An Unforgettable Kind

His aura spelled of a bracing formidable substance and he was possessed of strong muscles. But he had always sat on his wheelchair. He was a paraplegic.

He in his white cotton shirt running on his wheelchair amidst the various vehicles on the busy Kalayaan Avenue of the city had become a regular fixture of my rhythmic existence for a number of years. During walks from my son’s school to my house as part of my workout, I would catch sight of him and witness with awe and some concern the routine plus the perils he’d undergo while completing his daily mission.

No idea of his history. His aloof stance denoted zero probability you’d ever catch him smiling or look at faces or acknowledge anyone around him. With his head partially inclined downward – perhaps to avoid any interaction — his gaze seemed focused only on the floors of the lanes ahead.

Several summers rolled by, I spotted him one day sweeping past our school building while on my way to work. He looked very much the same. Just like before, his eyes were solely fixed on the ground. I decided to cross the street to meet his direction.

Good morning!” I greeted with zest.

He didn’t respond; neither did his head move. He could have been surprised by my deed although he showed no signs of it and simply kept spinning the wheels of his chair. I watched him continue his way down the road.

Surely many others who encountered the man had felt the same way I did. Pity, yes, I couldn’t deny. But it was my admiration for his spirit that won out; I had resolved to let him know one more soul had been recognizing his being.

Weeks had passed when I saw him again from a distance at the same spot. Once more, I aimed to navigate along his path and proceeded to repeat the gesture of greeting him. To my delight, that time around he made a quick glance with an amenable face to say “good morning” to me too. The day indeed turned brighter; a pleasant instance which duplicated two or three more times subsequently.

Through periods when my infrastructure gets questioned by no other than me, or through spans when I get besieged by the thorny events of life, he enters my mind. It’s then that I have to second guess myself for feeling defeated when in battle against the stuffs of survival. With his kind that gets out in the world to show us (luckier ones) that you needn’t lose a sense of purpose despite the odds, how many are there who’ll be able to match such amazing display of strength and perseverance?

Thus it’s become a blessing what he (like my dearest one) has embodied in my life. No chance will I run into him again as I won’t be going to those areas of the city anymore; yet recollections of his image and determination linger every so often.

I don’t think I’ll be forgetting him anytime soon.

 

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Where Do You Get Your Strength?

Geena, don’t fool yourself. Mom and I are perplexed that you have been doing fine and have remained strong despite the most recent crunch you’ve undergone. Other people in your situation could have lost their will to hold on. Where do you think you get your strength? It could only come from God. Not from your own inner core nor from your deep roots everyone believes stems from being our Dad’s daughter. You only have God to give thanks to. So you got to go back to praying and believing.

Words of reminder; sudden powerful pronouncements from my elder sister during our last conversation on the phone. I understand the longevity of her marital state – her highly religious parents-in-law being the chief reason — has turned her into a devout believer.

But this isn’t a post about my atheistic tendencies nor lack of faith thereof as I already stated my “spiritual” convictions in a previous post.

Her impressions about my resources for survival has got me meditating conscientiously, though, I’ve felt the need to record here what has gone through my mind since then.

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In spite of my solid external layer, I am practically no different to a baby when dealing with pain. I am not that durable. Deep inside, I get scared. There are times when I simply want to curl up in bed and sleep for days. . . How debilitating it is to call to mind that the people I can’t live without aren’t in my future any more.

Yet there’s this truth prevailing within me which continues to be the deciding factor for as long as I can remember: I am afraid to die. . . leaving me no choice but to go on.

Having revealed that, there’s also a lot left l intend to enjoy in life. I remember a renowned Filipino artist who once defended his sense of solitariness by saying he simply finds a host of things to savor in this world without the presence of many people around. I was like “yes yes, exactly my own sentiments.” Reading, writing, listening to music, watching movies, walking, dancing, thinking matters through while observing life, my love for animals, the beauty of nature, and a whole abundance of this world’s pleasures; they all continue to provide me joy and dedication.

