Last week, I got into a fight. So let’s skip the “love” part first. Haha!
It wasn’t really a physical fight, more like a “war of the words” with a person who has no purpose in life whatsoever. Excuse the negative comment at this point because he didn’t have the right to insult me. Yes, it’s a “he.” An old male person who has totally lost my respect and who I decided to completely write off of my life forever. I’ll call him D.O.M. — stands for Deranged Old Man! Period.
What happened? In the first place, we’re not close. At all. I don’t give a damn about him and his life and I don’t talk to him — so you can say that he has no right to comment about me and lecture me about what I should do with my life. He’s not my parent, he didn’t raise me, heck like I said, I avoid having conversations with him because doing so would just be a complete waste of my time. Besides, at his age, the life he’s living isn’t really something worth emulating so maybe he should comment about his own life first and the way he should live it. So when he called me something offensive behind my back (at least he thought I didn’t hear him), he totally crossed the line. All those years of trying to ignore him all boiled down into one bloody exchange of words. Swearwords included. Damn. Call me someone who stooped down to “his” level, but whatever. Minsan, nangyayari talaga yun sa buhay. #GalitNaGalitLang talaga ang naging peg ko.
Who he is and what he said that ticked me off, I will not disclose to you anymore. What I’m willing to tell you is what he commented on: my unemployment once again.
Yes, I’m unemployed once again. But before you judge me (like what D.O.M. did!), at least know the story first.
D.O.M. thought that I’m not good enough, that I couldn’t keep a job because of lack of skills or whatnot, and that I’m not destined for any greatness in this life — WITHOUT knowing anything about what really happened. All he knew was that I was at home that day. All he was, is, and will forever be = one judgmental person.
Well EXCUSE ME, I know what I’m capable of and I know how to make the most out of my skills — I’m just unlucky these days career-wise, that’s all.
The truth: our team got laid off. Hence my career-hunt AGAIN for the past few days. Wish me luck!
You see, we can’t really get EVERYTHING we want. I want a writing job (bonus if it pays well!), along Ayala Avenue, with normal office hours AND a team composed of great people.
Guess what? I got all that and more in my latest job. For the first time, I even found myself calling it a long-term “career” and not just another day job because I loved everything about it so much, I already saw myself working there for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, God has other plans for me and my teammates. So after working there for years and months (them); 17 days (me), we all had to say goodbye to our beloved company and to each other. #LongStoryMadeShort #StillCoping :’(
So yeah. Right now, I’m JOBLESS, I’m MONEYLESS, but I can still feel luuurve all around me. (And it’s not just because Valentine’s Day is around the corner! Hahaha!)
Love for writing
About six months ago, I was writing a draft post entitled, “The Question I Still Haven’t Found The Answer To.” At that time, I think I was referring to what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I kind of wrote that there will come a point in your life when money won’t be a major factor anymore. There will come a point in your life when PURPOSE will be what you’ll finally seek for. I’m not saying that I don’t need money because I do. I really do. Heck, who doesn’t? I don’t think even Bill Gates will ever say that he doesn’t need it. Because he will, maybe for his business and not his personal life, but he needs and will always need money.
The point is, I’m just more drawn to another thing these days: PURPOSE. The kind I’d be willing to be paid less than expected because I know that I’m doing something worthwhile. I found that purpose in WRITING.
I admit, I may not be the best writer in the world, but I know that it’s something I believe I’m good at and enjoy doing both at the same time!
So I can say that I’ve Already Found The Answer to The Question. I now know that I want to write, write, write, for the rest of my life. The only follow-up question is WHERE???
Now, that, I still haven’t found the answer to yet again. So help me God! Wahahahaha!
Love from my family
I’ve already said once, twice, for the nth time that my sisters are truly my biggest IDOLS and INSPIRATIONS. And that when all else fails (i.e. experience retrenchment), I’ll ALWAYS have THEM! And that — THAT is something no one, as in NO ONE, can ever take away from me! True THEN; true NOW. Click HERE and HERE. Haha!
Love FOR and FROM Paul
Just because I’m experiencing bliss in my love life, my work life should suffer? Ganun-ganun nalang, Universe?! Well, I refuse to give in to that whole you-can’t-always-get-what-you-want thing in this department. I want HAPPINESS in both my love life and my work life!
And so far, everything’s getting better and better everyday just because Paul‘s always there by my side. So thanks, hon! I love you!!! :*
Aahhh. Blogging truly is still “therapy” to me. Imagine, I’ve been trying to control all my emotions this past week and writing has been my answer. It truly never fails me.
