Monday, March 30, 2009

on dreaming and being the dream

dream lofty dreams, and as you dream,
so shall you become.
your vision is the promise
of what you shall one day be;
your ideal is the prophecy
of what you shall at last unveil.

- James Allen

let’s be real - having dreams can be difficult
in the face of reality.
sometimes the demands of everyday life -
work, family, money, etc.
- can make it hard not only to achieve dreams,
but even to think of them.

but that is not the case with Emily.

like many school kids of Baao, Emily dared to dream.
and now she is the dream.

i have not really been close to her,
what with the generation gap!
(don’t ask me my age, but if you insist,
i will tell you. Do you insist now?
i will be 46, 17 days from now.
am proud to be a 46-er.)
but when Jane asked her if she could be my F.A.R.M. girl,
she right away, without hesitation,
without questions, said yes!
i was actually surprised, she said yes, i mean,
she is all that and more,
all those credits i have seen on Broadway posters,
and words i have heard about her.
why will she say yes?
i am a doubter, no doubt.

so while i was downloading the gorgeous pictures she was sending me,
so i could launch her to be my F.A.R.M. girl,
i was put on a reflective mood/mode, whatever. . .
and TG, Jane was online, otherwise,
i would be talking alone, as most of the time i do
(not that i am losing it,
but that am alone most of my time).
so, like any other time that i am in my introspective state,
questions bombard me unpityingly.
and like most times,
the Force does not answer me back,
not with human words.
he leaves me in my thoughts and trusts
that i will come up with the right realizations.
afterall, he equipped me with my conscience and my will,
what else would i need?
those are the only two things we have that he cannot meddle with,
even if he is the Force.

am i blabbering nonsense now? i think i am. not.

i asked Jane to help me with an answer,
all i could get from her were:
“am crying right now”.
hah! just when you needed an intelligent friend,
she fails you.
but this goes beyond intelligence,
i think,
i believe.
we were so touched by Emily’s gesture and willingness,
we were really groping for words.
we were muted by our emotions, otherwise,
we would be all words and no substance.
trust me on that.

and so i savored the moment
and savored the images of Emily.

to me, Emily is a dream
and a dream that is now a reality.
that is how i would like to see it.
her talent, her fame, her time, her beauty
she shares not only with me,
but with the world, with Baao.
i wanted her to be my F.A.R.M. girl,
because i wanted the kids of Baao to dream,
and dream big.
she is an epitome of dreaming and being the dream.

i am a dreamer and a realist, all rolled in one.
i dream of a beautiful Baao.
as the consummate dreamer i have had to learn to deal with this dilemma:
of having dreams and being realistic.
there is a constant battle for my attention
between my dreams and the pull of life’s reality,
of Baao’s reality.
my dreams typically remain just that, dreams.
life has had to win over the abstract.

this being said, it is my dreams that keep life interesting.
i suppose they would be defined as fantasy in a technical sense
but i do not plan on giving up on them.
it is certainly possible to live in both worlds
providing we keep, as a lot of you would put it,
“our feet on the ground”.

while i may never realize my dreams of Baao,
they have impact far beyond fantasy.
dreams spawn creativity,
allowing us to achieve much more than we could otherwise.
it is the old “shoot for the stars and you may hit the moon” saying.

i think my dreams can allow me an escape
from the drudgery of reality when i need to.
if i dream, i dream big!
and so should you.
we must dream for ourselves,
and not stop there.
we must dream far beyond ourselves,
beyond the confines of our comfort zones.

it is not that i don’t think i could realize many of the dreams
i have chosen not to pursue beyond thought.
like most, i have had to prioritize
what is most important in life
and that is not always following our dreams.
it is what it is.

i cannot shift back to my unreflective mood/mode,
not yet.
i welcome all these tears.
i may sound unbidibidi now,
i assure you,
this is very bidibidi.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

savoring success

when success comes my way,
i take time to take pleasure in the rewards they bring. . .
i brew myself a cup of my fave blend,
and permit the aroma conquer my room. . .
my enjoyment
sets the stage for even greater successes.

when i have achieved something,
big or small:
a closet declogged,
buttons sorted,

a pile of documents filed,

a class taught,
a community served,
the Force dealt with. . .

when it is completed,
i allow myself a well-deserved feeling of satisfaction.
it motivates me to work
toward that same kind of satisfied feeling
again and again. . .

i enjoy the fruits of my efforts,
and i am thankful that i chose to create new value
and that i persisted in doing so. . .

each success brings to me new and greater possibilities.
sincerely enjoying my success
is a perfect way to open my eyes to new potentials.

i remind myself,
in a pleasant and unforgettable way,
why i worked my way through all the difficult challenges. . .
i let the joy of fulfillment empower me
to reach even higher,
greater heights, loftier ideals, purpose. . .

i enjoy the good things that i have done. . .
and more will soon be on the way. . .

