Monday, December 26, 2011

mr. bullfrog, merry christmas!

it was about 3;30 in the morning, i hurriedly went out of our gate and walked towards where i get my ride for work.  two more days and it will be christmas again.  the early morning's not too cold and my body felt rather lazy as i walked.  i have these bodily signs i'd be stricken with colds.  my throat is alternately itchy and sore and my nose feels clammy and wet. 

i'm the only person around.  walking silently.  from a distance i could hear some singing.  it was karaoke before but now it is videoke.  i guessed some people just could not wait for christmas day to get their parties started.  judging from the way the songs were being sung, those singers surely had one too many drinks.  yet, people who hear the songs surely will forgive the singers.  it's not the song, it's not the singer, it's the occasion. december is supposed to be a happy month.  a month of revelry, reconciliation, sharing, loving. those in the christian world should especially know this, as this is the month that the birth of Jesus the Christ is being remembered and celebrated.

walking slowly now as i turned the familiar bend in the road, i suddenly felt so alone.  i looked up at the clear sky.  the stars were there with their pinlights.  the wind is soft against my face.  how many christmases now, i thought to myself. oh, so many now. and in my life, people have come and gone. for some i have vivid memories, for others,  just faint recollections. 

ah, life!  ah, time!  time-life, life-time, is passing by!  what have i accomplished?  what have i done?  what is the significance of my existence?

my philosophizing mind somehow got snagged when my eyes caught this strange protrusion on the road several yards from me. i thought it was a big rock judging from the shadow it cast on the ground.  the light from the streetlamp behind it did not help much.  i took cautious steps as i neared it. i was even imagining it might be a coiled snake waiting to strike me.  it was not moving.  i sidestepped so it will not be in my direct path.  when i was about four feet from it,  it suddenly croaked.  it might have heard my steps and got startled itself but still it did not budge. just made that sound. like a piece of hard carton being ripped wildly.  i stopped when i got opposite the figure.

it was a very large bullfrog.  its round eyes were bulging and were staring ahead not minding me.  its coarse skin is so thick. it was sitting calmly on its hind legs.  i tried to stomp my foot to create a distraction but i guessed it never heard me.  it just kept on staring ahead.  looking at something or nothing.  suddenly, a thought flashed in my mind as i stared at this unmoving creature. it is telling me this --

" i am me.  i am being myself. i am expressing my bullfrogness."

 i felt ashamed as i walked past him.  he just sat there. alone as i am alone again walking towards the jeepney stop.

 well, merry christmas, mr. bullfrog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

unwrapping gifts

o, how the wheels of time had turned so fast! it is december again.  i remembered this was the time last year when i had to cope with chelsea and her newborn pups.  well, it was such an experience. a heartwarming experience.

being december, most of us are again so eager to celebrate christmas. to enjoy warmth and camaraderie with friends and family.  we will, of course, not forget, to continue the traditional practice of gift giving.  the sharing of whatever blessings we have received from the Infinite. this is, i think, our own approximation of the Infinite's great act of giving, when we were afforded the physical presence of Jesus the Christ so that His Light may benefit us all.

and so we give. and we are given.  in our own small ways, we try to share. often, it is material bounties that we give and receive.  now, if this is not possible, we share our presence: our love, our friendship, our companionship, our life, and our light. we all feel empowered and blessed by this feeling of oneness and communion with our fellows.

i remembered this scene in one of the christmas movies i saw.  the lead female character was surprised to see a very big gift box in her room. it was festooned with ribbons.  excitedly she opened the box. she found another smaller ribboned gift box inside.  she opened this smaller box and again she found an even smaller box inside.  she kept on doing this several times, the smile on her face revealing her increasing amusement.  finally, she arrived at the final box, and there she found a beautiful diamond engagement ring!  she was teary-eyed with immense joy.

recalling the words of the Old Sages and Masters, we should be like this lady.  we should not stop till we have fully unwrapped the true gift we have received from the Great Creator.  our "diamond ring", our True Self, is encased in elaborate gift wraps and ribbons and sheaths, and we have to painstakingly peel off these coverings, layer by layer, till we behold this True Gift.  we must not be distracted and keep on unwrapping.

when at last we have finally unsheathed the last of the coverings, then we will see,

and we will understand,

and our hearts will be exceedingly glad for always.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

she's there waiting

in one of my mind's meanderings, there came this figment of a remembrance, one of those days way back in college when i chanced to visit the park's breakwater by the sea ... i was able to observe this girl, she was with some companions enjoying the sea breeze and the silky touch of early sunshine on our skins, she had this faint smile etched on her face,  i supposed she felt happy, just as i supposed i was happy that time.

i think we are like this at some moments in our life, we just suppose to be happy.  we just force a smile to be etched on our faces.  genuine happiness feels a lot different, if only for a fleeting moment.

there's a girl that i know
who loves to go to the shoreline
and looks at the sea with her blind eyes.

she's always there
waiting for the sun to rise
for she believes it's rays will make her see.

and the waves make her smile
but the smile's all in vain.
and the waves make her smile
but the smile's of a fool.

the Old Sages and Masters have taught that genuine happiness is achievable.  we only need to remember how to get at it.  the key is inside our True Self.

we might be blind outside, but, inside, within the Inner Self, we are all-seeing...  let us all begin the journey towards genuine happiness.  the first step is to close the eyes.  then, start to look within.  discover the Inner Self.  let us all remember, the True Self is ever genuinely happy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

the great debate

i was inside a jeepney again, on my way to work.  it was 2:30 am.  we were only about six people inside the jeepney excluding the driver.  the vehicle was gliding steadily.  the driver was making occasional stops on street corners hoping to pick up more passengers.  outside, the darkness of the night is bedecked with yellow and white bright spots from street lights and houselights left open by their sleeping occupants.  i imagined a fancy dress i saw in one of these glossy ladies' magazines, a long black gown with dots of shimmering sequins. the designer might have been riding a jeepney when he thought of creating that gown.

across me, on the opposite seat, were a father and his son.  the boy was about three or four years old.  his father had his right arm around the little one and the boy was comfortably cradled as the vehicle sped along.  they were conversing animatedly and i couldn't help but listen in.

"dad, i won't sleep," the boy declared in a little halting speech, "we are already near our house." he pointed his little forefinger outside towards where this gown-night's sequins were. yet, he was not pointing to any specific location outside, just to the passing silhouettes of houses.

"oh, but you should," his dad answered, "we're still a long way off and you need to sleep so you'll grow up fast, be tall and strong like me."  the dad playfully curled his left arm and a small knot of firm biceps  had formed.  the little one touched it but looked unimpressed.

"i don't want to sleep. i don't want to miss our house. mom's waiting. and you always fall asleep yourself!" the boy was insistent.

"no, we won't miss it this time.  i'll be awake, i promise." the father answered. he looked smilingly. he knew i was listening to their conversation.  i nodded and smiled back.

they kept at this near or far debate for some minutes. after a while, i saw the little one yawn and soon he was sleeping soundly.  his dad lifted up the boy's legs and set them comfortably on the empty seat.  the jeepney glided through the sequined night.  soon, as the boy foretold, dad was also dozing off.

i'll never know who won this "great" debate cause i got off the vehicle ahead of the two. based on my scoring both had each earned a point.  the father was right about their place being still far.  the little boy was right about his dad falling asleep.  the deciding factor will be whether they'll miss their house or not.

i've placed my bet on the little one, though.  he was so convincing when he reminded his father about his being a sleepyhead himself.  i can only imagine the things the little one will say to dad if he wakes up ahead of him and learns they've missed their place again!

it is things like this that make life amusing and funny.  oh, what wonderful creatures we all are!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

life disturbing

yesterday i went to buy some fresh bean curds at the public market near our house.  it's already 7:00 am in the morning and as usual the market was already teeming with people.  vendors and buyers alike were all very alive.  haggling over prices and then of course there were the usual debates over the quality of the goods.  even i tried hard to haggle over the price of the bean curd. the girl vendor offered them at 3 pieces per 10 pesos.  i informed her i was able to get them at 7 pieces for 20 pesos the other day.  the girl displayed a disbelieving face. she smiled and told me the price has always been 3-for-10.  i argued i always buy here at the same marketplace.  finally, we agreed that if i buy 40 pesos worth then she'll give me an extra piece.  so i happily walked away with thirteen pieces of fresh bean curd squares.  these will see me through a week's meals.

i was walking past the market security outpost when i overheard this announcement by a lady officer.  she was speaking through a bullhorn and her voiced boomed loud enough to soar above the proverbial marketplace noise and the street traffic.


