Monday, February 8, 2016


Our last conversation went like this:

Me: Did you know beforehand?
She: Well, sort of. I have been warned when we were still single.
Me: Who did?
She: People who know his family.
Me: What did they tell you?
She: They said, " mag-isip isip ka. Me lahi yang mga yan. I didn't know what they meant because he and his family seemed very normal to me.
Me: What about him? Did he tell you?
She: No, i guess he didn't realize it.
Me: How can he not know? You said he had an aunt who talks to herself, and an uncle who is a loner and a recluse?
She: During our courtship, we didn't talk about our families, our roots. What I know, I got from other people but I didn't listen to them.
Me: Well, non -disclosure of one’s mental illness is a ground for annulment.
(And she laughed and laughed upon hearing my last word.)
She: What's there to annul? I wanted him to marry me. We were in love. In fact, he formally broke up with his ex- gf so our relationship would be sort of legal.
Me: Yeah, right. Legally insane!

And she cried.

I am used to crying myself, but her story breaks me into a million little pieces I thought I need to write about it- against her wishes.
She is a friend from way back but I am a little older than her. She was a batch mate of my late sister in elementary school. Our parents were friends so it was natural for us to be close to each other. But our kind of friendship is a unique one because we bonded through our sorrows. We have never gone out together because she is not allowed to. But we find time to talk for hours and hours, especially when her husband is away for some reason.

Sometimes I pity her. Most times I get angry with her. How can she live like that? How can she endure having to sleep with a man who gives her so much troubles and makes her feel so afraid?

Once I met an aunt of her husband who told me she admires my friend for sticking it out with her nephew. It appears that his mental condition, though still far from the Mandaluyong type of illness, is only half of the problem. Aside from his outbursts and paranoia, my friend’s husband is also a gambler. But just like the lucid intervals that were very few and far between, he gambles only when the urge is uncontrollable. He would stay put for days, months or even years, but when the itch comes, there's no stopping him. She could only watch in agony.

One afternoon, she texted me to ask if I'm not busy. I knew she will just unload or even rant, so I said no, I was just lazily sitting around.

She: Te, bz ka?
Me: no, tamad aq. wats  up?
She: away kmi Te. Me ginawa cia ndi cnavi sa akin.
Me: wats new? Lagi nman ganyan.
She: grabe to Te!

She related to me that her husband and his siblings agreed to settle the  property left by their parents. But that's not the  problem. The problem that made her very angry was her husband’s decision to use their savings to give his siblings their share in the property even if it is still to be sold. It's called suklian in Filipino. My friend was hurt because they have previously decided to use the savings to buy a parcel of land near their home. She was thinking that they could help any of their married children start to build their own home in that lot. When confronted, her husband said he could make any decision on his own without consulting her. This really made her feel so hurt. To her it was betrayal. And her husband’s siblings were his cohorts. No one among them tried to ask if that was a marital decision.  All they cared for is to get hold of their share and be free of all the worries attendant to the sale and transfer of the property. Even the long, tedious processes involved to eventually transfer and sell the property were to be handled by her husband. What was worse is that my friend had to lend a helping hand in order to do that, after being told right in her face that she had no reason to get involved since it was their inheritance, after all.

She: Te, wala akong habol sa lupa nila. Alam ko nman na yung mana e dun lang sa nagmana. Walang pkialam ang asawa. Kaso, ang ipinanukli nya e nkalaan na sa ibang bagay na pkikinabangan  sana ng pamilya nmin lalo na ng mga bata.
Me: pano ngaun?
She: ewan q Te. Gusto q n maglaho.
Me: gaga, mahirap yun. Wawa nman bunso mo. Nag-aaral pa.

