March 7, 2022

My youngest daughter called me today to catch up. She was telling me that her friend was paying $3,000 for her daughter’s apartment. And her daughter was 21!!! Then she went on to say how glad she was that I never picked up after their mess, and they had to solve their own problems. This was after they left home to go to college.

After her student status expired and she became illegal, she had to work two shifts in a Japanese restaurant. She would do one shift, and when that was done, she would go to the Storage Area where they kept their huge sacks of rice, the gigantic soy sauce bottles, and everything that the restaurant used. She would sleep until her next shift, then she would work the second shift. It was very tiring for her, but at least she kept her financial independence.

Her eldest brother also became illegal when his long-time girlfriend found a rich husband and dumped him on the day of their interview at the Immigration. He carved tables and sold them. One table he sold to his former fiancee for $5,000. When he went to Ireland to wait for his fiancee to marry him, he worked as a welder. He stayed with his fiancee’s mother. One day, the machine he was handing went off from his hands and scraped his head and cut his left earlobe. Fortunately, the earlobe was sewn together and the scratch on his head was minor. His mother-in-law-to-be asked, “Aren’t you going to call your Mom to tell her about this accident?” She felt that this was a serious accident since the machine could have done a worse job. He answered, “No, it is not necessary, it will just worry them.” The mother-in-law just looked dazed. How could this be hidden from his parents? But he did not tell them about it. She told his mother about it when they met.

My brother, the Heir Apparent of the family, decided to cut himself off from the family duties by migrating to Canada. He found the responsibilities of collecting rent and giving up his sleep after a night of partying on weekends too stifling. So he decided to leave, for independence. He had gotten married and had two children. He didn’t want to be buried in family responsibilities.

I chose to leave with my brother. My marriage had fallen apart, and the only way I could get a divorce was to go abroad. I watched my brother as he struggled with household duties, with low-paying jobs. I found a way to get my divorce. As I prepared to leave Canada, he decided to open up to me. We lived together, but silence seemed to be his way of coping with this new life.

He told me that he found work as an hospital orderly. He asked our Dad who was the head of a military hospital in Manila to give him a recommendation letter. Dad said he wouldn’t sign it, but would give him blank stationery with the hospital seal, so my brother could type what he wanted on the paper.

He was given the job of an orderly to a surgeon who was doing circumcisions. As an orderly, he needed to shave elderly patients’ pubic hair. The surgeon came in to perform the circumcision. When he lifted the sheet that covered the genitalia, he let off a scream!

“You’ve never done this before!” the doctor said to my brother.

“No,” my brother meekly answered.

The surgeon had no choice but to shave the patient’s pubic hair himself. My brother watched so he would do better next time.

A Filipino nurse heard about this, and talked to my brother. She looked at his record and recognized my father’s name. My father was the head of the military hospital where generations of doctors and nurses did their internship.

“Does your father know about this?” she asked my brother.

“No,” he answered in a low voice.

“I know of a Nursery where you can work.” Sure enough, within a few days, my brother left the hospital and worked in a nursery where he tended to plants and sold them.

Starting a new life in a new country is always difficult. With the Ukranian war going on, there will be more migrants moving into countries that do not want them.



January 27, 2022

When I saw Raul as a little boy, I didn’t think he would be an extraordinary person. He seemed to have problems with his speech. He had this whiny voice, coupled with stuttering his sentences, I just shrugged my shoulders and wished him luck in the future.

Every religious woman dreams of having one of her sons to become a priest. This was San Luis, a small town, and religion played an important part in people’s lives. There was always Mass in the morning, a novena in the afternoon, and festivities celebrating the lives of saints and the Virgin Mary dotting the whole year. I will never forget this woman, who wore brown the whole year, in honor of Saint Anthony. I met her when she was old, and the red spittle of bettel nut matched her dark brown dress. I later found that my Dad, the great Luis Franco, also wore a dress for a year after he miraculously escaped death due to typhus.

Raul had many playmates of the same age growing up with him. Soon they found themselves studying in a Seminary, to become priests! To fulfill their mothers’ dreams of having someone pray for them the whole eternity. Raul went on to wear a cassock at his father’s funeral.

I was a few years older than Raul. I had my own issues, so I never really paid much attention to him. I was closer in age with his eldest sister, Mel. She shared my room for many years when she and I went to college.

