Sunday, February 29, 2004

Yesterday, I let Mickey decide between going to his violin lessons and joining an art contest the Parents' Association of DLSZ sponsored. He chose the latter. I didn't want him to join too many art contests sponsored by the school as I am an art teacher and should he win, people might just say he did because I influenced the decision. I was reserving him for bigger art contests sponsored by other schools or organizations.

Anyway, his mom wanted him to join, too, arguing that he will only be staying in DLSZ for two more years and that he has not joined too many art contests to date. So, since Mickey wanted, I acceded. I let him do it alone, though. Preparing for his things, registering, etc. When I saw that he was seated comfortable on the table, I left him and joined Rolly V and came back for him at the end of the contest.

When I arrived back, I looked for his work. It had very nice composition but a little pale. (He said he wanted to use craypas but ran out of them. Told him to buy a fresh one from the bookstore but it was closed. He used poster color) Then, I noticed that they were judging so, I pulled back and observed. What the judges did was put markers on their choices, first green marker on their preliminary, then pink then orange... so I know who was winning. Mickey's work was competing well. There were three works containing three greens. Then during the second judging, when Mickey's had three greens and two pinks, the last judge suddenly changed her mind and chose the other of the two.

Mickey lost. He was fourth place. If only he used craypas and if only his work was not placed underneath and below eye level... I saw how disappointed my child was. I cried for him as i know he wanted it bad. He was saying "why not even third?" I can see how he suffered inside. I wanted to console him, hug him but I know he wouldn't appreciate me doing that in front of all those people as he is now a big boy.

What's a father to during moments like this? Even if I wanted him to win, I couldn't. Besides, I know this will toughen him up. I'd rather he loses now than later in life. He wins all the time at this early age and several things might happen: 1. he becomes big-headed 2. lose interest 3. will never know how to fail and become depressed when he does.

All I can say is that I am very very proud of my son. He is becoming very responsible, independent, knows what he likes and most of all, maturing fast correctly.

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Saturday, February 28, 2004

We just had our concert last night. It was very successful. i didn't expect we would have a big turnout. The first time the theater was filled to the brim -- an SRO night. Not bad. To think the students stayed even if they had been dismissed almost an hour and half earlier. And they did stay until the finale. I'm glad we made the changes.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The kids are watching the Hunchback of Notre Dame on the Disney channel. They are having a guffaw at Mickey as he reminisces his speaking lines on the school play.

Talking about performances, i just got home from my first directorial job. The teachers are having a concert on Friday and I am directing it. Today being a no class day as we are celebrating the Edsa revolution, the teachers agreed to have a technical rehearsal today.

Well, the show turned out to be very long and dragging. I have talked to all the performers during curtain call that I am changing the sequence of the show and will probably have to ask to cut down some of the numbers. They all agreed. We'll see what happens on Friday.

Oh, once again, Mickey will be in the limelight tomorrow. He will be performing with the school orchestra. What that means is that we will have to go home late again until Friday. I'm not complaining, though.

I should be talking about the EDSA revolution but I think it has lost its magic. What with all the government officials running the affairs of government, its just like we never changed. Maybe we did, only we got worse.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Once in a while, a person is treated to the good life. Last Saturday, I was invited to attend one of my students', Kamille Grant's debut party. It was a grandiose affair. Food and beverage were not only overflowing but delicious, too. When I arrived at Carlo Mendoza's house, her boyfriend, where the party was taking place, I was greeted by my students. They seem to have been pleased I showed up. I didn't know what to expect as this was the first debut party I was attending alone -- not only that, I was requested to be the first dance in the 18 roses ceremony. (I think the dad is in the States)

Anyway, the coordinator talked to me and coached me on what to do. Present the rose, walk her around the stage for everyone to see, dance with her and wait for the next guy who will tap my shoulder. As easy as that. The only thing was the dance floor was a makeshift one above the pool - I imagine it was the deepest part. I can tell by the looks of the tiles. I was thinking, "What if I miss my step and we both come crushing down the pool?" That would really be humiliating. hehehe.

Kamille was very beautiful that night. Her light make-up was just right for her clothes. Her presentation was accompanied by an incredible fireworks display. I was thinking if that was such a good idea as the people were watching the fireworks instead of her. Hmmm, maybe not, I don't know.

