Christmas Eve is just a few hours away. Pretty soon the quiet will settle and I will have the house all to myself.
A couple of my friends have been incessantly inviting me to spend time and have Noche Buena with them. Repeatedly telling me (and others) matter-of-factly that I’m spending Christmas with them. However, I politely declined each offer. I have such great friends who are so sweet, so giving, and so loving. I know they mean when and they don’t want me to be on my own for Christmas. But I don’t want to be an imposition. And frankly, I prefer to be at home for this season. To be closer to the memories of my parents. Where I can be myself. (Put it this way, it’s easier to treat this season in a normal note rather than be reminded of things that have gone.)
When my parents were still alive, we didn’t have any Christmas traditions (the must-have foods like what’s commonly commercialized on TV). As long as there was food on the table, and we went to the Christmas Eve mass that was already enough. It was just like any normal day at home. So I guess our celebration was just downplayed. I guess as I grew up and we all grew older, Christmas was more celebrated in solemnity rather than being a party.
For someone who’s sometimes tagged by friends as a “social butterfly” in most occasions, I honestly prefer the quiet of my home during this Christmas. I guess the past few years (since the time of my dad’s first hospitalization) I’ve lost my moxie in holiday preparations, cheers, and even spirit. But then again, my Christmases were usually spent at my grandma’s house with my relatives.
Wow… I forgot about those memories…
Anyway, now that I’m currently on my own I should start on making my own traditions. Maybe go out and ride my bike, turn up the volume on my music, visit my neighbors, play dress-up, map out my lifeplans… Lol. Well, whatever I may have planned, it’ll be something of my own.
To my bffs, if you’re reading this, please don’t worry about me. It’s cute (and annoying!) that you’re constantly monitoring me but I am totally fine being on my own for this season. I know (and you keep on reminding me) that I’m not an imposition and that I’m practically part of your family but I can’t help feeling like a spectator from the outside-looking-in. And there are some seasons I have to celebrate on my own. You guys enjoy your own traditions while I celebrate (for now) . I’ll see you real soon!
It’s the middle of the week and I’m still on a high from one of the most memorable weekends I’ve ever had. My last Facebook status read like this:
Remember a few months ago I posted that I took on a new sport? Dragon Boat? Well in case you forgot, you can read it here.
My team, Hiraya Minokawa Dabaw (HMD), decided to join the Bugsay Mindanao, the 1st Northern Mindanao Dragon Boat Race once we knew about it. Aside from being able to put into play what we have practiced, the event’s advocacy was right up the alley of our team. And since the race was just in Mindanao, traveling concerns would be easily handled.
The race was hosted by Liceo de Cagayan University, the home of the Liceo U Dragonoids. Other dragon boat teams from all over Mindanao also joined the event. Iligan City was represented by Team Bakunawa, Butuan City by the Fr. Saturnino Urios University (FSUU) Blue Dragons, and 3 more teams from Davao: 1. Hiraya Minokawa Dabaw; 2. Dragons del Sur; and 3. Base Camp (Dragons) Davao.
I don’t think my words can do enough justice to the hype that was going on during those moments, so I’m sharing some photos instead.
Some race photos…
It was truly a memorable experience! We won as Overall Champion with the following awards in our name:
200m Men’s Open Category – 3rd Place
200m Women’s Category -3rd Place
200m Mixed Category – 1st Place
1600m Men’s Open Category – 2nd Place
1600m Mixed Category – 2nd Place
But aside from the awards we won, and the medals, plaques, and trophies we received, it was the feeling of being one with all the other paddlers who joined the race… uniting as One Mindanao! Aside from promoting the sport, the advocacy of safeguarding the river and promoting the conservation of the environment and being part of something positive and life-giving makes all the muscle pains all worth it! Not to mention the bonds we’ve forged with other dragon boat teams in Mindanao.
“Always slice the water with purpose.“
If you want to view more photos, you can also check our Facebook Fanpage here.
I’m also sharing one of the most memorable moments during the whole event. The coolest cool down ever.
Thought I’d share the eulogy made by my godmother which I read during Mom’s interment. It still moves me to tears whenever I read this. I thought I’d honor my mom by sharing this to everyone.
