(Below is what’s I wrote in our holiday greetings/newsletter that we gave out for this year.)

When we go on road trips, we often take notice of those numbered markers at the side of the road. These are mile markers or milestones telling us how far we’ve come. In our life’s journey there are also milestone events.

Some milestones are simple, yet joyous. Like when your kids graduated from diapers and are fully toilet trained. We are way, way past that milestone, yet we cherish those moments for children are small only for a short time.

Some milestones are bittersweet. Like when your firstborn leave home for college. We are past that too, as our daughter has been in college for a few years now. In fact she will be graduating next year, which will be another milestone.

Some milestones are just sad. Like when you become empty nesters. We’re not there yet, as our son still lives with us, but not for long. He will be a senior in high school this coming school year, and will be off to college in another blink.

There are some milestones you don’t want to broadcast. Like when you hit 50, and realize that you’re old. Both my wife and I are past that too but we did not have much fanfare about it.

But there are some milestones you’re simply proud of. And that’s the kind of milestone we are having this year. My wife and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I know further adventure awaits us and we are looking to more milestones on this journey.

There are events though that are more than just milestones. They are earth shattering and have altered the course of history. Like when Jesus came to this earth to save us from our sins. It changed the destiny of us all. We celebrate His birth on this Holiday season.

May we all experience a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

(*pictures from our photo file)

Someone is Praying

I was pulling out of our driveway last weekend and I had this certain feeling of heaviness in my heart. I was going to work and would be in the hospital, mainly manning the ICU, for 36 long hours straight.

First of all, it was the weekend before Christmas, so I was a little sad that I would miss out on many happenings. My kids were supposed to play music in the church’s Christmas program. But more so, I had this feeling of dread to whatever challenges I would face. The ICU is crazily busy this time of year, you know. What kind of chaos was waiting for me, God only knows.

Of course that dreadful feeling I had was nothing compared to some other people leaving for work. Like the OFW or overseas workers who are leaving their home and family for a year or longer to go to a foreign country. They would be fighting extreme loniness and homesickness. Though I had a taste of that feeling when I left my home in the Philippines more than two decades ago with an unforseen future at that time.

For some, it is even worse. I would not even try to imagine the feelings of soldiers leaving their home to be deployed somewhere in the world where there is war and unrest, and their return is not guaranteed at all. Talk about feeling of dread and angst, that definitely is.

Anyway, as I drove away from our home, the first song that played on my radio (my car radio is sync on my phone’s playlist) was “Someone is Praying for You.” All of a sudden I felt some kind of reassurance, and the foreboding feeling I had melted away.

The chorus of that song goes like this:

Someone is praying for you, someone is praying for you.
So when it seems you’re all alone, and your heart will break in two.
Remember someone is praying for you.

Do you have someone praying for you?

Maybe you owe someone money, and they are praying that you remember to pay your debt. Or maybe you have offended someone and they are praying that you choke on your food so you would think of them. But I am not talking of those kind of people wishing for you.

What I mean are people who really care for your well-being and have you in their thoughts and prayers no matter what.

I know most parents, if not all, especially mothers, are always praying for the good of their children. It does not matter how old you are or how far you wandered away from home, your parents are still praying for you.

My parents are both gone now. My father died 3 decades ago and my mother died 4 years ago. Yet, I know that there is still someone praying for me all the time.

It is a comforting feeling that someone always have me on their mind. Whether I am home or not at home. Whether I am strolling in a park or walking through the forest of difficulties. Whether I am sure of my path or I can barely find my way.

And that someone has also been by my side for the past 24 years. Happy Anniversary my dear, and thank you for walking this life with me.

(*photo taken last year)

Looking for Falling Stars

Last summer, we learned that there would be a great opportunity to see meteors in our area. That is if we would look at the right time and at the right direction. And provided that we would have a clear sky.

The event is the Perseid meteor shower, a stream of debris associated with the Swift-Tuttle comet. This is an annual event, and they said that in a clear night sky you can potentially see 100 falling stars in an hour. A hundred falling stars in an hour? That’s a proposition that was just too hard to resist.

Even though I spent half of my life in Manila (can’t see much stars in a big city), I have seen meteors several times in the past. The first time was when I was in grade school during our school’s camping in Batangas. The last time was not too long ago when I was driving home one night here in Iowa and it streaked down the sky. Perhaps I am lucky to see falling stars a few times, or perhaps I’m just looking at the night sky an awful lot of times.

My wife who have not seen a falling star ever, except maybe Kris Aquino falling off the stage on live TV some decades ago, so she was really determined to see this event.

So one night last August, we went outside to watch for falling stars.

We live in a country side, which was a decision we made years ago, where our dark night sky still shows the stars shining brightly and not blurred by the city lights. However in the past 13 years we have lived out here, the city has been creeping closer and closer to us. The cornfields and open prairies that we used to pass by is steadily being gobbled up by construction of housing developments and commercial establishments. I am not sure if I would like to call that “progress.”

It was close to 11 o’clock at night when we went out, a time that ordinarily I would already be snoring. We stood in our deck and looked out in our backyard sky towards northeast, the direction we read it would be. After close to half an hour outside, we still have not seen any falling stars. Not even a single one! And they promised 100 stars an hour?

We were also getting cold, for even though it was summer, it was seasonably cooler than usual that night. Our necks were getting strained as well from looking up. We should have placed a mat in our lawn and lay there under the stars with our blankets. At least we would be comfortable while we eagerly wait and while we listen to the ‘sweet nothing’ whispers in our ears. I’m referring to the pesky mosquitoes buzzing around our heads.

After a long while, as I was looking at the sky in the direction we thought the meteors would appear, I believed I saw a light streaked in my peripheral field of vision. So I told my wife that perhaps we were looking at the wrong direction. So we trained our gaze to a different direction in the sky.

