Teks, Komiks at Iba pa

“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3 
 

I’m blessed with a happy childhood.  It always brings me joy to remember.

My Tata Sixto has such meztiso features while my Inana Eya was more exotic.  They  had ten children, one of whom died during the war.

My Daddy was third among these children.  Being the eldest boy, he had shared responsibility in raising up his younger brothers and sisters.

My Mommy is a beauty from the north.  Being ten years younger than my Daddy, there was some sort of generation gap between them.  But they survived forty-four years of marriage, because according to Mommy there was no expiration date on their marriage contract.  Thank God.

Aside from two spinsters, my Daddy’s siblings all have families of their own.  With this huge clan, my brother, sister and I grew up with learning to drink beer before we were even teenagers.  We also learned how to play mahjong, black jack and lucky nine like it was a family membership requirement.

But note:  this was only during fiesta of Patron San Marcos … and Christmas … and  New Year … and some Tito’s or Tita’s birthday.

During these celebrations, the third generation to which I belong had the time of our lives.  We get to stay up late until dawn.  We played habulan, taguan, and patintero.

We read komiks rented from the store in the kanto.  We played teks and goma.  We climbed trees.  We collect flowers for Flores de Maria in May.  We invade Inanang Mary’s store for kornik and chicharon lapad.

Above all these, we were taught values that would be our guide when we grew up.   Inana Eya was a devout Catholic.  And though she did not impose, we were taught how to practice our faith by her example.

We were taught how to “mano po” to show respect to our elders.  Say “po” and “opo”.

In Manaoag, during our vacations to Mommy’s hometown, we even experienced how at 6pm, when the church bells rang, every one stopped to pray the angelus.  Even if they were on the middle of the street, people would stop to face the church and pray, in reverence, until the church bells stopped ringing.

Those were the days when our grandparents lived and loved.  Those were the times when all we did was laugh.  And if we must cry, it was because we yearned to laugh some more.

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life is a sentence

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

today is supposed to be my dear friend roobee’s 45th birthday.  but we all stopped counting at 43, because she died almost two years ago after a fatal seizure.  last week my nephew Banjo, who is in his early twenties, passed on due to a lingering illness.  and just this week, my son’s former schoolmate and good friend, Kent, suddenly died in iligan because of a car accident.  he was still in his teens. 

in daddy’s case when he battled the big C,  he was given an estimated time when he was expected to die.  but nobody could really tell. he too, could have figured in an accident long before that.  then the doctors’ estimate would have been a gross mistake. and our family, unprepared and devastated. or there could have been a miracle, when the mistake would be most welcomed.

it is unbelievable when death cheats his way and no one else is looking.  it leaves everyone stunned and numb. unable to comprehend what is going on.  long after we moved on, the sadness lingers. 

at school, we were taught that “a sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete idea and includes a subject and a verb“.  in life we learn that it is. 

life is a sentence.

life is sentence whose subject is us.  and the verb, what we do with “us”.

 “a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark.”

our life begins with a loud cry.  and when it ends, only God knows.   but certainly, it will.

life usually ends with a period.  this is when life ends how and when most expects it to end – live a full life, die naturally and happily at old age.

life sometimes end with a question mark.  when someone who is young and full of dreams gets sick and die, we often ask what if and what could have been.

life, on rare occasions, end with a punctuation mark. we all get this shock and disbelief when one dies from an accident, a crime or a suicide.

in between, we may pause with a comma or a semi-colon, to give order to our compound or complex lives.

and when we finally reunite with our Creator, our sentences end with a . . .

for with the Lord is unending joy and love.

but for us who are still under construction, let us always be thankful for all the other sentences that we connect with, whether the past, present or future tense.

