and was glad when I was correct.  Finland, well my imagination stretched a little bit and believed that the people there bore fins in their bodies.  And the Netherlands, well I thought the country was deep in the underworld.  And Poland was pulled into the opposite poles!. . . But that was a long time ago.  And the Miss Universe contests showed me how very much the same people are except for the color of their skin.  But as one gets older and outgrows the fascination for skin deep pageants, and learn that there are more importan things in life than yelling the name of one’s country, one tends to forget maps and infos and what not. Poland became important once when JPII was named pope in ’78.

But this week, Iceland was in the news.  Its 2000 year dormant volcano erupted hard and put a halt on the airline industry.  Ground zero!  A volcano , the name of which I can’t remember, suddenly put a stop on Europe’s busyness and America’s  mad rush.  Like a flick of a wand, everybody came to a standstill.  Animation freeze!  Wow, what a sight.

But that’s the point.  Iceland lived up to its name.  By spitting the boiling earth, Iceland deep froze the people and allowed them to stay still and see the slow and simple existence of what life should be.  All of a sudden, a father was playing poker with his children at the airport. A bit inconvenient but at least there was bonding. And people are seeing people, like they were surprised that there are interesting ordinary beings around.  Coerced, yes, but it was a surprising sight realizing that there are as many silly creatures scurrying on terminals as if there is no tomorrow.  Just to find out that they could pause for a moment and enjoy the today, with similar homo sapiens as silly as they are, ha ha!

Why Life Begins at 40!

Fr. Christopher Gonzalez, or simply Fr. Tope, a visiting priest, had this to say.

Life begins at 40 because everyone is in need of second chances. Life begins at 40 because this is the time to think about the regrets which one would like to rectify. Life begins at 40 because by this age, one would have known what is at stake with life and thereby knows how to proceed with it.

By way of analogy, Fr. Tope related the story of Simon Peter, the erstwhile apostle who denied Jesus 3 times. It would not have been so devastating if Peter was low key.  But no, he was at the forefront of Jesus’ preaching life. He was the next buddy.  He was there during the multiplication of bread and fish.  He was there during the roughwaves of the sea.  He was there at the transfiguration. He was at the Last Supper.  He was even there at the garden of Gethsemane when Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus.  But lo!  When asked if he was with Jesus’ ministry, he denied Him three times.

That is what is ultimately regrettable in life.  To have known and believed but allow cowardice to prevail. And many of us do this.  That is why we commit mistakes which are seemingly perceived unforgivable.

But second chances are given us to redeem ourselves from those surmountable mistakes.  Like Peter, Jesus appeared a third time after the resurrection.  This time He asked Peter Do you love me? When Peter said yes, Jesus replied Feed my lamb. Then He asked again Do you love me? When Peter answered yes, Jesus said Tend my lamb. Then He asked a third time Do you love me? Peter was hurt because Jesus must know how much he loved Him.  But he said yes again.  And Jesus told him Feed my sheep.

That is the way with God, he gives us so many second chances.  He allows us to realize our regrets and rectify our errors.  That is why when one is blessed enough to reach the age of 40, one must already have discernment.  Life becomes more relaxed and happy.

Life begins anew!

In My Diary 15 April 2010 or Summer 2010

Summer school started last Tuesday and Tish counted exactly 24 whole days to learn BioChem, lecture and laboratory.  Piano had really taken a backseat, but Tish run her fingers on the ivory keys whenever she can. The target is both the NMAT and the recital in December.  If she does well in both, then that’s the bull’s eye.

Jean had been lacking sleep, so she says.  But I believe she is just getting the travel lag from her PICC stint. Manila, after all, is an air polluted city.  She felt the freshness of  the valley when we crossed the hi-way from Katipunan. Learning to be a  train toughie.   Marvelling at the wide world interacting in her practicum office – reservations department. Applying make-up and wearing panty hose. Slowly becoming a cosmopolitan girl, tsk tsk!  But she seems to be enjoying her training.  And she becomes talkative when she is ultra tired.

Pet Peeves

Remember the time when in grade school almost everyone wants someone to  fill in the spaces in their autograph books? Well, back then, I always resort to wracking my grey cells about what to write on the line that says pet peeves.  I couldn’t  think of something that I hate most in a person.

