To My Future Kids

My niece from a cousin gave birth to my fourth grandson yesterday. She’s 20. I’m 26. And I’m shit scared. It is starting to dawn on me that I might be running out of time building my own family while I am here stuck trying to figure out how to be the person God wants me to be. I cry a little every time I see videos of babies in social media, being very cute, cuddly and smart. I cringe at the idea of bringing a person to this world but my heart melts wondering how amazing that person could be.

And so for my first born and to all my kids, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I and your dad are still work in progress. Being in our mid 20s we are still in this crazy journey of finding and molding ourselves to be of service to the Lord and to the world, trying to keep optimism that we bring a change to humanity.
I’m sorry you wouldn’t come into these days that my whole family still lives under one roof and having catching ups over dinners are easy. I’m sorry you’ll miss the chance growing up with Clark and Chloe and have that love-hate relationship cousins develop every play time. I’m sorry that on your first years in school Lolo and Grandma will be a bit older and may not be the ones to give you a bath everyday.

I cannot promise that at the time you are with me, I will be in my best self. But it would be the version of me who would wholeheartedly devote her life as your mother, who would, at all cost, love you dearly.

Please know that when I hold you for the first time in the delivery room, it’s a promise of a lifetime love and protection.

That when you go home crying because you hurt your toes I’ll be ready with a band aid, or a gauze, and a candy because I know we both think it’s the best remedy to wounded toe.

That I’ll have circles around my eyes every time you get afraid of the monsters under your bed.

That I’ll be the most active stage mom making you costumes, helping you practice and cheering you on from your first performance at school til the last one my breathe would permit me to witness.

That though with tears in my eyes, I’ll be there in your first heartache. When you feel lost, defeated and wounded, I’ll be the first person to remind you of your worth.

That when you finish school, we’ll celebrate your dreams.

That when you walk down the aisle, I promise to work hard to be there. That I’ll take care of myself to be there.

We’ll have dinners every night, play time after your home works, fighting once in a while, gift giving every milestones, swimming every month, badminton every weekend and mass every Sunday. We’ll know God together and we’ll live your life by His words.

But for now, like what He tells me everyday, be patient. I’m excited to know you.

We’ll meet you in God’s perfect time. 🙂

Wandering Dreams

What do I do when I find my dreams realize in someone else’s life who doesn’t even dreamed for that dream?

This year has been one hell of a ride. At the beginning, God finally unfolded my purpose in life. I haven’t stopped looking forward to fulfilling it ever since. But now nine months have passed, and still I feel like I haven’t done anything. Everyday is a constant validation of my willingness and effort to put myself one step closer to achieving it.

I don’t want to be impatient about it. Since I waited four years to acquire answers from my questions. Sometimes I just can’t understand how and why opportunities unfold infront of someone else. Why do those wander off?

What It Really Means to Work as a Field and Research Engineer under the Government

I am nothing else but living outside my comfort zone since I started working as a field and research engineer three years ago. I am living a life very far from what I imagined to live. I always saw myself on high heels and power dressing, attending meetings with big people on elegant conference rooms, presenting reports on my work’s progress, speaking in English. But also, I always saw myself touching lives and changing the world.

In my job I wear trekking sandals or all terrain shoes, rash guard or sleeves you usually see tricycle drivers have on their arms to keep their skin from burning, leggings and cap. I’ve never been into an elegant conference room but I’ve been to beaches no tourists have ever set foot on, to islands and mountains that give us the most breathtaking views we never knew existed, to rivers with possibly the clearest and cleanest water. I do get to present reports, and sometimes hold seminars, but it is under a Mango tree where my audience are locals who are learning a new technology. And certainly it isn’t done in English.

i always say that my job is the best an engineer could get. I still attest to that. You do your designs and simulations, you coordinate with manufacturers, you characterize your prototypes’ parameters and you install them yourself on the field. The moment I mounted my antenna on a 16 meter high pole was for me like giving birth, or sending out my first born to preschool. It was a milestone a mother lives for, an achievement I’m sure most engineers crave for.

When you are in the field you get to live the life our countrymen live. You sleep where they sleep. You eat what they eat. You breath the salty air they breath. You take baths on wells they take theirs. You open yourself to experiences far from yours and you get amazed how diverse our cultures are even if we are just one race.

