Saturday, June 25, 2011

The People I want to meet in heaven

Dear insansapinas,

Two of the books that I treasured most are Tuesdays with Morrie and Five People I Met in Heaven, both by the same author Mitch Albom. Tuesdays with Morrie was a book that I read while taking care of my father-in-law who was then dying. By the way, his anniversary was a few days ago. He taught me several things in life without being preachy. Five People That I Met in Heaven was a book that was made into a movie starring John Voight, the father of Angelina Jolie. Among the people he met in heaven was a Filipina girl. All these people, he realized have significantly affected him. I too have a list of these people who in one way or another I met in my  journey in this  life. It made me realize that indeed God works in mysterious ways by sending us people when we need them at different stages of our life.

This morning while my brother drove me to the hospital, I remembered these people. They are not only five but more.They came at the point in my life when I was in need of someone to hold my hand and lead me where I should go.

1. Husband and Wife 

The husband was the principal in our school and his wife was my teacher in Vocational Arts. They were not even aware that they were helping the same girl who lost a father.

I was enjoying  scholarship in that private school because I maintained a certain average grade. My father died in February and in March I learned that I was awarded again the scholarship. But there was uncertainty if I could go back to school.  Although my mother received death benefits, she was reluctant to send us back to school and was contemplating on going back to Bicol since we did not have any relatives in that province. I can not blame her, she was left with eight children and was scared how she can manage us with our eldest still in the first year college. She believed that the money would not last long. She was a stay-at-home-mom.

Enrolment came. I went to school not to enrol but  to ask the principal if he could postpone my scholarship until I can afford to use it when I had money for stipend and books.

His was the kindest face that  I ever saw at that time when I was torn between disobeying my mom and hoping that she would change her decision.

The principal asked me to enrol. He said that he was going to take care of my books and stipends by recommending me to his friend. My mom allowed me to enrol but she said that she could not guarantee that we would stay.

The principal had a wife. She was teaching in the Vocational Arts. Rumor was, she made "pikot"  of her husband. She was really homely but she was a smart dresser. The former fiancee of the husband was renting in their big house. She was also a teacher. She was beautiful and she remained single all her life. May be my teacher  loved her husband very  much that she allowed them to see each other.

The principal and the wife rarely talked to each other. That was I was getting from the bunch of tsismosong students and teachers. The son was adopted ( he was too young a son for the couple that could be more of a grandson at their age.) 

But to me the couple was heaven sent. The teacher, knowing that I could not afford to buy materials for the projects in the class, she  gave me what I needed when she saw that I was good in arts. In vocational subjects, we were taught how to crochet (para bang ihahanda kami sa aming retirement na maggagantsilyo na lang sa tumba-tumba pag matanda na). I was also good in combination of colors and in drawing. (ahem, I was hoping to take Fine Arts when I grew up).

But as planned, my mother packed all our things and left for  Bicol after the school year. I never had the chance to say good bye to this couple before I left. Years passed and I went back to the school. The principal was already retired and took off while the wife died of illness. By that time, he too had gone to heaven.

2. The Fashionista

After spending a few months in Bicol and realized that even our relatives could not be expected to give a hand to help my mom raised us, she loaded us to the jeepney that she bought from the insurance and death benefits and braved the bitukang manok (this was a serpentine road in the Bicol Region) to bring us to Manila where she was sure that there were good schools where we could enrol.

After arriving in the city, she held a conference among us children that we should be helping each other. The elder ones, to look for jobs and enrol in the school (that was a tall order) and the young ones to be good in school. I suggested that I should apply for a bus conductor. hehehehe. My mother almost "choked" me. Ako na madaling mahilo sa sasakyan? Sabi niya, I should help take care of the young ones daw.

Eh pasaway nga. One day, I boarded a bus and tried to stand  the whole duration of the trip. Pag biglang hinto ng bus, tilapon ako either sa harap o sa likod. The driver was irritated why I could not  sit down when there were vacant seats. I could not tell him that I was trying to feel how it was to be a bus conductor. hahahaha.

