The choices we have to make

I was chatting with a friend just a few hours ago, catching up about our lives. She’s a mother of two cute/naughty little boys now, one is already in pre-school.

She is an ex-OFW, an ex-colleague of mine, one of those people that I used to admire.

We both moved to Dubai in 2006 and that was our very first overseas job. She just turned twenty and I was just turning twenty one that time. I was a fresh grad of a four-year HRM course and she just completed a two-year hospitality course.

While her confidence and wit impressed the big bosses on the first few days of our training, my introversion and incompetence led me to extended training days, reading the sequence of service, memorizing the menu and observing the trainers and the ‘advanced’ trainees move around the floor during the restaurant dry-run.

Not even a month at work, the bosses have already decided to include her on the list of prospective Trainers. Enlistment is almost an assurance of promotion.

After a month at work, I was still polishing cutleries at the back of house and was still being guided by our trainers and supervisors.

Not only did she excel at work, but in life matters as well. I thought I had enough hardships earlier in life to make me grow to what I was at that time but all my self-proclaimed maturity looked so childish compared to hers.

We all had the same amount of salary and we all send money back home but she always had extras. She, at that point, already had her own concept of saving money, investing, etc., which I have not realized till not so long ago.

Though she was the youngest in our team, everyone looked up to her, even the older ones. During those days she seemed like she’s going to have the brightest future ahead of the rest of us. I always thought that she had always been the tiger, while the rest including me were just mere stray cats.

But her bright looking future became bleak when she indulged herself into an illegitimate relationship followed by pregnancy.

She was forced to go home as she can’t give birth in Dubai without providing a marriage certificate. She used up all her savings, sold the land that she bought and ended up being buried deep with mountains of debts.

She took another overseas job, just like all the ex-OFWs do. She left her first born and headed once more to the Middle East with her partner and after two years, she’s pregnant with her 2nd child and she had to go back home again.

This time, she can’t leave the country anymore. Two kids are too much for her ageing mother to take care of. Her partner resigned as well and left his job in the Middle East as soon as she had given birth to their second son. He said he wanted to be with his two sons as they grow up which I thought was not the smartest idea at that time. They haven’t saved anything, or maybe they just have enough to cover her maternity expenses.

She was really broke to be desperate enough to ask money from me and from some of our ex-colleagues but we can only help her to a certain extent.

I felt sad for her but also a bit irritated by the way she had led her life, a complete turn from how she used to live. A complete opposite of what we thought she would be.

It was ironic though that we became closer at the time that we were apart. I used to admire her as a colleague but we were not the best-est of friends. We don’t even talk that much at work as I found her very intimidating.

A point in time came when I questioned her for all her wrong decisions. I pointed out her mistakes as well as her partner’s. I blamed her for all the opportunities that she missed and for choosing her illicit relationship over the decent life and job that she had. I blamed her for having kids when she knew that she won’t be able to support them financially. And I was really flustered when she told me ‘andiyan na yan eh wala na tayong magagawa.’

Earlier today I inquired about her well-being as well as their small street-food business and she said she was struggling to make ends meet. The business is at break-even. She’s just covering her costs. She wants to leave the country once more because her meager earnings won’t be able to support them further. She said, ‘magdasal na lang tayo.’

As she mentioned her daily life struggles, I remembered my mom. I actually saw my mom in her. I remembered the days when our debts were higher than we can imagine and our small RTW shop didn’t really do well. My mom had to deal with debt collectors every single day thinking of reasons after reasons to tell them as to why she can’t pay them on time. She had to deal with the debts as well as the collectors while finding ways to send her four kids to school. My mom used to ask my Tita, not her blood sister but a childhood friend, for money to pay our debts. Tita was living a decent life because her husband was working in a cruise ship back then. I just thought, did Tita ever blame my mom for choosing the life she led? Did she blame my mom for having 4 kids instead of just 1 or 2 knowing that she would not be able to support them? Did she blame her for selling RTW clothes in the public market while she could have chosen a more glamorous job? A high paying one? Did she blame her for sending her kids to private school knowing that she couldn’t afford the tuition fee?

I realized how mean I was to blame my friend for all her decisions. I was very ruthless and I thought I became so full of myself. I looked down at her and criticized her during the time when maybe, what she needed was motivation and encouragement.

Later on I thought, maybe her decisions were not really wrong. Maybe they were just made at the wrong time and a bit carelessly. Maybe they weren’t wrong decisions but poor choice. Or maybe what I thought was a wrong decision, the best choice at that time or maybe the lesser evil.

What makes me mad with myself more is the thought that I judged her and her decisions according to my beliefs, according to my mindset. But then, who am I to tell her what to do when I have not even walked in her shoes?

