remembering Tita Lily

until this post I had overlooked this precious pic of Tita Lily with my four bros 4th Brother, 2nd Brother, Eldest Brother and 4th Brother.  Thanks and acknowledgment to for the pic!

until this post I had overlooked this precious pic of Tita Lily with my four bros 4th Brother, 2nd Brother, Eldest Brother and 5th Brother. Love you brothers and love you forever Tita Lily! Thanks and acknowledgment to for the pic!

(Note : Still the last day of the month of undas today, and I remember with fondness a most remarkable person who died May last year, an aunt for the ages, Tita Lily. )

MY earliest, earliest memories of Tita Lily were of her helping pay the monthly rent to our apartment landlord, which was way back ago, probably the late 1960s.  She had been married for some time and no longer lived with us but I’m nearly certain she was still helping my dad (her bro) and mom with the rent, having lived together for some time before she got married.  Long after that, and till the day she died, she kept my folks and bros as part of her immediate family, for more than four decades.

She would help send us to school, always made sure we had happy birthdays, happy holidays and happy school breaks, never forgot a birthday anniversary or other milestone, and frequently asked at least one of us to tag along during her annual overseas trips.  My parents were always grateful, and always made sure we thanked Tita Lily and showered her with gratitude.  Because she had many other siblings and many other loved ones in her circle, multiply this feel-good festival by around two dozen and you get an idea of how highly people thought of her.

But Tita Lily’s charity only started at home.  At the law office where she worked, in her neighborhood and larger community, and particularly her parish church, little acts of generosity became part of her regular routine.  Do you know how with most of us, every time you or I enjoy a happy thought, we smile or hum a tune?  Well, every time my aunt had a happy thought, she did something for someone.

She bought a hungry person lunch.  She visited someone sick in the hospital.  She sent a poor student a monthly allowance.  Or she remembered to send someone a birthday gift.  She did it so well, and it became such a part of her thoughts and actions that it inevitably became a part of her character to be a remarkably generous person, the way Stephen Covey says it so well:

Sow a thought; reap an action.  Sow an action; reap a habit.  Sow a habit; reap a character.  Sow a character, reap a destiny. 

It didn’t hurt that her focus on work and career success allowed her to become a person of means.  But Tita Lily was the type of person who would have been uber generous if she was wealthy, if she was of moderate means, or if she was poor.  For the entirety of my life, long before, and long after, that’s how I saw her.

I say long after because long after I’m gone, children, grandchildren and probably even great-grandchildren will continue to benefit from her generosity.  The fruits of her compassion have been and will be paid forward years and years from now, far and wide, and to people she has loved, friends, acquaintances and those she had never met.  It gives me goose bumps to know that long after she has passed on, people will be telling their grandchildren about Tita Lily :  I am the man / woman today because of a woman who cared enough to send me to school, and who loved me even though she never knew me.  

That woman of course is Ms Lily B Yang.  Privileged to have known her, privileged to be her nephew, and privileged to have a life touched by her.  Missing you terribly Tita Lily!

intimate bedroom items bout Mahal & me

snoreHOPE I didn’t mislead you anywhere Ginoong / Binibining (Mr/Ms) Precious Reader, but what I meant to say was intimate facts around the bedroom that I have learned about myself and Mahal.  That’s better.  Now you wouldn’t toss a second look at a blog post with that title diba?  It’s just that over the last few years I have come to realize first that there is no familiarity built up that is more intense than one with a partner spouse or live-in boyfriend/girlfriend, all scruples of morality aside.

You burp, fart, pick your nose, do your number ones and number twos in front of each other, perform your bedtime rituals and morning ablutions without a second thought to the other’s presence.  Things you wouldn’t dream of doing in front of another human being you do regularly in front of your loved one.  What did he/she do to deserve such dubious entertainment, I ask?  Well, it’s one of the facts of life we accept when we take a person to share a bed, roof and life with.  You take the good and the bad, the sublime with the icky, everything in between, hope for the best, but actually expect the worst :

snoremanDM1211_468x337Snoring.  I’ve started with the singularly universal issue that many cohabitants live with (pun intended).  Either one of the pair snores, making sleeptime difficult if not miserable for the other, or in some cases both partners snore, in which case it’s a race to who gets to dreamland first, at the peril of the one left behind.   The reality in my case is that while I snore infinitely louder than my beloved, I can’t tolerate hearing her snore, even if she’s just a “moderate” snorer.  Our interim solution, until we consult a sleep or apnea specialist, is she very generously waits for me to fall asleep first (which isn’t hard) or failing that, I temporarily move to the next room and try to fall asleep there.  It’s not ideal I know, but it works.  I pity the creature, though, who happens to be in the bedroom when we’re both asleep and snoring our heads off.

