Friday, December 20, 2013

Things To Do While Waiting

I waited for almost seven hours today waiting for my number to be called in one single bank transaction. It sounds unbelievable but it is true.Yes, it happens.

I arrived at about 11:45 a.m. and got my number which is 982 while the tellers were only serving at about number 270's. There were two to four tellers in the morning. While the bank's system is slow, an announcement posted on the walls says that they are using a new IT system starting December 2 this year.

When system is not enough, people accumulate
in long queues standing for a long time before they can
fully exercise their right to vote
just like during national elections.
So much about the explanations. Let us go to the question. What should a normal person do while waiting for her number to be called?

The first lesson of the day is patience. If you don't have patience, you will not endure for a second of waiting.

While savoring over your patience, you have to watch your manners. How do you behave in a seat? Do you get irritated to bank personnel? What more else can you do?

Take care of your necessities. When it's time to eat, eat. Comfort rooms can welcome you from time to time. Don't get dehydrated, drink.

While everyone seems too friendly sharing similar dilemma, don't give your entire trust at all. Focus on yourself and on your transaction while enjoying some conversation with your seatmates. However, you can meet new friends in rare occasion from similar branch of services where you belong.

Watch your manners. You may get too sleepy while waiting but don't lay on the benches as if you are on a park waiting for your date to surprise you with a kiss while you're asleep. You can slouch but don't put your feet on the chairs. It's still a bank, not your dining room or your kitchen. Sitting up straight as a practice may be waived on this waiting period. This does not mean however that you will be in a lousy posture throughout your waiting period.

As a busy person, time is important. Bring with you always something to read. Be it a magazine or a business book you're currently reading. Who knows you will finish it in one sitting? I finished one Reader's Digest while waiting for today and it was not even enough. I don't have other more materials to read.

Thanks, I got my pen and my steno notebook. I always bring with me a steno notebook. I learned to use steno notebook way back my college OJT days some about 13 years ago. Until now I still prefer to use it for my drafts. In a bus, when an idea suddenly pops out of my mind, I have to write it before it's gone like a shooting star.

Don't be a disturbance to fellow bank customers who might get irritated of your unlikely behavior. Remember that they are on similar situation as you do.

How about you, how do you manage your waiting time? Just be patient and everything about you follows.

This post has been published in the Yahoo Voices.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Diligence in Staple Wire

I don't think for now that I will be rich by collecting used staple wire. When I went downstairs of our office, I got this collection on top of the table of one of our co-employees. I asked him of the motive for collecting it. Used staple wire is not accounted for in government. We can simply put them to trash once used. Yet, he told me that they will try if what they will get out of it. Junk and have it weighed? Maybe. I will know later.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What happened to our timber lands?

Visiting a certain community in Surigao del Sur gave me a lot of surprises and questions that are difficult to answer.

I never had any idea what we were heading to until we reached the place. The road sign says of a school in Davisol. Our companion also told me there is high school therein. I thought it's only a school but there was more than that.

I was intrigued by the name. Why Davisol? I don't have a basis but our companion told me that it is said to mean, David and Solomon.

Structures including a  coop store
When we entered the area, I saw children, women, houses and mangroves. Davisol is in a coastal area of Barangay Manyahay, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

I heard the story that the community is headed by a patriach whom they call as Pater, allegedly to have more than five wives. I heard of stories about cult but I expected to see someone who wears a big cross, long-bearded perhaps old man. When we were talking to one resident, I saw a man wearing jersey and playing basketball in the basketball court. We were able to meet him and had a short chat with him. I was surprised he was Pater. He said he is 67 years old. To my surprise, I didn't expect a 67 year old man playing basketball with youngsters and being able to run with them. He said he plays with his children and grandchildren. Allegedly, he fathered more than 40 children and now have more than 30 grandchildren. That's according to my companion and guide. All of them live in the same community except those working outside and children studying in college.

Man-made lagoon with corals 

I appreciate the lagoon surrounded by mangroves. My companion told me that the lagoon is man-made and the women helped a lot to finish the lagoon.

I saw structures in the area - houses, school buildings, store, church. The store says its a cooperative. The church has a different altar design contrary to common altar designs I see in Catholic churches and some protestant churches. Again, my companion told me that the community say their prayers in Latin and worship in Latin.

For many years ago, the Catholic Church has changed a lot. Before, they only allow masses to be said in Latin. Now, masses and bibles are in local dialects throughout the world. What could be there in that community saying prayers and worship all in Latin?

Remains of a big tree

My companion told me that the community has already produced professionals like engineers. She also told me that the community follows Philippine laws on environmental protection. I saw a waste-segregation area too. I also wondered what happened to the very big tree cut in the area.

However, I learned that the community produce crafts made of iron wood, locally known as "magkono" (or mangkono?).  He also told me that the community stopped making wood crafts after the total log ban which is still in effect until now. Ironically, one of my companions was there to look for that wood craft. And someone has to accompany a prospective buyer in order to be able to buy a wood craft that was said to be made long before the log ban as they don't sell anymore. 

