Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Meeting Lazarus

on my way to the laundry house this morning, i passed by a woman seated by the roadside. she seemed in anguish. beside her was a soiled sack, which she must have been using to pick up garbage she could sell.
at a sari-sari store nearby, a young girl was looking at that woman with curious eyes.
i was such in a hurry that i didn't stop to check on the woman -maybe i could ask around and do her a favor.
as i handed my bag of dirty clothes to the laundrywoman, it occured to me it was not my first time to see that poor woman.
one night some months back, i recall giving her a piece of bread i bought from the bakery store where i found her wailing. she was carrying that same gray sack.
i don't know why i gave her a bread - for all i know she could be in grief over something else. but my hunch - that she was hungry - proved right when upon getting my little gift, the woman said 'thank you' as if she'd been waiting for that all along.
her reaction surprised me. that night i was rushing to get home to have dinner myself.
as i stepped out of the laundry house, i said to myself maybe i should go back and help her out. but first, i have to have breakfast - it was quarter to 10 and i eat my breakfast until 10 only.
i crossed the street towards the carinderia where i have become a 'suki,' for indeed the food served there by the bicolana cook is as good as the one served at home.
halfway through my eating, i asked myself what i could give the woman - i looked at the roadside and she was still there.
okay, i have a P50 spare, i could give her that. i could invite her to the carinderia and order her food. wait, i could bring her to my house, i have three fresh apples there.
I was about to pay my bill and had already figured what to do when, turning around, she was all but gone!
the poor woman, she could have eaten the scraps that fell from my table. i had P50, i had three apples - that made me the rich man. she only had a dirty sack. her anguished reached out to the heavens.
in heaven, there is a great divide that separates the saved and the condemned.
must i look for that woman before she gets her heaven with God?

Sunday, May 21, 2006


we have a project in our community where we collect pet bottles and sell them to scrap dealers - those familiar containers of coke, c2, mineral water or even cooking oil whose bottoms are raised up. after the contents are consumed, the bottles are normally thrown everywhere - in the backyard, on the streets, even on bodies of water like creeks, rivers and the seas.
they sell like P15-P18 per kilo. the caps sell for more because they are made of hard plastic.
what i know is that these plastics are shipped to china and recycled into buttons, other plastic products, such stuff.
anyway, what we have to do is to bring them up during our monthly fellowship and lump them with other plastic scraps collected by everybody else. we sort of create a mound when these plastics are brought together. the last time, if my memory serves me right, we collected something like P1-2k worth.
all the money that we will produce from the scraps will be used to fund the activities of our community, so that we don't have to ask donations every time.
at the press room at the central bank, i have asked the boy friday to keep in a corner in the room all the bottles of coke, c2 and mineral water that we consume.
that was about a month ago. last friday, the collection was enough to fill in 2 large boxes. my next concern was to bring them to the fellowship meeting.
first of all, i have to flatten the plastic to save space, as well as clear them of the wrappings.
Now the process of flattening them up is an act in itself. i used a thick yellow pages directory to jump on the plastics. i was doing that for the 8th of the about 20 large coke bottles i had targeted that night, when Papi, a fellow journalist who was in the room with me watching TV, noticed the crackling sound.
"What are you doing?" he asked. I said nothing, just getting rid of the thrash. but i tell you, the sound produced by my jumping on the bottles with the huge pldt directory on it was enough to cause a slight vibration on the entire 4th floor of the building.
after 12 more jumps, some profuse sweating, and with Papi twitching his head from the TV to my jumping act and perhaps occasionally jerking in amusement or irritation, i finished the odd job.
then i searched the cupboard for a huge plastic bag to put in all those scraps.
as i was leaving the room, I bade Papi goodbye saying, "sorry for the noise, you see i have to do this because i'm a scavenger."
a scavenger. as i boarded the jeepney for the ride home with the little weight of flattened pet bottles in my hand, i felt a tinge of joy.
i will be bringing the Lord a mound of trash, but it feels like i'm giving Him something very precious.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

