Never Late, Never Absent


 

Our vampiric hours prevented us from viewing awesome sunrises like this, photo courtesy of Ms Luna Zamudio ūüôā

[ Note : Don’t let that title above fool you, it was a golden ideal with which we flirted throughout our so-called life but which remained an unreachable norm, but it never hurts to dream right? ]

Dear batchmates kabayan & friends :

30 MINUTES. That’s all it took me to get ready for school, an eternity ago. And I’m not talking about getting ready, less the morning rituals, number 1’s (and 2’s), victuals and other pre-journey stuff. I mean, from the time I got up, to rushing the final 100 meters by half-past, I almost never set aside more than half an hour to attend Hogwarts daily.

Trouble was (as is usually the case), reality has a way of seriously cramping the elegance of your theory. First, we’re assuming I didn’t go back to sleep, get tempted to catch a more than a few bites of breakfast; second, the driver wasn’t late himself, in which case it became a madcap bus & jeepney adventure for me, and finally that the weather cooperated and I remembered to bring some (climate) protection.

Otherwise, as you might imagine, I was usually on the wrong end of the Gates of Mordor come 7:30, and on the business end of 20 push-ups in Camp Gelido, never mind that overlord Fr Tchou was in the background giving all late-comers the Evil Eye for good measure.

[ Note: we mean no disrespect to Fr Tchou, bless his soul, it’s just that it was the way things were those days, instant punishment for even minor transgressions, justice swift is justice done, and with impunity too ]

My talent for extra slumber and creative procrastination assured that I would get “times tardy” in the high 20’s (for the year) and exasperated snorts from whoever owned First Period, usually Mrs Zaballero of Trigo, Mr Aluning of Physics, or Ke Lau Shi in Chinese History. Yes, quite a lovely way to start the day, too.

I lived for the weekends. Then I could sleep to my heart’s content, in double-digit hours, miss breakfast lunch and merienda all in the name of zzz’s. Presciently and prophetically, Mother said that my somnolence and indolence would never amount to anything, but grimly I soldiered on, determined to surpass the limits of my inactivity.

In university i was so apathetic to my own cause that once my watch disclosed that I was more than a quarter hour late for my first class, I quickly abandoned plans to head for school, an hour’s commute away. What was the use?

Attitude and perspective took a dramatic 180 degree turn after I bumped rather unceremoniously into fatherhood, needing to unlearn my lethargic way of life and reinvent myself. In so many words, I had to find work, imbibe a new work ethic (for reference, pls read above e-mail title) not only to keep body and soul together but to support 3 mouths including my own, and a creature that was growing before our very eyes.

After years of drowsy, easy brunch-mornings, dragging your body out of bed in time to greet the crack of dawn was literally an awakening. Air is cooler / mind is clearer / soul is purer. You redefine yourself with the rebirth of each new day.

** ** ** ** **

A few reincarnations later, things had improved a bit when I joined a gig as a paralegal at one of those monolithic Makati law firms, a shallow notch above rank-and-file. It was then and there when we saw all the stenographers, pool secretaries, typists and legal assistants coming to work on our old log-in time, ika-pito at kalahati ng umaga (n.u.) or chit tiam pua to beloved kabatch of Fujianese extraction, and we cast a wistful eye on the beeline for the bundy, and recalled braving early morning showers, and crisp dawn chill just to beat the clock. I had gone half circle, on my way to full, and my body clock was set indefinitely to a 6:00 alarm. My daybreak calluses had not yet begun to soften.

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

Catching the first FX to Makati from Taytay didn’t do much for me though. For one thing, it was one of the busier hours of FX tulisan, holduppers, and assorted baddies plying their trade (your money/celfone or your life) on the artery linking Imperial Manila and the outlying satellite towns on Rizal, Laguna and elsewhere.

Another point, it didn’t earn any pogi points from anyone, least of all lawyers who were pulling in all-nighters and staff who wanted the office all to themselves. In fact, such a consistent and early-bird

Home of the call center, although Alabang and QC are sprouting their own.

