April 30, 2015

The Fiesta

In the barrio of Ramones, the feast of the patron saint is held after the harvest season. Originally, the feast is the celebration for a good and bountiful harvest. It was a tradition that the people have followed through the years. The people give a part of their produce as a gesture of gratitude to the patron saint. The more they made that season the more they give away. The accumulated donations were distributed to the less fortunate citizens who made very little if at all.
 Unlike other barrios which offer the produce at the foot of their patron saint in the middle of the town plaza, the people of Ramones gather theirs by putting a basket full of produce in front of their houses to be collected by someone assigned by the elders and to be distributed to other families the next day. The people believed that their generous and miraculous patron saint is pleased with what with they do because they continue to enjoy the bounty of their land.
Time passed and the elders died one by one leaving the younger people of Ramones to continue their tradition. But as the younger ones married people from other barrios, the tradition has begun to be modified. The simple wooden statue of the patron saint was dressed in purple and golden robe. From the plaza, it was housed in a glass case inside the church where only the churchgoers would see it. It was polished to perfection and was kept like an expensive doll.
Every harvest season,  those who made much would spend much. But unlike the olden times, they don't share them to the poor, instead, they consume what they can and the rest would go to waste. For them, the fiesta was a time to celebrate, and how else to celebrate but to prepare a lot of food and drink a lot of liqour. They engaged to merry-making, eating, drinking, singing and dancing with no concern to the work they needed to do the next day.
Meanwhile, the less fortunate people would hound the stores for loans. For some reasons, they believed they had to prepare something for the fiesta in the misguided belief that they had to appease the patron saint to give them good harvest next year. They would spend every cent they have to prepare something to eat and drink. Consequently, they end up deeper in debt than before.
 Housed in its glass case inside the quiet and deserted church, the patron saint stood immobile. Its wooden arms raised in a sign of peace and its open eyes unseeing.
 A week before the harvest season, a strong and catastrophic storm razed the barrio of Ramones. For hours, the wind have swept everything in its way leaving deathly scenes of profound loss and grief, roofless houses, uprooted trees, drowned animals and destroyed crops. The people were in agony. 'Has their patron saint deserted them? Have they displeased him in any way?'
As one, they went to chuch and found a shocking scene. The church roof fell and crashed onto the glass case housing the statue. With its purple and golden robe in tatters and its surface dirty and rough, the patron saint was fine. Its arms were raised into the heavens as if in gratitude to God for delivering every single citizen of Ramones from death.
The people were humbled. They knelt down in prayer thanking the Lord for keeping them safe and asking Him to help them get through this terrible time.
 That afternoon, the people of Ramones moved in unison. They grouped themselves into committees assigned to various tasks of cleaning the barrio, gathering animals, fixing roofs and posts and preparing food. They gathered all the food they have left and distributed among themselves so that everyone would eat. And for the first time after so many years, they had a real fiesta. They finally realized the significance of their tradition and finally lived according to the belief of their barrio.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

April 29, 2015

The Woman on P. Florentino

When my sister Liz and I were in college, we used to live in a boarding house at the corner of M. dela Fuente and P. Florentino Sts. in Sampaloc, Manila.
Along P. Florentino St. roamed a woman dressed in rags. She must be in her mid 40s at the time. During the day, she walked along the street just like a typical beggar. During midnight, she cried and screamed and called her children’s names. In my first night at the boarding house, I didn’t sleep at all. I asked my landlady what it was about. I learned that the woman, let’s name her Bebe, was a teacher. For some reasons, her marriage didn’t work out so she and her husband filed for a legal separation where she won full custody of her 3 children.
In consideration for her parents-in-law, however, she allowed her ex-husband to take the kids out every once in a while and it seems like the man deserved her consideration and for 2 years, the arrangement went on and everybody appeared to be happy about it.
One particular Sunday, however, her kids weren’t returned to her and SHE NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN. Rumors had it that during the time that Bebe let her ex-husband take the kids out, the man’s family was making arrangements for the kids to be taken to the United States and for 2 years, they were able to provide the necessary papers required for the children to leave the country.
Bebe was devastated. The pain of losing her kids and the realization of being outwitted by the people she gave so much consideration, drove her to the brink of her sanity until she finally let go of reality.
Day after day, Bebe roamed the streets of Sampaloc looking for her lost children, and night after night, she called them by their names. I even heard her singing an off-key lullaby.
I couldn’t believe it, but I got used to Bebe. But every time I imagine that I understood her, I realize that I don’t and I guess I never will.. How would you feel if you are robbed of your reasons for living?

