February 28, 2015

Some People Don't Want to Be Helped

I know I’m not the only one who know such people. I don’t know, though, if they feel the way I do about those people. I feel frustrated.
I may be a person of very simple means but I treat my friends like family. I go to so much trouble to help them out in any mess they get themselves into and I may not be able to help them financially but I give the most precious thing I could, my time and undivided attention.
And I feel frustrated when I see them give up the fight and give in to self destruction. It hurts to watch them brood and mope hating life and everything around them. But it hurts more to feel helpless and rejected. The feeling that you could have helped if only they would let you eats at you.
At first I blamed myself for not trying hard enough. But then again, I learned to forgive myself and let go but the forgiving and the letting go usually come after a long while. Still, it made me feel better about myself and I learned some valuable lessons. No matter how much we love our friends and how much we wanted to help them out, we simply can’t solve their problems for them.

February 27, 2015

When Things Ended

My friend *Jessica has been married with her husband for twenty years. Out of those twenty years, fifteen had been perfect. The sixteenth was clouded with suspicions and distrust and the last two were spent apart.
Jessica started to suspect that her husband was cheating on her when he began to spend less time with her and their kids. Then, he started to put his cellphone inside his pillowcase when he sleeps, stay beside the cellphone when being charged and take the cellphone with him inside the bathroom.
When Jessica saw a  silver ring inside the secret pocket of his jeans she put it back assuming it was for her, but her birthday has come and gone, but the ring was never seen again. When Jessica found two stubs of cinema tickets in his jacket pocket, she couldn't help but confront her husband, who, naturally denied they were his.
Neighbors and close friends told her how her husband was constantly seen with his ex-girlfriend whom her husband introduced as childhood friend. Jessica told her husband how jealous she feels about the girl and asked him to do something to assure her that there was nothing going on between them, but her husband found her request unreasonable.
After three years of living like that, Jessica took their children and went home to her family. Her husband considered it the ultimate betrayal. He blamed Jessica for every single thing that befell their marriage. It was Jessica who left him alone and broken and he could never forgive her for that, EVER.
Two years had passed and Jessica still hopes and believes that things will go back the way they used to be, but when asked if he still love her, he couldn't answer, but simply said.. '..everything was all your fault. If you didn't leave me the way you did, this won't happen to us...'
How many jerks do we have to meet in one lifetime? Because I keep on coming across them through my friends.. :(
*not real name

