A Tribute To Many

the final moments

I heard the sad news  that Inang, my grandmother has passed away early this morning. Just like my grandfather, she wanted to go back to our ancestral home in Nueva Ecija and the night the she arrived, as if recognizing that she is already at home and everything is where it should be, she moved to the eternal plane of existence.  Inang has lived a long wonderful life, full of prayer and hopes, full of positivity and dreams. I best remember her for her soft voice and every time we visited her with my dad, she will be smiling and happy. She would whisper to our ears, “Magdasal lang tayo, lahat ay magtagumpay.” (Let us all pray that everyone will have success) She had always been a positive person and I have never heard any bad sentiments from her. She and my grandfather prayed a lot and it is because of them that I learned that the Angelus is a prayer done at a specific time in a day. They were always tuned in the AM radio, listen to some radio broadcasting series in the afternoon and by 6pm, we knew it was time to pray.

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Over the weekend, while I was walking in our neighborhood in Tiong Bahru, I saw Cecil, an old woman who fed the cats in the area. She became our friend a couple of months ago because Jose saw her daily efforts of doing this act of kindness to these stray cats. We helped her out with her chores we also helped her pay for cat castration so that they will not overpopulate. (Its the more humane thing to do here in Singapore). She told me that she and her husband has already moved out of Tiong Bahru to live nearer their son in Potong Pasir, a place quite far from where we stay now. She told me that she is still devoted to come to the neighborhood to do what she does. I smiled and said we should have dinner one of these days, she can come by the house once she is free. This gesture from me is an honest one, I see in her the kindness and determination similar to my grandmother and that is a rarity that I find here in Singapore.

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I have also started to meet up with my closest friends, to have some time with them before I go for my journey to Germany. I know for a fact that most of them will not be able to see me when I go there and there is a possibility that they too will make their own life choices while I am gone.  They might  move to another country, or move back to Manila or move to another office. The future holds so many possibilities and I would just like to capture now – you are important to me and we should celebrate our friendship before I leave.

I guess my trend of thought in this blog is this: These seemingly unconnected events remind me of the idea of leaving and living, saying goodbye and remembering. Life moves and we move with it and we just have to establish some points and say thank you to those who have made impact to our lives.We are like a human pyramid, our lives are so interconnected that when we really think about it, our success is not just ours. It is the culmination of dreams of many, acts of some and our own personal choices. Underneath our feet are the support and strength of those who love us and those who are constantly trying to help us in our goals. In this journey that I am taking, I have with me the prayers of my Inang, the steady pace of my Tatang, the hard work  and determination of my father, the pursuit of knowledge that my mother has imbibed and the love of my whole family. I have my ate’s zest for life, my ditse’s intelligence, my kuya’s practical advice and Jose’s patience, his happiness and ultimate support.

I bring with me the dreams of my landscape architect colleagues, the aspirations of those who dare to dream and the joy of those who I may not know now but are there for me when the right time comes. I have the spirit of the divine guiding me, the souls of my departed loved ones carrying me to places and I stand here not just by myself but with the hearts of many. It is with hope that I want to share my Inang’s kind words – “Magdasal lang tayo, lahat ay magtagumpay.”

Human Pyramid



A Time With Mother

I am stepping away from the topic of education for this blog and focus on the two weeks that I spent with my mom whilst she visited me in Singapore. The main purpose of her visit is because of the opening of my project but also it was my goal to give her a wonderfully relaxing time away from the difficulties of daily life. This trip is well deserved – a few months ago, my father suddenly passed away and  because of that my mom diligently travels a journey to the mountain city of Baguio to patiently endure the trauma and sadness of the court trial of my father’s demise. Aside from that, last November when her trip was supposed to happen, she was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis. DVT is a blood clot that occurs deep in the vein that makes walking unbearably painful. DVTs predominantly occur in the legs and may have no symptoms. DVT may go away naturally, but the most serious complication can affect the lungs and become a life-threatening. She was bed ridden for a couple of weeks and it took a while before she was able to fully recover her motor functions without pain. I am happy that she is able to walk again as if nothing happened.


Pinkdot mom

My mother has always been a fighter, determined to raise us kids in the highest standards of ethics and intellectual pursuits. I owe to her my determination, my desire for learning, my love of the arts, culture and current events and the passion for education which eventually made me decide to pursue a master’s degree.