When I decided to create this post, I didn’t really have a main point (so I apologize for the ramblings!). All I wanted to achieve was feel a little better and unload myself of this “excess baggage” I’ve been carrying lately. I say, mission accomplished! Thank God for WordPress!
But most of all, thank God for LOVE. ♥
I know it’s still too early to tell where my “chosen” career will take me, but I’m glad to share with you that I don’t regret fighting for it and eventually experiencing it full-time.
To tell you the truth, my aptitude test in high school actually “advised” me to take Communication Arts (or those related to it) in college. But since I was still a clueless 15-year-old back then, I ignored the test result and decided to take a different “route,” listening to others’ opinions about where they saw my personality fit. Hence, my never-ending “defense” during job interviews that ask me why I’m applying in print media (yes, the chosen career path) when my background deals with Foreign Service/International Relations and History.
But hey, that’s already water under the bridge. And please, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I regret taking up Consular and Diplomatic Affairs in college and History in graduate school. NOT AT ALL. If anything, I’m still thankful that I was given the chance to “pursue” those courses because I learned A LOT of other things, albeit very different, from them. Besides, I met some of the best and interesting people during those years (hello, college and graduate school friends!!!). But I guess when you’re really passionate about something, nothing can ever stop you — not even degrees and diplomas.
So in between finishing articles/blog entries/writeups, perfecting my copy-editing skills, commuting my way to events, interviewing celebrities, assisting in photo shoots, and most of all, meeting deadlines, I feel lucky that I still get to smile at the end of every work day. Sure, it still gets stressful at times, especially when my multitasking skills are put to the test (meet deadline this, meet deadline that), but you know, no job is really easy — not even the ones you’re starting to fall in love with. I didn’t say that my current work is easy peasy. In fact, it’s actually a combination of stress and happiness. Hahaha! Why? Because the good thing about it is there are different tasks at hand, so there’s really no room for boredom. One day I’m working on an article, the next day I’m on my way to a hotel or mall to do something that’s still work-related. Everyday’s a new day. Calling it “the daily grind” isn’t really the right way to describe it.
I’m not saying, though, that this is already the career I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Like I said, it’s still a bit early to tell where this’ll take me. And the rest of my life? Pressure much!!! All I know is that if you’re reading this and you’re someone who’s still in high school and still have yet to decide on what you want to do in life, I say think about it really, really, really hard. And when you’re ready to make a decision, make sure that that’s what you’re really passionate about. ”Passionate” in the sense that it’s something you’ll still enjoy doing even for free! But if you think that you’re like me — someone who realized what she wanted to do “later” in her college life — well, being another cautionary tale isn’t as bad as you think.
If I may say so, today’s world has been more “encouraging.” As The Holstee Manifesto put it, “if you don’t like your job, quit.“ Just make sure that you have a back-up plan. I’m not encouraging you to be unemployed — trust me, it sucked, sucks, and will forever suck. Anyway, we know of doctors being business practitioners, lawyers being novelists (chick lit at that!), even corporate executives being professional bloggers. So there’s really NO EXCUSE to let go of what you want to be doing — as opposed to what you should be doing! Take me as an example (but whether you see it as something good or bad is completely up to you! Haha!). I should be working for the government or an embassy, and yet I’ve always wanted to be in print media — so here I am, finally part of an editorial team. Heehee.
Of course I’m still open to practicing my default fields, but for now I’m just enjoying my chosen field. I may still have a looong waaay to gooo but at the end of the day, what’s important is I feel like I’m in the right place. So when work doesn’t really feel like “work” anymore, alam naaa! Try your very best to hold on to it and be better at it Every. Waking. Day.
Because when that happens, that’s when stress will be finally replaced by BLISS. And for us who need to work to live, work to feel self-worth, or just WORK in the broadest sense of the word, shouldn’t that be more than enough?
I think I’ve already encountered this before, but I have to give credit to Ms. Cara Manglapus (who also happens to be my featured traveler for the month of April) for reminding me of The Holstee Manifesto when I visited her blog and stumbled upon one of her entries.
As some of my friends (and colleagues) know, may pinagdadaanan ako ngayon… and reading THIS really helped me a lot. (Especially the fourth line! AHEM!)
So for those of you who’ll read The Holstee Manifesto for the first time, I assure you that you’ll get a thing or two (or more) about living your life; as for those who already know this, then be inspired all over again!
This is your life.
Do what you love, and do it often.
If you don’t like something, change it.
If you don’t like your job, quit.
If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV.
If you’re looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
Stop over analyzing, life is simple.
All emotions are beautiful.
When you eat, appreciate every last bite.
Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences.
Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them.
Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
Some opportunities only come once, seize them.
Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating.
Life is short.
Live your dream and share your passion.
Very well said, don’t you think?
The WHAT’s have already been stated…
Now the question is WHEN???
Good luck to us all!!!
Keep calm and live your life the way you want it to be ♥
This year, I’ll be turning 3… As in three years in my very first full-time job right after college!
Don’t get me wrong. I “loved” my job… I love the building where I have my job… I love the people I work with in my job… But that’s exactly it. It’s a “job” — it’s NOT a CAREER. Paaak!
I can already feel it… Sooner or later, I have to say hello to “career.” For the past few weeks, my sedentary lifestyle’s been taking a toll on me and my health. Oh no, I don’t blame my job for it. No, not entirely for there are other factors. But a part of it? Yeah. I’ll stop here before I even say something stupid but for now, I’ll be holding on… I’ll be holding on until this so-called quarter-life crisis is over.
But I think the thing that bothers me most is whenever I ask myself the question “What do I want to do with my life?” and then I’ll always end up with nothing to say to myself… *facepalm*
Anyway, I recently posted this as my status on Facebook:
“What do I want to do with my life?! That is the question.
By the time I’m 25, I should have a CAREER already and not just a job. And that’s only 3 years from now… Fuuudge! “
CAREER. It’s not just the question, it’s the operative word. So what “career” do I want exactly?
A SHOWBIZ CAREER? Chos!
CAREER-in ang pagiging “future” wife ni Reed? Ay, masyadong ambisyosa! Pero buti alam ko diba?! Harharhar.
Law school, perhaps? But I’ll only be doing it for the sake of having an “Atty.” before my name, so FAIL! It’s. not. my. calling.
A career in WRITING? Hmm… an interesting option but I’m still not so sure. Writing is my hobb-eeyyy… but making it as something I do for a living? PRESSURE!!!
Siiigh. I think part of this “quarter-life crisis” is my older sisters. ’Cause you know, they all have established careers and the pressure is so on — ON ME! But just so you know, it’s not them. It’s ME — again! Si bunso talaga oh! =)) I’ve already accepted the fact that I’m the odd one out among my sisters. It’s a looong story so if you want further explanation, just click here. Hahaha!
Like I said, I’m giving myself THREE MORE YEARS to decide… Wala lang, kasi 25 sounds sooo… sooo… So “employment gods,” hear me! Hear me, please!!!
Hay nakoowww. Honestly, I’d rather be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s ultimate alalay than be where I am NOW. Sino ba naman kasi ang nag-imbento pa ng quarter-life crisis eh! Tsk.
How are you dealing with your very own quarter-life crisis?
Share your thoughts, please!
The Royal Wedding. The Starbucks planner. Manny Pacquiao‘s fights. The latest iPhone. One thing they ALL have in common? They’ve all been the hype at one point in time.
I just recently contemplated whether or not to get an iPhone. But the thing is, I’m really “practical” when it comes to gadgets. Most of my gadgets and I have very looong “relationships.” My laptop has been with me for almost four years. My iPod for two years. My phone for almost four years as well. And my Globe number? For SEVEN YEARS (and counting; I’m actually aiming for a decade!!!) And yes, they’re all in PERFECT CONDITION. I know, right? Kung boyfriend lang sana sila, engaged or kasal na sana ako ngayon! Wahahahaha!
Going back to my iPhone dilemma, the thought of getting one just randomly popped into mind one day… Why? Sure you can blame it on the hype once again. Sure you can you say that Steve Jobs has been inspiring me from the moment I read his authorized biography (speaking of which, I still owe you a book review — but that’s another blog entry.) But the thing that bothered me most was when my friend told me that it all comes down to my “PURPOSE,” and the only words I had in return were “REED JOBS.” Toink! Toink!! Toink!!! If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll notice that I’ve been OBSESSED with the “Prince of Apple” for quite some time now — hence the answer = the purpose. I didn’t even care about the hype nor the functions of the iPhone. Heck, I didn’t even bother about the model — 3G S, 4, or 4S! The only thing that mattered to me was my “hallucination” that if I purchased ANY Apple product, I’d instantly have some sort of connection with the Apple Prince!!! Waahhh — another round of baliw-baliwan madness! I seriously need to see a shrink NOW! Hahaha!
But then again, I’m thankful for that conversation I had with my friend. Because if it weren’t for him, I would’ve taken my still-functional phone for granted. That’s right.
