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A Never Ending Thanks To Grandparents

Ever experienced being grounded by you own parent only to find out that the terms of discipline had changed? Personally I never did but if you ask my kids, they will attest that such incident did  not happen just once and that they are thankful they have my own mother to run for their rescue. Not that my mom meddled every now and then and even though my kids all grew up with her in the same household she had learned through the years when to let her presence felt and when to step back. Besides she knows how independent and hard headed her grandkids that taking a firm stand had helped a great deal in bringing them up with their feet planted on the ground.

Contrary to my kids upbringing, my grandmother( my dad’s mom) had lived next door  where I only get to see her mostly during afternoons after school and who only visited us when she watched her favorite Sunday TV Mass. My sister and I  would fetch her favorite gardener, Cynthia, also a relative so she could water and take care of her plants This grandma of mine had a green thumb and had lots of roses and bougainvilleas, all lined up in pots. Funny what motivated me and my sister every afternoon to follow her orders was the incentive we got in fetching Cynthia, a ten centavo coin where we can get to buy our choice of candy. There was even a time that this grandma of ours gave me a raincheck for being included on the top five of my 1st grade class. A whooping 200 Php which I gave to my dad so he could keep it and just give me the money I needed each time I bought my favorite candy or bubble gum.

On the other hand my mom’s mom we call Lola Oyang was the independent and proactive grandma who we only visited during school breaks. She chose to stay in her hometown where she grew up that we literally have to take two provincial busses and a ship to get there. And since traveling and having a vacation would entail a lot of money, we cannot visit her very year. I could recall visiting  her place three times, the last one being the saddest as that was the year she had crossed over.

My kids also never got the chance to see and be with any of their grandfathers and just like me, they grew up not knowing how it felt to have a grandfather by their side. Though they do have a grand uncle who they get to visit during Christmas, it never really mattered if they grew up without one. But there were days that they could not hide their excitement and longing when I told them stories about my dad, his lone brother who is still alive and who will return for a homecoming next year.They might have all grown up but the yearning could not be hidden especially with the knowledge that they still have a grand uncle that they would finally meet after all these years.

 At times I ask myself where all the excitement and yearning come from considering they were lucky to have grandmothers who took care and watched over them since they were kids. Perhaps it is the fact that one can never get enough of being loved, appreciated, affirmed, remembered and taken cared of. A feeling of home, belongingness, accepted and nurtured that one will always look forward at the end of the day. An unforgettable, unexplainable feeling that will always remind you of childhood and all the happy and good memories that went with it. An unending smile that lighten one’s face each and every time you think of them.

                                My Mom with my two sisters in law and some of her grandkids

You know what I think of people who have known at least one grandparent in their lives? I think of them as blessed. It takes a lot of undying courage and love to look after ones’ grandchildren despite the  unending battle with age, illness and empty nest challenges. At times grandparents chose to live longer because they know they are needed still, that some broken pieces of their lives needed to be fixed still and they knew that making it up with their grandkids is their ow special way to heal it.

This  Sunday, September 8th is National Grandparents Day. Take time to greet them or any grandparent for that matter. A simple act like offering a seat, showing them directions, assisting them while they take the stairs mean a lot to them. One can never go wrong in thanking and remembering grandparents even in simple ways because they are such a blessing.

Lucky are we who have felt such love from our grandparents.

When You Were Born

You know what  all mothers say when they had their first born? They did not have any clue what to do. From breastfeeding, to bathing, to taking care of a wailing and sick babe so she can be put to sleep. I felt then that I would not survive in all departments, sometimes even wished that you shut up for a short while so I can get some sleep.

(Sam’s first photo,taken twenty years ago)

When you became a toddler, I asked myself not once what planet you came from. When I read you stories, you didn’t let me finish them because you wanted me to hear your version’s ending.You doodled almost every where.You loved watching tv so I was very selective on what shows you should watch. You also became very observant and careful with the words you say. My sister instantly noticed how you did not answer immediately if the question seemed testy.

