Warm Thoughts on a Cold Day

Last Friday, I drove to our new satellite clinic. This was the most distant one so far compared to our other outreach clinics, as it takes an hour and 40 minutes to get there from our main office. I go to an outreach clinic at least once a month.

It was a very cold day for a drive. The outside temperature was -2 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of -20 degrees. The wind was brisk and it was blowing the snow that was already plowed to the sides of the road back into the road.

The whole surrounding was white as we had fresh snow that had fallen the past couple of days. There was also a shiny glaze on the branches of the bare trees as in addition to the snowfall, it was preceded by a freezing rain that coated everything with ice, including the roads, which layered underneath the snow. This made the travel more dangerous.

In fact one of my partners cancelled his trip to another one of our outreach clinics a day before mine, due to the snow, sleet and ice.

But on the day of my travel, though it was very cold, it was sunny. Thus I decided to press on. Besides, there were many patients that were waiting and expecting to be seen. Plus, I felt confident in my driving and in my trusty vehicle.

I felt warm though while I was cruising along the wintry rural highways of Iowa. My favorite feature of my car on a very cold day like this was the heated seats along with the reliable heater. In some countries, like in the Philippines, a car airconditioner may be a luxury to keep you cool on a hot day. But where I live now, we can survive without an AC but not without a heater. It is a necessity or we’ll freeze to death.

But there was something more that was keeping me warm besides the heater, the heated seat, and the heated steering wheel. It was the warm thoughts and happy memories of a tropical place I still call home.

Playing on my car radio was streaming music sync from my iPhone from an on-line radio station. What was the radio station I was listening to? Pagudpud Beach Resort Radio Station! (Pagudpud is a place in Ilocos Norte, Philippines with a year round temperature of 70 to 90ºF.)

photo taken few years ago in a beach resort in Ilocos Norte

I could almost hear the lapping waves as they break into the sandy shore and the rushing breeze bristling through the palm trees. A stark contrast from the view of a slew of ice and snow surrounding me. They say that you could take away the boy from the island, but could never take away the island from the boy.

It’s true, I was feeling homesick. It has been three years since I last visited my motherland. Perhaps it is time for a journey back to that very familiar place.

I know I’m not the only one missing home. Most of us, in one way or another, have wandered away and left our comfort zones in pursuit of a dream. And many times in our quest, the path we crossed was not easy, for it was uncertain and unfamiliar.

I was deep in this thought when a familiar song played on the radio:


Hindi kita iiwan sa paglalakbay,

Dito sa mundong walang katiyakan,


Di kita bibitiwan sa paglalakbay,

Sa mundo ng kawalan.

That was all I needed to hear, a reassurance that we are not alone in this journey.

I glanced at my car’s GPS. It indicated that I still have 70 miles to go, and an hour more before I reach my destination.

Well, I still have an hour to enjoy this “beach.”

(*lyrics from Hawak Kamay a song by Yeng Constantino)

Dinosaur Technology

Not too long ago, these things roam and rule the earth. But like dinosaurs, they are now extinct. I don’t think the millennials or the younger generation have any idea what they are.

I will give you a snapshot if you will, of my normal day employing the current technology of the time when I was still in college:

One evening, I wanted to call my classmates so we can meet up in the library before our late morning class to work on our school project. But I had to wait for our party line to hang up before I could use the phone. An hour later, I finally was able to make the call. I dialed the number (not punch in, mind you; this explain why we say “dial”) using this device:

The next day, after taking a shower, I dressed up and was heading out the door when I happened to glance at this big “box” and checked the weather forecast. The talking box said no need for an umbrella today.

On my way to the university, I boarded a jeepney plying the Balic-Balic route with loud music blaring inside. The driver was proudly playing an expensive music console system using this:

The jeepney driver probably was an ex-OFW and bought this console when he was still in Saudi. What made me think that? Because a sign in front of his jeeney says “Katas ng Saudi.”

Though I wish I had my own portable music that I could choose what songs to listen to. Then I noticed one passenger in the jeepney who was rocking to a different rhythm than that of the music we were hearing. Of course he had this:

I know it’s kind of cool, but it makes you a hot target for snatchers especially if you’re walking in the streets of Metro Manila.

