December 31, 2013

Thank you, 2013.

It's been raining non-stop since I arrived here at the old family house in Batan, Aklan. When I took my first shower, I can only thank the heavens that the house is still intact (and that the second floor bathroom is still there).

We were lucky. Most of Yolanda's wind was absorbed by our neighbor's 4-storey apartment building from the north, while another building shielded the south side.

My mother already had most of the roofing repaired, except for the small patch at the second floor bathroom. So... it was quite a shower experience: rain trickled through the kisame (speeding up my rinsing process), and with the solitary glass window shattered, I can see the world outside and (gasp!) vice-versa.

The house is structurally intact, half of the appliances still work, and most of all, no one got hurt. That's so much to be thankful for.

What a year this has been! I don't remember ever having gone through so much turbulence in my personal life -- both at work and with family.

But with every turmoil and trial come the most memorable times of my life.

2013 is a year I should not forget. In no particular order, I look back at my personal highlights.

***

Early this year, on March 27, our father joined the Creator. He was a pioneer in his family, the very first to venture out of the very small family, geographical, and cultural circle that his clan has known for so long. To some, he was that one fruit that fell a tad too far from the tree. But in his last moments, he did good on his promise to bring us back to the roots.

We love you, Dad. We miss you. Happy New year!

***

Nelson Mandela (July 18, 1918-December 5, 2013), Cory Monteith (May 11, 1982-July13, 2013), and Paul Walker (September 12, 1973-November 30, 2013) passed away.

Walker's death has been particularly shocking to me. Sometime this year HBO featured Fast Five, and somehow I never grew tired watching it again and again. My wife could attest to this, but I had commented endlessly how well-written the script was.

***

I give thanks for Joan's smooth transition at work as her former boss retires from the judicial profession. Her new office/boss takes her closer to home, and I probably should be ready to take my work somewhere else anytime soon. ^^

***

I've seen Mayon Volcano, finally, and it is every bit as awe-inspiring as I imagined it would be back when I was just looking at the postcards.

I can also now cross-out Sagada in my Local Places to Visit list. 

And hurray Singapore (Universal Studios!) and Malaysia (Legoland!)!

***

A Catholic pope resigned -- something uncommon in anyone 's lifetime. The Catholic world was then presented a Pope unlike anyone before him, and he wants scientific data! Oh he gets the researcher in me so excited!

***

After over 15 years with mother station, I have an idea of what my weaknesses are, and one of them is handling people. This is the reason why I worked to have the communications and publications section established. Most of time it's a one-man department, but what the heck.

Every now and then, however, due to the sheer size of a project, I get drafted to do field management.

This year saw one of the biggest, most expensive projects the station has ever handled. The project was so crucial there was no room to freely choose the place to go to -- we were assigned based on how well we know the place, the people, and the language. So I, naturally, got assigned to Region VI.

Perhaps due to age and *cough* rank, my old fears were things of the past. That project re-acquainted me to all the things I love about fieldwork -- meeting new people, traveling, getting stranded in strange places, riding motorbikes on remote provincial roads, and, with some luck, rocking under the starry sky to the songs of some of my favorite local bands.

It was a difficult project, both technically and emotionally. The survey instrument was so hard to implement, and the subject re-opened our eyes to the harsh reality of poverty. We've seen mothers who never had any kind of pre- or post-natal care, children who never had a single vaccination, students who walk miles to get to their classrooms, and families so poor the only toys their children play with are the bolos and knives their parents use in the farms.

But these families opened their doors to us in complete trust, offered what meager food they have in their pots, and answered in earnest as we interviewed them for an average of three hours. This sort of hospitality is something you won't find so easily in the cities.

The project broke all our hearts, but made us better persons and so much grateful for the blessings we have.

Oh, and that project made me realize how susceptible I am to aswangs. Tsk. ^^

***

This year Joan and I explored alternative Chinese medicine (acupuncture), and had good results. The root of all my medical woes can now be explained in three words: I'm too hot. ^^

***

Thank you, 2013! It's been quite a year.

