Sunday, April 26, 2009

Just Cooking The Rice That I Have

Birthday celebrations are occasions that anyone would expect to be fun in any form. Red should be the color of the day. Some would even plan way ahead for a grand one. Griefs must take the back seat, or have no place at all.

But I can only settle for the humblest way to celebrate – with the thought that… “Hey, it will pass through naturally anyway”. Or maybe I can try to con myself that it is just like another one of those ordinary days.

Without so much ado, yes, today is my birthday. My 41st to be exact. Have I be home where I belong, I should have lots of great things in mind. But the "fracture" of seclusion is my resolve to unwillingly confine myself just with me. I think I have no other choice but to celebrate it the way it has to be - in solidarity. But why, there is no better way anyway. It is just a matter of attitude now how I should drive my mood. I think I just have to choose to just be happy today.

So as I planned to get moving, I thought that I should rather be writing on my blog once again. Why not? To the place where I am, I don't have my family to kiss me as I would wake up this morning. No bosom buddies to call in to bang some beers. No folks to have a nice lunch or dinner with. Even if I try and push my luck to go out, I can't flag a taxi by my own. First, I don't know where I should go. And more seriously, I can not communicate by the native tongue of this foreign land. And worse of all, a taxi driver that can speak English is as remote as my chances in the lottery. This is one dilemma that I always had, but not life threatening though. That's why I don't think so seriously about it.

I guess for this kind of isolated occasion, I can only submit that I trapped myself by my own dedication - being away from home for the opportunity to provide my family a better life. It is always within my utmost prayers that my small sacrifice would result to what we have always prayed and dreamed of. That is why I am not even entitled to feel sad or miserable about being alone today, because I have to cogitate that I am away for a mission. Such a nostalgic day doesn't happen 365 times in a year. It just have to happen as foreseen.

But I am as well thankful of this chance that I'm all alone celebrating today. Now I can practically self check and reflect and meditate and mull what should I be motivated about for being away - just by myself. I would like to listen what my heart would say, and if there is a need to doubt my decisions, or wisdom in life. And that maybe before this day is over, I could grab a beer and greet myself a self-effacing birthday. And I hope that I would be just grateful to welcome it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

That Wonderful Family Adventure

It's been a year since Jia, our youngest daughter, had continuously chanted about Hong Kong Disneyland. Just barely 3 years old then, we would not know where she heard about it. And as any set of parents would respond to their young children's dreams, despite to the fact that her whim was too way off our financial capability, I doubt if anyone dare say "no". And because she would not stop, Jackie and I would say, "Very soon, baby. Before you knew it, we're already there...". And that's how it all began.

17th of April 2009, coming from China where I am presently employed, I proceeded to Hong Kong airport to fetch them four. Yes, it's been two and a half months since I saw them, and I can't be more excited than to be with them once again. On my way, I am playing beautiful scenarios in my mind; how tight would I be caressing each one of them, and I can only feel that they shall also be vividly happy to see me too. I know they missed me so much as well, I can feel it every time we talk on the phone. I miss the wits of my kids, and God I miss my wife too.

It's the first ever overseas trip of my jewels. They must be having a lot of 'first times', and mixed emotions must be haunting them all along. I can't wait to hear their stories already. I can't wait to see their excitement. And so 9:30 PM, they arrived. How great was the feeling. I was in trance! I was so speechless that I wish I could freeze the moment.

Our first night was full of stories. My lips are all over their faces. My arms all over their frames. I hope the world would stop for a while. I hope the moment never ends.

Quite tired from the unending stories of their first flight experience, we woke up at 8:00AM. The weather wasn't so good for walking. It was hazy and raining. But nothing can spoil our togetherness. We went out after an hour to grab some food. Each one tried on their chopsticks. Janina was doing well, but not Yohan, or Jia. Jackie tried her luck too, but the grip wasn't so good. Every minute was laughters. How nice to see them ever happy.

Them being new with the place, and with the hampering weather upfront, I decided that we buy our tickets for the next day's trip to the Magic Kingdom. And so we proceeded to the World Wide building in Central. Enticingly, I wasn't aware that it would also be their first time on a subway train. So every move has a touch of a surprise. I knew we're up for lots of fun.

They were amazed to see a lot of Filipinos in Central. I have to tell them that the place is indeed the rendezvous of our countrymen in Hong Kong. And that it is also where I deposit the greater chunk of my salary to my local bank account in Philippines. They felt so at-home in the building. I can see that little by little, they were adjusting. That the feel of Hong Kong is slowly sinking in on them. But the more they were awed when my suki for lunch mentioned my name. I ordered sinigang and pork barbecue. Jackie and Jia munched a bit. But the other two, their eyes were just so busy looking around, somehow trying to look for local folks. All smiles still.