We all have different circumstances in life and we always have to make choices. And what’s wrong for someone could be the best choice for someone else. I always thought I’ve had enough hardships in life to make me and my temperament a lot better than the rest but I was wrong. I learned a lesson that I should have learned a long time ago and I learned it at the expense of a friend who is in a rough state.

To admit my mistake is easy but to apologize is difficult. All I can do for now is hope and pray for her well-being as well as her family’s and to at least be there for her at times that she needs me the most.

*sorry for the English. I’m panic.

Isa na namang OFW na napahamak

Hay! Hay! Hay!

Parang kakapost ko lang nung nakaraan ng The Country Training People to Leave kung saan binanggit ko na napaka-risky maging kasambahay lalo na sa Middle East pero hinihikayat pa rin ang ating mga kababayan para maging bagong bayani.

Ilang beses ko ng nakita sa newsfeed ko ang video na ito pero pinanood ko lang nung nakita ko na sa Inquirer eh. Kala ko hindi legit. Andami kasing mga video na hindi mo alam kung totoo eh.

Ok. So, ano na ngayon? Ilang Pilipina pa ba ang hahayaan niyong mapahamak at mapariwara o masahol ay mawalan pa ng buhay bago niyo maintindihan na hindi niyo na dapat pa sila hinihikayat magkasambahay lalo na sa Middle  East.


Wag niyo kasing ibaon sa mga bumbunan ng ating mga kababayan na pag naging kasambahay sila ay bayani na sila. Andami tuloy napapahamak. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

*hindi ko po pag-aari ang video

Ang mahabang kasaysayan ng paglaban ng mamamayang Bangsamoro


Irereblog lang po

Originally posted on Hello.Lenin!:


Note: I wrote this article for The Philippine Online Chronicles.

Mahigit 40,000 katao ang nag-bakwit sa kanilang mga tahanan dahil sa patuloy na opensibang militar laban sa rebeldeng grupong Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) sa Maguindanao na sinimulan ng gobyernong Aquino noong huling linggo ng Pebrero. Lagpas sa isandaang libong sibilyan na ang apektado sa opensibang ng gobyerno laban sa BIFF. Maraming bahay at sakahan ang nasira sa walang pagtatanging pagbobomba ng mga sibilyang komunidad.

Ngunit kung tutuusin, isa lamang “cover-up” ang opensibang ito na may layong ilihis ang atensyon ng publiko palayo sa kriminal na pananagutan ng gubyernong Aquino at ng Estados Unidos sa madugong operasyon sa Mamasapano. Sinasamantala ng mga tagapagtanggol ni Aquino ang malaking pinsalang idinulot ng mga mandirigmang Moro laban sa Special Action Force (SAF) ng Philippine National Police (PNP) sa Mamasapano upang ibaling ang galit sa kapalpakan ni Aquino tungo sa mamamayang Moro.

Ang panibagong…

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Ito ang kauna-unahang libro ni Maya Angelou na nabasa ko (at hindi ito ang magiging huli). Hindi ko siya talaga kilala dati. Narinig ko lang ang pangalan niya noong pumanaw siya nung nakaraang taon.

Ang I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ay tungkol sa buhay niya mula noong bata pa siya hanggang mag labing pitong taong gulang siya. Ito rin ang kauna-unahang libro niyang na-publish noong 1969 (hindi totoong mahilig akong mambungkal ng mga sobrang lumang libro).

Isa lang masasabi ko sa kaniyang paraan ng pagsusulat, nakaka nose bleed. Ewan ko lang, pero medyo dumugo yung ilong ko. Hindi naman dahil sa sobrang hirap ng mga salitang ginamit naiintindihan ko naman yung karamihan(pero mahirap pala yung iba ha ha), hindi naman wala sa bokabularyo yung mga salita pero yung pagkaka-construct ng sentence ang nakaka nose bleed. Ewan, baka ako lang to. Baka naninibago lang ako dahil unang beses ko pa lang nakapagbasa ng libro niya.

Tinalakay sa libro ang mga isyu ng murder, sex at mas pinakamadalas mabanggit ay yung racism bilang Black American si Maya at binanggit ang mga ito sa pananaw ng isang batang Maya Angelou. Higit sa harap-harapang pangmamaliit ng mga puti, pinapasok din sa kukote ng mga batang itim na iba sila, iba rin ang mga puti. Na dapat gumalang sila sa mga puti at di sila dapat tumawid sa teritoryo ng mga puti. Kinuwento din kung paano na lang patayin ng brutal ang mga itim pag may nagawa sila sa mga puti kahit napakaliit na bagay lang at kung paano manalbahe ang mga puti.

Minsan nabanggit ni Maya na hindi daw humans ang mga puti, mga whitefolks at powhitetrash lalo na nung bastusin ng mga batang puti ang lola niya.

