A Time to Mourn

I am part Bicolana on my Mother’s side, so the devastation wrought by Typhoon Reming this previous week tugs at my heartstrings with a heavier pull.  I just finished reading the latest article on Philippine Star’s Online edition regarding the declaration of a state of national calamity and my eyes almost welled up with tears.  I’m seriously debating about whether or not I will include this article in Mom’s daily dose of news from home, because she might end up even more depressed than myself.

I had offered to have her watch the newsfeeds from GMA 7 yesterday but after a half hour, she stood up and decided to go and rest, saying the news was all the same and it wasn’t good.  She kept repeating over and over again, Kawawa naman ang mahihirap.  (Pity the poor people.)

My Mom hails from a far-flung part of Bicol called Bulan in the principality of Sorsogon.  While Legaspi City is around 14 hours away by car or an hour away by plane from Manila, from there, you have to drive another 4 hours or so to make it to my Mother’s hometown.  Although my last trip there was practically 15 years ago or so when my grandmother passed away, I have never lost touch with my roots.  In fact it’s ironic that I am now learning how to speak the dialect as my Mom and I have taken to conversing in her native tongue for privacy.

I tried watching the latest feeds and I just had to turn it off because it was too much heartbreak for a people already steeped in poverty.  I cannot imagine how their Christmas will be like this year — considering many have lost family members and those who survived have lost their possessions and the roof above their heads.

I’m grateful that Mom’s town was spared from the wrath of the typhoon so we know our relatives are safe.  Every year, my mom throws a small party for the children in her little barrio, Barangay San Vicente where my uncle is the barangay captain.  They feed them with some party fare like spaghetti and she gives away clothes she buys from her own money.  Just a simple outfit for the kids to wear to mass on Christmas morn.  At least those kids will have their Christmas day — those who survived the wrath of Reming will probably wish Christmas away.

top blogs 

Craft report: My Paris Scrapbook

I feel kind of weird that I’m doing the second scrapbook when the first has yet to see print.  (Okay, I’ll be printing them soon..)   Yet I don’t want to lose the moment and let it drag on like the first.  I made the mistake of attempting a purely paper scrapbook the first time which saw me redoing layouts over and over again.  This time, I’m going digital AND paper.

I wrote about how I gathered materials for the scrapbook during my trip at Pinay Francophile and I wrote a few tips on what to look for and what you can get to put in your memory book.  I have started sorting through the materials I brought home and have begun cutting the free tabloids into usable 12×12 pages.  Some, of course, are too small, but I have started trimming them to fit.

My target is to complete at least 5 layouts a week which is modest, considering I think I will finish 10 or thereabouts.  (That means 20 pages in all, since I do two-page layouts.) 

My pictures are waiting to be printed out — and I took them in a higher resolution this time around since I was using Alan’s camera.  (I couldn’t find my USB cable and my camera uses a unique one unlike Alan’s.)   I foresee that there will be a lot of photographs being used as 12×24 spreads.  I wanted to do that more in the first scrapbook but could not because I had reduced picture size for those where I was just taking scenery and neither Alan and I were in it.  This time around, I didn’t dare scrimp.  The result is a much better set of pictures.

I’m going to be making the embellishments as I go along and will  hopefully have something presentable in four weeks’ time, although I doubt I will be done with all the pictures by then.  At least I’m off to a good start.

Book release in Paris

I had been carrying Mitch Albom’s FOR ONE MORE DAY in my backpack since I arrived but I could not find a suitable place to release it in. I was thinking of doing it at the Starbucks over at the Opera area, but I didn’t get the chance to return after 2 visits.

On Monday evening on my way back to the hotel on Champs Elysees from Chartres, I exited the Charles de Gaulle-Etoile Station and found a majestic Arc D’Triomphe standing — what else — triumphantly! (Pun intended..LOL)

So I started taking pictures and found a good spot to rest the camera on so I could use the timer function. In between shots, a young woman approached me and offered to take my picture. She even crouched down on her knee to get a good angle. When she turned to leave, I asked her if she was a tourist, too, and she told me she and her husband were from Peru. I asked her if she like to read and handed her the book. My release might yet make it to Peru. I hope she decided to release the book out into the wild again, although I wouldn’t be surprised if she decides to keep the book instead. It is, after all, a keeper.

He said.. she said.. A REJOINDER

Not too long ago, I wrote two posts essentially telling Alan’s and my love story, then giving a word of advice to a friend who asked us how we “knew” our relationship was for real.

