Friday, October 31, 2008

The Armor

To the person who had been my constant supporter, my real best friend, my soul mate, my partner, my wife.

I know the five years that we had together since we got married is a roller coaster of events and emotions. I admit that most of it is my fault.

We started our life together believing that we will be able to survive any adversities that will come as long as we are there for each other. And we did. We want to show the world that we can build our own home without much help and supervision from our parents. And we did. Its just like only you and me braving the world.

We were happy living our new found life with with our son.

A big storm came and shook us from our quiet life. I feel the burden of the responsibility i know i am not supposed to carry. I made the decision that will change the course of our life. I made it without consulting you knowing that you will never agree.

I know you were hurt, felt neglected. But that was the best decision i could make at that time. You supported me anyway, you never complained though i know there's doubt in you. As a wife to her husband, you had given me your trust.

The three long years had proven me how much you love me and showed importance even to my family. You cared more than i care for them. We made sacrifices. You never complained.

Our prayers had been answered. The three long trying years ended and we were back together. But then there's something wrong. We were supposed to be happy as the way we are three years ago.

At first i haven't noticed. Until you were overwhelmed and can no longer keep it. You burst it out straight in my face.

I wont admit that I changed. That I am not the same husband that left three years ago.

I know how much it hurt you that after years of separation, years of longing, years of uncertainty of when will we be together again, a husband who is silent, lost in thoughts, moody and insensitive came back instead.

I pondered on these words for days searching for the light to shed on the questions WHY?

God knows how happy I am being with you right now. That the time I was away was spent with sleepless nights and longing for you and our son. That every Sunday when kids at church march at the end of the mass for blessing, I'm holding back my tears while envisioning that our son is marching with them. That on every couples blessing, how I wish we are with them holding our hands walking to the altar. That every night when I hug my tear drenched pillow i am dreaming that it was you i am hugging instead.

I promised you fidelity and i kept it.

Being back with you again is priceless. Yet the happiness and love i feel seemed cannot pass through this thick armor i am wearing.

The armor i built on our trying times. The armor that helped and protected me not to be vulnerable, the armor that hid my weaknesses, the armor that taught me not to trust and expect anything on anybody so as not to be disappointed. The armor that made me trust only three persons in my three years of being away from you ( my self and two other very good persons who earned my trust and respect). The armor that helped me hide whatever i feel since showing of emotion is a sign of weakness in my battlefield of temptations, anxiety, paranoia and uncertainty.

I think i made a pretty strong and thick armor for it really served its purpose. It protected and hid the weak and scared warrior inside.

Now that I'm back with you, this armor is no longer needed.

I need to take it off for its already suffocating me. It suffocates and I'm afraid that it will eventually kill our relationship.

I'm asking for your help. Please help me break this armor. Help me for I alone cannot do it.

If hurting and breaking me is necessary in the process, lets do it anyway. I just wanted to be back to the same sweet, sensitive and dependable husband that you were once proud of having.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Joy of a Parent

As parents, we are always proud of whatever achievement our kids get. Whether from being good in applying colors in their coloring book, memorizing their ABC's at an early age to their performances in school.

We can say that it is one of the prizes of our hardships, sacrifices and perseverance to give them a better life. Better than what we had.

As a father, i am more ecstatic and proud whenever my son gets a star in school or hear him sing with Magic Sing Karaoke Machine. I can say that it is one of the innumerable bonuses of being a parent.As what the credit card commercial says: " its priceless!"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Live and Let Liver Live

Being young and financially independent means freedom! Freedom from all stress and worries brought by being financially dependent from your parents or other person. Free to do whatever you want whenever you want it as long as you have the money to fund it.

At the age of 18, i already had a high earning job as a Seaman. I had my (Financial) Independence at a prime state. Stage wherein hormones surge, stage of being rebellious and always yearns for adventure. The stage where i want to try and learn everything and search for my self.

I am young and i want to enjoy it! Enjoyment means time with friends in bars or at home with cold glass of beer or whiskey and the all time favorite "Joe Curves a.k.a. Jose Cuervo". I even illegally stock my cabin (when on ship) with whiskey, brandy and other alcoholic drinks and have a private party just with close friends almost every other day and doesnt bother even if theres work on the next morning.