Unfortunately, I really “overwork” my gadgets to the point that I DON’T replace them until they give up on me. Besides, I realized that when you’re going to “level up,” might as well live up to it. Ganito lang ‘yan eh. Naka-iPhone ka nga, nag-jeejeep ka naman. Naka-designer bag ka nga, ang daanan mo naman palagi ay prone to snatchers. Yadda, yadda, yadda. You get the picture. I’d rather work on my parking skills first (and save up for GAS!), and put aside some moolah for my upcoming travels! Yebah!!!
So for now, the iPhone CAN wait.
Bottomline is, instead of “giving in” to whatever hype, think of your “PURPOSE” first — and contemplate whether or not your purpose is PRACTICAL, ETHICAL, and sometimes, like in my “Reed Jobs” case, LOGICAL! =)) And to quote my favorite blogger, Patty Laurel:
Life experiences are priceless. You can never ever put a price tag on these precious moments. Whether it’s a mid-afternoon conversation about unconditional love with your lola, the most amazing chocolate cake with hot caramel sauce baked by your tita, or seeing Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night up close and personal… kung ang pinag-uusapan ay experience, something that involves the five senses… GO! DO IT! Taste it, feel it, see it, listen to it, smell it! Do not stop yourself from trying something new or from rediscovering something old. Ang kotse nabubulok, ang iPad nalalaos. But memories will live forever! Oh yeah, sounds very Hallmarky! “
Yeah, what Patty Laurel said. Besides, sigurado naman akong magkakaron ng iPhone 10S eh, so what’s with the hurry? In the works na nga ang iPhone 5 eh! HA HA HA
Definitely hyped “down,”
Mika Jobs — este, Chiong pala!
Four years ago, I wrote this:
WHO SAID SORRY IS THE HARDEST WORD?!
To start off, why do people say that saying “sorry” to someone is the hardest thing to do? Is it because of PRIDE? Or is it because we’re afraid of the initial reaction of the person? Either way, I don’t think sorry is the hardest word. Read on to find out what really is…
My mom died on May 9, 2003 because of lymphoma (which later on caused her to have leukemia). I was only 13 years old and an incoming third year high school by then, and as a teenager going through puberty stage without my mom, life for me was bittersweet. Now that I’ll be soon turning 18 and graduating from college, I feel like history’s about to repeat itself. Last April of this year (2007), my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. At first, we all thought, “here we go again!” but as days passed, we all realized that papa still has a big chance of surviving since we caught the cancer at its second stage, unlike mama who had a stage 4 cancer when detected. But now, right at this very moment I’m typing this blog entry, papa’s in the CENICU (Central Intensive Care Unit) and is still fighting the battle against death for his life. You see, the only thing that’s keeping papa alive is his heart. All his organs are shutting down but his heart remains to be beating very strong despite the cancer killing him slowly… The same also happened to mama. The heart’s the only thing remaining that could sustain life. Sometimes, people can even survive even if the brain is already dead, as long as the heart’s still perfectly beating. That’s why we have people in a coma.
Honestly, we all prefer papa saying goodbye to us NOW than see him suffer sooo much more! :’( At least if he goes now, he’ll be once again reunited with his one true love (mama) and our Creator, and forever live in peace. Having said that, we already said our last goodbyes to papa. Trust me, it was the hardest thing I had to do ONCE AGAIN! I once said it to mama, I recently said it to papa, and now I’ll share it with you. It only consists of three phrases: I’m sorry, Thank you, and I love you. Simple isn’t it? But it really gave me a hard time because somewhere inside me, I still have a little faith that somehow along the way, a miracle will happen and papa will be able to recover and be with me on my graduation day, and even walk me down the aisle when the time comes that I’ll be able to find “the one.” However, in his situation right now, we can’t do anything but keep repeating those three phrases and finally say goodbye to him even if it’s the hardest thing to do.
Indeed, GOODBYE is the hardest word! :’(
And so we wait…
Most of the time, when we encounter the word death from someone or from our surroundings, we always get the feeling of goosebumps and the immediate reaction that the person affected must be sad — very sad. However, haven’t you thought about that sometimes, death could also be a gateway for happiness? At least for the person suffering from an illness and disease, it’s a one-way ticket to eternal peace and heaven.
Based from my experience, both of my parents died because of cancer. My mother died last May 9, 2003 because of lymphoma, and my father died last September 5, 2007 because of esophageal cancer. Both of them suffered so much (but we all think that our father’s the one who suffered the most because of the tumor blocking his airway, which made it hard for him to breathe) but in the end, they both left this earth slowly and peacefully… With this, we can say (my sisters and I) that death was the answer for both of my parents. And I definitely don’t mean that in a bad way! What I mean is, if we’re going to come to think of it, at least now, they don’t have to suffer anymore because of their physical illnesses. At least now, they’re once again reunited with each other and with our Creator.
