Yesterday was exactly a year after my Mom died. Why the late tribute? I was also in the hospital when she was dying. In fact everybody thought I would die ahead of her because I too, was terminally ill. What was I sick of? Now that would be a separate topic.
I am proud of her because although she was a lawyer, she chose to be in the background. A virtual wallflower. She was never the type to overshadow her husband, my father. So what makes her so special? Well she comes from a family of lawyers and law students. You guessed it. That is why I decided to follow the same path.
Too bad, I lost the pictures of my grandparents. They were a lovely couple. Very simple, very humble but beautiful people from Canarvacanan, Alcala.
When I was younger, never dreamed of becoming a lawyer because I was never the bookworm type unlike Mario, my brother who was a law student himself.
You can say that perhaps I inherited Mom’s legal inclinations, or penchant for the study of law. Its worth mentioning that I even inherited her position in GSIS. My appointment paper which was written in Filipino even stated that I am appointed as an Attorney vice my mother.
Mom started her career as a criminal lawyer in Pangasinan then she entered the Dangerous Drugs Board (now PIDEA) where she was the Chief Legal Counsel for more than two decades . When she transferred to GSIS she decided to stick to notarial work and contracts. She wanted to focus on raising her children.
I am writing this for the benefit of my children and my would be grandchildren. When she died last year, I’m officially an orphan. I miss her and my Dad. I know they are both happy.
Yes, you’ve heard that many times, “Listen to me, listen to that, you’ll feel better in no time”.
Why should this blogger be any different than the rest? He probably won’t be able to help me…
You’ll think I’ll tell you something along the lines of “Cheer up, will you?”.
Well, to be honest…
Trust me on this one. You know why? This small little letter is about you and for you. It contains the truth and nothing but the truth.
You try to tell people what you feel, and they don’t listen. They say things like:
We all have our problems.
You are just seeking attention.
So? What do you want me to do about it?
You’ll feel better soon.
You’re just sad, it’ll go away.
…But what if your sadness doesn’t go away?
I know exactly everything you feel. I may not know who you are, what you’ve done or what you will be, but I do know one thing:
You feel alone.
You feel alone in this world, with so many problems and no solutions in sight. You’ve probably lost something, maybe a beloved photo or a very important person in your life, something, someone or somewhere that was very important to you.
Believe me, there is nothing more depressing and saddening than realizing that you might be alone in this world in your struggles.
You’re tired of everything in this life.
What more is there to it?
It’s like you’re in your very own war, with you at it’s center.
You feel that there would be no difference if you left, right?
“Well, why?”, I hear you say. “I don’t seem to feel anything.”
You don’t want anything and believe you are useless.
You aren’t. You simply aren’t.
Look back at all the things you have done, at how far you’ve come.
and helped people.
You’ve done so much!
You aren’t useless, because a useless person is selfish. Is it selfish of you to read this article?
because you’re trying to help yourself and in turn, you’re helping yourself understand yourself!
You’re here, and people love you. No one loves a useless person, right?
Huh? What do you mean no one loves you?
You have your friends and your family!
It might not seem like it, but they love you. Their lives would be totally different if you hadn’t been there.
You never know, maybe you stopped them unconsciously from getting depressed or maybe you helped them pass an important project.
You never fully know the effects of your actions! It’s absolutely crazy. There is nothing crazier than your life, because it’s your own personal story! You can change it.
You’re free to change whatever you want your life to be.
Speaking of life, you may think you have no place to go, no great thing to achieve, so what’s the point of living?
I’m not one to tell you how to live your life, but it’s impossible to have no goals. Maybe it’s something small, or maybe you want to invent a device to solve a world problem.
You’ll think of it, and you will achieve it!
People say that it’s about the journey and not the destination, and that’s true.
While there is no doubt that you absolutely hate the journey you are on now, this is what you will look back upon.
You can either learn from this or repeat it again, expecting something to change. And the latter option is simply insanity.
As quoted from a character from Far Cry 3:
“Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is? Insanity is doing the exact …same fricking thing…over and over again…expecting stuff to change.”
