Sunday, July 31, 2005


A few weeks before my uncle passed away, my mom told us that she was already at that stage where she realized that everything in life should be ham-ham, a Chinese term which means so-so. She used to have a lot of expectations before, not only from us, but also from herself. But now that she has "one leg buried in her grave" (her words, not mine), she learned to stop expecting and just accept things as they are.

I began to wonder, is my mom right? Should this be the right direction to take? After all, so many arguments and disappointments in my life could have been avoided if I had stopped expecting things, and focused instead on accepting things as they are. On the other hand, without expectations, what would motivate people to take the extra mile in things they do?

Let's say I assigned a project to our sales department. Of course, I need to have expectations, right? I need to have a deadline, and an idea of what needs to happen on the day of the deadline. Without expectations, the project would probably never get finished. Or it will be finished, with pathetic results. So, in that aspect, expectations are a must.

But when it comes to relationships, should it be an altogether different ballgame? Let's take Mike for example. Mike and I are in a relationship. Of course, we have expectations from each other. I expect him to be this, and that, and this and that. But what if he can't meet all of my expectations? Should I accept things as they are? Or should I look for someone who meets all my expectations? (note: use of Mike as an example is purely for hypothetical purposes only :) )

What about friendships? I used to think that my highshcool barkada and I would be friends till the end. But now, even with all the advancements in technology, I find out that it's hard for some of them to keep in touch with the group. One is so busy with office work that she rarely has time to answer SMS. Another one threw a bday party without inviting our highschool barkada. Again, everything boils down to expectations. Should I accept that that's just the way things are? Or should I look for friends who'll meet my expectations?

I guess my mom was looking at the bigger picture when she said what she said. At her age, she probably realized that, hey, life is still good, even if all my expectations didn't happen, life is still good. Baka ganon.

In the end, I guess it's all about how important the person is in my life. Because, let's face it, it would be really hard to live life without expecting things from people. I have to admit, I expect a lot from Mike, because he does play a big part in my life. I expect a lot from my good friends, because they also play a big part in my life. So when they fail to meet my expectations, the disappointment is much much more than when an acquaintance fails to meet my expectations.

Then there's also the question on what expectation it is that they didn't meet. With Mike as an example aggain, I expect him to be on time for our date. When he isn't, well, that I can take. I expect him to be loyal to me in our relationship. If he isn't, that I cannot and will not take.

Same with my friends. I expect them to be courteous enough to answer my SMS. But if sometimes, they don't, that I can still take. But, when they do it so often that there really is no communication anymore, well, I guess it's a sign that the friendship isn't going anywhere anymore.

I guess I answered my own question. My mom is partially right. There are certain things in life that I can accept as so-so. But then, there are also some things which I cannot and will not accept as so-so.

Friday, July 22, 2005

How life has changed

We cremated my uncle yesterday afternoon. After one week of going to the funeral parlor, I thought I would be unaffected already. By the time the Buddhist mass started, I had to go out of the room. I couldn't hold back my tears anymore, and I didn't want anybody to see me crying. Especially not my dad, and not my cousins. So I went to the corner of the hall where I was sure no one would find me and let it all out. A few minutes later, my brother followed suit. He was unaware that I was there. I guess both of us had to have some time alone, away from the prying eyes of other visitors who came to bid my uncle goodbye.

Haaay.... life really has changed so much for all of us. There are now 11 of us in the family -- my parents (2), me and my siblings (3), plus my cousins (6). My aunt (my cousins' mom) is still around, but her kids feel that she's not capable of being a mother to them. So they chose to live with us. My dad wants to adopt them too, because he feels (and we all agree) that my cousins will have a brighter future with us than with their mom.

So how does it feel like living with 6 new "siblings?" Aaaargh.... I feel so old. I feel older now than when there were only 3 of us. Kung baga, our bunso now is only 12 years old. Whoa. The age gap is so big, that I find it hard to talk to her. I don't want to treat the younger ones like children. I remember how much I hated it when I was their age and the adults would treat me like a 6 year old. So I try, as much as possible, to treat them like adults. But how? They're at that stage where they're not kids anymore, but they're not adults yet. I suddenly feel like a parent. The other day, I went shopping with my younger cousins for white mourning clothes. I turned my back for a few minutes to ask the availability of the shirt they wanted, and when I turned around, I couldn't find them anymore. I went into a panic attack for a full hour before Richmond found them in one of the department store's small stalls. While we were looking for them, I was thinking that I will strangle my cousins when I find them, but can they please, please come back safely first?

