Monday, October 20, 2008

Keeping Quiet

For a title, I immediately thought of "Keeping Quiet" and then I backspaced and typed "Silence" until I reverted to what came first in mind. Is there a difference between the two when both words have been interchangeably used to keep you still by your teachers when you were in school? I found out that quiet is up a notch to silence. Quiet is more comprehensive that takes calmness, stillness and peace altogether compared to noiseless definition of silence.

I have kept quiet and I have been silent for the many events that happened to me in the past. I have always been better attuned with my core when doing so. When you have that feeling of ebbing away or being overwhelmed, you just stop talking. I did.

At one point, I was in awe that I feared sharing something beautiful that's so good I might lose it abruptly. There's also a point when I was in great disbelief that I preferred to keep quiet. I'm not alone. I'm sure you did too. Like pensive, cautious-minded people, I was silently reflecting, putting away what could have beens and getting back on track, leaving behind the blurry lines of the past. Instead I looked forward to the silverlinings in the horizon that every cloudy weathered journey brings.

Silence for grown-ups is like solving a puzzle when you figure out what answer would best fit without having to talk every so often. It's telling everyone that you are ok even with a little discomfort somewhere that you are managing to ease out. For kids, it's the gentle reassurance that all else will be ok- in time.

Silence is stillness and keeping quiet is minding collective inner peace. Both, to me, are images of retreat to a sanctuary that renews calmness, tact and peace. Keeping quiet is faith in action and that should put everything to rest.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beloved


BELOVED (22 July 2008)
Martha's gone
The family's mourning
Came from her wake this morning
Her unconditional love will be well paid-off in heaven
She's heading there.
Back home
There were flowers delivered
My niece asked, "Is it for Martha?"
My mother thought so too.
They said it was for me
I could only guess from whom
Men love surprises.
I saw it from afar
It was like one for Martha
Getting nearer, it couldn't be a morbid joke
Not with two dozens of roses from Designer Blooms
The card read, "To my beloved, happy birthday"
It was sweet
I appreciated the thoughtfulness, the gesture.
His love defied bounds and distance.
But the wake must have gotten into me
For this lukewarm feeling
Isn't it when one has departed his beloved for a time
It cannot or better not be resurrected?
Beloved I was. I know.
Beloved I am. Maybe.
Beloved I will. Uncertain.
Rouse me.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Vulture’s Prey

“I worshipped Baba with an intensity approaching the religious. But right then, I wished I could open my veins and drain his cursed blood from my body.”

The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini


He came inside the room with his head hung low, trailing his mother. He is applying to be a Grade 5 transferee. His report card, hand carried by his mother indicated that he will be a repeater. He is 14-yr. old and his body language speaks of shame and sadness. He seems surrendered to any chance he could have to be in a new school.

I informed his mother to be back after an hour of interview and admission testing. She said she will stay in the room. I reiterated that as a testing procedure, she must leave her son. She was still sitting on the couch, gazing at me as if telling me why she is reluctant to step out. I met her stare with a replied look that the one-hour testing is not going to cause harm to her son.

I wondered what could have caused this boy’s delay.

His sister stopped schooling for a year as punishment of his father to his sister’s romantic tryst. He and his brother were not spared from the wrath his sister earned. I was alarmed to hear that. He continued that the plan of his father when he gets to high school is to enroll him to a home study program allowing him only lesser number of hours to study. Throughout the interview, he kept talking with eyes on the floor and his head downcast. With each awkward moment, I’d pause and ask him to look at me and he managed only one or two quick looks.

Actually, his businessman father does not want him to go to school anymore. He said it’s a waste of effort. He is resigned to the boy’s fate. If not for his mother’s persuasion, there won’t be another chance for him to study.

The boy displayed a waning self-esteem. He may have a learning disability or may be perceived as a slow learner, he wouldn’t know. His parents’ expectation weighed on him. By his father’s judgment, he is no good. Can there still be wonders to be expected of him if he is treated like a recluse mutant?

At 14, the world shouldn’t be harsh to him. Not in his own home. His being different, by standard, makes him already ashamed of himself. His father who is to give solace is too cold, too detach to feel. To be ridiculed even in school casts him on a bleak canvas. A child is na├»ve but never unfeeling. He can sense when he is truly wanted or when his trusted people have given up on him. All he needs is a clutch of gentleness, a feed of good word and a stroke of constant encouragement to soar. Redemption is to the vulture’s prey. He can’t alone. He can if help comes his way.