Speaking of games…another quote, from a certain Bennet Foddy.
“Most obstacles in videogames are fake; you can be completely confident in your ability to get through them, once you have the correct method or the correct equipment, or just by spending enough time.”
In the same way as obstacles are difficult in games if it’s your first time encountering them and they get easier the more you encounter them, so is life!
You’ll never be able to learn without difficulty and yet, you will get over it eventually!
You’ve come so far, so why stop now, with a big roadblock in your path to life?
It may seem impossible to get over, but it’s not like you haven’t faced any challenges in your life!
What did you do in those times?
You climbed over that roadblock in your life!
You may have lost something, cussed at it, got hurt or even had a horrible experience, but…
My soul yearns for the Lord; for a number of reasons. My Dad died earlier this year and my Mom is very sick. Further, there are serious health issues which plague our family for which I seek God’s presence. This yearning for His presence took me to the Holy Land. I know Most Devout Catholics dream of reaching the Holy Land. This dream came sooner than expected for me and my sons. I go to church almost daily and I must admit places like Mount Sinai, Dead Sea, Bethlehem and River Jordan are places which exist only in the Bible. I believe that God exists but like ordinary Catholics, it takes one big miracle for doubters like me to have a deeper faith in one Supreme Being who controls all events in our lives. This “Miracle” is yet to be but to walk the places He walked is in itself a big miracle.
Let’s begin where it all started.
The manger. Do you ever wonder why we put stars on our Christmas trees? It is a popular Christmas decoration. There are research which leads to a German practice since 19th century. And according to the Bible, it is the star that led the Wise Men to His Majesty: “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage’” (Mt 2:1-12). But to my mind, it is the probable reason why the Israelites / Queen Elena, marked the Lord’s birth place with a silver star.
In our Pilgrimage, my sons and I were brought to the Nativity Church, the place which is believed to be the location where Jesus was born. According to research which includes our local tour guide from Nazareth, the Nativity Church was built around the place where Jesus was born.
This is what the Nativity Church looks like from one side.
When we visited the Church, there was a big Christmas tree in the Churchyard.
According to the local tour guide, the Nativity Church was the only Church left undisturbed by the Moors/Muslims because they saw the images of the Three Kings at its window. Sadly, I was not able to capture the mosaic picture of the three kings.
Baptism at Jordan River
For most Catholics, after we are born, baptism follow shortly. However, the Bible teaches us that Jesus was baptized at the Jordan River when he was already a full grown man. My sons and I were fortunate to be baptized in the very same River. It’s actually a very small one. A glimpse of the picture below would give you an idea how amazingly small it is.
The water looks green but when I got some and placed it in a bottle, the water was surprisingly clear. When we were baptized it was so cold but my children, specially Miguel, did not mind.
Wedding feast at Cana
The second luminous mystery is the wedding feast in Cana. This was one of my favorite stops because I was fortunate to sing solo in a wedding. Actually 23 couples renewed their vows when I sang. The picture below shows the famous Church which stood in place of the house where Jesus performed His first Miracle; the transformation of the water into wine.
You might think that the wine containers are small or portable. Actually the water/wine containers are about this size:
According to the local tour guide, this cement like container is the original water container which held the special wine made by Jesus.
There a lot more of stories to tell. But, actually this blog is not intended to cover all aspects of the Pilgrimage. This is all for now.
He is known by many names: Marianito, Nitoy, Brod, Lolo, Tatay, Uncle, but I knew him as “Dad” and I share the privilege of addressing him as such with of course my four siblings.
Dad referred to himself as “the boy from the barrio,” but he said this with pride as he recounted tales of his youth to us and later on, his grandchildren to give us a glimpse of his origins, as well as impart valuable lessons in life. He came into existence during the time when patriarchy was strongly emphasized even in the smallest households, and his family was no exception. He was also the eldest son, and thus was compelled to take on responsibilities at an early age.
