Monday, October 04, 2004

She Didn't Dance

I knew it wasn’t meant to be, but at the back of my mind, I wish it could. From the start, I was silently protesting against my wife. But seeing her enthusiasm, hard as she tried to hide it, I just can’t let myself be the one to burst her bubble. And like I said, I too, though discreetly, was hoping it might work.

Angel is only three years old. Modesty aside, many people have told us that her name really fits her. Like most parents, we taught our little Angel to sing and to dance, which she performed to our hearts’ delight. Babies are the sweetest things to watch, especially if it’s your own baby. The problem is, when we ask her to perform when there are other people around, like close friends or relative, she will either, run away, stand still or just cling to us. But she will not perform, leaving us embarrassed and trying our darnest best to change the topic. Okay, so our little Angel isn’t the showbiz type.

One day, my wife told me my little Angel was chosen by the day care to be the school’s candidate for the search for “Munting Prinsesa ng Angeles” (Little Princess of Angeles) in the upcoming town fiesta. I can’t remember how I reacted then. I didn’t say no, but neither did I say yes. My wife knew that I wasn’t keen on the idea, but it didn’t bother her. She sees it as an opportunity to show the world how beautiful and talented our baby is. A sentiment that I share with her. She also sees it as a chance for my baby to develop herself and somehow overcome her stage fright. I, on the other hand, was very much worried. The thought of putting my little darling on the spot, this time with a bigger audience, fills me with anxiety. But amidst my silent protest, my wife insisted. She said that she asked Angel if she wants to do it, to which my baby would say yes. So with less than two months before the contest, the preparation began.

The road to the beauty contest wasn’t a smooth one. For one, we can’t afford to hire a trainer that would help us train and develop my little Angel’s talent. Hence, we have no choice but to train Angel ourselves. But then again, I’m a weekend father. Being assigned in a place far from home. Coupled it with a very unsupportive daycare teacher, who compromised my baby in the first place, leaves my wife by her lonesome to prepare Angel for the contest. Juggling her schedule between teaching, herself being a teacher in secondary school, and looking after the studies of my other two sons, and training Angel and looking after the house and the children’s needs. Something is bound to give, and so it did. For one week, my wife was sick, in other weeks, my two sons alternately got sick, and Angel is sick almost every week. In fact, the day before the contest, my baby has fever. While the apathetic daycare teacher would always say, “Is Angel ready? Because if she’s not, I have someone who is ready and willing to replace her at a moments notice.” The nerve!

Anyway, Angel’s preparation would include the old cassette player playing Britney Spear’s “Oops! I did it again!” again and again and again. Which my little Angel would follow singing and dancing, in a way that only my baby could. My wife’s niece taught Angel the choreography of the song, but being the baby that she is, she would always follow her own step. And her words weren’t really clear, because she really can’t speak well yet. We don’t mind, she’s our baby. Then she was asked to memorize her introduction, which was “Mabuhay! Ako po si Angel Liza V. dela Cruz! Tatlong taon gulang! Nag-aaral sa Sta. Trinidad Day Care Center!” (Mabuhay! I am Angel Liza V. dela Cruz! Three years old! Studying at Sta. Trinidad Day Care Center!) This went on everyday until the day of the contest itself. Oh! There were also meeting and practices, together with the organizers and other candidates. The details of which, I don’t know, but my wife told me that Angel sometimes got bored, tired, stubborn, or just refused to cooperate. Well, what do you expect from a three year old baby?

Finally, came the big day! My wife, together with her sister and niece, brought Angel to the contest at five o’clock, which is the call time. The program is scheduled at six o’clock. I arrived thirty minutes later, together with my two sons. Nothing has been started yet. My baby is beginning to be impatient. My role there was to be sure that Angel keeps her poise and goes up the stage. My wife believes I’m the only one who can do that because my baby is a papa’s girl and I’m the only one Angel is afraid of. Thirty minutes past six, the program is about to start, and I’m having a hard time containing Angel. My baby is candidate number twenty-eight. Good thing, and later would be a bad thing.