In point of fact, given enough sleep, I can be invincible.

Most others can’t walk the earth without the constant attendance or approval or reassurance of their family and friends and strangers even — and they get commended for that. The likes of me are adjudged odd and have been lambasted. But I can’t not be true to who I am and what I’m made of. The consolation of turning to the online world which eventually confirmed that my kind is not so rare proved helpful. It’s comforting to perceive I am not alone.

That I”ve always been my own (very) best friend since time immemorial aids in my capacity to normally function for several months since my son has left.

I’ve learned to divide my life by eras because there are things we can’t have room for any more; things that no longer fit; things that now merely belong to our past.

I still feel blessed. I have my occupations together with (I hope and believe) my good health, as well as two or three remaining goals and dreams I’ve yet to fulfill. The absence of unnecessary emotions to trap me — emotions which carry the repercussion of losing my serenity or lead me to a certain level of destruction — has been a blessing, too.

Back to my sister’s question: Where do I get my strength? Honestly, I am not sure. Or maybe I just don’t know.

It could be that another poignant truth I’ve gotten wind of is time indeed sprints on and snatches away everything in its rush. And my time may be running out. Such awareness keeps me carving out my present with a fair sense of purpose. It’s only mandatory to push myself to tread through this life even though its destination is undefined; Without dwelling too much upon our mangled world; without that lingering gaze across the embers of my reality.

So probably I get my strength from the faith that there remain lovely days ahead.

Sometimes, it’s the only way.

An Unforgettable Incident on a Ferry Ride

This happened exactly middle of last year during my two-week vacation.

Ferry ride is not for someone like me with a sissy stomach. Notwithstanding, my sister and I managed to buy food and drinks upon boarding. I chose macaroni and cheese, which appeared delectable, plus a vegetable salad. But as soon as we started eating, the dizziness kicked in, turning the insides of my abdomen upside down.

Taking two tabs of anti-dizzy med, I closed my eyes for several minutes hoping the feeling of nausea would go away. My sister with a more robust stomach likewise took one tablet after munching some burger and french fries. She then decided to discontinue snacking, opting to take a stroll around.

Just leave me here, I’ll be fine.” I assured her before she walked away while I took my tray to sit at a more convenient table in the front.

Hardly a minute had elapsed when I heard movement in the back. Curious, I turned around and saw a man just about to devour what was left of my sister’s meal which were a few fries and half of a sandwich burger. The man was chubby, with a moustache (though decent-looking), and wearing an orange vest. He was probably in his late 30s or early 40s. His veneer hardly gave away the notion he eats passengers’ leftover meals.

Trying not to show surprise, I sat up straight again. My mind, however, was digesting the unexpected sight as it never occurred to me such cases exist in a country like the UK.

Since I couldn’t finish my snack as well, I decided to stand up and leave my table to see what the man would do next. Sure enough, as soon as I reached a certain distance, he placed himself in front of the more recently abandoned food and ate what had remained of my macaroni and cheese – he didn’t touch the vegetables.

He mustn’t have had any money to be able to buy his own meal, I inferred. Yet he was not bothering anyone for some cash so he could feed himself. He’d just sit down quietly and finish uneaten food left behind by ferry travelers and would clean up after he was done. He even seemed embarrassed being caught doing that.

I reached for my purse, looked for something that could buy him a good full meal. Maybe I had a 5 or 10-pound bill to spare him. Alas, I had neither. The minimum inside my purse was a 20-pound bill. I hesitated, estimating the two months’ worth of breakfast/lunch/dinner I could purchase with this money back in my country.

But I am never going to see this person again. There won’t be another chance I could be of one-time help to him,” I convinced myself.

He was already reading a newspaper when I approached him at the same table. I stretched out my hand holding the 20-pound bill. He was stunned for a few seconds. “For me?” he managed to ask. I just nodded without saying anything. An uncomfortable few more seconds ticked by before he finally took the money from my hand, inserted it in his orange-vest pocket and bowed his head down again to continue reading. Maybe he felt a little embarrassed, but I didn’t know how else I could have done it.