After giving our two cents worth, I found myself shut out for having spoken my mind, which led me to write an unrelated piece but which was nevertheless spurred by that consequence delving on friendship.  Before I go any further, I want to emphasize the fact that I had written my opinion based on my experience.  The question, after all, was about how it had been for Alan and I.

One aspect of our courtship I purposely didn’t write about then was how our initial meeting went.  Until I went to the airport to meet him that Thanksgiving weekend in 1999, we hadn’t see each other beyond the pictures we exchanged via e-mail and in letters, and we only had our hours on the phone and countless correspondence via the web and regular post.  (By the time I arrived in June, we had 2 shoeboxes full of letters and cards, not counting the emails we exchanged.)

He emerged from the arrival area and I bussed him on the cheek.  It took us two hours to adjust because it was just differenting being face to face after weeks of being 10,000 miles apart.  We sat at the back of the car from the airport to the hotel, and while we were talking as we had on the phone, he actually couldn’t look me in the eye.

The ice finally broke when we got to the hotel.  From there, we constantly held hands and were very affectionate wherever we went.  When I saw him off at the airport, we both cried.  When we parted, we had not made plans to get married.  That was what I wanted deep in my heart but I understood his caution.  He had been burned more times than I had my heart broken, and I didn’t want to force the situation.

But as he told me on the phone soon after he arrived back in New York, he realized that he couldn’t bear to be without me so he started the processing of my fiancee petition.

To introduce my parents to the idea that I had a boyfrirend, I told him to send my sister flowers for her birthday after Christmas.  On New Year’s Day, I told my Mom and Dad separately that my boyfriend was coming home to ask for my hand in marraige in February.  The funny thing was, it didn’t quite sink in until Alan actually returned in Feb 2000.  The pamanhikan, though, deserves a separate post altogether. 

We had walked into each other’s lives, met in person, decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other and realized we wanted to grow old together and got married, all within a year.  How did we know it was worth taking the chance?  We didn’t.. but we could see ourselves turning old and grey with each other, and to us, that was a good start.  Being face to face didn’t change the special feeling we felt before when we were still apart — in fact, it only served to strengthen the feeling. 

I just heard from my friend that she and her boyfriend finally met, and sadly, there were no sparks.  The much-awaited meeting fell flat, and I know that both of them are disappointed and at least one of them is broken hearted.

I have no doubt that they both believed what they felt was real, but now it seems that their expectations and reality failed to meet on a common plane.  I still say they never went beyond the “kilig”  factor, but not just because the guy didn’t come home to meet her in her natural environment (I later learned from another source he offered her a ticket to meet him), but because now I see that the lack of actual physical chemistry negated what they believed was true love.  My premise is that you will see the real person behind the persona even without physically beholding it if you succeed in making a deep enough emotional connection and really truly fall in love.

So what if Alan was actually shorter than I pictured him to be — maybe it was also because I was wearing heels when we met.  All I could think of was how good it felt to have him holding my hand even if he couldn’t look me in the eye as we spoke those for two hours.  Later, he told me he thought I was over made up — too colorful as he teased me — which, I admit, is a tendency of mine when I am nervous about a date or event.  And although it was a great disappointment that he did not propose marraige, I had to keep reminding myself we both have to rethink this now that we finally hugged, kissed and held each other.  The thing was, no matter how some expectations fell short, the feeling remained and even grew stronger because we finally met.

I guess we were lucky to have found true love despite the distance and our circumstances.  To Alan’s credit, he really moved heaven and earth to find out if what we had was for real by deciding to fly home end-November, despite an earlier vacation to Manila in the same year.  He also had to make do with what was available on an undiscounted fare.  Contrary to what may be viewed as impulsiveness by some, it was a carefully thought our decision about something he had to do to know if this was indeed for real.

We met on our terms without external pressure from our friends or family.  Had we discovered that this was not what we thought it was, the disappointment would’ve been confined to just the two of us.  When Alan arrived for that weeklong visit, he didn’t see any other family except for his mentor/friend, Pat — and that was that.  The visit was all about just him and me.  Looking back now, the fact that no decisions were made when we parted the first time helped us to think things through.  If either one of us felt differently, we could back away and move on.

Again, we say we were lucky.  We met with our hopes and expectations hanging on our sleeves, but our love saw us through.  And it is that love that continues to see us through each passing day.

I just hate that being a truthful friend gets me shut out.  I was mistaken to keep speaking out of concern, I should’ve known better.  So now it’s a choice between speaking my mind out as a friend or just keeping my piece to myself and stay in he so-called “Circle of Trust”.  I find a deep sadness creeping up on me but it’s beyond me now.  I guess, like in any relationships, honesty is a risk we take.