Switch Off

I was busy reviewing a case when I noticed that my reading area had gotten dim. I thought either my eyes were getting tired, or there was someone hovering my area and covering the light. As it turns out, the fluorescent lamp nearest to me had just officially died, and unfortunately for me, the Maintenance Office claims to have no stored bulbs in its supplies. Tough luck. The light from my computer screen is not enough. This is torture for someone with poor eyesight and migraine.

On a lighter note, I just asked an officemate, who is a mother, to serve as an ‘ilaw ng tahanan’. Corny, but it made both of us laugh anyway.
Obstacles. Minor compared to what most are experiencing.
Like in most obstacles, I had two options. One, to dwell on this negativity, rant my head off, and succumb to whatever miserable state I was in. Or two, be more optimistic and claim that as soon as tomorrow (with fingers crossed), my ‘problem’ will have its solution.
There’s an obvious right choice. However, sometimes the obvious right choice is difficult and challenging to do, so I tend to do the other. I rant. I complain. I explode. Sometimes it solves the problem. Most often, it does not.
And that’s why I chose to do the right, more sensible thing. I feel good about it.
Fast forward to a few hours later. Here I am, in the dark again, stuck in the most terrible traffic, faced with yet another obstacle. I am tired. I am hungry. I have food, but I don’t want to eat here. I want to be home with family.
My driver, who’s probably already in his 70’s, seems more tired and much hungrier. He seems more anxious, too.
We talk. I offered him candies and some takeout food, which he happily accepted. He now has a smile on his face, and so do I.
One hour and thirty minutes (and counting) for what was supposed to be just a 20-minute ride home. Unless this car had long mechanical legs or wings, then I can’t do anything (rant, complain, blame myself for choosing the wrong day to run an errand), but wait and be patient.
Patience. My thoughts run back and forth to the fluorescent lamp (or the lack thereof) at the office and the decision to eat some of the takeout food that I have. Just a bit more, we’re moving. Slowly, but moving anyway.
I blink, and it’s not as dark anymore.
I’m home. ❤️

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Much Ado About The Loo (A Reflection On and About Public Restrooms, Among Other Things)

I remember Spider-man whining about how having superpowers is both a blessing and a curse.

You know what I think is both a blessing and a curse? PUBLIC RESTROOMS.

Public restrooms provide the momentary, but immediate and much-needed comfort and relief. It’s not meant to, but it often serves as a witness and venue for when certain matters/issues need to be dealt with privately. Most of the time, at least in my case, it is where I get the most meaningful reflections and the best creative ideas for writing. Am I the only one who reflects, meditates, or composes essays while peeing?

Public restrooms are a blessing.

All these are quickly disregarded though when you chance upon a public restroom smelling foul. While I know it’s not supposed to smell like your own bathroom, I feel the smell should at least be neutral or clean. Or like a bathroom cleanser, maybe? The foul smell assures you the place has not been properly maintained, and that the stench will more or less stick to your clothes better than magnet on steel. The smell is an assault to the senses. Scratch that. The smell and appearance are an assault to the senses.

One restroom I frequent was recently renovated, and with that came a few new facilities. It now has a huge mirror. The tiles have been changed, too. Gone are the yellowish-used-to-be-white ones it once had. The cubicle doors are likewise brand new, with fully-functioning locks. Gone are the days when I had to hold onto the door while semi-squatting on the toilet. That, by the way, is every woman’s hidden talent. Take a bow, ladies.

Blessings, right?

Not quite. Not with the additional provision of bidets in every cubicle. This one’s a menace. A menace, I tell you.

But first, a brief vocabulary lesson. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the word ‘bidet’ as “a bathroom fixture used especially for bathing the external genitals and the anal region.” It’s clear which part of one’s body bidets are meant to clean. And although I understand why this particular fixture was provided, I can’t help but also think how bad of an idea it is, particularly in a public restroom. I, for one, feel it’s very unhygienic to have or use bidets in public restrooms, but that’s just me. And this is even assuming, bidets are used properly – correctly. Here’s a thought: what if it is not?

