Monthly Archives: June 2011

Shared Home

What would you feel if you slept at three in the morning only to be awaken at eight forty-five with the announcement, “Umabot na po sa critical level ang La Mesa Dam. Maghanda-handa kayo. Maraming salamat po.

My sister and I woke up in a snap. We were really lost. Actually, we were one of the unfortunate victims of the infamous typhoon Ketsana or locally known as typhoon Ondoy. It submerged our apartment-type home with water reaching my neck…on our second floor. The six-hour rain brought by that typhoon equaled a month worth of rain which is enough to make all dams and rivers nearby spill over the Tullahan River which was just in front of our house. But with my then 17-year stay in our abode, we never experience such tragedy. Heck, we never experience flood until that painful 26th of September 2009. Less than two years after, here comes another typhoon named Meari or locally known as Falcon.

Honestly, we were all puzzled on what are we going to do in our house especially my sister and I. During the typhoon Ondoy, we were both absent in our home. I was with my father because I had classes in the morning and he has to go to a funeral service of his cousin who died abroad. We both didn’t reach our destination because of the humungous rainfall of that typhoon that even if our windshield wipers are moving like crazy, Daddy still has very little visibility on the streets and we reached SM North EDSA instead and stayed there until the nine in the evening. My sister has a little sideline in a review center for high school students who want to aim a good school for college and thus she stayed there until we fetched her that night. Hence, three people remained at our house—my mother, my brother and our house helper—that stayed on the roofs with our neighbors for seven to nine hours bringing almost nothing with them.

My mother did not take any chances and started putting her important documents and paraphernalia on the highest places of our house. I did the same too but I was so unsure with what is going to happen.  She also called up our uncle in West Fairview to fetch our Suzuki APV (nicknamed ‘Doraemon’ because it was colored blue and it was two-toned with white) which was severely damage by the typhoon Ondoy’s flood and debris. Believe it our not, our beloved Doraemon were only returned May 10 of this year. It was a long story and it even involved an administrative case with Department of Trade and Industry against the company who was fixing it so we wouldn’t want it to suffer shortly after arriving home a month ago so it’s the priority. Anyway, my sister followed me in placing our things in higher places while amazingly, my brother and our house helper are not worried at all.

Hindi na mauulit yan,” my brother quipped as he surf channels on our television.

Suddenly, strong gushes of wind blew together with the falling of those infuriated raindrops. My mind was spinning. Is this serious? I looked down our marbled floor and recalled how it was veiled with inches of reeking muck which was initially impossible to remove because of its thickness. I also remembered how our house looked at that time. It was as if an ogre picked it up, shook it uncontrollably, placed soil inside, dipped it in the sea and returned it to its original place but buried the front part of it with debris. Everything was a mess. Everything was stinking. Everything was broken including our hearts.

It’s not mainly because you lost a lot of things because of the typhoon but it’s more of you lost a sense of security. Your house where you feel you are most protected, secured and comfortable was suddenly ruined. You don’t know where to go anymore. Nothing felt safe in this world. That’s when I realized the importance of a home to a person.  It doesn’t matter how you sucked on your daily recitation in school or how your boss cursed you for incompetency in work or how many hours you spent on traffic that day because of flash floods or on-going repair or vehicles clashing on the main roads as long as you reach your house, your little kingdom, safely.

We had no place to stay but our uncle’s place in West Fairview. They live practically on a mansion so we were welcomed there. But it’s still more at ease eating on your own dining table even if it’s smaller and sleeping on your own bed even if the bed is comfier. It took us five whole weeks before I slept on our house again.  That was the longest time that I’ve been away from our abode but it couldn’t be helped. Our house needed major repairs.

Tumaas na po muli ang tubig sa La Mesa Dam. 80 po ang limit at ngayon nasa 92 na. Wag po tayo magpakakampante.

I snapped back to the present after hearing the next announcement which came after the first one. I hurriedly took a bath, packed our things, lifted the television downstairs up to our room and prayed. I called our uncle’s driver again to pick us up to their house.

Well, to make the long story short, the announcement was exaggerated. La Mesa Dam did overflow but it didn’t even reached 85 meters. But I’m not angry with them. Prevention is better than cure and Falcon is so unpredictable. The rainfall varied from time to time. Sometimes, we already felt relaxed for not having rain for an hour then we would realized that we spoke too soon as the rain plummet down tirelessly.

But I guess Falcon is not meant to be another Ondoy. Falcon is a mere warning from Mother Nature that we must continue our mutual vow after Ondoy on cleaning up our environment, improving our greenery and recycling which most of us have failed to do.

