Work in progress Pinay

growing in good time

Mountain rice and muscovado sugar

late afternoon of mid January

Wherever she is in her journey after life here on Earth, she reaches out with a generous and loving hand to me through these gifts.

Surreal.  Weird.  To receive gifts from a friend already dead, physically.  But ultimately touched me to my soul.

Muscovado sugar and black rice.  I have in the past been a happy receiver of cooked black rice, a veggie dish and one other ulam, when I’d visit her and Au (and Sir Pons) in their office…at PSSC and later at Sct. Castor.

Oh Emma.  You are so sweet even when you are no longer around here!  But in my mind-heart, you are still the excited-delighted-warm yet at the same time  dedma countenanced friend of mine.

You warm my heart with this last gesture of a giving heart.  Naalala mo pa kami in the midst of your extreme pain na mga nagplanong bumisita sa yo sa Abra.

I feel so very blessed to have known someone like you who loved me, us your friends-coworkers,  exquisitely, especially while you lived.

I suppose I should stop writing pieces such as these for loved departed ones like you.

I suppose I need to start writing gratitude pieces to those who meaningfully connect with me while they still walk this Earth.

Salamat sa lesson, Em.  GOD bless you as you continue to journey towards the light.  You are safe.

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Thankful for any reason

New Year’s Day

Nakakatuwa (my Ilonggo background wants to say “nakakatawa”, sometimes I am not able to distinguish subtle differences in similar sounding words) because the priest presider at this morning’s mass at the Shrine of Jesus the Divine Word speaks in a singing voice and the one-man choir sings in a speaking way.

I am so amused, delighted really.  Kakatuwa kakatawa.

I consciously released my judgment of the bemoustached priest’s way of speaking having experienced several times in the past that my not so good first impressions have been proved unjustified.

I am glad I opened myself to how the eucharistic mass will unfold as I thoroughly loved his homily that “There is always a reason to be thankful.”

He related the story of a poor man who went to church to offer his thanks to God.  He was mocked by a man, most probably better off than him, “Hah, what are you in church for?  What are you going to thank God for?  Ah, I  know, you’re going to ask God to give you shoes!”

The shoeless man replied he came to thank the Lord because he has feet.

Another man came, sitting on a wheelchair, and the man who mocked the poor man, said about the new arrival, “Now look, is this man in a wheelchair come to church to thank God for his feet? But he has no feet!”

The poor man replied (reading the new one’s mind presumably), “The man came to thank God he has no worries about tying any shoes.”

Me and my pewmate, a foreigner nun chuckled at that, getting the lesson hopefully at the same time.

While I am not endorsing poverty nor staying poor (in fact I am for making efforts at changing one’s status if that no longer satisfies or if one realizes one can do better, much better), yes, I do need to recognize and be thankful for what I already have…and start getting better from there.

Back to the church and this time the solo singer…

I thought earlier he was just singing in a different key that’s why I couldn’t harmonize my singing with him.

People, especially women older than me (or so I think) are looking up at the loft where the choir positions in taka (like they’re saying “Ano ba yan?  Ayusin mo naman.”) with a smile that’s a bit mocking or mildly censuring.

He just kept singing so I sang with him then later let him go (esp when he sang so very fast like he has an appointment he is hurrying to after mass)  and went on singing in my own way, which lightened my heart as I accepted he has to sing his way and me mine.

Then it dawned on me, this guy may be singing off key 70% of the time but he’s here!  Maybe he had only 2-3 hours sleep.  He’s young!  He may have partied the new year in.  He’s here and leading the singing.  Singing for everyone.  Giving it, most times, his very best.  Singing with passion even if off key or too fast, he seems to be glorifying God as he sings his lungs out.

I guess we standing by the pews on ground level were being called to practice right there and then the main message of the mass…Find a reason to be thankful.

I thank you young man.  I love your dedication, your courage to sing no matter that you are off key quite a number of times, and your passion to keep going in spite of looks from middle-aged women.  Hahaha!

