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 snowflakes.

The event I look forward to this time of the year is my wordpress snowflakes. I am delighted with the scene on my page. Makes me feel the Christmas warmth yet to come, and I wish for my miracle.

Advent is a time of waiting. It is also a time of soul searching for me. The girls are bonafide professionals, serving the country and the people the best ways they know.

I am left home with my melancholic meditations. The garden is therapy for me, especially when the flowers bloom and the butterflies come to kiss.

But lest I become a bonafide recluse, my daughters bring me out to eat, or in this picture, to watch a musical. I love drama. If I wasn’t a teacher then, perhaps I’d been a playwright. Wow. That was then. Not now.

A brief moment to get together and party.

BUSY. These days, there ain’t no time for making memories. There is too much work to attend to. My daughters, being young professionals, are caught in that whirlwind of a world. Jean said that when she comes home to our humble abode in the outskirts of the metro, it is like relaxing in the province, where the sound of silence is distracted only by the ¬†chirping of the birds and the barking of our doggies. And Tish, how she sprawls on the bed and catch up on the much-needed sleep.

Rush Rush has been my daughters ways of life for a long time now. And we believe we have become anti-socials, declining invitations, simply because of time conflicting with hospital duty and disaster planning conferences.

Oh well, this Sunday was different, for we actually made is to a nostalgic party, my friend’s mother celebrated her 95th birthday. Splendid shindig. Befitted a lovely lady who gracefully raised her ten children. Wow.

And so, I prodded the waiter to snap a picture of my daughters and me. For the memories of a brief moment together.

On the eighth day of Christmas, a rant.

Dear backdoor neighbor who blasted all his fireworks towards my house. You must be sleeping soundly right now after all the irresponsible revelry you made last night, and I know, after all these years, that that comes with the thought that I’d pick on your mess by morning, which, I surmise, that you must be getting triply rich, judging from the number of sticks I have to bend over and collect. That’s all right. Vengeance is yours after I reminded you not to put barbed wires on your fence, because it is against the city ordinance. And the two times I asked baranggay to tell you to tone down the noise, because it was already midnight, and my children were studying for exams. Exams is a serious matter for us. After that, I was like that guy in the tv ad, I just have to endure your out-of-tune singing, and hoped you would treat me to a burger. Last night though was terrifying. I woke up like my house was on fire. But what can I do? I cannot curtail your merriment by shouting out the window to beg you to blow your bombs in your front yard. Just kept a prayer my house sustain your bombardment, And this morning, after a gasp at the state of my garden, I have to breathe in and condition my mind for some peace. It is New Year’s Day, after all. I am leaving fate to karma. Telling you though that one person you deprived sleep with is on duty today at the ER. And that couldn’t possibly be good karma. So, I checked my cp for a good image that would bring serenity to us all. And this blue tree popped. Christmas Season ends today, the eighth day of Christmas. Here’s to a blessed 2016. May neighbors be kind and congenial.

Joining the Selfie World

Time was, pictures were extravagant. A negative roll of 36 is costly. People have to prepare to look their best for a single shot.

This age, there’s a burst of shots for a single image, one has to choose from some 36 shots to get the best, and then photo shop later.

Photos come, not necessarily cheap, but, quick.

Here’s one candid moment, on my daughter’s birthday, She received a bouquet of roses from an admirer, and I owned it.

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Jean, Tish and me!

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Iron Man Three

Photo: Malou B. Escalona, that sweet and generous and sexy lady my cousin Bong had the luck of marrying (such a marvelous blessing, huh), treated us to a grand opening day screening of Iron Man 3. So there we were, Audrey and Julia, Jean and Tish, Malou and I, with our cheesy pop corns, French Fries with dips, hotdogs and serenity teas (and C2), all eyes agape, lest we miss something in the transformation of Tony Starks from a self-indulgent billionaire/playboy/philanthropist to an Iron Man with a real heart. The prototype Mack 42 was destroyed in the end, as Tony was left with no option but to ask Jarvis to detonate it, because his nemesis (can't quite remember the name, but it was the true Mandarin) took him, Tony, to the next high level action. That's all you gonna get from this spoiler. Go watch it. THANKS Malou, it was a great fun night! I love sitting beside Audrey, she perceived the plot and varied characters quick and easy. :) Like I always say, when you want your children to learn many things, just take them to the movie theaters and give them some pop corn. :)

Malou, that sweet and generous and sexy lady my cousin Bong had the luck of marrying (such a marvelous blessing, huh), treated us to a grand opening day screening of Iron Man 3. So there we were, Audrey and Julia, Jean and Tish,Malou and I, with our cheesy pop corns, French Fries with dips, hotdogs and serenity teas (and C2), all eyes agape, lest we miss something in the transformation of Tony Starks from a self-indulgent billionaire/playboy/philanthropist to an Iron Man with a real heart. The prototype Mack 42 was destroyed in the end, as Tony was left with no option but to ask Jarvis to detonate it, because his nemesis (can’t quite remember the name, but it was the true Mandarin) took him, Tony, to the next high level action. That’s all you gonna get from this spoiler. Go watch it. THANKS Malou, it was a great fun night! I love sitting beside Audrey, she perceived the plot and varied characters quick and easy. ūüôā Like I always say, when you want your children to learn many things, just take them to the movie theaters and give them some pop corn. ūüôā

Monte Maria

I had so many blessings to thank the Almighty for, and I know that those blessings would not have come my way had I not invoked the help of the Blessed Mother.  Despite my multiple misgivings, Mama Mary had seen to it that all my prayers be granted. Gradually, blessings came, one after the other, and all I had to do was to utter 3 Hail Mary, or when I am troubled, the Memorare.

