Friday, December 31, 2010

fried bean curd and mongo sprouts

this morning i went to visit my wife's family's house. ever since no one had occupied it, we were the ones who were maintaining it. today i have to pay for the utilities and do some cleaning. sweep the yard. pull out weeds. wipe off accumulated dust, just general housekeeping.

when i arrived there i noticed a goat which rope leash is tied to one of the iron bars of the fence. one of the neighbors immediately volunteered an explanation. they will be having a drinking joust in the evening to welcome the new year. they will be serving goat meat.

"if you can stay till we begin the party, i'm inviting you." he said.

"thanks, but i can't stay long," i answered, "and besides i don't eat meat." i looked at the animal and it has a sad look in its eyes. it knows its fate. my neighbors will be welcoming the new year but it won't.

tonight, at home i'll be feasting on fried bean curd, sauteed mongo sprouts, and rice. i have been vegetarian since 1989 when i met my spiritual Master and he advised us to adopt this non-meat regimen. before meeting him, i had tried so hard to refrain as much as i can from eating meat. it is not so much because i'm doing spiritual practices and this is a requirement but more so of having realized that a vegetarian diet is more in accord with my disposition.

to be honest, ever since i slit the throat of the very first chicken i killed, i could not forget the uneasiness. the remorse of having inflicted pain. of terminating life. i saw the hot blood spouting as i held the lacerated neck with my left, i felt its legs kick hard against my right hand, struggling to be free, to flee. it actually kicked so hard it almost escaped my grasp. i saw blood flow out until it trickled to a stop and then slowly i felt the heat from the flesh i'm holding diminish, then sudden coldness, then it struggled no more. how can i eat something that tried to flee from me, that contorted its body, its limbs, as it felt the knife blade cut, as its vital fluid started to seep out?

vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fruits. these are where i get my nourishment now and i am satisfied. and i am not remorseful.

i was mopping the floor of the house when i heard a commotion outside the gate. it's just for a couple of minutes. when i peered through the window, i saw the goat's body lying there. they overhang it's limp neck by the canal so blood will trickle out. i knew it did not suffer much. my neighbors are experts now. soon they will blowtorch the fur on its skin. not even the skin will be spared. they also have a delicacy for this.

 welcoming the new year will be fun. there'd be lots of goat meat served via different dishes.

there will be fried bean curd and beansprouts too.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

true love

i have just had finished feeding both whoopie and chelsea. the new mom had adjusted herself to her new role as nurturer. she is, i believe more relaxed now. she had actually began playing with whoopie again. i decided to sweep the yard again of the fallen leaves. the new year is fast approaching. here in the philippines, the tradition is to welcome the new year with fireworks and fire crackers. literally, with a bang. i don't want a wayward spark to accidentally ignite these dried leaves in my yard.

i was sweeping when i got seized by this sudden realization that another year is passing. time is again fleeting by. and mine, my existence, is also running past. there was this feeling. it was not dread, but more so, of longing, that somehow there'd be an end, and i won't be seeing these anymore -- the cavorting shadows of these two dogs, cast by the brilliant sun above, against the powdery earth; and this majestic avocado tree that showers my yard with leaves of green and brown and gold; the wisps of gray smoke from the leaves i'm burning, rising upwards, upwards to that blue sky overhead, aspiring to join those cottony clouds; the faint scent of leftover dog food; the whining of newborn puppies, eyes still tightly shut; the taste of coffee, very black against the whiteness of this old ceramic cup -- all of these, and more. i felt lonely that things do end. and yet, i know, this is the Grand Design. that all of us will undergo this. we are on a journey through Life and eventually will all be Home.

i looked at the sleeping puppies. one is white. the other brown. their bellies rhythmically rising and falling as they breathe. at peace in their inner world. the sleep of babes. i sat down in front of the storeroom door staring at these new addition to Life. Existence. the two grown up dogs had stopped playing. chelsea entered the storeroom and curled beside the two pups. soon i saw them move towards their mother's breasts. whoopie was beside me now and i felt his wet tongue licking my ear from behind. i ignored him. let him be. i remembered my dead parents, then my wife, my daughter, and all of the people i have loved, in this life...

i hummed an old tune i was blessed enough to compose:

in this world of ups and downs
there is nothing we can hold on for long
for everything changes
everything passes away;
like this lovely flower that grew
it would soon wither and lose its scent
for everything changes
everything passes away;
for only Love
only True Love remains
only Love
only True Love remains
never bending
True Love.

tomorrow, at 12 midnight, i will welcome the new year amidst the fancy fireworks and the popping, and cracking, and the booming of fire crackers, with a silent prayer --

o Infinite! grant us all True Love ...

