March 31, 2015

The Two Neighbors' Houses

Tina and Hazel have been neighbors and good friends for years. Though they have very little in common, they got along just fine. While Tina loves permanence and constancy, Hazel loves spontaneity and randomness.
Tina's house is arranged the way it has always been since she was young. Except for the curtains which are replaced regularly, everything in Tina's house is permanently fixed. Though not literally glued on the wall, the framed picture of her parents' wedding were never put down nor her laminated diplomas. The old figurines that were sitting on the divider are regularly polished to shiny perfection but are put back at the exact same spot. And though new figurines are added every once in a while, the old ones stay the way they have always been. Except for the throw pillows, the living room set remained the same through the years.
Hazel's house, on the other hand is like a mall. The decorations are changed each season. Hearts for Valentine, plants for summer, pumpkins for Halloween and lanterns for Christmas. Every week, couches, chairs, tables and even the television set are rearranged based on Hazel's moods. Various living room sets were bought, used and sold every year and framed pictures are put up and down every week.
When Tina asked Hazel why she always changes everything in her house, Hazel answered..
'I always want to see something new. When I see the same thing on the same place for a long period of time, I feel bored and I want to have it changed. How about you, why do you keep things the way they are forever?'
'I want to know exactly where everything is. It comforts me to think that something is there when I need it.'
So, the two friends stayed the way they are and time went by. As expected, Hazel left to work abroad while Tina stayed to teach in the public school. After more than ten years, Hazel came back and among the first she visited was her neighbor and friend Tina.
As soon as Hazel went inside Tina's house, she felt a sense of nostalgia. It seems like she time-travelled and they were 18 years old again. She looked around and felt she has been there just the night before and has never left and gone for more than a decade. She felt a sense of belongingness she never feels anywhere else.
Then, Hazel invited Tina to come over her house which the latter very seldom sees since Hazel left. Tina was overwhelmed by how the house has changed. She knew it never stays the same but the big flat screen tv mounted on the wall and the obviously new snow white cushion sofa made Tina feel she really was out for a shopping in the mall. It made her realize how things have changed through the years.
As they were eating snack in the newly renovated kitchen, Hazel asked Tina..
'Do you know why I like your house very much?'
Tina was surprised. She never knew Hazel liked her house, but she asked just the same..
'It gives me a sense of permanence, like, if there is something, anything, permanent in my life, that would be your house. When I lose hold of my life and lose control of things around me, I think of your house and it gets me back on track and makes me realize what I want to do.'
'That's very nice. Now do you want to know why I like your house?'
'’It gets me out of stagnancy. It makes me realize how things have changed. It gives me a glimpse of what it should be like if I do the things I don't dare to do.'
'Why didn't you dare to do some things?' Hazel asked.
'It's not that I don't like to do, so I don't dare to do. I just simply like the way things are so I don't bother to change. Other people wonder how I know I wouldn't like it if things changed when I haven't even tried it. But I like everything about my life and I make it a point to do the things I like than try something just because other people like me to.'
That night, Tina lay comfortably in bed and smell the familiar scent of her pillow and drifted off to sleep with a smile, knowing she would wake up in a familiar room as she does every single day while Hazel stared at the ceiling of her room thinking of the beautiful rug she found in the mall yesterday and how nice it would look on her floor to cover the two-month old white tiles.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

