Early morning musings

I started my day rather early today with a missed call at 4:30am.  The number was not ID’ing, so I texted my siblings back home in case someone was calling me from a phonecard.  I imagine it must’ve been a wrong number, because it turns out, none of them were calling.  I tried going back to sleep with no luck.

I went about my morning as usual and ended up at the bus stop rather early, and earlier still in Manhattan.  Since I am not about to go running for “Employee of the Year” by heading up earlier than my 8:30am clock in, I thought I’d sit a few minutes in the park and just watch Manhattan glowing in the sunrise.

I love Bryant Park during this time of the day when there is almost no one there to disturb the hundred of chairs that dot its periphery.  There is a solemnity to the whole thing when you view the park sans its usual crowd.  I picked a table and I sat.

Forget that the wind was freezing.  Our temperatures had plunged again today, requiring layering once again.  (Just when we thought we could put the winter gear away..!)  I just wanted to feel the wind in my face and keep quiet.  Sit still.  I snapped a few shots with the blackberry.  My camera was in my bag but I was lazy to take it out and snap away.  I wasn’t really here for the pictures — I just wanted to enjoy the park.

Akin to smelling the flowers as we are often admonished to do, sometimes you just have to stop a while and take in the view and get lost in it.

I was edgy in the morning because the subsequent meeting after I left was taking place.  I got the text message while on the bus to work that the deal had been sealed, and we had settled on an agreement to be reduced into writing by the parties by the end of the coming month.  I couldn’t help but cry when I read the message and texted my sister back, “Thank God.”  Literally, thank God.  The trip and the meetings and all the prayers worked after all.

So I sat in the park and said a quiet “Thank you, Lord.”  I looked around me, I took a deep breath and knew He had me in the palm of His hand.. and I lifted it all up to Him.

Divisoria and Quiapo, anyone?

I started writing this post originally on March 18, 2012

It was a real adventure for me as I returned to a familiar place which is now so different and still the same.  I decided to take the jeepney like I used to, hailing one right at the corner of our street.  I was the only passenger at the beginning of the ride.  I didn’t know how much the fare was so I handed the driver a P50.00 bill and he returned a change of P30 something.  P14 apparently.  I had brought my old camera and snapped a few pics for the length of the trip covering San Juan, as I thought it was more prudent to keep it in my tote the rest of the ride.

The day was pleasantly warm and traffic was still good as I left the house early enough in the morning.  I couldn’t help but remember someone promising to drive me, but that was a while back.  I sat at the end of the row, by the “estribo”.  It has been ages since I rode the jeepney for any length of time.  If my brother os some other friend wasn’t driving me, I always took the cab.

It felt liberating and good and it made me feel nostalgic, bringing me home as in “home”.  I had taken this route many times almost 27 years ago when I had gone back and forth and up and down the streets of Tabora and Ylaya way back when I had gone into crafting hand-made ribbon hair accessories.  I did the jeepney route both ways back then.

Today was a lot different in that the landscape in that part of Manila has changed drastically.  You now have Tutuban Mall (which used to be a major train station) and 168.  I knew what I needed so I headed straight in.

I’ve always been proud of the fact that I can walk blindfolded into Divisoria and find my way out.  Through the years, I’ve gone in through Abad Santos at the back by car, via jeep, via taxi and pedicab.  I know the way the streets were mapped so well that I could determine which side I was on just by seeing which street came before which.  I know where to find the tapioca (sago) and the spices and condiments, as well as the towels and white sandos we used to wear under our Paulinian uniforms.

Divisoria is like any wet market in any town — the streets are grimy and slippery, stagnant mud in the street smell, and you see the different wares spread out in the streets.  People sleep and live where they do their business.  I would have loved to have taken out my camera, but I felt that would’ve been intrusive.  To just snap away would have meant invading their home, their world.  So I went about my business instead and left the cam in the tote.

