The Pains of Being Lonely

I cry.

You say, “Be strong”.

I cry some more because you don’t seem to understand.

You say, “Be strong for him”.

I cry even more because you really don’t get it.

I cry because I’m lonely, not because I’m weak.

I cry because I’ve been trying to be strong. Not for anyone, not for him, but for me. Because first and foremost, I need me to survive — every day, every hour, every minute.

I cry because sometimes the loneliness just creeps in and some days, you really don’t have full control over it.

I cry because I will never get over it.

I cry not because I’m weak, but because I’m lonely.

And it’s sad that you can’t seem to understand.

It’s sad that you might never get it.

On Getting Older

“WHITE HAIR!”, I exclaimed rather too enthusiastically while checking my reflection in the elevator mirror.

“Why are you so excited?”, the puzzled husband asked.

“It means I’m getting old”, I answered.

“Then why are you so happy?”, he asked still puzzled.

“Because not everyone gets to be old”, I quipped.

Which is true when you think about it. We’ve all been conditioned that getting old is a bad thing, especially the ladies. White hairs, wrinkles, sagging skin, freckles, and (gasp!) expiring egg cells are some of the things that we should fight against all odds. Or just try to prolong from happening as much as we can, no biggie.

But please hear me out. Getting old is a blessing.

Every waking day that we get is every chance that we get to live our lives the way we want to – go to places we’ve never been, hug and kiss the people we love, have a good laugh with friends, read that book that’s been collecting dust in the shelf.

So rejoice if you start seeing white hairs, wrinkles, or sagging skin. These are testament of life lived.

Dial 8-Delivery

I’ve been thinking: What is it with people asking me about babies and weight gain that really, really bothers me?

This due to the fact that I attended several reunions (forced and not) over the holidays and got into the usual roast with people.

Reunions that made me realise why I’m starting to hate reunions. It’s like looking at a cracked fucked-up mirror held up straight to your face by that someone.

That someone who shouts to the world “Ang taba mo na!” even before the “Hello”.

That someone who sarcastically comments “Ah.. kaya ka pala tumataba..” on anything remotely related to weight or body measurements without even knowing about your hormonal and emotional struggles.

That someone who blatantly asks “Bakit wala pa kayong baby?” before the “How are you guys doing?”.

That someone who imposes “Dapat gumawa na kayo kase tumatanda ka na” like I’m some sort of baby manufacturer about to be bulldozed in a few months.

And that someone who has a pathological need to always reason out the miscarriage “Kaya ka siguro nakunan kase…”.

It may be a culture or a generation thing but I really find it insensitive and bordering on rude.

Weird thing is, I’ve met with friends who asked me about the miscarriage and my weight gain that did not bother me at all.

Which led me to realise that it has nothing to do with the subject of miscarriage or weight gain. It has more to do with the delivery. I felt more receptive and open to people who sounded genuinely concerned with what I’m going through compared to those who sounded mocking or even accusing.

I don’t really mind if they want to know what happened and if we’re trying again as long as it doesn’t feel like it’s an imposed requirement for a marriage. It’s so archaic it’s giving me migraine.

And what is it with people and their love for humiliation? Sometimes it’s so ingrained in their system that they don’t even realise that their idea of small talk is already humiliating someone.

I’d appreciate it better if you give me tips on the most effective diet or exercise for someone with hormonal imbalance instead of flashing your abs at me, thankyouverymuch.

Tone and timing is really essential for good communications.

Manners maketh man.

A Monologue on Analog

A few months back, I decided to sell my Fuji X-20 and buy a film camera. It has been a long existing idea which never materialized, until that day. After some consultation from film camera trotting friends and much to my husband’s prodding, I finally decided to let my 4-year old camera go. Even though I felt a great deal of separation anxiety, I know that I had to part from it and let someone use it instead of just letting it collect dust in my cabinet.