For those who visited the wake of both my parents, some might’ve wondered why we were taking pictures. Some even asked, “pwede bang ngumiti?” I guess it’s because we were all taught that when “death” is the topic, there should be sadness and grieving. Yes, of course, my sisters and I are sad and grieving because of our loss, but the smile on our faces during the wake of our parents didn’t mean that we’re happy that they’re already gone. It’s simply because we know that our parents wouldn’t want us to feel sad all the time with matching scary-looking and grumpy faces. In fact, it’s in their huling habilin that they want their wake to be a “happy” one. Meaning, grieving was expected but that doesn’t mean that we can no longer remember the happy memories we had with the departed, and the fact that they’re in a much, much better and happier place now. Like in my case, you won’t see me crying in front of you, but that doesn’t mean that there are moments (especially when I’m alone and remember my parents) that I don’t cry. It’s simply because I’m not comfortable with other people seeing me cry just because… Anyway, do you get what I’m saying? And as for the picture-taking during the wake, it’s because we documented the whole thing after by putting it in an album, and like what my sister said, “we make our own traditions.” And by saying tradition, death of a loved one musn’t always be about our own feelings of sadness and grief, but it must be mostly about the feelings of our departed loved ones who are now experiencing peace and happiness. And of course, it’s about remembering all the happy memories we had when they were still alive because let’s face it, sooner or later, we will all meet them again.
Lastly, I learned a lot from this experience. I learned that death is only the beginning of a new adventure — an adventure with God and a problem-free world. I learned to cherish every moment I have with my loved ones (especially my sisters) while I’m still alive. I realized that telling someone how you love them will. never. be. enough. unless you really experienced it. I realized na sa huli pala talaga ang pagsisisi because how I wish my parents are still alive and saw me graduate from college, walk me to the altar, and eventually, see me as a successful person in whatever field I choose to be in someday! I even wish I could have one more dance (or at least a dance) with my father just like how Luther Vandross described it in his song. Then again, Luther Vandross is also already dead, so I just pray for the eternal repose of all their souls… Hence, there are a lot of lessons learned from this experience of mine and as I continue with my life, I’ll never get tired of learning…
I wrote this not because I claim to be an expert or something. (And c’mon, ano yun, DEATH EXPERT? Gosh no, that’s just plain creepy… and weird… and did I mention creepy and weird?!) Anyway, I wrote this because some of my good friends are experiencing/undergoing the same thing… And as much as I TRY HARD to inject some humor in this post to make it feel a little lighter (forgive me if it’s a total failed attempt!), all I really want to say is I GET YOU. I FEEL FOR YOU. And I’m hoping that one day… one day, sooner or later… you’ll be finally able to replace those tears with smiles again. *BIG HUGS*
First thing’s first. I’ve to admit, I judged a book by its cover! It was one random August Friday when I decided to go inside National Bookstore and saw this:
And as a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, I instantly grabbed it and didn’t have any second thoughts. C’mon, I’m practically Kate Middleton‘s self-proclaimed NUMBER ONE FAN! So if the words fairy and tale and ever and after don’t catch my attention, then there must be something wrong with me! Hahaha! But seriously, I only decided to read the book’s synopsis when I was already THIS|CLOSE to the cashier! Having admitted that, I guess I “judged” well because now, I’m done reading it and I have my TWO THUMBS UP! Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the book is internationally published and has a Filipina author — a full-blooded Filipina at that! So yeah, it’s warm and fuzzy all the way!
Before Ever After is written by Samantha Sotto, and it’s a one of kind novel that makes its main character (and readers!) discover “that not all stories end where they are supposed to.” It’s a book that combines love, life, history, and even chickens and eggs all in one very compelling story that is worth reading! Which made me come up with the following things (in alphabetical order) to reflect on:
EUROPE. Austria, England, France, Italy (including Ancient Rome), Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland are some of the European countries you can travel to just by reading this book alone! I’ve never been to Europe. If only I can travel to Italy and the U.K., I’ll already be content. It’s always been one of my lifelong dreams to travel there and I’m not giving up! Hehe. Anyway, I know a few people (actually, A LOT of my family and friends) who’ve been to Europe and they don’t have anything to say about the continent except for GOOD STUFF. So yeah, they’re lucky people indeed! But for us who still have YET to apply for Schengen and U.K. visas, don’t fret! I still consider us lucky! Why? Well, I have two justifications to somehow sweeten our “bitterness” (haha!):
First, we get to be creative and enhance our imagination. Sure, there are pictures. Sure, there are movies. But don’t you think it’ll be nice to know that once you finally go to Europe, the things that were once confined only in your thoughts will already be in front of you? If not, then I guess that’s just me. But the mind works wonders, people! I repeat, THE MIND WORKS WONDERS!
Second, we have something to look forward to. Yes, those who’ve been to Europe can always go back, especially if they threw a coin and made a wish at the Trevi Fountain! But you know, there’s always something special about THE FIRST TIME… something to look forward to. I couldn’t emphasize more on that.
LIFE. Hmm… how do I go about this without spoiling the story? Haha! Fine. Let me take an excerpt from the book itself to explain what I mean to say:
“Our world, after all, is what we choose to create around us, here and now. We build homes, towns, cities, civilizations — grander than all that came before, but never enduring. Etruscans. Egyptians. Greeks. Romans. Venetians. Where are their empires now? Where are the worlds they built? Gone. Judged. Ended. But life goes on. We take our shattered bricks, spread our plaster, and build again… hoping that we are starting over for the last time.”
Yeah. THAT and have you ever thought about immortality? If you could live forever, would you be up for it? WHY? — if you could answer that “simple” question, then I guess we’re done here. ’Nuff said.
LOVE. Ooh! Here we go again with that warm and fuzzy feeling! ♥ But seriously, I don’t think that any story will be complete without a touch of love in it! Don’t you agree? Anyway, Max and Shelley‘s love story is basically the alpha and the omega of Before Ever After, and I’ve to warn you, theirs is a love story that conquers ALL. If I may say, walang sinabi sina Alladin and Jasmine, Jack and Rose, Romeo and Juliet, Samson and Delilah… Hihihi. But the good thing about the book is it covers “love” in the broader sense of the word. Love for the opposite sex is already a given. But you know, there’s also love for life, love for friends, and most of all, love for family:
“My parents died, but I was never an orphan. Nonno was my family. He raised me as his son and there was not a single day that I doubted that. Even now. You can make a child believe a lot of things. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny… just about anything really, except love. You cannot make a child believe you love him if you don’t. My grandfather loved me, Shelley. I know that. Whoever else he was or turns out to be, he was and always will be Nonno to me. My childhood was not a lie. And I don’t think your life with Max was, either.”
There. I highly recommend Before Ever After because there are many other things you can learn from reading it. Whether you are male or female, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as long as you love traveling, have a sense of adventure, are interested in history, and just love life for what it is! Of course the three things you’ve just read (Europe, Life, and Love) are just “me,” so feel free to make your own list of things to reflect on. Having said that, I give this book an OVERALL RATING of: ♥♥♥♥♥
Lastly, most people may think that “happily” precedes “ever after” only in fairy tales. But if there was one thing Ms. Sotto’s book taught me, it would be to think otherwise. I say our “ever after” will depend on what WE make it to be. Always.
Look who saw this very entry (thanks to Twitter!):
P.S: Samantha Sotto will be signing books on September 18, 2011 (Sunday) at the Manila International Book Fair at the SMX Convention Center. She’ll be at the National Book Store Booth from 1:30-2:30PM. She’ll also be answering questions at the panel discussion at 3:30-4:30PM (meeting rooms 5 and 6). I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get to meet her and have my book signed! See you there, yes?
(Read about the book signing/discussion here.)
There’s this thing going around Facebook wherein you post your mother’s picture in your profile…
And indeed, Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Having said that, let me tell you a very detailed retelling of my most unforgettable Mother’s Day eight years ago…
It was a usual summer day for some when on May 9, 2003, I received the most paralyzing phone call in my entire life. I was a thirteen-year-old girl on her way to a summer theater workshop when my sister called me to go back and head straight to the University of Santo Tomas Hospital. I was told that our mother had finally said her final goodbye.
Rosario Dioquino Chiong, my mother, died of cancer at the young age of 56. From the day she was diagnosed, she fought her biggest battle in just the short span of three months. They say, a battle may be lost, but there’s still a war yet to come. But with the passing of Mama, my family realized that yes, she may have lost her battle with the Big C, but the so-called “war” that is “life,” she had already won many times over. She was a person who touched the goodness in people; a woman of courage and determination. When she found out that she had an aggressive form of cancer, she never questioned God nor did she give up. She chose to fight it till the end, and she kept that promise until her last heartbeat.
Rose, Baby Ruth, or simply Baby were names my mother was called by. Ironic as it may seem, her nickname doesn’t fit the person she had become. She was never a “baby” to anyone. All her life, she was dedicated to babying the people she met. She was a very selfless and valiant person, doing things not out of obligation or personal gain, but because she loved being herself. She found happiness in serving other people, putting their needs before hers. She was a caring friend, a generous sister, an obedient daughter, a loving wife to Papa Pete, but most of all, she was a great and loving mother to me and my three older sisters, Anne, Malou, and Patty. Her professional life was spent on endless balancing of numbers as she was an accountant, but her personal life was mostly spent, aside from being a mother to us, in baking. And yes, my love for sweets definitely has its roots in her culinary talents.
Her love for baking was like a nun’s pursuit of a “calling.” She attended every baking class she could have her hands on. Before the Yuletide Season, every year in our household, as early as September, would be the time for baking her famous fruitcakes. Even though her market was limited, mostly to really loyal customers, that didn’t stop Mama from doing what she loved. From my childhood days up to the last Christmas season she was able to celebrate with us, my nose didn’t become a stranger to the scent of freshly-baked pastries coming out from our kitchen. Mama even became a student of the person who started the famous Becky’s Kitchen. In fact, it was Becky’s Kitchen that became her inspiration in opening her very own bakeshop back in 2001, The Pastry Vault. It was a big leap for Mama because running a real bakeshop along Nakpil Street was a whole different thing compared to her then made-to-order homemade goodies. Unfortunately, we had to close the shop because the very location of it proved to be a favorite place of hold-uppers and other petty criminals.
As her youngest child, born after an 11-year age gap from my third older sister, Patty, I was the one who spent more time with Mama during her last 13 years. Two of my sisters were busy with medical school, while the other one followed in her and Papa’s footsteps in accountancy, passing the board exams as the 5th placer. I was busy being the taste-tester of her tempting sweet creations and a full-time student. My oldest memory of Mama with regards my schooling was in first grade. I called her on her office phone crying for help because I was scared that I might’ve forgotten the words of the “Our Father,” which she had helped me memorize the night before, and was supposed to recite in my Religion class on that day. Of course, loving mother that she was, she reassured me that everything would be okay. And indeed, she was right.
It has been eight years since and a lot has changed. I graduated from high school, earned a college degree, and started earning my own money — all with the help of my sisters and of course, Papa, when he was still alive. And just for a quick explanation, Papa followed Mama after four years of grieving and he also died of cancer. I was 17, but that’s a whole different story.
Mama’s “send-off” was a bittersweet occasion. My two older sisters, Anne and Malou, made sure that all her instructions were followed, from the all-white flowers surrounding her coffin to be made by her “suki” flower shop, to the catered dinner after every mass during her wake, the serving of her famous Pastry Vault pastries, and the overflowing food. However, my sisters chose to dress her up in cream and gold, a dress she wore at a family friend’s wedding, instead of the blue and silver number she chose because they deemed it more appropriate. Mama, they made sure, agreed with them on this because even when she was still alive, both of my sisters were her fashion consultants.
When she died, she was bloated because the fluids being pumped into her were rejected by her body. At the funeral parlor, my sisters Anne and Patty were being brave when they told the embalmer that they wanted to see everything that would be done to Mama. After all, they were both medical doctors — ergo, they both could handle the preparations. But seeing your very own mother being pumped with chemicals and her body and arms being wrapped in plastic sheets like a corset, so as to keep chemicals from seeping out of the many puncture sites on her body is excruciating. They had to thin her out a bit to make her fit into her dress. The trauma was beyond what they imagined because seeing our mother’s body like that, they knew that Mama was really gone.
At first, my sister Anne said that she felt very pressured because they couldn’t fix her wig and makeup properly. Mama stressed to her before that she wanted to be beautiful even in her last moments. So, my sister tried her best to instruct all the manongs and the make-up artist at the funeral house to make Mama beautiful — telling them to change her eyeshadow from violet to brown; to remove the pillow; and to fix her casket. Even so, Mama sort of had a frown on her face, so my sister made a joke to make her smile. She said, “Ma, smile! You look like someone we know!” And afterwards, although we don’t know how to explain it, an upward curve on her lips had been formed, and with that very beautiful smile and peaceful face was how Mama was seen by all.
Mama’s wake was a joyous occasion — in a different sense of course. There were a lot of visitors every night; after each evening mass, dinner was served for everybody. We felt blessed to be her children because all those who visited were one in saying that we really had a very special person for a mother. She was and will always be one-of-a-kind. We realized that she was able to help a lot of people, one way or another. Even the barbecue stand lady near her office was sad, and she said that it was as if she knew us because all Mama talked about with her was us. It was all so overwhelming, but in a good way.
May 11, Mother’s Day, was the third day of her wake. We made a poster for her with “Happy Mother’s Day, Mama” printed on it. We posted it on the wall and we told everyone who attended that they could write a little something for Mama there. Four cartolinas were filled up with notes for her.
On May 13, we brought Mama from Mt. Carmel in New Manila where the wake had been, to Malate Church for the requiem mass at one o’clock in the afternoon. It was celebrated by Father Kevin McHugh, our longtime family friend and Mama’s spiritual adviser during her sick days. The Gospel he chose was Proverbs 31 — the story of a valiant woman. Once again, the church was packed with people just like a weekday evening mass. We were really very surprised. Four eulogies were read: one from an officemate who’s also a long-time family friend, two more were from a close neighbor and a relative, and finally, from my sister Malou. After my sister’s turn, we showed a PowerPoint presentation that was filled with Mama’s pictures from her childhood days up to her last moment — a picture of her wearing my blue flowered bonnet because of her hair loss, while waving goodbye but still with a beautiful smile on her face. Gary Valenciano‘s “I Will Be Here” was the background music and many tears were shed by so many people, even those who did not personally know her.
At the Manila Memorial Park where the internment took place, the crowd was still big. Father Kevin said some prayers and then the choir from Malate Church sang “Love is the Answer” while her coffin was being lowered to her final resting place. Flowers were thrown and one of my sister’s flowers landed perfectly on Mama’s heart — a fitting tribute to a person whose life was always driven by her love for others. In fact, during the last days of her life, even if all of her organs were slowly failing, her heart remained strong — typical of the life she chose to live, measured by many lives she had touched with her heart.
Our “pabaon” for Mama included her wedding ring, her favorite pearl earrings and necklace, her red rosary which kept her sane during her painful three months, and letters from my father and me. In her right hand, we placed our 1994 Mother’s Day gift to her, a narrative of how much she meant to us, even though I was still very young when my sisters presented it to her many years ago.
But even if she’s physically gone, my mother proves to be still present in our midst, guiding each one of us and making us happy. One concrete example happened on the very first day of her wake at Mt. Carmel. The fact that we were able to have a slot in one of Mt. Carmel’s mortuary chapels was a miracle in itself because when my sister called the church on the day Mama died, Friday, they said that the chapels would be occupied until Saturday. We chose Mt. Carmel because it’s located in a very serene place, with ample parking space, and close to Mama’s workplace in Quezon City. We believe that Mama was still helping us out and I was a personal witness to that. Again, I was 13 and I had the biggest crush on a local matinee idol then. I always wished to see that celebrity in person, and guess what? He attended a wake in the room right next to us! I finally saw him in person and with that, I believed that that was Mama’s last way of making me happy while she was still in our reach. And the musings did not end there.
A few days after we got home, my sister was finally able to find the file of Mama, my eldest sister Anne, and Mama’s mother, Lola Daleng regarding their accident in Manaoag. It was because a relative told us during Mama’s wake that that accident also occurred on May 9 some years back. As a brief background, the three of them went to Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan for a day-long trip; they used our first brand new car and our loyal driver for more than two decades now was driving it. With them was a neighbor. On the way back to Manila, in Lingayen, Pangasinan, they met an accident. An owner-type jeep hit them on the left passenger side, where my sister was seated. In the middle was my lola and on the right side was Mama. Mama’s side was the one which fell heavily on the ditch. Passers-by were one in saying that nobody could’ve survived that accident. In fact, our insurance company declared our car a total wreck and replaced it with a brand new one. Thankfully, my sister suffered minor head bruises, while Mama surprisingly had no injuries when in fact she was the point of impact. However, my lola had serious injuries — she suffered a stroke then and had to be transported back to Manila from Dagupan via ambulance. When we checked Mama’s files at home after her funeral, we found out from the police report that that accident happened on May 9, 1993 at 2:00 PM. Mama died on May 9, 2003 at 1:10 PM.
It meant for us that that Our Lady of Manaoag granted Mama her second life way back in 1993. At the time of Mama’s illness in 2003, she was praying for another ten years. We all think that Mama Mary couldn’t extend her life anymore, as it was already extended ten years ago. Up to now, that story never fails to make the hairs of my back raise whenever I hear or remember it. Mama still continues to teach us one of the most important things in life and that’s faithful acceptance.
We all know that Mama is up there in Heaven, safe in the arms of our True Mother and Creator, and reunited with Papa. It still hurts a lot thinking that we’ll never smell her scent again nor hug her tight, but she did leave us with something to work on: to be the best she taught us to be, so we can join her there someday. We sent her back to Heaven with the promise that even if she’s physically gone, she’ll be forever in our hearts.
So I was thirteen when my mother died. But those thirteen years I had with her are the ones I consider as the luckiest years of my life.