Monday, May 12, 2008

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE





THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE

“Nobody understands when a woman makes a choice to marry and have children. In one way, her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details but you just stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave, they take your life of details with them.

You’re expected to move on again but you don’t remember what it was that moved you because no one’s asked you in so long…Not even yourself.”

MERYL STREEP
Bridges of the Madison County Movie


The nurse handed her baby. She was heavy with milk and for the first time, she will feed her little one. The baby latched on to her for what only she can give. This is one of the wonders of life, she thought, that in between the pain and the joy of nursing is the acknowledgment that giving birth means losing herself for the baby on her cradle.

Years passed and many vaccinations witnessed, she quietly finds bliss in raising not a child but brood of her own. Motherhood is the sum of her sleepless nights, resourceful days and incessant prayers for her children in school (eventually at work), away from her.

To raise her children soundly, a mother’s character includes endurance and ability to bounce back to every pain she faces. She hides her discomfort and shrugs her fears to embolden her children to dream big. Her traces of uncertainty are revealed to her children as cautionary tales to anticipate the worst in the course of finding opportunities.

There are stage mothers who build fortress to protect their children. There are nagging mothers to children who refuse to listen. There are absentee mothers who work overseas for a living. Having any of the above type is better than not experiencing any kind of mothering.

Some mothers discard their would-be-babies even before they’ve come to full cycle of life while some abandon them right after they were born. There are abusive types of mothers, too, who are tyrants to their own children. In the sly pretense of goodness, did they ever yield to their conscience to alter their behaviors? All Mothers, after all, are work in progress. They evolve to become the best fit guardians they are supposed to be for their children.

A mother has the keen ability to feel her children and to know their weakest. Because she instinctively knows well, she blows through each of them. Her remarks matter even if it sounds obscure. Time can prove that she is her daughter’s complement and her son’s counselor. A mother is worth every gesture of gratefulness, not in her twilight years but while she can still smell the flowers.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I AM HIM


I AM HIM

When the blue night is over my face
On the dark side of the world in space
When I'm all alone with the stars above
You are the one I love.
So there's no need to worry girl
My heart is sealed for you
And no one's gonna take it away
Coz I promise you girl
I promise you this.

Blue Night Chorus, Michael Learns to Rock


A journey with papa, short or long, means listening to Michael Learns to Rock songs with Blue Night as his favorite and mine for the past year or two.

When I was in elementary and high school, his loud wake up song would be “Obladi-oblada, life goes on…yeah, la-la-la, life goes on…” When he sees me walking out of the bedroom, he would carry and waltz me even if I’m half-asleep. Maybe because of his overseas work, he never wasted translating his yearnings in his letters to vivid pictures of love and pride when he’s home.

My father must be trying to sleep by now (3:00 a.m., 26 April 2008) while having difficulty to catch up one like I do. In a few hours (7:00 a.m.), he will undergo a surgical operation (his first time in 65 yrs.) for an illness he dismissed as bouts of his ulcer. Three weeks ago, we found out it was colon cancer, stage 2. Since he has been diagnosed, the rushes of thoughts about him come flooding uncontrollably.

A month ago, he gave me a ride on the way to school. We saw a girl who must be eight years old, carrying a pail and a weighing scale quite heavy. She was beside her mother who was pushing her cart of fish for sale. Papa said the little child reminded him of himself. As a young boy, he would go out to sell their homegrown vegetables. His older and wiser brother was his barker while he carried the trade.

His humble beginnings have been instilled in me and my brother’s psyche- from the time he set foot to Manila from Cagayan Valley to work at Weinstein Pianos so he could pay for his college studies. He became a civil engineer and left for a number of countries to fend for us.

People say I am papa’s female version. I look like him. When my mother would reprimand me, she would compare my stubborn traits to papa’s own. I am him alright. I am his moderated version.

Papa gave much to us through the years. When he decided to stay in the country for good, he penny pinched. He kept to himself when he wasn’t feeling well and ignored his sickness. He needs to work. I would remember him saying. He doesn’t want to bother anyone as much as possible.

