The Teacup and the Fruitcake

12347849_10153726994042660_2191772761779297866_nIn 1999, my Papa and Mama went to Thailand. My Papa’s ‘pasalubong’ for me was a single set of tea cup and a saucer. I remember Mama saying that Papa handled it with utmost care all throughout their trip back to Manila. To date, this is the only piece of porcelain I own that moved with me whenever I transfered residence and it was never used, not once.

One of Mama’s favourite was fruitcake. I remember that for five Christmases, from 2007-2011, fruitcake would always be one of my pasalubongs for her from London. She would always have the sweetest smile everytime I would say, ‘Mama, fruitcake…’

Today, a friend gave me a fruitcake as pasalubong and told me that when I get home, I should drink tea and eat the fruitcake. It didn’t sound like a suggestion. There was power on the voice. I felt that it was a directive.

So when I got home, I was going to drink tea and eat fruitcake just because my friend said so. Until I noticed the tea cup that Papa gave me and felt that today is the time. For almost 17 years, today seemed to be the perfect time to use it.

Yes, it may just be drinking tea and having a slice of fruitcake and I should not give so much drama on it.

But hey! Parents – whether they are still around or have gone ahead of us, would always know and feel when their children needed them the most. Tonight, because of the tea cup and the fruitcake, time and again, Papa and Mama made their most loving presence felt.

Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, the Gaudete Sunday, I rejoice for the simple joy that the tea cup and the fruitcake brought to my heart. I rejoice for angels on earth called friends (some gives fruitcakes 😜). I rejoice for friends who became family, who treated me like part of their family. I rejoice for being blessed with opportunities. I rejoice for being cared for by many.

Today, I rejoice.

Laying Tracks

12366206_10153724404482660_3293175925292895767_nI am reading a book of Shonda Rhimes. She is the writer of the two most successful TV series worldwide -Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.

On the first chapter of her book, she described something called ‘laying tracks’. She said that ‘writing for television is like laying a track for an oncoming speeding train’.

‘The story is the track and you gotta keep laying it down because of the train. The train is production. You keep writing, you keep laying track down, no matter what, because the train of production is coming toward you – no matter what’. Every eight days she needs to have a story. Every eight days they need to find locations, build sets, design costumes, find props, film a new episode. Every eight days. And that’s how she said she learned to lay track quickly. Artfully. Creatively. As fast as freaking lightning.

I have finished several chapters of the book but that image of laying tracks and speeding train never left my mind.

I look at the calendar and see it is only 13 days before Christmas.

I see parents posting photos of their children saying do not grow up too fast.

I hear people working hard saving money for something very important in their lives.

I know how sickness can trigger panic button and when the clock starts ticking, we try to catch up on lost opportunities.

I feel the tremendous amount of pressure when one has to make a life-changing decision.

These are all laying tracks. Whether we like it or not, we have to lay tracks in order for the speeding train not to derail. And even when life seems to be at a stand still, we have to continue laying tracks, as we have to be prepared for what is to come.

The irony of life is when we try all our might to run after something or someone. Only to find out, when we look behind, we are also being chased by something or someone.

I guess it is not just about laying tracks. It is also about where these tracks are leading us or has led us so far.

