Christmas Card

I’m so glad to receive a Christmas card from my sister in the US. I really appreciate her effort which makes me feel I’m still an important part of her life. Blessings be upon her and her family.

Living in this digital age, we’re so used to send our holiday greetings through social media. There’s nothing wrong with. In fact, it’s good because in a matter of seconds, our messages are sent. However, since it’s easy to do, effortless it may seem, personal touch is lost.

But when you send a Christmas card with your words written by your physical hand, I’m sure the one who receives it would feel valued because of the realization that you took some of your precious time in coming up with it.

You may have received holiday greetings from someone you don’t know in facebook. Most likely, that person must have sent the same message to his hundreds of friends with its “send to all feature.” I remember having received that kind of private message when my FB was still active. To be honest, I felt like spammed since I personally don’t know the person. And the more irritating it got when I received a number of consecutive messages from different people, all whom I don’t know.

I know I must still appreciate anyhow those messages since anyway, it was the yuletide season. But the fact I got excited when my inbox was marked red when all I discovered wasn’t from the person whom I expected. It happened not only on Christmas but also on New Year, Sinulog, Valentines and Easter. So that’s one of the reasons why I deactivated my FB account. There was clutter. Most of my friends seemed like anonymous. There was no more meaning as it was like wasting my time.

What my sister did was something special. I hang her Christmas card together with our Christmas lights. I’m so amused with a sweet smile on my face staring at the baby angel illustration.

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Smile and Eat

Christmas day is two days from now while foods are pouring in, here on our table. Thank you so much to the kindness of Andrea and Janet, two of my wife’s valued clients at work.

Just simply looking at these cute Christmas cupcakes made me smile.

This budbud is like no other. The wrapping is something I’ve never seen before. It’s specially wrapped in aesthetic fashion. And when you open and eat it, hhmmmm! It’s just so deliciously filipino. The light sticky feel into your mouth as you chew it with the sweet taste of the rice really made my day. I had to eat another one and another one… I think I was able to consume more than 4 pieces, of course, not in a single day. All I could say was, “Lamia gyud ani uy!” which means, it’s really yummy!

Since I’m a health conscious person, I tend to abstain from eating sweet foods but I said to myself, “What the heck! It’s the happiest season of the year! C’mon, give me a break!”

What I’m saying is eat what you really want. Give in to what your taste buds are craving for. Indulge in your most desired food once in a while. As long as you do it in moderation, you’ll just be fine.

I must say that eating a good food is one of the most satisfying activities I could ever do. Oftentimes, my problems are set aside evertime I eat. Then after, my mind gets cleared up as I feel energized and ready to face my problems and overcome them one by one.

As the famous movie title goes, “Eat, pray and love.” It is as if EAT is the first one you should do before anything else. In the film, the lead star just didn’t eat, she even travelled to Italy just to eat her most desired food in a famous pizza city.

Feel Good in Forgiving

Forgiveness might be too far to connect if we’re talking about happiness but on my end, it has its dynamics that both can go together.

I used to stay away from my dad before as much as possible because he kept reminding me of the pain he inflicted on me in the past.

When I was in College, we had a heated argument. Both of us had its own fault to be blamed but what I couldn’t accept was the fact he tried to stab me with a knife. If my mom wasn’t there to stop him from doing so, I could have been killed. Crying in fear, she prevented him by wrapping tightly her arms around his waist and pulled him away from me. I was utterly shocked. I just couldn’t believe that my very own dad had the intention and guts to kill his very own son.

Thereafter, I ran away from home. Mom begged me to come back as I was always moved by her great motherly concern.

After the incident, dad and I had a cold war until he wrote me a letter expressing his regret while asking for forgiveness. Who am I not to forgive him? But human as I am, I couldn’t forget what he did. What happened had brought us apart away from each other emotionally. I hate to admit that I lost my love for him. What remained is my respect.

Moving forward to the present… Now that he’s alone without mom, slowly my forgiveness for him has grown into compassion. Since my house is attached to his house, I have all the opportunity to watch for him, making sure he gets to eat his food and that everything is alright with him even he cries once in a while over his continued sadness on mom’s death.