After meeting up with my classmates for an hour, it was time to attend a lecture in a big hall. Our professor was using lecture aids and was projecting it on a wall using this gadget:

While our professor, who was also a practicing physician, was giving his lecture, he asked to be excused for a minute to make a call at a payphone outside the hall. He was responding to a message he got from this:

Later that day, we started writing our paper for submission. We could have gone to Dapitan or Recto and had it done for us, but we decided to do it ourselves to save money. So we worked on this:

Of course we needed duplicate copies so we had to use these:

This explains why even in our e-mails now, we call a copy to a different recipient a “carbon copy.”

After a while we had noted that the letters we were typing were getting faint. So we had to replace this:

We also had several mistakes, but we were able to correct them thanks to this:

We had to work on the presentation of our paper too. During our brainstorming we decided to make our exhibition fancy and we planned on having photos or slides. So we had to borrow this gadget for our presentation:

However we had to take photos first. Our group chipped-in some money and they handed them to me. They asked me to go to Raon near Quiapo to buy this:

And for better picture-taking, just in case the lighting is not good, I bought these as well:

We wanted to make sure that we only take good photos so not to waste any film. But can you imagine taking a photo and not seeing the picture until after a few days?

Before going home I passed by a friend’s house. I heard they just got this gadget called a “computer” that would be the future of all technologies. I even tried it and I was able to do some of our school project on it. My friend was kind enough to have me save my work and transfer it to this:

Maybe it was just an excuse for me to use their home computer. For what I really wanted to do was to play some games with my friend in their other “computer:”

The end.


Can you name all of them? Do you have an idea what they are?

If you know all of these gadgets and have used them before, then you are probably “old” like me.

(*photos from the web)

Pasko, Paksiw, Pakso

Parang mga bata, sabik na sabik kaming sumapit ang Pasko sa taong ito. Kulang na lang ay hilahin namin ang mga araw para maging Pasko na. Hindi dahil sa mahaba ang listahan namin para kay Santa Claus. Nanabik lang kami dahil magiging iba ang pagdaraos namin nito.

Binalak namin kasi na mag-Pasko sa isang lugar na hindi pa namin nararating. Matagal-tagal din naming inasam-asam na mabisita ang lungsod na iyon. Maraming oras din ang aming ginugol sa pagsasaliksik, pagpaplano at paghahanda sa aming gagawing paglalakbay. At maraming pawis at ipon ang ipinuhunan sa biyaheng ito.

Pero alam n’yo ba na mas maraming pawis at mas malaking ipon ang kailangan kung kami ay magbabalik bayan, lalo na kung sa panahon ng Pasko?

Aming pinapanaginipan na sa umaga ng Pasko, kami ay mag-aalmusal ng kakaibang tinapay, at hihigop ng mainit na tsokolate, habang nakatanaw sa mataas na toreng bakal na napapalamutian ng mga ilaw.

Sabi nila maganda raw ang Pasko sa lugar na iyon. Sabi nila wala raw kahalintulad ang Pasko sa siyudad na iyon. Kung ang Pasko ay kung saan ang boong paligid ay ginagayakan ng mga kumukurap-kurap at makukulay na ilaw, hindi ba magandang magdiwang ng Pasko sa Lungsod ng mga Ilaw?

Ngunit sa hindi inaasahang mga pangyayari, sumabog ang kaguluhan sa lugar na iyon. Kumalat ang mga demonstrasyon. Naglipana ang mga nagproprotesta na nakasuot ng dilaw. Akala ko sa bansang tinubuan ko lamang ang mga “dilaw.” Naging marahas at madugo pa ang mga naging salpukan ng mga demonstrador at mga pulis. Sa tutuusin, kung ating babalik-aralin ang kasaysayan ng mundo, sila ang nagpatanyag sa salitang “rebolusyon.”

Kaya hindi man namin gusto, ay wala kaming magawa kung hindi mapilitang kanselahin sa huling minuto ang aming paglalakabay. Ayaw naman naming malagay sa binggit ng alanganin, o maipit sa mga nagbabanggaang pwersa.

Oo nga’t may mga nabayaran na kaming hindi na namin mabawing buo. Mayroong halaga rin ang nawala na parang bula. Sisingilin na lang namin ito sa karanasan at aral ng buhay. Nakakapanghinayang din ang mga oras at pagod na ginugol namin sa paghahanda sa biyaheng ito. Hindi maiiwasan na kami ay makaramadam ng kalungkutan dahil napurnada ang aming pangarap. Mga ilang buwan ding kaming naghintay at nasabik, mauuwi lang pala sa wala. Ang aming Pasko, naging Pakso!