March 30, 2015

A Memory: Aling Goria

Onyok* was one of my brother's close friends. His mother, Aling Goria, was a strict old woman who work from dusk till dawn. She sells various street foods depending on the season. She sells bibingka and puto bumbong (rice cakes) during the Christmas season, mangga, tubo, pakwan, palamig and halu-halo (mango, sugar cane stick, watermelon, cold drinks and mixed sweets with milk and crushed ice) during the summer season, nilagang mais, mami, goto, sopas (boiled corn, warm noodles, porridge, chicken soup) during the rainy season, and for regular days, she sells binusang mais, adobong mani and butong pakwan (mixed nuts). She never run out of anything to sell..
She was one workaholic woman. And though I didn't like her much when I was young (I remember her talking nastily), I learned to respect and admire her determination and guts when I became an adult. And deep inside I secretly wish I was as industrious and persevering as she had been.
It was one summer night when my brother was in high school. Onyok came with my brother to play billiard, maybe with a game or two in mind. As I seldom see him there, I asked how he was, ignoring the uneasy look on his face.  After one game, Onyok got excited and called for another game, any sign of uneasiness gone from his face. He surely was enjoying himself..
Then out of the darkness came Aling Goria, her eyes flaming with fury and her unkempt hair flying in all directions. She picked Onyok by the ear and dragged him out of the hall into the dark street ranting in her hoarse voice..
"You, son of a b#@ch! I am working as hard as a horse so that I can send you to school, and what do you do? Play billiards, you fool! You must realize that I'm not doing it for myself, I'm doing it for you so that you can study and have a life better than I had, you animal! Go home and prepare the peanuts! "
(Anak ka ng p#@a! Kayod kabayo na ko para lang makapag aral, tapos ano gagawin mo, magbibilyar ka lang na sira ulo ka. Dapat mong malaman na hindi ko to ginagawa para sa sarili ko, ginagawa ko to para magkaroon ka ng mas magandang buhay, hayup ka. Umuwi ka dun at ihanda mo yung mane!)
I can no longer remember the other things that she said. Whatever they were, I know they were sensible and true. After several years, I was glad to learn that Onyok did finish his studies. I heard he took up Education course and became a teacher. That would be thanks to Aling Goria..
*not real names

March 29, 2015

Childhood Misconceptions

When I was young, I had assumptions which turned out to be misconceptions... Among which are as follows: (Scroll all the way down for the English version)


Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko ang ‘pan’ ay panghanda sa Pasko, meryenda lang pala yun ng ibang tao.
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko ang family size na coke ay binibili lang kapag may bisita o may birthday, pwede naman pala bumili basta may pera ka.
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko ang sopas ay inihahanda lang kapag birthday o Pasko, niluluto pala yun para makakain ang may sakit.
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko adobong manok ang pinakamasarap at pinakamahal na ulam sa buong mundo, marami pa palang mas masarap dun.
Ø  Nug bata ako akala ko pagkatapos ng Holy Week ay pyesta na, may mga lugar palang walang pyesta at mga lugar na walang Holy Week.
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko ang Jollibee ay para lang sa mayayaman, may mayayaman pala na hindi masyadong pinapansin ang Jollibee.
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko yung mga nao-honor sa school ay siyang magaganda ang buhay paglaki, kapag pala nakapag-asawa ka ng mayaman kahit hindi mo alam ang kaibahan ng ‘fast’ sa ‘fastly’ay siguradong maganda ang magiging buhay mo (alam mo ba ang kaibahan ng ‘fast’ sa ‘fastly’? Wag mo na isipin kasi wala namang salitang fastly, mali yun. Subukan mo i-type sa Microsoft Word magkakaroon ng guhit)
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko pag naka-graduate ka ng college yayaman ka na, dun pa lang pala nagsisimula ang hirap.
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko kapag nagtrabaho ka na at sumasahod makakaipon ka na ng pera, wala din palang natitira sa sahod.   
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko lahat ng taong nakapag-aral ay disente, hindi pala lahat.
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko pagkatapos ng hirap ay ginhawa, may mga tao pala na hindi nakakatikim ng ginhawa sa buong buhay nila.
Ø  Nung bata ako akala ko lahat ng namamatay napupunta sa langit at nagiging angels, WALA PALANG NAKAKAALAM kung saan tayo pupunta pag namatay tayo.. Sa heaven? Sino may sabi? Sigurado siya?

Ang dami ko palang maling akala nung bata ako. Pero bakit ganun, nung naitama yung mga maling akala ko biglang lumungkot yung mundo. Ibig kayang sabihin mas maganda pa na mali na lang ang akala?