February 26, 2015

The Hunt

Marco is ambitious and hardworking. He believes he can achieve anything if he works hard enough. So, with the money he saved from his regular job, he put up a small business. He believes it is better to start from the bottom and work his way up. After a couple of years, his business became stable. However, he wasn’t satisfied. He still wanted more. So, he applied for work abroad so he could save more capital for a bigger business. He talked with his best friend, Tomas, and left the business under his care.
After two years, Marco was able to save money. But he wasn’t sure it was enough for the business he had in mind. So, instead of coming home, he signed another contract. He worked for two more years and while he was at it, he started to visualize the business he was going to put up. He had everything planned. He even got in touch with an architect who would design his building.
A week before he came home, he received an email. It seems that Tomas had ran off and with him was the entire content of the vault. When Marco arrived, he stared at the empty vault. Beside it was an old bank book with zero balance. Tomas has robbed him of everything.
Marco was furious. The amount of money he earned from working abroad would bring him no satisfaction until he had his revenge. He had to hunt Tomas down. With his heart poisoned by hatred for his traitorous friend, Marco searched far and wide. He spent his hard-earned money looking for the snake that was his friend.
He searched every town, he bribed every person, he paid for every piece of information to find that one loathsome person on the run. He spent his money lavishly if it would help him hasten things up. But a person who didn’t want to be found would not likely to be.
For years, Marco hunted Tomas. He paid no thought for anything else but to exact revenge. He ate, he slept, he breathed thinking that the next day might be the day he’d been waiting for, the end of his quest, the payback time.
Years passed and Marco driven by his hatred, continued with his search for Tomas. His bright eyes were already blurred by old age, his gait unsteady with rheumatism and his voice hoarse by drinking liquor in his attempt to drown his frustration of not finding Tomas. He spent all the money he had but he didn’t find even the shadow of his enemy.
Forty years after he came home from abroad, he got the first substantial piece of information about Tomas, an address. So, without further ado, he searched for the house expecting to find a grand mansion on which his traitorous friend spent his money on. He was not ready for an old and dilapidated home for the aged. He inquired inside and found Tomas.
Marco stared at the bag of bones and flesh crumpled on an ancient wheelchair. He has one  sightless eye and a stump for a right foot.  He raised his face to look at Marco. He opened his mouth and mumbled unintelligible sound, drool flowed freely as he spoke. Marco looked around hoping to hear an explanation. One of the senior social workers spoke.
Tatay Tomas had been with us for thirty years. We know very little about him. No one claimed to be his family and he wouldn’t tell us where he lived. We just found him wandering the streets and begging for food. Inside his jacket pocket was a ten-year old newspaper clipping. It was about a man who was attacked by muggers on his way to the bus terminal. According to the newspaper, the victim was carrying a heavy duffel bag. He was dragged by the muggers and tried to get the bag from him. It said that he fought them back but since there were more of them, they were able to beat him. They smashed his right foot and cut his tongue and left him to die on the street. Luckily, someone came along and found him and took him to the hospital.
“We assumed that he was the man in the newspaper so we called him Tatay Tomas. Are you his relative?”
Marco looked at his friend. Then, he looked at his heart searching for the anger and hatred that drove him to look for Tomas all these years, but found nothing..
I was… I am his friend” Marco answered.
Marco left Tomas with a light heart. It was time for him to go home, wherever that is, and start to think about his life, where it had gone and where it would go, finally.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

February 25, 2015

My Children's Crafts

This is a re-post. It originally appeared on another blog on Feb. 26, 2014. It is re-posted for sentimental reasons.

I am a crafter. Among my crafts are crochet, beadworks, cross stitch and a little sewing.
So, it isn’t surprising if my kids are crafters as well. Though I want my children to concentrate on their studies, I also encourage them to develop their crafts. I know how it feels to finish a project and I want to share that feeling with them.

Among my children, my eldest, Candid, is the least crafty of all. Still, she was able to finish this one and only cross stitch of hers which is displayed in her room.

This is Hobby, my son Daryl’s creation. It is a robot made from old cartons. I believe it was inspired by the movie Wall-E though there is no resemblance. It’s just that he started making carton robots when he watched Wall-E several years back.

He covered the lower limbs with foil. I can’t remember where he got the foil, though..
Proud of his creation, isn’t he?

Of all my children, Mika, is the craftiest of all. She learned to crochet when she was 11 and she got into beadworks last year when she was just 12. This is her first project. Quite good for a beginner I would say.

This is her second and more ambitious project. Though I was the one who sewed on the zipper, still, it was something for a girl of 12 to make.

Hmmm.. Another proud crafter.
Like mother, like children, indeed…

February 24, 2015

Self Imprisoned

Honestly, I can’t imagine why someone, ANYONE, would choose to imprison herself in an invisible cell of her own design. All the more so if that someone is pretty, smart and healthy.
My friend Tanya* was 19 when she got pregnant by her conceited boyfriend. Considering no other choices but to marry the jerk, she did, and as we expected, she was verbally and emotionally abused. The unhappy marriage lasted for several years until the guy grew tired of her and left her for someone else.
Tanya nursed her broken heart for quite a while until she met someone else. But Someone Else was married. Probably desperate and convinced that the guy would leave his wife for her, Tanya went on with the relationship. And just like the first jerk, this second jerk treated her unfairly. He was jealous and possessive and he kept on ordering her around.
When I invited her to sleep over in our house, she felt embarrassed and told me that her boyfriend doesn’t allow her to go somewhere unless he’s with her. When I asked her if she’s still happy with their relationship, because as long as she is, then that’s fine by me. But it seems like she felt not only  unhappy but also trapped.
Tanya is only 40 years old at the moment. Her kids are almost grown up and she still has a great chance to find someone who will make her happy. But how could she find someone if she chose to imprison herself with the life she thought she deserves?
*not real name

