Thursday, January 31, 2008

On Not Forgetting

Before I say goodbye to the month of January, allow me to share a glimpse of last year’s January.

These pictures with Nichi were taken a year ago.

Who would have thought that by this time, he would no longer be around? Despite the predictability of his situation, I did not really believe then that we were going to lose him so quickly.

It is distressing every time I realize how much of a kid he just was. Just look at how he played with the calendar seen at the background of our pictures.

I dreamt of him, you know? Last Christmas, I saw him wearing his new set of clothes for the season. He was ready to leave, the way he always was ready to leave first whenever we were going some place. He was all smile, waiting for us. Now that I think about it, I somehow understand what my dream meant. It gives me goosebumps.

I miss him a lot. Perhaps deep inside me, I am afraid to forget about him that’s why a day never passes without me thinking of him.

He was a happy little boy, a bit bossy sometimes. He was responsible—did his homework, even fussing over them a lot thus stressing himself out. At that point, he’d solicit our help. He had high tolerance against negative forces surrounding him, including hostile feelings towards him. But he could not help but feel affected by a juvenile rift between him and his bestfriend in school. I remember him confiding with me about it and he was on the verge of crying then. I think I told him that if he cries, he'll make me cry, too. He cared about the people around him. He made sure everyone at home would have something to eat. He’d remind you to leave some food for those who haven’t eaten yet when you are being too much of a glutton. He’d get himself involved with other people’s business, sometimes to the point of being nosy, because he ultimately wished to share his opinions on matters which he hoped to help. You’d know when he’s mad because he’d just shut up and give you a piercing look with his cute eyes, decorated with his exceptionally long lashes. You’d know when he’s sad when his eyes display those faint, red outlines, the same ones the Alaska (Milk) boy have. He had a way about munching his food. Anything he ate looked extremely delicious. He did not come short with a sense of humor. At least he had those healthy genes that make our family funny. He had such a loud voice, good for singing, laughing out loud, doing a monologue, and interrupting whatever you are watching because he just had to talk. He knew how to be sarcastic and was pretty much effective at dropping sardonic remarks. He didn't do this much, though. He had nice teeth, the nicest set among us, siblings. His skin always looked healthy, golden brown and glowing. I often teased him, “Mukha kang mayaman. Mag-ingat ka sa labas, baka ma-kidnap ka.” He had long, slender fingers which looked more feminine than mine. And he hadn’t mastered the art of clipping his own finger and toe nails; you have to do it for him. But you’ll get a kiss and a thank-you immediately after you groom him. He loved watching TV shows and movies, although at times he seemed a bit slow in comprehending what was happening. He’d bug you with his endless questions. But who isn’t confused with the show, Lost? He perennially felt hot, an electric fan had to follow him wherever he goes all the time. He obsesses on his projects or goals or what-to-buys. He wouldn’t stop until he gets them. He’s naughty and playful, just like kids his age are. He was often indecisive, taking an unusually long time thinking which item in the menu to order or what sari-sari store food to buy. But he wasn’t fond of junk food and didn’t like his food to be salty. He was aware of what was happening to him and was committed to his medications and treatments. He’d even wake you up so that you can hand him his 5 AM pills.

He’s all that and more.

Good and fun memories of him visit me all the time. They comfort me and make me smile. Still, the tormenting final moments of his life still haunt me. I guess, I cannot separate both sets of Nichi moments from each other.

And if it’s the price I have to pay for not forgetting, then I’d take it. No protests whatsoever.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Pseudo Covenant

Around three years ago, I, together with four of my friends at the office, made a list of goals we should achieve for the next five years. As part of the pseudo pact, we are supposed evaluate who among us has accomplished the most items on our list. We are required to bring proofs that we have, indeed, completed what we claim we have completed. Our contract expires on 13 December 2010. A dinner is also due by then.

As I stare at my copy of the said “contract” which, for some reason, took form from obscurity today, I cannot help but admire all five of us because despite how mundane and static life can get, we knew how to dream big dreams and target remarkable goals.

But as I zeroed-in to my own list, I realized how close I have been to my own set of goals and at the same time I got frustrated because I always seem to come short.

In the hopes of committing myself to the pact, I have decided to make my list public and add comments as to how far I have gone in accomplishing them.

Hold on to something!

1. Launch my T-shirt business. I remain to be a fan of T-shirts and make mental notes of what captions or designs would be nice on T-shirts but I don’t have a T-shirt business. Not at this time.

