Hellos & Goodbyes

My mom’s sister and her family live in Virginia, USA. I remember when we were very young, their family would come and visit the Philippines every two years.

I also remember babysitting my two younger, adorable half-Italian, half-Filipino cousins E and GP, whenever they were here. From teaching them nursery rhymes when they were very little, to bringing them to arcade games… I would truly spoil them to their young hearts’ desires.

As we got older — when they turned teenagers, and I was already a young working woman,  I would always tag them along, bring them with me to my office. We would walk around the mall, hang out at Starbucks during my free time.  

We were always happy just hanging out. Most of the time, E and I will make fun of GP (because he is the youngest)… Or we would all make fun of everyone else — like other relatives, strangers, etc. Yes, we could all be pretty immature when we were together.

We saw each other grow up — grow old — well, every two years.  But I can say that we always made the most of their time here, however long or short their vacation may be.

Goodbyes were always, always difficult. 

I remember when I was much younger, I would lock myself inside my room and cry my eyes out the moment my cousins say goodbye. I would cry until I start feeling sick from crying. Maybe that was just part of my teenage drama, but I really hated goodbyes.

It was just so lonely and whenever they left, it felt like they also left a hole in my chest. Though I knew that they would be back in two years’ time, I still couldn’t help but feel bad.

Nobody likes saying goodbye. Nobody likes being left behind. 

In time though, I have come to realize that people do come and go. Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes… and hellos once again. I often say that friendship knows no distance.  I believe more so with love.

I have not seen my cousins in quite awhile. One has gotten married and is now residing in China with his lovely wife, while the other is in Virginia living la vida loca.

We may be living in different continents, but I know that the care, the love will always be there. Our shared history and stories bind us.  

I do miss them dearly, but I know that when we see each other next, it would be like no time has passed. We would hang out, have coffee, reminisce. They would still be my adorable little cousins and I will always be the cool — and gorgeous—  big sister that they never had. 

And we would still be talking and making fun of everybody else…. Because we are immature like that. 😉 

With GP then & now… 

I got older — he just stayed adorable. 

For some reason,  I couldn’t find a photo with E… But I am sure he knows that he has always been my first favorite… 😉 

Photo with baby GP from my treasure trove of memories. Photo with adult GP taken about three years ago… 🙂

Sadly, I’m no Wonder Woman…

It was a cool, Maundy Thursday evening. My mom, dad, husband, my mother-in-law, and I decided to stay and chat outside to enjoy the night breeze.

We were on the street, actually. My mom, dad and I were leaning against the front of our car which was parked right outside the gate of the house. The hubby and his mom were standing several meters away, at the corner of the street, nearer the main road.

We live in a gated village and I can say that the place is relatively safe.  On any given night you will see residents walking their dogs, or maybe they are jogging or brisk walking. People who know each other wave and exchange pleasantries.

That Thursday night, we saw a good friend of my mom’s walking with his daughter. They said hello as they passed by. And then we saw two ladies walking their dog. We all smiled at each other as they passed. 

It is a quiet, friendly community. 

And then the commotion.

We saw two teenagers running on the main road – some 20 meters away from where we were standing. We saw them run past the hubby and his mom.  Then we heard voices from where the teenaged boys came from, shouting what sounded like, “Stop them!” and “Snatchers!”

Then another group of men ran past, obviously running after the boys.

From the corner of the street where he was standing, the hubby saw the group catch up with one of the boys. Then he saw them punching and kicking the boy who, at this time, was already down on the ground.

It was at this point when the hubby decided to intervene. When I say intervene, I meant he decided to walk towards the group to, well basically, stop the fight – or keep the guys from killing the teenager with their blows.

So hubby went to the scene of the action. Followed by my dad. Then my mother-in-law!!!

My mom and I called out to the three of them, telling them NOT to get involved… But all three  pretty much ignored us.

Panicked, and thinking I should do something to help, I said out loud, “I’ll call the guards!”

So I turned towards the house in a rush, took a step…

…and tripped…

I took several more uncontrolled steps… then felt myself falling…

I knew I was going to fall hard. Not necessarily fast, but hard.

 

falling

Me.

 

Nah, that picture is too cute. I believe I looked more like this:

A woman falling down face first

Me. Take two.

Then I heard my mom screaming my name.

Several thoughts ran in my head as I was about to fall…

  • I need to find my footing. I can do this. Nope, I don’t think I can.
  • I shouldn’t have teased my sister about her knee injury!
  • I need to break the fall. I’ll try to land gently on my knees. Nope, didn’t work… I just heard my knees hit the ground with a loud thud.
  • I HAVE to protect my face!!! I can’t let it hit the ground…

And as I was sprawled face down on the ground…

  • Great, now my palms are all bruised, as well.
  • Oh gosh, the dogs are pulling at the shirt that I am holding!