wow! i said to myself. it's 7:30 now so the boy's been separated from his parents for more than three hours. it's amazing that they have not returned immediately to pick him up.  i went near the outpost to catch a glimpse of him.  his eyes were a bit puffy and reddened obviously from so much crying.  he's quiet now, busy munching a piece of bread and sipping soda that the lady guards gave him.  their description of him was perfect except that he looked very untidy.  his white tee was really not white because it bore dirt and grime, his blue shorts were very dirty as well, and it's assured he had not changed clothes for some days. it appeared he really needs some good scrubbing.

my mind got disturbed looking at him.  i lingered by the outpost for a while.  the lady officer's voice boomed over the bullhorn again announcing this lost child.  the lady officers waited.  the child waited.  i waited. our eyes were eagerly scanning all directions.  we were all in prayerful anticipation.

no one came to claim him.

the little boy pursed his lips.  he was about to cry again.  it's been thirty minutes since i stood by the outpost.

i turned around and walked towards the direction of my home.  i'll be home soon.

i don't know about the little boy.  i just hope someone will come get him.  i've read a lot of stories of children getting abandoned by impoverished, irresponsible parents.  life is really disturbing.

at a distance as i walked, i once more heard the lady's voice over the bullhorn.  well, the day's still early.  the boy's been at the outpost for just about four hours.  his parents might just be looking at the wrong place.  they will come soon.

i hope.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

weight watching

i was able to go home early from work the other day.  i thought of giving myself some respite by dropping by to the nearest mall.  many times, i found that a fine way of de-stressing is to amuse oneself with the material opulence that the mall displays. lots of stores inside, offering a variety of goods that promise of bodily comfort and aggrandizement.  soothing to the body, soothing to the ego. that is, if one will be able to afford them.  anyways, visiting the mall is always a good way of making oneself current because one can physically see the latest products that are being advertised. 

this time, however, what stopped me and caught my attention were the people inside the mall's physical fitness center. i was passing by the center when one of its sales agents handed me a brochure detailing their latest physical program offers.  even outside, one can see some of the people who have already enrolled and are enjoying the center's facilities.

i watched them.  every one so preoccupied with the exercise regimen they enrolled in.  some were on the stationary bikes.  others were on the tread mills.  still others were on the various exercise machines. pushing, pulling.  perspiring, sweating heavily, panting, gasping at precious breath, burning unwanted fats and calories.  the target is to tone the body, to tune the body.  to bring down the weight to the desired limit.  to be healthy again. or, to extend the state of health that they are now blessed with. 

i stared at them all and immediately the reminder of my Master came to mind -- we must strive to keep the body fit, to be always at the best of health.  the sole purpose of prolonging our lives is to be able to have more time to contemplate the Infinite, to achieve full realization of our True Self.  being born in a human body is a great gift from the Infinite because it is only in this form that we are allowed the opportunity to know our True Being. being gifted with a human incarnation allows us to be a citizen of the inner worlds.  to focus the consciousness inward, to know the Real Self, to realize what is Eternal, Unchanging, Unending.  thus, to watch the weight, to be healthy, just to prolong one's enjoyment of the physical, ever changing world, just to be able to focus our attention to the outside worlds, defeats the purpose of having good health.

as i watched them, i also realized this other thing.  there is another weight that we must bear watching. and we must be equally diligent on this.  we must always watch the weight of our words, the weight of our opinions.  so many times we have been so careless. we forget that our words and opinions bear weight. words have power.  when used carelessly, they can hurt, they can pull down others to the abyss of despair, they can invoke unhappiness and bitterness,  they can bring darkness. 

 and so we must be careful and diligent. 

we must be weight watchers.  but,

we must do it right. 

always, we must strive to be light, 
and, we must become Light..

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

snowie the tailless

he was, in their dog community, the laughing stock.  he knows the reason why.  he was born without a tail.  that's why they called him snowie the tailless.  he often wondered why.  his father and his mother and his sister have beautiful tails.  he knows there are kinds of dogs that really have short tails but he belongs to the kind that should have beautiful furry tails.

when he was a puppy this did not mean much to him. in fact, he thought, this had made him special and more adorable than his sister.  he enjoyed the attention given him especially by people who could not resist cuddling him  and poking at his behind trying to locate his missing tail.  when he grew up he was surprised that the other dogs are making a big deal out of this.  he still get special attention as he went around but this time he felt this as rather much of a mockery or disdain or pity even.  many of the dogs distanced  themselves from him.  they don't want to be seen in his company.  it's as if his being tailless makes him less of a dog than them.  even his people friends now think that he looks so funny.  he is now a clown to them not the cute puppy he was once before.

yet, he is not sad nor embittered by this.  he knows the Infinite loves him as much as It loves the other dogs.  he believes there is a reason for his being tailless.  he just smiled at those that openly ridiculed him and made fun of him.

now, there is in the neighborhood this other dog. he is big and handsome and has this long hairy tail that he proudly curls up and his brown fur is shiny and he is so strong and he is the envy of the other dogs. i don't know what they call him but he is quite popular. he is actually considered something like a royalty.  this is probably the reason why this dog turned  up to be so egotistical, if i may say so, and a bully.  he is mean and short-tempered.  he always expects other dogs to kowtow to him in meek submission.  thus, whenever he is walking about in the neighborhood, he is always accompanied by other dogs servile to him, and other dogs always scamper to every other direction just so they may not cross paths with him and his coterie.

so there was this instance when snowie the tailless crossed path with handsome dog and his cohorts.  snowie was of course aware of handsome dog's reputation.  he wanted to backtrack as other dogs do.  yet, there was this feeling within him that he does not need to.  he is not in any way interfering with handsome dog's business.  so he proceeded on his way.  handsome dog and his gang were surprised and stunned at snowie's disrespect.  immediately, he snarled at snowie as his gang surrounded him.

"i don't like your show of disrespect," he blurted at snowie in his booming voice, "you should have chosen to turn back!"  he fixed his glaring eyes at snowie knowing full well that this never fails to elicit fear in dog' hearts.

"i'm sorry, sir." answered snowie trying very hard not to show the trepidation welling in him.  instinctively he felt this twitching in his back muscles so that he can tuck in his tail between his legs as a sign of fear. yet, much as his back muscles were voluntarily trying to do so, he can't do it. there was no tail to tuck in between his legs!  so he did this other thing that surprised him as well. he met handsome dog's fierce eyes with his own fixed gaze hoping his eyes will not betray his fear. he steadied his beating heart and composed himself. he masked his fear by contorting his face in a snarl mirroring handsome dog's who's face is within inches away. he can actually feel the hotness of his breath.

"go ahead! turn back!" handsome dog commanded and glared at snowie more fiercely than ever. yet, he saw this dog was not budging an inch. and this dog was actually returning his gaze and his snarl with an equal ferocity.  he looked at snowie's behind. there is a small clump of hair at this dog's back.  he's sure it's sort of a tail but definitely it's not tucked in. this dog does not fear him at all!  doubt crept in his heart.  for the first time, he met a dog that did not cower in fear of him and his  cohorts.  lesser dogs should have tucked their tails between their legs and should have scampered away.  but this one is tough.  this one looks prepared to engage him in a fight if he goes ahead as to lift a paw at him.  this tailless dog does not breath heavily as other scared dogs do.  handsome dog realized he never really experienced any actual dog fights before!  other dogs run away before any actual fight happens.  handsome dog looked at his gang.  they were equally amazed how snowie had stood his ground against their boss.  handsome dog felt a slight twitch of muscle behind him.  much as he willed against it, this twitch somehow made him lose his control of his upright tail and it sagged by his hind legs.  he is experiencing fear for the first time.

"okay, i'll forgive you this time," handsome dog finally said, "but, next time we cross paths again, there will be no mercy.." the way handsome dog muttered this line, it's not actually being said to snowie, he is directing this to his gang, trying to save face.  "let's go!" he boomed and walked past snowie who stood transfixed not wanting to move.  snowie was also more than surprised.  as the other dogs filed past him, they looked at him in admiration.  snowie knows this day will change every thing for him.

yes, i know this is just a dog's tale (pun intended).  yet,  i also know that sometime in our lives we have experienced this. there were times when we have discovered inadequacies in us that eroded our confidence in our selves and in our abilities. 

and yet, like snowie, we need to trust the Infinite and its Love. 

there is a reason for every thing.

we must always remember, there will always be handsome dogs that will come our way, who will bully us and try to strike fear in us, but we must overcome fear and self-doubt,

we must know our real Self,

the real Self will never ever be inadequate.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

when i found this road

when i found this road
with it's narrow path
i said to myself
that i will not pass
though the signboards say
that it leads to where
all my joys i'll find
where i'll finally stay.

my heart said to me
you should pass this way
just believe the words 
that the signboards say
this is where you'd find
all the joys you seek
this is where you'll have everlasting peace.

the Old Sages and Masters always remind us -- go inside!

seek within, find thy Self.

this is where all roads lead . . .