Hello, 2014!

December 06, 2013

Read worthy? ^^

A friend of mine, Cath, came across my Guimaras experience and shared it to her sis, who then requested through Cath if she could share it to her reading class.

That blog entry of mine for a reading class? Oh dear... With the "sh*t" and unedited grammar? :))

But I agreed to share it, of course. Please do remind your sis about the "non-academic words" there, Cath. Hee hee.

Cheers!

November 01, 2013

Good evening... (another aswang story)

I thought this would be my last encounter, but 30 years later, this happened.

Happy halloween, everyone.

***

The Kalibo International Airport security personnel looked at the contents of my pockets and asked, "Sir, bakit kayo may ginger?"

I swear I heard him speak Aklanon a few minutes ago while I was queuing for the x-ray machine, so I thought it would be okay to tell the truth.

"Pangontra sa aswang," I said.

He gave a smile so big his chinito eyes disappeared, and said, "Juan dela Cruz lang yan, Sir."

I smiled and laughed with him. "Quot homines tot sententiae", as our office motto says. As many opinions as there are people, and this gentleman is very much entitled to his own.

But why the slices of ginger in my pockets?

It all began in Guimaras.

Oct. 23, Day One. The trip from Iloilo City went without a hitch, and we arrived at our target barangay earlier than expected. The team immediately prepped the homebase -- a simple bamboo cottage owned by the local health officer -- which will be home to 16 of my teammates for the next 15 days.

Our field supervisor, local field anchor, and I immediately went to the barangay hall to interview the Barangay Captain. It was completed just in time for lunch. The reception was positive, and we have green light to kick off the fieldwork.

I went with Fabs and Jo, both Mother Stations' experienced interviewers. In the absence of house and street numbers, we located the household after 30 minutes of walking along a remote dirt road.

The household had a new member, a 2-year old girl, which means we need to get one of our Anthro boys (those in-charge of carrying the equipment for measuring children's height, weight, and arm circumference).

I volunteered to go.

The road to the meeting point was winding, and it was getting dark. I met a few locals along way, and casually greeted them "Good evening, 'nong/'nang". I wasn't doing it as loudly and cheerfully as how my lady teammates do it, but I was being acknowledged with a simple nod or "Oi".

My cellphone rang as I was approaching an intersection. The call was from one of our Anthro boys, asking the location of our household-respondent.
 
I continued walking as I spoke with him on the phone, momentarily oblivious of my surroundings. Only after I passed the intersection did I stop to look around for landmarks.

That's when I saw her.

She was already about twenty paces behind me. She has stopped walking, and had her head turned towards me.

She was staring at me.

She must have emerged from the ricefields from the other side of the road for me to miss her.

I hung up and decided to walk on. The hairs along my nape were standing at the ends -- she was still staring at me, I can feel it.

By the time I reached the meeting point, I was feeling hot and out of breath. Rather than walking back to our sample household, I decided to hire a motorbike.

The interview took more than two hours, but halfway through I was already having cold sweats, headache, and that sickening nausea that made me want to throw up. My teammates were all aware of this -- they can hear me complaining and mumbling "Shit, nasusuka ako".

I tried throwing up, but nothing came out but bile. It did alleviate the discomfort for a while, and we walked home at around 7:30 p.m.

I was complaining again of humidity and nausea when we got home. I was more determined to get the sickly feeling out of my stomach, so when I found an empty space of grass near the house, I simply bent over...

And out came everything I had since lunch.

Talks about me throwing up were already spreading in the homebase by the time I had a quick shower, and some were poking jokes that maybe I was "napagkursunadahan" because of the way I walk. "Parang may sariling mundo," they said.

Two of my teammates from Capiz and one from Bacolod were not laughing at all. Instead, they asked if I had anything on me. I told them I have my Sto. Nino with me, but when I failed to show it after searching all the pockets in my cargo pants, I realized that I left it in my luggage.

Since I was refreshed and no longer nauseous, I considered the matter over and done with. Maybe it was just a small welcome for me. A reminder to be more careful when walking around.