This afternoon, I accompanied him again in buying some groceries. I observed with the way he talked to me, he seemed so thankful that I’m taking care of him. Although I haven’t done much but every time I agrees to go out with him, he appreciates it a lot as if he couldn’t believe that the one he tried to kill before is still a son for him.

I realize that when you forgive without anymore a trace of anger, respect progresses. And if you allow events to bring you together, compassion follows when love commences, bringing you joy.

You are the Holy Trinity

My wife and I serve dad’s daily meals. I always drive him wherever he goes. I’ve been doing it out of compassion but recently I observe, without him knowing, he’s already making me happy. It’s strange but it’s true. I guess the happiness he’s bringing is the opportunity for me to love him unconditionally. And I thank him for this opportunity because the universe is allowing me to repair the damages done I did to other people. This is what I meant when I said in my previous post: “In order to make me feel good in spite of what’s happening around me, I have to be nice to others by being forgiving…”

Why do I Give Tips?

I give tip to my barber whom I have my hair cut twice in a month. I give tip to the vulcanizing guy. I give tip to anyone who assist me when I drive out from the parking area. Just two days ago, I gave tip to the car wash boy which made him smile after sweating it out in cleaning well my car. My wife and I give tips to our masseuses. Almost everyone, when someone services me, on top of the regular payment, I give tip which is oftentimes higher that what they usually receive from their customers.

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I know I did bad things before. One of the ways I repair the damages done is by being extra kind to other people. I always believe that We Are All One. Whatever kindness I demonstrate to other people, whether a stranger or not, it’s virtually the same act I show to the ones I hurt before. So in that manner, I’m somehow continually repairing the damages done.

I feel good giving tips as I feel relieved in the sense that the universe is mysteriously working to bless me but if not, at least to protect me and my family. Since I’m always on the road on a daily basis, undeniably there’s this anxiety which comes to my mind. In our city, I winess road accidents and the only thing I can do is to pray and wish them recovery and for those who died, peace to their souls…

In order to make me feel good in spite of what’s happening around me, I have to be nice to others by being extra kind, forgiving (which I’ll write separately in my next post) and by giving tips. Although scientifically, it can’t be proven that the blessings and protection I get is due to my acts of generosity but I insist it’s the case. When I insist, I’m programming my mind to be placed in this reality. And you know what means… Whatever you think consistently, it will come into reality.

Angkas and Habal-habal

I observed that one of outcomes of happiness is a feeling of relief.

I’ve been using Angkas for the past months. For those who are not yet familiar with the service, it’s a mobile App where you can book an affordable motorcycle service for a fixed price based on your location and destination. This kind of transport service is widely patronized especially here in Metro Cebu because commuters can beat the traffic to more than 65%. Not only that, drivers are highly trained professionals as every passenger is covered with accident insurance.

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However, as of today, their service is still suspended by our government. There are a lot of issues to debate from both sides. Yet, I was able to use their service yesterday even drivers face arrest if caught. The driver told me that it’s the management who would pay for the penalties since there’s a possibility that the final court ruling would favor their side.

A while ago, I was hoping I can still continue to use their service but their App says otherwise. It seems to me that someone (a competitor in the transport business) is technically trying to pin them down.

So I was forced to call for those motorcycle drivers at the road for a ride. They’re called habal-habal. This isn’t part of the Angkas service but they have been illegitimately operating for so many years even way back before mobile phones were born. Illegitimate in the sense that this kind of transport has never been legalized but ordinary commuters would sometimes patronize them over the usual taxi cars which are costly. But according to the news, the government is also apprehending these habal-habal drivers in order to be fair with Angkas.

I thought I can never get a motorcycle ride. If I take Jeepney, our public transport, I know I’ll be stuck in the worsening traffic of our city… I had to be there at the car aircon shop before their closing time at 5pm. I miss my car so bad and I hope it’s completely repaired. I can’t wait for another day.

