Friday, September 27, 2013

Get Up…

   Olivia, a Filipina was abandoned in the Philippines by her Filipino husband of 23 years.  He ran off to the US to marry another Filipina.  She raised their children and got them through college without any support from her runaway husband.  

   At 51 she was alone with two sons married and one daughter abroad.  In her loneliness she dated an American and married him after three years.  She joined him in the US, got her ‘green card’ and got a job in a bank.  During the height of the mortgage crisis of 2008, Olivia was diagnosed with kidney disease.  She will require regular hemodialysis.  Her American husband panicked over finances and divorced her.  She found herself alone again after only 3 years of marriage.

   She thought at least she had her job to fall back on.  Unfortunately, a corporation which has hundreds of thousands of employees can self-insure to avoid paying the cost of commercial insurance.  To keep the losses at a minimum they fire employees that would require expensive medical treatment.  Within a year on dialysis, Olivia was fired for “unsatisfactory performance” after four years of employment in the bank.

   Three years after her divorce Olivia still lived in the same zip code as her American ex-husband who wondered what she was hanging around for.  Why not go home to the Philippines and die in the arms of her countrymen or join her cousins in California?  

   He would never have guessed the reason in a million years.  A lesson from Olivia’s grandmother says “Kung saan ka nadapa doon ka babangon.”  Literally it meant ‘you rise where you fall’.  Symbolically it meant bloodied, beat or dying you let your enemy see you stand.

   Olivia is just one of the many Filipina survivors abroad who by the nature of her country, the culture of her people and God’s great mercy seems unbeatable by Satan’s prevailing system.  “…the ruler of the world is coming and he has no hold on me…” (John 14:28-30)

See also:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Dream

   Sheryl had a dream where she sat on a large square rock under a tree wearing a white robe.  She saw in some distance many people dressed similarly in groups.  Before she could make sense of why she was there and why she was dressed that way, a man walked up to her casually dressed in yellow tee shirt and black pants saying “Miss, isn’t your name Sheryl?”  

   Sheryl looked up at the man standing beside her and saw that he was smiling with beautiful teeth and dimples.  She recognized that it was Enrico, the love of her life she lost to US immigration twenty years ago.  With her eyes on his face she woke up and cried.  When she replayed the dream in her head, some questions came to mind.  What was that place that looked like a park?  Who were all those people dressed in white robes like ghosts  Why was every one dressed in white except Enrico who was wearing colored regular clothes?  Did the dream have a message?  What was the dream trying to tell her?  

   As a catholic she was told from childhood that dead people came back as ghosts dressed in white robe.  Did her white robe in the dream mean she was going to die?  Why was Enrico the only one not in white?  Sheryl told her dreams to friends hoping someone could come up with an idea that would make sense, none could offer any insight.  

   Two years quickly passed.   She found out over the internet that Enrico has died three years prior.  The dream made a bit of sense except that everyone in white like she was, was actually alive and Enrico who was the only one wearing regular clothes was the only one deceased.  

   Still one puzzle remained.  Why would he say “Isn’t your name Sheryl?”  Surely he could not have forgotten her.  His eyes showed recognition.  He must have been teasing her like he used to when they were dating.  

   Twelve years ran like water changing everything in its path.  Sheryl has immigrated to America hoping the travel would dull the pain of losing Enrico to death, a final blow to her undying hope for a reconnection.  

   When the Immigration form asked if she wished to change her name, Sheryl decided to make her pen name she used in her writing as her legal name.  She took the oath for her US citizenship under her new name, Samantha Galvez.  

   The first time Sheryl heard someone called her by her new name she realized what the remaining puzzle in the dream meant.  On the resurrection of the dead Enrico recognized her but had to ask because her tombstone bears the name Samantha Galvez.  "...all those in the memorial tombs will...come out..." (John 5:28-29)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mother Said...

My mother 

   Every daughter who has had interaction with her mother brings into her own family a truck load of information one would not find in Google.  Samples are as follows:

 “When sautéing bitter melon (Ampalaya) you have to smile the whole time to remove the bitter taste.”    Much later in life the daughter learned from a neighbor that soaking the sliced bitter melon in salt and water overnight removes the bitter taste.