One of the most unforgettable things he taught me was the importance of education, hard work, and perseverance. He used to walk 5 miles a day just to get to school, and even rode a carabao despite the uncomfortable seat it provided because he wanted to be educated, and become the best he can be later on in life. To my mind, he succeeded.
Theboy from the barrio got his college education from the premier state university, became a member of two of the most prestigious fraternities in UP, became the District Collector of the Port of Manila when he was still with the Bureau of Customs. These are only some of the remarkable feats he achieved during challenging times, and in spite of the limited resources available to him. But he was more than the sum of his parts.
He was also a loving husband and father, even if he was a strict disciplinarian. He was a harsh critic but he did instill the value of becoming the best version of one’s self. He was not the vocal/expressive parent but he saw to it that each of us, his children, got what we needed. He loved nature, plants and even raised chickens at our home in Marikina at some point simply because he missed life at the barrio.
He taught me to be generous especially to the less fortunate, as this somehow multiplied one’s blessings a thousandfold.
I have met many who will readily attest to the kindness of his heart despite the occasional colorful language. He actually loved music, despite his denials in the past, and during his penultimate night I even had the pleasure of singing with him while we were in the hospital.
He raised the bar very high that I will be more than happy to achieve even a fraction of what he managed despite adverse conditions.
Until we meet again I will continue to strive to be the best I can be, just as he taught me.
He was a lot of things to a lot of people but he was my hero, and for me he will always be “Dad.”
“ANIÑGAT, MARIANITO, Sir.” These were the last words my Dad kept repeating while at his deathbed. As if he was reporting for duty. My sister Ma. Shura Wickens and I were wondering whether he was talking to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates or just reminiscing his green beret days.
Here is to the man who gave me life, a good provider, a shouter, a soldier and best of all, a father. My dad was the Corps Commander at the University of the Philippines, Class 56. He was an officer at the UP Vanguard and Head of the Upsilon Sigma Phi. Words are not enough to describe the kind of man and the influence he continues to have on me. He sent me to law school and gave me the best toys; a daughter could never ask for more.
No regrets Dad.
My advice to children with a dying parent: have a checklist of what you want to do for your parent before your checklist becomes a checklist of regrets. I will share with you my checklist:
Give him sweet cherries.
If he wants to visit his favorite barbershop, bring him.
If he wants to hear you sing, by all means, give him a concert.
Even if he does not wish to see a priest, bring a priest.
If he wants a picture framed, frame it.
The checklist varies from one family to another. It could go on and on and in all probability, different from mine. To be honest, I was able to comply with all four. However, I failed to frame a picture, this picture:
Death is inevitable but as children, we should make a lot of good memories to make our parents’ death, peaceful and regret free. Good bye for now, Daddy.
Unfaithful to what I pledged last year, I had a bit of Halloween celebration. That is, by dressing up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a far cry from my decade long style of celebrating this pagan custom. And as the old saying goes, old habits die hard. Right or wrong, my kids and I always treated this occasion as a photo opportunity. Thus,
You must agree with me that Miguel’s eyes, reminiscent of the Village of the Damned, added to the creepiness of the photo.
My sons’ pictures above were regular; nothing special nor spectacular. However, when it was my turn, this happened.
The second picture below, using an I phone, was taken by the lady whose head was mysteriously included in the photo. Don’t ask me what app was used because we did not use any. In fact, the photographer, the owner of the floating head, freaked out.
The last time I had a pet dog was during law school days. It was an afghan hound- very tall and very hairy. All law students would agree that if you are studying law, you spend hours and hours poring over the pages of your law books even during ordinary days to prepare for a possible graded recitation. Considering that my schooling usually ends at night, I didn’t have the time to bond with my dog until it died of a broken heart. Like humans, dogs have feelings too. My heart sank when I came home one night to find it lying down motionless. Fearing that another dog would suffer the same fate, I had to satisfy my “maternal instinct” by turning to turtles and birds instead of a furry friend. With dogs, there is the constant fear of outliving my pet again. Further, dogs have emotional needs. To my mind, birds and turtles are not as emotional as dogs. As I write, my brother Ramon is grieving the loss of his dog-Clotty. Clotty was ran over by a truck the other night. He died instantly.
