Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Goodbye is the hardest word to say

Feb. 23, 2010

It's 11:35 PM. I just woke up. Woke up from a dream. I dreamt of receiving a call, telling me of Daddy Cap, my grandfather's death. I wanted it to be just a dream. But it is real.

I recalled being in a state of euphoria earlier the day. It was a morning of victory for the approval of Organic Agriculture Ordinance we lobbied in the City Council. After, it was another day of office work- finishing the research draft while listening to music on earphones. My phone rang but I didn't hear it. Then, I received a text. “Kek patay na si Papadar.” I blinked. I wished those words were not true.

Death. It's the suddenness. The gripping truth of goodbye. Of life's definitiveness.

Then tears keep falling.

Daddy Cap, the patriarch of Capili clan. THE source of our “matanglawin” genes. The eyes with smaller than the average person's pupil (In my case, smaller pupil and cornea)

I remembered Nana Cion (Daddy Cap's elder sister) telling me how he got that distinct 'characteristic'. When their mother was heavy with him, their mother saw a black crow one afternoon and stared at it intently. Just stared at that crow for so long. And lo and behold, five to six generations later, Capili family will have that 'cross-eyed' gene. Our ophthalmologist, amazed by this genetic disorder, told us that it is stronger particularly in male members of the clan. Who needs the expensive DNA test to prove you're a part of the family; that you're the missing son or daughter, if you possess this number one Capili indicator?

Despite Daddy's poor eyesight, he reads the Daily Bread. He keeps his cellphone very close to his eyes while texting. Most of the time, he texts without punctuations. He reads The Philippine Star daily; reads the headlines, the opinion section and analyzes the cartoon editorial for the last two digit clue. I asked him how he would determine the 'clues'. He would just shrug. He is a number games analyst. I call him the last-two magnate. He always win. The last time he won, he bought his winnings for lechon and ube and durian ice cream for the family gathering.

He has a good memory.He doesn't need that Prime Memory drink. When I lost my ATM card, I forgot my account number. But he didn't. He is our mini telephone directory. What's Uncle Bong's landline number? Just ask him.

He likes watching sports on TV. We used to watch boxing, billiards and basketball. We made our bets. We are both Purefoods fan. But if it's Alaska vs. San Miguel, I would bet on Alaska. He would bet on San Miguel. If he wins, I have to scratch his back and massage his feet. When Pacquiao defeated Erik Morales on the third round of their third showdown, he said it was a sold-out fight. He argues about the "politics behind the boxing arena."

He's a good sales man. Started at the beverage company, then went to educational and pension plans until he retires. He sells what he strongly believes in. I know he was devastated when CAP Plans and the rest of educational and pension plans industry collapsed. After all, some of their clients bought the plans because of him. Because his clients trust him. He lose some friends after that. Some even blamed him. But you don't have a hold of what's coming. The bubble market that suddenly bursts. He was the best source for my crisis communication case study on educational plans. He taught me about stocks exposure and the importance of trust and credibility in selling.

The salesman in him remained. He continues to sell Fern C.He even uses his salesmanship on me. He recruited me to join Fern C network. He tells me to take my Vitamin C daily. “Mabuti yang may Fern C, hindi ka madaling tablan ng sakit. Di ka madaling ubuhin. Kung bumabyahe, uminom ka para masarap ang tulog mo.” Still a salesman even on his remaining days. His reminder of my daily dose of Vit. C is his way of telling me, to always keep safe. To take care of my body.

He is the one who told me why priests always eat papaya (insert a naughty grin here from him). He loves to have his midnight snack- fox candy, watermelon, pomelo, and peanuts. He wants soup. Anything that is masabaw. To which Mommy Au would remark, “ Ang hilig mong magsabaw. Para kang nagpapasusong nanay!” He loves lechon's crispy skin. He likes sinampalukang kambing. He loves to eat whatever Mommy Au prepares.

He is a funny man. His favorite prank? It's the loudest release of gas. While walking at the terrace, he would stop. Sandali. Then Pbbrffft! The louder, the better. Then he would burst into laughter.

After high school graduation he gave me Francisco Colayco's book on financial management. He said, “Always save 10% of your money. Save up. Invest wisely.Be your own bookkeeper.” “Always think positive, Think wealthy. You beget what you think, what you say. Be careful on what you think about and what the words you utter.”