However, the headache was still there.

The start-off clearing/meeting was scheduled after dinner. While most of the team were taking their showers and cigarette breaks outside, I was preparing my notes and setting up my laptop at the homebase's main table, with a few of the interviewers already settled in for the meeting.

And then it hit me.

Tanangaw.


Those familiar with the smell of this insect would describe it as "malansa", or "parang may nabubulok". In our hometown in Batan, it's normal to get faint whiffs of this insect in closed spaces. Usually we don't pay much attention to it -- nothing to be worried about.

But this one was far from faint -- it was flooding my nose with the strong, sickening stench.

And we're in a middle of a freakin' farmland, with winds blowing freely through the bamboo windows!

This only meant one thing...

One of us in the homebase was the target.

Vhic, one of our Bacolod teammates, looked at me and asked, "Sir, naamoy nyo?"

When I nodded, all four people seated with me at the table sprung into action, rushing outside to tell everyone else to go inside.

Of the 17 of us in the homebase, only three are non-Region VI residents. People outside of the cottage apparently didn't smell anything (which made it clearer that the target was someone inside), but they need only hear one word when they asked what's going on.

"Tanangaw."

We smelled and heard them through these windows.
Everyone rushed in, even those halfway with their shower (soap all over their bodies and all). Our Capiz teammates were already sprinkling salt on the window sills and doorways, and instructing the others to stay clear of the windows and cover as much of them with all available tarpaulins.

The scent went away as quickly as it came. I told everyone to get ready for the meeting. The ladies finished their shower at the kitchen, and shortly everyone was present at the main table.

But no one could concentrate on the meeting. The atmosphere was tense, and the air was thick with humidity -- and something else.

Almost everyone looked up from their notes when the sounds came. Two short bursts of it. Very faint, but clear.

Tik-tik.

"Sir, nandito na," said Vhic, the Bacolodnon who seem to be the most sensitive of the bunch. She was the one seated next to me when the sickening scent came.

"Just act normally, guys," I told everyone. "We'll postpone the meeting for tomorrow, but please continue editing your sheets."

Work-related chatter filled the homebase. Every now and then, Kel, the youngest in our team, would ask what's going on. The ladies would calmly explain the sound they heard, the tik-tik, and what it meant.

Then Vhic said something, and for the first time, I got worried.

"Sir, dalawa sila."

The ladies from Capiz agreed. "Nagsasagutan sila, sir. Pakinggan nyong mabuti."

It was a hot and humid night, but the frogs were croaking outside the house. But there was something weird about the croaking -- slightly higher pitched, and in short, quick succession.

Oh freakin' crap. Korokotok.

"Bag-o nga yanggaw, sir. Pinaka- aggressive," ("Newly converted, sir. The most aggressive") said Vhic.

I've only heard stories about this type of aswang, the one making the korokotok croaks. They are said to be the most aggressive, being newly-transformed and still unable to control themselves.

This was the first time I heard them up close.

"Guys, I'm sorry for all of this," I told everyone. "Hindi ko alam na magiging ganito ang reaksyon nila." 

Somebody scraped a knife against the concrete wall, and placed the knife next to my laptop.

Good grief! The aswangs outside don't need any more provocation, and I don't intend to draw a bullseye on my forehead.

Note: The knife-scraping technique only works if you are intent on sustaining the scraping until the aswang leaves the premises. Do it half-heartedly, and you only make them angrier.

And that was exactly what's happening outside -- the croaking increased, and we heard another sound.

Wak-wak.

Then the roof made a creaking sound.

Vangie handed me a rosary, and Cora a deformed bullet. For protection, they said. I wrapped the rosary in my left wrist, and started praying. Herma, one of the Capiznons, sliced a calamansi and stuffed it inside my pocket.

"Wala tayong luya, sir, kaya ito na lang muna."

Had I been alone, "they" could easily enter the cottage here.
There were 17 of us, and two of them. I believe that was the only reason they still have not entered the cottage.

