February 23, 2005

priceless

my tolerance to sunlight has greatly declined. everyone thought i went to boracay when truth is that i got my slight burn from the two-kilometer walk from church to cemetery under the blistering heat at noontime.

mama, my lola (grandmother), was laid to rest last saturday. i'm not well-versed with the traditions that accompany the rites of the dearly departed, as i usually shy away from attending such occasions, but my grandmother's wake and interment were by far the most elaborate i've personally observed -- replete of traditions and meanings.

mama is the third to pass away among my grandparents. the first was my motherside grandfather who died eight years ago, and second was my fatherside grandmother, who passed away two years. in both occasions, the wake lasted for four days.

mama's wake lasted for nine days.

my brother and i got home two days before the interment (feb 17). by then the guest book already has a tally of 893 visitors, coming from across the region, with more scheduled to arrive by batches. the actual number is higher, as i noticed some of the guests, usually the rural folks, don't sign the guestbook.

i guess this is a manifestation of the combined network established by my mother, currently an assistant schools division superintendent, and my late grandmother, a retired district supervisor. the people helping around the house were mostly teachers and friends (our clan is relatively small). the food logistics was breathtaking: it's like having a fiesta everyday, minus the merryment and music, where you serve snacks, lunch, and dinner to an average of about 100 guests daily. on the eve of the interment, i was told that four pigs were killed for next day's lunch and dinner (oh those poor pigs).

for two nights i stood vigil (hey my insomnia is good for something, finally), and learned some things about our local customs. here are the ones i took note of:

first, during the wake, the bereaved family should not say "salamat" or thank you to those who give "abuloy" or contributions. they didn't explain exactly why, they just politely corrected me when i blurted "saemat guid" (thank you very much) to a group who shoved a jar full of coins and bills into my hands. a simple "sige" or "okay" will do. thanks and appreciation (personally or through thank you cards) may be given after the interment.

second, a guest leaving the wake must not be escorted to the gate or exit. this too i was corrected, as i thought it's just polite to walk our guests and friends up to the gate. some say it is to avoid bringing with them the air of death. *shudder*

third, as the casket is carried out of the house, it will stop just outside the main entrance. the grandchildren must then walk under it, immediately run through the back door, through the house, and out again through the main door (wheee!).



fourth, after the mass and on the way to the cemetery, family members are not allowed to step anywhere within the vicinity of the house, even on the grass at the frontyard. sheesh! this one caused quite a commotion among my elderly townmates because they thought i was going to enter our gates on our way to the cemetery. they were like "ayaw ayaw ayaaaaw! ayaw it agto una! indi ka mag-suoed! aaaaay!!!" (no no nooooo! don't go there! don't go inside! aaaaay!!!) haha! i was informed ahead about this one, i was just walking over to my friend at the sidewalk who was handing out umbrellas for us. but my ghulay, such passionate townmates we have!

finally, everyone outside the bereaved family must sprinkle ashes at the entrance of their own houses when they get home from the cemetery or from the house of the bereaved family. again, something about not bringing the air of death inside the home.

looking back at those two days, i realized how much a stranger i am in my own town. had it not been for my brief TV interview in ABS-CBN last valentine's day, i'd say most won't even know that my mom has a third child -- "uy ikaw ro ha-interview sa channel 2, di ba-ea? ga-e ko man pamilyar ro apelyido, nanay mo gali ni Ma'am Vi." (uy you're the one interviewed in channel 2, right? no wonder the surname was familiar, Ma'am Vi is your mom.)

those who do remember me treat me like a manileño -- they would speak to me in tagalog, and be surprised when i answer in the local dialect. "ay antigo ka gali gihapon mag-Akeanon! (ay you still know Akeanon!).

my name... such a difficult name to remember. a name that has been my problem since i took the college entrance examination, which required me to use the name indicated in my birth certificate (it has the wrong, one-word Leorando instead of the one i grew up with, Leo Rando. i'm still working on having it corrected at the local civil registrar).

i wonder if people will remember me when it's my time to lie inside that casket? in my last trip towards my resting place, i'd be lucky to have even just a fourth of the number of people walking behind my lola.

i have no doubt that she is in a better place now. rest well, mama... you've been through a lot.