Your Grandma told me you were very independent, not needing a lot of instructions and doting. In school she can leave you with her students with no fuss while she attended a short meeting.You took your studies seriously, effortlessly that you stood out in every class, in every competition. I remembered that time  when  you asked me what a gold medal looked like. I smiled. At a young age I knew you always aimed for the gold.

We did not always see  eye to eye. Perhaps it was just my age or the generation nowadays.You were completely aware of my rules, respected every one of them because not doing so would mean an argument that you will not win. I maybe hard to live by sometimes, but it was not also easy being your mother.

I also knew it was not easy being the eldest among six siblings, who look up to you for almost every thing. Patience, attention and understanding multiplied by six, not to mention three of them were special kids. I knew there were instances that you almost wanted to snap, with such responsibility that was given, yet  did not even ask. And perhaps you knew, that I was not blind enough to see, deaf enough  to hear, the pain and struggle that you went through every day.

(One of my best loved pictures with Samantha)

We have gone a long way. At a glance you seem like an ordinary girl, but by far a lady with so much character. If dysfunctional families were words you have shunned, unconventionalism  was one thing you had embraced. Books, classical movies, music, writing, photography, family, friendships and laughter all make up your world. As you journey through life, every adventure means conquering one’s fears. And you know by heart, that conquering ones’ fears means facing it.

Looking you from afar, sometimes I cannot help but smile and ask where you got that spark, that free spirit. Looking back now, out of the many wrong decisions I had made in my life, one right deed stood out, and that was having you.

(A daughter every mom would be proud of )

Seeing you know and what you had become was all worth it.

And I would not have it any other way.

 

 

(image credits to facebook.com)

A Way of Rounding Things

The first time a close friend invited me to attend a theater workshop, I was a little bit skeptic. I asked her what’s it all about. She mentioned about exaggerated gestures while acting, forming a group in circles and making your own dialogue when you’re picked. My friend could  not help but laugh at my reaction. I had my mouth opened, trying to understand what she said but failed.

“Close your mouth or else a fly might mistake it for a cave, “she said in jest.

She said it was fun, instead of spending the summer of not doing anything. I told her I do read,  a lot, I pointed. But she reasoned out that a theater workshop was something different and that I have to test the waters  to learn it. When I asked her who’s handling the workshop, she said it was her cousin, Jun Matias. By the look of it all she seemed exited, even beaming.

“So there’ s the catch.”

So I asked her who’s Jun Matias aside from the fact that he was her cousin. My friend answered, in near irritation, that he was a theater artist from PETA,  once became a staff for a famous director named Lino Brocka and  that he also writes. I told her I am a fan of Lino Brocka movies, that it was cool his cousin writes but I am not familiar with PETA,  at that time. I apologized  and told her I am not interested.

Together with Richard Reynante, Jun Matias  was the creative genius behindPrecious Pages Corporation and Lampara  Books Publishing(credits goes to Facebook.com for the image)

“You might regret this one day, you know, ” and left.

Luckily, my friend did not take that personally. Our friendship did not tint by shallow disappointments. Besides we were in high school. Our place at that time was still  backward. Summer workshops and self help programs where unheard of. Sadly, there had been a time that I  spent my summer just by reading pocketbooks when I should have tried other arts instead. My friend did finish the workshop and to show my support, I’ve watched their play, which turned out quite well.

A decade later, when local television was full of the weekly shows from Regal Films and Viva Films, I got the chance to catch  Jun Matias’  name. He did write, this time his name on the screen was Segundo Matias, Jr. He wrote  stories where artists like Gretchen Barretto, Rita Avila, Jean Garcia and Aiko Melendez who was just a teenager then but whose acting ability can be lined up with the veteran ones, appeared . The stories were simple, depicting of one ‘s ordinary life, its woes and joys, all compressed in an hour because of the commercials.