What I particularly noted about Raul was that he often wrote to the Editors in the newspapers. My aunts would be thoroughly shocked about what he wrote. He talked about landlords not giving adequate shares to their tenant farmers in the splitting up of the harvest. “How can he forget he is the son of a landlord?” was the main theme of the discussion. The aunts forgot that Raul had the blood of a hero, Casto Alejandrino, running in his veins. I knew I had clipped some of the articles that Raul wrote. But having moved house, those are now gone.

I don’t know why all of a sudden, the sheen of priesthood disappeared. Was it because the two Ibañez seminarians died of drowning? Or the fad just went away? I found Raul had “gone out” together with his cousins Amable, Freddie Boy, etc., etc. When I saw Raul next, he said he was taking his Master’s in Theology. Wasn’t that being the same as priesthood, without the celibacy and cloistered life?

Pretty soon, Raul’s mother, my godmother, Ninang Vi, started talking about preparing for her sons to marry well. She was quite excited about Raul’s future wife who lived in an exclusive subdivision close to Ateneo. Then a grandson arrived. Then the split.

That must be part of Raul’s life that he would prefer to bury in the center of the earth. It was a tumultuous life, with court hearings, recriminations, heart-wrenching scenes. Let us not talk about it.

The thing that struck me about Raul during this episode was his undying love for his son. It would be the equivalence of a movie of titans– battle to the ground, to death! Poor Ninang Vi was absorbed by it all. I bet she suffered as much as all the other protagonists.

At one point, Raul approached me. By this time, I had made my “empire” of medium-sized apartment buildings that I built on my parents’ lots. Raul had this ingenious idea of bringing the upper-middle-class Maryknoll students into the lives of those fishermen who lived in Binangonan, Rizal. They would stay a week with a family, eat and sleep the way their host’s families lived. With this experience, they would know more about how the poor lived.

Raul proposed that I hire as a Building Manager, the head of the fishermen’s association, Ka Sonny. He was a short, stubby, man with a broken tooth in the front of his mouth. I decided to see whether this fisherman could use his leadership skills in an urban setting. Raul’s pitch was that, the waters of Laguna Bay had brought less fish, so he wanted Ka Sonny to have a better-paying job, with me.

I humored Raul. After all, I had a few buildings that needed managers. I could lose nothing by employing Ka Sonny. Looking back, those years were the best years of my managerial life. There two of them, Ka Sonny and Nani Alquidano. They were at home in t-shirts and loose pants. But they ran my buildings as best as I could ever imagine.

Through this experience, I saw the humanity that knew no economic boundaries. Honesty. trust, ability to find solutions to any situation. In time, I lost Ka Sonny and Nani to death. Ka Sonny was run over at dusk, and Nani suffered a heart attack. I really miss them. One of the truly best people one could meet at a corner.

Raul found another woman and had another son to replace Franco who left for the States. His life settled somewhat into a normal one.

How does one sum up Raul? Family-oriented, loving, an intellectual, a true concern for those in the lower rung of society, a true Son of God on earth. In many family gatherings, Raul would lend his quiet self to show support for family unity. I can see the love his students have for him, how he remembers each and everyone’s birthday. As a brother, he is always with Cristan during important holidays.

We all must go and leave those on earth. Raul has been different. I will treasure the memories of him, his mom, his siblings. They have been my rock. I have had no one but them as my family all these years. Thank you for walking with me in this journey of life.


January 27, 2022

We slept in two separate beds. It was more convenient to have separate beds when the other party was away so many times of the year. If we shared a “matrimonial” bed, sometimes when he was in a middle of a fight in the dream, he would kick me. Or, when it was winter, he would take the blanket and hold it against his body, leaving me with nothing. When he was away for work, when he came back, I would all of a sudden have someone next to me.

Twelve months before Ralph died, I would see a black shadow on his bed. I looked to see whether my eyes were not playing tricks on me, but it was there. A long black shadow. Then toward December, the husband of our Cook died. Oh! It came for him, I thought. The shadow disappeared for a while. Then it was back.

The week before the accident happened, I told him about the black shadow. “I thought it was for you, but then, it was for the Cook’s husband,” I explained. I didn’t tell him the black shadow had come back.

He just looked at me blankly, not knowing what to tell me, how to react. Now, six months after his death, I somehow think he wanted to tell me that he, too, had premonitions.

After Ralph died, I came across his diary. He had dreamt that we– he, I and the driver– were driving up a mountain slope in Italy. Then he saw the sea, so resplendent and so beautiful. He shouted for me to look. The driver was distracted, and our car fell into a ravine.

