Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Sister, My Inspiration

"The person who stabbed me only got a suspended sentence...I got life"

Those were written in bold letters in the newspaper that I found while rummaging in the package sent by my sisters from Ireland thru a friend who visited today. I couldn't believe that I was staring at the picture of my sister in an International newspaper!

It was a year ago when my sister was stabbed at the back by a psychiatric patient. She celebrated her 30th birthday in ICU. It was ironic but we both celebrated our birthdays last year in strange way.

Despite of the trauma that befall her in a foreign country, my sister took care of me and gave me strength during the time I got terribly ill. She's only two years older than me so we grew up together and attended the same schools in elementary and high school.

She's intelligent (99+ in NCEE/English!) and very sensible woman who grew up practically without an enemy. A silent worker and very studious from whom I learned the value of humility. I remember back in high school my younger sister, Angel, and I would discover on their bulletin board that she's the top in academics and we would broadcast it to the whole family but she remained silent to her feat.

It's also from her that I got inspiration to work on my skills in computer. She taught for quite some time as Computer teacher in a public high school. More than these qualities that made friends and family admire her was that sense of dedication in everything she does.

I was in school early that morning when I received the call informing me of the tragedy that happened to her. We were helpless to do anything about it because she was thousand miles away from us. My brother and her beau, Tony took care of her since that time my other sister's family (Con's) was also in vacation here in the Philippines.

When she visited last April, she told me stories like how she was brought to the hospital. She tried to remove the knife 3 inches into her back! Her x-ray showed that of the knife and the cross in her necklace. Her room was filled with flowers and cards mostly from unknown people who just sympathized with what happened to her. Oh, she made it actually not only in the front page of different newspapers but also to the radio and television news.

I realized the time she was telling me these stories how brave my sister was. I can't say that she has recovered fully to what happened to her specially that the man who caused her so much pain was only given a five-year-suspended sentence but I knew inside that small body of hers is a brave heart.

I'm thankful also that she has Tony who's making her courageous in this battle. I know time heals all wounds and soon even the scars will fade away. 

How Far Will You Go for Your Faith?

Two were confirmed death, more than thirty others were isn't that the same scene I was mulling over this morning?

The evening news finally confirmed what I feared this morning- that the news will be dominated again by fatalities of the procession held in honor of the Black Nazarene of Quaipo.

Now, don't get the wrong idea. I have nothing against procession or any other Religious activities for that matter. But, isn't it amazing how a supposedly religious activity like this ended up? Tragedy.

If only we will learn how to make the tradition more meaningful. That's quite a wistful thinking I know. But then, isn't it what faith is all about?

I knew it. History indeed repeats itself.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Unquestionable Faith?

I was a bit flushed because of a slight fever when I woke up this morning. So, right after my morning routine, I decided to go back sleeping.

But sleep was elusive so I decided to switch channels and look for interesting shows instead. There on screen, I was greeted with a large throng of devotees of Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

Thousands of people would be joining the procession around the Quiapo area to honor the black life-size image of Nazarene which originally came from Mexico including of course no less than the Vice- President of the Philippines who is a known devotee.

It never failed to amaze me the conjecture of activities like this. Just the other day if I am not mistaken, the same Religious activity caused an accident to many devotees including the death of a twelve-year-old boy. The boat hit a live wire while they were having a fluvial procession.

Idolatry? Fanaticism? Devotion? or just plain and simple unquestionable faith?

Back in Naga City where I've finished schooling and worked for five years, the same activity is being held every year. Traslacion, Fluvial Procession, then as the years go by the activities became endless (sometimes, you won't see anymore the connection to the festivity- like having a street party or beauty contest).

But, the image of the activity I could never forget was the time when I was in third year high school where I've got to see the celebration only in TV. It was unbelievable! Priests tried to stop devotees from ripping the cloth of the image of Virgin of Peñafrancia. Drank voyadores (they call voyadores the men who carried the image) were shouting, some people who were about to faint were being thrown out of the crowd. My heart lurched many times when the image swayed left and right ready to fall but the ever attending priests tried to save the Patroness of Bicolandia.

Years later, I've got to experience first hand the Traslacion because the school where I taught was a Catholic school. It was a far cry from the one I saw on TV. We were first in the long line with my pupils in a formal attire. It was a solemn one because we were praying the rosary until Naga Metropolitan Cathedral. However, when I was home again and while watching TV, I couldn't believe it when I saw the same scenes back when I was in high school. What happened?

Then, I realized we were very far from the image that's why we didn't really see what was happening. The shouting, the foul smell of voyadores, then that uncontrollable desire of some devotees to touch the image even if it means shredding the Patroness with flowers that adorn her. The organizers tried every year to make the celebration a solemn one but it seems that some are just simply hardheaded.

I grew up with deep belief in God. The kind of belief that doesn't question where the origin of belief rooted from. However, I learned also that pure "faith" doesn't need to be shown in activities like these. I mean, if you can commemorate the feast in a solemn way like praying in a quiet corner, why not do so?

As far as I know Jesus by reading the bible, He communicated to His Father through deep communion in a quiet corner any time He wants it.
Why do we need for the feast itself to show our devotion? Why can't we pray everyday to show our love or rather why can't we have a celebration like a procession where solemnity will prevail? Sacrifice doesn't need really to be out in the street, join the crowd, endanger your life, walk bare-footed, and shout how much you love God.

