A Bountiful Dose of Nostalgia

With the recent passing of my 95 year-old aunt, I decided to share my diary entry dated 26 Sept 2009. On this particular day, typhoon Ondoy brought massive rainfall and caused severe flooding, death and suffering to thousands of people in Manila and neighbouring provinces. I happened to be in the Philippines at the time taking care of my mother on her deathbed. My cousin, Manay Susan, and I, along with my mother’s caretaker, and with the help of other family members, we’d take turns keeping an eye on her. There’s always someone watching her 24/7 making sure she’s alright. She passed away three weeks after I wrote this.

As I am writing this, the wind is screaming, the rain falls in torrents, thunder is rumbling, lightning is flickering in succession in the distance but seems to be moving closer. The heavy downpour, what seems like buckets of water, is pelting the windows relentlessly. When I was a little child growing up in Samar, there were thunderstorms, similar to typhoon Ondoy, that visited my hometown. In memory, there was more thunder and lightning, and I used to be so frightened of them. Continue reading

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Thoughts on New Year’s Day

As the year draws to a close it seems natural, at least for myself, to reflect on the year that has been and look ahead to the one to come. I’ve been thinking about what I want to hold on to and what I need to let go of — whether beliefs, or habits, or hobbies, or dreams. I realised a necessary pruning is in order, not just of the mind but also of the heart.  Continue reading

December Musings

December has a contented glow about it. Although it’s cold and grey, and there’s only the prospect of deepest winter ahead (forecasters are predicting that Britain is set to have one of the harshest winter in years with temperatures dipping as low as -10C), the Christmas lights and all the festive decorations around bring a cheeriness and warmth to the now long, dark nights.

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Sentiments and Reflections

When I was growing up, the period from October 31 to November 2 was a big holiday in the Philippines. It is not a huge festivity like Christmas but people would normally take a few days off work, travel back home to be with their families to honour their loved ones, both the dead and the living. Filipinos are very superstitious and religious people you see . . . even those who claim to be nominal Catholics do pray for, and to, the dead (the image of President Duterte crying in his mother’s grave uttering ‘Tabangi ko, Ma!’’ — please help me, Mother! — is a classic example of this). Back in my day, and I’m referring to 30-40 years back when I was very young, everyone did lit candles in the cemetery to commemorate All Saints’ Day (November 1st) and All Souls’ Day (November 2nd). In our family we always had a novena (a form of worship consisting of special prayers on nine successive days) at home every night during these festivities aside from offering a mass (that is, paying money to the priest to hold a special service) for the dead family members. A lot of Filipinos still do practice this tradition to this very day. Personally though, All Saints’ Day took on a completely different meaning when my father died on November 1, 1984, exactly thirty three years ago today. Three days ago my older brother turned 50 and as I was on Skype chatting with everyone, the family gathered to celebrate his birthday, I was reminded once again that my father died at age 51 — really young.  Continue reading

Christmas in January . . . The Pine Cones

It was colder in London yesterday, very grey with temperatures in the low 40s. It felt like a blank day. In the afternoon I decided to do some tidying up. I felt burdened with the problem of the day (involving some of our young people at church), and didn’t feel like doing any reading or writing so I began to look around to see what project I could get into to relax my mind. All of a sudden my attention turned into all of the stuff we used during the holiday season that need to be put away — all the Christmas ornaments, the silver fruit baskets, the placemats and napkins that are only used on special occasion, and many other things that were scattered everywhere. As I was carefully putting everything away, the pine cones caught my attention. I picked them up from the park in early December and painted some of the edges with white nail polish. These are natural and not artificial or man-made; a rather simple but unique pieces of ornament, all in different sizes. They reminded me of God and His beautiful creation. I wrapped each one of them with plastic, and carefully laid them out one by one inside a white box. Continue reading