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.

For Pearl

May 8, 2007 – I was anxiously waiting. Restless. Fidgety. It was one of the longest nine hours I spent on my old desk job and the two hour commute going home was twice the agony. I can’t wait to go home, and when I finally did, I had to wait a. Few. More. Hours.
And then she came knocking on the door.
The humble one liter engine hummed lightly as she approached the gates, with crystal clear eyes beaming through the garage, and cute little tires making a soft rumbling sound in the pavement. And then I finally saw her in full glory, flaunting her shiny new ebony black paint.
I dubbed her Black Pearl.
Yes, based on the movie. I was a big fan of Captain Jack Sparrow and his misadventures, and in the next decade we would have our own stories and adventures to brag about.
I still clearly remember how I was still learning to drive and maneuver, and immediately putting myself on the spot, braving the streets of Makati. Her miniature size was amazing at cutting through traffic. And she sipped gas like a fine lady.
But she can be badass when she had to. Like when we ran 160 at SCTEX and lived to tell the tale. Some people still don’t believe it, but at that time she was brand new and I was irresponsible, and possibilities were endless.
We had impulsive quick drives to Tanay and Pililla, racing hopelessly with ‘patok’ jeepneys for a hot bowl of Lomi Batangas. We had drunk, early morning runs to Tagaytay, just for a photo in the Taal sunrise. We had sleepy moments in NLEX, conquering the old streets of Vigan and the windmills in Bangui, and the hundred islands later on with my greatest love. And to the south we went as far as the shores of Puerto Galera.
So many women have taken her passenger seats. Like all those times I drove my mom to her meetings, or my aunts for kidney checkups, and Nanay Puring to Ever Gotesco for her weekly bingo fix. Yeah, it took a while before I actually got to have Pearl drive me on a date. But when that happened a year later, we were picking up a girl who flew all the way from Cebu.
I never expected that I was going to move there soon. And I had to leave Pearl when she turned two. I spent a year without her, while getting to know Cebu, 17B, 12L and ngohiong. In 2010, three years young and still so full of energy, I had her shipped in, because I knew I was going to stay here for good.
She avoided Typhoon Ondoy by a hairline, and began circling the island, having more adventures and misadventures as Captain Jack preferred. She had a record-breaking eight passenger long drive to the beaches of Alcoy (yes, eight adult passengers), she survived the zigzags of Barili and the Transcentral Highway, she took us to Bantayan, Malapascua, Camotes, and to all the nooks and crannies of Cebu.
She’s a seasoned fighter in the traffic jams of IT Park and CBP, and later on Carbon and Colon. And when I left my office job, she became the official wheels of BPT. She serviced LPG tanks, tables, coolers, oil, sauces, noodles, and our hopes and dreams. In hindsight, BPT might not have made it without her.
She drove us to dates, wedding preparations, pre-natal checkups, hospital visits, school trips, and she was a witness to all the loudest fights and biggest make-up kisses that no movie will ever give justice to. Pearl has seen me laugh, cry, have my heart broken, and fall in love.
She has been a crucial part of the last eleven years of my life, and it’s hard to imagine one without her.
But I have to let go.
For many reasons that do and don’t make sense, I have to let you go.
Thank you for all the wonderful stories. I wish you continue making them for your next owner.
I hope you continue be a trusty companion to your next owner. Haul their families, their pets, their groceries. Be there for them in times of need. Do not let them down on emergencies like hospital visits or midnight cravings. Give them power naps on long working hours. Bring them to places that put smiles on their faces. Bring them happiness like how you have brought mine.
It has been an extraordinary journey.

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:

It’s Monday, I’m In Love

Around this time, last week. The night was still so young as if Monday will be on hold. The streets were still noisy and busy with people from all walks of life, wearing their custom-cut Islands Souvenirs shirt. For many, Sinulog has ended. For some, Sinulog has just begun.
We checked in late to the party, because that particular holiday meant overtime in the food business. And we found ourselves settling for the last open karaoke place with cold beer.
As I sat down to the best seat in the house, with a good reach to the tagay and sisig and an excellent focal point to the flashing song lyrics, I saw them.
I could not hear what they were talking about from inside, but i could tell that they were enjoying the conversation. They were occasionally laughing, and most of the time smiling. Looking away, looking at the almost empty parking garage, looking at each other, smiling again.
There was no physical contact. His hands were clasped together most of the time, while hers were just holding the hand rail, occasionally flipping her hair whenever it gets blown by the convenient mild breeze.
They were just talking. And impressively, not once did any of them check on their phones. And they were there talking for the next two hours while I was desperately trying to sing Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing while chugging down another glass of Red Horse.
I could be wrong, but from their body language I could tell that they were not a couple. But the same body language told me they were falling in love.
If you are single and reading this, I am sharing this story with one small piece of advice:
Find someone who can listen to your repetitive stories and always pay attention as if they are hearing it for the first time. Find someone who will be interested with something that most people would otherwise perceive as boring. Find someone whose stories you would never get tired of listening, and whose jokes you would always find funny.
Find someone you can have a good conversation with. Trust me, nothing beats a good conversation.
We left just before the break of dawn. And they were still there. Occasionally laughing. Looking away. Looking at each other. Smiling.