I love you, Marc! Happy birthday and God bless.
“Inay, you hardly ate anything today. And you barely opened your eyes. I hugged you throughout the day, but you don’t respond anymore. I remember a few days ago, when I hugged you, you said, ‘Thank you.’ (No, Inay, I am not the nurse, you don’t need to thank me.) Now you don’t seem to feel my hands when I caress your frail body. I would want to see you smile.”
I wrote that paragraph a few days ago; with great sadness at my mother’s lack of response to stimuli. But yesterday and today, not only did she manage a few smiles, she also ate well and even spoke audibly. She had two visitors today, Ate Thelma and Ate Ruth. They brought her food and cheers. They prayed together and by the end of the prayer, she said, “Amen.” Later, she ate the ‘hototay’ and stir-fried fish fillet with gusto. Thank you po, ladies. You are a blessing.
I also think the fruits & veggies smoothies are working wonders on her health. I’m trying to feed her with at least one serving of them daily. Thank God for the small miracles.
What a great gift was the end of January for our family. My brother came home from Kuwait after organizing a clan get-together; and my younger sister and family flew over from Palawan coinciding with the then upcoming Endaya-Lat Reunion. Even my elder sister’s family got themselves together as Beuls and her family came over from Kalinga.
What a blessing, I thought in retrospect. Brenda, from Palawan just chanced upon a promo PAL-MLA flight. Without wasting any time, they booked themselves and came over. I asked somebody to do some refurbishing in our home in time for the arrival of “my guests.” So glad the Lord put every tiny little thing in its proper place.
Came weekend, we all traveled to Laguna for the clan reunion. There we were warmly welcomed by our Batangas relatives we haven’t seen for several decades. We realized that there was a multitude of people of all ages and sizes added to the LAT Clan; little kids, young people, young adults and their young families. But of course the familiar faces were the ones we missed the most.
There was a renewed sense of belonging. I am so glad that we made it to this get-together. One I almost missed, for it coincided with my church’s 33rd anniversary. I even declared to my choir beforehand that I plan not to attend it in spite of the fact that it was the very first attempt to have a formal clan reunion. But I gave in to my siblings’ coercion to reconsider. So, in spite of everything, I threw some caution to the wind, packed my bag and went with them. As I texted some church brethren to let them in on my change of plans and due to my concern that I may not be able to make it back in time for the many rehearsals and preps in line with the church’s big event, our choir President texted me and sort of gave me great relief by saying she even prayed that I be able to join my family’s event. It sure gave me peace of mind, thank you very much, Ate Irene!
By God’s grace we were able to return to Manila (Taytay, i.e.) in time for me to fulfill my church duties. Besides being the church choir director, I was also given a team choir to lead (and compete with two others, Team Red and Team Green); so I had to make sure my Salmo Chorale sing at least three awesome choral numbers for the duration of the Anniversary Sunday, and enable my neophyte Team Blue Choir to sing well; and on the side, prepare to lead the congregational singing.
All’s well that ends well. I was able to enjoy the company of my family and not miss much of the church preps for EBC’s grand day. What a week indeed. There were two more days spent bonding with my little Palawan relatives Ruthie, Marc and Tricia; and Boj too of course, from Tabuk Kalinga.
And then, they flew back to the island, the Palawan “group.” I was concerned for Ruthie who vomited several times on the eve of their flight. She was so dazed the next morning after having been administered with antihistamine I was not able to say good bye After a few hours I called Pastor Jezer (Ruthie’s dad and my brod-in-law) and was told they just landed safely at Puerto Princesa Airport. I learned an hour later that it was Marc’s turn to be air-sick or something for he also vomited at the airport. But by God’s grace, they managed to travel safely back home.
Boj on the other hand stayed for yet several days so I was able to see him. What do you know, he even noticed and played with me. A few days back he was so busy playing with his cousins he was so unmindful of anybody else. This little boy’s been learning to mingle with other kids; being an only child he is used to playing on his own. Hopefully he too will be back again some time to his favorite place, Taytay.