The candidates were already lined up backstage, while I still have Angel in my arms. She refuses to fall in line, refuses to go up the stage and refuses to continue with the contest. Instead, she wants to go home. I tried to keep my senses, trying my best to reason with my three-year-old baby. Candidates one to ten were already up the stage, eleven, twelve, . . . I refused to push the panic button. Nineteen, twenty, . . . I was able to put Angel behind candidate number twenty-seven. Putting on my best daddy’s charm, I ask her “Angel, can you please do this for daddy?” She nods her head and we hug each other. I love hugging my baby; it’s the most sincere feeling in the world. Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight! I rushed in front of the stage. My baby is up there! Waving to the crowd along with the other candidates. I waited patiently while the candidates introduced themselves. When my baby’s turn to the microphone came, all I understood was “Angel Liza”, “Tatlong Taon Gulang” and “Day Care Center!” I didn’t care! My baby is on the stage! My baby was seen! My baby was heard! When they marched towards the backstage, we rushed to meet her and hugged her and kissed her.

Whew! I’m glad that was over. Next will be the talent portion. But my baby is number twenty-eight. Will she be able to hold and wait for her turn? Meanwhile, friends and relatives have arrived to support Angel. Everyone wanting to hold her, hug her, kiss her, or play with her while it’s not yet her turn. As we watched the proceedings of the program, other children performed without any problem, I hope the same would be true with my baby. It’s almost nine o’clock and candidate number twenty or twenty-one is performing on the stage. My wife asked me to talk to Angel; she wants to go home. Not again! I didn’t know what happened, but Angel is cranky. Maybe her aunties and cousins unwittingly pressured her young mind by telling her to do it well. Or maybe she just got impatient and doesn’t want to dance. I took her backstage and tried to talk to her. Number twenty-five is on the stage. I asked her to do it just once and promised her that I will never allow her mommy to put her in contest like these again. It was harder to talk to her this time, but through patience and daddy’s charms, I was able to convince her.

Candidate number twenty-seven is almost finished. I kissed and hugged my baby for the last time. As they called her name, I handed her to the usherette and tried to rush to the front to take her picture. I had only taken a few steps when I heard the ushers and usherettes calling me. When I looked back, Angel was crying! What now?! I rushed to Angel’s side trying to talk to her. She’s still crying. In the meantime, the emcee keeps on calling Angel’s name, I was asking for two minutes. Then, out of nowhere, the daycare teacher came urging Angel to dance on the stage. Imagine that! My baby was crying and all this teacher could think of was the talent portion! Then came Angel’s aunties and cousins, all convincing her to perform her talent. I was literally pushed-out of the picture. My baby was crowded! My baby was mobbed! And she is crying! The talent portion was called off. My baby never got to perform her number. Then there was an intermission.

The gown portion followed. I was able to convince my baby to wear her gown, which she personally picked, and continue with the contest. She was on the stage together with the other twenty-seven young ladies. Waving and smiling to the audience, although there were still traces of tears in her eyes. We knew she won’t get anything for all her efforts, but we still want her to finish the contest. The finalists were chosen, special awards were given, until all the winners were announced. For all those proceedings, I wasn’t really concern; I just want this to be over with. Finally, it’s all over. It’s time for us to get our baby back and go home.

On the way home, everybody in our group was almost quiet. Well, not really quiet, but they were not as enthusiastic as they were three or four hours earlier. Each one trying not to talk about the contest and the talent portion. I was carrying my baby, she was happy and smiling. We were kissing and hugging each other along the way. She didn’t win, but in my heart she’ll always be my little princess. One thing we learned on that day is that, my baby’s charms, talents and wit, is only ours to behold. My baby didn’t dance. She doesn’t have to. She’s my Angel, and I love her very much.

October 24, 2001
10:00 PM
December 25, 2001
10:26 AM

Sunday, October 03, 2004


What a title! Did it catch your attention? I bet it did! If not, why did you reach this far? Honestly, it’s hard to start a topic especially when you don’t really have any idea in mind of what to write about. You feel that you need to express something. Something within is just raring to go out, it wants to escape, it wants to be heard, to be seen, to be read, TO BE SOMETHING! You know it, you can feel it, but you just can’t put a finger on it. Really now, is this really something worth writing? And afterwards, something worth reading? I really don’t know. It doesn’t really make sense, does it? Well, sometimes life doesn’t really make sense.

Second paragraph - still pounding on the keyboard without any definite topic in mind. Blame it on the neighbor who plays too loud a music. There’s a birthday party going on next door. It’s a children’s party. We could have been there, except that my children aren’t here. They are staying at my mother’s house because nobody will look after their needs here. My wife is with her mother; she’s staying there because she is sick. She has kidney problem, actually she has already undergone three dialysis sessions. She has to stay with her mother because nobody will take care of her here because I have to work. We can’t afford to hire household help. So I’m here in our house by my lonesome. Fighting loneliness with the help of my keyboard. It’s a difficult set-up, but when you realize that it’s all for the better, you may learn to accept it, though not necessarily agree with it. Anyway, I can visit them on my way home from work.