I searched for my sister, and told her about the poor man. She subsequently cast a look at him.

A number of hours had already passed when on our way to the hotel she hazarded I must have given the man a little money. I didn’t deny. She asked how much. I told her the truth. She said, “Okay, but that’s equivalent to more or less 2000 in pesos.” I reasoned not having had a lesser denomination in possession.

And he’s probably a mental case,” my sister dismissed.

Hmm, that possibility hadn’t entered my mind.

All the same, I hoped the poor guy was able to buy himself some food with the small amount of money (in London standards) I handed over to him.

A view I took a photo of somewhere in the lovely town of Greenwich, UK.
A view I took a photo of somewhere in the lovely town of Greenwich, UK.

This Is My Home – I’m Here For The Long Run

Even my bloglife is a series of hellos and goodbyes. A blogger who used to figure prominently in my resolve to improve my writing skill some two years ago just decided he’s retiring from his regular postings on WordPress. It took me several months to click open his blog again. Things have changed. But I felt I had to Like his final entry. That much I owed him, in spite of everything.

Recently, I’ve started reading a woman blogger who writes with metaphorical flourish. She reminded me of one or two other female bloggers who uses figure of speech in their writing. The thing is, after reading what this woman had to say, I always ended up thinking, “What a wacko.” Not to mention her belligerence seems to be up in the air all the time. Other than assessing her writing style, there’s nothing much to gain from her blog. And I’ve neither time nor interest to spar with someone like her.

Look, we blog citizens here are under no obligation to anyone. I pretty much don’t get why bloggers, especially the petty women, get up in arms when you do not comment or click Follow as a corollary to visiting their sites. Accuse us of stalking, lurking, whatever. Aren’t we all in this realm? (She previously admitted to being one herself.) There’ll be no consignment on my part, FYI. Unlike most, I’m not here for powerblogging, nor to make money, nor to seek anyone’s approval, nor to merely get attention. If she doesn’t like sharing her blog to others, without strings attached, why not simply take it down? (Just like what I do once in a while whenever privacy weighs more to my sense of well-being.)

It’s much like commitment — which I found out doesn’t work for me here. I need my freedom.

This is why I’m sticking with categorically following blogs of the opposite gender (using only Google bookmark). It’s breezier to have them around.

To commemorate my four years of reading and writing through the comfort of this site, I’ve come up with some word play as a writing exercise. My blog serves as my memoir and journal. Although there’s always considerable discomfort in exposing the contents of my heart and mind, I’m in for the long run.

Serving as my personal time warp — in a transition that never seems to end.

Stuck in a world of crude expressions, colored insights, opinions on the run.

I, however, am trapped in the rapture of words forever.

Still thoughts seeming fresh and fair,

Like the specter in the concrete

the sunshine with the rainbow.

Even when hopes proved false …

From the faint white line

promising of no wit nor eloquence

I’m returning to the land of unstructured narratives,

where messages are misread

manifesting little shame in my emotional constitution.

And a placid existence that tries to reject despair.

So I will write by the candor and strength of my discontent,

slandering traditions,

with a gush of fantasy here and there.

Sustaining what’s left through the perpetuity of words,

I’m here for the long run.

—–

Days In Our Lives

The worst typhoon that has landed Philippine soil (named “Yolanda” domestically, known as “Haiyan” internationally) principally hit the peripheries of the Visayan island and claimed 5,600 human lives. I live in the capital city of the Philippines – located in the island of Luzon – so we residents of Manila hardly felt Yolanda’s barbaric rampage, managing to escape its mission of annihilation early last month.

I listened, however, in horror as my booth operator recounted how her mother perished when a tree got uprooted by powerful winds and fell on top of their house during the relentless storm. According to my operator, her mom was carrying the newborn child she bore two months ago at the time the accident happened. In her last breaths, she managed to save her baby from getting crushed by using her own body as shield. Heartbreaking. The baby miraculously survived. My operator also said much of the province of Leyte has been wiped out by “Yolanda.”