What if I was alone in this cottage? I shuddered at the thought. I was only calm and brave because I was with a big group.

"Sir, matulog na lang siguro kayo sa loob ng kwarto. Hindi sila titigil hanggang nakikita ka nila dito."

I didn't argue. It was too early for bedtime, and I already marked a nice, cozy spot by the window sill to be my sleeping area for the night.

But the croaking outside was getting more frequent, and something was definitely moving on the roof -- no way will I let any part of my body be anywhere near the windows.

I laid down on the bed next to Kel, and in twenty minutes, I was snoring. Thank God for fatigue.


Oct. 24, Day Two. At 7:00 am, the team was ready to leave homebase to cover the next sitio -- which, as typical in areas as vast as Guimaras, would take about 20 minutes on single motorbike.

As I was leaving the cottage, I smelled the scent again, and that annoying headache came back.

One of our visitors last night was still there, following me. Vhic nodded when I looked at her. She can smell it, too.

I checked my pocket for the rosary and the bullet. There's no use staying alone in homebase. I should go out, and hope that the motorbike would be fast enough to take me away as quickly as possible.

The moment we entered the next sitio, the headache faded and I felt lighter.

The people in that sitio was so much friendlier. They asked us where we were staying, and offered a little warning: "Mas maraming aswang dyan kesa dito." 

We left that sitio at 7:00 p.m. The air was light and cool, and I never felt so energized since I got to Guimaras.

That was such a nice, friendly place.

And that nice feeling lasted the whole night -- my last night in Guimaras.


Oct. 25, Day Three. After one last meeting, I left the Guimaras at 11:30am, and traveled to Aklan. I arrived in Kalibo at 7:00 p.m.

Mom and I briefly dropped by Mother Stations' Aklan homebase to say hi to the team, then we proceeded to Dumaguit to attend the wake of her auntie.


Oct. 26, Day Four. I took the motorbike to homebase, and spent the day observing the interviews. At 8:00 p.m, I left homebase and rode to Dumaguit to attend the wake.

We left the wake at 11:00 p.m., and convoyed to Kalibo, with my Mom and her driver following me a few meters back.

It was already raining when we entered Kalibo. I reduced speed to just 60 kph, minding the slippery road.

As I was passing by the Chinese cemetery near the Capitol crossing, the scent hit me -- right through the helmet.

Tanangaw.

"Tangina naman o!", I shouted through my helmet, checking the side mirrors for any sign of presence behind me. All I saw were the headlights of my mom's Wrangler, following me closely.

The moment we parked at the apartment, I told everyone what happened. Inday, a family friend and a resident of Guimaras, immediately gave me some sort of oil which I applied on my stomach and at the soles of my feet. Just a counter-measure.


Oct. 27, Day Five. I met with the team in Dumaguit, and went to work for the whole day. I spoke nothing about last night's incident.

But as we were leaving the area at around 7:00 p.m., one of the Aklan team members mentioned something about tanangaw in the homebase.

I told the team I will meet them later tonight at the homebase. I proceeded to meet my mom at the wake.

I was drenched when I got there. As I entered the house, my mom told me, "Anak, kinilabutan ako nung dumating ka. Akala ko si Auntie, pero nung makita ko na ikaw yung dumating, tumayo yung balahibo ko sa braso."

My mom's cousin, Auntie Sara (who doesn't know about my Guimaras story at that time), also commented that she felt something when I arrived.

"Guin pang likidyan ako." (In Tagalog: kinilabutan ako)

That's when I told her about what happened in Guimaras, and last night. I also mentioned what I just heard from my teammates about the scent at the homebase.

"Mami, tingin mo, sinundan ako hanggang dito?"

Maybe, she said. We decided it would be wise to go home early tonight.

On our way home, we stopped by the homebase -- just to confirm something. We spoke with the team, and asked about the tanangaw.

The scent came shortly after I left the homebase yesterday, they said.

It's confirmed.

Whoever welcomed us in Guimaras has followed me all the way to Aklan, and was searching for me at the homebase.

