Monday, August 27, 2012

Our Thanks...

‘It’s done…’

It was spoken with a finality that was heavily punctuated by a sigh. I looked at her with a wry smile, empathizing with what she felt. Whoever said that weddings are a breeze should be dunked in hot oil and hung upside down in spider webbing. …and forced to listen to Justin Beiber songs…

But I digress.

Our apartment is still a mess. Glass centerpieces, tulle rolled haphazardly across the floor, half open garbage bags filled with more tulle, crumpled paper decors and wedding knick knacks remain untouched, stark reminders of a day that seemed to pass by like a dream…

Except of course, the harsh realities of bills and other stuff tug in the periphery of that dream. Unreturned cook wares that needs returning. Calls that need to be answered, gifts still unopened, and thank you letters that remain unwritten…

‘It’s done…’

Two words that sum it all up, I guess…

But thanks need to be said. In the end it’s all that matters… it’s for the small and great kindnesses that were freely given.


Thank you!

Domo Arigatto!


To all the souls who labored thru the night and early morning to cook the food. Aunties, Manangs, Manongs and friends who gave us their time and sleep to make sure that there will be food served.

To all the people who labored thru the night to set up the décor and wash the dishes, my thanks to all of you!

To our main sponsors who labored through the sweltering heat to join us in our special days, our gratitude goes to you!

To our secondary sponsors, grooms men, bridesmaids, ushers, flower girls, junior secondary sponsors who had to know at the exact moment of the wedding their roles, our heartfelt thanks for your understanding.

For our photographers, videographers, friends, family and all of you who came to share our day, many thanks!

For Pastora Marina for her patience; Lolo John for his sage wisdom and the other pastors who helped us thru the day… may God fill you with more wisdom!

For auntie Nelly for opening her house to us; for Joan for all her labor; for Abby; Auntie Vivian and the kitchen staff; Vera and Mel for all their support and advices; and to all others whose names you know, Domo Arigatto! God Bless you all!

I cannot name all the people who made our day special. I will leave that to God! I pray that for all your help, He will bless you more!!!



Maraming, maraming salamat po!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blues... (30 Posts....)

“Hon, we are stuck in the highway. Something is wrong with the car…”

I stared at my cellphone screen for a long moment, wondering if I was reading it right. My heart was racing and each beat was like a loud cymbal that reverberated through my whole being.

I was rooted to the spot, unable to form anything coherent with my mind. Actually, there were two things in my mind… one that I needed to change my son’s clothes and find a way to reach her… and two to call someone for help.

My mind raced as to who to call – a few names coming to mind but dismissed warily for apprehension that I might be disturbing them instead. I was raised to be independent, to rely on my strengths and to keep my troubles to myself.

Except of course, now, it is different…

The phone rang.

The sudden blare of the ringtone snapped me out of my stupor.

“Hi, Hon” I answered nervously ‘How are you?’ Are you ok?’ How are the kids?’ My mind was literally bursting with questions. My instincts told me to run out and find them… common sense forbid it off course.

“We’re alright. I managed to park the van on the shoulder and *** is coming to pick us up. I want to call AMA but you have the card.”

My breath was erratic. Elation mixed with dread played on my mind. Elation, that they were ok but dread at all the implications of it.

I managed only monosyllables as answers.

“I called our appointments and cancelled some we cant get into because we don’t have a car… and hon, you have to call Auntie, it is important” she was composed.

In retrospect, I find it odd that she was the one who was calm and I was the one with frayed nerves. I couldn’t believe that she was thinking that coolly in the face of that situation.

“I will…” I answered, though my mind was still sorting itself out.

“Ok, she is here. We’ll call the auto shop and have the car towed. Gotta go”

And the line went dead.

I stared at it for a long while, not knowing what to do now.

I found myself going to the sink, opening the tap and washing the dirty dishes there.  I had to keep myself busy, I said to myself. If I just stood there doing nothing, the minutes would drag…

The doorbell rang. I snapped rigid at the sound, my mind conjuring scenarios so bad I quaked visibly.
I half walked – half tiptoed to it, only to see through the blinds that it was her.

My relief was palpable. I embraced her as soon as she got through the door. Life flashes before your eyes, they say of these kinds of moments. The thought of losing someone special is hard… and everyone who has ever had a wife, a child or a parent knows this emotion.

“Thank God, you’re safe honey.”

She smiled.

