Saturday, March 26, 2011

Balikbayan Bruises

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I espied a peculiar sight. A series of bruises was beginning to develop on my right thigh - emerging newly like juvenile volcanic islands after a major tectonic incident.

Somehow I expected them to be there, but the actual sight itself was still an occasion for wonder, especially since my skin is as thick as a carabao's, and very rarely ever shows signs of maltreatment or mishandling. But lo and behold, it looks like I have succumbed to an acute case of:

Balikbayan bruising. A type of relatively minor haematoma of tissue caused by internal bleeding into the interstitial tissues, usually initiated by blunt trauma, which causes damage through physical compression and deceleration forces. Trauma sufficient to cause balikbayan bruising occurs from a wide variety of situations including: heavy lifting of overweight suitcases onto weighing scales (and exertion from repacking of excess cargo onto carry-on luggage) prior to baggage check at the airline counter, jostling to get ahead of the airline queue at time of boarding, muscle exertion in storing previously mentioned carry-on luggage (now weighing 90 lbs. or more) in the overhead bin (and subsequently retrieving it upon deplaning). Note that snatching cumbersome suitcases/balikbayan boxes from the baggage carousel does NOT count - for a tip of US$1 (or less, for regional flights), Manila airport personnel would be more than happy to suffer on your behalf.

More on the subject in subsequent ruminations. TTFN!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Another epiphany on footwear

While shoe shopping:

Flats are comfortable, but are hideously unattractive. Heels make me look good, but end up being insufferable after a short time.

There's an analogy in there somewhere.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Back to the Basics

Wow - has it been 2 years since last entry? I should stay in a little more. And write.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What Happened

I got something hilarious this evening just as I was about to leave the Center. Today, I created the possibility of "being Pacquiao" - especially since I was to give a short motivational talk before more than a hundred agents of PruLife UK - of being heroic and a global champion, just like good old Manny. Tonight, I just started laughing out loud at how that had been realized, literally. Bloodied knees, torn garments, left hand out of commission - I look like I just came out of the boxing ring. Then again, Manny emerged from his latest bout unscathed, which is more than I can say for myself. But it was funny, nonetheless.

So here's what happened. I let my guard down a little during a meeting in front of Som's near Rockwell. And opened myself to a one-two of a brazen thief - he walked up, approached our table, and just grabbed what was on it: one, my wallet; two, my personal cell phone and the Center mobile assigned to one of the Course Supervisors I was meeting with. It was so surreal: he just walked up as if he knew us, and I even remember smiling at him, as if to ask him how we could help him - and off he went with his loot, and on his companion's motorcycle. With another motorcycle as back-up.

What happened next was a surprise, even to myself: I immediately gave chase. Footwear flying, running barefoot at top speed on the asphalt pavement, and falling flat on my face like an uncoordinated two-year old learning to walk. Twice. And yet, at one point, even on those bikes, I almost had 'em. Coach Tito (my running coach who I've stood up for many months) would have been proud.

In retrospect, it really wasn't worth the effort - all they took from me was a mobile phone that had seen better days and was very nearly due for replacement (plus it was a Globe phone that was remotely disabled upon my report, take that!), and a wallet that had about PhP3,000 plus $10 and Y100 plus of course credit and ATM cards (all duly cancelled by now) and my driver's license and IDs. In exchange, I sustained damages to my two favorite pieces of clothing - my blouse got ripped at the shoulder, my pants now have holes where the knees used to be. Plus my watch got broken, with the time stopping at the exact time I fell down: 6:54 p.m. My pedicure is ruined. And then there of course is the matter of physical injuries and the accompanying public humiliation (thank goodness I no longer really care about what anyone thinks). I can only fantasize about the charges I could file.

But oddly enough, once I had fully discharged my upset during the whole pursuit (screaming "Magnanakaw! Magnanakaw!" at the top of my lungs and getting the whole neighborhood into the streets had quite the cathartic effect), I then immediately went into handling the cancellation of all accounts that would potentially exacerbate the gravity of the impact - the mobile number and the phone (just in case the thief had the temerity to make some long distance calls on my account), credit card, ATM. Then I attended, with the kind assistance of the people in the Center, to the wounds of battle, and got in communication with the office, the people I had meetings with tomorrow, and my Mom.

