Coffee Shop 

There is a new shop in front of her usual hangout. “Coffee”,a blinking sign promises 24 hours of fresh brew.

She entered,a little hesitant,but the aroma coax her in.

Her doctor told her not to rely on caffeine anymore,her heart has suffered enough.

He said, “Too much heartbeat ain’t good.” 

“Well,that’s better than having none at all.”,she silently mumbled to herself.

She ordered something light,and went to a quiet corner. After a couple of minutes,she starts to regret coming in.

The problem with coffee shops is that they make you stay and brood over things that should not be remembered anymore. She wonders still of what could have been and what if’s. Waiting for answers from cappuccino and latte’s. 

She looked around.

The shop is full,and some coffees has gone stale. One by one,people started to leave. There were dissapointed look on their faces.

She learned that most people will enjoy a cup over honest conversations. That every sip,comfort floods in,a laugh or smile will make it warmer.

“Just one more cup. Stay. They’re coming.” The coffee is good,I guess the waiting made it cold.

Only 5 of them left,pensively gazing at the window,listening to the shop’s choice of song,or reading a book. One stood up to get a fresh fill.

There was no sense of anxiousness or desperation,no looking at watches every 10 minutes.

“Patient souls.”

She smiled and wrapped her hands around her still warm cup. She’s yet to learn how to be one.

  

Choose Love,Choose Christ 

This past few weeks,I am barely keeping myself afloat in a sea of hate. Every principle and doctrine that I learned is being put to the test,I can only manage to my shake my head or utter a simple reply to questions like “Are you pro or against?”

My mind wanted to choose a side,preferrably the winning one,but my heart knew that there is nothing victorious in a battle of contempt.

I slowly slide into apathy. A non-committal stand to whatever belief I have. I am an Ilocana and I respect my elders,but my views are not bound by my heritage or kinship. I have a strong stand for justice,but an “eye for an eye” has done more damage than good.

To what extent then do I involve myself into a generation clamoring for the right to be heard?

In the outburst of people’s emotions,I failed to see love. If it’s to bury the dead or to bring justice,love must have a bearing in all of this. Is it not the main goal of both parties?

To embody kindness and respect,to teach love. Are we not united by that main goal?

The Lord made all things,knows all things,and is above all things. He holds dominion over us,the King above all kings. Yet He gave us the gift of free will. He has freely given us reign of our emotions,must we waste it in breeding destructive feelings? Why are we participating in a culture that tolerates hate,greed and dissatisfaction?

Slowy,I resurface from my apathy. I chose one path,and that is to follow the Lord’s example of mercy and compassion. I will help pave the way for future generations. It will never be smooth,but I will tell my future kids to always choose the winning side,and that is Jesus and His love.

(Raw and unedited version,pasensiya sa aking grammar inconsistencies 😆✌️)

Remember The Good 

2002,Daddy Bebot passed away. It was the same day,November 1. We were all planning to go and visit the graves of our relatives,but he stayed behind and said he was not feeling well. 

I remember that day. I asked my aunt if we can go home early and not stay overnight in our family house. Something was not right. It was night time when we arrived,Nanay Marlyn,his wife was home. 

She wasn’t crying. She was trying to be brave,but her voice broke down and said,”Awan ni Daddy Bebot mon balasang ko,adda suna ken Apo Diyos’en.”

We rushed to the emergency room of our provincial hospital. Covered in white cloth,he was laid to rest on one of the hospital beds,waiting for the funeral home to take him away. He was declared dead upon arrival at the ER,nothing can be done. 

I was 12 years old,the finality of death to me was not yet fully grasp. But that night,I felt it. It was like a train wreck of feelings. I pulled the cloth covering him,looked at the man who was easy to give praises,kindness and love. How could someone so special,so kind and loving be taken away? Why does it have to be so sudden?

He was our favorite uncle,a father figure to some of us. He was one of the first to say,”Naglaing to balasang mi/baro mi.” 

The day he died,older cousins who was also loved by this man,came. Ate Karen hugged him tightly,as if the love for this man can bring him back to life.

It was a cold November,a sad reunion for all of us.

But it did not stay that way. I remember stories of him,of how he was a good soldier,a loving husband,a patient brother and friend. 

I listened,we cried,we laughed. We celebrated his life.

For a man who survived dangerous mountain excursions and multiple vehicular accidents,dying quietly in his sleep wasn’t how he was expected to go. 

But that is death,unexpected. It creeps out to both young and old. 

Whenever I visit cemeteries,I look at graves of strangers and see how old they were when they died. 12,16,25,30,50,85 years old. Just numbers to me but a lifetime to them and their loveones. Years spent on learning,loving and hating,forgetting and forgiving. 

