Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Roxas Avenue: 'Take the right road!'

Two roads make Roxas Avenue: the left road and the right road.

Going to school on foot, I always took the left road; but, one time, mother said to take the right road so she could see me as I walked my way through end of that road. Our balcony was situated in such a way that anyone sitting there could see the right road.

"OK, I will take the right road, Ma; and when I reach the end of the road, I will wave at you."

Mother, attending to my new-born baby brother (the fifth in the family), nodded.

And off I went, taking the right road -- excited, knowing mother was seeing me from behind.

Five blocks away and I reached the road's end. I stopped walking and faced back our house. Already too far away, almost blurry. I had to make the wave as promised, though; but it seemed hard to do because you cannot see the one you are waving at.

Out of faith, I did the wave from left to right and from right to left and vice versa in almost slow motion to emphasize the hand-wave so she could see it.

Did mother see it? "I will ask mother once I am home," I said to myself.

But I never had the chance to ask because family was more concerned with important things than to talk about trivialities.

Before I started my primary education, I had the chance to live in the farm house of my grandma in the mountain and they had a long, slender pathway that one, from the viewpoint of the window, could see someone coming or leaving.

This norm of seeing the coming and leaving of someone dear to one's heart was ordinary phenomenon to children in the mountain farm where they lived, especially when grandma left my mother and her siblings in the house to sell crops and vegetables in the town market.

Mother never knew but I'd watch her go via a crack on the wall every time she left me and my younger sisters locked at home to do beauty home-services for a living during my six years of age; and this changed by way of fire that broke out in the neighborhood -- but that's another story.

To end this story: Despite the minutes spent in walking, not to mention the lingering moments in those grasses along the road of Roxas Avenue, I wondered why I finished my third grade as the "most punctual" pupil in the class.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

One day in your life... along old Roxas Avenue

“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.” -A. A. Milne
My feet were yet of a nine-year-old and trudging on a dusty, rugged road. I was in grade three and alone to walk my way to school on that innocent and lonely road of Roxas ["Raw-has"] Avenue. It was a two-way country road with a long stream in the middle. And it was a stream surrounded by tall and tiny spiky green grass growing alongside. In the tenderness of a young mind, I would stop from grass to grass and take a look and be lost at the beauty of these taken-for-granted blades. The mid endings. The hairs. The cottons. The blooms. The tiny blossoms. The bulbs. The berries! Really, something was on the grasses of that place, I had the longing to behold them, to feel them, to take them home. I could feel the softness touching my face. And the winds! Yes, I could see the wind in that long-stretch part of the world because grasses swayed and danced and rustled and sang. But the song was somewhat of the past that one seemed to want to return to. And as I began to walk the road, the song itself began to sing…

“One day in your life, you’ll remember a place. Someone touching your face. You’ll come back and you’ll look around, you’ll… One day in your life, you’ll remember the love you found here...
"You’ll remember me, somehow. Though you don’t need me now, I will stay in your heart. And when things fall apart, you’ll remember one day… One day in your life…”

Almost forty years passed and it is noon, and fierce is the sun — and I am walking along the new Roxas Avenue. Wide and deep is the canal in the middle of the broad street; it is concrete, tree-lined and grass-less. Gone are the grass of my tender years. Gone are the grass of my childhood. And the road is no longer country and carefree but one of a big city. A structure — the tallest, so far — is standing in the horizon of the other end, white and green — the Marco Polo. The road is busy, busy, busy. Wheels. Business buildings. Houses. People walking and talking. Trade is even in the dead of night. Roxas Avenue is innocent and lonely no longer. It is now tourist highways. But the song of old is on air once again. And I can’t help but remember: One day in my life, I remember the place, something touching my face, I come back and I look around me… One day in my life along old Roxas Avenue in Davao City, Philippines.

REMNANTS: THE GRASS OF YORE. Take heart, sadden not, the grass of tender years are alive, thriving silently underneath, pushing itself through thickness of concrete-walled canal. Remnants — don’t you see? — standing straight under the sun from the crevices of a hardened slope. I picked a stalk and ran its softness, hairy-ends on my face — a reunion! My hairs standing. My eyes misty. Be of good courage, lo, they die not. Hope, its life testifies — and of joy and of triumph.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

'Just do it!'

December 3, 2013. Day 129 of being homeless. 7:00 pm. Sitting at the "round ball" fronting Ateneo university, I was waiting for a certain bank to close doors (outside the bank was where I took my rest at night) when I heard somebody calling me in the familiar name at home: "Do!" I thought, my fellow sidewalk night settlers were calling me -- but, when I looked back, it was my eldest nephew. I froze.

Life in the sidewalk is not easy, especially when you are sick and the "floor" you are to sleep on is pooled with water because of constant, heavy rains.

"Until when is this, Lord?" I asked the Lord and I meant my life as a homeless, sidewalk night inhabitant and He spoke to me through words I saw on the street, words that seemed to jump out from a billboard and, as I received it, my heart panted in the manner so special: "Just do it!" And I knew the words came from the Lord as response to my query.

Upon receiving the words, I prayed the Prayer of Acceptance and found myself relieved and wanting to keep on with this particular suffering: a homeless life.

I was healed from colds and coughing eventually; but after super typhoon Yolanda (international name, Haiyan), I developed more severe dry coughs and it happened during the final stage of my homeless life where I spent at the sidewalk of a particular bank at Roxas Avenue. "Trust" was the only word that I knew during those times.

And as I got used to living this kind of life under the pressure of an illness, I was located by my nephew who had several nights been looking for me in practically all downtown sidewalks.

Brothers and sisters knew of my plight through a family friend who saw me sleeping in the sidewalk one time. Another family friend told my older brother that I was walking with dirty clothes on, not the usual me that he knew of as always "neatly-clothed."

Upon knowing, my family had sleepless nights so that they went to every downtown sidewalk every night looking for me -- until my nephew finally located me on the night of December 3, 2013, the 129th and final day of my homeless life.

I am home again; and I got healed of severe dry coughs, thanks to my brother who bought me medicine. My sister asked for forgiveness. I have forgiven all of them who can't be all perfect all the time. Just as I am.