Monday, March 16, 2009

kurt joebert barrameda barandon - gone too soon

i met kurt joebert three years ago,
he was just fresh from grade 6 at ibyang’s rlc.
i was in my fourth year directing and managing the estudiantinas de la soledad de baao,
then, it was a mere group of about 40 young and eager musicians,
or shall i say, music enthusiasts.
more appropriately, estudiantinas,
as they are called) donate their musical geniuses or otherwise,
for ina, during the good friday night procession.

2006 - kurt (in blue, on the left) practicing with oliver and other estudiantinas

kurt was small for his age,
and i was even doubting if he would last the whole length we have to walk,
or finish the procession which goes around the baao poblacion,
while playing the banduria.
i am a doubter, no doubt.
but he did! with flying colors!

2008 - kurt (in green, front row, second from left) with the strings section of the group

high school brought him to a national science high school in partido,
i have always been prompted by how good he was doing in school.
(i love hearing about my estudiantinas, especially regarding academic excellence, as part of my daily ‘sermon’ to them when we meet for practice, is how to be a good student, and a good citizen of the earth.)

2008 - kurt (2nd row, 2nd from right) with the Estudiantinas, performing @ St. Bartholomew Parish Church

2008 - during the Good Friday Soledad procession

there was a time when his father was knocking at my door to borrow a banduria which he will use in one of his performances at his school.
i don’t normally lend out my musical instruments,
but a number of people called me to vouch for him.
i really didn’t need their assurance, i had total confidence on kurt.

this year, the estudiantinas practiced early.
we held a concert for a cause, and it was successful – a sold out event.
kurt was one of the few that i included in my short list of members that i would need to perform during the concert,
but he couldn’t make it, as he would only come home to baao, to his parents, during the weekends.
but i was assured by his mom he would join this year’s soledad.

just last thursday, melony, my usec, went to their place and confirmed with his mom, that he would be joining us for practice that weekend.

but we could only plan and wish,
The Force had better plans for him.
on the same day, he passed away. he is gone.

i was shocked, i couldn’t control tears running down my cheeks.
he is too young to be gone.
i couldn’t believe it.
i had to gather my thoughts and muster all the faith i can,
not to question His will.
but i do question –


no answer seem bold enough to speak, i leave it at that.
i can only accept his fate.

now, i feel sorrow,
i am sad. . .
because i have lost a son.
i may not be a mother in the normal meaning of the word,
but i declare motherhood over my estudiantinas,
despite, maybe, smiles or raised eyebrows?

i was at the wake last night,
i cried. . .
and mourned. . .

i will miss kurt.
i grieve.
let me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met.

i was on the bus. i had been looking forward to going home! and i was so excited. i didn’t mind that i have to take the “not lazy boy” bus. it was the best feeling to have, that of going home – where i belong.

i was sitting on seat no. 8 – my fave. and downing the last morsel of the empanada that my sis gave me before she left – herself going home.

though it seemed some people around me assumed i was asleep, i was actually deep in my thoughts and my mind was aglee that in a matter of a few hours, i will be back on my fave spot at home and do my fave thing. . .button.

while sitting there in my thoughts, a young lady took the seat just across the bus aisle from me and was asking the driver on how to get to the place where people whale-watch. it was not my nosey me, it was, i guess, my pleasant memory of being treated nice as a stranger in a strange land, that prompted me to join the conversation. i saw in the lady a potential friend.

i gave her my card, my number, and even drew a road map to my house. she wrote some notes and i asked her to let me check her notes, just in case something was missed, nothing was. before sleeping, i told her, i will wake her up so she could see my house when i get off the bus in the morning. we slept the whole trip through. until i reached my place and had to get off, i gently shook her to wake up and tried to tell her: i’m home. sleepily she said ok, and went back to sleep. tired.

that evening, after whale-watching, she was in my home, she re-found me. i was happy that she came out of the adventure whole and so happy. it is not everyday that one can swim with the whales.

she spent the night in the next room, and after we spent hours talking and getting to know each other, we finally gave in to sleep.