I had lots of friends. And we are drunk almost every day.....

Life really has its own way of getting back into you. And i had mine the soonest.

At the age of 24, I am a married man with a newborn kid. I am now threading a new path. Being a family man means a lot to me and providing for my family is my number one priority.

Change is the only constant thing in this world as what they say, and so is my work. The pre-employment medical check-up had changed into a more strict examination and covers more scope than the regular examination. That was the first time I encountered the medical term SGPT.

Transaminase, serum glutamic pyruvic (SGPT): An enzyme that is normally present in liver and heart cells, and is released into blood when the liver or heart is damaged. Blood SGPT levels are thus elevated with liver damage (for example, from viral hepatitis) or with an insult to the heart (for example, from a heart attack). Some medications can also raise SGPT levels. Interpretation of elevated SGPT levels depends on the context, and can necessitate additional clinical and laboratory information.

The medical examination shows that i surpassed the limit for SGPT level and is considered unfit for employment.

Desperate to go back to work and earn money, I sought other peoples help and manipulated the test results when I was reffered to other physician for rehabilitation of my liver. Thanks to those Medtech friends who helped me pass the tests in exchange for a dinner at Mario's.

I was then cleared and resumed my work. Then another mishap in my family led me to sign off with unfinished contract. My brother died and left four kids who are still schooling. My wife and I took the responsibility of helping the two eldest kids finish their last year in college.

I resumed my work on ship without the medical exam since my previous exam is still valid.

Brought by pressure of the burden i am carrying, i found this chance of searching my chance of a better future together with a friend when we landed in Japan one chilly spring afternoon in May 2005.

These events explains my spoils and adventures in Japan as an illegal immigrant for 3 years.

After all the adventures, sweats, tears and roller coaster of events and emotions, now i'm happily back with my family managing a small business.

As if adventure is really chasing me (or the other way around?), my recent motorcycle accident made me visit my doctor. I was asked to have a series of examination and one of these is my Blood Chemistry.

The test shows that my SGPT level is now almost four times above the normal.

I'm back to where I left three years ago.

I am sober for a month now and promising not to let the sweating bottle of cold beer seduce me and touch my lips......

......not....... while i'm on medication??>"<

Lesson Learned: You can never get away with life.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Chinese Pregnancy Calendar

With my wife being pregnant with our second baby, we had this same feeling of excitement and joy like when we had our first baby. Its been five years since we had Dondon and expecting for the arrival of our second baby brings a mixed feeling of happiness, excitement and hope that this will just be an easy and smooth delivery like the previous one.

Lately, my wife asked me if i can check on the internet about this Chinese Pregnancy Calendar that her friends are telling her to predict the gender of our upcoming child. Since we are all excited to know what would be the baby's gender and another three months waiting for the ultrasound to detect the baby's gender seems too long, this morning i searched.

The Story Behind Chinese Pregnancy Calendar

One of the most exciting things about being pregnant is finding out what gender your baby is. Whether you ask your ultra sound technician to give the secret away or if you decide to wait until your eventual meeting, the moment that you learn if you're having a son or a daughter is very special. In the meantime, a lot of women and their partners pass the time amusing themselves with online quizzes or tests to help determine their baby's sex. Most of these are based on old wives tales such as how particular cravings or weight gain can determine gender. Obviously these test are almost always incorrect. However, one of these amusements is eerily accurate and has been used by many couples throughout centuries: the Chinese Gender Prediction Calendar.

Discovered in a royal tomb near Peking, the calendar was inscribed on a tablet that is dated as being over seven hundred years old. This means that centuries of women and their husbands relied on it to give them some sort of idea what to expect on the delivery date. By finding the woman's age and then following the column to the month of conception, you can easily determine what gender your child will be. In many cultures there has always been a lot of pressure throughout history to have a first-born son in order to secure an heir. This can lead one to wonder how many couples through the years have chosen the right month and copulated intently in order to get a boy. There is a very good chance that this was the reason for the development of this calendar in the first place! Of course, there is no need to secure property in the same way these days and many couples are simply overjoyed to welcome their child into the world no matter what gender it is.

