Tuesday, October 7, 2008

'Watch Out For Trucks'

Last weekend, I finished off Robert Fulghum's "What On Earth Have I Done?" It was vintage Fulghum!

One essay in the collection is on his grandchild Brie and one particular incident that belied a child's naivete. I am reproducing the entry in its entirety (in red are my favorite lines):

Brie likes my company. I like hers. And we both like looking good and laughing hard. She's my kind of guy.

Technically speaking she is my grandchild, but I emphasize that we are friends out of mutual admiration, not just blood kin. She is old and wise beyond her years. I am young and goofy behind my years. She aspires to adulthood but hasn't quite gotten the hang of it. And I know what is required of adults, but I just can't get used to being one.

During one recent ride home from a wedding I had officiated, Brie was strangely quiet. I parked the car and we walked hand-in-hand toward my house, where she was spending the night. Still quiet. Suddenly she said:

"I wonder where he is tonight?"


"You know--Him--the man I'll marry someday, the father of your great-grandchildren. He must be out there somewhere. Where is he?"

"I can't imagine. Why do you ask?"

"Well, I worry about him... I hope he's OK."

"Well, if he's going to meet up with you somewhere down the road, then I'm sure he must be fine--safe in the hands of destiny."


I looked down at her and saw trembling lips and teary eyes.

"What's wrong?"

"What if... he got hit... by a truck?... What if... he's hurt?"

I felt tears in my own eyes.

"That would be awful," I mumbled.

"Yes," she sobbed, "he will be so sad and lonely without me."

Just then we went through the kitchen door. My wife saw our distress.

"What's wrong with you two?" she asked.

"Her husband was hit by a truck," I moaned, "and we don't even know where he is or who's taking care of him."


Somewhere out there in the world is a young man.

Him. The One Who. Mr. Someday. I have a message for him:

You don't know it, but something lovely will happen to you someday, whatever may be happening to you now. My dear friend, Brie, is on the way to you. Someday. When she gets there, you'll never be sad and lonely again.

When you meet her, she will be dressed up, looking good, and laughing. And if you are very, very lucky, she not only will become your wife, she will become your best friend. In the meantime, she and I think about you and worry about you. Please take care of yourself.

Watch out for trucks.

So there. Watch out for trucks, my Mr. Someday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Calendar Girl

Lumampas ka na sa kalendaryo. ["Your age is past the number of days in a month."]

I am past that age where I can still squeeze in and look pretty in a wedding gown anyway. It really doesn't matter. As one of my bosses put it, as we age, we ought to be thankful for meaningful relationships. Friendships, for one. Family is another. Faith - and a relationship with the Higher Being - completes the triad that remains constant in our lives.

At 32, what happens next?

I like to believe that I have begun to accept that perhaps I ought to prepare myself for a lifetime without marriage or children - no matter how badly I want one. Perhaps too, I will cease to take myself too seriously. I find myself pausing to pray and praise Him for the wonders that still come my way.

At 32, I am finally home. At 32, it feels like this old girl is catching up on everything beautiful that she missed along the bumpy way. At 32, to borrow Browning, the best is yet to be!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Altering the Balance of Power

Last night, I was able to convince some friends - ABS-CBN's Leonel Velarde and Add Up! Volunteers' Froilan Grate, Cris Espera and Cesyl Alonso - to attend a Leadership Forum hosted by the Ayala Young Leaders Program at the Philippine Conference Hall, Asian Institute of Management in Makati, featuring the so-called Caravan of Good Governance - pockets of hope for Philippine politics. Thanks to NiƱa Terol of Team RP and Ralph Morales of the Ayala Foundation.

The Forum kicked off with Bill Luz of the Makati Business Club urging us that if we want a better country, we must imagine, envision and make it happen. Kaya Natin!'s Harvey Keh followed underscoring that the five local executives who will be speaking at the Forum are "servant leaders with a heart for change."

Gov. Ed Panlilio of Pampanga spoke first. He spoke about the twenty-six (26) and a half years 26 and a half years that he spent in the pastoral ministry and how the 2007 elections apparently coincided with the regular diocesan movements. He was being assigned to another parish and people were petitioning the Archbishop to allow Fr. Ed to stay. The "pricked pride" of the Kapampangans got in the way and he emerged as Pampanga's alternative candidate - hopefully to put an end to Pampana's twelve (12) years under the Lapids who, according to Fr. Ed, were "perceived to be very corrupt"). Fr. Ed quipped that some voters noted that the choice between Lapid and Pineda is a choice between a quarry lord and a jueteng lord. They preferred a candidate who is "Praise the Lord."