February 23, 2015

Faces of Success

Despite their differences, Roy, Dennis and Gilbert have been friends since they were young. Roy was a handsome boy whose parents own the oldest and biggest bakeshop in town. Dennis was the sturdy son of wealthy rice growers and Gilbert was skinny being the son of an ordinary employee. But what Gilbert lacked in looks and body, he made up in brains as he was the smartest of the three.  But since childhood knows neither wealth nor poverty, the three remained friends until they got older.
On the night of their high school graduation, Roy, Dennis and Gilbert, each with a beer can in hand toasted for their future. Roy was to help his father manage the bakeshop, Dennis was to work in the farm while Dennis, with no business to help manage and no land to help grow anything, declared his intention to enroll to the state college. It was his only best shot to make a better life for himself.
Years had passed and the three friends constantly got  in touch with each other. Gilbert was sincerely happy to see his friends doing well with what they do. Roy opened a new and his own branch of  the bakeshop in another town, and in celebration of his success, paid for their drinks and food.
More years had passed and Dennis made the biggest deal of his agricultural career so far. He made the highest net income among all the farm owners in town and the three friends toasted for his well deserved success.
Gilbert, on the other hand, was still struggling with his education working as a gasoline boy to help himself through college. But despite his friends’ successes, Gilbert wouldn’t accept any financial assistance from them but was overjoyed to have their hand-me-down polo shirts and pants. It seem like having their discarded wardrobes would rub off their luck on him.
Another year went by and Gilbert finally graduated from college. His friends, despite his protests, spent lavishly to celebrate his success. Gilbert was overwhelmed with gratitude, not only for making it through college but for the blessing of real friends.
But after that, the friends found it difficult to spend time together. Roy had been having problems with the other bakeshop and had to close it down, Gilbert was barely getting even for the past several planting seasons, and Gilbert was busy with his new job. They haven’t even noticed that years flew by without their usual get-together
Then, the trial began when Roy’s bakeshop, which was also his place of residence, caught fire. Dennis was the first to arrive by his car followed by Gilbert on his motorcycle and together, they stood by Roy as he watched his lifetime of hard work went into flames and turned into ashes. Dennis offered his house to Roy and he graciously accepted.
Things turned out pretty well. It took Roy some while to get over the blow but with Dennis and Gilbert’s help and encouragement, he started all over again. But just when he was about to start rebuilding his house and bakeshop, a strong typhoon hit the country and destroyed all Dennis’ crops and his and other people’s houses.
Now, it was Roy and Gilbert who stood beside Dennis as he wept over millions worth of rice which would never be sold.
Miraculously or probably because it was built between two towering houses, Gilbert’s house withstood the raging storm and except for one missing window shutter and flooded kitchen, his house was fine. He invited Roy and Gilbert to stay with him temporarily while Roy’s house was being rebuilt.
For months, the three friends lived together. They played cards together, dreamed together, planned together as they used to do when they were young. After a few months, Roy moved to his newly built house and Dennis to his newly repaired one.
Gilbert’s house might be the smallest and ugliest, but his was the place where they started all over again, making it the most special house of all.
 (Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

February 22, 2015

My Kids' Book Collection

This is a re-post. It originally appeared on another blog on Feb. 19, 2014. It is re-posted for sentimental reasons.

Like mother, like children.
One of several things that my kids obviously got from me is my love for reading, naturally they love books. And I love them even more for it.
All three of them learned to read at age 5 while I started reading (in Pilipino) at 7. Then, I began collecting books in college when each of them has a collection of her/his own right now. Well,  I guess they are luckier than I, right?

My eldest daughter Candid actually reads books from my collection and her own collection is composed mostly of books by Bob Ong.

Daryl’s collection is mostly comic books particularly Doraemon. Some of his academic books are being kept somewhere safe in my attempt to make them last longer :D

Of the three of them, Mika has the most number of books in her collection, several of them are Hanna Montana books.