Ø  When I was young, I thought sandwiches were Christmas treats, I realized later that they are just snacks.
Ø  When I was young, I thought family size coke is bought only when there are visitors or if there’s a birthday celebration, I realized later that anybody with money can buy it anytime.
Ø  When I was young, I thought ‘soup’ is a holiday treat, I realized later that it is usually prepared for sick people.
Ø  When I was young, I thought ‘adobong manok’(chicken cooked in soy sauce and vinegar) is the most delicious and most expensive food in the world, I realized later that there are more delicious food than that.
Ø  When I was young, I thought after the Holy Week come the town fiesta, I realized later that not all towns have fiestas and not all places observe the Holy week.
Ø  When I was young, I thought Jollibee is only for wealthy people, I realized later that some wealthy people prefer other diners and restaurants over Jollibee.
Ø  When I was young, I thought honor students are guaranteed bright futures, I realized later that if you find a rich spouse it doesn’t matter whether you know the difference between ‘fast’ and ‘fastly’ you surely will have a bright future. (By the way, do you know the difference between ‘fast’ and ‘fastly’? Oops, don’t bother, ‘fastly’ is not grammatically correct. Try typing it on Microsoft Word, it will be underlined.
Ø  When I was young, I thought you will get rich after you graduate from college, I realized later that graduation is only the beginning of a hard and laborious life.
Ø  When I was young, I thought you will finally save money from your salary when you start working, I realized later that salary is only for bills and basic needs, no more leftover for you to save.
Ø  When I was young, I thought all educated people are decent, I realized later that some of them are not.
Ø  When I was young, I thought better days come after grim and difficult ones, I realized later that there are unfortunate people who never experience better days in their lives.
Ø  When I was young, I thought people go to heaven and become angels when they die, I realized later that NO ONE REALLY KNOWS. (Heaven? Said who? How can he be so sure?)

I realize now that I have so many childhood misconceptions. But why is it that when those misconceptions were straightened and cleared out, the world seems to become a sadder and grimmer place to live? Would it have been better to live with those misconceptions? 

Rare Love

If there is something about myself in the love department, it’s that I hold back. I reserve my love for a very few people, for my family most of all, my extended family and very few selected friends. But when I love a person, I love that person forever.
So, in a way, I seem to be cold and heartless. I’m not the sweety-sweety and cuddly-cuddly giving love notes kind of lover. I only cuddle my own children and the sweetest gesture I do with my husband in public is hold his hand. I don’t throw away big parties for my children and birthdays is a private occasion celebrated only with family. I don’t PM my friends in Facebook nor I post quotes and status to tell people how much love I have and how much love I can give.
But the few people I love hold my highest regard. I keep them in the most private corner of my heart and I always make myself available for them any time they need me.
Maybe I could say I rarely love, but I truly love. And it’s love in the real sense of the word..

March 28, 2015

The Legacy of the Tailor of San Agustin

Bernardo is a tailor. He has lived in San Agustin all his life. Because they are very poor, he never got to study like other children. As soon as he learned to read and write a little and do his numbers, he didn’t go back to school but instead learned to sew men’s clothing particularly pants and jackets.
Bernardo, however, compensates his lack of education with outstanding work values. Whatever he accepts, he finishes. Regardless of his customer’s age, station in life or political orientation, he gives his services without prejudice. He starts working at the crack of dawn and goes to sleep at the dead of night.
But despite Bernardo’s passion for his work, other people look down on him. The only woman who agreed to live with him had no other attractive options. But Bernardo didn’t take notice, or he did, but chose not to mind. He has a job and a family. What more could a man possibly ask for?
So, Bernardo grew old doing what he did best, sewing clothes. He had three children who were devoted to him. Though simple minded Bernardo didn’t really understand the importance of education, he sent them to school. But education was more expensive than Bernardo assumed. So, day and night, he labored. Whatever discomfort he was feeling, he ignored. He had to work to feed his family and to send his children to school.
His eldest was already in fourth year college when Bernardo got sick. He got really sick that he could no longer work. So, his eldest daughter stopped studying and found work to help her siblings. he second daughter was in fourth college when Bernardo died. He never got the chance to see his children finish school. But he was happy to leave them knowing he did his best for them. And his love words for them was ‘Love and help each other..’
A few months after Bernardo died, his second daughter graduated from college. Then, a few years after that, the eldest daughter graduated from college as well. Together, the two sisters struggled to send their brother to school. It took them longer but eventually, Bernardo’s youngest child made it through college.
Several years after Bernardo’s death, his children, none of them sew clothes, have lives of their own. They are known to be among the best workers in San Agustin. Because, simple and lacking in education as he was, Bernardo taught his children a very important lesson, passion for work. Though he never knew it, Bernardo showed and taught his children the value of determination and the importance of professionalism.
He may not be highly educated. He wasn’t good with words. He wasn’t articulate nor was he adept in pen, but Bernardo lived more fully than others, because you don’t have to be extraordinarily smart, highly educated nor extremely popular to make a change. You can be as simple and meek as Bernardo who spent all his life doing what he did best.