Destructive forces of nature bulldoze their way into Philippine hemisphere one after the other: Earthquakes; typhoons; hurricanes; landslides; sudden, mysterious flooding. Resigned to our ineluctable destiny and unfavorable circumstances, we could only gasp at the total carnage following each calamity, shake our heads in disbelief upon hearing true tales of destruction and the number of casualties , send whatever assistance we could afford to a disaster fundraising organization, then try to get on with our lives. It was quite touching to witness and feel the outpour of sympathy and help we received from other nations. I have to admit, though, that in our country, phenomena resembling “the Yolanda catastrophe” do not shock us much anymore. Majority of us here have become, in a manner of speaking, numbed and deadened by crisis after crisis that do nothing but compete with each other in severity. We’ve also yielded to the reality it’s usually the have-nots who get riddled with severe losses and adversities resulting from such atmospheric assaults.

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The story that follows doesn’t, in any way, compete with what has recently happened to my less fortunate fellowmen. It is, however, another testimony to what common people, like me, are vulnerable to – given our unpredictable environment.

It was barely three years ago when a bizarre tropical depression named “Ondoy” brought the heaviest rainfall in the weather history of our National Capital Region. Non-stop downpour on a Saturday morning resulted in several cities going under water. Hours earlier, my son set off for school despite discouragements from me.

It was noontime that day when the commotion I kept on hearing from the grounds all the way to the fifth floor of my apartment building made me look out the window. I was shocked to find out a deluge was unexpectedly rising fast, driving people out of their houses. It was the first time something like that had ever happened in our vicinity. A mere hour after, the water had mounted to a staggering height all that was left to see were the roofs of my neighbors’ two-storey houses. A dreadful sight still scary to recall to these days.

During those moments, I counted myself fortunate for my living conditions. It was nonetheless disheartening looking at all those people who scrambled to the top of their roofs; soaking wet from the rain, watching some of their stuff and the goods from their small merchandise stores float on the water.

Meanwhile, I was also nervously waiting for my son’s text message. But no message came from him throughout the day. The rains stopped in the late afternoon; the flood began subsiding at night time. I went down and joined my neighbors look for whatever belongings they might be able to salvage.

Yet my son didn’t come home that night. It was one of the most terrifying times of my life.

I asked assistance from my sister, who had a landline phone, to call up my son’s school. The people who responded said they didn’t have my son’s name on their list of stranded students inside. My mom and sister started crying on the phone. Rather than going crazy waiting at home for news about my son, I decided to look for him instead. As soon as daybreak came, I rode a jeepney that would bring me to his university. But it stopped midway as it could no longer go on due to the flood ahead. All of us passengers went down, and I started my two-hour journey to his school, wading through three feet of tide. When I arrived, there were still a few students walking around. I asked every junior university student I came across with for information about my son. Luckily, a classmate of his informed me she had seen him leave with another schoolmate very early that morning. It gave me some relief, which made me proceed – with hope – back home on foot once again. On my way, my sister called to say my son had already arrived in my mother’s house. Receiving that good news was one of the happiest moments of my life.

It took some time before my neighbors were able to recover from the ruins caused by “Ondoy.” They were grateful to be alive of course, but the experience wasn’t something they could look back on and smile about.

Many other unfortunate events brought about by devastating natural episodes in the Philippines remain to be told: like the unforgettable earthquake which shook the beautiful city of Baguio highlands some twenty years ago – where hundreds of schoolchildren and some vacationing tourists were killed. But there’s no need to narrate to you that disaster which broke my heart in my early 20s: It might break your heart as well.

Stark truth: With the passage of time, putting up with all this has simply become a way of life for most of us here.

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The Satirical Hard Facts About Being Single (Strictly For Ladies Only)

Whenever my memory pokes to remind me of my naive self in my 20s, I get a strong urge to hop on any time machine available to be able to hunt down the younger me from years back – and give her a couple of large slaps on each cheek so that she may wake up to her senses when it comes to dealing with the affairs of the heart.