The following day, Kuya Ben asked me to go with his family to Eagle's Ridge, an exclusive club with all the facilities you can imagine. He was meeting friends who were proposing that they get a shared unit. It had the biggest golf course in Asia with 72 holes. Four different golf courses designed by golf champions like Dye, Palmer, etc. The clubhouse was impeccably designed to house several swimming pools, a spa, gym, bowling alleys, billiard halls, a theater, the works. We ate lunch at Tagaytay and there, they signed the reservation form.

At around 8:30 pm, Kuya Ben asked me to join him for a massage at the spa. That was the icing on the cake. Although we went home at 12:30 am, it was still a welcome respite from the hustles and bustles of my everyday job.

This weekend made me realize that it just is amazing how people can live luxuriously amid the hardships, the economic turmoil most of the Filipinos are experiencing. My question is, does it matter to the masses if they can't afford these luxuries? is the adage, "What one doesn't know, won't hurt him" true?

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Friday, February 20, 2004

This one got lost. I posted this yesterday but got lost when I tried to edit it. Anyway, its a page dedicated to my son, Mickey, who performed yesterday in the school's annual production play, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". This is Mickey's third play. We were together in his and Kim's first play, "Teach the World" shown at the Aguinaldo Theater, the last play to be shown outside of Zobel, and the last one for Tony Espejo as director. Mickey's second play was "Peter Pan" where he played one of the pirates.

What makes this year's play is that he has speaking lines! Well, it was just two to three sentences, but hey, that's alright. I have always been proud of this boy. He works hard with anything he sets his eyes on. The violin, painting and performing. I have witnessed how he can be very enthusiastic.

What really inspires me with him is that I see myself in him. I, too, have been in my school's production play. I recall very vividly my first stint with "A Toast to the Arts" where we showcased snippets of various plays and "A Model Bride". I was in Grade 5 and Grade 6 respectively. What we enjoyed most was interacting with the opposite sex. La Consolacion School in Caloocan where I spent 6 years of my life, was semi-co-ed. I say semi because although the school had boys and girls, they were separated by sectioning. What we thought was unfair was that the nuns arranged for the sectioning like as if it were odd and even numbers, only, they used letters instead. Hence, Sections A, C, and E for example were for girls and Sections B,D, and F would be for boys. I had always belonged to the honor's class and I remembered our teachers saying we were second to the girls. We knew that was unfair but couldn't speak our minds just yet. So you see, I was treading on the right path during my elementary years. What happened during high school is another story. I indulged with too many "vices" like smoking, drinking, and playing hooky. Besides, living as an adolescent during the 70's was tough. It was the first quarter storm, the Marcos years and the boom of the marijuana and other stuff. Truly, not a good example for my kids

Anyway, this page is dedicated to Mickey. I hope he continues knowing what he wants and working for it really hard. And that may he always be guided to know what is right and what is wrong. I shall support him all the way, no matter what, as long as he is in the right path.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

A lot of things happened this weekend. Saturday, we celebrated Wat’s birthday in their condo unit. What’s more memorable was after dinner, Edgar and I were at the pool side, smoking cigarettes. There was this Indian guy who approached Edgar. He seemed to have asked Edgar a question to which he politely replied. Soon, we were already discussing. During the discussion, it happened that the Indian guy mentioned that he taught in La Salle University. At that instant, I told him that I do teach in La Salle, too. Then, he said he did teach in Zobel for sometime when Mr. Cadlum was the principal. Surprised, I asked him, “Don’t tell me your name is Khuzupilly (pronounced as Ku-ru-pili). He was astounded. More so when I told him that his first name is Sebastian. He couldn’t remember me but he said that was correct. No wonder, he looked familiar. After that brief encounter and small talk of reminiscing of old times, I told Edgar it was time for us to return to the party. However, Ollie and Joven arrived so we stayed there for a while.

When we decided to come back to the party, Joven, in true Filipino fashion, asked him if he wanted to join. And he did! We introduced him to Wat and Ompong and when he was offered food, he went directly to the buffet table and practically got everything to be had without batting an eyelash. He didn’t need to be entertained. He felt at home and too close for comfort. He first had an eye at Jenny as I saw him giving her a glance a couple of times. Besides, he told me that Jenny was very beautiful. I ignored this. When he realized he couldn’t get me or anybody from our table interested, he stood up and talked with Tetay and her friend who were seated in another table.

At this point, I, and the guys from our table, had gone outside the hall to smoke anew. Soon after, Tetay followed and told us that she’s peeved at Sebastian as he was very straightforward. Tetay said that Sebastian even told her that he wanted to sire her children. We joked Tetay by saying. “why didn’t you tell him you’re gay?”

