Thank You Papa

Dear Papa,

I’m sorry I can’t give you a grandson within this year because there are only 12 months in a year and it takes nine months to have a baby. I don’t have enough time. I once told you that almost 90%  of  marriages in India are arranged and only 5% result in divorce. In case you are in favor of that, I don’t mind. It just shows how much I trust my parents or how desperate I am.

But seriously……

Thank you Pa for everything

Thank you Pa for giving me a moral compass though sometimes I forget to use it. I know I am capable of making “major major” mistakes in life but when I think of you and Ma, I can’t afford to make one, When I am confronted by temptation, I used this photo below as my desktop wall paper. I told my friend: “Para makonsensya ako, tuwing gusto ko magkasala.” It has been effective though. People keep family photos for inspiration. I do too but sometimes, it also serves as my conscience.

papa and me

Thank you for teaching me humility. I have never forgotten what you said when I was in elementary. “There will always be someone better than you.” My pride argued: “Yes, there is always someone better than me but I am also better than someone else occasionally.” But I now drop the idea of being better or being less fortunate. I don’t need comparison to make me feel good about myself because I realize everything I owned is borrowed. Everything I accomplished is an answered prayer. Everything I excelled is an occasional luck and bias. I have nothing worth bragging.

Thank you for loving Mama. I know I shouldn’t thank you for this because this is given and expected but every story of domestic violence, every story of broken family reminds me how blessed I am to have loving parents who value marriage vows and family ties.

I first learned the word ‘worldly’ from you. I heard this Bible verse a lot of times: “ Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I simply understood ‘worldly’ as love for money, cars, and lavish lifestyle. When I was younger, I thought you were just being overly conservative of defining ‘worldly’. But as I seek happiness in many places, in many angles, in many schools of thought. I add another layer of what ‘worldly’ means. Yes, you were right. Consumerism encourages us to want things that we do not have and cannot have. It lets us aspire for the things that we do not need. Our obsession of accumulation of wealth, power, and achievement, has nothing to do how we feel deep within. These ‘worldly’ things serve some purpose in our lives but they are fleeting and shallow. Thank you Pa for giving me that food for thought at a very young age. It did not resonate to me when I was nine but it makes so much sense now that I am facing quarter life crisis.

Thank you Pa for giving me a good example of what charity means or else, I could have been very skeptic with every kind person I meet. Today, the thin line between self-love and selflessness becomes thinner. With the aid of social media, no good deed comes unpublicized. I do question people’s act of kindness. Are they doing this and that for others or are they doing this to feel good about themselves? Uncle Elias has a term for that. It’s ‘spiritual pride’. It is so hard to forget yourself. And sometimes I find myself doing good to compensate my shortcomings or to reap some psychic rewards. You are amazing Pa because you don’t engage in self-publicity (which my generation is guilty of). You are the emergency hotline. You open our house like a social welfare institution but you never earn a medal or a plaque of appreciation or a full feature article in the newspaper (kaya sa blog ko na lang na sinusulat hehe)

*****

I might be  a spinster someday. I might meet men who will give me bruises and scars as souvenirs but I will never be anti-men, just a feminist. As long as you are my dad, I will always think my life is beautiful. I will always choose to see the goodness in people. With you, I have a better appreciation of life.

Happy Birth Month Pa!

Lots of love,

Jacklyn

Megaphone

The night of  November 8 was one of the most difficult nights to get by. I was crying over the phone as my friend and I were talking about the news of the super typhoon Yolanda that hit our hometown Tacloban. I monitored updates in Facebook and cried some more as I read some of my fellow Taclobanons looking for their families. I woke up in the middle of the night, sobbing, calling “Mama.” I called my brother and parents for the nth time but all I could hear was the telephone operator. I was waiting for news about Tacloban the whole day. All we had were reports and videos taken around seven in the morning. With so much tension and anxiety, I complained why entertainment shows should continue to be aired when we who left our families in Tacloban were very desperate for news. I kept repeating in my head the little information we had. Water reached 15 feet high in downtown area. Portions of roof were flying. The trees were dancing. Electric wires were fighting the wind. I calculated the chances of how my family could survive, how far was our house from the sea, how sturdy our walls were. I imagined broken glasses and water covering our house. I thought of my elderly parents and my teenage nieces.

Not my city

When I first heard the news about the devastation and violence in Tacloban, my reaction was: “That is not my city.” I used to believe it was one of the most quiet and peaceful cities. “Don’t go there. It’s not safe. People steal and kill.” I read a lot of warnings before I went to Tacloban. Some people associated this unruly mob behaviour with the stereotype given to Warays. They were known to be war freak. I don’t have a Waray blood but I was born and raised there. I am one of them and it pains me to know how chaotic my people and my hometown are perceived. It was a safe place where my brother biked around with his pricey gadgets. In my entire life in Tacloban, I walked in the streets without a fear of threat.

I arrived in Tacloban on the fourth day after the typhoon. We passed through the nearby towns that did not have extensive media coverage, Tolosa, Dulag, and Abuyog. The mountains facing the Pacific Ocean had nothing but barren soil that complemented the murderous sea. The coconut trees were perfectly cut as if there was a giant ax that chopped them all. As we entered the city, I could not recognize Tacloban anymore. It had no civilization. People were everywhere looking for food and news. They lived up to their name, “Waray” which meant “nothing”. I was speechless throughout our trip.

Not God’s punishment

In the midst of this crisis, I wonder why someone would drop the words’ God’s punishment’. If you were a victim of Yolanda, these were the last words you would want to hear. Those who were heavily affected by the typhoon were those who lived near the coastlines. They were fisher folks, people who built their dream houses, ordinary people who had nothing to do with PDAF and pork barrel. They were far from people who lived near the gates of hell. To utter the word punishment is unbearable for a person who lived a decent life and lost everything in a short span of time. We try to interpret God’s message with positivity and end our philosophical explanation that those who survive have more work to do and those who are gone have completed their mission.