Friday, November 04, 2011

firefly people

just a couple of weeks back my daughter sent a text message to me.  she's coming home late at night from school and she wanted me to wait for her by the village gate.  we always fetch her.  either my wife or i, every time she comes home late nights.  we don't want her walking alone from village gate towards home. there've been several reports of people getting held up even inside the village premises.

it had just stopped raining. there's a storm a-brewing and rains and winds come intermittently.  it's almost 11:00 in the evening.  i sat by the cemented steps of a nearby store overlooking the street just outside the village gate.  the sky above is hazy and you could not see even the nearest star.  there's a slight drizzle and the wind is trying to make up its mind whether to blow gently or roughly.  i amused myself trying to make out the night sounds i'm hearing, whether they were frogs or night lizards or night birds perhaps? 

i did not wait long.  a jeepney stopped by and my daughter alighted from it.  i stood up and waited for her as she crossed the street.  she smiled at  me and hooked her right arm on my left arm.  we marched lazily up towards the village gate.  all of a sudden, electric power was cut off..  all of the street lights were off.  it was very dark. we stood unmoving and tried to get ourselves accustomed to the blackness. 

"father, look!" my daughter exclaimed.  she nudged me and directed my attention towards the empty lot just in front of where we stood.  i squinted my eyes a bit and fixed my gaze to where she pointed.  instantly i saw what she saw.

"fireflies!" i said, "lots of them."

they were beautiful against the blackness that surrounded us. little pinpoints of light. dimming then brightening in rhythmic abandon.  pinpoints of light in dance.  teasing the darkness that suddenly engulfed us. darkness that cannot extinguish their little lights.  darkness that actually intensified their glow!

"it's been so long since i last saw these many fireflies." i confessed to my daughter.  she was listening, i know, but she was focused more on enjoying this impromptu dance of lights.

and then, just as suddenly, electric power was restored, the street lamps came on again and the blackness was subdued.  the show was over.  we slowly marched forward towards home.

before i went to sleep, i relived that brief moment. 

i realized there are firefly people. and they are in our midst.  living with us.  and many of them might not know it themselves. that they are firefly people.

they are the ones that have this inner glow, this inner light. that on occasions when we find ourselves mired in blackness or swimming in darkness, utterly lost, misdirected, they come forth.  some knowingly, many others unknowingly.  their inner glow, their inner lights suddenly getting magnified against the blackness. and their glow beckons to us, gives us joy, hope, strength, fortitude, direction and guides us through the blackness or darkness till we are able to step back into the light. into finding our own inner lights. and just like the fireflies, once light is restored,  they just fade out silently.  even us, we often never realize that we've been helped. 

so we never are able to show gratitude.  i believe that the best way to show thankfulness is to become a firefly person our-self.  on occasions of darkness or blackness, let us try to show our inner glow, our inner light, the best way we can.

then, soon as darkness is dispelled, and light is restored,

fade away silently ...  just like a regular firefly.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

"why are you giving away that jacket?"

"why are you giving away that jacket?" the wife asked.

"well, it's because it's just there lying sadly in the closet, unused.  i found someone who has better use for it." i answered.

she understood.

a jacket becomes a jacket only if it's worn and serves it's purpose of giving warmth and bodily protection.  come to think of it, a thing becomes the real thing only when it is able to express its utility. 

so i gave it to a friend.  he was elated.

"this is real nice of you," he said approvingly while fitting the jacket, "i surely need this.  i'm driving a motorbike and this will protect me.  its bright colors will help other motorists see me better especially at night.  during rainy days, its water repellant material will prevent me from getting wet."  he gave me a huge thank you smile.

i realized this is also the very reason why i write.

sometimes i have this song in my heart, this poem in my gut, this story in my head.  i feel i have to write them down and send them over vast distances of internet space.  i am hoping that somewhere, somehow, these things i write will connect with someone.  and this someone will find some sort of comfort or solace or possibly a germ of an inspiration and enable him or her to live better in his or her part of the universe even just for a short while.  even for just that reading moment.

we should never hesitate to give away a spare jacket. 


we should never hesitate to write down thoughts in our head.  we should never hesitate to express what we feel be it in a poem, in a song, in a painting, in a photograph, in a dance, or in any other medium of communication. 

we should never hesitate to try

to communicate.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

peaceful and easy

there are moments in life when it is not enough to express one's jubilation and gratitude to the Infinite in written words.

one feels compelled to sing or dance or paint.  one needs to celebrate the feeling through the song or the movement or the image one hears or sees with the inner ear or the inner eye.  although one is not blessed with a voice for singing or the skill to paint or to dance, still, the actual act of singing or painting or twirling the body in exuberant movement brings completion to the moment of praise. thank you, o Infinite!

i cannot dance. i cannot paint.  i cannot sing.

yet, if only for this wonderful gift of feeling 

i will be brave enough to sing or paint or dance.

i see the Beauty of the Lord everyday
i feel the Power of the Lord in the way
the shining sun, the moon, the stars, in the sky
makes me feel easy,
peaceful and easy,
that i want to live my life for the Lord.

the gentle drops of rain fall down on my back
sweet, crystal pearls that simply roll down and burst
bringing the song that only leaves could have sung
makes me feel easy,
peaceful and easy,
that i want to live my life for the Lord.

let us not be afraid or ashamed.

let us dance.  let us paint.  let us sing.

for the One that makes us all and lets us be ....

Monday, October 24, 2011

a cold soup that warms

i wont forget this one way back during my college days.  a storm's been announced to be coming and we were advised to get home early.

after my last class rain's already pouring and wind's rather hard. by the time i reached the bus stop i was already soaking wet.  problem was,  it's difficult to get a ride.  two hours had passed and still i was there at the bus stop waiting.  storm's already beginning to lash.  scared, i decided i'll be better off passing the time away at the college until the storm's fury has subsided.  i went back but the security persons did not let me in despite my protestations and my explanation that it's really too difficult to get a ride home.  i even pleaded to them that i can stay just right there at the guardhouse.  yet, i just got an apology from them.  i understood.  they were just following orders.

i was frantic.  i cannot stay out in the streets.  i decided to return to the bus stop and brave the strong winds and the rains.  at the bus stop, i waited for a ride again. my patience was thinning but i can't do anything.  suddenly, i heard somebody call my name.  i turned around towards the direction of the voice.  i immediately recognized him as one of my classmates in my english class.  he was not a close acquaintance though.

"why are you still here?" he asked, "our classes have been dismissed almost three hours ago!"

"well, it's really difficult to get a ride home," i explained, "i've been waiting here for about two hours. i actually just came back here to wait further. i thought i could stay at the college but the guards did not let me in."

"oh i see. i think that's when i chanced to see you walking out of the gate. i decided to follow you and lend you an umbrella but you can't hear me over the wind and rain.  are you sure you can get a ride home at this time?" he asked with genuine concern.

"to tell you honestly," i answered, "i believe i won't be able to get a ride. the storm will start to get worse as i feel it."

"then stay with me for a while," he offered, "at least until the storm subsides."

i did not think twice when i heard this. "great!" i said, "thanks a lot."

we both hurried back to the dorm where he was staying. he talked to his landlady and explained my predicament.  the lady understood my situation and allowed me to stay.  my friend was actually renting a single occupant room and the dorm's rules were rather strict.  i was lucky.  i inwardly thanked the Infinite.

as i feared it, the storm did not subside immediately.  my friend and i holed up in that cramped room and passed the time discussing our assignments and then later, when the power was cut off and we can't read our notes and books, exchanged personal information so we'd know each other better.  we found out we have a lot in common most especially our love for books and information towards exploring the inner life, towards knowing the Inner Self.  by the light of a lone candle, we amused ourselves alternately playing his old guitar and singing our favorite songs and reciting stanzas from our favorite poems.

"i'm starved," he said.  he shoved the guitar to me, stood up and went out of the room.  after a few minutes he came back cupping a medium sized bowl in his hands. he handed me one of the spoons he was holding.