It was in the late 1990s’ that his name became such a revelation. I have read in the newspapers that he had been publishing books. Love stories at that, just like the Mills and Boon and Harlequin local versions. But it was in 2003, at  my son’s recognition event that I had one of  the biggest surprises in my life.  An alumnus will give a short speech about his younger days and humble beginnings. Turned out the visitor was nonetheless, Segundo Matias, Jr fondly called Jun Matias. He was already then  a businessman, the man behind the famous, “Lampara Books Publishing,” and “Precious Pages Corporation. ”

(credits goes to lamparabooks.com.ph  for the image)

He had gone a  long way. What more my son and I shared a picture with him and I have to admit I did not know what to say when he handed me the medal so I can pinned it on my son. He was just looking at me. I thought of something like, ” Your cousin is a good friend and I am sorry I did not attend the workshop you spearheaded then . I could have learned a lot.”But did not have the guts to say so.

Lately, I have learned he had chains of  Precious Pages outlets in most major malls in the Philippines. When I visited one of his stores, I even had the gumption to interview some of his staff. They said  he was a good hearted person, fun to be with and easy to get along. In fact they even knew his birthday which was just a few days away then. They asked me if we were related. I told them we were and we came from the same place.

This  store found at the SM Mall of Asia, is just one of the many store outletsthat Jun Matias handles( credits goes  to the phr.com.ph for the image)

Funny, it took decades, for us to meet. I did not plan nor envisioned it will happen, but somehow, fate did find its way.  Before I could not help but ponder the meaning behind all these. Somehow, I know now.

Personally, I am not that regretful of that missed opportunity. I may not be  young, but given the chance I can still attend theater workshops. As for us having a connection, he is a Facebook friend and I did send him a message about what happened many summers ago.  It is also  true that we are related, on my grandmother’s side, as  told by my aunt and my mom . Strange, though that  meeting him  was like  the gift of writing or any other God given gift for that matter. One can set it aside,  forget it even, until an incident or a person perhaps sent from Above, will point out that gifts were given so they can be harnessed, and shared so people can learn, be inspired and perhaps realize that they too have gifts lurking within, waiting to come  out. Meeting him finally, was like finding my creative voice, which somehow, found its way home.

I know one day, when I get the chance to write a short book for kids, he will be the publisher and his autograph will be the first one I will have.

Because now I know that  life indeed  has a way of rounding things.

Things That Make Me Happy ( A BC Bloggers Meme )

For some happiness, is a state of mind . It can be a place where you can just be yourself without a care in the world. Some people find it elusive while others still do not know what it is. Wether it is a fleeting fancy or an infectious thing, happiness is real. You cannot  find what you’re looking for unless you search for it.

Below are just some of  the things that make me happy :
1. Listening to my kids’ laughter.
2. Sharing stories with my mom and being grateful that she had chosen to move on in spite of all  the challenges she had been through.
3. Writing and getting comments from readers even from other parts of the world that they like what they read.
4. Music.
5. Remembering my dad and how he loved telling me stories on almost about everything.
6. Remembering my simple life as a kid with my family at our old nipa hut.
7. Watching my favorite shows.
8. Running and getting fit.
9. Meeting old friends  where you cannot get enough of the stories and laughter shared in between.
10. Learning new things until you become good at it.
11. Watching my awesome nephew make a name for himself in Philippine Basketball wether live at the hard court or on television.
12. Keeping in touch with my relatives by just a simple message on facebook.com.
13. Seeing my kids’ initiative to be independent including making simple decisions for themselves.
14. Getting a gift from my aunt who is also my godmother at the age of forty and seeing her usual greeting,”How are you  Sarah?”
15. Waiting and knowing that one day, I will be able to see most of my relatives in the US, most of whom I had not seen for a very long time including my one and only sister and her family.
16. Meeting and knowing there are  people who understand my kids’ specialness .
17. Getting a hug from a very good friend who I rarely see.
18. Having me rest to catch up on my sleeping only to wake up with my meal ready to eat.
19. Simple acts of kindness from strangers to friends.
20. Dreaming  that  financial security and emotional contentment will happen any day from now.
21. Eating fruits, veggies, ice cream and almost anything I find delicious with no guilt at all.
As one continue to look at the brighter side of life, happiness will always find its way to those who search for it. A door might closed on you one day only to learn that a window was already open waiting for you to get in. Life anyway consists of many chances and  it is  not really that hard to always count your blessings.
If you are one blogger who love to meet other people and joining memes, you can join BC Bloggers at http://www.mommydiary.net/join-bc-bloggers-here
It will definitely be worth the experience. 