Monday, December 27, 2010

day 4 home alone

it's been 4 days now since i was left alone at home with chelsea, the first time mom. i'm having an amusing time with her.  i'm really not feeling in any way left out. she and her pups are family too. of course, the father, whoopie, is also family. but chelsea and whoopie are not seeing eye to eye. i tried hard to be a bridge between them but i'm not making any progress.  could it be love lost? could it be because whoopie never tried to be with her when she was delivering the puppies? i was informed she delivered 6 puppies actually but 2 were stillborn, and 1 died a few hours later and which head she chewed. the way i observe whoopie now, how he approaches chelsea, i think he really wants to make amends. it's just that chelsea continually snarls at him.

hmmmm, if only i can understand dogspeak --

grrrr! bow wow bow wow wow wow?  grrrrlllll ..... nope, that's not dogspeak. i saw both whoopie and chelsea looking at me with incredulous eyes -- what on earth is this madman saying?

i was very worried about chelsea the first 2 days. i religiously brought food and water to her but she hardly touched them. well, she is nursing some little ones and she needs to be nourished as well. she just takes a few licks of water and that's it. i tried to experiment with her food. gave her the dog food my brother bought for them. just the plain serving. she didn't eat it. i spotted some milk in the fridge which my daughter bought and served it to chelsea. she  never bothered to look at it. i thought hard. well, she is a lady, a mother now. maybe she wants her food served in a food tray that's spic and span. i grabbed her food dish and water bowl and scrubbed them both till they are without any blemish. i served food again. chelsea just yawned, took a few licks of water and lied down  beside her puppies to nurse them. i gave the food to whoopie who danced around my  legs in utter delight.

the neighbor suggested that since chelsea is nursing, she needs good food to be able to continually produce good milk. she said i should try giving some soup or broth. after work, i dropped by the mall's fastfood center and bought a big serving of milkfish belly with lots of broth. at home, i cooked some rice. i mixed the rice with the broth and mashed the milkfish belly. then i placed a trial serving on chelsea's dish and offered it to her. she loved it. she ate heartily. i gave her another serving. i saved the rest for 2 more servings: before i leave for work at night and when i arrive home the next morning. i've solved the problem about getting her to eat. the next time, i'll cook some corned beef for her and whoopie and i'll make sure to do it with lots of broth.

day 3. morning. i knew i counted correctly when i transferred the puppies to the storeroom area i set aside for them. i cradled 3 fragile puppies in my arms. like the 3 blind mice. but now, as i was serving  chelsea' s food i noticed there were only 2 little ones sucking milk from her. when she rose up to eat, i immediately snuck behind her and approached the little ones. by now, chelsea had grown accustomed to me getting near them. it's just whoopie she snarls at. i frantically looked for the other puppy. i lifted the old towel i used to make a bedding for them. it's not under it. i ran to the house and grabbed my flashlight. i searched hard. could not find it. i sniffed  the air around for some foul smell of decomposing body. nothing. i looked at chelsea and asked aloud, "where is your other pup? " she just whined and nudged the 2 little ones aside and curled beside them. the little ones immediately snuggled to their mom to suck. i asked chelsea again, "where did you take your other pup?" she just whined again and licked the dirt from behind one of her puppies. i noticed both have a thin coat of fur now. the small one is white like chelsea, the big one is slightly brown like whoopie. if only i could understand dogspeak. could a rat have spirited away the third one? did i really transfer 3, i might have counted wrong? could chelsea have eaten this one? later, when i chatted with my wife, she suggested i go look for it again especially in the places chelsea used to frequent. i did not find it.

day 3. night. before i left for work, i delivered chelsea's food and water. i pointed my flashlight at her belly and counted. one, two. white, brown. one, two. brown white. i reminded chelsea, "never leave your pups." whoopie accompanied me up to the gate. i implored him, "be on guard, help chelsea protect the little ones."

