Friday, January 29, 2010

A Gem Called Gerald

This is not fiction.

In the early morning of February 5, 1979, I laid, in all my bloated and naked glory, on the operating table of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Malolos, about to give birth by caesarian section to my second child. The lady anesthesiologist told me that aside from the anesthesia, I would be given something orally to induce stupor but not strong enough to make me sleep so that I can tell them what I feel every step of the way. I took note that there were about seven or eight of them inside the OR, presumably doctors and nurses.

My Ob-Gyne, Dra. Pilar, came in and greeted everyone in the room. When I felt that she was starting to open me up, I mumbled a short prayer. Then I heard one of them said, "Ay, doktora, bakit ganyan?" Dra. Pilar answered, " Naku, eto kasing batang ito, matigas ang ulo. Sinabi ko nang magpa-admit na last week pa, e pinaabot pa hanggang ngayon". Then, addressing me, she said, "Ayan, may crack ang tiyan mo". It couldn't be the outer part of my tummy 'cause I would know so I surmised that the problem was internal. My short prayer became longer and I became afraid for my baby. Despite such a situation , they all talked about different things, issues and personalities. It was pretty much like giving birth while watching a talk show.

After a while, I heard a baby's cry. Dra. Pilar said it was a boy. For the second time, I felt that thud which made me want to cry that I first felt when Timmy was born. ( I experienced it again with Ronald and that was it. I guess that feeling can only be felt by someone who gives birth). Then, at one point, I saw myself down in a dark pit. I was looking up trying to climb back to safety. Then I heard voices. "Okay, suction!", said one. Another said, " Ilalabas muna yung bituka mo para malinis". I couldn't make the distinction whether the voices were from those around the operating table or from those around the pit where I saw myself. Minutes later, I began to feel the needles used in stitching my tummy. I remember telling them it hurts. But a woman's voice said they couldn't give me more anesthesia because the procedure is almost done. And then, I fell asleep.

And so it was that Baby Boy Inocencio was born in the early morning of February 5, 1979.

For my son, I wanted a name that has a 'gerry/jerry' sound to it. But I don't want him to be Gerardo, Jr. I don't know why, but I don't like juniors. So, the names Jeremiah and Jericho were considered but both were disapproved by the hubby. I had second thoughts, too. The names were too biblical. At the time, Gerald Ford, who stepped down in 1977 as the 38th US President was still in the news, because his stint as VP and Pres. of the US were both unusual and historical. He held both offices, in 1973 and in 1974, respectively, without having been elected to neither one of the said position. And so the hubby and I reached a mutual decision- our son will be named Gerald. (In 2001, we realized that Gerald is somewhat a junior too since we discovered that the hubby's registered name is Geraldo and not Gerardo. But we have since petitioned the Civil-Registrar General to change his registered name to Gerardo and it was granted). The hubby suggested to use Popoy as his nickname ( my father-in-law is known as Ka Popoy all around town). I did not object. There was no reason to.

What people say is true. God balances what he gives to those who ask. I may have had so many trials in many of the major aspects of my life, but as a mother, I am triumphant because God gifted me with only the best. One of them is Popoy. As a child, Popoy has shown strength of character much like his sister before him. I don't remember him quarreling bigtime with his sister or with his brother. I don't remember him complaining of a small school allowance or of an old tattered shirt. He makes do with what he has and does not pass on his problems to me or anyone else. What I remember are the times when I would cry on his shoulders and he would cry with me. Just like with Timmy and Ronald, I love to think back of the days when he was still small. When he was in grade 1, he had to commute daily and travel around nine kilometers between Baliuag and Plaridel since we took up residence in Baliuag in the middle of the schoolyear. I still feel guilty to this day thinking why I had to allow that to happen. But those months that he went on his own was the first sign of his being a very responsible son. He religiously attended school and was never a truant. As he grew up, he never gave us any reason to be worried. In fact, I think it was him who was constantly worried about the state of the union of his parents.

Gerald was appropriately named. He was all G's to all of us. He was good, generous, gifted ( two of his photos were published in GulfNews in Dubai), gallant, genteel, genuine, good-hearted, good-humored, gracious, gregarious, groovy, guarded, and great. But most of all he's a gem and he is very precious in my heart.

Happy birthday, anak. I pray that God gives you all the best that you desire. Along with Tim and Nad, I love you beyond the stars!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Boys of Batch 66

In Pretty Women, I wrote about the female members of our elementary batch who have become close after organizing two consecutive class reunions in 2004 and 2005. Now, this is about the male members of the said core group. Since the hubby is part of this group, might as well introduce them alphabetically ( by surname), to be fair.