Behind his strictness, quick temperament and frankness, is a soft-hearted, single-minded, generous, and thoughtful man who would insist on his healing, not for himself but for us.

May his health be restored and he, be faith-filled.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WHEN FLOWERS BLOOM

I wrote this for my principal (a priest) for our last newsletter for the SY 2007-2008.

-----

Dear Parents,

To nurture is a responsibility that takes time and patience. Most plants grow best if showered with sunlight, pruned with care, watered every day and nourished with fresh air. It doesn’t happen over night.

Our students, your children, undergo a similar cycle of caring in school. They entered school with nothing but expectations to learn and, gladly, they have sponge-like minds ready to absorb many things from their teachers and their classmates. Over time, they went beyond ABCs and have accelerated from simple to complex mathematical computations, dealing with analysis and comprehension as well as shifting with ease from Filipino to English language. It is quite a challenge that was made possible because of your steadfast support and consistent nurturing of your children.

We are thankful to see that your children have successfully completed another school year. We are proud that this school year ushers another batch of graduates who are gearing up to take on new heights as incoming first year high school students.

Together with you, we may have a long and winding road to tread in raising Christ-centered children but we take it with a re-assuring faith that all good things are possible especially when we act with a clear purpose of molding values-laden children.

The season has changed anew. Summer is here now. Aside from the family adventures that you are planning with the kids, it is also the time for them to do household chores, to give away old clothes/toys, to recycle things, and to conserve water, energy and other resources we use. Each of us must be a responsible caretaker and protector of this amazing planet.

As witnesses to many fruitful summers, we have welcomed all sorts of pleasant and unexpected changes. We have become better persons by caring for others. We have fun growing with children. We have seen how the kids, like the buds, have radiantly blossomed into flowers. When flowers bloom, out of love and nurturing, we all should take pride.

Enjoy the summer vacation!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Saying Thanks (for parents and the selfless)


At times when articles come in trickles and you have a space to fill, you let your imagination play to finally meet a deadline to distribute the schoolpaper. On the picture is Rykiel, a Grade VI student, and her mother. Rykiel frequents my nook when she wants to air out sentiments. She and her mom have their own story to tell.

******************************
Thanks for the joy of life
Thanks for the sleepless nights
The ordinary turns unforgettable
As long as I have you
Holding my hands and soothing my fears
For all that you have gone through for me, thank you.

So many hours of me
Kept you from minding your own life,
Doubled by all the days and nights of worries about my future
Then I misbehaved and disobeyed
Not knowing that you will be hurt
Never did you make me feel less in spite
There you were, counting the joys and reassuring me
Wiping the tears of your little kid no more
This voice inside me meant to say thank you.

Thanks for the rules you set
Thanks for the grown up talks
That makes sense
I wonder how I could be just like you
Unassuming, so giving and forgiving
I take pride that you are tough to stand by me
And gentle to keep me under your care
My heart yearns to thank you.

Thanks for loving me without any cost
Thanks for showing me courage without revenge
Your examples are deep within
Unbreakable principles that I will try to live by
For giving life its worth, I thank you.

Thanks for seeing me all these years
Thanks for the selfless you
Resilient even in pain
When everyone comes and goes
You never fade, you always stay
Thank you sincerely.


Monday, February 11, 2008

SEPTEMBER CHESS

This is a skillful play
Where you strike the opening move
And imagination is in display
With the tempo to prove
This game is the way
To treasure-trove.

Move the pawn
Take the rhythm
To opponent’s lawn
Wide-eyed to wit you gleam.

Your bishop a step forward
She follows on the verse
Her moves are wayward
The interest is high not terse.

The rules are played neatly
Making ample time
To weigh pros and cons carefully
And mark exchanges with rhyme.

There is strategy in place
It becomes difficult to break defenses
When circumspection runs at ace
There is focus, minding the consequences.

The goal is to win the game
Without deceit
To avoid adversary, it’s played the same
You both adjust warding off defeat.

In front is a heavy piece
A sealed good move
For a checkmate
Or a stalemate, the least.

A thinker like you
Is no match to an amateur like her
As this pursuit is not out of the blue
True, you are the champ for her.

This game is yours
She triumphs in a way
Having you as a match, of course
Rare as it may for you again will go away.