April 28, 2015

Love Stands to Reason

Twenty four years ago, I had the opportunity to sing with a great singer at the church choir. This guy, Fred* was a consistent winner in singing competitions and compared to him, we were small fries. So, why he even joined the choir was a mystery to us. But a mystery soon to be uncovered.. only to me.
It couldn’t have been obvious because Fred was a very reserved person. He usually kept only to himself. So, I was probably just.. perceptive. For some reasons, I always caught him staring at one particular choir member, Jenny*, so I joked him about it. But when he turned red all over, I knew I hit on something.
So, that was the reason. He joined the choir because he liked Jenny. He made me promise never to tell anyone, and of course, I did promise, after all, it was his secret not mine, therefore, it was for him to tell not me, right?
Jenny, whom we called ‘Tiffany’ (Fred thought her voice was like that of the 80s singer Tiffany’s) was pretty, smart, popular and sweet. No wonder Fred went an extra mile to be with her. But Fred was also aware that he had a very slim chance, if he had any chance at all, of winning Jenny’s heart. He was not good looking, he was poor (not poor as in pitiful but literally poor, without money, that’s why he always joined singing contests) and he was in the last section which means, he wasn’t smart, under ordinary standards. Still, he wrote her a very romantic letter to tell her how he felt. Out of curiosity, I asked him why he did that, when he knew he didn’t stand a chance. And he said he liked Jenny so much it was killing him unless he expressed it. And he certainly did. Well.. I understood that much.
But after a few months, he asked Jenny what she felt about him. This time, I felt a little embarrassed for him. Why would he ask Jenny when he knew it was impossible for her to like him back. But he said, he had to know, he had to hear it from Jenny.
Wow! This guy had some guts. And in fairness to Jenny, she had been very.. polite in turning down Fred. She said she was grateful and flattered for Fred’s affection, in fact she liked Fred, but only as a friend, and as if an afterthought, she said she already liked someone else, as in romantically.
Fred took it.. valiantly. He still joined choir practice, he talked to us as if nothing (painful) happened, only I was able to see through him and felt the sadness in his eyes. But when Jenny and the star volleyball player of our school were rumored to be going out, Fred dropped the pretense. He left the choir and didn’t come near us again.
Ten years after that, I could still see Fred wearing a customized shirt with ‘Tiffany’ printed at the front and the title of Tiffany’s song at the back. It didn’t look like an old shirt, in fact, it seems freshly printed, so, I had to believe he still held Jenny at high regard.
Fred didn’t know it and wouldn’t know it, but I learned a lot about love from him, love is kind, and patient, and brave, love accepts that which is true, love doesn’t enforce itself to someone and love stands to reason, among others..
 *not real names

April 27, 2015

The Strong and Powerful Mayor

Once there was a strong and powerful mayor in the town of Sagana. He was a big man with long and powerful limbs. His arms were heavily muscled and his legs were thick and hard. His voice boomed when he spoke. His eyes were sharp and clear. His ears heard everything. He was one scary mayor.
So, the mayor was able to do anything he wanted. He knew he was strong and powerful and that people were scared of him. For years, he enjoyed his power. No one had the courage to contradict the mayor in any way. Consequently, he became abusive. He bought land for unreasonable price and he monopolized the buying and selling of crops. He became a very rich man. With his riches came more power.
The people were very sad. They were angry at the mayor but they couldn't do anything nor say anything against him. They just kept quiet, waiting unhappily and in deep silence.
One day, the mayor attended a wedding. At the reception, the mayor ate a lot of food. He was having the time of his life. He knew the people around hate him but he knew also that they couldn't do anything. He ate and drank and laughed and told stories while everyone around smiled or laughed forcibly with him.
Then, the mayor stopped talking. With his mouth open and his eyes glazed, he fell on the floor. Everyone stopped what he was doing. They looked at the mayor and waited. He wasn't getting up. Then, another visitor, a doctor, checked on the fallen man and shouted instructions.
A short while later, an ambulance carrying the mayor's body was speeding past to the hospital. The mayor had a massive stroke. He stayed in the hospital for months and when he was released, he was paralyzed.
The mayor, with his booming voice, could no longer speak nor could he move his thick and muscled arms and legs. He couldn't even eat on his own. He was reduced from a strong and powerful man to a pathetic vegetable.
The mayor's family hired a nurse to take care of him. Year after year, the mayor lived unable to do anything for himself. The nurse fed him, bathed him, dressed him and even washed him after he defecated. Eventually, the mayor's money diminished until it completely disappeared.
Decades had passed and the mayor who was more dead than alive for the past twenty years finally died an old and emaciated man. His being strong and powerful became a blurred memory in the minds of the people of Sagana who, in time, learned to forgive and pity the man who once cheated them and abused them just because he was strong and powerful.