I did not see display of wood crafts in the store inside. I wondered if how many people will be coming to the place accompanied by someone they know to be able to buy a wood craft. Is this a black market or what? Am I really seeing what I am supposed to see or these things are just being hidden by the friendliness of the people there?

People in Davisol are kind to visitors. They greet you good morning, good afternoon, good noon as the case maybe. My companion told me that the place is being developed into an eco-tourism area. Who wishes to develop the area as eco-tourism destination, is it the DENR or LGU or both of them? I don't know.

Man-made improvements in the shoreline
I saw two boats in the shoreline. One small color blue boat and one bigger boat with roof. My companion told me that the bigger boat belongs to DENR for purposes of island-hopping.

I inquired, if there is a school inside the community, who teaches the children? I was told DepEd teachers teach the children. Who gave money to construct schools? Where did they obtain a permit to construct a school building? Questions are difficult to answer. Sometimes it is fearful to ask questions for a person stranger to the area.

I wondered and kept a question in my mind. Was there perhaps a PDAF used to construct a structure in the area? My companion again told me that the community is a favorite pet for politicians in the area. He said that if politicians would love to be supported by Iglesia ni Kristo, in this area, politicians would love to be supported by Davisol. That's why politicians are allegedly generous in this community.

On our way from Lianga, I inquired again. Do they have land titles to settle in the area? Our companion-cum-guide told me that the community do not have papers to settle in the area because that is a declared timberland. What is a timber land? What happens if we continue to build structures in the timber land?

Who cares for Davisol community is they get washed out by a strong typhoon because they are fronting the sea? I learned that the whitish stone-like pads surrounding the lagoon are not rocks. These are corals. Corals get destroyed through the years. 

I learned of the story of an environment officer in a nearby area. I learned that she implements the law as it should be. She used a vehicle that is very similar to one of the service vehicles of the police. One day, the same service vehicle was ambushed. It was not her vehicle; it was the police. After the incident, she had to hold office in a nearby city and had to keep her whereabouts and land travels unknown.

From the words of an environment officer from Manila, he told me that when you're into forestry laws, you will get a lot of enemies. I inquired about who were given permits to do logging in the Philippines. He named one famous personality in Congress.  Who gave that company a permit? Whose administration? Whose environment secretary? 

Made of iron wood
I don't have a complete comprehension of what are timber lands and what are we supposed to do with timber lands. What happened to those timber lands? Where are they now?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

We Too Shed Tears

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Literally, the sword might be mightier than an enemy. Yet no sword is mightier than its handler because its fate can be controlled by a human being. How about being stronger than a human being? Who else more is tougher than nature?

Typhoon Yolanda proved to be one of the strongest ever. No great boxer or wrestler can ever control or counter it. When nature punishes, its impact is indeed immeasurable. No one will ever think of that media-portrayed anarchy fighting for food and water will ever take place. For hardly hit areas, we can't imagine how they struggled on the first few days after the typhoon.

Then what about the firemen? Firefighters, rescuers, emergency responders – name it. We are one in the fire service. We lost firemen to Haiyan. Some of them cannot be seen until now. Bureau of Fire Protection personnel also lost a family member, a relative and even own children. One fire non-officer was at the fire scene during the onslaught of the typhoon. While responding team was busy putting out fire that engulfed a residential area, she had no idea that storm surge already took her children away in downtown Tacloban City. She ended up receiving hugs from her commander without knowing why at that moment.

Amidst grief, we had to work. Faced with the massive problem of water supply and basic needs for own family, we had to leave. With a home that lost its GI sheets and trusses, we have to report to duty. Because it is our duty to serve. It is in our hearts that we serve our country. As far as Albay, ARMM, Cagayan de Oro or Surigao; we had to be in Tacloban City to assist our colleagues who can barely sleep. Eating was difficult now matter how good the food is – adobo, chicken, vegetables – name them. Swallowing even our own saliva was hard as our rescue uniform was soaked with decomposing human fluid and skin. Being members of the Task Force Cadaver, we recover as many dead bodies as we could see and smell. We patrol on foot just to locate those missing and hidden bodies from debris. Our latex gloves break after carrying a few corpses.

There was no time for excuses. We cannot complain. We cannot call anyone to replace us to do what we were doing. Work must go on because we are your firemen.

We are your firefighters. We save lives, we retrieve bodies and bury them even when it rains. While no one else had to cry for the unidentified victims, we too shed tears for them. We are deeply saddened. When heaven darkens we too make river of tears without you noticing it.
As we remember the demise of our firemen in the great Rockwell fire in December 14, let us continue the tradition of honoring our Filipino firefighters. This is to remember not a river of tears that we too shed as human beings but perhaps the ability and discipline in the fire service to keep most of those tears in our pockets, suppressing our own emotions and feelings of grief and tiredness just to let you know and see that we are your firefighters – strong and ready to serve the Filipino people.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What I Buy These Days

To buy or not to buy? A question that needs to qualify an answer.

