Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Road to Serenity

Patience, as we were taught in Sunday School, is a [cardinal] virtue--in the same neighborhood as justice, prudence, fortitude, hope, faith, and charity. And as such, it necessarily intimates a certain extent of moral excellence or goodness or righteousness. Individuals possessing this virtue have nothing but serenity, a sense of calm and tranquility.

Patience, however, like all virtues, is like a commodity or belonging--we usually start with an abundance of it, but it is likewise prone to being exhausted or squandered if we do not conserve or nurture it. It is likewise similar to a fuse wherein a certain level or strength of force can trigger certain buttons.


Just how much patience does one need to live by? Until how much can a person try and understand, condone and forgive a wrongdoer who repeatedly errs, violates or misbehaves? Up to which point can one take the blows and consequently decide to throw in the towel and summarily quit? Like commodities, is there some sort of inventory of its availability, wherein one can re-stock a cupboard or pantry when it goes dangerously low? Like supplies that are requisite stocks in a ration, how low can you go?

I remember growing up being taught by mother--whether directly/consciously or indirectly/subconsciously--the very virtue of patience. Although we were never exactly impoverished, my family was never rich financially. We had three (sometimes more) meals a day, a good roof above our heads, and decent clothing...but never those fancy cars or brand-name/haute coutre clothing or leisurely trips to Europe or extravagant parties or top-of-the-line gadgets and the likes. We were raised to work hard for the money [insert Donna Summer song here..hehehehe]...er, for whatever we have our eyes and hearts set on. We were taught that nothing was served on a silver platter--or at least not to us--and that everything comes with a price that is not necessarily with a peso or dollar (or whatever currency) sign...and such price can only be attained or paid for by hard work and industry. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs from more well-off cousins in the United States, and to be able to buy my own brand-new clothes (or toys or whathaveyous), I needed to work for it by, say, bringing packed lunch to school instead of eat at restaurants in order to save money; or work part-time at a Jollibee branch in Morayta one summer in order to sustain myself for the entire summer in Manila.

What came as a by-product of that kind of hard work was an inner patience that not only made me (and I am confidently assuming, my sister as well) patient in terms of financial struggles, but also in terms of patience with other people's shortcomings or even downright meanness. Ask my highschool and college friends to describe the state of my patience and they will, in chorus, say that it takes a lot to make me mad or lose my temper. Even a couple of years ago--right when I was at the height of my yoga frenzy--a whole room could be in strife or everybody around me could be at each other's throats, but I would still have my calm, focused and laid-back composure intact.

Up until a year or so ago, I think my fuse got worn out. Years of forgiveness, shrugging off misfortunes, bitterly looking the other way, and on-end "It's OK's", I think I snapped. My Anger Management sessions with life coach Carlos Aguilar, Jr., to date, ranks as the sterling example of such realization about the current state of my patience. I have been bombarded with a deluge of setbacks and disappointments (dare I say "catastrophes"??) in the last year or so. Had quite a string of rejections (overseas job posts, gigs at hosting or commercials and print, with prospective "promising" dates, etc.), loss, ailments, problems and heartaches...all of which did not seem to promise a better day. There were moments when it felt as if, while in this dark tunnel, the only light glimmering at the end of the tunnel were actually the headlights of an oncoming ten-wheeler truck that was about to hit me head-on. It had been one failure after the other...and no amount of crying in one corner of the church or imploring with God or endless repetitions of the Serenity Prayers could appease my grieving heart.