To make a long story short, we couldn’t find a way to drive him away. When Kathy came to tell us to get Sebastian as he was pestering Kgan, I decided to get him. Maybe he took the cue as he told me that he was about to go home. So I said, okay.

Sebastian had never been popular in Zobel during his small stint. He has several ways that would annoy any Filipino. As a matter of fact, he had been the butt of jokes by students and teachers alike. It turns out that he hasn’t changed to this day. Even if he claims that he has a condo unit being rented by a Sudanese, he seemed like a beggar who was looking for a free dinner. He had been staying in the country for twenty years and it seems like he never learned the culture. He was lucky the guys took his passes at Tetay as a joke. He couldn’t have gotten out of the building alive had any of the boys taken him seriously. Of course, having been an acquaintance of mine helped.

The second incident was about my car. I was about to visit my mom yesterday when I decided to have my car serviced at my usual Shell service shop. My car has not had a tune up and change of oil since July. What happened was a nightmare. The change oil procedure went smoothly. During the tune-up, the mechanic was having a hard time replacing the contact point. Since it was way past lunchtime, he left the car and another mechanic took charge. When he thought everything was fine, he ran the engine to crank it up. I suddenly heard a loud bang from the engine. By this time, my original mechanic was back from his lunch. It turned out that during the course of replacing the contact point, one screw was misplaced and got stuck at the distributor damaging the gears of the distributor and the crankshaft.

The extent of the damage was great that I couldn't take the car home and was only able to get it tonight. The poor mechanic had to bear the cost and will probably be suspended according to the owner. I told the owner that I wasn't asking that he be suspended. All I wanted was for the car to be put back in order and that's it. He said that the guy has to learn his lesson.

Actually, the car was put to even better condition after this incident as the engine was given a complete top overhaul. The gaskets have been replaced and I now have one brand new distributor. My heart bleeds for the poor mechanic but i can't do anything about it.

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

Finally, I got to browse through all the buttons in this blog. I think my date is accurate now. Hmmm, for someone who's as old as I am, two months to figure that one out is really slow. Hmph! Who said I had the time to go over all the buttons, huh?

Anyway, yesterday, Valentine's day was my father's death anniversary. Yes, my father died from a fatal hearth attack, his first, on Valentine's day, the day of the hearts. How ironical is that, huh? That was in 1983. I was just a newly employed artist at the Auciovisual Center of De La Salle University. No, I think I was already staying for a year.

It would have been a happy occasion. That day, my painting which was commissioned by the University to commemorate its transition from a college to a university was inaugurated and displayed at the library. (I don't know where that is now. Shows what happens to a painting done by a nobody. Ah, I don't believe anybody in the University has a good sense in art anyway, so it doesn't matter to me anymore.) I was happy because my picture with the painting came out in the dailies at the time.

The chorale I was in was tasked to sing during the mass and I was asked to play the guitar with a lot of reluctance. I didn't know how to play any of the songs and not a frequent mass goer, I feared I might commit a mistake. True enough, I did. I played before my cue and I was so ashamed.

That night, being the 14th, a salary day, i saw my father at the small store he was managing after retirement, gave him Php100 and told him to have his foot wound treated. He simply took the notebook he kept, casually subtracted the money I owed him (I didn't know he was counting...cigarettes, allowances...accumulated since the last year. I was already a working individual remember? He was always particular about each one of us siblings being independent) He seemed glad, even felt he was proud, that I did that. After that, I proceeded to the dining table and ate my requested dinner of laing when I suddenly heard my dad shout. I wondered what was happening. He proceeded to the storage room, got his jacket and said he was shivering. I tried to feel his temperature and realized he was not well. I called Ate Becky and Kuya Renie who were then at the parlor. Told them to come home as something's happening to my dad. They immediately arrived and called for a cab.

I didn't go but told myself, should my father be confined at MCM, I would be the one to stay there as it was very near La Salle. At around 10, the phone rang. I got a sense of a bad foreboding. It was Jongjong. He was crying and told me that my dad was given a 50-50 chance. I told him not to worry as everything's going to be alright. Not knowing how to react to the call, I told him to hang-up as someone might be trying to reach us. All this time, my mother was upstairs, praying, I guess.

After a few moments, the phone rang again. i knew my dad was gone. My brother didn't have to say anything but he did. Crying, he informed me that my dad was gone. Again, not knowing how to react, I remember my response. "Don't take him home until I have gone to the office." I couldn't bear looking at him dead.

