Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Tale Of An Unfounded Best Seller

I have started to write this piece a long time ago, but I didn’t know why I just lost interest finishing it. Or maybe because I didn’t know how to cap it, not until I received a call from a friend just today for some hi’s and hello’s and other stuffs (which I will disclose at the last part). And so this is his story.

I have a friend, an overseas Filipino worker like me, and I think he is in trouble. As a matter of fact, he seems to be having an inevitable breakdown.

Well, I became a certified overseas worker since October of 2008. We met at the Hong Kong airport at the immigration line. It appeared that we boarded the same plane as his boarding ticket’s flight details were same as mine. He was China bound too. But to which particular place, I didn’t bother to ask anymore. We rode the same bus to Sheng Shui for the KCR to Lo Wu. From there on of the same day, we parted.

After about eight months on separate ways, I met him again on one of my exits to Hong Kong. He said he was going to Central to remit his salary for his family. So was I for the same reason. And being “old friends”, it was a great moment to have met once again. That time, we found ourselves so comfortable already, as if we have known each other since we were kids, and we took things from there. For the first time, we exchanged numbers. So after each of our transactions was done, we called each other, and had lunch together.

Having too much stories to share regarding our respective jobs, after lunch, we found ourselves sitting together in a bar where most Filipinos would frequent. We ordered beer. At any rate, it is the most common denominator for men to interact. We are both engineers, almost same scope of job. Laughters on our new-fangled experiences, exchanging thoughts on our endeavors.

He said he had a good job back home, but because he felt he isn’t doing well with respect to offering more for his family, he took the challenge for a greater opportunity, thus. He said his deity was his late father, and he is just trying to emulate how his old pushed himself to provide a better future for them siblings then. He confided that his dad also went offshore for a greener pasture, and that’s how them three kiddos finished college.

I wasn’t paying so much attention to each detail he would say, because in reality, we have pretty much the same humble beginnings. All I can sense though is his imminent passion and desire to uplift his family. I see him to be responsible and well meaning. Just one who could be regarded a hero.

After all those “introductions”, suddenly, he became a little serious. Maybe it was the beer, but I can read between the lines, there must be some pent-up emotions he had always wanted to let go. At first he had a hard time opening up, but as he started, I can see the indiscernible grain of tears trying to come out of his eyes. The sadness was too much not to notice. I held myself back.

So he went to share his predicament. His family would not provide him the attention he thinks he deserves. He feels that they must have been overwhelmed by the ‘blessings’ he is providing that they seem can not make time for him anymore – when all he does is nothing else but think about them. Not much of phone calls, or text messages, or e-mails. That they would only call him when there is a domestic concern. He thinks it was a mistake that he decided to work abroad, and that he must have unsuspectingly isolated himself. There is so much guilt within, and he blames himself so bad. That had he not chosen to dream big, he should not be in such quandary.

But he justified his decision by admitting that he would not be worthy as a father if he limits his capability in shaping his family’s stature, much to his children’s future. He would always say that it was the right thing to do.

As he go on, he would shake his head to say that he can only hear their voices when it is him who would call, that he would beg for them to call him sometimes, send him text messages, or e-mail him, share some news about anything, just so that he would feel he is being thought about, and to guarantee his feelings that he is being missed too, the same way he misses his family. And yes, they would do as he tells them – but just for a quite sometime, and then it is the same dilemma all over again.

I wanted to stop him right there because I can feel he is going down. I can hear the masked sobs in between, and so I would lift my glass and bang to his, and we would gulp. Not for the drink, but for him to breath. It is quite heartbreaking to see a willful man having a thought of digging his own hole. It’s a little bizarre for me.

In my heart, I can only sympathize with him. Being in the same boat except for his impasse, I perfectly understand that being away from family generates random thoughts and emotions. Too bad he has to deal with such a thing, and it makes it worse that he has no one to share, and so maybe it was also good that we bumped into each other that day. He should be lucky that I had the time and sympathy to listen, though I was just so sad to hear such a story.

At the back of my mind, I can only appreciate the fact that I do not experience his misery. I can not even catch up with the flooding of the daily (yes, daily, and I am not exaggerating) text messages and e-mails from my wife and kids. In contrast, it is them who would complain that maybe I don’t read their e-mails that is why they do not get a reply to each of their messages, of which I would apologize – not because I don’t read them, but because I simply get engaged with my job, and they would understand, well, a bit. They would call me each weekend to share their Sunday funs - that they went to church and prayed for my health and safety. The kids would tell me how they are doing in school, and I would feel proud of their little achievements. And the proximity is resignedly quenched with the attachment. I am just squarely left of nothing more to nitpick about.