But not anymore!  Probably that autograph thing pushed me to see through people.  And I seem to have the sense to know whether one is good or bad, just by appearance alone, or by some data given me about a situation pertaining to that person.  I can put two and two together and come up with a sound judgment.

Now I know what to inscribe as a pet peeve.  I would write bully. A bully is someone who condescends another in various ways.

And the other day, whilst I was enlisting my Jean for her practicum, I chanced upon the college assessor nowhere in his post while I was there for the assessment of fees.  His officemate tried to tell me some excuse that he has business somewhere in the campus.   Too late, he had already told my daughter Tish, who was supposed to be doing the enlisting,  that the assessor went out to get his food.  That is why I was enraged.  It was a good solid one hour before lunch! That is why I stormed the office.  And to pin more nails in the coffin, he said that the assessor was waiting for students but when no one came, he left for the main campus. Bull!  I said I was not taking that excuse.  And he answered “Nothing could be done but wait.” Bull again! I said that I was taking the matter to the dean.  But as it happened, the dean was in a faculty meeting, deliberaion of graduating students.

Then the assessor  C2 Something showed up half an hour or so after.  And when I stood by his desk, he was telling me that assessing was not his only job.  He had other jobs as well.  Bull!  As far as I was concerned, the assessor must be there to assess the students’ fees.  And he was not there.  Who cares about his other jobs? But I did not dignify his excuses with responses.  I had decided to take him up to higher authority.

Then I learned later on that it was his practice to disappear from 11 to 2.  And when students complain, he would just say Kayo naman, lunch!

Ain’t that bullying the students?  Imagine these students having to walk two kilometers and up a footbridge under the searing sun and when they get to his office he was out for lunch! Where is the kindness in that?  I was told one student gave way to exhaustion and just cried uncontrollably last year. The assessor was lunching.

The Heat of Summer

The summer heat had been tipping the temperature gauge.  The new day’s record keeps surpassing the previous day’s.  The dams had dried up.  If this continues,  the water distribution would most likely turn to rationing. I do hope it does not come to that.

Many people had suffered from heatstroke.  The radio broadcast had reported some fatalities.  Even Kris Aquino, Noynoy Aquino’s youngest sister, experienced faintness after walking three hours to shake hands with the poorer constituents in Quezon City. And as the El Nino phenomenon persists, so does the election fever which is on the homestretch for the May 10 polls.

The campaign had heated up.  In Antipolo, some incumbent supporters had opened gunfires with the mayoralty challenger and his team, or so they say. Shucks!  Of all the campaign strategies, this is the foulest.  The candidates seem to believe they can fool the people by staging violence and get sympathy.  No siree!  Not anymore. The Filipino voters had emerged.

Except when I hear survey results saying the senate reelectionist from Cavite is topping the winning slate.  Gosh, the poor still see him as an idol not knowing his legislative performance is as grandiose only as a sex scandal can get.

But I myself, am in a tremendous dilemma about who to vote.  I actually do not know the personages of those seeking elective positions.  That is why I am feeling a bit uncomfortable now.  I have 30 days to study and weigh these people.  The heat of summer is making me queasy.  Oh well!

My Birth Province

If Charles Dickens was a Filipino, he would have enjoyed living in my birth province called Cavite.  He would have had plenty of materials for his novels.

Officially, Cavite is the birthplace of Philippine independence and home to a thousand and one heroes and martyrs.  Historically, Cavite had been host to many a convention for freedom and the cite for struggle of the secret societies fighting for Filipino dignity as a people.  Recently, Cavite had gained international fame when its own son by the name of Efren Penaflorida was declared CNN hero of the year.  So what did Efren do be distinguished highly in the pedestal of the world stage? Literally, he peddled education to the gang oriented youth in his neighborhood.  With a pushcart loaded with school paraphernalia, he would stop someplace  where siga-siga boys hang out and improvise a makeshift classroom and teach.  And what did he get in return?  So long as those he taught had caught the discipline and the knowledge and the ripple effect had taken place, then he had as much been paid.  The CNN citation was an unforeseen bonus.  But it was a very much welcome bonus because it was an affirmation that his work was on the right track. And the prize money was much needed for more supplies like paper and pencil.  And of course, books.

