Sunday, May 27, 2007


rarely did we think about leaving our country "for greener pastures" or "to give our children a better future" in the past recent years. that was since the time we realized it is here where god led us and it is here where he intended for us to stay and raise our family. it is only when we hear of our close friends planning to leave, or when we have come from another country, when my husband and i get into a discussion about the decision we made several years back.

few weeks ago after returning from new zealand was one such time. and last night was another. driving home from a reunion with old friends, we pondered on why one very dear couple to us, was planning to migrate. it was totally unexpected and i felt, after a few seconds of disbelief, sadness. why, i asked my husband. we thought they were doing very well here. just like us, they work as doctors and are able to enjoy the fruits of their labor with their kids, have extra for little luxuries from time to time, and still have some left for savings. just like us, they strive to be responsible and concerned citizens of this country and do not let its current state of affairs get the better of them. we thought that just like us, they were quite happy to stay.

my husband says it is because of the many trials which came their way during the past year. it has been a problematic year for them in terms of career, which of course had some effect on their family. an unjust lawsuit hovering above their heads continue to torment them. a robbery and threat to their security forced them to move out of their home. and some other disturbing things. they were all too much to bear. and they took these as signs from god that just maybe, he is telling them that this country is not the place for them.

we re-visit our decision to stay. i review my previous entry on "to stay or not", and realize that pretty much all the reasons which led us to decide on staying, remain the same. it is not to say that everything has been fine and dandy all the time. my husband also had a major crisis at work last year, a hopeless and frustrating situation which almost pushed him into depression. i felt his pain brought about by injustice, as well as my own pain brought about by a sense of helplessness. there were other disappointments here and there. and intermittent thoughts that maybe, our country will not be so significantly better within our lifetime. at least not in the way we would like it to be.

but unlike our friends, our trials have made us realize that god is indeed still telling us to stay. my husband's major crisis turned out to be a real blessing in disguise. whenever we have some uncertainties, god unfailingly creates situations to turn our thoughts around. he quiets us in an awesome, unbelievable way.

yes, he is still shouting it out loud for us to hear. he says, hush, be not restless. be calm, stray not. you are what i want you to be, where i want you to be.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

kuya lito

i was fearful that our computer was a-crashing last night. thankfully, i got some tips from my friend, aly, on how to unload the drives as overload may be the reason for it malfunctioning from time to time. the tips helped but i felt my pc really needed a pc doctor. it was also aly who referred my to a pc shop to have it diagnosed and treated by a certain "jun".

fortunately, the following day, today, was my off day from work. so i made sure i went to the shop early to bring the tower for a check-up. i was there before it opened. i was told they wouldn't repair any unit that was not bought from them. and that there was no jun working there. what?! i might be in the wrong shop. after some confusion which was cleared up by aly - bless her soul and her charm as she was able to go around their policy- my pc was checked out by a pc doctor named "kuya lito", the same guy whom aly thought was named "jun".

kuya lito spent several minutes tinkering around the hard disc, checking the mother board and the hardware. he even brushed the inside and took out about a centimeter high layer of dust which collected inside the tower. eowww! kuya lito was so nice and so patient, explaining to me what the problem was, that the problem was in the software and the pc just needs reformatting.

"can you do it? kahit sa bahay nalang kung hindi puwede dito?" i asked as i sensed his hesitation.

"ma'am kaya, pero bawal po," he said. " eto nalang po, yung kaibigan ko," he adds as he hands me a business card. he actually could have earned extra from the home service but he chose not to. he chose to follow the company rules.

"ok, thank you. sana kasing-husay mo ito," i said.

"opo, magaling at mabait po siya," he answered.

"so, doon na ako magbabayad?" i asked him, as i reached for cash to pay for his services.

"ay ok na po. wala pong bayad yon," he answers.

"huh? i was surprised that i didn't have to pay for all that he did, checking out my tower, diagnosing what the problem was and cleaning the inside even! "sige na, kahit pang-merienda lang," as i left the cash on his work table. i felt uneasy not compensating him for his kindness and time.

"huwag po, hindi po. bawal po sa amin yan," as he pointed to the sign on the wall which read "no tipping allowed" and ran after me to give back my cash.

i was amazed at him. i didn't have any choice but to take the money back. although i felt he deserved to be compensated for his work, i think if i didn't take the money back, i would have insulted him. the cash could have filled and satisfied his tummy but would have depreciated his character and worth.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the nachos story

we decided to go to a nearby cafe for lunch after a little shopping at a weekend market. they had a shortlist menu serving pasta, sandwiches and pastries besides coffee and soda.

roque wanted nachos with melted cheese. i actually wanted him to eat something more substantial than that. i browsed through the menu, secretly hoping there would be none of what he wanted. there were two kinds of nachos, one with beef on it, and the other was vegetarian. great, i thought.

me: "you have to get something else, roque. they don't serve nachos with melted cheese."

roque: "aowww, i want nachos with melted cheese. just ask."
me: "no, there's none. look at the menu. see? they don't have that here."
roque: "but i want it. just ask. please just ask!"
me: "no! it's not in the menu nga. see? how about fish and chips? don't be difficult, please."
roque: "aowww, mom, just ask!"

in the meantime, the lady was done taking down the orders of everyone else and then turned to us, "so what will this handsome little boy have?"

me: "well, he wants nachos with just melted cheese but you don't have it, so....."
lady: "oh certainly, we can make that for him! no problem."
roque: "see?!!!!"

aowwww.... ok, ok..... you win. stubborn? assertive? i guess i should be pleased that my handsome little boy thinks of the box. thanks to progressive schooling.