Mami, whose dissertation was about aswangs, decided that I should already consult a fell-pledged mediko.

This one is powerful, she said. "Hindi enough si Inday para labanan ito."

Oct. 28, Last Day. My flight to Manila was at 12:30 p.m. There was still time to visit the local mediko.

It was 6:30 a.m. when we dropped by the mediko's house. She was already up and sweeping her frontyard when we arrived.

She invited us in, and had me sit next to her. She touched a fresh egg three times on  my head -- one at the forehead, and at either temple, and asked me to hold the egg at my stomach while I tell her what happened.

I briefly described what we were doing in Guimaras, how I was speaking on the phone while walking alone, and how sick I felt later.

After that, the first thing the mediko said was, "Mataba siyang babae na maigsi ang buhok, at yung bahay niya ay nasa gilid lang ng kalsada malapit doon sa dinaanan mo."

She's absolutely correct about the woman's description. And when I asked how she knew it, she said, "Nakikita ko ang aura niya. Nahawa lang ang isang ito sa byenan niya. Bago lang siya."

When she cracked the egg on a plate, the yolk was broken, and it formed into something very distinct.

A bat-like figure.

"Wak-wak ang isang ito," said the mediko, pointing at the broken yolk to where the head is, the wings, and the supposedly severed torso. "Kaya niya ring maging paniki, kaya ka nasundan dito."

She won't allow me to take a photo of the yolk, so there's a sketch here of how I best remember the shape was.

She touched another egg on my head, and had me press it against my stomach for another 5 minutes. When she broke it, it was intact.

"Pinapanood ka niya ngayon. Tingnan mo. Ito ang dalawang mata nya."

True enough, there were two eye-like swirls on the egg yolk -- like Rinnegan (refer to Naruto) -- staring back at us like, no matter what angle you take.

She flipped the yolk over to reveal two identical wavy lines, perfectly equidistant from each other -- like a road.

"Eto yung kalsadang dinaanan mo, paliko-liko, at dyan mo siya nasalubong."

She's correct, again.

She made me take a spoonful of bitter-tasting oil, and gave me a small bottle of the same oil and some herbs for the next three nights.

And so for three nights, I smelled of oil and herbs.

Oh, and I was not allowed to bathe for three days, either.

July 14, 2013

ME time

Haircut.

Window shopping at the electronics section.

Pacific Rim.

Jollibbee Ultimate Burger Steak and Jolli Hotdog Classic.

This is ME time. ^^

July 07, 2013

Simple Truths: On Love -- by Kent Nerburn

It breaks my heart to see this wonderful article being mercilessly ripped off and plagiarized by so many who have no decency of properly citing its author.

This article is at pages 63-66 of Kent Nerburn's book, Simple Truths: Clear and Gentle Guidance on the Big Issues in Life, first printed in March 1996 by New World Library, 14 Pamaron Way, Novato, California 94949. As per the author's note, much of Simple Truths' materials were excepted from his book, Letters to My Son,© 1993 Kent Nerburn.

My wife bought her copy of Simple Truths at National Bookstore Katipunan, Quezon City, Philippines (Filipinas?? hehe), in 1997. It came as a shock to her, and most likely anyone owning this book, when a then university student got profusely credited for an essay he submitted to his professor, and passed the said essay as his own, when in fact his work was a heavily re-worded and re-phrased version of Nerburn's piece. That story and the alleged original piece done by this student went viral for a while via email. There was no fezbuk yet back then, and I imagine though it would have been so much easier to rectify the situation -- had that student posted his work on his wall.

But like all else that goes awry in social media, that incident was also forgotten.

This is the single most important work on love that I hold close to my heart, and it is only fitting that I put it here verbatim with proper citations.



  
***

On Love

It is a mystery why we fall in love. It is a mystery how it happens. It is a mystery when it comes. It is a mystery why some loves grow and it is a mystery why some loves fail.You can analyze this mystery and look for reasons and causes, but you will never do any more than take the life out of the experience. 