It’s a joint obligation that ALL of us must do. By this, we could see how people are connected in one way or another. We must also be ready at any time there is a typhoon brewing after all, our world is our shared home that we must always protect and appreciate. Thank God for sparing us this time but now let us do our part.

What have we done to the world? Look what we’ve done.  

Did you ever stop to notice the crying Earth the weeping shores?

—Earth Song by Michael Jackson.
How appropriate. Your legend and song lives on.

Lessons the World Must Know from my Father

I find it noteworthy how seemingly quiet Father’s Day is compared to Mother’s Day. It has always been that way and probably it will forever be that way. But why and how come?

One of the biggest blessings of my life is having both my parents in my life. We live on the same roof and we worked together as family with my sister and brother. It is cool having a family you can turn to always because no matter how broken you are in your professional life; they are always there to support you no matter what. When I was a child, I take my family for granted but when I grew up, I realized that having a complete family is harder than it seems. More often than not, the family crumbles when the so-called “haligi ng tahanan” collapses.

As I see it, there are more and more men who are having children but are not worthy enough being called their father. It’s a sad and bitter truth. After a hot, steamy night filled with romance and lust, a woman who is with her child from its conception is most likely to stick with her child forever. But it’s different when it comes to men. They could easily run and go on with their lives. They may deny the child which is the most hurtful to a child. Ludicrously, there are a lot of single mothers today were greeted with “Happy Father’s Day” for singlehandedly raising their children out of wedlock. It’s as if today was the extension of Mother’s Day.

Or sometimes, even if a man and a woman are married, separation may happen after the birth of a child. For a woman, her child matters most in this world. From the moment that she gives birth to her child, her world revolves around it. A man, who is used with all attention given to him by his wife, may feel jealously over the child. Also, I know very few fathers who are willing to change diapers of their child or change their body clock according to the cries of their child. The sexual needs were also not given much to him anymore by the very tired wife who has both professional and household work in her hands. In other countries that have divorce, this is unfortunately, one of the grounds of “irreconcilable differences”. Men cannot work on their roles as a father to his child.

But there are times when men got passed through infant rearing but still developed problematic behavior in the family. The man who is macho, tough and all is always expected to work for the pecuniary needs of the family. However, a child needs more and more things for himself as he grows up. When he was an infant, he mainly needs milk formula and diapers and shortly, he must eat at least three full meals a day. Then, he started going to preschool then grade school, high school and college. Tuition fees increases tremendously through the years, especially if we are talking about tertiary education. A good father must provide all these things plus payment for bills, gas, clothing, medical expenses and books.

However, once he could not, trouble begins. Men has a hard time on admitting their wrongs and shortcomings so they either work extra longer and harder which in effect, they have no time for family anymore. And remember, since men generally live for a shorter period of time compared to women, some even die overworked. Some resort to vices to forget their shortcomings (which are not necessary pecuniary in nature) like beer, cigarettes and worst of all, other women (and viola—the creation of family number two, three, and so on and so forth). Some even blame their family for their misfortune and hence, domestic violence begins to some family. That’s why, it’s no wonder the world celebrates less of Father’s Day.

I think the men of this world must learn a bit from my father, Atty. Angelo G. Ayuyao. He grew up without a father because my grandfather, who was then a mayor of our little town in Pampanga, was taken by the militants when Daddy was three and there was nothing heard of him ever since. Of course, he is not a perfect father like he could be irritable at times especially now that he is more than sixty years old. But it’s still a wonder why he such a wonderful and topnotch father. But it would all boils down to character and maturity and his SELFLESSNESS as a man. We are not spoiled, he refuses to give what we wants but he always provides what we really need. He always thinks of our needs before his own. For example, everyone loves promotion but my Daddy refuses it. People may find it strange because promotion means money, right? Daddy agrees with that but he believes that there are things that money cannot buy like health and family time. He assures that he gives time for us. Even if he is sleepy, when I want to talk to him, he gets up and talks to me. When we fell sick and must be hospitalized for days, he uses his leave and he is at our side until we got discharged from the hospital. When he promises to wait for you, he will even if it takes you an extra hour or so to finish your tasks. He forgives easily, too.

