Kakaibang Tanong

Napakaraming tanong na ang natanggap ko sa tanang araw ko. Karamihan ay nasasagot ko agad nang kampante at may ilan na natatagalan ako sa pag-iisip ng tamang salita na gagamitin. Ngunit may isang tanong na dumating sa akin nitong linggo na hindi ko maalis sa aking isipan.

“Neng, masaya ka naman?”

Ani ng isang guro na kasama namin sa silid habang nagbabalot ng bigas at de lata noong nakaraan. Abala kami noon sa school community pantry namin. Akala ko pa noong una ay iba ang kausap niya kaya hindi ako umimik. Lumingon ako sa ikalawang ulit habang sinasabi, “Nasanay na po sa pagpapalaki rin sa akin”. Hindi ko rin alam kung bakit hindi ko sinagot nang maayos ang tanong pero buti na lang ay inulit ni Ma’am. Tumango ako, ipinapahiwatig na masaya ako sa ginawa kong pagtulong.

Ilang araw nang patuloy na sumasagi sa isip ko ang tanong na ‘yon. Hindi dahil ‘di ako sigurado sa binigay kong sagot kundi dahil parang may kakaiba. Sino bang hindi masaya na makatulong sa kapwa? Nakabusangot ba ako habang nagbabalot kaya naitanong sa akin ‘yon ni Ma’am? Nagtaka ako. Pero unti-unti ko ring nauunawaan kung bakit ‘yon tinanong ni Ma’am.

Maraming takot lumabas ngayon. Takot mahawaan. Nagdadalawang isip na tumulong sa labas ng tahanan dahil sa pandemya. Marami kaedad ko ang pipiliing magkulong sa bahay. Maglaro, matulog at tumambay dahil walang pasok. Ang kasiyahan nila ay natatagpuan nila online o sa komportableng pamumuhay sa loob ng tahanan nila. Marahil akala ni Ma’am ay napipilitan lang akong pumunta ng eskwelahan at tumulong dahil may posisyon ako bilang lider. Na mas gugustuhin kong sa bahay na lang buong buwan, buong taon.

Mali.

Ligayang hatid ng bawat “salamat po, makakatulong po ito sa amin” ang nag-uudyok sa akin na sumama. Ang liwanag sa mata at sabik na tono ng mga nababahagian namin ang nagsasabi sa akin na nababawasan kahit papano ang kanilang pag-aalala sa kung ano ang kakainin bukas makalawa.

Kaya oo, masaya ako na sa bawat takal ng bigas na ibinabalot ko ay isang takal din ng kanin ang makakain ng kapwa kong makakatanggap nito.

Sa bawat gulay, kape, biskwit at tinapay na ibinibigay ay enerhiya ang hatid sa kapwa kong patuloy na kumakayod sa araw-araw.

Sa bawat supot ng pagkain at gamit ay pag-asa ang naibabahagi sa kapwa kong ipinagpapatuloy ang buhay.

Walang alinlangan.

“Opo Ma’am. Masayang masaya.”

Get Real

A moment of fantasy won’t hurt.

Imagining how great it is to be productive. To be happy. To lend a hand to another person. To reach a certain goal. It’s alright to dream. It gives us a vision to work with, a motivation.

But vision without action won’t amount to anything.

Dreaming about the things we want to achieve can be our booster. However, what is there to boost when all that we do is just to think about it? Never really considered to start acting upon it.

So get real with yourself! Are you taking the steps that you need to turn your ideas to reality? Or are you satisfied with uncolored drawings and a dash of “bahala na”?

The decision is yours to make.

On The Surface

When the current gets strong and the deep blue becomes overwhelming to dive into, it pays a lot to know when and how to reach for the surface.

When life gets challenging, drowning you with its chaotic dark side, it helps to reach for the light above your head.

There may be so much to discover and experience in this journey of ours. Many people to meet and many things to do. And the thrill of this thought will make us want to rush and to go deeper. But like the waters of our planet with more than 90% unexplored regions, it’ll take time to experience the entirety of life. And within that time are hindrances. Struggles keeping us from going further. That’s when you have to lighten yourself from the burden. To let yourself float to where the water reflects the sun rays.

