good good friday

this year’s good friday was good, ergo — good good friday. it was my middle daughter’s (jikki) 27th birthday. and she’d decided to visit her lola (my mom) at loyola memorial park, marikina for her birthday.

i love her for thinking outside herself to visit her lola on her special day. my family has had many plans to visit, that had often ended up nowhere. this time it was a sure thing.

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my mom’s grave has been neglected. mea culpa. i plead guilty on that charge. and this day made me realize how important it is for one’s grave to be visited every so often, even when you’ve been long absent from the body.

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the lapida, after the surface was cleaned with a wet cloth

the lapida was dirty and soiled when we arrived, i had to rub off the smudge covering some of the lettering with the soles of my shoe.

a bit later, the caretaker of the grave beside my mom’s (my aunt’s and grandparents’ graves) came over and offered to clean and paint my mom’s lapida for P500. we agreed.

 

the caretaker’s name is danilo bandojo, a.k.a. danny bungal. there were two other caretakers named danny at loyola. one, danny bungal said, goes by ‘danny kalbo’.

danny bungal is 54 y.o. and has been taking care of my grandparents’ and aunt’s graves over the years now. he lives in antipolo and bikes two hours a day to and from work.

i asked him how much to plant grass, i particularly asked for carabao grass. “500 po,” he said. agreed.

“magkano mag-maintain?” i asked.

“150 a month po,” he said.

agreed. that is cheaper than a triple latte at starbucks! i negotiated an end of the month payment. he agreed.

i haggled for P450 for the cleaning and painting because the P500 he asked for included the purchase of spray paint. but he just borrowed paint, because stores were closed on good friday. he agreed.

for ka danny’s payment, i asked my daughters to pitch in any voluntary amount for the P450, to remind them of the thought of caring to spend a little, to show your love.

 

the lapida was a lovely sight after the cleaning and painting job. come first of may, we will send P500 to ka danny via cebuana lhuillier to plant carabao grass on my mom’s lot. thereafter, P150 every end of the month to maintain it by cleaning and watering the grass.

since we were already there at loyola memorial, jane also took the opportunity to offer flowers to his beloved uncle, ben f. rodriguez, and his wife. uncle ben took care of jane’s college schooling, and she lived with his family while she was in college.

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another person so dear to my heart was also laid to rest at loyola — jojo abagon, my cousin. we found her lot, and also offered flowers.

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the visit to loyola memorial park was a time to revisit cherished memories. the visit to loyola memorial park was a time to prepare myself for what was certainly to come in the future — my own eternal resting.

my family had lunch together and began our weekend stay-cation after lunch when we checked in for a 3D2N stay in a condo in the middle of metromanila.

jikki’s birthday was a good good friday!

 

 

stay-cation

stay-cation. this is a millenial catchword. baby boomers and gen-x peeps didn’t go on stay-cations; feelenials now do, however.

the stay-cation idea is what the name suggests: going a vacation, but staying within city limits or just near where you live. in our case, we stay-cationed in a condo just about a hundred steps away from my daughter’s condo.

we, ie. gen-x peeps, either went away on vacation via a long road trip or a plane ride OR we didn’t and just stayed home. if we wanted to get away for a day or night, it was simply called a “check-in” — magche-check-in sa hotel.

that’s a staycation.

it’s holy week weekend. i’m here (with my family) holed up in the middle of the city, on the 30th floor. i have no desire whatsoever to go out, like, to the mall, except one that’s nearby.

i can see estancia and uni-mart from our bedroom window. maybe later.

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there is a small gym, a billiard and a ping-pong table, a badminton/basketball (half court) hall, all on the penthouse; there is a jogging area, which is the entire perimeter of the roof deck that goes all around the sports facilities. there is a swimming pool with a kid’s pool at the ground floor right behind the lobby.

i woke jane (wife) before 7 am this morning because the swimming pool opens at 7:00 am. i thought to have the pool all to ourselves. true enough, we were alone in our private pool for the first half hour! then a mom with two boys walked in. then a mom with four girls. but by this time, jane and i were already out of the pool drying ourselves and sipping 7-11 brewed coffee.

there’s a 7-11 between our condo and our daughter’s condo. city blends brewed coffee is a good enough alternative to my own cold brew (which i forgot to prepare ahead of time to take along with me for this staycation) to wake me up.

staycation is a good time for me to write. to write new blog. i have a couple of things i need conducive space to write from, and this staycation is a good time to string profound thoughts and vague emotions into meaningful words and phrases.

holed inside my nook and corner, with minimal distractions.