I am a working single mom striving to care for my parents and my kid. Salary is never enough. No one can even evade inflation. I'm hardly trying to achieve financial freedom but it's indeed difficult. It cannot be achieved overnight. I am not a Napoles either and I don't dream of becoming one ending in jail for a criminal charge or in the halls of Senate for an inquiry. I don't want fame.

As a breadwinner, I am thinking of a replacement income. I think ahead and I think of a lot of "what if's" in life. What if I die too soon? What if I live too long? What if...and many more what if's.

I am grateful for my IMG Wealth Academy family. My friends and mentors in IMG showed me the way. It introduced me to the right peers. I belong to a group of frugal people in IMG. Some of them have already earned their millions but they are still frugal and meek until now. They give tithes regularly and they go to the feast. I am not feast goer though. Even so, some of them belong to top level corporate positions yet they still manage to prepare daily "baon" for work instead of buying somewhere or dining out. I'm impressed with one IMG colleague who cooks kamote and saging na saba at home as his snacks for the day and brings his day's water consumption in his car instead of buying  a daily bottled water.

I love the discipline that I'm learning in IMG WA. For now, I am telling what are the things that I'm buying. It may sound stupid for people who do not believe in insurance but as of today I have five life insurance plans. I also have an accident insurance separate from those plans. I have a long-term health care plan aside from Philhealth. In fact, I am also a holder of a memorial plan and my payment period is about to end. Sounds weird but I believe in having plans in the absence of a big emergency fund. I believe in insurance. I'm computing the total cost of all my insurance plans and these are not yet enough to cover my replacement income in case I die too soon. 

Since I am a single mom, I know I can never be a Warren Buffet anymore. Too late for me. Perhaps I cannot even be like that of Bo Sanchez' household help and driver who have gone a long way investing in the stock market too much ahead of me.

So, I am buying shares for me and my kid. It is in a trust account in conjunction to one of my "what if's" in life. Quarterly, since I cannot make it a point to buy on  monthly basis, I try my best to buy minimum of ten shares from a reputable food and beverage company. Aside from that, I also buy shares in mutual fund companies. For now, I maintain two equity fund accounts - equity funds being the most aggressive - in two top performing mutual fund companies in the country. I cannot boast anything on my investments in mutual funds because these are just too small. In fact, I find it difficult to add more investments after opening an account. So far, you may now have an idea how much it is.

I dream to get out of the debt trap. As of now, I am still in debt. Being single, I may not have a vow of "till death do us part" however, at least a dream of "till debt do us part" will be enough for me. I tried to apply for a credit card few years ago but all of them got disapproved. Now, I am thankful for all those disapproval. I presently maintain a debit card instead of a credit card. Renewal fee is just 350 pesos yearly without interest rates to boggle up my mind.

Instead of buying signature clothes, I buy from bargains and ukay ukay. For me, ukay ukay is better than patronizing an imitation. In this case, after wearing those clothes for a certain period of time, it's not heavy to the heart to give them to victims of natural calamities. I am also a recipient of used and old stuff (clothes, wallet, etc) from relatives and office mates. Still sounds weird? I don't care. I have to, otherwise, who else will care?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas Recycling


I visited the third floor of our office for some concerns. My eyes got smitten by a Belen made of recycled materials. A belen, Christ's nativity diorama, is a common sight in the Philippine homes and offices. For the country with the longest tradition of Christmas that starts as early as the first day of September and ends on the feast of Three Kings in January, Filipinos decorate homes, walkways and offices with Christmas spirit.

Recycled materials

I appreciate the way they used recycled materials to make a Christmas spirit inside our offices. Used paper fasteners, rubber bands, filing folder, carton are enough to decorate simply a government office.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mama's Green Hands

I am so thankful and blessed to have a mother who have green hands. Our home is filled with greens - plants and ornaments alive. Flowers in bloom around are real. I took photographs of some of them and cropped them in frames.

reds, pinks

blue, whites, light pinks, yellows

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Getting Rich with Enrich

Ever heard of the cheapest Healthy Lifestyle and Living magazine in town? Yes, there is such full colors magazine with about 98 pages but just at a price of 65 pesos per copy. Believe me because I am a regular buyer of that magazine.

I am referring to Enrich magazine which is available in all Mercury Drug outlets nationwide. Thanks to my Suki Card (a privilege card of Mercury Drug); I can buy the magazine at 52 pesos only. I wish that next time I can afford a yearly subscription instead of buying for it on a monthly basis.

Yes, you can subscribe  for Enrich magazine and have it delivered in your home either in the Philippines or abroad. For more information, Enrich has a Facebook page and Twitter account too.

After a Year....

After almost a year, Ifinally bought a pair of shoes. 

It's been almost a year ago since I bought my last pairs of Rusty Lopez shoes for 2012. Now, I bought Rusty Lopez again at a bargain price. Had it not for the bargain price and that I am getting out of comfortable footwear already, I will not yet buy a pair of shoes. 

For many times, I got to the office in my flip flops - that which I call tsinelas leadership (#salamatjesse). When I go home, I have to wear slippers again and leave my closed black shoes in the office.