The trees in the ravine broke our fall. We were able to get out of the car.

” Let us break up here. I will go-ahead to the Hotel. Meet me there.”

He said that when he reached the top of the hill, he saw some women looking out into the sea. They were just gazing out, not speaking to each other. He thought,

“Are they meditating? Why are not talking? Am I dead?”

Then a cherub went to kiss his face. He knew he was in heaven. That he had died.

Ralph had been heavily into meditation. He was able to do out-of-body experiences. He could see the aura of a person. When Mom was dying, he told me, “They are coming for her. The room is all lit up with the tunnel at the end.” He told Mom, “Mom, just follow the light. Go to the light.”

But at that point, my sisters had just left to go to Boracay for a two-night holiday. I called them on the phone, “They are coming for her. Go home!!!” But they had just arrived there, and it would be the next day when the next flight home could take place. When I returned to the room where Mom lay, Ralph said, “She did not go with them. They have left. The light is gone.”

My sisters called the next day. I was still groggy. They asked if they should go home. I said the nurse didn’t call, so they might as well enjoy the day and return the next day.

The next day, Mom waited for them. They arrived at 6 p.m., and after they left at 10 p.m., she expired.

She finally followed the light.


September 14, 2021



Martin Carreon, the Ralph’s grandfather, was an influential man during his lifetime. He was a Councilor in the government of the City of Baguio.  He was also the Secretary of Mayor Eusebius “Jay” Halsema.  Mayor Halsema was an American Engineer, the fifth and last American Mayor who was instrumental in creating Baguio what it is today.   The Carreons would have owned a lot of properties strategically located in Baguio, had the World War II not have occurred.  Martin and his wife were part of the seventeen people who were massacred by the Japanese, just before the Japanese surrendered to the Americans in 1945.

Martin had four children:  Victor, Cornelio, Marcella and Celerina.  The Carreons were tall and good-looking.


Celerina’s first husband, Pedro Anastacio, disappeared and was suspected to have also died during the World War II. He left for Nueva Ecija when the War started, and was never heard of since.    

 They were brought to Irisan, on the outskirts of Baguio.  The Japanese pretended to free them.  When they started to run to safety, they were shot. Some of them fell on a hole that was dug out for them.  

 At that time, Celerina was pregnant with Judy. She was carried her small son Herminigildo  across her chest when the shots rang out,  Herminigildo was the one who took the shots.  Blood splattered all over Celerina.  She played dead when the Japanese checked to see if they were still alive. Celerina bore many sharpnel wounds in her arms. Until her death, the scars remained to remind her of this horrible period.

Their other daughter, Evelyn, died in Isabela because there were no medicines during the war.


Cornelio was born in Baguio City.  He went to study Agriculture in UP, but he did not finish college. He became a  diamond driller foreman. He was assigned to Cebu during his mining activities. There he met his wife, Liling Trocio.  They met during a dance, and he was taken by her.  They got married and moved to Baguio.  They had three children– Nestor, Vilma, and Manuel.

 World War II erupted.  Because there were more crops to eat in Isabela, they moved to Baguio.

 Then Cornelio was assigned to Surigao in 1948.  He was working for Surigao Consolidated Mining Company.  He left Nestor and Vilma in Baguio, and only brought Manny with his wife and himself. Nestor and Vilma studied in Baguio until they finished High School. Manny studied there until Grade 5.

 After that, Cornelio went to Zamboanga, also with the same company. Manny went to Baguio for his High School.  He was in Zamboanga only for his Grade 6.

 Cornelio moved to Manila when Manny was going to College.  By this time, Vilma was working in Cebu as a dentist. Nestor worked in the mines.

 Cornelio retired and died in Manila after suffering a fall which cracked his head. He was 72 when he fell, but lived for another ten years when he died.

 Manny remembers that Cornelio was a model father.  He was pikon, meaning he didn’t take losses.  One time, when Manny and Coning were playing chess.  Nestor came by and made side comments regarding the play of Coning.  Coning lost interest in the game, saying, “Alright, you take over if you know so well the moves.”

 Vilma was tall like the Carreon family. She took up Dentistry in Manila as her profession.  When she married Victor Mamawag, who was in the military, she moved to Cagayan de Oro, in Mindanao. Vilma and Victor had three children:  Wilbur, Marsha and Vivien. Victor died within a few years after Vilma.  He died of liver ailment.

She died of liver ailment, just like her brother.