I wonder how another person would have acted in our shoes at this instant.

For one, our wedding is just nine days away. Our money is running dry because of the car repairs we did and now that car is dead again. Our wedding food is on a strict budget. With our credit and savings almost gone, we have to make do with what we can, praying to God that He will see us through.

A lesser soul would’ve cracked under the pressure.

Add to that the clashes of personality that happen when people of different backgrounds meet.

Weddings are meant to be happy.

As a couple and a family, we are… We find a reason to smile with each trouble that comes.

But when the scope is widened and the rug is pulled from under us, it is human nature to find sadness there.

I wish for many things. I wish our car didn’t break down…. I wish I won the lottery and I wish that people would set aside their egos to let everyone enjoy the day without reservations…

We are flawed human beings…

I’ve always known that…

This world is flawed too…

But in the smiles and the hugs we as a family share, I find that ray of Hope that God has promised…

The Devil might use a lot of weapons against our resolve, even well – meaning friends, but as long as we have that ray of hope that Jesus has promised, we will survive…

…and survive we shall…

God Bless and wherever you are, in whatever state of life you’re in, smile and know that Hope remains…

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Similarities... (30 Posts...)

            In what ways are we similar?

            That’s a question that’s hard to answer.

            We both are Christians. That, I think is the most important similarity that we share. For whatever things that may transpire down the road, our steadfast faith in God will be there to weather us through it all. Through our desire and trust in the Lord, we will always have the strength to overcome anything the life throws our way.

            We carry the scars borne of our fathers – psychological wounds that have defined us and molded us to who we are today. We say that we have moved on, and maybe we have, but the truth remains… our father’s shadows haunt us.

            We love to laugh… laugh together… laugh at each other’s expense… laugh for no reason… without reservations… I can make fun of her and her, me… with some feigned hurt jovially exchanged. We don’t have to keep ourselves in check whenever we chuckle at each other’s expense or express amusement in unbridled fashion.  A sign of a healthy relationship which we hold proudly.

            We love and appreciate beauty – but lest some of you imagine it to be the superficial kind, it’s not. We love bearing witness to the budding blossoms of her orchids by the window, the soft play of sunsets through the half open blinds… or the lazy gurgling of a crystal clear stream as we walk down well beaten paths to catch a glimpse of the river… She dabbles in craft with the kids and I play the role of a word smith… We love paintings and photographs… lovely, beautiful things that make the soul hum in rapture.

            We are both the eldest kids. So I guess that says a lot of things. We understand each other better in some ways. We know how to adapt and to have tons of patience in our dealings. We know when to assert ourselves and when to back off. We come with the maturity of having contended with younger siblings, giving us a greater understanding of who we are… and more.

            We also did live a good deal of our lives alone, she more than me. It made us more independent and stronger. We are not naïve souls at the mercy of the world. Through the years we forged through our lives alone, we gained precious insight on how to deal with what it throws our way… It has also made us loners – solitary souls that yearned for someone to save them – which made our finding each other all the more wonderful and utterly amazing…

            We love books – not romance pocket books – but books. We devour books with reckless abandon. I thank God every day that we both share that passion. We might not share the same taste in books, but the shared love of literature and the openness to expand the mind is a marvelous thing to behold that will help forge the bonds of love that will get stronger with time.

            We love movies (although she has this annoying habit of sleeping in my lap halfway through ninety percent of the movies we watch during movie nights). We laugh through bad comedies and romance flicks. And we both love Sci Fi and Fantasy films (although she doesn’t have the patience to watch speculative, noir and arthouse flicks – and I abhor the horror and slasher movies that she adores). We are cinephiles and except for that sleeping habit of hers (she says my lap is comfy, that’s why she sleeps), I couldn’t ask for more.

            We have more similarities: traits and tastes, convictions and principles that reintroduce us to each other as we share the days of our lives together. It continues to amaze me how each moment that we create reveals our souls to each other – strengthening the bond we both know – putting us deeper and deeper in love…

Reminisces... (30 Posts...)


