Goodnight Kuya Boy: A Eulogy

(Since I started this blog, we have experienced some deaths in our family and friends that I have mentioned here. Few days ago we lost another friend, who is more than a family. This piece was read on his Eulogy.)

My wife and I are adopted children of Kuya Boy’s family. Albeit unofficial. And I know there are many of you here as well.

We came to know Kuya Boy and Ate Angie when we first arrived from the Philippines, and moved to Morristown, New Jersey. That was almost 20 years ago. Time flies indeed.

Malou was just a little girl and still wears pigtails on her hair. And Joe…..was already Joe, with his “pretty boy” image, as he still is today.

Having no immediate family closer than 8000 miles away, Kuya Boy’s family became our instant family.

When we didn’t have a car yet, Kuya Boy’s white van became our official ride. Every weekend they would go out of their way from their home in Livingston, to pick us up in Morristown, so we can attend the Fililpino Church.

With Kuya Boy, Ate Angie, and their kids, John, Mark, Melissa, Joe, and Malou, there was still room for my wife and I in their van. In fact if there’s two more that need a ride, they probably would make a room for them too.

That’s what Kuya Boy is all about. There is always room for you, irregardless of space and circumstances.

When we don’t have any “happening,” Kuya Boy’s house was our “happening.” We don’t need any reason to party. Any day was good enough to hang-out in their home and party.

That’s how Kuya Boy is. Any day is a good day for celebration.

Kuya Boy may not speak much. In fact, I remember him silently nodding off or down right sleeping, while sitting in a corner. Perhaps due to working too many long hours to provide for his growing family as he was such a hard worker, and we all know that. But when he speaks, you better listen. Because they are words of wisdom.

Kuya Boy will do anything you ask of him with no questions. During the Sing Men days, our male chorale group, Kuya Jun, our conductor, would ask him to sing bass, and he’ll sing bass. He would ask him to sing baritone, he would sing baritone. Sing second tenor, he would gladly do so. First tenor? He was one of the most booming first tenor I’ve ever heard. And Kuya Jun would ask him to soften up a little or he would drown all our voices.

That’s what Kuya Boy is. Accommodating and versatile.

When we had no home – yes, there was a time we were homeless, when I was in-between work for several months – Kuya Boy’s home became our home. Kuya Boy and Ate Angie lovingly took us in, even letting us sleep in their own bedroom. They sheltered us and fed us, expecting nothing in return.

This just show you how Kuya Boy is. His home is your home too.

And during that time that I was jobless, broke and had no money, Kuya Boy and Ate Angie would even hand us money, saying it was for my daughter’s needs, who was two years old at that time. I know that they were not rich by the world’s standard. They just have enough. But they were rich in love.

Yes, Kuya Boy and Ate Angie shared that love. Love that was overflowing.

When we left New Jersey several years ago, it was a sad farewell. And even though we moved on to a new State and a new home, we kept in touch with them and their children, our adoptive family. Somehow, we left our hearts here in New Jersey.

Now, these hearts are broken.

Only three years ago, we said our final goodbye to Ate Angie (see post here). Today, we say goodbye to Kuya Boy.

Somehow New Jersey for us will never be the same place that we know. In fact, its not just New Jersey, but our world will never be the same without them.

Yes we weep for this loss, yet in the same time we celebrate their lives, and the privilege of once in our life time, we came to know them.

Good night Kuya Boy. We’ll see you, with Ate Angie, in that great new morning.

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A Day with the Sculptures

During our last trip to the East Coast, we took a train ride from Philadelphia to Trenton, New Jersey. Our plan is to meet our friend there, who will tour us inside the campus of Princeton University. But our friend brought us also to a nice detour on a nearby park, the “Grounds for Sculpture.”

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This park is located at Hamilton, New Jersey, and was opened to the public in 1992. Since its inception they have collected more than 240 works of art, including sculptures of renowned artists. It is kind of unique that sculptures blend with the landscapes, and visitors are free to “interact and touch” the art.

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The sculptures are scattered all over in the 42-acre lot. Some are in spacious lawn…..IMG_1514

Others are up on a hill…..

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On water…..IMG_2431

On slabs of concrete…..

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And even up the wall.

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Some of the art pieces are abstracts…..IMG_1525

Some not so abstract, but still captivating…..IMG_1340

And some so captivating, I felt like ogling. (For your curiosity, that is a sculpture and not real.)