I was at my lowest of low when I caught a certain scene from the Steve Carrell-Morgan Freeman movie Evan Almighty. While it wasn't all that laugh-out-loud, a moment in the movie will stay with me forever. It was a truly defining moment that anyone in my--or even worse--state of mind and emotions could use. In a scene at a restaurant, where Freeman (a.k.a. God) was disguised as a wait staff who can anticipate your order or heart's desire (go figure), he asks Evan's wife: "Do you think that God gives us patience when we pray for it, or does he give us opportunities to be patient? And when we ask for courage, does he give us courage or give us opportunities to be courageous?" BAM! I felt as though my heart thudded in the wrong rib, and all of a sudden stopped beating, made me momentarily catch a huge helping of my breath...and started welling up in my eyes and uncontrollably sobbed and sniffed and heaved alternatingly. I knew right away: yes, these are all tests. These roadblocks are merely opportunities to make me exercise, practice, and nurture some more my patience. For what is patience worth if everything was in accord with what's perfect? Or, as I have customarily placed as my auto-signature in my Gmail account: "You will never appreciate the light until you've experienced the darkness" How could I have missed that?

At this crossroad in my life, I hold on to that Evan Almightly scene, as I repetitively hum India.Arie's song "This, Too, Shall Pass". God-willing, I will pass His test with flying colors.

Everyday Manners for Dummies

Have you ever felt victimized by people with no manners...or maybe have forgotten about them? I know I have been. Two in a row.

I was with a common friend Nel about two weeks ago. We were having our usual short brewed Americano at Starbucks. We were chitchatting and having some palaver that we'd normally do. Somewhere in the middle of our musings about finance and old dates and grade school memories, a friend of his came by--a badminton buddy. So they started their hi's and hello's and the palaver of their own, while I was there sitting and sipping my cup of coffee, staring at people passing by the coffee shop. All along I was thinking, Gee, I wonder if Nel remembers that I'm seated beside him and his friend...and will introduce me to him. Apparently, I got my answer to my musing...when the friend came, did their business, and left without being introduced to the warm-bodied homo sapiens seated not more than 3 inches from where they were. I was completely miffed. I mean, I know I was prolly being such a prissy John Robert Powers faculty member guy, but after thorough processing (yes, sorta-kinda like a Microsoft Visio-Tech flowchart format) of what transpired in that last five minutes, I realize that I was a victim of the lack of manners by a companion. I mean, if the roles were reversed, I would have--right off the bat--said, "Oh, by the way, so-and-so, this is [my friend ~ which means this modifier is utterly negligible]." (I won't even get started on the right means of introducing which to who--like if one's older, one's a lady, or if he's being introduced to a big group, etc.) Of course, there are certain recently-getting-common situations where we tend to forget the names of who they are--thus rendering us unable to introduce them without feeling embarrassed that we cannot remember their names (I do, however, use the technique, "Geesh, you know, it's one of those days when I can't seem to remember anything. What is your name again?", which usually works, and is really respectful)...but that still does not give us any reason not to introduce people within the vicinity, most especially if we intend to converse rather lengthily with them. Just freaking introduce your companion to the other person, and get it over and done with...and if that other person knows equally well his manners, he wouldn't even wait for you to introduce him, but will actually extend his right hand and introduce himself--thus saving you the trouble of struggling to remember his name. Certainly no excuses. Really.