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

April 26, 2015

The Saleslady in the Ring Stand

Before my eldest daughter graduated from high school, what she wanted as graduation gift was a RING. Since I know my daughter is not much into jewelry, I was happy to give her one.
I started looking around, and when I saw something to my liking, I asked the saleslady if I could see it up close. The girl was sincerely happy to assist me. I checked it out and felt that my daughter would absolutely love it. I asked for the price but when I was told, I realized that I didn’t have enough money. So, I gave the ring back to the girl whose expression went sour upon learning that I wouldn’t buy it after all. I explained that I didn’t have enough cash and that I would be back the next day. The girl simply gave me a fake smile.
As I was going home, I noticed that the line of people in the ATM was short. I took my chance and withdrew money so that I could buy the ring. I went back to the ring stand as soon as I got the money. As I got near it, I saw the saleslady with her back on me. She was talking with her co-worker about… ME.
She told her about shoppers who keep on saying they will come back when they really have no intention of doing so. She also mentioned shoppers who check on things but actually don’t have money, like the one who just left (referring to me), that they just want to try things on.
She almost fainted when I spoke behind her and said..
“I’m back, miss.. I’ll take the ring.”
Obviously, she knew that I heard her. So, all the time that we were doing the transaction, she was so pale, maybe due to embarrassment or I really scared her when I abruptly talked behind her.
I was somehow surprised that I didn’t feel offended. Probably because I know that what she said was somehow true. And looking at the girl’s pale face, I knew how uncomfortable she felt. So, I made my purchase as short as possible, thanked her and smiled sincerely at her, then left…

April 25, 2015

Great Expectations

What happens when you expect too much from love? You get disappointed.
Well, I guess expectations are all right. However, great expectations are not so. Believing that the person would never mean to hurt you and would only want what’s best for you and would stand by you when the going gets tough is faith. But expecting this person to change his nature and to surrender his privacy is unreasonable.
Generally, girls are more expressive than boys. A guy who goes through the pains of painting an entire house pink for his lady-love, or sprinkle petals of four dozen roses so his girl could walk her way through them, or exchanging his sneakers with his girlfriend’s killer high heels so she could walk comfortably, is only one out of a hundred, otherwise exists only in movies and soap operas. To expect your boyfriend to go over the edge for you seems to me self indulgence and has very little to do with love if at all. Though there really are exceptionally romantic guys, there are more who prefer to express their affection more simply and if you happen to be with a guy like that, then accept him for what he is and do not expect him to read you poetry, or give you a long-stemmed white rose.
And what’s with girlfriends knowing their boyfriends’ passwords? And checking on his text messages and call log? If your boyfriend wants to hide something from you, he will, with or without your checking on him. You’re just helping him hide his secret more efficiently.
I’m not being KJ. I just know a lot of guys and I had a lot of guy friends. I also had some encounters with romantic guys, and they really are, well…. romantic. You may meet some of them, or may not. But that doesn’t mean you’re not adorable. You just don’t come across them and you are hardly to blame for that.