BC Blogger Meme

Precious Moments With Mom

Just arrived from Manila to celebrate Mother’s day with my mom. I never had the chance to change clothes as I was so eager to share  my stories which she took in every word I said. In her hands were my gifts, a Maybelline pressed powder and an embroidered blouse which she liked the minute she saw it. In the bacground were my four daughters whom she helped me raised including the one behind the camera who is my eldest .

Rare moments that I will forever cherish because they are priceless.

 

 

 

(image credits to facebook.com)

Why I Ran For Integrity

 

When one of the Unit Managers’ on the floor announced that there will be a Fun Run and that the first 300 registrants will be for free, I did not think twice about it. I took advantage of it and signed up at the drop of a hat. When I learned that it was not just  Convergys wide, that got me into thinking that perhaps I will not be as lucky.

When I started working as a call center agent, my active life as a stay at home mom  of seven went sedentary. For seven and a half  hours, five days a week, I sat in front of the computer, took in calls and typed. It was a routinary job, boring for some, health hazard for many. Since it was my main source of income, I did what every mom needed to do. Stay and learn to love what used to be a very taxing job. Through the years the hard work had paid off, well sort of financially. And with the confidence and independence, I  learned that there were still worlds I need to discover as well as opportunities  on how to learn and earn more.

I also realized that getting fit had become a rarity, as far as time and attention was concerned.Though I did not  gain that much, there were days that I felt I could have been more active. So I just get by with   brisk walking and taking the stairs when the elevator or escalator  was not working. The last time the company had a  sports event was two years ago where I joined the hip hop class. I also had the chance to wall climb. Though the hand-me-down Reebok shoes from my nephew were  a bit old, they helped me a lot to gain my footing. Luckily I did not fell from the wall and finished it with flying colors which was not too bad for a first timer.

Warming up with picture shots before we hit the track

 

I said to  myself then that such experience deserves not just a second try. Each time the company gave surveys, I usually point out the need to have more sports activities that agents can take advantage of. I was not really surprised, when A Fun Run was announced.

Honesty went  a long way. He gave me options, and finally I found what I wanted. He gave a short laugh when I told him there was no need to wrap it properly as I plan to use it immediately so I can get the feel of them.  I was excited to wear my new shoes and that’s what I just did. This was a  day before  the Fun Run.A few weeks after the registration, I saw my name on the list of 3K runners. What more, most of my friends were there as well. I should be thankful, problem was I did not have any running gear. Since I did not want to have the registration fee deducted in my payroll in case I changed my mind, though it was a free one, I might as well have myself prepared and buy me a new pair of running shoes. I asked around which brand would be the best, but the experience I had with the last pair of shoes I used at that sports event two years ago  keep coming back. Good thing my memory was still sharp, and that’s when I remembered the brand. “Reebok, ” and off I went to the warehouse store so I can get a discount. I asked the salesperson what I needed. I added it will be my first time to join a Fun Run and plan to used the shoes for wall climbing in the future. I gave him the impression that I want to get my money’s worth since I plan to use it for a long time.That evening I tried to get as much sleep. The Assembly time was at 4:30 in the morning. I left home at 3:45 am to meet my friends at the office. Upon arriving, I went to the locker room, left my belongings except my ID and  phone, grab a light breakfast and went off to see my friends. We were  excited as we head to Bonifacio Global City.

Nobody could miss the event place. There were lots of people  heading in  one direction. Though it was still dusk, I got swayed to have my picture taken at the photo booth. Besides it was free. And that was not just the free photos I got that day. Since I am the most senior in age among the group, they cannot help but notice at the skimpy shorts I wore. I told them I am more comfortable running wearing them. Besides, at my age I felt I did not have to explain every move or gear I  wore whenever I want to.