           “Ay wada ka assa?” (Are you there?) the voice of a neighbor/friend snaps me out of my daydreams of tranquil lakes and fishing boats. For a moment, I wondered if my mind just made it up in order to shake me up from my near slumber.
“Jani, ay wada ka assa?” the question was repeated, louder this time banishing my hopes that it was just a figment of my imagination. I smiled inwardly. Part of me wanted to remain prone in the couch and I was tempted to keep quiet in the hopes that the person outside would assume I wasn’t in and leave.
Maybe I was too good a person. LOL.
I stood up and crossed to the door.
My friend stood in front of our house, a lazy smile on his face.
“Ay wada ikak-am?” (Are you doing anything?) He asked, knowing the answer.
I shrugged.
“Enta ad Kin-iway.” (Let’s go to Kin-iway)
“Ta?” (What for?)
“Basta.” (Generic term that is synonymous with a shrug)
I wondered if I should just make a reason to stay in but decided otherwise. I was bored half off my wits. Maybe its better if I went for a walk. I asked him to wait and informed my mom of my intentions.
We walked in relative silence for a few kilometers, small talk mostly and he gave no clue as to where we would be going.
We reached the heart of Kin-iway and he turned towards the direction of Payeo.
“Umayan ta no?” (Where are we going?”) I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.
“Enta ad kenda auntie”
“Ay ta?” (Why) My mind was now on overdrive, wondering why we were going there. There must be an event there, I surmised, but as to what, my mind came up blank.
“Kasar kua”  (It’s someones wedding) He answered matter of factly.
“Ahh” Now I know. People have been talking about a wedding for the month. I thought it was later – my cluelessness was a sign that I haven’t been going out lately.
I laughed sheepishly, embarrassed at my ignorance.
“As wakgat enya?” (It’s tomorrow right?)
“Wen” (Yeah)

As we neared the place, more and more people joined us. I exchanged a few greetings and smiles. Small towns like ours, everybody knows everybody (and for strangers… eventually). We all shared the same destination.
We found the place teeming with a group of people.
It being the day before the wedding, people go to the brides house to help with everything. Some were there for the gossip (LOL) or to just be seen or to do ‘usyuso’ (put one’s nose in the pot, so to speak), or to help the family of the bride and groom prepare for the big day.
We squeezed ourselves through a group of women and girls paring potatoes, cutting cabbages, Baguio beans and carrots.

“Ay kaanu kan tu pay abes ay makiasawa?” (When will get married too?) More than a few old ladies questioned as they saw me.
“Darasem abes ta menpadawak si inam.” (You do it soon so that your mom will host a wedding too.)
“Ta waday rason si entako madagupan as baey u” (So that we will have a reason to visit your house)
“Sak ited nan essa ay baboy.” (I’ll give a pig)
“Wada san talaken ko ay baka. (I have a cow)

I just gave them a big grin as each of them said what they wanted.

We finally reached the area where the men were busy butchering a few pigs.

“Sipay amam?” (Where’s your dad?)
            “Tagay.” (Drink)
            “Engka man saludsoden ken inan tudi nu into mangikabilan isnan naay natadtad.” (Go find his mother and ask where we are going to put the meat?)
            “Ene, gegen-am, Ay kega pay maid pigsamay.” (Hey, hold it properly, You have strength don’t you?)

            On the side, a group of men have already set up the big cauldrons where a lot of meat cuts are already set to boil. Before there was just one kind of meat dish in weddings. Inanger. Which is large cuts of meat seasoned with only salt and then set to boil in a big pot. Nowadays, people are adding adobo – same meat cuts just with some soy sauce, potatoes and paminta. The veggies being cut by the women will be used to make dry pansit – which will be cooked later in the evening or early morning. Add rice, put them all in a paper plate, silopin (cellophane) or a banana trunk cross-section (I forget the local term) and you have the wedding food.

            It’s a community affair, mostly.

            Local relatives of the bride and groom come together to get the food prepared just in time for the wedding. It’s sort of like an unwritten tradition. Weddings rekindles bonds between people. Before, a distant relative from Tokok will probably come carrying sheaves of rice. The big pots and pans appear from storage and pigs literally come out of pigpens…

            It’s often mostly taken for granted…

            Only when you find yourself far from the reach of such networks do you suddenly realize how precious they are…

            I’m getting married in ten days.

            Instead of pigs, I have cuts of beef in my freezer which my fiancé would bake the night before the wedding. Two Saladmaster machines will replace the tens of ladies who would chit chat their way through several baskets of potatoes and Baguio beans and hired food warmers and a Uhaul truck will replace the men milling around the cooking area. A few good souls have volunteered to cook some dishes and they are a God send. The rest, however, are ours to make.