Ortigas Center at night

regimen only made the change more radical and dramatic when I signed up for red-eye and graveyard shifts at one of the larger call centers in Ortigas Center.

Instead of evacuating the catacombs at the crack of dawn, I now had to recalibrate my springs and locks so that my workday would end at the cock’s 3rd crow, just when most sleepyheads were getting up. Coupled with constant reminders to meet our call quotas, near-freezing temperature and resorting to unending cigarette breaks, it was an episode in our proletarian life that we would rather not revisit in the near future.

¬†But if waking and turning in at ungodly hours at different times in my life prepared me for anything, I wasn’t to know about it until I tried my luck overseas, by accident rather than by design. An extended vacation became an invitation to become an indentured First World slave, something I contemplated from time to time, what with the Caucasian universe made virtual and near via Hollywood, TV and DVD.

** ** ** ** **

To repeat, I’ve been at times a slacker, an early riser, a ghoulish nite owl, sweaty paper-pusher, coffee swiller and back to nine-to-fiver. This was as good a preparation as I could get for rotating shifts in a mill that ran 120 hour workweeks. Squash your circadian rhythm, roll with the chameleons and morph between rooster and owl, and zip around the 24 hour clock every week of the month, NOel.

Now, if we could only pick up the work ethic needed to make all of this work.

We can’t very well say we’ve gone full circle ;¬†life is still full of surprises, and we could be back home in the wink of an eye. But we’ve learned enough to say that work completes you, work legitimizes you, and work makes it possible to fill your tastes and color your dreams. Without the pride and the attitude, your talent and energy will keep work available, but for how long?

Never late, never absent is hard, but worth chasing.

Thanks for reading !

YLB NOel

YLBnoel.wordpress.com

noel0514.multiply.com

http://www.nzpinoy.com

Advertisements

My daily quiz show, immunity challenge & ordeal by fire


[ Notes from YLB : Here we are prattling on and on about the modest academic feats of¬† Bunso, when other, more brilliant¬†achievements abound elsewhere in the batch! There are the triple scholars of Felitanco (PhilSci, British School & AdMU), as well as the valedictorian¬†son of RowenaOngSiong- CoKingTeh (Lance)¬†in one of the best middle schools in the islands, that’s Philippine Science HS!¬†And of course, there are¬†QueenHedy and PrinceToto, proud parents of Ashley, an awesome Fine Arts grad in the finest NY tradition, pun intended!¬†Kudos to all kabatch-parents, the apple of course never falls far from the tree! ]
 
Dear batchmates, kabayan and friends :
 
PARALLEL TO, but otherwise dissimilar to the thought processes of our more overachieving, illustrious and performance-conscious batchmates, we many years past faced each written examination of the schoolyear with pulsating anticipation.  But not for the obvious reasons.  We were barely average, prepared for these ordeals as haphazardly as the next guy (and gal), and knew how far down we were on the Hogwarts totem pole. 
 
It was the there’s-no-tomorrow, all-or-nothing and all-chips-in nature of the exercise.¬† It was like sailing out into the open sea on a bright windy day, never knowing how far the four winds would take you and how long the fair weather would last.
 
Frankly, the gamble of whether or not you would pass or fail, get five stars or a big bokya, oohs and aahs or sneers and jeers from your peers was the wild card that always got our adrenalin flowing twice, first a few moments before the actual test, and second just before the results were handed out.
 
In middle elementary when the ruler culture held sway, if you insisted on living dangerously, you reviewed just enough to get by, knowing fully well that¬†any marks below 75 would receive corresponding “hits” (not the mouse-clicking kind) from Wu Lao Shi (Teacher Wu), our inscrutable, porcelain-skinned and ruler-brandishing ice-queen.¬†
 
She would smack your open palm with the executioner’s ruler x number of times your grade was below the passing mark; most of us swallowed hard and winced for comrades with 60+ grades who watched too much TV and constantly lived life on the edge.¬† Such was life.
 