   “There is a Jew in the Old Testament named Samuel Bilibeth who was disobedient and was punished by God with an endless life of walking and absolutely no rest.  To this day he is out there walking.  He can’t die.  Wherever he gets tired and trys to sit down an angel would appear to command him – Lakad Samuel lakad! Which means keep walking Samuel!”  The daughter cannot find this in the Bible and she asked every preacher that she met.

   “Do not ever wear fancy or fake jewelry.  The one time that you do all your jewelry pieces will be suspect.  No matter how expensive or how authentic people will think you’re wearing fake.”  The daughter envied her friends with fabulous costume jewelry.  She could only afford small real ones.

   “When you see black ants congregating on the wall the family will receive some money.”  Black ants are common in the Philippines and have not been known to carry any disease.  They don’t bite like the red ones so they are not vigorously exterminated.

   “Do not let rats hear you speaking ill of them or they will chew holes on your socks.  Someone did and rats came to destroy his socks but did not touch the socks of the rest of the family.  We should call them mabait instead (means good or nice in English).”  The daughter did not want to dare the rats.  

   “If you hear a house lizard make clucking sound a letter is coming in the mail.”  The house lizards (butiki) were harmless and small.  Children in the 50’s would catch them and play with them.  They roamed in the ceiling and ate mosquito.  The window/door screens in the modern homes kept the mosquito out and the lizards became extinct.  True enough the post delivered less and less mail with the coming of the internet.  

   “If someone borrows a piece of clothing do not take it back.  Anyone who sees you wearing it will think you’re the one who borrowed.”  

   And the list goes on…

   " not forsake the law of your mother." (Proverbs 6:20)

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Baggage

   Now that there are seniors dating websites more middle age people marry than previous generations.  They bring with them baggage that contains at least twenty five years worth of moments with previous partners who may or may not be around anymore.  

   When a past lover moves into the friend category and remains in contact through Facebook or family occasion or school reunion the memories are fondly recalled.  If the separation was not a mutual decision then the baggage content is like a caged snake that could escape any minute and bite the new couple without warning.  

   If the baggage contains an obituary that could be worse than a caged snake.  It would be a hovering cloud that could at any moment turn into a storm as one compare the other with a dead loved one.  The human memory is selective and only the good remain, in which case the dead tend to beat the living whose imperfection is clear and current as daylight.  One could kill a snake but how does one battle a hurricane.  

   It has been debated how age should benefit a relationship.  Young couples they say lack the maturity to stick to each other.  If that were true then it follows that age and more experience should serve the marriage better.  Young lovers may be immature and weak but they have their hearts in the right place.  The middle aged lovers may have pieces of their hearts left behind as they moved on from every past relationship or the whole heart could be missing like it had been surgically extracted to be buried with the dead loved one.  

   Are middle aged couples faking affection?  Not necessarily, they themselves are possibly unconscious of their internal baggage.  (The heart…who can know it...” Jeremiah 17:9-10)  

   Should middle aged people be resigned to be alone the wealth of memories in the baggage could be good enough companion for the next half of a lifetime.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Saturn Named Slick

   During the last few months of my marriage to an American, I bought a car on bank loan.  A survivor of failed relationships, I was preparing for the time when besides my personal stuff nothing was coming with me when I move out.  I wanted a car I could use, maybe even live in should circumstances demand.  I planned on giving my ex-husband everything in the divorce.  All except the red car which is owned by the bank.  I named the red Saturn, Slick.  On the conflict night, I drove away with my suits, coats and shoes in the trunk straight to a cheap hotel.  I showed up for work the next day like nothing happened.  It took me a week to find an apartment.

   My only gain was my freedom.  The divorce settlement included a ‘no harassment/no communication’ clause.  I gladly paid my divorce lawyer $1100 to burn that bridge.  I weathered the battle alone with no family in that state and no friend other than Slick.