(My godmother’s eulogy for Mom – her best friend)
Shakespeare once wrote,
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
But this Rose is not just a name. Like a Rose she is sweet, attractive, smart. Her character foundation is strong as the stem and has thorns that can prick you back if you have been unjust.
Rosalie as a friend was always available when needed. She cared for and accepted her friends as they are. She maintained her friendships all the way from high school.
Rose, as Mario’s girlfriend was fiercely independent and loving. I had the privilege to know them both before they married. One time, the Davao torrential rains created puddles on the road, Mario carried her on his back so her feet won’t get wet. When she wanted to be mobile, he taught her how to drive. Rose drove her tiny Minica with the fervor or a race-car driver. She could run from 10 kph to 50 kph in two seconds, that is, while backing away from the garage.
Years ago, Rose reported for work at the Ateneo de Davao High School, went straight to Fr. Ricky Lalana’s office (who was then the principal) and told him, “Father, I’m sorry I’m late. I got married this morning.” Rose is a very practical woman.
As a teacher, she was strict, bordering on being a martinet. If you pass by the typing room, you’ll hear it loud and clear, “fingers on the home keys.” Ma’am Rose was one of those who knew zero tolerance before it became a corporate strategy. Her diminutive figure packed a powerful personality.
As a friend, she was true. I met Rose during a very painful period in my life. I just got separated from my husband and had two little boys to raise. I was previously teaching at Maryknoll College in Quezon City. When the separation happened, I lost almost everything, my husband, my home, my job and spirit. Given my flair and verve, I had a difficult time adjusting to a slower pace than that I had in Manila. Everyone was a new friend and a new critic. Rose had a great heart that embraced me from Day one. She saw the simplicity behind my facial war paint, she perceived the unfathomable pain that weighed my heart, she listened to my sorrowful stories and laughed at the jokes that I bravely projected to hide the broken heart. Rose was available. I just had to walk into the typing room and she was ready with tissue to wipe tears. She brought me into her circle and I met her high school friends. From the outside, it may seem that she had a sharp retort for anything. Having spent so much time with her, I marveled at her way of looking at things. She doesn’t say bad things behind a person’s back. If I give a negative comment about anyone, she would respond with, “hayaan mo na, ganyan talaga siya, eh.” (Leave them be, they’re just like that.)And she took me that way as well. When asked, “Paano mo napakisamahan yan si Bel, ang arte-arte niyan.” (How are you able to get along with Bel, she’s so picky.) Her response, “Hah? Eh ganyan talaga siya.” (Huh? Well that’s who she is.)
Nothing was more exciting for her than when she found out she was pregnant. Of course, nag-ninang ako and Mitz was the cutest one ever. One time I dropped by, Mitz was around two years old, she sat on a small stool and was eating. Rose said, “Naa o, nanginabuhi.” (There. Supporting herself.) Mitz was practically eating on her own, as fiercely independent as her mother.
As a wife, she let Mario do his thing. He wanted to sing with a band and he was always out at night. Rose made everyone around her be the best they can be.
As a widow, she was still practical. When I called her to condole with her loss. She just said, “Wala tayong magawa, ganyan talaga ang buhay.”
During one of my trips back in Davao, Mario was still around then, we had dinner in Victoria Plaza. Due to our excitement, we forgot to pay for our meal. It was good that the restaurant personnel knew them from frequent visits. After Mario passed away, I had the opportunity to have time with her. We had a sumptuous lunch and we talked about her retirement career. She wanted to open a sari-sari boutique in her carport area. It now stands half done with a few books for sale in shelves.
Two years ago, I asked her to have lunch with me again and she said she wasn’t feeling well. I told her I will go and see her and she said, “Ay, huwag na. Hindi ko naayos ang bahay. I’ll rest lang.” (Oh, just don’t. The house isn’t fixed. I’ll just rest.) When I came over again, I insisted that we go out. She said, “Hay, anyway, malalaman mo din. May sakit ako. Cancer daw.” (*Sigh* Anyway, you’ll know. I’m sick. May be cancer.) I asked what treatments she was going to undergo and she said, “I have decided to go for a natural way of healing.” We had a long discussion about homeopathy and the natural way of healing the body. “Sus, ngayon puro gulay yung kinakain ko, hindi ko naman kilalala yang mga broccoli, ngayon yan na ang binibili ko.” (Jeez, now I’m just eating purely vegetables. I didn’t use to know about broccoli, now it’s all that I buy.)
