My Weekend in Photos

Here’s what I did last weekend:

1. Helped my wife cooked tuyo (dried fish) in our outdoor grill.

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2. Chased a deer during one of my morning runs.

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3. Scavenged for bargain art item in the streets downtown (Des Moines Art Festival was this weekend).

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4. Got lost among the corn (visited a friend’s farm).

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5. And lastly, summoned my indigenous spirit or maybe my hidden pyromaniac nature and did a fire dance.

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(*all photos were taken by me with an iPhone, except the last photo which was taken by our friend)

Pagmumuni-muni sa Bubong na Yero

Umaakyat ka ba sa bubong ng inyong bahay upang doon tumambay? Sabi nila pusa at mga kalapati lang daw ang umuupo at lumalagi sa bubong. Pero bakit si Spiderman o si Batman, laging tumatambay sa bubong?

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Hunyo, 1987.

Mahigit isang linggo pa lang nagsimula ang pasukan. Unang semestre at unang taon kong tumapak sa medical school. Masasabing punong-puno ng pag-asa ang aking hinaharap. At ako rin nama’y punong-puno ng pangarap.

Ngunit isang gabi, nang ako’y umuwi, ay mayroon kumosyon sa amin. Hindi lamang sa aming bahay, kundi sa aming magkakapit-bahay sa lugar namin sa Maynila.

Akin napag-alaman na may sunog daw sa malapit sa amin. Ngunit kahit sa kabilang kalye pa ang sunog, dahil sa dikit-dikit na parang mga posporo ang mga bahay doon sa amin sa Sampalok, ay madaling kumalat ang apoy.

Hindi ito ang unang sunog na aming naranasan. Mahigit isang taon lang ang lumipas bago ang sunog na ito, nang magkaroon ng sunog sa mismong kalye namin. Dalawang bahay lang ang layo mula sa amin. Lumikas na nga kami sa aming bahay. Buti na lamang at naagapan ng mga bumbero at hindi masyadong kumalat ang apoy. Gayon pa ma’y isang bata ang namatay noon, dahil hindi ito naitakas.

Kaya nang magkaroon ulit ng sunog sa aming lugar nang gabing iyon, hindi maiaalis ang takot sa aming puso. Ako’y inutusan ng aking nanay na tanawin kung gaanong kalayo ang sunog, upang malaman kung kailangan naming mag-alsa balutan.

Paano ko tatanawin ang sunog? Wala namang tore doon sa amin. Hindi rin naman pwedeng akyatin ang poste ng Meralco. Kaya’t walang pinakamagandang lugar para makita kundi sa bubong ng aming bahay. Kahit pa ba dalawang palapag lang ang aming bahay, kapag nasa bubong na, ay malayo na rin ang matatanaw.

Maraming beses na rin naman akong umakyat sa bubong ng aming bahay. Nariyan ‘nung mag-palipad ako ng saranggola kasama ng aking tiyuhin sa aming bubong. At minsan din ay tinulungan ko ang aking tatay na magpahid ng vulcaseal sa aming mga yero dahil tumutulo ito kapag umuulan.

Ngunit lahat ng pagkakataon noon ay sa araw ako umaakayat sa bubong. Ngayon lang ako umakyat nang gabi. Pero hindi ako miyembro ng “akyat-bahay.”

Matapos kong tanawin ang sunog, ay aking natanto na malayu-layo naman pala ito sa amin. Siguro, tatlong kalye ang layo. Akin ding naobserbahan na ang ningas ng malalaking dila ng apoy ay dahan-dahan nang humuhupa. Siguro dahil na rin sa pagsisikap ng mga bumbero.

Pagkatapos kong isigaw at ipaalam sa aking pamilya na malayo naman pala ang sunog at hindi naming kailangang lumikas, ay nanatili at tumambay pa muna ako sa bubong ng aming bahay. Habang ako’y nakatanaw sa nagliliyab na apoy, ay akin ding tinangkang tanawin kung ano ang bukas para sa amin.

Sa katunayan, galing lang ako sa ospital ng gabing iyon. Sa ospital kung saan nakaratay ang aking ama. Aking kinuha ang mga plaka ng kanyang CAT scan mula sa isang lugar kung saan ito isinagawa, at inihatid ito sa ospital kung saan siya ooperahan.

Isang malaking tumor sa utak ang hatol sa aking ama.

Mapanganib daw ang gagawing operasyon. Hindi rin kayang isiguro ng duktor kung magiging tagumpay ito. Ngunit operasyon lang ang tsansang meron kami, kung gusto pa naming madagdagan ang buhay ng aking tatay. Siya ay singkwenta anyos lamang.

Totoo, hindi ang tinatanaw na sunog ang pinakamalaking nagbabadyang panganib sa aming buhay noong gabing iyon. Hindi apoy na maaring tumupok sa aming bahay ang aking kinakatakutan, kundi isang sakuna na papatay sa apoy ng aming buhay at aming mga pangarap.

Paano kung hindi kayang lunasan ang sakit ng aking ama? Paano kung hindi magtagumpay ang operasyon? Buhay niya ang nakasalalay dito. At buhay rin naming pamilya ang magdudusa.

Ngunit habang ako’y nakamasid sa apoy na tumutupok sa mga bahay, ay isang katahimikan ang sa aki’y sumukob. Ang aking takot at pangangamba ay pawang inalis at isang kasiguraduhan ang aking nadama.

