A Rendezvouz With Good Friends And The Trip To Tagaytay

The past few days have been almost surreal to me.

Saturday morning, Margie and Gerald Lu picked us up for a rendezvous with Ramon and Juvy Gabaldon at the Mall of Asia.  The Lu’s were my wife’s college buddies from way back and happened to get to be good friends with them as they come to visit Gerald’s brother in the States every now and then.  Ramon and I happened to be high school classmates since 1st year high school and has been good friends ever since.  Juvy is also my wife’s high school buddy and has been a very close friend.  Melita, my wife, was instrumental in getting Ramon and Juvy together as partners in life.  Juvy and Ramon is also my Sasha’s godparents.

We went to Mall of Asia, a huge mall in a massive 410,000 sq. m located in Pasay City in Manila and is owned by the SM Holdings.  The last time that I was in the Philippines, they were just prepping up the development and reclaiming some lands.

We had breakfast with the Lu’s and Juvy until Ramon finally caught up with us after a morning meeting.  It’s been a while back since I had seen the Gabaldons and quite refreshing to had the chance to catch up and just plain talk about good times and what’s been happening with friends in Manila.

Afternoon, Ate Ruby had Mama and my three nieces picked up from our place in Paco to join us for a trip to Tagaytay.

For those who are not familiar with Tagaytay City in the Philippines, Tagaytay City is around 35 miles away from Manila with a temperate climate because of its high elevation and provides a good vantage view of Taal Volcano, one of Philippines dormant volcanoes.  Taal Volcano is actually surrounded by a picturesque lake and has been quite a popular tourist destination because of the popular claims of the lake’s healing power.

We went to  Canyon Woods, a residential resort in Tagaytay.  It is a resort subdivision with amenities that one normally gets with typical resort membership club or country clubs.  It incorporates lodging facilities in what they call casitas.  It also includes a 9 hole golf course.

After dinner, my wife and the kids went to play bowling while I called it a night.


Happy Father’s Day

It’s been almost a week since Father’s day, but today I had a chance to come visit my father after almost 10 years.

Papa has been supportive with most of my endeavor.  On my childhood days, I used to go to his hardware store and learn the business.  I used to stay on weekends helping out selling, or doing just about anything to help out.

I took shopper’s orders and prepping them up for delivery.  It can be anything from weighing nails to just bringing anything for customers.

When I last saw him, although a little bit weaker, he could still manage to walk by himself and go to the Park to meet his buddies.  Age has caught up with his struggling childhood during the second World War, his strong body has been weakened quite a bit and being helped out by a private nurse.

I had mixed emotions as I saw him transcend from the stairs being helped out.  I am blessed by God with a good father.  Although he has his weaknesses, like all of us, but he made sure we had a good education and the right ‘tools’ to become successful in life.  He did not want us to take the path that he had growing up.

I don’t know but I sensed that it’s not the same with him.  I think the burden of his weakening body has frustrated him a bit.  Sensing from what he says, I think he feels entrapped in his own home and not being able to go to places he used to go to.  Compound that with the fact that I think most of his friends has now been gone.  So the peer camraderie that he used to have is not there anymore.

I’m grateful to God for being able to have a father like Papa.  If anything else, I think I got the benefit of having similar feature and that’s how most people get to learn about me.

I remember the days of watching soccer with him at Rizal Colizeum.  Even though it’s a boring game for me, I remember how he gets excited with each goal that the team he supports will make.  That’s why next to basketball, soccer has been the next favorite sports for me.

I wanted to become a doctor when I was growing up, but he discouraged me and made me take engineering.  I think it was God’s direction as well.  I do think I could become a doctor, but I don’t think I would be happy doing it.  I have been very technical even at an early age, so I ended up graduating as a Chemical Engineer who then turned to become a computer specialist.

I’m trying to cherish every moment that I had with him now.  Life is like a flickering light.  A blow of the wind could take it away.  Thank you Lord.


Trip Back To Paco

Paco, Manila.

This is where I grew up.  Going back to this place almost took me on a course back to the past.

This was were, as a boy, I could remember walking the streets with flip flops to my father’s hardware store bringing him Mandaring cod (Lapu-lapu) on misua (a fookien rice noodle) soup, or maybe some squeezed oranges.

I could remember the house that I was living before in Kansas St with my feet hanging down on the windows enclosed with decorative steel weaves that are so typical of Manila’s 60s.  I could remember walking the streets of Herran (now Pedro Gil) and getting bullied by some kid who I think is trying hard to be cool as a jerk, eventually getting ‘saved’ by a classmate, Bernie, and became ‘untouchable’ afterwards.

