By Norma Hennessy
MID-YEAR REFLECTIONS & OBSERVATIONS – from a Pinay-Adelaidian
I found that to get to do 'great' things, you need to do the smallest things that denote goodness and kindness first. And before these 'great' things find their way to happening, you start doing the kind and good things from within the vicinities of your turf and then outwards. How? Rein in your negative thoughts whenever you get tempted to criticise and complain. Share what you can, however meagre, whenever you can with no vested interest. Small gestures go a long way. People may forget you or even your gesture that caused a realisation in them, but whatever nice value that has been awakened in them will remain.
I went back to old hometown for my aunt's funeral and I came to a sombre letting-go. It was just not a sad affair. Once again, I found that life has its way of rubbing on you a reality that sooths and knocks you down. I went home with sweet old thoughts of being in an old frolicking ground of youthful innocence. I came away benumbed. I met new and old friends. I caught up with an old mentor. I teed up with old kinfolks. And i had a re-awakening, a re-education of sorts. I had expected changes and took in the changes with fascination; save one shocking news. I bristled at having learned that a number of female college students were selling their bodies for sex. One hundred fifty pesos!
Mulling over this issue back home in Australia, I was forced to eyeball issues squarely. It's a different generation, obviously. With different values perhaps. Therefore this would take a different way of handling a problem to resolve it. Obviously, the issue has to be taken beyond the traditional moral consideration - about the issue being right or wrong on the basis of religion or abstract concepts of principles and mindsets. By focusing on immediate physical dangers and economic impacts, the practice may not be totally eradicated but it could be minimised. Sex education has to be given emphasis. Public information should be widespread on sexually transmitted diseases (herpes, aids, etc), their dangers and their life long impacts on newborns, on victims and their families. Showing pictures of how bad these cases can get will help dissuade people from going into the sex-trade.
Economics has its way of insinuating that one grows ancient in so short a while. I realize that my mind has not detached itself from thirty years ago. Now, there are new establishments that have mushroomed. And monetary values have changed so much that it seems like I needed to brush up on my mathematics, fast! Chowking halu-halo @ P90+ per person. Ice at P3.50 a pack (plastic bag approx 10" X 5") And if you're only getting 5,000.00 a month and with family to feed, that halu-halo becomes a decadent treat. And ice becomes an unaffordable necessity under conditions when ice melts in a few minutes of being out of the freezer.
It is no wonder why the blossoms of the mango tree by the fence along the road, however much they would have been, would not ever reach the stage of maturity, much less ripening. It gets Santa Claus-ed at night. The vegetables in the paddies: if they do not get watched over 24/7, the fruit gets prematurely harvested. Eyes will be hot on them.
In the province, this has become a situation that is treated with indifference - with acceptance, almost, by the common tao. It is basic and it is political. But we are all so focused on the political aspect we are blind to the fact that the very values that need to be upheld for any society to survive is ERODED amongst us.
They say that the soul's journey into the great beyond is blessed and light if the person passes on in the early morning at sunrise. If that be right, then blessed be my Auntie Maria’s passage as she passed on in the morning. At her funeral mass, we took a few photos. A quiet regal old lady with simple wants and simple needs, she had requested that there'd be no band music as is customary in funeral processions. She wanted to slip away quietly. There was one vital consideration: she was adamant on the use of pristine white for her service.
Just before the memorial mass at 9:30 AM for my Auntie Maria Levy on that Saturday - June 15, it was quiet and sombre inside the San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine in Lalaud, Bangued. Earlier on, we walked the funeral procession from my aunt’s house in Acosta St. to the shrine. The vigil and wake was held at her house that has now aged with neglect. It was a house that I remember to have had a façade that was painted three candy pastel colours of light blue, pink and light yellow. The colours have faded and the dilapidated grey of the surrounding fence seemed to make the walls close in. It was a sad morning.
In a last farewell photo taking inside the shrine after the mass, family members linked up behind Auntie Maria’s white coffin - dainty and pristine on a bier. Somewhere at the back of my mind, Orson Welles’ words slipped in quietly. “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”
A post on a social network group on Facebook laid it out bare: a photograph of a wrecked giant monument of former President Marcos.
One can only glare in aghast at the photograph of the wreckage - or what was left of what was once a work of art. For it was art, regardless whose image it was.
I hang my head in absolute disappointment at the flood of thoughts – shamed and questioning, at how feral we still are. They all came to a point of realization that our acclaimed social ‘civilization’ and our belief that we are a matured nationality that’s worthy of ‘liberty’, is all bluster and squawk! Decency, from the way of things, seems to be detached from our reality and is still way above us. We have not progressed from our primitive ancestors with whom hatred and meanness, which were the rules of jungles, reigned supreme. It was a sad affair that a work of art that was representative of an era that will always be part of our history – whether we like it or not, would be senselessly wrecked .
When you are thinking of doing some general cleaning at winter, think again. It could mean changing a piece of furnishing or equipment or accessory here and there. Whatever it is that you intend replacing, go for it as long as it’s not a queen-sized bed.
When my Q-sized bed was delivered, I took on the challenge of assembling it myself. It was delivered by a pair of incredibly tall father and his daughter. The man was at least 7 feet tall and the daughter was about 6'4. The girl has the most exquisite face. It was a face that would make Angelina Jolie be fit for her manicurist and which would make Brad Pitt have a fit to realize that his wife is not the world's most beautiful woman when pitted against this magnificent girl! So wholesome looking that she'd make Scarlet O'hara look like an impressionist portrait gone-bad! And... get this, she delivered my Q size bed into my bedroom!
It was motivation enough to get me started assembling the base and not get discouraged at the Do-it-yourself instructions that turned out to be tiny characters that an ant will need lenses to see. (Pulling the eyes to the side in an almond shape and taping the ends, as you would to one strategically angled Illusion graphic print in order to read the print, would not make the print any legible, I found out.)
Three hours after, I was still doing and undoing and redoing the screws and washers. And were it not for the thought of my 4'10 feet friend Morita lumber-jacking a huge tree in her backyard all by herself (mind you, it took her one month!) two years ago, i would have quitted! The labouring paid off. But not after my joints and muscles and bones have started to feel like they've just been through a thorough pulping! And then, one kilo lost calories later, I braved the wintry night and rush off to the laundromat.
Whingeing about my slavery-driven day, I was told that I should have had it assembled for me. And so I explained that if you want your purchase assembled for you then you'll have to get the delivery re-scheduled and it may be at a time not suited to yours. (I went to the shop the afternoon before and I wanted it delivered the following morning -a weekend). And getting the delivery people do the assembling would have cost me an arm and a leg. People outside Oz do not know that labour and service in Oz comes at a price. In my case, doing so would have defeated my purpose of purchasing the ensemble at a special Financial year end-sale (50-70 percent disount!). However, had I known that it was such a magnificent creature that would come to deliver it, i might have reconsidered! The shop's delivery man who was her father said that he tagged her along because this weekend was the only time that he got to see her! Sweet specie of a man, Ha ha ha, -dragging his daughter along to his job as a way of spending quality time!