Christmas Without Nengkoy

Last Christmas, like any other Christmases in the past, I woke up late.  I have always considered Christmas Day as my laziest day of the year.  If there would be a day that I would give myself as a gift, it would obviously be the Christmas Day.  It is the day when I would spend inside my bedroom all day – relaxing, slackening and lazy-ing (if the latter is a word).

Part of my respite was to just watch YouTube videos all day and peek at what my social media friends have been posting.  Surprisingly, the first YouTube video that I watched last Christmas made me sob and whimper.

2021 is the first Christmas without Nengkoy, my mom.  That is why my family’s Christmas Eve dinner was totally different for the first time.  Absent was the star of our traditional Noche Buena.  Though the Christmas food was really good, the Nengkoy-flavor was not there which I guess I would have to get used to in the next Christmases to come.

me & nengkoy (my forever star of Noche Buena), christmas 2019

The song is so moving, it made me miss my mother this Christmas.  And though my mom will never be forgotten – she’s part and will always be part of my daily prayer – I guess I need to simply just get used to this kind of a Christmas set-up.

A Businesswoman, a Banker, a College Professor & an IT Manager

This is what happens when a businesswoman, a banker, an IT Manager and a college professor who’s a candidate for PhD do a Christmas dance number.

They call their group, The Wrong Direction (gleaned & predicated from the British group One Direction). And every year, when they are about to end their wacky performance they would shout and ask us, the spectators, “Mabuhay Manila, do you want more!?”.  And every year all of us, their dazed & confused audience, in unison would scream the biggest “NOooo!!”.

Gabby, the IT Manager! He was judged the best performer this year.  Haha!

Holding a talent contest and performing in front of my family during Christmas Eve has been a tradition.   They won the Grand Prize this year amounting to 60 USD.  So, can you just imagine how bad the other groups (my other family members) performed? 

They claim that they won because they were so in unison and perfectly danced like the Korean pop group BTS.  Why did they win?  It was because I was the judge.  Haha!  These businesswoman, banker, college professor and IT manager are my crazy niece & nephews by the way.  One good thing though, they are not working for one company.  After their crazy performance, I had a headache.

Embracing My Beautiful B Day!

My long birthday week has finally been concluded!  My digestive system can finally go back to its usual routine.  Haha!  And despite a protracted pandemic year, let me brag that there are actually two major highlights in my birthday celebration this year.

love this photo!

who wouldn’t do some artsy pictorial in this mansion when the background is the smallest volcano on the planet (taal volcano)?

Organized by my sweet nephews and nieces, I and my whole family spent a wonderful weekend in a mansion of a house in cool & misty Tagaytay province, a high-altitude city 59 kilometers away from the bustling Manila.

Second highlight was the sumptuous dinner buffet in 5-star Sofitel Manila, considered to have the priciest and longest buffet in the country.  My whole family was of course in attendance in this wonderful dinner.

sofitel dinner

I guess I have gone really old and already accepted this fact.  In the past years I tremble and experience anxiety attacks when I know that my birthday is about to come and I actually abhor celebrating it.   I hated getting old.  Haha!  

But this year, I decided to embrace this beautiful day.  I have accepted the fact that I have already lost my youth and the remaining years should be more about the essence of living.  And adopting the thoughts of Mark Twain regarding birthdays and old age, let me end this post by relaying what he said, “Age is a case of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

You’ll Gonna See Me Rise!

It’s my birthday week this week and it made me ponder if at my pretty old age I have been “successful”.  But while ruminating about this thought, I question “what is the actual measure of success?”  Is it the accumulated amount of money that you have in your bank account, is it the number of people you meet and developed as friends and colleagues, is it the intensity of one’s joy and happiness, is it the level of spirituality of one’s soul or is it simply the degree of one’s contentment about life.

you’ll gonna see me rise

I have lost my youth more than 20 years ago yet I still struggle to answer this question.  A lot of you I would assume would say that it is a mix of all these stuff that I mentioned.  And I am pretty sure that I will grow old, be outdated and senile yet will never be able to answer this profound question.  But this will not stop me from trying to reach my goals, dreams and aspirations so as to consider myself successful.  No matter how old and late I am in my life, I will not stop for I know that I will rise.

No silly wish this year but let me have a beautiful birthday song instead.  Created by Calum Scott entitled “Rise” is my Birthday Song this year.

Love you all!

Unquantifiable Love

Sixty long years ago a proof of an unquantifiable love was perched.  Sixty long years ago my parents, Nengkoy & Joe got married inside a church.

Nengkoy & Joe sixty years ago.  Happy anniversary Nanay & Tatay!

Today, I realized that my big moments, my little talks and even my silly laughs in the past with Nengkoy & Joe were all unquantifiably special.  I terribly miss both of them.  But June 9 this year is more than special.  It is because it is the first year that this gorgeous couple are celebrating their wedding anniversary together in a stunningly beautiful place called Heaven. 

Nengkoy & Joe may no longer be here but knowing that they are finally together gives me peace.  Nengkoy & Joe may no longer be here but they were my proofs that unquantifiable love does exist.  Nengkoy & Joe may no longer be here yet my unquantifiable love for these two beautiful souls will forever persist. 

Sizzling Hot Covid19 Vaccine

My post Covid19 pandemic started yesterday.  When me and my sister (being registered under our local government’s waiting list) were told that an available vaccine is available, we immediately drove up to the designated vaccination site.

Though it is sad to note that majority of my country’s populace still doubts the significance and efficacy of the vaccine, such popular yet imprudent viewpoint became advantageous on my part for getting the vaccine. 