Before the Run starts

 

In a few minutes, the race was about to start. The crowd was enormous. There were local and foreign press even who took our pictures.There were  Managers of different Convergys’ sites, clients, even local personalities. Some parents also had their kids joined, even in strollers.  I can no longer contain my excitement. The race  started with the 15K runners, next was the 10K counterparts, then the 5K registrants . Finally it was our batch.With every countdown, there was a roar of acknowledgment from the crowd. And with every roar, my  heart skipped a beat,  until the gun shot signaled the start of the race. And off we went . There were lots of runners that I could hardly move. I told my friends, in between breaths  that I’ll take my own route, and ran away as fast as I could.

I have not been running for  a very long time. I cannot even remember when was the last time. But on that day, I felt like a kid again, without a care in the world and who just wanted to finish the race. Every time I slow down, with sweat sticking on my skin, to the point of tasting it, I got a different kind of high. Such adrenalin I never thought I had. The volunteers who guided the runners where to go, the traffic enforcers who made sure the race will not be interrupted, even the water supply for runners, filled in glasses , ready to drink in a hurry, all added to the color of the event. I also found out  that my 3k run was short lived after finishing ahead of my friends. I realized  that I want some more. And that brought a smile to my lips.

Skimpy shorts and Reebok blend well with me

 

I finished the race in 30 minutes, but that’s only based from my calculations. I did not care less if it  took longer than that. What mattered was  I finished what I had started. As I  searched for my friends who just arrived from the race I went ahead to meet them with  that proud smile in my eyes.

Still looking great after the race with UM Alex  and my friends

 

Not bad for my first Fun Run. Not bad at all.

 

 

(images credit to facebook.com)

Disclosure : This was not a sponsored post . It was solely written to share my experience on my first Fun run. All views were strictly personal.

The End Of A Homeless Journey

An old nipa hut renovated, a spacious house filled with kidslaughter and noise, a picture of  home  that now  comes  alive only  in my memory.

We never had our own home.The place where I was born and grew up belonged to my aunt, built from her soldier husband’s pension, killed in action during the Second World War. Since my dad acted like a father to her two kids, she had left her house to his care, a token of love and trust when she decided to build a life with her kids in Manila. No signing of papers. No attorney fees required. Just a  simple act of kindness so that my dad can have a place to  start  his own life.

The house had gone a lot of renovations but there were parts of it as well as pieces of furniture that had remained. It also had weathered a lot of storms and earthquakes, of rains and heat, yet it  had stood still, a sign of its strength and antiquity.

With the people that had lived before and to those who had gone, either to greener pastures or to the other life, the house symbolized more than an edifice. It reminded them of their childhood, of the things they used to do and now only remembered, of the simplicity and the tranquility of life, free of demands and stress. A place where  one wanted to come back over  and over again.

Through the years passersby will admire our house for its uniqueness and space, its wooden floors always inviting one to lie down and retire after a tired day, the sliding windows wide and safe enough to sit on its sills while enjoying a shared story. The dining table, long enough to hold a mini feast while  the adjoined window faced  what used to be a bamboo fence and a star apple tree that had to be chopped down so that a basketball court can be built.

(One of the very few photos left of our old home)

Space. Comfort. Inviting. These best describe the home I used to live.

It was a nook that was enveloped with sadness when my father spent his last days and where his remains would lie before he gets buried, not to the nearby chapel, telling my mom that he had a home to return to. An abode where we heard the sound of his first grandson’s wails a few months after he was laid to rest. And a place that was filled  with laughter, squeals, yells and songs when all us had our own families and get together during the Holiday Seasons, the loudest coming from my seven kids.

I thought it would never end.

But the heavens had  different plans, it seemed.

Our home was built in a place whose inner circle had venoms, jaded people who go way back. Rooted from several generations in the past, incurable even with countless prayers, church visits and novena intentions. I always thought that miracles do happen, even to the most hopeless situations.

I was wrong.

Small talk started even before I was born. Legally it was not rightfully ours. But of what use is the law when one can manipulate it for ulterior motives. When one’s self worth is defined by endless back stabbing, spinning tales enough to believe in and when generosity all too often is masked by getting something in return.

A week after the house had been newly painted and refurnished, we were told we had no reason to stay. My dad had long been gone but that was the less painful part though hearing it directly, literally from the horse’s mouth would confirm it. Sadly, this time it did not come from a horse, but from my dad’s blood relative. We had no choice but to leave.