I'm dreading watching the news tonight because I know just like every year, they would feature again those who get hurt or in some years those who died because of the large crowd. History really repeats itself. (Niña)

A Childhood Dream

About twelve years ago, we were asked by my high school teacher to draw the things that we could envision in our future. I made it very fast though I didn't know much about drawing. Maybe it was that silent conviction that I was sure what I wanted to happen in my future.

The drawing was simple, a newspaper headline with my name - Atty. Niña Buena made it again! Obviously, I had no idea yet about the rules in headline writing before. Then on the left side was a family in a beautiful (if you can consider my drawing beautiful enough) house and car.

I had no idea chasing dreams was not that easy. If the measurement of success will fall into the category of finishing law, in my case then, I guess I failed.

But then, with how my chosen profession turned out, did I really fail? I did make it in the newspaper, radio and TV news only that not as a successful lawyer but as a teacher. My name was also into countless streamers for my feat. Let's say, I became a bit known and recognized in my craft. Will that suffice? I actually have no answer.

If the measurement of success will fall into the category of finishing law, in my case then, I guess I failed.

Years later, I've found myself with an introduction enough to blast a whole stadium. I'm a frustrated writer. Do you get it? I'm a frustrated writer...I'm a frustrated writer...I'm blah blah blah. Every cell of my body is screaming to write but then again that shadows of doubt started to plague me again.

Dreams and plans are actually different. I planned for my future 12 years ago with that simple drawing then I started having dreams. But, I never got into realizing them. Will I let the shadows cloud my fervor to make a difference? I don't think so. Not this time anyway.

I've started with a book but I can't get myself to finish it. I was stuck with 1/4 of a book I promised to budding writers.

Where will the inspiration then root from in chasing my dream? Love, that is.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Difference of Innocence and Naivety

With my nieces, Shayne and Trisha. 

The house is filled with a deafening silence...the clock ticks like the sound of approaching death...I look at the mountain of work waiting for me and my heart was about to burst out...then...

Hey, don't take me so seriously. Quite the contrary, I'm not back to my insignia of complex words or deep (way too deep to grasp at times) elaboration of my miseries. Neither I was beseeched again with unforeseen melancholic drama that consumed my whole being- body and spirit. Ugh! Tough.

Well, I was just mulling over some thoughts that seem to draw my attention lately. Like not doing anything worthwhile (another ugh!), getting the habit of grinning ears to ears even when my nieces are talking about something quite dramatic. (Now, that's alarming, right?)

Oh, there's another thing, thinking about words and looking at them closely. It's hard to explain but more of I'm correlating finally uses of words with daily experiences. Still not getting it? Sort of a delusion, a mirage, figments yet real.

Like when you say, "I hate you", you can not see the words yet you could feel the vehemence of the tongue. The power of the words in our lives, that's it!

If you say, "you are ignorant", well, that's mean. If you say,"you are innocent" more of an admiration. Then there's "naivety". A compliment or an insult? Well, it depends really to the speaker and the receiver.

Innocence on the other hand is a word that tends to be abused. Some would say "You are very innocent" but actually the speaker meant, "you're stupid and ignorant!". 

Conversely, children will always have that innocence in their hearts. Why do I say that?

Well, last New Year I heard mass together with my two nieces- Shayne and Trisha. The two were quiet the whole time. Then came the "offering of the sign of the peace", I kissed the two of them and when Trisha glanced in front, she saw this cute little girl. Instantly, their faces lit up. They both waved their hands. No, she's not Trisha's classmate nor a friend. They both didn't know each other.

The waving was added with that pure smile one could only surmise it came directly from the heart. Before I knew it, the little girl told Trisha she's Pauline and she's four years old, she wants to study in Trisha's school, and she "demanded" to know also Trisha's name and age. Trisha then asked the ages and names of her companions.

It was a wonder looking at them. All these happened while they were singing mass hymns, kneeling, and praying. Shayne was shy at first but ended up hugging and kissing the little girl. Everything occurred for about 15 mins. The three kids plus adult companions ended up best of friends. It was hard to separate the three kids when we were about to go home.

The kids' minds were not yet tainted with suspicions. They acted exactly with what they've felt. No second thoughts, no hesitations, no reservations. Pure Innocence.

Then there's naivety. Exactly, how can you say a person is naive?

Well, my friend, Merriam (online dictionary, that is), states that a person is naive if she is deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment. Sort of not yet corrupted? It could be.

Is it bad then or good to be naive? As I said, it depends on the situation really. I would love to be called naive if it means my ideology was not yet tainted but I would hate to be called naive if it means I'm being treated as an ignorant.

Let's talk about love. When you fall in love, will the innocence remain? yes, maybe. But, naivety will not. After all, it's a process where you've got to learn things that can't be found in any best-selling books. Shared moments...shared learnings...

Innocence and naivety therefore are both transient- ephemeral? yeah, exactly! As we sail through life, both will be washed away. Like footprints in the sand. As time passes by the waves of life will fade the mark. Then, kaput.

Nooooo. I won't end it like that. Not ruined really. The innocence and naivety might be gone but then the person ends up wiser, stronger and more intelligent than ever! There, that's it!

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