 day 4. morning. my work shift had ended. when i reached home, i proceeded to the storeroom. chelsea wasn't there. only the brown pup is lying asleep on the towel bedding. chelsea's food dish is empty.the water bowl is empty. i whistled for chelsea. she came around, whoopie had also awakened , and both are dancing by my feet. both are hungry. "where's  the white one?" i asked them. they're begging me for food. i went inside with their food dish and prepared food for them. soon, both were busily eating. i just changed clothes and went back to the storeroom. one. only the brown pup remains. o Infinite! did i lose another one? chelsea had finished eating and went back inside the storeroom. she circled several times over the bedding i made for them. she sniffed at her brown pup. then, sniffed at the bedding. she's looking for her other pup too. i noticed several bits of plastic bags strewn over the place. it's evident some rat had nibbled at it. that's it! i won't permit the rat to get this last puppy. i decided  to transfer it to the garage. i prepared a place for chelsea and the pup to lie down to. i picked up the brown pup and gently transferred it. now this is a more open space and whoopie will be around to run after unwanted intruders.

i felt terrible while eating. i decided i'll go to the storeroom and search again. when i arrived there i found chelsea frantically pawing the cement floor as if trying to dig something out of the floor. my heart skipped a beat. could it be?  i took off my shirt and proceeded to bring out the stored items one by one from the storeroom. i pointed my flashlight to each nook and cranny. there were only a few items left in the storeroom and still nothing. all of a sudden, chelsea bacame agitated and started pawing against the sheet glass that rested against the wall. i pointed my flashlight at the very small space between the glass sheet and the wall and my heart leapt in joy! there it is, the white pup, alive, wedged between the foot of the glass sheet and the wall. it had somehow managed to crawl inside but got stuck. gently, i pulled it out. it was crying very, very softly. almost inaudibly. perhaps, chelsea was able to hear her. it is safe now. i placed it beside the brown one at the garage. chelsea  lied down beside it  and started cleaning it with her tongue. it snuggled close to her and begun to suck.

i cleaned up the storeroom and returned the items back. i was able to accomplish 2 things: clean the storeroom and rescued the pup. if there are rats there, they might have escaped to some place else. i went back to the house and brewed some coffee to relax.

i was enjoying my coffee seated by the window overlooking the garage when i saw her. chelsea. white pup in her mouth.  i followed her. she is transferring her pups back to the storeroom!

"no, chelsea, don't take them back there!" i shouted. she proceeded anyway. i went out of the house. went to the storeroom. braving chelsea's angry snarl, i picked up the pups and brought them back to the garage. chelsea followed us. as soon as i put them down, she immediately carried them back to the storeroom. i followed them. when she laid them down on the storeroom floor, again i braved chelsea's angry stare and brought them back to the garage. i think we did this ten times. chelsea won. my patience wore off and honestly i got tired racing from the garage to the storeroom and back.

"this is your decision," i told her, "don't say i didn't warn you. we might not be able to rescue the pups again. especially if there are really rats here." i pointed around the storeroom. but, it is generally cleaner now and more organized.

she just looked at me. i don't know dogspeak but i think her eyes are saying, "mother knows best!"

we'll see.

this is day 4, morning. tonight before i leave for work, i'll count them again.

Friday, December 24, 2010

chelsea the first-time mom

mother nature is teasing me. just as when i have had recently posted one about fatherhood here i am being given a chance to play father again. and this time i'm  feeling i'd need to be smarter.

she is a first time mom. here name is chelsea, our dog. she just recently delivered 4 beautiful fragile puppies. well, whoopie, our other dog, is the father, but he's more concerned about food than about the puppies. actually, i saw him visiting the place where chelsea gave birth presumably to look at their offspring but chelsea threw him an angry look and a menacing bark and off he goes scampering for safety.

big problem is chelsea. she has the mother instincts but she's mostly doing things more wrongly than rightly.  first she delivered her puppies just between the 2 washing machines we're using to do our laundry. the place is cramped and wet and cold and not very convenient for the newborns. chelsea snarls at every one who tries to get near the puppies. i don't know if she's just being protective of them or she's jealous of anyone getting a peek on the little ones. and when she nurses them she just doesn't care how her body is positioned. her body actually covers her puppies like a blanket. there is a very fat chance of her suffocating them.

my problem is it's nearing christmas and my brother and his family including my daughter will be spending the holidays with his in-laws in the province. i'll be home alone. but, unlike that famous kevin of the "home alone" movies, i will not be battling with bumbling robbers. i'll be testing my wits against first-time mom chelsea. i have to protect the little fragile ones against their mom's unwise moves.

and so it happened. what we feared to happen. before they were about to leave, my brother found one of the day-old puppies dead. probably suffocated or probably died due to the coldness or the dampness. he tried to get the dead pup but chelsea did not permit it. as my brother narrated, chelsea bit off the head of the dead pup and ate it! he was aghast. much as he tried to get the rest of the body he was not able to. chelsea is attempting to bite him.