Nestor was the eldest son of Cornelio. He grew up with Ralph in Baguio until he finished high school. Then he followed his father’s footsteps and worked in the mines.  He went to Marinduque.

During his last home leave, Nestor took effort to visit his two Aunts, Celing and Marcella, who lived in Baguio.  He brought them flowers and kakanin,  a native delicacy made of glutinous rice, coconut milk and brown sugar.  He spent a day with them.

Nestor reached Marinduque at a late hour when his choice was either to spend overnight in the Pier, or take a ride home.  There was a jeep that was already full when Nestor arrived.  Nestor told the driver that he will hold on to the rail of the jeepney, outside the jeep and next to the driver. As the driver sped away, Nestor fell from the jeep and was run over by the next jeep.  He left a wife, Julie, and six children.


            Ralph’s father came from Kawit, Cavite, south of Manila.  His grandparents were Simplicio Diaz and Timotea Cachuela.

Simplicio was a blacksmith, a “PANDAY“, a job that was common in Cavite. He crafted  the metal shoes of horses. Fashioned pots and pans, blades of knives. Being a “Panday” was a backbreaking job.  It was a sunrise-to-sunset kind of a job.   Simplicio became a hunchback due to the hard labor and his working on metals.

Simplicio built a work area adjacent to their house.  It was a small room covered with a nipa roof. The nipa roofing protected the fire from getting wet during the rainy season. The fire was necessary to shape and heat the metal objects. The soil around the work area was black. The metals and the soot from the fire resulted in a black soil.

Simplicio’s wife, Timotea Cachuela, came from a big family of eight.  They were so poor they were scattered all over the country.

Timotea  was fair-skinned, Chinese-looking. She was beloved by all her grandchildren.  Whenever they visited her, she would prepare special food for them.  They loved her “burong mangga“, or fermented mango, because it was already mushy (and tasty).  They would pair this buro with boiled dishes, called “nilaga“. Before they left for home, she would make adobong shellfish, fresh from the sea.  The children all loved Timotea. They visited Kawit regularly until the grandparents died. This was around the time when Jerry was five years old.

Simplicio and his wife, Timotea Cachuela, had six children:  Ambrosio, Carmen, Ceferino, Clinio, Jose, and Vito. 

Since Ambrosio was the eldest child, it was natural for him to inherit his father’s craft.  Ambrosio became the “Panday” of the family. The other siblings had to leave Kawit  to find work elsewhere.  Ceferino became a dentist, and Clinio and Vito became educators. 

Vito used to teach Math, Physics, Geometry at the National University in Manila. While there, Vito met an American teacher, who invited Vito  to Tuguegarao to open schools there. The American and Vito  stayed at the house of a certain Victoria dela Cruz  married to Herminiano Villaflor.  Vito married their daughter, Laura. Laura taught High School without finishing any college degree.  But she finished her college degree when her children were already grown up.

Clinio  became the Principal of the Torres High School in Manila.

Jose was undecided as to what course to take. Fate made the decision for him when his brother Ceferino, who was a successful dentist, suddenly died. The family decided to let Jose inherit all Ceferino’s dental chair and dental tools.  Jose was the father of Ralph.



Marcella Carreon was born in Baguio City.  Her family lived in Campo Pilipino.  I had glimpses of her life when she would tell me snippets of her life.  She told me that her father was very strict with her. This was normal during those times when young boys would not be allowed to freely mix with young girls their age.  Marcella was a very attractive girl, and had several suitors.  They would walk her home until the corner before their house.  Then she would shoo them away, for fear that her father would see them. So the youth would turn back, and Marcella would get home safely.

 She met her husband, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, when she was teaching in Tacloban, Leyte. At the beginning, she didn’t accept his suit.  He was much too quiet for her.

Then a few years later, they met each other again.  This time it was in another province.  Both were still single, and Pepe was still pressing his suit.  So Marcella decided that this was her fate—to marry Pepe. 

The couple had their ups and downs.  Looking back, Marcella remembers that Pepe was very patient with her. When she was displeased with him, Pepe would just leave her alone for as long as it needed for her to cool down. Then after a spell, he would go near her and ask her if she was still angry with him.  At that point, she would have forgotten her anger.

            For a brief period, Pepe and Marcella had a happy normal life surrounded by their brothers and sisters, and loved ones.  Since Pepe’s brother Vito now lived in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Pepe and Marcella decided to move to Isabela.   Isabela had also more food than Baguio.

