No More Free Concerts

Last week, I took a day off from work, drove a couple of hours, travel more than a hundred miles, just to see a concert.

It was not a concert of one of those pop superstars, like Adele or Lady Gaga. Nor was it a concert of some well-known classical artist like Andrea Bocelli or Yoyo Ma.

It was my daughter’s concert. It was their university’s orchestra performance. And it was their first concert for this school year.

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I have seen my daughter play cello in the orchestra multiple times in the past. From her grade school days, to high school days, and to community orchestra. From the screechy-sound of beginners, to more polished tones of intermediate, to quite advanced.

Though this maybe the best group that she’s been a member so far. After all they were all music majors, both undergraduate and graduate students. As far as I am concern, they can be considered “professional” musicians now.

We knew back then, that when we introduced our little girl to music, that she has a special attachment to it, and we cannot deny the fact that she has a gift for it. So it was no surprise that that was the career path she chose to pursue. Even though honestly, I tried to sway her to a different path.

I know as a parent, we wanted a secure future for our kids. So we prefer professions like engineer, or doctor, or lawyer. But what’s wrong with literature, or arts, or music, if that’s where our child’s passion is? Success should not be gauge only on how much money we can earn, but also on the satisfaction and joy on doing what we love to do.

It was heartwarming to witness that my daughter is getting very skillful on the cello, as well as playing with the orchestra. But playing cello is not even her major. She’s majoring in another instrument. A much larger instrument, the piano. So there will be more concerts and recitals to attend to.

All those years of music lessons are finally paying off. We’re proud as well that our homeschooling “experiment,” (we homeschooled her from kindergarten to high school) was a success. All of our worries that her education was not adequate, were all appeased.

Now, my daughter is not merely surviving, but thriving in college. She even was granted a good scholarship that covers her college tuition, so we only have to pay for her food and dorm. With the cost of college education ever on the rise, ranging from $10,000 per year in state universities (for in-state residents) to $50,000 or more per year in private and more expensive institutions, getting a college degree these days can definitely break the bank.

Back to the concert. Though some of the selection they played were kind of hypnotic to me, I was able to stay awake through the concert. Over all it was fantastic. After the final bow, the audience were up on their feet. The only gripe I have on the concert is that it was not free. Sorry, I’m cheap.

But I get it. It helps support their university’s music program. Besides, the quality of their performance was superb that the concert was even recorded, and maybe aired one of these days on a public radio station. Definitely worth paying for.

So for the first time, I bought a ticket just to see my daughter perform. But I’m OK with that.

I wonder, would I have to pay a more expensive ticket when it’s time for her solo piano performance?

Empty Room

As parents, there are events in our child’s life that are happy moments, that we are proud of and we celebrate.

Events like their first spoken word, or their first step. Or maybe it is their first goal in the kids’ soccer league, or their first medal in the youth swim meet. Or maybe it is their first piano recital or perhaps their first role in their school play.

Or perhaps it is your child’s first visit to the principal’s office. What? Oh my mistake! We defintely are not proud of that, and don’t celebrate that event.

However, there are also events in our child’s life that are supposed to be milestone, but somehow we are sad that that day has come.

One of those events is when they enter college. Especially when the university they are going to is more than a hundred miles away, and that means they are leaving home.

So the day that we are preparing for, and also dreading for, but know that it is coming, has come.

Our little girl is off to college! Where did time go?

my daughter’s school bag evolution: from elementary, to high shcool, and college

As we sent her off to college the other day, I was having some difficulty bringing her stuff and things down the stairs to load in the car. It was not that her stuff was heavy, like her teddy bear. Or maybe a little bit, like her drawer. But it was more so that my heart was heavy. I can’t seem to let go.

We want her to stay home. Perhaps just to be with us for a little longer. But we also know that it is time. Time for her to pursue her chosen career. Time for her to follow her dreams. Time for her to go out there, and make her own mark in this world.

As I passed my daughter’s room this morning, something have drawn me to enter it. Perhaps I was hoping that she’s still there, sleeping in her bed. Perhaps I was wishing to find someone there that I would nudge out of bed, and tell her to go hop into the shower, for it is late. Perhaps I was just missing someone to greet good morning, and remind her that I love her.

We are definitely not washing our daughter’s bedsheet, pillow cases, and blanket. We will leave her bed as is, as she left it. Until she comes back home for a visit.

 

 

Kwentong Bulsa: Isang Balik Tanaw

Ano ang laman na iyong bulsa? Pitaka? Cellphone? Mga barya? Kumpol ng susi? Kalahating bubblegum? Lipstick? Rosaryo? Sigarilyo? Balisong? Ticket ng lotto? Balato ko ha!