In another conversation, she said, “Help me pray na gumaling ako. When I recover, I will go to Cebu and visit you. I will make more lakwatsa now and just enjoy myself.” (Help me pray that I will get well. When I recover, I will go to Cebu and visit you. I will travel more and just enjoy myself.) She never got to go to visit me.
Two weeks ago, I called to tell her that I was going to Davao in mid February. She said, for the first time. “Sige bisitahin mo ako.” (Okay come visit me.) I asked how things were. She said, “I’m in pain.” “Dali na…” (Hurry…)
Tuesday last week, I was dead tired from a series of talks and meetings. I got a late night call from Naxxie Ebarle. “Bel, let’s go and see Rose. Tomorrow maybe too late.” We went to see her before midnight. She was already in a coma-like state. I talked to her. Through misty eyes, I talked about the moments of craziness. During one of the faculty retreats, Fr. Randy dropped by my room and Rose. Before we knew it, talks went around that he was in my room late at night. This miffed Rose. “At ako, nandoon din ako, ah.” (And me… I was there too.) She didn’t want to be left out. Since her students constantly forgot to bring bond paper for typing she would sell them one or two pieces. When pay day was coming and we didn’t have much, we would dig up her box of coupon bond coins and get out “plete” (fare) to tide us over till end of the month. Through the challenges, we laughed. We did look funny together. Me, in my high heels, swaying gait and short skirt and Rose with her purposeful strides and practical shoes. We accepted each other. We shared rooms during retreats, we ate lunch together, shared stories I dare not write about now. We were and are, great friends.
I flew back to Cebu Thursday and Friday morning, Mitz sends the dreaded news. Now I grieve, over the loss. Shed tears for times gone by, for times that will never come and the few days I would have wanted to spend with her.
Mitz, you are your mother’s pride and joy. She was happy whatever made you happy. Rose’s body is gone but her spirit lives in you, in me and in all of us.
I love you Rose. Wherever you are, I will see you one day.
Thank you Ninang. I miss you, Mom.
Contrary to news circulated by people who do not seem to have the proper command of the communication arts, my dragon boat team, the Hiraya Minokawa Dabaw (HMD) is still very much intact and have not been exploded/destroyed/dismantled/broken (I don’t know which to use since the Visayan word released was “bungkag” – a word which I believe is normally used for objects. To be more precise, I googled its translation as such: dismantled \disassembled \knocked down \taken apart \scattered parts). So take your pick.
Again, I would just like to state that our team is still here to stay. There were a number of members who decided to leave the group out of their own volition and with reasons that they can only justify with. In life, it would be unfair if we would hold back people from their happiness. As long as they are happy, we support them.
Now that the issue has been cleared, the HMD is continuously promoting the dragon boat sport to the Davao City community. Being part of the group, we are eager to accept individuals who are interested in our sport.
We train during weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) from 5:00AM – 8:00AM at Bonguyan Beach Resort (at the extreme left side where our boat is currently located). To be continuously updated, please visit our Facebook Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/hirayaminokawadabaw
Some of our recruitment ads:
Thank you for your unwavering support.
HIRAYA MINOKAWA… DABAW!!!
I will never know how it feels like to grow up living with brothers and/or sisters. Being raised as an only child, sibling dynamics (the unspoken bond of closeness, the rivalry, and the long history of memories). I guess I can just speculate how it goes and will always be a spectator on the sidelines… someone from the outside looking in.
Although I have 3 older half-brothers, my relationship with them is not exactly the kind that most people who grew up with their siblings (on the same house) have. And honestly, many factors of the years didn’t do much to bridge the gap I have with them. Civil, yes. Comforting, yup… a little bit. Close? Not exactly.