2. Have my own column…kung pwede sa Inquirer. I have my blog but I don’t have my own column to boast. Although, my second Youngblood piece which came out December 2007 assures me that, if I work harder and if I write more, I just might
get that column I’m dreaming of.

3. Mag-book launching sa Powerbooks…yung ako ang bida…ako ang magsa-sign ng books! Or makasali (at manalo) ng Planca Award. Yesterday, I got a taste of launching a book and signing them. But I’m not the author of any of the stories in that book. I’m a mere 1/3 of the editors. And the launching wasn’t held at any Powerbooks branch. With regard the Palanca, I have selected my category, but that’s about it.

4. Be the creator of a TV show na papanoorin ko. Uhh, I think I need a scriptwriting workshop before I can attend to this item.

5. Write a play na i-stage sa CCP, UP Theater, DL Umali Hall (UPLB) or Meralco Theater. Well one of my two plays had been staged in Calamba Laguna’s Plaza during their art festival last year. Unfortunately, I could not be there to watch it and the organizers weren’t accommodating (and grateful) enough to at least show me some pictures of the said event. I still feel bad about it.

6. Teach kahit isang sem lang. I am teaching alright. But my one class doesn’t make me that much of a teacher.

7. Magkaroon ng natatakang passport. I got my passport one week ago. I have yet to leave the country to accomplish this goal.

8. Get a driver’s license at, bilang prerequisite, learn how to drive. My excuse for this item? I don’t have the money to enroll myself in a driving school. Plus I cannot bare dishing out what-could-have-been my tuition for one semester in UP for a three to five sessions of driving class.

9. Act, sing and/or dance on stage—seryosong production ito ha. Umm…ahhh…Bakit ko nga nilagay ito?!

10. Contribute something good to humankind. I sort of organized a gift-giving for the patients at PCMC but it was fueled by a personal reason that doesn’t have anything to do with doing good to humankind. I am far from accomplished.

So there. I have 35 months left to exhaust all my energy to get to where I hoped to go as bound by the pseudo covenant I signed 13 December 2005 together wih four of my office friends, with Kuya Lody and Ms. Jette as our witnesses.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Teacher’s Day

I was greeted by a high school classmate, “Happy Teacher’s Day” today. It felt odd but good.

I have been a part time teacher for the past months. (Notice how I am saying it directly now unlike before.) Yet, I strongly believe that there’s no such thing as a part time teacher.

You are a teacher. Period. It’s not a job. It’s a lifestyle.

It’s a load of responsibilities you whole-heartedly accept the day you say yes to the class assigned to you. It is a commitment to be your best all the time because a group of young ones look up to you. It comes with the role-model burden which, if pulled off well, proves to be emotionally rewarding. It requires passion and enthusiasm along with a sufficient stock of knowledge. If you can’t deliver any of each, then don’t teach.

I know I have a long way to go to become my perfect picture of a teacher. My one-hour and 45-minute class every week isn’t enough to mold me into the perfect faculty icon.

I used to think that being a student for 17 years automatically makes me eligible to teacher-dom. Apparently, it doesn’t work that way. It takes experience and tips from the experienced to know how to facilitate and instruct inside a classroom. It takes time. And it takes more time.

Above anything else, I have my present students to thank for making me a teacher. I know they are my guinea pigs but I ultimately did my best to share to them whatever it is I know. I will be a better teacher because of all 22 of them.

Happy teacher’s day to all my fellow members of the faculty! Happy St. Paul Day to all of you, too!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Goodbye Auntie Belinda

Auntie Belinda, the last of our Delgado elders, passed away yesterday morning. She is the youngest sister of my dad’s dad.

The last time I saw her, I thought she was so thin, I was able to hug her with one arm.

Auntie Belinda is an old maid. She doesn’t recommend it.

I remember what Nichi told me when I asked him to take care of me if I end up being an old maid.

I said, “Nichi, alagaan mo ako, pag tumandang dalaga ako ha?”

Nichi replied, “Ate, dapat magkaanak ka na lang.”

Suddenly I missed our youngest. He was supposed to be the last one in our immediate family to go but he went first. But his death probably is one of the best deaths of all times because he wasn’t alone when he let go of his final breath and many who loved him graced his three-day wake.

Auntie Belinda was the youngest in their family and she was the last one to go. She may have died alone and few might have paid their final respect for her but she surely left her mark, no matter how little it may be.