Pero matapos kaming mahimasmasan sa aming kabiguan, ay natanggap din naman namin ang naging kapalaran. Hindi kami galit sa mga tao sa lugar na iyon. Kung sa amin ay maliit na pagkabigo ang hindi matuloy ang aming pangarap na bakasyon, para sa kanila, ang kanilang kabuhayan at karapatang mabuhay ang ipinagtatanggol nila. Amin silang sinusuportan sa kanilang laban.

Kaya amin nalang ipagdiriwang ang Pasko dito sa Iowa. Magiging maliit na pagdiriwang na lamang ito. Mag-papaksiw na lang siguro kami sa Pasko.

Ngunit wala kaming dahilan para magmukmok at magreklamo. Dahil sa buong mundo ngayon, saan ka man dumako, sa kabila ng mga kasiyahan at selebrasyon ng panahong ito, ay mayroong mga tao at kanilang pamilya na marahil hindi nakakaramdam ng Pasko. Marahil sila ay dumaranas ng kahirapan ng buhay. Marahil sila ay naghihikahos. O kaya nama’y sila ay nakaratay sa banig ng karamdaman. Marahil sila ay nangungulila. O kaya’y nasakuna ng digmaan. Ano kaya ang Pasko para sa kanila?

Pero alam naman nating lahat na ang Pasko ay hindi tungkol sa pagliliwaliw, o paglilibang, o handaan, at inuman. Ito ay tungkol sa pagdating ng ating Tagapagligtas. At ito ay sapat na upang tayo’y magpasalamat.

Noong panahon ni Hesukristo, matagal na hinihintay ang ipinangakong Manunubos. Ang lahat ay nasasabik sa pagdating ng Mesiyas na sa kanila’y magpapalaya’t magliligtas. Ngunit nang dumating ang takdang panahon, walang man lang maglaan ng silid para sa Kanya. Hanggang sa sabsaban na lang ang naging lugar Niya. Dahil iba rin ang kanilang ekspektasyon at pakahulugan sa darating na Tagapagligtas, marami sa kanila ang nabigo. 

Kung sa panahon natin kaya Siya dumating, ilan kaya sa atin ang handang sumalubong?

Sa Paskong ito, ano mang ang ating pagkakaabalahan, sana ay may lugar sa ating puso ang ating Manunubos.

At kung ano man ang ating hinihintay sa Pasko – bonus, regalo galing sa  Ninong at Ninang, o nawawalang sinta (Pasko na sinta ko hanap hanap kita……), o kahit pahinga lang mula sa kapaguran sa trabaho – sana ay hindi tayo mabigo. 

Pero kung ang hinihintay natin ay kaligtasan at tunay na kasiyahan galing kay Hesukristo, sigurado akong hindi tayo mabibigo. Walang gulo o kahit pa giyera ang kayang humadlang nito.

Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat.

Ice Run

It’s been two months since I ran the half-marathon for this year. But I am proud to say that I have not yet relented on my running for this season. Emphasis on the “yet.” Maybe I just want to stay trim for Christmas. Maybe I want to look good on my vacation photos. Whatever the reason is, I am still running even if it’s already winter here in our part of the world.

But hopping on a treadmill and running for a mile or two in place is really boring. Even running inside an indoor track in our local Y can be dull and uninspiring. So when I saw that the temperature outside this morning was 30º F instead of our usual single digits or teens, I cannot resist to run outside. Besides, there was no snow on the ground and more importantly, no ice. I can run on snow, but not ice (see older post).

When I got out in our front yard, I saw ice! But it was just in our bird bath, which was frozen solid (photo above). The sun was shining though, so it’s a wonderful day to be outside.

As I approached the pond in our housing community, I again noticed that the water was frozen. 

Should I try running on ice? Or perhaps put on a pair of ice skates and glide my way through?

Then I heard some honking. When I looked up I saw a flock of geese. 

They seems to be egging me on – “Run on ice! Run on ice!”

The temperature however was not in the deep freeze. I am not that foolish yet. Again, emphasis on the yet. So no running on thin ice!

As I kept on trucking, I was looking for my deer friends, but they were nowhere to be found. Have they gone some place warmer?

Instead I saw some polar creatures. A penguin and a polar bear! You don’t believe me?

Here they are:

The pengunin and the polar bear seems to be lost in place without the snow. Perhaps like my son they were praying for snow. Lots and lots of it. But for me, I’ll enjoy this relatively warm day without the snow and ice.