Next violator: Gonzalo ("G"). I was having a photoshoot for Ayala Malls' 2008 calendar (that has got its own story later!) at the Serendra area in the Fort, so I made plans with G to meet up for perhaps dinner or coffee...as my shoot starts at 530pm and would finish approximately at 7ish. So it was pretty much settled two days prior to the shoot...with a caveat that we should "text-text" in case schedules get changed. That was totally fine with me. So, a few hours before the shoot, I get a text that G was "just going to pass by and say hello"...and later still that he was still at the Glorietta mall (oh, yeah, I have yet another story about that mall later), waiting for his friend. So I said, "It's OK. I'm just wrapping up with the shoot" and for him to take his time, as it was still early anyway. So when the shoot finishes, I asked him, "What na?" He replies saying he was going to a party (actually, "crashing" was his term), and that he was going to be with his friends at the Serendra. I was a teenie-weenie-bit bamboozled; where did the friends start to get in the picture? Talk about schedules and plans getting major fucked-up. So when it was already 845pm, when my co-models and the crew were all gone, I phoned G to tell him that I'm headed home myself because I was already alone and had nothing better to do. He said that he'll be right with me in 15 minutes and that I should just wait for him, if that's alright. So, fine. I stayed and waited by the fountain area (which, in my own opinion, is a very nice architectural structure at the center of Serendra) and listened to Neil Gaiman's Stardust audiobook in my iPod. about 20 minutes later, G arrives. True to his word, he says hello and after introducing me to his friends--there were three others--his bodily movement suggested he wanted to leave already. So when he asked me rather perfunctorily if I wanted to join the dinner, I just declined and said I couldn't because I won't feel comfortable crashing their private dinner plans...and then uncomfortable silence. After a cough, a shift, and another uncomfortable ruffling of my hair, we bid each other goodbye. I sat a while back on the somehow comfortable concrete benches at the fountain area, now only half-hearing Neil Gaiman chatter...and thought to myself, "What was wrong with that picture?" I just thought about it: wasn't it good manners to show reciprocity in terms of valuation of time? I mean, in that particular case, the least G could have done was sit with me for the amount of time that he made me wait...or at least half of it. Seriously, I felt really miffed yet again. Thank God that that ugly incident was superceded by a totally wonderful date at UCC Coffee Shop at 6750 with a very wonderful and well-mannered person. Bitch fit averted.

In Service Plus, the very first Key Principle is to "Maintain and Enhance Self-Esteem", i.e. to make the customer (or in my cases above, the other person) feel important. That, in my assessment, is the very essence of good manners in terms of being with other people--endeavoring that the other person does not lose face or feel unsubstantial. It is totally about putting yourself in their shoes and realizing what repercussions or reactions your maneuvers would elicit. And not thinking ahead that way, does not just make you a person with no manners but also a generally insensitive or plainly unkind individual.

Would somebody please start distributing Emily Post's good manners book soon?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Dyosko-day, Inday, Die!

If you've never heard of Inday--no, not the generic lady that Annabelle Rama refers to, but the infamous Inday of SMS frenzy--then you haven't checked your phone's inbox in the last two months or so (and having said that, where the hell have you been?!).

Inday. To the best of my knowledge--which, really, isn't much!--I understand that this name has a Visayan origin. Contracted usually as "Day", this is a name that, for some peculiar reason, has been affixed to household help (aka maids [which term, I personally refuse to use to refer to our "maids" in the province; "katulong" for me naturally translates to "helper" and not "servant", as how some people would treat theirs]), particularly the ones of Visayan descent. This is just as applicable as calling a little girl "Ne" (for Nene), a little boy "Toy" (for Totoy), and Inday's counterpart as "Dong" (for Dodong). Don't even get me started with names that are such Pinoy "staples" such as Bong, Baby, and Jun (or Junjun)...

Anyway, as Inday is almost always attached to a female household helper, it is yet another automatic pigeonholing that Indays are almost always naive--primarily because they are almost never schooled, very new to the metropolis, and are never exposed to anything or anyone outside of their wee little sparsely-populated barrios in the boondocks of Tralala County (Damn, this has got to be the most prejudiced, assholic, stereotyped blog entry I've ever made in my almost three years of blogging...and all in 58 words!). So one can just imagine the amusement (and apparent amazement) of now-millions of SMS users when Inday, an ├╝ber-brainy household helper, made her debut in the lives of these SMS users.

This Inday is not your stereotype katulong. She is, as you could surmise from her statements in the now-more than a hundred variations of text messages circulating the country (and the world, thanks to international roaming [like I'd want to know about her while I'm relaxing and sailing in a gondola or bungee jumping in Bali] and forwarded emails), supposedly a college graduate with multiple degrees and even multi-lingual aptitude. Here are just some of her "scintillating" witticisms:

"Listening to the nonsense talk about someone's life is a pathetic way of entertainment. It doesn't contribute to the good of society. I hate character assassinators!"

