New term in school starts on January 2. I'm wondering what made me decide to come home with Lael and Hansel when it won't have mattered if I stayed in Bicol until the new year. And as a matter of fact, the registrar's office will not be opened before the classes start so it would be useless even if I have already been able to raise the amount, I would still be a late enrollee.
I'm still about nine thousand pesos short and the remaining balance is for myself to produce. Mama have already given me her ATM card and with all the things that happened recently, she already have much to think about without worrying about me.
Going back home yesterday, I was surprised that I felt optimistic that I would be able to raise the money but with the seemingly unlikely help from my father and my emails to my sister left unanswered, I'm feeling half-hearted. I also don't want Timmy to worry about me anymore. She's already done so much for me and as I hate to admit, three thousand of the money I have in hand was already from her. I knew things would have been easier if I hadn't resigned from my job. I just wanted to give my school more time, but now I feel like I need to go back to working again. I'm beginning to wonder where the hell that optimism came from in the first place when this is the time I needed it more.
my grandfather who doesn't know me
It had been the family christmas dinner I had in my life with the largest attendance. And in spite of the situation, it had been one of the most memorable for me. Of course, having it at my grandfather's wake didn't make the celebration outright merry but the presence of almost the whole family around made it feel so overwhelming that it didn't matter to me if we were served only small portions of the spaghetti with a loaf of bread to make it enough for everyone. I'm glad no one protested when I requested for another serving. What also made it different from the past christmases is that I took part in preparing. I made a refrigerated cake and I'm just too pleased that everyone liked it.
My grandfather's funeral this afternoon had been, like his death, very peaceful - emotional, yet very peaceful. I played the part of the photographer using Aunt Nancy's camera from the house to the church and finally to the cemetery. For brief moments, I joined them in the parade of following the funeral car, as in tradition, which made me feel glad that I have been assigned to take the pictures and gave me an excuse to keep my distance. The tenacious feeling of the moment was less overwhelming when I'm either far ahead or far behind the crowd. I was very anxious not to cry along with the others.
Lolo Ipe had a strong reputation of being a strict disciplinarian. I doubt if any of his grandchildren had really been close to him because of that. His always-disarming presence and firm principles had earned himself high respect from others and his penetrating stare tells you he's not the right person you can ever mess with. I don't remember myself having even a light chat with him that I recall being jealous with other kids who had close ties with their grandparents when I was younger.
When they got back from the States, after Tita Linda, my mother's eldest sister, died, my grandfather was already diagnosed with Dementia (not Alzheimer's as I was corrected) along with other diseases. He didn't seem to be able to recognize me and never seemed to care about my presence. He also seldom speak. I would take my pictures with him and he's emotionless face would just stare at me after. Mama even told me that he doesn't even remember them - his own children. But something out of the ordinary happened that had me convinced otherwise.
Behind those sternful looking, whitish eyes, I felt certain that he was still the same person he had always been. In one of the visits we made to our relatives long ago in San Fernando, Camarines Sur, I was being teased by one of the elders for being too chicken not to take a shot of a hard liquor he and his drinking mates were offering me. Lolo, who was sitting behind him and who was witness to what was happening suddenly spoke: "Tigilan mo yan, apo ko yan." Everyone around looked stunned.
"I've always believed that the heart can never forget
what even the mind sometimes fail to remember."
- SCARS OF MY WRECKED SOUL, December 11, 2006
With my cousins Hansel and Karen at my grandparents house, morning of the christmas eve.
Barely a week after Anette's mom passed away and exactly 6 days after Donna announced that her grandmother in Davao died, it was my very own grandfather's turn.
Apparently, my aunts and even my mother, who went to Bicol ahead of us, didn't have enough courage to tell me that Lolo was gone. It was already evening when my cousin Karen broke the news to me through text when he actually passed away that very morning.
Since we started having plans of spending the holidays in Bicol, I have already planned to do my share for the christmas dinner. It would be the very first christmas dinner in my living memory that we will be spending it there. I even imagined myself doing the spaghetti, something I have never done before. The event would be something special, I'm sure and I wanted to help in making it something out of the ordinary.
But now that he is gone, I'm sure it's not going to be the way I had expected it to be anymore. Fourteen years ago, Hansel's father and my mother's youngest father died on christmas eve. Needless to say, it is no longer something we haven't gone through before but I'm certain it is still going to be as special.
birthday gift for papa
I could sense by the way my father anxiously wake me up that there was something wrong. But I was too sleepy to get up. Like almost every night in my life, I slept late the night before. I felt certain that someone should pass a bill prohibiting anyone to wake up someone else in a deep slumber.