Love is more than the sum of the interests and attractions and  commonalities that two people share. And just as life itself is a gift that comes and goes in its own time, the coming of love must be taken as an unfathomable gift that cannot be questioned in its ways.


Too often, when love comes to people, they try to grasp the  love and hold it to them, refusing to see that is a gift freely given and a gift that just as freely moves away. When they fall out of love, or the person they love feels the spirit of love leaving, they try desperately to reclaim the love that is lost rather than accepting the gift for what it was.

They want answers where there are no answers. They want to know what is wrong with them, or they try to get their lover to change, thinking that if some small things were different love would bloom again. They blame their circumstances. They blame each other. They try anything to give meaning to what has happened. But there is no meaning beyond the love itself, and until they accept its own mysterious way they live in a sea of misery.


You need to treat what love brings you with kindness. If you find yourself in love with someone who does not love you, be gentle with yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. Love just didn't choose to rest in the other person's heart.

If you find someone else in love with you toward whom you feel no love, feel honored that love came and called at your door, but gently refuse the gift you cannot return. Do not take advantage, do not cause pain. How you deal with love is how love will deal with you, and all our hearts feel the same pains and joys, even if our lives and ways are very different.

If you fall in love with another who falls in love with you, and then love chooses to leave, do not try to reclaim it or to assess blame. Let it go. There is a reason and there is a meaning. You will know it in time, but time itself will choose the moment.


Remember this and keep it in your heart. You don't choose love. Love chooses you. All you can really do is accept it for all its mystery when it come into your life. Feel the way it fills you to overflowing, then reach out and give it away. Give it back to the person who brought it to you. Give it to others who seem poor in spirit. Give it to the world around you in any way you can.

Love has its own time, its own season, and its own reasons for coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it or reason it into staying. If it chooses to leave, from your heart or from the heart of your lover, there is nothing you can do and nothing you should do. Be glad that it came to live for a moment in your life. If you keep your heart open, it will surely come again.

#

June 23, 2013

Happy birthday, Dad!

Hi Dad,

Happy 65th birthday!

Very soon your friends and family will be flocking to your fezbuk account to post greetings on your timeline. I'll just greet you here instead.

Besides, I have not accepted your friend request for the longest time. Sorry about that, but I know someone else is handling your account, and I wouldn't want that someone poking around my fezbuk stuffs once I accept your request hee hee.

This gut feel of mine was confirmed when "you" posted something on your timeline over a week after you have been laid to rest. But!! That's okay -- you made your choices and you got to do what you got to do.

Heniway, sorry again for not finishing that tribute video I was supposed to show during the interment mass. Ate Liz chose a nice song for it:


The thing is, there are just not enough photos of you around the house, somehow. Where did all your albums go? But let us worry about that. ^^

On your special day, let me re-live the nicest times we had.

Let's go to Padi's Point! Any beer garden would do as long as there's a live band and a chance for the guests to come up on the stage and SING! You love that, don't you? We'll order our favorite pale pilsen and crispy pata (If you brought your medicines, otherwise it's vegetable sticks for us. But heck, it's your birthday!) and catch up on balitas and what-nots. Try not to talk about money -- this topic gets you all gloomy and grumpy. Let talk about business instead. Pigs, chickens, eggs, buyers, deliveries, metal scraps, fishponds, etc etc etc. How about fighting cocks? Have you been winning in those prestigious Batangas arenas lately? Are you breeding some prize fighters at the moment? What vitamins are you giving them?

Now's a good time to talk about politics, I suppose, with you a public servant now and all that thingy. With my expertise in local polling, I could give you some ideas on governance. I heard your fellow councilors say they were pushing you to be Barangay Chairman. I must say it would be quite a feat to stand up against the current Chair, but maybe with a little survey here and there, we could swing the voting preferences to your favor.

And by the fourth bottle, I should be telling the waiter that you'd like to have a shot at that microphone with your favorite song. And being the birthday boy, they should let you sing. ^^

But! I can't tell him Frank Sinatra's "My Way", which is always your first choice. I've never heard anyone sing it like you do, which is why you and Mommy make a killer duet, and why your children love singing, too. But for now, let's stick with Marco Sison's "My Love will See you Through", shall we?