The once popular Sterling bookstore was gone, and the vocational school were I learned to type at an early age during summer was long gone as well.  The local movie house, Bellevue, where featured double films were shown is now a store.  The Iglesia ni Kristo church is still majestic in proportion to most buildings surrounding it.  I think it is one of the structure in Paco that still holding up to Paco’s fabric of life aside from the market.

I wish I could go to some other places like my elementary school, Paco Chinese School.  Part of my character was formed from the teachers that taught me good study habits, encouraged me to study, and offered lasting impressions of how small gestures of faith on one’s strength could be a platform for a person’s success to the future.

Dart St (now Angel Linao) has also been transformed.  I remebered an alley to a neighborhood where my mom used to have her clothes made by Aling Loleng.  I don’t know why but subconsciously I could still remember the cat poof.  I used to take this alley as a short cut when I walk around the block from Singalong St (no, it’s not sing-along as CJ say it).

The corner building facing on the entrance to the market is still intact.  It’s an social icon of Paco Market.  There used to be a portrait studio on that building before and it’s also the place where I had my teeth taken out by some dentist.  Restorative dentistry was not the game before.  It’s easier to take it out than to fix it.  I should have know better.

These places have shaped up the life that we have, sculpted the persona that we have with  friends and peers.  There’s a lot of changes that have happened on this city.  And some structures has remained the same and is in dire disrepair.

Like our lives, a lot of change has happened and there are areas that needs change.  The only thing that remain constant with change is time.  Everyone has the same amount of time each day.  Might not have the same length of life, but same unit of time that we’ve been given.

I have been self reliant most of my life that I failed to see the dynamics of how tapping on to other people’s strength can help me use what God has given me to shape up something for His purpose.  If there’s anything that has become evident in my life in recent weeks is my opening up to other people the door that allow them to become part of my life.

I have now tread on to a new phase of my life.  Not trying to achieve success to impart to other people how to achieve success, but to become part of other people’s success to become a success for God’s purpose for my life.


Back Home

Monterey Park, east of LA has been home for me for the past 20 yrs.  This time I returned home to my roots, Manila.

Last 23th, we departed from LAX for Manila on a much needed vacation and family time together away from the usual daily grind.  It’s been almost 10 years for me since I went back home and visited my mom and dad.

We came on a rainy morning.  There was a typhoon and like most tropical countries, Philippines in June kicks off the monsoon or typhoon season.  The last time I was in Manila was when I was picking up my two kids, Sasha and CJ, after an extended vacation stay 10 years ago.

We were welcomed by my brother in law, Angel and Jasmine, his lovely wife.  Aside from the storm, news on the radio were covering H1N1 hysteria.  There has been quite a number of people that was believed to have some infection of the flu.

Coming from LA, the first adjustment we have to make aside from the jet lag was the humid weather.  It was raining and being accustomed to some not-so-often rains in Los Angeles, I got use to expecting a little bit cool weather.  Growing up in Manila should made me accustomed to this kind of weather but I was just spoiled rotten with California weather.

Anyway, it’s nice to see familiar places and some new not so familiar ones.  Of course, in Manila, a slight chance of rain welcomes the usual occurrence of flood.  But to aggravate it, the splash by moving vehicles on to some people waiting for a ride to work, or passengers on pedi-cabs, makes me feel bad for those people getting wet.

Melita, my wife, was already happily chatting with Ate Ruby, my sister in law, on the cell phone, who happened to be not feeling well and could be having some flu.  So as a precaution, we went ahead to my brother-in-law’s house and had breakfast.  My wife has been very concerned because two of our luggages were forced open somehow.  I think some of the vitamins that were on the suitcased must have created some suspicion at the LAX TSA inspection.

She was worried that something was stolen on the suitcase.  As usual, if she gets bothered, everyone gets bothered.  She was worried that the camera that she and Ed (my other bro in law in Canada) bought for Ate Ruby as a birthday gift was stolen.  Anyway, she found it and it was just a usual precautionary.  I feel bad for her because we had purchased one of those TSA approved locks that the TSA people could open without forcing the suitcases.

After breakfast, (again), we all had shower (thank goodness), I had a good chance to having some quality time with Lei and Kobie (Angel and Jazmine’s children), and Gelai.  I think you could say it something like ‘bonding at first sight’.  Lei and I had some good quality time getting to know each other.  She did Bimbo rock, and then did some jumps with Kobie and Gelai.

Interestingly, I found out the Kobie and Lei are lefties.  My two kids are lefties too, so I kind of have some experience on certain lefties behavior.  And those lefties out there, don’t tell me you don’t have any.  I had a good time playing with them on the notebook computer when I was checking my emails, and had them typing out their names on Wordpad.

Then, kaboom.  Reality and body adjustment kicked in and I could not help it.  Sleep has taken over.