O walang laman ang iyong bulsa? Teka, baka naman nadukutan ka na? O maaring butas lang ang iyong bulsa?

Ano man ang antas mo sa buhay, meron at meron kang bitbit, at hindi umaalis ng inyong bahay, na wala ito sa iyong bulsa.

Hindi ko sasabihin kung ano dapat ang laman ng iyong bulsa, akin lamang isasalaysay kung ano ang nasa aking bulsa sa iba’t-ibang yugto ng aking buhay.

Noong kindergarten:

1. bente-singko

2. panyolito

3. jolens (marble)

Simple lang ang buhay noon. Simple lang din ang aking pangangailan. Kaya’t bente-singko sentimos (benchingko tawag ko noon) lang, ay kasyang-kasya na. Kontento na ako dun. May hopia o kaya bazooka bubblegum na akong mabibili, at may sukli pa.

Ito ay noon, ngunit sa ngayon kahit balat yata ng bubblegum hindi kayang bilihin ng benchingko.

May panyolito rin akong baon noon. Kahit ayaw kong magdala nito, ay lagi itong nakasuksok sa aking bulsa. Dahil mabait (*ubo-ubo*) akong bata. Kasi sabi ng nanay ko kailangan ko raw ng panyo, kapag pinapawisan o kapag tumutulo ang sipon. Sa totoo lang para sa akin, pwedeng nang pamunas ang manggas ng t-shirt ko.

Ang panyolito ba ay tanda ng aking pagsunod sa aking mga magulang?

Lagi rin akong may jolens sa bulsa. Dahil laro lang ang laman ng utak ko noon. Walang muwang. Walang responsibilidad. Malaya. Malayang tumalungko sa lupa at magpakadusing, sa paglalaro ng jolens.

At simple lang din ang aking pangarap – ang matalo ko sa jolens ang aking mga kalaro. Hindi naman sa pagyayabang, minsan ay naging asintado at mahusay din naman ako sa laro ng jolens.

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larong jolens

*****

Noong highschool at college:

1. suklay

2. panyo

3. wallet

Noong mga panahong iyon, meron na akong suksok na suklay sa aking bulsa. Yung natitiklop na parang balisong. Ito ay sandata ko na dala-dala araw-araw. Kailangan ayos lagi ang buhok. Kahit pa makipagsiksikan sa jeepney o sa bus, basta may suklay, guwaping pa rin.

Kusa ko na ring sukbit ang panyo. Kailangan punasan ang tagaktak ng pawis. Kailangan punasan ang sipon. Kasi nakakabawas sa pogi points kung basa ng pawis o tumutulo ang sipon. Dahil ang pangunahing pakay noon ay ang pumorma.

Dala ko rin ang aking wallet, kahit wala namang laman ito. Madalas nga kasyang pamasahe at pang soft-drink lang ang laman ng pitaka ko, pero bitbit ko pa rin ito. Bakit kamo? Kasi pampaumbok din ng puwet ito! Pati nga panyo ko (minsan dalawang panyo pa) nasa kabilang bulsa sa likod ng pantalon, para pantay ang pagkatambok.

Kung yung mga babaeng hindi nabiyayaan ng dibdib ay naglalagay ng medyas sa bra, kaming mga patpat na lalaki, ay panyo at pitaka sa puwetan ng pantalon.

Pero nagsimula na rin namang akong mangarap sa panahong iyon. Maliban sa makaporma at mapansin ng crush ko, ay may pangarap na rin, na sana makatapos ng pag-aaral, magkaroon ng matinong hanap-buhay, maging maginhawa, at magkaroon ng laman ang aking pitaka. At hindi lang hanggang porma ang suksok na pitaka.

*****

Ngayon

1. cellphone

2. wallet

3. susi

Sa paglipas ng panahon, nag-iba na ang aking pangangailangan. Wala ng suklay (wala nang susuklayin). Wala ng panyo. Hindi na mahalaga ang paporma.

Cellphone na ang laman lagi ng aking bulsa. Ito ang aking kuneksiyon sa trabaho, sa pamilya, at sa mundo. Narito ang aking mga contacts, schedule, e-mails, at notes. Gamit ko rin ito para alamin ang mga bagay na hindi ko alam – tatanungin ko lang si Mr. Google.

Ang aking cellphone ay hindi lang pang-selfie at pang-facebook. Pero siyempre gamit ko ito bilang kamera para sa aking blog, at pang-update kung may sumilip sa aking website. (Salamat sa pagtangkilik!)