Then we went to The Peak. It was a high altitude place where we could have a bird's eye view of the city. We could have tried to check on the binoculars but it was just too hazy and all fogs. So we shopped for some souvenirs and other pasalubong instead. And my girls enjoyed every moment. And I can only sigh in beam. I can never get tired looking at them. I wish I could keep them happy forever. We went back to the hotel until it was dark. We wrapped up their 'first day' in the city.

We started the next day with more excitement. We are bound to the 'core' of the trip. We are going to the Magic Kingdom! The very drive of Jia, the fulfillment of her dream! Her two sisters could only thank her. They claim that if it wasn't with her, maybe they won't have a chance to see the place too.

From the very second we set foot at the facade, our angels were all stomping, running in joy, as if it was heaven. In joy, I can't help but cry deep inside. Jackie too. We can no longer contain the happy feelings of our gems. We held hands so tightly, and we kissed. Not a single word. We just smiled at each other...

We arrived at Disneyland at about noon time. And immediately, it was all photo sessions in every corner, clicks here and there. The girls can't be tamed anymore. Their adrenaline was just so overwhelming.

They were so amused of the sceneries. It's not that they weren't used to see beautiful places because we always bring them out every chance that we have. But it was just so different that day. Their excitement has just started.

Jia rushed so fast upon seeing the main attraction of the place. It was like Mickey and Minnie had been waiting for us for so long. Unfathomable joy was flashing all over our kids' faces. But we were just starting.

Suddenly we became so tireless. Long walks did not even stress our exhausted legs. The place was so big and wide. And entertainments are in every corner.

We maximized the experience. We won't miss a single ride or amenity. Jia would always pull us to another place. We never stopped moving.

But their young anatomies can only bear so much. We stopped for a while. Some ice cream had to quench our frazzled limbs. It was great to feel the city breeze too.

After a brief pause, we went on to enjoy some more shows. The 3D-movie was a blast to the kids. They would extend their arms to the air to catch the spur. They wanted to join the fun in the screen. They were dazzled with the effects. They would clap for every bang!

Time flew so fast, and then it was dark. 15-minutes before the fireworks at 8:00PM, we positioned ourselves to the front of the Magic Kingdom castle. It was worth the wait. The 11-minute pyrotechnic display was more than what we expected. The kids had straight faces. They can't blink. They can't turn their sights away from the sky.

And then it was time to go. The Disneyland adventure for the day may have ended, but their happy faces were still intact. Jia can not let go easily. "Just one more photo with Mickey Mouse", she would say.

Leaving the place they have dreamed of going for the longest time was never easy. It was good they have bought some souvenirs. That when they go back home, they could physically get hold of something that would remind them on the realization of their fantasy. And so as we walked away, they whispered "Bye Mickey...". But they can't help but to turn around for a last look. Just another "Bye...", they uttered.

20th of April, it was their return date back home. A little last minute shopping for gifts to friends, and a few more walks around Tsim Sha Tsui. A farewell city tour so to speak, just adding up some more count to their extraordinary experience. Some more memories to remember that for sure they won't ever forget.

There was this huge replica of a hand gesture of thanks that we saw along Nathan Road, and we posed for our last photo with the kids. It was nearby the bus station to the airport. They were still having happy faces, while the thought of them leaving me has by that time started to kick in. I'm already beginning to feel sad, but it wasn't right to show them at all.

At 2:30PM I sent them to the airport. My heart got heavier every second, but it's just the way it has to be. As the song goes, 'some good things never last'. But songs have endings. For us, life is an unending process until we choose not live life anymore. That's just too far from my mind now. I guess we have just began.

I was always used of them sending me off to the airport in most of my trips since ages. But when it was my turn, I came to understand how if feels to be left behind - much alone. As they proceeded to the immigration, a dry tear wants to drop. I waved them goodbye, and never looked back.

On my way back to China, I can only hope that I made a difference to their outlooks. I hope that me and my wife had really granted their simple wish to its truest essence. I can feel that they are still exchanging stories while flying up in the sky. God I miss them already, I wish I can be with them again very soon...

Now, as I am all alone in my room again, I can only manage to look at the ceiling. I can not hear my girls' laughters anymore, but I still can see their images - all smiling, flashing me with their happy faces, playing around like nuts. I can still feel their warm and tight embraces, I can still feel their pressing lips to my cheeks. And yes, that lip-lock with my most beloved was just so delighting. The quiver inspired me to keep on 'dreaming' for my most precious gems... my family.

My huge thanks to God for another blessing that He has given us. Indeed, it was a wonderful family adventure that we surely will cherish for a very very long time.