After what happened to my uncle, my dad has become more paranoid now. As in, really paranoid. When he learned that I was still in Bulacan (after office hours) for our company's product presentation, he called me every half hour to check where I am. Walang paltos. As in every 30 minutes nagri-ring ang aking cellphone. I understand how he feels, because I did it too. Today, I called my dad and my brothers constantly to check where they are. If for some reason, they weren't able to anwer my call, I'd call whoever it is they're with. Yes, my uncles' death has turned on the paranoia switch inside all of us.

The nice thing about all these is that I now weigh less than a hundred pounds. Yay! Yay!!! How, you ask? By forgetting to eat, sleeping late, and being caught up in a family drama. I'm giving it another week of intense drama and other developments, and I'll probably go down to 90 lbs.

Plus, another nice thing that came out of all these is that my paternal cousins (Ivee etc.) and I are now on speaking terms. The closeness is gone now, of course. But at least we're talking to each other. We have avoided each other during the entire time that we were there in the funeral parlor, but on the night before the cremation, we decided to stop fighting and start talking. The cousins lang. The adults are an entirely different issue though. I'm still not talking to them, and vice versa.

Hay, so many realizations in just one week.

1. If you want to lose weight, be a professional mourner. As in, eat late, sleep late, and cry your heart out all the time. If the surviving family has their own drama pa, and you find yourself being pulled into it, additional pounds off yun.

2. There are people who will kill for money, no matter how small the amount. Of course, I only read about things like these in the news so it never bothered me before. But now, it feels odd, knowing that my uncle died for a few hundred thousand pesos ONLY. I honestly thought that the people who murdered people and dumped them somewhere did it for other reasons than just money. Now I know better.

3. And there are people who marry for money, and money alone. Yes... another reality that I knew happened but never really gave much thought to.

4. A funeral is a great place to show the world your hidden talent as an actress. Hay pagdating talaga sa paternal relatives ko, I never run out of sarcastic comments.

I suddenly feel soooooo old.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Masamang panaginip

Parang isang masamang panaginip.

Tumawag sa akin ang tatay ko kahapon -- nakatanggap siya ng tawag mula sa pinsan ko, tinatanung kung alam niya nasaan ang tatay nila. Alas-9:30 na ng umaga at hindi pa ito umuuwi. Tinawagan namin ang lahat ng ospital, at ipina-check din ang kanyang sasakyan. Baka naaksidente. Baka nalasing. Sana, may kabit at doon na natulog. Ngunit alam kong wala. Sigurado akong wala. Pagkaraan ng isang oras, tumawag muli ang tatay ko -- at hindi ko makakalimutan ang boses niya. Parang naiiyak na sumisigaw. May pulis na tumawag sa bahay ng pinsan ko, may natagpuan silang katawan sa damuhan ng Taytay, Rizal. Kung pwede daw ba nilang puntahan at i-identify.

Dumiretso na ako sa may Damar upang samahan ang tatay ko. Kasama namin ang isang family friend na maraming kilala sa gobyerno. Tinanong niya ako -- bakit ka sasama? Kaya mo ba? Ano bang gagawin mo doon? Wala. Gusto ko lang makasama ang papa ko, alam kong hindi magiging madali para sa kanya at gusto kong nandoon ako.

Halos dalawang oras kaming paikot ikot. Una, sinabing ang katawan daw ay nasa Taytay police station. Pangalawa, napakalakas ng ulan nung mga sandaling yon, at bahang baha na ang mga kalsada. Naunang dumating sa istasyon ang bunso kong kapatid. Tumawag siya sa akin, positive, tito ko nga. Ngunit wala ang katawan. Nilipat daw nila sa Krame. Mga gamit na lamang -- duguang ID, duguang relos, duguang sapatos at damit. Nanlumo ako. Hinawakan ko ang kamay ng papa ko bago ko sabihin sa kanya. At kitang kita ko kung pano nanlambot ang buong katawan ng tatay ko.