She has four children. Two boys and two girls in succession. The two elder boys and the eldest girl are all married. The fourth, a girl, is still in college.
Growing up, the kids were never close to their father. They were afraid of him. He busied himself in their business but would later be bankrupt. This was mainly because he was into vices- gambling and drinking. His gambling habit was deeply rooted. He told my friend that as a small boy, he would sell calamansi in the public market, but would later play cara/cruz- betting both his capital and his earnings.  When he got a little older, he would play odd/even with his friends as they watch buses ply by on the highway. The last digit of their plate numbers were their reference point. His small daily school allowance was almost always gone before recess or lunchtime.  In the first year of their marriage, my friend witnessed how everyone  in his family would gamble- jueteng, cockfight, betting in a basketball game or boxing, sweepstakes, etc.- practices she never witnessed in her own home. That was why when she was described as “walang kamina-mina” by her in-laws because she doesn’t want to quit office work at first, she was miserable. Her husband’s drinking habit, on the other hand, was acquired as a result of his bankruptcy.

My friend worked in an office as a supervisor, but later opted to file an early retirement because her husband would oftentimes follow her on her way to work. At times, he would just appear in her office, pretending to have just passed by. Of course she knew he was having bouts of paranoia again. To him, what his mind tells him is real. It has gotten to be that dangerous. She still remembers that time when they were still dating. Once, he fetched her from her boarding house in Sampaloc, Manila. They were supposed to go to Recto to buy a pair of leather boots- the fad at the time. While walking, she noticed that he would often look back so she asked why. He said someone was following them. She looked back and around but didn't see anyone suspicious. This left her thinking for a time, but she soon forgot about that episode. Until today, when one episode after another, the paranoia would often surface.

One of the most hurtful, because it involved both his psychological problem and his natural bad behaviour (his word was law), was when he insisted that there’s something going on between their son-in-law and and one of their daughters-in-law. My friend thought it was preposterous and ludicrous. She wrote him a letter bluntly telling him that he is suffering from paranoia and that he needed professional help. She reminded him of the many times he displayed rude behaviour and bad judgment. She recalled that once, when he was intoxicated, he blew his nose right into her arm. It devastated her, but she just cried and calmed herself.  When the kids were younger, she would drive all four of them to a relative’s house to protect them from the antics of their vicious father.

After he read the letter she wrote, he cried and cried. He asked for forgiveness but in the course of their discussion, his sick self once again appeared. But my friend was unstoppable. She released all the hurts within her. She told him if he were to be different from his siblings and his elders before him, he should seek medical/professional help. She reminded him how once, when he got angry because she gave food to a deaf-mute relative, he got so mad he killed a cat with his own hands. She recounted how once, in their house during their early years, while two of their children were going downstairs, she made a joke about ghosts that made their children shout and cry. Instead of checking on them to see what was wrong, he singlehandedly carried a wooden crib and threw it down on his wife and two kids, hurting them and breaking the crib. Just a few years back, there was a time he was so blinded with what he believed was true he took out a knife and showed it held it before the eyes of his son-in-law.

She was so hurt with all his insane and unfounded  accusations against their children-in-law she cited a litany of wrong-doings, nay, crimes, that his equally sick brothers did to their own families. Their eldest brother was accused by his own illegitimate daughter of sexually molesting her;  another brother molested a househelp long ago. This same brother was drunk almost daily and would often hit his wife and children-the youngest among them was even made an ash tray by putting off his cigarettes in the young boy’s arms. Aside from physical violence, this same brother was also verbally abusive to his family. My friend witnessed all these so she can’t be accused of spreading hearsay. She was with a sister-in-law in a fast food when their niece told them of her harrowing experience in the hands of her father. She was numbed. She offered no help to the victim because what she heard made her cringe in shock. This couldn’t be, she thought, but soon she realized this is what it is.

Me: My God, you haven’t forgotten all these. But have you forgiven him/them?
She: I don’t know. I am not a churchgoer but I have become prayerful because of these. Besides, he is not guilty of doing those things to our children. I have always been very vigilant. But in my heart I admit that he has the tendency to be violent at times.
Me: That’s good, but then you need to heal.
She: Look who’s talking. E ikaw ba, nag-heal ka na ba sa mga pasakit mo?
Me: (I just smiled) 
Me: Magbiyahe nga kayo. Baka makapag-usap kau ng heart to heart.
She: Naku, ayoko na. Minsan nga nagpunta kami sa Quezon. Matraffic. Nainip. Ayun pinapagalitan ako kahit naririnig ng ibang pasahero. That trip was a disaster. Mula noon, ayoko nang bumiyaheng kasama siya.
Me: wala ba kayong sweet and tender moments?

