Monday, November 16, 2015

Fighting a robber

"Ang tapang mo," said the barangay captain as we passed by his hall only a few meters from where I was heldup. 

My father rolled down the window on his side. "Napabilib mo mga tao dito, " he added. I responded with a smile. Papa has been asking their help in tracking down the suspect. So far, no clear lead as to where he is now.

After a few minutes, we left and headed home. Papa said, "Sikat ka na dito." I answered, "Sana lang di dun natatapos yun."

I badly want to put that man behind bars because he has the capacity to hurt people -- especially women -- just to get what he want. That's how he earns a living: by stealing. I admit my intentions are 30% revenge. But the bigger part is, at least, to feel safer -- not only for myself, but also for my family, especially my younger brother and cousins.

As I watch the CCTV footage of the incident, I wonder where I got the strength to fight. He was punching me, biting me, dragging me while I was screaming for help and hanging on to my bag. One thing was clear: I was never giving up -- getting bruised and wounded -- with him bringing my valuables home. And so I went home with my fingers and wrist bleeding -- with my bag hanging on my shoulder.

They say I should've just given everything. They say, "Sa susunod, 'wag ka nang lumaban lalo na kapag may dala."  But isn't that giving the evil too much power over the innocent? Aren't we supposed to defend ourselves and, at least, try to keep what is ours? Isn't giving everything away at once a form of consent to how they feed their children?

This is in no way saying that the next time I'm robbed or held up *knock on wood thrice* I'm putting up a fight (again). I'm just saying it's better to arm ourselves and be on guard than to just dole out your things to a robber on the street.

Thank God for the strength. 
Thank you angels for guiding me.
Continue protecting us. 
Shield us from danger. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What has become of us?

Remember the good old days
When we would look up the sky
And dream of what we wanted to be?
When the possibilities were limitless;
We looked as far as our eyes could see.

What has become of us?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Afternoon Sky

A perfect summer sky in November. And mad, dark clouds hovering in the west where the sun will set.

This is what my weekend afternoons look like: sitting on our rooftop, watching the sky turn from a mix of blue with cotton clouds and sunrays to a burst of crimson and lavender at sundown. It's always a sight to behold. There's evidently an artist in Heaven who has mastered the art of sunsets.

A perfect summer sky in southeast and a gloomy sky in the northwest. Today the sky is its own irony. Much like how a night or day looks like for a man stormed with questions on which way to look at and what to do next: run away from an impending rain or turn your gaze to the clear, bright, blue sky?

There are days when the sky shows its many faces all at once. Like today, for instance. A simply magnificent display of life: bright and beautiful and dark and fearful. 

How you look at it, well, the choice is yours.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I will never forget

I will never forget the face of the man who tried to rob me.

When he placed his arm on my shoulder and pointed his hand on my neck. He whispered, "Give me your bag lest I kill you." When he forcefully grabbed my bag until I fell on the pavement while I screamed and pleaded for help. And no one did. 

When, in desperation, he bit my fingers to disarm me. And when he failed, one last pull, he ran away. I was trembling; my heart was beating thrice faster than normal. And when I looked down, I saw blood on my hand. My wrist was bleeding. Another bite -- a deep wound -- by that hungry animal.

Was it too easy to prey on me because I'm small? Do I really look that helpless? Man, looks are deceiving. And you might have thought women don't fight. 

Until now, my wounds have yet to heal. The deepest is still wide open, and doctors say it might stay that way. A mark of a struggle that shouldn't have happened -- because we ought to work hard to survive. It's a mark that will make me remember to always stay on guard and never ever be complacent. Because it's safe nowhere. 

It will never be the same again. This wound may heal, but I will never forget the face of that man. I don't want to leave home these days. Call it trauma or paranoia. It will be more difficult to trust passersby and strangers who I walk with at the MRT, mall, and sidewalks. I see robbers anywhere. You may be eating with them at a restaurant or standing side by side with them at the bus station. They may just be behind you while you are buying your favorite drink at the convenience store. Or you may be making eye-contact with them as you cross the street. 