It is also rare seeing Daddy buy things for himself. Most of his clothes were gifts. Also, if he is buying personal properties, it’s usually on sale. A 50% discount or more draws the biggest smile on his face. But when it’s for other persons, he is the most gallant. He taught me to treat my friends whenever I can like he does. I think his character when it comes to money was derived from his ethnical backgrounds. While both my paternal grandparents are both Spanish-Chinese mestizos, my grandfather was a Kapampangan and my grandmother was an Ilocana. But whatever the reason is, he is loved by many. He has a gift of making people very loyal to him. I never heard anyone really say negative things about my Daddy except he is bad in math and he has problem with directions at times which I unfortunately, inherited both.

However, I’ll forever be proud being his daughter. Definitely, one of the reasons that I want to be a lawyer is him and his belief and mission that in our little ways, we must deliver justice to everyone. I love you, Daddy! I’m always thankful for having you as a Dad so everyday is Happy Father’s Day for us. The world would really become a better place if there are more men like you.

Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.

Lindol

Ngayong araw na ito, napagtanto ko na ang tunay na nakamamatay ay hindi ang lindol kundi ang mga “aftershocks” nito. Ang lindol kasi minsan may mga badya. Kahit hindi mo alam kung kalian eksaktong magaganap ito ay puede namang malaman ng mas maaga dahil sa panahon ngayon, lahat na halos ng bagay ay may kasagutan dahil sa agham.

Kamakailan lang noong nagkaroon ng matinding lindol sa bansang Hapon. Isang minuto bago ang lindol, tumunog ang alarma na narinig lahat ng taong masasakop ng lindol kaya naman maraming nailigtas na buhay dahil dito. Sanay ang mga Hapones sa lindol. Kahit batang-bata pa lang ang isang Hapones ay naturuan na ito ng mga dapat gawin kapag may lindol kaya naman kahit pagkalakas-lakas ng lindol na tumama sa kanila, alam nila kung saan pupunta ng walang pag-aalinlangan. Kaya naman sa mundong ito, kung may mga taong unang mabubuhay dahil sa lindol, malamang, una ang mga Hapones dito.

Subalit, kahit gaano kahanda ang mga Hapon, libo-libo ang namatay, nawawala at sugatan. Hindi lindol ang pumatay sa kanila kundi ang malalaking alon na hindi nila inaasahang magiging mahigit sa tatlumpung talampakan ang taas. Noong panahon rin na yun, may mga “aftershocks” na naganap rin. Malalakas rin ito at may mga taong nasawi rin dito. Akala kasi nila, tapos na ang pinakamatinding dagok kaya ligtas na sila. Kawawa ang bansang Hapon. Ang mga “aftershocks” na ito ay magpapatuloy pa hindi lang raw sa mga susunod na buwan pero malamang raw hanggang sa mga susunod na taon. Kung kailan ito hihinto ay wala pa ring makapagsabi hanggang ngayon.

Ganoon rin sa buhay. Akala mo minsan, pag naganap na ang mga pinakamasasakit na pangyayari, ay nakaligtas ka na. Pag may nakasakit sa iyo o may nawalang taong mahalaga sa puso mo, puedeng umiyak ka buong gabi at paggising mo sa umaga, masasabi mong handa ka na muli magpatuloy pa sa buhay. Kaya lang, may mga pagkakataon na bigla kang napapatigil at nahuhuli ng mga tanong na hindi nasagot, mga luha at galit na hindi pa nailalabas at mga salitang hindi pa nasasambit. Ngayong gabi, naalala na naman kita. Hindi pa pala kita nabubura sa aking alaala. Sabi ko naman sa iyo na mas matalino ako sa inaakala mo kaya nakita ko na ang mga signos na may mali na sa ating pagkakaibigan pero hanggang sa huli, umasa ako na maisasaayos natin ito hanggang naganap na ang lindol sa buhay ko nung napag-isipan mo na umalis na. Madali kong nasabi nung una na balewala ka lang at masaya na ako na tila winakasan mo ang ating ugnayan basta-basta. Ngunit ngayong gabi, nasabi ko sa sarili ko na gusto kita makita at gusto ko magtanong sa iyo kung bakit at nais kong makipag-ayos sa ngalan ng ating pagkakaibigan. Nais ko rin malaman kung bakit napakabilis mong iniwan ang lahat at kung ano bang nagawa ko sa iyo paraw gawin mo yun.

Pero naghihintay naman ako ng sagot na hindi naman darating, hindi ba?

Hindi ko alam kung hanggang kailan magkakaroon ka ng “aftershocks” sa buhay ko. Ang alam ko lang ay itinuring kitang mahalaga sa buhay ko kaya naman nagbago ang buhay ko mula sa lindol na iyon. Lahat ng bagay may katapusan kaya naman lalabanan ko itong mga “aftershocks” na ito hanggang sa isang araw magiging alaala na lang ang lahat. At tulad ng bansang Hapon, ginagawa ko uli ang lahat para mag-umpisa uli habang umaasa para sa mas mainam na bukas.