"you'll have to find a way to get that dead body," he told me when i got home, "we're leaving now. be careful, chelsea is not letting anyone near her pups."

i looked at the headless body. there are 3 more live puppies. i snuck a peek. the little ones are busily sucking milk. chelsea and the pups are in a very cramped place. i fear for the rest of the puppies. not even two days old.

i am alone now. my brother and his family and my daughter had left for the province. i could not get some sleep. i can hear the puppies' whimpering and crying. they are not comfortable. i have to find a way to move them to a better place. i have to outsmart chelsea like what kevin did to the robbers. and that dead headless body is starting to emit that foul stench. i spent my waking hours trying to figure out a way.  i went out and filled chelsea's food bowl with dog food and placed it very far from where the puppies were. chelsea ignored my food offering. i spent the night hearing the puppies' crying and smelling that foul odor of decomposing body in my shallow sleep. chelsea is winning.

morning. it's good that it is my day off. i am feeling confident. i snuck another quick peek at the newborns. counted 3 small bodies tucked under chelsea whose eyes are so wide awake looking attentively at me. i lingered for a while braving her disapproving stare. the bellies of the 3 pups were moving. thank you, o Infinite! not another one died. but the headless body is smelling terribly. that foul odor is ruining the aroma of my freshly brewed coffee. an idea struck my mind.

bravely, i approached the washing machine farthest from the dogs and slowly lifted it. good it was not too heavy. i moved it farther. i know when the sun comes up sunlight will flood the area where they are and will heat up that place.  then,  i cleaned our small storehouse nearby making sure there's sufficient space for this dog family. i was hoping that chelsea will have the mind to transfer the pups to this cozier place. as bait, i placed her food bowl and her water in a location where she can spot the open storehouse. at the corner of my eyes, i can see her following my every move suspiciously. i tried to ignore her acting like i was just doing my usual cleaning chores.

i went back inside the house and ate my breakfast. after this, i cleaned up the house. i did not try to bother chelsea. i have to be patient. my ally, the sun is slowly rising up. once she heats up chelsea's territory i'm sure she'll be moving her puppies. true enough, as soon as my friend the sun started beaming her rays to where the dogs were, i immediaely heard chelsea becoming very busy. i dared not bother to look. i knew she's moving.

soon, i could no longer hear the whining and the whimpering of the puppies. i went out of the house and checked. the dogs aren't there anymore. i congratulated myself. you're bright, sito kevin, you did it! i picked up the headless puppy and buried it. then i went to the storehouse to spy on chelsea and the others. to my surprise, they were not there! i paused for a while and listened attentively. i traced where the puppies' voices are coming from. i slowly stepped back and there they were by the side of the house. chelsea had dug a hole in the ground and deposited them there. they were better off where they were before. at least they were lying on cemented flooring. this time, they were on soft earth, still damp, still cold. and if it rains they surely will be drenched. i thought i saw chelsea smiling as if to say, gotcha! well, i will not be outsmarted by a dog. my ego is hurtin'. sito kevin must win. home alone strategy is needed.

i moved chelsea's food bowl and water far from the entrance of the fence separating the main house from the storehouse. this is my only chance. but i have to be patient. i picked a stickbroom and started sweeping the fallen leaves that littered the ground. there were lots of them. they were very dry now so i decided to burn them. this will help me while the time away. i will be able to clean up the yard and i will be near where the puppies are located. chelsea will not be suspicious since she will just see me gathering up the dried leaves and burning them. i managed to get to about a foot of the puppies as i swept the ground. chelsea is there nursing her two-day olds. i secretly counted. 3 bodies there underneath her. bellies moving. still alive.