I try to dress as nondescriptly although it is sometimes difficult to stay inconspicuous despite the t-shirt and cropped pants and lipstick only get up.  I don’t even wear any jewelry or accessories.  I somehow feel like I stick out like a sore thumb in the crowd but I try to blend in as best as I can.  So I walked towards Tabora where the main wares sold were notions.  Wellmanson’s was closed but Morning Glory was open.  I walked in and loved that the airconditioner was on full blast.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything interesting to buy.  I looked for a building with a clearly lit alleyway and walked in.

Most of the stalls between Ilaya and Tabora sell textiles and ready made formal wear.  I chanced upon a roll of canvas and picked up two meters.  The sales clerk asked me if I painted — I told him I was going to use it for jet ink printing.  (Yet another experiment.)  You have to be patient and navigate the alleys indoors, keeping in mind that most of the alleys are constructed in grids, and if you keep your head about you, you can head forward and find yourself out in the succeeding street.  So out I went into Ilaya.  I came out through the alley leading to the cotton textiles and saw some Angry Birds which I thought would make great pillowcases for Angelo.  Two yards each please.

Deep into Ilaya is a native supplies alley where I pick up wooden beads and assorted paper and handicraft supplies.  I wasn’t too keen about buying beads here, reserving my budget for that for when I hit Quiapo, so I simply picked up some round, oval and square coconut discs I am hoping to use  polymer clay on.  On the way back, I found a notions store and bought two metal crochet hooks, not really planning on buying any thread at this point.

I lugged my loot down to the nearest Chow King where I had a breakfast of buchi (sesame balls) which continues to appall me for being so outrageously expensive but which I just truly love!  The sesame balls here at my New York Mart, one of the bigger Asian groceries in my area are twice as large yet cost as much but don’t taste quite as good.  After breakfast, I walked back to the main street where a jeep for Quiapo happened to be slowly cruising by picking up passengers, and I jumped on as it was slowly moving forward.  (Yes, I can still do that despite my age and girth and the plastic bags with loot in tow.)

Next stop was Quiapo.  The jeep turned around two blocks from Quiapo Church.  The last time I was here two trips back, Abril had driven me over and we parked in Isetann then we took a pedicab to Church.  This time, I walked.  I stopped by the church first to pray.  I am not a Nazarene devotee like Abril and how Papa was when he was still alive, but I have always been moved by the faith of the people who worship here.  And any church of Christ is a place of prayer for me where I can just stand in one corner, close my eyes and just be.

I didn’t stay long.  I walked out to Villalobos street and headed for my two favorite stores:  Pot of Gold on the left and Wellmanson’s on the right.  There are a smattering of other stores in the area that I visited but which I wasn’t able to note the names of, but there is now more variety in this row of streets with a more diverse offering of gemstones and findings.

Pricing and product offerings can be confusing to the uninitiated, so it pays to know what you need and want when you walk into the stores, otherwise you will get overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed can mean grabbing more things than what you actually need which translates to going over budget, or just being paralyzed into not grabbing anything at all.  I knew what I needed — just a few findings from Wellmanson’s, some pliers, and their handy bead organizer.  I was going to help Ces make a full length rosary, so I picked up a suitable crucific and center joiner, but their silver plated headpins were not shiny enough.  I decided to pick the headpins from the store across the street.  I walked over to Pot of Gold where I got the right sized glass crystals and some dyed agate beads.  I went to two more stores on this side and picked up more beads and findings before deciding I was done.

I wasn’t able to head to either Divisoria nor Quiapo last December for lack of the opportunity to go there — since the family stayed in Pasay at one of the hotels there.  Besides, Christmas would’ve been a crazy time to brave the crowds doing their own holiday shopping.  I had made up my mind I would make sure to stop by this time around.  You just can’t beat the prices here — and while my crafting has been put on hold since I got back from Manila over the holidays, I had to take something home.  So when my brother Abril couldn’t take me, I vowed I would go on my own before the weekend was over.

I wasn’t about to take another jeepney ride with everything I was lugging, so I hailed a cab and took the easier way home.  When I got inside the house with everything I was holding, my siblings and my mom were aghast to find out I had gone to Divisoria and Quiapo unaccompanied.  (I told you they think I’m a walking target for every snatcher and other thug in those parts.)  But I managed to accomplish what I had set out to do in record time and all in one morning.  We had lunch and I retreated back upstairs.