Happy peaceful and prosperous 2014!  Salamat, a New Year is here!!!

Noeme the Ebullient

before midnight of 14 nov 2013

“oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God,” was all I could keep muttering.

Noeme, my friend, one of several women IFP (International Fellowships Program) alumni I have great admiration and much fondness for, is one of the statistics in the 10,000+ dead in Leyte.  should it be a comfort that she died together with her parents?

I am truly shocked even as a few days ago I texted the number I have of her to ask how she/they is/are…isip ko pa nasa Samar sya pero that was her workplace.  She has gone back home to her parents in Leyte to, among other things, more directly experience their love for her.  Yeah after years of, from my point of view, focusing on her work in Samar (and some years before that studies in the UK) and other priorities.

I admired her decision to come to roost in her parents’ nest.  For how many have thought of going home to bask in, soak up on the love and attention of their parents, planned it, but never got around to doing it?

She went home to them and let their love embrace her, cocoon her as she let certain of her brokenness be put together again.

About a week before Yolanda, we connected on Facebook as I commented on the photos she posted showing the vegetables she planted, the ornamental plants she cared for. ..that are starting to confidently grow and leaf …the veggies specially.  The flowering ornamentals she cultivated looked wonderful, dazzling in their simple plant-ness.  Joy jumping out in those rather ordinary photos made extraordinary by the sobrang galak of the picture-taker, the proud midwife of the simple beauties, Noeme.

We exchanged comments on her timeline.  I can feel she was back to her happy self, or at least clearly she was on the mend, to well-and-joy-being.

Noeme should have been named Joy because even as I think of her knowing she has passed on from Earth I see her smiling.  Not the super barangisi I am known for but plain smiling with teeth barely showing but her being exuding great ebullience.

Dear Noeme I thank you.  I was blessed by having connected with you in the brief meaningful times we interacted latter part of your lifetime.  Have a marvelous trip back to our real home.

 

My Ate

10 October 2013

12 midnight now and I remember Ate whose birthday is today.

I wished I had posted earlier on Facebook  “Today is Ate Marites’ birthday.  She would have turned 54 but instead stopped having birthdays since 2000.  I remember her now on her special day…that she was most appreciated, most admired, most longed for when she was ‘no more’ on Earth.”

Our eldest.  She who has, since a child (or so she told me when we were already adults), borne the mainly emotional responsibility of looking after us her younger brothers and sisters, even while Tatay and Nanay were still alive.  For she took seriously what Nanay, orphaned of her mother when she was in Grade 4, told her to do.  That if she (Nanay) dies early, Ate should take good care of us so that we children would not scatter among our relatives like she experienced when her mother died suddenly and her father remarried.

Ate, we thought you were just enjoying being strict with us, taking the fun out of our carefree lives with the discipline you were instilling in us, the responsibility you were, we didn’t know, bending over backwards for us to take on, the sigasig you were modeling so we would not have a hard time later on in life.

You had LOVED us but we saw mostly strictness, hard lessons, seriousness.

Later just a few years before you left us, your LOVE shone through and you let us BE.  When we didn’t follow as you instructed even when you repeated this several times, ikaw na mismo gumagawa.  And it melted my heart, especially as I thought of it on hindsight as I sobbed in your bed in your room which became mine after you’d left.

Wala kang katulad my dear Ate Marites.  You who so lovingly and attentively brought me for the first time to attend a pranic healing seminar in a hotel in Manila and it was Master Choa Kok Sui himself who taught us that several hours of night time.

Thank you for these and for infinite other love-sourced gifts from you.  I love you.

Joy in the ordinary

night of 19 August, eve of two days of waswas ulan

The trouble with not blogging for some time is I feel this urge to come up with something really meaningful, inspiring or profound.  But I know that when I am trapped in that mode that as certain as I am sitting here with my legs propped on the seat of another chair, I am not going to achieve any such thing.