What more could Charles Dickens want for a setting?  Cavite is rich with stories from the fisherfolks.  The land, the sea, and the people are one. The fishermen set out early, before dawn, to catch the fish.  The women, accompanied by the children, wait up at the beach with large banyera ( huge basin) for the catch.  Some they sell in the marketplace, some they sun dry or oven cook as daing at tinapa (salted or steamed fish).  Some they take home for family meals such as pinais or paksiw or sinigang.

Cavite is also full of tales from the farmers who tended the pineapple fields and the mango orchards.  And the unusually cold climate surrounding the famous but tiny volcano called Taal sort of made every angle seem correct for a powerful story.  Love story, adventure, action, name it, Cavite is set for it.

Once, not too long ago, the names of Tiagong Akyat (James the robber) and Nardong Putik  (Leonard the mud avenger) had been  household bywords.   So was the heroic Pepeng Agimat (Joseph with the amulet) .  Protagonist or not, these characters instill fear and hero worship amongst the common folks.  The people hail bravery and courage. An innate trait.

As of late, rumor has it that the belleaguered senator Panfilo Lacson, implicated for a decade-old double murder case, is just hiding in the rugged terrains of Cavite.  This is the safest hideout, so they say, because a fellow Caviteno would never squeal.  An inborn trait.

I do visit Cavite annually, not because I really want to, but because it is my obligation to pay the taxes.  I have, long ago, adjudged myself as  the uncaring child of this province.  Why so?  I find the drinking water rather salty.  Then there is the matter of fish smell in the air.  And the ordinary folks are as ordinary as they can get.   Young and old mumbo-jumbo in front of their homes at around 5 in the afternoon.  And their eyes follow you long after your shadow had already disappeared. And they would talk to you, too, and tell you your family tree. You cannot show disinterestedness.  That is offensive.  And the people has the capacity to remember faces and events way back to times best forgotten.

So I did make my yearly pilgrimage to Cavite day before yesterday.  Nothing much changed in the infrastructure nor the people. The vicinity where the munisipyo is located is still packed with vendors, tricycles, jeepneys, and drivers.  There is not a corner that hasn’t been turned into a male urinal.  And the foul odor pervades the air. A kanto boy disguises himself as a parking attendant.  The 5 peso tip is good enough for a couple of cigarette sticks, I guess.  And my daughter, whom I coerced to accompany me, was as disgusted as she can be. But  I cautioned her not to put a face.  Good or bad, the ordinary people make the world livelier for each one of us.

My Tita Luning and cousin Mike received us in our ancestral home.  The humble abode had become smaller through the years.  Or perhaps we had grown bigger and had taken for granted the once familiar things.  On fleeting glances, I noticed how every nook and corner had been kept clean and tidy.  Our conversations had delved on the personal and the political, aside from the skirmish or intrigue or gossip about some  kin.  No matter the differences in opinions, we did ROFL  and LOL about some silly thing.  But the pain and the longing is in the heart.  Cousin Junjun had decided to make the faraway Zamboanga his home.  Cavite had been the home of his growing up.  But not anymore.

And so perhaps did my parents who now reside in Los Angeles, miles and miles across the Pacific. And my aunties and cousins who had found some better abodes in alien lands.

My travels back to my birth province bring back beautiful memories mixed with sadness.  Sometimes, when I look at the waters, I remember my Uncle Tony who take in deep sighs at the sight of the blue horizon.  I remember my grandmother Lola Naty, too, who nary said a sad story.  She kept it all in her heart.

Perhaps Cavite would one day shine in glory again.  As of now, I know that my dad would never see it again.  But Cavite had been his springboard to life.  And my mom’s, too.  And my Uncle Tony’s.  Ad my Lola Naty’s.  And my cousin Junjun’s.  And because I was born in Cavite. it is my springboard to life, too.

Too bad Charles Dickens never knew the Philippines.  David Copperfield could have had more exciting adventures.

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