after about two hours of leisurely sweeping leaves and burning them, my patience paid off. she stood up. brushed off the dirt from her white coat and confidently went out of the fenced yard. walked towards her food bowl. finally, she felt hunger and thirst. i pretended not to notice her. she buried her head in the food bowl and started munching at her food. i grabbed my chance. immediately but carefully so i won't catch her attention, i barred the entrance with the corrugated roofing sheet i set aside for this moment. then secured it so she won't be able to push against it if she attempts to do so. i ran to the puppies and picked up all three of them. their eyes are still unopened. i was holding more like the 3 blind mice.  i ran back to the storehouse, arranged the bedding which i prepared for them and laid them down. now they are safe and cozy. i went back to the fence and removed the cover to the entrance. chelsea had finished her food and is now drinking. she never saw what i did. when she entered the yard i acted like i was poking the unburned leaves. i saw her moving frantically when she found out the puppies are not where she left them. i saw her touching her nose on the hole she dug. my heart raced for a bit when she looked at my direction and moved towards me.

she went past me. entered the storehouse. soon i heard the whimpering of the puppies again. i did it! gotcha! i took a quick peek.  they were not on the bedding i made for them. chelsea was able to find another spot  for them. well, i told myself, for as long as they are now inside the storehouse, they will be better off. they are cozier now. no dampness, not too cold. even if it rains they won't be drenched. my friend the sun also illuminates the storehouse just enough. and chelsea, their mother is learning.


i delivered food and water to chelsea at the storehouse. i mustered enough courage to inch closer and to point my flashlight at the spot where they were lying. chelsea was there. 3 bellies were undeneath her. still moving.

tomorrow they will be 3 days older.

Monday, December 20, 2010

the first photograph of snow

"sito, it's here!" my wife excitedly typed at the other end of our internet chat. "snow! it's starting to fall now. oh, it's getting very cold here."

"how is it? is it soft, powdery?" i asked her. this is my chance to get a blow-by-blow account. straight from my wife's lips. the  way she experiences it.

"oh, i dare not go outside, it's so cold," she repeated. and she monitored the temperature for me. -5 degrees, -6, -7. she stopped at -12 degrees. wow! that cold? "i'm wearing layers of clothes. i'm glad somebody lent me some thermal underwear and boots." 

"well, please be careful. take care of yourself," i reminded her, "i heard this thing about frostbite when the body's cartilaginous bones become brittle due to extreme cold and simply break off." i smiled to myself imagining how my wife will look without her ears and her nose. ears and noses have cartilaginous bones.

"could you take a picture?" i asked her.

"i told you, i don't want to go outside! it's so cold out there." she shot back. "if you want i'll open my laptop's camera and i'll point it at the driveway. it's starting to be covered by snow." she volunteered.

"okay, go," i agreed.  she went to where i can have a good view of Mother Nature's cold blanket. and voila! i did it! my very own photograph of snow. the tree in the foreground is bare. i don't want to be in her position right now. in my mind, i thought, this should be the time when this tree should cover herself with leaves, layers of them, like my wife's clothing, so she can fight off the cold. but, Mother Nature has her own rules. and the  ground, it is all white now. where are the grasses? the shrubbery? it looks lonely out there, what with the slowly creeping blanket of white.

"it seems the sun has hidden herself since the snow had started falling," my wife commented, "there's barely a hint of sunshine. i'm sad for the children. they cannot go outdoors to play. yet, they say christmas time is not exciting without the snow. this is really the time of the year when she comes."

well, there is no perfect place. here in our country we complain of dust and heat and rain. in other countries, people might complain of not getting enough sunshine and of being cold. this is the nature of this world. we are challenged to be able to exist under different circumstances: heat, cold, rain, snow, sunshine, moonshine, wind, bare trees, tall grasses, dust, dirt, grime, opulence, need,  rich, poor, greed, benevolence, even blind justice. our mission is to master the circumstances that we find ourselves in. to rise above them. these circumstances are opportunities given us to express our full potentials as man, and as divine beings.

and so, we must always bear this in mind. the outer man might be suffering because of the cold blanket of snow, but, if one thinks deep and goes inside one's self, one might find that the inner man, the divine spark in him, is benefiting from this cold, from this loneliness, from this lack of sunshine, and is being helped to grow, to learn, to express its divinity.

" to effect the quality of day is the highest of all arts". this was by henry david thoreau. i could not agree more. for me, this means elevating every day of one's life towards an expression of the divine spark within him. to find a hint of perfection in an imperfect place.