My older half-brother – Kuya* A – came over to visit this afternoon. (*Kuya in the Philippines means older brother.) Normally, we’d just do the usual pleasantries that I’ve gotten used to over the years. Most often (especially when Mom was still very sick, and during the weeks after she passed on), his visit would include me offering dinner to him and discussing standard matters such as how my Dad’s side of the family is doing. But this time, Kuya A was very, very talkative. He was talking about his older brother, my Kuya J, who is now in New Zealand and about the rushed decision in leaving the country. He seemed very concerned about Kuya J’s welfare overseas with my 2 nieces (Kuya J’s daughters) left to the care of his in-laws in Manila. Then from that topic, he veered off into recalling his childhood and how they grew up under the care of our Lola (grandmother).
I was keeping to myself the whole time but was honestly fascinated by his stories of growing up. How Kuya J would cry when they’d be running late for school in elementary, how he would prepare Kuya A’s stuff for school so that they would be late and practically dragging him hurriedly as they walk from their house to the school. Then to the stories of how Kuya J defended him against punishments dished out by Lola because he came home late or caused a lot of commotion at home. How Kuya J defended him from their eldest brother, Kuya M when he was being his obnoxious self. It was only today that I knew about Kuya J’s “violent” side when Kuya A said Kuya M got a nosebleed when Kuya J punched him because of something he did to Kuya A. After the childhood stories, he continued on to Kuya J’s lovelife and “love” problems with then girlfriend (and current wife). One thing struck me most… when, after an argument with the gf when Kuya J brought along Kuya A to watch a movie with them, Kuya J said “Mas mawala ka pa, kesa kay A.” (I’d rather lose you, rather than A.)
Blood brothers. Siblings.
I saw my half-brothers in a whole new light tonight. It became so easy to see how they grew up to be the persons that they are (behavior-wise and personalityp-wise). And even if, as adults, we’ve remained pretty close I would never know nor experience living a life with siblings… growing up with them together, sharing stories and secrets of childhood, and truly being comfortable in just being myself to them.
I will be forever mystified by the prospect of the relationship between siblings. Regardless of how close I may be with my friends and no matter how “included” I may be with their family and however close I may be to their brothers and/or sisters… And no matter how akin to a sibling-type relationship we may have, it would not be the same.
And I feel I missed out on something very wonderful.
P.S. If I were to report on Alfred Adler’s birth order theory in class again, I’d cite my Kuyas as example. However, I think Mr. Adler would have a field day in breaking down my birth order – the only child, the youngest, the eldest. Have fun Mr. Adler!
So I promised myself I’d blog today (September 11, 2014), a month after my birthday just to break my writer’s block spell.
30 years… and counting. 3 decades of being alive.
I missed being greeted with a birthday song by my parents early in the morning. And I guess I’ll be always missing their voices every time my day comes up. But anyway, I couldn’t think of anything in particular to write about yet, so I’m going to share a couple of things (30 to be exact… and if I can!) that I am grateful for this past few months and counting.
1. Employment Status: Regular
My birthday came early with the notice of my regularization. Mom and Dad would’ve been happy and proud.
[Regularization Notice Here.}
2. Birthday Party
Well… a celebration though. :)
3. Surprise gifts
Some were expected, the others were real surprises.
4. Meeting my baby cousin
Even through Skype, meeting the newest member of my mom’s side was such an adorable sight to see.
5. Unforgettable (and hopefully once-a-year) Meet-Ups with Baba
Yes indeed. We try to make it unforgettable. :)
6. My Crazy Office Crew
Makes going to work more worth it.
7. Healthy Options
So we’re into healthy eating now.
8. My Kiddie Buddies
Doses of sunshine.
9. My New Sport: Dragon Boat
I think I posted something about this previously.
There’s something about fixing a girl’s crowning glory… :)
11. A New Adopted Family!
Going out with these guys has become a family affair.
12. New Team Logo!
Being able to help out in coming up with this one!
13. Facilitating Activities
Being invited to help out is fun!
14. Broadway’s Wicked
Being able to watch this spectacular show! Definitely a great performance!
Learning to write a few phrases in alibata.
Reliving a childhood activity.
17. A Letter from Mom
18. Forged Friendships
My sports buddy.
19. Sticker Collection
Never gets old.
20. Comfort Food
Perfect for rainy days.
21. The Knight Riders
Fellow enthusiasts in biking.
Nice to be remembered when friends go on trips (or are just visiting).
23. The French-Fry Friday Club
24. Visiting Friends
Always a welcome sight when friends you don’t get to see drop by for a quick hello… on the same day at different times.