I was exhausted by the time I brought everything up to the room.  Jetlag eventually caught up with me.  I skipped dinner and by the time I woke up, it was midnight.  Time to get ready for the sojourn North to a place I had visited many times through the years — where I prayed and my prayers were answered.

Back to New York

Written while on the plane, March 21, 2012

I’m finally on my way back to New York after two weeks in Manila.  It’s pitch black outside.  7ish in the morning in New York.  My boy is getting ready to go to school.  I told him when he wakes up, I will be there with him.  I miss him so much I can’t wait to show him I brought home some of his favorite pandesal.  (Actually had to stop for it on the way to the airport this morning.)

I am exhausted, physically and emotionally, after two weeks in Manila.  There are meetings that just sap you of your energy, and two meetings with the creditors did just that.  I left with no solution on paper yet, but we got as close to one as we could get.  I feel like I did accomplish what I had come home for.

My mom has grown older again.  Not just age-wise, but I could see it in her eyes.  She still smiles, but she looks weary.  I’m glad I was able to come home to help.  My siblings, I know, were more than relieved.  They have been waging this battle for so long they left all the negotiating to me.  I couldn’t blame them.  It is indeed a wearying task – one that can really knock you out, but one which you do not have the luxury to quit from.  You get knocked down, you just get up.

But we got up.. we negotiated.. we’re getting there.

What a simple phone call can do

There are times when we want to be “there” for someone but cannot be there for one reason or another.  There are just instances when try as we might, we cannot accommodate a friend’s urgent request.  We try to accommodate but cannot, and on the other side, we try to understand.  Then there comes that one break where we are able to call, and that call makes all the difference.

I got such a call today which brought a flood of emotions out when it came.  It was both a relief and a semi-missed opportunity to reconnect and ask the questions I had meant to ask.  I somehow got caught between that feeling of being caught in the warm embrace of a friend and being shrugged off by someone you had meant to be one of the people you would find yourself running to in times of need.  But sometimes expectations and reality don’t meet.  That’s a lesson I learned the hard way the last couple of weeks.

I asked and I received.  Sometimes they say that the worst thing that could happen is that you be ignored or that you get a “no”.  Today, I got a “yes”.  Not quite the “yes” I wanted, but a yes nonetheless.

I am still kind of at a loss but grateful nonetheless.  I am trying not to expect anything beyond this gesture of kindness.  I have barely 36 hours left in Manila and I am hoping that I will find more gestures of kindness coming my way.

Tomorrow, perhaps.

Getting Ready for the Journey back to New York

I know I’ve been writing in stops and starts but I’m getting to that point where everything is being lumped together now as my trip begins to wind down.  I am getting ready to pack the bags and make a mental list of what else I need to get.  At this point, I’ve reached out to everyone I need to see and have wrapped up all the pending meetings.  I guess the others will just have to wait until the next trip.

For once I cannot wait to get on the plane taking me back to New York, but I have two or three things still pending here at home.  I am hoping everything gets settled by tonight so I can wrap up tomorrow and head home feeling I have accomplished what I came here for.  In many respects, I know I have.  Whatever I failed to do or didn’t quite finish, I know I gave it my best shot.

So today I have a possible meeting tonight hanging over my head — otherwise, it’s just getting things together for the trip home.  Going to grab some groceries this morning, meet up with some friends midday and in the afternoon, and then the meeting (if it happens) or a dinner with friends (if it doesn’t).  This is the bittersweet thing about leaving after any visit here in New York — it’s trying to make the most of everything I’m leaving yet again for the nth time.

Getting there…

Early Saturday on my last weekend in Manila

I normally would be wanting to extend my vacation by now, counting four days left in Manila before I board the plane going back to New York on Wednesday, but this time around I find myself wishing I could hop on a plane sooner than my departure date so I can go home.  Not happening, though.  I am still counting on one more business meeting on Monday — possibly — and it’s getting a little more difficult remaining optimistic about that but I am trying.