(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

March 27, 2015

A Memory: Andoy, the Ice Cream Vendor

Andoy* was a local guy. He was an ice cream vendor who goes around our town pushing his ice cream cart and ringing a bell to attract customers. I was one of his regulars when I was in grade school. Physically, Andoy was not what I considered good looking. What more, he didn't even look neat. He had long hair, long fingernails and dusty feet. Thinking about it now makes me want to throw up all the ice cream I bought from him, lol! Well don't get me wrong, he is a nice guy, only with a not so nice physical appearance. What made him our friend was the fact that we were his regular customers and he was ours in our billiard hall, and he normally spends some time in our place when the day gets too hot for him to push his ice cream cart.
One morning, I was woken by the unusual clamor in our usually noisy billiard hall. I got up and checked out what's the matter.  It seems like the extraordinarily beautiful daughter of a grocer in our town ran away with Andoy. What?? Yes, my father answered, Lea* ran away with Andoy. I couldn't believe it. Lea was only about 18 years old. She was a former beauty queen in high school and the constant Reyna Elena in the yearly Santacruzan. How could she fall for Andoy? Smiling, my father answered, love is blind.
After  a while, the outrageous news became history, Andoy and Lea got married and everything went back to normal. Normal as in, Andoy went back to selling ice cream, but instead of the easy-go-lucky guy we used to know, he became irritable and complained about his young and very jealous wife. How could someone that beautiful be very jealous? What was there to be jealous about? Well, maybe Andoy was just bragging. But as if to confirm the guy's authentic tale, a teen age boy came to us running and said..
'Andoy, Lea has been looking for you everywhere! She is so mad. She's right behind me..'
With the speed of lightning, Andoy hid in the comfort room (which was not comforting at all) provided for our regular customers. But as soon as he was out of our sight, the beautiful Lea became visible to us and she sure was mad. She came directly at us and asked for his husband. No one spoke. So, she asked again, this time in a louder voice, 'Where is Andoy?!'
One of the players answered in a casual tone.. 'He's not here. Maybe he went somewhere in Mabini..'
Red with anger, Lea faced the player and said 'He's not here? He's NOT HERE?? Then how did his ice cream cart get here?' then in a louder and angrier voice'Andoy! I know you're here, come out you filthy animal or I'll tear this place apart!!'
Did Andoy come out? But of course.. What choice did he have?
 *Not real names

March 26, 2015

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

This story actually happened about fifteen years ago, when being an unwed mother was still taboo.
As an emancipated woman, I’ve never been bothered to be an unwed mother. For me, it was either people, a guy in particular, accept me or not. But though I was never ashamed of my situation at the time, I wasn’t proud that my integrity was somehow.. questionable. So, my being an unwed mother was kind of personal and only close friends knew about it.
So, on my first formal job as an administrative clerk in a big supermarket, nobody knew that I had a child. Since I was technically single, guys were drawn to me. One guy in particular actually asked me out on a date. Since I was available, in the real sense of word, I went out with him.
Just like the usual first dates, the guy was trying to sell himself out to me. Well, I got that. Naturally, he was trying to impress me as best as he could until I gave him the ultimate test. I told him that I had a child about three years old and that I was raising her all by myself.
He tried really really hard to appear interested.
He never asked me out again. Was I surprised? NOT AT ALL…