"i am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then i shall come back to take you with me, that where i am, you also may be." - john 14:3

February 20, 2005

unnecessary

after long hours of travel from my aklan hometown, i was already planning the very first thing i'll do when i arrive in manila yesterday -- play ragnarok.

but i never imagined i would be washing off blood from my favorite pants and shirt instead.

it all started when i boarded the jeep to anonas after getting off the batangas bus at kamias, cubao. it's already late in the evening, the jeep filled up slowly. i was seated at the middle portion on the left side -- the side facing the sidewalk. a man sat at the jeep's entance, beside me, reeking of alcohol. i can tell, though, that he is not drunk -- his movements were still smooth and his eyes still alert.

the commotion started when two girls boarded the jeep. the first one to board the jeep suddenly blurted, "mama, ang bastos nyo! nanghihipo ka!" (you pervert! you groped me!) her girl companion joined her in accusing the man of touching her friend's butt.

the man didn't react. he just kept his head down, staring at his hands. the two girls got off the jeep, but not before giving the man an angry poke in the head.

the man appeared to be surprised, and started muttering to himself about not doing anything at all. the two girls boarded the next jeep, telling the driver about the man who allegedly groped her.

the driver of the said jeep got off and approached the man beside me. "lasing ka ba? bakit mo hinipuan yung ale?" (are you drunk? why did you grope that lady?). the man strongly denied the accusations, explaining in an angry tone that he was merely reaching for his wallet when the lady boarded the jeep and accidentally brushed his hand on her butt.

the driver backed off, and started walking back to his jeep, with a parting shot, "huwag kang mambabastos dito... kundi mabubugbog ka." (don't fool around here... or you'll get beaten up.)

it should have ended there.

but the man beside me, obviously having a poor judgement of his environment -- maybe it's the alcohol, or his need to prove his manliness -- retorted something that ultimately spelled his doom: "sige, bugbugin mo ako kung kaya mo!" (go ahead, beat me up if you can!)

the driver doubled back to face the man, "kaya ko! bumaba ka dyan!" (i can! get down here!)

the man beside me was brave. he may have reasons to be: he is big, muscular, and has a build that reminded me of the stevedores and hard-laborers in construction sites. as the scrawny driver walked back to him, he had his fists clenched and arms tensed up to fight, while continuosly muttering "tangina mo... sige... tangina mo..."

but he failed to see something from the very start -- the scrawny driver was not alone. "mama, tama na yan..." (that's enough...) i tried whispering to him as i watched a crowd of men closing in on our jeep. these are not just spectators. we are in a jeepney terminal, and drivers do stick for their comrades.

it's too late.

i saw the first blow coming from the window behind us, hitting the man squarely at the back of his head. then another, and soon fists and kicks rained on him from the window behind us and from the entrance of the jeep. as the man gets pushed back and squeezed towards me, i shielded myself with my backpack from the stray blows. it's already a "kuyog" (swarm), and the man can neither flee, nor fight effectively -- he's trapped inside the jeep with us.

our quick-thinking driver roared his jeepney to get away from the mob. as we sped away, i saw that the man was still fine. punches and kicks are hardly fatal, especially if there's very little room to deliver a hard blow.

we thought it was over, and i even had the calmness to ask the man if he's okay. several passengers got off, and some tried to joke about the whole thing.

but our driver was still tense as he frantically zoomed at every opening in the traffic and every green light.

in a blur of motion, i realized why.

as we slowed down at an intersection, a man from the jeep following us jumped out and rushed at the man beside me -- steel pipe at his right hand and a foot-long icepick on the other.

the attacker, a very small man, was amazingly swift. in a blink he was upon the man beside me, alternately swinging his pipe and stabbing with his icepick. the man barely had the time to defend himself, taking the blows in his hands, arms, and head.

the man finally was able to kick the attacker away from him, and i pulled him towards the middle part of the jeep. "takbo na, manong!" i shouted at our driver. as our jeep lurched forward, for a horrific moment i thought the attacker would cling on. but he jumped off, and ran back to the pursuing jeep.

our driver managed to run the next red light, leaving the pursuing jeep behind. the man was alreadly drenched in his own blood. the passengers were shouting for our driver to bring him to the nearest hospital. some were suggesting the police station.

the wounds were not fatal, but he was bleeding like hell, his face a grotesque mass of blood oozing from the deep, long cut across his forehead. the man insisted that he get off at next intersection, where most of us got off as well. he took off his shirt and wrapped it on his head, and ran away.

tough guy.

i walked home with the sickening squishy feeling at my feet. only then did i realize how much blood i had on my feet, hands, and clothes. the stench of dried blood was nauseating. eeew!

tsk! it's amazing how quickly someone could end up dead, and another one a criminal.

still, thinking about the whole event, maybe the man was egging to be punished. i can't speak for the other people present at that time, but he was certainly the kind that invites trouble. an apology, even if he indeed did not grope the lady, would have saved everyone a lot of trouble.

i don't mind fighting "mano-mano" (hand-to-hand) and unarmed brawls, but it's an entirely different thing when deadly weapons are involved. these are the men i fear the most -- scrawny-looking men that carry the longest knives, ready to kill, and an entire mob to back them up.

sigh!

i missed manila, but i hope i won't run across something like last night again.

but what's this? amatsu and kunlun soon on pRO? wheee! *smile smile smile*

it's nice to be back. ^_^

February 14, 2005

HVD stuffs

Some time ago, my friend and I had a very brief discussion about this question: whom would you choose, (1) someone you love, or (2) someone who loves you? Last week, a tv talkshow had this exact question as its topic. The panel of debaters from both sides all have interesting and sound insights, but at the end the polls show more votes for the latter option.