I am trying to plan my day today which I hope to start in a half hour with a sojourn by jeep to Divisoria, then hopping on a cab to Quiapo.  (Ambitious, I know!)  I had tried to get to Quiapo yesterday with no luck.  So I figure the stores will be open today, so it should be worth the try.  I need to start getting ready to go.  I might have to go on the sly as my siblings tend to think of me as a walking target for the unscrupulous whenever I mention going to anywhere via the regular people’s route: Commuting by jeepney.  I have my outfit all set, I’ll be packing a nondescript bag, and I’ll be apportioning my money in places where they won’t get taken all at the same time.

I’m even leaving my US Blackberry just to make sure, lugging only my local reliable Globe SIM BB instead.

Let me get going and I’ll try and post something here again soon.

I do hate the thought of leaving Manila again, but this is one of those trips that make me long to be with Angelo sooner.  Time to move on..

When things go wrong as they sometimes will

Rudyard Kipling.  One of his masterpieces, the poem “IF” begins with the phrase above which was the only phrase that came to mind as I woke up this morning to more messages about my son in New York.

For two straight days, he has suffered a headache and had thrown up at lunch time.  The first time it happened, we were thinking he just didn’t have enough to eat, or that the food he ate from the school cafeteria was bad.  Then this happened again today, and his Dad went home and secured an appointment with our pediatrician.  I got through to them on their way home from the doctor’s office to dinner, and I was told the pediatrician suspects it’s an ear infection and he was being given medication.  While my fears have been calmed a bit, I am still in a state of worry because I am 10,000 miles away and I am worried about the thousand other possibilities about  his illness.  Now I hate myself for asking “What else can go wrong?” because I am getting hit where I am weakest — where my son is involved.

I am almost tempted to try and get on the first plane out but I know that is over-reacting.  My airline has a few flights leaving daily and I was thinking of trying to get on one tomorrow or the day after.   Then again I have to remind myself we are hoping to get something major accomplished yet and to leave now would defeat the very purpose of what this trip was about in the first place.

I couldn’t hold back the tears in that momentary feeling of defeat yet again when I suddenly got overwhelmed by all the things that have been happening.  I have a 7:30am appointment with another dear friend, Reggie, who is meeting me after his call center shift.   I was thinking of cancelling but thought twice about it.  Better to go see those who have gone out of their way to see me rather than those I have sought out but have taken so much pains to avoid me.  And I have to remind myself of all the blessings I have received via all these people who have showered me with their love and reminders that all will be well in time.  I need a friend’s warm embrace and laughter more than ever now.

So many have written that they are praying for me.  Another message from above.  Even as I feel downed by new doubts creeping into my heart, I keep hearing the heavens speaking to me through people I didn’t even know stopped by and read my words here.

Last night, before jetlag dragged me to la-la land, I saw this heartwarming comment from Cindy who had stopped by via my Art Journal Everyday attempts at self expression:

Cindy wrote in response to “A Day of Prayer” below:  thank you for taking me on this journey with you! i am a brand new reader having clicked on a pinterest post of one of your beautiful journal posts. it’s 4am and i laughed at how God can work in our lives. i have been feeling a pull to go back to Mass (rather than the church from a different denomination i have been attending) so last nite my art journal was “give me a sign” mmm then i stumbled into your world and read this post (which of course led me to read some past posts and the art journal every day) and my heart is smiling. so my heart thanks you! and know i will be praying for you today :) cindy

To which the Pinay New Yorker says: Thank you, Cindy… your comment did more for me than what my words did for you.  I am so overwhelmed by all the love and words of encouragement that continue to pour in, and I am truly amazed how what I am writing has brought out strangers who are no longer strangers to my struggle, and who make me feel that He is talking to me from above.

I am humbled.  I am driven to tears knowing Someone up there is listening to me and He is letting all of you show me that He is indeed there, even when I feel abandoned and lost.  Thank you once again.