25. Passing the Comprehensive Exam
With a little help from friends. My study warrior to keep me in check. :)
26. Secret Starbucks Recipes
27. My Fellow Leos (who are paddlers too.)
28. My Bros and my Nieces
A league of your own and I love you all to bits!!!
30. Ma Bear and Pa Bear
There’s a story here. So tell me if you want to know about it. (Pretty corny actually. lol)
Hmmm… coming up with 3o things was a lot harder than I thought! But it was only after I started listing things down that there were still more than the number I’ve set to be thankful for. But for now, here’s my 30 things.
How about you guys? Anything (or many things) to be grateful for? Do share your own list!
I remember how surprised and a little bit impressed the Guidance Head of my University was during our interview for the Peer Counselors Society – a club I wanted to join in college – when I was able to explain the importance of putting words on feelings. I said that “when we are able to identify feelings, we acknowledge and accept them for what they are. Thus leading to addressing it properly.”
I guess that got the nod of approval for me to be one of the few who became club members.
When I started working in the academe, working with young children proved how important it was for them to put a name on how and what they feel in order to help them process it. Last year, it became detrimental that a child acknowledges how he feels to help him resolve conflict among his peers and within himself. Sometimes it was easy, but during other times… it required more rationalizing.
For those who worked with different individuals, I think you know what I mean. The use of proper terms and correct labels can make or break the discussion.
But then labels, when attached to someone’s personality and not the behavior nor emotions, become factors of contention. Recently I’ve been hearing a number of concerns from my co-workers on how easily others would complain about the behavior of pupils in their class (just because they’ve self-diagnosed or heard that may have some special needs). It has become bothersome how quickly they put their hands up in surrender when a child misbehaves in the classroom, conveniently complaining that they can’t manage them in class because the kid won’t listen nor participate.
Take Rod for example. He’s a new student and has transferred from a small school of a population of 16 pupils in his class (from his previous school), to an estimated current class size of 35 pupils in a very big school. Add to that he is raised by his fraternal grandparents. His parents are not together. He sees his dad when he’s in town and has never seen his mother for a very long time. He’s an only child and spends most of his time with his grandparents. He’s not allowed to play computer during weekdays but is allowed to watch YouTube during weekends. During the few times I’ve observed him, he tends to put up walls when he gets scolded, or when his classmates keep on reminding him on how to behave. The same behavior has also been observed by his grandparents as they disclosed during one of our meetings whenever Rod gets reprimanded. He only eases up when he is approached in a more calm manner.
It’s only been 3 months since the start of the school year. And I believe he’s still in his period of adjustment. So many stimuli around him, accompanied with so many changes, and so many baggages he’s carrying in his little 6-year old shoulders. During the conference I had with his guardians. I suggested behavior modification (complete with contract signing and token-reward system) as initial intervention. I found no need for referral to an expert or a DevPed during this time yet. The grandparents were quite cooperative, and I was very optimistic. I updated and informed the persons involved of the plan. However, I was much surprised when a certain individual kept on egging me on that I was aware of Rod having special needs. Which, in turn, I explained again that I only saw his emotional need to be very high. No need to label his behavior of not listening to the teacher, and standing up during class hours as AD or whatsoever knowing that a number of teachers were able to manage him well during their own subject’s time.
Since when has effective classroom management been replaced by convenience just so the need for processing be circumvented? Shouldn’t it be a collaborative effort to help address the concern? Why is it suddenly convenient to put a label on pupils that they have special needs and should be diagnosed to address their behavior? On my own observation? Yes, they do have special needs. But not the kind that needs to be assessed by experts. The special need that I am talking about pertains to their need to be understood. To understand the individual contexts each child is coming from.
I guess that’s the challenge now. To know when to use the proper labels, and when labels are proper… and necessary.
It was through the prodding of a colleague in school (while having our weekly swimming session) that I was encouraged to join the first-ever dragon boat team to be formed in Davao City. I wasn’t expecting for it to happen sooner rather than later. Little did I know then…
April 2, 2014 (the day after my mom’s 40 days) when that same colleague told me a meeting will be held for the dragon boat team preparation. Training started immediately on that weekend (April 5 & 6, 2014) from 5:ooam – 7:00am. I just started my Saturday summer work then, so I had to rush to school to clock in by 8am.
