Archive for the ‘A Day In A Life…’ Category

All 20 Of Them

Confirmed: 20 school children, ages 6-7 years old died during a one man brutal shooting rampage in an elementary school in Connecticut. For sure, all of us have heard and followed-up on this sad news as it progresses, and different kinds and degrees of emotional impact have touched our lives…

As it was my morning routine, my TV was tuned in to the morning news, while preparing to go to work. I first heard about this incident on the morning of December 14, 2012. My eyes got glued to the screen,as I listened to the newscaster rant about a shooting  in an elementary school. All of a sudden, because of shock and disbelief, I felt my knees became weak, that I have to slump on my bed. At that time, there were yet no definite information as to why and how it happened, who did it, and whether there were fatalities. But the fact that it was in an elementary school, very young children were the ones grossly affected. During the days that followed, pictures of these beautiful angels graced the TV screen, Facebook, and other on-line social media network. Each time a beautiful, innocent smiling face flashed in the boob tube and tabloids, my heart skipped a beat. Mixed emotion overwhelmed me: grief, compassion, outrage, regret. They were prematurely robbed of their right to live, and their future. The only basic question I asked myself was: “Why?” The “why” that you and I will never know the answer.

These innocent children, all 20 of them, will never be seen again carrying their backpacks; run to the nearest school bus stop to catch their ride to school; smear their faces with peanut butter and jelly; sit on their parent’s lap; or will be heard yelling out: “Yes Mom, I already did my homework”. “Yes Mom, I already brushed my teeth”.

These innocent children, all 20 of them, were just in the first step of the ladder of educational pursuit and were just on the process of discovering the world. Perhaps some of them have their childhood dream, a dream that will never be realized.

These innocent children, all 20 of them, whose parents, brothers and sisters will no longer be able to kiss and hug them before they go to bed at night and after they wake up in the morning; whose chair in the dining table will remain empty; whose smile when they get their favorite toy, will no longer be seen.

They may no longer be in this world, but their memory will remain and will be cherished in the hearts of those people whom their lives were touched…they will never be forgotten.



Two Of A Kind

They share the same birthdate; born just a few minutes apart. They first saw the world, at home, in my Dad and Mom’s bed. I was almost seven years old when my twin siblings were born. They are fraternal twins.

At that time, home delivery was the common practice in our province. The then called Public Health Nurse’s expertise was to deliver babies, any time of the day, any day of the week. No incubators, no epidural block anesthesia, no postpartum pain reliever (maybe there was, I was just not aware of it). The only pain reliever I knew then, was Medicol and Cortal, for toothache or headache.

During the time when my mother was pregnant with me, or my brother, or the rest of my siblings, Ultrasound or MRI were not part of the medical lingo. In the town where I came from, pre-natal check-up was only done by a visiting midwife, or in the community Health Center, which unfortunately, did not have state of the art machines and gadgets like what is being used today, that even if the baby is just a pea-sized blip, it’s viability can already be visualized and interpreted. Perhaps, it was only through the expert and capable hands that can palpate, and ears with the aid of a stethoscope, that a nurse can determine a pregnant woman carries a single baby, or a twin. The question is: What about if it’s a triplet, or whatever “plet”? My! that would be a challenge, difficult to know.

As far as I can remember, on the day (November 3) that they were born, I did not have the slightest clue that our family will welcome two new babies. When I was finally allowed to enter my parent’s bedroom, I was pinned down (remember the cartoon TV show where the Road Runner suddenly stops? Tha’s what I did), halfway between the door and the bed, when I saw two babies, swaddled in white blanket, one on each side of my mother. “There’s two of them!” I exclaimed in awe. My young brain was still confused and could not understand how did it happen. But, there they were: Sylvia, born first and weighed 8 pounds, then Hubert, born later about 3 (or maybe 5?) minutes apart, and weighed 6 pounds. As per my father’s account, both babies were breech (feet first, instead of the normal presentation: head first). As it was a strike of good luck or perhaps by divine intervention, both of them were wrapped inside an amniotic sac.