Don’t let yourself drown and sink. Relax your tensed body. The air that you need when you’re out of breath, the hope that you need when you’re out of strength, is waiting for you on the surface.

Patience Talk

Young people think of patience as having the ability to wait or endure. Like when you’re waiting for a friend at a meeting place. Or trying your best to listen to your little sister as she babbles all day. Or maybe waiting for a class to end. That’s what I thought about it before as well.

Now, I have a whole new appreciation for the word.

Imagine having to put up with someone who is ungrateful of your efforts, foul-mouthed and ill-mannered. Have you ever lived with a compulsive liar who likes to stir trouble because of money and fame? I have. Or more accurately, I currently am. And I feel bad for my parents who are often on edge because of grandma’s attitude. I feel embarrassed toward my step-father and the neighbors who might be fed up of the constant quarrels.

I wanted to understand. Perhaps it’s just the old age getting the best of her. However, when I found out about my mother and my aunt’s not-so-great childhood, I realized how destructive sin could be. The testimony of the two most precious women in my life can bring tears and heartaches to anyone. They’re one of the most patient people I know in this world.

They endured the harsh reality of life when they were extremely young. Learned how to be independent. Went onwards without the proper and loving guidance of their parents. No one would think they experienced all that because of how simple and humble they are now. How present they are as parents even when they didn’t receive enough care when they were children. What amazes me more is how generous they are towards the person who almost abandoned them to starve in the past. They fed her, bought gifts and provided a roof over her head.

A person with conscience and well-built moral would feel extremely honored and apologetic. They would want to change for the better and repay the kindness.

Unfortunately, my grandma is not that kind of person. Despite all the time and effort my parents give, she remains the same. I’m not exaggerating when I say that she sees the flaws and imperfections of people and likes to point it out. It’s suffocating. Hearing inappropriate words everyday. I wonder how my mom endured all those years. How’s her heart? Is this what it means to be patient?

“Pinagpasa Diyos na lang namin.” My mother told me this when I asked why they decided to keep her in the house. To be honest, they have all the worldly right to put her in jail for violence and criminal intimidation. She has become, sad to say this, a threat to anyone who will go against her. But my parents chose to take things on their hands. To understand. And I’ve learned to do the same.

That’s how I knew that patience isn’t about comfortably waiting, it’s much more than that. Patience is doing the good and right thing despite the pain or struggle ahead.

Never Zero

I remember my first experience of feeling alone in what was supposed to be a fellowship.

Sadness is what I first felt when I realized that nobody was going to attend the fellowship we’ve set up for the youth of our campus. I saw that most of them were online that’s why I expected for them to be present but perhaps their dry seasons were at play.

Then I felt like a disappointment. Maybe it was me who’s at fault. Was I not eager enough? Not passionate enough? Am I lacking on more effort? These questions were running through my mind as I stared at myself on the laptop screen.

So this is what my mentor experienced when all her colleagues left her to be the last youth standing in her time, I thought. And so I messaged her. I told her about this new obstacle. “Zero is not that bad.”, is what she replied. I was gonna agree but then I remembered that I was there. It’s never zero as long as there is one person remaining, standing, praying.

That was when I decided to stay. To spend the next hour waiting. “Kahit isang kabataan lang ang pumasok, itutuloy ko mag-speak.” Suddenly, I was determined to wait. Then I got a message from one of my friends, apologizing that she wouldn’t be able to make it. She had to stick with her hospitalized mother. Now, the thought of her even messaging me at such urgent situation just to apologize made me feel something. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I do know that I wanted to pray for them. “Kung walang youth na papasok, itutuloy ko ang pagdarasal.” And I did. I prayed for Karla and her mother. I prayed for the youth who weren’t able to attend. I prayed for the whole campus.

Then I thanked God.

Because He made me realize a lot of stuff. He made me see the bigger picture. He proved to me that it was never zero to begin with. I wasn’t alone. Never alone for He was there. Always had been there testing my patience. Teaching me how to manage my expectations. Aiding me to handle my thoughts and emotions. At the end, God was there to comfort and remind me that many moments like this will come. And in these situations we will be able to reflect. Will we stop and turn back to where the people are gathering? Or will we continue despite being alone in the journey towards Him?