Gotta write about what is then.  The monsoon rains, here it is upon us.  Last time it made its very felt presence was almost a year ago when tandang-tanda ko pa I decided to play it safe and spend the night in Antipolo, in my infrequently used boarding house several blocks away from the preschool where I assistant-taught.  I didn’t want to brave the hard driving, 45 degree slanting rains to go all the way home to Quezon City.

Naah.  For my choice, I got my first taste of floodwaters going, uninvited, inside the house where I was in.

I wonder what this year’s monsoons will bring?  Earlier I saw on a facebook post (no TV nor radio in the house, the former by choice, the latter because I haven’t gotten around to getting a transistor radio) that some parts of Metro Manila are flooded.  Bless, dear God, the affected ones with what they most need at this time.

In this part of the metro, the creek, whose waters have gone up a bit but not in alarming levels, alternates sounding far off in its rushing with one that’s high volume in its incessant whooshing.

The in-my-ears quite loud rushing flow of the creekwaters sometimes makes me think it still rains hard when a quick peek out of the front window reveals it has thinned down to a drizzle even as, past the asphalt road, down below, the white-foamed waters continue to vigorously tumble down.

Maybe I need to pay more attention.  So to clearly distinguish, without looking out the window, totoong heavy downpour from quickly rushing creekwaters.  Also to know when it is both.

It is calm now.  Broader-line drizzles, most likely, judging from the infrequent pitter patter on the iron roof of this, yeah, rickety but trusty house I call home.  There is a semi-distant rush to the water.

All is well.  Healing today several people I promised to heal which I had postponed for some time is sending reverberations of joy to my being.  Also, overcoming my resistance to do something that has to be done work-wise, gives me an enduring inner smile.  Such great blessings!!!  Salamat.

Snaky encounter

A pail of water on one hand and a tabo on the other, I march back to the main pathway intent on whooshing down the sick whitish ragged leaves of the dying kalamansi tree which continue to bear fruit in spite of its condition.

When my eyes catch sight of a snake.

I must have looked away quickly, too afraid it is true.  I become aware of my gaze returning to it, as I hold my breath.  It is long, about two meters, biggish in its middle part, very light brown on its upper body which my eyes dwell on.

A snake. A snake!

Transient male cat, temporarily taking hostage of some space and food just around the house is looking at it intently.

Lying beside the row of  tall vari-colored leafed plants on the rectangular plant box lining the side of the house, Sawa stays motionless yet very alert.

Then it moves.  Towards the direction of the gate, I realize belatedly.

I take a deep breath.

I let go of all fear, I hear myself mentally say.

Go! Go on your way, I say to the creature gliding on the ground.

Cat still gazes at it.  Interesadong-interesado, to put it mildly.

Sawa slithers toward my door, then reverses its direction.  Several times it looks up, rears up its head, standing with its upper body as if it wants to go for my farther up kitchen window.

No! I mentally protest.

Cat, grows very still, eyes fixed on the unannounced visitor it now has almost within clawing distance, then gets ready to strike!

Sawa rears its head and upper body up slowly, assertively.  Khisss! I could almost hear its warning.

Miao retreats a bit.

I start splashing water on the plants nearest me, not knowing what to do.  Di na ako nakarating sa kalamansi, a thought bubble surfaces.

A snake! How scary-wonderful to see there’s still a “natural” creature around the house, and this grown!

Sawa once again slowly purposefully moves towards the direction of the gate.  Slither, slide, unfurling itself on the soil.

It rears up its head, inquiringly to my door.  No! I say silently, some panicky feeling welling up.

Sawa slides to the one concrete step in front of my closed door.  Then stops, unable to move.

Miaos, two of them now, look on in earnest.

Mindful to keep her safe, I shoo away Meng, the kitty-come-lately who I regularly feed.  Transient barako cat can fend for himself.   I sprinkle some water towards Meng.   She runs away reluctantly.  It is more exciting to be near the spectacle, I know.