the instructor is driving me crazy

i started to learn how to drive today. really it was my first time to sit in the driver's seat and how comfortable it was! i learned how to step on the clutch, the breaks and the gas - basically the three controls you will need to get the car running. plus the gear, which i had the most difficulty to maneuver.
it was all one hour for the first lesson, though i was able to run the car about 5 miles around espana. it was okay and i think for a starter i did well.
what pestered me was the instructor who kept telling me i was too stiff and nervous. the poor guy, what did he expect? for me to have that instant confidence to move on the road after a few minutes of training.
i had a hard time really with shifting gears. my worst error was to push it down and up without pushing on the clutch. the spoiler in the passenger seat would scream in annoyance, shaking his head even or grinding in disgust. i may have harmed his car, but then again that should be expected. after all, that's what it's supposed to be - if the gear gets dislocated, then they should repair it. that's where the driving fee should go, the instructor was of no help at all.
i was not nervous, stiff maybe but not at all jittery, even with wayward drivers on my sides.
it was tough mixing the controls together or doing the pushing and the shifting all at the same time. it was crazy i got disoriented most of the time, and this guy beside me was just proving himself to be a baggage.
i would love to have another fellow teach me in my next lesson.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

an opus for a friend

A friend, or friends for they are a husband and wife, asked me to write a narrative about her recent marriage, which i had the privilege to attend - actually the newly tied husband made the request first!
It was held in Bacolod City in March. I was not simply a spectator, i was part of the entourage as host for the reception held in L'Fisher Hotel. Guess what, i haven't done any of that in the past, but I guess I have to give it a try. After all, it's a request from a friend.