To me she is my grandaunt who doesn’t recommend spinsterhood.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What went wrong?

What went wrong?

My day that’s what.

I felt my brain cells die when a moronic motor biker carelessly varoomed his carbon monoxide-spewing muffler directly to the jeepney I was riding which was caught in paralyzed traffic. I am afraid I may no longer be able to remember my future grandnieces’ and grandnephews’ names. The cells that ought to permit me do so were casualties to the now proverbial air pollution.

To save myself from an impeding bad half-of-the-day, I gave up from my one and a half hour futile battle to impossible traffic. I cannot function well if I start my day cursing the land where I live. It’s one thing to be caught in traffic. It’s another thing to be trapped in one.

I checked in to obscurity if only to detach myself from this planet for a while.

Then I went off to the day’s next mission. As it turns out, I need not be where I bothered myself to go. My day has been totally wasted. It topped the day’s crappy events.

To rid myself of all things negative, I checked myself in a beauty and wellness center and had someone strip my face off of all possible bad elements sticking through my every pore. For a few hundred pesos, I was able to buy peace and good hygiene. Both of which prove to be a luxury in our time.

I set off to my final stop to grab a couple of items from St. Francis Square. But what do you know? An emergency of sort hindered me from entering its premises. As it turns out, something is burning inside target destination, thus explaining the fuss punctuated by fire trucks and an ambulance. All the customers and tenants crowded St. Francis Square’s portals.

Another of the day’s disappointments.

Sometimes, things that go wrong are not limited to once or twice a day. I’m just glad it did not go past four times.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Subtitles and Pancakes

“You were my further king! I love you!”

Can you imagine Obi Wan Kenobi saying that to Annakin Skywalker? Even I can’t. But what can one expect from a pirated DVD copy of Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith? Of course, subtitles worth the money one paid for.

Did I just get into trouble by saying that I watched a pirated copy of the final installment to the Star Wars prequel’s trilogy? Am I in further trouble for implying that, I may have paid for an illegal copy of George Luccas’ sixth intergalactic baby?


If there’s any consolation, Master Luccas, I as well as the rest of my family watched Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith on theaters when it was released here in our land. That’s six Php 150-160 already. Poverty and fanaticism may have pushed me to give in to a pirate’s temptation.

So what was my favorite Jedi’s original line, the one he uttered when he was having a plethora of emotions after finding out that his young padawan has crossed to the dark side?

“You were my brother, Annakin! I loved you!”

A note to Master Luccas: You are not my brother but I love you. I crossed to the dark side by watching and maybe purchasing a copy of your movie that doesn’t give you or your people any monetary profit. But be kind. You have earned a fan—if that means anything. I shall await your next venture. I swore to see it on theaters to ensure that you’ll get a cut from me this time. Until then. May the force be with us all.

* * *

Never again shall I buy a Pillsbury One-Step Hotcake Mix! (Note that I am not condemning the entire Pillsbury brand. It’s just their one-step mix I’m saying no to.) It’s quite pricey for Php 60.25 for two 250g packs. I must have thought that the extra pesos will be worth the time I’d save preparing it. Plus it may spare me a few more pesos for milk, eggs and butter. But no!

What I got from just adding water to flour then pan frying it is a bunch of pancakes that taste like hydrated flour. I had to administer damage control over the rest of the mixture by adding beaten eggs, milk and butter—the ingredients and processes I was hoping to runaway from.

How much does an ordinary hotcake mix cost anyway? I bet the cheaper ones taste way better that the one step thing.

Lesson learned? There are no shortcuts to the shortcuts in preparing palatable foods.

I should have been thankful for the choices of commercial hotcake mixes available in supermarkets. At least I need not worry about yeasts and stuff. Milk, eggs and butter are really worth the trouble.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Boy Trouble-shooting

Two months ago, a good friend mustered the courage to come out and confess that she’s having some sort of a boy trouble which is out of her character. Well, for starters, she’s not the type who’d waste time troubling herself over a boy. And, she's not one who’d admit that she’s having trouble with a boy.

It isn’t hard to understand why she is my friend. Really.

I was with her yesterday in Makati—Makati which almost swallowed me in its discombobulating, rainy streets. I think I have to mention that I got lost on my way to a so-called raket. And what better way to culminate my working weekend but to spend a few hours with the said good friend. (And once again I rhyme!)