If you’re reading this article and wonder why such meek and lowly event of getting my first jab seem such a big deal on my part, please understand that my poor unregimented country has very limited supply of the vaccine.  It is because my country at this late point in time only depends on the United Nation’s donations as well as the dole-outs sent to us by rich countries because they either have surplus of the vaccines or that their country already achieved the so-called herd immunity.

So how did my first vaccination affair went? Answer: It was hilarious, uneasy and at the same time a little nerve-wracking.  It was nerve-wracking because I hate injections! It was uneasy because the vaccination site was at an open-air public place.  With no air-conditioning and with the scorching humid heat index of 42 degrees Celsius (no thanks to climate change), me and my sister were soaked wet in our very own sweat! 

Good thing there were very few people at the venue, our papers were right away processed.   And after we were injected, the hilarious thing that happened is that both me and my sister were told to stay a little longer because both our blood pressures were shooting up! And when asked if I take medicine for high blood pressure, I answered yes.  When asked what medicine, instead of telling the name of the drug (Losartan), I uttered the name of a popular French bakeshop here in Manila (Lartizan)! LOL!

took a photo of my covid19 vaccine passport while waiting for my boiling blood pressure to ease down! beside it is my sister’s japanese fan.  underneath is a mini-towel to wipe off my super sweat!

With pocket-sized feelings of worry, me and my sister laughed instead after realizing that we were the only two who were asked to stay longer.  My sister even verbalized to the medical team present that who on earth would have a normal blood pressure at such a torrid and scorching temperature?!  After taking our blood pressure three times at an interval of every 15 minutes, both of us were finally released and discharged by the nurses.

I went home nauseous not because of the vaccine but because of the sizzling weather. I too was craving for Lartizan! 

I’m Pretty Sure Nengkoy Is Smiling

It is exactly one month today and the weeks before that was the darkest, saddest and most sorrowful period of my life.  I never imagined that the circumstances of those fretful, flustered and worrisome weeks could be felt and experienced by a human being.  I was helpless, unhappy and perturbed.  Exactly one month today was when my beautiful, charming and loving mother passed away.

This is the reason that I have suspended my posting on this blog.  It is in fact taking me a lot of guts and audacity right now in trying to write and finish this post.  There was even a period in the past weeks that I have decided to end and cease posting writeups on this blog (named after my mom’s endearing nickname, Nengkoy).  But my mother for sure would not want that.

Nengkoy: March 03, 1937 – April 16, 2021

I decided to resume writing because I know I’ve got lots of beautiful stories to tell especially tales and snippets on how lovely and delightful a human being my mother was.  I know that my simple quiet life will never be the same now that my mom is gone.  But I will try my very best to adapt and get by in this new life’s setup.

I know that my mom is watching and got the best view up there in heaven.  And I am pretty sure that she is smiling now that I have resumed my silly writing.

Sleeping Under The Stars

A couple of nights ago before going to sleep, I opt to step out of my balcony so as to decide whether to shut my windows close and turn on the AC or leave the balcony door and windows open since its tranquil and nippy.

And while gazing at the night sky I was thrilled to see multiple stars in the heavens.

too sad my camera couldn’t capture it

It dawned in me that it has been more than a year that I haven’t seen those stars hanging from the sky.  It was beautiful.  Seeing stars in the metro sky has been so rare.  It has gone so infrequent that metropolitan folks have started to link seeing night time stars as positive signs from the heavens that their longings will soon be granted.  No thanks to the smog and pollution of the concrete jungle.

I decided not to link seeing stars to the multiple wishes that I have.  I simply smiled and enjoyed the site.  And while stepping inside, I opted to keep the balcony door and windows open.  When I closed my eyes, I realized that sleeping under the stars is a perfect way to end the night.

My Ash Wednesday 2021 Version

I am a Catholic and last year I had one of the weirdest and rarest observance of Palm Sunday.  The country was already on a strict lockdown due to covid19 and I had to contend myself from hearing the Holy Mass in front of a TV.  And since no one was allowed to go out then, the “palm” that I used was actually an outgrowth of a vine that I plucked from the few pots of plants in my balcony.

attended palm sunday in the comforts of my home as celebrated by the pope last april 2020

palaspas! (that is how we call palm sunday in filipino)

Today is Ash Wednesday.  In the Catholic tradition Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten period.  It is the season of repentance and reflection.  It is also marked by a Holy Mass in which priests or church leaders will make the sign of the cross out of paste made of ash and sacramental oil on the foreheads of the congregants.  Part of this tradition is that ashes are made from the palm fronds that have been burned from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.

Since I was lucky enough to have kept the fronds (dried leaves and vine) that I used in last year’s Palm Sunday and because I refuse to go to church due to the crazy scary pandemic, I decided to do my own observance of Ash Wednesday.

Part of my creating my own ash for the celebration of this special day is the symbolic burning of my sins.  I decided to write down on a piece of paper my confessions and burn it at the same time with that of my last year’s Palm Sunday fronds. 

With the thought in mind that “for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return”, instead of placing the formed ash on my forehead, I decided to return the ashes to earth.  I alternatively add the formed ashes into the soil of my plants as a symbol new life with the hopes of a rosy spring for the rest of the year.

glad to have kept that fronds for today’s observance…

I know that my ceremonial version of this day is a total deviation on how a Catholic Ash Wednesday should be observed.  But honestly, while doing what I was doing, I felt free, I felt light and I felt at peace.  And I guess that is what matters on this holy day of Ash Wednesday.