Walking is an essential part of my life. That is why I badly needed a comfy footwear. And in a tropical country like ours, open-toe sandals and slippers are all-around footwear. Except for offices that do not allow people in slippers like DFA and Camp Aguinaldo, slippers can be worn outside throughout the time. I have three pairs of shoes in the office so there is no problem with me wearing slippers when travelling from my pad to office and vice versa. 

The problem comes in when it rains. Open-toe shoes are not advisable to be worn especially when going out in the rain. Our feet might come in contact with bacteria from leptospirosis. For middle income earners (like me) who cannot simply afford for a nice rain shoes, I have no choice but to be in my slippers. I have slippers in the office too. That is why I can change footwear anytime. 

Anyway, thanks that I was able to buy a pair of shoes after a long time.Frugality, indeed, is my way of life. Otherwise, I will be buried in debt if I will be living beyond my means.


Do you want your home to be free from too much chemicals? Then try putting in some organics. 

A hand soap and a dish washing liquid of Human Nature are more of natural products. I started using these products since February of this year. And I did not regret.

In fact, I am also using a natural detergent powder. I like this Tough Love by HN because I can wash clothes manually without irrigating much my skin.

Before, I got wounds in my hands after a Saturday big wash day using a commercial detergent and a bar. Although Perla bar soap is friendly to my hands too, Tough Love powder is composed of ingredients that are mostly coconut-based (cocus nucifera) and vegetable-based. I am confident that I am safer in using natural organic soap.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

When Every Drop Counts

Often, we see posters, stickers and similar campaign materials that say: "every drop counts."

In a water-abundant country like the Philippines, some may just read it as that: "every drop counts."
Then, so what? 

Leaking fire hydrant in Tabaco City

Last week, I watched a documentary over the famed GMA News TV. The segment showed how scarce water was in a mountain top of Mindoro province. In low-lying areas like CAMANAVA (stands for Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela cities in Metro Manila), continuous rains cause floods and floating residences. When I say floating, I do not mean those floating communities in Agusan marsh but those communities submerged in water.

Floating community in Agusan Marsh (Talacogon)
I am so blessed to live in a water-abundant community. (Although my life is always in danger every time there is an impending typhoon because floods are threatening.) 

In today's trend on global warming, we may not be able to totally plan our carbon footprints. Yet we may be able to reduce them. Aside from that, we can do small things to protect the environment. Simply, we can conserve water in our own little ways. It may be ironic for a human being who wastes water and at the same time humans being the ones who say "every drop counts."

Nevertheless, when every drop counts we can always do something to conserve water and eventually protect the environment.

A sensor-activated faucet used to conserve water

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Egyptian TV Host Riham Said Removes Veil during Interview, Clashes with...

Egyptian journalist Riham Said dramatically turned the tables on a guest in a show that aired on Al Nahar TV earlier this year. During the program, Sheikh  Yousuf Badri balked at talking to her on camera because she was not wearing a veil, though he apparently had no reservations chatting with her when the camera weren't rolling. Said lambasted his hypocricy: "This is the kind of person who sues TV channels, attacks the media and puts on a show for the viewers. It is very unfortunate that people like this peddle our religion. I'm the one leaving, not you." 
Source: Kick-Ass Women of the Muslim World


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Is Being Solo a Punishment? Will You Still Persuade Me to Get Married or Bring Me My Man?

Today, I’m recovering from sickness. I was at home for two days and third day today. I was sick even two days before I was down. Even if I was already sick, I had to go to the office and be present for two days. Even if I was already sick, I had to go to Makati and expect a friend who confirmed attending a business meeting (a financial literary talk) but would later would cancel due to alleged LBM. I thought I had no right to cancel because he was the one who confirmed attendance. He cancelled while I was already there, attending my higher series of seminar and I felt dying already of severe headache, clogged nose, fever, back pains. I had somewhat UTI about three days before I was down – painful and upper back pains. I drunk a lot of water and it’s gone after two days.

Thereafter, I had somewhat that repeating allergic rhinitis. That’s the start of my clogged nose, irritated nasal cavity, difficulty in swallowing and then chilling. In Thursday morning, I can’t even move my body. I felt severe headache. I can’t drink liquids – water, coffee, milk. I vomit every liquid that I drink. The colds stuck up in my nasal cavity. I should have bought some over-the-counter medicines last night but I didn’t. I only bought four tablets of Biogesic, that one I had taken while on my way home on the night I felt I was collapsing and losing consciousness as I walked along Ayala Avenue to catch up for a jeepney bound to the train station.
I’m not used to buying OTC medicines unless prescribed by the physician. So when colds strike me, I just leave it that way until about three days. After three days, I have to visit our resident doctor for medical checkup and she would eventually give me proper meds. However, this one is quite different from what happened before. I asked myself: “am I that old really?” “am I sick of a serious thing?” Silly things come up my mind but I’m helpless. There was a time before when I felt so bad, I didn’t know what happened because I went asleep for several hours. After those sleep, I realized I was half dead perhaps? I was so hungry and felt very weak. God is so great, the pain was gone.