March 25, 2015

Mang Nardo and His Creaky Bicycle

In the summer of their second year in college, Paul went with his friend Carlo to spend the summer vacation in the province. Though the trip was a long and tiring one, the view outside the bus and the friendly people inside the jeepney made it all up. Exhausted but happy, Paul slept soundly.
In the morning, Paul got up excited about what the new day would bring. He shook Carlo and urged him to get up.
What time is it?” asked Carlo
Seven, I guess…”
Have you seen an old man riding an old bike?”
Hmmm… Nope”
Well, then, it’s still early, go back to bed..”
After a few minutes, Paul saw from the window an old man riding an equally old and creaky bicycle. As he passed by, the old man waved at him and he waved back.
Later, Paul learned that the old man was Mang Nardo. Carlo said that Mang Nardo has been biking around the town every morning for as long as he could remember. The old man passed by their house at exactly 7 o’clock in the morning, how he managed to that, no one knew. Mang Nardo, old as he was drags his old bike from the side of his house every day on fine days. People in town would know what time it was when Mang Nardo passed by. So, they know if they are running late or got up very early, or if the day is fine enough to go out, because Mang Nardo don’t go out when it rains.
So, the people in town depended on Mang Nardo’s bike to prepare for school, to do household chores, to get dressed for church or even to feed the baby. How an ordinary old man could play such an important role in a entire town, Paul could not comprehend.
Then, on Paul’s second visit to Carlo’s province, the mayor died. The town mourned for their beloved mayor and gave him an honorable funeral. He was succeeded by the vice mayor and the town moved on. As it used to, the town went in with its usual activities.
But one day, Mang Nardo’s bike wasn’t seen for the entire day. Several people were late for work, breakfasts weren’t cooked and errands were done late. They learned later that Mang Nardo fell sick and remained sick. The townspeople, felt panicky, Mang Nardo became a vital part of their everyday lives that his not showing up in the morning seems like a disruption of their routine. Every day, visitors come over to Mang Nardo’s house. Everybody asks for his condition. Some even send him food to eat. But it seems like Mand Nardo has already lived a fruitful and meaningful life.
After a few more weeks, Mang Nardo died. The entire town mourned for him. Then Paul finally understood. Mang Nardo, though only an ordinary old man was a part of everybody’s life. He didn’t need to hold a high position in politics, nor to be a member of a religious organization not even a member of the academe to play a role in society and influence others. He was just himself, an old man riding an old and creaky bicycle around town at a specific time of the day.
(Original story by the blog author, any similarity with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

March 24, 2015

The Costume

This is a re-post. It originally appeared on another blog on Apr. 10, 2011. It is re-posted for sentimental reasons.
I saw some boys hanging around at the activity center of SM Fairview one time. Just like every other person in SM that time, they seemed to be waiting for TALENTADONG PINOY, which was going to be held there, to start. One of them held, what appeared to me, the costume he was going to wear.
Hmmm.. COSTUME. It reminds me of one time in grade school, I think I was in grade 4 that time. We were going to have a play in school and our teacher was selecting students who will perform. Very much confident that I can memorize the script, I raised my hand to volunteer. But our teacher seemed not no notice me, so I raised my hand even higher. This time, it was not missed. The teacher looked at me and said in her soft but ruthless voice..
'You can't join the play, I know you can't afford the costume..'
The fact that our poverty was evident in the entire town couldn't be digested by my young heart at the time. I was simply disappointed that I couldn't join the play. Being poor is bad enough, being known to be poor is even worse. Being discriminated for that fact was, for me, the worst.
I watched the play. The lead character messed up. She forgot her lines... I expected that. She may be pretty and nicely dressed, but she was DUMB. I knew her. She was my seat mate..

March 23, 2015

Love for Self

Learning to love yourself. It is the greatest love of all….’
Well.. I don’t know, but I simply can’t wholeheartedly agree to that song. As what the scripture says:
There’s no greater love than this, that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.” (John 15:13)
I know of someone who never loved anyone besides himself. It has always been he, him and his. He only works to live but never shared his earnings with anyone. It seems like other people have the obligation to feed him and see through his needs. He never shared what he had. Whatever he has is his alone, but he feels free to utilize or consume someone else’s.
He grew old depending on other people. He never worked for anyone because he was too proud to accept directives but was too lazy to save money to put up his own, even very small, business. He only works when he feels like it, not considering the bills that pile up and which he doesn’t share a single cent to.
He left his family because he feels that his wife defies him and looks down on him. He never would understand that that was maybe so because he never gave her any reason to regard him highly. Well, I don’t know, but I feel sorry for that person because he will never know the real meaning of love.