We were able to find a buyer willing to get it at our selling price. In exchange, I got myself a Minolta X-700 – a 35mm manual SLR black beauty:

Selling price was decent and the gramp who sold it to us gave useful tips and tutorials. He insisted on me getting a rangefinder, but I don’t think I’m ready for that, yet. Maybe in the future; depends on how this analog affair develops. 😉

One thing that made me decide on getting the Minolta X-700 instead of the more popular Canon AE-1 is because the former has aperture priority. I am fond of taking stills so I figured it will be more useful for me. Besides, the Minolta has manual  control so I can use it to play around with shutter speeds if I want to. Win-win, right?

Now why would I get a film camera when everyone else around me is trotting around the latest digital camera models?

Truth be told, I want to learn.

Really, really learn. Not just the technical side of it, but all the other aspects of photography.

With film, you get to carefully compose your subject before you click. You learn how to be more selective of your shots because you only have 36, at most. You also develop a certain instinct , especially when taking pictures of moving objects. When is the right time to hold my breath and softly click the shutter? You tend to think of lights and lines and shadows differently. How are they going to interplay with my film and my setting of choice?

I know that most of these can also be learnt using a digital camera. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on it and not totally abandoning it. But what I wanted to learn about film is the whole end-to-end process of it. The patience to look for the best angle, the patience to exhaust a whole film roll without being too clicker-happy, and the patience to wait for your films to be developed.

Prior, I didn’t know that developing a BW film would take a month! So imagine the anticipation to finally see your work.

Did they turn out the way I imagined them in my head while I was composing the picture?

Some don’t but, hey, it’s part of the learning process.

I already have several rolls developed as of this writing. You can check some of the shots here.

One downside of shooting film, though, is the financial damage. Heck! I just lost one full 36-shot roll and only came to know after it has been developed. The film was exposed so it was literally a canvass. Almost a thousand pesos down the drain!

In shooting film, you pay for literally every process – from buying the film, getting them developed, having them scanned, and getting them printed. I’m actually glad that we have an option to scan films now. That way, you can just choose which ones you want printed. A perfect sample of analog-digital union!

I’d say that shooting film is still worth it. The satisfaction on seeing the finished product is much higher for film than any digital format. I can only think of one word when I see my processed roll: kilig 😍

Most especially when you get surprise (tsamba) shots like this:

The first burn is the deepest. Baby, I know.

Chapter 3: Goodbye

My Uncle’s funeral took place on December 29th, on a very rainy afternoon. We attended the last mass and listened to my Aunt’s final eulogy. Aside from thanking everyone who’s there, she basically repeated what she said the other night: To forgive my Uncle in all his shortcomings and give him his needed peace.

Before the trip to the cemetery, I went over to his coffin and said the same words again: I forgive you. Rest in peace, Uncle.

Have you noticed that when on the brink of goodbyes, we tend to just repeat what we say over and over?

Turning around, I saw my cousins (his daughters), and did the next normal thing. I came over to them and gave them each a hug. There were no words exchanged. The hugs were enough.

Over the years my relationship with my Aunt and my cousins has been tainted because of my Uncle’s nuclear temper when drunk. I really can’t blame them. They are his family and they will always choose his side. I think it also didn’t help when I chose to stand my ground and distance myself from them. Not inviting them to my wedding was clear evidence of a broken relationship.

But on that day, I chose to set that aside. And they did, too. After all, we are but collateral damages to my Uncle’s drunken mess.

I was comforted by the fact that they acknowledged my Uncle’s errs. I used to always wonder why they never said sorry to our family. That they always act as if nothing’s wrong. It used to piss me off a lot.

But that day was not the day to get pissed off.

I found myself fighting back tears as we were going out of the funeral home. The past years of harbouring ill feelings came back to me all of a sudden. But it was gone as quickly as it came and I was left with nothing but a relief. It’s as if a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders.

On that day, I bid my goodbye not just to the dead but also to the past.

Chapter 2: Forgiveness

Eulogies have always been strange to me.

