Saturday, October 6, 2012

# 59 in His time.........

in all of us, there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage -- to know who we are and where we came from.     -alex haley, roots

she was adorable. everybody's darling. at 3, she aced every singing contest she joined. she was a natural performer. she took to the stage as a runner would to a track or a swimmer to a pool. at 4, she was famous. fifty years ago, when a child from a very distant, sleepy town in bohol is brought to manila to perform on stage with big-name stars, that spells stardom. with a capital S.  at 6, she was gone. brought across the oceans to distant shores. very distant shores.

her story was passed on, a staple at family get-togethers. famous young cousin, whereabouts unknown.   at our young age, that was hard to comprehend.  what was she like? why is she lost? how can she get lost? so many questions. no answers.

he searched for her. nothing more gut-wrenching than a parent waiting for a child's return. days turned into months. months rolled into years. years dragged on to several more years. always holding on to hope when all hope was gone.  clinging on to a memory that had sadly become but a blur through the years. an old man's heart so consumed with the loss of a child.  pining till his last breath. a woeful unspoken cry silenced forever.  never to be heard again.

 a single black and white picture was the only remembrance the family had of the little girl who captured the hearts of many yet unknowingly broke their own.

the clan's family tree is documented in a book that highlighted the grand gathering in 2009. the online version of the book paved the way for a long-overdue reunion that spanned decades and miles.

her father was desperate.  time was not on his side.  he wrote a letter that her family sent to as many people as they could reach with a prayer that somehow it would find its way to her. daunting task at a time when social networking was unheard of. 

it was almost theatrical.  a search on the internet two years ago brought her to the family book. a stab to her heart when she could not find her name under her father's family tree. nor her mother's name.  hurting, she did not bother to turn any more pages. fast forward to the present. her daughter comes across a repost of the real father's letter, surprisingly, in a humor blog. the daughter feels a connection. she goes back to the family book and turns more pages. she had to look. her mother should be there somewhere. indeed, she was! under the family tree of the father's twin.  a friend request on facebook to a newly-discovered sister. no accompanying message, just a request.  an american-sounding surname explains the sister's momentary hesitation to accept. 'are you filipina?', she asks. so it came to be that all pieces of the 50-year old puzzle started to come together.  pieces frayed but never forgotten through the years.

she is home. she has found her roots. 50 years is a long time but family knows no distance nor time. while the internet played a major role in the unfolding drama, it had more to do with keeping the faith. believing that He writes the script. He directs it, too. God's hand at work it was.

in His time, He makes all things beautiful.  in His time, He makes things happen. bringing her home to family where she truly belongs is as beautiful as a thing of real beauty could be.  as wondrous as only His hand at work could be.  isn't that most awesome?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

# 58 second chances...

his name translates to fire. merriam-webster defines it as the phenomenon of combustion.  a destructive burning.

growing up in a big clan that gathered at the ancestral home in the summer, he always stood out for his looks, quiet ways and mild manners.  his was a face meant to be noticed. that finely chiseled nose and pleasant, smiling face.  if talent searches and reality shows with premium on good looks were a fad way back, he could have had a shot at it.  could have broken a good number of young hearts.  he could have had a normal, drama-free transition from boyhood to adulthood.  could have finished school and have a decent job.  

if not for that ruthless menace of society that took the better of him and poisoned him to the core of his being,  he could have. might have been peer pressure. might have been escape. might have been the fire in his soul. it did not matter if he was a user or a dealer. it was still the same dead-end he faced. the physical transformation was alarming;  his downward spiral a dismal sight to witness. he wore his hair long. his movie star looks all but gone. face gaunt, dark circles around the eyes. hair uncombed. devil may care attitude that comes with the substance. came as no surprise when the long arm of the law finally caught up with him. found himself behind bars, momentarily at first. a taste of freedom soon after only to be back behind bars once again. twelve years this time for something not entirely his doing. at the national penitentiary in manila, no less. 