While trying to look for a habal-habal driver, after few minutes, I was so relieved I found one. Thank God! He brought me fast and safe to my destination. I gave him 100 pesos which was higher to what we had agreed. He smiled and said, “Salamat kaayo, sir.” It means, thank you very much.

P. S. Sa mga sumusuporta ng Angkas, merong online petition sa Twitter: #SaveAngkas

Healing the Past

One of the biggest blocks in achieving happiness is the memory of a painful past. I realize that the past is always a part of us. I thought I can forget the past but I just can’t. It stays. However, I can purify it, meaning, I can’t let the past hinder me in enjoying and appreciating the joy of living. The past is just there, like a sleeping dog. When it barks, I can just tame it and let it behave.

I must disclose that one of my wounds in the past is a painful conflict with my Dad. Although I had long forgiven him but seeing him from time to time would involuntarily make me remember what happened between the two of us during my younger years. When I started to raise my own family, bringing them to our home, there were instances that he emotionally hurt my kids. So my wound was revived.

Last Friday, my son, Lecarre told me to invite Dad for his graduation. At first, I was hesitant but I knew my son just wanted all of us to be happy, leaving behind on what happened before. I was touched by his unconditional kindness.

So I approached Dad and invited him. I was surprised when he suddenly cried, saying, “Wa gyud kaabot si Momy sa graduation ni Lecarre!” What he meant that my mother, who passed away last September, had never reached her grandson’s graduation.

Dad’s genuine act melted me. I thought he never valued my sons. I thought only mom cared for my offspring.

On the next day,  he proved himself. He woke up early which he rarely used to do. He prepared himself just to attend my son’s graduation. He even told me that he was supposed to wear Barong if I wear the same kind of outfit. He didn’t bother the heat inside the car as the aircon broke down again. He didn’t mind the long traffic getting inside the campus. He patiently waited for the graduation rites to be over. He gladly posed with us during the family picture and during lunch celebration.

Last Sunday, I saw my younger son, Lance, talking to my dad. It seemed they were conversing fondly.

I realize life has a clever way in putting things back in order where the pain of the past is gradually healed.  We just have to allow the happy events to flow so the painful past is purified.

Black and White Closet

Allowing Others’ Joy

Last night, we were invited for a dinner with the family of Melody.

Who is Melody? She’s the undisclosed girlfriend of my son, Lecarre. Undisclosed in the sense that he never admitted that they’re into such love relationship until last night.

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Melody had been the classmate of my son since first year college. Both of them graduated yesterday of the same course, same school. So you can imagine how close they are which included they oftentimes belonged into the same class groupings.

However, Melody’s parents didn’t allow her to be entering into love relationship for it might disturb her studies. During dinner, her parents opened something which really amused me and my wife. To make the long story short, Melody’s wish to say “yes” to my son’s courting was recently aproved by her dad just this week since they’re already both graduating.

I used to carry my son in my arms when he was just a little baby.  We used to play with his younger brother in the room acting like i’m a horse as they cheerfully rode on my body. Now that he’s 20 years old, full pledged college graduate with honor in the field of Information and Communications Technology, having a pretty nice respectful girlfriend, i guess my happiness is doubled.

My wife told me that this could be the beginning of her bitter sweet pain or melancholy, realizing the part in life where we slowly let go of our offspring so they can do things on their own while pursuing their dreams.

On my part, i must admit i also feel melancholic but part of happiness, i guess, is letting go.  Letting go means not possessing anyone. My wife and i had done our part in fully raising our son to the best we can. In fact, it’s our responsibility to do that. But seeing him, having successfully accomplished his education and not only that, having found the right girl in his life, happiness is more meaningful. I realize i can never be truly happy if i don’t see other people happy too. And how much more if this person is my very own full bloodied son!

P. S. Sa isip ko, talagang bagay silang dalawa. Sigurado ko na ang magiging anak nila ay maganda at matalino rin.

Having an Offspring

Having an offspring is one of life’s greatest joys. In fact, I can now declare that it’s my greatest joy… Yesterday, I was informed by my eldest son, Lecarre, that he got the Cum Laude award.