One lesson our friend from the island taught us is that in this kind of community you get what you give. You will be treated how you treat others. And it isn’t like in the city where we have the impression that no one can be trusted. It is true. Everyone smiles back, everyone offers a helping hand. They sure know how to treat people well.

When we do field works, time isn’t an issue. Eating isn’t an issue. Rain isn’t an issue. We start when the sun has just shown itself and ends when the moon and flashlights are our light. We eat only after the testing may that be having lunch at 4 in the afternoon. And the rain? Our caps do the work. We get things done. Well. That’s number one in the priority list. Even if it means only 6 people do the work meant for 30 men.

Others’ first impression is that it is okay for us to actually work our asses off because we get paid well. But the fact is that we know no bonuses, double pays, 13th month pays, no any form of benefits, no health cards, no over time pays even if you have your four year old hand-me-down laptop (from a previous government project staff) anywhere you go for 24/7. You even have to file, and sometimes pay, your own taxes. There are two good things about this though. One, you learn to save up by your own because nothing is expected to cover your shopping in Christmas season. :)) Two, you see for yourself what happens in government offices, how twisted some procedures are, how some efforts are actually being effective, and how much more there is to be improved. See being in a third world country, everything still has to be improved and it would dawn on you that you have to do something.

Being sent for overseas training, you do not only embody a company’s name, but your country’s. And you have all the pressure on your shoulder to prove to the world that your race is a race of intelligence, exceptional capabilities and competence. You impress the world not for yourself but for your countrymen who would soon enjoy the opportunities you should open for them.

We don’t work in an office. We work at a “home”. What we sometimes call our office in reality is a 5 x 5 m air-conditioned white room filled with lots of equipment, and people we consider as brothers and sisters. You work with people you share the same passion with and, in one way or another, treats you as family.

And oh, at first, we didn’t have insurance even if we need to cross the Pacific Ocean using a 15 seater boat, travel for 16 long hours through land, do mountain climb for 5 hours, mingle with sometimes we believe are “rebels”. My sister once told me she could never see my salary being big. And she asked me, “Is it worth it?”

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Oh yes it is. When you speak with our countrymen and they express how technology can introduce change in their lives by helping them contact rescuers from mainland after disasters to decrease harmful after effects, or giving them the chance to once in a while speak with their children who study in town, or by enabling students learn how to use computers and surf the internet, you’ll know it certainly is.

I do not entirely believe that technology is the answer for our country to fully stand on her feet, I believe harmony is. When every Filipino start prioritizing harmony over everything else we’ll all begin to live in a better land. But technology will take big part in spreading communication that promotes harmony.

What I learned most after fully accepting that I wont do any power dressing in my work ( :P) is that we, my team, were not placed in this job for no reason. We weren’t chosen randomly nor chosen blindly. We are nourished to become somebody.

I sure saw myself changing the world, I need not become a nun or a business tycoon nor a politician to do that. I just  need to start with myself and where I am right now. Being a research and field engineer means you let go of your personal comforts and go out there to cater for the needs of your countrymen.

I’m Going to Cali!

Months ago, I was offered an opportunity to work under a joint research project of California and my country. One major part of it is a training abroad just for a short period of time. Of course, I was hell excited.  Traveling for free? For my country? And just short time? Best opportunity ever!

The whole team was excited. We started including Katy Perry’s California Girls and Rihanna’s California King Bed in our office and field music playlists. We searched the states near the university and planned which ones to visit per weekend. I even looked for fashion styles for the season we will be visiting. Hihi!

We sure are thrilled. But I gotta say when the technical tasks to be accomplished were assigned, there, one bubble at a time, popping. I am not one of the smartest kids in town. I can say I am smart, but I know for a fact I’m no cream of the crop. A couple of times I reflected onto why I am in this job when only those who are real geniuses belong here.

And so I am digging why. Perhaps this trip would give me a cultural awareness, more people skills, confidence perhaps? Things that can me of use for my real purpose.

Earlier today I already received the invitation letter from one of the most prestigious universities in the US, well it’s safe to say, in the world. I will be under the mentorship of someone high profile in my field.