 Marcela taught in Ilagan High School.  Pepe ran  a clinic in Isabela. At that time, the government had offered to give lands as “Homesteads” to people who would till them.  Marcella got money from her being a teacher to buy a 20 hectare rice land.

            Marcela’s sister Liling was with Marcela in the farm because her husband, Cornelio, was in Mindanao. Ralph was happy because his cousins, Nestor and Vilma, the children of Liling,  were also them. It was a good time. Later, when Marcela left Isabela, Liling took over 


World War II interrupted their serene lives. Since war was going on, no production of food could take place.  Marcella moved from Isabela, then to Baguio.  Her husband, Pepe, had become sick with tuberculosis.  His condition was getting worse.  So they moved to Kawit.  But there was even less food there than there was in Baguio.

In Kawit, while the US planes were doing their “carpet bombing”, Ralph, who was then five years old, was holding his Uncle’s hand, seeking for shelter.  They found a building that they could hide in.  However, a pot fell.  The Uncle said, “Let us leave this place.” They had just barely left when the building exploded into bits. 

The pair zigzagged looking for a safe place.  Two other buildings were bombed.  Ralph and his Uncle were able to reach his grandmother’s house safely.

Pepe passed away in Kawit. Ralph was then six years old and Jerry, was only two weeks old. To this date, everyone remembers six-year old Ralph standing near his father’s casket pulling his mother’s skirt, asking “Why is Dad inside the box?” There was not one dry eye in the room, as they watched this poignant scene.

In Baguio, Marcella’s parents were massacred by the Japanese almost close to the end of the War. They were a group of seventeen people, that included Marcella’s sister, Ciling and her two children.  The group was herded to Irisan, at the outskirts of Baguio.  The Japanese pretended to free them.  When they started to run to safety, they were shot. Some of them fell into a hole that was already dug out to receive them.  

Ciling was then pregnant with Judy. She was carrying her small son, Herminigildo close to her breast.  Herminigildo was the one who took the shots.  Blood splattered all over Ciling.  She played dead when the Japanese checked them. Ciling bore many sharpnel wounds in her arms. Until her death fifty years later, she would show the scars and retell her story.

After the war, Marcella and her two children moved back to their ancestral home in Campo Filipino.  Somebody had already put a structure in the lot.  This being the war, both families needed a shelter above their heads.  The two families mutually agreed that the Diaz family be given a room in this stranger’s house. In exchange, the Marcela would allow them to stay on the lot until they found another place to move to.   It was a strange arrangement, but at that time, there was no other choice for both families.

Note: This story ends in 1940. It is now 2021, eighty years from when it ended. Most everyone that is in the story have gone to the other world, Ralph included. I will search for other stories and put them here, for posterity.


December 25, 2020

We were lucky to have so much land, more than we could ever use. But Martial Law took it all away, leaving but the residential lands that had people living in it. That was in 1972. It really hurt my parents to have become landless at the stroke of the pen of PD 27 by Ferdinand Marcos.

Forty eight years later, I find myself selling these lots to the persons who now live in it.

I went to the site where they lived. I told them that, should they pay in full before the end of December, they would have their lots at the lowest cost they can imagine.

Here they came, in droves. I had to sit down with each of them to ask their names, and get the amount that they would pay me. They borrowed from one of their neighbors, who worked at a major bank, and she gave them a reasonable interest where they could lock their ownership to the land they lived in, at the price unimaginable.

I took my camera for this photo op. I had to get mileage from this almost charitable act of giving away the land. I knew it was important for them to have their own home.

I came back another day when some other persons wanted to pay. You can tell that I was wearing another dress, the pink blouse, and I looked and felt very tired and sleepy. There were several of those who paid, but this couple in the photo with me insisted that their photos also be taken, to mark this really important day of their lives: the day when they would stop being squatters and become honorable owners of their own piece of this earth.

I really understood the magnitude of this day. I am lucky to be able to hellp someone have their own home.


April 20, 2020

I was born during the period they called “the Liberation”. America had just given the Philippines its independence. There was celebration everywhere. In the midst of this, my baptismal party took place. I still have in my possession, a hundred dollar bill given to me by an American guest where he wished happiness for me.

