Tuesday, April 27, 2010

She's all grown-up

There was this song from the Stylistics in the 70's I used to listen to and it goes like this: "You're a big girl now, no more daddy's little girl." Just like some of the songs I used to listen to in those days, I was more mindful of the melody than the lyrics. Especially that it was the first time that singing in falsetto was unheard of during the time, I never really felt how strong the words are until last night when I took my eldest daughter to the airport for a convention she was attending in South Korea.

After all the usual reminders of keeping all the papers together and taking care of herself, I gave her a kiss and let her go. I watched her walk towards the entrance toting a big pink baggage in one hand with jacket and hand-carried stuff with the other. It was like watching my baby going away from me. It was then that I knew, she's no longer daddy's little girl. I remember how vulnerable her fragile body was as I carried her in my arms putting her to sleep. I remember how I gave her smelling kisses after she took a bath. I remember her sitting beside me during the first time I drove to school and seeing the relief on her face when we got to our destination. These things made me strong. I had to be as there were young people who needed me to be so. Now, she and the rest of her siblings are all grown up and soon,will have a family of their own and it will be just me and the wife to spend the rest of our lives together.

In the meantime, let me hold my babies for one more time, make them feel that they are loved before I no longer have the strength to even stand on my own two feet.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There is always a silver lining

April 20 is a very important date for me. Not only is this the day my wife was born, it is also the day we got married. Today, we celebrate our 25th year of being together, our silver anniversary.

A silver lining is a hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty. What it means is that in spite of the most difficult situations, there is something beautiful that is hidden beneath the rabbles. The beauty of the desert is that somewhere, it hides a well... (from the Little Prince When I got married after a two-year engagement with my wife, I knew that there would be problems that we have to hurdle as husband and wife. Who does not? But we managed to overcome them. Now, it's twenty five years hence and our relationship is still going strong, thanks to our four children who are barely children anymore, and our enduring love for each other. Now that is the silver lining to our marriage. Problems sure came along the way but we braved the storms together. As a matter of fact, it was almost smooth sailing most of the way from day 1.

My wife and I make a pretty good team. As soon as we knew we were sure to be hitched for life, we started by saving money for our wedding. We opened a joint bank account specifically to spend for it lest we bother other family members about our own private lives. From that time on,after marriage, we embarked on different major projects every year. First was the house where we now live in, then, the car, etc... Last year, we had the house renovated and added more rooms and an upstairs CR. Fortunately, the house was completed before Ondoy. We practically started from scratch and what we have today is the result of our combined perspiration and blood.

Of course, the kids were always a part of the equation. When these guys were still toddlers, we would rent a private pool in Laguna and together with family and friends, celebrate our wedding anniversary there. This was the time when the kids were just learning to swim. Later, when they were about to be teen-agers, our "outings" began to be in farther destinations with a set of friends who were with us since our early years in the university where we both work(ed) (My wife still works there). We have traveled as far north as Pagudpud and way down south to Bicol, Marinduque and Mindoro. These are friends who are considered part of the family. Our children grew up together, slept in one room and spent most of the nights playing games. These escapades were pleasurable silver linings that helped us to be what we are now as a couple.

I must admit, the best silver lining in our marriage is my wife's admirable virtues of tolerance, understanding and piety. There is no other woman who can put up with my mood swings, my temper (I'm not really that bad but I do have these sometimes) and undying support for me. As an artist and a teacher, which unfortunately, do not bring tons of money in the household, she managed to keep me in tow, helped me through hard times, even managed to get me back to school a couple of times to take my masters and another course. But as I am, I always fall short even when I can almost see the finishing line. I know this was upsetting for her but really, I could not finish something I do not find enjoying anymore. That's me. It's all fun and excitement but as intolerable of sadness and sacrifices. We only live once and I want to make the best out of it.

Last night, I have decided that the children are old enough to spread their wings on their own. I have instructed my children to come home early and look after their grandmother as I was taking their mom on a date. Yes, just the two of us. We have not done this in a long time. Everything we did was for the children. It is high time that we do things for ourselves, enjoy each other's company and see the stars, smell the flowers the way they are without any worries at all. I took her to an Italian restaurant in Serendra called Balducci Ristorante to have a quiet dinner. The food was uber delicious! As I am wont to stare at other people, I made sure I did not face anybody but the bar and made sure I did not bring any cigs in my pocket. How's that for discipline, huh? All for the love of my life. For starters, we had a greek salad. Then, I ordered for onion soup which was spectacular! For our main course, we ordered pasta, as usual It was divine!
After, dinner, we took a stroll of Bonifacio High Street, looking at the stores. I asked her if she wanted to go to a spa but she declined. She was good! All these while the children entertained their cousins and titos and titas to a dinner at the house.