"this is soup. my leftover from this morning's breakfast." he explained.  "sorry, it's cold. i can't reheat it. we only have an electric stove at the common kitchen. let's eat!" he invited.  i smiled. i did not tell him while he was out i secretly counted my money hoping that i could give some to him so might be able to buy something. but alas! my money's just enough for my fare going home.

so we dug at that bowl of soup. honestly, if it was he who cooked it, it tasted terrible, especially since it was cold.  i did not dare ask though who cooked it.  his hospitality was more than enough.

the winds and rains finally subsided very late in the evening.  he offered to let me stay the night but i explained i  still have time to get home.  my parents were also waiting and since we don't have phone i was sure they were anxious for my return.  i thanked him for his help and much more for the newly forged friendship. i've known another kindred spirit.

on the bus on my way home, i suddenly burped.  i licked my lips.  there still was this awful aftertaste of that soup me and my friend had shared.  i smiled inwardly.  i again thanked the Infinite for the day's blessings.

my newfound friend's soup, it was cold, but, it was a cold soup that warms .. especially the heart.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

the common road

i was not able to visit the internet for so many days.  i was so busy helping my daughter with preparations for her thesis.  we had to visit the home province of one of my folks. it's been more than twenty years since  i left that place.  when i returned there, floods of emotions overwhelmed me.  it was the province where i spent most of my early youth and i have had very fond memories of the place and the people.  many past experiences were refreshed in my mind. i am back to the city now and i am reliving the five days i spent there. maybe it will be later when i can write something about the experience.

i am now able to surf and two news greeted me --

1.  the death of steve jobs -- well, many things have already been said about his exceptional contribution to humankind, all i can say is: A TRULY GREAT JOB, STEVE! thanks a lot!

2. the closing of my friend christopher dos santos' blog, god i am = god you are (  -- brother chris is doing so for personal reasons.  to him, i'll say this, A TRULY INSPIRATIONAL JOB and thanks a lot!

i remember a song i was blessed enough to write many years ago about friends and leaving:

 it's hard to leave some friends you've had for long
 for in their company you've felt so strong
 but it's got to be this way
 we've got different roads to take
 and you know you've got your own road to tread on.

 yes, it's really hard to leave some friends behind
 but you can't help it just remember them in your mind
 for it's got to be this way
 we've got different roads to take
 and you know you've got your own road to tread on.

 for life is something we should learn
 life is something we should earn
 yes, life is something we should learn
 life is something we should earn .

 but don't you ever feel so disappointed
 for don't you know the roads all lead to One
 just keep on searching till you find
 the road that's in your mind
 the common road you and your friends will tread on

 for Life is something we should learn
 Life is something we should earn
 yes, Life is something we must learn
 Life is something we must earn....

Friday, October 07, 2011

amazing! down but not out ...

the wife got sick.  abused herself doing lots. trying to do so many things at the same time. multitasking so to speak, especially housework.  she might have thought she was as able as before.  well, she might have forgotten there was already a march of years and she's not that able-bodied as before.  our bodies can only allow so much.

now, this is what's commendable with mothers/housewives.  they always have this superhero mentality.  they think their husbands and children always need saving.  and so, they push themselves. they are always on the rescue mode.  they don't need to don a cape and a mask to assume their superhero persona.  they just manage to eke out a little more burst of energy from some hidden reservoir in their bodies to accomplish more than they need to.

it's amazing how they have this super vision where they see things that need attending to which us, husbands, daughters, and sons, fail to see.  where we see order, they see disorder and restore it.  where we declare as accomplished and done, they  insist unfinished and undone and  complete the doing.  99% of the time, they are proven right.

what's sad about this is that we often take these super efforts for granted.  it's probably because they're doing these regularly that we think these are not out of the ordinary.

so the wife got sick.  i have to tend to her.  high fever, almost 40 degrees C.  i have to administer a sponge bath to alleviate the fever.  well, i remember seeing her do this during the times when our daughter was having bouts with high fever.  hahaha, what's funny is, although she's down, she's still in her superhero rescue mode.  trying to teach me how to administer the sponge bath.  of course, my way is different.  despite her protestations, i did complete my own version of sponge bathing.  i think i managed to do it right since the fever somehow subsided and she said she actually felt better.  i don't know whether she said this just to humor me and make me feel good that i've helped her.  perhaps, this is another way of expressing her superhero mode.  trying to project that she's well and fine, when in truth she is inconvenienced.

mothers/housewives, i think, were designed this way -- always to project a strong, healthy image -- so that us husbands, sons, and daughters can go about doing our own business, without the least worry about them.

she was able to catch some sleep a short while later but i'm sure her face does not show a relaxed sleep. well, i told myself: this superhero needs help and i'll accompany her to a doctor first thing in the morning ...

Monday, October 03, 2011

in the face of death again

a friend had recently died. the wife and i visited him where the family was holding his wake. he's still young, in his early fifties, left behind his wife and three beautiful daughters. it turned out it was already the last night for the wake and his family and dearest, closest friends, recalled their fond memories of him. he had touched many lives and was able to enrich these lives with his presence.

i was silent during these recollections. death brings sadness, yes, but it also compels us to reevaluate relationships and yes, it compels us to see the true worth of our dear departed.  the question in my mind, though, was this -- why is it that it is only when somebody is no longer physically with us that we discover the person's true value?  most times, while the person is still around with us, we very rarely commend him or her for the service or for the camaraderie that he or she affords us. i am really rethinking this. i must in my own little way not forget, not waste time, to show my appreciation for friendship, for companionship, while the person is still physically with me.

i will not wait for death to remind me of a person's worth.

i remembered this poem i was able to write when another dear friend died many moons ago.  i had the same thought as i am having now.

why did i not write a poem for this dear friend while he was alive? why did i wait for death?

this poem may well be for all of our loved ones who have left us ...

november 1, 1982

the lights are brightly lit now
and they are all for you
over your head and by your feet
they glow, they glow, oh, how they glow!
and yet, you'll never know now
yes, you'll never know
that they have not their usual warmth
they are as cold as you,
who lies unfeeling, unmoving,
unmindful of the teary eyes staring,
hoping, praying, faintly hoping
that you would smile anew;
ah, but the flowers confirm it,
their mournful scents deny it not,
your Life's song's final note has come to pass,
and yet it is assured you'll linger on in us,
like the ever verdant, persevering grass....

Friday, September 30, 2011

a white sheet of paper and a baby fly

two days ago, we were again visited by another typhoon. as forewarned by the weather bureau this typhoon had strong winds and lots of rain.  it of course brought lots of inconveniences. flooding. damage to properties in areas where it hit most. well, people have learned from previous experiences and we were able to find ways to soften the impact of this weather disturbance.

at our place power was cut off for about two days. we have to use candles for lighting. i could not brew some coffee since what i have is an electric coffeemaker. i just boiled some water and mimicked the action of the coffeemaker by pouring the hot water gently and slowly over the ground coffee wrapped in filter paper. nothing beats sweet smelling coffee when it comes to whiling the time away after the heavy onslaught of wind and rain.

power was off. so, no computer use, no internet, no surfing.

i sat by myself at the dining table. i pulled a sheet of bond paper and laid it on the table. despite the yellow glow of the lighted candles the fresh sheet of paper still looked very immaculate and inviting to write on. i gathered my thoughts. surely this typhoon that had just passed should prompt me to write something. long minutes had passed and still i am not able to compose anything. my brewed coffee had turned cold. i tried twirling the pen between the first and middle fingers of my right hand. i stared fixedly at the white sheet of paper. it's there waiting for my pen to touch and glide over its surface and then form words. i tried listening to the familiar drip, drip, drip of rainwater dropping from the ceiling leaks to the catch pails below.  my lighted candle had already cried melted wax towards the holder and the wax had formed an interesting puddle. still nothing. no thoughts to write about.

suddenly, a baby fly came out from nowhere and sat on my paper. perhaps the warmth and the light of the candle had attracted it. i looked at the tiny creature. its blackness was in very sharp contrast against the whiteness of my sheet. i felt this was not right. i flicked it with my finger and it flew off. by and by, it came again and sat in the middle of  the paper. somehow its blackness disturbed me, seeing it against the immaculate sheet.  i had this feeling it sort of "dirtied" the sheet. i twirled my pen near it and it flew off again. after a short minute, it came again and sat on the paper. without much further thought, i hit it with the palm of my right hand. there it laid, flat and dead, right near the middle of my paper. a black blot of squeezed insect.  now my white paper is no longer immaculate. realizing this, i hurried to rub it off while it had not dried yet.  well, this actually made matters worse. rubbing it off made the fresh blot to spread over to a bigger area. no more immaculate sheet to write on. i set my pen aside and crumpled the paper.

after a short while, using my mobile phone text editor, i composed a post for this leafdropper blog. i titled it -- a white sheet of paper and a baby fly.

most times we see ourselves as that sheet of bond paper. clean, immaculate, near perfect. we are so proud about this status and we take great pains to keep this reputation.  yet, being human, there comes a time when we commit a small mistake, an error, a trifle, that resulted to a " black blot" in that "white" image that we see.  we panic, and fearing that this trifle, this "baby fly",  will tarnish our clean image, we hurriedly take action to "rub out" or correct the mistake. yet, haste makes waste, as they say, and we end up covering the small mistake by an even bigger mistake.

we end up like the crumpled paper.and rue the time when we swatted the baby fly . . .