I know I’m not a lucky guy, but with the vast love and care that my family is showering me, I can never imagine being in his shoes, not for one second. Hearing his story, there is just nothing for me to complain.

I had to cheer him up and assure that the rain doesn’t pour in all seasons. And he would shrug his shoulders and smile in jest. I think he had long needed that kind of release, and I must have been of help to a certain extent. We had some more beers and other not-so-glowing stories until we decided it is time to go our own ways as we are separately booked for the overnight before going back to China the next morning.

That night, it was never easy for me to sleep. Some wild thoughts were running in my brain. But there was nothing solid that I can grasp. My feelings were hollow.

After that meeting, I never heard from him like forever again, not until this morning. He called to ask me if he is about to make the right decision. He said he met a married-but-separated Filipina in Hong Kong on his next exit after our drink, and they have communicated well ever since. He confessed that they would spend the night together each time he is in Hong Kong, and that she is providing him the caring and attention he had always been longing from his family. They seem to compliment each other, and now she became his inspiration.

He asked me if it is right that he just send money and would not go spend Christmas with his family back home, and instead 'celebrate' the yuletide with his “new-found friend”. I paused for a few seconds because I must respond very carefully. And so I told him; “Bro, it is not what I tell you, but what you think is right”. And he said; “Thanks bro, I needed that. I may have the same thoughts as you would say afterall, because I think it is just right and fair for me to be happy too”.

I was dumbfounded. I really didn’t know what to say any further. God knows he read my answer wrong, but I know he already made his mind even before he called me. If only I could rescind his track. But I’m settled of how he thought I reacted to his query, because if things are still the same way when he told me his tale, I can only be sure that his wife and kids would not miss him so much anyway. What only became clear to me is one of the many reasons how a family could go down the drain. That when we do not take care of our loved ones, someone else shall take care of them. So in closing, I just wished him a Merry Christmas.

The conversation we just had still runs in my head. Damn, I can’t wait to fly back home six days from now, and spend Christmas with my loving family once again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Purposely Accidental

Love. It is life’s optimum and ultimate purpose. And certainly, it is purely accidental. For one thing specific, it comes in all forms of surprises.

The one whom you think you’d grow old with would appear not to be – and in fact you’d only last for 2 months (how you wish it could have been just 2 weeks, or 2 days), 5 dinner dates (all your treat), and 3 movies (all your treat too, even with the drinks and popcorns), not to mention how you brave all those heavy traffics and heavy rains in fetching and sending him/her back home – of which he/she resides way opposite and off your place. While the one who was always by your sight that you would never see, is in fact the one you’d spend your whole life with. Indeed, purposely accidental.

First love never dies? Wrong. My Mom’s first love was my Dad, and he is dead. End of discussion.

How many of us must have been in long engagements, only to end up to someone else’s arms? Or how many of us must have been drifters for the longest time, until the one we would have unexpected most is now the same person we wake up with in each morning – whom we’d say the sweetest words we could have never imagined?

Unconditional things about love are just a few. There are no standards – go with your preference. There are no limits – it is self regulatory. There are no boundaries – your morals shall dictate on you. And there are no rules – to each’ his own.

One tricky thing about love though is the hurting and pain. Some of us would welcome it as an ‘ingredient’ to spice up the ‘starter’. While others just have no taste bud for ‘ingredients’, wouldn’t care for ‘starters’, and would only settle for the ‘main course’. It all depends on us what we want from love.

Love don’t come easy, this I would unquestionably believe. Everyone is bound to go through the test of times, even when no one press on us. No one tells us the inevitability of standing by. Only we would know what we want, and oftentimes we would not even ask ourselves why. Heck, who would even care anyway!

Some don’t have the strength to fight for love, and wouldn’t spend another minute for ‘uncertainty’, and while they can’t live alone, so that they would rather jump into another relationship even without any grip of guarantee on finding the supposed ‘missing link’. It could be a continuous process, because no matter what, love just goes around, and comes around – in circles.

Indeed, the core of love is within. We seldom care of the people around us. The rationale is not being inconsiderate – but just not being selfish to our own self. There could be an apparent misguidance from a distance, but it’s just ourselves and ourselves alone who would know what are best for us.

But in the contrary, we don’t judge ourselves in everything we do. That’s the job of the people around us. We can only choose and insist on things we partake, but just like when we point fingers onto others, reality remains that more fingers are pointed back on us.

So that we shall never see the beauty of what love brings until we mull over that no man is an island. This thought shall turn all the differences that we are supposed to deal with, if not a must. Love is never solitaire. At minimum, it takes two to tango.