choresChores.  The bedroom is the place where I do a little more than Mahal, and not in the naughty sense.  She vacuums most of the rest of the house, leaving me only the bedsides and surrounds to clean up.  I also make the bed and fill the water bottles on the side tables.  If I don’t do these token chores, I usually get in trouble, because it’s practically the only things expected of me outside of doing the dishes and taking out the rubbish, so I do the best I can.  On most days. 🙂

House rules.  No electronics, except the digital alarm with five-minute resets.  No reading material, unless I want a cranky, cantankerous and caustic bedmate who sleeps only in absolute darkness.  It’s been such a habit of hers that I’ve gotten used to sleeping in pitch dark now, not even a sliver of light from between the curtains or under the door.  And no sharing of pillows, particularly if you need pillows under your feet thighs or support for your back, which coincidentally I do.  In fact, the only thing we share on the bed is the duvet and a goodnight kiss before beddy-bye time.

thanks to for the pic!

thanks to for the pic!

And finally…  After all, it is the bedroom, where conjugal love and intimacy has been celebrated for as long as humans started seeking shelter from the elements, in a cave, up a tree, or what have you.  So whenever I want  a little more than the usual shuteye and Mahal isn’t too tired from the day’s work, I take extra pains to let her know I’m in the mood.  How to do it?  Taking a shower, taking pains to look and smell good, keeping the bedroom cleaner and tidier than usual, and most of all, kissing Mahal extra long and sensuously.  Of all the tricks, the last one seems to work well most and often.

But that’s just icing on the cake.  Night in and night out, it’s the companionship and the knowing that everytime you turn in, there’s someone beside you who, no matter how awful your day has been, kisses you and tells you, tomorrow will be a better day.  Thank God for that!


meet the parents

Bunso & Logan

Bunso & Logan

[ I’m sure they’ve seen the video below before, but it’s dedicated to Bunso and Logan!  And it’s the not main reason for this blog, but if after reading this if at least one parent can broaden his / her perspective on gays and gayness, particularly in connection with their kids, then this post would’ve been worth the typing.  Mabuhay po! ]

I hope Precious Reader doesn’t think that I’m making such a big deal about this.  After all, I’ve met Panganay’s girlfriend quite a few times over dinner without too much fanfare (although she is the first Kiwi in our family), and Ganda’s boyfriend, a Pinoy-as-bagoong twentysomething, has been in our flat several times since he was introduced to us.

***   ***   ***

But it’s no trifle when it’s your baby introducing his special someone, the baby that Bunso happens to be.  As far as I know it’s his first relationship, the first in his 19 years, he seems very fond of his special someone, and he absolutely insisted that we meet him before he returned to Australia for the holidays.

I would be less than candid if I didn’t tell you there was a bit of apprehension on the way, as you may have gathered from the pronouns and if you’ve heard me go on about Bunso before, that he has made no qualms about being gay in his sexuality and relationships and it has only made goodwife Mahal and me, and of course his mom and stepdad, prouder than we already are as his parents.  Given his courage and forthrightness, we can do no less.

***     ***     ***

The dinner date last Saturday almost didn’t happen, what with Mahal filling in for a sick colleague on a weekend shift and me hoping to catch some zzz’s after a week of mixed shifts.  But in the end we loved Bunso too much to disappoint him, and of course we were more than a bit curious to see Bunso’s beau.  Besides at least Panganay or Ganda (or maybe both of them) would be tagging along, just as curious to see how we would react to the match.

Chinese goes well with anything and so Chinese it was, complete with noodles, dumplings and fried rice, staples you need to get the juices flowing.  And we needed the juices flowing just to be able to keep up with Logan (not his real name, but it’s close), who was just as eager as we were to make a good first impression.  He ticked all the right boxes for our Bunso.  He was (is) handsome, intelligent, well-spoken, charming, and as polite as any young man could be.  He just happened to be as gay as our son, which obviously suited Bunso just fine.

We wanted to make him feel comfortable with us, even though it was the first time that we were witnessing Bunso truly in love, but on the other hand we didn’t want to appear as trying too hard to be agreeable, as we also wanted to get to know him as he was and not just because we were Bunso’s folks.

***     ***     ***


Turned out Panganay (who was there obviously) balanced it out, what with his willingness to ask honest questions in the midst of a politically correct family dinner.  Were Logan and Bunso alright with the fact that bigots and homophobes were lurking just around the corner to give them a hard time?  How did Logan deal with the mentality that compared with Kiwi society, Australians are considered more racially intolerant?  (Logan is Australian.)  All credit to him, he dealt with such questions with grace and good humor.  You can’t please everybody.  And I can’t apologize for my people.  But I can get out of my stereotype as positively as I can.  

You don’t need to be gay to appreciate his words.

Before we knew it, it was time to go, but it did make me cringe a little bit (mentally) to see my son and his boyfriend kiss and cuddle, hold hands and complete each other’s sentences, and gaze at each other with goo-goo eyes.  Panganay rolled his eyes more than a few times, but I knew what he was thinking, which was exactly what I was thinking : if he can make Bunso happy, then I’m good.

