Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak. Whispers the oe’r
fraught heart and bids it break. ~William Shakespeare


Picking up the pieces

As we as a nation try to salvage what bit of dignity of we can still salvage on the failed operation of the police, the failure of the government of Noynoy Aquino and the wanton disregard of some irresponsible members of the media for the safety of the hostages, we should also examine how we as Filipinos dealt with the situation and conducted ourselves. Yes, the incompetence of the police, corruption and government and perhaps the arrogant demeanor of some media outfits are so routine to us that we’ve accepted them as a fact of life and part and parcel of being Filipino but at the end of the day, we must not allow these so-called realities cloud our ability to feel compassion – and more importantly to show this feeling of sadness and grief outwardly to those who are really hurting.

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And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln

Butch turned 51 years old today. He is two years younger than me. As in all birthdays in my family, I celebrate it with food. The more we praise and celebrate life, the more there is in life to celebrate. This time around, I feel bad for waking up late and not preparing a special menu as I used to do in the past before my life became so busy. I love that he did not complain though. He even bought his own birthday cake for lunch. It makes me think that birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake. (kidding!)

We spent the afternoon at the resting place of our beloved son watching the pretty blue dragonflies hovering nearby as well as the white-speckled butterfly that fluttered by the flowers on the basket. Just watching the wonders of nature was enough joy.

Earlier, I bought bright orange and pink flowers to brighten our living and dining room. I added a pale violet orchid plant to add the final touch on my antique writing table. He loved the flower arrangement and I hope that made up for my laziness today.

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Arriving in Manila as a tourist in another country and to hear deaths of tourists in my own country was just so sad and shocking.

I just arrived from Kota Kinabalu at 10:00 PM tonight. I knew about the hostage taker Sp Rolando Mendoza when I read twitter updates at around 3:00 PM, the time I checked out from the hotel. It alarmed me that it started at 10:30 AM and still not much progress on whether the hostage drama would end. My husband said that a person like that is unstable. That should have been a warning signal for the negotiators.

Boarding the plane back to Manila at around 7:45 PM, I had no idea that a bloodbath ensued at 7:30 PM. There was no wifi at the Kota Kinabalu airport for me to monitor the hostage drama. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it to end in bloodshed. The bad news was relayed to us when my husband and I sat inside our taxi cab.

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The Groovies, my high school classmates (circa St Theresa’s College Cebu 1974) once again got into the groove of bonding moments. There were reasons to celebrate. Our class salutatorian, Deirdra came home from New Jersey for a visit. Birthday celebrants needed to make a wish and the groovies from Manila missed Cebu. You know, I look forward to these small reunions. Groovies remind me that we are still cool and awesome despite the passage of time. I draw inspiration from classmates that still manage to look good.

Marget Fernan-Villarica not only hosted the party but our stay as well in her lovely, comfy home. Our current president, Nerissa Soon-Ruiz gave this brilliant idea of auctioning off our give-aways to raise funds for our batch project. What fun!

Tess, the preceding batch president told me to write an article for our Coral reunion last year. It is only this year that I got to read the printed version of the STC Annual 2009.

Here it is:

Is there life after high school? To be honest, I was relieved when my high school graduation ceremony ended. In high school, I was a painfully shy, mediocre student with average grades (as in 81 to 85). I often felt intimidated by the smart and outspoken girls. You know how it is in high school – there are the popular girls and the invisible girls. I was one of the invisible girls but I was lucky enough to have a few friends who made me feel like I belonged to a group.

So do people ever recover from that intense high school social experience? Some don’t. They spend the rest of their lives trying to justify what they were, or were not, in high school. This is why high school reunions are so emotional, especially the first one. I declined to attend the 25th High School class of 1974 reunion because I was not ready to face that dreaded high school experience once again. Coupled with five deaths of family members in Cebu, I felt Cebu was just bad news for me and going home was not an option at that point.
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When Concertus, the local producer of Cats sent two complimentary tickets to the musical “Cats: Now and Forever” , I knew there was no more excuse not to watch the show. They had invited me to the press conference but I was busy finishing an ebook at that time. Anyway, I thought of buying two more tickets for my daughters so they could tag along with us and watch Lea Salonga as Grizabella. I miss my stage mother days and I was certain the daughters still love watching the arts and culture. The last time I was at the Cultural Center was watching my girls dancing ballet.

I thought it was just me but I didn’t get the plot of the musical. One should really read the synopsis before watching the musical. Despite not understanding the story, I loved the cat playground, elaborate lighting, the props, the makeup, the costumes and Lea Salonga of course. She is the only Filipino artist in a production dominated by Australian “triple threat” performers. It was also good that I bought the 50 peso binoculars which I peered into during solo singing. Though seated at balcony 1, I just couldn’t see the details of their “cat-like” makeup in their faces.
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““Poetry is about the grief. Politics is about the grievance.” Robert Frost

It was a wonderful morning when I wobbled over to the Director’s office at the UP Institute of Small Scale Industries (UP-ISSI). The month of January 1986 was just a few months before I gave birth to my eldest girl, Lauren and I was always in high spirits. I thought the new director just wanted to talk business. Meet and greet each other formally. It looked like he had great plans for UP-ISSI which didn’t include me. The new director informed me that my contract will be terminated. (UP then was in freeze hiring so I was always under a contract). Part of me died with the notice. I was angry, depressed, confused, hurt, and worried. I was so bitter and angry at the new director because I was passionate and competent in my job in research and consultancy. Sometimes I think he just terminated me because I was hired by the past director. I didn’t believe there was shortage of funds because I was hired through a foundation of the institute. I had high hopes about going back to work but they never hired me back. It was really a devastating loss. It wasn’t even the financial aspect that made me feel bad. The research and consultancy work served as part of my identity, a place to use my skills and talents and watch them build over time as I believed I became more competent at them. I went through the grief process of anger, denial, barganing in that roller coaster ride and finally accepting the loss.

I guess there is a silver lining to all this. I became a full-time mother devoted to bringing up my children. If I continued on with my work at UP-ISSI, I would have been such a workaholic with little time for my growing kids.

When someone talks about grief, it is often associated with a death of a loved one. When I started this blog, I talked of my grief journey after my son’s death. There are other areas of life in which loss results in grief that is just as real. One of these is being experienced more and more often due to the current trend of companies to ““down-size.”

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Do you know that when I just want to relax, I watch funny or entertaining youtube videos? It takes my mind off work, gives me a lot of laughter to just be and let worries go away for the moment. Even just the expectation of a mirthful laughter involved in watching funny videos has some very surprising and significant neuroendocrine/hormone effect. Experiments showed that viewing a favorite funny video can offset symptoms of chronic stress, which can suppress various components of the immune responses, particularly those related to anti-viral and anti-tumor defenses. See, that’s why I look forward to my entertainment breaks.

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““I would rather die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life.” Corazon C. Aquino

That photo above is a screen capture of me taken from the Laban ni Cory documentary. I feel honored to be part of the memorable documentary. I had no idea that video was taken until someone told me. It looks like I was reflecting as I ventured out on my first attempts of citizen journalism.

Through all the combined 15 hours of coverage during your funeral procession, this has got to be the greatest outpouring of love that I have witnessed in all 52 years of my life.

I will not forget the people who sacrificed their lives for democracy.
I will make sure that my readers are aware of the implications of the Constituent Assembly before the 2010 elections, and that we should oppose Charter Change perpetuating President Arroyo and her allies in power.

I will continue with the fight, to help maintain our democracy.


(Photo credit to Malou Escasa)

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