Love gravitates love, and is always mysterious. And its luster shall always depend on how we interlace with its prospectus. We may not be wise while in love, but no one shall ever negate our sanity from us – unless we lose it on purpose. And when that becomes the case, then we become incapable of exercising the whole syllabus. Otherwise, we just have to hold on onto the pieces and pick up from there. We have to develop a feeling that something beautiful must come out.

At the end of the day, we just have to fill up our senses, and be on the happier side while enjoying all the pleasures of love’s journey. With love, we have to admit that no matter what we do – we affect people’s lives, whether accidentally on purpose, or purposely accidental.  We can only be selfish at times, but should never be self-centered at all times. Or you end up always searching for the kind of love that never was.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Honor. Courage. Commitment.

In sports, there is a team that chants “One Big Fight!”. And they shout it at the top of their lungs with utmost pride.

In fights, we would come across with a striking theme that goes, “No Guts, No Glory!”. And the passion is just too strong for a drive.

In academics, there is always the wisdom of “Poverty is not a hindrance to success”. And the motivation is tops.

And in life, “Walk With Faith!”.

But in general, life is but the biggest battle everyone must hurdle. And there is only one ideal course to go through – the trail to survival. We need a lot of courage to walk through life, because day to day is an uphill climb. We can have some breaks in between, but when times get rough, going back is never a possibility. There is only one direction – to move forward.

Inevitably, surrender means defeat, which can also be decimated as suicidal. While some people choose to play dumb, others would feel so small when around with perceived to be bright people. Distraction is either self-inflicted, or willingly achieved. Paranoia will take the driver’s seat, and focus will run sideways. Then you would see these individuals blaming everything and everyone under the sun, or even beyond – except themselves. That’s just awesome.

It takes a lot of courage to succeed, no matter what barometer is exploited as reference or gauge. Different people have different dreams. Some goes for just a notch better than what they presently have, while some guns for big time. It all depends on one’s satisfaction, or when people would seem to be contented. While it is also true that satisfaction or contentment is only an option, and that the so-called destiny is what we make. It is also true that everyone has their own definition of fulfillment.

Everyone can go on dreaming and aiming and reaching and accomplishing their goals, notwithstanding of whatever they want. But it is in the execution towards the objective that differentiates people. Some would choose to chop anything that goes against their ways, while some prefer to consider honor.

Honor. I was taught that it is just but three simple things.
1.    Not to hurt your parents with your actions.
2.    Not to disgrace your family name in humiliation.
3.    Not to put yourself in danger in any measure or form.

Quite easy and straightforward as it may appear, but guess everyone must have violated them a couple of dozen times already. But when we look at the place where we are at and with our own families right now, we should be able to say with head held high that – there is no way we have gravely violated the above definition of honor. There can be delinquencies as surely there were, but must not be those kinds of beyond repair. Being human beings permit the vulnerability to commit mistakes, but should only be within the bounds of extreme consideration that they were not intentional, reflecting on the effect to those around us.

[As of this writing, I got to phone my eldest daughter, and I was hurtfully stung by the bad news that she brought me. She was suspected to have cheated in one of her exams, and that the school had invited my wife to appear the next day to discuss the matter, and as well to hear the side of our child. Be it true or not, and not that I am pompous to even reveal this low blow, but consequences to even apparently small things just seem to ricochet so quickly sometimes. She was crying so sheepishly as we talked, denying the act. But at her age, she has to better start dealing with the consequences of her actions. Not that I do not condone her if she did con, but the situation may also serve as a wake-up call at an earlier stage of her life. Ironically if she did, I am glad that she had this kind of mistakes now, because sooner or later, maybe she may indulge herself into worse situations, and then maybe it would be more irreparable. Now, she can experience the walk of shame, and perhaps, it would give her goose bumps in the future and choose not to go through the same condition all over again.]

Talk is cheap, and that’s a no-brainer. But when the only best friend left to us is our own words and actions, and then it would not be any better than to just let the good things find their ways into our inner selves.

If we commit to ourselves of what we want to achieve, having courage as our vehicle, and honor as our guiding light, there is just no other way to go but to the right direction. And the only factor left to measure success shall be our self gratification and satisfaction. That when in our hearts we can feel that sense of delight, it is only then that we can settle, and call it a day – with nothing but the drive to uphold the fruits of our undertakings, and become the superhero of our wisdom.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Filipino Old Schools

There is just a full string of Filipino cultures that in my humblest opinion, needs revisiting – if not awakening. I can typify these to why we have not moved forward for the longest time, and maybe, yes maybe, this is why we are stuck into where we are until now, leaving us drooling to the progression of other countries surrounding us.