People talk about good memories about the dead but everyone who listen end up crying.

People talk kindly of the dead compared to when he was still living.

People would say things about the dead that would still surprise you.

I attended my Uncle’s wake with a resolve to pray for him and tell him that I wholeheartedly forgive him — despite all the resentment throughout the years.

I don’t know much about the after life but, in this case, I would like to believe that we really have spirits who can still see, hear, and feel the living world even when we have already departed. In the realm of the unknown, I hope he heard me when I came up to his coffin and said,

I forgive you. Rest in peace, Uncle. 

In the series of speeches by people close to him, I came to know that my Uncle has always been the joker of the group, the center of attention. An aunt said that even in death he, still, is the center of attention. He died on Christmas Eve so instead of having the usual holiday festivities, we all gathered in the funeral home for his wake. It was supposed to be a joke, but sometimes old people jokes really bewilder me.

His friends talked about his antics, his daughters talked about  his kindness to them, his son-in-law talked about his unfulfilled dream of becoming a lawyer and making it a mission to make this dream a reality for his brother-in-law, my Uncle’s only son.

His wife… his wife talked about forgiveness.

On the last night of the wake when the eulogies happened, she requested everyone whom her husband has wronged over the years to find it in their heart to forgive him and make their peace with him. He wasn’t perfect, all of them said, but they hope that we hold on to the good memories instead and let the bad be buried when he’s finally rested.

It’s a pity that my Uncle’s goodness has been masked by the evils of inebriation and we became his punching bags for his frustrations in life. I was just comforted by the fact that his verbal cruelty towards us were not experienced by his own children, some of his relatives, and few of his friends.

While writing this, I realized that eulogies are surprising because you will never really get to know a person 100%. Everyone of us has a myriad of personalities; each side revealed to those we only allow it to. We could be cruel and kind at the same time. We could be sad and funny at the same time. We could be inconsiderate and loving at the same time. Popular opinion would say to always stay in the lighter spectrum — be kinder than necessary — but reality is, not all people are gifted with enough kindness and self-control. Some get controlled by the devils on their backs. Some by the alcohol they take daily.

I also realized that eulogies tend to be kinder to the dead not because we are a fickle society, but because we choose to part with the departed on good terms. In the past whenever I attended wakes or hear about a death and the people’s mourning, there will always be someone who will say: I hope they said those kind words to him when he can still hear them. I hope they made him feel loved when he was still living. But that’s doesn’t really help, does it? Sometimes, it’s better to stick to the good than be consumed by the bad. Sometimes, it’s best to treat bad memories as water under the bridge and just bury the hatchet.

Lastly, I realized that eulogies make people cry despite the retelling of good memories because in the end they are the ones that we like to remember but can no longer recreate.

Sa mga taong nakulugan sang agom ko, ako na tabi nag-aagad pasensya. Sana dai nyo na po isipon ang mga mararaot. Ipabalon nyo na sana tabi saiya su mga mararay…

To those whom my husband hurt, let me be the one to say sorry. I hope that you no longer think about the bad. Please let him take all the good memories with him… 

I did.

Chapter 1: Death

It was the morning of December 24th when I got a call from Mommy.

Your Uncle is gone

I was surprised. From what I indirectly heard, he has been steadily recovering post-ops in the ICU. And based on the Facebook posts from various aunts and uncles, he’s been responsive.

I should have been shocked… but all I felt was emptiness. A kind of resolute nothingness that is neither good nor bad.

After all, how do I wrap up years of semi-hatred into an acceptable state of mourning?

For a fraction of a second, I felt guilty that I haven’t properly interacted with that Uncle for several years. So much feeling of indifference has been built between us that I even decided not to invite him and his family to my wedding.

Any positive memory that I had with him has been buried deep within by a series of bad memories, all of them done in his state of inebriation.

They say words can hurt you more than any physical force. Especially if you’re young and don’t fully understand why you have been at the receiving end of such hurtful notes.