together and in harmony, we could create a paragraph or a novel even.  a love story that would highlight God’s glory in all our lives. and punctuate it with  : )

tears of the candle

“Make known to me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths.  Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation; for Thee I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

it’s Christmas time once again.  and even far away from the Philippines, the spirit of the season will always remain in our hearts; even in a country where Christmas is just another ordinary working day, and those lights blink whole year round not to remind everyone of the birth of Jesus, but to make their establishments easier to find.

as early as september, we already have our simple Christmas tree in place.  we thought that would counter last year’s sad memories because of my daddy’s passing, and because i knew i had to undergo surgery before the holidays.  we also have advent candles on the mini-altar on my bedside.

there was always a candle lit up for the daily bible readings and prayers.  but today, there were three because it was already the third week of advent.  as i prayed the rosary, i got to stare as the wicks swayed in a synchronized fashion.  as expected, the melted wax trickled down, like tears flowing down one’s cheeks.  this time however, instead of them running to the base of the candle, they jumped off from the tip of the glass to the tabletop where violet drops lay, waiting to be scraped off when i’m done with my prayers.

however, even before i was through, i decided to let them stay. for one, these teenie-weenie candle droplets taught me a lesson as my eyes remained glued to them long after the prayers were over.

we bought these new candles: three violets, one pink and one white, and placed them on used glass containers within which, melted candle laid.  using a small kitchen knife, i carefully scraped a cylinder in the middle of each glass, just enough for the new candles to fit and stand firm, and saved a space around them where the melted wax would eventually flow and gather.  the bottom end of each new candle was heated over a lighter flame so it would stick to the base where the candle would then stand.  after the preparations, the advent candles majestically stood there, all five of them, and i am certain they would serve their purpose all throughout the season.

but why these droplets on the side table? i was careful to make enough space and depth to catch each of them.  so where did i go wrong? i kept wondering why, until i realized i see life much like the tears of the candle.  no matter how meticulously you plan so that your future would be solid as a rock, there really is no guarantee it would be.  we can stand securely in our glass containers and firmly stick to our base, but we will never know when the table would be shaken or if the wind would suddenly blow our flames away.  you may think life sucks when that happens.  but then that’s one truth that we have to accept.  we may have power as the candle when it lights up,  but we can never have control over what lies beyond.  only God does.

 when we were born into this world, God lit our lives to shine, so that others may see the glory of his power in us.  life is not about us, it is all about God.  when things get out of hand and we messed up with the life that he gave, so that the light that we have seem to fade away, all we have to do is to surrender. let Him take over.  only He decides if He would scrape the violet droplets… or let them stay to teach a lesson to others, so that we may glorify Him in our own tears.

a boy named CJ

“And He said:’I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself  like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’  And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”   Matthew 18:3-5

once in a while, i stumble upon stories of real people that deeply touch my heart.  even after the stories end.  this morning, i met a beautiful child named CJ.

his father, benette, who works abroad and was about to celebrate his birthday, called home and talked to his son, CJ.  he asked his father to look for his gift when he comes home for vacation in his ‘aparador‘. father and son also talked about plans to celebrate his sister Camille’s birthday and CJ’s becoming an altar boy, and eventually a priest someday.  the conversation was really sweet and touching, as detailed by benette in his facebook account.

that same night, tragedy struck. CJ was ran over and back by a ten-wheeler truck.  half of his frail body was crushed. he was with two of his cousins, Melai whose right arm was seriously injured and Melvin who was pushed by CJ to save him.  this happened three years ago.

it’s really hard to lose someone we love.  but to lose him unexpectedly and in a really gruesome way is even harder.  i recently lost dear loved ones recently too – my daddy, my childhood friend and best friend roobee, my aunts: tita fortune, tita estela and auntie bebeng, dearest friends boeing and eugene.  though really painful until now, i draw strength from the sweet memories they left behind.

but now, the parents of this little angel are still grieving, not only for the loss of their precious son.  but also for the elusive justice that they seek.  indeed as Catholics, we are taught to forgive.  but what is there to forgive, when the sinner does not repent? and where is peace, when there is no justice? 

