Posted in Dyurnal: Kuwento ng Sarili

Lumingong Saglit

Madalas akong maniwala na kapag minsan mong pinahalagahan ang isang tao, lilipas ang mga araw, buwan o taon, makakakilala ka ng marami at bagong tao,magmamahal uli at magpapahalaga ng iba, pero, hindi mawawala kung ano ang una mong nadama. Nandiyan lang yan, hindi nabura, natabunan lang, natakpan, kaya niluma. Niluma, at iba ang niluma sa nawala.

Kilala ko siya mula pagkabata. Kalaro ng habulan, tagu-taguan. Katawanan. Kapikunan. Kakilala niya ang mga kakilala ko, katawanan ang mga katawanan ko. pero magkalayo ang mundo. nasa loob ng iisang grupo, pero daig pa ang estranghero. normal lang ang tuksuhan lalo na kung bata. ayon nga lang, kung panay na lang ang “pag-uuuuuuuyyyyy” ng mga tao sa paligid mo, at kahit alam mong hindi naman totoo, naiirita at naiilang ka rin.

Pero di ko naman sukat akalain na mas nakakairita pala kapag alam mo na wala ka nang maitatanggi pa. Na lumipas na ang panahon, tumanda na kayo pareho, nabaon na sa limot ng mga kababata niyo ang panunukso nila, tapos doon mo maiisip na sa pagitan pala ng noon at ngayon, ay may naramdaman ka nga para sa kaniya.

Napakarami kong tanong. Nagsimula sa ‘ano bang pinagsisintir at pinagmumukmok ko?’ Noong araw na umalis siya ng lugar namin para magpalawak ng kaniyang mundo. dalawang taon pa ang gugugulin ko noon sa hayskul at siya ay magsisimula nang gumuhit sa bagong pahina ng buhay niya. sabi ko, lilipas din ito, lilipas din kasi ang mga araw at maookupa ang buhay ko ng maraming bagay at mananatili lamang siya bilang alaala ng isang kalaro, kakilala.

Kaso nasundan pa ng maraming tanong. Ano bang nangyari? Bakit hindi ko na siya makausap? Bakit siya ganun? Bakit ako ganito? Bakit parang ibang tao na nga siya? Bakit mukha akong tanga kapag nakaharap siya? Bakit ako humahakbang lagi palayo? Bakit hindi ko na siya mangitian na gaya ng dati? Bakit kahit ilang taon na ang dumaan, ilang tao na ang nakilala ko, ilang bagay na ang nangyari sa akin, umalis din ako ng Pangasinan para magpalawak ng mundo, wala pa ring nabago sa akin at parepareho pa rin ang tanong?

Sa ngayon, naiisip ko na lang, masyado na akong matanda para sa mga bagay na ganito. eh ano kung wala akong mahagilap na mga sagot para sa mga tanong na ito o sa kung anupamang mga tanong ang pag-aksayahang mabuo ng malikot kong utak. naiisip ko, para bang kakornihan na lang lahat ito kumpara sa napakaraming bagay na dapat ay pinoproblema ko. O sa napakaraming bagay na dapat kong isipin, gawin, panabikan. Sa ilang linggo na lang ay ga-graduate na kami, magsisipaghanap ng trabaho.

Maraming mangyayari sa buhay ko, at siguradong maraming bagay rin ang mangyayari at darating pa sa buhay niya, at dapat hindi ko na pag-isipan pa ang mga tanong na nagsasangkot sa kaniya. Kaso kahapon, sabi ng mama niya, magtatapos raw siya ngayong araw. Para bang nauntog ako’t nahilo. Dinagsa na naman kung anu-anong kakornihan ang utak ko.

At bigla akong bumalik sa ilang taong nagdaan. Bumalik doon sa minsang, naiwan kaming lahat na mga bata na walang ginagawa kaya nagkayayaang maglaro na lang ng habulan. siya ang taya at ayaw kong magpahuli sa kaniya. Inasar ko siya kasi hindi niya ako maabutan. iyon ang huling pagkakataong hindi ako nahiyang makipag-asaran sa kaniya, ang huling pagkakataong nakalaro ko siya. Bumalik ako sa walong taon bago ang araw na ito. iyon ang huling beses na tinawag niya ako sa pangalan ko, at hindi ako natakot lumingon sa kaniya at gumanti ng ngiti. iyon na ang huli.