It seems that good friend has fixed her boy trouble a week ago when she and boy have officially become—for lack of a better term—an item. Good friend, however, suddenly undergoes what she calls an out-of-body experience, sees herself from afar, and begins to doubt her decision in allowing herself to get into a relationship. Normal people contend with a seven-year itch. My friend was faced with a seven-day itch. Imagine that.

She worries how it is unlike her to be in her present situation and perhaps to be as happy as she currently is.

At the risk of sounding mushy, she shared her story to me. But then she pulled it off. She relayed her relatively romantic tale, mush free. I’m happy for her. She’s with someone and yet she remains herself.

“I’m happy for you,” I think I told her. “Your boy found you. And by allowing yourself to be found by your guy, you proved how normal you are. But by being you, you remain more special than the rest of the normal people.”

I think good friend indubitably got what I was trying to tell her.

* * *

It then shows that good friend is—forgive me for saying this—in love. No girl will ever display over solicitude towards some boy if such boy means nothing to her. Even I have to admit to that. But how one resolves such boy trouble is another story.

If good friend had a pleasant resolution—things pointed to one direction which is to hook up with the boy—some solve their boy trouble by terminating it—the trouble, not the boy. It works especially when, as things turn out, the boy doesn’t deserve their trouble. When they realize they are better off, they move on until the boy closely tailored for them finds them or until they, themselves, find the boy closely tailored for them—whichever comes first.

The point is, it is always best to know when to stop troubling over a boy. It saves one’s time and energy, not to mention it avoids putting one’s prettiness to waste.

* * *

Before I end, let me assume a philosopher’s voice and ponder on the phrase “boy trouble.” This is to clarify that in the first two parts of my post, I’m using the said phrase loosely. That if I were to consider “boy trouble” in a more technical and stricter manner, my opinions will be different. More hostile perhaps.

Here’s what I would have to say: The problem with “boy trouble” is the BOY in it. Boys are no good for girls. They are good for games but not for girls.

What I’m trying to say is that girls, they don’t deserve boys. They rear boys but never marry them. Being romantically involved with a boy, let alone marrying one IS trouble.

What every girl needs is a man.

People will be surprised but there is always a man in all ages. (So parents, do not think that your girls will start dating a guy twice her age in her search for a man.) There is always a man among boys. A man in preschool, in high school or in the real world. A man with—excuse the term—balls. Balls that he doesn’t boast about. Balls that allow him to be both tough and soft whenever the situation calls for it. Balls that permits him to love in the truest sense.

So, girls, when faced with a boy and a man, choose the man. The man with that thing which allows him to be both tough and soft and to love in the truest sense.

I mean, I’m no expert but I know what the obvious best (not just better) choice is.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Waking up on the Wrong Side of the Day

If there’s one thing I detest most in the list of things I detest most, it’s this: being awakened to open the door for someone who’s so insensitive to come home at the wrong hour of the day, especially when I know that I have to get up and be alive, alert, awake and enthusiastic for work the following day or a few hours after the wrong hour.

And, yes, I once again fell victim to this scheme like I always do.

No silent button in my cellphone will spare me some more precious time of sleep. Not when people still practice knocking coupled by the irritating calling of names, my name.

I love my name. I really do. If I love it some more, I’d have to marry it. But if I have to hear it again in the attempt to interrupt my sleep, I swear I’d find the next priest to baptize me with a new name.

I don’t think I’d abhor hearing my name more than when I hear someone calling me and in the process, messing up with my subconscious just to rouse me from bed for pure inconsiderate reasons.

And the knocking? Don’t get me started with the knocking.

The thing is, it is not OK to come home at the wrong hours of the day especially if you don’t have your own set of keys to allow yourself inside the house. It is not fine to wake the most convenient person you live with when that person is undeniably asleep.

It’s just plain unethical and rude.

Some people really cannot afford to waste their time getting up for you when they ought to be availing their privilege to sleep to recharge for the next day’s rat race.

Some people, despite their ability to pull themselves out of sleep by one knock, one call of their name, or one phone ring deserve respect especially in their sleep. (Those who don’t get this are the “some people” who don’t deserve the respect I speak of.)

I need my sleep and I certainly demand respect during my slumber hours.

Why does it seem that people around me don’t get that?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Christmas Wraps

Christmas ended yesterday as marked by the Epiphany otherwise known as the Feast of the Three Kings.

As my mom is letting our Christmas tree take its usual corner, I shall wrap up my Christmas shindigs together with my yuletide epiphanies that go along with them.