Perhaps it was a blessing that the delivery process did not have to be complicated; because without the sac, Cesarian Section will be the next best option and my mother’s and the babies lives would be in extreme danger, considering such factors like: my mother was in active labor; the time constraint when my mother will be transported via a private car (no ambulance service) from our town, 8 kilometers away, to the provincial hospital; the unavailability of communication system (no telephone) to alert the hospital; and the unpaved/rough road to travel to. But, lo and behold! the twins came as naturally as ever possible.

Yes. They were conceived from the same embryo, was nurtured and thrived inside the same womb, shared the same blood supply, and born from the same parents. But, being fraternal twins, they obviously can be distinguished one from the other, as to their height: Sylvia is taller than Hubert; Sylvia got her physical features from my father’s side while Hubert got his from my mother’s side. They grew up possessing a personality that is distinctly their own: Sylvia is Sylvia, and Hubert is Hubert. Let’s leave it at that. They are two of a kind…but different.



The Mystery Of A Charred Pizza

It was just another Friday morning at work…or so I thought. But when I went out from the business office after our staff stand-up meeting, I smelled something…burning. “Now, what?” Was it from a faulty electrical wiring? Was it from one of our residents in the room who lighted a cigarette and accidentally burned his clothes? Was it from the kitchen? I hoped not! The best thing was, I did not hear the fire alarm go off.

And so, the search began…

I asked our maintenance staff to investigate what happened and check where the smell was coming from.  Like  a trained sniffing canine, he followed where the smell originated. After a while, he came to me, like one of the three magi carefully holding with both hands an offering of a dark brown, almost black colored and unrecognizable pizza box. “Somebody used the microwave in the employees lounge, to heat up a whole box of pizza, probably set the timer longer than needed, and forgot all about it”, he said. When I opened the pathetic-looking box, my eyes almost popped out of their socket. It’s black! I could not even imagine  that the charred thing inside the box, used to be a pizza.

“Who did this?” I asked. Of course he just could not give me a definite answer. There were numerous employees going in and out of the staff lounge and whoever was the culprit, obviously had no intention of stepping forward and confess.This incident prompted me to check our fire drill log, and I found out that our mandatory regular/routine fire drill was long overdue. We did it that same day.

It took one charred pizza for us to be vigilant and reminded us of our accountability and responsibility to prevent, and act accordingly in the event of fire.



Not By Choice…

“Not by choice, but by circumstances.”

 These were the words of a man whom I talked to. He approached me as I was walking out of Barnes and Noble bookstore, one Saturday afternoon. He bore a timid smile on his face, and was kind of hesitant to talk. But perhaps because of a dire need of some dollar change, he summoned all the courage he can muster, flushed his male ego down the drain, to ask…wait! to beg…if I can spare him some dollars for food. He said he is homeless and has no job. I looked at him straight in the eye, and asked why he doesn’t have a home, why he doesn’t have a job. The words that came through: “ma’am, it is not by choice but by circumstances.”  Whether he was telling the truth or not, at that point in time my brain did not even get the chance to process. Those words were more than enough to instinctively made me fish out some dollar bills from my purse, and handed to him. With a grateful smile, he said “thank you.” I just nod my head, and walked towards the parking lot. As I was driving home, those words kept repeating in my brain. I was slapped on the face with reality. How many of us are so lucky, and how many out there are not?

A job.

The reason why we have food on the table, why we are able to send our kids to school, why we can pay our bills, why we have a roof above our head, and why we are able to buy the things we need and the things we want.

If when and if by an unfortunate strike of bad luck that we lose our job, and if we live by paycheck to paycheck, how many? Two, three, maybe the most is four paychecks away and we will be walking with this man, (or many more like him), on the road of uncertainty. This is the sad reality.