I was 12,he was 53 when he died. I got 12 years of his life and I can only remember good things. That’s a good way to live I think,to do good,to be someone kind. 

Kapag may Bagyo

May nangyayari sa paligid na kakaiba.

Alas-kwatro pa lang ngunit madilim na ang paligid,haplos ng hangin ay malamig. May kaunting kilabot na nararamdaman.

Nasambit mo,”Mahangin dahil Nobyembre.”Napakabilis ng panahon,na parang ang mga buwan ay hinihila ng mga taong gustong makalimot.

Subalit mali ka kung sa tingin mo ako din ay binago nito.

Mahigit isang taon na pero andito pa din ako. Sinasalanta ng pabago-bagong klima ngunit nanatiling matibay at nakatayo.

Maya’t maya may darating,bugso ng damdamin na parang hanging nag-aalimpuyo sa lakas. Magdamag na iihip at sisipol,kinabukasan ay mang-iiwan ng bakas.

Nasanay na ako. Magwawalis at ililigpit ang mga kalat ng ala-ala,masasaya ngunit nakakasugat.

Subalit hindi ka pa pala tapos. Naala ko,nasa dagat Pacifico tayo,dadaan at dadaan ang bagyo kahit anong ilag mo.

Nagbago ako ng stratehiya. Naglagay ako ng mga panangga,mga pabigat sa bubong. Itinali ko ang mga pwedeng matangay ng hangin,pinutol ko ang mga sanga na pwedeng bumagsak.

Handa na ako ngayon. Marahil hindi na ako matatangay muli.

Akala ko lang pala yun.

Dumating ka,mas malakas pa sa aking iniisip. Mas matagal ka ngayon,na para bang nasa iyo ang lahat ng oras,na para bang ako lang ang pinili mong salantain.

Sumipol ang hangin,nangungusap. Nakiramdam ako sa iyong ibig ipahiwatig. Humina ang ulan,ngunit ramdam ko andiyan ka pa din.

“Ano ang kailangan mo?”,matapang kong tanong.

Unti unting nawala ang malakas na hangin,ang ulan ay tumila.

Lumabas ako at itinaas ang mata sa himpapawid,may malamyos na hangin at konting ambon.

Sa may di kalayuan,ikaw ay nakatayo. Nangingiti at nahihiyang lumapit.

“Ikaw.”

Minsan,simpleng tapang lang pala ang kailangan para harapin ang bagyo. Isang tanong,at isang simpleng sagot.

Tala

Hawak mo ngayon sa isang kamay,libro na kanina pa gustong magbahagi ng kwento.

Ngunit ang diwa at isipan mo ay nasa kalawakan niya,

Bituin at mga planeta sa kanyang mga matang kanina mo pa tinatanaw.

Kamay ay itinaas,hintuturo mo ay dahan dahang sinusundan ang linya ng kanyang konstelasyon,

Nangangarap ka na may mahulog na bulalakaw mula sa kanyang puso.

Pipikit ka,

Hihiling,pangalan niya’y sambit

Matamis na ngiti sa labi ay gumuhit.

Subalit mabilis ang hulog ng bituin,ang apoy nito ay mamamatay din.

Pagbukas ng iyong mga mata,kislap na hanap mo ay wala na.

Ginalugad mo ang kalawakan,nangarap na siya ay dumaan muli.

Ngunit ang isang tala ay minsan lang mahulog,

Ang pagbulusok nito pababa ay mabilis,diretso at sigurado.

“Narinig kaya niya ako?”

Tinalikuran mo ang kalawakan,naglakad ka papalayo,

Ngunit hinabol ka ng bulong ng hangin at sumagot ng,

“Oo.”

Kwentong Tatay

Takot ako dati sa helicopter.

Si daddy lagi akong kinakagalitan kapag may helicopter sa kampo. Tunog pa lang kasi,sobra na akong kinikilabutan. Iiyak ako at magwawala at tatakpan ko yung tenga ko.

Pero isang araw,may ginawang kalokohan ang tatay ko. May sorpresa daw siya sa akin,kailangan ko daw sumama. So ako naman,tiwalang humawak sa kamay niya. Pagdating namin sa grounds,narinig ko na agad yung tunog na nakakabingi. Aatungal na sana ako sa iyak at tatakbo kaso mas mabilis siya sa akin,kinarga,itinakbo,at sinakay niya ako sa helicopter.

I was shaking,my eyes were closed just when we were about to take off. Pero biglang nagbago,the sound was deafening but it wasn’t scary anymore.

Buksan ko daw yung mga mata ko.