And that, my friends, was that.

adjusting my FB profile to reality

blockHEY GUYS, smile if you’ve done one, more or all of the following :

You’ve just come home from a party or event, and the first thing you do, even before peeling off your street clothes, gathering or collecting the accumulated miscellany of your long day, is feed your memory card / smartphone to your computer so you can show off / edit / select your precious pics to your Facebook friends.

You love a post about an ideology / life philosophy / lifehack so much that you replace your current Facebook profile pic with said post, letting the whole world know that such philosophy is now imprinted into your DNA.

You are “tagged” in a photo, meaning such photo gets posted in your Facebook account / page, but such photo is unflattering to you, meaning it doesn’t show off your good side, and you look like your eyes are half closed, your mouth is partially open or you look like you weren’t ready for the picture-taking, whatever.  You unceremoniously “untag” yourself and banish such post, however well-meaning, from page,  hmmmp.

Wow, I need my sunglasses for all those sparkling ivories and nodding heads.  You too Mom?

Even if you’re only vaguely familiar with the above practices, like me you’ve probably been overtaken by events.  The day when our social network avatars have become as important as our actual selves in manifesting our identity to the outside world is not coming, it has already arrived.  Posting pictures of yourself and your social circle, recording the events of your life via your Facebook page, and receiving updates from everyone who matters to you has become an indispensable part of your life.

Jumping right in to my topic du jour, how close to reality is my Facebook page as an accurate representation of myself?  More to the point, how far is how I want to be perceived as a person (as shown in my FB account) from how I am in the real world?  I realize there is never gonna be a definitive answer to this, however I would probably be less than honest with myself if I didn’t try.  I know that you, Precious Reader, may or may not appreciate what I’m trying to say since we may not even be Facebook friends, but I have a funny feeling that maybe just maybe you can relate.

one of our happy gatherings with Panganay and Ganda, Bunso was working so couldn't be in the pic.

one of our happy gatherings with Panganay and Ganda, Bunso was working so couldn’t be in the pic.

doting father lots of my FB posts are pictures of me and Mahal (my wife) with my three kids Panganay, Ganda and Bunso, giving me the appearance of a hands-on parent who’s a constant presence in their lives.   The truth is, with their school, work and significant others, I hardly see them more than twice a month, but I’m cool with that. After all they are already young adults trying to get a foothold in the dog-eat-dog world of New Zealand migrants.  However, when we do get together, Mahal and I try as much as possible to (1) get all three of them together, (2) indulge in a meal that reminds us best of home, and the easiest way to do that is to go Chinese, and (3) enjoy as much quality time as we can in the window of opportunity available.  Result: I usually post pics of me and the kids in a haze of gastronomic content, all smiles and ready to share our most recent experiences in Windy Welly.

any time there's a family gathering in Manila, I get to see it through FB pics.  This is a birthday celebration attended by Mom and her siblings.

any time there’s a family gathering in Manila, I get to see it through FB pics. This is a birthday celebration attended by Mom and her siblings.

dutiful son – because I have a brother who’s also a professional photog, whenever the olds celebrate another milestone back home, he makes sure to tag me in the pics, and of course I gratefully comment on how the happy faces make me feel I’m right there with them.  I do it every time I can, so my page is filled with pics of Dad, Mom, aunts, uncles cuzzies and everyone who makes the time to celebrate life, longevity and the chance to spend such with loved ones.  FB friends tell me I’m so gung-ho with family, but I immediately tell them that I’m the lucky one, being able to carve out a life in the land of promise and seeing my relatives enjoy the fruits of their labor in the old country.

a typical Saturday breakfast. It's the only day of the week Mahal and I are both off work.  Thanks Mahal!

a typical Saturday breakfast. It’s the only day of the week Mahal and I are both off work. Thanks Mahal!

lucky hubby – everytime you see pics showcasing a Pinoy breakfast spread, a smart new shirt, an unexpected treat or a trip to town, it’s the consequence of a generous helping of thoughtfulness by wife Mahal who feeds me, clothes me, brings me to work when it’s too cold to bike and tucks me in when I’ve got an early shift ahead.  This is the part of my FB profile that is truly accurate, and I can never show enough appreciation for my better half, what better way than to do it with my online avatar?

Sugar Crush!

Sugar Crush!

Facebook gamer – this is one aspect of my cyber self that I can’t avoid showing.  As part of the deal using free addictive FB games, all the levels reached, points scored and milestones achieved get posted on my page, usually indicating the inordinate length of time I spend on Candy Crush Saga, Word Battle and Riddle Stones.  I think it’s a fair exchange considering that I don’t need to visit any arcade and don’t waste any coins on mindless, compulsive activity that has become commonplace and socially acceptable in our world today.

Like it or not, we are now perceived by our postings on our favorite social networking sites, as they have become an essential part of modern existence.  How accurately they reflect our actual selves is a matter of bias, profile management and ultimately our glorious vanity.  Thanks for reading!