March 22, 2015

Three Wishes

Paulo was unhappy. He left the house very early in the morning of Christmas day. He rode his bike and drove on top speed to the park. Once there, he drove slowly and aimlessly. There were very few people today. The residents of the subdivision were probably off to the mall to celebrate Christmas.
Suddenly, Paulo felt sad. Contrary to what he had been feeling earlier yesterday, he was in a sour mood. He was very disappointed with his father. Paulo got off and walked his bike while looking for something to sit on. He saw a pale boy sitting on a bench under a tree. The boy looked friendly enough, so Paulo approached him.
Hi! May I sit with you?” Paulo asked.
Sure..” the pale boy answered in a feeble voice.
Paulo sat but said nothing. The pale boy seemed to prefer to be quiet as well. Paulo started to get curious but he felt that the boy wasn’t going to say anything so he tried to start a conversation.
My name is Paulo, what’s yours?”
Dennis..” the boy answered and smiled.
Paulo was about to speak again when another boy approached. The new arrival wasn’t really dirty but he wasn’t really clean either. And of the three of them, he was the one wearing the boyish expression appropriate for his age.
Happy New Year..” he greeted as he neared.
Happy New Year..” Dennis replied.
The new boy circled the bench apparently looking for something.
What are you looking for?” Paulo asked, naturally curious.
Plastic cup, paper bag, tin can, soda bottle.. anything..” answered the boy without looking at them.
“You mean… trash?” asked Paulo.
The boy threw him a hurt look and spoke sharply.
“For you, maybe, because you are rich. But for us.. trash is lunch..” answered the boy defensively.
“You eat trash?!” Paulo asked horrified.
The boy’s expression changed from hurt to angry..
“We might be poor, but we don’t eat dirt..” he said with his fist clenched.
“But you just said…” started Paulo..
“What he means is.. he is looking for something, anything, he could sell, then, he would buy himself some lunch with the money..” explained Dennis with patience beyond his years.
“Not just for myself but for my sister…” added the boy, the trace of anger starting to disappear from his face.
“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to make you mad. I’m Paulo, by the way, and this is Dennis..”
I’m Billy..” the boy answered..
“So, is it true? You sell trash.. I mean plastic and paper so you would have something to eat for lunch?” asked Paulo, who, again, could not contain his curiosity.
Usually.. Too bad there’s not much today. Why are you up here so early, by the way? I come here everyday at this hour but this is the first time there’s someone here before me…” asked Billy.
I don’t know about him.. “ Paulo pointed at Dennis.. “but I’m upset with my parents that’s why I came here..”
“I needed air..” Dennis explained briefly.
You came all the way here to get some air?” Billy asked incredulously. ”Isn’t air everywhere? Why did you need to come here? And you?” Billy pointed his chin at Paulo without waiting for Dennis to reply.. “what were you upset about your parents for? Aren’t parents supposed to make everything alright for kids?”
They didn’t get me my wish for Christmas. That’s what…” 
Billy sat down beside Paulo…
So, you have a Christmas wish? What was it?” Billy asked with sincere interest in his eyes.
Yes.. what was it?” echoed Dennis just as interested as Billy.
I wanted a new DS Nintendo for Christmas because my PSP has gone old but my parents got me an x-box. An x-box!! How am I supposed to take it anywhere I go?” exclaimed Paulo.
A toy? You wanted a toy for Christmas? And you were upset with your parents because they got you something you couldn’t take anywhere?” Billy shook his head. “Do you want to know my Christmas wish?”
“What??” asked Paulo and Dennis in unison.
I wish that my father would find a job and my mother would get well, she’s been sick for a long time now. So, it’s up to me and my sister to find ourselves some food. Every morning, I get up and look for something, anything I could sell so I could buy me and my sister some food and my mother some medicine…”
Paulo suddenly felt ashamed. He wanted a toy while Billy and his sister wanted some food..
How about you? What was your Christmas wish?” Billy asked Dennis.
Dennis smiled and answered…
“Time for what?” asked Paulo.
To live… “
Paulo stared at Dennis trying to fathom what the pale boy meant by his wish..
You mean.. you’re dying?” said Billy. He couldn’t believe that such a young person would be dying anytime soon.
Yes.” Dennis answered very briefly. “So, what games do you have in your x-box?”
Then, the three boys talked about games and toys until Dennis’ father came to take him home. Paulo, Dennis and Billy agreed to meet again on New Year’s Day. But Dennis didn’t make it. He was rushed to the hospital and he wasn’t expected to live much longer. His father explained as he handed each boy a bag on New Year’s day.
In Billy’s bag, he found a whole roasted chicken and two pairs of clothes, one for him and one for Nica and a calling card with a note at the back to call Dennis’ father if Billy’s father still needs a job.
In Paulo’s bag was Dennis’ slightly used DS Nintendo with a note ‘to remember me by’.
Dennis’ wish may not have come true but he made sure that his friends’ wishes have.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise are purely incidental.)