Love and Peace

How many times a day do we think about ourselves? I, Me, Myself?Blame it to human nature; blame it to an old adage: “loving yourself is the greatest love of all”; rationalize that in order to give love, you have to love yourself first. The truth is, love has to start from somewhere. If it is love to oneself, then so be it. But let it overflow, let it trickle down…share it…give it. The basic feeling that paves the way to giving, are acceptance and love. Accept any person as who they are and love them without condition. Huh!  Pretty tough indoctrination, should I  say? But here’s the fact…Regardless of who we are: age and sexuality is not a factor; social and economic standing has no bearing; nationality, political  and religious affiliation does not equate,  as we relatively and collectively share the love we feel  in our hearts, to others. Eyebrows down, please!

In  one of her interviews/speeches,   Queen Rania of Jordan, shared so many ideas and personal point of views. I admired her  spontaneity, wisdom, and ability to communicate her thoughts about so many things, especially about human feelings and humanity as a whole.
Here are some of her thoughts (I may be paraphrasing here).
“Whatever we look like, wherever we live, however we pray, we respond to human suffering as human beings.”
” We shed the same tear, and our tears wouldn’t have been distinguishable because, whether who we are,  we have the same way of loving. The voice of the heart needs no translation. The way we feel is exactly the same.”
“We have to show up in our lives as ourselves, no matter what role we play or whatever title we carry.”
So very true, and I agree. Do you?
Every day, we hear talks about Peace.
In the 1960’s during the Woodstock Hippie generation,  we hear the famous slogan: “Make Love, Not War”, and somehow it got glued to the minds of the future  generations. War has been fought, and so many lives were lost, to achieve peace. Law enforcers and peace keepers all over the world work 24 hours 7 days a week, putting their lives at stake to maintain peace. Icons like Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Mohandas Gandhi, and  Martin Luther King, Jr. showed selflessness and love for peace , in a broader and wider spectrum of it’s true meaning. But, is this enough? You and I know that it’s not it. The sad reality is, the world is still so volatile and unsecured.
This might be an idealistic and ambitious analogy, but it is really simple: think of every single individual. If each and every one of us share the love we feel in our hearts, and let compassion dwell within ourselves, it will then be a precursor to a peace process. Let us give love not only on Christmas day (as the song goes); and let us not just say Peace be with you. Think about it… not as an option but rather,  a conviction to make this world a better and a safe place to live.

Bundle Of Joy

On her 18th birthday, my daughter Waye Marie wrote this message: “When I was a little girl, I fantasized of becoming an Arabian Princess. My world would revolve around flying carpets, belly dancing, camel rides, and Aladdin’s magical lamp. This might have tied up to the fact that I was born in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and holding on to that mark of my past, I still have that dream etched in my young mind and heart.”

Yes, indeed! In Dammam, in the Middle Eastern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a beautiful baby girl was born in the morning of March 19, 1988; yet unaware of the kind of world that will be unfolded to her. I could still vividly remember the immense joy I felt when I held her close to my heart for the first time. A mother’s intuition, I knew then, that she will grow up to be a fine woman with a clearly defined vision of her future.

Well, how long ago was that? She was 3 and 1/2 months old when she left the Kingdom, for good. She survived the ten hours non-stop flight from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia to Manila, Philippines. Much more, she survived the tough times of growing up without a mother and a father by her side, with but a month in a year or two, for us to be together when I came home for vacation.

I did not have any doubt nor second thoughts when I left her under the care of her grandparents (my Mom and Dad). I knew in my heart that she will be in good hands, and will be well-taken cared of, while I was away to fulfill my employment under contract in the Middle East, and later on, when I immigrated to the United States.