April 24, 2015

The Most Beautiful Dress Part 2

(continued from The Most Beautiful Dress…)
Gabi ng Kabataan was the happiest in Belen’s life. Dressed in the beautiful white gown her mother, Linda, made for her, she felt like she was the most beautiful girl in Banitan. For her mother, she indeed was.  The two years she spent in making the dress was worth it. Belen deserves every single stitch of it.
But Belen’s loveliness was outshone by the arrival of Nica who wore the most expensive dress her mother found in another town. Mrs. Ramos, proud ofr both her daughter and the expensive dress, looked at Linda and stared her down. But Linda stood her ground and looked back. The two girls, however, were oblivious of their mothers nor the antagonism between them. They were both enjoying themselves, and regardless of their dresses, they surely would enjoy the night just the same.
Mrs. Ramos’ money and effort were rewarded when Nica’s was announced the Best Gown. As if she was the one who won, Mrs. Ramos waved at everyone and posed for pictures. But her elation was dampened when Belen was announced as the Star of the Night. Unlike Mrs. Ramos, Linda simply asked someone to take Belen’s picture for souvenir.
Finally, the celebration came to an end and Belen and Linda went home tired but happy and relieved. It was over. They learned shortly, however, that it wasn’t over yet. Not for Mrs. Ramos, at least. The rich woman came over to them and offered, yet again, to buy the dress from Linda. Linda was confused, the party was over, whatever Mrs. Ramos needed the dress for?
I want that dress…’
But by the look in Mrs. Ramos’ face, Linda felt that she didn’t simply want the dress. She wanted it destroyed. She wanted to buy it and destroy it. And Linda felt that Mrs. Ramos would hound her and offer her money until she wouldn’t be able to resist the amount and give in. But what would happen to the dress then? Linda thought carefully until she came up with a plan.
‘Okay, I’ll sell it to you…’ she answered but not regretfully.
Mrs. Ramos’ face shone with triumph..
But… I would make some alterations.’ continued Linda ‘Come to my house tomorrow and I’ll show you the changes I made. If you still want it, then, you can have it and for only half the price you offered.
That was good enough for Mrs. Ramos. Whatever changes Linda would do wouldn’t make any difference. She would destroy the dress anyway.
The following day, Mrs. Ramos arrived at Linda’s house with the money in her purse. She was met by Linda who offered her a seat.
Mrs. Ramos, anxious to get hold of the dress spoke right away..
So, where’s the dress?’
Are you sure you still want it?’ asked Linda.
'Yes… ‘
‘Very well, then… But before I hand it over to you, may I know what you plan to do with it?’
Mrs. Ramos, confident that she got what she wanted, again, bitterly smiled and answered..
I will destroy it..’
Linda didn’t show any expression but simply asked..
But why?’
‘I don’t want any reminder of my daughter’s loss..’
But she didn’t lose. Hers was the best gown of all which means what she wore was more beautiful than the one I made…’
If Belen wasn’t wearing your dress, she wouldn’t be the star of the night, Nica would…’
Linda looked at Mrs. Ramos and felt pity then called on to her daughter..
Belen, get the dress here for Mrs. Ramos to see…’
Mrs. Ramos smiled expectantly but her smile vanished when Belen showed up with a big box filled with balls and balls of white thread.
What happened? Where is the dress? You agreed to sell it to me…’
I said… I would make some alterations and I would sell it to you if you still want it after the changes I made…’
You… you destroyed it so I couldn’t buy it and destroy it myself..’
No. I didn’t destroy it. I changed it.. When we arrived here last night, I unwound it. I undid every single stitch I made then spun it into balls of thread which we have here now. If you still want, I would sell these balls to you. I’d use the money you would pay me to buy new balls of thread to make into a new and even more beautiful dress. I would use the leftover money to buy some food that would last us a few months. But, if you wouldn’t buy these, I would, again,  use them to make another and more beautiful dress. Either way, I get to keep the dress, Mrs. Ramos..’
'But you made it for two years.. You would spend another two years making a new dress?'
'No, I spent two years buying enough balls of thread. But making the dress took me only a week..' 
Mrs. Ramos couldn’t believe she was outsmarted by her laundrywoman..
‘Now, you decide Mrs. Ramos. would you buy these balls and let me have your money and make another dress or you don’t buy them and leave us alone and in peace?’
Mrs. Ramos couldn’t answer. Buying the balls would be pointless but not buying the balls would mean accepting defeat..
Maybe it’s about time you learn to accept that not everything can be bought, and not everything you want can be yours.. But not getting what you want doesn’t make you less of a person. So, you may leave now and let’s forget this ever happened…’
Mrs. Ramos stood up and without a word simply left…
(Original story by the blog author.Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

April 23, 2015

The Applicant

Sometime in the late 70s, a fresh graduate of Bachelor of Science in Education, Luna*, came home in the province. With her was her college diploma and her license from the Professional Regulatory Commission.
The first thing she did was submit an application to the only high school, a Catholic school, in our town. And to her felicity, she was scheduled for an interview with the school director, the current Parish Priest. So, she prepared. She was so excited that she slept very little. But her happiness was clouded with sadness and disappointment when she was greeted by a stormy morning. There was a typhoon.
As there was still no cell phone during that time, there was no way to notify the school that she couldn’t come. That left her no choice but to go on with the interview.
She fixed herself and dressed in business attire. Since there was no available tricycle because of the storm, Luna decided to walk amidst the raging wind and violent rain. After several minutes, she finally made it to the school. She went directly to the Parish house where the school director lives and takes office.
The moment the director admitted her in his office, the first thing Luna noticed was the shocked expression on his face. So, she hastily apologized for her pathetic appearance and ranted on about the awful typhoon and how she couldn’t find a way to let the director know she couldn’t come and since she wanted to keep her word and didn’t want to give a negative impression, she gathered all her courage and came for the interview instead.
What do you think happened?
Of course, she was accepted. In fact, she had been my teacher in high school. As what the school director said at the conclusion of the interview
“If you came over here despite the raging storm because you wanted to keep your word and that’s in addition to your impressive resume and transcript of records, then I do believe you will be an asset to this school..”
And she is..