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casa lillibelle 2018

my family decided to push through with the planned holy week outing, though feeling very tentative: two of our daughters [the eldest and youngest] had issues; jikki [the middle daughter] struck her thumb, dislodging her thumbnail the night before our trip; skyler, our 2-yr old “baby boy”, tripped while running, his gums bled and his lower lip broke open, also the night before; ryan almost couldn’t come because of a prior commitment; and marco was nursing a fever.  BUT, thank God, we all pushed to make the trip to casa lilibelle happen.  and the rest… is now… history

casa lilibelle family pic

front row, from left: marco, dea [eldest daughter], jikki [middle], ryan, skyler [baby boy], nicko, meg [youngest].  back row: me and jane.

just search online for casa lillibelle — it’s in cabangan, zambales, a 2-3 hour drive [or 6-8 hours if you travel on holy week!] from manila via SCTEX.  ang nagma-manage ng beach resort, ang mag-asawang si joanne calica at MJ ungco.

“calica…” i said, “calico, calica… ok.”
“yes, with a ‘c’,” joanne said.
“ungco,” i said, “with a ‘g’… ‘u’ ‘n’ ‘G’ ‘co’?”
“yes, u-n-g-c-o.”

at the resort, MJ is so easy to find.  he’s that [stand-out] caucasian-looking dude na balbasin.  joanne is the pretty “zambal beauty” with darkish complexion.

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MJ [he volunteered to take the group-fie] and joanne [rightmost]. me [with peace sign], dea [eldest; front]; jane [my wife; with shades]; jikki [2nd; behind dea]; ryan [rearmost].

chances are pagdating na pagdating nyo sa resort parking area, andun na si MJ… to welcome you.  joanne would probably be waiting for you at the counter area or greet you at the entrance to the resort.  you’ll also see MJ running here and there, in and out of the resort, taking care of business.  they’re both hands-on guys who give personal attention to and converses with their guests.

“MJ has caucasian features,” i said.
“‘kana’ ang mommy nya,” joanne said, “but his dad is chinese… ungco.”
“ikaw, are you from here?” i said.
“yes, just before the steel bridge coming here.”
“you are a zambal beauty.”

joanne was very thoughtful of our situation.  we were only booked for friday and was scheduled to leave and look for another place to stay that saturday morning.  lumakad na mga kasama namin [marco, dea, ryan, and jikki] that saturday morning, to make an ocular inspection of the other resort, and book it for an overnight stay; while jane [my wife] and i packed our bags and brought them to the hut.  they just got back, around 11 am.

“papa, wag ka na mag prepare ng lunch,” our eldest daughter dea said, “dun na tayo magluto sa kabila.”
“ahh, ok,” i said.

just then, joanne came to our hut to tell us that a reservation for that saturday cancelled; but instead of giving out the now available room to their friends who just arrived and were looking for a room; she remembered our predicament and decided to just let us stay for another day in our room to spare us the trouble of moving to another resort.

“si daddy nga kanina, nung sumilip ako sa kubo, mukhang nagdadasal na kung saan kayo magse-stay after eh,” joanne said, “mabuti na lang may nag-cancel.”

casa lilibelle nagdadasal

nagdadasal… nakatulog 🤣🤣

of course, we were all relieved and very grateful!  ryan raises two fists in the air!

the large air-conditioned room we occupied, comfortably accommodates 8-10 persons [we were 8 adults + a 2 yr old toddler], with cushioned beds; a spacious bathroom; a beachfront terrace; and ample space to walk around inside.  beach huts had individual grilling areas.  they have gas stoves [for rent] provided with saucepans and ladles.  you can order basic food items from the counter, like coffee, beer, eggs, ice, etc.  but there’s also a sari-sari store nearby if you want to go for an adventure into the small community.

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marco and the stove

the resort is quite secure.  we were assured that our belongings would be safe in the hut overnight.  we just left them there… found them the next morning just as we left them.

joanne and MJ made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed: they would check on us every now and then, to see if everything was alright.