With Fr. Ed likewise spoke of two platforms that his administration has undertaken: fight corruption and illegal gambling. With jueteng, he said that Pampanga is now using the bibingka (rice cake) approach - apoy sa baba (fire below) by engendering a culture of savings and industry and apoy sa taas (fire above) through the commencement of various criminal indictments against the proponents of jueteng. The approach harks back to how rice cakes are commonly prepared in the provinces.

Ifugao's Gov. Teddy Baguilat said he dreamt of an Ifugao ruled by Ifugaos and so he went back to his home province to serve. He related the difficulty of having cultural preservation as centerpiece of governance. Mayor Sonia Lorenzo also gave an exemplar of how local governments can make a difference.

Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela urged that we elect only the right people to lead us. She also asked us to understand that leaders "who give people hope, also needs to be encouraged" and cited the recall predicament being faced by Fr. Ed in Pampanga.

Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, the most experienced of the lot noted that he is on his sixth (6th) and final term as City mayor. After almost seventeen (17) years, he observed that we can elect good leaders but "good governance is difficult and is only possible if the people wills it." With a wry smile, he said that often, we think that all we need to do is to "elect the good guys and let them do all the work." Instead, he hopes that my generation will live a new paradigm where "we elect the good guys and make them better."

The Caravan of Good Governance will visit the country's premier State University - UP-Diliman - on September 23, 2008.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Despair's Been Beaten

No one would love me if they knew all the things I hide. - Love Alone by Caedmon's Call

Thank You. Today is a new start for this old girl. Beginnings. Thank You for the acceptance and for the second chance to make things right.

Monday, August 25, 2008

'Hanggang may saysay ang kasaysayan'

Years ago, I read one column of PDI's Conrado De Quiros where said the he was asked why, despite his years, he still writes like an angry young man. (He still writes that way, thank God.)

Beyond Conspiracy: 25 Years after the Aquino Assassination, aired last night by ABS-CBN, gave us reason to stay angry. The review of the documentary by the Philippine Daily Inquirer enthused that it is informative, dramatically presented and emotionally charged.

Indeed it was. With Noel Cabangon's Hanggang Mamatay as fitting music, we saw a parade of the different players - at least the ones who are still alive - and their perceptions of the assassination. Although the documentary markedly leaning towards a partcular side, it presented as objectively as it can, views from the others.

My generation is yet to discover the Ninoy in each of us - or the Jose Burgos, or the Gabriela Silang. Still, do not write us off. Not just yet. Hopefully, after viewing, we can begin the difficult task of shaking off our collective ennui and remind ourselves that Ninoy's death gave us one genuine shot at greatness as a nation.

We will stay angry. Until when? This line in Hanggang Mamatay replies in our behalf: "hanggang may saysay ang kasaysayan."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"We're not exactly strangers, you and I..."

Last month, I had my very first experience of traveling the backpackers' way. It was a route that traversed Banaue (included a hike to Batad village en route to the Teppaya Falls) in Ifugao then Bontoc (Mt. Province) then Sagada (also in Mt. Province) then Baguio City over three (3) days. I was with my Canadian friend, Ian.

On the bus to Baguio, country music played to the entire six (6) hour ride. I couldn't shake off this 1977 song by Conway Twitty, I've Already Loved You In My Mind - from where I took the title for this post.

In a world where loves and friendships seem so ephemeral, our consolation is the thought that as pilgrims - I am tempted to say backpackers - in this life, it is the minute meaningful connections that matter. We are not really strangers, dear reader. As Robert Fulghum would say, consider this a warm hello and a fervent wish that we will meet outside of blogosphere one day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Of Leadership and Fish Tales

I remember an old love letter I received almost seventeen (17) years ago by a now good friend who is now married to someone else. We were about to enter college separately xxx He wrote that he likened me to a fish that dwelled in a small river. According to him, in that small river, this small fish was a rare, beautiful specie that swam its waters like it owned it. He feared that the small fish, when it is released in the vast ocean, might lose its way and forget that it was once a rare, beautiful specie.

True enough, in college, I was content to be part of the herd and remained with anonymous majority. For a time, I thought my old friend was right. I really was an insignificant fish in the vast ocean. I had no qualms since the quiet life suited me – growing up alone makes one comfortable with the company we keep in the empty moments. Gone was the high school go-getter who once wanted to be in – and excel in - everything but the dance club.