As cliche as it may sound, if I were to be given another chance in life, I will seek my wife again and marry her the second, the third time. For it is only she who can make me who I am and see a silver lining in the thickest of clouds.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Listening to the counsel of the years

One of the perks of being old is the more you get older, the wiser you get. In the eyes of some other people, that is. Well, as I have said in my previous posts, my co-workers are getting younger and younger. Some of them were even my students in high school. Now, we are equals but they still accord me some respect.

As young ones tend to be engaged in matters of the heart, sometimes, I get to be asked questions pertaining to this worthy endeavor. Some are cutesy stories, some are down to earth. I begin to be an expert of some sort although, of course, I am not really as qualified for I do not have that much experience. I have had three girlfriends before I got married and two of those only lasted for a month. My first relationship was when I was thrown by my parents to San Miguel, Bulacan. I was a drop out then and had to repeat my third year of high school. (I was a good student but only when I do study my lessons and I hardly did that). It was during the 70s and it was really hard to be a teen ager in those days. Let us just say it was the age of rebellion and leave it at that. My second was in college. No courting, just got her to go with me to the movie theater and one thing led to another and we were steady after that. I did not expect that relationship to last and it didn't. The third one was the hardest. It hit me hard when she broke off with me. She was very beautiful and very intelligent (of course she was. She broke off with me). Back then, I was never a serious guy. Just drinking and partying all day long.

However, I am not shy with women. As a matter of fact, I am more comfortable with women than with men. I can laugh and be myself even with complete strangers. I have always been around them since my early childhood. Most of my playmates were girls. I still have that trait even to this day. Most of my closest friends are women teachers. I trust them and they, me. Of course, I get the rocks when I kind of shock them a bit. If you know me, you know what I am talking about.

So, it did not come as a surprise when yesterday, a co-teacher of mine confessed that she is having a hard time with her boyfriend. I will not go into the details but narrate the jist of our discussion. After giving a disclaimer that my assessment is purely based on what she has told me and that it could be wrong for I do not know the other person in the story, in summary, this was what I told her:

1. She loves her boyfriend more than he does her. I know the romantics would say that love knows no boundaries. You give yourself completely without any qualms or expecting anything in return. However, that is only true when the other person loves you just as much. We only live on this earth once. Why suffer? Unrequited love is the most painful of all. It takes two to tango. Love is something one does with a partner. Narcissism is the most pitiful state one can be in.

2. When you love something, you let him/her go i have been a staunch believer of this since I have read it someplace I do not recall. You know how it goes. If it comes back, it is truly yours. Well, until this morning while doing the puzzle in Star. You know that cryptic message you decode by substituting the letters to their assigned numbers? I had to stay at the shop for more than 8 hours today because of a car tune-up that has gone sour because I have asked the mechanic what was causing that squeaking noise underneath. It turned out to be a huge job that cost me more than 26K and a 12 hour stay there. What was I to do? I have read the paper from cover to cover, finished the crossword and the unscrambled letters. Surprisingly, the message was the same but with a twist. Some anonymous person wrote, "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it does not mean a thing for it just may leave again." How pathetic can that writer be? Anyway, I still say, if you love someone but your love is not reciprocated, better let it go and stop the suffering. It only hurts for sometime but in the end, you learn to heal the wound in your heart. Move on!

3. Nobody deserves a beating in the name of love Unless you are a masochist, there is no point in having your heart trampled upon by anybody. We all deserve to love and be loved. The key is finding the right person for you. As de Quiros would say, "there's the rub". How does one know? You don't. You just keep on praying you'll find that someone. It can be a hit or miss but by jove, you have to find him/her before you get committed. Marriage is lifetime commitment so you better make good judgments in matters of the heart. When I learn of newly formed couples, I always ask, "Have you guys fought already?" The reason being it is no problem when everything's alright. However, things can get ugly sometimes and surely, you will fight. You will have to learn how to do that. You have to know what the other person is capable of doing. How does the other person argue his/her point, does he use gestures or does he/she become very violent?

4. When couples fight and it gets nasty, never involve your relatives This is especially true when married. You wouldn't want to involve, say, your father with your marital problems. You entered into that situation as an adult, deal with it. The problem lies when the relatives become so pissed that they gang up with your spouse. Worst case scenario is it can lead to death. You can just imagine a father wielding a bolo at his daughter's husband because the latter beat her up. Maybe this is because I just watched the Godfather I again the other night. I can still see how mad Santino was upon learning that her brother-in-law beat his sister. Anyway, I think it is more prudent to either go to your friends or better yet, your in-laws first. Should there be no other alternative but to separate, work it out with them first. That is just my opinion, of course.

5. No matter how painful love can be, do not be afraid to love As corny as it may seem, the saying "it is better to have loved and lost than never having to have loved at all" still holds true. Being in love is the sweetest thing that ever happened to me. It will to anyone and we all deserve to be happy.