Nandiyan pa rin naman ang aking wallet. Pero hindi pa rin ako nagdadala ng malaking halaga. Dahil plastik (credit cards) ang madalas kong gamit. Ibig sabihin, malakas ang loob mangutang at gumastos, dahil may trabaho na.

Iba na rin ang pangarap ko. Hindi lang para sa akin kundi para na rin sa kinabukasan ng aking pamilya. Kailangan may laman ang pitaka para may pang-baon ang aking mga anak.

Isa pang laman ng aking bulsa ngayon ay mga susi. Susi ng bahay at susi ng kotse. Mga bagong laruan kapalit ng jolen? Puwedeng sabihing medyo nakaka-angat at matagumpay na tayo dahil may pag-aari na.

Ngunit bahay at kotse ba ang simbolo ng tagumpay? O ito lamang ang mga panibagong pangangailangan sa yugto ngayon ng aking buhay. Siyempre kailangan ng bahay para kanlungan ng pamilya, at kotse para makarating sa dapat patunguhan.

Pero hindi ko pa rin naman lubos na pag-aari ang bahay at kotse, at patuloy pa rin itong hinuhulog-hulugan. Kaya kailangang patuloy din ang aking pagkayod para mabayaran ang mga ito. Ang mga susi bang aking dala-dala ay nagpapalaya? O ito’y gumagapos na parang tanikala?

Pangangailangan nga ba ang laman ng ating bulsa? O tayo’y alipin ng nasa loob nito? Pero hindi ko rin naman sasabihing mabuti pang walang laman ang ating bulsa.

Tunay na mas simple ang buhay noong jolen pa lang ang nasa aking bulsa.

*****

(photo by Rodgie Cruz from pixoto.com)

Beyond Testing

Recently my wife and I were helping our daughter prepare for a national exam. It was the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) or also known as National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). For my readers who are not familiar with this, it is one of the standardized tests high school students here in the US take. It is one thing colleges can use to evaluate for admissions, as well as qualification for scholarship grants. It is akin to the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) in the Philippines which I took to apply for college. (By the way, NCEE was abolished in 1994, ten years after I took it.)

Test prep 1

It seems only yesterday, we were introducing the ABC’s to our daughter and teaching her how to count 1, 2, 3. Now she is way beyond 1A + 2/B = 3C. And indeed, we are preparing her for college admission already. In another blink, she’ll be off to college. Where did time go?

I would consider myself an expert test taker. That’s not bragging. Or maybe a little bit. With college exams, medical school tests, medical licensure exams (both US and Philippines), American board exam and different subspecialties board certifications – I believe I have taken so many exams that I have my test-taking skills refined to a tee. But that’s not my best qualification to coach my daughter for the PSAT. I may also have aced my college admission test, but that’s not my prime qualification either.

I believe my foremost qualification to help my daughter prepare for the exam, is the plain fact that I am his father, and I really cared for her future. In fact, my wife and I have taken our children’s education personally that we homeschooled them.

I remember my father telling me years ago, that the best inheritance they could leave me is education. We may not have much but I am thankful to my parents for the education they provided me, and the opportunities it opened for me that led me where I am now.

I have mentioned in the past that my father came not from a family of means, but a family of farmers in the Philippines. They were hardworking yet simple people. My father was the first one in their kinsfolk to pursue a higher education and to have a college degree. He did it by working to support himself through college.

My mother on the other hand came from a family of teachers. Most of them were elementary school teachers, including my mom. She was my first teacher, who introduced me to reading and math, even before I officially enrolled in kindergarten.

I have also mentioned in my past posts, that I am the first in our clan to go to medical school. I wished my dad could have seen me graduate, but he died prematurely even before I completed my first year. Even though he passed away, I was blessed that I was still able to finish medical school. Thanks to scholarship.

Last year, one nephew of mine, finished medical school. So I am not the only doctor now in our clan. I hope there will be another one in the future, even in my own immediate family.

My daughter does not know yet exactly what college course she wants to pursue. Nonetheless she is leaning towards music and math. One thing she knows though is that she does not want to be a medical doctor, and I am fine with that.

But there’s more important things in life than grades and scoring high in exams. There’s more important assets in this world than titles and college degrees. Values like integrity, honesty, perseverance, love, and family, just to name a few. I hope I can teach these to my children as well.

Whatever happens to the PSAT/NMSQT; or whatever college or career my daughter pursues; or whatever future for that matter, she will have – there is one thing that will not change. And that is I will be proud of her no matter what. Just for the simple reason, that she is my daughter.

(*image from here)