Thursday, September 22, 2011

a friend is one

you're asking me what is a friend?
have you forgotten what it means?
it's easy to know, easy to tell,
perhaps you should listen well
perhaps you should listen well.

a friend is one who makes you see
the opposite of things,
who pulls you up when you are down
and nursing broken wings,
and nursing broken wings;

a friend is one who knows you're not
always beautiful and good,
but ever tries to make you feel
always beautiful and good,
always beautiful and good.

a friend is one who cherishes
your body, mind, and soul,
in tears and laughter a friend is one
who'll always make you whole
who'll always make you whole.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

becoming thin

this might seem outrageous but i'll tell anyway.

i think i've found an effective way to become thin and people will be able to save lots of hard earned money.  nowadays, many are conned into enrolling in different weight-reducing programs.  after many months of valiant effort they regrettably realize that it was only the wallets that thinned not their bodies.

this was how i discovered my method:

"you're so thin now," the wife observed, "are you on a diet?"
"nope, did you see me eat less or take some special food?" i answered.
"no, you're eating as well as before. of course, it's still vegetarian, but you're still that voracious! but, why are you thin?" she had this concerned look in her face.

i looked at myself in the mirror when i was alone. i admit, i indeed might be looking thin or slim.  i think slim is the more socially accepted word or the fashionista word.  so i sat down and pondered, my chin propped up on my right hand the way a deep thinker does. i kept on turning the question over in my mind -- why are you thin?  in a short while, the answer popped in my mind.

worry. or, worrying.

this is what's caused my thinness. i always thought what i was doing was some thinking. now, i realized it's not thinking that i'm doing.  it is worrying. i worry a lot these days. about many things.  the leaky roof. the peeling paintwork of the house walls. the planned renovation of this humble abode.  expenses.  bills to pay.  even my daughter's ongoing work with her thesis prior to graduation from the university.  my neglect of my spiritual practices and endeavors. my planned meditations that had become unplanned. my guitar playing that got stuck on the amateur level. my unpublished poems.  and more recently, this ache in my back which the doctor said might be the onset of arthritis.  hah, getting old has its own disadvantages. oh, and so many other things.

so, here goes, here's my advice to people who'd want to be thin or slim without spending anything:

worry, and worry lots.  worry all the time if you can.  you're guaranteed to find in so short a time you've worried yourself thin.  when you're satisfied with your new size, stop worrying and resume the normal life mode.

hahaha...  outrageous?  absurd?  funny?  a joke, you say?  i'd say worth a try for those really dying to be thin.  or, slim.

or, you can just tell me -- leafdropper, stop worrying! your mind's giving you such crazy ideas now, your post  is just making me laugh.

now if this is the case, then good as well, for as they often say: laughter is the best medicine.

i'm actually trying hard now to laugh a lot these days.

might help with the painful back.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

for 9/11

death need not be feared as all of us are marching towards this end.  yet, when death comes unexpectedly and horribly, we are dumbfounded, especially when it is caused by an unreasonable struggle for power or blind faith.  this little poem is to remember that tragic date in world history --

two towers, two faiths,
each one seeking dominance --
thus, innocents died.

i will not say anything else except to quote the late great poet, john lennon:

life is very short and there's no time for fussin' and fightin' , my friend.

and this haunting song from him as well.

let us offer a moment of silence and remember ... and hope,  this will never happen,

ever again.

Monday, September 12, 2011

madonna and child

they were unmistakably happy, the three of them: the baby girl, barely a year old, comfortably seated in her father's lap; the young dad, his left arm securely wrapped around baby's waist; and the young mom, sitting opposite them, eyeing both lovingly.

mom was trying to amuse baby so she won't fall asleep. mom was making funny faces at her. baby laughed her toothless laugh, saliva escaping from her tiny mouth. mom was quick to catch it on her handkerchief. baby was surely enjoying mom's antics. 

what she loved the most was when mom resorted to the peek-a-boo. mom covers her face with both hands so baby can't see her. baby waits patiently, anticipation quietly building up on her cherubic face.  when she least expected it, mom opens up her hands exposing a funny face. baby gets startled, her tiny eyes twinkle at this surprise. her eyebrows rise.  when she realizes, the funny face was mom's, she breaks into a loud guffaw.  she could not contain her glee.  she had to stand up on dad's thigh. dad was alert enough to steady her.  she struggles to reach mom, stretching her chubby arms forward.  dad carefully hands her over to mom.  mother and child squeezes into a warm, tight embrace.  baby's saliva once more escapes her pink lips as she plants a wet kiss on mom.  mom's eyes lighten up and winks at me when she caught me staring.  she's so proud of baby's show of affection.

while having lunch at the office, i replayed this scene in my mind.  i realized, the Infinite, the Mother Beloved, often is like this with us. playing peek-a-boo. and yet, not like the baby girl who recognizes her mom's playful intentions and awaits with bated breath her eventual showing up, we tend to become impatient.  we pout, we whimper,  we wear a frown, and we ruin the moment when Beloved Mother appears to us again.  there is no elation, no welcoming back, no reaching out, to enfold the Infinite in our warm, tight embrace.

instead, we accuse, we question -- why'd you leave? why'd you hide? why'd you forsake me?

thus, by doing so, we fail, at the chance to show we are the Infinite's loving child.

Monday, September 05, 2011


i'm supposed to have written this several  weeks ago but i just can't make out the words to write. 

she's back, the wife, after several months of sojourn  in a foreign land. although she is not saying it, i suppose she is equally sad and happy to be back.  sad, because she had left exciting places where she was able to live wonderful moments that only a few people in our country were able to get the chance to experience; happy, because, well, she's back with us again.

there is this old filipino adage -- "ang ina ang ilaw ng tahanan" (the mother is the light of the home).  well, she's only been with us for some weeks and already this adage is once again proving to be so true. i always thought that i am doing well in terms of keeping the house in order. i am wrong. a woman's way, a mother's touch, is really sooo different.

where i found order, she found disorder and fixed it.
where i found comfort, she found discomfort and fixed it.
where i found light, she  found gloom, and brightened it.
the inconvenient spots in the house i am not able to see,  she saw them and made them convenient.

she came back to the same small house she left behind for me to tend. well, all i can say is i did the best i could.

it is the same small house the three of us, my wife, my daughter, and i, calls home -- the peeling paintwork on the walls, the old tiled flooring, the leaky ceiling, the tv set that sometimes work but most times wouldn't --  yet, i must admit, it feels so much different now that she's the one tending it.

our home. it is so much cozier. it is so much brighter. it is so much warmer.

it is, "homier"!

the food tastes better. the coffee is superb (it's the same coffee brand, the same old coffeemaker).  my daughter's smiles and mine are genuine proof. even the old guitar sounds much more melodious.

i agree. a woman's, wife's, mother's touch is way, way, of a different class.

Friday, September 02, 2011

the comfort of moss

here i go again, visited the wife's place in the province. whew! the stubborn grass is high again, so green and vibrant. challenging me to sit down on the sandy ground and start plucking them away, roots and all. i was told if you would like to get rid of the grass once and for all, you'd have to pluck 'em up and be sure you'd be able to unearth up to the roots.  well, i did that last time, but, as i can see, they are there again, carpeting the lawn unevenly. i guess, this is going to be a perennial battle. i know, grass will win. they have lasted for eons. the sand on my hourglass, on the other hand, is steadily flowing down.

and yet, i must admit, it is fun to pit my patience against the stubbornness of the grass. so, i sat on the sandy ground and plucked away. after an hour or so, i have several little mounds of plucked grass lined up like miniature mountains.

as i walked about admiring my handiwork and the devastation i wrought on the grass, my gaze landed on other little green things that had somehow managed to populate.

moss!  i have not noticed these before, but now that they have considerably grown and overpopulated, i decided i needed to remove them as well. they mostly stuck and sprouted on the lower portion of the cemented walls, in between crevices and cracks especially where the portion of the wall is rather damp. well, my reckoning is, when the walls were erected they were not there, so they have to be removed.

so i sat beside the spot where the moss had grown. they were beautiful, green, tiny plants. delicate. primeval. i have this feeling, they were older than me. they existed before me. like the grass. they were ancient. they were soft against my fingers and cold. they have their own peculiar scent different from the grass but equally pleasing to my nose. i kept on pulling at the clumps of moss. after i pulled  a handful from the crevice between the wall and the cement flooring, these wriggly, two-inch worms, pink and soft and delicate also, were revealed. they were hiding behind or beneath the tiny plants.

they were agitated at the sudden exposure to light and blindly crawled to where their instincts say coldness and dampness beckons. i watched them as they sought protection from the nearest clump of moss i have not touched yet.

i had this tinge of shame in my mind, having intruded in these little creatures' privacy. i felt they have sought the comfort of moss because they were just finding their niche in the Infinite's great scheme of creation. the grass, the moss, the wriggly worms, they were just finding their niche, their little spot, in this never-ending play of the Infinite. i realized, i, like them, am trying to establish my niche as well.

i am trying to find my own comfort of moss, well, maybe perhaps, a different kind of moss, but,

i am trying to find comfort.