As investigation is under way, I'm getting information that that guy is just lurking around, freely wandering the streets while his victims are suffering a trauma from his bad deed. Others are saying he's hiding far from authorities who are looking for him. He's been in and out of jail. Two counts of robbery: sentence served. Petty crimes, that's what they call it. But for those whom he victimized, petty is a disturbing, insulting word.

One said his father used to be like him. So has it become a profession in a poor country where more than half are living by below a dollar every day? And so there are families of lawyers, doctors, artists, and engineers. Then, there are families of robbers.

It pains me to think he is feeding his children and family by stealing. By leaving a mark in other people -- in a terribly awful way.

As I type, my right hand is hurting. It's my wound, my open wound, that wants to heal but cannot yet. Because healing takes time.

Here's to ladies -- and even men -- who have fallen prey to robbers. Here's to hoping that the bad men will get what they deserve. That the wheels of justice may spin to our favor. Heaven knows what to do to them. Karma, so to speak.

And that me may forget how they look like and sleep soundly, in peace again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Five years old

When I smile like this, I see my 5 year old self who is sincerely happy when she has her Barbie and Polly Pocket by her side. Fast forward to 20 years, happiness becomes fleeting and much harder to achieve. 

Ah, the innocence and joy of childhood. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Best Seats

It's a beautiful chapel standing in the middle of a bustling business district.

That's why when you arrive a couple of minutes before the Mass begins, don't expect to get a good seat. Chances are all the good ones are taken and those at the side and the rear are already getting filled.

But not tonight. Shortly after the rosary, we saw a small space for one person on the second row. A closer look, and the people seated only needed to move a little more to give way for two more persons. So my friend and I thankfully took best seats for the Mass.

You'll never know when you'll be lucky. Or for a better term, blessed. Thank you Lord for tonight.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Sound of a Million Hearts Breaking

I remember somebody wrote, "...the sound of a million hearts breaking." It was the day Manny Pacquiao lost to Floyd Mayweather Junior. Almost everyone was in pain. It was like the feeling of losing somebody. Arguably, many felt boxing, as a sport, just died.

So it was "...the sound of a million hearts breaking" that would open our program for the night. But one person pointed out that it wasn't a good one. He asked, "What is the sound of a million hearts breaking?" 

Have you heard a heart breaking?

Today, I did.

I entered the control room feeling something cracking in my chest. It was like a glass that was pounded heavily for so long and for many times that something just wanted to crack open and shatter into pieces. It was the last day of my mentor in the office. And you know when somebody leaves, the place -- the environment and how everything feels -- will never be the same again.

I sat in the producer's chair and logged in to my account. Our anchor sat down in the studio desk and fixed herself. Everything looked the same. As the opening music played, I did not hear the line "the sound of a million hearts breaking." But I heard a heart -- or hearts-- breaking. Those hearts knew that this newscast and this day wasn't exactly the same. Somebody's leaving. The one who taught us how to do THIS is leaving.

A quarter of an hour passed. Just as I was about to add up something to a script, I felt a hand on my shoulder. As I looked, he said, "Aalis na ko." He kissed my forehead. I momentarily put my headset down and hugged him. After all, I would not be wearing that headset and would not be seated in the producer's chair if not for him. 

My colleagues and I took so many pictures with him through the day. But I felt I didn't have enough, and this time was different. My mentor was with me in the control room neither to man nor to give instructions. Not even to guide. But to say goodbye. So I took my nth picture with him for the day.

He bade goodbye to another colleague and friend. He bade farewell to the team. Then he left.

There was not a tear while goodbyes were being said. But once he stepped out, the lump in my throat seemed to have traveled to my eyes in a way I couldn't explain and understand. I was no longer watching our show and hearing the voice of our anchor. I was only remembering the four years that we spent with him. How he taught us, guided us, defended us, and believed in us. How he pushed us higher when all we wanted was to just sit around the corner.