- Reklamo ni Inday nang nachismis siya ng kapitbahay

"Nurture others with positive, truthful words, not words that hurt. It doesn't cost anything to do so. But mean what you say, and say what you mean. Do it everyday. This is one of the most obvious qualities of the most beloved people. If you cannot be generous financially, at least be generous with your words."

- Sinabi ni Inday nung di siya pinautang at pinagmumura pa ni Misis

"Stop your raucous behavior. It is bound to result in property damages and if that happens there will be corresponding punishment inflicted upon you."

- Hiyaw ni Inday habang pinagbabawalan ang mga bata na huwag malikot

"Despite my early repose, my subconscious persistently delivered a montage of harrowing images of absolute destitution causing beads of bodily fluids to break out from my epidermis resulting in the constant interruption of a satisfying sleep.

- Sagot ni Inday kung bakit sya tinanghali ng gising

"Off you go! Under no circumstance this house would relent to such unabashed display of vagrant destitution."

- Sigaw ni Inday habang pinapaalis ang makulit na pulubi sa gate

"The dwindling resource of hydrogen2 and oxygen present, coupled with the stable amount of precise heat in the thermal environ of the vessel, resulted in the premature hydration of the 'Oryza Sativa,' hence the calefaction factor was rendered lost and wandering when the algid formation came about."

- Sagot ni Inday kung bakit hilaw ang kanin

"What the...??????????????"

- Speechlessness ni Inday nang maligaw sa Chinatown habang bumibili ng herbal medicine

Drunken shrimp and blue lobster meat with caviar served with Milagrosa rice (red variety) and apricot sauce; Vegetables in balsamic vinegar splashed with extra virgin olive oil; Lychee and peach salad with sour cream topped with lemon zests...

- Baon na inihanda ni Inday para kay Jun Jun sa daycare

"Physical stress and excessive work may result to serious damage to one's body. It is therefore essential that once in a while, we take a break from our usual routine to replenish our lost energy."

- Sagot ni Inday kay Misis nang ayaw syang payagang mag day-off


The list goes on. She's even got French and Spanish statements (which where, later on, discovered to be inacccurate almost word-for-word translations, mind you), politically fired-up comments, love-struck messages (to and from her horde of admirers--the Manong guard, Dodong the driver, a gardener, and even Kuya [her employer]), catty-remarks to her detractors (her arch-nemesis, Ederlyn, primarily) and most recently, an irate counter-denigration to ABC's Desperate Housewives racial slur. For crying out loud, she's even got her own blog!


I know a lot of people are profoundly nuts over Inday and her supposedly hilarious comic statements. But really, after a certain point, even great stand-up comedians know when to stop. I think Inday's popularity is approaching stalemate status...and whoever is perpetrating or propelling the smart-aleckness of Inday is slowly running out of witticisms, and is now merely riding on popular issues to keep Inday's head barely above water. Face it: she's not even funny anymore. And as far as I am concerned, only the huge telecoms network are the ones laughing hard.


Utang na loob, patahimikin na si Inday.


And to quote my final Inday message:


Naranasan mo na ba yung feeling na hintay ka ng hintay sa text ng taong mahal mo, na hindi mo naman alam kung mahal ka din nya?


Hirap di ba?


Masakit...


Lalo na kung biglang nag-beep yung phone mo, then excited mong binuksan! Hoping na siya na nga yon!


Yun pala...


Isang putanginang Inday joke lang pala.


I rest my case.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Leaving Yesterday Behind

No. It ain't the song. It's about leaving the past behind and knowing what you want to do with your present, and where you're going to bring it.

A month or so ago, I got an email from a friend from the US and she was feeling rather homesick and lost where she's at. She said she was at a crossroad in her life and that she didn't know anymore where she's going, and whether she's happy with what's happening to her or not.

I sent her this message.

Hey you.

I know exactly how you feel about feeling lost and not really knowing how you should move on. I thought I'd share with you how I overcame that feeling.