I am afraid, for real. But “my faith is on solid rock, I’m counting on God.” I’ll understand His plans in a few weeks. Be patient. I just have to be patient.

The iPad Saga

Last night we found an iPad on a chair in the park between the malls G4 and G5. Luckily it didn’t have any code and we managed to speak with the owner’s mom through Facebook. I gave my phone number since the iPad’s battery was running really low. And said we’d just wait for her call so that we can arrange how she can get it back.

A couple sat beside us and through the photos in FB we recognized the girl. My friend asked, “Are you **********? We found your iPad.” Unaware that it was even lost, she just got it back without saying a word.

Minutes after, an unknown number started calling my phone. Assuming it was the mom, I told her, “Your mom is calling. You tell her you have your iPad back.”

Wait. Di niya alam na nasa Makati ako.”

[“Wait, she doesn’t know I’m in Makati”]

(In her chat with her mom, she sent a pic of herself holding a Starbucks cup. She told her she was in Starbucks Taft when in fact I guess she was in Starbucks G5.)

And another ring.

Sabihin mo hindi iPad yung nawala. IPad Mini. Kanya (her boyfriend) yun. Nakilog-in lang ako sa FB.”

[“You tell her what you found was an iPad Mini, not an iPad. It’s his (her boyfriend’s) I just logged in using his device.” ]

“Uhmm. Kayo na lang mag-usap.”

“Uh, you just talk to her.” Then we walked away.

I called the mom and told her how I saw the iPad. I just made sure she already knew that her daughter got it back. She was so thankful she even called me an angel. 🙂

You, girl, you’re crazy. I need not enumerate the reasons why I was disappointed but I will.

1. Saying “Thank you” is one of the first things a human being learns.

2. No, you don’t! You don’t lie to your parents!

3. Be mindful of your belongings. Your parents worked hard for those.

4. Instead of thinking on how you can stop your mom from worrying, you were planning on how you can make her believe you weren’t irresponsible.

5. You wanted other people (your boyfriend) to be seen as careless when in fact it was you.

6. You don’t talk to older people like that. I know we are small ladies but it was plain obvious we are older.

7. Be polite to strangers. You don’t just give orders leading them to be bad people.

8. Don’t you involve me in your telling lies to your mom. I was raised to be an honest daughter. I sure know your mom tried to make you one, too.

Your mom was really nice. I hope you got her manners.

Be thankful I was told by God to not choose who I help.

Puzzle Solved!

My friends and I decided to have a date early today for our regular catching ups. The initial plan was to try the Breakout Manila, it is a bonding activity where the players would plan and solve puzzles as a team to be able to escape from “dangerous” rooms. Of course we were really excited as it is where we can practice our crazy critical thinking skills once more. Playing intellectual games was our thing way back college days. But due to our stinginess since the activity would hurt pockets of small groups like us, one of my friends recommended that we go instead to a specialty cafe her office mate owns. (She had discount coupons)

Its name is Puzzle.  The food was great. Delicious, really! The ambiance was homey. And the servers? They are amazing kids with autism.

I learned that one of the servers was the owner’s brother. He stopped going to school and his family decided to give him something to keep him busy. With his love of organizing things, his sister planned on putting up a convenience store where he could arrange the products on the shelves- by type, maybe by color, by size, any way he wanted. The idea later on evolved into being a cafe where two walls are shelves still with products, still arranged by the brother.

In my three hour stay in Puzzle, my tummy was filled, and so was my heart.

At first thought, people who knows the story behind the cafe would probably perceive that everything was planned and implemented for the brother- that he is lucky to have a sister who would cater and perhaps enhance his capabilities. Indeed he is lucky, but I realized, the both of them are.

They had found and had been fulfilling their purposes in life. Through each other, they were guided to the directions they would take in their lives. The brother’s condition led the sister to venture into a business that supports kids with autism, a noble deed. The sister’s compassion for her brother resulted in a much graceful heart that radiates to the people around him- to the chef, to the crews, to the customers, to the family

If life’s puzzle for their family would be solved through love, I’m certain they had put the pieces together even long before.

