Saturday, April 29, 2006

She finally laid to rest

Life is not always fair. Sometimes, I question the reason of being born only to die later. This question often comes up when I encounter death in the family. I feel the pain of having to lose someone who is really close to me and I begin to ponder why we are given life here on earth.

To the poor, it may seem that life may be very fulfilling to the rich as they can enjoy everything it has to offer. They can buy every luxury imaginable. Live comfortably in a big house, jump on a fancy car and go anywhere they want to, be assured that there will always be food on the table, wear expensive clothes and jewelries which can really be intimidating to the poor.

But that is not what life is. Life is about what your take is on living. To the average person, my aunt's life was not exactly what one dreams about. She has lived a full and simple life. Not that she was living in abject poverty as she lived in her own simple house, ate three square meals a day and yet, if you only base one's station in life by her lifestyle, you'd probably say she did not live in comfort either. At the most extreme, you'd probably say she was not happy. How wrong this perception can be. She had always been happy. She always greeted you with a full smile on her face, the kind that says "it's good to see you. Welcome to my house." If only department store ladies would learn how to give out that smile, they'd be selling their products to even the most skeptic buyer. I never saw her angry, too. She kept her cool and always gave an advice or two. She just did her business without any care in the world. Most impressive of all is that she would go out of her way to help a friend in need. That was the last one she did in her life - help a friend.

There was this blind neighbor who apprached her for a loan at around 2:00 pm last Thursday. Not keeping cash in her person, she offered to accompany the friend to another neighbor. After having introduced the two, she turned around complaining about the heat and collapsed. She was comatose since Saturday last week and yesterday, during her son's, Manolo's, third death anniversary, she passed away. Interestingly, her husband died, March 17, the death anniversary of another son, Pancho, who died in Vietnam during the 60's.

Goodbye, "mommy". Make God happy with your smile and may you rest in peace.

Monday, April 24, 2006

the rain stops, too

There is this saying "when it rains, it pours" signifying an abundance of something fortunate (or unfortunate)happening in one's life. I think, basing on my previous posts, my life has had an abundance of very nice things happening. Well, the past posts had been about celebrations here and there, right? There was Mickey's graduation, my happy married life, which is actually a prelude to my wife's birthday, our 21st wedding anniversary, and my coming trip to Canada next week. When it rains it pours, right? Well, the rain, no matter how strong, stops, too.

Yesterday morning, while I was getting ready to go to my mom's house, my brother called to inform me that our aunt, (the only aunt I've known), who we all fondly call "Mommy" is at the ICU fighting for her life. The details are still unclear to me but last Thursday, while accompanying a blind neighbor to a friend's house to guarantee for a loan, she complained of the terrible heat snf without any warning, collapsed. She was taken to the hospital and was later on put at the ICU.

She is my mother's older sister. She's 89 years old. The thing is, while my mother is now suffering from alzheimer's disease, my aunt is still strong and very lucid. When I was growing up, my mother snf my aunt would always tell me that they sang duets when they were much younger. If I remember correctly, they sang regularly in a radio show. My mother would sing the melody while "mommy" sang "second voice". As if to prove their story, they would sing for me while I accompany them with my guitar. They do sing in harmony albeit missing lyrics here and there. You know, the kundiman types. It was from them that I got to know that my grandfather was a judge, a violinist and a composer. Unfortunately, none of his compositions ever surfaced to my knowledge. It was from "mommy" that I learned that my grandfather looked exactly like me. There was a time when she even took out a picture of my grqndfather to prove her point, but honestly, I couldn't make head or tails from that old picture as it was so small, (ID size) and was blurry probably due to the length of time she kept it in her wallet (or whereever she took it from when she showed it to me). My grandfather died when they were young girls, not even teen-agers yet. My grandmother re-married to someone, a name I have forgotten, who, in fairness, had been good to them. And he died, too, so my grandmother had to be widowed twice.

At any rate, I remember my aunt with fondness. When I was growing up, she was the epitome of fun. They had a car and her visits always meant there was a cake. Usually, that would be my birthday. Once I get to see the car park near our house, I would jump with joy for it meant there'll be a lot of goodies and probably a ride in their car. Going to their house had always been a treat, too. It has always been fun for me as there had always been lots of people in their house. She had 9 children and I would assume much later on that each one in the household would have guests. It also helped that all of her children play an instrument well. Ironically, none of my siblings play an instrument, or even sing in tune! So there would be lots of singing and drinking in their house. To a child who was practically growing up alone, this meant fun.

When I got to the hospital, I couldn't look at her. I could not even say hello as I see what they have done to her just to keep her alive. Please help me pray for her. She may not survive this but hopefully, she wouldn't feel any pain.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Life's little pleasures

There are several instances when my family, in spite of the hardships in life, allow ourselves some luxury. I'm talking about birthday celebrations, graduations and the little milestones we manage to hurdle in our, oherwise, simple lives. I've been sharing these lately in my posts so you can see that basically, I am happy.