Wang Lao Shi (Teacher Wang) relied less on corporal punishment, but selected colorful Chinese proverbs (cheng yu) that slapped you left and right, made you feel that you were the undereducated Chinoy bumpkin that you were for not performing acceptably in her quizzes.
 
               **               **               **               **               **
 
But on the whole, the regime of quizzes, tests and exams filled our appetite of gambling with our fleeting memories and chicken-scratch handwriting, in three languages even. 
 
Was our retention of yesterday’s lesson enough to ride us through today’s pop quiz, never mind that it was the first subject of the day and we had barely rid ourselves of the fuzzies that morning?¬†
 
Had our notoriously unreliable photographic memory captured enough of the previous session’s new Chinese vocabulary (which, being pictographic rather than phonetic, required new combinations of strokes and diagrams of words, constantly eating up new blocks of memory bytes in our addled brains) to carry us through yet another “small test” (xiao kao) which, in reality was anything but small?
 
Notwithstanding our never-say-die and devil-may-care attitude towards tests, the old-school culture prevailing then which, in fairness, found currency not just in our school but in many others during the 1970s, was the more tests, the better, or quiz them till they drop.¬† There were graded recitations, regular quizzes, surprise quizzes, take-home tests that were of course graded, unit tests, periodical tests, semestral exams, individual reports, groups reports and the all-important final exams, as if all the other modes of grading hadn’t taken place.¬†
 
Multiply these by around 8 to 10 subjects every schoolyear and you begin to wonder if a bit too much information and testing rigor was crammed into our hard little skulls all those years.
 
Evidently as it turns out, not.¬† The human brain extends and builds upon its abilities as a sponge of knowledge and new information, continually updating and sorting out data it needs and doesn’t need, correlating and discarding megabytes of kaalaman whether or not we are conscious, from the time we learn to perceive, till the day we die.
 
We are wired to never stop searching for bits of info, and the day we stop thirsting for learning is the day our brain cells begin to deteriorate and die.¬† Even dementia and Alzheimer’s can be stopped dead in their tracks, it has been suggested, when patients are persuaded to start relearning and forced to make long-dormant minds work anew.
 
But back to the test culture in school.¬† All sorts of negative reinforcements were set in place to discourage us from absorbing too much of our seatmate’s work, and vice-versa.¬† We were always asked to “cover” our work with handkerchiefs, folders and even our grimy hands (not that that ever worked), automatic zeros were given to the guilty parties, not to mention unspeakable punishment later;¬† we were seated in exam halls far apart and alternately with other classes taking different exams; every kind of technique to discourage cheating was explored, and nothing was too avant-garde and audacious if it worked.
 
Believe it or not, the thought of being caught and branded a cheat, hypocritical though it was (everyone did it one time or another), being talked about by your classmates, especially the girls, was particularly galling, and the fact that you couldn’t get by on your own wits and wherewithal proved to be the most effective tool in getting us to stay on the straight-and-narrow, relying on our own devices (most of the time) and earning our marks (for the most part)¬†fair and square.
 
Intentionally or no, as you sow, so shall you reap, sariling sikap and kung uukol, bubukol ultimately became the honor code that marked our years at Hogwarts.
 
Thanks for the memories !
 
YLB NOel
YLBnoel.wordpress.com
noel0514.multiply.com

To You Who Are About to Be a Senior, We Salute You


¬†[ Notes from YLB : We mentioned before that after five minutes in polite conversation, carrying on about your kids becomes insufferable, and we still believe in that. However, since we all agree that graduating year is the most important year in HS, we prepared a pep talk style of letter for Bunso, who as an unsupervised teenager the last couple of years, has excelled above and beyond the call of duty. Please help us by sending us your two cents’ worth, should you have any, after reading our letter. Thanks for all the additional birthday greetings on Yahoo!, Facebook and SMS text ! ]

Dear Brent :

Thanks for the chat last night just before I left for night shift.