Since the renovation and the installation of bidets, I have never seen this particular restroom this filthy. The cubicle floors are always flooded with puddles of water, and the seats are always doused with a mixture of water and urine. With all the amount of water, err –liquid, you see, you’d think at least the inside of the toilet is clean, right? I give people way too much credit and benefit of the doubt, I know, because it seems with the newly-installed bidets, people have forgotten how to use the toilet flush. Of course, the sink counter is not spared. It would take a whole of effort to leave the restroom with a dry shirt after brushing your teeth.

Unrest and discomfort.  Curses!

From public restrooms and other office or school facilities, to social media, free speech and expression, suffrage – these are all reasons to be thankful. Blessings. If only we do not abuse them. Curses.

But borrowing the words of Uncle Ben in Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Just like with everything you own, have, and enjoy, you have to value it, take care of it, and respect everyone else who uses or has it. You lose that, then everything just plainly becomes a curse, for you and for everyone else.

I still use this particular restroom, mainly because more often I don’t have a choice but to. I still wish for a day when I get to see it in pristine condition, meaning no stench, no unrecognizable liquid in sight — a place that can actually live up to its name — a comfort room.

 

But until then, as with everything else (other public facilities, social media, free speech and expression, suffrage), I will continue to proceed with care and caution, I continue to arm myself with enough toilet paper, (p)wet wipes, and alcohol with every visit.

What It Means To Be Present 

I’m sitting at a Korean chicken place waiting for my takeout. I am surrounded by tables of young students, some women dining alone, and families having their Saturday lunch. I am reminded of those Sundays mom and dad took my siblings and I out for lunch after hearing mass. I used to look forward to weekends because it meant not just a break from school, but more importantly, it’s time spent with family. It’s a time everyone listened to each one’s story, shared on food, and cared for nothing else but having fun. 
My trip down nostalgia is interrupted as I glance around me again. I see other people dining, talking momentarily, but quickly bowing their heads to tinker with their phones. I think maybe if the lights are switched off, and there’s no sunlight coming in from outside, the light from everyone’s phones would be enough to see in the dark. The faint laughter coming from a few tables is overpowered by the deafening music from stereo speakers. The picture I see now is the complete opposite of how it was before. 
Truly, being present is not just being physically there at that moment. To be present is to engage.
*photo borrowed from the internet*

Darling

 

Through the darkest and murkiest of paths

Even and especially through powerful wind and rain

And the highest hikes up a sharp-edged mountain

No matter how impossible to cross and bear

Darling, we held onto each other’s hand tightly

We made each other strong – – – stronger than before

We gave each other courage – – – looking forward to each day and all its challenges

Darling, it’s never easy, but all are worthwhile with you beside me

I promise you now the same promise I gave before

To continue to be stronger when you are weak and tired

To continue to protect when you are faced with danger

To vow to always love and never let you go

To never leave your side and face every day together – – – forever and ever.

A Love Letter

I’ve never really had a proper Valentine’s Day with a significant other. Over the years, it has become significant to me for the wrong reasons: I broke up with two ex-boyfriends on two separate Valentine’s Day. One, on the day itself, and the other, a day after. I don’t really dislike the occasion, and I did what I did with my ex-boyfriends because of immaturity and lack of good timing. I have nothing against Valentine’s Day. I just have not had a good one, I guess. Sadly.

It doesn’t mean I don’t or have never cared for it though. I remember in my childhood, I would make big and small cut-out hearts from red art paper – – – the kind they teach in preschool, but a habit I carried with me until I was in college. The heart-shaped paper cut-outs would always be filled with my notes of love and thanks, which I then decorated further with more hearts and sometimes, hearts with arrows drawn across. Those hearts I’d give to close classmate friends, while the big ones, I gave to mom and dad.

My parents will be celebrating their 42nd anniversary in June. Theirs has never been the perfect union. There had been fights – – – small and terrible ones, there had been so much tears shed, and words that should not have been uttered or thought of, and there had been times when I thought they would be separating. I am so thankful they didn’t, and they never will. In fact, it was the struggles, the problems, and obstacles that made them and their union even stronger – – – that made them love each more. They held on and stuck it out despite all the struggles because of their love for us, their love for each other, and their love for the Lord.