It was painful. I went out of the control room. Many were also in tears in the desk area. It was difficult to carry on a show when all you wanted was to stop the world and bring everything back to what it was once. But you know too well that 1) You couldn't end the show just yet and 2) You couldn't stop the world and bring back the past.

So it was the sound of hearts breaking. The sound of goodbyes and wishes that wouldn't just come true. The sound of uncertainties and fears of how the coming days would feel and look like. 

The sound of people leaving and places that wouldn't ever be the same again. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

On Fridays

You know what I love about Fridays?

The freedom when I step out of my workplace and just sprint to wherever. My partner-in-crime and I would usually go on food tripping in a foodie-haven-covered-in-tents in Bonifacio Global City or hop on to an all-day breakfast place a tricycle ride away from our office. Lately, we would catch a late-night movie at Newport Cinema. That's freedom.

What made me tell you this?

I just watched a trailer of a movie -- another film adaptation of a book by John Green. It's called 'Paper Towns'. I liked it, so this early, I imagined ourselves hopping on to a cab and asking the driver to drive fast enough so we could catch the movie that would be in screened half an hour. I also imagined us getting a hot chocolate or a cappuccino to sip, because it's cold in the movie house and our warmers wouldn't make us feel 'warm' enough. (I smelled how the mall would 'smell' -- like a place out of the country. The place would be dimly lit in the second to third floors because the shops would've been closed.)

It would be midnight -- or past midnight -- and we were spending our Friday night, but at the same time, we were already enjoying our weekends. In where we are now, there lies a thin line between Friday and Saturday. 

But I still love Fridays. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

You can't deprive others of the life you don't have.
And you can't bar them from enjoying relationships you don't have.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Prayer Time in Batangas

I really wanted to travel on my own. I wanted to have my alone time in a quiet, picturesque place where I can ponder about life. Until my friend raised the idea of going to a church where miracles supposedly happened -- and where prayers were heard and answered.

So I decided to travel with her.

We went to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Lipa City, Batangas. It was where an apparition of the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared to a Carmelite nun decades ago. We arrived there past eight in the morning -- just as a Mass was about to end. We were lucky that another Mass would shortly follow at nine. So while we were waiting for our Mass schedule, we went around to see the church.

We went to the 'religious souvenirs' place where stampitas, rosaries, images of saints and Mama Mary, and prayer books were sold. It was an ordinary sales center except that it had a corner where you could write a prayer or list down your petitions and drop them off into a box with a measly love offering. This was what I did first thing in the church: shout my prayer to Him in a paper and ask the religious to pray with me.

We heard the Mass at 9 AM, then roamed around the church again to explore the place. It was a serene place of worship. There were many people around -- but the place is beautifully quiet. I missed that kind of silence. It was like I was covered in a precious white cloth like an angel that warranted me a spot in this holy place -- however unworthy I was. 

We climbed up the second floor and went to a veranda overlooking the garden where Mary's apparition supposedly appeared. There were a number of people praying. I took the center vacant seat and sat in silence as I examined the 'miracle corner'. I allowed myself to be swallowed by the silence. I prayed, but not the usual that I do. I did the sign of the cross and kept my mind quiet to give space for whispers in my ear and love in my heart.

I haven't done that for a long time. Having been so engrossed to my daily job, I could barely open my daily devotional or even utter a short prayer for thanksgiving in the morning and at night. I was so consumed by my daily routine -- and needless to say my hectic work schedule -- that I have seemed to forget to pray (and how to pray at that).

And so in silence, I sat down, and allowed holy silence to cover me. Gos listened to me, and I listened to Him. And He seemed to tell me: if you cannot change what's outside, change what's within.

P.S. Thank you Lord. I missed you.