Once again, I beg for your indulgence and allow me to share with you my wife's birthday and our anniversary which we decided to celebrate at the Westin Philippine Plaza. (Last year, we spent this double celebration at the Shangri-la Hotel. I wrote about it, too. This year, Nitz' sister, who is a member of the hotel, decided she'd take her family with us, too. So, yesterday, we took two rooms at the hotel and decided to stay there overnight. It sure was a welcome respite from the usual heat we are experiencing these days. The children had stayed at the pool for almost like eternity while I stayed in the room watching tv and enjoy sleeping during the duration of the stay. At around 10 pm, my brother-in-law, Nitz's actually, as he is the husband of my sister-in-law, arrived from China and we all decided to try our luck at the casino. Well, as to be expected, I lost. So goodbye, precious bucks. I knew it was a bad idea! Oh well...

It's now official. I am bound to go to Canada to visit my friend, Arlene Lawson, co-owner and editor of the Country Mouse Peotry e-zine. She's one of the most important people in my life with whom I exchange emails with, practically everyday. We had been brought together by our love for poetry. This is going to be my third trip to the Maple leaf country, which I consider to be my second home. There, I shall meet with another friend, Bob Wands, another poet extraordinaire, whose poetry I have liked from the very start. Hopefully, I will also get to meet another writer friend, Gwen Austin, who has already written two novels under her name. This is going to be another worthwhile trip I shall always remember the rest of my life.

I am now finishing several paintings which I intend to bring with me to Canada. These are commissioned works which I hope will be worthy for their intended buyers. No harm in earning some dough along the way, is there?


Also, I am going back to teaching. My two-year stint as administrator has taught me a great deal about classroom management and teaching as well. I hope I am not that old for the classroom and manage to keep up with my students. Right now, I am working on my motivational skills and keeping abreast with new trends just so I can keep them intereseted. There is nothing more depressing than having to face a non-responsive audience. So, to my prospective students reading this blog, see you next year.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My married life

Let's talk about marriage. My wife and I have been married twenty-one years now. Well, almost. We will be celebrating the 21st come April 20, which happens to be her nth birthday, too. In twenty years time, we've managed to raise four kids (of course, you know this by now), purchased a small house and lot (still paying for the amortization), an old but dependable Lite-ace, an antiquated computer which takes several hours to get connected to the internet and so on and so forth. Let's just say that we fancy antiques, okay?

What makes for a lasting relationship with your spouse? Try open communication, honesty and compromise. The success of married life depends on these three basic things.

The lines of communication should always be open. Each spouse must be able to say freely what he/she wants to say regardless of what the other might think. There should be no reservations. This is the test that you are comfortable with each other.

Honesty is self-explanatory. How can your spouse trust you if you have too many secrets? I don't. I tell my wife everything. Even those that are incriminating. "We went to this bar where there were dancers in the buff" (This was in Toronto with her cousins, hehe) well, something like that. Get the picture? Not once has my wife become jealous. (Sabi nga ng mga kaibigan ko sa misis ko, "yan ba namang mukhang yan ng asawa mo, pagseselosan mo pa?)

I say compromise because there have been a number of times that you cannot see eye to eye. You discuss everything before coming to a final decision. From what kind of nail to use to the latest re-modeling of the house you plan to undertake. This is especially true when it comes to child-rearing. Each one of you would have your own ideas, based on your experiences, on how to deal with your kids. Naturally, you would only want the best for your children, right? So, given the same motivations, it is in the implementation and the details that becomes a problem most of the time. In the end, what makes keeping a relationship hard are the minutiae. When noone wants to back-down on a decision.

As a teacher, my idea is always to teach my children a lesson, no matter how hard it may be for them. I will not waiver on my decision once I have given it. However, there are times when the wifey would succumb and plead for the children. Now comes a long, arduous battle of wits, argumentation and debate. Sometimes, it becomes a matter of who talks faster and louder... but we don't usually come to this. I usually go out of the house, cool myself down, gather more arguments but also looking at her perspective. YOu see, a good debater must know how to argue not only for his side, but also for the opponent's side. This way, you would know the strenghts and weaknesses of the other's arguments. I tell you, arguing before a judge is a piece of cake compared to arguing with your spouse. First of all, you don't have an objective arbiter. Who do you suppose can mediate between the two of you? Nobody. You have to come up with a compromise. And you know what? Nobody wins in a compromise. You both lose. In fairness to me and my wife, when I return home, we would have both cooled down, forget about it for a while, and come to grips later on and make a final decision. This ploy has made me stay in this relationship, I think this is how it's going to be till the end.

Lastly, it doesn't hurt to say "I love you" once in a while. Just when you feel like saying it, say it. But most of all, MEAN IT!