Love. Just a couple of days ago, when dad had to undergo his prostate procedure, I witnessed yet again how strong their love is. I saw them hold each other’s hand as they prayed. I saw how mom refused to leave dad’s side as he was prepared for the procedure. I witnessed their anxieties and fear of the possibility of not being with each other anymore. I teared up at the sight of them, keeping each other in a tight embrace with the most relief and indescribable joy after being reunited again. They spent just a few hours apart, but it seemed like the longest few hours for them. A love that binds and strengthens – – – that’s what my parents have.

And that is perhaps why, despite not having an unforgettable or remarkable Valentine’s Day (yet) of my own to share, I continue to celebrate it. And why not, when I have become witness to just how great, how nurturing, how strong, and how courageous love can be – – – through my parents.

 

‘Ling (For Mom and Dad)

Through the darkest and murkiest of paths

Even and especially through powerful wind and rain

And the highest hikes up a sharp-edged mountain

No matter how impossible to cross and bear

Darling, we held onto each other’s hand tightly

We made each other strong – – – stronger than before

We gave each other courage – – – looking forward to each day and all its challenges

Darling, it’s never easy, but all are worthwhile with you beside me

I promise you now the same promise I gave before

To continue to be stronger when you are weak and tired

To continue to protect when you are faced with danger

To vow to always love and never let you go

To never leave your side and face every day together – – – forever and ever.

 

If You Have Nothing Nice To Say…

Mom and I had our haircuts the other day.

While I was having mine, and mom was waiting for me, an elderly lady came in and started chatting up my stylist. When she noticed my very short hair (I now have a pixie with an undercut), she asked my mom, “Lalaki ba yang anak mo?“(Is your child a boy?) To which my mom politely replied, “Ay, babae po.” (Oh no. She’s a girl.) I heard what she asked despite the hair blower practically screaming at my ear, but I just gave her a smile.

When I was done, she sat next to me and promptly told my stylist she wants the same haircut as mine, but also quickly added, “Kasi may nanliligaw sa akin. Para di na niya ako ligawan. Ikaw, hija, hindi ka dapat nagpapagupit ng ganyan. Hindi ka naman pala tomboy. Ganda ka pa naman.” (Because I have a suitor, whom I want to stop pursuing me. You shouldn’t be having your hair cut that way if you want someone to pursue you. It’s a shame because you are pretty and not lesbian. Your hair shouldn’t be that short.)  I was stunned, but I didn’t say anything and just smiled. There are other battles that are more worth winning.

I am very adventurous when it comes to my hair, in fact right now, I am at my shortest cut, but that does not mean I am lesbian. I am straight. I appreciate women, but I like men. I know I don’t even have to declare or explain it. No one has to really, but sometimes, people have to be told. And so what if I am? A difference in preference does not make one less of a person.

We tend to do that, don’t we? We see a man who’s more refined compared to other men, “Bakla yan.” (He’s gay.) We see a woman with short hair, “Tomboy yan.(She’s a lesbian.) We see a person who just doesn’t smile or laugh as much as most of us, “Masama ugali niyan.” (He/She is a rude person.)

We are quick to judge. We are quick to isolate. We are quick to offend. We are quick to hurt. That’s just sad.

Personally, I don’t really care what people think of me.  Everyone is entitled to his opinion anyway. I’d just like to believe I am now wise enough to know that not all opinions are important.

What Made You Happy Today?

​“What made you happy today?” 

I saw that as I was browsing through my Instagram feed. Good question. What has made me happy these past few days? I’ve spent the last couple of days feeling down, restless, and anxious. It has become a challenge to believe if I am still grateful for anything; if something still makes me happy. 

So today, I start my morning with gratitude. I am thankful for even if it’s swollen from minor irritation, I was able to open my eyes this morning and wake up. I am thankful that when I woke up, I was greeted by some of those I love: my tanders, Marshie, and my younger brother’s snoring. I am thankful that I woke up to the smell of rain, one of my favorite smells. I am thankful for life and existence, mine and of those around me. 
It is because of these that my heart is happy. ❤️