I am used to undergoing medical checkups regularly. Two years ago, I had a request for a CT scan because my head kept on aching. I searched for cheaper lab facilities, I got one – in the East Avenue Medical Center. On my way to the hospital (I was already inside the hospital premises then), somebody called me up and told me, “are you really ready with what you are doing? Or you just turned paranoid of the things you feel in your body?” He further reminded me: “you’re a health buff and you’re so conscious of your health. You might just be wasting money to a medical exam you don’t need at all.” Until now, my head still aches seldom and it happens when I have colds, upcoming menstruation and it’s very severe. Yet, my CT scan isn’t yet done.

Back to my Thursday suffering; since I can’t move and I had nothing to eat in my pad, I texted Mama to tell her that I’m sick. I’m a single mom who lives in the city alone. I have a small pad where I live by myself because my kid is with my parents about 500 kilometers away from me. I used to suffer pains and get sick alone in Metro Manila. Sometime in 2010, I submitted myself for a hospital confinement but the Catholic hospital where I went to refused to admit me because they told me that I am just alone and no one’s to run errands for me. I told them that a kin can come in the morning (because I went to the hospital in the evening), but still they refused to admit me. Instead, they suggested that I undergo “outpatient services”. Nothing to do since alone, I underwent to outpatient services – laboratory examinations. I would have loved to crawl in the hospital benches waiting for my lab results for hours until midnight. I would have shouted and asked for help. I would have turned hysterical. Yet, I patiently turned to several positions sitting, standing in the waiting area despite I felt as if I was dying already because of severe headache. I asked myself: Is this the prize of being alone?

I am not used to informing my family, not even my officemates, of my medical condition. I don’t want people to be panicking. I don’t want to cause trouble. I don’t want bothering people. Since, this is reality, I had to text my Mama just to inform her that I’m sick. As usual, she would reply: “I just can’t be there. Should I’ve been near, I would have been there for you.” Years pass by and this is her universal reply.

I didn’t marry, I promised myself to take care of them – my parents, my family, my kid. I used to call at home – but seldom do I receive a call from home. I used to send money at home but sometimes my text message will end up with a reply “I got no cellphone load today.” Before, Mama and Papa used to have individual mobile phones. I was glad then that Papa tries his techie side but problems came. I can’t understand if it was still midlife crisis or somewhat psychological or somewhat medical reasons. Quarrels at home happened – Mama shouting at Papa. Great jealousy that until now I still cannot figure out the cause and the reason behind. Great jealousy that until now I still can’t see any person behind.  I am a father’s girl. And when I went home, I had nothing to say about the issues. Mama had to be so angry with me. She kept on telling me I was on my father’s side favoring him instead of her. Mama was jealous of me – she felt she was alone in her feelings. She felt nobody understands her. She felt she got no ally at all. She was so angry with me all over again.

I felt devastated. I had to rush to the airport because my Tio and Tia called me up asking me to go home. They told me, a great quarrel going on. They feared someone might end up injured of any fighting that may occur. Until today, of all the things I heard about the quarrels, I did not hear a story about Papa shouting at Mama or any chance of him raising a voice on her – never. I called up a Tia, Tia Deling so close to Papa, she’s his best friend. She narrated to me that Papa was crying because he pitied Mama so much. He can’t understand what’s going on with her. He fears that she might get sick. Mama is hypertensive, she has been into maintenance medicines for years now. It’s heredity. All these quarrel things happened when I’m away while my kid is with them. I wonder if my kid is hearing all those shouts in the middle of the night that neighbors relay to me when I get home. My heart has crumpled.

Going home often is not my priority this time that I have a kid and that I had to maintain both homes – my solo pad in Quezon City and my family’s home in the province. Instead of going home, I should sacrifice and send the money to the province instead or just add the money to my savings for my kid’s future. To my devastation, the quarrels that happen from time to time in my faraway home had to drain my little savings. There was a time when my brother had to go home to just to pacify Mama. There was also a time when, my Tia’s family (Papa’s sister) had to go to the province bringing their car and comfort Mama of what she feels. I asked Tia to investigate on the issues but until now, there was no clarity. It is still a question to me why Mama has turned like that – was it still midlife crisis or somewhat psychological or somewhat medical reasons? Mama has her stories and I respect them. I don’t want to meddle anymore. I don’t want to comment on anything and that made Mama so mad at me. She believed my silence means favoring Papa. She concludes my silence means I don’t understand her. I pity her so much. I pity them. They should be a happy couple enjoying their days. They should be sweet couple enjoying time with my kid – their granddaughter. Those are perhaps marriage issues? Couple problems? I believe they should inspire me to get married but I don’t see any inspiration at all seeing couples quarrelling. What if those are psychological or medical reasons, who would understand them? Who else but me.