The one thing that intrigued me is that my friend’s husband seems like a happy person at times. He would crack jokes during the few times we would meet at some event. He hangs out with his trusted friends at times. It occurred to me that perhaps, it really is that way with persons who are sick in the mind. While I feel sorry about my friend’s situation, I feel thankful that her husband’s sickness is not on the same level as that of his brothers. Another one of them, while not violent at all, has been diagnosed as schizophrenic. He has a daily dose of medicines or he will snap- like that time when he was seen jumping out of their window which is about 5 meters up. He was wounded at the time.

Me: Parang teleserye na buhay mo.
She: Oo nga, pero not for public consumption. Kaya wag mong isusulat.
Me: Daming lessons e. Bka me mapulot yung iba.
She: Anong lesson e nakatali nga kamay ko dahil takot ako sa eskandalo. Di ba may mapupulot lang yung iba kung kikilos ako para maiayos lahat?
Me: Hello! Ano gagawin mo? Pano ka kikilos e hindi naman ikaw ang problema. The solution lies in him not in you.
She: (kept silent for a while) Kaya nga gusto ko na maglaho.
Me: And let your children inherit all these?
She: Aba hindi, sasabihan ko mga anak ko na lumayo na pag nawala ako. Ayoko maging very unhappy sila.
Me: Ganun pala, e bakit hindi yun ang gawin mo ngayon?
She: Naku naman, ate, I am faithful to my vows. Napakahirap ng situation ko  pero I asked God for him. Binigay naman Nya. Ngayong nalaman kong damaged goods pala siya, iiwan ko na lang?. Magagalit ang parents ko pag ginawa ko yun. Sila rin nagkakaproblema pero hindi naghihiwalay. Saka sabi ni papa, separation is the worst thing one can show his children.
Me: O sige, e di tiis-ganda ka na lang. (we both laughed) O e kung mamatay ka na nga para wala ka nang problema, anong kulay ng flowers ang gusto mo?
She: Blue, pink and violet. Ikaw bahala jan ha?
Me: Gaga ka talaga!

She, Who always seems so happy in a crowd
Whose eyes can be so private and so proud

No one's allowed to see them when they cry….

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Year of Living Dangerously

This is supposed to be a journal meant for family and close friends to read. There are things I had to tell them personally but time and distance constraints prevent me to regularly connect with them. In recent months, however, even "blogging" or journalling has become a luxury to me owing to the many demands of domestic life. Whoever said domesticated women enjoy the luxury of time does not know whereof he speaks.

Late last year, 2014, I resolved to update on this personal journal. I felt I really needed to write about what is happening in my life. But 2015 came with a really big, big bang. January this year ushered in very stressful, heartbreaking and mind boggling events on the homefront. I missed all the activities relative to the visit of Pope Francis in January. I would have loved to soak in the rain while hearing his masses but I did not have the strength to leave the house then. My body was weak and more so was my spirit. I was not surprised when I did end up in the hospital again by early March. I hoped things will settle down sooner but they stretched into months and now it looks like the last quarter of the year is not spared. Really, when it rains, it pours.

Despite the turmoil, I robotically went through life's many phases as though everything was fine. I did some cleaning up, though, like putting up a new Facebook account where I gathered only my most treasured friends, going only to gatherings where the people I like goes and deleting some people totally from my social life. I thought they are of no significance and merely add insults to my injuries. My children were very sensitive to my plight during the difficult early months of 2015. Timmy booked the two of us on a flight to HK in early February. I totally enjoyed our bonding which was made even more remarkable by a side trip to Macau. In those SARs, we experienced how the Chinese celebrate their New Year. I found out our celebration in the Philippines is far more joyful and merry.