India

Few days ago, I posted a couple of photos on Instagram with my suitcase and myself boarded on a plane. One friend asked where I was going. I replied , To 18.9750 N, 72.8258 E. He is a geek so he figured out the coordinates. Then one of my cousins asked the same question and I replied, ‘To one of the countries in the film Eat. Pray. Love.’
I went to India. I visited two places: Mumbai and Pune, to where I had meetings and personally met with people I only interacted on emails and conference calls for the last two years. Between all these colleagues, there are two whom I closely work with. BR is based in Mumbai and MG is based in Pune. There was a competition. They gave me a challenge. That at the end of my 3-day trip, I will have to choose which of the two cities is better.
Knowing that I will only get to see glimpses of the cities as most of my time will be spent inside meeting rooms, I told them that I will give my verdict on the day I leave and I may have to give a higher preference to whoever can bring me to a Starbucks shop where I could buy a mug with Mumbai or India inscription.
In Mumbai, I went to see the Gate of India, saw one of the most expensive houses in the world, had dinner in an authentic Indian restaurant called Jewel of India, saw simultaneous wedding ceremonies, learned significant information about mosques, sareehs, bridges, bay areas, etc. Despite finding a Starbucks shop near the famous Taj hotel, there was no mug.
In Pune, I was welcomed by a cooler weather. I got to taste authentic samosa, had Indian ice cream, delicious barbeque and Thums Up. I played Carram and totally enjoyed it. MG fell short of his promise that I will not leave Pune without a Starbucks mug. All attempts remained futile.
This morning, as I was being escorted by one of the hotel staff to the car that will bring me to the airport, I made one final attempt to ask, ‘Is there a Starbucks at the airport?’ My eyes glittered when he said there is one. Only that it is a bit far from the Departure area. He gave me directions.
I didn’t have much time to spare. My flight was in 1.5hrs. Soon as I arrived at the airport, I literally ran and looked for Starbucks. My heart sank as I entered the shop and didn’t see any mugs. I was ready to turn back and leave when I mustered some courage to ask the lady at the till, ‘Do you have a mug that has Mumbai written on it?’ She said, ‘No, Ma’am. But we have one with India on it!’ Wow. Imagine the smile on my face. My heart was giggling.
Before boarding, I sent a message to BR and MG saying, Mission Accomplished (together with the photo of the mug). MG replied, ‘Now I believe… If u wish for something from your heart… U get it…😃😃’
I write this as the plane takes off from the runway of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. I happily leave with a Starbucks mug that has ‘India’ inscription. But more importantly, of all the countries I was fortunate enough to visit, India will probably be the one with the most special inscription in my heart. Though I have only seen glimpses of India’s people and culture, it opened enough window for me to appreciate and be grateful about life.
I guess, the book has to be re-written. You don’t need to visit three countries to Eat. Pray. Love. In India, you Eat, you Pray and you find Love in the most ordinary of ways.

Chasing Bubbles

 

12227714_10153659752822660_6933836041533197717_nThe world offers so many distractions – oftentimes, we find ourselves chasing bubbles – those that are temporary – giving us temporary happiness, temporary comfort, temporary companions, temporary attention, temporary fame, temporary love, temporary security. If we hold them carefully, it stays for awhile. But no matter how much we desire to keep them, at one point, they will just burst into thin air, leaving no marks or traces.

But alongside chasing these bubbles, we also experience things that could potentially help us become better persons. I look at this photo and remember the experience. I remember the cold air. I remember the sound of children playing and screaming. I remember the faces of adults who were smiling. I remember running after many bubbles and I got confused which one to pursue. I remember the happiness, until it lasted.

At the end, it wasn’t all about the bubbles. It was about how it captured my attention. It was about the chasing, the pursuing. It was about how I held it with utmost care. It was about the one that got away. It was about how it disappeared before my eyes. It was about the disappointment. It was about letting go. It was about moving on. Yes, I look at this photo, remembered the bubbles and I smiled.

Remembered one appropriate quote, ‘Do not cry because it is over. Smile because it happened.’

Two. Fifteen.

 

image1Several weeks ago, I was at National Bookstore with a friend. I saw the piles of Straight from the Heart books. I pointed to the books and told my friend, ‘Mama contributed to that book.’

 

In silence, I recalled the many phone conversations I had with Mama where she told me how much time she was spending writing prayers, editing, etc. In fact, when the Filipino Edition was being written, she asked me to help. I told her I didn’t have time but I said I will try to write one prayer. But I never got the chance to do it. I was in London during that time and I never really showed much interest about the book.

 

image4Anyways, I proudly showed my friend Mama’s name written at the back of the book. I also told my friend that I don’t particularly remember which prayers Mama wrote but I remember her telling me about one prayer – the Widow’s Prayer. A prayer that reflects the daily beatings of her heart. She must have truly suffered in silence when we lost Papa.

 

image2I searched for the ‘Prayer of a Widow’ and my whole body shivered when I saw that the prayer can be found on Page 215. Two-Fifteen –February 15 – the day Mama joined her Creator – the day when Papa welcomed her in the gates of heaven, the day when she is a Widow no more.

 

Must be coincidence, it doesn’t matter. Those little details, those little surprises keep my Mama’s presence always alive. Her witnessing continues, her being a mother to us continues and though the pain doesn’t go away, though I miss her everyday, though life will never be the same again, I find comfort that now she is no longer writing prayers, she is chatting with Jesus about the beatings of her heart and I know she is telling Him, ‘Look after my children because I love them very much especially Adnelle as she can be masungit and stubborn at times.’

image3

 

I miss you very much, Mama. I still talk about you with my friends even those you have not met, even those you have not known. I want people to know how wonderful you are.