            I sometimes kid my fiancé that we probably need to excuse ourselves from our own wedding to cook the food we need to serve and she says we have to stay up all night to cook everything. She does this in jest but we both know that there is a ring of truth to it…
            And my thoughts go back to that time when I heard these words through the haze of my daydreaming mind.

            “Ay wada ka assa?”

            And wished that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sacrifices... (30 Posts...)

Love my blog title?

            Or just curious?

          Everything entails sacrifices. I mean, to cite a few examples… you are here because of the sacrifices of your mom. You have hope because of the sacrifice of the Lord. And you are where you’re at because the choices that led you here were all made with certain sacrifices.

            So it goes with weddings… or rather… marriage.

            And love…

            And don’t believe those people who say that there are no sacrifices. They are in a state of denial who are blinded by their own misconceptions and limitations. Or you can believe them… Which doesn’t really matter…

            People who go into serious relationships believing that they won’t change are crazy, selfish and egotistic bastards who are better left alone and held at arms length. They are inflexible creatures who don’t know that love means constant adaptation and change. And yes… sacrifices…

            So, you might ask: what are the sacrifices that I am doing as I transition from singlehood to being married.

            First off is time. And this is the hardest area to compromise. As independent souls so used to having our own schedule and our own weekends for so long, with our time to do with as we wish, transition to marriage is difficult. Our time now has to be apportioned (dreaded word – scheduled) with someone else. And the worst rescheduled part is the sleeping time. We can’t sleep in anymore!!!! (Or at least as often as we like to…)

            There must be time for dinner (before, you just go to the fridge, pop something on the microwave and hunker down in front of your computer) and eat as you see fit. Now you have this thing called breakfast time, lunch time and dinner time (Aren’t those three interchangeable before? LOL). And then you have to make time for each other (movie time, cuddle time, etc)….
            You get the picture.

            Time sacrifices are the hardest. Taken for granted when we were singles, it is now a treasure that must be allocated. Huhu. LOL

            Second is choice.

            And I mean that in general. When we were unattached, we can buy junk food with reckless abandon or any type of food that we fancy. Now, not so much. ‘We must have a full dinner!’ ‘Eat your vegetables!’ ‘Buy Lays, but only BBQ flavor!’ No more ice cream!’

            And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

            ‘You look funny in those pants, change it!’

            ‘Don’t cut your hair, grow it longer!’

            ‘We will have chicken for dinner, if you don’t like it, cook your own!’

            ‘No, we will not watch America Got Talent… we are watching The Bachelorette!’

            ‘That’s not green, It’s supposed to be lime green!’

            …and other stuff.

            But in a good way (lest she kills me, hehe). Restrictions makes us grow more. (I am reminded of that adage ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ and ‘It’s for your own good’ LOL)

            But it is a part of it. As I’ve said sacrifices… It’s part and parcel of love and life…

            Third is dreams. And I know that for most, its hard. But this is in no way negative. Our parents did it, whether we accept it or not and now that we embark on our own journey of marital bliss, we also do it, whether we accept or not.

            I don’t dream no more of life on the road, with a cat and an RV and a camera and a laptop to explore the world. That is unfair to my family if I still harbor that. Maybe a little escape during the weekend or a vacation years from now… but not as a lifestyle.

            And I have to let go of having that house in the middle of the wilderness with a small garden and a laboratory cum workshop in the basement. My dream house now is a safe home in the suburbs with a green lawn in front and cozy rooms filled with love and laughter (and hopefully, a manageable mortgage).

            And I can’t be an geeky researcher engrossed in chemical formulas and process designs. Lets face it, scientists lead lonely eccentric lives not fit to be family men. I now dream of a job that will give me enough to provide for my family, which will give me weekends to spend with them, and stress free enough that I don’t bring work back with me at home. The Nobel prize for chemistry once remotely out of reach, is now… definitely out of reach, hehe.

            And some others… but as you can see, when I say that you sacrifice your dreams, you just alter them or exchange them for others – some much more…

            Like now… some of my dreams include these…
            I dream of being a dad my kids will be proud of everyday of their lives…

            I dream of being a husband and a lover that will be the pride of my wife to be….

            I dream of being an everyday Joe who people at work would say ‘He’s good, nothing bad to say about him…’

            I dream of a few days a year I can get the car and drive to the countryside with my fishing rod….

