Thursday, December 31, 2009

Loving and hating Manila

Manila is a great shock for Steven and our bodies. It is very crowded and dirty. I currently have throat problems and that is probably because of the soot and other chemicals from the vehicles.

There are so many great things about Manila though and they are mainly the malls. They stay open til 10 PM whereas in Adelaide, the malls shut at 5 PM. Cinemahouses in Manila are far better and cheaper and the gyms are a lot better-maintained.

But the best part is my family. They really like Steven and vice versa. I think my family is happy that I have a very solid relationship with a great man.

I have taken a photo and a video of us Makati, one of the several business districts in Metropolitan Manila.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One Night in Singapore

After a long flight, Steven and I were presented the technology and comfort that a rich city like Singapore can offer. We played with XBox games, surfed online, enjoyed mechanical foot massages and experimented with the food.

We should have been braver and explored what was outside of the airport but we did not. We will do this next time that we have an overnight stay in the middle of the city.

Steven's First International Flight

Last week, Steven travelled outside of Australia for the very first time. We planned to spend Christmas with my family and our Canberra friend Peter.

Steven was afraid of his very first plane ride but he was not really as nervous as he expected.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009 Christmas Wishes

I am too old and too heavy to sit on Santa Claus' lap. I am not even sure if my letter would reach him because Australia Post employees are currently staging a strike.

So I will make a wish here on my blog, hoping that all the pixels will line up for these aspirations to come true.

I wish it will not take a long time for me to be registered as a teacher in South Australia. I wish I will be able to start teaching very soon so I can better contribute to the home that Steven and I are planning to build for ourselves.

I wish my partner, myself, and our families will stay healthy because it sucks to be living so far from the people we love. And I wish that our friends will still keep in touch.

I wish we will not lose our ability to appreciate the blessings that we have received. Though I may not be as financially well-off as before, I am definitely the happiest I have ever been.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Counting the nights

The last time I visited Manila, I was not really excited. I even dreaded it. This time is different--I can barely sleep as I imagine what Steven and I are going to do in Manila. A very close friend of mine, Peter, is going to join us as well.

I used to pack on the last night or the last day because I was only thinking of myself. Since Steven is going to fly with me, I have to be concerned of his needs as well. I have bent some of my rules because I have to. I want him to be as comfortable as possible as he is nervous of flying.

It will be his first time to go overseas. It will be his first time to visit places where English is not the first language choice. It will also be the first time to spend Christmas without his family. I am sure this will be overwhelming for him.

I am not sure how often I will be able to update this space but I will definitely post everything that will happen. So watch out!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Concert in Adelaide

It is exciting to be free from studies. Steven and I are graduating from our courses very soon so we are letting our hair down. We met Erwin, Rob and Thanh to show our vocal chords to the Friday crowd in Adelaide's CBD.

Here are videos of Steven and Erwin singing Mack the Knife and myself singing a Spice Girl song. Thanks to all of the guys and girls who danced with me. I hope I can see you guys again for another showdown.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Picnic in the Park 2009

Steven does not like big crowds. This is why I have to force him to attend the Picnic in the Park in Adelaide. Sometimes, fate is tricky and that is why Steven won a dinner voucher for a top restaurant in the city.

There is nothing new to show so I am just posting a photo of us sitting on the grass. It is always good to show affection in public without being judged for it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thin again - Danton Remoto

(Danton Remoto is a gay senatorial candidate in the Philippines. I admire him for his contributions to the gay movement but this time, he is showing a very vulnerable side of him. Click here to read the original article.)

People who haven’t seen me in the past month noticed I had lost weight. Something like five pounds. Excitement like electric current in their voices, they asked: “How did you lose weight? Share naman your secret with us.”

Well, it’s a “secret” I would not wish on anybody, even my enemies. You see, my father – a retired soldier in the Philippine Air Force – died last October 18 at the age of 76. And exactly a month later, my mother – a retired Music teacher – died at the age of 77. Losing a father after seeing him struggle to live in the intensive care unit with, in his own words, “ a sack of rice crushing my chest,” was traumatic enough. Losing both is beyond words.

I could not eat for two days after Father died. My main worry then was how to tell Mother, who had just undergone angioplasty and was undergoing dialysis three times a day – that Father had gone ahead. It was the most sleepless night of my life. And so the morning after, when Mother asked us why we left Father alone in the hospital, my sister, my cousin and I formed a tight circle around Mother lying on her sickbed. The words choked in our throat, but we managed to inform her, slowly, that Father had passed away.

A trickle of tear ran down her face. Sadness shrouded her eyes. It was a sadness that would never leave her. Not during the funeral wake, when she came in her wheelchair, dignified and calm, asking only to see Father and uttering his name in her broken voice. It was a sadness that would never leave her. Not during the vigil, when a succession of Philippine Air Force soldiers in light blue uniforms stood in attention before my father, in his casket draped with the Philippine flag. It was a sadness that would never leave her, after the soldiers fired their 21-gun salute in the memorial park, and my siblings and I finally erupted into the tears that we had kept in our hearts for many days and nights.

I resigned from my job, to take care of her and to prepare for the coming elections. But stayed at home I did, especially when she was more sick than usual, making sure she had all her medicines, was cared for, and comfortable. We went to a nephrologist for her check-up, and her health was beginning to improve: her skin was no longer as pale as paper, and she was gaining some weight.

When my mother was in her sickbed I would sometimes think of my father, and my memories of him revolve around him telling us to be brave, never to run away from a good fight. My father sent himself to college when already a soldier with a young family, commuting 30 kilometers every day to night school, and back. Later, he sent himself to law school, taking the same route for another four years. One of my deepest memories of him is graduating from law school, and the whole family taking a dusty ride home, and finally entering the military base, walking under the sheer brilliance of the stars.

Two days before Mother died, she wanted to stop taking her medicines. My cousin and I would cajole her, brush her forehead with our hands, whisper in her ears. I think she didn’t want us to worry, and took the medicines. But the sadness never left her eyes.

Two days before Mother died, the orchids she had tended with uncommon care bloomed – yellow and lavender and white – their petals like clearest skin. Two days before she died she waved to me and I went to her and I hugged her, kissing her face and her now-bony hands.

The night she died she told my cousin she was already OK, we should not worry anymore, and she gave one of her rings to my sister with Down’s syndrome. She said it was time to sleep so everybody could rest, and from that deep repose she never woke up again.

Now I walk around the city with nothingness in my chest. To lose one parent is devastating. To lose both within a month of each other is beyond words. I try to be brave for my brother and sisters, and for my adopted daughter. In my mind I remember my parents, outside my Grade Six classroom. Under the green translucence of leaves, Father was trying to reach for a star-apple fruit. The fruit was ripened by the sun, and he gave it to Mother. My classmates nudged me, and I felt embarrassed by it all, but that was how Father was toward Mother – always protective, a warm hand around her shoulder. And now they are together, enjoying the fruits of paradise, like the soul mates that I think they are. It’s a thought that lessens, somewhat, the pain lacerating our hearts.

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