Let me first tell you how proud I am that you’ve acquired access to reviewers for UPCAT, CSAT, the Ateneo entrance exam and the DLSU equivalent. Nothing would’ve been better than the actual review classes, but you and I both know that you’ve got the next best thing.

Let me tell you too that I’m quite impressed by the number of options re degree programs you’ve presented for consideration, and without any help too. All your top choices are strong on the science disciplines so I’ve heard, but that was decades ago. If you need a degree that’s preparatory for either law or medicine, you can’t go wrong with a business degree. In the end, it’s your decision to make.

And I’m glad you’re considering living with Nana if ever you choose and get admitted to a school in Manila, because the travel time will be dramatically cut short, and you will enjoy a home away from home.

You’re a young teen making adult choices, and yet you display poise remarkable for someone double your age, something I sadly didn’t have much of in my wasted youth. But you are definitely making up for it, anak.

The redemption of work overseas has eased somewhat the awkwardness that never fails to emerge when I consider the squandered talents and jettisoned time that I’ve been guilty of, especially when you think of the missed days, weeks and years we could’ve spent together with you, your bro and sis.

You’re too smart and mature for me to deny that I could’ve built a career supporting family and a comfortable life, both for you guys and me. Instead, I’m toiling overseas just to be able to help for your expenses while finishing school. If not for rellies who’ve joined hands and chipped in for you, Nigel and Nicole, I don’t know how we could’ve filled in the gaps.

** ** ** ** **

Going back to your preparations for university, which as mentioned earlier I’m quite impressed with, I want to likewise impress upon you that there’s something in the sidelines that’s equally important awaiting, and that of course is your senior year.

This is the time when you progress from nerds and dweebs to campus heroes and big men (and women) on the quadrangle, when you evolve from bottom of the food chain to leader of the pack, and when you and your peers are the undisputed and acknowledged head of your high school family.

Definitely it’s a long way from your first day at secondary level, when you stepped into an unfamiliar world that would be the bridge between childhood and young adulthood, when a million and one memories would be forged, and where you would create friendships and beliefs that would last a lifetime.

But the best is yet to come. Because most of what makes up 4th year is a culminating activity, all your efforts are rewarded, your triumphs celebrated, and your relationships strengthened. For me at least, that’s what being a senior was all about.

** ** ** ** **

Because you’ve managed to be in the running for honors with good grades across the board, you need just a little extra effort to be recognized by your entire batch. Don’t get me wrong, I am one proud father no matter how you finish. But an extra feather on your cap never hurt anybody. To be in the magic five (or even top 10) is something no one can take away from you for life. Grades may or may not be an ultimate measure of success, but it definitely gives you a head start.

I can imagine you smirking : look who’s talking, did you practice what you preach Papa? I’m glad to say that I was too smart for my own good but was blessed to finish school by the skin of my teeth. Like they say, no one is entirely useless and can still serve as a bad example. I didn’t do too badly, managed to graduate, and still get enrolled in a good school. The choice to succeed, really was mine to make or break. God knows I got all the breaks.

Returning to your senior season, it sounds corny now, but every day of the schoolyear will be a rich source of memories for you, mostly good, a few not so good, but all durable.

There is simply too much emotion, too much excitement, too much empathy for each other and the great adventure ahead of you to not make high school a continuous highlight reel that you usually see on ESPN SportsCenter. Only, instead of athletic plays, you have classrooms bursting at the seams with noise and laughs, unending bondings in and out of numerous groups and barkada that you form and break every week ; outings that build impressions, character and confidence not only about your mates but most importantly about yourself, and how you will face the world outside.

Ironic, but the Junior – Senior Prom, the final intramurals, the Graduation Ball, and finally Recognition Day and Commencement Exercises, momentous though they are, are merely icing on the cake of your unforgettable high school memories. They will be a pretty sight, most of them, to be saved on your Facebook page and hard copy album, but don’t place too much importance on them. Palamuti lang sya ng iyong tunay na tagumpay.