March 21, 2015

A Good Deed for A Good Deed

Growing up in the province during the 80s have some derogatory effects when it comes to technological issues. My brother and I grew up not knowing how to use the telephone. My sister, Liz, being the oldest had the honor of being brought to Manila by our aunt and so was more familiar with those innovations. She played the ATARI when it was still the hottest toy, my brother and I learned about it right before it was phased out.
The only thing we had in the house that time was an old NATIONAL black and white television set and an old player where my father used to play The Platters and The Four Aces. We were lucky. Some made use of old transistors to listen to the afternoon drama (Matudnila) as a form of entertainment.
Being nice kids (I guess), we were always invited by our well-to-do neighbors, the Apostols and the Gamboas, to watch Betamax with them early at night. So, our mother would let us eat supper early so we can go. And there we were, at the farthest corner of the big house, quiet as mice and thankful for being invited to watch 'The Never Ending Story,' 'Starwars,' 'Tom and Jerry Classics,' 'Wanted Pamilya Banal,' 'Bukas Luluhod and Mga Tala,' 'Bagets 1 & 2' and a lot lot more. At the end of each film, we would get up from our corner and thank our very kind neighbors and leave as quietly as we could after making sure that we didn't leave any trash or smudge their sofa with our dirty fingers. It went on for years.
In the early 90s, things have changed. We were then able to acquire our own VHS player long before the others in town did. Extending the same kindness we received from our neighbors, we also invited some kids in the neighborhood to watch movies with us. But these kids were different. They were noisy and reckless. They left candy wrappers and stuck them in our sofa. They didn't even thank us when the movie was over.
But we still invited them in the succeeding events. Maybe things were really like that. Maybe kids have really changed. Maybe we invited the wrong kids.  Or maybe it's generation gap. But whatever it was, one thing is for sure, a good deed can only be paid with another good deed..

March 20, 2015

Right Intention, Wrong Way

Among the five friends, Gina* was the only one who didn’t have a boyfriend yet. So, when she finally introduced Dan*, her friends were not only delighted but also excited. But the excitement didn’t extend to Penny* who sensed something about Dan and told so to the rest of the friends. The other girls, however, were so happy abut Gina’s newfound relationship that they just accepted it.
To prove her point, Penny started to get friendly with Dan. As she expected, he took the bait. He began to be more friendly with Penny and even flirted with her shamelessly. But as soon as Penny noticed it, she kept her distance. After all, she already proved she was right.
But Dan was smarter than Penny took him for. By the time she was about to tell Gina the truth, her friend was already fed with a seduction story by Dan. Gina was hurt, but Penny was even more so. If Gina couldn’t believe her friend would try to steal her boyfriend,  Penny couldn’t accept that Gina thought very little of her.
The parting was difficult. But what followed was downright painful, because after a few months, Dan dumped Gina for a new and younger girl. .
*not real name