Also in February, Ding and I went to Naga City to attend the interment of my May Noming, the youngest sister of my father. She was one of those who raised me and my brother and sister when my mother died in 1959. Our HK booking coincided with her wake so it was a good thing we made it to the burial a few days after we arrived from HK. I am glad I was able to visit May Noming in February of 2014 while she was in the hospital. She was up and about then but she had to ask my cousin who I was. The years made us strangers to each other,

In February also, my good friend and compadre Lito de Dios married his long time partner in a church ceremony. Such a joyful ocassion for all of us friends. The bride was so radiant and the affair was so intimate. The couple was gifted with a family trip to Singapore by our good friend Hermie. We were supposed to go with them but conflicts in schedule did not permit us. I thought it was a good thing that we were not able to come since it was a special gift and with us tagging along, it would have lost its significance. However, we began planning for a group tour somewhere in SEA and we all decided on a HK-Macau trip.

On June 26, 2015, we all packed our bags and enplaned for HK. We arrived around 8am at the HKIA after which we took a public bus to TST. We were all envious of the very efficient mass transport system in HK. We stayed in TST the whole day, mostly in the biggest malls in Canton Rd. Good thing there is a luggage counter in the ferry terminal inside a mall where we left our bags so we can explore the city a little further. Or so I thought. Among the jondas, I was the only one who kept on walking. The rest have to stop and sit awhile whenever they see a bench or a shaded area. I would have loved to show them around since I am already familiar with the tourist areas in HK. So at 5:30pm, we all boarded a ferry that will take us to Macau. We arrived in an hour and took a free bus ride to The Venetian. A kababayan in Plaridel who works in the hotel helped us get a very huge discount for our stay. The Venetian was awesome. I would like to go back and stay there if only because it was such a vibrant hotel owing to the many amenities it offers. As in our past trips together, the friendship among the jondas was sealed much more tightly than ever.

It is now September and usually I get excited during this, my birth month. I do not feel such excitement anymore. The big bang of January 2015 still persists to date. I can only wish and pray for it to stop. I am hoping that when my son Poy comes home for a short vacation in December, all will be well. He deserves, as Tim and Nad do, a happy, peaceful and stress-free bonding time with the family. I hope. I wish. I pray.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hair Story

In high school, a classmate described my hair as "parang alambre". Well, there is some truth to that. My hair is black and coarse and the strands are so thick and curly. Some hair stylists then called it "isponghado", mainly because it is "makapal". The ugly truth is, as early as during my early adolescence, I have a very unruly, unmanageable hair. Now that my hair has turned gray, it still is very, very rebellious. Through the years, I have wanted to be consistent with my hair style. But it was not meant to be. Thanks to my undisciplined hair. Take a look-

 The long again-short again cycle has been a constant in my hair story. I wish I were really more consistent. I like longer hair better but sometimes, when I enjoy sporting long hair, something comes up and makes me decide to cut my hair short. Now, now, am I not the one who is unmanageable?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Janina Francesca I. Tejada

My Janina was born on May 2, 2013 at the Manila Doctors' Hospital.

I don't know why Tj and Tim chose the name Janina. But I love it. It is the female version of John, Juan, Ian or Ivan. Francesca came from Francis, the chosen name of the recently installed Pope. Good choice, too, since PF1 seems very sincere in his pronouncements on changes in the catholic church. I had a classmate in high school whom we called Nina. And if her demeanor were to be the basis, then we are assured that our Janina shall be as prim and as proper as her. 

Janina took my eyes, and probably my light complexion. I hope she also gets interested in the same things as I do now- like, dresses, accessories, reading, writing, cooking, etc, so that we can bond in the remaining years of my life. In the meantime, I am keeping the things which shall be handed down to her at the right time.