The Twentieth Year on being “Ate” Maica

If you don’t understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child.

—-Linda Sunshine

My life turned differently twenty years ago. I was only exactly three years old and four weeks yet I have been through a lot. When I was born, I was shortly bombarded with criticisms from my aunts. One aunt commented that my nose is “sapad na sapad” or very flat. The other whispered to my Dad, “Angelo, you must save money as early as now. You might need to have your daughter’s nose operated when she gets older.” My paternal grandmother was even asked if she thinks her newborn granddaughter is pretty and she replied with, “Well…she’s charming.” It was a very tough first day on earth but I survived it.

If you really known me since I was a child, you would most likely say that I never changed. I’m talkative, bubbly and friendly as long as I could remember. When I turned one year old, we were living in Cubao, Quezon City when suddenly leftists group headed by Gringo Honasan wants to overthrow the Aquino government. Bombs flew very near our apartment and everyone was scared to death except the little old me. According to my parents’ and nanny’s story, I was dancing and singing all the time they were very much confused on where to take me for shelter. Probably, I thought that there was a party or it was New Year’s Day. It did not bother me at all. After a year, the Great Luzon earthquake occurred. It also did not bother the little old me. I was still singing and dancing under the table where they kept me. I probably thought that it was fun feeling our apartment dancing as well.

Almost a year later, I saw my greatest challenge yet. I saw her behind that glass. There was this baby girl in her crib surrounded by other baby boys. She was sleeping. A little later, my pediatrician said told my mother, “Mas maganda [ang anak niyo] ngayon.” And I was like, “Oh, alright…she’s prettier and you’re so bald.” After a few days, we bought her home. Her name was Lea Dianne otherwise known as Le-Anne.

And that is how I obtained the first “title” before my name. From that day on, I’m someone’s Ate Maica. Today, fifth day of June 2011, I celebrate my 20th year of bearing that title.

My mother said that she did not see me having manifestations of jealousy of having a younger sister after being an only child for three years however she is annoyed how we fight all the time. It was not clear why we always fight but it was clear that it wasn’t easy growing up with her. Le-Anne is a quiet child. She’s used in playing alone and she seems to ignore me when I was a baby. She’s a picky eater and she sleeps all the time. She’s my opposite in a way because I’m really an outspoken and curious girl. I eat whatever too and it’s a big chore having to put me to sleep because I just love being awake playing. There are several petty reasons why we fight and it’s either I was seeking for her attention and she ignored me to death; or she destroys my toy and did not bother saying sorry; or I bother her while sleeping or playing for no reason at all. Our petty arguments grew more and more intense as we grow older. Sometimes we were given knives by our nannies so that we could just “kill each other”. Of course, that’s the time where we would stop but there are very few instances when I am so willing to stab her.  She’s cranky, short-tempered and no fun.

I questioned every day that we became sisters.

Probably being a sister to another is the hardest relationship in the world. You choose your friends and you choose your spouse but you can never choose your own siblings. It is permanent and no matter what happens, you’ll always be one’s sibling no matter how oil and water you two can be. That was a bit unfair if you think about it. You could easily sever friendship and by court action you can separate a spouse no matter how close your relationships with them was. However, there is no remedy when you are siblings. No matter how annoying your sibling may be or no matter how far apart you two may be, you’ll always be siblings.

But fate proved me wrong. It was so cool having her in my life. When we outgrew our childish ways of thinking, we realized that we are each other’s best friend. When there’s no one else to turn to, she’s always there to listen and accept you for who you are. It’s also fun bullying our younger brother together. You may do her wrong over and over again but she’s always there to forgive you over and over, too. It’s also wonderful seeing her save her gift money right away and spend it months later for her much-awaited, “sisters’ day out”.  She’ll even be on your side even if she knows that you’re already wrong. Yes, we still fight, but there is no such thing as a perfect relationship and we know that we are both born as very ‘competitive’ individuals.

God must have loved me a lot for giving her to me every day. On your 20th birthday, my dear sister, I just want to affirm my love and gratitude for you.  I want to say that there is no friend in the world better than you.

And there is no sister for me that could ever be better than you.

Let’s have more happy days together! 🙂

"Having a sister is like having a best friend you can't get rid of. You know whatever you do, they'll still be there." ---Amy Li