Sure enough, in less than a minute, we saw a bright star flashed across the sky and disappeared in the dark. Not much later, another one did. And another one.

Isn’t it like many times in life, what we’re searching for has been there all along, we just have not realized it, or we just have not looked the right way. Like your lost keys. Or the love that you’re waiting for. Or the happiness that you’re chasing.

Satisfied, my wife suggested that we can go back inside the house, knowing also that the right direction where we can look was in the full view of our bedroom window. So we pulled out a sleeping mat and placed it near the window, and there we laid for the night instead of our bed, and watch for more shooting stars.

They said that you should make a wish when you see a shooting star. Of course I did. That wish was already been granted: lying down here beside me.


Happy Anniversary my dear. It has been 23 years of happy moments and fulfilled wishes.

(*photo taken in Mohonk Mountain House, New York)


Of Flowers and Photographs

These lovely flowers will wither in a few days. The beautiful sunny day will soon turn into night. Even the hanging evergreen wreaths in our windows will not last forever, even if they are called “evergreen,” but will one day lose all its needles. And this picture-perfect photograph, will fade into memory.

Someday, just like the flowers, our strength will also wane. Our eyesight, like a sunny day, will grow dim. Our hair will turn gray, that is if we don’t lose it all first, like the needles of the wreath. And just like a faded photograph, our memory will one day, lose its sharpness.

But unlike flowers, our love will last. And like what old photographs do, we will leave an enduring legacy.

Here’s to us – happy 17th anniversary my love.

Magandang Panaginip

Ibinukas ko ang aking mga mata. Pamilyar ang lugar na aking kinalalagyan. Sa paglipas ng panahon ay nakabisado ko na ang bawat sulok ng silid na ito. Nag-aagaw na ang dilim at liwanag  sa aking kapaligiran. Panibagong umaga na naman. Ngunit sa likod ng aking isipan, ay may nagsasabing ang araw na ito ay natatangi at hindi pangkarinawan lamang.

Aking binalingan ang aking katabi sa higaan. Mahimbing pa ang kanyang pagtulog. Nababanaag ang kapayapaan sa kanyang mukha – isang kagandahan na aking masayang kinamumulatan sa bawat umagang dumarating. Siya ang pag-ibig ng aking buhay, kabiyak ng aking puso, at ina ng aking mga anak.

Mahirap paniwalaan na labing anim na taon na pala ang nakalilipas mula sa takdang araw na ito, nang kami ay pinag-isang dibdib. Marami na ring mga karanasan ang aming pinagsamahan. Mga masasayang yugto, at may ilang malulungkot. Mga kaginhawaan, at mayroon ding mga paghihirap. Mga matatamis, at may mga mapapait na yugto. Ang lahat ng ito ay lalo lang nagpalakas ng aming pagkabuklod.

Magkatabi kami sa pagtulog kahit sobrang maalinsangan ang gabi (sa Maynila at Florida) o maging saksakan man ng ginaw (gaya ngayon). Mula sa pagtulog sa matigas na lapag  (ng kami ay unang manirahan sa New Jersey ), hanggang sa malambot naming queen bed ngayon. Mula sa maliit na studio-type na apartment, kasama na ang panandaliang panahon na kami ay naging “homeless” (sa New York) at nakitira lamang sa mga kaibigan, hanggang sa aming matahimik na sariling tahanan (dito sa Iowa) ngayon.

mapayapang tahanan

Naranasan din naming matulog ng hindi magkasama, nang kami ay sandaling nagkahiwalay. Namagitan sa amin ang malawak na dagat ng Pacifico. Mga ilang buwan din akong naunang tumulak dito sa Amerika, bago nakasunod sa akin ang aking asawa. Malamig at malungkot ang mga gabi, at napakahaba at nakaiinip ang mga araw noong mga panahong kami ay magkalayo.

May mga ilang yugto rin na ako’y na-‘outside ng kulambo’ at natulog sa sofa dahil sa mga tampuhan. Mga tampuhang pururot na madali naman naming nasasaayos. At kahit hindi ako inubos ng lamok, at kahit pa malaki at komportable ang aming sofa, ay hindi ko nais matulog pa uli doon.

Bahagi rin ng aming karanasan ang matulog na napapagitnaan ng isang sanggol, o kaya ay may katabing bata sa aming kama. Mga ilang taon din kaming natutulog na magkakasama sa isang kuwarto, kasama ang aming dalawang anak. Hanggang nasanay nang matulog ang aming mga supling sa kani-kanilang sariling silid ay doon lamang uli kami napag-isa at natulog na walang mga katabing alipores.

Kahit pa ako’y parang karburador sa paghihilik, o parang dalag na pumalag at sumisipa, o parang asong ulol na tulo laway kapag natutulog, ay mahal pa rin ako ng aking asawa at nais pa rin niya akong katabi sa gabi. Dahil mabait naman ako, kapag tulog. O marahil ay dahil mainit naman akong yumakap. Tunay naman talagang matatamis ang mga gabi, at kaayaaya ang mga umaga ng aming pagsasama.

bagong umagang tanaw mula sa aming bintana

Ako ay namalik-mata at naaalimpungatan lang yata. Kinurot-kurot ko ang aking sarili. Kung ang lahat ng mga karanasang ito ay panaginip lamang, sana ay huwag na akong magising.

Ako’y napabalikwas sa aking katabi. Mataimtim ko itong pinagmasdan at marahang yinakap. Buhay at tunay nga. Hindi ito panaginip lamang.

Labing anim na taon. At bumibilang………..

Hanggang sa ako’y mahimlay na sa aking huling hantungan, ay doon lamang ako mahihimbing na hindi sa iyong piling.