Friday, July 13, 2007

My Kind of Transformer

My kind of transformer
You're off again to Indonesia
Exported without a better choice
For you and your bashful son.

It took years
Before you finally gave in to our friendship
It was good I didn't give up on you
And your dense, calculated manner
Fashioned from your cross breed
Of Assumption and Ateneo de Manila.

We were only cordial and that's how it was
You were such a snob
Not a course in Cebu could change that
You have your own impression of me
And I couldn't care less
I have my own perception of you
So to each our own high horses.

I crafted a course in environment
Back when very few minded it
And with it, you started liking me.

Thanks to our common interest
For the mangroves, the coral reefs,
For the uplands and the indigenous-
Our polar ice melted.

Besides we like trailblazing
Scaling Banaue, Palawan, Bukidnon,
Discovering Davao. Bohol, Cagayan De Oro
Romancing Rome, Japan and SEA
Without new sights, we're no smart alecks.

We clicked with the obscure and the obscene
We defied and accepted
Then suddenly you became spiritual
Your transformation was unbelievable
No matter how short lived.

You were striking up once more
You questioned faith and brushed-off heavens
Pronouncing your doubts
And petitioning with an attitude
With a careful thought
I would have done the same for a son.

No ordinary friend can see
Your diffidence and difference
Yet face it
You are a rebel no more
Time did tame
And did transform you enigmatically.

Monday, July 9, 2007


I used to have an efficient helper in my household. For more than three years, she took care of my kids and the other stuff at home which I can't meticulously attend to due to my work. When I gave birth to my second child, she was the next biggest blessing that came to me. She was a mom of three and I was confident I can leave my newborn son and my eldest to her care every time I needed to be out of the house.

Where I go, she goes with me and the kids. She bonded with the children like her very own and I never treated her any lesser than a family. I didn't mind giving her a generous pay for someone who can be my good substitute in running the house especially when I know that she's supposed to take care of her own kids but had to leave them for the money.

How she got to me was another story. She run away from her own home and was in custody by my in-laws who kept her from an alcoholic husband who mauled her day and night. She left her two daughters and a son because she couldn't bear the molestations she had to endure for years.

When she was with us, I hardly saw her drop a tear. Maybe she was numb or done with the drama. She was just glad to be fending for her kids and slowly, she started renewing her relationship with her family. She takes time off with us during Christmas and summer breaks. That was the routine for several years until she got pregnant with her fourth child and had no choice but to go home.

My grown-up kids and I made sure we see her whenever we visited the province. She was ok and looked with content raising her kids.

Until last Saturday, I got a call from her eldest who was the brightest of her children and gave me the sad news. Her mother is now in Balintawak and she is also now in Manila. She has turned herself into a domestic helper and gave up her studies. They have fled home because her father is now on remission- back to his old ways and has even worsened- totally alcohol dependent and violent.

In an instant, I offered whatever is best for her-to stay with us and to study. I knew her mother's dreams to educate her so she could get a decent job and avoid the tragedy her mother suffered. By the sound of her voice, I could tell she wasn't ok. I was calming her down but she wasn't listening. She was hurrying up for fear she might be caught using the phone by her strict employer and her words were in a flash.

I'm in a daze thinking about their condition. I don't know why she had to be a maid herself. I don't know why this had to be a vicious cycle for the mother and daughter who try hard to swim out of poverty. Why can't people just be nice and bother really to care for someone else's lives rather than drag others to wallow with them in a grave six feet under which they have yet to perpetually occupy?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Speaking in Different Tongues

While I was at the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, I took up French for two years and a few months of Spanish to reinforce the basics I learned at the University. Years after getting familiar with UN's major languages, I took Nihongo only for conversation purposes when I had my training there. Isn't that cool?

The irony, I'd say, in this learning foreign languages is that we seldom get to immerse ourselves in the countries where these are considered their mother tongue. My friend, took French and Bahasa Indonesia for her graduate course in Asian Studies but got posted in Russia. Some took Mandarin and are sent to the US. Neat.

Now, my kids are taking Mandarin as part of school curriculum and I barely know it! So my son is asking me to help him write Chinese Characters with strokes that are so strange to me! Talk about speaking in different tongues. The school maybe thought of how China is shaping the future and they might as welll prepare the students to take advantage of its market going in rapid progress with the globalization (and the Olympics fever in 2008) even if my kids' school is not Chinese at all!

Well, this means I have to ride the tide and learn Mandarin, too.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Not Interested

My friend came to me asking for help or just wanting to be heard. She said the man he's been exclusively been in touch with for a couple of years has suddenly turned cold to her. She gave many explanations and was on the right frame of mind explaining her case but she was still obviously holding on to a piece of hope that she's sensing it all wrong.

She's got it all right. She established all her assumptions correctly and concluded with the accurate answers leading to a door she's not willing to take yet- out.

My friend is absolutely in denial that she can no longer rouse the feelings of her man anymore -no matter how much effort she puts.

Dump the guy, I told her, as the love has probably faded due to a reality where my friend is no longer a part of. I hesitated to tell more as she values the person much to convince her to get a life of her own. After all that man is not even at par with her- looks, intelligence and attitude wise. Why does she have to act like that guy is worth keeping? Who told her that a rubbish should be kept sticking on a body when it is actually meant to be rubbed off?

If he's not interested then she ought not to be interested, too, while it's still early and they haven't forged a lifetime commitment. Holding on to someone who is no longer interested is such a pathethic state. The best revenge my friend should do is to collect herself well and let that man drool eventually for losing a total woman like her. I just hope she's listening.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Extraordinary Journey

MalacaƱang Palace is heavily guarded by marines, army, navy and the presidential security guards. More to these human warriors watching the palace, it’s also fortified and surrounded by churches.

There’s St. Jude Parish where thousands of sweating people (humid due) squeeze their way every Thursday to the Saint of the Hopeless who hardly fails to intercede to those resolutely determined.

San Miguel Shrine is westbound. The image of St. Michael with his mighty sword to be lanced at the serpent he’s crushing will be your first sight if you happen to drop by the Shrine. Inside it are more angels – Saints Gabriel, Jhudiel, Rafael, Barachiel as far as I can remember. This, too, is the church that gives the Sacrament of Confirmation on a weekly basis.

The Basilica of San Sebastian is hard to miss with its gothic architecture. Its detailed pointed arches, steep roofs and all-steel structure (in Asia) serve as teaser to an interior that’s defined with elegance and modishness.

A few meters from MalacaƱang is San Beda Church. Of Spanish architecture, this edifice is a place of content. There’s no question that you’ll be awestruck with the design and captivated with how it’s meticulously crafted. If you’re one interested in hand painted ceilings, then I’m sure you’ll have a stiff neck for admiringly checking what’s up there. If you’re the ogle type, you’d see the presence of San Beda NCAA players with the unassuming Manny Pangilinan on the side of the altar. While the choir is simply breathtaking.

If you’re in Manila with free time and craving for spiritual nourishment, San Beda Church is one jewel place you must pay homage to. For more than 3 years now, Fr. Ed Africa, has been celebrating the 11 am to 12 noon mass (except when he’s overseas) and he is superb. He inspires without being too preachy and takes his regular attendees to awakenings beyond the liminal space.

Do bring your loved ones with you for this brief but extraordinary journey. And yes, see you!