This write-up may not necessarily be correct and accurate, but let me go on anyway. Whether I am wrong or not, it can still be educational both to those who subscribe or differ to my thoughts. And while for the non-believers, then at least they can see the deficiencies opposite my narrative, and may offer the real pictures accordingly on how things affect their lives.


It is always good to see those who have more sharing their blessings to those who have less. But as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. They had their time on their hands. And whatever circumstances they were endowed, there is imminent manifestation that they did not maximize their efforts, and defied their wisdom for a better life. They practiced free will, and when they made up their minds, they did not involve anyone. But then, why is it that when people realize they made the wrong choice, they tend to look after the fruition of the go-getter? With that, I’m a bit lost.

But in reality, this can be attributed to close family ties. There is always the cling on assistance. The motivation to greater leaps is hindered because of the thought that someone shall always look after one’s shoulders. There is no push to gun to realize young dreams via intense enthusiasm. There is always the thought on solicitation of support – as if it is even mandatory. We see it everyday; in the neighborhood, in the papers, on TV - the failure of next of kins is often blamed on the success of the hard workers. Annoying, but true.


For those who go off shore – either for visit or to live, they deem wary even to the most basic rules of the host country. They would never let their guards down. They don’t want any snag. Of which is perfectly in contrast to the behavior that we encompass in our own turf. Ordinary people, learned, uneducated, elites, politicians, regardless of status, age and gender – it is all the same. We care more on how to go around the bend instead of just complying with what should be and go home to be happy with our families, and sleep trouble free.

While for other races that come to visit us, we expect things the same way it is expected from us to be doing that we do not. Double standard, maybe? Undeniably, that’s us.


Tons of superstitious beliefs that even with the kind of advance education and technology that we are endowed, we still tend to subscribe. We create our own ghosts, and get frightened of our own creation. We clip our minds, and cuff our own selves. Instead of moving forward which is expected to be the ideal thing to do, we prefer to either stay still, or worse, step backwards. For one; there is no such thing as sunrise and/or sunset because the sun never moved. As if anyone still doesn’t know, it is the earth that revolves around the sun. That must have been taught in elementary science already, and it seems that to this date, our teachers had always been wrong.

We should be like a memory-card that just continues to absorb and store new things. And for the old files, I bet we tend to delete them, or archive somewhere. We should respect reality at modern times. Betamax is long gone, or you may choose to ask your kids about it for a frown. We may still keep them for reference, but whether we like it or not, we can not put them in use at these times anymore.


Sleep with someone else and admit to your spouse later, and you will be forgiven for being true and honest. Sow kindness and/or be famous and steal big time later, and you shall easily be forgiven because what you did was only a misdemeanor. And the likes, etcetera, and etc… Anything you do becomes a juvenile, with worst consequence of a “please next time don’t you ever do that again”. Hands down, with the absolution already at hand even before a wrongdoing is obligated, it is always welcome to make mistakes. To others, it is even encouraged. That is why the doers would not much show remorse because they know what they shall be accorded anyway.

And we expect those who violate us to be accordingly dealt with? Please… The greatest trick the devil ever did was convincing the world that he didn't exist. We see and we know something not right is happening and we choose to close our eyes, or worst turn blind and outrightly forgive instead of chastise. That’s us, very soft-hearted as a tofu.


This is the worst trait that Filipinos tend to hug tightly on. It is not what you know, but whom you know. The friendship outstands between what is right and wrong. What is idyllic is shadowed by relationships. We elect to dwarf ourselves from the permissible. We side with emotions over morality. Though we show sympathy to the underdogs, it appears to be just a stunt for the show. In reality, we do not accord to the accurate definition of fairness. Our hearts would more often rule over our brains. We just can not discern when to loosen up the ties. We’d always favor to live according to individual benefits. And then we go to church every Sunday to say our thanks for the graces – and for spiritual fortification. I just don’t get it.

I can go on with my list, but these are just some of those that I hate much from the good traits that we Filipinos have. It is not as if I was never integral to these syndromes, but my wisdom dictates me with optimism that one day, we shall get over with from these obstacles for a better standard of life. Maybe it is something that we can dream for our kids and for the next generations – that life would offer them greater experiences as we grow old, and that when they have to back-read on the “renovation” of Filipino culture, they would see our smiles curved in every advantage that they pound on as compared to what we had in our own version of our medieval time.

Whatever, however, whenever – if ever, it may be everyone’s dream to be enjoying better things like other races do, without sacrificing our own Filipino values, morality, and principles. It may just be my prayer now, but I sure hear a lot humming…