It is interesting to know that we have several historical religious structures within the capital city of Manila that are comparable to those that can be seen in European cities. Credit goes to the long period of Spanish colonization that lasted for over 300 years from 1521 to 1898. We managed to visit some of them to complete the station of the cross on Good Friday, a Filipino religious tradition done during the Lenten Season.
The sad part though, we lack the interest and the resources for their proper preservation and upkeep. Many of our historical churches are either altered after renovation while some showed to have been given little importance at all.
Century old churches can be found everywhere in the country’s more than 7,000 islands. They are vestiges of our colonial past. While it is hard to diminish that part in our history, we should put those structures to a beneficial use. They are interesting tourist attractions just like our beautiful beaches.
A short story: it was over before it started
“We got to start somewhere,” he said. They were inside his hotel room; it was their first meeting since their friendship started nearly three years ago. Theirs was an unusual friendship. They met on the net and after some exchanges of communications, they became friends. They can talk about anything, from personal to universal and even sensual (as he called it).
She knows him as the person who values his independence and who enjoys his single-blessedness. He inspires her with his very positive outlook in life. He is aware of her current situation, she could cry to him whenever she is down and lonely.
Tall, blue-eyed and with neatly shaven silver gray hair, she met him at the central train station one weekend when he visited her. She found no difficulty in recognizing him as he walked towards her. He looks exactly the same as his projection on the computer screen though he is bigger in real life. He too confided that he immediately recognized her thinking there was no other woman around to meet him.
They proceeded to his hotel room which was just a stone throw away from the station. They stayed there until the wee hours in the morning. At first, he was seated on a chair at the right foot side of the bed while she snuggled comfortably on a couch on the left side of the head board. They talked about the calamity that recently hit Japan, the uprising in the Middle East and the African countries and their country’s involvement in Afghanistan.
The exchange of their ideas became too heavy, she felt they have to change topic. She suggested that they draw a plan how he is going to enjoy his short visit. Though it was not his first time to the city, he said that he has not explored the place and had been only there on business trips.
Meanwhile, she felt a little discomfort when he rose from his chair, decided to occupy the right side of the twin-sized bed saying “I am tired.” She could not understand whether the discomfort came as he took off his shoes which emitted some smell or because he will lie in bed. She was engulfed with mixed feelings she asked herself; shall I leave now, shall I remain on my seat or shall I join him in bed?
She decided to sit still but it did not take too long, she joined him in bed. Whether for comfort or anything, she did not care to understand. The bed has enough room for two; she laid the hardbound coffee table book and continued reading. She was impressed by his rich knowledge on their culture and history and the current events. He provided more information on almost every place, people and event she read to him. He seems to have ideas on almost about anything. He even knows how to make clear, crystal ice cubes.
Their nearness allowed him to hold her hand which looked like a child’s hand on his big palm. “You are feeling cold” he blurted as he touched her cold hand. He gently whisks her hand, rises up and adjusted the control of the room temperature. “It will be warmer, you’ll feel comfortable now,” he said as he returned to bed.
She remained seated while reading until he gently pulled her towards him. They soon lie side by side and their conversation shifted to a more personal topic. She asked why he decided to see her. Couldn’t think of any good reason perhaps, to explain his sudden interest to meet her, he answered “because of curiosity.” He added that it was probably the same reason why she was there. They remained in their intimate position, his arms wrapped around her with their fingers crossed together. And as silence engulfed them, she decided to leave.
She jumped off the bed, pulled her creased woollen long-sleeve blouse and combed her hair. He then stood behind her and helped her with her coat. They were in front of a full-length mirror which reflected their contrasting personalities, tall and petite, fair and brown. He said during their meeting the following day that he could have undressed her on that moment to stop her from leaving but he did not “out of respect” knowing she’s going home.
He sent her off to the train station. While waiting for her ride, she was trying to think of the reason why she indeed consented to meet him. Was it really plain curiosity? Curious on why he remains single despite his age? Has their friendship weighed on her? Should there be a special reason why she went to meet him, stayed with him and promised to meet him again the next day?
Despite some apprehensions, she was, however, happy meeting him. To her it was a significant meeting. It rekindled lost feelings that were not necessarily related to him. She was like a lost child, she found comfort inside his arms as she snuggled her head in his chest. It was a short, swift moment of happiness that allowed her to be herself again…sweet, happy, conversational and carefree.
Their closeness did not stop when he went back to his place….they talk whenever it was possible, exchange short sweet messages and dream together of meeting again, sometime, anywhere.
But things have become different. ….the sweet notes became scarce, there were less talk and there were days of no talk and no notes at all… She feels that just as she is beginning to become closer to him, he is starting to go farther.
“We got to start somewhere…” whatever he means when he said it will remain a puzzle. Will there be a next meeting? Time can only tell….She strongly feels that whatever there is or will be between them was over even before it formally started…as to why, she can never say….
A note to self
Hi Gloria, felicitations on your half-century and five years of existence. You know you are tough, after having been to the door of death twice, you are still there enjoying the gift of life.
You have gone through many difficult and some extreme challenges but you remain unperturbed. Your face shows no traces of pain nor failure. You have perfected the act of smiling even under duress. No one will expect that beyond your smiley face, streams of tears have cascaded.
As you add another year to your lifeline, it is about time you focus on living your life; see more places, visit more flea markets, accomplish your dream of writing your memoir, and publish your book of poems.
I know you have a hard time getting over the idea that your working life is over, but do not fret. Be happy that you do not have the need to get up early and join the long queue at LRT/MRT to go to work on time. From a weary commuter, you now fly conveniently onboard a jumbo bird seeing places. You should realize that beyond your hard life, you are more blessed than unfortunate.
By this time, you should have also learned how to be a bit selfish, do things that will give you joy without feeling guilty. Being conscientious to your needs is not a crime, this you should always keep in your mind. And always remember that happiness depends solely on your own choices.
Continue to be what you are and not others want you to be.
There are so many things that I want to tell you but I will keep them for the next time. For now, enjoy the moment with your children. I know they are the jewels in your crown, your citadel of strength and hope.
You are lucky and privileged to be more than their mom; you are their friend, their buddy, and their obscure critic. You may not be a successful wife but surely you have done great being a mother.
Have a happy birthday and continue living your life!