It is April 20, 2020, a day before my seventy-fifth birthday. The whole country is under a lockdown, since the whole world is fighting a war against an invisible enemy, the corona virus disease 2019 or Covid-19 for short. We are under war conditions once again. There are no bullets flying, but there are deaths, many deaths. Everyone is advised to stay inside their homes, specially the elderly, whom they define as over 60 years. They assume that their bodies are more frail and will more easily succumb to death and disease. Do I feel frail? Do I think I am “elderly”? I haven’t looked at the mirror as often as I used to. There is no need to put on make-up, since there is no one who will come to see me. Oh, I need to look at the mirror when I put my eyedrops. The opthalmologist says my cornea has thinned, and should be kept moisturized to make sure I don’t get glaucoma. Yes, there is an indication of some deterioration of the body right there. I can walk and dance. But when I climb up and down the stairs, I need to hold on to the bannister because my knees cannot carry my weight. Okay, accept it: elderly.

I stay in this upscale community, where each house costs around $300,000. That’s not much by international standards, but by my country’s standards where the per capita annual income is around $3,500, that is high. The subdivision lies on 350 hectares of land, and right now there are only 350 houses built on it. During this time of quarantine, we only have 30 residents who have chosen to stay. We have the beach and pools and a golf course. Every day the sunsets warm ones heart with its beauty. Need I say more?

By myself, I wouldn’t have opted to buy a property and stay here. I am a simple person and have, in my opinion, few needs. But circumstances led my husband and myself to come here. Then he left me, leaving me alone in this big house.

Before this lockdown, my eldest daughter asked me to make a “Living Will”. I spelled out to her it that wouldn’t be necessary to prolong my life if it would just make me unable to continue using my basic faculties. I told her, “I have had a good life, and I’m ready to go.”

She repeated what I said, “You have had a good life, and you’re ready to go.” I answered in the affirmative. “Yes, I’m ready to go.”

What are the basic things that have made my life “good” in my assessment? Top in my list was having an ideal husband. He was intelligent, kind, generous, and good looking. We were together for forty years. There was nothing that I wanted that he didn’t get for me. Never raised his voice, never lost his temper even if he wanted to. Pure heaven…

Second goes to having a good set of kids. After high school, they left my house. Our motto was, “Whatever problems you will have, we won’t be able to help you.” Basically the reason behind this is that we, their parents, wouldn’t have a good grasp of what was going on in their lives, the surrounding circumstances that are giving rise to their problem. This is because we would be far away from them. We always assumed after they left for college, they were on their own. So this has its good and bad points. We don’t have those happy family reunions you see on sitcoms. They have grown up to be their own persons, strangers, to be frank. One time, middle son Jun said to me, “You don’t know me anymore.” He saw that, in my mind, he was still the happy boy that made everyone laugh. I didn’t know that he had made a name for himself, successful in his line of work in film.

The children have their ups and downs in their lives and their careers. But having had a solid family background and a good education, I can see they will weather whatever storms will come to shake their lives a bit.

The third factor was a happy childhood. My parents were serious professionals. They supported each other in major decisions. They made good investments that proved useful in giving them, and now, us, a comfortable life. They came from the same background, from the same town. They even lived two houses away from each other shared a set of first cousins. There were a few surprises in their lives, but in their minds, they were one with each other. My father, before he died, said to me, “Promise you will take care of your mother, and be nice to her.”

I still have, in my assessment, twenty more years to live. My grandmother died when she was 110 years old. My mother died when she was 95. So perhaps, when I write again in five years, I will keep you updated on health issues which will be more pronounced. Meanwhile, I have to keep healthy. Exercise and diet. Thank God for these years. They were indeed happy.


January 23, 2019

She looked at me.  She was still beautiful at 74. She had less wrinkles than I, the same fragile beauty that would make a man feel protective over her. We were classmates from Kindergarten. She lived a few blocks away from us.

“We had a big lot, 800 square meters, along Roces Avenue.  It was an orchard.  We had a lot of fruit trees.  We had pomelos. That is what I miss about my life now.  I have no space for a garden.  I live in a condominium in Makati, but I miss having plants around me.

“ We sold our house along Roces Avenue for an hoity-toity place in Greenhills.  It was the place to be at that time for rich people.  Then my father died, my two siblings moved to the States.  After a while, they wanted to have money so we sold it, and my mother and I moved to Makati.  When she died, my daughter and I moved to a small condo at the Residences on Greenbelt. It is a convenient place, but there is no garden.”

I looked at my own condition.  My parents had also died, and now my siblings want to demolish our house to make another modern house.  I have another house in an upscale residential subdivision north of  Manila. I plan to move to a small unit in the commercial building that I inherited. It would be hard to return to the “new house” after I had all my belongings.