“ano, sir, ok ba kayak ride,” MJ said, “nakapag workout ka na?”
“oo,” i said, “ang lakas nga ng hangin, kinokontra ko, tinatangay yung kayak eh.”

casa lilibelle kayak

this was my second time to go to casa lillibelle.  and it was my first choice when my family decided to go on this holy week getaway.

as the terminator would say, of course… “i’ll be back!”  😋😋

 

50 something

as my day ends — “my day” because it’s my birthday — i take stock of my life, an aspect of it…

i am half-broke.  broke a lot of times and unable to do things that require money to do or accomplish.  can’t afford to buy a lot of things.  can’t travel far.  can’t enjoy many pleasures.  but don’t pity me: i don’t believe that life consists in the abundance of materials things.

i am not poor by any means.  yeah, poor compared to my rich friends who have a lot of money (millions and millions) and property.  but not poor, compared to the homeless street urchin or the couples with little kids who live in pushcarts, residing anywhere they find safe shelter at, and feed off whatever convenient edible items they find rummaging in garbage dumps or on whatever kindness they receive from strangers.

i have not been too attracted to wealth.  i never chased after wealth, and wealth never chased after me.  i have a carefree attitude towards money.  why?  i am not sure.  it may be genetic (born this way,) accidental (ended up this way,) environmental (grew up this way,) or religious (faith led me this way.)

i was born this way.  no one can challenge that.  i was born with the carefree gene.  too carefree to care about anything (be it failure or success) at all — and money.  it’s an empty void as dense as a black hole.  doesn’t make life easy at all!

i may have become a carefree person as a result of a head injury i sustained when i was a year old.  i remember everything around me visually spinning when i hit my forehead on the sharp corner of the glass-covered center table in our living room.  something blacked out inside my frontal lobe.  i was rushed, bleeding, to the ER — received so many stitches above my cracked right eyebrow.  there is a hitman — a cold assassin — inside of me.

but growing up may have also taught me that happiness is not only achieved by having a lot of money, and whatever a lot of money can buy.  yes, i learned that it could give you that happiness.  but i also learned that it is not only money and the things money can buy that can give you happiness.

i learned that friends, the company of friends — the ones who aren’t bought with money, that is — are a genuine source of happiness for me.  much more happiness than the things money can buy can give.  in this regard i consider my friends much more valuable than money — losing friends is a greater loss to me than losing money.  how much money can you price-tag a friend?  and, of course, family — their love, and the happiness they give — that can never be replaced!

my faith in God has also taught me to trust in him despite appearances of hard times.  it’s a divine catch-22: God tells me, “since you are content with little wealth, why should i give you more?  i’d give you more faith instead, and just enough money.”  and, in the divine economy in heaven, i learned that faith is more valuable than earthly wealth.

as far as health is concerned, it always declines, never improves.  when you hear your doctor say, “your health is improving!” or “you look better!” either you’re recovering from a stroke or a triple bypass operation, or he’s just commenting on the visible rejuvenating effects of stem-cell therapy or viagra on your general outlook in life.  50 somethings’ health is never improving, always declining.

i am 50 something.

just another other day

happy new year!!!

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that is how i and a million others worldwide greeted the end of 2016, and the beginning of 2017.

but it is only because we have held on to the notion that january 1 is the beginning of a new year.  we believe it to be so, and thus, we live as if it were really so.  but not everyone celebrates the new year on january 1. 

we (those who celebrate the new year on january 1) do so because we have followed the gregorian calendar, ever since we could tell what day today or tomorrow is; so for us, january 1 marks the new year.

none of us (i haven’t heard of anyone locked up under the gregorian calendar system) have sought to change it — too difficult, almost impossible, and practically needless.  besides, we are reasonable men; and reasonable men seek to adapt to what happens around them; it is the unreasonable men who seek what happens around to adapt to them — so, we leave change to these unreasonable men.

in 45 B.C. unreasonable men, led by julius caesar, changed the start of the new year from march 1 to january 1 — this is also the reason why september (sept- for seven) is not the seventh month; october (oct- for eight) not the eighth month; november (nov- for nine) not the ninth; and december (as we would expect, also because of the prefix ‘dec’ which stands for 10,) not the tenth, but the twelfth month.  the 16th century gregorian system simply revised the counting of days but retained the names of months.

julius caesar is also the reason why july is named july — julius wanted a month named after him.  so he changed the 5th (now 7th) month ‘quintilis’ or ‘quint-ember’ to ‘julius’ (july.)

but the chinese (an old culture) celebrate their new year on an entirely different day and by an entirely different method of reckoning.  they base their method on the cycles of the moon or lunar cycles.  in 2017, as of this posting, the chinese are still on the old year; their new year will come on january 28 according to their lunar calendar.   this marks their spring festival.

the jews (another old culture,) on the other hand, will celebrate their 2017 new year from sundown of september 20 to sundown of september 22 — still a long way off.  they call it the rosh hashanah, or the head of the year.

i am a reasonable man, and therefore stay locked up in the 16th century gregorian reckoning of days — and this is the new year, and the time for new year’s resolutions.

it’s just another other day!