Of course you will have a little speech before you sing. You would thank us, your children, for bringing you to that place, wish everyone a very good evening, and maybe compliment the singer for her looks or sexy outfit. You're a great public speaker -- your years in the teaching profession and living in Batan only made you better at charming the crowd. Your ka-barrios in Galamay-Amo will always remember the happiest party that sleepy town has ever known because of you.

I know the crowd will love your singing. You never do falsettos, and I have always wondered why I can't hit the high notes as well as you do. I suppose I only got the looks (half of it) and not the voice haha!

The songs you choose are all perfect for you. Maybe in time I would have a song list that won't get me in trouble. I should be staying away from the likes of Maroon Five and Guns n Roses, and instead go for Frank Sinatra, Matt Monroe, Marco Sison, and Nat King Cole -- your kind of singers.

And when we're done with the last round of beer, we'll be saying goodbyes while you give us your blessings (Mano po). You will give your regards to Jons (somehow you never pronounced Joan's name correctly, after all those years that I have been with her hee hee. Oh well, natatawa na lang lagi kami).

We miss you, Dad. Happy happy birthday!

Nagmamahal,
Bon, Joan, and the rest of your family




May 02, 2013

He's home


Silverio Hernandez Laroza, retired Elementary School Principal and Councilor of Galamay-Amo, San Jose, Batangas, passed away on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, due to heart attack. He was 64 years old.

Fondly called Ver or Biyo by his friends, family and relatives, Dad began his teaching career in Manila before spending most of his years as an educator in Aklan. 

If anyone thought the Akeanon language is difficult to learn, Dad learned it in less than two years. Not bad, huh?

He returned to his hometown after retiring from the teaching profession, and was elected Councilor in 2010. He left behind a legacy of hard work and camaraderie among his colleagues and community.
 
He was laid to rest at the Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery on April 3, 2013, after a mass held at
Saint Joseph Cathedral, San Jose, Batangas.


We love you, Dad. God bless and rest in peace.
***
This was, more or less, how I announced Dad's passing in fezbuk. It felt like I was writing for the office.

There's so much more to say about Dad, only I don't know where to start.

Maybe that's it. Start.

Dad has always been the pioneer in his family. He was the first among his clan to marry someone from the Visayas -- a very brave thing, considering the word Bisaya only meant two things among Batanguenos back in the 70s: a household help, or a sex worker. 

Well, Mami, armed with education and that never-say-die attitude, shattered every stereotype Dad's clan had about Visayans. But that's another story.

Truth be told, I only know Dad as a father. A very, very strict father. Imagine leather belts, hours of solitary confinement, clean-my-gun-while-you-entertain-your-suitor hospitality, and dagger-looks -- yeah, that kind of strict.

But there were tears in his eyes when a two-inch needle was being inserted to my vein for a blood transfusion when I was in highschool. I knew then that he loves all of us, his children, so dearly. He's just not good at showing it.

Joan and I were already in Batangas on that same evening of March 27. Only then did I know my Dad as someone else -- a friend and a public servant -- from the eyes of his many relatives and colleagues.

Listening to so many stories, I knew Dad's has fulfilled his dreams, and he went away peacefully and contented. There was no heaviness in my heart, and I never bothered hiding my eyes.

I only cried when I whispered my last goodbye, and laid the rose on his casket. It felt so sad thinking that we are leaving him behind in that lonely cemetery.

But... he's home.



February 11, 2013

The Pope steps down

I don't consider myself as religious, but the news of Pope Benedict XVI resigning drastically changed how I view the Pope and what this title represents.

I grew up in a church led by someone who embodied all my ideas of Catholic holiness in the modern world. Just praying before his tomb is easily one of the most memorable moments of my Catholic life.

Because of this resignation, the title Pope has been reduced to a mere occupation, instead of a calling, a destiny, and a symbol that one carry and fulfill till their last breath.