Then she talked about being alone.  Her husband died 40 years ago. He had just graduated from the prestigious Philippine Military Academy, and he was sent to the war-torn area in Mindanao, where the young graduates had no knowledge of the war terrain that they were brought to.

“ I saw a young man with a badge “Special Forces” brazened along his chest.  Immediately I went to him and said,

“Never betray your country. Don’t let my husband die in vain. Love your country and be true to it.”

She went on, and this conversation touched my heart.

“I still cry when I think of him. I know he is still with me. After he died, he came to me, faceless, but I knew it was him.  He kissed my lips and embraced my whole body with pressure.”

“I could have married someone else after him.  I was so young, I was only 27 years old.  But I couldn’t divide my attention between my only child and my new husband.”

“It is not sex, but you really want to share your life with someone. There are some times when you can’t talk about something with anyone including your child, and there is no one.”

I looked at my own life.  A beautiful house far away from Manila.  A virtual paradise. But I am alone all the time.  My children dutifully try to spend time with me by visiting me one week a year. I spend all my hours alone with my computer.  I talk to my computer all day and until I go to sleep.  Well, I do exercises and entertain myself with retail therapy, but that’s only a small portion of my day.  I go to my Office for one hour a week to sign checks.  But that’s all. I communicate with my Office via my computer and over the phone.  Well, that will change when I move to the building where the Office is located. I wonder how they feel about that. Me breathing down their neck.

I look at my neighbors who are more advanced in age then me.  Two of them are in wheelchairs or home bound.  They cannot afford to have maids, so one child is assigned to watch them, a different child a day, even if they have regular work. That would be a laugh, to have one child sacrifice his/her life to watch me.  They would probably put poison in my drink the first hour they have with me, so as to end this chore.

I have to think of what I should do NOW to have a better 80 years old.







November 27, 2018

I saw myself in her.  She was trying to help me prolong my life.

“You have to walk 8,000 steps a day…  You have to cut on your sugar.  No chocolates.” And so on…

Fifteen years ago, I tried to prolong my Dad’s life.  A doctor came to visit him at home upon my request. It was August 2003.

“Oh, you have to put a peg in his stomach.  He is not eating enough.  He will die before your sisters come for their Christmas holidays if he does not get enough nutrients.  And the only way to do that was to put a peg.”

So I vaguely told Dad that we will put a peg in his stomach.  Dad was a doctor himself, so I assumed he understood. I checked him into a hospital after he got his cardiac clearance. He was so trusting, he cooperated fully.

After the hospital, he suffered gas pain, which was normal when they put a hole from your intestines through your skin.

“Why did you have to do it?” he asked me.

I told him I wanted him to live longer.  We both loved each other, but he KNEW that he was dying and it was an unnecessary operation to prolong his life.

He probably suffered through the first weeks, but he didn’t show it.  I don’t remember now if he showed any marked improvement. His skin was still transparent, and his weight gain was minimal.

After three months, after breakfast, I went to say good morning to him.  He seemed in good spirits.  The nurse reported that he sang “Happy birthday” to my mother as soon as she woke up.  Her birthday was still another month away.

“My birthday is still a month away,” my mother chided him for not remembering.

He continued singing.  As I turned to go up to my room, he stopped me.  He grasped my arm.

“Don’t leave me,” he pleaded.  “I’m dying.” he said softly.

“Dad, you’ve been telling me that you’re dying ever since I was three years old.  I will just finish some letters, and will return.” I said, hopefully gently, and pushed away his hand.

I went up to my computer.  Barely 30 minutes had passed, when the nurse told me,

Ate,  wala na siya. Wala na si Daddy.”  (He is gone.  Daddy is gone.)

I rushed downstairs, and he was unconscious.  I immediately called the driver, and the nurse and he carried Dad’s body into the car.

We went to the Emergency Room, but 30 minutes and a lot of injections failed to revive him.

The peg didn’t help.  Dad still died before Christmas.  It was November 24, 2003.

Now I see it again in her face.  “Don’t die too soon,” she seemed to say.

I know for a fact that, no matter what we do, when our time is up, no amount of food nutrients and exercise can ward off death.  But I will do what I can do to keep healthy until that moment when death calls.



November 4, 2018

I hired four temporary workers yesterday. Our farm is trying to do too much. The Department of Agriculture is coming on Tuesday. We have to fill all their requirements. The only solution is to hire more people to do the work before they come.

I took in four pople yesterday: a welder and a laborer to set up the map of the farm, and two cleaners to tidy up all the leaves around the farm.