            I dream of that hour when the kids are asleep and my wife will give me time off to pound the keyboard to attempt and finish that novel that might never get finished…

            Dreams like those…

            Fourth is the hardest (at least for me)… geeky hobbies…

            I can’t play PC games as often as I want to anymore… or watch Anime (we watch horror and bad comedy instead)… She laughs when I buy toys (collectible toys like the Troll she hates and the Lego I keep in my book case)… among others, hehe.

            There are probably more, I know… but these are the major ones, I think.

            Do I look at the sacrifices I am making with regret?

            The answer is no.

            A little nostalgic perhaps…

            But it is all worth it… and much more…

            Because that’s how we become one…

            That’s how we love…

            And that’s why we say with confidence the words

            ‘I do!’

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Knowing Her.... (30 Posts Before the I Dos)


          There is this question that girls and women often ask when they start getting serious in a relationship: ‘Is he the one?’ They probably ask this more than ten times in their lives (I’d say around twenty times on average, hehe).

            Men ask it too. Except maybe on a lesser frequency, like maybe an average of two or three times. Which does not imply that women have a frivolous nature… far from it. It’s one of those ‘women are from venus’ kind of things.

            In the average lifetime of an average Joe, he meets lots of women. He fantasizes about 30% of them (a fact of life), flirts with a few, and gets serious with probably two or three of them. For the rest, it’s probably infatuation or a phase (sorry to say but for men who enter into lots of relationships in life, he is probably only seriously considering a lifelong commitment in just two or three at the max).

            That’s why men will only say the words ‘I love you’ sparingly.

            Because they know instinctively that serious relationships are rare and is a gem that is hard to come by…. Or rather that women who would evoke long term commitments from a man are a dime a dozen.

            So how do you know if the woman in front of you is the one?

            I guess that is the question that everyone is dying to ask. For women asking, there are a lot of magazine articles in Cosmopolitan or other similar publications that will tell you biased and more often frivolous answers to the question. We men laugh when we read them, by the way. Hehe

            But what about for men? How do we know?

            Well… it’s no secret really.

            We just know.

            It’s as simple and as complicated as that. In the beginning of a relationship, we are definitely attracted by a woman’s physical charm (men who deny it are hypocrites). Let me clarify, however, that when I say physical charm, it’s not the idealized beauty that women’s magazines and women’s minds conjure. Yeah, we fantasize about beautiful women but we men know that those kinds of ‘beauty’ are unrealistic and naïve aspirations at best. Physical charm is different and it varies from woman to woman. Each woman has a unique set of it. Some men get attracted, some are repulsed and others merely pass it by.

           Because the beauty of a woman is unique to her. She has a charm that is distinctively hers. It is not a universal measured statistic that can be reduced to numbers. Which women don’t get really…

            So let’s just leave it at that.

            At first you have an attraction. 90% of the time, physical (the number could be higher). It is the door opener of sorts. Then you get to meet (dates) and you have those conversations that build up on the initial attraction. It’s the conversations that make or break it. The more you get to know each other verbally and go through the motions of the dating game, men get that moment in which a light bulb goes off in their mind. Actually, it either goes on or shuts down.

            Knowing she’s the one is one of the ‘wow’ moments in life. Indescribable and utterly mind boggling. It’s one of the few moments of life that cannot be explained by logical explanations.

            It just happens. And men know when it happens.

            And for me?

            It happened in a couch as we just sat together waiting for the model she was applying make-up on and who I was to photograph, finish her thing in front of the mirror. In between awkward silences, sheepish smiles and small talk, the ‘light bulb’ opened up.

           And I just knew right then and there that there is no other woman I want to spend the rest of my life with… other than the one right beside me.

          Women will probably ask me to elaborate more (as she often does) how I really came to know that she is the one.

         Short and truthful answer?

          I can’t.

         That’s the truth. I can enumerate the things I like about her but are those the reasons why I know?

          No, they just come with her. It’s the whole of her, what I like and what I don’t like. Her mannerisms and her ticks and tocks. That and much, much more…

          Because this is the truth that all men know: we don’t fall for a woman because of what she brings to the table. We don’t fall in love because the woman is beautiful, humble, nice, naughty or lovable. We fall in love because of her – the whole package of who she is and if it is real, it doesn’t matter if she is deficient in some other aspect.

          Because when we find the one as I did, we know… we just know that she is the one…

          And out of all the odds, we found each other.

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