   The following winter, I was singing Karaoke at another Filipina’s home when the news of a snow storm was announced.  I had seen snow storms before.  I was having fun so I ignored the warning.  On the way home I found the streets covered with snow.  I wanted to turn back to my friend’s home but I would rather sleep in my own bed.  I drove slow and real careful when suddenly I got stuck on something.  I had driven up an island where a stump of a broken sign remained.  Slick’s transmission hung on top of the stump.  As Slick was pulled by the towing service the engine oil gushed out.

   When I realized how much damage I had caused Slick, I was overcome with grief.  I felt Slick stood by me in my darkest days and I returned the favor by driving up an island.  It did not help that the auto shop owner tried to console me with “Don’t worry, cars don’t have feelings.”

   To this day the memory of that accident brings guilt feelings to me.  Slick and I moved to another state.   

Friday, September 6, 2013

Educating Mom – Hulu and Netflix

Cast of Emily Owens M.D.
   Julie lived alone for four years after her divorce.  She resolved to say goodbye to romance.  No problem, she had cable television.  It filed the vacuum in her life.  She came home from work to her local channel shows.  Law and Order (NBC) fed her criminology fantasies.  Emily Owens M.D. (CW) and Revenge (ABC) gave her drama.  1600 Penn (NBC) and Big Bang Theory (CBS) gave her laughter.  Saturday Night Live (NBC) kept her up late and she vaguely remembered the distant past when a live man not a live show kept her awake.  

   Due to the tough economy more families are moving in together these days to save on rent.  Julie and her daughter decided to share an apartment after being apart for a decade.  Tina, her daughter belonged to the Generation-X that gave rise to the MTV, internet, mobile phone, GPS, etc.  She did not want cable television because she has Hulu and Netflix.  

   Julie missed the continuation of the cable television shows she had followed from the pilot episodes.  She sold her television set during the move now can’t afford to buy one.  Tina’s TV has a Comcast router that connects the internet to the television.  This is too high tech for the ‘baby boomer’ mom.  Julie refused to turn on the television when she was home alone afraid she might mess it up.

   Tina showed her mother how they can watch episodes one after another of her cable TV favorites with Hulu which has Body of Proof, Law and Order and Emily Owens M.D., Nashville, etc.  Netflix gave them 4 seasons of Hotel Babylon, the BBC drama about hotel employees, their secrets and love life.  This was the first British show Julie fell in love with.   

   Now that her favorite television shows are available Julie is missing the commercials.  There were some that she followed like The E-Trade Baby, The Hopper, The Geico animals, The Windex Magpies, etc.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Circus is in Town

   The Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey circus came to the Araneta Coliseum every holiday season.  When Lilly was three to five years old Lilly's grandma saved up all year so they could afford the tickets for three, grandma, grandpa and Lilly their favorite among fifteen grandchildren.  

   Lilly's parents moved to Olongapo, Zambales when Lilly turned six.  The yearly circus for the little girl ended.  She never found out if her grandparents went without her after she moved away.  No one said anything about her rare privilege.  She didn't give it a second thought until she moved near Cow Palace 56 years later.  

The marquee announced The Greatest Show on Earth was on.  Lilly remembered how her Mamang and Papang used to take her to see the show.   She realized how expensive the tickets must have been during post war depression of the early 50's.  Then she wondered if they ever went without her.   

   Lilly decided to take her 33 year old only daughter to the circus in honor of her grandparents who both died at 92 more than two decades ago.  Before she could get the tickets her cousins gave them two tickets.  Did the spirit of her grandparents have a hand in her getting the free tickets?  (“For the living are conscious…” Ecclesiastes 9:5-6)

   The circus is the only place where one can see elephants dance. They enjoyed the show.  They took photos and videos for their Facebook.  Lilly could not help but miss the grandparents who loved her so much.  She imagined how they must have missed her when she was taken away from them just as she now misses her grandchildren who are in the Philippines.  She realized she did not take the opportunity to thank them for all the love.  (“All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power…” Ecclesiastes 9:10)

   She swore to find them in paradise someday.  She can't wait to see them again.  (“Do not marvel at this…” John 5:28-29)