April 22, 2015

No Reasons, No Bounds

Some people have fallen in and out of love more times than is healthful while other people thought they’ve been in love when they actually haven’t.
Love has its own reason.
So, no one can reason with love. If someone loves somebody because he is good looking, or smart or even kind, then that is a conditional kind of love. What if he loses his good looks in an accident, or screwed up due to some stupid mistake or became cantankerous because of sudden bout of illness?
We love a person not for what he is or what he can do. We love a person for what he makes us feel. Do our hearts flip with the sight of him? Do we feel a burning longing with his touch? Do we hear music when he laughs? Do we feel comforted by his presence alone? And most importantly, do we expect anything in return? Because true love never does. It is content with doing what will benefit our love the most. And when everything went wrong, we stay beside him no matter what and became the only thing left that is right.
Love has no bounds.
How far can we go for the one we love?
For as far as it takes. We don’t stop when the going gets tough nor do we doubt the rightness of our actions. It doesn’t really matter whether we do wrong or right, what it all boils down to is that it is right for the person we love even if it means pushing him up, pulling him down or letting him go.
So do we know of anyone, anyone at all, who loves someone that much?

April 21, 2015

The Most Beautiful Dress

The town of Banitan is in uproar. The town fiesta is in a few days time and all the people are busy with all the preparations. Among the busiest are Mrs. Ramos and her daughter Nica. They have been hunting the entire town of Banitan for the most beautiful dress to buy. As is tradition, the celebration of the town fiesta is held in the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday of May.
Friday night is Music Festival which is usually a singing contest for individuals, duets and groups, Saturday is Barangay Night where everybody can come for a night of dancing and Sunday is Gabi ng Kabataan where all the young people of Banitan are invited to a formal dance. The night is concluded with the awarding of the best gown and the star of the night. For the young people though, the awards meant nothing. All they want is to have fun with their friends.
On Friday, Mrs. Ramos is frantic. They didn’t find anything that satisfied her. Either it is was too long, or too short, too simple or too elaborate, too expensive or too cheap. Finally exhausted by the whole day of searching, she drove home. But as she was about to turn right, she saw from a window the most beautiful dress she’s ever seen in her life. Just by looking at it from a distance, she knew she got to have the dress for Nica. She got off her car and knocked at the house.
She was surprised when the door was opened by a familiar face. But the woman who opened the door was even more surprised to see her.
”Mrs. Ramos! Good evening. What brought you here?” greeted the woman sounding apprehensive to have such a distinguished visitor at such an unlikely hour.
"”Laura… I mean.. Linda? Isn’t it?” finally recognizing the woman who wash their clothes once a week.
“Yes, ma’am, it’s Linda…”
Oh, thank God, it’s you.. Well, I saw a beautiful dress from your window. I would like to buy it…” said Mrs. Ramos.
Linda seemed confused.
Dress? What dress? I’m not selling any dress….”
The white dress. I saw it from my car. And by the looks of it, I know it would fit my daughter, Nica…”
Oh, you mean THE DRESS.. “ Linda laughed a little after realizing what Mrs. Ramos was referring to. “I’m sorry but it isn’t for sale..”
What?? What do you mean it isn’t for sale? What are you going to do with it if you don’t sell it?”
Well… Just like you, I have a teenage daughter, too. I made that dress for my daughter Belen. She would wear it to the Gabi ng Kabataan…”
But… you’re a laundry woman.  You mean to tell me that you will let your daughter go to the same dance that my daughter will go to?” Mrs. Ramos couldn’t believe it.
Yes. In case you don’t know it, it is open to all the young people of Banitan including laundry women’s daughters..” replied Linda who got suddenly became serious.
Name your price. I’ll buy it. I want that dress for Nica..”
I already told you, it’s not for sale..”
But you can buy a lot of food with the money I would pay you. Come on, sell it to me. It’s just a dance after all, it would be done in just a few hours but the money will last you a while. You don’t need to let Belen go. Or, take my money and buy something simple and less expensive..”
No, Mrs. Ramos, I’m not selling. Take your money and buy a dress somewhere else..”
“You don’t understand… I want that dress…”
It’s you who don’t understand, Mrs. Ramos. It’s not for sale…”
Everything is for sale..”
Not that dress…”
Are you serious? You’re going to turn down a lot of money so your daughter could attend a dance that would only last for a few hours, and after that, what? You won’t have anything to eat the following day?”
Mrs. Ramos. Do you have any idea how long it took me to finish that dress?'”
Three days?”
Two years… For two years, I buy a ball of thread every time I earn extra money. I’ve bought balls after balls of thread until I finally had enough. Then, I started to crochet chain after chain, stitch after stitch until I’ve finished the entire dress. But it didn’t stop there. I bought beads and sequins from the tips I received from my clients and after a very tiring day, I sew bead after bead and sequin after sequin until I finally came up with the dress you saw from the window. The dress you wanted to buy. Don’t you see, Mrs. Ramos? It’s not the money. It’s the effort I put into that dress which I made for my daughter, so, she could wear it.”
But I want that dress…” Mrs. Ramos said adamantly…
Well, then, it’s about time you don’t get what you want..”
Mrs. Ramos looked at Linda and finally realized the other woman was serious about not selling.
Very well, then, keep the dress. But after the dance, you surely would regret turning down a lot of money..”
Wellthat’s no longer your problem, Mrs. Ramos..”
It’s not even that pretty anyway. I can buy something way way prettier than that..”
Good luck on that…”
Then, Mrs. Ramos left and Linda closed the door.
.. to be continued.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