Reading some single ladies – both young and old, including highly intelligent ones – blog about romantic love or lack of it in their lives these days makes me cringe and wonder if I had sounded that much asinine myself in the annals of this site. After all, this blog has been serving as my diary and memoir – where a huge lack of shame on my part must be exercised to target its purpose.

It’s impossible to chronicle my romantic past without somehow indulging in a moderate degree of male bashing here. It is something I have evaded for too long as there are a few male blog pals who have become dear to my heart; each of them earning a special place in my blogging world in distinctive ways. Basically, I like men as friends and as the opposite sex. But I need to set that fact aside in writing something like this for the enlightenment, hopefully, of women my kind. A blog buddy has given his blessings for me to go ahead. So if any of my other male pals comes across this post, may they have the better sense to skip reading and turn away. This piece is dedicated exclusively for female readers – the single ones to be precise.

I wish all single ladies, young and old, feel this way.
I wish all single ladies, young and old, feel this way.

Listen, my dear ladies: Once you’ve reached your forties, you will make a fool of yourself if you treat the search for a good man a serious matter. When you begin approaching middle-age, a nice-looking single guy with good character and good intentions is already impossible to find. It’s not your fault. Blame it on the globe’s oversupply of our gender species. Now in case you attempt to make it with a dude younger than you – it’s gonna be pointless still. Unless your intention is pure torrid sex and lotsa fun. Men generally think in the “What’s in it for me?” mode. They are naturally inclined that way. As a result, we women will be a never-ending subject for exploitation and humiliation – if we don’t watch it. On the other hand, if you go for an older guy, well… I doubt a man your age or your senior will take an interested glance your direction by reason of your (maturing) good looks. You see, older men could only itch for girls young enough to be their daughters. Again, it’s their natural inclination. Just like when they glue themselves much into free porn and are busy subscribing to sites that exhibit very young poor girls from all over the world taking their clothes off online. If you’re a wife to one of them, you might ask, “What’s become of my role, then?” Not to worry, you still get the “honor” of being your husband’s caretaker in his twilight years. FYI: Why do ya think Japanese wives are in a hustle to divorce their husbands once retirement years come around? Simple. To claim both their freedom and the money from their pervert mates. Clever Asian gals, huh.

Others will advise you “Don’t lose hope. Keep on searching for the frog. For your Prince, I mean.” That is mighty old school. I say, let it go if it’s not meant to be. Let your rational mind rule your heart. You deserve the best things this planet can offer – including a True Love or The Real One meant for you. Not just anything and anyone. You don’t need to waste your precious time… nor your precious heart repeatedly.

Look, ladies, I do believe in soulmates. How else can you explain the few cases of undying commitment and amour (with lust) between a couple like Prince Charles and Camilla, Sting and Trudie Styler, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Paul and Linda McCartney, etc. They definitely have what most other couples don’t have. Unions other than theirs are either based on fleeting attraction or pragmatic matters which require a lot of hard work for continuity. If you’ve really found the right one for you, Congrats. If not, ask yourself these questions: Don’t you have better things to do than settle for less than the real thing? Do you really need just any “distraction” to get you through life?

Remember as well: If it isn’t written in the cards for you to grow old with a man, no amount of whining and seductive verses on your blog can alter your single status. I mean, c’mon… Sure such verbal stunts tickle the dirty fantasies of your male readers. But that’s all. You still are plain entertainment, in their POV.

We can always choose to release ourselves from the bondage of vain hopes and the disappointment of unmet expectations. Don’t forget how blessed a woman is if she doesn’t take for granted the many things she actually enjoys on her solo flight such as her family & friends, her job, her hobbies, her freedom, her independence, and her sanity. If I hadn’t suffered the severest blow of my whole existence earlier this year, you’d still find me on my knees counting my lucky stars above. Life is awesomely beautiful, with or without a man on your side.