Go,  if you want to go for the road, I say again to the slithering one.  Yet I shudder at the prospect of it being hacked to death by “well-meaning” adult male and boy neighbors, as has often happened when its kind gets discovered in our creekside street.

Oh just go.  Be safe.  Stay alive.

It turns to the right and some more.  Sawa, I realize, is now facing me directly.

Oh you want to be in the shade of plants, I communicated telepathically, thinking I understand what it needs.

Uh-oh, I can’t be in your way!

Moving several quick steps away, up a higher level to the front of the lot, I then run inside the house through the other door and quickly peep through the windows, feeling fearful more that I am farther yet not wanting to miss the unfolding scene outside.

I catch sight of Sawa already near the kalamansi tree.  Wow, that’s nice, it wants to climb!  That would look good in a photo, I heard my documentor-trigger happy self rearing its photo-opper head.

But it only passes by the thin tree body.  It goes for the low concrete wall nearby with its sturdy spine straight up, moving towards the left, and on to the cliff of a concrete wall overlooking the small stream below.

Oh you are so bright!  (Of course you are!) Homing to your own turf!

Transient cat, I notice, still looks on.  Me, too, at the wonder of a has made me feel honored visit of one lovely, all along living out there, growing, courageous, no nonsense snake.

Black swans I remember

I remember black swans —

feathers, wings askew,

not hipid but in excitement,

or maybe

at attention because of the cold,

in a pond

of a park

near the village for the elderly.

They sit, one, two or three of them

in the water,

casual in being impressive.

I know swans as if I have real experience

with them.  White swans.  But black ones?

Yet here they are

in their majestic beauty and ballerina stance,

tantalizingly near,

and not going away soon either.

But I can’t linger long.

I am the one going for I have got

to move

or else freeze.

* Remembering an afternoon of gloomy skies when I dropped by a nature park after hours spent volunteering in a hospital for the elderly in New Zealand years ago.

Note:

I wrote the above inspired by reading late last year an account by Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo of her trip to Cambridge, England.

Greta face to face

two weeks ago I jotted this down as I sat in the vicinity of the Greenbelt chapel waiting for my business partner

Curious how I laid eyes on one of the hottest local showbiz celebrities an hour ago.

Gretchen Barretto.

Coming from Ayala MRT, I was striding with ease and a bit of speed towards Glorietta.  I was looking around, sa taas, eye level, sa malayo-layo as is my usual way when walking in places where I know there’s little chance I’d meet anyone I know, when my eyes homed in on a white face.

I looked and kept at it till it registered “Kilala ko to.”  It is Gretchen Barretto!

Of all people to see, the laman of intrigues, gossip and paghalukay ng buhay that is the stuff  Philippine showbiz is made of.

Thing is, she also, kept on looking at me…until I looked away.  Haha! Big deal.

She may have been riveted to my eyes-face because it registered wala-lang tingin to recognition then a bit of surprise.  My everyday life intersected with that of a well-known personality who is both defended and maligned in media.

She looked smaller, slimmer than I thought.  Her face had the same stunned, immovable look to it I noticed in her TV and print images.

A vulnerability about her, too.

She was with a tall young lady (her daughter?), a man or two (bodyguards?) as they await their car, I suppose.

Walking past their group, I got a full view of her back.  Pale color skin face to bare legs.  Hair in ponytail, body clad in pastel fitted at the waist summer dress.  Quite ordinary save for the mestiza looks and simple but affluent get up.  Quite human.  And again, a bit of defenselessness.

Curious.  Because earlier in the day I was healed with a friend during the holy mass, the meditation on the breath, the rosary praying and actual healing by Fr. Momoy at the Our Lady of Pentecost church.

Is it possible it was the light which I radiated from all my morning activities which Greta saw?  Could be.  She needed healing after all.  As I do.  As we all do to keep going.

Di pang-Korea

“Baba na,” driver of the bus says.  Our bus a lane away from stairs leading to Buendia MRT station

Youngish, in checked polo and jeans guy standing by the bus door, umakmang bababa… but didn’t.