We are a family of book lovers and we are proud to have books in every corner of our house. Sometimes we discuss a book that we all read and it feels great to know that they really understood the story, that they really analyzed the characters and even have their own opinions about some parts of the book.
So, to my kids..
Keep reading even when others don’t. It’s their loss… :D

February 21, 2015

A Sponge

Leo* and Sheila* had been close friends since college. Sheila fell hopelessly in love with Leo and Leo knew it. But to save the friendship, Sheila kept her feelings at bay and remained the warm and casual friend to Leo. In fairness to Leo, he acted just as casual as Sheila did.
Sheila felt relieved when they finally graduated from college and eventually parted ways. But after a couple of years, Leo found her and paid her a visit. Just like before, they talked a lot. But Leo did most of the talking and Sheila, as always, assured Leo’s undeclared fears, smoothed his ruffled feathers and made him feel good. Then, after that he disappeared and Sheila didn’t hear from him again.
After several years, Leo tracked her down. He told her how much he’d changed. He was no longer the uneasy fellow he once was. He was proud of his newly-found confidence. He was already ranting for minutes when he finally thought to ask Sheila how she was. Sheila said she was doing well with her life. She was settled and, in fact, there will be a celebration in their house the following week and she even invited Leo, sincerely wishing he would come. Leo promised but didn’t show up.
After several more years, Leo found Sheila again. But this time Leo already made a name for himself. He told Sheila about his transformation and how thankful he was to her for being the one to bring about that transformation. As she used to do, Sheila just listened, saying the right words and asking the right questions. But she was beginning to realize how Leo was treating her all this time.
Tracked down when needed and discarded after use.
As Sheila expected, she never heard of Leo again for another year. And when she did, it was when Leo was starting to feel down and unsure about himself. And she finally learned what she was to Leo. She was a SPONGE, not a FRIEND. And she felt very very sorry, not for herself, but for Leo. Because all this time, he never knew what he's got.
*not real name

February 20, 2015

Knowledge and Wisdom

Rico is the son of a successful businessman. He grew up with his future carefully laid out for him. He should go to the best schools and be among the finest lawyers in the country.
Brought up by high moral standards, Rico proved to be the ideal son his father wanted him to be when he became a lawyer at 25. Living up to expectations, Rico became a fine, just and respectable lawyer. He read various books to help him solve cases. He acquired knowledge but still craved for more.
For years, he won case after case and became famous for his anecdotes and trivia from the most cliché to the most outrageously unlikely facts. It never fails to amuse Rico to see the faces of his audience, as he delivers his argument, turn from self-assurance to skepticism and finally to submission when Rico is proven right.
Life, for Rico, is an unending quest for knowledge. After several years, however, there were things that Rico still could not understand. He kept on reading and searching, but still, there are things that he could not deliver with passionate conviction. It was as if there were things he knew only in his mind but never in his heart.
Then one day, while he waiting on a bench outside a church, he met an old gardener with bright eyes and burnt skin. As was typical of him, he engaged the old man in conversation and was surprised to find he was enjoying himself. The old man, if he were telling the truth, was a former soldier who deserted his post to hunt down his wife who ran away with his best friend. He found them after a few years, his best friend drinking himself to death trying to drown the guilt and despair of living with a woman who didn’t love him, and his wife living in endless regret but chose to stay because she had nowhere else to go.
One look at these creatures and the old man saw himself just as pathetic, as insignificant and as dispensable as they were. He wasn’t any better than his traitorous friend nor his undeserving wife.
Rico found himself extremely amused that he handed the old man P1000.  The old man, taking no offense, looked at him..
What is this for?”
For your company. It is not very often that I meet a person whose company I enjoy as much as I enjoyed yours today..”
I know who you are, and I respect what you do. But you wont get any wiser from the books you read every night. Wisdom comes from the streets. They will tell you how a family grows big when there is no father around, and how they manage to live in a cart as big as the trunk of your car.
“If you want to understand the world, leave your fancy clothes behind and live with ordinary people. Let’s see how wise you get after a week.”
Rico found the old man’s suggestion interesting. So, the following day dressed in old shirt and faded jeans, he left his house. His money was only enough to rent a room for one month and he he had were a few extra shirts and a small notebook to write his experiences on.
He came to a small town and was accepted as a dishwasher in a small restaurant. His salary was enough only for food so he lived very frugally. He walked to work every day with his packed lunch in a canvas bag.  He walked back home at night, spent an hour listening to his neighbors talk, and go to sleep. After a few months, he became a part of the community and stayed there for two years.
On the night Rico came back home to his old life, the first thing he noticed were the lines on his faces, next was the thick calluses on both the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet and finally but most importantly, the discerning look in his eyes.
He’d seen so much in two years. He helped deliver a baby, rushed a convulsing child to a hospital, held a friend’s hand as he bled to death on the street, helped extinguish a roaring fire, helped people across a flood, lay on a public hospital bed delirious with fever, ate stale bread, slept with empty stomach, played Sta. Claus at the plaza, drank beer and puked on the street, went to work without taking a bath for three days, and fell in love with life.
The following day, Rico went out to see the old man at the church to thank him. But when they stood facing each other with profound understanding in both their eyes, he grabbed the old man’s hand and shook it. They sat down on the bench and stared at the setting sun. Neither talk. No one needed to. It was the kind of silence shared only by people who knew life for what it was.
Rico resumed his law practice and became one of the greatest lawyers in the country.
 (Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