Overall, it was a decent day for a morning run. 

After about an hour outside, I came back in and warm myself with the leftover arroz caldo my wife cooked yesterday.

Again, I have my app to document my “cool running.”

(*all photos taken with an iPhone)


O aming minamahal na mga batingaw,

Pinagtanggol ang kalayaan kaya’t umalingawngaw,

Subalit pinilit supilin, kayo’y sa ami’y inagaw,

Sinakal at ginapos para hindi na makasigaw.


Ngunit mga kampana ba’y mapapatahimik,

Alab ng puso ng isang bayan, ito ba’y mapipiit,

Kahit impit na ang mga tinig ito pa ri’y maririnig,

Patuloy na lalaban kahit buhay man ang kapalit.

O Inang Bayan, tayo’y kumanta’t sumayaw,

Kinalagan nang muli ang ating mga batingaw,

Kanilang mga boses muling hihiyaw,

Para sa kalayaan muling aalingawngaw.

(*A tribute to Balangiga bells. Above photo though is not of Balangiga bells, this was taken at Bantay tower in Vigan.)

New Nifty Gadget

Having the right tools is an important thing in order for us to do our work properly. You cannot build a house if you only have a hammer. You need a lot of tools and the proper equipment to do so. And if you have power tools, that would be great.

One thing that make humans rise above other creatures is our ability to create or invent tools and instruments to improve our lives. Like the invention of the wheel that started the era of mechanization. Or the development of the pointed weapons, like the spear and arrow, that started the arms race. Look how far we’ve come.

One duty that I have, or more so a responsibility, that I do every week, requires using the right gadget. However, the old one that I have is so worn out. I have even used duct tape to fix it to keep it working, yet it is plainly giving out. It is not as powerful as it used to. Afterall the equipment is almost 30 years old.

So I told my boss, oh I forgot I am my own boss, that I needed a new gadget to replace the old one. For how can I do a good job, if I am using a sub par tool?

But before you think, that my task is something critical or life-and-death undertaking, or something grand of a project that I needed some sophisticated power tool, what I am pertaining to is my mundane task of cleaning our floor, and what I need is a new vacuum system.

At least I can say that I own the floor that I clean. Even so, I take pride on doing my work.

By the way, the vacuum cleaner is not a modern machine. Its development dates back to the 1860’s. It revolutionized how we clean our homes. When it first came out it was more of a luxury equipment as it was so expensive. After World War II, with the drop in the cost of production, the middle class were able to afford the vacuum cleaner. Nowadays, it is in most households.

Here’s my old equipment that is dying on me:


For my readers especially from my homeland, I want to let you know that we don’t have any house helpers here in the US. We do most of the house chores ourselves. If you have young children, please let them participate in house work and not rely every thing to the house help. Work is good for them. It builds character and it trains them for life.

So one weekend we headed out to the local vacuum store and I got a shiny and up to date central vacuum system. Here it is:


I know it is just the same-old same-old vacuum that I got and not a high-tech or futuristic gadget. Yet it is still an upgrade of what I used to employ back in the Philippines, the walis and the bunot.

Of course I still have my robot vacuum, iRobot Roomba, that remains functional. But it’s too slow and in some areas of the house, the Roomba does not do a good job. So I still rely on good old human-powered cleaning machine. That’s me!

It is inaccurate if I would claim that I am the only one who is doing the cleaning in our house. My wife and my kids do as well. Except my eldest is now away in college, and not too long from now my youngest will be too. So I will be retaining the title of “floor manager,” that is in-charge of keeping the floor clean, for a long time.

For my new vacuum, “you suck!” And that’s a good thing.

Rico J, Isang Pagpupugay

Nitong mga nakaraang araw, ay namamayagpag sa aking pandinig ang mga OPM (Original Pilipino Music). Nalungkot ako sa balita noong isang linggo na pumanaw na pala si Rico J. Puno. Kaya para mabawasan ang aking pagkalumbay ay nagpipiyesta na lang ako sa pakikinig ng mga OPMs, lalo na sa mga kanta ni Rico J.

Isa si Rico J sa mga nagpasikat ng mga OPM. Siguro naman lahat tayong mga Pinoy ay alam ang kanyang mga kanta. Tulad nito:

“Kapalaran kung hanapin, di matagpuan, at kung minsan lumalapit nang ‘di mo alam.” (Kapalaran)

Sa totoo lang naisama ko na ang linya ng kantang ito sa isa sa aking blog, Bahala na si Batman.