You might ask: “Why on earth did I have the heart to leave behind, my only child?” It was not easy…believe me. I had to summon all the courage that I can hold on to; fight back my tears and bear those sleepless nights of longing to be with her, to hold and kiss her; I was always beset with worries and fear that I will not be able to reach out to her in times that she needs me; questioned myself what will become of her without my presence to guide her. But with all these emptiness and uncertainties, I surrendered it all to the one God who is my  refuge and source of strength, prayed that she will be safe always, because at that point in time, it was the right choice and there was no better one.

Time flies so fast that she is a grown woman now. The bundle of joy that I carried in my arms and held close to my heart is now one year shy of a quarter of a century. She became her own person: strong-willed, independent thinker and doer, and with so much love to give. We have had our dose of life’s ups and downs, laughter and tears, longings, misunderstandings, and miscommunications. So much catching up to do, and both of us faced the challenge of going through the “bonding” process when I finally was able to have her to be with me. But the strong bond of Love that exists between us, although not frequently said, out-weighs all that we went through. Indeed, she is everything bundled into one daughter, what every mother could wish and ask for.



Man’s Best Friend

I was sitting in a corner table at Barnes and Noble bookstore’s coffee shop, when a chocolate-brown Labrador strode in front of me, together with a woman holding its  leash. Momentarily, I took off my focus from the book I was reading, and gazed at the duo who stood near my table while  waiting  in front of the elevator. As soon as the elevator door opened, the dog, apparently knowing what to do, went ahead inside followed by its owner. I could not help myself but admire this special dog… it was a “service dog” as confirmed by its red colored Service Dog ID vest.
Dogs like this Labrador were trained to perform tasks to aid/benefit individuals with disability. The Americans with Disability Act of 1990 allows service dogs or any trained animal  to aid individuals who need their services. They accompany their owners to places where the general public is allowed, even riding in a public transportation. They serve as eyes, or ears, or as a companion to people who have special needs.
Wow! It never stops to amaze me, every time I see one of them…guiding their owners to cross a busy street or intersection, pick up personal things  or items dropped on the floor, or a companion to those with mental/medical condition such as depression, seizure, or diabetes. These Service Dogs are sensitive and can actually be trained to assist according to each disabled individual’s need. A strong symbiotic relationship is important between the dog and its owner, because the health and safety of the owners are dependent upon the dog’s ability to focus on whichever specific task they were trained to do. These dogs are well-trained that they are able to resist distractions from the environment they are in, during the time they are “at work!” Now, who can say that dogs can’t take on a job?
Yes they play…a lot. But isn’t it what every one of us have in common? We all have that inner child in us, and unbeknownst, we engage in some playful moments. They don’t whine, they don’t complain, they don’t answer back…well, perhaps they do, but not in a language that is known to you and me. Nevertheless, if you are familiar with the words faithful, devoted, loyal…that’s what they are. They are always there when and where they are needed.

When The Heart Speaks

     – Words of a Hopeful Romantic-

*A bridge may be made of concrete and steel but it could not surpass the strength of a bridge out of love and passion.

*It is timeless to wait if the waiting is desired from deep within your heart.

*The long and winding road can be traversed with no constraint of time if your true love awaits at the end.

*You hold the key to unlock my heart. Open it and you will find my love bottled in a timeless vessel.

*I would rather choose the path of uncertainty as long as I’m walking hand in hand with you.

*Even how long will forever be, how far beyond each passing day. My heart will keep on beating. For you, be it an endless waiting.

*They say love is bittersweet…But how could I believe that, when being with you, each moment is worth a love to keep.

*I love the feel of the gentle breeze touching my face, but I find unabashed joy when the warmth of your body touches mine.

*Your tender loving voice still echoes in my mind as you slip the ring in my finger. “As my love for you. No sides and no end, an everlasting one.”

*Just look inside your heart. You will find me in the midst of each fragment of your longings. And beyond the shadow of doubt, love will resurface when fate and chance collide.

*Together we vowed to love and withstand the test of time. A commitment we professed in front of God and of men.

*I was afraid to open my heart and let love walk in. But you made me believe in myself that I can love again.