April 20, 2015

A Memory: The Local Fair

Every year, one of the most awaited events in our town is the fiesta which is celebrated during the summer after the first onion harvest season. For kids like us, what we waited for most of all was the arrival of ‘perya’ the local town fair. And when it did, we had our best days.
One time, however, as my sister and I was having fun shooting coins on one of the game tables, we suddenly heard a commotion and in a very short while everybody was running around. My sister, Liz grabbed my wrist and we ran as fast as we could. Though we didn’t know what we were running away from, we didn’t stop, neither did we look back. Even when we could see the light in our billiard hall from a distance, we didn’t even slow down.
When we finally got home, my sister finally released my wrist and we sat down. Nobody spoke at first. Only when we realized that all of the billiard players including our father were staring at us with confused looks, we broke into a fit of laughter until we were both in tears. We told the story, rather, what little we knew about it, in between laughing bouts.
I never felt safer in our billiard hall than that particular moment.
Later, we learned that the cause of the commotion were two drunk men who pushed each other and fell over leading to a ‘domino effect.’ So, no one was chasing us after all :)

April 19, 2015

Another Pathetic Scene..

Imagine falling in love at 16. It was the time when you thought that your heart beats only for that person and you live for love and by love alone. It seems that your world will cease to exist when you get separated from your love. You can’t wait to get married and live with your love and start your life with him.
Now, imagine having that same young beating heart broken with dreams shattered and whole being numb with disillusion. It didn’t really matter whose fault it was. The pain was so overwhelming you wanted to shut everyone out of your life. The only way to bear the burden and keep on living was the hope that someday this person who hurt you would come crawling back to you. And you waited. And waited..
Time passed by and this person, indeed,  came back to you still as dashing as the first time you saw him. But his smile held no promise and his voice devoid of romantic notion but the casual tone of a long lost friend. But you were too overwhelmed you didn’t notice. So, there you were again, offering yourself like a lamb on a wreathed platter making it all too clear that you were expecting absolutely nothing in return. That you were giving all you have (again) for the plain and simple reason as, the mythical, unconditional love. This time, letting go was way way easier than the first time, because no expectations were set and no goodbyes were said, just parting of ways as conventional as see you when I see you.
Several more years passed and this same love came knocking at the door of your now quiet and contented heart. With the said heart steadied by pain accumulated over the years and matured by years fate had blessed you, you let this familiar stranger as you offer friendship for the sake of the classic old times, but only to find yourself as helpless and as besotted as your 16year old self who was ready to bare both heart and soul in the name of stupid, deceiving, scheming and ruthless love. But no amount of name calling would do, because in the end, you’re still the willing and pathetic victim of this concept known universally as love which very few people have found.
Not enlightening, but quite entertaining because almost everybody can relate to this tale which is as common as night and day.

