Monday, June 21, 2010

Kind Hearts


They are all over. Kind spirits who inspired me as I was growing up until this time when I am already growing old.
There are people I have met at some point in my life who have left such an impact in me for only one reason- they are all kind and benevolent.

First among them is my Ninang Noring ( my readers have met her in
In Loving Memory). She dutifully performed her duties as my confirmation godmother during my formative years. My eyes water whenever I remember her efforts to guide me during my early years as an orphan. If only for her, I would have believed that really, all men are by nature, good. But the realities of life taught me otherwise. There are people with mean bones alongside the good ones.

My Tia Agring, one of my father's sisters, is another very kind soul. All of my father's siblings are kind and compassionate. However, it is my May Agring's life that I witnessed as it unfolded. She is everything a biblical wife should be and I'm glad I have her as a role model for her fortitude and serenity. The same is true with my Nana Subring, an elder sister of my mother. One heartache after another, she still remained strong, resilient and zealous. She has faced challenges head-on and emerged a victor. Perhaps her long life is God's reward for her steadfastness and unwavering faith.

Outside of the family, there is Tata. His first name escapes me at the moment but we initially called him Mr. Guerrero and later Tata for the duration of our stay in his cottage. He was the lessor of the first boarding house my high school classmates and I stayed in at the UP in 1970. It was a run down cottage in Area 2 within the UP campus. I remember him being an Ilocano. He was already a widower then, with four or five children. He had a very calm demeanor inspite of the palpable problems in his family at the time. Whenever I go back to his cottage from a week-end in Bulacan, I always took his hand and bring it to my forehead asking for his blessing. Sometimes, his daughters would laugh at what I did, but it has become my way of showing him my respect since he was the only authority figure I have in that house I called home for over a year.

Then there is Mrs. Nenita Ocampo, Math professor at the AS, also in UP, who owned an apartment unit in the same area, where I lived for more than three years. It was perhaps part of God's plan that I met her (and the other women mentioned previously) since she was also another biblical wife, who longed and worked for a strong marriage against all odds. Ma'am was hands-on in taking care of her three children at the same time that she taught at the university. She always had kind words for everyone. Although it was obvious that she had a lot on her mind those days, she kept to herself and never did once display rude behavior before us her boarders. She's overflowing with understanding for everyone around her. It's a pity I didn't try to reconnect with her these past years.

When we lived in Baliuag in the late 80's, Tita Elsa Sauco became our next-door neighbor. Perhaps it is better to say we became her next-door neighbor. We were the transients in the place, anyway. It did not take long for my kids to be the playmates of her children, Mayet and Hans. Tita Elsa would call on my children to go to their house during week-ends. They were there all day long and she didn't mind all five loud and lively children all over the place. At first, my husband would be hesitant because Tita Elsa wont allow them to go home to eat and instead will prepare meals for them. Every now and then, she would ask me how we are doing and at times, sensing that there is a dilemma, she would graciously offer some help. Her graciousness and congeniality was manifest throughout our more than three years stay in Baliuag. Today, we still communicate and I am glad that I have all the chances now to reciprocate all her kindness.

When I was still teaching at St. Mary's in Baliuag, I met several RVM sisters who deserved to be remembered for their compassion and kindheartedness. I met S. Cely Amper, RVM, in 1986. She was one of those who interviewed me when I applied for a teaching position in that school. I did not show up when she called for me to report for another conference sometime in February, 1986, because my husband and I were then in a mass action in Luneta to support Cory Aquino who won in the snap election against Marcos. When I reported to S. Cely a few days after, I explained the situation and she understood. That was the first of the many other incidents when I needed her understanding, the one thing she was always ready to give to anyone. Another sister, S. Paula Adaoag, RVM, was appointed as the school cashier when she was given the Baliuag assignment. At that time, I was the only one earning for my family since my husband was still in law school- an option he took after quitting a small grains business. One day, she summoned me to her office and pointed out that my pay slip reflects a very small amount every payday, owing to the many deductions, especially the tuition fees of my three children. She asked me how I am able to make ends meet and I had to let her in into my private life as a sole breadwinner with four students to support. S. Paula asked how she ( and the school) can be of help. She broached the idea of relieving me with the twice a month deductions and instead, my two months summer vacation pay shall all go to the children's tuition. Of course, I agreed. S. Paula's gesture was meant for me to regain a little more dignity as a teacher by making my pay slip a little thicker than it used to be. S. Cely's and S. Paula's names are forever engraved in my heart.

A Greek philosopher once said that kindness gives birth to kindness. In so doing, it will forever be reborn and therefore will never die. In today's world, new technologies somehow changed the landscape of social relationships. There are now fewer occasions for people to develop deep and lasting connections . We call someone a friend if s/he is in our list of friends on Facebook or Friendster. Even a close relative is now simply a friend if s/he lands on that list. But having such a list of friends can be a good start in nurturing deep affection. The first step could be a kind word thrown here and there.

How I wish my children will all encounter kind souls with kind hearts as they go through their individual lives.
These souls are what maybe called models- for they say and do things that must be emulated. In contrast, fate lets us meet people whose words and deeds should never be replicated, for as Kahlil Gibran said, "they are vexations to the spirit". Between these two groups of souls, those with kind hearts should rule our lives for they live according to the rules.

Have you had a kindness shown? Pass it on; 'Twas not given for thee alone, Pass it on; Let it travel down the years, Let it wipe another's tears, Til in Heaven the deed appears - Pass it on.- Rev. Henry Burton

* Heart image taken from

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Everybody's Fine

Yesterday afternoon, I wanted to have a few laughs before going back to the unfinished house chores, so I chose to watch a movie that looked funny- Everybody's Fine, which stars Robert de Niro, Drew Barrymore and one of my favorite Kates in Hollywood- Kate Beckinsale. ( How I love looking at pictures of Kate Moss, Kate Hudson, Cate Blanchett and Mary Kate Olsen). Ten minutes into the movie, it turned out I won't have a good laugh. Instead, I had a good cry.

The movie moved me to tears as I imagine my family in the same situation- without me, their mother. Frank, De Niro's character, was a new widower and in the movie, he tried to reconnect with his four children who have gone on their own in different places. He took a road trip to New York, Chicago and Las Vegas with the intention of surprising his children with his visit. Instead, it was he who was surprised at the discovery of concealed truths about the lives of all his children.

There were universal truths about family life depicted in the movie. Like- why do children speak truthfully to their mothers but not to their fathers? And why do parents find it hard to let go of their children? Perhaps, Kahlil Gibran's admonition to parents in The Prophet can give some enlightenment to us parents. He said-

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

When the time comes that the arrows have flown swiftly and afar, I wish that everybody's gonna be fine.