You have a busy year ahead of you son. Unbelievably, I cannot recall a time when I have asked you to do your duty as a student, you are such a responsible student. Therefore, I am reminding you to HAVE FUN.

Because your Senior Year will never happen again. Ever.

I should know, because I think I had too much of everything, that remarkable time of my life.

I love you and miss you terribly. Kaawaan ka lagi ng Diyos.

Love always,

Papa.

YLBnoel.wordpress.com

noel0514.multiply.com

http://www.nzpinoy.com

Kicking & screaming out the womb at 45


8:22 pm Nicole : nkakatamad na magblog wala ako maisip. ehehe. yes nakatabi lang baon. brent says thank u 4 his books. Papa, 15 years to go may senior citizen card kna. pang discount ! 8:39 pm Nicole is offline.

Dear batchmates, kabayan and friends :

THIS IS the one time of the year when I don’t think of anything that comes out of this hopelessly dysfunctional mind in its vain effort to spew original thoughts and clever phrases.

Not that I’ve ever met with much success anyway. Just a few lines here and there we’ve snatched from hormonally challenged TV shows, pompous book reviews and decadent gossip columns ( a redundancy ) pondered over and stared at in grimy toilets and damp bus stops, while doing abandoned crosswords in forgotten train stations and unfinished sudokus on lonely park benches.

When we do find two phrases that agree with each other, or a smattering of words that sound good together, we just write them down in tattered pages of our dog-eared notebook, but alas ink on paper doesn’t always translate to bytes on screen, zzzz’s usually take over drooping eyelids in front of the rusty PC, but we do try to keep our appointment with the monitor at least once a fortnight.

Please bear with us when we commit to saying nothing serious today, as if we ever did no? I’ll just be yapping and chattering at nothing in general while marveling at my four-and-a-half decades of sugar-enhanced reveries and chichirya-induced euphoria. So there.

** ** ** ** **

It hasn’t been an easy transition for us, to be sure, from Third World slacker to First World slave. We use slave only in a functional sense, meaning in one day the kilojoules (calories pwede rin) we use are equivalent to probably a week’s worth of sinangag, there’s just so much work to do. Depression / self-analysis / mid-life crisis / tallying next week’s expenses / scenarios of kids back home getting into all sorts of trouble automatically disintegrate into distracting daydreams that you shove to the back of your mind once the alarms sound, signalling that the wheat bin is full, the mill bin is emptying, or both.

Otherwise there’s absolutely no compulsion whatsoever about us staying here and no illusion that life would be any better back home. We don’t doubt for a moment that the minute we pack up, scores of ravenous replacements would knock at the figurative door and the mill boss would begin screening and shortlisting these miserable wretches, without even waiting for the dust to settle.

My gratitude is magnified more than thrice over by the fact that I hold a job that could very well be done by a local, and that while things have improved somewhat, there have never been more Kiwis not drawing a steady paycheck in recent history.

But it would be remiss not to see the big picture. Although the flow is skewed in favor of Third World going into First, migration happens all the time, with work preference, lifestyle choices, higher education, marriage and family issues all pulling their weight in solving the migrant formula.

From an alien’s super-hi resolution eyepiece above, we must resemble ants going round and round in circles, with nowhere to go in particular, very nearly fooling our intergalactic voyeurs into assuming that we are being transported by Brownian movement of molecules, when in fact our mindless instinct to survive; our resoluteness in pursuing the better life for ourselves and our progeny; and our relentless pursuit of the American / Pinoy / Asian Dream are what cause us to forever seek fatter fishing grounds and greener pastures in whatever stage of life.

It sounds so baduy and self-serving, but health science and wellness notwithstanding, 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30, and of course, 30somethings are practically pre-pubescent babes. ( Didn’t I say I wouldn’t care what comes out of this keyboard today ?)