I started this blogpost after wiping tears from my eyes, as I thought about Angelo and how I so wish I could hug him right now.  I take another deep breath — I know God will take care of him.  And I open my eyes and know that He is taking care of me, too.

A Day of Prayer

5:30am:

Morning prayers —

wherever they may find you,

on my end, I pray

that you have a good day

and that you find enlightenment always.

That He keep you safe and happy.

I had been drafting this blogpost many times over in my head yesterday, but my Wednesday ended with jetlag catching up with me again around dinnertime when I had come back to San Juan finally.  I skipped the meal since I had an early dinner/merienda with my dear friend Ces at good old reliable Max’s Fried Chicken at Robinson’s and had dozed off, waking up closer to midnight when all the lights were out and I was the only one up.  I managed to log on and post although not here, in another blog, and work intervened as always.  (Took back yet another half day as I was still e-mailing work related matters up to 6am Manila time!)

I left the house with only two things on my schedule — dropping off some padala and going to Baclaran church to pray, I was going to play the rest of the day by ear.  I had gone with my sister, Offie, who was on her way to Makati anyway, and after getting off at Greenbelt I, we walked together to the Greenbelt chapel so she could request for a mass to be said.

Greenbelt Church

I haven’t been here in ages although I’ve always stopped in Makati every trip home, save for that two week stretch when I went home to take care of Dad in the hospital.  I sat at the back pew and just “listened”.  There were too many things I wanted to ask from heaven that I didn’t know quite where to begin.  So I purposely just sat, and prayed in silence.  Prayer, after all, isn’t always about us just doing the talking — prayer, I have been taught, is also us listening to what He has to say.  And in the midst of all the turmoil in our hearts, sometimes the most calming is when we just lift it all up in one big package and just “be”.

This Church has been a place of prayer for me the many years I spent around Makati — from being a law student to being one of its working denizens before I moved to the big apple.  I have prayed here with friends and family.  Memories of those times I prayed here still come even as I walk past the church — but now that I sat in it and was actually praying, not just looking, tears came to my eyes as I remembered.  It felt good to be back.. it felt like home.

Prayer moves me in different ways these days.. maybe it’s because of all the things going on in my mind and heart.  It helps anchor me to keep hope and optimism in my heart, no matter what.  No matter how dark my thoughts may get, I keep clinging to the smallest iota of the possibility that my prayer will be answered in the way I wish it to be.

I got on a cab and dropped off a bag.  I knew the person I needed to see wouldn’t be there, so I hied off and went to my next destination.  I headed for Baclaran Church.

My mother taught me about Baclaran early on when she asked me to tag along with her on Wednesdays when there was no school.  I learned the songs and recited the prayers in rote fashion per the novena booklet she always lent me.  I’d sit in the pew waiting for her to finish walking on her knees from the doorway to the altar, something I would find doing myself many years later for my own personal pain and intentions.  By the time that it was my turn to pray the novena for my own intentions, I would either have the driver bring me over, commute from work myself, or much later, go and meet up with Fe who is a devotee herself.

I went through the motions of actually writing petition letters, too, and I can actually say that most times, my prayers were granted even before my 9 Wednesdays were up, converting my novena request to a novena of Thanksgiving midway.  When I moved to the US, I had my novena booklet handy and continued to pray even if I no longer had a shrine to go to.  It’s just that I haven’t prayed the novena in a while.

This Wednesday, I started anew.  I got off the cab and walked into the church, finding many vacant pews because I caught the midday break between novena masses.  I took my seat and started to pray.  Even before the novena proper had started and I just sat there, I felt a knot forming in my stomach and the tears starting to well up.  It was a struggle to keep my composure through the prayers and the hymns, but I managed to pull through.  The multitude of people praying together and singing together was a miracle happening in the now that touches me in a very profound way each time.