*The secret code that you were trying to break to open my heart is no secret anymore.

*Love…I knew it then, but not the way I know it now. And I’m ready to face the future, because you are…

*You inspired me to take the risk and leave the safety of the familiar, instead of keeping me in a protective cocoon. Thank you for being there while I explore the path to self-discovery and fulfillment.

*Open your heart to the honest intention of people who cares. You will be surprised that those imbittered feelings will soon be overshadowed by understanding and acceptance. Let love reclaim its place in your heart.

*Success means nothing unless you have someone to share it with.

*In times that I’m in the midst of nothingness, I just look in your eyes. You understand, and hold my heart in the palm of your hand. Then and only then I know that the void inside me is filled with your love.

*Like a photographer, you see and capture the world with amazing precision and clarity, but the irony of it is…you fail to see the beauty right before your eyes.

*Each stroke of your brush, you captured my special moment in your canvas. At that very moment, I fell in love with you.

*I dream of you as my knight in shining armor, and together we create our own fairytale. As dreams are my different kind of reality, we explore and live happily ever after in the real world…You and I.

*At one point in our lives, we lost faith and trust because of a painful past. But if we open up ourselves to what is out there, love will reveal itself.

*Halfway through my song, I forgot the lyrics. And then it hit me…that is the part that I used to sing with you. We made beautiful music…You and I.

*You came to me in my dream. When I woke up, nestled in your loving arms…our daughter and me. Oh, what a rightful place to be.

*I have been navigating through life without a compass, until you became my true north. I’m home, where you are.

*If  I will write a book of our love story, there will be no ending. Because you and I will go on creating a new chapter as we live our life together.

*All these years, I’ve been searching for something, for answers. I’ve been looking in so many places, not realizing the importance of what I see; refusing to understand the simplicity and essence of your existence. The fact of the matter is…all along, you’ve always been there for me. How could have I missed it? Not anymore.

*Is there a magic formula for happiness? Or for falling in love? I am wondering how does it actually happen? I don’t know…I’m not sure…but it just happened to me when I am with you. So now I know: the magic formula is YOU.

*When I ran away, I end up turning back to you; when I tried to look away, I can’t help but look back to find you. I stay where my rightful place is…with You.

*People make choices…I made mine. It may not be the right one, but for me, it is the best. With you, I proved to the world, that You are my best choice.

*I taught myself to be strong to face the great unknown; taught myself to brave the storm. And from the moment you showed up at my doorstep and gave me your love, I knew…I am not alone.

*I could hardly remember who I was. What I know now is who I am when You and I became Us.

*How do you keep the waves away from the shore? How do you stop the sun from rising each morning? How do you stop a thunder follow a lightning? As nature’s course is unstoppable, so is my love for you.

*Replaying in my mind that scene when we said our last goodbye, I became skeptic to open up myself to commit. But as I moved on with time, someone saved my heart from being broken and mended my troubled emotions. A second chance may not be perfect, but the right one.

*That promise of one last slow dance, was the precursor of the many, never-ending slow dances that we danced together. You led, I followed. In your arms, I moved in a rhythm so divine, that the music goes on and on and on…

*You and I are dreamers. Perhaps chasing a dream that could never be found, perhaps striving to realize that dream but in the end could never come true…or perhaps hold on to that dream and hope that someday, our rainbows will come shining through.



Now, What?