Well beyond that, it seems improbable but setting up camp in a brave new world gives one the impetus to learn new skills, forget temporarily that Age is creeping up on you, disabuse oneself of the notion that family, friends and community will always be there to support in tight spots and tough times.

It’s presumptuous to call it a Second Life, but granted the chance to stay here any longer than we already have, in a few years time we will have rendered ourselves unrecognizable from our previous incarnation as underachieving NINJAs back home. As if you didn’t know, not only do we carry baby samurai, shuriken origami and dress like suman tiptoeing across pagoda tops, we also have No Income, No Job and most pathetically, No Assets with no prospect for change. At least here, we’re active NINJAs in a strange land.

** ** ** ** **

Which brings us to even more useless bits of information we are compelled to share with you. The Internet grants us the rare pleasure of validating some of our deepest, darkest beliefs, which we would otherwise never share with others and therefore cannot find kinship and justification for if not for the secret joy of finding out that we are not alone.

Without fanfare :

(1) Kate Beckinsale voted (wow) one of the most beautiful women in the world. From Underworld to Van Helsing, she proved that you could be hot either as a vampire or as a vampire hunter. Who could ever do that??? From then on, she was Hot Mama Number One for me, ever and ever. I haven’t seen her much in other movies, but those two were enough to feed my testosterones the rest of my wimpy life.

(2) Celtics beat Cavs in NBA Eastern Conference semifinals 2010. This was more than a minor upset. It was the old guard versus the young turks, taped ankles and slow-healing sprains versus youth and speed, one-for-the-road vs. one-and-done. You don’t have to be a fan to know that it symbolized everything that was old world against the rampaging future. And guess what? The old guys won. Is it still a wonder why this was significant for us? Yes, there is a God.

(3) LeBron James is a bigger jerk than Kobe Bryant. (sorry for the bluntness) Yes, the media sometimes forces us to assume two personas. The public persona is that PC one, saying what people want to hear and being the humble, effacing and charitable persons that we will never be. Both LBJ and KB8 have through the years become experts at doing this, but the desire for a bigger media market, the desire to become a one-man show (which is not far from the truth), the wish to evolve into a sports icon without actually having accomplished anything yet have exposed LBJ into what he is : a perennial superstar who hasn’t proven himself, and who is in danger of ending his career as such. Because of No.2 above, LeBron was recently exposed. We thought Kobe was bad, but LeBron actually made him look like a good guy. Grabe.

If you’ve read this far, you either have too much time on your hands, or we have imposed beyond reason. Having said this, we will thank personally all those who greeted us, but for now we are grateful for having remembered our special day : QueenHedy, DocGerrySo, SonnyTan, StefVictorino, PilarAngSi, EuniceCobankiat, ArleneAyuste, FranciscoManaig, AlmaCastroFerreros, SimonSy, JhunMontenegro, RowelBarba, MalouMoyco, AllanRefuerzo, EvelynSyYu, CoraRosales, CesarComia, DianeReyes, JeffLu, RichardYao, MaryAnnReyes, FranzDiosana, VeronicaUy, AlanDeniega, JocelynChanTan, ImeeSy, CarolNgSy, LucylindaLee, Tedditudes, EasterBocoboMendonez, BoyetteSanDiego, GraceChuaTan, ValAsiddao, RonaldDylanConcepcion, DennisSy, SusanSilverio, CarmiSio, JaimeChan, RodneyDiola, JoelYuvienco, TomAgustin, InengMontenegroAgustin, DocMarciaBautista, IreneChua, AnjAgcaoiliRoman, MaribethAngWong, MelanieLim, TessSyChingkaw, MaryAnneOngCarranceja, CatherineViClausen, JoeyFlora, BabesNoriega and VickySuarez.

If I have left out anyone, a thousand pardons and I will make up for it manyfold in the future.

Mabuhay kayong lahat!