Bumalik ako sa mga lumipas na taon, at naisip ko, na hindi naman siguro masama na maging masaya ko para sa kaniya. Dahil oo, masaya ako para sa kaniya. ano na ba iyong nasabi ko kanina? Niluma? Bigla naging bago ang mga alaala. pero hanggang doon na lang iyon.

Masaya ako para sa kaniya at ayos lang kahit hindi na niya malaman pa. Ayos na iyon. Magbabago na uli ang takbo ng mundo niya, at gayun din naman ang sa akin. Kung sa pagitan ng ngayon at sa bukas, ay aksidente o magkataong mapagtagpo uli ang mundo namin, bilang dating magkalaro, ayos lang din naman. nawa’y pag nangyari iyon, ay mangitian ko na siya na gaya ng dati, na gaya ng noon, at maetsapuwera na lang ang anupamang tanong kong hindi nasagutan.

(Isinulat ko ito taong 2008. Gusto ko lang ibalik at bumalik.)

Posted in Dyurnal: Kuwento ng Sarili

Disparagement

When eyes reveal what the lips have been trying to hide
When eyes reveal what the lips have been trying to hide

My name is Jahwella I am broken and my past can attest to that.

I am still that little girl with pigtailed hair, black front teeth and socks that rise up to her knees who sits and stays at the farthest corner of a room, silently stares at everyone but whose eyes are forced to look down at the floor when someone stares back at her.

I have never tried to put up a fight against myself or the past. I have never tried to wrestle with any of them though they keep on feeding me with nothing but lies. I have never tried, though I have aspired, to look at myself in a different way.

I am an only child. My father’s a senior machinist for more than ten years before he died. My mother has always been a busy housewife, always preoccupied with domestic chores. Most of the people I met thought I had a great life, that I was used to getting everything I wanted – dolls, jigsaw puzzles, lovely dresses, chocolates, warm embraces, undivided attention, love. And I would always scoff at them and at whatever they thought I had. Though I did not have a terrible childhood, I knew, I was never special and had never gotten close to being one.

I was six when I first went to school. I could write the letters of the alphabet better than my classmates could, I could solve math problems faster and more accurately than anyone could, and I could read sentences more clearly than they could. I became the star of my class and I would oftentimes hear my classmates’ parents telling my mother how brilliant her child is.

My other skills shone more brightly by the time I reached my second year in grade school. I was nudged further into the limelight. I became an orator, a little singer who would often be tasked to entice the parents during meetings and card days, a smart kid who would represent the school in different events and competitions. I was the star. But my light didn’t last for long. It was inundated by unraveling thoughts while I was growing up and was finally extinguished the moment I went out of my shell.

Not long after I entered high school, I completely understood the descriptions that were repeatedly connected to my name. I was the good orator, the smart kid, the proficient reader. All of those were meant to highlight my skills, were all about the things people thought I was capable of doing, but never about how I looked.

I knew then, that in this world, no amount of praises could hide the despicable truth – I am ugly.

Posted in Dyurnal: Kuwento ng Sarili

My ‘Sand and Gravel’ Experience

This summer, I was given the privilege to help in putting up a Remote Translation Office in a city near us. This is where our bible-based publications will be translated from English to Pangasinan, the dialect used in our place. The work commenced last March and is expected to be finished by December this year. To accomplish that target, many were called on to volunteer and help. Volunteers, whoever will be moved to share their skills, time and energy will be working with the team formed and assigned in this project. The team is composed of both men and women from different provinces in the Philippines. They are accompanied by skilled individuals from other countries like Australia, Canada and Germany. They have been working, rain or shine, without any compensation; devoting their time for a project that will eventually be an aid to help more people learn more about the bible.