In life, we will never really be able to find our exact match. Sometimes, we thought it was enough to sign a marriage contract but to our surprise, we got our exact opposite. Imagine two dancing shoes in different rhythms? They must dance together in nice melody because the public expect them to be. Tell me now – will I still marry? How will you ever persuade me to marry? I’m 32 and I feel I’m too old already.

Back to my Thursday suffering, Mama texted me the usual reply. If she was just near, she would love to take care of me. Mama is a very strict woman – as in, so strict disciplinarian. Whenever we (her children) get sick, she will take care of us to the fullest. She spends sleepless nights taking care of us, wiping our back, feeling our forehead and neck of fever. Stewing all possible herbal meds in the yard for us to drink the juice, preparing a traditional and does a traditional massage for us. Mama is a devout Catholic. She prays everyday – from Angelus to Angelus to rosary to novenas and all sorts of prayers. When I was a kid, we used to pray the Angelus in Spanish. We say the rosary in Spanish and the litany, I remember, in Latin. Each one of us in the family has a novena – that which we pray for nine days since our birthday. Mine is a novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel because I was born a day before the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Mama’s novena is a Novena to Our Lady of Salvation, so with my brother and my father, they all have the same novena. My daughter has a Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe because she was born on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Since my brother and I have been away from home for work or studies for many years now, we all carry with us our individual novenas. To make it sure that our novenas are read, Mama has to read them even if we read on our own or not. Even if we are far from home, we are confident that Mama reads our novenas back home. We are sure that Mama prays for us.

From the reply that she wished to be with me but she’s very far, Mama told me through SMS to go home so that she could take care of me. I replied by saying: I can’t do it to be home because physically I really can’t. Later, she replied again that my brother is coming. I was angry because I don’t want to see my brother.  I told her not to send him because he has work in Angeles City and that he’s so busy. Then, I shut off my phone. I told myself that I must not cry. I told myself: “This is it! This is reality. This happens now and this is what will happen in the future. I must be used to this. It happened before.”

Being alone, single and single mom; I am not used to complaining of little or big things that I feel in my physical body. I’m training myself to be strong and face the world. I might be old as this – all alone. I might end up with no one taking care of me. I might end up suffering all alone. I might even die alone. I forced myself to drink milk and eat a loaf of bread. I vomited in the morning and my head was aching so much. My tears flowing out of pain. I can hardly open my eyes. I felt dizziness, I felt I was fainting. In my pad, I had not enough to eat. I have a kilo of rice because I cook with my rice cooker from time to time and a can of sardines. Last week, I bought three cans of sardines and cooked two of them in chilli. I then felt as if I have not eaten sardines for a century. Only one was left now and I had nothing to do than to eat it by all means later. I may have money but how can I order for food if I can’t read?  How will I be able to read if I felt severe dizziness?

When I’m sick, I usually order food from Chowking. Through online ordering system, I can order for my food for the entire day without bothering. However, today is different. How will I order online if I can’t read any texts? How will I open my notebook? How? How will I survive today? I can order by phone but it will take a lot of cellphone load for me to call a hotline number. I don’t have sufficient load today. Unlike for online, I have my cart ready and in just a click after an unlimited Smartbro service for a day, I can have my food delivered. I have done this several times already especially when I am sick. But today is strange. Today is different. Am I becoming older? Or am I sick of something worse? What’s going on?

I forced myself to take Biogesic after drinking milk and eating a loaf of bread. Within two hours, my headache subsides a little but it is back soon. I was bothered. What will happen if this repeats? How will I survive today? I thought of going out when the pain subsides to buy some OTC meds but it seemed impossible. Comes noon time, I still have nothing to eat. I forced myself to rise and cock rice. Immediately, I opened the can of sardines which as of now I already forgot the brand. I bought three brands then but now, I can’t recall which one I ate last Thursday. Then, I ate hurriedly for fear of that headache killing me. I’m on teeth braces so it is a must to brush my teeth every time I eat whether lightly or heavily. While brushing my teeth, someone bangs the door and knocks hard for several times. I did not get bothered. Since living alone, I don’t just open my door without looking first at the window if who the person is. I’m also confident that I’m living in a subdivision with three gates and security guards around. Now, my brother has arrived. It was December 2012 since we last saw each other. After that, this is the next time.

I didn’t like my brother to visit me at my pad. I gave him a key of my door since last December, I wanted to get it back but I don’t know the polite way of saying it. Until now, I haven’t taken the key back. It is still with him. I had a heavy heart for him since last December for reasons I wouldn’t elaborate. Since, I am his ate (elder sister), I have to forgive. I punished him for a long time by not speaking to him, by not giving in any way my sweetest “como esta” and simply by being mum. We had quarrel in texts but I shut up until he was able to say a lot and me ended up saying: “you are amazing. God bless you.” He ended up saying “I’m sorry, ate.” Since then, I disregarded him. I didn’t even care. I shut myself from him.

Before I regularly ask for my brother’s condition, if he is ok or not. I am fond of asking, “have you eaten?” “Take care of your health.” “Did you have your regular medical checkup?” “Do you exercise?” Since, then I didn’t reach out for him. I proved to him that I will not text him anymore for the rest of my life. Until this day, I got sick and Mama asked him to visit me and to take care of me.