“Kitam,nagpintas aya? Haan ka mabutbuteng. Lugan la detoy, haan na ka met a anan-wen.” (Tingnan mo,maganda diba. Huwag kang matakot. Sasakyan lang ito,hindi ka naman niya sasaktan).

It was my first victory over fear,at kasama ko ang tatay ko para pagtagumpayan iyon. 

Sa lahat ng tatay at magiging ama in the future,hawakan niyo lang ang kamay ng mga anak niyo kahit anong mangyari,sabihin niyo sa kanila na kaya nila basta magtiwala lang. 

I’ve never been afraid of helicopters ever since.

Caffeine Heart

You’re like a warm coffee on a cold day. I put my hands around you to stop the shivering.

I smile and say,”This is nice,I could get used to this.”

But then I remember,I don’t drink coffee anymore. I never knew that too much caffeine can kill you.

Or too much “you” but not enough “us” can harm the heart.

So I settled with the next best thing,I put on my cardigan and hugged myself.

“Warm but never cozy.”

Hopefully,I won’t get used to this.

  

My Version of Clark

After the success of OTWOL,I am sure a lot of women wants to be Leah,and marry someone like Clark. Love stories like that tend to create an air of anticipation and expectation that THE ONE will embody the perfect man. 

But perfect is far-fetch,we can only pray for our own version of it,so I wrote something for the person God will bless me with.

I can’t stare at you for too long cause it might give me away. But in those milliseconds that I dare to gaze at you,I see someone I could spend the rest of my life with. An eternity in a glance,so cliché.

Yes,I see my future.

Yet there is more to this longing of just being with you. In all that you can offer,your responsible self,gentle hands,assuring smiles and honest compliments,I see someone who can teach me that life is meant for kindess and selflessness. 

You will need to be patiet with me. I can tell you about the most outrageous stories about my adventures and mishaps,but I beg you to dig deep. “I am a universe full of secrets.”,there are scars that I hide,marks that I have concealed believing that by ignoring them,they might disappear. But I am wrong,they are part of me,and some of them are unpleasant.

Teach me to walk out of fights I cannot win,accept defeat and be graceful about it. Be honest with me when I overdo things. Indulge me whenever I walk inside every bookstore and thrift shop. Put up with me when I wake up cranky. Remember that vanilla ice cream,pancit canton with pandesal can complete my day and my idea of a romantic date is climbing a mountain and binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy. 

Please love me harder when the ugly memories of the past resurfaced,tell me that tomorrow is something to look forward to,cause I’m with you. There will be mornings that I am not myself,but you will coax me out of it with a cup of coffee and a hug. 

This is too much,I know. Yet I trust you too learn more about me each day. You will unravel me,and love or hate some of the new things you will discover,but I trust you to step up and be the man God deemed to be my other half.

Yes. You will show me how you have grown in God’s love. That every downfall and sin is forgotten and how it is amazing to be reborn in Jesus. Your faith will sustain mine,we will build a family centered in Christ.

As I brave to look at you once more,I smile and shake my head. All of this is silly and I’m getting ahead of myself,but then our eyes met and there is a knowing look in your face.

The future might come sooner than I have imagined.

  

  
*photo (c) Beau Taplin

Anong Nangyari?

It’s too early for small talks,I moved away from people who might ask me what I’m doing here,a lone Pinay. Baka kako i-Chinese pa ako,wala din naman ako masasagot.

As I sat in a hospital bench,waiting for my mother to complete her admission,I looked back on how my 2015 and first month of 2016 turned out. 

Well,how was 2015? I had 365 days of love and hate at work,some close friends leaving,gained new ones,attended conferences and concerts(my first to watch a foreign band),2 mountains(the second one being the third highest peak in the Phillipines,so I’ll forgive myself that I only climbed two,tsaka you know,schedule and stuff),sunsets at the beach(Manila bay included,oo kahit mabaho! Ang siste,makikita mo daw and pinakamagandang sunrise sa Pulag,pero ang pinakamagandang sunset sa Manila bay),attended a wedding,my second year being a Cornerstone volunteer,and of course,going home to my beloved Ilocos.

If someone asked me what was my most notable memory of 2015,my Mount Pulag climb would be the best one,pero hindi ang pinaka-highlight. 

I’d like to call it “My Heart” weekend.

While my heart beats fast for some uncontrollable reason,my mind tried to race with it,bakit ako nandito? Biglang may cardiac monitor at ECG tracings,IV insertions,blood extractions. Doctors and nurses trying to solve the mystery why my heart was beating fast? 

The doctor asked me my whole name,who I was with and what happened. I tried to piece it all together. I told them what I know. After a while,after medicine has found it’s way into my heart,I cried. 

