Friday, January 28, 2005

the Miracle of Love

rewatching "the notebook" for the third time never ceases to give me such a glimmer of hope that love can conquer all. allie at the end asks, "do you think that our love can perform miracles?" noah says, "it can and it has. it's what brings you back to me everytime." allie then says, "do you think our love can take us away together?" noah pauses and says, "i think it can do what we want it to do."

this love story is so inspiring that it is worth re-telling as much as re-watching the movie or re-reading the book, as the case may be. it tells of two young lovers who meet in the summer of 1940. star-crossed as they may be, they came together despite their daring first meeting. noah pursues allie and they fall in love that summer. but circumstances drove them apart and hurtful words were said during the breakup before summer’s end. both didn't mean what they said and both bled from the thought of being apart.

noah wrote allie 365 letters, one for each day. allie's mother had intervened and allie didn't get a single letter.

seven years passed...including the second world war. allie and noah had led separate lives until one day "fate stepped in" and let their paths cross again.

as allie was trying on her wedding dress, her guests marveled at her beauty and at her wedding announcement in the newspaper. unfolding it only revealed the bottom half which held allie's heart - a picture of noah beside his dream house, the house where they were supposed to show their expressions of love. upon seeing noah in the picture, she fainted and the following days found her saying goodbye to her fiance and taking a break.

she goes back to noah with jittery hands and talks of yester years. "what we had was real" she recounts. and noah never wanting her to leave his side again, did his best to keep her beside him.

after all was said and done, allie's fiance comes to seabrook where the love-struck couple were. allie chooses her fiancé, lon, but he let her go.

then the story ends in a happy ever after...noah stayed with allie all her life enduring even the alzheimer's disease which made her forget him and their family. but love always brought her back to him. and even in death, they held each other's hand.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The long journey home…

It’s been a week since I got back from my trip home. This last trip had opened my eyes to many things and had been cathartic to some effect.

I was welcomed by pollution and great heat when I stepped off the airport. I had waited for more than half an hour for my brother to pick me up. And when he did, we were met with traffic on the highway. I had returned and the reality of my homeland hit me like a violent storm.

But as the storm subsides, so did my expected bewilderment. I had come home and I had felt happy being there. No amount of traffic ever stopped me from going to one of my lunches or my dinners or any parties for that matter. I was content with riding the overflowing, often sardine-like-packed, metro rail to get to my appointments.

No amount of heat or the lack of hot running water prevented me from taking my daily bath. I was home and I was among my friends once again. I had missed my friends. I had missed the often cyclical discussions that touched on politics, economics, and whatever topic that presented itself.

I went home to the province of my mother to celebrate my grandfather’s 80th birthday. No less than the whole town showed up for the Grand Family Reunion. Life is simple in the barrio, but Ligao has now become a city in the province of Albay. I still don’t get why the residents laugh every time they say “Ligao City.” Perhaps, it’s because it doesn’t look like a city yet bereft of the standard fast food chains brought on by the “big city” phenomenon. There were no McDonald’s or Jollibees in sight. There was, however, a great Christmas tree which rose some 30 meters and twinkled with its light-ridden body in the town, sorry, city hall. I was told that same tree was featured in a national daily.

There was abundance in food and there were many relatives to meet. But time was short. It was a whirlwind event. I came out only with a picture of the famous Mayon Volcano when it actually showed itself, cloudless and majestic.

As I spent the rest of my holiday in Manila, I began to wonder at the general festive mood of the people. I have been living abroad for almost half of my life, going home once or twice and staying only a few years. I have never seen such a happy place such as the Philippines. No where else have I seen where people strive so much to be happy in the many faces of adversity. Even in the face of death or ultimate survival, a Filipino manages to smile and make a joke of his/her situation.

Most Filipinos go abroad in search of the greener pasture that the tropical islands cannot provide for them. But even when financial insolvency is in the offing, a Filipino manages to survive with the little or no money he has. It is called, “diskarte.” I don’t know the exact translation but it means “dealing with a situation in the best possible way and to make it to your advantage.” There are about 80 million Filipinos that survive each day.

I worked in government before. During lunchtime, I find one of our clerks offering me insurance, a cemetery plot and milkfish. Filipinos are multi-taskers as well as great businessmen. There is a great skill for survival. She is also paying for a low-cost government housing that results in a salary not even the equivalent of $10 as take home pay. She’s raising an adopted son on top of that. Yet, she survives. I am amazed that she is not willing to give up given her circumstances. I am always inspired to hear her story.

I admire so many Filipinos which have taken their plight and grabbed it by the horns and made a real life, and livable at that, for themselves.

I realized that I had been so happy living there before but that I had always been afraid to stay for fear that I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t possess the qualities that would make each Filipino great – success-driven, extreme industriousness and passion for living and pursuing what one wants. I had been afraid to go out and look for a private sector job because I thought I wasn’t good enough. I took a government job because it had been in my line of work and it offered me the greatest training in relation to my college degree. I am a journalist and I became an information officer. The pay was low but it gave me great exposure and an inside look on how it is to be in the press corps and as a media practitioner. But the people were not too great. Inherent in government are the bureaucratic stereotypes, the hierarchical considerations, the power struggle, etc. It’s also present everywhere but just more pronounced in government.

It had given me a lot and had given me good experiences. But I wanted more money. I wanted to be able to buy the things I wanted (note: not what I necessarily needed). So, I thought I’d go abroad in search of the greener pasture. But I was only met by unhappiness and discontent. I met mostly cold people who didn’t care. But I was blessed to have met some nice ones too.

I don’t know why I keep leaving the country but this time I am looking forward to going home for good. I want to live as a Filipino in the Philippines.

I want to see what life has in store for me there and to see how I can fare. These are wants but I hope that God will show the way to meet what I need. Discernment is always key.

The more I leave the Philippines, the stronger the drive to stay in the country. I hope that each Filipino will realize how wonderfully blessed we are to be a citizen of this country and to do our best to make it a livable place.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Silent call

(October 21, 2003, Philippines)

it was a silent call
i heard in the wilderness
that called me back
to where civilization resided

i was lost in the thick of bushes
in the darkness of the giant trees looming
i had been two nights in the place forlorn
no hope of rescue with passing dawns

i strayed into the godless place
while my heart weighs
the heavy world surrounding
escape i dared find but lost i was
in the wilderness tonight

but i heard a silent call
a faint hope of light
that my darkness be brightened
and out of the the wilderness i might
be free tonight