Monday, August 29, 2011

the internet feeling

i had the occasion to video chat with my grandniece via the internet.  she smiled at me. i smiled back at her.  her eyes twinkled in merriment and i desperately tried to match that twinkle in her eyes. yet, i know my eyes will never be able to capture again that innocent gaze.

i know,  i have had that pure gaze once. i was a child once also.

as one grows older and learns of the ways of this world one becomes adulterated. one becomes a grown person and one's eyes project the adult viewpoint of life. as one becomes inured to participate in an adult's constant grind to achieve material gains and be on top of the heap, one becomes devious unknowingly, and one loses the inner child.  that aspect of his self that has the sense of wonder, that sense of awe, as he beholds the multiplicity of the Infinite's creation surrounding him. that sense of self that puts unwavering trust in the Infinite -- " i am the Infinite's child and i  reside in its bosom, i will not be forsaken. i will be eternally happy."

she smiled again at me. she twinkled her lovely eyes. she never said a word, yet, her  2-year old eyes bequeathed silent joy in my heart. i remembered a little poem i wrote for a child once --

oh, little child with a happy smile
wish i could just be you a while
and have those ruddy, fluffy cheeks
oh, your innocent happiness i seek

you care not for even one tomorrow
for you the future holds no sorrow
it seems like heaven's blessed showers
are poured upon your eternal flower.

she extended her hand towards me. i extended mine. our hands met, our fingers tried to intertwine.  there will be no sense of touch  though, as we are miles apart.  yet, we kept our hands on the monitor's screen. trying to touch. 

she smiled her innocent smile as we kept at this playfulness.  i smiled back at this craziness.

i am rediscovering my inner child.

Monday, August 22, 2011

of praying

just last sunday,  we heard mass. we came early so we were able to pick our seats. we chose a spot near and in front of the altar. there were already lots of people. it's a great feeling to be able to devote some time to congregate with others and praise and thank the Infinite. for the help and graces received.

i immediately noticed the young man sitting to the left of my daughter. he acted rather uncommonly. he kept on gnawing at his fingernails and talking with himself, laughing out loud occasionally. his eyes were always closed, and he was seemingly absorbed in his inner world.. i observed him and judging by his irregular actions i concluded he is a special child, somewhat autistic, or probably a bit mentally challenged. there was no hint of violence in his actions. i  looked around and saw a lady seated just behind him. i surmised she was his mother. the lady gave me a reassuring smile. she probably caught the apprehension in my eyes since her son is seated beside my daughter.

the mass began. immediately, there was this change in the young man's demeanor. he got so lively. he participated well in the singing and the prayer rituals. he knows the entire proceedings by heart. he still kept his eyes closed. he sang out loud, sometimes in tune, sometimes out of tune, sometimes in a bass voice, many times in high-pitched, his falsetto voice clearly soaring above the rest. yet, i am convinced, there is nothing more honest that what he is doing. his singing and his prayers come from his heart.

so when the priest prayerfully announced, "lift up your hearts to the Lord!" and we all answered "we lifted them up to the Lord!", i believe the young man is truly lifting his heart to the Infinite, with nary another thought preoccupying his inner self.

as for me, i lifted my heart to the Infinite as well, but, at the back of mind there were these pestering thoughts about some unfinished business that i'd have to complete once the mass is over.

my inner self is just not there last sunday..

Sunday, August 14, 2011

words, thoughts, feelings

some young friends invited me to go karaoke singing one time after a stressful workday.  just to unwind and release accumulated tension. i obliged and went with them.  it's nice to be around young people. they have this energy that is infectious and this gung ho attitude that spells fun and lightness of spirit even for a short while.

they drank beer and smoked and bantered a lot. all for camaraderie and laughter. all stresses and discomforts were being released. i joined in their fun and my inconveniences were dispelled as well. i know that these might come back, but, if only for a brief span of time my ill feelings, my hurts, my discomforts were forgotten.

i leafed through the big book of karaoke songs and scanned the titles. i need to carefully choose my piece. i need to sing one which is familiar with me and which tune i can carry.  i chose one by the bee gees -- words. it goes, "smile, an everlasting smile, a smile could bring you near to me ..."  

well, my song went well, if i may say so, since i did not receive any catcalls or boos from my youthful friends.  or perhaps, they just don't want to show disrespect?  ha, ha.  while sitting there sipping my cold coffee, the last paragraph of this beautiful song came back to my mind --

you think that i don't even mean
a single word i say
it's only words but words are all i have
to take your heart away.

i think there is great wisdom in these lyrics. we humans communicate our thoughts and feelings via language. via words. of course, most times, words are inadequate to express the exact meaning of what we want to convey. and yet, we have to express what we need someone else to know.

and so, i thought, this is why it is important that we choose our words well. once uttered, we cannot take them back. most human relationships get ruined in this way.  most pains, hurts, inconveniences, discomforts, and quarrels, result from our careless choice of words.

of course, careful use of words can also heal pains, hurts, discomforts and quell strife and fix misunderstandings. yet, better it is to prevent these negativities from ever happening than to take great effort to dispel them later.

when it was my time to sing again, i chose to sing the same song.  my youthful friends teased that i knew only one song. i just mischievously smiled and went on with my rendition.  when i came to the last  lines of the song this poem by that great american poet, emily dickenson, flashed in my mind's eye --

a word is dead
when it is said
some say,
i say it just 
begins to live
that day.

there is also so much wisdom in this little poem. 
every word is a reflection of Life. 

i watched my friends in their youthful banter. i silently offered a short prayer in my heart, that they may learn to choose their words well.  Life's still unfolding before them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

equal opportunities

on way to my early morning workshift again. hailed a jeepney as usual.  the driver stopped by me and said, "please hurry up, board quickly, i don't want the jeepney behind to overtake us."  i boarded as fast as i can. i understood what he meant. at  this unholy hour, there are so few commuters that a driver needs to be always ahead so he can pick as many passengers as he can.

so like a rabbit on the run, our  jeepney glided over the darkly lit streets. the driver kept on looking at his rear view mirror carefully ascertaining how far ahead he is from the vehicle behind. and like a  patient fruit picker, he plucked each and every commuter who hailed him.

it caught up with us at a stoplight. the vehicle behind us.

"basyo ako (i'm empty)," the elderly driver confessed to our driver. there is this unmistakable dejected tone in his voice. and frustration. looking at his vehicle, which is as decrepit as the man is old, i immediately concluded he will never be able to outrun the jeepney we were riding in. our 18-seater jeepney is already half full. from the way the old driver spoke, i sensed he not only meant that his vehicle is empty, his spirit is even emptier.

our young driver never said anything. he just looked at the old man and smiled a mischievous smile. when the light turned green, again our jackrabbit jeepney scampered ahead. our jeepney's backrider jeered at the old driver, "SEE YOU LATER AT THE NEXT STOPLIGHT, OLD GUY!" i could see the old man just shaking his head.

approaching the next street corner from the stoplight, the backrider tapped the shoulder of our driver in elation. there were about 6 persons waiting for a ride.

"we're in luck," said the backrider to the driver, "there, they are hailing us! this is a good first trip for us!"

i saw the young driver quickly stole a glance at his rear view mirror as he slowed the vehicle and halted beside the waiting passengers. they were about to board the vehicle when our driver spoke, "no, no, please wait for the vehicle behind. i can't pick you up. i am having some engine troubles."  he pointed them to the jeepney approaching behind us. when the other vehicle's headlights are already very near us he revved up his engine again and started.

we saw the 6 people board the old guy's jeep. 

"why'd you not pick them up? we should have been almost fully loaded by now! you know how difficult it is to come by commuters at this hour." the backrider asked his driver friend.

"i don't know," he answered, "i just thought we needed to help him today. it's tough being a driver. besides, he'll never be able to overtake us."

he did this twice more. stopped by waiting passengers but did not pick them up. directed them to wait for the old man.

the old guy caught up with us again at another stoplight.