"sito," she typed, "i think snow is somewhat powdery, or fluffy, or feathery."

there. i'm glad my wife summoned an ounce of bravery to touch snow for me. and i smiled contentedly.

i always thought it to be so.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

azkals revisited

the philippine azkals, they took to the field again. this surprising band of men. they are now in the semifinals of the suzuki cup. a feat never before achieved by any philippine national team for football. they are nursing a 1-0 loss to the indonesian team which is as talented as they are. the azkals are playing the indonesian team for the second game of their semifinal match. they are in the indonesian turf and the indonesian people are very supportive of their national team. i could not believe the number of people who watched the first game and the deafening roar when that lone goal was scored. given the unpopularity of this sport here in the philippines, i doubt if we can muster the same number of people if the games were held here.  incidentally, i read a news report that our country does not even have a single football field that meets the requirements of a standard  playing field. so there, that's another reason why the azkals feat is considered a magical run.

they played their hearts out again during the second game. but, it was repeated. the indonesians scored the lone goal again. much as they tried, the azkals were never able to score. so it had ended. the magical run. they will never reach the finals. the indonesians will. and their  people's collective roar inside the stadium was even more deafening than during the first game.

life is actually like this, what had happened to the azkals. i have personally experienced this as i am sure a lot of people did. one finds one's self in generally a good run, bucking life's tests and trials,  evading pitfalls and traps, having a "magical run", and anticipating a good finish, confidence level at the utmost peak. and then, from out of the blue, comes this great kick, and one finds one's self crashing in defeat. ego bruised. confidence deflated. the question is if one has the ability to bounce back. if he has, then good for him. he will have another shot at life's success cup. if he cannot bounce back from defeat and lets the bruised ego trap him in self pity then bad for him. this is the reason why old Sages say one's greatest foe is one's self.

the azkals will go home now. will the news organizations still cover them? will their impressive feat in this tournament  awaken the sleeping gods of philippine sports and turn their benevolent eyes to help the sad plight of philippine football?

i just hope that even if they were not able to advance to the finals, the azkals will still be given the honor and accolade they so richly deserved.

as i write this, there is this nagging fear in my heart, because in the philippines, asong kalye or street dogs are caught, and sold, and more sadly, butchered and cooked into adobo, the popular national dish, to be consumed during drinking jousts where intoxicated, opinionated men take turns recalling their delight in watching the azkals win their games and confidently predict who manny "pacman" pacquiao's fists will hammer into submission next.

old Sages say one's greatest foe is one's self ...

Saturday, December 18, 2010


this is just a short something for this band of gallant, talented Filipinos.  they are our national football team. honestly, this is the first time i became aware of them. for the past weeks, they were able to get themselves covered by a lot of news organizations. they performed well in their scheduled games for the suzuki cup and actually had managed to earn a spot in the semifinals.  i think this is the highest place ever achieved by a Philippine football team up to this time. well, this is a basketball-crazy country and football is at the bottom of an average Filipino's list of his favorite sports. i'll bet if you ask someone you meet on the street what his favorite sport is, you will hear basketball, then boxing, billiards, chess, bowling. but, never football.

the team name is so appropriate -- azkals. short for asong kalye in the vernacular or street dogs in english.  like these runaway dogs of the streets, i know they feel abandoned, unrecognized, uncared for. unlike most of the rest of the world, filipinos are generally never too excited over football. even the most recent world cup never raised much of a frenzy among filipinos. so a lot of us really were surprised to hear news of this unknown band of men scoring wins against teams that have more solid national support. now, they have been noticed. they are now being recognized. soon, they will be cared for and supported. soon they will no longer be asong kalye or street dogs.

well, it is always like this. great odds always elicit great efforts at heroism and gallantry and achievement. the drive for excellence compels one to extend one's self over and beyond one's capabilities. as that popular song goes -- " to reach the unreachable star." the problem is not that the star is unreachable, the question is how one will be endeavoring to stretch one's self to try to reach it.

the problem is not that the True Self is not unknowable, the question is how man will be willing to know It. how one will devote effort and time to do it. the odds are tremendous. the outer world has lots to offer to sidetrack man in this heroic,  gallant, and brave quest. the old Sages say the world is a grand carnival and we are captives of its impermanent delights. it is difficult to escape.

knowing our true selves will not give us glittering suzuki cups or world cups or adulation of millions of  fans. knowing our true selves will give us freedom.

to date, the indonesian team has stopped the azkals unbeaten run in the tournament, 1-0. but i am confident the azkals are tough.  street dogs are like that. they never give up easily. they will use their street wisdom to survive. and it is not the need  for recognition or adoration that drives them.  it is the desire to prove they are far more than what they are thought to be -- just a so-so Philippine team for an unpopular sport.

this in itself is also freedom.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

expecting fatherhood

it was a faint voice at the other end of the line. it was my daughter.