his mother's heart was broken. she went on with her life but something was missing. she smiled an empty smile.  a mother yearning for her son. she never stopped taking care of him.  whatever money came her way she would save to send to him.  in her sunset years, she waited for his return.

on may 31 of this year, he regained his freedom.  from manila, he flew right back to bohol to be with his mother.  never has his mother's smile been more real and full of warmth.  her son is back.  her life is complete once again. 

he is home.  he has aged beyond his years. had his hair been white, he could easily pass as his mother's sibling separated by a mere couple of years.  it will be a slow process but he will be able to stand on his feet again. it will be a struggle to steer clear of temptations. the demons will haunt and taunt him. he has promised to stay clean, a promise his mom hangs on to.

everyone deserves a second chance.  he deserves one.  second chances.....isn't that awesome?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

# 57 original miracle baby!

for those who trust and believe, a miracle is God's hand at work.

when a much-awaited bundle of joy makes her long-overdue entrance into this world, it is God's hand at work, absolutely and unquestionably so!  the story of our original miracle baby preceded this previously posted miracle story by four years. plot is the same - years of waiting, intervention of science, intercession of prayers. stir everything together and you have an only child borne out of intense yearning and pure faith.  today, our original miracle baby turns twelve.

as with all the younger grand kids, popsie did not live long enough to be with gugud. he would be happy to know that his excellent analytical skills and penchant for hammering away with arguments has been passed on to her. she will make a great lawyer, this kid.  there is no loophole she will not pick on to gain the upper hand. boon to whom she takes up the cudgels for. woe to whom bad fortune has befallen just by standing on the other side of the court.  given a couple more decades, gugud will handily face-off with the toughest of trial lawyers.
a great sense of direction is a gift. stress buster in the least. time saving and cost-effective at best. you either have it or you don't.  gugud has that gift.  comes in handy with a directionally-challenged family. no GPS device is needed when she is around.  armed with an inner GPS on default mode, she can weave her way through busy city streets or whip through the countless confusing corners of a mall.

sudoku is a number puzzle. like any other puzzle, you either get it or you don't. this local daily hosts a sudoku challenge for its readers to take part in. gugud was up to the challenge early on.  this sharpened her command of the numbers and the logic needed to ace the puzzles. recently, she represented her school to  an inter-school sudoku competition.  topped it, too.  way to go, champ! 

you either have it for running or you don't.  gugud  must have applied some insect repellent to shoo away the running bug that has bitten everyone else. no early morning wake up call for this kid.  except for  this one and only  run. only because it was a late afternoon run.  but never again.  i hear her say let's talk chess instead.

text promos and raffles follow the same either-or rule. either have all the luck or none at all.  you can fill out a hundred stubs of raffle tickets or send a thousand text answers. your provider would be richer by a thousand like they need another thousand to add to their coffers while you come up with a goose egg - zero, zilch, nada! pays to have lady luck by your side. gugud sends in several entries to this advertised text promo. some fair warning that she has considerably racked up her cellphone bill is given. lady luck promptly rewards with a brand new smartphone.

happy, happy birthday, my dear gugud!! i love you, gud. the miracle of your birth is truly God's hand at work. you continue to amaze us with your inquisitive mind and instinctive resolve. your powerhouse arguments, too.  enjoy being a kid. go slow. do not be in a hurry. the teen years can wait.  carry on with those explorations that bring you close to wonders that so incessantly beguile the mind of the nature-lover and young scientist that you are.  while other sports may fail to interest you, build up those smart calculating board moves that dare the instinct of the budding chess master that you are.  challenge yourself to greater heights, as high and mighty as those dizzying gigantic rollercoaster monsters that you so fearlessly get a kick out of. in everything that you do, remember that, as in a game of chess, 'checkmate' may not always be yours to deliver. it's okay to lose sometimes.  you can always arrange the pieces and start all over again.  just like the game. 

with the teen years an arm's length away, a kid enjoys the homestretch of the kid years.  isn't that awesome?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