Mayroon din siyang kanta na nakakapukaw ng damdamin. Tulad nito:

“Huwag damdamin ang kasawian, may bukas pa sa iyong buhay, sisikat din ang iyong araw, ang landas mo ay mag-iilaw.” (May Bukas Pa)

Nagkaroon din ako ng blog na ang pamagat ay mula sa kantang ito, May Bukas Pa.

At mayroon din mga kanta si Rico Puno na pinangarap mong sana ikaw rin ay kagaya niya. Tulad ng:

“Macho gwapito raw ako!” (Macho Gwapito)

Pero hindi naman ako naging macho dahil patpatin nga ako noong araw.

Nakakalungkot lang isipin na wala na si Rico Puno. Para sa akin na lumisan ng ating bayan at matagal nang wala sa bansa, parang bang ako’y nanghihinayang na hindi ko na mababalikan ang aking naiwan. Para bagang may kulang na sa Pilipinas na aking nakagisnan.

Pero sangayon din sa isang awit ni Rico J, eh talagang ganyan ang buhay:

“Sa mundo ang buhay ay mayroong hangganan, dahil ay lupa lamang.” (Lupa)

Hindi lang mga OPM ang namimiss ko kapag nabanggit si Rico Puno. Namimiss ko rin kung saan ako nanggaling at kung saan ako lumaki. Kung hindi ninyo po alam, si Rico J ay lumaki sa may Balik-Balik sa Sampaloc Manila. Iyong apartment kung saan sila nanirahan noon ay sa kabilang kalye lang mula kung saan ako nakatira doon sa Sampaloc. Siyempre naging proud ang mga naging kapitbahay niya nang siya ay naging sikat na.

Mabalik tayo sa mga OPM, lumaki akong nakikinig ng mga kantang Pilipino, hindi lang kanta ni Rico J. Nakakaaliw ngang isipin na iba’t iba ang mga OPM.

May mga awit na makatotoo:

“Isang kahig, isang tuka, ganyan kaming mga dukha.” (Dukha by Heber Bartolome)

May mga kantang matalinghaga:

“Patakan n’yo ng luha ang apoy sa kanyang puso.” (Balita by Asin)

At mayroon ding mahiwaga:

“Butse kik, ek ek ek.” (Butse Kik by Yoyoy Villame)

May kantang mapangutya:

“Beh, buti nga, beh, buti nga, bebebebeh, buti nga!” (Beh Buti Nga by Hotdog)

May mga kanta na garapal:

“Pahipo naman, pahawak naman, hindi na kita matsangsingan.” (No Touch by Mike Hanopol)

Kung sa panahong ito kapag kinanta mo ito ay pwede kang kasuhan ng sexual harassment.

Meron din namang mga awit na nakakatawa, pero may aral.

“Banal na aso, santong kabayo, natatawa ako.” (Banal na Aso Santong Kabayo by Yano)

Pero ang mga awit na tunay na napamahal sa atin ay iyong may kahulugan sa atin. Marahil may mga karanasan tayong hindi malilimutan na nakakawit sa kantang iyon. Para po sa akin, isa sa mga ito ay kanta ni Rico Puno:

“Alaala ng tayo’y magsweetheart pa, namamasyal pa sa Luneta nang walang pera.” (The Way We Were by Rico Puno)

Sa katunayan nai-blog ko na rin ang karanasan kong ito, Alaala ng Luneta.

Nakakamiss talaga. Kaya magsa-sound trip na lang uli ako at magpapakalunod sa mga OPM. Maraming salamat sa mga magagandang alaala, Rico J. Puno.


(*photo from the web)

Leksiyong Pang-Grade One

May mga bagay na nakaukit na sa ating isipan. Kahit pa may mga ilan na hindi natin matandaan, gaya kung saan natin inilapag ang susi ng bahay, o kaya ang birthday ng ating biyenan, pero may mga bagay na hindi natin makalimutan. Tulad ng aking mga karanasan at mga leksiyon noong ako’y Grade One.


Ako ay nag-Grade One sa isang maliit na pribadong paaralan sa Quezon City. Hindi kalakihan ang klase at mag-kasama pa nga ang mga estudyanteng Grade 1 at Grade 2 sa iisang classroom.