No megaphones

Tacloban, an urbanized city turned into a small village where strangers talked liked close friends, where the main source of news was by word of mouth. Without electricity and clear communication lines, people were eager to share and receive news. When we walked our way to our parents’ house, people were a lot friendlier than usual. They asked how we were doing. They were clueless that the entire world was watching them. I’m glad that there was no television during the most crucial moments because it could have been more depressing to hear news on how ill-equipped our government was and how insensitive some of the leaders were.

Much has been said about the destruction that took place in Leyte and Samar. Bad news were widely spread but supply of food, water, fuel, and good news were limited. When I was in Tacloban, I wished there were some military personnel or officials who had megaphones used to pacify tension in the crowd. People were panicking for unverified news. If there was a voice out there, it could have saved more stores from being ransacked. It could have shortened the line of people waiting for C130. It could have uplifted their spirits. If someone with a megaphone strolled around the city with a simple message: “Everything is under control. We are doing our best to help,” it could have improved the situation in Tacloban. Stories of rape and bandits circulated as quick as fire but stories of relief goods and free services did not reach that far. By this time, I hope there are megaphones in Tacloban.

Spreading hope

I stop browsing photos showing the destruction and depression in Tacloban. I want to see more photos, more news stories of camaraderie, compassion, resiliency, and hope. Tacloban was a beautiful city surrounded by seas and mountains. It aches me to know that what most people know and what most people see are ruins and death.

My family is fortunate to have survived. I guess we who have been spared  from the typhoon, we who are given a chance to live longer owe the victims of the typhoon some hope. We need more good news. Instead of saying “When you go to Tacloban you will be depressed”, say “When you go to Tacloban you will be inspired by the courage and the resiliency of the people.” Instead of saying “When you go to Tacloban, you will be harmed,” say “When you go to Tacloban and help, you will be rewarded.” Instead of saying “When you go to Tacloban, you will feel like it’s the end of the world,” say “When you go to Tacloban, you will feel like it’s going to have a new beginning.” Instead of saying, “When you go to Tacloban, you will see death,” say “When you go to Tacloban, you will find life.” When you see people fixing their houses, finding food to eat, protecting their families, looking for their loved ones, lamenting over the dead, you will find the meaning of life in its barest form.

answer

Note: Written November 25, 2013

Mama

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“My mother is the best mother in the whole world.”

How many of you have said that?

We all do.

I can’t remember if I said that when I was kid. I probably did because that was a default way to describe a mother. But now that I’m an ‘adult,’ I know what I mean by “my mother is the best mother in the whole world.” When I was a kid, I probably loved my mother because she fed me, clothed me, sheltered me. As I age, I love my mother more for small reasons, for deep reasons, and for no reason at all. It’s when you are a grownup, you gain deep appreciation the kind of life your parents have given to you.

Minimalist Lifestyle

When I was in Grade I, my mother only gave me two pesos for my baon along with sandwich or crackers she bought in the grocery store. Though we were not really poor, I felt a little deprived. I was studying in a private school where almost all the kids had yayas, drivers, and tutors. I stared at them with envy as I saw them buying soft-drinks and chips in the canteen. My brother and I learned to save when we were kids. It was not because our mother told us to do so, because we knew there was nothing much we could do in spending our allowance in a day, compared to saving it for the things we wanted to own. When I look back, I’m glad my mother did not give me too much of everything. I don’t buy designer clothes and I am not in a hurry to buy the latest gadgets. I also go for the basics first and save for my luxuries.

No “Don’ts”

My mom was always present in my class presentations, parades, and all the school activities that required parents to come. But she wasn’t a typical stage mom. She did not tell me to be like this, like that, to join here and there. She wasn’t like other mothers who would push their children to be honor students, to study in a prestigious university, to finish on time, to take up nursing, to be lawyers or doctors, to work abroad. She was happy if I achieved something. When I didn’t, it did not matter to her. And I am happy that my mom is like that. She gives me enough freedom to be what I am and to discover my own interests.

Mothers usually tell their daughters during their teenage years:  “Books first before boys. Studies first before love” but my mom said nothing like that. Deep inside, I wanted to say, “Ma, don’t you think I’m pretty enough to have precautions or warnings about boys? ” (haha) I’m glad that even if my parents have never given me lengthy anti-boyfriend sermon, it turn out well. I don’t have you-and-me-against-the-world love story. And I haven’t brought a male specimen in the house for my parents to be afraid of. Maybe that’s a simple lesson of parenthood. The more you say, “don’t”, the more they will do it.

I did not make an attempt to be rebellious because there was no reason to be. When I was staying with my parents, I never had a curfew. She did not have to tell me to come home on time because most of the time I was at home by choice. Yah, I pretty had a boring life. When I told my mom, I had to  finish a group project overnight, it was easy to believe. There was no need for me to make white lies.

Unconditional Love

If there’s one thing I learn from my mother, it is unconditional love. It’s a kind of love that you don’t ask anything in return and that you accept people as they are. My mom does not require anything from me.

Some people will love us for what we have. Some people will love us because we are funny, nice, and charming. Some people will love us because of what we can do. Some people will love us because of what we have achieved. Nobody can just love anybody that freely. I know that even if I travel across the universe and meet as many people as I can, I know no one can give me that kind of unconditional love.

I love my mom, not only for giving me life but for the kind of life I had, and the life I made out of it.

Mama, Happy Birthday!

If you want to get to know my mother, read this… hehe