Kase nakakahiya,nakakatakot,nakakabigla. 25 years old,isang nurse pero nandoon bilang isang pasyente.

8 hours sa Emergency room,isang araw at kalahati sa ICU,at isang araw pa sa floors. Hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin masabi ng mga doctor ko ang exact na cause,sabi sa Thyroid,o baka daw may problema talaga sa puso. For me,hayaan na lang ang cause muna,I was glad that I was okay,that I was alive. 

Overwhelmed pa rin ako hanggang ngayon sa mga nangyari. Turning point yun ng buhay ko. Narealize ko that health is wealth ika nga,na hindi mo magagawa ang mga bagay na gusto mo,hindi ka magagamit ng Diyos sa mga bagay na gusto Niyang pagawa,kung may sakit ka at mahina ang katawan. 

I learned that you could rely on people,na hindi mo kayang gawin lahat. Madami din palang nagmamahal sa akin kahit papano,nasa malayo man o malapit. I got to see people who cared and prayed

I got to see God and His never ending miracles.

Maraming tao,kahit sa mga nananampalataya,pati din ako,ang cynical sa milagro. Ngayon,I am believer. 2015 was full of miracles,and God isn’t done yet.

So paano naman yung unang buwan ko ng 2016? 

New years day was for fireworks and friends. My work does not allow me the luxury of long weekends and holidays,I stayed in the city and was resolve to let the year pass in the hospital (which happens every year since I started working).

But God has His ways of surprising you. Hindi nga naman natatapos talaga ang biyaya ng Panginoon. Na-Holiday rest ako and a welcoming home of a close friend served as an added gift. We spent the whole evening eating ang playing billiards,and laughing. Yes,since the three of us were spending holidays away from home,the company of each other and laughter made everything bearable,and happy.

Our stomach was full and our spirits high. Kaya lang,may mga trabaho na kailangang balikan,responsibilidad na kasama ng pagtanda. Two years na din pala ako sa aking trabaho,I never thought I could get pass it,pero andito pa rin ako,akalain mo yun?

Dahil may gustong patunayan sa sarili,umakyat ulit ako ng bundok. Against the advice of everyone,I planned to hike again. I got my clearance from my doctor,1 week of prepping,I was set to go.

God’s majesty,yun lang talaga. Walang ganun kagandang lugar kung hindi dahil sa kanya. It was a weekend to remember,with a good company,hot sopas and chicken na walang sauce. Mount Pulag welcomed us,the sea of clouds was visible,the day was perfect.

More than the beauty of the mountain,I treasured more the friends I was with. Last year,ng una akong umakyat,I was with my HighSchool buddies,my sister and my colleague. Ngayon naman I was with my SFC family. Sobrang blessed lang talaga ako sa mga kaibigan,na gustong umakyat din ng bundok at pagurin ang sarili,at game sa kasiyahan,pero andiyan din sa mga oras na kailangan mo ng karamay. 

Ngayon,nasa waiting area ako ng isang hospital sa ibang bansa,inaantay na matapos ang operasyon ng nanay ko. There will be moments like this,family members and friends who are sick,some get well,some may not. There will be hearts broken and spirits crushed. 

Every year is different,but there are constant and infinite truths. The love and grace of God,the care of family and friends,the lesson of responsibility and resilience,the joy that this world gives,the sorrow and pain for us to learn and stay strong. 

Andito tayo para mabuhay,gawin lang natin ng tama. 

       
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

 

Matulog Ka na Tadhana

You are my 2 am thoughts. Yet I dont know who you are yet,the enigma of my second shot at “love”.

Have you been thinking about me too? How we should have met already and should be singing to some chessy slow song.

But here I am still listening to UDD’s Tadhana,and arguing to myself why I find Fate and Destiny so fulfilling,yet tragic at the same time.

 Paano kung hindi dumating? Paano kung nasa gitna pa rin pala siya ng Edsa,stuck in traffic and can’t see any way out. 

Sabi nila,waiting is being in the state of God’s grace. I’m sure,God’s grace is not meant to torture the life out of you. 

Or perhaps,yun din ang gusto Niyang mangyari,na mag-antay ka at mabaliw ka,hanggang mahanap mo din ang sarili mong katinuan. Para pag dumating na ang inaantay mo,buo ka na at matino,at handa ng magmahal.

Handa ka na ba sa mga mixed signals,subtle signs at misleading emotions? Handa ka na ba sa mga ngiting hindi pala para sayo? Kasama lahat yan.

25 years and I think I will never be ready,but hey,I am always willing to try.

So my 2 am love,handa na ako,ina-antay kita.