The original calendar is on display at the institute of science in Peking and many curious tourists visit it daily. Its popularity on the Internet seems to grow daily and a quick search will reveal many different versions. No doubt this popularity is due to the fact that many excited couples simply can't wait to pick out clothes and toys for their new arrival.

To use the Chinese pregnancy calendar, simply find the month the baby was conceived on the chart below and then follow across to the age of the mother at the time of conception to find the predicted gender. Although this chart is said to have a success rate of over 90 percent, keep in mind that this is solely for entertainment purposes.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
18 G B G B B B B B B B B B
19 B G B G G B B G B B G G
20 G B G B B B B B B G B B
21 B G G G G G G G G G G G
22 G B B G B G G B G G G G
23 B B B G B B G G G B B G
24 B G G B B G B G B B G B
25 G B G B G B G B G B B B
26 B B B B B G B G G B G G
27 G G B B G B G G B G B B
28 B B B G G B G B G G B G
29 G B G G B G G B G B G G
30 B B G B G B B B B B B B
31 B B B B G G B G B G G G
32 B G G B G B B G B B G B
33 G B B G G B G B G B B G
34 B B G G B G B B G B G G
35 B G B G B G B G B B G B
36 B G B B B G B B G G G G
37 G G B G G G B G G B B B
38 B B G G B G G B G G B G
39 G G B G G G B G B B G B
40 B B B G B G B G B G G B
41 G G B G B B G G B G B G
42 B G G B B B B B G B G B
43 G B G G B B B G G G B B
44 B G G G B G B B G B G B
45 G B G B G G B G B G B G
The chart predicted correctly Dondon's gender, our first child who was conceived on January with my wife at the age of 23. The chart shows that we will be expecting a baby boy since my wife conceived on August at the age of 29.

It is maybe exciting and somewhat dismaying since we really wanted to have a baby girl this time but as what the reminder says, it is not by any means scientifically sound and while enjoying its novelty, we should not take it seriously.

Whether boy or girl, our child is more than welcome into this world!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Quick Stop at the Japanese Imperial Palace East Garden

The three years i spent working in Japan involved mostly in travelling. Though almost everyday we travel from our okiba (storage house) to different jobsites in Tokyo, I can barely enjoy the pleasure of travelling since my situation as an undocumented illegal alien requires me to be extra careful and avoid being sighted by officers in uniform and other civilian-clothed nyuukan agents.

One fine day after my second visit to the Japanese Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa, Tokyo for the processing my travel documents, i decided to take my chance to explore places that before, i'm just contented viewing from the window of our service vans and trucks. Now im free to go wherever i want without any fear of being caught or apprehended since i was already issued a travel certificate by the Bureau of Immigration.

I was scheduled to report at the Immigration Office before 8 a.m. so i finished my interview early and had the whole day for my self since i asked a one-day leave from work. From Shinagawa Yamanote Line Station, i boarded the train and got off at Tokyo Station. I still dont have definite place to go but Tokyo Station is in the heart of Metropolitan Tokyo so i am sure theres a lot of interesting places to go.

I decided to just walk around, find my way and take pictures.

I then saw this area map and i found my self in the vicinity of Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace so i decided to see the Imperial Palace first.

I am near the Otemon Entrance so i decided to cross the traffic congested Hibiya Dori (Hibiya St.) and then this park with well maintained lawn beautifully lined with semi bonzaid pine trees met my eyes. I cant help noticing people sleeping under the trees. I wonder if they are allowed to stay and sleep there since it is a park. Later i learned that it is a Center for the Homeless and they allow people to stay and sleep there as long as the cleanliness of the area is maintained.

The Imperial Palace with its grounds is located on the site of former residential palace of the successive Tokugawa Shoguns in the Edo Period. Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Emperor Meiji moved here from Kyoto which had been the imperial capital for more than a thousand years.

The main Imperial Palace gardens and buildings are off limits to public and only opens on January 2 and December 23 (Emperor's Birthday) where the Imperial Family makes a public appearance but the Imperial Palace East Gardens is open to public daily except on Mondays and Friday.
The Imperial Palace East Gardens (Kyoko Higashi Gyoen) are part of the inner palace and are former site of Edo Castle's innermost circles of defense. None of the main bulidings remain today, but moats, walls, entrance gates and several guardhouses still exist.