At that moment, I saw my mother descending the stairs. I knew I didn't have to say anything. All she needed was confirmation and closure to her apprehensions. As expected, she asked who it was. I told her it was Kuya Renie and that Tatay was given a 50-50 chance. (I couldn't bear telling her about my father's death alone) Again, like as if she didn't know what that meant, she asked me. I told her it might be dangerous but things will be alright. Then, I asked her to clean the house. I let her do it alone thinking if she would be weak when the news comes to her, she would not have time to be hysterical. (I was just 26 at the time, okay?)

Then the long wait. She was very busy cleaning here and there and we were very silent, not talking with one another. Somehow, I needed to tell someone and decided to call Lyn and Ebeth. They were shocked.

At around 3 am, a taxi arrived. As soon as my mother saw that my other sisters who didn't live with us were alighting the cab, she cried. Kuya Renie ran to her side while I met my other sisters.

After the initial burst of tears, everybody went to search for clothes for my dad. I ran to the kitchen and tried to look for my shoes. I was shining it when Ate Becky saw me, frantically applying shoe polish. Later on, I learned they don't put shoes on dead people. My sister just let me do what I was doing in spite of knowing the shoes wouldn't be worn anyway. After that, while we were waiting for my dad, Ate Becky gave its one of us Ativan, a downer, to calm us all.

My father arrived. My sisters took care of him, clothed him and decided that he should wear his golden American President Lines service pin. We were all gathered in front of him, with each one to his/her own thoughts when we all noticed, but didn't care, about a butterfly going around us. It fluttered above each head then suddenly landed on my brother's shoulder, then flew away. We knew that butterfly was our dad bidding us farewell and his blessings. No matter where he is now, I know he is peaceful and proud that I took a liking to writing, especially poetry, as he was a poet, himself.

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Friday, February 13, 2004

I decided to change my blog name from “my dreams” to “soft grumbles” today. Yeah, yeah. “What’s in a name, right?” Hmmm, a lot! A name is very important. Not only does it carry the identity of something but more importantly, it is the first thing read. Just like the opening lines, if the name’s not catchy, nobody will go on reading. Not that anybody’s reading this blog but who knows? Someday -- when I get good at it, someone will pass by and get to read my entries – like, say, my children! Actually, all my works are for my children. My thinking is that if I can’t leave them with material wealth, perhaps I can leave them with a legacy of some sort. Here, they will know how I lived my life, what I believed in, my aspirations and goals, etc.

I don’t like my current title here. It sounds so ordinary and too teen-ish like as if the whole thing’s from the mind of a 13 year old. My choices were “Soft Murmur”, “Soft whinings” and “Soft Birdie”. The first one sounds redundant while the second sounds egotistic and pathetic. I wouldn’t even dare talk about the third one. Bad for my macho image. At any rate, I know it has to bear the word “soft” as it hasn’t found its voice yet. “Whinings” can be a good combination but it sounds too soft. I think I like the word “grumble”. The harshness of the word is to my liking. Oh well, I know I can still think of something else in due time. For now, “Soft Grumbles” will suffice.

Okay, now that that’s done, let’s get down to business and talk about religion. I was inside the toilet when I thought about God. Yes, the toilet! Of all the neat places I can go to for meditation, I suddenly thought of God inside the toilet. Beats me how that happened, dude! A near death experience while heaving my last sigh, perhaps. Anyway, I was practically brought up by nuns! From Grades 1 to 6, I studied at St. Joseph’s Academy, later on changed to La Consolacion in Caloocan. Then later on, third year high school at St. Paul’s College at San Miguel, Bulacan. My Catholic training, should I say, was very rigid. Compulsary masses every Sunday, monthly confessions, rosary and all that! I remember I had to have the parish priest sign a card to attest that I attended mass every Sunday. Since there were a lot of students from my school lined up for the priest’s signature, I would ask my older sister to do it for me. Later on, I would stay in the house and let her bring the card with her. The penalty for not hearing mass was stiff. You either write your name legibly a hundred times or you recite the Act of Contrition I front of the class. Then, there was the rosary month. Boy, it was always a problem as everybody who forgets their rosary are told to stand at the stage while everybody prayed during morning assembly. The tongue-lashing that followed was very humiliating.