Insomiac

Funny how I advise people to sleep early
When I can’t even put my mind at rest
It’s foolish how I hope to be more healthy
When my sleep cycle’s a mess

Maybe it’s the thoughts that keep me awake
Or just the chilly breeze of the night
Is it the scenarios that I’m trying to make
Or the debates in my head, weighing the wrong and the right

Why is it so easy to overthink
To worry, to fear with every blink
To cry and to weep under the sheets
To ponder on the things and people I miss

Do I long for a warm embrace through the night?
Am I unknowingly hoping for arms to hold tight?
Perhaps all that I need for my mind to get sleep
Is someone beside me, just counting sheep

Favs & Hates

In life, there are several things that I like and a few that I distaste. And there are those that I have a love-hate relationship with.

Water is something that I love. Be it the liquid that I drink or perhaps that pool that I often think about in this summer heat. I also like it when it falls from the sky in the form of rain. It’s a sign that I’ll be able to spend the day at home, reading books or sleeping.

As I write this piece, I just realized that I like the wind, the plants, and the animals as well. So I guess it’s safe to say that I like nature. The wild and untouched type of nature. This must be the reason why out of all the songs from my childhood, Colors of the Wind is the closest to my heart. This appreciation for the environment is one of the things that I hope to share with my children someday.

Moving on, thinking of the things that I consider as irritating isn’t really my cup of tea. I’m training myself to see the good in everything. But whenever I’m asked about this matter, I share my dislike on narcissistic and manipulative people. More accurately, I hate the characteristic and not the person. I think they’re the hardest ones to deal with. That’s why I try to keep my distance when I do meet them in person.

When it comes to my love-hate relationships, top of my list are chihuahuas. Don’t ask why. Then tricycles, crickets, and wasabi. It’s a random list, I know. But I’m gonna save the storytime for my future writings.

I wasn’t sure at first, where my thoughts would take me as I typed. However, it’s nice to be able to reflect every once in a while. It would be nicer to talk about things like these in person but I guess I’ll have to wait until I get to see my friends again. Until then, I have my screen to accompany me each night.

When Tears Fall

Ever noticed that uneasy feeling when something or someone triggers your deepest fear, pain, regret or disappointment?

How you try your hardest to shake it off as you put up a fa├žade? Pretending. Fooling no one but yourself.

I know it well. Especially when the mask I’ve put up gets too heavy to bear. Then you start laughing and distracting yourself from the boiling emotion inside you. That nervous chuckle. I know it when I hear one. ‘Cause I know how mine sounds.

And finally, you stop trying to hide. You let your walls break down. And when those tears fall, it feels as if you’re at your lowest, most vulnerable self.

But how is it that comfort can suddenly replace the outburst after some time? Like how the sea calms once the storm had passed. It marvels me how we can still pick ourselves up when tears fall. Reminding us of the temporary struggle we need to overcome for us to learn how to let go and move forward.

So next time you find yourself expressing your sadness, I hope you don’t take it as weakness. I hope you’ll think of it as a turning point to what you’ve been trying to suppress. A catalyst of change, if you will.

White Blob of Paint

We’re all a blob of white paint on a blank palette
Pale and untouched
But with the dip of a new color
We are transformed to a new wonder

A hint of red will turn us pink
Blushed and sweet to see
Add some more to get a passionate hue
Too much will stir anger in you

If cherry is not something you fancy
Add orange or yellow and make things lively
See the energy flow as you mix it away
Does it give you a smile and make your day?

When you’re feeling wild or a bit mysterious
A pinch of green is the option to take
Like that of a busy jungle, the type to make you curious
Curious to explore the vast green lake

Perhaps you long for the calmness of the sky
Put a little blue, or a bit more will do
And when you wish to float on water and cry
It won’t hurt to put everything too

But if you’re feeling rare and feisty
Purple or violet, which ever it may be
No judgement on that, to use it is free
A bold pretty color for you and me

Now if you wish to mix all the colors you have
Expect for a dark brown, dark gray, or black
Or you can leave everything just as it is
A blob of white paint on a blank palette

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