 The waiting is over.
Well, folks…it’s 2012! Now, what?
Come to think of it. It was only yesterday that everybody (including me) were sooo in the excited, expectant mood waiting for the arrival of the new year.
The kitchen was the busiest part of the house so that food will be served in abundance as  family and friends gather at the table; grocery stores jacked up their sales of champagne and other varieties of wine (pardon me…I’m so ignorant when it comes to wines and spirits subject); and, Facebook and Twitter (perhaps) were the busiest sites where people all over the globe log on to, to send their greetings and messages. I’m just glad those sites did not crash.
The most popular place to be when celebrating new year is New York’s Times Square. I don’t need to expound, as most of you know the reason why. I haven’t been there though. This time I prefer to just stay at home and together with my daughter, we watched the celebrations via cable TV (they make good broadcasts, you know), while we ate pansit, fried chicken, fried Spam, steamed rice, and (believe it or not) warmed McGriddle from this morning’s breakfast and, drank chilled  Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. Nice….
So, how do we make memories? Several years or decades from now, will we be able to recall the details of what happened during the eve of December 31, 2011, or on new year’s day 2012? Unless you have hyperthymesia, or have pictures to refresh your memory, I doubt it. So, here’s the thing: capture the moment. Be at the right place, at the right time.
This morning when I woke up,   I did not even realize that it’s January 1, 2012. Just like clock work, I exactly did the routine I have been doing everyday: I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. And, borrowing the words of the author Elizabeth Gilbert, I “eat”, I “pray”, I “love” all the hours in between.

15 Minutes

Morning drive to work on week days is always a challenge. The traffic along the route that I take everyday is really bad, not to mention the questionable safety consciousness and courtesy of motorists. I consider myself a safe and defensive driver but unforseen incidents do happen on the road. A short prayer said for guidance and protection before I ease my car out of the driveway, gives me peace of mind and confidence while driving.

As soon as I hit the road, I am already picturing out the scene along Freeway 280: merge…accelerate…slow down…break…change lane. I live 6 miles away from work. Including stops at signal lights, the usual driving time from home to work is about 10-15 minutes but with the constraint of traffic, it could take me 20-25 minutes to reach my destination; more time will be wasted if there is an accident. For years now, I have mastered the time frame that I have set and religiously follow every single day, and I’m very good at it. Breaking away from this daily routine brings out a disconcerting feeling to me.

Sometimes, things happen beyond my control. One day, situations  were so not in my favor and for a reason or reasons I could not understand, I had a disastrous morning. Electric current tripped while I was blow-drying my hair. No power, no light. “Great, just great! Now, what will I do?” I muttered to myself. I am not an electrician but I’ve seen our maintenance guy at work, switch the circuit breaker off and on to restore the power. And, that’s what I did! I then hastily changed into my work clothes, put on my make-up, grabbed my briefcase and slung my purse on my shoulder then ran downstairs and slipped on to my comfortable working shoes. As I closed the main door, I felt something was lacking. Dang! I forgot to put my eye glasses on. How am I supposed to read and drive without my glasses? Of course I have to go back inside to get it. Now, I could not hide my irritated mood, as I knew I will be late for work. Finally, I got in my car and backed out of the garage. The final test of my patience and self-control was when I pushed my remote control to close the garage door…did not happen. “What now?” I repeatedly pushed the button so hard, that perhaps, if that remote control could talk, I must have heard nasty remarks…or better yet, I was yelled at. Hanging on to the self-control and sanity that was left in me, I got out of the car to manually close the garage door. I did not even get to figure out why this door acted up. My pre-occupied brain could no longer process sanely, considering the mishaps that occurred earlier. The sure thing I knew: I will be late for work, and was not happy about it.

As expected, the traffic was bumper to bumper as soon as I made my exit towards the freeway. The cars were moving like turtles, so slow that I was beginning to get restless, and irritation and impatience were all over me. Even the soothing music from my CD player could not neutralize my nerves. As my car moved slowly following the rest of the cars, I could see from a visual distance that a fatal accident happened. By the look of a woman being pulled out by paramedics from a totally wrecked car similar to mine, she was badly hurt, or, maybe dead? My body felt numb, my heart beat was racing, and my hands were trembling as I gripped the steering wheel. “My God! That could have been me, had I left the house 15 minutes earlier.”

I believe miracles do happen every day in so many different ways and means. The 15 minutes that I got stalled, was in reality a Divine Intervention.



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