# 56 of pearls and middle age woes

silver.  pearl.  coral.  ruby.  sapphire.  gold.  this is how dear old mater distinguishes jubilarians. silver is twenty-five. thirty is pearl. coral is thirty-five. and so on. counted in terms of years after graduation from high school. 

silver.  check.  pearl.  check.  coral.  three years away from now. that is where we are.  do the math.  it takes just but a few seconds to know that we have had forty-odd years of life.  to be more exact, we are in the vicinity of middle age.  no one acts like it, much less look like it. we have will and grace. not the comedy show of not too long ago. the will to defy the ravages of time. the grace to face it with stubbornness, if not mirth.

batchmates get together for pocket reunions in between grand alumnae homecomings.  reasons vary.  someone comes home from foreign shores. birthdays.  milestones.  christmas.  all the happy reasons.  inevitably, the sad ones, too. these reunions seesaw in attendance from full-force to smaller intimate gatherings. any which way,  a grand time is enjoyed by all. a well-deserved break from the realities of middle age to relive the carefree high schools days.

the last get-together was of the small, intimate kind. by the time tea was served, everyone was ready for after-dinner talk.  updates on children, domestic affairs, vacations, disclosure of medical woes.  retirement got mentioned a lot, too.  

the flames of this fiery choco mousse is a cue to the evening's steamy revelations. the censored version without the raunchy details was enough to keep everyone riveted to their seats. 

yes, that is hot chocolate and no, we are not showing our age by ordering that instead of the more adventurous options on the menu.  we are, after all, working professionals with eight-to-five jobs out on a weekday.

let the hands do the talking.  any get-together is not complete without the spotlight on someone's love story. could be the unfolding of a brand-new romance or a rehash of last year's fairty tale.  chapter 1 of the story was ho-hum. lacking in tickle-to-the-bone factor. not a surprise as it happened some 25 years ago. 

 chapter 2 provided the oh-my-God-that-couldn't-be-true-shocker-of- the-night gasp.  the punch would have been enough to knock pacquiao down and out. chapter 3 was a love story so sweet, it would make the  ants troop to our table. 

 synchronized elbows on the table could only mean intense fascination with and absorption of the juicy details of middle age romance. the it-is-written-in-the-stars-i-can-wait-forever-fit-for-telenovela kind of romance.  ah, the joys of middle age!

back in high school, the batch was grouped by sections. four for each level. everything and anything was done by sections. from the first year to the senior year. it followed that friendships were developed by sections. rare was the bond that was formed outside of it.  over the years after graduation, sections dissolved. the whole batch is now just collectively known as HS8O.  

it is hard to notice the clock tick away when one is having fun.  a minute longer at the dessert place and the ladies behind the counter would have shooed us away. good times with old friends while cameras click away to capture those special moments.  isn't that awesome? 

Friday, January 20, 2012

# 55 fuel food!!!

fuel:  any material burned to supply heat or power
food : nourishment taken into the body
fuel food : nourishment to supply power to the body

when the road ahead is long (as in a procession, see previous post), well-meaning street entrepeneurs peddle food (with  jacked-up prices, naturally) to fuel the body. lest the kids feign hunger-induced wooziness and bolt from the line, several pit stops are mapped out to partake of the varied options on display.  food carts are visible every hundred meters along the whole stretch of the route.

 sweet corn on a cob a-boiling while you wait is a crowd drawer.  a brush of melting butter makes eating it quite a mess but its natural sweetness is a come-on.  

the kids had to stop several times for their favorite munchie -- peanuts!  the bike-mounted showcase had peanuts of different varieties - salted, coated, spicy or sweet.  they each get a teeny-weenie brown bag of their peanuts of choice.

this heart-shaped hanging oddity is locally known as pusô,  literal translationheart.  coconut leaves are weaved; rice grains are poured into an opening and cooked in the usual way rice is cooked. not far from the puso, one will most likely find an array of of the local version of the barbecue.  

what better excuse to ease the weary feet than a brief stopover for a snack.  isn't that awesome?