I caught a glimpse of what was happening in the living room. Someone was putting bandages on my father's left arm but I was too irritated to care. I was told that my father was bitten by Rockstar, my 14-month old Labrador retriever and someone is needed to take him to a hospital or whatever to get an anti-rabies shot. But since my mother have gone the day before with my Aunt Nancy, who arrived from Wisconsin the other day, to Bicol, that someone needs to be me
I was still feeling anoyed when my father and I headed to a nearby clinic. I didn't even have the nerve to take a look at his wounded arm beneath that poorly arranged bandage. I knew I could have put it on on him perfectly being very much acqauinted with the process being a nurse's son and all but I half-believed it could be that serious. Labradors are known to be gentle on humans and I even secretly blamed him for being so stupid to get in the middle of a dog fight. Rockstar earlier battled again with my half-Dachschund, half-native dog, Goliath.
I was even more pissed off when we found out that the clinic was closed on weekends. We had no choice but to go to PGH, where my mom works. It was only inside the cab that I've realized it is going to be my father's birthday on the following day. What an opportune time to be bitten by a dog. It was also his beloved association's christmas party on that evening. He told me he would wear barong tagalog so his arm would be hidden. Clever.
Arriving at the emergency room of the Philippine General Hospital, I felt how it was like to be a normal citizen (in that respect, at least). Mama wasn't there and so was the usual special treatment. I doubt if anyone would have believed that we were an immediate family of a head nurse working there, I was wearing the very thing I wore in my sleep.
It was also until then that I've realized the severity of my father's wound. I appeared dumbfounded as the nurse attending to us painstakingly try to remove the bandage my father's nephew had placed earlier. There were bits of garlic underneath it as a large portion of his flesh was exposed. I swear I would see his bones if I had the courage to look closely.
I felt so bad after that, I felt like hiding my face in shame. Then I began contemplating on the things I have done against my father, his depression and my coldness towards him. We were never the perfect father-and-son tandem, we never even get close to that. Growing up, he didn't have much time for me that we were never really close. I get jealous of others who brought along their own fathers in father-and son camps in high school while I have my eldest cousin by him as a proxy. We never did the same things father and son do. He was a perfect example of someone literally there, but figuratively never there. For him, there was always a recognizable line between fathers and his children. It never occured to him that we could also be friends. And I've always hated him for that.
At that special moment, I felt the long-forgotten longing I have for him. I knew it was an opportunity for me to make him feel that I also love him. In his usual tirade of speeches over dinner, he would point out that we make him feel useless after he lost his job. But though I knew I perfectly understood where he was coming from, I also know that I never gave the effort to make him realize that and make him feel that he is still the man of the house and he is still as important to us as he was before.
As we headed to the exit, I even felt worse when he thanked me for being there. I didn't feel like I deserved it but he seemed so happy saying that. I felt the need of treating him to a lunch over at Wendy's after we bought his medicines and I just couldn't remember the last we dined out alone together. I just hope it's not yet too late for the two of us. I hope we could still be the father-and-son I have always dreamed us to be.
a love story
When the clock ticks 12:00 tonight, it is going to be 13 days before Christmas, 312 hours, 18720 minutes before the celebration of Jesus' birth and if the doctors are to believed, it will only take three days or 72 hours before Anette's mom, Tita Loida joins the Lord in heaven. Needless to say, it is going to be the first Christmas dinner for her family without her.
For probably the fifth time in just two years, Tita Loida has been sent to the hospital for different reasons, all stemming down to her heart problem. When Anette told me over the phone, the situation did not seem very critical to me. I didn't find it different from the previous incidents until she told me that half her mother's body was already paralyzed.
Arriving at the hospital with Donna and Joy, we found Anette alone with her cousin Nikki at the room reserved for well-wishers and relatives. We could only see Tita Loida from a diminutive glass window to her room. The rest of their family including Ian, Anette's brother who stayed with their father in Batangas after their parents separated, were not yet aware of her mother's condition.
Having the opportunity, Anette asked me to come with her inside the ICU unit 7 of the Manila Doctors Hospital to see her mom. I was never uncomfortable in hospitals in my life because I almost grew up in PGH where my own Mama works. She would take me and my sister there when we were young everytime we didn't have someone to babysit for us while she and my father go to work.