"pop, i'm sick," she declared feebly, "i have a fever. i already skipped class, sorry."

"have you taken any medicines?" i asked worriedly, "it's better if you can come home. nobody will look after you there at the dorm."

"yes, i took a medicine for fever. i'll rest for a bit then go home."

 at home, she immediately collapsed on her bed and tried to sleep. later, when i took her temperature it read 39.6 degrees celsius. rather high. my brother advised us to visit the doctor. we drove to the nearby hospital. she was asked to undergo the usual lab tests -- urinalysis, blood tests. because of a breakout of dengue, these procedures are standard tests especially for those who ran high fever. her tests were fine. she was diagnosed for tonsilitis. her tonsils were very swollen hence the fever. probably too much cold soda. the doctor prescribed some pills for her and advised her to gargle regularly. i took the prescription and told my daughter to wait for me at my brother's car. he and his wife actually drove us to the hospital. bless them!

i was made to wait at the pharmacy while the aide went to the stockroom to fetch fresh stocks of the medicines i was buying. i  sat at one of the nearby empty benches. this was when i noticed this young man of about 20. he has this uneasy, worried look in his face. he keeps on pacing back and forth, back and forth in front of one of the closed doors. he seems to be marching, measuring his steps. talking to himself. seemingly psyching himself up. he just can't seem to stay  in one place. he periodically stops only to cautiously open the door he's guarding to peer inside. then he slowly closes it again and goes back to his march. i looked at him more attentively and behold, i caught it, that nervous, eager glint in his eyes. i had that once. and i knew it. his wife is soon to deliver his baby.

i smiled silently to myself and allowed my thoughts to drift back in time when i was like him. when i had the nervous, excited, expectant look. except that unlike him i did not march back and forth. i just waited and prayed fervently that both my wife and our baby will be well. when the doctor told me she had delivered our baby and both were doing fine my heart leapt in thankful joy! when they announced it was viewing time, i hurriedly ran to the nursery and there behind its glass wall, in one of the cribs, i saw her for the first time. my baby girl! all wrinkled and fragile. sleeping comfortably, confidently. a very slight hint of innocent smile on her face.  i talked to myself: sito, you are a father now. you don't know the unwritten laws that governed this birth. why you were chosen to be this newborn's guardian. but, remember you are not just the father of this physical bundle of joy. more so, you are also the father of the divine spark within her. you will be the guardian not just of her material well-being but also of her divine essence. you must be a father to both.

the aide came with the medicines. i stood up and claimed my purchase. as i turned around to walk back to where my daughter was  waiting my eyes locked on the young man again. he noticed me staring but he did not stop his marching. he nervously smiled at me. i smiled back. a father to father smile. i know he understood the message in my eyes -- 

don't worry kid.
every thing will be alright with us. you are expecting your first brush with fatherhood when your baby is delivered into this world, i am expecting my next brush with fatherhood when my daughter discovers her real Self, the Divine Spark in her, and is born into the world of poets, seers, artists, saints.

the Sages and Masters remind us this, that part of the duty of parenthood is not just to usher a soul into the material world but more so to guide it and nurture it until it sees its True Nature and discovers the Divine Life.

when i stepped out of the hospital my daughter scolded me, "Pa, what took you so long?"  i gently placed the back of my right hand by the side of her neck to feel if she still has some fever ... it is starting to subside ...

i silently thanked the Infinite.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

the ants of the 22nd floor

one time, last year, after my shift ended, i decided to pay my wife a visit and fetch her from work. their company holds office in a very tall building and they are at the 22nd floor. if i remember right the building has more than 30 floors. i was delighted to find the elevator ride so smooth. i hardly noticed it until a red light flashed 22 and the elevator stopped and automatically opened the door for me.

my wife will not be off till 6 pm so i have to wait for her. i decided to while the time away reading the day's paper and drinking some coffee at their small pantry. after finishing my coffee i stood up to wash the cup but i remembered they don't have any faucet there. used cups and dishes are deposited in a plastic bucket and the office utility person washes them later. i was about to put my used cup into the plastic bucket when my eye caught this frenzy of activity in the bucket. the other used dishes inside are already teeming with ants! my initial reaction was to fill my cup with water and spray it over the ants to disperse them or kill them. but, a nagging question popped in my mind which deterred my evil plan.--- HOW WERE THESE PUNY CREATURES ABLE TO FIND THEIR WAY TO THE 22ND FLOOR?

