Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Celebration

   One  Saturday morning, I donned a white dress.
 With  wooden beads and book of prayer,
I set out for a day of mourning,
A friend's father whom I barely knew
was being laid to rest in a garden filled with dew.
What greeted me were grateful hearts and faces smiling
for a man so rich in goodness outlived time's passing.

I dislike going to funerals because it leaves a heavy feeling that lingers long after everyone has gone home.  But this was different because behind the quiet, heavy sobs, what I experienced was peace and joy that was very uplifting.

I never really knew Amy's father. I would see him when I hitched a ride from school or when I visited Amy in their house. It was a mere "good afternoon" or "kumusta po." I gathered that he got married at 44 years old and retired at 48. He spent the good part of his life taking care of his kids - a  favorite daughter and a favorite son. He was their private chauffeur, driving them around to their different activities whether it was school-related or otherwise. He was their tutor and taught them the treasures that can be found in a good book and even asked them to memorize passages from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet.

I realize the lightness I felt that day was the joy of celebrating a life that was marked not by one moment of greatness but one wherein the little, simple and quiet things elevated a man to greatness. Looking at the happiness in the neighborhood kids' eyes when he calls the ice cream man to give them a treat, visiting the slums to give hope to the poor families or occasionally, seeing sadness in his children's eyes because he said "no" to their indulgence so he can help out those who needed more and knowing that through this, his kids will learn the value of giving and sharing are snippets of a principled, contented and happy life.

The Prophet says life and death are connected. I realize that Amy's dad often talked about his death casually because he did not merely understand this, he embraced it. Life and death are linear passages to get to our final destination. We must go through life before death and we must go through death to reach the final place where our souls can truly sing and dance. But the important reminder is no matter what kind of life we are given, we create joy and happiness in simple things - sharing a story with our kids, reading a good book, having a simple meal with people who are important to us, giving help even if we have very little, seeing the good in all things, laughing, smiling and thanking more. And when we have ended our passage, those we have touched and shared our lives with can sing and dance too because they know that we have wonderfully and thankfully enjoyed the entire ride of this journey called our lifetime.

As Amy said goodbye to her father, she held out their special book, now very old with brown, dog eared pages and lovingly read a passage as if she were a girl of 16 who is reading to her father in their home in Sikatuna.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


At fifteen to four, I sit and wait
with a party of fifty or even more.
Some in white and some in stripes,
always as the clock says fifteen to four.

Familiar yet nameless faces,
we await with all our patience.
Some days we have warm exchanges
while there are days I simply read my pages.

Today, I  chose to sit and mull over,
how minutes quickly turn to years after.
Everyday for twelve years plus one more,
I sit and wait at fifteen to four.

A thunderous noise broke my quiet ponder
Stomping feet with bags on rollers just as the day before.
Upright I sit so as not to miss what I always came here for
And as I gazed ahead of me, I see the three I love eternally.

Josh will be a senior this year in Xavier, the last of three. All these years I would sit with mommies, faithful yayas, and drivers  in the waiting room and I can't believe it's almost over. I've been waiting for 17 years in all but I will never tire of waiting for my three boys whether it be in the waiting room or as minutes quickly turn to years after, in our quiet rooms for a visit back home.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


                                                            my  first
                                                         to  utter  my
                                                        goodbyes  oh  
                                                       i  always  tried 
                                                      upon    this  bed
                                                     i've  silently wept 
                                                     letting  this  go  is
                                                     my heartfelt  wish. 
                                                     there is none  that
                                                      nears to the  pain
                                                      i bear, awake  or 
                                                       in  dreams  it is
                                                           ever  near.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Two cypress trees

                                        1889, Van Gogh, "A Wheatfield, with Cypresses"

In the house where I lived
two cypress trees stood.
Mang Nestor, our driver,
Nely and Trining, our caretakers,
Alice, my babysitter,
the others I don't remember
I know they were 7 in all;
they chattered, they bantered
as they passed through our gates
with noisy laughter.
There, upright they stood
 regally and tall.

In the house where I lived
two cypress trees stood.
My mother would bake a cake
on those happy Sunday afternoons;
or with her Singer,
sew fancy smocked costumes,
while we'd play hide and seek
until we'd see the moon;
little feet with hungry faces
there we would sit
in the canopy of braided foliages.
Surely, upright they stood 
firmly and tall.

In the house where I lived
two cypress trees stood.
One day, people came by
hoping to say their last goodbye.
For my mother they prayed;
in the quiet of the night,
her spirit took flight;
a soft breeze in a
warm, and lonely night.
Truly, upright they stood 
bravely and tall.

In the house where I lived
two cypress trees stood.
Every ray of sunshine
that brought laughter in our home,
or dark clouds of sorrow
that brought tears at our door;
Those colors ever so green 
silently witnessed it all.
Always, upright they stood, 
faithfully and tall.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A thousand pieces

                                                                             Jennifer Vranes "Breath of Provence"

As I look into the horizon,
I breathe in the beauty 
that is before me.
I take a step.
I hesitate.
I move back. 
Which path to take I ask,
the linear strip of sky
that greets the earth
where I can soar
with unrelenting certainty;
Or the path less taken,
where I can dance and be free
with violets
amidst the golden fields 
of unending majesty.
A thousand pieces
all kept in a box,
waiting for me to unravel its beauty
as I decide the piece 
to begin my journey.

In the stillness of my soul

(Photo by : Dondi Narciso)

By the light of the moon,
I sit in loneliness.
Head bowed down;
My mind races;
fear is what it speaks.
I lift up a prayer
of supplication.
My heart stirs;
hope is all I hold on to.
A whisper,
I hear.
Is it the wind
making music
caressing my being,
The rustle of leaves
creating a melody
soothing my spirit?
I hear nothing.
In the stillness of my soul,
the sweetest voice emerges
softly singing,
cradling my whole being,
My spirit soars;
Love is what gives meaning.