Our neighbors who had become my parents friends’ were saddened about what they have learned and witnessed. Since our house was located in front of the chapel, nobody had missed that day when we had moved. They still cannot believe that a nipa hut which had been the only home  our family ever had would be the cause of envy and hurt. My mom  kept her emotions intact long enough, until we arrived at our new apartment. It was only then she let the tears and herself go, still finding it hard to accept that we were driven out from our own home.

A few months after we had moved, we were told our house had been torn down. Less than a year from then, three lives were lost and one of them was my brother. It was like watching a tear jerker movie  only this time it happened for real. It was hard to believe that what the house used to represent was now  turned into a tragedy, hurting not just one family , touching not just one’s soul to its very core.

Our lives may never be the same. An old friend once told me loosing ones’ home is like letting go of  one’s roots, the pain goes much deeper. And as I try to shield my children from it all, fate  chose  to do it differently. Though it would be impossible to find the same comfort  that our old home had given us, I know that I will not leave this life homeless. And in time my children and I will again find our lives secured, happy and content in a place we can  really call our own.

The Legend Behind The Song “Alfie “


What’s it all about, Alfie? Is  it  just for the moment we live

What’s it all about when you sort it out Alfie

Are we meant to take more than we give, or are we meant to be kind

And if only fools are kind Alfie , then I guess it is wise to be cruel

And if life belongs only to the strong Alfie

What will you lend on an old golden rule

As sure as I believe, there’s a heaven above Alfie

I know there’s something much more

Something even non believers can believe in

I believe in love Alfie

Without true love we just exist Alfie

Until we find the love we missed,  we’re nothing Alfie

When you walk let your heart lead the way

And you’ll find love any day

Alfie

These are the lyrics of a beautiful song composed by the great legend Burt Bacarach.It was also the theme song for the movie Alfie (played by Michael Caine and Jude Law when he made the remake). It had been nominated for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Picture, Best Writing and Best Song. Because of its musical arrangement and lyrics, great singers like Dionne Warwick, Barbara Streisand, Cher, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan (where I got my name from, as told by my dad),Whitney Houston  to name a few have their own renditions of the song.

There was a time when a local channel here in the Philippines used to showcase a Burt Bacarach musical special and my dad together with my siblings would gather in front of our cabinet size National Panasonic television set to watch it. Unlike the usual musical shows with glitzy costumes and glaring spotlights, his shows were very different because it showcase his musical composition in progress together with his artists. It was very hard to be in front of the camera, exposing ones’ work as artists need lots of space,time and tranquility . Some artists do not even want their work discussed until it had been completed. With Burt Bacarach , he takes you with his journey and since he was a musician, composer, arranger and singer, you get enveloped with his passion, his love for music that when he plays his piano, he conducts at the same time. He was the first composer I have witnessed who had to stand and beat while his head matches with the rhythm. What more, when the composed song had satisfied his meticulous scrutiny, he takes the viewer to the recording studio. So as a child I have witnessed the raw recording of some of his songs , a feat that nobody was able to accomplished until now.

Because of Bacarach’s genius, he had composed songs for the Beatles, Carpenters , Dionne Warwick,and even the original Dumbledoore himself Richard Harris. I could still remember him singing ” Mac Arthur’s Park. ” Some of his songs were  Close to You, Arthur’s Theme, Raindrops Keep Falling In My Head, That’s What Friends Are For, Say A Little Prayer, A House Is Not A Home… the list goes on and on.

Bacarach is now 83 years old. He still is very in demand. He still gets recognition around the world and sometimes acts as musical director for the Oscar Awards. He also became a guest judge and mentor once on American Idol in 2006 where his songs were featured at the Finale.