Then I heard my mom call out my name again with a panicked, “What happened to you???!!”

She tried to help me up but I had to take a minute because I was still shaken up from the fall – and my whole body was pretty sore. Plus my knees were hurting so I couldn’t stand.

And then my mom and I started laughing at how silly I must have looked. I couldn’t cry, so we just laughed harder.

If I were playing baseball, it’s like diving into home…

dive into home, Pete Rose

Safe!!!

I would have scored a run, too.

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bruised knees

battered & bruised

My mom and I went back inside the house. I was able to call up the guardhouse – as originally planned.  Then she suggested that I put some ice on my knees after I washed them clean.

 

I guess it’s true that not all casualties are on the battlefield. Some are just there on the sidelines, minding their own business…

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In case you’d like to know how the commotion ended, well apparently, the boys were not snatchers or anything like that. It was an online relationship gone awry between the boy and the teenage daughter of the man running after him.

Shades of Romeo and Juliet.

We didn’t really find out the whole story since my hero hubby, his mom and my dad went back inside our house as soon as the guards arrived. Much to their amazement, I was the one with scrapes and bruises.

Unfortunately, in the street brawl between this Montague and Capulet, I was the collateral damage

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Update on my injuries: No need for x-ray nor immobilizer. I can walk, but it still hurts a little when I bend the knees or straighten the leg.

As of this writing, both knees are still black and blue, with small bruises and scrapes. Palms just have small scrapes.

Pride and dignity still bruised, as well. 

Wonder Woman would have saved the day… or at least come out of it unscathed. Oh well… 😦 

 ❤ 

photo credits: Cartoon images via Google clip arts and cartoons; Pete Rose dive to home plate via Google and Getty Images; photo of my bruised knees taken by my son for remembrance, he said. 😉 

Girl friends make the world go round

It was one fine Monday evening. My best friend and I were at Cafe Mary Grace having early dinner, sipping our Sangrias, and chatting to our hearts’ extent.

april 3

April 3, 2017

We were exchanging stories – catching up on the things we haven’t talked about and rehashing the ones we already have.

We recalled being at the same restaurant some 6 months back, talking about going on a trip to Europe together. We talked then about London, Paris and Dublin. When we felt the idea was quite far-fetched, we settled with just going on a shopping spree somewhere in Asia – like Hongkong or Singapore.

october.jpg

Dreamin’ of Dublin… October 2016

That was six months ago. It’s now early April and the farthest we have been to together this year so far is, well, this mall.  We laughed at the realization.

We laughed and giggled a lot over dinner. It was a light evening spent with a friend.

Everything was all good.

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I have recently been invited to join this discussion group for women on Facebook. It was a closed group and the members were strictly women only. The group was set-up to serve as an avenue where women can discuss motherhood and womenhood.   Members of the group can ask parenting questions on child rearing, kids’ education, health matters, you name it. Members may also advertise their businesses, ask for contacts or referrals.  

Women helping other women. Mothers reaching out to other mothers.

I joined the group mainly for the network. I felt it was a good place to get information on things I may need or stuff I am looking for. 

A member may also opt to post anonymously, meaning the group admin will be the one to upload the question or inquiry to hide the identity of the person involved.  Most of these Anonymous Posts pertain to Family Relationships, Issues or Problems.

I don’t always read the posts, especially the long ones, but there was this one post last week that somewhat struck me.  It was a desperate cry for help.

This female – a wife and a mother – was asking the group if she can be referred to a center which can help her fight her depression. She said she has been feeling very low for quite some time now and that no one, not even her husband nor her “friends” seem to understand nor take her seriously.

For her to reach out to a group of strangers, I could only surmise how lost and alone she must be feeling. I truly felt sorry for her.

And then I remembered my girl friends, and I can’t help but be thankful that I have them.

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No one should go through life alone. 

I believe that friendship is a product of shared time, experiences, trust and love. I also believe that not everybody can be your friend… But you know that they are real friends when they stick by you through thick or thin. They love you, they are loyal, and you are confident that they will have your back at all times.  

mean girlstime zone

I may not have a gazillion friends, but I know who I can share my laughter and heartaches with… who will listen as I rant about petty stuff and who will rant along with me…

I know who shares my “self-righteousness” and who won’t judge me when I judge others… I have friends I can dream of going to South of France with – the same ones who will don a Japanese schoolgirl outfit with me on a dare…

I know whom I can bare my heart and soul to… the ones who believe in me even more than I believe in myself – the same ones who will keep pushing me to go after a dream.

