Look Back, Move Forward

I just learned that one of our long-time neighbor in the province moved to another barangay. I could not believe it at first so I sent a private message to the matriarch. She confirmed about their transfer last summer and told me that it was probably just right timing when one of the big-time developers bought the large idle land at the back of the family’s ancestral home. The land was unintentionally enclosed by the houses stretching two barangays thus leaving it idle for almost 4 decades.

Our barangay has always been affected by flood during the rainy seasons. I grew up walking through makeshift wooden bridges because of the floodwater inside the compound. Street children loved to play inside the compound because it looked like a big fishpond with milkfish and small fishes.

I stopped appreciating the flood in our area as soon as I hit puberty. It was just uncool to be walking along flooded streets and then crossing through an old makeshift bridge just to get home. I dreamed of college and getting a job after graduation. I dream of buying a new house elsewhere where typhoons and storm surges would never be able to intimidate me. That start of my life journey started in 1994 and since then, I became distant to my own place.

“Actually, another neighbor will transfer soon, too. They have sold their house to the developer” our neighbor’s mother added.

What?! Why are they leaving? How much was the deal for them to just give up decades of living in our beautiful barangay? Hey, those houses are the landmarks of my childhood!

Wait! I stopped thinking to start feeling how I really think of the situation. I was sad for their exodus not because I would miss them because it has been ages since I settled in another place. I was sad for their exodus not because I was jealous of their new home but because I wanted to see their old homes just as they have always been. Then I realized, it was all about me. The sadness was all about missing my childhood. The pain came from the realization that the place would never be the same again on my next visit.

“Mare, it is better to leave the house. It’s old, anyway, ” PM’d my friend.

Yes, it is better to leave the house. It is not practical to live in an old house with flooded streets when your parents are old and vulnerable. The sadness was all about me, my feelings, my memories, my childhood.

 

Typhoon Memories

It’s 9:15PM, typhoon Santi looks like it’s gonna give us a hard time tomorrow when it lands on Aurora. Too bad, I won’t enjoy the long weekend that much. Yes, our HR swapped the October 15 holiday to October 14. Maybe there will be a little sunshine on Sunday. Who knows?

There are good memories that I remember during typhoons. The earliest typhoon memory is when I was only four years old. My father would get out of our house to go to Mama Dely’s (my grandmother’s sister) store to buy two large packs of Kiddie Curlz. Maybe it was his way of comforting us during the gloomy season. Our house was not comfortable to live in during the wet season. Humidity inside the house was high and everything seemed to be wet to the touch. The noisy sounds of frogs were like a group of young kids practicing a song.From where I grew up, the area was the catch basin of Balanga so everything around the house was water. A school of fish was a common sight. When I grew a little older, grade school in particular, I realized that there was nothing cool about typhoons. I hated the dampness inside the house. I hated the improvised walkway from the front door of our house to the gate. If there was something good about the typhoon, it was our little gathering at the living room for small talks because either Mama would not allow us to watch TV due to heavy lightning or there was no electricity. My brother and I would try to scare one another until his jokes would get on my nerves.

I was a high school freshman at T.Del when the heavy winds embarassed me by lifting up my green skirt to the full view of the people near the Balanga Arcade.

“So what? I am wearing shorts!” I repeatedly said to the onlookers. Two decades later, I realize that who the hell are they to deserve my explanation? Lol! Maybe I was being conservative two decades ago.

As if I was not embarassed enough, I was forced to remove my shoes and walk a few meters to our house barefooted. Some schoolmates saw me and teased me about it. Again, two decades later, I realize that who are they to react that way?

Baguio shocked me with the pestering sound of the typhoon winds. It was similar to the sound of wolves and it scared the hell out of me! Being young and naive, two of my dormmates went to sleep with me at the living room. In the middle of the night, the lady dormmate went back to our room and I was left sleeping beside the male dormmate! Our caretaker saw the two of us sharing a Uratex foam at the living room and she awakened us. Being stubborn and non-malicious, I told her that I was scared to sleep at my room. The caretaker had no choice but join us at the living room to sleep. I did not get her concern then because sleeping beside my male dormmate was nothing to me; he was like a brother.

Ah, the best typhoon memory in Baguio was when my brother and I got stranded in October 1998.We were running out of grocery and food when a good-natured neighbor gave us a big cabbage. We made that into cabbage soup and we survived one and a half days on that (with rice and fish, of course). My then boyfriend checked us and I cried the moment I saw him! Hahaha! I was so emotionally harassed and I was pining to go home only to be stranded with a little cash left.

October 2011 (?), election time, I was forced to take the SBMA-Morong route instead of the Layak route because of the floodings in Dinalupihan. It was my first time to see Morong and I appreciated the simplicity of the place.