February 19, 2015

We Didn’t Need the Internet in the 80's and We Survived

Yes, we didn’t but we managed to survive. Moreover, no one can say that we are less smart than those kids who were born during the computer era. 

So, why is the internet so crucial in our live today? Why is it that we feel so doomed when the internet is out? Why do we feel painfully frustrated when we can’t login to Facebook or we can’t post on Twitter?

Why do we let ourselves so..  dependent on the internet that we feel oppressed and seemingly depressed when we don’t have it in our lives?

I can understand those kids who grew up with it. They don’t know otherwise. But for us who were used to snail mail and chatting-under-the moonlight and libraries, why do we allow slow internet connection to get to us when we didn’t have it then?

Have we grown too lazy to read reference books because we got used to googling? Have we grown too impatient to wait till morning to say what we have to say to our friends that we have the urgent need to send a private message on Facebook? Have we become too needy that we need to post our complaints on Twitter to let other people know how we feel at the moment? Most importantly, have we no sense of privacy anymore that we post on social media everything that goes on in our lives?

Maybe I’m just too traditional to keep the old ways of life like reading printed pages instead of googling, taking time to visit friends instead of sending private messages and enjoying moments of privacy with family, relatives and friends without posting pictures on Facebook.

It’s not a sort of rebellion. I simply.. prefer it that way.

I’m not a hypocrite as to say I don't need social media or ultimately the internet. As a matter of fact, my husband works abroad and we get in touch regularly through Skype. I am also a blogger and I make small amounts of money online. So, for me, to say I don't need social media makes absolutely no sense.

So, why am I writing this article? 

I just want to point out that slow internet connection is not the end of the world and that we need to spend time away from social media to do something else, like... 'stop and smell the flowers..' 

I know I sound old-fashioned but believe me.. I enjoy life, I mean.. life away from the internet, and I want others to enjoy it too.   

Time is a gift. Let's spend it in meaningful ways, because when it passed by us, we can never have it back again...

When We Stop Caring

Yesterday, I met two of my close friends in college. They are both smart and I like them a lot. But there are something about both of them that, not actually, bothers me, but, makes me feel.. wary. They both have a tendency to freak out, as in really freak out. And when they do, all hell breaks loose.
They said they can’t tolerate stupid and incompetent people. I find it a little.. harsh(?). Well, I told them that stupid people are everywhere and there is nothing any of us can do about that. Then, they told me about the time that they had ranted at people and I found myself wincing at their stories. But as I listened to them, I came to the conclusion that they wouldn’t rant unless they were provoked. By my, how often and how easily they got provoked..
As for me, ranting is the last resort. And I can remember only two instances that I ranted. And though I got what I wanted, I wasn’t happy with what I did. I felt that I failed somehow and that I should have handled the situation more diplomatically. But it was done and there’s nothing I can do to undo it, so I have to live with the guilt and the shame of embarrassing and hurting other people by my ranting.
Then, I asked my friends.. ‘When you rant at people, do you ever consider how they would feel?’
And they said they don’t care..
Well, that’s it. That’s the difference between them and me. Because I care, in fact, I care a lot about how other people will feel. And I don’t want to stop caring.. EVER.