And so I insisted that by way of thanking God and His handmaid, the Legion of Mary CEO, we Рthat means Praesidium Mirror of Justice and I Рgo on a pilgrimage to Monte Maria. It was, after all, time for summer function. The members, mostly college girls, needed that bonding and breathing, or simply a real good break from everyday routine. The girls had been very devout to  the Legion, heeding to the commands of the Blessed Mother even if the tasks given them conflict with their personal schedules. Student life is totally pressurized, but the girls dutifully commit their Sunday mornings to weekly meetings and rendering Catechism to the marginalized children of the community. They know that there is a lot of more work to be done but for now, they had to deliver only what they can offer.

But when I mentioned Monte Maria, their eyebrows raised!  They only saved PhP700 bucks for their summer leisure! A pilgrimage would simply be a dream. But I urged them to activate their resources without mentioning that Mama Mary makes all things possible. The Legion of Mary can never solicit nor accept any donation, but by the end of the meeting, the girls had transport and food for the trip.

And so Monte Maria, here they come!

But what is Monte Maria? And why do many people set on this pilgrimage when two or three years ago, it was probably never heard of. ¬†Google can answer the basic facts…. but here is what we discovered…

The pilgrimage to Monte Maria subtly subjects the pilgrims to a misty, modern miracle!  This simply means: we got LOST!

Okay, google was not clear what road to take, nor what province was Monte Maria located. So we groped our way, asking locals which way was it to Monte Maria… but in the process of stopping and asking , we saw the mist over ¬†Taal Volcano, the world’s tiniest volcano which lies in the heart of a lake, and right then and there, everyone can feel the mighty power of God, guiding us through our journey…which, at the end of the day, I really literally said, what a journey it had been…

We did reach Monte Maria. It was situated some two kilometers after Alfonso Cavite, so technically, the real property tax goes to this province. But the cliff seemed perched on the borderline of Batangas, because I believe we are just a ferry boat to the island of Mindoro. And when I asked a youth volunteer where we were exactly, he told me a tale about Calle Ruega being so beautiful that I forgot what my original query was…

And so, I had my hot arroz caldo, although the caldo was just a bone and there was a hard boiled egg in exchange for the chicken… while the girls posed for picture mementos. The sun seemed to be hiding somewhere because although it was a bright morning, the rays were nowhere to be seen.

We arrived sometime after seven, just as the rest of the pilgrims were beginning to arrive. Probably, every other soul was surprised as I was because the Shrine was invisible to the naked eye! And before I forget, I must write that that Exupery adage is true, it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, for what is essential is invisible to the eye!

But as I said, the girls had fun capturing ¬†some scenery, especially the flowers, most likely a present day version of Mary’s flower garden. And after I had my bowl of hot arroz and egg, and after I had that enchanting chat with the youth volunteer, I also posed for my pictures. By the way, by way of calming me down, the youth volunteer expressly said that no matter the volume of rain nor the howling of the winds, it does not flood in Monte Maria, and all we ever get is the passing of the gentle breeze… That, of course, gave me a thought… a thought that the answer of which was just about to unfold….

So we got lost, and I enjoyed the mist, and I couldn’t see the Shrine, and wondered where the sun was…can anything yet be more marvelous? ¬†Read on….

The girls and I decided to occupy the aisle seats, so we can have a better view of the altar. We already learned from the youth volunteer that Fr. Fernando Suarez, the now famous healing priest, would not celebrate the mass. He is in France, most likely healing the French! They probably need him more. ūüôā

As the mass started, I let out a sigh as I looked far into the horizon. The pine trees line up the distant mountain top, and I said to myself, what a view! ¬†And the slopes of flowers to my right, what a surrounding I would always wish to be in… And then minutes after that thought, from out of the blue, the heavy rain poured. The pine trees vanished and a white wall occupied its space. I looked to my right, I can see the green slope but no way can anyone pass that way…! ¬†We were isolated from the world.

So I listened to the homily. The priest was asking the faithful from where they came…Someone said from La Union. Another said Palawan. Two said Mindanao… The priest did not say anything about the downpour, as if it did not exist. The downpour, amazingly, was not deafening, because I could hear my daughter whispering Move Ma, the rain is dripping on you! ¬† There was obviously a hole on the roof, but it was so tiny it was only dripping on me. But I love the feel of drops so I let the raindrops roll on my hair…

And before I knew it, the mass was over, and the drops that was pouring down my skin was already the¬†agua bendita. The priest was blessing us graciously. I looked again into the horizon. The pines were vividly aligned on the mountain top. Where did the rain go? All of a sudden, it stopped!, as if it did not drop at all.¬†But all I said was Thank You, Father, and the priest administering the blessing answered You’re Welcome!, ¬†as he made his return route to the altar.

The rest of the trip was a joyful one. I realized that we passed by a long, narrow, winding and rolling road from Sta Rosa exit, a concealed highway where pineapples grow and simple folks dwell. We stopped at Mang Inasal and ate grilled chicken for lunch. We also stopped by Collete’s delicacies and bought Buko Pie. Julie said that we had spare money for dessert and she bought a real large peanut panutsa. It was gone before we were home, ha ha!

Here are my photos…and the young girls with me are Elaine, Maki, Jean, Julie, Bam and Gwen…

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