the next day was spent with her, ‘living’ my life. she went with me to the hearing at the court (i complained about some abusive local government officials), and she was so amazed how our justice system takes things so easily, the defense having asked for a postponement because the lawyer wasn’t feeling well. she was telling me, she is so excited that she has experienced and seen what it was like to be inside our justice hall. was even asking me: what tourist gets a chance to see the Philippine courts?

brought her to the CWC, and that was another surprise for her. she being the sporty type and does all physical sports, water boarding was like play for her, but not being pulled by a cable! back home a boat pulls you on the water, she said. well, i smugly told her, “not in CamSur” we do things differently here. (hehehe)

lunch was at La Huerta. was she so appreciative! she savored every taste she could identify in the food that Virgie served us: the garlic, the onions, the lemon grass, the mango, the pineapple, the taro, the beans, the okra. . .especially the mango (her favorite) and the okra (she hasn’t seen one before). she hasn’t even seen a fresh mango. so, even the color of it is a marvel.

we went back to the Villa to plan and set her next trip. i made all the calls to all the bus companies and made reservations for her. after we have made certain that she will reach Banawe Rice Terraces the next day, we relaxed (we, being, i felt, i was included in her adventure – Philippine style).

i then treated her to a nice dinner in Naga, and was she feeling so special! she was all smiles and just like in lunch, she was savoring every thing in the meal. i was so fascinated.

we went home tired, but we didn’t want to sleep, it was painful to think tomorrow might be the last time we see each other. so we talked and talked and talked, while i make my F.A.R.M. bracelets. . .until our eyes could no longer hold it, we succumbed.

the morning was a rush, we have to catch a Philtranco bus in Iriga City. we took the padyak to the jeep terminal and took the jeep to the bus terminal (three modes of transportation in just so short a distance) but it was a welcome experience for her.

at the terminal, i asked her to try our pili, which she instantly loved.
then the bus was there, it, being almost empty, i asked if i could have my ride back to Baao on it, the driver agreed. while we were waiting for the bus to finally make its course to Manila, a vendor was selling ‘putong takbab’ (a fave) and asked her to try. she loved it. She ended up with: mangoes, papayas, pili, putong takbab in her backpack. and she was all smiles, telling me when and where she will eat what!
on my ride with her to Baao, she told me: nobody would treat a stranger like you did! I bade her good bye and she was off, bringing a smile in each of our hearts, confident that the future holds a time that we will, again, meet. maybe not on a bus, who knows, maybe on a cart to Kilimanjaro.

my experience with a stranger (now my friend, Michelle), taught me that strangers are potential friends. and it left me hopeful! when two culture share, the world has a chance.

seeing people as friends,
even strangers,
allows us to care for others the way we should
and allows us to learn along with each other.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

my fave pic of late

a sequel to:
on feeling beautiful and being

i must have looked at the mirror long enough
that it finally gave in to the feeling
and the being.

i don't care what you say
because the question is posed only to:


and i know the answer
in my mind
and in my heart.

Monday, March 2, 2009

on feeling beautiful and being

once i decided i should be beautiful
i got better at it every day.
how i did it?

i had to look at my face every morning
until it was beautiful.
nobody is supermodel perfect,
and i don't need to be.
i learned to love my face at a glance,
to accept compliments and offer them too!

one thing people tend to do is pick out every feature of their face
and classify it as horrible or ok.

i don't.

i don't designate parts of my face as better than others,
i see my face as a whole and look past all the little things
- because nobody sees those.

i don't know how many times i have taken a picture of a friend that,
in my opinion, looked beautiful,
only to have them recoil in despair
and force me to delete it (guilty: tootsie, jane, susan).
just because you see everything that is wrong with yourself
does NOT mean others do!
everyone can be beautiful,
YOU are beautiful
and you could be the only one that doesn't know it yet!

don't be afraid to compliment others and receive compliments,
and know that most people won't lie about how nice your hair looks today.
i started surrounding myself with people
who made me feel beautiful
and be around people who helped me feel good about myself
even when they weren't trying to.
this includes being around people who lifts me up
instead of tearing me down and there are a lot of the latter than the former (one should be picky).

i just came to the realization
that i won't look like anyone else.
everyone has their flaws
and i shouldn't be so hard on myself.
i have learned to be comfortable with who i am
- the good and the thing that i wish i could change,
the person I see at the mirror everyday.
i stopped comparing my looks to others,
everyone has their own unique look.

and just like what Ernst always tells me,

i am beautiful because

i am Bernadette.