Monday, November 05, 2018

Straight From the Mouth of Babes

I wrote this essay way back 1997 and managed to unearth it today (while looking for another old document). I don't know why I wrote it but I was surprised that reading it after more than 20 years, it's still relevant.

There are some things that I would like to tweak, but overall, I'm glad how it turned out.

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One lazy Sunday afternoon, I was peacefully having lunch with my two young cousins when I asked them what they wanted for Christmas. It was a safe and innocent question, although I admit, I had a hidden agenda for asking such a very loaded query: I wanted to know up to what degree they were affected by the impending separation of their parents.

JT, 9 years old and the elder among the two said, "Sana, tumaas ang grades ko." I tried not to let my eyebrows show my surprise since from what I have heard, he was the most affected whenever their parents would get into their infamous discussions. He would cover his ears with his palms, run to the nearest corner and silently cry. I was expecting that he would say something like, "Sana, hindi na mag-away si Mommy at si Daddy."

I accepted his answer with a nod and continued eating our sparse meal of Chicken Afritada, flavoring it with more patis, doubting the slightly sour tomato flavor. When I was satisfied with the taste, I turned to JM who is two years younger than JT. I expected him to ask for a Christmas gift (he was unable to find his gift underneath our Christmas tree), bigger than his brother's present (isn't that what all kids ask for?). What he said made me wish I had not imbibed on too much patis since my tears would provide enough flavoring: "Sana tumino si Eman."

Eman happens to be their youngest brother, around 3 years old and turning into an exact version of Dennis the Menace. Ever since their parents started fighting, Eman grew more hard-headed and uncontrollable. He picked fights with his brothers and refused to listen to the adults' plea for him to behave. JM, the original title-holder, cannot even control him.

Covering my lapse, I ate a spoonful of the sauced rice and mumbled, "Eh, para sa'yo. Anong gusto mo?"

Again, he managed to reduce me to speechlessness. "Wala. Sana tumino lang si Eman." According to my gossipy sisters, this is the child who would give his caregivers a heart attack by climbing the water tank and the trees outside their house. Contrary to his elder brother, whenever they hear their parents fighting, JM would ignore the shouting and crying and instead, continue on imbibing himself with a good dosage of Cartoon Network. I do not know though if the kids know that there is physical violence involved in the fight. JT still thinks highly of their adopted father (JT and JM are sons of my aunt with different men. When she married her latest boyfriend, he adopted JT and JM and eventually, they had their own son, Eman). He even wants to be like him when grows up. My sisters and I just talk amongst ourselves, and sometimes, we cry for them too.

I don't need to have a degree in Psychology to know that my cousins are affected by their parents disagreements, and they are coping with the knowledge through their own defense mechanisms. Families are supposed to be the basic unit of society and they are assumed to be the building blocks of a child's life. I do not dare to ponder how my cousins will turn out when they reach adolescence.

I have friends who are like them, and fortunately, they turned out into very decent individuals and managed to hold up on their own. Of course, there is always a bad apple in the lot. I have seen how they waste their lives on trivial things and drink too much alcohol.

Based on those two outcomes, I am not sure how my cousins would fare (fast forward 21 years later, I have an update and will write about that later). I do not know if the love and the caring of their extended family will make a good substitute for the good, old parental love.

Of course, the story does not end there since I have to finish my plateful of the tomatoed chicken.

Getting back to our luncheon conversation, JM saved me from blubbering uncontrollable tears by asking me what I wanted. I remained quiet hoping they would forget the whole idea. It's not that I don't have any Christmas wishes, I do not know how to simplify into childrens' jargon what I wish for. How do you explain to kids your plan in life? Their level of priorities are different from ours and they wouldn't understand (or so I thought).

They kept on badgering me until I say something. Thinking of something safe and simple to say, I conceded, "Sana maka-graduate na ako this December." There. That wasn't so bad. Even a 9 and 7 year old can understand how graduation means so much to an ordinary student. Besides, it is partly true. I was denied my graduation last September due to unavoidable circumstances and I have no intent to spend another term in school.

Unfortunately, they refused to accept my retort and kept on pestering me for a more "acceptable" answer.