I left the USA and came back to Manila (well, you know the "press-release" story and the real story behind that, so let's not even go there!). I'm happy here because my family and *true* friends are here. True, the salary isn't exactly as stellar as being in the US...but I guess, the higher salary there is but necessary because that's just a commensurate compensation for the time spent away from your loved ones and your comfort zone. In here I do not live fears of being "deported" or laid off or discriminated upon without due process. After all, this is MY own country.

Sweets, if you remember when you attended one of my seminars there, I said that it's all about values. Ask yourself--what do you value highest in your life? Career? Money? Stability? Family? Peace of mind? You decide based on those...and you shouldn't have any fears or remorse or regrets after that.

The Philippines ain't that bad. I'm 31, and I'm a Corporate Training manager, earning enough to sustain my moderately modest lifestyle, and nakakapag-abot pa rin sa pamilya ko, and nakakapag-save and invest pa naman. Shempre, I had to adjust my spending/purchasing habits. After all, I'm not a dollar earner anymore. But again, nasa sa iyo naman ang pag-a-adjust e. Everything can be modified, you know.

Leaving the US was the best decision I've ever done. A lot of people disagree and say I'm such an idiot, leaving all that behind. On the contrary, I don't feel any remorse. My value dictates that I should go where ever I'm happiest, sanest, and closest to my family. Those are all here in the Philippines.

I hope you find the answers to your questions.

This, Too, Shall Pass

With everything that is happening in my life right now--painful relationships, seemingly-constant rejections, ailments popping out of nowhere, problems in the family--I couldn't help but feel exhausted. My friend Alex keeps telling me that God has a reason for everything. But at this crossroad in my life, I can't help but ask myself--and Him--what is His reason for this deluge of adversities...because I really, REALLY want to know.

I was in this grim disposition when I left Bataan to go back to Manila. In the bus, I conditioned myself not to sleep the entire journey so I wouldn't have a hard time sleeping in the condo. To keep myself distracted from the 3-hour travel, I turned on my iPod and randomly selected an album to play. I landed on India.Arie's Testimony Volume 1: Life and Relationships. I haven't really listened to the whole album so I figured I should. On album shuffle mode, it started playing. The first three songs hit me hard, and I started crying--yes, again, dammit--silently. I thought I'd share these songs (lyrics and downloads [click the title to view and/or download]) so you'd know what I'm talking about...

Song 1: This, Too, Shall Pass

I achieved so much in life
But I’m an amateur in love
My bank account is doing just fine
But my emotions are bankrupt
My body is nice and strong
But my heart is in a million pieces
When the sun is shining so am I
But when the night falls so does my tears
Sometimes the beatings so loud in my heart
That I can barely tell our voices apart
Sometimes the fear is so loud in my head
That I can barely hear what God says
Then I hear a whisper that this too shall pass
I hear the angel’s whisper that this too shall pass
My ancestors whisper that this day one day will be the past
So I walk in faith that this too shall pass
The one that loved me the most
Turned around and hurt me the worse
I’m doing my best to move on
But the pain just keeps singing me songs
My head and my heart are at war
Cause love ain't happening the way I wanted
Feel like I’m about to break down
Can’t hear the light at the end of the tunnel
So I pray for healing in my heart
To be put back together what is torn apart
And I pray for quiet in my head
That I can hear clearly what God says
Then I hear the whisper that this too shall pass
I hear the Angels whisper that this too shall pass
My ancestors whisper that this day will one day be the past
So I walk in faith that this too shall pass
All of sudden I realize
That it only hurts worse to fight it
So I embrace my shadow
And hold on to the morning light
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
This (This) Too (Too) Shall (shall) Pass (Pass)
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
I hear the angels whisper
that trouble don't have to last always
I hear the angels whisper
Even the day after tomorrow will one day be yesterday.
I hear my angels whisper.
I hear my angels whisper.
This too shall pass.