It was only during the 2nd day of training that I felt how well my muscles were working. I had aches and pains all over the muscles of my body that I had long-forgotten I had. Flashback to my high school life and Preparatory Military Training (PMT). Well I guess, nothing really bonds you with another human person better than sharing the same experiences (and the same body pains) to attest to your camaraderie and unity.
April 9, 2014 (Araw ng Kagitingan)
A meeting was held at Aling Foping’s Halo-halo at the Matina Town Square (MTS) to discuss various matters involving the the dragon boat competition as well as finalizing and in making our team official. In particular, what name will we carry. The first few names up for selection were quite generic until the words “Hiraya” and “Minokawa” were mentioned. It got everybody a-buzzing with curiosity and awe then finally “HIRAYA MINOKAWA DABAW” was chosen as the team name.
Personally, I didn’t get much of the hype then. But I guess that’s how we all must journey at first… alone. So when my name got included in the Creative Committee (heaven knows why! When I have only a limited number of creative bones in my system… especially in drawing and designing!), it was during those solo moments of conceptualizing that it began to call on me and I started to own up to it… becoming part of the team.
Hiraya, according to one of my teammates, is the offspring of combining hopes, dreams, aspirations, and wishes. So I guess it’s all about promoting positivity and goodwill… and it’s what happiness is made of.
The Bagobos wove tales of the Minokawa as a giant bird as big as an island. It had eyes akin to mirrors, large beak and legs fashioned with steel, and wings as sharp as swords. The Minokawa was said to be able devour the sun and/or the moon. For a detailed background of the Minokawa, click here.
Honestly, I love stories about dragons but discovering one kind that is part of one’s own natural culture is simply spellbinding.
Hiraya Minokawa Dabaw
It’s amazing how something that you didn’t know about nor hear stories of would suddenly hold a special place in your life. How you would widen your scope to get the bigger picture, explore various avenues, and push your boundaries to find out more about what you’re aiming for. Never becoming satisfied until you find the one wherein you, and your teammates can resonate with (and I’m just talking about the conceptualization and visualization for our team logo here!). But it rings true, in dragon boating as well. You start out from knowing without… then as you come to experience it, you want to know more about the sport, tapping and connecting with people who are on the same boat, challenging yourself to work harder to become at par with the team.
In my few weeks of training for our dragon boat competition, I found it important to be at peace and be one with yourself. You are not competing with the other members of the team on who’s the strongest, or the fastest – who could beat the other on whatever. Because if it were a competition within the team, then we would be a lost cause.
Companionship (as those in the religious would call it), Camaraderie (for the sports-minded), Congruence (for some psychologists), Unity (for some sociologists), or Synchronicity (in the words of our Dragon boat team captain) is the key to a successful team. It’s not about second-guessing what the one in front of or beside you will be doing, but more of dancing to the same tune, hearing the same pounding of the drums, beating like one heart as we paddle through the water.
I have yet to experience such a moment of “one-ness” with my team. But as the time for the race approaches, my excitement slowly awakens my spirit with each passing day. Much like being roused from it’s mythical sleep, our hearts will resound with our Hiraya Minokawa – our hopes and dreams – taking them all by surprise as an eclipse would. Winning is not our primary goal, but to make our presence known. And as we raise our paddles in entry, we slice the water with purpose.
It’s been a month after my mom passed away. A month since I’ve come to face the fact that I am now a full orphan.
Still… I can’t find myself to write my thoughts…
So another milestone is to be hurdled to this Saturday (January 18, 2014) and the next (January 25, 2014). Comprehensive Exams have slowly crept its way to my life as I know it.
People I know who’ve had their comprehensive exams say that we have it easy since our lessons are still fresh in our minds. (Uhhh… maybe if Statistics weren’t involved, I’d be more confident). After the mad dash the week before to comply with the last-minute application, I only had a week for reviewing for the exams this coming Saturday. UGH!!!
And it just so happens that one of my pupils are acting out requiring immediate attention for this past week. Now it’s Friday and I feel I’m getting nowhere with my review.
Better burn the midnight oil and offer up candles and prayers for my examination soul tomorrow.