Pinakamatinding diskriminasyong nabanggit sa libro ay nung magpapatingin sa dentista si Maya dahil sobrang sumasakit na yung ngipin niya at dinala siya ng lola niya sa isang puting dentista. Sinabi ng dentista na mas gugustuhin niya pang ipasok ang kamay niya sa bibig ng isang aso kaysa sa isang negro. Ang lupet lang. At to think, itong dentistang ito ay pinautang pa ng lola ni Maya noong nakaranas sila ng matinding recession. Matindi lang.

Kakaiba din ang mga pananaw ng mga itim pagdating sa relihiyon lalo na ata ng mga matatanda nung panahon noon. Biruin mo’y tinadtad ng palo si Maya ng lola niya nang sabihin niya sa kapatid niyang, By the way, Bailey, Mrs. Flowers sent you some tea cookies….Akala ko kaya nagalit yung lola niya dahil ayaw niyang tumanggap ng kahit ano mula sa iba yun pala kaya siya nagalit dahil sa term na ‘by the way’ dahil daw sabi sa biblia “Jesus was the Way, the Truth and the Light,” kaya pag sinabi mo daw na ‘By the Way’ katumbas daw noon ang ‘by Jesus’ o ‘by God’ na isang paglapastangan sa pangalan ng Diyos. At nung pinaliwanag nila na yung mga whitefolks daw ay normal na ginagamit ang ‘by the way,’ dahil daw iyon sa wala silang galang sa Diyos sabi ng lola nila. Ang weird lang.

Isang magandang babasahin ito. Pangalawang beses pa lang akong nakapagbasa ng tungkol sa diskriminasyon sa mga itim, yung unang libro ay puti ang nagkukwento at ang ‘feeling’ ay puro awa dun sa dinidiscriminate. Ito naman yung dinidiscriminate ang nagkukwento kaya iba yung atake.

At bilang panapos ng post na ito, isang napakagandang linya mula sa librong ito ang aking iiwan:

Colors weren’t true either, but rather a vague assortment of shaded pastels that indicate not so much color as faded familiarities.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

pasensya na po sa image. malabo ang kuha huhu


Heto at kain buhangin na naman ang drama namin dito sa disyerto. Ito na ata ang pinakamalalang sandstorm na nakita ko sa talambuhay ko sa Dubai. Syempre hindi siya katulad nung sandstorm sa Mission Impossible ni Tom Cruise, O.A. naman yun. Nagtatalsikan pa nun yung mga kotse eh he he.

Tom Cruise Sandstorm

Ganito lang. Madilaw lang ang buong Dubai. Maraming buhangin sa hangin, makulimlim, nakakapuwing. Hindi kita yung mga matataas na building, maraming lilinising bintana at kotse pagkatapos :P

kuha mula sa bintana ng aking opisina #nofilter

kuha mula sa bintana ng aking opisina #nofilter

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Haay. Kagaling lang ni Khaled Hosseini kumurot ng puso.

And the Mountains Echoed

Author si Hosseini ng Kite Runner at A Thousand Splendid Suns. Nabasa ko na din yung A Thousand Splendid Suns eh. Basta ang magiging reaksyon mo pagkatapos mong magbasa ng libro niya ay ‘napakasakit Kuya Eddie.’

Ang kwentong ito ay umikot sa buhay ng mga taong konektado sa isa’t isa pero pinaglayo-layo ng tadhana dala ng iba’t ibang sirkumstansya sa buhay. Bida dito sina Pari at Abdulla, magkapatid na Afghan. Nagkahiwalay sila dahil binenta si Pari (mas batang kapatid na babae), sa mayamang amo ng Uncle nila. Doon nagsimula ang napakaraming sala-salabid na kwento ng buhay nila at ng mga taong naapektuhan nila.

Si Pari, mula Afghanistan ay napuntang France. Si Abdulla naman, napadpad ng Amerika nung sumiklab ang gera sa bansa. Nabura ang alaala ni Pari nung kabataan niya kaya hindi niya naalala na may kapatid pala siya. Nagkita rin naman sila muli nung matatanda na sila. Kaya lang, by this time, si Abdulla naman ang hindi na nakakaalala sa kaniya.

Pinakamagandang aspeto ng librong ito ay may kaniya-kaniyang side of the story ang bawat karakter kaya makikita ng mambabasa ang point of view ng bawat isa, ang mga dahilan sa likod ng kanilang mga desisyon, etc.,

Madalas tinatalakay sa mga kwento ni Hosseini ang gera sa Afghanistan, isyu ng pamilya, isyu ng feminism, kaya para kang nagkakaroon ng glimpse sa kulturang mayroon ang bansang iyon.

Overall, napakagandang babasahin. Maganda pero napakarimdim na kwento.