I looked around and saw the different faces of faith and devotion.  There were young and old alike, couples, families with the mothers and fathers carrying their babies and toddlers, a father cradling a his son afflicted with hydrocephalus.  I suddenly felt like my petitions would probably get lost in this sea of pleas.  At the same time, I wondered what their hearts were praying for — and I had to remind myself everything had to be put into their proper perspective, as what might not be a problem to me might mean life or death for another.  My pains would probably pale in comparison to some of the burdens they carry.  Then I got reminded that He hears, and He listens — He answers in ways that are sometimes in a voice different from what we hear, but He answers our prayers.

It was emotionally heavy but I felt relieved after the novena — as if I had unburdened my soul.  Although the pain remained, I felt like I was carrying it with someone holding my hand.  I know He heard.  Whatever has happened and is happening, it has happened and is happening for a reason.  It’s not always easy to discern the reason behind all that we see or feel.  It’s a matter of trusting in him.

Lou says, IF YOU ASK YOUR PRAYERS WILL BE ANSWERED.  

Shay assured me, … YOU HAVE ALWAYS PUT GOD FIRST, SO EVERYTHING WOULD FALL INTO PLACE IN HIS TIME.”

Bernie suddenly popped up and said “GOD BROUGH YOU TO MIND TODAY… WHEN I THOUGHT OF VISITING YOUR BLOG.  I WILL BE PRAYING FOR YOU AND WILL OFFER MY ROSARY FOR YOU TODAY.  TAKE CARE!!! GOD WILL DEFINITELY SEE YOU THROUGH! “

My day of prayer didn’t end there, though.  I had scheduled my dear friend, Ces, the one with that “direct line to heaven” for the afternoon into evening.  Ces has been a dear, dear friend since high school.  One of those older sister types who stay your forever “Ate” through the years.  I have always looked to her as a spiritual adviser and a friend.  Strangely, she denies the direct line because she says everyone has one to God.   That’s Ces, ever humble.

I have been blessed with such great people in my life, that I have felt only acceptance and love even during my weakest moments.  When others would condemn my thoughts or actions and think I have done wrong, Ces will listen and dish out advice without a shred of judgment.  I told her I know I’m given only as much as I can handle, she says she prays for the reverse, that she be not given what she cannot.  I want to imbibe her complete faith and trust that God will be there, because sometimes, I cannot help but wonder.  Friends like Ces, and Lou, Bernie and Shay remind me that He is and will always be.

Waking before sunrise to a message from up above

I stirred at a few minutes before 3AM Manila time on Wednesday, realizing my cellphone did not ring when I had expected it to just before midnight here and noon in New York.  Angelo’s coming home midday as it’s Parent-Teacher Conference day in New York today.  So I stood up, freshened up and then dialed via ever reliable SKYPE.

I miss my boy.  I would have taken him with me if I had the budget and if he weren’t going through the prerequisites of First Communion like First Penance.  Besides, it’s not like two weeks is not going to set him back academically, and I don’t want to chance that on a whim.

I had not intended to doze off but my eyes were heavy with sleep when I set up the laptop and lay down beside it, cellphone on hand so I can hear it when Angelo does a missed call.  But I guess I was tired and totally out of energy after a most draining meeting with the people I was supposed to talk to on my family’s behalf tonight.

I tried to keep reminding myself I should stay positive as I tried to block out all the thoughts and feelings that have been weighing heavily on my mind and heart the past couple of weeks.  I had to shoo away all the negative energy to emit the right kind of aura that will hopefully give me some edge.  I had dressed for the occasion in a pant suit that was not too corporate nor too casual.  I was made up but not in my custom fashion — this was not the time to lose my eye liner but I made do with mascarra.  (This may seem trivial to some, but taking on the look is something I feel is very important when you are going to sit at a table to negotiate.)

My lawyer friend arrived first.  We caught up (I had been one of the secondary sponsors at his and his wife’s wedding, another classmate,) and we tried to strategize without overly thinking what it was we wanted to say.  Having him there beefed up my confidence.  I wasn’t among strangers.  This was a friend.