Purpose

Purpose.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my life. Being in my mid- 20s, I think I am in that point I should stop saying, “Oh in a few years I will be, I plan on being a, I would want to be” but rather face the fact that it is time for me to actually do such things. It is time for me to actually know my purpose.

I want to be a teacher, a life coach, an interior designer, a performer, a dancer, a writer, an artist. Andami ko nang ginustong maging na hindi naging ako.

I am 25, done earning my degree and my license a few years back, been serving my country as a professional helping out urban schools for two and a half years, been providing for my family, established a business and been helping my employees. When I do try to enumerate the things I’ve done so far over the last years I can say that, yes, I may have already done something.

But always, I know I haven’t done enough.

And always, I end up feeling empty. Especially when I get to see my boss at work (which actually takes up most of time), I can see that all he thinks of me is that incompetent lady who, instead of being a mediocre engineer, should have just pursued her other passions. I know how I sound like- insecure, inferior. This was what the university made me, instead of making me strong, I felt defeated. Learning one’s purpose is tricky. In some point in your life you are lead to a path, the next few years it appears you are lead to another. I thought my life’s purpose is to be an engineer, and so even though it was really difficult to be one, I stuck to it. Years after, it started to feel like poison.

But being a The Feast goer and God’s words listener, little by little I get to understand His plans.

“Be at peace with everyone.” And yourself not excluded. Forgive yourself. Forgive that young lady who decided the path you would be taking for the next 40 years of your life. And forgive her for not giving that path up even until now. Forgive that young lady who messed up big time in her academics, forgetting all her other passions and capabilities. Forgive that young lady who just went with the flow just because she was already too afraid to come up again with bad decisions. Give her a slack, be at peace with everyone, be at peace with her.

Validate. Never define your worth based on what one and only one person thinks of you. It is not your mom’s, your dad’s, your siblings’, your neighbors’, your relatives’ nor your boss’ job to make you discover your worth to the world. It isn’t self imposed either. Your worth is something that has to be worked on by you yourself. And the step is too simple. Always fill your heart with God’s love and let it overflow, then love others. Validate through God’s love. Then, then that’s when your meaning to the world will unfold itself.

It’s okay. When you didn’t get any sleep because you wanted to give your boss a significant report, when what you only ate for almost a week for dinner were bread and tuna to save up for your family’s needs, when you know you did all that you could possibly do, but in return what you got was the impression that you were never enough, it’s okay. When the whole world fails to acknowledge what you have done, and still points out that you are so far away from being good even, it’s okay.

Despite these heartbreaking harshness of reality, keep your heart whole.

Because even when no one seems to notice your hard work and sacrifices, He does. Even when you thought you couldn’t trust yourself anymore, He does. Even when it is hard to believe that there is still a better tomorrow, He does. Even when you found yourself hard to love, He does.

Keep your heart whole to receive His love.

Although I’m not getting any younger and I still have to figure out how exactly I would like to spend the rest of my life and discover my true purpose, I trust in Him. He will guide me to the best path for me to be able to give back to the world. May that be as a teacher, an artist or a life coach, He will lead me to that. As a human, I’m still scared, honestly. But through these years, He always assures me of His presence and I believe that though I may still be halfway to what I can still accomplish, for Him I am always already a champion.

Dear Granddad

I missed

the idea of you.

Growing up, it had me wondering

Who my father runs to when he fails to remember how to repair a faucet at home

Who he asks for advice when he knows no longer how to fix a fight with a wife

Who he sees as a model in raising a family and in facing life.

I wanted to know you.

But I can’t keep asking my father for more stories, like funny loving exciting and magical bedtime stories before I sleep beside my parents at the age of 25 for I don’t want to waste time not being with them, one trait I surely didn’t get from you. Because stories of you are never about fun love excitement or magic. So stories of you had been kept for so long, and when he finally speaks of you, his heart cries and forgives. In that one moment he uttered the word, “Dad”, it was a language alien to his own tongue and a familiar ache in his heart.

For a while I imagined

your hand giving him a thumbs-up telling him you were satisfied to have seen him doing well in life.

your hand tap his back telling him that whatever there is to face in life, he will be alright.

your hand raised as a sign of a promise

but went left right, left right, left right.

I can never believe that even in that small world I created in my mind, my father still gets goodbyes.