Lito De Dios is an architect by profession. He is also an all-around artist.Whenever there is a scheduled meeting or an outing ( read: eating) everyone in the group looks forward to Lito's multi-colored stories (oftentimes, they're green). He is not allowed to be absent in any of our soirees because he is the fountain of all joys. Laughter is easily generated whenever he tells a story. He weaves magic in his storytelling. He can make a short, short story into a novela, ( sometimes with a little help from Hermie E. and Rading I. ( the hubby). Almost always, it is not the story that makes us laugh, but the way he tells them. He is so animated and theatrical, you'd think you are in a comedy bar that charges a hefty sum for very talented stand-uppers. But Lito isn't just a comedian. He performs any assigned task to the very best of his ability. On our way to being senior citizens in a few years, the group surely treasures him for always making us feel young by sheer display of his laudable talents.

Hermie Esguerra 's name is synonymous with success. In 1966, when we graduated, I bet no one from our graduating class thought, even for a moment, that we have someone amongst us who, in the future, will be the fulfillment of each and everyone of our individual dreams. Once a seminarian and an erstwhile actor, Hermie hit the bigtime really big. Today, he is at the helm of Herma Group, a multi-billion conglomerate with businesses as diverse as petroleum, shipping, maritime and environmental services, information and communications technology, broadcasting ( he has recently acquired ESPN Phil.). Being an accomplished sportsman, his fun time in his Batangas farm is spent with horses, which is quite a money-making endeavor, too. ( Windblown, his retired racehorse is now a stud, living the best life in his airconditioned quadra.) Hermie has not only gone to many places. He has also has gone up to higher places. He rubs elbows with the Joneses of Philippine society. Because of his interest in various sports, he has met, dined and wined with the best in every field. One very fascinating anecdote about Hermie took place in December, 2008. During the weigh-in for the Pacquiao-DelaJoya fight, an aging boxer, Bernard Hopkins, with a lot of help from other Mexicans, boasted and hurled insults at Filipinos, saying " My partner, (DelaJoya) will knock out Pacquiao at seven, and whoever disagrees, see me outside". Hermie stood up and took on the challenge. The mellee could have turned into an interesting match had it not been for the announcement of Pacquiao's arrival on the PA. What the unruly Mexicans didn't know was that Hermie has been a very gracious host to Pacquiao's opponents when they visit the country.

Genie Gatmaitan is the most quiet boy in the group. He is a seaman but heart problems forced him to take an indefinite leave. He has gone through both an angiogram and an angioplasty last year. Genie is my youngest son's baptism ninong. Ding is all praises for his character and demeanor. And he really is very prim and proper. Whenever we are together enjoying Lito's stand-up acts, he stays put in his seat quietly laughing ( if ever there is such a thing) at the goings-on.

For me and my hubby, Ding Inocencio, going out with Batch 66 is our social life together. It used to be the ME group in the 90's, but it fizzled out in just a few years. Our main activity is eating out regularly, punctuated by some other 'walks' such as going to a 'lamayan', and when invited by Hermie, visits to his Batangas farm or his WackWack residence. There are times when the hubby does not feel like going, especially when he has something urgent to attend to, but I have his full approval to go with the group as he is assured that I am in good company.

Bandong Tan's name is as tough as his profession. He is a policeman, but has retired upon reaching the age of 56 in October, 2009. Loosely speaking, he is my uncle because he is the brother of my stepmother. But I doubt if he will allow someone as old as he to call him tito. Bandong can be both quiet and talkative depending on who he is with. He is unmarried but certainly not unattached. Two years ago, the group, especially the girls, were so excited about his plans to marry his long-time partner, but it did not materialize for reasons he never told us. But he always seems happy so we thought maybe it doesn't matter if they didn't have that piece of document. His civil status doesn't seem complicated to us, anyway.

Whenever we're together, we have great fun and laughter when someone dishes out a story, oftentimes with much support from the other boys. It's a wonder how the minds of these boys can work as one while weaving a funny story. One would think they brainstormed first but the truth is that they are just playing it by ears.

Maybe fate brought us altogether at this point of our lives to relieve us of our individual stresses. Or maybe it's nature's way of telling us life has come full circle for us.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fatima Ferrer Inocencio Tejada

Today, January 14, my first born Timmy, turns 32.

Timmy was born under very depressing circumstances. Two years into my marriage in 1978, I was devastated by the realities of my early married life. It was tough. I was alone, with no mother to turn to. Everyone around me then and every star in heaven seemed to conspire to make me the most pathetic wife at the time. It was then that I had to make a choice whether I should fight for my marriage and make it work or live a life of my own- with a newborn daughter. Enlightenment came fast and easy. I realized that Timmy was born out of love. She was no accident. She does not deserve to be punished and live a complicated life just because some people tried to make life so difficult for me (They have since been justly chastised). She deserved a complete, functional and happy family because she did not ask to be born. My problems then were not hers. It was up to me and her father to raise her the best way possible so that her life will be much better than ours.

Two brothers later, Timmy's life slowly unfolded. Looking back, I believe it was a charmed life. She turned out to be every mother's dream daughter. The dictionary will run out of positive adjectives to describe her as a person, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, and now as a wife to an equally lovable husband, TJ. The 'beast' in her, if ever there was, seldom makes itself evident, not even during the times when the devil and some run-away witches taunt and provoke her. My daughter stands on firm ground, I am sure of that and that makes me very proud of her.