The question assumes a clinical environment that eliminates the gray areas, as well as the "ideal scenario": choosing someone you love and loves you at the same time. Taking away this ideal scenario, I would have also chosen the second option. Some say it's a selfish choice, but I believe learning how to love is easier and more realistic than learning how to be a martyr or learning the pain of a broken heart.

I wish we have more data explaining why there are fewer Filipinos saying "they are happy" with their love lives compared to two years ago. I wish I could find more explanations for the growing discontentment with love life among women. Have economic problems dampened personal feelings of satisfaction with love life? Is this also why Lovapalooza 2 reached only up to 1,500 couples, failing to break the 5,300 record last year (INQ7 news)?

Anyway, enough reality.

Congratulations to my pal on her wedding -- in International Ragnarok Online (iRO). Her iRO character Ireko married her real-life boyfriend's character, *Maximo Swinne*. They are one of the two couples chosen from each server to be wed by the GM Team. Their love story and wedding photos will be posted soon at iro.ragnarokonline.com. *Awww, so sweet* I look forward to the real thing, dudes! *wink wink!*


Happy Valentine's Day!
- my fanart of Nayomi-chan's rogue (Lorne) and my monk (Rajah).

February 10, 2005

someday

let me just note this date and time: february 8, tuesday, 3 pm. this is the date and time that mama, my grandmother, passed away.

i haven't much fond memories of her to speak of, but no doubt she has taught me some of the best and worst things in people.

in my elementary years, i remember trying my best to live up to the brand "apo ng superbisor (grandson of the supervisor)", watching my every step as i move around our little provincial town under the watchful eyes of people who are quick to pounce on other people's mistakes and shortcomings.

we grew up observing traditions under her strict guidance. for one, i owe her my habit of hearing mass on sundays, as failure to do so back then means having a taste of her twenty lashes using a single strand of walis-tingting (uhm, coconut broom-stick?).

she may not have the most pleasant of methods, but we never doubted her good intentions. i wish i could say more. someday, maybe. i will miss her.

February 03, 2005

addiction update: RO

i got the Ragnarok Online bug, again.



my resolve to wean out of this game was utterly destroyed when Gravity installed its biggest patch yet, Juno, in pRO last december. a week ago, i had my first 2-2 character -- the monk.



did i say "first"? ack, please strike that out. i promised my friend (Rubs, hear this!) that this monk will be my last, and the one which i will see through the rest of ragnarok gameplay (to level 99, rebirth, and 3rd job -- and whatever else is due to pRO).



i thought this would be just one of my usual fad addictions, just as i had with other games. but it somehow stayed longer and seeped deeper than i expected: it influenced my drawings, i have its manwah and guidebooks for collection, and the only thing stopping me from joining its cosplays is lack of time (and guts, but hey it's the first time i serously considered cosplaying).



*sigh* at least, there's a concrete end to this addiction. the only question is when it will come.



ROk on!

open door

i've been standing and staring at the closed door for some time now. i've never really understood what's stopping me from walking through it. maybe it's the fear of the unknown, of all those “what ifs”, or my stubborn tendency to hold on to a long-lost dream. all i know is that once i step in, there will be no turning back.



several times i reached out and tried the knob. it's always been left unlocked, it's just there waiting for me to decide...



is indecisiveness a weakness? isn't it a decision in itself?



my everyday life in social survey research has trained me to treat responses such as "undecided", "don't know", "can't say", or "don't know enough to have a choice" with equal importantance as the "yes" or "no" answers.



is it a sign of immaturity?



i've known many who have set sails to unchartered seas at the first signs of good weather. while some have ended sailing blissfully in never-ending journeys under raging storms and cerulean skies, i must have grown up surrounded with tales of horrible shipwrecks and broken lives. i need only to look at my own family to attest to these sad stories. i must have heard too many secrets, spoken amid tears and regrets, that speak of lost dreams...



all because they once made a wrong decision.



i know life is all a gamble -- anywhere and anytime the probability of sinking is just the same -- but would i be a lesser captain if i stayed docked until my ship is truly seaworthy, and dream of a miracle that promises endless cerulean skies?



i am far from being seaworthy, and i'm a hopeless dreamer.



anyway, it doesn't matter anymore. maybe there’s really no more reason to stay standing and staring at the same door...