February 18, 2015

College Infatuation

Well, I know it sounds.. cheesy. Besides, I don’t even know if there really is such thing as college infatuation, high school infatuation, yes, but college, I’m not really sure.
Anyways, when I was a college freshman, I met this really really smart guy. At first, you would actually mistake him for a nerd. But then again, when you get to know him better, you will realize that he really is cool only three times smarter than the average guy and I liked him.
Too bad he was already involved with someone else that time. Besides, I didn’t even know if he would like me the same way I did him, right? Still, it was enough for me to be just an ordinary acquaintance to him. I felt flattered when he would engage me in a sort of philosophical discussion that was actually Greek to me. What I enjoyed most, however, was when we discuss literary stuff. I read as much as he did so I guess we were in equal footing. He was the one who introduced some classic novels to me and I actually read most of what he recommended.
Who would ever know that we would meet again after more than two decades. The moment I saw him, I felt the same.. awe that I had always felt for him. And when he spoke, I was enthralled and was taken back to the time when I was a college freshman with my head filled with ridiculous ideas and eyes all dreamy with infatuation.
The only difference is that, I am now older and wiser and tougher. And as we talked, I realized why I liked him before. He is so… ‘not ordinary’.
I was so happy to see him again and I really wish him all the best life can give. Wherever he is, may he continue to use his talents and skills to make a difference in the world.

February 17, 2015

Martha's Crowning Glory

Martha was born with a cascade of long, shiny, straight black hair. Her naturally beautiful and noticeable long hair which is the object of envy among hers friends makes Martha very vain. She thinks it is the most beautiful thing in the world and she couldn’t go out of the house without its customary brush of a hundred or so strokes and her efforts are rewarded with gazes of awe mixed with envy.
Understandably but unnecessarily, Martha considered her hair the most important thing in her life. She wouldn’t let anybody touch it and she allots several hours of one day in a week to give it a special treatment of scalp massage with freshly made coconut oil. Just like Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection in the water, Martha couldn’t get away from the mirror to brush and admire her exceptional crowning glory.
As her hair grew longer and more beautiful each day, Martha started to look at other girls’ hair first with pity. ‘Too bad they don’t have hair as beautiful as mine‘ she thought, then with disgust, ‘I couldn’t live with hair as ugly as that!’ earning her mother’s admonition which Martha brushed off.
If at first she only kept her opinions to herself, she soon voiced them out and got away with it. The girls whose hairs she criticized would simply go away with embarrassment. Consequently, it became Martha’s habit to look at other girls’ hairs and say something bad about them.
Then one day, a package arrived at Martha’s house. It was a bottle of overwhelmingly sweet-smelling shampoo. Written on the card was a message:
‘Yours is the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen. Use this shampoo and be more beautiful still..’
Martha never used any other shampoo with her hair apart from the one she’s been using since she was young. So, she decided to throw the package away. But she read the message again and thought that it wouldn’t be bad to be even more beautiful.
She kept the bottle contemplating all along whether to use it or not. But after a few days, vanity got the best of her. She opened the bottle, poured a generous amount of the sparkling shampoo on her palm and lovingly caress her hair starting from the roots down to the tips.
As Martha anticipated, her hair became even more beautiful. She couldn’t think how it was possible but her hair seems to get even smoother, shinier and darker. This, however, made Martha even more proud and vain.
She’s been using the shampoo for quite some while when a few strands of her beautiful hair started to fall. She ignored it for it was natural for the old hair to fall off to be replaced by new ones. But the following day, there were more, and even more on the next day after that. In just a few days, almost half of Martha’s hair has fallen off. Her mother had her checked by a doctor. It was found out that the mysterious shampoo was in fact made of the sap of a toxic plant that grew deep in the forest. Luckily, it was not poisonous enough to kill Martha but her hair would never grow back.
Martha cried days and nights, but her hair continued to fall off until there wasn’t any left. With love and pity for her daughter, Martha’s mother tried to console her..
My child, sooner or later you have to stop feeling sorry for the hair you have lost. Now you know where vanity could take you as well as how far a person would go to pull you down. Whoever sent you the shampoo could be someone who envied your hair or someone whom you criticized. As there are many of them, there is no way to tell who it was, and there really is no point in finding out. Whoever she was, she wasn’t evil enough to have you killed but hated you enough to take pains to find such plant and let you live to suffer the loss of the thing you valued the most.
But when you really think about it, it wasn’t even the sender’s fault. You had a choice to use or not to use the shampoo. But since you were too vain to want to be more beautiful than you already are, you use it anyway even if you didn’t know what it really was.”
Humbled by her now bald head, Martha started to treat other people with kindness. At first, she thought that people were laughing at her head which she wrapped in a bandana but eventually, she realized that nobody cared about it anymore, so, she stopped caring as well.
Martha began treating people gently and kindly. Her kindness which stemmed from her humility over her lost hair became genuine compassion. She talked with people with such consideration and understanding careful not to hurt their feelings in any way but make them feel good about themselves.
One day, a girl with one blind eye held Martha’s hand and said..
‘Miss Martha, you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen…’
Then Martha remembered the message attached to the bottle of shampoo. Her eyes watered and tears fell down as she murmured a genuine thank you to whoever sent the poisoned bottle for making her more beautiful than she ever was.