Distance really has a way of making the heart grow fonder. So until next time, my beautiful Palawan relatives and Boj, bye for now. To my relatives in Batangas, thank you for the warmth and fellowship; we’ll see each other again; hopefully just as we planned to, on 2013. Looking forward to it.
Just this dawn, I scanned some places in the Google Maps Site. Some places are noteworthy, and some arouse my curiosity. Some spots give a considerable view of the cities and towns. But in other areas, especially in the provinces, there were hardly any structure in view.
But one place causes me melancholia. Everytime I looked at that spot, I feel sad. All I can see were vegetation and one solitary indication that a long stretch of a road exists in that far far away land. And there resides my little relatives I long to embrace and lift up in my arms.
But all I see are specks of clouds above the tiny green trees and barren spots. It looks so lonely I feel pain in me. There was not any indication of a single roof on that quaint spot. As if there was not a town on that massive landscape; a town where part of my family are thriving and spending many days of their lives away from me.
I can be so melodramatic about it.
Ah, Google Maps make me sad.
What a week! For the first time in my life, I traveled by (Cebu Pacific, about 4:30 PM) air. But of course, I was not alone; I went with my kin and church mates. Although I had no earlier apprehension whatsoever, the reality of possible mechanical trouble hit me as the stewardesses demonstrated the how-to’s of using the life jacket and the oxygen masks. I had a momentary bout of terror as I looked out the window and saw that we already soared above the first cloud layers, the landmarks still clearly visible below.
But all’s well that ends well. Besides the initial panic and the pain in the ear and headache as the plane soared and dipped, the ride was comparative to riding the rollercoaster as the plane rose, tilted and dipped. It was an hour-long trip, and the second 30-minutes was smooth as silk. My seatmate, Dinky, who initially was seated by the window (we exchanged seats halfway through) clicked away with Coni’s camera, capturing images from the plane’s window.
As the plane approached Puerto Princesa, and as I saw the roofs of houses on the city, I felt exhilaration upon the thought that Ruthie was just a few moments away.
Touchdown: through the plane window, I scrutinized the Lounge door in the distance, trying to figure out whether Ruthie was gazing at us. I later learned that the Lounge is inaccessible to non-passengers. Then, as passengers alighted, we remained in our seats (to let all others rush out) and watched Doc Nanding, Ate, Bethel and Feric walk away from the plane while we remained seated. Ah, wait some more, Yute.
The place is a far call from the high tech NAIA terminal. We walked to the arrival area where we were supposed to wait for our luggage. I already caught a glimpse of Brenda outside the arrival area across the street carrying Marc. And saw Ruthie standing beside her. I waved, they saw me and Brenda waved back. I walked towards the far end of the area and they were a road-width away from me. We waved and waved to Ruthie, but the bashful kid just looked, ahh. Ate Belinda and Bethel exited immediately and hugged them while we remained for our bulk of belongings; we brought medical supplies and Aerol’s large Yamaha Keyboard for the Medical Mission and upcoming Concert at the church.
As we walked to where our van was waiting, I scooped Ruthie immediately and hugged and kissed her. I realized that she is really oh, so far away from her previous home, our home. But of course, Marc the baby bro is something else. He had grown fast and moves as quickly as boys his age.
Night had come unnoticed and we ate at a quaint Tree House-inspired resto. Of course, Ruthie ate beside Bethel & me. She was getting used to us, and started responding to our presence. Even showed her new wristwatch her mother bought for her. Ah, what joy this reunion bestowed upon me. Thank God I finally made it here. I’m sure we all felt the same.
We had a long land travel ahead of us, so we did not linger any longer. We travelled fast on the rugged roads of the land; and marveled at the strength and speed of our van. Often, we heard large rocks collide beneath us. But the driver seemed unperturbed and looked like a very seasoned chauffeur, so we all relaxed and enjoyed the ride. Of course, we prayed now and then. God delivered us. But we missed the terrain to the darkness of the night.