Hindi ko makalimutan ang ilan sa aking kaklase. Si Rolando, na kukurap-kurap, na para siyang laging kumikindat. Noong tumanda na lang ako, kesa ko nalaman na isa palang medical condition iyon – facial tic disorder. Nandiyan din si Nathan, na mestisuhin. Hindi sa ako’y naiingit na maputi siya, dahil masaya ako sa kulay kong “Italyano” – Itang Ilokano. At si Ronald na aking seatmate. Seatmate din namin ang nanay niya, dahil nakaupo ito sa likuran namin sa boong isang taon ng klase.

Maghapon ang aming klase kaya may bitbit akong baon. Inilalagay ang aming mga lunch box sa isang tabi ng classroom. Isang araw, isang Grade 2 na estudyante ang kumuha at kumain ng aking baon. Iniabot daw ng isa niyang kaklase ang aking lunch box dahil sa akalang ito’y sa kanya. Ang mokong naman kahit alam na hindi ito sa kanya, ay kinain pa rin ang aking baon!

Kaya’t unang aral ko sa Grade One ay ito:

1. Magpakatatag, kahit ang buhay kung minsan ay hindi patas. May mga bagay na nararapat na para sa iyo, ay aagawin pa ng iba. 

Hindi ko na matandaan kung ano ang aking kinain nung tanghaling iyon. Pero aking ipinaalam sa aking guro ang nangyari. Nakatagal naman ako hanggang hapon at hanggang sa mag-uwian na. At bumalik pa kinabukasan sa klase.

Naaalala ko rin noon na matapos ang aming lunch break, kami ay laging may siesta. Papatayin ang ilaw, at kami ay hihiga sa sahig o kaya ay sa desk para kami ay magpahinga. Medyo sapilitan ang pagpapatulog sa amin. May mga class monitor pa, sila iyong mga kaklase namin na in-charge daw, at sinusumbong nila sa aming teacher kung sinong ayaw matulog. Isa ako sa ayaw matulog.

Kung ako lang ang masusunod, maglalaro ako sa labas at magtatatakbo sa initan ng katanghaling tapat, hanggang sa tumagaktak ang aking pawis. Bakit pa kasi kailangan ng nap time?

Pero ngayong tayo’y tumanda na, kahit pa ibawas sa ating working hours ay payag tayo, magkaroon lamang ng ilang saglit na pahinga o siesta. Dahil sa sobrang abala at pagod natin, inaasam-asam natin kahit konting nap time o kaya’y free time para sa ating sarili.

Kaya’t ang pangalawang leksiyon ko sa Grade One ay ito:

2. May mga bagay na hindi mo gusto at parang walang kabuluhan ngayon, ngunit sa pagdaan ng panahon ay hahanap-hanapin mo.  Matutong pahalagahan ang mga ito.

Nakakatuwa lang isipin na ang batang galit sa tulog noon ay isang duktor na espesyalista sa pagtulog ngayon.

May panahon namang binibigay para kami ay maglaro. Ang mga gusto kong laro noon ay sipa, jolens, trumpo, teks, shato, patintero, habulan, prisoner’s base, at taguan. Kahit nga piko at jackstone ay nilalaro ko kalaban ang mga babae kong kaeskwela.

Hindi lang naman kaming mga Grade One ang naglalaro. Kahit ‘yung malalaking bata ay naglalaro din. Dahil medyo maliit ang school ground ng aming paaralan kaya minsan walang masyadong space para maglaro.

Isang hapon, may mga Grade Six na mga estudyante ang nagta-tumbling tumbling at nagsa-sommersault sa playground. Dahil haharang-harang ako, o dahil kasi maliit ako kaya’t wala silang pakundangan, nasipa ako ng isang lalaki habang ito ay nagta-tumbling. Tumilapon akong parang lata ng tumbang preso!

Kahit ako’y nasaktan, hindi naman ako makapalag. Nang ako’y mahimasmasan at lumingon sa batang nakasipa sa akin, nakita ko itong namimilipit na rin sa sakit. Ito ay dahil sa isang estudyanteng Grade Six ang humangos upang ako’y ipagtanggol at inumbag niya sa sikmura ang batang lalaki. Ang mabilis na sumaklolo sa akin ay ang aking ate. Oo, ipinagtanggol ako ng isang babae.

Kaya’t isa sa aral ko mula Grade One ay ito:

3. Mahalin natin ang ating pamilya. Sila ang  magtatanggol at tutulong sa atin sa oras ng pangangailangan.

Oo nga’t batid ko na hindi perpekto ang bawa’t pamilya. Ngunit darating ang panahon na walang iba kung hindi pamilya pa rin natin ang magsasalba sa atin. Ika nga nila, “Blood is thicker than water.”