YLB NOel

YLBnoel.wordpress.com

noel0514.multiply.com

http://www.nzpinoy.com

Note to JeffLu : Deconstructing Death & All His Friends


[ Notes : Thanks loads for the Fujian tea, BroSonny, acknowledgments again for the insane jokes, RobinTong and maraming salamat for the early greeting, QueenHedy ! ]

Dear Jeff :

I’m not sure if the news I received in the e-group from BrotherKirby almost two weeks ago was correct, especially since no one in the batch has responded, at least electronically. Far away from home, most likely I’m just unaware that all who wished to pay their respects to your mom just went to The Sanctuarium without much fanfare.

Regardless, may I just belatedly express my deepest sympathies for your loss.

It would probably not be an exaggeration to say that your mom was a remarkable individual, capable of so much love and being loved, that you had no choice but to love her back. Anyone who raised a fine kabatch like yourself and your sister must have been a wonderful person, and I wouldn’t mind betting my bottom peso on that.

I confess I can’t readily relate to the twin events of profound sadness in your life, especially with one coming so soon after the other. I can only begin to imagine the void it must have created in your heart. The weird thing about Death (do you mind if I capitalize it? Seems a little more respectful that way), in my dyslexic mind, is that despite its consuming inevitability, starkness and finality, so many of us put off thinking about, dwelling on, or even planning for it.

Not just because it by its nature is not a pleasant subject (who wants to discuss Death? As in Oh, by the way I almost died today? Really? What a coincidence, I thought about dying naman ) but because human nature detests thinking of tomorrow’s complications at the expense of today’s pleasures, no matter how ill-advised, prudent or reckless.

Not even the promise of justice and retribution in the afterlife that all religions dramatize is enough to make us prepare for this event.

Circa 1970s, and on the far end of the island where my mother was born near Masbate, I saw my then 101-year old great-grandmother only once before she died, bless her soul, and between incoherent lapses and ponderous pauses, she told me about being a young girl in Rizal’s generation, the cruelties of so many economic, military and cultural upheavals, and last but not the least, how she missed smoking.

Through it all, the most urgent question my naive toddler’s mind wanted to ask her was : Are you afraid to die Mamay? I realized though that it was unneeded. Her exuberance as well as the palpable relief with which she faced the end of her earthly existence was for me, enough sign that hers was a life well lived.

But enough of my rambling.

Even when he is so close, breathing down our collective necks we deny Death’s presence, sometimes especially when the end is near. Why is that? Is it because since Death is a thing that can’t be truly felt except as a first-person experience, we can’t comprehend it until our own final moments in this world?

Which brings me coincidentally to another aspect of human existence that is difficult to describe unless it is actually experienced first hand (a redundancy).

Do you agree kabatch that Love, like Death is by nature a journey of the self ? You can read about it all you want till your eyes water, but it is more or less undefinable unless and until you’ve fallen in love.

As always, I hope you excuse my rambling as a haphazard and disjointed expression of sympathy Jeff. But one last thought I have while thinking of your mom is that, happily, she gains the eternal pleasure of rejoining your dad. I can’t help thinking of Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve in Somewhere in Time, the last scene, or Mel Gibson and his character’s wife, the execution scene in Braveheart, and, not the least, Leonardo de Caprio and Kate Winslet, the “flying” scene in Titanic. Choose from anyone of these and you capture how I see them now. Mushy, but effective.

God bless you and your family always.

YLB NOel

Rescratching the 7 Year Itch


[ Notes : Sincerest condolences to the family of JeffLu on their loss, many thanks to Mr RobinTong for the forwarded jokes and emails, to tse to Mr RodneyDiola for the kind comments, and a special thank you & acknowledgment to a special couple that was kind enough to share their story with us below. ] 
 
 Dear kabatch and friends :
 
DESPITE our fragmented civil status and sometimes hilariously unreliable state of mental health (relatively speaking) it pleasantly surprises us that occasionally couples come to us for advice. 
 