That is why I’m here, in front of my computer pounding on the keyboard without any specific topic to write. Maybe, I’m just trying to fight the bitterness. Heck! I don’t want to write about bitterness! It isn’t helping anybody! So, what is there really to write about? The party next door? There is nothing really going in there, loud music, children screaming, maybe some balloons, cakes and ice cream, clowns perhaps. But what do I care? I’m not in there. I surely would not attend a children’s party without any children in tow! Maybe the party is almost over, as I don’t hear the emcee talking anymore, just continuous playing of loud music. Maybe it’s chow time! I even hear some vehicles already leaving. Can’t blame them, it’s almost eight in the evening.

Okay, so much for the party. There is really nothing much interesting going on. There’s nothing good on TV, don’t have any new VCD to watch. Maybe I could play the guitar later, perhaps I could write another song. But then again, the song that I’ll write maybe as vague as this one I’m writing. The same may be true if I attempt to write a poem. Wow! What a predicament I’m in! Having an itch and not knowing how to scratch it! Meanwhile, the music next door gets louder as ideas in my mind get more scattered. I’ve reached this far, without any concrete subject to talk about. But, is it really possible to write an article or essay without any specific topic? I mean, how would the ideas flow? How would it start? How would it evolve? How can you elaborate it? And finally, how can you conclude it? AM I GETTING ANYWHERE?

Honestly, I already read some articles in newspapers and magazines wherein authors don’t have any specific topic. They just keep on blabbering away. Putting in highfalutin words, that not all readers really understand. Making them appear intellectual and powerful writers. But when you begin to analyze and dissect their article, you will see that they don’t really have any good thing to write about. They are just going in circles, making their topic appear long enough. It is just one smart way of beating the deadline.

Maybe, this one is just like that. Except that, this one makes no pretensions of being an excellent or an intellectual article. It doesn’t have to. There is no deadline to beat, no name or image to uphold, and no monetary compensation to consider. It’s just that the author wants to say something but just don’t exactly know what it is.

I long have been wanting to go back to writing. It’s been too long since I really poured my soul into text. Trying to paint a vision… an emotion… in black and white. Through the use of printed words. But without any specific topic to write, how should I start? But if I don’t start, how can I squeeze those literary juices? So I start, hoping that it would make those creative juices flowing. To write something… anything… just write – for the heck of it!

October 2,2004
8:08 PM

Sunday, September 26, 2004


(Note: My apologies to those who may not be able to relate to this, as these are mostly commercials from the Philippines. Thanks.)

It's been ten years since you last saw your high school classmates! Ten LONG years! And tonight you'll finally get to see them again. Because tonight is your reunion! You're very excited to see your classmates again after so many years. You went to the reunion, full of expectations. As you enter the place of the party, you saw your former classmates, and as you approached them, even before the hi's and hello's, even before the beso-beso and kumustahan, the first thing that they asked you is, "San ka nagparebond? " What?!!! Honestly, is that the way to greet someone whom you haven't seen for quite a long time? I think a simple "hi" would suffice.

I grew up seeing all types of TV commercial; some are good but mostly are bad. Some are irritating and some are outright insulting. I know I'm not alone, there are a number of people out there, who like me, have been forced to watch these commercials which leaves us no other recourse but to scrutinize, dissect and criticize them. For the record, nothing still beats the famous sandals commercial then. Who could forget Criselda and her line, "Marupok ka!" That one is a classic! Now, they come in all shapes and sizes, forms and colors, with known personalities and some respectable even. Some tried to be serious and sensible, others really outrageous. The bottom line is, one way or another, they will catch your attention.

I liked the commercial of Karen and her Lolo the first time I saw it, I thought that was touching. But the more I see of it, the more I find flaws and the more I got irritated. If you noticed, Lolo never raised his head even once to look at Karen, maybe that's why he didn't know it was Karen. Who was he with in the first place? How did he get there without even knowing who was with him? Hamburgers are not served with a knife on that fastfood store, so how was he able to cut his hamburger with a knife?

I know commercials are necessary; they are the lifeblood of the TV shows. But when you see three youngster getting inside a taxi stuck in traffic and making hand gestures to the driver and finally getting off without even going anywhere and leaving their chewing gum in the taxi dahil wala lang! It makes you think that, companies pay big amounts of money to advertising agencies for these kinds of commercials?! SUCKERS!!! Really now, you deserved more! And definitely, us viewers and consumers at that, deserved better!