Of course, who could ever forget Ondoy? I was supposed to give birth on the 3rd week of September but good thing I had my CS on the 2nd week. When the bridge connecting to Catmon and Patag was disconnected, transportation was paralyzed. We had to walk on a temporary bridge and take a ride from the other side of the bridge. Hassle! Just imagine the pain that I had to endure just to go to the bank because I had to withdraw manually since the ATM’s were not available then.

Typhoon Santi, please give me a good typhoon memory. Don’t be too harsh on us, please?

Family Over Career

"Where have you been all day, Mama?"

“Where have you been all day, Mama?”

The bosses asked for an emergency meeting at 4PM today. Good thing, we ended just in time before 5PM. While taking our snack, they talked about a colleague from the sister company who has stage 4 brain cancer. The bosses are in their late 50’s so it must be difficult to see a contemporay on a difficult health situation.

One of the VP’s (Vice President) shared a story about a busy man who holds a corporate job. The man goes to the attic to pick up his young son’s old journal. By chance, he is able to retrieve his own journal. He has forgotten about that old journal and is delighted to retrieve it from the storage area.

He reads one of his entries, “March 13, 2012, went fishing with my son. No catch! Just wasted my day!”

He is a busy man. If he used that day to finish some report, then that would have been a better output than bringing home an empty basket.

Curious, the man proceeds to read his son’s entry for March 13, 2012. It says,” March 13, 2012. What a great day with dad! No catch but who cares? I’m with my dad!”

***********************************

Everybody was dumbfounded at the boardroom. Everyone in the meeting is guilty of sacrificing our quality time with the family for work. Tears were beginning to build up on my eyes when another boss stood up and adjourned the meeting. Saved by the bell.

I am guilty of not giving my quality and quantity time for my family. This is an eye-opener for me that at the end of the day, family is more important than career or work. Now I know why my kids react that way whenever we (their parents) are around. Nagpapapansin.

From now on, I will have more time for my family. I will listen more, play with them more, nurture them more. After all, nobody would probably say on their deathbed that they love their job or career. It would always be, “I love you, my family.”

From Career Woman to Family Woman

I am still getting used to being a family woman since I took responsibility of my 12-year old daughter a month ago. My daughter grew up with my parents because I was still in college when I had her. Since my mother died last May 2, I decided that it would be best for my daughter to stay with me and my husband who’s fortunately fond of her.

My first days with her were like being with a stranger: I was a stranger to her and she, a stranger to me. I knew in our hearts that we were trying to patch up the lost times of being a mother and a daughter. By the way, I am just newly-married to my husband and the new role of being a wife and a mother just drive me nuts!

My husband enrolled my daughter in a Christian school. It was not as good as her previous school in Bataan but it was the better choice among the schools here in Bulacan. I commend my husband for taking charge of her enrollment because I was busy with my reports at that time.

Yes, I am a career woman. Or should I say, I was a career woman? When I met my soon-to-be husband last year, I was on top of being a career woman: long hours at the office, driven, dedicated, enthusiastic. I think I didn’t lose the enthusiam at work but now, I no longer spend long hours in the office if it’s not necessary. I have a husband and a daughter who wait for me to be with them for supper.

I used to wake up at 7AM but since my daughter started schooling, I now wake up at 5AM to prepare her pack snack and pack lunch. It frustrates me when I see her nagging looks at me when she thinks she’ll be late for school. I would angrily tell her that I am not used to waking up at 5AM so the least that she could do is to appreciate me instead of putting the blame on me when she thinks she’ll be late for school. I told her that it is her responsibility as a student to watch her time and manage it well so she could commute early.

Last night, I exploded. We were having supper; me, my husband and my daughter were in a gay mood. I mentioned to her about the 11-year old boy who died in a plane crash. I said that the boy travelled alone from Brazil to France but the plane crashed in the Atlantic Ocean before reaching Charles De Gaulle Airport. I said that if that 11 year-old boy could travel alone, crossing countries, then she could also commute alone in Bulacan. Her mood changed and later, she complained of stomach pain. Thinking that it was just part of her tantrums, I reprimanded her but when I realized that she was not faking it, I got very worried. I asked her her medical history but she could not answer me well. I exploded and told her that she should be telling me the details because I don’t know what’s wrong with her. I told her that it’s my first time to be with her in all those 12 years so I am clueness about her health condition. In the end, when my anger and frustration subsided, I realized that as a mother, it is my responsibility to know her health condition. I was very wrong in reprimanding her. I was very wrong in passing my responsibility to my parents.

I am still adjusting to my new role as a wife and a mother but I know that it won’t take me long to do so. Now that I know that my family shall be on top of my priorities, I will have to shift from being a career woman to family woman. 🙂