Dumiretso na kami sa Crame. Nag-antay kami ng isa pang oras bago ipina-identify sa amin ang katawan. Malakas ang loob ko. Akala ko, ang makikita ko, katawan na parang tulog lamang. Pag pasok namin sa loob ng morgue, di ako makapaniwala. Niyakap ko ang tatay ko, at dalawa na lamang kaming humagulgol at umiyak. Puro pasa ang katawan ng tito ko. Tatlong butas ng bala ng baril sa ulo. Sana, binaril na lamang siya at hinayaan. Ngunit binugbog muna tsaka tinuluyan. Hindi tao ang gumawa non. Hayup talaga. Pansin ko lang, kapag bangkay ka na, wala ka nang pangalan. Ang tawag na lang sa yo ay -- katawan o body. Ang katawan nahanap namin sa damuhan, hindi nahanap namin si (name of uncle) sa damuhan. Bakit ganon?

Habang tina-type ko ito, inaantay ko sa TV ang balita tungkol sa tito ko. Di ko akalaing ganito ang mangyayari. Akala ko, dahil tahimik naman kaming namumuhay, ang mga kamag-anak ko ay mamamatay sa katandaan o kaya sa sakit. Di ko naisip na ang tito kong mahilig sa showbiz, lalabas sa TV bilang salvage victim sa Taytay, Rizal.

Galit na galit ako sa tito ko dati. May isinulat pa nga ako dito sa blog tungkol sa kanya. Ngunit ngayon, hindi ko na maalala ang dahilan kung bakit ako nagalit ng ganon. Dahil madaling araw siya tumatawag sa bahay? Yon na ba? Nang tumawag sa akin ang kapatid ko, parang wala akong ibang naisip kundi ang mga good times. Kung paanong dati, tuwing Linggo, nandoon kami sa bahay niya dahil tinuturuan niya kaming magluto. Mga slides na ginawa niya ng libre para sa debut ko. Nang tumawag ako sa kanya ng hatinggabi, dahil hindi ko makuha kuha ng tama ang recipe para sa steamed lapu lapu para sa catering ko. Ganon pala yon. Maaalala mong lahat.

Tuwing gabi, bago ako matulog, nagpapasalamat ako na nasa mabuting kondisyon pa rin ang mga taong mahal ko sa buhay. Ngunit kagabi, puro tanong ang dasal ko. Bakit? Sa mga ganitong pangyayari, hindi ko talaga naiintindihan kung bakit ganito ang kailangang mangyari. Paano na ang mga anak niya? Anim ang anak niya, ang panganay ay 22 years old. Matagal na silang hiwalay ng asawa.

Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala. Pakiramdam ko'y masamang biro lamang ito. Na anytime now, magri-ring ang telepono, at sasabihin ng pulis na nagkamali sila ng balita. Hindi tito ko yung nakahiga sa punerarya ngayon. Ewan. Ganon ata talaga pag biglaan ang pagkawala.

Hinalungkat namin ang mga gamit niya kahapon, at lalo akong nanlambot at nalungkot. Naroon lahat ng kalat niya, na akala mo, walang nangyari. Papel ng mga dokumento, scratch paper, mga sulat sulat niya. Hindi ako makapaniwala. Parang buhay pa rin siya. Kagabi, para akong tanga, pero bawat ring ng telepono, naiisip ko, siya yung tumatawag. Kung ako nagkakaganito, paano pa ang mga anak niya?

Ano ba ang dapat gawin sa ganitong sitwasyon? Hindi ako paladasal, at hindi ako naniniwalang mareresolba ng dasal ang lahat ng problema, tulad ng sinasabi ni Cory Aquino. Gusto kong may mangyari. Gusto kong mahuli ang gumawa nito. Gusto ko rin siyang ipa-salvage. Siguro yon na lamang ang ipagdadasal ko. Na sana mapabilis ang paghuli sa kanya.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

"Okay ka lang?"

I told myself that I will never use that line when talking to people who just lost a loved one. I feel that it's a stupid question. After all, how can anyone be okay hours after losing people they loved? It's insensitive, I thought.

Tonight though, I did exactly that. Not only that, I made another bigger booboo too. We went to my uncle's wake, and B, my cousin, approached us, then she told me, "Cat, wala na si sa-i-tyu. Iniwan na niya tayo." I was so taken aback by what she said (you'll find out why later). So I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, which was,

"Kaya nga tayo nandito eh."

I want to kick myself for the booboo. Was I trying to be funny? Nope. I was trying to think of something to say because I didn't want to cry with her in public. Her eyes were swollen and reddish pa. B was OBVIOUSLY depressed and affected. Sabay I asked again,

"Okay ka lang?"

TOINK!! Ano ba?!?! Obvious bang hindi? Haaay. I guess I was trying so hard to cover up the tension in the atmosphere. Something I should not have done since humor during times like this is usually not appreciated.