Janina came at the right time. Timmy, her mom and my daughter, is already in her mid-30's. A few more years and getting pregnant may pose some problems for her. Jacob, Janina's elder brother, is already at that stage when he can listen to reason. So far, very little signs of jealousy can be gleaned from his actions. In fact, he is showing signs of  being a very loving, caring brother to his younger sister. His constant kisses, his attempts to help feed his sister, his concern when Janina is upset- all these are good signs that their parents will be spared of the usual problems relative to sibling rivalry in the future.

When we bring the kids out, Jacob makes sure he's holding on to Janina's stroller. In my mind, I can imagine he's acting like a close-in security for his sister. And this makes me very glad. Whether they will have other siblings later or not, it is my prayer that like my own children, they will grow up loving and caring for each other. Thank you, Lord, for precious grandchildren!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A December Weekend in Hongkong

This is long overdue. But I have to write this because Bajek and Aja are fast growing up and soon,  their parents will tell them that at their young age, they have gone to Hongkong and spent a weekend there with the whole family. And surely, they will ask what happened there.

In July, 2006, the hubby and I went to Hongkong in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. I was mesmerized by the things I saw. Hongkong is a vibrant city with lots of things a woman like me enjoys.But the hubby found it too commercial and wished that we had gone to Vietnam instead. I wanted to do so many things and see so many places in the islands of Hongkong but I did not get to because my husband's masculine bones did not want to do the walking so we just followed where our tour guide led us to. The only thing that saved the trip was the whole day we spent in HK Disneyland, where both of us enjoyed. So from then on, I vowed to go back and conquer HK- this time with another woman, my daughter Tim, who has been there twice in the past. We were eyeing the months of Oct-Nov, 2010, after her bar exams but a tragic event happened in Manila which resulted in the deaths of several HK tourists, many of whom were children. The sentiment of the people of Hongkong against all Filipinos, even if the lone killer was an errant policeman  who himself was killed by his colleagues, was enough for us to cancel our trip. We wanted to enjoy and not be looked upon with hatred and anger.

Past forward to December,  2012. Timmy booked all of us to an early morning flight to HK on a Thursday, December 13. It was a wrong decision, because we had to leave our house in Bulacan at 12:00mn in order to make it at the airport at least three hours before our flight. That made us all groggy the whole morning. But it was okay in the sense that the two babies, then 1 year and 5 months and 10 months, respectively, fell asleep aboard the plane. At NAIA3, we had to sit like this on the floor while waiting to check in-

We arrived at our Nathan Rd. hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui a shortly before lunch. The hotel manager, Simon, was very accommodating. Really our flight was not ideal because most hotels are vacated at 12:00nn and check in was supposed to be at 2:00pm. Simon let us leave our bags in his private quarters and we went out to wait for 2:00pm outside. Good the place was near the Kowloon Garden. Bajek and Aja enjoyed playing there, while we adults just stayed put in the benches. The December air made us relax for the duration of our wait.

After checking in, we rested for a few hours before we headed out to explore the city. At around 5:00pm, we heard a knock on our door, and to our surprise, Popoy was there, all the way from UAE. The family was complete. What else can we ask for? I was so happy, I cried upon realization that we can celebrate Christmas altogether, albeit much earlier. That night, we went around and around, savoring the cool HK air, minus the pollution that we are used to in Manila.

The following day, Friday, was our Disneyland day. Prior to the trip, Tim and Poy (we later learned) already did some research on the routes of trains and buses we would take to and from a certain place. We all enjoyed the train and bus rides. HK really has a very efficient transport system. We were at Disneyland from 9am to 9pm.I cannot explain the feeling seeing my whole family enjoy a place far away from home. HK, after all, is relatively a safe place for tourists, a lot safer than Manila. Am not sorry.

At Disneyland, I almost shrieked seeing the rides and the attractions. I loved Philharmagic in 2006 and I still loved it this time. I was a child once more, together with my grandchildren.

The day's highlight was the Disney on Parade which we waited for with much eagerness. The sights and sounds, the colors and the clean, cool air all made the experience a pleasurable one.