Song 2: Wings of Forgiveness

I just want you to know after everything that we’ve been through I just want you to know that I still love you
That I still love you
Had to go across the water
Just to find what was here in my heart all along
Spent so much time trying to be right
That I was dead wrong
If Nelson Mandela can forgive his oppressors surely I can forgive you for your passion
You’re only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of resentment and fly high (and fly high)
You’re only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of judgment and fly high on the wings of forgiveness
Had to run to the arms of curiosity
Just to find what was here in my life all along
I have found that the art of simplicity simply means making peace with your complexity
If Gandhi can forgive persecution surely you can forgive me for being so petty
I’m only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of resentment and fly high (and fly high)
You’re only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of judgment and fly high on the wings of forgiveness
I searched for romance, flowers, and affection
What I found is a lesson on what love really is
And how the game of love isn't
Bout how much you can take
But that authentic love is about how much you can give
After everything that we’ve been through I just want you to know that I still love you
Want you to know that I forgive you
(thank you for teaching me how to give)
Want to let you know how much you changed my life
Want to let you know you taught me how to fly
And I wrote this song to tell you this
I’m better ‘cause you taught me how to give
I took a swim in the sea of guilt and misery
To find myself on an island in the middle of nowhere
In my solitude I asked in all the highest truth
And what I was told was to thine own self be true
If Jesus can forgive crucifixion then surely we can survive and find a resolution
Let’s keep it moving
Let’s shake free this gravity of resentment and fly high (and fly high)
You’re only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of judgment and fly high (and fly high)
Let’s keep it moving
Let’s shake free this gravity of commitment and fly high on the wings of forgiveness
After everything that we’ve been through I just want you to know that I still love you
Want you to know that I still love you
(let’s fly high)
Want to let you know how much you changed my life
Want to let you know you taught me how to fly
And I wrote this song to tell you this
I’m better ‘cause you taught me how to give
I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
And I always will love you
And I want to let you know I forgive you
I want to let you know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
I just want you to know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
And I want to let you know I forgive you
I want to let you know I still love you
I want to let you know I still love you
Just want you to know I still love you
Just want you to know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
And I want to let you know I forgive you

Song 3: Private Party

[Chorus:]
I’m having a private party
Ain’t no body here but me, my angels, and my guitar, singin’ baby look how far we’ve come here
I’m havin’ a private party
Learning how to love me
Celebrating the woman I’ve become, yeah
I tried to call my mother, but
She didn’t get where I was going
I called my boyfriend and he said
Call me back a little later baby
I hung up the phone, I felt so alone
Started to feel a little pity
That’s when I realized that I
Gotta find the joy inside of me
[Chorus]
I’m gonna take off all my clothes
Look at myself in the mirror
We’re gonna have a conversation
We’re gonna heal the disconnection
I don’t remember when it started
But this is where it’s gonna end
My body is beautiful and sacred
And I’m gonna celebrate it
[Chorus]
All my life (all my life)
I’ve been looking for (I’ve been looking for)
Somebody else (else)
To make me whole (ooo)
But I had to learn the hard way (ooo)
True love began with me (ooo)
This is not ego or vanity (ooo)
I’m just celebrating me
[Chorus]
Sometimes I’m alone but never lonely
That’s what I’ve come to realize
I’ve learned to love the quiet moments
The Sunday mornings of life
Where I can reach deep down inside
Or out into the universe
I can laugh until I cry
Or I can cry away the hurt
[Chorus]
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday
[Chorus] x 2

I so have to keep these songs in eternal repeat mode and help me be a better person.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

As I Am Laid to Rest

My lolo, Tata Encio (short for Florencio), was laid to rest this afternoon, amidst the intense pouring of the monsoon rain, as if the weather was lamenting with the loved ones he left behind. My lola, Nanang Goring (short for Gregoria), showed no signs of frailty save for her occasional shaking and quivering (presumably brought about by her old age and sheer exhaustion), even as she bid him her last farewell during the final viewing of Tata Encio's remains. But as Tata Encio's casket was lowered into his final resting place, Nanang Goring shed her tears and quietly whispered "Encio, pano na ako ngayong mag-isa na ako?" Being only two persons away from her, I caught those last few words, and I started crying myself...thankful for the rain that would wash it off my face soonafter. I threw in my long-stemmed white rose and whispered, "Tata Encio, buti ka pa, tapos ka na...ako, mahaba pa 'tong lalakbayin ko" and absentmindedly wiped my tears.