Monday, May 14, 2007

wake up call

i was not quite awake yet this morning at around 6 am when our five-year old roque poked me and blurted this out, "how does a baby come out of a mommy's tummy?"

"what?!" that question woke me up real quickly, more successfully than an alarm clock would.

"i said, how does a baby come out of a mommy's tummy?" he repeated.

"uh..... um....." i wasn't quite sure how to answer that. and i didn't want to wake up gary just so he could help me out on this. i figured, what the heck, if he was ready to ask me that question, he was probably ready to hear the answer. anyways, since early this year, he didn't want to take a bath with me anymore. the last time we did, his back was turned to me and his head bent as he looked down on the bathroom floor the whole time. he made sure he would not see my naked body which to him was probably such an embarrassing sight. so here goes...

"you came out of my tummy when the doctor opened me up here," pointing to my bikini scar. "then he had to sew it up so it would close."

"ya, i know that. i learned that from higgly town heroes on playhouse disney. is there another way?"

"well ya, uh..... um....." so i decided to plunge right through, "the baby can also come out through the pipi." hoping he would understand that and not ask me about the gory details.

"what?!! eeeeowww!! his eyes almost as big as his mouth opened wide.

yup, he got that alright.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

the red man light

as we get older, we tend to take some things for granted, especially if we experience these things day in and day out. even the not so good things we see become a natural part of us and so we tend not to complain about them. or maybe decide that they are too little to be frazzled about.

we were weaving through traffic and rushing to attend an anniversary mass in quezon city yesterday. as we drove along university of santo tomas, at a stoplight, our five year-old son roque, blurted out, "why don't the people stop when they see the red man light?" when we were in auckland, we did a lot of walking. through the parks and even the city. in the city streets, he loved pressing the arrow button as we waited for the "green man light" to signal the pedestrians that it was time to cross the street. "why do they keep on crossing even if it is still the red man light?"

to that innocent question, my husband gary and i just looked at each other, knowing exactly what was going on. and gary just shook his head in disappointment. it was a simple observation. and yes, it is just a small thing. besides, none of the pedestrians got hurt as the cars were still in a stop too. but hey, roque's simple observation hit a tender spot. yes, why are simple rules not followed? we knew very well in roque's mind, there was some confusion why people in auckland were following rules and why people here were not.

i knew what was going on in gary's mind then. i was disappointed too. because in our minds, there are bigger rules here which are deliberately not followed. it is not good that seeing the same thing that roque observed did not even bother us until he pointed it out to us. it happens all the time and we had just gotten used to it. it was a small thing and we had taken it for granted, unaware that it had confused roque's little mind. and the bigger picture is, truly, as a people without discipline, we fail because of this. and as a people calloused to people without discipline, we fail all the more.

at the next stoplight, i needed to clear up roque's confusion, and erase the comparison forming in his mind, without having to highlight or cover up our people's wrongdoing. so i asked him, "why, what should they do when they see a "red man light?" he answered, "stop." i asked again, "why should they stop? what might happen if they still cross the street?" and he said a matter-of-factly, "if they cross, a car might hit them and they will get hurt." so i said, "that's right. that's why we have rules that we all have to follow all the time, wherever we are. because the rules are there to protect us, right?" and to that he smiled and nodded.

i smiled back, pleased with our little conversation but not really all that happy because i see the bigger picture from this small picture. because i am reminded of our failure as a people. and because i know i will not always be there to correct whatever small confusion roque will still encounter along the way. as he gets older, i want him to continue to be observant, to be able to choose right from wrong, and not to take little things for granted. little wrong things lead to bigger wrong things. nothing is too small to take for granted.

Friday, May 11, 2007

just a friendly reminder

after two glorious weeks in new zealand with my family, i struggle to get back into the groove of things..... the daily routine, work, the house, activities of whatever's left with summer. vacations away from home especially this one, being the longest we've ever had since we got back to manila in 1998, has a way of tickling, teasing, picking one's mind about things close to home.

it was wonderful absorbing all the beauty that was in new zealand. no wonder everyone says it is really beautiful down there. it truly is. so refreshingly green everywhere. so clean... you can even drink water straight out of the tap! and the people are so simple... city-dwellers or not, white-collared workers or blue. just about everything and everyone are pretty much taken cared of... from education, work, healthcare and the environment, the newborns to the elderly, even the unemployed or those in prison. there is a conceivable effort to center on family and healthy, non-stressful living. shops are closed by 5pm. places are developed for healthy living and simple pleasures like strolling, hiking, biking. there is a conscious effort to give people time to smell the wonderful scent of grass or watch the glorious sunset by the bay.

we met up with a med school classmate who was living his dream as a kiwi. that's what they call new zealanders... yep, same as kiwi the bird, kiwi the fruit, and kiwi their currency. we also encountered several pinoys, some who have just relocated and some who have been kiwis for more than a decade or so. some of them went through a lot of difficulty to get to where they are now. some were still awaiting the rest of their family to join them there. almost everyone asked if we had plans to relocate and encouraged us to stay. all were very happy to be there. and we can see why. it was as clear as their sky. and their question and sincere advice as crisp and pure as the air they breathe.

before we can even give it a serious thought, and barely a week into our vacation, i received a text from manila. it was my tita cora, as though in anticipation of the tickling our minds were getting. "i'm glad you guys are having fun. enjoy yourselves but just visit. huwag mag-ma-migrate."

so enjoy immensely we did. but i must admit, it is very difficult not to be tickled because we really did.