Note: The toxic plant is fictitious, invented by the blog author to write this story.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarity with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

February 16, 2015

Do We Teach Our Kids to Pray?

This is a re-post. It originally appeared on another blog on Feb. 12, 2014. It is re-posted for sentimental reasons.

When my kids were young, we used to pray together before we go to sleep. I told them to thank the Lord first for all the blessings that we receive every day. Then, ask Him to keep all of us safe and healthy, to watch over them while they study and play and finally to make them good and smart kids. I told them to ask everything in Jesus’ name.
Though we have stopped this ritual of praying together before going to sleep a few years back, I believe in my heart that they do pray on their own.
Last year, my eldest daughter’s close friend had a problem. It seems like, her mother, who has been separated from her father, who already has a new family, was seriously ill.
Trying to comfort her friend, my daughter told her to pray for her mother’s health and to ask for strength from God in order to overcome whatever it was they were facing at the moment. My daughter was stunned when her friend said she didn’t know how to pray. At first, she thought her friend was joking. But when the girl cried, my daughter realized that though her friend goes to mass every Sunday, she didn’t really learn to talk to God.
I felt sad for my daughter’s friend. I know that her parents have been separated. Her father has a new family and her mother is working abroad to support her and her brother. They may have the latest and most expensive gadgets available in the market, but I guess they feel lonely sometimes. I hope my daughter was able to teach her to communicate with God, because if that is so, she wouldn’t feel lonely anymore.