i write this by God’s grace, so that readers may join hands in prayer to find justice for CJ and his family… to hope that this tragedy would never happen again to any family… and that  a boy named CJ would finally rest in peace.

things are not always what they seem

“When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat.  They were frightened but he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’

Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.”  John 6:19-21

things are not always what they seem. 

when a husband prefers fishing on weekends, he hates to be with his family.  truth is, he just needs quiet time and a stress-reducing activity after a week of rush assignments and impossible deadlines.

when the house is in turmoil, used dishes are in the sink and the baskets are overflowing with laundry, the wife is just plain lazy.   truth is, she is too ill to get out of bed.

when a daughter forgets to text or call back, she doesn’t love her dad and mom anymore.  truth is, she is practically in a rush to get the subjects she needs to enrol for summer classes.

when a son spends more time with the computer than with people, he is anti-social.  truth is, he is just plain bored or just wanted to reach out to family and friends and stay in touch.

when we get old, it is the end.  truth is, it is the time when wisdom comes of age and the fullness of life blossoms.

when your dream house is almost within your reach and still lose it, you are such a LOSER.  truth is, you don’t really need it.

when there’s no cash in the bank, then all else is lost.  truth is, God provides us with what we need. 

when all plans don’t push through, you’re such a failure.  truth is, God has better ideas.

when you are all alone, no one really cares. truth is, God is always with us.

truth is, things are not always what they seem.

i don’t know if it was a serious case of pre-menopausal syndrome, but i’d been through a hell of a week.  i thought this, i thought that.  i feared this, i feared that. i worried about this, i worried about that.  what a waste of precious time!

the past week really started great.  we were able to watch the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration live on tv.  the message was TRUST and PEACE. and bhoy and i felt so blessed to be able to take part in spirit with this special mass commemorating the golden jubilee of the National Shrine for the Divine Mercy* and the life of  St. Maria Faustina of Kowalska. 

but as the week progressed, and the real world sucked me right back in,  i ran round and round again to look  for my happy old self from other people, places and things.  i looked for me in me.  but neither did i find me there.  i kept telling bhoy that i feel sad, and i didn’t even know why or where it all came from.  by midweek, i gave up and just let everything be. 

there was one constant though, that i failed to see because i was extremely obsessed with my self-inflicted ordeal.  and that constant is GOD.  and i failed to absorb the message of the Divine Mercy.  TO TRUST IN JESUS, THE KING OF MERCY.

like the apostles, i was frightened too.  but when i see Jesus and let him into my boat, i am sure i will find what i was looking for.  and realize that what i was looking for was always there afterall. 

to borrow the words of St. Teresa of Avila “Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes. God never changes. Patience obtains all. Whoever has God, wants for nothing. God alone is enough.”

as another week begins, my simple life goes on as it did before.  there’s really nothing to look for afterall.  everything that i need, God provides.  people to love, things to do and blessings to share.  even trials to make me strong.  what more can i ask for?   GOD ALONE IS ENOUGH.

* for more details about the devotion to the Divine Mercy, please go to http://thedivinemercy.org

no looking back

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind…No more shall there be an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a  hundred years old shall be accursed.  They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”  Isaiah 65: 17, 20-21

how ironic it was, that during Lent, “surviving Christmas” was on tv last night.  there was not much of a choice, because for weeks now, the different networks had presented almost the same set of movies, just on different time slots.

going back to the movie…it starred Ben Affleck and Christina Applegate.  it was a comedy about a man who was willing to pay a huge amount of money to a family just to spend Christmas with him.  it was an odd story, and it got me bored after a while.  (i prefer Ben in action or drama like ‘reindeer games’ and ‘changing lanes’.)

but somehow, the scene in which he stared sadly outside his window on Christmas morning caught my attention.    drew (ben) watched other people in their respective windows just across his  apartment.  one thing is common except for one. they celebrated Christmas together as family.  and that scene moved me to tears because it reminded me of daddy and how our following Christmases will never be the same again without him.