“Baba na!” driver becoming impatient.

Guy probably inwardly wanted to go down but kept his body still.  Not a moment too soon a lumbering swiftly going overtaking bus slid by ours, a few inches  away.

“Hindi sya pwede bumaba,” me to driver.

Frustrated driver tells guy “Duon ka!” referring to a place a bit further along EDSA more secure to go down in.

At entrance to Forbes Park bus slows down.  Guy finally goes down.

Driver speaking to conductor who had come up from back of the bus, forcefully muttered something with “Bakla” in it.

Silence.

Driver repeats his statement though with less heat.

Conductor obviously unwilling to judge says, “Wala pang asawa yun, p’re” to mean that’s why he’s not so daring to jump out of ill-positioned buses in superhighways?

Driver tries a different tack “Di sya pwede sa airborne.”

“Ano yun?” my idol conductor admitted to cluelessness.

“Di sya pang Korea.”

Laughter, relief, warm-feeling by conductor shared by driver fill front part of bus contaminating us seated there.

“Pang Sabah sya,” conductor adds.  More mirth swishing about. I join them in releasing the guy who only wanted to be given a chance to live more time here on Earth.

Driver and conductor talk of threat of war between North and South Korea.  Conductor ruefully mentions that when it erupts “Magbo-volunteer tayo dun” sounding like it is out of his hands though I may be wrong and he actually welcomes the dangerous excitement war brings to some.

From the heart expanding joy of moments before my heart starts to feel constricted.

Lord God, kindly mercifully bless countries in conflict.  So with people and the selves within us.  Amen.

Rediscovering Love and Kisses Pizza in Iloilo

Iloilo City

I was quite happy when recently, discussing with a friend, I recalled how yummy and soul-filling the pizza Nanay used to buy for me at Hoskyn’s Compound (in the inner part of corner Guanco and J.M. Basa Streets) in Iloilo City was. photo3215

But that pizza place is not there anymore, has been so for some years already.

Maya said there is still one on the side of Atrium Mall. Also one beside San Ag (University of San Agustin).  Another at Nelly’s Garden in Jaro, the lady attendant in Atrium informed me.  Seeing my blank face, she clarified, “Sa atubang sang Benito, Maam.”  It is in front of the former Don Benito Hospital which is now named West Visayas State University Hospital, my brother Pogie updated me.

I went to the first mentioned store as soon as I could.  The two attendants on the outlet only store, not one to eat in unlike the other two stores for there were no chairs nor tables, seemed not too engaging.  I vaguely remember that the attendants in the original Hoskyn’s store were not exactly a smiling lot also though very efficient and moved quickly as they served their seemingly never-diminishing customers.

What I distinctly remember is that the pizza I ate as a kid and as a teen at Love and Kisses was quite tasty.  So yummy I wished Nanay was not so firm in buying me just a slice of it downed with a bottle of very cold Coke during the not-exactly-frequent times we would go there.

My body remembered its soulful goodness even more so after Maya enumerated their various other yummy offerings now which she had tasted—pancit, burger, a particular pizza flavor the name of which escape me at the moment.

What is your top bestseller? I asked the lady attendant in Ilonggo.  “Loverboy,” (or was it Lovergirl?) she replied.  I looked at the ingredients in the menu and it has meat.  I asked which of the bestsellers does not have “karne” (meat) in it and she said “Angel” something so I ordered a slice of that.  She seemed to quietly expect me to buy more, a plate maybe.  I want to taste it first, I answered her unexpressed expectation, really intent was I on recapturing the loved taste in my fading memory, at the same time a bit afraid I’d be disappointed.

About 15 minutes later my pizza slice was off the oven.  It called to me.  My excitement was dampened when I sighted on top of the thin crust loaded with their tomato-based sauce covered with more than enough cheese…thinly-sliced mushrooms and two small squares of sliced ham!  So much for no karne!