Ito ang mga paborito kong linya sa libro:

“They say, Find a purpose in your life and live it. But, sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind.”

“But time is like a charm, you never have as much as you think.”

Madaling Araw by Inigo Regalado

Unang nailathala ang nobelang Madaling Araw noong 1909 kung kaya’t ang tema at setting nung libro ay mundong sobrang layo sa kung ano ang ating kinagisnan. Pati yung mga Tagalog na salitang ginamit ay sobrang lalim na minsan pakiramdam ko ay nagbabasa ako ng ibang dayalekto. Minsan may hindi ako maintindihan. Aba! Akala ko ay malalim na akong mag-Tagalog. Ay! Hindi pa pala!

Si Inigo Regalado (enye yung n sa Inigo) ay kaibigan nila Fernando Amorsolo at Guillermo Tolentino at tanyag sila sa U.P. bilang Tres Mosquiteros. Mga haligi ng sining. Alam niyo na siguro kung ano ang dapat i-expect sa kaniya?

Aminado ako na hindi ko kilala si Regalado at talagang tsambahan lang ang pagkakakuha ko sa librong ito nung namili ako sa NBS ng mga Tagalog na libro noong nakaraang taon.Nawirdohan pa nga ako sa book cover. Kako, bakit may patay na ibon?

Aminado din ako na nung nasa bandang unahan pa lang ako ng libro ay gusto ko na itong itiklop dahil sa sobrang bagal ng kwento pero buti na lang hindi ko ginawa iyon. Napagtanto ko na kaya mabagal ang kwento ay sadyang ganoon ang takbo ng buhay mahigit isang daang taon na ang nakakaraan, di tulad ngayon na lahat ay mabilisan. Lahat ng mensahe gusto may reply agad. Kapag seen ang mensahe at walang reply, magtatampo na agad. Isipin mo na lang noon? Nung ang means of communication ay sulat lang. At pinakamabilis na ang telegrama?

Kayamanan ang obrang ito.

Ayaw kong ikumpara pero para talaga siyang Ana Karenina (hindi yung palabas ni Antoinette Taus, Kim Delos Santos at Sunshine Dizon ha grrrrrr). Siguro, kaya ko napaghahambing ang dalawa ay dahil halos nasa iisang panahon lang nangyari ang kwento, isa pa pareho itong napakagagandang mga nobela.

Ang Madaling Araw ay isang romantikong nobela na umikot sa pag-iibigan ng mga pangunahing tauhan na si Mauro at Luisa at iba pang mga magkakapareha. Maraming trahedya ang pinagdaanan ng mga magkakasintahan, yung iba ay nauwi na lang sa pagkakasawi dahil sa matinding kalungkutan na dala ng mga pagsubok sa kanilang pag-iibigan.

Sa kwento, parang binubully ng mga kabataang Pinoy ang mga Pinoy na laking Amerika. Mayroon silang mga tinawag na ‘Filipino Boys’ na pinagtatawanan nila dahil nagpupumilit magsalita ng ‘lengwahe ni Shakespeare.’ Ang kulit lang. Samantalang ngayon, lahat gusto magkaron ng American accent ano?

Noong wala pang telebisyon ay kakaiba ang libangan ng mga kabataan. Nagbubugtungan, sayawan ng walts at rigodon at kantahan ng kundiman. Iniimagine ko lang, ano kaya kung ganiyan pa din ang libangan hanggang ngayon?

Sa kalagitnaan ng romantikong pag-iibigan ay biglang may mahahabang talatang naghahayag ng dakilang pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa, bagay na hindi kataka-taka sa ganitong klase ng libro.

Marami ring iba’t-ibang isyu ng lipunan ang tinalakay sa librong. Isyu noong panahon nila na isyu pa rin hanggang ngayon tulad ng pagtangkilik sa produktong banyaga at isyu noong parang hindi na masyadong isyu ngayon tulad ng sobrang higpit na mga magulang na nangungurot sa singit at namamalo ng sinturon.

Habang binabasa ko ito ay na-i-imagine ko na ang mga senaryo ay parang yung mga nasa pelikulang makaluma. Black and white, makaluma ang buhok at pananamit ng mga gumaganap, naka kamesita de chino ang mga lalake at naka baro’t saya naman ang mga babae. Madrama. Maraming iyakan. Maraming panibughuan. Simpleng buhay. Tumatanaw sa bintana sa kinahapunan. Nag-aawitan sa ilalim ng punong mangga. May mga kalesa. Sayawan. Kundiman. Bugtungan. Karnibal sa Luneta. Mga parte ng ating pagka-Pilipinong madalas mahahagilap na lang sa mga titik sa libro at sa likod ng pinilakang tabing.

Madaling Araw

Madaling Araw