Don’t laugh. Early this century one muggy p.m, a childless couple that lived a few flats down¬† approached us and asked Koya paano ba makashoot na shoot kung gusto naming makabuo?¬† Seemed that the hubby & wifey had been trying for more than a year but had yet to hit the jackpot.
 
Noting that they had been cohabiting (and presumably practicing some form of contraception) a while back, and having been told that their form of control was all-natural, we told them matter-of-factly, kung ano’ng ginagawa nyo nun para makaiwas ng baby, baligtarin nyo lang ang skedyul nyo ngayon.¬†
 
Believe or not, childless couple took this tip to heart and they now have three, count’em three kids. All born within a year of each other.
 
Now here come composites of conversations (oral, written and electronic) between us and a couple who separately (they are both friends of ours) solicited our worldly experience regarding couple trouble :
 
ANGEL sez : NOel, I don’t know anymore if I love my husband. When he was courting, everyone approved of him, he was the perfect gentleman, and never tried to convince me to be intimate until of course after we were married.¬† Ideal sya, in other words.¬† It’s been 15 years since, and while he has been sweet and supportive, there’s no more spice to the relationship.¬† To compound matters, I’ve met someone who I think I’ve fallen for, and while I realize I need to break up with him, I need to do it in person (he’s overseas), and I don’t think hubby understands this. Without judging me, please give me some guidance.
 
LUCKY sez : I don’t care if she takes advantage Kuya, the fact is I love her as much as I did the day we wed (he found out about her guy recently), he may or may not be deserving of her love, but the fact is, Angel has too much to lose by leaving her family and chasing the guy.¬† My main focus right now is saving our marriage by all means and if this means wooing her back from scratch I’ll do it.¬† I know I’ve lots of failures and shortcomings but I want to be the man she thought she married.¬† Can you spare some words of wisdom for our sakes?
 
               **               **               **
 
Let me first convey how flattered I am albeit in sad circumstances that you’ve turned to me for advice, gosh knows I’m an unlikely source.¬† Be that as it may, let me do my best :
 
LOVE and the resultant relationship that blossoms between two people is fraught almost from the very beginning by the inevitability of compromise.  Without going into too much detail, a thousand and one details that used to be resolved by one decision-maker become the compulsory agenda of the meeting of the minds of lovers committed to a life together.
 
Whatever the level of compromise, as long as you know that the road ahead will continue to be full of challenges and that marriage or commitment remains a journey and not a destination, partners in a relationship will continue to keep their perspective fresh.
 
Seems to me that at least one of you is confusing cause for effect. 
 
I’m not sure Angel if the two events happened nearly the same time, but just because you fell in love with another person doesn’t mean you’ve lost the love for Lucky at this point.¬† Could it be that the perceived effect, your falling in love, might be the cause instead?¬† Inasmuch as that involves a judgment on my part, I’ll leave that hanging awhile.
 
And just because, Lucky, you’re going all-out to win her back and save your marriage, doesn’t mean everything will go hunky-dory and your desired outcome will follow.¬† Not the best intentions will always produce the best results, and believe me when I¬†say I hope I’m wrong.
 
I’m not trying to discourage you, love is an intangible quantity that never falls out of the equation in deriving the calculus of marriage.¬† But if you want to make a rational, complete and worthy attempt at understanding the foundations of your marriage. you must be ready to discover the prospect of its demise.
 
It seems trite, but if you rediscover the things that made you fall in love with each other, assess yourselves if you can find it within you to make those things part of you again, I wouldn’t be surprised if you can ignite the smallest spark that survives in your relationship, though it doesn’t seem that bright now.¬† What have you got to lose?
 
Before I bore you to death even before you decide on what to do, may I just touch on one last issue : Angel, wouldn’t going all the way to the guy’s side just to tell him you don’t want to see him anymore kind of defeat the purpose of your announcement?¬† If your desire to sever any romantic ties with him is your sincere objective, are you not risking too much by seeing him personally?¬† Just my two cents.
 
Hanggang dito na lang, thanks for your faith in our counsel.
 
Thanks for reading !
NOel