as i remembered how sad it was, my mind travelled back to the time when he was still with us.  how i have been as a daughter to him.  and i wondered if i felt short of his expectations of me.  or if he was proud of what i had become.  how daddy really felt about his eldest daughter, i will never ever know.

i realized that when my mind wanders back to the past, it evokes a certain kind of pain.  the pain which emanates from the mistakes that i made.  or maybe call them bad choices.  because only later did i realize, that in everything that i did, there were times that things didn’t really work out as planned.  even with good intentions.  and in every moment that they didn’t, it was not only me who gets disappointed and hurt.  but all those who truly love and care for me.  such as my daddy and mommy.

funny to mention it here.  but they say it’s hard to look back when you have stiff neck.  i’d say it’s best not to look back at all.  because when i do, i see every detail of not only what was beautiful and happy, but the ugly and sad truth as well.

i’d say it’s best to carry on.  because the past had already served its purpose.  it already strengthened a person’s character.  it already developed one’s personality.  and it already enhanced the beauty of a human being, so much so that its soul transcends to a higher level.  and a deeper meaning of one’s existence is realized.  a better self evolves.  what was once a dark past, becomes a radiant present.

i’d say i move on. as if i have stiff neck.  by God’s grace and mercy, i move on as a better person… that is, an authentic blend of past experiences, lessons learned and memories that really matter.  be they happy or sad, painful or sweet. 

there’s no need to look back.  my significant past becomes the essence of me…

for one more day

“…let the weakling say ‘I am strong!'”  Joel 3:10

they say grief is a process.  there’s no standard measure for how long it would take.  they say you would know the value of someone or something, only when you lose it.  old cliche.  they say we can’t really tell how it’s like until we go through it.

forty days it has been since Daddy passed on.  if i could describe how the process is like, it may be like a twister and i was sucked right into it.  there were times i would be spinning along the edges.  almost free, yet in danger of being thrown out.  there were moments too, when i find myself right in the center of it, empty and lost.  how long would it last? only God can tell.

the trouble with grief is, there is no school where to learn and master it.  very seldom would we want to read about it.  the learning starts when the pain begins, and oftentimes no one is ever ready.

we thought we were ready to let go of Daddy.  we had like about five months to witness how his body deteriorated from an old man to a helpless fusion of just skin and bones.  but when the time came, we realized no one in the family is prepared to ever let him go.

he is gone now.  we thought it would end there. just to think he is now free from pain and suffering.  just to think he is now at peace at the end of his journey.  but for those he left behind, another chapter begins.

life will never be the same again for me.  i know indeed it is measured by the years we live.  each year consists of months.  and months of days.  365 days.  yet one day can be so important, it can change the rest of our lives forever.

that was what happened on the 21st of December.  it was part of God’s grand plan for Daddy that he has to go exactly on that day.  but until now, i cannot take it that i missed that one very important day.  just one more day, when i could have been with him as he breathe his last.  not that i would have prevented it to happen.  but for me to feel the pain of one very important day slipping at the palm of my hands, yet a day less for Daddy to endure more than he ever could.   that was part of God’s grand plan too. 

indeed, grief is a painful process that each of us who love and care deeply would go through sometime in our lives.  one in which we would learn that life must not be measured by the days in which we live.  but by the love  we spread around. 

for one more day,  i will try to find my way out of the twister i am in.  with hope that one day, God would heal the wounds of my broken heart.

missing Daddy

“Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.” Psalm 24:4

Daddy

bhoy was packing his diapers and wipes.  we were told he needed them more than the usual pasalubong of his favorite chocolate bars and chocolate drink.

but we were a day too late.  Daddy passed away on the 21st of december 2009.  suddenly, the holiday season we were supposed to come home to and celebrate with the family, was never the same again.