In spite of all that, I cannot consider myself a practicing Catholic. I seldom hear mass, much to the disappointment of my wife, who is very religious, and her mother, who is definitely a devotee. But do we measure one’s dedication to God by the number of times one hears mass? I can see a lot of people distracted in church. What they seem to do is mumble the prayer while they are busy fanning themselves to seek relief from the heat. Then, there’s the noise coming from children who play around, sometimes, crying loudly when their parents do not give in to their wishes. How many ever listens intently to the Gospel? More so, the long sermon the priest gives. I wonder.

What I do know is that there is a God. A very understanding God who is not pleased by how much prayers we can recite in one sitting. A God who is not vengeful that He would condemn to eternal damnation anyone who forgets to hear mass on Sunday. What I do believe in is that there is a just God who will answer our well-intentioned prayers in His own time -- that there is a universal law of repatriation (karma) from transgressions against individuals. That there is a heaven where we shall all be when the right time comes although it might not what we conceive it to be and that neither should I question the existence of God nor His wisdom. That we were all created in His own image and so are created equally and as such, no man has any right to look down on another human. These are what I firmly believe in that I want my children to follow.

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Monday, February 09, 2004

FPJ's siring a child with another woman, a certain starlet by the name of Ana Marin, has been in the headlines since last week. This is not surprising in a land where machismo is measured by the number of concubines a man keeps. The logic is so simple, it is downright stupid. To the Filipino mind, keeping as many concubines can only mean one thing. That he is very handsome and that women can't help swooning for his affections or his sexual appetite is very strong. This is nothing new, really.

Loren Legarda was said to have been heard to say that FPJ's admission of having a son out of wedlock is laudable because "he is honest!" hahaha, if he had been honest, would he have sired a son with another woman? It would have been forgiveable had this happened before marriage. This is not the case, however. Everybody knows who his wife is, and everybody knows they do not have children because "he is baog!" That was the popular tsismis before he entered politics. I have read that there are more children with several women. Now, talk about honesty. His supposed "love child" would not have even surfaced had not Jessica Soho asked the question. Surprisingly, his men are using this as propaganda for his campaign saying he is "daringly honest" in spite of the odds. Galing!

In my book, there goes his aspirations for the presidency. However, I know this may not be the case. Filipinos, religion and all, are very forgiving with regard to male promiscuity. We showed it during the last Presidential elections, we may do it again. Politics - bah! A circus indeed.

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Yesterday was Jenny's and Coby's birthday. So that we can be accomodated, Jenny decided to hold her party last Saturday, Feb. 7, in her house. Since it was a Saturday, the traffic was heavy, as usual, at the Coastal Road. Actually, it wasn't that bad. It only was heaviest at the end of the highway.

We pigged-out on Jenny's feast of various food and booze. Surprisingly, without even meaning to, Jenny, Joven, Redjie, Kathy and Nitz came in red. Hmm, advanced Valentine's party (?) We had to go home before everybody else at around 2 am as Nitz will still have to prepare for Coby's birthday. (WE were not expecting company, though. Just Abet and his family and of course, Kuya Ben's. Manong Polly couldn't make it because Ate Zeny was sick.) Besides, i was really tired! I practiced tennis with Kuya Ben and Jaren and we really had a thorough work-out. Then, I cleaned the house and the car after that.

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Monday, February 02, 2004

I took my children to a movie at Megamall this Sunday afternoon. We went to see The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise. It was such a beautiful movie packed with a lot of action that Coby wanted to stay some more and finish the movie again. Even much more surprising was the that other kids, especially Kgan who would usually protest, agreed to stay on. I'm glad we went.

I have a big fascination for Japanese culture. Its replete with age old traditions that make sense. Of course, hara kiri is going over the edge but come to think of it, if we had that tradition, we would have more competent leaders for sure. Honor and pride seems to be the first to go everytime it concerned money and power with our leaders. Personally, I would have preferred they committed hara kiri. Then, their honor would have been intact and I and other Filipinos would have been spared economic doom.

I'm talking about the tea ceremony, the bowing, removing the shoes on entering a house and everything that gave the Japanese their sense of discipline. Their rigidness and frugality resulted to the fruits they are reaping now. Of course, they had some help from the guilt-laden US of A who allowed them to close their door, and helped them recover the ravages of war after having seen the effects of the A bomb. Nevertheless, they would have never been the economic giant that they are right now had they not been disciplined.

I wonder what they would have been had they been colonized. And since I am on the topic, what would we have become had we not been. I'm sure we would not have remained uncivilized like the westerners wanted us to believe. Afterall, we had our own literature, our own religion (monotheistic at that) and other things that will prove we were civilized. Too bad we can only hypothesize now and sigh.

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