"Magkatrabaho," I mumbled, while drinking the saltiness of the patis and tears away.

Now uncomfortable that I introduced the topic in the first place, I tried ending the conversation by picking up my plate to bring to the kitchen, but JM's teasing remark almost made me drop my plate. "Gusto mong magka-boyfriend, ano?"

Kids have a way of hitting the spot.

---

Update on JT, JM and Eman, 21 years after I wrote the above essay:

JT did not finish College but has found his calling as a Dive Instructor. He goes abroad from time to time to dive.

JM has been in and out of drug rehab. We haven't been in touch with him for a long time.

Eman lives with his eldest brother JT and also dives. I'm not sure if he even finished high school.

I love these boys and unfortunately, they are all estranged from their mom (as of now). I haven't heard from them for a couple of years (though we see each other in FB) and I miss spending time with time. Hopefully, I would get to see them this Christmas.

Monday, August 27, 2018

A Mother's Blessing

While we were at church yesterday morning, my 1 year old son fell asleep on my lap using my chest as his pillow. My 9 year old son then snuggled beside me as he felt sleepy. So I put his arm around him and rested his head on my shoulder/chest. In that instant, I felt a certain peace and a sense of fulfillment. Even if it was less than half an hour, those minutes I will surely treasure in my heart for a long, long time.

They say that a mother's arms are strong and limitless. It's capable of lifting heavy loads and juggling multiple tasks. But that simple task of providing comfort and a haven while my sons rest, is something I know can be a finite duty.

However, I do not see it as a duty. Any service or labor done for love cannot be considered as a duty. I consider it as a blessing--for both parties involved. Duty implies a sense of responsibility or something "forced". A blessing is given freely without expecting anything in return.

Though I've only been a mom for 9 years, I think I have an idea what it involves. It definitely means sacrifice (lots of it) and a ton of patience and understanding.

My hands juggle different tasks every day. I'd be a hypocrite if I say that I'm always looking forward to putting on my "mother" cap when I get home from work everyday. There are times that I just want to fall in bed, cover my head and sleep the night away. But it comes part and parcel of this life that I chose.

One day, my sons will leave our nest and have families of their own. Whatever the case, I will always look back to these peaceful moments when all they wanted in their lives was the comfort and peace that only I can provide.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Decisions Decisions

Somebody at work shared something with me today. I initially thought that it was a work issue but more of a personal issue already affecting work.

I felt a mixture of relief and disappointment. Relief because I know it's something that we can overcome; disappointment because I have always defended and believed the person concerned.

Seeing her deteriorate like this makes me feel like I failed somehow. Though her personal choices are none of my concern, but her being a leader is something that I have to be accountable for. All the while I thought my team was ok but apparently, there's an underlying problem.

I'll allow myself to feel sorry tonight. Just give me this. But tomorrow, I'll find a way to fix this mess.




Wednesday, July 18, 2018

When Sunshine Embraced KDrama

Goblin (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God)
For more than 10 years, friends and relatives have encouraged me to watch Korean Drama series but I have resisted because I could not see the appeal. Heck, it was a struggle for me to even watch local television dramas (I made an exception for Destined to be Yours as that was done "pordalab").

It was that fateful day of June 7, Thursday that I found myself with nothing to do. Nothing in Netflix (which I have been bingeing on the past several months) interested me. My bestfriend at work has been raving about Gong Yoo and Goblin and my curiosity got the best of me. I asked where I searched online and settled down to watch the first episode.

And I did not look back.

The first episode just hooked me and I couldn't wait to watch the next. I remember lying in bed that night after watching the end of episode 2 and I couldn't sleep. That scene of Grip Reaper and Goblin walking down the street with the backlight was just awesome! And the soundtrack was just as haunting!

I finished Goblin in a span of 4 days and almost finished one box of tissue from all the crying that I did. The story was just so heart-wrenching coupled with the flawless acting of the cast. I was mesmerized and hypnotized. I wanted more. I craved for more.

I joined an online fan group and got referrals on what to watch. I found myself swooning over oppas who I previously found unattractive and effeminate. What happened to me?

