Journey Home: Manila

I was still awake at 1am here in Manila earlier today..  clearly exhausted after being awake for 48 hrs straight, my body clock kept protesting against the lack of  sleep forcing my eye lids down.  My bestfriend, Fe, was snoring away not too far from where I sat when I began this post, getting ready for a hearing this morning.  Me, I sorted through the things I brought from New York.

I’m home.  Well, not literally yet, as we’re trying to orchestrate a surprise for Mom in Paterno.  Instead I looked out at a dark Makati skyline from one of the more prestigious hotels at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Makati Avenue courtesy of another dear friend, Elvie.  Even in the darkness,  Makati evokes so much emotion and memories in my heart for all the years I spent walking these streets — from the time when I was struggling in law school, to just before I left in 2000.  In the daylight now, I see Makati alive like I remember it.

It’s a very confusing and chaotic time in many respects not just for me but for my siblings as well.  I could see my sister’s relief as we sat together through dinner.   She had just about given up because things had reached a standstill.  With my arrival, she is hoping we can move towards a positive direction again.  I’m trying to stay positive.

I can’t wait to see my Mom’s reaction when she sees me.  She doesn’t know that I’m here already.  We’re trying to orchestrate things so I can deposit my things home somewhere she can’t see any trace of me being there, slip in to sleep tonight and have her wake up to me being there to greet her Happy birthday tomorrow.  Sometimes there are things you do just because you know it’ll make someone happy, and when it’s my Mom on that side of  “happy,” it makes it doubly special.

I mean to deliver the bigger gift if I can pull off what I want to negotiate on her behalf so she rest easy, sleep a little more peaceful at night, and perhaps lay one of her greatest fears to rest.  I’m gearing for that next week, and hope that again, I am able to do what I came home to do.

There are things that we are letting go of to be able to focus on what matters more to us.  For me, I needed to come home to try and give things one last try, and hopefully help them find a solution in this puzzle.  If things don’t work out as planned, at least we can say we did everything we could.  I’m thinking I was brought home for a reason, and I just need to work towards finding the solution with the optimism that it requires.

“Everything happens for a reason,” everyone says.  True.  As Fe said, everything coming into play and allowing me to find myself here in Manila at this time means it was meant to be.  I sure hope so.  One last try for Mom.. for the family.

Funny how just four weeks ago, I was shopping for things to send home through my courier in time for her birthday today.  Then two weeks ago, we thought it would be a good time to consider coming home, and last week, we got confirmation it would be better to do it sooner than later.  And today, I’m here in Manila.

Thanks for all the well-wishes…  At a time when I feel like things keep going south, it means a lot to me to get the support of so many who don’t even know me in person, and who have known me only through my words here.   Godwinks.  And it means all the more when I am not getting the same support from the people I expected it from.  I’m trying to be generous with trying to understand — some can only take care of one thing at a time, or one person at a time.  In the grand scheme of things, I have to remind myself to put myself  and my feelings in its proper place with respect to other’s feelings and priorities.  What might be important to me might be inconsequential to others.  Sometimes, it doesn’t help that people see me as a strong person.  When I am at my weakest, they fail to see I need help, too.  And we all have our ideas about how to best help our friends in need which aren’t always what is best in the final analysis.

On the other side of the picture, I have been blessed with many friends who go above and beyond when I am in a time of need.  I always remember to thank God for blessing me with their presence and their love.  Beyond my family — my boys and the siblings and Mom here — I feel myself rich beyond measure because I have all these angels around me.  But there are things and accommodations only certain people can give, and which sadly the generosity of others cannot compensate for.  Sometimes, just a little kindness and tenderness can mean all the difference at a time when all doors are closing.  Others don’t see it that way, though.