The thing is, before we arrived at the wake, my siblings and I were discussing in the car how B's father's death would affect her. B hated her dad for the longest time. And when I say hate, it's not the aargh-I-hate-my-dad-coz-he's-so-makulit kind of thing. B hated him with a vengeance. Back when we still used to talk to each other every week, B would complain about her dad and the miserable life he had given them. So we were expecting B to be sad (of course), but we certainly didn't expect that she'd be so affected by her father's death. Which is why her unexpected line really came as a surprise to me.

Maybe B realized too late that although her dad did give them a miserable life, he was and will always be her dad. Maybe she realized that things had not always been that bad with her dad, that there had been some good times too.

I know that everybody will eventually go through the heartbreaking experience of losing their loved ones. Is there anyone who, when it does happen, can say that the pain is not as great, because they have prepared themselves for it? If yes, I would love to meet and talk with them, to find out how and where they got the strength. Knowing myself, I feel that when it does happen to me, it will take me a very long time to recover. I belong to a close-knit family, and I cannot imagine living my life without any of them in it. I remember during a leadership seminar, the host asked this question -- if one day you woke up and found out all your loved ones are gone, what would you do? Most people said they'd start a new life again. I answered -- I'd probably feel that life is pointless and wish that God take me too. (Bawas leadership points :) )

Sheesh, this topic is too depressing. Actually, this whole evening had been depressing. On our way home, talks turned to my parents, ageing and dying. I look at my parents, in their early 50s, both gifted with youthful looks, and cannot imagine them weak and gray. But I know that time will pass by so fast that before I know it, they will be weak and gray. And I do not want to wait for that to happen before I start showing them how much I love them. I want to do it now, when they can still walk around with me. I want to do it now, while they can still hear my voice. And I suddenly cannot wait to document EVERYTHING. I suddenly have this need to have a digital camera with me everyday, for those moments with them that I would want to preserve. As wysgal once said, "If you don't write about it, or don't take pictures of it, it never happened." Or something like that.

Star Wars -- Revenge of the Dibides

I got this from everyday ambiguities site. Check it out. Good laugh guaranteed. :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Married Life

It has always been my practice that before I make any major decisions, I ask people who have experienced it or are going through it to give me feedbacks on the pros and cons of whatever decision it is that they made.

Our upcoming wedding is no different.

I have asked lots of couples this question -- "How is married life?"

And I have noticed a trend in their answers.

The newly-married couples would say the following:

"Super sarap."
"Super saya."
"Okay siya, parang bf-gf pero living under one roof."

Those who have been married for quite some time now would say:

"Wala... masayang mahirap."
"Hay... mahirap. Kaya ikaw, enjoy mo na pagiging single."

Okay, why the BIG difference in their answers?

For the newlyweds, the sex life could be one. Hehehehe.

For the not so newlyweds, I'm thinking, children could be one reason. Financial problems is another possibility to consider. In-laws, growing apart, lack of spontaneity... all these could be possible reasons to consider why those who have been married for ten years have a different take on marriage than those who have been married for less than two years.

Liza told me that during this year's highschool graduation ceremonies (in our alma mater), almost 50% of the students' parents were separated. GASP! Samantalang back during our time, you could count with one hand the number of parents separated. Yikes. So ten years from now, the percentage of separated parents would go higher or lower? Whoa. Really, really made me think there.

Made me think of my parents' marriage. My parents will never win an award for being the sweetest couple. They don't snuggle up to each other, or rub each other's backs. But my dad will call my mom in the middle of the day to ask her what she wants to eat. Then he will buy whatever it is that my mom wants, even if the place is several kilometers out of his way. Or when my mom falls asleep while watching tv, my dad gently nudges her to wake her up so she can wash her face and prepare for bed. For several years, these were the things I saw. So it came as a shock to me that other couples are having a difficult time just being around each other that they feel they have to anull their marriage.

When I hear about separated couples, the first question I think of is -- were they not in love when they got married? When you hear about their fights and the reasons behind them, it's quite difficult to picture how things must have been like during the beginning of their relationship. Which is the scary part. Because there really is no assurance that a marriage will work, no matter how sweet the couple was initially during the kilig phase of courtship.

So now I have newfound respect for old couples walking near Baywalk, HHWW pa (holding hands while walking). I can only hope that when Mike and I are old and gray, the younger couples will point at us and say, "That's how we want to be when we grow old."