My Mom Was Always There

My mom was there when I was called to the principal’s office. Not because I did something wrong but because I was doing so well in first grade that they moved me one level up in the middle of the school year.
My mom was there when I was bullied. She fought fiercely with the school principal to have those kids expelled. In the process a teacher lost his license, and eventually the kids learned to leave me alone.
My mom was there to enrol me to Taekwondo classes. Yes, believe it or not. I never went further than a yellow belt, but that one summer gave me enough confidence to stand up for myself for the rest of high school.
My mom was there with me during college enrollment. I was probably the only student in PUP’s history who needed his mom to get into college. And it didn’t stop on my first year. On my second year in college I was hospitalized and she juggled between looking after me at the hospital every night and enduring the historical long lines of PUP enrollment in the morning. My mom was also there to haggle my grades when I was about to fail a few subjects, and she was there when I needed to make my own cookbook in order to pass culinary theory.
My mom was there when I fell in love for the first time. And she was there when I went through every single heart break. She was there when I finally found the one, and she even helped me pick a ring for my proposal.
My mom was there to give me a handkerchief when I burst into tears at the church altar, watching my future wife come towards me. She was there when BJ was pregnant, when she gave birth, and when I was trying to figure out how to parent.
My mom was always there, checking up on me, worried about all those sleepless BPO nights. She never failed to remind me to not skip meals, get enough rest, quit my vices, and live a healthy life. Because she knew from experience that as a parent, I should take care of myself so I can take care of my family.
My mom was there when my wife and i decided to leave the corporate world and become entrepreneurs. She guided us through running a business and taught me basic accounting and management along the way. When the going got quite tough she even went in and helped at the store, confidently selling and cashiering in Tagalog, while most of our customers spoke Cebuano.
My mom was always there. Yes, she had imperfections just like any parent. But she never stopped becoming our mother at the best of her knowledge and ability. And I can only wish to become half the parent that she was.
In all those years that they were financially struggling to provide for us, my mom had taught me to never give up and never lose hope. To be resilient, and to never lose faith in God. And in her sometimes dysfunctional relationship with my dad, she taught me how to love and to never give up on people.
She may not be as articulate as how i grew up to be, but who I am now and how I write is because of my mom. Never losing hope and always believing in love and its many forms.
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Kindness Day

Sometimes we eat a little, sometimes a little too much.
Sometimes we like to cuddle, sometimes we hate being touched.
We feel great. We feel playful. We very well know happiness.
But sometimes we feel pain and get swallowed by sadness.
We want many things, and we want it right away.
Most of the time we’re impatient, and cannot wait one more day.
And there are things we want to say but never could.
Just like everyone else, we only want to be understood.

The question is, am I writing about my kids or me?
Because we are not so different, apparently.
Autism does not make them any less human.
And being ‘normal’ doesn’t make me a better man.

April 2 is Autism Awareness Day. Spread the kindness and love.

Para kay Jared

“Tulog na mahal ko;
Hayaan na muna natin ang mundong ito…”

Hayaan na muna ang mundong mapanghusga.
Iisantabi muna ang makamundong problema.
Ang araw na ito ay para lamang sa’yo.
Gusto kong makita ang iyong mundo.

“Tulog na mahal ko;
‘Wag kang lumuha, malambot ang iyong kama…”

Naaalala mo pa kaya ang mga hatinggabing;
Hindi ka mapakali, hindi mahimbing?
Ibinubulong ng pasmado kong tinig ang kantang ito.
Ang aking munting hele para sa’yo.

“Tulog na, mahal ko;
Nandito lang akong bahala sa iyo…”

Kahit ang naibibigay ko lamang ay minsan;
At madalas sa pagtulog hindi kita natatabihan.
Dahil tuwing gabi kailangan kumayod.
Titiisin para sa’yo ang puyat at pagod.

“Tulog na, mahal ko;
At baka bukas, ngingiti ka sa wakas…”

At sa paggising mo lamang maibibigay;
Ang inaantok na yakap at halik ng sabay.
Ipinapangako na naman ang maligayang bukas,
Ngunit ang totoo, sa’yo nanggagaling ang lakas.

“…At sabay natin harapin ang mundo.”

Throwback: “My Other Bride”

So this came out of my Facebook memories today. Written a few months before getting married 7 years ago on my second attempt at a blog.

BJ was never the only one.