Quite a big difference from one of the first times I was similarly "victimized" years ago - when someone broke into my car, stole my stereo and a whole lot of (my best) clothes. At the time I was fuming, murderous, and inconsolable for days. So too when someone keyed my car a few years later, and, even while at the time I already had Christ in my life, I so badly wanted the offender DEAD. Yet today, even though I came face-to-face with the criminal, I still cannot find it in my heart to hate him/them. Yes, I was pissed at the hassle and at why people have to resort to such criminality, but it no longer is personal.

It's not a personal affront against them - I started to think what kind of view of life has people like these thieves decide to take on this kind of life. Do they have children whose hunger is fed by the fruits of their fathers' crimes? Do I stand beside them at Sunday Mass, do they engage in acts of penitence come Holy Week to absolve themselves of their earthly transgressions? Do they get to sleep soundly at night? Do they experience joy in their lives? And would I, given how the world occurs for them and all their experiences, do the same had I seen the world the same way?

It's not a personal affront to me - I just happened to be there at the time, it could have been anyone. I'm not beating myself up for being stupid or less cautious or for whatever was taken from me.

On the drive home (illegal, I should acknowledge, as I had no license on me), I had Don Moen on the CD player. He sang, "forgive our sins, and heal our land...we long to be in Your presence once again." And then I really GOT that part of the Lord's Prayer that says, "forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." I have no right to condemn, or to pass judgment on those who may have "erred" against me. Heaven knows how much I have erred against so many others - and, more importantly, against Him.

In the same manner, I have no right to condemn, or pass judgment against myself. As I forgave and prayed for those who took my stuff, I also forgave myself. And that had me be free, and carry on. Indeed, as one of my favorite Facebook applications aptly puts it: "The degree to which you do not accept life in all of the Divine forms is the degree to which you suffer."

One last thing that has me empowered: what happened, happened to me such that it doesn't have to happen to anyone else. I can see a parallel to that in the faith I have chosen, albeit I went through so much less.

To end with a practical note - keep your valuable belongings close and out of sight, especially in public places like Algier Street where Som's is. Interrupt temptation; be watchful but not suspicious. And don't let any incidents like these lessen your faith in what is possible for us as human beings, for indeed, for anyone who has ever "wronged" us is, essentially, who we are in all our humanity. To paraphrase the old saying, "There go I."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Honey Oliveros... too busy living life rather than blogging about it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Starting All Over Again

No such thing as coincidence: I'm listening to "Starting All Over Again" (the original by Mel and Tim). I don't really subscribe to the drama and "effort" promoted by the lyrics, but the "starting over" part seems to be the theme of my last few days - starting over anew, on a fresh page, unencumbered by the past, that is. This last week has been filled with rediscovery of the wonder of the familiar, beholding Him making all things new (Revelations 21:1-5).

It all began when I took on something I thought I'd never be taking on again - accepting an accountability, in Landmark Education, I used to believe I'd "outgrown" (been there, done that, etc.) That opened up a space for me to take on other things in my life that I'd either given up on, set aside, or had been postponing for "someday, not now."

After 20 years, I'll be singing again onstage for the 25th year celebration of a college production that's grown to epic proportions since our days at the University of the Philippines. I'd relegated myself as a mere spectator and cheerleader after graduation, and I always thought I'd be satisfied back "in the stands." But I found myself stepping up once again, with that good old college performance experience mno longer just filed away in memory but made real. At least this time around, I can stay up at rehearsals without incurring the wrath of the parental units. Heh heh.

Also, after almost a decade of keeping to the sidelines, I've found myself back in the arms of my first love as a lawyer: litigation. Now that I've taken that on again fully, I get what I loved so much about it in the first place: the challenge of preparation and research, the gambit and strategic foresight, the intellectual stimulation and thinking on one's feet. It's what I'm best at, and I now can't even remember why I ever gave it up in the first place!

I'm also back in a personal "game" that I'll share about later - suffice it to say that I'd been in the "gallery" with respect to that area of my life for a good year or so. I didn't want to risk or confront anything that could lead to slightest hint of failure...but that's in the foreground again, and I'm playing full-out, on the court, from here on. Ha, as they say, intentions count for nothing; actions determine the outcome! I've also found that saying "yes" and giving my commitment, without having to think too long and hard about it ("Just do it!"), has opened up so much, so quickly - once I've given my word to something, the question of how I'm going to fulfill on it and make everything else work out becomes - for lack of a better term - incidental, and the challenge is transformed from "daunting" to "exciting."