Monday, January 16, 2012

# 54 viva pit senyor!!!

Senyor is Senyor Sto. Niño, patron saint of cebu. 

in a predominantly catholic country such as ours, the patron saint is the most revered figure.  over the weekend, the city of cebu celebrated the feast of the Sto. Niño with the annual observance of the sinulog festival. amidst chants of 'pit senyor' and 'viva senyor', the crowd took to the streets with merrymaking reaching fever pitch. while some may argue that the feast has become a convenient excuse for commercialism, the solemnity of some traditions is not lost on the faithful believers. the procession held on the day before the grand parade is one tradition that continues to uphold the sanctity of the feast. on this day, the image is brought out from the church and carried around major thoroughfares for all to see.

this year's procession route covered 6.8 kilometers. any other time, the kids would have balked at that distance.  they managed to do it without any complaint at all.

perfect weather (clear skies, no blazing sun) prevailed as close to two million people paid homage to the Sto. Niño.  

tradition calls for offering candles for personal intentions.  just outside the Sto. Niño church, large tin cans are lined up for people to lay their candles on.

balloons in fiesta colors (red, white and yellow) are released as the image of the Sto. Niño atop a flower-bedecked float passes by.

one of many Sto. Niño-laden altars along the procession route.  this one had fruit and flower offerings.  other altars had elaborate decorations while some were beautiful in simple trimmings.  the images came in different sizes.

this photo taken by a professional photographer captures the multitude of devotees with hands outstretched in praise and glory (photo by a. suralta).

it is hard for people outside the faith to fully comprehend the profound devotion to the Sto. Niño.  it was already dark when His image passed by where we were. everyone greeted him wholeheartedly heedless of the long wait.

that one day when alienation is unknown; the city is one in its faith.  viva pit senyor!!   isn't that awesome?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

# 53 baby turned big sister!!

truly wonderful the mind of a child is, says yoda of all-time favorite star wars.

very true especially when the kid is in no hurry to grow up. our wawa is in no hurry. she basks in over-indulgence always accorded the youngest in the family.  she has always been referred to as the baby. never mind if she has become too big and too heavy to carry. close to nine years, wawa held that title. held on to it until the newborn baby made her grand entrance and claimed the title.  a few hours after the baby's birth, wawa wrote in her diary - 'i am not the youngest anymore.' not grudgingly but tenderly.  in no time, she switched roles from being the baby to big sister with  enthusiasm. our baby-turned-big sister is nine years old today.

the most affectionate of the brood, she would cuddle up and hug and sit on the lap. she relishes playtime with her dolls and toys as much as her electronic gadgets. her enthusiasm is not exclusive to her new big sister role. it also aptly describes her toy collectibles that she has amassed through the years. for a time, it was her pokemon figurines. now it is her littlest pet shop collection.  if she continues collecting at the rate she is doing now, she will have to give up her bed space for her toys. of late, she has assigned herself as the family's newscaster. she would watch the early evening news and  broadcast the latest happening at the dinner table.  

wawa has had a keen interest in the arts very early on. it was no surprise that during her graduation from kindergarten, she was named the most promising artist of  her batch.  i am holding on to her early works; it would be worth a fortune someday.

yangi and gugud would tease wawa no end, annoy her to tears and order her around but they love her enough to give her the princess treatment in the pool.

postcard-pretty picture of wawa as she goes fishing

mamam would have been amused with wawa's antics. mamam would have been proud of wawa's school achievements, too.  unfortunately, they both did not have the chance to know each other as wawa came into this world seven months after mamam's passing.   she is not lacking in mamam and popsie stories, though.
happy birthday, my dear wawa. i love you. you will always be my baby. nurture your passion for the arts. someday, my walls will be filled with your masterpieces and my heart will burst with pride each time i look at them. sustain that ever-questioning mind and discover the world outside.  it may not be all pretty and fair but it's okay.  treasure your toy collections. continue collecting even when you have reached adulthood. by that time, you will have to buy the toys yourself. you might just earn a guinness record for your collection.  

truly wonderful the mind of a child in no hurry to grow up. .. isn't that awesome?