April 18, 2015

The Dancer of Sta. Monica

Rosanna lives in Sta. Cecilia with her father Rolando. Her father is a Civil Engineer and at 45, he is still handsome and not very few women are dropping hints that they are available. But Rolando didn’t show interest in women, any woman.
Rosanna never knew her mother. Though she has always assumed she’s dead, she never really knew why she wasn’t with them. Nobody talked about her mother to her and Rosanna didn’t dare ask her father about her. Besides, after all these time, Rosanna already stopped caring. It never made any difference anyway if her mother was there or not. If your father is the best in the world, what would you need a mother for?
When she was young, she has always imagined what it feels like to have a mother who tucks her in bed and lulls her to sleep, who brushes her hair and ties it with pink ribbon. That was a long time ago. Now, at 23, Rosanna is a smart independent woman who doesn’t need another woman to take care of her.
One day, as she was cleaning the house during her off from work, she found her father’s wallet under his bed. Apparently, the wallet fell out of his pants pocket and down on the floor. As she picked up the wallet, something fell out of it. Rosanna was surprised to discover that it was an old picture of a beautiful girl. Who was the girl in the picture and what was this picture doing in his father’s wallet? What was more strange was that, the girl looks familiar. It seems like she saw the girl before. Rosanna turned the picture over and saw a legible inscription: ‘Anna, The Gazelles’. Rosanna gasped. The Gazelles? She’s heard that group before but she couldn’t remember where and when.
Rosanna looked at the picture one last time taking in all the details of the woman’s face. Then, she put it back inside her father’s wallet and put the wallet on his desk.
It took Rosanna the whole week before she finally remembered where she heard ‘The Gazelles’ before. It was the dance group she and her father watched in Sta. Monica a month after her graduation from college. Now, she remembers that woman. She was the one at the center of the group.
The following day, Rosanna went to Sta. Monica to the theater where the group regularly performs. It was probably her lucky day because the group was performing that night. Rosanna watched the woman ‘Anna’ very closely. She looks very familiar but she was positive that she’s never seen her before.
After the show, Rosanna went out to find Anna. Surprise was written all over the older woman’s face when they finally met, then, realization and after that anguish.
“Are you Anna?” asked Rosanna.
Yes.” came the feeble answer.
Then, Rosanna asked the most important question of all.
“Are you my mother?”
Anna couldn’t answer. She couldn’t speak..
I’m happy to see you…” Rosanna said as tears rolled down her cheek. She invited Anna for coffee and they talked for hours.
When Rosanna came home, her father was waiting for her. He knew she discovered her mother’s picture in his wallet and he knew she went out to see her mother.
How is she?” he asked.
She’s fine.. “
Good to know that.. “
She’s so pretty…”
Yes, she is…”
Father.. Why did she leave us?” Rosanna finally managed to ask.
She didn’t..”
What do you mean?”
She didn’t leave.. I sent her away..”
“But why?”
Because I love her..”
I don’t understand…”
Rosanna, your mother loves you very much, she loves us. But she wanted a different life, not the one we have. She’s always wanted to dance. She wanted it more than anything. But then, I made her fall in love with me. I know she tried.. But she was unhappy. And every day for two years, her unhappiness grew until I couldn’t take it anymore. I love her so much I couldn’t bear to see her like that. So, I sent her away…”
You thought of her.. But how about me? Did you ever think of me before you send her away? Of how I would grow up without a mother?”
I’d rather you grow up without a mother than be raised by someone deep in misery. Besides, the fact that you handled your meeting well means I did a good job with you. Didn’t I?”
Rosanna looked at her father with admiration in her eyes..
Why didn’t you stop me? How did you know I wouldn’t make a scene and embarrass her?”
I raised you with love, never with hate and bitterness.. Would you really embarrass your mother in front of everybody?”
I thought about it.. But when I saw her.. I felt so happy to see her. And I tried to feel for any hatred and bitterness in my heart and I felt none..”
She looks familiar, isn’t she?”
Oh yes, she is.. And I wonder about that. Have I seen her before?”
You haven’t.. But you see someone every day who looks exactly like her…”  and with that, Rolando guided Rosanna in front of the mirror and she saw her reflection.
Now she knows why the picture was so familiar. She looks just like her.
So, do you like to watch ‘The Gazelles’ next week?” asked Rolando.
I sure do. And maybe we should invite mother for dinner some time…..”
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)

April 17, 2015

A Piece of Paper

Winnie* is a gentle and quiet woman. She is very timid but hard working. She only had elementary education because she had to help her mother take care of her siblings. At 13 years old, she started going with her mother to do the laundry of well-to-do families in their place, and at 16 she was sent by her mother to a family in the city to work as a housemaid.
Winnie didn’t know any other life aside from what her mother introduced to her. Occasionally, she would be permitted to go home in the province to spend time with her family.
Some time in 2002, I was a visitor in their house. One afternoon, I was awoken from my nap by a worried voice. It was Winnie’s. I went out to check what the commotion was about. Beside Winnie’s was her youngest brother, Jack, with eyes swollen from weeping while in Winnie’s hand was a piece of paper I presume to be the reason of all of these. I asked her what it was so she handed it to me.
I looked at the paper and found out that it was a formal request for Jack’s FORM 137 from his former school. Before I was able to talk, Winnie started yelling at Jack asking what he did wrong in school. Jack answered ‘nothing’ and I’m sure it wasn’t the first time he said that. Winnie, unappeased, yelled louder
‘Then why did your teacher send us a letter!’
So, I interfered. I said that Jack didn’t do anything wrong then explained what the letter was about and what they were supposed to do about it. Winnie stopped yelling and Jack stopped crying and was finally allowed to play outside.
That was already 12 years ago. Why I couldn’t get over it, that I don’t know.
Sad, right? :(
*not real name