But I learned that life has a funny way to teach us its lessons. Due to financial constraints, I have always been taking on part-time employment since college xxx The toll that it took on my time and energy forced me to manage my time efficiently so I can cope with my studies. On hindsight, this was pivotal in revitalizing whatever leadership potential I used to have in high school. It taught me how to best encourage the class to be well-organized, without compromising the quality of our reports and the fun in our non-academic activities xxx

After the first month in the MBA program, I knew that developing my leadership skills would be a priority. This does not mean, though, that I would jump at every leadership opportunity offered by my classes. Cultivating leadership would have to begin with the little things like moderating the class egroup and facilitating the class activities. With my age, I am pressed to set an example for my peers – as a case in point, L7, my OB group, and create a standard of excellence in an atmosphere of genuine camaraderie. Also, every interaction with my professors meant a chance to partake of their wisdom and experience. These are helping me get a great deal more out of the course than I might have otherwise.

Back to that love letter (which for some curious reason I still keep), I still believe that leadership is one of those gifts – like beauty and love - that are honed and appreciated best when we do not feign it, push it or shove it for people to accept and recognize. It develops best when we let it take its natural course. Like the small fish that will always, always rediscover its potential to lead – be it in the small river or in the vast ocean.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Batman Blues

Watched Batman: The Dark Knight with a friend. No, this is not a review of the movie. For that, I'll refer you to the post of a good friend who wrote an insightful review of TDK.

One little bother during the movie was this couple seated two or three rows behind us. The poor guy was explaining the plot to the girl - every step of the way! Wow. My friend remarked that the couple just reminded him why he dated only smart women. I genuinely hope the girl was just faking it.

As the Governator Schwarzenegger once said,"I love smart women. I have no patience for bimbos."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
then I guess it's wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
what will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there's something much more,
something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing, Alfie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
and you'll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie

- Burt Bacharach (1966)

A good friend arrived from China last week and flew back again today. He looks well and even found himself a girl (an old family friend, he claims).

Thank you, dear friend - for lifting the weight of the world off my shoulders - even if only for a few days and for reminding me again that God, in His Infinite Wisdom, has a plan. Take good care of yourself. As one site would tell folks who unsubscribe to its service, many happy trails to you until we find each other again. I will miss you everyday.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On Finding Love

I loved this post of a good friend who's one batch ahead of my class at UP Law. Seeing him again last week - happily married to his one true love - made me remember this post he wrote way back in 2005.

As a prelude to the dreaded V-Day, here are my friend's thoughts on finding love (in bold are the lines I love):

I have waited five years for someone who was not sure to come. All those years, I secretly wished that the gods of our destinies would again conspire to bring us together --- the way they did when she unexpectedly came into my life.

Although all signs indicated that no amount of wishing could alter our fate, I had hoped that the forces of love could overcome the odds. Hope, they say, springs eternal for someone in love. And I was madly in love. To the point of feeling a raging guilt when I engaged in another relationship --- long after I learned that she, too, had another.

I would dream of our moments together: the way she innocently taught me the ways of love. I would see her face everywhere: in exam papers, in television programs, in movie houses.

With her, I learned how to express in concrete the intangible. I learned how to cook, to write in prose, to control my temper, to say little so as to convey more. With her, I also experienced the unfairness of life: to be enchained to an ideal; to lower my defenses, only, to be vulnerable.

I have waited five long years only to realize that she wouldn’t come. For the dreams I weaved were mine alone, and the things I’ve seen weren’t there in the first place. It took me five years to realize that there was no sense in hoping.For the love I thought we shared didn’t happen at all.

When I finally put a period to this madness, my one true love finally came. She found me when I stopped searching for love.

The first time I saw her, I already knew that we were destined to be together. With her, I came to realize that love isn’t all sparks and glows. That to be vulnerable is one thing and to lose one’s self-esteem is another. That love is much a decision as it is a feeling. That it is one joyous emotion coupled with gargantuan responsibilities.

With her I learned that love is not about writing prose or learning how to cook. Love is being who you are but always finding ways to make yourself better. Love is not about weaving dreams but realizing one’s visions. Love is not about hoping but about believing. Love is not about wishing; it is standing by the choices you make, and working hard to make them come true.

With her, I finally understood that the gods of our destinies did not play tricks on me.

Wow. Perhaps all is not lost, after all.