And I wonder why the MTRCB allows the airing of some commercials who show or even promote negative values. A vitamin commercial shows children teasing one child and calling him lampayatot! Which encourages children to call any skinny­ looking classmate, friend or anybody that word. And when you reached eighteen years of age, kaya mo na tol! You are licensed to get drunk! MTRCB allowed that?! And what about the health center doctor who prescribed detergent powder to her patients? No wonder there are no medicines in the health centers, because they use the budget to buy detergent powder instead of medicines.
The shampoo commercial did not end with the reunion though, again we'll see the girl meeting her would-be in-laws for the first time, and her fiancĂ©e’s sisters’ first words to her were, again, "San ka nagparebond?" Was that a good sign or a bad sign? Hey wait! Don't they look like her classmates from the reunion? Next, we'll see a man buying medicines from a drugstore. At first worrying that the medicines might be expensive but he has no choice because he needs it. Then, we'll see him realizing that the medicines aren't really expensive and that he can still buy pasalubong for his family. And what did he imagined to buy, CRISPY PATA?! Well, we don't really know for what illness does he needs the medicines for, but to match it with a crispy pata? How ironic, maybe we'll see him again going back to the drugstore buying medicines, because he will never learn.

The list would go on and on. And it will go on, because everyday a new commercial is born. Suckers..., I mean companies, would burn a hole in their advertising budget to pay advertising agencies who will conceptualize their commercials for them. No matter how BAD they are. And we, viewers, would have to bear with them because, as it is, we really have no choice. So just lay back, relax, and get yourself isang platitong mani. We just have to grin it and bear it, otherwise, magapatuka ka na lang sa ahas.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Real Life

There's less than three minutes left in the game, we are down by two points. Only one three-point bomber will win us the game. I know I could do it, I'm up to the challenge! I can take the pressure! If only I could have the ball. One shot is all I need. The clock is ticking! The game is winding down! One shot! I got to take it! If only I could have the chance! Ten seconds left! Still no shot! Five... four... three... two... one! It's allover! We lose by a shot. I saw it all. From start to finish... from the bench.

Maybe, I have watched too much of Mighty Ducks and other underdog movies. Wherein the most underrated, the most unlikely person, the underdog, suddenly rises to the occasion, perform a huge, almost impossible task, and stand-out as a hero. How many times have I dreamed of that? To be the main man! The real deal! Then suddenly, it snaps! I'm back to reality! The bitter reality! Where I am a nobody!

Well, I'm not really a loser. But honestly, I don't really feel anything near to that of a winner. I had my moments of glory, sure I do. But they are too insignificant! Nobody, even I, don't remember them. I have experienced defeats. Lots of times! I mean most of the times. Falls, frustrations, rejections, humiliations, name it! I think I am the exact personification of the word loser. Come to think of it, loser is not the word, FAILURE is the more appropriate term.

I failed those who believe in me. I even failed myself! That's why I often retreat in my own created world. A world where I am never a failure. A world where I can do anything that I want. A world where everybody looks up to me, where people loved me, where I am always a winner, a do-it-all, Mr. Reliable, the one who always delivers, where my mere presence brings inspiration to all those around me. A world where I am always safe and unharmed. Please don't touch me. Don't shake me! DON'T WAKE ME UP! I am about to be given a VICTORY RIDE!

How do you put out a fire?

How do you put out a fire? By dousing it with water! That’s right; to kill a fire you simply douse it with water. Now, how do you kill enthusiasm? Simple, by dousing it with water! Now, why and how you may ask, pour water on enthusiasm? I’m not really referring to physical water here, of course you know that. I used the analogy because enthusiasm is like a fire burning within an individual. People doused it with water by simply saying NO! STOP! THAT CAN’T BE DONE!

This is one of the most common management mistakes. Sometimes, an individual comes along with a new or an improved idea. Enthusiastically, he shares to the bosses, very confident that this idea would improve performance, cut costs, lead to better sales or really create big changes within the organization. But the audiences aren’t too keen on changes, they either dislike it or they fear it. For most old timers, changes may mean that what their current practices may no longer be acceptable no matter how effective they maybe in the past. And they can’t accept that, call it pride, call it ego, but for them nothing beats the tried and tested means.