At that very moment, I was having doubts about my own beliefs. I felt anxious because I seemed to be the only person there to whom Anette can draw her strength from in the absence of her own family. The doctor told me about Tita Loida's condition and even noted that she can no longer identify any of the two of us because the part of her brain where her memory is - had already been damaged. And of all the things she told me about her state, that is the only one I found hard to accept. I have always believed that the heart can never forget what even the mind sometimes fail to remember.
While Anette and I stood on the opposite sides of Tita Loida's bed, I tried to look around. There was the respirator, the pulse-monitoring device with all the graphs - the ones I used to see in movies. I was avoiding any emotional talk because I knew Anette had already been crying too much. We were talking when I noticed Tita's left arm and leg which were tied to her bed, moving at the same time almost frailly. Anette told me her mom was trying to pull the tubes inserted through her nose so it was tied. Then I figured maybe she was moving because she was hearing us so I suggested that she talk to her. And at that moment, I have seen the most poignant expression of love I have ever seen. She asked her mom to hold her hand. And with all the energy she have left against the disease slowly consuming her body, Tita Loida raised her hand and held Anette's in a snug. Then I knew she was fighting her battle.
It has been the moment I've always dreaded since I've decided to go steady with Timmy. It would have been the moment that could either confirm or refute the things that I have been claiming to be true for the past six months. And I was too afraid to realize that I might just have been fooling the world and myself all along.
When a friend asks me for help, I have always been willing to do so as long as I know that I can. It was something I always looked at as an obligation for me being a friend to help someone in need given that I am fully-capable. But when my cousin, Joy messaged me that she needed me to come with her to see Shiela, my ex-girlfriend (the longest I've been with to date), I wasn't so sure if I still wanted to see it that way. Joy herself had issues with Shiela because they were ex-bestfriends and so she wasn't ready to meet with her alone. Unfortunately I was the only one available at the time albeit I knew that I wasn't ready to see her myself.
It has been the longest time Shiela and I haven't seen each other and until now, four years after we broke up, there are still some people who seem skeptical that I have already moved on at the rate the things had happened before.
For a very long time, I was one of those skeptics myself. No matter how hard I tried, I found it impossible to live up to that old cliche "Time heals all wounds." that I was beginning to think that the 'time' referred to in the phrase could actually mean 'lifetime
". But then again, there came Timmy and the elusive magic I have been waiting to come again my way had arrived.
Standing in front of Jools Cabaret and Bar where Shiela performs, I was back to my old-skeptic self again. I have never really thought about how to act when I see her again and I must confess that I have never seen it coming.
She appeared in an utterly revealing red outfit, looking surprised that I came along. She acted so nice to invite us inside to watch her and her band perform. They served me free beer and a cocktail juice for Joy. I almost forgot that Shiela's boyfriend was one of her band members until he joined us in one side of the bar and tried to have a little chat. I knew if it had happened a year ago, I could have had walked out.
But looking at them and talking to her did not seem as extraordinary as I was expecting it to be. I was surprised that I didn't feel the slightest glitch I used to feel just looking at her then. Looking through her eyes and her smile that used to mean the whole world to me didn't seem to affect me the way it used to. None of it matters to me anymore. It doesn't mean anything now than just eyes and smile. She no longer have the spell that used to enthrall me and finally, I was certain. I was freed from my past.
Uncertainty is one of the main reasons why I don't often say the words 'I love you'. I have felt proud in the few times I told Timmy those words and now I feel more proud that I'm sure I meant it.
Me and Anette
Santy and Anne. Fooling around the Hacienda Marcelo, Jules and I played the part of the director and the photographer respectively as our models strucked their poses very much willingly.
The typhoon Reming didn't stop us from pushing through our long-planned Batangas outing. How in the world did a typhoon come lurking around the archipelago in less than 48 hours before the trip? I don't know but we were already set and far too used at being taunted by storms everytime the Silversoul go out of town to back out. And with the up-to the minute weather updates from Ian straight from Batangas, we knew nothing could go wrong.
The storm was at its peak midnight before December 1 so we figured out that it would have gone to Manila by the time we arrived there. And as luck would have it, our weather predictions were correct. Save for the fallen trees everywhere, there was no sign in the skies that a storm has just passed. The weather in Batangas was very pleasing when we arrived, neither too warm nor too cold and the best part is that we have the whole resort all to ourselves.