Sa katunayan madalas akong tumilapon noon. Kaya kong tumilapong mag-isa. Bata pa kasi ako ay dare-devil na ako. Mahilig akong umakyat kung saan-saan at tumalon na parang Spiderman. Wala nga akong kadala-dala, kahit pumutok na ang noo ko noong ako’y tumalon sa hagdan, tapos pumutok din ang nguso ko nang ako’y lumipad sa swing. Eto ay bago pa ako mag-Grade One.

Isang araw nang ako’y nasa paaralan, tumatakbo ako sa loob ng banyo. Kahit banyo ginagawa kong playground noong ako’y Grade One. Dahil basa ang sahig, bigla akong nadulas at nakanto ang aking mukha sa pader. Pumutok na naman ang mukha ko at muntik na sa may kaliwang mata. Hindi ko nga alam kung bakit mukha ko ang lagi kong ipinangsasalo ng disgrasya.

Dinala nila ako sa aking teacher upang asikasuhin ang aking sugat. Duguan na naman ang dating ako. Ano kaya ang nasa-isip ng aking guro? Siguro sa isip-isip niya, may mararating ang batang ire kung hindi lang mababalda sa kalikutan, o kaya’y may potensiyal ang batang ire kung hindi lang mababasag ang bungo.

Matapos mapatigil ang pagdudugo, ay pinahiran ng aking teacher ang aking sugat ng mercurochrome. Ito ‘yung pulang likido na mahapdi kapag ipinapahid sa sugat. Sa aking isip noon, masakit na nga ang sugat, bakit kailangan pa itong lalong pahapdiin. Hindi ko pa maintindihan na ito ay anti-septic at kailangan para hindi ma-infection upang maghilom ang aking sugat.

Kaya isa pa sa aking leksiyong natutunan noong Grade One ay ito:

4. May mga karanasan sa buhay na mahapdi, pero kinakailangan para sa ating ikabubuti. Dahil sa mga sugat, tayo’y natututo.

Iyon na rin ang huling peklat sa mukha ko.

Kung tutuusin marami talaga tayong natutunan noong Grade One. Tulad ng pagbabasa, pagsusulat, pagbilang, pagtula at pagkanta. Oo nga’t parang payak lang ang ating alam noon pero ang karunungan ay isang proseso.

Mayroon akong isang kalaro na bata pa lang siya ay pangarap na niyang maging Engineer. Kwento ng nanay niya sa nanay ko, umuwi raw na umiiyak ang aking kalaro noong unang araw niya sa Grade One. Ang dahilan? Dahil hindi raw pang-Engineering ang tinuturo sa Grade One.

Isang araw, kami ay tinuraang bumasa ng oras ng aming guro sa Grade One. Ipinaliwanag niya na may dalawang kamay ang orasan – ang hour hand at minute hand. Para lalo naming maintindihan, tumawag siya ng dalawang estudyante sa harap para magrepresenta sa mga kamay ng orasan. Si Ronald, ang aking seatmate ang minute hand, at ako ang hour hand. Sinabi niya kay Ronald na lumakad nang mabilis, at habang ako nama’y lumakad nang mabagal.

Dahil gusto ko ring lumakad ng mabilis at makipag-unahan kay Ronald, kaya’t ako’y inakbayan at ginabayan ng aking guro na magdahan-dahan. Sa tingin ko hindi lang pagbasa ng oras ang natutunan ko noong araw na iyon.

Isa pa sa aking natutunan noong ako’y Grade One ay ito:

5. Huwag natin laging madaliin ang buhay.  Kahit mabagal, basta may katiyakan ang ating pakay ay makakarating din tayo sa paroroonan.

Nakaalpas naman ako ng Grade One. Pero ako’y inilipat na sa ibang paaralan nang ako’y mag-Grade Two.

Ano na nga ang nangyari sa aking kalaro na umuwi ng bahay dahil hindi raw pang-Engineering ang tinuturo sa Grade One? Nagtuloy din naman siya ng pag-aaral at nakatapos. Siya ay nangibang-bayan din. Ngayon, siya ay isa nang ganap at matagumpay na Engineer Registered Nurse.

(*photo from the web)

Watching the Game

The NBA season is now in full swing, and you probably know already that I am a basketball fan. I enjoy watching as much as playing the game. (Read past post here.)