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My heart leaped for joy as I hugged him. Later today will be their College graduation ceremony. On the other hand, I felt a bit of nostalgia for my mom who passed away last September. She could have attended my son’s graduation. It was her fervent wish to go up to the stage and hang a medal for her loved ones. Although I never got a single award in my school years but this could be the time where she could do it for her grandson.

Now I understand better why mom consistently wished for it. This is how it feels when all of my hard work to generate money in order to pay for my son’s tuition has finally reaped its rewards. Although honestly, it’s already enough for me to see my son finishes College but undeniably, the level of happiness is really this deep and great when he excels in his chosen field, for I intuitively envision he will be more successful outside those classrooms.

The more my happiness gets to be beautifully meaningful when he expressed his excitement to see me and my wife to get up on stage so we can put the medal around his neck. I realize more than ever before that having an offspring completes my happiness of living in this world.

The younger brother, Lance is his best friend. Having two sons in my family is a perfect package which life has given to me. Whoever is behind this, God or any Divine Being, I’m so grateful. I can’t ask for more.

P. S. Etong dalawa kong anak, mabait at matalino. Mga guwapo pa!

The Ripple Effect of Giving a Tip

Yesterday, my car didn’t start. Then I found out, the battery wasn’t working. It’s just one year old and three months when it’s supposed to last for more than two years. I checked on its warranty card. Thank God, it has a 21 month warranty replacement. My wife called the store where we bought it.

After more than an hour waiting, the man from the store arrived with a brand new replacement. I told him about the usual life span of the battery. He said mine is an isolated case. I must admit it caused an inconvenience not only on my part but also to my wife. I wasn’t able to send her to work on time.

For a normal person, he would be upset about this situation. Obviously, the man shouldn’t be blamed about this since he’s just working for the company. Surely, he wasn’t the one who manufactured the battery.

However, I responded to the incident in a different manner. After the replacement, I gave him a 100 peso tip. He was a bit surprised. He gave me a happy smile, sincerely thanking me. I don’t know if he had experienced this before but I know I’ve been doing this for many times to different people.

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Weeks ago, when my car aircon broke down, I had it returned for a back job. Although they were able to fix it, of course, without a charge, I still gave the servicemen some tip. They seemed to be ashamed knowing they shouldn’t be given a tip for a job not well done for the first time. But I know deep in their hearts, I gave them a different kind of lesson.

Giving tip, for me, is important. Not only it can make someone happy, but the act of giving extra is sending a message that they should continue doing their job well or in another circumstance, they should be able to do their job well in all cases, whoever their customer may be.

Tip giving ultimately is making the person enlightened and touched by the kindness he received. From then on, a ripple effect is created, causing that person to be kind to others as well. This means making more people happy in the long run.

The Importance of Symbols

Today is the actual return of the Balangiga bells from the US to our country after it was taken in 1901 by the American soldiers as war trophy.

My countrymen in Samar are so happy about it. You might ask, “What’s so special about that thing?” It essentially a symbol of our Catholic faith, reminding us on the call of parishioners to pay homage to God inside the church. Although God is found everywhere but recognizing His presence in a special place such as in a church is man’s nature to see a representation of someone Divine who can’t be seen.

My beloved Mom passed away last September but her presence lives concretely in me as long as I have this gold necklace she gave me. So if this is stolen, it’ll be painful for me. But when this is return, it’s gonna be a great joy for me.

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Symbolism is a very important part in our lives. We live in a world filled with mysteries and unseen beings but when there’s something which we can lay our eyes and hand upon, then it’s already enough for us that we feel assured of their presence. That’s why we have to respects anyone’s belief regarding sacred places and objects. We should never criticize anyone’s faith no matter how weird or nonsense it may be. Symbols help us connect to what we’re longing for and when we find the connection, life’s emptiness is filled up.

I have this rosary hung on the rear view mirror of my car. When I want to ease away my anxiety on the road, I just touch it and it seems I then feel alright, as if God and His angels are protecting me wherever I go. I know it doesn’t mean that if I’m unable to touch it, something bad might happen to me. Touching the object is simply a reminder that everything is just gonna be fine.