I am trying to let it go.  Try as I might, I cannot muster the anger despite the disappointment.  Kindness, like happiness, is a choice.  We can make our grief all about us or extend it to consider the grief of those around us.  And we might just discover that it doesn’t add to our burden, but rather being considerate of the pain or challenges that others are facing will give us the strength to face our own.  Sometimes we say we don’t have any expectations of our friends, but we get disappointed when they seem to forget the friendship that we thought bound us together.  So we back away and we say, we understand.  That’s what friends do — they don’t get mad, they don’t give in to anger, they take a deep breath and say “she’ll come around in time..”  Time, however, is not always on our side.

I have my work cut out for me.  I am starting on my mission with the singular thought that I’m doing it with a firm resolve to do what I came here for.  I have adhered to others’ advice and thought processes — this time, I’m doing what I want to do the way I want them done, and on my own terms.  At the end of the day, at least I can say I followed my instincts, I followed my heart.

Almost 10am and the sun is gloriously shining on Ayala Avenue.   New York must be windy and cold again.  For once, I don’t miss that.  I am actually looking forward to enjoying the polluted air of Manila.

Journey Home: Layover in HK

I landed here hungry and tired.  We landed at 1:30pm but the airline didn’t serve lunch.  So after clearing the security inspection, I searched high and low for something substantial from a franchise or restaurant that wasn’t American and familiar.  I landed at the Red Lantern where I feasted on dimsum, chicken feet and some glorious steamed pork buns.  Jasmine tea that tasted as authentic as can be — and of course, washed down the feast with Coke light.  I headed straight for the gate where my flight was set to leave 2 hours hence, and so I’m here.

I’ve tried texting people back home that I’m heading their way but the signal might not be too good.  I am feeling heady for lack of sleep.  While I managed to nap on the first leg, I didn’t really get to sleep, no thanks to this ill-mannered passenger seated to my left in a three-seat middle aisle row of chairs.  I managed to survive the flight without bopping him in the head or telling him off for his elbows landing near my mid-section, and for his knees constantly rubbing against mine.  If it were Brad Pitt, I wouldn’t have minded, but he was loud, uncouth and looking for first class legroom on a coach budget.

It’s only 3:30 and the clouds in Hong Kong are overcast.

Hong Kong was my first trip outside the Philippines, and I was lucky it was for business and not pleasure so I got treated to some of the more expensive restaurants in the territory, and I even managed to view the storeys – tall mural of the Shangri-La.  After two trips here, I have not gone back to visit — only to pass through.

Oops.. battery running out on me.. have to publish and cut out now.. until I land in Manila, that is!

Journey Home: From New York to Hong Kong

I’m drafting a blogpost between New York and Hong Kong as I go on another journey home with a two-pronged objective of surprising my mom who celebrates another birthday this Friday, and secondly, to help conclude the negotiation of a deal that might help us solve our problems with my Dad’s estate.

Going home was a spur of the moment decision which I didn’t make lightly, except that my family back home offered to foot the fare which tilted the decision in their favor, of course.  Still, being away from my boys for any long period of time is not an easy decision to make.  I have this illusion that I am indispensable to the lives of father and son, although they attest to the fact that they will be fine without me, just as they were on two occasions before.  (When Dad became gravely ill the first time, and when he eventually passed.)  Of course I cannot help but worry, but deep inside, I know they’ll be fine.

I was actually preparing a package to send home, and had to get presents and other pasalubongs rather last minute.  I left New York with butterflies in my stomach hoping the trip was going to be worth it.  I fortunately have the time to spare at work, and the boss was traipsing around the world himself on business, so out of the 12 days  I was out, he was in the office only for 4 of them.

Despite the odds, I got a ticket at a good fare, got the nod of the boss, and am now on my way to Manila.

I am going home with mixed feelings because there’s the happy occasion celebrating Mom’s birthday, but there’s also the daunting task of helping resolve a stalemate in our situation with a creditor who is sitting on an offer of settlement we have made.  The deal has been heading south the last couple of weeks on many fronts, so we are hoping I can help push it in a more positive direction.

It’s one of those tasks that fall under things you just have to do.  Call it giving it one’s best shot, even as an act of desperation.  You try to get things moving in the direction you want and then rely on prayer and luck to get you the desired results.  You just hope for the best.