What do you say when you're invited to a wedding? In a faraway location, that is Bacolod City yet? Why, you say yes right away!
I've been to Bacolod, the city of smiles, only once and that was like eons ago. In that fleeting visit, for it was just a two-hour ferry stopover from Cagayan de Oro en route to Manila, the place impressed me so much that I told myself I should be back for a longer stay.
Now has come the opportunity. Honey and Waldee are two special people I hold in my heart. For some reasons, I was drawn to Honey, only to find out that we're connected by a common friend, which we didn't know until that moment of asking.
Waldee is one fellow that strikes me as a sincere person. He knows his way with his keyboard - I had the feeling if he didn't hook up with Honey, he would be married with this instrument.
That talent has been put to good, and still is, in our charismatic community.
Escaping work on a Friday, I hopped on the plane with three other companions and flew to Bacolod. The 5 a.m. flight gave us much time to lounge around before Saturday, the wedding day.
In just an hour, we were there at the city airport. Miles, our host, came and fetched us and off we went to painting the city red.
Bacolod is a fine city with wide roads and big hotels. We stayed though with Miles' place somewhere in the outskirts of the city proper.
Late Friday until early Saturday, more of us came, members of the community that is. It was a lot fun, there we were, away from stressing Manila. The weekend promised to give us thrills.
The wedding was held in a white-painted church, whose ambience strikes me as resembling Mary the Queen Parish near Xavier School in Greenhills.
It could be because nearby was a school whose clientele are like those at Xavier.
It is a beautiful church that is inside flooded by lights coming from the high and wide windows that have triangular designs.
The entourage came, the procession was towed in order and in no time at all, the bride was marching her way to the altar. At the altar, the groom was in cloud nine waiting for his lady.
I was at the loft with the choir members and from where we stood, the sight below was the loveliest one could see in a Saturday noon.
As the rituals unfolded, the choir let out its melodious voice of liturgical songs interspersed with songs of endearment and affectation.
It was hard to believe it was the same group that sings for our weekly prayer meetings!
Downstairs, Honey and Waldee were professing their eternal vows to each other. It was a sight you want to hold forever!
Before the rites were over, the presiding priest - why, he was Honey's college classmate! - handed the couple a specially crafted gift which I found out later were the framed letters that he asked the couple to write each other before the wedding.
Naturally, every one looked marvelous with their best Sunday dress. I myself was wearing a rented barong, which fitted me to a T, though the heat made the wear uncomfortable.
After the photo opportunities, it was at last time to go to reception - the grand L'Fisher Hotel on the city's main avenue, Lacson St. Memen and I skipped the photo session because we had to 'acclimatize' with the convention hall where the program for the reception will be held.
Tell you what, I was nursing a sore throat that day and choking in cough so I was a bit nervous.
From the outside, the hotel doesn't strike you as one perfect for a wedding reception. But go inside and see what it offers - it's a grand ballroom not unlike the ones you see in Metro Manila.
I knew right then the Department of Tourism has a reason for classifying the hotel as five-star.
The hall was awash with the colors of golden wood. At the main stage, well, the design was just as exquisite with Honey and Waldee's name emblazoned in the backdrop.
Memen and I settled at the right base of the stage and in no time the guests filed in - they had to come first, the couple and their entourage would make a cinematic entrance later.
Soon, the entourage came in and Honey and Waldee were now making the dramatic entrance - to the tune of "Moon River."
Near the left side of the stage was another stage, which served as the podium for singers and musicians playing for the couple that dreamy afternoon.
It was time for everyone to take a seat. I emboldened myself and came out with a rather deep baritone voice, which later thinned out to its natural pitch as my nervousness faded, to start the program along with Memen.
When in Rome do what the Romans do. So Memen and I, with obvious effort, blurted out to the audience "maayo nga gab-i" and some other obscure Hiligaynon words we memorized earlier.
The audience could only laugh.
The reception was all new. Honey and Waldee so designed it that it won't be like the ones we saw before. The program was different. Before each introduction was made, a guest would render a song. Madel, also from our community, was the main performer, along with Jet who front acts for Waldee's band Luna. JJ, a youngster neighbor of Waldee, played the violin.
Because of the long list of songs, I had the feeling we were attending a concert that was incidentally the venue for a wedding reception and not the other way around.
But it was worth it, hearing Madel belt out, no not liturgical songs, but novelty songs like Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You" with clarity and skill.
Kingsley, Honey's college friend, was the other major performer in the hall. Call it coincidence but his plane was flying in to Manila on Honey's wedding day (he works as flight attendant) so he should be there at the ceremonies.
The centerpiece of the musical drama was Waldee getting up the 'concert' podium to render a song for his love. It was supposed to be a surprise number for her, but we were more surprised to see that it didn't surprise her at all!
Waldee did "A Song for You" originally performed by the great Ray Charles. Of course, Waldee was a no Ray Charles but he was doing the keyboard as he was singing. Move over, Don Moen!
Soon, there was an audio-video presentation, an opus that the couple themselves painstakingly put together, chronicling their early days as a couple in love.
The pictures said it all - two people full of happiness and contentment as they are embraced in each other's love.
I'll let you in on a little secret - we did some pictorials for this presentation, in the green and refreshing gardens of UP Diliman.
Honey and Waldee looked as fresh as the dew, despite having to make model-mannerisms to make it look like the photos were done by a pro.
And the music, or the scoring, if i get it right. Waldee knew how to select the right songs. They were breezy, preppy, soulful or wistful, depending on the mood of the subjects in the photos.
What I like in weddings is that family and friends get to have a chance to greet the newlyweds and throw in some precious advice. Friends and classmates were given their time, Waldee's mom had her moment as well.
We caught Honey's dad shedding a tear, or was he only misty eyed?, as he felt Honey's embrace in their moment together.
Honey's dad had a stroke a few months back but he's still able - perhaps he'd never thought he'd see her sweet Honey on her wedding day.
What daddy would never desire that?
After the songs and the ceremonies, everyone was treated to a sumptuous early dinner. It was free for all at the buffet table as everyone took their fill.
As customary in weddings, there will be the bouquet throwing and the garter wearing - the works looked forward to by the single and uncommitted attendees.
Honey had a better idea. Why not invite instead the couples in the crowd to work their way on the dancefloor and make a swing or two?
Not a bad idea, if you've seen how was it has been among us singles in the community.
We actually dread those rituals like they were a plague. They don't excite us anymore. Maybe because especially for the single girls, they've cupped quite a number of bouquets already but still their grooms remain elusive.
So there were Honey and Waldee with the couples, inclduding Lito and Grace, and Allan and Memen from the community, dancing to some new wave stuff.
They could have danced all night if there were no other things to do. We could have joined them and called the dancefloor our own as well if we didn't have a night to celebrate this beautiful affair.
We were all in the mood, we shared the couple's feeling of bliss. It was a ceremony we didn't want to end. It has to end, the newlyweds will have a wonderful new life together as husband and wife.
The dancings closed the ceremonies. For us visitors though, the party was just beginning but that's another story.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

im having fun!

wow, this is great man! almost like opening your own url, if not one already

welcome to the blogworld!

just trying it out, never had time really to write down my thoughts - i had my last journal 8 years ago! i think this will be fun, i think this will help me build friendships!