April 16, 2015

The Timetable

When I was in college, I met two law students. They have been sweethearts for five years at that time. They looked so good together that I believed that they’d end up in marriage.
Julia* was a sweet girl, smart and very compassionate and Dante* was goal oriented and organized. Julia believed in fate and chances and coincidences while Dante believed in planning, alternatives and schedules. When Julia was young, she wanted to be a princess, then a doctor, then a nun but decided on being a lawyer when she grew up. Dante, on the other hand, had his life mapped out when he was in high school. He would graduate from high school at 16, finish prelaw at 20, graduate from Law school at 24, pass the bar exam and become a lawyer at 25, work for the government for 2 years, get married and enter politics at 27 and be a congressman in the long run.
It was such a nicely, laid-out plan. And it seems like he was right on schedule. But when he failed the bar exam on his first take, we thought he would realize that a person’s life can never be planned out that neatly. He was, however, undaunted, he took the exam the following year and passed.
So, his career as a public servant began with the next goal in mind, to get married with another lawyer and pave his way to politics. But a person may plan for his life but he could never do that to someone else’s. Julia failed the bar on first take.. and on second.
Dante was running out of time. He had to get married with another lawyer at 27 years of age. So, when he met another lawyer at work, he broke up with Julia and married a woman he barely knew.
Beverly seems to be the perfect wife for Dante. She was pretty and smart. But she lacked Julia’s natural compassion and spontaneity. What more, he started to realize how warm hearted Julia was compared to Beverly. Consequently, he became distant from his wife who seemed to hardly notice.
Then, in one of their reunions, Dante came across Julia who, by then, already passed the bar and was a lawyer herself. As they talked, Dante thought of how perfect Julia would be as a politician’s wife. She was witty, attentive and naturally caring.
That night, Dante went home with a heavy heart. He looked back at his timetable which he dedicatedly followed and came out as the sad, discontented man he was.
 *not real names

April 15, 2015

The Smart Wife

Melchor was a son of a wealthy couple. His father was a hardworking and  honest businessman. He got his values from his father before him who had so much respect for people who work hard for their living. Melchor’s grandmother was a teacher, practical and thoughtful. Melchor, however, was raised by his superstitious mother who believed in charms, fortune telling and enchantments.
When Melchor was in college, his father was killed in a head-on collision. Though the result of the investigation confirmed that the driver of the other car was at fault, Melchor’s mother believed that the cause of her husband’s death was the broken mirror in their bathroom that early morning. According to Melchor’s mother, Father was shaving when he accidentally knocked down her facial mirror and it crashed on the floor. Mother, believing that broken mirrors bring bad luck, begged Father not to go, but he still did.
Since then, Melchor and his mother did not decide unless they consulted a fortune teller for their decisions. They filled their house with various stones, icons and  other items for luck. Melchor was not supposed to leave the house until they were sure it was safe for him to go out. He should not go out when a black cat passed by, when the neighbor’s dog howled last night, when something fell while he was preparing to leave and so on.
Because of that, Melchor missed several opportunities to save the business that his father left. Consequently, they sold the business and Melchor was forced to find employment. Since he was naturally smart and hardworking, it has been easy for him to find a job. But, because of his mother’s superstitious beliefs, he did not last long in every company that he worked for. He did not come for work every time something out of the ordinary happen, he quit a job because the color of the uniform was unlucky, or because the location of the building invites accidents.
Years passed and Melchor grew older and poorer. Then, he met a spontaneous girl, Annie, who found him smart and mysterious. It was the first time he and his mother had a disagreement. Mother did not approve of his girlfriend and she did not want to give them her blessing to get married.
But Melchor loved Annie. When he was with Annie, he felt that he could do anything. So, they got married resulting to a strained relationship with his mother which affected Melchor more than he expected. It became difficult for him to find a job. Melchor thought that he was being punished for disobeying his mother but Annie believed differently. She thought that Melchor was a wonderful, smart and hardworking man, but his guilt over his mother was written all over his face making him an unlikely candidate.
Annie knew by now that there was nothing wrong with Melchor, it was his attitude towards life which was influenced by his mother, that was wrong. She had to do something about it otherwise Melchor would never find a job at all.
One day, a small package was delivered to Melchor’s house, in it was a lucky pin. It was from his mother. He was supposed to wear it in his next job interview. Melchor was overjoyed. It seems like Mother already forgave him and she sent a lucky pin, too. He had a good news for Annie that night, he was accepted.Not only that, he visited Mother and it seems like nothing happened.
Unknown to Melchor, Annie has been paying Mother a visit, giving her various charms and icons for luck which she said was a peace offering from Melchor. She gave Mother stones for health, for protection, for peace and so on.  Every time Mother thinks something bad was going to happen, Annie would come up with a stone that might counter whatever bad luck was coming.
Finally, Melchor gained confidence. He realized that he could do so much. He still believed in luck though, that is why he kept his lucky pin all the time. Besides, his wife was so smart, she knew the kinds of charms that would keep bad luck at bay.
Annie could not say the same thing. She knew very little about stones, only what she read from books she bought, but she knew everything about her husband and her mother-in-law and she knew what it was they wanted to hear.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)