Hindi ko man batid kung ano ang hatid ng bukas, ay batid ko naman kung sino ang may hawak ng bukas. At ipinangako ko rin sa aking sarili, na anuman ang mangyari, ay hindi ako bibitaw sa aking mga pangarap.

Pagkalipas ng tatlong buwan matapos kong magmuni-muni sa bubong ng aming bahay, ay pumanaw ang aking ama.

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Enero, 2016.

Ako ay muling nakatanaw mula sa isang mataas na lugar sa Maynila. Sasabihin kong mas mataas pa sa bubong ng aming bahay noon ang aking kinalalagyan. Muli akong tumanaw sa lugar ng Sampalok kung saan minsan isang gabi, maraming taon na ang nakaraan, ako ay tumanaw at nagmuni-muni.

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overlooking Manila area and the Sampaloc PLDT tower

Ngunit walang nagliliyab na sunog akong tinatanaw. Wala ring nagbabadyang panganib akong binabantayan.

Kahit pumanaw ang aking ama, sa gabay naman ng Maykapal, at dahil na rin sa pagsusumikap, ay nakaraos din ang aming pamilya. Ako’y napagkalooban ng scholarship na siyang nagtuguyod na magtuloy ako sa aking pag-aaral. At kahit pa laging maliit at minsan ay kulang ang aking baon, ay naigapang naman at nakatapos rin.

Ngayon, ako’y  nanumbalik sa aking unibersidad doon sa Maynila, upang dumalo sa aming 25th graduation anniversary mula sa medical school.

Mula sa mataas na lugar na iyon, muling nagmuni-muni at nagpasalamat. Wala mang sunog akong tinatanaw, ang apoy naman ng mga pangarap ko’y patuloy pa ring nagliliyab.

*******

(*Photo taken during my last visit to Manila, January 2016)

 

Fire and Rain

The past several weeks has been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me and my family. First was shock. Followed by joy. Next came more shock. Then grief. (see previous post)

In the few days that followed after our painful loss, a friend of mine asked me if we should cancel the camping for the boys that has been planned for a while, before all the unexpected turn of events had happened. He told me that maybe our family needs to spend time alone in our mourning.

So I asked my wife about this, but she was quick and firm to say that the plans for the boy’s outing should push through. She added that she will be fine while I am away. Besides, my son, who was really looking forward to this trip will be very disappointed if the camping will be postponed.

Yes we grieve for our loss, but we should also continue to celebrate life. For life should go on. No, life MUST go on. I tell you that life can be like butterfly wings: beautiful, yet can be delicate and fragile. But there’s nothing more resilient and tenacious than the human spirit.

Thus me and my son, together with our friends – another father and son team, headed to a lake-side camp and spent two days in the wild. Well it was not really the wild, for we slept in a cabin, that has heat, air-conditioning and even a refrigerator. There were two bunk beds, spacious enough for the four of us. By the way, this trip was only for the boys, but in a few weeks, our whole family, together with other families, will go for a “real” camping, that is sleeping in tents.

One of the main activity in the camp was building a fire. We enjoyed gathering firewood and sticks and starting our own fire like skilled boy scouts. OK, OK, we cheated. We brought lighter and wood fire starter, so it was no sweat at all. We spent hours and hours sitting around the campfire and staring at the fire. We burned woods, sticks, barks, leaves, paper, plastic, paper plates – basically anything we can find to burn. A little open fire brings out the pyromaniac in anybody.

Of course we cooked our meal too in the fire: hotdogs and marshmallows! What is camping without hotdogs and s’mores? We could have sung “Kumbaya” as well, but we’re too busy munching on our “perfectly” cooked food. Well for assurance, just in case we cannot start a fire, my wife did not let us leave without bringing chicken adobo and cooked rice. So we are not really left alone in the wild to fend for ourselves and survive without provisions.

During the early evening, angry rain clouds with gutsy winds came over. Rain fell over our campgrounds . But the rain did not extinguish our fire nor did it dampen our spirits. The rainfall did not spoil our fun, it just made the night more interesting. My son and his friend grab the umbrellas (yes, we even had umbrellas!) and frolic and dance around the fire. It was a mix of Native American fire dance and Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain. Minutes later, the clouds rolled away, and the twinkling stars appeared up in the sky.

This experience just reminded me that in life, even when the winds blow and rain pours, if we just hold on for a little longer and keep our flame burning, we will make it through, and we will see the stars again.

We also spent at least a couple of hours biking (we did hauled our bikes along) around the lake which has a nice bike trail, a loop of about 6-7 miles. Along the trail there was a covered bridge, an old round barn, farmlands, parks, beautiful lake-side houses, and of course the lake. It was certainly a scenic bike ride. Halfway through the trail, there was even a cozy diner that serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. So we were far from starving at all!

We did not do any water activity like fishing, kayaking or swimming as it was still too cold for the season. There are many pictures hanging on the wall of the cozy diner exhibiting photos of people showing off their prized catch from the lake, indicating that this place is a prime location for fishing. Maybe we will do that when we return some other time, so we will have big fish stories to brag about. Or should I say “fishy” stories.

As we were going home, I asked my son if he enjoyed our trip. He gave me a wide grin. I don’t need to ask more.

Life indeed continues.