I got Ruthie on my lap, we bonded long enough until she fell asleep like Marc. Halfway through the journey, I had to give her to Ate Belinda as I grew very uncomfortable because I have been sitting on a fold-out seat with a low back support near the door. (The two kids have fallen asleep and never woke up until the next morning.)
To while away the time and length of journey, my young companions Dinky & JM counted the bridges as we passed by them. Counting only the bridges with (ton) capacity signage, we counted 60 of them, at the same time comparing one with the other as to the build, the design, and whatever else is peculiar with each.
We dropped seven of our companions to Sharon’s (Pastor Jezer’s sister) rented resort rooms about 100 meters away from where we will be staying-at Pastor Jezer’s house. It was a long journey but we managed to chat the night away till about 11 PM. After, a while I decided to take a shower. As I finished bathing, I learned that everyone had tucked themselves to sleep. So I did the same. Finding the very comfortable rattan sofa bed unoccupied, with kumot and unan (beddings) available, I stretched out, whispered a prayer and dozed off. Thank God.
For the complete set of pics at Multiply: Click Here.
(All photos courtesy of Bethel Faye)
She is not my daughter, but I really fell in love with this little girl. I fondly call her Ruthie Bebe. Maybe this is because I invested a lot of time for her while she was growing up. Her mother (my sister) had to get back to her work barely a month after Ruthie’s birth. Me being in the house all the time ( cause I only work on weekends as church choir director) have got a lot of time to spare for this poor little thing. No, she is not unloved. Never. Her father (formerly our Youth pastor) and mother (a school registrar) loved her so much. But there are a lot of times they need to leave the girl in my care as they go on with their work. So I played quite a big role in this kid’s life. I became her favorite nanny. Whenever she cries, I can be the best person to comfort her. I felt like Mother Goose, ha ha ha.
There are times her pastor dad had to go out-of-town as he gets invited to other places quite often. Then I would help my sister out by sleeping over to their house (the church parsonage, actually). Early next morning, my sister Brenda would leave Ruthie by my side to leave for work. What endeared her more to me was she exhibited great pleasure upon seeing me in their home at an early hour. She would smile, say my name, laugh and would snuggle beside me or on top of me.
She had a nanny taking care of most of her needs, so all I got to do is to play with her all day long. She gets all the dirty work and I got all the fun parts. Even when we go to our church services, I usually find her ending up on me. I was always with her, and I guess she fell in love with me too. She would, as my sister would say, ask for me whenever I was not around; especially when she threw tantrums.
I guess my natural fondness to little kids made me attractive to children. Ruthie is no exception. I can spend the whole day watching this girl and never letting her wander beyond my field of vision. How I immensely enjoyed watching her cute movements and hearing her baby talk. We got to read and understand each other beyond words. I would look at her and she would readily respond by smiling back at me or playfully do her moves.
Last March, they moved to Palawan, a province on the west side of the country and how I missed her. Nowadays, I can only get in touch with her via webcam and cell phone. I long to be with Ruthie again. One day, I will arrive at their island and get her up in my arms again. I guess she would shy away at first but after a few minutes, she will surely scrutinize my face with her bare hands. Just like she did as she grew up in my arms.
I thought I would write about her just this afternoon. Her father, Pastor Jezer visited and spoke in our worship service this morning. He will be back in the island in two days but I am yet to join them over there.
Today, Ruthie is already two-and-a-half years old and she has a baby brother too, Marc Ernest who I also had the pleasure of taking care albeit very briefly as they decided to migrate. I have other nephews and nieces who I love just the same. But Ruthie, being the one I really took care of, grew in me and got my heart captivated. Actually, she is not the first niece I got to take care of. My first ‘baby’, now a full-grown lady and a full-pledged school teacher, is really my first try at babysitting. But that is another story.