Then there is the feeling of being threatened. These people with ideas may come on too strong for them, and they feel that they should slow them down before they gain their momentum. This is most especially true when the person with idea is young and new in the organization. “You just can’t barge in throw and your weight around!” This is the message that they would like to convey to the newcomer, no matter how good or excellent the idea maybe, more so if it’s a really good idea.

I have nothing against old timers, or management for that matter. And I’m not saying that all new ideas are good ideas. What I’m trying to say is all ideas are worth hearing. You may think that it’s just a waste of time especially if it’s a really bad idea, but think again, a bad idea may lead to a better idea. Someone has started a fire, don’t be the firefighter that would put out the fire. An idea, no matter how bad, didn’t come just for the sake of having an idea. An idea came out because there was something that needs working on, something needs to be improved, something needs to be solved - something needs to be CHANGED.

Enthusiasm, desire, drive, passion, motivation – seek for it from an employee, but be sure to be ready to support it. Be a bridge that would help them walk their way through, rather than being a wall that blocks their path. Remember that most great things that we have today – started from just a small, simple idea.

So how do you put out a fire? Simply by dousing it with water! And how do you kill enthusiasm? YOU DON’T!

Letting Go

Do you know how a child feels when he let go of a balloon that he loves so much? Or how it feels when you set a bird free, after you took care of it in its cage for so many years? Or of letting your fish swim in the ocean, after it has swam in your aquarium for so long? That’s how I felt when I left my son this morning in school, to join his classmates and teachers to go on a field trip. Of course, you might say that the metaphor isn’t right, because balloons, fishes and birds don’t come back. But my son will surely go home after the trip. Nonetheless, the feeling of fear and anxiety doesn’t differ… perhaps more intense.

Actually, this feeling isn’t really new to me. I felt the same way the first day that I left my boy in school. I was able to survive that, what would make a difference now? I don’t know, but as I was walking away this morning, frequently looking back, I can’t help but worry. Looking at him, so young, small and fragile, after all, he is only eight years old, in the company of absolute strangers, well at least to me. The irony of it all is that my son doesn’t show any sign of fear or anxiety. He looks so happy talking to his friends, mixing, blending, and loosing himself in the crowd, without even looking to check if I’m still there. Maybe that’s what I fear, to realize that my son can already take care of himself.

Ralph Emerson gave me my first taste of fatherhood. Everything that I know about being a father, I owe it all to him. Nobody taught me better than my son, as I walk through life with him, I learn new things everyday. It’s like seeing it all for the first time, through the eyes of a child. And now, he is teaching me again another new thing, that of letting go… too soon. Just when I thought that I was ready for anything that life can give me, now this. I wasn’t prepared for this, I don’t think I ever will be. Again, it’s too soon.

Like they always say, being a father is a tough job. You got to work hard, to be able to provide your children all their needs. You got to be tough, to be able to discipline them. You have to teach them to be good and God-fearing citizens. You have to guide them so that they won’t go in the wrong direction. You have to be tough, in times of trouble for them to feel secure. And you got to be good, to serve as a role model for them. Well, guess what? Those were the easy parts. You have to be tough, to be able to let go. To be distant when you’re not needed to be around. To accept the fact that your child has grown up.

Perhaps, the father needs the son more that the son needs the father. For through the son, the father develops a sense of confidence and a feeling of security. For through the son, the father has someone who sincerely looks up to him, through the son, the father has enough motivation that can push him through the hardest of times. And only through the son, the father can be.

Now that my son has a taste of freedom, he may like it. He may develop self-confidence, he may discover that he can take care of himself. When that happens, does that mean that I’m through? Am I done being a father? See? I told you. Nothing can make a father more secure than a child that he can be a father to.

You can teach your child lots of things. He may easily grasp some things, while he may have difficulty learning other things. But I think the hardest thing to teach is independence. Because for a child to be independent, you got to let him be independent. That means, no breathing over his shoulders, no checking every five or ten minutes and no looking back when you walk away. It means, you got to let go. Loosen your grip, cut that imaginary string, break those invisible bounderies. You got to let go. It means you also have to be independent from your child. Trust that you have taught him enough, that you have established enough foundation that could carry your child through. Move back and let go.

As I am filled with anxiety and worries about my son going on field trip, I am also excited in meeting him tonight. Back home from field trip, his first field trip. Seeing through his eyes, all the things that he has seen, and I’ll listen to him patiently as he tells me, perhaps with enthusiasm, all the places that he has been, all the things that they did, and everything that he learned today… without me.

September 15, 2000
4:27 PM

Share this post