For this trip, I brought her to a couple of museums, brought her to a funeral (a bit morbid but culturally enriching), showed her what PinkDot is all about, treated her for a really nice weekend in a 5-star resort, brought her to the futuristic garden that I help design and build and let her explore the city by herself in some days. I have let her experience Singapore, probably different from the usual tourist route. There are always great things about a city, there are also the not so good things and I guess that is life. It’s not what you imagined it to be but at the end of the day it remains beautiful in some way.

One night last week after a long day of exploring Sentosa and enjoying the view of the sky scrapers of Marina Bay, I spoke to her and said like this, “Mom I think at some point I will get married. I am not yet there but I probably will.”  That was the beginning of a long discussion of my plans which led to a reflection of her marriage with my father – the joys, the difficulties, the questions and the resolutions. At one point she shared with me another life, a life when she was younger, engaged to another man who was living in Canada and her decision to go there to get married and in the end, she came back to the Philippines broken-hearted but resolute that she is not supposed to marry her fiancée. I listened to her patiently realizing one thing – she is not just my mother, she is also a woman with her dreams and aspirations, a woman with a past that she can look back to, a present that she experiences and future that is unknown. She is an individual just like me. As an individual, she cannot just be seen in one mold. She is multi-faceted and real. She is not this figurative individual that I call mom which I would expect to get advice from or will prepare me food when I am at home. She may also want to live a life of meaning, pursuing what she believes is right and what she is passionate about. She can actually be a really good friend that may sometime need my advice too or alternative point of view.

Please look after mother

This thinking is so similar to the novel “Please Look After Mother” which she read and shared with me a few days ago. As the Korean author Kyung-Sook Shin wrote as thoughts of a daughter about her mother who they lost in the busy trains of Seoul:

“…I have so many dreams of my own, and I remember things from my childhood, from when I was a girl and a young woman, and I haven’t forgotten a thing. So why did we think of Mom as a mom from the very beginning? She didn’t have the opportunity to pursue her dreams, and all by herself, faced everything the era  dealt her, poverty and sadness, and she couldn’t do anything about her very bad lot in life other than suffer through it and get beyond it and live her life to the very best of her ability, giving her body and her heart to it completely. Why did I never give a thought to Mom’s dreams?”

This realization provided me a certain truth: if I see her as someone like myself, I am able to see her in a different light. Although she is a generation older than me and she has raised me to become the individual that I am now, we swim the same seas of our day-to-day life and whatever will be life like after my father’s passing, she has that same power to choose her own path to reevaluate her own purpose and life meaning. She can reinvent herself or keep herself as she is but the main thing here is that, as a child of hers and as another human being, I am here to support her and ultimately love her for who she is and who she will become, whatever that will be.

I hope that the future will bring her good things, new and exciting experiences and i hope she pursues her dream or best, create new ones. The world is hers as it is mine and I can’t wait for her to smile and say, life is still good, whatever happens.

A Reminder Video, Reminder Moment

Jose’s mother passed away a few days ago with a brain hemorrhage that occurred while she was having lunch with a friend. She was rushed to the hospital while in a coma and was  declared brain dead a few hours after the incident occurred. She was in the ICU for a certain time and Jose went to the UK to remove the ventilator from her.

I can’t seem to get away from it, although very different from my father’s own circumstances, the image of the ICU, the ventilators, the news of brain death and the final moments of life reminded me of that moment with my father when his heart fluctuated its beat and then I saw him pass away. It is strange how memories are engrained in our minds, certain triggers, certain emotions, certain events cascade to remind us of deep emotions. Today I remember very vividly the final moments of my father’s life like it was just a few minutes ago. I see in slow motion of what has occurred, how my mom held my father’s hand, how my sister knew that it was really time, how the doctors suddenly stepped back, kept quiet and let us have our moment of grief.I remember their own tears, my own sorrow, my mother’s grief.

I know dear readers, it seems like another sad blog but I guess it is my way of remembering, a way of understanding my own sorrow, my nonchalant way of dealing with my own emotions. Tomorrow, I may remember nothing again.

In memory of my father

It is strange to imagine how people deal with the passing of a loved one. I never imagined that I would react in this manner, trying to block it off most of the time thinking that life is the same and I am the same person but memories creep up on me, making me realize that this is reality – My father has passed away. Mel, a colleague of mine who has lost her mother a few years ago said to me this – “You won’t be able to predict how you would react to death because there is no pattern, there is no book to guide you. It’s just you and your feelings.” Continue reading