This mornimg, I came in late. I decided that the four new people at the farm could do the job so I could join the yoga class of my friend.

As I parked my car in the Farm, I saw the two workers making good time in welding the structure to hold up the map. Good. I saw the other two cleaners helping Steve to cook the mushroom chicharon. Oh! He probably needed help to process the mushrooms.

When they saw me, they put away what they were doing and started to walk toward me. “They” were a man and a woman. Cleaners.

I looked at them as we were almost in front of each other.They both wore hoods to cover their head and mouth. Their hood and clothes were a light shade of grey. I didn’t look closely at the taller guy at the back. I just looked at the “woman” in front. She didn’t greet me nor smile at me. I thought “she” looked like the man rather than the woman cleaner.

A few meters later, I passed by the woman. She was wearing a dark blue shirt. So that shorter figure I passed by was indeed the man who cleaned.

I greeted Steve.

“So you got another worker.!”

He was puzzled.

“No, I didn’t,” he answered.

This time I saw the woman cleaner again. She was wearing a printed red blouse with a plain blue back. Okay, that was close to the plain blue shirt I thought I saw her wearing.

I had to leave the farm again. Some friends were coming, and i had to hear Mass.

After my friends left, I saw the man cleaner. He did have a grey hood over his head. But his shirt was a deep wine red with a silver cross across the chest area.

So what is going on? Why did I see two tall men in white both wearing light grey hoods?

Who was the other tall man with the male cleaner? Was it Ralph?


February 20, 2018

We traveled higher into the mountains. We were going to Munnar Wildlife Sanctuary.

We passed by a waterfall as we went up.falls (c)

After a few hours, we reached what looked like the entrance of the Camp.

Office disaster mgmt center

The sign of the building said “Disaster Management Center”, but it looked like a welcoming building to me. We had come a long way to think of disasters at this point.

Man & monkey

We passed by a white haired young man sitting at the side. Just a few feet away sat an equally bored monkey, also white haired.

things to do

A sign showed that there were a lot of things to do in this mountain.

We checked into our Camp. There were others who were there, but it was a small camp.

After leaving our things in our rooms, we decided to do what we were expected to do:  look for game.  This was going to be exciting, if we will be successful.  The roads were very narrow, a cemented road good enough for two jeepneys.  We passed a jeep with people looking for game.  Our guide has been here many times.  From my Kenya experience, you had to look for the watering holes if you wanted to spot animals. Animals always went there to drink and bathe.


We were excited to see our first deer.  Then another with his family. Then another. Pictured above was my favorite shot: a deer with antlers, and gorgeous spotted smooth skin. A lemur shot up a tree, but he was too fast for my camera to catch it.   We drove on.  A peacock! It had a bright blue head with a crown, black-and-white wings, and a green tail.   When it fluffed out the feathers, the peacock was a sight to behold.


We went on to see more animals.  Would we ever get to see an elephant?  Just when the sun was slowly going down, an elephant appeared from our left!  We got out our cameras ready and started shooting this video.

We were so happy to have been able to catch an elephant up close.  In a few minutes, more elephants appeared, all eager to get to the watering hole that was across the street from where our jeep lay.  The guide was happy that his customers were happy. It was worth all the trip up the mountain! You can tell that I was taking a video, since you can see my green jade bracelet taking the video. But my camera wouldn’t save it to my directory because my storage was too small.

The guide and my companions decided to have a celebration dinner!  We were going to have roasted chicken with beer, in addition to the usual rice and condiments.  They put out a bonfire in front of our rooms, but I stayed inside my room, worried about dengue and similar sicknesses.  My hosts couldn’t understand why I was so worried about getting bitten by a mosquito.  But they accepted my explanation that “local mosquitoes” would probably be thrilled to bite an “imported” blood.  So I should keep inside where there were less mosquitoes who will target my unusual blood. Honestly, the locals just ignored the mosquitoes. I saw the pests everywhere: in the city hotels, in the rural hotels, in the camp.  But you could tell that the mosquitoes in India did not feel threatened by the locals. They were easy to kill.  The mosquitoes that lived with people who killed them instantly on sight, usually were quick to evade being killed.

When we left the camp, we went to a building that showed a lot of things that the Munnar Sanctuary wanted to do:  preserve the cultures of the two tribes who were there, provide skills to the tribesmen so that they could be economically capable in the fast modernizing world, and for the tourists, to show the archeological heritage of this part of India.  Ecotourism was the key word.

%d bloggers like this: