Friday, January 18, 2019
Now that I am back in the country, I have not really been idle. I have produced two oil paintings and several watercolors. True to my original intention, I have been painting and sometimes did some writing. So the options are still there. Unfortunately,, to my regret, while I have been painting and writing, I have not been doing these religiously as I should have been. Part of my routine is to go to the gym, exercise and try to stay fit. However, this makes me very tired to go to the apartment/stiidio and paint. I only manage to paint at least two hours everyday as a consequence of having to go to the gym first. This prompted me to reverse my schedule and work first in the morning then go to the gym around 5. This scheme did not, however, improved my painting time. I manage to wale up at around 5 am, walk my dog, Dookie, and sit if front of the tv. Sitting in front of the television is not a good idea. I lose track of the time and before I know it, it is already 10 am. This gives me only about an hour to paint as I have to go home and eat lunch. Thereafter, I take a rest and sit in front to the television and lose track of time once more. I manage to leave at around 3 pm and stop at around 5 pm as I have to take a bath and go to the gym. This had been my habit and I am not happy. I remember my friend, painter/sculptor, Omi Reyes, saying that he works eight hours a day, just like as if he was working for a company.
While musing in front of the tv, I begin to realize I miss having a regular job. I miss having to wake up early in the morning, dress up and drive to school. Ironically, I miss the steady doldrums. of being an employee, the predictable day to day routine. I miss being with young students, vibrant, innocent and mischievous. I miss my friends terribly, our useless banters, exchanges of opinions and nonsensical idle talk. Most of all, I miss earning money for myself. I miss receiving wages that make me afford to buy whatever I like.
It is for these reasons that I would like to once again enjoy being in the classroom even for only a short time. How I wish I could do these things once more. But then I know if God does not want me to that anymore, it will not happen. Maybe there is a greater thing waiting for me. Maybe the Art world is waiting for me. That would not be a bad turn out for after all, it was originally what I wanted from the very start.
Saturday, December 15, 2018
A peculiar trait she had, being an Ilocana, was her penchant for vegetables and the stingy way a dish of left over fried fish shall find its way to a new recipe of bagoong and vegetables. Practically every meal time was accompanied with a long litany of promoting the consumption of vegetables more than of meat - for long life, she would say, and I believe her now! Not so many people have been blessed with a life lived until their 90's.
We always celebrated her birthday with a bang. My brother-in-law, Abet, would design t-shirts that bore a design testifying how we adored her. Designs like We Love Lola would be worn during the party or sometimes to the point of having a theme like being dressed up in Hawaiian clothes or bearing the Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears.
On December 9, 2018, we were gathered at her hospital room which the children decorated to perk up that depressing place with her feeding on tubes and being aided by an oxygen tank to breathe . We sang happy birthday, ate cake and prayed the rosary to her withering body, her feet locked and crumped as if she wanted to be small and enter the womb again - a process of rebirth, I guess. She turned 95 years old.
The following day, as we were about to go with our daily routines, my eldest sister, Linda, who was with her, called and told us that the doctors discovered that her heartbeat was weakening and that her BP was dropping. She was told to call the relatives as the time for her to leave the world is at hand. We all rushed to the hospital and true enough, she expired. The time of death was 10:25 am having succumbed to infection in her blood. We all bade her goodbye for the last time.
I have had close encounters with Alzheimer's disease. My first encounter was with my mother who passed away in 2006 at the age of 87. Just recently, my mother-in-law had the same affliction. Alzheimer's disease is commonly associated with old age although there are cases of younger people having it. It is a progressive disease where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but in its later stage, the afflicted individual loses the ability to carry on a conversation and respond appropriately to the environment.
Such a clinical definition does not capture the essence of the disease and what it does to both the sufferer and the loved ones. It does not capture the extreme disappointments experienced by everybody involved. The despondency becomes lighter with the afflicted person coming up with many funny situations but the pain of not being able to communicate with a loved one just like before becomes painful when one realizes that the person is no longer the same.
I have a more positive take on the affliction, though. Having seen this natural phenomenon first hand, I am beginning to believe that it is a coping mechanism, an anesthesia if you would, that drives away the pain of knowing that one is at the final stage of his/her life. That soon enough one will not see her loved ones anymore, that the person will no longer be able to do what he or she was capable of doing before and just watch as the world pass by doing its own business, enjoying the company of loved ones. Much more so, it is a numbing of the awareness of the possibility of having to survive with the use of painful tubes stuck in one's body, that one shall be fed using a tube or being able to breathe by virtue of a respirator. This was a realization after having witnessed how my mother-in--law was survived until even the doctors advised the family that she probably has had enough and to just sign a waiver that she would no longer be subjected to all the hassles of keeping her alive through artificial means.
Two to three weeks prior to my mother-in-law's passing, the doctors asked a very painful question to the surviving children. Should we resuscitate her if and when she has a seizure? Thinking that my mother-in-law has lived a full life at the ripe old age of 95, her children decided no more. They signed a waiver and let nature take its course rather than subject her to a grueling experience of being poked with a lot of tubes, needles and a life with a machine. The question of should one fight nature and try to extend life as possible always come in when a loved one is at the brink of death. In 2006, I wrote a poem that summarizes my thoughts about the issue of either fighting for one's life or no more.
Oh Hipocrates, save me
please, but only
if you believe
I have yet more years.
But if these be spent
to suffer and shed more tears
spare, let me be
and let my spirit free
Saturday, December 01, 2018
I shall be bringing home with me wonderful memories of my stay here in the US. I shall forever remember the beautiful scenes along the highways of Southern California, Portland, Oregon, Maryland and Virginia. I shall remember the traffic in interstate and local highways which is really not so strange a phenomenon coming from a land where traffic has been a problem since the 90's stepped in or maybe even earlier. I shall remember the beautiful paintings at the Getty, Norton and the LACMA, even the naked dancers at Sinn in Hollywood. i shall have etched deeply in my mind the awesome paintings of European and American artists - from the Renaissance till the modern period noteworthy of which is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci followed by Rembrandt and the impressionist painters.
I shall remember the rain that got me soaked as I was dressed in formal attire, vest included, as two of my friends are being married in Oregon. I shall always remember that very brief stay in Seattle and the casino where I lost $20 and when my baggage and bags were left open at the hotel in Portland that prompted my good friend to fix them and had me checked out just because I could not make it on time.
I shall remember the sites and sounds and the hustle and bustle of New York, the ubiquitous wailing of sirens in contrast to the tranquility of Maryland and Virginia. Who can ever forget that wonderful Thanksgiving celebration knowing that my gratitude towards the bountiful blessings bestowed upon me by God.
I shall always remember that surprise, almost off-season snow that fell for one whole day, thinking that it was God's plan to have me experience how it is for snow to accumulate almost a foot deep as fast. And I shall always remember that chilling, icy cold feeling whenever I have to go out of the house that got me wearing several jackets to protect me from frost bite.
I shall always remember walking inside a cave without the dangers of spelunking but like I was window shopping inside a mall inside and yet it still was mesmerizing knowing that I was inside Virginia's tummy. Or that magical tour of Harper's Ferry I truly enjoyed as it was like living in the old west and where I experienced John Denver's Coutry Road, Take me Home song.
But most of all, I shall remember that amid the frigid environment, I was enveloped in heat, even warmer than any jacket could produce, caused by the love offered to me by friends and relatives. These people composed of long time friends who migrated here, grew a family with fantastic children and earning new ones, those with whom I got the pleasure to be with and enjoy their company like we have known each other for a very long time. I will never forget the warmth of friends and relatives who adopted me and went out of their way to show me their city. These people who not only gave me shelter and food but also embraced me as one of the family. i can never thank these people enough.
A warm hug to:
South California: Khriss and Nino, the Del Carmen family, Keno and family, Rikki Avecilla, Annabelle Reyes, Ochie Dionisio, Fr. Aaron Galvizo, Gloria Laven and ther clan, Cesar Chaingan, Becky Cajucoom and Vanessa Lyon
Portland, Oregon: Empol and Evelyn Ferma, Edison and Craig Cabrera Manalo, the Cabrera clan, Angela Moore
Seattle: Tess Niera and her family
New York: Froi and Leovie Diaz, Norman Gutierrez, Oswaldo de la Cruz, Jane Tuatis and her famlly, Bheng Pargas Yenko, Leon Gamboa, Jun Rupaniana and everyoone who attended that reunion party
Virginia: Gil and Rhea Lacqui, Dave and Alona Saturnino Barker, Joon Alfoonso, Bugs Datu and everybody who attended the party. Bong, Blessie and Rose Tibung
Noel and Janet Encarnacion and Mario and Au Sta Ana and her family and Jojo Santa, his wife and sister and her husband
Lastly, I would like to thank my nephew Ed and his wife Adet for embracing me with love and loving care.
I have always believed that once one has seen one State, it will be just the same like the others. Now that I have seen more than California and that I have experienced being in both the East and West Coasts, I can now see the very subtle differences. That each state will have its own glamore and will provide you with a lot of resources, both man made and natural. While California would be kinder to a Filipino, simply because one can see a lot of Asians and people seem to be just like who you are making me think that the whites are the minority there. Climate wise, it will be a little colder than Baguio but definitely not as cold as those where snow comes during winter time. New York is close to home in terms of the hustle and bustle of a city but it would be in the small counties in Maryland or Virginia where one can truly feel that one is in the USA! For one thing, it has four seasons and there are more whites than there are Asians. Oh well, these are my impressions, at least.
Now, after having seen New York, I can say that I have seen a much different world the US can provide. It encaptulates the life of city dwelling and with all the chaos,large population and all that, it has its own charm far different from all the other places I have been to.
Knowing that I have barely scratched the surface considering one cannot see and know what New York is all about in just one week, like one cannot view the Met in just one whole day, I still have yet to see the MoMa and Guggenheim, for example, I am already itching to find my way back. Once again, thank you New York. I can't wait to share you with my family one day!
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
My stay here in California is winding down. I shall leave during the wee hours of the morning of Friday, Oct 26 with my niece Khriss and her husband, Nino. They have been fantastic hosts and it has always been like a home away from home for me since I arrived.. There is no place I would have felt as comfortable as here in Olive St. in Orange County.
If there would have been a theme for my stay here in the US , it would be "family". I started out with Nino and Khriss, a very young couple who is working out to start a family of their own. Then there is this family who has transitioned from a complete loving family losing a very important member of the house to cancer - Danny Dionisio, the patriarch and sole bread winner. We visited the wife, Rosita and I could feel the agony of the loss of a beloved husband. I have witnessed the closeness this two have for each other and considering that practically all the children are married except for the youngest who is now working and independent, I truly feel the pain of the wife being alone.
Then there is the family of in-laws, husband and wife Ogie, Baby, Kuya Ben's sister, and Keno, the couple's son.. They seem to be a family who is now very much in tune to the American way of life with Keno who has a stable job, promising to be a rich millennial soon.
Of course, my friends Rikki and Annabel,. always the true friends that they are, took time out to take me to the remarkable Getty museum. They have always been like family to me. Thereafter, Khriss, Nino and I went to meet with my relatives, Ate Bini who played a very important role in my life as she helped me transform into a decent human being. Thanks to his son, Nats who invited his siblings to meet with me, I got reunited with the family. I shall always treasure the sumptuous seafood dinner they hosted but even more so the happy reminiscing we had of the past.
OnTuesday, my niece took me to the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art. Another noteworthy museum with a fantastic collection. We met with former DLSU professor, once neighbor and friend, Becky Cajucom and her boyfriend Martin. They treated us to lunch and we had a great time checking the collection. We were all fascinated with a sculpture of a modern monkey that was supposed to look like a balloon tied up together. Thereafter, Khriss and I went to visit Bong, a family friend who now lives in Buena Partk. UInfortunately her husband Danny and her son were not there yet when we visited.
For my spiritual upliftment, I was surprised to be invited by a friend who is now a priest and the chaplain of Cal State University in Fullerton. Our tete a tete was very fruitful as we discussed wonderful things over another seafood dinner at Claws where he treated me.
Talk about reminiscing, nothing could compare with my reunion with elementary classmate and best friend, Cesar Chaingan. He is the only classmate from my La Consolacion days that I have reconnected with. The perfect host that he is, we started out at the evening of Friday and ended up after midnight. Then we devoted our whole day the following day with his wife Carole joining us for lunch and dinner. He has taken me to wonderful places and my fb account would testify to that --the Norton Museum and the Griffith Observatory among others being the highlights of my visit.. I even made a painting of the famous Suicide bridge where we went for a stroll just to get perfect shots.
On Sunday, I got reconnected with a very beautiful lady, Vanessa Lyon, once a model in the Philippines who worked with my two girls and now an upcoming Hollywood star. She is still that very sweet and down to earth woman I have known her to be. Hopefully she would stay that way even when she has reached the pinnacle of her dreams. We had breakfast at the Urth Cafe and we had a very nice conversation talking about the past and the future.
That afternoon, I met Gloria Pimentel Laven and her family. Whereas before it was just her and her husband John who I got to meet, this time I was welcomed to some sort of a family reunion and was able to meet her son, Alexander and his son, three year old Luca, her grandsons Adrian and his Filam girlfriend and another brother whose names escape me now, her 91 year old mother and sister, Sylvia.
So far, I had the opportunity to see how Filipino families thrive and survive the US and it pleases me that they are doing great! I can't wait to see how the others live at the other side of the country, the East Coast. In the meantime, I am eagerly awaiting my experience of witnessing my first gay wedding which shall be happening in Oregon. Another happy pairing and expecting a happy family of their own.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Friday, September 21, 2018
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Sao Paulo. located at the southeast region of Brazil is the most populated in the country and having the largest GDP in Latin America, is at the same time, the wealthiest state in Brazil,. Ranked as an alpha global city, a city which is a primary node in the global economic network. Sao Paulo is very progressive that is easily felt with its infra structures, roads and bridges, trains and everything that modern man has access to. With a topography the same as Baguio, hilly that one has to traverse the road with its ups and downs, the climate in Sao Paulo city while I was there was very cold. It is replete with parks where people can relax and exercise, as part of these parks are exercise contraptions which anybody can use anytime of day. The biggest park, the Ibirapuera Park has a land area of 158 hectares that include several museums and pavilions and has a recorded 14.4 million visits in 2017. There is a huge bicycle rental as one enters the park to help you see the various amenities as it is so large one will have a hard time seeing the whole place by just walking. The main features also include three giant fountains in a lake that is surrounded by vast picnic grounds. It is also quite common to have at least two football fields in some of the parks - football courts is to basketball courts in the Philippines.
I would have to be honest. The reason for my visit was twofold. First, I would like to see a new country, experience a culture that is unknown to me but mostly because I wanted to see how my daughter is doing all by herself in a land so far away. I know that while she is living now with her husband safely, I still wanted to see for myself how she is doing. I would like to make sure that she knows how to get along with her husband and most of all, her in-laws. She had always been under the protection of the family and I wanted to see how she is getting along. How does she keep the household, manage the bills, etc. In other words, does she know how to live outside the protection of mom and dad? Luckily, she did. Her in-laws loved her and take her as their own. She, although has still a lot to learn, is beginning to run the house like her mom and that is a good thing. So, after seeing that she is perfectly doing fine on her own, I started to look at another perspective - the Brazilian way of life.
My first impression of Sao Paulo is that it is a land of beautiful men and women. It is very common to see beautiful people in the streets, trains and places where people congregate. The people I met, for example, are very young and very beautiful. The mixture of different races, the greatest of which are Italians followed by Portuguese, Germans and Spaniards not to mention those of Afro lineage, probably brought a new breed of Brazilians accounting to their physical attributes. They have a beautiful physique which most of them develop through exercise. This probably explains the influx of Brazilian models particularly in Asian countries like China and the Philippines. Most men and women are sporting at least three tattoos, an art form that has been a fad for quite a while. What I liked about the people I met, those I have been acquainted to or even just met in the streets, are kind and very accommodating. They are well-mannered and respectful of one another.
Brazilian cuisine is, while not strange, a little different. A mixture of different influences, Brazilian food is a good variation from what I usually have. First and foremost, while I have the habit of eating three square meals a day, I noticed that Brazilians do not eat that much. Their biggest meal would have to be lunch and would mostly only have some bread for dinner and would sometimes skip breakfast altogether. Their favorite dish seem to be the feijioada, a mixture of beans and different stewed meat. They love to eat beans and a good plate would be composed of either white or black beans at the bottom then topped with rice which they steam with garlic, onion and sometimes with some herbs - truly delightful. Then they would layer this with meat and green salad laced with oil dressing. I always, shamefully. had seconds every meal. Angela, Kim's sogra (mother-in-law) is a very good cook that I enjoyed her dishes very much. The main staple would have to be churrasco or grilled meat which the cook sends out to the guests right after it is done or it would be a little tough if overcooked or has gone cold. One of my favorites was the coxinha or Brazilian chicken croquettes. It is very much like our empanadas.
I have mentioned that Brazilians love to stay physically sound. They exercise a lot to maintain that whistle bait figure. The main sport would have to be football. I was lucky that I arrived during the World cup held in Russia and I got to have a glimpse of that Brazilian spirit. Every time the Brazil team had a game, the people were anxiously waiting for it to happen and even have fireworks early in the morning. During game time and the team scored, fireworks would be heard. I would have had the best time of my life experiencing the glory of the Brazilian people had Brazil won the cup. Fate was not in their favor when they lost to Belgium during the semi-finals.
Sao Paulo is rich in the arts that it can easily be a haven for artists. There are a lot of museums, theater halls and sculptures one can enjoy. It is replete with nature that can inspire an artist to work. I, alone, in my more than a month stay, was able to produce about 21 watercolors. The country is replete with the arts in various forms. From folk art to the classics, the country is beaming with art works as a result of migration making the country as a melting pot of different cultures combining it into a synthesis of a rich culture.
If only I would be able to stay for a longer period of time, independent, knowledgeable of the language and have its entire culture known to me, I would welcome it. If only I were single and young!