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Besides the art pieces, the terrain and the passageways are also interesting and varied. Below is a road in the open…..

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This one in the midst of bamboos…..

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Here’s a narrow path walled by trees…..

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And below is a walkway among the hedges.

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With all the walking we did, we got hungry. We came to this place inside the park where we had our lunch. The name of the restaurant is “Rat’s.” My son was disappointed when he learned that they don’t serve rats!

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The restaurant is beside a man-made pond and has this French garden ambiance. If you feel like you are inside impressionist Claude Monet’s painting, it is because that is exactly what they are imitating. Below is a view from our table.

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But the best part of the visit to this park is interacting with the arts. We tried to poke (or pickpocket?) them…….

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And whisper sweet something to them……..

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Do mathematical equation with them (supposed to be pie x radius, get it?)…..

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Imitate them……..

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Imitate and outdo them…..

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Or be a part of them.

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We really enjoyed our visit to this park and I hope you caught a glimpse of this beautiful and fascinating place through these pictures.

Here’s looking through the arts…….

Pinoytransplant.

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There Are Places I Remember

Here are the pictures of places where we used to live, and hospitals where I did my training. It’s hard to believe that it has been more than 10 years since then. (Photos taken during our recent trip back to New York and New Jersey area.)

Drive-by Shooting…….Pictures.

Last week, we had a really long drive to New York. We also did some drive-by shooting……… shooting pictures, that is.

After passing miles and miles of cornfields and farmlands from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, the scenery changed drastically when we reached Pennsylvania, with its mountains and forested areas. The fall foliage colors was also in it’s peak.

sunrise mountains

beautiful fall colors

"Life is a highway, I want to ride it all night long." - Rascal Flatts

"It's a long lonely highway when you're travellin' all alone." - Elvis Presley

quaint town

"The long and winding road......." - Beatles

Over the mountain........

.....around the mountain,.....

......and through a mountain (tunnel through a mountain somewhere in Pennsylvania).

New Jersey continued on with similar scenery……..

blue mountains

Garden State Parkway (New Jersey)

When we got to New York City, it was a different jungle altogether.

view of Manhattan skyline from Queens

under the Number 7 train in Queens

Park Avenue. Buildings in the middle of the street. (at the end of the street is where Central Station is)

Time Square (yes, we spent a lot of time there, due to the traffic!)

The Plaza Hotel. This is where we stayed.........I wish. (the policemen directed us somewhere else, ha ha)

horse carriage at Central Park (watch out for the droppings!)

Columbus Circle (No, this is not where Columbus first landed. It's where he first did his shopping!???)

Straight ahead is Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Finding for a street parking is impossible. 4 hour parking at a garage is as expensive as your dinner!

One of my wife's favorite places.

Street sign. Most of the streets are one way!

What? No traffic! Perhaps this was just a glitch.

Here's some light traffic (near Queensboro bridge).

And real heavy traffic.

And more traffic. At least this has a beautiful view of the Hudson river and George Washington bridge.

And more traffic.....

Leaving New York City. Crossing George Washington bridge at sunset.

Places and People I Remember (In Loving Memory)

There are places I’ve been to that are forever etched in my heart. One of them is New Jersey. This is where it all started for me in my pursuit of my American dream, and also a place I once called home. This is where I transitioned from the streets of Manila to an idyllic town of Morristown, New Jersey (a town I aptly described as like living inside a Christmas card). I  remember vividly the garden-like parkways, the 12 lanes turnpikes, the quaint small towns, the bustling cities, and especially the people there that I get to know and love.

Yesterday, me and my family have to make a hurried trip back to New Jersey. Not for a vacation, but to pay a final respect to a person I dearly love, and to be with a family that have adopted me as one of their own, in their time of mourning.

Ate Angie was just 57 years old, an age that many will consider is still in the peak of  life, but only God knows why she was made to rest early (at least she was still 7 years older than when my father died). And this is all happening while my own mother in the Philippines is preparing to have surgery for her cancer, next week. Oh, the fragility of life. But in the end it is not how long we lived, but how we lived our life is what matters.

Today, in this cold and overcast day in New Jersey, somehow it feels different. It is not complete. I then realized that a place is just made more memorable and precious by the people we love that lives there. New Jersey will not be the same anymore, at least for me.

Goodbye Ate Angie. We are sorely missing you.