But where is the fashionista?
Siya yong couturier na sinasabi ko. When I accompanied my cousin and her seamstresses to deliver dresses that she sew at home, I tagged along with them. The designer told my cousin that he liked me. My cousin naman did not think that it was with malice kasi nga bakla siya. Nakita raw niya na mukha aking mabait (lalo pag tulog, toinkk and saw me I was engrossed in looking at his workers designing clothes with beads, appliques and ribbons. Ano ako, pusa na gusto na lang ampunin?)( Nandoon pa rin ang aking love sa Arts, ahem).

He took me under his wings and taught me how to design, where to haggle fabrics in Divisoria and how to speak the kapatiran's Lingo. Chos. After a few months, I was already limp wristed and my hips were swaying like a pendulum. Color me Mini-masquerading bakla.  But he allowed me to continue my studies. 

He did not only teach me about life; he intimated to me how he struggled to be accepted by his family; how he made "takas " from his arranged wedding and how he broke his heart several times for loving men who were just after the money.

I had to leave him to concentrate in my studies later. That was after his boylet of several years took a wife and he adopted the baby of his househelp. When I came back after years, the shop was gone and no one can tell me where he moved.

3. The Executive Secretary

She was the old woman I was talking about in my other article (Inggit). When she received the poison letter from my traidor na friend and kaklase, instead of forwarding it to the President who already accepted me to teach, she gave it to me and warned me to be careful with friends. While I was a newbie in the university which I found out was also full of intrigues and backbiting people, she was watching my back. Sabi niya, mukha raw ako kasing NAIVE. She retired after a few more years and may have died due to old age.

4. The Boss

He was a dean of the Graduate School but he was also the acting dean of the college of business.   He did not accept me when I applied to teach in the College undergraduate. Sabi niya, baka raw paborito lang ako sa university ko kaya ako pinagturo.   Masyado raw mabait ang aking mukha. At my age, baka raw lokohin lang ako ng mga istudyent. He suggested that I enrol in the Graduate school and shed my blue jeans and my boy shoes. 

So I enroled. One night while he was walking thru the corridor of the classrooms, he heard loud voices from one of the classrooms. Ako iyon and my professor who was a CPA and a VP of a conglomerate. We were arguing about some financial data and strategies. 

He stopped outside the door and watched us. The next morning, he called me to his office. May reklamo raw yong professor. Ang lakas daw ng boses ko at matapang. Akala ko tatanggalin niya ako sa program. On the contrary, he offered me a part time job  in his consultancy business and taught me the  ins and outs of establishing schools, companies and sent me to audit most of his clients. 

He also taught me how to deliver lectures in seminars. I've developed mine. I always incorporated blind items in between lectures. Yong mga interesado lang sa certificate of "disappearance" nagiging interesadong makinig.

My boss has a prostate cancer but is still undergoing treatment. He had already visited me several times here in the US and in the Philippines whenever I took a vacation.

5. The Doctor and his wife

The doctor was my father-in-law. The first time I met him, (I was just a substitute for someone who called in sick) he told me he liked me as a person. (ang dami kong nadadaya talaga). That was before I met his son na kontra pelo sa akin. His wife was also very kind. She was the one who was suggested that I write a book about her husband's conversations with me. She died in 2005 without even seeing a cover of the book I promised. Hindi ko magawa. Hindi ko magawang seryoso. 

6. A Man

I met him at the time I felt so alone in the US not because I did not have acquaintances but because I do not have somebody to talk to who can teach me what I still do not know. Minsan naghahanap ka ng isang tao na pareho ang likaw ng inyong utak. Yon bang pati ang mga jokes ay pareho. I met him and he taught me about life and knowledge which I did not get from the universities and books. We frequented libraries and swapped books. We shared the same passion--ART.


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