March 19, 2015

Mr. Vasquez and His Driver

Mr. Vasquez is the owner and president of a highly successful shoe company in the country. He is a cunning businessman and a strict employer. Only the best can make it to his payroll and he hires and fires employees when and if he sees fit. His time is gold and his word is law. But though he is not the kindest nor the nicest man to work for, his employees stay because he keeps them fairly compensated.
Among his most faithful and trusted employees is Mang  Nardo, his driver of 10 years.  First and foremost, Mang Nardo is punctual. He does his job without questions and without complaints and that’s how Mr. Vasquez wants it.
One stormy morning, Mr. Vasquez and Mang Nardo were rushed to the nearest hospital. They had an accident on the road. Aside from a broken arm and several cuts and bruises, Mr. Vasquez was fine. Mang Nardo, who avoided a skidding motorcycle and at the same time tried to protect his employer, however, received more severe injuries. He was comatose.
Mr. Vasquez made sure his driver got the best medical attention. While in the hospital, Mr. Vasquez saw Mang Nardo’s wife and children taking turns in keeping watch. His wife and daughter, however, were busy. They have their own branches of the company to manage and as soon as they learned that he was safe, they simply promised to send a car to bring him home.
On their third day in the hospital, some of Mr. Vasquez’s employees came over, but not to visit him, but to check on Mang Nardo’s condition. They had with them a paper bag of food for Mang Nardo’s family and an envelope with money. It was a contribution of all the employees who are all Mang Nardo’s friends. Unaware that Mr. Vasquez would pay the driver’s hospitalization bill, Mang Nardo’s co-workers donated money to help out.
Every day since the accident, Mang Nardo had visitors. It seems like the driver, poor as he is, is very rich in love and friendship. On the seventh day, Mr. Vasquez received a call from the hospital, Mang Nardo was Finally, after two weeks, Mang Nardo woke up.
Mr. Vasquez dropped by in his driver’s hospital room and was surprised to find all of his employees there. There were food and gifts on the table. Mang Nardo, still weak and pale, was smiling and on his face was genuine gratitude of a friend to another friend.
Everybody froze when Mr. Vasquez entered the room. Nobody even thought to ask how he was, they were either too intimidated or simply didn’t care about him. Probably out of habit, Mr. Vasquez’s secretary poured a glass of soft drink and handed it to him. Mr. Vasquez accepted the glass but felt very very awkward.
In the midst of genuine affection and demonstration of camaraderie, he felt the odd one out. He didn’t belong here. He was an intruder, an uninvited guest. They put up with him only because he is their employer, nothing more, nothing less.
He looked at Mang Nardo and he thought how easy it was for the driver to get along with everybody. And for the first time in his life, Mr. Vasquez asked himself if there is someone, anyone, who cares about him the way these people care about Mang Nardo. He wasn’t sure.
Mr. Vasquez finished his drink. He shook Mang Nardo’s hand and bid everybody goodbye. He walked out of the hospital and felt a heaviness in his heart that he didn’t know to be envy.
 (Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

March 17, 2015

Self Discovery

My friend Lyna* has been having trouble with her marriage for the past five years. Despite our advice to let go, she was still trying to save the marriage though the evidence that her husband has been cheating on her has been piling up.
But based on what she told me, her husband seems to be pushing her away and there was no indication that he wanted any reconciliation. Her husband believed himself blameless and everything was all Lyna’s fault.
As a friend, I couldn’t accept that. Lyna is a smart girl. She has always been. She was among those who excel in our class and she was quite popular in our school. When she married her husband, however, Lyna has changed. She started to depend on him so much she couldn’t even decide which appliances to buy. But seeing that she was happy with it, I held my peace until she told me about her suspicion that her husband has another woman.
Still, Lyna hoped and worked hard to save the happy marriage she once had. But a few months ago, she finally muster the courage to ask her husband whether he still loves her or not, he didn’t say ‘yes’ and he even told her that it was she who hurt him with her suspicions.
After crying for a week. Lyna realized she’d rather make the most of what’s left, her kids. But this time, she won’t keep quiet. After all, she has a say in the matter, whatever that is. She began to say ‘no’ to her husband, she started to do what she wanted to do and not what her husband wanted and most importantly, she began to confront her husband about everything pertaining to their life together like his salary, which she didn’t know how much until now.
Her husband was shocked, so shocked he couldn’t speak. For the first time, he met the real Lyna which he belittled and mistreated. Well.. how wrong can he be..
*not real name