Anyway, it's within his rights to resign should he deem himself not physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of performing his duties. God bless Pope Benedict XVI.

February 10, 2013

PW revisited

Perfect World PH is the only MMORPG left in my laptop after another round of hard disk cleanup -- something I do every now and then to try streamlining my life.

I still can't bring myself to completely say goodbye to it, even if it has been almost six months since I logged-in.

So I took a peek today at my Hun Ling (HL), just to check what's new in the game.

In the few minutes I was logged on, I saw people riding lobsters, floating fishes, and Harley Davidson motorbikes -- just among the new mounts introduced in the game. I also saw wings that I'm totally unfamiliar with.

The item mall is brimming with new fashions and items. Thanks to the game's fitting room feature, you don't need to spend real cash to see how the new costumes would look on your character.

And if the China server is any indication, the PH server is still opening up to many wonderful things.

As expected, my level 69 HL is now without a clan. Can't blame them -- gaming has elevated to near-celebrity status, so to achieve gaming fame the clans have to be in tiptop shape all the time. There are no rooms for slackers.

Well, nothing much to do but go through a couple of quests, and take some snapshots. Here are all four of the HL's avatar.

Avatar of the War Lord. Great for physical damage and stun.

Avatar of the Storm Mother. Deals magic damage.

Avatar of the Life Giver. Excellent shield caster and damage absorber.

Avatar of Chaos Bringer. Requires 2 chi flares to use, and lasts only for 20 seconds. But can dish out amazing fire damage.

February 09, 2013

Reconnect

My mother is safe back home after spending a day and a half bonding with her college buddies. This is their second time to reunite after over 45 years since their graduation at PNU.

It began last year when four of them found one another in fezbuk (cue that nice FB moment music here) and decided to meet up for an afternoon of kwentuhan in Cavite. There they agreed to find the others, and make it an annual event.

And after a year of searching, last Thursday *drum roll please*, there are now five of them. My mom flew all the way to Manila to meet the same three people as last year, and another balikbayan.

I won't go into the details at the trouble my mother went through to see her college buddies. For someone with so many responsibilities, I'm amazed at the importance she gives to reconnecting with old friends.

And in some ways, it inspired me, too.

I wasn't able to attend my high school reunion last month. Too much work, I guess. It's election year.

But, of course, it would have been possible had I really, really wanted to.

The buzz in the batch's private fezbuk chat says 2016 is the next reunion.

Great.

Another election year.

January 17, 2013

More talks on poverty

Just monitoring the news.

Anyway, it wasn't shown in this news clip below (which begins somewhere around 32:00 in the video below), but I think I mentioned that a declining hunger (Question: Nakaranas ba kayo ng gutom at walang makain nitong nakaraang tatlong buwan?) among families despite rising self-rated poverty (Question: Saan po ninyo ilalagay ang inyong pamilya sa card na ito [show card with words MAHIRAP and HINDI MAHIRAP; the space/line between the two words is also an option]) is an indication of effective hunger mitigation or containment efforts on the part of the government, considering the number of natural calamities experienced by the country before the survey.

January 15, 2013

Most unusual

The December 28 phone interview by Solar Network News (at around 09:30 in this video below) caught me not only while on my full-vacation mode, but also between the living room and dining area of my in-laws' home in Roxas City, Capiz -- where the phone signal (via landline) is most decent.

January 13, 2013

Amazing

My 2012-in-review completely forgot to mention Sting's "Back to Bass" concert on December 9, 2012 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Sting would probably be the only guy I called sexy, with the way he move on stage and caress his bass guitar as he sings the songs wifey and I so love.

***

It's not everyday that I get to see something amazing.

It could be cerulean skies. Or rainbows above a gloomy city skyline. Or the Mayon Volcano. Or Sting. Or acts of kindness in the most unexpected places. Or (another fezbuk moment here) pure talents in the most ordinary places.

Cheers to all that's amazing. And cheers to those who make it happen. ^^