For 11 consecutive Tuesdays, I served as one of those volunteers. Armed with a jacket, a pair of gloves, a hard hat and with what most of my friends call an almost man-like strength, I spent those days doing jobs which are usually performed by men – lugging sacks (sometimes pails) of sand, rock or cement, shoveling… – things that I have never thought I could do. It was an ecstatic experience weightier than winning an award in a literary contest or joining seminars that allow me to listen to well-known broadcast journalists. Moreover, it has left me with lessons I can always apply wherever I am. For now, I will only mention two of those lessons.

1. Never be afraid of meeting new faces.
Strange or new faces may sometimes rattle us. The thought of talking to them may seem challenging especially for those who don’t feel comfortable starting a conversation. But there’s a solution to that – smile! My friends and I come to the site every Tuesday, and we are always separated from each other once we’re already there. For several times, I have been assigned to work under the supervision of a person I don’t know, and who knows nothing about me, and for several times too I got cold feet. But I learned flashing a smile, a genuine smile doesn’t hurt. You are opening your doors to wonderful thoughts and uplifting conversations when you’re smiling. You don’t always need to be the first one to utter a word, but a smile can send others a signal that you are willing to get to know them.


2. When you’re already on top, it’s ok to look down.

I was also given tasks which required me to stay on top of scaffolding while working. It’s not always easy. The higher the scaffolding, the more worried I would become. If climbing up to the top of the scaffolding seemed difficult for me, staying there was more difficult. I have always dreaded the idea of me slipping or the scaffolding’s stands crumbling beneath me. One of the workers told me “Huwag kang titingin sa baba” (Don’t look down) and for some time, I paid heed to that advice. But I realized that looking down has always reminded me too of the need to make my feet steady or to be more careful with my movements; otherwise, I would fall and hit the ground. This is somewhat similar to how we deal with the high points in life, with our own victories or successes. Many forget to look back once they’re already on top and to some extent lose sight on their so-called humble beginnings. Some forget the people who helped them when they’re still trying to achieve their goals, and that’s the worst thing a person can ever do. Looking back at our past struggles may not really be that bad. Doing so might even teach us humility and courage.

I went back to work (I am teacher) in June and I didn’t get the chance to work again at the site since then. But I will never forget that experience as well as the fact that it changed me.

Posted in Dyurnal: Kuwento ng Sarili

Last Words

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They say parents will never be infallible. They will have to fall short on some things. They may always want to give their children the best of all things but they cannot. But you Papa did try to do just that. I was six , and you would travel from Manila to Pangasinan every Sunday so you would be able to give me lessons on riding a bike. There would be rides in the town plaza and you would make sure I would get to ride on the “tsubibo” (ferris wheel) and the “pusit-pusit” (octopus ride). You bought me dolls and puzzles and yoyos, and water guns and I gave you hugs and kisses in return. You would buy me burger on the afternoon and cook arrozcaldo for me for breakfast though Mama kept on telling you not to. Mama’s just afraid such gestures would spoil me but you said, those were gestures of love which I just deserved to have.

 

They say parents do not have the knowledge on all things, that contrary to the most popular notions, parents really do not know the best for their children, but still insist on helping their children have the best and the least painful experiences. That is why you Papa were there when I could barely fight for myself; I was only six-month old, and I was sick, needles were thrust into my scalp so my little yet strong hands won’t pluck them out. You would stay up the whole night and watch me sleep and shun away mosquitoes wanting to land on my skin and take a sip of my precious blood.  I would keep on crying and though you know it wasn’t the doctors’ or the nurses’ faults, you would still yell at them and fight for me.

They say parents should sometimes have to discipline their children with a rod, to reasonably punish them when they have done something wrong, and Papa, though you really didn’t want to do it, you did for my own sake. I was eight and I hit one of my playmates with my slipper and she got hurt and you knew I have to realize the consequences of my actions. You called me and hit me with the same slipper I used to hurt my playmate. I cried but you did not hold back. But I heard it in your voice and in your eyes, you were hurt more than I was.

 

They say parents are the happiest when their children managed to make the most out of their lives, out of the rare chances they were given and despite dire circumstances, survived and became successful. Maybe that was why you were smiling when you went up the stage with me to receive my gold medal when I was six; while you were watching Mama as she accompanied me to receive my award as an honor pupil when I was 12; when I handed you my diploma, when I was 20 and was proclaimed a certified UP graduate. You thought that all of your efforts to give me a better future had already paid off.