Tim and I survived the first storms of our life. She had her first taste of such a storm when I was eight months heavy with her. An in-law, who was both heavily intoxicated and under the spell of the prince of darkness at the time, wanted me and my husband out of their family home. In my husband's absence, he swore and hurled invectives at the very pregnant me with a voice that disturbed the heavens. I swear I did not say nor do anything that merited such a spectacle from him. In the first place, what can I do or say when I was the odd one in his own territory where he is feared by even his elders? All I did was cry and I promised myself that I will protect my unborn child from demons of this kind. Many more of this kind of 'palabas' took place , disturbing the relative peace and serenity of my own family, and each time, I kept my cool and tried to keep in mind all the patience and perseverance that I learned from my father. But I wrote in my journal that one day, I will fight back and get even with him. I did not have to, because years later, God took care of him.

The later storms in our life would be rougher and more destructive, but Tim showed a brand of steadfastness one would not think could ever come from a frail body like hers. It's amazing how she coped with the many 'suddenlys' in our family life. Timmy is love personified. Her devotion to and affection for her brothers are so real, it makes me want to say I can go anytime 'cause my sons are in good hands.

To the best daughter in the world, happy, happy birthday. I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, can pass on this love which has been given to you abundantly.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Simple Life

For months now, Ding has been spending so much time ( and money) in our small "bakuran sa bukid". I don't know what's really in his mind but I can feel that he is slowly building himself ( and possibly, mine too) a retirement home. Most afternoons, when all my household duties are done, i would also go to check on the place. Just recently, I bought some plants in Calumpit and had them planted in their designated places. A row of San Francisco ( the toothpick variety) alternately with the red leaf gumamelas were planted along the driveway. Near the fishpond were planted rows of mayana and arabian pine. Slowly, the retirement home is taking shape. I am happy that Ding is happy with what he is doing. However, if it were my call, I probably would just stay put in my bed with a good read, or sit in front of the pc and surf the net.

On a daily basis, he would take his breakfast at 7am. By then, I would have already cooked the ulam for our tanghalian. He would bring some for himself and the carpenter and they would be boiling rice in a kalan. If there is no prepared ulam, he is content with whatever canned goods he can take from our pantry. Or he would just buy itlog na maalat, chicharon and kamatis. Lawyering seems to be just a poor second in his priorities.

It all began when our lease contract on a bodega near our house ended. He didn't want to sell the weapon carrier he rebuilt. ( We went to HK Disneyland to see one in the theme park.) So he built our own bodega in a corner of the lot. Then, when his parents' house was demolished to make way for a new house for my sister-in-law's family, he took all the usable materials and rebuilt the house. It was very small compared to the old demolished one, but it became a depository of many important things we had- a palo china living room set we bought in 1983, an old. old typewriter, old wrought iron chairs, his parents' earliest wooden dining table, and many more. Perhaps later, when someone we can trust can stay there permanently ( or us), we can bring there the antique items that he inherited from his father.

A toilet cum bath room has been built near the bodega. A little more time and it can give comfort and relief to whoever comes to visit. There is an artesian well from which water can be sourced, anyway. And there is an old labangan where water is stored.

On the opposite side is an old bahay kubo that he had to repair. He built a banggera where there are bamboo drinking glass holders ( of yore). A friend gave him an old, old tapayan which is still very useful. He had a bamboo papag made. There is a kakalanan where I could possibly cook sometime.

The pond is teeming with tilapia which can be harvested by February this year. It would be fun to harvest them with friends around. Tilapia from the pond straight to the ihawan. Ummmmm, smells good!

When I look at my husband's face whenever we are there, I can see joy rising within him. He loves the simple life. I do, too, but I need some perks, too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

December Affairs

I can't believe I have no posts during the merry month of December. Well, maybe, it's because it is such a merry month so that sitting in front of a computer for hours does not contribute in
anyway to such merriment.

The last month of 2009 gave me a lot of hope for the year ahead. Except for my son Gerald's very short vacation which left us all 'bitin", December went well for us as a family.
The whole family, together with TJ's papa and my BFF, Kumareng Nene travelled nearly four hours one Sunday in December to Manaoag, Pangasinan to hear mass. We usually do this days before my son Gerald flies back to his work in Dubai. after a short r & r. The kids and I bonded at the Manila Ocean Park, looked around in the malls of Makati, then headed to The Fort in Taguig.

I stood as a wedding sponsor twice in December ( in the first as a proxy for a sister-in-law). The christmas parties we were obligated to attend were very joyous ones. I lessened the stress that comes with christmas and realized I can do it. Every now and then, I had to see the goings-on in our small "bakuran sa bukid", and boy, the fresh air thereat makes me wonder why I am still attached to the polluted and populated area where we live.

After the holidays, my brain is still compartmentalized and perhaps it will take a few days for me to focus. Until then, this inanity will have to be posted. My bad!