Then our opposing party arrived, lawyer present, too.  As luck would have it, the lawyer they brought was someone from my legal alma mater which they must’ve found an awkward advantage for us — and all it took was a simple, “You look familiar.  Did you go to Ateneo?”  As we were wont to do, batch mentioned and common friends’ names enumerated.  Bingo.. I felt the heavens were smiling down on me.  My lawyer-friend-classmate and I shared a look and I knew he was thinking the same thing.  Not that we automatically thought she was on our side, but at least we knew she would be one to play fair and speak upfront.

The conversation was calm but emotionally draining, because there was a lot of tentativeness and vacillation on the part of the other party.  We had made our offer, it was refused, and we needed to get a counter offer we could react to.  This tug-of-war took almost an hour, landing us somewhere near a possible counter proposal which, understandably, could not be arrived at right there and then.  But at least we had our lawyers exchanging numbers and agreeing to communicate to each other whatever it was they arrived at, so that it can be communicated to the parties, and hopefully a document drafted for signing by all involved very soon.

I had to bare my soul in a manner of speaking explaining where my family was coming from and what financial dilemma the refusal of the counter offer has plunged us into, and what challenges we are facing given a new proposal.  It is by no means a small figure we were negotiating over, but it was not something we could not work towards raising.

Even before I sat down there, I prayed.  I asked God to guide me and give me the words to say.  He had taken me back to Manila despite all the odds and despite previous plans not to or to do so later in April perhaps.  Things happened which drastically changed my time table, and while getting me here started to become workable, in many respects, it had come with a lot of obstacles along the way and at a price. (Soul of Christ, Sanctify me.. Body of Christ, save me.. Water from the side of Christ, wash me…)  I almost felt defeated thinking of all the things that had happened the previous weeks and that have been happening lately, and I just closed my eyes thinking there must be a reason for everything.  I almost said out loud, if this is what it would take, I understand why it has cost so much.

(I had to pause just now, close my eyes and try to shoo away the knot forming in my chest.  Too early for tears.)

I had texted out a request for prayers, for the prayers to be sent my way, but after we walked out of the restaurant and headed home, all that I could say was “Thank you.”  Even if I didn’t get a reply to any of the messages, I know that people heard and people prayed.  I have always believed in the power of prayer, no matter which God one prayed, too.  As Fe always says, it’s the energy of the universe, and the universe is listening.

My task is not quite finished yet and we have a second and possibly third meeting set before I leave.  It looks now that although I wanted to leave for New York over the weekend, it’ll have to wait.  One of the meetings set is for Monday.

I wanted to just plop down in the front seat of the car, but we had to head home and relay what we had spoken about to my sister and my mom whom we left in the house.  While recounting it and relaying what had transpired to them was a task in itself, explaining things related to our home to my mother is an emotional obstacle course because I have to  be careful what I say and how I say it.  She has spent many sleepless nights over this dilemma — in fact when the other party asked why we didn’t have her with us, I told them in a calm voice that everytime they spoke with my mom, she spent many sleepless nights after and she wasn’t one to take sedatives to calm her nerves.   I had to try very hard not to hint at my displeasure at their callousness for my mother’s feelings the way they had been talking to her in the previous negotiations which was relayed to me by my siblings — I was, after all, supposed to be the one trying to placate them and trying to convince them to give us a reasonable counter offer.

I still feel like I’m carrying half the weight of the world on my shoulders, and trying to sort things in a heart already beaten down by other burdens the past few weeks.  (Passion of Christ.. give me strength..”)  And I have to remind myself that life goes on when I go on that plane ride back to New York where I will have to face other challenges waiting for me on that side of the world. ( “Hear me Jesus, hide me in Thy wounds so that I may never leave Thy side..”)  I would normally want to stay and extend, but there’s a boy whose warm embrace is like God’s personal assurance to me that all will be well.  Every day he asks me when will I be coming home.  One week, I told him today.  I said midnight on Wednesday next week, I’ll wake him up and I’ll be with him already. =)

I tried to start a blog post here last night just before I lay down before midnight but I was beaten down.  I only had enough strength to set up the gadgets that will enable me to connect with Angelo when he called, then sleep took me over.  When I woke up this morning, I found two “messages” that were messages — but not quite — waiting for me.  First was the knowledge that someone I thought might have totally been ignoring me was still listening in a distant way.  I knew because I saw that there was a glimpse taken my way — even if nary a word was said.  Second was yet another “Godwink” from a comment from a stranger… thank you, WI.