And these are the same people I know I will stick my neck out for when the need arises.

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If you are feeling lost and alone, reach out to a friend. It may be your sister, your mom, or, okay, even your spouse. A friend may be someone you have known all your life, like an old schoolmate or a cousin, or maybe someone you met in Church.

I believe we don’t need a hundred friends. A handful of loyal ones will do.

They are the ones who share your joy when good things happen. They are also the ones who will be with you, who will listen, hold your hand, and pray with you at your time of need.  

Because life is not always easy… and NO ONE should go through life alone.

33.jpg

Laughing about anything and everything ❤

And good times get better when shared with people you love.

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

photos are all mine 🙂

This story is about me, God… and Gary V.

Sometime in the late ’80s…

There we were, my friend and I, two teenage girls pulling an all-nighter. No, we were not finishing a paper or a project, or anything close to that…

We were doing what normal teenagers do on sleepovers — chat the whole night. We were listening to our favorite songs and we chatted. At times we giggled a lot… certain moments, we whispered to each other about our secrets, fears and dreams. 

It was a long night.  At some point, we decided to pretend that we were making a music video of a favorite Filipino song. The artist: this singer popularly known as Mr. Pure Energy, Gary Valenciano. The song: Di Bale Nalang.

Di Bale Nalang. Still the best dance song in my book up to today. Best dance song ever. (Insert Gary V. dance moves here…)

***

I was  am a huge Gary V. fan. The very first live concert that I watched was Gary V’s. I was in sixth grade then.

Hmm, now that I am thinking about it, I think I watched an Air Supply concert prior to that… but that doesn’t count because I never really liked them (I can belt out most of their mushy songs, though. But, duh!). So yeah, I will stick to my story — The first concert that I watched live was Gary V’s. And I have been a fan ever since. 

You know how teenagers can memorize the lyrics of the songs they liked? Well, I was once a teenager, too… And I practically memorized most, if not, all of Gary V’s songs then. Yes, even the ones which were not that popular, both fast and slow. 

I can proudly say that I still remember most of them up to now… Insert Gary V. moves here again... 🙂  

***

Was there ever a time in your life when everything seems to be going right, yet you know that there is still something missing? Or how about that time when nothing is going right and you don’t know where to look for that one thing that can or will sustain you? 

The year was 2006. On the outside I seemed to have everything I needed in life. I had a family, I was raising a wonderfully gifted child, and we were living comfortably. Things seemed perfect. But they were not.

I was not happy. There were times when I felt dead inside. My relationship with my husband was in shambles. I was exhausted. I felt I deserved more from life. I didn’t know if I wanted to be where I was.

I had everything and I had nothing.

One evening over dinner, my husband told me that his friend, an old schoolmate, invited us to his Church. I remember my husband saying, Let’s try something new… It won’t hurt. 

I just shrugged and said okay. Whatever.

His friend’s name? Gary Valenciano.

***

That following Sunday, we attended Church service at New Life Christian Center for the first time. 

And there he was — Gary V., in the flesh. So while everybody was singing, worshiping, I was there watching him.

gary v

One Big Fan

I think a Gary V. album was playing in my head the whole time. I didn’t know any of the worship songs, anyway. 

Besides, I also didn’t really know what I was doing in that Church — or what was expected of me.  I was happy enough to see my idol.

I was fangirling quietly.

After service, my husband introduced me to Gary. We talked a bit. Actually, he talked more because I was so starstruck that I couldn’t think of anything smart to say. I just mostly smiled.  

I was a totally different person the weekend after that. We went back to Church the Sunday after, and I came prepared. I told myself that if Gary was there and I’ll be introduced again, I will be friendlier. 

He was there again. And this conversation transpired right after service:

  • Gary: Hi! Good to see you guys again here in Church! (Or something like that)
  • Me: *while fanning my face with my hands*  Hi Gary! Oh gosh, I am a big fan!!!!
  • Gary : *Smiles and turns red*
  • Me: *still fanning my face* No, really. Bata palang ako, Gary Valenciano ka na!!! (You were already Gary Valenciano even when I was still very young). I know the lyrics of ALL your songs!
  • Gary: *still blushing, and probably thinking, How old are you, anyway??* But now you’re not a fan anymore, we’re now friends!
  • Me: No, I’m still a fan!! I will always be a fan!!!
  • Husband: *practically pushed me away before I embarrassed myself — and Gary– more* Bye Gary! See you next week. (Or something like that. I really don’t remember because I was still reeling from excitement.)