If every person has a National Anthem, mine will be Alfie. All my kids know that. I usually have my repertoire when I am doing the laundry, a trait that I had inherited. There was even a time when I sang the first line and my autistic son Red would reply by singing “Alfie.” Though it was a difficult to sing, the lyrics made by Hal David and the music of Bacarach conveys a message so touching that unsurprisingly, a lot of artists include it in their repertoire when they have concerts, not just because of the vocal challenge but the simplicity of what the song represents.
When I was browsing youtube.com for a video of the song with lyrics, I had a difficulty finding one. It was either a video of the artist singing it or one with just lyrics. I also found one where Bacarach was interviewed and admitted that it was his most favorite of all the songs he had made. That explains why each time he gets recognized, he will definitely play the song on his piano, sometimes with his eyes close. There was also a time that he sang while he played the music, even thanking Hal David, the lyricist, as he told the audience “he hoped he had done justice with the song,” before he sang it. But what was more remarkable was the first ever recording of the song  with the original British singer Cillia Black where she only agreed to sing if Bacarach flew all the way to London,that he will be the one to arrange it and that he will play the piano. The gifted composer did that and more. He conducted a 48-piece orchestra and had less than 30 takes before he finally agreed to have it recorded. This happened in 1965, years before I was born. According to Black, Bacharach had her cut eighteen complete takes before he was satisfied with her vocals while Bacharach’s estimation of the session’s total number of takes including partial ones is as high as “twenty-eight or twenty-nine.”

Just like Henry Mancini, Michel Legrand, Sergio Mendez, Burt Bacarach was one of my first music teachers. Listening to his songs reminded me of my childhood, of the National Panasonic television which is now a cabinet for my mom’s old pocketbooks, which my kids’ usually sell if they are running short of money, of how a song can be repeatedly listened and why one cannot get enough of it. Sadly it also conveys that most songs nowadays may not equal the timeless quality of the songs then.And I hope, just like fashion, these songs will again be in fad, because they deserve not just to be listened but to be passed on to the next generations.

click your mouse to youtube.com and you will understand why this man is one of the best of all time)

(video credits to youtube.com and additional  recording information from google.com)

The Art Of Letting Go

I had a talk with a bald man the other day who I secretly call Confucius about letting go . I told him that my inseparable kids, Sam and Red, will be heading for Ilagan, Isabela tomorrow for a summer camp . Sam was encouraged by her college instructor to be a volunteer so his brother can also join in . They will be with other volunteers, street children , orphans and special kids in Isabela for ten days . Sam will be a caregiver  and baby sitter to  a different kid. Red will be with her new sister  for those ten days as well . I cannot help myself not to worry.

Before Sam decided to join , she explained that Pedya Kamp have been encouraging volunteers and giving summer camps since 1991. Spearheaded by a group of doctors from Makati Medical Center, they have travelled to other parts of the country and even to the  US as well  to give and share the joys , of having not just a memorable summer but “of turning moments into memories, ” as well . Her instructor,  who had been a volunteer since its first year had found it fulfilling and wanted to share that experience with my daughter.

As always I had lots of questions  even though the registration fee for being a volunteer only costs 200 pesos and the summer camp will be totally free. Aside from the required  seminars that she has to attend, there were other activities that she needs to go to . I have no questions about her taking care of other kids but it was Red that I was concerned about. The group will leave Manila at 10:00 in the evening as it will be a six hour drive, and all through out the trip , Red will start to bond with her new sister which is a first.  I suddenly felt a pang of separation anxiety for my son.

“I  do not think that the idea of your son being with a stranger for ten days worry you , but the thought of not  being needed anymore worries you more, ” told my bald friend. I told him that was not true. He replied with a confident laugh in which he said, ” You must have forgotten that I can see through you. ”

I wanted to strangle the man though I know it will be useless as he was a self defense instructor. So I just told him how hateful he was which he knew was not true . In which he replied with a smile and added, “You cannot be with him all the time . He needs to grow up even if he is a special child. You  just have to learn to let go.”

It was not easy. Over the weekend I would find myself  thinking of those ten days that Sam and Red will be away in Isabela . Though the group had coordinated with the Mayor and his constituents, I still am worried , mostly with Red’s condition  because his speech is still delayed. Sadly I cannot even visit them because of money reasons and the demands of my work. Tears in my eyes dwelled knowing that I was having a hard time letting go of my son  and my friend was right.