Daddy was eagerly waiting for us.  i was told he was staring at each face as if he was trying to see if we finally arrived.  he wanted to stay on, but he was already too much in pain.  in fact, he was already too weak to even wait for one more day.  and as mommy left for just a minute to go to the comfort room, and ella dozed off for almost the same time, the angel of death sneaked in, and took Daddy away…forever.

no words can ever describe the overwhelming fusion of emotions.  no amount of tears can ever wash away the pain. no length of time can ever make me forget.  and not even death can take away the love we have for Daddy.

last family picture taken complete with Daddy in 2008

i know i have never said this to him, though i really wish i could have.  but i love him very much. more than he’ll ever know.  

as we take the flight back to khobar, and as the lights in the plane were turned off,  the tears rolled on my cheeks as the memories of my whole life unfold.  i realized i am me because of Daddy.  and i will never be the same again without him.

it’s going to be a lonely journey from hereon. but i believe that God knows what’s best for all of us, and that my fervent prayer will always be that by God’s grace and mercy, Daddy rests in His loving embrace free from all the pain and suffering of this world.

thank you Daddy.

for my life, for your love, and the fish flower plates…

an answered prayer

“And He took them up in His arms, put His hand upon them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16

yesterday, my son’s geometry teacher called me on my mobile and asked me to take a cab to school and take him to the hospital.  i tried my best to calm down, as i thought about how to possibly heed the call.  bhoy was still miles away from a meeting in jubail, and there was nobody in our office to drive me to the school.

even if there was, a woman is forbidden here to ride in a car with a man other than her husband.  and to take a cab is very risky and equally dangerous, and would probably create more trouble.  so i really had no option but to wait anxiously for bhoy to finally get hold of miguel, and do whatever was necessary.  it was hard enough to learn that my son was in an emergency situation.  but it was harder to be just pinned down on my seat and not be able to do anything for him.

as i waited in agony, i opened the page on which i saved the prayer card of St. Josemaria Escriva (thanks zita!) and just prayed for his intercession.  i remembered that when situations get out of hand, i just let go and let God.  yes i got really worried as i heard the concerned voice of my son’s teacher, but as i began to pray, a deep sense of calm took over.  then i knew that miguel was going to be alright.  less than an hour later, bhoy called and said they were already in the parking lot waiting for me.  not to go the hospital, but home.  miguel was already well and good.

they say God never says “no” to our prayers.  He just responds in varying, but always positive ways.  i believe so too.  He either answers  “YES” right away, or sometimes He will say “MAYBE SOME OTHER TIME“.  on other circumstances, He will tell us “I HAVE A BETTER IDEA”.

when daddy was recently diagnosed with the big PC, we began to pray so hard for him.  even begged God to make him well again.  although we know that a miracle would be necessary, we still continue to pray.  and it is amazing how, when we pray deeply enough, we lose ourselves to the divine presence of the Lord.  so powerful yet so tender that nothing else would ever come close to us.  only His loving assurance that everything will be taken care of.  and that everything will be alright.

it is also noteworthy how “unanswered prayer” and “an answered prayer” sound almost exactly the same. the difference lies on the strength of our faith in the absolute and divine power of God, and our constant communion with Him in every aspect of our daily lives.

we usually pray in the morning as we start our day.  before and after meals.  at night, before we go to sleep.  during sunday mass or novena days.  but to be in prayer doesn’t really need a schedule.  nor does it require an appointment with God.  anytime is prayer time. if we only learn to place our lives in God’s ever holy presence, then there’s always time and space for prayer. 

our prayers for daddy will go on.  and on. and on. no matter what. for we know deep in our hearts, the Lord already gave His answer… long before we even prayed for it.