Before my brother entered the police academy, he was my boy. He graduated college from a reputable Catholic school in our province. He had nice and good-mannered friends. He is not that so expressive of his thoughts as mine. Sometimes when he talks, it’s like “did he ever thought of what he was saying?” to me. Events change situations. Sometimes events change people. Sometimes events change people for a lifetime. My boy entered the academy. I missed him for four years. I made rivers of tears thinking of him in his breaking period and before his recognition period. Recognition happens only after a year of plebe-hood. My heart was shattered seeing him walking like a stick, he was so thin then like a malnourished out of famine, when I saw him in his recognition day. Christmas and New Year came, his birthdays etc; my boy is no longer my boy. I can’t forget bringing him some small pieces of luces (lights for New Year) before I went home for a vacation during his fourth class cadetship. My tears will just flow as I pass by the areas of Laguna whenever I went home then. I thought that somewhere in the nearby elevated lands that I see with light, my boy is suffering. My boy is perhaps being punished. The saddest of it was to think what he was eating, what he was doing and who takes care of him when he is sick.

Then it came his 3rd class and 2nd class cadetship. Things changed, my brother already had underclassmen. I was so irritated then feeling it was the most awkward thing that I did on the face of the planet – being his partner for two times in his hop. It was like a Valentine ball, every female wears a night gown. There were dances, partners that classmates were laughing at. Since I am his sister, I had to obey all what he had to ask me to do. However, I wonder who defined that word “sister” for them. I was surprised seeing their cadet dictionary and this is how they phrase it with a question: “Do you have a sister?” and the answer is: “Sir, that surging question has been languishing myself totally and mentally polluting my mind; I became your untaxable property and that evil might besiege my family. Its sparkle will be lost to demon like whom I would like to run from head unto feet after asking the question with a ten peso balance on your checking account. We might be on the same boat, Sir! So, may I pause with the same question, do you have a sister or daughter sir?”    

Things happen so fast. The cadets are now allowed to go out – sometimes on Saturdays and Sundays. Those cadets in the police academy came from various provinces of the country, all of them young and came from conservative families, most often than not. As graduation day is coming, the most timid boys and girls I saw in their plebe-hood days are now changed into gentlemen and ladies. I won’t elaborate any further, what negative changes I saw. However, how I wish we still nurture the best family values that we Filipinos have. Until now I still can’t find the reason why the culture of “mano po” was declined apologetically by my brother when he was inside the academy during visitation period. What’s wrong with “mano po”? He just told us, it’s “bawal”. Until now, I did not ask the reason why. I am an officer and he is an officer now.

Here comes my boy, now a gentleman.  He came all the way from Angeles City. I did not ask him why he came. I just asked him if he has already eaten lunch. He brought a lot of foods. He brought me chicken too. I told him I don’t eat chicken (simply for the reason that it’s difficult to chew in braces). He ate some food because I had just eaten my lunch – that rice and a can of sardines. I had the feeling that he has not yet taken his lunch that time. This is the moment when we are talking to each other since six months ago. He persuaded me to rise and that we go to the doctor for a checkup. I told him, I’m just okay and I don’t want to go to the doctor. Because he was earnest, I just asked him instead to buy me some decongestant medicine that will relieve my headache and my colds.

Siblings are given to us by God for a reason. I only have one and only brother. In other words, there are only two of us left when our parents had to depart, which I never wanted to of course. Reality, we have to face reality, only two of us, siblings. Me, I have one kid and I’m never married. My brother is still single. Now, I’m thinking of estate planning so that all our efforts including my parents’ efforts will not be wasted or diminished in the future. For families with little estate like us, estate planning is indeed important. Otherwise, all our small properties will end up under division process forever and it will incur a lot for fees dividing small properties by small people like us. Small as we are, we should always think of being big. Estate planning is for a person with a big dream so as our families will not be left behind.

I told myself, maybe I was sick in order for us to speak with each other. My brother took care of me for two days. He has to arrive before lunch and has to bring and prepare my (our) food. Before late afternoon, he has to leave again because he was not given full freedom to leave for a day by his immediate superior. This happened for two days, our communication is back. He now texts me and I now respond. Although not that often, the barrier has been cut and broken.  Without a sibling, who would have taken care of me? Yes, I have a handful of relatives in the entire Metro Manila. They can come and take care of me. However, it is of course not their duty, not even their responsibility to do so. They care because they are a part of me.