Iowa has no NBA team though. So if I want to watch a live NBA game, I need to drive north to Minneapolis that takes 3 hours, or go east to Chicago that takes 5 hours, or south to Oklahoma for 7 hours, or west to Denver for 9 hours. Those are the nearest locations I have. Of course I can always stay at home and watch it on TV.

We have decent college basketball teams in Iowa nonetheless. In fact, college basketball games may be more energetic and intense, as the players are younger and more fearless. But I am not in to college hoops. At least not that much.

I have seen a live NBA game before when we were still living in Florida. That was fifteen years ago. I got the chance to see the Orlando Magic twice, and for free too, courtesy of a friend of a friend who had season tickets.

However that was not my first time to watch a live professional basketball game. When I was still in the Philippines, I had a former classmate in high school who became a journalist. She invited me to watch a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) game, as she had reserved seats as a sports writer. We were so close to the action as we were seated at the back of the scorer’s table. That was a real treat!

All those experiences were from a long time ago.

That’s why when the NBA came in town here in Iowa, I cannot resist the opportunity to see a live basketball game again. I bought tickets even if it was just a pre-season game.


The seats that I got were near the court side that I can easily read the names of the players on their jerseys. It was close enough that I can even hear the coach during their huddle.


But since it was a pre-season game, it does not have the intensity of a regular season game. And it definitely does not have the fever pitch excitement of a playoff or championship game. Although Giannis Antetokounmpo made a couple of spectacular dunks in that game.


Anyhow, the more wild and high-flying action was during the intermission.


Overall, it was a good enough experience for me.

In my opinion, nothing still beats the elation of playing the game yourself, rather than being a mere spectator. Even if the basketball game you were playing was just in the streets and you were bruising it out with your friends, or strangers from the other street. Those were the days I really miss.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

Ene Be Yen?

Noong isang araw, ay nakikinig ang aking misis ng instructional video kung paano magsalita ng French. Malay ba namin, baka bukas makalawa ay mapadpad kami sa Quebec o kaya sa Paris para mag-order ng almusal na croissant at café au lait.

Hindi ko alam kung ako lang ba o lahat ng tao na hindi Pranses, pero para sa akin ay napakahirap yatang lenguahe ang French. Parang ngongo na hindi ko maintindihan. Ibang-iba ang pagbigkas kaysa sa pagkakasulat.

Tulad nito:

English: How are you?

French: Comment allez-vous? (Pronounced as: Kumant ale-bu?)

English: Where is the bus station?

French: Où est la gare routière? (Pronounced as: Uh eh lah gah uhutiye?)

Putris na ‘yan, magpapakaligaw-ligaw na lang ako, kesa magtanong kung nasaan ang istasyon ng bus.

Pero masarap pakinggan ang French kahit na hindi ko maintindihan. Alam mo ba na ang French language ay mayroong 17 na patinig (vowels)? Anak ng tinapa!

Pero mas matindi ang Danish language. Sila ay mayroong 32 na vowels. Limang vowels nga lang sa Pilipino ay hirap na tayong magkaintindihan, 17 o 32 pa kaya?

Pasalamat tayo at mas madaling bigkasin ang ating wika, dahil lima lang ang ating patinig, at bawat isa sa ito ay iisa lang ang pagbasa at pagbigkas. Pero siguro kahit pa isa lang ang patinig ng ating wika ay kaya pa rin nating ipahayag ang ating saloobin at magkakaintindihan pa rin tayo. Totoo, kahit isang vowel lang.

Hindi kayo maniwala?

Sege, pepeteneyen ke se enye. Besehen me ete:

Eng beyen keng Pelepenes,

Lepeen neng gente’t beleklek,

Peg-ebeg ne se kenyeng peled,

Neg-eley neng gende’t deleg.

Kete me ne, neeentendehen me pe ren, kehet pereng tenge leng. Enek neng tenepe! Eng geleng geleng, ‘ne. Ene be yen?

Kehet hende ke mekepenewele, pere ngeyen beleb ke ne. Genyen kegeleng eng eteng esep, keyeng ementende kehet ne pereng gege ne eng pegseselete. Mge Pelepene leng keye eng pewedeng mekesekey neng genete? Weleng senebe eng Englesh et French se eteng Peney.

Henggeng dete ne leng et beke meteleyen neng mesere eng etek nenye. Selemet pe.

Mebehey eng Pelepene!