"whew! i thought this will be a terrible early day for me!" he shouted to our driver. there is this wide grin now on his furrowed face. his spirits are up. our young driver, lit a cigarette and smiled his mischievous smile at him. then he flashed the thumbs up sign at the old guy.  his backrider is silent beside him, looking back and counting the still unoccupied seats.

the red light turned green and our jackrabbit jeepney again scampered ahead.  i thought to myself -- heroism is displayed in different ways. this early morning introduced me to another unsung hero.

if only our captains of industries and leaders of governments can be this selfless.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

remembering father

last july 27th was my father's third death anniversary.  we visited the cemetery park where he and mom were laid to rest. 

the day was beautiful .

the sun was up but it was not hot. the skies were clear. wisps of cottony clouds gently sail above.  the wind just whispers. we were but a handful of families there during that day.  the park was generally quiet. the trees that adorn the park were tall and leafy and strong. the grasses were green.  there were some patches of black and brown where the fires of the lighted candles burned but they will be confidently carpeted over by green grass in due time.

the birds were of course in concert. twittering from a far distance, perhaps hidden amongst the leaves.

we laid down the flowers we've brought and said prayers for the souls of our dead. the epitaph in the tombstone read " may you always be in the Lord's Divine Keeping ".  i remember it was dad who chose this for mom. we can sense his sadness after mom died. he loved her so much. he loved us all so much.

this is how i remember him. a selfless person. the family first before his personal needs. i have not done much to make his life easy but he did not complain. his eyes always showed the light of understanding.

as i watched the candles glowing with their yellow light, i heard this poem in my inner ear --

bring me some flowers
those that are vibrant and fresh
that have not kissed graves.

when we remember someone who had died we don't recognize his life getting ended. we don't put a period to his existence. when i remember father, i let him live again.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

still thinking about music and songbirds

still can't get enough of music and songbirds. i was strumming the old guitar yesterday when out of the blue there was this whisper in my inner ear -- the wizard of oz. immediately my fingers struggled to try to make out the chords for one of my favorite songs in that classic movie. the song is called "over the rainbow".

hummed it. whistled it. still my fingers can't quite get to make the song roll out of my daughter's trusty guitar. so, what's the next best thing to do?

well, if one's memory does not serve one well, Google will. and you tube too.

and i'm glad i did the research. i always thought that it was the original singer, judy garland, who has the best version of it. yet, i found these two equally beautiful gems. i was surprised. two of the best rock guitarists of all time did their own renditions of this fascinating song which music was written by harold arlen and poetic lyrics by e.y. harburg.

this one is by eric clapton: (just paste the link on the address bar)

this one is by jeff beck:

and these are its beautiful lyrics:

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?

now, my fingers remember the song again. i become a songbird and i fly over the rainbow in my mind.

another happy, blessed day.  thank you, o Infinite!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Plans Divine, Laws Divine

while i was resting atop the roof after my gutter cleaning, i saw her again. the warbler. the brown bird which will never win any grammys.

she glided
she sliced the air
little brown wings stretched tip to tip
flapping here and there.
she ducked
she eluded
the tangled leaves and branches
she evaded.
keen navigator
no procrastinator
she reached her spot
smooth operator.
she'll feed her birdling
this fine morning
the worm in her beak keeps struggling
yet, Plans Divine, Laws Divine, are unraveling.

yes, this is what i thought.  and i am here atop the roof to be a witness to this all. the brown bird surrenders to the Divine. the birdling too. the cool wind, the hiding sun, the gray sky, they are part of this planned moment.  the worm, although trying to fight its fate, this fine morning, it, too will surrender.

there are Plans Divine, Laws Divine.

this fine morning, i, likewise will surrender to this moment. i'm here to chronicle the death of worm, the nurturing of birdling's life, and this mother songbird's performing her duty.

performing our duties, we all were. this fine morning.

this is Life.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

non-grammy winner

the Infinite had smiled on me today.  well, the latest typhoon was said to be moving out but still these last few days it still drenched us with unceasing rains. now today, i felt blessed. it is raining but just in very soft drizzles. this is my off day from work and i decided to get up on the roof and rid the rusty gutters of accumulated leaves. if it ever rains, the cleaned up gutters will allow the flow of water towards the downspouts and not overflow on the wooden eaves.

i climbed up. i had no ladder so i have to get to the roof via the tree beside the house. i had to be careful since its trunk is a bit slippery on account of the drizzle. tucked behind my back pocket were a couple of black plastic garbage bags which i will use to gather the leaves.

once atop the roof, i looked around. the gutters were clogged indeed. mostly leaves from the tall avocado tree beside the house. the thin raindrops that were falling were soft against my arms but they were teasingly cold. it is morning, about eight o'clock but there is no sun, just gray clouds overhead still presumably laden with rain.

no sunbeams, so, no rainbow.

i immediately went to the task i assigned myself. clear the gutters of leaves. i did not wear any gloves.  i shoved my right hand into the leaf laden gutter and started cleaning. i grabbed a handful of leaves and thrust it inside the plastic garbage bag. the uppermost leaves were still fresh but the ones beneath were already rotting.  occasionally, a baby cockroach will dart out from beneath the leaves and crawl away to safety. i'll deal with them later when they are grownups.  also, worms, about three inches in length, slimy, slithery. i don't know how they've found their way up the roof gutters.  i just wrap them in leaves and thrust them inside the garbage bags. surely, the Infinite has different ways with the innumerable lives It is maintaining.

i was almost done with the first gutter. i felt i've crouched too long over it and decided to stretch my back for a short while. this is when she suddenly came out. this little brown bird. perhaps a robin or a ricebird. the little fella came out hopping over a delicate branch of the avocado tree. her rusty brown plumage is in contrast with the green leaves of the tree. she eyed me. perhaps i was intruding on the privacy of the little one. i looked at her. she never got scared even when i moved to press down on the accumulated leaves inside the garbage bag.  she kept flirting back and forth from the higher branch above her to the lower branch below.

she might have a nest there. i told myself. i craned my neck forward to scan the spaces between the leaves near where she stood. can't distinguish anything looking like a nest. well, i don't have the right to investigate further. she is actually keeping an eye on me. or, i might be imagining her to be. anyway, i went back to work.

this is when she started singing her shrill bird song. cascading notes only a bird can sing. some short notes, some longer trills but she surely is doing her thing.  i smiled inside. this slight drizzle, the cold, wet fallen leaves, the baby cockroaches scared of my veined hands, the slimy worms, the gray clouds overhead.  this is a moment of life. of being alive. and the entertainer, this bird, is warbling about it. this freedom that we enjoy.

she will never get any grammy award for this song but she did it. she made me happy inside and made my roof gutter cleaning an easy task.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

three handfuls of rice

"manong, pasabay! (big brother, let us hitch a ride!)"

they pleaded to the driver as the jeepney as i was riding in stopped in front of them. the driver looked them over. there's only me and another male passenger inside. there were three of them. they were not as filthy-looking and as foul-smelling as the other street children who regularly roam the streets. the driver nodded to them and they gleefully hopped inside the vehicle. 

"let's let them ride," explained the driver, "i know them. they will not cause trouble."  the other male passenger and i did not say anything. the driver knew that we assented.

 the three children seated themselves at the farthest end of the jeepney near the door. two boys and a girl. if i guessed right they could be about 9 - 10 years old. seeing that we're not doing any protesting, they engaged in light banter inside the vehicle.  what i noticed immediately was that each of them was holding a small plastic bag with something white inside. the plastic bag was knotted at the upper end to close it or seal it.  after some minutes had passed, the three had presumably gotten tired of teasing each other. all three became quiet and retreated inside their own private worlds. the two boys were looking outside the jeepney in opposite directions trying to enjoy the scenery as we passed one street corner after another. the little girl was fiddling with the plastic bag in her hand. then, in an instant, she cupped it with both hands and brought it to her mouth. she pried open the plastic bag with her yellowed teeth and started gnawing at the white stuff inside. she was eating it!
one of the boys noticed her and tapped her arm.
 "you won't have anything to eat later." he cautioned her.
"i'm starved." she replied and she kept on eating.

she ate it all. then she threw the mangled plastic bag outside the jeepney. the wind caught it and blew it away towards the rear of the vehicle. i looked at her. she still had that hungry look in her eyes. i knew she was not satisfied. i caught her eyeing longingly the plastic bag nestled in the lap of the boy nearest her. i realized what the white stuff was. rice! it was just a handful, probably about five heaping scoops of a regular spoon inside the plastic bag. probably, a kind street vendor gave them some. or, they might have bought them with the few pesos they might have begged for. i could only venture wild guesses.

the male passenger got surprised when one of the boys knelt down on the vehicle's flooring and started pawing the empty space underneath the seats. he let his right hand glide over the portion of the flooring underneath the seats. he seemed to be feeling for something. he did this almost the entire length of the seat. then he went over to the opposite seat where i was and did the same. the other boy and the girl were just observing him. suddenly, he  flashed a wide grin on his face and pulled out his hand from underneath the seat. he triumphantly held up his right hand towards his companions. 