 

They say parents really do not want to see their children suffering, or feeling sad or worried or bothered for shallow causes.Was that your reason for not telling Mama and me that you had not been feeling well for such a long time now, that you felt sick and weak, that you weren’t getting enough sleep?

 

I was 23, I already have a job and was about to show you that somehow, I managed to achieve my dreams; I was about to pay you back for everything you had done for me, but you got sick and though you did not want us to be bothered and worried, we terribly were. You had undergone one major surgery. You spent seven hours inside the operation room and we spent seven hours praying and sobbing, asking that One up there to give us one more chance to see you smile or get angry at us, hear your rants, your dreams.

 

They say that the least thing parents would want to do is to leave the people they love. Their prime concern is to provide their family with their needs, selfless and unconditional love. But you Papa, you left me, you left Mama. You left us without even saying or kissing us goodbye. We were in the hospital fighting for your life. On our fourth night, you told us to sleep for a while. We did not sleep the last night, you said Mama and I need to take some rest. We wanted to stay awake but just as how a famous line goes “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” we fell asleep and you left us as quietly as you can. And no matter how raucously I yelled at you or at the doctors or at the nurses, you Papa, didn’t open your eyes. You stopped breathing the moment I hugged you. And I will never forgive you for that Papa. Never.

 

I will be earning my MA when I’m 25 and you won’t be there to hear the good news or to see me reap the good produce of the efforts I have exerted. I will be working as a regular employee in the institution I am currently a part of when I’m 26 and you won’t be there to congratulate me. I will be meeting the right man when I turn 26 and will be getting married a year after but you won’t be there to see and accompany me as I walk down the aisle, you won’t be there to tell that man “Please take care of my daughter” with your teary but jovial eyes. I will be giving birth to my first child when I’m 28 and you won’t be there to kiss your first grandson, you won’t be there to see me teach him the same values you have inculcated in me. For you Papa left Mama and me when we weren’t yet ready.

 

And you will never comprehend the pain you have caused us both. I will never forgive you Papa for making me feel like this and for making me say all these things. I will never forgive you the way I will never forgive death for taking away the best man I ever met. I will never forgive you just as how I will never forgive myself for not being able to forgive the only man I loved and admired the most.

Posted in Dyurnal: Kuwento ng Sarili

When Things Turn Silver

I turned 25 last July. Finally I have reached that phase of my life where I can rightly call myself an adult. And the fact that I reached this stage without engaging into any sort of juvenile delinquency or worse getting into prison makes me ecstatic and really proud of myself.

In spite of the happiness, I can’t help but recall some of vows and plans I made when I was still young, that apparently didn’t materialize – house, car, husband, stable job and wonderful kids. I was in high school then when I told myself I would have attained all those things by the time I reach 25.

I have a job, a satisfying one. I actually started working two months before I graduated from college. I couldn’t pronounce myself financially stable though for I still have to seek financial help at times. I have become a college instructor though I didn’t plan of becoming a teacher when I was still young. My profession is enabling me to reach hearts, touch and change lives. For the record, I love what I’m doing, I love teaching. But that doesn’t change the fact that my job doesn’t really pay much. I am still struggling everyday to make ends meet. I still beg Mama for help so that I can pay my phone bills and that’s the good thing about living with your parents though you’re already 25 – financial support is always within reach. The thing is, I’m still struggling so no, I’m not yet stable as far as financial matters are concerned. And yes, I don’t have my own house yet. I am still sleeping in the same bed my parents bought for me when I graduated from elementary. I still eat dinner at the same table my parents and I used to sit at to eat and talk about different stuff when I was still in high school. I still use the same bathroom every day.