Wi wrote in response to Rainy Tuesday in Manila below:

I just prayed for you and will continue to do so. Good luck.

Like I always do, I returned a thank you for an e-mail trace back, and again, like a few days ago with Shay, it wasn’t the original comment which brought the tears out but rather what she said in response to my note that just convinced me my message to the heavens was received, and God was telling me that He heard.

In a strange way, I heard someone else saying what Wi had told me in her comment — someone in particular I had asked for prayers from, and to whom I texted a simple “Thank you” last night after I stood up from the negotiating table.  Even if I didn’t get any replies and I was thinking perhaps my messages were being ignored or deleted, Wi’s comment to my mind was the universe telling me the messages were received, and the prayers sent.  Or at least I’d like to think so.

Hear me, Jesus..”… I feel as though there are just too many petitions I am asking of God at this point that I don’t know which one to prioritize over the other.  I am almost afraid to ask that one prayer be granted at the expense of another equally important petition weighing heavily on my heart.  At this point, all I can say is I offer it all up to Him for Him to do with as He pleases… what I might want most might not be what He may want to give to me… ever.. or just not yet.

As a friend would say, Inshallah.  Another would say, “In God’s time..”… and Fe would say, “The universe is listening.”

I’m headed to Baclaran today for my personal devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  I am almost sure the tears will come again — the hymns and the faith of the masses who raise their voices up to heaven never fail to move me on an ordinary day, what more on a day like this when I feel Jesus talking to me, and I feel His arms around me in a warm embrace.  Have to make sure I brought the tissue and the shades in my purse.

Fe is away on a trip to Dumaguete this morning, so I will go about mine without my emotional crutch here by my side.  I can already hear her saying “You’re doing fine.. Be kind to yourself.”

One week left.  I have promised myself to make the most of what’s left of my trip as my returning any earlier than the end of 2013 is very unlikely.  I might not even return until 2014.  I have to finish my notebooks soon, write on my cards, pack the rosaries I brought home to give away.  I have to make sure all that I brought reaches their intended recipient. I have to leave with all my paperwork taken cared of, powers of attorney signed.  I have a baul  (chest) of pictures and old letters I’m still looking for which I hope to find and go through before I leave.  I have already tucked away the postcards my sister reminded me I had always intended to take back to New York in one of my future trips — I told her the postcards will have to stay and wait for another trip in the future.  I can’t take them back with me just now.

It’s still dark out and I know half the city is already stirring.  Some people are already making their way to the LRT trying to avoid the morning rush.  I have to start my day soon, too.  Day one of 7 and counting..

Rainy Tuesday in Manila

I slept and woke up to the pitter patter of rain outside.  It’s a gloomy Tuesday.  But there are things I need to do today, like a meeting that I am hoping pushes through finally.  That would mean one and a half done, with the other half to go when agreements are reached and papers signed.

I wish I could just sleep the day away.  I lay awake most of the evening, part of it working.  (Asked to take a half day off my time off)… part of it waiting for Angelo to get home from school.. then I dozed off and woke up in time to do homework with him.  I did some writing, mostly in another blog I’ve started and in my long-hand notebooks, but sleep wouldn’t find me.  Jetlag.

Halfway through my trip, I’m trying to find a possible earlier flight, but I haven’t been lucky.  It’s a little premature to book until I see how tonight’s meeting goes.  In any case, I have a second day reserved by the weekend to try and work things out further.

I wish things were as easy as turning a switch on and ordering what we want to happen to actually happen.  But it is not.  The frustration is beginning to creep up on me, but Fe keeps warning me against being pessimistic and negative about what should be pure positive energy.  It’s just hard when so much is riding on someone else’s decision, and I have no control over it whatsoever.

I am praying and hoping for the best… wish me luck.