February 15, 2015

So Much for Childhood Friends

Paul* has been my friend since we were in grade four. Ours was a friendship that neither of us recognized at first. I can still remember how we used to bicker with each other and how I rolled my eyes at him and he would throw me a disgusting look that told me I was the most ridiculous person in the world.
Things changed when we went to high school. By that time, though we never talked about it, we knew that we’ve gone a long way back. He knew he could count on me and I knew I could depend on him. Aside from my own circle of girl friends, Paul was one constant thing in my routine. He usually dropped by at our house to talk about anything. Among the topics we usually discussed were the time he was selling ice candy around town, the time his mother died and the girl he was head-over-heels in love with. I can still remember buying a load of pandesal from him at dawn to help him finish early and helping him smuggle a picture of his lady love. Those were such ‘good ole days’.
We went to college and we matured and so did our friendship. Then he got married. I was happy for him. I met his wife and I was glad that he found such a nice and smart woman. They had been through difficult times and through all those times, I made my presence felt. The difficult times were long and they were taking a toll on Paul I started to worry about him. But I stood by him no matter what, replied to his text messages even in the dead of night because I knew he needed someone to talk to.
So, I was more shocked than surprised when I learned he’d gone abroad. I was happy for him, I really was. But going so far away without letting me know, without even dropping a hint was a blow to me. I felt hurt, but I assumed he had his reasons. He was abroad long when I finally received an email from him. I was so glad to hear from him I forgot how hurt I was for what he did. We started to chat regularly and I was genuinely happy for what he was starting to make for himself.
Then, I didn’t hear from him for a couple of months. So, when I learned that he had come home and was already back abroad, I wasn’t just hurt, I was angry. It was such an unfamiliar feeling I didn’t know how to handle it. This time, I didn’t need to justify him. It was for me plain and simple. He didn’t want to see me and that was that. For whatever reasons he had, I simply don’t care anymore.
Today, I saw his picture on Facebook and felt sad. And I realized how much I miss him, not that smiling man on Facebook but the young boy I grew up with. Because wherever he is now, he is still my friend and the times we shared together will never be changed, not even by him or me.
*not real name

February 14, 2015

The Fortune Plant

Daniel and Rita have been friends. They were neighbors and they practically grew up together. They were as close as close friends could be. They played together as children and studied together as students.  As they grew old, their closeness didn’t change, in fact, it seemed to be getting stronger.
On the day of their graduation from high school, Daniel and Rita were looking for some fresh flowers for Rita’s corsage when Daniel caught her staring at something.
What is it?” he asked.
That..” Rita pointed at a strange looking plant.. “is a fortune plant*” she continued.
Daniel, don’t you know what a fortune plant is?”
Hmmm.. No.”
“It’s a very rare plant. Only the most patient people can grow it, and very few people can make it flower.”
Why would anybody want to grow it? It’s not even pretty. It looks.. strange” protested Daniel.
It looks strange because it’s uncommon. It doesn’t grow at just any backyard. You have to plant it in a separate clay pot, it must be clay and not rubber or plastic, and put it under the shade otherwise the sun would scorch the leaves and it will die. If it survives, you have to wait for 18 months before a single bud would show up, then you have to be very careful with it as the flower is very delicate and the chances that it will bloom is very small..”
It produces only one single flower?”
That’s why it’s called fortune plant. You are a very fortunate person if you ever make it flower. Some people say it brings luck..”
Luck as in money?”
Could be, or love, or whatever makes the person happy..”
It still isn’t pretty..”
Daniel, what makes it pretty is the patience and effort of the person who grew it..”
Daniel just shrugged his shoulder and gave the plant one last look.
After  high school, the two went to college, took different courses and met new friends. They spend time together only on weekends. Time passed by and Rita turned into a beautiful lady. Daniel, on the other hand, remained her closest and most loyal friend, though Rita secretly wished he were more than that. Despite her many suitors, Rita couldn’t find any one who made her feel cherished and cared about as much as Daniel did. How much she wished Daniel felt the same way.
After a couple of years, Rita celebrated her 18th birthday. With Daniel as her escort, she was filled with immeasurable felicity. She didn’t mind that Daniel arrived empty handed in contrast to the enormous gifts her countless suitors brought. She was simply happy to have him by her side on this very special day.
As the party neared its conclusion, Daniel stood up and took the microphone and made the shortest speech Rita has ever heard..
Happy birthday to the most important girl in my life..” then waked across the room to Rita’s backyard and came back with a pot of strange looking plant.
Rita gasped.
A fortune plant!
It was crowned with a single white flower which Rita has never seen before. And that single flower said everything Rita wanted to hear..
Daniel put the plant beside the cake and came back to Rita’s side.
With her eyes shining with unshed tears, she asked..
But I thought you didn’t like it..”
I don’t.”
Then why did you grow it?”
I grew it for you…”
So, Rita believed the flower really brings luck. It brought her love.. As for Daniel, he believed love brought the flower and not the other way around.

*Fortune Plant is a fictitious plant I invented to write this story. I don’t know if it exists. If it does, I’m not aware of it.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarity with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)