He wanted to know who would be the (un)lucky guy who would snatch our (my sister and I) hearts. He jokes about my lovelife. He keeps on reminding me to find a man who is responsible, knows how to cook (so that I would not be deprived nutritionally. Cooks are good lovers, he said) and importantly, who loves me more than I do. He said, “Dapat makilala ko sino man yang maging boypren mo ha? Dapat makilatis.Hindi playboy.” Of course. It takes one to know one.

Last December reunion, after the picture taking, he was grinning ear to ear. I know he is happy seeing the family; his other apos from London and Manila. I was taking pictures with my cousins and younger brother from my camera phone when he nudged, “Oh bat tayo wala pang piktyur?” I teased him for becoming a camwhore. “Ganyan talaga.Dapat may remembrance ang kakisigan.”

There are so much about him I want to say. He is not only my grandfather. He stood as my father too. Trying to compensate, taking the role his junior failed to do. It's the course of second generation of family history. Mistakes repeated. Blaming will not get us anywhere. It's a part of living, of learning, receiving and giving love.

I heard so much about him. His lapses and his goodness. But who am I to judge him on his lapses? He might not be the perfect father but he is the best grandfather a granddaughter like me could ever have. I am lucky to be old enough to remember these memories of him; grateful for the time spent with him.

To borrow from Andrew Rivera, “Existence is a story. We spend so much time sifting through our memories; it serves only to show how much life has already dribbled through our fingers, how many stories have gone untold.”

So I am sharing this story. The snippets of life with a man who is my grandfather.

To Daddy CIRILO CAPILI,SR. Thank you. I love you.

Ikaw ang pinakakisig na congressman for me.
This is his Chavit Singson stance. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

White Under The Moon

Ever since he kissed me under a full moon, I cannot look at the moon again without imagining that somewhere out there, wherever he is, whatever he is doing, whenever he looks at the moon he is thinking the same about me.

The memory of that night is all I have of John. One night under a clear sky with no clouds, just a bright and brilliant, perfect circle of light. One night, one kiss and a million stars in a sky so vast that even with my chest bursting I felt so small, so
insignificant. Somehow, it was too good to be true.

For just when I thought I had found love I had to lose John, though I had known from the very beginning that I could have neither-- neither love nor John.

It was beautiful while it lasted, though. But then again, was it all in my mind? An illusion of beauty, like the moon that think its glory is its own?

Maybe the kiss and the night meant nothing to him.
Maybe I exaggerate their importance. Maybe I suffer from moon madness. maybe I am mad.

A short fiction written eons ago. Happy Hearts Day everyone! Enjoy the day with your friends, lover and family!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Data Gaps and Discrepancies

I'm back from field work and data gathering for my research. There are still gaps and contradictions of data from the same government agency. Now that's very frustrating-- it is the backbone for my analysis yet it is lacking. I was often being passed from one office to another, from one staff to another. And when I went to the responsible person since that's what his/her designation is, I was told he/she is not allowed to disclose the budget since they have a memorandum not to give the exact amount as how much they get for their rice sufficiency budget. It's a public document and as a taxpayer I do have the right to know where my taxes are going. But they do have a different idea of 'transparency.' They can give me other data except for the budget. Now that smells fishy, right?

I could not push the person since she's only a staff and the order was from the Region. Now, I am having headache. But well, it was also a memorable experience as to how I would use my creativity just to make a subtle coercion on getting the needed data. Ha!

Monday, February 1, 2010

"The symptoms of love and cholera"

Love is an epidemic. (Much like the AH1N1 virus or HIV AIDS, that caught the world lately). More so, it becomes dangerous especially when it comes to a point of obsession. A cataclysmic upsurge of brainwaves that no science can find immediate remedy except time. Time can be an ally or nemesis in the blossoming and/or fading out of true love. It is a choice.

Love is like cholera. Akin to the symptoms of cholera, basic symptoms of love is palpitations, muscle cramps, shock, (okay this might sounds OA but believe me, if you are irrevocably in love with the other person, you would even want to end your life, right? Especially in the case of failed relationships) and sometimes it has no almost no remedy. And to attest to this, it is chronicled by Gabriel Garcia Marquez' in his novel Love in the Time of Cholera. A love that blossomed, faded and eventually finds its 'resurrection' in the tumultuous time of a pandemic.