(you may get the prayer card of  St. Josemaria Escriva at www.opusdei.org)

manny pacquiao vs. zoladex

“now the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  Romans 15:13  

 there’s no turning back now. daddy is finally in the forefront of the battlefield called cancer.  he is in the first line of painful attacks which began to radiate to his back now; all the way to those who care for him.  because when we realize that he is in pain, we can almost feel his suffering too.   perhaps not in physical terms.  nonetheless, it is way too consuming.  it slowly eats away whatever courage we have gathered. 

 they say cancer is a painful disease.  i know that it is. but how painful can it possibly be? i guess even those who are afflicted cannot exactly equate with words.  daddy is already old and weak.  the doctors said it is no longer advisable for him to undergo surgery.  so we’re left with lesser options, yet relatively effective as well. 

 in this corner, is Manny Pacquiao. 

 so how did he got into the middle of this fierce battle that is my dad’s?  first of, there’s no longer any need to explain who manny pacquiao is, what with his 7  boxing titles and millions of dollars not to mention his new diamond studded belt.  likewise, we’ve already heard how every time manny pacquiao had major fights abroad, the Philippines experience zero crime rate.  and how ironic that during his fights, the nation unites as one solid pinoy country. YOU KNOW 🙂 (that’s manny’s famous line)

 

Pacquiao-with-WBC-Diamond-Belt-300x226
Manny Pacquiao

yesterday was no exception. every filipino in every corner of the archipelago and the world as well, was glued to the tv, internet or radio, if not that fortunate enough to sit on the ringside, to witness every punch thrown and received by pacman.  daddy was that filipino.  he never missed any pacman bout on tv, and i can say he is really a fan.  but yesterday was special.  aside from the usual peace that a pacquiao fight brings, manny brought into our family something more precious than money can buy.  as daddy watched manny’s fight, daddy forgot he has a fight of his own.  mommy said, it was as if his pain was gone.  i recall the times past when he would watch with such eagerness and excitement.  i can just imagine how manny brought my daddy back to his old self;  when he was young and well, even if for just 12 rounds.  and for that, i salute you manny.

in the other corner is Zoladex.   

 “zoladex relieves some symptoms of  advanced prostate cancer in men and advanced breast cancer in premenopausal women.  it reduces the levels of testosterone in men and estrogen in women.  the hormones mentioned are said to encourage the growth of certain cancers. ” – from www.healthsquare.com

 

zoladex
zoladex

The following adverse events were reported in greater than 1%, but less than 5% of patients treated with ZOLADEX 10.8 mg implant every 12 weeks. Some of these are commonly reported in elderly patients. 

 WHOLE BODY – Abdominal pain, Back pain, Flu syndrome, Headache, Sepsis, Aggravation reaction

CARDIOVASCULAR – Angina pectoris, Cerebral ischemia, Cerebrovascular accident, Heart failure, Pulmonary embolus, Varicose veinsDIGESTIVE – Diarrhea, HematemesisENDOCRINE – Diabetes mellitus HEMATOLOGIC – AnemiaMETABOLIC – Peripheral edemaNERVOUS SYSTEM – Dizziness, Paresthesia, Urinary retentionRESPIRATORY – Cough increased, Dyspnea, Pneumonia SKIN – Herpes simplex, PruritusUROGENITAL – Bladder neoplasm, Breast pain, Hematuria, Impotence, Urinary frequency, Urinary incontinence, Urinary tract disorder, Urinary tract infection, Urination impaired. ” – from www.rxlist.com

today, daddy will have his first zoladex implant.  based on the side effects noted, we fear that the worse is yet to come.  in fact,  the adverse events mentioned seem far more terrifying than the disease itself.  but if it’s any consolation it is said that “symptoms may actually get worse during the first few weeks of therapy. however, as hormone levels subside, the patient should begin to feel an improvement” – from www.healthsquare.com

whatever the outcome of daddy’s treatment, in three months he is scheduled for another implant.  we’re not sure also, if manny pacquiao will decide to fight anew in three months. but one thing is certain, zoladex and pacman brings hope to daddy.  momentary hope that lasts maybe for 12 rounds or three months.

but then again there is a hope that springs eternal.  and that hope is our Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour… our Healer.  He is my daddy’s doctor.