That in that imagination, your face is just a blur and your heart just so bare.

I do not know you.  I never had the chance to. But with all honesty Lolo I thank you.

I thank you because you not attending his high school graduation, and not to mention his wedding to my dear mom, he never misses a single birthday, a graduation, a holiday, a special occasion in my life.

I thank you because you showing that you have the liberty to be with another woman in your life, he loves my mother with all his heart, serves her well, treats her with respect.

I thank you because you leaving your family to “work” and coming back to my Lola when you were already sick, he too had the bravery to work away from his family for 16 years but went back without four children from another woman’s womb.

I thank you because you not showing him how a great father is like, I’m telling you, he learned how to be one.

The Last Five Times I Tried to Say Goodbye But I Couldn’t

“FIVE”

When I knew.
When I got that unanticipated message.
Memories came into me like wind that blew into my hair, my roots, my leaves as I walked home.
It almost crippled me, but I warmed myself.
I was certain that, just like it, it would pass.
And I just wanted to reply with, “Okay.”

“FOUR”
When I heard it.
When said right to my face.
You were leaving.
I looked at you with my indignant eyes.
Do not give up. Do not be silly.
You were tired. Who isn’t?
There was no reason to stay. Am I not?
But you’d made up your mind,
without batting an eye.
That I couldn’t do anything about it.
That you were happy to had come to that liberating decision.
That you actually felt glad upon having this opportunity.
I wanted to leave with a goodbye, with livid traces of the sharp misery.

“THREE”

When I begged.
When I asked for a few more days, a few more weeks, a few more love.
To show you that you weren’t the first to taste life’s hostility
And others devoured the challenge with a boundless fight.
Looking at you was what matters most in the world.
Looking at you seemed to be that one thing I was doing right.
Looking at you, I never thought, could suddenly be, at that moment, the most heartbreaking scene of my life.
But, still, let me look at you.
I couldn’t bid goodbye.

“TWO”
When I prayed.
When I uttered a plea of no words or voice.
I screamed, with silence, the hope of giving us relief of strength.
I whispered my resounding heartbeat trusting that whatever those rampant sounds desire He would be able to comprehend.
When one prays and cries at the same time, it was trusting that He would still listen.
And He would let me know that He decided what’s best.

I wanted you to stay,
yet I couldn’t keep you if it meant your body being crushed,
and your heart being unwilling,
for you had made it clear long before that you would do everything to be with the very person who holds your heart.
You had found your one great love, you said.
It hurt.
Like your eyes shutting no longer wanting to see me,
your head turning on the other side no longer wanting to rest on my shoulder,
your body freeing from my, I know still, warm embraces,
your hands slipping away from mine no longer yearning for my massages.
I lived each day knowing that you are that one person who would always care for me.
I lived a life knowing that whatever happens I got you.
But I looked at you as you walked away never to come back.
I tried to say goodbye and face the somber music.

“ONE”
When I…
When I…
I’m pleading God to finally give me this last “One”.
One time when I hear your name, see a picture of yours, remember your voice…
Or look at your grave,

I’d be able to say, with my sincerest and purest happiness, “Goodbye, Mama”.
Goodbye, Mama.

A Cry

My mom underwent an operation yesterday. Apparently gall stones formed in her organ and the doctors said they had to remove the whole thing. It was bloated already and wont be of any help to my mom’s body. There were 9 stones and we are waiting for the biopsy results of the gall bladder.

From where I am sitting now in this hospital room, I can hear my dad cough like hell. For sure he went back smoking. After stopping for a while since he had to undergo angioplasty a year ago and put 5 stents in his heart to able to live a couple more years. I thought he changed and gave up smoking, for his self and for his family. But clearly those coughs are results of that addiction. I’ve been telling myself to just be blind. Anger nor indifference wouldn’t be healthy.

Minutes ago I had to run out of the room. To gather myself together. After 5 days of no sleep, almost no eat, I finally found myself breaking down. I cant let my mom see me cry and be weak. She cant move on her own. She cant cough. She cant laugh. Every movement gives her indescribable pain.

This shall pass. I cant wait to see my mom be well again.

Help us, God.

I can really use some chocolates and fireworks right now.