It’s true.

Every time I see him when he was alive, all I can think about are those instances when he would be spewing bad words at my brother, my Lola Nanay (Mommy’s mother), me, and even my Daddy (his brother) who has done nothing but save him from his multiple life troubles.

We were supposed to go to the hospital this morning. He requested for us to be there because he will say sorry and ask for forgiveness…

Really?, is all I can say to my Mommy.

Funeral’s on the 29th. Are you going home?

Of course. I’ll look for the next available trip…

The thing about family is you can never truly cut yourself off from them. There are certain things that you need to do for them because you are bonded by blood. Sometimes, family solidarity is more important than any personal principle.

Attending a funeral is one of them.

Blindsided

In life, we are taught basic rules for survival. Like looking left and right before crossing the street. That, or risk being a roadkill. Or worse, a roadkiller.

But there are times when we completely forget about this childhood lesson. We are so much in a hurry to get to our destination that we…

BAM! The door of your cab hitting the motorcycle that just sped by..

Ano ba? Di ka tumitingin sa paligid mo!

Sa susunod tumingin tingin ka muna bago ka bumaba!

You’re frozen for a minute or two, unable to comprehend how this basic rule could elude you. But then you’re reminded of life’s other basic rule: apologizing for your mistake.

Sorry po. Hindi ko po sinasadya.

Nawala lang po talaga sa isip ko.

There are three requirements for an effective apology: (1) humility (to admit that you were wrong), (2) courage (to own up to your mistake), and (3) good timing (to get the other to forgive you).

Right now, you only have 2 out of these 3. He’s still fuming mad, face beet red, eyes blazing; but the lady with him gave you a kind smile.

And it that moment, it’s enough.

kaBATAAN

I spent the last weekend in Bataan with my current teammates at work. Out of the 9, I would say that only two of us are not part of the 2nd-gen millennials. You know, those that were not born in the 90s. 😉

4 days and 3 nights in a sleepy town, with shaky phone signal, no TV, work in between and little sleep.

Screams like your worst weekend nightmare?

NO, it wasn’t. I had a good time with the kids, actually.

They were sweet and fun to be with. And they taught me new things. Most of them techie-related, but still new learning, nonetheless.

It’s a little sad that millennials have been encircled in this big bubble of generalization that’s half-full of fallacy. I’ve been guilty of making fun of them, irritated at their impatience in life, and rolled my eyes a number of times on their out-of-nowhere sense of entitlement. They sound like they talk a whole different language and social media is their deity on existence but the amount of backlash that they are receiving from us, adults, could border into the unnecessary don’t you think?

It used to be cute when people our age would quip about what made our generation awesome. Nostalgia is good. It fills us with this warm feeling that makes us remember the good things in life. But when nostalgia turns us to be this competitive, overbearing, and buhat-bangko creatures, it ceases to be cute anymore.

Remember when we would hold this little rebellions against our parents or titos and titas because they just wouldn’t give us a break? We were just so sad, so emo back then all the time. And the thing is, we didn’t understand why they couldn’t understand us. It felt like they were always breathing down our necks.

Ang itim itim mo!

Bat ganyan ang suot mo? Hindi ka nag-aayos. Gayahin mo si Pinsan 1 at si Pinsan 2.

Magpahaba ka nga ng buhok. Mukha kang tomboy.

Etcetera etcetera

So we just turn into our trusty walkman and our favorite artist to either drown our self-imposed loneliness via impressive guitar riffs or to further fuel our self-repressed anger via angry rap lyrics.

And now, it’s happening again.

But NEWSFLASH!

We are the annoying Titos and Titas now. We are the ones not giving them a break!

So instead of being too self-righteous, why don’t we try to understand them? I know that there are a few that we can’t really stand but why should we allow the minority to prevent us from being mentors of the rest?

After all, the current’s generations attitude is the result of the past generation’s guidance. Their success is very much ours, too.