It is tuesday and the East Gardens is open to the public. Tourists (mostly Koreans and Chinese) flock the area. As usual, my handy camera is in my hands ready to take photos and hoping that the battery and memory card will last until evening.

From Kyoko Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, i can view the Nijubashi, two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds. The stone bridge in front is called Meganibashi (Eyeglass Bridge) for its looks.

The bridge in the back was formerly a wooden bridge with two levels, from which the name Nijubashi (Double Bridge) is derived.

I am alone so i just contented my self from taking photos and other tourists since i am shy enough to ask for someone to take my pictures.

This Meganibashi Bridge is the Main Entrance to the Inner Palace and is resticted to the public. Tourists stopped to pose and take pictures.

Even guards are not spared from the flashes of cameras.

After several minutes of walking and taking pictures, i finally found a good place to put my camera and select the self timer mode and pose in front of the palace moat, walls and tower.

It was already almost 12 noon and i decided to end the tour even though i was still not able to visit the other sights. I also cancelled the plan of going to the nearby Hibiya Park.

I am hoping i still have enough time to eat my lunch and get to my next destination... GINZA.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My Prayer

Dear Lord, I thank You for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning. I'm blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you.
I ask now for Your forgiveness. Please keep me safe from all danger and harm. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Let me make the best of each and every day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You. Please broaden my mind that I can accept all things. Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over.
And It's the best response when I'm pushed beyond my limits.
I know that when I can't pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will. Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak... Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those that are lost and can't find their way. I pray for those that are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don't know You intimately. I pray for those that don't believe.

But I thank you that I believe. I believe that God changes people and God changes things. I pray for all my sisters and brothers. For each and every family member in their households. I pray for peace, love and joy in their homes that they are out of debt and all their needs are met. I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God. Every battle is in Your hands for You to fight.
I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Don Don's BIG Day

Saturday, September 27 came and it is marked as a red date in a BIG Calendar hanging in our wall. This date marks the 5th birthday of our Unico Hijo Dondon who had been excited of this date from several weeks earlier.

We had plans earlier to have the celebration held in Iloilo City together with just few very close relatives. Due to bad weather and almost weekly visit of typhoons that we cancelled the plan at the last minute and we settled to have it instead in our house with the same visitors invited.

My motorcycle accident the day before had me almost bed ridden and dont have any much use especially in food preparation. I just helped my nephews with hanging candies and lollipops in the pabitin and pukpok palayok and other goodies for the parlor games. So again, my Superwoman/Wifey had to do all the shopping in the morning of the celebration (since my accident made her rush home after her work and was not able to do the shopping) and the cooking by our househelps and some relatives who managed to do it in given a short time. We are preparing foods for afternoon Merienda and Dinner so there's not much cooking to do and to think that only few visitors are invited and mostly are kids.
Afternoon came and people in the kitchen are still busy with frying while i am with Tay Julio our manghihilot giving me a massage and realigning my dislocated ribcage and hips. I almost fainted with pain even with just a little pressure applied. Finally after almost 15 minutes of pressing and rubbing, kernels of sweat came out of my body. And i felt better. The rain outside is pouring tirelessly. Looks like the kids will never have the chance to play their games on our bermuda covered lawn.

Its almost 4:00 pm when our visitors came just after the rain stopped. We started the party and Dondon blowed his candles and the kids are singing "Happy Birthday". I can see excitement in my son's eyes while the kids are singing. Maybe beacuse this time it is his own candle he's going to blow and not someone else's. Its his birthday and he's been looking forward to this and is getting excited as the days came closer. He even forgot to make a wish and blew the candle right after the song!

The kids then rushed out to the lawn for their games.

The sky can no longer hold the rain and starts to pour again just in time the Pabitin were already wrestled by the kids to the ground and we again went inside for the foods and more games!

The party finally ended around 8:00 pm and the kids were all tired but with big smiles on their faces. This might not be the grandest birthday for our son but this is the happiest one because for the first time, we celebrated it as a whole family.