I even created my own directory of Korean drama series and movies that I've watched coupled with corresponding reviews. I even recorded the dates that I watched the drama/movies. I'm also in the process of rating and ranking the dramas and oppas. It's been an entertaining activity and hubby's bringing me to Korea at the end of the year as his way of supporting my ummm...hobby.

To sort of compartmentalize this addiction/hobby of mine, I created a blog to record the series that I've watched. FB is nice but it's hard to look for stuff. You can find this blog at When Sunshine Embraced KDrama. See you there! 


Friday, January 26, 2018

Netflix

God bless the day that I discovered Netflix.

Actually, we've always had the subscription for more than a year already but I couldn't be bothered watching shows. I was too engrossed with my fangirling that I did not have time to watch series. Heck, I did not even get on the Koreanovela bandwagon.

When I laid low in my fangirling activities, I was left with spare time in my hands. As I'm not used to being idle, I revived my crafting (crocheting, knitting and cross-stitching). However, I need to multi-task while doing these things, meaning, I should be watching a movie or have the TV on. I checked Netflix and asked for recommendations on what to watch.

Other than the occasional movies, I've been watching mostly, series.

So far, I've watched the following:

  • Designated Survivor - ongoing; however, I think the premise has already outlived itself. I think it's only good as a movie or at least for one season. 
  • Star Trek Discovery - ongoing; Sonequa Martin-Green is awesome as Michael Burnham. She shows the same intensity at what she did in The Walking Dead.
  • Riverdale - ongoing; still can't get over Mrs. Grundy.
  • Stranger Things - ongoing (hopefully); scary enough to keep me guessing.
  • Penny Dreadful - why did they end these wonderful series?! It has so much potential!
  • Mindhunter - I can't unremember Jonathan Groff as Jesse St. James in Glee. I like the premise and can't wait for the next season
  • Grimm - wonderful wonderful series. Again, why did they end it?
I'm already thinking what to watch after I'm done with Grimm. I'm already halfway through Season 5 so it won't be long now. So far, I've lined up the following:

  • Black Mirror
  • The Crown
Any other suggestions?


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Join the Dance


In one of my previous jobs, I had 14 bosses in a span of 10 years. I quickly learned how to adapt and to be resilient as each boss has a different personality and goal. I experienced doing one project only to be dropped when the new boss came along.

But I left that company 8 years ago and in a span of 8 years, I only had 3 bosses which is quite stable. Sad to say, I've grown complacent because of it. However, at the start of this year, I  had a new boss and he was the type of person who works fast and expects the same from me. And so I did. I felt harassed but so productive. I had a person micromanaging me which I don't mind as it is what I'm used to in my previous jobs.We managed to launch 2 projects and several more in the pipeline. He managed to push one project which I've been harping on for the past 4 years and I'm truly grateful.

Yesterday, he surprised us by announcing his resignation. Actually, I've learned about it in the grapevine (I work in a small industry) but kept quiet about it as I was praying that it's not true. I actually shed several tears during his announcement as I will honest-to-goodness miss him. He was our father figure and he fought some of our battles for us.

In the 7 months (4 months for me as I was on maternity leave for three months) that he was with our division, he implemented so many changes for the betterment of our people and introduced so many process saves. I learned so much from him in those short 4 months and I truly wish it was longer.

I wish that whoever will take over will have the same drive and passion as he had. One who will inspire me to do my job the best way that I can.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Back to Life, Back to Reality

I returned to work last Monday which marked the end of my maternity leave. It was how I expected it to be. I was so sleepy and tired as my body was adjusting to the lack of sleep. I also drove that day so I had to leave extra early being the first day of the week.

Other than that, I still have not figured out my schedule as I had to fit in my pumping around my meetings. I know I should pump every 2 hours but I end up expressing milk every 4 hours instead.

Moreover, I need to wrap my head around the changes in our department's process as well as other changes that happened in the past 3 months that I was away.

But what I really missed most was my son. I missed breastfeeding him any time during the day and have to make do having him latch in the morning when we wake up and when I get home at night.

The woes of the working mom.