I don’t like the idea of people pitying me. I shut off from my world for two days and three days consecutively. I don’t like people bothering a lot. I hate it when my officemates are thinking a lot out of me. I just texted them once to inform them I can’t make it. Thereafter, I shut my phone again for the rest of the days. I hate it answering phone calls when I can’t even speak, eat or open my eyes. I fear people who care might even scold me for not taking care of myself thereby causing me to be sick. It is not even their duty to get bothered. They too have their own worries, why would they worry about me? I believe they are not bound to care, unless one is a husband of mine. I may have a boyfriend or somebody who loves me but I believe it is not even his duty to care for me or to worry for me. Unless I’m tied to somebody else, that’s where responsibility to care starts. Yes, I have parents but I must not be dependent on them for the rest of my life. I am so blessed to have them to take care of me and my kid. However, I must bear in mind that I must be independent someday – that someday I have to take care of them instead of them taking care of me. Yes, I have a brother but I have to bear in mind that my boy already became a gentleman. That gentleman might not even be mine anymore in the future. I may not get a hold of all the people I love one day. What could be left would be me and my kid. Yet, a friend told me that my kid will be a lady and when that time comes, I must learn the art of letting go. Who else is left? Nobody else but my one and only I.

When I got sick and downed last Thursday, I thought of posting in my Twitter account. That stubborn thing came to my mind and I edited the sentence for several times in my head: “Wanted: Husband to take care of me when I’m sick. Rewards: Over a million worth of insurance benefits. Note: No ex or present BF allowed. DM me for physical characteristics required.“  I told myself, if I tweet it this way, will it create any harm? Will it be awkward? I didn’t tweet them. I just kept them in my mind and now, I’m expressing them in words.

I always fear of getting married. I always think of: “what if I blame myself in the future?” How much is the cost of my signature in a would-be marriage contract? Every signature costs thousands of pesos for that super expensive annulment in this only Catholic country in Asia. I admit I am cynical. However, human as I am, I too know how to love. I love in full and I should give it all. However, life isn’t perfect. Every circumstance and every thing happens for a reason and for a purpose. Some people are given only a kid but never a spouse. Some people are given a spouse but never a kid. Some spouses are given plenty of kids but have nothing to eat. Some spouses have lots of kids and lots to eat but end up in a lot of challenges due to illnesses. Some end up a broke. Some people end up taking care of dogs and cats instead of kids. Some couples end up adopting kids because they can’t have any from their own. Some have tried a lot of technology and drained their resources just to have a child but end up nothing. Big or small as we are, we have different stories.
I am a single mom. Yes, I am a breadwinner. I have a kid of my own. I already so blessed. What else can I ask for? However, why do they keep on teasing me in my workplace? Why do they keep on telling me to get married? Because they got kinder of me being teased than others? I told one for twice already that it will take a miracle for me to change my mind and get married. What if I decide to get married and no one’s to marry at all? Isn’t it funny? Whom should I marry? Then everyone will end up tweeting LOL or LMFAO. I’m choosy. What if my family would end up arranging a marriage for me? I don’t know, I can’t tell. I’m so afraid that I might not please Mama or I might hurt Papa. What if they end up blaming me? I told myself many times: how much is the cost of an igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rock that I will be hitting my head in the future if I marry a wrong person?

Whenever I hear the song “Dance with My Father”, I have to hide what I feel. I feel so emotional with that song. I have been to several wedding ceremonies already, I have seen fathers cry. I have seen fathers dancing their daughter – the bride – in tears. For me, I thought of I will never be able to dance with my father in my life. I will never be able to hug him. Maybe we will dance together in heaven one day and that would be the happiest of all.

Now that I’m big enough, I always long for a hug. I didn't feel hug in my family as often as I could. Last time I felt a hug was seven years ago – that was a hug from my parents. I wonder if when I will ever feel a hug from them again. Now that I have a kid I always long to hug her. I thought of her hugs as the hugs I did not receive or the hugs I missed from my parents. We, siblings never hug. I don’t know why we don’t have that culture of hugging in the family; maybe because we were raised in disciplinarian and conservative family. I would have instituted reform for me and my kid but I simply cannot impose the reforms I want to make because I don’t have a kingdom of my own. I am under the kingdom of my parents until now.  Yes, I am hugging my girl as often as I could when I go home. I always think of that my kid will someday shun away from hugging me. I thought of time going so fast that childhood happens only once. I believe that parents should hug their kids as often as they could because one day we will not be able to hug them anymore.

My days of suffering being sick is becoming over. My brother scolded me before leaving. He told me not to do a lot of things in my recovery. He cautioned me to take care of my self. For me, being alone is reality. It is not a novel; it is a true to life story. Even if I still feel dizzy, I had to clean my area. I have to wash my clothes. I have to look for the water-delivery man and the garbage collector. I have to go to the grocery by my own to buy me some stuff. I have to do a lot of things by myself. As I am writing this account, I still felt little dizziness. I took advantage of the momentum; otherwise it will just be gone. Let us bear in mind that being alone is not a punishment. Being alone has a reason. Imagine having billions of people on the face of the planet yet I still can’t find someone for me for the rest of my life? Sometimes funny; life it is. Without life there would be no fun. I just calm myself by saying this often: there are always lesser and greater persons than me. I’m already so blessed with what I have and I must cherish it every single day.

Not a pooping incident

Photo taken from one of the big rivers in Mindanao This photograph is not an accident of pooping. It seems a daily routine to the house...