My husband apparently never took me seriously when I mentioned before that I was a big fan. He only realized it that day.

But God knew. And God also knew how He can get my attention. 

***

We have been going to the same Church — from that Sunday up to today, for almost eleven (11) years now. 

We rarely saw Gary V. after that because he is, after all, a celebrity and a busy guy. But we met a lot of people and made new friends. We grew spiritually as a family. The Church became our second home — the Church people, our second family. 

In that Church, I found what my spirit was searching for. I found the relationship that was lacking in my life. I found the God Who provides me with strength and sustenance during trying times. The same God who gives me peace and joy, whatever season in life I may be in.

We often mistakenly see God as this Almighty Being, Someone Who is way up there… Some Authority Who will judge or punish us for every wrongdoing. Someone unreachable.

But God is a Father. And like any father, He wants a relationship with us. He knows what we need and He wants to give us every good thing. Yet we have to heed His call. 

We have to want to know more of Him.

God knew how to get my attention… He used a Gary Valenciano.

Gary v NL

        Finally, a picture in Church!!           (taken just a couple of years ago)

God also made me realize that yes, He has been watching me all these years. He knew what makes me smile, what makes me listen and pay attention. 

God saw where I was and He called me to lead me somewhere better.

Gary V concert

See? Gary and I are friends now! 

I also believe that God has a sense of humor. 

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Where are you in life right now? Maybe you should allow God to surprise you, as well? 🙂 

***

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” – Psalms 32:8 

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photos are all mine 🙂

Stages and Seasons

It used to be our daily practice when my son was much, much younger… I would bring him to school in the morning, and then pick him up after class.

Just another regular school day…

Our drive to and from school gave us the chance to bond more. Morning travels were spent preparing him for the day… while I spend the afternoon ride home listening to how his school day went.

Morning car ride to school, elementary days

When he was very young, I would walk with him to his classroom and would only leave once I see that he’s all settled in. In time, I would just drop him off at the door of the building and will just watch as he walked the hallway to his classroom — or up to how far my eyes could reach him. 

I think he was in Grade 5 when he told me that I didn’t need to accompany him anymore even up to the gate… Though he said he still wanted me to be in the car with him so we can still chat on the way to school. 

Eventually, it would just be the driver who would bring him and pick him up.

Classroom. Hallway. School gate. Car.

Stages. Seasons.

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Last Thursday, my husband and I brought our son to the airport. He was to fly to another country for a College Weekend. As part of his college applications, he was invited by a university to visit the campus and for several interviews.

Car ride to the airport

It was his first trip abroad alone. 

Being a mother, I was overjoyed and excited for him. I was happy that he is getting all these opportunities. 

I was melancholic, too.

My heart was overflowing with joy and pride, yet at the same time it was melting and breaking, too. My son is not a baby anymore.

airport scene

Off to College Candidate Weekend!

It was a prelude to letting go.

Stages. Seasons.

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Immediately the morning after my son left, a good friend of mine, K, called up to check on me. She asked how I was, asked if I cried — or if I was still crying.

She knows I don’t cry easily… Yet she also knows that my heart breaks just the same. 

That same afternoon, I was at the mall running errands. Just as I was about to go home, I thought of what snack to buy for my son. He always comes home from school hungry and I make it a point that he has something to eat when he gets home.

And then I remembered he was out of the country. All I could do was to let out a huge sigh.

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Our children are not ours. Yes, we give them life, we raise them, we teach them… but we all know that time will come when we will have to let go and let them live their lives. Eventually they will have to spread their wings and live according to their purpose. And we allow them.

It is scary for us parents. Somehow don’t we all wish we can hold on to them, keep them near all time? Yet we also know that in order for them to grow, we have to let them go.

We just have to trust that we have taught them enough so they are able to stand on their own when the time comes.

We have to have faith in them, too.

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So spend as much time with your kids while they are young… while they are there. 

Like what I told my other friend who claims to be a ‘clingy parent’: Yes, be clingy. Cling as much and as hard as you can.

Because time flies. Life is fleeting. Our children grow up so fast. One day you are bringing them to nursery school, singing ABC’s in the car… Next day you are on the way to the airport to send them away for college. 

Stages and Seasons. Try not to miss the many good moments in between.

A few of our mommy and son dates

First day of Nursery School… First day of HS Senior Year

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“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”           Prov. 22:6 KJV

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photos are all mine 🙂