We spent our third day at the Madame Tussaud Museum in Central taking souvenir photos. The journey up the tram was quite difficult. But the tram ride was enjoyed by the kids.

The third afternoon was reserved for some shopping, but we only went as far as the Giordano stores and in ISquare in Nathan Rd. So much time was spent looking for a fish cracker requested by our friend and compadre, Lito de Dios, but we didn't find any of this-

We asked ALL of the stores along the road for this product, but all our efforts were in vain. I ended up buying chocolates for his kids, instead.

On our last day, we woke up early and headed to the airport for out 10am flight back home. We were thinking we still could do some shopping at the airport. But we found out our third world budget plane was in the far end of the airport. we had to walk and walk and walk. Good there is a watch store near our gate so Tim was still able to buy herself an Anne Klein piece. The saddest part of our departure is leaving Popoy behind since his flight back to Dubai/UAE was still in the afternoon. He went back to our hotel to rest a little more but headed back again to the airport to do some window shopping. Poy was very excited to see his nephews, especially Aja whom he is seeing for the first time.

Someday, I wish we could go on a trip again as a family. Doesn't matter where. As long as we are all together. It is not just because we have to, but because we love to.

As far as Hongkong is concerned, I haven't got my fill yet. I want to explore Causeway Bay, Wanchai and Harbour City.  I haven't seen the shopping havens yet. I haven't gone on a food trip yet. And before this lifetime is over, I have to. I am a woman, after all.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

From March to June

It's been four long months since I last posted.

Jacob is now 11 months and knows so many things already. He has been iPadding since December and shuttles between Disney Junior and BabyFirst TV. His antics have become diverse and his language skills are speedily developing. When he grows up, I will ask him what "digde" means. For now, it could be anything, but I sincerely hope it's his word for "pretty" when he refers to me.

Rajan, on the other hand, is now 4 months old but he holds his feeding bottle like a ten-month old. He has become very communicative and always displays a very wholesome disposition at such a young age. He has also become and iPadder, quickly turning his attention on the screen when his favorite nursery rhymes are played.

With my attention equally divided between my two Laway Boys, especially during weekdays, the hubby has to be content with occasional and somewhat robotic questions as " Nagkape ka na?". Of course I was only asking. That didn't mean I will make him a cup. He can do it very well for himself. Ha ha!

Having babies around requires giving up most of what I usually do before they came. Blogging, for instance, and going out just for the sake of going out. But I have no regret. In fact, I am grateful. Because I realize now how much I missed in the past,  when my own children were still babies and I was always away, doing something I hated doing but had to do for my family's survival. My days with Jacob and Rajan growing up before my eyes also made me realize that I made the wrong choices then, considering that today, I find it hard to remember what my children's first words were, when were they able to crawl,sit, stand and walk by themselves. What mother does not remember all these?

Enough of bitter memories...

In April, my beloved Poy was given a brand new car by his UAE employer. I can only guess he did good in his job. But knowing this gem of a son, I know he would have had the same or even better perks anywhere he may be employed. 

In early May, our group, Batch 66, headed south to Boracay for a three-day respite. We are fortunate to be at the receiving end of our friend and classmate, Abeng Calata's generosity, who took all 9 of us on a round-trip flight to the island. She has  time-sharing benefits at the Fairways and Bluewater and so she called us up to join her. Good my Mareng Alice just arrived from the US for a short vacation so that made us almost complete. Since I and the hubby were classmates, we received a double blessing by being together with our best friends.

On June 17, my high school friends based in Bulacan had lunch at my house. My high school buddy, Pearlie, G., was home for a vacation from New Jersey. Upon returning from Bicol where she has a house, she came over to spend a few hours with us. Funny how classmates are always on the look-out for each other. It is our wish to be together someplace where we can spend a few days of fun and laughter.

Just last week, June 20, to be exact, the hubby and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. As I posted in my Facebook account, ours is a story of falling and rising and falling and rising again, but each time we rose, we looked at the same direction and we never got lost.

I wonder when I will be posting again...

But it feels good, really good, downloading all these from the heart.