There was always another one.

I still remember the first day we met. I saw a mixture of apprehension and curiosity in her eyes. She looked as if I was a wild animal in the zoo, wondering if it was safe to come close and if she can touch me.

I could not blame her. She had very few men in her life before, and letting a new one in may be a challenge. But I reached out and eventually we were closer.

She kisses me and gives me a hug when I go to her place. And sometimes she would try to run away as if she was asking me to come after her. She likes it when I hug her, but not too tight, as she wants to keep her freedom. She squeezes herself into me when we sleep so she can feel some human warmth. And, she wakes me up with an innocent smile on her face.

I don’t give as much back, since I spend most of my time with BJ. But one thing that I know for sure is I love her as much as I love her Mommy. And I can’t wait to marry both of them this May.

This is her by the way:

I Don’t Hair

All jokes about my (lack of) haircutting skills aside, I would like to open up about our Sam’s haircut today.

I have been doing Sam’s haircuts for a while now. Yes, me. Not even BJ because Sam wouldn’t keep still. She fidgets less with me. Still does, but less.

Why that kind of haircut? In case I haven’t mentioned it enough yet for the past 8 years, my daughter has autism. Jared too. Now on Sam’s case, she abhors ponytails, hairclips, headbands, and pretty much whatever you put on her hair. She likes her hair free. And she doesn’t know how to comb, so most of the times it’s unruly.

During mealtimes, she dips it in ketchup, soup, soy sauce, or whatever liquid you put in a bowl beside her rice. In addition, she always chews on the tips of her hair.

So to those who ask why, I’m sorry that my daughter cannot conform to norms. If my daughter were a regular kid, I would have made sure to keep her hair ‘normal’, learned to braid it, and even bedazzle on occasion.

But my daughter is not regular. We have to be more logical and practical and unfortunately it is not by the universal standard of ‘normal’ and ‘beautiful’.

And whatever you see or standards you set, in my eyes and in my heart, my little lady will always be beautiful.

Dear 30-Year Old JD

I write to you from one year in the future.
This year, yes, we had a tree. Yes, we used different-sized nonlas, and we even threw in sakkats and sombreros. We hand painted them green and stacked them high like a Christmas tree. We adorned them with red and yellow Christmas “balls” made of burlap and twine, and topped it with a star made of bamboo. You said we should never lose our spirit. Well, it wasn’t as easy as we imagined it to be, but let me tell you this – it was indeed a standout!
This year, yes, we can travel again. And by that I mean that we CAN, but we choose not to. We have realized that there are things that can wait and the wait is worthwhile. You said we should never lose our passion and wanderlust. Well I believe it’s just a matter of time before our backpacks will be worn again. And in case you really need to know, we still adore streetfood. Hashtag streetfood is life.
This year, yes, we finally opened our restaurant. Yes, we used monobloc chairs like the hawkers in Malaysia. Yellow and black. Yes, we used stainless tables like Hanoi. We haven’t decided yet where to put the old burlap banner; but instead we wrote our story on the wall. We still use the same woks, and our little BPT family has now grown to a dozen. And surprisingly for both of us, BJ allowed me to adorn the walls with our old travel photos, chubby cheeks and all. You said we should never lose hope. Well honestly there were more than a dozen times that I wanted to give up. But I’m glad I held on.
This year, yes, the kids are doing better. Sam has matured a bit and has less meltdowns compared to previous years. Or maybe I was the one who matured a lot and stopped having meltdowns. Jared can say and spell more words, and can now converse in his own make-up dialect. You said we should never lose patience. Well this year the kids also learned to be patient with us.
This year, yes, BJ and I are still together. Nope, were not back to being single. Yet. We still fight over breakfast meals, argue over decoration ideas, and backseat-drive each other’s driving styles. But you said we should never never stop loving each other. Well we never never did.
I’m not saying that it’s already a happy ending at this point. You see – what’s that they say again? – we’ve only just begun. I still have a lot of questions like you did and I will never get answers unless 35-year old JD decides to write us back and tell us about Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia. We have to wait for 38-year old JD to confirm if we have already opened our humble hostel. We have to wait for 47-year old JD to tell us about Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And only 75-year old JD can confirm if there is indeed a forever when he writes about our golden wedding anniversary.
Right now, I can only do what we have always done best: keep going. Time will answer the rest of our questions.
With much more hope from the future,
JD