I swear that when I reach my 50s, which is some few years from now, I’ll be totally holding my peace about singlehood and go commit myself to the nunnery. Until then, let’s all try harder to be dignified about this “not having a man” thing. Do we have a deal, single ladies out there?

I remember a certain children’s song from my childhood: “Calm down, Sit down, Stop rocking the boat.” Aah, wrong lyrics. But you get the message, I’m sure.

June Babe Musings (Certainties To Hold)

You can only measure me by the amount of love and devotion I have given you. If they have not been enough for you to regard me back, then the door is waiting for either one of us to step out. For I am that much willing to risk your extinction from my heart and my mind.

You were right in supposing I had wanted you to be true to me. I have long been finished with dishonesty, unfaithfulness, and insincerity. They had already filled up my cup of bitter tea from times past.

I could hold hands only with the truth of who you are. I don’t need a presentation of your unsullied version. You and I are both aware it does not exist; no matter how my esteem for you repeatedly blur the faults you might have had. As for me, I could have been just like you. Because I’ve yet to expose my dark heart which I may do so in increments.

I award my compassion easily. It has been one of my undeniable truths. On the other hand, I have not always been prepared to get hurt. Which is never good for someone like me whose affections tend to eclipse my necessary common sense. Who tends to keep in her heart what she must let go. But what woman wants to lose her sensibilities in the end?

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“Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me. I am who I am, doing what I came to do, acting upon you like a drug or a chisel to remind you of your me-ness, as I discover you in myself.” —Audre Lorde

There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little more from life. I want beauty. I want greatness. I want peace. All side by side with the freedom that I’ve preserved to enjoy. I may or may not deserve the petitions I send out to my universe. Regardless, I am bound to claim my privileges.

Let the rain of your beautiful words and wisdom pour into my soul. Through them, we will be united in our shared losses, hopes and dreams. How can I feel empty in the company of these faithful friends, when they have nursed me and propped my disposition through all these years?

I cannot deny my need for inspiration that will catch my visions. My need for an infinity of spirits. That will break in through my life stages. That will go about seeking my lost stories…to help remind me of the girl I used to be.

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We seem to be living in a world where everything we’ve leaned on has almost always disintegrated into dust. Granting that the evolution of my convictions is far from complete, I cannot belong to the kind who submits to standpoints most came to believe so easily. In the same vein, you may not be acquainted of this willingness in me to abandon the tenets I’ve nurtured that could no longer save me. How I frown upon disagreements, conflicts and confrontations. Yet I cannot apologize for what my mind has come to know.

If people ever felt the suspension of ease in and out of my candour, atonement on my part would remain to be not an option. I couldn’t have held my ground fostering the absence of frankness in my heart. My whole life has never been about making amends for who I truly am. I’ve even thought of myself as being special. Somehow. Maybe I’m wrong. But maybe I’m right.

Never have I dared disquieting the stillness of somebody’s universe – yet I committed the error of thinking people operate at a similar plane I do. Since I have adopted this medium to cobble my contemplations and true tales with reasonable comfort, it would be too late to back out now.

Not all strengths shine in visibility. My essence may humbly walk the quiet backstreets…while intermittent courage fairly keeps on supporting me in my moments of adversity; at this point in time when nothing else stands as a complete shelter from the ferocity of those rougher winds.

I wish to love only those whom I choose. Save my love and appreciation exclusively for people who are able to return them. I’m gradually learning to cut my losses. I am getting there. Heaven help me.

It’s possible to feel like I have run out of fresh beginnings. Pretty much the same feeling when I had fallen from grace many a times. It would be then that I start second-guessing the remaining good things worth seeking for.

Let us hope my emotional disconnect is a temporary one, as I continue to search for a better tomorrow that will sit well with my heartaches.

——

(*Take Heed: You can’t make the mistake of thinking I’m referring to anyone here. This is purely about exercising my writing muscles and my hankering to utilize an imaginary muse. 🙂 *)