pressed between his thumb and forefinger were two 5-peso coins. he was able to fish these from underneath the seats. coins probably dropped by unwary passengers. he tried to finish the entire length of the seat but those were the only ones he was able to find.

the jeepney stopped at a place where lots of passengers were waiting for a ride. the driver asked the children to get off. they reluctantly did. and they thanked him. they might still be a long way off from their destination wherever that may be.

as the jeepney started on i looked back at the three. one of the boys was already gnawing at his own handful of rice. the girl was looking at him pleadingly. the one who found the coins just sat on the sidewalk.

i told myself -- the street is their home. the street has its own wisdom to impart to them. they will learn its ways. if they are able to endure, they will become street-wise, or, street-smart.

i've read a lot of stories about wealthy people. exceptional individuals who started from scratch and became rich and even famous.
many of them were street-smart.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

the mind poetic

the sea awakens
and kisses sand
the sun spreads glitter
on waves at sea
the wind caresses
child's ebony hair
child discovers
an empty shell.

the child picks it up and cradles it in her soft little hands. she fondles it like a mother fondles her baby. the child smiles, eyes full of wonder. where did the owner of this shell go? she shakes the shell hard trying to dislodge anything that might be housed inside. nothing came out of it. the child looked at the inviting emptiness inside the shell. she pressed it against her ear.

she scampers forth to where her mom and dad were sitting.

"i found an empty shell, mommy!" she proudly announced still pressing it against her ear.
"be careful, daughter," her dad cautioned, "there might be something inside, might bite you."
"no. no one's home," she gladly explained, "and you know what, dad? i can hear the sea inside!"
"you don't need that to hear the sea, honey," her mom protested, "we're here, sitting, and there's the sea!" she pointed to the vast expanse of undulating blue greenish waves in front of them.
"i know," the child answered, "but the sea sings differently inside this shell."

the child ran off to where her plastic pail and shovel was. she scooped some sand into the red pail until it was half full. then gently she placed the empty shell on top of it.  she declared to herself, "i will return it back to where i picked it up before we leave so the owner can sleep peacefully inside it when night comes."

they say this is how poets are born.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

the excite

i know this unrelenting rain is coming from the typhoon. as i rested on my mattress, i remembered the news flash.  falcon, that's the name they gave to the typhoon, will be bringing not much wind but much water. hence, these rains.

i could not sleep immediately. my eyes and my ears are focused. especially my ears. i can hear the pounding of the rains outside. on the leaves of our avocado tree, on the roof of the house. waters pouring. building up on the old, rusty roof gutters. i silently chided myself for not climbing up to the roof during the sunny days to rid the gutters of the fallen leaves that had accumulated.  soon enough, i heard the water spilling over the roof troughs. it wont flow to drop down via the downspout. the gutters are clogged with leaves. oh, i promised myself, just give me one, just one, sunny day, and i'll climb up the roof immediately and take care of those leaves.

i listened as the rains intensified. i'm expecting something to happen pretty soon. and it did. my ears immediately picked up the familiar sound. water! dripping. dropping. dripping. dropping.

from my old ceiling. i hurriedly got up and looked for the sources of the sound. i always thought i had fixed my leaky old roof. during one fine sunny day, an off day from work, i spiritedly  traced the holes in my roofing and plastered them up. i even made some forecasts. i tried to guess as much as i can where future holes might be and plastered these locations as well.

i carefully placed catch pails below the spots where the waters dripped or dropped or dripped or dropped.

i guess i'd be looking forward to another fine sunny day. to fix the holes again. i'd have to guess well though.

i lied down on my mattress again. i can sleep now. i'd like to dream of getting the entire roof overhauled. replace all the old, rusty corrugated g.i. sheets, all the old, rusty roof gutters, cut off some branches of the avocado tree where the leaves drop off.

this is what makes life exciting. this is what makes life precious. the challenges, no matter how small they might be. as i closed my eyes to catch sleep, i silently sung a line from one of the songs i was blessed enough to write --

life is something we must learn,
life is something we must earn.

i focused my ears to the rhythmic drip, drop, drip, drop of the waters being caught by my catch pails, and then,


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

of singing songs, of seeking joy, and finding john denver

i  had just closed the yahoo messenger. done chatting with the wife. my daughter had just left for school. it is about 9 am in the morning but the sun's behind thick clouds so my open windows did not catch much of the usual light from the sun. i found the house a bit dark but i dared not open any lights. i am trying to save on electricity consumption as much as i can. suddenly, i got hit by this feeling of being alone. i can hear the twittering of the birds feeding on the crumbs of rice that remained on our dog's dishes and the swishing of the branches and leaves of the tall avocado tree beside my house but somehow these even intensified the twinge of being solitary. i took a deep breath. i know what to do in times like this --

nothing like singing a good, old country song to chase the blues away.

i went to the corner where my daughter's guitar was stashed and pulled out the old guitar from the case. it is her very first guitar but i believe it had gotten more playing mileage from me than from her. she had pasted several stickers on its body and it still bears the graffiti written by her high school classmates. it has scratches and the varnish is wearing off in some places. what disheartened me was when i realized that the cracks along its body's front seams had somehow lengthened. i remembered her telling me the initial cracks resulted from her having accidentally dropped it. oh. careless youth!  well, anyway, i just told myself that these cracks will lend this guitar its own unique voice. ha, ha, of course until i am able to buy a better one. i gave it the usual fond caress and let its curved body nestle on top of my right thigh. tested the strings, still in tune. i robotically let my left fingers slide over the fretboard and automatically when they reached the second and third frets they formed the finger position for the key of d. this old guitar knows this key is where i can sing more confidently and more comfortably.

nothing like singing a good, old country song to chase the blues away.

i let my right fingers and left fingers dictate how the song will go. they know the chords, they know my rhythm. i hummed the old, familiar tune. one of my favorites. annie's song. -- "you fill up my senses, huhuhummm huhuhummm..". but, blast it, i can't place the lyrics of this song. i can't remember. annie's song -- huhuhummm, huhuhummm.. i know the tune. i can hum it. can't remember the words. i brought out my harmonica and played the tune on it. still, i can't get the correct lyrics. tsk, tsk, tsk. i clucked my tongue. ok, i said to myself, as i turned towards the computer, nothing like good Google to fish out the lyrics of this song. i was able to retrieve the info in less than 2 minutes.

annie's song written by that great singer, songwriter, poet john denver for his wife annie. john had died but his music and his poetry lives on. annie's song goes

 You fill up my senses like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses come fill me again.

Come let me love you, let me give my life to you

Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you
Come let me love you, come love me again.

You fill up my senses like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses, come fill me again. 

thus, i sung it. in my own humble way. yet, i'm not singing it for annie. what attracted me to this song beside its melody is its lyrics. as i ponder over the words, it is as if john denver had written it for a different Beloved. so i sung it for the Infinite, the Divinity inside me, the Divinity which is in each of us. and i found joy immediately and companionship.

incidentally, while "googling" and "youtubing" this beautiful song i came across these john denver clips:

and my joy had multiplied. my heart was exceedingly glad. i am not alone anymore in this small house that did not get its fair share of the sunshine today.  my senses have been filled up again.

thanks a lot, john denver!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

a sonnet for one who despises poets

you say that i'm a lazy, worthless fool
whose bones are better left to flake, to rot;
whose body's sap should to the earthworm's lot
be given, and be of use to worthy rule.
wide-eyed, always you see me here sitting
'neath this lovely shade, near these blades of grass;
just writing, the soil not endeavoring 
to loose, that roots may their curled numbness pass.
so you loathe, and cursing this luxury,
wonders how God could keep such fool as i,
who know nothing but to sit, to write madly,
as if Time, Golden Time, would never fly --
ah, fiery rage bothers me not, for i,
Worthless, ever His works will glorify.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

the student answers

where is my school? you ask
there, in yonder open plain
where countless fragrant bouquets of flowers
ever will remain.

but, it's devoid of walls ! you say
no roof, no tables, chairs, fluorescent lights,
no air-conditioners or electric fans
to keep one at ease in humid nights.

i tell you
my roof's the sky azure
my table and chair, the solid ground
that any weight endures;
my lamp's the effervescent moon,
the blazing sun, the twinkling stars --
you say they're faint, and yet,
you could not hide your smallest scars;
in humid nights the wind is free
my hair to comb
i feel
as if i am once more a fetus
in my mother's cozy womb.

where are your lessons,
again you ask of me?
look around you
feel, smell, hear, see:
the crawling ant,
the river's chant,
the sprouting seed,
yes, i have all the lessons
my life would need.