Perhaps it is just normal for us parents to be attached to our kids especially if they have special needs. We tend to be protective, doting , always running to their  side  to the point of being extreme, forgetting  they are children who  need  space and yearn lots of play and adventure. And at times I am guilty on some counts. I  fear that if Red plays with other kids , he will get hurt simply because he cannot be understood. He is so hyperactive and might hurt other kids without him knowing what that means. Some parents still do not understand that and I cannot explain in detail about my son’s condition every time. It is an endless cycle that my kids and I had gotten tired of.

Sam reassured me that  parents, guardians  and relatives will be updated by the days’ activities through facebook . As volunteers they were advised to refrain from using their phones except during emergencies because they need to be focused on the kids that they will be taking care of. They have schedules that needed to be followed. Activities like swimming, arts and crafts, visiting the locality and other tourist attractions,  going to church and a Special Olympics  will definitely fill those ten days. She added  that by the time she and Red returns home, he would have learned how to swim and improved on his speech.

( images credit to facebook.com )

As  parents, we want our  kids to become independent and productive citizens of the society. Aside from giving them the opportunity to learn, we have to trust them enough to know what the world really is. That may sound impossible in Red’s case, but in order for my son to believe in himself, I need to have a little faith that he can do it. I need to teach myself because one day he will have to rely more on himself so not to  burden  others. He need to spread his wings in order to fly, and if one day he falls , I need to believe that he will try again . Until he can do it. He might get lost in the process but I know he will return. That much I know…because he is my son.

Only In My Mind

We have always been taught to be polite. Not in only in our words but in our actions as well. From the home, to the school, to the workplace, we have always been reminded to be careful with what we say because the words that come out from our mouths and how we act  signify what kind of persons we are. Especially if one has kids , worst, if one happens to be a senior, in terms of age in a team. They observe and absorb the words and  all the things you do. At times it takes an effort  to keep your mouth shut or better yet, become mindful on your reactions to certain uncompromising situations.

It has been a long time that I had practiced my religion. That does not mean I do not pray anymore. Since I started working, I rarely hear mass but  that does not mean I do not visit the church. I do find it hard not to sleep, worst , snore when I do hear mass. That is one of the tradeoffs of working on graveyard shifts. And since I need to work, I just make do by simply making my religion a personal one. But there was a time  when  I dropped everything just to hear mass and that was when my teammates decided to bond together after shift.

We were newbies and still adjusting to our closing shift which was from 5:00 in the morning till 1:00 in the afternoon. Our team decided to go to church first then have lunch after that. And so that’s what we did. Everything was going fine, I even joined the  singing , until I smelled something. A smell that cannot be denied, that my nostrils cannot escaped from . I was trying my best to reject the scent, but the more that I pushed myself the stronger it became. I am not sure if it was the combination of sleepiness or hunger pangs, but I was starting to get dizzy. So I told my teammate, Faith, whose name was so appropriate because it seems, I am almost running out of it, of the situation.

I told her , “If I collapse any minute, will you be kind enough to carry me?”

She immediately became worried and asked me what’s wrong. So I told her the reason while pointing my underarm.

“Mommy please behave, you are inside the church.”

I felt like a kid that had just been reprimanded, but I was just being honest. I mean what did she want me to do, tell the stranger next to me that I am about to faint because of her body odor? That would be impolite. Besides, we were  inside the church, hearing mass  and it would be brutally frank if I tell her how she smells.

So I asked for guidance,  enlightenment and strength to hold on. I just had one ardent wish. That is for her not to go near me, and of course that the mass would end sooner. Until the priest said, “Let us show each other our sign of peace.”Heaven forbid, please spare me,” I told myself. My teammates kissed me, telling me ” Peace mommy.” Finally, I did the inevitable, I faced the person next to me and trying my best to smile, told her “Peace be with you.” But what my seat mate did next almost made me cry. She hugged me in return.

I almost died.

After I finally got a hold of myself, I looked at my teammates, and  found out they were trying their best not to laugh.

After that day, I promised myself, that if things can be avoided, I will never, ever hear mass when I am hungry or sleepy.