I was cautioned by Mom Jeni of the novel's sensuality (“It is not for your age! Bata ka pa.” *eyes roll* thanks for the 'overprotected stance, professor dear') since I have been badgering her to lent me a copy. But she lost it. Thank goodness, friend listened to my parinig so he gave me this book on my birthday.

True to her (Jeni's) words, the novel indeed is sensual much like the courtesan's account of her lovers. But it's ending is somewhat offhand but oh well, I can forgive it. I can liken it to Nicholas Spark's The Notebook but lesser in surge of emotions. It is the story of Florentino Artiza's “contraction of the diseases of the heart” for Fermina Daza that spans for decades. Now, that's something sweet, or even frightening. A story of young love that blossomed under difficult circumstances, but individual dreams and social status interfered. A simple conversation put an end to the relationship. After 52 years, nine months and 662 affairs, Florentino decided to reclaim what he thinks is solely his- Florentina's heart.

The language used in the novel is fluid, would keep you reading, for the tales of the past is intertwined with the current undertakings of the main characters. Chronicles of a love lost and reclaimed, of lovers who seek refuge in each others arms just to feel the love, or semblance of love without the problems of love.

Likening love to cholera is not sweet, right. So when I texted the giver of the book about his idea of likening Love to cholera, he replied, "it only tells us that it (falling in love) is an epidemic, worse there's no specialist for that and no particular medicine or treatment such,..some survived , some were left lifeless, some are in coma..”

"For you a thousand times over...

This for me, is the most memorable line in the book, The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini.

I heard about the book when it was already being filmed and there was a controversy about the “rape scene” part since it is haram . One of my colleagues told me it was an emotional book. So when a friend asked me what book I want for my birthday, I said The Kite Runner (although I was thinking of Twilight saga that time). And I had no regrets of choosing this over Twilight.

Kite Runner described the age-old tradition of kite flying and running after the defeated kites in Afghanistan. It is a story about Amir’s childhood and his friendship with Hassan, the son of their servant. Amir and Hassan grew up together. Despite the differences in social status (second generation of master and servant relationship), religion (Amir’s a Sunni, Hassan’s a Shi’a), in education and almost about everything still, the two young boys developed friendship that goes beyond all of these. They also shared commonalities- they both have the same wet nurse since they both have lost their mothers.

I had a hard time reading it since the book is really too personal for the author that I could not help but stop those tears from rolling. Amir, though an only son of a businessman, yearns for his father’s attention. He thinks that his father even loves their servant’s son more than him. Because of his yearning to be recognized, he let down and gave up the person who is willing to give him more than what he asks.

On the day of the kite flying competition, Amir decided to beat everyone. He got what he wanted and wanted more. He also wanted to get the blue kite he defeated. And Hassan, the greatest kite runner on their neighborhood promised him to get the blue kite shouting, “for you, a thousand times over!”

Hassan disappeared for several hours. He was cornered by the middle-class bullies. They wanted to get the blue kite. But Hassan said no, and was severely beaten. Instead of giving up the blue kite, he gave up himself, his dignity and suffered in silence. Rape, here is oppression. Worse, Amir saw it all and decided to do nothing.

With my other books given by my benevolent friend. Super thanks!

What’s the best of this novel is usage of contrasts. To show what loyalty is, the author portrayed betrayal. To show bravery, he showed how Amir cowered in fear. To show remorse, he described the build-up of guilt and the way for repentance in the most difficult way.

I don’t expect the twist and it made me wanting to flip eagerly. Amir and Hassan are after all, half-brothers. The revelations alongside with the ‘flashbacks’ of their childhood, are very heartwarming. With the war and atrocities committed by the Taliban government to its people, Amir has to go back after fifteen years and save the only link to his past- Sohrab, Hassan’s son. He also has to face his greatest nemesis- Assef and to seek retribution of the latter’s crime committed to Hassan and to Sohrab.

What moved me is the difficulty that Sohrab has to go through. The children caught in war are very vulnerable. The psychological trauma of being used by pedophiles, and the added trauma he has to go through in the grueling process of adoption. The bureaucratic adoption process takes toll on him that at the young age he decided to commit suicide! Now that’s a very terrifying thought!

The ending is very promising. With Sohrab flying the kite and Amir running after the defeated kite, it’s a reverse picture of the past--A past that is slowly healing.

The Kite Runner is about friendship, of age-old traditions, hypocrisy, discrimination and cross-cultural adaptation. For now, I’m looking for the DVD of the movie adaptation.


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