In other areas, I've also rediscovered my love for cooking as an expression of my love for the people in my life, reestablished my connection with 70's soul music, reconnected with those most important to me, and rekindled old flames that I thought had gone out. Wink, wink.

I've found - and am continuing to find - adventure and newness in the familiar, and I'm loving it. I may be exploring "old" waters, but this time, with a beginner's mind - through which anything is possible. For indeed, I CAN do ALL things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) :-)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Great Barack Hope

I caught the TV coverage of the Democratic National Convention today, and for some strange reason, I found myself in tears. During Bill Clinton's speech, no less. Weird.

So I took a look at why I was uncharacteristically moved, and I now know.

Clinton's magnanimous endorsement of the man, who, just a short while ago, had been fighting tooth-and-nail with the former First Lady for the Democratic nomination for the US Presidential race, was something new and outrageous - for me and my view of the political process, anyway.

I was moved by possibility - this outpouring of love and support for a former rival in a nomination bitterly sought - a possibility I have not ever experienced in the political processes of my own country.

It just goes to show how resigned and cynical I'd become by the political goings-on in the Philippines. My experience of it is that there is no loyalty to party or principle, only to individual interest; and if this had ever happened in the Philippines, Hillary would go on to form her new party and insist on running for President herself, hell or highwater notwithstanding. Which probably explains the proliferation of all of these Philippine political parties - the inevitable result of the phenomenon of a sore loser. Matalo, pikon.

But what if we just stood behind each other to have all of us WIN, instead of jockeying for first place? Now that's a possibility for Philippine politics.

And may I just say that I LIKE Barack Obama. One, for the words that come out of his mouth: words of possibility, not predictability. I think America needs that kind of buoyant spirit...heck, I think many nations, particularly my own, would benefit from that breath of fresh air. Secondly, I remain amazed at the possibility of "altering the conversation" - a conversation that once said that the earth is flat, that women could not vote, that a person of color could never, ever be President of the United States.

I trust that Obama will put his money where his mouth is; and if he does, he would be the shining standard for politicians around the world. The audacity of hope, indeed.

Blessings and Possibilities

I'm writing from the lanai of my sister's new apartment, 26 stories up on Nuuanu Avenue, with the Honolulu harbor in full view. Aloha from Hawaii: I have arrived.

It's been almost six months since my last US trip, pretty much par for the course since I created this lifestyle possibility a couple of years ago - and to think that I'd been putting this off for a number of "convenient" reasons. Now, and especially since I completed reviewing the Landmark Forum last week, I really continue to get that anything is possible, by integrity in one's word and through the grace of God. I've had the opportunity to travel halfway around the world every six months since that particular possibility was created, aside from the shorter Asian and local trips in between. Yet part of the anxiety that overshadowed the excitement of flying off again came mostly from the past - uncomfortable flights, unfounded customs and immigration concerns (would they take my sister's tuyo and taba ng talangka away?), a ridiculous niggling fear that something - any little thing - would go wrong.

None of that happened - talk about the constraints the past imposes on our view of life! I was blessed with impeccable timing (the rains from tropical depression Lawin, which caused monumental traffic jams on the roads, hit Manila only a few minutes after I'd been dropped off at the airport); no heavy lifting of luggage (yay for friendly NAIA porters!); an empty seat beside me on the plane that had me sleep better and gave me easy access to the bathroom; the fastest and friendliest US baggage claim/immigration/customs procedure ever that had me in and out of Honolulu International in 15 minutes (!!). Plus all my other concerns I left behind are complete - the Advanced Course is in the best of hands, last minute law office work handled, personal and professional communications re pending matters communicated and addressed.

Which gave me enough space to indulge in a rare luxury I haven't experienced since leaving Chicago in March - an American cable TV marathon! Sigh. Praise God for His goodness and the miracle of breathers.

Will be getting off the couch and exploring the rest of Oahu tomorrow - and then there's Maui on the weekend! And then mainland US after that. Mahalo Lord, You make all this possible indeed. :-)