As we gathered for the post-funeral merienda sena, we shared fond memories of Tata Encio. I didn't bother joining in--it was a predominantly old crowd and I didn't want to risk breaking down in front of virtual strangers. I did, however, remember, albeit privately. Tata Encio is not my "first-degree" grandpa but he was the only grandfather that I knew from my mother's side (his first cousin, my Mom's father, Tatang [whose name escapes me at the moment, as we've always called him as such], passed away even before I was born). My Lolo Dadoy (short for Conrado) from my father's side was the other. I remember Tata Encio being a very generous person--he was an only child, but he acted as a father and grandfather to practically legions of nephews and grandchildren. He was never mean; he was a real kind soul who never failed to smile or made us smile when we were feeling down. He and Nanang Goring were virtually inseparable--even when going to the toilet. They would take trips together (even when they already migrated to the United States), do morning jogs together, eat meals together and also go to church service together. Theirs was a union that only death could've severed.

Now, that union is missing the other half. I can only pray for strength--both emotional and physical--as well as inner peace for Nanang Goring, as well as the rest of the loved ones that Tata Encio left behind. It is a big waste for the world to have lost yet another kind soul.

Tata Encio, heaven has sent its angels down and given you wings. Do look out for us down here. You will always be in our hearts.

* * *

Last Will and Testament, Signed Ben Redulla

It was prolly the gloomy weather, or perhaps the general mood caused by Tata Encio's passing away, or maybe my near-death experience at the provincial hospital because of "integrated" dehydration-exhaustion-hypoglycemia and later discovering having dangerously low platelets count which could--God forbid--lead to chronic leukemia, that brought me in this somber state of mind. Whatever the cause was, there is no shaking off this grey clouds over me--asking, yet again, "Why, God, why?"

Walking to the memorial park behind Tata Encio's funeral car, I told my sister what I wanted for my last rites...or any event that supervenes upon it. So, in case that happens any time soon, and she forgets, please remind her. Her name's Rachel R. De Vera. She is my best friend in the whole wide world, and I love her to bits.

These are my "terms"...

- I don't want my wake to be in my house in Bataan; instead, in a memorial home here in Manila. I'd hate to have the feel of death linger in that house.
- I want photos of me and my friends and family framed and displayed during the wake. None of those big-ass frames of myself which gives people a maudlin feeling that I'm really gone.
- I'd like to be cremated. My remains put in a really unassuming urn made of porcelain--something to symbolize how fragile my life really was. I will be laid to rest in one of those places where cremated people go to...not in any of those mausoleums I've visited all my life.
- Music to be played as I am being sent to my final resting place should be the likes of Boyz II Men's Visions of a Sunset, or David Foster/Nita Whitaker's Heaven Holds the Ones I Love, or
Sarah McLachlan's I Will Remember You...and none of those old, overused classics like You'll Never Walk Alone, or Footprints in the Sand.
- All my savings and investments and policies go to my sister and her daughter Jasmine.
- I have a tin can in my condo--a round plaid one--that has "love notes" for people I have loved, hated, fought with, made love with, and made friends with over the years. Please have them take which ones are theirs. These will be those things that I failed to tell them while I was alive.
- Everything else goes to charity, as sorted out by my family and very close friends.

If I died tomorrow, I hope I die in peace--free of misery and pain, free of hatred, and flying on the wings of forgiveness.