In 1995, my older brother Luis gave me a female umbrella head cockatoo. My Family simply calls it Parrot but I named it Tak tak then my kids later on named it Nigel based from the evil cockatoo in the Disney movie RIO. I bought it a mate in 2005 but its mate escaped.Its been twenty two years and for the third time, Nigel escaped its cage. Nigel dashed out of its cage when my Mom opened the cage to feed it.
The nice thing about Nigel is it merely stays in the garden hopping from branch to branch. Occasionally it visits its cage but clearly, it has no intention of staying there. My current predicament is feeding it because the trees are too high. Further, Nigel has developed the habit of walking on the grounds searching for fallen fruits and scattered sunflowers- a potential meal for a lot of stray cats. Studies have shown that stray and feral cats have contributed to the decline of uncaged birds. I decided to put a basket in a Bignay tree. So far it is working.
More on feeding the birds, my children just wasted one jar of birdseed to feed the neighbors’ pigeons which took up residence in our roof. The nice thing about feeding the uncaged birds is that you don’t have to worry about cleaning their surroundings. However, the danger lies in the spread of diseases.
In closing, I leave you with a quote made by Anatole France which goes: Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
I never knew I could paint again until I tried. It’s been two decades since I picked up the brush and the palette. In this day and age of confusion, art is a great stress reliever: or is it? Art is considered a stress reliever if you are not being commissioned to do it. Meaning, you are not time bound nor pressured to finish the painting tailor made according to the client’s specifications. It’s a good thing that lawyering, my main profession, is not similar to painting in which the client almost always can dictate the outcome.
On 24 April 2017, around 20 listed and declared artists in our office convened and showcased their painting/artistic talents. I was among the privileged to showcase my two artworks. Here are my contributions:
Your eyes do not deceive you. The featured image resemble the painting at the right. The earlier artwork was done in watercolor and painted by yours truly 23 years ago. It is more detailed and admittedly, more beautiful than the recent copy. Painstakingly reproducing it brought frustration and immense difficulty because the goal was to produce a better or clearer version of my earlier masterpiece. Reproducing it was in itself a journey. Imagining does not translate well into canvass if its rarely done. Focusing on that thought and thereafter releasing it through movement onto the canvass are two different things. You will be surprised that I literally prayed to Jesus (in my painting) to allow me to finish the painting in time for the Art exhibit. The recent copy although it is not as detailed as the original, is not entirely a failure. I merely allowed my emotions to dictate what comes out: not mind. If I may say so, although I meant for the recent copy to look like the original, what turned out was – just an expression of my soul.
After finishing the two paintings in eight days, I never expect I would actually be excited to finish some more.
This post was supposedly intended for Valentines day. Well, I meant to write it sooner but due to several deadlines, now is the perfect time. So, here goes. Is there such a thing as love at first sight for priests and nuns? I don’t mean to be cheesy but can nuns and priests survive on God’s love alone ?A conversation with three priests revealed that they have feelings too and that they are prone to falling in love. It’s just a matter of staying in love or acting on that love which makes love highly reprehensible or simply put, sinful.
When a priest falls in love, love becomes evil because our society mandates that priests remain celibate until they retire. On the the other hand, the woman who is similarly lonely/attracted could either reciprocate that love which makes her an evil temptress or choose to ignore her feelings for the priest which is what social norms dictate and highly expect of her.
Recently, Pope Francis raised the possibility of ordaining married men given the shortage of priests. The pope ruled out the prospect of allowing single men who are already priests to marry but was open to the idea of allowing unmarried laymen or men already married to be ordained.
So what happens now to the priests who fall in love and want to celebrate their love freely with their partners? In our Catholic faith, it is either they get out of the ministry or simply give in to their hearts’desire but risk appearing sinful/taboo in the eyes of the public.
In this season of lent, let us pray for our priests. They become scarcer by the number because not many are attracted to the idea of a lonely mandated celibacy for life.