I was also in high school then when I told myself I would be getting married at 25 and I was so certain when I said that. I even told a friend that if such would not happen, then I would stay single for the rest of my life. Believe me, I did say that. I’m already 25 and nobody’s there to ask for my hand in marriage. In fact, I have never gotten into any romantic relationship yet since then. I have been close to some good guys in the past yes, but I haven’t really come by someone whom I want to be romantically involved with and someone who wants to be romantically involved with me as well. My college years were filled with fun – passing an exam, receiving good grades, sleeping over at a friend’s house, traveling to different places, joining a band and having gigs. I was having so much fun while doing my responsibilities as a student that I didn’t feel the necessity of being in a romantic relationship. And from the time I went home to our province and started teaching, no guy has shown real interest in me. Some friends and colleagues even told me I should start mingling with new faces so that I could meet new people (and when they say people, they’re pertaining to potential boyfriends) but no, I’m not the type who would go to parties or other events for that purpose. I’d rather stay at home and read books. 

I am 25 and haven’t obtained any of the things I said I would have already obtained by the time I reach this stage. Pero ganoon naman talaga siguro ang buhay. Life indeed has its own way of surprising you. Though my original plans didn’t materialize, it doesn’t mean I didn’t achieve anything. The truth is, life has helped me achieve a lot of things I never thought I would be capable of achieving. I became a professional and licensed teacher though I am not an Education graduate. I took the Licensure Exam for Teachers in 2010 and immediately passed. I have taught and mothered a thousand of students already and this brought me so much joy.

I am 25. I am single. I still live with my mother. (My father died last year.) I’m happy that I am. And I don’t feel anxious about me getting older again next year. I still believe in this adage (which I also impart with others): “Walang masama sa pagtanda basta may pinagkatandaan.” (There is nothing wrong about getting old. What matters most is that we’ve learned something.)

 

(I wrote this in 2012 and first posted it in Tumblr.)

Posted in Dyurnal: Kuwento ng Sarili

Chastisement

The question is, do I get mad at myself?
And the answer would be plain and simple. I do, even if I don’t want to.
I do for several reasons. I get mad at myself more than I do when my students give me stupid answers during discussions or when the mailman fails to bring in the bills on time.

Just like any human being who well knows he’s fallible but still endeavors to conquer his flaws and attain perfection in anything he is immensely passionate about, I want to overcome whatever blemishes I have. And when I get defeated by my own weaknesses, I whip myself unceasingly and lock it up in a figurative urn of mortification until I get the courage again to face and fight my own flaws.

That’s how I teach myself not to settle for less. I get mad at myself at times just to persuade it that if it wants to succeed, it needs to work harder, it needs to do better than what it did and exert more than what it exerted the last time.

When I forget to discuss one important concept with my students in their Mass Media Law and Ethics class, when I can’t find the right English term for an idea I want to express, when I can’t talk as fluently or as profoundly as others do, or when someone I care about fails to notice me or worse, leaves me for another person, I get mad at myself and blame it endlessly.

While others say, it’s ok for bad things to happen, they’re inevitable, I refuse to listen. I would tell myself, bad things happen but they could have been prevented only if I had known and done better.

I curse myself for not being able to read more books when I was still in grade school when it dawns on me that my students know something that I have not encountered yet; I blame my face and my complexion when a person I adore fails to notice me. And others do not know this, but I tell myself there’s nothing special about me that’s why no one on this earth would ever notice me.

The next question is, does it help?

And the answer now is no longer that plain and simple. It does help, but it oftentimes hurts especially when people around you tell you you’re great or pretty awesome at something, and you refuse to let yourself be convinced by such compliments.

Because sometimes I go overboard that I can already hardly see the excellence of my works, the greatness of my efforts, the worth of my skills, the pleasantness of my being. I forget that I am not really perfect and that I just have to do what I am capable of.

So the next question now is, should we whip ourselves when we lose in a battle we engaged ourselves into or when we fail to easily reach the pedestal we want ourselves to be?

My answer would be this: There’s a big difference between reasonably getting mad at ourselves for some shortcomings and deliberately disparaging or even abandoning ourselves just because we are imperfect.

For the truth is, no amount of victory or success or excellence or praise from other people would surmount the trust and love we can give to ourselves. At the end of the day, when all the glitters and yells and clapping of the hands are done and gone, the only person that will give you a pat on the back, who will still welcome you back with open arms though you’re wounded and broken, the only loyal partner you will have…
is YOU.