did they march their way from the ground to way up here? if they did, i surely would love to discover the source of their strength and their energy. it will make me rich!

did they ride the elevator like i did?

did they "beam up" like our captain kirk and his enterprise crew of the famous star trek series? can they teleport? or apparate like harry potter and his magical friends?

did they ride the gentle wind, gliding freely aloft over invisible wings and land unscathed on the 22nd floor window and sneak inside the pantry and guided by their instincts find the unwashed dishes in the bucket?

suddenly, this realization came to me and i am humbled: if these little creatures, these little lives, can find means to scale these heights, these lofty places, how can not i, a man of higher intellect and superior abilities, be able to reach the loftier abodes and planes of existence that my Creator designed me to behold and experience?

it is because i am not trying hard enough. i am not willing it. unlike these ants of the 22nd floor. come to think of it, surely there will be ants even up to the 30th floor!

i am not willing it.

i have let myself be trapped and be deluded by the illusions of this material world. i forgot that i am not just mere physical body. that i am something else. that i have this real Self that transcends death and is designed by its Creator to scale higher planes of existence and eventually to unite with the Creator to enjoy Eternal Truth, Knowledge, and Bliss.

the first step is to awaken. to know that we are not just physical bodies that die and rot and become dust.

it will not take just an ant bite to awaken most every one of us. but, an ant bite especially from an ant of the 22nd floor, might start the mind's wheel to turn inwardly ...

Friday, December 03, 2010

jeepney music and old Sages

we were riding a jeepney on our way to her dormitory. my daughter and me. we were both lost in our own thoughts. suddenly i saw this faint smile on her lips.

"what's funny?" i asked,"you seem so amused."

"aw, it's nothing," she answered, "it's just this music being played on this jeepney. haven't you noticed?"

i paused for awhile to listen. she's right it's not the usual loud music that most of the jeepneys are playing. it's not the usual rap or heavy metal sound where your heartbeat is inconvenienced by the heavy bass line. most of these jeepneys' sound systems are set up to over emphasize the bass component of the sound so that its thump thumping actually thuds against one's chest. personally, i find it unsettling. my chest feels very heavy hearing this over emphatic boom of the bass. it's not music to me. it's unnerving noise. it's like you're inside a war zone in these loud jeepneys. oh, how these drivers love to pump up the volume. perhaps they do this because a lot of the commuters are turned on or attracted by this. maybe this is part of business.

but to this driver it is different. his is easy listening. soft melodious music. a little bit of jazz and blues. the volume is just right. just teasing the ear to strain a bit, not to hear, but to Listen. to Listen. the eardrum does not burst with the bass line. it's just there. you just feel the thump, the thud of its rhythm. the heart sits unruffled and the melody lulls you to think or to ponder or to doze off or to meditate even. to be quiet by yourself.

the old Sages and Masters hint of this. the Infinite, they say, expresses Itself through Light and Sound. each of us has this. Divine Light and Divine Sound, they are just one, they say. when we are able to recognize the divinity within us, our True Self, this will manifest. the Sages refer to this as the Music of the Spheres. the Eternal Sound that permeates all creation. this is not heard by the external ear but is listened to by the inner man. by the inner ear. this is silent sound.

this is the hidden music that the sufi dancers listen to inwardly as they swirl and twirl round and round and round in ecstatic celebration of Life's divinity. this is the music that poets listen to when they choose a word that becomes a component of their poem. this is the music that artists, painters, photographers listen to every time they choose the conglomeration and juxtaposition of colors in a particular moment in their mind' eye.

the old Sages affirm when you hear this you are truly Home. and when you are truly Home then you will be truly Happy.

i smiled back at my daughter but she did not see it. her eyes were closed. i believe that in this instance her mind's eye is choosing a conglomeration and juxtaposition of colors in preparation when she wields her camera to capture one of life's moments. she might be truly Home this instant.

i closed my eyes too. i have to let the inner ears choose the words to fill my next blog or my next poem. i'd like to listen to that silent music, that soothes and caresses, that affirms Life, Light, Love.

i'd like to be truly Home even for a bit of a second ...

i know, all of us would like to be truly Home, to be truly Happy.

**** image by neysa saguid copyright 2010.