My Christmas partying started early with our company’s Denim Christmas Party which borders on an 80s theme. Having to rush from my alternate life (sounds superhero-ish) that requires me to be a walking, taklking respectable person, I could hardly slip into the party mood even with my denim attire on.

For a while, I honestly felt out of place. I guess I was less prepared for a party than I thought. I mean, how can I be happy and feel festive when I am mourning? How can I feel part of this denim-wearing group when many from “my group” have left to sign up to other offices? And how can I shove poise off and dance when a few minutes ago, I was being a fine, young woman in the company of nine-year-olds?

And then, it dawned unto me that thing they say about having a time for everything. Our company’s denim night was a time to party. My time to weep, to feel alone and to be proper can be postponed to another date.

I gave in. Not the entire me though. I just couldn’t be whole that night, not with the void lurking in my system. But I tried to be present at that party, thoughts and all.
* * *

Second party I crashed is the one held at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC), hosted by Project: Brave Kids. It was a party which wasn’t about me or for me. It had a better audience.

Among all the parties I became part of this year, the party at PCMC proved to be the one most wrapped with the Christmas spirit. I am just so glad to have been a part of it, even just at the sidelines.

* * *
My third party for 2007 is a third party, if you know what I mean. Although I was looking forward to it, I had to psych myself to actually dress up and be in that party. For the first time in my life, I’ve become part of a faculty Christmas party, not just for any school, but for my Alma Matter. It goes without saying that the attendees were partly composed of my former teachers and some school pincipals and a directress.

Imagine telling your seatmate who, the same as you, is enjoying the served lechon, a cone of Tiendesitas sorbetes and a cup of taho, “student nyo po ako noon.” It really is embarrassing for me, especially since I wasn’t the most active girl in class. In fact, I wasn’t active at all. I did pass my classes with relatively OK grades but I was limited to “relatively OK” because I seldom raised my hands and demand that I be heard. I didn’t want to add to the group of overly enthusiastic students who fought for my teacher’s attention. (Talaga lang!)

But it was fun, partying with your teachers. It helps that they find your face familiar. It’s even better when they seem to have an idea who you were 10, 15 years ago. Now I know teachers and nuns do have fun. They exchange gifts during Christmas like normal people do. They even have troubles following the mechanics of a new and improved way of exchanging gifts.

In the night of my teacherly Christmas party, I discovered that I haven’t totally outgrown my campus ghosts as I felt it necessary to suppress my pee than to take a quick stop at any of the many comfort rooms in my old school. I may find myself standing in front of a class now instead of “sitting with the class,” but that doesn’t mean I will risk seeing that old-fashioned, floating nun I heard about when I was seven—the spooky nun peeking from the washroom’s cubicle door while I am trapped inside with a cemented toilet as my only defense tool. No way!
* * *

My final Christmas party for 2007 went wild, Wild West! Being that the department where I belong in the company I previously talked about is known for being creative, we celebrated with a theme: Cowboy!

It is fun to play dress up even once a year. And the Marketing and Product Management Group makes that possible. Now that resolves my deprived costume-wearing childhood.

Although it does not look like it much, we all cried, “Yeehaw!” in this party. After all we all work together five days a week. We spend more time together than we spend time with our respective families. I guess I am one of the lucky souls to have fun people at my workplace. I am undoubtedly thankful for that.

My Christmas drama anthology has long been over. And now even the parties are.

That's a wrap for Christmas 2007!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Blog Under Renovation

Battik's Workshop has recently turned one year old and yet I haven’t dressed it up appropriately to assume a unique personality no design template can give. And so, I have decided to go on a self-imposed blog writing hiatus so that I can concentrate on my blog’s appearance. (How superficial is that?)

It seems, however, that putting a halt to my written thoughts is more impossible than me finding out how I am going to change the look of my blog. Of course, I will find someone to commission to re-design my blog, if not at least my banner. Then there’s that darn HMTL which I have to figure out myself.

I never had any web design class, especially since my computer education merely revolves around a number of software which mostly have turned obsolete a year or two after I studied them. The things I know about computers now, I learned from people who know better than me and from exploring the PC by myself.

Expect to read less of me for the coming days . I’m setting a deadline anyway so I might be back after January with a blog appearance that kicks ass. Hah!

Until then, I’d be off, saying sorry for the inconvenience. Rest assured, I am working to serve you better.