I quietly reminded the two attendants I had asked for pizza without meat.  They paused, uncertain.

But I was in a good mood and somewhat beyond my exacting customer past.  Oh just remove the ham topping, I quickly decided, thinking I erred in not checking the ingredients myself in the menu right under my nose.  It is possible that to them sliced ham and other cold cuts do not fall under the “karne” or “meat” category.

I can just stand and eat by the shorter side of the two open sides of the small outlet store, I thought.  But my preferred side is being used by other customers to look at the menu (taped on the counter near the cash register), order for their choice food item and hand in their payment.photo3216

The lady attendant, still somewhat distant yet with beginning warmth also showing, said yes I can sit and eat just inside the few meters away glass-walled air-conditioned space between the street and the mall’s doors.  I sat in the middle part of the minute-pebble-topped concrete longbench, behind which are green plants looking a bit lanta so must be real.  Not bad for my instant “dining area”.

I bit into my still-hot pizza.  The cheese is seeking attention even as  it blended nicely with the tomato sauce base of the pie. I brushed aside the unbidden thought that it probably does not really taste good and I am merely remembering what I delighted in as a kid.

Whatever.

I just gave myself to the moment.  I chomped on the pie some more, enjoying it all, the memory of my childhood one-slice, the present morsel in my mouth which I felt did not disappoint at all.

People coming out and entering the mall looked at me interestedly.  I surmise they see this gal, middle-aged with some youthfulness (haha!), relishing what she’s eating, yeah, pizza.   Some had their faces, beings hinting at a smile.  If there were frowns of disapproval, it did not register in my selective radar.

I am happy with my test slice.  Maybe some of the smiles I caught were knowing ones.  It is most probable, they have also tasted Love and Kisses, too.

Later, done with what I set out to do in the city proper, I felt like bringing pasalubong to the people in my brother’s home (it is also my home when I am in Iloilo for it is my father, mother, brothers and sisters’, too, our home for decades especially while we children grew up) in Baryu.

At SM Delgado, I idled around considering options.  Pizza Hut—I don’t know where its store is in the City Proper.  Shakey’s—I already got a whole pie, cheese flavor, thin crust variety, earlier on in my homecoming and it proved good-tasting but bitin for the boys at home even with yummy potato chips on the side.

I wanted something which would charge me less for good-tasting food. I headed back to Atrium. Love and Kisses here I come.  photo3218

Standing this time on the longer of the two side-counters, I ordered a plate of the lowest-priced of their pizzas, Happy.  It is “ham and cheese” the warming up to me more attendants told me.  What the heck, the children will hopefully love it.  Not pricey nor cheap at P220 a plate.

My grandnieces, Tintin, 7, and Kaka, 6, also in the house, were not pizza lovers, I found out.  Chino and Coycoy, my two nephews, my companions during recent-years’ trips to Pizza Hut in SM City after which they would play games at the basement, needless to say, love pizza.

Chino wanted more slices of Love and Kisses.  He got his wish as two slices have been freed up by my grandnieces’ no-to-pizza stance (I can’t understand this).

When Coycoy arrived from school, I told him that aside from his share he gets one-half more slice, too.  (Don’t ask me why.)  He ended up having his father’s share as well. It was from him that the highest praise for my pasalubong came.

Without being asked, he matter-of-factly said once in between munches, “Mas namit pa sa Pizza Hut.”  (It’s better tasting than Pizza Hut.)  Of course, his much-welcome comment came moments after I excitedly sang praises for my take home goodie.

And the legend of the yummy-tasting Love and Kisses Pizza lives on.photo3212

PS.  The photos were taken at a subsequent visit to the store and the attendants especially the lady have thoroughly warmed up to this inquisitive customer.  (The guy food handler is different from the one during my first time there.)  She volunteered I take a photo of the container of pizza, too.  Salamat, girl.  On my first visit, she and the guy, in their 20s, were amused when I told them the store they are serving has been in existence “wala pa kamo mabata” (before you were born).

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